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After the banishment of Archelaus Judea was annexed to Syria ; but whilst Herod was living, the president of Syria had not any proper authority in Judea. The president of Syria was always the most considerable officer in the eastern part of the empire. When the Romans had any wart in that part of the world, the neighbouring kings were obliged to follow bis directions; to furnish those sums of money, or those troops, which he required, and to scud these to the places he appointed. When any differences happened between these kings and tetrarchs, they were bound to refer them to bim, nor could they march any forces out of their territories without his consent: but he seems not, especially in a time of peace, to have had any proper authority within their dominions.
Nor do I think 1 here impute to Tertullian any very gross mistake. The state of dependent kingdoms and provinces in the Roman empire underwent frequent changes, and a person had need to have made history his peculiar study, and to have aimed at some uncommon accuracy, in order to understand the state of the Roman provinces for a couple of centuries.
I have now gone through all the difficulties which are of any moment in this point.
I have nothing farther to add to those evidences, which I have already produced, except these two observations : Ist, That it seems to me highly probable, from the manner in which Eusebius speaks of this matter in his Chronicle, that it was originally the common opinion of christians, that Cyrenius was sent into Judea on purpose to make this census; • In the thirty-third year of Herod, Cyrenius being * sent by the Roman senate, made a census (or enrolments) of goods and persons. This does very much confirm the opinion of those learned men, who think that Cyrenius was sent with extraordinary power: though why Eusebius mentions the senate instead of the emperor I know not.
Possibly some may be disposed to set aside Eusebius's authority, because in his Ecclesiastical History he bas confounded the two surveys. But I must confess I ascribe that, not to ignorance, but to somewhat a great deal worse. It is impossible, that a man of Eusebius's acuteness, who had the New Testament and Josephus before bim, should think
'Tum intellecto barbarorum irrisu, qui peterent quod eripuerant, consuluit inter primores civitatis Nero, bellum anceps an pax inhoneta placeret, nec dubitatum de bello-scribitur tetrarchis ac regibus præfectisque ac procuratoribus, -- jussis Corbulonis obsequi. Tacit. Ann. lib. xv. cap. 25.
Chron. p. 76.
a census made after Archelaus's banishment was the same with that made before Herod died; but Eusebius was resolved to have St. Luke's history contirmed by the express testimony of the Jewish historian, right or wrong. Here Eusebius was under a bias. In his Chronicle we have a simple unbiassed account of what was the opinion of christians, and others, at that time.
Secondly, It seems to me in the nature of the thing most probable, that some person was sent with extraordinary power to inake this enrolment. There is no evidence in Josephus, that Augustus had any intention to take away the kingdom from Herod, and make Judea a province. A census in his dominions was a very great disgrace: but to have ordered it to be performed by the president of Syria, would have been an additional ‘affront; it would have looked like making Herod subject to Syria. Since Judea was to continue a distinct kingdom as hitherto, and only to be reduced to a more strict dependence, the only method of making this census could be that of sending sone person of honour and dignity, like Cyrenius, to enrol the subjects of Herod, and value their estates; that, for the future, tribute might be paid according to this census. And this does admirably suit the nature of the oath mentioned in Josephus, the substance of which was, to be faithful to Cæsar and Herod.
I conclude therefore, that it is upon the whole most probable, that the first assessment, of which St. Luke here writes, was performed by Cyrenius, as well as the second. This appears to me a very natural meaning of St. Luke's words, and the external evidences for this supposition seemn to me to outweigh the objections.
We bave now got through the affair of the census. If I have not been so happy as to remove every difficulty attending this text of St. Luke, yet I hope the reader will allow, at least, that I have not concealed or dissembled any.
TWO OBJECTIONS TAKEN FROM THE SILENCE OF JOSEPHUS.
1. He has not mentioned the slaughter of the infants of
Bethlehem : II. Nor of the Galileans, whose blood Pi. late had mingled with their sacrifices.
ST. MATTHEW says, chap. ii. 16, " Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise mnen, was exceedingly wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he bad diligently inquired of the wise men.”
It is objected to this, that if there had been so cruel a slaughter made by Herod, of innocent infants at Bethlehem, a place not far from Jerusalem, it is very unlikely it should have been omitted by Josephus, who bas written the history of the Jews, and particularly of the reign of Herod.
To this I answer: 1. This appears to me to be at the best an objection of a very extraordinary nature. The most exact and diligent historians have omitted many events that happened within the compass of those times of which they undertook to write : nor does the reputation which any one historian has for exactness, invalidate the credit of another, who seems to be well informed of the facts he relates. Suetonius, Tacitus, and Dio Cassius, have all three written of the reign of Tiberius: but it is no objection against the veracity of any one of them, that he has mentioned some things of that emperor, which have been omitted by the rest. No more is it any objection against St. Matthew, that he has related an action of Herod not mentioned by Josephus.
2. There have been as great cruelties committed by many eastern princes; nor was there ever any man more likely than Herod to give the orders here mentioned by St. Matthew. When he had gained possession of Jerusalema by the assistance of the Romans, and his rival Antigonus was taken prisoner, and in the bands of the Roman general Sosius, and by him carried to Mark Antony, Herod by a large sum of money persuaded Antony to put him to death. Herod's great fear was, that Antigonus inight some time
• Joseph. Antiq. lib. xiv. cap. 16. sect. ult.
revive bis pretensions, as being of the Asmonean family. Aristobulus, brother of his wife Mariamne, was murdered by bis directions at eighteen years of age, because the people at Jerusalem had shown some affection for his person. In the seventh year of his reign from the death of Antigonus, he put to death Hyrcanus, grandfather of Mariamne, then eighty years of age, and who had saved Herod's life when he was prosecuted by the sanhedrim; a man, who in his youth and in the vigour of his life, and in all the revolutions of his fortune, had shown a mild and peaceable disposition. His beloved wife, the beautiful and virtuous Mariamne, had a public execution, and her inother Alexandra was put to death soon after. Alexander and Aristobulus, his two sons by Mariamne, were strangled in prison by his order,' upon groundless suspicions, as it seems, when they were at man's estate, were married, and had children. 1 say nothing of the death of his eldest son Antipater : if Josephus's character of bim be just, he was a miscreant, and deserved the worst death that could be inflicted.
In his last sickness, a little before he died, be sent orders throughout Judea, requiring the presence of all the chief men of the nation at Jericho. His orders were obeyed, for they were enforced with no less penalty than that of death. When these men were come to Jericho, he had them all shut up in the Circus, and calling for bis sister Salome, and her husband Alexas, he told them, ' My life is now but short: I know the dispositions of the Jewish people, and nothing will please them more than my death. 'You have • these men in your custody; as soon as my breath is out • of any body, and before my death can be known, do you • let in the soldiers upon them and kill them. All Judea • and every family will then, though unwillingly, mourn at
death Nay, Josephus says, " That with tears in his • eyes be conjured them, by their love to bim, and their
fidelity to God, not to fail of doing him this honour; and • they promised h they would not fail.' These orders indeed were not exed
kecuted ; but, as a modern historian of very good sense observes, “The i history of this • Antiq. I. xv. c. 3. sect. 3. De Bell. 1. i. c. 22.
c Ant. l. xv. c. 6. de Bell. ubi supra.
d Ant. xv. c. 7. sect. 5, 6. e Ibid. sect. 8. Ant. lxvi. c. 11. sect. 6. De Bell. I. i. c. 27. 8 Τους δε τους φρερεμενες ανδρας επειδαν εκπνευσω, ταχισα κτεινατε περιτησαντες τους στρατιωτας, ένα πασα Ιουδαια και πας οικος ακων επ' εμοι δακρυση. De Bell. 11. c. 33. sect. 6.
Β Και ο μεν μετα δακρυων ποτνιωμενος, και τα συγγενες την ευνοιαν και πισιν τα θεια προσκαλων, επεσκηπτε μη ητιμωσθαι αξιων κεκεινοι ωμολογουν B fapaßnocolau. Ant. lib. xvii. cap. 6. sect.
i Prideaux, Conn. Part. ii. p. 655.
• his most wicked design, takes off all objection against the • truth of murdering the innocents, which may be made • from the incredibility of so barbarous and horrid an act. • For this thoroughly shows, that there can nothing be • imagined so cruel, barbarous and horrid, which this man was not capable of doing.'
It may be also proper to observe, that almost all the executions, which I have instanced in, were sacrifices to bis state-jealousy and love of empire. And the slaughter, which St. Matthew has given an account of, was made upon the occasion of tidings brought to Jerusalem, of the birth of one who was “ King of the Jews.”
3. Josephus has given us an account of a terrible execution made in Herod's court, and at Jerusalem, about this very time, upon the occasion of some predictions, that God was about to take away the kingdom from Herod. I think it was made at the very same time with the slaughter of the infants. St. Matthew relates only what was done at Bethlehem, Josephus what happened at Jerusalem. The silence of Josephus about the former, and of St. Matthew about the latter, may be in a good measure accounted for by these two or three considerations.
(1.) St. Matthew was not concerned to relate state matters, but barely to give the history of Jesus Christ; and therefore all that he was obliged to take notice of upon this occasion, was the attempts made upon the life of Jesus. Josephus's is a political history of the Jewish nation, and therefore the executions at court might be more suitable to his design.
(2.) All writers of good sense and candour, who have written the history of such jealous and cruel princes as Herod, have been obliged, both out of a regard to themselves, and their readers, to omit some of their odious and offensive actions, and to pass by some parts or circumstances of those transactions which they mention." And I cannot belp paying a particular respect to the evangelists for the many instances of their candour and goodness, and for this in particular, that none of them strove to brand the memory of Herod, who sought the life of Jesus, with the many cruelties of his reign, or the dreadful circumstances of his death; and that Matthew, who alone has informed us of the murder of the infants, confined his narration to
Neque sum ignarus, a plerisque scriptoribus omissa multorum pericula et pænas, dum copià fatiscunt, aut quæ ipsis nimia et mesta fuerant, ne pari tædio lecturos adficerent, verentur. Tacit. An. I. vi. c. 7.