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Title: Synopsis of Jewish History - From the Return of the Jews from the Babylonish Captivity, to the Days of Herod the Great
Author: Henry, Henry A.
Language: English
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From the Return of the Jews from the Babylonish Captivity,
to the Days of Herod The Great;

Giving an account of the different Sects of those days; the
introduction and use of Synagogues and Schools; the origin and
introduction of Prayer among the Jews; the Ureem and Thumeem;
the Mishna or Oral Law; the Gemara-Completion, usually styled
the Talmud.



Rabbi Preacher of Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco;
Author of Class Book for Jewish youth; of Discourses on the
principles of the belief of Israel, &c., &c.

San Francisco:
Towne & Bacon, Publishers and Printers,
No. 125 Clay Street, corner Sansome.

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year of the World
5619,--1859, by Towne & Bacon,
for the Author, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of
the United States, for the Northern District of California.


The design and purpose of this little production will, at a cursory
glance, be self-evident, so that a formal preface seems scarcely
necessary. We have endeavored to furnish a synopsis of useful
information, selected from the history and teachings of the chosen
people of God, in such a manner as to suit the capacity of all
readers, since it is free from all sectarian bias, and therefore may
prove useful to all denominations.

This work consists of two parts. The first part contains a synopsis of
Jewish history, commencing with the return of the Jews from the
Babylonish captivity, down to the days of Herod the Great. The second
division of the work contains an account of the several sects which
sprang up among the Jews before and after the days of the Maccabees.
We have also given a succinct description of the origin and
introduction of Prayer, of the synagogues and schools, of the Ureem
and Thumeem, of the Mishna or Oral Law, of the Gemara or Completion,
usually styled the Talmud, together with some additional remarks in
the last two chapters under the head of appendix.

Should this unassuming little composition lead the reader to seek a
more extended information on the subjects treated, we shall feel
ourselves happy in having been the means of thus exciting the
curiosity of those who desire to peep a little further into the vast
field of sacred literature, and deem our compensation to be fully

We have compiled in some instances from the writings of others. In
many cases we have also thought for ourselves; but at the same time,
we have embraced the advantages afforded by the writings of others, so
far as we thought them suitable for the undertaking.

In conclusion, we send this work out to the world, such as it is,
aware of its many deficiencies; trusting, at the same time, that
whatever errors may have crept therein will be pointed out by kind
friends, in order to a rectification of the same.

SAN FRANCISCO, February, 1859--5619.



  Of the return of the Jews from the Captivity of Babylon,
  and the rebuilding of the City of Jerusalem and the Holy
  Temple                                                             9


  Of the state of the Jews in the days of Ezra the Scribe           15


  Of the affairs of the Jewish Nation during the days of
  Nehemiah                                                          23


  Of the state of the Jewish Nation under the Persian and
  the Grecian Monarchies                                            37


  Of the affairs of the Jewish Nation under Ptolemy Soter,
  Ptolemy Philadelphus and Ptolemy Philopater, Kings of Egypt       43


  Of the Jewish affairs under Antiochus the Greek, Seleucus,
  and Antiochus Epiphanes, Kings of Syria                           48


  Of the state of the Jewish Nation in the days of Mattathias
  the Priest, the father of the valiant Maccabees                   55


  The Government of the Jewish Nation under the Maccabees, or
  as they were otherwise called, the Asmoneans, this being
  the family name                                                   62


  Of the Jewish affairs under the conduct of the posterity
  and successors of Simon the Maccabee                              79


  Of the Government of Herod the Great and his posterity
  over Israel                                                       96



  The Assideans                                                    111


  The Pharisees                                                    113


  The Sadducees                                                    117


  The Samaritans                                                   120


  The Essenes                                                      123


  The Herodians                                                    125


  The Galileans or Gaulonites                                      127


  The Karayeem or Karaites                                         129


  Of the Synagogues among the Jews                                 133


  Of the origin and introduction of Prayer among the Jews          138


  Of the Ureem and Thumeem                                         147


  Of the Mishna or Oral Law                                        152


  Of the Gemara-Completion, usually styled the Talmud              169


  Appendix                                                         172


      Of the Return of the Jews from the Captivity of Babylon,
      and the Rebuilding of the City of Jerusalem and the Holy

In fulfilment of the prophecies of Jeremiah and the other prophets,
Israel and Judah were carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, king
of Babylon, in the days of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah; and as
predicted by the prophets of the Lord, the bondage continued during
seventy years.

This banishment was inflicted as a just punishment on the people for
their repeated misconduct and impiety towards the Gracious God, and
for their direct opposition to the constant exhortations and unceasing
warnings of the Almighty, through the medium of his inspired and holy

The seventy years of captivity being ended, God put it into the mind
of Cyrus, king of Persia, again to restore Israel to their own land
and possessions, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, which was
pronounced by him above one hundred years previously. Accordingly
Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the
temple. He also restored to them the golden and silver vessels which
were used for divine service in the former temple built by king

Many of the people of the several tribes availed themselves of this
opportunity to return to the land of their fathers--but so far as
history informs us, it appears that the majority of those who returned
to Jerusalem, consisted chiefly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin,
together with a number of Priests and Levites. And now it was for the
first time, that they were all united under the title or name of Jews.

The people were led forth under the direction of Zerubbabel, the
grandson of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, who became the governor of the
land by a commission granted at the hands of king Cyrus; and Jeshua,
the grandson of Seraiah, who was slain by Nebuchadnezzar, was
installed high priest.

The people having returned to their own land, the first thing which
occupied their attention was the rebuilding of the temple, for which
purpose they set about making collections, both of money and
materials, and gathering themselves together at Jerusalem, they set up
the altar, and offered sacrifices thereon in gratitude to God for his
goodness in thus restoring them to their own country and possessions.

When the foundation of the new temple was laid, great rejoicings took
place among the people. Yet, many of those who had grown old in the
captivity, and who still had the recollection of the glory and
magnificence of the first temple, mourned and grieved for its loss,
and very much despaired of the second temple ever approaching the
first, in beauty, splendor, or holiness.

The building of the second temple was very much interrupted by the
neighboring people, who manifested great enmity toward the Jews, and
evinced much jealous feeling, when they saw them restored to their own
country, and thus likely to recover their long lost national position
in the world.

Yet, notwithstanding all the difficulties which presented themselves,
and in spite of all the representations made by their enemies, the
Jews were favored with great assistance from the court of Persia, in
order to complete their noble undertaking. And then it was, that after
a period of twenty years interrupted labor, the second temple rose on
the very same spot on which the first noble fabric had adorned the
happy days of the royal Solomon, the son of king David.

In the days of Darius Hystaspes, complaints were made by the enemies
of the Jews, in order to prevent them from continuing the building of
the temple. This prince, considering the interruption to be the result
of the malicious insinuations of the Samaritans and their followers,
instituted an inquiry, and it being found on record at Babylon that
permission had been granted to the Jews by Cyrus to rebuild the temple
at Jerusalem, Darius immediately gave orders that the work should be
continued undisturbed. And in the sixth year of the reign of Darius,
the second temple was completed, and dedicated for divine worship.
Sacrifices were resumed, and offered upon the altar of the Lord as in
former days. Great rejoicings prevailed, and the festival of Passover
was in that year solemnized in great splendor, and with grateful
feelings toward the God of their fathers.

Happy, however, as the people appeared to be in again beholding the
house of God reared and dedicated to his holy worship, they still felt
and saw the deficiency in the one, when compared with the other; for
it must be observed, that in the second temple but few of the glories
remained which had adorned the first temple, so renowned in history
for its beauty, magnificence, and architectural delicacy and elegance.

The temple erected by king Solomon at Jerusalem, was built after the
model of the tabernacle erected in the wilderness. This superb edifice
was completed in about seven years. Its grandeur and magnificence
excited the envy and the curiosity of all the surrounding nations.

The glory of this temple, however, did not consist in the magnitude of
its dimensions alone. The main grandeur and excellency were in its
ornaments, the workmanship being everywhere curiously and exquisitely
wrought by the most expert workmen of the day. But still more
admirable in this majestic building, were those extraordinary works of
divine favor with which it was honored. These, indeed, were
excellencies and beauties derived from a divine source only,
distinguishing and exalting this sacred structure above all others of
mortal invention.

The deficiencies thus complained of and regretted, were five in
number, which formed the principal and most essential ornaments of the
sacred edifice.

FIRST.--The ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat upon it; the
cherubim of gold, and the two tables of stone, on which the decalogue
was inscribed by the finger of God. These were all in their proper
places in the first temple built by king Solomon. It is the generally
received opinion among the learned men of the Jewish nation, that
there was such an ark made, and that the copy of the five books of
Moses, called the Pentateuch--as corrected and revised by the scribe
Ezra--was deposited therein. Hence, it is in imitation of this, that
in the present day, the Jews have in their synagogues throughout all
the habitable globe wherever dispersed, the holy ark in which the
scroll of the law called in Hebrew "Sepher Torah," book of the law, is

SECOND.--The Shechinah, divine presence manifested by a visible cloud
of glory hovering over the mercy seat.

THIRD.--The Ureem and Thumeem. These were two sacred signs placed in
the breast-plate of judgment worn by the high priest, who made use of
these signs to consult the will of God, and to ask counsel of him on
such momentous occasions touching the public interest of the nation at
large. The first of these words signifies in the Hebrew, light; the
second, perfection. Of these we shall have to speak more fully in the
course of the work.

FOURTH.--The sacred fire which descended from on high upon the altar,
to consume the daily sacrifices and burnt offerings brought in honor
of the Lord God of hosts.

FIFTH.--The spirit of prophecy; for though the three last prophets,
Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi, lived during the time of the second
temple, yet, after their death, the prophetic spirit ceased to exist
any longer among the Jewish nation.


      Of the state of the Jews in the days of Ezra the Scribe.

Henceforward we are not to look on the Jews, free, rich and glorious,
under the direction of Prophets and warlike Monarchs; they had been
sold as slaves by their conquerors, and dispersed throughout all their
vast and mighty Empires. Some few of the favored, eminent and worthy
characters obtained posts of honor, who distinguished themselves in
the discharge of those duties imposed on them in their several
appointments. Of the great number of the people who had been carried
into captivity, scarcely more than fifty thousand returned to
Jerusalem, and those were principally of the poorer classes, who, it
must be noticed, are in all ages the most religious. The richer
portion of the nation remained behind--and, as proverbial with the
Jews for their charity and fellow feeling, they raised among
themselves a subscription sufficient to enable their brethren to
proceed on their holy pilgrimage.

The proposal made to the Jews was, that they should be governed by
their own laws; but as they became subject to Persia, and
subsequently to Syria and Rome, their privileges, and even the
exercise of their religion, greatly depended on the caprice of their
several conquerors. Immediately on the publication of the edict, the
Chief of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Babylon, with
the Priests and Levites; and as many who retained a love for their
country and a zeal for the honor of their God, were disposed to return
to that once happy land, and now came and signified their intention of
returning. The wealthy portion, and many who formed connections with
them, and were engaged in traffic, or had acquired places and
employments, chose rather to stay and content themselves with raising
a large contribution to supply their brethren with what they could
spare of gold, silver, and other valuables for the Temple.

The book of Ezra informs us of the three great and pious men whom God
raised up to assist the poor Jews, and gives us some particulars of
their return to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel, who built the Temple and the
Altar; Ezra, who reformed and re-established the sacred religion to
its former standard, which, during the captivity had undergone many
changes and innovations; as the people were not in a position at that
time fully to observe it, as it was practised in the palmy days of
their Fathers; and Nehemiah, who built the walls of the City, and ably
assisted Ezra in his good work in introducing and ultimately effecting
a great and solid improvement among the people. This book embraces a
period of about one hundred and forty-six years, and the acts thereof
were accomplished during the reigns of six successive Persian
Monarchs, viz: Cyrus, Darius, Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes, Darius the
second, and a second Artaxerxes. About eighty years after their
establishment, Ezra obtained a full commission from Artaxerxes to
succeed Zerubbabel, the present Viceroy, and return to Jerusalem, with
as many of the nation as were willing to go with him; and there to
regulate and reform all matters of State, and restore the worship of
the true God among his people in the city of Jerusalem.

The high reputation of Ezra in the Court of Persia, may be imagined by
the nature of the commission granted to him by the King, who addressed
him as the Priest of the Law of the God of Heaven; and declared to him
as his decree, that whosoever felt desirous to go up to Jerusalem were
permitted to do so freely and safely; and furthermore, that they
should take with them presents direct from the King himself, as a
proof of his sanction and approbation. In the middle of March, about
the year of the World 3540, Ezra set out on his journey, and pitched
his tents on the banks of the river Ahavah, where he waited till his
companions had assembled together, from whom he selected a number of
Priests and Levites to assist him on the journey.

As soon as Ezra had collected about him a large body of people, he
issued a proclamation for a general fast and days of thanksgiving, to
implore the blessing and protection of God. He then proceeded on his
journey, and arrived safely with all his company at Jerusalem in the
middle of the month of July, being about four months after he had set
out for Jerusalem.

Having arrived at Jerusalem, Ezra convened all the Elders of the
people, before whom he laid open his Commission and had it publicly
read to all the people. He then delivered up to the Treasury and the
Priests, all the presents which had been made by the Persian Monarch
and his Nobility; also the presents of those Jews who preferred to
remain at Babylon.

Ezra then appointed Judges and Magistrates, and gave each of them
their Commission, empowering them to enforce the Laws as laid down for
the general government of the people.

Ezra maintained the supreme authority under his Commission from the
Persian Court, during thirteen years, occupying himself with the
faithful discharge of every part of his sacred duty, with unfeigned
and pious zeal and assiduity. And still it seems that Ezra had not
power or influence enough fully to accomplish by himself, his noble
and praiseworthy enterprise.

About this time it was that Nehemiah, of whom we shall speak in the
following Chapter, succeeded Ezra as Governor or Viceroy, and he
brought with him a new Commission, with fresh power and authority from
the Persian Court.

Ezra, now with a graceful and pious condescension, assumed a
subordinate station. He acted as President to the Sanhedrin, the
Grand Council of the Elders, and employed the whole of his time in
reforming the Temple service, which had been sadly abused during the
long captivity, and succeeded in restoring all its former rites and
discipline. He carefully examined all the sacred Books, revised and
corrected them. He then divided and fixed the number of Books to
twenty-four, such as are now in use among the Hebrew Nation, called
the Old Testament. Ezra was learned and well versed in them all; his
high station and authority enabled him to collect the best copies from
which to take the standard. In addition to all this, Ezra being
himself inspired, and zealous in the sacred cause, and favored as he
was with the valuable assistance of the three later Prophets, Haggai,
Zachariah and Malachi, no doubt exists in the hearts of the Jewish
Nation that the Bible now in their possession, is the same which
existed in the days of the great Patriot for his God and his Religion,
the inspired Ezra.

One of the strongest proofs that the Jews are correct in this respect
is, that recent travelers have stated in all their journals, that
wherever they met with Jews and their Synagogues they found a
uniformity in the Scroll of the Law as read in the Jewish Church;
besides, if we take into our consideration that Moses either wrote
himself, or had written, thirteen copies of the Pentateuch, one of
which he gave to each of the twelve Tribes, and the other he deposited
in the Ark to remain there, in obedience to God's command in
Deuteronomy, Chap, xxxi: 26, it is not at all surprising that the
Jews have the original law in their possession, as handed down from
Moses, the Divine Legislator.

When Nehemiah was established in his new Government, Ezra being
relieved from the public duties and affairs of the State, now employed
himself in expounding the Scriptures to the people, from morn till
noon; and that he might be properly heard and understood, he had a
platform fixed in one of the widest streets in the City. Ezra,
himself, was raised upon the middle of the platform, and on each side
of him stood the Priests, who were assistants and interpreters; and as
Ezra read the Law in the Hebrew, the Priests explained it to the
people in the Chaldee language, which had become familiar to them in
consequence of their long sojourn in the great City of Babylon. In
this way it was, that all the people of the Holy City, as well as
those who came from very distant parts, especially on the Festivals
and Holy days, could thus have the Bible and the Law explained to
them, and their duty fully recommended to them every day, or at least
regularly every Sabbath.

It must here be noticed, that all those Jews who had settled
themselves in Alexandria and all the Grecian Provinces, had the Bible
interpreted to them in the Greek language, after that the Bible had
been translated into that language. From this circumstance it arose
that those of the people who used the Greek language in the
Synagogues, were called Hellenists, to distinguish them from those
who continued the use of the Chaldee language.

The last work which Ezra performed, was, the restoring to the people
the sacred service of the Temple, according to the original and usual
form before the captivity. He revised and amended the Jewish Liturgy,
adding many new prayers and forms of Thanksgiving composed since the
return from Babylon, on the blessings of Liberty and freedom from
bondage. This pious and truly religious man composed also the service
used at the dedication of the new Temple; and he carefully arranged
all the Psalms and Hymns chanted on that occasion by the Priests and
the Levites, in the house of God. Many of the prayers above noticed,
are still extant among the Jewish Nation, of which we shall have to
speak in a future Chapter.

Ezra as a Priest, a Preacher of righteousness, and a skilful Scribe of
the Law of God, unweariedly continued the reformation he had begun. He
spent almost the whole of his time in preparing correct editions of
the Holy Scripture--as during the captivity at Babylon, many copies
had been lost, and many of them had been destroyed by the enemy--those
which remained were chiefly in the hands of private individuals. Ezra,
therefore, carefully examined these copies, and corrected those errors
which may have been made, probably through the carelessness of the
various transcribers.

It is stated, that in the Church of Saint Dominic, in Bononia, or
Bologna, in Italy, there is a copy of the Law, kept with great care,
said to be written by Ezra himself, upon leather made up into a roll
according to the ancient manner, and in the same form as used now
among the Israelites of the present day. This very eminent, pious and
good man, may truly be said to be a second founder of the Jewish
Church and State--a character highly esteemed, honored and
beloved--zealous for his God, and anxious only for the happiness and
welfare of his people.

Ezra had now been some years succeeded by his friend and coadjutor
Nehemiah, whom Ezra had originally introduced at the Court of Persia;
and to whom he had rendered every assistance in his power to enable
him to discharge his mission with credit to himself, and satisfaction
to the Government by whom he was engaged.

Ezra continued to employ the remainder of his life in the religious
affairs of his Nation. There is some doubt entertained as to the place
where he died--some suppose that he died and was buried in
Jerusalem--others again assert that in his old age Ezra returned to
the Court of Persia, and died there at the advanced age of one hundred
and twenty years. Ezra brings down the history of his Nation to the
twentieth year of Ahasuerus, the then reigning King of Persia.


      Of the affairs of the Jewish Nation during the days of

This great and good man stands a noble example and instance of a
zealous and disinterested patriot in the cause of religion and its
Divine author.

Nehemiah was the son of Hechaliah, who was one of the captive Jews
carried in early life to Shushan, the metropolis of Persia. He had
been fortunate in obtaining an appointment in the Persian Court, and
he chose rather to continue in his office at Court, than to return
with his countrymen to Jerusalem.

Nehemiah was born at Shushan. He was a man of public spirit, learning
and piety. He was appointed Cup-bearer to the King of Persia. In this
office he obtained the royal favor, which made him much beloved at
Court; and he thus became a man of great influence, and in the
possession of considerable wealth. Nehemiah had never seen Jerusalem,
although his ancestors had lived and died there; he, however, had at
all times expressed himself kindly disposed towards his brethren,
though strangers to him, and he anxiously wished for an opportunity
to exercise the influence of his high position for their benefit.

Nehemiah was taking a walk one evening near Shushan, and seeing some
travelers who appeared to be strangers going toward the city gates,
curiosity led him to listen to their conversation, which was held in
Hebrew. He saluted the strangers, and enquired of them from what
country they came? Jerusalem, was the reply. Anxious to know something
of his people, he entered deeply into conversation with the strangers,
and earnestly sought all the information respecting his brethren in
Jerusalem. He learned from the travelers that the walls of the City
were broken down, and that the people were constantly being annoyed
and plundered by the riotous banditti who infested the neighborhood;
that there was no possibility of preventing these outrages, and that
every morning the roads were strewed with the dying and the dead.

Nehemiah was so affected at the account of this deplorable situation
of his brethren, that he burst forth into tears, and prayed fervently
to God in their behalf. While thus engaged and agitated in mind,
orders came from the Palace informing Nehemiah that the King demanded
his presence. The King observing sorrow depicted in the countenance of
his favorite Nehemiah, enquired the cause, in which enquiry, the Queen
who was present, also joined, and seemed solicitous to know the reason
of his apparent grief. The King kindly asked Nehemiah what was the
cause for sorrow and tears? Nehemiah, encouraged by this favorable
opportunity, explained to the King the cause of his grief, and related
to him that which he had previously heard from the passing travelers.
He then stated to the King that Jerusalem was the City of his
ancestry; that the walls and gates were broken down by its enemies,
and that all its inhabitants were being murdered by the robbers who
infested the place. Nehemiah closed his sorrowful tale by presenting a
petition to the King, praying that he might be commissioned to go to
Jerusalem, and be empowered to repair the walls of the City.

The King in reply, said to Nehemiah, "Dry up your tears and be
cheerful; your petition shall be granted, and an order shall be given
to assist you in your noble and praiseworthy undertaking." The King
then issued out immediate orders to Sanballat, and other officers of
his Court, to furnish Nehemiah with money from the Royal Treasury, and
every necessary material to carry out the proposed object. Nehemiah
overflowing with joy and gratitude, fell down on his face and poured
out his soul in thanks and praises to his Monarch for his inimitable
goodness towards himself and his people. The King then granted to
Nehemiah leave of absence from the Court, to fulfil the mission he had
thus undertaken.

Nehemiah set out immediately for Babylon, and took with him a
sufficient number of men to accompany him on his journey, together
with a troop of guards which the King had given him as an escort.
Thus equipped, Nehemiah and all his company arrived safely at the Holy
City, Jerusalem. He here shut himself up three whole days in religious
devotion and pious meditation. The three days being ended, Nehemiah
went forth towards evening to examine the City and its walls. The
report he had received from the travelers whom he saw at Shushan,
proved to be quite true.

The next day Nehemiah assembled all the Elders and heads of the
people, and made known to them his commission, and likewise his object
in coming to Jerusalem. He then requested their co-operation, in order
to fulfil the task he had imposed upon himself. The people readily
assented to all which the good man proposed to them, and thus enabled
him to complete the work in repairing and fortifying the walls. He
engaged a numerous body of mechanics and their families, and
diligently presided daily over the work himself, until the whole was

The work being ended, and all in good order, Nehemiah with true piety
and religious zeal, caused a Dedication to be solemnized by the
Priests and the Levites, in gratitude to Almighty God, by whose mighty
power and parental care alone, the people had thus far gained a
victory over their unrelenting persecutors.

In the execution of this work, Nehemiah exhibited great courage, and
exposed himself to many dangers and insults. He kept a body guard
about him to protect him from the attacks of the enemy, and
personally superintended the building of the walls. He made the
laborers work in armour; both the mason and his man carried swords,
with shields lying at their side, while trumpeters were placed at
certain distances, to sound the alarm at the approach of the enemy.
Nehemiah was once told of a conspiracy formed against him, by
assassins who had determined to kill him, and his friends advised him
to take refuge in the Temple, but Nehemiah nobly replied: "Should such
a man as I flee? Who is there, being as I am, would go into the Temple
to save his life? I will not go in!"

The walls of the City having been finished, which was the extent of
the Commission granted to Nehemiah, he went back to Shushan to obtain
further orders; and during his temporary absence, he entrusted the
care of his Government and the City, to two of his brothers.

On the return of Nehemiah to Jerusalem, he set about fortifying the
City, and beautifying the Temple. It was at this time that Ezra the
Scribe delivered his public Lectures, as related in the history of
that great man.

Nehemiah zealously and diligently corrected all the abuses and
disorders in the State, as far as his influence and authority enabled
him. He now called upon all the people for contributions to beautify
and adorn the Temple, and for the support of its service; and in order
to set a good example, he very liberally gave from his own purse a
thousand drachms of gold, fifty dishes, and two hundred and fifty-two
dresses for the Priests. He further arranged that the Priests and the
Levites should be near the Temple, so that they should at all times be
regular in their attendance at Divine Worship; for which purpose,
Nehemiah had houses built in the immediate neighborhood of the Temple.

Nehemiah kept a princely table, a splendid equipage, and a train of
servants, altogether at his own expense--exacting no tribute whatever
from any one, but giving himself liberally, wherever it was required.
Thus with the highest honor, credit and generosity, he completed the
period of his Commission.

Nehemiah had now presided as Governor during twelve years; and
therefore, according to his promise, he returned to the Court of
Persia. After five years residence at Shushan, Nehemiah obtained
permission to return to Jerusalem, and resume his office as Governor.
On his return he found great depravity and corruption among the
people, both in the Church and the State. The people had sadly
neglected the service in the Temple--they had profaned the Sabbath by
making it a day of traffic, and following their usual avocations as on
the other days of the week.

Nehemiah immediately assembled all the Magistrates and other officers
of the State, and severely rebuked them for suffering the people to
commit such outrages against their Holy Religion. He then ordered that
the gates should be closed on every Friday, from sun set, until
Saturday evening after dark--by which means all traffic was
suspended--was, that the people were again brought into the practice
of keeping the Sabbath Holy, and abstaining from all worldly matters
during that sacred day.

Nehemiah strenuously persisted in his good work, by enforcing the
observance of the Mosaic Law throughout the length and breadth of the
land; he had Lectures delivered daily in Jerusalem, in the hearing of
all the people, and the Pentateuch expounded in a language familiar to
all the people. This practice was first carried out in the open
streets, (as already noticed in the former Chapter,) or in the public
market places, as found most convenient, until such time when
arrangements could be made for the establishment of Schools and
Synagogues suitable for such purposes. These Schools were, however,
not built nor in full action until some time after the death of this
venerable and pious man.

Nehemiah is supposed to be the last Governor of the Jews sent from the
Court of Persia. The Government of Judea was afterwards conducted by
the High Priests, till the days when Alexander the Great had totally
ruined the Persian Empire. Nehemiah lived till he became very far
advanced in years, happy in the love of his people, and in the success
of his honest and disinterested labors. He recorded his own history,
in which his name is transmitted to posterity with delight to all who
read of his zeal, and his religious devotion to the welfare and
improvement of his poor suffering brethren in Jerusalem.

This truly pious and zealous patriot had his recompense in this world,
by the satisfaction he had, in seeing his good work carried out
according to his ardent wishes and anxious desires. He, together with
his cotemporary, the good Ezra, of whom we have already spoken, were
devoted to the cause of true religion; they were not actuated by any
worldly selfishness, or literary fame, for they only endeavored to
restore the people to the original pure worship of the Temple, such as
was commanded and practised by Moses and the Elders, and the
subsequent generations, without any attempt on their part to introduce
new laws for the government of the Synagogue or Temple worship; and
hence they succeeded in their noble and pious undertaking. A bright
example to all those whom God Almighty in his wisdom may be disposed
to select as Priests or Chiefs over the people, to see that naught but
the true spirit of religion be preached and practised among the
people, to the honor and glory of Him who so graciously condescended
to give his people a code of laws for their guidance and instruction,
in every stage of existence. Nehemiah has transmitted a name and
reputation to all generations, more honorable and durable than the
Grecian Pillar, or the Roman Statue. His liberality, disinterestedness,
courage and industry--his affectionate feelings and love for his
country--will live in the hearts of his people forever and ever.

Before we close this Chapter, we must briefly notice some events of
deep interest and importance to the Jews, which took place in Persia,
during the days of Nehemiah. In the third year of the reign of
Ahasuerus, King of Persia, the whole Nation of the Jews were in great
danger of being destroyed through the wicked misrepresentations of a
haughty and imperious Minister of the Persian Court; this was Haman, a
descendant of Amalek, who was at all times a dire enemy of the Jewish
race. The malicious designs of this crafty Amalekite, were frustrated
by the inscrutable ways of an all-wise Providence, who never forsakes
the good and the just, in the hour of distress. The King of Persia
made a great Feast for his Captains and nobles, after which, he made
another Feast for all the people who were found in the Metropolis of
Shushan. On the seventh day of this banquet, the King commanded his
Queen Vashti to appear in the grand chamber before all the company who
were then assembled. It being contrary to the laws of Persia for
ladies to be seen in public assemblies, the Queen refused to do the
King's bidding. This refusal of the Queen greatly incensed the King;
and having consulted his Council as to the mode necessary to be
adopted on this occasion, the King at their advice, removed Vashti
from the Court, and deprived her of all her regal glory. When the King
began to reflect on his hasty decree, he became disconsolate, and
sorely regretted the loss of his favored Vashti. His friends and
counsellors seeing this change in the King's manners, divined the
cause, and endeavored to divert him therefrom, by advising and
recommending him to select for himself another Queen, in the place of
Vashti. The King, on reflection, approved the advice, and accordingly
issued a Commission, throughout all his dominions, to select the most
celebrated beauties that could be found, and present them at court,
from whom the King might select one as his future Queen.

Among the many ladies thus presented to the Persian Monarch, was a
beautiful Jewess, named Esther, an orphan of both parents. She was
brought up and educated under the kind care of her cousin Mordecai, a
man of rank among the Jews, who was at that time living in the Capital
of Persia.

The King, on seeing Esther, was so charmed with her personal
appearance, the elegance of her deportment, and her exquisite beauty,
that he immediately resolved to crown her as the future Queen of
Persia; and accordingly in the seventh year of his reign, the nuptials
were celebrated in great pomp and magnificence.

Esther now being at the Palace of the Persian Monarch, Mordecai
considered it his duty to be near her, in order to watch over her as
he did in the days of her youth--and for this purpose he took up his
station in one of the King's gates. This enabled him to know all that
was passing, without being particularly observed by those who
frequented the Court. About this time a conspiracy was formed against
the life of the King, by two of his attendants. Mordecai, having
discovered the plot, made known the same to the King; an investigation
took place, and the charge being fully sustained, the criminals were
both executed, and the facts registered in the Persian records; but no
other reward was given to Mordecai for his services.

The King's Prime Minister, Haman, had contracted a strong antipathy
against Mordecai, who refused to pay homage to him in the manner he
had exacted from all the King's household. Not content to punish
Mordecai alone, for his supposed want of respect to Haman's dignity,
he resolved to extirpate the whole race from off the face of the
earth; and in order to accomplish this atrocious design, Haman
represents to the king that the Jews were a people different from the
rest of the king's subjects, and very disobedient to his laws. The
king relying on the truth of the statement made by his favorite
minister, and he offering to pay into the king's treasury 10,000
talents of silver to pay necessary expenses, the king gave him the
power to do as he thought proper; and Haman accordingly appointed a
day for the total extermination of the whole Jewish nation. This
affair took place in the twelfth year of the king's reign, and about
five years after Ezra had received his commission to go to Jerusalem.

Up to this period, none knew, not even the king himself, that queen
Esther was a Jewess, for her cousin Mordecai had particularly enjoined
her not to divulge her kindred, nor her nation. Strictly did Esther
obey her cousin in everything that he conjured her; and the result was
that her obedience to him, who was her second father and her natural
guardian, proved to be the great contributing cause of her becoming
the sole instrument in preventing her nation from being totally

Mordecai having learned all that had passed in reference to this
decree, sent a message to queen Esther informing her of all that had
occurred, and imploring her to go to the king and petition him to save
her people. The queen, on hearing this sad news felt sorely grieved,
and was at a loss how to act, knowing as she did, that the laws of the
Medes and Persians were unalterable; and that the ordinance had been
passed, prohibiting any person, on pain of death, from approaching the
king without being called to attend him, unless he should condescend
to hold forth his golden sceptre as a signal of his pleasure. The
queen sent a message to her cousin Mordecai, pointing out to him the
danger of such an undertaking; to which he replied, that it was not
her own personal safety that was in question, but the security of a
whole race, who were unjustly condemned to perish by the vile
artifices of an arrogant and ambitious man. Esther, feeling the force
of the appeal made to her by Mordecai, repaired to the palace, at the
risk of her own life, to save her people; and to her great joy and
astonishment, the moment the king beheld her in the court, he kindly
extended the sign of mercy, and gave her a favorable reception.
Esther, encouraged by this pleasing invitation, related to her husband
the intentions and plot of the wicked Haman, who was instantly
condemned to death, and Mordecai was favorably admitted into the
king's household as the relative of the queen. The king, by another
royal edict, published throughout all his dominions, that the Jews
should be empowered on the day named by Haman for their destruction,
to stand on their own defense; and as this decree became known all
over the land to be the real wishes of the sovereign, and Haman being
no more, it proved serviceable to the poor Jews, and fully answered
all that could have been expected; but yet, not without great
slaughter among the people during the various conflicts and battles
which took place on the day appointed. In these conflicts, the Jews
standing only on their own defense, slew upwards of seventy-five
thousand of their enemies, who rose up against them. It is in
commemoration of this signal deliverance from their enemies, that the
feast of Purim is celebrated annually among the Jews throughout the

Without referring to any particular cause, there is no doubt that the
influence of Esther, and that of Mordecai, who became high in honor,
and a favorite at the court of Persia, must have proved very
beneficial to the Jews in general, and especially those who were in
Jerusalem. Mordecai being now in power, promoted all his kindred to
posts of honor, dignity and emolument; and through his influence, many
of his countrymen became wealthy and prosperous. Here we may observe
how the overruling providence of God is signally displayed. Mordecai
retained his influence with the king, being the next in the
administration; he was beloved and revered by all his brethren, whose
happiness and welfare were his constant study.

It is stated, that in a place called Amdam, in Persia, the tombs of
both Mordecai and Esther are still to be seen, and are highly prized
by all the Jews living in Persia and the adjacent countries.


      Of the state of the Jewish Nation under the Persian and
      the Grecian Monarchies.

After the death of Nehemiah, Judea became subjected to those whom the
Kings of Persia made Governors of Syria. These governors placed the
regulation of affairs under the control of the high priest, who had
all the sacred authority, as well as civil power, vested in him, but
still he was under the direction of the governor of Syria. This
arrangement, however, was frequently interrupted by the different
governors and princes, from time to time, who occasionally appointed
other persons, not of the family of the priests, to officiate in such
sacred office.

It is recorded in the book of Nehemiah, that when Johannan, the son of
Jehoiada, had been in possession of the royal priesthood during many
years, Bagoses, the governor of Syria, appointed Jeshua the younger
brother of Johannan to depose him, and take the priesthood to himself.
This caused considerable disturbance and dissatisfaction; a tumult
arose in the inner court of the Temple, and Jeshua was slain there by
his brother.

Bagoses, the governor of Syria, incensed at such opposition to his
views, immediately entered the inner court of the Temple, in defiance
of the remonstrance of the Jews, who explained to him that he was
unclean, and therefore unfit to enter the holy edifice. In reply,
Bagoses proudly remarked "that he was purer than the dead carcass of
him whom they had slain there;" and as a punishment for this outrage,
he imposed a heavy fine for every lamb that was offered throughout the

About this period the Jews were most miraculously saved from the
threatened oppression and resentment of Alexander the Great, king of
Macedonia, in Greece, who had marched toward the city of Jerusalem
with a powerful army, determined to punish the people for refusing to
assist him in the siege of Tyre.

At the time when Alexander declared war against the people of Tyre,
they were so wholly occupied as merchants that they had entirely
neglected all agricultural pursuits, and consequently had to be
supplied with provisions by their immediate neighbors. Judea was at
this time the place from which they were mostly furnished with all
that they required. Alexander was necessarily compelled to seek
provisions from the same source, and accordingly sent his orders to
that effect. The Jews had previously declared their allegiance to
Darius, and considered that they were bound in faith not to
acknowledge any new power during his lifetime, and therefore refused
to obey the command of the proud Macedonian. Alexander, being then in
the zenith of his glory, having been so eminently successful in his
late wars, considered that every nation was bound to submit to him,
and that he durst not be contradicted. The refusal of the Jews in this
respect, greatly incensed Alexander; he marched towards Jerusalem
determined to punish the Jews, as he had the Syrians, for not obeying
his commands. The Jews, fearing the consequences of the Emperor's
power, which was certainly great at that time, felt severely the
dilemma into which they were thus innocently involved; and as usual
with the chosen people of God when in distress, they had no other
course to adopt but to rely on the protection of Him who had at all
times responded to their call, in the hour of trouble. For this
purpose all Jerusalem were assembled together in prayer and
supplication, and offering additional sacrifices in the
Temple--imploring the mercy of God in their great distress. The high
priest then gave instructions that the gates of the city should be
thrown open, and that all the priests should be clad in their official
robes, (he himself being attired in his pontifical habiliments,) and
that all the elders and heads of the nation should go forth to meet
the conqueror in grand procession. On the approach of Alexander to the
city, and beholding this imposing scene, he was smitten with profound
awe and religious veneration. He saluted the high priest and tenderly
embraced him--entered the city in the most friendly manner, declaring
himself the friend and protector of Israel. The Syrians and
Phoenicians, who being the enemies of the Jews, were in expectation
that the Emperor would wreak his vengeance on them and destroy them as
he had those of Tyre, surprised and disappointed at this sudden change
of the Emperor's conduct, naturally enquired into the cause; to which
Alexander replied, that while at Macedonia he had a dream, in which he
saw the figure of the same high priest, dressed in his sacerdotal
robes, encouraging him to pursue his expedition against the Persians,
and promising him success; which was fully realized beyond his most
sanguine expectations. In the person of the present high priest, he
saw the same figure which had appeared to him at Dio, and therefore he
concluded that his success was mainly attributable to the will of God;
and that, in the person of the high priest, he paid adoration to God
in gratitude for the favor thus conferred upon him.

Alexander, thus pacified, enquired of the Jews what favor they had to
ask of him, which was in his power to grant; to which they replied,
the privilege of being governed by their own laws, and to have no
obstruction in following the religion of their forefathers, which was
more dear to them than all worldly distinctions. This request was
accordingly granted; and further, as a mark of Alexander's favor, they
were to be exempt from paying tribute or taxes during the seventh
year, because in that year they neither sowed nor reaped their land.

Alexander then requested the high priest to have a golden image of his
likeness placed between the porch and the altar, as a memorial of his
visit. The high priest in reply to the Emperor, explained to him that
according to the Jewish law, it was forbidden to have any image or
likeness set up in the house of God, which was exclusively devoted to
the worship of Him who is the sole ruler of the universe. But, said
the high priest, we will make a greater memorial for you, which shall
descend to ages yet to come; that all the male children which shall be
born unto the priests during the coming year, shall be named after
your imperial majesty, in honor of your illustrious condescension and
clemency on this momentous occasion.

The king expressed himself highly pleased with this promise of the
high priest, and in token of his approbation presented a considerable
amount of gold for the use of the Temple service. Alexander then
retired, well satisfied with all that had transpired; and on leaving
the Temple, he declared in a very fervent tone, "Blessed be the Lord
God of Israel, the God of this house."

Alexander, on leaving Palestine, marched into Egypt, over which he
made an easy conquest, as the people having heard of his success,
immediately surrendered; and thus he became master of that country. He
built the city of Alexandria, and peopled it with different nations,
among whom were many Israelites, who enjoyed the same privileges with
the rest of his subjects.

In the following spring, Alexander became perfect master of the whole
of the Persian Empire; he then made war with India and conquered it.
Elated with success in all his enterprises, he indulged in all the
excesses of life, and within five years from this time he died from
the effects produced by such an extravagant mode of life. A short time
after his death, the Empire was divided among four of Alexander's
generals, and then the Jewish nation fell into the power of Ptolemy
Soter, who became master of Egypt, Arabia, Cael Syria, and Palestine
of Judea, these countries being his share of the division of the
Empire of Alexander.

The kings of Egypt and Syria being constantly at war with each other,
and desirous of enlarging their dominions, the Jews were at a loss
whose cause to support, as they were called upon by all parties. This
placed them in extreme difficulties, being in danger on both sides,
and consequently badly treated by both parties in power.


      Of the affairs of the Jewish Nation under Ptolemy Soter,
      Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Ptolemy Philopater, Kings of

Ptolemy Soter signified his intention to make Alexandria, in Egypt,
his capital city. He persuaded many of the Israelites to settle there,
with the promise that the same privileges granted them by Alexander,
should be continued to them. This boon induced numbers of Jews to
settle in Alexandria.

A remarkable story is told of one Mossolam, a Jew, who was one of
those who followed Ptolemy at this time. This Mossolam was one of a
Jewish troop of horse, who were advised by some soothsayer to stand
still at the sight of a bird which appeared in the air, and that the
people should follow the direction of this bird, either to go one way
or the other, as that bird took its flight; to test the truth of
which, this Mossolam shot the bird with his arrow, and the bird fell
dead at his feet. He then declared aloud to the people, "How could
that poor bird foretell our fortune, which knew nothing of its own?"
His object was, in this expression, to expose the superstition of the
heathens, so prevalent in those days.

Ptolemy Soter established a college of learned men, at Alexandria, in
Egypt, and commenced a library there, which Ptolemy Philadelphus, his
youngest son and successor, improved to one hundred thousand volumes.
It is stated that this prince ordered the Pentateuch to be translated
into the Greek language, that the Gentiles might be enabled to read
it; this was accordingly done, and placed in the great library, as we
shall read hereafter.

This college of learned men was encouraged, and the library increased
under the several Ptolemys till it contained seven hundred thousand
books. This circumstance made Alexandria the place of residence and
resort for learned men during several ages. It happened, unfortunately
for posterity, that one half of this famous library was burnt by
Julius Cæsar in his Alexandrian war, and the balance was finally
destroyed by the Saracens, in the year 642 of the Christian era.

Ptolemy gained the favor of the Jews, by paying a ransom of one
hundred thousand of their countrymen, who had been taken captive and
made slaves in Egypt. Having thus ingratiated himself into their good
opinions, he proposed the translation of the Pentateuch above
mentioned, in the following manner: he selected six Elders out of each
tribe, making the number of seventy-two; these he invited to his
court, and engaged them to perform the task, which was accordingly
done and approved by him; and in token of his approbation, he very
liberally rewarded them for their labors. This translation is known by
the name of the Septuagint--so called from the circumstance of there
having been seventy-two learned men employed for that purpose. The
Septuagint is, however, by no means considered a correct translation,
there being many incongruities contained therein; the rendering of
many passages being at variance with the original Hebrew. The
translation of the prophets, etc., into Greek, was made many years
later, in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes; this completed the
translation of the whole of the Old Testament.

When Ptolemy Philopater reigned over Egypt and Syria, he persisted in
offering up sacrifices in gratitude to the God of Israel, for his
success against Antiochus the Great, the successor of Seleucus, king
of Syria. The Jews naturally opposed this measure, and were
consequently persecuted because of their strict adherence to their

The kings of Syria and Egypt, in order to annoy the Jews, would force
themselves into the holy Temple, and burn sacrifices upon the altar.
It is related of Ptolemy Philopater that he insisted on entering even
the holy of holies. The priests and the levites, and all the people,
assembled together in prayer and supplication to the Almighty, to
assist them in preventing the sanctuary from being polluted by the
heathen. It happened that, when the king was about to enter the holy
Temple, he was smitten with such terror and confusion of mind, that
he was removed from the holy place almost lifeless.

The king, on his recovery from this attack, which he believed was
caused by the prayers of the people, was determined to be revenged on
the whole Jewish nation; for which purpose, he went to Alexandria, and
commanded that all the people should sacrifice to his idols. The
people in general refused to do so, on which account he deprived them
of all the privileges which had been granted to them by Alexander the
Great. He then directed that every Jew should be marked with an ivy
leaf, (the same being the badge of his idol Bacchus,) burned in their
flesh with a hot iron; and further, that all those who resisted this
infliction, should either be made slaves or put to death. Some few of
the poor Jews reluctantly obeyed the king's mandate, in order to
prevent the threatened punishment; but many thousands of them stood
firm in the religion of their fathers, and suffered all the
persecutions of the tyrant, rather than forsake the God who had
wrought so many miracles in their behalf.

Ptolemy, vexed to find that the people would not sacrifice to his
idols, and that they submitted to every degradation rather than
forsake their God, resolved to be revenged, and threatened to destroy
and annihilate the whole of the nation; and this he attempted to do,
by issuing an order that all the Jews who lived _in_ and _about_
Egypt, should be brought to Alexandria in chains, and there to be
devoured by his elephants. The Jews were brought to the place of
execution, where the elephants were made drunk with wine and
frankincense, and then let loose among the people; but instead of
falling upon the Jews, they turned their rage upon the spectators who
came to witness the scene, and destroyed great numbers of them,
leaving the Jews unhurt.

The king on seeing his plans frustrated, began to reflect, and to be
convinced that the God of Israel would protect his people from their
enemies; and fearing that he would become the victim of the vengeance
of a justly offended God, he immediately revoked his cruel decree, and
restored to the people all their former privileges. Those, however,
who had forsaken their God and abandoned their religion by sacrificing
to his idols, were delivered into the hands of their enemies, and many
of them were put to death.

How just are the dispensations of Providence! and how secure is man
under the most perilous circumstances, while he puts his trust in his
God and remains firm to the true worship of Him who is ever watchful
of the safety of his faithful and trustworthy followers.


      Of the Jewish affairs under Antiochus the Greek,
      Seleucus, and Antiochus Epiphanes, Kings of Syria.

After the death of Ptolemy Philopater, Ptolemy Epiphanes came to the
throne. The Jews, having experienced severe persecutions at the hands
of the Ptolemys, surrendered to the power of Antiochus the Great, King
of Syria; and when he came to Jerusalem, the people went out to meet
him in great procession, and very graciously welcomed him to their

Antiochus, flattered by this mark of their attention granted them the
same privileges as he had done to their brethren who had settled
themselves in Babylon and Mesopotamia. He had at all times expressed
himself satisfied with the conduct of the people, having found them on
all occasions true and loyal subjects.

Antiochus, wishing to show his confidence in the Jews, and with a view
of encouraging them, sent many of them from Babylon to Lower Asia, to
guard and protect his forts and garrisons, and allowed them good
settlements; hence many of the Jewish nation peopled that part of the
country. At the death of Antiochus, his son, Seleucus Philopater,
succeeded him. In his day, Simon, a Benjamite, was made Governor of
the Temple. He had some difference with Onias, the high priest, who
was a very good man. Simon, however, not succeeding in his
expectations with the high priest, reported to Appolonius, the
Governor of the Province under Seleucus, that great treasures were
deposited in the Temple; upon which information Heliodorus, the
treasurer, was sent to seize them.

Heliodorus accordingly repaired to the Temple to make this seizure.
When he entered the Temple he found the priests and all the people
engaged in solemn prayer to Almighty God, imploring his divine
assistance in their present distress. The scene which thus presented
itself to him at that moment so powerfully affected him, that he fell
prostrate before the Lord of Hosts, whose power he publicly
acknowledged, and resolved not to interfere with the people of God, as
he called them, and immediately left the city.

Antiochus Epiphanes succeeded his brother Seleucus in the kingdom of
Syria. When seated on the throne, Jason, the brother of Onias the high
priest, bribed Antiochus with a large sum of money to deprive Onias of
the priesthood and to banish him to Antioch; at the same time Jason
wished to have the priesthood conferred on him; not, as it is
supposed, that he wished to have it as a religious office, but
because it would invest him likewise with the power of the civil
government. Antiochus received the bribe; banished Onias to Antioch,
and then appointed Jason to the office of high priest.

When Jason became high priest, he erected a place of exercise at
Jerusalem for training up youth according to the fashion of the
Greeks, and induced many of them to forsake the religious customs and
usages of their forefathers, and to conform in many things to the
customs and ceremonies of the heathens. Some few years after Jason had
been in office, he commissioned his brother Menelaus to go to the
court of Syria to pay the annual tribute money. Menelaus took
advantage of this opportunity, and offered the king a larger bribe
than his brother had given for the priesthood.

Antiochus made no scruple in the matter, and accepted the money thus
offered by Menelaus; and gave instructions to his secretary to make
out a fresh commission in favor of Menelaus, who returned triumphantly
to Jerusalem, deposed his brother Jason, and placed himself in the
office of the priesthood.

Menelaus being in office, abused the power and authority vested in
him, and conducted himself in a manner much worse than his brother
whom he had deposed. He stole some of the golden vessels from the
Temple, impoverished the country, and by degrees he managed to enslave
the whole of Judea, and overturned all that was left of her religion
and her freedom. He then visited Antioch, where he met his brother
Onias, who rebuked him for his misconduct both towards him and the
people in general. Menelaus, chagrined at his brother's rebuke,
adopted means by which Onias was put to death. During this time,
Lysimachus, who had been appointed by Menelaus to officiate as his
deputy during his absence, stripped the temple of many of its most
costly vessels. He also committed many other sacrilegious acts; this
occasioned a great tumult and confusion among the people, which ended
in considerable bloodshed, and in which conflict the deputy himself
fell a victim.

This circumstance led to a false report being industriously
circulated, that Antiochus had fallen in the affray. Jason, availing
himself of this confusion, headed an army of resolute and desperate
men; repaired to Jerusalem which he assaulted; succeeded in putting to
flight his brother Menelaus with his party, and committed great havoc
among those who opposed him. Jason, however, was in the end defeated;
his party routed; he himself perished in some strange land, and it is
supposed even without the usual rites of burial.

Antiochus hearing of this affair, and imagining that Judea had
revolted, gave immediate orders to his soldiers to repair to Jerusalem
and to kill young and old without any reserve. The soldiers obeyed
their cruel master in so unmerciful a manner, that in less than three
days upwards of forty thousand souls were slain; thousands taken into
captivity, and sold as slaves to the several neighboring nations.

Antiochus then entered the holy Temple, stripped it of all the sacred
vessels still remaining--the altar of incense--the golden table and
the golden candle-stick.

He then destroyed all the beautiful decorations of the House of God,
robbed the noble edifice of all its treasures, and impiously polluted
the holy of holies. And to further satiate his cruel revenge, he
sacrificed a sow on the altar of burnt offerings, and scattered its
fragments over every part of the Temple. The tyrant then departed,
leaving the city of Jerusalem overwhelmed in sorrow and in mourning.
The streets were strewed with the dying and the dead. The cries and
lamentations of the orphan and the widow deplored the loss of their
natural protectors and their property, which the tyrant carried away
with him to enrich his unholy possessions.

Some time after, Antiochus sent his general Appollonius to collect the
annual tribute to which the Jews were subject, and at the same time
commanded him at the head of a thousand men, to attack the city of
Jerusalem on the sabbath day, while the people were all engaged in
their religious worship in the Temple.

Appollonius fully executed the mandate of his cruel master. He slew
the priests and the Levites while at their sacred duties, together
with numbers of the private citizens; led the women and children into
captivity; destroyed all their houses; built a castle near the Temple,
and placed a troop of men as guards to watch and annoy those few Jews
who still remained in the city.

Not yet satisfied, the cruel tyrant issued a decree throughout all
his dominions to suppress every religion excepting the worship of the
idols, he himself had set up, and to which alone he paid his
adoration. He forbade the Jews to perform the initiatory rite on their
male children, and prevented them from offering any more sacrifices in
the Temple to the God of Israel. He then set up an image upon the
altar, and sacrificed to it, and called it the Temple of Jupiter
Olympus. He compelled the people to offer up the flesh of swine, and
other unclean beasts, and even to eat of them. He forced the Jews to
profane the sabbath, and cruelly persecuted all such who did not
strictly conform to his wishes; rendering the position of the poor
Jews pitiable in the extreme, and probably unequalled by any other
nation in the annals of the world. Antiochus then ordered all the
books of the law, and other books used for worship, to be destroyed;
and to effectually carry out his cruel edict, officers were appointed
to search every house, and every person was examined on oath as to the
possession of any Hebrew books or tablets. By this means not a copy of
the law was to be seen among the poor Jews. Notwithstanding all these
persecutions, there were found numbers of the people who defied the
power of the merciless king; and putting their trust in the God of
Israel, would not defile themselves with the idolatrous worship then
imposed on them, and break the law of God. Sad to relate, that daily
and hourly these people who adhered to their religion, were put to the
sword and other torments, to compel them to act in obedience to the
king's orders. Their love for their religion was greater than the
pleasures of this world, and in support of that religion they
sacrificed their own lives and those of their wives and children.

In the next and following chapters we shall inform our readers of the
manner in which the Lord raised up champions in Israel, who valiantly
and bravely resented the injuries inflicted on their countrymen, and
zealously fought the battles of the Lord; the success which ensued,
together with the total defeat of their enemies, and the punishment
which awaited the tyrant Antiochus and his army.


      Of the state of the Jewish Nation in the days of
      Mattathias the Priest, the father of the valiant

In the days of the tyrant Antiochus, who so frightfully and cruelly
persecuted the Jews, there lived at Modin a very learned, pious, and
noble priest; he was of the family of the Asmoneans, named Mattathias.
This zealous and brave man was one of the first who was determined to
oppose the future progress of Antiochus. Mattathias, who was known to
be a man of considerable influence among his brethren, was highly
complimented by the king's officers, and tempted by them to comply
with the request of the king to renounce the Jewish religion and
embrace that of the heathen. The priest boldly and fearlessly rejected
their entreaties; and in the hearing of all the people he declared
that no consideration whatever should induce him, or any of his
family, to forsake his God and his holy religion; they would continue
to walk in the sacred path of their fathers, and that no king on earth
could be found to compel them to adopt any heathen worship.

This bold declaration of the valiant priest, created great sensation
among the people--and some of them fearing the torments threatened to
be inflicted on all such who refused to obey the king's orders,
consented to offer sacrifices on the altar set up for heathen worship;
this altar was placed at Modin. The priest, zealous in the cause of
his religion, was determined to be avenged of this outrage committed
by some of his brethren; he exhorted the people in general, not to be
led away by the acts of these apostates, but to remain true to their
holy faith, and that he and his family would pour out their life's
blood for their sacred cause.

At this time a Jew presented himself at the altar, and sacrificed to
the idol there erected. Mattathias, fired by religious zeal, fell upon
the apostate and slew him on the spot. His sons, actuated by the same
religious spirit, slew the king's chief officer and his men who
enforced his wicked commands. They then destroyed both the altar and
the images, declaring aloud to all their brethren, "Ye who are zealous
for the cause of the Lord and His religion, follow us! Follow,
follow!" The priest then collected together all the members of his
family, and took up his abode in the neighboring mountains. Many of
the Jews followed this example, and fled--some to the deserts, some to
the mountains, and there assembling together, formed themselves into a
little army--bold, resolute, zealous and brave in their just and noble

The king's troops pursued them, and attacked them on the Sabbath day.
The people unwilling to profane the Sabbath, made no resistance,
unanimously declaring, "Let us rather die in innocence than triumph in
guilt." The enemy taking advantage of this, slew them in great
numbers. The venerable Mattathias grieved at seeing his brethren so
cruelly and innocently murdered, made a decree, (having previously
consulted his brother priests,) and published it throughout the land,
that it should be lawful, should it be found requisite, for the people
to defend themselves against their enemies, in the event of their
being attacked, on the Sabbath day. This resolution was adopted and
followed in all the subsequent wars, under the direction of their able
and pious champions.

When Antiochus heard of this bold and daring resolution, so much
beyond his expectations, he perpetrated the most frightful cruelties
on every Jew who would not forsake his religion. On this occasion
happened the martyrdom of the venerable and pious Eleazer, a priest of
great learning, probity and zeal in the cause of religion. At the
advanced age of ninety years, this poor man was led forth to the
scaffold, and was desired to make a public declaration that he would
renounce his religion--that he should eat swine's flesh in the
presence of all the people, as a proof of his conversion. With
resolute firmness, and becoming resentment, the venerable priest
refused to comply with the wishes of the tyrant, and preferred death
rather than forsake the religion of the one true God.

At this period it occurred, that a mother and her seven sons were
scourged in order to compel them to eat swine's flesh. Both the mother
and her sons publicly declared their resolution to die under the hands
of the executioner, rather than transgress the laws of God. The tyrant
then ordered their limbs to be cut off, their tongues to be cut out,
and the skin of their heads to be stripped off with the hair; all
which was executed in the presence of the mother, who encouraged her
children to suffer their tortures bravely in the cause of their
religion. She soothed their afflictions by the tenderest affections,
beseeching them to fear God, and not the tyrant--and patiently to
endure the torment, in the hope and expectation of a happy and
glorious resurrection, where she would meet them again in mercy, and
under the protection of an all gracious father, who never forsakes the
truly righteous. The mother having witnessed the sufferings of all her
sons, martyrs to the cause of their religion, shared the same sad
fate, and under similar torments was ushered into eternity.

What a noble example to parents of the present day to watch over the
conduct of their children, and exert all the means in their power to
induce them to walk in the path of virtue; to inculcate in them true
religion, and not suffer them to think so lightly of the precepts of
the Lord--for it must be admitted that the apathy evinced in the
present day by all classes of society, is the sole contributing cause
of the infidelity so prevalent amongst us. If we are asked what is
the cause of this infidelity, the answer is, the Holy Bible is not
studied sufficiently, either privately or publicly; and not being
understood, is consequently rejected by thousands of those who grow up
in ignorance; hence, in the hour of distress, they have nothing to
console them, as in olden times, as exhibited in the history before

During this time, Mattathias who still remained concealed in the
mountains, encouraged his brethren to remain firm in their cause. He
spoke so emphatically to them that he gained their confidence, in
consequence of which, great numbers declared themselves true to the
noble enterprise before them. Those who more particularly were devoted
to the cause, were such as were called _chasideem_, or pious; of this
sect we shall have to speak in a future chapter, and therefore we
shall proceed with our narrative, in which we shall see the result of
true piety and honest zeal in the defence of upright principles.

Mattathias and his party then marched, well armed, through all the
towns and villages, destroyed all the altars and places of worship
belonging to the heathens. They then circumcised all the male
children, who had been neglected in this matter in consequence of the
edict passed by the tyrant Antiochus. In this affair they met with
very strong opposition, and in their defence they committed great
slaughter among their enemies. They succeeded on this occasion in
recovering many copies of the law, which had been hid at the time the
mandate was issued to destroy all the copies of the law, or any other
Hebrew manuscripts which might be found among the people. The
venerable and pious priest had now grown grey in the service, and
appeared to be fast approaching the verge of the grave. Sensible of
his position, Mattathias assembled together all his children, together
with his friends, and on his death bed he thus addressed them:

"My sons, be ye valiant and zealous in the cause I have so long
advocated--expose your lives in its defence, and hereafter you will
share the glorious reward of your perseverance. Let me, says the dying
man, bring to your memory the spirit, the noble spirit and pious zeal
of your ancestors, to animate your hope, and to encourage your steady
reliance on the power and protection of your all-gracious God. Thus
inspired, my dear children, and thus determined to defend your laws,
your liberties, and your religion, you _will_ not, you _cannot_ fail
of success. My son Simon has proved himself a man of wisdom, follow
his advice as a father, and as a counselor. Judas, your brother, is
well known for his courage and valorous conduct, let him be your
general, let him head your army and lead you to the battle-field. My
sons, may God Almighty ever protect you and prosper you in all your
righteous undertakings, and crown all your laudable efforts with

After this tender and affectionate interview, this, his last
and farewell advice to his sons, Mattathias in a good old age
expired, and was honorably buried at Modin, in the sepulchre of his
ancestors--beloved and esteemed by all who knew him in life, and
revered and lamented by all who attended his mortal remains to the


      The Government of the Jewish nation under the Maccabees,
      or as they were otherwise called, the Asmoneans, this
      being the family name.

Judas, at the dying request of his father, and with the full consent
of his brothers, took upon himself the command of the forces, and at
once erected his standard. Judas is henceforth called Judas Maccabees,
because he chose for the motto of his banner in the field of battle,
the sentence from the song of Moses, Exodus, chap, XV: "Who is like
unto thee, amongst the powers, oh Lord!" In Hebrew the initials of the
words in the sentence form the word "_Mochbee_." Hence it is, that all
those who fought under the banner of Judas, were called "_Maccabees_,"
and all of that race were known by that name.

Judas and his brethren achieved many very valiant deeds, in defending
the cause of the holy law, and the holy religion of the God of Israel,
of which they were the bold champions. Judas was successful in gaining
the many battles he fought with Antiochus; and to encourage his army
to fight bravely, he exhorted them to put their trust in God and that
they would conquer. This inducement held out to the army, appears to
have produced the desired effect.

The tyrant Antiochus, seeing their repeated success, became resolute
and determined to be avenged of his powerful opponents, the Maccabees.
To effectuate this, he adopted the following stratagem: when he went
into Persia to gather the tribute of the countries round about, he
left Lysias with half his army, with express orders to destroy and
root out all the Jews from their land.

Lysias proved as cruel as his master; he collected numerous forces and
encamped near Jerusalem; his army consisted of forty thousand foot,
and seven thousand horse. Encouraged by the hope of success on the
part of Lysias, a body of merchants, about a thousand in number,
repaired to the place of action, provided with large quantities of
gold and silver, with the full expectation of buying the captive Jews
for slaves. Whilst the enemy contemplated a complete victory, Judas
and his brethren gathered themselves together unto Mizpah; here they
fasted, put on sackcloth, and prayed to God to help them in their
great distress. They opened the book of the law before God, where the
heathens had polluted it by painting their images which they
worshiped. They then sounded the trumpets and prepared for battle,
resolved to a man to die in defence of their country and their
religion. The result of this zeal and courage on the part of Judas,
proved successful; Judas and his army put to flight and destroyed
several large forces which Lysias had sent against them. They drove
the enemy out of Jerusalem, and almost out of the land of Judea, and
succeeded in possessing themselves of a large booty, both from the
army and the merchants, who expected to become their masters.

Judas and his party, grateful to heaven for this great and glorious
success over such powerful enemies, immediately repaired to Mount
Sion, where they saw the sanctuary of God made desolate, deserted and
neglected; even the altar was polluted, the gates and walls thrown
down, the courts of the Temple, the beautiful edifice itself bedecked,
not with sweet or odoriferous herbs, but with wild shrubs and grass
which the hand of time had allowed to grow on that sacred spot. What a
heart-rending scene for the pious Judas and his followers! Grieved at
beholding such a devastation of God's holy place, they fell on their
faces, rent their clothes, and made great lamentations; at the same
time imploring the aid of heaven to repair the loss thus sustained.

Judas and his party diligently applied themselves to repair the
Temple, and to restore the worship of God. They selected some of the
good priests to purify the sanctuary; they removed the altar, which
had been profaned by the heathens, and built a new one as the law
directs. They then made some new vessels for the use of the Temple,
from the gold which they had taken from the enemy in the late battle.
The regular order of divine worship was again introduced, and
sacrifices offered up according to the law of Moses.

It is somewhat remarkable, and worthy of our attention, that that very
day three years, on which the heathen had profaned the altar by
offering up unclean beasts, the Temple was dedicated with great
rejoicings and grateful acknowledgments to God, which continued during
eight days. It was on this occasion that Judas and his brethren
ordained that this feast of dedication should be celebrated annually
on the return of this period, with mirth and gladness, together with
praises and thanksgiving to God. This feast of dedication is known
among Israelites by the name "_Honucha_," Hebrew word for dedication.
The fact related is, that when Judas and his men had purified the
Temple, a very small lamp of consecrated oil was miraculously found,
capable of furnishing sufficient to supply all the established holy
lights in the Temple during eight days, until a fresh portion could be
procured. This circumstance occurred about two years after Judas had
the chief command, and upwards of three years after the city and the
Temple had been laid desolate by Appollonius. History informs us, that
the holy worship in the Temple continued with little interruption from
the heathen, until the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, though
Jerusalem itself was often in the power of its enemies.

Notwithstanding the success achieved by Judas and his party, they were
much annoyed by their enemies, from the fact that the fortress built
by Appolonius still remained in the hands of the heathens. It stood on
Mount Acra, a rising ground facing the Temple. The heathens placed
themselves here to annoy the Jews, on their going to, and returning
from the Temple. Judas finding that he could not drive out the enemy
at once, endeavored to prevent these annoyances by building up Mount
Sion with high walls and strong towers. He also placed guards there to
protect the priests and the people when they went to the Temple, with
the view of preventing the Gentiles from invading the sanctuary.

Though Judas and his men continued the Temple worship, they were still
in constant warfare. The neighboring nations were all jealous of the
success gained by the Jews, and dissatisfied that they had restored
the sacred worship in the Temple of the Lord. To show their
displeasure they attacked the Jews on all sides; war ensued, and
fierce battles were fought, in most of which Judas proved victorious,
sustaining but little loss in his army.

Judas, encouraged by such success, which he always acknowledged to be
from the hand of God, and not from his own power, led forth his army
against Georgius, a general of Antiochus, as also against the
Idumeans, who had in their turn proved vexatious to the Jews. In these
attacks Judas lost many of his men, but nevertheless proved
victorious. Judas was a noble and valiant general; his policy was at
all times to encourage his men by inducing them to put their trust in
God, who had done so much for their ancestors, and instilling in their
minds the belief that he would continue his protection to them as long
as they were inclined to act righteously to each other. During this
time, Antiochus was visiting Persia in order to receive his tribute
from the people of that country--and plunder the Temple of _Diana_,
erected at _Elymos_, which was said to contain great riches in gold
and silver, and a very valuable armory. The people of Persia having
gained intelligence of the king's intention, boldly defended the
Temple of their idol, and succeeded in totally defeating the enemy.

Antiochus enraged at this discomfiture, and at the reports he had
received of the defeat of his generals in Judea, resolved to march
toward Jerusalem, and threatened to make the whole city as one grave,
in which to bury all the Jews then in the Holy Land. How far this
wicked man succeeded in his cruel resolve, the following facts will
show; they need no comment on our part, to prove that it was the
finger of God that was directing all that befel Antiochus, and other
persecutors of mankind. It is generally supposed by historians, that
the same disaster which befel the tyrant Antiochus, was visited on
many persecutors of God's people, both in former and latter
times--hence supporting our views on the subject, that Heaven ordained
all that had happened. Whilst on his journey, Antiochus was smitten
with an incurable plague; his chariot was upset, and he was seriously
hurt. He was then carried to a small town on the road side, put to
bed, in which he lingered for some time, suffering the most
excruciating agonies of body, and torments of mind, until he died. On
his death-bed, Antiochus showed great contrition of mind for the
crimes which he had perpetrated against God and man. The heathens
declared that it was a punishment inflicted for his intended sacrilege
of the Temple of Diana; but the Jewish historians acquaint us, that
the tyrant himself imputed his sufferings as a punishment for the
cruelties towards Israel, and the impieties he practised against the
Lord and his holy Temple. Thus ended the life of this great and
relentless tyrant.

The pleasing tidings of the death of the tyrant having reached the
ears of Judas, he was encouraged to besiege the garrison of the
Syrians, in the town of Acra, in which enterprise he succeeded by a
stratagem which will be hereafter related.

At the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, his son Antiochus Eupator became
his successor. He proved to be no better than his father, whose
footsteps he followed by persecuting the Jews wherever found
throughout his empire. Antiochus Eupator commenced his career by
bringing a vast army against Judas, consisting of one hundred thousand
foot, twenty thousand horse, thirty-two elephants, and three hundred
armed chariots of war. Judas's army being so small, compared with that
of the enemy, encouraged his men by the watchword which he issued
among them: "Victory is of the Lord." Animated by the hope of success,
they managed to surprise the enemy at night, and slew upwards of four
thousand of them, and then made a safe retreat to Jerusalem. In this
encounter, Eleazer, one of the brothers of Judas, evinced great
courage; he saw one of the elephants raised much higher than the rest.
Supposing that the king himself must be mounted thereon, he ran
through the camp, made his way to the beast, and thrust him through
with his spear. The wound proving mortal, the beast with his heavy
burthen fell down and crushed Eleazer to death.

Antiochus Eupator's army then marched to Jerusalem under the command
of Lysias, and besieged the sanctuary. During this siege, the Jews
suffered much from the want of provisions. They were on the point of
surrendering to the enemy, when, by the providence of the Almighty,
they were strangely released from the impending danger. It happened
that Lysias, the general, heard that the city of Antioch was seized by
one Philip, a favorite of the late king, who had taken upon himself
the government of Syria; Lysias, on this account, persuaded the
present king to declare peace with the Jews, to which proposal he
readily consented.

About this time Demetrius, the cousin of Antiochus, became king in his
place, under the following circumstances: Demetrius was the son of
Seleucus Philopater, the eldest brother of Antiochus Epiphanes; at his
death, Seleucus endeavored to persuade the Romans to assist him in
obtaining the kingdom of Syria, but without success. Being
disappointed in his expectations, Demetrius went to Syria and there
induced the people to believe that the Romans had sent him. On the
strength of this report, Antiochus Eupator, and his general, Lysias,
were seized by their own soldiers, and put to death by order of

Demetrius being seated on the throne, one Alcimus, a descendant of the
tribe of Aaron, applied to him to be assisted in procuring the
appointment of high priest, to which office he had been raised by the
late king, Antiochus Eupator. Alcimus had been refused by the Jews, he
having complied with the heathen superstition in the time of the
persecution, in order to gain favor with the king and his generals.
Judas and his party, now, as before, strenuously opposed the
appointment of Alcimus, though strongly recommended by Demetrius. This
opposition to his wishes, induced Demetrius to send one Bacchides to
enforce the command of the king, but to no purpose. Demetrius then
selected Nicanor, who was master of his elephants, as the future
governor of Judea, with instructions to kill Judas, and bring the
people under still greater subjection. Nicanor was at first unwilling
to make war against Judas, but being urged on by the king, he pursued
it with fresh fury; he boldly declared his intention to demolish the
Temple at Jerusalem, and build one on the same spot in honor of the
idol Bacchus. Nicanor was slain in the battle, and his army entirely
routed by Judas and his party. Judas, desirous of making an example of
this wicked man, for his blasphemous words which he uttered against
the Temple of the Lord, cut off the head and right hand of Nicanor,
and placed them in a conspicuous situation on one of the towers in
Jerusalem. Judas then gave orders that a day should be annually
appointed as a day of thanksgiving, in memory of this victory, which
was called Nicanor's day. This day is not however celebrated as a
holiday among the Jews in the present generation; it has been
discontinued for many ages past.

At this period the Romans were growing great and powerful; Judas,
aware of the danger likely to result from such power, deemed it
advisable for the good of his country to propose a league with the
Romans, to which they readily consented, and acknowledged the Jews as
their friends and allies. Demetrius then received orders not to
interfere with the Jews any more. Unhappily for Judas and his people,
before the orders had reached Demetrius, he had already despatched
Bacchides a second time to avenge the course of Nicanor, who had been
slain, and to insist on establishing Alcimus in the priesthood. This
circumstance proved very unfortunate for both Judas and his
countrymen. Judas having but three thousand men with him, was
overpowered by the strong forces of Bacchides; so little chance was
there of success on the part of Judas, that many of his men deserted
him through fear and fright. Judas, brave and valiant to the last in
defence of his country's cause, and scorning to flee even for his
life, fell a victim to the fury of the enemy.

The death of Judas created great excitement among the people, and
sorely depressed their spirits. They became absorbed in sorrow and in
grief for the loss of their noble chieftain. The people had fallen
into such a state of lethargy, that they became an easy prey to the
tyrant Bacchides, who, taking advantage of this state of things,
committed great havoc among the people, and put to the sword all of
Judas's friends and companions on whom he could lay hand.

Alcimus also availed himself of this opportunity, and exercised his
authority in the office of the priesthood. He introduced into the
worship of the Temple, imitations of heathen idolatry, and gave orders
that the sanctuary should be thrown open, with equal freedom and
liberty, both to Gentiles and to Jews. Alcimus, however, did not long
prosper in his wicked career; in a very short time he was struck with
palsy, deprived of his speech, and ultimately died in great anguish of
mind and torment of body.

After the death of Judas Maccabees, his brother Jonathan was
unanimously appointed by the people as their leader. Jonathan was ably
assisted by his brother Simon; they both bravely resisted the many
inroads made upon them by their enemies. Bacchides finding himself so
powerfully opposed, sued for peace, which was granted on condition
that he should restore all the captive Jews, depart from Judea
forever, and in no way molest the people of that country. These
conditions were cheerfully accepted by Bacchides, who left Judea in
peace and in tranquility.

Jonathan, happy in having restored peace, commenced to govern his
people under the old Jewish polity; he resumed all the rites and
ceremonies of the Jewish religion, and succeeded in obtaining the
confidence of his people by the zeal which he evinced in the
performance of the duties of his office.

After the death of Alcimus, the office of high priest remained vacant
seven years, when a man calling himself Alexander, appeared, and
declared that he was a son of Antiochus Epiphanes. He seized the
kingdom of Africa, and solicited Jonathan to join him against
Demetrius, who had proved himself a formidable enemy of the Jews. As
an inducement to Jonathan, Alexander made the following proposals to
him: That Jonathan should be constituted both the Governor and the
High Priest of the Jews, and be called the king's friend and

Jonathan considering these proposals likely to prove beneficial to his
people, and there not being any one else for the priesthood, consulted
them on the subject, and with their unanimous consent he accepted the
offer made by Alexander.

At the following Feast of Tabernacles, Jonathan was duly installed in
his new office, and vested with the sacerdotal robes usually worn by
the high priests. Being thus dignified, he joined Alexander, and
proceeded to battle against Demetrius, whose army was totally routed,
and he himself, slain on the battle field.

It is said that from this time forward the high priesthood continued
in the family of the Asmoneans or Maccabees, till the days of Herod,
who changed it from an office of inheritance to an arbitrary
appointment. Herod appointed those whom he pleased, without reference
to merit or ability. This practice was continued until the total
extinction of the priesthood at the final destruction of the Temple by
the Romans.

Jonathan succeeded by his judicious conduct, in securing for his
people their possessions, with free scope to exercise all their
religious rites, without any interruption from their neighbors. He
occasionally extended his assistance to those of the nations who
proved kind to him, by which means the bond of friendship became
strongly cemented between both parties.

Like most great men, Jonathan had his enemies: among them was one
Tryphon, who sought to possess the kingdom of Syria, and by whose
treachery, Jonathan was made prisoner in Ptolemais, and was afterwards
cruelly murdered, together with his two sons.

The death of Jonathan and his two sons caused great lamentations among
the people. Being in constant fear of their enemies, and now without a
leader, they were at a loss what to do. In this dilemma they applied
to Simon, the only surviving brother of Judas, to become their chief.
Simon consenting to become their general, a council of war was called,
at which meeting he was unanimously appointed and vested with power
equal to his predecessors. Simon having been regularly installed into
his new office, commenced his career by addressing his brethren in the
following manner:

"You, my countrymen, are not ignorant how bravely my father, brothers,
and myself, have fought in defence of our laws and our religion, our
Temple and our people. They have sacrificed their lives in that
glorious cause; I, only I, survive to maintain it. God forbid I should
value my life at a higher price than they did theirs. Behold me then
as they were, to glory in this undertaking, to die in defence of our
nation, our Temple, our wives and our children." "Take courage my
friends; the Lord is with us, and success will crown our righteous

Simon at the request of the people, then assumed the sacred office of
the priesthood.

Having now entered into his new office, he procured the dead bodies of
his brother Jonathan and his two sons, and buried them with great
honors in the sepulchre of his fathers at Modin, and erected a stately
monument to their memory.

Simon then repaired the fortresses and the walls of the city, which
had been destroyed by their enemies, built for himself a very splendid
mansion, and made Jerusalem his place of residence, where he held his
court. The Jews were still annoyed by the garrison on the tower of
Acra, when they went to and returned from the Temple. Simon succeeded
in shutting up the enemy so closely in the tower that many perished
from famine, which made the survivors surrender the tower. Simon being
in possession of the tower, he, with the sanction of the people,
pulled it down, and lowered the mount in such a way so that it could
no more be made available for the purpose of annoying the people when
assembled at their worship in the Temple.

Simon now turned his attention to the repairs of the sanctuary. He
enforced a rigid observance of the laws of God, and successfully
introduced peace and unanimity of feeling among the people. The nation
at large, sensible of the good conduct of their leader, convened a
general meeting of all the elders, priests and magistrates at

At this meeting it was unanimously resolved, that the office of
Governor of the nation, and that of the high-priesthood, should be
henceforth vested permanently in Simon and his posterity after him, so
that the said office should be hereditary in his family for ever. It
was further decreed that an account of the noble deeds of Simon and
his family should be engraven on a tablet, and placed in the Temple as
an everlasting memorial, and that a copy of the same should be placed
on the records in Judea. This excellent priest was held in such high
estimation by all the surrounding nations, that the Romans sought his
friendship, entered into a covenant with him, and conferred on him
many honors.

The king of Syria followed the example of the Romans, and entered into
a similar covenant with Simon.

The king of Syria, however, was not true to his covenant, he having
after a time invaded Judea. Simon assisted by his two eldest sons,
bravely defended themselves, and drove the enemy away with great

Simon continued to maintain a high reputation in his office for about
eight years. He was at all times employed in providing for the comfort
and welfare of his people. Simon now set out to examine into the
affairs of his country, accompanied by his two sons, Judas and
Mattathias. Having arrived at Jericho, they were invited by Ptolemeus,
the son-in-law of Simon, to a banquet which he had prepared for them.
Simon readily accepted this polite invitation of his relative, not
suspecting in the least any treachery on the part of Ptolemeus, who
had already concerted his plans with the court of Syria to destroy his
father-in-law and his two sons who were then with him. While the
guests were indulging at the banquet, Simon and his two sons were
inhumanly murdered by order of Ptolemeus. He then dispatched a party
to the residence of John, another son of Simon, who was captain of the
forces at Judea, with orders to murder him also. John fortunately
gained intelligence of all that had occurred at Jericho to his father
and brothers, as also the plot laid for him. He courageously and
bravely defended himself, and cut to pieces the enemy.

John then fled to Jerusalem for safety. Ptolemeus followed him, and
arriving at the same time, they both presented themselves at different
gates. From the respect the people had for Simon and his ancestors,
John was received by the people with open arms, whilst the murderer of
Simon and his two sons, was repulsed with all his followers. John was
then unanimously appointed to succeed his father, both in the
government and the priesthood. He was then surnamed Hyrcanus, and
henceforward known by the name of John Hyrcanus.


      Of the Jewish affairs under the conduct of the posterity
      and successors of Simon the Maccabee.

Antiochus Sidetes, being informed of the death of Simon, and being
invited by Ptolemeus, invaded Judea again, besieged Jerusalem, and
reduced Hyrcanus and the Jews to the last extremity of famine.
Hyrcanus then sued for peace, which was granted on the condition of
paying certain tributes to the king, and removing the fortifications
of Jerusalem. A few years after, Antiochus died, which occasioned
great confusion among the surrounding nations; Hyrcanus took advantage
of this to enlarge his territories, by seizing some neighboring towns
round about Judea, and renounced all further dependence on the kings
of Syria. Hyrcanus then renewed the friendship originally made by his
father with the Romans, who assisted him in being released from the
tribute paid to the Syrians; at the same time he received a
compensation from them for former injuries done by them to the Jews.

It was at this time that the Edomites, or Idumeans, lived on the
south side of Judea. Hyrcanus proposed to them either to embrace
Judaism or leave the country. The Edomites readily acquiesced, and
became Jews. They ultimately became so incorporated among the Jews,
that in less than two centuries scarcely any trace or character was
left to signalize the Edomite nation.

Hyrcanus's power being thus increased by the addition of these
Edomites, he turned his attention to the Samaritans. He marched with
his army and took Shechem, which was then the chief seat of the
Samaritan sect; he destroyed their Temple which Sanballat had built
for them on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans, however, continued to keep
the altar there, and to offer sacrifices thereon.

Hyrcanus became master of Samaria, ruled in Judea, in Galilee, and in
some of the adjacent towns; he proved himself one of the noble princes
of his age; he, with great perseverance, preserved both the Jewish
church and the state from the power of their enemies, throughout a
long and tedious government. He was so highly esteemed among the
people, that they believed him to be a prophet, from the fact that he
had predicted one or two things which eventually came to pass. He
built the castle _Baris_ on a rock about fifty cubits high, outside
the square of the Temple; this was used as the palace of the Asmonean
princes in Jerusalem, and here the sacred robes of the high priest
were deposited when they were not in use.

Toward the close of his life, Hyrcanus experienced severe troubles;
his claim to the priesthood was questioned by a bold and daring man,
one of the Pharisees, of whom we shall speak hereafter in the course
of the work, as also of the different other sects which sprang up in
those days.

Hyrcanus, supposing that this bold man represented the whole body of
the Pharisees, without even inquiring into the matter, immediately
renounced the Pharisees, and rashly joined the sect called Sadducees.
This hasty conclusion of Hyrcanus, considerably lessened that love and
esteem in which the people had previously held him. The Pharisees felt
indignant at the conduct of Hyrcanus in this instance; and forgetting
all former favors received at his hands, proved very ungrateful toward
him. They became arrogant and mutinous, which caused Hyrcanus entirely
to desert their party, and even refused to meet them any more. Many
civil broils and troubles ensued, which sorely embittered the
declining life of Hyrcanus, and he died during the following year.

Hyrcanus had been in office nearly thirty years, during which time his
wisdom and counsel at home, and his bravery and conquests abroad,
marked his reign one of glory and happiness. The commonwealth
recovered more of its glory during his government, than at any other
period since the return from Babylon. It is generally supposed that
his death was hastened by the troubles which began to surround him.

Hyrcanus had five sons; the eldest, named Aristobulus, succeeded his
father as high priest and governor in Judea. He then took upon himself
the title of king, which had fallen into disuse since the Babylonish

Aristobulus did not follow the good example of his noble father. We
are informed how he became the murderer of his mother; it having been
reported that she laid claim to the government. Three of his brothers
he put into close confinement, and the fourth, who was even his
favorite, he had put to death owing to a false report being raised
that he would oppose him in the government.

Aristobulus now fixed his household and other affairs, according to
his own wishes. He then put himself at the head of his army, attacked
and subdued the Itureans who lived on the north-east of the land of
Galilee. Having the people thus in his power, he compelled them to
embrace the Jewish religion, which they did out of fear, and thus
became mixed among the people of Israel. In the midst of all these
victories, Aristobulus was taken sick and brought to Jerusalem.
Antigonus, one of his brothers, acted in his stead.

Aristobulus continued dangerously sick, and there appeared but little
hope of his recovery. This being apparent to the king's courtiers, who
were jealous of Antigonus, they endeavored to persuade the king that
his brother was not faithful to him. In this intrigue they were
supported by the queen.

On the return of Antigonus to Jerusalem, he repaired to the Temple,
there to return thanks to God for his success, and to pray for the
recovery of his sick brother. Whilst thus piously engaged, it was
represented to the king that his brother was attempting to usurp the
government, which the king too readily received as truth, from the
statements previously made to him, and gave orders for his brother to
appear in the sick chamber. Antigonus obeyed, and attended in full
uniform. The king then desired him to unrobe. This command was given
in such a tone, as to assure him that a refusal would be considered as
treason, and punished accordingly.

Antigonus retired, much degraded and sorely perplexed as to the cause.
The queen, who, we have already noticed was in the conspiracy, then
wrote to him that the king had changed his mind and that he wished to
see him in his uniform, having been told of the beauty of his armour.
Antigonus accordingly repaired in full dress to the palace, and on his
way to the king's chamber, he was slain by the guard. This
assassination of Antigonus, caused the king to reflect with keen
remorse, both on account of this murder, as well as that of his
mother. His mind became sorely agitated, which brought on a vomiting
of blood, so that he died in great agony of both body and mind.

Thus ended the life of him, who is handed down to posterity as one of
the most wretched beings recorded in the annals of Jewish history; and
it is worthy of notice how God punishes the wicked. He who had shed so
much innocent blood, that his own blood was made to flow from him
until he breathed his last; an example as well as a warning to those
who were in the service of this wicked man, and who were following the
same sinful career as their cruel master.

Aristobulus was succeeded by his brother Alexander; he began his reign
by putting his brother to death, because of some attempt to supplant
him in the government. Alexander immediately set about arranging all
matters relating to the home department, and then commenced to attack
his neighbors around him without any reserve.

At this time Ptolemy Lathyrus was heir to the crown of Egypt;
Alexander behaved very deceitfully toward him, which caused much
enmity and ill feeling to exist on both sides; and the result was, a
very severe battle between them, near the river Jordan. Alexander and
his army were completely routed, with the loss of about thirty
thousand men.

There is a very cruel and barbarous action charged to Lathyrus on this
occasion. On the evening after the victory, he marched his men from
the field of battle to take up quarters in the adjacent villages,
which were all crowded with the wives and children of the vanquished
army. He gave orders to kill all of them, without any distinction;
their bodies to be cut in pieces and boiled in cauldrons. It is
supposed that he did this with a view of creating terror among all the
surrounding nations, and to cause a belief that his men fed on human
flesh. After this, Lathyrus ranged at liberty all over the country,
plundering and destroying it in a very lamentable manner; for
Alexander after this battle, was not in a condition to resist him.

In this dilemma, Alexander fortunately met with assistance from
Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. Cleopatra, fearing lest Lathyrus, her
eldest son, should become possessed of Judea, and might be induced to
take Egypt out of her hands, agreed with her youngest son to support

Alexander, encouraged by such offers of support, resumed his courage,
besieged many places, and gained the fortress of Gadara and Anathus,
toward Galilee, together with much treasure; but he was surprised by
Theodorus, prince of Philadelphia, who had laid up that treasure
there, with the loss of ten thousand men. Yet being a man of courage
and diligence, Alexander assembled his men and succeeded in taking the
city of Gaza from the Philistines, who were entirely defeated by his
army. He took possession of the chief cities, and made them part of
his own dominions. The Philistines being thus subdued, were glad to
embrace Judaism as a protection from further inroads. It appears to
have now become a custom with the Asmonean princes to impose their
religion on all the conquered, leaving them no other choice but to
become proselytes or to be banished.

Alexander was not, however, well supported by his own people, many of
them being opposed to him. These were chiefly of the Pharisees, who
were very numerous and influential, and were supported by a large body
of their class, who were excited to such a degree, that they insulted
Alexander, while at the altar performing the duties devolving upon him
as high priest.

Alexander, enraged at such conduct by his own people, sought to be
revenged, and appointed his own body guard from the heathen nations,
fearing to trust himself in the hands of his own people. This act
brought on a civil war which lasted six years; it was the cause of
much grief and calamity throughout the land, and occasioned the death
of about fifty thousand people. Though Alexander gained many victories
over his enemies, yet he became much weakened from their continual
attacks: he at length sued for peace, offering the people to grant
them whatever they would reasonably desire. But so embittered were the
people against him, that they declared nothing would satisfy them but
his life. This reply on their part, aggravated the cause, and the war
was continued still more rigorously on both sides. As all mundane
affairs must have an end, Alexander after having encountered many
severe conflicts, at last gained one great battle, which concluded
this protracted war. Numbers of his enemies fell victims to his fury,
while others were driven to the city of Bethome, and there were
besieged. Alexander having taken the place, he had eight hundred of
the people carried to Jerusalem, and there had them all slain in one
day, together with their wives and children. This act of Alexander's
terrified the Jews to such an extent that they never again attempted
any insurrection. We cannot however refrain from observing here, that
however provoked Alexander might have been, he justly merited by this
cruel conduct the reproach of after ages; such conduct being
incompatible with his dignified station as high priest, in whose heart
nought but peace and humanity should ever find place.

Alexander, like most cruel monarchs after having satiated their lust
for blood, gave himself up to very inordinate luxuries, which in the
end produced an attack of ague, very severe in its character. This
disease ultimately proved fatal to Alexander, who died in the camp
while he was besieging a castle of the Gerasenes beyond Jordan.
Alexander reigned twenty-seven years; he left two sons, Hyrcanus and
Aristobulus; he bequeathed the government to his wife Alexandra,
during her life time, and to be disposed of at her death to which of
her sons she pleased. Alexandra in a flood of tears, expressed to her
dying husband her justly apprehended dread of the Pharisees, who had
grown into a powerful party at that time in Jerusalem. Alexander
listened to his wife with considerable emotion, while he employed his
last moments in contriving an expedient for the removal of her fears.
The dying man then addressed his wife in the following words:

"Alexandra, you are not unacquainted with the cause of our mutual
enmity. I am well convinced that your security and happiness, when I
am dead, must rise or fall, as you make them your friends or your
foes. I advise you, therefore, to keep my death a secret from the
army, till they have taken the fort, then lead them in triumph to
Jerusalem; carry my body with you, and as soon as you arrive assemble
the heads and the leaders of that party, and lay it before them; tell
them you submit it wholly to them, after the injuries it had done
them, to give it burial, or cast it ignominiously on the highway; as
for your part, you are devoted to them, they shall always be your
first advisers, at the head of your council; you will do nothing
without their consent and approbation; begin instantly to show them
some marks of your favor and friendship, upon which they will order my
body a royal burial, and they will support you and your sons in the
peaceful enjoyment of the kingdom."

Alexandra followed the advice of her husband, and kept his death a
secret from the world, till the castle was taken. She then led the
army back to Jerusalem, and gave the body of her deceased husband to
the Pharisees, to act with it as they pleased, at the same time
declared herself ready to be guided by them in the management of all
the affairs of the government. This declaration on the part of
Alexandra, gained for her the confidence of the Pharisees, who granted
to her late husband an honorable funeral.

Alexandra thus enjoying the good opinion of the Pharisees, assumed
the government, enlisted herself under their banner, and became firmly
and peaceably settled on the throne; she then invested Hyrcanus, her
eldest son, with the office of high priest. Alexandra, at the request
of a party of the Pharisees, gave her consent to punish all the
persons who had counselled her late husband to behave so cruelly to
the mass of the people; these men were in their turn put to death by
the Pharisees. The queen was induced to adopt this medium in order to
prevent any further civil wars; the evil consequences of which she had
so sadly experienced, and which, therefore, she was so desirous to

Alexandra having reigned nine years, died in the seventy-third year of
her age; leaving by her will, the whole of the government to her
eldest son, Hyrcanus, who was then the high priest. He is known in
history by Hyrcanus the second. He was bred and trained in the schools
of the Pharisees, and consequently influenced by their tutorage.

Hyrcanus did not long enjoy his new office. Aristobulus, his younger
brother, perceiving that the people and the army were weary of the
administration of the Pharisees, raised an army against his brother
Hyrcanus, and marched them on to the plains of Jericho. A desperate
battle was fought, Hyrcanus was put to flight, and the remainder of
his forces joined those of Aristobulus. Hyrcanus in this dilemma, went
to Jerusalem, shut himself up with a small party in the citadel, and
appeared happy to accept any terms in order to procure peace.

Aristobulus then deprived his brother of both the regal and pontifical
dignities, commanding the same to be resigned to him, which having
been done, Hyrcanus was expelled the capital, and compelled to retire
into private life. Hyrcanus, being of a peaceful disposition, made no
resistance, although he had enjoyed his regal honors but three months.

Aristobulus then ascended the throne of his father, but he did not
prove so happy on it as he had anticipated, as we shall learn from the
following circumstance. An Idumean named Antipater, who was brought up
in the court of Alexander with Hyrcanus, advised him to seek
assistance at the hands of Aretas, the king of Arabia, and not quietly
suffer himself to be so easily vanquished. Hyrcanus, acting on the
advice of Antipater, applied to Aretas, who immediately headed an army
to espouse the cause of Hyrcanus. An obstinate battle took place in
which Aristobulus was totally defeated, driven into the mountains, and
there sorely besieged.

At this time there lived at Jerusalem, a very pious man named Onias.
He was so much esteemed and beloved by the people for his true piety
and virtue, that it was generally believed, that at the instance of
this good man's prayers, the Almighty had sent rain from heaven in a
season of great drought. The people imagining that he possessed a
similar power in cursing as well as blessing, prayed to him to curse
Aristobulus and all his party. This good man weary of their
importunities, and anxious if possible to satisfy their wishes, raised
his hands towards heaven in prayer, of which the following is said to
be a copy:

"O God of the universe, since those that are with us are thy people,
and they that are besieged in the Temple are thy priests, I pray that
thou wouldst hear the prayers of neither of them against each other."

The multitude, disappointed at the good man's prayer, cruelly murdered
him on the spot.

This circumstance tended to increase the enmity between both parties,
and provoked a warfare between the two brothers and their parties.

The two brothers ultimately agreed with each other to lay the matter
before Pompey, the Roman general, for his decision. The mass of the
people, however, were not satisfied with this plan of appealing to the
Roman general, and declared that they would not be ruled by princes,
but by God's priests. The appeal was made to Pompey, who did not feel
disposed to give an immediate decision. Aristobulus availed himself of
this opportunity, and prepared himself for a fresh war. Pompey hearing
this, immediately seized Aristobulus in one of his castles, and
confined him in prison. He then marched his army in front of
Jerusalem; a division within weakened its power, the two opposite
parties contending. At length Hyrcanus's party prevailed and threw
open the gates of the city. The adherents to Aristobulus retreated and
fortified themselves in the Temple, and on Mount Moriah. Pompey and
his army marched through the city, and laid close siege to the
Temple. The Jews held out for three months; at length a huge tower was
thrown down, and a breach was made large enough for an assault; the
place was taken sword in hand, and so fierce was the battle, that more
than twelve thousand persons were slain.

It has been remarked by historians, "how is it possible that so strong
a place could have been taken in so short a time?" The cause of this
easy victory on the part of the Romans was, in consequence of the Jews
having suffered the enemy to prepare their war machines on the Sabbath
day undisturbed, notwithstanding the agreement made in the days of
Judas Maccabees, that they should defend themselves if attacked on the
Sabbath day.

Pompey then entered the holy edifice, and being overawed by some
religious prepossession, refrained from defiling any of the sacred
vessels, nor did he attempt to touch about two thousand talents of
gold, which were laid up for the service of God's Holy Temple. On the
contrary, Pompey ordered the Temple to be purified, and on the very
next day, its usual services were resumed. Thus an end was put to the
very serious quarrel and contention between the two brothers.

It may be worthy of notice, that though this Roman general was not
disposed to plunder the sacred property of the Temple on this
occasion, yet it escaped not the avarice and covetousness of another
Roman general. Crassus, when he became Governor of Judea instead of
Gabinius, plundered the Temple, and carried off the solid beams of
gold, magnificent vessels, utensils and golden tables, and all the
beautiful hangings, which adorned the Holy of Holies. This wicked
man's sacrilege did not pass unpunished, for when he was in an
engagement with the Parthians, he was defeated, and met with his
death, and as a mark of infamy, his head was cut off, and molten gold
was poured down his throat, to show to the people how much benefit the
gold was to him which he took from the holy Temple.

Pompey now demolished the walls of Jerusalem, slew many of the chief
supporters of Aristobulus, and restored Hyrcanus to the office of high
priest, and made him also the Governor, but under tribute to the

Aristobulus and his sons were carried prisoners to Rome, whence they
escaped after a time, and made several attempts to regain their former
position, but without success.

It may fairly be concluded that in consequence of the civil broils
between Aristobulus and his brother Hyrcanus, the Jewish nationality
became very much shaken, and ultimately produced the total ruin of
both Jerusalem and the whole of Judea. At this time the regal power
was arrested, and enjoyed by the Romans. The sovereign authority had
hitherto descended with the priesthood; although at different periods
already mentioned, the Jews were subject to the several strange powers
who had become their masters.

The enemies of the Jews did not seem to be satisfied with their
already degraded state; but every exertion must be made to crush them
still more, by even preventing them from attending and praying to the
God of their fathers. This infliction appears to have been far more
grievous to the nation at large, than all the worldly persecutions
which could possibly have been invented against them.

After a short time, Gabinius, a Roman general, passed through Judea on
an expedition. He took upon himself to reduce the power of Hyrcanus,
and made new arrangements relating to the Sanhedrim or Jewish Senate.

All these differences were however, very happily settled in a short
time by Julius Cæsar, who, when Emperor of Rome, listened to the
petition of Hyrcanus, and granted him permission to rebuild the walls
of Jerusalem. This enabled Hyrcanus to resume the former friendship
between the Jews and the Romans, who passed a unanimous decree in
their favor.

During this time, Antipater, who had encouraged Hyrcanus in the
recovery of the government of Judea, was in the employ of Julius
Cæsar. Antipater was appointed Lieutenant of Judea, by Julius Cæsar,
under Hyrcanus, who was now in full power both in the government and
the priesthood. The eldest son of Antipater was made Governor of
Jerusalem, while his second son Herod, was made Governor of Judea.
This Herod became after a time, great in power, as we shall hereafter
read of him. He was called Herod the Great, and became King of Judea.
Antipater did not long enjoy his office. Malichus, who envied him his
position, had Antipater poisoned. Herod having discovered this,
obtained permission of the Roman general to have Malichus captured and
put to death as a murderer.

Pacorus, the Parthian general, was at this time at war with the
Romans. By some treachery or other, Hyrcanus, and his eldest son
Phasael, came into the custody of Pacorus; Jerusalem was taken, and
Antigonus appointed Ruler in Judea. Hyrcanus and his son were
delivered over to him in chains and made prisoners. Herod, however,
had made his escape. Phasael, weary of his existence in prison, put an
end to his own life. Hyrcanus had both his ears lopped off, in order
to disqualify him for the priesthood; he was then banished the country
to prevent him appearing against Antigonus.

Herod, in the mean time, repaired to Rome, to lodge his complaint, and
fully to report all that had happened. Herod was well received by Mark
Antony and Octavius, who governed Rome at that time, owing to the
death of Julius Cæsar, who was slain in the Senate House at Rome.

Herod's report having been properly accredited, he was immediately
appointed King of Judea, by full consent of the Roman Senate.


      Of the Government of Herod the Great and his posterity
      over Israel.

Herod, having received his appointment, returned to Judea. The first
thing which engaged his attention, was the releasing of his mother,
who had been imprisoned by Antigonus. Herod now declared war against
Antigonus, and with the assistance of the Roman legions, he besieged
Antigonus in Jerusalem.

While preparations were being made to carry on the siege, Herod went
to Samaria, and there married Mariamne, the grand-daughter of Hyrcanus
the second, a descendant of the valiant and noble race of the
Asmoneans. Mariamne was a lady of exquisite beauty and great virtue,
and thus highly calculated to dignify the lofty position she was about
to fill as a queen in Israel. She inherited all the piety and goodness
of her ancestors, who were justly esteemed ornaments to the Jewish
nation. Herod, sensible of this, was the more anxious for the
alliance, in the hope of endearing himself to the great body of the

Herod, successful in his suit, returned to the siege at Jerusalem,
and took it by storm after six months' hard struggle. Antigonus was
taken prisoner by the Romans, who sent him to Antioch; he was
afterwards put to death by Mark Antony, at the instance of Herod the

The death of Antigonus concluded the race of the Maccabees, who had
held the government about one hundred and twenty years.

The possession of Jerusalem, together with the death of Antigonus,
established Herod upon the Jewish throne.

Herod commenced his reign in bloodshed, as the only way open to
establish himself. The partizans of Antigonus fell easy victims to
Herod's cruelty. These were all the counselors of the great Sanhedrim,
excepting the two celebrated and learned divines and disputants,
Hillel and Shamai. These two influential men induced the people to
receive Herod as their King, not for the love they entertained for
him, but, because they foresaw the mischief which would have resulted
from any opposition on their part. Herod now appointed one Ananelus, a
descendant of the house of Aaron as the high priest. He was not of
very high rank, but rather of obscure origin, trained far off in
Babylon; he was therefore suited for Herod, as not likely to oppose
any of his designs which he might form in Judea.

Mariamne, the wife of Herod, considering that the priesthood belonged
to her family, prevailed on her husband to remove Ananelus, and place
her brother in his stead. The queen's brother was at this time only
seventeen years of age; still, he was appointed high priest by Herod,
because of his wife's importunities, though much against his own will.

Hyrcanus, who was in banishment among the Parthians during many years,
hearing of the advancement of Herod, and his marriage with his
grand-daughter, felt a desire to return to Jerusalem, anticipating a
kind welcome at the hands of Herod, on account of the family alliance
which now so closely united them.

Hyrcanus, arriving at Jerusalem, was received by Herod with all the
appearance of pleasure and satisfaction. But a short time after, Herod
fancied that Hyrcanus, being of the Asmonean family, might one day or
other, take the kingdom from him, although Hyrcanus was now upwards of
eighty years old! Herod therefore invented some pretext, and had the
old Hyrcanus put to death.

About this season, a very alarming earthquake shook the whole country
of Judea, and destroyed about thirty thousand of the inhabitants,
together with their houses and their property. Shortly after, a very
destructive pestilence infested Judea, and swept away many of the
people. A few years later a grievous famine pervaded the land, on
which occasion Herod behaved very liberally to the people, in order to
gain their affections; but in this he was disappointed.

It was just at this period that Mark Antony and Octavius, the two
brave Romans, fell into a disagreement with each other. The result
proved in favor of Octavius, by whom Mark Antony was vanquished and
entirely ruined.

Mark Antony was the true and tried friend of Herod, who being now
fearful of the power of Octavius, sought to appease him by making a
servile submission to him. Herod accordingly waited on Octavius in
humble attire, having laid aside his royal diadem, and with a free and
open countenance, confessed his sincere regard and friendship for Mark
Antony in former days; but now he wished to declare his perfect
obedience to the will and wishes of Octavius, if such trust would be
reposed in him at his hands.

Octavius, allured by the flattery and cringing tone of Herod, received
his declaration of obedience in the most polite manner, and requested
him immediately to return, resume the crown, and ascend the throne. He
then fully established Herod in his kingdom, and remained his friend
during his life-time.

The history of Herod's life will be found overshadowed by crimes of
the blackest dye. Avarice, envy, jealousy and pride; these had so
great an effect upon his wicked mind and cruel heart, that no
redeeming quality existed in the breast of this hateful tyrant.

Herod was now visited by severe domestic troubles, which disturbed his
peace of mind, and produced in him great irritability of temper,
violent grief and rage throughout the remainder of his life.

It will be recollected that Mariamne was one of the most beautiful
women in Judea. Herod, fearful lest at his death any other man should
possess so great a beauty as his queen, and lest any branch of the
Asmonean family should become master of Judea, and thus deprive his
own lawful heirs of their right to the crown, gave secret
instructions, that if his death should be before that of Mariamne,
that both she and her mother should be immediately put to death.

This cruel and inhuman decree of Herod reached the ears of the Queen,
who from that very day rejected him for ever, and upbraided him with
the murder of her relations, and that by such means alone he had
obtained the crown. She further resented his wicked designs, by
heaping bitter reproaches on his mother and sister, in reference to
the obscurity of their birth and parentage. Herod's conscience
becoming tormented, he implored his Queen by all kind and affectionate
importunities, but without effect. Mariamne seemed resolved to punish
Herod for his wicked intentions. She would not yield to his
entreaties, and positively determined to discard him for ever. This
conduct of the Queen so enraged Herod, that acting on the advice of
his mother and sister Salome, he slew his beautiful and innocent
Mariamne, and to palliate this outrageous cruelty, alleged that she
had attempted to poison him, and that he only acted in self defense.
It was not long before the mother shared the same fate as her daughter
at the hands of her relentless son-in-law. The death of Mariamne was
not easily forgotten by Herod. It preyed on his mind so violently,
that he became one of the most miserable wretches in existence. His
love for his Queen whom he had so atrociously put to death, produced
extreme grief and vexation of spirit which rendered him truly
wretched. He became more arbitrary and despotic in his government; he
appointed those whom he wished to favor, as high priests, and deposed
them as frequently, to satisfy his unruly passions and caprice of

He introduced innovations into the religious observances of the
Temple, in direct opposition to the will of the people, who
remonstrated with him on the mischief which would result therefrom.

Notwithstanding all the arguments advanced to dissuade him from such
wicked and impious conduct, Herod obstinately adopted the practices
and customs of the heathen nations, under the false pretext of
pleasing and gratifying the wishes of Cæsar.

Herod's conduct in this respect, brought upon him the hatred of the
people; who being jealous at all times lest their ancient and holy
religion should in any way be infringed upon, regarded him with
suspicious distrust. Herod becoming sensible at last of the disrepute
into which he had fallen, and fearful of the consequences thereof,
sought to protect himself by building several strong towers in and
about Jerusalem. He then built temples in the different places and
dedicated them to Cæsar, who was at that time his great friend.

Herod finding that the hatred of the people toward him did not abate,
then sought to appease them, by proposing to pull down the old Temple
and build up a new one in its stead, far superior in every degree to
the one then in existence. In order to induce the people to second his
views, he pointed out the necessity of a new Temple, since the old one
had undergone many repairs, owing to the frequent outrages which had
been committed against it.

The people were, however, not disposed to listen to Herod's proposal
to remove the old Temple until he had assured them that it should
remain untouched till all the requisites for the new building should
be ready and prepared to be set up. Herod, being on this occasion,
earnest in his intentions, executed all that the people requested of
him, at an enormous outlay of both labor and material. To carry out
his plans he employed nearly ten thousand of the best mechanics under
the direction of about one thousand priests. At the expiration of two
years, the new Temple rose in all its glory and splendor, at an
immense labor and cost, as fully described by the faithful historian
Josephus, who says it was one of the most magnificent and beautiful
structures that ever adorned the country of Judea.

When completed, the Temple was dedicated for divine worship on the
anniversary day of Herod's ascension to the throne. The occasion was
celebrated with a large number of sacrifices after the ancient custom,
and amidst great rejoicings and public festivities.

It has been asked why this new Temple, built by Herod, was not called
the third Temple? The reply is, that though it was built anew from
the foundation, yet it was only by way of reparation, it not having
been destroyed by the enemy as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar; nor did
it lay in ashes, and remain desolate, as the first Temple. It is
therefore still designated by the name of the second Temple.

Herod having completed this work to the satisfaction of the people,
was anxious to further secure their good opinion; he therefore
procured for such of his people who were scattered in Greece and Asia
Minor, a renewal of their privileges, and permission to live in other
countries, according to their own laws and religion, which had been
granted them before by the kings of Syria, and by the Romans.

Herod was not permitted to enjoy that peace of mind which he
anticipated; he was visited with domestic troubles which he little
expected, but which he richly deserved. Aristobulus and Alexander, the
two eldest sons of Mariamne, who were educated at Rome, now returned
to Jerusalem. These youths deeply lamented the loss of their mother,
and often reflected with sorrow on her untimely death, and they gave
vent to their feelings by public demonstrations of their resentment
for the death of their injured parent. These expressions being
repeatedly and loudly declared, were very disagreeable to the ears of
Salome, the sister of Herod, who was instrumental in the death of
Mariamne. Salome being wickedly disposed, and probably fearing the
vengeance of the two youths, endeavored to rouse the jealousy and
anger of Herod against his sons, by persuading him that they were
plotting against his life. This intelligence created disputes and
quarrels between the father and the two sons, which lasted many years,
and caused Herod much annoyance and fear during the remainder of his
old age. Salome, by her crafty design, ultimately succeeded in
effecting the execution of the two sons by an edict from Herod, and
the sanction to the same at the hands of Augustus Cæsar. It must be
observed that Herod had been already married to one Doris, previous to
his alliance with Mariamne. By this wife he had a son named Antipater,
who had been actively engaged with Salome in procuring the death of
the two sons of this said Herod.

When Herod was displeased with his two sons, he placed Antipater in
some post of honor; and now that they were dead, he intended that
Antipater should succeed in the kingdom. Antipater eager to obtain the
crown, conspired to poison his father. This being detected, he was
sentenced and condemned to be executed, by and under the directions of
Augustus Cæsar, and with Herod's approbation. This was the third son
whom Herod put to death. In the seventieth year of his age, and five
days after the death of Antipater, Herod himself died by a dreadful
complication of diseases. He was attacked by fever and ulcerated
bowels, in which excruciating pain he lingered for some time, till he
died. No doubt the extreme pains which he suffered, were inflicted as
a punishment for his enormous cruelties, and the multiplied iniquities
of his whole life.

On his death-bed, Herod, considering that the extreme hatred the
people had for him would prevent them from lamenting his loss, and
that his death would no doubt cause much rejoicing in the land, was
determined even in his last moments to be wicked and cruel. To effect
this, he convened a meeting of all the principal Jews, from all parts
of the kingdom, on pain of death, to appear at Jericho where he then
lay. He ordered them all to be shut up prisoners, and then commanded
his sister Salome and her husband, his chief confidants, that they
should have them all put to the sword by the soldiery, for this, said
he, "will provide mourners for my funeral all over the land."

Herod died, but his orders were not attended to, for Salome, although
wicked, hesitated to commit so horrid a deed as the murder of so many
innocent persons, and therefore as soon as Herod was dead, she
released all the prisoners.

At Herod's death, his son Archelaus succeeded him in the government of
Judea, nearly ten years, during which time he was guilty of many acts
of cruelty and tyranny, for which he was ultimately deposed by the
Roman emperor, and banished to an obscure place in France. The Romans
being so displeased with the evil practices and bad government of
Archelaus, they reduced Judea to a Roman province, to be ruled by a
Roman procurator or governor, who was sent thither and removed
therefrom at pleasure. It was now that the power of life and death
was taken out of the hands of the Jews, and placed in that of the
Roman governor; and from that time all taxes were gathered by the
publicans, and paid directly to the Roman emperor.

This new regulation very much annoyed the people; for the Pharisees,
and all those under their influence, considering it unlawful to
acknowledge a heathen for their king or governor, looked upon their
tax-gatherers with greater detestation than any of those kings or
governors of former days, appointed to rule over them, and who were of
their own nation or religion. True, Herod was an Idumean by birth, yet
all the Idumeans having embraced the Jewish religion, he was so far
counted a lawful governor, that the people did not scruple to pay him
their taxes. The Romans followed the plan adopted by Herod in the
appointment of the high priests, and the removing of them as often as
they pleased, to answer their own purposes.

In this way the affairs of the Jews were carried on for some years,
when about this period christianity was ushered into the world; which
caused much rage and persecution to take place among the Jews, until
at last they were driven to such extremities, and thus exposed to the
furious and formidable army of the Romans, who were then great in
power; and the Jews were thus so weakened by the continued inroads
made upon them, that they fell an easy prey to the enemy. The city of
Jerusalem was utterly demolished, the beautiful Temple desecrated and
finally destroyed, and about eleven hundred of the people perished in
the conflict. The country all round became desolate; the streets
overflowing with human blood, terrified the few of the poor Jews who
still survived, so that they fled for their lives, and were scattered
all over the face of the globe. Thus ended the Jewish polity; from
that time up to the present, the Jewish nation has been dispersed
throughout the known world; seeking protection under those governments
where they may chance to fix their residence. In concluding this
portion of the work, we venture the following few remarks:

From the time when the Jews returned from the Babylonish captivity,
both the Temple service and the general affairs of the nation at
large, appear to have been in an unsettled state. Oppressed and
persecuted by the various powers near and about Judea; the continued
civil broils among themselves; the tyranny and cruelty of their own
kings and priests, all tended to keep them in a state of confusion and
disorder: yet worse still, was the neglect of God's holy laws, and the
introduction of heathen rites and customs, by which the pure religion
of their ancestors became polluted. Add to this the innovations which
were permitted to creep in upon the sacred worship of God, and the
party feeling which strengthened such on the one hand, and the furious
opposition on the other--this had the effect of preventing the nation
from possessing that peace of mind and happiness which they would have
otherwise enjoyed, owing to those glorious prophetic predictions
which made such an impression on them, and which promised nought but
real comfort and divine peace on their release from Babylonish

It is therefore to be concluded that there is a period yet to come,
which shall bring together again all the scattered flock of Israel, to
the Holy Land of their fathers. Then will they be convinced of their
past errors, and the sins committed by their fathers of old, whose
wickedness brought down upon them the just vengeance of an offended
God. Then will all the blessings reserved for the righteous, be
conferred upon them in that day, as foretold by the prophet Zephaniah:

"At that time will I bring you _again_, even in the time that I gather
you; for I will make you a name and a praise among all the people of
the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the


Part Second.



The Assideans.

After the spirit of prophecy had ceased among the Jews, and there
being no inspired persons to whom they could apply as formerly, they
fell into religious doubts and disputes. This caused different
opinions to exist among them, and divided them into sects and parties;
such as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, who were the
principal, and supposed to have arisen out of the Assideans.

The Assideans are called by some "Chasidim," or _pious_. They were a
religious society among the Jews, whose chief and distinguishing
character appears to have been to support the honor of the Temple, and
observe punctually the traditions of the Elders. In the apocryphal
books of the Maccabees, we meet with the word "asidaioi," which no
doubt is derived from the Hebrew word _chasidim_. This sect is
supposed to date their origin either during the captivity, or shortly
after the restoration of the nation. Being of a pious and religious
character, they were the first who adhered to Mattathias, and
afterwards to his son Judas Maccabees, in defense of their religion
and the Law of God. They proved themselves zealous in their cause, as
stated in the following passage: "There came to Mattathias, a company
of Assideans, who were mighty men of Israel, even all such as were
voluntarily devoted unto the law." They were not however, considered a
distinct religious sect from the rest of their brethren; but they were
devoted to their ancient religion and the service of the Temple, the
supporting of the sacrifices, the relief of the poor, and the general
benefit of all their co-religionists. Our views on the subject may be
considered correct, as Josephus, who wrote in those times, and
concerning those affairs, does not mention any such sect being
distinctly marked from the general body of the people. We may
therefore safely adopt the opinions of those who consider the
appellation given them in the book of the Maccabees, to be no more
than used in our days to pious and religious men, who are designated
saints or holy men.


The Pharisees.

This sect derived their name from the Hebrew word "Perusheem," which
signifies separation, and so called because of their being separated
from the body of the people in point of their religious conduct. They
considered themselves more than ordinarily holy, and more strict in
the observance of their religious precepts and ceremonies. It is not
quite certain at what time the Pharisees first made their appearance;
yet there is no doubt, that like all the other sects among the Jews,
they were not known in any way, until some time after the death of
Malachi, the last of the prophets, when the spirit of prophecy ceased
to exist among Israel. Josephus, who was himself of this sect, speaks
of it as flourishing in the days of Johnathan the high priest. In the
days of John Hyrcanus, a high priest of the Asmonean race, they became
very numerous and influential. It is generally admitted that the
Pharisees were more devout than their brethren, and appear to have
excelled in the knowledge of the law, and to have been more skillful
in their interpretation of the same.

The principal doctrines of this sect were as follows:

They held sacred all the traditions of the elders in those days, and
considered the laws of the Rabbins, as contained in the said
traditions, equally binding upon them as the written law. They were of
the belief that the written law could not be properly understood
without the explanation of the oral law, which removed the apparent
difficult passages in the written law. They were guided by the
conviction that both were derived from the same fountain, as handed
down by the tradition from father to son. They further believed, that
when Moses was with God on the mount during forty days, he received
from him both laws--the one in writing, the other traditionary, which
contained the sense and explanation of the former. That Moses having
returned to his tent, taught the same to Aaron, then to his sons,
afterwards to the seventy elders, and lastly to all the people. That
the same was further continued throughout every generation until their
day, and that consequently they considered their system the only true
one, in order to the understanding of the law and the performance of
its precepts. This sect became the most numerous of all the others,
since their doctrines were supported by the scribes and expounders of
the law, who were the most competent judges in those days, and hence
the best calculated to guide the people in all their religious

The Pharisees were, therefore, much respected and highly esteemed by
the general class of the people, who followed their example in the
performance of all their religious observances, and because they would
not encourage any innovations to be made in their religion or temple
worship. They were very particular in the performance of all the
ceremonial part of their religion, considering form and custom to be
the great contributing cause to the cementing more firmly the
principles upon which the Jewish religion is based, and that frequent
changes in religious affairs tend materially to weaken, but not to
strengthen, the cause.

They maintained the belief in the resurrection of the body--at least
of the good--and the future rewards and punishments to all men in an
eternal state of retribution, believing that every soul is immortal.
They ascribed some things to fate, but held that other things were
left in man's own power; that all things were decreed by divine power,
yet not so as to take away the freedom of man in the discharge of
those duties which he is expected to perform in this life, in order to
obtain the promised happiness of an hereafter.

The religion of the Jew in the present day, is that which was
practised by the sect called Pharisees, and is in general use among
all the descendants of Israel, wherever they may be dispersed
throughout the earth. There are some few exceptions, in those who have
seceded, and have set up a standard for themselves; but they are few
in number, and not very significant in the scale of Judaism. The
principle which they so strenuously advocate is a mere change in the
formulæ of prayer, and the mode of synagogue worship, under the idea
of conciliating the Gentiles, by whom they are surrounded. The belief
in the coming of the Messiah, and the resurrection of the dead, as
also the restoration of Israel to the promised land, is not in the
least invalidated. The Jews in general look forward with anxious hope
for the forthcoming of that period in which all this shall come to
pass, as so frequently foretold by the prophets in the various ages in
which they flourished.


The Sadducees.

The Sadducees derive their name from the Hebrew word "Tzaddukeem," so
called from Zadok, who was a pupil of Antigonus, the son of Socho,
president of the Sanhedrim, upwards of two thousand years ago. This
sect arose from the following circumstance.

Antigonus taught in his school the doctrine that "Man ought to serve
God from pure love, and not in a servile manner, either out of fear of
punishment or the hope of reward."

Zadok, not comprehending the spiritual idea of this doctrine,
concluded that there would not be any future state of reward or
punishment; and, accordingly, taught and propagated this false
doctrine after the death of his preceptor, Antigonus.

This sect believed in the written law as handed down from the time of
Moses; but not in the oral or traditional law. They rejected all the
traditions maintained among the Pharisees. They not only denied the
resurrection of the body, but even the existence of the soul after
its departure from the body here on earth. They ignored the idea
entertained of divine decrees, and held the belief that man is
absolute master of his own actions, with the full privilege of acting
as he pleases, either for good or evil. That God does not in anywise
influence his creatures in the doing the one or the other; that man's
prosperity or adversity in life depends entirely on his own acts, and
that both are respectively the result of either his wisdom or his
folly. The Sadducees received the Pentateuch as divine; but not the
other books of the old testament. In the days of Josephus, the
celebrated Jewish historian, the Sadducees were not very numerous, but
supposed to have been the most wealthy among the people; and the more
opulent joined them. We can easily reconcile this to our minds, as we
observe in our times that the rich and the great are apt to prefer the
pleasures and enjoyments of this life to any expectancy in a future
state of existence. Hence they are found ready and willing to embrace
such a system of religion as enables them to follow their own

These men do not wish to tax their minds with any uneasy reflections
on the subject of retribution, or of the world to come, when they
shall be called to account for their past conduct in this life.

The Sadduccees were, however, not tolerated among the mass of the
people, in consequence of their assertions, precepts, and doctrines,
which were held by the community at large as impious, and, therefore,
injurious to the happiness of society.

At the destruction of Jerusalem, this sect became very
insignificant--their name became nearly forgotten for many years--and
subsequently the name was applied to the sect called Karaites, whom we
shall notice hereafter, in reproach and disgrace.


The Samaritans.

The Samaritans were originally heathens, consisting of persons from
the several nations, to whom the king of Assyria gave the lands and
cities of the Israelites when they were made captives by the said

This sect was called Samaritans from the fact of their having been
settled in the city of Samaria, the metropolis of the kingdom of
Israel. When these people were first carried to Samaria, they adopted
the idolatrous worship and customs of the surrounding nations from
among whom they came.

History informs us that Samaria was infested with lions, which the
people supposed to be a judgment from heaven for their idolatrous and
superstitious practices.

The king of Assyria being of the same opinion with the rest of the
people, sent a Jewish priest to instruct them in the Jewish religion,
and to put away their idolatry.

Notwithstanding the instruction they received from the Jewish priest,
these people could not easily be weaned from their old practices; and,
therefore, to conciliate all parties, as they supposed, they made up
among themselves a system embracing the principles of both the Jewish
and the heathen religion.

At the return of the Jewish nation from the Babylonish captivity--and
after the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem--the religion of the
Samaritans underwent a revision, and an alteration in many points,
under the following extraordinary circumstances.

One of the sons of Jehoiada, the high priest, married the daughter of
Sanballat, the Horonite, contrary to the Mosaical law, which prohibits
the inter-marriage of the Israelite with any of the other nations.

Nehemiah in his day zealously endeavored to reform the people among
whom this innovation had spread itself to an alarming extent. He
compelled all those men who had married strange women to repudiate

Manasseh, unwilling to obey the order of Nehemiah, together with many
others who acted in concert with him, left Jerusalem with their wives,
and settled themselves under the protection of Sanballat, the governor
of Samaria.

From that time onward, the worship of the Samaritans came much nearer
to that of the Jews. At a later date, they obtained permission from
Alexander the Great, to build a temple on Mount Gerizim, near the city
of Samaria, in imitation of the temple at Jerusalem, where they
followed the same system of worship, with some few exceptions.

This sect bears some affinity to the Sadducees--it being the
prevailing opinion among the learned, that they rejected all other
sacred writings excepting the five books of Moses.

This circumstance created a strong hatred between the Samaritans and
the original Jews. It was considered in those days a great reproach
among the Jews to be designated a Samaritan. So violent was the
animosity on both sides, that the one would not in any way associate
with the other, nor even perform any acts of civility to each other,
and thus all friendly intercourse ceased among them.

The Samaritans, as well as the Sadducees, are sometimes called by the
Jewish Rabbins, "Cutheem."


The Essenes.

This sect is supposed to have first appeared a short time before the
days of the Maccabees, when the faithful among the Jews, at least
those who were the most scrupulously religious, had to flee from the
power of their cruel enemies, and take up their abode in the deserts
and in caves. Living in such retreats, many of them became so
habituated to retirement, that they preferred to remain so even in
later days, when they might have again appeared in public. In this way
it was, that they formed themselves into recluses.

Although this sect has not been noticed in the scripture history of
the Jews, still they formed a considerable party among them, as
mentioned by Josephus. The Essenes appear to have been rather peculiar
in their mode of living. They loved to be in solitude and retirement,
and were devoted to a contemplative life. They were singular in their
piety, humility, and devotion. It is supposed by some of the ancient
writers, that among this sect it was that the Hebrew philosophy and
metaphysics chiefly flourished, because they showed but little regard
for worldly pleasures--as wealth, honors, or vain-glories. They were
remarkable for their patience, moral conduct, and for their strict
observance of the Sabbath according to the law of Moses.

They were exemplary in their manner of worship, for they would not
speak of any worldly affairs after the sun had risen, until they had
performed their religious duties as customary in those days. In the
present day, nothing is known of this sect; the probability is, that
in the lapse of time, they became mixed up among the rest of their
brethren in their various dispersions throughout the world.

From the account given of the doctrines of this sect by Philo and
Josephus, that they believed in the immortality of the soul; that they
held the scripture in great reverence; they offered no sacrifices, but
sent presents for the support of the temple at Jerusalem.

Their quiet, pious habits, rendered them remarkable. They remained
neutral amidst all the political changes, and were thus respected by
all parties of their own nation, as well as those of the heathens.
They lived chiefly in Palestine and in Egypt.


The Herodians.

The Herodians were considered by some to be a political party, and by
others, a religious sect. Josephus appears to have passed over this
sect in silence, which leads us to suppose that he did not consider
them very formidable. The opinion, however, of most ecclesiastics, is,
that they derived their name from Herod the Great, and that they were
distinguished from the Pharisees, and other Jews, by their agreeing
with Herod's scheme in putting himself and his dominions under the
power of the Romans, and complying with many of the heathen usages and

In their zeal for the Roman authority, they were directly opposite to
the Pharisees, who considered it unlawful to submit to, or to pay
taxes to, the Roman emperor. The Pharisees encouraged this opinion,
because they were forbidden by the law of Moses to set over them a
stranger to be their king. The Herodians were also distinguished,
having adopted some of the idolatrous worship of the heathens, which
had been introduced among them by Herod the Great, when he built a
temple in honor of Cæsar, near the head of the river Jordan; and
erected a magnificent theatre at Jerusalem, in which he introduced the
pagan games, and placed the figure of a golden eagle over the gate of
the holy temple.

Herod also furnished the temples, which he reared in the several
places out of Judea, with images for idolatrous worship, in order to
gain favor with the emperor of Rome; though, at the same time, to the
Jews he pretended to do it in opposition to his own will, but in
obedience to the imperial ordinance. In all these schemes the
Herodians acquiesced, and encouraged their master in his work of

It is also probable, from some account in ancient history, that the
Herodians were chiefly of the sect of the Sadducees, who were very lax
in the performance of their religious duties. This sect was, however,
after a very few years, lost in oblivion, and up to the present day,
nothing more is known of them.


The Galileans, or Gaulonites.

A sect among the ancient Jews, so called from their founder or leader,
Judas of Galilee. It is supposed that this party seceded from the
Pharisees, and formed themselves into a new sect.

This Judas, considering it to be improper for his countrymen to pay
tribute to strangers, excited them to oppose the edict of the emperor,
Augustus, who had decreed that a census should be taken of all his

He declared his reason for this opposition to be, that God alone
should be honored as the supreme master, and not any earthly monarch.
This Judas was in company with one Zadoc, a Sadducee, and they
publicly taught that such taxation was forbidden by the law of Moses.
The tumults which they excited were, however, for a time suppressed;
but their disciples were active in propagating this doctrine. This
caused a secession from the body of the Pharisees, declaring it to be
unlawful to pay for infidel princes. In all other respects, they held
the same doctrine as the original Pharisees; but apart from them,
they performed the duties of sacrifices, and all other forms of
worship peculiar among them in those days.

It is generally supposed that this sect of Galileans ultimately
embodied among themselves most of the other sects which appeared at
that time; and it is even credited, that the zealots, particularly
mentioned at the siege of Jerusalem, were of this faction.


The Karayeem, or Karaites.

The Karaites trace their pedigree from the ten tribes who were carried
away captive by Salmanassar, and settled themselves in Tartary. They
derive their name from the word Kara, which signifies scripture, they
having adhered to the scripture only as the rule of their faith and
religion. Hence they were called Karayeem. They reject the Talmud and
the Mishna, as also all other traditions, and confine themselves
strictly to the written law--the word of God, as they term it--and
content themselves with the literal sense of the text, which admits of
no comment, according to their opinions. The translation of the bible
in use among them, is in the Turkish language, which in all
probability proceeds from their constant intercourse with the

During the time of the celebrated Hillel, and his cotemporary,
Shammai, who were the president and vice president of the Sanhedrin of
those days, the disciples of these two eminent divines became
divided, and formed two parties. They were in constant disputes,
owing to the different opinions entertained by each party on the
several religious subjects. Those who were of the same opinion as the
Karaites, agreed with the school of Shammai; whilst those who were
zealous advocates for tradition, joined the school of Hillel. Though
the name Karaites be thus modern, this sect boasts of their high
antiquity; for they say they are the true followers of Moses and the
prophets, as they undoubtedly are, on account of their adhering so
closely to the scripture.

This sect differs from the rest of the Jews in this respect--they
expound the scripture, after its having been read in the synagogue in
Hebrew, in the language of the country in which they dwell; and they
read most of their prayers after the same manner, both in private and
in public. At Constantinople, where many of them are living, their
translation is in modern Greek; whereas, in Caffa, it is in the
Turkish language. They are found chiefly in the Crimea, Lithuania, and
Persia, at Damascus, Constantinople, and Egypt.

They are proverbial for honesty and integrity, and said to be men of
great learning, piety, and true religious principles.

Their doctrines chiefly are as follow:

They believe in the immortality of the soul, and in rewards and
punishments hereafter. They believe, also, with the rest of Israel,
that the Messiah is yet to come, with the same hope and fervency of
spirit as all Jews of the present day.

They are exemplary in their observance of the Sabbath, and the
festivals, according to the strict letter of the law, as contained in
the bible.

The celebrated traveler, Benjamin of Tudela, who made himself famous
in the twelfth century, visited all the synagogues in the east, where
he became acquainted with all the customs, manners, and ceremonies of
the different parties. He relates that he met some Karaites at
Damascus, in Syria, and in Egypt; that they all appear to have adopted
one uniform mode of worship and religious practices; that they met
with great encouragement in the Ottoman empire, owing to their
unanimity of feeling in synagogue worship, and their general conduct
in religious affairs. In Constantinople, where they are pretty
numerous, they hold an equal position. It was here that Elijah ben
Moses composed his astronomical tables for the capital of the Ottoman
empire. It was here, also, that the learned Rabbi, Judah Alpoka, the
noted Karaite, published his work, the "Gate of Judah," in which he
deplores the unfortunate state of his sect, which, he says, had lost,
by plunder and other persecution, about three hundred volumes of
books, composed in Arabic by their doctors, and translated into

This historian further informs us, that this sect is to be found in
Syria, and as far to the east as Nineveh, from which place, some years
ago, one of the Karaites came to Frankfort, in Germany. He brought
with him some books, which he valued at a very high price. He then
visited Poland, Muscovy, and Lithuania, where many of them are
residing at this day. This proves to us the folly of the vulgar
notion, that this sect are extinct in the west. Doubtless, there are
still many Karaites in these countries who trace their origin from the

Our historian further informs us that, in the course of his travels,
he met in Damascus two hundred Karaites, four hundred Samaritans, and
about three thousand Pharisees, and that none of these sects would
intermarry; and consequently, they remain to this day distinct and
separate, so far as regards their religious intercourse and forms of
worship. In all other respects, however, they are friendly with each
other, and mix together in society as citizens of the world.


Of the Synagogues among the Jews.

The term synagogue signifies simply an assemblage of persons, which
name was applied to places or houses in which the people met for
religious worship. Among the Israelites of old, the word synagogue was
used in its primary sense; as when they speak of the great synagogue,
or the court of the seventy elders, which was instituted in the days
of Moses, the legislator, to superintend the political affairs of the
nation. The number of seventy became, in later days, increased to one
hundred and twenty.

Synagogues were originally instituted as chapels of ease, for the
convenience of those persons who lived far distant from the temple,
and could not, therefore, attend regularly to divine service. In the
later ages of the Jewish state, synagogues became very numerous, even
in Jerusalem, where the temple stood.

The silence of the old testament respecting synagogues, and the
absence of any other authentic account, have induced most historians
to conclude that synagogues were not generally in use before the
Babylonish captivity.

It appears to be the current opinion of many who have written on the
subject, that synagogues were first built during the days of Ezra and
Nehemiah. They directed that in every town and city throughout the
land, where ten men could be assembled, synagogues should be erected
for divine worship, which consisted of prayers and praises, reading
the scripture, and expounding the same, in the language of the country
in which the people lived.

The Israelites having, during their long captivity in Babylon,
neglected the study of the Hebrew language, which was their
vernacular, the result proved that the bible became less understood by
them. It was on this account that Ezra read the law to the people in
Hebrew, and the meaning of the text was given in Chaldee by the
Levites; and thus it was, that the people were enabled to comprehend
the true and proper meaning of that portion of the law when read
publicly every Sabbath in the synagogue. Hence the origin of preaching
in the synagogue, which was considered one of the objects for which
the synagogue was instituted.

After the Babylonish captivity, the erection of synagogues among the
Israelites proved of great utility to the people in general, as the
frequent public reading of the law was the only means of preserving
the true religion of the Jew, and of diffusing the knowledge of the
holy law of God. It cannot be denied, that it had been partially
forgotten during the long and severe captivity; that many of the rites
and ceremonies had fallen into disuse, in consequence of the many
cruel persecutions which were inflicted upon the people, which
unfitted them for the performance of God's holy law.

The regulations for divine service were as follow. Two days in each
week, besides the Sabbath and other festivals, were appointed for this
service in the synagogue, viz: Mondays and Thursdays. The hours for
the daily prayers were at the time of the morning and evening
sacrifices. These hours were devoted to prayer in the temple as well
as in the synagogues, as also to private devotion in the respective
homes of the people.

In addition to these two seasons of prayer, the ancient Hebrews prayed
at the beginning of the first night watch, while the evening sacrifice
was still burning on the altar; as we find recorded of king David in
the book of psalms, who prayed morning, noon, and evening. It is also
mentioned of Daniel, that he prayed three times a day.

The priests and the Levites were devoted to the service of the temple;
but in the service of the various synagogues, persons of any tribe
were appointed, if found competent, by the elders who were the rulers
of the synagogue.

The synagogues were also used in olden times as courts of justice,
more especially in ecclesiastical affairs. The great council of the
nation, called the Sanhedrin, whose department was in the temple at
Jerusalem, was vested with the power of deciding between life and
death. Its authority extended over all the synagogues in Judea, as
also over all other places, where the people resided near Jerusalem.
The great synagogue consisted of one hundred and twenty elders, among
whom were the three later prophets, Hagai, Zacharia, and Malachi. This
conclave continued in succession till the days of Simon, the just, the
high priest in Jerusalem, who was the last of this school. He was
designated the just, because of his devotion and unfeigned piety to
his God, and his upright conduct towards his fellow creatures. This
conclave were zealously engaged in restoring the holy religion of
Israel to its former excellence, which had undergone many corruptions
during the captivity and other persecutions which the people endured
subsequent to that period. They published correct copies of the bible,
and taught the same to the people, in order that they should
understand the religion which they professed to follow.

Then it was that the worship of the synagogue consisted of three
parts--the reading of the scripture, prayer, and preaching. By the
scripture, is understood the pentateuch, portions from the prophets,
and Hagiographa. The pentateuch is divided into fifty-two portions,
for the fifty-two weeks in the year; one of these portions is read
every Sabbath till the whole pentateuch is finished; in addition to
the reading of the law, a chapter from the prophets is read, which
dates its origin to the following fact.

In those days, when Antiochus Epiphanes destroyed all the books in the
possession of the Jews, he prohibited also the reading of the weekly
portions of the law on the Sabbath. The elders then, as a substitute,
selected chapters from the prophets, corresponding, in some measure,
with the context of the weekly portions of the law. This practice was
continued until Judas Maccabees had conquered Antiochus, when the
reading of the law was resumed. To commemorate this event, the
practice of reading the said portions of the prophets, on Sabbaths and
festivals, has been continued among the Jews, and is now in use in all
Jewish orthodox synagogues.

Under the head of synagogues, we must notice that the Jews had schools
wherein the children were taught to read the law; as, also, academies,
in which the rabbins and doctors made comments on the law, and taught
the traditions to their pupils. These academies were furnished with
many tutors, of whom one was appointed as president, and under whose
name the academy was denominated. Of this character, were the two
famous schools of Hillel and Shammai, as also the school of the
celebrated rabbi, Gamliel, whom we shall have to introduce to the
notice of the reader hereafter, when we speak of the compilers of the
Mishna and the Talmud. The subject of prayer will form the contents of
the next chapter.


Of the origin and introduction of Prayer among the Jews.

The bible informs us that, even in the earliest ages of the world,
there existed in the human breast a spontaneous bursting forth of
grateful feeling towards God, the benefactor of mankind.

The first specimen we meet with is in the days of Seth, the third son
of Adam. "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord." The same
expression is used in the history of the patriarch Abraham, who built
altars and prayed to God. His example was followed by Isaac and Jacob,
and their immediate descendants. This "calling on the name of the
Lord," is what we now understand by the term prayer.

From the several verses in Genesis, which speak of the prayers offered
up by the patriarchs, the Talmud infers that the morning prayer was
first introduced by Abraham, afternoon prayer by Isaac, and that of
the evening by Jacob; and, therefore, it is concluded that prayer was,
from the earliest period, held as a regular and stated duty.

After the release of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, they were
initiated into a holy communion by divine revelation on Mount Sinai.
The mode of worship then, consisted of regular daily sacrifices, as
described in the bible; additional offerings for festivals, or
propitiatory, as those offered for sins and transgressions. These last
were always accompanied with suitable prayers and confessions.

In this manner, the sinner had to make confession when he brought an
offering in expiation of his sins. On the day of atonement, when the
high priest presented the offering to the Lord, he had to make
confession on behalf of himself and the congregation.

In Deuteronomy, chapter the twenty-sixth, fifth verse, we find a
particular form of thanksgiving and confession to be used by the
people, when they offered up the first ripe fruits to the Lord in the
temple at Jerusalem.

All other addresses to the Almighty appear to have arisen as occasions
required. Of this class, we find several instances, such as Moses,
Joshua, Hannah, Hezekiah, and others.

Nothing, however, more clearly points out the fact where prayer become
an established custom, than the devout and emphatic prayer to the
Almighty by king Solomon, at the dedication of the temple at
Jerusalem, which he had raised to the honor and glory of the God of

The language used by the royal sage on that occasion, so strongly
proves the assertion that prayer became an established custom, that we
cannot refrain from introducing to the reader the following extract.

"That thine eyes may be open toward this house, night and day, even
toward the place of which thou hast said, my name shall be there; that
thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make
toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of this
servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this
place; and hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling place, and when thou
hearest, forgive."

The royal sage then proceeds to particularize the nature of prayers
most likely to be used; as private injuries, national subjugation,
want of rain, famine, or pestilence, even the prayer of a stranger not
of the people of Israel, &c. Surely, a specimen such as this, must
prove an established custom among them to consider it a duty to pray
to God for favors conferred, and solicit his protection in the hour of
trouble and distress.

The temple at Jerusalem was certainly the consecrated place of regular
prayer and sacrifices, for all Israelites who were within its reach;
yet, as many lived at too great a distance from this sacred spot,
private devotion was no doubt regularly practiced among them. We can
trace, in history, many accounts of the existence of places purposely
devoted to daily prayer and regular worship. The prophets, of whom we
read, at Damascus, Shiloh, Bethel, and Jericho, had, no doubt, a
regular form of prayer; for, at Jericho, there was an assemblage
called the sons of the prophets.

After the destruction of the first temple, the Jewish nation was
driven to Babylon, and from there they became scattered about the
neighboring heathen countries. The occasions for prayer and
supplication must have increased in such a state of slavery and
persecution. Hence their addresses to the Almighty must have become
more sincere and more constant. The reflection on their former state
in society, compared with that in which they were now placed, must
have caused in the people a strong feeling of devotion, leading on to
the use of regular and earnest prayer. Then it was, that prayer was
the sole solace of the people, while under such persecution.

The prophet Daniel suffered himself to be cast into the lions' den,
because he persisted in praying three times a day towards Jerusalem,
in defiance of the king's edict, which prohibited any person from
worshipping any other God but the idol set up by the king.

In the days of Daniel, it is found that the pure Hebrew used by the
Israelites had become much corrupted by the intermixture of the
Chaldee and other languages, with which they became conversant by
their being so closely united with the strange nations. This caused
the holy tongue to be in a great measure forgotten. Nehemiah complains
of this, and says: "Their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod,
and could not speak in the language of the Jew, but according to the
language of the several people."

Ezra, the scribe, who lived in those days, looked on this matter with
considerable grief. He was fearful that the people would entirely
neglect their holy worship on account of the want of a proper
knowledge of the sacred language. And he further saw the consequences
would be, that when the people did pray, they would fail to select
proper expressions to convey their feelings and sentiments. Ezra,
therefore, in conjunction with his conclave, collected, composed, and
compiled the prayers in the pure and original Hebrew. They were so
arranged as to be suitable for any occasion of private and public
devotion, both for the morning and the afternoon, in reference to the
regular daily sacrifices offered up in the temple. Also, an additional
form of prayer, called "Moosoph" in Hebrew, for those days on which
the additional sacrifices had been offered; such as Sabbaths,
festivals, and the new moon; also, for the evening sacrifice which
burned all night on the altar; likewise, the Nengelah, or concluding
prayer of the day of atonement. These are the prayers which have been
handed down to the posterity of the Jews throughout the known world.

Ezra and his conclave, who performed this great work, were called "the
men of the great assembly or synagogue." The Talmud, Maimonides, and
other eminent Jewish authorities, inform us that this synod was
composed of one hundred and twenty persons of great piety and
learning, among whom were the prophets, Hagai, Zacharia, Malachi,
Ezra, Nehemiah, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azaria, together with many
other great men, whom we shall notice hereafter.

These prayers were in daily use among the people during the second
temple; for in the Mishna, when speaking of the order observed in the
daily sacrifices in the temple, it is stated that the prefect who gave
the instructions, regularly said to the officiating priests, "repeat
ye one blessing," which they did; then the ten commandments, and the
shemang. He again said, "repeat ye with the people these blessings,"
which they did, many of which are in daily use among all orthodox
Jews. Besides, as we have before noticed, many Israelites lived at
great distances from the temple, and, therefore, it is not reasonable
to suppose that God's chosen people should be altogether without some
regular formulæ of prayer.

Any person who examines the prayers in daily use among the Israelites,
must become sensible of their excellence, and the grateful expressions
and high wrought admiration in which they are composed. They are
adapted to every situation in life, whether in sorrow or in joy, in
grief or in mirth. No one who views the wondrous creation; no one
possessed of the slightest spark of gratitude for favors bestowed; nor
he who looks forward with hope for relief in the hour of distress, or
sickness, can possibly have any language better suited to his
feelings, under any circumstances, and on every occasion.

Nothing, perhaps, has tended so much to keep Israel distinct from
every other nation in the world, as their religious customs and
observances; but more especially so, their language, the sacred
original, in which the Lord of hosts manifested himself to his
favorite creature; the language in which they pray, and which, in
truth, is the only relic of their former glory and paternal heritage.
It is the continuance of praying in the Hebrew, which forms, as it
were, a communion for their dispersed brethren, from whatever country
or clime they may migrate, and constitute themselves into a
congregation; a language peculiarly their own--venerable for its
antiquity, and sacred from its first promulgation, as being the true
channel of divine revelation.

The reader will please understand that our observations, as well as
the historical accounts, can only have reference to those prayers and
supplications which were composed for the Jew by the men of the great
synagogue, as already explained. Alas! that any innovation should have
been suffered to mar the beauty of those holy compositions!

There are many more of a sacred character, such as known by the name
of "Peyutem," or poetical compositions, which are read in the
synagogue on the festivals and other special days. These are of much
later date, and have been introduced, from time to time, into the
Jewish liturgy, by men eminent for their learning, piety, and
devotion. They were written under peculiar circumstances of distress
and persecution, during the varied dispersion of the nation, more
especially in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

It was then that the Jews found consolation in the dark storm of
persecution, in pouring out their souls in prayer and religious
devotion, which they did spontaneously on the different occasions
which presented themselves. Their extempore effusions were so
characteristic of their pitiful situation, that they made an indelible
impression upon the minds, not only of their composers, but also upon
those to whom they were recited. To commemorate such events, these
compositions were committed to writing. In honor to the authors, the
several congregations among whom these pious men lived, introduced
them into the festival prayers, and other marked days. These have
become embodied in the regular festival and Sabbath prayer book, and
have been in constant use among the German and Polish Jews up to the
present day. The Portuguese Jews, however, have an entire different
formula. Theirs is more ancient than either the German or Polish. It
is worth notice, though strange, indeed, that the German Jews, who, in
a great measure, omit the recital of these Peyutem, were the very
people among whom they were principally composed. It is, however, not
our province to discuss here the expediency of such proceedings: we
have only to treat of facts; the reader can judge for himself.

Some few exceptions, however, exist. Many of the Peyutem, above
mentioned, claim a much earlier date, and are from the pen of some of
the most holy men of the ancient race of Israel. These compositions
will be found in the additional service of new year and day of
atonement; also, those prayers called propitiatory--as the
_Selechous_, recited previously to and during the penitential days.
They have in all ages been admired for their beauty of diction, and
sublimity of language, and are highly calculated to inspire the reader
with profound awe and veneration, when addressing them to his creator.

It remains now only for the Hebrew language to become a primary object
of study among all classes, so that they may learn to appreciate the
beauty of God's own language, and thus to be prepared with devotion
whenever engaged in prayer, either in private or in public. If such
were the case, those who labor in the good cause would be fully
repaid, when, by their exertions, they should succeed in awakening the
dormant feelings of the negligent to such a duty of prayer as may be
acceptable to the creator of mankind. Then will the intelligent mind
become sensible of the excellence of the ancient and holy liturgy of
the chosen people of God.


Of the Ureem and Thumeem.

"And thou shalt put in the breast-plate of judgment the Ureem and
Thumeem." Exodus, 28, 30. What the Ureem and Thumeem were is not
distinctly explained in the bible.

That they were not the twelve precious stones contained in the
breast-plate, as some have erroneously imagined, is quite clear; for
we do not find that God directed Moses to make the Ureem and Thumeem,
as he did when he said, "And thou shalt make the breast-plate," &c.,

It is plain from the text itself, that they were something in addition
to the breast-plate, and put therein, after it was finished, by Moses
himself; and therefore God says, "And thou shalt put into the
breast-plate of judgment the Ureem and Thumeem."

From this fact, it is evident that there was something additional
placed in the breast-plate by Moses; and for this reason, it is
supposed that it was made double, that it might the more conveniently
hold them. It now remains to inquire what the Ureem and Thumeem in
reality were, and what the particular use of them. As to the former,
there are various opinions among the learned. Many celebrated
Christian divines have ventured many erroneous definitions on the
subject. According to the opinions of the most erudite and pious
Hebrew doctors and rabbins, the following appears to be the most
reasonable view of the case.

It was, say the rabbins, the Tetragrammaton, or ineffable name of the
Deity, which Moses was commanded to place in the breast-plate, and was
consecrated to holy purposes. It was vested with divine power to give
an oracular reply from God to any counsel being asked of him by the
high priest, during the time in which he wore it. Now, as the answer
came immediately from God, it was therefore properly designated
"asking counsel of God." As to the Ureem and Thumeem, it was
especially to ask counsel of God on such momentous occasions only, in
relation to the Jewish nation.

In the Mishna of _Yoomah_ are explained three express conditions
necessary to be observed in the asking of counsel by the Ureem and

FIRST.--Concerning the person inquiring. He must not be a private
person. He must be either the king, the president of the Sanhedrin,
who presided over the whole nation, the general of the army, or some
other noble prince, or governor in Israel.

SECOND.--Concerning the nature of the question. It must not be
respecting the affairs of private persons; but such only as relate to
the public interest of the whole nation, either of church or state.

THIRD.--Concerning the person who presents the question. He must be
the high priest, clothed in his pontifical robes, and his breast-plate
with the Ureem and Thumeem.

The learned Maimonides observes in his celebrated work, "Moreh
Nevoocheem," or a "_guide to the perplexed_," part second, chapter
forty-five, that the Ureem and Thumeem was a degree of the divine
inspiration. Speaking of the different degrees or orders of prophecy,
he says: "And thus every high priest who inquired by the Ureem and
Thumeem was of this order, as already mentioned."

The divine presence rested on him, and he spoke by the holy spirit,
that is, he delivered his answers with the assistance of the holy
inspiration. According to this opinion, it was but one degree below
the spirit of prophecy. All the learned and eminent men among the Jews
say, that the manner of asking counsel, and receiving the answer
thereto, was as follows.

The person who inquired did not make the request in an audible tone;
but in such a way as one who is at his devotion pronounces the words,
sufficiently loud to be heard by none but himself.

The question being made, the priest looked into the breast-plate, and
on perceiving some letters on the stone of the same glistening, he, by
combining them together, obtained the answer. We shall best exemplify
the foregoing by the following passage from the book of Judges.

"Now, after the death of Joshua, it came to pass that the children of
Israel asked the Lord, saying, who shall go up for us against the
Canaanites first, to fight against them." The reply was: "_Yehuda
Yangaleh_" or "Judah shall go up;" for as soon as the question was
propounded, the priest looked into the breast-plate, and seeing the
name of Judah appear prominent, he was assured that Judah was the
tribe. The priest looked again, and beheld the _Yod_ shine, the
_Ngain_ from the name of _Simeon_; then the Lamed from another name,
and the _Heh_ from another; these four letters being put together made
the word "_Yangaleh_" which signifies, "_He shall go up_." When the
priest found that no more letters glistened, he knew immediately that
the answer was completed. Hence the reason why they are called
_Ureem_, which signifies _Light_, from the shining of the letters; and
_Thumeem_, or perfection, as the answer was thus complete and

This fact distinguished the Jewish oracles from the pretended heathen
oracles, which were always delivered in an enigmatical and ambiguous
manner. The Jewish oracles were always clear and explicit, never
falling short of perfection, either in the manifestation or the
certainty of the truth thereof.

During the existence of the second temple, the Ureem and Thumeem were
not consulted; for when the ark and coverlid, the cherubim and the two
tables of stone, disappeared at the destruction of the first temple,
the breast-plate with the _Ureem_ and _Thumeem_ shared the same fate.
Notwithstanding that on the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, they had
the pontifical robes, with the breast-plate with four rows of stones,
engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel; yet no question was
ever asked, and consequently no communication ever received from the
_Ureem_ and _Thumeem_. Two reasons are assigned for this.

FIRST.--Because the said _Ureem_ and _Thumeem_ were instituted to ask
counsel of the Lord of such things which concerned _all_ the tribes of
Israel, and the common interest of the whole nation. Now, there being
at that time the tribes of Judah and Benjamin only, these oracles
could not _be_ consulted, the common interest of the nation having
then ceased.

SECONDLY--And possibly the principal reason, was, that the
_Tetragrammaton_, or ineffable name of the Deity, which Moses put
between the folds of the breast-plate, was wanting. This being the
most important part, and the very essence of the whole--when the cause
ceased, the effect also ceased.


Of the Mishna, or Oral Law.

The Pentateuch, or written law, was communicated by God to Moses, and
by him to the people of Israel at different times, and adapted to the
various seasons, places and circumstances during the forty years'
sojournment in the wilderness.

The mode adopted in instructing the Israelites in the wilderness in
the divine law was as follows: Every passage or chapter of the written
law, whether historical or preceptive, was written by Moses, as
received from God himself, which he placed before his council or
senate, called, afterwards, Sanhedrin, as well as before the whole
body of the people. This council consisted of seventy elders, or
senators, the most learned and pious among the nation, of whom Moses
was the president. Every chapter of the law was explained by Moses
according to the oral tradition, which he received coeval with the
written law. The agreement of these two was proved in such a way as to
show that the oral law is the true and genuine spirit and sense of the
Pentateuch; that they are so intimately and inseparably connected
with each other as to be considered as one and indivisible.

Aaron, the high priest, was honored with the appointment of repeating,
for the instruction of the people, all the learning taught by his
brother Moses. Aaron was succeeded by his sons. Then came the elders
who gathered together all the Israelites and placed them in their
several academies for the study of the law. Every individual of Israel
was permitted to make memoranda of the oral law, in order to assist
the memory, for personal and private convenience, but the public
instruction was taught orally. This oral tradition was transmitted
from Moses down to the days of the celebrated Rabbi, Judah the Prince,
son of the learned Simon the Just, about a hundred and fifty years
after the destruction of the second temple. After the death of Moses,
Joshua the son of Nun, his successor, taught the said law in his
Sanhedrin, and delivered it to the elders who succeeded him; and in
like manner the tradition of the Mishna was successively transferred
from generation to generation, and was concluded by Rabbi Judah, above
named, who flourished in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus, by whom
he was honored with the title of Prince, and invested with a supremacy
of power for his office. It was generally believed in those days that
there never rose up in Israel any man like unto him, in whom so much
piety, wealth and glory were united.

It was in consequence of his extreme piety and devotion to spiritual
purposes only, and divesting himself of all worldly cares and
pleasures, that he was designated Rabbinu Hakodesh, or the Holy Rabbi.
This pious man, acting as president of the Sanhedrin, consulted his
colleagues, who, perceiving the decline of literature, such as
contained in the oral law at that period, and fearful of the
consequences thereof to the nation at large, took into their serious
consideration the necessity of adopting some plan by which such
tradition should not be entirely forgotten. They saw and felt that the
many sufferings and persecutions inflicted upon their co-religionists
would ultimately be the cause of the loss of that knowledge which was
so dear to them as God's own people. That it would be impossible for
future generations to understand the practical part of the divine
precepts as embodied in the Pentateuch. It was therefore with holy
zeal that they judged it proper to collect and compile all the oral
tradition explanatory of the written law and commit the same to
writing, in order that it should be handed down to posterity. This is
the same Mishna now in existence among the Jews at this day. It is
written in short sentences and aphorisms, and generally considered to
be in pure Hebrew, with some few exceptions. It contains full
elucidations of the Pentateuch, as admitted by the most eminent Jewish
doctors of all ages, who testify that without such elucidations the
written law would have remained a sealed book to the world at large.

In the following chapter we shall treat of the Gemara, or Completion,
usually called the Talmud, the same being a commentary on the Mishna.

For the present, we shall content ourselves by laying before our
readers a succinct account of the contents of the Mishna.

The Mishna is divided into six general heads, called in Hebrew,
Sedoreem, orders or classes. The first is styled Zeroeëm, which
signifies _seeds_, and is subdivided into eleven sections.

FIRST--BEROCHOUT, OR BLESSINGS.--This section treats of the laws
directing the order of prayers and thanksgivings for the produce of
the earth, and for all other benefits conferred on man by the
beneficent creator; with the consideration as to time and place when
they are to be said or repeated.

SECOND--PYOH, OR CORNER.--This section treats of those laws which
direct the leaving of the corner of the field, as the portion for the
benefit of the poor, as commanded in the book of Leviticus.

THIRD--DEMAI, OR DOUBTFUL.--This treats of such things of which there
exists some doubt, as to tithes having been paid for them, the
Israelites not being allowed to eat of anything until it had been

FOURTH--TERUMOUS, OR OBLATIONS.--This section points out such things
of which a portion was to be set apart as devoted to the use of the

FIFTH--SHEVINGIS, OR SEVENTH.--This section explains the laws of the
seventh year, called the Sabbatical year, during which period the land
was to remain at rest, and lie fallow; and during which time all
debts were remitted and obligations canceled.

SIXTH--KILLAYIM, OR MIXTURES.--This portion lays down the laws which
prohibit the mixing or joining of things together of an opposite or
different nature or species; as, the sowing of various kinds of seeds
in one and the same spot of ground; or suffering cattle of different
kinds to engender; or the grafting a scion of one species of plant on
the stock of another of a different character.

first tithes, and treats of the laws of the said tithes which shall be
apportioned to the Levites.

the second tithes, which were to be taken up to Jerusalem, and there
to be eaten, or to be redeemed, and the produce expended at Jerusalem
in peace offerings.

FIFTH--CHALAH, LOAF, OR CAKE.--This section speaks of the laws
relative to setting apart a cake of dough for the priests; of the
description of dough the cake should be, and what kind of dough was
prohibited from being used for the purpose.

TENTH--ORLAH, OR UNCIRCUMCISED.--This section explains the law
touching the illegality of eating the fruit of any tree until the
fifth year of its growth. As follows: During the first three years of
its bearing fruit, it must not be eaten; the fourth year it was holy
to the Lord; and on the fifth year, it was permitted to be eaten by
the owner thereof.

manner in which the first ripe fruits were to be offered up in the
holy temple at Jerusalem.

The second general head or class is called _Seder Moed_, or order of
festivals. It is so denominated because it treats of all those laws
which were made concerning festivals and days of solemn observance.
This second class is divided into twelve sections.

FIRST--SABBATH, OR REST.--This is so called because it treats of all
the laws respecting the Sabbath. This division contains twenty-four

what manner food might be conveyed from house to house on the Sabbath
day. All the inhabitants of the court or place in which the
association was formed, were allowed so to do. It also explains the
rules laid down for any journey to be made on the Sabbath.

THIRD--PESOCHIM, OR PASSOVER.--This portion treats of all the laws,
customs, and ceremonies, to be observed at the offering up of the
paschal lamb on the eve of the festival of Passover.

FOURTH--SHEKOLEEM, OR SHEKELS.--This treats of the half shekels, which
every Israelite, whether rich or poor, was bound to pay every year
towards defraying the expenses of the daily sacrifices offered up on
the altar in Jerusalem.

FIFTH--YOUMOH, OR DAY.--This section treats of the great and solemn
day of atonement; pointing out the ceremonies of the day, and the
duties of the high priest on that holy occasion. It also speaks of
the sacrifices which were to be offered up as expiations for the sins
of the people.

SIXTH--SUCCOH, OR TABERNACLE.--This portion treats of the feast of
tabernacles. It points out in what manner the tabernacle should be
built; the use of the palm tree, the citron, the myrtle, and the
willow of the brook, which were ordered to be taken and used on the
said festival.

SEVENTH--YOUM TOUV, OR FESTIVAL.--It is called, also, Bytsoh, or Egg,
being the word with which it commences. This section contains the laws
and regulations for the due observance of the festivals of the Lord.
It points out what work may, or may not, be lawfully done on any of
the festivals which are called holy days of convocation, on which all
manual labor or traffic is prohibited.

EIGHTH--ROUSH HASHONO, OR NEW YEAR.--This treats of the laws and
solemnities of the sacred day of the new year; such as the sounding of
the _shouphar_ or _cornet_; of the prayers and regular service of that
holy occasion. It describes, also, the ceremony for the observance at
the appearance of the new moon, by which all the holy days were
regulated by the Sanhedrin during the existence of the second temple.

NINTH--TANGANEES, OR FAST.--This division treats of the different
fasts held throughout the year, and the manner in which they are to be
observed by every Israelite. These fasts are held on different
occasions for various reasons, and purposes; such as days of
repentance, humiliation, and of calamity and misfortune which befel
the nation in the several ages of persecution.

of the feast of Purim, and directs how the roll shall be written and
read on this festival. It speaks of many other rules and regulations
to be observed on this feast, which commemorates the miraculous
deliverance of the Jewish people from the hands of the wicked Haman,
who contemplated the destruction of the whole nation. It also treats
of the laws concerning the synagogue, and the reading of the holy law
on the several days of solemn and religious observance throughout the

ELEVENTH--MOED KOTON, OR LESSER FESTIVALS. This treats of such work as
may or may not be done during the middle days of the passover and
tabernacle holidays. It is, therefore, called Moed Koton, as the
middle days of the said festivals are considered less holy than the
first and last two days. It contains, also, the laws regulating the
conduct of mourners.

laws relating to the offerings made on the different festivals; the
description of the persons; how they are to be qualified, and in what
manner they are to appear before the Lord on the three great festivals
in every year, when all the Israelites that possibly could, were
expected to be in attendance at the holy city of Jerusalem.

The third general head, or class, is called Nosheem, or women. This is
subdivided into seven sections.

FIRST--YEVOMOUS, OR MARRIAGE.--This section is so called, as it treats
of the laws by which one brother is expected to marry the relict of
his deceased brother. It shows how, and when, the obligation shall
take place; the duties and the ceremonies to be observed at the
performance of the same.

SECOND--KESUVOUS, OR DOCUMENTS.--This speaks of the laws relating to
marriage contracts, and dowries, and of estates, whether real or
personal, which may fall to some married women; how the same shall be
disposed of, by, or allotted to, the said party or parties.

THIRD--NEDOREEM, OR VOWS.--This treats of such vows which, when made,
become binding, and by what persons such vows shall be made; how vows
are considered null and void, since the husband has the power of
confirming or annulling the vows of his wife. This law is very
particularly specified, as to how such may be done; and the class of
vows which fall under the control of the husband, and those which do

FOURTH--NOZEER, OR NAZARITE.--This section treats of those laws which
guide the different classes of Nazarites who take upon themselves the
vows of abstinence.

FIFTH--SOTAH, OR TO TURN ASIDE.--This treats of the enactments
relating to trials occasioned through jealousy between man and wife;
the nature of the punishment inflicted on the woman, if it be proved
that she had been guilty of the crime of adultery.

SIXTH--GITTEN, OR LETTER OF DIVORCE.--This treats of the laws of
divorce. It explains when, and under what circumstances, a divorce may
be granted. It directs also all the formulæ to be used and observed in
all cases of divorce.

SEVENTH--KEDUSHEEN, OR BETROTHING.--This treats of the laws, customs,
and ceremony of betrothing; the forms, rites, and regulations to be
observed at the solemnization of the marriage according to the laws of
Moses and Israel.

The fourth general head, or class, is called Nezeekeen, or Damages.
This class is divided into eight sections; the first of which is again
subdivided into three separate sections, as follow.

FIRST--BOVOH KAMMA, OR FIRST GATE.--This first section treats of all
such damages, which may be recovered for injuries done, either by man
or beast.

SECOND--BOVOH MEZIAH, OR MIDDLE GATE.--This treats of the laws of
usury. It explains what is, and what is not, considered an act of
usury. It speaks also on matters of special trust; of letting or hire,
and such like transactions between man and man.

THIRD--BOVOH BOSROH, OR LAST GATE.--This treats of the laws relating
to commerce, copartnership, buying and selling; also, the laws of
inheritance, and the right of succession.

The above three sections are called by the Talmud and Mishna, gates,
because, in the East, the courts of law were held within the gates of
the city.

SECOND--SANHEDREEN, OR SENATE.--This speaks of the great senate, as
also of the minor courts of judicature; of the causes for trial, and
the nature of the punishment inflicted for the several crimes; the
four kinds of death, as the penalty for capital offenses. It
describes, also, very minutely, the mode to be adopted by the Judges
in the examination of witnesses.

THIRD--MACCOUS, OR PUNISHMENT.--This portion treats more especially of
that which may constitute false testimony, or inadmissible evidence;
the laws relative to the forty stripes inflicted on the delinquent;
the reason why the rabbins directed that only thirty-nine stripes
should be inflicted instead of forty, as stated in the bible; also,
the manner in which the said punishment should be administered. It
relates, likewise, the regulations to be observed by such persons who
were compelled to seek shelter in the cities of refuge.

FOURTH--SHEVUNGOUS, OR OATHS.--This section explains the laws to be
observed in the administration of an oath; in what cases an oath shall
or shall not be submitted to the contending parties; who shall or who
shall not be considered qualified to take the oath.

FIFTH--ADOYOUS, TESTIMONIES OR EVIDENCES. This treats of the decisions
of the many important cases, collected from the evidence and testimony
of the most eminent and learned rabbins and doctors of the great
Sanhedrin of olden times.

SIXTH--AVOUDOH ZOROH, OR IDOLATRY.--This section is so called, as it
treats of all manner of idolatry. It is also entitled the "_the
worship of the planets_." It explains the manner and form of the
different modes of worship, as practised by the idolatrous nations,
with the view of preventing the Israelite from becoming contaminated
by them.

SEVENTH--OVOUS, OR FATHERS.--This section contains the history of
those holy fathers who, in their respective ages, successively
received by tradition the oral law; from the days of Moses, the great
lawgiver, down to the period when it was compiled and committed to
writing by the celebrated rabbinu Hakodesh. It contains, also, many of
the wise sayings, aphorisms, and moral maxims of the learned men, and
is therefore called the "Ethics of the fathers."

EIGHTH--HOUROYOUS, OR PRECEPTS.--This section is so called, because it
treats of the punishment and penalty to be inflicted on those who
should presumptuously act against, or teach anything in opposition to,
the decrees and decisions of the great Sanhedrin at Jerusalem.

The fifth general head, or class, is called Kodosheem, or holy things.
It is subdivided into eleven sections.

FIRST--ZEVOCHEEM, OR SACRIFICES.--This section treats of the order to
be observed in offering up the cattle for sacrifices, and points out
their nature and quality. It also relates the time and the place; and
specifies by whom they were to be killed and brought up as an offering
upon the altar of the Lord.

SECOND--MINOCHOUS, OR MEAT OFFERINGS.--This portion treats of the
oblations of oil, flour, and wine, proper for each offering; and of
the two waive loaves, which were to be made of fine flour, such as
were offered up, on the festival of pentecost.

THIRD--CHOOLIN, OR PROFANE.--This section points out that which is
clean, and that which is unclean; what may and what may not be
lawfully eaten; and the law which prohibits the killing of the dam and
its young, both in one day. It also shows the law prohibiting the
eating of the "sinew which shrank;" and the law forbidding the taking
of the dam with its young. It, moreover, embraces the laws
appertaining to the killing of cattle and fowl for domestic use; and
who may, and who may not, be permitted to kill the animals for food to
be eaten by Israelites.

FOURTH--BECHOUROUS, OR FIRST BORN.--This section treats of the laws
relating to the first born of both man and cattle; pointing out in
what manner, and at which period, they were to be redeemed, either
with money, or brought up as an offering to the Lord. It speaks also
of the tithes of all manner of cattle.

the manner in which things devoted to the Almighty are valued, so that
they may be redeemed and applied to ordinary purposes; as also how
the priest shall value a field, devoted or sacrificed to the Lord by
its owner.

SIXTH--TEMUROH, OR EXCHANGE.--This portion explains how far it may be
lawful to exchange one sacred thing for another; as, whether an animal
which had been consecrated as an offering to be sacrificed to the Lord
might be exchanged. In most cases, where an animal had been
consecrated to the Lord, and then exchanged, both the animal and its
substitute became sacred.

SEVENTH--KERISUS, OR EXCISIONS.--This section relates to offenses
which, if wantonly committed, were punished by the offender being cut
off from among the people, called _Kohrice_. It points out, at the
same time, what offenders were liable to this punishment. It likewise
explains how those who had offended through accident, had to bring a
sin or trespass offering.

EIGHTH--MENGELOH, OR TRESPASS.--This portion treats of the nature of
the trespass made by converting such things which have been
consecrated and devoted to holy purposes, to profane or unholy

NINTH--TOMEED, OR CONTINUAL OFFERINGS.--Herein are specified the daily
sacrifices, and the description as to how, and in what manner, they
were to be offered upon the altar of the Lord.

TENTH--MIDDOUS, OR DIMENSIONS.--This book is so called, because it
speaks of the dimensions and proportions of the temple. It describes
the mount on which the temple stood, and the full extent of the outer
court. This was considered requisite to be known; for whoever had
become unclean, from any circumstance whatever, was prohibited from
entering the temple on pain of excision.

ELEVENTH--KONEEM, OR NESTS.--This section speaks of the birds, such as
pigeons or turtle-doves, which were brought as offerings by the poor,
instead of the more expensive, which they were unable to bring. The
smaller value was equally acceptable to the God of mercy and kindness.

The sixth general head, or class, is entitled Taharous, or
purifications. It is divided into twelve sections.

FIRST--KYLEEM, OR VESSELS, UTENSILS.--This book is so called, because
it treats of the pollutions incident to vessels, and how they are to
be purified from such uncleanness. It treats also of the manner in
which garments of every description may be purified, in the event of
their becoming polluted or defiled by uncleanness of any kind.

SECOND--OHOLOUS, OR TENTS.--This section treats of the manner in which
houses become polluted; the nature of such pollutions; and how far
those who enter such dwellings may thereby become contaminated, and
how they may be purified.

THIRD--NEGOIM, OR PLAGUES, OR DISEASES.--This book explains all the
laws relative to the plague of leprosy; whether on man or beast,
dwellings or garments. It shows how and in what manner infection took
place; and how the things or persons so afflicted may become

FOURTH--POROH, OR HEIFER.--This section speaks of the laws relating to
the red heifer; how the said heifer should be burned to ashes, in
order to make the water for purification; and in what manner all
defilements, contracted by the touch or contact of a dead body, could
be purified by means of the ashes of the red heifer.

FIFTH--TAHAROUS, OR PURIFICATIONS.--This portion treats of all those
laws pertaining to such defilements which may be contracted otherwise
than by the touch of a dead body; and of the manner purification may,
and can take place.

SIXTH--MIKVOOUS, OR BATHS.--This section treats of the laws and
regulations for baths to be used for purification by ablutions; of all
persons who may have from any cause whatever become unclean. Herein is
also specified the manner in which the bath should be constructed, and
the quantity of water required for every ablution.

SEVENTH--NIDDOH, OR SEPARATION.--This portion explains all the laws
relating to the pollutions and purifications of women after
child-birth, and on every occasion of uncleanness.

EIGHTH--MACHSHEREEN.--This section explains in what manner seed or
fruit became susceptible of defilement or pollution through the
admixture of liquids.

NINTH--ZOBEEM, OR ISSUES.--This portion treats of the laws relating to
the impurities arising from the issues of the body; and points out how
and when they are deemed unclean; and how and in what manner either
persons or things may become affected by their pollution.

persons who may become unclean, and require ablution to purify them;
which purification cannot be considered complete until the setting of
the sun on the same day when the purification shall take place.

ELEVENTH--YODOYEEM, OR HANDS.--This section treats of the laws and
regulations for cleansing the hands from any uncleanness; and the
custom and ceremony to be observed in washing the hands on the
different occasions.

TWELFTH--UKTSEEM, OR STALKS.--This last section is so called, because
it explains how the touching of the stalks of any sort of fruit may
convey pollution to the fruit itself.


  No. 1.--Seder Zeroeem contains        11 sections.
  No. 2.--Seder Moed contains           12 sections.
  No. 3.--Seder Nosheem contains         7 sections.
  No. 4.--Seder Nezekeen contains       10 sections.
  No. 5.--Seder Kodosheem contains      11 sections.
  No. 6.--Seder Taharous contains       12 sections.
    Total                               63 sections.


Of the Gemara, or Completion, which is usually styled Talmud.

In the foregoing chapter we described the manner in which the Mishna
was compiled, together with its contents, from its first delivery by
Moses till the time of its being committed to writing by Rabbi Judah
the Prince. We shall now proceed in regular order to explain what the
Talmud is, and how it was composed by the several learned men among
the Jews both in Jerusalem and in Babylon.

The compilation of the Talmud ranks among the most ancient Hebrew
writings. It consists of two distinct heads--the Mishna and the
Gemara, and both together form the Talmud.

The Mishna, as already explained, chiefly contains the oral or
traditional laws transmitted down to posterity from the time of Moses
the Lawgiver, to that of Rabbi Judah the Prince or Nassi.

The Gemara consists of expositions and comments on the Mishna, as also
various other subjects connected with Jewish literature, and more
especially Jewish theology. It contains also treatises on moral
philosophy, ethics, mathematics, astronomy and chronology, and many
other branches of the different sciences known in those days. The
Gemara or expositions on the Mishna was commenced in the days of the
Rabbins, Gamaliel and Simeon, the two sons of Rabbi Judah the Holy,
about the year 3980 of the creation, and was completed and compiled
into one body by Rav Ashi, President, and Raviny, Vice President, who
are considered the actual compilers of the Babylonian Talmud. This
took place about the year 4260.

The authors of the Talmud in general are styled Amooroim, dictators,
as they dictated the several explications of the Mishna, as discussed
in the different schools, and which are all found in the Talmud. The
comments and expositions are known by the name of Gemara, which
signifies completion, because therein is fully explained all the
traditional doctrines of the Jewish law and its religion. The Mishna
is the text, the Gemara the comment, or glossary, and both together
form the Talmud.

There are two Talmudim. The first is styled Talmud Yerushalmi, or
Jerusalem Talmud. This was compiled by Rabbi Jochanan in five sedorim
or divisions. This Talmud does not contain the whole of the Mishna. It
was completed about the year 4060. The second Talmud is called Talmud
Bably, or Babylonian Talmud, which was completed about two hundred
years after the other Talmud. The Talmud Yerushalmi is the least
esteemed of the two, and consequently less studied and quoted by the
learned among Israel. It is the Babylonian Talmud which is usually
studied and consulted in all points of jurisprudence, as connected
with all religious affairs, both in, and out, of the synagogue. It is
therefore to be understood, that whenever the Talmud is simply
notified, it means the Babylonian Talmud; as the other Talmud is never
quoted, unless particularly and expressly mentioned.

The Talmud Bably is arranged in the following order. The Mishna forms
the text, and the Gemara is annexed as the comment or glossary. The
same order is observed as with the Mishna, although it must be
observed that the Gemara appears only on thirty-six sections, whereas
the whole of the Mishna contains sixty-three sections, as explained in
the foregoing chapter. The order of the Talmud is as follows:

  No. 1.--Seder Zeroeem contains      1 section.
  No. 2.--Seder Moed contains        11 sections.
  No. 3.--Seder Nosheem contains      7 sections.
  No. 4.--Seder Nezekeen contains     8 sections.
  No. 5.--Seder Kodosheem contains    8 sections.
  No. 6.--Seder Taharous contains     1 section.
    Total                            36 sections.



Having given a brief description of the Mishna and the Talmud, and
their contents, we now direct the attention of the reader to the
following observations, as a summary to the preceding two chapters.

The Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses, is generally understood by the
term "written law," and the Talmud as the oral or traditional law. The
oral law was handed down from Moses to Joshua, from the elders to the
prophets, and from them to the Great Synod, which consisted of one
hundred and twenty of the most learned men of the age, and in like
manner from time to time, until the days of Rabbi Judah, already
mentioned. This great man, seriously contemplating the state of his
nation as regarded their religious affairs, and perceiving that those
who were learned in the law were gradually diminishing in number,
feared that the knowledge of the oral law might ultimately be
forgotten, and with it the essential portion of the law of Moses. In
the true spirit of devotion and piety, this Rabbi collected all the
doctrines and precepts which had been taught orally, down to that
period, and with the assistance of his pious colleagues, committed
them to writing, and arranged them in the order of the Mishna, as
already described. After the Mishna had been written, and presented to
the nation at large, it was received by them with a general and
unanimous consent. It was universally approved, and was held by them
as an authentic document, delivered to Moses by the Almighty, while on
the mount, as an explanation of the written law. The prevailing
opinion among the people then was, that the Mishna had been handed
down by tradition, and they were confirmed in such opinion by the
conviction that the same had been taught to them in their youth in the
various schools and academies which were established for such
purposes. It was then considered expedient by the learned in those
days, that some further explanation should be given, in order to
render the Mishna more intelligible to the general class of readers.

With this view, some of the most eminent among the Jewish doctors,
taught in the schools the oral law together with the signification
thereof, and in this way they illustrated all the most abstruse and
difficult passages by useful and instructive commentaries. These
illustrations and glossaries increased from time to time, which formed
the Talmud, such as it is at present in the possession of the
Israelites. It abounds with aphorisms and ethics, which were
introduced by the Rabbins and Doctors who composed the Talmud, in the
course of their discussions. It was in this manner, that they
supported the opinions advanced by them on the various subjects upon
which they treated. These subjects were frequently illustrated by
moral tales and allegories, such being the tutelar system prevalent
among most of the oriental nations in those days.

In the said Talmud the Rabbins taught also the various arts and
sciences, such as known in those times, although it may be conceded
that they may not have reached to such perfection as in the present
enlightened age; nevertheless the principle was known by the
Israelites of old, and practically applied by them as far as necessity
demanded. It is well known that astronomy, geometry, architecture,
physics, natural philosophy, as well as many of the other sciences,
were in high cultivation both before and after the Babylonian

The building of the tabernacle in the wilderness--the beautiful temple
of Solomon,--the superb edifice erected by Herod the Great, may
certainly be advanced as specimens of the science of architecture, in
which must naturally be included that of geometry. It cannot be denied
that the Jews were also famous in hydraulics, aqueducts, etc.,
military tactics and war implements, engineering, agriculture, etc.

That astronomy was successfully cultivated by the Israelites of old,
is proved by the perpetual chronological calendar which was formed and
brought to perfection in the days of the Talmudical doctors. This
calendar is composed both of the lunar and solar revolutions. Though
it may not be strictly the province of this chapter to treat upon this
subject, the reader will excuse the digression, in order to introduce
a short extract of this calculation to show the basis upon which the
same is founded, and prove that a knowledge of astronomy existed in
those days, by the teachers of the Talmud. According to the Mosaic
Law, the Israelites are directed to calculate the year and compute
their holy days according to the lunar year. Twelve lunar, _synodical
revolutions_, _i.e._ 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds,
compose one simple year. Thus we make sometimes 353, 354, 355 days,
allowing for fractions. Yet the _Epactem_ of 10 days, 21 hours, 11
minutes and 20 seconds, in which the solar year exceeds the lunar,
might be the cause, that the holy days would be removed from their
respective seasons,--which would be the case, when calculating by the
lunar only. So that in a period of seventeen years the feast of
Passover would be in the autumn instead of the spring, and the feast
of tabernacle in spring instead of the autumn. On this account it was
that the Jewish chronologists took care to remedy this defect, by
forming alternately, sometimes to compose the year of thirteen lunar
months, as 383, 384, 385 days, for which reason they adopted a period
of 19 years, in which they formed seven complete years,--as the 3, 6,
8, 11, 14, 17, 19, complete of thirteen lunar months, and the interval
twelve years, _simple_, of twelve lunar months only; and in this
periodical calculation of 19 years, according to the above rotation
of twelve _simple_ and seven _complete_ years, the _lunar_ and _solar_
years then agree, without any variation whatever.[A] Hence it is that
the Jewish calculation is very exactly and astronomically contrived,
for it has never failed since its first introduction, now nearly
fifteen centuries. This is a sufficient proof that the science of
astronomy was known to the ancient Israelites.

We have already stated, that the Talmud contains many allegories,
aphorisms, ethics, etc., which, it must be observed, are not to be
interpreted in their literal sense, but as being intended to convey
some moral and instructive lesson,--such being the system peculiar to
oriental nations. This system not having been clearly understood by
many of the Jews and Gentiles in both ancient and modern times, has
led to the belief that the whole of the Talmud, as it now exists, is
of divine origin. Now in justice to the authors of the Talmud, it must
be stated, that they never intended to convey any such idea; their
object was simply to render their discussions and dissertations
intelligible to their coreligionists of those days, and that it should
be carefully handed down to posterity. With this view it was, that the
compilers of the Talmud left the work in its original and genuine
state, with all the arguments and disputations as given by the authors
in the various ages, so that they might not be charged with having
interpolated it with ideas of their own, foreign to the views and
intentions of the original authors of the work. This is sufficient to
show that the _whole_ of the Talmud never was considered by the
learned, as having a divine origin; but _those_ portions of the
Mishna, illustrative of the written law, as already explained, were
received as divine, having been successively transmitted by oral
tradition, from Moses to Rabbi Judah, the Prince, and by him placed
before the world and handed down unalloyed to succeeding generations.
In coming ages, the learned among Israel, desirous that the study of
the Talmud should not be entirely lost, have added comments and
glossaries, in order to render the work as easy as possible to the
comprehension of the student. The Talmud contains, not, as has been
said, the narrow-minded sentiments of bigots, but the devout and
conscientious discussions of men deeply impressed with the love of
divine providence, and anxious to inculcate that love in others by
precept and observation.

It was wisely remarked by the celebrated Luzzato, "that the ancient
Rabbies were the incorrupt reporters of the ceremonials and rites of
the Jews, and _no innovators!_ that they did not attempt to grasp a
subject they could not comprehend, nor seek to hide by sophistical
arguments, eloquently clothed, a truth that was apparent." _No!_ for,
says the Venetian sage, they spoke of things to the study of which
their whole lives had been devoted, and their piety gave weight to
their opinions.

We are aware, however, that we are open to severe criticisms; but we
trust that our remarks may neither shock the ear of the more
enlightened portion of the Jewish nation, nor incur the displeasure of
those, who still believe it to be a crime to urge a word respecting
this time honored production. Much has been said on this subject.
Whilst some have labored incessantly to enforce the divinity of the
Talmud--others again, either from prejudice or other unholy motives,
have set at nought the entire composition, and condemned it as useless
in the present age. How far the latter may be justified in the
promulgation of such sentiments, may be easily ascertained by a glance
at Judaism at the present, in view of the strife and contention
between the Orthodox and the Reform, with but little benefit to
Judaism in general. The reader will look "on this picture and on that"
and decide for himself.

We might quote many authorities of high standing among the Jewish
literati, such as existed formerly in the schools of Jamnia, Tiberias,
Surah, Pombeditha, etc.; and in subsequent ages, those unrivalled
Luminaries that appeared in Spain and France, Germany and Poland, who
have recommended the study of the Talmud as a guide to the perfect
understanding of the holy writings. On the present occasion we prefer
citing that which has been said of its merits by other divines,
differing from the Jew in faith.

A celebrated Christian divine of the Catholic church who flourished in
the fourth century, Aurelio Augustino, in a work called "The City of
God," makes the following remarks:

"For, indeed, that nation, that people, that state, that republic, the
Israelites, to whom was given the eloquence of God, in no way
confounded the pseudo-prophets with their true prophets. But by a
unanimous consent, and differing in nothing among themselves, they
recognized the latter as the depositaries of the sacred writings, and
considered them the authors. These true prophets were philosophers,
that is, lovers of wisdom: being themselves wise men, they were
theologians, prophets, and teachers of probity and piety. Whoever
therefore lives and grows wise according to their doctrines, lives and
grows wise not according to the doctrines of men, but according to the
_doctrines of God_, who spoke through them."

"He further states, that as the love of virtue, with which these
philosophers were deeply imbued, is the foundation of true belief, and
the basis of all religion, so their works, coming from so pure, so
enlightened, and so pious a source, are entitled to be received, not
only by Jews, but by men of all creeds, as guides to the true
knowledge of God and to that state of spiritual bliss, which it should
be our sole aim in this life to attain," for which reason, in his
first book, "_De Arcanis Catholicæ Veritatis_," he strongly urged the
propriety of having the Talmud translated into Latin, that it might be
studied in the schools of Italy.

Peter Galatino, a learned Franciscan monk, who flourished in the early
part of the sixteenth century, was known to be a great persecutor of
the Jews. Yet in speaking of the sacred writings and Jewish
literature in general, he expressed himself nearly in the following
terms: That he regarded the Talmud as a divine work, and that he
considered every part of it as perfect, and adorned with excellent
moral instruction, adapted both for the guidance of our active and
contemplative life, and entitled on account of its inspired authors,
to be regarded as a work of extreme piety and goodness.

The above quotations are worthy of consideration. Let those Jews then,
who would attempt to cast a slur upon the Talmud, look for one moment
at these remarks, and pause while reflecting, that they were made by
Catholics, ere they proceed in their attacks upon a work which could
command such expressions from those whose religion was so widely
different, but whose reason could not refuse to yield to the cogent
proofs the divine book in itself contained.


[A] See the end of the book for an explanation of the Jewish months and


Time is the duration of things; it is divided into years, months,
weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. A year is the space of
twelve months, which is the time the sun takes in passing through the
twelve signs of the Zodiac. The Zodiac is a circle showing the earth's
yearly path through the heavens. On this circle are marked the twelve
signs, which are numbers of stars, reduced by the fancy of men into
the form of animals, and from these forms they take their name. A
month is the time the moon occupies in going round the earth. There
are two kinds of months, Lunar and Solar. Lunar months are calculated
by the moon; solar months are reckoned by the sun. The Hebrews make
use of lunar months which consist alternately of twenty-nine and
thirty days. The sacred volume directs them to make their computations
by lunar months. The plan adopted by them at this day is that which
was so admirably arranged by the celebrated and learned Rabbi Hillel,
the Prince. The difference between the solar and the lunar months
would occasion, in a period of seventeen years, the passover to occur
in the autumn month called Tishree, instead of Neson, the spring
month; and thus the feast of tabernacles would be in Neson instead of
Tishree. To avoid such imperfections in their calculations, the
Rabbins have arranged that every third year shall consist of thirteen
lunar months instead of twelve. This additional month is called an
intercalary month, and the year in which it occurs is called leap
year. By this arrangement it will be found that, in the course of
nineteen years, there are seven leap years, as follow:

The third, sixth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth, and
nineteenth. The moon was more regarded by the Jews than the sun,
because by the new moon all their festivals and fasts were regulated.
The new moon was always the beginning of the month. Persons were
appointed to watch its first appearance and represent the same to the
Sanhedrin, who immediately made it known to the whole of the nation.
The new moon was celebrated by the sound of trumpets, and an extra
sacrifice was offered in the holy temple.

The ancient Jews had originally no particular names for their months.
It is found occasionally in the Bible that names were given to some of
the months. These names were made use of as descriptive of the season
in which such month occurred; as we find by Moses the legislator, who
called the name of the first month Abib, it being the spring time of
the year. The present names of the Hebrew months are Chaldaic, and are
said to have first been made use of by the nation during the
captivity of Babylon. History informs us that these names were used
both by the Chaldeans and the Persians. The Jews always reckon their
day from evening to evening, because, in the account of the creation
of the world the evening is mentioned before the morning; and thus it
is that the Sabbaths, festivals and fasts commence from the previous
evening. They have no particular names in Hebrew for the days of the
week; they are called first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and
the seventh is called _Sabbath_.

The term week owes its derivation to the Hebrew word _Shovuang_, which
signifies seventh, on which day God rested from his labors. In former
times the Jews had three sorts of weeks:

First--Weeks of Days, which were reckoned from Sabbath to Sabbath.
Second--Weeks of Years, which were reckoned from one sabbatical year
to another. The sabbatical year happened every seventh year. This year
was called _Shemittah_, or year of release. Third--Weeks of seven
times seven years, or forty-nine years, and the fiftieth year was
called the year of _Youvile_, or Jubilee. The Jubilee was celebrated
on the day of atonement, and was proclaimed by the sounding of rams'
horns and seven trumpets. The Jubilee allowed the same privileges as
the sabbatical year. On both these occasions the ground was not
cultivated, but suffered to lie at rest, in order to recruit its
fruitful powers. All Hebrew slaves were set at liberty, and all lands
or houses, that may have been sold or pledged, returned to the
original owners.

It is thus plainly shown that the sabbatical year was evidently
appointed to inculcate humanity, fellow-feeling, and brotherly love.
At these periods the sovereignty of the Almighty was publicly
acknowledged by the restoration of all property to its original and
proper owner! Brotherly love was exercised by setting at liberty all
bondsmen: thus showing that all men are equal in the eyes of the the
Lord; and humanity was promoted by the care which was taken of the
poor and the stranger.


The following prayer is read in the Synagogue in Lodge street,
Cincinnati, on Sabbaths and festivals, the same having been composed
by the Rev. H. A. Henry, Minister of the said Synagogue, at the request
of the Board of Trustees of the congregation, as a substitute for the
Hebrew prayer formerly used by them, in accordance with the custom and
practice of the various European congregations.


Almighty God and Supreme Governor of the Universe. Thou who art
enthroned on high, and condescendest to look down, on earth, O! bless
and prosper in thine abundant goodness, this _happy_ country--this land
of _freedom_--which thou hast destined to be our resting-place--_the
United States of America_. Grant, O Lord, that virtue, truth, charity
and mercy may flourish in these States. O! bless the inhabitants of
this land! Grant that nought but peace and happiness may surround them
both at home and abroad. Deliver them from all dangers and
misfortunes! Endue them with the spirit of love and affection for each
other, that they may live as brethren, as the children of the Universal
Father of all mankind for ever and ever.

Pour forth, O Lord, thy blessings toward their excellencies the
President and the Vice-President of the United States. May they be
favored with health and vigor, and may all their efforts for the
well-doing of the people prove prosperous. May righteousness and
justice flourish in their days. O! banish all errors from their minds,
and fashion their hearts according to thy infinite and gracious

O! shed thy grace, O God, upon the Governor of this State, and the
Mayor and Common Council of this City. Teach them to judge the people
truly. Instruct them in the path they should tread, that their
administration may prove wise, steady and prosperous.

Send forth thy salvation, O Lord, into this City, and unto all its
inhabitants. O! spread over them thy pavillion of peace, and remove
from them all sorrows--all troubles--protect them and shield them from
all harm. Incline their hearts unto wisdom and piety, that they may
serve thee in holiness of life and purity of soul.

And we, thy chosen people, Israel! O! satisfy us with thy goodness!
Let us also rejoice in thy salvation! Guide us, O Lord, by thy
unerring Providence, that we may find grace in thy sight, and favor in
the eyes of the world. O may our daily supplications ascend thy throne
of Grace, that we may live in peace with all mankind, and seek the
welfare of the land where thou in thy mercy hast directed our course.
In their days, and in our days, may Judah be saved, Israel dwell in
comfort, and the Redeemer come unto Zion! O! may such be thy Divine
Will, and let us say--Amen.

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