Immagini della pagina

even to lodge in Cæsar's own palace; for he received them with great kindness, and allowed Herod to give his kingdom to whichever of his sons he pleased. He also bestowed Trachon, Batanea, and Auranitis, on him on the following occasion. One Zenodorus, a famous robber in that country, mentioned by Strabo, had hired what was called the house of Lysanias. Not being satisfied with its revenues, he entered into partnership with the robbers inhabiting the Trachones, and thus procured for himself a larger income. The inhabitants of those districts led an irregular life, and pillaged the country of the Damascenes. Zenodorus did not restrain them, but shared the booty. When these transactions were laid before Cæsar, he directed Varro to destroy those haunts of banditti, and give the land to Herod, that by his care the neighbourhood might no longer be disturbed. These habits of robbery had been so long in use, that it was not easy to restrain them. Having neither city nor lands of their own, but only some retreats and caves, where they and their cattle lived in common, they had no other means of subsist

But they had made contrivances to get pools of water, constructed granaries for corn, and were capable of a fierce resistance, by sudden sallies against invaders. The entrances of their subterranean dens also were too narrow for more than one to enter at a time, and the interior very large and wide. The ground over their dwellings was not very high, but rather on a plain. The rocks were difficult of access, and the proper road scarcely to be found without a guide, on account of its intricacy. When Herod had received this grant from Cæsar, he procured experienced guides, arrested the robbers in their career, and restored the peaceable inhabitants of the neighbourhood to quiet.


When Herod had reigned seventeen years, Cæsar came into Syria. At this time the inhabitants of Gadara were almost universally clamorous against Herod for the severity of his injunctions and his tyranny. They were encouraged in these complaints by Zenodorus, who swore he would never desist till he had separated them from Herod's kingdom, and united them to Cæsar's province. The Gadarens became the more bold, because those who had been delivered up by Agrippa had not been punished by Herod, but dismissed without harm. It was a strong peculiarity in Herod's character, that he was inexorably severe in his inflictions on the criminals of his own family, but generous in remitting the offences of strangers. While they accused Herod of injuries, of robbery, and of sacrilege, he stood unconcerned, and ready to enter on his defence. Cæsar gave him his right hand, and abated not his kindness on this disturbance from the multitude. These allegations were brought forward on the first day, but the hearing proceeded no further. The Gadarens saw the temper of Cæsar and his assessors, and naturally expected to be delivered up to the king. So great was their dread of torture, that some cut their own throats in the night, others threw themselves down precipices, and others cast themselves into the river. This self-destruction was taken as self-condemnation of their rashness, and the crimes they had committed. Cæsar lost no time in publicly acquitting Herod. Another lucky accident at this time contributed to aggrandise Herod. Zenodorus died of hæmorrhage, at Antioch in Syria. Cæsar bestowed his country, of considerable extent, on Herod. It lay between Trachon and Galilee, containing Ulatha, Paneas, and the adjoining country. He also made him one of the procurators of Syria, and commanded that nothing should be done without his approbation. In short, he arrived at such a height of prosperity, that at a time when there were but two men who governed the vast Roman empire, first, Cæsar, and then his principal favourite Agrippa, Cæsar preferred no one but Agrippa to Herod; and Agrippa entertained more friendship for Herod than for any one but Cæsar.

The rebuilding of the temple is attended with many difficulties. Herod is stated to have taken away the old foundations, and to have laid others on which he erected the temple, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits, which twenty, upon the sinking of their foundations, fell down. Some architects have supposed Josephus to mean, that the entire foundations of the holy house sunk to the depth of no less than twenty cubits. This is impossible, when we consider that the temple stood on a rocky mountain. Neither the expression nor the subject is very clear ; but we must suppose that the foundations which sunk were those of the additional twenty cubits only ; or rather, as in modern architecture we do not comprehend the laying of second foundations on a superstructure already erected, that the cubits themselves above the hundred fell down in consequence of being made purposely weak not to be too heavy for the building, and merely for show and grandeur.

Agrippa's preparation for building the minor parts of the temple twenty cubits higher, mentioned by Josephus in another passage, must in all probability refer to this accident, as he says, in the passage now under consideration, that what had fallen down in Herod's time they resolved to raise again in the days of Nero. Now it was under Nero that Agrippa made his preparation. Josephus is not unfrequently obscure, from inaccuracy of expression, which is naturally to be expected from a person writing in a foreign language. A little farther on he calls Solomon the first king of the Jews. It

It appears from other passages, in which he is more careful, that he meant no more than that he was the first of David's posterity, and the first builder of the temple.

It was in the sixteenth year of his reign that Herod rebuilt the temple, and encompassed a piece of land about it with a wall, which land was twice as large as that before enclosed.

After many family quarrels, Herod was reconciled to his sons by the feeling conduct of Alexander, on his trial for treason against Cæsar, on the accusation of Antipater. The young man could scarcely speak for grief: but though he was in danger, both from the craft of his half-brother and the rash folly of Herod, he modestly avoided laying any imputation on his father, but with great force of reasoning refuted the calumnies vented against himself. He demonstrated the innocence of his own brother, who was involved in the same danger. He then bewailed the malice and treachery of Antipater, and the disgrace he had brought on the whole family. But this reinstatement of family good understanding endured not; for Antipater by his flatteries could make Herod do what he pleased. His influence could prevail even when that of


his sister Salome was ineffectual. To her, indeed, he ultimately behaved with much harshness. Cæsar's wife, Julia, had inspired her with a strong inclination to marry Sylleus the Arabian, and she applied with earnestness to Herod for his consent. He swore he would esteem her as his bitterest enemy, unless she would give up that project. Not content with this, he married her, against her own will, to his friend Alexas, and made one of her daughters marry the son of Alexas, and the other he gave to Antipater's uncle by the mother's side. But there was no end to these family feuds. Pheroras was obstinate in retaining his wife, a woman of low family, and refused to marry one nearly related to Herod, though he so earnestly desired it. That wife's admission to the counsels of the principal ladies about the court is not easily to be reconciled with Herod's open importunity as to the divorce of Pheroras, and his subsequent marriage. The most plausible account to be given of this, as represented by Josephus, is by presuming Pheroras's belief, and Herod's suspicion, that the prediction of the Pharisees would prove true. The purport of it was, that the crown of Judea should be translated from Herod to the posterity of Pheroras : he probably believed, and Herod feared, that the posterity signified was to descend from his actual, and not from a future wife. In debating this question, Herod told Pheroras he would give him his choice of two things ; to be on good terms with himself as a brother, or with his wife. Pheroras answered, he would rather die than forsake his wife. Herod knew not what more to do. He directed his speech to Antipater, and charged him to have no intercourse either with the wife of Phe

« IndietroContinua »