Immagini della pagina

man, alarmed at the increasing influence of the family, corrupted the butler of Hyrcanus to administer poison.

When Antipater's sons, Herod and Phasael, were acquainted with this conspiracy, they were violently incensed. Malichus disclaimed any knowledge of the murder. Herod resolved immediately to revenge his father's death, and was coming on Malichus with an army for that purpose. Phasael, the elder of Antipater's sons, thought it better to get this man into their hands by policy, and thus avoid the appearance of beginning a civil war in the country. On his own part, therefore, he accepted the denial, and affected to believe that Malichus had no hand in his father's death. He erected a splendid monument to Antipater. Herod went to Samaria, and finding them in great distress, he revived their spirits, and composed their differ


At the feast of Pentecost, he returned to Jerusalem, after sending his armed men before him. Hyrcanus, at the request of the terrified Malichus, forbade foreigners to mix themselves with the people of the country, during the purification. Herod despised that subterfuge, and came in by night. Malichus came to him, and bewailed Antipater. Herod pretended to believe his lamentation real, though he had much difficulty to suppress his angry feelings. He wrote a melan- : choly letter to Cassius, who hated Malichus for other reasons.

Cassius returned an answer, giving him authority to avenge his father's death, and sent private directions to the tribunes under him, to assist Herod in a righteous action he was undertaking. He put Malichus to death.


Herod ejected Antigonus out of Judea, and took from Marion what he had gained in Galilee. He dismissed the Tyrian garrison with civility, and made presents to some of the soldiers; but he bore no good will to the city. On his arrival at Jerusalem, Hyrcanus and the people put garlands about his head. He had already contracted an alliance with the family of Hyrcanus, by having espoused a descendant of his; and for that reason Herod took the greater care of him, as being to marry the daughter of Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, and the grand-daughter of Hyrcanus, by which wife he became the father of three male, and two female children. At this time, some principal men among the Jews, went into Bithynia, to accuse Phasael and Herod. They said that Hyrcanus was nominally king, but that these men had all the power. Antony paid great respect to Herod, who came to defend himself against his accusers. So entirely had Herod gained Antony's favour by bribery, that his opponents could not obtain a hearing. And here it is to be noticed, that when ever any party among the Jews gained the Romans to its side, or whenever any decree was obtained in their favour as a nation, all-powerful money purchased the restoration of the right, the grant of the privilege, or inclined the balance of partisanship. Josephus furnishes many examples of this in various parts of his history. All in authority, whether Romans or others, considered the Jews as peculiarly marked out for pillage : 66 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom.” — Acts, chap. xxii. St. Paul's ancestors probably purchased the like freedom for their family by. money.

Herod and his partisans were again accused by the most powerful of the Jews, to the number of a hundred. The most eloquent among them were commissioned to speak. But Messala contradicted them, on behalf of the young men, in presence of Hyrcanus, of whom Josephus speaks as Herod's father-in-law. In respect to this term, it is to be observed, that espousals alone were anciently esteemed a sufficient ground of affinity. Hyrcanus is called father-in-law to Herod, because his granddaughter Mariamne was betrothed to him, though the marriage was not completed till four years afterwards. Antony was then at Daphne, and heard both sides. He asked Hyrcanus, who governed the nation best? He replied, Herod and his friends. Hereupon Antony, on account of his reciprocal hospitality on the classical footing with Antipater, when he was with Gabinius, made Herod and Phasael tetrarchs, committed the public concerns of the Jews to their care, and wrote letters of confirmation. He bound fifteen of their opponents, and was going to kill them; but Herod interceded for their pardon. It has been before observed, that Antony was corrupted by the money which Herod and his brother had given him. He therefore gave orders to the governor of the place to punish the Jewish ambassadors who were given to innovation, and to settle the government upon Herod, who went out to them in haste, with Hyrcanus, for they were standing on the shore before the city. He charged them to depart, denouncing much mischief if they proceeded with their accusation. But his warning was vain. Consequently, the Romans ran upon them with their daggers, slaying some, and wounding more: the rest ran home and hid themselves, in great consternation. When the people made a clamour against Herod, Antony was so enraged at it that he slew the prisoners.

Herod had much difficulty in escaping the snares of the Parthians. The butler, who in those days seems to have been synonymous with the murderer, was sent against Herod. He had it in command to get him beyond the walls of the city, and to seize upon him. But messengers had been sent by Phasael to inform Herod of the Parthian treachery. When he knew that the enemy had seized on him and Hyrcanus, he went to Pacorus, and to the most powerful of the Parthians, as to the lords of the rest. They dissembled their knowledge of the affair, and asked him to go out with them before the walls, and meet those who were bringing him his letters; for they were not taken by his adversaries, but were coming to give him an account of the good success Phasael had met with. Herod did not credit what they said, for he had heard that his brother was seized upon by others also. The grand-daughter of Hyrcanus, whom he had espoused, also warned him not to credit them. This made him still more suspicious of the Parthians; for though other people esteemed her but lightly, he held her to be a woman of great wisdom. Now as Pacorus and his friends were considering how they might bring their plot to bear privately, because it was not possible to succeed against a man of so great prudence by an open attack, Herod was much disturbed in mind, and more disposed to believe the reports he heard about his brother and the Parthians, than to give heed to what was said on the other side. He therefore determined, that as night came on, he

would make use of it for his flight, taking with him the persons most nearly related to him, without their enemies being apprised of it, and not make any longer delay, as if the danger were still uncertain. His mind was superior to the fear natural to so hazardous a condition, and his courage

increased with his difficulties. As he passed along he cheered his companions, and entreated them not to abandon themselves to sorrow, as it would destroy the only hope they had in flight. Malchus, king of Arabia, refused to receive him, but soon repented, and came after him, but without success. Herod had advanced into the road to Pelusium ; and when the stationary ships there hindered him from sailing to Alexandria, he went to their captains, who had great reverence and regard for him. By their assistance he was conducted into the city of Alexandria, and re. tained there by Cleopatra. Yet she was not able to prevail with him to stop, because he was hurrying to Rome, notwithstanding the stormy weather; for he was informed that the state of Italy was very tumultuous, and its affairs in great disorder. Cleopatra had hoped he might be persuaded to be commander of her forces, in the expedition she was planning, but he rejected her solicitations. He landed at Brundusium, or Brentesium, or Bgevono lw as it stands on some coins.

Antony felt compassion for the reverses of Herod's fortunes. Reflecting that this was the common fate of those who are placed in high stations, and that they are liable to sudden changes, he was ready to give him the assistance he desired. He called to mind how hospitably he had been treated by Antipater, and Herod's extraordinary virtue in


« IndietroContinua »