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A. When Simon was vifiting the Cities, and giving Orders for their Welfare, one Ptolemeus, who was his Son-in-law, invited him and his Sons to a Banquet at Jericho, and flew Simon, with two of his Sons, in order to get the Government of the Country into his own Hands: and fent privately to kill John also.
61 Q. Did Ptolemeus fucceed in this his Treachery and murderous Enterprize?
A. John having got timely Notice of it, flew the Affaffins, and was invefted with the High Priefthood and the Government, after his Father.
Note, Here ends that excellent History, the first Book
of the Maccabees. The following Part of this Account of the Jewsis borrowed chiefly from Jofephus, who ufually calls John by the Surname of Hyrcanus.
Sect. VII. Of the Jewish Affairs under the Conduct of the Pofterity and Succeffors of SIMON the MACCABEE; and of the feveral Sects among the Jews, namely, Pharifees, Sadducees, Effenes, Herodians, Karaites.
A. Antiochus Sidetes, being informed of the Death of Simon, and being invited by Ptolemeus, invaded Judea again, befieged Jerufalem, and reduced Hyrcanus and the Jews to the laft Extremity by Famine: But when they fued for Peace, he granted it, upon Condition of paying certain Tributes to the King, and demolishing the Fortifications of Jerusalem.
Note, About this Time Jefus, the Son of Syrach, a Jew of Jerufalem, coming into Egypt, tranflated the Book of Ecclefiafticus, written by Jefus his Grand
father, out of Hebrew into Greek, for the Use of the Hellenistic Jews there. The Ancients called it Panareton, or "the Treafury of all Virtue."
2Q. How did the Affairs of the Jews fucceed under Hyrcanus?
A. A few Years afterward he took Advantage of the vaft Confusions that enfued among the Naitions, upon the Death of Antiochus, to enlarge his Borders, by feizing fome neighbouring Townson feveral Sides of Judea, and to renounce all his Dependence upon the Kings of Syria.
3 Q. Was he supported therein by any foreign Powers?
A. He renewed the League of Friendship which his Father Simon had made with the Romans, who were then growing to their Grandeur; and they ordered that he fhould be freed from the late im*posed Tribute, and that the Syrians fhould make Reparation for the Damages they had done him.
4 Q. In what Manner did Hyrcanus deal with the Edomites, or Idumeans, who were on the South of Judea ?
1. He constrained them to embrace the Jewish Religion, or to leave their Country; whereupon they chose to forfake their Idolatry, and became Profelytes to Judaifm, and were mingled and incorporated with the Jews; and, by this Means, in less than two hundred Years, their very Name was loft.
Note, In Defence of this Practice of Hyrcanus, among the Idumeans, which feems to be so contrary to the Laws of Nature and Scripture, it may be faid that at this Time thefe Edomites had encroached on the Land of Judea, and inhabited all the South Part of it: So that Hyrcanus, in banishing those who would not become Jews, did but difpoffefs them of that Country which was given to the Jews by
God himself. Yet, it must be confeffed, by this
5 Q. How did he treat the Samaritans on the North, when his Power was thus increased?
A. He' matched with his Army, and took Shechem, which was then the chief Seat of the Samaritan Sect; and he deftroyed their Temple on Mount Gerizim, which Sanballat had built; though they continued still to keep an Altar there, and to offer Sacrifices.
6Q. How came Shechem to be their chief Seat, inftead of Samaria?
A. They were expelled from Samaria, by Alexander, for killing one of his Deputy-Governors in a Tumult; and they, retiring to Shechem, made that their chief Seat; while Alexander repeopled Samaria with Heathens of the Syrian and Macedonian-Race.
7Q. Did Hyrcanus extend his Power farther Con that Side of the Country?
4. He befieged Samaria, and took it, and utterly demolished it; he not only ruled in Judea, but in Galilee alfo, and the neighbouring Towns: He became one of the most confiderable Princes of his Age, and preferved the Jewish Church and State in Safety from their Enemies, throughout a long Government.
98 Q. What other remarkable Actions are afcribed to Hyrcanus?
A. He was esteemed a Prophet for one or two notable Predictions, or Knowledge of Things done at a Diftance. He built the Caftle Baris, on a fteep Rock, fifty Cubits high, without the outer Square of the Temple, but on the fame Mountain :
This was the Palace of all the Afmonean Princes in Jerufalem; and here the facred Robes of the High Prieft were always laid up when they were not in Ufe.
9 Q. What Ufe was afterwards made of this Caftle?
A. Herod new built it, and made it a very strong Fortress, to command both the City and the Temple; and called it Antonia, in Honour of his great Friend Mark Antony of Rome: He raised it fo high, that he might fee what was done in the Temple, and fend his Soldiers in cafe of any Tumult. Here the Romans kept a strong Garrison, and the Governor of it was called Captain of the Temple, Acts xxi. 31.
Note, It was from this Place the Centinel spying the Jews ready to kill Paul, gave Notice to the Governor, or chief Captain, who went down immediately with fome Soldiers into the Court of the Gentiles, whither they had dragged St Paul to kill him, and rescued him, and brought him up the Stairs into this Caftle; and it was upon these Stairs that Paul obtained Leave to speak to the People, Acts xxi. 26, &c.
10Q. What Troubles did Hyrcanus meet with toward the End of his Life?
A. His Title to the High Priefthood was unjuftly called in Queftion by a bold Man among the Pharifees; and, being craftily impofed upon to think it the Opinion of all that Party, he haftily renounced that Sect, for which he had before the greatest Value; he abolished their Conftitutions, and falling in with the Sect of the Sadducees, loft his Efteem and Love among the common People.
11 Q. Since you mention the Sect of the Pharifees here, pray let us know what were the chief Sects among the Jews?
A. About this Time, the most confiderable Sects were the Pharifees, the Sadducees, and the Effenes; though in the next Century arose alfo the Herodians; and fome hundred of Years after was a Sect called the Karaites.
12 Q. What peculiar Opinions were held by the Pharifees?
A. The most diftinguishing Character of this Sect, was their Zeal for the Traditions of the Elders; for while they acknowledged the Writings of Mofes and the Prophets to be divine, they pretended that thefe Traditions alfo were delivered to Mofes on Mount Sinai; and conveyed down, without Writing, through the several Generations of the Jews, from Father to Son: And by Reason of their Pretences to a more ftrict and rigorous Obfervance of the Law, according to their Tra- ditions, which they fuperadded to it, they looked on themselves as more holy than other Men, and they were called Pharifees, that is, Persons separated from others.
Note, Thefe were the Perfons who had fo much cor-1 rupted the Law in our Saviour's Time, and made it void by their Traditions: Yet their Doctrines generally prevailed among theScribes and the Lawyers, who were Writers and Explainers of the Law; and the Bulk of the common People had them in high Efteem and Veneration, fo that they were the most numerous of any Sect.
13 Q. Is the Sect of the Pharifees ftill in being? A. The prefent Religion of the Jews, in their feveral Difperfions (except among the few Karaites) is wholly formed and practifed according to the Traditions of the Pharifees, rather than according to the Law and Prophets: So that they have corrupted the old Jewish Religion, in the fame Manner as the Papifts have the Chriftian.
14 Q. What