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The Crowning Point of the Period War with Antiochus 
Sidetes Siege of Jerusalem Treaty of Peace The Parthian 
War Hyrcanus joins Antiochus Successful campaigns of 
Hyrcanus against the Samaritans and Idumseans The 
Idumaeans forced to embrace Judaism Destruction of the 
Samaritan Temple at Gerizim and of the Capital, Samaria- 
Internal Affairs The Parties : Pharisees, Sadducees and 
Essenes Their Rise and Constitution Their Doctrines and 
their Relations to one another The Synhedrion Strained 
Relations between Hyrcanus and the Pharisees Death of 
Hyrcanus ............... page i 

135 106 B. c. E. 


Character of Aristobulus Antigonus Mythical Account of his 
Death Alexander Jannaeus : his Character and Enterprises 

-His Support of the Pharisees Simon ben Shetach 
Alexander's Breach with the Pharisees, and its Consequences 

-His last Wars and Death Salome Alexandra's Relations 
to the Opposing Parties The Synhedrion Judah ben Tabba, 
and Simon ben Shetach Institutions against the Sadducees 

Party Hatred Diogenes Persecution of the Sadducees 
Death of Alexandra ........... page 35 

106 69 B. c. E. 


Brothers contend for the throne Arrangement between the 
Brothers The Idumaean Antipater Hyrcanus's weakness 
Aretas besieges Jerusalem Interference of Rome Pompey 
at Jerusalem The Judaean colony in Rome Flaccus in Asia 
Minor Cicero's oration against the Judasans Weakening 
of the power of the Synhedrion Shemaya and Abtalion- 
Violent death of Aristobulus and his son Alexander Julius 


Caesar and the Judaeans Antipater's sons Phasael and Herod 

Herod before the Synhedrion Operations of Cassius 

in Judaea Malich Antigonus as King Herod escapes to 

Rome page 57 

69 40 B. c. E. 


Weakness of Antigonus and Herod's Strength of Character 
Contest for the Throne Herod becomes King Proscriptions 
and Confiscations Herod's Policy Abolition of the Heredi- 
tary Tenure of the High Priesthood Death of the High 
Priest Aristobulus War with the Arabians The Earth- 
quake Death of the last of the Hasmonaeans Hillel be- 
comes the Head of the Synhedrion His System of Tradition 
Menahem the Essene Shammai and his School Ma- 
riamne Herod's Magnificence and Passion for Building 
Herod rebuilds the Temple Herod executes his Sons Alex- 
ander and Aristobulus Antipater and his Intrigues The 
Pharisees under Herod The Destruction of the Roman 
Eagle Execution of Antipater and Death of Herod. 

page 84 
40 3 B. c. E. 



The Family of Herod Partition of the Kingdom of Judaea 
Revolt against Archelaus Sabinus and Varus The Adven- 
turer-Chief Judas the Galilaean Confirmation of Herod's 
Will Archelaus as Ruler His brief Reign and his Banish- 
ment Judaea becomes a Roman Province The Revolt 
against the Census The Schools of Hillel and Shammai 
Judas Founder of the Party of Zealots Onerous Taxation- 
Fresh Hostility of the Samaritans Expulsion of the Judaeans 
from Rome by Tiberias Pontius Pilate . . . page 118 

3 B. c. E. 37 c. E. 


The Messianic Hope Various Conceptions of the Expected 
Messiah The Essene Idea of the Kingdom of Heaven- 
John the Baptist, his Work and Imprisonment Jesus of 
Nazareth continues John's Labors Story of his Birth His 
Success His Relations to Judaism and the Sects His 


Miraculous Healing of the Sick and Exorcism of Demons 
His Secret Appearance as the Messiah His Journey to 
Judaea Accusations against him, and his Condemnation 
The First Christian Community and its Chiefs The Ebion- 
ites Removal of Pilate from Judasa Vitellius, Governor of 
Syria, favors the Judaeans Page 141 

28 37 c. E. 


Character of Agrippa Envy of the Alexandrian Greeks 
towards the Judaeans Anti-Judaean Literature Apion 
Measures against the Judaeans in Alexandria Flaccus 
Judaean Embassy to Rome Philo Caligula's Decision 
against the Judaean Embassy Caligula orders his Statue to 
be placed in the Temple The Death of Caligula relieves 
the Judaeans Agrippa's Advance under Claudius His 
Reign Gamaliel the Elder and his Administration Death 
of Agrippa Herod II The False Messiah, Theudas 
Death of Herod II page 174 

3749 c. E. 


Distribution of the Judaeans in the Roman Empire and in 
Parthia Relations of the various Judaean Colonies to the 
Synhedrion Judaean Bandits in Naarda Heathen Attacks 
upon Judaism Counter Attacks upon Heathenism by 
Judaean Writers The Judaean Sibyls The Anti-heathen 
Literature The Book of Wisdom The Allegorists Philo's 
Aims and Philosophical System Proselytes The Royal 
House of Adiabene The Proselyte Queen Helen The 
Apostle Paul His Character Change in his Attitude 
towards the Pharisees His Activity as a Conversionist- 
His Treatment of the Law of Moses The Doctrines of 
Peter Judaic-Christians and Heathen Christians . page 200 

40 49 c. E. 


Position of Affairs in Judaea Roman Oppression Character 
of Agrippa II --The last High Priest The Zealots and the 
Sicarii Eleazar ben Dina'i Quarrel with the Samaritans- 
Violence in Caesarea The Procurators Florus Insurrec- 


tion in Csesarea Bloodshed in Jerusalem The Peace and 
War Parties The Leader of the Zealots Eleazar ben 
Ananias Menahem, chief of the Zealots Massacres of 
Heathens and Judaeans Defeat of the Romans The Syn- 
hedrion and its President, Simon ben Gamaliel Position of 
the Synhedrion page 233 

49 66 c. E. 


Description of Galilee Its Population and Importance The 
Rising in Galilee John of Gischala Flavius Josephus, his 
Education and Character His Conduct as Governor of 
Galilee Commencement of the War Overthrow of Gabara 
Siege and Capture of Jotapata Surrender of Josephus to 
the Romans Cruelty of Vespasian Siege and Capture of 
Gamala and Mount Tabor Surrender of Gischala Escape 
of John of Gischala to Jerusalem page 272 

66 67 c. E. 


Galilaean Fugitives in Jerusalem Condition of the Capital- 
Internal Contests The Idumaeans Eleazar ben Simon, John 
of Gischala, and Simon Bar-Giora Progress of the War- 
Affairs in Rome Vespasian created Emperor Siege of 
Jerusalem by Titus Heroic Defense Famine Fall of the 
Fortress Antonia Burning of the Temple Destruction of 
the City Number of the Slain page 291 

67 70 c. E. 


Sufferings of the Prisoners The Arena Cruelty of Titus 
Enmity of the Antiochians Triumph of the Emperor on the 
occasion of the Conquest of Judaea End of Simon Bar- 
Giora and John of Gischala Coins to Commemorate the 
Roman Triumph Fall of the last Fortresses : Herodium, 
Masada, and Machaerus Resistance of the Zealots in Alex- 
andria and Cyrene End of the Temple of Onias The Last 
of the Zealots Death of Berenice and Agrippa -Flavins 
Josephus and his Writings page y.\ 

7073 c. E. 




Foundation of the School at Jabne Jochanan ben Zakkai 
The Last of the Herodians Judaea and Rome The Tana- 
ites Gamaliel II. appointed Patriarch The Power of 
Excommunication Deposition and Restoration of the Patri- 
arch Steps towards Collecting the Mishna Eliezer ben 
Hyrcanus Joshua ben Chananya -Akiba and his System 
Ishmael Condition of the Synhedrion . . . page 321 

70 117 c. E. 


Inner Life of the Jews Sphere of Action of the Synhedrion 
and the Patriarch The Order of Members and Moral Con- 
dition of the Common People Relation of Christianity 
towards Judaism Sects Jewish Christians Pagan Chris- 
tians Ebionites Nazarenes The Gnostics Regulations of 
the Synhedrion against Christianity Proselytes at Rome 
Aquilas and his translation of the Bible Berenice and Titus 
Domitian Josephus and the Romans . . . page 360 



Trajan and Asia Revolt of the Jews Hadrian The Jewish 

Sibylline Books The Attempted Rebuilding of the Temple 

-The Ordinances of Usha Bar-Cochba Akiba's Part in 

the War Bar-Cochba's Victories Suppression of the Revolt 

Siege and Fall of Bethar page 393 

96 138 c. E. 



Turnus Rufus persecutes the Jews The Ten Martyrs The 
Book of Tobit Relations between Judaism and Christianity 
-The Return of the Schools to Palestine The Synod at 
Usha Meir Simon ben Jochai The Babylonian Synhe- 
drion Antonius Pius and Aurelius Verus The Revolt 
against Rome The Patriarchate of Simon . . page 421 

135 T 7 c - E - 




The Patriarch Judah I. His Authority and Reputation- 
Completion of the Mishna The Last Generation of Tanaites 
Condition of the Jews under Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, 
Septimius Severus, and Antonius Caracalla Character and 
contents of the Mishna Death of Judah . . . page 450 

175219 c. E. 


Judah II. Friendliness of Alexander Severus toxvards the 
Jews Joshua ben Levi Hillel instructs Origen in Hebrew 
-The Hexapla The Palestinean Amoraim Chanina 
Jochanan Simon ben Lakish Joshua, the Hero of Fable 
Simlai, the Philosophical Agadist Porphyry comments 
on the Book of Daniel P a S e 479 

219 280 c. E. 


Increasing importance of the Jewish Community in Babylonia 
The Prince of the Captivity The Babylonian Amoraim 
Abba Areka (Rab) and his royal friend Artaban Samuel 
and King Shabur Important Political Changes under the 
Neo-Persians Anarchy in Rome Zenobia and the Jews. 

page 503 
219 279 c. E. 



The Amoraim in Palestine Ami and Assi The Brothers 
Chiya and Simon Bar Abba in Tiberias Abbahu in Caesarea 
The Emperor Diocletian Complete Separation from the 
Samaritans Character and Political Position of Abbahu 
Huna in Babylonia Chama's Generosity Huna's Contem- 
poraries and Successors Judah ben Ezekiel Chasda of 
Cafri MarSheshet Nachman bar Jacob Ze'ira . page 531 

279 320 c. E. 





Hillel II. His Calendar Heads of Judaean Schools: Jonah, 
Jose", and Jeremiah The Expansion of Christianity Con 
stantine The Decadence of the Jewish Schools in Babylonia 
-The Pumbeditha School Development of Talmudical 
Dialectics The Persian Queen Ifra and her son Shabur II. 
The Emperor Julian Favor shown towards the Jews- 
Proposed Rebuilding of the Temple Roman Tolerance. 

page 559 

320375 C. E. 



Decline of the Roman Empire Ashi and the Redaction of 
the Talmud Jezdijird II The Jews under the Emperor 
Theodosius I and his successors The extinction of the 
Patriarchate Chrysostom and Ambrosius Fanaticism of 
the Clergy Jerome and his Jewish Teachers Mar-Zutra 
Fifth and Sixth Generations of Amoraim The Jews under 
Firuz Jewish Colonies in India Completion of the Baby- 
lonian Talmud Its Spirit and Contents . . . page 604 

375 5 c - E - 




The Crowning Point of the Period War with Antiochus Sidetes 
Siege of Jerusalem Treaty of Peace The Parthian War 
Hyrcanus joins Antiochus Successful campaigns of Hyrcanus 
against the Samaritans and Iclumseans The Idumaeans forced 
to embrace Judaism Destruction of the Samaritan Temple 
at Gerizim and of the Capital, Samaria Internal Affairs The 
Parties : Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes, their Rise and Con- 
stitution Their Doctrines and their Relations to one another 
The Synhedrion Strained Relations between Hyrcanus and the 
Pharisees Death of Hyrcanus. 

135106 B. c. E. 

THE reign of Hyrcanus is at once the pinnacle and 
the turning-point of this period. He not only car- 
ried on his father's work, but completed it. Under 
his predecessors Judaea was confined to a narrow 
space, and even within these bounds there were 
territories in the possession of foreign foes. Hyr- 
canus enlarged the boundaries to the north and to 
the south, and thus released the State from the exter- 
nal pressure that had been restricting its growth. 
His genius for war was aided by fortunate circum- 
stances in bringing about these happy results. 

If the reign of Hyrcanus corresponds in brilliancy 
to that of Solomon, it resembles it also in another 
respect: both reigns commenced and ended amid 
disturbance, sadness and gloom, while the middle of 
each reign was happy and prosperous. When Solo- 
mon first came to the throne he was opposed by 


Adonijah, the pretender to the crown, whom he had 
to subdue ; and upon Hyrcanus a similar but more 
difficult task devolved that of carrying on a strug- 
gle with several opponents. One of these oppo- 
nents was his brother-in-law, Ptolemy ben Habub, 
the murderer of his father, who had also sought after 
Hyrcanus's own life. It was only the support of the 
Syrian army, however, which could make Ptolemy 
dangerous, the inhabitants of Jerusalem having in- 
stantly declared themselves in favor of Hyrcanus 
as the successor of the murdered Simon. Still, both 
his safety and his duty called upon him to punish 
this unscrupulous enemy, and to avenge his father's 
death. Hyrcanus hastened, therefore, to attack him 
in his fortress before Antiochus could bring his troops 
to his relief. There is some uncertainty as to the 
progress of this siege and its result ; according to 
one account, evidently somewhat embellished, Hyr- 
canus could not put his whole strength against the 
fortress, because his mother (by some it is said, to- 
gether with his brothers) had been placed on the walls 
by Ptolemy, and was there horribly tortured. Like a 
true Hasmonaean, the heroic woman is said to have 
encouraged her son to continue the siege, without 
heeding her sufferings, and to persevere in his efforts 
until the murderer of her family should receive the 
chastisement due to his crimes. Hyrcanus's heart 
was torn by conflicting feelings ; revenge towards 
his reckless foe urged him on, whilst tender pity for 
his mother held him back. The fact is, however, 
that Hyrcanus withdrew without accomplishing his 
purpose. It may have been the Sabbatical year 
which prevented him from proceeding with the siege, 
or, as is much more likely, his operations may have 
been interrupted by the approach of the Syrian king, 
who was advancing with his army to glean some 
advantage for himself from the troubles and the 
confusion in Judaea. After the withdrawal of Hyr- 
canus's troops, it is said that his mother and brothers 


were put to death by Ptolemy, who fled to Philadel- 
phia, the former Ammonite capital (Rabbath Am- 
mon), where he was favorably received by the 
governor, Zeno Cotylas. The name of Ptolemy is 
no more mentioned, and he disappears altogether 
from the page of history. 

A far greater danger now threatened Hyrcanus 
from Antiochus Sidetes, who was eager to avenge 
the recent defeat sustained by the Syrians (autumn 
135). He marched forth with a large army, devas- 
tated the country round about, and approached the 
capital. Hyrcanus, doubtless feeling himself unable 
to cope with his enemy in the open field, shut him- 
self up behind the strong walls of Jerusalem. An- 
tiochus laid regular siege to the city and encircled 
it with elaborate preparations for its conquest. 
Seven camps were stationed around the city ; on 
the north side, where the country is flat, a hundred 
three-storied towers were erected from which the 
walls could be stormed. A broad double trench 
was likewise made to prevent the sallies of the 
Judseans, who contrived nevertheless to come forth, 
thus bravely impeding the work of the enemy, and 
obstructing the progress of the siege. The Syrian 
army suffered much from the want of water and 
from sickness, the natural consequence of that de- 
ficiency. The besieged were well supplied with 
water, but food became scarce, and Hyrcanus found 
himself compelled to commit an act of cruelty. In 
order to husband the failing provisions, the inhabi- 
tants who could not bear arms were sent out of the 
city. Perhaps the hope was entertained that the 
enemy would take pity on them. But to the de- 
fenseless, foes are seldom generous. They were 
not allowed to pass the lines of the besieging army, 
and were thus exposed to death from both sides. 
In the meantime the summer passed, and still no 
prospect of storming the walls offered itself to the 
Syrians, whilst the Judaeans, on account of the scar- 


city of provisions and the approaching holidays, 
were anxious for a truce. Hyrcanus made the first 
overtures, and asked for a cessation of arms during 
the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. Anti- 
ochus not only granted that request, but sent him 
presents of animals with gilded horns for sacrificial 
purposes, and golden vessels filled with incense. 
Negotiations for peace followed upon this truce. 
Antiochus was urged by his advisers to show the 
greatest severity in his demands upon the Judaeans. 
They reminded him of the policy of Antiochus Epi- 
phanes, who knew no other way of crushing out the 
hatred of mankind felt by the Judaeans than that of 
obliging them to renounce their peculiar laws. If 
Antiochus Sidetes had listened to these prejudiced 
counselors, who saw, according to the biased views 
of that time, nothing but cynical exclusiveness in the 
singular customs of the Judaeans, the cruel wars in 
which the people had fought for their faith would 
have been repeated. Happily for them, Antiochus 
had neither the harshness nor the strength to ven- 
ture upon so dangerous a game. Antiochus con- 
tented himself with destroying the battlements of 
Jerusalem (autumn 134). With that act the dark 
cloud which had menaced the independence of 
Judaea passed away. 

No great injury had been inflicted upon the State, 
and even the traces of disaster that had been left were 
soon obliterated. For Hyrcanus now sent an em- 
bassy to Rome consisting of three delegates: Simon, 
the son of Dositheus, Apollonius, the son of Alex- 
ander, and Diodorus, the son of Jason, to entreat 
the Senate to renew, with the Jewish commonwealth, 
the friendly treaties, which Rome lavishly accorded 
to the smallest nations. At the same time they 
were to complain that Antiochus Sidetes had taken 
possession of several places in Judaea, and among 
them the important fortresses of Joppa and Gazara. 
Rome always sided with the weak against the 


strong, not from a sense of justice but from self- 
interested calculation. She desired especially to 
humble the royal house of the Seleucidse, which 
had occasionally shown her a defiant, or at least a 
haughty mien. The Judaean ambassadors were 
consequently most favorably received, their re- 
quests listened to with attention, and a decree 
issued by which Antiochus was called upon to restore 
the fortresses he had taken, and to forbid his troops 
to march through Judaea ; nor was he to treat its 
inhabitants as his subjects (about 133). Antiochus 
appears to have acquiesced in this decision. 

He was, moreover, obliged to assume a friendly 
demeanor towards Hyrcanus ; for at that moment 
he was meditating an attack against Parthia, which 
had formerly belonged to, but had since separated 
itself from the kingdom of his ancestors. His 
brother, Demetrius Nicator, had likewise undertaken 
an expedition against the Parthians, but had sus- 
tained a defeat, and was kept in imprisonment for 
nearly ten years. Antiochus believed that he would 
be more fortunate than his brother. In addition to 
the army of 80,000 which he had assembled, he 
requested the aid of Judaean troops and of the 
forces of other surrounding nations, and Hyrcanus 
consented to join with his army in the expedition. 
The Syrian king treated his Judaean allies with the 
greatest regard. After a victory gained on the 
banks of the river Zab (Lycus), he ordered, accord- 
ing to the desire of Hyrcanus, that a two days' 
respite should take place, so that the Judaeans might 
celebrate their Sabbath and the festival of the Feast 
of Weeks which followed it (129). 

Fortune, however, had changed sides since the 
time of Antiochus the Great, and no longer favored 
the Seleucidaean dynasty. Antiochus lost his life in 
this campaign, and his brother Demetrius, who had 
been set at liberty by the king of Parthia at the time 
of the invasion of Antiochus, to be opposed to him 


as a rival monarch, now reigned in his brother's 
stead (from 128125). Hated by the Syrians on 
account of his long imprisonment in Parthia, Deme- 
trius was opposed by a rival, Alexander Zabina, 
whom Ptolemy Physcon had set up against him. 
Demetrius was obliged to flee before Zabina, and 
could not even find a refuge in Accho, where his wife 
Cleopatra resided. Syria fell into a state of still 
greater confusion under his successors, when Zabina 
disputed the throne with the legitimate heir, Anti- 
ochus VIII, the latter finding likewise a competitor 
in his brother on the mother's side, Antiochus IX. 
The last pages of the history of Syria are stained 
with crimes caused by the deadly hatred of the 
various members of the Seleucidsean house against 
each other, and with the murders they committed. 
Soon after the death of her husband Demetrius, 
Cleopatra had one of her sons, Seleucus, killed, and 
mixed the poisoned cup for the other one, Antiochus 
Grypus, who forced her to drink it herself. 

Hyrcanus took advantage of this state of anarchy 
and weakness in Syria, which lasted several years, 
to enlarge the boundaries of Judaea, until his country 
attained its former limits. Soon after the death of 
Antiochus Sidetes, the last traces of vassalage to 
which the siege of Jerusalem had reduced Judaea 
were completely wiped out, and even the bonds of 
alliance were canceled, whilst Alexander Zabina 
was grateful to be acknowledged by Hyrcanus 
as king of Syria. It was at this period (124) that 
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, particularly those 
included in the great council, made an appeal to the 
Egyptian community and to the priest, Judas Aristo- 
bulus, teacher to the king, and of priestly lineage, 
to allow the anniversaries of the consecration of the 
Temple and of the victory over the sinners to be 
numbered among the memorial holidays of the 
nation. To strengthen their request they referred 
to the unexpected help which God had given His 


people in the evil days of Antiochus, enabling them 
to restore the sanctuary to its former purity. This 
appeal from Judaea was at the same time a hint to 
the Alexandrian community to acknowledge the new 
conditions that had arisen. 

John Hyrcanus, who until then had acted only in 
self-defense, was now, after the fall of Alexander 
Zabina (123), ready to strike energetically at Syria. 
Judaea at that time was encompassed on three sides 
by foreign tribes : on the south by the Idumaeans, 
on the north by the hated Samaritans, and beyond 
the Jordan by the Greeks, who had never been 
friendly to the Judaeans. Hyrcanus therefore consid- 
ered it his mission to reconquer all those lands, and 
either to expel their inhabitants or to incorporate 
them with the Judaeans ; for so long as foreign and 
hostile tribes existed in the very heart of the coun- 
try, its political independence and religious stability 
would be in constant danger. Not only were these 
hostile peoples ever ready to join surrounding 
nations, and assist them in their greed for conquest, 
but they also often interfered with the religious 
worship of the Judaeans, thus frequently giving rise 
to acts of violence and bloodshed. Hyrcanus was 
consequently impelled by religious as well as by 
political motives to tear up these hotbeds of 
constant disturbance and hostility. 

To accomplish so great a task Hyrcanus required 
all the strength he could muster, and, in order not 
to tax too heavily the military resources of the 
nation, he employed mercenaries, whom, it is said, 
he paid out of the treasures he had found in David's 
sepulcher. The first place he attacked was Medaba, 
in the Jordan district. That city was taken after a 
six months' siege. Then the army moved on 
towards Samega, which, situated on the southern 
end of the Sea of Tiberias, must have been a place 
of great importance to the Judaeans. Next in turn 
came the towns of Samaria ; its capital, Shechem, as 


well as the temple erected on Mount Gerizim, which 
had always been a thorn in the side of the Judseans, 
were destroyed (21 Kislev, about 120). The anni- 
versary of the destruction of this temple (Yom har 
Gerizim) was to be kept with great rejoicing, as the 
commemoration of a peculiarly happy event, and no 
fasting or mourning was ever to mar the brightness 
of the festival. From this time forth the glory of 
the Samaritans waned ; for, although centuries to 
come still found them a peculiar people, and, at the 
present day even, they continue to exist and to offer 
sacrifice on Mount Gerizim, still, from the want of a 
central rallying point, they gradually decreased in 
numbers and prosperity. 

After his victory over the Samaritans, Hyrcanus 
marched against the Idumaeans. This people, 
although fallen very low during the many vicissi- 
tudes of fortune attending the constant changes of 
the Macedonian and Asiatic dynasties, and forced 
by the Nabathaeans to leave their dwellings, had 
alone, among all the tribes related by blood to the 
Judaeans, been able to maintain themselves, and had 
preserved their ancient bitter animosity against 
them undiminished. Hyrcanus laid siege to their 
two fortresses, Adora and Marissa, and after having 
demolished them, gave the Idumaeans the choice 
between acceptance of Judaism and exile. They 
chose the former alternative, and became, out- 
wardly, followers of that faith. The temples of the 
Idumsean idols were, of course, destroyed, but the 
priests secretly adhered to their worship. Thus, after 
more than a thousand years of enmity, Jacob and Esau 
were again united the elder serving the younger 
brother. For the first time Judaism, in the person 
of its head, John Hyrcanus, practised intolerance 
against other faiths, but it soon found out with deep 
pain how highly injurious it is to allow religious zeal 
for the preservation of the faith to degenerate into 
the desire to effect violent conversion of others. 


The enforced union of the sons of Edom with the 
sons of Jacob was fraught only with disaster to the 
latter. It was through the Idumaeans and the 
Romans that the Hasmonaean dynasty was over- 
thrown and the Judaean state destroyed. 

The first result of the conquest of the Idumaeans 
and of their adoption of Judaism was a new contest 
with the city of Samaria, now chiefly inhabited by 
Macedonians and Syrians. A colony of Idumaeans 
had been transplanted from Marissa to the vicinity of 
Samaria. They were attacked and ill-treated by 
their neighbors, who were urged on to their acts of 
aggression by the Syrian kings, Grypus and Cyzi- 
cenus. The latter, who resembled Antiochus Epi- 
phanes in his folly and extravagance, manifested in 
particular a fierce hatred against Hyrcanus. His 
generals invaded Judaea, took several fortresses 
near the sea-coast, and placed a garrison in Joppa. 
Hyrcanus thereupon complained to the Roman 
Senate, which had guaranteed to Judaea the posses- 
sion of this seaport, and sent five ambassadors to 
plead the justice of his cause at Rome. Among 
these was Apollonius, the son of Alexander, who 
had appeared before the Senate in a former embassy. 
Rome replied in fair words to the petition of Hyr- 
canus, and promulgated a decree forbidding Anti- 
ochus Cyzicenus to molest the Judaeans, who were 
the allies of Rome, and commanding him to restore 
all the fortresses, seaports and territories which he 
had seized. It was further ordered that the Judaeans 
should be allowed to ship their goods duty free from 
their ports, a favor not granted to any other allied 
nation or king, excepting the king of Egypt, who 
was regarded as the peculiar friend of Rome, and 
finally that the Syrian garrison should evacuate 
Joppa. Whether the sentence pronounced by Rome 
had any great effect upon Antiochus Cyzicenus or 
not, the fact that it was not adverse to Hyrcanus 
was so far a boon that it strengthened his cause. It 


appears to have restrained Cyzicenus within certain 

When, however, Hyrcanus, bent upon punishing 
Samaria for its enmity to the people of Marissa, 
besieged that city, causing famine within its walls by 
closely surrounding it with trenches and ramparts, 
and thus cutting off every possibility of exit, Cyzice- 
nus came to its assistance. In an engagement with 
Aristobulus, the eldest son of Hyrcanus, who was 
conducting the siege conjointly with his younger 
brother Antigonus, Cyzicenus was defeated and 
forced to flee to Bethshean (Scythopolis). Too weak 
to confront the Judaeans alone, he called to his help 
the co-regent of Egypt, Ptolemy VIII (Lathurus), 
who, inspired by the hatred entertained by the 
Egyptians against the Judaeans, readily complied 
with that request. His mother Cleopatra, with 
whom the people had obliged him to share the gov- 
ernment, was secretly in league against him, befriend- 
ing, like her parents, the cause of Judaea. Two sons 
of Onias IV, Helkias and Ananias, sided with her. 
It was doubtless on that account that her son took 
an aversion to the Judaeans, and gladly came forth at 
the call of Cyzicenus to compel Hyrcanus to with- 
draw from the siege of Samaria. Despite the wishes 
of his mother, Lathurus sent an army of six thousand 
men to support Cyzicenus against Judaea. Too 
weak to venture on meeting the Judaean troops in 
the open field, the operations were confined to lay- 
ing waste the country around, in the hope of thus 
impeding the work of the besiegers. The Judaean 
princes, however, instead of being forced to abandon 
the siege, contrived by various manoeuvres to compel 
the king of Syria to leave the scene of action and to 
withdraw to Tripolis. During one of the battles in 
which Cyzicenus was beaten, it is said that a voice 
from the Holy of Holies was heard announcing to 
Hyrcanus, at the very moment in which it took place, 
the victory achieved by his sons. He is said to have 


heard the following words pronounced in Aramaic : 
"The young princes have defeated Antiochus." 
The two generals, Callimandrus and Epicrates, whom 
Lathurus had left behind to continue the hostilities, 
were not more fortunate than himself, for the first 
lost his life in some engagement, the second suc- 
cumbed to bribery, and delivered into the hands of the 
Judaean princes the town of Bethshean, as well as 
other places in the plain of Jezreel, as far as Mount 
Carmel, which had been held by the Greeks or the 
Syrians. The heathen inhabitants were instantly 
expelled from the newly conquered cities, and the 
anniversaries of the recovery of Bethshean and of 
the Plain (Bekaata), 15-16 Sivan (June, 109), were 
added henceforth to the days of victory. Samaria, 
no longer able to rely upon foreign help, was obliged 
to capitulate, and after a year's siege was given up 
to the conqueror. Actuated either by revenge or 
prudence, Hyrcanus caused Samaria to be utterly 
destroyed, and ditches and canals to be dug through 
the place, so that not a trace should remain of the 
once flourishing city. The day of its surrender was 
added to the number of days of thanksgiving (25th 
Marcheshvan, November, 109). 

Thus Hyrcanus had carried out the comprehen- 
sive plans of the Hasmonseans and crowned them 
with success. The independence of Judaea was 
assured, and the country raised to the level of the 
neighboring states. The enemies who had menaced 
it from every side, Syrians, Idumaeans, Samaritans, 
were nearly all conquered, and the land was deliv- 
ered from the bonds which had hitherto prevented 
its development. The glorious era of David and 
Solomon seemed to have returned, foreign tribes 
were obliged to do homage to the ruler of Judaea, the 
old hatred between the latter and Idumaea was blotted 
out, and Jacob and Esau again became twin brothers. 
Moabitis, the daughter of Arnon, again sent pres- 
ents to the mountain of the daughter of Zion. 


The banks of the Jordan, the sea-coast, the caravan 
tracks that passed from Egypt through Syria, were 
all under the dominion of Judaea. She saw also the 
humiliation of her enemy, Ptolemy Lathurus. The 
latter was living in constant discord with his mother, 
the co-regent, who at last aroused the anger of the 
people against him to such a degree that he was 
obliged to flee from Alexandria (108). He took 
refuge in the island of Cyprus, whither Cleopatra 
despatched an army in pursuit of him. But the 
troops sent to destroy him went over to his side. 
The Judaean soldiers who came from the province 
of Onion, commanded by the generals Helkias and 
Ananias, the sons of Onias, alone remained faithful 
to the Queen, and vigorously attacked Ptolemy to 
force him to leave the island. In Alexandria as in 
Judaea, at that time, the Judaeans played a leading 
role, and worked together in a common cause for 
mutual advantage. They fought against common 
foes, against Lathurus and his ally, Antiochus 

After all he had achieved for his country, it was only 
natural that Hyrcanus should cause Judaean coins to 
be struck, and should inscribe them in old Hebrew 
characters, but he abandoned the modest example 
of his father and allowed his own name to appear 
on them, " Jochanan, High Priest." Upon some of 
the coins we find, next his name, the inscription 
"and the Commonwealth of the Judaeans" (Cheber 
ha-Jehudim), as though he felt it necessary to indi- 
cate that it was in the name of the people that he had 
exercised the right of coinage. Upon other coins, 
however, we find the following words inscribed: 
" Jochanan, High Priest, and head of the Common- 
wealth of the Judaeans" (Rosch Cheber ha-Jehudim). 
Instead of the lily which was graven on his father's 
coins, he chose an emblem similar to that of the 
Macedonian conquerors the horn of plenty. To- 
wards the end of his reign Hyrcanus assumed more 


the character of a worldly potentate, and became 
more and more ambitious. His constant aim was to 
enlarge his country and to increase his own power. 
Hyrcanus appears to have cast a wistful eye upon 
the widely-extended territory which commanded the 
route to Damascus. The conquest of Ituraea, a tract 
of country lying to the east of Mount Hermon, which 
his successors completed, appears to have been 
planned by him. But a formidable disturbance in the 
land, which he was unable to suppress, speedily 
followed by his own death, prevented him from 
carrying out this undertaking. And this disturb- 
ance, apparently insignificant in its beginning, took 
so unfortunate a turn that the great Hasmonaean 
edifice, built up with so much labor and care, was 
completely destroyed. For the second time the 
Judaean State, having reached its highest pinnacle 
of prosperity, ascertained that it was not to main- 
tain itself in external greatness. 

The high tide of political development, which swept 
over Judaea whilst that country was under the do- 
minion of John Hyrcanus and his predecessors, could 
not fail to permeate the life of the people, and in 
particular to stimulate all their spiritual powers. 
With only short interruptions they had, during half a 
century, been continually engaged in a warfare in 
which they were alternately victorious and defeated, 
and in which, being brought into contact with various 
nations, now as friends, now as foes, they attained 
a greater maturity, and their former simple exist- 
ence rose to a more complex and a higher life. The 
hard struggles by which they had achieved inde- 
pendence caused them to examine more curiously 
into their own condition, and to hold fast to their 
national traits; but it led them also to adopt those 
foreign views and practices which appeared to blend 
harmoniously with their own. If the pious Judaeans 
had formerly opposed with all their might every- 
thing that bore the Hellenic impress, many of them 


were now convinced that among the customs of 
Greece there might occasionally be something which 
they could adopt without prejudice or injury to their 
own faith. The Hasmonaeans had not only learnt 
from their neighbors the arts of war, how to fashion 
arms and construct fortresses, but also the peaceful 
arts of coining money with artistic ornamentation, 
and the rules of Greek architecture. A magnifi- 
cent palace, evidently built in the Grecian style, arose 
in Jerusalem. In front of the Hasmonaean Palace, 
near the valley-like hollow which divided the higher 
town from the Temple, there was a wide covered 
colonnade, called the " Xystum," where the people 
assembled. A bridge led across from the Xystum 
to the west gate of the furthest court of the Temple. 
There was likewise a building erected in the higher 
town, devoted to judicial meetings, constructed 
according to Grecian art; with it was combined a 
Record Office, where important archives were kept. 
John Hyrcanus also erected, in the Grecian style, a 
family mausoleum in Modin, the birthplace of the 
Hasmonaeans. It consisted of a lofty building of 
white polished marble. Around it was a colonnade, 
and on the columns were beautiful carvings of vari- 
ous weapons and figureheads of ships. Seven pyra- 
mids crowned the edifice, in memory of the progen- 
itors of the Hasmonaeans and their five heroic sons. 
The Hasmonaean mausoleum was of so great a height 
that it was visible from the sea. 

The tendency of the Judaeans of that period, how- 
ever, was more especially directed to the mainte- 
nance and development of all that belonged peculi- 
arly to themselves than to the acquiring of the arts 
of foreign civilization. The Hebrew language, which, 
since the close contact of the people with Asiatic 
nations, had been almost superseded by the Ara- 
maic, appeared now to be celebrating to a certain 
extent its renaissance ; it was rejuvenated and be- 
came, for the second time, though in an altered form, 


the language of the people. It was rendered precious 
to them through the Holy Scriptural records which 
they had preserved from destruction, and which had 
ever been the source of their zeal and enthusiasm. 
Their coins were, as mentioned before, stamped in 
Hebrew, public records were written in Hebrew, and 
the songs of the people were sung in the same lan- 
guage. Though some prevalent Aramaic names 
were still retained, and Grecian numbers were 
adopted, the Hebrew language showed its strong 
vitality by enriching its vocabulary with new forms 
of words, and stamping the foreign elements it 
admitted with its own mark. The form that Hebrew 
assumed from this time forth is called the " New 
Hebrew." It was distinguished from the old Hebrew 
by greater clearness and facility, even though it 
lacked the depth and poetical fervor of the latter. 
At the same time Greek was understood by all the 
leaders and statesmen of the community. It was 
the language made use of in their intercourse with 
the Syrian kings, and was likewise spoken by their 
ambassadors to the Roman Senate. Along with 
Jewish names, Greek names appeared now more 
frequently than before. The character of the lit- 
erature was also marked by the change which took 
place in the spirit of the people at this period of its 
revival. The sweet note of song was mute ; not a 
trace of poetical creation has come down to us from 
this and the next epoch. The nation called no 
longer for the fiery inspiration which flows through 
the lyric songs of the Psalms, and it could not furnish 
matter for mournful elegies. What it required to 
promote religious sentiment and fervor was already 
provided by the poetry of the Temple, and in the rich 
stores of the Scriptures the people found knowledge 
and instruction. Sober history now took the place of 
triumphant hymns, and related facts and deeds for 
the use of posterity. History was the only branch 
of literature which was cultivated, and the recent past 


and the immediate present furnished the historian's 
pen with ample subjects. That Hebrew was used 
in historical writings is shown by the fragments 
which have come down to us. The so-called first 
book of the Maccabees, which was written in He- 
brew, (but is now extant only in a Greek translation) 
is a proof of the inherent power of rejuvenescence 
belonging to the language. 

The change in the current of life, caused by polit- 
cal events, showed itself even more in the sphere 
of religion than in the literature and habits of the 


people in general. The victory over the Syrians, 
the expulsion of the Hellenists, the subjection of the 
Idumaeans, the humiliation of the Samaritans, culmi- 
nating in the destruction of the Temple of Gerizim, 
were so many triumphs of Judaism over its enemies, 
and were sanctioned as such by the champions of 
the religious party. In order to stamp them indelibly 
on the memory of future generations, their anniver- 
saries were to be kept like the days of the conse- 
cration of the Temple. Religion was still the great 
underlying impulse in all movements, and showed 
its strength even in the abuse to which it gave rise 
when it forced Judaism upon the heathens. In the 
meantime the religious consciousness of the people 
shone with a clearer light in consequence of the 
wider field upon which it had entered ; the wider view 
which had been o-ained into the various relations of 


life, the advance out of the narrow circle of tradition 
and inherited customs, produced schism and separ- 
ation amongst the Judseans themselves. The strict 
religious party of Assidseans withdrew from the 
scene of passing events, and, in order to avoid 
mixing in pubHc life, they sought a secluded retreat 
where they could give themselves up to undisturbed 
meditation. In this solitude they formed themselves 
into a distinct order, with strange customs and new 
views, and received the name of Essenes. Their 
example, however, of giving up all active share in 

CH. I. THE SECTS. 1 7 

the public weal was not followed by all the strictly 
devout Judseans, the majority of whom, on the con- 
trary, whilst firmly adhering to the precepts of their 
faith, considered it a religious duty to further the 
independence of their country. Thus there arose a 
division among the pious, and a national party 
separated itself from the Assidaeans or Essenes, 
which did not avoid public life, but, according 
to its strength and ability, took an active part in 
public affairs. The members of this numerous sect 
began at this time to bear the name of Pharisees 
(Perushim). But this sect, the very center, as it 
were, of the nation, having above all things at heart 
the preservation of Judaism in the exact form in 
which it had been handed down, insisted upon all 
political undertakings, all public transactions, every 
national act being tried by the standard of religion. 
To these demands, however, those who stood at the 
head of military or diplomatic affairs, and who saw 
how difficult it was always to deal with political 
matters according to the strict claims of their faith, 
would not or could not reconcile themselves. Thus 
a third party was formed that of the Sadducees 
(Zadukim) the members of which, without forsaking 
the religion, yet made the interests of the nation 
their chief care and object. Of these sects the 
Assidsean-Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees 
only the last two exerted a powerful influence upon 
the course of events. At what precise period oppo- 
sition began to show itself among these several 
parties cannot be determined, as indeed the birth of 
new spiritual tendencies must ever remain shrouded 
from view. According to one account, the adverse 
parties first appeared at the time of Jonathan. 

The Pharisees (Perushim) can only be called a 
party figuratively and by way of distinction from the 
other two, for the mass of the nation was inclined to 
Phariseeism, and it was only in the national leaders 
that its peculiarities became marked. The Pharisees 


received their name from the fact of their explaining 
the Scriptures in a peculiar manner, and of deriving 
new laws from this new interpretation. As ex- 
pounders of the law the Pharisees formed the 
learned body of the nation. Their opinions were 
framed, their actions governed by one cardinal 
principle the necessity of preserving Judaism. 
The individual and the State were to be ruled alike 
by the laws and customs of their fathers. Every 
deviation from this principle appeared to the Phari- 
sees as treason to all that was most precious and 
holy. To their opponents, the Sadducees, who 
argued that, unless other measures were used for 
political purposes, weighty national interests would 
be often wrecked by religious scruples, the Pharisees 
replied that the fate of the State, like that of the 
individual, depended not upon man but upon God. 
It was not human strength, nor human wisdom, nor 
the warrior's prowess that could determine the weal 
or the woe of the Judaean people, but Divine Provi- 
dence alone. Everything happened according to 
the eternal decrees of the Divine will. Man was 
responsible only for his moral conduct and the indi- 
vidual path he trod. The results of all human 
endeavors lay outside the range of human calcula- 
tion. From this, the Pharisees' view of life, the 
rival opinion of the Sadducees diverged ; whilst 
the Essenes, on the contrary, exaggerated it. 
Another view of the Pharisees was probably directed 
against the following objection urged by the Saddu- 
cees : If the fate of the individual or of the State 
did not depend upon the actions of the one or the 
policy of the other, there would be an end to Divine 
justice ; misfortune might then assail the righteous 
man, whilst the sun of happiness smiled upon the 
sinner. This reproach the Pharisees set aside by 
the doctrine, borrowed from another source, which 
taught that Divine justice would manifest itself not 
during life but after death. God will rouse the 


dead out of the sleep of the grave ; He will reward 
the righteous according to their works, and punish 
the wicked for their evil deeds. " Those will rise 
up to everlasting life, and these to everlasting 

These views, however, precisely because they 
concerned only the inner convictions of men, did 
not mark the opposition between the parties so 
clearly as did the third dogma of the Pharisees, 
establishing the importance and all-embracing influ- 
ence of religious injunctions. In a nation whose 
breath of life was religion, many customs whose 
origin was lost in the dim twilight of the past had 
taken their place by the side of the written Law. 
If these customs were not found in the books of the 
Law they were ascribed to the great teachers (the 
Sopherim and the great assembly Keneseth ha- 
gedolah), which, at the time of the return of the 
Captivity, had given form and new vigor to the 
religious sentiment, and at the head of which stands 
the illustrious expounder of Scripture, Ezra. Such, 
religious customs were called the legacies of the 
teachers of the Law (Dibre Sopherim). All these 
unwritten customs, which lived in the heart of the 
nation and, as it were, grew with its growth, gained 
an extraordinary degree of importance from the 
dangers that Judaism had encountered and the vic- 
tories that it had achieved. The people had risked, 
in behalf of these very customs, their property and 
their life ; and the martyrdom that many of the 
faithful had undergone, and the antagonism they felt 
towards the renegade and frivolous Hellenists, had 
much increased the reverence and attachment with 
which these customs were regarded. The Temple, 
especially, which had been so ruthlessly defiled and 
afterwards been reconsecrated in so marvelous a 
manner, had become doubly precious to the whole 
people, who were determined to keep it free from 
the faintest breath of desecration. The Levitical 


rules of purity, so far as they related to the Temple, 
were therefore observed with peculiar care and 
rigorous strictness. 

But this devotion to outward forms and ceremonies 
by no means excluded the religion of the heart. The 
Pharisees were acknowledged to be moral, chaste, 
temperate and benevolent. In their administration 
of justice they allowed mercy to prevail, and judged 
the accused not from the point of view of moral 
depravity but from that of human weakness. The 
following maxim was given by Joshua, the son of 
Perachia, one of the leaders of the sect, who, with 
his companion, Matthai of Arbela, lived in the 
time of Hyrcanus : " Take a teacher, win a friend, 
and judge every man from the presumption of inno- 
cence." His high moral temperament is indicated 
by this maxim. Their rigid adherence to the Law, 
and their lenient mildness and indulgence in other 
matters, gained for the Pharisees the deep venera- 
tion of the whole people. Of this sect were the 
pious priests, the teachers of the Law, and, above 
all, the magistrates, civil and religious, who at that 
time often combined both offices in one. The whole 
inner direction of the State and the Temple was in 
their hands. But the Pharisees owed their influence 
chiefly to their knowledge of the Law and to the 
application they made of it to the affairs of daily life, 
and they alone were called the interpreters and 
teachers of the Law. The degrading charge of 
hypocrisy, which was applied to them by their 
enemies in later times, they by no means merited, 
and, indeed, it is altogether preposterous to stigma- 
tize a whole class of men as dissemblers. They 
were rather, in their origin, the noblest guardians 
and representatives of Judaism and strict morality. 
Even their rivals, the Sadducees, could not but 
bear witness to the fact that " they denied themselves 
in this world, but would hardly receive a reward in 
a future world.' 


This party of the Sadducees, so sharply opposed 
to the Pharisees, pursued a national-political policy. 
It was composed of the Judeean aristocracy, the 
brave soldiers, the generals and the statesmen who 
had acquired wealth and authority at home, or who 
had returned from foreign embassies, all having 
gained, from closer intercourse with the outer world 
and other lands, freer thought and more worldly 
views. They formed the kernel of the Hasmonaean 
following, which in peace or war faithfully served 
their leaders. This sect doubtless included also 
some Hellenists, who, shrinking from the desertion 
of their faith, had returned to Judaism. The Saddu- 
cees probably derived their name from one of their 
leaders, Zadok. The national interests of the 
Judaean community were placed by the Sadducees 
above the Law. Burning patriotism was their rul- 
ing sentiment, and piety occupied but the second 
place in their hearts. As experienced men of the 
world, they felt that the independence of the State 
could not be upheld by the strictest observance 
of the laws of religion alone, nor by mere reliance 
upon Divine protection. They proceeded from this 
fundamental principle : man must exert his bodily 
strength and his spiritual powers ; he must not allow 
himself to be kept back by religious scruples from 
forming political alliances, or from taking part in 
wars, although by so doing he must inevitably 
infringe some of the injunctions of religion. Ac- 
cording to the Sadducaean views, it was for that 
purpose that God bestowed free will upon man so 
that he himself should work out his own well-being ; 
he is master of his fate, and human concerns are not 
at all swayed by Divine interposition. Reward and 
punishment are the natural consequences of our 
actions, and are therefore quite independent of 
resurrection. Without exactly denying the immor- 
tality of the soul, the Sadducees completely repudi- 
ated the idea of judgment after death. Oppressed 


by the abundance of religious ordinances, they would 
not admit their general applicability nor the obliga- 
tion of keeping them. Pressed to give some stand- 
ard by which the really important decrees might be 
recognized, they laid down the following rule : that 
only the ordinances which appeared clearly ex- 
pressed in the Pentateuch were binding. Those 
which rested upon oral tradition, or had sprung up 
at various times, had a subordinate value and could 
not claim to be inviolable. Still they could not help 
occasionally recognizing the value of traditional 

From a number of individual instances in which 
the Sadducees separated themselves from their 
rivals, one can mark the extent of their opposition 
to the latter. This appeared in their judiciary and 
penal laws and in the ritual they adopted, their 
worship in the Temple being in particular a subject 
of angry controversy. The Sadducees thought that 
the punishment ordered by the Pentateuch for the 
inliiction of any bodily injury "an eye for an eye, 
a tooth for a tooth" should be literally interpreted 
and followed out, and obtained in consequence the 
reputation of being cruel administrators of justice ; 
whilst the Pharisees, appealing to traditional inter- 
pretations of the Scriptures, allowed mercy to pre- 
ponderate, and only required a pecuniary compen- 
sation from the offender. The Sadducees, on the 
other hand, were more lenient in their judgment of 
those false witnesses whose evidence might have 


occasioned a judicial murder, as they only inflicted 
punishment if the execution of the defendant had 
actually taken place. There were many points re- 
lating to the ritual which were warmly disputed by 
the two parties ; for instance, the date of the Feast of 
Weeks, which, according to the Sadducees, should 
always fall upon a Sunday, fifty days from the 
Sabbath after the Passover ; so also the pouring of 
water on the altar and the processions round it 


with willow branches during the seven days of the 
Feast of Tabernacles, which the Pharisees advocated 
and the Sadducees rejected. The latter objected 
to the providing of the national offerings out of the 
treasury of the Temple, and insisted that the re- 
quired sacrifices should be left to the care and zeal 
of individuals. The manner in which the frank- 
incense should be kindled on the Day of Atone- 
ment, whether before or after the entrance of the 
high priest into the Holy of Holies, was also the 
cause of bitter strife. On these and other points 
of dispute the Sadducees invariably followed the 
exact letter of the Law, which resulted in their 
occasionally enforcing stricter rules than the Phari- 
sees, who have been so much abused for their rigid 
austerity. To one Levitical injunction, however, 
they paid but little attention that of carefully 
avoiding the touch of any person or thing con- 
sidered unclean and when their rivals purified 
the vessels of the Temple after they had been 
subject to any contact of the sort, they ridiculed 
them, saying, " It wants but little, and the Pharisees 
will try and cleanse the sun." 

In spite of the relief which these less stringent 
views gave the people, the Sadducees were not 
popular ; the feeling of the time was against laxity 
and in favor of strict religious observance. Be- 
sides, the Sadducees repelled their countrymen by 
their proud, haughty demeanor and their severe 
judicial sentences. They never gained the heart of 
the public, and it was only by force and authority that 
they were able to make their principles prevail. 
At that period the religious sentiment was so active 
that it gave birth to a religious order which far 
surpassed even the Pharisees in strictness and 
painful scrupulousness, and which became the basis 
of a movement that, mixing with new elements, 
produced a revolution in the history of the world. 
This order, which, from a small and apparently 


insignificant origin, grew into a mighty power, 
destined to exert an irresistible influence, was that 
of the Essenes. 

The origin of this remarkable Essene order, which 


called forth the admiration even of the Greeks and 
the Romans, can be dated from the period of 
great religious enthusiasm excited by the tyranny 
and persecutions of the Syrians. The Essenes had 
never formed a political party, but, on the contrary, 
avoided the glare and tumult of public life. They 
did not place themselves in harsh antagonism to 
the Pharisees, but rather assumed the position of a 
higher grade of Pharisaism, to which party they 
originally belonged. They sprang without doubt 
from the Assidseans, whom they resembled in their 
strict observance of the Sabbath. In their eyes the 
mere act of moving a vessel from one place to 
another would count as a desecration of that holy 
day. Even the calls of nature were not attended 
to on that day. They lived in all respects like the 
Nazarites, whose ideal it was to attain the highest 
sanctity of priestly consecration. It was their con- 
stant endeavor, not only to observe all the out- 
ward Levitical laws, but to attain through them to 
inward sanctity and consecration, to deaden their 
passions and to lead a holy life. The Levitical 
laws of cleanliness had, through custom and tradi- 
tion, developed to such a pitch that their austere 
observers must have been in constant danger of 
being defiled by contact with persons and objects ; 
and bathing and sacrifices were prescribed, through 
which they might recover a state of purity. A 
life-long Nazarite, or, what is the same thing, an 
Essene, was consequently obliged to avoid any 
intercourse with those who were less strict than 
himself, lest he should be contaminated by their 
proximity. Such considerations compelled him to 
frequent the society of, and to unite himself with, 
those only who shared his views. To keep their 


purity unspotted, the Essenes were thus induced to 
form themselves into a separate order, the first 
rule of which commanded implicit obedience to the 
laws of scrupulous cleanliness. It was only those 
whose views coincided with their own who could be 
allowed to cook food for them, and from such like- 
wise had to be procured their clothes, tools, imple- 
ments of trade and other things, in order to en- 
sure that, in their manufacture, the laws of cleanli- 
ness had been duly carried out. They were thus 
completely set apart by themselves ; and, in order 
to keep clear of any less strictly rigid observers, 
they thought it advisable to have their meals in 
common. Thus the Passover supper, which could 
be partaken of only in a circle of fellow-wor- 
shipers, must have been their ideal repast. It 
was almost impossible for Essenes to mix with 
women, as by the slightest contact with them they 
risked coming under the Levitical condemnation of 
uncleanliness, and, led on from one deduction to 
another, they began to avoid, if not to despise, the 
married state. How was it possible for the Essenes 
to maintain their excessive rigidity, especially in 
those warlike times ? Not only the pagan enemy, 
but even the Judsean warriors returning from the 
battle-field, defiled by the touch of a corpse, might 
bring all their precautions to naught. These fears 
may have induced the Essenes to seek seclusion in 
some retired place, where they could remain un- 
vexed by the sounds of war and undisturbed in 
their mode of life by any of its necessary incidents. 
They chose for their residence the desert to the 
west of the Dead Sea, and settled in the oasis of 
Engadi. The fruit of palm trees, which abound in 
this district, partly furnished their simple fare. All 
the Assidseans did not join in the asceticism of the 
Essenes, nor did all the Essenes betake themselves 
to the desert. Some continued to live in their own 
family circles and did not renounce marriage ; but, 


in consequence of their rigid scruples, they were 
met by many difficulties. 

Thus it was that celibacy and repasts held in 
common came to be considered as the general and 
most important characteristics of the Essenes. This 
mode of living led the Essenes to divest themselves 
of all their private possessions. To a member of 
their sect private property could be of no use ; each 
one placed his fortune in the common treasury, out 
of which the wants of the various members of the 
order were supplied. Hence the proverb, "A 
Chassid says, ' Mine and thine belong to thee ' 
(not to me). There were consequently neither rich 
nor poor among them, and this lack of all concern 
about material matters naturally led them to abstract 
their attention from everything mundane and to 
concentrate it upon religious matters. They thus 
avoided more and more all that pertained merely to 
the w^orld, and followed with the enthusiasm of 
recluses a visionary, ideal tendency. The Essenes 
were distinguished also by other peculiarities. They 
were always clothed in white linen. Each of them 
carried a small shovel, with which, like the Israelites 
during their wanderings in the desert, they would 
cover their excrements with earth and thus hide 
impurity from sight. They also wore a sort of 
apron or handkerchief (knaphaim), with which to dry 
themselves after their frequent ablutions. In order 
to remove even unperceived impurities, they, like 
the priests before officiating in the Temple, bathed 
every morning in fresh spring water ; and from 
these daily baths they were called " Morning Bap- 
tists " (Toble ShacharitK). The name Essene ap- 
pears likewise to have been derived from this pecu- 
liarity, as in the Chaldaic language it means a bather 
(Aschai, pronounced Assai}. 

These outward forms were, however, only the 
steps that were to lead to inward purity and right- 
eousness the symbols of their close communion 


with God ; to which, according 1 to the opinion of 
antiquity, man could only attain by fleeing from the 
world, and devoting himself to an ascetic mode of 
life. The utmost simplicity in food and dress, absti- 
nence, and the practice of morality and self-sacrifice 
were certainly virtues which adorned the Essenes, 
but were not peculiar to their sect, as they belonged 
equally to the Pharisees. The distinguishing traits 
of the Essenes, however, were their frequent prayers, 
their aversion to taking an oath, and their devoted 
pursuit of a kind of mystic doctrine. Before saying 
their prayers no profane word was permitted, and 
at the first dawn of day, after the Sliema had been 
read, they assembled for quiet meditation, prepara- 
tory to what was considered their real prayer, which 
was always to be a spontaneous effusion of the 
heart. To the Essenes their repasts were a kind 
of divine service, the table on which their food was 
spread, an altar, and the fare which they partook of, 
a holy sacrifice, which they ate in deep and pious 
meditation. No language of a worldly nature passed 
their lips during their meals, and these were gener- 
ally partaken of in complete silence. This strange 
silence doubtless produced a great impression upon 
those who did not belong to the order ; the more so, 
because the real nature of this exclusive sect was 
not known to its contemporaries, and everything 
concerning it assumed a mysterious and awful 

It was not, perhaps, at first the object of the 
Essenes to become absorbed in mystic lore ; but 
their asceticism, their intensely quiet life, which gave 
them so much opportunity for meditation, their free- 
dom from family cares, and, lastly, their religious 
visionariness, made them seek for other truths in 
Judaism than appear to less subtle minds. The 
name of God was to them a subject of deep contem- 
plation, justified in some degree by the dread which 
existed among the Judseans of pronouncing the 


name of the Almighty, formed of the four letters 
J h w h. If the name of God be thus holy, surely 
something- mysterious must belong to the letters 
themselves. Thus reasoned the Essenes, whose 
seclusion from the world gave them abundant leisure 
to ponder over this sacred enigma. So holy was 
the name of God in their estimation that they refused 
to take any oath which called for its use, and their 
statements were attested by a simple " yes " or " no." 
In close connection with the mystery attaching to 
the name of God was that which they applied to the 
names of angels. The Essenes faithfully handed 
down in their theosophic system the names, as well 
as the importance and position of the various angels. 
When they endeavored to explain the meaning of 
Holy Writ by their fantastic and newly discovered 
ideas, what fresh phases must have presented them- 
selves to their distorted vision ! Every word, every 
expression must have revealed a hitherto unsus- 
pected meaning ; the most difficult questions as to 
the being of God, and His relations to the heavenly 
powers and the lower creatures, were explained. 
Through their indifference to all that concerned the 
State, as well as the affairs of daily life, they gradu- 
ally led Judaism (dependent as it was on the estab- 
lishment of national prosperity) into the darkness 
and exaggerations of Mysticism. Their deep and 
mystic reverence for the Prophet and Lawgiver 
Moses carried them to the greatest excesses. His 
memory and name were endeared to all the Judseans 
within and beyond Palestine. They took oaths in 
the name of Moses, and bestowed that name on no 
other man. But the Essenes carried their devotion 
to such an extreme that he who spoke against the 
name of Moses was treated as one who blasphemed 

The final aim of the Essenes was, without doubt, 
the attainment to prophetic ecstasy so that they 
might become worthy of the Divine Spirit (Ruach 


ha-KodesJi}. The Essenes believed that through an 
ascetic life they might re-awaken the long-silent 
echo of the Heavenly voice, and this end gained, 
prophecy would be renewed, men and youths 
would again behold Divine visions, once more 
see the uplifting of the veil which hides the future, 
and the great Messianic kingdom would be revealed. 
The kingdom of Heaven {Malchuth Shamaim) would 
commence, and all the pain and trouble of the times 
would, at one stroke, be at an end. 

The Essenes were considered not only holy men 
(on account of their peculiar mode of life and vision- 
ary views), but they were also admired as workers 
of miracles. People hung upon their words and 
hoped for the removal of impending evils through 
their means. Some of the Essenes bore the repu- 
tation of being able to reveal the future and inter- 
pret dreams ; they were reverenced yet more by the 
ignorant, on account of their miraculous cures of 
so-called " possessed " persons. The intercourse of 
the Judseans with the Persians had brought with it, 
together with a belief in the existence of angels, a 
superstitious belief in malicious demons (Shedim, 
Mazikiii). Imbeciles were thought to be possessed 
by evil demons, who could only be exorcised by a 
magic formula ; and all extraordinary illnesses were 
attributed to such demons, for which the advice of 
the v/onder-worker, and not that of the doctor, was 
sought. The Essenes occupied themselves with 
cures, exorcisms, etc., and sought their remedies in 
a book (Sefer Refuotli) which was attributed to King 
Solomon, whom the nation considered as the master 
of evil spirits. Their curative remedies consisted 
partly in softly-spoken incantations and verses 
(Lechis* ha), and partly in the use of certain roots 
and stones supposed to possess magic power. Thus 
the Essenes united the" highest and the lowest aims, 
the endeavor to lead a pious life and the most 
vulgar superstitions. Their exaggerated asceticism 


and fear of contact with others of a different mode 
of life caused a morbidly unhealthy development 
among them. 

The more rationally-minded Pharisees paid them 
but little attention ; they made sport of the " foolish 
Chassid." Although sprung from a common root, 
the more the Pharisees and Essenes developed, the 
more widely they diverged. The one party saw in 
marriage a holy institution appointed for the good of 
mankind, and the other an obstacle to a thoroughly 
religious life. The Pharisees recognized man's free 
will in thought and action, and consequently deemed 
him responsible for his moral conduct. The Essenes, 
on the contrary, confined to the narrow circle of their 
self-same, daily-repeated duties, came to believe in 
a sort of divine fatalism, which not only governed 
the destiny of mankind but also ruled the acts of 
each individual. The Essenes avoided the Temple, 
the worship practised there being framed according 
to the doctrines of the Pharisees and unable to 
satisfy their ideals. They sent their offerings to the 
Temple, and thus fulfilled the duty of sacrificing 
without being themselves present at the ceremony. 
With them, patriotism became more and more sub- 
ordinate to the devotion they felt towards their own 
order, and thus by degrees they loosed themselves 
from the strong bands of nationality. There lay 
concealed in Essenism an element antagonistic to 
existing Judaism, unsuspected by friends or foes. 

The Essenes had no influence whatever upon 
political events. Their number was small, and 
even at the time of their greatest prosperity the 
order consisted only of about four thousand mem- 
bers. Consequent upon the life of celibacy which 
they adopted, the losses made by death in their 
ranks could not naturally be replaced. To avoid 
dwindling away entirely, they had recourse to the 
expedient of enrolling novices and making prose- 
lytes. The new member was admitted with great 


solemnity, and presented with the white garment, 
the apron, and the shovel, the symbols of Essenism. 
The novice was not allowed, however, to enter im- 
mediately into the community, but was subjected by 
degrees to an ever stricter observance of the laws of 
abstinence and purity. There were three probationary 
degrees to be passed through before a new member 
was received into complete brotherhood. At his 
admission the novice swore to follow the mode of 
life of the Essenes, to keep conscientiously and to 
deliver faithfully the secret teachings of their order. 
He who was found to be unworthy was expelled. 

The unfriendly relationship between the Pharisees 
and Sadducees did not exist in the time of Hyrcanus. 
He made use of both parties according to their capa- 
bilities the Sadducees as soldiers or diplomatists, 
and the Pharisees as teachers of the Law, judges, 
and functionaries in civil affairs. The one honored 
Hyrcanus as the head of the State, the other as the 
pious high priest. In fact, Hyrcanus personally 
favored the Pharisees, but as prince he could not 
quarrel with the Sadducees, among whom he found 
his soldiers, his generals and his counselors. Their 
leader Jonathan was his devoted friend. Until old 
age crept on him, Hyrcanus managed to solve the 
difficult problem of keeping in a state of amity two 
parties that were always on the verge of quarreling. 
He understood how to prevent either party from 
gaining the upper hand and persecuting its rival. 
But (as too often happens in such difficult situations) 
a word, a breath can upset the best-arranged plans, 
bringing to naught the most skilful calculations, and 
the slowly, carefully built edifice falls and crumbles 
in a day. A heedless word of this kind turned the 
zealous follower of Pharisaism into its bitter opponent. 
In the last years of his life Hyrcanus went quite over 
to the Sadducees. 

The cause of this change, which brought such 
unspeakable misery to the Judaean nation, was trivial 


in comparison with its results ; but the antagonism 
of the two parties, which could only with the utmost 
difficulty be kept from breaking out into open dis- 
cord, gave it a terrible and far-reaching importance. 
Hyrcanus had just returned from a glorious victory 
over one of the many nations in the northeast of 
Peraea (Kochalit?). Rejoicing in the happy result 
of his arms and in the flourishing state of his country, 
he ordered a feast to be held, to which he invited 
without distinction the leaders of the Sadducees and 
Pharisees. Around golden dishes laden with food 
were placed various plants that grew in the desert, 
to remind the guests of the hardships they had 
endured under the Syrian yoke, when the nobles of 
the land were obliged to hide themselves in the 
wilderness. Whilst the guests were feasting, 
Hyrcanus asked if the Pharisees could reproach 
him for any transgression of the Law? If so, 
he desired to be told in what he had failed. Was 
this apparent humility only a cunningly-devised plan 
to discover the real disposition of the Pharisees 
towards him? Had the Sadducees inspired him 
with suspicion against the Pharisees, and advised 
him to find some way of proving the sincerity of 
their attachment? In reply to the challenge thus 
thrown out, a certain Eleazer ben Poira arose and 
bluntly answered, " Hyrcanus should content him- 
self with the crown of royalty, and should place on 
a worthier head the high priest's diadem. During 
an attack on Modin by the Syrians his mother, 
before his birth, was taken prisoner, and it is not 
fitting for the son of a prisoner to be a priest much 
less the High Priest ! " Although inwardly wounded 
by so outspoken an insult to his pride, Hyrcanus 
had sufficient self-possession to appear to agree with 
the bold speaker and ordered the matter to be 
examined. It was, however, proved to be an empty 
report ; in fact, without the slightest foundation. 
Hyrcanus's anger was doubly roused against the 


Pharisees through the care taken by the Sadducees 
and his devoted friend Jonathan to persuade him 
that the former had invented the story purposely to 
lower him in the eyes of the people. Anxious to 
find out if the aspersion cast on his fitness for the 
high-priesthood was the act of the whole party or 
only the slander of an individual, he demanded that 
their leading men should punish the calumniator, 
and expected that the chastisement inflicted would 
be in proportion to his own exalted rank. But the 
Pharisees knew of no special penalty for the slanderer 
of royalty, and their judges only awarded him the 
lawful punishment of thirty-nine lashes. Jonathan, 
the leader of the Sadducees, failed not to use this 
circumstance as a means to rake up the fire in 
Hyrcantis's breast. He led him to see in this mild 
judgment of the court a deep-rooted aversion enter- 
tained by the Pharisees against him, thus estranging 
him completely from his former friends, and binding 
him heart and soul to the Sadducees. There is 
probably some exaggeration in the account of Hyr- 
canus's persecution of the adherents of the Pharisees, 
and of his setting aside all the decrees of the latter. 
There is, however, more truth in another report, 
from which we learn that Hyrcanus had deposed 
the Pharisees from the various high posts they had 
filled. The offices belonging to the Temple, to the 
courts of law and to the high council were given to 
the followers of the Sadducees. But this stroke of 
policy produced the saddest results. Naturally 
enough it awakened in the hearts of the Pharisees, 
and of the people \vho sided with them, a deep 
hatred against the house of the Hasmonaeans, which 
bore civil war in its train and hastened the nation's 
decline. One act had been sufficient to cast a cloud 
over the brilliant days of the Hasmonaeans. 

Hyrcanus lived but a short time after these events. 
He died in the thirty-first year of his reign, the 
sixtieth year of his age (106), leaving five sons, 


Aristobulus, Antigonus, Alexander, Absalom, and 
one other, whose name has not come down to us. 
Hyrcanus bore some resemblance to his prototype 
Solomon, inasmuch as that, after the death of both, 
dissensions broke out and the country became a 
prey to constant strife and discord. 



Character of Aristobulus Antigonus Mythical Account of his 
Death Alexander Jannasus : his Character and Enterprises 
His Support of the Pharisees Simon ben Shetach Alexander's 
Breach with the Pharisees, and its Consequences His last Wars 
and Death Salome Alexandra's Relations to the Opposing 
Parties The Synhedrion Judah ben Tabbai and Simon ben 
Shetach Institutions against the Sadducees Party Hatred- 
Diogenes Persecution of the Sadducees Death of Alexandra. 

1 06 69 P.. C. E. 

JOHN HYRCANUS had proclaimed his wife queen, and 
his eldest son, Judah, high priest. The latter is 
better known by his Greek name Aristobulus, for 
he, like his brothers and successors, bore a Greek 
as well as a Hebrew name. But it was soon evi- 
dent that the Greek custom of placing a female 
ruler at the head of the State was not looked upon 
with favor in Judaea. Thus Aristobulus was able to 
remove his mother from her official position without 
creating any disturbance, and he then united in his 
own person the two dignities of ruler and high 
priest. It is said that he was the first of the Has- 
monaeans to assume the royal title ; but this title 
did not add in any way to his power or his import- 
ance. His coins, indeed, which have since been 
discovered, bear only the following inscription, 
"The High Priest Judah, and the Commonwealth 
of the Judaeans," and they are engraved with the 
same emblem as those of his father, viz., a cornu- 
copia, although this symbol of plenty \vas hardly a 
truthful characteristic of the times. 

The seed of discord sown by Hyrcanus grew and 
spread alarmingly in the reigns of his descendants. 



In vain did the successive rulers attempt to raise 
the importance of the royal dignity, in vain did 
they surround themselves with a body-guard of 
trusty hirelings and perform the most brilliant feats 
of valor, the breach between them and their sub- 
jects became irreparable, and no remedy proved 
effectual. The royal house and the people were no 
longer at one ; political life was separated from 
religious life, and the two were pursuing opposite 

The king, Aristobulus, not only supplanted his 
mother upon the throne, but he also imprisoned her 
with three of his brothers. His brother Antigonus 
alone, of like temperament to himself and his com- 
panion-in-arms, whom he tenderly loved, was per- 
mitted to take part in the government. In spite of 
the meager and unsatisfactory accounts of his short 
reign, we may gather from them that he followed 
the example of his father's last years, in remaining 
closely connected with the Sadducees, and in keep- 
ing the Pharisees from all power and influence. 
Aristobulus had but few friends in his own family, 
and he does not appear to have been beloved by 
his subjects. The fact of his having had a decided 
preference for Hellenism accounts for his sur- 
name, which was honored by the Greeks and hated 
by the Judaeans " Friend of the Hellenes." This 
one characteristic gave such offense to the people 
that they were ready to ascribe to him the author- 
ship of any evil deed that might occur in the king- 
dom. Whilst the Greeks called him fair-minded 
and modest, the Judaeans accused him of heartless- 
ness and cruelty. His mother expired during her 
imprisonment, possibly of old age ; evil report 
whispered that her own son was guilty of having 
allowed her to die of starvation. His favorite 
brother, Antigonus, was foully murdered (probably 
through the intrigues of the party hostile to the 
Hasmonasans) ; sharp-tongued calumny affirmed 


that the king, jealous of him, was the author of the 
foul deed, and tradition has woven a web of tragic 
incidents round the sad fate of Antigonus. But of 
this later. 

Aristobulus had inherited not only his father's 
military ability, but also his plans of extending 
Judaea in a northeasterly direction. The Ituraeans 
and the Trachonites, who often left their mild, 
pastoral pursuits for the rougher trade of war, 
occupied the district surrounding the gigantic 
Mount Hermon, and eastwards as far as the lovely 
plain of Damascus. Against these half-barbaric 
tribes Aristobulus undertook a campaign, probably 
continuing what his father had commenced. His 
brother Antigonus, in whose company he had won 
his first laurels when fighting against the Samaritans 
and the Syrians, was once more his companion-in- 
arms. The fortunes of war were favorable to Aris- 
tobulus, as they had been to his father ; he acquired 
new territory for Judaea, and, like his father, forced 
the Judsean religion upon the conquered people. 
Continued conquests in the same direction would 
have put the caravan roads leading from the land 
of the Euphrates to Egypt into the hands of the 
Judaeans ; which possession, combined with the war- 
like courage of the inhabitants and the defensive 
condition of the fortresses, might have permitted 
Judaea to attain an important position among the 
nations. But, as though it had been decreed by Provi- 
dence that Judaea should not gain influence in such 
a manner, Aristobulus was forced by severe illness 
to abandon his conquests and to return to Jerusa- 
lem. Antigonus, it is true, carried on the war 
successfully for some little time ; but after his return 
to the capital, for the celebration of the festivals in 
the approaching month of Tishri, neither he nor his 
royal brother was fated ever again to tread the 
arena of war. Antigonus fell, as was mentioned pre- 
viously, by the hand of an assassin, and Aristobulus 


died of a malignant disease, after a reign of one 
year (106-105). 

The deaths of the two brothers following in close 
succession gave evil-tongued calumny the opportu- 
nity of inventing the following fearful tragedy : It 
was said that the opponents of Antigonus seized the 
occasion of his triumphal return to excite the suffer- 
ing king's jealousy. Aristobulus, while still repos- 
ing confidence in his brother, sent for Antigonus, 
and intimated that he should appear unarmed. For 
greater protection he had his body-guard stationed 
in one of the passages, and gave orders that Anti- 
gonus was to be dispatched forthwith if he should 
enter armed. The queen, who hated Antigonus, 
made use of this order for the destruction of her 
brother-in-law, for she persuaded him to go fully 
equipped to the king's chamber, and in one of the 
dark passages of the tower of Straton the foul deed 
was executed. When the king heard that his com- 
mands had been carried out he was violently 
affected, and his grief caused a hemorrhage. His 
servant, in carrying away a vessel filled with the 
blood that he had lost, slipped upon the floor of the 
antechamber, still wet with the blood of the assassin- 
ated man, and, dropping the vessel, caused the 
blood of the two brothers to mingle. This accident 
was said to have had so overpowering an effect 
upon the king's mind that he instantly declared 
himself to be his brother's murderer, and the agony 
of remorse was the final cause of his death. Tradi- 
tion adds that an Essene seer of the name of Judah 
had not only predicted the violent death of Antigo- 
nus, but also that it would take place in the tower 
of Straton. 

The commencement of the reign of Aristobulus's 
successor is involved in legend. From this we 
gather that Alexander, whose Judaean name Jannai 
(Jannaeus) is the abbreviation of Jonathan, had not 
only been imprisoned by his brother, but had been 


so hated by his father that he had been banished to 
Galilee. This was the result of a dream, in which 
it had been revealed to John Hyrcanus that his third 
son would one day be king of Judaea. The widow 
of Aristobulus is said to have released him from 
prison, and to have given him her hand with the 
crown. But in that case Alexander would have 
married a widow, which it was unlawful for him, as 
high priest, to do. It is more probable that Alexan- 
der ascended the throne, being the nearest heir to 
it, without the aid of the widow of Aristobulus. 
Nor is there any foundation for the story that 
Alexander commenced his reign by the murder of a 
brother with whom he had actually shared the 
sufferings of his captivity. Alexander appears to 
have begun by studying the people's wishes, for the 
Pharisees were once more allowed to appear at 
court. Simon ben Shetach, the brother of his wife, 
Queen Salome, the champion of the Pharisees, was 
constantly in the king's presence. 

Alexander Jannaeus, who came to the throne at 
the age of twenty-three, was as warlike as the family 
from which he sprung, but he was wanting in the 
generalship and the judgment of his ancestors. He 
rushed madly into military undertakings, thus weak- 
ening the power of the people, and bringing the 
State more than once to the verge of destruction. 
The seven and twenty years of his reign were 
passed in foreign and civil wars, and were not 
calculated to increase the material prosperity of the 
nation. His good luck, however, was greater than 
his ability, for it enabled him to extricate himself 
from many a critical position into which he had 
brought himself, and also, upon the whole, to enlarge 
the territory of Judaea. Like his father, he employed 
mercenaries for his wars, whom he hired from 
Pisidia and Cilicia. He did not dare enroll Syrian 
troops, the hatred that existed between Judaeans 
and Syrians being too deeply ingrained to permit 


the harmonious working of the two to be counted 

Alexander's attention was principally directed to 
the seaports which had managed to free themselves 
from Syrian rule, owing to the rivalry that existed 
between the two half-brothers, Antiochus Grypus 
and Cyzicenus. He was particularly anxious to 
possess himself of the thickly-populated and impor- 
tant seaport town of Ptolemais, colonized by Judse- 
ans. Whilst his troops overran the district of 
Gaza, then under the dominion of Zoilus, a captain 
of mercenaries, he pressed the seaport town himself 
with a persistent siege. The inhabitants of Ptole- 
mais turned for help to the Egyptian prince Ptolemy 
Lathurus, who, at open warfare with his mother, had 
seized upon Cyprus. Lathurus, glad to have found 
an opportunity of acquiring greater power, and of 
being able at the same time to approach the caravan 
roads of Egypt, hastened to send thirty thousand 
men to the Judaean coast. He chose a Sabbath day 
for victoriously driving the Judaean army, consisting 
of at least fifty thousand men, from Asochis, near 
Sepphoris, back to the Jordan. More than thirty 
thousand of Alexander's troops remained on the 
field of battle, many were taken prisoners, whilst 
the others fled. Lathurus, with part of his army, 
marched through Judoea, slaughtering the inhabi- 
tants, without sparing women or children. He 
wished not only to revenge himself upon Alexander, 
but also upon the Judaeans, for had they not been 
his enemies in Egypt ? Accho likewise surrendered, 
and Gaza voluntarily opened its gates to him. 

This crushing defeat would doubtless have 
brought Judaea into the most revolting slavery, had 
not Cleopatra attempted to snatch the fruit of her 
son's triumphs from him before he could turn them 
against herself. She sent a mighty army against 
Lathurus, under the command of two Judaean gen- 
erals, Hel'kias and Ananias, the two sons of Onias, 


to whom she was indebted for the integrity of her 
crown. Helkias died during the campaign, and his 
brother took his place in the council and in the field. 
The position of trust occupied by Ananias was of 
distinct advantage to his compatriots in Judaea. 
Cleopatra had been urged not to lose the favorable 
opportunity, when Judaea was unable to forego her 
help, of invading that country and of dethroning 
Alexander. But Ananias was indignant at this 
advice. He not only pointed out the disgrace of 
such faithlessness, but he made the queen under- 
stand the evil consequences that would follow upon 
such a step. Many Egyptian Judaeans, who were 
the upholders of her throne against the threatened 
attacks of her son, would make common cause with 
her enemies, were she to strike a blow at the inde- 
pendence of their country. His words even con- 
tained the menace that he would, in such case, not 
only withhold his political knowledge and his gen- 
eralship from her interests, but that he might pos- 
sibly devote them to the cause of her opponents. 
This language had its desired effect upon the queen ; 
she rejected the cunning advice of the enemies of 
the Jews, and made an offensive and defensive 
league with Alexander at Bethzur (98). Lathurus 
was obliged to leave Judaea and to retreat with his 
army to Cyprus. All the cities that had resisted 
the arms of the Judaean king were now visited by 
his wrath. 

But he was, above all things, determined upon 
retaking Gaza. This object was accomplished only 
after a year of desperate fighting, and was finally 
brought about by an act of treachery. All the 
cruelty inherent in Alexander was poured out upon 
the besieged inhabitants of Gaza. He executed 
some of the most distinguished amongst them, and 
the terror he inspired was so great that many of the 
men killed their own wives and children to prevent 
them from falling into Judaean slavery (96). 


The nine years of Alexander's reign had been too 
prolific in dangerous and perplexing situations to 
allow of his disturbing the internal harmony of his 
country. He appears to have been strictly neutral 
in the strife that was raging between the Pharisees 
and Sadducees. His wife Salome may have exer- 
cised her influence in urging him to maintain this 
neutral position, as she was a warm partisan of the 
once-hated Pharisees. 

Alexander appears to have made Simon ben She- 
tach the mediator between the two parties ; the 
Pharisees being still somewhat in the background, 
and the Sadducees holding posts of trust. Ever 
since John Hyrcanus's secession from Pharisaism, the 
Great Council had been composed of Sadducsean 
members, and as long as one party was thus openly 
preferred to the other, peace and reconciliation 
seemed impossible. The king may, therefore, have 
been inspired by the wish to bring about some kind 
of equality between the two parties by dividing 
offices and dignities between chem. But the Phar- 
isees positively refused to act conjointly with their 
opponents and offered the most active resistance. 
Simon ben Shetach alone allowed himself to be 
chosen member of the Council, secretly determining 
to purge it by degrees of its Sadducaean element. 

Alexander's impartial conduct continued only so 
long as the critical position drew his attention away 
from home affairs. It changed visibly when he re- 
turned from his campaign, the conqueror of cities 
and provinces deeming himself the despotic master 
of his people. Either the newly acquired influence 
of the Pharisees threatened to be an obstacle in his 
path, or he may have wished to reward and attract 
the Sadducees upon whom he might rely for carry- 
ing on his campaigns, or he may have been influ- 
enced by his favorite, the Sadducee Diogenes ; at 
all events, Alexander appeared as the inveterate 
opponent of Pharisaic teaching, and made his views 


public in a most insulting manner. Whilst officiating 
as high priest, during the Feast of Tabernacles, it 
was his duty, in accordance with an ancient custom, 
to pour the contents of a ewer of water upon the 
altar as an emblem of fruitfulness. But in order to 
show his contempt for a ceremony considered by 
the Pharisees as a religious one, Alexander poured 
the water at his feet. Nothing more was required 
to ignite the wrath of the congregation assembled 
in the outer court of the Temple. With reckless 
indignation they threw the branches and the fruit, 
which they carried in their hands in honor of the 
festival, at the heretical king, denouncing him as an 
unworthy high priest. Alexander would certainly 
have paid for this disgraceful action with his life had 
he not called in the help of the Pisidian and Cilician 
mercenaries, who had been ordered to be in waiting, 
and who fell upon the congregation, slaughtering 
6000 within the precincts of the Temple (95). In 
order to avoid a repetition of such scenes, Alexander 
thenceforth prevented the worshipers from enter- 
ing the court of sacrifices, by building up a partition 
wall. But these events gave rise to an implacable 
hatred between the king and the Pharisees. Thus, 
after three generations, the descendants of the great 
Hasmonseans had so far weakened the edifice raised 
at the expense of their ancestors' lives, that it ap- 
pears marvelous how it could have continued to 
resist such repeated attacks. The bitter rivalry of 
the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel in the days 
of Rehoboam and Jeroboam was repeated in the 
history of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. 

But Alexander did not see the breach that his 
hand had childishly and ruthlessly made; absorbed 
in magnificent schemes of future conquest he ignored 
the fact that if the harmonious intercourse between 
the king and his subjects, the very life of the State, 
were to cease, greater possessions would but weaken 
and not strengthen the kingdom. He had set his 


heart upon invading the trans-Jordanic land, still 
called Moabitis, and the southeastern provinces of 
the sea of Tiberias, called Galaditis or Gaulonitis. 
But his progress in this campaign was checked by 
the Nabathaean king Obeda, who lured him into a 
pathless country broken up by ravines, where Alex- 
ander's army found its destruction, and where the 
king himself escaped only with his life to Jerusalem 
(about 94). There the wrath of the Pharisees awaited 
him. They had excited the people to revolt, and 
six years of bloody uprisings against him were the 
consequence (94-89). Alexander succeeded in put- 
ting down one revolt after another by the aid of his 
mercenaries, but the horrible butcheries that took 
place on these occasions were a perpetual incentive 
to fresh uprisings. Alexander, worn out at length by 
these sanguinary proceedings, offered to make peace 
with the Pharisees. It was now, however, their turn 
to reject the proffered hand of peace, and to be guilty 
of an act of treachery towards their country which 
must remain as an indelible stain upon their party. 
Upon Alexander's question as to what conditions of 
peace they required, the Pharisaic leaders answered 
that the first condition was the death of the king. 
They had, in fact, secretly offered their aid to the 
Syrian monarch Eucaerus to humble Alexander. 
Summoned by their promises, Eucaerus advanced 
upon Judaea with 40,000 infantry and 3000 cavalry. 
Upon the news of this impending danger, Alexander 
marched out at the head of 20,000 infantry and 
1000 cavalry. In the terrible encounter that ensued 
at Shechem, Judaean fought against Judsean, Greek 
against Greek, for each army remained true to its 
leader and could not be bribed into desertion. The 
battle, disastrous for both sides, was finally gained 
by Eucserus, and Alexander was driven, through the 
loss of his mercenaries, to wander among the moun- 
tain-passes of Ephraim. There, his solitary position 
moved his people to -pity, and six thousand of his 


Pharisaic opponents left the Syrian camp and went 
over to their king, who was now able to force 
Eucaerus's retreat from Judaea. 

But the more relentless amongst the Pharisees 


still held out against Alexander, and after an unsuc- 
cessful battle in the open field, threw themselves for 
safety into the fortress of Bethome, which, however, 
they were obliged to surrender. Urged by his 
Sadducsean favorite Diogenes, and impelled by his 
own thirst for revenge, the king had eight hundred 
Pharisees crucified in one day. Tradition even 
relates that the wives and children of the victims 
were butchered before their eyes, and that Alexan- 
der, surrounded by his minions, feasted in the pres- 
ence of this scene of carnage. But this exaggeration 
of cruelty was not required to brand him with the 
name of "Thracian"; the crucifixion of eight hun- 
dred men was enough to stigmatize him as a heart- 
less butcher, and this action alone was to bring forth 
bitter fruits for the Sadducees who had witnessed it 
with malicious joy. During the civil wars that had 
lasted for six years, fifty thousand men of both par- 
ties had been sacrificed, but the Pharisees had 
suffered most. The remaining Pharisees trembled 
for their lives, and the night after the crucifixion of 
the eight hundred, eight thousand fled from Judaea, 
part of them to Syria and part to Egypt. 

The weakness of Alexander's position may read- 
ily be gauged by the fact of his powerlessness to 
prevent Judaea from being made the seat of war by 
the kings of Nabathaea and Syria. Yet his good 
fortune did not forsake him, for a sudden change in 
the affairs of Syria, resulting in the overthrow of its 
king, Aretas, worked to Alexander's advantage. 
Thereby he was enabled to engage in the siege of 
some important towns, colonized by Greeks and 
subject to Aretas : Diospolis, Pella and Gerasa. 
Marching north, he invaded the lower Gaulonitis, 
with its capital, Gamala, the upper province, with the 


town of Sogane, and the city of Seleucia. He forced 
the inhabitants of these towns to accept Judaism and 
the sign of the covenant. The city of Pella, making 
a show of resistance, was destroyed. He also recov- 
ered the cities lying east of the Red Sea, which had 
been taken from him by Aretas. The territory of 
Judsea now embraced within its circumference a num- 
ber of important towns ; it extended on the other 
side of the Jordan, from Seleucia in the north to 
Zoar, the city of palms, south of the Dead Sea ; from 
Rhinokolura and Raphia in the south, on the shores 
of the Mediterranean, to the mountains of Carmel 
in the northwest. The cities on the sea-coast were 
of the most importance. Alexander ordered some 
coins to be struck for his Greek subjects, with the 
Greek inscription, " KING ALEXANDER," while an 
anchor was stamped upon one side, and upon the 
other, in Hebrew characters, "JONATHAN THE KING" 
(Jehonathan ha-Melech): His coins of an earlier 
date bore the same inscription as those of his prede- 

After a campaign of three years' duration Alex- 
der returned to Jerusalem, where he was received 
with the honors due to- a conqueror. He had caused 
his crimes in part to be forgiven. In the very cen- 
ter of the kingdom, on a mount near the Jordan, he 
built a strong fortress, called after him, ALEXAN- 
DRION ; and in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, 
upon a towering height, protected on all sides by 
deep ravines, he raised the citadel of Machaerus, the 
formidable guardian of his trans-Jordanic conquests. 
These two mountain fortresses, together with the 
third, Hyrcanion, built by John Hyrcanus, on Middle 
Mountain, were so amply fortified by nature and by 
art that they were considered impregnable. 

Even in the last years of Alexander's reign, 
although he was suffering from an intermittent 
fever, he undertook the siege of some of the yet 


unconquered fortresses of the trans-Jordanic terri- 
tory. During the siege of Argob, however, he 
was seized with so severe an attack that he was 
forced to prepare himself for death. The solem- 
nity of his last hours led him to look upon 
his former actions in a new light. He was horror- 
stricken to think how cruelly and foolishly he had 
persecuted the Pharisees, and how in consequence 
he had alienated himself from his people. He earn- 
estly enjoined upon his queen, whom he declared 
regent, to connect herself closely with the Pharisees, 
to surround herself with counselors from their ranks, 
and not to embark in any undertaking without hav- 
ing their consent. He also impressed upon her to 
keep his death secret from his army until the beleag- 
uered fortress should have fallen, and then to resign 
his body to the Pharisees, that they might either 
vent their rage upon it or else generously inter it. 
From an obscure but more authentic source we 
gather that Alexander sought to allay the queen's 
anxiety with regard to the party strife rampant in 
Jerusalem by the following words : " Do not fear 
either the true Pharisees or their honest opponents, 
but be on your guard against hypocrites of both 
sides (the counterfeit ones), who, when they commit 
sins, like the dissolute Prince Zimri, expect to be 
rewarded like Phineas, who was zealous for the Law." 
Alexander died in the forty-ninth year of his life and 
the twenty-seventh of his reign (79), and left two 
sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. The Pharisees 
ungenerously appointed the anniversary of his death 
as a day of rejoicing. 

It was indeed most fortunate for the Judaean 
nation that a woman of gentle nature and sincere 
piety should have been called to the head of the 
State after it had been torn asunder by the reckless- 
ness of its former ruler. She came like the refresh- 
ing dew to an arid and sunburnt soil. The excited 
passions and the bitter hatred of the two parties had 


time to abate during her reign, and the country rose 
above narrow partisanship to the worthier occupa- 
tion of advancing the common welfare of the nation. 
Although Queen Salome, or, as she was called, 
Alexandra, was devoted with her whole soul to the 
Pharisees, entrusting them with the management of 
home affairs, yet she was far from persecuting the 
opposing party. Her authority was so greatly res- 
pected by the neighboring princes that they did 
not dare make war with Judaea, and she shrewdly 
succeeded in keeping a mighty conqueror, who had 
possessed himself of Syria, from the confines of her 
own kingdom. Even the heavens, during the nine 
years of her reign, showered their blessings upon 
the land. The extraordinarily large grains of wheat 
gathered during this time in the fields of Judsea were 
kept and exhibited during many subsequent years. 
The queen ordered coins to be struck, bearing the 
same emblems as her predecessors, with the Greek 
inscription, " QUEEN ALEXANDRA." On the whole, 
her reign passed peacefully and happily. The Law, 
which had fallen into great neglect, became a fixed 
institution, and if it occasionally affected the Saddu- 
cees, who were constantly breaking it, they could 
not consider themselves victims of caprice. The 
crowded prisons were opened ; the Pharisees re- 
turned from exile, with their narrowed vision widened 
by the experience they had gained in foreign lands. 

Salome Alexandra proclaimed her eldest son 
Hyrcanus high priest ; he was a weak prince, whose 
private life was irreproachable, but who was not 
fitted for a public post of importance. 

Simon ben Shetach, the brother of the queen, the 
oracle of the Pharisaic party, stood high in her favor. 
So great a part did he play in the history of that 
time that it was called by many " the days of Simon 
ben Shetach and of Queen Salome." The chief post 
in the Council of Seventy, hitherto possessed by the 
high priest, was now, however, given up to the 


Pharisees by order of the queen. The Nasi, or 
president of the Great Council, was from this time 
on, as a rule, the most learned and the most res- 
pected of the Pharisees. No one, of course, could 
lay juster claim to this distinction than Simon ben 
Shetach. But Simon was not an ambitious man, 
and he determined to waive his own rights of prece- 
dence in favor of Judah ben Tabbai, who was then 
residing in Alexandria, of whose profound learning 
and excellent character he had formed a high esti- 
mate. The Alexandrian Judsean community had 
probably entrusted this celebrated Palestinean scholar 
with some important office. A flattering epistle was 
sent to Judah, inviting him to return to Jerusalem 
and was couched in this form : " From me, Jerusalem, 
the holy city, to thee, Alexandria : my spouse dwells 
with thee, I am forsaken." Judah ben Tabbai res- 
ponded to this appeal by hastening to Jerusalem. 
With the help of Simon he undertook the reorgani- 
zation of the Council, the improvement of adminis- 
tration of the law, the re-establishment of neglected 
religious observances, the furthering of education, 
and generally the fashioning of such regulations 
as the times required. Like Ezra and Nehemiah 
of old, these two zealous men insisted upon a return 
to the strictest form of Judaism ; and, if they were 
often obliged to employ severe and violent measures, 
these are not to be accounted to any personal 
malice, but to the sternness of the age itself. They 
were indeed scrupulously strict in their own conduct, 
and in directing those closely connected with them. 
From the days of Judah ben Tabbai and Simon ben 
Shetach, the rule of Judaean Law, according to the 
views of the Pharisees, may be said to have begun, and 
it grew and developed under each succeeding gen- 
eration. These two celebrated men have therefore 
been called " Restorers of the Law," who " brought 
back to the Crown (the Law) its ancient splendor." 
Their work commenced with the reorganization 


of the Synhedrion. The Sadducaean members were 
deprived of their seats, the penal code which 
they had added to the Biblical penal laws was set 
aside, and the old traditionary methods again made 
valid. The people had nothing to complain of in 
this change, for they hated the severity of the " eye 
for eye" punishment of the Sadducees. On the 
other hand, certain days of rejoicing, disregarded 
by the Sadducees, were proclaimed as half-holidays 
by the Pharisees. Witnesses in the law courts 
were no longer to be questioned merely upon the 
place where and the time when they had seen a 
crime committed, but they were expected to give 
the most detailed and minute evidence connected 
with it, so that the judge might be better able to 
pronounce a correct judgment and to detect the 
contradictory statements of witnesses. This was 
particularly designed as a protection against the 
charges of informers, w r ho were numerous enough 
in an age when conquerors and the conquered were 
constantly changing parts. A salutary measure 
also was enforced to lessen the number of divorce 
cases, which the literal interpretation of the Penta- 
teuchal divorce laws, as administered by the Saddu- 
cees, had failed in doing. The High Court, as re- 
organized by the Pharisees, ordered the husband to 
give his repudiated wife a certain sum of money, 
by which she could support herself, and, as there 
was but little current coin amongst a people whose 
wealth consisted principally in the fruits of the soil 
or in cattle, the husband would often pause before 
allowing a momentary fit of passion or excitement 
to influence his actions. 

One of the reforms of this time expressly attributed 
to Simon ben Shetach was the promotion of better 
instruction. In all large towns, high schools for the 
use of young men from the age of sixteen sprung 
up at his instance. But all study, we may presume, 
was entirely confined to the Holy Scriptures, and 


particularly to the Pentateuch and the study of the 
Law. Many details or smaller points in the Law 
which had been partly forgotten and partly neglected 
during the long rule of the Sadducees, that is to say, 
from Hyrcanus's oppression of the Pharisees until 
the commencement of Salome's reign, were once 
more introduced into daily life. Neglected customs 
were renewed with all pomp and solemnity, the 
days of their re-introduction being celebrated with 
rejoicing, and any public mourning or fast thereon 
was suspended. Thus the ceremony of pouring 
a libation of water upon the altar during the Feast 
of Tabernacles, which had been mockingly ridiculed 
by Alexander, was in time reinstated with enthusiasm, 
and became a favorite and distinctive rite. Upon 
these occasions, on the night succeeding the first 
day of the festival, the women's outer court of the 
Temple was brilliantly illuminated until it glowed 
like a sea of fire. All the people would then 
crowd to the holy mount to witness or take part 
in the proceedings. At times these bore a lively 
character, such as torch-light processions and danc- 
ing ; at others they took the more solemn form of 
musical services of song and praise. This jubilee 
would last the whole night. At break of day the 
priests announced with a blast of their trumpets 
that the march was about to commence. At every 
halting-place the trumpets gathered the people 
together, until a huge multitude stood assembled 
round the spring of Siloah. Thence the water was 
drawn in a golden ewer. In solemn procession it 
was carried back to the Temple, where the libation 
was performed. The water streamed over the 
altar, and the notes of the flute, heard only upon 
the most joyful occasions, mingled with the rapturous 
strains of melody that burst from countless instru- 

A similar national festival was the half-holiday of 
the wood-feast, held in honor of the wood that was 


offered to the altar of the Temple ; it fell upon the 
fifteenth day of Ab (August). A number of white- 
robed maidens were wont to assemble upon this 
occasion in some open space among the vine-trees, 
where, as they trod the measure of the dance, they 
chanted strophes of song in the Hebrew tongue. 
It was an opportunity for the Judaean youths, spec- 
tators of this scene, to select their partners for life. 
This festival, like the preceding one, was inaugurated 
by the Pharisees in opposition to Sadducaean customs. 
The Synhedrion seized upon the sacrificial ardor of 
the people to introduce a measure which, above all 
things, was calculated to arouse feelings of patriotism 
in the nation, and which was diametrically opposed 
to the views of their rivals. The Sadducees had 
declared that the daily offerings, and in fact the 
needs of the Temple, should not be paid for 
from a national treasury, but with individual, volun- 
tary contributions. But the Council, in the reign 
of Salome Alexandra, decreed that every Israelite 
from the age of twenty proselytes and freed slaves 
included should contribute at least a half-shekel 
yearly to the treasury of the Temple. In this way 
the daily sacrifices acquired a truly national character, 
as the whole nation contributed towards them. 
Three collections were instituted during the year : 
in Judaea at the beginning of spring ; in the trans- 
Jordanic countries, in Egypt and Syria, at the 
Feast of Weeks ; and in the yet more distant lands 
of Babylonia, Media and Asia Minor, at the Feast 
of Tabernacles. These last collections were the 
richest, the Judaeans who dwelt outside Palestine 
being very generous as well as very wealthy ; thus, 
instead of the silver or copper shekel or denaria, 
they offered gold staters and darics. Central places 
in each land were chosen where the offerings should 
be deposited until they could be taken to Jerusalem. 
The most distinguished Judaeans were selected to 
carry them thither, and they were called " holy mes- 


sengers." In the Mesopotamian and Babylonian 
towns of Nisibis and Nahardea (Naarda), treasure- 
houses were built for these Temple gifts, whence, 
under a strong escort to protect them from the 
Parthian and Nabathaean robber-hordes, they were 
safely borne to Jerusalem. The communities of 
Asia Minor had likewise their treasure-houses, 
Apamea and Laodicea, in Phrygia, Pergamus and 
Adramyttium, in the country of Aeolis. From 
this stretch of land nearly two hundred pounds 
weight of gold was sent to Jerusalem about twenty 
years after the first proclamation had been issued. 
From this we may gather what an immense rev- 
enue poured into the Temple, leaving a large sur- 
plus after all the requisites for divine service had 
been obtained. The Temple of Jerusalem became 
thereby in time an object of envy and of greed. 

So far, the revival, introduced by Judah ben 
Tabbai and Simon ben Shetach, bore a harmless 
character ; it reinstated old laws, created new ones, 
and sought means of impressing them upon the 
memory and attention of the people. But no re- 
action can remain within moderate bounds ; it 
moves naturally towards excesses. The Sadducees, 
who were unwilling to adopt the Pharisaic rendering 
of the Law, were summoned to appear before the 
seat of justice and were unsparingly condemned. 
The anxiety to exalt the Law and to banish all 
opposition in the rival party was so great that upon 
one occasion Judah ben Tabbai had a witness 
executed who had been convicted of giving false 
testimony in a trial for a capital crime. He was, 
in this instance, desirous of practically refuting the 
Sadducaean views, forgetting that he was at the 
same time breaking a law of the Pharisees. That 
law required all the witnesses to be convicted of 
perjury before allowing punishment to be inflicted ; 
and, as one witness alone could not establish an 
accusation, so one witness alone was not punishable. 


But the two chiefs were so clean-handed that Simon 
ben Shetach did not fail to upbraid his colleague 
on account of ill-advised haste, and Judah ben Tabbai 
evinced the profoundest remorse at the shedding 
of the innocent blood of the executed witness by 
resigning his office of president and by making 
a public acknowledgment of his contrition. A 
favorite maxim of Judah ben Tabbai reveals his 
gentle disposition. " Consider accused persons as 
lawbreakers only whilst before you for judgment ; 
the moment that is rendered, look upon them as 

Simon ben Shetach, who succeeded Judah as 
President of the Council, does not seem to have 
relaxed in severity towards the infringers of the 
Law. The rare case of witchcraft was once brought 
before him, when eighty women were condemned 
for the offense, and crucified in Ascalon. On ac- 
count of his unsparing severity, Simon ben Shetach 
brought upon himself such hatred of his opponents 
that they determined upon a fearful revenge. They 
incited two false witnesses to accuse his son of a 
crime punishable with death, in consequence of 
which he was actually condemned to die. On his 
way to the place of execution the young man 
uttered such vehement protestations of innocence 
that at last the witnesses themselves were affected, 
and confessed to their tissue of falsehoods. But 
when the judges were about to set free the con- 
demned, the prisoner himself drew their attention 
to their violation of the law, which enjoined that no 
belief was to be given witnesses who withdrew their 
previous testimony. " If you wish," said the con- 
demned youth to his father, " that the salvation of 
Israel should be wrought by your hand, consider me 
but the threshold over which you must pass without 
compunction." Both father and son showed them- 
selves worthy of their sublime task, that of guarding 
the integrity of the Law ; for to uphold it one sacri- 


ficed his life, and the other, his paternal love. Simon, 
the Judsean Brutus, let the law pursue its course, 
although he, as well as all the judges, were convinced 
of his son's innocence. 

The severity of the Pharisaic Synhedrion had 
naturally not spared the leaders of the Sadducees. 
Diogenes, the favorite of Alexander, and a number 
of others who had advised or authorized the execu- 
tion of the 800 Pharisees, expiated this act of cruelty 
with their lives. The most distinguished of the 
Sadducees began to be uneasy at this constant per- 
secution ; they felt the sword of justice hanging over 
their heads, ready to descend upon them if they were 
guilty of the slightest infringement of the Law. In 
fear of their lives they turned to Alexander's second 
son, Aristobulus, who, without being a warm adher- 
ent of the Sadducees, was prepared to be the pro- 
tector of their party. He sent their chiefs to Alex- 
andra, commending them warmly to her mercy. 
When they appeared before the queen they reminded 
her of their services to the late king, and of the 
terror with which their name had once inspired 
Judaea's neighbors, and they threatened to offer their 
valuable services to the Nabathaean king Aretas or 
to the Syrian monarch. They implored the queen 
to grant them a safe retreat in some fortress where 
they would not be under the constant supervision of 
the Pharisees. The gentle-hearted queen was so 
much moved by the tears of these gray-haired war- 
riors that she entrusted them with the command of 
most of the fortresses, reserving, however, the three 
strongest Hyrcanion, Alexandrion, and Machaerus. 
No political events of any great importance 
occurred during Alexandra's reign. Tigranes, king 
of Armenia, master of nearly the whole of Syria, had 
threatened to invade some of the Judaean provinces 
which had formerly belonged to the Syrian kingdom. 
The proximity of this ruler had greatly alarmed the 
queen, and she endeavored by gentle words and 


rich presents to prevent a contest with this power- 
ful Armenian king. Tigranes had received the 
Judaea n embassy, and accepted the queen's gifts 
most courteously, but they would hardly have pre- 
vented him from moving upon Judsea, had he not 
been compelled to devote himself to the defense of 
his own country from the attack of the Roman com- 
mander Lucullus (69). 

Alexandra fell hopelessly ill, and her illness occa- 
sioned the saddest of entanglements. The violent 
and ambitious Aristobulus, supposing that his 
mother destined his weak brother Hyrcanus as her 
successor, left the capital secretly, and arriving at the 
Galilean fortress of Gabata in the neighborhood of 


Sepphoris, upon the friendship of whose governor, 
the Sadducee Galaistes, he could rely, insisted upon 
its being entirely given up to him. He garrisoned 
it with mercenaries, furnished by some of the minor 
Syrian trans-Jordanic princes and the robber-hordes 
of Trachonitis, and was thus enabled to hold a large 
force at his command. Hyrcanus and the chiefs of 
the Synhedrion, fearing an impending civil war, 
entreated of the queen to take measures to prevent 
it, but without avail. Alexandra bade them trust to 
the army, to the fortresses that had remained faith- 
ful, and to the rich treasury, and devoted herself 
exclusively to preparation for death. She expired 
soon after, in the year 69, leaving her people 
and her kingdom to all the horrors of a civil war 
which was ultimately to destroy their dearly won 
independence. Salome Alexandra had reigned for 
only nine years ; she had witnessed the happy days 
of her people's freedom, and, when lying on her 
deathbed, may have felt in her troubled soul the 
presentiment that the coming night of slavery was 
at hand. She was the only queen in Judaean history 
whose name has been handed down to us with ven- 
eration, and she was also the last independent ruler 
of Judaea. 



Brothers contend for the throne Arrangement between the brothers 
The Idumasan Antipater Hyrcanus's weakness Aretas besieges 
Jerusalem Interference of Rome Pompey at Jerusalem The 
Judasan colony in Rome Flaccus in Asia Minor Cicero's oration 
against the Judaeans Weakening of the power of the Synhe- 
drion Shemaya and Abtalion Violent death of Aristobulus and 
his son Alexander Julius Caesar and the Judaeans Antipater's 
sons Phasael and Herod Herod before the Synhedrion Opera- 
tions of Cassius in Judaea Malich Antigonus as King Herod 
escapes to Rome. 

69 40 B. C. E. 

WHEN Providence has decreed that a State shall be 
destroyed, no event is more certain to hasten its 
fall than the contentions between two rival parties 
for the possession of the throne. The noblest 
upholders of the nation's rights are then invariably 
arrayed against each other, until at last the civil 
wars in which they are engaged are usually referred 
to some foreign ruler, whose yoke is all the more 
galling as he appears invariably in the light of a 
peacemaker with the olive branch in his hand. 

The death of the queen gave the first incentive to 
the war which broke out between the two brothers 
and divided the nation into two camps. To Hyr- 
canus II, her eldest son, the dying mother had, in 
right of his birth, bequeathed the throne. He, 
whose virtues would have graced the modest life of 
a private individual, but who would have been but 
an indifferent ruler even in a peaceful era, was cer- 
tainly not fitted to govern in troubled times. He 
did more harm by his good nature than many 
another could do by acts of tyranny. His younger 
brother was the direct opposite to him in character. 
Hyrcanus's cowardice contrasted vividly with the 



reckless courage of Aristobulus, a quality in which 
he resembled his father Alexander. Added to this, 
he possessed unlimited ambition, which blinded him 
to practical considerations and quitted him only 
with his last breath. His aim was to be the mighty 
ruler of Judaea, and with the means at his command 
to make the neighboring countries subject to his 
rule. But his rash impetuosity prevented him from 
being successful, and, instead of gathering laurels, 
he brought only contempt upon himself and his 
nation. Hardly had Alexandra expired when 
Aristobulus, at the head of his mercenaries and 
Sadducsean followers, marched upon Jerusalem for 
the purpose of dethroning his brother. Upon Hyr- 
canus's side were ranged the Pharisees, the people 
and the army. The wife and children of Aristo- 
bulus had been imprisoned as hostages in the citadel 
of Baris in Jerusalem. The brothers met at Jericho, 
each at the head of his army. Hyrcanus was de- 
feated and fled to Jerusalem, the greater number 
of his troops going over to Aristobulus. The 
younger brother attacked and took the Temple, 
where many of his opponents had sought refuge. 
Hyrcanus was obliged to lay down his arms when 
he saw that the invader was master of the sanctuary 
and the capital. The two brothers met again, 
agreed upon making peace, and signed their cove- 
nant in the Temple. Aristobulus, as the one more 
capable of ruling, was to wear the royal crown, 
whilst Hyrcanus was to retain the high priest's 
diadem. This agreement was ratified by the mar- 
riage of Aristobulus's son Alexander to Alexandra, 
daughter of Hyrcanus. 

Aristobulus II, who had attained royal dignity by 
a successful stroke of arms, does not appear to have 
in any way excited the displeasure of the Pharisees. 
The position of the two parties in Judaea now 
assumed a different character, and they might have 
become extinct as parties, had it not been for the 


advent of a man whose measureless ambition and 
personal interest brought him to the fore, and who, 
together with his family, became the vampire of the 
nation, sucking its noblest blood away. This man 
was Antipater, the descendant of a distinguished 
Idumaean family, who, in common with all other 
Idumaeans, had been compelled by John Hyrcanus 
to accept Judaism. Never had a mistaken action 
found its punishment more surely and swiftly. The 
fanaticism of Hyrcanus I was now to bring ruin 
upon his house and family. The wealth and diplo- 
matic talents of Antipater had raised him to the 
post of satrap of Idumaea during the reign of Alex- 
ander Jannaeus and of his queen. His courteous 
acts and generous presents had won the affections 
not only of his countrymen, but also those of the 
inhabitants of Gaza and Ascalon. 

Hyrcanus II, who required a guide in his helpless- 
ness, bestowed his confidence upon Antipater, who 
abused it, and exerted his influence to his own 
advantage. The Idumaean lost no opportunity of 
reminding Hyrcanus of the degrading part that he had 
had to play in having been called to the throne only 
to relinquish it to his younger brother. So success- 
fully did Antipater work upon his feelings, making 
him believe that Aristobulus was actually planning his 
death, that Hyrcanus was tempted into breaking the 
covenant he had sworn to respect, by calling in a 
foreign ruler to decide between the claims of the two 
brothers. Antipater had laid his plans beforehand 
with Aretas, king of the Nabathseans. He fled one 
night from Jerusalem, bearing Hyrcanus with him, 
and arrived by forced marches at Petra, the capital 
of the Nabathaean king. Aretas was ready to help 
Hyrcanus, having been richly bribed by Antipater, 
and having the prospect of recapturing twelve cities 
east and south of the Dead Sea, which had been 
bought so dearly by the Hasmonaeans. He marched, 
therefore, upon Judaea, with an army of fifty thousand 


men, whose numbers were augmented by the fol- 
lowers of Hyrcanus (66). Thus the peace which 
the nation had enjoyed for nearly three years was 
disturbed for many a long day by the scheming 
ambition of Antipater and the boundless folly of 

Aretas laid siege to Jerusalem in the beginning 
of the spring. To escape so deplorable a sight, 
many of the most distinguished Judseans (probably 
some of the Pharisaic leaders amongst them) fled 
from the capital to Egypt. The siege lasted for 
several months, the strong walls of the city to a 
certain extent making up for the insufficient num- 
bers of Aristobulus's warriors. But provisions began 
to fail, and, what was a far more serious consider- 
ation for the pious Judaeans, the animals necessary 
for sacrificial purposes, particularly for the coming 
Paschal feast, were sensibly diminishing. But Aristo- 
bulus relied, and rightly so, upon the piety of the 
Judaean besiegers, w r ho would not dare refuse the 
required victims for the altar. He ordered baskets 
to be lowered each day from the walls, containing the 
price of the lambs that were placed in the baskets, 
and were drawn up in return. But as the siege 
dragged on, and as the end seemed far off, some 
counselor we may imagine that it was Antipater 
advised Hyrcanus to hurry on the final scene, and 
to desist from supplying the sacrificial lamb. The 
basket that was lowered after this advice had been 
tendered was found to contain, when received within 
the city walls, a pig. This insult to the Law created 
a feeling of disgust amongst the besieged, and so 
deeply affected them that subsequently the breeding 
of swine was forbidden by the Synhedrion. 

The adherents of Hyrcanus were guilty of yet 
another enormity. Amongst those who had left the 
besieged city was a pious man called Onias, w r ho 
had once successfully prayed for rain in a drought. 
The soldiers of Hyrcanus dragged him from his 


solitary retreat, and believing that Heaven would 
again answer his prayer, commanded him to pro- 
nounce a curse upon Aristobulus and his followers. 
But instead of giving vent to a curse, the old man ex- 
claimed with fitting dignity, " Lord of the universe, 
as the besieged and the besiegers both belong to 
Thy people, I entreat of Thee not to grant the evil 
prayers of either party." The coarse soldiers could 
not understand the feelings that prompted such 
words, and murdered him as if he had been a crim- 
inal. In this way they thought they could silence 
the spirit of Judaism rising to protest against this 
civil war. But although the mighty ones of the land 
defied all right and proper feeling, the people were 
grievously distressed, and believed that the earth- 
quake and the hurricane that devasted Palestine 
and other parts of Asia at that time were the 
visible signs of Divine wrath. 

But more terrible than earthquake or hurricane 
was -the harbinger of evil that appeared in Judaea, 
" the beast with iron teeth, brazen claws, and heart 
of stone, that was to devour much, and trample the 
rest under foot," which came to the Judaean nation, 
to drink its blood, to eat its flesh and to suck 
its marrow. The hour had struck when the Roman 
eagle, with swift flight, was to swoop down upon 
Israel's inheritance, circling wildly round the bleed- 
ing nation, lacerating her with cruel wounds and 
finally leaving her a corpse. 

Like inexorable fate, Rome watched over the 
destinies of the people of western Asia, plundering, 
dividing and destroying. Judaea was destined to 
the same lot. The bird of prey scented its booty 
from afar with astonishing precision, and hastened 
to put out the last spark of life. It came to Judaea 
for the first time in the person of Scaurus, a legate 
of Pompey. In leaving for Asia, Scaurus hoped to 
exchange an insignificant position in his own country 
for a powerful one in foreign lands. He had imag- 


ined that in Syria he might acquire wealth and honor, 
but finding that country already in possession of 
other birds of prey, he turned his attention to Judaea. 
There he was warmly welcomed by the rival brothers, 
who looked upon him as an arbitrator in their diffi- 
culties. They both sent ambassadors to meet him, 
and as they knew that the Romans were not indiff- 
erent to gold, they took care not to appear empty- 
handed before him. But Aristobulus's gifts pre- 
vailed ; he sent three hundred talents, whilst Hyr- 
canus, or more properly speaking Antipater, gave 
little but promises. Roman interest accorded well 
with the greed of Scaurus. The Republic, fearing 
the growth of his power, began by insisting that the 
Nabathaean king should retire from the civil war 
in Palestine ; Scaurus was therefore able to com- 
mand Aretas to raise the siege of Jerusalem. Aretas 
complied, but was overtaken with his army at Rabbath 
Ammon by the troops of Aristobulus and defeated. 
For the moment Aristobulus might fancy that he 
was the victorious monarch of Judaea. The direc- 
tion that Roman statesmanship had taken, and the 
slow, deliberate movements that the commander 
Pompey employed against Mithridates, lulled him 
into the delusion that his monarchy was one of last- 
ing duration. A lover of war like his father, he 
began immediately to make inroads into neighbor- 
ing provinces, and also organized a fleet for warlike 
purposes. For two years Aristobulus nursed this 
vain dream, and he may even have wished to establish 
a show of independence by ordering, during this 
interval, coins to be struck in his name. But Anti- 
pater's inventive genius soon dissipated this dream ; 
for in the arts of bribery and diplomacy he was far 
superior to Aristobulus. Antipater had already in- 
duced Scaurus to side with Hyrcanus, win for 
him the favor of Pompey, who was at this time 
gathering laurels in Syria. Pompey looked upon 
the quarrel between the two brothers as an excel- 


lent means for adding another conquest to his long 
lists of triumphs. Although Aristobulus had made 
him a magnificent gift, valuable in point of art as 
of intrinsic merit, the contest had not been brought 
to an end. This gift consisted of a golden vine, 
bearing clusters of golden grapes and golden 
leaves, valued at five hundred talents, and it had 
probably been designed by King Alexander for the 
adornment of the Temple. This work of art aroused 
the admiration of all those who saw it, and for that 
reason Pompey hastened to send it to Rome, where 
it was placed in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, 
as the harbinger of his triumphs. But the pious 
Judseans, naturally, would not allow their own sanc- 
tuary to be deprived of such an ornament, and 
spontaneously made contributions, some for golden 
grapes, others for golden leaves ; so that another 
golden vine, in later days, graced the outer court of 
the Temple. 

Although Pompey's vanity was flattered by this 
magnificent present, he was far from deciding in 
favor of the donor. He had the insolence to com- 
mand Antipater and Nicodemus, the two envoys of 
the rival brothers, to bid their masters appear^ in 
person at Damascus, where the vexed question 
should be discussed, and where he would decide in 
favor of one of the two princes. In spite of the 
deep humiliation which each felt, both Hyrcanus 
and Aristobulus appeared, and upheld their indi- 
vidual claims ; the one resting upon his rights 
of birth, the other upon his capacity for govern- 
ing. But a third party had also appeared before 
Pompey, which was to represent the right of 
the nation apart from the angry princes. Weary 
of the Hasmonsean quarrels, a republican party 
had sprung up, which was ready to govern the 
Judaean community, according to the letter of the 
Law, without an hereditary sovereign. The repub- 
licans especially complained that the last of the 


Hasmonseans had changed the Judsean form of 
government from a hierarchy to a monarchy, in 
order to reduce the nation to servitude. Pompey, 
however, gave ear neither to the murmurs of the 
republicans nor to the arguments of the two 
brothers. It was not his intention to put an end 
to the strife ; what he desired was, in the guise of a 
peaceful arbitrator, to bring Judaea under the Roman 
rule. He soon saw that the weak-minded Hyrcanus 
(under the tutelage of a designing minister) would 
be better adapted for the part of a ward of Rome 
than the daring Aristobulus, and he inwardly deter- 
mined to support the weaker prince. But as he 
feared that by too rash a decision he would only be 
involved in a long contest with Aristobulus in an 
inaccessible country, and that he would only delay 
his triumphal entry into Rome, he endeavored to 
put off the younger brother with empty promises. 
Aristobulus, however, saw through the snare that 
was prepared for him, and determined to make sure 
of his freedom whilst there was yet time. He, 
therefore, entrenched himself in the citadel of Alex- 
andrion, intending to oppose the invasion of the 
enemy from the walls of the fortress. But Roman 
greed of conquest was now to manifest itself in 
all its abhorrent nakedness. 

The Roman commander was pleased to look 
upon this prince's justifiable act of self-defense as 
evidence of insubordination, and to treat him as an 
obstinate rebel. He crossed the Jordan at Beth- 
shean, and taking the field against Aristobulus, com- 
manded him to surrender, following up this com- 
mand by a series of delusive promises and serious 
threats, such as would have induced a more wily 
man to take a false step. The unfortunate prince 
surrendered the fortress of Alexandrion, but soon 
repenting of this folly, returned to entrench himself 
behind the strong walls of the city of Jerusalem, 
whither Pompey followed him. When the Roman 


commander arrived at Jericho he heard, to his 
infinite satisfaction, of the suicide of Mithridates, the 
great and dangerous enemy of the Roman State, 
and he felt that he had now only to subdue Aristo- 
bulus before celebrating his triumphs in Rome. 
It seemed as if this end would be easily attained ; 
for Aristobulus, impelled by fear, came penitently 
to the feet of Pompey, loading him with presents, 
and promising to deliver Jerusalem into his hands. 
For this purpose Aristobulus started for the capital, 
accompanied by the legate Gabinius ; but their 
advance was repelled by the patriots, who closed 
the gates of Jerusalem upon them, and Pompey was 
compelled to lead his army against the city. The 
Hyrcanists, or lovers of peace, as they were called, 
opened their gates to the enemy ; but the patriots 
entrenched themselves upon the Mount of the 
Sanctuary, and destroying the bridge that connected 
the Temple with the town, prepared for a desperate 
defense. Pompey, much against his will, found that 
he was involved in a regular siege, the Temple 
Mount being strongly fortified. Then he sent to 
Tyre for his battering-rams, and ordered trees to be 
felled for bridging over the moats. The siege 
lasted for a long while, and might have continued 
still longer, had not the storming of the fortress 
been rendered easier to the besiegers by the 
patriots' strict observance of the Sabbath-day. In 
accordance with either a Pharisaic or a Sadducsean 
rendering of the Law, the besieged declared that 

^j ^j 

they were permitted to resist an attack of the 
invaders on the Sabbath, but that they were 
infringing upon the sanctity of that day if they 
merely defended the walls from the enemy's on- 
slaughts. As soon as the Romans were aware of 
this distinction, they turned it to their own advan- 
tage. They let their weapons rest on the Sabbath- 
day, and worked steadily at the demolishing of the 
walls. Thus it happened that upon one Sabbath, in 


the month of Sivan (June, 63 B. c.), a tower of the 
Temple fell, and a breach was effected by which 
the most daring of the Romans prepared a way for 
entering the Sanctuary. The legions of Rome and 
the foreign mercenaries crowded into the court of 
the Temple, and killed the priests as they stood 
sacrificing before the altar. Many of the unfortu- 
nate victims threw themselves headlong from the 
battlements into the depths below, whilst others lit 
their own funeral pyre. It is believed that twelve 
thousand Judaeans met their death upon this day. 
Pompey then penetrated into the Sanctuary, in 
order to satisfy his curiosity as to the nature of 
the Judsean worship, about which the most contra- 
dictory reports prevailed. The Roman general was 
not a little astonished at finding within the sacred 
recesses of the Holy of Holies, neither an ass's 
head nor, indeed, images of any sort. Thus the 
malicious fictions busily circulated by Alexandrian 
writers, and of a character so prejudicial to the 
Judaeans, were now shown to be false. The en- 
trance of the Roman conqueror into the Temple, 
though deplorable enough, was in a way favorable to 
Judaism. Whether he was penetrated by awe at 
the sublime simplicity of the Holy of Holies, or 
whether he did not wish to be designated as the 
robber of sanctuaries, we know not ; but, wonderful 
to relate, Pompey controlled his greed for gold 
and left the treasury, containing 2000 talents, un- 
touched. But the independence of the nation 
ceased forever from that hour. Exactly a century 
after the Maccabees had freed their people from the 
tyranny of the Syrians, their descendants brought 
down the tyranny of the Romans upon Judaea. 

What did Hyrcanus gain by his supplication for 
aid from the Republic ? Pompey deprived him of 
his royal title, only leaving him the dignity of the 
high priesthood, with the doubtful appellation of 
ethnarch, and made him the ward of Antipater, who 


was named governor of the country. The walls of 
Jerusalem were razed to the ground, Judsea put 
into the category of conquered provinces, and a tax 
was levied upon the capital. The territory was 
brought within narrower confines, and its extent 
became once more what it had been in pre-Has- 
monsean times. Several seaports lying along the 
coast, and inhabited by Greeks, as well as those 
trans-Jordanic towns which Hyrcanus and Alexan- 
der had conquered after hard fighting, and had 
incorporated with Judsea, were declared to be free 
towns by Pompey, and were placed under the 
guardianship of the Roman governor of Syria. 
But these cities, particularly the trans-Jordanic ones, 
joined together in a defensive and offensive league, 
calling themselves the Decapolis. Pompey ordered 
the most determined of his prisoners of war, the 
zealots, to be executed, whilst the rest were taken 
to Rome. The Judsean prince, Aristobulus, his son 
Antigonus, his two daughters, and his uncle Absa- 
lom were forced to precede Pompey's triumphal car, 
in the train of the conquered Asiatic kings and 
kings' sons. Whilst Zion veiled her head in mourn- 
ing, Rome was reveling in her victories ; but the 
Judaean prisoners that had been dragged to Rome 
were to become the nucleus of a community destined 
to carry on a new kind of warfare against long- 
established Roman institutions, and ultimately to 
modify or partly destroy them. 

There were, without doubt, many Judseans living 
in Rome and in other Italian cities before Pompey's 
conquests, who may have emigrated into Italy from 
Egypt and Asia Minor for commercial objects. As 
merchants, bringing grain from the Nile country, or 
tribute money from Asia Minor, they may have come 
into contact with the Roman potentates. But these 
emigrants could hardly have formed a regular com- 
munal organization, for there were no authorized 
teachers of the Law amongst them. Probably, how- 


ever, some learned men may have followed in Pom- 
pey's train of captives, who were ransomed by their 
compatriots, and persuaded to remain in Rome. 
The descendants of these prisoners were called 
according to Roman law Liber tini (the freed ones). 
The Judaean quarter in Rome lay upon the right 
bank of the Tiber, on the slope of Mount Vatican, 
and a bridge leading across that river to the Vatican 
was known for a long while by the name of the 
Bridge of the Judseans (Pons Judaeorum). Theodus, 
one of the Judaeans settled in Rome, introduced 
into his own community a substitute for the pas- 
chal lamb, which could not be eaten outside of Jeru- 
salem, and the loss of which was a bitter deprivation 
to the exiles. This aroused the displeasure of the 
Judaeans in the home country, who wrote to Theodus : 
" If thou wert not Theodus, we should excommuni- 
cate thee." 

The Roman Judaeans influenced, to a certain 
extent, the course of Roman policy. For as the 
original emigrants, as well as the ransomed captives, 
enjoyed the power of voting in public assemblies, 
they were able at times, by their combined action 
on a preconcerted plan, by their assiduity, by their 
temperate and passionless conception of the situa- 
tion, perhaps also by their keen intelligence, to turn 
the scale upon some popular question. So impor- 
tant was their quiet influence that the eloquent but 
intolerant Cicero, who had learned to hate the 
Judaeans from his master Apollonius Molo, was 
afraid on one occasion to give vent to his anti- 
Judaean feelings in a public speech, for fear of stir- 
ring them up against him. He had to defend the 
unjust cause of a praetor Flaccus, who was accused 
of having been guilty of numerous extortions during 
his government of the Asia Minor provinces. 
Amongst other things, Flaccus had seized upon the 
votive offerings of the Temple (aurum Judaorum) 
given by the community of Asia Minor about two 


hundred pounds of gold, collected by the Judaean 
inhabitants of the towns of Apamea, Laodicea, 
Adramyttium, and Pergamus (62). In order to 
justify his proceedings Flaccus cited a resolution of 
the Senate, by which all exportation of money was 
forbidden from Roman to foreign provinces ; and 
although Judaea had been conquered by Roman arms, 
yet she did not enjoy the honor of being enrolled 
amongst the provinces of the Republic. The Roman 
Judaeans were intensely interested in this trial, and 
many of them were present among the populace. 
The cowardly Cicero was so much afraid of them 
that he would have liked to speak in a low 
tone in order to be heard by the Judges but 
not by the Judaeans. In the course of his defense 
he made use of an unworthy piece of sophistry, 
which might have made an impression upon some 
bigoted Roman, but which could hardly satisfy an 
intelligent mind. " It requires great decision of 
character," he said, " to oppose the barbaric super- 
stitions of the Judaeans and, for the good of our 
country, to show proper contempt towards these 
seditious people, who invade our public assemblies. 
If Pompey did not avail himself of a conqueror's 
rights, and left the treasures of the Temple untouched, 
we may be sure he did not restrain himself out of 
reverence for the Judaean sanctuary, but out of 
astuteness, to avoid giving the suspicious and slan- 
derous Judaean nation an opportunity of accusing 
him ; for otherwise he would hardly have spared 
foreign, still less Judaean, sanctuaries. When Jeru- 
salem was unconquered, and when the Judaeans were 
living in peace, they displayed a deeply-rooted 
antipathy to the glory of the Roman State, to the 
dignity of the Roman name, and to the laws of our 
ancestors. During the last war the Judaean nation 
proved most effectually how bitterly they hate us. 
How little this nation is beloved by the immortal 
gods is now evident, as her country is conquered 


and leased out." What impression this speech 
made upon the audience, and what decision was 
given to Flaccus, are unknown. A year later Cicero 
was punished by a sentence of banishment. He 
was not allowed to be seen within eighty miles of 
Rome, and his villas were razed to the ground. 

After Pompey's departure from Syria, the thral- 
dom imposed upon dismembered Judaea became more 
onerous than before, because she was left in the 
anomalous condition of a partly conquered province 
and a partly independent country. The powerful 
minister of Hyrcanus contributed to make this con- 
dition lasting and oppressive. He endeavored to 
strengthen his connection with Rome by munificent 
presents, trusting that the Republic would support 
him, in spite of his unpopularity with the Judaean 
people, who hated him as the cause of their subjec- 
tion. With the sweat from Judaea's brow he sus- 
tained the Roman commander Scaurus, who had 
opened a campaign against the Nabathaean king, 
Aretas. Meanwhile Alexander II, the eldest son 
of Aristobulus, escaping from captivity and arriving 
in Judaea, gained the support of the patriots, and 
putting himself at the head of fifteen hundred horse 
and ten thousand foot soldiers, marched upon Jeru- 
salem. Hyrcanus, or more properly speaking his 
master Antipater, could not resist so great a force, 
and left the capital to Alexander, who entered and 
had it fortified. The great Roman power fought 
alternately upon either side, according to the bribes 
that were offered its officials. Alexander felt so 
secure of his position that he had coins struck with 
the following inscription in Greek and Hebrew, 
" King Alexander and High Priest Jonathan." Aulus 
Gabinius, however, the governor of Syria, and the 
most unscrupulous of the Roman extortioners of his 
times, succeeded in ending this revolt and in subdu- 
ing Alexander. The death-stroke that awaited the 
latter was only warded off by his mother, who. 


embracing the knees of the Roman commander, 
entreated him to show mercy to her son. 

Gabinius succeeded in weakening the unity of the 
Judaean State, which had of late been so unworthily 
represented by the last of the Hasmonaeans, but the 
integrity of which had always been so jealously 
watched over by the Great Council. Judaea was no 
longer to be an independent State with self-govern- 
ing and legislative powers over the whole country, 
but was to be divided into five provinces, each hav- 
ing its own independent Senate or Synhedrion for 
the control of home affairs. These assemblies were 
held at specially appointed towns, at Jerusalem, 
Gazara, Emmaus, Jericho, and Sepphoris ; and 
Judaeans selected from the aristocratic party, who 
were well disposed towards Rome, were placed at 
the head of these councils. 

Although the fact of having dismembered the 

^5 <j 

State testified in favor of Gabinius's political insight, 
yet he deceived himself as regarded the ultimate 
success of his plans. As the Synhedrion had grown 
out of the innermost life of the whole nation and 
had not been forced upon it by outside influences, it 
was no easy matter to break its centralizing power. 
The new scheme of dividing Judaea into five prov- 
inces was hardly introduced before it disappeared 
with Gabinius, leaving no trace of its existence. The 
Great Council remained as before the heart of the 
people, but its power was lessened by unfavorable 
circumstances. From that time it was called the 
" Synhedrion," and to distinguish it from the small 
Councils, the " Great Synhedrion." But it could not 
boast of any political power, for that was now 
entirely in the hands of the Romans. Simon ben 
Shetach, the celebrated president of the Council, 
was succeeded by his two most distinguished disci- 
ples, Shemaya (Sameas) and Abtalion (Pollion). 
We can trace the despairing sentiments of that gen- 
eration in some of their sayings which have been 


handed down to us : " Love thy handicraft and shun 
governing ; estrange thyself from worldly power." 
" Be prudent in your words," said Abtalion to the 
law-framers ; " do not bring upon yourselves the 
penalty of exile, for your disciples would have to 
follow you into a land full of ensnaring influences 
(poisonous waters) which they would imbibe, and the 
sacred name of God would be through them pro- 
faned." These two presidents of the Synhedrion 
seem to have been Alexandrian Judseans, or at least 
they must have spent some years of exile in Alex- 
dria, perhaps with their master Judah ben Tabbai. 

During their twenty-five years of official life 
(60-35), whilst the political power of the Synhedrion 
was waning, their energy appears to have been 
directed towards its inner or moral power. They 
assembled a circle of eager disciples around them, 
to whom they taught the tenets of the Law, their 
origin and application. They were indeed accred- 
ited in after ages with so profound a knowledge of 
the Law, that to cite Shemaya or Abtalion in support 
of an interpretation was considered indisputable 
proof of its accuracy. One of their most distin- 
guished and most grateful disciples called them 
" the two great men of the era," and the peculiarly 
careful study of the Law, for which the Pharisees 
became so justly celebrated, may be said to have 
originated with them. 

For some little time the history of Judaea con- 
tains nothing but accounts of insubordination to 
Roman despotism and its unhappy consequences, 
of scenes of oppression and robbery, and of acts of 
spoliation of the Temple. Aristobulus, who had 
succeeded in escaping from Rome with his son 
Antigonus, now appeared in Judaea. The rule of 
the Romans was of so galling a character that Aris- 
tobulus, who had not been a favorite in the old days, 
was now received with unbounded enthusiasm. Suffi- 
cient arms could not be procured for the volunteers 


who flocked to his camp. He was joined by Pitho- 
laus, a Judaean commander, who had once served as 
a general to Hyrcanus. Aristobulus placed himseif 
at the head of 8000 men, and began immediately to 
regarrison the citadel of Alexandrion, whence he 
hoped to exhaust the Romans by guerrilla warfare. 
But his impatient temper led him into open battle, in 
which a large part of his army was utterly destroyed, 
and the rest scattered. Still unsubdued, Aristobulus 
threw himself with the remnant of his followers into 
the citadel of Machaerus, but at the approach of the 
Romans with their battering-rams he was obliged 
to capitulate, and for the second time was sent with 
his sons into captivity at Rome (56). 

Another insurrection, organized by his son Alex- 
ander, who had obtained his freedom from the then 
all-powerful Pompey, was doomed to come to as dis- 
astrous a termination. Galled by the oppression of 
the Governor of Syria, the inhabitants of that unfor- 
tunate country sent an army of 30,000 men to join 
Alexander. They commenced by killing all the 
Romans who came in their way, Gabinius's troops 
not being strong enough to oppose them. But the 
Governor craftily succeeded in detaching some of 
Alexander's followers from his ranks, and then 
tempted the Judaean prince into open battle. At 
Mount Tabor (in 55), the Judaeans were signally 

Meanwhile the three most eminent men of Rome 
Julius Caesar, distinguished by his brilliant saga- 
city, Pompey by his martial renown, and Crassus by 
his boundless wealth had agreed to break the 
power of the Senate, and to manage the affairs of 
the State according to their own will. The trium- 
virs began by dividing the fairest lands into prov- 
inces, which they separately appropriated. Syria 
fell to the share of Crassus, who was intensely avar- 
icious in spite of his vast riches. Judaea from this 
time on was annexed to Syria quite as a matter of 


course. Crassus went out of his way, when march- 
ing- against the Parthians, to enter Jerusalem, being 
tempted thither by the rich treasury of the Temple. 
He made no secret of his wish to seize upon the 
two thousand talents that Pompey had spared. In 
order to satisfy his greed, a pious priest, Eleazer, 
delivered up to him a solid bar of gold, the exist- 
ence of which, hidden as it was in a hollow staff of 
curiously carved wood, had been unknown to the 
priests. Upon the receipt of this gift, Crassus 
swore solemnly that he would spare the treasury of 
the Temple. But when was a promise known to be 
binding that was made by a Roman to a Judsean ? 
He took the golden bar, the two thousand talents, 
and all the golden vessels of the Temple, which were 
worth another eight thousand talents (54). Laden 
with these and other spoils of the Sanctuary, Crassus 
marched against the Parthians ; but the Roman 
arms had always failed to subdue this people. Cras- 
sus was slain, and his army was so entirely disabled 
that his legate, Cassius Longinus, returned to Syria 
with scarcely the tenth part of the army of one hun- 
dred thousand men (53). The Parthians pursued 
the weakened army, and the Syrians, weary of the 
Roman yoke, lent them secret aid. To the Judaeans 
this seemed an auspicious moment also for their own 

It fell to Pitholaus to call the army together, 
which he led against Cassius. Fortune, however, 
always deserted the Judaean arms when they were 
turned against the Romans. Shut up in Tarichea 
on the lake of Tiberias, the troops were obliged to 
surrender. Upon the urgent demand of Antipater, 
Pitholaus was sentenced to death by Cassius, and 
thirty thousand Judaean warriors were sold into 
slavery (52). 

But the imprisoned Aristobulus looked forward 
once again to the hope of placing himself upon his 
father's throne and of banishing Antipater into 


obscurity. Julius Caesar, the greatest man that 
Rome ever produced, had openly defied the Senate, 
and broken with his associate Pompey. The bitter 
strife between the two Roman potentates lit the 
torch of war in the most distant provinces of the 
Roman empire. Caesar had given Aristobulus his 
freedom, and in order to weaken Pompey's influence, 
had sent him with two legions to Palestine to create 
a diversion in his favor. But the partisans of Pom- 
pey contrived to poison the Judaean prince. His 
followers embalmed his body in honey and carried 
it to Jerusalem, where it was buried beside the 
bodies of the Hasmonaean princes. His eldest son, 
the gallant Alexander, was decapitated by order of 
Scipio, a follower of Pompey, at Antioch. The 
widow of Aristobulus and his surviving son Anti- 
gonus found protection with Ptolemy, prince of 
Chalcis, whose son Philippion had fallen in love 
with Alexandra, the daughter of Aristobulus, and 
had brought her to his father's court. But Ptolemy, 
out of criminal love to his own daughter-in-law, 
caused his son to be murdered and married the 

Antipater continued to be Pompey's faithful ally, 
until the Roman general met with a miserable end 
in Egypt. Then the Idumaean offered his services 
to Caesar. When the great general found himself 
in Egypt, without sufficient forces, without news 
from Rome, in the midst of a hostile population, 
Antipater evinced a touching eagerness to help him, 
which did not remain unrewarded. He provided 
the army of Caesar's ally, Mithridates, king of Perga- 
mus, with all necessaries, and sent him a contingent 
of Judaean troops ; he aided him in conquering 
Pelusium, and conciliated the Egyptian-Judoeans 
who had taken the part of his opponent. He was 
now well able to forego the favor of Hyrcanus. 
To no effect did Antigonus, the last surviving son 
of Aristobulus, seek an interview with Caesar, in 


which he dwelt upon his father's and his brother's 
loyalty to the Roman general ; Antipater had but 
to display his wounds, which he had received in the 
very last campaign, to gain the victory over his 
rival. Caesar, who was an astute reader of men, 
and who had himself revolted from the legitimate 


order of things, knew well enough how to value 
Antipater's loyalty and energy, and did not support 
the rightful claims of Antigonus. Out of considera- 
tion for Antipater (47), Hyrcanus was proclaimed 
high priest and ethnarch, and to Judaea was given 
some relief from her burdens. The walls of Jeru- 
salem were rebuilt, the provinces that formerly 
belonged to Judaea, namely, Galilee, the towns in 
the plains of Jezreel, and Lydda, were once more 
made part of her territory. The Judaeans were no 
longer forced to provide winter quarters for the 
Roman legions, although the landowners were 
obliged to give the fourth part of their harvest 
every second year to the Roman troops. 

Caesar was altogether benevolent to the Judaeans, 
and rewarded them for their loyalty. To the 
Alexandrian Judaeans he granted many privileges, 
confirming their long-enjoyed equality with the 
Greeks, and permitting them to be governed by a 
prince of their own (Ethnarch). Money was again 
liberally provided for the Temple. Caesar enabled 
the supplies to reach their destination. He pre- 
vented the Greek inhabitants of Asia Minor from 
molesting the Judaeans of those provinces, from sum- 
moning them before the courts of justice on the 
Sabbath, from interfering with their public assem- 
blages and the building of their synagogues, and 
in general from disturbing them in their religious 
observances (47-44). Caesar must also have ex- 
tended his generosity to the Judaean community in 
Rome, for they evinced the warmest devotion to 
his memory. 

But in spite of all these favors, the Judaean nation 


as a whole remained cold and distant. The foreign 
communities of Judaeans might bless Caesar as their 
benefactor, but the Palestinean Judaeans could see 
in him only the Roman, the patron of the hated 
Idumaean. So defiant was the attitude of the nation 
that Antipater felt himself compelled to threaten 
the disaffected with the triple wrath of Caesar, of 
Hyrcanus and of himself, whilst he promised liberal 
bounty to the obedient and loyal Judaeans. Mean- 
while, a small body of men taken from the army of 
Aristobulus had assembled under the command of 
Ezekias upon one of the mountain heights of Galilee, 
where they only awaited an opportune moment for 
raising the standard of revolt against Rome. The 
Romans, it is true, only looked upon this little army 
as a band of robbers, and upon Ezekias as a robber 
chieftain, but to the Judaeans they were the avengers 
of their honor and their freedom. For they were 
deeply mortified that Antipater had placed the 
reins of government in the hands of his sons, and 
that he cared only for the growing power of his 
house. Of the four sons born to him by Kypros, 
the daughter of the King of Arabia, he proclaimed 
Phasael, the eldest, Governor of Jerusalem and 
Judaea, and the second, Herod, a youth of the age 
of twenty, Governor of Galilee. 

This prince was destined to become the evil genius 
of the Judaean nation ; it was he who brought her as 
a bound captive to Rome ; it was he who placed his 
feet triumphantly upon her neck. Like an ominous 
cloud weighted down with misfortune, he seems from 
the very first to have thrown a dark shadow upon 
the life of the nation, which, as it slowly but surely 
advanced, quenched all light in the gathering dark- 
ness and withered all growth, until nothing remained 
but a scene of desolation. True to his father's 
policy, Herod began by basely flattering Rome 
and by wounding the Judaean spirit. In order to 
gain favor with Caesar, and also to establish the 


security of his family, he undertook a campaign 
against the followers of Ezekias ; he captured the 
leader of the band, and, without any trial or show of 
justice, sentenced him and his followers to decapi- 
tation. Eager were the words of praise and of thanks 
awarded to him by the Syrians and the Romans ; 
he was called the " Robber-subduer"; but whilst 
he was loaded with favors by Sextus Caesar, the 
Roman Governor of Syria, all true patriots mourned. 

The bitter degradation which the people suffered 
at the hands of this Idumaean family inspired some 
of the most distinguished Judaeans to lay before the 
weak-minded Hyrcanus the true state of their own 
and of their High Priest's new position. They 
explained to him that his dignity was but an empty 
name, that all real power lay with Antipater and his 
sons. They pointed to the execution of Ezekias 
and his followers as an act of gross contempt for 
the La\v. These bitter complaints would have had 
but little effect upon the weak Hyrcanus, had not 
the mothers of the slain torn his heart with their 
cries of anguish. Whenever he appeared in the 
Temple they threw themselves before him and 
entreated him not to let the death of their sons 
remain unavenged. 

At last Hyrcanus permitted the Synhedrion to 
summon Herod before the seat of justice. But 
Antipater did not fail to warn his son of the terrible 
storm that was gathering over his head, and of the 
danger of entering Jerusalem alone and unarmed; 
while at the same time he cautioned him not to ap- 
pear surrounded by too many troops, and so arouse 
the suspicions of Hyrcanus. Herod appeared at 
the appointed time, but with an armed escort, and 
with a letter from Sextus Caesar, making the king 
answerable for the life of the favorite. Thus the 
day arrived for the great trial to which all the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem were looking forward with 
feverish impatience. \Yhen the members of the 


court had taken their places, the accused, clad in 
purple, with aggressive demeanor, and escorted by 
his followers, appeared before them. At this sight 
most of the accusers felt their courage fail them ; 
Herod's bitterest enemies looked downcast and 
shamefaced, and even Hyrcanus was embarrassed. 
A painful silence ensued, during which each man 
stood breathless. Only one member found words 
to save the waning dignity of the Council, the 
President, Shemaya. Quietly and calmly he spoke : 
" Is it not the intention of the accused to put us to 
death if we pronounce him guilty ? And yet I must 
blame him less than the king and you, who suffer 
such contempt to be cast upon the Law. Know, 
then that he, before whom you are all trembling, 
will one day deliver you to the sword of the 
executioner." These words roused the fainting 
courage of the judges, and they soon showed 
themselves to be as determined as they had before 
appeared to be cowardly. But Hyrcanus was 
afraid of their growing wrath, and commanded the 
Council to adjourn the sitting. Meanwhile Herod 
withdrew from the anger of the people, and was 
cordially received at Damascus by Sextus Caesar, 
who proclaimed him governor of Ccelesyria (46). 
Overwhelmed with honors, he was on the point of 
wreaking his vengeance upon the king and the 
Council, when his father and his brother Phasael 
urged him to milder measures. But he silently 
nursed his revenge, determined to gratify it upon 
some future occasion. 

The wide-spread disturbance occasioned by the 
murder of Caesar (44) involved Palestine in new 
troubles. The Roman Judaeans justly were so in- 
consolable at the death of this great man that they 
spent several entire nights mourning beside the 
grave that contained his ashes. The internal strug- 
gles, the bloody warfare, the constant proscriptions, 
were but the labor-throes of Rome previous to the 


birth of a new order of things ; but for Judaea they 
were to a certain extent a fresh attack of a fatal dis- 
ease. The heads of the republican party supplanted 
those of the Caesarian party, but merely to be sup- 
planted by them again in a short time ; and this was 
the case not only in Judaea, but in various parts of 
the Roman empire. The republican, Cassius Lon- 
ginus, had arrived in Syria for the purpose of raising 
troops and money, and demanded that Judaea should 
supply him with 700 talents. Cassius was in des- 
perate haste, for any moment might deprive him of 
the supreme power with which he ruled at that time 
over persons and events in Syria. Thus he threw 
the inhabitants of four Palestinean cities into chains 
and sold them into slavery, because their contribu- 
tions were not delivered quickly enough. 

The eyes of the unfortunate monarch, Hyrcanus, 
were opened at last to the fact that the Idumaeans 
were seeking only their own interest under the 
cloak of warm partisanship for his cause. He began 
to be suspicious in his dealings with them, and turned 
for support to a true and faithful friend, Malich, who 
had long since recognized the duplicity of the Idu- 
maeans. As yet Hyrcanus knew nothing of the 
fiendish plot by which he was to be dethroned, and 
which was to raise Herod, by the help of the Roman 
legions, to the throne of Judaea. But this rumor 
had reached the ears of Malich. Determined to rid 
the king of the hated Antipater, he contrived to poison 
him when he was feasting at a banquet with Hyrcanus 
(43). In cutting at the root, he failed, however, to de- 
stroy the growing evil, for Herod surpassed his father, 
not only in determination and in audacity, but also in 
duplicity. He avenged the death of Antipater by 
the assassination of Malich. All attempts to ruin 
the Idumaean brothers were unsuccessful. Even 
when Herod fell suddenly and grievously ill, Phasael 
was fortunate enough to subdue his enemies. A 
plot conceived by Antigonus, the son of Aristo- 


bulus II, supported by his kinsman Ptolemy of 
Chalcis, to deprive the Idumaeans of their power, 
failed likewise, and Herod compelled Hyrcanus to 
crown him with the garland of victory when he made 
his entry into Jerusalem. As a means of disarming 
this terrible and mighty prince, Hyrcanus tried to 
attach him to his house, by betrothing him to his 
granddaughter Mariamne, celebrated in history no 
less for her beauty than for her misfortunes. The 
victim was to be bound to the executioner by the 
bonds of marriage, and her own mother, Alexandra, 
helped to bring about this miserable alliance. 

Fortune smiled so persistently upon the Idumaean 
that all changes in the political world, however they 
might appear to damage his cause, only gave him 
greater power. The republican army was completely 
routed at Philippi (in 42), the leaders, Brutus and Cas- 
sius, committed suicide, and the Roman world lay at 
the feet of the second triumvirate Octavius, Antony, 
and Lepidus. Herod and Phasael looked upon 
these changes with a troubled eye ; for had they not 
displayed the warmest zeal for the. opponents of the 
triumvirate? Besides this, some of the Judaean 
nobles had hurried forth to meet the victor Antony 
in Bithynia, carrying to him their complaints of the 
rapacity of the Idumsean brothers. But Herod soon 
found the means to scatter the clouds. He also 
appeared before Antony with a smooth tongue and 
ready money. Antony did not fail to remember 
that he had formerly tasted of Antipater's hospitality. 
He turned a deaf ear to the Judsean nobles, and dis- 
missed Herod with marks of favor. The voice of 
the nation, which made itself heard through its 
ambassadors, was no longer heeded. Antony sen- 
tenced some of the unfortunate envoys to be thrown 
into prison, and others to be executed, whilst he 
proclaimed the two Idumaean brothers governors of 
Judaea, with the title " Tetrarch." 


At one time it seemed as if this constant good 
fortune were about to desert the Idumaean brothers 
and to return to the Hasmonaean house. The Par- 
thians, stimulated by the fugitive Roman republican 
Labienus, had made, under the command of their 
king's son Pacorus, and his commander, Barza- 
pharnes, an inroad into Asia Minor and Syria, whilst 
Mark Antony was reveling at the court of the be- 
witching queen Cleopatra. The Parthians, enemies 
of the Roman republic, were also violently antago- 
nistic to Herod and Phasael ; they became doubly so 
on account of their connection with Lysanias, the son 
of Ptolemy, who was related to the house of Aristob- 
ulus, and who had promised great rewards to the 
Parthian commanders if they would sweep the hated 
brothers out of the way, dethrone Hyrcanus, and 
crown Antigonus. The Parthians agreed to this 


scheme, and, dividing their army into two detach- 
ments, marched by the sea-coast and the inland road 
upon Jerusalem. At every step they were met and 
joined by Judaean troops, who outstripped them in 
their haste to arrive at the capital. Upon entering 
Jerusalem they besieged the Hasmonaean palace, 
and flocked to the Mount of the Temple. The com- 
mon people, in spite of being unarmed, supported 
the invaders. The festival of Pentecost was at hand, 
and a crowd of worshipers from all parts of Judaea 
were streaming into Jerusalem ; they also declared 
themselves in favor of Antigonus. The Idumaeans 
held the palace and its fortress, and the invaders, 
the city. Hyrcanus and Phasael were at last per- 
suaded by Pacorus, the king's cup-bearer, to go as 
envoys of peace to the general, Barzapharnes, whilst 
Herod was closely watched. Upon arriving at 
Ecdippa the two unfortunate ambassadors were 
thrown into prison, where Phasael committed suicide, 
and where Hyrcanus had his ears mutilated, in order 
to incapacitate him thereafter for holding his priestly 
office Plots were also laid to ensure the downfall of 


Herod, but, warned by some faithful followers of his 
brother, he contrived to escape from his palace at 
night. Accompanied by his bride Mariamne, and by 
the female members of his family, he hurried to the 
fortress Masada, which he left in command of his 
brother Joseph, retiring- first into Arabia, then into 
Egypt, and finally to Rome. He was followed by 
the execrations of the people. Antigonus was now 
proclaimed king of Judaea (the Parthians carrying 
off Hyrcanus to Babylon), and feeling himself to be 
in truth a monarch, he had coins struck with his 
Hebrew and Greek names : " Mattathias, High 
Priest, and the Commonwealth of the Judaeans," and 
also " King Antigonus." The Parthian auxiliary 
troops were dismissed, and Antigonus destroyed the 
last of the Roman contingent that still held some of 


the fortresses in Palestine. So Judaea was once 
more freed from foreign soldiery, and could indulge 
in the sweet dream of regained independence after 
thirty hard years of internal troubles and terrible 



Weakness of Antigonus and Herod's Strength of Character Con- 
test for the Throne Herod becomes King Proscriptions and 
Confiscations Herod's Policy Abolition of the Hereditary 
Tenure of the High Priesthood Death of the High Priest 
Aristobulus War with the Arabians The Earthquake Death 
of the last of the Hasmonseans Hillel becomes the Head of 
the Synhedrion His System of Tradition Menahem the Essene 
Shammai and his School Mariamne Herod's Magnificence 
and Passion for Building Herod rebuilds the Temple Herod 
executes his Sons Alexander and Aristobulus Antipater and 
his Intrigues The Pharisees under Herod The Destruction of 
the Roman Eagle Execution of Antipater and Death of Herod. 

403 B. c. E. 

IT is certain that Judaea derived her greatness and 
independence rather from the tact and foresight of 
the first Hasmonaeans than from their skill in arms ; 
and in like manner she suffered humiliation and 
bondage from the short-sightedness of the last Has- 
monaean kings, who did not understand how to make 
use of the advantages within their grasp. Events 
were most favorable for Antigonus to acquire ex- 
tended power. The Roman leaders were violently 
opposed to one another. The provinces in the east, 
unimportant in the eyes of Octavius, were looked 
upon by Antony as the abode of luxury and pomp 
rather than as an arena for warlike achievements. 
The soft arms of Cleopatra had made the rough 
couch of the war-goddess distasteful to him. The 
Parthians, who hated the greed of Rome, had vali- 
antly repulsed her troops. Had Antigonus under- 
stood how to keep alive the hatred of the people 
towards the Idumaean house, the Romans them- 
selves would have courted him as an ally instead of 
shunning him as an enemy, so eager were they for 


assistance in staying- the progress of the Parthians. 
The mountain tribes of Galilee had already declared 
in favor of Antigonus ; and Sepphoris, one of their 
cities, had been converted into an arsenal ; besides, 
the caves of Arbela sheltered numerous bands 
of freebooters, who might have proved dangerous 
to the enemy's rear. But Antigonus was neither 
a statesman nor a general. He did not know how 
to turn to account the varied material which he had 
at hand. The whole of his strength was frittered 
away upon trivial aims ; his leading passion was 
the revenge which he meditated against Herod and 
his brothers, and this retarded instead of stimulat- 
ing his activity. He did not know how to rise to the 
truly royal height whence he could look down with 
contempt instead of with hatred upon the Idumaean 
upstarts. During his reign, which lasted three 
years and a half (40-37), he undertook nothing 
great or decisive, although the Roman officers, who 
for the sake of appearances pretended to support 
Herod, in point of fact usually occupied a neutral 

Even amongst his own people Antigonus did not 
know the secret of winning men of influence to his 
cause so that they would stand or fall with him. 
The very leaders of the Synhedrion, Shemaya and 
Abtalion, averse to Herod on account of his over- 
whelming audacity, were not partisans of Antigonus. 
It is somewhat difficult to understand entirely the 
reason of this aversion to the Hasmonaean king. 
Had Antigonus professed allegiance to Sadducsean 
principles, or was there personal jealousy between 
the representatives of the royal power and the 
teachers of the Law ? We are led to believe from 
one circumstance, insignificant in itself, that the dis- 
like originated from the latter cause. It happened 
once, upon the day of Atonement, that the entire 
congregation, according to custom, had followed the 
high priest, Antigonus, at the close of the divine ser- 


vice, from the Temple to his own residence. On 
the way they met the two Synhedrists, Shemaya 
and Abtalion ; they quitted their priest-king to form 
an escort for their beloved teachers of the Law. 
Antigonus, vexed at this apparent insult, expressed 
his displeasure to the Synhedrists by an ironical 
obeisance, which they returned in the same offensive 
way. This unfortunate variance with the most 
influential men, coupled with Antigonus's lack of 
generalship and statecraft, brought misfortune upon 
himself, his house and the nation. 

His rival Herod, who possessed all those qualities 
in which he was deficient, was a man of a different 
stamp. When fortune frowned upon him for a 
time, he could always win back her smiles. His 
flight from Jerusalem had been so desperate for him 
that at one moment he contemplated suicide. His 
design to make an ally of the Nabathaean king 
failed. He wandered through the Judaean-Idumaean 
desert, an outcast and penniless, but yet unbroken, 
and revolving far-reaching schemes. He turned to 
Egypt ; there Cleopatra offered to make him gen- 
eral of her army, but he refused, for he still clung to 
the hope of wearing the crown of Judaea. He took 
ship for Rome, and after being tempest-tossed and 
narrowly escaping shipwreck, he arrived at his des- 
tination at the favorable moment when Octavius 
and Antony had once more agreed upon the Brun- 
disian treaty. He found no difficulty in persuading 
Antony that he could render him great service in 
repulsing the Parthians, and he convinced him that 
Antigonus, raised to the throne of Judaea by the 
Parthians, would always be an implacable enemy to 
the Romans. Antony was completely deceived by 
the craft and subtlety of Herod. He spoke favor- 
ably of him to Octavius, who dared not refuse him 
anything. Thus within seven days, Herod succeeded 
in having the Senate proclaim him King of Judsea, 
and Antigonus pronounced an enemy of Rome (40). 


This was the second death-blow that Rome had 
dealt the Judsean nation, in delivering her up to the 
mercy of an alien, a half-Judaean, an Idumaean, who 
had his own personal insults to avenge. Judaea was 
forced to submit, and in addition to pay tribute- 
money to Rome. 

Herod, seeing that his ambition was to be 
crowned with success, now left Antony (who had 
loaded him with honors), in order to assume the 
royal title conferred upon him. He left Rome and 
arrived at Acco (39). He was supplied with sums 
of money by various friends, and especially by 
Saramalla, the richest Judaean in Antioch. With 
these moneys he hired mercenaries and subdued a 
great part of Galilee. He then hastened south- 
wards, to relieve the fortress of Masada, where his 
brother Joseph was hard pressed by the friends of 
Antigonus. This struggle was of long duration, as 
the Romans were unwilling to take an active part in 
the contest. Herod felt the necessity of appearing 
in person in Antony's camp, which at that moment 
was pitched before Samosata, there to plead his 
own cause. Partly in return for the services he ren- 
dered to the Roman commander upon this occasion, 
and partly through his persuasive powers, he 
induced Antony to send Sosius, one of his generals, 
at the head of two legions, to resolutely carry on 
the contest against Antigonus, and to establish 
upon the throne the king selected by Rome. 

This war was carried on by Herod with impla- 
cable severity. Five cities in the neighborhood of 
Jericho, with their inhabitants to the number of 
2000, who had sided with Antigonus, he ordered to 
be burnt. In the following spring (37), he com- 
menced the siege of Jerusalem. Previous to this, 
he celebrated in Samaria, with hands stained with 
the blood of its inhabitants, his nuptials with Mari- 
amne, to whom he had now for several years been 


As soon as Sosius had advanced into Judaea with 
a large army of Roman infantry, cavalry and Syrian 
mercenaries, the siege of Jerusalem was pressed. 
The besieging army numbered one hundred thou- 
sand men. They built ramparts, filled up the 
moats, and prepared their battering-rams. The 
besieged, though suffering from want of food, de- 
fended themselves heroically. They made occa- 
sional sorties, dispersed the workmen, destroyed 
the preparations for the siege, built up a new wall, 
and harassed the besiegers to such an extent that 
after one month's labor they had not advanced 
to any extent in their work. But the two Synhe- 
drists, Shemaya and Abtalion, raised their voices 
against this opposition, and recommended their 
countrymen to open their gates to Herod. 

This division of purpose amongst the besieged, 
combined with the attacks of the invaders, may 
have hastened the fall of the northern wall, which 
took place at the end of forty days. The besiegers 
rushed into the lower town and into the outworks 
of the Temple, while the besieged, with their king, 
fortified themselves in the upper town and on the 
Temple Mount. The Romans were occupied during 
another fortnight with the storming of the south 
wall. On a Sabbath evening, when the Judaean 
warriors were least expecting an attack, a portion 
of the wall was taken, and the Romans rushed like 
madmen into the old part of the city and into the 
Temple. There, without distinction of age or sex, 
they slaughtered all who came in their way, even 
the priest beside his sacrifice. By a strange 
fatality, Jerusalem fell on the anniversary of the day 
on which, twenty-seven years previously, the Temple 
had been taken by Pompey. It was hardly possible 
for Herod to restrain his savage soldiery from plun- 
dering and desecrating the holy spot, and it was 
only by giving costly gifts to each soldier that he 
prevented the entire destruction of Jerusalem. 


Antigonus was thrown into chains and sent to 
Antony, who, upon Herod's persistent entreaties, 
and contrary to all custom and usage, had him tor- 
tured and then ignobly beheaded. This disgraceful 
treatment excited the opprobrium even of the 

Herod, or, as the people called him, the Idumsean 
slave, had thus reached the goal of his lofty desires. 
His throne, it is true, rested upon ruins and upon 
the dead bodies of his subjects ; but he felt that he 
had the power to maintain its dignity, even if it were 
necessary to carry a broad river of blood round its 
base. The bitter hatred of the Judaean people, 
whose ruler he had become without the slightest 
lawful title, was nothing to him as compared with 
the friendship of Rome and the smile of Antony. 
His line of action was clearly marked out for him 
by the situation of affairs : he had to cling to the 
Romans as a support against the ill-will of his 
people, and meet this ill-will by apparent con- 
cessions, or control it by unrelenting severity. 
This was the policy that he followed from the 
first moment of his victory until he drew his last 
breath. During a I the thirty-four years of his 
reign he followed this line of policy, cold and heart- 
less as fate, and entailing the most terrible conse- 
quences. Even in the first confusion attendant 
upon the conquest of the Temple Mount, he had 
not lost his coolness and vigilance, but had ordered 
his satellite Costobar to surround the exits of Jeru- 
salem with his soldiery, and thus to prevent the 
escape of the unfortunate fugitives. The followers 
of Antigonus were slain in large numbers, many 
amongst them being of the most distinguished 
families. Herod did not forget old grievances. 
The Synhedrists, who twelve years previously had 
decreed his death, were killed to a man, with the 
exception of Abtalion and Shemaya, who had been 
hostile to Antigonus, He seized the property of 


those whom he executed or otherwise condemned 
for the royal treasury ; for this worthy pupil of Roman 
masters was fully alive to the advantages of pro- 
scription and confiscation. He passed over the Has- 
monaean house in selecting a high priest, and chose 
a certain Ananel, a descendant of Aaron, but not of 
high-priestly family, for that office, lie declared 
that his own was an old Judaean family which had 
returned from Babylonia, wishing in this way to 
obliterate the fact that he was descended from an 
Idumsean ancestor who had been forced to accept 
Judaism. The natives of Jerusalem, who had a 
good memory for his true extraction, did not indeed 
lend an ear to this invention, but foreign Judaeans 
and heathens may perhaps have been deceived by 
it. His confidential friend and historian, Nicolaus 
of Damascus, relates this fiction as coming from his 
own lips. At the death of Shemaya and Abtalion, 
the presidents of the Synhedrion were chosen from 
a Babylonian-Judaean family, that of Bene Bathyra. 
Two persons still existed who might prove dan- 
gerous to Herod : an old man and a youth Hyrca- 
nus, who had once worn the crown and the priestly 
diadem, and his grandson Aristobulus, Herod's 
brother-in-law, who had claims upon both the royal 
and the priestly dignity. Herod could not devote 
himself to the calm enjoyment of his conquest until 
these two should be powerless. Hyrcanus, it was 
true, who had fallen captive to the Parthians, had 
been mutilated by them, and was therefore unfit to 
resume his priestly office ; but his captors had 
generously granted him freedom, and the aged 
monarch had been joyfully and reverentially wel- 
comed by the community of Babylonian Judaeans. 
In spite of the devotion which he received from 
these people, Hyrcanus had an intense longing 
to return to his native land, and Herod was afraid 
that he might induce the Babylonian Judaeans or the 
Parthians to take up his cause and help him regain 


his throne, from which the latter had torn him. 
Anxious to avert this danger, Herod bethought him- 
self of taking Hyrcanus from Parthian influence and 
of bringing him under his own power. It was thus 
that the aged monarch received a pressing invitation 
to Jerusalem to share the throne and the power of 
king Herod, and to receive the thanks of the 
Idumaean for past acts of kindness that Hyrcanus 
had shown him. Vainly did the Babylonian Judseans 
warn the credulous prince not to let himself be 
drawn a second time into the eddy of public life ; 
he hurried to his doom. Herod received him with 
every mark of respect, and gave him the place of 
honor at his table and in the Council, masking 
his treachery so completely that Hyrcanus was 
entirely deceived. He was unarmed and powerless 
in a golden cage. 

But more dangerous to Herod seemed his young 
brother-in-law Aristobulus, the only brother of Ma- 
riamne, who, on account of his lineage, his youth, 
and his surpassing beauty, had attracted the love 
and devotion of all his people. Herod, in debarring 
him from the dignity of high priest, imagined that 
he had successfully destroyed his influence. But this 
was not so. Alexandra, the mother of Mariamne 
and Aristobulus, as well versed in intrigue as Herod 
himself, had succeeded in obtaining Antony's favor 
for her son. She had sent the portraits of her chil- 
dren, the most beautiful of their race, to the Roman 
triumvir, believing his weak nature might be worked 
upon most favorably through the senses. Antony, 
in truth, struck by the portraits, requested to see 
Aristobulus. But Herod, in order that this meeting 
should not take place, suddenly proclaimed the 
young Hasmonaean high priest, and Ananel was 
deprived of this dignity. But Alexandra was far 
from being satisfied, for she was secretly determined 
that her son should also wear the crown which his 
ancestors had worn. Herod, fully alive to his 


peril, was all the more determined to rid himself of 
this dangerous youth. Aristobulus had already 
gained the heart of the people, and whenever he 
appeared in the Temple, every eye hung upon his 
noble and perfect form, every glance seemed to 
avow that the Judaeans were longing to see this last 
scion of the Hasmonaean house seated upon the royal 
throne. Herod durst not act with open violence 
against his rival, who was looked upon with special 
favor by Queen Cleopatra, but as usual he resorted 
to treachery. He invited Aristobulus to Jericho, 
and bade his followers dispatch the youth whilst he 
was disporting in the bath. Thus died, at the early 
age of seventeen, Aristobulus III., the last male 
representative of the Hasmonaean house. Herod 
then reappointed his puppet Ananel as high priest. 
It was vain for the Idumaean to affect deep grief at 
the death of his young brother-in-law, it was vain 
for him to throw sweet perfume upon his body ; all 
the relations and friends of the murdered Hasmo- 
naean accused Herod in their hearts of his death, 
although their lips gave no utterance to their 

But this crime brought its own bitter punishment 
with it, and made Herod's whole life one long tale 
of misery. The agony of remorse that might have 
wrought some change upon a less hardened nature 
was not felt, but only an ever-increasing suspicion 
towards those of his own household, which urged 
him to heap crime upon crime, to murder his nearest 
relatives, even his own children, until he became at 
last the most terrible example of a sin-laden exist- 
ence. Alexandra, who had staked her ambitious hopes 
upon the coronation of her son, and who now found 
herself so cruelly deceived, did not hesitate to accuse 
Herod before Cleopatra of the murder of Aristo- 
bulus. This queen, whose passions were uncon- 
trolled, and who looked with an envious eye upon 
Herod's newly acquired kingdom, took advantage 


of his crime to make its author appear odious in the 
eyes of Antony. Herod was summoned to Lao- 
dicea. Trembling for his life, the vassal king- obeyed 
the summons, but succeeded in ingratiating himself 
so thoroughly by costly gifts and by carefully chosen 
yet eloquent words, that not only was the death of 
Aristobulus overlooked, but he was distinguished 
by marks of esteem, and sent back to Jerusalem, 
full of happy self-confidence. He lost, however, one 
precious pearl from his crown. The far-famed dis- 
trict of Jericho, celebrated for its wealth of palm- 
trees and its highly-prized balsam, had been given 
by Antony to Cleopatra, and Herod was forced to 
accept two hundred talents in lieu as tribute-money 
from the queen. He could, however, rest well satis- 
fied with this loss, when comparing it with the 
danger from which he had escaped. 

On the threshold of his palace, however, the demon 
of discord awaited him, ready to fill his whole being 
with despair. On the eve of his departure he had 
entrusted his wife Mariamne to the care of Joseph, 
the husband of his sister Salome, and had given him 
the secret command that, in case of his falling a victim 
to Antony's displeasure, Joseph should murder both 
Mariamne and Alexandra. Love for his beautiful 
wife, whom he could not bear to think of as belong- 
ing to another, added to hatred of Alexandra, who 
should not triumph in his death, prompted this 
fiendish resolve. But Joseph had betrayed his secret 
mission to Mariamne, and had thus plunged another 
dagger into the heart of that unhappy queen. When 
a false report of Herod's death became current in 
Jerusalem, Mariamne and her mother prepared to 
put themselves under Roman protection. Herod's 
sister Salome, who hated both her husband Joseph 
and her sister-in-law Mariamne, made use of this 
fact to calumniate them upon her brother's return, 
accusing them of a mutual understanding and undue 
intimacy. Herod at first turned a deaf ear to this 


calumny, but when Mariamne disclosed to her hus- 
band, amidst tears of indignation, that Joseph had 
confessed his secret mission to her, then the king's 
wrath knew no bounds. Declaring that he fully 
believed his sister's accusations, he beheaded Joseph, 
placed Alexandra in confinement, and would have 
had Mariamne slain, had not his love for his queen 
surpassed even his rage. From that day, however, the 
seeds of distrust and hatred were sown in the palace, 
and they grew and spread until one member of the 
royal family after another met with an untimely and 
violent death. 

Outwardly, however, fortune appeared to smile 
upon Herod, carrying him successfully over the most 
difficult obstacles in his path. Before the sixth year 
of his reign had ended, threatening clouds began to 
gather over his head. A surviving sister of the last 
Hasmonaean king Antigonus had arisen as the 
avenger of her brother and his race, and had, in some 
way or other, possessed herself of the fortress of 
Hyrcanion. Herod had hardly disarmed this female 
warrior before he was threatened by a more serious 
danger. Cleopatra, who had always hated the Judse- 
ans, and who had been most ungenerous to that 
community in Alexandria during a year of famine, 
had again attempted to effect Herod's ruin by 
awakening Antony's displeasure against him. Afraid 
of this violent and yet crafty queen, and alarmed at the 
hatred of his own people, who were longing for his 
downfall, Herod determined upon preparing some 
safe retreat, where his life would at all events be 
secure from his enemies. He chose for this purpose 
the fortress of Masada, which nature had rendered 
almost impregnable, and which he fortified still more 
strongly. But Cleopatra was already devising 
another scheme for the downfall of her enemy. She 
succeeded in entangling him in a war with Malich, 
the Nabathaean king, and thus endeavored to bring 
about the ruin of two equally hated monarchs, 


But Herod gained two decisive victories over the 
Nabathaeans, which alarmed Cleopatra, and caused 
her to send her general Athenion to the aid of 
Malich. The Judaean army sustained a terrible 
defeat, and Herod was beaten back across the Jor- 
dan. This disaster was followed by an earthquake, 
which alarmed and dispirited the Judaean troops to 
such an extent that they lost all courage and were 
almost powerless before the enemy. But Herod, 
with true genius, succeeded in rousing his people, 
and in leading them victoriously against the Naba- 
thaeans. Malich was forced to become the vassal 
of the Judaean king. 

Hardly, however, was peace restored before a 
storm arose that threatened to shake the Roman 
world to its very depths and to destroy the favorite 
of the Roman generals. Ever since that day when 
Rome and her vast possessions lay at the feet of 
the triumvirs, who hated each other cordially, and 
each one of whom wished to be sole ruler of the 
state, the political atmosphere had been charged 
with destructive elements that threatened to explode 
at any given moment. Added to this, one of the 
three leaders was completely under the sway of the 
dissolute and devilish Queen Cleopatra, who had set 
her heart upon becoming mistress of Rome, even 
though this should entail the devastation of whole 
countries by fire and by sword. 

It was during this highly excited period that a 
Judaean author foretold, in beautiful Greek verse, 
written in the form of a sibylline prophecy, the 
coming destruction of the Roman-Greek state, and 
the reign of Belial, who would decoy the unhappy 
ones to their final destruction ; but this Judaeo- 
Greek seer also heralded the coming of a glorious 
Messiah. An era of crime had certainly begun, and 
a Belial had appeared in the person of the half- 
Judaean Herod, but as yet no Messianic dawn of 
better things was apparent. 


With the declaration of war between Octavius 
and Antony, a fierce strife broke out between the 
Western and the Eastern provinces of Rome ; it 
was Europe against Asia a war of nations. But 
it came to a sudden end with the fall of Antony in 
the battle of Actium (31). This blow struck Herod 
severely ; neither he nor his friends doubted for one 
moment that he would be submerged in the ruin 
of his protector, for he had been closely allied to 
Antony. He was prepared for the worst, but he 
determined not to be outlived by the aged Hyr- 
canus, by his wife Mariamne, or by his mother-in-law 
Alexandra. He accused Hyrcanus of having con- 
spired with the Nabathaean king, and ordered the 
innocent monarch to be executed. Mariamne and 
Alexandra he placed under the guardianship of the 
Ithuraean Soem in the fortress of Alexandrion. 
Herod then prepared to present himself before the 
conqueror, Octavianus Caesar, and if he met with 
his death, as was most probable, Mariamne and her 
mother were to be instantly murdered. 

On the eve of Herod's departure, he found him- 
self compelled to make some change in the Synhe- 
drion, and to appoint the Babylonian Hillel, a man 
unknown until then, as one of the presidents. This 
gave a new direction to the spirit of Judaism, which 
has affected that faith down to the present. Hillel, 
born about the year 75, traced back his descent, on 
his mother's side, to the house of David. Although 
his lineage was a distinguished one, he was living in 
needy circumstances, and was supported by his rich 
brother, Shebna. He probably accompanied Hyr- 
canus on his return from Babylon to Jerusalem, and 
became one of the most devoted disciples of the 
Synhedrists, Shemaya and Abtalion, whose tradi- 
tional lore he endeavored to transmit literally and 

^ Hillel was particularly distinguished for his win- 
ning, dove-like gentleness, his intense love of 


humanity, which arose from his own humility, and 
from his deep faith in others, and lastly, for that 
perfect equanimity proceeding from his profound 
trust in God, that never wavered in the midst of 
trouble. In later ages he was revered as the ideal 
of modesty and gentleness. When he was once 
asked to express the essence of Judaism in one 
sentence, he uttered this golden maxim : " Do not 
unto others what thou wouldst not have done unto 
thyself. This is the principal commandment : all 
others are the development of that one." If strife 
and dissension arose, Hillel was invariably the 
peacemaker. His beneficence knew no bounds, and 
he had that rare delicacy of feeling which never 
humiliates the recipient by the gift, but which rather 
helps him to maintain his self-respect. His faith 
in God raised him triumphantly above every fear. 
All the members of his household were imbued 
through his example with the same faith ; so much 
so that once, upon entering the town and hearing a 
cry of distress, he was able confidently to remark, 
" That cry cannot have proceeded from my house." 
Hillel has bequeathed a greater number of maxims 
to us than any of his predecessors. We read 
amongst them the following : " If I were not to care 
for myself (my soul), who would do so for me ? If I 
care for myself alone, what can I effect ? If not 
now, when then ?" " Be of the disciples of Aaron, 
love peace, seek peace, love mankind, thus lead 
them to the Law." Impressed by the sublime mis- 
sion of Israel, that of maintaining and teaching the 
pure belief in one God, he exclaimed at one of the 
festivals in the Temple : " If I (Israel) am here, 
then is everything here ; if I should be wanting, who 
would be here ?" The doctrines of Judaism were so 
profoundly revered by him that his indignation was 
roused whenever they were used as stepping-stones 
to the schemes of the ambitious. " He who wishes 
to raise his name, lowers it ; he who does not seek 


the Law, does not deserve to live. He who does 
not progress in learning, retrogrades ; he who uses 
the crown of the Law for his own ends, perishes." 

Hillel became in after years the very ideal of his 
co-religionists. The impetus given by him to the 
development of doctrinal Judaism marks an epoch in 
the history of that faith. He greatly enriched the 
mass of the traditional lore that he had imbibed 
from the Synhedrists, Shemaya and Abtalion. But 
far more important was his logical derivation of 
the statutes of the Law observed in his time. He 
traced them back to their first principles, and raised 
them out of the narrow circle of tradition and mere 
custom to the height of reason. The traditional 
law, according- to Hillel, carries within itself its 
justification and binding power, it does not depend 
on authority alone. Thus, to a certain extent, he 
paved the way to a reconciliation between Phar- 
isees and Sadducees by placing before them the 
principles common to both, from which neither of 
them could withhold their assent. On the one 
hand, Hillel agreed with the Sadducoean principle, 
that a law can only be valid if founded upon scrip- 
tural authority ; but, on the other hand, he declared 
that this authority did not merely lie in the dead 
letter, but was also to be derived from the general 
spirit of the scriptural writings. After this demon- 
station by Hillel, no dispute amongst the schools 
could arise as to the binding power of traditional 
law. By the introduction of seven rules, or Mid- 
doth, the oral law could be imbued with the same 
weight and authority as that actually contained in 
the Scriptures. Through these seven rules the oral 
law assumed quite a different aspect ; it lost its 
apparently arbitrary character ; it became more uni- 
versal and reasonable in its tendency, and might 
be looked upon as originating from Holy Writ itself. 

These explanatory rules were, moreover, intended 
not only to justify the oral law, but also to lay down 


instructions how to amplify the laws, and how to 
meet unforeseen cases of difficulty. At first they 
appear to have been unfavorably received. It is 
expressly narrated that Hillel introduced them at a 
council of the Bathyrene Synhedrion, but that 
assembly may either have misinterpreted them or 
have disputed their expediency. In the meantime 
an opportunity presented itself of having" recourse 
to these explanatory rules, for a question was 
raised, the solution of which deeply excited the whole 
nation, and to this opportunity Hillel owed the dig- 
nified position of President of the Synhedrion. The 
eve of the festival on which the Paschal Lamb was 
to be sacrificed occurred on the Sabbath, a most 
unusual event at that time, and the Bathyrene Synhe- 
drion could not throw any light upon the disputed 
question, whether it was permitted or not to sacri- 
fice the Paschal Lamb on the Sabbath Day* Hillel, 
whose ability must have attracted the attention of the 
discerning before, had taken part in the discussion, 
and had proved that according to the explanatory 
rules, the Pesach, or Paschal Sacrifice, like every 
other whole offering, supersedes the Sabbath. The 
debate became heated, the mass of the people being 
warmly interested in the celebration of the festival. 
Expressions of approval and censure for Hillel were 
freely uttered. Some cried, " We have to look to 
the Babylonians for the best information"; others 
ironically asked, " What good can we expect from 
the Babylonians ? " 

From that day Hillel's name became so popular 
that the Bathyrene Synhedrists resigned their offices 
whether of their own free will, or because they 
were forced to do so by the people, is not known 
and conceded the Presidency to Hillel himself (about 
30). Hillel, far from being proud of his exalted 
position, expressed himself as dissatisfied, and 
angrily reproved the Synhedrists. "Why is it," he 
asked, " that I, an insignificant Babylonian, became 


President of the Synhedrion ? Only because you 
have been too indolent to heed the teachings of 
Shemaya and Abtalion." Herod does not seem to 
have made any objection to the choice. 

One of the statutes which Hillel had introduced 
was of general interest, and proved that he had 
true insight into affairs of life. In the Sabbatical 
year all debts were by law canceled. At the time 
when the state was a republic based upon moral 
laws, this was a wise measure for equalizing prop- 
erty ; but at a later period, when capital became 
a power in itself, the rich were not willing to relieve 
their less wealthy neighbors from their difficulties by 
giving them loans. On this account Hillel, without 
entirely abrogating the law which already existed, 
ruled that the creditor should give over the debt in 
writing to the Court, so that the Court might collect 
it, and the creditor be relieved from the necessity of 
violating the law. This timely statute, equally advan- 
tageous to debtor and creditor, was called by the 
Greek word Prosbol, because the debt was given 
over to the Council of the Elders. 

At Herod's particular desire, the second place of 
honor, that of Deputy of Hillel, was given to the 
Essene Menahem, to whom the king showed great 
partiality. The cause of this attachment was as 
follows (at least so the tale ran in later days): 
Menahem, by means of the prophetic power ascribed 
to the Essenes, had foretold during his childhood 
that Herod would one day be king in Jerusalem, and 
that his reign would be a brilliant one, but that he 
would fail in piety and justice. That which had ap- 
peared incredible to the youth recurred to the man 
when he wore the regal crown. But Menahem 
appears not to have found his office congenial, 
and soon withdrew in favor of Shammai, whose char- 
acteristics, opposed in many ways to those of Hillel, 
in reality supplemented them. Shammai was prob- 
ably by birth a Palestinean, and therefore much 


interested in all the political and religious contro- 
versies of his native land. His religious views were 
strict to a painful extreme. But Shammai was not 
of a gloomy or misanthropical disposition ; indeed, 
he encouraged friendliness in demeanor towards 
every one. This is indicated by the maxim which 
has come down to us, " Let your work in the Law 
be your principal occupation ; speak little, but do 
much, and receive all men with a friendly counte- 


The two Synhedrists, Hillel and Shammai, 
founded two separate schools, opposed to each 
other in many religious, moral, and legal ques- 
tions, which, with their different tendencies, exerted 
a powerful influence, during the subsequent unset- 
tled and warlike times, upon events of historical 
importance. Herod had no conception of the forces 
antagonistic to his house that were quietly develop- 
ing within the seclusion of these schools. 

With a trembling heart he had presented himself 
at Rhodes before Octavianus Caesar, who, since the 
defeat of Antony at Actium, was sole master of the 
Roman provinces. He, so haughty in his own 
country, appeared in meek and lowly guise at the 
footstool of the mighty ruler, yet not without a cer- 
tain manly resolution. In his interview with Octa- 
vianus, Herod did not in any way conceal the posi- 
tion he had held with relation to Antony ; but he 
took care to dwell upon the fact of his having 
refrained from aiding Antony after his defeat at 
Actium, thereby intimating to Octavianus what use 
he mio-ht make of the devotion and zeal which 


Herod was prepared to transfer from the cause of 
Antony to that of his conqueror. Octavianus was 
neither noble enough to despise so venal a man, nor 
did he feel secure enough to do without him. 

So he graciously encouraged the pleading Herod, 
bade him array himself as before in royal robes, 
and sent him back to his own country laden with 


honors (30). Herod found no difficulty in becom- 
ing as loyal a partisan of Octavianus as he had 
been for twelve long years of Antony. During 
the campaign of the second Caesar against Egypt, 
he was met at Acco by Herod bearing rich presents, 
and the Judaean king supplied the Roman army with 
water and with wine during their march through an 


arid country. It is possible that Antony may have 
heard, before he put an end to his life, that Herod's 
loyalty was not founded on a rock. Herod had also 
the malicious joy of knowing that his persistent 
enemy, Cleopatra, who had failed to fascinate the 
conqueror by her attractions, had nothing left but 
to seek death. The Alexandrian Judaeans, who had 
suffered from her hatred, shared Herod's feelings. 
For, but a short time previous to her death, this 
terrible woman had longed to assassinate with her 
own hands the Judaeans who were living in the capital 
of Egypt, and who were devoted to the cause of 
Octavianus. The Egyptian Judaeans were rewarded 
for their devotion by an official recognition of their 
equality with the rest of the inhabitants ; in fact, 
Octavianus had such confidence in their loy- 
alty that he placed the harbors of the Nile and of 
the sea under the control of the Judaean Alabarchs, 
who had held that office under former Egyptian 
monarchs. This was a special mark of favor, for 
the possession of Egypt, the Roman granary, and 
particularly of the harbor of Alexandria, was so 
precious to the first emperor of Rome that no 
Senator dared approach that country without the 
imperial permission. When the Alabarch who was 
then in office died, Octavianus allowed his successor 
to be chosen by the Alexandrian Judaeans, and 
granted him all the rights of his predecessors. Whilst 
he governed the Greek Alexandrians with extreme 
severity on account of their depravity, their untrust- 
worthiness and their love of sedition, and kept them 
strictly under his own rule, he appointed a Judaean 


Council to assist the Alabarchs or Ethnarchs. The 
Judaean community was thus governed by one of its 
own race, who decided all the judicial questions and 
provided for the carrying out of all imperial com- 
mands and behests. 

Octavianus also granted to the numerous Ju- 
daeans who were settled in Rome, the Libertini, if 
not extraordinary privileges, at least the right of 
observing their own religious customs, and thus set 
a worthy example to his successors. The Judaeans 
were allowed to build synagogues, where they 
worshiped according to their rites ; they were also 
permitted to transmit their yearly contributions to 
the Temple in Jerusalem, although, in general, it 
was forbidden to send large sums out of Rome. 
The Roman Judaeans also received their due portion 
of the grain that was distributed amongst the popu- 
lation. If the distribution happened to take place 
on a Sabbath, their portion was allotted to them on 
the following day. These were the orders of the 

Octavianus made overto Herod the splendid body- 
guard of Cleopatra, numbering four hundred Gauls, 
and he placed under his jurisdiction several seaports 
that had been torn from Judaea, as well as the ter- 
ritory of Jericho. Samaria, as also Gadara and 
Hippos in trans-Jordanic territory, were also incor- 
porated with Judaea. The area of the kingdom was 
now identical with what it had been before the civil 
war between the royal brothers and the first inter- 
vention of the Romans ; but different, indeed, were 
the circumstances under which she had regained her 
possessions ! Probably it was due to Herod's bound- 
less sycophancy to Rome that sacrifices were now 
regularly offered up for the welfare of the Caesars, 
Augustus and his consort presenting in return 
golden vessels for the use of the Temple. 

Herod was now at the very zenith of his power ; 
the untoward fortune that he had feared had not 


only been averted, but had actually assisted in 
exalting him. He was not, however, to enjoy his 
good fortune ; the terrible consequences of his 
crimes clung to his footsteps and changed his cup 
of happiness into one of gall. In the narrow circle 
of his own home a tragedy was about to be enacted, 
far more terrible than could have been conceived by 
the imagination of a poet. Mariamne, who, as well 
as her mother Alexandra, had been in close confine- 
ment during the king's absence, had elicited from 
her gaoler Soem the fact that she would not have 
been permitted to outlive Herod. Upon the king's 
return she made no secret of her hatred for him, and 
when he spoke to her in words of tenderness and 
affection, she taunted him with the murders of her 
brother, her grandfather and many others of her 
relatives. Herod's heart was torn by the love he 
bore to this beautiful woman and by the wrath he 
felt at her persistent enmity to his person and his 
power. Whilst still a prey to these conflicting feel- 
ings he was only too ready to lend a willing ear to 
the malicious inventions of his sister Salome, who 
assured him that his cup-bearer had been bribed 
by Mariamne to poison him. During the investi- 
gation that ensued it transpired that Soem had dis- 
closed his secret instructions to the queen, and this 
treachery on the part of a confidential servant let 
loose a host of wild passions within Herod's breast. 
Soem was decapitated on the spot. Whilst still 
moved by his ungovernable rage, Herod summoned 
a council, before whom he accused his wife of adul- 
tery and of an attempt to poison him. The judges 
passed the sentence of death upon her, and, wishing 
to curry favor with Herod, ordered the execution 
to take place forthwith. It was thus that the most 
beautiful woman in Judaea, the Hasmonsean prin- 
cess, the pride of her people, was led to the scaffold. 
She went to her doom with remarkable fortitude, 
without the faintest tremor or the least display of 


feminine weakness, worthy of her heroic ancestry 
(29). We may take Mariamne as the symbol of 
Judaea, delivered up to the axe of the executioner 
by intrigue and passion. 

But Mariamne's death did not quench Herod's 
thirst for revenge ; on the contrary, it brought 
on still fiercer paroxysms of rage. He could not 
endure her loss, and became a prey to sickness 
and insanity. He would call frantically upon her 
name in a passion of sobs and tears ; and he had 
her body embalmed in honey, so that he might keep 
it in his presence. It was whilst traveling in 
Samaria that he fell so dangerously ill that the doc- 
tors despaired of his life, and when this intelligence 
reached his capital, Alexandra proceeded to possess 
herself of Jerusalem. But the king's vitality returned 
upon the rumor of this sudden peril to his throne, 
and Alexandra fell a victim to her sedition. She 
was the very last who bore the Hasmonsean name, 
and she had lived long enough to witness the vio- 
lent and disgraceful deaths of her father-in-law 
Aristobulus II, her husband Alexander, her brother- 
in-law Antigonus, her son Aristobulus III, her father 
Hyrcanus II, and her daughter Mariamne. 

The remaining two-thirds of the Herodian reign 
are devoid of any real progress ; the record of that 
time tells of cringing submission to Augustus and 
to Rome, of the erection of magnificent edifices, of 
the love of pomp and display, of deeply-rooted 
moral corruption, of unsuccessful conspiracies and 
court intrigues, leading to new crimes and further 
executions. In order to retain the favor of the all- 
powerful Augustus, Herod introduced into Jeru- 
salem the celebration of the Actian games, occur- 
ring every fifth year, in remembrance of Augustus' 
victory over his rival, he also built theaters and 
arenas, where he organized combats between gladi- 
ators or wild beasts, thus arousing the displeasure 
of the national party, who rightly divined that it was 


intended that Judaism soon should be absorbed by 
a Pagan-Roman worship, and who recognized in the 
Roman trophies and eagles displayed in the theaters, 
the introduction of Roman deities. Herod gave his 
people another cause for umbrage, in the fact that 
he was not only ornamenting the hated city of 
Samaria, within a circumference of half a mile, with 
the most beautiful buildings, but that he also con- 
templated making that city the capital of his domin- 
ions, a dignity for which she was singularly adapted 
by her fortunate position. The newly-built Samaria 
was renamed Sebaste, just as the citadel Baris, the 
armory of the Hasmonaeans in old days, on the 
northwest side of the Temple, had been called 
Antonia in honor of Antony. In fact, Judaea became 
crowded with cities and with monuments which bore 
the names of Herod's own family or those of his 
Roman protectors. The fortress of Straton on the 
sea was, by most lavish expenditure, converted into 
a beautiful city, with an extensive harbor, and 
received the name of Csesarea, one of the towers 
on its walls being called Drusus, after the son of 
Augustus. Herod did not even hesitate to erect a 
Roman temple on the soil of the Holy Land. Two 
colossal figures \vere raised in Csesarea, one of them 
representing, in gigantic proportions, the figure of 
Augustus as the Olympian Jupiter, and the other 
that of the city of Rome as the Argive Juno. At 
the splendid consecration of Csesarea, the rebuilding 
of which had occupied t\velve years, the inhabitants 
could have imagined themselves transported into 
a pagan city. On account of its name, its origin 
and its importance, the national party justly called it 
Little Rome. In later days it became the seat of the 
Roman governor, the rival of Jerusalem, and finally 
her conqueror. Whenever Caesarea rejoiced, Jeru- 
salem was sure to mourn. The harbor of Caesarea, 
which orrew in time to be a town itself, was called 


Sebastus. Herod had, without doubt, enhanced the 


beauty of Judaea, but, like a doomed victim, she was 
garlanded for the altar. His love of display found 
satisfaction in the magnificence of his edifices, but 
not his love of renown. Despairing of securing the 
affection of his own people, he resolved to compel 
the admiration of the strano-er. He exhausted his 


people by taxation, redoubled his extortions, searched 
for hidden treasures in the ancient royal cemeteries, 
sold those who had been imprisoned for theft as 
slaves to neighboring countries, and then lavished 
all the funds he had gained by these practices upon 
the adornment of Syrian, Asiatic, and Greek cities. 
Huge were the sums of money that he withdrew 
from his own country for such enterprises. 

Herod may possibly have secured the admiration 
and affection of the Greeks, the Romans and the 
Judaeans outside of Palestine ; but the people of 
Jerusalem felt nothing but aversion for this grasping 
upstart, who sought to estrange them from the 
customs of their fathers. In spite of his having shown 
himself to be their generous benefactor, upon the 
occasion of a great famine (24), the nation now only 
beheld in him the murderer of the Hasmonaeans, the 
usurper of their throne, the destroyer of the noblest 
citizens, the suppressor of freedom. He had dis- 
graced the three dignities of Monarch, High Priest, 
and Synhedrist. The first he had arrogated to 
himself ; the second, which until his reign had, with 
very few exceptions, descended by right of inheri- 
tance from father to son, he had given away, accord- 
ing to his own pleasure or to attain his own ends ; and 
the power of the third he had curtailed by allowing 
it hardly any scope for action. Joshua, of the 
family of Phabi, had, through Herod's instrumen- 
tality, succeeded Ananel as High Priest ; but the 
king having been fascinated by the beauty of another 
Mariamne, the daughter of an inferior priest, Simon, 
he dispossessed Joshua of his dignity, and raised 
Simon to his office, in order that his future wife's 
rank be not too strikingly below his own. 


This High Priest Simon was an Alexandrian, the 
son of Boethus, and it was he who laid the founda- 
tion-stone of the greatness of the house of Boethus, 
from which several high priests descended. He 
appears to have been the founder of the sect of the 
Boethuseans, who followed the teachings of the 
Sadducees, but who were better able to grasp and 
apply those teachings than the Sadducees them- 
selves, thanks to their Alexandrian readiness and 

These despotic acts of Herod were not calculated 
to make him beloved by his people. He was per- 
fectly aware of their ill-will towards him, but as he 
could not crush it, he at least sought to make it 
harmless. Thus he insisted upon all subjects taking 
an oath of allegiance, resolving to punish severely 
those who would refrain from doing so. The Essenes 
alone, who disapproved of oaths, were exempt ; he 
had no cause for fear in their peaceful, contem- 
plative lives ; on the contrary, he warmly approved 
of such subjects, who would submit without murmur- 
ing to any law that he might choose to- make. 
Those amongst the Pharisees who were the followers 
of the peace-loving Hillel seem to have taken the 
required oath without hesitation, but the followers 
of the sterner Shammai stubbornly refused to do so. 
Six thousand Pharisees in all refused to take the 
oath of allegiance, and to inflict corporal punishment 
upon so great a number appeared, even to Herod, a 
serious matter. So he heavily taxed the refractory, 
amongst whom was the wife of his brother Pheroras, 
an ardent devotee, strange to say, of strict Phari- 

But, in spite of all these precautionary measures, 
Herod did not trust his subjects, and employed a 
number of spies to watch them. He himself would 
often appear in disguise at their popular assemblies, 
and woe to the unfortunate individual who, at that 
moment, might be giving utterance to a complaint 


against the existing order of things ; he was doomed 
to be imprisoned in a fortress, or secretly de- 
spatched. But popularity is too sweet for the tyrant 
to forego it, and to Herod it was particularly im- 
portant, as he wished to appear before the Romans 
in the character of a prince beloved by his people. 
This, besides his passion for building, was probably 
the motive that impelled him to convert the Temple, 
now five hundred years old, small and of an old 
fashion, into a magnificent edifice in a new style. 
The representatives of the nation, when he informed 
them of his plan, received the news with horror ; 
they feared that Herod intended merely to destroy 
their old Temple, and that he would endlessly pro- 
tract the work of the new building, thus robbing 
them entirely of their sanctuary. But he pacified 
them by the assurance that the old Temple should 
remain standing until all the workmen, with their 
material, were at hand for the construction of the 
new one. Thousands of carts, laden with quarry 
stone and marble, now appeared on the scene, and 
ten thousand skilled workmen were ready to com- 
mence operations. In the eighteenth year of Herod's 
reign (20) the building was begun, and in one year 
and a half ( 1 8) the inner part of the Temple was 
finished. The building of the outer walls, courts 
and galleries occupied a period of eight years, and 
long after this time, until just before the destruction, 
the workmen were still employed upon them. 

The Herodian Temple was a magnificent pro- 
duction, the exquisite beauty of which those who 
witnessed it could not sufficiently admire. It differed 
from the uncompleted Temple of Zerubbabel in 
being of vaster dimensions and of richer and more 
ornate decoration. The whole circumference of the 
Temple Mount (Har-ha-bayith), which was sur- 
rounded by a lofty and strong wall, besides the 
fortress at Antonia, with which it was in communi- 
cation, exceeded three-quarters of a mile, and the 


ground rose in terraces. Owing- to this command- 
ing' position the Sanctuary could be seen from afar. 
The long range of outer wall protected a series of 
courts and galleries, with their cedar ceilings and 
mosaic floorings. The first court was assigned as a 

<j ^> 

place of assembly for the people, where the most 
important questions were discussed. Here the pagan 
and the unpurified were admitted ; here Greek and 
Roman inscriptions, in large characters, and placed 
in prominent positions, caught the eye of him who 
entered. They ran as follows : " No foreigner is 
permitted to pass through this grating into the 
Sanctuary and its surroundings. If discovered there 
he has brought the punishment of death upon him- 
self." The second court, which in former days had 
been protected by a wooden grating, was now shut 
in by a low wall. The internal arrangements of the 
Temple were but little changed, and consisted, as 
in the Temple of Zerubbabel, of three uncovered 
courts and of the Sanctuary, which was of a size to 
admit of the golden altar, the candlestick and the 
shewbread table, and, at the extreme end, of the 
Holy of Holies. But the outer parts of the Sanc- 
tuary vastly outshone those of the old Temple. Its 
walls were of snow-white marble, and as they rose 
on the highest summit of the Temple Mount, and 
towered above the outer walls and their fortifica- 
tions, they presented a beautiful and striking appear- 
ance from all sides. The large space in front of 
the Sanctuary was partitioned into various smaller 
courts for the use of the women, the laymen, the 
priests, and for all those who were engaged in pre- 
paring the sacrifices for the altar. The space allotted 
to the female portion of the worshipers, whose 
visits to the Temple were now of frequent occur- 
rence, was entirely shut off from the rest, and three 
large balconies were reserved for the use of the 
women, from which they were able to witness all 
celebrations of a public character. The gateway 

CH. iv. HEROD'S TEMPLE. 1 1 1 

leading to this part of the Temple was closed by 
a magnificent door, cast in Corinthian brass, the gift 
of a rich and pious Alexandrian, after whom it was 
named the Gate of Nicanor. Fifteen steps led 
thence to the laymen's quarters, which were reached 
by passing through a gateway, called, on account of 
its commanding position, the High Gate. The outer 
court was entirely open ; but, on the other hand, the 
Sanctuary was shut off by a gateway higher and 
broader than any other, containing double folding 
doors, thickly covered with a layer of gold. This 
was the Great Gate or the Gate of the Sanctuary. 
The high roof of the Sanctuary rose at intervals 
into sharp gilded points, the object of which was to 
prevent the birds from building their nests on this 
consecrated place, but probably quite unintention- 
ally on the part of the builder, they may also have 
served as lightning conductors. 

The splendor of the dedication far exceeded that 
solemnized in King Solomon's time. Hecatombs 
upon hecatombs were offered up, and the whole 
nation was feasted. The celebration fell upon the 
very anniversary of the day when, twenty years pre- 
viously, Herod, with blood-stained hands, had made 
himself master of Jerusalem a terrible reminis- 
cence. The hands that built the Temple had already 
lighted the torch for its destruction. Herod placed 
it under the protection of Rome. To the horror of 
the pious Judaeans, a golden eagle, the symbol of 
Roman might, was hung over the principal entrance. 
Herod, moreover, constructed a subterranean pas- 
sage, leading from the fortress of Antonia to the 
east gate of the Temple, in order to control the 
egresses of the Sanctuary. His soul was filled with 
distrust of his people. 

Towards the close of his reign the aged and sin- 
laden monarch was seized with a terrible malady. 
This threw him into a condition of such hopeless 
misery that one may say that all human feeling 


gave place to the fury of the wild beast. The 
corpses of his innocent victims rose up before his 
excited imagination, and made his life one long 
torment. Vainly he sought for one loving heart, 
one faithful soul, who would comfort and guide him. 
But he believed that his own flesh and blood his 
sister and brother, Salome and Pheroras, even his 
own children were his enemies, and were conspir- 
ing against his peace and his life. This terrible 
state of mind made him more dangerous than ever 
tc those who ventured within his presence. The 
chief cause of his frenzy was the death of his be- 
loved Mariamne. Besides two daughters, she had 
left him two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, who, 
as they grew to man's estate, took the death of their 
unfortunate mother deeply to heart, and could not 
conceal the aversion they felt for their father. As 
these princes were of Hasmonaean descent, Herod 
had decided upon making them his successors. He 
had sent them as youths to Rome, in order that they 
might gain the favor of Augustus, and be educated 
according to Roman fashion. He married the 


eldest, Alexander, to Glaphyra, the daughter of 
Archelaus, King of Cappadocia, and the younger, 
Aristobulus, to Salome's daughter, Berenice. He 
thought that by these means he could secure peace 
amongst the members of his own family. But his 
wishes were defeated by the hatred that the revenge- 
ful Salome and her brother Pheroras bore to the 
descendants of the Hasmonsean Mariamne. Herod 
was induced by his sister to take to his heart and to 
adopt as a royal prince the son of his first wife, 
Doris, whom together with her child he had re- 
pudiated upon his marriage with Mariamne. 

Antipater, the son of Doris, had inherited all the 
malice, craft and cruelty of the Idumseans, and he 
spared neither his father nor his brothers. The 
three, Salome, Pheroras, and Antipater, although 
they hated one another mortally, were united in 


hatred against the sons of Mariamne. The more 
these princes were indulged by their father, and the 
more they were beloved by the people as descend- 
ants from the Hasmonaeans on their mother's side, 
the more did their bitter foes fear and detest them. 
Antipater accused Alexander and Aristobulus of 
wishing to avenge the death of their mother upon 
the person of their father. Imprudent expressions, 
hastily uttered in moments of irritation, may have 
given some show of reason to these accusations. 
Herod's suspicions dwelt eagerly upon this calumny. 
He began to hate his sons, and, as a mark of dis- 
pleasure towards them, led Antipater to believe 
that he should share in their rights of succession. 
This determination of the king served to embitter 
the Hasmonaean princes still more, and drove them 
to the most unwise outbursts of anger against their 
father. Antipater succeeded at the same time in 
laying proofs of an attempted conspiracy of the two 
brothers against Herod before him. Their friends 
and their servants were, by the king's commands, 
put to the torture, and upon the strength of their 
confession, wrung from them under agony, Alexan- 
der and Aristobulus were condemned to death by a 
council numbering one hundred and fifty of Herod's 
friends. Herod himself hastened the execution, and 
ordered the two princes to be torn from Jerusalem 
and hurried to Samaria, and there, where thirty 
years previously their unnatural father had cele- 
brated his marriage with their mother, her two sons 
were mercilessly beheaded. 

However, the conspiracies against Herod's life 
did not cease with their death, but, on the contrary, 
acquired fresh vigor. Antipater, not feeling at all 
sure of his succession so long as his father was alive, 
actually conspired with Pheroras against the life of 
that father and benefactor. But his fiendish design 
came to light, and it was discovered that Antipater 
had undoubtedly intended poisoning his father. 


This disclosure was a terrible blow for Herod. 
The turmoil of his outraged feelings cannot be 
described, and yet he had to control himself, and 
even to pretend great affection for Antipater, in 
order to induce that prince to leave Rome and 
return to Jerusalem. Upon Antipater's arrival, his 
father loaded him with reproaches, and accused him 
before a tribunal, which was under the presidency 
of the Roman o-ovcrnor Ouintilius Varus, of fratri- 

^j x%^ 

cide and attempted parricide. Vainly did the prince 
plead innocence ; Herod's friend, Nicolaus of Da- 
mascus, appeared as his merciless accuser. His 
death sentence was passed, and Herod begged of 
Augustus to ratify it. 

Such constant and frequent alarms brought 
Herod, who had nearly reached his seventieth year, 
to his death-bed. All his hopes were frustrated ; 
the result of so much labor, of so much guilt, of so 
much bloodshed, had become hateful to him. In 
which of his surviving sons could he have confidence ? 
For the third time he altered the succession, and 
resolved that the throne should belong to his 
youngest son, Antipas I. 

His miserable state of mind, which might have 
made him gentler and more merciful, only led him 
into still greater cruelty. An unimportant rising on 
the part of some hot-headed youths called forth 
from the aged monarch an act of retaliation as 
heartless and as severe as in the days when his 
heart beat high with young and ambitious hopes. 
The Pharisees were no friends of his, especially 
those who were the disciples of Shammai. He 
therefore kept a suspicious eye upon the members 
of the Pharisaic schools, and the Pharisees, on their 
side, continued to incite the youths of their fol- 
lowing against their monarch, whom they termed 
the Idumaean and the Roman. This they were 
able to do without incurring any danger to them- 
selves, for they clothed their words in a metaphorical 


garb, applying the denunciations of the Hebrew 
prophets of old to the Idumaean nation, to express 
what they felt for Herod and his family. 

Amongst the Pharisees who were most bitterly 
opposed to Herod and the Romans, Judah ben 
Zippori and Matthias ben Margalot were distin- 
guished for their ardor and recklessness, and were 
endeared to their people by these very character- 
istics. Upon hearing of Herod's mortal illness, 
they incited some of their young disciples to put an 
end to the desecration of the\ Temple, by hurling 
the Roman eagle from the gatVway. The rumors 
of Herod's death, that w^e credited in Jerusalem, 
favored this bold und^fakinV. A\ number of youths 
armed with axes ruined to tme Temple Gate, scaled 
it by means of a/rope-laddffir, and cut down the 
eagle. At the^news of this! rebellious action, the 
captain of the Herodian guanLs^rrehis troops to the 
spot, and they succeedecj^kTcapturmg the two ring- 
leaders and forty \}f""their followers. They were 
brought into the kind's presence, and the^4gnt of 
these new victims rqvived hi.4 exhauatf^d vitality. 
At their trial, which Was conductecyin his pres- 
ence, he was forced to hear much tnat proved how 
incapable he had beei^ in breaking the stubborn 
will of his people. The prisoners fearlessly con- 
fessed what they had done, boasting proudly of their 
performance, and replying to the question as to who 
had incited them to such an action, " The Law." 
They were all burnt alive as "desecrators of the 

But Herod was to be punished more effectually 
by eternal justice than would have been possible 
had he been arraigned before the severest earthly 
tribunal. Even the pleasure that was granted him 
before he entirely succumbed to his loathsome 
malady, the delight of being able to order the exe- 
cution of his son, was soon followed by a paroxysm 
of pain in which he nearly caused his own destruc- 


tion. His relative Achiab tore the knife from his 
hand, but the cry of horror that arose from his 
palace in Jericho at this suicidal attempt, came to 
the ear of Antipater, a prisoner in the same palace. 
He began to hope that his life might yet be spared, 
and he besought his gaoler to release him. But 
the gaoler, who feared to risk his own life, hurried 
into the king's apartments, to see if the cruel 
monarch still lived. When Herod heard that 
Antipater yet hoped to outlive him, he ordered his 
instant assassination, and his orders \vere forth- 
with obeyed. Although Antipater deserved his 
death tenfold, yet there w^as a general feeling of 
horror at the idea of a father who could sentence 
his three sons to death. Even Augustus, w r ho did 
not show any tenderly paternal feelings to his 
daughter Julia, could not help exclaiming at the 
news of Antipater's execution, that "he would 
rather be Herod's swine than his son." A legend 
of later date tells how Herod w r as not satisfied 
with shedding the blood of his own children, but 
how, in a passion, he ordered all children under two 
years of age in Bethlehem and the surrounding 
country to be massacred, because he had heard 
that the Messiah of the House of David had been 
born in that place ! But Herod, criminal as he 
was, was innocent of this crime. 

Herod's last thoughts dwelt, however, upon 
bloodshed. He insisted upon the most respected 
men of Judaea being brought to Jericho, and im- 
prisoned in the great public arena, where they were 
closely guarded ; he then left orders with his sister 
Salome and her husband that directly after his 
death had taken place they should be all mas- 
sacred by his body-guard, so that the entire nation 
might be mourning their loved ones, and no one 
would have the heart to rejoice over his demise. 
Murder filled his thoughts from the first moment of 
his public life until he drew his last breath. He 


died five days after the execution of Antipater, in 
the sixty-ninth year of his life and the thirty-seventh 
of his reign, in the spring of the year 4 B. c. His 
flatterers called him " Herod the Great," but the 
nation only knew him as " the Hasmonsean slave." 
Whilst his body was being taken in all pomp to its 
resting-place in Herodium, under the escort of the 
Thracian, German and Gallic body-guard, the 
nation joyfully celebrated the day as a semi-festival. 



The Family of Herod Partition of the Kingdom of Judsea Revolt 
against Archelaus Sabinus and Varus The Adventurer-Chief, 
Judas the Galilaean Confirmation of Herod's Will Archelaus 
as Ruler His brief Reisrn and his Banishment Judaea becomes 
a Roman Province The Revolt against the Census The 
Schools of Hillel and Shammai Judas Founder of the Party of 
Zealots Onerous Taxation Fresh Hostility of the Samaritans 
Expulsion of the Judaeans from Rome by Tiberius Pontius 

3 B. c. E. 37 c. E. 

HOWEVER unfortunate the reign of Herod may 
have been, it yet contrasted favorably with that 
which followed. Herod's rule was at all events dis- 
tinguished by external splendor, and by a certain 
amount of animation in the direction of public 
affairs. The boundaries of Judaea now extended 
far beyond the limits assigned to them in the most 
prosperous days of the Hasmonseans. Those tracts 
of land beyond the Jordan and the Hermon, which 
Aristobulus I and Alexander I had only partially 
conquered after years of useless fighting, fell into the 
possession of Herod merely by the stroke of a pen; 
but the new territories were less welcome, perhaps, 
on that account than if they had been won with 
toil and difficulty. The towns of Judaea had been 
restored with great magnificence, they were adorned 
with beautiful specimens of Greek sculpture and 
architecture ; but the monuments which were 
erected perpetuated the fame of Roman dignitaries 
and the Herodian family, and not the greatness of 
the nation. The seaports, and especially the port 
of Csesarea, were crowded with shipping, and trade 
was consequently encouraged, but the imports 
which naturally increased did not help to enrich 



the nation. The Temple was resplendent in its 
renovated glory, and outwardly recalled the days 
of Solomon, but the priests were forced to offer 
sacrifices for the welfare of those whom they hated 
in their hearts. The country even enjoyed a cer- 
tain amount of independence, for the Roman fetters 
were not visible at a superficial glance. All this 
outward show because it was only outward show 
disappeared with the death of the one man who 
knew how to make use of it. As soon as death 
had torn the reins from Herod's hands, public affairs 
fell into an unsettled and disjointed state, which was 
the beginning of more lasting misfortunes. The 
edifice, superficially constructed, soon gave way, 
burying among its ruins everything that remained 
in Judaea of freedom and national existence. 

Herod had left several daughters and six sons. 
Some of them he favored in his will, others he 
slighted. The publication of this will (the con- 
tents of which were known to Ptolemy, the brother 
of the celebrated historian, Nicolaus of Damascus) 
proved how little he cared for the interests of 
Judaea, and how constantly he was actuated by 
the most selfish motives. Instead of keeping the 
unity of the country intact, he dismembered it, so 
as to subdivide it between three of his sons. The 


other three were not mentioned ; these were 
Herod, his son by the second Mariamne ; another 
Herod, by Cleopatra of Jerusalem ; and Phasael, by 
his wife Pallas. He bequeathed to his son Arche- 
laus (whose mother was Malthace the Samaritan) 
the countries of Judaea and Samaria, with the title 
of sovereign. Herod Antipas (also the son of Mal- 
thace) became the possessor of the lands of Galilee 
andPeraea ; Philip, the son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem, 
another tetrarchy Gaulanitis, Batansea, Trachoni- 
tis, and the country called Panias, which contained 
the source of the Jordan. He bequeathed to his 
sister Salome, as a reward for her faithfulness, the 


revenues of the towns of Jamnia, Azotus, and Pha- 
saelis (to the north of Jericho). However, these last 
bequests were only expressed in the form of wishes, 
for he left to the emperor Augustus the right of 
deciding whether they should be put into execution, 
or whether the land should be otherwise divided, 
and another successor appointed to the throne. 

The sons, who had received but scanty proofs of 
affection from their father during his lifetime, were 
not united by any ties of brotherly love, and each 
envied the share which had fallen to his brother. 
Antipas grudged the large territories and the regal 
title of Archelaus, because in an earlier will he had 
been nominated as successor to the throne. Sa- 
lome, in spite of her large possessions, was equally 
embittered against Archelaus, and did all in her 
power to dispute the succession. The discord 
which divided the house of Herod was handed 
down to their children and children's children. As 
the fulfilment of Herod's bequests depended on a 
higher authority, all the disputants tried to ingra- 
tiate themselves with the people, who, they hoped, 
would intercede in their favor with Augustus. Sa- 
lome and her husband actually countermanded an 
order given by Herod for the execution of the im- 
prisoned nobles, and persuaded the officers of the 
Herodian body-guard that Herod himself had dis- 
approved of an execution on so large a scale. 

Archelaus, who had still more causes for currying 
favor with the people, appeared in the Court of the 
Temple after the period of mourning had expired, 
and addressing the multitude from a throne erected 
for the occasion, promised to abolish all the unjust 
laws sanctioned in his father's reign, and to resettle 
public affairs, so as to promote general peace and 
well-being. Emboldened by so much condescen- 
sion, the people would not rest contented with royal 
promises ; they insisted upon stating their griev- 
ances in a definite form, and demanded speedy and 


certain redress. There were five points on which 
the people were particularly resolute. They de- 
sired that the oppressive yearly taxes should be 
reduced, whilst the duties upon public sales and 
purchases should be completely taken off; that the 
prisoners who had languished for years in dungeons 
should be liberated ; that the counselors who had 
voted the death-sentence when the Roman eagle 
had been destroyed be punished ; and finally that 
the unpopular High Priest, Joaser, should be de- 
posed, and one more worthy of his important office 
be named in his stead. 

All this was really nothing short of demanding 
both a new and a popular form of government and 
a public condemnation of the Herodian tyranny. 
However little Archelaus cared at heart for the 
reputation of his father, he could not possibly agree 
to all these requests. Nevertheless, he assented to 
everything, but he could not promise that their 
wishes should be accomplished until Herod's will 
had received the imperial sanction. But the crowds 
of people, consisting of several thousands, who had 
congregated from every part of Judaea to celebrate 
the Feast of Passover, incited by the Pharisees, who 
worked upon their feelings by picturing to them the 
martyrdom of Judas and Matthias, the destroyers 
of the eagle, would not be put off, and came forward 
full of anger and defiance. What their intentions 
may have been is not known. Archelaus, who 
feared a revolt, sent a troop of soldiers to quell any 
disturbance, but they were assailed with stones and 
forced to take to flight. In the meantime midday 
approached, and the people allowed their anger to 
cool. They were occupied with the rites of the fes- 
tivals, and made no preparations either for defense 
or for commencing hostilities. Archelaus took ad- 
vantage of their inactivity ; he commanded all the 
infantry in Jerusalem to fall upon the sacrificing 
multitude, and to hew them down ; the cavalry were 


to remain in the open plains to arrest the fugitives. 
Three thousand were killed on that day on the 
Mount of the Temple and in the surrounding coun- 
try ; those that escaped, the sword of the enemy 
destroyed themselves. Heralds thereupon pro- 
claimed to the whole town that Archelaus forbade 
the celebration of the Passover for that year, and no 
one was allowed to approach the Temple. This 
was the inauguration of the reign of Archelaus. 

Although his relatives would probably not have 
acted with more humanity than he did, they cried 
out against his cruelty, and made use of it as a 
weapon with which to serve their own purposes 
when in the presence of Augustus. The whole 
house of Herod traveled to Rome to lay the land 
of Judaea at the feet of the emperor, and to petition, 
according to their respective interests, for the alter- 
ation or the confirmation of the will. 

During their absence unexpected events took 
place, and the prize for which they were all contend- 
ing very nearly escaped their possession altogether. 
Judaea became a huge battlefield, the arena of furi- 
ous encounters. Men threw themselves into the 
affray, assuming the titles of kings or leaders of the 
people. The blood of the slain warriors, the groans 
of unarmed, wounded citizens, the smoke issuing 
from burning cities, filled every heart with dismay 
and with horrible forebodings of the downfall of 
Judaea. The tragical events which took place dur- 
ing the first year after the death of Herod are 
described in the Chronicle as the " War Period of 
Varus," the Governor of Syria. 

At the desire of Archelaus, Ouintilius Varus had 
remained in Jerusalem after the departure of the 
Herodian family, so as to crush any attempt at revolt 
which might occur during the absence of the princes. 
The task was an easy one, for the patriots who were 
hostile to the Herodians had no decided plan of 
action, were insufficiently armed, and allowed them- 


selves to be led away by their fierce hatred into 
unwise and useless demonstrations. Varus, seeing 
no further necessity for remaining in the Judsean 
capital, returned to Antioch, but he left a consider- 
able number of troops to be in readiness in case of 
any signs of hostility. 

As soon as the governor Varus had left Jerusalem 
another cause of annoyance was given to the people 
by the arrival of Sabinus, the treasurer of Augustus. 
He had been sent to claim the treasures of Herod, 
and probably also all those belonging to the Temple, 
as if the emperor had been the acknowledged heir 
to Herod's possessions. Sabinus must have had 
some malevolent intention, for he hastened his 
journey to Jerusalem, notwithstanding that he had 
promised Varus to remain at Caesarea until the Hero- 
dian disputes were settled. He took advantage of 
the reluctance with which the custodians complied 
with his demands to create a disturbance among 
the people, and thus obtain a pretext for entering 
the city. 

The Feast of Pentecost was drawing near, and, 
as usual, multitudes of people congregated from all 
parts of the country at Jerusalem. This time, the 
greater part of them were animated by hostile feel- 
ings against the Romans and the Herodians. The 
strife was not delayed. The people soon chose 
their leaders, and succeeded in occupying the 
Mount of the Temple and the Hippodrome, whence 
they defied the Romans, who had taken up their 
quarters in the palace of Herod. Sabinus, think- 
ing himself lost, encouraged the Romans to besiege 
the Temple, and sent messages to Varus for more 
reinforcements. The Judseans, well protected be- 
hind the Temple walls, hurled their weapons and 
their huge stones down upon the Romans. Victory 
would have been theirs had not the enemy, with 
burning materials, set fire to the colonnade. The 
flames spread so rapidly that escape was impos- 


sible. Of the unfortunate combatants, some were 
victims of the fire, others fell before the swords of 
the Romans, and many of them killed themselves 
in reckless despair. 

As soon as the Temple was left unprotected, the 
Romans, tempted by the treasures which they knew 
it contained, rushed into the courts. Sabinus alone 
is said to have appropriated four hundred talents 
from the treasures of the Temple. The plunder 
of these treasures, the desecration of the Holy of 
Holies, and the destruction of the halls of the 
Temple, barely ten years after the sacred edifice had 
been completed, roused all the indignation and, and 
at the same time, all the valor of the Judseans. 
Even a great part of the Herodian troops went over 
to the malcontents, and assisted them against the 
Romans. Thus strengthened, they besieged the 
palace of Herod, laid mines under the towers, and 
threatened the Romans with destruction if they did 
not retire immediately. Sabinus, anxiously awaiting 
the expected reinforcements, but vacillating between 
fear of the besiegers and a longing to obtain the 
mastery over them, remained for the time in the 
citadel of the palace. 

Thus all the horrors of anarchy were let loose in 
Judaea. Had the insurgents found skilful and trust- 
worthy leaders their united efforts might have 
brought about such momentous events that the 
Herodian dispute would have come to a most un- 
expected termination. But there was no organiza- 
tion to give shape and purpose to all this patriotic 
fervor. It was nurtured by selfish adventurers, and 
was therefore hurtful to the country itself rather than 
dangerous to the enemy. Two thousand soldiers, 
probably Idumaeans, whom Herod had dismissed 
shortly before his death, disturbed the regions of the 
south. A certain Simon, a slave of Herod, distin- 
guished by great beauty and an imposing presence, 
collected a troop of malcontents, who hailed him as 


their king, and, at his command, burned to the 
ground many royal castles in the country, including 
the royal palace at Jericho. The palace of Bethar- 
amata was destroyed by a band of men, the name 
of whose leader is unknown. A third adventurer 
was a shepherd named Athronges, a giant in strength 
and stature, who was accompanied into the field of 
battle by four brothers, all of the same colossal 
build. After assuming the royal title, he fell upon 
the Romans, cut off their retreat, and fought valiantly 
till, after a long and fierce struggle, he was forced 
to yield. There was but one leader of all these free 
troopers who had a decided aim in view, and who 
might have proved a formidable foe, both to Romans 
and Herodians, had fortune favored him, or his 
countrymen given him their cordial help. This was 
Judas, known by the name of " the Galilean," a native 
of Gamala in Gaulanitis, and a son of Ezekias, fighting 
against whom Herod had won his first laurels. Judas 
had been imbued, from his birth, with a passionate 
love for his country, and as passionate a hatred 
towards the Romans. He became the leader of a 
faction which gradually came to rule the country, and 
eventually gave the Romans more difficulties to con- 
tend with than even the Gauls and the Germans. 
Judas was at this period in the prime of life. His 
intense zeal proved contagious, and he gained a con- 
siderable number of partisans among the powerful 
Galileans. With their assistance he took possession 
of the arsenal in Sepphoris, the Galilean capital. 
He then armed his followers, gave them stipends 
from the money found in the arsenal, and soon 
became the terror of the Romans and of all those 
who were favorably disposed towards them. 

Events in the region bordering on Syria were 
even more pressing than Sabinus in urging the gov- 
ernor to suppress the revolt, and to hasten to the 
rescue of the Roman troops. The terror of Varus 
himself was so great that he not only ordered all 


Roman troops that were at his disposal (over twenty 
thousand men) to march against the insurgents, but 
summoned the armies under the command of the 
neighboring princes. Aretas, the king of the Na- 
bathseans, placed his troops at the command of the 
Roman general, and as they formed the vanguard 
of the Roman army, they burnt and plundered all 
the villages through which they passed. Varus sent 
one division of his troops to Galilee to commence 
operations against Judas. There seems to have 
been a severe struggle at the town of Sepphoris ; 
ultimately Varus set fire to it and sold the in- 
habitants as slaves, but Judas escaped. The town 
of Emmaus, where Athronges had established him- 
self, shared the same fate, though the inhabitants 
had taken to flight. On his arrival at Jerusalem, 
Varus found that his task had become a light one, 
for the besiegers were alarmed at the report of the 
approach of his army, and had abandoned their 
struggle against Sabinus. Notwithstanding this, 
two thousand prisoners were crucified at the com- 
mand of Varus. 

Such was the end of a revolt which had been 
fanned into existence by a natural feelinq- of aneer 

r ^J ^5 

and indignation, but had failed through the absence 


of wise and judicious guidance. It had only been 
successful in bringing the nation into a state of more 
humiliating dependence upon Rome, for a legion 
was retained to keep guard over the rebellious citi- 
zens of Jerusalem. 

During all this time the Herodians were still dis- 
cussing their claims to the sovereignty of Judsea 
before the throne of Augustus, and their servile be- 
havior and mutual accusations only convinced the 
Emperor how unworthy one and all were of holding 
the reins of government. Before Augustus could 
come to any decision, a Judaean embassy arrived, 
consisting of fifty men of position and importance, 
whose mission had been approved by Varus. They 


brought accusations against the Herodian gov- 
ernment, and implored the Emperor to proclaim 
Judaea a Roman province in conjunction with Syria, 
but to grant the nation full liberty to conduct her 
own internal affairs. As the petition had the sup- 
port of eight thousand Roman-Judaeans, the Em- 
peror was obliged to listen to it. However, after 
having heard both the demands of the embassy and 
the arguments of the pretenders to the throne, he 
decided upon confirming Herod's will, with this 
exception, that he did not grant the sovereignty 
immediately to Archelaus, but only recognized him 
as ruler (Ethnarch), promising him, however, that if 
he proved worthy of the royal title it should be 
granted to him eventually. Augustus could not 
entirely disregard the last wishes of a prince who 
had been his friend, and who had served the Ro- 
mans with a devotion only equaled by the zeal with 
which he furthered his own egotistical ends. The 
imperial treasury suffered no diminution whether 
Judaea was called an ethnarchy or a province 
dependent upon Rome. 

The reign of Archelaus was short and unevent- 
ful (4 B. c.-6 C.E.). Herod's children had inherited 
little of their father's disposition, excepting his fancy 
for building and his cringing policy towards Rome. 
In other respects they were insignificant, and there 
was something small and contemptible even in their 
tyranny. At first Archelaus (who appears also 
under the name of Herod) attempted to conciliate 
the discontented members of the community, whose 
indignation he had aroused at the assembly in the 
courts of the Temple. He gave way to the general 
desire to depose the unpopular High Priest Joasar, 
and appointed in his stead the latter's brother, 
Eleazer, who was soon succeeded by Joshua of the 
family of Sie or Seth. But he in turn was re- 
placed by Joasar, and thus three High Priests fol- 
lowed one another in the short space of nine years. 


The only war carried on by Archelaus was fought 
against Athronges, who had been able to hold his 
own for some time after the death of his four 
brothers ; and such was the incapacity of Archelaus 
that he was long unable to subdue an adventurer, 
whose powers were almost exhausted, but who was 
still able to dictate the conditions of his own sur- 

Archelaus offended the feelings of the pious 
Judaeans by his marriage with his sister-in-law 
Glaphyra, the widow of Alexander, who had been 
executed. This daughter of the king of Cappa- 
docia had had two sons ; one of these, Tigranes, 
and his nephew of the same name, became, in later 
years, kings respectively of Greater and Lesser 
Armenia. Indifferent to the melancholy fate of her 
husband, she married, after his death, Juba, the king 
of Numidia ; but was soon divorced from him, and 
contracted an alliance with Archelaus, the brother 
of her first husband, an alliance forbidden by 
Judsean laws. Little is known of the life of Ar- 
chelaus ; his acts of tyranny called forth the oppro- 
brium of the Judaeans and the Samaritans. He 
was taken before Augustus to answer for his 
misdeeds, but being unable to defend himself, he 
was dethroned and sent into exile among the Allo- 
brogian races (6 c. E.). The principalities belong- 
ing to Herod Antipas and to Philip remained in 
their former condition, but the towns which had 
been in the possession of Salome came also under 
the Imperial sway, for Salome had bequeathed them 
at her death to the Empress Livia. 

Thus after enjoying a hundred and fifty years of real 
or apparent independence, Judaea became entirely 
subjugated to Roman authority, and was united with 
the province of Syria. Matters remained in this con- 
dition, with the exception of a short interval, till the 
final revolt. The Imperial representative in Judaea, 
who henceforth received the title of Procurator, had 


his seat of government in the seaport Csesarea, which 
from that time became the hated rival of Jerusalem. 
The duties of the Procurator consisted in maintain- 
ing order in the country, and in enforcing the punc- 
tual payment of all taxes. He had even the power 
of pronouncing the death sentence, and also of 
supervising the Synhedrion's administration of the 
criminal law. 

The authority of the Synhedrion became more 
and more limited, and the political importance of 
that assembly, which had considerably diminished 
during the reign of Herod, dwindled entirely away. 
The Romans interfered in all the functions of the 
Synhedrion, and also in the installations of the 
High Priests. The Procurator named and de- 
posed the High Priests according to their friendly 
or unfavorable inclinations towards Rome ; he took 
charge of the sacerdotal ornaments, and only gave 
them up on the chief festivals. The vestments of 
the High Priests were kept under lock and key in 
the fortress of Antonia ; they were removed in time 
for the festival by the officials of the Temple, and 
returned to their place of preservation in the pres- 
ence of a Roman overseer. A li^ht was burning 

o o 

constantly before the case containing the priestly 

The first Procurator whom Augustus sent to 
Judaea was the captain of the horse, Coponius. The 
Syrian Governor, Ouirinius, came at the same time 
(6-7) to lay claim to the confiscated property of 
Archelaus. He was also instructed to take a census 
of the population, and to estimate the property of 
the country for the purpose of the new method of 
taxation. A tax was to be levied upon every indi- 
vidual, inclusive of women and slaves ; however, 
female children under twelve and male children 
under fourteen years of age and very old people 
were to be exempt. Furthermore, an income tax 
was levied, and those who kept cattle were called 


upon to give up a part of their herds. The taxes 
on the land were to be paid out of the produce of 
the harvest. 

This method of levying imposts roused the indig- 
nation of all classes alike. Every one resented 
such interference in private as well as political 
affairs, and felt as if the land and property, and the 
very person of each individual were in the hands of 
the emperor, and made use of according to his 
pleasure. It is not surprising that, in their ignor- 
ance of the Roman constitution, the people should 
have looked upon the census as the herald of slavery, 
and anticipated with terror a repetition of the Baby- 
lonian captivity. Their dread of the census, exag- 
gerated perhaps, but not wholly unjustifiable, caused 
greater agitation than any previous statute, and 
aroused new disputes, in which the old differences 
between Pharisee and Sadducee were entirely for- 
gotten. New points of discussion were raised. The 
question of the supremacy of the oral law disap- 
peared before the burning question of the day 
whether the people should become slaves to the 
Romans, or whether they should offer stubborn and 
energetic resistance. This question brought dis- 
sension into the camp of the Pharisees. The new 
faction to which this discussion on the census had 
given rise sprang from the very center of the 
Synhedrion, and was connected with the names of 
Hillel, Shammai, and Judas of Galilee. 

Hillel and Shammai did not live to see the 
catastrophe which made Judsea a province of Rome. 
Hillel's death caused wide-spread mourning, and the 
oration at his grave began with the sad cry : " O 
pious, O gentle, O worthy follower of Ezra." The 
people, in their great affection for him, continued to 
distinguish his descendants with their favor, and the 
presidency of the Synhedrion became hereditary in 
his family for more than four centuries. Of Hillel's 
son and successor, Simon I, nothing but his name has 


been preserved. All the greatness which encircled 
Hillel's name was bequeathed to the school which 
he formed, and which inherited and faithfully pre- 
served the spirit of its founder. The disciples of 
this school evinced in all their public dealings the 
peacefulness and gentleness, the conciliatory spirit 
which had distinguished their great master. They 
were guided and supported by these characteristic 
qualities during the political storms which long 
convulsed their unhappy country. There were 
about eighty members of this school who were 
most devotedly attached to Hillel, and were called 
the elders of the school. The names of only two 
of these have been recorded : Jonathan, the son 
of Uziel, and Jochanan ben Zaccai. The former is 
reputed, but without actual proof, to have been the 
author of a Chaldaic translation of the Prophets. 
He was disinherited by his father in favor of 
Shammai, probably from displeasure at his having 
joined the school of Hillel. 

In the same way as the school of Hillel endeav- 
ored to preserve the characteristic gentleness of 
their master, the followers of Shammai emulated 
and even exceeded the stern severity of the founder 
of their school. It seemed impossible to the school 
of Shammai to be sufficiently stringent in religious 
prohibitions ; the decisions which they arrived at, 
in their interpretations of the law, were so gen- 
erally burdensome that those which were milder in 
character were treasured up as rare exceptions. 
Thus, according to their opinion, no work should be 
attempted which, if commenced before the Sab- 
bath, would, even without the aid of a Judaean, 
be completed on the Sabbath. It was prohibited 
on the Sabbath day to give sums of money for 
charitable purposes, to make arrangements for 
marriage contracts, to instruct children, to visit the 
sick, or even to bring comfort to the sorrowing. In 
their regulations concerning the purity of the Levites 


in their person and apparel, their exaggerations 
brought them very near the excesses of the Essenes. 
They were equally severe concerning matrimonial 
laws, and only allowed divorce to be granted in the 
case of the unchastity of the wife. 

In the school of Shammai, the Pharisaic principles 
were carried to the very extreme. It was only due 
to the yielding disposition of the followers of Hillel 
that peace was not disturbed, and that a friendly 
relationship existed between two schools of such 
opposite views and characters. The school of 
Shammai were not only severe in their explanations 
of the laws, but entertained very stern and rigid 
opinions on nearly all subjects ; they were particu- 
larly harsh and repellant towards proselytes to 
Judaism. Any heathen who came to the school of 
Shammai, requesting to be received into the com- 
munity might expect but a very cold and repellant 
reception. The school of Shammai cared not for 
proselytes. How dangerous to Judaism lukewarm 
proselytes may be, they had too often seen in the 
case of the converted Herodians. But in spite 
of their own rigid obedience to the Law, they did not 
exact the same obedience from the Judcean troops 
who were fighting against the national enemy. 
Originally there had been some hesitation about 
making war on the Sabbath, but now the school of 
Shammai were unreservedly in favor thereof; the 
siege of a hostile city, commenced before the Sab- 
bath, was not to be raised, in spite of the transgress- 
ing of the Sabbath law, until the fortress surrendered. 
These ordinances were instituted by Shammai him- 
self, in whom hatred of the heathen was even 
greater than religious devotion. The school of 
Shammai had a large number of adherents in the 
Synhedrion, as well as among the people. Their 
religious austerity, and their hatred of the heathens, 
found more sympathizers than the moderation and 
peacefulness of the followers of Hillel. They con- 


sequently formed the majority, and were able to 
carry all their resolutions. Among the followers of 
Shammai, several names have been preserved 
Baba ben Buta, Dostai from Itome, and Zadok. 

It is possible that this Zadok may be the same 
of whom it is related that, excited by a fanatical 
hatred of the Romans, he joined with Judas the 
Galilean, and placed himself at the head of a relig- 
ious republican faction who called themselves the 
Zealots (Kannaim). The members of this faction 
were also called the Galileans. The watchword 
which Juclas gave the party of the Zealots, and 
which was eagerly endorsed by Zadok, was that 
obedience to the Roman law was disregard of the 
Divine law, for God alone was ruler, and could 
alone demand obedience ; that it became, therefore, 
a clear and solemn duty to strain every nerve, and 
sacrifice property, and life, and family in this strug- 
gle against the usurper, who exacted submission 
due to God alone. And they set up as an exem- 
plar Phineas, the slayer of the chief Zimri, the only 
one who, in the presence of a neglectful tribe and 
a slothful nation, had served his God with zeal. 
Furthermore, Judas proclaimed that the Judsean 
state must be a republic, recognizing God alone 
as sovereign and His laws as supreme. This 
teaching found favor all the more readily as the 
Roman yoke was becoming more and more intol- 
erable. The great purpose they had in view the 
recovery of their freedom electrified young and 
old, and the Zealots, a faction which at first only 
comprised followers of Shammai, soon included a 
great number of Judaeans, who chafed indignantly 
under the weight of the Roman fetters. 

As soon as the law was passed that every one 
should give an accurate description of his family, 
his lands and his property, Zadok and Judas gave 
the signal for energetic resistance. In some 
places a conflict seems to have ensued. The more 


moderate, however, including the High Priest 
Joasar, tried to pacify the malcontents by explain- 
ing that the census would not be the precursor of 
slavery or of the confiscation of property, but was 
simply necessary in order to control the arrange- 
ments for taxation. It was useless, and the cen- 
sus was regarded with such suspicion and dislike 
that every fine was now called census (Kenas). 
Even the moderate party, although they endeav- 
ored to stem the agitation, were indignant at the 
encroachments made upon their liberties. The 
school of Hillel considered the taxation so unjusti- 
fiable that, conscientious as they were, they acceded 
to all measures by which it might be escaped. 

Such was the general abhorrence for this system 
of taxation, that all those who were officially occu- 
pied in carrying it out, whether as tax-collector 
(Moches) or as treasurer (Gabbai), were looked 
upon as dishonorable men ; they were not tolerated 
in the higher ranks of the community, and their tes- 
timony as witnesses was discredited. Only mer- 
cenary motives and utter indifference to public 
opinion could induce any one to undertake the des- 
pised office. The designations of tax-gatherer and 
overseer became henceforth terms of opprobrium. 

Another change also originated with the Ro- 
man occupation of Judaea. All public documents, 
deeds of divorce, etc., were now to be dated 
according to the year of the reign of the Roman 
Emperor, and not, as formerly, that of the Judaean 
rulers. The Zealots were much annoyed at this 
innovation, and they accused the more moderate 
Pharisees, who had yielded to it, of indifference in 
matters of religion. " How could such an ignominy 
be perpetrated as to write the words, ' according to 
the laws of Moses and Israel ' ' (the usual formula 
in the separation deeds) " next to the name of the 
heathen ruler, and thus permit the holy name of the 
greatest prophet to be placed by the side of the 


name of the heathen ruler." In one matter Quir- 
inius was forced to yield to the wishes of the 
people. He deposed the unpopular High Priest 
Joasar, and named in his stead Anan of the family 
of Seth, whose four sons also became high priests. 

Under Coponius, who entered upon his office 
of Procurator when Ouirinius left, the old enmity 
between the Judaeans and Samaritans revived. 
Several days before the Feast of Passover, the 
doors of the Temple were thrown open at mid- 
night, on account of the great number of offerings 
which took place during that time. A few Samaritans 
stole into the first outer court, and threw some human 
bones in among the pillars, with the object of pollut- 
ing the Temple. Henceforth the hatred between 
these two races became fiercer than ever, and the 
guards of the Temple, who were under the charge 
of the Levites, were strengthened, so as to prevent 
the recurrence of such a desecration. Not long after 
these events Coponius was recalled. He was fol- 
lowed by Marcus Ambivius, who in a short time was 
also recalled, and was succeeded by Annius Rufus. 
Thus there were three overseers in the short space 
of seven years (7-14), a disastrous circumstance, as 
each one was intent upon draining, as far as possible, 
all the wealth from the nation. 

The death of Augustus brought little change to 
Judaea ; the latter simply became, with other prov- 
inces, the possession of Tiberius. Outwardly, these 
provinces may not have suffered under the new em- 
peror's reign, for he was just to the people, though 
antagonistic to the aristocracy, which he endeavored 
to suppress. He listened to the complaints of the 
Judaeans, and lightened the burdens of their almost 
unendurable taxation. He appointed as procurator 
Valerius Gratus, who occupied this post for eleven 
years (15-26) In reality, however, the antipathy 
of Tiberius to the Judaeans was even greater than 
that of his predecessor and adopted father ; it would 


seem as if the representative of imperialism in 
Rome had a foreboding of the mortal blow which 
Rome was destined to receive from Judaism. This 
antipathy had probably been stimulated by the fact 
that the Romans, and particularly the Roman 
women, had a leaning towards Judaism. The enthu- 
siasm of the Judaeans for their religion presented a 
striking contrast to the indifference with which the 
Romans, both the priests and the laity, regarded their 
national worship. The loss of freedom in imperial 
Rome had carried away with it that ideality which 
inspires highly-gifted souls ; ardent and emotional 
minds sought in vain for some lofty interest to satisfy 
their longings. Several Roman proselytes, during 
the reign of Tiberius, gave evidence of their religi- 
ous enthusiasm by sending offerings to the Temple 
at Jerusalem. It may have been a feeling of super- 
stition, rather than conviction, which gave rise to 
conversions ; for from the converts gained for the 
cult of Isis in Rome, it was evident that the unknown, 
the strange, the mystical exercised a strong fascina- 
tion over those from whose lives all idealism was 

The displeasure of Tiberius was incurred by the 
Roman proselytes for the first time under the follow- 
ing circumstances : Fulvia, the wife of a very highly 
respected senator, had been converted to Judaism, 
and had sent offerings to the Temple through the 
agency of her teachers, who, however, had retained 
these offerings for themselves. As soon as these 


facts came to the ears of Tiberius, he presented a 
law against Judaeans to the Senate. That body 
consequently resolved that Judaeans must leave the 
city of Rome, on pain of becoming slaves for life, 
unless they abjured Judaism within a given time. 
This measure is said to have been urgently recom- 
mended by the minister Sejanus, who exercised a 
most powerful influence over Tiberius. Thousands 
of Judaean youths were, then and there, banished to 


Sardinia, to fight against the hordes of brigands that 
infested that island. Banishment to so uncongenial 
a climate was almost certain to be fatal to the 
unfortunate youths ; but this consideration did not 
lead the Emperor, as hard-hearted as his senators, 
to take a milder course. The Judaeans throughout 
Italy were threatened with banishment if they did 
not forsake their religious observances ; all young 
men, in the prime of life, were forced to come 
armed into the camp on the Sabbath-day ; severe 
punishment followed if religious scruples dictated 
a refusal. This was the first time that the Judaeans 
had suffered religious persecution in Rome their 
first martyrdom -destined to be the precursor of 
countless others. 

The Procurator Gratus, whom Tiberius had ap- 
pointed, took as active a part as his predecessors in 
the internal affairs of Judaea. During the eleven 
years that he occupied his post he installed as many 
as five high priests, of whom some only retained 
their office during one year. These changes were 
sometimes due to the unpopularity of the high 
priests, but were far more often the result of bribery 
or of wanton arbitrariness. 

Although Judaea and the neighboring lands of 
Idumaea and Samaria were ruled by Procurators, 
the tetrarchy of Galilee and Peraea enjoyed a sem- 
blance of independence under the reign of Herod 
Antipas, and the lands of Batanaea and Trachonitis 
under that of Philip. These two princes were dis- 
tinguished only for their passion for building and 
their submissiveness to Rome. Herod Antipas had 
at first made Sepphoris the capital of his tetrarchy, 
but as soon as Tiberius became emperor he built 
a new city in the lovely neighborhood of the lake of 
Gennesareth, which he named Tiberias, and where 
he established his court (2426). But the pious 
Judaeans objected to living in this new city ; it had 
probably been built upon a site which had once 


served as a battle-field, as a quantity of human bones 
were discovered there. The inhabitants were con- 
sequently prevented by the strict Levitical regula- 
tions from visiting the Temple, and performing vari- 
ous religious observances. Antipas induced the 
Judaeans to settle there only by holding out the 
most tempting offers and by using force ; and a cen- 
tury actually elapsed before the more conscientious 
members of the people consented to take up their 
abode in the city of Tiberias. 

The town of Beth-Ramatha, in a situation similar 
to that of Jericho, and also rich in the produce of 
balsam plants, was renamed Livia, in honor of the 
wife of Augustus. Philip, whose revenue from the 
country only amounted to one hundred talents, 
also built two cities. One of these he built in the 
beautiful district near the source of the Jordan, and 
named it Caesarea Philippi, to distinguish it from the 
seaport town of Caesarea ; the other, to the northeast 
of the Lake of Gennesareth, he named Julias, after 
the daughter of Augustus. Indeed, Judaea teemed 
with monuments erected in honor of the Caesars. 
Philip's disposition was gentle, and seemingly un- 
marred by fierce passions, and his reign, which 
lasted seven-and-thirty years (4 B. .-33 A. c.), was 
quiet and uneventful. Antipas, on the contrary, had 
inherited some of his father's wild and bloodthirsty 

The successor to the Governor Valerius Gratus 
was Pontius Pilate, whose tenure of office (26-36) 
embraced a decade memorable in the history of the 
world. As soon as he was in power, he showed the 
determination to subject the Judaeans to further 
humiliation, and to convince them that they must 
drink the cup of suffering to the dregs. The 
mere facts that Pilate was the creature of the de- 
ceitful minister Sejanus, before whom emperor and 
senate trembled alike, and that he was sent by him 
to Judaea, would suffice to describe his disposition. 


Pilate was worthy of his master ; he certainly went 
far beyond any of his predecessors in wounding the 
susceptibilities of the Judaean nation. He attacked 
their, religious scruples by endeavoring to induce 
them to pay homage to the emblems and insignia 
of imperialism. Till now the leaders of Roman 
troops had respected the aversion with which the 
Judaeans were known to regard all images, and on 
entering Jerusalem the obnoxious emblems had 
always been removed from the Roman standards. 
Herod and his sons had never failed to observe this 
practice. Although Pilate well knew that the feel- 
ings of Judaeans had never before been outraged on 
this subject, he paid no heed to them. It is not 
known whether he had received secret injunctions 
on this point from Sejanus, or whether he acted on 
his own authority, with the anticipation of a satisfac- 
tory bribe. He sent privately for all the imperial 
emblems in order to replace them upon the stand- 
ards which were in Jerusalem. The command that 
these representations of human beings were to be 
worshiped as deities caused the deepest indignation 
throughout the land. Delegates from the people, 
who were even joined by members of the Herodian 
family, hastened to the Procurator at Csesarea, and 
implored him to command the removal of the hated 


During five days the petitioners remained before 
the palace of the Procurator, sending up ceaseless 
supplications. On the sixth day Pilate attempted 
to terrify them, and threatened that they should be 
cut down by his legions if they did not immediately 
disperse. However, when he found that the 
Judaeans were determined to sacrifice their lives, if 
necessary, rather than their religious convictions, 
and perhaps afraid of the disapproval of Tiberius, 
he at last gave way, and issued a command that the 
cause of their anger should be removed. But he 
provoked the indignation of the inhabitants of Jeru- 


salem against himself a short time after. He 
purposed making an aqueduct from a spring at a 
distance of four geographical miles from the town 
of Jerusalem. In order to meet the necessary ex- 
penses, he possessed himself of the treasures in the 
Temple (the korban). He was in Jerusalem at the 
time, and was surrounded by an angry populace, 
who assailed him with execrations. He did not 
venture to call out his legions, but ordered a number 
of soldiers to disguise themselves in the Judsean 
dress, and to mingle with the crowd and attack 
them. The multitudes rapidly dispersed, but not 
before great numbers of them had been killed and 



The Messianic Hope Various Conceptions of the Expected Messiah 
The Essene Idea of the Kingdom of Heaven John the Bap- 
tist, his Work and Imprisonment Jesus of Nazareth continues 
John's Labors Story of his Birth His Success His Relations 
to Judaism and the Sects His Miraculous Healing of the Sick 
and Exorcism of Demons His Secret Appearance as the Mes- 
siah His Journey to Judaea Accusations against him, and his 
Condemnation The First Christian Community and its Chiefs 
The Ebionites Removal of Pilate from Judaea Vitellius, Gov- 
ernor of Syria, favors the Judaeans. 

2837 C.E. 

WHILE Judaea was still trembling in fear of some 
new act of violence on the part of the governor, 
Pontius Pilate, which would again afflict the country 
with disturbances and troubles, a strange event 
occurred. At first but little heeded, it soon ac- 
quired, through the singularity of its origin and 
many favorable attendant circumstances, a consid- 
erable degree of notoriety. So great were the 
strides this movement rapidly made to influence 
and power, that radical changes were produced by 
it and new paths opened in the history of the world. 
The time had come when the fundamental truths of 
Judaism, till then thoroughly known and rightly ap- 
preciated only by profound thinkers, were to burst 
their shackles and go freely forth among all the people 
of the earth. Sublime and lofty views of God and 
of holy living for the individual as well as for the 
state, which form the kernel of Judaism, were now 
to be disseminated among other nations and to bring 
them a rich and beneficent harvest. Israel was now 
to commence in earnest his sacred mission ; he 
was to become the teacher of nations. The ancient 


teaching about God and religious morality was to 
be introduced by him unto a godless and immoral 
world. Judaism, however, could gain admission 
into the hearts of the heathens only by taking 
another name and assuming new forms, for with its 
old designation and distinctive features it was not 


generally popular. 

It was due to the strange movement which arose 


under the governorship of Pilate that the teachings 
of Judaism won the sympathy of the heathen world. 
But this new form of Judaism, altered by foreign 
elements, became estranged from and placed itself 
in harsh antagonism to the parent source. Judaism, 
which had given birth to this new manifestation, 
could take no pleasure in her offspring, which soon 
turned coldly from her and struck out into strange, 
divergent paths. This new power, this old doctrine 
in a new garb, or rather this Essenism intermingled 
with foreign elements, is Christianity, whose advent 
and earliest course belong to the Judaran history of 
this epoch. 

Christianity owed its origin to an overpowering, 
mysterious feeling which reigned among the better 
classes of the Judaean nation, and which became 
daily stronger as their political position became 
more and more intolerable. The ever-recurring 
evils brought on them by the rapacity of their 
Roman rulers, the shamelessness of the Herodian 
princes, the cowardice and servility of the Judaean 
aristocracy, the debasement of the high priests 
and their families, and the dissensions of rival par- 
ties, had raised the longing for the deliverer an- 
nounced in the prophetical writings the Messiah- 
to so great a pitch that any highly-gifted individual, 
possessed of outward charm or imbued with moral 
and religious grace, would readily have found dis- 
ciples, and believers in his Messianic mission. The 
most earnest thinkers of that time had long regarded 
the political condition of the Judseans since their 


return from the Babylonian exile as a temporary 
or preparatory state, which would only continue 
until the true prophet arose, and Elijah turned 
the hearts of the fathers to the children, and restored 
the tribes of Jacob. When the people, with solemn 
rites, elected the Hasmonsean Simon as their prince, 
they decreed that he and his descendants should 
hold that position only until the True Prophet ap- 
peared to assume the royal dignity, and it was only 
to a scion of the House of David, the Anointed, 
that, according to prophecy, this dignity by right 

When, consequent upon the wars undertaken by 
the three powerful leaders, Octavius, Antony, and 
Lepidus, ostensibly to punish Caesar's murderers, 
in reality to introduce a new form of government, 
the great political convulsion took place in the 
Roman Empire, and three divisions of the world 
were laid waste, a Judaean poet in Egypt was fore- 
telling a far different outcome the destruction of 
the whole heathen world and the dawn of the 
" Kingdom of God." In that kingdom a holy king 
the Messiah would hold the scepter. "When 
Rome shall vanquish Egypt, and govern her, then 
shall the greatest in the kingdom, the immortal 
King, arise in the world, and a holy King will come 
to rule over all the nations of the earth during all 
time." The Messiah, so confidently expected, was 
to bring forth quite a new state of things a new 
heaven and a new earth. At the coming of Elijah, 
who was to be the precursor of the Messiah, the 
resurrection of the dead would take place, and a 
future world be revealed. 

This ardent longing for the Messiah, and the 
belief in his advent, swayed all classes of the Judaean 
nation, excepting the aristocracy and those who 
clung to Rome. These were satisfied with the 
present, and anticipated harm rather than benefit 
from any change. During the short space of thirty 


years a great number of enthusiastic mystics ap- 
peared, who, without any intention to deceive, and 
bent upon removing the load of care and sorrow 
that weighed so heavily upon the people, assumed 
the character of prophet or Messiah, and found dis- 
ciples, who followed their banner faithfully unto death. 
But though it appears that every Messiah attracted 
ready believers, no one was acknowledged as such by 
the whole nation. The incessant friction between 
the various communities, and the deep study of the 
holy books, had awakened a critical spirit difficult to 
satisfy. The nation was also split into many parties, 
each entertaining a different idea of the future savior, 
and rendering it, therefore, impossible that any one 
aspirant should receive general recognition as the 
Messiah. The republican zealots, the disciples of 
Judas of Galilee, pictured the Messiah as delivering 
Israel from his enemies by the breath of his mouth, 
destroying the Roman Empire, and restoring the 
golden era of David's kingdom. The school of 
Shammai added to this representation of the Mes- 
siah the attributes of ardent religious zeal and per- 
fect moral purity. The followers of Hillel, less 
swayed by fanaticism or political views, expected a 
prince of peace, who would bring tranquillity to the 
country itself, and introduce harmony into its rela- 
tions with all its neighboring states. On one point, 
however, all agreed : the Messiah must spring from 
the branch of David ; and thus, in the course of time, 
the expression " Ben David " -the son of David 
became identical with the Messiah. According to the 
prevailing belief, the fulfillment of the Messianic 
prophecies required the return of the scattered tribes 
of Israel, richly laden with presents, expiatory offer- 
ings from the nations by which they had so long been 
oppressed. Even the most educated classes, who had 
felt the influence of Grecian culture, and were repre- 
sented by Philo, the Judaean Plato, fully believed 
that the Messianic age was to be ushered in, and 


pictured it as an epoch of miracles. A heavenly 
apparition, only visible to the righteous, would lead 
back from Greece and barbarous lands the exiled 
and repentant Israelites. The latter would be found 
prepared for the Messianic time, following the holy 
life of the patriarchs, and imbued with a sublime and 
pious spirit, which would prevent them from falling 
into their old sins, and would surely call down upon 
them the full grace of God. Then would the streams 
of former happiness be again replenished from the 
eternal spring of Divine grace : the ruined cities 
would arise, the desert become a blooming land, 
and the prayers of the living would have the power 
of awakening the dead. 

It was the sect of Essenes that pictured the Mes- 
siah and the Messianic time in the most idealistic 
manner. The great object of their asceticism 
was to advance the kingdom of heaven (Malchuth 
Shamayim) and the coming era (Olam-ha-Ba). Their 
adherence would be granted alone to him who led a 
pure and spotless life, who renounced the world 
and its vanities, and gave proofs that the Holy 
Spirit (Ruach ha-Kodesh) dwelt within him. He 
must also have power over demons, reject Mammon, 
and inaugurate a system of community of goods, in 
which poverty and self-renunciation would be the 
ornaments of mankind. 

It was from the Essenes that for the first time the 
cry went forth, " The Messiah is coming ! The 
kingdom of heaven is near!" He who first raised 
his voice in the desert little thought it would re-echo 
far away over land and sea, and that it would be 
answered by the nations of the earth flocking 
together round the banner of a Messiah. In an- 
nouncing the kingdom of heaven, he only meant to 
invite the sinners among the Judaean people to pen- 
itence and reformation. The Essene who sent forth 
this call to the Israelites was John the Baptist (his 
name doubtless meaning the Essene, he who daily 


bathed and cleansed both body and soul in spring 
water). But few accounts have reached us of John 
the Baptist. He led the same life as the Essenes, 
fed upon locusts and wild honey, and wore the garb 
of the prophets of old, a cloak of camel-hair fastened 
by a leather girdle. John appears to have fully 
entertained the belief, that if only the whole Judsean 
nation would bathe in the river Jordan, acknowledge 
their sins, and adopt the strict rules of the Essenes, 
the promised Messianic time could be no longer 
deferred. He therefore called upon the people to 
come and receive baptism in the Jordan, to confess 
and renounce their sins, and thus prepare for the 
advent of the kingdom of heaven. 

John dwelt with other Essenes in the desert, in the 
vicinity of the Dead Sea, presumably in order to be 
ever at hand to teach the repentant sinners the 
deep moral signification of baptism. Bound up 
with that rite was doubtless the adoption of the 
rule of life of the Essenes. There were certainly 
many, imbued with an enthusiastic spirit, and sad- 
dened by the evils and the distress they witnessed, who 
eagerly responded to the cry of the Essene Baptist. 
Who would not gladly, were it only in his power to 
do so, further the great work of the Redemption, 
and help to advance the kingdom of heaven ? Did 
the baptized persons return improved by their im- 
mersion in the waters of the Jordan ? Was any 
great moral influence the result of this symbolical 
act ? History tells us not ; but our knowledge of 
the state of Judsea at that time can easily supply 
us with an answer to the question. The Judaean 
people did not as a whole, especially among the 
middle-class citizens, require this violent shock 
as a means of improvement ; they were neither 
vicious nor depraved, and their form of public religi- 
ous worship was sufficient to keep them in the right 
paths. By two sets of people, however, the call of 
John to repentance might have been heeded it 


might have had a beneficial influence upon the higher 
and lower classes, upon the aristocracy and wealthy, 
who had been corrupted by Rome, and upon the miser- 
able peasantry, brutalized by constant warfare. But 
the rich only laughed at the high-souled enthusiast, 
who taught that baptism in the water of the Jordan 
would bring about the miraculous Messianic era, and 
the sons of the soil were too obtuse and ignorant to 
heed the Baptist's earnest cry. 

His appeal, on the other hand, had nothing in its 
tenor and character to offend the Pharisees, or 
arouse any opposition among the ranks of that 
ruling party. John's disciples, those who were 
bound closest to him, and who carried out his mode 
of living, kept strictly to the words of the Law, and 
observed all its prescribed fasts. If the Pharisees, 
comprising at that time the schools of Hillel and of 
Shammai, did not greatly favor the enthusiasm and 
extravagance of the Essenes, they placed them- 
selves in no direct antagonism to the Baptists. 

From their side, John would have met with no 
hindrance to his work, but the Herodians were sus- 
picious of a man who drew such throngs around 
him, whose burning words moved the hearts of his 
hearers in their very depths, and could carry away 
the multitude to the performance of any enterprise 
he chose to undertake. Herod Antipas, governor 
of the province in which the Baptist dwelt, gave his 
soldiers orders to seize and imprison him. How 
long a time he was kept in confinement, and 
whether he was still alive when one of his disciples 
was being proclaimed as the Messiah, must, on 
account of the untrustworthiness of the sources 
from which our information is derived, remain 
doubtful. It is authentic, however, that he was be- 
headed by the order of Antipas, whilst the story of 
the young daughter of Herodias bringing to her 
mother the bloody head of the Baptist upon a plat- 
ter is a mere legend. 


After the imprisonment of the Baptist, his work 
was carried on by some of his disciples, among 
whom no one exerted so powerful an influence as 
Jesus of Galilee. Jesus (short for Joshua), born in 
Nazareth, a small town in Lower Galilee, to the 
south of Sepphoris, was the eldest son of an other- 
wise unknown carpenter, Joseph, and of his wife 
Miriam or Mary, who bore him four more sons, 
Jacob, Jose, Judah, and Simon, and several daugh- 
ters. Whether Joseph or Mary, the father and 
mother of Jesus, belonged to the family of David 
cannot be proved. The measure of his mental 
culture can only be surmised from that existing in 
his native province. Galilee, at a distance from the 
capital and the Temple, was far behind Judaea in 
mental attainments and knowledge of the Law. 
The lively interchange of religious thought, and the 
discussions upon the Law, which made its writings 
and teachings the common property of all who 
sought the Temple, were naturally wanting in 
Galilee. The country, which, at a later period, after 
the destruction of the Temple, contained the great 
schools of Uscha, Sepphoris, and Tiberias, was at 
that time very poor in seats of learning. But, on 
the other hand, morality was stricter in Galilee, and 
the observance of laws and customs more rigidly 
enforced. The slio-htest infringement was not 


allowed, and what the Judaeans permitted them- 
selves, the Galilaeans would by no means consent 
to. They were also looked upon as fanatical dog- 

Through their vicinity to the heathen Syrians, the 
Galilaeans had adopted many superstitions, and, 
owinof to their ignorance of the nature of disease, 
the sick were often thought to be possessed by de- 
mons, and various forms of illness were ascribed to 
the influence of evil spirits. The language of the 
Galilaeans had also become corrupted by their 
Syrian neighbors, and was marred by the introduc- 


tion of Aramaic forms and words. The Galilaeans 
could not pronounce Hebrew with purity. They 
exchanged, and sometimes omitted, the guttural 
sounds, and thus often incurred the ridicule of the 
Judaeans, who thought a great deal of correct articu- 
lation. The first word he spoke revealed the Gali- 
laean, and, as his language provoked laughter, he 
was not often allowed to lead in the recital of the 
prayers. The birthplace of Jesus, Nazareth, offered 
no particular attraction ; it was a small mountain- 
town, not more fertile than the other parts of 
Galilee, and bearing no comparison to the richly- 
watered Shechem. 

On account of his Galilaean origin, Jesus could 
not have stood high in that knowledge of the Law 
which, through the schools of Shammai and Hillel, 
had become prevalent in Judaea. His small stock 
of learning and his corrupt half-Aramaic language 
pointed unmistakably to his birthplace in Galilee. 
His deficiency in knowledge, however, was fully 
compensated for by his intensely sympathetic char- 
acter. High-minded earnestness and spotless moral 
purity were his undeniable attributes ; they stand 
out in all the authentic accounts of his life that have 
reached us, and appear even in those garbled teach- 
ings which his followers placed in his mouth. The 
gentle disposition and the humility of Jesus remind 
one of Hillel, whom he seems, indeed, to have taken as 
his particular model, and whose golden rule, " What 
you wish not to be done to yourself, do not unto 
others," he adopted as the starting-point of his 
moral code. Like Hillel, Jesus looked upon the 
promotion of peace and the forgiveness of injuries as 
the highest forms of virtue. His whole being was 
permeated by that deeper religiousness which con- 
secrates to God not only the hour of prayer, a day 
of penitence, and longer or shorter periods of devo- 
tional exercise, but every step in the journey of life, 
which turns every aspiration of the soul towards 


Him, subjects everything to His will, and, with 
child-like trust, commits everything to His keeping. 
He was filled with tender brotherly love, which 
Judaism also teaches towards an enemy, and had 
reached the ideal of the passive virtues which the 
Pharisees inculcated : " Count yourself among the 
oppressed and not among the oppressors, receive 
abuse and return it not ; do all from love to God, 
and rejoice in suffering." Jesus doubtless pos- 
sessed warm sympathies and a winning manner, 
which caused his words to produce a deep and 
lasting effect. 

Jesus must, from the idiosyncrasies of his nature, 
have been powerfully attracted by the Essenes, who 
led a contemplative life apart from the world and 
its vanities. When John the Baptist or more cor- 
rectly the Essene invited all to come and receive 
baptism in the Jordan, to repent and prepare for 
the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus hastened to obey 
the call, and was baptized by him. Although it 
cannot be proved that Jesus was formally admitted 
into the order of the Essenes, much in his life and 
work can only be explained by the supposition that 
he had adopted their fundamental principles. Like 
the Essenes, Jesus highly esteemed self-inflicted 
poverty, and despised the mammon of riches. The 
following proverbs, ascribed to him, appear to bear 
his stamp : " Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the 
kingdom of heaven" (Luke vi. 20). "It is easier 
for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than 
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God " 
(Matthew xix. 24). " No man can serve two mas- 
ters, ye cannot serve God and mammon " (Matthew 
vi. 24). Jesus shared the aversion of the Essenes to 
marriage : "It is not good to marry"(Matthewxix. 1 1). 
Community of goods, a peculiar doctrine of the 
Essenes, was not only approved of, but positively en- 
joined by Jesus ; like them, he also reprobated every 
form of oath. " Swear not at all " (so Jesus taught), 
" neither by heaven nor by the earth, nor by your 


head but let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay " 
(James v. 12). Miraculous cures, said to have been 
performed by him such as the exorcism of demons 
from those who believed themselves to be possessed 
were often made by the Essenes, so to say, in a 
professional capacity. 

After John had been taken and imprisoned by 
Herod Antipas, Jesus thought simply of continuing 
his master's work ; like him, he preached " Repent, 
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," without 
perhaps having then a suspicion of the part he 
was afterwards to play in that kingdom of heaven 
looked forward to in the approaching Messianic 
time. Jesus apparently felt that if his appeal 
was not to be lost in the desert like that of the 
Baptist, but, on the contrary, bring forth lasting 
results, it must not be addressed to the whole 
nation, but to a particular class of the Judseans. 
The middle classes, the inhabitants of towns of 
greater or lesser importance, were not wanting in 
godliness, piety and morality, and consequently a 
call to them to repent and forsake their sins would 
have been meaningless. The declaration made to 
Jesus by the young man who was seeking the way 
of eternal life, " From my youth upwards, I have 
kept the laws of God ; I have not committed murder, 
nor adultery, nor have I stolen, nor borne false 
witness ; I have honored my father and mother, 
and loved my neighbor like myself," this declara- 
tion might have been made by the greater number 
of the middle-class Judaeans of that time. The 
disciples of Shammai and Hillel, the followers of the 
zealot Judas, the bitter foes of the Herodians and of 
Rome, were not morally sick, and were not in need 
of the physician's art. They were ever ready for 
self-sacrifice, and Jesus wisely refrained from turning 
to them. Still less was he inclined to attempt to 
reform the rich, and he was repelled by the higher 
classes of Judseans. From these, the warning 


of the simple, unlearned moralist and preacher, his 
reproof of their pride, their venality and incon- 
stancy, would only have elicited mockery and de- 
rision. With right judgment, therefore, Jesus 
determined upon seeking out those who did not 
belong to, or had been expelled from the community 
for their religious offenses, and who had either not 
been allowed or had not desired to return to it. 
They were publicans and tax-gatherers, shunned by 
the patriots, as promoters of Roman interests, who 
turned their backs upon the Law, and led a wild, 
unshackled life, heedless alike of the past and of the 
future. There existed in Judaea many who had no 
knowledge of the great healing truths of Judaism, 
who were 'gnorant of its laws, and indifferent as to 
the glorious history of its past or its possible future. 
These were known as transgressors of the Law 
(Abrianim), or sinners as they were called, the 
friends of Herod and of Rome. There were also 
ignorant, poor handicraftsmen and menials (Am 
ha-Arez), who were seldom able to visit the Judsean 
capital, or listen to Judsean teachings, which, indeed, 
they would probably not have understood. It was 
not for them that Sinai had flamed, or the prophets 
had uttered their cry of warning ; for the teachers of 
the Law, more intent upon expounding doctrine than 
upon reforming their hearers, failed to make the Law 
and the prophets intelligible to those classes, and con- 
sequently did not draw them within their fold. It was 
to these outcasts that Jesus turned, to snatch them 
out of their torpor, their ignorance and ungodli- 
ness. He felt within himself the call to save " the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel." " They that be 
whole need not a physician, but they that are sick " 
(Matthew ix. 12). 

Intent upon the lofty mission which he had un- 
dertaken to turn the ignorant and the godless, 
the sinner and the publican to repentance, and by 
virtue of the Essene 'mode of living to prepare 


them for the approaching Messianic time Jesus 
first sought his native town of Nazareth. But 
there, where he had been known from his infancy, 
and where the carpenter's son was not considered 
to possess superior sanctity but only inferior know- 
ledge, he was met with derision and contempt. 
When, on the Sabbath, he spoke in the synagogue 
about repentance, the listeners said to each 
other, " Is that not the son of Joseph the carpenter, 
and his mother and sisters, are they not all with 
us ? " and they said to him, " Physician, heal thy- 
self," and listened not to him. The ignominious 
treatment he received in his own birthplace caused 
him to utter the proverb, " The preacher is least 
regarded in his own country." He left Nazareth, 
never to return. 

A better result followed the teaching of Jesus 
in the town of Capernaum (Kefar Nahum), which 
was situated on the western coast of the Sea of 
Tiberias. The inhabitants of that delightfully 
situated town differed as much from the Nazarenes 
as their mild, fertile land from a rough and wild 
mountain gorge. In Capernaum there were doubt- 
less a greater number of men steeped in effeminacy 
and vice, and there existed, probably, a wider gap 
between the rich and the poor. But just on that 
account Jesus had more scope to work there, and 
an easier access was found for the earnest, penetrat- 
ing words which he poured forth from the depths of 
his soul. Many belonging to the lowest classes at- 
tached themselves to Jesus and followed him. Among 
his first disciples in Capernaum were Simon, called 
Kephas or Petrus (rock), and his brother Andrew, 
the sons of Jonah, both fishermen, the first, in some 
degree, a law-breaker, and also the two sons of a 
certain Zebedee, Jacob and John. He was also fol- 
lowed by a rich publican, called sometimes Matthew, 
sometimes Levi, in whose house Jesus often tarried, 
bringing with him companions from the classes then 


looked down upon with the greatest contempt. 
Women likewise of doubtful repute were among 
his followers, the most conspicuous of the number 
being a native of the town of Magdala, near 
Tiberias, Mary Magdalene, from whom seven devils 
(according to the language of the time) had to be 
driven out. Jesus converted these abandoned sin- 
ners into remorseful penitents. It was, doubtless, 
an unheard-of thing at that time for a teacher of 
Judaism to hold intercourse with women at all, 
more especially with any of that description. 

He, however, by word and example raised the 
sinner and the publican, and filled the hearts of 
those poor, neglected, thoughtless beings with the 
love of God, transforming them into dutiful children 
of their heavenly Father. He animated them with 
his own piety and fervor, and improved their con- 
duct by the hope he gave them of being able to enter 
the kingdom of heaven. That was the greatest 
miracle that Jesus performed. Above all things, 
he taught his male and female disciples the Es- 
sene virtues of self-abnegation and humility, of 
the contempt of riches, of charity and the love of 
peace. He said to his followers, " Provide neither 
gold nor silver nor brass for your purses, neither 
two coats, neither shoes " (Matthew x. 9). He 
bade them become sinless as little children, and 
declared they must be as if born again if they would 
become members of the approaching kingdom of 
heaven. The law of brotherly love and forbearance 
he carried to the extent of self-immolation. " If 
you receive a blow on one cheek, turn the other 
one likewise, and if one takes your cloak, give him 
likewise your shirt." He taught the poor that they 
should not take heed for meat or drink or raiment, 
but pointed to the birds in the air and the lilies in 
the fields that were fed and clothed yet " they toil 
not, neither do they spin." He taught the rich how 
to distribute alms " Let not thy left hand know 


what thy right hand doeth." He admonished the 
hypocrite, and bade him pray in the secrecy of his 
closet, placing" before him a short form of prayer 
" Our Father which art in heaven," which may 
possibly have been in use among the Essenes. 

Jesus made no attack upon Judaism itself, he 
had no idea of becoming the reformer of Jewish 
doctrine or the propounder of a new law ; he sought 
merely to redeem the sinner, to call him to a good 
and holy life, to teach him that he is a child of 
God, and to prepare him for the approaching 
Messianic time. He insisted upon the unity of 
God, and was far from attempting to change in the 
slightest degree the Jewish conception of the 
Deity. To the question once put to him by an 
expounder of the Law, " \Yhat is the essence of 
Judaism ? " he replied, " ' Hear, O Israel, our God 
is one ' and ' Thou shalt love thy neighbor as 
thyself.' These are the chief commandments " 
(Mark xii. 28). His disciples, who had remained true 
to Judaism, promulgated the declaration of their 
Master " I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill ; 
till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle 
shall in nowise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled " 
(Matthew v. 1 7). He must have kept the Sabbath 
holy, for those of his followers who were attached 
to Judaism strictly observed the Sabbath, which 
they would not have done had their master disre- 
garded it. It was only the Shammaitic strictness in 
the observance of the Sabbath, which forbade even 
the healing of the sick on that day, that Jesus pro- 
tested against, declaring that it was lawful to do 
good on the Sabbath. Jesus made no objection to 
the existing custom of sacrifice, he merely demanded 
and in this the Pharisees agreed with him that 
reconciliation with one's fellow-man should precede 
any act of religious atonement. Even fasting 
found no opponent in him, so far as it was practised 
without ostentation or hypocrisy. He wore on his 


garments the fringes ordered by the Law, and he 
belonged so thoroughly to Judaism that he shared 
the narrow views held by the Judaeans at that 
period, and thoroughly despised the heathen world. 
He was animated by that feeling when he said, 
" Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, 
neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they 
trample them under their feet and turn again and 
rend you." 

The merit of Jesus consists especially in his 
efforts to impart greater inner force to the precepts 
of Judaism, in the enthusiasm with which he obeyed 
them himself, in his ardor to make the Judaans 
turn to God with filial love as children to their 
father, in his fervent upholding of the brotherhood 
of men, in his insistence that moral laws be placed 
in the foreground, and in his endeavors to have 
them accepted by those who had been hitherto 
regarded as the lowest and most degraded of 
human beings. 

It was not to be expected, however, that through 
his teaching alone Jesus could attract devoted 
followers, or achieve great results ; something 
more was required something strange and won- 
derful to startle and inflame. His appearance, his 
mystical character, his earnest zeal produced, 
doubtless, a powerful effect, but to awaken in 
the dull and cold a lasting enthusiasm, to gain 
the confidence of the masses and to kindle their 
faith, it was necessary to appeal to their imagina- 
tion by strange circumstances and marvelous sur- 
roundings. The Christian chronicles abound in 
extraordinary events and descriptions of miraculous 
cures performed by Jesus. Though these stories 
may in part be due to an inclination to exaggerate 
and idealize, they must doubtless have had some 
foundation in fact. Miraculous cures such, for 
example, as the exorcism of those possessed by 
demons belonged so completely to the personality 


of Jesus that his followers boasted more of the 
exercise of that power than of the purity and holi- 
ness of their conduct. If we are to credit the his- 
torical accounts of that period, the people also 
admired Jesus more for the command he displayed 
over demons and Satan than for his moral great- 
ness. It was indeed on account of the possession 
of such power that he was first considered a super- 
natural being" by the uncultured masses. 

Encouraged by the great effect he produced in 
Capernaum, where he found his first circle of dis- 
ciples, Jesus wandered about in the towns of Gali- 
lee, remaining some time in its second capital, 
Bethsaida, in Magdala, and in Chorazin, where he 
gained many followers. His presence, however, in 
Bethsaida and Chorazin could not have produced 
any lasting result, as he bewailed according to the 
words placed in his mouth, " Woe unto thee, Cho- 
razin, woe unto thee, Bethsaida " the spirit of 
opposition and indocility of their inhabitants. Like 
Sodom and Gomorrah, they were accursed. Still 
he had many faithful disciples, both men and 
women, who followed him everywhere, and obeyed 
him in all things. They renounced not only their 
former immoral and irreligious life, but also gave 
up all their possessions, carrying out the doctrine 
of the community of goods. The repasts they 
took in common formed, as it were, the connect- 
ing link which attached the followers of Jesus to 
one another, and the alms distributed by the rich 
publicans relieved the poor disciples of the fear 
of hunger, and thus bound them still more closely 
to Jesus. 

Among his followers Jesus selected as his pecu- 
liar confidants those who, distinguished by their 
superior intelligence or greater steadfastness of 
character, seemed best calculated to forward the 
aims he had in view. The number of these trusted 
disciples was not known, but tradition mentions 


twelve, and calls them the twelve apostles repre- 
sentatives, as it were, of the twelve tribes of Israel. 
His great design, the secret desire of his heart, 
Jesus disclosed on one occasion to the most inti- 
mate circle of his disciples. He led them to a 
retired spot at the foot of Mount Hermon, not far 
from Caesarea Philippi, the capital of the Tetrarch 
Philip, where the Jordan rushes forth from mighty 
rocks, and in that remote solitude he revealed to 
them the hidden object of his thoughts. But he 
contrived his discourse in such a manner that it ap- 
peared to be his disciples who at last elicited from 
him the revelation that he considered himself the 
expected Messiah. He asked his followers, "Who 
do men say that I, the son of man, am ? " Some re- 
plied that he was thought to be Elijah, the expected 
forerunner of the Messiah ; others, again, that he 
was the prophet whose advent Moses had predicted; 
upon which Jesus asked them, " But whom say ye 
that I am ? " Simon Peter answered and said, 
" Thou art the Christ." Jesus praised Peter's dis- 
cernment and admitted that he was the Messiah, 
but forbade his disciples from divulging the truth, 
or, for the present, from speaking about it at all. 
Such was the mysteriously-veiled birth of Chris- 
tianity. When, a few days later, the most trusted 
of his disciples, Simon Peter and the two sons of 
Zebedee, James and John, timidly suggested that 
Elijah must precede the Messiah, Jesus declared 
that Elijah had already appeared, though unrecog- 
nized, in the person of the Baptist. Had Jesus 
from the very commencement of his career nour- 
ished these thoughts in the depths of his soul, or 
had they first taken shape when the many followers 
he had gained seemed to make their realization 
possible ? Jesus never publicly called himself the 
Messiah, but made use of other expressions which 
were doubtless current among the Essenes. He 
spoke of himself as "the son of man," alluding 


probably to Daniel vii. 13, " One like the son of 
man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to 
the Ancient of Days," a verse which referred prob- 
ably to the whole people and its Messianic future, 
but which at that time was made to point to the 
Messiah himself. There was yet one other name 
which Jesus applied to himself in his Messianic 
character the mysterious words " Son of God," 
probably taken from the seventh verse of the sec- 
ond Psalm, " The Lord hath said unto me, Thou 
art my son ; this day have I begotten thee." Was 
this expression used by Jesus figuratively, or did 
he wish it to be taken in a literal sense ? As far as 
we know, he never explained himself clearly on 
that subject, not even at a later date, when it was 
on account of the meaning attached to those words 
that he was undergoing his trial. His followers 
afterwards disagreed among themselves upon that 
matter, and the various ways in which they inter- 
preted that ambiguous expression divided them into 
different sects, among which a new form of idolatry 
unfolded itself. 

When Jesus made himself known as the Messiah 
to his disciples, enjoining secrecy, he consoled them 
for the present silence imposed on them by the 
assurance that a time would come, when " What I 
tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light, and what 
ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house- 
tops." What occurred was doubtless contrary to 
what Jesus and his disciples expected, for as soon 
as it was known (the disciples having probably not 
kept the secret) that Jesus of Nazareth not only 
came to preach the Kingdom of Heaven, but was 
proclaimed as the expected Messiah, the public 
sentiment rose against him. Proofs and signs of 
his being the Messiah were asked, which he was 
not able to give, and he thus was forced to evade 
the questions addressed to him. Many of his fol- 
lowers seem to have been repelled by his assump- 


tion of the Messianic character, and so left him at 
once. " From that time many of his disciples went 
back, and walked no more with him" (John vi. 66). 
In order not to be discredited in the eyes of his dis- 
ciples, it was essential that he should perform some 
miracle that would crown his work or seal it \vith his 
death. It was expected that he would now appear 
in Jerusalem before the whole nation in the character 
of the Messiah, and it is stated that his own brothers 
entreated of him to go there, so that his achieve- 
ments might at last become visible to his disciples. 
" For there is no man that doeth anything in secret 
and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou 
do these things, show thyself to the world" (John 
vii. 4). Jesus thus found himself almost obliged to 
enter upon the path of danger. He was, moreover, 
no longer safe in Galilee, and appears to have been 
tracked and pursued from place to place by the 
servants of the Tetrarch Herod Antipas. It was at 
that time that Jesus said to one of his followers who 
clung to him in his distress, " The foxes have holes 
and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of 
Man hath not where to lay his head" (Matthew 
viii. 20). He wished to prevent any misconception 
as to his desire to alter the Law, and his reply to 
the Pharisee who asked what would be required of 
him if he became his disciple was, " If thou wilt enter 
into life, keep the commandments, sell what thou 
hast and give to the poor." When he had passed 
Jericho and was approaching Jerusalem, Jesus took up 
his abode near the walls of the capital, in the village 
of Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, where the lepers 
who were obliged to avoid the city had their settle- 
ment. It \vas in the house of one of these that 
shelter was given him. The other disciples whom 
he found at Bethany belonged also to the lower 
orders. They were Lazarus and his sisters, Mary 
and Martha. Only one resident of wealth and posi- 
tion in Jerusalem, Joseph of Arimathea, is said to 
have become a disciple of Jesus. 


The entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and his 
appearance in the Temple have been glorified by a 
halo of legends which contain but little historical 
truth. They show us Jesus accompanied in triumph 
by the people singing hosannas, the same people 
who a few days later were to demand his death. 
Both reports were inventions : the first was designed 
to prove that he was recognized as the Messiah by 
the people ; the second, to throw the guilt of his 
execution upon all Israel. Equally unhistorical is 
the account of Jesus entering the Temple by force, 
throwing down the tables of the money-changers, 
and chasing away those who were selling doves. 
An act that must have given rise to intense excite- 
ment would not have been omitted from other 
chronicles of that period. It is not mentioned in 
any other writings of that time that the stalls of 
money-changers and dealers in doves had a place 
in the Temple. 

It is just the most important facts of the life of 
Jesus the account of the attitude he assumed at 
Jerusalem before the people, the Synhedrion and the 
different sects, the announcement of himself as the 
Messiah, and the manner in which that announce- 
ment was received that are represented in such 
various ways in the chronicles that it is impossible 
to separate the historical kernel from its legendary 
exaggerations and embellishments. Prejudice cer- 
tainly existed against him in the capital. The 
educated classes could not imagine the Messiah's 
saving work to be performed by an unlearned 
Galilsean ; indeed, the idea that the Messiah, who 
was expected to come from Bethlehem, out of the 
branch of David, should belong to Galilee, overthrew 
the long-cherished conviction of centuries. It is 
probably from this time that the proverb arose : 
" Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ? ' 
(John i. 46). The devout took offense at his going 
about eating and drinking with sinners, publicans, 


and women of a degraded class. Even the Essenes, 


John's disciples, were displeased at his infringement 
of rules and customs. The Shammaites were scan- 
dalized at his healing the sick on the Sabbath day, 
and could not recognize the Messiah in one who 
desecrated the Sabbath. He also roused the oppo- 
sition of the Pharisees by the disapproval he 
expressed here and there of their interpretations of 
the laws, and of the conclusions they drew from 
them. From Jesus the zealots could not look for 
deeds of heroism, for, instead of inspiring his followers 
with hatred of Rome, he advocated peace, and in 
his contempt for mammon admonished them to sub- 
mit willingly to the Roman tax-gatherers. "Render 
therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, 
and unto God the things which are God's " (Matt, 
xxii. 2 1). These startling peculiarities, which seemed 
to contradict the preconceived idea of the Messianic 
character, caused the higher and the learned classes 
to be coldly indifferent to him, and it is certain that he 
met with no friendly reception in Jerusalem. These 
various objections, however, to the mode of life and 
the tenets of Jesus afforded no ground for any legal 
accusation against him. Freedom of speech had, 
owing to the frequent debates in the schools of 
Shammai and Hillel, become so firmly established a 
right that no one could be attacked for expressing 
religious opinions, unless indeed he controverted 
any received dogma or rejected the conception of 
the Divinity peculiar to Judaism. It was just in this 
particular that Jesus laid himself open to accusation. 
The report had spread that he had called himself 
the Son of God words which, if taken literally, 
wounded the religious feelings of the Judaean nation 
too deeply to allow him who had uttered them to 
pass unscathed. But how was it possible to ascer- 
tain the truth, to learn whether Jesus had really 
called himself the Son of God, and to know what 
meaning he attached to these words ? How was it 


possible to discover what was the secret of his sect ? 
To bring that to light it was necessary to seek a 
traitor among his immediate followers, and that 
traitor was found in Judas Iscariot, who, as it is 
related, incited by avarice, delivered up to the judges 
the man whom he had before honored as the Mes- 
siah. One Judsean account, derived from what 
appears a trustworthy source, seems to place in the 
true light the use made of this traitor. In order to 
be able to arraign Jesus either as a false prophet or 
a seducer of the people, the Law demanded that 
two witnesses had heard him utter the dangerous 
language of which he was accused, and Judas 
was consequently required to induce him to speak 
whilst two hidden witnesses might hear and report 
his words. According to the Christian writings, the 
treachery of Judas manifested itself in pointing out 
Jesus through the kiss of homage that he gave his 
master as he was standing among his disciples, sur- 
rounded by the people and the soldiers. No sooner 
had Jesus been seized by the latter than his disciples 
left him and sought safety in flight, Simon Peter 
alone following him at some distance. At dawn of 


day on the izj-th of Nissan, the Feast of the Passover, 
that is to say, on the eve of the Feast of Unleavened 
Bread, Jesus was led, not before the great Synhe- 
drion, but before the smaller court of justice, com- 
posed of twenty-three members, over which the 
High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas, presided. The trial 
was to determine whether Jesus had really claimed 
to be, as the two witnesses testified, the Son of God ; 
for one cannot believe that he was arraigned before 
that tribunal because he had boasted that it was in 
his power to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in 
three days. Such a declaration, if really uttered by 
him, could not have been made a cause of complaint. 
The accusation doubtless pointed to the sin of blas- 
phemy, and to the supposed affirmation of Jesus 
that he was the Son of God. Upon the question 


being put to him on that score, Jesus was silent and 
gave no answer. When the presiding judge, how- 
ever, asked him again if he were the Son of God, he 
is said to have replied, " Thou hast said it," and to 
have added, "hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man 
sitting on the right hand of power and coming 
in the clouds of Heaven." If these words were 
really spoken by Jesus, the judges could infer that 
he looked upon himself as the Son of God. The 
High Priest rent his garments at the impious asser- 
tion, and the court declared him guilty of blasphemy. 
From the account of the proceedings given by Chris- 
tian authorities, there is no proof that, according to 
the existing penal laws, the judges had pronounced 
an unjust verdict. All appearances were against 
Jesus. The Synheclrion received the sanction of the 
death-warrant, or rather the permission to execute 
it, from the governor, Pontius Pilate, who was just 
then present for the festival at Jerusalem. 

Pilate, before whom Jesus was brought, entering 
into the political side of the question, asked him if 
he declared himself to be not only the Messiah but 
the King of the Judaeans, and as Jesus answered 
evasively, "Thou hast said it," he likewise decreed 
his execution, which he indeed alone had the power 
to enforce. That Pilate on the contrary found 
Jesus innocent and wished to save him, while 
the Judaeans had determined upon putting him 
to death, is unhistorical and merely legendary. 
When Jesus was scoffed at and obliged to wear the 
crown of thorns in ironical allusion to the Messianic 
and royal dignity he had assumed, it was not the 
Jud.rans who inflicted those indignities upon him, 
but the Roman soldiers, who sought through him to 
deride the Judaean nation. Among the Judaeans 
who had condemned him there was, on the contrary, 
so little of personal hatred that he was treated 
exactly like any other criminal, and was given the 
cup of wine and frankincense to render him insen- 


sible to the pains of death. That Jesus was scourged 
before his execution proves that he was treated 
according- to the Roman penal laws ; for by the 
Judaean code no one sentenced to death could 
suffer flagellation. It was consequently the Roman 
lictors who maliciously scourged with fagots or ropes 
the self-styled King of the Judaeans. They also 
caused Jesus (by the order of Pilate) to be nailed to 
the cross, and to suffer the shameful death awarded 
by the law of Rome. For after the verdict of death 
was pronounced by the Roman authorities, the con- 
demned prisoner belonged no more to his own 
nation, but to the Roman state. It was not the 
Synhedrion but Pilate that gave the order for the 
execution of one who was regarded as a State crimi- 
nal and a cause of disturbance and agitation. The 
Christian authorities state that Jesus was nailed on 
the cross at nine o'clock in the morning, and that he 
expired at three o'clock in the afternoon. His last 
words were taken from a psalm, and spoken in the 
Aramaic tongue " God, my God, why hast Thou 
forsaken me ? " (Eli, eli, lama shebaktani.) The 
Roman soldiers placed in mockery the following 
inscription upon the cross : " Jesus of Nazareth, 
King of the Judaeans." The cross had been erected 
and the body was probably buried outside the town, 
on a spot which was the graveyard of condemned 
criminals. It was called Golgotha, the place of skulls. 
Such was the end of the man who had devoted him- 
self to the improvement of the most neglected, mis- 
erable, and abandoned members of his people, and 
who, perhaps, fell a victim to a misunderstanding. 
How great was the woe caused by that one execu- 
tion ! How many deaths and sufferings of every 
description has it not caused among the children of 
Israel ! Millions of broken hearts and tragic fates 
have not yet atoned for his death. He is the only 
mortal of whom one can say without exaggeration 
that his death was more effective than his life. Gol- 


gotha, the place of skulls, became to the civilized 
world a new Sinai. Strange, that events fraught 
with so vast an import should have created so little 
stir at the time of their occurrence at Jerusalem, 
that the Judoean historians, Justus of Tiberias and 
Josephus, who relate, to the very smallest minutiae, 
everything which took place under Pilate, do not 
mention the life and death of Jesus. 

When the disciples of Jesus had somewhat recov- 
ered from the panic which came upon them at the 
time he was seized and executed, they re-assembled 
to mourn together over the death of their beloved 


Master. The followers of Jesus then in Jerusalem 
did not amount to more than one hundred and 
twenty, and if all who believed in him in Galilee had 
been numbered, they would not have exceeded five 
hundred. Still, the effect that Jesus produced upon 
the unenlightened masses must have been very 
powerful ; for their faith in him, far from fading away 
like a dream, became more and more intense, their 
adoration of Jesus rising to the highest pitch of 
enthusiasm. The only stumbling-block to their belief 
lay in the fact that the Messiah who came to deliver 
Israel and bring to light the glory of the kingdom of 
heaven, endured a shameful death. How could the 
Messiah be subject to pain ? A suffering Messiah 
staggered them considerably, and this stumbling- 
block had to be overcome before a perfect and joyful 
belief could be reposed in him. It was at that 
moment probably that some writer relieved his own 
perplexities and quelled their doubts by referring to 
a prophecy in Isaiah, that " He will be taken from the 
land of the living, and will be wounded for the sins 
of his people." The humble, wavering disciples of 
Jesus were helped over their greatest difficulty by 
the Pharisees, who were in the habit of explaining 
the new or the marvelous by interpretations of Scrip- 
ture. By this means they afforded indirectly a solu- 
tion and support to Christianity, and thus belief was 


given to the most senseless and absurd doctrines, 
and the incredible was made to appear certain and 
necessary. Without some support, however feeble, 
from Holy Writ, nothing new would have been 
received or could have kept its ground. By its 
help everything that happened was shown to have 
been inevitable. Even that Jesus should have been 
executed as a malefactor appeared pregnant with 
meaning, as it fulfilled the literal prophecy concern- 
ing the Messiah. Was it not written that he should 
be judged among the evil-doers? His disciples 
declared they had heard Jesus say that he would be 
persecuted even unto death. Thus his sufferings 
and death were evident proofs that he was the Mes- 
siah. His followers examined his life, and found in 
every trivial circumstance a deeper Messianic signifi- 
cance ; even the fact that he was not born in Beth- 
lehem, but in Nazareth, appeared to be the fulfillment 
of a prophecy. Thus he might therefore be called a 
Nazarene (Nazarite ?), and thus were his followers 
persuaded that Jesus, the Nazarene, was Christ (the 
Messiah). When the faithful were satisfied on that 
point, it was not difficult to answer the other ques- 
tion which naturally offered itself When would the 
promised kingdom of heaven appear, since he who 
was to have brought it had died on the cross ? Hope 
replied that the Messiah would return in all his 
glory, with the angels of heaven, and then every one 
would be rewarded according to his deeds. They 
believed that some then alive would not taste death 
until they had seen the Son of Man enter his king- 
dom. His disciples were hourly expecting the 
return of Jesus, and only differed from the Judaeans 
in so far as they thought that the Messiah had already 
appeared in human form and character. 

This kingdom was to last a thousand years : the 
Sabbath year of jubilee, after the six thousand years 
of the world, would be founded by Jesus when he 
returned to the earth, bringing the blessing of peace 


and perfect happiness to the faithful. This belief 
required the further conviction that Jesus had not 
fallen a prey to death, but that he would rise again. 
It may have been the biblical story of Jonah's 
entombment for three days in the bowels of a fish 
which gave rise to the legend that Jesus after the 
same interval came forth from his sepulcher, which 
was found to be empty. Many of his disciples 
declared they had seen him after his death, now in 
one place, now in another ; that they had spoken to 
him, had marked his wounds, and had even partaken 
of fish and honey with him. Nothing seemed to 
stagger their faith in the Messianic character of 
Jesus ; but greatly as they venerated and glorified 
him, they had not yet raised him above humanity ; in 
spite of the enthusiasm with which he inspired them, 
they could not look upon him as God. They regarded 
him only as a highly gifted man who, having obeyed 
the Law more completely than any other human 
being, had been found worthy to be the Messiah of 
the Lord. 

They deviated in no degree from the precepts of 
Judaism, observing the Sabbath, the rite of circum- 
cision, and the dietary laws, whilst they also rever- 
enced Jerusalem and the Temple as holy places. 
They were, however, distinguished from the other 
Judaeans in some peculiarities besides the belief they 
cherished that the Messiah had already appeared. 
The poverty which they willingly embraced in 
accordance with the teaching of Jesus was a remark- 
able trait in them. From this self-imposed poverty 
they were called Ebionites (poor), a name they 
either gave themselves or received from those who 
had not joined them. They lived together, and each 
new disciple was required to sell his goods and 
chattels and to pour the produce into the common 

To this class belonged the early Christians, 
or Judsean Christians, who were called Nazarenes, 


and not, according- to their origin, Essenes. Seven 
administrators were appointed, as was usual among 
the Judaeans, to manage the expenditure of the com- 
munity, and to provide for their common repasts. 
They abstained from meat, and followed the way of 
the Essenes, whom they also resembled in their 
practice of celibacy, in their disuse of oil and super- 
fluous garments, a single one of white linen being 
all each possessed. It is related of James, the 
brother of Jesus, who, on account of his near rela- 
tionship to the founder, was chosen leader of the 
early Christian community, and was revered as an 
example, that he drank no wine or intoxicating 
beverages, that he never ate meat, allowed no scis- 
sors to touch his hair, wore no woolen material, and 
had only one linen garment. He lived strictly 
according to the Law, and was indignant when the 
Christians allowed themselves to transgress it. Next 
to him at the head of the community of Ebionites 
stood Simon Kephas or Petrus, the son of Jonas, and 
John the son of Zebedee, who became the pillars of 
Christianity. Simon Peter was the most energetic 
of all the disciples of Jesus, and was zealous in his 
endeavors to enroll new followers under the banner 
of Christianity. In spite of the energy he thus dis- 
played, he is described as being of a vacillating 
character. The Christian chronicles state that when 
Jesus was seized and imprisoned he denied him three 
times, and was called by his master " him of little 
faith." He averred, with the other disciples, that 
they had received from Jesus the mission of preach- 
ing to the lost children of the house of Israel the 
doctrine of the brotherhood of man and the commu- 
nity of goods ; like Jesus and John the Baptist, they 
were also to announce the approaching kingdom of 
heaven. Christianity, only just born, went instantly 
forth upon her career of conquest and proselytism. 
The disciples asserted that Jesus had imparted to 
them the power of healing the sick, of awakening 


the dead, and of casting out evil spirits. With them 
the practice of exorcism became common, and thus 
the belief in the power of Satan and demons, brought 
from Galilee, first took form and root. In Judaism 
itself the belief in demons was of a harmless nature, 
without any religious significance. Christianity first 
raised it to be an article of faith, to which hecatombs 
of human beings were sacrificed. The early Chris- 
tians used, or rather misused, the name of Jesus for 
purposes of incantation. All those who believed in 
Jesus boasted that it was given to them to drive 
away evil spirits, to charm snakes, to cure the sick 
by the laying on of their hands, and to partake of 
deadly poisons without injury to themselves. Exor- 
cism became by degrees a constant practice among 
Christians ; the reception of a new member was 
preceded by exorcism, as though the novice had till 
then been possessed by the devil. It was, there- 
fore, not surprising that the Christians should have 
been looked upon by Judaeans and heathens as con- 
jurors and magicians. In the first century, however, 
Christians attracted but little attention in Jud:ean 
circles, escaping observation on account of the 
humble class to which they belonged. They formed 
a sect of their own, and were classed with the 
Essenes, to whom, in many points, they bore so 
great a resemblance. They might probably have 
dwindled away altogether had it not been for one 
who appeared later in their midst, who gave pub- 
licity to the sect, and raised it to such a pinnacle of 
fame that it became a ruling power in the world. 

An evil star seems to have shone over the 
Judaean people during the hundred years which 
had elapsed since the civil wars under the last 
Hasmonceans, which had subjected Judaea to Rome. 
Every new event appeared to bring with it some 
new misfortune. The comforting proverb of Eccle- 
siastes, that there is nothing new under the sun, 
in this instance proved false. The Messianic vision 


which had indistinctly floated in the minds of the 
people, but which had now taken a tangible form, 
was certainly something new ; and this novel appa- 
rition, with its mask of death, was to inflict new 
and painful wounds upon the nation. 

Christianity, which came from Nazareth, was 
really an offshoot of the sect of the Essenes, and 
inherited the aversion of that sect for the Phari- 
saic laws by which the life of the people was 
regulated. This aversion rose to hatred in the 
followers, stimulated by grief at the death of their 
founder. Pontius Pilate had greatly contributed to 
increasing of the enmity of the Christians against 
their own flesh and blood. He it was who added 
mockery and scorn to the punishment of death ; he 
had bound their Messiah to the cross like the most 
abject slave, and in derision of his assumed royalty 
had placed the crown of thorns on his head. The 
picture of Jesus nailed to the cross, crowned with 
thorns, the blood streaming from his wounds, was 
ever present to his followers, filling their hearts 
with bitter thoughts of revenue. Instead of turn- 

*j fj 

ing their wrath against cruel Rome, they made the 
representatives of the Judsean people, and by de- 
grees the whole nation, responsible for inhuman 
deeds. They either intentionally deceived them- 
selves, or in time really forgot that Pilate was the 
murderer of their master, and placed the crime 
upon the heads of all the children of Israel. 

At about this period the anger of Pilate was 
kindled against a Samaritan self-styled Messiah 
or prophet, who called his believers together in a 
village, promising to show them on Mount Gerizim 
the holy vessels used in the time of Moses. The 
Governor, who looked with suspicion upon every 
gathering of the people, and regarded every exciting 
incident as fraught with possible rebellion against 
the Roman Empire, led his troops against the 
Samaritans, and ordered the ringleaders, who had 


been caught in their flight, to be cruelly executed. 
Judaeans and Samaritans jointly denounced his 
barbarity to Vitellius, the Governor of Syria, and 
Pilate was summoned to Rome to justify himself. 
The degree of favor shown to the Judseans by 
Tiberius after the fall of Sejanus, explains the other- 
wise surprising leniency evinced towards the Judsean 
nation at that time. The Judaeans had found an 
advocate at court in Antonia, the sister-in-law of 
Tiberius. The latter, who was the friend of a 
patriotic prince of the house of Herod, had revealed 
to Tiberius the plot framed against him by Sejanus, 
and in grateful recognition Tiberius repealed the act 
of outlawry against the Judceans. Vitellius, the 
Governor of Syria, was graciously inclined towards 
the Judaeans, and not only inquired into their com- 
plaints, but befriended them in every way, showing 
a degree -of indulgence and forbearance most 
unusual in a Roman, in those subjects on which they 
were peculiarly sensitive. When, on the occasion 
of the Feast of Passover, Vitellius repaired to Jeru- 
salem in order to make himself acquainted with all 
that was going on there, he sought to lighten as 
much as possible the Roman yoke. He remitted 
the tax on the fruits of the market, and as the capital 
was mainly dependent upon that market for its 
requirements, a heavy burden was thus removed 
from the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He further with- 
drew the pontifical robes from behind the lock and 
bolts of the fort of Antonia, and gave them ov^er to 
the care of the College of Priests, who kept them for 
some time. The right of appointing the High Priest 
was considered too important to the interests of 
Rome to be relinquished, and Vitellius himself made 
use of it to install Jonathan, the son of Anan, in the 
place of Joseph Caiaphas. Caiaphas had acted in con- 
cert with Pilate during all the time he had governed, 
and from his good understanding with the latter had 
doubtless become distasteful to the Judaean nation. 


The favor granted to the Judasans by Vitellius was 
in accordance with the wishes of the Emperor, who 
commanded him to aid the nation with all the avail- 
able Roman forces in an unjust cause that of Herod 
Antipas against King Aretas. Antipas, who was 
married to the daughter of Aretas, king of the 
Nabathaeans, had nevertheless fallen in love with 
Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod, who, 
disinherited by his father Herod I., led a private life, 
probably in Caesarea. During a journey to Rome, 
Antipas became acquainted with Herodias, who, 
doubtless repining at her obscure position, aban- 
doned her husband, and after the birth of a daughter 
contracted an illegal marriage with his brother. 
Antipas' first wife, justly exasperated at his shame- 
less infidelity, had fled to her father Aretas, and 
urged him to make war upon her faithless husband. 
Antipas suffered a great defeat, which was no sooner 
made known to the Emperor than he gave Vitellius 
orders instantly to undertake his defense against the 
king of the Nabathaeans. As Vitellius was about to 
conduct two legions from Ptolemais through Judaea, 
the people took offense at the pictures of the 
Emperor which the soldiers bore on their standards, 
and which were to have been carried to Jerusalem, 
but out of regard to the scruples of the Judaeans, 
Vitellius, instead of leading his army through Judaea, 
conveyed it along the farther side of the Jordan. 
Vitellius himself was received with the greatest 
favor in Jerusalem, and offered sacrifices in the 
Temple. Of all the Roman governors he was 
the one who had shown most kindness to the 



Character of Agrippa Envy of the Alexandrian Greeks towards the 
liukivins AnU-Judaean Literature Apion Measures against 
the Judceans in Alexandria Flaccus Judrcan Embassy to Rome 
philo Caligula's Decision against the Jiuhran Embassy - 
Caligula orders his Statue to be placed in the Temple The 
Death of Caligula relieves the Judceans Agrippa's Advance 
under Claudius His Reign Gamaliel the Elder and his Ad- 
ministration Death of Agrippa Herod II The False Messiah, 
Theudas Death of Herod II. 

3749 C. E. 

AFTER the murder of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, 
when the Senate indulged for the moment in the 
sweet dream of regaining its liberty, Rome could 
have had no forebodings that an enemy was born to 
her in Jerusalem, in the half-fledged Christian com- 
munity, which would in time to come displace her 
authority, trample upon her gods, shatter her power, 
and bring about a gradual decadence, ending in 
complete decay. An idea, conceived and brought 
forth by one of Jiuhran birth and developed by a 
despised class of society, was to tread the power 
and glory of Rome in the dust. The third Roman 
Kmperor, Caius Caligula Germanicus, was himself 
instrumental in delivering up to national contempt 
the Roman deities, in a sense the corner-stone of 
the Roman Empire. The throne of the Caesars 
had been alternately in the power of men actuated 
by cruel cowardice and strange frenzy. None ot the 
nations tributary to Rome suffered more deeply 
from this continual change in her masters than did 
the Juda-ans. Every change in the great offices 
of state affected Judaea, at times favorably, but more 
often unfavorably. The first years of Caligula's 
reign appeared to be auspicious for Judaea. Caligula 



specially distinguished one of the Judcean princes, 
Agrippa, with marks of his favor, thus holding out 
the prospect of a milder rule. But it was soon evi- 
dent that this kindness, this good-will and favor, 
were but momentary caprices, to be followed by 
others of a far different and of a terrible character, 
which threw the Juda^ans of the Roman Empire into 
a state of fear and terror. 

Agrippa (born 10 H. c. E., died 44 C.E.) was the son 
of the prince Aristobulus who had been assassin- 
ated by Herod, and grandson of the Hasmonaan 
princess Mariamne ; thin in his veins ran the blood 
of the Hasmona^ans and Iduma^ans, and these two 
hostile elements appeared to fight for the mastery 
over his actions, until at last the nobler was victor- 
ious. Educated in Rome, in the companionship of 
Drusus, the son of Tiberius, the Herodian element 
in Agrippa was the first to develop. As a Roman 
courtier, intent upon purchasing Roman favor, he 
dissipated his fortune and fell into debt. Forced 
to quit Rome for Judaea, after the death of his friend 
Drusus, he was reduced to such distress that he, who 
was accustomed to live with the Caesars, had to hide 
in a remote part of Iduma^a. It was then that he 
contemplated suicide. But his high-spirited wife, 
Cypros, who was resolved to save him from despair, 
appealed to his sister Herodias, Princess of Galilee, 
for instant help. And it was through the influence 
of Antipas, the husband of this princess, that 
Agrippa was appointed overseer of the markets 
of Tiberias. Impatient of this dependent condi- 
tion, he suddenly resigned this office and became 
courtier to Elaccus, governor of Syria. From this 
very doubtful position he was driven by the jealousy 
of his own brother Aristobulus. Seemingly aban- 
doned by all his friends, Agrippa determined 
upon once more trying his fortune in Rome. The 
richest and most distinguished Judasans of the Alex- 
andrian- community, the Alabarch, Alexander Lysi- 


machus, with whom he had taken refuge, provided 
him with the necessary means for his journey. This 
noblest Judaean of his age, guardian of the property 
of the young Antonia, the daughter of the triumvir, 
had evidently rendered such services to the imperial 
family that he had been adopted into it, and was 
allowed to add their names to his own -Tiberius 
Julius Alexander, son of Lysimachus. He possessed, 
without doubt, the fine Greek culture of his age, for his 
brother Philo was a man of the most exquisite taste in 
Greek letters. But none the less did the Alabarch 
Alexander cling warmly to his people and to his 
Temple. Resolved to save Agrippa from ruin, but 
distrustful of his extravagant character, he insisted 


that his wife Cypros should become hostage for 

A new life of adventure now commenced in Rome 
for Agrippa. He was met on the Isle of Capri by 
the Emperor Tiberius, who, in remembrance of 
Agrippa's close connection with the son he had lost, 
received him most kindly. But upon hearing of the 
enormous sum of money that Agrippa still owed to 
the Roman treasury, Tiberius allowed him to fall 
into disgrace. He was saved, however, by his 
patroness Antonia, the sister-in-law of the emperor, 
who maintained a friendly remembrance of Agrippa's 
mother Berenice. By her mediation he was raised 
to new honors, and became the trusted friend of the 
heir to the throne, Caius Caligula. But, as though 
Agrippa were destined to be the toy of every 
caprice of fortune, he was soon torn from his inter- 
course with the future emperor and thrown into 
prison. In order to flatter Caligula, Agrippa once 
expressed the wish, "Would that Tiberius would 
soon expire and leave his throne to one worthier of 
it." This was repeated by a slave to the emperor, 
and Agrippa expiated his heedlessnessby an impris- 
onment of six months, from which the death of 
Tiberius at last set him free (37). 


With the accession to the throne of his friend and 
patron, Caligula, his star rose upon the horizon. 
When the young emperor opened the prison-door 
to Agrippa he presented him with a golden chain, 
in exchange for the iron one that he had been forced 
to wear on his account, and placed the royal diadem 
upon his head, giving him the principality of Philip, 
that had fallen to the Empire of Rome. By decree 
of the Roman Senate he also received the title of 
Praetor. So devoted was Caligula to Agrippa that, 
during the first year of his reign, the Roman 
emperor would not hear of his quitting Rome, and 
when at length Agrippa was permitted to take pos- 
session of his own kingdom, he had to give his sol- 
emn promise that he would soon return to his 
imperial friend. 

When Agrippa made his entry into Judaea as mon- 
arch and favorite of the Roman emperor, poor and 
deeply in debt though he had been when he left it, his 
wonderful change of fortune excited the envy of his 
sister Herodias. Stung by ambition, she implored 
of her husband also to repair to Rome and to obtain 
from the generous young emperor at least another 
kingdom. Once more the painful want of family 
affection, common to all the Herodians, was brought 
to light in all its baseness. Alarmed that Antipas 
might succeed in winning Caligula's favor, or indig- 
nant at the envious feelings betrayed by his sister, 
Agrippa accused Antipas before the emperor 
of treachery to the Roman Empire. The unfort- 
unate Antipas was instantly deprived of his princi- 
pality and banished to Lyons, whither he was 
followed by his faithful and true-hearted wife. 
Herod's last son, Herod Antipas, and his grand- 
daughter, Herodias, died in exile. Agrippa, by 
imperial favor, became the heir of his brother-in-law, 
and the provinces of Galilee and Persea were added 
to his other possessions. 

The favor evinced by Caligula towards Agrippa, 


which might naturally be extended to the Judaean 
people, awakened the envy of the heathens, and 
brought the hatred of the Alexandian Greeks to a 
crisis. Indeed, the whole of the Roman Empire 
harbored secret and public enemies of the Judaeans. 
Hatred of their race and of their creed was intensi- 
fied by a lurking fear that this despised yet proud 
nation might one day attain to supreme power. But 
the hostile feeling against the Judaeans reached its 
climax amongst the restless, sarcastic and pleasure- 
loving Greek inhabitants of Alexandria. They 
looked unfavorably upon the industry and prosperity 
of their Judaean neighbors, by whom they were sur- 
passed in both these respects, and whom they did 
not excel even in artistic and philosophical attain- 
ments. These feelings of hatred dated from the 
time when the Egyptian queen entrusted Judaean 
generals with the management of the foreign affairs 
of her country, and they increased in intensity when 
the Roman emperors placed more confidence in the 
reliable Judaeans than in the frivolous Greeks. 
Slanderous writers nourished this hatred, and in 
their endeavors to throw contempt upon the Judaeans 
they falsified the history of which the Judaeans were 
justly proud. 

The Stoic philosopher Posidonius circulated false 
legends about the origin and the nature of the 
divine worship of the Judaeans, which legends had 
been originally invented by the courtiers of Anti- 
ochus Epiphanes. The disgraceful story of the 
worship of an ass in the Temple of Jerusalem, be- 
sides other tales as untrue and absurd, added to the 
assertion that the Judaeans hated all Gentiles, found 
ready belief in a younger, contemporary writer, 
Apollonius Malo, with whom Posidonius had be- 
come acquainted in the island of Rhodes, and by 
whom they were widely circulated. Malo gave a 
new account of the history of the Judaean exodus, 
which he declared was occasioned by some enormity 

CH. VII. STRABO. 1 79 

on the part of the Judaeans ; he described Moses as 
a criminal, and the Mosaic Law as containing the 
most abominable precepts. He declared that the 
Judaeans were atheists, that they hated mankind in 
general ; he accused them of alternate acts of 
cowardice and temerity, and maintained that they 
were the most uncultured people amongst the bar- 
barians, and could not lay claim to the invention of 
any one thing which had benefited humanity. It 
was from these two Rhodian authors that the spite- 
ful and venom-tongued Cicero culled his unworthy 
attack upon the Judaean race and the Judaean Law. 
In this respect he differed from Julius Caesar, who, 
in spite of his associations with Posidonius and Malo, 
was entirely free from all prejudice against the 

The Alexandrian Greeks devoured these calum- 
nies with avidity, exaggerated them, and gave them 
still wider circulation. Only three Greek authors 
mentioned the Judaeans favorably r- Alexander Poly- 
histor, Nicolaus of Damascus, the confidant of 
Herod, and, lastly, Strabo, the most remarkable 
geographer of ancient times, who devoted a fine 
passage in his geographical and historical work 
to Judaism, Although he mentions the Judaeans 
as having originated from Egypt, he does not 
repeat the legend that their expulsion was occa- 
sioned by some fault of their own. Far otherwise 
he explains the Exodus, affirming that the Egyptian 
mode of life, with its unworthy idolatry, had driven 
Moses and his followers from the shores of the Nile. 
He writes in praise of the Mosaic teaching relative 
to the unity of God, as opposed to the Egyptian 
plurality of deities, and of the spiritual, imageless 
worship of the Judaeans in contrast to the animal 
worship of the Egyptians, and to the investing of 
the divinity with a human form among the Greeks. 
" How can any sensible man," he exclaims, " dare 
make an image of the Heavenly King ? " Widely 


opposed to the calumniators of Judaism, Strabo 
teaches that the Mosaic Law was the great mainstay 
of righteousness, for it holds out the divine blessing 
to all those whose lives are pure. For some time 
after the death of their great lawgiver, Strabo main- 
tains that the Judaeans acted in conformity with the 
Law, doing right and fearing God. Of the sanctuary 
in Jerusalem he speaks with veneration, for, although 
the Judaean kings were often faithless to the Law of 
Moses and to their subjects, yet the capital of the 
Judseans was invested with its own dignity, and the 
people, far from looking upon it as the seat of 
despotism, revered and honored it as the Temple of 

One author exceeded all the other hostile writers 
in the outrageous nature of his calumnies ; this was 
the Egyptian Apion, who was filled with burning 
envy at the prosperous condition of the Judaeans. 
He gave a new and exaggerated account of all the 
old stories of his,, predecessors, and gained the ear 
of the credulous multitude by the readiness and 
fluency of his pen. Apion was one of those 
charlatans whose conduct is based on the as- 
sumption that the world wishes to be deceived, 
and therefore it shall be deceived. As expounder 
of the Homeric sonQfs, he traveled through Greece 

and Asia Minor, and invented legends so flattering 
to the early Greeks that he became the hero of their 
descendants. He declared that he had witnessed 
most things of which he wrote, or that he had been 
instructed in them by the most reliable people ; and 
even affirmed that Homer's shade had appeared to 
him, and had divulged which Grecian town had given 
birth to the oldest of Greek bards, but that he dared 
not publish that secret. On account of his intense 
vanity he was called the trumpet of his own fame, 
for he assured the Alexandrians that they were for- 
tunate in being able to claim him as a citizen. It is 
not astonishing that so unscrupulous a man should 


have made use of the hatred they bore to the 
Judaeans to do the latter all the injury in his power. 

But the hostility of the Alexandrians, based on 
envy and religious and racial antipathy, was sup- 
pressed under the reign of Augustus and Tiberius, 
when the imperial governors of Egypt sternly repri- 
manded all those who might have become disturbers 
of the peace. Affairs changed, however, when Calig- 
ula came to the throne, for the Alexandrians were 
then aware that the governor Flaccus, who had been 
a friend of Tiberius, was unfavorably looked upon by 
his successor, who was ready to lend a willing ear 
to any accusation against him. Flaccus, afraid of 
drawing the attention of the revengeful emperor 
upon himself, was cowed into submission by the 
Alexandrians, and became a mere tool in their 
hands. At the news of Agrippa's accession to the 
throne, they were filled with burning envy, and the 
delight of the Alexandrian Judaeans, with whom 
Agrippa came into contact through the Alabarch 
Alexander, only incensed them still more and 
roused them to action. 

Two most abject beings were the originators and 
leaders of this anti-Judaean demonstration ; a venal 
clerk of the court of justice, Isidorus, who was called 
by the popular wits, the Pen of Blood, because his 
pettifoggery had robbed many of their life, and 
Lampo, one of those unprincipled profligates that 
are brought forth by a burning climate and an im- 
moral city. These two agitators ruled, on the one 
hand, the weak and helpless governor, and, on .the 
other, they led the dregs of the people, who were 
prepared to give vent to their feelings of hatred to- 
wards the Judaeans upon a sign from their leaders. 

Unfortunately, Agrippa, whose change of fortune 
had been an offense in the eyes of the Alexandrians, 
touched at their capital upon his return from Rome 
to Judaea (July, 38), and his presence roused the 
enemies of the Judaeans to fresh conspiracies. 


These began with a farce, but ended for the Judaeans 
in terrible earnest. At first Agrippa and his race 
were insultingly jeered at. A harmless fool, Cara- 
bas, was tricked out in a crown of papyrus and a 
cloak of plaited rushes ; a whip was given him for 
a scepter, and he was placed on an eminence for a 
throne, where he was saluted by all passers-by as 
Marin (which, in the Chaldaic tongue, denotes "our 
master"). This was followed by the excitable mob's 
rushing at the dawn of the next day into the syna- 
gogues, carrying with them busts of the emperor, 
with the pretext of dedicating these places of wor- 
ship to Caligula. In addition to this, at the impor- 
tunate instance of the conspirators, the governor, 
Flaccus, was induced to withdraw from the Judaean 
inhabitants of Alexandria what they had held so 
gratefully from the first emperors the right of 
citizenship. This was a terrible blow to the Ju- 
daeans of Alexandria, proud as they were of their 
privileges, and justly entitled to the credit of 
having enriched this metropolis by their learning, 
their wealth, their love of art and their spirit of 
commerce equally with the Greeks. They were 
cruelly driven out of the principal parts of the city 
of Alexandria, and were forced to congregate in 
the Delta, or harbor of the town. The mob, greedy 
for spoil, dashed into the deserted houses and work- 
shops, and plundered, destroyed and annihilated 
what had been gathered together by the industry 
of centuries. 

After committing these acts of depredation, the 
infuriated Alexandrians surrounded the Delta, under 
the idea that the unfortunate Judaeans would be 
driven to open resistance by the pangs of hunger 
or by the suffocating heat they were enduring in 
their close confinement. When at last the scarcity 
of provisions impelled some of the besieged to 
venture out of their miserable quarters, they were 
cruelly ill-treated by the enemy, tortured, and either 


burnt alive or crucified. This state of things lasted 
for a month. The governor went so far as to 
arrest thirty-eight members of the Great Council, 
to throw them into prison and publicly to scourge 
them. Even the female sex was not spared. If 
any maidens or women crossed the enemy's path 
they were offered pig's flesh as food, and upon their 
refusing to eat it they were cruelly tortured. Not 
satisfied with all these barbarities, Flaccus ordered 
his soldiers to search the houses of the Judaeans for 
any weapons that might be concealed there, and 
they were told to leave not even the chambers of 
modest maidens unsearched. This reign of terror 
continued until the middle of September. At that 
time an imperial envoy appeared to depose Flaccus 
and to summon him to Rome, not on account of 
his abominable conduct towards the Judaeans, but 
because he was hated by the emperor. His sen- 
tence was exile and he was eventually killed. 

The emperor alone could have settled the vexed 
question as to whether the Judaeans had the right 
of equal citizenship with the Greeks in Alexandria ; 
but he was then in Germany or in Gaul celebrating 
childish triumphs, or in Britain gathering shells on 
the seashore. When he returned to Rome (August, 
40) with the absurd idea of allowing himself to be 
worshiped as a god, and of raising temples and 
statues to his own honor, the heathen Greeks justly 
imagined that their cause against the Judaeans was 
won. They restored the imperial statues in the 
Alexandrian synagogues, convinced that in the face 
of so great a sacrilege the Judseans would rebel and 
thereby arouse the emperor's wrath. This was 
actually the cause of a fresh disturbance, for the 
new governor of Alexandria took part against the 
Judaeans, courting in this way the imperial favor. 
He insisted that the unhappy people should show 
divine honors to the images of the emperor, and 
when they refused on the ground that such an act 


was contrary to their Law, he forbade their observ- 
ance of the Sabbath day. In the following words 
he addressed the most distinguished of their race : 
"How would it be if you were suddenly over- 
whelmed by a host of enemies, or by a tremendous 
inundation, or by a raging fire ; if famine, pestilence 
or an earthquake were to overtake you upon the 
Sabbath day? Would you sit idly in your syna- 
gogues, reading the Law and expounding difficult 
passages ? Would you not rather think of the 
safety of parents and children, of your property 
and possessions, would you not fight for your lives ? 
Now behold, if you do not obey my commands, I 
will be all that to you, the invasion of the enemy, 
the terrible inundation, the raging fire, famine, pes- 
tilence, earthquake, the visible embodiment of 
relentless fate." But neither the rich nor the poor 
allowed themselves to be coerced by these words ; 
they remained true to their faith, and prepared to 
undergo any penalties that might be inflicted upon 
them. Some few appear to have embraced pagan- 
ism out of fear or from worldly motives. The 
Judsean philosopher, Philo, gives some account of 
the renegades of his time and his community, whom 
he designates as frivolous, immoral, and utterly 
unworthy. Amongst them may be mentioned the 
son of the Alabarch Alexander, Tiberius Julius 
Alexander, who forsook Judaism, and was conse- 
quently raised to high honors in the Roman State. 

Meanwhile, the Judaeans determined upon plead- 
ing their cause before the emperor. Three men 
(who were specially adapted for their mission) were 
selected to be sent as envoys to Rome. One of 
these, the Judaean philosopher, Philo, was so far 
distinguished through birth, social standing, pro- 
found culture, and brilliant eloquence, that no better 
pleader for the cause of justice could have been 
found. Through the medium of his powerful writ- 
ings Philo has so largely influenced not only his 

CH. VII. PHILO. 185 

contemporaries but also those who came after him, 
both within and without the Judaean community, 
that the scanty accounts of his life must not be 
passed over. As brother of the Alabarch Alex- 
ander, Philo belonged to the most distinguished 
and wealthy family of the Alexandrian community. 
He received in his youth the usual education 
which all well-born parents held as necessary for 
their sons. Possessed of unquenchable love for 
learning, he obtained complete mastery over his 
studies. His taste for metaphysical research was 
developed at a very early age, and he devoted him- 
self to it untiringly for a time, taking delight in that 
alone. He affirms enthusiastically that he had no 
desire for honors, wealth, or material pleasures, so 
long as he could revel in ethereal realms, in company 
with the heavenly bodies. He belonged to the few 
elect who do not creep on the earth's surface, but 
who free themselves from all earthly bondage in 
the sublime flight of thought. He rejoiced in being 
exempt from cares and occupations. But though 
he gloried in philosophy, Judaism, which he 
termed the " true wisdom," was still dearer to his 
heart. When he gathered the beautiful blossoms 
of Grecian learning, it was to twine them into a 
garland with which to adorn Judaism. Philo had 
been leading the retired life of a student for some 
time, when, as he bitterly remarked, an event drew 
him unmercifully into the whirlpool of political 
troubles : the miserable condition of his people 
had probably disturbed his contemplative life. In 
later years he looked back with longing upon his 
former occupation, and lamented that practical 
life had obscured his vision for intellectual things, 
and had materially interfered with his range of 
thought ; but he consoled himself with the know- 
ledge that in undisturbed hours he was still able to 
lift his mind to noble objects. Philo's philosophical 
researches not only furnished food for his intellect, 


but helped to inspire him with true nobility of 
character, developing in him a nature that regarded 
all acts of human folly, vulgarity, and vice as so 
many enigmas which he could not solve. 

His wife, who was justly proud of him, emulated 
him in the simplicity of her life. When asked by 
some of her brilliantly attired friends why she, who 
was so rich, should disdain to wear gold ornaments, 
she is said to have answered, "The virtue of the 
husband is adornment enough for the wife." Philo's 
contemporaries were never weary of praising his 
style ; so forcibly indeed did it remind them of 
Plato's beautiful diction that they would observe, 
"Plato writes like Philo, or Philo like Plato." 
Philo's principal aim was to harmonize the spirit 
of Judaism with that of the philosophy of the age, 
or, more rightly speaking, to show that Judaism is 
the truest philosophy. And this was not merely 
to be an intellectual exercise, but to him it was a 
sacred mission. He was so completely absorbed in 
these ideas that, as he relates of himself, he often 
fell into trances, when he fancied that revelations 
were vouchsafed to him which he could not have 
grasped at ordinary times. 

This was the man who was to present himself 
before the emperor, as the representative of the 
Alexandrian Judsean community. The heathen 
Alexandrians also sent a deputation, headed by 
Apion, to which also belonged the venom-tongued 
Isidorus. Not only were the envoys concerned 
with the privileges of the community they repre- 
sented, but they were pledged to raise their voices 
against the cruel persecution of their race. For 
the first time in history were Judaism and Paganism 
confronted in the lists, each of them being repre- 
sented by men of Greek culture and learning. Had 
the two forms of faith and civilization been judged by 
their exponents, the decision for Judaism would not 
have been doubtful. Philo, dignified and earnest, 


seemed in himself to embody faithful search after 
truth, and the purest moral idealism ; whilst Apion, 
frivolous and sarcastic, was the very incarnation 
of smooth-tongued vainglory, and bore the stamp 
of the vanity and self-conceit of fallen Greece. 
But the outcome of this contest remains doubt- 
ful. Caligula was too passionate a partisan to 
be a just umpire. He hated the Judaeans because 
they would not recognize and worship him as their 
deity, and his hatred was fanned by two contemp- 
tible creatures, whom he had dragged from the 
mire and had attached to himself the Egyptian 
Helicon and Apelles of Ascalon. 

The Judaean envoys were hardly permitted to 
speak when they were admitted to the imperial 
presence, and Caligula's first word was one of 
jarring reproof: "So you are the despisers of God, 
who will not recognize me as the deity, but who 
prefer worshiping a nameless one, whilst all my 
other subjects have accepted me as their god." 
The Judaean envoys declared that they had offered 
up three successive offerings in honor of Caligula : 
the first upon his accession to the throne ; the 
second upon his recovery 'from a severe illness ; 
and the third after his so-called victory over the 
Teutons. " That may be," answered Caligula, " but 
the offerings were made for me and not to me; for 
such I do not care. And how is it," he continued, 
awakening the ribald merriment of his pagan audi- 
ence, " how is it that you do not eat pig's flesh, and 
upon what grounds do you hold your right of 
equality with the Alexandrians ? " Without waiting 
for a reply, he turned his attention to something 
else. Later on when he dismissed the Judaean 
envoys, he remarked that they seemed less wicked 
than stupid in not being willing to acknowledge his 

Whilst the unfortunate ambassadors were vainly 
seeking to gain ground with the emperor, they were 


suddenly overwhelmed with tidings that struck terror 
into their hearts. One of their own race burst into 
their presence, exclaiming, amidst uncontrollable 
sobs, that the Temple in the holy city had been 
profaned by Caligula. For not only were the im- 
perial statues to be erected in the synagogues, but 
also in the Temple of Jerusalem. The governor 
of Syria, Petronius, had received orders to enter 
Judaea with his legions and to turn the Sanctuary 
into a pagan temple. It is easy to conceive the 
mortal anguish of the Judaean nation when these 
orders became known to them. On the eve of the 
Feast of Tabernacles a messenger appeared in 
Jerusalem, who converted this feast of rejoicing 
into mourning. Petronius and his legions were 
at Accho, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but, as 
the rainy season was at hand, and as obstinate 
resistance was expected, the Roman commander 
resolved to await the spring before commencing 
active operations. Thousands of Judaeans hastened 
to appear before Petronius, declaring that they 
would rather suffer the penalty of death than allow 
their Temple to be desecrated. Petronius, per- 
plexed as to how he should carry out this mad 
scheme of Caligula's, consulted the members of the 
Royal Council, entreating of them to influence the 
people in his favor. But the Judcean aristocracy, 
and even Agrippa's own brother Aristobulus, held 
with the people. Petronius then sent a true state- 
ment of the case to the emperor, hoping that he 
might be induced to abandon his scheme. Mean- 
while he pacified the people by telling them that 
nothing could be effected until fresh edicts arrived 
from Rome, and begged of them to return to their 
agricultural duties, and thus to avert the possibility 
of a year of famine. 

But before Petronius' letter was in the hands of 
the emperor, Caligula's intentions had been frus- 
trated by Agrippa. The Judaean king had acquired 


so extraordinary an influence over Caligula that the 
Romans called him and Antiochus of Commagene, 
his teachers in tyranny. Agrippa, who was living 
at that time near the person of the emperor, could 
not have been indifferent to the desecration of the 
Temple, but he was too accomplished a courtier 
openly to oppose this imperial caprice. On the 
contrary, he seemed dead to the cry of anguish 
that arose from his people, and only occupied in 
preparing, with the most lavish expenditure, a mag- 
nificent feast for the emperor and his favorites. 
But under this garb of indifference he was really 
working for his people's cause. Caligula, flattered 
by the attentions that were lavished upon him, bade 
Agrippa demand a boon, which should be instantly 
granted. His astonishment was indeed boundless 
when the Judsean monarch begged for the repeal 
of the imperial edict concerning images. He 
had little thought that his refined courtier would 
prove so unselfish a man, so pious, and so thor- 
oughly independent of the will of the emperor. 
Cunning as he was, Caligula was helplessly en- 
trapped, for he could not retract his pledged 
word. Thus he was forced to write to Petronius 
annulling" his former decree. Meanwhile he received 


Petronius' letter, in which the governor detailed 
what difficulties he would encounter, were he to 
attempt to execute the orders of his master. More 
than this was not required to lash Caligula's pas- 
sionate and excitable nature into a fury. A new 
and stringent order was given to proceed with the 
introduction of the statues into the Temple of Jeru- 
salem. But before this order, terrible to the 
Judseans and full of danger to Petronius himself, 
had arrived in Jerusalem, it was announced that 
the insane Caligula had met with his death at the 


hands of the Praetorian Tribune Chereas (24 Jan., 
41). These tidings came to Jerusalem on the 22d 
of Shebat (March, 41), and the day was afterwards 
celebrated as one of great rejoicing. 


Caligula's successor upon the throne of the 
Caesars was Claudius, a learned pedant and a fool. 
He owed his crown to chance, and to the diplo- 
macy of King Agrippa, who had induced the re- 
luctant Senate to accept the choice of the Prae- 
torians. Rome must indeed have fallen low when 
a somewhat insignificant Judaean prince was allowed 
to speak in the Senate House, and, in some 
measure, to have influence in the choice of her 
ruler. Claudius was not ungrateful to his ally ; he 
lauded him before the assembled Senate, raised him 
to the dignity of consul, and made him king of all 
Palestine, for Judaea and Samaria were incorporated 
with the monarchy. 

As a remembrance of these events, the emperor 
ordered an inscription to be engraved on tablets of 
bronze, in pedantic imitation of the classical age, 
and coins to be struck, bearing on one side two 
clasped hands, with these words, " Friendship and 
comradeship of King Agrippa with the Senate and 
the Roman people." On the other side was the 
emperor between two figures, and the inscription : 
" King Agrippa, friend of the emperor." The king- 
dom of Judaea had thus recovered its full extent ; 
indeed, it had acquired even a greater area than it 
possessed formerly under the Hasmonaeans and 
Herod I. 

Herod II., brother and son-in-law of King Agrippa, 
received from Claudius the rank of Praetor, and was 
made prince of Chalcis, in Lebanon. The Alex- 
andrian Judaeans greatly benefited by the new order 
of things which was brought about in the vast 
Roman Empire by the death of Caligula. The 
emperor Claudius freed the Alabarch Alexander, 
with whom he was on friendly terms, from the 
imprisonment into which his predecessor had thrown 
him, and settled the disputes of the Alexandrians 
in favor of the Judaeans, Caligula's prejudice 
against that unfortunate community had developed 


their independence, and their strength was far from 
being broken. Their rights and privileges were 
fully re-established by an edict of the new emperor, 
and they were placed on an equal footing with 
the Greek inhabitants of Egypt. The dignity of 
the Alabarch was restored by the emperor, and 
this was most important to the Judaeans, for it 
assured them of the leadership of one of their own 
race, and made them independent of the Roman 
officials. It was during this reign that Philo gave 
the wealth of his learning to a wide circle of readers, 
and was instrumental in bringing Judaean-Greek 
culture to its zenith. Claudius extended his good- 
will to the Judaeans of the entire Roman Empire, 
granting them complete religious freedom, and pro- 
tecting them from the interference of the pagans. 

When Agrippa, laden with honors, left Rome 
for Judasa to take possession of his kingdom, 
his subjects remarked that some great change 
was manifest in him, and that the stirring revolu- 
tion in Rome, by which a headstrong emperor 
had been dethroned in favor of a weak one, had 
deeply impressed their own monarch. The friv- 
olous Agrippa returned an earnest-minded man ; 
the courtier had given place to the patriot ; the 
pleasure-loving prince to the conscientious mon- 
arch, who was fully aware of what he owed his 
nation. The Herodian nature had, in fact, been 
entirely subdued by the Hasmonaean. For the last 
time, Judaea enjoyed under his reign a short span of 
undisturbed happiness ; and his subjects, won by his 
generous affection, which even risked forfeiting the 
good-will of Rome in their cause, repaid him with 
untiring devotion, the bitterest enemies of his 
scepter becoming his ardent supporters. Historians 
do not weary of praising Agrippa's loving adher- 
ence to Judaism ; it seemed as if he were endeav- 
oring to rebuild what had been cast down by Herod. 
He mixed freely with the people when they carried 


the first fruits into the Temple, and bore his own 
offering of fruit or grain to the Sanctuary. He 
re-established the old law that obliged the king to 
read the book of Deuteronomy in the Court of the 
Temple at the close of each year of release. Facing 
the congregation, Agrippa performed this act for the 
first time in the autumn of the year 42, and when 
he came to the verse, " From amongst your brethren 
shall you choose a king," he burst into a passion 
of tears, for he was painfully aware of his Idumaean 
descent, and knew that he was unworthy of being 
a king of Judaea. But the assembled multitude, 
and even the Pharisees, exclaimed with enthusiasm : 
" Thou art our brother ; thou art our brother ! ' 

Agrippa's careful government made itself felt 
throughout the entire community. Without doubt 
the Synhedrion, under the presidency of Gamaliel I. 
(ha-Zaken, the elder), the worthy grandson of 
Hillel, was permitted to take the management of 
home affairs into its own hands. The presidency 
acquired greater importance under Gamaliel than 
it had enjoyed before ; for the Synhedrion, modeled 
upon the political constitution of the country, par- 
took somewhat of a monarchical character. The 
consent of the president was required for the inter- 
polation of a leap year, and all letters or mandates 
addressed to near or distant communities were 
sent in his name. The formulae of these letters, 
which have in some instances been handed down 
to us, are extremely interesting, both in contents 
and form, for they prove that all Judaean com- 
munities, as well as their representatives, acknowl- 
edged the supreme authority of the Synhedrion. 
Gamaliel would address a foreign community through 
the pen of his accomplished secretary, Jochanan, in 
these terms : " To our brethren in Upper and Lower 
Galilee, greeting : We make known to you that the 
time has arrived for the ingathering of the tithes of 
your olive yards." " To our brethren, the exiles 


in Babylon, Media, Greece (Ionia), and to all other 
exiles, greeting : We make known to you that as in 
this season the lambs are still very small, and the 
doves have not yet their full-grown wings, the 
spring being very backward this season, it pleases 
me and my colleagues to prolong the year by thirty 

Many excellent laws emanated from Gamaliel ; 
they were principally directed against the abuses 
that had crept in, or were aimed at promoting 
the welfare of the whole community. It was the 
true spirit of Hillel that pervaded the laws framed 
by Gamaliel for the intercourse between the Judaeans 
and the heathens. The heathen poor were permitted 
to glean the fields in the wake of the reapers, and 
were treated exactly like the Judsean poor, and the 
pagans were given the peace greetings upon their 
own festivals when they were following their own 
rites. The poor in all towns of mixed population 
received equal treatment ; they were helped in time 
of distress, their sick were nursed, their dead were 
honorably treated, their sorrowing ones were com- 
forted, whether they were pagans or Judaeans. In 
these ordinances, so full of kindly feeling towards 
the heathen, the influence of Agrippa is plainly 
visible. Rome and Judaea had for the moment laid 
aside their mutual antipathy, and their intercourse 
was characterized by love and forbearance. The 
generosity of the emperor towards the Judaeans 
went so far that he severely punished some thought- 
less Greek youths in the town of Dora for attempting 
to introduce his statues into the synagogues. The 
governor Petronius was ordered to be strict in the 
prevention of such desecration. 

Agrippa had inherited from his grandfather 
Herod the wish to be popular among the Greeks. 
As Herod had sent presents to Athens and other 
Greek and Ionian towns, so his grandson conferred 
a great benefit upon the degenerate city, once 


motner of the arts, a benefit which her citizens did 
not easily forget. He also showered favors upon 
the inhabitants of Caesarea, the city that Herod had 
raised as a rival of Jerusalem, and upon the Greeks 
of the seaboard Sebaste, who lived in their own 
special quarter. These recipients of his benefits 
exerted themselves to give proofs of their gratitude. 
The people of Sebaste raised statues to his three 
daughters, and struck coins in his honor, bearing 
the inscription " To the great king Agrippa, friend 
of the emperor." The last years of this monarch's 
reign were happy for his nation, both within and 
without the kingdom of Judaea. They were like the 
rosy flush in the evening sky that precedes, not the 
dawn of day, but the blackness of night. In some 
respects they call to mind the reign of King Josiah 
in the earlier history of the nation, when the king- 
dom enjoyed tranquillity at home and independence 
abroad, with no dearth of intellectual activity. 

Philo visited Jerusalem during Agrippa's reign, 
and was able to take part in the people's joy at 
the revocation of Caligula's edicts. Never before 
had the first fruits been carried into the Temple 
with greater solemnity or with more heartfelt 
rejoicing. To the bright strains of musical instru- 
ments the people streamed into the Sanctuary with 
their offerings, where they were received by the 
most distinguished of their race. A psalm was 
then chanted, which described how the worshipers 
had passed from sorrow into gladness. 

It was at this time that a great queen, followed 
by her numerous retinue, arrived in Jerusalem, she 
having renounced paganism for Judaism, thus filling 
to the brim the cup of gladness of the once per- 
secuted but now honored race. 

The happy era of Agrippa's reign was, how- 
ever, not to be of long duration. Although he had 
gained the complete confidence of the emperor, 
the "Roman dignitaries looked upon him with sus- 


picion, and beheld in each step made by the Judaean 
king some traces of disaffection ; and they were not 
far wrong. For, however much Agrippa might 
coquet with Rome, he was yet determined to make 
Judaea capable of resisting that great power, should 
an encounter, which he deemed inevitable, occur 
between the two. His people should not be 
dependent upon the caprice of one individual. 
Thus he resolved to strengthen Jerusalem. He 
chose for this purpose the suburb of Bezetha, to 
the northeast of the city, and there he ordered 
powerful fortifications to be built. They were to 
constitute a defense for the fortress of Antonia, 
which lay between Bezetha and Jerusalem. He 
applied to Rome for the necessary permission, 
which was readily granted by Claudius, who could 
deny him nothing, and the Roman favorites who 
would have opposed him were silenced by gifts. 
The fortifications were commenced, but their com- 
pletion was interrupted by the governor of Syria, 
Vibius Marsus. He saw through Agrippa's scheme, 
plainly told the emperor of the dangers that would 
surely menace Rome if Jerusalem could safely set 
her at defiance, and succeeded in wringing from 
Claudius the revocation of his permission. Agrippa 
was forced to obey, not being in the position to 
openly offer resistance. But at heart he determined 
upon weakening the Roman sway in Judaea. To 
attain these ends, he allied himself secretly with 
those princes with whom he was connected by 
marriage or on terms of friendly relationship, and 
invited them to a conference at Tiberias, under the 
pretext of meeting for general amusement and 
relaxation. There came at his call to the Galilean 
capital Antiochus, king of Commagene, whose son 
Epiphanes was affianced to Agrippa's youngest 
daughter ; Samsigeranus, king of Emesa, whose 
daughter Jatape was married to Agrippa's brother 
Aristobulus ; then Cotys, king of Armenia Minor, 


Polemon, prince of Cilicia, and lastly, Herod, 
Agrippa's brother, prince of Chalcis. All these 
princes owed their positions to Agrippa, and were 
therefore liable to lose them at the accession of 
the next emperor or at the instigation of some 
influential person at the court of Claudius. But 
Marsus, suspicious of this understanding between 
so many rulers, and distrustful of the cause that 
brought them together, suddenly presented himself 
in their midst, and, with the ancient Roman blunt- 
ness, bade them return each man to his own city. 
So tremendous was the power of Rome, that at one 
word from an underling of the emperor the meeting 
was annulled. But the energy and perseverance 
of Agrippa would probably have spared Judaea from 
any possible humiliation, and assured her future 
safety, had his life been prolonged ; he met, how- 
ever, with an unexpected death at the age of 
fifty-four. Judaea's star sank with that monarch, 
who died, like Josiah, the last great king of the pre- 
exilian age, a quarter of a century before the de- 
struction of his State. 

It soon became evident that the Greek inhabit- 
ants of Palestine had but dissembled their true 
feelings in regard to King Agrippa. Forgetful of 
that monarch's benefits, the Syrians and Greeks of 
the city of Caesarea, and of the seaboard of Sebaste, 
solaced themselves by heaping abuse upon his 
memory, and by offering up thank-offerings to 
Charon for his death. The Roman soldiery quar- 
tered in those towns made common cause with the 
Greeks, and carried the statues of Agrippa's daugh- 
ters into brothels. 

Claudius was not indifferent to the insults offered 
to his dead friend's memory. He was, on the con- 
trary, anxious to raise Agrippa's son, Agrippa II., 
to the throne of Judaea. But in this he was opposed 
by his two all-powerful favorites, Pallas and Nar- 
cissus, on the plea of the prince's youth (he was 


seventeen years of age), and Judaea was thus allowed 
to sink once more into a Roman province. 

However, out of affection and respect to the dead 
king, the emperor gave the Judaean governor Cus- 
pius Fadus a somewhat independent position in 
regard to the Syrian governor Vibius Marsus, who 
had always been hostile to Agrippa and the Ju- 
daeans. It was his soldiery who had insulted the 
memory of the Judaean monarch, and for this 
cowardly action they were to be punished and 
exiled to Pontus. They managed, however, to 
extort a pardon from the emperor, and remained 
in Judaea, a circumstance which contributed not a 
little to excite the bitterest feelings of the national 
party, which they fully returned. They could ill 
control their hatred of the Judaeans, stinging the 
latter into retaliation. Companies of freebooters 
under daring leaders prepared, as after the death 
of Herod, to free their country from the yoke of 
Rome. But Fadus was prepared for this rising. 
It was his desire to strengthen the Roman rule in 
Judaea, and to give it the same importance that it 
had had before the reign of Agrippa ; and to this 
end he attempted to keep the selection of the high 
priest and the sacred robes in his own hands. But 
in this he met resistance both in the person of the 
high priest and at the hands of Agrippa's brother, 
Herod II. 

Jerusalem was so greatly excited by these pro- 
ceedings that not only did the governor Fadus 
appear within the city, but he was accompanied by 
Caius Cassius Longinus at the head of his troops. 
Herod and his brother Aristobulus be^o-ed for a 


truce of hostilities, as they were anxious to send 
envoys to Rome. This they were allowed to do, 
only on the condition that they surrendered them- 
selves as hostages for the preservation of peace. 
Having willingly complied, an embassy, consisting 
of four men Cornelius, Tryphon, Dorotheus, and 


John started for Rome. When they arrived in 
that city they were introduced to the emperor by 
the young Agrippa. Claudius, still faithful to his 
old affection for the Herodians, granted the Ju- 
daeans full right to follow their own laws, and 
gave Herod permission to choose the high priest 
of the Sanctuary. Taking instant advantage of this 
permission, Herod raised Joseph, of the house of 
Camith, to the high priesthood in the place of 
Elionai, his brother's choice. To a certain extent 
Herod II. may be regarded as king of Judaea, but 
he exerted no influence upon the course of political 
events. All legal power was vested in the hands 
of the governor ; the Synhedrion lost, under the 
sway of his successor, the power which it had re- 
gained under Agrippa. 

Fadus was confronted with a rising of another 
nature during his governorship. A certain Theudas 
appeared as prophet or messiah, and was followed 
by four hundred disciples, for the messianic redemp- 
tion was quickly growing into a necessity for the 
nation. To give proof of his power he declared 
that he would divide the waters of the Jordan, and 
would lead his followers safe across the bed of the 
river. But when his band of disciples approached 
the riverside, carrying with them much of their 
worldly possessions, they were confronted by a 
troop of Fadus's cavalry soldiers, who slew some, 
made others prisoners, and decapitated their leader. 

Shortly after these events Fadus was recalled 
from Jerusalem, and his place was taken by Tiberius 
Julius Alexander, son of the Alabarch Alexander, 
nephew of the Judsean philosopher Philo. Tiberius, 
who had espoused paganism, bore already the 
dignity of a Roman knight. The Emperor believed 
doubtless that in naming a Judsean of a distinguished 
house as governor over the land, he was giving 
proof of his friendliness to the nation. He did not 
imagine that their sensitive natures would be vio- 


lently opposed to the fact of being governed by a 
renegade. The people seem indeed to have been 
most uncomfortable under the rule of Tiberius ; the 
zealots lifted up their heads and excited an insur- 
rection. They were led by Jacob and Simon and 
the sons of the zealot Judah, but no details of this 
revolt are extant. To judge by the severity of the 
sentence passed upon the ringleaders by the gov- 
ernor, it must have been of a grave character, for 
the two brothers suffered crucifixion, the most de- 
grading form of capital punishment amongst- the 
Romans. Tiberius Alexander remained only two 
years at his post. He was afterwards named gov- 
ernor of Egypt, and exercised considerable influence 
in the choice of the emperor. 

Herod II., king of Chalcis, titular king of Judaea, 
died at this time (48), and with him the third gene- 
ration of Herodians sank into the grave. 



Distribution of the Judaeans in the Roman Empire and in Parthia 
Relations of the various Judaean Colonies to the Synhedrion- 
Judsean Bandits in Naarda Heathen Attacks upon Judaism - 
Counter Attacks upon Heathenism by Judaean Writers The 
Judaaan Sibyls The Anti-heathen Literature The Book of 
Wisdom The Allegorists Philo's Aims and Philosophical 
System Proselytes The Royal House of Adiabene The 
Proselyte Queen Helen The Apostle Paul His Character- 
Change in his Attitude towards the Pharisees His Activity as 
a Conversionist His Treatment of the Law of Moses The 
Doctrines of Peter Judaic-Christians and Heathen-Christians. 

4049 C. E. 

ROUND the very cradle of the Judaean race there had 
rung prophetic strains, telling of endless wanderings 
and dispersions. No other people had ever heard 
such alarming predictions, and they were being ful- 
filled in all their literal horror. There was hardly 
a corner in the two great predominant kingdoms of 
that time, the Roman and the Parthian, in which 
Judaeans were not living, and where they had not 
formed themselves into a religious community. The 
shores of the great midland sea, and the outlets of 
all the principal rivers of the old world, of the Nile, 
the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Danube, were 
peopled with Judaeans. A cruel destiny seemed to 
be ever thrusting them away from their central home. 
Yet this dispersion was the work of Providence and 
was to prove a blessing. The continuance of the 
Judaean race was thus assured. Down-trodden and 
persecuted in one country, they fled to another, 
where the old faith, which became ever dearer to 
them, found a new home. Seeds were scattered 
here and there, destined to carry far and wide the 
knowledge of God and the teachings of pure 



morality. Just as the Greek colonies kindled in 
various nations the love of art and culture, and 
the Roman settlements gave rise in many lands 
to communities governed by law, so had the far 
wider dispersion of the oldest civilized people con- 
tributed to overthrow the errors and combat the 
sensual vices of the heathen world. In spite of being 
thus scattered, the members of the Judaean people 
were not completely divided from one another ; 
they had a common center of union in the Temple 
of Jerusalem and in the Synhedrion which met in 
the hall of hewn stone, and to these the dispersed 
communities clung with loving hearts. Towards 
them their looks were ever fondly directed, and by 
sending their gifts to the Temple they continued to 
participate, at least by their contributions, in the 
sacrificial worship. From the Synhedrion they re- 
ceived their code of laws, which they followed the 
more willingly as it was not forced upon them. The 
Synhedrion, from time to time, sent deputations to 
the different communities, both far and near, to 
acquaint them with the most important decisions. 

The visits paid to the Temple by the Judseans 
who lived out of Palestine, strengthened the bond of 
unity, and these visits must have been of frequent 
occurrence, for they necessitated the creation of 
many places of worship in Jerusalem where the vari- 
ous foreign Judoeans met for prayer. The capital 
contained synagogues of the Alexandrians, Cyre- 
nians, Libertines, Elymseans, and Asiatics. One can 
form some idea of the vast numbers of Juclaeans exist- 
ing at that period if one considers that Egypt alone, 
from the Mediterranean to the Ethiopian boundary, 
contained nearly a million. In the neighboring 
country of Cyrenaica, there were likewise many 
Judseans, some having been forcibly transplanted 
thither from Egypt, whilst others were voluntary 
emigrants. In many parts of Syria, and especially 
in its capital, Antioch, the Judaeans formed a con- 


siderable portion of the population. The kings of 
Syria who succeeded Antiochus Epiphanes had 
reinstated them in all their rights, of which the half- 
insane Epiphanes had robbed them. One of these 
kings had even given them some of the utensils 
taken from the Temple, and these were preserved 
in their synagogue. About ten thousand Judaeans 
lived at Damascus, and one of their nobles was 
made ethnarch over them by the Nabathaean king, 
Aretas Philodemus, just as in Alexandria one of 
their most distinguished members was elected chief 
of the community. To the great capital of the 
world, Rome, the point of attraction for the ambi- 
tious and the grasping, the discontented and the 
visionaries, the Judaeans returned in such masses 
after their expulsion by Tiberius, that when the 
Emperor Claudius determined, from some un- 
known cause, upon expelling them again, he was 
only deterred, by fear of their great numbers, 
from endeavoring to carry out his intention. Mean- 
while he forbade their religious meetings. Towards 
the end of his reign, however, on account of some 
disturbances occasioned by a certain Christian 
apostle, Chrestus, they were probably, but only in 
part, banished from Rome. 

Even greater than in Europe, Syria and Africa 
was the number of Judaeans in the Parthian Empire. 
They were the descendants of former exiles, who 
owned large tracts of country in Mesopotamia and 
Babylonia. Two youths from Naarda (Nahardea 
on the Euphrates) called Asinai (Chasinai) and 
Anilai (Chanilai) founded in the vicinity of that town 
a robber settlement, which spread terror along the 
bordering countries. Just as Naarda and Nisibis 
became the central points for the countries of the 
Euphrates, there arose in every land a central 
nucleus from which Judaean colonies spread them- 
selves out into neighboring lands, from Asia Minor 
on the one side, towards the Black Sea on the other, 


towards Greece and the Islands. Athens, Corinth, 
Thessalonica, and Philippi contained Judaean com- 
munities. There is no doubt that from Rome 
Judaean colonies went forth westward to the south 
of France and Spain. 

The effect produced by the Judseans upon the 
heathens was at first repellent. Their peculiar 
mode of living, their dress and their religious views, 
caused them to be considered as strange, enigmat- 
ical, mysterious beings, who at one moment inspired 
awe, and at another derision and contempt. So 
thorough was the opposition between the Judseans 
and the heathens that it manifested itself in all their 
actions. Everything that was holy in the eyes of 
the heathens was looked upon with horror by the 
Judaeans, whilst objects of indifference to the former 
were considered sacred by the latter. The with- 
drawal of the Judaeans from the repasts enjoyed in 
common by their fellow-citizens, their repugnance to 
intermarriages with the heathens, their abhorrence 
of the flesh of swine, and their abstinence from warm 
food on the Sabbath, were considered as the outcome 
of a perverse nature, whilst their keeping aloof from 
intimate intercourse with any but their own co- 
religionists was deemed a proof of their enmity 
towards mankind in general. The serious nature 
of the Judseans, which prevented their participation 
in childish amusements and mimic combats, appeared 
to those around them the sign of a gloomy dispo- 
sition, which could find no pleasure in the bright and 
the beautiful. Superficial persons, therefore, re- 
garded Judaism only as a barbarous superstition, 
which instilled hatred towards the generality of men, 
whilst the more thoughtful and discerning were 
filled with admiration by the pure and spiritual 
worship of one God, by the affection and sympathy 
which bound the Judaeans together, and by the vir- 
tues of chastity, temperance and fortitude which 
characterized them. 


Paganism, with the immoral life which sprang 
from it, stood revealed in all its nakedness to the 
keen sight of the Judaeans. The dreary idolatry of 
the heathen, with its fabulous mythology which made 
divine nature even lower than the human, the mad- 
ness which allowed wicked emperors to be worshiped 
as gods, the sensuality which had prevailed since 
the fall of Greece and the closer connection of the 
Romans with demoralized nations, the daily spec- 
tacle of evil lives and broken marriage vows, the bac- 
chanalian intoxication of superstition, unbelief, and 
bestialities, fostered the pride of the Judaeans in their 
own spiritual and intellectual possessions, and urged 
them to make the superiority of Judaism over heath- 
enism manifest. In places where the Grecian lan- 
guage facilitated exchange of thought, as in Egypt, 
Asia Minor and Greece, there was considerable 
mental friction between the Judaeans and the heath- 
ens. Judaism, as it were, summoned paganism to 
appear before the tribunal of truth, and there placed 
its own sublime faith beside the low, degrading forms 
of belief of its adversary. 

The Judaeans were deeply anxious to impart the 
burning convictions that filled their hearts to the 


blind, deluded heathens, and to attain that object, 
their religion being hated by the latter, some of the 
most cultivated among the Judaeans had recourse 
to a sort of pious fraud, by which heathen poets and 
soothsayers were made to bear witness to the beauty 
and grandeur of Judaism. Skilful imitations in 
verse, enunciating Judaean doctrines, were placed 
by Judaean-Grecian writers in the mouth of the mist- 
shrouded singer Orpheus, and introduced among 
the strains of Sophocles, the tragic poet who had 
celebrated the all-powerful gods. When Rome had 
extended her empire far and wide, and the legends 
of the prophetic Sibyls had become known through 
many lands, Judaean poets hastened to make the 
latter stand sponsors to tenets and views which 


they durst not proclaim themselves, or which, if 
given in their own name, would have obtained no 
hearing 1 . In an oracular form the Sibyl was made 
to reveal the deep meaning of Judaism, to stir the 
hearts of the people by pictures of the awful result 
of infidelity to God, and to offer to nations engaged 
in bloody conflict the olive branch of peaceful amity, 
opening out to them bright prospects of the happier 
times, predicted by the Seers, to those who believed 
in the eternal God of Judaism ; and the Sibyl spoke 
in prophetic strains of the glorious future, when all 
the nations of the earth would rejoice in the bless- 
ings of the Messianic kingdom. 

"Unhappy Greece, cease proudly to exalt thyself; offer prayers 
for help to the immortal and lofty One, and take heed of thy ways. 
Serve the mighty God, so that thou also mayest find thy portion 
among the good when the end will have come and the day of judg- 
ment, according to the will of God, will rise up before man. Then 
will the teeming earth give abundantly to mortals the fairest fruits of 
the vine and the olive and choicest nourishing seeds. Also sweet 
honey dropping from heaven, and trees with their fruit, and fat sheep. 
Likewise oxen and lambs and the kids of the goat. For them rivers 
of milk will flow, sweet and white. The cities will be filled with 
merchandise, the earth will be rich, and there will be no more war or 
fearful sound ot fighting. Nor will the earth, loud groaning, quake 
and be rent. War will cease, and there will be no drought upon the 
lands, no more famine or fruit-destroying hail. But great peace will 
reign over all the world, and to the end of time each king will be the 
other's friend, and under one law will the people of the whole world 
be governed by the Eternal God, enthroned in the starry heavens 
one law for all weak, pitiable men ; for He is one God, and there is 
no other, and the wicked He will cast into the flames." 

The aim of a long series of prose writings of 
the Judaean-Grecian school was to set forth the futil- 
ity and defects of paganism on the one hand, and 
on the other to display Judaism in its most favor- 
able light, and thus to induce the heathen to become 
acquainted with the tenets of the latter. Heathen 
kings who had been convinced that idolatry was 
empty and vain, and that by Judaism, on the con- 
trary, truth was revealed were pointed out as ex- 

" The Book of Wisdom " was even more decided 
and vigorous in its denunciations of paganism than 


the Sibylline writings. Its unknown author gave 
with philosophical acumen, but in a poetical garb, 
a truthful exposition of idolatry, showed it to be 
the cause of vice and immorality, and then, in 
marked contrast to these dark shadows, made Ju- 
daism shine with increased purity and luster. It 
was the wisdom of Judaism, embodied, as it were, 
in the wise King Solomon, that presented these 
views, and in his name, turning to the monarchs of 
the earth (the Roman governors), rebukes their 
shameless self-deification. " Love righteousness, ye 
rulers of the earth," exclaims the Wisdom of Sol- 
omon, " recognize the Lord in goodness, and seek 
Him in simplicity of heart " (Book of Wisdom, i. i). 
According to this author, the invention of idols was 
the cause of lasciviousness, and leads to the destruc- 
tion of life. Idolatry did not exist from the begin- 
ning, neither will it last forever. It arose through 
the vanity and ignorance of man, and would endure 
but a short time. A father, suddenly plunged into 
deepest grief by the death of a child, perhaps made 
for himself an image of the latter ; by degrees 
he worshiped the lifeless figure as a god, and 
insisted upon the observance by his dependants of 
mystical rites in its honor. In the course of time 
this godless practice became law, and images, by 
the order of despots, received the worship of the 
people. In the absence of the monarch, when he 
could not be personally adored by his subjects, the 
tyrant was flattered by the incense offered to his 
image. The ambition of the artist also fostered the 
growth of idolatry among the ignorant masses. To 
please the potentates of the earth he strove to make 
his images as beautiful as possible, and the public, 
dazzled by the splendor and grace of the work, 
worshiped as gods those whom they previously rev- 
erenced as men. Such beautiful productions of art 
became a snare to those whom misfortune or tyranny 
had enslaved, and induced them to deify carved 


stone and wood, and to bestow on them the uncom- 
municable name of God. Not alone do the people 
err in their religious creed, but they live in constant 
strife with one another and call it peace ; infanticide 
is celebrated as a rite, they observe dark, myste- 
rious ceremonies, and are guilty of unchastity. 
Each one plays the part of spy on the other, or 
wounds his friend in his dearest honor. All, with- 
out distinction, thirst for blood, love plunder, and 
practice cunning, perjury, deceit, ingratitude, and 
every description of impurity. For the worship of 
vain idols is the beginning, cause, and end of every 
evil thing. " For health he calleth upon that which 
is weak, for life prayeth to that which is dead, for 
aid humbly beseecheth that which hath least means 
to help" (Book of Wisdom, xiii. 18). 

After the author has thus shown the vanity of 
idolatry, he attempts to describe the fundamental 
truths of Judaism : 

" There is no God but Him whom the Jews adore. Divine wisdom 
preserved the first-born, saved the righteous (Noah) from the flood, 
upheld the righteous (Abraham) in innocence before God, delivered 
the holy seed (the Judsan people) from the oppression of the nations, 
filled the soul of the servant of God (Moses), who appeared before 
kings with terrible signs and wonders. Israel is the upright one 
whom God has chosen. He possesses the knowledge of the Divine 
Being, and may call himself the Son of God, who in His mercy 
sustains and upholds him." 

These righteous ones will have eternal life. When 
Israel is persecuted by the rulers of the earth, be- 
cause his path lies apart from theirs, and he condemns 
their godless ways, turns from them as unclean, and 
calls God his Father ; when the nations of the earth 
torture him and put him to a shameful death these 
are only trials imposed by God on His chosen one, 
to prove him and make him worthy of His grace. 
He tries him like gold in the furnace, and accepts 
him as a pure offering. Israel shall judge the 
nations, and have dominion over the people, and 
their God shall reign forever. - 


" Then will the upright one stand firmly before his oppressors. 
They will be troubled with great fear ; they will be amazed at his 
glorious salvation, and repenting they will say, 'This was he whom 
we had in derision, and of whom we made a laughing-stock. Igno- 
rantly we accounted his life madness, and his end to be without 
honor. Andnowheis numbered among the children of God and his 
lot is among the saints. We strayed from the way of truth, and the 
light of righteousness did not shine for us.' Israel was the instru- 
ment through which God gave the world the undying light of the law. 
In all things did the Lord magnify His people and glorify them ; He 
abandoned them not, but assisted them in every time and place." 
(Book of Wisdom.) 

Like the Babylonian Isaiah, the Alexandrian- 
Judaean sage contemplated his ideal in Israel, of 
whom a noble mission was required, and who would 
hereafter shine in glory. 

Whilst the Alexandrian Judaeans were absorbed 
in Grecian literature and philosophy, and were 
using that melodious language as a weapon 
against paganism and the immorality it fostered, 
they were carried beyond the object they had 
in view. Their desire was to make Judaism ac- 
ceptable to the cultivated Greeks, but in follow- 
ing out that design it was, in some degree, lost 
to themselves. Greek conceptions had so com- 
pletely taken possession of their thoughts that at 
last they came to find in the teachings of Judaism 
the current speculations of the Greeks. The faith 
that they had inherited was, however, still dear to 
them, and they managed, through sophistical means, 
to deceive themselves into a belief of the genuine- 
ness of their exposition. The Holy Scripture could 
not, indeed, always offer apposite passages to the 
prevailing philosophy, but the Judasan-Alexandrian 
authors knew how to help themselves out of that 
difficulty. They followed the example of Greek 
writers, who found their own views of the world in 
the poems of Homer, or put them there, and to 
accomplish that feat, employed a peculiar kind of 
sophistical word-pictures. Thus the Judaean think- 
ers of that period, in their interpretations of the 
Holy Scriptures, had recourse to allegory, and in- 


stead of the plain, natural meaning of a work, often 
gave it a different and seemingly higher import. 
Starting with the assumption that the Scriptures 
cannot always receive a literal explanation without 
the divine glory's being tarnished and many biblical 
characters being degraded, they resorted to the 
arts of allegory and metaphor. This method be- 
came so general that even the masses lost all 
pleasure in the simple stories of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, and took more delight in artificial explana- 
tions than in the plain lessons and sublime laws 
of their sacred books. The pious men, who were 
wont to explain the Scriptures on the Sabbath, 
were obliged, in compliance with the taste of the 
time, to allegorize both the history and the lessons 
contained in them. One result of this method 
was the indifference that manifested itself among 
the cultivated Judseans of Alexandria to the prac- 
tice of the religion of their fathers. Allegory un- 
dermined the ramparts that fenced the Law. If 
the latter was only the garment in which philo- 
sophical ideas were robed, if the Sabbath was 
merely intended to record the power of uncreated 
divinity, and the rite of circumcision was only 
meant to show the necessity of placing a curb on 
the passions, it would be sufficient to understand 
and adopt the ideas underlying those forms. Of 
what use would be the practice of the latter? 
From indifference to the practice of the laws to 
the desertion of Judaism itself there was only one 
step, and thus can be explained the apostasy to 
paganism of some Judseans who were unable to 
withstand the difficulties and constant pressure they 
had to encounter. It was also among the Alex- 
andrian Judaeans that the conflict between science 
and faith first appeared. 

The indifference towards Judaism was combated, 
indeed, by many who had not wholly given them- 
selves up to Greek culture. Philo, the greatest 


genius which Alexandrian Judaism produced, op- 
posed the lukewarm spirit and the feelings of con- 
tempt which had grown up against the practice of 
the Law. In his elevated and inspired diction 
he urged the obligation of adhering to the letter of 
the Law, and induced his co-religionists to regard it 
again with love and reverence. Philo indeed shared 
some of the errors and prejudices of his contempor- 
aries, but with his clear intelligence, he soared above 
the mists which enthroned them. He likewise made 
exaggerated use of the allegorical method employed 
by his predecessors, and agreed with them in apply- 
ing it to the entire Pentateuch, or at least to the 
greater part of its history and laws. To carry out 
this metaphorical line of scriptural interpretation he 
devised symbolic numbers, explained Hebrew by 
Greek words, and from one and the same sentence 
deduced different and opposite conclusions. To 
Philo allegorical exposition became almost a neces- 
sity. Had he not already found it in use, he would 
doubtless have invented it. 

He wished to give the sanction of Holy Writ to 
the great thoughts which were partly the produc- 
tions of his own rich mind, partly adopted from the 
philosophical schools of the Academy, the Stoics 
and the Neo-Pythagoreans. Sharing, and indeed, 
surpassing in perversity the allegorical explana- 
tions he found in vogue, he departed from them 
just in that essential point which told against the 
necessity of the practice of the Law, and in that lay 
his chief importance. He expresses himself with 
decision and force against those who, satisfied with 
the spiritual meaning contained in the Law, are 
indifferent to the Law itself. He calls them super- 
ficial and thoughtless, acting as though they lived 
in a desert, or as incorporeal beings who knew 
neither of town nor village nor dwelling, or who, in 
fact, entertained no intercourse with human beings, 
despising what is dear to mankind, and seeking 


only abstract spiritual truths. The holy word, how- 
ever, while teaching us to seek out diligently the 
deepest spiritual meaning of the Law, does not cancel 
our obligation of adhering to customs introduced 
by inspired men who were in all things infinitely 
greater than ourselves. Shall we, because we know 
the spiritual meaning of the Sabbath, neglect its 
prescribed observance ? " Shall we," he exclaims, 
"make use of fire on the Sabbath, till the ground, 
carry burdens, plead in courts of justice, enforce 
the payment of debts, and, in fact, transact all our 
usual daily business ? Shall we, because a festival 
symbolizes the peace of the soul, and is intended as 
an expression of gratitude to God, cease to observe 
the festival itself? Or shall we give up the rite of 
circumcision now that we are acquainted with its 
symbolic significance ? In that case we should like- 
wise renounce our reverence for the sanctity of the 
Temple and abandon many religious observances. 
But, on the contrary, both the inner truth contained 
in the Law, and the Law itself, should be equally 
prized the one as the soul, the other as the body. 
Just as we take care of the body, looking upon it as 
the habitation of the soul, so also should we value 
the letter of the Law. By strict observance of the 
Law we shall attain a clearer insight into its deepest 
meaning, and shall likewise escape the remarks and 
reproaches of the people." 

It is in the Hebrew Scriptures, according to Philo, 
that the most profound wisdom is contained. All 
that is taught by the sublimest philosophy the Ju- 
dseans found in their precepts and customs the 
knowledge of the eternal God, the vanity of idols, 
and the universal laws of humanity and kindness. 
" Is not the highest honor due," he exclaims, " to 
those laws which teach the rich to share their wealth 
with the needy, which console the poor by enabling 
them to look forward to the time when they will no 
longer beg at the rich man's door, but will have 


recovered their alienated property ; for, at the open 
ing of the seventh year, prosperity would return 
again to the widow and the orphan, and would 
restore to well-being those whom fortune had disin- 
herited ?" 

In opposition to the abuse hurled against Judaism 
by a Lysimachus and an Apion, Philo brings forward 
the spirit of humanity which breathes through the 
Judaean Law, and which affects even the treatment 
of animals and plants. "And yet, though Judaism is 
founded in truth on love, these miserable sycophants 
accuse it of misanthropy and egotism." In order 
to ensure a better comprehension of the Judaean 
ethics by the cynics and lawbreakers of his own 
race, as also by the Greeks, who had only a false 
conception of Judaism, Philo arranged his writings 
so that they should form a kind of philosophical 
commentary on the Pentateuch, with the further 
object that the truths of Judaism might be brought 
within the province of philosophy. 

But if, on the one hand, Philo stood firmly on Ju- 
daean ground, on the other he was no less imbued 
with the dogmas of the Grecian schools, which ran 
counter to the former, and he seems to have been 
equally swayed by the spirit of Judaism and that of 
Greece. Vainly he attempted to bring the contra- 
dictory ideas into harmony. They were so com- 
pletely opposed from their very inception that they 
could not be reconciled. To solve the difficulty 
between the conflicting views of a creating God and 
a perfect deity who does not come into contact with 
matter, Philo's system takes a middle course. God 
created first the spiritual world of ideas, which were 
not merely the archetypes of all future creations, but 
at the same time active powers which formed the 
latter. Through these spiritual powers which sur- 
round God like a train of servitors, He works indi- 
rectly in the world. Spiritual power acting, as it 
were, intermediately between God and the world is, 


according to Philo, the Logos, or creative reason, 
the divine wisdom, the spirit of God, the source of 
all strength. In Philo's more mystical than philo- 
sophical description, the Logos is the first-born son 
of God, who, standing on the border-land of the 
finite and infinite, links both together. He is neither 
uncreated like God, nor created like the things that 
are finite. The Logos is the prototype of the uni- 
verse, the delegate of God, whose behests it com- 
municates to the world, the interpreter who reveals 
His will and constantly accomplishes it, the arch- 
angel who shows forth his works, the high priest 
and intercessor between the world and God. Early 
Christianity made use of this doctrine of the Logos 
in order to assume a philosophic aspect. 

The princely philosopher of the house of the 
Alabarchs combated the Greek and Roman pagan- 
ism, steeped in vice and bestiality. His exposition 
of the Judsean Law was designed to darken still 
more, by comparison with the pure light of Judaism, 
the shadows of idolatry, the sexual looseness, frivol- 
ity, vanity and corruption which existed in the Gre- 
cian-Roman world. He tried to show how false 
were the accusations hurled against Judaism, and to 
make known the sublime grandeur and beauty of its 
tenets. His principal works were written for his 
own people and co-religionists, though he frequently 
addressed those who stood outside that circle. 
Against the few laws of humanity which the Greeks 
boasted to have possessed from ancient times, as, 
for example that of granting fuel to any one requir- 
ing it, or of showing a wayfarer the right path, Philo 
could have no difficulty in enumerating a long array 
of benevolent duties contained in Scripture or trans- 
mitted by word of mouth. At the head of unwritten 
laws he placed Hillel's golden saying, "What is 
hateful to yourself do not unto others." Judaism 
does not merely forbid any one to refuse fire or 
water, but commands that what the poor and feeble 


require shall be given to them. It prohibits the use 
of false weights and measures, the coinage of false 
money. It does not allow children to be taken 
from their parents, or wives to be separated from 
their husbands, even when they have been legally 
acquired as slaves. Even towards animals the duty 
of mercy is impressed upon man. " What, in com- 
parison to these," he cries to the Greeks, " are the 
few laws descending from primeval times, of which 
you boast so much ?" 

In the following tone of mockery Philo answered 
malicious accusations against the Lawgiver : 

" Yes, verily, Moses must have been a sorcerer, not only to have 
preserved a whole people, and supplied them abundantly whilst they 
were journeying through many nations, exposed to the danger of 
hunger and thirst, and ignorant of the way they were pursuing, but 
likewise to have made them, in spite of their mutinous spirit, which 
often broke out against himself, docile and pliant." 

Of the three great moralists who followed each 
other within a century, Hillel the Babylonian, Jesus 
of Nazareth, and Philo the Alexandrian, it was the 
last who in all things, great and small, upheld most 
strenuously the glory of Judaism. He was superior 
to them likewise in beauty of style and in depth of 
thought, whilst he was animated with equally fervent 
convictions. The first two simply created an im- 
pulse, but it was through their disciples that their 
ideas, variously transformed, were introduced into a 
larger circle ; whereas Philo, by his own eloquent 
writings, made an important and lasting effect. His 
works were perhaps read by cultivated heathens 
even more than by Jadaeans, though all were affected 
by the warmth and giow which pervaded everything 
he wrote about God, Moses, and the spirit of the 

Philo and the Alexandrian sa^es continued to 


promote the great work of the prophets Isaiah, 
Habakkuk and Jeremiah, and laid bare all the un- 
reasonableness, the instability, the perversion and 


immorality of the heathen religions. The trans- 
parent, shimmering ether with which the Greeks 
invested Olympus, these writers resolved into mists 
and vapors. Greeks and Romans, who felt deeply 
on the subject, were moved to turn with contempt 
from a religion which not only gave so unworthy 
a representation of the Divinity, but actually seemed 
to sanctify immorality by the example set before 
them in the history of their deities. Like most 
oriental people, the heathens felt the need of re- 
ligion, and those who were searching for true and 
elevated teaching embraced Judaism, which was daily 
being brought more and more home to them in the 
Greek translations of Judsean writings through 
Greek-Alexandrine literature, and also through 
intercourse with cultivated Judaeans. 

During the last ten years which preceded the 
destruction of the Judaean State, there were more 
proselytes than there had been at any other time. 
Philo relates from his own experience that in his 
native country many heathens, when they embraced 
Judaism, not only changed their faith but their 
lives, which were henceforth conspicuous by the 
practice of the virtues of moderation, gentleness 
and humanity. "Those who left the teachings in 
which they had been educated, because they were 
replete with lying inventions and vanities, became 
sincere worshipers of the truth, and gave them- 
selves up to the practice of the purest piety." Above 
all, the women, whose gentle feelings were offended 
by the impurity of the mythological stories, seemed 
attracted towards the childlike and sublime scenes 
in Biblical history. The greater part of the women 
in Damascus were converted to Judaism, and it is 
related that in Asia Minor there were also many 
female proselytes. Some over-eager Judasans may 
have traveled with the intention of making converts, 
as was proved in the story of the Roman patrician 


It was by similar zeal for conversion that the 
Judaean faith was introduced into an Asiatic court, 
the members of which remained steadfast adherents 
to Judaism during several generations. Adiabene, 
a province on the banks of the Tigris, situated where 
once lay the Assyrian kingdom, was governed by a 
royal pair, Monobaz and Helen. It was a small, but 
not unimportant state, and although it touched the 
great domains of Rome and Parthia, it had been 
able to hold its independence during some centuries. 
Monobaz had many children, the offspring both of 
Helen and of other wives, but the youngest of all, 
Izates, was the favorite of both parents. In order 
that he should not suffer from the jealousy which 
that favoritism had caused among the elder brothers, 
Monabaz sent him to the court of a neighboring king, 
of the name of Abinerglus (Abennerig), who was so 
greatly pleased with the young prince confided to 
his care, that he gave him his daughter in marriage. 
A Judaean merchant by the name of Anania traded 
at this court, and whilst he showed his merchandise 
to the princesses, he dilated at the same time upon 
the tenets of Judaism with such success that he 
converted them to his faith. Izates, whose wife, 
Samach, was one of the converts, became interested 
in Anania, discoursed with him, and became a sin- 
cere adherent of Judaism, which he openly embraced 
in the year 18 c. E. His mother, the queen Helen, 
had also, without the knowledge of her son, been won 
over to Judaism. The deep impression which the 
Judaean precepts had made upon the royal converts 
was proved when the throne became vacant. The 
dying Monobaz passed over his eldest sons and 
named Izates as his successor. When Helen related 
her husband's wishes to the nobles of Adiabene, 
they suggested that the elder brothers should be 
put to death, and thus prevent a civil war, to which 
their hatred and jealousy might not improbably give 
rise. But Helen, softened by her conversion to Juda- 


ism, would not follow this sanguinary advice, and 
only kept the brothers in confinement, with the ex- 
ception of her eldest son, Monobaz II, to whom she 
confided the regency. When Izates arrived at the 
capital of Adiabene, and had, according to his 
father's last testament, received the crown from the 
hand of Monobaz, he considered it an unmanly act 
of cruelty to leave his brothers to languish in con- 
finement, and he sent them as hostages into honor- 
able banishment, some to Rome and some to the 
Parthian capital. 

Once on the throne, Izates intended to adopt 
Judaism, and even to submit to the rite of circum- 
cision, but he was dissuaded from doing so by his 
mother, and by his physician, also named Anania, 
who, being an Hellenic Judaean, represented to him 
that the latter was not essential. Izates felt reas- 
sured for the time ; but another Judaean, a Galilaean 
of the name of Eleazar, and a strict follower of 
the Law, came to his court and offered a con- 
trary opinion. Eleazar, seeing the king engrossed 
in reading the Pentateuch, probably a Greek 
translation, could not help observing that to be- 
long to the Judaean faith it was not sufficient to 
read the Law, but it was necessary also to 
practise its precepts. Thereupon Izates, and, ac- 
cording to some authorities, also his elder brother 
Monobaz, secretly submitted to the rite of cir- 
cumcision. The queen-mother had anticipated 
dangerous results from so decided a step, but 
they were not immediately forthcoming. Not only 
was there perfect peace after the accession of Izates, 
but he was so much respected that he was chosen 
to be arbitrator between the Parthian king Artaban 
and the rebellious nobles of that monarch. 

Some time later, when several of the king's rela- 
tions avowed their conversion to Judaism, some of 
the nobles of Adiabene formed a conspiracy, and 
secretly induced Abia, the king of Arabia, to declare 


war against him. Izates, however, was successful, 
and Abia killed himself in despair. The nobles 
then conspired with Vologeses, the king of Parthia, 
to make war against their king, who had been faith- 
less to the religion of his forefathers. This war, 
however, which might have been most calamitous 
for Izates, Vologeses was prevented from under- 
taking, and henceforth his reign, which lasted about 
thirty years, continued undisturbed. Queen Helen, 
fired by the enthusiasm of the Judaean faith, desired 
to visit Jerusalem, and, accompanied by her son, she 
accomplished this long journey in about the year 43. 
Izates sent five of his own sons to Jerusalem to learn 
the religion and the language of the Hebrews. 

How grand and joyous must have been the wel- 
come offered by the inhabitants of Jerusalem to a 
queen come from the far distant East with the sole 
view of paying homage to their God and His Law ! 
Was not the word of prophecy fulfilled before their 
very eyes, that the second Temple should be greater 
than the first, inasmuch as the heathens should come 
and worship the one God ? 

Helen soon had the opportunity of appearing as 
the benefactress of the people. A famine prevailed 
which created great distress in the country, and the 
poorer classes especially suffered severely. Queen 
Helen sought to relieve them by bringing from 
Alexandria and Cyprus whole ship-loads of wheat 
and figs, which she distributed among the starving 
people (48 c. E.). Abundant means were given her 
by Izates to carry out her generous impulses. Her 
offering to the Temple consisted of a golden shell- 
shaped portal for the door of the inner Temple, 
to receive and reflect the first rays of the morning 
sun, and thus announce the break of dawn to the 
officiating priests. 

The piety and benevolence of the proselyte Helen 
were long remembered with love and gratitude by 
the nation. She survived her son Izates, who died 


at the age of fifty-five (55 c. E.) ; he is said to have 
left twenty-four sons and the same number of daugh- 
ters. He was succeeded by his elder brother, 
Monobaz II, who declared himself also to be a firm 
adherent to Judaism. When Helen died, Monobaz 
caused her remains, as well as those of his brother, 
to be removed to Jerusalem, and to be buried within 
the magnificent tomb which she had constructed 
there during her lifetime. This mausoleum, which 
was about thirty stadia north of Jerusalem, had beau- 
tiful pillars of alabaster, and was considered a great 
work of art. Helen had built a palace in the lower 
part of the town, and her granddaughter, the Prin- 
cess Grapte, erected another in that part of Jerusa- 
lem known as Ophla. Monobaz, who also had his 
palace in Jerusalem, had golden vessels made for 
use in the Temple on the Day of Atonement. The 
people of Adiabene remained firm friends of the 
Judaean nation, and were always ready to give their 
powerful help in times of danger. 

This leaning towards Judaism, evinced by so 
many religiously inclined heathens, was utilized by 
the teachers of the Nazarene creed. They took 
advantage of and worked upon this enthusiasm, and 
thus laid the first step to their future conquest of 
the world. 

Two Judaeans, both coming from countries where 
the Greek language was spoken, Saul of Tarsus 
(known as Paul) and Jose Barnabas of Cyprus, de- 
clared their intention of proselytizing the heathen. 
They thus widened the sphere of the small commu- 
nity, and raised it from being an insignificant sect 
of Judaism to the position of a distinct and separate 
religious body, but in order to do so they were 
obliged to change its original character and purpose. 

During the short decade following the death of 
its founder the small community had been aug- 
mented by Essenes and some Judaean inhabitants of 
Greek countries. The former, who had hitherto 


lived in a mystic land of visions and trusted to 
miraculous intervention for the arrival of the king- 
dom of heaven, may have seen their dreams fulfilled 
in the advent of Jesus. The Essenes, who had no 
families, were obliged to augment their numbers 
from without. They could only add" to the com- 
munity by dint of mystical persuasions, and, as 
believing followers of Jesus, they continued their 
propaganda and attracted new adherents from the 
lower classes, whom the leaders of the Pharisees 
had neglected or avoided. Their untiring zeal in- 

^^ <^5 

cited the activity of the first Christians, who had been 
awaiting, not so much an increase of believers, as 
the speedy re-appearance of Jesus, enthroned in the 
clouds of heaven. Apostles were now sent out 
from Jerusalem, where they were chiefly established, 
to propagate the belief that Jesus was the true Mes- 
siah. In order, however, to gain many converts, a 
greater power of oratory was required than the 
simple fishermen and mechanics of Galilee pos- 
sessed. This want was supplied by the addition of 
Greek-speaking Judaeans. From Asia Minor, Egypt, 
Cyrene, from the islands of Crete and Cyprus, there 
was an annual pilgrimage of Judaeans to Jerusalem 
at the time of the Passover festival. Besides men 
of piety and enthusiasts, there were adventurers, 
seekers after novelty, and beggars, ignorant of the 
Law. Of these pilgrims, numbers eagerly adopted 
the new faith. Many adventurers among the Greek 
Judaeans were easily persuaded to accept the doc- 
trine of the community of goods, which the Ebionite 
Christians had retained from their Essene origin, and 
which found great favor with these homeless wander- 
ers. All those who possessed any property sold it to 
increase the contents of the general treasury, and 
those who were utterly impecunious lived without 
any cares in the community. These Greek Judaeans, 
who had learnt from their heathen neighbors the 
art of speaking on every subject, and even of veiling 


almost meaningless expressions in an attractive and 
persuasive manner, presented the new religion in 
an attractive form. They were best adapted to 
become the preachers and missionaries. When 
converted themselves, they used all their efforts to 
convert others. The Greek element soon predomi- 
nated over the Galilsean, Ebionite and Essene 
elements, of which the community had previously 
been composed. 

These Greek Judaeans, who had never been 
taught the Law in the schools of Jerusalem and 
were, indeed, generally ignorant of its tenets, trans- 
gressed them, sometimes unwillingly, but at times 
intentionally. When taken to task they justified 
their actions by the belief which they entertained in 
the Messianic character of Jesus, who, they alleged, 
had also put aside the authority of the Law. In 
Jerusalem, still considered as the holy city, each 
practice and observance was made a matter of deep 
importance. People began to suspect that the 
Nazarenes, who spoke in foreign tongues, were 
introducing innovations and endeavoring to bring 
the Law into contempt, and the disciples of Jesus 
were thenceforth watched, and their utterances in 
the synagogues and in the market-places were 
carefully noted. Amongst those who were most 
fanatical against the Nazarenes was Saul of Tarsus, 
a zealous follower of the Pharisaic school, who held 
that no edict of either the oral or the written Law 
might be tampered with. As he spoke Greek him- 
self, he was able to measure the boldness of the 
utterances of the Judaean-Christian Greeks who were 
in Jerusalem, and his indignation was great against 
them. One of these Greeks, of the name of Stephen, 
was particularly violent in his attacks, and had reck- 
lessly spoken against the holiness of the Law and 
the Temple. It appears that Saul proclaimed him 
to be a blasphemer, and that he was stoned, whether 
after a judicial trial or by an angry populace is not 


known. After that time the Nazarenes were viewed 
with still greater suspicion, and were called upon to 
defend themselves ; and again it was Saul who 
watched the proceedings of these Greek adherents 
of the new sect, and caused them to be brought up 
for trial. They were imprisoned, and those who 
were found guilty of contempt of the Law by their 
belief in the Messianic attributes of Jesus were not 
punished by death, but were sentenced to be 
scourged. The foreign Nazarenes, terrified by this 
severity, hastened away from Jerusalem and dis- 
persed in various Greek towns in which there dwelt 
Judsean communities, among whom they continued 
their work of proselytizing. Those followers of 
Jesus, however, who, notwithstanding their new 
faith, did not deny the holiness of the Law, remained 
unmolested. Their three leaders, James, a brother 
or a relation of Jesus, Kephas or Peter, and John, 
son of Zebedee, lived at Jerusalem without fear of 

The other Nazarenes zealously continued the 
work of conversion in foreign places. Homeless 
themselves, they endeavored to introduce into 
their circle of followers the doctrine of the commu- 
nity of goods, which would enable them to live on 
from day to day without care or thought for the 
morrow. They were particularly attracted towards 
the towns of Antioch and Damascus, where they 
found a large field for their labors in the Greek- 
speaking community of men and women. The half- 
educated multitude listened eagerly to the words of 
messengers who announced that a heavenly king- 
dom was at hand, and to enter it they must accept 
only baptism, and the belief that Jesus was the 
Messiah who had actually appeared, had been cru- 
cified, and had risen again. 

Soon these two Greek cities saw a Nazarene 
community settling within their walls, who seemed 
to be Judaeans, who lived according to Judaean rule, 


who prayed, sang psalms, and ended their songs of 
praise with the customary "Amen"; but who yet 
showed certain signs of forming a new sect. They 
assembled together at a meal which they called 
Agape, spoke the blessing over the wine, drank 
after one another from the same vessel, broke their 
bread in remembrance of the last hours of Jesus, 
and gave each other, men and women indiscrimi- 
nately, the kiss of peace. Then, in convulsive ex- 
citement, some arose and prophesied, others spoke 
in strange tongues, whilst others again effected 
miraculous cures in the name of Jesus. An unnat- 
ural and highly wrought state of enthusiasm pre- 
vailed in these Greek-Nazarene circles, which would 
probably have been deemed ridiculous, and would 
have evaporated in time ; in short, Christianity 
might have died a noiseless death, if Saul of Tarsus 
had not appeared, and given it a new direction, a 
great scope, and thereby imparted to it vital powers 
and vigor. Without Jesus, Saul would not have 
made his vast spiritual conquests, but without Saul, 
Christianity itself would have had no stability. 

Saul (born in Tarsus in Cilicia, at the beginning 
of the Christian epoch, and belonging to the tribe 
of Benjamin) had a very remarkable nature. Weak 
and fragile in body, he was possessed of a tenacity 
which nothing could daunt. He was excitable and 


vehement, could not endure any opposition to his 
opinions, and was one-sided and bitter in his treat- 
ment of those who differed from him in the slightest 
degree. He had a limited knowledge of Judaean 
writings, and was only familiar with the Scriptures 
through the Greek translation ; enthusiastic and 
fanciful, he believed in the visions of his imagina- 
tion and allowed himself to be guided by them. In 
short, Saul combined a morbid and an iron nature ; 
he seemed created to establish what was new, and 
to give form and reality to that which seemed impos- 
sible and unreal. 


He had persecuted the Greek Nazarenes, hunted 
them out of their haunts of concealment to give 
them over to punishment, because they had seceded 
from Pharisaic Judaism. But that did not suffice. 
Hearing that some of them were established in 
Damascus, he followed them thither with all zeal, 
intending, with implacable persecuting zeal, to exter- 
minate the community. But his disposition towards 
them suddenly changed. In Damascus many heath- 
ens, particularly many of the female population, had 
gone over to Judaism. The conversion of the royal 
house of Adiabene had caused much excitement. 
Saul had probably himself witnessed the great tri- 
umph of Judaism, the entry of Queen Helen, the 
Princes of Adiabene and their retinue into Jerusa- 
lem. She probably stayed in Damascus on her 
journey, and there must have received the thanks 
of the Judsean inhabitants of that city. These 
events must have made a deep impression on Saul, 
and may have given rise to the thought : Had not 
the time foreseen by the prophets now arrived, 
when every nation should recognize the God of 
Israel, bow down and swear allegiance to Him 
alone ? 

If he was occupied with these thoughts he must 
also have been prepared to wrestle with many 
doubts to which they gave rise. Would it be pos- 
sible to convert the heathen w^orld if the Law were 
to bind them with its trammels, if they were to be 
forced to observe the Sabbath and the festivals, to 
keep the dietary laws, to distinguish between the 
clean and the unclean, and even to submit to cir- 
cumcision ? Should the heathen be required to 
follow even the severe Pharisaic ordinances ? In 
that case it would be impossible that other nations 
should enter the Judaean community. But, on 
the other hand, could not the Law be abrogated 
for the sake of the heathens, and might they not 
merely be taught the knowledge of God and a loftier 


morality? Yet, as the whole law originated from 
God, by whom it was revealed, and who had ex- 
pressly commanded that it should be fulfilled, how 
could it be set aside ? A saying of his teachers may 
then have occurred to Saul, that the Law was only 
binding until the time of the Messiah, and that as 
soon as the Redeemer came its importance and sig- 
nificance would cease. If the Messiah had really 
appeared, then all the difficulties that surrounded 
the conversion of the heathen would disappear. 
This train of thought engrossed the mind of Saul. 
His nervous temperament and imaginative nature 
easily dispelled all doubts, and he believed firmly 
and truly that Jesus had made himself manifest to 
him. Much later he said of the vision which had 
appeared : " If it were in the flesh I know not, if it 
were supernatural I know not, God knows ; but I 
was carried up beyond the third heaven." This is 
not very reliable evidence to an actual fact. Legend 
has adorned this conversion, which was of such great 
importance to Christianity, in a fitting manner. It 
describes Saul traveling to Damascus, and his path 
illumined by a great light. Beholding this light, he 
is said to have fallen in terror to the earth, and to 
have heard a voice, which called to him, " Saul, Saul, 
why dost thou persecute me ?" Blinded by the 
vision, he reached Damascus ; and after an inter- 
view with a Christian, who advised him to be bap- 
tized, the scales at length fell from his eyes. 

With the certainty that he had actually beheld 
Jesus, another doubt was banished from Saul's mind, 
or a different Messianic point of view was revealed to 
him. Jesus had certainly died or rather had been 
crucified but, as he appeared to Saul, he must 
have risen from the dead ; he must have been the 
first who had been brought to life again, and had 
therefore confirmed the fact that there would be a 
Resurrection, which fact had been a matter of con- 
tention between the various schools : and Jesus had 


also thereby announced the advent of the kingdom 
of heaven, of which, as the prophet Daniel had pre- 
dicted, the resurrection of the dead was to be the 
forerunner. Thus the former Pharisee of Tarsus 
was firmly convinced of three things that Jesus 
had arisen ; that he was the true Messiah who had 
been predicted ; and that the kingdom of heaven, 
the period of the resurrection, was near, and that 
the then existing generation, or rather the true 
believers in Jesus, would soon witness its arrival. 
This belief led to further results. If the Messiah 
had already appeared, or if Jesus were actually the 
Christ, then the Law was of itself abrogated, and 
the heathens could participate in the blessing of 
Abraham, without observing the Law. This belief 
acted as an incentive to Saul. He felt himself 
called upon to convert the depraved world of 
heathendom, and, through Christ, to lead it back to 
the Father of all. No time was allowed to elapse 
between the inception of this idea and its realization. 
Assuming the name of Paul, he joined the Naza- 
renes of Damascus, who were not a little astonished 
that their persecutor had now become their col- 
league, and was seeking to make fresh converts. 

Paul found many opportunities for converting in 
Damascus, as a strong feeling in favor of Judaism 
prevailed there, and the sacrifice incumbent on its 
followers alone kept many aloof. The newly-con- 
verted Apostle could render this step easier, as he 
relieved them of all duties to the Law by means of 
a belief in Jesus. He does not, however, seem to 
have found a warm reception for his faith, resting as it 
did on sophistry, even amongst his own countrymen. 
His theory that the whole Law might be set aside 
was probably not considered as quite acceptable. 
The people also seem to have felt distrust of their 
former persecutor. In short, Saul-Paul could not 
maintain hie ground in Damascus, and fled to 
Arabia (Auranitis), where Judaean communities also 


existed. When, however, he returned to Damascus 
for the second time, and his coreligionists had ac- 
quired greater confidence in him, he could indulge 
his love of proselytism. But his brusque, incon- 
siderate manner, and his assertion that the Law was 
no longer in force, aroused the Judaean community 
of Damascus against him. The Judaean ethnarch 
of the town, who had been appointed or confirmed 
by Aretas Philodemus, sought to take him prisoner. 
His companions saved him, by lowering him in a 
basket from a window in the wall. Thus he escaped 
from those who rightly considered him as the de- 
stroyer of Judaism. He returned to Jerusalem 
three years after his conversion. He felt that there 
was a wide difference between himself and the Gali- 
laean Christians, and that he would not be able to 
make terms with them. Paul was filled with the 
one thought, that the blessing for all generations, 
the promise (evangel) made to Abraham that he 
should be father of many nations, and that the 
wealth of the heathen should belong to the children 
of Abraham, was now finally to be realized, and that 
he (Paul) was called upon to effect this work. He 
wished to put an end to the difference between the 
Judaeans and the Greeks, between slaves and free- 
men, and to make all brothers in the covenant of 
Abraham as the seed of Abraham according to 
the promise given in by-gone years. This was the 
glad message which he brought to the people ; it 
was a far-reaching thought, of which the Ebionites 
in Jerusalem and the so-called main Apostles had no 

After a short stay in Jerusalem, Saul, accompanied 
by his disciple, the Cyprian Joseph Barnabas, re- 
paired to Cilicia, Paul's native place, and traversed 
Asia Minor and Macedonia to Achaia. There his 
endeavors were crowned with marvelous results. 
He founded in various places Greek-Christian com- 
munities, especially in Galatia, in Ephesus, Philippi, 


and Thessalonica, and in the town of Corinth. This 
result may partly be laid to the credit of Judaism ; 
for when Paul wished to win over the heathens, he 
had to unfold to them the glorious past of the Ju- 
daean nation, in order to speak of Jesus. He also 
had to contrast the pure belief in God with the wild 
practices of heathendom. He found a susceptibility 
for the pure teachings of Judaism among the heathen. 
Not a few felt disgust at the mythological stories of 
the gods and the deification of human beings. The 
remembrance was yet fresh in their memories how 
all nations of the Roman kingdom, with unexampled 
abjectness, had dedicated altars to the monster Cali- 
gula, and had recognized and worshiped him as a 
god. Despairing and pure spirits sought a God to 
whom they might elevate themselves, but they did 
not find him. Now Paul had come and brought them 
this God, surrounded, it is true, with wonderful stories, 
which, however, pleased them, on account of the 
mythological strain in them. The heathen nations 
could better comprehend the " Son of God ' than 
the " Messianic Redeemer." The wide-spread dis- 
ease of immorality, which was rife throughout the 
Roman empire, rendered the Judaean teachings 
acceptable and proper. Paul's orations, delivered 
with the fire of enthusiasm, and uttered by one 
who threw his whole soul into his words, could not 
fail to make an impression on the better-disposed 
and purer-minded heathens. To this was added 
the fear of the approach of the end of the world, 
which Paul, through his firm belief in the resurrec- 
tion and reappearance of Jesus, had transformed 
into the hope that the dead would arise, in refulgent 
form, at the trumpet-call, and that the living would 
be carried up into heaven in a cloud. 

Thus Paul appealed to the imagination of many 
heathens in his apostolic wanderings from Jeru- 
salem to Illyria. At first he aroused only people 
of the lower classes, slaves, and especially women, 


by his glad tidings. To the cultivated Greeks 
the Christianity which Paul preached, based on 
the so-called resurrection of Jesus, appeared as 
a ridiculous absurdity. The Judaeans were natu- 
rally displeased with him. Paul's chief topics, 
on which he dilated to the heathens whom he 
wished to convert, were the Judaean nation, Judaean 
writings, and the Judaean Law ; without these his 
preaching about a Messiah or salvation had no 
foundation. The Greeks must have been told about 
Israel and Jerusalem, or his words would have fallen 
on deaf ears. He, therefore, could only resort to 
those towns where Judaean communities dwelt, from 
whom the heathen nations had received some faint 
notion of the history and doctrines of Judaism. 

Paul's efforts were directly aimed at destroying the 
bonds which connected the teachings of Christ with 
those of Judaism. He therefore inveighed against 
the Law, as it proved a hindrance to the reception 
of heathen proselytes. He asserted that it was 
detrimental to the pursuit of a higher spiritual life 
and to following the way of truth. Paul not only 
disapproved of the so-called ceremonial laws of 
Judaism, but also of those relating to morality. He 
affirmed that without laws men would not have oqven 


way to their evil desires. " Thou shalt not covet " 
had first aroused covetousness ; thus through the 


Law the knowledge of sin had arisen. Man is 


sensual and inclined to sin, for flesh is weak 
and inclined to resist the Law. Paul set up a new 
teaching. He maintained that man had only be- 
come sensual, weak and sinful because the first 
man had sinned. Adam's fall had given birth to an 
inextinguishable hereditary sin, and by this means 
death had come upon humanity. The Law was not 
able to overcome this hereditary sin. In order to 
destroy sin and death, God had made a special 
dispensation. He had given up the Messiah, His 
son, to death, and again re-animated him, and he had 


become the second Adam, who was to obliterate 
hereditary sin, to conquer death, and establish ever- 
lasting life. Thus the Redeemer, instead of bring- 
ing about the redemption of nations from the yoke 
imposed on them, had redeemed them from sin. 

Paul therefore conceived Christianity to be the 
very opposite of Judaism. The one was founded on 
law and compulsion, the other owed its origin to 
freedom and grace. Jesus or Christianity had 
brought about the holy state foretold by the pro- 
phets. The ancient times had departed, and a new 
state of things had arisen ; the old covenant (Testa- 
ment) must yield to the new one ; Abraham himself 
had not been judged as just through the Law, but 
through faith. Thus Paul sophistically explained the 
Scriptures. From the Law it is to be inferred that 
whosoever does not abide by it, and refuses 
wholly and entirely to comply with its precepts, 
stands under a curse. The great service which 
Jesus had rendered was that he had delivered all 
men from this curse, for through his means the Law 
had been set aside. How could the Judaeans 
submit to this open desecration of the Law of 
Sinai for which their forefathers had suffered death, 
and for which, but a short time since, under 
Caligula, they had determined to sacrifice their 
lives ? It is not to be wondered at that they rose 
against the man who despised the Law, and per- 
secuted him. They, however, contented them- 
selves with flogging Paul when he fell into their 
hands, but they left his life unharmed ; five 
times, as he himself relates, he was chastised 
with thirty-nine strokes. Not only the Judseans 
but also the Nazarenes, or Judsean Christians, were 
incensed against Paul for his attack on the Law, 
and by this means dissension and schisms arose in 
the midst of young Christianity. Peter, or Kephas, 
who came as a messenger to the Judseans, taught a 
Christianity which differed from that of Paul, and 


that of the other Apostles who sought to make 
converts amongst the heathen ; whilst Apollos from 
Alexandria, and a certain Chrestus preached another 

The Judaic Christians saw with terror the fruits 
of the ceremonial freedom preached by Paul in 
the communities founded by him in Corinth and 
Ephesus, where every species of vice and immor- 
ality was rife. Other Apostles, therefore, fol- 
lowed Paul, and proclaimed his teachings full of 
error and misrepresentation, and maintained that 
the Law of Judaism was binding on Christians, 
as it was only by this Law that the lower pas- 
sions could be held in check. In Antioch a vio- 
lent quarrel arose between Paul and the Judaic- 
Christian Apostle. Peter, who till then had disre- 
garded the dietary laws and eaten at one table with 
the heathens, was censured by the leaders of the 
severe party of the Apostle James, and was now 
obliged to acknowledge his fault, and to speak 
openly against Paul's contempt of the Law. Paul, 
on the other hand, reproached him with hypocrisy. 
The influence of the severe, Law-loving Judaic 
Christians was, however, so great that all the Judaean 
Christians of Antioch gave up eating at the 
tables of the heathen, and their example was even 
followed by Barnabas, the disciple of Paul. 

Racial feelings also helped to widen the breach 
between the two parties. The Greek Christians 
despised the Judaic Christians in the same way 
as the Hellenes had looked down upon the Ju- 
daeans. Paul sent out violent epistles against the 
adherents of the Law, and laid a curse on those 
who preached salvation in a manner differing 
from his own. These did not spare him either, 
and related how he had loved the daughter of a 
high priest ; how, on being despised by her, he 
had in disgust written against circumcision, the 
Sabbath, and the Law. Thus, within barely thirty 


years after the death of its founder, Christianity 
was split into two parties, namely, a Judaic-Christian 
and a heathen-Christian sect. The Judaic Christians 
remained attached to the foundations of Judaism, 
compelled their converts to adhere to the Law, and 
clung to Jerusalem, where they awaited the return 
of the Messiah. The heathen Christians, on the 
other hand, separated themselves more and more 
from Judaism, and took up an inimical position 
towards it. 



Position of Affairs in Judaea Roman Oppression Character of 
Agrippa II. The last High Priest The Zealots and the Sicarii 

Eleazar ben Dina'i Quarrel with the Samaritans Violence in 

Caesarea The Procurators Florus Insurrection in Csesarea 
Bloodshed in Jerusalem The Peace and War Parties The 
Leader of the Zealots, Eleazar ben Ananias Menahem, chief of 
the Zealots Massacres of Heathens and Judaeans Defeat of 
the Romans The Synhedrion and its President, Simon ben 
Gamaliel Position of the Synhedrion. 

49 66 c. E. 

WHATEVER triumph Judaism might celebrate by the 
accession of proselytes, and bright as seemed the 
dawn of the day predicted by the prophet, when 
the peoples of the earth would turn their eyes to 
Zion, and towards the light issuing thence to illu- 
mine the human race, yet in their native land, and 
more especially in Jerusalem, the yoke of the 
Romans weighed heavily on the Judaeans, and be- 
came daily more oppressive. 

The pitiable state of existing affairs crushed 
down all joyful feelings as to the prospective do- 
minion of Judaism. A veil of sadness had for the 
last twenty years been spread over the nation, and 
no joyful feelings could exist beneath it. 'The last 
decades exhibit the nation as a captive who, con- 
tinually tormented and goaded on by his jailer, 
tugs at his fetters, with the strength of despair, 
until he wrenches them asunder. The bloody con- 
test between Rome, strong in arms and fertile in 
stratagem, and Judaea, poor in outward means of 
warfare and powerful only through indomitable 
will, inspires the deepest interest because, in spite 
of the disproportion between the combatants, the 



weak daughter of Zion would probably have gained 
the victory had she not been torn by conflicting 
parties and surrounded by treachery. Perhaps, had 
she awaited a more favorable moment, success 
might have been hers ; but Providence had decreed 
the destruction of her national life. 

This great combat, to which few struggles in 
the history of the world are comparable, was 
waged not merely for liberty, like the wars in 
which the Gauls, Germans, and Britons were en- 
gaged against Rome, but had likewise a religious 
character. The Judsean people were daily wounded 
in their religious sentiments by the arbitrary rule 
of Rome, and desired to gain their independence 
in order to acquire and maintain the free exercise 
of their religion. Such being their aim, the fre- 
quent reverses they sustained could not abate the 
ardent longing they felt to be free ; on the con- 
trary, it rose with each fresh disaster, and in the 
most trivial circumstances they saw and resented 
an attack upon their most sacred convictions. It was 
seldom, indeed, that Rome outraged the religious 
feelings of the Judaeans as she had done under 
Caligula ; on the contrary, she rather indulged their 
susceptibilities, but she often wounded them unin- 
tentionally through her despotic and jealous super- 

The higher classes, poisoned by the seductive 
arts of Rome, had become deaf to the voice of 
duty, and the wise and vigilant among the nation 
feared, with reason, that the whole body would be 
infused with the moral prostration of its highest 
members. The aristocratic families were, indeed, 
so deeply steeped in immorality that the middle 
classes could hardly escape its contaminating influ- 
ence. The bad example was set by the last mem- 
bers of the house of Herod, who were educated 
either in Rome itself or in the small courts of the 
princely Roman vassals. Agrippa II (born 27, 


died 91-93), son of the last noble Judaean king 
Agrippa I, a mere stripling of seventeen years 
at the time of his father's death, drank in the pois- 
oned air of the Roman court, where the Messalinas 
and Agrippinas openly displayed the most hideous 
vices. After the demise of Herod II, the Emperor 
Claudius gave Agrippa the tiny kingdom of Chal- 
cis (about 50). It was whispered that this last 
scion of the Hasmonasan and Herodian houses led 
an incestuous life with his beautiful sister Berenice, 
who was a year younger than himself, and a widow 
on the death of her husband, Herod II. There 
was probably some truth in the rumor, as Agrippa 
found himself forced to silence it. He betrothed 
his sister to Polemon, king of Cilicia, who, perhaps 
allured by her wealth even more than by her 
beauty, adopted Judaism to obtain her hand. But 
impelled by her inconstant humor, Berenice soon 
left Polemon, and was free again to indulge in her 
licentious intrigues. 

Agrippa's second sister, Mariamne II (born 34), 
married to a native of Palestine, Julius Archelaus, 
dissolved that union, though she had borne him 
a daughter, and became the wife of the Judaean 
Demetrius of Alexandria, probably the son of the 
Alabarch Alexander, and in that case the brother 
of the apostate Tiberius Alexander. Still more 
depraved was his youngest sister, the beautiful 
Drusilla (born 38). Her father had promised her, 
when still a child, to the prince Epiphanes, the son of 
his friend Antiochus of Commagene, but only upon 
condition of his becoming a convert to Judaism. 
After Agrippa's death, however, Epiphanes refused 
to accept Judaism, and the young Agrippa gave his 
sister Drusilla to Aziz, king of Emesa, who declared 
himself willing to embrace her faith. Heedless, 
however, of conjugal duty, Drusilla soon abandoned 
her husband, married a Roman, the Governor Felix, 
and for his sake gave up her faith and became a 


pagan. The envy with which Berenice inspired 
Drusilla was supposed to have been the motive of the 
infidelity of the younger sister both to her husband 
and to her religion. 

Although Agrippa was only prince of Chalcis, he 
was looked upon as the king of Judaea. Rome cer- 
tainly had not deprived him of the royal title, but had 
divested him of all power, and made use of him only as 
a pliant tool and as a guard upon the movements of 
the surrounding nations. Agrippa was devoted to 
the imperial house, styling himself the emperor's 
friend. He displayed weakness and impotency when 
it behooved him to put bounds to the usurpations, 
insolence, and arrogance of Rome, and only showed 
his strength when he opposed the struggles of his 
people to regain their freedom and liberty. The 
whole house of Agrippa, including his most distant 
connections, Antipas and the two brothers Costo- 
bar and Saul, were all immoral, rapacious, and hostile 
to their own people. The only authority which 
Claudius, or rather his council, had left in the hands 
of the titular king, and which was ratified by his suc- 
cessors, was that which he was allowed to exercise 
over the Temple, and which enabled him to appoint 
the high priest. It was not religious zeal or moral 
worth that swayed Agrippa in the choice of the high 
priest, but simply the sentiments felt by the candi- 
date for that office towards Rome. He who carried 
servility and the surrender of national aspirations 
furthest gained the prize. In barely twenty years 
Agrippa had named at least seven high priests. 
Among that number was Ananias (son of Eleazar?), 
whose enormous wealth, either acquired or inherited, 
allowed him to ingratiate himself with all who were 
open to bribery, and set him free to practise acts of 
lawlessness and violence. Since the time when 
Herod had lowered the dignity of the high priest's 
office by permitting it to be sold or gained by 
pandering to most degraded sentiments, there were 


certain families who seemed to have acquired a 
right to it those of Boethus, Cantheras, Phabi, 
Camith, and Anan or Seth, and it was but seldom 
that any one was elected outside that circle. The 
members of these families vied with each other in 
dishonorable conduct and frivolous thoughtless- 
ness. Often their fierce jealousy broke out in acts 
of violence, and the streets of Jerusalem occasion- 
ally were the scenes of bloody skirmishes between 
the followers of those hostile rival houses. Each 
succeeding high priest tried to gain as much as pos- 
sible out of his office, giving heedless of the worth 
or fitness of the recipient the most lucrative places 
in the Temple to his relatives and friends. So 
reckless were the high priests in the use, or rather 
abuse, of their power, that they would send their 
slaves, armed with clubs, to the barns to seize for 
themselves the tithes which every one was legally 
free to give to whichever priest he might select. 
Those priests who had not the good fortune to be 
related to the high priest were thus deprived of the 
means of subsistence, and fell into stringent poverty. 
Avarice and greed of power were the mainsprings 
of the actions of those who were elected to repre- 
sent the highest ideal of morality ; the Temple was 
despoiled by its dignitaries even before the enemy 
forced his way into it with his weapons of murder. 

From this time, according to tradition, the visible 
signs of divine mercy ceased to appear in the Temple. 
Like some cankerous affection, this demoralization 
of princes and high priests extended ever more 
and more to the classes closest to them, producing 
evils which are depicted in dark colors by the pen of 
a contemporary. Since the penal laws were admin- 
istered in the name of the emperor, and were placed 
under the control of the governors, the judiciary 
became dependent upon the Romans and the 
wealthy and influential classes. Selfishness, bri- 
bery, calumny, and cowardice, according to the 


painter of the manners and morality of that period, 
were ever increasing. " They throw off," he bitterly 
exclaims, " the yoke of heaven, and place themselves 
under the yoke of men ; their judgments are false 
and their actions perverse. The vain and thought- 
less are made great, while the nobler citizens are 
despised." Frivolity in the women and licentious- 
ness in the men were so completely the order of 
the day that the most eminent teacher of morality 
of that time, Jochanan ben Zaccai, found himself 
obliged to abolish the ritual hitherto used in cases of 
suspicion of adultery. With deep sorrrow, the nobler- 
minded Judaeans lamented a state of things in 
which outward forms of worship stood higher than 
morality, and the defiling of the Temple caused 
more scandal and wrath than an act of murder. In 
the lower classes, crime of another but of a not less 
alarming nature appeared. The frequent insurrec- 
tions which had been stimulated and fomented by 
the Zealots since Rome had arrogantly treated 
Judaea like a conquered province, had given rise 
to bands of free troops, which roved wildly about the 
country, confounding liberty with licentiousness, 
and trampling upon both customs and laws. They 
crowded the caves and hollows which abound in the 
rocky mountains of Judaea, and from those retreats 
made frequent irruptions to gratify their love of 
unbridled liberty. Some bands of Zealots, led by 
Eleazar ben Dinai and Alexander, were incited by 
feelings of patriotism to deeds of cruelty. They 
had sworn destruction and death to the Romans, 
and they included among the latter all those who 
consorted with them; they would not recognize 
them as Judaeans, and deemed it no crime to plun- 
der and destroy them. The degenerate friends of 
Rome were, according to their views, and the oaths 
they had taken, mere outlaws, and the Zealots kept 
their oath only too well. They attacked the nobles 
as often as they fell in their way, ravaged their 


possessions and did them as much harm as lay in 
their power. If there was any wrong to be avenged 
upon the enemy of their country, they were the first 
to lend their sword in defense of their outraged 

Another band of Zealots, grown wild and savage, 
forgot the original aim of liberating their country, 
and turned their attacks upon the foes of the latter 
into profit for themselves. They were called Sicarii, 
from the short dagger " sica," which they wore con- 
cealed under their cloaks, and with which, either 
openly or insidiously, they struck and killed their 
enemies. The Sicarii belonged to the very refuse 
of the Zealots. Later they acknowledged the grand- 
sons of Judas of Galilee, Menahem and Eleazar ben 
Jair, as their leaders, but at the commencement of 
this epoch they were under no discipline whatever. 
They wandered about the country without any 
defined object, lending their assistance to those who 
either offered them a reward or an opportunity for 
satisfying their thirst for revenge. Armed with 
daggers, they wandered among the various groups 
that thronged the colonnade of the Temple during 
the festivals, and unperceived, struck down those 
they had marked out as their victims. These mur- 
ders were committed with such extraordinary rapidity 
and skill, that for a longtime the assassins remained 
undiscovered, but all the greater were the dread 
and horror excited by those dark, mysterious deeds. 
Murders became so frequent that Jochanan ben 
Zaccai and the teachers of the Law found it neces- 
sary to abrogate the sin-offering for the shedding 
of innocent blood, as too many animals would have 
been slaughtered for the human victims. It may 
have been about this time that the Great Synhedrion, 
which witnessed with intense grief the constant in- 
crease of lawlessness and immorality, gave up its 
functions and transferred its place of meeting from 
the Hewn-stone Hall to the Commercial Hall in 


Bethany, an act which seemed to imply its dissolu- 

To stem, if possible, the confusion and disorder 
which existed, the noblest citizens combined, and 
keeping aloof from conflicts and strifes, sought to 
further by all means in their power the spiritual 
advancement of Judaism. To keep the Law intact 
was their self-imposed, sacred task. In Jochanan 
ben Zaccai they found a fitting representative. He 
was considered, next to the president of the Synhed- 
rion, Simon ben Gamaliel (and perhaps even before 
him), as the greatest teacher of that time. On 
account of his deep knowledge of the Law and of 
the worth and dignity of his character, Jochanan 
ben Zaccai was made vice-president of the Synhed- 
rion. That position gave him the power to cancel 
such laws as could not be enforced in that stormy 
period. His chief office, however, was that of 
teacher. In the cool shade cast by the Temple 
walls, he sat, encircled by his disciples, to whom he 
delivered the laws that were to be observed, and 
expounded the Scriptures. 

Besides the spirit of anarchy there was another 
source of discord and misery. As the existing 
situation became more and more sad and hopeless, 
the lonoqno- in the hearts of faithful believers for the 
expected deliverer who was to bring peace to 
Judaea became more and more intense. Messianic 
hopes were rifer among the people now than they 
had been even during the time of the first Roman 


governors ; and these hopes stirred up enthusiasts 
who proclaimed themselves to be prophets and Mes- 
siahs, and who inspired belief and obtained followers. 
Freedom from the yoke of Rome was the one great 
aim of all these enthusiasts. What the disciples of 
Judas attempted to bring about by force of arms, the 
disciples of Theudas hoped to accomplish without 
fighting, having recourse only to signs and miracles. 
A Judaean from Egypt calling himself a prophet, 


found no less than three, or according to another 
account, four thousand followers. These he sum- 
moned to the Mount of Olives, and there promised 
to overthrow the walls of Jerusalem with the breath 
of his mouth and to defeat the Roman soldiers. 
He was not the only one who, carried away by the 
fervor of desire, prophesied the approach of better 
times. And well may those enthusiasts have found 
acceptance among the people. A nation that had 
enjoyed so rich a past and looked forward even to 
a more glorious future, might allow itself to be 
lulled into forgetfulness of the dismal present 
by pictures of freedom and happiness. These 
visions and prophecies, harmless enough in them- 
selves, derived a sad importance from the bitter and 
savage animosity with which they inspired the 
Roman governors. If the people, jealous of any 
interference with their religion, looked upon the 
slightest offense to it as an attack upon Judaism 
itself, and made the governors, the emperor, and 
the Roman state responsible for the delinquency, 
the imperial officials in Judaea were not less suscep- 
tible, for they treated the most trivial agitation 
among the people as an insult to the majesty of 
Rome and the emperor, and punished with equal 
severity the innocent and the guilty. Vain was the 
favor shown to the Judaean nation by the emperors 
Claudius and Nero the procurator constantly over- 
stepped the limit of his authority, and urged on by 
greed and the love of power, acted the part of 
tyrant. Judaea had the misfortune to be almost 
always governed by depraved creatures, who owed 
their position to the reckless favorites who ruled 
at court. They rivaled one another in acts of 
wickedness and cruelty, thus ever increasing the 
discontent and provoking the wrath of the people. 
Cumanus, who succeeded Tiberius Alexander (about 
48-52), was the first of five such avaricious and 
bloodthirsty procurators. He governed only the 


provinces of Judaea and Samaria, Claudius having 
bestowed the command of the province of Galilee 
on Felix, the brother of his favorite, Pallas. 
Cumanus and Felix became deadly foes. 

It was the governor of Judaea who first excited 
the resentment of the people. Jealous suspi- 
cion of any great concourse of people assembled 
in the Temple, a suspicion which* since the revolt 
at the time of the census, had become traditional 
among the Roman governors, induced Cumanus, 
at the time of the Passover, to place an armed 
cohort in the colonnade of the Temple to watch 
the throngs which gathered there during that fes- 
tival. On that occasion a soldier, with the reckless- 
ness often exhibited by the inferior Roman troops, 
made an offensive gesture towards the sanctuary, 
which the people interpreted as an insult to their 
Temple. Carried away by indignation and anger, 
they threw stones at the soldiers and abused 
the governor. A tumult ensued, which threatened 
to become a serious sedition. Cumanus ordered 
fresh troops to advance and take possession of the 
fortress of Antonia, and assuming a menacing 
aspect, alarmed the people assembled round the 
Temple, who now hastened to escape from his 
reach. In their anxiety to get away, the crowds 
pressed fearfully through the various places of exit, 
and it is believed that more than ten or indeed 
twenty thousand persons were suffocated or tram- 
pled to death. 

A similar occasion might have led to a like 
disastrous result, had not Cumanus prudently 
complied with the wishes of the people. On the 
highway, not far from Bethoron, a band of Sicarii 
having fallen upon and robbed a servant of the 
emperor, Cumanus resolved that all the neighbor- 
ing villages should suffer bitterly for the act of vio- 
lence committed in their vicinity. One of the 
Roman soldiers, infuriated by an attack upon a 


fellow-countryman, got possession of a Book of the 
Law, tore it in pieces and threw the fragments into 
the fire. Here was a new cause for angry excite- 
ment and wrathful reproaches in the desecration of 
what they held most sacred. Countless bands 
flocked to Cumanus at Caesarea, crying out against 
the blasphemer. Much rather, they exclaimed, 
would they suffer the worst fate themselves than 
see their Holy Scriptures profaned ; and in tones 
of fury they called for the death of the guilty man. 
The governor yielded this time to the counsel of 
his friends, and ordered the soldier to be executed 
in the presence of those whose religious feelings he 
had outraged. 

Another occurrence took a more serious form 
and led to strife and bloodshed. Some Galilaeans 
who were on their way to a festival at Jerusalem, 
passed through Samaria, and whilst in the town of 
Ginaea, on the southeastern end of the plain of 
Jezreel, they were murdered in a fray with the hos- 
tile Samaritans. Was this only an accidental mis- 
chance, or the result of the burning hatred which 
existed between the Judaeans and the Samaritans ? 
In either case the representatives of Galilee were 
justified in demanding vengeance at the hands of 
the governor upon the murderers. But Cumanus 
treated the affair with contemptuous indifference, 
and thus obliged the Judaeans to deal with the 
matter themselves. The leaders of the Zealots, 
Eleazer ben Dinai and Alexander, incited both by 
the Galilaeans and their governor, Felix, took the 
matter into their own hands, entered with their 
troops the province of Acrabatene, inhabited by 
Samaritans, and pitilessly destroyed and killed all 
within their reach. The Samaritans appealed to 
Cumanus for redress for this attack upon their 
province, and he gave them permission to take up 
arms, sending at the same time Roman troops to 
assist them in a fearful massacre. 


This proof, as they considered it, of the par- 
tisanship of the emperor's officials roused the 
anger of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to such a 
degree that, spurred on among others by Dortus, 
a man of some position, they were on the 
point of attacking the troops of Cumanus, which 
would doubtless have seriously increased the 
gravity of the situation, and might have hastened 
the final catastrophe by twenty years. The prin- 
cipal inhabitants of Jerusalem, however, alarmed 
at the possible consequences of an outbreak against 
the Roman arms, strove to prevent so dangerous 
an act, and, clothed in deep mourning, implored 
the irritated multitude to pause and think of the 
future. At their prayer the people laid down their 
arms. But neither the Judaeans nor the Samaritans 
were really pacified, and still smarting under the 
wrongs mutually received, they sent deputies to 
the Syrian governor, Umidius Ouadratus, accus- 
ing each other, and asking him to investigate the 
whole dispute. To effect that object, Ouadratus 
visited Samaria ; but he was not an impartial judge, 
and many of the captive Judacans were doomed to 
perish on the cross. It was only after those exe- 
cutions had taken place that he formed a tribunal of 
justice, and summoned both parties to appear before 
it. In the meantime, however, Felix having taken 
the part of the Galilaeans against the Samaritans, 
such entanglements ensued that Ouadratus would 
not venture to adjudicate between the disputants, and 
ordered them to send deputies to Rome to obtain 
the decision of the emperor. Among the Judaean 
envoys were Jonathan, the former high priest, and 
Anan, the governor of the Temple. Cumanus was 
also obliged to leave his post in order to appear at 
Rome and justify himself there. 

All the intricate court intrigues were brought into 
play by this trial, which took on a more serious aspect 
from the fact that the governor himself was one of the 

CH. IX. FELIX. 245 

accused. The emperor caused a tribunal to be formed, 
but the verdict was given not by himself, but by his 
depraved wife, the notorious Agrippina, who was 
the paramour of Pallas, the brother of Felix. It 
had been arranged between the Judaean deputies 
and Pallas that after sentence was pronounced 
against Cumanus, the emperor should be asked 
to name Felix governor of Judaea in his stead. 
The verdict given in favor of the Judeeans could 
not be considered an impartial one, and was not 
in itself a proof that the Samaritans had been 
the aggressors. Many of them were pronounced 
guilty and executed, and Cumanus was sent into 
banishment. At the same time, probably also 
through the intercession of the empress, a kingdom 
in the northeast of Judaea was bestowed upon 
Agrippa ; it consisted of that part of the country 
which had once belonged to Philip's tetrarchy, 
Batanaea, Gaulanitis, Auranitis, Trachonitis, as well 
as Paneas and Abilene. On Judaea proper Rome 
kept a firm grasp, and would never allow a native 
prince, however much he might be under Roman 
influence and control, to exercise in that domain 
any regal prerogatives. 

Felix, whose appointment had been sought of the 
emperor by the former high priest, Jonathan, suc- 
ceeded Cumanus as governor of Judaea. He 
married Drusilla, King Agrippa IFs beautiful sister, 
who thereupon went over to paganism. During his 
long administration, Felix surpassed all his prede- 
cessors in arrogance and audacity. He gave him- 
self up entirely to the acquisition of riches and the 
satisfaction of his appetites. He continued to 
exercise his evil power even after the death of 
Claudius (54). For although the young emperor, 
Nero, or his mother, Agrippina, was as favorable to 
the house of Herod as Claudius had been, and had 
given Agrippa four considerable towns with their 
surrounding districts as well as the important city 


of Tiberias near Tarichea in Galilee, Judaea was 
allowed to remain under the iron rule of its cruel 
governor. Felix pretended to attack only the 
seditious mutineers ; but the fact of his consorting 
with the wild Sicarii showed how little truth there 
was in that assumption. Numerous, indeed, must 
have been the victims who suffered death at his 
hands under the plea that they were the enemies of 
Rome, for even the former high priest, Jonathan, at 
whose request the emperor had given Felix his 
appointment, now bitterly reproached him for his 
misdeeds. Exasperated by his boldness the gov- 
ernor caused him to be assassinated, employing the 
Sicarii to seize and murder him in the broad light 
of day. Ishmael II, of the house of Phabi, was 
named high priest by Agrippa in about the year 59. 
It was during his pontificate that the family of the 
high priest gained such power in the state that, 
aided by a strong rabble, they were able to compel 
the landowners to pay them all the tithes, thus 
robbing the lower priests of their incomes and 
causing many of them to perish from want. 

The arrogance with which the governors treated 
the nation was not without its baneful influence 
upon the conduct of the foreigners who dwelt in 
great numbers in the towns on the sea-coast. The 
Greeks and Romans that had settled in Judsea 
openly showed their hatred to their neighbors, and 
usurped the position of masters in the land. The 
fearful picture drawn by the great prophet seemed 
now on the point of being literally fulfilled : " The 
stranger in thy midst will ever rise higher, but 
thou wilt ever sink lower." The most shameless in 
their conduct towards the Judseans were the Greek 
Syrians who lived in Csesarea even the civil rights 
of the former were disputed by them. But the 
Judaeans of Caesarea, who far surpassed their 
heathen fellow-citizens in industry, wealth and 
courage, would not allow themselves to be deprived 

CH. IX. FESTUS. 247 

of their rights of citizenship, and fierce disputes and 
fights in the streets were consequently of almost 
daily occurrence. On one occasion, some Judaean 
youths having avenged with blows an insult they 
had received from a party of Syrians, and obliged 
the latter to flee, Felix took up the affair, called in 
some troops, which, being chiefly composed of 
Greeks and Syrians, sided heartily with their own 
countrymen. Many Judaeans lost their lives, many 
were imprisoned, and the houses of the rich were 
plundered and destroyed. The actual point in 
dispute remained undecided, both sides being only 
more embittered by the blood that had been shed. 
The rival parties sent deputies to Rome, and Nero 
was called upon to pronounce judgment between 
them. Bribery gained the favor of Burrus, the 
secretary of the emperor, to the cause of the 
Syrians of Caesarea. His verdict was consequently 
given against the Judaeans, who were deprived of 
their civil rights. 

Festus, the successor of Felix, governed for only 
a short time (from 59 to 61). During that period 
the unsatisfactory state of things remained un- 
changed, or, if possible, became still worse. A new 
enthusiast, proclaiming himself the Messiah, awoke 
the hope of the people for liberty and redemption, 
drew followers around him, and then shared the 
fate of his predecessors. The jealous spite which 
animated the different parties became more and 
more violent. The king, Agrippa, at length took 
up his residence in Jerusalem, in the Hasmonaean 
palace, which was just opposite the Temple. In 
order to overlook the courts of the latter he added 
to the height of his palace, and from the hall in that 
building, where he took his repasts, he could watch 
every movement that took place in the Temple. 
The Temple authorities took umbrage at this, and 
complained that Agrippa encroached upon their 
privileges ; and in order to hide the Temple from 


his view they had a high wall built on its western 
side. This aroused the displeasure of Agrippa and 
of the governor, who wished to demolish the hardly 
finished wall. Bitter words were used on both 
sides ; but at last prudence prevailed, and it was 
resolved that the dispute should be settled by the 
emperor. Twelve deputies, among whom were the 
high priest Ishmael and the treasurer Hilkia, were 
sent to represent the case at Rome. It was not 
Nero, however, but his paramour, Poppea Sabina, 
who eave the verdict. This beautiful but shameless 


woman had, strangely enough, a preference for Ju- 
daism, and as at Nero's court all state affairs were 
conducted by intrigue, the Judaean deputies profited 
by that happy chance and won their cause. The 
deputies brought back the imperial order that the 
jealous guard kept over the Temple should be dis- 
continued. A few years later Poppea interceded 
again on behalf of two Judaeans who had been con- 
demned by Felix and sent as prisoners to Rome. In 
order not to infringe upon the laws of their religion 
they, like Daniel and his friends, refused, whilst in 
prison, to eat anything but fruit. But at the desire 
of Poppea, who had now become empress, Nero 
granted the self-denying captives their liberty. 

After the death of Festus, Nero named Albinus 
governor, and in comparison with those who pre- 
ceded and those who came after him he was looked 
upon as a just ruler. Before he entered the prov- 
ince, Anan the high priest attempted to revive the 
half-extinct Sadducaeism, and to put its penal code 
again into force ; a tribunal was elected by him, and 
innocent men were condemned. The Pharisees 
were so dissatisfied with this illegal Synhedrion that 
they demanded of Agrippa the dismissal of the high 

The new governor Albinus was met on his way 
by accusations against Anan, who it was said had 
infringed upon the authority of Rome by punishing 


criminals himself. His enemies were successful, 
and he was obliged to resign his office of high priest 
after having filled it for three months. Joshua ben 
Damnai succeeded him, but in a short time he had 
to give way to Joshua ben Gamala (63 or 64). 
Ben-Gamala had married a widow of great wealth, 
Martha, a daughter of the house of the high priest 
Boethus, and it is said that she induced King 
Agrippa II, by the offer of a large bribe, to confer 
the office of high priest upon her husband. Between 
Joshua ben Damnai and his more fortunate suc- 
cessor there burned so fierce a hatred that their 
respective followers could not meet in the streets 
without insulting and even attacking each other. 

Joshua ben Gamala can, however, by no means be 
ranked among the worst of the high priests. The 
improvement in education, which began with him, 
testified to the interest he took in the useful institu- 
tions of the community. He established schools for 
boys from the age of five years in every town. But 
Ben-Gamala did not long retain his high office ; he 
was obliged to resign it to Matthia ben Theophilus 
(65), the last of the twenty-eight high priests who 
owed their election to Rome and the house of Herod. 
Albinus the governor, who was bent upon the de- 
struction of the fanatical Sicarii, embittered the 
people by the heavy taxes laid upon them, a part of 
which he kept for himself. Upon learning that a 
successor had been appointed, he caused those of 
the Sicarii who had been imprisoned for serious 
offenses to be executed, and those who were suffer- 
ing for lighter misdeeds were, upon paying a fine, 
set at liberty. The Sicarii thus released from im- 
prisonment took part afterwards in the insurrec- 
tions of the people against their oppressors, and 
stained the good cause with many acts of cruelty. 

The last of the procurators, Gessius Florus, who 
also was appointed by Poppea, hastened by his 
shameless partiality, avarice, and inhumanity, the 


execution of the long-cherished plan of the malcon- 
tents to shake off the tyrannical yoke of Rome. 
Florus was one of those utterly profligate beings 
to whom nothing is sacred ; who sacrifice every- 
thing to their greed, and disregard, without scruple, 
the most solemn oaths. What his predecessors 
had done with a pretense at least to some form, or 
under the shadow of secrecy, he accomplished openly 
in brazen-faced defiance of the Law. Inaccessible 
to pity, he had indulgence only for the Sicarii, 
who gave him a portion of their plunder. In the 
two years during which his administration lasted 
(64-66), many towns were completely sacked. The 
Sicarii were allowed to carry on unmolested their 
nefarious practices, the rich being obliged to pur- 
chase their favor as well as that of their patrons. 

So unbearable was this condition of the state that 
even a cowardly nation must have lost patience, and 
the courage of the Judaean people, in spite of the 
thousand disasters which had befallen them, of the 
heavy weight of the Roman yoke, and of the daily 
acts of violence of which they were the victims, was 
not yet broken. Rome at that time resembled a 
community of madmen, among whom the emperor 
Nero, confiding in the favor of the Senate and the 
people, perpetrated one folly after another, and 
was guilty of a succession of crimes. Thus, ex- 
cepting through their own endeavors, there ap- 
peared no chance of deliverance for the Judseans. 
This was the opinion of the best and greatest among 
them, of all those who were not the tools of Rome, 
or blinded by her false splendor, or paralyzed by 
terror of her strength. The boldest were already 
thinking of rebellion. The governor, Cestius Gallus, 
had, in the meantine, been informed of the exasper- 
ation and angry feeling that existed among the Ju- 
daean people, and reported the state of Judeea at the 
court of Rome, failing not to make known there 
that the nation was brooding over conspiracy and 


revolt. But no one listened to his warning voice. 
Nero was too busy to attend to such trifles ; he had 
to play the zither, to perform on the stage, to indulge 
in orgies, and to devise murders. The Empress 
Poppea, the friend of the Judseans, was dead. The 
creatures of the court resembled the monster Ges- 
sius Florus, and doubtless derided what they con- 
sidered the puerile fears of Gallus. The latter 
thereupon devised a plan to bring prominently 
before Nero's court the vastness of the population 
of Judaea, and the imprudence of underrating it. It 
was arranged between Agrippa and the high priest 
Matthia that at the Feast of the Passover a great 
though peaceful demonstration should take place, 
through a peculiar manner of numbering the people. 
Circulars were sent to the community, residing both 
within and outside Judaea, bidding vast numbers 
appear at the coming festival. Crowds of worship- 
ers, a greater concourse than had ever assembled 
before, obeyed the summons. In the spring of the 
year 66 they flocked to celebrate the Feast of Pass- 
over ; from the towns and villages of Judaea, from 
Syria, even from countries bordering the Euphrates, 
and from Egypt, they streamed into Jerusalem, which 
could hardly contain the vast multitude. On their 
way towards the Temple, some of the pilgrims were 
crushed in the crowd, and this feast was thereafter 
called the Passover of the Crushing. The number- 
ing of the people was carried on in the following 
way : From each offering a kidney was taken for 
the priests, the kidneys thus appropriated being 
counted ; and it was reckoned that each lamb that 
was eaten in company, was partaken of by at least 
ten persons. The result of these calculations 
proved that nearly three millions were at that time 
present in Jerusalem. 

Cestius Gallus had himself come to Jerusalem to 
conduct the investigation, and all appealed to him 
to have pity on their unspeakable woes, and to 


deliver them from their country's scourge. Florus, 
who was present, only smiled, but the governor of 
the city promised to use his influence in softening 
the procurator's heart towards them, and he ac- 
quainted Rome with the imposing concourse he had 
seen with his own eyes at Jerusalem. He was, 
however, much deceived as to the effect produced by 
his device of proving how great were the numbers 
of the people. Nero, at that time, had reached the 
highest point of his arrogance and pride. " Should 
Nero, whose triumphs surpassed those of Pompey, 
Caesar, and Augustus, fear Judaea ? " The account 
sent by Cestius Callus of the crowds assembled at 
Jerusalem during the Feast of Passover was prob- 
ably not even read by Nero, or, if looked at, only 
thrown to the winds. 

In Judaea, and above all in the capital, men, 
young and old, became daily more impatient to 
break the galling chains of Rome. Patience was 
exhausted ; they awaited only the favorable moment 
when they could strike at their foe with a chance of 
success. A trifling incident, which brought to light 
the unparalleled insolence of Florus, fanned the 
spirit of impatience and closed the lips of prudence. 
Fresh causes of disagreement had arisen between 
the Judaeans and the Syrians in Caesarea ; the former 
could not forget that Nero had lowered them in 
the eyes of their fellow-citizens, and the latter, 
elated by the preference given them, made the 
Judaeans feel their degraded position. The irrita- 
tion thus caused, stirred up the religious hatred and 
racial animosity which slumbered under the surface 
in both communities. A piece of ground belonging 
to a heathen in Caesarea, which happened to be 
just in front of the synagogue, was covered by him 
with shops, so that only one narrow entrance to the 
sacred building remained. The hot-headed Judaean 
youths tried to interrupt the construction of these 
booths, and Florus, won over by a large sum of 

CH. IX. FLORUS. 253 

money, refrained from interfering ; and, in order not 
to be a witness of the probable scene of contention, 
he absented himself and went to Samaria, leaving 
the two bitterly-opposed parties to the undisturbed 
exercise of their passionate animosity. On a certain 
Sabbath, while the Judaeans were assembled in wor- 
ship, a Greek placed a vessel in front of the syna- 
gogue and sacrificed birds upon it, to signify that 
the Judseans were descendants of outcast lepers. 
This calumny concerning the origin of their race was 
not taken quietly by the Judaean youths, who 
instantly armed themselves and fell upon their 
mockinof foes. The fiofht ended in the defeat of the 

o o 

Judaeans, all of whom thereupon, carrying away their 
holy books, betook themselves to the neighboring 
small town of Narbata, and thence sent an em- 
bassy of twelve men, among whom was the rich 
tax-gatherer Jonathan, to Florus in Samaria. The 
deputies reminded him of the sum he had received, 
and of his promise to afford them protection. But 
instead of listening to their supplications he received 
them harshly, and threw them into prison. When 
tidings of this new act qf violence reached Jerusalem, 
the anger of the whole population was aroused, but 
before they had time to form any plan of action, Flo- 
rus sent them another exasperating message. He 
desired the warden of the Temple to hand over out 
of the sacred treasury seventeen talents, which he 
declared were required in the service of the emperor. 
This command, the intention of which was plainly 
discerned by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, made 
them flock around the Temple as though they would 
shield the threatened Sanctuary. The timid broke 
forth in lamentations, and the fearless reviled the 
Roman governor, and carried a box about as though 
they were collecting alms for the indigent Florus. 
The latter, anticipating opportunities to satisfy his 
avarice and thirst for blood, now came himself to 
Jerusalem, and by his presence added fuel to the 


fire. Florus placed himself as judge in front of 
the palace of Herod, and called upon the high 
priest and the men of greatest standing to appear 
before him, demanding them to deliver into his 
hands those who had dared mock him. Trem- 
bling, they endeavored to offer excuses for what 
had taken place, and implored his mercy. But 
Florus heeded them not, and gave orders to the 
Roman soldiers to plunder the upper market-place, 
a quarter inhabited by the wealthy. Like very de- 
mons the wild soldiers threw themselves into the 
market and the adjoining streets, killed men, women 
and children, ransacked houses and carried off their 
contents. On that one day (i6th lyar), more than 
three thousand six hundred men perished. The 
prisoners, by the command of Florus, were scourged 
and crucified. In vain had the princess or queen 
Berenice knelt before Florus, imploring him to stay 
the work of bloodshed and destruction ; he was deaf 
to her entreaties, and in fear for her own safety she 
was obliged to seek refuge and safety in her palace. 
Some days after, vast crowds gathered in the now 
half-ruined upper town (Zion), uttering lamentations 
for those who had been killed and pronouncing 
execrations upon their murderer Florus, and it was 
not without much difficulty that the heads of the 
people succeeded in silencing them. But this only 
increased the audacity of Florus, who demanded, as 
a proof of their present peaceable intentions, that 
the people with the nobles should go forth to meet 
the incoming troops and welcome them in a friendly 
spirit. The representatives of the Sanctuary could 
hardly induce the people to comply with that request, 
for the patriots rebelled against the new humiliation 
thus thrust upon them, and persuaded many to share 
their sentiments. At length, however, the high 
priest succeeded in persuading the people to offer 
an amicable reception to the Roman cohorts. But 
soon the deceitful intention of the governor mani- 


Tested itself. The people fulfilled the heavy sacrifice 
they had with heavy hearts undertaken to perform, 
and greeted the troops with forced friendliness ; but 
the soldiers, having received their instructions from 
Florus, looked grimly at them and made no res- 
ponse. At the first murmur of discontent caused 
by the strange manner of the Roman troops, the 
latter rushed upon the people with drawn swords, 
driving them before them, whilst the horses trampled 
on the fugitives. A fearful crush took place at the 
gates of the city, and the road from Bezetha was 
strewn with the wounded and the killed. When it 
was perceived that the soldiers were directing their 
steps towards Fort Antonia and the Temple, the 
designs of Florus upon the treasures contained 
in it could no longer be concealed, and the people 
hastened to the Sanctuary to protect it, if possible, 
from his sacrilegious project. They threw stones 
at the soldiers, barred their passage through the 
narrow entrance, demolished the colonnade which 
connected the fortress Antonia with the Temple, 
and thus frustrated the governor's hope of becoming 
a second Crassus. Without being aware of it them- 
selves, the inhabitants of Jerusalem had by that step 
commenced the war of insurrection. 

Before the determined attitude of the people the 
courage of Florus forsook him. He informed the 
representatives of the capital that in order to restore 
peace to Jerusalem, he would quit the city and with- 
draw the greater number of the troops, leaving only 
a small garrison behind. Upon representations 
being made to him that the greater part of the army 
was hated by the people, on account of the inhu- 
manity of which it had been guilty, he bade them 
choose those soldiers who had taken least part in 
the recent butchery. The representatives of Judaea 
selected the soldiers who served under Metilius, 
whose weak disposition appeared to them a pledge 
of forbearance. But hardly had Florus left Jerusa- 


lem, when the heated ferment resolved itself into 
determined action. The people were divided into 
two parties, one was the party of peace, the other 
the party that favored revolution. The latter party 
was composed chiefly of the young and strong, who 
shared the views and principles of the Zealots. 
They were ready to risk their lives in their endeavor 
to overthrow the yoke of pagan, tyrannical Rome, 
and regain their cherished liberty. 

The revolutionary party was not devoid of states- 
manlike discretion ; it had already formed an alli- 
ance with the princely house of Adiabene, which 
was warmly devoted to Judaism, and had likewise 
managed to interest the Parthian-Babylonian com- 
munity in its cause. The advocates of war, bold 
and fearless, looked down upon their more timid 
brethren. Men of strength, filled with lofty aspir- 
ations, they swore a solemn oath to die rather 
than submit to Rome ; and well did they keep that 
oath in the raging war, under the hail of the cata- 
pults, tortured by the rack, and in the arena of 
wild beasts. The soul of the revolutionary party in 
Jerusalem was Eleazar ben Ananias, who belonged 
to a high-priestly family. He was well versed in the 
Law, and belonged to the strict school of Shammai, 
which generally agreed with the Zealots. 

On the side of peace were the followers of 
Hillel, who abhorred war on principle ; the nobles 
who were basking in the brilliant sunshine of 
Rome ; the wealthy, whose possessions would be 
exposed to jeopardy through so great a revolution 
all these, though smarting under the insolence 
of Florus, desired the continuance of the pre- 
sent state of things under the imperial power of 
Rome. The honest friends of peace, however, 
failed to perceive that the evil from which the Ju- 
daean community suffered did not depend upon 
any one person who might be accidentally in power, 
but upon the system of tutelage and robbery, and on 


the fundamental difference which existed between 
the foreign rulers and the people they governed. 
Even the best governors, those who truly desired 
to preserve order and peace, could not have pre- 
vented the susceptibility of the nation from being 
frequently wounded, nor the constant irritation of 
the people. 

The people, although aroused and embittered, 
appeared undecided, and paused before taking 
the final step, each party trying to draw the popu- 
lace to its side. The friends of peace, w'hilst they 
strove to moderate the anger of the masses, endeav- 
ored likewise to justify their revolt against Florus 
before the Syrian governor, Cestius, and to explain 
that Florus was in fault for the disturbance which 
had broken out. They acquainted Cestius with 
everything that had occurred, and begged him to 
come to Jerusalem to see with his own eyes the 
misery and ruin caused by the acts of the last gov- 
ernor, and to convince himself of the friendly de- 
meanor of its inhabitants. Cestius, too indolent to 
come and inquire into the matter himself, sent a 
deputy, Neapolitanus, in his stead. 

The leaders of the revolutionary party had, in 
the meantime, been so successful that the payment 
of taxes to Rome was withheld. The king, Agrippa, 
who, from motives of self-interest, was in favor of 
peace, called the people together, and attempted 
to open their eyes to the danger into which they 
were blindly running. Standing upon a high gallery 
opposite the Temple he spoke to the people. At 
his side was the Princess Berenice, who had inter- 
ceded for the injured and downtrodden, to cover 
him with the shield of her popularity. 

His speech, containing every argument that 
reason or sophistry could urge against war with 
Rome, made at first some impression upon the 
people. A great number of them cried out that 
they had no ill-will against the Romans, but only 


desired to be delivered from the yoke of Floras. 
Thereupon Agrippa exhorted the assembled mul- 
titude to show that they were really peacefully 
inclined by replacing the broken columns they 
had thrown down and paying the taxes due 
to the emperor. For the moment it appeared as 
though their angry feelings were about to subside. 
The shattered colonnade was to be repaired, and 
in the adjoining towns and villages taxes were 
gathered. "When Agrippa found what an advantage 
he had gained he went a step further, and tried 
to persuade the people to obey Florus as their 
governor until his successor should be appointed. 
But this last demand spoilt all. The revolutionary 
party again w r on the upper hand, and Agrippa 
was obliged to flee from Jerusalem. Those who 
had so often suffered from the cruelty and injustice 
of Florus, at the very mention of his name feared 
to become again his miserable dupes and the 
victims of cunning intrigue. After Agrippa's de- 
parture there was no question of taxes. Universal 
was the satisfaction at their abolition, and the tax- 
gatherers durst not confront the prevailing excite- 
ment by attempting to enforce their payment. 
The day on which it was resolved not to pay the 
taxes, the 25th Sivan (June), was henceforth to 
be kept as the anniversary of a victory. The 
Sicarii now also began to bestir themselves. 
They assembled under the command of Menahem, 
a descendant of Judas, the founder of the Zealots, 
and took the fortress of Masada ; they put its 
Roman garrison to death, possessed themselves of 
their weapons, and being thus well armed, appeared 
on the field of battle. 

Eleazar, the head of the Zealots, fanned the 
revolutionary spirit of the people, and drove them 
on to complete rupture with Rome. He dis- 
suaded the priests from receiving any presents or 
sacrifices from heathens, and so great was the 


power he exerted that the officiating priests discon- 
tinued offering the daily sacrifice for the emperor 
Nero. That was the starting-point of the revolu- 
tion. Allegiance to the emperor was thenceforth 
renounced. The party of peace saw also the grave 
importance of this step and tried to retrace it. 
Learned teachers of the Law, doubtless of the 
school of Hillel, explained to a large gathering of 
the people that it was unlawful to shut out the 
offerings of heathens from the Temple, and aged 
priests declared that it was an ancient custom to 
receive such offerings. The officiating priests, 
however, remained unconvinced, and threw them- 
selves without reserve into the maelstrom of revo- 
lution. From that time on, the Temple obeyed its 
chief, Eleazar, and became the hotbed of the insur- 

The advocates of peace saw with sorrow the pro- 
gress made by the rival party, and tried to smother 
the flames before they could accomplish the 
work of destruction and ruin ; but the means they 
employed to quench the revolutionary fire only made 
it burn the more fiercely. They sent deputies to 
Florus and Agrippa, earnestly entreating that a suf- 
ficiently large number of troops should be instantly 
despatched to Jerusalem. The former, actuated 
either by timidity or by the spirit of revenge which 
made him desire that the hated Judseans should be- 
come more and more hopelessly entangled, refused 
to comply with that request. Agrippa, on the other 
hand, sent 3,000 horsemen, Auranites, Batanseans, 
and wild Trachonites, under the command of Philip 
of Bathyrene, and Darius, a commander of cavalry, 
to help the party that wished to remain at peace 
with Rome. When these troops arrived, they found 
the Mount on which the Temple stood, as well as 
the lower town, already in the possession of the 
Zealots. The aristocratic quarter of the higher 
town alone remained open to them. A fierce com- 


bat took place between the two parties, the royal 
troops joining the few soldiers left of the Roman 
garrison. Fighting continued for seven days, with 
no decided results. 

At the time of the festival of wood-carrying (i5th 
Ab), however, the situation changed. The Zealots 
barred the entrance of the Temple against any one 
belonging to the peace party, and gained over to 
their side the masses who had brought wood for the 
altar, as well as the Sicarii who had made their way 
into the Temple through the crowd. Strengthened 
by the increase of numbers, the Zealots drove away 
their opponents and became masters of the upper 
town. The anger of the people was roused against 
the friends of Rome, they set fire to the palaces of 
King Agrippa and Princess Berenice, devoting to 
the flames likewise the house of the rich priest 
Ananias, and the public archives, among which the 
bonds of debtors were kept. Some of the partisans 
of Rome crept in terror into the sewers, while others 
took refuge with the troops in the western palace of 
Herod. Shortly after this the Zealots attacked the 
Roman guards in the fort Antonia, overcame them 
after a siege of two days, and put them to death 
(iyth Ab) ; they then stormed the palace of Herod, 
which was defended by the combined troops of 
Rome and Agrippa. After eighteen days of inces- 
sant fighting the garrison capitulated and the Ju- 
daean soldiers under Philip were allowed to depart 
unhurt. The Romans, too proud to sue for mercy, 
retreated to the three towers in the wall, Hippicus, 
Phasael, and Mariamne. The Sicarii under Mena- 
hem rushed into the fort after the Romans had left 
it, and killed all who had not been able to save them- 
selves by flight (6th Elul August). 

But the patriotic Zealots, the followers of Eleazar, 
were soon made aware of the injury their righteous 
cause must sustain from their fraternizing with the 
unrestrainable Sicarii. Puffed up by their victory 


over Agrippa's troops, Menahem and his satellites 
broke out into acts of shameful cruelty. Insulting 
pride now characterized Menahem's behavior ; 
words of anger were exchanged between him and 
Eleazar ; and as the former entered the Temple in 
the captured regal attire, the words became blows 
and fighting commenced. The Sicarii were besieged, 
and Menahem, who had fled to the part of the city 
called Ophla, was brought back and executed. A 
small number of his followers, under his relative 
Eleazar ben Jair, escaped to the fortress of Masada, 
which was occupied by their friends. After this 
bloody episode the Zealots, led by Eleazar, besieged 
the towers, and the Roman troops under the com- 
mand of Metilius were at last obliged to sue for 
mercy. The Judaeans deputed to treat with Metilius 
agreed that the Romans, deprived of their arms and 
baggage, should be allowed to depart unmolested. 
As soon, however, as the conquered soldiers were 
divested of their swords and shields, Eleazar's band 
fell upon them and destroyed them all. Metilius 
alone was spared, because in the fear of death he 
had promised to adopt the Judsean faith, and he was 
allowed to live an animated trophy of the victory 
of the Judaeans over the Romans. The day on 
which Jerusalem was delivered from the Romans 
(17 Elul) was henceforth to be considered one of the 
festive anniversaries. That the aim of Eleazar and 
his party was noble and disinterested was shown by 
the moderation they observed after their victory. 
The city was in their hands, their rivals helpless, 
and yet in the annals of those times we can discover 
no trace of persecution or cruelty towards them. 

Thus far the insurrection had been limited to 
Jerusalem, for the rest of Judaea, although equally 
excited, remained quiet during the events that were 
taking place in the capital, and awaited the result. 
Florus himself had likewise remained quietly at 
Caesarea, taking care, however, that the revolution 


should flow on like a stream of fire, carrying devas- 
tation all over the country, and even beyond its 
boundaries. When tidings of the battle between 
the Zealots and the Roman cohorts in Jerusalem 
reached Caesarea, the Greeks and Syrians attacked 
the Judaeans who had returned there. The carnage 
which ensued must have been fearful ; more than 
twenty thousand Judaeans were killed, and these, 
doubtless, did not succumb without, in self-defense, 
causing some other deaths. Not a single Judaean 
remained alive in Caesarea. Those who tried to 
flee were captured, put into chains by the com- 
mand of Florus, and sent as slaves to various ships. 
This unexampled cruelty exasperated the whole 
population of Judaea, and their hatred against the 
heathens broke out into wild frenzy. Everywhere, 
as though by common assent, bands of free troops 
formed themselves, attacking the heathen inhabi- 


tants of the country, burning, destroying, and slay- 
ing. These barbarous onslaughts, of course, called 
again for revenge from the heathen population of 
Judaea and Syria. Many towns were divided into 
two hostile parties, which savagely fought together 
during the day, and lay in ambush to injure each 
other at ni^ht. 


A horrible deed, resulting from the war of races, 
took place in the town of Bethshean, the first of 
a long series of acts of self-destruction of which 
we read in the account of the destruction of the 
Temple. Its heathen inhabitants had made a 
covenant with their Judaean fellow-citizens, promis- 
ing to befriend them if they would assist in 
repulsing any attack of Judaean bands upon their 
town. The Judaeans in Bethshean honestly fulfilled 
their agreement, fought vigorously against their 
brethren, and drove them away from the vicinity of 
the town. Among the combatants on that occasion, 
Simon ben Saul, a Judaean of gigantic strength 
and great valor, was principally distinguished. 


No sooner, however, were the heathen inhabitants 
delivered from their assailants than, under cover of 
the night, they fell upon the unguarded Judaeans, 
and put them all, nearly thirteen thousand, to death. 
In that fearful massacre Simon and his family 
alone survived, the former, wielding his drawn 
sword with the energy of despair, drove terror into 
the hearts of his enemies. Full of anguish and 


remorse at having fought against his brethren, he 
resolved to fall only by his own hand. After 
killing his aged parents, his wife and children, he 
thrust his sword into his breast and expired at 
their side. 

The violent animosity which inflamed the Ju- 
daeans and heathens in Caesarea also reached Alex- 
andria. A massacre of the Judaeans, partly due to 
the anger of an apostate, took place in the Egyp- 
tian capital. The Alexandrian Greeks, jealous of 
their Judaean fellow-citizens, resolved to solicit the 
Emperor Nero to deprive them of the rights which 
they had received from Claudius, putting them on 
a footing of equality with the Greeks. To select 
the deputies who were to convey their wishes to 
the emperor, a large concourse assembled in the 
amphitheater of the town. A few Judaeans being 
discovered among the crowd, they were fiercely 
attacked and insulted as spies. Three of them were 
dragged through the streets to be committed alive 
to the flames. Enraged at the savage treatment 

<^ <^ 

of their brethren, the Judaeans armed themselves, 
seized firebrands, and threatened to burn the 
amphitheater where the Greeks were still assembled. 
The governor Tiberius now attempted to interfere 
in order to stay the impending civil strife, but 
he only increased the angry ferment. The Ju- 
daeans hated him for being a renegade to his faith, 
and reproached him with his apostasy. Infuriated 
by their taunts, Tiberius Alexander lost all control 
over himself; he ordered his legions to repair to 


the Judsean quarter, and gave free license to the 
exercise of that brutality which it had cost so 
much effort to restrain. The soldiers, greedy for 
blood and plunder, poured in upon the beautiful 
Delta quarter of the town, killed all whom they found 
in their way, burned the houses, and filled the streets 
with blood and corpses. Fifty thousand Judseans lost 
their lives, and the man who ordered that frightful 
butchery was the nephew of the Judsean philosopher 
Philo ! 

Such was the alarming proportion which the 
insurrectionary movement by Eleazar ben Ana- 
nias had assumed. The revolution had tasted 
blood, and was drawn on and on in its hurried 
course till it carried away even the indifferent, and 
converted almost the whole nation into Zealots. 
From day to day the number of brave and daring 
warriors increased. The expected help now came 
from Adiabene and Babylon. Members of the 
royal house of Adiabene, brothers and sons of the 
King Izates, Monobazus and Cenedseus, took the 
management of the rebellion into their own hands, 
and prepared to hold out to the last. Three 
heroes, who alone seemed more than equal to a 
whole army, now entered Jerusalem. They were 
Niger, from the other side of the Jordan, Silas, the 
Babylonian, and Simon Bar-Giora, the wild patriot, 
who, from his first entrance to the end of the war, 
brought terror to the hearts of the Romans. 
Cestius Gallus, whose duty it was as Governor of 
Syria to uphold the honor of Roman arms, and to 
keep the imperial supremacy intact in the country 
placed under his jurisdiction, could no longer 
witness the rebellion spreading around him without 
an effort to stem its progress. He called his 
legions together, and the neighboring princes vol- 
untarily sent their troops to his assistance as auxil- 
iaries. Even Agrippa contributed three thousand 
foot soldiers and two thousand horsemen to the 


Roman army, and offered himself as guide through 
the mountain paths and ravines of that dangerous 
country. Cestius led more than thirty thousand 
men, experienced soldiers, out of Antioch, against 
Judaea, and doubted not that in one battle he would 
be able to destroy the Judaean rebels. On his way 
along the sea-coast he left in every town marks of 
blood and fire. 

As soon as the Zealots in Jerusalem heard of the 
approach of the Roman troops they seized their 
arms, in spite of its being the Sabbath day. They 
were not afraid to face the Romans, nor would they 
allow the Sabbath laws to interfere with their war- 
like ardor. Cestius had made a halt at Gabaot, 
about a mile from Jerusalem, expecting, perhaps, a 
missive of repentant submission. But the Zealots 
attacked the Roman army with such impetuosity 
that they broke through their ranks, killing in the 
first onslaught more than five hundred soldiers, 
whilst they only lost three and twenty men them- 
selves (26th Tishri October). If the Roman cav- 
alry had not come to the assistance of the foot 
soldiers, the latter would have been utterly destroyed. 
Loaded with rich booty, the victors returned to Jeru- 
salem, singing jubilant hosannas, while Cestius dur- 
ing three days remained idle in his camp without 
venturing to advance. 

It was only on the fourth day that the Roman 
army approached the capital. The Zealots had 
abandoned the outer parts of Jerusalem, which could 
afford them no adequate shelter, and had withdrawn 
behind the strong walls of the inner town behind 
the Temple. The Romans thereupon marched in, 
destroyed the suburb Bezetha, then pressed on 
towards the western point, just opposite Herod's 
palace, where they pitched their camp (soth Tishri). 
This caused no alarm to the Zealots ; they threw 
the traitors who, followino- the advice of Anan ben 


Jonathan, wished to open the gates to the enemy, 


over the walls, and prepared vigorously for the 
defense of the places they occupied. During five 
successive days the Romans stormed the walls, but 
were always obliged to fall back before the missiles 
of the Judseans. It was only on the sixth day that 
they succeeded in undermining a part of the north- 
ern wall in front of the Temple. But this advantage 
was not followed up by Cestius. He did not deem 
it advisable to continue the combat against heroic 
enthusiasts and embark on a lengthy campaign at 
that season, when the autumn rains would soon com- 
mence, if they had not already set in, and might 
prevent the army from receiving provisions. On 
that account probably he thought it more prudent 
to retrace his steps. It could hardly have been 
cowardice which inspired the resolve. 

As soon as the unexpected departure of the Ro- 
mans became known to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 
they followed them, attacking the rear and flanks of 
the army from the mountain crests, the Roman troops 
being obliged to keep to the beaten ways in the val- 
leys and passes. A great number of Romans, among 
whom were many distinguished officers, lay slain 
upon the line of march. When the army reached 
the camp in Gabaot, it found itself surrounded by 
swarming hosts of Judaeans, and Cestius, not con- 
sidering it safe to remain there any longer, hastened 
his retreat, leaving the heaviest part of the baggage 
behind. In the narrow pass of Bethoron the Roman 
army fared still worse ; attacked on all sides, it was 
brought into confusion and disorder, and the men 
could not defend themselves from the arrows of the 
enemy, which fell thick upon them from the vantage- 
ground of the mountain wall on either side. Wildly 
the Roman troops hurried on towards Bethoron, 
and they would have been almost completely de- 
stroyed in their flight had not approaching night 
saved them from further pursuit. 

The Judseans remained all night before Bethoron, 
but Cestius, leaving four hundred brave soldiers in 


the camp, marched noiselessly out with the whole 
of his army, so that at break of day, when the 
Judaeans perceived what had taken place, he had 
already obtained a considerable start. The four 
hundred soldiers left behind succumbed to the 
Judaeans, who then vainly followed the Roman army 
as far as Antipatris. They found, however, rich 
booty, consisting of arms and implements of war. 
These they brought back as trophies to Jerusalem, 
making good use of them later on against their 
enemies. The money chests of Cestius, which con- 
tained the supplies for the war, fell also into their 
hands, and helped to replenish the treasury at Jeru- 
salem. In this first campaign against the despised 
Judaeans the army of Cestius lost nearly six thou- 
sand men, both Romans and allies ; and the legion 
which the governor had brought from Antioch as a 
picked corps to fight against Jerusalem had lost 
their eagles, a loss which was regarded by Rome as 
the greatest dishonor that could befall an army, 
equivalent to a shameful defeat. 

The Zealots, shouting exultant war songs, returned 
to Jerusalem (8th October), their hearts beating 
with the joyful hope of liberty and independence. 
The proud and happy time of the Hasmonaeans 
seemed to have returned, and its glory even to be 
surpassed. Had not the great Roman army, feared 
by all the world, been defeated and forced to igno- 
minious flight ? What a change had been effected 
in the brief space of six months ! Then every one 
trembled before the cowardly Florus and his few sol- 
diers, and now the Romans had fled ! Had not God 
helped them as mercifully as He had helped their 
forefathers ? The hearts of the Zealots knew no 
fears for the future. "As we have beaten the two 
generals, Metilius and Cestius, so likewise shall we 
overcome their successors." Any one who spoke 
of submission to Rome or of the advantage of open- 
ing negotiations with her was looked upon as a 


traitor to his country and an enemy to Judaism. 
The advocates of peace had for the moment lost all 
influence, and the friends of Rome could not ven- 
ture to utter aloud their real sentiments. Many of 
them left Jerusalem secretly, whilst others pretended 
to share the Zealots' love of freedom and hatred of 
Rome. The two Herodian brothers, Costobar and 
Saul, sought the presence of the Emperor Nero in 
Greece, attempting to excuse the insurrectionary 
outburst and to throw the blame of it upon Florus. 
While they were trying to vindicate the fidelity of 
the Judaean nation, the Zealots, intoxicated with 
their victory, had coins struck with the inscription- 
" For the deliverance of Jerusalem." Even the 
Samaritans now put aside their old feeling of ani- 
mosity against the Judaeans, and to gratify their 
hatred of the Romans made common cause with 
their former enemies. 

Stirring activity took possession of the capital, 
and gave it quite a new appearance. Everywhere 
weapons were being forged and implements of war 
manufactured, in preparation for any fresh assault. 
The walls of Jerusalem were strengthened to a de- 
gree that promised to set the enemy for a long time 
at defiance. The young men underwent daily mili- 
tary exercise, and their enthusiasm made up for their 
want of experience. In all parts of Judaea the war- 
like patriots and foes of Rome formed provisional 
committees to prepare for the great struggle which 
they felt must be approaching, and their glowing 
ardor was shared even by the Judaeans who lived 
in foreign lands. 


Of the internal political arrangements introduced 
in Jerusalem after the defeat of Cestius, only slight 
and uncertain indications have come down to us. 
The historian friendly to Rome, who could not suffi- 
ciently darken the rebellion of the Judaeans, was not 
inclined to record any of their acts. There can be 
no doubt, however, that the Great Synhedrion again 


acquired its former supreme authority over all politi- 
cal and military affairs. At the head of the great 
council was Simon ben Gamaliel, of the House of 
Hillel, one who, even according to the account of his 
enemy, must have been gifted with remarkable dis- 
cernment and energy, and who might, had his advice 
been followed, have brought the impending struggle 
to a successful issue. Although he did not belong 
to the party of extreme Zealots, he desired the con- 
test to be carried on with the most resolute activity, 
and upheld, with all the strength given him by his 
eminence and position, those who were determined 
that the revolution should be real and its effects last- 
ing. Upon coins dating from the first and second 
years of the newly-won independence, appears the 
following inscription, " Simon, the Prince of Israel," 
which doubtless referred to the Patriarch Simon ben 

After the victory gained over Cestius, the 
heathens became more and more embittered against 
their Judsean neighbors ; and either from fear of 
an onslaught from them, or actuated by revenge 
for the defeat of the Romans, they formed them- 
selves into murderous bands, slaying without pity 
Judsean men, women and children who were living 
among them. Such cruel massacres must have 
incensed the patriots all the more, as they fre- 
quently occurred among communities innocent of 
the remotest idea of joining the rebellion, and now, 
as far as lay in their power, the Judaeans took 
their revenge upon their heathen neighbors. The 
savage enmity of races rose higher and higher, and, 
spreading far beyond the narrow boundary of Pales- 
tine, animated the Judaeans on the one side and 
the Greeks and Romans on the other. As all the 
nations around Judaea, including Syrians, Greeks, 
Romans and Alexandrians, made common cause 
with the Roman emperor, the ultra-Zealots thought 
themselves justified in visiting upon them the wrath 


that inflamed them against Rome. To cut off 
every link between them, the followers of the school 
of Shammai proposed erecting a barrier which 
should effectually prevent any communication, by 
prohibiting the Judaeans in future from buying 
wine, oil, bread, or any other articles of food from 
their heathen neighbors. These regulations were 
known under the name of " The Eighteen Things." 
Religious fervor and political zealotry, in those 
stormy times, always accompanied each other. 
The Hillelites, more moderate in their religious and 
political views, could not agree to such sharply de- 
fined exclusiveness, but when the Synod was called 
together to decide upon the laws before mentioned, 
the Zealots proved all-powerful. Eleazar ben 
Ananias, probably the leader of the Zealots, who 
was himself a teacher of the Law, invited the dis- 
ciples of both schools to meet in his house. Armed 
soldiers were placed at the door and were directed 
to allow every one to enter but no one to go out, 
and during the fiery discussions that were carried 
on there, many of the school of Hillel are said to 
have been killed. On account of these acts of 
violence, the day on which the severe decrees of 
the school of Shammai were brought forward and 
agreed to, the 9th Adar, was regarded as a day of 

Meanwhile, the warlike activity of the Judseans 
had not ceased for a moment. The urgent neces- 
sity of making a selection of generals and leaders 
for the approaching strife was felt by all. The 
important choice belonged, it appears, to the people 
themselves, who for some cause or other had taken 
umbrage at the ultra-Zealots. Eleazar ben Ananias, 
who had given the first impulse to the great up- 
rising, was only made governor of the unimportant 
province of Idumaea, and was even obliged to divide 
his authority with another. 

Eleazar ben Simon, an ultra-Zealot, who had 
been instrumental in gaining the victory over 


Cestius and who was the treasurer of the Temple, 
was, in spite of belonging to the class of nobles, 
completely overlooked. Moderate men, even those 
who had been formerly friends of Rome, obtained the 
preference. Joseph ben Gorion, and Anan the son 
of Anan, who for a short time had held the office of 
high priest, received posts of the greatest import- 
ance, the supervision of Jerusalem and the defense 
of the fortresses. Besides these, five governors were 
appointed over different provinces. To Joseph ben 
Matthias was entrusted the most important place of 
all. The people, still dazzled by the magic of 
aristocratic names, could not allow men of un- 
known origin, however brave and devoted they 
might be, to fill high political positions. The 
ruling power lay in the Great Synhedrion, and con- 
sequently in those who presided over that assembly, 
Simon ben Gamaliel and his associates Anan and 
Joseph ben Gorion. 

Simon was at the head of the Pharisees, and 
Anan, the former high priest, made no attempt to 
conceal his leaning towards Sadducaeism ; but their 
antagonism in religious matters did not prevent 
them from now acting together. The love of 
country outweighed the spirit of partisanship. The 
apparent unanimity that reigned in the Synhedrion 
was nevertheless deceptive. Great nobles, secret 
friends to Rome, had a place and voice in that 
assembly, and often brought indecision into its 
councils. Opposite and conflicting views resulted 
in halting measures and diminished vigor. The 
Synhedrion was likewise often swayed by the 
changing sentiments of the people, which always 
receive attention in the hour of revolution. Thus 
deprived of united strength and active energy, the 
Synhedrion ruled for barely two years, when it suc- 
cumbed through weakness, and was obliged to give 
up the reins to the ultra-Zealots. 



Description of Galilee Its Population and Importance The Rising 
in Galilee John of Gischala Flavius Josephus, his Education 
and Character His Conduct as Governor of Galilee Com- 
mencement of the War Overthrow of Gabara Siege and 
Capture of Jotapata Surrender of Josephus to the Romans - 
Cruelty of Vespasian Siege and Capture of Gamala and Mount 
Tabor Surrender of Gischala Escape of John of Gischala to 

6667 c. E. 

THE territory entrusted for defense to Joseph ben 
Matthias, by reason of its position, its astonishing- 
fertility, its sturdy population, and its various re- 
sources in time of danger, was looked upon as the 
post of greatest importance next to the capital ; it 
was, in fact, the bulwark of Jerusalem. Galilee was 
divided into Upper and Lower Galilee. This, the 
country of enthusiasts, the birthplace of the Zealot 
Judas and of Jesus of Nazareth, did not receive the 
news of the revolt of Jerusalem and the defeat of 
Cestius with indifference. It assumed, on the con- 
trary, with unreflecting ardor the juoilant spirit of 
the victorious party. And how could the Galilseans 
have remained indifferent ? Had they not witnessed 
the cruel deaths of their own kin at the hands of the 
heathen ? Daily they had been in the habit of giving 
shelter to unhappy Judaean exiles, and daily they 
had had to fear the worst from their heathen neigh- 
bors. It was in the face of such dangers that all the 
cities of Galilee had armed to be ready for action, 
and were only awaiting a signal from the Synhedrion 
in Jerusalem. Three cities above all others were 
lonoqnof to raise the standard of revolt Gischala 

O> ^5 

in the extreme north, Tiberias in the south, and 


Gamala, opposite Tiberias, on the eastern shores of 
the Sea of Galilee. The Judsean inhabitants of 
Gischala were, to a certain extent, forced into in- 
surrection, for the neighboring cities had banded 
together, and, after plundering the town, had partly 
destroyed it by fire. The enraged Gischalites placed 
themselves under the leadership of a man destined 
to carry on the war against Rome to its bitter end, 
and who, in company with Simon bar-Giora, became 
the terror of her legions. 

John ben Levi, of Gischala, commenced his career 
by collecting under his flag all the rebellious Ju- 
daeans of Upper Galilee, and by preparing to lead 
them against the heathen populace. He was a man 
of small means and of delicate constitution, but he 
possessed one of those enthusiastic natures capable 
of rising above the depressing influences of poverty 
and ill-health ; besides which he had the art of 
making the circumstances of his life subservient to 
his own aims. At the commencement of the Gali- 
laean rising, John's only ambition was to strengthen 
the walls of his birthplace against the attacks of 
hostile neighbors. Later on, he expended the con- 
siderable sums of money which he earned by selling 
oil to the Judaeans of Syria and Caesarea Philippi 
(for they would not use the unclean oil prepared by 
the heathens), in paying for the services of patriotic 
volunteers. He had gathered around him about 
four thousand of these, principally Galilseans, but 
partly refugees from Syria, who were always in- 
creasing in number. 

In Tiberias, the second focus of insurrection, the 
revolutionary party were confronted by a faction 
with Roman proclivities. This beautiful city by the 
sea had been in the possession of King Agrippa 
for many years, and having enjoyed a tolerably 
easy condition under his rule, had but little cause 
for complaint. But the greater part of the popu- 
lace were Zealots, clamorous to free themselves 


from their monarch. The soul of the revolt was 
Justus, the son of Pistus, who wrote the history of 
the war in which he was engaged, in the Greek 
language. He was gifted with a persuasive tongue ; 
but his great influence was confined to the wealthy 
and refined inhabitants of the city. Jesus ben Sap- 
phia, a Zealot like himself, led the lower classes of 
sailors and burden-carriers. Opposed to these in- 
surgents was the aristocratic party, which rallied 
loyally round the king and the Roman army. They 
were represented by Julius Capellus, Herod ben 
Miar, Herod ben Gamala, and Kompse bar Kompse, 
but they had no following amongst the people, and 
were obliged to become the unwilling spectators of 
the surrender of their city to the revolutionists. 

The news of the defeat of Cestius was the signal 
for Justis and Jesus ben Sapphia to commence 
operations against the heathen cities where their 
co-religionists had been so barbarously massacred. 
The city of Gamala, one of the most important on 
the southeast coast of the Sea of Galilee, whose 
impregnable position made defense easy and con- 
quest difficult, was preparing for revolt. 

In the neighborhood of Gamala lived a settle- 
ment of Judsean Babylonians, who, under Herod I, 
had migrated to Batanaea, where they had built 
several towns and the fortress of Bathyra. The 
Babylonians, for the colony was called by this name, 
were devoted adherents to the Herodian family, and 
Philip, a grandson of Zamaris, the first founder of 
the colony, was the leader of the royal troops who 
fought against the Zealots in Jerusalem. When, how- 
ever, he had suffered defeat in that city, his life had 
been spared, for he had promised to aid the Zealots 
in their struggle against Rome. He lay concealed 
for a few days in Jerusalem, and then effected his 
escape to a village of his own near the fortress of 

Varus, who temporarily was taking the place of 
Agrippa in Csesarea, did not look favorably upon 


Philip, of whose influence with the king he was 
jealous. For Varus hoped in time to supersede 
Agrippa, and, in order to court popularity, resorted 
to the cruel device of putting many Judseans in 
Caesarea Philippi to death. But all the while he 
dreaded the Babylonian colony and the wrath of 
Philip, who most certainly would divulge his ambi- 
tious designs to Agrippa. Thus he tried to lure 
Philip into his presence, but, happily for himself, that 
general was seized with a severe attack of fever, 
which he had caught in his flight from Jerusalem, 
and which prevented him from obeying the sum- 
mons of Varus. 

Varus succeeded, however, in tempting seventy 
of the most distinguished Judaeans into his power, 
the greater number of whom were murdered by his 
command. At the news of this assassination, terror 
seized upon all the Babylonian Judaeans who were 
settled in the various cities of Galilee. They rushed 
into Gamala for protection, breathing vengeance, 
not only against Varus, but against all the Syrians 
who had supported him. They were joined by 
Philip, who with difficulty restrained them from 
some signal act of vengeance. But even after 
Agrippa had dismissed the unscrupulous Varus 
from his office, the Babylonian Judaeans still evinced 
great eagerness to coalesce with the enemies of 
Rome, and were therefore ordered to leave the 
fortress of Gamala and return to Batanaea. But 
this caused so great a tumult and division in the 
city that some of the inhabitants rose and attacked 
the Babylonians who were about to leave them, 
whilst others, under the leadership of a certain 
Joseph, revolted from the rule of Agrippa. 

It was at this moment, when the volcano of revo- 
lutionary passions was ever ready to burst forth 
in fresh eruptions, that Joseph ben Matthias was 
entrusted by the Great Synhedrion with the com- 
mand of Upper and Lower Galilee. In those prov- 


inces the powerful city of Sepphoris alone remained 
faithful to the Romans, and in all Galilee there 
reigned a bitter feeling of enmity against Sep- 
phoris. For the people of Tiberias were angered 
that their city should have taken only a secondary 
place in the province, in spite of Agrippa II's 
having chosen it for his capital. It was the business 
of the governor to promote a spirit of concord 
amongst the inhabitants of Galilee, and at the same 
time to win the Sepphorites to the popular cause. 
Upon the shoulders of this man rested a heavy re- 
sponsibility. For it would naturally depend greatly 
upon him whether this revolt, which had burst into 
life with such extreme energy, would attain the end 
desired by the patriots, or would have a tragic ter- 
mination. Unfortunately, Joseph was not the man 
who could successfully pilot so gigantic a scheme, 
but by his conduct he materially contributed to the 
fall of the Judsean nation. 

Joseph, the son of Matthias, better known as 
Flavius Josephus, was a native of Jerusalem (born 
38, died about 95), of illustrious priestly descent, 
and related, on the female side, to the Hasmonaean 
house. He and his brother Matthias received a 
careful education, and were taught the tenets of the 
Law whilst very young, their father's house being 
frequented by learned rabbis. At the age of six- 
teen Josephus became the disciple of the hermit 
Vanus, following his master into the desert, living 
on the wild fruits of the earth and bathing daily in 
cold water, according to the habit of the Essenes. 
But, growing weary of this life, he returned, after 
three years, to Jerusalem, where his fine intellectual 
tastes led him to a profound study of Greek litera- 
ture. At the age of twenty-six he had occasion to 
undertake a journey to Rome, in order to plead for 
two imprisoned Pharisees, in the presence of the 
Empress Poppea, and he succeeded in obtaining 
their freedom. The Empress, who entertained a 


friendly feeling toward the Judaeans, loaded him 
with gifts. Rome itself could not fail to exercise a 
great influence upon the character of Josephus. 
The glitter of Nero's court, the busy life of the 
capital of the world, the immensity of all the im- 
perial institutions, so dazzled him that he thought 
the Roman emrjire would be an eternal one and 
that it was specially favored by Divine Providence. 
He did not see concealed beneath the purple and 
the gold the terrible disease of which that great 
empire was sickening. From that moment Josephus 
became a fervent adherent of the Roman rule. 

Filled with enthusiastic admiration for Rome, he 
must upon his return have found the proportions of 
Judaea humble and dwarfed. How sarcastically he 
must have smiled at the wild gestures of the frenzied 
Zealots who dreamt of expelling the Romans from 
Judcea ! Such an expectation appeared to him like 
the dream of a madman. With all the experiences 
that he had gathered in his travels he tried to shatter 
the revolutionary projects of the Zealots. But it 
was useless ; the people determined upon war, 
seized their weapons, and rose to revolt. Josephus, 
alarmed for his safety, took shelter with some of his 
adherents in the Temple, whence he emerged only 
upon hearing that the more moderate Zealots, under 
the leadership of Eleazer, were placed in control of 
affairs. Apprehensive that his well-known Roman 
proclivities might make him an object of suspicion, 
he simulated a desire for national liberty, whilst 
secretly rejoicing at the prospect of the advance of 
the Roman general Cestius, who, it was thought, 
would soon put an end to this mad struggle for 
freedom. But the result disappointed all his hopes. 
The retreat of Cestius resembled a defeat. 

Why Josephus, the devoted adherent of Rome, 
should have been entrusted with the governorship 
of the important province of Galilee is inexplicable. 
Probably his friend, the former high priest Joshua, 


son of Gamala, whose voice carried great weight in 
the Synhedrion, may have urged his claims, and 
Josephus' dissimulation may have led those about 
him to look upon him as a Zealot. But, at all 
events, the heroic bearing of the insurgents and the 
victory that they had gained over the army of 
Cestius, cannot have failed to make upon Jose- 
phus, as upon other plain and matter-of-fact Ju- 
daeans, a powerful impression. Entire separation 
from the empire of Rome appeared to him an 
impossible scheme ; but he may have hoped that 
some concessions were to be extorted from the 
imperial court ; that perhaps Judaea might be 
handed over to the control of Agrippa, and that he 
might be allowed to fill the post in Jerusalem. To 
Agrippa himself the revolt was not quite unwelcome, 
for he hoped to reap some benefit from it, and 
through the agency of Josephus he was able to act 
in a way which he himself could not have pursued as 
a vassal of Rome. Josephus had, in fact, been work- 
ing for Agrippa, and, in so far, there was nothing- 
dishonest or traitorous in his conduct. 

Two coadjutors, Joaser and Judah, were sent by 
the Synhedrion to assist Josephus. They were 
both learned in the Law, and were described by 
him, now as pure and clean-handed, and again as 
open to bribery. But they were quite unimportant 
and soon disappeared from the scene of action. 
At first Josephus seems to have been anxious to 
promote the revolutionary ardor of the Galilaeans. 
He called a kind of Synhedrion together, consisting 
of seventy men of repute, after the fashion of the 
great council in Tiberias. He appointed seven 
judges in each city, and officers of the law in dif- 
ferent parts of Galilee. He raised an army of a 
hundred thousand men, armed and drilled them 
according to the Roman system, and inculcated 
order and discipline amongst his soldiers, qualities 
indispensable to a nation of warriors, but less im- 


portant to a people enthusiastic for liberty. He 
even created a corps of cavalry and supported them 
from his own means. He surrounded himself with 
a body-guard of five hundred mercenaries, who were 
disciplined to obey a sign from their master. He 
began to fortify a number of cities in Upper and 
Lower Galilee ; and stored them with provisions. 
Thus he seriously contemplated the defense of his 
province against Rome. Upon his arrival in Galilee, 
either inspired by the Synhedrion or impelled by 
his own ardor, Josephus carried his religious zeal to 
the extent of ordering the destruction of the palace 
inhabited by his ancestor Herod during the time of 
Augustus, where images of animals were worshiped 
in direct defiance of the Law. In order to carry out 
this design he invited the most distinguished men 
of Tiberias to meet him at Bethmaon, but during 
their discussion Jesus ben Sapphia set fire to the 
palace and divided the spoil amongst his followers. 
This displeased Josephus, who hastened into the 
town of Tiberias, and gathering up what remained 
of the plunder, handed it over into the custody of 
King Agrippa's officers. 

Peculiarly repugnant to Josephus was John of 
Gischala ; his untiring energy and intellectual superi- 
ority were enough to awaken the jealousy of the 
former, although Josephus, as the representative of 
the Synhedrion, assumed the higher position of the 
two. He took pains to place obstacles in the way of 
the patriot. Thus John was at first not permitted to 
carry off and sell the large quantity of corn stored 
by the Romans in Upper Galilee, the sale of which 
was to have enabled him to complete the fortifi- 
cation of his own city. Joaser and Judah finally 
extorted from Josephus the requisite authorization. 
It was on this occasion that John of Gischala was 
made painfully aware of the duplicity of the gov- 
ernor, which for the future he determined to baffle. 
Certain youths of a village called Dabaritta, near 


Mount Tabor, had waylaid and plundered the wife of 
one of the king's agents who was traveling through 
the land, and they brought the precious metals and 
rich garments which they had taken from her to 
Josephus, then at Tarichea. Out of too great a 
regard for the king, Josephus undertook to return 
this booty to him, at the same time falsely pretend- 
ing that he had sent it to Jerusalem for the national 
treasury. The inhabitants of the neighboring vil- 
lages, roused to angry displeasure at the news of 
Josephus' treachery, assembled at Tarichea in 
crowds. They were led by Jesus ben Sapphia, who 
came with the holy Book of the Law in his hand, 
charging the people, if not for their own sakes, at 
least for the honor of their sacred writings, to 
punish the traitor. Josephus' house was surrounded 
at daybreak by a furious throng, who would have 
burnt it down over his head had he not saved him- 
self by one of his ingenious falsehoods. He rent his 
clothes, poured ashes upon his head, hung a sword 
round his neck, and appeared as a suppliant in the 
arena of Tarichea. As soon as he could gain a 
hearing he made the Taricheans believe that he was 
not keeping the spoil, either for the use of Agrippa 
or for the advantage of Jerusalem, but that it was to 
enable him to fortify the walls of their own city. 
The credulous Taricheans, who readily believed 
this explanation, now declared themselves in favor 
of Josephus, and turned their weapons upon the 
discontented strangers. The governor meanwhile, 
under cover of the tumult, crept back to his own 
house, where, however, he was soon roused by some 
hundreds of the infuriated crowd (not Taricheans), 
who were utterly intractable, and were bent upon 
the destruction of his dwelling-place. Nothing 
daunted, Josephus appeared upon the roof, and 
begged of the ringleaders to enter and give him 
some reason for their conduct. The men allowed 
themselves to be tempted within the doors, where- 


upon they were instantly seized, cruelly scourged, 
maimed, and then cast out to their followers, who, 
thinking Josephus must have some hidden force of 
men concealed within, departed in consternation. 
From that moment all hope of a manly defense of 
Galilee had to be abandoned. Josephus was like a 
demon of discord, to whose lot had fallen the task of 
promoting a spirit of harmony amongst the people. 
Galilee was divided into two parties, the one com- 
posed of the more moderate inhabitants of that 
province, who were the adherents of the governor, 
the other numbering the fiery patriots, who could 
no longer doubt his duplicity, and had selected John 
as their leader. The two leaders hated each other 
cordially, but equaled each other in craft and 

When John became aware that the greater num- 
ber of the Galikeans were under the impression 
that Josephus was a truthful and reliable man, and 
were supporting him with all their might, he sent 
his brother Simon, with a hundred chosen followers, 
to the Synhedrion at Jerusalem, there to lodge a 
complaint against the governor, begging of the Great 
Council to recall him from his post. The President 
of the Synhedrion, Simon ben Gamaliel, who was a 
friend of John, and who entirely discredited the 
sincerity of Josephus, as well as Anan, the former 
high priest, supported this charge, and decreed that 
four envoys be sent to Galilee, with orders that 
Josephus lay down his office, and that they be in- 
vested with the power of bringing him, alive or 
dead, to Jerusalem. The larger communities of 
Tiberias, Sepphoris, and Gabara were instructed by 
the Synhedrion to afford no protection to Josephus, 
who was an enemy to his country, but to support 
John of Gischala in his stead. 

Once more Josephus was in great peril. But, as 
usual, he saved himself by his own ready wit and 
crafty policy. On the one hand, he would not give 


up the post which had become dear to him ; and, on 
the other, he did not wish to disobey the orders of 
the Synhedrion. As soon as the decrees of the Great 
Council were made known to him, through his 
father, who was living in Jerusalem, he took his 
precautionary measures. He pretended to be in 
active preparation for a revolt from Rome, and 
perplexed the envoys by the evasive replies he 
gave them, assuring them, with a resigned air, when 
they ordered him to depart instantly for Jersualem, 
that he was more than ready to lay down his office. 
But all the while he was inciting the Galilaeans to 
hatred of the envoys, who, in traveling from one 
town to another, found that they were not further- 
ing their mission, but that, on the contrary, they 
were often in danger of being roughly handled by 
Josephus' friends. Weary of this useless journey- 
ing, the envoys, on the advice of John of Gischala, 
sent secret messengers throughout Galilee, declar- 
ing Josephus outlawed. A traitor revealed this 
resolution to the governor. With an energy 
deserving of a better cause, Josephus sent his 
troops to guard the passes leading from the 
Galilzean towns to Jerusalem, and had the messen- 
gers seized and brought into his presence. He 
then summoned all his devoted followers (who came 
streaming from all the small towns and villages of 
Galilee) to appear armed before him, and told them 
he was the victim of a fiendish plot. This was 
enough to lash them into a frenzy of rage, and they 
would have torn the envoys to pieces had not 
Josephus, with wonderfully assumed generosity, 
quieted their wrath. He then sent for some of the 
most simple-minded and credulous men of his 
province whom he easily persuaded into going to 
Jerusalem, there to extol his government, to en- 
treat of the Synhedrion to leave their beloved 
governor at his post, and to recall the hated envoys. 
Meanwhile, these latter, finding they could achieve 
nothing in Upper Galilee, withdrew from that part 


of the province and appeared in Tiberias. But 
Josephus was there before them, ready to frustrate 
all their plans. In their extreme vexation and per- 
plexity, they had commanded the people to keep a 
day of fasting and humiliation, when prayer was to 
be offered up for Divine help, without which no 
earthly weapons were of avail. The people answered 
to this call by assembling in great numbers in the 
arena of Tiberias, a place capable of holding many 
thousands. Although every one was supposed to be 
unarmed, Josephus and his soldiers managed to 
conceal weapons under their cloaks. Prayers for 
Divine help were followed by angry discussions ; at 
last, words gave place to action, and Josephus' fol- 
lowers, drawing their arms, rushed frantically upon 
his enemies. The populace sided with Josephus, 
who was once more saved from deadly peril. Mean- 
while, the Galikean messengers who had been sent 
to Jerusalem produced so favorable an impression 
for Josephus in that city, that the envoys were re- 
called, and the governor reinstated in his official 
post. Josephus revenged himself upon his enemies 
by sending the envoys back to Jerusalem in chains, 
thus treating the Synhedrion with contempt. 

But whilst he was bringing civil war upon Galilee, 
contempt upon the Synhedrion, disunion amongst 
the patriots, whilst he was urging the important city 
of Tiberias to rebellion, the Galilsean capital, Sep- 
phoris, with its Roman proclivities, had ample 
time to make overtures to the Empire. Josephus 
must bear the eternal opprobrium of having un- 
manned and broken the one strong bulwark of 
Judaea, the vigorous and warlike Galilee, and this he 
accomplished through indecision, egotism, want of 
tact, and above all, his extraordinary duplicity. He 
certainly did strengthen some of the fortresses, or 
rather he did not prevent their garrisons from 
doing so, but when the Romans appeared in the 
land they found neither an army nor a nation to 


oppose them. Every fortress had to depend upon 
its own resources. The Galilseans, without confi- 
dence in their leader, and exhausted by constant 
strife, were becoming self-seeking if not cowardly. 

It would indeed be difficult for us to believe the 
numerous instances recorded of craft and duplicity 
on the part of Josephus, had he not dwelt upon them 
himself with unexampled shamelessness. All that 
had been gained during the four months' rebellion 
in Jerusalem was lost during the five fatal months 
of his governorship of Galilee (from Nov., 66, to 
March, 67), and this was before the enemy had even 
threatened to appear, for the Romans during that 
time had been inactive in Judaea. The Emperor 
Nero was courting popular favor in Greece, by ap- 
pearing in the arena as singer, player, and charioteer. 
Whilst engaged in these engrossing pursuits, there 
came upon him like a thunderbolt the news of the 
rising in Judaea and the defeat of the Roman army 
under Cestius. Nero trembled, for the revolution 
in Judaea might be the precursor of grave events. 
The emperor was then apprised of the death of his 
general Cestius, and none could tell whether he had 
met with a natural death, or had died heartbroken 
at his defeat. 

Nero selected as his successor Flavius Vespasian, 
who had won his laurels fighting against the Britons, 
and who was known to be one of the ablest generals 
of his time. But so great was the alarm felt at the 
Judoean rebellion and its possible consequences, that 
Licinius Mucianus was chosen as special governor 
of Syria, and ordered to quell all dangerous symp- 
toms of disaffection that might appear among the 
Parthians. Vespasian was not in the emperor's 
favor at that time, and Nero would far rather have 
given some other general his post ; but the emperor 
had no choice, for the ability of Vespasian was un- 
questionable, and Judaea required a strong hand. 
Vespasian started from Greece in the winter season, 

CH. X. 


and commenced his preparations for the campaign 
in Ptolemais. His son Titus, who first won re- 
nown in fighting against the Judaeans, brought two 
legions from Alexandria, the fifth an^ tenth, those 


wild Decumani whose cruelty, alread 
by the Alexandrian Judaeans, was no 
time to be felt by their Palestinean br 
pasian was met in Ptolemais by all w 

express their 
sister Berenice. 




Tyrians of being in secret league v 

of fri 

otljerScame i 
Atfrippa had beejn a 


Judaeans, and was therefore reg 
suspicion by Vespasian ; but he 
of his troops as a 

beautiful sister Bereni 


having passed her firs t\ youth, cap 







r for the first 
thren. Ves- 
10 wished to 
towards the 
ppa with his 
used by the 
he rebellious 
with some 
t the head 
whilst his 
spite of 


eral's son Titus, and kc 
years to come. 

Vespasian's army, consisting o J<bman troops 
and mercenaries, amounted to mt>re than 50,000 
men, besides the countless horde that was in the 
habit of following in the wake of armies. Early in 
the spring the army was equipped, and the cam- 
paign began by the despatch of small bands to 
clear the way of Judaean scouts, on the roads lead- 
ing to the fortified places. Vespasian, far more 
prudent than his predecessor Cestius, instead of 
displaying great energy, carried on the campaign 
from beginning to end with extreme caution, seek- 
ing to cut the ground, step by step, from under his 
enemies' feet. Josephus and his troops were slowly 
but surely driven back ; in open battle he was often 
shamefully defeated, for his men had no confidence 
in his generalship, and his army literally melted 
away at the sight of the enemy. With how dif- 
ferent a spirit were the followers of John of Gischala 
inspired ! As soon as the hostile forces approached 
Jotapata, the inhabitants of that city offered des- 


perate resistance, and although they could not break 
through the serried ranks of the Romans, they 
fought so bravely that they put the vanguard to 

Vespasian determined upon effecting the subjec- 
tion of Galilee before turning his steps towards the 
capital, and to accomplish this purpose he marched 
upon the fortresses in the north of that province, 
Gabara and Jotapata. The first, insufficiently forti- 
fied, was soon taken and burnt. The entire popu- 
lation of the garrison were put to the sword, to 
avenge the defeat of the Romans at Jerusalem. 
The unfortunate inhabitants of the entire district 
suffered a similar fate, for they were either cruelly 
butchered or sold into slavery. The war now became 
one of revenge and extermination. But Josephus 
remained far from the scene of action in his capital 
at Tiberias, which at his flight thither was filled with 

Josephus would gladly have gone over to the 
enemy, but some remote feeling of shame prevented 
him from taking this unpardonable step at the 
beginning of the war. He proceeded to lay a state- 
ment of the condition of his unhappy province before 
the Synhedrion, demanded instruction as to his 
movements, whether he was to resist the enemy 
(in which case he would require reinforcements), or 
whether he was to enter into negotiations with Ves- 
pasian. The province of Galilee, although far more 
thickly populated than Judaea, counting more than 
three millions of souls, now already required military 
aid, so terribly had it been weakened by Josephus' 
inefficient management. 

Vespasian marched from Gabara to Jotapata, but 
his troops had to make their way with the greatest 
difficulty, for the Judseans had endeavored to bar 
the narrow passes and render the road impassable. 
The rock upon w r hich the fortress of Jotapata was 
built is surrounded by steep and lofty hills, from 


which it is separated by abrupt precipices. There 
existed only one practicable entrance to the for- 
tress, and this was on the north side, but it was 
firmly protected by a high wall bristling with towers. 
Upon this wall were gathered all possible instru- 
ments for repelling the enemy ; great pieces of 
rock, slings for throwing stones, bows and arrows, 
and weapons of countless sorts. Against this one 
approach all the efforts of the Romans were 
directed. They confronted it with sixty storming 
machines, from which, in one uninterrupted volley, 
poured spears, stones, and slings containing ignitible 
matter. But the besieged fought with such bitter- 
ness, and with such cool contempt of death, that 
even the Romans grew weary. The Galilseans not 
only repulsed the storming parties, and often 
destroyed their machinery, but they also made suc- 
cessful sorties. The siege lasted more than forty 
days, when at last, through the treachery of a Gali- 
laean, the fortress fell. Thus the Romans were able 
to surprise the besieged at daybreak, when they 
fell upon the exhausted sentinels, and then put the 
garrison to the sword. Many, however, of their 
devoted victims, rather than fall into the hands of 
their terrible adversaries, sought death by flinging 
themselves over the walls, or by falling on their 
own weapons. Forty thousand men lost their lives 
in this siege, and more than a thousand women and 
children were sold into slavery, whilst the fortress 
was razed to the ground. But Jotapata had shown 
her unhappy country how to fall with honor and 
glory. A few days previously Japha (Japhia) had 
been taken, its men, both old and young, slaughtered, 
and its women and children sold as slaves. 

Josephus had been actually within the walls of 
the fortress of Jotapata throughout the siege. He 
had arrived from Tiberias at the first news of the 
enemy's approach, and placed himself at the head of 
the garrison. But divining rightly enough that all 
resistance would eventually prove hopeless, he had 


attempted to abandon his people, and had only been 
prevented from doing this by the besieged. When 
the Romans entered the fortress, Josephus sought 
concealment in a huge cistern, in which hiding-place 
he found forty of his own soldiers. When their 
retreat was discovered, Josephus was called upon to 
give himself up to the Romans. This exactly coin- 
cided with his own wishes, as his person was to be 
protected ; but his companions, pointing their swords 
against his breast, swore that sooner than allow him 
to dishonor the Judseans by his cowardice they would 
instantly take his life. Entirely at their mercy, he 
consented to their proposal that they should all die 
then and there. Each soldier swore that he would 
fall by the hand of one of his companions, and each 
in turn fell heroically. But Josephus broke his 
word to the dead as he had broken it to the living. 
He and one comrade being the only survivors, 
he succeeded, partly by persuasion and partly by 
force, in disarming his companion, and in delivering 
himself into the hands of the Romans. Vespasian 
treated him with extreme courtesy, as if he had 
never looked upon him as an enemy. Although he 
bore the semblance of a prisoner, he was allowed 
to wear a robe of honor. Vespasian loaded him 
with presents, Titus was his constant companion, 
and he was permitted to select a wife from the cap- 
tive maidens. 

Joppa's turn to fall before the conquerors soon 
followed upon that of Japha and Jotapata, whilst 
the people of Tiberias, thoroughly discouraged by 
the conduct of Josephus, were not long in opening 
the gates of their city to the Romans. 

Thus, one year after the revolt in Jerusalem, the 
greater part of the province of Galilee, which had 
defended itself with all the fire of patriotism, with all 
the zeal of a free country, and with all the enthu- 
siasm of its faith, was ruined, depopulated, and more 
thoroughly than ever made subject to its conquerors. 

It was upon this occasion that Agrippa proved 


that his conduct to the Judaeans was not solely in- 
fluenced by his fear of the Romans. For Vespasian 
gave him free control over them in his own pro- 
vince, and he chose to sell those unfortunate people 
into captivity, when he might either have chastised 
them or given them their liberty. 

The Galilaean Zealots were in possession of only 
three fortified places Gamala, Mount Tabor, and 
Gischala in the extreme north. Joseph of Gamala 
and Chares were the leaders of the insurgents in 
Gamala. All in vain had one of Agrippa's officers 
besieged the place for some months ; the Zealots 
held out, until at last Vespasian with his force ap- 
proached the fortress. The story of the siege con- 
stitutes one of the most heroic pages in the whole 
account of the war. For many days the besieged 
fought from their walls in a manner worthy of the 
first great Zealot Judas. At the end of three weeks 
the battering-rams of the Romans opened a breach 
in the walls, through which the enemy crept. As 
the besieged retired, their assailants followed them 
into a labyrinth of narrow streets, and found them- 
selves suddenly attacked from the house-tops. The 
Romans tried to save themselves by clambering on 
some low-roofed houses, but these were too weak 
to bear their weight and gave way, burying the men 
in their ruins. The besieged then seized upon huge 
stones their whole city, so to speak and hurled 
them upon their enemies' heads, so that flight was 

This victory, falling upon the Feast of Taber- 
nacles, was a glorious day for the men of Gamala ; 
but it was dearly bought, for the corpses of the 
Romans lay upon the bodies of many Judsean 
warriors, who could ill be spared. Chares, one of 
their leaders, was mortally wounded. At last the 
Romans, after secretly mining one of the fortified 
towers, made a feint of attacking it ; the Judaeans 
rushed to the battlements, and were preparing for 
defense, when the walls gave way and fell with a 


fearful crash, burying the besieged, amongst whom 
was the sole remaining leader, Joseph, the son of 
the midwife. The siege was now practically over, 
for the Romans poured in, and slaughtered every 
man they met. Nearly five thousand died by their 
own hands ; only two maidens were left out of the 
whole population of Gamala. 

Meanwhile the fortress of Mount Tabor was 
taken by the strategy of Placidus. It stood isolated 
on an almost perpendicular height, rising sixteen 
hundred feet from the plain of Jezreel. From its 
position it was invincible. But Placidus tempted 
the greater part of the garrison out of the fortress 
by feigned flight. When his pursuers were close 
upon him, his cavalry wheeled around and threw 
themselves upon the unfortunate Judseans, of whom 
some few fled to Jerusalem, whilst the weakened 
fortress opened her gates to the enemy. 

The small city of Gischala, garrisoned by very 
few men, under the leadership of John, could not 
possibly hold out against the Romans. Upon the 
approach of Titus, John begged for a twenty-four 
hours' truce before the capitulation of his fortress, 
ostensibly to preserve the sanctity of the Sabbath. 
Upon the acquiescence of the Roman general, he 
made his escape from the city, followed by many 
thousands of his people. On the morrow Gis- 
chala capitulated, her gates were thrown open, and 
her walls razed to the ground. But, indignant at 
the conduct of the Judaean leader, Titus ordered 
him to be hotly pursued. John succeeded, how- 
ever, in reaching Jerusalem with a remnant of his 
army, whilst numbers of fugitives of both sexes and 
of every age were captured and massacred by the 
Roman soldiery. This was the last death-struggle 
of besieo-ed Galilee. But the Romans were so 


thoroughly exhausted by those desperate en- 
counters, and their ranks were so much thinned by 
their long warfare, that Vespasian was obliged to 
declare a truce to hostilities. 



Galileean Fugitives in Jerusalem Condition of the Capital Internal 
Contests The Idumasans Eleazer ben Simon, John of Gischala, 
and Simon Bar-Giora Progress of the War Affairs in Rome 
Vespasian created Emperor Siege of Jerusalem by Titus 
Heroic Defense Famine Fall of the Fortress Antonia Burning 
of the Temple Destruction of the City Number of the Slain. 

67-70 c. E. 

JERUSALEM was the rallying point of all the Gali- 
Isean fugitives. Thither many thousands had been 
brought by John of Gischala, and thither numbers 
fled from Tiberias ; there, where the last stroke of 
the nation's destiny was to fall, patriotism, ambition, 
revenge, and despair were all duly represented. 
The Galilaean Zealots' burning account of their 


desperate resistance to the Roman arms, and of 
the massacre of the weak and defenseless by the 
soldiers of Titus, had stirred the blood of the people 
of Jerusalem. The despondent drew fresh courage, 
and the fearless still greater ardor from the words of 
these enthusiasts. The defenders of their country, 
daily growing in numbers, and heroic in deed as 
well as in word, considered themselves invincible. 
When the Zealots looked upon the fortresses of 
their capital, the last shadow of alarm melted away. 
The Romans, they declared, must have wings to 
take those walls and those towers* whose defenders 
were iron-hearted men. Had it not cost Rome a 
desperate struggle to conquer Galilee ; what then 
had the strongly fortified capital to fear? This 
overwrought condition of the Judaeans was stimu- 
lated by their ardent belief that the Messianic period, 
so long foretold by the prophets, was actually dawn- 


ing, when every other nation of the earth would be 
given into the dominion of Israel. In spite of the 
loss of Galilee and of its brave defenders, coins 
were struck, bearing this inscription : " In the first 
or second year of the deliverance or freedom of 
Israel," and on the reverse side : " Simon, Prince 
of Israel." But the Zealots were indulging in fatal 
self-confidence, almost as dangerous to their cause 
as the treachery of Josephus and the conquest of 

Never had Jerusalem been so populous, so beau- 
tiful, and so strong as at the moment when she was 
doomed to destruction ; it was as if she was to 
learn the bitter lesson that outward strength and 


outward glory alone are of but little avail. Within 
the fortifications, the circumference of Jerusalem 
was nearly one geographical mile in extent, embra- 
cing the suburbs of Bethany and Bethphage, where 
the worshipers who came up thrice a year to the 
holy city found shelter. It is difficult to compute 
the exact population of Jerusalem. From one 
source we learn that it contained six hundred 
thousand souls ; but then we must further take into 
account the numbers that had streamed into the 
city for protection. 

The Zealots had not succeeded in imparting their 
enthusiasm to the inhabitants of the country towns ; 
many of the wealthiest and shrewdest, seeing no 
possible advantage to themselves in the continua- 
tion of the war, were ready to capitulate. Thus 
only the very young and men of no worldly posi- 
tion devoted themselves to the cause of the revo- 
lutionists. Every community, every family, was 
divided against itself, some clamoring for war and 
others demanding peace ; but as the former had no 
rallying point in their own towns, they all sought 
kindred spirits in Jerusalem, and increased the 
number of Zealots in that city. The fortress of 
Masada alone, commanded by Eleazer ben Jair, was 


a hotbed of insurgents ; it was the Jerusalem of the 
Sicarii, who were strengthened by the leadership of 
Simon Bar-Giora. This man, who was to play a 
leading part in the war, was remarkable for his 
physical strength, and distinguished for his reckless 
courage, a quality which did not desert him until 
his last breath. At the flight of the Roman troops 
under Cestius he followed amongst the very first 
upon the heels of the fugitives. He then gath- 
ered a number of free-lances about him, and led 
a wild life in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, 
namely in Acrabattine. When the inhabitants of 
that district complained in Jerusalem that he im- 
periled their safety, the moderate party of the Zea- 
lots sent a troop against him, obliging him to take 
refuge in Masada. It was from this place that he 
and the Sicarii undertook armed expeditions into 
Idumaea for the purpose of cattle-lifting and forage- 
hunting. This roused the Idumaeans to retaliate by 
opposing his force with a large army numbering 
twenty thousand men. These rival hosts outdid 
each other in patriotism, fierce courage, and reck- 

The stream of patriots daily pouring into Jeru- 
salem fanned the excitement and warlike energy 
of the inhabitants, embittered as they were by Jose- 
phus' duplicity and defection. For, as long as the 
Judaeans believed that he was buried under the 
ruins of Jotapata, his name was mentioned with 
reverence, but as soon as the tidings spread that he 
was in the Roman camp, and treated with consid- 
eration by the Roman generals, their feelings of 
pity were changed into violent hatred. The ultra- 
Zealots were filled with suspicion and distrust, and 
they looked upon all who were not in favor of ex- 
treme measures as traitors to the cause. 

Eleazer ben Simon, the leader of the Zealots, and 
a man of great penetration, nursed a special feeling 
of hatred against the Synhedrion, a body that bound 


him, valiant and aspiring patriot as he was, to a life 
of inaction. And who presided in the Synhedrion ? 
Josephus' friend and chosen companion, Joshua ben 
Gamala, who had not attempted to depose the Gov- 
ernor of Galilee, even when his duplicity was clearly 
proved. And who was the treasurer? Antipas, a 
Herodian, a near relative of King Agrippa. Was it 
not more than likely that the Synhedrion and the 
Herodians would throw open the gates of their city 
at the approach of the Romans ? This was the pre- 
vailing feeling of the Zealots, and they believed 
themselves strong enough to take the government 
into their own hands, and by desperate exertions to 
prosecute the war undisturbed. 

It was not surprising that from day to day the 
feeling of enmity between the Zealots and the more 
moderate Synhedrists should grow in intensity, for 
it was a war of life and death in which they were 
engaged. Matters were brought to a crisis by the 
Zealots falling upon and imprisoning those persons 
whose relationship to the royal house and whose 
doubtful opinions seemed to proclaim them to be 
secret conspirators. But they did not halt at this 
step. They degraded those belonging to the family 
of the high-priest from their position, and replaced 
them by representatives chosen from the people. 
They determined upon divesting the high-priest of 
his office (of late years the Romans had held the 
conferring of this dignity in their own hands), and 
raising to this exalted rank an unknown priest of 
the name of Phineas ben Samuel, of the city of 
Aphta. It was said of Phineas, probably to dis- 
parage him, that he had originally been a stone- 
mason or an agriculturist. He was brought by the 
Zealots with due solemnity from his homely sur- 
roundings, was invested with the priestly garments, 
and was materially aided by his rich friends to main- 
tain the dignity of his state, whilst Matthias ben 
Theophilus, who had been chosen high-priest by 


Agrippa, was deposed. The Synhedrists, whose 
leaders belonged principally to the high-priesthood, 
and who looked upon the instalment of Phineas as 
an outrage to their sacred calling, were beside them- 
selves with indignation at this step. Anan, whose 
audacity of speech and great wealth entitled him 
to a prominent position in the Synhedrion, induced 
the citizens of Jerusalem to rebel, and to attack the 
Zealots sword in hand, and thus the civil war com- 
menced. The moderate party, who were numeri- 
cally the stronger, drove their antagonists step by 
step out of every district of the city up to the Mount 
of the Temple, where they forced them to take 
refuge within the second wall of the citadel. Mean- 
while, a rumor spread that Anan had called upon 
the Roman general for help. This was enough to 
bring John of Gischala with his troops to the gates 
of the capital. Twenty thousand Idumaeans, men 
who rejoiced in an appeal to reckless and savage sol- 
diery, under the leadership of John, Simon, Phineas, 
and Jacob, appeared likewise before Jerusalem, 
ready to wield their swords in favor of the Zealots 
who were besieged in the Temple. Anan prepared 
for the assault by barring the gates and doubling his 
sentinels. But in the ensuing night his troops 
were seized with a panic. A terrific storm of 
thunder, liq-htnino-, and drenching rain ra^ed over 

o <j fj ^> 

Jerusalem. The Idumaeans, men of bold character 
and hardy nature, did not flinch from their posi- 
tion, but many of the sentinels en the walls sought 
shelter from the viole-nce of the elements and de- 
serted their posts. The ever-watchful Zealots within 
the fortifications were thus able to communicate with 
their Idumaean allies and to effect their entrance. 
The besiegers threw themselves upon some of the 
unsuspecting watch, whilst the Zealots overpowered 
others. The citizens w r ere roused to arms and a 
terrible battle ensued. The moderate party laid 
their weapons down in despair, as the Idumaeans 


pouring into the city massacred all those whom they 
suspected of being friendly to Anan. The morning 
sun dawned upon a hideous mass of corpses, for 
more than 8000 dead bodies were found in the city. 
The Zealots were now the victors, and their 
reign of terror began. They committed to trial, 
not without some show of justice, and then executed, 
all persons suspected of having been concerned in 
the conspiracy. Anan and Joshua ben Gamala 
were necessarily amongst the victims, and the bit- 
terness which was felt towards them was so great 


that their unburied bodies were thrown to the doQfs. 


The Synhedrion naturally ceased to exist, so many 
of its members having been executed ; but a new 
Synhedrion seems to have been called into being 
by the Zealots, no longer of aristocratic and high- 
priestly elements, but rather of a democratic order, 
also numbering seventy members. 

The Idumaeans were as heartily disliked by the 
Zealots as they were by the moderate party, and 
many of them were courteously persuaded to with- 
draw from Jerusalem. Meanwhile the reign of 
terror continued, and amongst others fell Niger, the 
hero from Peraea, probably because he had upheld 
the Synhedrists. In fact, this one case corroborates 
the general rule that every revolution devours its 
originators. For Niger was one of those who had 
strained every nerve to support the first rising 
amongst the Judaeans, and his death was a blot upon 
the rule of the Zealots. In order to check the 
anarchy which followed the overthrow of the Syn- 
hedrion, John of Gischala threw himself boldly into 
the front ranks, and was warmly supported by the 
Galilaean fugitives. His heroic bearing soon secured 

^ -j 

him the following of the most fiery of the Judaeans, 
whose devotion to himself rivaled that of his own 
Galilaeans. John was born to be a leader of men ; 
for not only was he dauntless as a commander, but 
he excelled others in penetration and fertility of 


invention. This superiority naturally awakened the 
jealousy of the Zealot leaders in Jerusalem, who 
were not a little afraid of his becoming sole dictator 
and lawgiver. 

Meanwhile the Romans were remaining abso- 
lutely quiet. Vespasian was far too prudent to 
attack the lion in his lair, in spite of the repeated 
assurances of his followers that the conquest of 
Jerusalem would be an easy task. He chose to wait 
until the Judseans, weakened by their internal strife, 
would be entirely at his mercy. His troops, after 
spending an inactive winter (67-68), opened a new 
campaign in the spring against Peraea and many dis- 
tant parts of Judaea, where thousands were slain 
in obstinate and hard fighting. Vespasian returned 
to Caesarea at the end of this campaign, and left 
Jerusalem undisturbed for two years. He was led to 
this course by two different events : the fresh out- 
burst of civil war in Jerusalem, the death of Nero, 
and the fact that his successor had been chosen and 
triumphantly installed by the Spanish and Gallic 

The lawless Simon Bar-Giora, who had kindled 
the war in Jerusalem, could not rest in Masada, 
where the Sicarii had received him, for he was 
ambitious and eager for action. Thus he left the 
fortress, and collecting a number of slaves, to whom 
he held out promises of freedom and plunder, 
appeared before Jerusalem, ready to play an im- 
portant part in the war. But the Zealots were 
afraid of him, and wished to make him powerless. 
They did not dare meet him in open battle, for 
he had already been their conqueror ; so they 
waited in ambush, and made his wife and some 
of his soldiery prisoners, hoping to crush him by 
this cowardly action. But Bar-Giora was a stern- 
hearted warrior, and, in retaliation, threw himself 
upon the defenseless Judaeans who ventured outside 
the walls to procure the necessaries of life. The 


Judaeans, alarmed at this revenge, sent back his 
wife, while Bar-Giora was more determined than 
ever to make himself master of the capital. Day 
and night he waited and watched for some means 
of ingress, and at last he obtained what he wished 
through the party of the aristocrats. 

In spite of the loss of their most prominent men, 
this party had not really ceased to exist, but was 
secretly working to destroy the power of the Zealots. 
At their head stood the high-priest Matthias, the 
son of Boethus, and others belonging to the great 
priestly families. They knew how to enlist upon 
their side many of the populace who were unable 
to leave the city, and who were afraid of the con- 
sequences of the civil war. In league with the 
Idumseans, they suddenly made a well-directed 
attack upon the Zealots, over whom they gained a 
signal, but only a momentary advantage, for, recov- 
ering themselves from this defeat, the Zealots 
assembled upon the Mount of the Temple, and pre- 
pared to show a bold front to their opponents. 
The latter, much discomfited, appealed to Bar- 
Giora for assistance, and thus a fatal division was 
brought within the very walls of Jerusalem. 

With the entry of this commander, civil war 
began in its most terrible form. Bar-Giora com- 
manded his followers to surround the Mount of the 
Temple, where the Zealots lay entrenched. From 
the galleries and from the roofs the besieged were 
able not only to defend themselves, but also to 
repulse their assailants. In spite of his impatience, 
Bar-Giora was obliged to withdraw and to take up 
a safer position in the town. 

Vespasian, who was informed of all these move- 
ments, quietly bided his time, convinced that the 
losing side would sooner or later demand his help, 
and that then victory would be easy. He felt indis- 
posed, through various circumstances, to undertake 
a long and difficult siege, but was inclined rather to 


keep his hands free for the final struggle. Nero 
had ended his shameful life with a shameful death 
(68), and Galba, who succeeded him as emperor, 
held the reins of power with an aged and trembling 
grasp. Old and childless, he had to think of 
choosing a successor. At this critical time, when 
every day was pregnant with some important event, 
Vespasian did not think it prudent to devote him- 
self to the siege of Jerusalem. He adopted a 
waiting, watchful policy, and sent his son Titus with 
King Agrippa to Rome to receive the new em- 
peror, and, as people said, to be adopted by him as 
heir to his vast empire. But when Titus heard, 
upon arriving in Corinth, that Galba had been 
murdered (5 Jan., 69), and that two emperors had 
been elected by the legions in his stead Otho in 
Rome, and Vitellius in Lower Germany, he hurried 
back to Judaea, not only buoyed up by the secret 
hopes of seeing his father created emperor in 
the general confusion which was pending, but also 
attracted by a powerful magnet, the beautiful 
Princess Berenice, who, in spite of living according 
to orthodox Judaean custom, did not hesitate to 
carry on an intrigue with the heathen Titus. Otho 
could retain possession of the purple only for 
one hundred days, at the end of which time he 
found himself forced to fight against Vitellius, 
whom the German legions had borne upon their 
shields, by way of teaching the Spanish legions 
that they were fittest to choose and instal an 
emperor. They also wished to make it evident 
that the emperor need not owe his election only 
to Rome and the Praetorian Guard, but should be 
the choice also of the legions in the provinces. 
Vitellius' army gained the victory, and Otho, after 
brave resistance, fell by his own hand. Meanwhile 
Vespasian was dreaming of the moment when he 
should drape himself in the stained imperial mantle, 
but he hesitated before putting his scheme into exe- 


cution. He wished to be driven to it. Partly, he 
feared Licinius Mucianus, governor of Syria, who 
commanded more legions than he did, and with 
whom he was not on very friendly terms. But 
Vespasian's son Titus, who made no secret of his 
ambition, won over Mucianus to urge his father 
into allowing himself to be proclaimed emperor. 
It was also absolutely essential to obtain the sup- 
port of Tiberius Alexander, the son of the Alabarch 
and the governor of that most important province- 
Egypt. This move in the great game was due to 
the hand of a woman. The Princess Berenice 
was a friend of the Egyptian governor, and she 
was furthering the imperial election as an affair 
of the heart. Titus' love for her was so openly 
avowed that all her court were convinced that 
he had promised her marriage. It \vas therefore 
not unnatural that she should employ all the means 
suggested by her imagination, and made possible 
by her personal charms, to attain this end. The 
most important step was to gain Tiberius Alex- 
ander's support for Vespasian, and in this she 
succeeded admirably. The governor of Egypt 
responded to her appeal by making his legions 
swear fealty to him whom they now called emperor. 
A few days later the legions stationed in Judaea, and 
the Syrian troops under the command of Mucianus, 
also tendered their allegiance to Vespasian. The 
possession of the coveted purple was enough to 
make Vespasian for the time being forgetful of the 
conquest of Judaea. Accompanied by his son Titus, 
he repaired to Egypt, where they received the news 
of Vitellius' death (Dec., 69), an event which had 
drawn forth but the contemptuous scorn of his 

And how did Jerusalem spend the two years 
of peace that Vespasian granted her ? There were 
originally four distinct factions in the city, without 
counting the more moderate. These were the 


Jerusalem Zealots under Eleazer ben Simon and 
Simon ben Ezron, consisting only of two thousand 
four hundred members, the Galilaean Zealots under 
John, numbering six thousand armed men, the 
Simonists and Sicarii outnumbering the rest by 
their army of ten thousand, and the Idumaeans 
under Jacob ben Sosa and Simon ben Kathla, a 
troop of five thousand men. These twenty-four 
thousand heroic patriots might have put their valor 
to some account in one decisive battle could they 
but have acted in harmony. But not one of their 
leaders was capable of sacrificing his own ambition 
to the general good. The followers of Eleazer 
claimed precedence on the grounds of their being 
natives of Jerusalem and of having thus given the 
first impulse to the movement. John insisted upon 
his superiority on account of his quickness of per- 
ception and readiness in action, and Simon felt 
revengeful towards the Zealots, who had dared 
quell his disorder. Members of the four different 
factions were perpetually meeting and fighting in the 
streets, giving the enemy both the time and the 
opportunity to devastate the surrounding country ; 
for it was almost certain that no one faction would 
dare oppose the Romans, and equally certain that 
the four factions would not combine in arms against 

Titus, the new heir to the imperial throne, at last 
made his appearance before Jerusalem (February, 
70), fully expecting that he would be able to force 
the city into submission ; for it was almost a reproach 
to the Romans that this rebellious capital should 
have maintained her independence for four years. 
The prestige of the new imperial house seemed in 
some measure to depend upon the fall of Jerusalem ; 
a protracted siege would necessarily imply weakness 
in the military power of Vespasian and his son. 

Although Titus was eagerly looking forward to 
the subjection of Judsea, he could not complete his 


preparations for the siege of Jerusalem before the 
spring. He collected an army of not less than 
eighty thousand men, who came, bringing with them 
the largest number of battering machines that had 
been used in the warfare of that time. Three 
traitors amongst the Judaeans were most useful to 
him in his laborious undertakings - - King Agrippa, 
who not only brought a contingent of men, but who 
also tried to influence the inhabitants of Jerusalem 
in favor of the Romans ; Tiberius Alexander, who 
sealed his apostasy from Judaism by going into 
battle against his own nation ; and Josephus, the 
constant companion of Titus, who, from being a 
prisoner, had become a guide in the country which 
he knew so well. Titus was not experienced enough 
in the art of war, and so bade the Judaean apostate 
stand by his side, and gave him the command of 
his own body-guard (Prsefectus prsetorio). But the 
hostile factions had drawn together when this new 
danger threatened them. Shortly before the Pass- 
over festival numbers of devoted men streamed into 
Jerusalem to defend their holy city. The elders and 
chiefs had sent messengers to the people living in 
the outlying provinces, praying for help, and their 
request was not made in vain. The walls of Jeru- 
salem were fortified more strongly than ever. 

At last Titus assembled his huge army from all 
sides and encamped at Scopus-Zophim, north of 
Jerusalem. He summoned in the first instance the 
inhabitants to surrender ; he demanded only sub- 
mission, acknowledgment of the Roman rule, and 
payment of the taxes. Eager as he was to return 
to Rome, where all the enjoyments belonging to his 
great position were awaiting him, he was ready to 
deal gently with the Judaeans. Besides which, his 
devotion to a Judaean princess, who, in spite of her 
errors, still clung faithfully to the holy city, made 
him anxious to spare that city from destruction. 
But the Judaeans refused all negotiation. They had 


sworn to defend their city with their lives, and would 
not hear of surrender. Then the siege began in 
earnest. All the gardens and groves to the north 
and west of Jerusalem, the first points of the attack, 
were unsparingly destroyed. 

Titus, anxious to reconnoitre the ground, advanced 
with a few followers to the north wall, where he nar- 
rowly escaped being taken prisoner. The first feat 
of arms upon the part of the Judaeans was crowned 
with success, and seemed a good omen for the 
future. A few days later they surprised and totally 
discomfited the Tenth Legion, who were pitching 
their tents on the Mount of Olives. But, unfortu- 
nately, this skirmish proved fruitless, for the Ju- 
daeans were always obliged to retreat to their fort- 
resses, not, however, without having convinced the 
Romans that they would have a desperate foe to 
encounter. The besiegers succeeded in pitching 
their camps on three sides of the city, and in raising 
their engines against the outer wall. Titus com- 
menced operations during the Passover festival 
(March or April, 70), when he believed that the 
Judaeans would not be willing to fight. But as soon 
as the engines were in working order, they rushed 
like demons from their retreat, destroying the bat- 
tering-rams, scattering the workmen, and bringing 
alarm and confusion upon the enemy. Not only the 
Zealots, but all who could carry arms took part in 
the defense, the women setting splendid examples 
of heroism to the men. The besieged threw masses 
of stone upon their assailants, poured boiling oil 
upon their heads, seized the ponderous missiles that 
were hurled into the city, and turned them into 
tools of destruction against the Romans. But the 
latter succeeded in repairing their broken battering- 
rams, and in forcing the Judaeans, after fifteen days 
of conflict, back from the outer wall. This wall, the 
scene of a desperate struggle, was at last taken by 
the Romans, who, while making themselves masters 
of it, seized the suburban town of Bezetha. 


The skirmishes were now carried on daily, and 
with increasing bitterness. After seventeen days 
of unremitting labor, the Romans succeeded in 
raising their banks opposite the Antonine tower. 
But John of Gischala and some heroic followers of 
Bar-Giora, creeping through a subterranean pas- 
sage, destroyed these works by setting fire to them. 
With the ever-increasing danger grew the heroism 
of the besieged. All Josephus' persuasive words, 
prompted by Titus, were useless. There were but 
two courses left open to them victory or death. 
At the very outset of the siege they had learned 
what they would have to expect from the Romans. 
Titus, surnamed " Delight of all Mankind," crucified, 
at times, five hundred of his prisoners in a day. 
Again, he would send them back into the city after 
cutting off their hands. He was, however, forced to 
acknowledge to himself that the siege would be one 
of long duration. But the horrors of famine were 
soon to come to his assistance. All egress from 


and ingress into the besieged city being rigorously 
prevented, the provisions began to fail amongst the 
thickly-crowded populace. Houses and streets were 
filled with unburied corpses, and the pangs of star- 
vation seemed to destroy all feelings of pity in the 
unfortunate survivors. The prospect a terrible 
one indeed of a lingering death sent numbers 

o o 

of deserters to the Romans, where they met with 
a pitiful fate. As the number of these unfortunate 
fugitives increased, the Zealots treated those whom 
they suspected of defection with still greater severity. 
A conspiracy being discovered amongst Bar-Giora's 
followers, that leader relentlessly punished the guilty 
with death. They were all beheaded in full view of 
the Roman camp, amongst them being Matthias' 
Boethus, of priestly family. 

But in spite of the watchfulness of the Zealots, 
they were unable to circumvent the traitors in all 
their designs. Those who were secretly friendly 


to Rome shot off on their arrow-heads written 
accounts concerning the state of the city, which 
fell into the enemy's camp. The Zealots struggled 
manfully to prevent the Romans from completing 
their earthworks, but at the end of twenty-one 
days, the battering-rams were again pointing at the 
Antonine tower. The wall surrounding the fortress 
fell at length under the tremendous blows from with- 
out. What was the surprise and horror of the 
Romans, however, when they discovered that a 
second and inner wall had been erected behind the 
one they had succeeded in destroying. They tried 
in vain to storm it, the Judseans repulsing a noc- 
turnal attack. The battle lasted until the following 
morning. It was at about this time that the daily 
sacrifices ceased, on account of the scarcity of the 
animals. Titus seized this opportunity again to 
summon the besieged to surrender, but the mere 
sight of the interpreter who bore the message 
aroused the indignation of the besieged. John of 
Gischala replied that the holy city could not be 
destroyed, and that God held her fate in His hands. 
The Judssans then withdrew to their last point of 
defense, the Temple. The battering-rams were 
raised against the sacred walls. The unfortunate 
people were compelled to destroy the colonnades 
leading to the Antonine tower, thus cutting off all 
connection with that fortress. They spared no craft 
to tire out the Romans, even setting fire to some of 
the pillars attached to the Temple, and then pre- 
tendinp- to take flight. This stratagem succeeded 

c> ^5 *^ 

in making the Romans climb over the walls, beyond 
which the Judseans lay in ambush to receive them, 
putting them to the sword or casting them into the 
flames. But the fire could not be extinguished, and 
the beautiful colonnade of the western side was 
entirely destroyed. 

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the city were suf- 
fering cruelly from famine, which was sapping their 


life, obliterating all distinctions between rich and 
poor, and giving free scope to the lowest passions. 
Money had lost its value, for it could not purchase 
bread. Men fought desperately in the streets over 
the most loathsome and disgusting food, a handful 
of straw, a piece of leather, or offal thrown to the 
dogs. The wealthy Martha, wife of the High Priest 
Joshua ben Gamala, whose wont it had been to step 
on carpets from her house to the Temple, was found 
searching the town like the very poorest for a mor- 
sel of food, of even the most revolting description. 
As if not one line of the old prophecy concerning the 
doom of Judaea was to remain unfulfilled, a terrible 
scene was enacted, which struck even the enemy 
with horror. A woman by the name of Miriam, who 
had (led from Percea to the capital, actually killed 
and devoured her own child. 

The rapidly increasing number of unburied 
corpses made the sultry summer air pestilential, 
and the populace fell a prey to sickness, famine, 
and the sword. But the army of the besieged 
fought on with unbroken courage, they rushed to 
the battlefield, although fainting with hunger and 
surrounded by grim pictures of death, as bravely 
as had been their wont in the early days of the 
sieofe. The Romans were amazed at the unflinch- 


ing heroism of the Zealots, at their devotion to the 
Sanctuary and to the cause of their people. In fact, 
they grew to look upon them as invincible, and 
stimulated by this belief, some few of their number 
were actually known to desert their colors and their 
faith and to accept Judaism, persuaded, in their turn, 
that the holy city could never fall into the hands of 
the enemy. Proud as the Judaeans well might be 
of these voluntary proselytes, at this the supreme 
moment of their history, they volunteered to guard 
them as best they could from the horrors of 

Meanwhile, the Romans had begun to batter the 
outer walls of the courts of the Temple. For six 


days they had been working in vain, and had then 
tried to fix their scaling ladders and storm the walls. 
But as they were repulsed with great loss of life, 
Titus relinquished his hope of sparing the sacred 
edifice, and ordered his men to set fire to the gates. 
For a whole night and the next day the fire raged 
fiercely ; then Titus commanded that it should be 
extinguished, and that a road should be leveled for 
the advance of his legions. A council of war was 
hastily summoned to decide upon the fate of the 
Sanctuary. This council consisted of six of the 
chief generals of the army, three of whom advised 
the destruction of the Temple, which, if spared, 
would inevitably remain as a focus for rebellion. 
Titus was opposed to this decision, partly on ac- 
count of the Princess Berenice's feelings, and three 
of the council agreeing with their leader, it was 
decided to take the Temple, but not to destroy it. 

On the Qth Ab, the Judaeans made another des- 
perate sally, but were driven back by an overpow- 
ering force of the besiegers. But the hour of the 
city's doom was about to strike, and in striking, 
leave an echo that would ring through the centuries 
to come. The besieged attempted one more furious 
onslaught upon their enemies. They were again 
defeated, and again driven back to their sheltering 
walls. But this time they were closely followed by 
the Romans, one of whom, seizing a burning fire- 
brand, mounted upon a comrade's shoulders, and 
flung his terrible missile through the so-called 
golden window of the Temple. The fire blazed 
up ; it caught the wooden beams of the sanctuary, 
and rose in flames heavenwards. At this sisdit the 


bravest of the Judaeans recoiled terror-stricken. 
Titus hurried to the spot with his troops, and 
shouted to the soldiers to extinguish the flames. 
But no one heeded him. The maddened soldiery 
plunged into the courts of the Temple, murdering 
all who came within their reach, and hurling their 


firebrands into the blazing building. Titus, unable 
to control his legions, and urged by curiosity, pene- 
trated into the Holy of Holies. 

Meanwhile, the Judaeans, desperate in their death 
agonies, closed wildly with their assailants. The 
shouts of victory, the shrieks of despair, the fierce 
hissing of the flames, making the very earth tremble 
and the air vibrate, rose in one hideous din, which 
echoed from the tottering walls of the Sanctuary to 
the mountain-heights of Judaea. There were con- 
gregated clusters of trembling people from all the 
country round, who beheld in the ascending flames 
the sign that the glory of their nation had departed 
forever. Many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 
unwilling to outlive their beloved Temple, cast 
themselves headlong into the burning mass. But 
thousands of men, women, and children, in spite of 
the fierce onslaught of the legions and the rapidly 
increasing flames, clung fondly to the inner court. 
For had they not been promised by the persuasive 
lips of false prophets, that God would save them by 
a miracle at the very moment of destruction ? They 
fell but an easier prey to the Romans, who slew 
some six thousand on the spot. The Temple was 
burnt to the ground, and only a few smouldering 
ruins were left, rising like gigantic ghosts from the 
ashes. A few of the priests had escaped to the 
tops of the walls, where they remained without food 
for some days, until they were compelled to surren- 
der. Titus ordered their instant execution, saying, 
" Priests must fall with their Temple." The con- 
quering legions raised their standards in the midst 
of the ruins, sacrificed to their gods in the Holy 
Place, and saluted Titus as emperor. By a strange 
coincidence the second Temple had fallen upon the 
anniversary of the destruction of the first Temple 
(loth Ab, 70). Titus, who could no longer feel 
bound to respect the feelings of the Princess Ber- 
enice, gave orders that the Acra and the Ophla, 


different parts of the city, should be instantly set 
on fire. 

But the struggle was not yet over. The leaders 
of the rebellion had retreated to the upper city with 
some of their followers. There they conferred with 
Titus. John and Simon, having sworn that they 
would never lay down their arms, offered to sur- 
render upon the condition that they would be per- 
mitted to pass armed through the Roman camp. 
But Titus sternly bade them throw themselves upon 
his mercy ; and so the fierce strife blazed out anew. 
On the 2oth of Ab, the Romans began to raise 
their embankments, and after eighteen days of 
labor the siege of the upper city commenced. 
Even then the Zealots would not think of surrender. 
Discovering that the Idumaeans were secretly making 
terms with Titus, they threw some of the ring- 
leaders into prison, and executed others. But the 
Judsean warriors were exhausted by their super- 
human resistance and by the long famine, and the 
Romans were at last able to scale the walls and to 
seize the fortresses, a prelude to their spreading 
through the city, plundering and murdering the 
last of the wretched inhabitants. On the 8th of 
Elul they set fire to all that remained of Jerusalem, 
the upper city, known by the name of Zion. The 
walls were entirely leveled, Titus leaving only the 
three fortresses of Hippicus, Mariamne, and Pha- 
sael to stand as lasting witnesses of his victory. 
Under the ruins of Jerusalem and her Temple lay 
buried the last remnant of Judaea's independence. 
More than a million of lives had been lost during 
the siege. Counting those who had fallen at Gali- 
lee, Peraea, and the provinces, it may be assumed 
that the Judaeans who inhabited their native land 
were almost all destroyed. 

Once more did Zion sit weeping amongst the 
ruins, weeping over her sons fallen in battle, over 
her daughters sold into slavery or abandoned to 


the savage soldiery of Rome ; but she was more 
desolate now than in the days of her first captivity, 
for hushed was the voice of the prophet, who 
once foretold the end of her widowhood and her 



Sufferings of the Prisoners The Arena Cruelty of Titus Enmity 
of the Antiochians Triumph of the Emperor on the occasion of 
the Conquest of Judaea End of Simon Bar-Giora and John of 
Gischala Coins to Commemorate the Roman Triumph Fall 
of the Last Fortresses : Herodium, Masada, and Machaarus 
Resistance of the Zealots in Alexandria and Cyrene End of the 
Temple of Onias The Last of the Zealots Death of Berenice 
and Agrippa Flavius Josephus and his Writings. 

70-73 c. E. 

IT would, indeed, be difficult to describe the suf- 
ferings of those who were taken captive in the war, 
estimated at the number of nine hundred thousand. 
The surviving inhabitants of Jerusalem were driven 
into the site of the Temple, and placed under the 
guardianship of a certain Pronto and a freed slave. 
All those who were recognized as insurgents were 
crucified, the princes of Adiabene alone being 
spared and sent as hostages to Rome, to secure the 
loyalty of the king of Adiabene. Seventeen thou- 
sand prisoners died of hunger, many of them being 
neglected by Pronto, whilst others indignantly re- 
fused the food which their conquerors offered them. 
From amongst the youths above seventeen years 
of age, the tallest and handsomest were selected 
for the Roman triumphs, whilst others were sent 
to labor in the mines for the rest of their lives, or 
were relegated to the Roman provinces, to take 
their part in the fights of the arena. Youths under 
the age of sixteen and most of the female cap- 
tives were sold into slavery at an incredibly low 
price, for the market was glutted. How many 
scenes of horror must have been witnessed and 
enacted by those unfortunate ones ! They had, 


it is true, one ray of comfort left. Possibly they 
might be carried to some Roman town where a 
Judaean community existed ; their own people would 
assuredly give any sum to purchase their freedom, 
and would then treat them with brotherly sympathy. 

Vespasian now declared that all Judaea was his 
property by conquest, and bade the Roman officials 
divide the country into lots, offering them to the 
highest bidder. And why should he not do so ? 
Had he not fertilized the land with blood ? Be- 
sides which, the sale would realize great profits, 
and Vespasian cared even more for gold than for 

And what was the work of the merciful Titus after 
ordering the execution of thousands, and consign- 
ing thousands to slavery? In his march through 
Syria he was followed by the most vigorous of his 
captives in chains. When he held his court in 
Caesarea, and entertained his friends in true Roman 
style, wild beasts were brought into the arena, 
and Judaean captives fought with them until they 
were torn to death ; or they were forced to fight 
one against another, dying by each other's hands. 
Thus at Caesarea, two thousand five hundred 
brave Judcean youths perished in this manner to 
celebrate the birthday of Domitian, the brother 
of the conqueror. And at Caesarea Philippi, on 
Mount Hermon, the residence of King Agrippa, 
this terrible spectacle was renewed before the 
eyes of that monarch and of the Princess Berenice. 
Vespasian's birthday was honored in the same way 
at Berytus, the sand of the arena being literally 
soaked with Judaean blood. In fact, the gentle- 
ness and humanity of Titus were strangely dis- 
played in all cities of Syria by a repetition of 
these barbarities. The Judaean communities in 
Syria, Asia Minor, Alexandria, and Rome, very 
nearly shared the fate of their brethren in Judaea. 
For the war had aroused the hatred of the entire 


heathen world against the unfortunate children of 
Israel a hatred which was fanatical in its intensity, 
its object being the entire destruction of the whole 
race. Titus' inmost feelings must have coincided 
with those of his people. But strange to say, his 
love for Berenice, so deeply implanted in his heart, 
made him, upon one occasion, extend his mercy to 
her race. When he approached the city of Antioch, 
the whole populace turned out to meet him and 
demanded nothing less than the expulsion of the 
Judaean colony. But Titus replied that " The 
Judaeans having no country left to them, it would 
be inhuman to expel them from Antioch they had 
no retreat." He even refused sternly to cancel 
their existing privileges. The Alexandrian Ju- 
daeans also were left undisturbed in their adopted 

Titus determined to celebrate his triumph over 
Judaea in the capital of the empire. For this pur- 
pose seven hundred of the flower of the Judaean 
captives and the two leaders of the Zealots, John of 
Gischala, who had surrendered to the enemy when 
fainting with hunger, and Simon Bar-Giora, were 
sent to Rome. At the close of the siege of Jeru- 
salem the dauntless Simon had leaped, with some of 
his followers, into one of the vaults beneath the city, 
and, provided with workmen's tools, had attempted 
to hew his way out ; but coming upon a great rock 
he was prevented from accomplishing his purpose, 
and his slender stock of provisions failing him, he 
determined to die as became a hero. In a white 
robe, covered with a purple mantle, he suddenly 
appeared before the Roman sentinels who were 
reposing amongst the ruins of the Temple. They 
gazed at him with terror. He merely addressed 
them with the following words : " Take me to your 
general." When Rufus appeared at the sentinels' 
call, the leader of the Zealots presented himself 
before his astonished gaze, saying : " I am Simon 


Bar-Giora." He was instantly thrown into chains, 
and calmly awaited the fate that he knew was in 
store for him. 

Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian, 
celebrated their triumph over Judaea, in the im- 
perial city of Rome. In front of the emperor 
were borne the vessels of the Temple, the seven- 
branched candlestick, the golden table, and a roll 
of the Law. The Romans were further gladdened 
by the pageant of a long train of Judaean captives 
heavily chained, and by the wonderful represen- 
tations of all the horrors and misery of the war 
a kind of theatrical entertainment, devised with 
much ingenuity for the occasion. Simon Bar- 
Giora (the terrible foe of the Roman legions), with 
a halter round his neck, was draoxred through 

o Zj ^> 

the streets of Rome, and finally hurled as a human 
sacrifice to the gods, from the Tarpeian rock. 
John of Gischala met with his fate in a dungeon. 
Tiberius Alexander, the conqueror of his own race, 
shared in the triumph, and a statue was erected 
in his honor in the Forum. Josephus was but a 
spectator of the scene. This magnificent triumph, 
the like of which had not been witnessed for many 
years in Rome, was a proof of the exultant joy, 
which passed like a wave over the heathen world, 
at the fall of Judaea, for the Roman legions had 
but rarely met with so obstinate a foe. To com- 
memorate this great victory, coins were struck, 
upon which Judaea was variously represented, as 
a sorrowing woman under a palm tree, either 
standing with fettered hands, or seated in a des- 
pairing attitude upon the ground. The coins bore 
these inscriptions, "the Conquered" or "the Cap- 
tive Judaea" ("Judaea devicta," "Judaea capta"). 
Later on, a beautiful arch was erected to Titus, 
which is still standing, and upon which the carved 
reliefs of the candlestick and vessels of the Temple 
are plainly visible. The Roman Judaeans, not only 


at that time, but in years to come, would take a 
longer or more circuitous route, to avoid seeing 
this trophy. The rich spoils of the Sanctuary were 
deposited in the Temple of Peace, and the roll of 
the Law in the imperial palace ; but at a later time, 
when Rome was expiating her heavy sins, these 
relics of the glory of Jerusalem were carried to 
other countries. 

Judaea was not yet entirely subjugated, for 
three strong fortresses were still in arms : Hero- 
dium, Machaerus, and Masada. The governor, 
Bassus, sent by Vespasian to Judaea, was com- 
manded to take them. Herodium surrendered 
immediately, but Machaerus offered a stubborn 
resistance. This fortress, built by Alexander 
Jannaeus, was well defended from the enemy by 
its natural position. Steep precipices and yawning 
ravines made it impregnable. But it fell and in 
this way : The young commander, Eleazer, a valiant 
hero, was captured by the Romans, whilst fear- 
lessly standing without the gates, proudly reliant 
upon the terror of his arms. Bassus ordered him 
to be scourged within view of the besieged, and 
then made semblance of having him crucified. A 
wail of despair went up from the fortress ; the 
besieged, determined to save their beloved com- 
rade, offered to give up their citadel if his life were 
spared. Bassus agreed to this proposal, and the 
garrison was saved ; but of the inhabitants of the 
lower town, the men and youths were inhumanly 
butchered, to the number of 1 700, and the women 
and children sold into slavery. 

Three thousand Zealots, under Judas ben Jair, 
who had escaped by one of the subterranean pas- 
sages from Jerusalem, were hiding in a wood on the 
outskirts of the Jordan. There they were, however, 
discovered and surrounded by the Romans, who 
mercilessly destroyed them. The death of Bassus, 
taking place at this time, caused the difficult task 


of the conquest of Masada to devolve upon his 
successor Silva. This hill-fortress was, if possible, 
still more inaccessible than that of Machaerus. 
The garrison consisted of 1000 Zealots, with their 
wives and children, commanded by Eleazer ben 
Jair, a descendant of Judas the founder of the 
Zealots. They were amply provided with pro- 
visions, water and weapons, and were, moreover, 
men of heroic resolve. But a Roman battering- 


ram destroyed one of the protecting walls, and a 
second wall of wooden beams, built by the be- 
sieged, was set on fire by the assailants. The 
situation was a hopeless one. Eleazer realized 
this, and determined upon persuading the garrison 
to die by their own hands rather than to fall into 
the power of the Romans. The heroes agreed to 
this proposal, even with enthusiasm, and on the 
first day of the great Feast of Passover, after 
slaying their wives and children, they all perished 
on their own swords. When the Romans entered 
the citadel, prepared for the last desperate struggle 
with their victims, they stood amazed at the ominous 
silence, and their shouts brought forth only two 
trembling women and five children, who came 
creeping out from a cavern. And it was thus that 
the last Zealots fell on Judaean ground. 

The Judceans who had tried to shake off the 
Roman yoke had, indeed, been severely punished. 
Not only the inhabitants of Judcta, but also the 
Jiukean community in Rome were made answerable 
for the rebellion. The two drachmae which they 
had annually given to their Sanctuary were now 
demanded for the Capitoline Jupiter. Vespasian's 
greed soon caused this tax to be swept into his 
private treasury ; and this first tax, inaugurated and 
imposed by the emperor upon the Judaeans, was 
called the Judaean fiscal tax (Fiscus Judaicus). On 
the other hand, those Judaeans who had been friendly 
to Rome, and had given Vespasian assistance 


during the war, were richly recompensed. Berenice 
was received with the highest honors at the Im- 
perial court. Titus' passion for this beautiful 
woman was so great that once, in a fit of jealousy, 
he ordered the strangulation of a Roman Consul, 
Cacina, his own table-companion. To flatter his 
vanity the Council of the Areopagus, the Six 
Hundred and the people of Athens erected a statue 
to Berenice, dedicated to " the great Queen, 
daughter of the great King, Julius Agrippa." 
He was on the eve of making her his wife, when 
an indignant outburst from the people of Rome 
forced him to let her depart. Her brother Agrippa 
shared her fall. 

More fortunate was Josephus, whom Vespasian 
and Titus could not sufficiently reward for his 
services. He accompanied the emperors on their 
triumphal processions, looked on the humiliation of 
his nation with revolting coldness, and showed 
undisguised delight in the death of her heroes. 
Vespasian not only granted him extensive landed 
possessions, but also placed his private palace at 
his disposal, and raised him to the citizenship of 
Rome. So high did he stand in the favor of the 
imperial house, that he was anxious to adopt their 
name, and is known to posterity as " Flavius Jose- 
phus." On the other hand, he was hated by the 
Judaean patriots, who exerted themselves to disturb 
him in the tranquil enjoyment of his possessions. 

But the war against the Zealots did not terminate 
with the fall of the last fortress. They transplanted 
their hatred of Rome whithersoever their flying feet 
carried them to the provinces of the Euphrates, to 
Arabia, Egypt, and Cyrene. The Zealots who had 
taken refuge in Alexandria persuaded their co- 
religionists of that city to revolt against their rulers. 
Many of the Alexandrian Judseans, still smarting 
from the severe persecutions which they had suffered 
some years previously from the Romans, were ready 


for revolt ; but this mad scheme was opposed by the 
wealthy members of the community and the Council. 
They turned indignantly upon the Zealots, de- 
livering six hundred into the hands of the governor, 
Lupus, who executed them upon the spot. Others 
fled to Thebes, where they were pursued, seized, 
and put to the torture to make them acknowledge 
the emperor's authority. But unflinchingly they 
bore the most horrible agonies, men and boys 
vying with each other in steadfast adherence to 
their Zealot principles, and dying at last under 
torture. Vespasian, fearing that Egypt might 
become a new center of revolt, ordered the Temple 
of Onias to be closed, thus taking from the people 
their religious focus. The annual gifts, dedicated to 
the service of the Sanctuary, found their way, as a 
matter of course, into the imperial treasury. 

Some of the Zealots who had fled to the towns of 
Cyrenaica, now attempted to endanger their peace. 
Jonathan, one of their number, collected a mul- 
titude of the lower classes about him, and leading 
them into the Lybian Desert, announced some 
miraculous interposition. But here, again, the chief 
Judseans denounced their fanatical brethren to Ca- 
tullus, the Roman governor, who seized them, and 
had many of them executed. Jonathan, however, 
evaded their pursuit for some time, and at last, 
when captured, revenged himself by accusing many 
of the wealthy Judseans of being his accomplices. 
He was thrown into chains and sent to Rome. In 
the imperial city he ventured to declare that 
Josephus and some of the Roman Judaeans were 
disloyal to the emperor. Titus indignantly refused 
to believe this, and appeared to defend his favorite, 
whose innocence, together with that of his co-relig- 
ionists, he clearly established. Jonathan was then 
scourged and burnt alive. 

Thus ended the Zealot movement which had 
spread with evil results among a large portion of 


the Judaean people in the Roman Empire. But 
the Zealots who had escaped to North Arabia to 
the vicinity of Medina were the most fortunate ; for 
they succeeded in founding a community of their 
own, which lasted until the seventh century. Upon 
another occasion, they played no unimportant part. 

So great was the sensation produced throughout 
the Roman Empire by this long and desperate 
resistance of the Judaeans, that several writers felt 
themselves called upon to give a detailed descrip- 
tion of the war. The heathen authors were, of 
course, partial in their treatment of the subject ; 
and, with due deference to the feelings of the 
Roman generals, underrated the heroism of the 
Judaeans. But Josephus, who, in spite of his 
Roman proclivities, had some spark of patriotism 
left, could not brook hearing his people stigmatized 
as cowards ; so, collecting all the facts of the long 
struggle that had come under his own notice, he 
wrote an account of the war in seven books, at 
first in the Syro-Chaldaic tongue, and afterwards 
in Greek (75-79). But this version could not turn 
out to be any more impartial, seeing how deeply 
his own interests had been involved. He laid his 
work before Titus, who gave him permission to 
offer it to the public, a clear proof that the Emperor 
was satisfied with its tendency. Justus of Tiberias 
had preceded Josephus with a history of the Judaean 
war, in which he accused that historian of hostility 
to Rome, of having been party to the revolt in 
Galilee, and of having invented his descent from the 
Hasmonaean house. 

When the war of the sword was at an end, the 
war of the pen was carried on by the two writers. 
But Justus can hardly be commended for exem- 
plary conduct ; for he had once led a revolt in 
Galilee, and had then headed a sally against the 
neighboring Greek population ; after which he pre- 
sented himself boldly before Agrippa. Berenice 


having obtained his pardon, he was taken into the 
king's service and most generously treated. But 
for some later offense he was imprisoned, and ban- 
ished, then recalled, pardoned, and made the king's 
secretary. He was at length banished again for 
some unknown reason. Justus, having received a 
thoroughly Greek education, was able to write the 
history of the war in a more correct and elegant 
style than it was possible for Josephus to do. 

Jeremiah, uttering his lamentations amidst the 
ruins of Jerusalem, fitly ends the first period of 
Jewish history ; whilst Flavius Josephus, writing 
the story of his people in the quiet of Caesar's 
palace, concludes the second period. 




Foundation of the School at Jabne Jochanan ben Zakkai The Last 
of the Herodians Judaea and Rome The Tanaites Gamaliel II. 
appointed Patriarch The Power of Excommunication Deposi- 
tion and Restoration of the Patriarch Steps towards Collecting 
the Mishna Eliezer ben Hyrcanus Joshua ben Chananya 
Akiba and his System Ishmael Condition of the Synhedrion. 

70-117 c. E. 

THE disastrous result of the war which had been 
waged against the Romans during a period of four 
years, the destruction of the State, the burning 
of the Temple, the condemnation of the prisoners 
to labor in the lead-works of Egypt, to be sold in 
the slave-markets, or to become victims in the 
fights with wild beasts in the arena all these 
calamities came with such crushing force on the 
remaining Jews that they felt utterly at a loss as to 
what they should do. Judaea was depopulated ; all 
who had taken up arms, whether in northern or 
southern, whether in cis- or trans-Jordanic Judaea, 
were either dead or enslaved and banished. The 
infuriated conquerors had spared neither the women 
nor the children. The third banishment the Roman 
Exile (Galut Edom), under Vespasian and Titus 
had commenced amid greater terror and cruelty 
than the Babylonian Exile under Nebuchadnezzar. 
Only a few were spared those who openly or 
secretly sided with the Romans, partisans of Rome, 
who, from the very commencement, had been 
devoid of patriotic feelings ; the friends of peace, 
who thought that Judaism had a different task 
from that of combating the Romans by force 



of arms, thoughtful and careful men, who looked 
upon a contest with Rome as national suicide ; 
and lastly those who, through party strife, had 
been forced to lay down their arms and to make 
separate terms with the Romans. This small 
remnant in the land of Judaea and the Jews of 
Syria, who had always hoped that Titus would 
respect the Temple (the center of worship and 
religion), were moved deeply, and thrown into 
despair at the destruction of the sanctuary pro- 
tected by God. Their despair led to various 
results. Some were driven to lead an ascetic 
life, to deny themselves meat and wine ; others 
were led thereby to join Christianity, seeking thus 
to fill the void in their hearts which was caused by 
the cessation of burnt-offerings. Judaism was 
threatened by the greatest danger ; deprived, as 
it was, of its support and rallying-point, it appeared 
in imminent danger of stagnation or of falling to 
pieces. The communities in Syria, Babylon, and 
Persia, in Asia Minor, Rome, and in Europe gen- 
erally, had until now turned their eyes to Jerusalem 
and the Temple, whence they drew their instructions 
and laws. The only independent congregation, 
that of Alexandria, had become helpless through the 
destruction of the Temple of Onias. What was to 
be the future of the Jewish nation, of Judaism ? 
The Synhedrion, which had given laws to the entire 
community, and had regulated its religious life, had 
disappeared with the fall of Jerusalem. Who would 
step into the breach, and render a continued exist- 
ence a possibility ? There now appeared a man 
who seemed made to save the essential doctrines 
of Judaism, to restore some amount of strength to 
the nation, so that it might continue to live, and the 
threatened decay be averted. 

This man was Jochanan, the son of Zakkai. He 
labored, like the prophets during the first exile in 
Babylon, but by other means, to maintain the life 


of the Jewish nation ; he reanimated its frozen limbs, 
and infusing fresh energy into its actions, consoli- 
dated its dispersed members into one whole. Joch- 
anan, if not a disciple of Hillel, was yet an heir to 
his mind. For forty years he is said to have been 
a tradesman. In other cases, too, we shall see 
that the great leaders in Jewish history did not 
follow the study of the Law as a means of sub- 
sistence or of gain. During the existence of the 
State, Jochanan sat in the Synhedrion, or taught 
within the shadow of the Temple : his school at 
Jerusalem is said to have been an important one. 
He was the first man who successfully combated 
the Sadducees, and who knew how to refute their 
arguments. During the stormy days of the revo- 
lution, he, owing to his peaceful character, joined 
the party of peace, and on several occasions he 
urged the nation and the Zealots to surrender the 
town of Jerusalem, and to submit to the Romans. 
" Why do you desire to destroy the town, and to give 
up the Temple to the flames ? " he would say to the 
leaders of the revolution. 

Notwithstanding the respect in which he was 
held, his well-meant admonitions were ignored by 
the Zealots. The spies whom the Roman general 
placed in the besieged city of Jerusalem, and who 
reported to him what took place, did not fail to 
announce that Jochanan belonged to the friends of 
Rome, and that he counseled the chiefs to make 
peace. The news from the town was conveyed on 
small pieces of paper, which were shot on arrows 
into the Roman camp. Induced either by fear of the 
Zealots, or by the desire of obtaining a place of 
safety for the Law, Jochanan formed the idea of 
taking refuge in the camp of Titus. To depart 
from the town was, however, very difficult, as the 
Zealots kept up a constant watch ; Jochanan, there- 
fore, aided by a leader of the Zealots, named 
Ben-Batiach, determined to have himself conveyed 


out of the town as a corpse. Having been placed 
in a coffin he was carried out of the city gates, at the 
hour of sunset, by his pupils Eleazer and Joshua. 
Titus received the fugitive in a friendly manner, 
and gave him permission to make some request of 
him. Jochanan modestly requested that he might 
be permitted to establish a school at Jamnia (Jabne), 
where he could give lectures to his pupils. The 
district in which this town lay belonged to the 
private domains of the imperial house, to which it had 
been bequeathed by the last will of Salome, the sister 
of Herod. Titus had nothing to urge against the 
harmless wish of Jochanan, for he could not foresee 
that by this unimportant concession he was enabling 
Judaism, feeble as it then appeared, to outlive 
Rome, which was in all its vigor, by thousands of 

Jochanan settled with his disciples in Jamnia, 
a city not far from the Mediterranean Sea, and 
situated between the port Joppa, and the former 
city of the Philistines, Ashdod. Jochanan was 
unable to settle down to his occupation for some 
space of time, during which the bitter strife was 
raging before the walls of Jerusalem, and within its 
streets and its Temple. When the news arrived 
that the city had fallen, and that the Temple was 
in flames, Jochanan and his disciples mourned and 
wailed as if they had lost a dear relative through 
death. Jochanan, however, unlike his followers, did 
not despair, for he recognized the truth that Judaism 
was not indissolubly bound up with its Temple and 
its altar. He rather consoled his mourning dis- 
ciples for the loss of the place of expiation with the 
fitting remark that charity and love of mankind 
would take the place of burnt-offerings, as it is 
said in the Bible " for I take pleasure in mercy 
and not in burnt-offerings." This liberal view of the 
value of burnt-offerings made it clear, however, that 
it was absolutely necessary for a fresh center to be 


established in lieu of the Temple. Jochanan there- 
fore formed a sort of Synhedrion in Jabne, of which 
he was at once recognized as the President. The 
newly created Synhedrion was certainly not com- 
posed of seventy members, and no doubt had a 
totally different sphere of action from the one in 
Jerusalem, which during the revolution had exer- 
cised control over the most important political 
events. The Synhedrion of Jamnia in the first 
place gave to its founder plenary power in all reli- 
gious matters such as the Council had possessed in 
Jerusalem, and with this were connected the ju- 
dicial functions of a supreme court. It was only by 
unbounded authority that Jochanan could compass 
the formation and consolidation of a Synhedrion, 
under the unfavorable conditions of the time. 
Jochanan had to oppose the general opinion that 
the Synhedrion as a body should have control only 
in the hewn-stone hall of the Temple, and that 
outside this spot it lost its judicial character and 
ceased to be the representative of the nation. 
When, therefore, Jochanan dissociated the functions 
of the Synhedrion from the site of the Temple, and 
removed it to Jabne, he had actually released Ju- 
daism from the observance of the rite of burnt- 
offerings, and rendered it independent. Without 
any opposition whatsoever, Jabne by this means 
took the place of Jerusalem, and became the re- 
ligious national center for the dispersed community. 
The important functions of the Synhedrion, by 
which it exercised a judicial and uniting power over 
the distant congregations, such as the fixing; of the 

^> ^> <-> 

time for the new moon and the festivals, proceeded 
from Jabne. It enjoyed some of the religious 
privileges of the Holy City. The Synhedrion now 
bore the name of the Beth-Din (Court of Justice) 
the President was called Rosh-beth-din, and was 
honored by the title of Rabban (general teacher). 
Jochanan gave over to the Court of Justice the 


supervision of arrangements for the calendar, 
which had formerly been one of the offices of the 
President. By this means the watchers who were 
looking out for the reappearance of the new moon 
needed no longer follow the President about in order 
to give him the information, but had only to attend 
the sittings of the assembly. This change was an 
important step, as it rendered the Synhedrion inde- 
pendent of the person of its President. 

Jochanan made altogether nine changes, most 
of which affected such arrangements as had been 
rendered valueless through the destruction of the 
Temple. He, however, retained various religious 
customs as a remembrance of the Temple. He 
promoted the continuance and preservation of 
Judaism through the renewal of the study of the 
Law, and thus rendered firmer the weakened 
foundations of Jewish communal life. The school 
at Jabne he influenced through his disciples, whom 
he imbued with his spirit and his learning. Five 
of his distinguished pupils are known to us by 
name, but only three of them won lasting renown- 
Eliezer, and Joshua (who had carried Jochanan in 
a coffin out of Jerusalem), and also Eleazer ben 
Arach. The latter was the most eminent and im- 
portant amongst them, and of him it was said, "If 
weighed in the scale, he would outweigh all his 
fellow-scholars." Jochanan loved to incite them to 
independent thought by deep-reaching questions. 
Thus he gave them as a theme for thought, " What 
should man endeavor most eagerly to obtain ? ' 
The one answered "a genial manner," the other 
" a noble friend," a third " a noble neighbor," the 
fourth "the gift of knowing in advance the result 
of his actions." Eleazer answered that "man's 
best possession is a noble heart." This remark 
won the approval of his master ; it was an answer 
after his own mind, for in it all else was included. 

What was the character of the teachings which 
Jochanan imparted to his pupils in the school? 


Hillel, the most respected of the teachers of the 
Law, the highly-honored ideal in times to come, 
had given to Judaism a special garb and form, or 
rather had given it the character of the Law, which 
had always been peculiar to it. He was the first to 
develop and confirm a special theory, a sort of 
Jewish theology or nomology (science of religious 
laws). He was the founder of Talmudic Judaism. 
From the midst of contending parties, which were 
tearing one another to pieces, Hillel had drawn the 
Law into the quiet precincts of the school-house, 
and had endeavored to bring into harmony those 
precepts which were apparently opposed to the 
Law. Those which had been considered as only 
customary and traditional were regarded as human 
laws, and were looked upon by the Sadducees as 
innovations. Hillel had shown these to be of Bibli- 
cal origin. His seven explanatory rules, or laws of 
interpretation, had on the one hand confirmed the 
laws which had been introduced by the Sopheric 
and Pharisaic teachers, and on the other hand had 
given them new scope to develop. 

The written Law (that of the Pentateuch) and 
the oral Law (the Sopheric) from his time ceased 
to be two widely sundered branches, but were 
brought into close relations with each other, al- 
though the new rendering certainly did violence to 
the words of Scripture. But as the text was ex- 
plained, not on a philological basis, but in order 
to elucidate the laws, it was not possible to keep 
simply to the written Avords ; it was necessary to in- 
terpret them so as to render them suited to the new 
conditions of life. Under the term Oral Law was 
included everything which had been handed down 


from the Fathers, and it formed to a certain extent a 
hereditary law. The various restrictions which the 
Sopheric teachers had placed around the Law, the 
legal decisions which had been introduced by the 
Synhedrion, the customs which had been observed 


from generation to generation, the extensions de- 
duced from meager verses of the Pentateuch, all 
these elements were not written down, but were 
committed to memory. They were put into the form 
of short sentences, called " Halacha." They were 
not arranged or classified according to subjects, but 
were strung together without connection, or handed 
down separately, sometimes joined to the name of 
the authority from whom they were derived. A 
marvelous memory was needed to retain these 
Halachas or oral teachings. Jochanan ben Zakkai 
was the man who best knew these laws. He 
handed them down to his pupils, and pointed out 
to them their connection with the written law ; he 
showed them how to draw deductions therefrom, 
the laws handed down being the material, and their 
mode of treatment the form. These deductions 
were obtained by two methods, the one showing 
how the ordinances of the Law were to be obtained 
from the words of Scripture (Midrash), and the other 
served to apply the oral Law to new questions as 
they arose (Talmud). Thus a fruitful field for the 
extension of the Law and for ingenious combina- 
tions was opened, which was later on freely culti- 
vated. Jochanan ben Zakkai, however, thought 
much more of the material of the Law than of its 

He taught not only those doctrines of Judaism 
which appertained to the Law, but also those por- 
tions of the Holy Scriptures which had no direct 
bearing on the Law. He gave lectures on the 
writings of the prophets and historians in the form of 
discourses, which had for some time past been in use 
both in and out of the synagogue. These lectures 
were either edifying, comforting, or bitter, sharp, 
and ironical, and applied the words of the prophets 
about Edom and Esau, to hated Rome and its 
tyranny. This kind of exposition of Scripture 
had a name, "Agada" or " Hagadah." Its chief 


subjects consisted in explaining historical events, 
prophetic utterances, and in bringing to mind the 
past, and treating of the future of Judaism. The 
Agada investigated the meaning of the Law, ex- 
amined into the general moral truths of Judaism, 
deftly united the present with the past, and shad- 
owed the present conditions of life in past ex- 
periences. The Halacha forms the chief trunk of 
the Law, the Midrash the suckling roots, which 
drew their nourishment from the words of Scripture. 
The Talmud formed the wide-spreading branches, 
and the Agada was the blossom which scented and 
colored the simple fabric of the laws. 

In his Agadic dissertations Jochanan endeavored 
to illuminate the ordinances of the Law by the light 
of the understanding, and to combine them into 
general truths, but in a clear and simple manner, 
utterly dissimilar from the exaggerated method of 
the Alexandrian-Jewish teachers, who endeavored 
to extract the dazzling light of the Grecian mode 
of thought from Holy Writ. 

Amongst other things, Jochanan explained very 
quaintly why the use of iron is forbidden in erecting 
an altar. Iron is the symbol of war and dissension ; 
the altar, on the contrary, is the symbol of peace and 
atonement.; therefore iron must be kept away from 
the altar. He deduced therefrom the high value of 
peace, the advantages of peace between man and 
wife, between one city and another, and between 
one nation and another. These were the principles 
which had induced him to side with the Romans 
against the revolutionaries. In this way he ex- 
plained various laws, and rendered them compre- 
hensible, when they seemed obscure or in any way 
extraordinary. Jochanan was wont to hold converse 
also with Pagans who had knowledge of the Jewish 
Law, either from the Greek translation or from their 
intercourse with the Jews, refuting the objections 
which they raised, and dispelling or making clear 


by suitable comparisons the peculiarities which occur 
in the Holy Writings. 

Besides Jochanan, who was the most influential and 
the chief personage of his time, there was a group of 
teachers of the Law. They were all at an advanced 
age at the period of the destruction of the State, 
and were without doubt members of the Jamnian 
Synhedrion. Most of them, of whom nothing im- 
portant is recorded, are known only by name. 
Among these were Chanina, the deputy of various 
High Priests (Segan ha-Cohanini}, who has pre- 
served for us traditions from the time of the Temple. 
He belonged to the lovers of peace, and exhorted 
his contemporaries to pray for the \vell-being of the 
ruling power (that of the Romans), "for, if no fear 
thereof existed, then one man would swallow another 
alive." Zadok, another teacher, was a disciple of 
Shammai, and in anticipation of the fall of the Tem- 
ple he fasted for forty years, whereby he ruined his 
health. Nachum, the Mede, who had been pre- 
viously member of a college of the Law in Jeru- 
salem, Dossa ben Archinas, with his brother Jona- 
than, the latter a clear-headed and argumentative 
youth, and Abba Saul must also be mentioned. 

Lastly, there belonged to this circle Nachum of 
Gimso (Emmaus), and Nechunya ben Hakana. The 
first has been recorded by tradition as the hero of 
strange adventures, and even the name of his birth- 
place Gimso has been explained, so as to put into 
his mouth the words "This also is for good" (Gam- 
su-l'-toba). He is represented in the world of 
legend as a scholar to whom many disagreeable ex- 
periences happened, all of which proved of good 
to him. Nachum developed a special mode of 
teaching, which consisted in explaining the oral law 
from the written text, according to certain particles 
which the lawgiver had purposely used as indica- 
tions when drawing up the Law. These particles, 
according to his idea, not only served as syntactical 


signs in the sentences, but as signs for enlarging 
and diminishing the circle within which each law 
should work. Nachum's rules formed a new and 
fruitful addition to those laid down by Hillel ; they 
were carefully cultivated and developed, and re- 
ceived the name " the rules of extension or exclu- 
sion" (Ribbuj-u-m'ut). Nechunya ben Hakana was, 
however, an opponent of Nachum's system ; he ap- 
proved only the explanatory rules as propounded 
by Hillel. 

Jochanan ben Zakkai, the head not of the State 
but of the community, appears to have acted as a 
shield from a political point of view. His kindly 
and gentle disposition, in which he resembled Hillel, 
he displayed even to the heathens. It is related of 
him that he always greeted them in a friendly man- 
ner. Such friendliness offers a striking contrast to 
the hatred felt by the Zealots towards the heathens, 
both before and after the revolution, which in- 
creased after the destruction of the Temple. The 
verse (Proverbs xiv. 34), "The kindness of the 
nations is sin," was taken literally by the people of 
that time, and was specially applied to the heathen 
world. "The heathens may do ever so much good, 
yet it is accounted to them as sin, for they do it 
only to mock us." Jochanan alone explained this 
verse in a sense expressive of true humanity : "As 
the burnt-offering atones for Israel, so mercy and 
kindness atone for the heathen nations." This 
kindliness of Jochanan may have contributed to the 
result that, notwithstanding the fresh outbreaks 
amongst the Jews in Cyrene and Egypt, which the 
Emperors Vespasian and Titus had to put down, 
they did not persecute the Jews in any extra- 
ordinary degree. It is expressly stated in ancient 
records that the Roman authorities removed the 
contempt which formerly attached to the Jews, and 
that the murder of a Jew was punished by death. 
The personality of Jochanan may have served them 


as a guarantee for the peaceful disposition of the 

Hope alone gave to him and his circle of fellow- 
pupils and disciples fresh courage, the hope or rather 
the assurance that Israel should not be lost. The 
dreary present did not veil from him the promised 
and brighter future. The present was in truth 
sufficiently overcast. The pasture lands had been 
taken away from those who had survived the national 
disasters, and given to strangers. Thereby those 
who had formerly been rich had fallen into poverty. 
The very poorest had to pay the Jews' tax (Fiscus 
Judaicus). The land, which before the war had 
been so flourishing, was strewn with ruins. Every 
joy had departed from Israel ; even weddings were 
performed in a silent manner. Jochanan described 
the comfortless position of the times in an address 
to the people. He once saw a Jewish maiden of a 
rich house, picking up a scanty nourishment of 
barley-corn from amongst the horses' hoofs. At 
this he exclaimed, " Unhappy nation, you would not 
serve God, and therefore you must serve foreign 
nations ; you would not offer half a shekel for the 
Temple, and therefore you must pay thirty times as 
much to the State of your new enemies ; you refused 
to keep the roads and paths in order for the pil- 
grims, and, therefore, you must now support the 
watch-lodges in the vineyards, which the Romans 
have seized." 

Agrippa and Berenice, the remaining members 
of the house of Herod, who kept up close connec- 
tions with those in power, appear to have contri- 
buted greatly to the alleviation of the sorrows of 
the conquered Jews. Princess Berenice, whose 
beauty seemed to bid defiance to time, long held 
Titus captive by her charms, and it wanted but 
little for the Jewish princess to become a Roman 
empress. The prejudice of Roman pride disturbed 
the project of a marriage between Titus and 


Berenice, and compelled the Emperor's son to 
break the bonds which had bound him for years. 
Berenice had to leave the royal palace, and proba- 
bly returned to her brother in Palestine. But as 
Titus had not yet given up the hope of making her 
his wife, her voice still had weight with him, and it 
probably was often raised in favor of her co-reli- 
gionists, to whom she was attached. The last 
Jewish king, Agrippa, also stood in favor with 
Vespasian, for the great services which he had 
rendered to his house. It appears that the Em- 
peror had added Galilee to his territories ; Agrippa 
had a Jewish governor, whom he sent alternately to 
the two Galilaean capitals, Tiberias and Sepphoris. 
To this ruler it was no doubt due that the district 
of Galilee recovered itself more rapidly, and became 
sooner repeopled than Judaea, which was governed 
by a Roman ruler. 

The period during which Jochanan worked in his 
new sphere of action cannot be stated with cer- 
tainty. He united in himself the qualities of the 
prophet Jeremiah and the prince Zerubbabel, who had 
been in exile. Like Jeremiah he mourned over the 
destruction of Jerusalem, and like Zerubbabel he 
unrolled a new future. Both Jochanan ben Zakkai 
and Zerubbabel stood at the threshold of a new 
epoch, both laid the foundation-stone of a new 
edifice in Judaism, for the completion of which 
the subsequent generations have worked. Joch- 
anan died on his bed in the arms of his pupils. He 
had previously had a conversation with them, which 
gives an insight into his mind. His pupils were sur- 
prised to find their courageous master frightened 
and depressed in the hour of his death. He re- 
marked that he did not fear death, but the having 
to appear before the Eternal Ruler, whose justice 
was incorruptible. He blessed his pupils before his 
death with these words- -"May the fear of God 
influence your actions as much as the fear of man." 


Immediately after the death of their master, his 
chief disciples held council as to the place where 
they might continue the work of teaching the Law. 
Most of them thought of remaining in Jabne, where 
there lived a circle of men acquainted with the 
traditions of the past. Eleazar ben Arach, the 
favorite pupil of Jochanan, however, insisted on 
removing the school to Emmaus (Gimso), a healthy 
and pleasant town, three geographical miles distant 
from Jabne. Believing that he was absolutely need- 
ful to his fellow-students, and being persuaded by 
his wife that they would soon follow him, he sepa- 
rated from them, and remained in Emmaus. Soli- 
tary and cut off from the opportunity of exchanging 
ideas with others, he is said to have so utterly for- 
gotten what he once knew, that amusing anecdotes 
are related of his subsequent ignorance. To Arach 
was applied the saying, "Repair to the place of the 
Law, and do not fancy that thy comrades will follow 
thee, and that they can uphold the Law only through 
thee ; do not rely too much on thy penetration." 
Whilst Arach, from whom so much was hoped, was 
thus forgotten, his companions continued the work of 
their master, and became renowned in generations 
to come. Gamaliel, Joshua, and Eliezer came to the 
fore as important personages. 

It was first necessary to give a chief to the com- 
munity, which, though small, was yet respected by 
the Jews of all countries. Gamaliel was chosen ; 
he was the descendant of Hillel, and his ancestors 
had presided over the Synhedrion throughout four 
generations. It must have been necessary to remove 
political difficulties to enable the son of the man 
who had been concerned in the uprising against the 
Romans, to attain so high a rank. Gamaliel took 
the title Xasi (Prince --among the Romans, Pa- 
triarch). He had his seat in Jabne, and was also 
sufficiently versed in traditions to preside in the 
school. Although the town of Jabne was of first 


importance, the members of the new college esta- 
blished some schools outside of the town of Jabne, 
but in its neighborhood. Eliezer taught at Lydda ; 
Joshua at Bekiin, on the plains between Jabne 
and Lydda ; other pupils of Jochanan also opened 
schools ; and each attracted a circle of disciples, 
and was called by the title Rabbi (Master). The 
Patriarch was called Rabban (General Master), to 
distinguish him from the other teachers. The Law 


therefore was not left unheeded after the death of 
the founder of the Jabne Synhedrion ; it received, 
if possible, even more attention ; but the unity which 
had hardly been established threatened to dis- 
appear altogether. The disputes between the ad- 
herents of the schools of Hillel and Shammai, over 
which blood had been shed before the destruction 
of the Temple, and which had only been quelled by 
the war of the revolution, broke out afresh, and the 
more severely, as the uniting influence proceeding 
from the Temple now no longer existed. The con- 
tentions between the schools, which extended to 
various practical matters, brought about wide diver- 
gence in the views with regard to the Law and life. 
One teacher held some things to be permissible 
which another forbade ; and in one place things 
were done which were not allowed in another. Thus 
Judaism seemed to have two bodies of laws, or, 
according to the words of the Talmud "The one 
Law had become two." Important questions of 
life, sometimes involving serious consequences, such 
as those concerning marriage, were affected by these 
differences. The younger generation, relieved from 
the necessity for mutual forbearance occasioned by 
the late war, had no very strong desire to make 
peace, but contested the disputed questions with 
great acrimony. The endeavor to terminate these 
quarrels, which threatened the destruction of all 
unity, was the life-task of Gamaliel, but his policy 
brought him into open collision with his friends. 


Little is known of his private affairs, but this little 
shows him to have possessed a high moral character 
and a powerful mind. Gamaliel owned land, which 
he lent to be cultivated on condition that he received 
a part of the harvest. He also gave corn for sowing 
purposes, but when he was repaid he only accepted 
the lowest prices, in order to avoid even the ap- 
pearance of taking interest. He displayed great 
tenderness to his favorite slave Tabi, whom he would 
willingly have set free could he have done so, and 
had not the Law disapproved of manumission. On 
the death of the slave he mourned for him as for a 
relative. Gamaliel appears to have had some math- 
ematical knowledge. In fixing the new moon and 
the holidays dependent on it, he was guided more 
by astronomical calculations than by the evidence 
of witnesses that they had or had not seen the new 
moon. Such reckonings, exact even to a fraction, 
were handed down in the house of the Patriarch. 
Gamaliel often made journeys in order to visit the 
various congregations, to be an eye-witness of their 
condition, and to keep them all in order. His jour- 
neys took him over Judaea, into Galilee, and as far 
as Acco (Ptolemais). Although he was not of robust 
health, he did not spare himself the greatest exer- 
tions, when he could benefit his people. His rule 
as Patriarch occurred in a very troubled time, both 
within and without, and this circumstance caused him 
to insist on his dignity most strictly. His character 
was thereby misunderstood, and he was accused 
of forming selfish and ambitious plans. Gamaliel 
directed his chief energies to raise the patriarchal 
dignity that it should become the center of the 
Jewish community, so as to maintain by his authority 
the threatened unity of the Law, and the religious 
and moral condition of the people. In the contests 
between the disciples of the schools of Shammai and 
Hillel he decreed that votes should be taken with 
regard to each law in question, and that the decision 


should be determined by the majority of votes in the 
college, in order to protect by authority the threatened 
unity of the Law against all attacks. The desire for 
unity seems to have been more generally felt, the 
more the opposition between the two schools in- 
creased, and the more the two sets of followers, 
who clung to the Halachas bequeathed to them by 
their teachers, sought to develop their doctrines. 
Contemporaries did not disguise from themselves 
the fact that the Law might easily be subject to 
confusion through these differences. A fear was 
expressed that the time would soon come when 
men would refer in vain to the Holy Writings or to 
the Oral Law for a decision, and when one account 
would contradict the other. The Synhedrion of 
Jabne, therefore, once more subjected contested 
matters to discussion and decision. It began with 
the fundamental propositions of Hillel and Sham- 
mai, in order to fix by voting such rules as should 
hold good in all cases. But it was not easy to 
obtain unity ; for three and a half years the contest 
is said to have lasted in the vineyards of Jabne, 
both parties insisting on the exclusive correctness 
of their own traditions - - the Shammaites being 
especially stubborn and immovable, and, like the 
founder of their school, not disposed to yield. Then 
a voice, heard by chance (Bath-Kol), which was 
usually considered as a communication from heaven 
in difficult cases, is said to have sounded through 
the school-house in Jabne- -a voice which said, 
" The teachings of both schools are the words of 
the living God, but practically the laws of Hillel 
only are to carry weight." Joshua, a man of calm 
disposition, alone expressed himself against any 
decision arrived at by the Bath-Kol. "We do not 
require a miraculous voice," he said, "for the Law is 
not given for heavenly beings, but for men, who in 
questionable cases can decide by taking a majority, 
and a miracle cannot in such cases give the decision." 


Eliezer also was not satisfied with the conclusion 
arrived at, but this opposition had only slight results. 
Hillel's expositions, deductions, and explanatory 
rules at length attained the authority due to them. 
As the followers of Shammai held with the Zealots, 
the enemies of the Romans, and the Hillelites with 
the peace party, the revolution was in some measure 
ended by this act of the Synhedrion of Jabne. But 
it was not intended to exercise compulsion against 
the Shammaites, and so entirely to reorganize their 
religious life according to the decision arrived at ; 
on the contrary it permitted them to follow their 
own convictions. " Every man according to his 
choice may follow the school of Hillel or of Shammai, 
but the decisions of the school of Hillel shall be the 
only accepted interpretation of the Law." Rabbi 
Gamaliel watched most carefully over the union 
of the two parties, which was probably his work, 
and withstood any attempt to oppose the decisions 
of the Synhedrion ; he was supported by the venera- 
ble Zadok, to whom he gave the place of honor at 
his right hand at all meetings, and who, having 
beheld the Temple in its glory, was considered as 
an authority. 

There seems to have been another regulation in 
use besides the above, but the connection of the 
two is not very clear. The Patriarch of Jabne made 
a rule that only such persons should be admitted 
to the school-house whose uprightness had been 
proved ; and for this purpose he placed a porter at 
the doors of the school, in order to prevent the 
admission of those who were unworthy. It ap- 
pears that he desired to exclude such as pursued 
the study of the Law with wrong intentions ; some, 
perhaps, had sought admission to the school from 
vanity or other ignoble motives. Two warnings, 
the one by Jochanan ben Zakkai, and the other by 
Zadok, against those who took part in the study of 
the Law from self-interest, appear to confirm this 


supposition. The former said, " If you have acquired 
much of the Law, do not be proud of it, for you are 
made for that purpose." The latter said, " Do not 
use the Law as a crown in order to shine with it, 
nor as a spade in order to dig with it." Such low 
ideas Gamaliel endeavored to keep out of the circle 
of the school. 

Both arrangements, the employment of the autho- 
rity of the Patriarch in maintaining the Halachic 
decisions, and the precautions for admitting mem- 
bers and disciples, met with opposition, which at 
first was only timidly expressed. The Patriarch 
endeavored to keep clown contests by the use of 
excommunication, which he employed with great 
energy, and with that entire disregard of conse- 
quences which arises from deeply rooted conviction. 
The excommunication (Nidui) had not at that time 
the gloomy severity of later ages, but was of a mild 
form ; forbidding the interdicted man to hold any 
close intercourse with others until he had penitently 
submitted to the required demands. During the 
interdict, which lasted at least thirty days, the sin- 
ner wore a black mourning-garb and kept several 
mourning observances ; if he died during this period 
without having submitted or repented, the Court of 
Justice had a stone laid on his coffin. Gamaliel had 
the courage to excommunicate several of the most 


important personages of his time, whereby he made 
many bitter enemies. He acted thus even towards 
his own brother-in-law, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. 
Deeply impressed by the unfortunate results which 
disunion must bring to Judaism, threatened as it 
already was by various half-Jewish, half-Christian 
sects, Gamaliel did not hesitate to proceed with 
severity against trifling offenses, in order to avoid 
the destruction of religious unity. There was once 
a discussion about an oven of peculiar struc- 
ture, which a decision of the majority had pro- 
nounced liable to become unclean, like earthen- 


ware vessels. Eliezer, following a special tradition, 
did not wish to yield to this decision, and acted in 
opposition to it ; at Gamaliel's instigation, Eliezer 
w r as excommunicated. 

Gamaliel thought that he had united the two 
schools, and had brought about peace, when his 
power was destroyed by a man from whom he 
had not expected any energetic opposition. Joshua, 
who was of a yielding disposition, and apparently 
the least dangerous of the opponents of the severe 
Patriarch, became his worst enemy. Joshua was 
just as discontented with some of Gamaliel's regu- 
lations as Eliezer had been, but he did not venture 
to show his disapproval on account of his poor and 
miserable condition, and when he happened to utter 
any contradictory opinion he quickly withdrew it 
again. Gamaliel had received the report of two un- 
trustworthy witnesses in order to fix the commence- 
ment of the month of Tishri, on which depended 
the dates of the chief festivals, including the Day 
of Atonement. Joshua showed that the Patriarch 
had committed an error in this act, and demanded 
that the college should change the date of the holi- 
day. Gamaliel remained firm, and sent an order to 
Joshua that on the day which, according to Joshua's 
calculation, was the Day of Atonement, the latter 
should appear before him in workaday clothes, with 
his staff, knapsack, and money-bag. This dictatorial 
proceeding seemed so harsh to Joshua, that he com- 
plained of it to his most important colleagues, and 
appeared determined to oppose it. Those, however, 
who saw the necessity for unity persuaded him to 
yield. The venerable Dossa ben Harchinas con- 
vinced him that the arrangements of a religious chief 
must be uncontested even if they are erroneous, 
and that every man must follow them. Joshua 
allowed himself to be persuaded, and submitted to 
the Patriarch. His appearance filled Gamaliel with 
astonishment. He greeted him heartily, and said 


to him, "Welcome, my teacher and pupil my 
teacher in wisdom, my pupil in obedience. Happy 
is the age in which great men obey inferior ones." 
But this reconciliation was not of long duration. 
The severe proceedings of the Patriarch had raised 
a hostile party against him, which began secretly 
to act in opposition to him. He knew of this oppo- 
sition party, and referred to it in public addresses. 
It is related of him that his mode of opening the 
sittings of the Synhedrion varied. If none of his 
opponents were present he would ask the assembly 
to propound questions ; if, however, any of his 
enemies were present he would not give this invita- 
tion. The opposition party seem therefore to have 
put him in a dilemma at these meetings. Gamaliel 
may have had reason to consider Joshua as the 
chief of this party, and often made him feel the 
power of his own higher position by offensive 
demeanor and severe treatment. One day the 
mutual ill-feeling led to an outbreak, and caused a 
change in the Synhedrion. The Patriarch had once 
again offended Joshua by his severe manner, and 
accused him of secret opposition to one of the 
Halachas. As Joshua at first denied the fact, 
Gamaliel was so angered that he cried out, "Then 
stand, so that witnesses may give evidence against 
you." This was the form of an indictment. The 
school-house was full of people, amongst whom 
there arose a tumult at this contemptuous treatment 
of a member who was respected and loved by the 
people. The opposition party took courage, and 
gave utterance to their dissatisfaction. They called 
out to the Patriarch, " Who is there that has not 
constantly felt thy severity ? " The school was 
turned into a tribunal, and the college deposed 
Gamaliel on the spot from the dignity of Patriarch. 
With his fall ended the regulations made by him. 
The porter was removed from the door of the 
school, to which all could now gain unobstructed 


admission. The members of the Synhedrion imme- 
diately sought for another Patriarch, so that this 
important office might not be unoccupied. They had 
too much tact to heap fresh contumely on the late 
Patriarch by choosing Joshua, his chief opponent, 
and Eliezer, who had a claim to the honor, lay under 
an interdict. Akiba seemed fitted for the post by 
his intellect and character. He had quickly risen 
from ignorance and poverty, had rapidly passed the 
intervening steps between the degrees of pupil and 
master, and had obtained admiration even from the 
profoundest teachers of the Law. But his greatness 
was only of yesterday ; he had no distinguished 
ancestors to show that he was worthy of the dignity 
of Patriarch. The college therefore chose a very 
young member, Eleazar ben Azariah, who at that 
time must have been only in his sixteenth year. 
The choice was made on account of his noble 
descent from a long line of ancestors, which reached 
to Ezra, the regenerator of Judaism, a further motive 
for his election being his immense riches and the 
consideration in which he was held by the Roman 
authorities. Eleazar was not wanting in character 
and understanding, and was therefore considered 
worthy to succeed Gamaliel. 

This deposition and election had great results, 
and the day on which these events took place was 
considered of such importance by after-comers that 
it was known by the simple designation, " that day." 
It seems that the college of the Synhedrion, perhaps 
on the suggestion of Joshua, again revised those 
laws which, through the influence of Gamaliel, had 
been decided according to the spirit of the school 
of Hillel. The college, which at that time consisted 
of the extraordinary number of seventy-two mem- 
bers, therefore undertook the revision of one-sided 
laws, and examined those who were in possession 
of traditions. More than twenty persons are 
recorded to have given testimony before the col- 


lege as to the traditions which had been handed 
down. In many points the majority of the college 
took middle ground between the opposing doc- 
trines of the schools of Shammai and Hillel, and they 
decided " neither like the one nor like the other." 
With regard to other contested questions it ap- 
peared that Hillel himself, or his school, had re- 
nounced their own views, and had been inclined to 
follow the Shammaites. The witnesses with regard 
to the Halachas seem to have been formally ex- 
amined, and perhaps their evidence was even writ- 
ten down. The testimony of witnesses on this day 
bears the name Adoyot (evidence of witnesses), or 
Bechirta (best choice), and the code drawn up is 
without doubt the earliest collection. One recog- 
nizes in its contents the ancient and primitive form 
of the traditions. The laws are put together quite 
promiscuously, and without any other connection 
than the name of the person who handed them 

The day of the assembly of witnesses was also of 
general importance, on account of two questions 
which were discussed. The first question arose 
thus. A heathen of Ammonite descent came before 
the meeting, asking whether he could be legally 
accepted as a proselyte. Gamaliel had turned him 
away with the sentence of the written law, "Moab- 
ites and Ammonites may not be received into the 
congregation of God, even in the tenth generation." 
The disputants treated the question with warmth, 
and Gamaliel endeavored to have his view carried. 
Joshua, however, carried his view that the sentence 
of the Law no longer applied to those times, as, 
through the aggressions of their conquerors, all 
nations had become mixed together and confused 


beyond recognition. The second question concerned 
the holiness of the two writings ascribed to King 
Solomon, Ecclesiastes (Kohelet), and the Song of 
Songs (Shir Hashirim). The school of Shammai 


had not recognized them as holy. This old contest 
was now taken up by the College of Seventy-two, 
which had not approved of the decisions of Hillel, 
but it is not clearly known with what result. Later 
on these Halachas were included in the collection 
(Canon) of the Holy Writings, after which the 
Canon was completed and several writings in the 
Hebrew language were rejected as Apocrypha, 
such as the proverbs of Sirach, the first book of the 
Maccabees, and several others. 

It is a noble characteristic of Gamaliel, which his 
contemporaries readily recognized, that notwith- 
standing the many insults he received on " that 
day," he did not for one moment feel a desire, 
from petty revenge, to retire from his office of 
teacher. He took part in the discussions as before, 
little prospect as there was for him to carry 
througit his ideas in the midst of an assemblage 
which was so opposed to him. But in the eager 
controversies of the day he no doubt became con- 
vinced that his great severity had estranged the 
others from him, and that he had thereby sup- 
pressed many a true opinion ; he felt his courage 
broken and he determined to yield. He therefore 
went to the most respected members of the Syn- 
hedrion, to apologize for his offensive demeanor. 
He visited his chief opponent, Joshua, who was fol- 
lowing his handicraft of needle-making. Gamaliel, 
who had grown up in riches, could not suppress his 
surprise at seeing so learned a man engaged in 
such heavy work, and said, " Is it thus thou makest 
thy living ? ' Joshua took the opportunity frankly 
to put before him the indifference shown to the 
sad condition of several worthy men "It is bad 
enough," said Joshua, " that thou hast only just dis- 
covered it. Woe to the age, whose leader thou art, 
that thou dost not know of the cares of the learned 
and what difficulty they have to support themselves." 
Joshua had uttered the same reproach when Gama- 


Kel had admired his astronomical knowledge ; he 
had modestly repudiated his admiration, and pointed 
out two pupils who possessed distinguished mathe- 
matical attainments, but who hardly had bread and 
clothes. Gamaliel at last besought his enraged 
opponent to forgive him, out of consideration for 
the highly honored house of Hillel. Joshua there- 
upon expressed himself as satisfied, and promised 
to work for Gamaliel's reinstatement in the posi- 
tion of Patriarch. The next step was to induce 
the newly-elected Nasi to give up his dignity, upon 
which he had only just entered. There was a cer- 
tain amount of delicacy in making the suggestion 
to him. Akiba, who was ever ready to be of service, 
undertook the delicate commission, the execution 
of which, however, was not made at all difficult for 
him. For hardly had Eleazar, the newly-elected 
Patriarch, heard that peace was made between 
Gamaliel and his chief enemy, than he was imme- 
diately prepared to return to private life ; he even 
offered to pay a visit to Gamaliel, attended by the 
whole College. The arrangement made between 
the Patriarch and Eleazar was that the former should 
always preside for the first two weeks, and hold the 
classes, and that the latter, as Vice-President, should 
do the same in the third week. 

In this way the strife ended ; it had arisen neither 
from ambition nor pride, but only from an erroneous 
view of the Patriarch's functions. These disagree- 
ments were soon forgotten, and thenceforward Ga- 
maliel lived in peace with the members of the Syn- 
hedrion. Perhaps the position of affairs under the 
Emperor Domitian had diverted the public attention 
from internal matters, and caused the necessity for 
union to be felt, in order to avert the dangers which 
threatened from without. 

Gamaliel represented in this circle of scholars 
that desire for unity and authority which might 
regulate from one center the entire religious and 


national life of the people. His brother-in-law, 
Eliezer, son of Hyrcanus, represented the other 
party, namely, those who maintained their own views 
and refused to submit to universally binding enact- 
ments. From his earliest youth Eliezer had devoted 
himself to the acquirement of Halachas, and these he 
impressed so firmly on his memory that, as he him- 
self said, not a grain of them should be lost. His 
teacher, Jochanan, therefore called him " a sealed 
cistern which lets no drop pass." It was in accord- 
ance with this method that Eliezer taught at Lydda 
(Diospolis), a place which had formerly been a race- 
course. When he was questioned as to a law, he 
either replied as he had been taught by his teachers, 
or openly acknowledged " I do not know ; I have 
not been told." During his stay once in Caesarea 
Philippi in Upper Galilee, thirty questions were 
put to him for decision, to which he replied, "To 
twelve of these I can give the decision which has 
been handed down to me ; for the other eighteen 
I have no tradition." Being asked whether he only 
taught what had been handed down to him, he 
replied, " You compel me now to impart something 
which has not been communicated to me ; for know 
that in my whole life I have never taught a single 
word which has not been handed down to me by my 
teachers." In order to escape troublesome ques- 
tions which, he did not know how to answer, he 
would put cross-questions from which could be seen 
his disinclination to discuss the matter. He was 
once asked whether an illegitimate child could suc- 
ceed to property, and he asked in return, " Whether 
it would be legally considered as a brother." To 
the question whether one might paint a house white 
after the destruction of the Temple, he put the 
cross-question whether one would paint a grave, 
thus keeping firm to his rule never to pronounce a 
decision which had not been made certain to him by 
oral tradition. To the keenest deductions he usually 


opposed the simple reply, " I have not heard it." In 
order to maintain this peculiar view, he seems to 
have impressed on his pupils, " Keep your children 
from searching (Higayon) ; let them rather be 
brought up on the knees of the wise." 

Eliezer was therefore the conservative element 
in the Synhedrion ; he was the organ of tradition, 
which retained the Halachas precisely as it re- 
ceived them ; he was the " sealed cistern ' which 
did not permit one drop of water to run away, 
nor one fresh drop to find entrance. His con- 
temporaries and successors gave him the hon- 
ored name of "Sinai," a living tablet of the Law, 
inscribed with unchangeable precepts. Greatly as 
he was respected, however, as a faithful keeper of 
the traditional Law, he nevertheless was somewhat 
isolated on account of his clinging exclusively to 
traditions. His colleagues had gone too far on 
the road pointed out by Hillel to be satisfied with 
merely keeping the Law ; they desired also to ex- 
tend and develop it. Eliezer necessarily came into 
collision with the tendency of the times. He was 
most strongly opposed to his brother-in-law, Gama- 
liel, and his method of exclusion in striving for unity. 
On the one side was authority supported by a pow- 
erful will, which kept down any revolt against the 
law adopted ; and on the other side was the secure 
knowledge which finds its sanction in the past. 
Such opposites could not be easily reconciled, nor 
was Eliezer the man to give up his convictions. He 
was in fact reproached for his unbending character, 
which refused to submit to others, and which made 
him express his opinions in harsh terms. The res- 
pect which was felt for him personally made it diffi- 
cult to inform him of the fact that he was excom- 
municated, but Akiba once more undertook the 
office of conveying the unpleasant news. Dressed 
in black, he went to Eliezer and gently broke to 
him the sentence, and addressed him in these words, 


" It appears to me that thy comrades shun thee." 
Eliezer understood the hint, and took the blow 
without murmuring ; he submitted to the excommu- 
nication, and lived apart from his friends. He took 
only a distant interest in the discussions pursued in 
Jamnia. When he heard any important decision, he 
used to look among the treasures of the Halachas 
in order to confirm or dispute it. 

Without exercising any influence over affairs 
or taking part in the development of the Law, 
Eliezer lived his last years in nourishing material 
circumstances, but in a dreary state of mind. In his 
misery he gave utterance to a sentence which is in 
marked contrast to the sentiments of his comrades. 
" Warm thyself," he said, " at the fire of the wise, 
but beware of the coals that thou dost not burn 
thyself, for their bite is as that of the jackal, their 
sting like the scorpion's, their tongues like the 
tongues of snakes, and their words are burning 
coals." These are the bitter words of a pained 
spirit, but they do not deny to his opponents a 
measure of justification. 

A striking contrast to the stubbornness of 
Eliezer, and the no less unbending despotism of 
Gamaliel, is offered by Joshua ben Chananya. He 
was the yielding, pliable, peaceable element in this 
newly constituted Jewish body. He protected the 
Law and the people from one-sided and exagger- 
ated ideas, and became the promoter of the study 
of the Law and the benefactor of his people. As 
a young Levite of the choir he had seen the glory 
of the Temple, and had sung the psalms in its halls. 
Together with his teacher he had left Jerusalem, 
and after the death of the latter had founded a 
school in Bekiin. Here he taught his pupils, and 
carried on the humble handicraft of making needles, 
by which he maintained his family. Through his 
twofold occupation Joshua was brought into com- 
munication both with scholars and the common 


people ; and he endeavored to unite the two, and 
was the only man who possessed power over the 
minds and will of the masses. He was personally 
so ugly that an empress's daughter once asked him 
how it was so much wisdom was incorporated in 
so ugly a form. Whereupon Joshua answered that 
wine was not kept in casks of gold. 

Besides an acquaintance with tradition, he seems 
to have possessed some astronomical knowledge, 
which enabled him to calculate the irregular course 
of the comets. This knowledge was once of great 
use to him when he was on a journey. He had 
started on a voyage with Gamaliel, and had 
laid in more provisions than were usually neces- 
sary for the journey. The ship took an erratic 
course for some time, because its captain, deceived 
by the sight of a certain star, had steered in a 
wrong direction. Gamaliel's provisions having 
been consumed, he was astonished that this was 
not the case with his companion, but that, in fact, 
he could even spare some for him. Thereupon 
Joshua informed him that he had calculated on the 
return of a star (a comet), which reappeared 
every seventy years, and which would mislead the 
ignorant sailor, and that therefore he (Joshua) had 
provided himself with extra food for this emer- 
gency. This astronomical knowledge of Joshua 
appears the more surprising, as the cycles of the 
comets were known not even to the learned of 
antiquity. But Joshua was yet more distinguished 
for his modesty and gentleness than for knowledge 
and wisdom, and these qualities he displayed also 
in teaching. He was opposed to all exaggeration 
and eccentricity, and gave heed to the circum- 
stances of daily life when making a legal decision. 

Joshua warmly expressed his disapproval of 
the mumerous measures which the school of 
Shammai had introduced before the destruction 
of the Temple, under the name of " the eighteen 


rules," and which rendered impossible all closer 
relations or friendly communications with the 
heathens. He said, " On that clay, the school of 
Shammai went beyond all bounds in their deci- 
sions ; they behaved as one who pours water into 
a vessel containing oil ; the more water one pours 
in, the more oil runs off," which meant that, by 
introducing a number of superfluous details, the 
really important things were lost. Joshua seems 
also to have opposed the unmeasured deductions 
of the Hillelite school. He said that the regu- 
lations respecting the Sabbath, festive offerings, 
and misuse of holy things, have but slight founda- 
tion in Holy Writ, but have many Halachas in their 

The balanced and calm character of Joshua ren- 
dered him especially fitted for the part of inter- 
mediary between the Jewish nation and Roman 
intolerance. He was the only teacher who sought 
and enjoyed the confidence of the Roman rulers ; 
without betraying his trust to the Romans, he 
yet persuaded the opposing forces to be mutually 
more yielding. The death of Gamaliel, and the 
hostile attitude of the Jews towards the Romans 
during the last years of the Emperor Trajan and 
the early years of Hadrian's reign, seem to have 
torn Joshua away from his petty trade, and to have 
put the public leadership into his hands. It is 
not improbable that he assumed the patriarchal 
position ; at least the circumstance that he removed 
the ban from Eliezer after the latter's death, an 
act which could be performed only by a patriarch, 
or one equal in authority, affords some ground for 
this supposition. Joshua's activity during the last 
years of his life forms an important part of the 
history of his times. 

Amongst the personages of this period, Akiba 
ben Joseph was unquestionably the most talented, 
original and influential. His youthful days and 


mental development are shrouded in darkness, as 
is often the case with characters who leave their 
mark in history ; but legends have cast sufficient 
light to show the obscurity of his descent. Accord- 
ing to one legend, he was a proselyte, and a descend- 
ant of Sisera, who fell through a woman's deceit. 
Another legend represents him as a servant of 
Kalba-Sabua, one of the three richest men of 
Jerusalem, who, by their provisions, wished to 
prevent for many years the famine occasioned by 
the siege. The legend adds that the daughter of 
one of these wealthy men of Jerusalem, named 
Rachel, had bestowed her love on Akiba, on the 
condition that he should follow the study of the Law. 
In those days this meant to acquire culture, and 
thus, in his fortieth year, Akiba entered a school, 
in order to take his first lessons to obtain the 
knowledge in which he was deficient. During the 
period of his studies the daughter of Kalba-Sabua 
had remained faithful to him, living in the greatest 
poverty, to which her father in his anger had 
reduced her by casting her adrift. Of these 
stories so much is certain, that Akiba was very 
ignorant until he was well advanced in years, that 
he and his wife lived under very straitened circum- 
stances, and he related later on that during the period 
of his ignorance, he hated those who were versed 
in the Law. 

Meanwhile his slumbering mind did not develop 
so quickly as the legend relates. One source 
declares that he was one of the pupils of Eliezer 
during many years, without ever showing him- 
self worthy of receiving an instructive reply from 
him. His teacher appears to have regarded him with 
a certain amount of contempt. Perhaps the peculiar 
system, pursued by Rabbi Akiba with regard to the 
newer Halachas, also excited Eliezer's disapproval. 
Akiba had learned this new system under Nachum 
of Gimso (or Emmaus), under whom he studied, not, 


indeed, for two-and-twenty years, as the legend 
relates. Akiba raised what was incomplete and 
fragmentary in this school to a complete system, 
and thus he stands at a turning-point in Jewish 

The peculiar system of Akiba was built on certain 
principles, and in fact he may be considered as the 
only systematic Tanai. In this system the law was 
not considered as a dead treasure incapable of 
growth or development, or, as it was in the eyes 
of Eliezer, a wealth of mere memories, but it formed 
an everlasting quarry in which, with proper means, 
new treasures might always be found. New laws 
were also no longer to be formulated by the voice 
of a majority, but were to be justified by and founded 
on the written documents of the Holy Word. As 
the fundamental doctrine of his system, Akiba 
maintained that the style of the Torah, especially 
in parts relating to the laws (Halachas), was quite 
different from that of other writings. Human lan- 
guage, besides the indispensable words employed, 
requires certain expressions, figures of speech, 
repetitions, and enlargements in fact it takes a 
certain form which is almost unnecessary for convey- 
ing the writer's meaning, but which is used as a 

O O ' 

matter of taste, in order to round off the sentences 
and to make them more finished and artistic. In 
the language of the Torah, on the other hand, no 
weight is put on the form ; nothing is superfluous, 
no word, no syllable, not even a letter ; every pecu- 
liarity of expression, every additional word, every 
sign is to be regarded as of great importance, as a 
hint of a deeper meaning that lies buried within. 
Akiba added a number of explanatory and deduc- 
tive rules to those of Hillel and Nachum, and his 
additions afforded fresh means of development for 
the traditional law. When a deduction had been 
obtained by the correct use of the rules, such con- 
clusion might again be employed as the foundation 

CH. xui. AKIBA'S SYSTEM. 353 

for fresh deductions, and so on, in a continuous 

Akiba was not to be restrained in this course by 
any consequences whatsoever. He had opened up 
a new path with his system, and a new point of 
view. The Oral Law, of which it had been said that 
it hung on a hair and had no firm ground in Holy 
Writ, was thus placed on a firmer basis, and the 
dissensions concerning the Halachas were to a con- 
siderable degree diminished. Akiba's contempo- 
raries were surprised, dazzled, and inspired by his 
theories, which were new and yet old. Tarphon, 
who had at one time been the superior of Akiba, 
said to him, " He who departs from thee departs 
from life eternal ; for what has been forgotten in 
the handing down, that dost thou give afresh in thy 
explanations." It was acknowledged that the Law 
would have been forgotten or neglected, had not 
Akiba given it his support. With exaggerated 
enthusiasm, it was said that many enactments of 
law, which were unknown to Moses, were revealed 
to Akiba. 

Just as Akiba had recognized and confirmed the 
worth of the traditional law, he also assisted in 
reducing it to a methodical system and order. He 
laid the foundation for the possible collection of the 
rich material at hand. It has already been stated 
that the Halachas were strung together without 
connection or systematic grouping ; it was there- 
fore necessary, in order to retain the entire mass, 
to maintain years of intimacy w r ith those who were 
acquainted with the Halachas, to be untiringly 
industrious, and to have a faithful memory. Akiba, 
however, facilitated the study of the Halachas by 
arranging them in groups, and thus assisted the 
memory. The arranging of the Halachas he carried 
out in two ways. He put them together according 
to their context, so that all Halachas concerning 
the Sabbath, marriage laws, divorces, and property 


should form independent wholes. Thus the entire 
matter was divided into six similar parts, each part 
bearing the name Masechta (Textus- - Division). 
These divisions he arranged according to numbers, 
so as to give a useful aid to the memory ; thus, 
from four causes injuries to property might occur ; 
five classes of men could be excluded from the 
tithes of the priests ; fifteen classes of women were 
prevented by consanguinity from intermarrying with 
their brothers-in-law ; thirty-six kinds of sins are 
recorded in the Holy Writings as being punished 
by extermination. The collection of the Halachas, 
instituted by Akiba, was called the Mishna, or more 
fully Mishna of Rabbi Akiba, to distinguish it from 
the later collection ; in Christian circles it was known 
under the name of Akiba's Deuterosis. It was also 
called Midoth (Measures), probably on account of 
the numbers which form the basis of arrangement. 
This Mishna or Midoth, though arranged, was not 
written down ; the contents remained as before 
traditional, but an easier method was employed in 
classifying them. It is hardly probable that Akiba 
alone completed and arranged all this material. 
His pupils no doubt assisted in this collection which, 
later on, formed the foundation of the code that 
terminated the whole traditional system. 

The older Mishnas (Mishna Rishona) were often 
separated from the later (Mishna Acharona, or 
Mishna of Rabbi Akiba), and the latter were taken 
as the norm. The name of the new founder of 
the Oral Law became, through his peculiar mode 
of teaching, one of the most celebrated in the 
Jewish communities far and wide. His mysterious 
descent and his lowly origin only heightened the 
interest felt in him. The number of his hearers 
is exaggerated by tradition, which fixes it at twelve 
thousand, and even double that number, but a more 
modest record represents them as amounting to 
three hundred. Accompanied by this numerous 


band of disciples, Akiba again visited his wife 
Rachel, who for some years had lived apart from 
him in the greatest poverty. The scene of their 
meeting is touchingly described, and her hard- 
hearted father, Kalba-Sabua, proud of such a son- 
in-law, is said to have bequeathed to him his whole 
property. From this time Akiba lived in great 
riches with his wife, who had previously been so 
poor that she slept on a bed of straw. His grati- 
tude to his sorely tried wife \vas in proportion to 
the sacrifices which she had made for him. 

Akiba had his fixed domicile in Bene-Berak, 
where his school was situated. The position of 
this spot, which, through him, became so celebrated, 
is supposed to be southeast of Joppa. Others 
place it yet more to the south, near Ashdod ; but 
Akiba was a member of the Synhedrion in Jabne, 
and it was but seldom that any measure was deter- 
mined without him. 

In the development of Jewish law, in which Akiba 
had wrought such changes, Ishmael ben Elisha took 
an important part. He demanded the explanation 
of the written law from the common-sense view, 
and was thus one of the chief opponents of Akiba's 
system. According to Ishmael, the divine precepts 
of the Torah are expressed in human language, in 
which various figures of speech, linguistic repetitions 
and oratorical modes of expression occur, on which, 
however, no weight should be laid, as they are a 
mere matter of form. He thus put aside the various 
deductions of Akiba, which were based on an appa- 
rently superfluous (pleonastic) word, or even letter 
of the alphabet. Akiba deduced, for example, the 
punishment of death by fire against the adulterous 
married daughter of a priest from one letter of the 
alphabet, on which Ishmael remarked " On account 
of one letter of the alphabet thou wouldst inflict 
death by burning ! ' Ishmael had his own school, 
which was known under the name of Be-Rabbi 


Ishmael. He there developed the rules which were 
to be employed in explaining and applying the 
Written Law. He amplified Hillel's seven rules 
of interpretation into thirteen, by subdividing one 
into several, while he rejected another, and on his 
own authority added one which was quite new. 

The thirteen deductive rules of Ishmael are re- 
cognized as the complete form, but the system of 
Akiba, although partly opposed to it, was not thereby 
excluded from use, for both were equally employed 
by succeeding teachers. There is but little else 
known of Ishmael. He belongs to a circle which, 


doubtless for political reasons, was relegated by the 
Synhedrion from Jabne to Usha. He subsequently 
paid for his love for his nation and the Law with 
his life. Akiba, though an opponent of the theories 
held by him, gave a funeral address in praise of 
him, and was impressed with the idea that a similar 
fate would soon befall himself. 

These five men Gamaliel, the arranger ; Eliezer, 
the strict upholder of tradition ; Joshua, the con- 
ciliator ; Akiba, the systematizer ; and Ishmael, the 
clear thinker, were the center-point of that period ; 
they formed the rays which, starting from one point, 
diverge in order to be finally reunited in another. 

The maintaining and cultivation of the inherited 
Law was a point of union for all men of activity and 
intelligence, and to it they turned all their energy, 
mind and power. The numerous teachers of this 
second generation of Tanaites were called the 
Armed (Baale Tressin), because the Synhedrion 
and schools constituted a battle-field on which the 
combatants contested for the Law (machai nomikai). 
The group was composed partly of members of the 
Synhedrion who had a voice in every decision ; partly 
of ordained members who, through the ceremony 
of " laying on of hands," were elevated to the rank 
of "wise men," from whose midst the college was 
wont to fill up vacancies ; and, lastly, there were 


disciples who sat on the ground as listeners at " the 
feet of the masters." 

Amongst the most important members was Tar- 
phon of Lydda ; he was rich and generous, pas- 
sionate and hasty- -a zealous enemy of the Jewish 
Christians. Further, there were Eliezer of Modin, 
an authority on Agadic explanations ; and Jose, the 
Galilsean, whose heart was soft and full of love for 
humanity. There was also Isebab, the clerk of the 
Synhedrion ; Chuzpit, the public orator or inter- 
preter ; Judah ben Baba, the Chassidaean (he proba- 
bly belonged to the order of the Essenes) ; Cha- 
nanya ben Teradion, who, together with those just 
named, suffered the death of a martyr. Besides these 
were Eleazar Chasma and Jochanan ben Gudgada, 
both of whom were celebrated on account of their 
deep mathematical knowledge and their poverty, 
but they were put in possession of lucrative posts by 
the patriarch at the express intervention of Joshua ; 
Jochanan ben Nuri, a zealous disciple of Gamaliel ; 
Joseph ben Kisma, an admirer of the Romans ; and, 
lastly, Ilai and Chalafta, both of whom became better 
known through their sons. From the class of dis- 


ciples only four distinguished themselves in history, 
Samuel, the younger, and three others all of whom 
were named Simon. The disciples consisted of those 
who, for some reason, had not been amongst the 
ordained, and who were thus excluded from certain 
functions, such as membership of the Synhedrion and 
the holding of certain judicial offices. To these was 
denied the title of Rabbi- -equivalent to the title of 
doctor in our times, but not corresponding to the 
title of Reverend. The title of Rabbi was, in fact, 
first used from the time of the destruction of the 
Temple, and was probably introduced by the disci- 
ples of Jochanan ben Zakkai, who were called master 
by their adherents. 

Samuel the Younger (Hakaton) was a man of 
rare modesty and abnegation, a " true disciple of 


Hillel"; he was chiefly known for his condemna- 
tion of the Jewish Christians, and for the prophetic 
glance, which, when on his death-bed, he cast into the 
gloomy future. He uttered the prophetic words : 
" Simon and Ishmael are doomed to destruction ; 
the nation is threatened with anarchy, and heavy 
persecutions will follow." Those around knew not 
what to make of his utterances, but he foresaw the 
coming troubles under Hadrian. Samuel died child- 
less, and the Patriarch himself delivered an address 
in his memory. 

Simon ben Nanos was renowned on account of his 
intimate acquaintance with the law of the individual, 
and Ishmael recommended all those who were learned 
in the Law to cultivate an acquaintance with ben- 
Nanos. Simon ben Asai was an enemy to marriage, 
and, together with Simon ben Zoma, he became 
absorbed in the theosophic speculations of the 
times. Amongst the great number of teachers of 
the Law, of whom many lost their lives, only one is 
named as having deserted his people, and thus 
having attained to undesirable notoriety. This was 
Elisha ben Abuya, better known by his apostate 
name Acher, who became a persecutor of the Law 
and of those who adhered to it. Outside of Judaea, 
and particularly in Babylon, there existed centers 
for the growth of spiritual activity. Judah ben 
Bathyra, who taught in Nisibis, a town in Babylon, 
was probably a descendant of the family Bene 
Bathyra, which, in the time of King Herod, had 
been at the head of the Synhedrion. In Nahardea, 
Nehemia is named as the teacher of the traditional 
Law in Beth-Deli. From this center there seems to 
have originated, as will be shown later on, the chief 
opposition to Trajan's plans for conquest in the dis- 
trict of the Euphrates. In Asia Minor, likewise, the 
study of the Halachas was pursued, though the names 
of its teachers have not been preserved. Csesarea, 
the capital of Cappadocia (also called Mazaca), ap- 


pears to have been the chief seat of this branch of 
study. Rabbi Akiba, during his journey in Asia Minor, 
found in the latter place a man learned in traditions, 
who held a discussion with him concerning the Hala- 
chas. The Jews of Egypt, who had closed the temple 
of Onias at the command of Vespasian, and had thus 
lost their seat of learning, appear to have pursued 
their studies of the Halachas in Alexandria. They 
continued to occupy themselves with the translation 
of such writings as resembled the Holy Writ or the 
Apocryphal Literature. Sirach translated the say- 
ings of his grandfather into Greek, and others 
translated the book of Susannah and the Letter of 
Baruch. Additions were also made to the Books 
of Esther and Daniel. These later additions to 
Hebrew poetry were considered by Christians as 
part of the Bible. In Judaea, however, no atten- 
tion was paid to these foreign schools, but the 
Synhedrion of Jabne was regarded as the supreme 



Inner Life of the Jews Sphere of Action of the Synheclrion and the 
Patriarch The Order of Members and Moral Condition of the 
Common People Relation of Christianity towards Judaism- 
Sects Jewish Christians Pagan Christians Ebionites Naza- 
renes The Gnostics Regulations of the Synheclrion against 
Christianity Proselytes at Rome Aquilas and his translation 
of the Bible Berenice and Titus Domitian Josephus and the 

THE Synhedrion of Jamnia had become the heart of 
the Jewish nation, whence life and activity streamed 
forth to the most distant communities. Thence 
proceeded all arrangements and decisions relating 
to religious matters, which were to become popular, 
and the observance of which was to be ensured. 
The nation regarded the Synhedrion as a remnant 
of the State, and paid to the Nasi (the President), a 
member of the house of Hillel and a descendant of 
David, an amount of reverence such as might be 
shown to royalty. The Greek title Ethnarch, which 
means Ruler of the People, and which approaches 
nearest to the description of a king, seems to 
show that with the Patriarchate was associated the 
princely dignity. Therefore the people were proud 
of the house of Hillel, because through its mem- 
bers the ruling power remained in the house of 
David, and thus the prediction of the patriarch 
Jacob was verified, "that the scepter should not de- 
part from the tribe of Judah." After the Patriarch 
came his representative Ab-beth-din, and the 
Chacham (the Wise), whose special office is not 
known. The Patriarch had the right of appointing 
judges and the officers of the congregation, and 
probably supervised their actions. The Roman 


government had not yet interfered with the com- 
munal arrangements of the Jews so far as to cause 
the judicial offices to be performed by Romans. 
The authority of the Patriarch left the power of the 
teacher, however, undiminished in certain of the 
schools ; they could confer on their disciples the 
dignities of judge or teacher of the people, and the 
assent of the Patriarch was not required. The 
master laid his hand on the head of the pupil, and 
this ordination was called Semicha, or Minui, and 
meant Nomination, Ordination, or Promotion. The 
ordained bore the title Zaken (Elder), which was 
almost equivalent to that of Senator, for through 
this ordination they obtained the right of member- 
ship of the Council when the choice should fall on 

The chief activity of the Patriarch was felt at the 
public meetings of the Synhedrion. He occupied 
the highest place, supported by the chief mem- 
bers who were seated around in a half-circle. 
Behind these members, whose number at this time 
was probably seventy, there were several rows of 
the ordained, behind whom stood the pupils, and 
at the back the people seated on the ground wit- 
nessed the proceedings. 

The Patriarch opened the meeting either by intro- 
ducing some subject of discussion from the Laws, 
or by inviting the members to speak by the for- 
mula "Ask." If he himself spoke first, he uttered 
some sentences softly to the Meturgeman, who 
then developed and explained them in an orato- 
rical manner. Any person had the right to put 
questions : while the discussion was being held the 
assembly would divide into groups and debate on 
the matter. The president had the right to close 
the discussion, and to bring about its conclusion 
by saying, "The subject has been sufficiently dis- 
cussed." After the conclusion no one was per- 
mitted to return to theoretical discussions. It 


appears that the ordained members also had the 
right of voting. In voting on criminal cases all 
votes were taken, the youngest members begin- 
ning, so that they, by coming first, might not be 
guided by the most influential men ; in other mat- 
ters this method was reversed. Such was the 
procedure at meetings of the Synhedrion when 
questions were to be answered, disputed laws to 
be settled, new arrangements introduced, or old ones 
to be set aside. 

The Patriarch also exercised an important func- 
tion in fixing the dates of the festivals. The 
Jewish Calendar was not permanently fixed, but had 
to be regulated from time to time. The year was 
in fact partly solar, partly lunar, the festivals being 
dependent on the course of the moon, and on the 
influence of the sun on the harvests, and the vary- 
ing course of the solar and lunar years had to be 
equalized. Thus, when the solar year exceeded the 
lunar by a month, which occurred every two or 
three years, a month was inserted, and this leap- 
year contained thirteen lunar months. The length 
of the months was also uncertain ; a month, ac- 
cording to tradition, was to commence when the 
new moon became visible, and this period was 
decided partly by astronomical calculations and 
partly by the evidence of actual witnesses. As 
soon as the witnesses reported to the Synhe- 
drion that the first streak of the young moon 
was visible, that day was fixed as the first day 
of the month, provided it concurred with calcu- 
lations made. If no witnesses presented them- 
selves, the doubtful day was counted in the current 
month. The month thus contained twenty-nine or 
thirty days. The new moon was celebrated in a 
solemn manner, and was announced in earlier times 
by means of bonfires, which could easily be used 
in a mountainous country throughout the land. 
Burning torches were seen on the Mount of Olives, 


as also on Mount Sartaba (Alexandrion), and on 
Mount Tabor, and so on, as far as Beth-Beltis, on the 
Babylonian frontier. On the doubtful day between 
the two months the Babylonian community looked 
out for the signal, and repeated it for the benefit of 
those who lived afar. The congregations in Egypt, 
in Asia Minor and in Greece, however, could not 
use bonfires, they were uncertain as to the day on 
which the new moon fell, and, therefore, they kept 
two days instead of one. The intercalary month 
was announced by the Patriarch in a circular letter 
to the community. 

The Patriarch Gamaliel introduced the use of 
set prayers. Although some of the prayers were 
very ancient, and were used in the Temple at the 
time of the burnt-offerings, yet the chief prayers of 
those days were not formulated, but each man 
was left to pray in whatever words his feelings 
dictated to him. Gamaliel introduced the daily 
prayers, the eighteen Berachoth (blessings), which 
are used in the synagogues at the present day. It 
is not known by whom the prayers were introduced 
for the Sabbath and the Festivals. Prayers were 
universally considered as a substitute for offerings, 
and were called " the offerings of the heart." The 
public service was very simple ; there were no offi- 
cial readers, any one who had attained a certain 
age and was of good repute could pray ; the con- 
gregation called on him to do so, and he was named 
" the delegate of the community." He stood before 
the ark in which lay the scrolls of the Law, and, 
therefore, to pray was called " to go before the ark." 

The Law, with the exception of the sacrificial sys- 
tem, was strictly enforced. The tithes were paid to 
the descendants of Aaron, the corners of the fields 
were left standing for the poor, and every three years 
the poor-tithes were paid. In remembrance of the 
Temple, for whose restoration the most earnest 
hopes were awakened, many observances were 


retained, which could only be of meaning there. 
All those who fulfilled strictly the requirements 
of the Law, giving up the tenth part of all the 
fruits which they possessed, formed a sort of order 
(Chaburah\ the members of which were called 
fellows (Chaberim}. 

In contradistinction to this order were the peas- 
ants the slaves of the soil. A striking picture is 
given of the neglected mental and moral state of 
these peasants, to which the frequent rebellions 
during the last years of the Jewish state no doubt 
contributed. They only observed such laws as 
appealed to their rude senses, and knew nothing of 
a higher life. The members of the order would not 
eat or live with them, and even kept aloof from 
them, that their clothes might not be made unclean 
by contact. It was said by contemporaries that the 
hatred between the two classes was stronger than 
that felt between jews and heathens. 

Thus left to themselves and cut off from the 
higher classes and from all share in communal 
life, without a leader or adviser, the peasants 
easily fell under the influence of young Chris- 
tianity. Jesus and his disciples had especially 
turned towards the unprotected class, and had there 
found the greater number of their followers. How 
flattering it must have been to these neglected 
beings to hear that on their account the Messiah 
had come, that he had been executed so that they 
might have a share in the good things of which 
they had been deprived, more especially of happi- 
ness in a better world. The Law deprived them of 
their rights, while Christianity opened the kingdom 
of heaven to them ! 

The teachers of the Law, absorbed in the task of 
upholding the Law and Jewish life, overlooked the 
element from which a mighty foe to the Law 
would arise. Before they realized it they found an 
enemy on their own ground, who was desirous of 


obtaining 1 the treasure which they had watched with 
such devotion. The development of Christianity as 
a branch of Judaism, drawing sustenance from its 
roots, constitutes, so long as its followers belonged 
to the Jewish people, a part of Jewish history. 

Of the small group of a hundred and twenty 
persons, who, after the death of Jesus, had formed 
his sole followers, a Christian community had been 
formed, especially through the energy of Paul. He 
endeavored to win over the heathens by the belief 
in the resurrection of Christ, and the Jews by the 
belief that the actual appearance of the Messiah 
had proved the inefficacy of the Jewish Law. 
Christianity could no longer be contemptuously 
overlooked, but began to be a new element in 
history. But the doctrine of Paul that the Jewish 
Law was unnecessary, had sown the seed of dissen- 
sion in primitive Christianity, and the followers of 
Jesus were divided into two great parties, which 
were again divided into smaller sects, with special 
views and modes of life. Sectarianism did not show 
itself for the first time in Christianity, as is supposed, 
in the second century, but was present at its very 
commencement, and was a necessary result of 
fundamental differences. The two great parties, 
which were arrayed in sharp opposition, were, on 
the one hand, the Jewish Christians, and, on the 
other, the Pagan Christians. The Jewish Christians, 
belonging to the original community, which was 
composed of Jews, were closely connected with 
Judaism. They observed the Jewish laws in all 
their details, and pointed to the example of Jesus, 
who himself had lived according to Jewish laws. 
They put these words into the mouth of the founder 
of the religion, " Sooner shall heaven and earth 
disappear, than that an iota or a grain of the 
Law shall not be fulfilled"; further, "I have not 
come to destroy the Law of Moses, but to fulfil it." 
They entertained a hostile spirit towards the Pagan 


Christians, and applied to them one of the sayings 
of Jesus, " He who alters any, even the most trivial 
of the laws, and teaches mankind accordingly, shall 
be the last in the kingdom of heaven ; but he who 
obeys them, and teaches them, shall be considered 
great in the kingdom of heaven." Even the devo- 
tion of Jewish Christians to Jesus was not of a 
nature to separate them from Judaism. They con- 
sidered him as a holy and morally great man, who 
was descended in the natural way from the race of 
David. This son of David had advanced the 
kingdom of heaven because he taught men to live 

<.:> fj 

modestly and in poverty, like the Essenes, from 
whose midst, in fact, Christianity had sprung. From 
their contempt of riches and preference for poverty 
they bore the name of Ebionites or Ebionim (poor), 
which was travestied by their Christian opponents 
into a nickname meaning "poor in spirit." Fearing 
to be eclipsed by the other party, the primitive 
Jewish Christian community sent out messengers to 
the foreign communities, in order to impress on 
them not only the Messianic character of Jesus, but 
also the duty which they owed to the Law. Thus 
they founded Judaeo-Christian colonies, of which 
that at Rome in time became the chief. 

In opposition to these were the heathen Christians. 
As the term " Son of God," as used in the language 
of the prophets, contained an idea entirely incom- 
prehensible to them, they interpreted it according 
to their own mode of thought, as meaning God's 
actual Son, a conception which was as clear and 
acceptable to the heathen as it was strange and 
repulsive to the Jews. When once the idea of a 
Son of God was accepted, it became necessary to 
eliminate from the life of Jesus all those traits 
which appertained to him as a human being, such as 
his natural birth from parents, and thus the state- 
ment developed that this Son of God was born of 
a virgin through the Holy Ghost. The first great 


difference between the Ebionites and the heathen 
Christians lay in their views concerning the person 
of Jesus ; the one honoring him as the son of 
David, the other worshiping him as the Son of God. 
The second point turned on the stress to be laid 
on the laws of Judaism. The heathen party paid 
but little attention to the laws relating to the 


community of property and contempt for riches, 
which were the chief ends of Ebionite Christianity. 
The heathen or Hellenic Christians had their chief 
seat in Asia Minor, namely, in seven cities, which, 
in the symbolical language of that time, were called 
the seven stars and the seven golden lamps. 
Ephesus was the chief of these heathen Christian 
conoreofations. Between the Ebionite and Hellenic 

o o 

congregations, which possessed in common only the 
name of the founder, there arose strained relations 
and a mutual dislike, which became more bitter with 
time. Paul and his disciples were fiercely hated by 
the Jewish Christians. They did not cease, even 
after his death, to use expressions of contempt 
against the circumcised apostle who only spread 
error. Admiring the unity and solidarity which 
prevailed in the Jamnian Synhedrion, in contrast 
to the dissensions which reigned in the Christian 


community, a Jewish Christian wrote : " Our fel- 
low-tribesmen follow to the present day the 
same law concerning the unity of God and the 
proper mode of life, and cannot form a different 
opinion of the meaning of the Scriptures. It 
is only according to prescribed rules that they 
endeavor to bring into agreement the sayings of 
Scripture, but they do not permit a man to teach 
unless he has learnt beforehand how to explain the 
Holy Scriptures. They have but one God, one 
Law, one hope. If we do not follow the same 
course, our word of truth will, through the variety 
of opinion, be shattered. This I know, not as a 
prophet, but because I see the root of the evil ; 


for some of the heathens have put aside with the 
Law the prophecies in agreement with it, and have 
adopted the unlawful and absurd teachings of an 
enemy (Paul)." These words are placed in the 
mouth of Peter, the second of the apostles. But 
the Ebionites not only called Paul's predictions and 
instructions, of which he thought so much, unlawful 
and absurd, but gave him a nickname, which was 
meant to brand him and his followers. They called 
him Simon Magus, a half-Jewish (Samaritan) wizard, 
who is said to have bewitched all the world with his 
words. He was said also to have been baptized, 
but it was asserted that he had not received his 
position as apostle through the Holy Ghost from 
Jesus' disciples, but had sought it through bribes to 
the Ebionite community. The honor was not only 
absolutely refused to him, but Simon Peter had 
threatened him with damnation, for his heart was 
full of deceit, bitterness, and injustice. The free- 
dom from the Jewish Law inaugurated by Paul was 
characterized as unbridled license, as the teaching of 
Balaam, which brought in its train the worship of idols 
and the pursuit of vice. The leaders of the heathens 
did not hesitate to reply in a similar strain, and 
perhaps repaid their opponents with even greater 
hatred when, to religious opposition, there was 
added the dislike of the Romans and Greeks to the 
Jews, even after they had become followers of 
Jesus. In the larger Christian congregations the 
two sects often fell into distinct groups and became 
isolated from each other. In the circular letters, 
which the chiefs of the various Christian parties 
were accustomed to send to the communities, they 
made use of sharp or condemnatory observations 
against the opponents of the opinions which they 
held to be the only true ones. Even the stories of 
the birth of Jesus, his works, sufferings, death and 
resurrection, which were written down, under the 
title of the Evangels, only in the first quarter of the 


second century, were colored by the views of the 
two parties, who put teachings and sayings into the 
mouth of the Founder of Christianity, not as he had 
uttered them, but according to their own views. 
These narratives were favorable to the Law of the 
Jews and to the Jews themselves, when they emanated 
from the Ebionites, and inimical towards both in the 
accounts written by the followers of Paul, the heathen 
Christians. The evangelists were thus polemical 

The division between the Ebionites and the 
heathen Christians was by no means confined to 
religious belief, but had a political background. 
The Jewish Christians hated Rome, the Romans, 
the Emperor, and their officials as much as the 
Jews did. One of their prophets (said to be John, 
an imitator of the visions of Daniel), who had com- 
posed the first Christian Revelation or Apocalypse, 
was inspired with the deepest hatred towards the 
town of seven hills, the great Babylon. All the evil 
in the world, all the depredations and plagues, all 
the contempt and humiliation were announced and 
invoked in this first Christian Revelation against 
sinful Rome. They did not imagine that she would, 
at a future time, become the capital of Christianity. 
On the other hand, the followers of Paul not only 
recommended subjection to the Roman Empire, but 
even declared it to have been appointed by God. 
The Christian party, without any regard for those 
Jews who were imbued with a love of liberty, con- 
tinually recommended that taxes and tithes should 
be handed to the Romans. This submission to the 
existing power, this coqueting with sinful Rome, 
which the Jewish Christians thought doomed to 
destruction, was another source of disunion amongst 
various sects of Christians. 

Between the Jews and the Jewish Christians there 
existed at first tolerable relations. The former 
called the latter Sectaries (Minim, Minreans). Even 


the Tanaite and Ebionite teachers mixed freely with 
each other. The strict Rabbi Eliezer, who refused to 
the heathens their share and part in life everlasting, 
had had an interview with the Jewish Christian, 
Jacob of Kephar-Samia, and quietly listened to his 
version, as he had received it from Jesus. Once, 
Bendama, a nephew of Ishmael, having been bitten 
by a snake, determined to let himself be cured by 
means of an exorcism uttered by Jacob. The transi- 
tion from Judaism to Christianity was not a striking 
one. It is probable that various members of Jewish 
families belonged to the Jewish-Christian belief 
without giving rise to dissensions or disturbing the 
domestic peace. It is related of Hanania, the 
nephew of Joshua, that he had joined the Christian 
congregation at Capernaum ; but that his uncle, 
who disapproved, removed him from Christian 
influences, and sent him to Babylon. 

But the Jewish Christians, also, did not remain 
content with the simple idea of Jesus as the Mes- 
siah. They gradually and unconsciously, like the 
heathen Christians, adorned him with God-like attri- 
butes, and endowed him with miraculous powers. 
The more the Jewish-Christian conception idealized 
Jesus, the more it became separated from Judaism, 
with which it still thought itself at one. There 
arose mixed sects from amonof the Ebionites and 


Hellenites, and one could perceive a gradual descent 
from the law-abiding Ebionites to the law-despising 
Antitaktes. The Nazarenes came next to the 
Ebionites. They also acknowledged the power of 
the Jewish law in its entirety ; but they explained 
the birth of Jesus in a supernatural manner from 
the Virgin and the Holy Ghost and ascribed to 
him God-like attributes. Other Jewish Christians 
went further than the Nazarenes, and gave up 
the Law, either in part or altogether. Alter such 
proceedings, a total breach between Jews and 
Jewish Christians was inevitable. At length a time 


arrived when the latter themselves felt that they no 
longer belonged to the Jewish community, and 
therefore they entirely withdrew from it. The letter 
of separation which the Jewish community sent to 
the parent body is yet in existence. It calls on the 
Jewish followers of Jesus to separate wholly from 
their fellow-countrymen. In the Agadic method of 
that period, the Epistle to the Hebrews sets forth 
that the crucified Messiah is at the same time the 
expiatory sacrifice and the atoning priest. It proves 
from the Law that those sacrifices whose blood was 
sprinkled in the Holy of Holies, were considered 
the holiest, and the bodies were burnt outside 
the Temple. "Therefore" -thus continues the 
Jewish-Christian monitor--" Jesus, also, that he 
might sanctify the people through his own blood, 
suffered without the gate (of Jerusalem). Let us, 
therefore, go forth unto him without the camp (the 
Jewish community), bearing his reproach, for we 
have not here an abiding city (Jerusalem as the 
symbol of the Jewish religion), but we seek after the 
city which is to come." When once a decided step 
had been taken to divide the Nazarenes and the 
cognate sects from the Jewish community, a deadly 
hate arose against the Jews and Judaism. Like the 
heathen Christians, the Nazarenes reviled the Jews 
and their ways. As the written Law was holy to 
them also, they directed their shafts against the 
study of Halachas amongst the Tanaites, who in 
those days were the very life of Judaism. In Jewish- 
Christian, as in Jewish circles, men were accustomed 
to view all events from the point of view of Holy 
Writ, and to draw counsel from the explanations 
and references in the prophecies. The Nazarenes, 
therefore, applied to the Tanaites, whom they called 
Deuterotes, and more especially to the schools of 
Hillel and Shammai, a threatening verse of Isaiah 
(viii. 14) : " It shall be a stone of stumbling and the 
downfall of both the houses of Israel," " By the 


two houses the prophet meant the two scholastic 
sects of Shammai and Hillel, from whose midst 
the Scribes and Pharisees had arisen, and whose 
successors were Akiba, Jochanan, the son of Zakkai, 
then Eliezer and Delphon (Tarphon), and th^n again 
Joseph the Galilean and Joshua. These are the two 
houses which do not recognize the Savior; and 


this shall, therefore, bring them to downfall and 
destruction." Yet another verse from the same 
prophet, which runs, " They mock the people through 
the word" (Is. xxix. 21), the Nazarenes applied to 
the teachers of the Mishna, " who contemn the 
nation through their bad traditions." They place 
taunts in the mouth of Jesus against the teachers 
of the Law, which might, perhaps, apply to one or 
another of them, but which as applied to the whole 
body were a calumnious libel. They make him say, 
"On the seat of Moses (the Synhedrion) sit the 
Scribes and Pharisees ; all that they say you must 
follow and do ; but their works ye shall not do, 
for they speak and do not act in accordance ..... 
All their works they clo so that people may notice 
them. They use wide phylacteries and fringes on 
their garments. They love to have the chief place 
at meals and in the synagogues, to be greeted by 
other men in the public places, and to be called 
Rabbi, Rabbi ..... \Yoe to you, ye hypocritical 
Scribes and Pharisees, who devour the substance 
of the widow under the pretense that ye pray long ; 
therefore shall ye receive punishment ; . . . . woe 
to you, that ye tithe the herbs of the ground- -both 
dill and cummin, and that ye leave undone the 
weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy and 
faith. The one must be done, but the other should 
not be omitted. You blind souls who strain at gnats 
and swallow camels, .... who cleanse the outside 
of the cups and platters and leave them within full 
to the brim with extortion and corruption." 

Thus the leaders of the Jewish Christians were 
opposed to the Judaism of the Torah, and thus, 


without actually desiring it, they played into the 
hands of the Hellenes. The teaching of Paul thus 


gained more and more ground, and came at last to 
be considered as true Christianity, as the catholic, 
the universal religion. It was, therefore, natural 
that the various sects of Ebionites and Nazarenes 
should gradually disappear amongst the ever-in- 
creasing numbers of the heathen Christians, and 
that they should become few in numbers and misera- 
ble in condition- -an object of contempt both to 
Jews and Christians. A peculiar phenomenon was 
offered in this contest of opinions, that the further 
the Jewish Christians departed from the Law, the 
nearer did the Hellenes approach to it. In the 
various epistles and letters which the Christian 
teachers sent to the congregations, or to their 
various representatives, they could not sufficiently 
denounce those who sought to make way for the 
Law and the Jewish teachings. 

Meanwhile, Christianity developed a number of 
sects with most curious titles, and of the most eccen- 
tric tendency. Half a century after the destruction 
of the Temple, the two forms of religion in the Old 
World (Judaism and Paganism) underwent a trans- 
formation and partial union. Judaism being without 
a state or point of centralization, endeavored to 
consolidate itself, whilst the Pagan world, in the full 
flush of its power, became disintegrated, and a dis- 
turbance was caused in men's minds which led to 
the most extraordinary results. 

To the two elements borrowed from Judaism and 
Christianity there were added others from the Ju- 
daean-Alexandrian system of Philo, from Grecian 
philosophy, and, in fact, from all corners of the earth, 
whose source can hardly be determined. It was a 
confusion of the most opposite modes of thought 
and teachings, Jewish and heathen, old and new, 
true and false, the lofty and the low, all in close 
juxtaposition and fusion. It seemed as though on 


the advent of Christianity into the world, all the 
most decided teachings of ancient times had be- 
stowed a part of their contents on it, in order to 
obtain thereby importance and duration. The old 
question- -whence did evil arise in this world 
and how its existence could be reconciled with the 
idea of a good and just providence, occupied in the 
liveliest manner all minds which had been made 
acquainted with Jewish dogmas by means of the 
Christian apostles. It was only through a new con- 
ception of God that it seemed possible to solve this 
question, and this new belief was pieced together 
from the most varied religious systems. The higher 
knowledge of God, His relation to the world and 
to religious and moral life, was called Gnosis ; 
those who thought that they possessed it called 
themselves Gnostics, and understood thereby highly 
gifted beings, who had penetrated the secrets of 

The Gnostics, or more correctly, the Theosophists, 
who hovered between Judaism, Christianity and 
Paganism, and who borrowed their views and forms 


of thought from these three circles, were drawn also 
from the adherents of these three religions. So 
powerful must have been the charm of the Gnostic 
teaching, that the authorities of the Synagogue and 
the Church enacted numberless rules and ordinances 
against it, and were yet powerless to prevent Gnos- 
tic teachings and formulae from gaining ground 
amongst the Jews and the Christians. Gnosticism 
spread throughout Judaea, Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, 
and flourished especially in Rome - - the capital of 
the world where all religious views and creeds 
found followers. The language of the Gnostics was 
of a mystic-allegorical character, often borrowed 
from Jewish and Christian confessions of creed, but 
treated in an entirely different manner. Some of 
the Gnostic sects exemplified the peculiarities of the 
tendency of those times. One sect called them- 


selves Cainites, for no other reason than that its 
disciples, in defiance of the Biblical narrative, re- 
garded the fratricide Cain as superior to Abel. The 
Cainites also honored the depraved Sodomites, 
Esau, in spite of his savagery, and the ambitious 
Korah. The Ophites and Naasites were filled with 
similar love of opposition to the Biblical accounts, 
but they assigned to it a better motive than that of 
the Cainites. They took their name from the Greek 
word Ophis and the Hebrew Nahash (Naas) serpent, 
and honored this animal very highly, because in the 
Bible the serpent is considered as the origin of evil, 
and, according to the ideas of those times, was looked 
upon as the symbol of evil, and as the form taken 
by Satan. The Ophites gave thanks to the serpent, 
by whose means the first human pair were led into 
disobedience against God, and thus to the recog- 
nition of o-ood and evil and of consciousness in 



Varied and contradictory as were the tendencies 
of the Gnostic sects, they yet had doctrines in com- 
mon. The fundamental Gnostic doctrines concerned 
the actual knowledge of God, which its founders 
developed in opposition to the idea of God formu- 
lated by Judaism. The Gnostics pictured to them- 
selves the Divine Being as divided into two princi- 
ples of a God and a Creator, the one subordinate 
to the other. God they called Silence or Rest, 
and depicted him as enthroned in the empyrean 
heights, without relation to the world. His funda- 
mental attributes were grace, love, mercy. From him 
proceeded emanations which revealed a portion of 
his essence ; these emanations were called aeons 
(worlds). Beneath this highest of all beings they 
set the Creator of the world (Demiurge), whom they 
also called Ruler. To him they assigned the work 
of creation ; he directed the world, he had delivered 
the people of Israel, and given them the Law. As 
to the highest God appertain love and mercy, which 


harmonize with freedom, so to the fundamental 
character of the world's creator appertain justice 
and severity, which he causes to be felt through laws 
and obligations. According to the usual practice of 
the age, the Gnostics found a passage of Scripture 
to illustrate these relations between the God of 
justice and the God of grace. Isaiah vii. 6 reads : 
" We will go up to Judah, and instal another king, 
the son of the good God (Tab-El)." They depict 
the Creator as forming the world out of primeval 
matter by means of wisdom (Achamot). " Wisdom," 
as it is expressed in their allegorical language, " be- 
came allied with primeval matter which existed from 
eternity, and a variety of forms were brought forth ; 
but wisdom became thereby bedimmed and dark- 
ened." According to this exposition, the Gnostics 
assumed that there were three original Beings 
the highest God, the Creator, and Primeval Matter, 
and from these they developed the various condi- 
tions and stages in the spiritual and actual world. 
All that is good and noble is accounted an emana- 
tion from God ; justice and law come from the 
Creator ; but what is imperfect, bad, or crippled in 
this world is the result of the primeval matter. 

In correspondence with this Gnostic division of the 
three powers of the world, there are also amongst 
mankind three classes or castes, which are in the 
service of these three principles. There are spiritual 
men (Pneumatics) ; they are as a rule and law to 
themselves, and do not need guidance or guardian- 
ship ; to this class belong the prophets, and the 
possessors of the true Gnosis. There are, secondly, 
material men (Psychics), who are in the service of 
the lawgiving Demiurge ; they stand under the 
yoke of the Law, by means of which they keep 
themselves aloof from what is worldly, without, 
however, rising to the height of spiritual men. 
Lastly, there are earthly men (Choics), who, like the 
lower animals, are bound in the fetters of earth and 


matter. As types of these three classes of men the 
Gnostics gave the three sons of Adam ; Seth was 
the origin of the Pneumatic, Abel the type of the 
law-abiding man, and Cain the picture of the earthly 
man. Some of the Gnostics also classified the 
three religions according to this scheme Christ- 
ianity was the offspring of the highest God, Judaism 
of the Demiurge, and, lastly, Paganism was a 
product of earthly matter. 

A by no means insignificant number of Jews 
allowed themselves to be blinded by the uncertain 
light of the new teachings, in which truth and false- 
hood were so wonderfully commingled, and to 
be thus drawn away from the parent body. The 
secession of one man, Elisha ben Abuya, subse- 
quently had very sad results. The reasons which 
induced this teacher of the Law, who was not 
behind his fellows in knowledge, to fall a\vay, give 
proof of the important influence exercised by the 
false teachings of theosophy on Jewish circles. 
Legend has, however, embellished the story, in 
order to explain how one who was versed in the 
Law could take so strange a step as to despise the 
Law. It is not to be doubted that Elisha ben Abuya 
was well acquainted with Gnostic literature, as also 
with Grecian songs, and with the writings of the 
Minaeans. It is also certain that he knew of the 
fundamental doctrine of the Gnostics, which repre- 
sented God as a dual being, and that, like the 
Gnostics, he despised the Jewish Law. He is also 
said to have adopted practically the evil Gnostic 
morality, and to have given himself up to a dis- 
solute life. Having thus fallen away from Judaism 
he received, as a mark of his apostasy, the name 
Acher (another), as though by going over to other 
principles he had really become another man. 
Acher was considered in Jewish circles as a striking 
example of apostasy as a man who employed his 
knowledge of the Law to persecute it the more 


Against such incursions as were committed by 
Christianity Judaism had to defend itself, in order 
to maintain its existence and continuance. Ini- 
mical powers thronged its Temple, desecrated the 
holy things, dimmed its clear belief in God, falsified 
and misapplied its teachings, turned away its dis- 
ciples, and filled them with hate and contempt for 
what they had formerly honored. The time of the 
Hellenists in the Maccabean period, who had first 
brought dissension into the house of Israel, seemed 


to have returned with renewed horror. Once 
again sons conspired against their own mother. 
The narrow circle of the Tanaites felt the danger 
most severely ; it hoped for nothing good from 
the teachings of the Minaeans, and recognized that 
their writings exercised a seductive influence on 
the masses. Tarphon (Tryphon) spoke of this 
dangerous influence with the deepest conviction. 
"The Evangels (Gilion), and all the writings of the 
MiiKtans deserve to be burnt, even with the holy 
name of God, which occurs therein ; for Paganism 
is less dangerous than the Jewish-Christian sects, 
because the former does not recognize the truths of 


Judaism from want of knowledge, whilst the others, 
on the contrary, deny what they fully know." He 
would therefore rather flee for safety to a heathen 
temple than to the meeting-house of the Minaeans. 
Ishmael, whose character was less violent than that 
of Tarphon, displayed the same feeling against that 
Jewish Christianity which had shown itself so false 
to its origin. He said that one need not hesitate 
to burn the name of God in the Evangels, for these 
writings only stir up anger between the Jewish 
people and its God. Those who professed Chris- 
tianity were also reproached with seeking to damage 
their fellow-countrymen with the Roman authorities 
by tale-bearing and accusations. Perhaps by this 
means the Jewish Christians sought to recommend 
themselves to their superiors, and to show that they 


had no connection with the Jews. Their contem- 
poraries therefore always considered the name 
Minseans as meaning tale-bearers. 

It is related as a fact that high officers of one 
of the emperors, probably Domitian, came into 
the school of Gamaliel, in order to find out 
what instruction was given with regard to the 
heathens. The Synhedrion of Jamnia must have 
occupied itself with the question what position the 
Jewish Christians should occupy in the Jewish com- 
munity, and whether they should in fact be con- 
sidered as Jews at all. There is no resolution of 
the Synhedrion extant with regard to the Minceans, 
but the regulations which were introduced with 
regard to them give evidence as to its existence. 
An actual line of separation was drawn between 
Jews and Jewish Christians ; the latter were placed 
below the sect of Samaritans, and in some respects 
below heathens. It was forbidden to partake of 
meat, bread, and wine with the Jewish Christians, 
as had been the case shortly before the destruction 
of the Temple with regard to the heathens, and to 
the same end that of preventing closer inter- 
course with them. The Christian writings were 
condemned, and were put on a par with books of 
magic. Even to enter into business relations, or to 
receive menial services, was strictly forbidden, es- 
pecially the use of magical cures which the Chris- 
tians performed on animals or men in the name of 
Jesus was prohibited. A form of curse (which bore 
the name of Birchath ha-Minim) was likewise em- 
ployed against the Minceans in the daily prayers, as 
also against the informers. The Patriarch, Gamaliel, 
confided the composition of this prayer to Samuel 
the Younger. This circumstance confirmed the idea 
that the various ordinances against the Jewish 
Christians, even if not proceeding direct from the 
Patriarch, yet had his consent. The form of curse 
appears to have been a sort of trial of faith in order 


to recognize those who secretly adhered to Chris- 
tianity. For, in connection with it, it was decreed 
that whosoever refrained at the public prayers from 
pronouncing the curse, or from praying for the res- 
toration of the Jewish State, was to be dismissed 
from his office of precentor. The Synhedrion pub- 
lished all the enactments against the Jewish Chris- 
tian sects by circular letters to the communities. 
On the part of the Christians the Jews were accused 
of cursing Jesus three times a day namely, at the 
morning, afternoon, and evening prayers. This re- 
proach is quite unfounded, and, like many another 
made against the Jews, is based on a misunder- 
standing. The curse uttered in the prayers was 
not directed against the founder of the Christian 


religion, nor against the entire body of Christians, 
but against the Minaean informers. 

The separation of the Jewish Christian sects 
from the Jewish community did not efface the 
results of the influence which for a time they 
had exercised. Certain Gnostic, that is to say 
semi-Christian views, had found their way into 
Jewish circles. Ideas regarding the primeval forces, 
the aeons, the predestined differences of caste 
among men, even the teaching as to the two-fold 
existence of God as a God of kindness and a God 
of justice, had been adopted by many, and had 
become so firmly fixed as to find expression in the 
prayers. Certain expressions were employed in the 
prayers which bore reference to the Gnostic or 
Christian ideas. Forms of prayer as, " The good 
praise thee, O God ; Thy name is named for 
good"; the repetition of the expression, "Thee, 
O God, we praise"; the use of two names, all 
these bore a reference to the Theosophic theory, 
which dwelt on the grace of God at the expense of 
His justice, and thus endangered the fundamental 
principles of Judaism. An impetus was given to 
this train of thought by researches into the chapter 


concerning the creation of the world, and the throne 
of God as described in. the Prophet Ezekiel, 
(Maas'se Bereshith, Maasse Merkaba]. The explo- 
ration of this dubitable ground gave full scope 
to the imagination, and, with the assistance of the 
Agada, allusions were detected and made to apply 
to any subject, however far it might lie outside the 
true meaning of the text. Researches into such 
themes, the darker the more attractive, became 
a favorite occupation ; such profound meditations, 
in the mystic language of metaphor, were called 
"entering into paradise." Various teachers of the 
Law are said to have been admitted to this higher 
wisdom, but it was not denied that this occupation 
brought with it many dangers for the Jewish religion. 
These dangers are hinted at in the statement that 
of those who devoted themselves to the study, 
Ben Soma and Ben Asai brought upon themselves 
respectively the one an attack of madness, the 
other early death, Acher fell away from Judaism, 
and Akiba alone fortunately escaped the danger, as, 
in spite of his theosophic researches, he yet remained 
on the territory of Judaism. 

In point of fact Akiba had formed the purest con- 
ception of God, of his rule, and of the duty of man ; 
and thus offered a sharp contrast to the ideas of the 
Gnostics. He uttered a saying which is noteworthy 
on account of its comprehensiveness and its brevity. 
He said: " There is a providence in all things ; free 
will is given to man ; the world is ruled by kindness, 
and the merit of man consists in the multitude of 
good deeds " (that is to say, not merely in know- 
ledge). Every w r ord in this saying bears witness 
against the errors of that time. As the far-seeing 
Tanaites did not shut their eyes to the dangers 
arising to Judaism from these inquiries into the 
highest truths, they made preparations to avert the 
same. Akiba especially insisted on placing boun- 
daries to the unregulated theories which led to a 


falling-off from Judaism and to the wildest immo- 
rality. He was of opinion that the passages con- 
cerning the theory of creation and the cloud-chariot 
of Ezekiel should not be expounded before the 
whole people, but should be reserved for a few 
chosen hearers. Those who could be initiated into 
higher wisdom must have the knowledge to under- 
stand hints and dark sayings, and, above all, must 
have passed their thirtieth year. Akiba endeavored 
to put an end to the study of literature which was 
opposed to Judaism, by denying to those who took 
part in it a portion in the future world, as was de- 
creed against those who denied the resurrection and 
the divinity of the Jewish Law. The introduction 
of such forms of prayer as bore the impress of the 
teachings of the Minaeans was wholly repressed. 
These measures against the introduction of Gnostic 
Christian theories bore fruit ; the pure beliefs of 
Judaism, with regard to God, His relation to the 
world, and the moral conditions of men, remained 
in Jewish circles untainted, as fruitful ideas for the 
future. To the Tanaites of this period must be 
given the credit that, like the prophets of old, they 
protected Judaism from the falsehoods and errors 
which threatened to overwhelm it. Following the 
natural instinct of self-preservation, they, on the one 
hand, shut out the Jewish Christian sects from the 
Jewish community, and, on the other hand, strength- 
ened Judaism, and armed it with a strong power, 
which upheld it in the storms which, through cen- 
turies, threatened it with destruction. 

Thus strengthened and concentrated, Judaism 
was enabled to exercise some external influence. If 
Christianity, which had sprung from such slight 
elements, was proud of the vast number of Pagans 
who had joined it, and given up their national 
deities for the sake of an unknown God, Judaism 
had yet more reason to be proud. A great part 
of the conquests which Christianity gained in the 


Pagan world were due to the Jewish religion, whose 
fundamental truths and moral teachings had often 
facilitated the conversion of the heathens. It was 
only through the truths of Judaism that those 
apostles who desired to convert the heathens laid 
bare the inconsistent perversions of the Greeks and 
Romans, for they made use of the words of scorn 
employed by the prophets against the worship of 
idols, and the immorality arising therefrom. But 
Judaism celebrated its independent triumphs over 
Paganism, which appear the more brilliant when 
it is remembered that it lacked all the means and 
advantages which facilitated the conversions from 
Paganism to Christianity. The Christians sent out 
zealous messengers, and, following the example of 
Paul, sought to make converts by eloquence and 
so-called miraculous cures. They imposed no heavy 
duties on the newly-made converts, and even per- 
mitted them to retain their former habits of life, 
and, in part, their old views, without separating 
themselves from their family circle, their relations, 
or from intercourse with those dear to them. 

With Judaism it was different ; it possessed no 
eloquent proselytizing apostle ; on the contrary it 
dissuaded those who were willing to come over, by 
reminding them of the heavy ordeal through which 
they would have to pass. Jewish proselytes had to 
overcome immense difficulties ; they were not ac- 
counted converts unless they submitted to the 
operation of circumcision ; they had to separate 
from their families and from the friends of their 
youth in eating and drinking and in daily inter- 
course. Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary fact 
that during the half-century after the destruction of 
the Jewish State, there were everywhere conver- 
sions of heathens to Judaism, both in the East and 
in Asia Minor, but especially in Rome. The ques- 
tion arose as to whether the Ammonites could be 
admitted to the community, or whether the Biblical 


command with regard to the Moabites and Ammon- 
ites, which forbade their admission into a congre- 
gation of God, still held good. Further, a contest 
arose as to whether proselytes from Tadmor (Pal- 
myra) could be admitted, the prejudice against them 
being strong. An entire portion of the Law treats 
of proselytes {Masechet-Gerini}, and in the daily 
prayers the true converts were included (Gere-ha- 
Zedefc}. Several converted Pagans acquired a 
knowledge of the Halachas. Akiba had two prose- 
lytes amongst his disciples. 

The greatest number of converts were to be 
found in Rome, and this in spite of the hatred felt 
for the Jews by the Romans. The clear-headed 
historian, Tacitus, could not explain the fact that 
the Romans of his time could submit to circum- 
cision, could renounce their country, disregard their 
parents, their children and relations, in order to go 
over to Judaism. The severe laws of the Emperor 
Domitian against proselytes suggest an inference 
as to their frequent occurrence. Josephus relates, 
as an eye-witness, that in his time, amongst the 
heathens, there arose great enthusiasm for Jewish 
customs, and that many of the people observed the 
Feast of Dedication (Chanuka), the Sabbath, and 
the dietary laws, and that a strong feeling existed in 
favor of the Jewish religion. " If each man thinks 
of his own country and his own family," says Jose- 
phus, " he will find that my assertion is correct. 
Even if we do not fully value the excellence of our 
laws, we should respect them, on account of the 
numbers of people who respect them." Different 
opinions were held as to the admission of proselytes 
by the severe Eliezer and the mild Joshua. Whilst 
the former held circumcision to be absolutely neces- 
sary for admission to Judaism, the latter considered 
a baptism, that is, bathing in the presence of quali- 
fied witnesses, to be sufficient. The milder view 
seems to have prevailed. Many of those Romans 


who joined Judaism, probably did not undergo the 
operation. The historian, Josephus, who, in his 
"Apology for Judaism and the Jewish Race," and, 
perhaps, also by his intimacy with the higher grades 
of Roman society, endeavored to gain over the 
heathens to the Jewish religion, and was, probably, 
successful in his attempts, did not consider cir- 
cumcision as imperative. 

The pride of Judaism was the proselyte Akylas 
(Aquila). He came from the district of Pontus, and 
owned rich estates. Well acquainted with the Greek 
language, and with philosophy, Akylas, at a mature 
age, forsook the heathen customs in order to join 
the heathen Christians, who were proud of such a 
disciple. Soon, however, he gave up Christianity, 
in order to go over to Judaism. This secession was 
as painful an event to the Christians as his former 
conversion had been a joyful one, and they spread 
evil reports concerning him. As a Jew, Akylas 
associated with Gamaliel, Eliezer and Joshua, and 
with Akiba, whose disciple he became. The prose- 
lyte of Pontus became strongly attached to Judaism, 
and observed a yet higher degree of Levitical purity 
than even the Patriarch. After the death of his 
father, when the heritage was divided between him 
and his brothers, he would not take the equivalent 
for the idols which became his brothers' share, but 
threw the money into the sea. 

Akylas became celebrated through his new Greek 
translation of the Holy Scriptures. The license 
with which the Christians treated the old Greek 
version appears to have awakened him to the 
necessity of a simple but fixed form of transla- 
tion. As the Christians read the Holy Scriptures 
at their service, and employed the Alexandrian 
translation of the so-called Seventy (Septuaginta), 
they were anxious to deduce from this text nu- 
merous references to Christ. They changed various 
sentences and added others, in order to obtain 


the desired prophecies about Christ from the 
Greek text, which they held sacred. Several pas- 
sages may be found employed by the teachers 
of the Church in confirmation of the teachings of 
Christ, which cannot be found either in the Hebrew 
or in the original form of the Greek text. The 
Gnostic sects, for their part, did not fail to make the 
needful additions, so as to give their teachings the 
authority of the Bible. The school of one Artemion 
is expressly named as having defaced the Greek 
translation. The Jews, on the other hand, startled 
at the alterations made in order to confirm the 
Christian point of view, did not hesitate to intro- 
duce changes of their own in order to remove all 
apparent allusions to Christ. The Septuagint was, 
therefore, the meeting-place for violent encounters, 
and the traces of the contest are plainly to be seen 
in the maimed condition of the text. 

A good Greek translation of the Bible was like- 
wise a necessity for every Greek-speaking Jew. 
At that time it was a universal custom to inter- 
pret the portions read from the Bible into the 
language of the country. On these grounds, Akylas, 
who had a perfect knowledge of the Hebrew and 
Greek languages, began a new translation, in order 
to counteract the unlicensed violence done to the 
text. For this purpose, while translating, he kept 
strictly to the original Hebrew text, and with exces- 
sive caution rendered word for word, without regard 
to the fact that thereby the sense became incompre- 
hensible to the Greek readers. The literalness of 
Akylas' translation, which has become proverbial, 
extended to such particles as have a twofold sense 
in Hebrew, and these ambiguities he desired to 
retain in his rendering. He wished to make the 
meaning contained in the Hebrew perceptible in 
its Greek form. It was known in Greek as the 
" Kat' akribeian " (the perfect fitting). This transla- 
tion, on account of its exactness, set at rest 


all doubts, and comforted the consciences of the 
pious. The teachers of the Law used it universally 
for public readings. The Ebionites, to whom the 
older translation was also objectionable, employed 
that of Akylas in their services. An Aramaean 
translation was made partly from that of Akylas on 
account of its simplicity, and was called Targum 

A great sensation was at that time created in 
Rome by the conversion to Judaism of Flavius 
Clemens and his wife Flavia Domitilla. Flavius was 
a cousin of the Emperor Domitian ; he was also a 
member of the Senate, and Consul. His wife was 
also a near relative of the Emperor. Their two 
sons had been named as Csesars by Domitian, 
therefore one of them would have become emperor. 
\Vhat a brilliant prospect for the Jews that a near 
relative of the Emperor Titus should reconstruct the 
Temple which the latter had destroyed ! Although 
Clemens probably kept his adherence to Judaism 
secret, yet it was known to the Jews in Rome, and 
to the leaders in Palestine. On receipt of the news, 
together with the information that a decree of 
extermination had been passed against the Jews 
residing in the provinces of the Roman Empire, 
the four chiefs, the Patriarch Gamaliel and his 
coadjutor Eliezer, the son of Azariah, Joshua and 
Akiba, set out on the journey to Rome. When not 
far from the capital of the world they heard the 
thousand-voiced noises of the city, and were pain- 
fully affected when they thought of the desolate 
silence which reigned on the Mount in Jerusalem. 
They shed tears at the contrast. Akiba alone 
maintained his cheerful demeanor, and consoled his 
sorrowing friends with the words : " Why do you 
weep? If God does so much for His enemies, what 
will He not do for His favorites ? ' 

In Rome they were treated with great reverence, 
both by the Jews and the proselytes, and they had an 


opportunity of answering many religious questions. 
But they had arrived at an unfavorable moment. 
Domitian was at the height of his bloodthirsty 

The period of favor towards the Jews on the part 
of the Flavian house was at an end. Even Titus, 
Domitian's predecessor, had already wiped away 
from his mind the recollection of all he owed to 
them. His love for the Jewish Princess Berenice 
he suppressed. When Titus became sole ruler, 
Berenice journeyed a second time to Rome to 
remind him of his promise of marriage ; but she 
came too soon or too late. Titus at that time played 
the part of a reformed sinner, and wished to show 
the Romans that he had put aside the past. He 
banished Berenice from Rome, who, as was said, 
left, but with a broken heart. Berenice personified 
the relation of Rome to the Jewish people, who 
were first in high favor, and afterwards cast into 
banishment and miser)'. It is not known for how 
long a time the Jewish Princess survived her dis- 
grace. Titus showed no more gratitude to her 
brother, Agrippa II. He left to Agrippa his king- 
dom or principality as it had hitherto existed, but 
did not enlarge it as his father had done. Domi- 
tian, the third of the Flavians, had no reason for 
displaying any favor to Agrippa. When the latter, 
the last of the Judsean kings, died (92), the Em- 
peror appropriated his territories, and made them 
into a province of Syria. 

Domitian, who, like Titus at his accession, had 
promised to bring back a golden era, became, during 
the course of his government, just as sinful and 
bloodthirsty as Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero. He 
was worthy of his nation and his times, of which 
the poet Juvenal said --"It would be difficult to 
avoid satirizing them." The Jews had to suffer bit- 
terly under this reign of blood. Domitian insisted 
on the payment of the Jews' poll tax, and levied it 


in the most humiliating manner, and under circum- 
stances of peculiar severity. Severe, however, as 
he was towards the Jews, Domitian was doubly hard 
towards the proselytes, and suffered them to feel 
the full weight of his tyrannical power. Those who 
were accused of a bias for Judaism were, by the 
emperor's command, dragged before a tribunal, and 
if their fault was proved against them, they were 
visited with the full punishment of the Roman law 
against irreligion. Proselytes were, therefore, de- 
spoiled of their property, sent into exile, or con- 
demned to death. Tacitus relates, in his inimitable 
style, that executions not only took place from time 
to time and at long intervals, but that they occurred 
in continuous succession. At this time (95) Flavins 
Clemens was condemned to death, Domitian having 
heard of his leaning towards Judaism. Neither his 
relationship with Domitian nor his high rank could 
protect him. The four teachers of the Law from 
Palestine, who had come to Rome on his account, 
and who expected a brighter future from him, were 
witnesses of his death. His wife, Domitilla, who 
was exiled to the island of Pandataria, is said to 
have declared to the teachers of the Law that 
Clemens had been circumcised before his death. 

Josephus, the Jewish historian, with his friendly 
feelings towards Rome, appears to have taken part 
in the lawsuit against Flavius Clemens and the 
other Jewish proselytes. He stood in high favor 
with the Emperor Domitian and the Empress Do- 
mitia ; but owing to the position which, during the 
last Jewish war, he assumed towards the Romans, 
he became so hated by his countrymen that constant 
complaints about him were made to the emperor. 
Once he was even accused of treason to Domitian 
by the teacher of his own son. In his spare time 
Josephus occupied himself with a comprehensive 
work on Jewish history from its commencement to 
the period before the war, and this he completed in 


twenty books in the thirteenth year of Domitian's 
reign (93). With much trouble and at great ex- 
pense he had collected and used non-Jewish sources, 
had brought them into unison with the historical 


accounts of Holy Writ, and thus erected a national 
monument, by which the deeds and thoughts of 
the Jewish nation became known to the cultured 
world. But soon after he erected for himself a 
monument of shame. Justus of Tiberias, his former 
enemy, had meanwhile written his history of the 
Judaean wars, in which he represented Josephus as 
an enemy to the Romans, a statement which might 
have led to unpleasant consequences. Josephus 
felt that his honor was attacked and his life threat- 
ened. Not much was needed for the suspicious 
tyrant Domitian to cast a man from the highest 
grade of his favor to the abyss of a disgraceful fall. 
In order to justify himself against the accusations 
of his enemy, Justus of Tiberias, Josephus appended 
to his history a description of the events of his own 
life, describing his conduct during the war. To 
clear himself from the imputations cast on him, he 
represents his own character in a most unfavorable 
light, as though he had always held with the Romans 
and betrayed his own people. But in his fourth 
work, published in 93 or 94, Josephus, though he 
could not entirely redeem his character, yet clearly 
evinced his deep love for his religion and his race, 
and thereby earned for himself the thanks of his 
people. In two books against the Greeks and 
against Apion, he opposes, with deep conviction, 
the accusations made against Judaism and the Jewish 
race, and upholds the religious and moral superiority 
of the Jewish law. These two books are probably 
intended to win over enlightened heathens to Ju- 
daism. Josephus points out with joy that many of 
the heathens amongst the Greeks and Romans 
already honored the God of Israel and followed His 
laws. These books were dedicated to his friend 


Epaphroditos, a learned Greek, who was strongly 
inclined towards Judaism. No doubt Josephus 
endeavored personally to win over proselytes. He 
must have associated with Flavins Clemens, as he 
lived in the Flavian palace. When Domitian carried 
into effect the sentences pronounced against his 
cousin Clemens and the followers of Judaism, it is 
probable that a prosecution was commenced against 
Josephus for having led them astray. A philosophi- 
cal essay concerning the laws of Judaism, which he 
promised to publish in his last books, remained un- 
written, as his thread of life was cut short probably 
by Domitian. The Jewish patriots, however, were 
so embittered against Josephus that they did not 
express any sorrow at his death, which was probably 
that of a martyr. Nor was it referred to by the 
four teachers of the Law, who left oral traditions as 
to the death of Flavins Clemens. 

A complete contrast to the character of Domitian 
was presented by his successor Nerva. Just, wise 
and humane, he was only wanting in the freshness 
and courage of youth, in order to give effect to his 
wise ordinances, and to restore the Roman empire, 
shattered as it had been by Domitian's cruelty and 

The Jews and proselytes immediately felt the 
effect of the change of ruler. During the short 
period of his reign which only lasted sixteen 
months, from September 96, till January 98- 
Nerva, who had to put an end to various perversions 
and abuses in the constitution, yet found time to 
occupy himself with the Jews. He permitted every 
man to acknowledge his faith as a Jew, without 
thereby incurring the punishment of an atheist. 
The Jews' tax also, if not quite set aside, was 
levied with kindness and forethought, and accusa- 
tions against those who avoided this tax were not 
listened to. This act of toleration on Nerva's part 
appears to have been of so great importance that a 


coin was struck in order to commemorate it. This 
coin, which is still preserved, represents on the one 
side the Emperor Nerva, and on the other a palm- 
tree (symbol for Jews), with the inscription, " Fisci 
Judaici calumnia sublata " ("Accusations on account 
of the Jews' tax are at an end"). It is probable 
that the four Tanaites, who were still in Rome at 
the time of the death of Domitian and the accession 
of Nerva, had furthered this favorable turn of events 
by opposing the complaints against Judaism, and by 
inducing those in power to form a better opinion of 
it. This reign, which was of but too short duration, 
terminated the period of favor shown towards the 
Jews, and with Nerva's successor there began afresh 
the old hatred between the Romans and the Jews, 
and soon both nations again stood, sword in hand, 
arrayed against one another. 



Trajan and Asia Revolt of the Jews Hadrian The Jewish Sibyl- 
line Books The Attempted Rebuilding of the Temple The 
Ordinances of Usha Bar-Cochba Akiba's Part in the War 
Bar-Cochba's Victories Suppression of the Revolt Siege and 
Fall of Bethar. 

96138 c. E. 

NERVA had chosen the Spaniard Ulpianus Trajan 
as his successor. This emperor, who was nearly 
sixty years old, set about realizing- his favorite 
idea of annexing the territories lying between the 
Euphrates and Tigris and the Indus and Ganges to 
the Roman Empire, so as to win laurels similar to 
those obtained by Alexander the Great. In the 
Parthian lands he had an easy conquest ; for this 
ancient kingdom partly of Greek and partly of 
Persian origin was torn asunder by the various 
pretenders to the throne, and offered but little resist- 
ance to the conqueror. Only the Jews, who lived 
in great numbers in this district, under the leader- 
ship of the Prince of the Captivity, possessed a 
certain amount of independence, and offered resist- 
ance to the Roman conqueror. The Babylonian 
Jews beheld in Trajan the descendant of those who 
had destroyed the Temple and condemned their 
brethren to miserable slavery, and armed them- 
selves as if for a holy war. The town of Nisibis, 
which had always possessed a numerous Jewish 
population, displayed such obstinate resistance that 
it could be subdued only after a lengthy siege. The 
district of Adiabene, on the center branch of the 
Tigris, obeyed a ruler whose ancestors, scarcely a 
century before, had adopted Judaism. Mebarsapes, 



who was now on the throne of Adiabene, was, 
perhaps, also inclined towards Judaism. He fought 
bravely against Trajan, but was overcome by the 
Roman forces. Trajan, unlike any of his predeces- 
sors, witnessed after a very short space of time the 
glorious results of his campaign. Conquests seem 
to have met him half-way. When he withdrew into 
his winter quarters in Antioch (115-116), in order 
to receive homage, the chief campaign was almost 
at an end. In the spring he again set forth, in 
order to crush any opposition, and to carry into 
effect the long-cherished plan of conquering the 
Jews. But hardly had Trajan set out when the 
conquered people on the twin rivers revolted again. 
The Jews had a great share in this uprising; they 
spread anarchy through a great portion of the 
Roman Empire. Not alone the Babylonian Jews, 
but also the Jews of Egypt, Cyrenaica, Lybia, and 
those in the island of Cyprus were seized with the 
idea of shaking off the Roman yoke. As if pos- 
sessed by an overwhelming power, the Jews of this 
far-lying district seized their weapons, as though to 
show the enemy that their power was not destroyed 
nor their courage broken, and that they were not 
willing to share the weakness and degradation of 
the times, and to sink without an effort amongst 
the masses of enslaved nations. Such unanimous 
action presupposes a concerted plan and a powerful 
leader. From Judaea the rebellion spread through 
the neighboring countries to the Euphrates and 
Egypt (116-117). In half a century after the fall 
of the Jewish State a new race had arisen, who 
inherited the zealous spirit of their fathers, and who 
bore in their hearts a vivid remembrance of their 
former independence. The hope of the Tanaite 
teacher, " Soon the Temple will be rebuilt," had 
kept alive a love of freedom in the Jewish youths, 
who had not lost the habit of using weapons in 
the schools. A legend relates that Trajan's wife 


(Plotina) had given birth to a son on the ninth of 
Ab, and lost it on the feast of Dedication, which 
the Jews kept in memory of the victory of the 
Hasmonseans, and she had interpreted their sorrow- 
ing as the hatred of an enemy, and their rejoicing 
as joy for her loss. The Empress therefore wrote 
to Trajan, " Instead of subduing the barbarians, you 
should rather punish the Jews who revolt against 

In Judaea the leaders of the rebellion appear to 
have been two courageous men from Alexandria, 
Julianus and Pappus. The former seems to have 
been the Alabarch of Alexandria, or his relative, 
and a descendant of the celebrated Alexander 
Lysimachus. He and his companion enjoyed a 
princely position amongst the Jews. The meet- 
ing place of the revolutionary troops in Judaea 
was the plain of Rimmon, or the great plain of 
Jezreel. There exists but a dim picture of the 
proceedings, and only the issue of the revolt is 
known with certainty. In Cyrene, whose Jewish 
inhabitants had been encouraged to revolt against 

O -> 

the Romans immediately after their defeat, the 
rebellion was at its height. They had a leader 
named Andreias, also called Lucuas, one of whose 
names was, perhaps, of an allegorical nature. 

The Egyptian Jews, who in former times had 
been loyal to the Romans, this time made com- 
mon cause with the rebels, and conducted opera- 
tions as in every other revolution. They first 
attacked the neighboring towns, killed the Romans 
and Greeks, and avenged the destruction of their 
nationality on their nearest enemies. Encouraged 
by the result, they collected in troops and attacked 
the Roman army under the Roman general Lupus, 
who commanded the legions against the Jews. In 
the first encounter the wild enthusiasm gave the 
Jews an advantage over the Romans, and Lupus 
was defeated. The results of this victory were 


scenes of horror and barbarity on both sides, as 
was naturally the case in a racial war between 
people who carried in their hearts an ancient 
hatred which, when it came to a fiery outburst, could 
only be quenched by blood. The heathens who 
had taken flight after the defeat of the Roman 
army marched against Alexandria. The Jewish in- 
habitants who could bear arms, and who had joined 
in the revolt, were taken prisoners and killed 
amidst fearful tortures. The conquering Jewish 
troops felt themselves filled with a desire for re- 
venge. In despair they invaded the Egyptian 
territories, imprisoned the inhabitants, and repaid 
cruelties with fresh cruelties. The Greek and 
Roman fugitives took to their boats, in order to 
escape pursuit on the bosom of the Nile ; but 
armed Jews followed close behind them. The 
historian Appian, at that time an official in Alex- 
andria, sought safety by taking flight at night, and 
would have fallen into the hands of his Jewish pur- 
suers, had he not missed his way along the coast. 
The short description of his flight and his un- 
expected deliverance gives some idea of the terror 
excited by the Jewish populations, who had suffered 
so long at the hands of their enemies. The Jews 
are said to have eaten the flesh of the captive 
Greeks and Romans, to have smeared themselves 
with their blood, and to have wrapped themselves 
in the skins torn off them. These horrors are 
quite foreign to Jewish character and customs, 
but it is probably true that the Jews made the 
Romans and Greeks fight with wild animals or in 
the arena. This was a sad reprisal for the horrible 
drama to which Vespasian and Titus had condemned 
the captive Jews. In Cyrenaica 200,000 Greeks and 
Romans were slain by the Jews, and Lybia, the 
strip of land to the east of Egypt, was so utterly 
devastated that, some years later, new colonies had 
to be sent thither. 

CH. xv. TURBO. 397 

In the Island of Cyprus, which had for a long 
time previous been inhabited by Jews, who owned 
synagogues there, a certain Artemion headed the 
uprising against the Romans. The number of rebels 
was very great, and was probably strengthened 
by the discontented heathen inhabitants of the 
island. The Cyprian Jews are said to have de- 
stroyed Salamis, the capital of the island, and to 
have killed 240,000 Greeks. 

Trajan, who was then in Babylon, greatly feared 
the outbreak of a revolt, and sent an army, pro- 
portionate in numbers to the anticipated danger. 
He entrusted an important force by land and sea 
to Martius Turbo, in order that he might quell the 
smouldering troubles of war which existed in Egypt, 
Cyrenaica, and on the island of Cyprus. 

In the district of the Euphrates, where the 
Jews, notwithstanding the nearness of the Emperor's 
crushing army, had taken up a threatening position, 
he gave the chief command to his favorite general, 
Quietus, a Moorish prince of cruel disposition, whom 
he had appointed as his successor. It is not known 
who led the Jews of Babylon. Maximus, a Roman 
general, lost his life in the battle ; Quietus had 
received orders to entirely annihilate the Jews of 
his district, so great was the fear and hatred of 
the Emperor of a nation whose power he seems 
in no way to have rightly estimated. Thus Trajan 
had to oppose the Jews on three sides, and had 
they united and mutually supported each other, 
the colossal Roman empire would perhaps have 
received a deadly blow. Martius Turbo, who had 
to oppose the Egyptian and Cyrenean revolts, went 
himself in his ships to the threatened spots, which 
he reached in five days. He avoided meeting the 
hostile forces in a sudden attack, coolly calculating 
that this would only give the victory to a people who 
were guided more by enthusiasm for an idea than 
by principles of military tactics. He preferred to 


weaken the rebels by repeated onslaughts, which 
gradually wearied them and thinned their ranks. 
The Jews, however, did not submit without making 
a brave defense. The heathen authorities, who 
were against the Jews, acknowledge that it was only 
after a contest of long duration that the Romans 
became masters of the situation. It was inevitable 
that the Romans should conquer in the end, as they 
had greater multitudes and greater skill in war, 
and especially as their cavalry had to encounter 
only half-armed foot-soldiers. Turbo displayed an 
amount of cruelty to the captives which was not 
strange to the Romans. The legions surrounded the 
prisoners and cut them to pieces, the women were 
lashed, and those who offered resistance were killed. 
The ancient Alexandrian synagogue, a marvel of 
Egyptian architecture, a basilica, was destroyed. 
From that time, says a Jewish source, the glory of 
Israel departed. In the massacre which Martins 
Turbo set on foot amongst the African Jews, the 
same source relates that the blood of the slain 
stained the sea to the island of Cyprus. This 
refers to the sea of blood which the Roman general 
shed amongst the Cyprian Jews. 

Turbo, after the end of this African revolt, led his 
legions against Cyprus. Concerning the particu- 
lars of this war, authorities are silent. The contest, 
however, must have been a bitter one, for a deadly 
hatred arose in Cyprus against the Jews. This 
hatred was expressed in a barbarous law, according 
to which no Jew might approach the island of 
Cyprus, even if he suffered shipwreck on that coast. 

The war of destruction waged by Lucius Quietus 
against the Babylonian and Mesopotamian Jews is 
but little known in its individual features. Only 
so much is certain, that he destroyed many thou- 
sands, and that he laid waste the towns of Nisibis 
and Edessa, which were inhabited by Jews. The 
houses, streets and roads were strewn with corpses. 


As a reward for the great services rendered by this 
general in fighting the Jews, Trajan named him 
governor of Palestine, with unlimited power, so that 
he might suppress the revolt in the Jewish father- 
land. Trajan himself was unsuccessful in his en- 
counters ; he had to leave Babylon, give up the 
siege of the town of Atra, and relinquish the idea 
of converting the Parthian land into a Roman pro- 

Through the failure of his favorite plan, the em- 
peror fell ill, and was brought to Antioch, and he 
died a few months later at Cilicia. His desire that 
his faithful general, Quietus, should succeed, was 
also not fulfilled. His astute wife, Plotina, set aside 
his last wishes, and assured the army that Trajan 
had, before his death, accepted his near relation, 
/Elius Hadrian, as his son and successor. 

Hadrian, at his accession (August, 117), found 
that various nations were on the eve of a rebellion, 
and that others were taking measures to break the 
fetters of all-powerful Rome. Hardly had the report 
of Trajan's death been spread than the flames of 
rebellion burst forth both in the East and the West, 
and the wish of the nations to free themselves from 
the Roman yoke, in a violent manner, made itself 

The Parthian lands, where Trajan had just estab- 
lished the semblance of the Roman rule, some of 
the districts of Asia Minor, whose agricultural 
wealth had been appropriated by the officers of 
the emperor, Mauritania and Sarmatia, and distant 
Britain --all seized upon this moment of weakness 
to strive for independence. 

The Jews of Palestine, whose hatred towards the 
Romans was yet stronger, had already organized a 
rebellion, for the suppression of which Quietus had 
been sent out by Trajan, after he had completed his 
work in the lands of the Euphrates. He had not 
yet succeeded in mastering the revolt when Hadrian 


became ruler. Historians are silent as to the nature 
of the war in Judaea. The Jewish sources call this 
second rebellion " the war of Quietus" (Polemos shel 
Kitos). It appears to have taken an unfavorable 
turn for the Jews, for fresh signs of public mourning 
were added to those observed for the destruction 
of the Temple by the teachers of the Law. It was 
forbidden that brides should wear wreaths on their 
weddings, or that the Jews should learn Greek. It 
is not clear whether this prohibition was directed 
against the Greek language or the Greek customs ; 
as little is it possible to discover the connection be- 
tween this war and a distaste for what was Greek. 
Perhaps the Greeks of Palestine became false to 
their allies, and left the Jews in the lurch. The Syn- 
hedrion of Jamnia appears to have been destroyed 
under Quietus, but the Jewish people were soon 
delivered from the merciless oppressor, whose plans 
for their annihilation could not be carried into effect. 
The new emperor himself put an end to his gen- 
eral's career. Hadrian, who had more ambition 
than warlike courage, and whose innermost aspira- 
tion was for the nimbus of royal authority rather 
than for a rough and troublesome military existence, 
drew back at the prospect of so many revolts, and 
from the chance of a long and wearisome war. 
Already envious of the reputation of his prede- 
cessor, with whom he had no sympathy, and 
whom the Senate had been unwearied in granting 
triumphs, Hadrian, for the first time, swerved from 
the hard and fast line of Roman politics, and was 
inclined to be yielding. In the same spirit, he per- 
mitted the Parthians to be ruled by their own 
prince, renounced all claims on them, and appears 
to have made concessions to the other provinces, 
and to have granted the Jews their apparently 
harmless requests. Amongst these they expressed 
a wish for the removal of the heartless Quietus and 
the restoration of the Temple. The all-powerful 


general was deposed ; and though the jealousy of 
the emperor with regard to this great and powerful 
ruler was a chief reason for his removal, it yet was 
made to appear as if it were done to favor the Jews, 
and to do away with their chief grievance. Before 
Quietus fell into disgrace he was about to pronounce 
sentence of death on the two Jewish leaders, Julia- 
nus and Pappus, who had fallen into his hands ; 
they were to be executed in Laodicea. He had said 
to them, " If your God is powerful, as you assert, 
He may rescue you from my hands." To which 
they replied, " Thou art scarcely worthy that God 
should perform a miracle for thy sake, who art not 
even an independent ruler, but only the servant of 
one higher." At the very moment when the two 
prisoners were being led to a martyr's death, the 
order came from Rome which deposed their execu- 
tioner from the governorship of Judsea. 

Quietus left Palestine, and was soon afterwards 
executed at the command of Hadrian. The day of 
the release of Julianus and Pappus, 1 2th Adar (Feb.- 
March, 118), was celebrated as a memorable event, 
and the college appointed it as a half-holiday, under 
the name of Trajan's day (Yom Trajanus). It is not 
to be doubted that the Jews made the re-erection of 
the Temple on its former site a condition of their 
laying clown arms. A Jewish source relates this 
fact in clear terms, and Christian accounts positively 
aver that the Jews on several occasions endeavored 
to restore the Temple, and this can only refer to the 
early years of Hadrian's reign. The superintend- 
ence of the building of the town, Hadrian is said to 
have entrusted to the proselyte Akylas. Great was 
the delight of the Jews at the prospect of again 
possessing a holy fane. Fifty years had elapsed 
since the destruction of the Temple, just the same 
period as had formed the interval between the de- 
struction of the first sanctuary and the return from 
Babylon. The keenest hopes were aroused by 


Hadrian's assent. A Jewish-Alexandrian poet ex- 
presses in Greek verse the feelings which filled 
every breast. The unknown poet places his words 
in the mouth of a heathen prophetess, the Sibyl, the 
sister of Isis. She first recites, in enigmatic refer- 
ences, the names of a long line of Roman conquerors 
from the time of Caesar 

and after him there came 
As king a man who wore a silver helm the name 
He bore was of a sea a worthy man, far-seeing, 
And 'neath thee thou good and splendid raven-locked, 
And 'neath thy race, this happened for all times, 
That there arose a god-like race, indwellers of heaven, 
Who e'en on earth surround the town of God, 
And unto Joppa surround it with high walls, 
And boldly raise their towers to heaven's heights. 
No more the death sound of the trumpet's cry- 
No more they perish at the foe's rash hands ; 
But trophies shall float in the world o'er evil. 
Torment thy heart no more, nor pierce with sword thy breast, 
Thou godly one, too rich, thou much-loved flower, 
Thou light so good and bright, desired and holy goal ! 
Dear Jewish land ! fair town, inspired of songs, 
No more shall unclean foot of Greeks within thy bounds 
Go forth. 

But in honor thy faithful ones shall hold thee ; 
And they shall serve thy board with holy words, 
With varied offerings, and with welcome prayers. 
Those who remorseless send ill words to heaven 
Shall cease to raise their voices in thy midst, 
Shall hide away until the world has changed. 
For from the heavenly land a happy man comes forth, 
Within whose hands a scepter given by God ; 
And over all he rules with glory, and to the good 
Again he giveth riches, bereft of them by others gone before, 
The towns by fire leveled to the very earth, 
And burnt the homes of men who once did evil. 
But the town beloved of God he made 
Brighter than stars or sun, and than the moon, 
Adorned them brightly, and reared a holy Temple. 

The great expectations formed with regard to 
the restoration, which had appeared like a pleasant 
dream, paled before the stern reality. Scarcely had 
Hadrian taken a firm footing in his kingdom and 
calmed the unruly nations, when, like other weak 
princes, he began to diminish his promises, and to 
prevaricate. One report relates that the Sama- 


ritans who were jealous that the object of their 
aversion, the Temple of Jerusalem, should again rise 
from the dust --endeavored to represent to the 
Emperor the danger of such a restoration ; as their 
forefathers had formerly demonstrated to the Per- 
sian rulers, so they endeavored to prove to the 
Roman emperor that the building of the Temple 
was a mere subterfuge to bring about a total sepa- 
ration from Rome. Hadrian, however, would proba- 
bly have come to this conclusion without the inter- 
position of the Samaritans. In any case, while he 
did not venture wholly to retract his word, he began 
to bargain. It is said by some that he gave the 
Jews to understand that the Temple must be erected 
on a different place from that on which stood the 
ruins of the former building, or that it must be built 
on a smaller scale. The Jews, who well understood 
this temporizing, and saw therein only a retracta- 
tion of the imperial promise, were not inclined to let 
themselves be played with. 

When matters had reached this pass, many people 
armed themselves and assembled again in the valley 
of Rimmon, on the plain of Jezreel. When the royal 
epistle was read out the masses burst into tears. A 
rebellion and an embittered war seemed imminent. 
But there were still lovers of peace amongst the 
people, who recognized that a rebellion, under the 
circumstances then existing, would be dangerous. 
At the head of this party was Joshua. He was 
immediately sent for to tranquillize the excited 
populace by his influence and eloquence. Joshua 
addressed the people in a manner which has always 
appealed to the masses. He related a fable, and 
drew a moral which applied to existing circum- 
stances : "A lion had once regaled himself on his 
prey, but a bone remained sticking in his throat. 
In terror he promised a great reward to any one 
who would extract the bone. A crane with a long 
neck presented himself, performed the operation 


and claimed his reward. The lion, however, said 
mockingly, Rejoice that thou hast withdrawn thy 
head unharmed from the lion's jaws. In like man- 
ner," said Joshua, " let us be glad that we have 
escaped unscathed from the Roman, and not insist 
on the fulfilment of his promise." Through these 
and similar exhortations he prevented an immediate 
outbreak. But the nation was filled with the idea 
of rebellion, and adhered to it in a manner worthy 
of a better fortune. 

Joshua was the chief leader of the people in the 
time of Hadrian, and appears to have performed 
the duties of Patriarch, for Gamaliel had probably 
died at the commencement of Hadrian's reign. The 
honors paid to his dead body show the high esteem 
in which he was regarded by the people. Joshua, 
Eliezer, and his disciples mourned for him ; Akylas 
the proselyte--as was customary at royal funerals- 
burnt clothes and furniture to the amount of seventy 
minas. When reproached for this extravagance he 
said, " Gamaliel is worth more than a hundred kings, 
from whom the world gains nothing." A striking 
contrast to this display was afforded by the simplicity 
of the shroud which Gamaliel had expressly ordered 
before his death. It was customary at that time to 
clothe the corpse in costly garments, an expense 
which fell so heavily on those of small means, that 
many deserted their dead relations in order to avoid 
the outlay. To prevent such expense, Gamaliel 
ordered in his last will that he should be buried in 
simple white linen. From that time greater sim- 
plicity was observed, and it became the custom at 
funeral feasts to drink a cup to the memory of Ga- 
maliel. He left sons, but the eldest, Simon, appears 
to have been too young to undertake the patriarchate, 
which, therefore, devolved on Joshua probably (as his 
representative, Ab-bet-din). After Gamaliel's death 
Joshua was desirous of abolishing various ordinances 
which the former had enforced, but he was opposed 


by Jochanan ben Nuri, who was supported by most 
of the Tanaites. 

It is hardly possible to doubt that the Jamnian 
Synhedrion removed to Upper Galilee after the 
death of Gamaliel, and Usha (El-Uz) in the vicinity 
of Shefaram (Shefa-Amar), between Acco and Safet, 
became the seat of the Synhedrion. Ishmael is men- 
tioned amongst those who emigrated to Usha. 
Here the Synhedrion made various enactments of 
high moral and historical importance, which took 
the form of laws, under the title of Ordinances of 
Usha (Tekanoth Usha). One of these laws decreed 
that a father must support his young children- -the 
boys until their twelfth year, and the girls until they 
married. Before this time the provision for children 
had been left to the option of parents. Another 
law enacted that if a father during his own lifetime 
gave up all his property to his son, it followed, as a 
matter of course, that the son must support both 
his father and the wife of his father. A third law 
limited the reckless devoting of the whole of a man's 
property to charitable purposes, which custom pre- 
vailed at that time. This law prescribed that only 
a fifth part of the property might be given away. 
Isebab, who afterwards died the death of a martyr, 
was desirous of dividing his whole property amongst 
the poor, but Akiba opposed him, referring him to 
this law respecting property. One decision of 
Usha seems to have been directed against Gama- 
liel's severe employment of the interdict. It decreed 
that no member of the College should in future be 
excommunicated unless he actually despised and 
revolted against the whole Law, like King Jero- 
boam. This circumstance shows that the unity of 
the Law was so established that a difference of 
opinion no longer implied, as formerly, a total break, 
and Joshua, no doubt, had contributed to this result. 

The tolerable relations between Hadrian and 
the Jews did not last much more than a decade. 


He could not forget that he had been compelled 
to make concessions to the despised nation, and 
the latter could not forget that he had broken faith 
with them, and had deprived them of their fairest 
hopes. This mutual antipathy displayed itself 
during Hadrian's journey through Judaea. The 
emperor, urged by vanity, and a desire to be 
called the father of his country, and impelled by a 
restlessness and want of occupation, which drove 
him from one spot to another, had visited nearly 
all the provinces of the great Roman empire, for 
the purpose of seeing everything with his own 
eyes. Hadrian's petty curiosity led him to concern 
himself with all manner of things, to desire to be 
considered as a philosopher, and better informed 
than his contemporaries in all matters. Whether 
he judged the condition of other provinces correctly 
may be doubted ; he certainly was deceived in his 
hasty judgment of the Jews. During his visit to 
Judoea (130), it is probable that those people, 
such as the Romans, Samaritans, and Christians, 
who disliked the original inhabitants (the Jews), 
approached him with subservience, in order to greet 
him as a demi-god, or even as a god. A panto- 
mimic conversation, which was held between a 
Christian and a representative of Judaism, Joshua 
ben Chananya, in Hadrian's presence, describes 
their respective positions. The former showed by 
gestures that the God of Israel had hidden His 
face from the Jews ; the latter showed, by a move- 
ment of the arm, that God still stretched forth His 
hand to protect Israel, and this pantomime Hadrian 
desired to have explained to him. He seems to 
have had many interviews with Joshua. Several 
conversations between Hadrian and the Tanaite 
have been handed down, of which one appears to 
be credible. He asked him, " If you are as wise as 
you assert, tell me what I shall behold this night 
in my dreams." Joshua replied, " Thou wilt dream 


that the Persians (Parthians) will subdue thee, and 
compel thee to guard low animals with a golden 
scepter." This retort was well chosen, for the 
superstitious emperor feared the Parthians beyond 
all nations, and did his utmost to maintain peace 
with them. 

Hadrian thought that he had nothing to fear from 
Judaea. He informed the Roman Senate of the 
peaceful disposition of the Jews, and they perpetu- 
ated their credulity by various coins, in which the 
emperor is represented dressed in a toga, raising 
a kneeling Jew from his humble position. Three 
boys (probably emblematic of the districts of Judaea, 
Samaria, and Galilee) hand him palm branches. He 
thus cherished the expectation that racial and re- 
ligious differences would soon disappear, and that 
the inhabitants would merge their identity in that 
of the Romans. In order to induce such a state of 
things he drew up a plan, which could not have 
been more unfortunately conceived. Jerusalem was 
to be rebuilt, but as a pagan city. Whilst he 
repaired to Egypt to commit other follies, the 
desecration of the holy city was commenced. The 
Jews naturally did not remain unmoved at this 
act, which was to erase their name as a nation 
and a religious body from the book of the living, 
and a bitter feeling overcame them. Joshua again 
appears to have endeavored to bring about a 
reconciliation in order to frustrate the thoughtless 
plan of the emperor, and to allay the discontent of 
the people. Though an aged man, he traveled to 
Egypt in order to induce the emperor to alter his 

But his prudent suggestions were ridiculed ; the 
emperor would only mock at the Jewish, Samaritan, 
and Christian religions, with which he thought 
himself thoroughly acquainted. He wrote at this 
time to his brother-in-law, " No president of the 
synagogue (Rabbi) of the Jews, no Samaritan, no 



hristian priest, honors anything but Serapis. Even 
that patriarch who has come to Egypt [probably 
Joshua] was compelled by some to worship Serapis, 
and by others to worship Christ." Joshua returned 
to Judcea after 'his fruitless visit, and appears to 
have died soon after of grief and old age. It 
was justly said of him that with his death wisdom 
and prudent moderation came to an end. After 
his decease there occurred wide-spread movements 
and contests in Judaea, which were among the most 
memorable in its history, and there was no one to 
stem the tide. 

So long as Hadrian remained in Syria (130-131) 
the malcontents did not commence the revolt for 
which they had probably been long preparing. The 
weapons prepared by the Jewish smiths for the 
Romans were made (in anticipation of their being 
used against themselves) weak and useless. In the 
hollow chalk mountains of Judaea the insurgents 
silently prepared underground passages and refuges, 
which were used as secret armories before the war, 
and afterwards as secret ambushes, from which the 
enemy could be attacked. Akiba seems to have 
developed a silent but effective activity in his 
preparation for a revolt. After the death of Joshua 
he was recognized as the head of the Jewish 
community. Hadrian, lulled into security, discov- 
ered the conspiracy only when it broke out at the 
various points of the Roman empire, so skilfully 
had the Roman spies been deceived. When the 
revolt was about to commence everything was in 
readiness. There were stores of arms, means of 
communication, warriors, and even a powerful leader, 
who, through his strange position, infused religious 
enthusiasm and warlike courage. It was considered 
as a favorable sign for their daring undertaking 
that two of the stations of the Roman legions had 
been destroyed. Caesarea and Emmaus had been 
swallowed up some years before by an earthquake. 


Csesarea was the Roman capital of Judsea, the 
dwelling-place of the governor, and, like Rome, it 
brought down the hatred of the Jews on itself. 
The peculiar idea was entertained, that, as the 
greatness of Csesarea had dated from the time of 
the destruction of Jerusalem, so from the fall of 
Caesarea Jerusalem would again attain to power. 
Emmaus had been the dwelling-place of eight 
hundred soldiers of Vespasian who had served 
there ; it therefore had been used as a second 

The chief hero of the revolt was Bar-Cochba, 
who inspired the Roman empire in its then state of 
weakness with as much terror as Brennus and 
Hannibal had formerly done. 

Not a trace, however slight, can be found of 
the descent and early life of this much reviled 
and misunderstood personage. Like the hero of 
every revolution, he suddenly appeared as the 
perfect incarnation of the nation's will and the 
nation's hate, spreading terror around, and standing 
as the center-point of an eventful movement. His 
real name was Bar-Kosiba, doubtless from the town 
of Kosiba, and was not a nickname meaning "son 
of lies." Bar-Cochba was a symbolical Messianic 
name which Akiba had given him. When Akiba, 
actively engaged in the deliverance of the Jewish 
people, first saw Bar-Cochba, he was so impressed 
with the appearance of the man that he said, " That 
is a Messianic king." Akiba applied to him the 
verse of Scripture, " Kosiba has arisen as a star 
(Cochba) in Jacob." Akiba was confirmed, by the 
imposing personality of Bar-Cochba, in his hopes 
that the Roman power would soon be overthrown, 
and that the splendors of Israel would once more 
shine forth, and he looked forward through this 
means to the speedy establishment of the Messianic 
kingdom. He cited the verse of the prophet 
Haggai with regard to this (ii. 21), "Yet a little 
and I will shake heaven and earth." 


All did not, however, share Akiba's pious enthu- 
siasm. Jochanan ben Torta, a teacher of the Law, 
replied dubiously to his high-flying hopes, " Sooner 
shall grass grow from thy chin, Akiba, than that 
the Messiah will appear." The respect and atten- 
tion, however, which Akiba displayed towards Bar- 
Cochba were sufficient to surround him with a halo, 
as of a higher God-given power, which gave him 
unquestioned authority, and increased the means 
at his disposal. 

There is no record in Jewish sources of miracles 
performed by the Messianic king for the gratifica- 
tion of the populace. But an account of the enemy 
relates how Bar-Cochba puffed forth burning tow 
from his mouth to give himself the appearance of 
spitting fire. The Jewish accounts speak of his 
enormous bodily strength. They relate that he 
cast back with his knees the huge stones thrown by 
the Romans by means of machines on the Jewish 
army. There is no hint given that he pursued any 
selfish end by his Messianism ; he was actuated only 
by the wish to win back freedom for his people, to 
restore the tarnished glory of the Jewish state, and 
to throw off at once and for ever the foreign rule 
which, during two centuries, had interfered with 
the interests of Judaism. So energetic a mind, 
combined with great military talent, even though 
it failed to secure a favorable result, should have 
received juster recognition from posterity, and cer- 
tainly does not deserve the prejudice which it met 
with from interested contemporaries. The Jewish 
warriors from all countries poured forth to aid the 
Messianic king, and the revolt became one of 
great dimensions. Even the Samaritans joined 
their former opponents, as the chronicles relate. 
Heathens themselves made common cause with the 
Jews, impelled by a desire to shake off the unbear- 
able Roman yoke. It seemed as if the whole 
Roman empire were about to receive a heavy blow, 


by which the various members of its gigantic body 
were to be rent asunder. From these facts the 
number of the warriors cannot be considered as 
exaggerated if the Jewish sources put them down 
as 400,000, whilst the Pagan historian Dio Cassius 
rates them even at 580,000. Bar-Cochba felt so 
confident in his own courage and the numerous 
warriors at his command, that he is said to have 
uttered the blasphemy, " Lord, if thou dost not 
help us, at least do not help our enemies, and we 
shall not be defeated." 

Tinnius Rufus, the Governor of Judaea, was not 
prepared for the enormous military power opposed 
to him, and he soon had to retreat before the 
troops of the warlike Messiah. Rufus withdrew 
from one citadel to another, and in one year 
(132-133) fifty fortified places and 985 cities and 
villages fell into the hands of the rebels. It appears 
that the \vhole of Judsea, together with Samaria 
and Galilee, were evacuated by the Romans, and 
fell into the possession of the Jews. When Hadrian 
received the first news of the revolt in Judaea, he 
laid no great weight upon it ; but when one report 
after another of the defeat of the Roman troops 
reached him, he sent relays and his best generals 
to the scene of action ; these, however, had no 
better fortune than Rufus. It is not to be doubted 
that Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Jewish 
victors, who may have contemplated the restoration 
of the Temple ; but in the midst of the war, and 
continually harassed by the Roman legions, they 
had no time to undertake so extensive a work. 
Bar-Cochba, in order to announce national inde- 
pendence, performed a sovereign act of power by 
causing Jewish coins to be struck. These were 
called Bar-Cochba coins, and also coins of the 

Notwithstanding the deep hatred entertained by 
the Jews for their enemies, they did not avenge 


themselves upon such as fell into their hands. It 
was only against the Jewish Christians who lived 
in Judaea that Bar-Cochba displayed his hostility, 
because they were considered as blasphemers and 
as spies. This hatred against the Jewish Christians 
was increased because they refused to take part in 
the national war, and were the only idle lookers-on 
at the fearful spectacle. One of the oldest Chris- 
tian sources relates that Bar-Cochba had demanded 
of the Christians to deny Jesus, and to take part 
in the war with the Romans, and that those who 
refused to do so were punished with heavy penalties. 
When the State was restored and all laws again 
came into force, the Jewish authorities felt them- 
selves justified in summoning those of their country- 
men before the justice-seat who not only denied 
the Law but held it up to ridicule. It is nowhere 
related that the Christians were compelled to recog- 
nize and believe in Bar-Cochba as a new Christ. 
Such compulsion seems to have been foreign to the 
new Jewish State. Later Christian chronicles, in 
their usual manner, have greatly exaggerated the 
floo-o-in<r s to which the Jewish Christians were sub- 

t>> s> J r 1 

jected, until they assumed the proportions ot actual 
persecution, accompanied by death and martyrdom, 
for which there is no historical basis. The Evan- 
gelists, who, before the appearance of Bar-Cochba, 
had spoken of the warlike preparations, and all 
events of the time, in a veiled but perfectly com- 
prehensible manner, alone relate the position of 
the Jewish population towards the Christians. They 
seem to hint that even in the midst of Christianity 
there was great dissension, and that some who were 
eager for the cause of liberty, reported their more 
indifferent coreligionists with much zeal to the 
Jewish authorities. These Evangelists make Jesus 
utter a prophecy which foretold a coming change, 
as though he, amidst these stormy days, would ap- 
pear in the flesh at the Last Judgment. 


This prophecy of Jesus displays the gloomy ten- 
dency of the times of Bar-Cochba. The words 
run : 

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ ; and shall 
deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, 
be ye not troubled : for such thing's must needs be ; but the end shall 
not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom 
against kingdom : and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, 
and there shall be famines and troubles : these are the beginnings of 
sorrows. But take heed to yourselves : for they shall deliver you up 
to councils ; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten : and ye shall 
be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony 
against them. And the gospel must first be published among all 
nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no 
thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; 
but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye : for it 
is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall 
betray the brother to death, and the father the son ; and the children 
shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to 
death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake : but 
he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 

Thus a father of the Church comforted the Chris- 
tian community in Judaea. It appears that the Syn- 
hedrion of the time of Bar-Cochba introduced some 
innovations in order to work against the increasing 
spread of the worship of Jesus amongst the Jewish 
Christians, and to promote a means of recognizing 
those who were for them or against them. It had 
been the habit for centuries past never to pronounce 
the sacred name of God, IHW, but to substitute 
the word Lord (Adonai). The Christians, however, 
had accustomed themselves to call Jesus " Lord." 
To counteract this, the Synhedrion enacted that the 
name of God should be used as in ancient times, 
and that this name should be introduced even into 
the formula of greeting. 

The newly founded Tdngdom of Bar-Cochba had 
already subsisted during two years (132-134). With 
deep concern Hadrian beheld the continuous pro- 
gress of the Jewish revolution. It had taken a 
course and an extent which opened up a vista of 
unlooked-for results. Every auxiliary force which he 
had sent to join in the contest suffered defeat, and 


every fresh general left his reputation on a Jewish 
battle-field. Hadrian was obliged to summon his 
greatest general, who at that time was repressing 
the revolt of a nation who loved freedom equally 
well, namely, the Britons. Julius Severus \vas re- 
called to Judaea, as he seemed to be the only man 
who could measure swords with the great hero, Bar- 
Cochba. Severus, on his arrival, found the military 
position of the Jews so secure and inaccessible that 
he did not venture to give them battle immediately. 
The chief stronghold of the Jews during this war 
was the district around the Mediterranean Sea which 
had for its central point the town of Bethar (Either). 
This fortress, the ruins of which are still to be seen, 
is only one Roman mile (four-fifths of a geographical 
mile) distant from the sea. 

Besides Bethar, Bar-Cochba had fortified several 
other towns, which were probably placed under 
special commanders. In the north, at the foot of 
the Galilean highlands, at the entrance to the great 
plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon) there were three cities, 
which formed a triangle of fortresses from the Medi- 
terranean to the Sea of Galilee. To the west near 
Acco there was Cabul, or Chabulon ; three miles 
from this, towards the southeast, there \vas the 
fortified town of Sichin, near to Sepphoris, in a 
fruitful plain. About three miles further, to the 
east of Galilee, and on the lake of the same name, 
stood Magdala (Tarichaea). All three towns, Cabul, 
Sichin and Magdala, are described as having been 
densely populated, and they formed the outposts 
which were to prevent the invasion of the Romans 
on the side of Syria and Upper Galilee. The in- 
habitants of Sepphoris appear to have secretly 
maintained their devotion to the Romans, as they 
had formerly done under Vespasian and Trajan. 
Full confidence was not placed in them, but the 
more reliable towns of the neighborhood were 
chosen as meeting-places. A second line of forti- 


fications was in the middle of the Jewish territory, 
and was greatly favored by the conformation of the 
ground. One of the chief fortresses which Bar- 
Cochba probably again put in a state of defense 
was Tur-Simon, doubtless named after Simon the 
Hasmonsean. This fortress was also said to have 
so numerous a population that, every Friday, three 
hundred large baskets of loaves were distributed 


amongst the army. Here, according to legend, the 
revolt broke out, on account of an offense given 
by the Romans to the inhabitants. 

Julius, whose rapid glance no doubt perceived the 
difficulty of obtaining a victory, owing to the strong 
fortifications, the number of warriors and their fana- 
tical courage, avoided a decided battle, which would 
have been desired by Bar-Cochba, who relied on the 
number and devotion of his troops. Like Vespa- 
sian, Severus purposely prolonged the war by divers 
attacks. He reckoned more especially on the scar- 
city of food which must inevitably ensue in a land- 
locked territory, when the hands which should hold 
the plow were engaged with the sword. He con- 
tented himself with depriving the enemy of food, with 
attacking the separate bodies of Jewish troops, and 
harassing them with his cavalry. These tactics fully 
succeeded, more especially as all prisoners were 
immediately put to death. 

The particulars of this revolutionary war were no 
doubt as memorable as those of the war with the 
Zealots, but no account has been preserved to tell 
posterity of the death-struggle of the Jewish nation. 
The heroic deeds of the Zealots Bar-Giora and 
John of Gischala- -have been immortalized by their 
greatest enemy, against his will, but no pen was 
found to commemorate on the tablets of history the 
warlike deeds of the last of the Jewish heroes. It 
almost seemed that the remembrance of their 
prowess, destined as the new generations were to 
forget the arts of war, was to be totally forgotten 

416 TORY OF THE JEWS. CH. xv. 

Only a few traits have been preserved to us of the 
war, which bear witness, not only to the courage of 
the Jews but also to their all-defying enthusiasm for 
the cause of their race. 

If, as the geographical position of Judaea de- 
manded, the first attack of the Romans was made 
on the north, on the Syrian and Phoenician side, the 
three northernmost citadels of Cabul, Sichin and 
Magdala must have been first attacked. The Jewish 
sources which have handed down the details of the 
war, as given by survivors, relate the manner of the 
destruction of these three cities, and the circum- 
stances which led to their downfall. Cabul fell 
through internal dissensions ; Sichin through sor- 
cery, by which an unlooked-for attack was probably 
meant ; lastly, Magdala, the birthplace of the 
penitent Mary Magdalene, fell, weakened through 
the vices of its inhabitants. After the fall of the 
three strongholds on the borders, the war was vir- 
tually at an end, just as in the first revolution, after 
the subjection of Jotapata and Gischala, the land 
was considered as subdued. The plain of Rimmon 
seems to have been another seat of the war, for the 
Roman legions had to traverse this plain in order 
to reach the; interior of the land. On this plain a 
terrible battle seems to have taken place, which 
became the subject-matter of many a legend. The 
next campaign of the Romans was evidently di- 
rected against the cities in the mountains. Legend 
relates how 100,000 Romans marched into the 
citadel of Tur-Simon with drawn swords, and how, 
during three days and nights, they massacred the 
inhabitants. The fifty fortified places occupied by 
the Jews fell one after another into the hands of the 
enemy, and the Roman generals gave battle to the 
Jewish army on fifty-two, or, according to some 
authorities, on fifty-four occasions. The circle 
drawn round Bethar, where Bar-Cochba and the 
flower of his army had retreated, became ever nar- 


rower. All fugitives had betaken themselves to his 
side, in order to escape the sword of destruction 
and to find a place of refuge. On this spot, where 
the two greatest generals of the time Julius 
Severus and Bar-Cochba were opposed, the de- 
cisive conflict was to take place. 

Bethar was, no doubt, filled to overflowing by the 
contingents who came in from all sides. The sources 
could not speak with sufficient hyperbole of this 
final scene of the defense ; they relate, amongst 
other things, that several hundreds of schools ex- 
isted in Bethar, and that the numbers of the pupils 
were so great that they boasted that they could 
overthrow the enemy with their writing-reeds. The 
siege of Bethar probably lasted for a year, and the 
duration of the whole war was about three years and 
a-half. We are left in uncertainty as to the vari- 
ous incidents of the siege, as also regarding the 
causes which led to the fall of the citadel. A Jewish 
authority relates that the river Joredethha-Zalmon 
faithlessly deprived the besieged of its waters, which 
may mean that the summer heat dried it up. A 
somewhat vague account from Samaritan sources 
recounts that the food-supplies, which had been 
secretly conveyed into the town, were suddenly cut 
off; this agrees with the Jewish accounts, which re- 
late that Bethar fell through the stratagems of the 
Samaritans. The Jewish sources assert that Eleazar 
of Modin prayed in sackcloth and ashes that Bethar 
might be spared ; and perhaps his piety inspired 
the besieged with endurance and courage. 

Hadrian, or his general, being wearied with the 
long contest, was about to raise the siege, when a 
Samaritan promised to aid him, and told him that 
Eleazar was the guardian spirit of the citadel, add- 
ing that " so lonof as that hen cackles in ashes 

^> o 

Bethar is impregnable." Thereupon the Samaritan, 
passing through a subterranean passage, approached 
Eleazar whilst he was engaged in prayer, and 


whispered in his ear. The spectators, whose sus- 
picions were aroused by this secrecy, led him to 
Bar-Cochba and related the incident. The spy, 
when questioned, declared : " If I tell thee the truth, 
my master will kill me ; and if I keep it from thee, 
thou wilt kill me ; but I would rather die by thy hand 
than by my master's." Bar-Cochba, suspecting a 
traitorous understanding between Eleazar and the 
enemy, summoned him to appear, and questioned 
him as to his meeting with the Samaritan. Eleazar, 
who had been absorbed in his devotions, and had 
hardly noticed the Samaritan, could only reply that 
he knew nothing of the matter. Bar-Cochba, who 
thought that he was being deceived, struck Eleazar 
a blow with his foot, and, enfeebled as he was by 
fasting, Eleazar fell down dead. Then a voice was 
heard : " Thou hast lamed the arm of Israel and 
blinded his eyes ; therefore shall thine arm and thine 
eye lose their power." 

The Samaritan sources describe the conquest of 
Bethar as similar to that of Jerusalem. Hadrian, they 
assert, who had laid siege to the city, had already 
raised the siege, as the inhabitants had obtained 
supplies, which they showed to the enemy. Then 
two Samaritan brothers, who were held imprisoned 
by the Jews, contrived to throw over the wall a 
letter wrapped in linen to Julius, saying that if the 
exits were guarded the inhabitants of the town would 
certainly die of starvation. He followed their ad- 
vice, and entered the city on a Sabbath. So much 
is certain, that the Romans, introduced by a traitor 
into a subterranean way, massacred the people of 
Bethar. This is described with fearful detail. Horses 
were said to wade to the nozzle in blood a river 
of blood flowed into the distant sea, carrying bodies 
along with it. One can scarcely credit the numbers 
said to have been slain, and yet they are confirmed 
both by Jewish and by Greek historians. The au- 
thentic historian Dio Cassius relates that besides 


those who died of hunger and fire, there fell half a 
million Jews. 

The loss of the Romans was equally great, and 
Hadrian did not dare employ in his message to 
the Senate the usual formula, " I and the army are 
well." The Senate did not decree the Emperor a 
triumph, but a medal was struck in commemoration 
of the services rendered by the army. This coin 
bore the inscription, " Exercitus Judaicus. Thanks 
to the army victorious over the Jews." Bethar fell, 
as tradition relates, on the Qth Ab, the date on which 
the Temple had twice been reduced to ashes. The 
end of the mighty Bar-Cochba is not known. One 
who brought his head to the Roman General boasted 
that he had killed him. His body, however, was 
found crushed by a snake. On this the conqueror 
said, " Had not God's hand killed him, a human hand 
could not have injured him." Hadrian established 
three military stations to capture the fugitives, in 
Chamath (Ammaus near Tiberias), in Kephar Le- 
kitaja, and in Bethel. Whoever escaped the one 
garrison was captured by the other. Thus all the 
warriors were destroyed, all towns and villages laid 
waste, and the land was literally converted into a 
desert. The prisoners, mostly women and children, 
were dragged by thousands to the slave markets of 
Hebron and Gaza, where they were sold. There 
were, however, some fugitives who lived in caves in 
order to escape the enemy. But even this miser- 
able existence was not permitted to them. Heralds 
announced that to those who voluntarily yielded 
themselves up, mercy would be granted. Many 
listened to the temptation, but were carried off to 
the plain of Rimmon, and the victors were com- 
manded to massacre their prisoners before Hadrian 
tasted food. Many fugitives, however, fled to 
Arabia, whence that country obtained its Jewish 
population, which afterward played so important a 
part in its history. Hadrian also caused foreign 


Jews to feel the weight of his anger, and imposed 
on them a tax much heavier than that exacted by 
Vespasian. In memory of this last revolt, the Jews, 
as a sign of mourning, decreed that brides should 
no longer be carried in beautiful sedan-chairs into 
the houses of their bridegrooms. 



Turnus Rufus persecutes the Jews The Ten Martyrs The Book 
of Tobit Relations between Judaism and Christianity The 
Return of the Schools to Palestine The Synod at Usha Mei'r 
Simon ben Jochai The Babylonian Synhedrion Antoninus 
Pius and Aurelius Verus The Revolt against Rome The 
Patriarchate of Simon. 

135-170 c. E. 

HADRIAN, who during the war had lived in a terror- 
stricken condition, did not content himself with 
merely crushing- all revolt, but he desired to root out 
the possibility of a future uprising. For this pur- 
pose he caused a number of laws to be brought into 
operation, every one of which was intended to de- 
stroy Judaism, the spiritual life of the nation, in the 
hearts of the survivors. Hadrian named Rufus as 
the executor of his edicts a man incapable of attack- 
ing an armed foe, but more competent to carry on 
a war of petty persecution and spying. Severus 
having been sent back to Britain at the end of his 
campaign, Rufus had the plow drawn over the 
town of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, as a sign 
that another city should be built there. This oc- 
curred on the eventful Qth Ab, perhaps a year after 
the fall of Bethar. 

Hadrian had the city rebuilt more towards the 
north, where formerly the suburbs had been. He 
populated the newly erected city with a colony of 
soldiers who had served their time, Phoenicians 
and Syrians. The city, /Elia Capitolina, was built 
in the Grecian style, with two market-places, a 
theater, and other public buildings, and was di- 
vided into seven quarters. Thus Hadrian suc- 


ceeded in his preconceived plan of turning Jeru- 
salem into a heathen city. On the Temple Mount 
a column was erected in honor of Hadrian, and 
a heathen temple in honor of Jupiter Capitolinus. 
Other statues of Roman, Greek, and Phoenician 
gods adorned, or rather defiled, Jerusalem. In all 
public edicts Jerusalem figured under its new name 
/Elia, and so completely was its identity forgotten, 
that a hundred years later a governor of Palestine 
asked a bishop, who said he came from Jerusalem, 
where that town was situated. At the south gate 
leading to Bethlehem a swine's head was erected in 
half relief, as a special annoyance to the Jews, and 
it was forbidden them on pain of death to pass 
within the outer wall of this city. Hadrian erected 
a shrine to Jupiter on Mount Gerizim, where the 
Samaritans formerly had had their temple, a place 
they considered as holy. On Mount Golgotha, op- 
posite Jerusalem, a temple was erected to Venus, 
and in a cave at Bethlehem a statue of Adonis was 
worshiped. Hadrian followed the old policy of 
the Syrian Antiochus Epiphanes, who desecrated 
the Jewish holy places from prejudice and revenge, 
and endeavored to graft Paganism on Judaism by 
force of arms. He thought most effectually to break 
down the stubborn independence of the Jews if he 
could succeed in weaning them from their peculiar 
religious life. A decree was issued in Judaea which 
inflicted the severest punishments on all those who 
permitted themselves to be circumcised, to keep the 
Sabbath, or to follow the Jewish law. Only in 
one point did Hadrian differ from Epiphanes he 
did not compel the worship of the Roman gods. 
All customs and habits which bore ever so slight a 
tinge of a religious character were, however, inter- 
dicted, such as the letter of separation for divorced 
wives, marriages on Wednesday, and other customs. 
This extension of the edict may have been a com- 
mentary of the Roman authorities in Judaea, who 


were better acquainted with the spirit of the Jews, 
and determined to enforce the imperial command in 
order to attain the desired end. The weary years 
through which Judaism passed, from the fall of 
Bethar till after the death of Hadrian, were called 
the epoch of Religious Compulsion, Danger and 
Persecution. The stern decrees, and a sterner 
enforcement of them, were a heavy blow for those 
who remained. The more conscientious were un- 
decided how to behave in their critical position, 
whether they should keep to the hard and fast line 
of custom, or whether, in consideration of their 
thinned ranks, they should save their own lives by 
yielding to the exigencies of the moment. 

There was probably no actual Synhedrion at that 
time to take up the question and give them the 
guidance they desired. The surviving teachers of 
the Law assembled in a garret in Lydda, and delib- 
erated on this question of life and death. Amongst 
the members present at this assemblage were Akiba, 
Tarphon, and Joseph the Galilean. Doubtless 
Ishmael, who resembled R. Joshua in character, 
was also present on that occasion. There was 
a difference of opinion with regard to this impor- 
tant question. The strict elements appear to 
have considered that every Jew, rather than become 
guilty of the slightest infringement of a law, 
however heavy (important) or light (less impor- 
tant), should be ready to die the death of a martyr. 
Ishmael supported the opposite view. He con- 
sidered that, outwardly and under compulsion, one 
might transgress the Law in order to preserve one's 
life, for the Torah enacted that its followers should 
live by it and not die through it. The assembly at 
Lydda, as usual, adopted the middle course, that a 
difference should be made between important pre- 
cepts and those which were less weighty. The 
matter was put to the vote, and the decision was 
reached, that in order to avoid death by torture, all 


laws might be broken, with the exception of those 
prohibiting idolatry, adultery, and murder. This 
decision, which gives evidence of the desperate 
condition in which the Jews at that time* found 
themselves, appears also to have contained a 
secret clause, that in case of need the Law might 
be evaded or neglected, but that it should be 
observed as far as it was possible to do so. There 
were many who obeyed, but who dissimulated in 
presence of the Roman spies and overseers. It 
was touching to note the petty tricks and pious 
frauds by which they endeavored to avoid death 
and yet to satisfy their conscience. The mental 
tortures which they suffered daily and hourly made 
them skilful in discovering loophole? of escape. 
Even Akiba on one occasion when he saw himself sur- 
rounded by Roman spies, gave a sign to his disciples 
to say the Shema softly and almost inaudibly, for the 
Roman authorities ruthlessly fulfilled the letter of 
their edict. A Roman inspector (qusesitor), who 
surprised a certain Artaban, as he was fastening 
Mezzuzoth to the door-posts, compelled him to pay 
1000 denars for this act. Another man, Elisha, 
probably a survivor of the Essenes, was condemned 
to have his skull broken, because he was putting on 
Tephillin. It was dangerous even to wear the 
Jewish garb. Two pupils of Joshua therefore 
adopted the dress of the country, and when ques- 
tioned on the subject they replied, " that to oppose 
the Imperial behest would be to commit suicide." 
Ishmael describes this dreary time, when martyr- 
dom and death dogged their every step, in the follow- 
ing words : " Since sinful Rome has inflicted severe 
laws on us, disturbed us in the performance of our 
religious duties, and especially prohibited the act of 
circumcision, we really ought not to marry, in 
order that we may not have children. But then the 
race of Abraham would die out. Therefore it is 
better that, for a time, the religious laws should be 


transgressed, rather than that a state of things 
should be brought about which the people would 
not submit to." 

There were, however, many whose conscience did 
not permit them to make use of the freedom per- 
mitted by the Lyddan Assembly, or to employ the 
subterfuges which were adopted by others. They 
observed rigorously the religious precepts, even at 
the risk of suffering martyrdom. One of the younger 
witnesses of this sad time describes, almost in a 
dramatic way, the ruthlessness of the Roman au- 
thorities, who inflicted some cruel punishment for 
each religious ceremony. " Why shouldst thou be 
flogged ? Because I used a lulab. Why shouldst 
thou be crucified ? Because I ate unleavened bread 
at Passover. Why should ye be condemned to death 
by fire or by the sword ? Because we read the 
Torah, and permitted our children to be circum- 
cised." Yet more terrible were, the deaths inflicted 
on the accused by the Roman tribunals, which 
can only be paralleled by those inflicted by the 
Inquisition. Red-hot balls were placed in the arm- 
pits, or spiked tubes passed under the nails, or damp 
wool was laid on the heart of one who was beine 


burnt to death, or the skin was taken off horrors 
which cause an involuntary shudder at their mere 

Notwithstanding the watchfulness of the Roman 
officials, it would have been possible to deceive them, 
had there not been Jewish renegades who betrayed 
to the Roman overseers the various stratagems and 
devices employed. These spies probably belonged 
to an unscrupulous class of men, who would do any- 
thing for gain, or they were Jewish Christians, who 
by this means thought to find favor with the Roman 
authorities, and to show that they were distinct from 
the Jews. Lastly, there were those who considered 
it a good work to assist in the destruction of the 
Jewish Law, Amongst these was Acher, who was 


imbued with contempt for the Law. It is said 
that he gave information to the Roman authorities 
to enable them to distinguish between religious C er- 

o o 

emonies and those which were of no moment. For 
example, if the Jews were compelled to work on the 
Sabbath, and one had to carry a load, in order to 
ease his conscience, would get an assistant, and 
thus lessen the desecration of the Sabbath, Acher 
would draw attention to this ruse. Thus the Roman 
spies, who initiated the overseers in the various 
rites, were keen to notice every attempt at a 
religious observance. 

Hadrian or his representatives directed their 
strictest attention to, and inflicted the severest 
punishments in, two especial cases the assembling 
of schools and the ordination of disciples. It may 
have been suggested to him that the continuance 
of the Law depended on these two functions. If 
the instruction of pupils by the teachers could 
be stopped, and the ordination of pupils as inde- 
pendent teachers could be prevented, then naturally 
a stoppage must occur in the life-current of Judaism. 
It must be confessed that the Roman policy was 
well carried out by its supporters, and that they knew 
how to strike at the most vital point of Judaism. 
Severe sentences of death were inflicted upon those 
teachers who maintained schools, and on those 
who ordained disciples ; even the communities were 
made answerable for them. The town and its envi- 
rons, where an ordination took place, were con- 
demned to destruction. It is possible that Acher 
instigated this persecution ; at any rate, it is related 
of him that he handed over the teachers of the Law 
to death, and that he frightened away disciples from 
the study of the Law. 

Amongst the friends of peace who even advised 
subservience to these decrees was Jose ben Kisma, 
who honored patience as the highest virtue, and 
hoped to effect more by submission than by bold 


opposition and useless self-destruction. He once 
met Chanina ben Teradion. who belonged to the 


party who were determined to give up their life for 
the Law. He was teaching his pupils from a scroll 
of the Law, which he held in his lap. Jose said 
warningly, " Seest thou, my brother, that even 
Heaven is favorable to the Roman empire. The 
Temple is destroyed ; the pious are cut down, the 
best men are exterminated, and yet this empire 
exists ! How canst thou dare to teach against the 
Imperial law? It would not surprise me if thou 
wert condemned to the stake together with the 
holy books." Jose was in high favor at the court of 
the Governor of Judaea, and when he died several 
persons of high rank followed his body. 

Most of the Tanaites were of a different opinion, 
and decided rather to suffer death than to give up 
their meetings at the schools ; they considered it 
of greater importance to study the Law than to 
observe religious precepts. A special ordinance 
was passed in the garret at Lydda that to teach 
was far more important than to merely practise 
the Law. As far as compulsory abstention from 
religious observances was concerned, the teachers 
of the Law had set an example of submission for 
the time being ; but in order to preserve the knowl- 
edge of the Law itself they pressed forward to a 
martyr's death, as though that must be the holiest 
part of Judaism, to be defended even at the expense 
of life. 

An old account speaks of ten martyrs who bled 
for the Law. But the names of only seven have 
been preserved ; of the others the accounts are un- 
trustworthy. The first to be executed was Ishmael, 
son of the high priest Elisha, who formulated the 
Thirteen Rules ; with him was a certain Simon (of 
which name there were several). Elisha was un- 
willing to advise others to undergo martyrdom, but 
he joyfully underwent it himself. Akiba gave ad- 


dresses, in which he described how Ishmael and 
Simon, both free from sin, had served as examples, 
and fallen by the hands of the executioner ; and 
in conclusion he exhorted his scholars with these 
words, " Prepare for death, for terrible days are 
awaiting us." Akiba's turn soon came, for he 
held discourses in secret. On the third day of 
Tishri he was thrown into prison. In vain had 
Pappos ben Juclah, one of those who advised sub- 
mission at any price, warned him to give up his 
meetings with his pupils, because the eyes of spies 
were directed to the most secret places. Chance 
brought him and this very Pappos together in 
prison. Pappos lamented that he was only con- 
demned for a worldly matter, and that he could not 
comfort himself with the idea that he was suffering for 


a great cause. Rufus, the governor and executioner, 
acted towards Akiba, whom he considered as the 
head and leader, with even greater severity than 
towards the others. He kept him for a long time 
in the prison, which was so securely guarded that 
no one could gain admission. The remaining 
teachers of the Law, who felt utterly deserted and 
helpless without Akiba, took all possible pains to 
obtain his advice in doubtful cases. Once they 
gave 300 denars to a messenger, who could only 
with great difficulty obtain access to Akiba. 

At last, however, the hour of his execution came. 
Rufus inflicted the cruelest tortures on him, and 
caused his skin to be torn off with irons. The 
great martyr, whilst under torture, recited the Shema 
with a peaceful smile on his face. Rufus, astonished 
at his extraordinary courage, asked him if he was a 
sorcerer, that he could so easily overcome the pain 
he was suffering. To which Akiba replied, " I am 
no sorcerer, but I rejoice that I am permitted to 
love God with my life." Akiba breathed forth his 
soul with the last words of the prayer which contains 
the essence of Judaism God is ONE. Akiba's 


death, which was as remarkable as his life had been, 
left a terrible void. His contemporaries mourned, 
for with him was destroyed the arm of the Law and 
the source of wisdom. He left one son and several 
disciples, who honored his name, and considered 
his mode of teaching as the only permissible one. 

The fourth martyr who heroically bore his death 
was Chanina ben Teradion. Regardless of the 
warnings of Jose ben Kisma, he continued to hold his 
lectures until he was dragged to the tribunal. He 
was asked why he had acted in opposition to the im- 
perial command, and he boldly answered, " Because 
God has so commanded me." He was wrapped up 
in a scroll of the Law and burnt on a stake of fresh 
rushes. Chanina's wife was also sentenced to death, 
and his daughter condemned to degradation. 

The martyrdom of Chuzpit, the speaker (Me- 
turgeman) of the Synhedrion of Jamnia, and Isebab, 
the secretary of the Synhedrion, are merely noted 
without details ; doubtless they were discovered 
teaching the Law. Judah ben Baba is said to have 
been the last of the martyrs. Before his death he 
resolved to invest the seven remaining pupils of 
Akiba with the necessary authority to continue 
the propagation of the traditional Law. He 
selected for the function the valley between Usha 
and Shefaram, but despite this secrecy he was 
surprised by the Romans. His disciples refused 
to leave him, and it was only after repeated 
entreaties that they fled. The enemy found the 
old man alone, and he gave himself up to death 
without opposition. He was pierced by lances. 
From fear of Rufus's bloodthirsty vengeance, the 
usual address was omitted at the funeral of 
Judah ben Baba. Neither the name nor the mode 
of death of the remaining martyrs is known with 
certainty. Thus ends the second generation of 
Tanaites ; it was rich in great men, rich in great 
minds, and rich in trouble and sorrow. The end 


of Bar-Cochba's revolt formed the turning-point of 
this epoch, and the fact that a temple to Jupiter 
Capitolinus occupied the site of the ancient Jewish 
Temple seemed to the Jewish Christians to presage 
the last day and the return of the Messiah. 

Hadrian and Rufus's cruel measures were directed 
not against the survivors alone, but also against 
the dead. The heaps of dead bodies were not per- 
mitted to be interred, but the horrible sight was 
intended as a warning to the survivors, that they 
should no longer dream of deliverance from the 
Roman yoke. The rulers did not trouble themselves 
as to the pestilential condition of the air, or the de- 
pressing effect of beholding so many corpses lying 
in the sunshine ; or perhaps they rejoiced that pes- 
tilence and despair should be added to the horrors 
inflicted on the Jewish nation. To pious and gentle 
hearts the thought was unbearable that the remains 
of those who had fallen, which were especially to be 
honored by Jewish custom, should be left as a prey 
to wild beasts and birds and to decay in the sun- 
light. It appears that a pious man desired to 
impress on the survivors who had made peace with 
the Romans, and who lived in seclusion, the neces- 
sity of interring the corpses in the darkness of the 
night, even at the cost of their own happiness and 
peace. To this end he composed a book the Book 
of Tobit in which great weight is laid on the duty 
of secretly interring the bodies of those whom the 
tyrants doomed to disgrace ; and at the same time 
it was hinted that the danger attending this duty 
A^ould bring a rich reward. In evidence of this the 
case was cited of the pious Tobit, who after suffer- 
ing many misfortunes as the result of his labor of 
love, was in the end rewarded with rich blessings. 
The contents of the Book of Tobit undeniably indi- 
cate that it was composed in the reign of Hadrian. 

Hadrian's severe persecution also fell upon the 
Jewish Christians perhaps on all Christians* 


although they had separated from the Jewish com- 
munity ; for the reason that the Roman authorities 
did not consider the differences of dogma between 
Jews and Christians. The Evangelists paint in the 
darkest colors the horrors of persecution with which 
the Christians were attacked. "Then you will be- 
hold the terrors of desolation (predicted by the 
prophet Daniel) where they should not be ; he who 
is in Judaea will flee to the mountains ; woe to the 
pregnant and to the sucklings. Pray, however, that 
your flight may not take place in winter or on a 

Both sects of Christians were anxious to be rec- 
ognized as a body separate from the Jews, both po- 
litically and religiously, so as to avoid the doom im- 
pending over the latter. Two teachers of the 
Church, Ouadratus and Aristides, are said to have 
handed to Hadrian a petition, in which they demon- 
strated that Christianity had no connection with 
Judaism. From this time dates the unity and iden- 
tity of most of the Jewish-Christian and heathen- 
Christian sects. The Jewish Christians gave up the 
Jewish laws which they had hitherto kept, in a greater 
or less degree, adopting the dogmatic precepts of 
Christianity as they had been developed under 
heathen-Christian views, and as proof of their sin- 
cere convictions, they for the first time placed an 
uncircumcised bishop at the head of the community. 
From the time of Hadrian all connection between 
Jews and Christians ceased, and they no longer oc- 
cupied the position of two hostile bodies belonging 
to the same house, but they became two entirely 
distinct bodies. 

Through the war against Hadrian and the edict 
of persecution a terrible time had arisen for Judaea. 
The towns were destroyed, the land laid waste, the 
inhabitants were killed either on the battle-field 
or on the scaffold, or led a miserable life as refu- 
gees, while some were scattered in more hospitable 


The disciples of the Law, more especially the 
seven disciples of Akiba, had, with broken hearts, 
sought refuge in Nisibis and Nahardea, and if the 
persecution had lasted longer, Babylon would even 
at this time have attained that importance for 
Judaism which it reached a century later. Hadrian's 
death, which occurred three years after the fall of 
Bethar, brought about a favorable turn. The pious 
beheld in the miserable death of this emperor, who, 
next to Antiochus Epiphanes, became the incarna- 
tion of the Jews' hatred, and the mention of whose 
name was always accompanied by the curse, " May 
God reduce his remains to dust," a divine visitation 
for the evils he had wrought on the Jewish nation. 
Those who had escaped destruction endeavored to 
obtain from Hadrian's successor the revocation of 
the cruel edicts. Titus Aurelius Antoninus, who 
received the name of Pius, although the adopted 
son of Hadrian, was of a somewhat more humane 
and beneficent character, and a milder treatment 
seemed likely at his hands. A noble Roman lady 
of Ccesarea or Antioch, who had pity on the surfer- 
ings of the Jews, advised them to petition the Roman 
authorities that the persecutions might cease. 
This lady was perhaps the wife of Rufus, and is 
said to have had inclination towards Judaism. 
Following this advice, a few men, headed by Jehudah 
ben Shamua, repaired to the governor to beg for 
mercy. In the gloomy darkness of their desolation 
they lamented " O heavens, are we not your 
brothers, the sons of the same father? Why do 
you inflict on us unendurable sufferings ?" Such 
lamentations appear to have induced the governor 
to petition the Emperor to pursue a milder course 
of conduct towards the Jews. 

On the 1 5th Ab (August) the joyous news is said 
to have come that the heaped-up corpses of the 
Jewish warriors might be buried. On the 28th 
Adar (March, 139 or 140), the yet more joyful tid- 


ings came that the decrees of Hadrian were revoked, 
and this day was commemorated in the calendar. 
A Roman source relates that the Emperor Antoninus 
Pius conceded to the Jews the rite of circumcision ; 
but they were not permitted to perform it on other 
nationalities ; that is, they were not allowed to make 
proselytes. Thus the persecution on account of 
religion was ended. Antoninus Pius, however, did 
not repeal the law forbidding the Jews to enter 

This unexpected end of the persecution recalled 
the fugitives to their native land. The seven dis- 
ciples of Akiba the only heirs to the spiritual heri- 
tage of former times who, for the most part, had 
emigrated to Babylon, now returned. These were 
Meir, Judah ben Ilai, Jose ben Chalafta, Jochanan 
of Alexandria, Simon ben Jochai, Eleazar ben Jacob 
(or ben Shamua) and Nehemiah. They repaired 
directly to the plain of Rimmon, made notable 
during the Revolution, to consider the introduction 
of a leap year, the calendar probably having become 
incorrect. At the first meeting a fierce contest en- 


sued, probably with reference to one of the Halachas 
of Akiba, but the dispute terminated in a friendly 

They reassembled in Usha, the native town of 
Judah, which even previous to the revolution of Bar- 
Cochba, had been, for a short time, the seat of the 
college, and they invited all the remaining teachers 
of the Law in Galilee to meet there. Many came 
at the invitation, and the inhabitants of Usha en- 
deavored to provide the guests with all that they 
required. The business of the Synod was to rein- 
state and renew the traditions which had fallen into 
disuse during the persecutions. After several days 
passed in Usha, the chief organizers of the meeting 
dismissed their guests with solemn addresses. 
Judah thanked the strangers, who had taken the 
trouble to come to the meeting from a distance of 


several miles. The other members of the council 
thanked the inhabitants of Usha for the hospitality 
displayed towards them. Thus did the nation, 
whose destruction had seemed imminent, again re- 
vive, and the Law was once again the curative 
measure, bringing with it health and strength. 

The members of the Tanaite circle pursued the 
work of their predecessors with great self-sacrifice, 
in order to restore the broken chain of tradition, 
but their numbers were less, and their mental 
activity inferior to that of the former generation. 
The chief of those who took part in affairs were 
Simon II., son of the Patriarch Gamaliel, Nathan 
of Babylon, Me'ir and Simon ben Jochai. The first 
of these, as was related, escaped in a wonderful 
manner from the massacre at Bethar, as also from 
the persecution with which he was threatened. The 
quaesitor, who had been appointed by Rufus to 
imprison him, gave him a hint of the threatened 
danger, on which Simon escaped and took refuge in 
Babylon. How long he remained there, and under 
what circumstances he assumed his hereditary 
dignities, is not known. 

Simon seems to have been desirous of raising 
the dignity of Patriarch to special importance and 
grandeur, probably in imitation of the Babylonian 
Prince of the Captivity. He does not appear to 
have been at the first Synod in Usha, nor to have 
taken part in the discourses given there from time 
to time, but to have taken up his residence at 
fabne, a place endeared to him by the memory of 
his father, in the neighborhood of which he probably 
owned property. The disciples of Akiba, the chief 
supporters of the Law, appear to have preferred 
Usha or they desired to proclaim their independ- 
ence of the patriarch. Thus Simon, in order not to 
remain alone, had to repair to the Galilean Synod. 
The College was completed by Nathan and Meir 
as speaker. The patriarch had almost brought on 


himself the fate of his father through disregarding 
the equality which reigned amongst the members of 
the College. Of his bearing towards the traditional 
law only so much is known, that he taught the 
universally acknowledged Halachas, and the doubtful 
ones he had referred to himself. In contested cases 
he gave the preference to former decisions, and 
laid no weight on theoretical discussions. On the 


authority of the numerous teachers of the Law in 
past times certain practices had obtained amongst 
their surroundings and had become an authority 
amongst the people, and these practices Simon 
desired to maintain. The decision of a court of 
justice, in such cases where a mistaken judgment 
was given, was to hold good, for otherwise Simon 
feared that respect for such decisions would cease. 
His Iwh-mindedness Simon showed in the beautiful 


saying, " The world subsists on three conditions, 
truth, justice and peace." 

The most original personage of this period 
was unquestionably Meir, whose great intellect, 
thoroughness of purpose and knowledge remind us 
of his teacher Akiba. His real but forgotten name 
was Miasa or Moise (the Greek for Moses). Accord- 
ing to an unauthenticated legend he was said to be 
descended from a converted family, from the Em- 
peror Nero in fact, who was believed in the East to 
have escaped his murderers and to have become 
converted to Judaism. 

It is certain that Meir's birthplace was in Asia 
Minor, probably in the Cappadocian Csesarea. He 
made his livelihood through writing and copying 
Holy Writ. He was so intimately acquainted with 
the orthographical rules of the Hebrew language, 
which render the transcription of the Holy Books 
almost a science, that he once wrote from memory 
the whole book of Esther without making a mistake. 


By this means he earned three shekels per week, 
two-thirds of which he devoted to his family and 


one-third to the support of poor fellow-students. 
He married Bruria (or Valeria), the learned 
daughter of Chanina ben Teradion, whose Halachic 
knowledge was praised even by Joshua. Meir was 
for a time a pupil of Ishmael, but his simple mode 
of teaching did not please him so well as the more 
intelligent method of Akiba, whose system, which 
was ultimately adopted by him, exercised the most 
decided influence over his mode of thought. Akiba 
soon ordained his favorite pupil, and gave him the 
preference over Simon, but on account of his youth 
he did not meet with much respect as an independent 
teacher. Meir was severe on such petty conduct, ' 
which did not look to the qualifications of a man, 
but to his age. " Look not," he said wittily, " to 
the vessel, but to its contents. Many a new vessel 
contains old wine, but there are old casks which do 
not contain even new wine." Several sensible 
sayings are recorded of him ; he became celebrated 
as a writer of fables, and composed 300 on the fox 
alone a favorite subject of Eastern imagery. The 
submission to God of Meir and his wife on the 
occasion of the death of their two children has 
become known through a poetical account of the 
event. It is related that his two sons, having died 
suddenly on the Sabbath, during their father's 
absence at the school, his tender-hearted wife did 
not tell him of the deaths, in order that he might 
not be grieved by sad tidings on the holy day. 
When the Sabbath was over she asked him whether 
that which was lent must necessarily be returned to 
the lender, and on receiving an affirmative answer 
she led him to where their two children lay dead, 
and consoled him with what he had said, that they 
had only been confided to their care, and were now 
reclaimed by the owner. Meir's modesty was as 
great as his submissiveness to God. His favorite 
saying was, " Occupy thyself less with gain than 
with the Law, and be humble to all men/' 


His contemporaries and successors could not 
sufficiently praise Meir's wisdom and character. 
Jose depicts him to his townspeople, the inhabitants 
of Sepphoris, as a pious, morally strict and holy 
man. It became proverbial that " He who touches 
Meir's staff becomes wise." He obtained his deep 
knowledge of men by mixing with those against 
whom prejudice prevailed. He even sought out 
the apostate and traitor Acher, in order that he 
might be instructed by him. When Meir was 
reproached for his intimacy with a traitor to the 
Law, he said, "When I see a juicy pomegranate I 
enjoy its contents and throw away the skin." 

One Sabbath he accompanied Acher, who was 
on horseback, whilst Meir was on foot, discussing a 
rendering of the Scriptures. Suddenly Acher said 
to him, " Thou canst go thus far and not farther, 
for here is the limit of thy Sabbath walk. Return." 
Meir, seizing the opportunity, said to Acher, 
"Return them also." But Acher said, "If for all 
sinners there be pardon, for me the gates of mercy 
are closed, because I have turned the gifts given 
me by God to evil uses." Later, when Acher was 
ill, Meir again endeavored to win him over, and 
flattered himself that he had induced Acher to 
repent before his death. A legend relates that 
Meir spread his mantle over Acher's grave, from 
which there arose a pillar of smoke, and in imitation 
of a verse of Scripture (Ruth iii. 13) he exclaimed, 
" Rest here in the night ; in the dawn of happiness 
the God of mercy will deliver thee ; if not, I will be 
thy redeemer." 

Meir also was intimate with a heathen philosopher, 
Euonymus of Gadara. In Jewish circles it was said, 
" Be not surprised to find amongst the heathens a 
knowledge of God, for God had inspired Balaam 
and Euonymus, two of the greatest philosophers of 
heathendom, with His wisdom, so that they might 
teach the people." When Euonymus mourned for 


the death of his parents, Meir visited him in order 
to condole with him, for he held that a heathen who 
occupied himself with the Torah was as worthy as 
a high priest of Judaism, for it says in Holy Writ, 
"These laws man shall observe in order to live," by 
which Meir explained that Jews were not exclusively 
appointed to enjoy eternal happiness. 

Through intercourse with men of learning Meir 

C> C> 

appears to have become acquainted with the Stoic 
philosophy, which was at that time the ruling power 
in the Roman world. But all the perfections which, 
according to philosophy, were due to the Stoic 
theory, he attributed to the Torah, which helps man 
to attain the ideal, if he devotes himself to it from 
pure love and without interested motives. " The 
Torah," he says, " makes him who familiarizes him- 
self with it worthy to all the world ; he becomes the 
favorite of all ; it inspires him with love to God and 
man ; clothes him in modesty and fear of God ; 
makes him pious, honest, and true ; removes him 
from sin ; brings him near to virtue ; endows him 
with kingly dignity ; makes him moral, long-suffering, 
forgetful of injury, and raises and carries him above 
all things." This was his ideal of a truly wise man. 
In treating the Halachic traditions Meir copied his 
teacher Akiba's system of dialectics. The rules of 
deduction used by his predecessors he employed as 
formulas which could establish or abolish legal 
enactments. His contemporaries relate of him that 
they could never reach the real meaning of Meir's 
decisions, because he brought forward a number of 
proofs for and against an ordinance, and he was 
able through similes and deductions to turn a law, 
as it was laid down, into one of an opposite meaning. 
Whether these sophistic arguments were to be 
taken seriously, or whether they were only intended 
by the speaker for dialectic purposes in order to 
show both sides of the question, is not now known, as 
even those who lived in former times were doubtful 
on the subject. 


Yet the injurious method of treating the Hala- 
chas, which was called Talmudic dialectics, became 
later on still more developed ; in fact, the closer 
apprehension of the Halachas was deemed impos- 
sible without it. Nevertheless, Meir's exposition 
of the Law was decidedly serious and strict. 
Amongst other things he asserts that he who gives 
his wife less dowry than is usual, acts wrongly ; for 
he thereby makes divorce more easy to obtain. 
Further, he asserts that any one who in the smallest 
degree should deviate from the law laid down for 
divorce would render the act illegal, and his children 
from the second marriage would be considered as 
illegitimate, Meir further controverted the law which 


was universally respected, that what was forbidden or 
permitted should be inferred from such cases as most 
commonly occurred in life, without regard to excep- 
tional circumstances ; he considered that certain 
circumstances should conscientiously be reckoned 
exceptional. For this reason when he heard that 
some Samaritans continued to worship idols, which 
according to Hadrian's edict they had formerly 
been compelled to do, when they brought him 
libations of wine, he refused to permit the use of 
wine amongst his hearers. This abstinence, had it 
been consistently observed, would have put an end 
to much industry and pleasure and rendered them 
legally impossible. For other misdeeds, as for 
example usury, he imposed heavy fines. But his 
regulations were not carried out, his contemporaries 
and succeeding generations did not acknowledge 
Meir's ordinances and imposts in their entirety. 
He was, however, most severe against himself, and 
once said " Even if I hold something as permissible 
to others, I cannot allow it to hold good for myself, 
if I am convinced that my colleagues would be of a 
different opinion." As in the treatment of Halachas, 
so in ordinary things, Meir followed in the footsteps 
of Akiba ; he completed the collection of the 


Mishnas, but appears to have arranged their com- 
ponent parts more according to their contents than 
their number. These arrangements of Mei'r and his 
colleagues made no pretense to being a code, but 
each teacher of the Law having a circle of disciples, 
treated the material before him in the manner 
which seemed most suitable and convenient to 
himself. Mei'r had assembled a not insignificant 
number of pupils round him, who were drawn 
towards him by his intelligent renderings and inter- 
esting lectures. He was in the habit of alternating 

<j O 

the dry matter of the Halachas with the attrac- 
tive Agadahs, and of illustrating them by fables. 

Amongst Mei'r's disciples was one named Sym- 
machos ben Joseph, who adopted and exaggerated 
his method to such an extent that it was said of him 
that he could argue well, but could not come to any 
practical decision. It was even said of him that his 
forefathers could not have been present at the Rev- 
elation on Sinai. After Mei'r's death both Sym- 
machos and his disciples were excluded from the 
school, because they did not seek for truth, but only 
to dispute sophistically. It is probable that Meir 
repaired to the Synhedrion of Usha when important 
questions were under discussion. He did not live 
on good terms with the Patriarch Simon. 

Simon ben Jochai of Galilee was as striking but 
not so many-sided a personage as Mei'r, and he 
was falsely reported to be a worker of miracles a 
mystic and a Cabbalist. Few facts of his life are 
known, but we may infer from what is recorded 
that he was rather of a matter-of-fact than of an 
imaginative turn of mind. Nothing is known of 
Simon's youth, and later, after his return with others 
from the exile imposed on them under Hadrian's 
rule, his activity seems to have spent itself on the 
newly organized Synhedrion at Usha. In opposition 
to his father, Jochai, who stood in favor with the 
Roman authorities, the son was a decided enemy 


of Rome, and was not much liked by them. For 
uttering a truthful censure on the Roman Governor, 
he was sentenced to death, and could save himself 
only by flight, and upon this fact legend has seized 
in order to surround Simon with wonders and 
miracles. Amongst the various legal decisions, 
sayings and remarks which have been preserved of 
him there is no trace of a mystical tendency. On 
the contrary his reasoning with regard to biblical 
laws was always of a simple nature. The system 
of following out the reasoning of the Law, and 
thence drawing deductions, was peculiar to Simon. 
This was an improvement on Akiba's system, which 
consisted in drawing from pleonastic words, sylla- 
bles and letters, the principles of legal deductions. 
The following are instances of Simon's method. 
The Bible forbids the distraint of a widow's goods ; 
Simon restricted the reference to cases of poor 
widows. Simon drew his conclusion in the following 


manner : The biblical law which enacts that a widow 
should be spared all legal seizure of goods could 
only apply to poor widows. A rich woman had no 
cause for being so spared. Further, that the prohi- 
bition against intermarrying with the seven Ca- 
naanite races must also be extended to all idola- 
trous nations, as the law was actually intended to 
prevent the people from being drawn into idolatry. 
Another opinion of Simon's shows how far re- 
moved he was from all exaggerated religious theo- 
ries. He had a curious saying that the fulfilment 
of the Law was only possible to those who lived on 
manna or the tithes. Unlike most teachers of the 
Law, Simon pursued no occupation or business ; he 
was at that time the only man whose life's business 
was the study of the Law. Simon's dwelling-place 
and school-house were in the fertile oil district of 
Tekoa, in Galilee. He had his circle of disciples, 
and because he survived his colleagues he became 


the only authority of the following period. 


Another important name was that of Judah ben 
Ilai of Usha, whose character bore a similarity to 
that of Joshua. Modest, wise, diplomatic, eloquent, 
he knew how to bridge over the breach which ex- 
isted between the Roman and the Jewish nature. 
He was therefore especially designated " the wise," 
or " the first speaker." Judah was not a man of 
property, but, like Joshua, he supported himself by 
an occupation of which he was not ashamed. He 
often used the expression " The work honors the 
laborer. He who does not teach his son a handi- 
craft designs him to be a robber." His mode 
of teaching had no especially pronounced charac- 

As with Judah we have no distinctive features re- 
corded, so also of the life of Jose ben Chalafta of 
Sepphoris but little is known. He also followed a 
trade, and one of the lowest kind. He was a worker 
in leather. Unlike his contemporaries, Jose devoted 
himself to the collection of the annals of Jewish his- 
tory, and left an account from the creation of the 
world to the war of Bar Cochba, under the name 
of Seder Olam. He endeavored to fix the various 
dates correctly from the historical records of the 
Bible. He tried to render clear the doubtful pas- 
sages, and to fill up the gaps in traditions. On 
the other hand, from the time of Alexander the 
Great, we find that this chronicle of Jose gives 
independent and trustworthy, but very scanty in- 

But little that is noteworthy is known of the other 
disciples of Akiba. Besides the Galilean circle of 
scholars there was yet another in the extreme south 
of Judaea (Darom) who continued Ishmael's mode 
of teaching ; only two members of this circle, Josiah 
and Jonathan, are know r n. 

Nathan, a Babylonian, and a son of the Prince of 
the Captivity, was a man of special interest. It is 
not known where he received instruction in the 


Halachas, nor what occasioned him to remove to 
Judaea, or to give up the more favorable position 
that he occupied in his native country. The foreign 
teachers of the Law at this period were Judah ben 
Bathyra of Nisibis, who appears to have sheltered 
the fugitives from Judaea ; also Chananya, nephew 
of Joshua, in Nahar-Pakod, who had been sent by 
his uncle to Babylon, so as to remove him from the 
influence of the Jewish Christians ; and, lastly, 
Matiah ben Charash in Rome, who first trans- 
planted the knowledge of the Jewish Law from Asia 
to Europe. 

Whilst the teachers of the Law in Galilee endea- 
vored to reanimate the body of the nation, to re- 
establish rhe Synhedrion, and to secure and spread 
traditions by collecting and classifying them, but 
little was needed to cause a deep schism which 
threatened to separate the Babylonian congregation 
entirely from the main body. 

The wisdom of the Patriarch Simon II. deftly 
avoided this breach. Chananya established a sort of 
Synhedrion in Nahar-Pakod, probably in the neigh- 
borhood of Nahardea, of which he was the president, 
whilst a certain Nechunyan, perhaps the Prince of 
the Captivity, appears to have supported him. The 
Babylonian community, until then under the con- 
trol of Judaea, and now left uncared for through 
the destruction of all religious institutions in the 
fatherland, welcomed a Synhedrion in their midst as 
of joyful import, and gratefully accepted its ordi- 
nances and decisions. Chananya immediately in- 
troduced a leap year, and the celebration of the 
festivals as had been customary in Judaea. But 
when the Synhedrion had been established in Usha 
it was no longer possible to continue the existence 
of a body which threatened the unity of Judaism, 
and tended to divide it into an eastern and western 
Judaism. In order to avoid such a division the 
Patriarch Simon sent two ambassadors, Isaac and 


Nathan, with flattering messages to Chananya, with 
the unusual superscription, " To his holiness Cha- 
nanya." The president of the Babylonian Synhe- 
drion, who had not expected such friendliness, re- 
ceived the Jewish ambassadors in the kindest man- 
ner, and introduced them with flattering speeches 
to the assembly. Having secured the confidence 
of the nation, they named the ultimate reason of 
their embassage. At the public service they read 
from the Book of Laws, " Such are the feast days of 
Chananya" (instead of God). Another read from 
the prophets " From Babylon shall the light go 
forth, and the word of the Lord from Nahar Pakod" 
(instead of Zion and Jerusalem). The audience, 
whose attention was drawn through these ironical 
allusions, and who felt that an independent Synhe- 
drion in Babylon would be contrary to the spirit of 
the Law, felt their consciences disturbed. Chananya 
vainly endeavored to weaken the impression by im- 
plicating the ambassadors. They replied that to 
establish an opposition Synhedrion in Babylon was 
tantamount to building an altar, at which Chananya 
and Nechunya would officiate as unauthorized 
priests, and was in fact equal to disavowing the God 
of Israel. Chananya, however, doubted the contin- 
uance of a Synhedrion in Judaea, saying that the 
teachers of the Law there did not enjoy any authority, 
to which the ambassadors replied, " The little ones 
whom thou hast deserted have meanwhile grown 
up." Chananya, hoxvcvcr, did not relinquish his 
design until Judah ben Bathyra, in Nisibis, pointed 
out to him that in holy things unqualified obedience 
must be paid to the Judcean Synhedrion. Finding 
no response or interest anywhere, he countermanded 
the festivals as arranged by himself, and the Baby- 
lonian Synhedrion came to an end. 

Dissensions arose at the College of Usha, which 
threatened to have similar results to the contest be- 
tween Gamaliel and Joshua. The Patriarch Simon, 


in order to increase his dignity, endeavored to in- 
troduce a special etiquette, in order to remove the 
equality previously existing between all officials. In 
the absence of the Ab-beth-din Nathan and the 
speaker Meir, he instituted a new order of rank, 
which would definitely recognize him as the superior 
head. This distinction lay herein, that at all public 
sittings of the Synhedrion the people, who were ac- 
customed to rise at the entrance of the president 
and other important officials, and to remain standing 
until the sign was given them to be seated, should 
reserve this mark of honor in future for the Presi- 
dent alone ; in honor of his substitute only the first 
rows were to stand until he had taken his seat ; and 
still less ceremony was to be observed towards the 
speaker (the Chacham). 

When Nathan and Meir for the first time attended 
the meeting and noticed the new arrangements they 
secretly determined to conspire against Simon, and 
to deprive him of his office. For this purpose, how- 
ever, the consent of the nation, with whom the ap- 
pointment of Patriarch rested, became necessary. 
They determined to puzzle Simon by difficult ques- 
tions (on the Halachas), and he seems to have been 
inferior to them in knowledge of traditional lore, 
and when they had revealed his weakness before 
the whole assemblage they intended proposing the 
deposition of a Patriarch who was not conversant 
with all branches of the Law. They also determined 
that Nathan, who belonged to the family of the 
Prince of the Captivity, and who was also of the 
race of David, should become Patriarch, and that 
Meir should be second in rank as substitute. This 
plot, however, was betrayed to Simon, and the con- 
spirators found him prepared. 

The Patriarch, on revealing the scheme against 
him, succeeded in having the two expelled from the 
Synhedrion. But they made their absence felt by 
writing difficult questions and distributing them 


amongst the assembly, whom they thereby placed 
in an awkward position. Referring to these two 
Jose afterwards said, " We are in the house of the 
Law, but the Law is outside." They were re- 
admitted, but Simon arranged that their names 
should not be recorded in the ordinances enacted 
by him. R. Nathan subsequently made peace with 
the Patriarch, but the breach with Meir endured. 
Simon at length excommunicated him, but Meir was 
not as submissive as he who, without a word, had 
accepted Gamaliel's sentence. Referring to a 
former resolution of the Synhehrion in Usha, that 
no member could be excommunicated, Meir replied, 
" I do not care for your sentence until you prove to 
me on whom, on what grounds, and under what con- 
ditions it can be imposed." In proud recognition 
of his own worth, Meir is said on his death-bed to 
have uttered the words : " Tell the sons of the 
Holy Land that their Messiah has died in a 
foreign land." According to his last will, his body 
was buried on the sea-shore. 

Simon's patriarchate was not free from the dis- 
turbances and oppressions which the Roman officials 
permitted themselves to perpetrate towards the 
Jewish people. The mutual hatred of Jews and 
Romans, which had followed from the revolt of Bar- 
Cochba and Hadrian's persecution, was so great 
that the powerful victors could not do otherwise 
than make their power felt by those whom they had 
conquered. Simon ben Gamaliel notes the daily 
tortures and oppressions : " Our forefathers only 
scented trouble from afar ; we, however, have 
suffered from them through many days, years, 
periods, and cycles ; we have more right to become 
impatient than our forefathers. If, as formerly, we 
desired to record our troubles and temporary relief 
on a scroll, we should not find space enough." The 
hatred of the Romans on the one hand, and the en- 
durance of the Jews on the other, appear to have 


ended in a fresh revolution in Judaea, which took 
place in the last year of the reign of the Emperor 
Antoninus Pius (161), but its rise, scene of action, 
and results are not known. The attempt at a new 
call to arms appears to have been connected with 
the warlike preparations commenced by the Par- 
thians against Rome. Though often deceived, the 
Judaeans still hoped for the help of the Parthians, as 
a means of deliverance from the Roman yoke. 
Simon b. Jochai, who heartily despised the hypo- 
critical policy of the Romans, said, "When thou 
seest a Persian (Parthian) steed tied to an Israelite 
tombstone, then canst thou believe in the advent of 
t5ie Messiah." Meanwhile, the badly-organized 
revolt was soon suppressed by the Governor of 
Syria before the Parthians could come to the rescue. 
The Parthian war, which lasted several years (161- 
165), began shortly after the death of the Emperor 
Antoninus Pius, when the Roman Empire for the 
first time was governed by two rulers, the philo- 
sophical but impractical Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
and the dissolute Verus Commodus. At the first 
attack the Parthians, under their king Vologeses, 
entered Syria, defeated the governor, Atidius Cor- 
nelianus, who had just repressed the Jewish revolt, 
put his legions to flight, and devastated the country. 
The second emperor, Verus, was sent with fresh 
troops to the East, though he was eminently unfitted 
to conduct a war. The conquest of the Parthians 
was therefore undertaken by capable generals, 
whilst the emperor gave himself up to dissipation 
in Antioch, Laodicea, and Daphne. 

Fresh persecutions appear to have been insti- 
tuted by the Emperor Verus against the Jews of 
Palestine. First they lost the right of using their 
own courts of justice. It is not certain whether 
Jewish judicial functions were set aside, or whether 
the Jewish judges were deposed. Simon ben Jochai 
thanked God for the interference of the Romans, 


as he, like his contemporaries, did not feel himself 
fitted to exercise judicial rights. Notwithstanding 
that the chiefs of the Synhedrion had taken no part 
in the revolution, they yet seem to have been sus- 
pected and watched by the Roman authorities. A 
conversation was once reported which took place 
between Judah, Jose and Simon ben Jochai at Usha, 
where, it appears, a discussion was held with re- 
gard to the Roman policy. Judah, who, like Joshua, 
endeavored to calm those who stood around, had 
been praising Rome for her actions. " How useful 
this nation has been ; everywhere it has erected 
towns with market-places ; it has put bridges over 
rivers, and built bath-houses for the preservation of 
health." Jose kept silent, neither giving praise nor 
blame. Simon ben Jochai, on the other hand, could 
not repress his displeasure. " What the Romans 
do," he said, " they only do for the sake of selfish- 
ness and gain. They keep houses of bad repute 
in the cities, misuse the bathing-places, and levy toll 
for the bridges." A proselyte, Judah, repeated this, 
perhaps without desiring to make mischief. Judah, 
however, the eulogist of Rome, was loaded with 
honors, Jose was banished to Laodicea, and Simon 
was condemned to death. In consequence of these 
events the Synhedrion at Usha seems to have been 
dissolved, for the most important members were 
withdrawn, and its proceedings watched. 

Simon, who had taken refuge, as before stated, 
in a cave, became the hero of various miracles. He 
is said to have spent years in this cave, supporting 
himself on carob-beans and spring water, in conse- 
quence of which his skin became full of boils. When 
he learnt that affairs had taken a favorable turn, 
probably through the death of the Emperor Verus 
(169), he took this as a sign that he might venture 
out, and by bathing in the warm springs of Tiberias 
his shattered health became restored. Out of 
gratitude he declared the town of Tiberias, which 


had hitherto been avoided by the pious, because 
buildings had been erected over graves, as clean 
and suitable for a dwelling-place. This aroused the 
anger of the pious who lived in Magdala (Tarichea), 
who considered this decision as a frivolous innova- 
tion. After his return Simon ben Jochai was asked 
to repair to Rome, and to intercede with the Em- 
peror Marcus Aurelius for the abolition of the laws 
against the Jews. Simon took as his companion on 
this journey Eleazar, the son of Jose, probably be- 
cause he was acquainted with the Latin language. 
When they arrived in Rome, assisted by various in- 
fluential Roman Jews, they probably succeeded in 
obtaining from Marcus Aurelius the concession 
sought. Christian teachers also addressed petitions 
to the Emperor and requested him to show mercy 
on Christendom. The legend relating to Simon at- 
tributes the attainment of the emperor's favor to a 
miracle ; he had, namely, delivered the daughter of 
the emperor, Lucilla, from a demon (Bartholomaion), 
and out of gratitude the emperor permitted him and 
his followers to take from the state archives what- 
ever they chose, and they took out the inhuman 
decree against the Jews and destroyed it. There 
appear to have been actual grounds for this story, 
for Eleazar ben Joseph, Simon's friend, boasted that 
he had seen in the room the vessels of the Temple, 
the frontal of the high priest, and the curtain of the 
Holy of Holies, which Titus had carried off as 
trophies, and which could be seen only by those 
especially favored. 



The Patriarch Judah I. His Authority and Reputation Completion 

of the Mishna The Last Generation of Tanaites Condition of 

the Jews under Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, Septimius Severus, 

and Antoninus Caracalla Character and contents of the Mishna 

Death of Judah. 

175-219 c. E. 

THE last generation of the Tanaites had come back 
to the same point from which they first had started, 
thus completing the whole circle. In the same way 
as the first had found complete expression in a single 
personality, Jochanan ben Zaccai, so also the last 
culminated in one standard-bearer, who formed the 
central point of his times. The former had been 
followed by several disciples, each possessing his 
peculiar school, tendency, and system ; and thus the 
material of tradition was divided into a multiplicity 
of fractional parts. It was the Patriarch Judah, the 
son of Simon II., who reunited them, and thus brought 
the activity of the Tanaites to a conclusion. He 
was the chief authority of the last generation, com- 
pared with whom the other teachers of the Law 
were of no importance ; he abandoned the old ten- 
dencies and prepared the way for a new departure. 
In spite of the important position which he occupies 
in Jewish history but little is known of Judah's life. 
It was during a time of great affliction, when the 
calamitous consequences of the Bar-Cochba war 
were still being felt, that his superior talents and 
great parts developed themselves. He so distin- 
guished himself by mature questions and striking 
answers that his father and the college advanced 
him to the foremost rank of the disciples while he 



was still in his first youth. As though he felt that 
his vocation was to be the collecting and arranging 
of the most dissimilar opinions, Judah did not confine 
himself to any one school, but sought the society of 
several teachers of the Law. This it was that saved 
him from that one-sidedness and narrowness of 
mind which is given to upholding, with more fidelity 
than love of truth, the words of one teacher against 
all other doctrines. The most important of his 
teachers were Simon ben Jochai and Eleazar ben 
Shamua, whose school was so crowded with students 
that six of them were obliged to content themselves 
with one seat. 

Judah was elevated to the dignity of Patriarch 
upon his father's decease, and the cessation of the 
persecutions after Verus's death. He was blessed 
with such extraordinary gifts of fortune that it used 
to be said proverbially, "Judah's cattle-stalls are 
worth more than the treasure-chambers of the King 
of Persia." Living very simply himself, he made 
but small use of this wealth for his personal gratifi- 
cation, but employed it in the maintenance of the 
disciples who during his Patriarchate gathered 
around him in numbers from at home and abroad, 
and were supported entirely at his cost. At the 
time of the awful famine, which, together with the 
plague, raged for several years during the reign of 
Marcus Aurelius throughout the whole extent of 
the Roman empire, the Jewish prince threw open 
his storehouses and distributed corn to the needy. 
At first he decided that those only should be suc- 
cored who were occupied in some way with the 
study of the Law, thus excluding from his charity 
the rude and uneducated populace. It was only 
when his over-conscientious disciple, Jonathan ben 
Amram, refused to derive any material benefit from 
his knowledge of the Law, exclaiming, " Succor me 
not because I am learned in the Law, but as you 
would feed a hungry raven," that Judah perceived 


the mistake of trying- to set bounds to his charity, 
and he thenceforth distributed his gifts without dis- 
tinction. On another occasion Judah also yielded 
to his better convictions and overcame his nature, 
which seems not to have been entirely free from a 
touch of harshness. The daughters of Acher, a man 
who had held the Law in contempt, having fallen 
into distress, came to Judah for help. At first he 
repulsed them uncharitably, remarking that the 
orphans of such a father deserved no pity. But 
when they reminded him of their father's profound 
knowledge of the Law, he immediately altered his 

Distinguished by his wealth and his intimate 
knowledge of the subject-matter of the Halachas, he 
succeeded without trouble in doing that which his 
predecessors had striven in vain to accomplish, 
namely, to invest the Patriarchate with autocratic 
power, unfettered by the presence of any rival 
authority, and to transfer the powers of the Synhe- 
drion to the person of the Patriarch. The seat of 
the principal school and of the Synhedrion during 
the time of Judah, and after Usha had lost its im- 
portance (a short time previously it seems to have 
been the neighboring town of Shefaram), was first at 
Beth-Shearim, northeast of Sepphoris, and later on 
at Sepphoris itself. Judah chose this latter town 
for his residence, on account of its elevated and 
healthy situation, in the hopes of recovering from a 
complaint from which he had suffered for several 
years. In Sepphoris there seems to have existed a 
complete council of seventy members, which was 
entrusted with the decision of religious questions 
according to the adopted routine. Judah's reputa- 
tion was so great, however, that the college itself 
transferred to him the sovereign power which up 
till then had belonged to the whole body or to indi- 
vidual members. It was rightly observed of Judah 
that since the time of Moses, knowledge of the 


Law and possession of authority had not been 
united in any one person as in him. A most im- 
portant function which was conferred upon this 
Patriarch, or rather which he got conferred on him, 
was that of appointing the disciples as judges and 
teachers of the Law. He was allowed to exercise 
this power without consulting the College, but on 
the other hand the nominations of the high Council 
were invalid without the Patriarch's confirmation. 
The nomination of spiritual guides of the communi- 
ties, the appointments to the judicial offices, the 
filling up of vacancies in the Synhedrion, in a word, 
all Judaea and the communities abroad, fell in this 
manner into dependence on the Patriarch. That 
which his father and grandfather had striven in vain 
to accomplish, came about, so to speak, at his touch. 
In his time there was no longer a deputy (Ab-Beth- 
Din), nor a public speaker (Chacham). Judah, the 
Prince (ha-Nassi), alone was all in all. Even the 
Synhedrion itself had resigned its authority, and 
continued to exist henceforward only in name ; the 
Patriarch decided everything. By reason of his great 
importance he was called simply Rabbi, as if, when 
compared with him, no teacher of the Law were of 
any consequence, and he himself were the personifi- 
cation of the Law. 

He soon further increased his powers by deciding 
that even the most capable were not competent to 
pronounce on any religious question without having 
first been expressly authorized by him. How great 
was the importance of this act may be seen from the 
circumstance that the foreign communities, as well 
as those of Judaea, were obliged to put themselves 
in direct communication with the Patriarch in order 
to obtain their officials, judges, and teachers. The 
community of Simonias, which lay to the south of 
Sepphoris, begged the Patriarch to send them a 
man who should give public lectures, decide ques- 
tions of law, superintend the Synagogue, prepare 


copies of authentic writings, teach their sons, and 
generally supply all the wants of the community. 
He recommended to them for this purpose his best 
pupil, Levi bar Sissi. It may be seen from this ex- 
ample how great were the requirements demanded 
of the instructors of the people. Another disciple 
of Judah, Rabba bar Ghana by name, a native of 
Cafri in Babylon, was obliged to obtain the autho- 
rization of the Patriarch before being able to decide 
any questions of religion and law in his native land. 
In the same manner a third of his disciples, Abba 
Areka, also a native of Babylon, who later on be- 
came a great authority with the Babylonian com- 
munities, obtained this influence solely by Judah's 
nomination. One dignity alone, that of the Prince 
of the Captivity in Babylon, was on an equal foot- 
ing with the Patriarchate, and Judah was all the 
more jealous thereof on account of its being con- 
ferred and upheld by the Parthian authorities, while 
his office was at most merely tolerated by the 
Roman rulers. 

Invested with this autocratic power, Judah mani- 
fested unusual severity towards his disciples, and 
displayed so great an irritability with them that 
he never pardoned the least offense offered, even 
in jest, to his dignity. The course of conduct 
which he enjoined upon his son from his death-bed, 
namely, to treat his scholars with strict severity, 
was the one which he himself had pursued all 
through the Patriarchate. Amonor the numerous 

fj fj 

Babylonians who crowded to the Academy at 
Sepphoris was a distinguished disciple, by name 
Chiya (an abbreviation of Achiya), whom his con- 
temporaries could hardly praise enough for his 
natural gifts, his pious conduct, and his untiring 
endeavors to spread the teachings of religion 
among the people. Judah himself valued him very 
highly, and said of him : " From a land far off there 
came to me the man of good counsel." But even 


him the Patriarch could not pardon an insignificant 
jest. Judah had once said to him, " If Huna, the 
Prince of the Captivity, were to come to Judaea, I 
should certainly not carry my self-denial so far as 
to abdicate my office to him, but I would honor him 
as a descendant in the male line from David." 
When Huna died and his body was taken to Judaea, 
Chiya observed to the Patriarch, " Huna is com- 
ing." Judah grew pale at the news, and when he 
found that Chiya was referring to the corpse of 
Huna, he punished the joke by excluding Chiya 
from his presence for thirty days. Judah showed 
himself equally sensitive in his conduct towards 
Simon Bar-Kappara, one of his disciples, who, with 
his knowledge of the Law, combined at the same 
time poetical talent and a vein of delicate satire ; 
as far as is known, he was the only Hebrew poet 
of that period. The little that remains of the pro- 
ductions of Bar-Kappara's muse indicates ready 
manipulation of the Hebrew tongue in a regenerated 
form, and in all its pristine purity and vigor ; he 
composed fables, of which, however, no trace now 
remains. On the occasion of a merry meeting, the 
witty Bar-Kappara indulged in a jest at the expense 
of a certain Bar-Eleaza, the rich but proud and igno- 
rant son-in-law of the Patriarch. All the guests had 
put questions to Judah, except the simple-minded 
Bar-Eleaza. Bar-Kappara incited him to ask one as 
well, and in a whisper suggested one to him. in the 
form of a riddle. This riddle, to which no answer 
has been found to the present day, contained in all 
likelihood allusions to certain persons closely con- 
nected with Judah. It ran somewhat as follows : 

She looks from heaven on high, 
And ceaseless is her cry, 

Whom winged beings shun ; 
Youth doth she fright away. 
And men with old age gray, 

And loud shriek they who run. 
But whom her net hath lured 
Can ne'er of the sin be cured, 


In all simplicity, Bar-Eleaza propounded this 
riddle. Judah must have seen, however, by the 
satirical smile on Bar-Kappara's lips that it was 
intended to banter him, and he therefore exclaimed 
angrily to Bar-Kappara : " I refuse to recognize 
you as an appointed teacher." It was not till later 
on, when Bar-Kappara failed to obtain his appoint- 
ment as an independent teacher of the Law, that 
he realized to the full the meanino- of these words. 


One of the most celebrated of the Babylonian 
disciples, Samuel by name, by whose medical treat- 
ment Judah had been cured of his long illness, 
was unable to obtain the nomination necessary in 
order to become a teacher of the Law. Judah was 
once desirous of excusing himself for this slight 
to Samuel, to whom he owed the restoration of 
his health, whereupon the latter answered him pleas- 
antly, that it was so decreed in the book of Adam, 
" that Samuel would be a wise man, but not 
appointed Rabbi, and that thy illness should be 
cured by me." Chanina bar Chama, another dis- 
ciple, who, later on, was also regarded as an 
authority, once remarked that a word which occurred 
in the Prophets ought to be pronounced otherwise 
than Judah read it. Offended thereat, Judah asked 
him where he had heard this ; to which Chanina 
answered, "At the house of Hamnuna, in Babylon." 
" Well, then," retorted Judah, " when you go again 
to Hamnuna, tell him that I recognize you as a 
sage"; which was equivalent to telling Chanina 
that Judah would never authorize him to be a 
teacher. This irritability of the Patriarch, who was 
in all other respects a noble character, was his one 
weak point. It is possible, indeed, that this suscep- 
tibility was the result of his ill-health. However 
that may be, it did not fail to arouse a certain dis- 
satisfaction and discontent, which never found public 
expression on account of the deep reverence in 
which the Patriarch was held. 


Once at a banquet, when the wine had loosened 
men's tongues and made the guests oblivious of 
respect, the twin sons of Chiya gave utterance to 
this feeling of discontent. These highly talented 
youths, by name Judah and Chiskiya, whom the 
Patriarch himself had incited to gaiety and loquacity, 
expressed it as their opinion " that the Messiah 
could not appear until the fall of the two princely 
houses of Israel the house of the Patriarch in 
Judaea, and that of the Prince of the Captivity in 
Babylon." The wine had caused them to betray 
their most secret thoughts. 

In consideration of the altered circumstances of 
his time, Judah, by virtue of his independence and 
authority, abolished several rites and customs which 
seemed to the people to be hallowed by age, and 
carried through his design with perseverance, 
regardless of all consequences. Contrary to the 
principles of his teacher and predecessor, who had 
treated the Samaritans as heathens, Judah decreed 
that the evidence of a Samaritan in matters con- 
cerning marriage was admissible and of equal 
weight with the testimony of an Israelite. The 
views of these teachers of the Law of Moses, who 
agreed on the chief principles of their religion, 
varied in other matters according to the predomi- 
nance of friendly or inimical feelings towards the 
heathens. For some time past difficulties had been 
constantly occurring between the Jews and the 
Samaritans. Eleazar, the son of Simon ben Jochai, 
and a contemporary of Judah, who had made himself 
acquainted with the Samaritan Torah, reproached 
them with having altered certain passages of the 
holy text. The peaceable relations between Jew 
and Cuthsean since the war of Hadrian were gradu- 
ally changed to a state of ill-feeling, which was as 
bitter on the one side as on the other. One day 
when Ishmael b. Jose was passing through Neapolis 
(Shechem) in order to go and pray at Jerusalem 


(for which purpose the Jews seem to have required 
the permission of Marcus Aurelius), the Samaritans 
jeered at the tenacity of the Jews, saying that it 
was certainly better to pray upon their holy mount 
(Gerizim) than upon the heap of ruins at Jerusalem. 
Traveling through the land of Samaria must have now 
become less dangerous than it had formerly been. The 
teachers of the Law had frequently to pass through 
the strip of land lying between Judaea and Sepphoris. 
Although the seat of the Synhedrion was now in 
Galilee, and Sepphoris was thus to a certain extent 
the center of the entire Jewish community, never- 
theless Judaea was, for various reasons, regarded as 
holier than the northern district. The patriarch 
could not officiate in person when the appearance 
of the new moon was announced, but had to send 
a representative for the purpose (which office Chiya 
once filled) ; the place where the announcement was 
made was at this time Ain-tab, probably in the 
province of Judaea. This trifling superiority was 
still left to that district, the scene of so many holy 
ceremonies and ancient memories. The journey to 
Ain-tab was made through Samaria. 


On another point, also, Judah deviated from the 
ancient customs and the Halachic laws : he rendered 
less oppressive the laws relating to the year of 
release and to the tithes. In spite of the fall of the 
Jewish state, and of the numerous catastrophes 
which had befallen the Jews, these laws still con- 
tinued in unimpaired force, and were doubly oppres- 
sive to a people impoverished by the disturbances 
of war, by taxes, and by the extortion of money. 
The Patriarch therefore turned his attention to this 
matter, and determined, if not entirely to abrogate, 
at least to moderate the harshness of these laws. 
Furthermore he decreed that the territory of certain 
border cities, which had up till then been considered 
as forming a part of Judaea, should henceforth not 
enjoy the privilege of sanctity which attached to 


Jewish ground. This in so far constituted a relief, 
as these cities were thereby exempted from the 
payment of tithes, and doubtless also from the laws 
relating to the year of release. For the most part 
these border cities were inhabited by Greeks and 
Romans, and had not always been subject to Jewish 
rule. These alleviations of the burdens of the 
people drew down reproaches on the Patriarch 
from certain of his relatives, to whom he replied 
that his predecessors had left this duty to him. 
He had even the intention of entirely abolishing 
the laws relative to the year of release, but was 
unwilling to take so important a step without first 
consulting such persons as were likely to entertain 
scruples on this point. At that time Pinchas ben 
Jair was regarded as the model of austere piety. 
He was a son-in-law of Simon ben Jochai, and 
possessed so gloomy a disposition as to cause him 
to entertain doubts as to the efficacy of any human 
institutions. He used to remark that, "since the 
destruction of the Temple the members and the free- 
men are put to shame, those who conform to the 
Law are confused, violence and sycophancy carry 
the day, and no one cares for those who are 
deserted ; we have no hope but in God." In 
particular, Pinchas adhered strictly to the prescrip- 
tions of the law relating to the tithes, and for this 
reason never accepted any invitation to a meal. 
It was with this same Pinchas that Judah took 
counsel relative to the abolition of the year of 
release. It is probable that a year of scarcity 
necessitated the adoption of some such measure. 
To the Patriarch's question, " How goes it with the 
corn?" Pinchas answered reprovingly, "There will 
be a very good crop of endives," meaning that if 
necessary it was better to live on herbs rather than 
abrogate the Law. In consequence of Pinchas' dislike 
of this scheme Judah abandoned his project entirely. 
But the Zealot, having noticed some mules in the 


court of the Patriarch's house, to keep which was 
not in exact accordance with the Law, refused to 
accept Judah's invitation, and left him on the spot, 
vowingf never to come near him ag-ain. 

c> o 

But the most important of Judah's acts, a work 
on which reposes his claim to an enduring name, 
and whereby he created a concluding epoch, was 
the completion of the Mishna (about 189). Since 
the completion, two generations before, of the oldest 
compilation under the name of Adoyot, the subject- 
matter of the Law had accumulated to an enormous 
extent. New cases, some drawn from older ones, 
others deduced from the Scripture, had helped to 
swell the mass. The various schools and systems 
had left many points of law in doubt, which now 
awaited decision. Judah therefore based his com- 
pilation on Akiba's partially arranged collec- 
tion of laws as taught and corrected by Mei'r, re- 
taining the same order. He examined the areu- 

<^> o 

ments for and against every opinion, and established 
the Halachic precepts according to certain ordi- 
nances and principles. He endeavored to observe 
a certain systematic order in dealing with the various 
traditional laws relating to the prayers, to benedic- 
tions, taxes on agricultural produce, the Sabbath, festi- 
vals and fasts, marriage customs, vows and Nazarites, 
civil and criminal jurisdiction, the system of sacrifices, 
levitical purity, and many other points. His efforts 
were not, however, crowned with complete success, 
partly on account of the various parts of his subject 
being by their nature incapable of connection, and 
partly by reason of his desire to retain the order 
and divisions already employed. The style of 
Judah's Mishna is concise, well rounded, and intelli- 
gent, and is thereby well adapted to impress itself 
firmly on the memory. He in no way intended his 
Mishna, however, to be regarded as the sole standard, 
having in fact only composed it, like his predeces- 
sors and contemporaries, for his own use, in order 


to possess a text-book for his lectures. But by 
reason of his great authority with his disciples and 
contemporaries his compilation gradually obtained 
exclusive authority, and finally superseded all pre- 
vious collections, which for that reason have fallen 
into oblivion. It retained the ancient name of 
Mishna, but at first with the addition of the words 
" di Rabbi Judah." Gradually, however, these words 
were dropped, and it began to be considered as the 
sole legitimate, recognized and authorized Mishna. 
His disciples disseminated it through distant lands, 
using it as a text-book for their lectures, and as a re- 
ligious and judicial code. This Mishna, however, like 
the older compilations, was not committed to writing, 
it being at that time regarded as a religious offense 
to put on paper the precepts of tradition ; it was thus 
handed down for many centuries by word of mouth. 
The Agadas only were now and then collected and 
written down, and even this was severely censured 
by various teachers of the Law. It is true that 
scarce or remarkable Halachas were sometimes 
written upon scrolls by certain teachers, but this was 
done so secretly, that they acquired from this cir- 
cumstance the name of "Secret Scrolls." 

In his old age Judah undertook another revision 
of his compilation, and made certain alterations 
which brought his Mishna into harmony with his 
new views. Various additions were also made after 
h!s death by his son. The language in which the 
Mishna is written is Hebrew in a rejuvenated 
form, interspersed with many Aramaic, Greek, and 
Latin words in general use. Judah evinced a pre- 
dilection for the Hebrew tongue, despising Syriac, 
which was then indisrenous to Galilee, on account of 


its characteristic inexactness. Syriac, he asserted, 
was superfluous in Judaea, and that either Hebrew or 
Greek should be spoken by every one. As a matter 
of fact, the Hebrew language was in nowise foreign 
to the population of Judaea, especially to such of 


them as lived in the towns. Even Judah's female do- 
mestic slave and tyrant was so well acquainted with 
Hebrew that many a foreign scholar applied to her 
for information respecting certain words of which 
he was ignorant. The Hebrew language was so 
easily and fluently spoken that many legal terms 
and delicate distinctions, which were the outcome 
of the spirit of the times, found their way into Jewish 
circles, and were there provided with proper Hebrew 

Thus tradition was at last codified and sanctioned. 
Durinsf the four centuries since the time of the Mac- 


cabees, when the doctrine of the father, as handed 
down to the son, had first begun to acquire an in- 
fluence on the development of history, tradition had 
remained, so to speak, in suspense. Accepted by 
the Pharisees, rejected by the Sadducees, confined 
by Shammai's school within narrow boundaries, ex- 
tended in its application by the school of Hillel, and 
greatly enriched by the followers of the latter, it was 
through Judah that tradition first acquired a settled 
form, and was able to exercise, by means of its con- 
tents and its mode of exposition, a spiritual influence 
during a number of centuries. Concurrently with 
the Bible, the Mishna was the principal source of 
intellectual activity and research ; it sometimes even 
succeeded in entirely supplanting the Scripture, and 
in asserting its claim to sole authority. It was the 
intellectual bond which held together the scattered 
members of the Jewish nation. The Mishna the 
child of the Patriarchate by which it had been 
brought into the world and endowed with authority, 
slew, so to speak, its own parent, for the latter 
dignity lost by degrees its importance and influence. 
The appearance of the Mishna brought the line 
of Tanaites to a conclusion, and put an end to inde- 
pendent teaching. " Nathan and Judah are the last 
of the Tanaites," says a Sibylline chronicle, the 
apocryphal book of Adam. The Mishna neces- 


sitated henceforth the employment of a new method 
of study, which possessed but little similarity with 
the Tanaite mode of teaching. 

The period of the compilation of the Mishna was 
by no means a happy one for the Jews. Marcus 
Aurelius, the best and most moral of the Roman 
emperors, bore them no good will ; he seems even 
to have cherished a special aversion to them. When 
he came to Judaea, in the summer of 175, after the 
death of the rebel Avidius Cassius, he found the 
Jews clamorous ; they had not come respectfully to 
pay him homage, but to ask exemption from the 
heavy taxes imposed on them ; and he, greatly 
vexed at this want of reverence, is reported to have 
exclaimed, " At last I have discovered a people who 
are more restless than the Marcomani, the Ouadi, 
or the Sarmati ! ' In Judah's time, the communities 
in Judaea were subjected to a tax, called the " crown 
money" (aurum coronarium), which was so oppres- 
sive that the inhabitants of Tiberias took to flight in 
order to escape its burden. There is not in exist- 
ence a sinofle law of Marcus Aurelius in favor of the 



But few Jews can have taken part in the short- 
lived rebellion of Avidius Cassius (175). With the 
sensual and bloodthirsty blockhead, Commodus 
(180-192), the son of the Emperor philosopher, ends 
the series of good or tolerable emperors, and there 
opens a succession of tyrants who cut one another's 
throats. In his reign Judaea was doubtless exposed 
to all sorts of extortions and oppression. The 
barbarous, savage and dissolute Pescennius Niger, 
who after the murder of the two preceding rulers 
set up as emperor in company with Severus and 
a third candidate (193,) and took up his residence 
in Antioch, displayed especial harshness to the 
Jews. Once when they prayed him to lighten their 
burden of taxes, which had now become intolerable, 
he answered them in the following words : " You 


ask me to relieve your lands of their taxes ; would 
that I were able to tax the very air that you breathe! " 
In the war that ensued between him and Severus, 
the latter was victorious, and his opponent's ad- 
herents paid heavily for their mistake. During his 
short stay in Palestine (200), after he had wasted, 
but not subdued, the country of the Parthians, Adia- 
bene, and Mesopotamia, Severus promulgated sev- 
eral laws, which were certainly not favorable to 
Palestine. Amongst these laws was one forbidding 
heathens, under penalty of severe punishment, to 
embrace Judaism, or even Christianity. He per- 
mitted those, however, who were " imbued with the 
Jewish superstitions " to hold unpaid municipal 
offices and to be invested with the dignities of the 


magistracy ; but they were obliged to submit to the 
claims made on them by reason of their occupation 
of these posts, such as providing costly plays and 
supporting various other heavy expenses, as long 
as no violation of their religion was thereby 

The numerous bands of marauders which had 
collected together during the war between Severus 
and Niger do not seem to have been entirely sup- 
pressed in Judaea, but continued to exist in this 
land after the departure of Severus. The Romans, 
who regarded these marauders as highwaymen, 
dispatched troops to hunt them out of their hiding- 
places in the mountains, but were unable to dis- 
perse them entirely. Two famous teachers of the 
Law of this period, Eleazar, the son of Simon ben 
Jochai (who in his time had been hostile to the 
Romans), and Ishmael, the son of Jose the Prudent, 
were induced to aid the Romans, to keep a watch 
over the Jewish freebooters, and to deliver them 
into the hands of the Roman authorities, who put 
them to death. Public opinion, however, was loud 
in its blame of these men for thus allowing them- 
selves to become the tools of the Roman tyrants 


against their own countrymen. Joshua b. Karcha 
(according to certain authorities the son of Akiba) 
reproached Eleazar most bitterly for his behavior. 
" Oh, thou vinegar ! ' he exclaimed, " the produce 
of wine (unworthy son of a worthy father), how 
much longer dost thou intend to deliver up God's 
people to the executioner ? " When Eleazar at- 
tempted to excuse himself by saying that he only 
desired "to clear the vineyard of thorns," Joshua 
retorted : " Let the lord of the vineyard root out 
the thorns himself." Later on Eleazar repented of 
his share in the pursuit of the Jewish freebooters, 
and is said to have done penance in the most pain- 
ful manner. Although he was an Halachic authority, 
to whom at times the Patriarch submitted, the feeling 
which he had excited by affording assistance to the 
Romans was so bitter that he was afraid that after 
his death the last honors would be denied his corpse 
by the teachers of the Law. He therefore enjoined 
upon his wife not to bury him immediately, but to 
allow his body to remain in a room for several days. 
When after his death Judah the Patriarch sought his 
widow in marriage, she rejected his suit, annoyed 
probably at the slight inflicted on her husband, and 
answered him : " A vessel intended for holy pur- 
poses must not be put to profane uses." 

Ishmael ben Jose was also visited with the disap- 
probation of the people on account of his prosecu- 
tion of the Jewish marauders. His excuse that he 
had received an order from the Roman authorities, 
of which he was unable to relieve himself, was met 
by the retort : " Did not thy father flee ? Thou also 
then wast able to escape." 

Judah, the Patriarch, was a witness of all these 
sad scenes after having held his office for more than 
thirty years. With great equanimity he prepared 
to die, awaiting his dissolution with tranquillity. He 
summoned his sons and learned comrades before 
him, and informed them of his last wishes. He 


conferred the dignity of Patriarch on Gamaliel, his 
elder son, and appointed Simon the younger to 
the. office of Chacham (speaker). To both of them 
he recommended his widow, who was doubtless 
their stepmother, and commanded them to pay her 
all respect after his death, and to make no alter- 
ations in his domestic establishment. He strongly 
impressed on the future Patriarch the policy of 
treating his disciples with severity, but recommended 
a departure from his principle of only allowing two 
disciples to be ordained, and suggested that all who 
were capable and deserving should be admitted to 
ordination. He particularly enjoined on Gamaliel 
the obligation of conferring the dignity of teacher, 
first and foremost on Chanina bar Chama, to whom 
he believed himself indebted. His two servants, 
Jose, of Phaeno, and Simon the Parthian, who 
served him with great affection during his lifetime, 
were commanded to take charge of his corpse after 
his death. He besought the Synhedrion to bury 
him without any great pomp, to allow no mourning 
ceremonies to be performed for him in the towns, 
and to re-open the Assembly of Teachers after the 
short interval of thirty days. Many of the inhabitants 
of the neighboring towns had gathered in Sepphoris 
at the news of the Patriarch's approaching death, 
in order to show him their sympathy. As if it were 
impossible that he could die, the populace threatened 
to put to death whosoever should announce the sad 
news to them. The suspense and agitation were, 
in fact, so great that some violent explosion of the 
grief of the crowd was apprehended. The intelli- 
gence of the Patriarch's death was, however, indi- 
rectly communicated to the people by Bar-Kappara. 
With his head veiled and his garments torn, he 
spoke the following \vords : "Angels and mortals 
contended for the ark of the covenant ; the angels 
have conquered, and the ark has vanished." Here- 
upon the people uttered a cry of pain and exclaimed 


" He is dead," to which Bar-Kappara made answer, 
" Ye have said it." Their lamentations are said to 
have been heard at Gabbata, three miles from 
Sepphoris. A numerous funeral train accompanied 
Judah's corpse from Sepphoris to Beth-Shearim, 
and memorial sermons were preached for him in 
eighteen different synagogues. Even the descen- 
dants of Aaron paid the last honors to his corpse, 
although this was in direct opposition to the Law. 
" For this day," it was said, "the consecrated char- 
acter of the priests is suspended." Synhedrion 
and priests readily subordinated themselves to him 
who represented the Law in his own person. After 
his death he was called "the Holy" (ha-Kadosh), 
though later generations seem to have been unable 
to offer any explanation of the title. 

History has little more to relate of Judah's suc- 
cessor, Gamaliel III (about 210 to 225) than that 
he faithfully executed his father's commands. Such 
of his sayings as have been preserved are well 
worthy of consideration, as throwing a strong light 
on the state of the times. " It is good to be occupied 
in the study of religion, if some secular business is 
carried on at the same time ; the labor devoted to 
both prevents sin from gaining ground. The study 
of the Law, when prosecuted without some other 
occupation, must ultimately be lost and is productive 
of sin. He who attends to the affairs of the com- 
munity should do so for the sake of his duty to 
God, and without any selfish motives of his own ; 
then will the merit of his forefathers second his 
efforts, and his righteousness will endure to all 
eternity. To you, however," he said to his disciples, 
" I promise as great a reward as if your efforts had 
been directed to practical ends. Act cautiously in 
all your relations with the (Roman) powers that be, 
for they only flatter you to further their own pur- 
poses ; they are your friends when they can derive 
any benefit from your friendship, but they never 


stand by you in trouble. Do God's will in such a 
manner that you prefer His will to yours ; then 
will he make your will His own." The admonition 
thus given to his disciples, to exercise caution in 
their dealings with the Roman authorities, and not 
to allow themselves to be seduced by their promises, 
evidently contained an underlying political meaning. 
For after the death of the harsh Severus, the 
Roman empire acquired, and outwardly retained, 
for nearly a quarter of a century, through the 
influence of three emperors and their Syrian 
mothers, a certain Syrian appearance which was 
nearly allied with that of Judaea ; servile Rome 
adopted Syrian habits, and filled her Pantheon with 
Eastern gods. By this means the gulf existing 
between Roman and Jew was to a certain extent 
narrowed. Julia Domna (Martha), the wife of 
Severus, was a native of Emesa in Syria, and her 
son Caracalla, who was officially called Antoninus 
(211-217), was in nowise ashamed of his Syrian 
descent. It was he who extended the full right of 
citizenship to every inhabitant of the Roman Empire, 
and although this law was merely intended to 
allow the imposition of heavier taxes on the popula- 
tion of the provinces, it had the good effect of 
abolishing the marked distinction between Roman 
and non-Roman. Although Caracalla and his 
pretended son Elegabalus so disgraced the purple 
and humanity itself by their vices, that Roman 
history of this period has nothing to relate but 
assassinations and unnatural excesses such as allow 
of no other explanation than the derangement of the 
minds of these two emperors, there was still a 
certain method in their madness. They contem- 
plated the gradual effacement of Roman gods and 
Roman customs by the introduction of Syrian 
fashions. It does not appear that Caracalla pos- 
sessed special tenderness for the Jews. This 
much is certain, however, that the condition of the 


Jews under this emperor was at least tolerable, and 
that, although they enjoyed no especial favors, they 
at any rate had not to complain of excessive op- 
pression. This intermediate and tolerable position 
of the Jews, equally removed from happiness and 
persecution, is described by Jannai, one of Judah's 
disciples, in the following words : " We neither 
enjoy the happiness of the wicked, nor endure the 
misfortunes of the just." 

A certain religious law which this same Jannai 
was at this time induced to repeal, proves that the 
condition of the Jews of Palestine was not too 
enviable during the period in question. They were 
obliged to pay their taxes, even during the year of 
Release, in natural produce, destined for the use of 
the standing army. Up till then they had been 
exempted, by virtue of a special favor originally 
accorded them by Julius Caesar, from delivering 
these supplies in every seventh year, by reason of 
the fact that no harvest was gathered in this year, 
it being the one during which the land was com- 
manded by the Law to be left fallow. In con- 
sequence of this dictatorial measure, and probably 
during Caracalla's campaign in Parthia (in 216, 
which just happened to be a year of Release), 
Jannai, who was the authority of that period, issued 
a proclamation, in which he declared that hence- 
forward it would be permissible to cultivate the land 
during the year of Release. He laid especial stress 
on the circumstance that it was only permissible to 
transgress the Law relative to the year of Release 
on account of the payment of the tax being required 
of them, and that its abrogation was in nowise 

The youthful emperor Elegabalus, formerly priest 
of the Sun-god in Emesa, whom Msesa, his crafty 
grandmother, had put forward as Caracalla's son, 
was entirely devoid of any predilection for the Jews, 
although appearances seem to lend color to the 


opposite view. This living epitome of all vices, who 
disgraced the Roman world for four years (218222), 
and who seems to have possessed no other vocation 
in history than publicly to degrade his heathen gods 
and Roman Caesarism, and to convince every one of 
their worthlessness, seems, in fact, to have done 
and attempted many things in his methodical mad- 
ness that bear a Jewish complexion. He offered 
himself for circumcision, and refused to partake of 
pork, only in obedience, however, to the commands 
of his Sun-god. He proposed to introduce the 
Jewish, Samaritan, and Christian worshipers publicly 
into Rome, but to subordinate them to his Sun-god, 

During the reigns of these two emperors, Cara- 
calla and Elegabalus, the younger contemporaries 
of Judah had ample time to continue his work. 
The Mishnaic compilation had not, in fact, included 
many laws, partly because they were not possessed 
of absolute legal force, and partly because they were 
as special cases included in the general formulae. 
These neglected Halachas were collected by Judah's 
successors, as a supplement to the Mishna. Among 
these collectors may be named Jannai, whose aca- 
demy was at Acbara ; Chiya, and his twin-sons, 
Judah and Chiskiya, Bar-Kappara, Levi bar Sissi, 
Ushaya the elder, surnamed " the father of the 
Mishna"; and finally Abba-Areka (Rab) ; all of 
them half-Tanaites. Judah's compilation had, how- 
ever, obtained so undisputed an authority that its 
votaries considered every word of it to be sacred, 
and contended that not a line ought to be added to 
it. The new compilation therefore possessed but 
a secondary value in comparison with the principal 
Mishna, and their mutual relations \vere of such a 
character that the former were referred to as " the 
apocryphal Mishnas" (Matnita boraita, or simply 
Boraita), in the same way as the books not included 
in the canonical Bible are called " the Apocrypha " 


(apocryphal books). The compilations of Chiya 
and Ushaya alone acquired an authority nearly 
equal to that of the principal Mishna, on account of 
their contents. 

The distinctive feature of the Mishna, which was 
accepted as the recognized code, is the severely 
legal and even judicial character which it impressed 
on Judaism for all time. Everything comprised in 
Judaism the commandments and prohibitions, the 
precepts contained in the Pentateuch and those de- 
duced from it all are considered by the Mishna as 
edicts and decrees of God, which may neither be 
criticized nor questioned ; they must be carried out 
in strict accordance with the letter. It is impossible 
not to perceive that the conflicts which had con- 
vulsed Judaism, the violent attacks of Hellenism 
under Antiochus Epiphanes, the bitter opposition of 
the Sadducees, the allegorical misinterpretation and 
the subtleties of the Alexandrian philosophers, and, 
finally, the attitude of hostility to the Law assumed 
by Pauline Christianity and the Gnostics, had all 
assisted to bring out and accentuate the strictly 
legal character of the Jewish faith. In direct op- 
position to the tendency of the Alexandrian and 
Gnostic schools to give especial prominence to the 
view that God's love was the characteristic feature 
of Judaism, the Mishna, the first positive code of 
Judaism, cautions its readers against this opinion, 
and orders silence to be imposed on one who de- 
sired to express this view in prayer : " Thy love 
extendeth even to the nest of the bird." For this 
reason everything in the Mishna is legally ordered, 
little being left to personal decision ; there it is 
settled how much a pauper may demand of public 
charity, and even how many children a father ought 
to bring into the world in order to fulfil his duty of 
helping to populate the earth, " which God did not 
create to be desolate." In general the Mishna as- 
sumes that the whole of the Torah, including such 


of the precepts of the Law as do not appear imme- 
diately in the Pentateuch, is composed of ancient 
traditions, received by Moses on Sinai, communicated 
by him to Joshua, who handed them down to the 
Elders, who in their turn transmitted them to the 
Prophets, who finally handed them down to the 
members of the great assembly. All such laws as 
do not appear in the Pentateuch are designated in 
the Mishna by the term, " the saying of those learned 
in the Scripture " (Dibre Soferim), although its 
component parts are not rigorously divided into 
these two categories. It is true that in the Mishna 
the remembrance of the dissatisfaction of many 
Tanaites is still apparent, especially in the com- 
plaint that the numerous decisions which Joshua 
arrived at by means of interpretation, " resemble 
mountains hanging by a hair," that is to say, are 
far-fetched ; but, nevertheless, the Mishna holds up 
as an inviolable standard all the Halachic laws which 
had been in force up to this time. 

There repeatedly occurs in the Mishna the asser- 
tion of the equivalence of all religious commands 
and duties. The maxims of Rabbi, its compiler, 
might fitly be placed on the first page as an in- 
scription : 

"Which road should man choose ? One which is creditable to the 
traveler, and honorable in the eyes of mankind. Be as exact in 
thine observance of the minor precepts as of the most important, for 
thou knowest not what reward is attached to each command. Balance 
the (temporal) loss sustained in consequence of the performance of 
a duty with its (spiritual) reward, and the gain of a transgression 
with its disadvantages. Bear always three things in mind, so that 
thou commit no offense : There is an Eye that sees all, an Ear that 
hears all, and a Hand that inscribes all thy deeds in a book." 

The Mishna is pervaded with these views from 
beoinnino- to end. The reward of a conscientious 

& <_> 

observance of the precepts of the Law will be the 
participation in a future world, which awaits every 
Israelite unless he refuse to believe in a resurrec- 
tion, or in the revelation of the Torah by God, or 


unless he live (or think) as an Epicurean. But 
pious conduct is also rewarded in this world. He 
who conscientiously fulfils one religious duty will 
be favored by Heaven, his life will be lengthened, and 
he will be allowed to enjoy a share of the Holy 
Land. At the same time the attempt is made to estab- 
lish a reconciliation between the worldly promises 
held out by the Bible and the reward of the world 
to come, a dogma which first assumed a distinct 
form in the period following the Captivity. The 
discharge of certain duties secures the enjoyment 
of reward on earth and in the world to come ; such 
are the veneration of parents, charity, timely attend- 
ance at the school, hospitality, the endowment of 
(indigent) brides, the accompanying of corpses to 
the grave, devout prayer, peace-making, and es- 
pecially the pursuit of religious studies (Talmud 
Torah). As to future punishment, the Mishna 
is unacquainted therewith, as also with a hell. For 
crimes and transgressions, mention is made of judi- 
cial punishment during this life only, varying of 
course with the seriousness of the offense ; thus 
there were scourging, and execution by the Synhe- 
drion in four degrees (by sword, by the rope, by fire, 
and by stoning), and finally a premature death at the 
hand of God (Kharat). The most heinous and 
atrocious sins were expiated by death, and lesser 
ones by repentance and the Day of Atonement, 
while pardon was obtained for sins of negligence by 
sacrifice. Of course, crimes committed against per- 
sons were not expiated until their victims were in- 
demnified, satisfied, and appeased. Every righteous 
and moral deed, as well as every misdeed, possessed 
its religious importance ; but the religious point of 
view was not predominant ov^r, but subordinate to, 
the secular. 

The Mishna regarded as the greatest virtue the 
study of the doctrines of Judaism and the knowledge 
of the Law or of the Halachas (Talmud Torah). 


Occupation in these subjects possessed peculiar 
merit or justification (Zechut Torah); it protected 
and advanced a person here and hereafter. " He 
who is acquainted with the Bible and tradition, and 
is careful of his behavior, will not easily fall into sin." 
The learning, appropriation, retention, and theoreti- 
cal comprehension and advancement of the existing 
principles of religion that is to say, the conserva- 
tion and furtherance of Judaism in the path of ortho- 
doxy gave the direction to the ideas and tendencies 
of that period. For this reason, he who is learned 
in the Law holds a very high rank, and although he 
be a bastard, takes precedence of a high priest who 
is ignorant of it. A disciple must honor his teacher 
even more than his father, or in case of conflict in 
his duty to one or the other, must first fulfil his duty 
to the former ; for a wise teacher brings man to life 
in the world to come. It is incumbent on a father 
to teach his son the Torah, or to provide for his in- 
struction in it. The Mishna does not decide the 
question as to whether a father ought to instruct 
his daughters in the Torah, but advances two opposite 
views on this subject : one advocated by Ben-Azai, 
who is in favor of the practice, or at least considers 
it permissible ; the other, defended by the austere 
Eleazar ben Hyrcanus, who condemns it ; " to initi- 
ate one's daughters in the Torah is as good as to 
initiate them "in prostitution." This latter theory, 
which finally prevailed, exercised a most pernicious 
influence in after-times ; for while every community 
was careful to provide elementary and advanced 
schools for its boys, the girls were systematically 
kept in complete ignorance. 

But although great weight was laid by the Mishnaic 
code on the exact observance of the letter of the 
Law, a something higher than this observance of 
the Law was recognized as piety ; namely, the pos- 
session of a certain elevation of mind, of which 
the boundaries were far more widely extended 


than those of the Law. A conscientious man should 
keep his word in questions relating to property, al- 
though he be not bound thereto by the terms of the 
written law. He who pays his debt in the year of 
release, although not under a legal obligation to do 
so ; he who pays to the heirs of a proselyte the 
debt due to the latter, without being legally com- 
pelled to satisfy their claim ; and generally he who 
abides by his word these are the men in whom the 
sages delight. It -is true that there are certain pre- 
scribed forms of prayer, but it is lawful, nevertheless, 
to pray in any language ; the principal thing is to 
pray with devotion and earnestness. Men ought to 
thank Heaven for bad fortune as well as for good. 
The Mishna displays altogether a tendency to em- 
phasize the spiritual value of religion. The sound- 
ing of the cornet on the New Year, the Festivals, 
and the Atonement Day of the year of Jubilee, as 
prescribed by the Law, ought not to remain an 
outward, material deed, but ought rather to create a 
certain frame of mind which raises the soul to God. 
As illustrations of this view the following instances 
are cited : it was not the fact of Moses lifting up his 
hands which gave the Israelites the victory over 
Amalek, nor the erection of a brazen serpent in the 
wilderness which cured them of the bites of the 
scorpions, but the turning of their hearts to God. 
But this tendency of the Mishna remains only a 
tendency, and received no wide development ; more 
confidence is placed in an obligatory law than in a 
conscience which creates its own standard. 

Besides the juridical feature, and perhaps as a 
consequence of it, the Mishna possesses another 
peculiarity which is more formal than essential ; it 
is characterized by a desire to devise and group to- 
gether all possible sorts of cases, however remote 
they may be, in order to apply the most dissimilar 
laws to their decision (a species of casuistry). This 
peculiarity, which in after-times exerted an influence 


at once favorable and prejudicial to advancement, 
and which was conducive at the same time both to 
logical acuteness and to sophistry, seems to have 
first made its appearance in the public academies of 
Jabne and Usha, and in the numerous other schools. 
It was probably the ingenious Meir and his disciples 
who most contributed to its cultivation. As if it 
were not sufficient to consider and decide such cases 
as really occurred, according to the already existing 
laws and principles of the Pentateuch and tradition, 
teachers occupied themselves in depicting fantastic 
and intricate situations, simply to show, for example, 
that it was occasionally possible for several laws to 
apply to a single act. The Mishna admitted all 
these hypothetical cases constructed by the schools, 
and perhaps added to their number. This casuistic 
peculiarity was especially employed in order to give 
a clear idea of certain cases where cumulative pun- 
ishments or atonements were incurred. 

It is noteworthy that the Mishnaic compilation 
contains no Halachas of a character hostile to the 
Jewish professors of Christianity ; it does not touch 
on this subject in any place, not even declaring 
whether it is allowed or prohibited to eat meat 
cooked by the Minceans. It appears that the danger 
with which Judaism had been threatened by the 
Jewish Christians, since the destruction of the Tem- 
ple until the Bar-Cochba war, had already been 
averted, and that danger was now no longer to be 
dreaded. On the other hand, and in order to avoid 
the least appearance of participation in idolatry, the 
Mishna contains numerous laws directed against 
heathenism and intercourse with the heathens. The 
teachers of Christianity immediately experienced the 
want of some such protective laws for the preserva- 
tion of the Christian communities, and Tertullian, 
one of the Fathers of the Church (a younger con- 
temporary of Judah the Patriarch, and the first 
Christian author who wrote in Latin), expressed a 
desire that the Christians should be kept apart from 


the heathens just as strictly as the Jews were by the 
prescriptions of the Mishna ; the reason for this was 
that heathenism had continued to make its way into 
Palestine since the Bar-Cochba war, and had gained 
possession not only of coast towns, but even of in- 
land places. It was necessary, therefore, to regulate 
the conduct of the people accordingly. The Mishna 
devotes a special treatise (Aboda Zara) to this sub- 
ject ; it prohibits the intercourse with heathens for 
three days before their principal public festivals, 
such as the kalends of January, the Saturnalia, the 
anniversary of the accession or the death of the 
emperor. It also commands the people not to fre- 
quent such of the shops of the heathens as are dec 
orated with laurel wreaths. The Jews are forbidden 
to sell ornaments or other objects for the use of 
idols to the heathens, or to let to them any houses 
in Palestine, because they would be desecrated by 
the introduction of images of idols. On account of 
the hatred entertained against them by the heathen 
inhabitants of Palestine, the Jews are further com- 
manded not to allow themselves to be attended 
during any illness by the heathens, or even to allow 
their beards to be shaved by the latter ; and in 
particular are ordered not to remain alone with them 
in any lonely spot, lest they should be secretly 
murdered by them. The Roman heathens having 
introduced the barbarous custom of setting men to 
fight with wild beasts, the Mishna interdicts the sale 
to them by the Jews of bears, lions, and all other 
animals by which any injury can be caused, and 
further prohibits the Jews from building their 
basilica, places of execution, or stadia, because they 
serve to promote the shedding of innocent blood. 
In order not to pander to the unnatural vices 
(sodomy) of the heathens, the Jews are commanded 
not to commit any animals to their charge ; the 
Mishna even forbids the Jewish midwives or nurses 
to offer their services to the heathen women, be- 
cause they would thereby help to bring into the 


world a new child of idolatry. All enjoyment de- 
rived from objects of reverence to the idolaters is 
interdicted, and the Jews are not even allowed to 
sit in the shade of an image of an idol, and are 
particularly forbidden to drink of the wine of which 
a portion has been, or may have been, offered by a 
heathen to his gods. Most of the laws relative to 
the separation of the Jews from the heathen world, 
introduced with great zeal and precipitancy shortly 
before the destruction of the Temple, are retained 
and extended by the Mishna. Notwithstanding all 
its hatred of the heathens generally, and especially 
those in Palestine (the Mishna paid but little atten- 
tion to foreign countries), the Jewish legislation was 
unable to entirely belie the distinctive trait of 
Judaism, its universal love of mankind. Together 
with these hostile laws, there was also adopted one 
which was favorable to the heathens, due probably 
to the initiative of Rabban Gamaliel I : their poor 
were given access to the fields, and possessed, 
equally with the Jews, the right of gleaning. A 
special treatise, called " The Sayings of the Fathers" 
(Pirke Aboth), is devoted to the teachings of a 
higher morality, and contains the maxims and short 
sentences of the sopheric teachers and sages from 
the earliest times. These laws of morality, however, 
are concealed, and, as it were, overgrown by a mass 
of law relating to the ritual. 

With the completion of the Mishna and the 
almost equally important Boraitas, the Tanaites had 
accomplished their task of imparting a settled form 
and lasting shape to the hitherto uncertain and 
transitory matter of tradition ; they had called it to 
life, and presented it to the Jewish nation as com- 
mon property. After completing their task with 
noble assiduity, untiring zeal, and unexampled self- 
denial, they disappeared from the scene, leaving to 
future generations the result of their efforts, from 
which to receive their education and imbibe a love 
of their religion and nationality. 



Judah II. Friendliness of Alexander Severus towards the Jews 
Joshua ben Levi Hillel instructs Origen in Hebrew The 
Hexapla The Palestinean Amoraim Chanina Jochanan 
Simon ben Lakish Joshua, the Hero of Fable Simlai, the 
Philosophical Agadist Porphyry comments on the Book ot 

219 280 c. E. 

AFTER the extinction of the Tanaites and the death 
of the younger contemporaries of the compiler of 
the Mishna and of his son Gamaliel III, a happier 
period commenced : happy abroad by reason of the 
favorable political situation brought about by the 
friendly attitude assumed towards the Jews by one 
of the best of the Roman emperors ; happy at 
home through the agency of a series of vigorous- 
minded men, who imbued the ancient customs and 
manners with a new and healthy spirit. The most 
prominent men and the lights of this epoch were : 
in Judaea, the Patriarch Judah II, son of Gamaliel ; 
Jochanan, the principal authority of these times ; 
and Simon b. Lakish, the Teacher, robust of hand 
and brain ; and in Babylonia, Abba-Areka and 
Samuel. These men were the pioneers of a new 
movement, connected, it is true, with the labors of 
the Tanaites, inasmuch as it was grounded upon 
their work, but yet went beyond it in range. A 
sketch of the leading personalities of this period 
will not perhaps be considered superfluous. 

But little is known of the early life and training 
of Judah the Patriarch. His youth was passed in 
a time when religious strictness had acquired so 
predominant an importance, that the family of the 



Patriarch himself was open to censure in case any 
of its members acted contrary to prescribed law. 
Judah was walking one Sabbath-day, with his brother 
Hillel, 'in Biri, wearing a pair of shoes decorated 
with golden buckles, which seems to have been 
prohibited in that town. They were sharply cen- 
sured by the populace on this account, and, not 
daring to explain that the act was not contrary to 
the Law, they were obliged to take off their shoes 
and give them to their slaves. On another occa- 
sion, when the two sons of the Patriarch were one 
clay bathing together in Kabul, the people called 
out to them " that in their city it was not lawful for 
two brothers to bathe together." When Judah suc- 
ceeded his father in the office of Patriarch (about 
225) he transferred the seat of this dignity from 
Sepphoris to Tiberias, and this city, formerly 
avoided on account of its uncleanliness, was thus 
invested by him with considerable importance ; it 
outlived all the other cities of Judaea, however rich 
in memories, and was the last retreat of the ancient 
traditions. The announcement of the appearance 
of the new moon, which on account of a certain 
preference shown to the south of Judaea had for- 
merly been made there, was now ordered by Judah 
to be made at Tiberias. The south of Palestine, 
formerly the principal scene of historical events, 
was henceforward bereft of its supremacy, and was 
obliged to abandon its role to the once-despised 
Galilee. Like his grandfather, Judah II was held 
in great reverence by his contemporaries, and was 
also called simply Rabbi or Rabbenu. He likewise 
was often severely censured, but accepted the blame 
more patiently than his ancestor. 

It was probably the second Judah, as the Jewish 
narratives positively assert, that was beloved by a 
Roman emperor, from whom he received numerous 
marks of favor. Accident, which in the guise of the 
Praetorian guards generally gave the casting vote 


at the election of the emperor, elevated Alexander 
Severus (222-235), an unknown Syrian youth in his 
seventeenth year, to the position of ruler of the 
world. In public, he gave evidence of a more pro- 
nounced friendliness to Judaism than any of his 
predecessors. In his private apartment there was 
placed, next to the representations of Orpheus and 
Christ, a picture of Abraham. This emperor was 
so deeply impressed with the truth of the golden 
rule of pure philanthropy, " Do not unto others 
what thou wouldst not they should do unto you " 
(esteemed as the essence of the whole Jewish 
religion before the time of Jesus), that it was always 
on his lips, and was placed by him as a motto on 
the imperial palace and the public buildings, and 
proclaimed by a herald to the soldiers whenever 
he desired to reprimand them for attacks on the 
property of foreigners. On all occasions he set up 
the Jews and Christians as patterns to the depraved 
Romans, and was desirous of seeing the highest 
dignities of the state awarded upon the same 
principles as those which governed the admission 
of Jewish and Christian religious leaders to ordina- 
tion. He was well disposed towards the Christians, 
but seems to have possessed a greater predilection 
for the Jews and Judaism. The inhabitants of 
Antioch and Alexandria, whose frivolous character 
caused them to be better pleased with immoral 
emperors than with an austere ruler like Alex- 
ander Severus, derided him in epigrams, and gave 
him the nicknames of the " Syrian Head of the 
Synagogue " (Archisynagogus, that is, Rabbi) and 
" High Priest." The emperor's mother, Mammsea, 
however, had a preference for Christianity, and 
was a protectress of Origen, one of the Fathers 
of the Church. For these reasons, the Patriarch 
Judah possessed during this period an almost royal 
authority, and was even able to exercise anew 
criminal jurisdiction ; not quite openly, it is true, 


but still with the prior knowledge of the emperor. 
The latter seems to have made the acquaintance 
of the Jewish Patriarch during his frequent visits 
to Antioch on the occasion of his campaign in 
Persia (231-234). Judah probably prevailed upon 
him to protect, or rather to revive, the privileges 
of the Jews. Among these was the right of 
again entering the city of Jerusalem, and of filling 
the office of judge, both of which rights had 
been denied to them by Hadrian. Jewish fable 
relates many things concerning the sincere attach- 
ment of the Emperor Severus (Asverus), son of 
Antoninus, or simply Antoninus, to Judaism and 
the Jews. But although much of this is doubtless 
exaggerated and embellished, the Talmud contains 
many narratives concerning the relations existing 
between the Patriarch and the Emperor which are 
certainly historical. Thus it is related of him that 
he presented a golden candlestick to a synagogue 
(probably that of Tiberias), and granted the Patri- 
arch a field in the district of Gaulanitis, most likely 
for the support of the disciples. 

It is quite in the spirit of this emperor of Syrian 
origin, prepossessed as he was in favor of foreign 
religions, that he should have requested the Patri- 
arch, as the story runs, to recommend to him a 
learned man to aid him in building an altar on the 
model of that in the Jewish Temple, and in the 
preparation of incense according to the rules of the 
Jewish code, for which purpose Judah is said to 
have recommended his intimate friend Romanus. 
The thirteen years during which the Roman world 
submitted to the rule of a good emperor were a 
happy time for the Jewish nation, for the sovereign 
conferred many marks of favor upon this people, 
lately despised and persecuted. The position of 
the Jews was indeed so favorable that the opinion 
was commonly expressed that Daniel, who had 
cast a prophetic glance on the succession of the 


empires of the world, had predicted this state of 
things in the words : " When they (the Jews) suc- 
cumb, some small help will still be extended to 
them," which were considered to refer to Severus 
Antoninus, who manifested a love for the Jews. 
This favorable situation contributed towards the 
substitution of a more friendly spirit in place of 
the variance with and profound dislike of the 
Romans which had prevailed for centuries. 

The Christians complained at this time that the 
Jews were much more favorably disposed towards 
the heathens than towards themselves, although pos- 
sessing much more in common with themselves than 


with the heathens. The barrier erected by the Jews, 
in consequence of their hatred of the Romans, was 
partly overthrown, and the rigor of the separation 
of the two nations was relaxed. The family of 
the Patriarch were permitted, on account of their 
association with the highest dignitaries of the state, 
to dress their hair according to the Roman fashion, 
to learn Greek, and to do various other things 
which had formerly been prohibited. The life of the 
Jews assumed altogether a happier aspect : they 
began to decorate their rooms with paintings, and 
religious scrupulousness took no exception. 

To the influence exercised by these friendly rela- 
tions with the rulers must probably also be ascribed 
the fact that the Patriarch abolished, or intended to 
abolish, many of the stricter rules which had formerly 
been carried out with the utmost severity. In the 
stormy days of the first rebellion against the 
Romans, when the wave of racial hatred ran high 
between Jews and Graeco-Roman heathens, a Synod, 
in order to put a stop to all intercourse with the 
heathens, had forbidden the Jews to purchase or 
make use of their oil and various other articles of 
food. In Palestine, this restraint did not fall heavily 
on the Jewish inhabitants, as the land produced all 
that was necessary to satisfy the daily wants of the 


people, and the oil exported from Galilee afforded 
a sufficient supply to the neighboring countries. 
But the war of Hadrian devastated Judsea and de- 
prived it of all its oil plantations ; the daily need of 
oil thus gradually compelled this strict prohibition to 
be disregarded. But the legal permission was still 
wanting, and, although numbers had dispensed with 
it, there still remained many who complied strictly 
with the law, as yet unabolished. Judah II there- 
fore used his best endeavors to obtain a majority 
favorable to the abrogation of this law, and prided 
himself greatly on accomplishing his purpose ; it is 
probable that he had to sustain a severe conflict in 
order to gain his object. When Simlai, the Patri- 
arch's assessor, who was constantly traveling be- 
tween Galilee and Babylon, brought the news that 
permission had been granted to the Jewish inhab- 
itants of countries bordering on the Euphrates (who 
had always been restive under restraints imposed 
upon them) to make use of the oil of the heathens, 
this innovation appeared so daring to Abba-Areka 
(the principal Babylonian authority), that he refused 
to believe the report. Samuel, however, who desired 
to see the authority of the Patriarch generally rec- 
ognized even in Babylon, compelled him to make 
use of this permission. 

Another alleviation proposed by the Patriarch, 
according to which the onerous marriage with a de- 
ceased brother's widow was to be evaded in certain 
cases by a bill of divorce, to be given before death, 
was not agreed to by his College. He was also 
desirous of permitting the use of bread made 
by the heathens. Finally, he proposed to abolish 
the fast of the month of Ab, instituted in commem- 
oration of so many catastrophes, according to some 
authors in totality, according to others in certain 
cases only. The contemporary teachers of the 
Law, however, were opposed to these alterations ; 
but, on the other hand, they agreed with him in 


abolishing a mark of affliction introduced during the 
period of adversity under Hadrian : henceforward it 
was allowable for brides to ride in state-litters on 
their wedding-day. 

In spite of the reverence felt by the teachers of 
the Law for the Patriarch Judah, they were not blind 
to his weaknesses, and he was obliged to submit to 
numerous attacks on their part. The Patriarchate 
had acquired in his hands an almost royal power, 
and was even entitled to a body-guard, ready to en- 
force the commands of the Patriarch. This power, 
although not abused by Judah, was all the more 
displeasing to the teachers of the Law, since he, on 
his side, conferred no particular favors on the 
learned classes, but rather exerted himself to abol- 
ish the distinction between the learned and illiterate 
in all civil relations. He further subjected the 
teachers of the Law to a shar^ of the communal 
burdens. Simeon ben-Lakish, one of those out- 
spoken men who carry their love of truth even to 
the length of disrespect of persons, was especially 
opposed to this leveling policy, and gav^e vent to 
offensive sallies against the Patriarch. Once, in 
the lecture-hall, he put forward the proposition : 
That in case the Patriarch should render himself 
guilty of a crime, it would be necessary to sentence 
him, like any ordinary man, to the punishment of 
scourging. Upon this it was observed by Chaggai, 
that in such a case he would have to be absolutely 
deposed, and debarred from taking office again lest 
he should employ his power in revenging himself 
upon the authors of his disgrace. This discussion 
was manifestly an attack upon Judah's possession 
of extraordinary power. Angry at these remarks, 
and carried away by his first impulse, he immedi- 
ately despatched his Gothic slaves to seize the fault- 
finder ; but Jochanan, the Principal of the school, 
succeeded eventually in appeasing his wrath. Once 
the Patriarch complained to Ben-Lakish of the 


rapacity of the Roman authorities, which prevailed 
for a lengthened period in all the provinces of the 
Roman empire during the reign of anarchy which 
followed after the death of Alexander Severus. In 
most of the provinces there had arisen emperors, 
anti-emperors, and usurpers, who, during the short 
span of their reign, assumed the character of ruler 
of the world, and conducted themselves in the 
countries subject to their sway with true Roman 
rapacity. " Pray for me," said Judah to Ben-Lakish, 
" for the rule of the Romans is evil." To which the 
latter replied : " If thou take nothing, nothing will 
be taken from thee." This remark was probably 
intended as a rebuke for the covetousness of which 
it is impossible to acquit Judah. 

The Patriarchs seem to have commenced about 
this time to draw a revenue from the communities. 
This had become a necessity, as the impoverish- 
ment of Palestine had followed in the wake of its 
heavy taxation. A great part of the pasture lands 
had fallen into the hands of the heathens dwelling 
in the country, to whom the Jewish proprietors had 
been obliged to sell. Through this impoverishment 
the means of maintaining the school-houses and the 
pupils were greatly diminished. The income of 
Judah, unlike that of his grandfather, proved insuffi- 
cient for the purpose, and he was therefore obliged 
to open up new sources of income in order worthily 
to support the dignity of Patriarch. He sent messages 
abroad to make collections amongst the rich Jews. 
One of the most important teachers of the Law in 
Lydda, named Joshua ben Levi, made a special 
journey to Rome for this purpose. In Rome some 
wealthy Jews were known to live. These willingly 
contributed to the support of the institution which 
replaced the Synhedrion, and which was the last 
remnant of an independent state, and the represen- 
tative of which was supposed to be descended from 
or connected with the royal house of David. It is 


related that the Jewish ship-owners and merchants 
gave up the tenth part of their gains to the support 
of the disciples in the school of Tiberias. This grant 
was called the Patriarch's tax, and the mission-tax 
(Apostole), also crown money (aurum coronarium). 

Meanwhile, however greatly Judah's avarice may 
have been blamed, he still stood high in the favor 
of the populace, by reason of the simplicity of his 
manners and attire, which caused his proud and 
almost royal dignity to be forgotten. He was 
accustomed to wear linen clothes, and to dispense 
with all etiquette in his reception of ceremonious 
visits, thereby calling down upon himself the 
reproaches of his friends, who expressed their 
opinion that a ruler ought to appear in mag- 
nificence, and to maintain an imposing demeanor. 

How great a reverence was felt for Judah may 
be seen from the fact that, on his death, no less 
honors were paid to his body than had been shown 
to his grandfather, Judah I. In direct opposition 
to the Law, a descendant of Aaron was compelled 
to take charge of his corpse ; it being alleged that 
it was permissible in this instance to lay aside the 
holy character of his priesthood. 

Hillel II., the brother of the Patriarch, was pos- 
sessed of great skill in the Agadic exposition of 
the Scriptures, and seems to have been a profoundly 
moral man. Among the many maxims said to have 
been uttered by him, the following is especially 
worthy of note : 

"Separate not thyself from the rest of the community; put not 
overmuch trust in thyself (in thy piety) before thy death ; judge not 
thy neighbor until thou hast been placed in his position." 

It was probably owing to Hillel's profound 
knowledge of the Scriptures that he was visited by 
Origen, the philosophical Father of the Church, 
who desired to consult him concerning certain 
difficult passages in the Bible. Origen called him 
the Patriarch Jullos. 


The spirit of investigation awakened by the 
Fathers of the Church, Pantaeus and Clemens of 
Alexandria, in the Christian school of Alexandria, 
which sought to connect the Old and the New Tes- 
tament, revived the necessity of an acquaintance 
with the Hebrew language, in order to explain by 
the help of the knowledge of the original text, the 
glaring contradictions existing in many places 
between the views of the Old Testament and the 
now inflexible dogmas of Christianity. It was 
Origen who felt most the need of this knowledge, 

<_> ^> ' 

and he was unremitting in his efforts to acquire 
the Hebrew tongue, and in his recommendations 
to others to study it. He regarded the Jews as his 
masters in the knowledge of Hebrew and the 
correct exegesis of the Scripture : he admitted 
having learnt from Jews the exact sense of various 
difficult passages in the Bible, during his long but 
intermittent residence in Judaea (from about 229 to 
253). Being desirous of writing a Commentary on 
the Psalms, he took the trouble to have them 
explained to him by a Jew, according to the tradi- 
tions. At that time the study of the Halachas had 
not yet superseded that of Biblical exegesis. 

Besides Hillel and Simlai there were other Jewish 
teachers well acquainted with the original text, who 
confuted the Christian teachers, and laughed at 


them for the absurdly childish arguments which 
they drew from their corrupt Greek translation, 
the Septuagint. They were especially diverted at 
the credulity of the Christians, by whom every 
apocryphal book was invested with the garb of 
antiquity. Such books as the histories of Tobias, 
of Judith, and of Susannah were admitted into the 
collection of the Holy writings, upon which loose 
foundation was erected the fragile fabric of their 


In order to protect the creed of the Church from 
this ridicule, Origen undertook the gigantic task 


of revising the Septuagint version, mutilated and 
crowded as it was with errors of all kinds. His 
immediate object was to afford the Christian teachers 
an insight into the differences existing between the 
translation and the original text, and so better to 
enable them to conduct their discussions with the 
Jews. To this end, he compared the translations 
of Akylas, Symmachos, Theodotion, and three 
others which had appeared in the meantime ; and 
in order to allow of a convenient survey, he placed 
them in columns, the Hebrew text, with its pro- 
nunciation in Greek letters, figuring at the head. 
These parallel texts were known by the name of 
the Hexapla (sixfold). It was labor lost, however, 
to compare the wretched and intentionally corrupt 
Greek translation with the original Hebrew text. 
The Septuagint continued to exist in its mutilated 
form, and was even worse confounded by reason of 
Origen's industry, for many passages belonging to 
other translations were often accidentally introduced 
into its text. 

The activity of the Palestinean teachers was 
directed to another object ; their cares were be- 
stowed neither on the study of the Bible nor on 
the establishing of the doctrines of faith ; both 
these subjects lay outside their sphere of activity. 
Their chief energies were devoted to the study of 
the oral law in its definite form, the Mishna. This 
work had been composed in a brief and laconic 
style, and, besides, it contained many passages 
which were incomprehensible, the words or subject- 
matter having passed out of everyday use. For 
these reasons the comprehension of the Mishna 
required peculiar study and erudition. The prin- 
cipals of the schools applied themselves, in the 
first place, to the elucidation of the terse and fre- 
quently obscure text of the Mishna. From this 
aspect of their labors they received the name 
of Amoraim (Amorai, Expounder). But far from 


being satisfied with this arid work, or with remaining 
contentedly in this dependence, they gradually 
emancipated themselves, made new departures, and 
believing in good faith that they were standing on 
the ground of the Mishna, went far beyond its 
boundaries. As the Tanaites had treated the text 
of the Bible, so also did the Amoraim treat that of 
the second code ; they dissected it, and resolved it 
into its constituent parts, so that under their hand it 
was dissipated, becoming new matter and acquiring 
a new form. 

The first generation of the Amoraim, following 
immediately upon the Tanaites and semi-Tanaites, 
constitutes in many points a parallel with the second 
generation of the Tanaites. Like the latter it con- 
sisted of a series of talented teachers, who attained 
a orreat a^e, and whose labors were continued 

c> !> 

during half a century. Like the latter, again, it 
possessed different schools and systems, and was 
divided into various opinions concerning the ex- 
planation of the Law. But it does not afford the 
spectacle of violent controversies ; for it already 
possessed a common and recognized formula, a 
settled standard, to which all authorities subordi- 
nated themselves. The oldest of the Amoraim was 
Chanina b. Chama, of Sepphoris (from about 180 to 
260). He was descended from an ancient and noble 
family, and followed the profession of physician ; 
the science of medicine, inborn in the Levites, 
being generally cultivated by teachers of the Law. 
The method of teaching adopted by him was very 
simple. He was an Amora in the fullest sense of 
the primitive meaning of the term ; he expounded 
the Mishna or the Boraitas with the help of such 
comments only as had been handed down to him 
by tradition, without allowing himself to make any 
independent deductions. If new cases occurred 
which were not indicated in the Mishna, he did not 
decide them according to his own lights, but took 


counsel with learned colleagues, or even with dis- 
ciples, however obvious the decision may have been. 
Chanina occupied the same position among the 
Amoraim as Eleazar b. Hyrcanus among the Tana- 
ites ; he was entirely receptive, never creative. 
This point of view, however, according to which 
the Mishna was regarded as dead stock, was not 
acceptable to the younger and more zealous men ; 
Chanina was therefore deserted, even by his own 
disciples, who proceeded to found new academies. 
Notwithstanding this, Chanina was regarded with 
great veneration both by Jews and Romans, on 
account of his piety. Once, when he went, with 
Joshua b. Levi, a younger contemporary, to visit 
the Proconsul (Anthypatos), in Csesarea, the latter 
rose respectfully at their approach, replying to his 
friends, who expressed astonishment at his behavior, 
that "they appeared to him like angels." He 
reproved more boldly and fearlessly than any other 
teacher, the deeply-rooted faults of his community, 
and tried to rid it of that erroneous belief which 
willingly accepts the most incredible miracles, in 
order to be relieved of all responsibility. Chanina's 
unsparing utterances concerning the people of 
Sepphoris present at the same time a faithful 
picture of the customs of the period. On one 
occasion Sepphoris and the surrounding districts 
had been so devastated by the plague that many of 
the inhabitants of all parts of the town had been 
carried off by it ; the only quarter not visited by it 
was that in which Chanina resided. The men of 
Sepphoris wished to make him responsible for this 
plague, on the ground that he had not performed 
any miracle to avert it ; whereupon he replied : " In 
the time of Moses there was only one Zimri (who 
debauched a heathen woman), and yet twenty-four 
thousand fell by the plague ; ye, however, possess 
many Zimris, and complain notwithstanding." 
Another time, Judsea was visited by a continued 

49 2 HISTORY OF THE JEWS. CM. xvni. 

drought and lack of rain. Chanina had arranged 
the prescribed fasts and offered up public prayers, 
yet the much desired rains did not set in ; where- 
upon the people complained anew, and referred 
to Joshua b. Levi, the envoy to Rome, whose 
prayers for rain for the south of Judaea had been 
crowned with success. On the next opportunity 
Chanina sent for Joshua from the south, and 
united with him in prayer, but again without success. 
Seizing upon this occasion, he reprimanded his 
fellow-countrymen for their superstitious belief in 
the power of a human being to work miracles ; 
" Thus do ye see," exclaimed he, " that it is neither 
Joshua who causes rain, nor Chanina who hinders 
it ; the inhabitants of Lydda are kind-hearted and 
humble, therefore heaven sends them rain ; ye, 
however, are hard-hearted and callous, and therefore 
heaven withholds rain from you." Chanina retained 
his modesty and self-denial all through his life, and 
justly recognizing the merits of others, rejoiced in 
his later years over the fame of those who had 
surpassed him. He attained an extreme old age, 
and saw three Patriarchs the elder Judah, his 
teacher ; Gamaliel, Judah's son, and Judah II. 

In opposition to the conservative Chanina stands 
Jochanan bar Napacha (born 199, died 279). De- 
prived of both father and mother, who died in his 
early youth, he used to say in later life, that he 
ought to be thankful for this misfortune, as he 
would not have been able to fulfil the strict duties 
of filial love in the manner required by the Law. 
He was so handsome of figure that the Talmudical 
source, usually so sober, involuntarily becomes 
poetical in trying to describe his beauty : " Let him 
who desires to form an idea of Jochanan's beauty 
take a newly-wrought silver goblet, fill it with 
ruddy garnets, crown its brim with a wreath of red 
roses, and place it between light and shadow ; its 
peculiar reflection of light will then represent the 


glory of Jochanan's dazzling beauty." This beauty, 
however, partook more of a feminine character, for 
he possessed no beard, the expression of manly 
dignity. His eyebrows were also so long as to 
overshadow his eyes. When he was grown up he 
attended the school of the elder Judah, but admitted 
that he had understood but little of the profound 
Halachic discussion, by reason of his youth. As 
he was not rich, possessing only a small plot of 
land, he applied himself to business, in conjunc- 
tion with Ilpha, a fellow-disciple, when a warning 
was given to him to devote his whole energies to 
the study of the Law, in which it was asserted that 
he would acquire great distinction. For this reason 
he abandoned his trade, and again followed the 
lectures of celebrated teachers of the Law. He 
sold his little plot of ground in order to obtain the 
wherewithal to study, exhibiting no concern with 
regard to any provision for his old age. It seems, 
however, that later on he was maintained at the 
expense of the Patriarch, Judah. Jochanan fre- 
quented the company of the teachers of various 
schools, in order to acquire a diversified knowledge 
of the subject-matter of the Law. He became the 
principal assistant of the Patriarch, Judah II, and 
was the most productive Amora of his time. 
Through the influence of a large body of disciples, 
his sayings form a considerable element of the 
Talmud. His method of teaching was to search 
deeply into the meaning of the Mishna, to subject 
every paragraph to severe analysis, and to com- 
pare each maxim with the others ; he arrived by 
these means at the inference that the Mishna was 
not possessed throughout of legal force. He also 
laid down certain rules concerning the manner of 
arriving at a definite decision in those cases where 
two or more Tanaites were of different opinions. 

Through his influence Tiberias, with its mild air, 
its fertility and its curative waters, became the 


meeting-place of a numerous body of disciples, who 
flocked to him from far and wide. His academy 
was even attended by mature and finished scholars 
from Babylon, although the newly-founded schools 
of that country possessed excellent masters. Over 
a hundred Amoraim are known who accepted Jocha- 
nan's decisions as of full legal force, and who taught 
them in their schools. 

An intimate friend of the Patriarch, he supported 
him in his endeavors to modify certain ancient 
usages. Jochanan was himself not very particular 
on this head, and by far less strict than the Babylo- 
nian school, which came into existence during his 
lifetime. In opposition to the existing custom, he 
permitted the acquirement of Greek : by men, 
because they were thereby enabled to protect 
themselves against traitors, and by women, because 
the Greek language was an ornament to the sex. 
He entertained great esteem for Greek civilization 
in general, and ranked it on an equality with 
Judaism. He expressed himself beautifully on this 
subject : " For that Shem and Japhet, the two sons 
of Noah, did cover their father's nakedness with a 
mantle, Shem (symbol of Judaism) hath obtained 
a shawl with fringes (Talith), Japhet (the type 
of Greek civilization) the philosopher's mantle 
(Pallium)." It was Jochanan who permitted the 
innovation of decorating rooms with paintings. He 
was never able to reconcile himself to the Roman 
rule, and was unsparing in his denunciation of the 
insolent arrogance and heartless violence of the 
authorities. He regarded as symbolical of the 
Roman Empire, the fourth beast in Daniel's vision 
of the four empires of the world, which was a per- 
ennial mine of discovery for the Biblical exegete, 
and was even more diligently explored by the 
Christians than by the Jews. The small horn which 
grew out of the fourth beast represents, according 
to his explanation, wicked Rome, which annihilated 


all previous empires ; the eyes resembling human 
eyes, which were visible in this horn, indicate 
Rome's envious glances at the wealth of others. 
If any one is rich, the Romans immediately elevate 
him to the office of president of the council charged 
with the supply of provisions, or make him a 
member of the municipal senate, in order that his 
fortune may be answerable for everything. Another 
striking maxim of this sort uttered by Jochanan 
was the following : " If thou art proposed as a 
member of the senate, choose rather as thy dwelling 
the desert of the Jordan." He permitted people, 
in exceptional instances, to emigrate from Judaea, 
in order to escape from the heavy burden of the 
municipal offices. 

Jochanan's character was marked by a profound 
morality ; the slave who waited upon him was 
allowed to partake of all the dishes prepared for his 
master. He had the misfortune to lose his ten 
sons ; the unfortunate father carried about with him 
a small bone of his last son, in order to console all 
such as had to bewail a similar disaster, by the rela- 
tion of his extraordinary misfortune. " Behold all 
that now remains of the last of my ten sons," he was 
wont to explain to them. A daughter alone was 
left to Jochanan ; thus, an orphan from his birth, he 
died almost childless. He is said to have had 
periods of insanity in his extreme old age, occasioned 
by grief at the death of his friend and brother-in-law, 
Ben-Lakish, of which he believed himself to be the 

Simeon Ben-Lakish, Jochanan's contemporary 
friend, brother-in-law and opponent, was in many 
ways his counterpart, and was altogether a peculiar 
personage, in whom were united the most opposite 
qualities ; rough physical strength was coupled with 
tenderness of sentiment and acuteness of mind. 
Resh-Lakish, for such was his abbreviated name, 
seems to have been born at Bostra, the capital of the 


Saracens, about the year 200, and to have died in 
275. As Jochanan's constant comrade, he had seen 
the Patriarch Judah I. in his youth, and had been 
brought up in the school of his successors. The 
sources of the Talmud are never tired of dilating 
on his gigantic strength and enormous size. He 
once engaged himself at the Circus in the capacity 
of slaughterer of wild beasts, his duty being to pro- 
tect the spectators of these highly popular combats 
from the fury of the animals. Ben-Lakish probably 
only chose this low and dangerous occupation out 
of necessity. Tradition is at some pains to reconcile 
and to transform into a beautiful picture the glaring 
contrasts existing in Resh-Lakish, his rude strength 
and his study of the Law. But his scrupulous in- 
tegrity is even more renowned than his enormous 
physical strength. It is related that he used to 
avoid the company of persons of whose honesty he 
was not fully convinced, for which reason unlimited 
credit was usually accorded to all whom Ben-Lakish 
honored with his society, without any further inquiry. 
His earnest and gloomy countenance was never 
brightened by a smile, for he considered cheerful- 
ness to be frivolous, so long as the holy people were 
subject to the power of the heathens. We have 
already noticed his love of truth and his candor, 
which he carried almost to insult in his animadver- 
sions on the abuses of the Patriarch. In Biblical 
exegesis he adopted the method of finding- ingenious 

*j i fj -> 

explanations, in which study he surpassed his older 
comrade and brother-in-law. " When he consid- 
ered Halachic questions," says a source of the 
Talmud, " it was as though he were grinding the 
mountains against one another." Ben-Lakish pos- 
sessed a certain originality in the study of the Agada, 
and advanced peculiar views, which were only esti- 
mated at their proper worth in later times. It was 
often questioned in the schools at what period the 
sufferings of Job had occurred, the other circum- 


stances of this remarkable drama were also debated, 
and the most contrary views found expression. 
Resh-Lakish seems to have come to an accurate con- 
clusion in advancing the opinion that Job had ex- 
isted at no period, that he had never lived, and was 
simply an ingenious moral creation (Mashal). This 
view appeared very strange to his contemporaries, 
who were unable to comprehend such a conception. 
The names of the angels were regarded by Ben- 
Lakish as not having been originally Jewish, but as 
being a foreign element transplanted into Judaism, 
which had, in fact, been brought by the Jewish nation 
from Persia. He was wont to contradict the asser- 
tions of those who extolled the past at the expense 
of the present, who declared hyperbolically " that a 
nail of the ancients was worth more than the whole 
body of their descendants *'; or, in another form, 
"that if the ancients were angels, we, on the con- 
trary, are only asses "; he used to say that the ex- 
isting generation possessed greater merit, for the 
reason that although heavily oppressed, they still 
pursued the study of the Law. Although a friend 
of Jochanan from his youth, and drawn still closer 
to him by the ties of family alliance, Ben-Lakish 
was nevertheless at variance with him during his 
last years. 

The name of Joshua ben-Levi, who formed, with 
Jochanan and Ben-Lakish, the triumvirate of the 
Palestinian Amoraim, is more renowned in the world 
of legend than in history, where, indeed, but little is 
related of him. The son of Levi ben-SIssi, he con- 
ducted a school at Lydda, in the south of Judaea. It is 
true that the inhabitants of Lydda were not in over- 
good repute with the Galileans, who pronounced them 
proud and superficial. But Joshua's reputation in 
no way suffered from this circumstance, and his 
authority was greatly respected. To his opinions 
on the Halachas was accorded for the most part 
the force of law, even in those cases where the other 


two members of the triumvirate entertained different 
views. Joshua himself admits, however, that he 
forgot many traditions during the period in which 
he was occupied with the organization of the communi- 
ties of Southern Judaea. The situation of the com- 
munities of this district had, in fact, been so un- 
settled ever since the catastrophe in the time of 
Hadrian, that Jochanan and Jonathan were obliged 
to journey thither in order to restore peace and 
order. Joshua also on one occasion visited Rome, 
in the capacity of collector of revenues for the 
Patriarch. He had there an opportunity of observ- 
ing a fact which exhibited in strong relief the con- 
trasts existing in the capital of the world. He saw 
a statue enveloped in drapery, in order to protect 
it against heat and cold, while near by sat a beggar 
who had hardly a rag to cover his nakedness. He 
is said to have expected the Messiah to appear in 
the capital of the world, where he supposed that he 
existed in the guise of a servant, waiting among the 
beggars and cripples at the gate, and expecting 
every moment to be called upon to effect the deliv- 
erance of Israel. According to the legend, Joshua 
ben-Levi was regarded as one of those choice spirits 
who were admitted to the most intimate intercourse 
with the prophet Elijah, and over whom death itself 
was obliged to relinquish its power. He wrested 
the sword from the angel of death, went to Heaven 
alive, measured the expanse of the Heavens, of 
Paradise, and of Hell, and forwarded the results of 
his investigation to Gamaliel through the medium 


of the destroying angel himself, who was obliged to 
submit to his orders. 

An original path in the explanation of the Agada 
was struck out by Simla! ; he it was who first con- 
sidered this collection worthy of profounder study. 
Born at Lydda, he had quitted this desolate region, 
and had settled down at Nahardea, where the new 
school of the Babylonian Amoraim was first coming 


to its prime. He entertained the most friendly re- 
lations with the Patriarch Judah II. He possessed 
but small weight in questions relating to the study 
of the Law, and his Halachic attainments were not 
esteemed in Palestine. He was the first to collect 
together all the commands contained in the Jewish 
Law, numbering 613, of which 365 are prohibitions, 
and 248 affirmative precepts. David, according to 
Simlai, reduced these 613 commands to the follow- 
ing eleven virtues : honesty, justice, truthfulness, 
abhorrence of calumny, of malice and of injuring one's 
neighbor, despising the wicked, reverence of the 
worthy, sanctity of oaths, unselfish lending without 
interest, and forbearance from bribery. Isaiah 
summed them up in six, as follows : to be just in 
our conduct, honest in our speech, to despise self- 
interest, to keep our hand from bribery, our ear 
from wicked insinuations, and our eye from base 
desires. The Prophet Micah reduced the commands 
of the Law to three leading principles : the exercise 
of justice, love of charity, and humility ; while the 
second Isaiah brought them down to two, which are, 
to cherish justice and to exercise charity. Finally, 
the Prophet Habakkuk expressed them all in a 
single formula : " The just man lives by his faith." 
This was the first attempt to reduce the whole Law 
of Israel to principles. A beautiful parable, in which 
Simlai indicates the part played by every nation in 
the history of the world, affords evidence both of 
the wide extent of his views and of his poetical 

Possessed of a profound knowledge of the Scrip- 
ture, and gifted with an elevated mind, Simlai was 
especially qualified to enter into discussion with the 
Fathers of the Church, and to shake the arguments 
which they drew from the Old Testament in support 
of the dogmas of Christianity. In these discussions 
Simlai gave evidence of a sound exegesis, free from 
misinterpretations, During the time of the first 


generation of Amoraim, Christianity had entered 
upon a new stage ; in opposition to the tendency of 
the primitive Christians (Ebionites and Nazarenes), 
a universal Catholic Church had come into existence, 
whose fundamental doctrines (dogmas), collected 
from all quarters, some Pauline, others anti-Pauline, 
others heathen, were generally assented to by the 
majority of Christians. The various sects of primi- 
tive Christians and Gnostics were vanquished, 
being either embodied in the incorporated Catholic 
Church or rejected as heretical. This creation of 
a Catholic Church and the unification of the Chris- 
tian religion, accomplished in the midst of all this 
diversity and schism, were largely brought about 
by the Bishops of Rome. These arrogated to them- 
selves, on the strength of their seat in the capital of 
the world, the supremacy over all the other bishops 
and patriarchs, expelled them from the community 
for unorthodox opinions (as in the case of the dis- 
cussion concerning the celebration of the Passover), 
and gradually obtained recognition as chief-bishops 
and Popes. After the completion of this work the 
spirit of research also made its appearance among 
the Christians, and the traditions of the Church were 
subjected to a thorough investigation. 

New dogmas had made their appearance, which 
the authorities sought to establish and secure. The 


rigid doctrine of the Unity of God, derived by 
Christianity from the parent religion, had in course 
of time, and in proportion as the new Church glori- 
fied the Messiahship of Jesus, given rise to a doc- 
trine of duality : Father and Son, or the Creator 
of the World, and the Logos. To these was soon 
added a third. The primitive Jewish view of the 
inspiration by God of the Prophets and other pious 
persons, which was, in this signification, characterized 
as holy inspiration (Ruach-ha-Kodesh), crystallized in 
Christianity into the dogma of the Holy Ghost con- 
sidered as a person, and regarded as an equality with 


God and Christ and as having originally co-existed 
with them. Without being aware of the fact, Christi- 
anity, which considered itself a truly spiritual and 
refined Judaism, had adopted an entirely different idea 
of God, in fact, a sort of tritheism. The more the 
Christian dogma of the Trinity was at variance with 
the very essence of Judaism, the more trouble was 
taken to establish that it was supported by the Old 
Testament, in order to give it thus the stamp of 
antiquity. This proof, however, was not to be fur- 
nished by straightforward means, and thus the 
Fathers of the Church of the Palestinean and Alex- 
andrian schools, being acquainted with Hebrew, 
were obliged to take refuge in all sorts of allegorical 
interpretations. Wherever the Scriptures contained 
several denominations for God, they professed to 
see an indication of the Trinity in the letter of the 
text itself. Even the simple opening words of the 
Pentateuch, " In the beginning God created heaven 
and earth," were interpreted by this Christology in 
proof of Christ's co-operation in the creation of the 
world ; for " the beginning " was interpreted to mean 
"wisdom," or the "Word" (Logos), being synony- 
mous with Christ, and this sentence was thus found 
to contain the profound secret that " God created 
the world in Christ " ! As long as the leading spirits 
of Christianity remained ignorant of the Hebrew 
sources, they were not in a position to hold any 
serious conference on matters of religion. It was 
only when the Fathers of the Church applied them- 
selves, like Origen, to the acquirement of a clearer 
Hebrew text, that polemical discussions on Christo- 
logical themes became more frequent. 

Simlai, in particular, defended the doctrine of the 
unity of God against the Christian dogma of the 
Trinity, and adduced the proofs for his contention 
with consummate skill. His opponent in this theo- 
retical dispute was perhaps Origen, who was for a 
long time a resident in Palestine. By the help of a 


sober method of interpretation Simlai established the 
fact that all the passages of the Holy Scripture 
which appear to afford an argument in support of 
the Trinity, in reality bring out and emphasize so 
strongly the unity of God, that any misconception 
appears impossible. Jew and Christian who, like 
quarrelsome brothers, had cherished feelings of 
animosity to each other during the time they had 
lived under one roof, now contented themselves with 
carrying on religious controversies. 

The attacks upon Christianity during this period 
had the effect of producing a certain acquaintance 
with Jewish literature even in the heathens, who 
turned it to account in their efforts to restrain the 
growth of Christianity. In Daniel, the Christian 
dogmatists had discovered a Sibylline book, with 
vague insinuations and mystic numbers, which they 
contended contained prophecies relating to the 
Christian economy and to the appearance of Christ 
on the Day of Judgment. In opposition to these 
views the heathen philosopher Porphyry wrote a 
polemical commentary on the book of Daniel, which 
is certainly the only Biblical commentary composed 
by a heathen. This neo-Platonist, who- was pos- 
sessed of moderate but mystic views, bore the ori- 
ental name of Malchus, and was a native of Batanea, 
formerly a Jewish province. He asserted in his 
commentary that the book of Daniel is the work of 
an author who lived during the time of the persecu- 
tion of Judaism and the Jews by the Syrian monarch, 
Antiochus Epiphanes, and that the ambiguous ex- 
pressions in which it abounds are only allusions to 
that period, and in nowise prophecies, still less orac- 
ular proofs of the facts of Christianity. 



Increasing importance of the Jewish Community in Babylonia The 
Prince of the Captivity The Babylonian Amoraim Abba Areka 
(Rab) and his royal friend Artaban Samuel and King Shabur 
Important Political Changes under the Neo-Persians Anarchy 
in Rome Zenobia and the Jews. 

219 279 c. E. 

DURING the Patriarchate of Judah II. many import- 
ant events occurred in the Jewish community of 
Babylonia, which contributed to place that country 
in the foreground of Jewish history. After the loss 
of their mother, the children of Israel had found a 
second in Babylonia, and had never yet experienced 
a stepmother's treatment at her hands. Babylonia, 
the Italy of the East, whose capital had in ancient 
times, like Rome, first been the ruler of the world, 
and then the point of attack of uncivilized tribes in 
their migrations ; whose name still exercises a cer- 
tain magic in the distance, even after its fall ; Baby- 
lonia, which had already been the temporary abode 
of the Jewish race, now became for a long period 
the permanent scene of Jewish activity. Judaea, on 
the other hand, gradually fell into the background. 
The peculiar formation of the country between the 
Euphrates and the Tigris facilitated the separation 
of Judaism from its primitive scene of action, and 
brought about the transplantation of Jewish genius 
into a foreign zone ; by reason of the abundant op- 
portunities of employment which the land afforded, 
similar to those to which they had been accustomed, 
it became a second fatherland for the homeless 
nation. The great number of the Jews who had in- 


habited this district time out of mind ; their inde- 
pendence, which had suffered no restraint at the 
hands of the Parthian and Persian rulers ; the luster 
imparted to their situation by the possession of a 
political chief ; their inherent, self-contained vitality, 
unweakened by suffering and petty annoyances, all 
these things contributed to invest their character with 


a peculiar quality and to further the evolution of 
new parts and tendencies. The sojourn in Baby- 
lonia imbued the Jewish mind with that particular 
form of keen intelligence which discovers an answer 
to every question, a solution to every riddle, and is 
discouraged by no difficulties. The Jews of this 
country acquired studious, plodding, energetic 
habits ; the successive leaders and principals of the 
schools showed them the paths of profound wisdom 
and impressed on them the seal of elevated thought. 
The word Babylonia, as used in Jewish history, is 
capable of a broad and a narrow interpretation, and 
possesses, in fact, three different meanings. In the 
broadest sense in which it occurs it includes the 
whole district between the Zagros mountains and 
the Euphrates, from the sources of the twin-river 
Tigris-Euphrates to the Persian Gulf. In a narrower 
sense it signifies the strip of land enclosed between 
the two rivers, where their beds begin to converge 
towards each other and at last actually unite, and 
where numerous canals formerly intersected the 
country and connected their streams : the southern 
part of Mesopotamia, the ancient province of Babel, 
and a portion of the former kingdom of Chaldaea. 
Babylonia, as understood in this narrow sense, was 
principally inhabited by Jews, and for this reason 
was also known by the name of " the land of Israel." 
Finally, in its most limited sense, Babylonia desig- 
nates a small district on the eastern bank of the 
Euphrates, of which the center-point seems to have 
been the town of Pumbeditha. This district extends 
from Nahardea in the north to Sora in the south, a 


distance of twenty-two parasangs (sixty-eight miles). 
The fixing of the boundaries of Jewish Babylonia is 
not a matter of indifference for history, as in former 
times it constituted a matter of conscience. Even 
in Judaea the natives of Babylonia of Jewish origin 
were admitted to possess the most unsullied purity 
of descent, and to have refrained from all inter- 
course with heathens, slaves, or persons born out 
of wedlock ; Judaea was far behind Babylonia in this 
respect. An old proverb says : " In the matter of 
descent, the Jewish population of the (Roman) 
countries is to that of Judaea, as adulterated dough 
is to pure meal, but Judaea itself is only as dough 
when compared with Babylonia." 

The Jewish province in Babylonia was divided into 
several smaller districts, each of which was known 
by the name of its capital. Thus there existed the 
districts of Nares, Sora, Pumbeditha, Nahardea, 
Nahar-Pakod, Machuza, and some others, all of 
them possessed of some characteristic, such as a pecu- 
liar dialect, or particular customs or manners, or 
even distinct weights and measures. Four of these 
towns were distinguished as prominent centers, 
each having in turn been at the head of the entire 
province. The first place was occupied by Na- 
hardea (also called Naarda, of which name there 
were both a town and a district); this was a fortified 
city situated on the Euphrates and a canal called 
the Naraga, and was entirely inhabited by Jews ; it 
lay on the boundary-line of Jewish Babylonia. Dur- 
ing a certain period Nahardea was a Babylonian 
Jerusalem ; here were situated, in the time of 
the continuance of the Temple, the treasure- 
chambers of the Babylonian communities for 
the reception of the gifts to the Temple, which 
it was customary to convey to Jerusalem under 
a strong escort. A few miles to the south of 
Nahardea lay Firuz-Shabur (afterwards Anbar), a 
fortified and thickly-populated town, and the most 


important in the country after Ctesiphon, the 

Near by lay Pumbeditha, situated on one of the 
numerous canals of the Euphrates, and adorned 
with many palaces. Pumbeditha was none the less 
a thoroughly Jewish town, with a Jewish congrega- 
tion, and was regarded as the capital of Jewish 
Babylonia. Within its territory lay several smaller 
towns and fortified castles, which nestled in the 
shadow of the capital. The inhabitants of Pum- 
beditha were considered acute and cunning, and 
were even notorious for their deceit and dishonesty. 
" If a man of Pumbeditha accompany thee," said a 
proverb, " change thy lodging." 

Sixteen geographical miles (twenty-two para- 
sangs) south of Pumbeditha was situated the town 
of Mata-Mechassia. It lay on the shore of a broad 
lake, Sora, which was in reality the Euphrates, 
widening out over the low-lying country ; from its 
position on this lake the town also derived the 
name of Sora. It was inhabited by a mixed popu- 
lation of Jews and heathens. The region round 
Sora was one of the most fruitful parts of the whole 
country ; by reason of its low situation it was 
inundated every year by the Euphrates and its 
tributaries and canals, and the overflow produced 
an Egyptian fertility. Pumbeditha was distinguished 
for its magnificent buildings and the cunning of 
its population, while Mata-Mechassia was noted for 
the poverty and honesty of its inhabitants. A 
proverb expresses this contrast in the following 
words : It is better to live on the dunghills in 
Mechassia than in the palaces of Pumbeditha." 

With these three towns of the Euphrates, Na- 
hardea, Pumbeditha, and Mata-Mechassia, a fourth 
contested the supremacy : this was Machuza, situ- 
ated on the Tigris, at a distance of hardly twelve 
miles from Ctesiphon, the capital of the Parthians. 
Machuza, also called Machuza-Malka, from the 


King's Canal (Nahar Malka) which flows in prox- 
imity to the Tigris, was situated on an eminence, 
and was fortified with two strong walls and a moat. 
Close by stood a castle, called Akra di Coche, 
which served as a bulwark to the capital, Ctesiphon. 
In spite of the importance which Machuza and its 
castle must have possessed for the Parthian and Per- 
sian rulers, it was, nevertheless, entirely inhabited 
by Jews, and an Amora expressed his surprise that 
the gates of its fortress were not provided with 
the prescribed Mezuzas. 

The most noted families of Machuza were de- 
scended from proselytes, for which reason their 
features differed from those of the remainder of 
the Jewish population of Babylonia. They are 
described as having been very frivolous, addicted to 
pleasure and good cheer, and more devoted to the 
affairs of this world than to those of the next ; 
they were called on this account " candidates for 
hell." It is related of the women of Machuza that 
they indulged in pleasure and idleness. Once, 
when a Palestinean teacher of the Law brought 
from Judaea to Nahardea a Halacha allowing 
women to wear golden head-bands set with 
precious stones on the Sabbath, it was remarked 
that only four-and-twenty women in that town 
availed themselves of this permission, while in 
one quarter alone of Machuza there were eighteen 
who appeared with most costly head-bands. The 
proximity of Ctesiphon, and its wealth, had probably 
some influence on the luxurious propensities and 
the manners of the inhabitants of Machuza. This 
city also, which was the residence of the king, and 
the newly-built town of Ardashir, which lay close 
by, were thickly populated with Jews. The entire 
district of Babylonia, with its numerous canals, 
resembled an island, and its wonderful fertility 
made of the whole country one extensive garden. 
There was so great a multitude of date plantations 


that it used to be said proverbially of the Baby- 
lonians : "A basketful of dates for a denar, and yet 
they do not apply themselves to the study of the 
Law ! " 

The occupations followed by the Babylonian 
Jews were agriculture, trades of all descriptions, 
and, what is of course natural in a country depen- 
dent on its