Press of 


G. P. Putnam’s Scns 


New York 




The epoch of which this volume professes to treat 

embraces a period of about three hundred years(B.C. 164 

to A.D. 135), and has an intimate bearing on one of the 

most momentous turning-points in the history of the 

world. The first half cf this period is almost co-incident 

with the formation of the great confederation of Medi- 

terranean states under the supremacy of Rome — a 

confederation which constituted the most important 

external preparation for the success of Christianity ; 

the second half is co-incident with the birth develop- 

ment and primitive organization of the Christian 

faith. These are events which gave a new direction 

to the history of humanity in the West ; they are the 

starting-points of a fresh era in the life of the world ; 

unlike some of the records of antiquity, an account of 

them is not merely a revelation of what has tran- 

spired in the past ; at the present moment they are 

still exercising an immense influence on the deepest 

sentiments of mankind. 


In the first part of this work 1 have given an 

account of the relations which existed between the 






Jews — the people to whom Christianity was primarily 

addressed, and the Romans — the people who held 

together, under one common dominion, the various 

nationalities through which the Christian faith was 

destined to spread. In the execution of this task I 

have not carried the narrative beyond the final de- 

struction of the remnants of the Jewish state under 

the Emperor Hadrian. After this date an entirely 

new chapter in Jewish life begins. Henceforth the 

Jews ceased to be a nation, and again became what 

they have since remained, simply a religious commu- 

nity. The hope of being able to gratify their national 

aspirations by force of arms was gradually relinquished. 

Withdrawing from the broad current of the world’s 

political activities, they began the construction of 

another Sacred Book, and committed to writing the 

immense mass of oral laws and traditions that had 

been accumulating for centuries in the schools of the 

scribes. The gigantic results of these peaceful labours 

was the Talmud. This was a form of activity which 

did not bring the Jews into collision with the civil 

power, and accordingly the attitude of the Romans 

towards them, in the period subsequent to the reign 

of Hadrian, underwent comparatively little change, 

and calls for little comment. 


The narrative part of this work opens with the 

first indications of Roman contact with the Jews. 

At this time Roman and Jewish policy was dictated 

by similar considerations. Both peoples were bent 

on crippling the power of Syria, and when the Jews, 

under the Maccabees, revolted against the enfeebled 

successors of Alexander, the Romans encouraged the 






insurgents and willingly accepted their alliance. For 

many years after the Jews had successfully asserted 

their claim to independence, the Romans continued 

to befriend them. But when the authority of the 

Senate was overthrown, and supreme power in the 

commonwealth fell into the hands of military chiefs, 

a change in Roman foreign policy was one of the 

first effects of this revolution. While the oligarchy 

in the Senate was supreme it was not a part of 

Roman policy to extend the frontiers of the republic 

so as to include the great Hellenic communities of 

Egypt and Western Asia. The senators dreaded the 

results of Greek influence on Roman life ; but their 

successors, the military leaders, were hampered by no 

such fears. The era of conquest was renewed, and, 

under the auspices of Pompey, the western portion of 

the Syrian monarchy (of which Palestine formed a 

part) was brought within the jurisdiction of Rome. 

For several years after this event the policy of the 

Romans towards the Jews, consisted in administering 

the internal affairs of Palestine through the inter- 

mediary of vassal princes. But this method was 

gradually abandoned ; it was not sufficiently favour- 

able to the process of consolidating the empire, which 

was one of the chief objects of imperial solicitude. 

Accordingly, soon after Herod the Great’s death, the 

two most important portions of the Holy Land — 

Judaea and Samaria — were placed under the control 

of a Roman procurator. 


With the exception of one short interval the rule 

of the procurators lasted till the destruction of the 

Jewish state. The manner in which these officials 






administered public affairs was sometimes highly 

exasperating, but, on the whole, the direct rule of 

Rome was less inimical to local liberty than any 

preceding system of government The Roman 

method of collecting taxation was undoubtedly de- 

fective, and easily lent itself to purposes of extortion ; 

still it is very questionable if the Syrian and Macca- 

baean methods, under which the Jews had previously 

lived, were one whit better. The Roman emperors 

freely recognized the evils which often disgraced the 

collection of the revenue, and the reason why such a 

system continued to exist was because a more en- 

lightened one had not then been devised. The Jews 

were not the only sufferers from it ; it was in opera- 

tion in every province of the empire. 


Roman rule, as we shall see, with all its imperfec- 

tions conferred many inestimable advantages on the 

Jews. The factions into which Jewish society was 

divided when the Romans took possession of Pales- 

tine, had reduced the country to a deplorable state of 

anarchy ; it was the strong hand of Rome which 

parted the embittered combatants and inaugurated a 

new epoch of order, security, and peace. The absorp- 

tion of Jewish territory into the vast organism of the 

Roman Empire opened up more ample fields for 

Jewish enterprizc, and enabled the Jewish trader to 

transport his wares in security over wider portions of 

the globe. The Caesars also granted the Jews many 

privileges and immunities which provincials in other 

parts of the empire did not enjoy ; in fact, their posi- 

tion under Rome was, in many respects, more ad- 






vantageous than it had been during any previous 

period of their history. 


Unfortunately for the Jews the relifjious ideas, 

which had been fermenting in the race for centuries, 

began to assume a political form under Roman rule. 

While the Syrians were masters of Judaea the popu- 

lation had no religious scruples about the payment 

of tribute, or the pollution by heathen conquerors of 

the sacred soil of Palestine. But under Roman supre- 

macy a new development took place in Jewish theo- 

logy, and, at the commencement of the Christian era, 

almost the entire population of Judaea had come to 

believe that it was an act of impiety towards Israel’s 

God to pay taxes to Rome. ‘ This belief took a prac- 

tical form in the revolt of the Zealots. The revolt 

was suppressed, but the influence of this party, whose 

watchword was ” No king but God,” continued to 

increase till it culminated in the great uprising which 

ended in the destruction of Jerusalem. Even after 

this catastrophe the flame of Jewish fanaticism was 

only temporarily extinguished ; it burst out afresh 

with uncontrollable fury both in Judaea and among 

the Dispersion ; and the Emperors Trajan and Ha- 

drian had to adopt the most sanguinary measures 

before it finally succumbed. 


The first part of this volume is accordingly in- 

tended to show that the repeated cflbrts of the Jews 

to overthrow Roman rule did not arise so much from 

the oppressiveness of imperial administration as from 

the growing supremacy of a new order of religious 

ideas among the Jews. 


The second part deals principally with the internal 






structure of Jewish society till the downfall of Jeru- 

salem. The civil and religious functions of the San- 

hedrin are set forth ; as also the sacrificial system of 

worship at the Temple, the revenues and duties of the 

priesthood, the relations between the Temple and its 

unconscious rival — the Synagogue. The synagogue 

introduces us to the scribes — a body of men whose 

influence on Jewish life at this period can hardly be 

over-estimated. The scribes were not only the inter- 

preters of Law and Tradition, they were frequently its 

creators, and always its disseminators among the 

masses of the community. The Pharisees, as we 

shall see, were the disciples of the scribes ; while their 

opponents, the Sadduceesj will be shown to have been 

primarily and essentially a political party. The fric- 

tion between these two parties was originally of a 

political character, and the line of division between 

them in Roman times, on certain points of law, 

ritual, and theology, was only the indistinct remains 

of the wide gulf which had separated them when 

Judaea was mistress of her own destinies. The 

Essenes, a peculiar outgrowth of Jewish life, present 

many points of contact with the Pharisees. In fact, 

the essence of their system consisted in pushing the 

principles of the Pharisees, concerning ceremonial 

purity, to their logical conclusions. In order effec- 

tually to avoid the risk of becoming unclean, the 

Essenes ultimately abandoned human society alto- 

gether and formed communities of their own. I have 

described their life, habits, practices, and beliefs, as 

well as the rclati’^n in which they stood to Judaism 

and Christianity. 






Having sketched the nature and constitution of 

Jewish parties, I next proceed to give an account of 

the different races which composed the population of 

Palestine. I have pointed out that the people who 

inhabited this portion of the Roman Empire were not 

a nation, and were not held together by any of those 

ties of race, religion, or common traditions, which 

constitute the strongest bonds of nationality. They 

were merely an assortment of peoples settled to- 

gether on the same soil ; they had never amalga- 

mated into a homogeneous whole ; and Palestine, 

in Roman times, is nothing more than a geographical 

expression. In no part of Palestine, except Judaea, 

was the population purely Jewish ; in Samaria, 

Galilee, and Peraea, as well as along the Mediter- 

ranean coast, there was a mixed population of Jews, 

Syrians, and Greeks ; in some districts, and especially 

in several of the large cities, the Gentile element, 

distinctly preponderated over the Jewish. The Mes- 

sianic hope was of course confined to Jewish circles ; 

in the chapter devoted to the subject, I have pointed 

out the nature, scope, and influence of this momentous 



In this work attention has also been called to the 

life of the Jews outside Palestine. The confined area 

of the Holy Land did not offer a large enough field 

for the energy and cntcrprize which animated the 

race. Some of the Jews were, it is true, on different 

occasions forcibly deported from their native home, 

but it is probable that the majority left of their own 

free choice. At the commencement of the Christian 

era th’:^ Jewish immigration, especially in the eastern 






provinces of the Roman Empire, had assumed such 

proportions that the communities of Jews abroad 

surpassed their co-religionists at-home in numbers, 

influence, and wealth. I have described the position 

of these communities before the law of Rome, the 

privileges they enjoyed, the manner in which they 

were organized, and their relation to the parent com- 

munity at Jerusalem. I have shown the power which 

Gentile ideas had upon these communities of the 

Dispersion ; how Greek thought subverted many 

of the fundamental conceptions of Judaism ; how the 

Jews succumbed before it by assuming that Hellenic 

wisdom had originally sprung from themselves ; and 

how, finally, the original meaning of the Old Testa- 

ment Scriptures was exploded by an allegorical 

method of interpretation which was intended to bring 

them into harmony with the prevailing principles of 

Greek philosophy. Such a state of things, strange to 

say, existed side by side with an ardent zeal for the 

propagation of Judaism. The manner in which this 

remarkable propaganda was conducted, consisted in 

placing Hebrew sentiments in the mouths of the 

heroes, sages, philosophers, and mythical personages of 

heathen antiquity. These efforts were attended with 

considerable success, and in the first century of the 

present era the Roman Empire contained a great 

number of converts to Judaism. But Judaism, even 

in its Hellenic form, still retained its national cha- 

racter — it never permitted the convert to stand exactly 

upon the same level as the born Jew — Judaism, in 

fact, was unable to satisfy the cravings of the human 

conscience for religious equality, and it will be shown 






that most of its converts, as well as many of the 

Hellenic Jews, ultimately found a refuge in the uni- 

versalistic principles of Christianity. 


The rise of Christianity falls within the period to 

which this volume is devotied. But as an adequate 

account of so momentous an event would transcend 

the limits assigned to the Series I have deemed it 

better to confine myself to an historical descrip- 

tion of the institutions in existence among the Jews 

at the period when Christianity arose. A work of 

this nature will serve the purpose of shedding more 

light upon the Christian documents handed down to 

us in the New Testament, and will also assist us in 

forming a more accurate estimate of primitive and 

apostolic Christianity. It is impossible to under- 

stand the historic and doctrinal contents of the New 

Testament writings, without some knowledge of the 

times in which these writings originated. These 

times have passed away with the downfall of ancient 

civilization ; we are now living in another world ; we 

are surrounded by a new order of ideas and institu- 

tions ; the contents of the New Testament are a 

product of antiquity ; to be fully comprehended they 

must be placed in their original historic framework, 

and looked at in the light of the age which called them 

forth. This indispensable framework’ the present 

volume endeavours to supply. It is the first English 

book, so far as I am aware, which is exclusively 

occupied with this period ; the ” Story of the Jews,” 

in the same Series, deals in general outline with the 

entire historv of the race. 


Besides making a study of the original sources 




in the preparation of the present work, I have also 

availed myself of the most recent investigations con- 

nected with this department of historical research. 

In the domain of Talmudic literature I must express 

my obligations to the works of Surenhusius, Light- 

foot, Derenbourg, Weber, Wiinsche, and Hamburger. 

Niese’s new critical edition of Josephus, now in course 

of publication, is still too incomplete to be of much 

service for our period. In verifying references and 

revising the proofs, I have been much indebted to 

Mr. J. Morrison. 



Wandsworth Common, 

London 1890, 








The following are the principal sources of this history. 

References to modem literature will be found in the notes : 


Apocalypse of Baruch, The. See Ceriani, ” Monurnenta 

sacra et profana,” Milan, 1866 ; Fritische, ‘• Libri apocryphi Vet. 

Test. gr.Ece,” 1871; Lagarde, “Libri Vet. Test, apocryphi 




Appian. See ” Appiani Romanorum hisioriarum quae super- 

sun I,” ed. Mendelssohn, 1879. 


Assumption of Moses, The. See Ceriani. “Monumenta”; 

Hilgenfeld, “Novum Test, extra canonem recepium,” 1876; 

” Messias Judieorum,” 1869. 


” Corpus Inscripiionura Hebraicarum,” Chwolson, Peters- 

burg, 1882. 


” Die Cassiu3,”’ed. Dindorf, Leipzig, T863. 


“Diodorus Siculus,” book xxix., ed. Dindorf, Paris, 1855. 


Enoch. Laurence, “The Book of Enoch,” Oxford, 1821; 

“Libri Enoch versio ^thinpica,'” ed. Laurence, 183S ; Dill- 

mann. “Das Buch Henoch iibersetzt,” Leipzig, 1853 ; Schodde, 

” The Book of Enoch,”‘ Andover, iSBz. 


Ezra, The Fourth Book of. Hilgenfeld, ” Mcssias Jud;eorum”; 

Frilzsche, ” Libri apocryphi Vet. Tesl.,” Leipzig, 1871 ; Bensly, 

” The Missing Fragment.” Cambridge, 1S75. 


“Flavius Josephus,” ed. Havercamp, 1726; Dindorf, 1845; 

Niese, 1885. 






” Fragmenta Historiconim Grecorum,” iii., C. Miiller. 


Jubilees, The Book of. Ceriani, ” Monumenta sacra et 

profana,”!. iS6i. 


Mischna, The. ” Mtschna sive totius Hebrjeorum juris, 

rituum aniiqiuiaium ac legum oraliiini systema Cum clarissi- 

morum Rabbinorum Maimonidis et Bartenorse commentariis 

iniegris,” &c. G. Surenhusius, Atnsterdain, 169S. 


“Monumentum Ancyranum.” Mominsen, ” Res geslx divi 

Augusd,” 1883. 


” Philo,” ed. Mangey, London, 1742. 


Plutarch’s ” Lives.” 


Polybius, “Hist.,”xxvi.->!l. 


“Reliquiae Sacne,” Routh. 


Sibylline Books, The. ” Oracula SibylUna ” curante, C 

Alexandre, Paris, 1869; “OracuU Sibyllina,” J. H. Friedlieb, 

Lipsis, [851. 


Strabo, ” Geography,” xvi. 


Suetonius, ” Lives of the Caesars.” 


Tacitus, “Annals and Histories.” 


Tar^ms, The. Etheridge, ” The Targums of Onkelos and 

Jonathan,” London, 1862. 


Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. “Tesiamenta XIL 

Patriarcharum,” ed. Sinker, Cambridge, 1869; Appendix, 1879. 








Roman- Policy before the Conquest of Palestine. 


B.C. 164-63 3-10 


Roman power in llie second century, B.C. — The Je*s merely 

a religious communily in second century, B.c.^ Persecution 

of ihe Jews by Anlioehus. 168 B.c.^Kevolt of ihe Jews — 

Maltathias — Judas Maccalxeus— Dealh of Anlioehus— The 

Jews regain religious liberly— Demclrius, king of Syria — 

The Jews send an Emiiassy lo Rome— Jonathan, Jewish 

leader — Simon — League with Rome— Simon assassinated — 

Embassy 10 Rome — Roman Senate and the Jews — Effects of 

Roman policy on ihe Jews. 



The Roman Conquest. b.c. 63-41 . . 21-57 


Slrife between Saddiicees and Pharisees — Badducecs — Phari- 

sees-— Jewish king opposed by Phnrisci’S — Aristolnilus becomes 

king— Alexander Jann:cus king— Alexander anil the Pharisees 

— Alexandra queen — Pompey in the East — Romans in Pales- 








tine — Pompey s policy in the East — Pompey takes Jerusalem 

— Psalms of Solomon — Why the Jewish kingdom fell — 

Pompey’s arrangements in Palestine— Gabinius in Palestine 

— Revolt of the Jews— Rise of Antipater— Crassus in the 

East — Plunders the Temple— War between Caesar and Pompey 

— Oesar in Palestine — Advent of Herod — Cassius in the East 

— Battle of Philippi — Herod and his brother made Tetrarchs. 




The Roman Vassal King. b.c. 41-4 . . 58-91 


The Parthians invade Judaea — Herod flees — The Romans 

make Herod king — Herod captures Jerusalem — Herod and 

Cleopatra — Antony defeated at Actium — Herod deserts 

Antony — Death of Antony and Cleopatra — Character and 

policy of Augustus — Herod and Augustus — How Herod 

maintained order — Herod promotes prosperity in Palestine 

— Herod attempts to Hellenize his dominions— Herod builds 

the Temple — Is hated by the Jews — This hatred partly based 

on prejudice — Herod trusted by Augustus — Herod and his 

family — His end — *’ Assumption of Moses.” 




The Roman Tetrarchs. b.c. 4 to a.d. 37 . 92-118 


Disturbances in Jerusalem — Augustus divides Herod’s king- 

dom — Philip the Tetrarch — His character and reign — His 

capital — Antipas — Antipas in Galilee and Peraea — Antipas 

under Augustus — Antipas a spy to Tiberius — He builds 

Tiberias— Marries Herodias — ^Jesus and Antipas— Antipas 

banished — Archelaus*s early life — Archelaus before Augustus 

— Policy of Archelaus in Judxa — Archelaus banished. 




The Roman Procurators, a.d. 6-37 . . 1 19-152 


Judica a Roman Province — Appointment of a Procurator 

— Quirinius — Roman Census and Taxes — Discontent with the 

Census— Rise of the Zealots — Their leader Judas— Position 












and power of the Procurator — Relation between Procurators 

and Legates of Syria — Relation of the local authorities to the 

Procurators — Feud between the Judaeans and Samaritans- 

Death of Augustus — Accession of Tiberius — His character — 

Administration of Tiberius— Tiberius and the Jews— The Jews 

banished from Rome— Pilate— His policy in Judaea — Pilate 

and the voiive tablets — Pilate constructs an Aqueduct — 

Pilate condemns Jesus — Disturbances in Samaria — Suspension 

of Pilate. 






Destruction of the Jewish State, ad. 37-73 




Caligula emperor — His statue — Petronius, the governor, hesi- 

tates to place it in the Temple— Growth of the Zealots — 

Claudius emperor — King Agrippa — Procurators again ad- 

minister Jewish affairs — Claudius tries to ct>nciliate the Jews 

— The Zealots steadily become more formidable — Disturbances 

and insecurity in Palestine — Nero emperor — Anarchy in 

Palestine — Gessius Floras procurator — Outbreak of the revolt 

— Roman garrison of Jerusalem massacred — Governor of 

Syria marches on Jerusalem — Vespasian in Palestine — Titus 

sent to quell the insurrection — Capture and destruction of 







The Final Conflicts. a.d. 73-135 . . 181-206 


Titus and the Jewish Princess Berenice — Triumph of Ves- 

pasian and Titus — Disappearance of the Herodian family 

— Domitian and the Jews— Nerva and the Jews — Trajan 

emperor — Trajan in the East — Revolt of the Tews — Suppres- 

sion of the revolt-T-Death of Trnjnn — Haflrian emperor — 

Jewish hopes— Hadrian and Jerusalem — Fresh revolt — Bar- 

Kokheba and Akiba — Progress of the revolt — Severus crushes 

the rebels — The Jews after Hadrian. 


















The Sanhedrin, or Supreme National 


Council 209-218 


The Romans and Local Government — Origin of the San- 

hedrin — Its history — Its composition —Its functions — Local 





The Temple 219-239 


Origin of the Temple — Its popularity — The Temple and the 

Synagogue — The Priests — 1 he Priests a caste — Their con- 

secration— The Levitts— Position of the Levites— The High 

Prie-it — His functions, both civil and ecclesiastical — The 

High Priest and the Temple — The Captain of the Temple — 

Endowments of ihe Priesthood — Tithes — Offerings— Duties 

of the Priests -The Temple building — The sacrifices — The 





The Synagogue 240-252 


Origin of the Synagogue — Importance of the Synagogue 

— Construction of the Synagogue – Officials of the Syna- 

gogue—Service of the Synagogue — Reading of the Prophets 

— Preaching in the Synagogue — Value of the Institution. 




The Law and Tradition …. 253-272 


The Sacred Books — How the Books acquired sacredness 

— Degrees of sacredness— The Ti)rah — The Prophets — All 

the Sacred Books of Divme origin — Im|X)rtancc of the I-aw 

— Ignorance of the Law a curse — Tradiiion~How lost 




COAT/iiVrS. XXIll 




Tradition was restored — The Halacha and Haggada — 

Halacha, the Law of Custom— Its origin — Haggada the 

edifying comment — Its scope. 






The Teachers of the Law …. 273-295 


The need of Teachers — Rise of the Scribes — Functions of ihe 

Scril^es — The Scribes as Law-makers — The Scril)es as Judges 

— The Scribes as Teachers— Method of Teaching — Prepara- 

tion for Teaching — Manner of Teaching — Qualifications of a 

Scribe — Scribes learned a trade — Demeanour of the Scribes 

— Respect paid them by the People — Defects of the vScribes — 





The Pharisees and Sadducees . . . 296-322 


Value of our sources of information — Origin of the two 

parties in the Priests and Scril^es— Hellenists and Assi- 

d.cans precursors of Sadducees and Pharisees — The Sadducees 

— The Pharisees — The Pharisees and the People — Rupture 

between the Pharisees and Sadducees — Its consequences — 

The Sa Iducees under Herod and the Romans — The Pharisees 

and Herod — The Romans and the Pharisees — Theological 

differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees —Differences 

respecting the value of Tradition — Resjiecting the Penal Code 

— Respecting the Resurrection — Respecting Angels — Mews 

of the two parties on Providence and Free Will. 






The Essenes 323-347 


The Essenes a religious order — The Essenes and the Rechabites 

— Origin of the Essenes — Origin of the Name — Organization 

of the Essene Community — Initiation — Heads of the Organi- 

zation — Their functions — The Essenes Communists — Their 

occupation agwcultural — The Essenes ascetics — The Essenes 






and marriage — Essene theology— The Essenes seers and 

interpreters of dreams — The Essenes me<iicine men and 

exorcists -The Essenes and evil spirits— Essene ideas on 

Predestination and Immortality — The Essenes and the 

Temple — Origin of Essene ideas and practices — Essenism 

and Judaism — Essenism and Christianity. 




The People 348-361 


The Population of Palestine not purely Jewish— Population 

of the Coast Towns — Population of Galilee mixed — The 

Samaritans — Population of the Decapolis — Population of 

Pernea — Gentile Population and the Jews — Character of the 

heathen Population — Greek influence in Palestine — The 

Greek tongue — ^Jewish hatred of the Gentiles — Roman 

contempt for the Jews. 




The Messianic Hope 362-374 


Cause of the Jewish hatred of Rome — Messianic hope in the 

New Testament — Calamities 10 precede the Messianic time — 

Precursor of the Messiah — Attributes of the Messiah — 

Enemies of the Messiah — Extent of Messianic kingdom — 

The New Jerusalem — Return of the Jews to the Holy Land 

— The Gentiles in the Messianic kingdom — The Messianic 

time a golden age — The fruitfulness of Nature — The Reign 

of Peace — Duration of the Messianic time. 




The Jews Abroad 375-415 


Numl>ers of the Jews abroad — Ex’ent of the Dispersion— The 

Jews in Mesopotamia — In Asia Minor -In Egypt — In Africa 

and Cyprus — In Italy — Jews as Roman citizens — Jews as 

citizens of Greek towns — Privileges accorded to’ the Jews 

— The right of meeting— The right to be tried before their 

own tribunals — The right to collect the Temple tax — 

Privileges of the Jews respected — Organization of the Jews 




abroad — Their Synagogues— The language used in Ihe Syna- 

gogue — Pilgtimages to the Temple — Influence of Greek ideas 

— The Jews ascribe a Hebrew origin to Greek wisdom — 

Philo of Alexandria — Allegory— Results of allegorizing — 

Foreign opinion of the Jews— Jewish defence of Iheir beliefs 

— Its method — The Jews transform the Greelt poets into 

advocates of Judaism— Sibylline Books— The West looking to 

Ihe East — Converts lo Judaism — Jewish Converts become 



Index 417-416 










ROUE Frontispiece 


MAP OF PALESTINE …. To face page i 










EPIPHANE-S 176-164 B.C 16 







































































* . . A 














































































































































































(JUany of these i/luatrations are reproduced by pemiiiiion from th 

vjerks published by the Palestine Exploiation Fund Commiltet 

Ot/urs are laien from SlaJe’s ” Cesehidite dei Valkes Israel.”) 

















(B.C. 164-65.) 


The Romans first entered into political relations 

with the Jews in the course of the second century 

before Christ At this period the Romans had risen 

to a position of undisputed supremacy among the 

nations of antiquity. The power of Carthage was 

shattered at the battle of Zama (ac 201) ; the once 

formidable kingdom of Macedonia was on the eve 

of becoming a Roman province ; and the Syrian 

monarchy, after the defeat of King Antiochus at 

Magnesia (b.c. 190), had to accept such hard con- 

ditions of peace as reduced this great monarchy to 

the rank of a vassal state. In political sagacity, as 

well as in warlike qualities, the Roman people at 

this epoch were without rivals, and Roman power 

extended far beyond Roman arms. From the 






Pillars of Hercules in the west to the banks of the 

Orontes in the east Roman influence was supreme 

and the word of B^ome was law. The might and 

valour of the Romans, as well as their policy and 

patience, had become known among the Jews, and 

one Jewish writer speaks of them as a people who 

could make and unmake kings at their will.* 


Very different was the position occupied by the 

inhabitants of Palestine. The captives who sat and 

wept by the waters of Babylon did not become a free 

people when the more ardent among them were per- 

mitted to return to their native land. The little 

community of Jews which settled in Jerusalem and 

restored the temple of their fathers still continued 

under the dominion c\ the Persians, and on the over- 

throw of the Persian monarchy by Alexander the 

Great, the Jews of Palestine simply experienced a 

change of masters (B.C. 332). After Alexander’s 

death his inheritance was divided between the two 

Greek lines of kings which arose in Egypt and 

Syria, and Judaea was sometimes in possession of the 

one line and sometimes of the other, according to 

the varying fortune of diplomacy and war. During 

the whole of this period the Jews had no thought of 

asserting their independence. They were perfectly 

contented to remain in a state of political vassalage 

so long as they were permitted to enjoy religious 

liberty. After the exile the Jews had ceased to 

be a nation, and had become a church. It was not 

a common country, but a common faith, which united 

them. Patriotism did not extend beyond the feeling 


‘ 1 Mace. viii. 13, s<^. 






that the soil of Palestine was holy ground, which 

ought only to be inhabited by the chosen people of God. 

Some time before the Romans actually came into 

contact with this religious community the principles 

of Roman policy profoundly affected the position 

of the Jews. In the second century before Christ 

Palestine, after many struggles, finally became a part 

of the Syrian monarchy. Now, it had become a 

settled purpose with the Romans to weaken and 

hamper this monarchy, and to prevent its recovery 

from the defeat which the Roman army had inflicted 

at Magnesia on the Syrian king (B.C. 190). A strik- 

ing instance of this policy is seen in the attitude 

which the Romans took up towards Antiochus 

Epiphanes, king of Syria, when he was on the point 

of bringing an arduous campaign against Egypt to 

a successful close. The king was besieging Alexan- 

dria, when a Roman envoy appeared in his camp and 

bluntly ordered him to retreat Antiochus hesitated, 

and asked for time to consider this peremptory 

demand. But the envoy immediately drew a circle 

in the sand around the king, and said, ” Before you 

leave this circle the Senate must have an answer.” ‘ 

To defy the imperious messenger was hopeless ; 

Antiochus reluctantly abandoned his enterprise and 

returned home (B.C. 168). Before he could possibly 

meet the Romans on equal terms, the king saw that 

it was necessary to weld the different nationalities of 

which his empire was composed into a homogeneous 

people. The only way of accomplishing this object 

was to induce his subjects to adopt a common form 


* Appian, **Syr.,”66 ; Livy, xlv. 11 ; Polybius, xxix. 11. 






of faith. He accordingly issued an edict to that 

effect — a step which immediately led him into 

collision with the Jews. Syrian emissaries were sent 

into Judaea to abolish Judaism and establish the 

worship of Olympian Zeus. The abomination of 

desolation was set up in the Temple ; the Sacred 

Scriptures were burnt ; the practice of circumcision 

was forbidden on pain of death, and all the horrors 

of a religious persecution descended on the land 

(B.C. i68).» 


Persecution did not produce the results which the 

despot had anticipated. For some time the people 

did not pass beyond the bounds of passive resistance. 

At length the spirit of the community began to rise 

against a state of things which was making life 

intolerable, and it ultimately found public expression 

in the daring conduct of an aged priest named 

Mattathias. This man belonged to a family of 

distinction, and occupied a prominent position in 

the town of Modein, situated westward of Jerusalem. 

One day he was called upon by a royal official to 

use his influence in favour of the establishment of 

heathenism in the town. But the old man had for 

some time beheld with growing indignation the 

persecution which was being inflicted on his co- 

religionists. He not only refused the Syrian officer 


* I Mace. 1. 41, J^.y Psalm Ixxii. ; Dan. xi. 21, s^. As no other ancient 

authors mention the decree of Antiochus, its existence is questioned by 

E, Reuss, ** La Bible, Litterature, politique et poleniique,” 50. The 

Abomination of Desolation was a small altar uf Jupiter placed on the 

High Altar of the Temple. The expression is probably taken by the 

author of I Mace, from an incorrect Greek translation of Dan. ix. 27. 

The Hebrew text of Daniel reads, ** The abomination of the desolator.” 






all assistance, but slew him while he was making 

preparations for a heathen sacrifice. 


The insurrection of the Jews had virtually begun 

(B.C. 167), Mattathias and his sons fled to the 

hill country of Judtea, and were soon joined by 

others who had caught the spirit of revolt. Matta- 

thias died in the following year, but he left five 

heroic sons to carry on the contest. His third son 

Judas, who received the name of Maccabicus,’ was 

selected by the insurgents to succeed his father (B.C. 

166-161}. Under Judas the revolt assumed larger 

proportions, and in a short time he was able to 




meet and defeat the Syrians in the open field. The 

situation which the Romans had created in Syria 

was favourable to the Jewish cause. In order to 

find money to pay the tribute imposed by Rome 

upon his house, Antiochus had to undertake an 

expedition into the Far East, which depleted Syria 

of a large number of troops.” During the king’s 


‘ The meaning of the word Maecalsru^ is not qiiile clear. C/. 

Schenkel, “Bil)ell.c)iiknr,” 111.425; K. Motitcl, ” Kssaisat le.s origine* 

dra partis Satlucten et I’hariseen,” 162. 


” I Mace. hi. 34! Jusephus, •’ Ant.,” nii. 7 i Tiicitus, ” EUst.” v. S. 






absence the government of the country was entrusted 

to a high functionary named Lysias. Lysias took a 

serious view of the rebellion in Judaea, and de- 

spatched a force under the command of three generals 

to suppress it. But this army met with alarming 

reverses at the hands of Judas, and Lysias was 

obliged to go to Palestine in person to conduct the 

campaign. Meanwhile Antiochus had been apprised 

of the disasters which had befallen his captains, and 

was hastening homewards to assume the supreme 

direction of affairs, when death put a termination to 

his career (B.C. 164).^ The pressure of Roman policy 

upon Antiochus was the indirect cause of the Jewish 

revolt, and the immediate cause of the king’s 

inability to suppress it. 


After the death of Antiochus, the distracted state 

of Syria and the struggles of rival pretenders for 

the crown strengthened the position of the Jewish 

patriots. Antiochus V., son of the late king, was 

only nine years old when he began to reign (B.C. 

164). His father had appointed a courtier named 

Philip regent during his son’s minority. But this 

arrangement did not satisfy Lysias, who had the 

young king in his custody, and who was carrying on 

the campaign in Palestine when the news of his 

supersession by Philip arrived. Lysias immediately 

left off the contest with Judas, and devoted his 

energies to the task of resisting Philip’s claims. At 

this juncture, if any historic value can be attached to a 

statement in the Second Book of the Maccabees,^ two 

Roman envoys, Quintus Memmius and Titus Manlius, 


» I Mace vi. 4, sq. ; Polybius, xxxL ii. ‘2 Mace xi. 34. 






who were probably on their way from Alexandria to 

Antioch, offered to take charge of Jewish interests 

at the Syrian capital. Peace is said to ha\c been 

the outcome of their efforts (RC. 162). But it was 

a peace which did not endure. In the following 

year the Syrian king once more invaded Palestine 

at the head of a great army, and, in spite of the 

strenuous opposition of Judas, laid siege to the Holy 

City. Famine soon reduced the garrison to the last 

extremities, and their fate would have been a hard 

one had not the disordered condition of Syria com- 




pelled the besiegers to accept honourable terms. 

Whilst the siege was in progress news came to the 

Syrian camp that Philip had put himself at the head 

of a large army, with the intention of enforcing his 

claims to the regency. No time was to be lost, and 

the king, acting on the advice of Lysias, accorded 

the Jews religious liberty. Jerusalem capitulated ; 

and the same order of things was established as had 

existed previous to the insurrection.’ 


Soon after these events Antiochus V. was dethroned 

and executed by his relative, Demetrius I.” In 


I Mace. vi. I, ij. ; Joscfihus, ” Ant.,” xii, g, 2. 


• 1 Mace. vii. I ; Appian, ” Syr.,” Ivi. ; Justin, xnxiv. 3. 






Judaea the new monarch allowed the people to retain 

the religious liberties granted them by his pre- 

decessor, and had he exercised more judgment in 

the selection of a High Priest, it would have been 

impossible for Judas to renew the struggle against 

Syria with any prospect of success. The Assidaeans 

or Pious Ones, who afterwards developed into the 

party known as the Pharisees, and who, while their 

religion was at stake, were devoted followers of 

Judas, were satisfied with the attainment of religious 

freedom. But Judas and his friends, who formed the 

party which afterwards became the Sadducees, con- 

sidered the sacrifices that the people had already 

made created a new situation, and were unwilling to 

relax their efforts till the country was completely 

independent The Assidaeans, consisting of the 

scribes and the bulk of the population, accepted 

Alcimus, the High Priest whom Demetrius had 

appointed, and were disposed for peace. But the 

senseless barbarities of Alcimus threw the Assidaeans 

once more into the arms of the war party, and the 

struggle began afresh. The High Priest was obliged 

to flee from Jerusalem ; Demetrius sent an army to 

reinstate him, but Judas defeated the Syrian forces, 

and the Jews enjoyed a short period of repose.^ 


Nevertheless, Judas was well aware that Demetrius 

would not patiently endure the discomfiture of his 

generals, and that in a prolonged conflict the small 

community of Jews would eventually be overcome. 

He accordingly considered it expedient to seek 


‘ I Mace. vii. ; 2 Mace. xv. ; Josephus, “Ant.,” xii. lo, 5; r/, 

L. Seinecke, “Geschichte des Volkes Israel,” 11, 115. 






assistance from the Romans ; and two Jewish dele- 

gates, Eupolemos and Jason, were sent to Italy to 

form an alliance with Rome. The Senate, which 

never neglected an opportunity of crippling the 

Syrian monarchy, accorded a favourable reception 

to the Jewish envoys, and acknowledged the in- 

dependence of their country. It was clearly in the 

interests of Rome that an independent nation should 

separate the Syrian and Egyptian monarchies, and 

form ft barrier to any union of their forces hostile to 

the Republic^ While these negotiations were taking 

place the Syrian army again invaded Palestine. 

Judas went forth to meet them, and, after a desperate 

conflict, was defeated and slain (B.C. 16 1). Th.e 

death of their leader shattered the party of freedom, 

and the Romans, probably because they saw no 

distinct centre of authority left standing in the 

country, ignored the treaty they had just made with 

the Jewish envoys, and left Judaea to its fate. 


It was not by direct intervention that the Romans 

helped the Jews forward on the path of independence ; 

it was by the disintegrating action of Roman policy 

on the kingdom of Syria. The Jewish leaders did 

not fail to take advantage of the opportunities which 

were thus afforded them. About nine years after the 

death of Judas Maccabaeus, the Romans started a 

new pretender to the Syrian crown in the person of 

Alexander Balas^ a young man of unknown origin 


I Mace viii. ; Josephus, “Ant.,” xii. lo, 6; Mommsen, 

** Romische Geschichte,” il, 59. This alliance with the Jews and the 

Romans is not free from uncertainty. Cf. , C^raetz, ** Geschichte der 

Juden,” HI, 639. Montet, *• Essai,*’ 165, note 7. 






(B.C. 152). Supported by the allies of Rome, Balas 

was able to take the field against Demetrius, who 

became alarmed at the threatening aspect of afTairs. 

Jonathan, a brother of Judas, was then at the head 

of the Jewish patriots (ac. 161-142), and Demetrius 

attempted by concessions to win him over to his side. 

When the pretender Balas heard of this, he im- 

mediately outbade Demetrius, and offered Jonathan 

the High Priesthood as the price of his support. 

Jonathan sold himself to the highest bidder, and, not- 

withstanding further profuse promises from Demetrius, 

the Jewish leader remained true to his allegiance. 








The war between the two rivals did not last long; 

Demetrius was overthrown and slain (B.C. 151), and 

at the marriage of the new king, Jonathan was 

appointed civil and military governor of Judaea.’ 


Whilst these changes were taking place in Syria, 

the Romans had completed the ruin of Carthage, and 

reduced Greece and Macedonia to the position of 

provinces. Jonathan who was a sagacious statesman, 

and had secured more for his people by diplomacy 

than the sword, no doubt understood the meaning of 

‘ I Mace. X. 65. 






such events and despatched an embassy to Rome 

While his agents were negotiating an alliance with 

the Senate, Jonathan was basely murdered by a fresh 

Syrian pretender, and Simon his elder brother 

became head of the community.’ 


Under the wise guidance of Simon (B.C 142-135), 

the Jews attained a high degree of happiness and 

prosperity. From being a religious community, they 

had once more become a nation, and as a reward for 

Simon’s services, the people at a solemn assembly 

proclaimed him and his descendants High Priests and 

Ethnarchs till a faithful prophet should arise.^ Simon 

assisted Demetrius II., king of Syria, in resisting 

the pretender Trypho, who had murdered his brother 

Jonathan ; and Demetrius, in return for this aid, 

renounced all claim to tribute, and acknowledged the 

political. autonomy of Judaea. Simon, however, had 

little faith in the promises and concessions of Syrian 

monarchs, and, like his two predecessors, trusted for 

security to an alliance with Rome. Numenius was 

charged with the conduct of the negotiations, and his 

labours were so successful, that the Romans issued a 

decree to all the peoples of the East, announcing that 

they had entered into a league of friendship with the 

Jews. It is not likely that this resolution of the 

Senate came into the hands of Demetrius, for at this 

period he was taken prisoner by the Parthians, who 




‘ I Mace. xL 54, s^. 


” Ibid., xiv. 41. For the different meanings attached to the 

phrase, ” till a faithful prophet should arise,” see Graetz, iii. 65 ; Reuss, 

“La Bible, Lit., polit. et polem.,” 118, note 5 ; Lucius, ” Der 

Essenismus,” 87, s^. 






were steadily pressing westwards, and absorbing the 

Syrian possessions beyond the Euphrates.’ 


Demetrius was succeeded by his brother Antiochus 

VII. (B.C. 141-131), a man of character and ability, 

who finally disposed of the pretender Trypho, and 

quickly made himself undisputed master of Syria. 

Antiochus was the last Syrian king who displayed 

capacity on the throne, and during his reign the 

Maccabaean princes had to submit to a curtailment of 

their authority. As long as Antiochus was engaged 

in fighting Trypho, he maintained a very friendly 

attitude towards Simon, but when this pretender was 

disposed of, the king altered his demeanour and 

demanded possession of the citadel of Jerusalem, the 

coast towns of Joppa and Gazara, together with the 

arrears of tribute which he had formerly consented to 

remit. Simon offered to pay a hundred talents as 

tribute for Joppa and Gazara, but Antiochus was not 

satisfied with this proposal, and sent an army into 

Palestine to enforce his claims in full. Simon was 

too old to take the field in person, but the Syrian 

forces were defeated by his two sons John and Judas 

who commanded the Jews. Simon did not long 

survive this victory; he was basely assassinated by 

Ptolemaeus, one of his sons-in-law, who was plotting 

to obtain the chief power (B.C. 135).^ 


Simon’s son, John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-105), now 

became head of the state. He soon disposed of 


* It is probably to this alliance that Justin (xxxvi. 3) refers : ** A 

Demetrioquum descivissent, amicitia Romanorum petita, primi omnium 

ex Orientalibus libertatem recepenmt, facile tunc Romanis de alieno 

largientibus.” ‘ I Mace. xvi. 16, j/. 






Ptolemaeus and his pretensions, but Antiochus was a 

far more formidable difficulty ; he had no thought of 

abandoning his claims on the Jews because one of 

his commanders had been defeated in attempting to 

enforce them. Conducting a second campaign into 

Judaea in person, Antiochus compelled the Jews to 

seek shelter within the walls of Jerusalem, which he 

besieged. After a time hunger forced the brave 

defenders to sue for terms. As a result of the 

negotiations, the Jews had to surrender their arms, 

to give hostages, and five hundred talents in money, 

in order to be spared the presence of a Syrian 

garrison at Jerusalem. They had also to pay an 

annual tribute for Joppa and Gazara, and for some 

other places under Jewish rule, which were reckoned 

by Antiochus as a part of Syria (RC. 134).^ 


Hyrcanus, however, was determined at the first 

opportunity to set aside the arrangements which 

necessity had forced upon the Jews. With this object 

he sent three ambassadors to Rome, after the death of 

Antiochus (b.C. 129), to renew the treaty of friendship 

which had existed between the Romans and his 

predecessors, and to complain of the Syrians for 

depriving him of places, which the Senate had 

formerly acknowledged as Jewish territory. In 

accordance with the settled principles of Roman 

policy in the East, the Jewish mission was received 

in a very friendly manner, their grievances were 

attentively heard, and a decree was issued, ordering 

the Syrians to relinquish their claims to tribute, 

and declaring void whatever Antiochus had done in 


‘ Joscphus, ** Ant.,” xiii. 8, I, sf. 











176-164^ B.C. 











Scale 1:4.000.000 






Judsea in opposition to previous declarations of the 

Senate.’ Whether the Syrians obeyed or disregarded 

the injunctions of the Senate is not known. In any 

case, the Jews had not long to wait for the restoration 

of what they had lost The prolonged disorders 

which followed the death of Antiochus, enabled John 

Hyrcanus not only to resume his old position, but 

also to add Idumaea and Samaria to his dominions. 


After the subjugation of these two provinces, John 

endeavoured to settle some parts of Samaria with 

Idumxan colonists. But the Samaritans resisted this 

line of action, and sought assistance from Antiochus 

Cyzikenus (B.C 113), who was then king of what still 

remained of Syria Antiochus responded to the call 

of the Samaritans, and, invading Judaea, captured 

some towns along the coast, of which Joppa was one. 

These coast towns had been specially recognized by 

the Romans as parts of Jewish territory, and John 

sent ambassadors to the Senate to complain of 

Antiochus. The Senators accordingly issued a fresh 

decree,^ ordering the Syrian garrisons to retire, and 

likewise forbidding Antiochus to molest the allies of 

Rome. But the progress of events showed that it 

was no longer necessary for the Jews to lean on 

Roman support in their contest with the decaying 


Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiii. 9. 2, s^. 


In the Decretum Pergamenorum Josephus (“Ant./* xiv. 10.. 22) 

places this embassy in the time of Hyrcanus II. This is obviously a 

mistake ; the internal evidence makes it clear that the provisions of the 

treaty were directed against Antiochus Cyzikenus, who is distinctly 

referred to as ** the son of Antiochus.” ‘ESoyfiari(Kv r; ffvyrXijrog vepi 

mv iirooftravro rove \6yovg owwg fiti^kv aSucy ‘AvrioxoQ 6 BaciXeitc 

‘Ayrioxov vtbc ^loviaiovt avfifidxov^ ‘Pufia/wv, k.t,\» 






Syrian power. The forces of Antiochus were 

incapable of holding the field against the Jewish 

prince, and had to withdraw from Palestine. 


The latter part of the reign of John Hyrcanus 

brings us to a period when the Jews had no longer’ 

anything to fear from the hostility of Syria. At 

the close of a fifty years’ conflict, the Jews from being 

little more than a purely religious community had 

again become a nation, and were in possession of the 

ancient boundaries of the promised land. Under 

Hyrcanus they attained as high a pitch of prosperity, 

as in the famous days of David and Solomon. This 

success was due partly to their own heroism, and partly 

to a fortunate conjunction of circumstances. Nothing 

could exceed the bravery of the little community 

in asserting its claims, first to religious and then to 

political liberty. But the admirable qualities dis- 

played in the Maccabaean revolt, would have been 

wasted in the end if the Syrian monarchy had not 

been in a state of embarrassment and decay. At the 

time the Jews began to show symptoms of revolt, and 

during the whole course of the struggle, the Syrians 

were weakened from within by dynastic troubles, and 

from without by the pressure of the Parthians on the 

east, and the Romans on the west. The resources 

of Syria must have been sorely exhausted by the 

interminable civil wars which the different pretenders 

to the throne waged against each other. But in spite 

of these internal troubles, Syria would have ultimately 

proved too strong for the Jews if her power had not 

been undermined by Roman diplomacy, and her 

territory constantly diminished by Parthian invasion. 






At the time the Jews were fighting for their in- 

dependence, the Parthians were making themselves 

masters of the Syrian provinces beyond the 

Euphrates, and the Romans were not only extorting 

a heavy tribute from the Syrian kings, but also 

compelling them to keep such a small army, that the 

monarchy was reduced to a condition approaching 

military impotence.’ It is doubtful if the various 

alliances of the Jews with Rome did much to help 

them forward on the path of independence. Some of 

these supposed alliances rest upon very slender his- 

toncal foundations, and none of them, as far as can 






be seen, were of a very practical character. Roman 

professions of friendship were never backed up by 

Roman arms ; the Senate willingly made use of the 

Jews to effect the destruction of Syria, but it did not 

desire to involve itself in adventures which would 

have necessitated additional conquests in the East. 

This is very probably the reason why Roman inter- 

ference on behalf of the Jews was merely diplomatic 

and never military. 


In the next chapter we shall see the Romans, in 

consequence of an alteration of the balance of power 

Mcmmsen, ii. 56. 






in the Republic, abandon the old policy of abstaining 

from military intervention in Eastern affairs. We 

shall at the same time find the Jews displaying an 

utter lack of capacity to form themselves into a 

homogeneous nationality; we shall also see the two 

parties within the young state — the Pharisees and 

Sadducees — producing such a condition of disorder as 

to lead to Roman interference, and the downfall of 

Jewish independence. 





(RC. 63-41.) 


In the preceding chapter, we have witnessed the 

rise of the Jewish nation from a state of vassalage to 

a position in which it had no longer anything to fear 

from the hostility of Syria, and we now enter upon a 

new era in the history of the relations between the 

Romans and this remarkable people. Whilst the 

jews were fighting the battle of liberty on the hill- 

sides of their native land, the internal structure of 

the old Roman Commonwealth was falling into decay, 

and the power of the Senate or aristocracy was being 

supplanted by the authority of military chiefs, whose 

predominance resulted in the establishment of the 

Empire. The policy adopted by these military 

leaders may be described in contradistinction to the 

policy of the Senate as imperial rather than na- 

tional ; it ted them in the direction of bringing fresh 

territories under the domination of Rome.’ In pro- 

cess of time such a policy would undoubtedly have 

brought the Romans into conflict with the Jews for 

‘ Tacil-B. ” Hist.” ii. 8. 






possession of supremacy in Palestine ; but the advent 

of this inevitable struggle was hastened by the de- 

plorable intestine strife which broke out in the reign 

of John Hyrcanus between the Pharisees and the 

Sadducees. In the succeeding reigns this strife went 

on increasing in bitterness, till the Romans stepped in 

between the rival factions and put an end to their 

fratricidal war. 


In the early days of the war with Syria, it was seen 

that a party existed among the Jews which manifested 

no strong desire for complete independence, but was 

disposed to be quite contented with the old foreign 

domination, after religious liberty had been fought for 

and obtained. But this party does not appear to have 

exercised a preponderating influence on the vast body 

of the people till the contest with the Syrians was 

practically over and the nation had time to direct its 

attention to internal affairs. From the days of Judas 

Maccabaeus, till the closing years of John Hyrcanus’s 

life the party of national independence, headed by 

the Hasmonaeans, held the first place in the councils 

of the nation, and in the affections of the people. 

Its adherents had become the militarj’ leaders, the 

diplomatists, the civil administrators ; in’ short, the 

ruling aristocracy of the country. By the exigencies 

of their position, the members of this party were 

brought into close contact with the civilization of 

Greece, which at this epoch surrounded Palestine on 

all sides. As diplomatists they had to be familiar 

with the Greek language ; as generals who com- 

manded mercenaries, they had to accommodate them- 

selves to Gentile customs ; as governors of districts 






containing a mixed population, tliey had to deal with 

practical afTatrs rrom a wider than a Jewish point of 

view. While remaining conscientiously true to the 

principles of the Law ‘ they did not consider it 

inconsistent with these principles to gratify a taste 

for the refinements and luxuries of Hellenic life, 

and their mental horizon became enlarged under the 

liberalizing influence of Hellenic culture. In addition 

to this, the Sadducees, for this is the party which 

we are now describing, having built up the indepen- 

dence of the country by a policy of prudence and 

diplomacy, endeavoured to uphold its interests and 






security by the same means, and had no hesitation in 

forming alliances with foreign nations for the attain- 

ment of these ends. 


The Sadducees, it will be perceived, were essentially 

a political party, permeated, but still not dominated, 

by Hellenic ideas — a party of which the highest 

aim was to further the greatness and glory of the 

State it had done so much 10 found.” 


Derenbourg, ” Essai siir I’HisIoire ile la Palestine, ” ji. 77, 


” Gimp. Reuss In ” Henog sui sw« Haamonacr”; A. Keville in 


” Revne des deun Mondes,” Sept. 15, 1867, p. 316 s. ; Montel, 154 s. ; 


Schiirer, ” Geschichte des Judischen Volkes im Zeilallei Jesu Christi,” 


M- P- 335- 






On the other hand, the central and absorbing 

thought of the Assidaeans, who had fought side by side 

with the Sadducees in the early days of the insurrec- 

tion, was not the State, but Reh’gion ; and it was the 

same thought which burned within the heart and mind 

of the Pharisees, who were almost the same party ap- 

pearing under another name.’ This party, which was 

composed of the scribes and their disciples, abhorred 

Hellenism as subversive of the Law, and regarded the 

growing material greatness of the State with suspicion, 

fearing lest the teachings of the Synagogue should be 

lost amid the din and stir of political and military life. 

During the reign of John Hyrcanus Pharisaism suc- 

ceeded in becoming a force within the nation, and 

towards the close of his life it began to assume an 

aggressive form, directing its hostility against the 

prince himself, who, although nominally a Pharisee,* 

was in reality the living embodiment of Sadducaism. 


The opposition of the Pharisees to Hyrcanus pro- 

ceeded from causes which would among any people 

but the Jews have led him to be regarded with grati- 

tude and affection. His keen desire to further the 

interests and dignity of his native land, his labours 

for the welfare and prosperity of the population, his 

willingness to introduce arts and sciences which had 

reached a higher development elsewhere than they 

had at home ; all these things because they were 




* J. Wellhausen, **Pharisaer und Sadducaer,” p. 78 s. 


Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 10. 5; Montet, p. 200; and Wellhausen, 

p. 88, attempt to prove, in face of the direct assertion of Josephus, that 

John Hyrcanus was not a Pharij»ee. The utmost that their arguments 

appear to me to prove, is that Hyrcanus was only nominally a Pharisee. 






not immediately concerned with the Law and the 

Traditions, were looked upon with disfavour by the 

Pharisees. It is also probable that they manifested 

a similar hostility to the action of Hyrcanus in form- 

ing alliances with a heathen power like Rome. These 

men saw in him too much of the statesman and too 

little of the High Priest. His secular functions 

appeared to cast his sacred ones too completely into 

the background ; he had far more the aspect of a 

civil than of an ecclesiastical dignitary; hence the 

Pharisees considered that the vital interests of Judaism 

were suflfering in his hands.’ It was for the God of 

Israel and Hh Law, and not for the national existence 

or grandeur that the Pharisees conceived a High Priest 

should principally strive ; but as there did not appear 

to be the least likelihood of Hyrcanus coming round 

to that opinion, the malcontents determined upon 

demanding the separation of the spiritual from the 

temporal power. It was alleged by the Pharisees that 

the Hasmonaean princes had no legitimate right to 

the High Priesthood, and, according to tradition,* 

Eleazar, one of their number, had the boldness to tell 

Hyrcanus to abdicate the pontificate and to content 

himself with the civil government of the people. 

The contention of the Pharisees that the religious 

headship of the community did not belong to the 


‘ Comp. Sieffert art. *’ Saddncaer und Pharisaer” in Herzog, xiii. 

p. 232 ; Montet, 200 s. ; Wellhausen, *’ History of Israel,” Eng. 

trans. 524. 


‘ Josephns, *’ Ant.,** xiti. 10. 5 s. ; Talmud, b. Kiddouschin, 66 a. 

As to the historic value of this tradition, compare Montet, p. 207 ; 

Kuenen, iii. pp. 137-8; Graetz, iii. note 9; Hyrkan’s I. ” Abfall von 

dem Pbarisaerthum,” p. 645. 






Hasmonaeans was historically correct,’ but the lineal 

heirs to this high dignity had probably become extinct. 

In any case it would have been impossible for Hyrca- 

nus to relinquish an office which in the eyes of the 

people invested him with a sacred character, and was 

one of the main sources of his authority. To a man 

of his experience it was manifest that he had to deal 

with a disaffected element in the community, and 

accordingly the Pharisees were expelled from the 

positions. of influence in the kingdom.* Henceforth 

the Sadducees became identified even more closely 

than before with the cause and fortunes of the Has- 

monaeans, whilst the Pharisees fell back exclusively 

on the people for sympathy and support Pleading 

that they were contending for the faith and traditions 

of their fathers against a ruling house, which was 

supported by a party notoriously inclined to foreign 

customs, the Pharisees had no difficulty in arousing 

feelings of hostility among a fanatical population 

against the Hasmonaeans^ and thus preparing the way 

for civil war.3 


It is possible that Hyrcanus intended that after 

his death his successors should make a concession 

to the Pharisees, for he separated the civil from the 

ecclesiastical authority, leaving the kingdom to his 

widow and the High Priesthood to his son Judas 

Aristobulus.4 But this arrangement did not satisfy 


* I Mace xiv. 41. Comp. Reuss, **Litt., pol. et pol.,” p. 118, and 

Wellhausen, ** Hist.” 524. 


» Graelz, iii. p. 129. 3 Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 10. 6. 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 11, “De Bello Jud.,” i. 3. The character 

of Aristobulus as described by Strabo is inconsistent with the atrocities 

ascribed to him by Josephus. Probably Josephus is following an account 






Aristobulus (B.c 105-4) J ^^ accordingly deposed his 

mother, and was the first of his house to assume the 

title of king. This title he used only in the non- 

Jewish part of his dominions,’ but it showed his 

preference for Greek customs, and was sufficient to 

stamp him as a partizan of the Sadducees. His 

partiality for Hellenism was so pronounced that he 

became known by the name Philhellene; yet, after 

conquering the Ituraeans, he retained enough of 

Judaism to compel his new subjects to be circumcised 

— a measure which in the eyes of the Pharisees may 

have atoned for much which they detested in his life. 

His reign of one year was too brief to permit of the 

development of grave discontent on the part of his 

opponents ; it was reserved for his successor to face 

the full force of their hostility. 


Alexander Jannaeus (B.c 104-78) became head of 

the nation after his brother’s death, but he possessed 

very little of the political ability so conspicuously dis- 

played by his predecessors ; he was simply a brutal 

and dissipated soldier constantly involved in war. 

During his reign the Pharisees became the undoubted 

leaders of popular opinion. But Alexander paid no 

heed to this circumstance, and on one occasion while 

performing the duties of High Priest at the Feast of 

Tabernacles, he treated an observance enjoined on the 

High Priest by the Pharisees with deliberate con- 

tempt. Matters of religious ritual have always 


of his life promulgated by the Pharisees to defame the memory of a 

Sadducsean High Priest. Strabo says, ‘Ririfiicffg rt lyiviro 6 avr/pt 

Kill voXXa roiff ‘lowJatoi’c (** Ant.,” xiii. II. 3), XP^’^’A*”?- 


‘ The Hebrew coins of Aristobulus have only the inscription, **The 

High Priest Judas and the Senate of the Jews.** 










exercised a strange power over the emotions of men, 

and when the assembled worshippers in the Temple 

perceived Alexander pouring the libation on the 

ground, in accordance with the Sadducaean custom, in- 

stead of on the altar, their indignation knew no bounds. 

They immediately raised a shout that he was unworthy 

of his high dignity, and at the same time began to pelt 

him with the citrons which they held in their hands.’ 

So great was the tumult that the king would probably 

have been murdered by the enraged populace had not 

the Greek soldiers in his service come to the rescue 

and quelled the disturbance. As many as six 

thousand men fell before the precincts of the Temple 

were cleared. After this bloody work the Pharisees 

became the irreconcilable enemies of Alexander, and 

waited impatiently for the opportunity of heading a 

rebellion against him. 


They had not to wait long. About a year after- 

wards the king lost his army in a campaign against 

the Nabataeans and had to return to Jerusalem, a 

fugitive (B.C. 94). The Pharisees immediately incited 

their adherents to revolt, and for six years a bloody 

war desolated the wretched country. After fifty 

thousand men had perished without leading to any 

decisive result, Alexander desired to come to terms 

with his adversaries. Nothing, however, would satisfy 

them but his death, and to compass this end they 

sought the assistance of their old enemies the 


‘ It was a popular custom to have palm branches and citrons at the 

Feast of Tabernacles (Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiii. 13. 5) The incident is 

mentioned in the Talmud, Succa, 48 b. ; but the High Priest’s name 

is not given. Comp. Derenbourg, p. 98 ; Graetz, iii. note 13, p. 664. 






Syrians. Demetrius I II.* invaded Palestine at the 

head of a powerful force and defeated Alexander 

who fled for refuge to the mountains of Ephraim. 

In this miserable plight he excited the compassion of 

a large body of the people who had thus far been fight- 

ing on behalf of the Pharisees. These men, whose 

patriotic feelings were stronger than their religious 

convictions, went over to the king’s side when they 

saw the Syrians threatening to become once more 

dominant in Palestine. Their action immediately 

changed the whole aspect of the situation ; Demetrius 

had to withdraw his forces, and Alexander again 

obtained the upper hand. The Pharisees, abandoned 

by a portion of their adherents had to flee into exile, 

and those who did not succeed in making their escape 

were crucffied in a most barbarous manner by the 

victorious prince. He was not molested by the 

Pharisees during the remainder of his reign. When 

Tigranes, king of Armenia, overthrew the Syrian 

monarchy (B.C. 83), Alexander, who appears to have 

enjoyed the good-will of the conqueror, was enabled, 

towards the close of a long career,* to enlarge the 

boundaries of his kingdom, which, however, never 

comprised* the whole of Palestine. 


Alexander had two sons, John Hyrcanus and Aris- 

tobulus, but his widow, Salome Alexandra (b.C. 78- 

69), succeeded him on the’ throne, and his elder son 

Hyrcanus was contented with the High Priesthood. 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 13. 4. 


‘ According to a Jewish tradition the Pharisees hated Alexander so 

bitterly that they instituted a festival to commemorate his death as 

a happy event. Megillar Taanit, 21 and 25. Comp. Derenbourg, 

p. lOI. 






Alexandra, a woman of prudence and resolution, re- 

versed the policy of her husband ; ‘ the Pharisees who 

had the ear of the masses were recalled from exile, 

and entrusted with a preponderating voice in the con- 

duct of internal affairs. Under their influence, several 

religious customs and observances were modified to 

suit the ideas of the party ; the marriage laws were 

revised, alterations were made in the law of evidence, 

and greater attention was paid to the education of the 

young.2 Had the Pharisees confined their activity 

within the sphere of legislation, it is possible that the 

hatred engendered during the preceding reign might 

have died away, but, unhappily for the peace of the 

nation, the Pharisees abused their power for the 

purpose of pursuing a policy of revenge. Their op- 

ponents were one after another condemned and put 

to death. The Sadducees took alarm at the fate of 

their companions, and placed them3elves under the 

protection of Aristobulus, the queen’s second son, who 

was ardently attached to their cause. Conducted by 

this prince into the presence of Alexandra, they 

implored her to put an end to the persecutions of the 

dominant party ; at the same time reminding her of 

their past services to the State, and expressing their 

willingness to accept command of the fortresses if 


* Josephus (“Ant.,” xiii. 15. 5) states that Alexandra was advised 

by Alexander when on his death-bed to ally herself with the Pharisees. 

But the Talmud (Sota, 22 b.) gives a very different version of his last 

counsels, and one more in accordance with the character of the man. 

*• Fear,” said he, ** neither the true Pharisees nor their open opponents, 

but be on your guard against the hypocrites of both parties” (Montet, 


p. 277). 


* Derenbouig, “Essai,” p. 103 flf. ; Graetz, iii. 153 ff. 






their presence was not desired in Jerusalem. The 

queen, probably grown weary of the yoke of the 

Pharisees,* acceded to the request of her petitioners ; 

the military strength of the kingdom was delivered 

over to the Sadducees, who had now simply to bide 

their time in order to regain their lost authority. 

Aristobulus, a man of enterprise and ambition, was 

their leader ; his brother, the weak and passive Hyr- 

canus, was a tool in the hands of the Pharisees, and 

when Salome was seized with a mortal illness Aris- 

tobulus, aided by the military chiefs, overthrew his 

brother and became king (B.C. 69). 


Under the sovereignty of Aristobulus (B.C. 69-63), 

the strife of parties brought the era of Jewish inde- 

pendence to a close, and made the Romans- masters 

of the Holy Land. It is very probable that the bitter 

feud between the Pharisees and the Sadducees would 

have resulted much sooner in the establishment of 

foreign supremacy, if a strong Power had then existed 

in Western Asia, or if the Roman Commonwealth had 

not been in a state of permanent revolution, which 

compelled her ambitious spirits to fix their eyes upon 

affairs at home. From the commencement of the 

reign of John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135) till the revolt of 

the Asiatic provinces (b.c. 88), under the leadership 

of Mithridates, king of Pontus, the Romans had almost 

entirely neglected Oriental politics. But the loss of 

their possessions in the East aroused the patriotism 

of the hostile factions at the capital, and a Roman 

army, led by the genius of Sulla, proceeded to the 


* C/, Josephus, “Ant.,” 16. 2. ^Hpi/iei ft rf X'”P^ iraoa vape^ rSfp 

^piaaiiMtv. OvTOt ydp kTrirdparj op rrjv jiaaiXuroav, 






scene of the revolt. Sulla quelled the insurrection, 

and Mithridates had to beg humbly for peace.’ But 

the restless ambition of Mithridates, as well as the 

Roman method of not only conquering but utterly 

annihilating a formidable enemy, led to a renewal of 

the war, which was waged with varying fortune on 

both sides till Pompey,’ a former lieutenant of Sulla’s, 

after being invested with unlimited powers, arrived 

on the scene of conflict with a large army (B.C. 66). 

Having disposed of his adversary, Pompey boldly 

decided on extending the Roman frontier to the 

banks of the Euphrates.3 This decision involved 

the subjugation of Palestine, but its absorption into 

the vast empire would have taken a different, and 

f>erhaps a less bloody form, if, amid their party 

animosities, a common basis of patriotism had 

existed among the Jews. 


Whilst Pompey was engaged in putting a termina- 

tion to the resistance of Mithridates, civil war broke 

out afresh in Palestine (b.c. 66j. Antipater,4 an 


‘ Mommsen, vol. vl chap, viii., ** Der Osten und Koenig Mithridates.” 


‘ For political position of Pompey at this period </. Champogny, 

” Les Cesars,” vol. i. p. 53. 


3 Duniy, ” Histoire,” vol. ii. p. 313. 


< A ntipater’s father, Antipas, was governor of Idumaea under Alexander 

Jannseus, and Antipater himself held the same dignity. It is difficult to 

trace with certainty the origin of the Herodians. We must dismiss the 

statements of Nicolaus Damascenus (Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiv. i. 3), who 

derives their descent from Babylonian Jews. This fiction was no doubt 

invented by the court historian to reconcile the people to Herod’s rule. 

Christian tradition places the origin of the family at Ascalon, and this 

is probably the correct account (cf, Justin Martyr, “Dialogus,” 52). 

Sulpicius Severus (“Chron.” ii. 27) says: ** Herodes alienigena, Anti- 

patri Ascalonitse filius, regnum Judoeae a senatu et populo Romano 







Idumaean of political ability, and father of Herod the 

Great, had obtained supreme influence over the feeble- 

minded Hyrcanus, whom he induced to offer con- 

cessions of territory to Aretas, king of the Nabataeans, 

in return for a promise of assistance to dethrone his 

brother Aristobulus. Aretas entered into the com- 

pact, and Hyrcanus fled with Antipater to the court 

of his ally at Petra. A Nabataean army invaded 

Palestine ; the Pharisees, regardless of national inde- 

pendence, assisted the invaders, and Aristobulus, 

unable to keep the field, was besieged in Jerusalem. 

Whilst the Jews were destroying one another around 

the walls of the Holy City, Pompey*s lieutenants were 

making themselves masters of Syria, and one of them, 

Marcus Scaurus, entered Judaea for the double pur- 

pose of enriching himself and effecting the pacifica- 

tion of the country. Both the contending princes laid 

their claims before the Roman general, who, from 

reasons of policy as well as motives of self-interest, 

decided in favour of Aristobulus. So great was the 

awe inspired by the Roman name that a word from 

Scaurus compelled the Pharisees and Nabataeans to 

raise the siege, and for two years longer Aristobulus 

was permitted to reign in peace (B.C. 65-63). 


The arrangements made by Scaurus in Palestine 

were only provisional. When Pompey arrived at 

Damascus (B.C. 64),^ he took into his own hands the 

re-organization of the immense territories lying be- 

tween the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, which 

were now at the disposal of Rome. As long as the 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant,” xiv. 3. i. 






supreme direction of affairs was controlled by the 

Senate, the object of Roman policy was not to gain 

[x>ssession of the East, but to break up its political 

unity. A different attitude was adopted with regard 

to foreign affairs, when the leaders of the democracy 

became the real heads of the Republic (RC. 70). • Un- 

like the oligarchy of the Senate, the chiefs of the 

democratic party did not consider external possessions 

as a necessary evil, only to be endured as helping to 

fill the coffers of the State ; nor were they afraid of 

the effects upon the Roman character of a closer 

contact with the Hellenic communities of the East. 

When, therefore, Pompey began the task of restoring 

order and authority among the chaotic elements with 

which he had to deal, he discarded the old policy of 

the Senate, and reverted as far as possible to the 

organization which existed in Syria in the best epoch 

of the Seleucidae. The power formerly exercised by 

these monarchs he determined to put into the strong 

hands of a Roman proconsul. This decision necessi- 

tated the downfall of Jewish liberty ; for Judaea in 

the eyes of the Romans was nothing more than a 

province of Syria which had been temporarily success- 

ful in asserting its independence.’ 


Meanwhile deputations reached Pompey from the 

Jewish princes and people, and finally Hyrcanus and 

Aristobulus arrived at Damascus to urge the merits 

of their respective claims. But the mighty Roman 


‘ Cf. Mommsen, vol. iii. pp. 220-23. Mommsen thus characterizes 

the fundamental principles of Roman democratic policy in external 

affairs : ‘* Das Machtgebiet Roms, so weit es hellenisch war, zu reuniren, 

so weit es nicht hellenisch war, zu colonisiren ” (iii. 221). 






did not choose to disclose his plans until he had chas- 

tised the Nabatsans. Aristobulus, putting a sinister 

interpretation upon his delay, showed signs of hos- 

tility, whereupon Pompey was offended, and forthwith 

made his legions ready for the invasion of Palestine. 

As the Roman troops were advancing, the unfortunate 

Aristobulus, trembling between hope and fear, alter- 

nately negotiated, hesitated, or made preparations for 

defence, till the Romans came within sight of Jeru- 

salem. He then gave himself up, and promised to 

place the Holy City in their hands. But the brave 

and patriotic Sadducees who composed the garrison 

refused to admit the Roman officers ; they destroyed 

the bridge which united Mount Zion with Mount 

Moriah, and, withdrawing within the fortifications of 

the Temple Mount, resolved to fight to the last for 

the liberties of their native land. The Pharisees 

surrendered the city itself, but for three months the 

soldiers of Aristobulus defied the utmost efforts of the 

Roman general, who would have been compelled to 

prolong the siege for an indefinite period, if the de- 

fenders had not put such a rigorous interpretation 

upon the law forbidding work on the Sabbath day. 

The Romans soon learned to take advantage of this 

extravagant literalism. On a Sabbath in the month 

of June, B.C. 63, a breach was effected in the walls, the 

Temple hill was carried after fearful slaughter by 

assault, and the Jewish people lay at the mercy of the 

conqueror.’ Pompey and his officers had the curiosity 

to enter the Holy of Holies,^ which had never before 


‘ Josephus, **Ant.,” lib. xiv. cap. iv. 


” Cf, livius, epit. cii. ” Cn. Pompeius Judaeos subegit, fanum eorum 






been seen by Western eyes. From motives of policy 

he immediately restored the Temple ceremonial, and 

for a similar reason abstained from plundering the 

sacred treasury.’ 


In the so-called Psalms of Solomon » we possess a 

poetic account of the impression produced on a large 

section of the people by these terrible events. “A 

powerful smiter,” says the Psalmist, ” has God brought 

from the ends of the earth. He decreed war upon 

Jerusalem and upon the land. The princes of the 

land went out with joy to meet him, and said to him, 

Blessed be thy way, draw near, and enter in peace. 

. . . He entered the house of his children in peace 

like a father, standing in all safety. He took posses- 

sion of the strong places in the land, and of the walls 


in Hierosolyma inviolatum ad id tempus cepit.” Tacitus, ” Hist.” v. 9, 

*’ Romanonim primus Cn. Pompeius Judaeos domuit templumque jure 

victorire ingressus est.” 


‘ Cicero, ” Pro Flacco,” 28. 


” Critics are now agreed that Ewald (* * Geschichte des Volkes Israel,” 

iv. p. 329) is in error when he places the composition of the Psalms 

of Solomon shortly afker the plundering of Jerusalem by Antiochus 

Epiphanes (b.c. 170). Dillmann, who accepted Ewald’s hypothesis in 

the first edition of ** Herzog,” has almndoned it in the second (see his 

article, ” Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments,” xii. p. 346), and 

now follows the general opinion that the Psalms were written soon after 

the siege of Jerusalem (b.c. 63). Psalms ii., viii., and xviL clearly 

point to this conclusion, and Psalm ii. 30 sq. makes a distinct reference 

to the manner in which Pompey afterwards met his death : Ka\ ovk 

kxpoviffOf ittic t<^€i{l ftot 6 Oeiii r^v ^ppiv avrov iKKfKeprrjftivrjv ivi tuv 

bfHfov Atyimrov, vv* tkaxiffrou i^ovievutftivov iri yrjc Kal OaXdaaric to 

a&iia ivTOVf dut^Oapfisvov iirt KVfiaTuv iv vppEi iroWy, xai ovk fiv o 

Odirnay. Compare with this account, Dio Cassius, xlii. 3. 4 ; Plutarch, 

** Pompeius,” 80. 1,2. As to the exact date of these Psalms, Hilgen- 

feld (** Messias Judaeorum,” Prolegomena, p. xvi) says : ‘* Equidem 

mediam fere viam ingressus statim post Pompeium occisum (a. 48 a. 

Chr. ) hos psalmos esse censeo. ” 




THE psalmist’s LAMENTATION. 39 


of Jerusalem, and while they went astray, God led 

him in security. He destroyed the chief men and all 

who were wise in council. He spilt the blood of the 

inhabitants of Jerusalem like unclean water. He led 

away their sons and daughters because they were be- 

gotten in iniquity. They did according to the iniquity 

of their fathers ; they defiled Jerusalem and the things 

dedicated to the name of God.” ‘ 


From these and similar expressions of the Psalmist, 

we can gather that the bloody chastisement which the 

Jews had at this period to endure was regarded by 

the spiritual guides of the people as proceeding from 

the hand of God, the Romans being considered as 

the instruments for carrying His vengeance into effect. 

In the eyes of the writer, the Hasmonaeans are 

punished for assuming the royal dignity when it had 

not been promised them, and the people are also 

punished for condoning the transgressions of their 

princes, and falling with them into sin.« Pompey’s 

labours were lightened by the existence of these senti- 

ments among a large body of the population, and 

more especially when he began to take into conside- 

ration the re-establishment of some settled form of 

government, which would satisfy the Jews, and at 

the same time prove amenable to the will of Rome. 


When at Damascus, Pompeyhad received a depu- 

tations from Judaea, which made representations to 


* Psa. viii. 16-26. For the Greek text of these Psalms see Hilgen- 

feld, ” Messias Judoeonim.” 


* Cf. passim f Psalms of Solomon, ii., viii., xvii. 


3 Josephus, “Ant.,” xiv. 3. 2. Graetz (iii. p. 176) siipjK)ses that 

this deputation was composed of members of a republican jxirty, which 

the civil war had caused to spring up in Judsea. It would be more in 






him to the effect that the Hasmonaean princes had 

changed the form of government under which their 

ancestors had lived, and desiring him to restore the 

order of things that had formerly existed in the land. 

These suggestions fell in with Pompey’s projected 

arrangements, and he proceeded to act upon them 

after resistance before Jerusalem was at an end. 

Aristobulus was deposed, and taken with his children 

to Rome to adorn the triumph of the conqueror 

(B.C. 6i) ; the kingship, after an existence of little 

more than forty years, was abolished, and the Jews 

were stripped of all the territories (with the exception 

of Idumaea) which they had acquired by conquest in 

the era of their independence. In this way Samaria, 

the commercial cities along the Mediterranean coast, 

the Decapolis in the north-east of Palestine, and many 

Hellenic communities on the eastern banks of the 

Jordan, were liberated from a yoke which they de- 

tested,” and which at times forced Judaism upon them 

at the point of the sword. By the inhabitants of these 

places Pompey was looked upon in the light of a 

deliverer. The self-government which they had 

formerly enjoyed he, according to Roman custom, 

restored to them ; and the rule of the Roman pro- 

consul was mild and beneficent when contrasted with 

the despotism of the Jewish kings. Judsa itself was 

placed under the authority of the Roman governor of 

Syria, who, with two legions at his command, was 


accordance with the text of Josephus to call them a Hierocratic party, 

for it was evidently their wish to see the State once more under the same 

rule as existed before the Maccalxean revolt. Jldrpiov yap livai toIq 

Uptuiti Tov Tifito fiivov trap avruJ^ Oeov Tr€i0apj(ttv» 

* C/. Schiircr, ” Geschichte,” ii. 54. 






responsible for the peace and order of the newly- 

acquired territories. The Jews had now to pay tribute 

to Rome in the same way as they had previously done 

to Syria ; but they were freely permitted to manage 

their own internal affairs, and to live in accordance 

with their own laws. As a reward for his fidelity to 

Roman interests, Hyrcanus was reinstated as High 

Priest, receiving at the same time the civic title of 

Ethnarch, a name by which his predecessors had been 

known before they assumed the prouder dignity of 



In estimating Pompey*s conduct it must be borne 

in mind that, if his arrangements pressed severely on 

Jewish pride, they were on the whole a blessing to the 

peoples of the East, who were rescued from chaos 

and instability, and enabled, after years of anarchy, 

to enjoy the fruits of peace.» High above the petty 

princes with which Syria was filled there now stood the 

Roman governor to keep them all in awe ; complete 

liberty within their own dominions was freely accorded 

them, but they were now effectually restrained from 

preying on their weaker neighbours. These princes 

became in reality Roman procurators, responsible to 

the proconsul for the just exercise of their powers. 3 

With the advent of peace, ruined cities were restored 

and re-populated; communities which had groaned 

under the yoke of petty despots were allowed to man- 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant,” xiv. 4. 4-5 ; ” Bell. Jud.”L 7. 6-7 ; c/. Mommsen, 

iii. 145 ; Marquardt, ” Romische Staatsverwaltung,” i. 405. 


‘ For Roman administration in Syria, c/. E. Kuhn, ** Die stadtische 

und burgerliche Verfassungdes romischen Reichs,”ii. 161 ff. ; Marquardt, 

” Romische Staatsvervvaltung,” i. p. 392. 


3 Tacitus (Agricola, c. xiv^ calls these princes, Instrumenta servitutis. 






age their own affairs; commerce couKi now take a 

wider sweep ; the facilities for human intercourse 

were vastly enlarged ; and civilization in those regions 

was enabled to extend its influence and blossom forth 

in higher forms. Even in the case of the Jews, if 

Pompey destroyed the ideal boundaries of the Holy 

Land, this was done simply because a Gentile element 

predominated’ outside the borders of Judaea; in 

fact he was only restoring to the population of these 

districts, the liberty of which they had lately been 

deprived. Nevertheless he permitted the Jews to 

retain complete possession of their own territory, that 

is to say, the territory which they inhabited after the 

return from Babylon, a period which must be con- 

sidered as a fresh starting-point in their national 

career. It is true he made the Ethnarch Hyrcanus 

a tributary prince, a proceeding which deprived the 

people of their liberty. Still it was plainly impossible 

for Pompey to allow an aggressive power, as the Jews 

had shown themselves to be, to exist with independ- 

ence in the very heart of acquisitions which he had 

just placed under the protection of Rome. 


It was not however to be expected that the Jewish 

patriots would look at the situation from this point of 

view, and accordingly we find Alexander, a son of the 

dethroned Aristobulus, a few years after Pompey’s 

departure, rallying his dejected countrymen, and 

taking the field against the Romans at the head of 

more than ten thousand men. At this period Gabinius^ 


‘ Gentiles formed the majority in most of the towns, and it was thff 

towns of which the Romans took account. 


‘ After Pompey’s departure, Scaurus(B.c. 63-61) ruled Syria with the 

title of Quaestor pro prsetore. Then followed in succession as Propraetors, 






(rc. 57-SS) was at the head of affairs in Syria, and as 

Hyrcanus was unable to put down the insurrection, 

the proconsul entered Judaea and utterly defeated 

Alexander, who afterwards fell into his hands. At 

the close of the revolt, Gabinius made some alterations 

in the government of the country. Hyrcanus was 

deprived of temporal power and confined to his 

spiritual functions The country was also divided 

into five districts, each district being ruled by a 

separate council, composed of the leading citizens, 

who were responsible to the proconsul. Many towns 

which the Jews had destroyed were re-built and re- 

populated, amongthem being Samaria and Scythopolis, 

the latter of which afterwards became the most im- 

portant place in Galilee.’ By filling the country with 

a non-Jewish population, and by creating local centres 

of administration entirely independent of one another, 

Gabinius hoped to produce provincial rivalries, and 

to destroy the desire for political unity and indepen- 



Before the arrangements of Gabinius had time to 

produce any practical results, Aristobulus escaped 

from Rome, and headed a fresh revolt (B.C. 56). But 

his raw levies were unable to withstand the disciplined 

bravery of the legions, and in spite of heroic efforts on 

his part the insurrection was crushed, and he had 

once more to go back into captivity. Nothing daunted 

by his father’s ill-success, Alexander his son, resolved 

a second time to try the arbitrament of war (B.C. 55). 


L. Marcius Philippus and Lentulus Marcellinus (b.c. 61-58), and after- 

wards Gabinius as proconsul with an army {c/. Marquardt, i 415). 

‘ Josephus, *’ Ant.,” xiv. 5. 2 ; ” Bell. Jud.,” i. 8. 2. 






Gabinius was engaged in an expedition against Egypt, 

Syria was in consequence depleted of troops, and the 

Jewish army was assisting the Romans as auxih’aries. 

Alexander conceived that a favourable moment had 

arrived to strike another blow for freedom, but his 

hopes were quickly shattered, for Antipater succeeded 

in persuading many adherents of the prince to desert 

him, and Gabinius on his arrival in Palestine defeated 

and dispersed the rest. In the Egyptian campaign 

Antipater had been of the utmost service to the 

Romans. By him the expedition was provisioned 

and fitted out ; through his instrumentality, the roads 

were left open, so that the invaders had no hostile 

manifestations to encounter on the march.* It was 

in all probability as a reward for these signal services, 

that Gabinius, after the restoration of peace, arranged 

the affairs of Palestine in accordance with the views 

of Antipater, who had now become the virtual ruler of 

the land. These arrangements restored Hyrcanus, 

or rather his wily minister Antipater, to the most im- 

portant position in Southern Syria.* 


Whilst these events were transpiring in Palestine, 

three of the most powerful Roman citizens, Caisar, 

Pompey, and Crassus, renewed an agreement known 

as the Triumvirate (B.C. 56), the eflfects of which 

were shortly afterwards felt throughout the whole 

of Western Asia. No power was left standing 

capable of resisting the united action of these three 

men, who accordingly assumed supreme control of 


« Josephus, “Ant.,” xiv. 6 ; ” Bell. Jud.,” i. 8. 6-7. 

» C/. Mommsen, v. p. 500, ‘* Die Provinzen von Cxsat bis Diocle- 







the Republic, and selected the most distinguished 

positions for themselves and their adherents. Each 

of them inwardly cherished the vast ambition of 

becoming one day undisputed master of the State. 

Crassus, who far outstripped his colleagues in riches, 

wished also to rival them in military achievements, and 

be the first to grasp the dignity they all were plotting 

to obtain. Caesar was already occupied in subduing the 

West, and in that region there were no more laurels 

to be won, but mighty kingdoms in the East were 

still unconquered ; and the recent outbreak of the 

Parthian war offered Crassus an opportunity, admi- 

rably suited to his present purposes and ulterior 

designs. In his eagerness to reach the scene of 

action, Crassus proceeded to the East before the 

expiration of his consulate, and taking over the 

government of Syria (B.C. 55-53) from Gabinius, entered 

with a light heart on an expedition against the 

Parthians, which prov.^d fatal to his reputation and 

his life. Before crossing the Euphrates the proconsul 

took no pains to leave a contented people behind him 

on whose good-will the Romans could rely. What 

Pompey had possessed the wisdom to spare, his avarice 

was unable to resist The Temple of Jerusalem was 

plundered in violation of his oath,^ producing bitter 

feelings of resentment against the Romans, who soon 

afterwards experienced the evil effects of Crassus* 

greed. In the arid wastes of Mesopotamia he was 

defeated and slain. His brave lieutenant Cassius led 

back the remnants of the shattered legions to Syria. 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xiv. 7. i ; “Bell. Jud.,” i. 8. 8. 






The Jews smarting under a sense of injustice rose 

once more to revolt, and endeavoured to co-operate 

with the victorious Parthians who were bent on driving 

the Romans out of Asia. Never did the Jews obtain 

a more favourable moment for asserting their right 

to independence, for the Roman forces in Syria under 

the command of Cassius (B.C. 52-51) did not now 

exceed ten thousand men, and the impending hos- 

tilities between Caesar and Pompey prevented him 

from being reinforced with troops from Italy. But 

even in these circumstances the fortune of war declared 

itself against them ; and Cassius after suppressing the 

insurrection sold thirty thousand Jewish warriors in 

the slave market, and at the suggestion of Antipater 

executed the leader of the rebels (B.C. 52J.’ 


Whilst the Jews were vainly attempting to deter- 

mine the form of rule in Palestine, a vaster question 

involving not only the political future of this princi- 

pality, but of the whole civilized world as well was 

rapidly approaching a solution at Rome. The death 

of Crassus put an end to the triumvirate ; the ties of 

family — the only ones which bound together the dis- 

similar characters of Caesar and Pompey — were broken 

by the death of Pompey*s wife, Caesar’s daughter 

Julia,^ and Pompey was now anxious to settle their 

conflicting claims to the empire by an appeal to 

the sword. Caesar did not fear this ultimate appeal, 

still he did not desire it.^ Pompey and the aristo- 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant.,” xiv. 7. 3 ; *’ Bell. Jud.,” i. 8. 9. C/. Plutarch. 

Duruy, ” Ilistoire des Komains,” ii. 423 ff. 


» Plutarch, ” Caesar,” 23 ; Velleius, iii. 47. 


3 ** Pompeius cupere bellum, Caesarem non tarn cupcre quam non 

timere” (Cicero, ” Kam.,” ix. 6). 






crats, however, left him no choice. By the violence of 

their measures they forced on a rupture and the great 

civil war began. It is said that Cnesar before crossing 

the boundaries of his province hesitated when he 

reflected on the miseries ihe uar would cause, and the 

judgment posterity would pass upon his act.’ At 

last hesitation gave way before resolve, and turning 

to his friends he is reported to have said, ** Let us go 

whither we are called by the presages of the gods 

and the iniquity of our enemies. The die is cast.*’* 


At the head of only five thousand men and three 

hundred horse he marched with startling rapidity 

upon the capital. Pompey and the aristocratic party 

fled from Rome in consternation, and crossed the 

Adriatic into Macedonia. In sixty days Caesar with- 

out shedding a drop of blood was master of the 

whole of Italy. Immediately afterwards he set out 

for Spain, the centre of Pompey’s strength ” I go,” 

he said, describing his tactics, ” against an army with- 

out a general ; afterwards I shall proceed against a 

general without an army.” Spain, after a brilliant 

campaign, was subdued in forty days. Caesar then 

transported his legions into Greece, and after many 

vicissitudes completely overthrew his rival in the plains 

of Pharsalia (B.C. 48). 3 Pompey fled from the field of 

battle and sailed for Egypt, but on landing he was 

basely assassinated by order of the Egyptian king.4 


‘ Plutarch, ** Caesar,” 32. 


‘ Suetonius (“Julius Ca-sar,” 32) states that a prodigy preceded and 

determined Caesar’s resolution. 


3 C/. Suetonius, ” Caesar,” 34-35 ; Plutarch, ” Caesar,” 33 ft ; Dio 

Cassius, xli. 36 ff. 


* For the death of Pompey, see the touching account of Plutarch 

(“Pompeius,” 77). 






Caesar, at the head of a small force, arrived in Alex- 

andria, in pursuit of his vanquished foe ; but on his 

arrival he learned that Pompey the Great was dead. 


Whilst Caesar was at Alexandria, the Jews, under 

Antipater, were able to perform a signal service for him 

at one of the most critical moments of his military 

career. When the ministers of the Egyptian king 

saw that he was in command of a little more than 

three thousand troops, they attacked him with a large 

army, aided by the mob of Alexandria, Caesar was 

compelled to burn his ships, and was ultimately 

blockaded in one quarter of the city both by land 

and sea. His position was fast becoming desperate, 

when a miscellaneous army from the principalities of 

Syria succeeded in forcing its way to his assistance. 

By far the most important personage in this army 

was Antipater, whose contingent of three thousand 

men gave stability to the whole. He also procured 

help from the Arab tribes along the line of march, 

and it was by his efforts that the large Jewish colony 

at Alexandria was induced to come to Caesar’s aid. 

But Antipater was more than a clever diplomatist ; in 

this campaign he displayed conspicuous gallantry in 

the field. He was the first to storm the walls of 

jPeluNium, and it was he who, turning the tide of 

battle outside Alexandria, enabled Caesar to effect a 

junction with the relieving force, a movement whicli 

resulted in the utter discomfiture of the Egyptians ^ 

(B.C 47). 


Caesar at the commencement of the war against 


« Josephus, *’ Ant.,” xiv. 8. 1-2 ; •* De BelL Jud.,” i. 9. 3. 






Pompey released Aristobulus, who was a prisoner at 

Rome, and appointed him to the command of two 

legions, with instructions to proceed to Syria, and 

create a diversion in favour of his patron. But the 

unfortunate prince was poisoned by Pompey’s party, 

and his son Alexander beheaded about the same 

time. Antigonus, his younger son, after victory had 

declared itself for Caesar, laid the claims of his house 

before the conqueror ; but the recent services of 

Hyrcanus and Antipater outweighed the pleas of 

Antigonus, who had to retire into obscurity and wait 

for better times. Caesar, when settling the affairs of 

the East, willingly overlooked the circumstance that 

the Jews had in the first instance sided with his oppo- 

nent He placed them in the most favoured position 

which any community subject to Rome could hold.’ 

The land was freed from the tribute imposed upon it 

by Pompey ; the Roman garrisons were withdrawn, and 

the population exempted from military service in the 

legions. Religious liberty was assured to the Jews 

both in Palestine and throughout the East. At home 

they were permitted to live in accordance with their 

own laws, and could only be judged by their own 

tribunals. The power of self-government was granted 

them, which made them masters of their internal 

affairs. The walls of Jerusalem, which Pompey had 

destroyed, they were allowed to rebuild ; the impor- 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xiv. la 2 ff. The text of Josephus is here very 

corrupt. C/, Mendelssohn’s article on the decrees of the Senate recorded 

by Josephus in Ritschers *’ Acta societatis philologse Lipsiensis,’* v. p. 

198 ff. See also Mommsen’s note, “Fiinfter Band,” p. 501, in which 

he says, ** In dem Decret Cresars bei Josephus, xiv. 10. 5, 6, ist die aus 

Epiphanius sich ergebende Lcsung die einzig mc^liche.” 






tant seaport of Joppa was restored to them, as well 

as all the places along the coast which had not been 

acquired by conquest Hyrcanus was elevated to 

senatorial rank, and the ethnarchy made heredi- 

tary in his family. Antipater received his share of 

honour by being made a Roman citizen, and granted 

immunity from taxation.’ Caesar did not make him 

a Roman official^^as some have supposed, but he con- 

firmed the astute Idumaean in the position of Prime 

Minister to Hyrcanus. Owing to the weakness of his 

master’s character, this position invested him with 

supreme power in the State, Hyrcanus being little 

more than a tool in his hands (B.C. 47). 


During the remainder of his life Antipater adopted 

the only policy possible to a protected State — a policy 

which consisted in attempting to make the Jews con- 

tented with their position as an autonomous people 

within the vast empire of which Caesar had become 

the chief. In the political condition of the world at 

that period, not to speak of the irreconcilable divisions 

among the Jews themselves, the independence of 

Judaea was utterly impracticable, and it would have 

spared the unfortunate population much bloodshed 

and misery if the Jewish aristocracy had quietly 

accepted the altered order of things. But these men, 

jealous of Antipater’s influence and power, did their 

utmost to hamper him in his efforts to pacify the 


* For the political position of protected states cf. Kuhn, ii. 14-41 ; 

Marquardt, i. 69-80. 


• Canon Westcott (Art. Herod in Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible “) 

following Ewald, iv. 529, falls into the mistake of supposing that Antipater 

was made a Roman procurator by Csesar. Mommsen, v. 5cx>, note i, 

clearly shows that this was not the case. 






country. In order to cripple the father they assailed 

his son Herod,’ a young man of twenty-five, who 

had just earned the gratitude of the peaceable in- 

habitants of Northern Palestine, and the goodwill 

of the Syrian proconsul by dispersing the robber 

bands of Galilee and executing their chiefs. As 

this latter measure was taken without authority 

from Jerusalem, he was summoned before the aristo- 

crats of the Sanhedrin, who possessed sufficient 

influence to secure his banishment. But Herod was 

not a man to be easily crushed. He withdrew to 

Damascus, entered the Roman army, and was ap- 

pointed by Sextus Caesar (B.C. 47-46) military governor 

of Coelo-Syria. In this new and important office he 

was able to overawe the opponents of his family, and 

to strengthen his father’s hands in Jerusalem. 


Roman politics were now as important to the Jewish 

people as the course of events within their own 

borders, and the vicissitudes of parties at the imperial 

capital were distinctly felt in the remotest provinces 

of the East Caesar was not satisfied with exercising 

the authority of a king, he had the weakness to desire 

the name as well. It was a weakness which scaled 

his fate The old Republic was no doubt dead, but 

republican forms were still deeply rooted in the heart 

of the aristocracy. A plot was laid against his life 

by a band of senators, and on the Ides of March 


* In Josephus, ” Ant.,” xiv. 9. 2, where the manuscript has Jtkvn rat 

SUa ; Dindorf reads ntvrt Kai iiKoau (See ” Flavii Joseph! Opera, G. 

Dindorfius, Parisiis, mdccclxv.”) That Dindorf s is the correct reading, 

and that Herod was twenty-five and not fifteen when he entered public 

life, cf, Keim’s ** Jesus of Nazara” (Eng. trans.), i. 235, note I ; 

Graetz, iiL (1888), 179, note 4. 






(RC 44) the Dictator was assassinated. Once more 

the Roman world, which had begun to taste the sweets 

of peace, was thrown into disorder and convulsed with 

civil war. Among the people the desire for the old 

constitution was extinct, and Caesar’s murderers had 

to flee from Rome.’ One of the principal conspirators, 

Cassius, retired to Syria, the proconsulate of which he 

had received from Caesar.^ Syria was then in a very 

unsettled state ; a partisan of Pompey’s, Q. Caecilius 

Bassus, had raised an insurrection (B.C. 46) ; Sextus 

Caesar, the proconsul, was assassinated by his own 

troops, who went over to Bassus, and war was going 

on between Herod and Bassus when Cassius arrived 

(RC. 44) and reconciled their conflicting interests. 

Cassius soon showed himself a hard master. On 

Palestine alone he levied a contribution of seven hun- 

dred talents, and as Antipater was unable to pay the 

whole sum within the allotted time, the inhabitants of 

several Jewish towns were ruthlessly seized and sold 

as slaves. Herod, on the other hand, won the pro- 

consul’s good will by the alacrity with which he paid 

the one hundred talents that fell upon him. He 

was rewarded with the procuratorship of Ccelo- Syria, 

and a promise of the Jewish crown if fortune favoured 

Cassius in his impending conflict with the Caesarians.3 

The death of Caesar did not destroy Caesarism, 

which sprang up with the decay of the spirit of 

liberty, and Octavian, a nephew and heir of the 

mighty Dictator, aspired to play the part which was 


Suetonius, ” Octavianus,” x. 


Flonis, iv. 7 ; c/. Dio Cassius, xlvii. 20. 

3 Josephus, “De BelL Jud.,” xiv. 11. 1-4. 






left vacant by the murder of his illustrious relative. 

In conjunction with Mark Antony, one of Caesar’s 

lieutenants, he resolved to eflfect the overthrow of 

Cassius, and the rest of the conspirators. The armies 

of the contending factions met in the plains of Philippi ; 

Cassius was defeated and committed suicide, and the 

Roman world lay at the disposal of Antony and 

Octavian. The victors divided the spoils between 

them ; the West was allotted to Octavian, then a 

young man of twenty-one, and Antony became sove- 

reign lord of all the Roman conquests in the East.’ 

When the tidings of Cassius* defeat reached Palestine, 

the Jewish aristocracy believed the moment had at last 

arrived which would rid them of the Herodian family. 

Antipater they had already succeeded in poisoning, 

but his two sons, Herod and Phasael, in spite of insur- 

rections and discontent, continued to hold high posi- 

tions, and Herod, through his betrothal to Mariamne, 

the beautiful granddaughter of Hyrcanus, became a 

member of the royal house. Deputations from Judaea 

reached the headquarters of the Roman general to 

complain of the Idumaean brothers for usurping the 

power which belonged to the ethnarch. But Hyr- 

canus raised his voice in defence of the accused, and 

Antony thereupon elevated the sons of his old friend 

Antipater to the rank of Tetrarchs^ (b.c. 41). 


In looking back upon the period which had elapsed 


‘ Suetonius, ” Octavianus,” xiii. 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiv. 13, i. Judaea was now ruled by an ethnarch 

with two tetrarchs under him. At this period, Tetrarch meant a petty 

ruler in a vassal state. It had lost its etymological meaning. Cf. Leyrer 

in Herzog, Art. ” Tetrarch ” ; Seinecke, ** Geschichte des Volkes 

Israel,” ii. 173; Mommsen, v. 503, note 1, 






since the Jewish people fell under the domination of 

Rome, it will be seen that they must necessarily be 

involved in the confusion and unsettlement insepa- 

rable from the downfall of old Roman institutions, and 

the uprising of an imperial system on their ruins. The 

Romans themselves suffered terribly in life and for- 

tune from the revolution then in progress in their 

midst, and Judaea did not escape the turmoil arising 

out of a change in the centre of authority from the 

ancient oligarchy to the new monarchy. But Rome on 

the whole exercised greater severity towards her own 

citizens than towards her dependents in the provinces. 

Judaea, during this troubled time, had to suffer much, 

but it was due to the wisdom of Antipater that she did 

not suffer more. To his honour it must be said that 

he made the utmost of the difficult and perilous cir- 

cumstances in which the Jews were then placed, and 

by abandoning a hopeless struggle with Rome obtained 

the most favourable conditions possible for the people 

whose interests he had in charge. Personal ambition, 

no doubt, entered into his calculations — it is an ele- 

ment in the character of almost every one who aspires 

to rule — but the important fact remains that he pos- 

sessed a clearer view of the times in which he lived, 

and utilized his knowledge in the performance of far 

greater services to the Jewish nation than the Jewish 

aristocracy who reviled and opposed him. By futile 

insurrections and by fostering discontent the aris- 

tocracy added vastly to the miseries of the population 

By their opposition to the Romans, they were in 

reality throwing themselves across the path of the 

Divine purpose which was working itself out in 






history by binding the Mediterranean peoples under 

one form of civil rule, as a preliminary to the advent 

and propagation of the Christian faith.’ The Phari- 

sees, whether conscioualy or not, displayed a wiser 

appreciation of the tendency of events by withdrawing 

altogether from public lile. When Rome became 

supreme, political affairs ceased for a time to have any 

interest for them, and rabbinical tradition passes over 

in silence the entire political history of this period.” 

Their attitude was summed up in the maxim of the 

famous rabbi Schemaiah, ” Love work-, eschew domina- 

tion, and hold aloof from the civil power,” ^ 


‘ C/. the apolc^ of Melito, Bishop o( Sanies, in Kouth’s ” Reliq. 

Sacr.”voL L See also ” Origen (on/ia Cclsum.” ii. 30. ” God was 

preparing ihe nations for His doctrine, and pioviding ihatall men should 

obey the one koman emperor ; lest if ihere were a numliet of kings and 

nations strange to each other, it might be more diHicull for [he apostles 

to do what Jesus commantled them, saying, Go, leach all nations.” 


C/. Dereobourg, ” Ilistoire,” p. 116. ‘ Abotb, i la 









(B.C 41-4.) 


Before the battle of Philippi, the agents of 

Cassius had entered into negotiations with the 

Parthians, for the purpose of securing their co-opera- 

tion against the partisans of Caesar. The loss of this 

action was a fatal blow to the republican cause. Still 

its adherents at the Parthian Court succeeded in 

inducing King Orodes to undertake, in the following 

year (B.C. 41), the invasion of Syria, which contained 

many Roman garrisons hostile to Antony. A power- 

ful army under the command of Quintus Labienus, a 

Roman noble, and Pacorus, the king’s son, crossed 

the Euphrates, won over most of the Roman troops 

in Syria, and quickly overran the whole province.’ 

The two generals shortly afterwards (B.C. 40) divided 

their forces ; Labienus pushing westwards into Asia 

Minor, and Pacorus turning his hordes of horsemen 

against Palestine Whilst these unexpected events 


‘ Uio Cassius, 48, 35, 






were shaking the foundation of Antony’s power, the 

new ruler of the East was in the first transports of 

his notorious amour with Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, 

then in the very flower and full perfection of her 

charms. When tidings reached him that the Parthians 

were carrying all before them Antony was living 

under the enchantments of the queen at Alexandria 

in a giddy whirl of license and prodigality, but he 

was unable to tear himself from the fatal woman who 

henceforth became the evil genius of his life.’ 


Left without counsel or assistance from their pro- 

tector at a time when they were in grievous need of 

both, it now went hard with the new tetrarchs who 

had to confront a hostile population as well as the 

horsemen of Pacorus. The struggle was too unequal 

to be of long duration. Herod, after desperate fight- 

ing, succeeded in making his escape from Jerusalem 

with his household, to a place of safety — the fortress 

of Masada on the south-western shores of the Dead 

Sea. His brother Phasael dashed his brains out in a 

Parthian prison ; Hyrcanus was captured and sent 

into exile beyond the Euphrates. Antigonus, the son 

of Aristobulus, who had formerly urged his claims 

upon Caesar, received the Jewish crown by making 

most shameful promises to Pacorus, and the whole 

structure of government raised by the Romans in 

Palestine was shattered at a blow (B.C. 40).* 


At last, however, the infatuated Antony was roused 

to action, and, leaving Alexandria, he proceeded to 

Tyre, the only city in Syria which still held out 


» Plutarch, ” Antonius,” 29 ff. 


» Josephus, “Ant.,” xiv. 13. 2 ff. ; ” Bell. Jud.,” i. 13. i ff. 






against the Parthians. There he learned that his 

position in Italy was imperilled by the headstrong 

conduct of Fulvia his wife. This violent and 

imperious woman had quarrelled with Octavian, and 

in the disturbances which ensued Antony’s friends 

were driven from Italy, and his colleague obtained a 

pre-eminence which was regarded by Antony as full 

of danger to himself.’ He accordingly set sail for 

Italy (B.C40) to demand explanations from Octavian, 

and a fresh civil war seemed imminent, when the 

legions, who were now weary of decimating one 

another, compelled the two generals to arrange a 

peaceful settlement of their differences.^ Whilst the 

triumvirs were engaged in re-dividing the Roman 

world, Herod arrived as a fugitive in the capital. 

After providing for the safety of his family, he had 

wandered through Idumaea to Alexandria, and, on 

finding Antony had gone, immediately made haste to 

Rome. From the triumvirs, who knew the value of 

his services, Herod met with a cordial welcome, and 

it was decided to elevate him to the royal dignity. In 

the Senate, orators of distinction spoke in his behalf, 

and Antony himself urged upon the assembly that, in 

view of the approaching Parthian war, Herod should 

be proclaimed a king. This proposal was unani- 

mously approved of by the senators, and Herod, who 

was sitting in their midst, was then escorted by the 

triumvirs and the consuls to the temple of Jupiter 

on the Capitol, where he offered sacrifice in accord- 

ance with a custom of the Roman magistrates on 


Dio Cassius, xlviii. 4 ; Suetonius, ” Octavianus,” xiv.-xv. 

‘ Plutarch, ” Antonius,” 31. 






their entrance upon office. This imposing ceremony 

must have been a proud moment in the life of the 

new king, who did not dream of attaining such high 

honours when he arrived in Rome. But the kingdom 

was his own as yet only in name ; he now hastened 

from the capital to make it his own in reality 

(B.C. 40).’ 


Antony, after his reconciliation with Octavian, was 

ible to give his attention once more to Eastern 

affairs. Publius Ventidius Bassus, one of his best 

lieutenants, was placed in command of a fresh army 

destined to operate against the Parthians Fulvia 

being dead, Antony, to seal the peace, had just 

m irried Octavian’s sister, a woman of pure and lofty 

character, and was staying with her at Athens watch- 

ing the development of events both in the East and 

West. The Parthians were not really formidable 

when away from their wide-extending plains, and 

Ventidius, sweeping them like dust before him, soon 

regained possession of the invaded provinces ^ (B.C. 

39). When Herod was ready to commence operations 

in Palestine, the land was cleared of the Parthian 

horsemen, and the adherents of Antigonus were the 

only opponents the new king had to meet. Collect- 

ing troops with money kindly lent to him by a rich 

Jew of Antioch, and entering Galilee, he look the 

offensive with success. Ventidius sent him a detach- 

ment of Romans to assist in completing the conquest 

of the country. From them, however, he derived 


‘ Josephus, “Ant,” xiv. 14. 1-5 ; “Bell. Jiul.,” i. 14, 1-4 ; </. 

Appian, 5. 75. 

Dio Cassius, xlviii. 39 ff. ; Plutarch, ” Antonius,” ^y 






little real assistance. Silo, the commander, was bribed 

by Antigonus to remain inactive, and it was a relief 

to Herod when this force was recalled. Afterwards 

Ventidius despatched two legions to his aid in com- 

mand of another officer, but this man proved more 

corrupt than Silo. Herod had, in consequence, to con- 

tend with disheartening circumstances till he received 

help from Antony who was now in Asia Minor, and 

had taken into his own hands the supreme command 

of military affairs’ (B.C. 38). Caius Sosius succeeded 

Ventidius as Legate of Syria, and Antony entrusted 

him with the task of placing Herod on the Jewish 

throne. Sosius, with a large army, marched through 

Phoenicia upon Jerusalem, which, after a most heroic 

defence, was at last carried by assault Antigonus 

became a prisoner, but at the urgent entreaties of his 

rival he was soon afterwards put to death « (b.c 37).3 

Whilst Herod was engaged in the formidable opera- 

tion of suppressing discontent and re-organizing his 

kingdom, Antony fell once more under the spells of 

Cleopatra (B.C. 36)~an event of evil omen for the 

Jewish king, as well as for his Roman master. 

Antony’s ambition now took the form of attempting 

to found a vast Oriental Empire after the manner of 

Alexander the Great • satraps and vassal princes 


» Josephus, “Ant,,” XIV. 15. i ff.; “Bell. Jud.,” i. 15. i ff. 


“Ibid., “Ant.,” xiv. 16. I. ff.; “Bell. Jud.,” i. 17. 9; Tacitus, 

“Hist.,” 5. 9. 


3 According to Josephus (” Ant.,” xiv. 6. 4) Jerusalem was taken B.c. 

37. On the other hand, Dio Cassius (xlix. 32) places its capture in 

B.C. 38. I have followed Josephus as being more likely to be well 

informed on this point. Clinton (” Fasti Ilellenid,” iii. 222) adopts 

Dion’s chronology. 






were to act as governors, and his children by 

Cleopatra as kings.’ The fair Egyptian now assumed 

the lofty title Queen of Kings, and in order to main- 

tain her state required an extension of territory 

and an increase of her revenues. As Judaea had 

formerly been in possession of her family, and as it 

lay close to her own dominions, she set her heart 

upon obtaining it. With this fixed purpose she 

laboured strenuously to damage Herod in the estima- 

tion of Antony, and plotted with the king’s relations 

in the expectation of accomplishing his downfall. 

Considering the influence which she possessed over 

her lover, it is remarkable that she did not speedily 

attain her end. Her failure can only be accounted 

for on the ground of Antony’s unshakeable esteem for 

the monarch of his own creation. Once, however, her 

efforts to compass Herod’s destruction were almost 

crowned with success, and the king looked upon him- 

self as a lost man. In obedience to her importunities, 

Antony, while making preparations for his expedition 

against the Parthians which ended so disastrously, 

summoned the Jewish king to Laodicaea to answer a 

charge of having caused the death of his youthful 

brother-in-law Aristobulus. On Herod’s arrival 

Cleopatra employed all her arts to secure his con- 

demnation ; but her sagacious victim succeeded in 

mollifying the displeasure of the Roman, who said a 


‘ Plutarch, “Ant.,” 37. For Antony’s aims compare Mommsen v. 

360. Of his qualifications for the task Mommsen, p. 363, says, ” Eine 

jener militarischen Capacitaten die dem Feind gegeniiher und liesonders 

in schwieriger Lage besonnen und kiihn zu schlagen wissen, fehlte ihm 

der staatsmannische Wille, das sichere Erfassen und entschlossene Ver- 

folgen des politischen Ziels.” 




(From Trajan’s Colwnii, A’omt.) 






ruler must not be constantly interfered with in the 

exercise of his authority. Contrary to all expectation 

he returned to Jerusalem, still enjoying the favour of 

Antony ; but he had to go on patiently enduring 

the machinations of Cleopatra and her intrigues with 

his nearest relatives as long as Antony continued at 

the head of affairs in the East. Eventuall}’ the 

queen obtained one of the fairest portions of Herod’s 

kingdom, the famous palm groves and balsam 

gardens around Jericho which he had afterwards to 

lease from her. He had also to become surety for 

the tribute arising from her recent acquisitions in 

Syria ; and his position was growing more and more 

precarious ‘ when hostilities, which had been long 

foreseen, at length broke out between the two masters 

of the Roman world (b.C. 31). 


Since the renewal of his relations with Cleopatra, 

Antony’s proceedings in the East had begun to pro- 

duce a deep feeling of irritation and resentment at 

Rome. Quitting the toga of his people for a purple 

robe, Antony assumed the manner of life of an 

Oriental despot, and appeared to have forgotten that 

he was a Roman. He celebrated his triumph over an 

Asiatic prince in Alexandria — an act which deeply 

wounded Roman pride — and frequently made his 

appearance in the city, which was now the rival of 

Rome, in the costume of the god Osiris, or arrayed in 

royal garments with a diadem on his head.* The 

prudent and calculating Octayian 3 was in the mean- 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. i to chap. 6 ; “Bel. Jud.,” i. 18. 4 to chap. 

19. I ‘ Plutarch, ” Ant.,” 59 ; Dio Cassius, xHx. 39 (T. 


3 Comp. Champogny, ** Les Cesars,” i. 201, ** II (Octave) entrait entin 






time engaged in restoring tranquillity to the West, and 

consolidating the basis of his power. By the mild and 

temperate character of his policy, all classes were con- 

ciliated ; and he waited patiently till the effects of 

Antony’s extravagant folly rendered him intolerable” 

to the Roman people. When the time for decisive 

measures at last arrived, Octavian openly denounced 

his colleague in the Senate (B.C. 32) ; and in the fol- 

lowing year Cleopatra was declared a public enemy.* 

In the war which ensued it was the foolish behaviour 

of this fatal woman that precipitated Antony’s ruin. 

She retarded his preparations for the great contest, 

and at Actium (RC. 31) prevailed on him to fight on 

sea where he was weak. While the battle was at its 

height she fled from the scene of action with sixty 

ships and made for Alexandria, thus converting a 

doubtful contest into a crowning victory. Worst of 

all, she had so demoralized the warlike spirit of 

Antony that when he saw her vessel take to flight he 

forgot his duties as a brave man and a general, and 

joined her. Octavian was now at the summit of his 

power, and the destruction of his rival was only a 

matter of time.« 


Fortunately for his future career, Herod was not 

allowed to participate actively in the hostilities which 


dans les voies d*une politique nouvelle, douce, temp^rante et moderee ; 

ne voulait pas de triomphe ; laissait seulement ecrire au has 

statue, pour avoir retahli la paix longtemps troublee.” 


* Octavian’s relations with Antony were never for long satisfactory, 

c/. Suetonius, “Octavianus,” xvii., ” M. Antonii socictatem semper 

dubiam et inccrtam, reconciliationibus variis male focillatam.” 


^ Cf Plutarch, “Antonius”; Dio Cassius, L 13 ff. ; Duruy, ii. 


584 ff. 






culminated so disgracefully at Actium. That the 

forces of the Jewish prince were then engaged in 

operations against the Nabatxan Arabs was the 

work of Cleopatra. Conscious of Herod’s military 

capacity, she was determined to prevent him from 

establishing additional claims upon the gratitude of 

the man who had at last become her husband ; ‘ it 

was her intention to claim Judaea as her portion of 

the spoil at the conclusion of the war, which she 

expected would terminate in favour of Antony. 

Events, however, did not adapt themselves to the 

avaricious anticipations of the queea After the 

disaster at Actium, the respective positions of herself 

and Herod became suddenly inverted, and her 

husband’s last hope now hung on the fidelity of the 

very man whom she had doomed to destructioa 

Herod, for his part, on hearing of Antony’s dis- 

comfiture, seized the first opportunity of freeing 

himself for the future from the menaces of Cleopatra 

by abandoning a lost cause. When Antony was 

informed that the Jewish king, in whom he placed 

implicit confidence, had deserted him, he relinquished 

all thoughts of continued resistance. Feeling that 

his end was near, he tried the consolations of 

philosophy ; soon finding them ineffective, he 

drowned despair in dissipation, and as he had in past 

days lived with Cleopatra “the Inimitable Life,” he 

now formed with her at Alexandria a society called 

“the Inseparables in Death.” « In this mood he 

waited the approach of his successful rival. 


‘ Antony repudiated his wife Octavia at Athens, B.C. 32. Comp. 

Plutarch, ” Antonius,” » Ibid, “Vita Anton.,” 71-72. 






Octavian was apprised of Herod’s defection, and of 

the valuable assistance he had rendered the Syrian 

proconsul by compelling a band of gladiators faithful 

to Antony to lay down their arms. Consequently 

when the Jewish king appeared at Rhodes in the 

following year (B.C. 30) to make his submission to 

the victor, who was then completing preparations for 

an advance on Alexandria, he found the politic 

Octavian favourably disposed towards him. Octavian 

appreciated the excellent services which the Idumaean 

family had formerly rendered to Caesar in the Alex- 

andrian war ; and being about to engage in a similar 

enterprise himself, he gladly welcomed such an 

important ally as Herod, who was accordingly con- 

firmed in his authority.’ After this successful 

interview, Herod hastened homewards and made 

magnificent preparations for the advance of the 

legions through his territories upon Egypt It is 

very probable that this duty, as it was a preliminary 

to the final overthrow of Cleopatra, possessed a 

certain attraction for the king, who had already 

advised Antony to put her to death, as being the 

cause of his misfortunes. Meanwhile Cleopatra was 

conducting secret negotiations with Octavian in 

the hope of being permitted to retain the crown. By 

her orders, Pelusium, the key of Egypt, opened its 

gates to the conqueror ; and in the hour of battle her 

soldiers proved faithless to Antony, who, surrounded 

on all sides by treachery and defection, and having 

nothing to expect from the clemency of his opponent, 

returned to Alexandria and put a termination to his 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. 6. 6-7. 






existence. Cleopatra now hoped to purchase the 

grace of Octavian with the dead body of her husband, 

but being secretly informed that the victor intended 

taking her to Rome to adorn his triumph, she 

followed Antony’s example, and was found dead at 

his tomb.’ With the conclusion of the Egyptian war 

the troubled and bloody period of transition from 

republican to monarchial institutions came to an end. 

Octavian was now undisputed master of the whole 

empire. His victory over Antony was hailed with 

acclamation as the beg^inning of a new and brighter 

era for distressed humanity ; of war and convulsion 

the world was weary, and the great poets of this 

period give noble utterance to the universal aspira- 

tion for repose and peace * (B.C. 30). 


For the next forty years Octavian or — to use the 

name of honour conferred upon him by the Senate — 

Augustus remained at the head of affairs, and utilized 

his unique position in founding and developing the 

institutions of the new empire. While professing the 

utmost reverence for ancient constitutional forms, he 

assumed under old names a monopoly of supreme 

power, and in the guise of restoring liberty to the 


* Plutarch, ” Antonius,” 74 ff. ; Dio Cassius, li 9-14 ; Suetonius, 

“Oct.,” xviL See in Horace, ” Odes,” i. 87, a poetic account of 

Oeopatra’s end. 


* ” Ce que le monde voulait, apr^s ces efFroyable boucheries des sidles 

antiques, c’etait la douceur, Thumanit^. L’h^roisme, on en avait 

assez ; ces miles dresses brandissant ^temellement leur lance au haut 

des acropoles, n’inspiraient plus aucun sentiment. La terre, comme au 

temps de Cadmus, avait devor^ ses plus nobles fils. Les hautes races 

de la Grfcce, s’^taient entretu^ • le Peloponise ^tait un dfeert. La 

douce voix de Virgile r^umait bien le cri de Thumanit^ ; Paix, piti^/’ 

(“Conferences d’Angleterre,” E. Renan, pp. 34-5). 






oppressed republic,’ in reality transformed it into an 

Oriental despotism. His long reign is replete with 

interest both to students of literature and of political 

institutions ; but, above all, it will continue to be 

memorable, in the history of mankind, as the era in 

which the Founder of Christianity was born.^ 


It was under the political system created by 

Augustus that the Christian religion found scope to 

spread itself throughout the Western world. His cha- 

racter and aims in consequence acquire a significance 

which does not attach to any of the previous Roman 

rulers of Palestine. With all his admirable qualities 

of mind and temper, Augustus cannot be called a 

genius; and though his wonderful faculty for utilizing 

men and circumstances compels respect, yet he 

remains one of those cold and calculating natures it 

is impossible to love With him every action was 

the result of premeditation ; nothing was spontaneous ; 

he even wrote down what he intended saying to his 

wife, and his ideal of life appeared to be to avoid 

committing a mistake.3 Antony accused him of 

being deficient in courage : this, however, cannot 

be asserted with justice ; it undoubtedly required 

courage of a very high order for a youth of nineteen 

to come forward as heir of the murdered Caesar — a 

step which threw him into the very heart of the 

Titanic strife let loose by the Dictator’s death. It 

was not, however, in keeping with his principles, 


‘ Index renim gestarum Divi August!, L ‘ St. Luke ii. i. 


3 ** Crebro itaque ilia jactabat : £ircDdc PpaSkwQ et ‘Atr^Xif^ yap *(ffr* 

dfUivuv, ]) Bpaavt crparriKdrti^ et, Sat celeriter fieri, quidquid fiat satis 

bene.” C/, Suetonius, “Oct.,” xxv. 






using his own expression, ” to hazard much for the 

sake of little.” The quick flash of impulse he re- 

garded with a certain dread, and his boldest enter- 

prises were always the outcome of cool and patient 

calculation. In dealing with men politically, this 

habit of mind was of the highest value to Augustus, 

but it utterly failed him in the loftier domain of 

religion, and the reforms which he inaugurated in this 

sphere produced no lasting fruit, because the reformer 

was simply actuated by motives of state, and not 

by the sacred flame of love for what is good.’ His 

private life belied the stringent laws enacted against 

the immoralities of the time: and if the simplicity 

of his table and home was a bright example in a 

luxurious age, he was in other respects soiled and 

tainted with the odious vices of his contemporaries.^ 

His pretended zeal for moral purity gives a painful 

air of hypocrisy to his character, of which he appears 

to have been conscious when he asked the friends 

admitted to his deathbed if he had not played his 

part well in the pantomime of life.3 


In his public capacity Augustus had an admirable 

opportunity after Antony’s death of constituting the 


^ ” Les r^foimes d*Auguste, quand on les juge d’apr^ leur ouv- 

rages, nous paraissent manquer enti^rement de sinc^ritd. Entre- 

prises dans un but politique, par des gens qui ne pratiquaient pas 

eux-memes les vertus qu’ils essayaient d’imposer aux autres, elles ne 

pouvaient abou tir, si elles r^ssissaient, q\i*k une sorte de mensonge 

g^n^ral ; elles n’auraient jamais etabli qu’une apparence d’ordre et de 

discipline exterieureet ne seraientpas arriv^es jusqu’aux ^mes” (Gaston 

Boissier, ** La Religion Romaine d^Auguste aux Antonins,” i. 188-9). 


Suetonius, “Oct.,” lx\’iii.-lxx. ; Dio Cassius, Ivi. 43. 


3 <<Et admissos amicos percunctatus, Ecquid iis videretur mimum vitse 

oommode transegisse ” (Suetonius, ” Oct.,” xcix.). 






empire — which had become a necessity— upon a 

broad and enduring basis ; and although this was 

apparently his intention, events proved that he did 

not possess the statesmanship or self-renunciation 

requisite for such a task. In the old Roman institu- 

tions, for which he professed so profound a reverence, 

were to be found nearly all the materials for the 

erection of a sound constitutional fabric, free alike 

from the excessive decentralization that had ruined 

Greece and the despotic autocracy inseparable from 

Oriental forms of civilization. Out of the materials 

which lay at hand, and of which he must have been 

cognisant, Augustus might have created a stable 

government, directed by competent public servants, 

assisted and controlled in their administration by the 

intelligent co-operation not only of the inhabitants 

of Rome or Italy, but of every freeman within the 

dominions of the empire. On this path, which would 

probably have saved Europe ten centuries of darkness 

and barbarism, Augustus did not choose to proceed ; 

and the only institution which he founded on the 

ruins of the Republic was the absolute will of the 

emperor — too frail a bulwark to prevent the rapid 

dissolution of ancient society.’ Tacitus gives a lucid 

and concise account of the method adopted by the 

emperor for concentrating all authority in his own 

person, and of the willingness of all classes to accept 

the yoke. ” The defeat of Brutus and Cassius,” says 

the historian,^ ” destroyed the republicans ; (Sextus) 


‘ For further details, see Duniy, chap, xliv., ” L’oeuvre d’Auguste 

et le caractere du nouvel empire.” 


‘ “Annales,” lib. i. 2. Comp. lib. iii. 28, “Sexto demum con- 

sulatu Csesar Augustus, potentiae securus, quae triumviratu jusserat 

abolevit, deditque jura quis pace et principe uteremur.” 






Pompey had succumbed in Sicily ; the fall of Lepidus 

and the death of Antony left Augustus as sole chief 

of Caesar’s party. Renouncing the title of Triumvir 

for that of Consul, Augustus, for the purpose of pro- 

tecting the people, was at first contented with the 

tribunitian power. Soon afterwards, having gained 

the soldiers by his largesses, the people by distributions 

of food, and all orders of the State by the sweets of 

peace, he grew bolder by degrees, and drew to himself 

without opposition the whole power of the Senate, the 

magistrates, and the laws. The bravest of the 

nobility had perished in battle or by proscription ; 

the rest won over to servitude by riches and honours, 

preferred the present with its safety to the past with 

its dangers. These changes did not displease the 

provinces ; they dreaded the rule of the Senate and 

people, on account of the rival ambitions and cupidity 

of the magistrates, who were feebly checked by laws 

which were powerless against violence, corruption, 

and wealth.” 


Such, then, was the character of the ruler with 

whom Herod had for the future to deal ; and such 

the nature of the empire into which Palestine became 

incorporated for several centuries to come. At the 

close of the Alexandrian expedition Augustus had 

to arrive at a determination respecting the govern- 

ment of his new acquisitions in the East. He 

renounced the designs of Caesar and Antony for 

carrying Roman arms beyond the Euphrates. The 

countries immediately contiguous to the Mediterranean 

formed a natural boundary for an industrial and 

commercial empire such as Augustus had conceived ; 






his eastern policy therefore resolved itself into the 

question of establishing a stable authority on the 

Egyptian and Syrian line of coast. Of Herod’s 

competence to assist him in this task the emperor 

was well aware. The Jewish king, it is true, in the 

struggle between contending factions, had frequently 

changed sides, but he had always remained faithful 

to Rome ; although he espoused Antony’s cause, he 

did not oppose Augustus in the field, and his hatred 

of Cleopatra went far to atone for his familiar rela- 

tions with her lover. In addition, the excellent 

arrangements Herod had made for the comfort of the 

troops in the recent campaign were fresh in the 

emperor’s memory, and policy as well as gratitude 

pointed to the Jewish prince as the fittest man for 

guarding Roman interests in Western Syria. At all 

events, such was the opinion of Augustus, who 

possessed a rare aptitude for the selection of able 

subordinates. Herod, accordingly, was not only con- 

firmed in his kingdom, but it was also enlarged by 

the addition of Samaria, the Jewish possessions of 

Cleopatra, portions of territory east of Jordan, and 

the whole coast-line from Gaza to the future city of 

Caesarea.’ A few years afterwards, when Augustus 

was further convinced of the wisdom of his choice, 

Herod received fresh accessions of territory. His 

power then extended eastward to Damascus and 

northward to the sources of the Jordan,^ the whole 

kingdom forming a vaster dominion than had at any 


“Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. 7. 3 ; </”. xiv. 4. 4. 


•Ibid., “Ant,” xv. 10. i; “BelL Jud.,” i. m 4 ; Dio Cassius. 

liv. 7. 9 ; Strabo, xvi. 2. 






previous time been ruled from Jerusalem, even in her 

palmiest days. 


In the internal administration of his extensive 

possessions, Herod became a zealous imitator of his 

imperial master, and Palestine, as well as Italy, could 

boast its Augustan age of order, civilization, and 

peace. In the turbulent regions of the north-east, 

the king successfully accomplished the difficult task 

of pacification, utterly dispersing the h rdes of 

robbers who had made this district their refuge and 

home.’ He amply satisfied the primary test applied 

by Augustus to all his subordinates — namely, their 

fitness for maintaining order and tranquillity. It was 

no easy matter to achieve this end among the dis- 

affected and fanatical population over which he 

ruled ; but Herod was a man of infinite resource, 

who thoroughly understood the temper of his sub- 

jects, and knew what precautions would prove effec- 

tive in the contingency of revolt. The defences of 

the capital were strengthened to overawe the inhabi- 

tants, a military colony was planted in Samaria for 

the same purpose, and a strategical system of forti- 

fications established throughout the rest of the 

country.^ His Roman masters had long since taught 

him how to dispose of opponents ; and during the 

reign of Antony he freely decimated them by pro- 

scriptions, which served the twofold purpose of 

supplying the triumvir with gold, and of striking 

terror among the disaffected. Under Augustus, who 

had grown weary of blood, the king pursued, except 

with his own family, a different method, which con- 


*Josephus, I’Ant.,” xv. lo. i. ‘ Ibid., “Ant.,”xv. 8. 5. 






sisted in covering the land with a network of spies. 

It is said that he sometimes played the 3py himself, 

Uiixing among the people in disguise at night, the 

better to ascertain their true feelings towards the 

government.’ Despotism, by stifling the free and 

open expression of opinion, is invariably driven to 

these dark courses, and Augustus is reported to have 

adopted even more shameful means than Herod tu 

feel the real pulse of public sentiment^ As a safe- 

guard against sedition and discontent, Herod had 

great faith in keeping the people occupied; large 

assemblages were forbidden, as tending to conspiracy 

and disorder ; the use of torture was not infrequent ; 

punishments were as a rule severe ; and, especially in 

Judxa, terror and force were the ultimate and only 

foundations of authority.3 


It would, however, be taking an imperfect view of 

the king’s administration to look only at the equivocal 

methods adopted by him for upholding order and 

curbing disaffection. It is certain that he was also 

animated by a sincere desire to promote the welfare 

and prosperity of his subjects, and that, under his 

rule, Palestine, like other portions of the empire, 

entered upon an era of unwonted affluence. Measures 

were put in operation to augment the productiveness 

of the country. Trade was encouraged, new com- 

mercial centres were established, cities restored and 

founded, and, to facilitate communication between 

Syria and Egypt, a magnificent harbour was con- 

structed at Caesarea. The building operations at 


» Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. 10. 4. ‘ Suetonius, “Oct.,” Ixix. 


3Jo3ephus, **Ant.,”xv. la 4; xvi, ii, 4. 






Cssarea were on an immense scale ; and the choice 

of site reflects high honour on the king’s foresight, 

for the place rapidly grew into an important city, and 

eventually displaced Jerusalem as the capital of the 

country.’ His influence with the Roman adminis- 

trators was also exerted in behalf of the Jews (the 

Diaspora) who had settled in different parts of the 

empire, and through him valuable privileges and 

immunities were secured for them.^ At home the 

king lightened taxation when he believed it was 

becoming burdensome,3 and during a famine which 

committed terrible ravages in the land, he displayed 

admirable qualities both of head and heart. By him 

vast supplies of food were obtained from Egypt for 

the starving population; the tender, the aged, the 

infirm were the objects of his assiduous care; and 

as the treasury was empty, he sold the whole of his 

costly plate and furniture — stripping the royal palace 

of its grandeur — in order to supply the people with 

the necessaries of life.4 


Herod’s success in maintaining order and promoting 

prosperity among his subjects induced Augustus to 

lay upon him the much more delicate and difficult 


» Josephus, “Ant.,” xvi. 5. I flf. ” Ibid., “Ant.,” xvi. 2. 4. 


3 “Ant.,” XV. 10. 4; if. XV. 2. 4. As regards taxation, Marquardt 

(” Staatsverwaltung,” i. 408, note 2) says, ” Die Unterhaltung des 

Konigshauses und die gleichzeitige Zahlung eines Tributes an die Romer 

legte dem Lande ausserordentliche Opfer auf.” Mommsen, on the other 

hand, considers that Herod had no tribute to pay to the Romans, and 

his reasons for this opinion appear to me convincing. One fact alone 

evidently settles the question. ” Der detaillirte und zuverlassige 

Bericht Uber die Schatzung die Quirinus anordnet, zeigt mit volliger 

Klarheit, das Land bis dahin von romischer Steuer frei war” (Mommsen, 

V. 501, note 1). ^ Josephus, “Anu,” xv. 9. i. 






duty of attempting to Hellenize them as well. The 

external unity of the empire had been achieved, but 

it as yet possessed no internal cohesion, and the only 

thing which prevented the huge structure from falling 

to pieces was the invincible constraint of Roman 

arms. Augustus wished to create an internal bond 

of union among the heterogeneous populations under 

his sway, and to attain this end adopted the project 

of permeating the unhcllenized portions of the East 

with the tastes, habits, and customs of Greece and 

Rome. Herod, as far as his dominions were con- 

cerned, became a willing instrument of his imperial 

master, and made vigorous efforts to impart a 

Roman character to the land. In the Gentile portion 

of his government he erected splendid heathen tem- 

ples, and dedicated them to Caesar. ^ Roman spectacles 

were introduced, Roman theatres and amphitheatres 

constructed for the amusement of the populace ; the 

military roads were studded with Roman monuments; 

cities, towns, palaces, and public edifices received 

Roman names, and especially the names of the 

imperial family — Samaria became Sebaste, Straton’s 

Tower became Caesarea, and the entire country pre- 

sented the appearance of being thoroughly Roman- 

ized.« In Judaea the king, who knew the temper of 

the inhabitants, went to work more warily, but even 

in this province he ventured to build a huge amphi- 

theatre not far from the Holy City, and here the 

games instituted by Augustus ^ in honour of his 


‘ Cf. G. Boissier, ** La Religion Romaine,” i. 109-186 ; “L’apoth^ose 

imp^riale.” » ” Bell. Jud.,” i. 21. 1-4; “Ant.,” xv. 8. 5. 


3 *< Quoque Actiacae victoriae memoria celebratior et in posterum 

esset, urbem, Nicopolim apud Actium conditit ; ludosque illic quin- 

quennales constituit ” (Saetonius, ** Oct.,” xviii.). 






victory at Actium were (idebrated in a magnificent 

manner. Contests with gladiators, chariot races, wild- 

beast fights- could now be witnessed in the very heart 

of Judaism on a scale and with a splendour which 

compelled the admiration of the Gentiles themselves.’ 

People from all parts of the empire were invited to 

these novel spectacles. Jerusalem ceased to be a 

city given up to priests, rabbis, and doctors of the 

law; it was unwillingly opened out to the more 

diversified life of the West. Foreign mercenaries 

from Galatia, Germany, and Thrace were now to be 

seen in its streets ; foreign envoys and retainers were 

always frequenting the royal palace, and Western 

habits of life became more and more common and 

prominent in the capital ; Greek orators, sophists, 

and historians gave an air of intellectual distinction 

to Herod’s court ; and two brothers, both able men, 

Nicolaus and Ptolemaeus, of Damascus, held high 

positions in the administration. Ptolemaus did not 

possess the brilliant gifts of his brother, but he was of 

the utmost service to the king in the practical con- 

duct of affairs, and exercised a wholesome influence 

on his passionate and suspicious nature. Nicolaus 

was Herod’s confidential agent in his dealings with 

Augustus and the Roman officials He was a man 

of exceptional acquirements, at once a diplomatist, 

courtier, poet, and philosopher ; he had also published 

well-known works on geography and history, and 

was a naturalist of repute besides.^ Other Greeks 


» Josephus ” Ant.,” xv. 8. I. 


* For fuller details, if. A. Hausrath, ** Neutestamentliche Zeitge- 

schichte, Erster Theil,” p. 272 & 






of lesser note also found their way into Herod’s 

favour, some for good and others for evil, but all of 

them contributed towards Hellenizing the capital and 

giving a Western tone to the conduct of affairs. 


While pursuing this line of policy Herod felt that 

he was inflicting deep wounds on Jewish religious 

susceptibility, and in order to allay public discontent 

pretended to be acting in obedience to commands 

from Rome.’ To a certain extent this excuse may 

be correct, for during the supremacy of Antony, he 

displayed little liking for works of art or Western 

modes of life, and his new-born zeal under Augustus 

probably proceeded from motives of statecraft and a 

desire to please his imperial master. Still, it is also 

worthy of being remembered that Herod was only 

half a Jew. By education he was a Greek.” During 

his reign he surrounded himself with Greeks, and 

openly preferred them to his Jewish subjects. He 

delighted in their applause, loved to adorn their 

cities, restore their temples, subsidize their games, 

and, although his mind was never deeply penetrated 

by Hellenic culture, he had been taught to regard it 

as the highest and best But with all his Gentile 

leanings, Herod was too much of a statesman to 

carry Hellenism beyond the point which his Jewish 

subjects could endure, and carefully avoided repeating 

the blunders of Antiochus Epiphanes. On the con- 

trary, he tried to make political capital out of Jewish 

beliefs, especially those connected with the Temple 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. 9. 5. 


” Miiller, ** Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum.” Parisiis, 1849, vol. 

iiL p. 350 flE. 






and the Messianic hopes.’ At this period it was a 

prevalent idea among the Jews that the Messiah 

when He appeared would erect a far more splendid 

temple than the one at present in existence ; and the 

Book of Enoch, then very popular, sustained this 

belief by prophesying that the Messianic age would 

be inaugurated by the building of a house to the 

praise of a great king for ever and ever.* Herod 

took hold of these expectations and set himself to 

utilize them for dynastic purposes. In the fifteenth 

year of his reign (B.C. 20) he summoned a great 

assembly of the people, and after delivering an oration 

to them on the blessings which had accompanied 

his rule, announced his intention of rebuilding the 

Temple and superseding the old structure of Zerub- 

babel by a far more glorious edifice. His proposition 


‘ ‘* Id Jerusalem aber ragt wieder uber AUes empor das Heiligtum. 

Die Stadt Gottes ersteht aufs Neue eben um des Heiligtums willen. 

Deshalb heisst es ebenso, dass der Messias Jerusalem, als dass er den 

Tempel bauen werde ; der letztere gibt Jerusalem seinen Werth und 

seine Bedeutung. Schon das Targum zu Jes. 53, 5, sagt, * der Messias 

wird das Heiligtum bauen, das durch unsere Schuld entweiht und durch 

unsere Sunden (den Heiden) uberliefert worden ist, und Wajjikra rabba 

c. 9.’ Bammidbar rabba c. 13, * der Messias kommt vom Norden und 

baut den Tempel, der im Siiden gelegen ist.’ A. a O. c. 14, heisst es, 

das der Tempel in den Tagen des Messias wieder aufgebaut werden 

wird, wie er einst in den Tagen Salomo’s und nach dem Exil gebaut 

wurde” (F. Weber, “System der Altsynagogalen Palastinischen Theo- 

logie,” p. 358). 


‘ Henoch, 90. 2S-29, and 91. 13. In the Book of Enoch the history 

of mankind is divided mto ten weeks of years, the eighth week corre- 

sponds to the last century before Christ. During this week the Jews 

are to overthrow heathen rule and establi h a world-wide dominion. 

At the end of this period the Temple is to lie built. {€/. Hilgenfeld, 

*’Die Judische Apokalyptik in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwickelung,” 

pp. 125-127.) 






was received with mingled feelings of apprehension 

and dismay, but Herod succeeded in dissipating the 

fears of the people. Thousands of priests and work- 

men were engaged, the materials for the new edifice 

were collected before the old Temple was demolished, 

and for eight years the great work of re-construction 

was proceeded with. Huge blocks of marble, which 

afterwards aroused the wonder of Christ’s disciples, 

were transported from a great distance to the Temple 

Mount ; the priests were taught masonry, so that no 

unclean hands should touch the inner courts, and the 

king himself was forbidden to approach the most 

sacred portions of the new edifice. At last the great 

undertaking was completed. Its consecration was 

celebrated with unequalled pomp and magnificence, 

and national pride was gratified by the spectacle of 

its extraordinary beauty. When the morning sun 

burst upon the white marble of the Temple, Mount 

Moriah glittered like a hill of snow ; and when its 

rays struck the golden roof of the sacred edifice, 

the whole mount gleamed and sparkled as if it were 

in flames.! Whoever has not seen the Temple of 

Herod, said the rabbis, has seen nothing beautiful ; 

pious legend went further, and declared that it was 

built amid manifestations of Divine approval.^ 


Notwithstanding the momentary satisfaction pro- 

duced among the people of Judaea by the re-erection 

of the Temple, Herod never really enjoyed more than 

a temporary popularity in this, the most rigid and 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. 11. i fi. 


‘ For the rabbinical traditions concerning the Temple see Derenbourg, 

” Histoire de la Palestine,” pp. 152, 153. 






fanatical part of the kingdom. It was not so much 

his despotism which made the dwellers in and around 

Jerusalem his irreconcilable enemies. The despotism 

of several of the Maccabean princes had been far 

more brutal ; it was not the king’s Hellenism^ for the 

Maccabees had been as ardent Hellenists as he ; it 

was not even his usurpation taken by itself, but the 

fact of his being an Idumaean^^ a stranger in the 

gates of Israel. Among no people of antiquity did 

race antipathy exercise so potent an influence afi 

among the Jews of Judaea* Among them national 

exclusiveness had become one of the most vital 

elements of religion, and their racial kinship with the 

Edomites added bitterness to this exclusive spirit, 

instead of tending to break it down. It was sufficient 

that Herod was one of the hated children of Edom to 

ensure his being detested by the Jews ; no services of 

his could possibl}’ wipe out this stain* It would have 

proved fatal to the popularity of any prince however 

excellent, and the Jewish deputy who accused the 

king before Augustus was expressing, the heartfelt con- 

victions of his countrymen, when he said that the 

generation which lived under Herod endured more 

tribulation than all their forefathers together since the 

return from Babylon.* Unquestionably Herod put 


‘ In the Book of Jubilees, which probably belongs lo the first century 

of the Christian era, some light is thrown, on the antipathy existing 

between the Jews and Idumaeans. Of Israel, Esau says (pap. 37): 

** When I can change the skin and bristles of a pig into wool, and 

when horns grow out of its head like the horns of a ram, then shall I 

regard thee with brotherly love, and when wolves make .peace with the 

lambs, then shall there be peace with thee in my heart.” See Dillmann’s 

translation in Ewald’s ” Jahrbiicher,” ii.-iii. 1850-51. 


* C/, Hausrath, ** Neutestamentliche Zeilgeschichte,” p. 316. 






down religious outbreaks with a strong hand, and 

drowned every uprising of fanaticism in blood ; his 

measures were sometimes terribly severe, but they 

were essential to the one supreme demand of Augustus 

— the maintenance of peace. Herod’s rule shows many 

a dark blot on its pages, but it was the only rule then 

possible except the direct sovereignty of Rome ; and 

if his administration is compared with the condition 

of things which immediately preceded it, or even with 

the latter period of independence, it will come forth 

from the ordeal with additional lustre. It has to be 

conceded that his government was not based on the 

people’s will, but it has likewise to be remembered 

that the Jews had proved in the most glaring manner 

their total incapacity to govern themselves, and their 

choice actually lay not between despotism and self- 

government, but between despotism and anarchy. 


Herod evidently knew the reason why he was so 

bitterly hated by his Jewish subjects, for he burned 

the archives of Jerusalem where the genealogies were 

preserved, and pretended to be a descendant of a 

distinguished family of Babylonian Jews. Nicolaus 

of Damascus even drew up a Jewish pedigree for the 

king, but the device was too transparent to deceive 

any one, and he was known to the last in popular 

language as the Hasmonsean slave.^ But, after all, 

Judaea was only a small portion of his dominions, and 

the hostility which he experienced there is in marked 

contrast with the goodwill accorded him in Samaria 

and Galilee, and the gratitude of the Jews abroad. 

The Samaritahs were warmly attached to him, and 


* C/ Derenbourg, ** Histoire,” p. 154. 






Samaria was his favourite residence ; the absence of 

fortifications in Galilee is a proof that he had nothing 

to fear from the high-spirited and warlike inhabitants 

of the north, and he was recognized by the Jews of 

the Dispersion as their friend and protector. In face 

of these circumstances it is hardly possible to avoid 

the conclusion that sentimental antipathies, joined to 

an innate spirit of turbulence, distorted the popular 

judgment in Judsea, and led the inhabitants to see 

Herod in a perverted light 


It is remarkable that public virtues are sometimes 

found in conjunction with a disreputable private 

character, and this was to a certain extent the case 

with Herod. In many respects his long reign was a 

distinct blessing to the Jews, and if his family life 

with its dreadful tale of murder and woe had remained 

unchronicled, history might have accorded him a 

place among the select band of sovereigns who have 

deserved well of their country.’ Something in the 

human conscience rebels against the dictum that a 

ruler’s private life is a matter of indifference so long 

as it does not injuriously affect his public action, but 

this appears to have been the light in which Herod 

was regarded by Augustus and his minister Agrippa. 

With only one short interval he enjoyed the con- 

fidence of the emperor to the last, and on more than 

one occasion he gave substantial proof that this 

confidence was deserved. It was through Herod’s 

timely assistance that a disastrous expedition sent by 

Augustus to the Red Sea did not terminate more 


* C/, Siefiert in Herzog, vi. 55. 






disastrously,! and on the only occasion in which the 

king was visited with the imperial disfavour, Augustus 

discovered afterwards that the error lay with himselC* 

So striking was his faith in Herod’s judgment in 

Eastern affairs that the proconsuls of Syria, men of 

the highest eminence in the empire, were enjoined to 

undertake nothing of importance within the province 

without first consulting the Jewish king, and Josephus 

relates that Augustus esteemed Herod next to his 

son-in-law Agrippa, and that Agrippa who had visited 

the king’s dominions and seen his great undertakings 

valued him next to the emperor.3 


It is in Herod’s family life that the darkest elements 

of his character are most distinctly seen. His great 

palace at Jerusalem presented the outward appearance 

of a Grecian edifice, but within it was an oriental 

harem full of the plots and jealousies of women, 

eunuchs, and slaves. When the king entered this 

polluted atmosphere his usual sagacity utterly failed 

him, and he frequently acted like a man bereft of 

reason. His palace was little better than a pande- 

monium ; a women’s war was continually going on 

among the different members of his family ; the air 

was full of rumours, whisperings, and secret intrigues, 

all of which were poured into Herod’s ears in ex- 

aggerated forms, till he imagined himself surrounded 

by an invisible network of conspiracy. His jealous 


« Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. 9. 3. C/. Hausrath, ” N. Zeitgeschichte,” L 

281. Josephus, “Ant,” xvL la 9. 


3 Ibid., “Ant,” xv. 10. 3; “Bello Jud.,” i. 20. Josephus goes so far as 

to say that Augustus made Herod a governor of Syria. This statement 

is evidently wrong, for there is no evidence to show that he was ever 

more than an adviser of the proconsul. 






and suspicious nature was worked upon by skilled 

intriguers who knew the weak spots in his character, 

and roused him into transports of fury and revenge. 

It was at sudi times that he gave orders for those 

terrible executions of his own kindred,^ which remain 

without a parallel in history. In these fits of rage he 

spared neither age nor sex, and neither affection nor 

the sacred ties of fatherhood and wedlock were 

allowed to stay the hand of the executioner. Wives, 

brothers, children, were all hurried to an untimely 

doom when once his suspicions were successfully 

aroused. By Herod’s command his beautiful wife 

Mariamne * perished in the flower of life ; his children 

Alexander and Aristobulus met with a like fate as 

they were entering upon manhood, and their great- 

grandfather Hyrcanus while he was tottering to the 

grave. Besides these victims, Mariamne’s mother, 

his brother-in-law Costobar, his uncle Joseph, and his 

eldest son Antipater were all executed. Some of 

them — as, for instance, his mothcr-in law Alexandra 

and his diabolical son Antipater — probably deserved 

their fate ; but the others were sacrificed to the 

jealousy and suspicion of the king. Remorse 

generally followed these executions, and the miserable 

man was to be seen wandering about heart-broken 

and inconsolable, calling aloud to his victims as if 

they were still alive. Augustus sometimes tried to 

compose Herod’s family disputes, but with little 


* For the execution of his family c/. Josephiis, ** Ant.,” xv. 3. 3 ff. 

and xvi. 11. i flf. ; also Keim, ” Jt-‘sus of Nazara,” i. 250. 


‘ According to a tradition in the Talmud the king preserved the 

dead body of his wife Mariamne seven years in honey (Derenbourg, 151). 






permanent success, and at last he came to the con- 

clusion that it was better to be one of Herod’s swine 

than his soa’ 


In Herod’s old age the arbitrary and bloodthirsty 

side of his character obscured those more estimable 

qualities which have obtained for him the name of 

Great,’ and when he died at Jericho (B.c. 4) about 

the age of seventy, after a reign of thirty-four years, 

the earlier and more brilliant period of his life was 

forgotten ; and he lived in the popular imagination 

simply as the instigator of atrocity and woe. By the 

gospel writers who place the birth of Christ in the 

concluding years of his long reign, he is represented 

as a jealous and suspicious tyrant, and a similar 

account of him is preserved in an old fragment of 

Jewish literature written probably a short time after the 

king’s death. In prophetic tones a writer under the 

pseudonym of Moses, after pronouncing sentence of 

condemnation on the Maccabees for their impiety 

which brought about the usurpation of Herod, 

proceeds thus to describe the king, and his tyrannous 


‘ “Melius est Herodis porcus esse, quam filius” (Macrobius, 



” Where Herod is called by Josephus 6 /tiyac, the historian uses this 

expression to distinguish him from the younger members of the Herodian 

family ; it there means the elder, major natUy not Herod the GreaL 

Seinecke (” Geschichte,” iL 179) says, ” Sollte 6 idyoQ hier der grosse 

bedeuten, so miisste der Altere Agrippa welcher auch 6 fiiyac heisst 

(Josephus, *Ant.,’ x. 5. 2; xviii. 5. i) ebenfalk als der grosse 

bezeichnet sein, was keinem Schriftsteller eingefallen ist £r heisst 

vielmehr so im Unterschiede von seinem Sohne, dem jungem Agrippa. 

So heisst Drusus (Josephus, ‘ Ant.,* xviii. 6. i) beim Josephus 6 /liyac 

im Gegensatze zu dem jungern Drusus, and Julius Casar heisst 6 /ilyac, 

der altere im Unterschiede von Sextus Casar (Josephus, *AnL,’ 

xiv. 9. 2).” 






deeds : ** An insolent king shall succeed them who is 

not of the race of the priests — a daring and godless 

maa And he will judge them as they deserve. He 

will extirpate their eminent men with the sword, and 

will bury their bodies in unknown places, so that no 

man shall know where their bodies are. He will kill 

the aged and the young and not spare. Then shall a 

great fear of him be among them in their land, and 

he shall execute judgment among them as the 

^yptians did among them, and shall chastise them 

for thirty or forty years. And he Will beget sons who 

as his successors shall rule a shorter time.” < 


Of these sons and their relations with the Romans 

we shall in the following chapter proceed to speak* 


‘ Kat itaikUTat abrohc 0aciXibc v/3pi0Tnc» ^ o^ larcu &ir6 rov 

yivovQ T&v itpftaVf dvBpurro^ irpoirtrt)^ loai ^vai^iyCt *<ii Kpwti avrocc* 

ffotfwc o^uM teovrai, oq im^fei rove vpftTtvovraq airriv fiaxaip^ 

cat t6tmq AyvkHiToi^ 0a«|/c< rd fwitara abrwv^ Iva fttfitic Mf, 5irotf 

eiffi rd awfuna avr&v. dwoKrevei vptofivrkpviVQ cat MMrrfXMC €fb 

^ctrai. T&n o ^^/3oc torai ainw viKphq iv aOrcZf Iv rg yy abruv. lud 

woaiOH tv oOtoXq cpioeic, KoObtQ Ivoiiioav iv ahroiq ol Aiyvxrioc, iid 

rpuiKOPTa Kai retnfdpiitv erwv icni KoXdoei airrov^, icai yeyvrimt. vrovCi 

01 irafKiXXifXoi fipaxvripovQ xP^*’^**^ dp^iotinv (**Mosis Assumpdo,*’ 

vL i8 ; Hilgenfeld’s Greek Version in “Messias Judaeorum,” 446-7). 





(B.C. 4 to A.D. 37.) 


Immediately after Herod’s death Augustus sent 

Sabinus, a Roman official, to superintend the adminis- 

tration till he came to a deciRion respecting the future 

government of the country. Before the arrival of this 

functionary a dangerous tumult had already taken 

place in Jerusalem, in which three thousand citizens 

lost their lives ; and, to complicate the situation, the 

authority of Sabinus, which was apparently ill- 

defined,’ was ignored by Herod’s old officers. This 

step was taken in accordance with instructions from 

Archeiaus, the king’s son, who was then on his way 

to Rome to obtain the assent of Augustus to his 

father’s will. After the arrival of Sabinus in the 

capital, the disorders throughout the country became 

so alarming, that Ouintilius Varus, the Syrian pro- 

consul, had to overawe the disaffected with his 

legions, and before his departure he left a strong 


Sabinus is railed by Josephus (“Ant..” xvii. 3I Procurator of 






garrison in Jerusalem to uphold the authority of 

Rome. But the spirit of revolt was abroad ; the 

turbulent had no longer the fear of the old king 

before their eyes. Sabinus was arbitrary, and the 

wild forces of fanaticism which were gathered to- 

gether at the Feast of Pentecost (B.C 4) shut up the 

Roman garrison in one of the fortifications of the 

Holy City. Sabinus, seeing the critical nature of his 

position, despatched pressing messages to Varus to 

come to his relief; meantime the revolt assumed 

larger proportions, and, with the exception of Samaria, 

the whole of Palestine was in open rebellion. Bands 

of robbers and marauders, headed by pretenders and 

slaves, sprang up in different parts of the country. 

Herod’s palace at Jericho was looted, the armoury 

at Sepphoris, in Galilee, fell into the hands of the 

insurgents, and the whole of Palestine was plunged 

into anarchy when Varus began his march to rescue 

the garrison of Jerusalem. As in former revolts, the 

desperate bravery of the insurgents was of no avail 

against the disciplined valour of the West Varus 

inflicted severe chastisement upon the rebellious 

districts ; several towns were burnt, many Jews were 

sold as slaves, and, as a terrible warning to the dis- 

affected, two thousand rebels were taken and crucified.’ 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xvii. 9. 2. The mighty king of the West 

mentioned in the “Assumption of Moses” is evidently Varus. This is 

made plain by a reference to the crucifixions ordered by the proconsul. 

Cf. **Aiit.,” xvii. 10. 10. Ei’c TO. fiipfi airrOv ol lTxvpo\ iKtvcovrai 

Kai rriQ ^inrtioQ o ivvarog /SacnXcvCi o’c itciroXtftfiiTH avTOtx <rai 

atxiioXurtffH Kai ftlpoQ rov oikov ai/nZtf Trvpi ifxirpiicn Kai rivag 

eravfiwrtt trtpi rrfv KoXuviav avriZv (” Mosis Assumptio,*’ vi. 19, in 

Hilgenfeld’s **Messias Judxoram,” p. 447). 






It appears that Sabinus had for some reason incurred 

the displeasure of the proconsul, for when he ap- 

proached the Holy City at the head of his troops, 

Sabinus did not dare to meet him, but retired to the 

sea coast, and Varus, with the assistance of one 

of Herod’s old generals, succeeded in restoring a 

temporary tranquillity to the unhappy land. 


While these events were transpiring in Judsea, 

most of the members of Herod’s family had arrived 

in Rome, and were intriguing against one another 

for possession of the old king’s inheritance. Herod 

had made a will shortly before his death disposing 

of his property and dominions, but his arrangements 

possessed no validity till they received the sanction 

of the emperor. Augustus placed himself in the 

position of a suzerain towards the princes, who were 

allowed to remain in authority in different parts of 

the empire, according them a wide discretion in 

internal affairs, but reserving certain questions for 

settlement by himself alone. Among these were the 

questions of peace and war and of succession to the 

throne.’ In the case of Herod’s family it was diffi- 

cult for the emperor to arrive at a decision, owing 

to the discord prevailing amongst them and their 

accusations against one another. Whilst he was 

considering the best methods for disposing of the 


‘ Suetonius (**Oct.,” xlxiii.) thus describes Augustus’ poliqr with 

respect to vassal kings : ‘* Reges socios etiam semetipsos necessi- 

tudinibus junxit mutuis, promptissimus aflinitatis cujusque atque 

amicitiae conciliator et fautor ; nee aliter universos, quam membra 

partesque imperii, curse habuit, rectorem quoque solitus apponere 

setate parvis aut mente lapsis, donee adolescerent aut resipiscerent ; 

ac plurimorum Ii])eros et educavit simul cum suis et instituit.” 






old king’s dominions, the situation was complicated 

by the appearance in Rome of a Jewish deputation, 

composed of citizens who were hostile to a continu- 

ance of Herodian rule, and whose aim it was to 

induce Augustus to place the country under the 

immediate control of a Roman governor. In order 

to obtain more light on the affairs of Palestine, 

Augustus summoned the sons of Herod and the 

deputies from Judaea to meet him in conference on 

an appointed day in the Temple of Apollo. Here, 

surrounded by the imperial officials, he heard the 

complaints of the Jewish delegates, as well as their 

proposals with respect to the future government of 

Palestine. The defence of the Herodians was under- 

taken by Nicolaus of Damascus, who not only 

rebutted the charges of the delegation, but also 

accused the Jews of taking pleasure in disorder and 

sedition, and of being unwilling to submit like peace- 

ful citizens to the lawfully constituted authorities. A 

few days after the termination of these proceedings 

Augustus publicly announced his intention of adher- 

ing to the main provisions of Herod’s will. Arche- 

laus was accordingly made ruler of Judaea, Idumaea, 

and Samaria, with an annual income of one hundred 

and twenty thousand pounds, but without the title of 

king ; his brother Antipas obtained the provinces of 

Galilee and Peraea, with power to raise a revenue of 

forty thousand pounds annually ; while his half-brother 

Philip became ruler of the wild districts of Batanaea, 

Auranitis, and Trachonitis, in the north-east of Pa- 

lestine, and had an annual revenue of twenty thousand 

pounds. Other members of the family were also 






suitably provided for by the emperor, and the whole 

of Herod’s dominions, with the exception of the 

coast towns of Gaza, Gadara, and Hippos, remained 

in the hands of his relatives and children. ^ 


Of Philip’s long reign (B.C. 4 to A.D. 34) there 

is little left on record. His mother was Cleo- 

patra of Jerusalem, whom Herod received into 

his harem more on account of her beauty than 

her birth.* Philip was educated at Rome along 

with his half-brothers Archelaus and Antipas, and 

from what is recorded of his character, he seems 

to have been the best disposed and most estimable 

of the Herodian family. While Archelaus was in 

Italy with the object of gaining the assent of 

Augustus to his father’s will, the government of 

Palestine was left in Philip’s hands, and during the 

interregnum he struggled manfully with the dis- 

turbances which arose. During this troubled period 

the high qualities of the young prince won for him 

the esteem of Varus, the proconsul, who recom- 

mended him to the favourable consideration of the 

emperor, and at the same time advised him to go and 

look after his interests at Rome. Philip accepted 

this counsel. The portion of the late king’s posses- 

sions which Augustus allotted to him was in extent 

the largest, but in other respects the poorest, the 

most unsettled, and the most difficult to govern.3 

It contained a mixed population of Arabs and 


« Josephus, ** Ant,” xvii. 11, i ff. ; “Bello Jud.,” ii. 6. 3, sq, 


C/. Keim in Schenkel sad voce Herodes’ ” Sohne und Enkel,” pp. 



3 According to St. Luke, Philip also ruled a portion of Ituraea (Luke 


iu. 1). 






Syrians, interspersed with Jewish and Idumaean 

colonists, who had settled in these regions in the 

preceding reign for the purpose of holding the pre- 

datory instincts of the wild inhabitants in check. 

Philip, like a wise ruler, made the most of the 

position in which he stood, and of the indifferent 

material with which he had to deal Avoiding all 

schemes of territorial aggrandisement, the young 

tetrarch concentrated his attention on affairs at 

home, and acquired the reputation of a sober-minded 

and discreet ruler, who watched like a father over 

the welfare of his people. It was a custom of this 

excellent prince, accompanied by his trusted advisers, 

to make occasional visife to the different parts of his 

dominions. At such times he readily attended to 

the complaints of his subjects, and administered 

justice to them at a moment’s notice. He apparently 

possessed the secret of ruling the intractable popula- 

tion of his tetrarchy, for during a reign of many 

years (rc 4 to AD. 34) an era of peace and tran- 

quillity prevailed among a people whom the Syrian 

proconsuls had in vain attempted to reduce to order.’ 

Philip’s capital, Caesarea Philippi, originally bore 

the name of Paneas, and was situated in a beautiful 

and picturesque district among the mountains of 

Lebanon, near the sources of the Jordan, where 

Herod the Great had built a temple in honour of 

Augustus. Philip, who was under the necessity of 

choosing a chief town for the centre of his govern- 

ment, selected this place, and in order to increase 

the population, declared it an asylum where all could 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. 4. 6. 






flee to and find security. At a critical period in His 

public ministry, Jesus had occasion to retire from 

Galilee to this neighbourhood, and it was here that 

He asked His disciples the momentous question. 

Whom do men say that I am ? * The village of 

Bethsaida, on the north-eastern shores of the sea of 

Galilee, was also enlarged by the tetrarch, who 

changed its name to Julias,^ in honour of the 

notorious daughter of the emperor. He considered 

himself as a Gentile ruler, his coins being stamped 

with the head of Caesar and an impression of the 

heathen temple of Paneas.3 Of his marriage with 

Salome, a daughter of Herodias, there was no issue, 

and when he died in the reign of Tiberius (a.D. 

33-4), at the age of fifty- five, his territories were 

incorporated with the proconsulate of Syria. 


Herod Antipas (B.C. 4 to A.D. 39), Tetrarch of 

Galilee and Peraea, was also a man of a peace-loving 

disposition, and would in all probability have died in 

the position to which Augustus appointed him if he 

had regulated his private life with the same prudence 

as he conducted public affairs. He was a son of 

Herod the Great by Malthace, a Samaritan woman, 

and a full brother of Archelaus, who was a little his 

senior in age.”* Like most of Herod’s children he 

received a Roman education, and at one time it was 

the old king’s intention to appoint him sole heir of his 

possessions. It is probable that his father discerned 


‘ Matt. xvi. 13, s^. ; Josephiis, “Ant.,” xviii. 2. I. 

‘ The town received this name to distinguish it from Bethsaida, near 

Capernaum, the Bethsaida of the Gospels. 

3 Eckhel, ” Doctr. numor. vet.,” iii. 491. 

Josephus, ** Ant.,” xvii. i. 3 ; ” Bello Jud.,” i. 28. 4. 






Signs of ability in the young prince, or perhaps he had 

the good fortune not to incur the morbid suspicions 

of the aged king He was better liked in Herod’s 

family than Archelaus, and his relatives made every 

effort to induce Augustus to carry out the king’s 

earlier intentions with regard to the succession.^ But 

these efforts utterly failed, probably because Augustus 

no longer felt the necessity of preserving a large 

kingdom on the eastern frontiers of the empire, but 

more likely because he did not wish to interfere with 

the final arrangements of the deceased king. Accord- 

ingly Antipas, in spite of powerful voices being raised 

in his behalf, had to rest content with the provinces 

which his father finally assigned to him. 


Antipas was only seventeen years of age when he 

began to reign (B.C 4). His territories did not lie 

compactly together like the dominions of Archelaus* 

but they were not so difficult to govern, although the 

Galileans were a warlike and high-spirited people. In 

many respects Galilee was highly favoured by nature, 

and enjoyed a certain amount of commercial pros- 

perity, but shortly before passing into the hands of 

its young ruler it had suffered severely, in consequence 

of the unsettlement of the whole country after Herod’s 

death. Ruined towns and villages bore witness to the 

heavy chastisement inflicted on the people by the 

legions of Varus, and the fact that Antipas was sent 

to govern them by the same power which had so lately 

perpetrated these barbarities was not calculated to 

ensure him a warm welcome from his new subjects. 

He did not, however, meet with active opposition, and 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xvii. 6. 1 ; c/, xvii. 9. 4. 






perhaps the people, after their recent experiences of 

war and disorder, were glad of any change which 

promised a restoration of the tranquillity they had for 

so many years enjoyed. In the late troubles the 

important town of Sepphoris had been reduced to 

ruins, and its inhabitants sold as slaves ; Antipas 

showed the people his desire to do the utmost for the 

welfare of the land, by rebuilding it and making it 

the seat of government’ In the province of Peraea, 

which was exposed to the incursions of the wild sons 

of the desert, the tetrarch erected the fortress of 

Julias, on the eastern banks of the Jordan, opposite 

Jericho ; and to still further ensure the safety of his 

possessions in this region, he allied himself by mar- 

riage with a daughter of Aretas, the Nabatsean king, 

whose dominions here bordered on his own.* 


During the lifetime of Augustus (B.c. 4 to a.d. 14) 

Antipas, who knew that his princely position depended 

solely on his ability to preserve peace and content- 

ment among the population, acted with prudence and 

caution, and no complaint was made against him to 

the emperor. Still he never succeeded in securing 

the confidence of Augustus to the same extent as his 

father ; and when his brother Archelaus was deposed, 

Judxa and Samaria were not placed under his con- 

trol, as he probably had anticipated, but were incor- 

porated \yith the province of Syria. The sacred ties 

of blood had very little influence with the children of 

Herod, and one of the worst characteristics of Anti- 

pas was his utter want of fraternal feeling. When 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xviii. 2. I ; ” Bello Jud.,” ii. 9. I, 

» Ibid., “Ant.,” xviii. 5. i. 






his brother Archelaus was accused of tyranny by his 

subjects, Antipas, instead of attempting to shield him, 

in all probability did his best to procure his banish- 

ment (a.d, 6)J 


The accession of Tiberius to the imperial throne 

(A.D. 14 to A.D. 37) was an event of much importance 

to the tetrarch, for it changed the coldness of his pre- 

vious relations with the imperial court, and ultimately 

exalted him into the position of a confidential agent 

of the new Caesar.^ Tiberius was a man of a soured 

and suspicious temperament, who never thoroughly 

trusted his officials, and Antipas served the emperor^s 

purpose as a kind of spy on the Roman authorities 

charged with the administration of affairs in the East 

It is probably on this account that he was hated by 

Pontius Pilate, who was Procurator of Judaea during 

the latter part of the reign of Antipas ; for Pilate, who 

understood the character of Tiberius, would be well 

aware of the general nature of the correspondence 

which passed between the gloomy man on the Tiber 

and his vassal in Palestine.3 Vitellius, the Proconsul 

of Syria, also knew that Antipas was in the habit of 

sending secret communications to the emperor, and 

disliked him quite as much as Pilate.4 On one occa- 

sion he was deeply incensed at the underhand conduct 

of the Jewish prince. The proconsul had been 

requested by Tiberius to endeavour to conclude a 

treaty with the Persian king, Artabanus, and after he 

had carried the emperor’s wishes to a successful issue 


» Cy. Schenkel’s ” Bibel-Lexikon,” iu. 43. 


Josephus, ” Ant.,” xviii. 2. 3. 3 Luke xxiii 12, 


4 Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. 4. 5. 






he was mortified to find that Antipas, who accom- 

panied him to the Euphrates to meet the Persian 

king, had despatched an account of the whole pro- 

ceedings to Rome which anticipated his own. On the 

death of Tiberius, the proconsul made Antipas feel that 

he had not forgotten his resentment. 


Notwithstanding the hostility of the Roman officials 

Antipas retained the goodwill of the emperor to the 

last. As a token of gratitude to his patron he built a 

new capital on the western shores of the Sea of Galilee, 

and called it Tiberias. While the building operations 

were in progress, it was unfortunately discovered that 

an old graveyard occupied a portion of the site, a 

circumstance which caused the rabbis to declare the 

place unclean ; and it was some time before the Jews 

in any numbers could be induced to settle in the new 

capital. Although situated in one of the most beau- 

tiful districts of Galilee, it had the reputation of being 

unhealthy ; still, in spite of this serious disadvantage, 

the new city grew in a short time to be one of the 

most important places in Palestine. It was constructed 

in the Graeco Roman style of the period ; its inhabi- 

tants were mainly Gentiles, and besides the royal 

palace the public buildings consisted of an amphi- 

theatre, an arsenal, and latterly a synagogue.’ 


While Antipas was at the summit of his prosperity 

he set out on a journey to Rome * which proved to be 

the beginning of all his future misfortunes. During 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xviii. 2. 3 ; ” Vita,” ix. 12, jy. 


» Josephus gives no precise date for this journey. Kdm (Schenkel’s 

“Bibel-I^xikon,” iii. p. 44) supposes it took place about A.D. 34; 

Wieseler (in Hertog, i. 465-6), about A.D. 29. Comp. B. Weiss, 

** The Life of Christ ” (Eng. trans.), iL p. 53. 






his stay in the imperial city, he lived at the house 

of his half-brother Herod ‘ (Boethus) whose wife 

Herodias was a granddaughter of Mariamne, whom 

Herod the Great had executed in a fit of jealousy. 

Herodias was an ambitious woman, and disliked the 

private station to which her husband had been con- 

signed by his father’s will. Antipas, although no 

longer young, was unable to resist her charms, and it 

was secretly arranged between them that Herodias 

should desert her husband and become the tetrarch’s 

wife. One of the stipulations in this guilty arrange- 

ment was that Antipas should divorce the daughter 

of the Nabatasan king, to whom he had been married 

for a great number of years. By some means or 

other knowledge of this immoral compact reached 

the ears of the unfortunate princess, who was to be 

its principal victim, and she anticipated the action 

of her faithless husband by at once fleeing from his 

dominions to the court of her father at Petra. 

Aretas, who had not been on harmonious terms with 

Antipas for some time, on account of a territorial 

dispute, now decisively broke with him, and made 

preparations for war. Antipas, on his side, was not 

idle, but when the two armies came to blows, the 

forces of the tetrarch were thoroughly defeated, and 

he had to fall back for protection on the friendship 

of Tiberius. It is very probable that Antipas had 

obtained the emperor’s sanction to his new matri- 


» In Mark (vi. 17) this prince is called Philip; in Josephus 

(” Ant.,”xviii. 5. 4) he is merely called by the family name Herod. 

He must not be confounded with his brother Philip the Tetrarch men- 

tioned in Luke iii. I. 






monial arrangements, for he at once espoused the 

cause of his servile vassal, and gave orders to 

VitelHus to declare war against Aretas, and execute 

him or send him to Rome in bonds. To all appear- 

ance fortune was once more smiling upon the schemes 

of Antipas : VitelHus had completed the necessary 

preparations for the campaign ; the Roman legions 

were on the march ; the fate of Aretas was trembling 

in the balance, when all of a sudden the situation was 

completely changed by the unexpected news that 

Tiberius, the tetrarch’s protector, was dead. It was 

now that VitelHus found the long-sought- for opportu- 

nity of requiting Antipas for disclosing the contents of 

the Parthian treaty. He knew that the operations in 

which the army was engaged were intended to avenge 

the Jewish prince ; accordingly the proconsul, on the 

pretext that he was without orders from the new 

emperor, immediately declared the campaign at an 

end, and withdrew to Antioch. To be baffled in this 

manner when the victim was almost in his grasp 

must have been a bitter disappointment to Antipas, 

if it did not also fill him with a presentiment that his 

own downfall was nigh at hand.’ 


The war with Aretas was not the only difficulty in 

which Antipas became involved through his marriage 

with Herodias ; this unfortunate alliance also led him 

to deliver over John the Baptist to imprisonment and 

death.3 It was within the tetrarch’s dominions, in 

the province of Peraea that the preacher in the wilder- 


Josephus, ** Ant.,” xviii. 5. 1-3. 


‘ Malt. xiv. 3-4 ; Mark vi. 17-18 ; Luke UL 18. C/, Josephus 

**Ant.,”xviiL 5.2. 






ness exercised his public ministry, and in the course 

of his admonitions he felt it a duty to rebuke the 

moral delinquency of a ruler whose relations with 

Herodias were equally opposed to the Law of Moses 

and the conscience of mankind. Notwithstanding 

the solemn condemnation of his unlawful union, 

Antipas continued to respect the Baptist. It was 

only when he began to dread the political conse- 

quences of John’s missionary activity, that he listened 

to the advice of Herodias and cast the fiery preacher 

into prison.’ The place of confinement selected for 

the illustrious captive was the fortress of Machxrus 

on the Arabian frontier, chosen probably because it 

was far away from the religious excitement which was 

at that moment so profoundly agitating Jewish life. 

Here John was permitted a certain amount of free- 

dom ; his disciples were allowed to visit him, and 

through them he was enabled to communicate with 

the outside world. Antipas was not a man of a cruel 

or bloodthirsty disposition, and it is not probable that 

he ever intended to put the Baptist to death — his im- 

prisonment of John being rather a measure of pre- 

caution than an act of punishment — but it was not 

easy for him to defeat the settled purpose of a woman 

like Herodias. Her heart was set upon accomplishing 

the destruction of the man who had dared to lift up 

an accusing voice against the propriety of her actions. 

John had been a few months in confinement when the 

opportunity for satisfying her revenge unexpectedly 


‘ Josephus attributes the imprisonment of John to political motives, 

and the Gospels to Antipas’ unlawful marriage. It is probable that 

both motives were in action in the tetrarch’s mind. Comp. Keim, 

“Jesus of Nazara ” (Eng. trans.), vol. ii. pp. 332-3. 






arrived. It was on the occasion of Antipas* birthday. 

To celebrate this event the prince entertained the 

chief dignitaries of his dominions at a feast in the 

course of which the graceful dancing of Salome^ 

Hcrodias* daughter, so pleased the excited reveller 

that, in Oriental fashion, he promised the charming 

dancer anything she chose to ask, even to the half of 

his possessions. At the instigation of her mother the 

princess, to the tetrarch’s great astonishment and 

consternation, asked to be presented with the head of 

John the Baptist, and Antipas was weak enough to 

satisfy this atrocious request. The executioner soon 

did his work, and Herodias could at last exult in the 

fact that the burning words of the preacher in the 

wilderness would trouble her uneasy heart no more.’ 


John’s execution occurred before the defeat of the 

tetrarch’s army by the Nabataeans, and this defeat 

was attributed by his subjects to the foul manner in 

which he had taken the life of a man whom they 

all looked upon as fulfilling the sacred mission of a 

prophet It is very likely that Antipas himself 

shared the feelings of his subjects with respect to 

this bloody deed. It is certain that the Baptist’s 

death weighed heavily upon his mind, for when the 

fame of Jesus soon afterwards began to reach his ears, 

he seemed stricken with remorse, and said, ” It is John 

the Baptist ; he is risen from the dead.” Within the 

tetrarch’s dominions the greater part of Jesus’ public 

ministry took place. ‘ Here the first Christian com- 

munity was formed, consisting almost exclusively of 

the subjects of Antipas ; and such was the commotion 


‘ Matt. xiv. I-I2 ; Mark vL 14-29; Luke ix. 7-9. 






created among the people by the teachings of its 

Founder that the alarmed prince is said to have 

meditated making Jesus share the fate of John. This 

report, however, was very probably circulated by the 

enemies of Jesus, and had little or no foundation in 

fact. Antipas was not the kind of man to repeat an 

experiment which had already gravely endangered 

his popularity, and might easily have led to the 

downfall of his throne.’ 


Still, we can gather from the expression which 

Jesus uses concerning Antipas, that he had no faith in 

the fox-like character of the man. He avoided the 

capital of this prince, and although Antipas had a 

great desire to see Him, that desire was not gratified 

till he beheld Jesus as a prisoner at Jerusalem in the 

closing hours of His earthly life. Antipas was in the 

Holy City when Jesus was arrested and brought 

before the Roman procurator, and Pilate imagined it 

would be an easy way of escaping the responsibility 

of condemning One whom he believed to be innocent 

by sending Him for judgment to the ruler under 

whose jurisdiction He had passed the greater portion 

of His public life. But Antipas, although he availed 

himself of the opportunity of gratifying a long- 

standing curiosity, and permitted Jesus to be brought 

before him, took care at the same time to express no 

definite judgment upon the case, and left Pilate to 

bear the odium of pronouncing a condemnation in 

which he disbelieved.’* 


* Meyer (” Exegetisches Handbuch, Sechste Auflage “) on Luke xiii 

31-35 considers that Antipas made use of the Pharisees to frighten Jesus 

out of his dominions. 


Matt, xxvii. 1 1-31 ; Mark xv. 2-20 ; Luke xxiii. 2-25. ** Er (Antipas) 






The death of Tiberius (a.d. 37) was a severe blow 

to the fortunes of the Jewish prince, and soon after 

the accession of Cah’gula to the empire the foolish 

ambition of Herodias brought about the tetrarch’s 

deposition and banishment The same feeling which 

prompted this restless woman to desert her former 

husband now urged her on to torment Antipas into 

seeking the royal dignity from the new emperor, 

Caligula before ascending the throne was a bosom 

friend of Agrippa, a brother of Herodias, and when 

he became emperor, Agrippa (a.d. 37) was made ruler 

of the territories formerly in possession of Philip, being 

likewise elevated to the position of a king. Her 

brother’s sudden rise of fortune aroused the jealousy 

of Herodias, and although Antipas had no desire for 

additional honours, she persuaded him against his 

own inclinations to go with her to Rome, and sue the 

new emperor for the name of king. Agrippa, on 

hearing of the departure of his relatives for the 

imperial city, determined, if possible, to defeat the 

object of their journey and foil his sister’s cherished 

wish. In former days when Agrippa’s future was 

overcast, and his position one of poverty and em- 

barrassment, Antipas, although for a time befriending 

him, at last subjected the unfortunate prince to gross 

indignities which he would not readily forget 

Agrippa’s time had now come ; while Herodias and 

her husband were on the way to Rome, he des- 

patched a messenger to his patron, the emperor, with 


ist der Mann nicht, ohne Noth eines zweiten Propheten Blut auf sich 

zu laden, um dem ihm abgeneigten Procurator eine Verlegenheit ab- 

zunehmen” (Hausrath, ‘* Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte,” i. pp. 








the information that Antipas was a disloyal vassal, 

and had at that moment in his arsenals a stock of 

arms sufficient to equip seventy thousand men. In 

his interview with Antipas the emperor asked him if 

these allegations were true. As the tetrarch was 

obliged to admit that he had a large quantity of 

war material in his fortresses, Caligula concluded 

that Agrippa’s accusations were well founded, and 

that Antipas was making preparations to throw 

off the imperial yoke. It is extremely improbable 

that the tetrarch had any ideas of the kind ; still he 

had committed the fatal mistake of arousing sus- 

picion ; his doom was sealed. Caligula forthwith 

deposed him, confiscated his private property, which, 

along with his dominions, he bestowed upon Agrippa, 

and banished the hapless prince to Gaul for the 

remainder of his life ^ (A.D. 39). When this crowning 

calamity fell upon her husband, Herodias rose 

superior to her antecedents, and acted with the 

greatest magnanimity. She had been the immediate 

cause of his misfortunes, and she was willing to be 

the sharer of his fate. When Caligula told her that 

she should be allowed to retun her estates and live 

where she pleased, she answered him in these noble 

words, “The love which I have for my husband 

prevents me, O Caesar, from accepting of thy favour ; 

and since I have been his partner in prosperity it is 

not right for me to abandon him in misfortune.” ^ 


It has already been narrated that Augustus, after 

Herod the Great’s death, appointed Archelaus with the 


« Josephus, ** Bell. Jud.,” ii. 9. 6 ; “Ant,” xviiL 7. I, & 

« Ibid.. “Ant.,”xviii, 7. 2. 







in II 


rii S^ 

J ^a 
























































u ‘ 
























title of Ethnarch (B.C 4 to A.I). 6) to the most im- 

portant division of his father’s kingdom — the provinces 

of Judsea and Samaria This prince’s reign was brief 

and inglorious. He was the elder son of Malthace,’ 

the mother of the tetrarch Antipas, and was born, as 

far as can be ascertained, about the year 21 B.C. It 

is evident that Herod at one time did not intend him 

to occupy the high position which afterwards fell to 

his lot, for when he was sent to Rome with his 

brothers Philip and Antipas to receive a Western 

education, his father put him under the care of a 

Roman unconnected with public affairs. Herod’s 

elder children while in Rome had lived with Asinius 

Pollio,^ a man of consular dignity. They had also 

the option of making Caesar’s palace their home, but 

the king, having in view the humbler future of his 

younger children, deemed it sufficient to place them 

in less illustrious hands. When Archelaus returned to 

Palestine towards the close of his father’s life (B.C. 5), 

the evil genius of the Herodian family, his elder brother 

Antipater, made insidious accusations against him 

to the aged king.3 Even after Herod had discovered 

the lying villany of Antipater, so suspicious was his 

nature, that he could not shake off the feeling that 


« Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” i. 28. 4. 


‘ Ibid.,” Ant.,” xv. 10, I. It is now generally believed that this Asinius 

PoUio is the man to whom Virgil wrote his celebrated fourth eclogue, in 

which he describes the birth of a miraculous child, and his great destiny 

in such glowing colours, that St. Augustine considered them to refer to 

Christ (Epist 258). Before the fathers at the Council of Nicxa the 

Emperor Constantine read a great part of this eclogue to prove the 

divinity of Christ. C/. Gaston Boissier, ” La Religion Romaine,” 

L 256, s^, 


» Josephus, “Ant.,” xviiL i. 3. 4, 3. 






Antipater’s calumnies had some foundation, and in 

his last will but one he excluded both Philip and 

Archelaus from all share in the inheritance, appoint- 

ing as his successor their younger brother Antipas. 

But in the closing days of his life the bewildered 

king, feeling probably that he had committed an 

injustice again altered his mind, and Augustus con- 

firmed the unhappy old man’s final arrangements 

with respect to Archelaus, only withholding from him 

the title of king till he showed signs of deserving 

that distinction.! 


At the time of Herod’s death Archelaus was only 

eighteen years of age, and troubles began to thicken 

on his path at the very outset of his public career. 

The people felt that the heavy hand of his father was 

removed, and discontent began to show itself before 

Augustus had confirmed the young prince in his new 

position.^ Archelaus attempted to satisfy the mal- 

contents by assuring them that their grievances 

would be taken into consideration after his return 

from Rome. But the people were impatient for an 

immediate settlement of their wrongs, and at last 

their attitude became so menacing, that Archelaus 

found it necessary to disperse them by forces (rc. 4). 

The execution of this measure was accompanied with 

such terrible severity, that the prince immediately 

alienated not only his future subjects, but the mem- 

bers of his own family as well. His aunt Salome 

had been making efforts to win over the people after 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant,” xvii. 6. I. ‘ Ibid., “Ant.,” xvii 9. i. 


‘ Ibid.. “Ant.” xvii. 9. 3. 






Herod’s death by a policy of mercy ; » but all these 

attempts at conciliation were for ever frustrated by 

the ill-considered barbarity of Archelaus. Salome 

now became his pronounced opponent, and on his 

arrival at Rome he had many hostile influences 

standing between him and the favour of the emperor. 

His claims to the inheritance were resisted by almost 

all his relatives, as well as by Sabinus, the imperial 

procurator, and a body of representatives from Judaea 

whom Varus had allowed to go to Rome for that 

purpose. Augustus hesitated in the face of so strong 

an opposition ; but, finally deciding to abide by the 

main provisions of Herod’s will, he exhorted Arche- 

laus to make a mild use of his authority.^ 


It is possible that the emperor’s counsels produced 

a certain impression on the newly-appointed ethnarch, 

for we do not find him violating Jewish religious 

feeling to the same extent as his father. In his reign 

no offensive heathen edifices were constructed, and if 

heathen amusements were still permitted, they did 

not exist on a scale calculated to outrage national 

ideas. The coinage of the period is perfectly free 

from the heathen symbols which Philip did not fear 

to use in the north of Palestine.3 He followed his 

father’s footsteps by frequently effecting changes in 

the high-priesthood. But his action in this respect 


‘ A reminiscence of Salome’s humanity immediately after her 

brother’s death is preserved in the Megillat Taanit. In this chronicle 

she is represented as the wife of King Jannseus Alexander, but all the 

circumstances fit in with the death of Herod. C/i Derenbourg, 

** Histoire de la Palestine,” pp. 164-5. 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xvii. 13. 2. 


3 F. de Saulcy, ” Kecherches sur la numismatique judaique,” p. 133. 






may have proceeded as much from prudence as from 

choice, although the growth of the synagogue was 

no doubt imperceptibly undermining the political 

importance of the high priest. A hereditary love 

of magnificence induced the ethnarch to rebuild the 

palace at Jericho, which had been destroyed in the 

late civil convulsions ; and from a desire to hand 

down his name to posterity he founded the town of 

Archelais, a little to the north of the newly-restored 

palace.^ Archelaus* deference to the Law did not 

prevent him from setting its ordinances aside when 

they stood in the way of his passions. It is expressly 

laid down in the Mosaic legislation, that a man shall 

not marry his brother’s widow if her marriage has 

been blessed with children. But Archelaus treated 

this injunction as if it did not exist, and putting away 

his own wife, he allied himself with his brother’s 

widow, Glaphyra, who was already the mother of two 

children. At Rome such a proceeding would have 

been perfectly legitimate, and was not an uncommon 

occurrence. But a prudent prince would have avoided 

Roman precedent, and followed the sentiments of his 

own subjects, even if he had ceased to share them. 

In other respects this marriage was imprudent 

Glaphyra, during her previous residence in Jerusalem 

as the wife of Herod’s son Alexander, had been a 

fruitful source of irritation in the Herodian family,* 

and the folly of her behaviour was one of the causes 

which aroused Herod’s suspicion, and led him to take 

the terrible step of putting his son to death. Time, 

however, appears to have worked a change for the 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant,” xvii. 13. i. » Ibid., ” Bell. Jud.,” i. 24. 2. 






better in the character of this princess, for on her 

return to Jerusalem, the city where she had spent the 

first days of married h*fe, her mind began to brood on 

the wrongs she had done her murdered husband. In 

her dreams she saw him once again ; she heard his 

reproaching voice ; a sickness fell upon her and she 



The wise admonitions of Augustus did not have a 

permanent effect on the conduct of his vassal in Judsea. 

Despotism and barbarity were essential elements in 

his character which could not be effectively restrained. 

His rule at last became so intolerable that the Jews 

and Samaritans for a time abandoned the spirit of 

antipathy which had separated them for centuries, 

and united together for the purpose of securing the 

deposition of Archelaus and freedom from his odious 

tyranny. In this enterprise they were assisted by 

the relatives of Archelaus, and a deputation from 

Palestine represented to Augustus that the ethnarch 

had disregarded the imperial commands, and was a 

tyrant among his subjects. These reports incensed 

the emperor, and Archelaus’s agent in Rome was 

sent to Palestine with orders to bring his master back 

to Italy to answer the charges preferred against him. 

Archelaus had a presentiment ^ that his downfall was 

near at hand, and appears to have been brooding 

over it when the summons calling upon him to 

proceed to Rome arrived. His guilt was established 

to Caesar’s satisfaction ; he was banished to Vienne 


‘ After Alexander’s execution Glaphyra married Juba, king of Libya, 

and on the death of this prince she returned to her father Archelaus, 

king of Cappadocia. C/. Dio Cassius, liii. 26; Josephus, “Ant,” 

xviL 13. 1-4. ‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xvii. 13. 3. 






in Gaul,^ the ethnarchy was abolished, and Judaea 

became a Roman province (a.d. 6). The despotic 

character or Archelaus is alluded to in the Gospel 

narrative, where it is mentioned that the holy family 

on their return from Egypt avoided his dominions 

and settled in Galilee, under the milder rule of his 

brother Antipas.” 


‘ Atchelaus died in Gaol. Cf. Dio Cassius, l»ii. 17. 


‘ Matt. ii. ax. la xhe parable of the Ten Pieces o( Monty (Luke 

xix. 11-37) some writers see an allusbn to the events connected with 

the commencement of Archelaus’s reign. C/, Hausrath, ” Neutesta- 

mentliche Zeitgeschichte,” i. 331. Meyer, ” Ktitisch Eiegetisches 

Handbuch, Sechste AuAage, Lukas,” lii. 12. The reference to Ihe 

doii^of Archelaus is sovngue thai I see no solid’ ground for assuming 

that the parable has a historic lacl as ils liasis. 






(Translation : ” Blessed be His name for ever.”) 

(Bj> ftrmisiien t>f tlu Cemmittet ef Iht Paialine Exptoratim 






(A.D. 6-37.) 


The deposition and banishment of Archelaus 

deprived Judaea of the external appearance of an 

independent state, and the humblest peasant in the 

country could now clearly realize that the land which 

had been promised to his fathers, and for which 

the Maccabees had so heroically shed their blood, 

was once more in possession of the Gentiles. For 

about one hundred and fifty years Judaea had 

possessed the outward semblance of an independent 

existence. Although the nation was- for a portion of 

that time in a position of vassalage to the great 

empire of the West, that position was but slightly 

felt by the vast body of the people, and was to some 

extent obliterated by the outward brilliancy and 

enterprise which illustrated the long reign of Herod 

the Great. As long as the Herodian family reigned 

in Jerusalem it was possible for the population of 

Judcca to cherish the illusion that they were a free 

people ; but with the disappearance of the ethnarch 

and the advent of a Roman governor, the eyes of all 






were opened to the fact that the era of liberty had 

come to an end. Still, the change was of their own 

creation ; the new order of things was not forced 

upon them from without. For many years it had 

been the ardent wish of the popular leaders to get 

rid of the Idumsean dynasty, and they must have 

known that when this desire was gratified the pressure 

of Roman rule would be felt in every corner of 

the land. The deputation which asked Augustus to 

depose Archelaus was anxious ‘ to be placed under 

the immediate jurisdiction of Rome ; and it is possible 

that Augustus would have satisfied Jewish feeling at 

an earlier date if he had not been bound by a pledge 

to Herod to the effect that he would carry out the 

provisions of the king’s will with respect to the 

succession. The tyrannical conduct of Archelaus ab- 

solved him from further obligations to the dead king, 

and he now possessed a free hand in dealing with 

Jewish affairs. Strangely enough the wishes of the 

Jewish delegates coincided with the drift of imperial 

policy. Augustus was discovering the inconveniences 

connected with the existence of vassal states within 

the empire, and their extinction was only a matter of 



In all probability the men who had succeeded in 

obtaining the deposition of Archelaus anticipated that 

Judaea would be incorporated with the neighbouring 

province of Syria, and that the Jews, except in the 


‘ “De toutes parts on entendait le calme dont jouissaient les provin- 

daux, et le pays rest^ independants imploraicnt Thonneur d etre admis 

au nombre des sujets de Tempire” (Duruy, **Histoire des Romains,” 

iii. 248). 


‘ Mommsen, ** Romische Geschichte,’* v. 509. 






matter of taxation, would practically possess the 

management of their own affairs. Augustus, how- 

ever, quickly dissipated all such expectations. The 

territories of Judasa were too . extensive to be left 

without strict imperial supervision; the population 

was too turbulent ; the strategic importance of the 

country as a highway between Syria and Egypt was 

too great. Besides, the proconsulate of Syria was 

already the most important in the whole empire, and 

it was against the principles of the administration to 

put additional power in the hands of the great mili- 

tary governors, as they might be tempted to use it for 

the purpose of opposing Caesar himself. Augustus 

accordingly decided to form the territories of Arche- 

laus into an independent province of the second rank, 

and to place an imperial procurator at the head of 

civil and military affairs (A D. 6).’ 


Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, Governor of Syria, was 

charged by Augustus with the task of constituting 

Judaea into an imperial province, and of re-organizing 

the administration upon Roman principles. Quirinius 

did not belong to an ancient family ; but the tendency 

of the empire was to abolish all privileges of birth, 

and to throw open the highest offices to every citizen. 

Quirinius,* by the exercise of soldierly talents, and by 

his zeal in the service of the state attracted the atten- 


‘ “Alle grossern Konigreiche sind bei der Einziehung nicht den 

benachbarten giossen Statthalterschaften zugelegt worden, deren Macht- 

fiille zu steigern nicht in der Tendenz dieser Epoche liegt, sondem zu 

selbststandigen meist zuerst ritterlichen Statthalterschaften gemacht 

worden” (Mommsen, v. 509-510, note 1). 


For Quirinius c/. Tacitus, ” Annals,” iii. 48 and 22. Tacitus speaks 

of him as ” impiger militise, et acribus ministeriis.” 






tion of the emperor, who raised him to the rank of 

senator and consul, and finally promoted him to the 

governorship of Syria. Before his nomination to this 

important position he had repeatedly served in the 

East, and possessed a large and varied experience in 

the conduct of affairs in this part of the Roman 



The first business of Quirinius on his arrival in 

Jerusalem was to make preparations for taking a 

census of the population, with a view to ascertain the 

wealth of the province and the extent of its capacity 

for taxation.’ The Roman method of arriving at this 

result consisted in dividing the country into a certain 

number of districts ; each district had to furnish a 

return of the population and property contained 

within its limits, and to submit it to the governor. On 

the basis of this return taxation was afterwards levied. 

The principles upon which taxation was imposed were 

founded on the nature of the relations which the 

Romans considered to exist between themselves and 

the provincials. According to Roman ideas, when a 

people had been overthrown and made incapable of 

further resistance to Roman arms, both the people 

and their possessions became the absolute property 

of Rome. But it was found impracticable to carry 

out this theory after the conquerors had become 

masters of large portions of the globe. 


Accordingly the conquered nations were allowed to 

retain their liberty subject to the payment of a capi- 

tation or poll tax {iributum capitis), and also their 

property subject to the payment of a tax on the 


‘ Marquardt, ** Staatsverwaltung,” ii. 182, sq. 






produce of the soil {tributum soli).^ Other taxes, 

chiefly for local purposes, such as the maintenance of 

roads and bridges, were also levied, but the largest 

part of the revenue was derived from the land and 

the poll tax. The poll tax was regarded as a most 

degrading form of impost, and was considered to 

emphasize the fact that the people who paid it were 

no longer in possession of liberty. The poll tax was 

not, however, so burdensome as the land tax, which 

ranged in amount from a tenth to a fourth of the 

whole harvest, if it was not, as frequently happened, 

commuted to a fixed sum, which the provincials 

agreed to pay to the imperial treasury. 


In the days of Herod and Archelaus the Roman 

system of taxation was not in operation in Judaea, 

and it is very unlikely that the Jews had any pay- 

ments or returns to make to the imperial treasury as 

long as these princes conducted their affairs; The 

leaders of the disaffected who waited upon Augustus 

were undoubtedly aware that one of the first conse- 

quences of incorporation would be an alteration of 

the existing fiscal system, and its assimilation with 

the fiscal arrangements which were in force in other 

parts of the empire. But this important fact was un- 

known to the bulk of the population, and when the 

news spread throughout the province that every 

Jewish householder would have to render a complete 

account of his property to Gentile officials, the greatest 

consternation immediately ensued.^ It was certainly 

not the intention of Augustus to act harshly towards 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xviii. 4. 3 ; Tacitus, i. 78, xiii. 50, sq. 

Josephus, “Ant. Jud.,” xviii. 1. 








\Bji ftrmiaien ef Iht Conimiitai of the PaUstint Exploration Fund. ) 






a people that had just been imploring him to take 

them under his immediate protection and control, but 

the administration of the new province had to be 

carried on ; for this purpose taxation had to be im- 

posed, and in order to make it equitable it was indis- 

pensable to have a census of the population and an 

accurate return of their property. In carrying out 

the instructions of the emperor, Quirinius, with his 

experience of the East and its peculiarities, would no 

doubt take Jewish susceptibilities into consideration 

as far as this was practicable, but he appears to have 

overlooked, or been unaware of, the fact that a census 

taken after the Roman manner ^ involved a violation 

of the Mosaic Law. It was from this point of view 

that it was regarded by the masses, and the punish- 

ment which Jehovah inflicted on David for numbering 

the people would not be forgotten. Besides, if it was 

absolutely necessary to obtain a census of the popu- 

lation, why should it be taken in conformity with 

heathen custom ? v/hy were the regulations which the 

Law 2 laid down to be discarded, and the people 

exposed to the chastisement of God for their neglect ? 

These were questions which must have deeply agitated 

multitudes in Judaea when the time came for filling 

up the required returns, and it needed all the 

authority of the High Priest Joazar to induce them 

to comply with the demands of the Roman gover- 



Although the census was in the last resort sub- 


‘ It is most iiDprol>able that the census was taken on the Jewish plan. 

Cf, Hausrath, i 339. 

” Exod. XXX. 11-16. 3 Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. i. 






mittcd to as inevitable, the enforcement of it created 

a widespread spirit of discontent, and led to the 

formation of an intransigeant party, whose one rally- 

ing cry was irreconcilable hatred of Rome. This new 

party was mainly recruited from the ranks of the 

Pharisees, and the programme of its leaders consisted 

in a determination to carry out in the political domain 

the Pharisaic principle, that the payment of taxes to 

the foreigner was an act of dishonour to the God of 

Israel.’ The Scribes shrank back from the practical 

application of their doctrines, and contented them- 

selves with holding up the collectors of taxes « (the 

publicans of the New Testament) to the moral 

reprobation of their co-religionists ; but the Zealots,3 

the name adopted by the new party, were not satis- 

fied with these paltry and ineffective methods ; they 

were resolved to resist Roman domination by force of 

arms. According to the teaching of the Zealots, 

Jehovah was the only and supreme ruler of Israel, 

His elect people ; to Him alone was tribute due, and 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. i. 6. C/. Hausrath, ” Neutestamentliche 

Zeitgeschichte, Die Zeit Jesu,” p. 339. 


‘ Those tax collectors were not Roman officials. The Roman govern- 

ment did not collect the taxes itself. It sold the right to collect the 

taxes of a given district to private persons for a fixed sum annually ; in 

other words, the taxes were farmed. The people who acquired this 

right were rich capitalists ; they hired subordinates to do the actual work 

of collecting. The capitalists, or farmers of the taxes, were called by the 

Romans publicani ; the men who are called publicans in the English 

version of the New Testament were the subordinates of the publiccmi. 

As the Roman government was unable to exercise an efficient check 

on the tax-gatherers, the people were frequently subjected to cruel 

extortions. Cf. Marquardt, ii. 298, sq, 


‘ They were called Zealots on account of their zeal for the Law, and 

probably with reference to the dying exhortation of Mattathias to his 

sons (i Mace, ii 49-50). 






in order to maintain this doctrine they were prepared 

to stake their lives and shed their blood. Both the 

Zealot and the scribe believed that the dominion of 

the Gentiles over God’s chosen p>eople was a transi- 

tory disaster which must come to an end. Rut while 

the scribe resigned himself to heathen supremacy in 

the full conviction that God would speedily deliver 

Israel, and lift His people into an exalted position 

among the nations, the Zealot became impatient of 

this passive attitude, and proclaimed the principle 

that God would deliver them when He saw them 

making exertions to deliver themselves.’ Many 

diverse elements entered into the composition of the 

party of the Zealots. Its higher forces consisted of 

patriots, enthusiasts, and exalted visionaries ; but by 

its proclamation of war to the knife against Rome 

and every friend of Rome, Zealotism also enrolled 

under its standard a class of men who, in the guise of 

religion and patriotism, were playing the vulgar part 

of robbers and assassins. It was a party which grew 

in popularity as the inexorable character of Roman 

rule became better understood, and it is a remarkable 

circumstance that Simon, a disciple of Jesus, was at 

one time a Zealot* 


The man who stood at the head of this new move- 

ment, and to some extent originated it, was a certain 

Judas,3 called the ” Galilean,” a native of Gamala, in 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant.,” xviiL I ff. Cf. Kuenen, ” National Religions 

and Universal Religions,” p. 223. 


‘ Luke vi. 15; c/. Mark iii. 19; Reuss, “Histoire ^vang^lique,” p. 



3 For Judas c/. Acts v. 27 ; Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. i. 1-6, xx. 

5.2; ” Bell. Jud.,” U. 8. I and n. 17. 8. 






Gaulonitis. He was a passionate enthusiast, whose 

sole idea was to propagate the great cause he had in 

hand. The fiery intensity of his convictions exercised 

a marvellous fascination over the masses, and numbers 

of young men placed themselves under his leader- 

ship. It is probable that Judas was in Jerusalem 

when Quirinius arrived < and proclaimed his intention 

of instituting a census, and that this announcement 

kindled his slumbering patriotism into flame. At all 

events he forthwith set himself in opposition to the 

new government, and inflamed the passions of the 

ignorant and fanatical population by declaring to 

them that the proposed census was nothing but the 

first step towards slavery. In exalted tones he 

adjured them to uphold their liberties, and repu- 

diating the passive doctrines of the Pharisees, he 

declared that none but cowards would pay tribute to 

Rome. The passionate exhortations of the Galilean 

met with a warm response ; an insurrection broke 

out, Judas perished, and his followers were dispersed. 

But the Zealots did not die, as Gamaliel imagined, 

with the fall of their first leader ; the flame of his 

teaching still burned in the hearts of the people, and 

when at last the terrible war broke out which termi- 


‘ Graetz, “Geschichte der Juden,” iii. 277. In the article on Judas 

in Heriog (vii. 272) the writer states that the insurrection took place 

in Galilee, but at this period (a.d. 6-7) Galilee was in the hands of 

Antipas. The exhortations of Judas .to resist the census would be in- 

applicable to the Galileans who were not being subjected to it ; it was 

the Judseans who were exhorted, and it is reasonable to supix)se that it 

would be they who rose up in insurrection. Josephus (xvii. 13. 5), it is 

true, states that the census extended over the whole of Syria (ajron^iy- 

oofuvoc rd iv SvfMa), but this expression evidently refers to that portion 

of Syria under the immediate control of Rome. 






nated in the destruction of Jerusalem, the Zealots 

became the soul of the resistance, and Rome had no 

rest till they were utterly exterminated. 


When the revolt of Judas was quelled, and 

Quirinius had completed the arrangements connected 

with the formation of Judaea into an imperial 

province, the duty of carrying on the government fell 

into the hands of Coponius (A.D. 6-9), a Roman 

knight who was appointed by Augustus administrator 

of the country. As Judaea was constituted into a 

province of the second rank, the head of the ad- 

ministration was not chosen from the same class, and 

did not hold such a distinguished position as the 

senatorial proconsuls and the imp>erial legates. In 

order to mark the difference between him and these 

high officials, he was known by the title of Procurator, 

but he performed substantially the same functions as 

the imperial legates. Like them he was entrusted 

with full military and judicial powers.’ The troops 

at the disposal of the procurator of Judaea never 

amounted to more than three thousand men ; the 

main body was stationed at Caesarea, which now 

became the capital ; ^ the rest, consisting of a small 

detachment, formed the garrisons of Jerusalem and 

Samaria. On the recurrence of the great Jewish 

festivals, and especially at the feast of the Passover, 

the garrison of Jerusalem was strengthened in order 

to overa\^e the tumultuous multitudes that then 


* The full title was ” Procurator et prseses or procurator pro legato or 

procurator cum jure gladii.” For further det »ils respecting the position 

and duties of procurators, cf, Marquardt, i 554 ff. 


» Josephus, ” Ant,” xix. 9, 1-2 ; cf. Tacitus, ** Hist..” ii 78. 






crowded into the Holy City from all parts of the 

empire. On these occasions the procurator generally 

went up to Jerusalem at the head of the reinforce- 

ments, and resided in one of the Herodian palaces, 

where he administered justice and transacted affairs.’ 

The procurator also visited every part of the province 

at least once a year, and in the principal towns heard 

the complaints of the provincials and redressed their 

grievances. For these services the procurator received 

an annual salary from the imperial treasury, and was 

forbidden to accept bribes or presents from the people 

over whom he ruled. He had to superintend the 

collection of the taxes, but he had no power of in- 

creasing them. These measures were adopted by the 

emperors for the protection of the provincials from 

the terrible extortion to which they were frequently 

subjected in the days of the Republic ; and if a 

governor went beyond the limits of his authority it 

was in the power of the people whom he had 

oppressed to call him to account for his misdeeds at 

Rome.« But the habit of extortion had taken deep 

root among the official classes, and in spite of all 

the regulations of the Caesars some of the Judaean 

procurators committed gross acts of tyranny and 

corruption, and had no small share in fostering the 

disaflfection which led to the downfall and destruction 

of the Jewish state.3 


It is difficult to say with certainty whether the 


* In Mark this palace is called the Praetorium, cf. Mark xv. 16 ; 

Matt, xxvii. 27 ; Josephus, ** Bell. Jud.,” ii. 14. 8. 


Marquardt, i. 557-8. 


3 C/. Aclsxxiv. 26; Josephus, ” Ant.,” xx. 11. i ; “BelL Jud.,” iL 

14. 2. 






procurators of Judaea were in a position of subordi- 

nation to the governor of Syria,’ or whether they 

were entirely independent of him. It seems more 

probable that they occupied a position of official 

independence, and were responsible for the adminis- 

tration of affairs within the province to the emperor 

alone. In certain cases the legate of Syria did un- 

doubtedly interfere in Judaea, but these interferences 

only took place when he was invested by the emperor 

with extraordinary powers. As a rule the functions 

of the two officials appear to have been quite separate 

and distinct, and the fact that the governor of Syria 

required to be armed with special authority from 

Rome before he could take legal action in Judaea, 

goes far to show that the heads of the two provinces, 

although different in rank, were completely indepen- 


‘ According to Josephus, the procurators were subordinate to the 

legates of Syria, and he mentions two of these legates — Vitellius, in the 

reign of Tiberius ; and Quadratus, in the reign of Claudius — who de- 

prived the procurators of their functions. Cf. *’Ant.,’* xviii. 4. 2, and 

XX. 6. 2 ; ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 12. 5, sq. But it has been urged that these 

legates are not a fair type of the ordinary Syrian governor, as they were 

both invested for special purposes with unusual powers, and the words 

of Tacitus certainly bear out this view. Of Vitellius, Tacitus (” Ann.,” 

vi. 32) says, *’ Et cunctis quae apud Orientem parabantur L. Vitellium 

prsefecit.” These words evidently mean that Til^erius had given Vitellius 

full power not only in Syria, but throughout the East. This power was 

given him for the special purpose of overthrowing the Parthian king. 

Of Quadratus, Tacitus expressly says that he required special authority 

from Claudius before he could take action in Judaea : ” Cumanus et 

Felix cunctationem afferebant, quia Claudius, causis rebellionis auditis, 

jusstatuendi etiam de procuratoribus dederat ” (” Ann.,” xiL 54). Quad- 

ratus would accordingly appear to be the normal type of governor, and, 

if this be so, it is plain that the Syrian l^ates did not till specially in- 

structed, possess the right of interference in Jewish affairs. Cf. Duruy, 

iii. 224, and Mommsen, v. 509. 






dent of one another in ordinary circumstances. The 

procurator was, like the Syrian legate, appointed 

directly by the emperor, and acted as his immediate 

representative in accordance with strictly defined 

instructions. He had to keep his imperial master 

regularly informed of everything of importance that 

occurred within his jurisdiction, and was not allowed 

to act on his own initiative in matters of serious 

moment till he had received instructions from Rome. 

These arrangements produced a most salutary effect 

upon the government of the provinces, and went a 

great way towards holding in check the hereditary 

instincts of rapacity which characterized Roman 



During the ascendency of the Romans Judaea was 

divided for administrative purposes into ten or eleven 

districts or toparchies.’ Local councils consisting 

according to the extent of the locality, of from seven 

to twenty-three members, were in existence through- 

out the province, and these councils enjoyed con- 

siderable authority both in criminal and administrative 

affairs.^ Over these local bodies stood the Senate or 

Sanhedrin of Jerusalem as a kind of superior council 

for the whole province. This council, besides exer- 

cising a spiritual authority which was co-extensive 

with Judaism, was also empowered to give legal 

decisions and to frame administrative regulations 

within Judaea in all matters which lay beyond the 

competence of the smaller provincial councils.3 All 


« Pliny, ” Hist. Nat.,” v. 14. 70, says ten ; Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” 

iii. 3. 5, says eleven. 


» Josephus, “Bell. Jud.,” ii. 14. i; Matt. x. 17; Mark xiiL 9; 

Schuerer, ‘* Geschichte,” ii. 135. 3 Schuerer, ii. 159. 






criminal offences committed by Jews were within the 

jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin, but when the punish- 

ment decreed against an offender involved his 

execution, this extreme sentence required to be 

confirmed by the procurator before it could legally 

take effect.* Charges of blasphemy and of trans- 

gressing the Law were heard by this tribunal « and 

even Roman citizens accused of profaning the Temple 

had to appear before it.3 The Sanhedrin also main- 

tained a police force ; 4 and in all matters of faith, 

custom, and law, where Roman interests were not at 

stake, this council, as well as the inferior provincial 

councils, possessed a wide-extending and effective 

power. The procurator, however, was not in any 

way bound by the decisions of the local bodies, and 

he could nullify their action, when such a course 

seemed to him expedient As the representative of 

Caesar, he had power to nominate or dismiss the 

high priest, a power which was frequently exercised. 

He alone possessed full jurisdiction over Roman 

citizens, and a sentence of death had no legal force 

till it was confirmed by him.s But notwithstanding 

these restrictions, the Jewish authorities enjoyed 

more local liberty under Roman rule than they had 

done under their own princes, for it was a fixed 

principle with the imperial government to leave the 

enforcement of local laws and the management of 




* John xviii. 31. ” Matt. xxvi. 65 ; Acts xxiii. 


3 Josephus, ** Bell. Jud.,” vi. 2. 4. * Matt. xxvi. 47. 


s Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, says the Talmud, 

judgment in matters of life and death was taken away from Israel. C/. 

Lightfoot, ” Horse Hebraicse et Talmudicae ; ” Matt xxvi. 3. 















{By permission of the Committee of the Palestine Exploration 








national institutions as much as possible in the hands 

of the subject races. 


For some length of time the Roman system of 

administration appears to have worked with com- 

parative smoothness.’ The deep-seated opposition 

to Gentile rule was so promptly checked by the 

defeat of Judas the Galilaean that it did not dare to 

manifest itself in open acts of hostility. Under 

Coponius the old feud between the Samaritans and 

the Jews acquired fresh life.^ Certain Samaritans, 

wishing to be avenged on the Jews for the calamities 

which they had inflicted on Samaria, came to the 

Temple at dead of night and scattered dead men’s 

bones in the sacred edifice. It is not said that the 

desecrators were brought to justice, but Coponius, 

fearing that a repetition of such acts might bring 

popular passion to a dangerous height, took care to 

have the Temple more closely guarded for the future. 

Shortly after this disagreable incident a new procura- 

tor was appointed — Marcus Ambivius (A.D. 9-12), — 

but his administration proved uneventful ; and, whilst 

his successor, Annius Rufus (A.D. 12-15), ^” equally 

unimportant personage, was at the head of affairs 

in Judaea, the long reign of Augustus came to an 



In the course of his reign Augustus had steadily 

displayed a friendly interest in the Jews, and although 

he had no love for Judaism, or indeed for any foreign 

religion,^ he adopted a conciliatory attitude towards 


‘ Keim, ‘* Jesus of Nazara*’ (Eng. trans.)* vol. i. p. 264. 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. 2. 2. 


3 *’ At contra non modo in peragranda JEgypio pauUo deflectere ad 






every form of faith, and allowed perfect liberty of 

worship to the Jewish communities which existed 

among the heathen populations of the empire. In 

Judaea itself he exhibited the same consideration for 

the religious ideas and customs of the inhabitants ; 

the imperial family sent presents of sacred vessels 

for the use of the Temple, and a burnt sacrifice of 

a bullock and two rams was daily offered up at the 

emperor’s expense in honour of the God of Tsrael. 

On the other hand, the Jews, after the incorporation 

of the province, had to offer sacrifices for Caesar and 

the Roman people, and, as far as the Law permitted, 

to invoke the Divine blessing upon them in the 

services of the synagogue. These obligations were 

no doubt irksome to many of the rabbis, but the 

performing of them was lightened by the conscious- 

ness that the emperor was a generous benefactor and 

protector of the Jewish race.^ 


Augustus was succeeded in the cares of the empire 

by Tiberius * (A.D. 14-37), ^he eldest son of his wife 

Livia by a former marriage with the Senator Tiberius 

Claudius Nero. The new emperor was a man of 

great experience both in civil and military affairs, 

and had reached the mature age of fifty -six when 

he began to reign. In the course of his previous 

career Tiberius had filled with success the most 

important offices of state. He was equally fortunate 


visendum Apin supersedit, sed et Caium nepotem, quod Judseam prseter- 

vehens apud Hierosolymam non supplicasset, collaudavit ‘* (Suetonius, 

” Oct.,” xciii.). ‘ C/. Schenkel, ** Bibel- Lex ikon,” i. 306. 


” For Tiberius, cf. Merivale, ** History of the Romans under the 

Empire” ; G. Freytag, “Tiberius und Tacitus.” Freytag makes strenuous 

attempts to rehabilitate the character of Tiberius. 






as a general and an administrator, and although 

Augustus disliked his sombre and intractable temp)er, 

he cast aside personal feeling, and in the interest of 

the commonwealth adopted Tiberius as his successor.’ 

For the first ten or twelve years of his reign Tiberius 

conducted the affairs of the empire with much mild- 

ness and moderation, but after the death of his son 

Drusus (a.D. 23) the plots and intrigues of an 

ambitious aristocracy aroused his fears, and the fierce, 

implacable elements of his nature spent themselves 

in mercilessly decimating his political adversaries. 

If we look only at the summary and terrible manner 

in which Tiberius got rid of his opponents, it must 

be admitted that he played the part of an atrocious 

tyrant ; it has, however, to be remembered that he 

was surrounded by a network of conspiracies and 

had no alternative but to kill or submit to be killed* 

These bloody proceedings of Tiberius, although 

they rightly shock the conscience of mankind, only 

affected the higher personages in Roman society and 

did not touch the great mass of the people, for the 

emperor was in other respects an excellent rulers and 

made the public welfare the supreme object of his 

solicitude. He continued the humane policy of 


‘ Suetonius, ” Tiberius,” xxi. Tacitus takes a different and an ignoble 

view of Augustus’ motives in choosing Tiberius as his successor : ** Ne 

Tiberium quidem caritate aut reipublicse cura successorem adscitum ; 

sed, quoniam arrogantiam saevitiamque ejus introspexerit, comparatione 

deterrima sibi gloriam qusesivisse ” (** Annals,” i. 10). 


» Ibid., “Tiberius,” XXV. 


3 ” Longtemps il (Tiberius) gouverna avec moderation, et toujours 

dans les questions d ‘administration avec sagesse ” (Duruy, ” Histoire,” 

ilL 490). 






Augustus with regard to the provinces, and watched 

over their interests with assiduous care. Capable 

governors were appointed to rule the provincials ; 

and after giving proof of their fitness for the task 

Tiberius allowed them to remain for a long period in 

the exercise of their functions ; the incapable and 

extortionate, on the other hand, were immediately 

dismissed and punished. He also prevented the 

provinces from being weighed down with new 

burdens, and took care that the old ones were 

collected by the officials without avarice or cruelty.^ 

All his laws, except the statutes against treason, 

were framed simply with a view to promote the 

public good. He made it one of his most important 

duties to attend to the complaints of the provincials,^ 

and they appreciated his efforts in their behalf. 


The Jews had at first no reason to be dissatisfied 

with the new occupant of the imperial throne. 

Tiberius continued, with respect to them, the mild 

and conciliatory policy of his predecessor Augustus.3 

Shortly after his accession, the procurator, Annius 

Rufus, was replaced by Valerius Gratus (A.D. 15), 

who remained for eleven years at the head of affairs 

in Palestine.4 Gratus was no doubt an experienced 

and trustworthy official, for Tiberius was very careful 

to select competent men as his subordinates ; and the 

fact that Gratus retained his position so long proves 

that he discharged the duties it involved to the 


‘ ‘* £t ne provinciae novis oneribus turbarentur, utque vetera sine 

avaritia aut crudelitate magistratuum tolerarent, providelxit *’ (* ‘Annals,” 

iv. 16). » ” Annals,” iv. 15. 


3 Philo, ” Legatio ad Caium” (Frankfurt, 1691), 1015, 1033. 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. 2. 2. 






satisfaction of his imperial master, and in accordance 

with the humane principles which Tiberius endea- 

voured to infuse into the administration of the 

provinces.’ The new procurator experienced con- 

siderable difficulty in finding a high priest with 

whom he could co-operate harmoniously, and in the 

space of four years he had four times to change the 

religious head of the community. But these frequent 

changes were of secondary importance to the masses, 

and in no way disturbed the tranquillity of the land. 

Public attention was at this moment (A.D. 17) con- 

centrated upon material interests ; the burden of 

taxation was becoming irksome, and in concert with 

the Syrians, the Jews of Palestine begged the 

emperor to diminish the tribute.* In response to 

this appeal and in order generally to place Eastern 

affairs upon a more satisfactory footing, Tiberius 

entrusted his nephew, Germanicus, with extra- 

ordinary powers, and sent him to Syria to inquire 

into the grievances of the provincials.3 Whether 

Germanicus considered it necessary to lessen the 

amount paid by the Jews to the imperial treasury or 

not is unknown. He died amid suspicious circum- 

stances before his mission was completed (a.d. 19). 


About this period Tiberius banished the Jewish 

colony from Rome (a,D. 19), because four of their 

number, under the guise of religion, had succeeded 

in defrauding a Roman matron, named Fulvia, a 

woman of high position who had embraced the 


‘ Tacitus, ” Annals,” iv. 6. 


‘ “Provincise Syria atque Judaea, fessae oneribus, diminutionem tributi 

orabant ” (” Ann. .” ii. 42). 3 ” Annals,” ii. 43. 






Jewish faith.’ In accordance with a decree of the 

Senate, four thousand Roman Jews fit to bear arms, 

were drafted into the legions and sent to repress 

brigandage in the inhospitable island of Sardinia ; the 

rest of the community were allowed a certain time to 

quit Italy, or abjure their faith.* These harsh pro- 

ceedings did not materially affect the policy of the 

emperor towards the population of Palestine, but 

they show that he had no predilection for the Jewish 

race, and was not sorry to find some plausible pretext 

for driving Jewish settlers from the capital. In fact, 

it was not the intention of the Caesars to allow the 

Jews to establish themselves in the Latin-speaking 

portion of the empire, where their race peculiarities 

would inevitably stir up the same antipathies as 

existed in the Greek cities of the East Accordingly 

they lost many of their privileges when they mi- 

grated westwards, and the immunities which they 

were permitted to retain, such as permission to plead 

before their own tribunals and exemption from 

military service, were granted them as matters of 

favour and not of right.3 


Seven years after the expulsion of the Jews from 

Italy,4 Pontius Pilate (A.D. 26-35) — a name insepa- 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant. ,” xviiL 3. 4-5. 


‘ Tacitus, ” Ann.,” ii. 85. In his life of Tiberius, Suetonius says the 

emperor condemned those who did not obey the decree of expulsion to 

perpetual slavery (** Tib.,’* xxxvi.). 


3 <*Aber eine offentlich anerkannte Sonderstellung und offentlich 

anerkannte Sondergerichte haben die Juden im heidnischen Rom und 

iiberhaupt im lateinischen Westen niemals erhalten ” (Mommsen, v. 499). 


* The decree of expulsion remained in force till the fall of Tiberius’s 

minister, Sejanus, who was an enemy of the Jews. His fall and death 

occurred A.D. 31. Cf. Philo’s ” De Legatio ad Caium,” 24. 






rably associated with the most momentous events in 

Christian history — was appointed to succeed Valerius 

Gratus as procurator of Judaea, No authentic in- 

formation exists respecting the previous career of this 

official, and he probably owed his appointment to his 

success as a soldier and administrator in other parts 

of the empire. In Judaea his procuratorship was a 

failure from the commencement ; the cause of his 

insuccess consisting for the most part in a profound 

disdain for the people over whom he ruled.’ He 

apparently made no effort to understand the new 

world of ideas into which he was placed, or if he did 

apprehend the import of Jewish feeling and convic- 

tion, he acted on the principle that they were to be 

as far as possible frustrated or ignored. He con- 

ducted the government of the province simply with 

a view to secure the approbation of Tiberius, and as 

the drift of imperial policy, when Pilate was made 

procurator, seemed to be adverse to Judaism, one of 

his first official acts consisted in an attempt to get 

the people of Jerusalem to tolerate the presence of 

heathen symbols in the Holy City. It had been the 

custom of former procurators to respect the suscepti- 

bilities of the population in the matter of graven 

images, and the imperial standards were divested of 

all such ornaments when Roman troops had occasion 

to enter Jerusalem, in order to take up their quarters 


G. Volkmar, in an article on the persecution of the Jews under 

Tiberius, in the “Jahrbiicher fiir Protestantische Theologie ” (1885, 

p. 142), thus speaks of Pilate : ” Er ward, wie nach Allem scheint, 

aus racenhaft instinctivem Widerwillen gegen das jiidische Volk der 

Religionsverfolger Judaas von Anfang an und ist dies bis zuro Ende 

auch so geblieben.” 






in the citadel. Pilate believed the time had now 

come for setting this custom aside, and probably 

considered that it would advance his interests with 

the emperor if he succeeded in his design. Accord- 

ingly, when a change took place in the Jerusalem 

garrison, Pilate commanded the fresh troops to enter 

the Holy City by night and to retain the silver busts 

of the emperor on the ensigns. On the following 

morning the people were horrified to find that the 

Holy City was being profaned, and that heathen rites 

were being celebrated in sight of the Temple.* The 

whole population was struck with consternation and 

dismay, and a feeling of intense indignation flew 

through the city and communicated itself to the 

fanatical peasantry of the province. At any moment 

the excitement might have ended in an outbreak of 

rebellion, for the party of Judas the Galilean had 

many devoted adherents who would have gloried in 

resorting to extremities at once. Fortunately, the 

counsels of extreme men were not adopted, and it 

was decided to send an imposing deputation to the 

new capital, Caesarea, to implore the governor to 

respect their ancient laws and remove the ensigns. 

On their arrival, the supplicants discovered that they 

had to encounter a man who was totally out of 

sympathy with the Jewish race, and was determined 

before yielding to put the strength of their convic- 


‘ The Roman garrison was quartered in the Tower of Antonia, a 

fortress which dominated the Temple. This structure was the old 

citadel of the Hasmonxans, and was greatly strengthened by Herod, 

who gave it the name Antonia in honour of his patron, Mark Antony. 

€/. Josephus, “Ant.,” xv. ii. 4 ; “-Bell. Jud.,” v. 5. 8. 






tions to the test. Pilate spoke of their request as an 

indignity to Caesar, and refused to listen to it. The 

petitioners, on the other hand, were resolute ; they 

would not accept the procurator’s answer, and for five 

days and nights hung around his footsteps reiterating 

their request in attitudes of abject humility. Pilate, 

wearied with their persistent entreaties, adopted fresh 

measures and tried to stop their clamour with in- 

timidation. He invited the complainants to meet 

him in the circus, and when they came forward to 

renew their petition, his soldiers, who lay in conceal- 

ment, surrounded them at a given signal and 

threatened the hapless Jews with instant death if 

they still persisted in their demands. But death had 

lost its terrors for this pertinacious band ; instead of 

dispersing, as the procurator had hoped, they bared 

their necks to the Roman weapons and professed 

their willingness to perish rather than outlive the 

profanation of their laws. Pilate, who did not 

anticipate such a display of resolution, at once gave 

way, and the standards were ordered back to 



Although the procurator was baffled for the moment 

by the determined attitude of the Jews, he did not 

abandon his purpose of forcing the people of Jeru- 

salem to admit heathen symbols into their midst 

His next attempt in this direction was of a milder 

character, and took the form of introducing into the 

old palace of Herod on Mount Zion — the governor’s 

residence during his stay in Jerusalem — votive tablets 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant.,” xviii. 3. i ; ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 9. 2. 









{By fitrmissioit of She Cemmiltee of the Paltstint Exfleralien 







dedicated to the emperor.’ These tablets only con- 

tained the names of the emperor and the person who 

had dedicated them, but the rabbis saw in them a 

dark design on Pilate’s part to familiarize the people 

with Caesar worship, which had become general in 

other parts of the empire. It is not at all unlikely 

that this was the procurator’s real intent The empire 

was a vast agglomeration of different nationalities 

possessing no common bond of union, and the aim 

of Roman statesmen was to create such a bond by 

lifting the emperor out of the ordinary rank of mortals, 

and making him a common object of adoration » for 

all his subjects to whatever race they might belong. 

In the other provinces of the Roman world this policy 

had met with a gratifying measure of success ; in 

Judaea alone it had not even been tried, and Pilate, 

who had probably just left some region where the 

cultus of the Caesars had grown into an established 

institution, was evidently animated with the desire of 

placing it ultimately on a similar footing in Palestine. 

It is hardly to be supposed that the procurator, in the 

prosecution of his religious policy, was merely gratify- 

ing a feeling of personal animosity at the cost of 

adding immensely to his difficulties as a ruler. Such 


* Philo, ” Leg. ad Caium,” 1033, j^. T. Mangey, in his edition of 

” Philo ” (ii 589), considers that the incident of the standards and of 

the tablets are the same event. This also is the opinion of Seinecke 

(**Geschichte des Volkes Israel,” il 223), who thinks the mistake lies 

with Philo. On the other hand, Hausrath (” Neutestamentliche Zeit- 

geschichte,’* L 353) regards the two incidents as distinct. Leyrer, in 

Herzog (Art.- “Hiatus”), and Schurer (“Neutest. Zeitgeschichte,’* 

235, s^. and 255, j^.), agree with Hausrath. 


* C/. Gaston Boissier, ** La Religion Romaine,” chapitre deuxi^me, 

” L*apotheose imp^riale,” 109-186. 






IS not the course which a man of Pilate’s experience 

was likely to adopt. It seems more reasonable to 

believe that he was acting in the character of a Roman 

official anxious above all things to augment the 

strength of the empire by promoting its internal 

unification. Among polytheistic populations, where 

the dividing line between gods and men was but in- 

distinctly traced, the apotheosis of the emperor had 

no religious or intellectual difficulties standing in the 

way of its acceptance ; to the Jews, on the other hand, 

it was a blow aimed at the fundamental principle of 

their faith — the unity and majesty of Jehovah. The 

commotion which Pilate’s action immediately created 

among all classes plainly shows that the affair of the 

votive tablets was regarded in this light by the entire 

Jewish community. Even the sons of Herod, princes 

whose devotion to Rome was above suspicion, joined 

in the outcry, and implored the procurator to retrace 

his steps. It was impressed upon him that he was 

driving the people into rebellion. He was asked to 

show the imperial edict which empowered him to act 

as he was doing. He was threatened with the expo- 

sure of all the misdeeds ‘ he had committed since he 

became governor, but neither threats nor entreaties 

nor expostulations produced the slightest effect on 

Pilate’s determination, and Tiberius was finally ap- 

pealed to. Although the emperor was probably not 

displeased as the Jews imagined at the experiment 


* Philo gives a long list of these misdeeds, which include oppression 

and cruelty of the worst kind. It is not likely that Pilate was a scrupu- 

lous official, but it is certain that he would not have dared to act in the 

manner described by Philo under the keen eyes of such a master as 







made by his subordinate, he perceived that in the 

present temper of the people it was destined to fail, 

and Pilate accordingly received orders to remove the 

obnoxious symbols from Jerusalem to Caesarea. 


Twice had Pilate been defeated in his attempts to 

override the religious feelings of the Jews, but he was 

evidently a man possessed of great tenacity of pur- 

pose, for his previous failures, instead of being a source 

of discouragement, had the opposite effect of stimu- 

lating him to fresh efforts. In order to maintain the 

worship at the Temple in all its dignity and splendour, 

large offerings of money were sent to the Temple 

treasury’ from every Jewish community throughout 

the world. Pilate believed that a portion of this 

money might be usefully expended in providing the 

Holy City with a pure and abundant supply of water, 

which would also be of much service to the Temple 

itself, where the refuse arising from the sacrifices must 

necessarily have been great. It does not appear that 

he consulted the Sanhedrin or the priests as to the 

expediency of this great undertaking, but whether he 

obtained the acquiescence of these important bodies or 

not, his scheme met with a determined resistance from 

the population. The fanatical masses were roused to 

a high pitch of fury by the thought that money dedi- 

cated to sacred uses should be expended at the will 

of a heathen on objects of a secular character.^ Pilate 


‘ This is the treasury mentioned in Matt, xxvii. 6. C/. Josephus, 

” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 9. 4. caXtVai ci Kop^avaQ, 


‘ According to the doctrine of the rabbis, no money which had been 

improperly or infamously obtained, and afterguards found its way into 

the Temple treasury, such as the sum Judas received for betraying his 

Master, could be used for sacred purposes. It was always devoted to 






when he made his appearance in Jerusalem, was 

assailed by the abuse and clamour of a multitude 

numbering many thousands, who were bent on re- 

peating the pertinacious tactics which had succeeded 

so well at Caesarea. Pilate, perceiving this, skilfully 

distributed a number of troops disguised in Jewish 

garments among the crowd, and, as soon as the 

clamour was renewed, the soldiers began to beat the 

agitators with their clubs, and so disconcerted them 

that they lost heart and fled. He was afterwards able 

to go on unhindered with the work which, when com- 

pleted, formed a magnificent aqueduct several miles 

in extent. Nevertheless, if the Tower of Siloam, 

which fell and killed eighteen people, formed a part 

of Pilate’s undertaking, it is certain that the rabbis 

looked upon the whole structure as lying under the 

curse of God.^ 


But all these proceedings sink into insignificance in 

comparison with the part played by the procurator at 

the trial of Jesus. The influence of Jesus at this 

period was fast becoming a power among the masses, 

and both the rabbis and the priestly aristocracy, whose 

system He was menacing, were anxious on religious 

grounds to see Him put to death. But they knew it 

was futile to charge Him with blasphemy before a 

Roman judge, who would certainly have told them, 

like Gallio, that he would be no judge of such matters.^ 


objects of a civil nature, and it is possible that Pilate only took posses- 

sion of that part of the Temple treasure (Corban) which it was unlawful 

to employ in the Temple service. Cf. A. Wiinsche, ” Neue Beitrage 

rur Erlauterung der Evangelien aus Talmud und Midrash ” (Gottingen, 


1878), P- 348. 

‘ Luke xilL 1-5. ‘ Acts xviii i ^. 






Still, these men believed it necessary at all hazards to 

compass their ends ; the real charge against Jesus was 

left in the background, an accusation of a political 

character was substituted for it, and at the Feast of 

the Passover — a time when the procurator always 

made his appearance in Jerusalem for the purpose of 

maintaining order — ^Jesus was arraigned before him as 

a seditious demagogue who was plotting against the 

authority of Rome.’ Pilate, however, was well aware 

from his previous experience of Jesus’ accusers, that 

they would regard any movement hostile to Rome as 

a virtue and not as a crime, and he no doubt listened 

to their evidence with the utmost scepticism. In fact, 

all the proceedings of that fatal day conclusively show 

that Pilate was convinced of Jesus’ innocence. Why 

the procurator did not immediately release Him is 

incomprehensible. His conduct in pronouncing a 

sentence of condemnation against One whom he 

knew to be guiltless cannot be accounted for on the 

ground of Pilate’s deference to Jewish feeling, for the 

whole period of his procuratorship clearly shows that 

he paid no regard to it whatever. It is not, therefore, 

likely that he would do so in this instance alone. 

Neither can it easily be explained on the principle 

that he feared the representations the Jews would 

make against him to Tiberius. He was not the man 

to quail before such threats.^ In short, his condemna- 

tion of Jesus appears to have been pronounced in a 

moment of inconceivable weakness, when the ordinary 


‘ Luke xxiii. 2. 


‘ Such threats produced no effect on Pilate in the case of the votive 







motives which influence and control human judgment 

were in abeyance. This, however, does hot lessen 

his responsibility for the crime — in reality a judicial 

murder — the guilt of which will for ever rest on 

Pilate’s head. 


The procuratorship of Pilate was brought to a ter- 

mination in consequence of certain repressive measures 

which he deemed it necessary to adopt in Samaria.’ 

The Samaritans were thrown into a state of intense 

excitement by the appearance of a religious impostor 

in their midst, who said that he would show them 

the vessels of the Tabernacle which, according to a 

Samaritan tradition, had been buried by Moses on 

Mount Gerizim.* As the finding of these sacred 

vessels was regarded as a prelude to the advent of 

the Messianic kingdom, and as Messianic hopes were 

at this moment running high in Palestine, great mul- 

titudes of Samaritans made their way to Gerizim, the 

holy mountain of their people, in the full conviction 

that a mighty transformation of the world was at 

hand. But the movement was not merely religious, 

it evidently possessed a marked political character as 

well, for the people assembled in arms, and a wide- 

spread discontent existed against the Roman govern- 

ment Pilate, whose eye was fixed on the doings of 


» Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. 4. i. 


» Hausrath, ** Neutest. 2^itgeschichte,” i. 382. The Samaritans did 

not believe that the sacred vessels used by the Israelites in iheir wander- 

ings in the wilderness had ever been placed in Solomon’s Temple. 

According to Jewish tradition, the prophet Jeremiah, after the destruc- 

tion of Solomon’s Temple, took the tabernacle and the ark and hid them 

on Mount Nebo. There they were to remain concealed until the time 

that God should gather His people again together and receive them unto 

mercy (2 Mace. ii. 1-8). 











the Samaritans, was afraid lest their excitement should 

culminate in a revolt. Troops, probably drawn from 

the garrison of Samaria, were despatched to Mount 

Gerizim to overawe and disperse the excited crowds. 

A conflict took place between the Roman soldiers 

and the people. Many of the Samaritans were killed, 

and several of the ringleaders who were taken pri- 

soners were afterwards executed by order of the 



These events took place while Vitellius was pro- 

consul of Syria (A.D. 3S-39), and as he had been 

entrusted by Tiberius with extraordinary powers in 

the East,* Pilate lost the independent position usually 

held by the procurators of Judaea, and became a sub- 

ordinate of the Syrian governor. The members of 

the Samaritan provincial council were aware of the 

change that had taken place in the procurator’s 

status, and being much incensed at the manner in 

which he had dealt with their countrymen, they sent 

a deputation to Vitellius, and accused Pilate of 

murdering loyal and peaceable subjects of the 

empire. As the Samaritans had always enjoyed the 

reputation of being faithful vassals of Rome, Vitellius 

considered that their charges against the procurator 

were worthy of serious examination. He was sus- 

pended and sent to Rome to justify his conduct ; but 

before his arrival in the imperial city Tiberius had 

died, and Pilate at the same time disappears from 

the pages of authentic history (A.D. 37).2 


‘ Tacitus, “Ann.,” vi. 32: “Etcunctis quae apud Orientem para- 

bantur L. Vitellium pricfecit.” 


» For the apocryphal history of Pilate cf. R. A. Lipsius, *’Die Pilatus- 

Akten kritisch untersucht. Neue vermehrte Ausgabe,” Kiel, 1886. 






(A.D. 37-73-) 


A FEELING of relief and satisfaction ran through 

the whole empire when it became known that the 

gloomy Tiberius was dead. His successor Caligula,’ 

then in the twenty-sixth year of his age, assumed the 

responsibilities of power amid the acclamations of the 

Jewish provincials as well as the citizens of Rome 

(37-41). The new emperor began his career as a 

ruler under the happiest auspices. The senate, the 

people, the provinces, hailed the young monarch’s 

advent to supreme authority with delight ; his first 

public utterances produced an excellent impression, 

and for a short time it was believed that a new and 

brighter era had begun.’ These illusions were of 

brief duration ; the true character of Caligula revealed 

itself as soon as he was securely seated on the 

throne, and he proved as his discerning predecessor 


Hb proper name was Caius Cxsar. Why he was called Cal^la 

seeTacilus, “Ann.,”i. 4r. ‘ Philo, ” De Leg, ad Caium,” i. 






had prophesied both a curse to himself and to the 

community.’ It may be said with a near approach 

to certainty that Cah’gula soon after he became 

emperor was mad ; * the unspeakable vices to which 

he was addicted are hardly compatible with sanity, 

and the abominable cruelties and caprices of his 

reign are clearly the aberrations of a disordered mind. 

Unfortunately for the Jews, Caligula among his 

other peculiarities seriously imagined that he was a 

god.3 At Rome he sat among the statues of the 

divinities for the purpose of receiving public adora- 

tion. At Alexandria, where there was a large and 

important Jewish colony, he compelled the rabbis to 

admit his statue into their synagogues, and practically 

changed them in spite of all remonstrances into 

temples for the worship of himself.4 Orders were 

also sent to Petronius (a.d. 39), who had succeeded 

Vitellius as governor of Syria to place the imperial 

statue in the Temple of Jerusalem, and to crush out 

by force of arms any resistance which the Jews might 

offer to such a step. The cordial relations Vitellius 5 


‘ ‘* Exitio suo omniumque Caium vivere ; et se natricem populo 

Romano, Phaetjiontem orbi lerrarum educere” (Suetonius, **Caligula,”xL ). 


‘ ” Caligula est k la lettre un fou ; la predisposition de son cerveau, 

r^tourdissement de Torgueil et la peur des philtres de Cesonie sa 

femme, je ne sais quelle cause enfin Ta mis k Tetat d’un pensionnaire 

de Charenton. II n’y a pas k lui chercher une politique quelconque” 

(Champagny, ** Les Cesars,” ii. 57). 


3 Suetonius, ** Calig.,” 52. PhUo, “De Leg. ad Caium,” 43-45. 


* Mommsen, v. 518. 


5 Vitellius remitted a portion of the taxes, and placed the high 

priest’s vestments entirely in the hands of the Jews. These vestments 

had till then been kept by the Romans in the tower of Antonia, and 

were entrusted to the high priest only when he was officiating. C/, 

Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii 4. 2. 






had established by his conciliatory measures after the 

fall of Pilate were once more snapped asunder, and 

the Jewish people suddenly found themselves con- 

fronted by the same dangers as had menaced their 

ancestors when Antiochus Epiphanes polluted the 

sanctuary with the image of Olympian Zeus. But in 

the two centuries that had elapsed since this act of 

desecration a decided change had taken place in the 

feelings of the Temple aristocracy. They had now 

become as ardent upholders of Judaism as the 

Pharisees and the common people ; and even the 

family of Herod joined with the rest of the nation in 

resisting the insane folly of Caligula.’ 


In face of the tremendous and menacing opposition 

which immediately manifested itself in Judaea, Petro- 

nius, the governor, hesitated to carry out the imperial 

commands. He foresaw from the desperate temper 

of the people that it would be impossible to place 

Caligula’s statue in the Temple without inflicting 

terrible misery on the unhappy country, and involving 

it in all the horrors of a religious war. In these 

circumstances this humane officer, well knowing the 

extreme peril in which he was placing himself, 

resolved to ask Caligula to rescind the obnoxious 

decree. While Petronius’s letter was on its way to 

the emperor, King Agrippa,* at a feast which he gave 

at Rome in honour of Caligula, adroitly interceded 

for his co-religionists ; and orders were sent to the 

Syrian governor to proceed no farther with the 

project for erecting the emperors statue in the 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. 8. 2 ff. 

• C/, “Ant..” xviii. 8. 7. 






Temple. When, however, the tyrant discovered that 

Petronius was also acting in behalf of the Jews, and 

that he had shrunk from executing the imperial will, 

a message was sent to him in which he was com- 

manded to put himself to death. Fortunately for 

Petronius, Caligula was assassinated before the fatal 

message reached its destination ; it came into his 

hands soon after the welcome announcement that the 

hateful monster was no more’ (a.d. 41). 


Although all immediate danger was now at an end, 

the persecutions of Caligula produced a profound 

feeling of disquietude among the Jews. It was per- 

ceived on all sides that their religious liberty rested 

upon a frail foundation, and might at any moment be 

overthrown by the caprice or vanity of a heathen 

emperor. These apprehensions were fruitful ground 

for the operations of the Zealots, who had since the 

death of Judas the Galilean been actively and 

successfully propagating the doctrine of armed 

resistance to the Roman oppressor.” The warlike 

teaching of these enthusiasts was rapidly superseding 

the passive doctines of the Pharisees, and the latter 

were in consequence beginning to lose their accus- 

tomed hold upon the confidence of the masses. The 

people were becoming impatient of the fine dis- 

tinctions drawn by the Pharisees on the subject of 


‘ In the Megillat Taanit, an ancient Jewish chronicle, which 

enumerates the days of the year in whioh it is forbidden to fast, the day 

on which the news of Caligula’s death became known is ordered to be 

kept as a day of rejoicing. Cf. Derenbourg, 207. 


‘ ‘* Josephus, almost the only witness we can consult, is forced to 

reveal the constant growth of Zelotism, gladly as he would conceal it, 

sweeping the whole |)eople with it at last in the year 66 A. D. ” (A. 

Kuenen, ”National Religions and Universal Religions,” p. 223). 






Roman domination. Why should they continue to 

wait any longer for the advent of the Messiah in 

order to be for ever rid of the accursed heathen and 

all their works? Would it not be better, as the 

Zealots said, to follow the example of Mattathias, the 

noble father of the Maccabees, and once again win 

freedom at the point of the sword. It was not 

perceived by the fanatical masses that the historical 

conditions were entirely different, and that the 

mighty empire of the West, with its splendid military 

resources, was not for a moment to be compared with 

an effete Eastern monarchy in the last stages of decay. 

It was enough for the ignorant population that 

Caligula had been playing the same part as Antiochus 

Epiphanes ; the hateful Roman with his heathen 

images was another type of Antichrist, and his 

dominion over God’s elect people must no longer be 

endured. Such were the convictions which were fast 

ripening in the popular mind when Caligula was 

succeeded by his uncle Claudius (A.D. 41-54), then 

fifty years of age. 


The personal character of the new Caesar made 

him in many respects as unfitted as his predecessor 

for the immense task of governing so vast an empire. 

For fifty years he had lived in comparative obscurity, 

and when the pretorians carried him into their 

camp and proclaimed him emperor, he was destitute 

of any real practical experience of public affairs. 

On account of bodily and mental infirmities, which 

had aflRicted him from childhood, he had always 

been looked upon by his imperial relatives with 

feelings of pity or contempt ; and when he became 






master of the Roman world, so weak, timid, and 

irresolute was his character, that he soon fell under 

the domination of women and slaves.’ Very little 

was to be expected from a ruler so unhappily con- 

stituted, and yet the policy which Claudius at first 

adopted in Judaea was singularly wise and opportune 

Instead of sending a procurator, who with the best 

intentions would probably have added to the existing 

state of exasperation, Claudius fell back upon the 

methods of Augustus, and decided to manage Jewish 

aflfairs by means of a prince who understood the 

peculiarities of the people. In King Agrippa who 

already ruled the two tetrarchies in the north of 

Palestine, formerly held by his uncles Philip and 

Antipas, Claudius found a man admirably suited to 

his purpose Agrippa was a loyal friend of the 

imperial family ; he had been of signal service to 

Claudius when he was proclaimed emperor,^ and 

gratitude as well as policy induced the new Caesar 

to extend the dominions of Agrippa, who was ac- 

cordingly made ruler (a.d. 41) over all those terri- 

tories which had formerly been administered by his 

grandfather, Herod the Great. As a precautionary 

measure Roman troops continued to garrison 

Caesarea and Samaria. The appointment of Agrippa 

had a mollifying effect upon the population, and his 

sagacious conduct of the government dissipated all 

fears of a revolt. At Jerusalem where he took up 

his residence, he lived in accordance with the strict 

principles of the Pharisees, and exercised his authority 


‘ C/ Suetonius, ** Claudius,” ii. 5. 25 ; Tacitus, *’Ann.,”xii. I. 

Josephus, ” Ant.,” xix. 4. iff.; Dio Cassius, Ix. 8. 






with mildness and moderation. The powers of 

the Sanhedrin were extended, the doctors became 

guests at the royal table, the populace was treated 

with aflfable generosity, and national sentiment grati- 

fied to a degree which brought the king into collision 

with Rome.’ Excepting the Christians whom he 

persecuted and put to death,* all classes of the 

community were devoted to Agrippa, and when he 

died after a brief reign of little more than three 

years there was grief and lamentation throughout 

the land (A.D. 44). 


The affairs of Palestine had been so successfully 

conducted by the deceased king, that Claudius 

decided to send Agrippa’s son, then a youth of 

seventeen to occupy the vacant throne.3 Had the 

emperor possessed sufficient strength of mind to 

carry out this wise intention, and had he also with- 

drawn the Roman garrison which was mostly com- 

posed of Syrians,4 the elements of friction between 

Rome and Judaea would have been to a great extent 

removed. It is even possible that such a policy 

would have so far satisfied Jewish national aspirations 

as to avert the terrible insurrection which was already 

looming in the distance. Agrippa with Maccabaean 

blood in his veins 5 had rehabilitated the Herodian 


» Josephus, ‘* Ant.,” xix. $. S; cf. Dcrenbourg, 210 ff. 


Acts xii. I. 3 Josephus, ** Ant,” xix. 9. 2. 


^ Samaritans also served in the legions stationed in Palestine. 

Owing to the intensity of the hatred existing between the Jews and 

Samaritans, it would have been wiser to employ the Samaritan troops 

elsewhere (Josephus, ** Ant.,’* xx. 8. 7). 


3 Agrippa was a grandson of the unfortunate Maccabaean princess, 

Mariamne, the wife of Herod the Great (” Bell. Jud.,” i. 28). 






family in the eyes of the populace;’ all but a few 

extreme fanatics would have joyfully submitted to 

the authority of his son. Unhappily for the peace 

of Palestine, Claudius allowed himself to be over- 

ruled by his advisers ; the youth of Agrippa’s son, 

who was then being educated in Rome, was alleged 

as a reason for not transferring him to so responsible 

a position. The old method of governing the country 

by procurators was again resorted to. The Zealots 

were not slow to take advantage of the error which 





(By permiision oftht Cammitiet <^ the FaUsline Exploratian Fund.) 


had been committed by the counsellors of Csesar. 

Agrippa’s reign though brief had indirectly furthered 

their cause by imparting a fresh impulse to patriotic 


‘ One day as Agrippa was leading the Law al the of Tabet- 

nacles, he came upon the passage (Deul. xviiL 14-10), where it is said 

” Thou mayest nol set a stranger over ihee which is not ihy 

brother.” The (houghl of his Herodian blood caused the king lo 

burst into tears. Bui the people cried out, ” Feat nol, Agrippa, thou 

art our brother, thou art our brother.” Cf. Dcrenbourg {” Palestine,” 

p. 317), who considers this Talmudic tradition lu refer mosl probabljr 

lo Agrippa. 






feeling, and when the new procurator, Cuspius Fadus, 

(A.D. 44-46) entered upon his duties, he immediately 

found himself confronted with disaffection and dis- 



In spite, however, of the outbreak of insurrectionary 

movements among that portion of the population 

over which the Zealots had gained so great an 

ascendency, the emperor and his procurators still 

went on with the work of conciliation. The vest- 

ments of the high priest, which except for a brief 

interval after Pilate’s deposition had always been in 

charge of the garrison in the tower of Antonia, were 

handed over to the Temple aristocracy. The power 

of nominating the high priest was taken away from 

the procurator, and in order that there might be 

no conflict between the civil and ecclesiastical 

authorities, Claudius appointed Herod, prince of 

Chalcis, a brother of the late king, to supreme control 

over all religious affairs.’ After the departure of 

Fadus, who had succeeded in restoring order, and 

in repressing a movement of a. Messianic character, 

Claudius rightly discerning that Jewish discontent 

was at bottom of a religious nature, nominated Tibe- 

rius Alexander « (a.d. 47), a nephew of Philo the 

philosopher, to the office of procurator. The em- 

peror may have hoped that this officer, understanding 

the idiosyncrasies of his countrymen, would be 


‘ After Herod’s death Agrippa IT., son of Agrippa I., succeeded 

Herod in his functions, and also received his territories (** Ant.,” 

XX. I. 2-3. 9. 7). 


‘ Alexander, though a Jew by birth, had ceased to be a Jew by 

religion (Josephus, ” Ant.,” xx. 5. 2). 






competent to keep them within the bounds of order 

and law. But his mission proved a failure ; a serious 

revolt of the Zealots took place ; James and Simon, 

two sons of Judas the Galilean, were captured and 

crucified, and when Alexander was succeeded by 

Cumanus (A.D. 48-52), the situation in Judsea had 

become more menacing than ever. In fact, the 

procuratorship of Cumanus is little else than a pain- 

ful record of robberies, murders, race hatreds, and 

insurrection. At last matters became so serious that 

the legate of Syria, Ummidius Quadratus felt himself 

compelled to interfere. This official had been en- 

trusted with extraordinary powers in the East,’ 

and after investigating into the conduct of Cumanus, 

with respect to a bloody feud which had broken out 

between the Jews and Samaritans, he suspended the 

procurator, and sent him to Rome to justify his pro- 

ceedings before the emperor. Once again Claudius 

gave evidence of his anxiety to conciliate the Jews. 

The Samaritans were condemned, Cumanus was 

banished, and a tribune named Celer, who had made 

himself offensive to the Jews, was sent back to 

Jerusalem to be executed.” 


It was no doubt believed in imperial circles that 

the people of Judaea would be appeased by the 

unwonted spectacle of a Roman officer perishing in 

obloquy at the scene of his misdeeds. The spirit of 

revolt, however, was not to be so easily allayed ; 

every day it was gaining a firmer hold upon the 

popular mind, and the enemies of Rome had now 


* For Quadratus’s powers, cf. Mommsen, v. 552. 

Josephus, *• Ant.,” xx. 6. 3. 






become too numerous and implacable to be satisfied 

with anything short of national independence.’ The 

Temple aristocracy, it is true, still held aloof from 

the ideas of the Zealots, but it had become a rotten 

and effete caste, ever ready to plunder the poor and 

helpless, and as the trial of St Paul before Ananias 

shows, very brutal in the exercise of its powers.* 

Such men were regarded by the people as oppressors, 

and were utterly without influence. The Pharisees 

retained the respect of the masses, but they too 

were unable to stem the tide of popular feeling. It 

had become impossible to get the people to wait 

any longer for the advent of the Messianic king, and 

although they still believed that he would come to 

their deliverance they were determined in the mean- 

time to begin the task themselves. The Zealots, in fact, 

were now triumphant, and the Zealots had opened 

their ranks to all who would swear eternal hatred 

against Rome. Robbers, brigands, assassins, the 

malefactor who murdered for hire as well as the 

honest patriot burning to be free, were all equally 

welcomed by the Zealots. … It was not so much 

the hardness of Roman rule as the fact that they 

were being ruled by aliens which was driving the 

Jews into rebellion. The time for concessions was 

at an end, and the only course now open to the 

emperor was to garrison the disaffected province 

with an overwhelming force, and to place a resolute 


* ** Als Felix sein Amt antral, war die Aufgabe des rom. Procurators 

von Judaa schon eine nahezu unloshaie geworden, auch wenn sie in 

weniger ungluckliche Hande fiel ” (F. Overbeck, Art. ** Felix ‘* in 

Schenkers ” Bibel-Lexikon “). 


“Ant.,” XX. 8. 8; cf. Acts xxxiii. i,f^. 






procurator at the head of it. This stern h’ne of 

policy Claudius did not deem it necessary to adopt, 

and under Felix,’ who succeeded Cumanus, the bonds 

of social order were dissolved. 


The choice of Felix (52-60) at such a critical 

period was most unfortunate. It was said even by the 

Romans that he exercised his powers in the spirit 

of a slave ; * St. Paul was one of the many victims 

of his avarice; 3 and his remedies for the disorders 

of Palestine only aggravated the disease.4 Under 

his procuratorship the Zealots and their allies, the 

Sicarii,5 or assassins became bolder and more defiant, 

and measures of severity produced no permanent 

result. Even in Jerusalem itself the procurator was 

incapable of holding the forces of anarchy in check. 

The functions of government were at times in 

abeyance ; riot and bloodshed defiled the streets ; 

assassinations took place with impunity within the 

Temple courts, and the worshipper at the feasts was 

in constant dread of having a dagger plunged into 

his heart by some mysterious hand. In the country 

districts the same lamentable disorder prevailed. 

Villages were sacked and burned down, houses 

plundered, the peacefully disposed were terrorized; 


‘ It is impossible to reconcile the conflicting accounts of Tacitus and 

Josephus with respect to Felix. Tacitus (“Ann.,” xii. 54) states 

explicitly and circumstantially that Felix ruled one portion of Palestine 

(Samaria), whilst Cumanus ruled the rest. Josephus, on the other hand 

(**Ant.,”xx. 7. i; *’ Bell. Jud.,” ii. 12. 8), asserts that he was sent 

by Claudius into Palestine after the dismissal of Cumanus, that is, in 

A.D. 52 or 53. 


« Tacitus,*’ HLst.,”v. 9. 3 Acts xxiv. 26. – ** Ann., “xii. 54. 


5 So called from the sica or dagger which they used. C/. ** Ant.,** 

XT. 8. 10. 






the friends of Rome murdered whenever an oppor- 

tunity presented itself. Passionate appeals were made 

to the people to revolt, and acquiescence in the 

established order of things was regarded as a crime. 

A feverish exaltation existed in the popular mind ; 

the air was filled with rumours of the supernatural, 

and multitudes were ready to follow any deluded 

visionary who undertook to verify his vocation by 

the performance of some miracle or the revelation of 

a sign from heaven. On the Mount of Olives, a Jew 

from Egypt ‘ was able to collect a great number of 

people to witness the lofty walls of Jerusalem fall 

down at his command. His followers, like the 

adherents of another fanatic named Theudas,* were 

dispersed or slain ; but the atmosphere of miracle 

which then hung over Palestine was fatal to the 

teachings of experience, and as soon as another 

visionary assumed the part of his baffled predecessor 

he immediately found a credulous multitude eager to 

espouse his cause. 


Two years after the appointment of Felix to the 

procuratorship, Claudius was poisoned at the instiga- 

tion of his wife Agrippina 3 (54) ; and her son Nero, 

in whose interest this crime was perpetrated, was pre- 




* Josephus, ** Ant,” xx. 8. 6. St. Paul was mistaken by the Roman 

commandant of Jerusalem for this Egyptian (Acts xxi. 38). 


* **Ant.,” XX. 5. I. Theudas was beheaded by Cuspius Fadus between 

A.D. 44-46. Some critics would identify this Theudas with the 

Theudas mentioned in Acts v. 36. C/. E. Zeller, ** Apostelges- 

chichte,” 132, s^. ; comp. on the other side, K. Wieseler, *’ Beitrage 

zur richtigen WUrdigung der Evangel ien, und der Evangel ischen 

Geschichte,” p. loi, s^. 


3 Tacitus, “Ann.,” xii. 66, 67. 






sented to the soldiers and proclaimed emperor ‘ (A.D. 

54-68). But the change which had taken place in 

the occupant of the throne produced no alteration in 

Roman policy with respect to Palestine. Felix re- 

mained for some time longer at the head of affairs, 

and was eventually replaced by Porcius Festus (A-D. 

60-62). The new procurator found himself confronted 

with a population in a state of anarchy, and although 

he made strenuous efforts to restore an outward sem- 

blance of order, the Zealots still continued to gain 

ground, visionaries still retained their hold upon the 

masses, and when Festus died (62) the disorder and 

confusion had become more deeply seated than be- 

fore,* Till the arrival of a successor to Festus, 

Ananus the high priest assumed supreme authority, 

and exercised it with extreme barbarity .3 James the 

Just 4 and many other Christians were sentenced to be 


‘ Nero was only seventeen when he became emperor. Suetonius, 

“Nero,” viii. 


» Josephus, “Ant.,” xx. 8. 9. ‘ Ibid., “Ant.,” xx. g, i. 


* The account of James, by I legesippus (Eiisebius, ” Hist.,” ii. 23), is 

to some extent ideal with an Ebionite colouring, but he b in su’ stantial 

agreement with Josephus as to the date of James’s death. According to 

Josephus, James perished in A.D. 62. I legesippus says he perished 

immediately before the siege of Jerusalem by Vespasian (rni iiWc 

OiffffTraoiavi^C iroXtopKet avrov^). In the account of Hegesippus, ” imme- 

diately ” (ciOi’c) might easily embrace a period of about seven years ; 

for it has to be remembered that Hegesippus, who wrote in the time of 

the Roman bishop Eleutherus (a.d. 174-189), is looking back upon an 

event which occurred more than a century before, and which he also 

wishes to connect with the fall of Jerusalem. Of course the further 

question remains as to whether this passage in Josephus (“Ant.,” xx. 

9. I ) which refers to James, as well as the passage which refers to Jesus, 

is not an interpolation (“Ant.,” xviii. 3. 3). Many critics hold that 

neither passage was in the original text, and it must be conceded that 

the manuscript of Josephus has been tampered with by Christian apolo- 






Stoned ; even the Jews felt his conduct to be intole- 

rable, and the people impatiently longed for the 

arrival of Albinus, the new procurator (62-64). Al- 

binus achieved as little success as his predecessors, 

and, judging by the nature of his proceedings, it is 

questionable if he expected much. He allowed sedi- 

tion to go on unchecked as long as he was paid by 

the seditious to overlook it ; he willingly accepted 

bribes from the Zealots to release their imprisoned 

companions ; by practising extortion on a wide scale 

he no doubt increased the number of the disaffected, 

and he was to all appearance more anxious to enrich 

himself than to pacify the distracted province. 


Gessius Florus (64-66), the last of the procurators, 

proved even a greater scourge than Albinus. Under 

his administration the patience of the people became 

exhausted,’ and the revolt, which terminated in the 

destruction of the Jewish state, began. The small- 

ness of the Roman garrison, as well as the mutinous 

temper of the masses, who had now gone over in a 

body to the Zealots,^ combined to render the revolt 

inevitable, but its approach was accelerated by the 

arbitrary conduct of the procurator. Whole districts 

were plundered and reduced to desolation ; all guaran- 




gists. But the recent investigations of Wieseler (“Jahrbiicher fur 

deutsche Theologie,” 1878, p. 16, st/.) and of Volkinar (“Jesus Naza- 

renus/* 1882, p. 335, j/., and ” Jahrbiicher fiir protestantische 

Theologie,” 1885, p. 186, s^.) seem to me to go a long way towards 

establishing the fact that Josephus did mention both Jesus and James, 

and that the existing text may be an embellishment, but is not a pure 



‘ Tacitus, “Hist.,” v. 10. ” Duravit patientia Tuda?is usque ad 

Gessium Florum.” * Josephus, ” Ant., ‘ xviii. 2. 6. 












Tower ctF^hinus 




Tower vT 









Tower of ZsJtnM 




Scale 1:2^000 






tees for the safety of life and property had disap- 

peared ; and numbers of the peaceably disposed 

inhabitants, finding the condition of Judaea becoming 

more and more intolerable, forsook the country and 

sought a home elsewhere. The first outbreak took 

place in Caesarea. It assumed the form of a street 

fight between the Jews and Greeks, which the Roman 

commander was not able to suppress. The flame of 

revolt spread to Jerusalem, and became most menacing 

when it was known that Florus had just taken seven- 

teen talents from the Temple treasury. Florus soon 

appeared upon the scene, and made this seditious 

movement in the Holy City a pretext for letting loose 

his soldiers on the inhabitants. A sad scene of pillage 

and murder was the result ; many eminent Jews were 

crucified, and by pursuing a policy of exasperation, 

Florus hoped to incite the populace into acts of re- 

bellion. In this design he partially succeeded ; serious 

fighting occurred in the streets of Jerusalem, the 

Zealots gained possession of the Temple Mount, and 

the Roman garrison was confined to the fortress of 

Antonia. Quiet, however, was for a time restored. 

Florus left the city, and Cestius Gallus, the legate of 

Syria, who had been apprised of the dangerous pos- 

ture of affairs, sent one of his officers to Jerusalem to 

inquire into the true nature of the disturbances,’ 


When Neapolitanus, the officer charged with this 

duty, arrived in the Holy City, accompanied by 

Agrippa II., the tumult had abated, and he was re- 

ceived by the people with many outward tokens of 

respect. After his departure, Agrippa, conscious of 


« Josephus, **Bell. Jud.,” ii. 14. 2-16. 2. 






the burning passions that lay beneath this momentary 

calm, exhorted the populace in impressive language 

to remain at peace with Rome. But no amount of 

persuasion would induce them to submit for the future 

to the authority of Florus. For venturing upon such 

a suggestion, Agrippa was stoned by the multitude, 

and had to flee from the city.’ Every day the breach 

between Rome and Judaea was becoming wider, and, 

in spite of every effort of the friends of peace, the 

Zealots were rapidly making any pacific solution im- 

possible. Headed by Menahem, another son of Judas 

the Galilean, they captured the fortress of Masada, 

and put the Roman garrison to the sword. In ac- 

cordance with their principles, the daily sacrifice which 

had been offered for the emperor since the days of 

Augustus was discontinued — a step which was equiva- 

lent to a declaration of war with Rome. Many of the 

priests now joined the ranks of the disaffected, and 

Eleazar, the son of Ananias the high priest, placed 

himself at the head of the war party in Jerusalem. 

Most of the notables in the Holy City were terrified 

at the prospect of a rebellion, and Agrippa sent them 

three thousand men to assist the Roman garrison and 

hold the Zealots in check. But Agrippa’s soldiers 

were unequal to the task, and after a series of bloody 

conflicts in the streets, they had to lay down their 

arms. In the midst of the disorder the public records 

were destroyed. The palaces of the high priest and 

the Herodian family were burnt to the ground. The 

opponents of the Zealots had to flee into hiding-places, 

and Ananias the high priest was discovered and 


* Josephus, “Bell. Jud.,” ii. i6. 2; 17. I. 






slain. It was now a capital offence for any Jew to 

be suspected of desiring to live at peace with Rome. 

Flushed with their success over the forces of Agrippa,’ 

the Zealots now directed their efforts against the 

Roman garrison ; the Romans were so small in 

number and so hard pressed that they offered to 

surrender on condition of being permitted to with- 

draw from the country. These terms of capitulation 

were solemnly accepted by the Jewish leaders, but the 

Romans had no sooner laid down their arms thain 

they were basely massacred. It was a war of exter- 

mination upon which the Zealots had entered ; Pales- 

tine must, they declared, be purified from the pollu- 

tions of the heathen ; frightful massacres took place 

in different parts of the country, and the non-Jewish 

population, when unable to defend itself, was merci- 

lessly put to the sword.^ 


When tidings of these events began to arrive at 

Antioch, the capital of the proconsulate of Syria, the 

Romans quickly realized the gravity of the situation, 

and Cestius Gallus immediately made preparations 

for suppressing the revolt With a force of twenty 

thousand Roman soldiers, and at least an equal 

number of auxiliaries, he commenced his march upon 

Jerusalem. In the month of September (A.D. 66) the 

Roman army appeared before the walls of the Holy 

City. But Gallus met with such an obstinate resis- 

tance that he determined to abandon the siege. His 

retreat was most disastrous, and terminated in a head- 

long flight. In addition to losing over six thousand 


* Philo, ** Leg. ad Caium,” eil. Mangey, 2. 592. 

» Josephus, ” Bell. JuH.,” ii. 17. 2 ; 18. 8. 






men and several superior officers, his war material, 

baggage, and military chest fell into the hands of the 

victors, who returned triumphantly to Jerusalem laden 

with the spoils of war. Fired with the success of the 

Zealots, all classes now espoused the cause of national 

independence. The aristocracy placed themselves at 

the head of it The whole of Palestine was for the 

present free, a government was organized, and vigorous 

preparations were made for the approaching conflict 

with Rome.’ 


The disastrous expedition of Cestius Gallus com- 

pelled the Roman government to take a serious view 

of the rebellion, and it was decided at the court of 

Nero to send an officer of the highest rank to Pales- 

tine for the purpose of suppressing it. Titus Flavius 

Vespasian,* a general of great sagacity and experience, 

who had achieved distinction in Germany and Britain, 

was invested with the powers of an imperial legate, 

and appointed to command the army destined to 

operate against the Jews.3 In the spring of the year 

A.l). 67, Vespasian assembled his forces, numbering 

about fifty thousand men,4 at Ptolemais on the sea 

coast, and made preparations for the reduction of the 

neighbouring province of Galilee. Here Josephus the 

historian was in command of the Jews, but the Zealot 

John of Gischala was the soul of the revolt In the 


‘ Josephus, **Bell. Jud.,” ii. 18. 9; 22. i. 


” Suetonius, ” Vespasian,” 4 ; Tacitus, “Agricola,” 13. 


3 Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” iii. i. 3, 


* Josephus ( ” Bell. Jud.,” iii. 4. 2) says Vespasian’s army numbered 

sixty thousand men, but, according to the calculations of Mommsen 

(** Romische Geschichte,*’ v. 534, note 1), his forces did not amount 

to more than fifty thousand. 






first campaign Galilee was brought into subjection ; 

Josephus fell into the hands of the Romans, and John 

fled with a number of his followers to Jerusalem. 

While the Roman army was in winter quarters (A.D. 

67-8), a terrible state of anarchy prevailed in the Holy 

City. John of Gischala, with the assistance of wild 

Idumaean hordes, overthrew the aristocratic govern- 

ment, massacred the most distinguished inhabitants, 

and literally drenched the city with blood. Vespasian 

was pressed by his subordinates to utilize this fratri- 

cidal strife for the advantage of the Roman arms. 

But he preferred allowing the Jews to continue 

weakening their powers of resistance, and was con- 

scious that the appearance of a hostile army before 

the city walls would be a signal for all factions to rally 

round the common cause. When the Roman general 

again took the field, he deferred marching on Jeru- 

salem till all effective opposition had been crushed 

out in Peraea, Samaria, and Idumaea. In the early 

part of the summer these operations were successfully, 

accomplished ; the rear of the Roman army was now 

secure from hostile assaults, and Vespasian was making 

dispositions for a close investment of the Holy City, 

when tidings reached the camp that the emperor Nero 

was dead » (June, 68). As Vespasian was now with- 

out orders, all active operations were suspended, and 

the Zealots were able for some time longer to con- 

tinue the work of self-destruction. For the moment 

the rebellion in Judaea ceased to occupy the first place 

in Vespasian’s thoughts; civil war had broken out 

respecting a successor to Nero ; the legions were at 


* Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” iv. 9. 2. 






variance as to the choice of a new emperor. Galba 

Otho and Vitellius were set up and rapidly over- 

thrown (A.D. 68-9) ; and finally the legions in the 

East proclaimed Vespasian, and seated him securely 

on the throne {A.D 69-79)’ 


For a period of nearly two years the war in Jud!ea 

remained at a standstill. At the expiration of that 

time Vespasian, whose hands were now free deter- 

mined to complete the task he had undertaken in the 

reign of Nero, and to restore imperial authority 

within the walls of Jerusalem. An army consisting 

of four legions, besides a body of Syrian auxiliaries 

assembled at Cssarea, and the emperor’s son Titus, 

then about thirty years of age, was appointed to the 

chief command.” At the head of this force Titus 

advanced through Samaria, and about the Feast of 

the Passover (A.D. 70) the Roman troops encamped 

before the Holy City. Jerusalem was strongly 

fortified ; to capture it was a formidable undertaking. 

It was protected on all sides by a triple circle of 

walls ; in the interior of the city there were besides 

the massive fortifications around the Temple three 

mighty towers of enormous strength. The garrison 

consisted of the most determined and fanatical 

adherents of Judaism, whose desperate valour com- 

pensated to a great extent for their want of 


‘ Vcsp.,” V. J,/. ; Tadlus, “Hist.,” 74, sj. Josephus 

1) makes ihc Mesaanic hopes of ihe Jews refer 10 ihe 

isian. The remarks of Tadlus (” Hisl.,” v. 13I and 

1 ,” 4) aie evidenily based on ihe slalenienls of 

:rlach, ” Die Wuwsagungen des Allen Testaments in 

n. Josephus,- p. 41, ly. 

ell. Jud,,” \v II. 5, sf. 






discipline. The defenders of the city were also 

sustained by the belief that the God of Israel would 

aid them in preserving His sanctuary from the pol- 

lutions of the heathen, and would intervene at the 

appointed moment to confound the enemies of His 

people. These lofty hopes, however, did not prevent 

the Zealots from dividing themselves into hostile and 

embittered factions during the long interval of respite 

which elapsed between the departure of Vespasian 

and the arrival of Titus. Instead of utilizing this 

period in strenuous preparations for defence, it was in 

great part wasted in bloody encounters between the 

rival parties which had sprung up within the ranks of 

the Zealots themselves. Ultimately the struggle for 

supremacy lay between John of Gischala, who held 

the Temple, and a certain Simon of Geraza, who held 

the city. Many of the followers of these two chiefs 

had perished in the daily conflicts which took place 

in the streets, and these conflicts continued till the 

appearance of the Roman army before Jerusalem 

compelled both parties to act in concert for its 



Titus, after an ineffectual attempt to treat with the 

insurgents, assailed Jerusalem from the north, and in 

a few weeks his soldiers obtained possession of the 

two outer walls and the lower portion of the city. 

The Romans now pushed forward upon the re- 

maining fortifications, hut failing in their efforts to 

storm the tower of Antonia, they surrounded the city 

with a wall, so as to starve the defenders into sub- 

mission. As soon as this work was completed they 

renewed their operations against Antonia, and on the 






5th of July it was carried by surprise. Fully another 

month elapsed before the Temple which was burnt 

down during the assault upon it ‘ fell into the hands 

of the Roman commander (August loth). The loss 

of the Temple was a grievous blow to the Zealots, and 

entailed upon them an immense sacrifice of life. 

Some of them succeeded in joining their comrades in 

the upper city, where a terrible famine was raging, 

and although hope was now well-nigh extinguished, 

the insurgents were resolved to hold out to the very 

last. Three weeks after the destruction of the 

Temple the Romans delivered a final assault on the 

upper city ; the Jews offered but a feeble resistance, 

and after an unprecedented struggle of five months’ 

duration Jerusalem lay once more at the feet of 

Rome (Sept 7, 70). Titus ordered the place to be 


‘ It is a debated point with critics whether Titus wished to save the 

Temple or not. Josephus (‘* Bell. Jud.,” vi. 4. 3-6) says expressly that 

Titus was opposed to its destruction, and when he saw it was on fire, 

vainly tried to induce his soldiers to put out the flames. On the other 

hand, Sulpicius Scverus (circa a.d. 360-420) asserts that Titus wished 

it to be destroyeil. ** Fertur Titus adhibito consilio prius deliherasse, 

an templum tanti operis everteret. Etenim nonnuUis videbatur, sedem 

sacratam ultra omnia mortalia illustrem non oportere deleri, quae servata 

modestiae Romanx testimonium, diruta perennem crudelitatis notam 

proeberet, at contra alii et Titus ipse evertendum in primis templum 

censebant, quo plenius Judaeorum et Christianorum religio tolleretur ** 

(*’ Sulpicius Severus Chronicorum,” lib. ii. 30.6). “Corpus Scrip- 

torum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum,” vol. i. 85, Vindolwnae, 1866. 

According to J. Bemays (” Ueber die Chronik des Sulpicius Severus”), 

this passage rests upon a lost portion of Tacitus. Bemays is followed 

by writers of eminence like Mommsen and Harnack, and if his supposi- 

tion is correct, and he brings forward very convincing arguments in 

defence of it, we are brought to a standstill by the question whether 

Josephus or Tacitus is in this instance the more trustworthy authority. 

Against Bemays compare E. Schuerer, ” Neutest. Zeitgeschichie,” p. 

346 ; GraeU, * Geschichte der Juden,” iii. 538 (1888). 






demolished. A number of the captives, and among 

them John of Gischala and Simon of Gerasa, were 

reserved to adorn the triumph of the conqueror ; the 

rest either perished in the Roman amphitheatres, or 

were transported to Egypt to labour in the mines. 

The capture of Masada, a Jewish fortress on the 

south-western shores of the Dead Sea, put a termina- 

tion to one of the fiercest struggles recorded in 

history (a.d. 73). 


The implacable attitude of the Zealots had taught 

Vespasian that it was no longer possible to govern 

Judaea in accordance with the principles of his pre- 

decessors. The policy pursued by them of allowing 

the Jews to manage their internal affairs subject to 

the cursory supervision of a procurator was liberal in 

its aim, and had proved successful in other parts of 

the empire, but it failed in Palestine in consequence 

of the political aspect which religious feeling had 

assumed in the minds of the population. 


The perfect freedom enjoyed by the doctors of the 

Law under a system of local autonomy enabled them 

to turn the synagogues into schools of sedition. An 

ignorant and fanatical multitude had been trained 

from childhood to consider that it was at variance 

with their religion to accept a foreign yoke. It is 

not therefore surprising that every true son of the 

Law felt a burden upon his conscience till he was in 

arms against the power of Rome. This dangerous 

condition of popular feeling remained for the most 

part unknown to the Romans, and if symptoms of 

disaffection at times became manifest, they w^ere 

probably treated by the Roman officials with a lofty 






disdain. In their eyes it no doubt seemed impossible 

that a petty Oriental nationality would ever venture 

into open conflict with the colossal forces at the 

command of the Caesars. The Romans, accustomed 

to regard human society from a secular point of view, 

had no notion of the overwhelming potency of 

religion in the Jewish mind, and remained un- 

conscious of the deep and powerful passions which 

religious sanctions were implanting in the Jewish 

heart. It was not till the rebellion had been crushed 

that the Romans recognized the nature of the people 

with whom they had to deal. A state which could 

produce such men as the Zealots, who were just as 

irreconcilable after defeat as they were before it, was 

seen to be a constant source of menace to the empire, 

and its continued existence as an organized com- 

munity was clearly incompatible with imperial order, 

stability, and peace. If the smaller organism was 

not to cripple or paralyse the larger one, the only 

course before Vespasian was to decree the dissolution 

of the Jewish state. It was a harsh measure, but the 

necessities of imperial policy demanded it Accord- 

ingly all the outward symbols of a separate nation- 

ality were as far as possible obliterated. Jerusalem 

and the Temple were purposely left in ruins. The 

High Priesthood and the Sanhedrin were also 

abolished, and no centre of authority was permitted 

to remain. Even the Jewish Temple, which had 

existed for some centuries in Egypt, was now shut 

up ; it was determined to prevent this sanctuary from 

becoming a new source of disturbance and dis- 

affection. The Temple tax, which the Jews had been 






in the habit of sending as a pious offering to Jeru- 

salem, had now to be paid into the imperial treasury. 

The transformation of this offering into a Roman 

impost was probably intended to remind the Jews of 

their true position in the empire. In pursuance of 

the policy of completely severing Palestine from its 

past, a colony of veterans was settled near Jerusalem, 

the chief cities of the province were re-organized 

upon Western principles, and a determined effort was 

made to Romanize the whole land. The results of 

Vespasian’s policy were only partially successful ; a 

large force had to be maintained in the country, and 

the Jews, after all their disasters, were still the most 

important element in the community. 






After the destruction of Jerusalem Titus left 

Judcea, and one of his lieutenants was entrusted with 

the task of extinguishing the last embers of resist- 

ance. In the autumn the victorious Roman cele- 

brated the birthday of his brother Domitian and of 

his father Vespasian in a manner which rather belies 

his reputation for humanity. At the festivities which 

took place at Ciesarea and Berytus in honour of these 

events thousands of Jewish captives were placed in the 

public arena, and either perished at the gladiatorial 

shows or in combats with wild beasts.’ But at 

Antioch and Alexandria, both of which cities he soon 

afterwards visited, Titus was restored to a better 

frame of mind, and would not listen to the solicita- 

tions of the Gentile population when they asked him 

to deprive the Jews of their ancient civil privileges. 

” How can this be done,” he said to the people of 

Antioch ; ” their country is now destroyed, and no 

other place will receive thcm.”= At this time Titus 


Josephus, ” Bdl. Jud.,” vii. 3. I. ‘ Ibid., vii 5. 2. 






was deeply enamoured with a Jewish princess of the 

Herodian family, Berenice, one of King Agrippa’s 

daughters, and a woman of great personal beauty 

and charm. This princess succeeded in fascinating 

the Roman soon after his arrival in the East ; she 

became his inseparable companion, and, although her 

character for virtue was at a low ebb, it was currently 

believed that she would one day become his wife.’ 

It is possible that Berenice may have exerted her 

influence in favour of the Jews outside Palestine, but, 

as they had remained passive during the progress of 

the insurrection, there was no reason why they should 

be punished for the sins of their co-religionists in 

Judaea. The love of Titus for Berenice did not unfit 

him, like the famous amour of Antony and Cleopatra, 

for the serious business of life.^ A rumour arose after 

the fall of Jerusalem that Titus was aiming at the 

overthrow of Vespasian, and this rumour received 

fresh currency when it became known that he had 

worn a diadem during some religious festival in 

Egypt. Titus, in order to dispel these unjust sus- 

picions, hurried home to Rome, and, appearing 

unexpectedly before the aged emperor, exclaimed, 

” I am here, my father, I am here ! ” 3 


Immediately after his arrival in the capital Titus 

and Vespasian celebrated the triumph which the 

Senate had decreed them for their victories in 

Palestine. The triumphal pageant was organized 

on a scale of unusual magnificence, and the Roman 

populace were invited to gaze on representations of 


« Suetonius, “Titus,” vii. ‘ Tacitus, ** Hist.,” ii. 2. 


3 Suetonius, “Titus,” v. 






the battles which had been fought as well as on the 

actual trophies captured in the course of the cam- 

paign. Among these trophies were the spoils of the 

Temple — the sacred vessels, the golden candlestick, 

and the rolls of the Law. Seven hundred of the 

tallest and most handsome among the Jewish captives 

walked in front of Vespasian and Titus, and when the 

great procession reached the temple of Jupiter Capito- 

linus, it stood still until a tragic ceremony had been 

performed. It was an ancient Roman custom that the 

enemy’s general should be put to death while the 

people waited at this sacred spot. On this occasion 

Simon Bar Giora, one of the principal leaders of the 

Zealots, was the hapless victim, and when the 

messenger arrived to announce that the Jewish captain 

was slain, the multitude sent up a shout of joy, and 

prayers and sacrifices were forthwith offered up with 

great solemnity in the Temple.’ To commemorate 

the overthrow of the Jews gold, silver, and bronze 

coins were also struck. On some of these pieces we 

find the image of a Jewish warrior with his hands 

bound ; Judaea is also represented in the form of a 

woman sitting in desolation under the shade of 

a palm tree, while around is the sad inscription, 

“Judaea captive.” ^ Xhe sacred ornaments of the 

Jewish Temple were deposited in the Roman Temple 

of Peace, and the Book of the Law was kept in the 

imperial palace. All these tokens of the humiliated 

people have long since passed away, but the mag- 

nificent arch which was soon afterwards erected in 


‘ Josephus, *’ Bell. Jud.,” vii. 4 ; Suetonius, ‘* Titus,” vi. 

” Madden, “Jewish Coinage,” 183. 






Rome to commemorate the exploits of Titus still 

bears witness in all its shattered grandeur to the 

downfall of the Jewish national cause. 


When Titus returned from the East he was ad- 

mitted by his father Vespasian to a share of the 

supreme power. Amid the responsibilities of empire 

Titus still retained his affection for Berenice; she was 

invited to visit him at Rome, and for some years lived 

in the imperial palace as if she were his wife.’ The 

amour had become so notorious that the Athenians 

erected a statue in her honour, bearing the inscrip- 




tion, ” The great queen daughter of the great king, 

Julius Agrippa.”” But the people of Rome were not 

so complaisant as the Greek provincials ; they had a 

peculiar hatred of Eastern women, and after a time 

Titus, in deference to a rising tide of popular feeling, 

was obliged to break off his connection with the 

Jewish princess. After the death of Vespasian (A.D. 

79) and the accession of Titus Berenice ^ain ap- 

peared in Rome, animated with the hope of renewing 

the old relations with her lover. It is possible that 

‘ Dio Cassiu?, Ixvi 15. ‘ ” Coipua Inscriplionum Griece,” i. 361. 






Titus, when they unwillingly separated,* held out this 

prospect before her, but time and prudence had pro- 

duced an alteration in his designs, or perhaps he was 

resolved to show the Romans that their emperor had 

the power of sacrificing afTairs of the heart to the 

imperative demands of state, for it is related that 

Berenice exercised her blandishments upon him in 

vain.2 This princess was the last of the Herodian 

family who played a conspicuous part before the 

world, and after the death of her brother Agrippa, 

who held a small principality in the north-east of 

Palestine, the Herodians sank back into obscurity. 


The reign of Titus was of short duration (A.D. 

79-81), but in the brief period to which it was confined 

he succeeded to such an extent in gaining the affec- 

tion of all classes that he was afterwards spoken of 

as the Delight of the human race.3 Feeling that his 

end was approaching, he opened the curtains of his 

litter on his way to the Cutilian springs, and, looking 

wistfully into the heavens, pathetically exclaimed that 

he did not deserve to die, for, with one exception, 

there was none of his acts that needed to be repented 

of.4 Titus was succeeded by his brother Domitian 

(a.D. 81-96), a man whose character was full of 

contradictory elements. During the first half of his 

reign Domitian administered the affairs of the empire 

with wisdom and firmness, but in the latter part the 

innate ferocity of his disposition gained the mastery 

over him, and led him at times to perpetrate the 

most wanton and barbarous atrocities. At this time 


‘ Suetonius, ” Titus,” 7. » Dio Cassius, Ixvi. 15-18. 


3 Suetonius, ” Titus,’* i. -• Ibid., ” Titus,” la 






many of the Jews who had sought a refuge in Rome 

after the destruction of their country had to live in 

a condition of the most abject poverty. They 

inhabited the lowest quarters of the city, and all their 

earthly possessions consisted in a basket and a bed of 

straw. It was only by resorting to begging at the 

houses of the wealthy that these wretched outcasts 

were able to eke out a miserable and precarious 

existence.* In these circumstances it is not sur- 

prising that many of them, in order to evade the 

small tribute that Vespasian had imposed upon the 

race, either dissimulated their origin, or did not make 

the statutory public declaration of the fact. The 

agents of Domitian, who were embarrassed for want 

of money towards the close of his reign, sometimes 

resorted to the most stringent measures in order to 

collect the Jewish tax, and Suetonius, the Roman 

historian, says that, when he was a youth, he once 

saw an imperial procurator in the midst of a large 

crowd compel an old man of ninety to pass through 

the degrading ordeal of proving whether he was cir- 

cumcised or not.2 The painful impression which this 

incident produced upon the historian shows that such 

arbitrary proceedings were not usual with the Roman 

administration, and it is probable that it was the 

isolated act of an over-zealous official, and not part 

of any organized system for extorting the Jewish 

tribute. On the other hand, however, Domitian 

visited the utmost penalties of the law upon certain 

Romans who were charged with Judaism. Accord- 

ing to Roman ideas to renounce one’s religion was 


• Juvenal, “Satires,” iii. ^ Suetonius, ” Domitian,” xii. 






equivalent to renouncing one’s country, and at a 

period when all religions, with the exception of 

Christianity — the universalistic principles of which 

were then almost unknown — ^were national and a 

part of patriotism, the Roman view of the matter 

was substantially correct. In accordance with a 

statute, probably dating from the time of Vespasian, 

which forbade Judaizing, Domitian caused two Roman 

nobles, Flavins Clemens and Acilius Glabrio, to be 

executed. But in instituting proceedings against 

these senators it is very likely that the tyrant was 

merely actuated by political motives, for Clemens 

was his relative, and Glabrio was also accused of 

fighting with wild beasts in the arena, an accusation 

quite inconsistent with the other charge of Judaism.^ 

At the time the sentences were inflicted Domitian was 

aware that the Romans had become weary of his 

hateful yoke ; conspiracies and plots were thickening 

around him, and he no doubt hoped that a few acts 

of vigour would strike terror among his enemies. 

But in these expectations he was disappointed, and 

a few months after the death of Clemens, Domitian 

perished by assassination (A.D. 96). 


The Senate selected one of its own members, 

Marcus Cocceius Nerva (A.D. 96-98), as Domitian’s 

successor. The new emperor had reached the age 

of sixty-five when he was called to supreme power, 

and although he had occupied high positions in the 

State he was neither distinguished by great talents 

nor conspicuous services. It is very probable that 

he was chosen by the senators on account of the well- 


‘ Duruy, ” Histoire des Remains,” iv. 235. 






known mildness and moderation of his character. 

When Nerva assumed the imperial purple he did not 

belie his antecedents, and the humane measures which 

characterized his short reign of sixteen months were 

in signal contrast to the harshness and barbarity that 

disgraced the name of his predecessor. His accession 

was a welcome change to the Jews, and although the 

Jewish tribute was not remitted it was henceforth 

levied with so much discretion and forbearance that 

coins were struck to commemorate the fact’ During 

this period the friends of Judaism could also breathe 

more freely, and it was no longer permitted, as in the 

time of Domitian, to bring accusations against them 

because of their beliefs. It was perhaps fortunate 

for Nerva that his reign was short ; his excessive 

mildness degenerated into mere weakness and timidity, 

and it was said by a competent witness that the 

empire was falling to pieces under his rule.^ Nerva, 

however, had the wisdom to perceive that he needed 

the assistance of a stronger hand than his own, and 

accordingly adopted Trajan, the most distinguished 

general of his time.^ Three months after this event 

Nerva died, and Trajan was accepted as his successor 

by the army and the Senate (A.D. 98). 


In selecting Trajan (a.d. 98-117) Nerva rendered 

a most important service to the Roman people. The 

new emperor is one of the most commanding and 

attractive figures in the history of ancient society, 

and his character is equally worthy of admiration, 

whether we look at him as a soldier, as a statesman, 


‘ Dio Cassius, Ixvii. i ; Eckhel, ‘* Doctrina Numorum,” vi. 404. 

‘ Pliny, ** Panegyric,” 6. 3 Dio Cassius, Ixviii. 4. 






or in his private capacity as a man. Brave and in- 

trepid in the field, just, laborious, and economical as 

an administrator, genial, affable, and modest as a 

companion, Trajan, with his fine figure and noble 

countenance, happily united in his own person all the 

highest qualities of the Roman race. To Trajan has 

been ascribed the lofty sentiment that it is better the 

guilty should escape than that the innocent should 

suffer,^ and such was the veneration in which his 

memory was held by later times, that it became a 

custom with the Senate on the accession of a new 

emperor to hail him with the salutation, ” May you 

be more fortunate than Augustus and better than 

Trajan ! ” 2 


From such a prince the Jews had nothing to fear 

and it is likely that they participated in the general 

prosperity which distinguished his reign. But the 

destruction of the Holy City and the demolition of 

the Temple had awakened feelings of resentment 

which even an era of unwonted prosperity could not 

mollify or assuage, and after a truce of nearly fifty 

years the Jews once more resolved to measure them- 

selves against the colossal force of Rome. It was 

whilst Trajan was engaged in war with the Parthians 

that the Jews broke out into revolt (a. i). 116), and 

on this occasion the insurrectionary movement was 

participated in by the whole Jewish population of the 

East. The Parthian war was not of Trajan’s seeking. 

For forty years the Romans had acquired the right 

of placing a king on the throne of Armenia, but in 

the year 114 the Parthian monarch set aside the 


‘ Digest. xlviiL 1 9, 5. ‘ Eutropius, viiL 5. 






prince appointed by Trajan, and conferred the king- 

dom of Armenia on one of his own nominees.’ 

Some time before this signal affront to Roman pride 

the attitude of the Parthians had frequently been one 

of ill-concealed hostility, and although Trajan was 

now about sixty years of age he determined to take 

the field in person to chastise the insolence of his 

enemy and strengthen the frontiers of the empire. 

In the spring of 115 the old emperor having restored 

discipline among the Syrian legions and reinforced 

them with veterans from Pannonia, began his march 

from Antioch to the Euphrates. After futile negotia- 

tions with the Parthians Armenia was made a Roman 

province, and the whole of Mesopotamia submitted 

without a blow. In the following year Trajan pur- 

sued his way along the banks of the Tigris : Ctesiphon, 

the Persian capital, fell into his hands, and his pro- 

gress was only stopped by the waters of the Persian 

Gulf. Seeing a vessel about to sail for India, and 

recollecting the exploits of Alexander, he is reported 

to have said, ” Were I yet young I would not stop till 

I, too, had reached the limits of the Macedonian con- 

quest.” But these aspirations, if it is true that Trajan 

ever cherished them, were soon dissipated by the 

news that the populations behind him had risen in 

revolt, Trajan hastily retraced his steps, and after 

much severe fighting in which one legion was cut to 

pieces, the emperor succeeded in mastering the in- 



* Mommsen, v. 401 ; Merivale (” Romans under the Empire,” vii. 

370-1) thinks that fear of the Jews and Christians had a share in 

making Trajan undertake the Parthian war. There is practically no 

proof of this. * Mommsen, v. 397, s^. 






Among the most determined of Trajan’s opponents 

in the course of this insurrection were the Jews of 

Mesopotamia. Lucius Quietus, one of the emperor’s 

most trusted lieutenants, operated against them, and 

received orders from his chief to expel the Jewish 

population from the province.* While Quietus was 

endeavouring to carry these instructions into effect 

news arrived at the Roman headquarters of the 

alarming revolt that had taken place among the 

Jewish colonists on the eastern shores of the Mediter- 

ranean (A.D. 1 16). Concerning the immediate cause 

of this widespread outbreak it is impossible to speak 

with certainty ; it must have been to some extent 

preconcerted, otherwise it would not have sprung 

into existence almost simultaneously in so many 

districts. The revolting atrocities which characterized 

the conduct of the Jews tend to show that they were 

largely under the sway of a wild and aimless fanati- 

cism, and if they had any settled purpose it appa- 

rently consisted in a resolve to exterminate their 

Gentile fellow-citizens, and to found an independent 

Jewish state amid the desolation they had created. 

In the island of Cyprus alone the Jews put two hun- 

dred and forty thousand of the native population to 

death, and in Cyrene on the African coast more than 

two hundred thousand Greeks and Romans were 

brutally massacred. In both of these provinces it is 

probable that the Jews outnumbered the rest of the 

inhabitants. After the revolt was quelled Cyrene had 

to be re-colonized. Wherever the Jews obtained the 

mastery they behaved like hordes of cannibals, eating 


* Euscbius, ** Hist. Eccles.,” iv. 2* 

























the flesh of their victims and smearing themselves 

with their blood.’ 


The moment for revolt was well chosen, and the 

temporary success which attended it was no doubt 

owing to the fact that the exigencies of the Parthian 

war had almost depleted the Eastern provinces of 

Roman troops. When the insurrection extended to 

Egypt the Prefect Lupus was unable to hold the field, 

and had to take refuge among the fortifications of 

Alexandria. Here he awaited the arrival of Martius 

Turbo, who was despatched by Trajan with powerful 

reinforcements to the scene of hostilities. Turbo was 

an able officer, and once more taught the Jews that 

the frantic onset of Oriental fanaticism was unavailing 

against the cool bravery of the West After a bitter 

and somewhat prolonged struggle the Roman com- 

mander succeeded in rescuing the oppressed popula- 

tions of Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus ; everywhere he 

cut down the insurgents without mercy, and at 

Alexandria the rebel population was almost anni- 

hilated. As a result of their atrocities, the Jews were 

henceforth forbidden to set foot on the island of 

Cyprus, and the feeling of resentment against them 

had reached such a pitch among the inhabitants that 

even shipwrecked Jews were threatened with death.* 


The rebellious attitude of the Jews had seriously 

interfered with the success of Trajan’s policy in the 

East. From a military point of view the Euphrates 

was not a satisfactory frontier, and Trajan considered 

that the empire would enjoy greater security if its 


‘ Dio Cassius, Ixviii. 32 ; Eusebius, ** Hist. Eccles.,” iv. 2. 

^ Dio Cassius, Ixviii. 32. 






boundaries were extended to the banks of the Tigris. 

The line of the Tigris was much more easy to defend 

against incursions from the East, and it was not so 

much lust of conquest as the exposed position of the 

Romans in that quarter of the world which led the 

emperor to involve himself in a Parthian war. But 

the formidable outbreak of the Jews in Mesopotamia 

and on the Mediterranean contributed not a little to 

throw the emperor’s great designs into confusion, 

and when he returned to Antioch (A.D. 117) with his 

legions shattered in an unsuccessful attempt to carry 

the desert fortress of Hatra, the Romans retained but 

a shadowy authority over the vast regions which had 

been lying at their feet the year before. The em- 

peror, however, was not to be baffled in his purpose 

by these unforeseen strokes of adversity, and had 

determined to renew the campaign in the following 

spring. But while meditating on these warlike 

schemes for the future the hand of death was upon 

him ; on the journey from Antioch to Rome, where 

a triumph awaited him, his martial spirit passed 

away’ (Aug. 8, 117). 


Before setting out for the capital Trajan left his 

relative Hadrian in command of the legions at 

Antioch. Whether Trajan in the closing moments 

of his life adopted Hadrian or not is a matter of 

some uncertainty. The distinctions which were con- 

ferred one after another upon Hadrian from the time 

of his entry into public life, culminating in his ap- 

pointment to the most important military position 

in the empire, point almost conclusively to the sup- 


* Mommsen, v. 401. 






position that the aged emperor intended Hadrian to 

succeed him ‘ But whatever may have been the cir- 

cumstances which elevated Hadrian to the imperial 

dignity, his accession (a-D. i 17-138) was a fortunate 

event for the commonwealth. He was in every way 

capable of being entrusted with the destinies of the 

vast and intricate organization of which he had 

become the chief Hadrian was a man of great ver- 

satility and breadth of view. He had an insatiable 

desire for light on all conceivable subjects, and de- 

lighted to range over the whole field of knowledge, 

speculation, and superstition. With the reputation 

of being the very reverse of austere in his private life, 

he still appreciated the severe philosophy of the 

Stoics, and was at the same time at home among the 

soothsayers and magic men who crowded around him 

in the East. Hadrian took a keen, and yet amused, 

interest in the multitude of faiths which in his day 

were contending with one another for supremacy, but 

he gave a complete adhesion to none of them, and 

was ahvays more anxious to understand than to 

believe their doctrines. In public life Hadrian dis- 

played many of the highest qualities of a rulef. He 

did more than any of his predecessors to organize 

the imperial system, and tempered its inherent ab- 

solutism by surrounding the head of the executive 

with a trained body of competent officials for the 

different departments of public business. Hadrian 

lived very little in Rome; most of his time was spent 

in visiting the various provinces of the empire, and 

in making himself accurately acquainted with the 


Duruy, iv. 307, s{/. 






real condition of the inhabitants. The happiness 

of the people was the supreme object of Hadrian’s 

policy ; justice and moderation was the spirit in 

which that object was pursued.* 


In the East the new emperor reverted to the prin- 

ciples of Augustus. He abandoned Trajan’s schemes 

of aggrandisement, concluded peace with the Par- 

thians, and the line of the Euphrates continued to be 

the eastern limit of the empire. Although Hadrian 

was a good soldier he had no desire to play the part 

of a conqueror, and his inexhaustible activity was 

devoted to works of reform and peace. The pacific 

temper of Hadrian’s administration produced a 

favourable impression upon many of the Jew?, and 

the putting of Lucius Quietus to death soon after his 

accession was looked upon by some of them as a 

punishment for the harsh manner in which this com- 

mander had suppressed the rebellion in Palestine and 

Mesopotamia.^ Hadrian is the only emperor who is 

spoken of in the Sibylline Oracles of this period in 

a sincere tone of admiration. Great hopes are built 

upon him by the pious Jew of Alexandria who gives 

utterance to his expectations through the medium of 

the Sibyl. Hadrian is described by this writer in an 

oracular manner as the man with a silver helmet who 

bears the name of a sea.. He is apostrophized in 

lofty terms as an eminent, an excellent, a brilliant 

sovereign who knows all things. He is a second 

Cyrus, and the priests are exhorted to appear before 


* C/. Gibbon, chap. iii. ; Renan (** L’Eglise chr^tienne,” 1879, p. 2, 

sf/.) gives an admirable account of Hadrian’s character. 


* Hamburger, ii. 326. 






him in their white linen garments in order that the 

Temple of God may be restored ‘ 


The hopes of the Sibyl were probably based upon 

Hadrian’s well-known love for restoring the decayed 

magnificence of the past. Whenever the emperor in 

the course of his wanderings came upon the desolate 

remains of former greatness it was difficult for him to 

resist the temptation to restore them. His immense 

constructions were to be seen in every province of the 

empire, and many of the dilapidated towns of Syria 

were for a time called back to life through his in- 

strumentality. On Roman coins of this period 

Hadrian is represented as raising Judaea and her 

children from the dust,^ and it is possible that these 

coins were intended to commemorate some decree 

of his for the restoration of Jerusalem. Since its 

destruction by Titus the Holy City had remained in 

ruins and the sanctuary of Israel had become a haunt 

for beasts of prey. Hadrian had seen the desolation 

created by his predecessor, and was induced by a 

variety of reasons to rebuild the ill-fated town (circa 

130). In addition to gratifying his antiquarian tastes 

and reviving an ancient seat of civilization, Hadrian, 

who never liked his soldiers to be idle, found the 

restoration of Jerusalem an excellent means of 

occupying the legion which had been stationed there 

since the time of Vespasian. But the new city was 

not intended to be a future centre of Judaism. It 

was, on the contrary, to be a Roman town, and to 

offer a home for the veterans of the neighbouring 

camp after their period of service had expired. So 


• •’ Orac. Sibyllina,” v. 46, v. 492, jr/. * Madden, 212. 






distinctly was this the case that the hallowed name of 

Jerusalem was discarded for the new constructions 

which were to spring up on the hills of Zion : the 

sacred spot was to have all traces of its past oblite- 

rated ; it was henceforth to be spoken of as ^lia 

Capitolina, a name given it in honour of the emperor 

and the supreme divinity of Rome. Jerusalem was 

to be a heathen city ; within its walls Venus was to 

have her shrine, and a temple to Jupiter was to stand 

on the ruins that had been consecrated to the worship 

of Israel’s God.’ 


At the time the emperor was planning the trans- 

formation of Jerusalem into a heathen city, the jurists 

of Rome advised him to forbid the practice of 

circumcision. This prohibition, like the edict against 

mutilation, was unquestionably issued in the interest 

of morals and had no ulterior purpose, but the Jews 

not unnaturally regarded it as an attack upon their 

faith. The impracticability of enforcing this edict 

would have made it endurable, and the issuing of it 

might not have led to serious results.^ But the 

desecration of the Holy City was more than the Jews 

could bear, and the outcome of this portion of 

Hadrian’s policy was one of the most sanguinary and 

protracted revolts in the annals of the Roman Empire. 

Judaea was the centre of hostilities, but the insurrec- 

tionary movement was supported by the Jewish race 

throughout the world. 


A mysterious personage named Bar-Kokheba or 

Ben-Kosiba, placed himself at the head of the insur- 


* Dio Cassius, Ixix. 12, sq. ; Eusebius, ” Hist. Eccles.,” iv. 6 

^ Spartian Hadrian, xiv. 






gents (a.d. 132-5).’ It is certain that Bar-Kokheba 

was a man of great valour and military ability, but 

the information which has come down to us concerning 

him makes it impossible to say whether he was a 

fanatic or an imposter. Notwithstanding the fact 

that Bar-Kokheba led the Jewish host, Rabbi Akiba * 

was the soul of the revolt. At this period Akiba was 

holding a pre-eminent position as a doctor of the Law. 

Among the Jews of Palestine, as well as among their 

co-religionists abroad, his name was held in the 

highest veneration. He was the originator of new 

methods of interpretation ; he had the reputation of 

being a second Ezra, and it became a saying among 

the doctors that the power of Moses was weak till he 

was interpreted by Rabbi Akiba. Akiba was a man 

of the people as well as a scribe ; his heart was full 

of charity and affection for the multitude ; his interest 

in their welfare was so deep and genuine that he 

ultimately came to be called ” the Hand of the Poor.” 

A portion of Akiba’s life had been spent in visiting 

the Jewish communities in the Roman and Parthian 

Empires, and in his contact with the heathen he had 

learnt that some of their customs were worthy of 

respect Considering the age in which 4ie lived and 

the almost universal belief in such arts as magic and 

astrology, Akiba’s mind was singularly free from 

vulgar superstitions, and it was a saying of his that 

Israel stood under no planet. But in spite of all these 

admirable qualities of mind and heart this eminent 

rabbi’s belief in the immediate coming of the Messiah 


‘ Marquardt, i. 412 ; cf, Mommsen, v. 546, note i* 

‘ Hamburger, ii. 32. 






made him one of the most disastrous teachers the 

Jews had ever seen. These Messianic ideas created 

an alarming ferment among the credulous population. 

One of the wiser doctors of the time, apprehending 

their dire results, tried to cast ridicule upon them by 

saying, ” Grass shall grow from thy jaws, O Akiba, 

before the Messiah appears.” But the hopes of the 

infatuated rabbi were of a nature which neither reason 

nor mockery could affect, and when Bar-Kokheba 

appeared upon the scene Akiba immediately pointed 

him out as the long-predicted Messianic king. The 

rebel chief was the star (kokab) that should come 

forth out of Jacob ; hence his name Bar-Kokheba, 

** the Son of the Star.” Akiba’s devotion reached such 

a pitch that he abandoned his life-long meditation on 

the Law and accepted the humble position of Bar- 

Kokheba’s armour-bearer. 


The recognition of Bar-Kokheba ^ as the Messiah 

by so distinguished and revered a rabbi was in the 

nature of a consecration. It surrounded him with a 

halo of sanctity, and he was looked upon by multi- 

tudes with passionate enthusiasm as the long-expected 

deliverer of Israel from the yoke of Rome. Before 

the Romans were roused to the serious character of 

Bar-Kokheba’s rebellion it had assumed very formid- 

able proportions. All the towns in Judaea which had 

no Roman garrison declared for the insurgent chief, 

and a strongly fortified place called Bethar, some 

distance south-west of Jerusalem, became the head- 

quarters of the Jews. In the closing years of their 


« €/. Ewald, ” Hist, of Israel ” (Eng. trans.), viii. 276 ; Hambur 

gcr, ii. 8$. 






national life the use of Roman money had sorely 

perplexed the conscience of the Jews, and one of 

the first acts of Bar-Kokheba was to re-stamp the 

imperial coinage. Some of his coins are intended to 

commemorate the deliverance of Israel, and on this 

money of the revolt, as it was called, may still be 

seen the impression of two trumpets for the purpose 

of giving symbolical expression to the fact that Israel 

was being summoned together for a holy war.’ 

Success at first crowned the Jewish cause ; the Roman 

forces in Palestine were too small to hold the field ; 

even Publicius Marcellus, at that time legate of Syria, 

was not strong enough to cope with the insurrection. 

When Hadrian became aware of the alarming con- 

dition of affairs in Judaea reinforcements were sent 

to the scene of hostilities under the command of 

Sextus Julius Severus, the most distinguished soldier 

of his age. Severus was recalled from Britain to 

conduct the campaign. Adopting the tactics of his 

predecessor Vespasian, he declined a general engage- 

ment with the infuriated masses opposed to him. 

Severus, who was ably seconded by experienced 

lieutenants, divided his army into a number of 

separate corps and attacked the Jews in detail. One 

after another of the Jewish strongholds was captured , 

the defenders were decimated and the country laid in 

ruins. The fortress of Bcthar with its wonderful 

subterranean passages was held by Bar-Kokheba with 

the tenacity of despair. But the Romans, aided by 

the horrors of thirst and famine, eventually obtained 


‘ Madden, “Jewish Coinage,” 203 ; Renan, ” L’Eglise chrelienne,” 





(By ffmuiioa of the C»mmiUet of tlu i’aUiline Eipteratiou J-‘und.) 






the mastery, and the rebel leader perished amid the 

ruins of his cause.^ 


It is perhaps well that we possess so few details 

respecting the course of this revolt and the manner 

in which it was suppressed. According to the 

scattered intimations of ancient writers it was a war 

of extermination. The devastation and massacre 

which marked its progress and crowned its close were 

of much greater magnitude than the terrible scenes 

enacted in the days of Vespasian and Titus. Without 

taking account of the vast numbers that perished by 

famine and disease, it is credibly reported that over 

half a million men fell fighting in the field. The 

miserable survivors whose lives were spared glutted 

the slave markets of the East Some of the fugitives 

from Roman vengeance concealed themselves in caves 

and subterranean passages ; many of them were 

impelled by hunger to devour the bodies of the dead, 

and those were considered fortunate who escaped into 

the wilderness.2 It would almost seem to have been 

the object of the Roman administration to make 

Palestine intolerable to the children of Abraham, and 

the desolate aspect of Judaea at the present day is a 

silent witness of the awful severity with which this 

final rising was suppressed. As a consequence of the 

insurrection the name of Judaea became so hateful to 

the Roman authorities that it was generally discarded, 

and the province was henceforth known as Syria 

Palaestina.3 The Jews were forbidden on pain of 


* Dio Cassius, Ixix. 13. 


» Dio Cassius ; cf. Hamburger, Art. ” Hadrian.” 


3 Marquardt, i. 421, note 2. 






death to set foot in Jerusalem ; they were even denied 

the melancholy satisfaction of gazing afar off upon 

its ruins.i In the third century this edict fell into 

disuse, and was not again put in operation till the 

reign of the emperor Constantine. But this general 

prohibition did not apply to one day in the year — the 

anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by Titus. 

On that day of bitter memory the Jews could obtain 

permission to weep over the site of the Temple and to 

anoint the stone where it was believed the Holy of 

Holies had stood.^ 


The revolt under Hadrian was the last supreme 

effort of the Jews to separate themselves from the 

confederation of nations held together by Roman 

arms. Under succeeding emperors the facilities 

afforded by the caves of Palestine for leading a law- 

less life sometimes produced temporary disturbances, 

but these movements, although professedly patriotic, 

were often mere outbreaks of brigandage, and never 

assumed a serious aspect. The military power of the 

people had been completely destroyed. But if their 

power had perished their animosity became, if possible, 

more bitter and profound. So long, however, as 

peace was not broken the Romans paid comparatively 

little heed to Jewish rancour, and on the whole con- 

tinued to allow the race a considerable measure of 

religious and political toleration. Hadrian’s mistaken 

edict forbidding circumcision was abrogated by his 

successor, Antoninus Pius, and the Jews had hence- 

forth perfect liberty to perform this rite upon their 


‘ Eusebius, ” Hist. Eocles.,” iv. 6. 

‘ Renan, ** L’Eglisc chretienne,” 221. 






{Frvm Sculpturtfrem Ephesas in British A/tiseum.) 






own children. I As before the war, they were free 

from service in the legions, and at least from the reign 

of Severus, they were excused the performance of 

such municipal duties as ran counter to their religious 

prejudices.^ In fact, it had never been a part of 

Roman policy to treat the Jews with greater harshness 

than the rest of the provincials ; their position in this 

respect was even a favoured one, and the calamities 

which fell upon them under Roman domination were 

almost entirely of their own choosing. However 

much we may honour the motives and heroism of a 

Bar-Kokheba or a Simon Bar-Giora, it was neither 

in the interests of Jewish liberty nor for the general 

welfare of mankind that such leaders should prevail. 

Their success would have immediately involved the 

Jews in anarchy, and the era of religious persecution 

they would undoubtedly have inaugurated against the 

non-Jewish population must, sooner or later, have 

compelled the nations to do the repressive work which 

was unwillingly undertaken by the emperors Ves- 

pasian, Trajan, and Hadrian. 


‘ Digest, xlviii. S. ii. ‘ Mommsen, v. 548. 














It was one of the fixed principles of Roman policy 

to interfere as little as possible with the internal 

organization of the various peoples who fell under the 

sway of Rome, and when Judaea, after the deposition 

of Archelaus (a.d, 6), was placed in charge of a pro- 

curator, the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem acquired a wider 

range of authority within the new province than it 

had possessed since the Maccabees assumed the title 

of king. It is not possible to say with certainty when 

this supreme council first came into existence. Ac- 

cording to Jewish tradition its origin dates back to 

the time of Moses,’ but there is no evidence to 

show that Moses organized a permanent assembly 

with functions similar to those of the Sanhedrin. 

Nor is this institution to be confounded with the 

elders of the people or the court of justice at 


• Tractate Sanhedrin, i. 6: (f. Numb. xi. 16. “En tout cas. il ne 

s’agil pai ici d’une inslitulion permancnle ; car il n’esl plus fail mention 

de ces soixante-di( hommes dans la suite du i^cit mosaique, ni suttout 

dans le lemps historiques apres Ib conquete” (Reuss, ” L’Histoire 

Sainle,” ii. 108). 






Jerusalem ‘ referred to in the Old Testament 

The first distinct mention of it in Jewish literature 

occurs in the reign of Antiochus the Great (B.C. 

223-187)* and the first faint traces of its exis- 

tence do not go further back than the Persian period. 

In the time of Antiochus it is not called a Sanhe- 

drin, but a Senate (Gerousia) ; it is an aristocratic 

body ,3 the High Priest as the most prominent member 

of the community is at its head ; and as the Greek 

kings who succeeded Alexander the Great generally 

left local affairs in the hands of the vassal states, the 

Jewish Senate would be in possession of very exten- 

sive powers. Under the Maccabees the Senate still 

continued to hold a place in Jewish life, but the auto- 

cratic tendencies developed by some of these princes 

must have led to a curtailment of its authority.’* 

Pompey did not interfere with the Sanhedrin when 

he abolished the Maccabacan monarchy (b.C. 63), but 

his successor Gabinius (B.C. 57-55) deemed it prudent 

to divide its authority with two other local bodies 

which he established in Judaea. The arrangements of 

Gabinius were soon afterwards annulled by Julius 

Caesar when he effected a settlement of Eastern 


* I Kings viii. I, &c. ; Deut. xvii. 8, &c. The elders were not an 

organized body like the Sanhedrin, and the courts of justice did not, like 

the Sanhedrin, possess legislative or administrative powers. 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xii. 3. 3. 


3 C/. Schuerer, ” Geschichte des jUdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu 

Christi,” ii. 145. 


4 2 Mace. i. 10, iv. 44, xi. 27 ; i Mace. xii. 6, xi. 23, xii. 35, 

xiii. 36; Judith iv. 8, &c. £. Stapfer (‘* La Palestine au temps de 

Jfeus-Christ,” p. 93) thinks the Sanhedrin gained power under the 

Hasmonseans, and had little under the Greeks. This view is opposed to 

all our experience of the action of great monarchies and petty states. 






aflfairs after the fall of Pompey (B.C.- 47); the 

Sanhedrin of Jerusalem again received its ancient 

powers and its jurisdiction once more extended over 

the whole Jewish portion of Palestine. Although 

Herod the Great, at the commencement of whose 

career the High Council is first expressly called a 

Sanhedrin, mercilessly decimated its members on his 

accession to the throne, it is not likely that he 

altogether terminated its existence.’ It seems more 

probable that he purged this institution of all elements 

which were openly hostile to himself, and filled up 

the vacancies thus created with representatives of that 

section of the Pharisees who acquiesced in his rule. 

The division of Herod’s kingdom into three parts 

(B.C. 4) had the effect of limiting the direct jurisdiction 

of the Sanhedrin to the province of Judaea ; no altera- 

tion in this respect took place on the advent of the 

procurators ; the scope of its authority continued to 

remain unchanged till the outbreak of the Jewish war 

(a.D. 66), at the end of which the Sanhedrin finally 



According to a Jewish tradition of comparatively 

late origin, the Sanhedrin was merely a college of 

scribes, at the head of which stood a Nasi, or presi- 

dent, and an Ab-beth-din, or vice-president. An 

assembly of this description no doubt came into 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiv. 9. 4, says that Herod slew all the members 

of the Sanhedrin except one. *0 ydp *Ilpiairig, rrjv /SacriXciai’ 

irapa\a(3iMtv, iravTng dir«tr€(i/c Tovg iv r^ trvvicpitft cat *TpKav6v avrbvy 

X«i»p«c Tor Yafifott. If the word ” all ” [iravrnQ) is to lie taken literally 

in this passage, Herod must have created an entirely new Sanheflrin, for 

this body is again mentioned in connection with the death of Hyrcanus 

(“Ant.” XV. 2). 






existence after the destruction of the Jewish state,* 

but it is not to be identified with the Sanhedrin 

mentioned in the writings of Josephus and the New 

Testament. In these authorities the Sanhedrin, besides 

being an ecclesiastical court, possesses legislative, 

administrative, and judicial powers as well,* and it is 

the High Priest, the representative of the nation both 

in civil and ecclesiastical affairs who is its president. 

When Jesus is brought to trial at Jerusalem it is the 

High Priest Caiaphas who is head of the Sanhedrin 

which condemns Him ; and when St. Paul is after- 

wards charged before the same council, it is the High 

Priest Ananias who performs the functions of presiding 

judge.3 In the few places where Josephus mentions a 

sitting of the Sanhedrin 4 he is entirely in agreement 

with the writings of the New Testament, and these 

contemporary witnesses are surely to be preferred to 

the dubious traditions of the Mischna.5 At the head 

then was the high priest ; the other members belonged 

to the priestly aristocracy, and the most eminent 

representatives of the scribes, together with the 

elders, the men of years and experience who always 

filled a prominent place in Jewish affairs.^ It is not 


*C7″. Chagiga, ii. 2. Wellhausen, ” Pharisaer und SadducSer,” pp. 

29-43. Schuerer, ** Geschichle,” 150, s^. 


« Josephus. “Ant.,” xx. 10. At the close of this passage Josephus 

regards the Sanhedrin as an aristocratic body, which has assumed the 

powers formerly exerciser! by the Herods. 


3 Malt. XX. I, 57 ; Acts xxiii. 2, xxiv. I. 


* ” Ant.,” xiv. 9. 3-5, xx. 91. 


5 Strack (Herzog, xv. 103) still seems to think that there may be 

something in the Jewish traditional view. 


* Mark xiv. 43. In this passage as in most others the high priests 

are mentioned first. 






possible to say with certainty of how many members 

the Sanhedrin was composed, but it is highly probable 

that Jewish tradition is correct when it assigns the 

number as amounting to seventy-one.’ It appears 

that new members were admitted by the laying-on of 

hands, but no record remains of the qualifications 

necessary to obtain a seat in the high council of the 

nation. Although the priestly aristocracy were the 

official element in the Sanhedrin and transacted its 

business and played the leading part before the public, 

the real masters of the situation were the scribes, and 

they unquestionably exercised the greatest influence 

within the council itself. The secret of this influence 

lay in the fact that the scribes almost entirely 

belonged to the popular party, and the priests, who 

were mostly Sadducees, were obliged to shape the 

policy of the Sanhedrin in accordance with the views 

of those among its members who possessed the ear of 

the multitude.* 


So few historic traces 3 are left which bear on the 

activity of the Sanhedrin, that it is difficult to define 

with accuracy the exact scope of its authority. It is 

clear, however, that its action was limited, on the one 

hand, by the large powers entrusted to the procurator, 

and, on the other, it did not extend to cases which lay 

within the competence of the eleven local councils 

which existed in the province of Judsea at the com- 

mencement of the Christian era. Its direct authority 


Sanhedrin, i. 6 ; f/ Numb, xi 16 ; Josephus, “Bell. Jud.,” ii. 25. 


Ibid., “Ant.,” xviii. i. 4. 


3 The Tractate Sanhedrin is the oldest document after the New Testa- 

ment and Josephus, and although it possesses some historic value, its 

picture of the Sanhedrin is mainly ideal, and cannot be relied on. 






did not extend beyond Judaea itself,’ but within the 

boundaries of this province, in all likelihood it pos- 

sessed very much the same judicial and administrative 

power as was confided to the provincial councils of the 

neighbouring Greek provinces.* The Sanhedrin had 

practically no power over the lives and property of the 

Roman citizens who had settled temporarily or per- 

manently in Judsea. They were subject to the jurisdic- 

tion of the procurator alone, and had the privil^e of 

appealing from him to the emperor.3 If, however, a 

Roman profaned the Temple he immediately came 

within the jurisdiction of Jewish law, and the Sanhedrin 

had a right to summon him to appear before its 

tribunal.’* To be permitted to judge a Roman at all 

was an, immense concession to Jewish religious feeling, 

but the Caesars appear to have made another almost 

equally great when they permitted Jews in different 

parts of the empire to be handed over for trial to the 

Sanhedrin at Jerusalem even if the offence had not 

been committed in Judaea, and was purely a question 

of religious belief. That this was the case is plainly 

shown by the nature of the commission which St. 

Paul received from the high priests when he went 

from Jerusalem to take proceedings against the 

Christians who lived, in Damascus.^ Even cases which 

the Sanhedrin was not competent to decide, and which 

had to be referred to the procurator, were, as a rule, 

decided by him in accordance with the maxims of 


‘ Schuerer, ” Geschichte,” ii. 142. 


• **Ant.,” XX. I, 2 ; c/. E, Kuhn, “Die stadtische und biirgerliche 

Verfassung des Romischen Rcichs,” ii. 342, sg. 


3 Acts xxiii. 24 ; xxv. 10. * ** Bell. Jud.,” vi. 2. 


5 C/, Acts ix. 2 ; xxii. 5 ; xxvi. 12. 






Jewish law. He, as well as the tribune of the troops 

in Jerusalem, had the power of calling the Sanhedrin 

together.’ But the procurator’s sanction was not 

requisite to legalize a sitting of the Sanhedrin,^ or to 

give validity to its sentences, except when they were 

of a capital nature.3 It is chiefly in its capacity as a 

court of justice that the Sanhedrin is mentioned in the 

New Testament Jesus and Stephen were both con- 

demned by it as guilty^ of blasphemy ; Paul was 

charged before it as a transgressor of the Law ; Peter 

and John as false prophets and fomenters of sedition. 

It was the supreme interpreter of the laws and tra- 

ditions of the Jewish people, that is to say, of a code 

of regulations which embraced the entire civil and 

religious life of Judaism, and its decisions were 

regarded as obligatory on every member of the Jewish 

race throughout the world. 


Besides the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem there also 

existed in those parts of Palestine where the Jews 

preponderated — in Judaea, Galilee, and Peraea — a 

number of local councils which possessed criminal 

and legislative jurisdiction within their respective 

districts.4 Most towns and villages had one of these 

local councils in their midst. The smallest of them 

consisted of seven members,5 and in larger towns the 


‘ Acts xxii. 30. 


According to Schuerer the words of Josephus (“Ant.,” xx. 9. i) 

only mean ” dass der Hohepriester nicht das Recht hatte, ein souveran 

verfahrendcs Gericht abzuhalten in Abwesenheit und ohne Geneh 

migung des Procurators” (Schuerer, ** Geschichte,” ii. 162). 


3 John xviii. 31. In the stoning of Stephen the populace appear to 

have taken the law into their own hands (Acts vii. 57). 


* ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 14. i ; Matt. v. 22, x. 17 ; Luke vii. 3. 


5 Josephus, *• Ant.,” iv. 8. 14. 










number of members amounted to twenty-three.” It 

was only in those cases where the local Sanhedrin 

could not arrive at a decision, or was doubtful as to 

the interpretation of the Law, that the issue had to 

be decided by the High Council of Jerusalem.^ In 

all other respects the local Sanhedrin appears to have 

possessed very much the same powers as the one in 

the Holy City, and to have pronounced sentences 

involving fines, imprisonment, and death. The 

sittings of these local bodies usually took place in 

the synagogue, which was transformed for the time 

being into a court of justice,3 and in order to constitute 

a legal sitting it was necessary for at least three 

members to be present.4 The hearing of causes took 

place on Mondays and Thursdays; two witnesses 

were required to procure a conviction, and sentences 

of corporal punishment were inflicted on the spot.^ 

It is these local councils which Jesus has in His mind 

when He says, ” Beware of men ; for they will deliver 

you to the councils, and scourge you in their syna- 

gogues ; ” and it is with reference to the power the 

local council has of sending men to prison that He 

says, “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles 

thou art in the way with him ; lest at any time the 

adversar>’ deliver thee to the judge, and the judge 

deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into 

prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no 




Sanhedrin, i. 6. • Joscphus, “Ant.,” iv. 8. 14. 


3 Mark xiii. 9 ; Luke xii. 1 1, xxi. 12 ; Acts xxyL II ; Josephus, 

” Vita,” 52. 

CJ, Schuerer, ii. 133. 

5 Josephus, ** Vita,” 49 ; Matt. x. 17, xxiii. 34 ; Acts xxii. 19. 






means come out thence, till thou hast paid the utter- 

most farthing.” ‘ 


‘ Malt. X. 17 ; V. 15. For further details as to Jewish modes of 


punishment e/. Art. ” Sirafen,” by Roskofl in Schenkel’s ” Bilicl- 

Ltxikon;” tUbbiaowici, “De k, l^giilation criminelle du Talmiu^” 

Paru, 1876. 










The Temple on Mount Zion.with its imposing ordi- 

nances of worship and its array of hereditary priests, 

was an institution of much greater antiquity than the 

Sanhedrin, and was regarded in Roman times by 

every faithful Jew as the only sanctuary where an 

acceptable sacrifice could be offered to the God of his 

fathers,” It had its origin at a period when the 

Hebrew tribes, which had settled in the land of 

Canaan, were compelled by the pressure of surround- 

ing peoples to adopt a more centralized form of rule, 

and to subject themselves to a single head. The 

creation of a monarchy in the days of Saul and 

David was intended to tighten the bonds of national 

unity which had hitherto been comparatively weak. 

In the early career of humanity unity in religion was 

the basis of effective national unity, and the erection 


‘ Both the Temple on Mount Gerizim and Ihc Temple of Onias in 

Egypt were regarded hs heretical by orlhodox Jews. For the Temple 

of Onias, f/. Josephus, ” Bell. Ju<l.,” vH. lO. a-3 ; ” Ant..” xiii. 3. i; 

Ewald. ” Geschichle,” iv. 463 ; Graetz. iii. 33 ; Ligblfool, ” Hone 

Hebnicx,” John iv, ao. 






of the Temple after David’s death was designed to 

strengthen the feeh’ng of reh’gious solidarity among 

the Israelites. The new edifice rose in stately 

grandeur on one of the hills of the capital, to serve 

as a common centre of worship for the whole people 

and to keep alive the conviction that they were one. 

But for several centuries after its institution the Temple 

at Jerusalem had to tolerate the rivalry of the 

numerous High Places which had existed among the 

Israelites as places of sacrifice from ancient times. 

Still, from the hour of its completion, the Temple 

continued to grow in influence and importance. The 

development of religious ideas produced by the 

prophets tended to depress the old sanctuaries in 

popular estimation and to exalt the sanctity of the 

Temple. But in spite of these favouring circumstances, 

and in spite of Josiah’s attempt to abolish the High 

Places, it was not till the return from Babylon that 

they completely disappeared, and that the Temple 

came to be regarded as the sole sanctuary of the 

Jewish race. Old Israel ceased to exist with the 

Captivity ; it was not a nation, but a religious com- 

munity which returned to Palestine after the Exile ; 

and the Temple which this community rebuilt, and 

around the sacred precincts of which it settled, became 

the only orthodox seat of sacrificial worship, and 

continued to maintain this position till the final 

downfall of the Jewish state.’ 


The popularity of the Temple in the first century of 


» Cf. Graf. Art. ” Priester ; ” Diestel. Art. “Tempel.” in Schenkers 

** Bi»)cl-Lexikon.” J. Wellhausen, ” History of Isr^l” (Eftg trans.), 

p. 17, sq. 






the Christian era may be inferred from the immense 

multitude of Jews which used to flock to it from all 

parts of the Roman and Parthian Empires. Josephus 

very probably exaggerates when he says that three 

millions of people were to be found assembled in 

Jerusalem on the occasion of certain festivals.’ It is, 

however, undoubtedly true that the worshippers who 

frequented the sanctuary were vast in number, and 

were not confined to the Jews of Palestine alone. In 

apostolic times Parthians and Medes and Elamites 

and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judaea and 

Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and 

Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about 

Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome both Jews and 

proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, were among the 

multitude who worshipped at the Temple, and whose 

pious offerings made it one of the richest sanctuaries 

in the East.’ Whatever commotions might be dis- 

turbing the peace of Judaea, pious bands of pilgrims 

were always ready to leave their homes for Zion’s holy 

hill,3 and Jerusalem was filled with worshippers when 

the legions of Titus closed around it. It may be 

permissible to speak of the synagogue as a rival to 

the Temple, for the synagogue, as time went on, 

succeeded more and more in satisfying the religious 

aspirations of the Jews. But the synagogue was an 

unconscious rival, and the rabbi who taught in it 

was as ardent in upholding the necessity for offering 

sacrifice in the Temple as the priest who ministered at 


* ” Bell. Jud.,” vi. 9. 3. 


» Acts ii. 8. II ; Cicero, ” Pro Flacco,” 28, 


3 •« Bell. Jud.,” ii. 19. i. 






the altar.’ Not only did the rabbi uphold the 

privileges of the Temple while it was in existence, but 

for centuries after its destruction he looked back on 

its departed glories with regret, and was firmly per- 

suaded it would be restored again with all its ancient 

ceremonial at the commencement of the Messianic 



The worship at the Temple was conducted by a 

hereditary priesthood, which in the days of Jesus is 

said to have numbered about twenty thousand men.^ 

As it was impossible for such a large body to minister 

in holy things at the same time, the priesthood was 

divided into twenty-four families or classes,4 which 

were again subdivided into smaller groups, and each 

of these divisions was presided over by a leading 

priest who was called the head.^ All the members of 

the priesthood were in theory on a footing of equality, 

for all of them were equally members of a sacred 

caste which traced its descent from the family of 

Aaron. As a matter of fact, however, as much social 

disparity existed amongst the priesthood as amongst 

the rest of the community. High above the ordinary 

priests stood those well-known families from which 




* The martyrdom of Stephen shows the view which all religious 

parties among the Jews held concerning the Temple (Acts vi. 8, st/. Cf, 

C- Weizsacker, ** Das Apostolische Zeitalter der Christlichen Kirche,” 

1886, 53, sq.Y 


” The tradition of the rabbis was that the Messiah himself, when he 

appeared, would rebuild the Temple ; cf. Weber, ” System der Altsyna- 

gogalen Palastinischen Theologie,” 1880, 356, sq, 


3 Josephus contra Apion, ii. 8. 


” Ant..” vii. 14, 7 ; Lightfoot, ** Horse Hebraicae*’ to Luke i. 5. 

5 Cf, Schuerer, ii 184-5. 






the high priests as a rule were drawn.^ As members 

of the Sanhedrin, and as officials entrusted by the 

Romans with important civil and judicial functions, 

these high-priestly families exercised an authority 

which placed them in a very different position from 

the ordinary priest, who only emerged from his 

obscurity on those occasions when he had to minister 

in the Temple/ As is very frequently the case, diffe- 

rence of position created divergency of interest ; the 

high-priestly families and the higher Temple officials 

sided in the main with the established order of things, 

and did not scruple to oppress and rob their poorer 

brethren when the opportunity presented itself^ The 

inferior ranks of the priesthood were, on the other 

hand, in sympathy with the popular movement against 

Rome, for the rapacity of the Temple nobility had so 

impoverished them that, apart altogether from religious 

convictions, they had everything to hope and nothing 

to lose from change. 


Although the Jewish priesthood was in its latter 

days divided upon political questions, it always con- 

tinued to remain at one as to the conditions which 

had to be complied with before a new member was 

admitted within its ranks. Unlike the prophets and 

the scribes, the priests were a hereditary caste,3 and 

the candidate who claimed admission into it had to 


‘ In Roman times almost all the high priests were taken from the 

following families — tlie family of Phabi, of Boethus, of Ananus, of 

Kamith. There are only six besides the Hasmona?an Aristobulus who 

are not mentioned as members of one or other of these families. Cf. 

Schuerer, ii. 173. 


• C/. Josephus, ** Ant.,” xx, 8. 8, 9, 2 ; ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 17. 2. s^. 


3 C/. Exod. xxviii. s(/. ; Numb. xvi. s^. Art. ** Priestertum im 

A. T.,” by Oehler and Von Orelli in Herzog, xii. 214. 




224 ^^^ TEMPLE. 


show that he possessed a genealogy which was above 

suspicion, and which proved that he belonged to the 

family of Aaron.” When the Sanhedrin was satisfied 

on this important point, the candidate became a 

member of the priestly class, and had a right to 

a share in the temporalities of the priesthood.* But 

before he was permitted to exercise any priestly 

functions, he had to prove that he was free from 

certain bodily infirmities which are specified in the 

Law.3 If he failed to satisfy this second test, he was, 

according to the Talmud, clothed in black garments 

and had to go his way; 4 but, if he was found to be 

without physical blemish, the ceremony of ordination 

was proceeded with. This ceremony was of a very 

elaborate character, and lasted seven days.S At the 

end of this time the new priest was arrayed in white 

clothing, and went into the sanctuary to assist his 

brethren in the service.^ 


In the ordinances of worship the priests were 

assisted by a subordinate class of officials known 

as the Levites. The Levites were divided into the 

same number of classes, and possessed an organi- 

zation similar to the organization of the priests. 

According to the Sinaitic legislation 7 which was 

in full force during Roman times, the Levites were 

not the direct descendants of Aaron, and were not 



* Ezra ii. 6i ; Josephus contra Apion, i. ^ ; ** Vita,” i. 


‘ Lev. XX. 22, C/. Josephus, ** Ant.” iii. I2, 2, rbv S^ pai oKSieKtipov 

TUiV ifpiiov vifU(T9ai frpog tovq lepBiq iiciXfvoe rd yipa, avafiaivtiv dk ciri 

rbv (3iofwv Kai Elauvai Itg rbv vabv iKiaXfat, 


3 Lev. xxi. i6, s(/. ; Reuss, **L’Histoire Sainte,” ii. i6-i. 


Mischna Middoth, 5. s Exod. xxix. i, j*/. * Middoth, v. 


7 C/. E. Reuss, *’ L’Histoire Sainte el la Loi,” i. 168. 






considered as priests. They stood in a kind of 

* servile position to the priesthood, and as the priests 

were regarded as the servants of Jehovah so the 

Levites were regarded as the servants of the priests. 

They were not permitted to officiate at the altar 

or to enter the inner sanctuary ; ‘ their duties were 

of an inferior character, and mainly consisted in 

slaughtering the animals offered for sacrifice, and 

in acting as choristers and doorkeepers, and watchers 

over the fabric of the Temple.^ 


At the head of this great sacerdotal corporation 

stood the High Priest, the prince of the Temple, who 

united in his own person the highest civil and eccle- 

siastical dignities. He was not merely the chief 

dignitary of the Jewish Church ; he was, at the same 

time, the chief representative of the nation in ail its 

secular affairs. The Herodian family and the pro- 


* C/, Numb, iii., iv., xviii. 


^ Nehem. ii. 15, s^. It does not fall within my purpose to discuss 

the reason why the Levites occupied the subordinate position in which 

we find them after the return from Babylon. Graf gives the following 

explanation which is adopted by the school of Old Testament critics to 

which he belongs : ” Als Josia in durchgreifender Weise die Einheit des 

Gottesdienstes herstellte und denselben auf den Tempel in Jerusalem 

l>eschranktet blieb die alte Priesterschaft des Tempels, das Geschlecht 

Zadok’s, allein im Besicz priesterlicher Rechte, und wenn auch die aus 

dem ganzen Land bei feierlichen Gelegenheiten herbeistromendcn 

Scharen von Opfernden (vgl. Jer. xvii. 26 ; xxvi. 2) eine grosse Vermeh- 

rung der die Tempeldienste aller Art besorgenden Personen nothig 

machen mussten, so wurden doch die Priester aus den Landstadten nur 

zu untergeordneten Diensten zugelassen (Ezek. xl. 46 ; xliii. 19 ; xliv. 

6-16 ; xlviii. ii) ; so entstand das dienende Verbal* niss der Leviten den 

Priest ern gegeniiber, welches spater nach dem Ex 11 als feststehende 

uralte Einrichtung wie alles Andere auf Mose zuriickgefuUrt wurde ” 

(Schenkel, ” Bibel-Lexikon,” iv. 600). C/. VVcUhausen, “History 

of Israel,” 121, sq. 






curators had been thrust upon the community by the 

force of outward circumstances, and possessed no 

internal relation to the national life. The position of 

the high priest, on the other hand, was the direct 

result of the hierocratic form of society which had 

existed among the Jews since the return from exile, 

and it was in virtue of his spiritual dignity that he 

became the head of the people in the secular accepta- 

tion of the term. Although no political attributes 

are ascribed to him in the Law, the position which he 

occupied as the supreme pontiff of the Jewish Church 

compelled him to assume them ; he was the natural 

intermediary between the Jews and their foreign 

masters ; he conducted all political aflfairs which 

remained in Jewish hands, and the quasi-regal forms 

which took place at his investiture are a kind of 

symbol of the authority which he was afterwards to 



In consequence of the multiplicity of secular duties 

which the high priest had to discharge, it was only 

occasionally that he took an official part in the 

services of the Temple.* In those services a unique 

position was assigned to him. He alone was per- 

mitted to offer sacrifice whenever he chose,3 the 

other priests had to do so only in the order of their 

course ; he alone could enter the Holy of Holies to 

burn incense on the Day of Atonement, and it was 

through him alone that on this great day the con- 


»C/. Art. ••Hohepriester” in ** Herzog,” vi. 238; WcUhausen, 

** History,” 148, s^. 


» According to Josephus (•* Bell. Jud.,” v. 5. 7), he officiated as a 

rule on the Sabbath, at the beginning of a new month, and on the 

annual festivals. ^ Joma, i. 2 ; Tamid, vii. 3. 






gregation of Israel came into the immediate presence 

of Jehovah.’ 


The most important personage connected with the 

sanctuary after the high priest was the Captain of 

the Temple,^ who was responsible for the safety of 

the sacred edifice as well as for the sums of money 

and other treasures which it contained. Like many 

of the heathen temples of antiquity the Temple at 

Jerusalem was a kind of treasure-house as well as 

a place of sacrifice. Although it had been plundered 

on several occasions, it was still considered by the 

people to enjoy the privilege of inviolability ; it was 

regarded as the securest place for their savings, and 

the property of the widow and the orphan was often 

deposited within its walls.3 In the forecourt a 

number of safes 4 were kept, into which the money 

placed under the charge of the Temple authorities 

was laid, and also the treasure which belonged ex- 

clusively to the Temple itself. To assist him in the 

important duty of protecting the sacred building with 

all its precious contents, the Captain of the Temple 

had a body of Levites under his command. All the 

gateways to the Temple were carefully guarded by 


« Lev. xvi. Cf. Reuss, ” L’Histoire Sainte et la Loi,” ii. 145, note 

5. In order to depress the influence which the high priest enjoyed by 

virtue of his sacred office, Herod and the Romans frequently changed 

the occupant of the office (Josephus, *• Ant.,” xx. 10). 


‘ Acts iv. I ; Josephus, ** Ant.,’* xx. 6. 2. 


3 2 Mace. iii. 10-15 » ** B*^^l- Jud-»” vi. 5. 2. 


” Bell. Jud,,” V. 5. 2 ; ** Ant.,” xix. 6. I. These safes were strong 

rooms, and not simply chests. Cf. Schuerer, ii. 215, note 142. The 

** treasury” meniioned in Mark xii. 41 was a chest. Cf, Josephus, 

“Ant.,” xix. 6. I. Meyer, “Commentar. Marcus,” 181 (1878). 















these officials both night and day,’ and during the 

time the sanctuary was open to the people they had 

to see that no one defiled it or intruded into those 

portions which were forbidden them.^ 


In the Roman period the priesthood was a richly 

endowed class, and derived its revenue from a variety 

of sources, the chief of which consisted in what was 

practically a number of imposts on the produce of the 

soil and the animals bred by the Jewish husbandman. 

The first-fruits of the ground were in all cases the 

property of the priests,3 they had also a claim on all 

the choicest products of the harvest, and although the 

quantity required was not definitely fixed by law, the 

husbandman was expected to give at least a fiftieth 

of the whole to the servants of Jehovah at Jerusalem.”* 

After these dues had been paid the claims of the 


* Schenkel, ” Bibel-Lexikon,” v. 484 ; Schuerer, ii. 217. 


‘ Foreigners were not allowed to pass beyond the Court of the 

Gentiles into the Inner Forecourt. Marble tablets were put up in front 

of the forbidden parts, warning all Gentiles that death was the punish- 

ment fur infringing this rule. (Josephus, ” Bell. Jud,” v. 5. 2. – C/, 

Acts xxi. 26, s^.) These tablets were written in Greek and Latin 

characters, and one of them was discovered in 187 1 by a distinguished 

French orientalist, M Clermont Ganneau. It is now in the Imperial 

Museum of Constantinople, but M. Ganneau has recently been able to 

obtain a cast of it, which has been placed in. the Jvouvre beside the 

Sthle of Mesa or Moabite Stone. It bears the following inscription : — 

*’ M^ ‘iva iWoytvff tioTroptmoBai Ivrd^ rov mpi t6 itpbv rpv^OKTov xai 

TTcpi/SoXov. “Oc S*av Xf}^9^, iavrtf dirios iorat ^id to i^aKoXovOftP 

Bnvarov.” See the Ath^naum for June lo, 1871. ** Revue de 

THistoire des Religions,” xi. 117. 


3 Numb, xviii. 13; Josephus, “Ant.,” iv. 8. 22. 


Numb, xviii. 12; Nehem. x. 38. Philo, **De Prsemiis Sacerdotum,*’ 

i. Jerome, ** Comment, on Ezekiel,” xlv, 13, “At vero primitiva 

quae de frugibus oflferel>ant, non erant speciali numero definita, sed 

oiferentium arbitrio derelicta.” 






Levites had to be satisfied, and these claims assumed 

truly formidable proportions, amounting to no less 

than a tenth of the entire harvest. The Levites, 

however, had in their turn to pay back a tenth of 

what they received from the peasantry to the priest- 

hood.’ When it is remembered how unwillingly the 

Jews paid the tribute which the Romans had laid 

upon them, it might be supposed that they would 

show a similar reluctance to bear the enormous 

burden which had been imposed upon them by the 

priests. But this was very far from being the case, as 

is manifest from the scrupulous way in which they 

used to tithe the very smallest produce such as mint, 

anise, and cummin.’ In addition to a large share of 

the raw produce, a certain portion of all the bread 

which was baked in Jewish households formed a 

part of the priest’s income ; 3 it amounted in the case 

of bakers to a forty-eighth, and in the case of private 

persons to a twenty-fourth of the whole.4 As has 

just been said, the taxes on the property of the 

husbandman extended to the domestic animals which 

he reared, and included not only clean animals such 

as the ox, the sheep, and the goat, but also such 

animals as the horse, the camel, and the ass, which 

were regarded as unclean. The fiistborn male of all 

of these beasts was the property of the priests, but if 


‘ Numb, xviii. 20, st/,; Philo. u/ supra, 6. 


‘ Matt, xxiii. 23. For Rabbinical authorities, compare Lightfoot, 

” Horae Hebraicae ‘* on Matthew. Wiinsche, ** Erlauterung der 

Evangelien,” p. 291. 


3 Rom. xi. 16. See Godet, ** Commentary on the Epistle to the 

Romans” (Eng. trans.), ii. 244, on this passage. 


* SJchuerer, “Geschichte,” ii. 20a 






the animals belonged to the unclean category they 

could be bought hack by the original owner for a fifth 

of their value ; if, however, they were clean animals 

they had to be handed over to the priests.’ So 

widely did this law respecting the firstborn extend 

that even human beings were not exempted from its 

operation, and the first male child born of Jewish 

parents was supposed to be the property of the priest- 

hood till he had been redeemed by the payment of 

five shekels, a sum equal to about thirteen shillings 

of English money.* 


These various imposts formed the main portion of 

the sacerdotal revenues, and constituted the ordinary 

sources from which they were derived ; but during 

the time the priests were exercising their ministry at 

Jerusalem their regular income was augmented by 

the share they received of the sacrifices offered in 

the Temple by the worshippers. The only sacrifice 

of which the carcass was entirely consumed upon the 

altar was the burnt-offering, and even of this sacrifice 

the priests always retained the skin,^ a most important 

item when the immense number of animals sacrificed 

is taken into consideration.^ Of all the other offerings 

such as the meal-offering, the sin-offering, and the 

guilt-offering, the priest as a rule received nearly the 


‘ The passage in Deut. (xviii. 3), was made to include not only 

animals which were sacrificed, but also all clean animals slaughtered for 

food. C/, Philo, •* De Pneroiis Sacerdotum/’ 3. 


* Numb, xviii. 15, x^. According to Ezra (vii. 24), the priests and 

Temple officials were exempted from taxation. Some of the Greek 

kings acted in accordance with Ezra’s injunctions (“Ant.,” xii. 3. 3), 

but it is doubtful if the Romans did the same. 


‘ Lev. vii. 8 ; Josephus, ” Ant.,” iii. 9. i : toq Sopd^ rwv iepiwv 

Xafifiat’ovTkfv. * Philo, *’ De Praemiis,” 4. 






whole ; ‘ he obtained a portion of the peace-offering,^ 

and the proceeds of certain kinds of votive offerings 

also fell into his hands.3 It will thus be seen that 

the priesthood by reason of its wealth alone was a 

most important element in the Jewish state, and it 

would doubtless have been more important still if the 

high-priestly aristocracy had not driven the mass of 

the ordinary priests and Levites into the ranks of the 

discontented by defrauding them of their just pro- 

portion of the sacerdotal revenues.4 


The duties appertaining to the great body of the 

priesthood were limited in their range, and mainly 

consisted in the offering of sacrifices at the Temple. 

On the three great festivals of the Jewish calendar, 

the Passover Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, 

the multitudes which came to worship at Jerusalem 

were so enormous that the entire priesthood was 

required to assist in the sacred niinistrations.s But 

on ordinary occasions this was not the case, and each 

of the twenty-four classes into which the sacerdotal 

body was divided officiated at the altar for a week at 

a time.6 As each class contained a larger number of 

priests than was necessary for the proper performance 

of the usual daily services, it was subdivided in such a 

manner that every priest exercised his sacred calling 

once at least before his week of duty came to a 

termination.” Great precautions were taken to ensure 

the legal purity of the officiating priests. During the 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” iii. 9. 3-4. * Lev. vii. 3a 

3 Numb, xviii. 14 ; c/. v. 5. 8. 


< “Ant.,” XX. 8. 8, 9. 2. C/, Wellhausen, ” History of Israel,” 

165. 5 Succa, V. 6, sg. ; Surenhusius, Mischna, ii. 279. 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” vii. 14. 7. ^ Schuerer, ii. 225. 






period of their ministrations they had to be in a state 

of Levitical cleanness ; the use of wine was forbidden 

them ; ‘ after taking a daily bath they had to wash 

their hands and feet in the brazen laver of the 

Temple » before they were permitted to appear at the 

altar of sacrifice arrayed ‘n the white garments of 

their office. 


The sacred structure in which the priests performed 

their sacerdotal duties, and where the multitudes 

assembled to witness the solemnities of public worship 

was built in the form of a terrace with the Temple at 

its summit.3 The Temple was a roofed edifice of 

moderate size, and was divided into two unequal 

portions. The first of these was known as the Holy 

Place, while the other which lay beyond it was called 

the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was 

separated from the Holy Place by a large curtain ; it 

was completely empty, and was only entered once a 

year — on the Day of Atonement — by the high priest. 

The Holy Place was about twice the dimensions of 

this inner sanctuary, and contained the golden Altar 

of Incense which was used morning and evening for 

the incense offering; 4 it also contained the Golden 

Candlestick, which had always to be kept ah’ght ; 5 and 

the golden Altar of Shewbread, where the twelve 

loaves which had to be replaced every Sabbath day 


* Lev. X. 8 ; Josephus contra Apion, i. 22. 


‘ Toma, iii. 3 ; Exod. xxx. 17 ; Philo, ” Vita Mos.,” iii. 15, 


3 The two most important sources for the Temple are Josephus 

(** Ant.,” XV. II. I, sq. ; *’ Bell. Jud.,” v. 5. i, sq.) and the Tractate 

Middoth, i. 3. * Exod. xxx. i, sq. 


‘ Exod. xxvii. 20. Dirdorus, xxxiv. l» rbv H o’^Jv/irov Xtyoftiivov 

trap’ dvrol^ \v}(P0i’ khi xaiofifrov a^maXilaruM; it* rtp tatp. 




234 ‘^^^ TEMPLE. 


were laid.’ Outside the Temple proper lay the 

Temple courts, roofless enclosures amounting to four 

in number. The largest of these and the furthest 

removed from the Temple was the Court of the 

Gentiles, so called because men of all nations were 

permitted to enter it^ Five gates opened into this 

vast court^ It was here the money-changers had 

their stalls, and that the vendors of beasts for sacrifice 

disposed of them to the people. This was the court 

where the rabbis disputed, and where Jesus and. His 

disciples used to teach. It was in fact a market, a 

money-changers bureau, a place for public discussion, 

and a general meeting-point for Jews from all parts 

of the world.3 


On the terrace above this court stood the Court of 

the Israelites, which was composed of two parts — one 

court for both sexes and another for men alone. Only 

Jews had the privilege of entering those courts, and 

notices were put up at the approaches to them 

forbidding Gentiles to proceed further on pain of 

death/ A peculiarity connected with these courts 

consisted in the fact that the women’s court was 

available for men as well, but the women on the other 

hand were not permitted to enter the court set 

specially apart for the men.^ Some steps above the 

Court of the Israelites and in close proximity to the 

Temple stood the Court of the Priests, which was set 

apart for the priests alone. Close to this court and 

in front of the Temple stood the great Altar of 


« Lev. xxiv. 5, sq. » ” Bell. Jud.,’* v. 5. 2. 


3 Hausrath, ‘* Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte,” i. 38. 


^ See note 2, page 229. ^ Jostphus contra Apion, u. 8* 






Sacrifice. It was a large square structure made of 

unhewn stones, on which a fire was constantly kept 

burning, and where public and private sacrifice was 

daily offered to the God of Israel.’ 


The sacrifice of animals upon the altar at Jerusalem 

was the ordinary means adopted by the Israelites 

to gratify or appease the Deity. To many Jews of 

the Roman period sacrifice had assumed a highly 

symbolical meaning,^ but it is probable that some of 

them still adhered to the primitive conceptions of the 

divinity ^ which the literal acceptation of this religious 

rite implied It may be said that there were three 

kinds of sacrifices in use among the Jews — the Burnt- 

offering, the Peace-offering, and the Sin and Trespass- 

offering.4 The Burnt-offering was the most customary 

form of sacrifice ; it was the only offering which was 

entirely consumed upon the altar, and in its highest 

significance was intended to express the complete 

devotion of the worshipper to the decrees of the 

Divine will. The Peace-offering — only the fat of 

which was burnt, the carcass being used by the offerer 

as a festive meal — was a sacrifice offered either for 

the purpose of procuring a temporal blessing from 


‘ ** Bell. Jud.,** V. 5. 6. For further details respecting the Temple, 

cf, Spiess, ** Der Jerusalem des Josephus,” and ” Der Tempel zu 

Jerusalem/’ 1882. 


» C/. W. Robertson Smith, ” The Old Testament in the Jewish 

Church,” p. 380. 


3 Gen. viii. 21 ; Lev. iii. ii, 16. C/. Pfleiderer, *’ Religions- 

philosophie auf geschichtlicher Grundlage ” (1878), p. 732, s^. 


* These three kinds of offerings were bloody offerings ; the unbloody 

offerings were of very secondary importance, and were usually a sort of 

addition to the others. Animals were of more value than the fruits of 

the field, and therefore more worthy of being ofTered to God. 












tcflht CcmmitUt of Ihi PaUsUm Exflert 






Jehovah, or as an expression of gratitude for one 

which had already been received. The fat of the Sin- 

offering was also consumed upon the altar, but the 

flesh was given to the priests. This was an offering 

which proceeded from the feeling that union with 

God had been destroyed by some conscious or un- 

conscious act of sin, and was offered with the object 

of appeasing the Divine displeasure, and restoring 

harmonious relations between the offending Israelite 

and the Most High.* 


Many of these offerings were of a private character, 

and only concerned the person who brought them 

to the altar, but the daily burnt-offering was a public 

sacrifice for the whole community,^ and constituted 

the regular daily service of the Temple. This offering 

consisted in the sacrifice morning .and evening of 

a lamb without blemish. The morning service began 

at break of day, and the evening about three o’clock 

in the afternoon.3 Certain psalms were appointed 

for every day of the week,4 and sacred music, both 

vocal and instrumental, was employed to increase the 

dignity and solemnity of the service. As soon as the 

sacrifice had been killed and was laid upon the altar, 

the song of the Lord began. ” And all the congre- 

gation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the 

trumpeters sounded : and all this continued until 

the burnt-offering was finished.” ^ But the ritual 


‘ Lev. i. 7. 


‘ Exod. xxix. 38 ; Numb, xxviii. 3. For fuller details compare the 

Tractate Tamid. 3 Josephus, ” Ant.,” xiv. 4. 3. 


* For Sunday, Psa. xxiv. ; Monday, Psa. xlviii. ; Tuesday, Psa. 

Ixxxii. ; Wednesday, Psa. xciv. ; Thursday, Psa. Ixxxi. ; Friday, Psa. 

xciii. ; Sabbath xcii. s 2 Chron. xxix. 28. 






of the daily service was quite eclipsed by the splendid 

ceremonial which took place on high festivals, and 

especially on the great Day of Atonement, when the 

high priest officiated in person, and formed the centre 

of religious interest. It was on this day that the high 

priest entered the Holy of Holies to expiate the sins 

of the people; and when he appeared again before the 

curtain which shut him off from human sight, he 

seemed to the expectant multitudes— 


** As the morning star rising from a cloud, 

as the moon when it is full ; 

As the sun shining on the temple of the Most High, 

as the rainbow giving light on a bright cloud ; 



When he put on his robe of honour, 


and was clothed with the perfection of glory , 

When he went up to the Holy Altar 


he ennobled the court of the sanctuary ; 

As he stood by the hearth of the altar, 


he took the consecrated portions out of the priest’s hands. 

Encompassed with his brethren round about 


like a cedar of Lebanon, 

All the sons of Aaron in their apparel, 


like palm trees compassed him round about, 

Holding in their hands the offering for the Lord 


before all the congregation of Israel. 

And finishing the service at the altar, 


that he might adorn the offering of the Most High Almightyt 

He stretched out his hand to the cup, 


and made the libation with the blood of the grape ; 

He poured it out at the foot of the altar, 


as a sweet-smelling savour to the most High King of All. 

Then shouted the sons of Aaron, 


and sounded the brazen trumpets ; 

And made a great noise to be heard, 


to recommend the nation to the Most High. 

Then all the people together hasted, 


and fell down to the earth upon their faces 






To wDnihip their Loid> 


the Almighty, the God most high. 

The tii^eis also sang His praises wiib theit voices, 


in the great bouse was there made sweet melody. 

The people tiesoi^ht the Most High, 


and addressed their prayers to the God of merCf, 

Till the aolemnily of the Lord was ended, 


and Ihey had finished His service. 

Then he went down and lifted up his hands 


over the whole congregation of the children of Israel, 

To give them with his lips the blessing of the Lord, 


and to exall His name. 

And the people bowed themselves down a second lime, 


to recdve a blessing from the Most High.” ‘ 


Ecclesiastlcus 1. 5, sq. ; ef. Lev. jivi. Reuss, ” Philosophie 

Teligieuse et morale des Hebreux,” p. 494. For various readings see 

Churton, “The Uncsnonical and Apocryphal Scriptures” (1^84), 

P- 357- 










An institution of less antiquity and pretension than 

the Temple, but one which was destined to outlive it, 

and to play an important part not only in the history 

of the Jewish religion, but also in the formation of 

the Christian Church,’ was the Synagogue. Both 

in the Talmud and the New Testament it means 

a meeting-house for religious purposes’ — a descrip- 

tion which explains with tolerable accuracy the object 

of the numerous places of worship which existed in 

every town and village of Palestine in the time of 

Christ. The two main elements which contributed 

towards the formation of the synagogue were the 

centralization of the whole Jewish sacrificial system 

at one place — the Temple of Jerusalem — and the 

determination of the scribes to impress the I^aw in 

indelible characters on the heart and mind of every 


‘ In James ii. 2 the Church h called a symigc^e, and in Heb. x. 25 






one who called himself a Jew.^ The effect of making 

the Temple the only sanctuary in which it was per- 

missible to offer an acceptable sacrifice operated in 

two ways — it elevated the character of the old popular 

religion at the expense of its vitality, and in the 

second place it destroyed the ancient seats of sac- 

rifice, and deprived the people who lived at a distance 

from Jerusalem of the religious privileges which they 

had formerly enjoyed. In these circumstances it 

became imperative, while maintaining the exclusive 

prerogatives which the Temple had acquired, to devise 

some religious institution to supply the place of what 

had been lost. But to inaugurate such a change after 

the Exile might have proved an impossible task if the 

germs of the synagogue had not already sprung up 

among the captives during their enforced sojourn in 

Babylonia. In the dark days of the Exile it had 

become a custom with the deported Jews to meet 

together at stated times to console and comfort one 

another, and to fortify themselves in the faith of their 

fathers by the reading and expounding of the Law.= 

This custom did not openly conflict with the pre- 

tensions set up on behalf of the Temple , it was 

accordingly continued after the Return, and so 

palpably met the requirements of Jewish religious 


‘ Cy. Kuenen, “Religion of Israel,” iii. 20. 


‘ The first historic mention of what is in all probability the syna- 

gogue is to be found in Psa. Ixxiv. 8, but most critics go back to the 

time of the Exile for its origin, when it temporarily supplied the place 

of the Temple. Joiarib and Elnathan, who are called ” teachers” in 

the Book of Ezra (viii. 16), may have received this name from the cir- 

cumstance that they gave instruction in the religious assemblies at 

Babylon. C/, Acts xv. 21. Miimviii y<}p ir ycvctuv apxaiiov, k, r. X. 






life, that it ultimately developed into the synagogue, 

and became an established institution, with its roots 

firmly fixed in the afTections of the people. For the 

diffusion of the Law among the whole community 

the synagogue was admirably adapted, and it is ques- 

tionable if the Law would have survived the rude 

shocks which were awaiting it, had the synagogue 

not existed and held its precepts before the popular 

mind. No wonder that the scribes, the men whose 

whole lives were absorbed in the teaching of the 

Law, did their utmost to exalt the synagogue. It 

was an unsurpassed instrument for the propagation 

of their ideas ; they accordingly invested it with 

Divine sanctions, and ascribed its origin to Moses 



As far as it is possible to judge from the ruins 

of old synagogues which still exist in the northern 

parts of Galilee,* these places of worship were of very 

simple construction, and like Jewish buildings in 

general, they could lay no claim to architectural 

distinction. The site for a synagogue was, as a rule, 

selected because of its proximity to the seashore or 

to a running stream ; ^ and this choice was made for 

the purpose of enabling the worshippers the more 


‘ Cf. Josephus con/ra Apion, iL 17. Philo apud Eusebius, ” Prae- 

paratio Evang.,” viii. 7. 


‘ The Survey of Western Palestine (Palestine Exploration Fund) 

Special Papers, ” The Synagogues of Galilee,” by Sir Charles Wilson, 

294, sg. 


3 Acts xvi. 13 • Josephus, ** Ant. ,” xiv. la 23. The Talmud says 

that synagogues were built upon an eminence. C/. L. Low, *’ Monat* 

schrift fiir Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums,*’ 1884, p. 167, 

sg. ; Schuerer, “Geschichte des Jiidischen Volkes,** ii. 370, note 8&z. 






easily to perform the ablutions prescribed for those 

about to enter a house of prayer.’ The synagogue 

was generally rectangular in form, with a portal con- 

structed in accordance with the Greek style of the 

period, and an exuberance of spiral ornamentation 

essentially Jewish in character* The interior of the 

sacred building was of equal simplicity with the 

exterior. The chest in which the rolls of the Law 

and the other holy writings were kept was the most 

notable piece of furniture.3 It is probable that in 

the time of Christ there was a reading-desk for the 

use of the person who was chosen to read the Scrip- 

tures, and it is also likely that the reading-desk stood 

upon a raised platform to allow the reader for the 

day to be more easily seen and heard by the as- 

sembly. Around the reading-desk seats were ar- 

ranged for the people, the women and the men, as 

is generally believed, sitting apart in two different 

portions of the building. The front benches appear 

to have been intended for the old men, and the places 

further back for the younger ones. 


In New Testament times the doctors of the Law 

and the wealthier members of the community loved 

the privilege of sitting in the foremost seats. In 

imitation of the Temple, a lamp was kept burning 

in the synagogue ; and trumpets to announce the 

days of fasting and the advent of the new year also 

formed an indispensable part of its equipment4 


Judith xii. 7. Cf. Exod. xxx. 18, j^. 


E. Renan, *’ Mission de Phenicie,” p. 761, s^. 

3 Vitringa, 174. 


* Ibid., 1 74-2 1 1 ; Matt, xxiii, 6; Schucrer, ii. 37$-^. 




244 ^^^ SYNAGOGUE. 


In all those districts of Palestine where a purely 

Jewish population preponderated, and where the people 

in consequence were presumably under the sway of 

Jewish law, the local Senate or Council of Elders 

possessed both civil and ecclesiastical authority, and 

played an important part in managing the affairs of 

the synagogue.’ The exercise of ecclesiastical disci- 

pline was in the hands of the elders ; and it lay 

with them to decide who should be admitted to the 

services of the synagogue, or who should be expelled 

and excommunicated.* In the time of Jesus this 

power was in full operation, and decrees of expulsion 

were unquestionably put into force against His fol- 

lowers.3 Expulsion from the synagogue does not 

appear to have been at this period accompanied by 

the infliction of civil penalties, although the rabbis 

regarded every one who was banned as richly de- 

serving them. It is also probable that the elders 

enjoyed the right of appointing the permanent 

officials of the synagogue.4 The most important of 

these was the Archisynagogus, or, as he is called in 

the English version of the New Testament, the Ruler 

of the Synagogue.-^ He is not to be confounded 

with the Archon or head of the civil community, 


‘ Antiquity does not know those sharp distinctions between dvil and 

religious, which have become so familiar to the modern European 

mind ; among the Jews religious and political aims were always inex- 

tricably combined. It is the same with the Mohammedans at the 

present day. C/, E. Mayer, ” Les Associations religieuses musul- 

manes. Annales de ‘1 Ecole libre des sciences politiques,” No. 2, 1886. 


» C/, Merx, Schenkel’s «* BiW-Lexikon.” Art. **Bann.*’ 


3 Luke vi. 22 ; John ix. 22, xii. 42, xvi. 2. C/, 1 Cor. v. 2, s^, 


* Schuerer, ** Geschichtc/* ii. 358, s^, 


^ Luke xiii. 14 ; Mark v. 22, 6cc. 






although the same person sometimes held both offices 

at once. In general, the Ruler of the Synagogue 

was chosen from among the elders ; it is probable 

that he was frequently a scribe, and his duties con- 

sisted in looking after the structural requirements of 

the sacred edifice, and in superintending the conduct 

of the appointed services.* It devolved upon him to 

see that order was preserved in the synagogue, and 

to take care that nothing occurred which seemed to ^ 

him inconsistent with traditional ideas of reverence 

and the obligations of the Law.^ It did not specially 

appertain to him to take any active part in the per- 

formance of the service: it is possible that he may 

occasionally have done so, but his functions in this 

matter were, strictly speaking, confined to procuring 

suitable persons from week to week to offer the 

accustomed prayers, to read the appointed portion of 

Scripture, and to preach before the people on the 

Sabbath day 3 Besides the Ruler of the Synagogue 

there was also a servant or attendant, who acted as a 

kind of verger. His duties, as far as can be ascer- 

tained, consisted in cleansing the synagogue, in keep- 

ing the lamps alight, in opening and shutting the doors 

before and after service, and in handing the Scripture 

roil to the reader for the day .4 It is also supposed 

that-fhe teaching of the children fell upon him.s As 

those who were condemned to be whipped received 


‘ ‘* Die Gemeindeverfassung der Juden in Rom in der Kaisendt*” 

E. Schuerer, p. 25, s^. ‘ Luke xiiL 14. 


3 Acts xiE ij ; Luke iv. 16 ; (/C Light foot, “Horae Hebraicse” on 


this passage. 


^ Luke iv. 20. St rack in ** lierzog,” su^ voce ” Synagogen,” 


s Schabbath, i. 3. 






this form of punishment in the synagogue, it is very 

probable that the synagogue attendant was entrusted 

with the execution of the sentence.’ Alms were also 

collected in the synagogue, but it is questionable if 

any particular official was delegated to perform this 

duty in the time of Jesus.^ 


Every synagogue was open for Divine service at 

least three times a week — on Mondays and Thursdays 

as well as on the Sabbath, and it is probable that 

the larger synagogues were opened daily at the three 

accustomed hours of prayer.3 On the first day of 

the month, and on the recurrence of the religious 

festivals and holy days, there were always services in 

the synagogue. The services on week-days and on 

Sabbath afternoons were of a comparatively simple 

character, and principally consisted in the repetition of 

certain prayers and the reading’of passages from the 

Book of the Law.* Sabbath morning was the time 

when the most important service took place. It was 

opened with prayers, and while these were being 

repeated by the person who for the day had been 

entrusted with this duty, the whole congregation 

stood up and turned their faces towards the Holy of 

Holies at Jerusalem. This was the attitude in which 

all prayers were said. A fixed portion of Scripture, 

taken from the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers,5 

and which constituted a kind of Creed, was then 

recited by the reader, after which he repeated a few 


* Matt. X. 17; Maccoth, iii. 10; Weber, **System der Altsynagogalen 

Palastinischen Theologie,’* p* I39> ‘ Matt. vi. 2. 


3 Hierosol. Megilla, 75, 1. Dan. vi. 11. Cf, Acts ii. 15, iii. I, 

X. 9. 4 Schuerer, ii. 382. 


5 Deut. vi. 4~9, xi, 13-21 ; Numb. xv. 37-41. 






more prayers, and this part of the service, which was 

called the Schema, came to an end.’ The reading of 

what may be called the Lesson for the day was then 

commenced. It consisted of a certain number of 

verses from the Pentateuch, which had been divided 

into a hundred and fifty-four portions for the purposes 

of the synagogue, and these divisions were supposed 

to be read from beginning to end every three years.” 

The reading of the lesson was a very elaborate pro- 

ceeding, for which no less than seven men were 

appointed by the Ruler of the Synagogue.3 Each of 

these men read at least three verses of the lesson, and 

these were immediately translated verse by verse from 

the Hebrew of the original by an interpreter into 

Aramaic, the language in common use among the 

population of Palestine in the time of Christ It is 

still a matter of doubt whether the office of inter- 

preter was a voluntary duty, undertaken by some one 

acquainted with both languages, or whether it was 

placed in the hands of a special and permanent 

official.4 This part of the service was both begun 

and ended with an expression of thanks to the God 

of Israel.^ 


As the prophetical books were not invested with 


‘ This Schema received its name from the opening words of Deut. 

vi. 4. Besides being read in public, it was also enjoined to be used 

daily morning and evenfng by every grown-up Jew. C/. Josephus, 

“Ant.,”v 8 13. For the Schema, c/. Vitringa. “De Synagoga,” 

1052 ; Zunz, ** Die gottesdienstlichen Vortrage,” 367, jy. 


* Zuns, 3, s^, 


3 It was the custom for the reader to stand, Luke iv. 16. C/. 

Vitringa, “De Synagoga,” 980. 


4 Art. **Targum,’* ” Real-Encyclopadie fiir Bibel und Talmud” of 

Hamburger. * Vitringa. 983. 






quite the same attributes of sanctity as the Law, 

they were not read till the lesson from the Law was 

finished. No fixed order of lessons for these books 

was in existence in the days of Christ, and the reader 

was apparently allowed a certain liberty of choice as 

to the passages he should select for the edification of 

the people. The aid of the interpreter was also re- 

quired at this part of the service, but the same care 

was not exercised in translating the original text, and 

after three verses or even more had been read, the 

translator generally contented himself by giving a 

kind of pharaphrase of their contents.’ The passages 

read from Scripture formed the basis or text for a 

practical discourse to the congregation,^ and there 

can be no doubt that the Christian sermon had its 

origin in the teaching and exhortations which pre- 

vailed in the synagogue. Most of these discourses 

opened with an explanation of the text, which often 

received a highly strained or allegorical interpretation, 

and was made to give a sacred sanction to some 

doctrine or practice which commended itself to the 

scribes, and which they wished to popularize. For it 

was the scribes who generally taught in the syna- 

gogues ; they were the men who had made the Law 

the study of their lives, and the hold which they 

in consequence obtained over the. masses invested 

them with an authority which compelled attention 

and respect. To teach in the synagogues was not, 


‘ Luke iv. 17 ; Acts xllL 15. The prophetical books, with which 

were included the older historical books, were only read on Sabbath 

mornings, and only one reader performed this duty. Cy, Art 

“Hafiara,” **Real-Encyclopadie fur Bibel und Talmud.” 


‘ Luke iv. 20 ; Mark i. 21 ; Matt. iv. 23 ; John vi. 59, s^. 






however, an exclusive privilege of the scribes. It 

was an office which might be undertaken by any one 

who felt himself competent to perform it/ and this is 

the reason why Jesus was able, according to St. Luke,* 

to begin His ministry in the synagogues, and to make 

them of such utility in spreading the doctrines of the 

kingdom of God. It was customary for the people 

to listen in silence to the exhortations of the preacher, 

but when he said anything to displease them, mur- 

murs of discontent ran through the assembly ; ques- 

tions were put to him, and in certain cases he was 

requested to hold his peace.3 The service ended with 

a benediction, and if a priest were present it was his 

privilege to pronounce it.* 


It was mainly owing to the admirable provision 

which the synagogue had made for the religious needs 

of the people, that Judaism was enabled to survive 

the overthrow of its central sanctuary, and to exist 

independently of a hereditary priesthood and a sacri- 

ficial system. These institutions had existed for 

centuries, and were associated in the mind of every 

Jew with the essentials of his faith, but when he was 

irremediably deprived of them, the synagogue was fully 

competent to supply the want, and to offer him the 

means of maintaining his religious individuality un- 

impaired. It was a more flexible institution than the 


« Art., **Predigt.,” ” Real-Encyclopadie fiir Bibel und Talmud.” 


‘ Luke iv. 16, sq. 


3 C/. Matt. xiii. 54, sg, ; Acts xviii. 6 ; i Cor. xiv. 30. Lightfoot, 

•* Horae Hebraicae,’* *’ Obmurmuravit totus coetus et dixit interpret!, 

‘ Tace,’ et tacuit.” 


* Art. ” Priestersegen,” **Real-Encyclopadie fiir Bibel und 







Temple; it was better adapted to encounter the 

vicissitudes to which the Jewish race was constantly 

exposed ; it was not rooted to the soil of Palestine, 

but was capable of being transplanted without injury 

to any quarter of the globe. The Jewish colonists, 

who helped to people the great cities of antiquity, 

were not obliged to leave their religious observances 

behind, when they sought a home beyond the con- 

fines of their native land. Wherever a few of them 

could meet togetlier to read the Law and the 

prophets, and to hear the wonderful record of Je- 

hovah’s dealings with their fathers, there a synagogue 

at once came into existence, to nourish their religious 

aspirations, and to strengthen their devotion to the 

faith. According to Philo and Josephus^ the pur- 

pose of the synagogue was to promote the moral and 

religious edification of the community, and the teach- 

ing to which the congregation listened every Sabbath 

day was in the main directed towards this great end. 

It sometimes happened that the exhortations in the 

synagogue descended into minute and petty details, 

respecting ceremonial and other external observances 

to the neglect of the weightier matters of the Law ; 

but this was a blemish which only aflTected one 

portion of the service, and did not always occur. It 

was impossible to frequent the synagogue without 

becoming thoroughly familiar with the lofty moral 

elements contained in the Law ; and the great ideals 

of righteousness, mercy, and humility enunciated in 

the impassioned language of the prophets must have 

stirred the popular imagination, and sunk deep into 


‘ Philo, ” De Vita Mosis,” ii. 167, s^. ; Josephus conira Apion, ii. 






the national character and life. It was the synagogue 

which achieved this immense result, and tended to 

make some of the highest standards of human excel- 

lence the common property of the Jewish race. 






In the preceding chapter it has been seen that the 

most important part of public worship consisted in 

the reading and exposition of Holy Scripture, and 

that the synagc^e was quite as much a school of 

instruction as a house of prayer. The books on 

which this instruction was based, and which con- 

stituted the contents of Holy Scripture in the time 

of Christ were essentially the same as those which 

now form the Old Testament canon of the Christian 

Church.’ In fact, they are quoted by the apostles, and 

were adopted by the Church as canonical writings 

on the authority of the Synagogue.” These sacred 

books were divided by the rabbis into three classes 

— the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, or Hagio- 

grapha.3 The Law, in the stricter meaning of the 

word, was contained in the Pentateuch , the Prophets 


‘ C. Siegfried, ” Philo von Alexaiidtk,” i8?5, p. i6i. 


‘ ” HUtoire de la Th^ilogie Chr^tienne au siicle apostolique,” par 

E. Keuss, i. 411. 


3 Cf. Ecclesiasticus, Proline. Luke iv. 44. For Talmudic refer- 

ences, see Strack, in Herzi^, Art. ” Konon,” vii. 452. 




254 ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ TRADITION. 


included, besides what are known as the prophetical 

books, most of those documents which give an 

account of the pre-exilian history of the Israelites. 

The Writings ‘ were the last works to obtain ad- 

mission within the sacred volume ; the canonicity of 

some of them was long a matter of contention * 

among the doctors of the Law, and it was not till the 

opening centuries of the Christian era that these 

disputes were settled, and that the canon in its 

present form was finally accepted by all the rabbis. 


The principle which regulated the admission of 

books into the sacred canon was not primarily based 

on their antiquity or their authorship, but on the 

nature of their contents. Before all things it was 

imperative that the document which laid claim to the 

august title of Holy Scripture should contain nothing 

which was at variance or out of harmony with 

writings already recognized as coming from God. 

In the case of such works as the Song of Solomon, 

and the Book of Ecclesiastes, it was not around the 

question of date or of authorship that the dispute 

among the rabbis was keenest ; these were matters of 

secondary importance in comparison with the sup- 

posed meaning and substance, and it was only after 

this point had been settled in their favour that they 

were permitted to rank as portions of the sacred 

record.3 Admission to the canon did not, however, 


* The Writings included the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the Song of 

Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, 

Nehemiah, Chronicles. 


E’g’t Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. 


^ Cf, ]. FUrst, ” Der Kanon des A. T. nach den Uberlieferungen, 

in Talmud und Midrasch,” 1868 ; Weber, “System.” 81. 






immediately place a book upon the same level of 

authority as its older predecessors in that collection. 

Although all the books were believed to owe their 

origin to God, this did not prevent different degrees 

of inspiration from being recognized amongst them. 

In this respect the first place was unquestionably 

assigned to the Torah, or Law.’ In the centuries 

immediately preceding the Christian era, it is regarded 

as the supreme arbiter in matters of faith ; * it is 

believed to possess everlasting force ; ^ it is an 

incorruptible light, and it is better to die than violate 

its commands 4 which are in reality the injunctions 

of God. To love the Law was the most sacred of 

human duties, and to be permitted by the foreign 

rulers of Palestine to practise it was looked upon 

as a boon of incalculable worth.^ In fact, it was 

better to rise in rebellion and fight with the courage 

of despair than to allow the Law to be trodden under 

foot As time went on this tendency to exalt the 

Divine attributes of the Law continued to develop, 

until it attained its highest pitch in the oldest 

portions of the Talmud. To the rabbis of the first 

and second centuries after Christ the Law was a 

complete revelation of God’s will, and with the Book 

of Joshua, which formed the concluding part of the 

original document,^ it would have remained the only 

revelation if Israel had not fallen into sin. It was 

the one thing absolutely indispensable to Israel 


« Taylor, ” Sayings of the Jewish Fathers/’ 1877, P* 12a 

‘ Baruch, iv. i ; Tobit, i. 6. ^ Wisdom, xviii. 4* 


4 X Mace. L 56, s^. ; 2 Mace. vii. 


5 I Mace. ii. 19, x^., iii. 21, iv. 42 ; Psa. cxix. 

* Reuss, ** L’Histoire Saint de la Loi,” 6. 




{^By permission eftkt Ctmmiltit cfthe Falesline Etploraiien Fund.) 






Nothing is expressed in the other books of Scripture 

which is not already imph’ed in the Law, and no 

prophet has uttered anything which is not already 

revealed in the Law.’ Moses wrote it, but only at 

the dictation of God. Even the words in the last 

verses of Deuteronomy, in which the law-giver*s 

death is recorded, were dictated to him beforehand by 

God, and it was the part of a liar and a despiser of 

God’s Word to assert that a single verse of the Law 

had been written by Moses alone.« 


The pre-eminence accorded to the Law was not, 

however, intended to have the effect of reducing the 

other portions of Holy Scripture to a position of 

insignificance. No one but a renegade from Israel 

would deny their authority.3 In the language of the 

rabbis, to touch them defiles the hands, which means 

to say that they are only to be handled with becom- 

ing reverenca4 In quoting them precisely the same 

formula is used as in making a quotation from the 

Law,5 and the New Testament as well as the rabbis 

sometimes speak of them as forming a part of the 

Law itself. St. Paul, for instance, in making a 

quotation from the Book of Isaiah, introduces it 

with the words, ” In the Law it is written,” and in the 

Fourth Gospel a passage from the Psalms is intro- 

duced in exactly the same manner.^ To regard 


* Weber, ‘* System der Altsynagogalen Palastinischen Theologie/* 

18-19. 79- 


« Philo, * Vita Mods,” ul 39 ; Josephus, •* Ant.,” iv. 8. 43 ; Tract. 

Sanhedrin, 99a. 


3 Weber, ** System,” 80. * Edujoth, v. 11 1 ; Kelim, xv. 6. 


5 Stapfer, ** La Palestine au Temps de Jesus-Christ,” 1885, P^ 

349. * I Cor. xiv. 21 ; John x. 34. 






these books as parts of the Law, although it appeared 

to exalt their authority, had in reality a disastrous 

effect upon their true meaning, and in many cases 

transformed them from books of history, or of edifi- 

cation, into a mere collection of precepts and in- 



But in spite of this theoretical distinction which 

existed between the Law, on the one hand, and the 

Prophets and Hagiographa on the other, the uniting 

of the two collections within the same canon had the 

effect for all practical purposes, of placing them on 

the same footing as regards authority,^ and both 

Philo and Josephus look upon the whole of the Old 

Testament as equally divine. According to Philo 

it did not contain a single superfluous word, and not 

only every individual word, but every syllable of 

every word had its origin in God.* Josephus holds 

substantially the same opinions. To him the whole 

of Scripture is divine ; all its parts agree together ; 

nothing has ever been added to or taken away from 

it, and it was better to die than utter a word against 

the doctrines it contained.3 The New Testament has 

expressions which are quite at variance with this 

abject worship of the letter,4but it continues to regard 

the Old Testament as proceeding from God, or from 




« To the book were added in course of time the books ; the fonner 

(the Pentateuch) was formally and solemnly introduced in two successive 

acts, the latter (the Prophets and Hagiographa) acquired imperceptibly 

a similar public authority for the Jewish Church (Wellhausen, ** Pro- 

legomena to the History of Israel,” 409). 


” Philo, ** Vita Mosis,” ii. 13 16. 3 Josephus ron/ra Apion, 1. 8» 


* John xvi. 13 ; 2 Cor. iii. 5-18 ; i John ii. 20, 21, 27. 






the Spirit of God. In the First Gospel the Messianic 

dignity of Jesus is proved by adducing passages from 

the prophets in its support — a method which would 

not have been adopted unless the evangelist had 

believed in the Divine origin of his authorities. The 

Fourth Gospel expressly says that the Scripture can- 

not be broken, and it is the contents of the Jewish 

canon which are there referred to.” Passages from the 

Prophets and Psalms are frequently quoted as the 

words of God,3 and wherever such phrases as the 

Scriptures saith, or the Spirit saith occur they are 

equivalent to the expression God saith.4 Even St. 

Paul, in spite of his emancipation from the letter 

adopts the same methods of interpretation as the 

rabbis, and is in substantial agreement with their 

views respecting the origin of Holy Writ. In fact, 

there was a universal consensus of Jewish opinion 

in the time of Christ that the whole of the Old 

Testament was divine. 


As the Scripture was on all sides admitted to 

have come from God, to know it was to know the will 

of God, and accordingly the study of the Law be- 

came the supreme duty of man. In the conflict of 

duties the study of the Law always took prece- 

dence. It occupied a higher rank than the duty of 

parents to children, or of children to parents, and it 

is related of a certain man that he sold his daughter 


* 2 Tim. Hi. 16 ; Rom. xv. 4 ; Heb. iii. 7 ; 2 Peter i. 21. C/. 

O. Pfleiderer, ‘*Grundriss der Christlichen Glaubens ur.d Sittenlehre, ‘ 

pp. 43-44 (third edition, 1886). 


” Matt. iv. 13, j^., xii. 16, j^. ; John ii. 17, xix. 36. 


3 Matt. i. 22 ; Acts iv. 25 ; Heb. i. 5, s<f., iv. 4, sg., x. 3a 


4 K. A. Lipbius, ” Dogmatik,” 1879, P- H^- 






in order that he might have the means to study the 

Law. Married men forsook their families to devote 

themselves to the Law ; » others renounced marriage 

altogether, and said, ” Let the world be built up by 

other men, my soul cleaveth to the Law.” ^ It some- 

times happened that rabbis sold or gave up all they 

possessed for the purpose of dedicating their lives to 

the study of the Law.^ Rabbi Jochanan was jour- 

neying from Tiberias to Sepphoris, and Rabbi 

Chija, the son of Abba, went with him. When they 

came to a field. Rabbi Jochanan said, ” This field was 

mine, and I sold it so as to give myself up to the 

Law.” Then they came to a vineyard, and he said, 

” This vineyard was mine, and I sold it so as to give 

myself up to the Law.” Rabbi Chija, the son of Abba, 

then began to weep, and said to him, ” I weep because 

thou hast kept nothing for thine old age.” ” But,” he 

replied, ” My son, Chija, my son Chija, is it then a small 

matter in thine eyes, that I have sold something 

which was made in six days, and have obtained in 

exchange that which was given in forty days and 

forty nights. The whole world was made in six days 

only, for it is written, * In six days the Lord made 

heaven and earth ‘ ; but the Law was given in forty 

days, for it is written, * And he was with Jehovah 

forty days and forty nights.’ ” 


On the other hand, not to know the Law was to be 

accursed,4 and a bastard who had this knowledge was 

superior to a high priest who had it not.5 To be 

ignorant of the Scriptures was to place oneself beyond 


‘ Welder, ** System,” 30. ‘ Tosefta to Jebamoth, 8. 


3 Pesikta, fol. 178b. < John vii. 49. 5 Horajoth, iil 8. 






the pale of human compassion. Chastisement shall 

befall the man who gives his bread to one who has 

no knowledge of the Law.^ The study of the Law 

was a duty incumbent upon rich and poor alike,^ and 

it behoved a father to teach his child the Law as soon 

as he could speak.3 He who did not devote himself 

to this highest of all studies should make amends for 

his neglect by marrying his daughter to a scribe, and 

supporting him out of his substance.4 As a reward 

for supporting the schools and scholars of the Law, 

the childless were blessed with children,3 and it was 

the duty of the people to maintain those who made 

this study the occupation of their lives.^ On the other 

hand, the students of the Law are required to be 

satisfied with a hard and humble life, to cat bread 

with salt, to drink sparingly, and to sleep upon the 



Side by side with the written Law, which in its 

wider meaning was understood to comprise the whole 

of sacred Scriptures,^ there also existed, as may be 

seen from the New Testament, an oral or unwritten 

Law. The contents of this unwritten Law were 

called by the rabbis the words of tradition,9 and in 

the time of Christ these words were considered to 

possess the same authority as the written Law itself. ^^ 

Both were equally looked upon and spoken of as 

revelation. The oral Law, no less than the written, 

was derived from God, and was communicated by 


” Sanhedrin, 92a. » Joma, 35b. 3 Mechilta, 83a. 


* Bammidbar rabba, c. 22. 5 Pesikta, 7Sb. * Joma, 72. 


7 Pirke Aboth, vi . 4. 


® “Kanon des Alten Testaments,” Herzog, ” Real-Ency.,” vii. 439. 

» Koheleth rabba, 76d. ‘° Matt. xv. 2 ; Pirke Aboth, iii. 2, v. 8. 






Him to Moses on Mount Sinai.^ Whilst Moses was 

alive he repeated and explained it in the Tabernacle 

of the wilderness ; he also communicated it to Aaron, 

who in turn imparted it to his sons, these again made 

it known to the elders, and the elders to the masses 

of the people^ As the Sanhedrin was the authori- 

tative exponent of tradition at the opening of the 

Christian era, it was believed that Moses had created 

this institution for the express purpose of guarding 

and preserving the unwritten Law. Not only did he 

institute the Sanhedrin, but he was the first head of 

it as well, and before his death he committed the care 

of the oral Law to Joshua, who was supposed to have 

succeeded him in the presidency of this council.3 In 

after time the Judges and prophets formed the con- 

necting link in the long chain of tradition as it passed 

downwards to posterity ; then came the men of the 

great synagogue, the last of whom, Simon the Just, 

bequeathed the hallowed treasures of tradition to the 

scribe Antigonus of Socho. By him it was handed 

down to the heads of the Sanhedrin, till it reached 

the famous doctors Hillel and Schammai, who flour- 

ished in the time of Christ. It was then imparted to 

Gamaliel, the celebrated teacher of St Paul, and it 

continued after the fall of the Jewish state to be 

handed on from generation to generation, till it was 

finally committed to writing and deposited in the 

pages of the •Talmud.4 So runs the historic fiction 

which invested tradition with Divine sanctions, and 

made it such a mighty power in Jewish life. 


‘ Pirke Aboth, i. I. » Erubin, 54b. 3 pjrke Aboth, i. i. 


* Weber, “System der Altsynagogalen Palastinischen Theologie,” 







But the channel through which tradition flowed till 

it was committed to writing did not, according to the 

rabbis, succeed in preserving its contents intact. It 

sometimes happened that portions of the oral Law 

were lost. The grief which ensued on the death of 

Moses caused a vast number of traditions to be for- 

gotten, and in many other instances besides, its pre- 

cepts were believed to have experienced a similar 

fate.’ But these losses were only temporary, for, 

according to the rabbinic theory, the whole of the 




{By ftrmistian oflht Coitmiillu o/Ihe Palatine Expioratiait Fund.) 


oral Law was implicitly contained in the written 

Law, and it was always capable of being restored by 

a searching study of the written text. This study 

was the great occupation of the rabbis. It is hardly 

necessary to say that it was not conducted on histori- 

cal and philological principles ; these methods are of 

very recent origin, and not only the Jews, but the 

whole ancient world were strangers to such instru- 

ments of research. Nor was it conducted in a 


Temura, isb. 






multitude of cases with the object of getting at the 

original meaning of the writer. The lofty simplicity 

of the sacred text was often too obvious in its signifi- 

cation to satisfy the student of tradition. The rabbis’ 

labours on the written Word were generally under- 

taken with a view to recover traditions that had been 

lost, or to find out some hidden precept of Divine 

wisdom which had not hitherto been brought to 

light. In order to achieve this object allegorical 

interpretations were constantly resorted to, as well 

as all sorts of ingenious and arbitrary combinations 

of unconnected texts. With such fanciful methods 

of interpretation it was easy to educe any doctrine 

from the pages of Scripture, and it was a customary 

practice with the scribes to put forward their dog- 

matic assumptions as the restored fragments of a lost 

tradition, or to urge some new precept as if it were an 

old one which had in the past been overlooked. 


As the contents of Scripture fell into two parts — the 

Legal on the one hand, and the Historical and Pro- 

phetical on the other — so also did the contents of 

tradition. And as the Law enjoyed a certain pre- 

eminence over the rest of sacred literature, so also 

did those portions of tradition which handled the 

.same subjects as the Law. All traditions of this 

nature were called the Halacha, or Law of Custom, 

while all traditions bearing upon the historical and 

prophetical books were called the Hs^gada,’ or 

edifying comment. 


* “Duplex est interpretandi genus, alteram T\y?T\ 8^*7*10 seu, 

n37n, 1.^., constitutio, decisio legis vel a majoribus traditione accepta, 

e,^,, 0^D!2 nCO/ T\y?t^ sententia vel consuetudo Mosis, inde a monte 






The laws of custom, like the corresponding laws in 

the Pentateuch, dealt principally with the great 

sacrificial system which was seated at Jerusalem, and 

with all the ramifications of that system in the reli- 

gious life of the people. These laws entered with 

great fulness of detail into such subjects as the 

revenues of the priests and Levites, and the sums 

which they should receive from the people. Feasts 

and fast days were also the object of minute regu- 

lations; the Sabbath, the Passover, the Day of 

Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, all came within 

the sweep of traditional Law ; what should be done 

on these days and what should not be done, what 

sacrifices should be offered and what form of cere- 

monial should be observed in offering them, were 

matters which were regulated with the utmost detail 

and precision. A multitude of regulations also 

existed respecting the purification of unclean persons 

and things, many laws were also devoted to vows and 

their proper observance, and a host of binding customs 

surrounded the subjects of marriage, betrothal, and 

divorce. Matters of a purely secular character were 

also within the sphere of tradition, and laws were 

laid down to regulate such purely civil transactions 

as buying and selling, and the administration of the 


Sinai; sic loquuntur de traditione certa, quam constat per oralem 

acceptionem inde a Mose usque ad posteros pennanasse, vel ex con- 

troversiis doctorum Thalmudicorum constituta. Alterum est n*1^n 

Brno seu man, KiaW, Wm^K, simpliciter BmtS vocatum, «.<?., 

enarratio, historia jucunda et scripturam pertinentibus, qu:e Midraschim 

vocantur ; continet fabulas, pKirabolas, expHcationes allegoricas arcana, 

admonitiones vaticinationes, etc.” (Seligsohn, ** De duabus heirsol. 

pentat. paraphrasibus,” p. 33). 






criminal law. Upon a great variety of subjects the 

written Law had to be supplemented by the Law of 

tradition. The oral Law had to answer all questions 

on which the written Law was silent It had to 

adapt some parts of the written Law to altered social 

conditions ; it had sometimes to modify the rigour of 

written precepts, and to bring them by a process of 

interpretation into harmony with the feelings of the 

age ; it had to adjust the written Law to the practical 

necessities of the times ; it had to define the scope of 

the written Word, and to show in what circumstances 

it should be applied; and it had also to solve all diffi- 

culties and obscurities in the written text So vast 

was the field in which tradition worked that its opera- 

tions never reached an end, and new traditions and 

interpretations were constantly being added to the 

immense mass which had already accumulated.* 


It is difficult to say when these laws of custom 

first arose. In all probability they did not assume 

any considerable proportions till the official promul- 

gation of the written Law after the return from Baby- 

lon. Such ordinances of the scribes as were in the 

nature of a commentary on the Pentateuch must have 

arisen in the centuries subsequent to the Captivity, 

and the same may also be said of many customs 

which were traced back to Moses, or which rested on 

immemorial antiquity. At the same time, it is pos- 

sible and indeed probable that some of these laws 

of custom did actually belong, in a modified form, to 

a remote past, for many of them existed independently 

of Scripture, and were simply linked to it afterwards 


‘ C/. the Tractates of the Mischna. 






by the exegetical processes of the scribes. In theory, 

all traditions which had the reputation of belonging to 

the time of Moses, were considered to possess a more 

sacred character than those of later origin ; but in 

practice, all traditional laws stood upon the same 

footing as regards authority when once they had been 

approved by the majority of the scribes.’ 


From traditions which had the legal regulations of 

the Pentateuch as their basis, and which had assumed 

a binding force, we may now pass to the consideration 

of those traditions which were ostensibly grounded 

on the historical and prophetical books of Scripture, 

and which only possessed the weight attaching to 

pious and accredited opinions. Such traditions prin- 

cipally consisted of tales, legends, homilies, and 

embellishments of the written Word. In contra- 

distinction from the Halacha, or binding rule, they 

were known as the Haggada, or saying. The histori- 

cal and prophetical books lent themselves most 

readily to the genius of the Haggada, but this form 

of tradition also entered with wings of fancy into the 

domain of Law, and wove around its abstract precepts 

the glow and colour of Oriental imagination. It was, 

in fact, a free and imaginative exposition of the whole 

contents of Sacred Writ. Just as the precepts of the 

Halacha grew up in great part to gratify a pious 

anxiety to fulfil every jot and tittle of the Law, so 

did the contents of the Haggada arise to satisfy pious 

curiosity respecting such matters as the heavenly 

world and its inhabitants, the past history of Israel 

and its future destiny among the peoples of the 


‘ Schuerer, ii. 272-3. 






world. So keen was the desire for further knowledge 

on such subjects that the Haggadist was allowed free 

scope for the exercise of his imagination ; he was 

not trammelled in his work like the Halachist, by 

rules of interpretation, and his fancy was allowed to 

play almost at will around the written text. The 

aim of the Halacha was practice ; the aim of the 

Haggada was edification. It was the mystic, the 

imaginative, the transcendental side of the religious 

life which was nourished by the Haggadist, and in 

evolving his pious creations he was permitted to 

expand and transform the sacred narratives into 

almost any shape he pleased The written text was 

toned down and accommodated to the prevalent 

ideas of the time, briefly told incidents were expanded 

and encircled with fanciful details which were some- 

times of foreign growth, and every event which 

attracted pious attention was decorated with a 

garland of legendary lore. The beliefs and hopes 

of the age are accurately reflected in these legends, 

they are the form in which all new ideas took shape ; 

they soon came to be regarded as actual history, and 

were believed in quite as firmly as the written text 



At the commencement of the Christian era the lore 

of the Haggada had attained such large proportions 

that it is not diflicult to construct a complete system 

of theology out of its contents. It is replete with 

information concerning God’s attributes, and the 

secret counsels of His will. It unveils the mysteries 


‘ E. Deutsch, ” Literary Remains,” 331 ; Dillmann in Herzog, 

*• Pseuclcpigrapha,” xii. 363. 






of the heavenly world, and is acquainted with the 

nature and functions of the spiritual beings who dwell 

in it. It knows the names of a multitude of the 

angels, and the kind of work which has been allotted 

to them in the Divine economy. It has many 

mysteries to unfold respecting what took place at the 

creation of the world, and is full of details as to the 

primeval state of man. The temptation of Eve, the 

fall and all its consequences, are minutely set forth in 

the Haggada. It has a great deal to tell of the evil 

spirits which haunt the world ; it knows their powers 

and modes of action, how they enter and how they 

may be exorcised from the hearts of men. A host of 

traditions were in circulation on the subject of the 

Messiah and the Messianic age. This was a favourite 

theme with the populace, and the Haggadists dwelt 

minutely on the transcendent events which were to 

take place when the Messianic kingdom was pro- 

claimed. Sin and death, the resurrection, and the 

great judgment, the new heavens and the new earth, 

were all illuminated by tradition. In fact, tradition 

was able to furnish an answer to every question 

which occupied the heart and mind of the Jewish 



On questions of a purely historical character 

tradition was equally at home. In the domain of 

chronology it was able to tell the dates of all the 

manifold events which had happened from the crea- 

tion of the world till the entry of the Israelites into 

land of Canaan. According to its computations the 

whole of these events lay within a period of two 


* F. Weber, ” System,” &c., 144, s^. 






thousand four hundred and fifty years. It was 

known to tradition that all the beasts, as well 

as the serpent, were able to speak when they were 

first created, and tradition also knew the reason why 

the faculty of speech was taken from them.’ The 

Law had existed as a statute in heaven long before it 

was proclaimed on earth. The angels were subject to 

its decrees, and these heavenly beings remonstrated 

with the Deity when He announced His intention of 

making so divine a thing known to the sons of men.^ 

It was through the angels that man derived his 

knowledge of the story of the creation, and it was 

also at their hands that Moses received the Law on 

Sinai.3 It is said in the Old Testament that Joseph’s 

wife was the daughter of an Egyptian, and tradition 

solves all difficulties as to her belief by the assurance 

that she was converted by an angel to the faith of 



On the whole subject of the patriarchs tradition 

has much to relate which is not to be found in 

canonical history. The exact number of Adam’s 

sons is known, and also where they obtained their 

wives.S The sons of Seth were great astrologers 

according to tradition,^ and Noah was a distinguished 

writer on medicine. It was known how he procured 

all the different kinds of animals which were lodged 


‘ C/. The Book of Jubilees; Ceriani, “Monumenta sacra et 

profana,” 1 86 1, vol. i., 15, s^. ‘ Weber, 16. 


3 Acts vii. 53 ; Gal. iii. 19 ; Heb. ii. 2. Hausrath, ** Neutestament- 

liche Zeitgeschichte, Die Zeit Jesu,” 104. 


* Fabricius, ” Codex Pseudepigraphus Vet. Test.” i. 775, s^, 

5 Ewald’s *«Jahrbiicher dcr bib. Wissenschaft,” lii. 78. 


* Josephus, **Ant.,” i. 2. 3. 






in the ark, and on what peak of Ararat the ark rested 

when the waters of the flood began to subside.* This 

patriarch was said to have been the possessor of a 

library, which he bequeathed to his son Shem.’» Shem 

was also celebrated for his knowledge of the medical 

art, and so was Solomon.^ But Enoch surpassed 

them both in his acquaintance with Divine mysteries. 

Both the past and the future lay before him like an 

open book, and he predicted the whole course of 

human history till the Day of Judgment.4 A great 

many traditions surrounded the life of Abraham, and 

in one of them we are informed that it was the study 

of astrology which taught him there was only one 

supreme God.s Like the rest of the patriarchs Moses 

had a great reputation for learning. He was skilled 

in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was able to 

overcome Pharaoh’s magicians, Jannes and Jambres, 

when they set themselves up in opposition to him.^ 

It is only through the medium of tradition that the 

names of these magicians came down to after-times. 

And it is in the same way that succeeding generations 

came to learn that the rock which Moses struck for 

water in the wilderness followed the children of 

Israel till they reached the Promised Land.7 It was 

commonly believed that Moses did not die after the 

ordinary manner of men, but that he was suddenly 


‘ Ewald’s ” Jahrbiicher,” iii. 80. * Bcx)k of Jubilees, chap. x. 


3 Fabricius, *’ Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti,” i. 1043. 


* Cy. Laurence, “The Book of Enoch,” Oxford, 1821. Hilgenfeld, 

“Die judische Apokalyptik ” (1857), 93. sf. Dictionary of Christian 

Biography, Art. ” Enoch,” by R. A. Lipsius. 


5 Josephus, ” Ant.,” i. 7- I. 


* Acte viL 22 ; 2 Tim. iii. 8. ‘I Cor. x. 4. 






and mysteriously hidden by a cloud from the eyes of 

Joshua and Eleazar, as they were accompanying him 

up Mount Abaris ; and it was also believed, on the 

authority of tradition, that a tremendous struggle 

took place between Satan and the archangel Michael 

for possession of his body.= It would be easy to 

multiply the number of these traditions. Philo, 

Josephus, the Midrasch, and the pseudonymous 

literature of both Jews and Christians abound in 

examples ; but the instances which have just been 

adduced are sufficient to show with what freedom 

and latitude the Ha^adists worked upon the written 

text, and what were the results which they obtained 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant.,” iv. 8. 48. Jude 9. 










Although the Law was regarded as binding upon 

every member of the Jewish people, its precepts were 

of such a character that it was impossible for the 

ordinary Israelite without assistance either to know 

or to follow them. In the first place, they were 

written in a language which he had ceased to speak ; 

for soon after the return from Babylon Hebrew fell 

more and more into disuse, and Aramaic, a cognate 

dialect, assumed its place.’ But even if it had been 

written in a tongue which the people fully under- 

stood, it would have been difficult for them to 

remember the six hundred and thirteen different 

commandments contained in the Pentateuch alone, 

not to mention the multitude of traditions which had 

accumulated around these commandments. And this 

difficulty would have risen to an impossibility when 

the Jewish husbandman — for it was to this class that 

the great bulk of the people belonged — attempted to 

put his knowledge into practice. As a matter of 

‘ N«b. viiL a 1 xiii. 34. 






fact, some of the Pentateuchal laws had never been 

put into operation, and only possessed a theoretical 

value ; others had become inapplicable to the altered 

social state of the community, and others were so 

worded that it was no easy thing to know when and 

how to apply them.’ Besides, the written Law was 

not intended, as the Jews in the time of Christ had 

been taught to believe, to cover the whole field of 

civil, social, and religious life.” To give it the 

appearance of doing so required the exercise of a 

degree of exegetical skill which the mass of the 

people could not possibly possess or perhaps acquire. 

As a result of these circumstances the people had 

to fall back upon the assistance of a class of men 

who made the study of the Law the supreme business 

of their lives. In the Old Testament these men are 

known under the name of Sopherim,^ in the New 

Testament they are designated as men of learning 

{grammateis — scribes), or as men learned in the Law 

(nomikoi — lawyers), or as teachers of the Law 

{nomodidaskaloi)A According to the Jewish habit 

of throwing every institution back into a remote 

antiquity, the scribes were said to have come into 

existence in the time of Moses ; s they sprang up in 

reality during the Babylonian exile, and their rise was 

chiefly owing to this disaster to the national fortunes. 


‘ Kuenen, ** The Religion of Israel,” iii. 12. 


»Strack, Art. ‘ * Schrif tgelehrte ” in ” Herzog,” xiii. 696. Ham- 

burger, •• Real-Ency.,” 204. 3 i Chron. ii. 55, 


< Matt. ii. 4, xxii. 35 ; Luke v. 17 ; Acts v, 34. The Talmudists 

erroneously supposed that the word scribe was derived from the fact 

that the scribes counted every letter of the Law ; cf. Wiinsche, 

” Erlauterung,” 179; Kidduschin, fol. 30a. s Weber, 121-2. 






The Jews had then perished as a nation, the ties of a 

common fatherland were for the time dissolved, and 

the only things which united the deported community 

were the bonds of a common faith and the hallowed 

memories of the past. It accordingly became a 

sacred duty as well as a consolation to preserve and 

strengthen these bonds ; otherwise the Jews would 

have lost their distinctive characteristics, and been 

swallowed up among the populations who surrounded 

and so enormously outnumbered them. To prevent 

this crowning calamity, the ancient records of the 

race, its traditions, its laws, its customs were 

sedulously collected and disseminated among the 

exiles. Copies of these records were required for the 

edification of the weekly assemblies which afterwards 

developed into the synagogue. A class of copyists 

sprang into existence, and these copyists are the 



The return from Babylon and the establishment of 

the Law as an obligatory code increased the numbers 

and importance of the scribes. The growth of the 

synagogue into a national institution added to the 

demand for copies of the sacred book ; as the belief 

in its Divine origin grew in intensity, the functions of 

the scribes became correspondingly enlarged, and 

they naturally developed into canonists and guardians 

of the text as well as copyists of the Law.^ It has 

also to be observed that the language in which the 


‘ E. Montet, ** Essai sur les Origines des Partis Saduc^ et 

Pharisien,” 80, s^. 


» T. Hamburger, *• Real-Ency.,” Arts. ** BibeP* and “Text der 







Law was written ceased to be a living tongue soon 

after the Exile, and the scribes had to undertake the 

task of interpreting its contents to the people. This 

duty involved the assumption of the widest powers 

and responsibilities, and at the opening of the Chris- 

tian era we find the scribes exercising the three- 

fold office of jurists, judges, and popular instructors. 


It was in their capacity of interpreters that the 

scribes were drawn into assuming the functions of 

jurists and legislators. These duties devolved upon 

them in this wise. It had been solemnly laid down 

that every act in life, from the cradle to the grave, 

should be done according to the Law.* Now the 

written Law in many instances does not go beyond 

general principles. Some of its precepts are am- 

biguous, and in process of time others had become 

almost impossible of fulfilment. But most important 

of all is the circumstance that in a multitude of cases 

it laid down no positive regulations whatsoever. In 

other words, it was not a complete code of Law. 

Still the theory remained that this incomplete code 

must supply an answer to every question which 

might arise in all the manifold and complicated rela- 

tions of human life. How was this theory to be 

maintained in face of the fact that the written Law 

was inadequate and incomplete ? Only in one way, 

namely, the creation of such elastic rules of interpre- 

tation * as would permit the scribes to construct a 

code of law, at once more comprehensive in its 

character and more capable of adaptation to the 

changing requirements of a living society. And this 


‘ Ezra X. 3. ‘ Weber, 106, si/. ; Hamburger, ii. ao6. 






was what actually did take place. A set of exegetical 

rules was elaborated by the scribes which allowed 

them the widest latitude in interpreting the written 

Law. By means of these rules a new code was 

practically evolved out of the existing one, and this 

new code actually derived its authority from the laws 

which it was in many cases meant to supersede.’ 

This new code is called the law of tradition because 

it was represented as being nothing more than an 

ancient and authoritative interpretation of the written 

law — an interpretation which dated back to the time 

of Moses himself. It was in reality no such thing, 

but simply the work of the scribes. This work was 

framed in the spirit of the Mosaic code, but it became, 

in process of time, much more elaborate and compre- 

hensive in its character. It was also more flexible, 

because it was not stereotyped in written documents. 

For, although the scribes attempted to hand down 

the precepts of tradition intact from one generation 

to another, it is certain that circumstances were more 

powerful than the rules of the school, and that the 

laws of tradition were modified as time went on to 

meet the practical needs of the community.* 


The whole body of the scribes co-operated in the 

task of law-making, but as the more eminent among 

them resided at Jerusalem, most of the alterations 

and amendments in the law had their origin in the 

Holy City. It was a habit of the scribes to meet 

together for the ventilation and discussion of legal 

questions. These questions were often the subject 


‘ Matt. XV. 3, s^, ; Schncclerman, ** Das Judenthum,’* 173; Weber, 

IJ4-5. ‘ Schuerer, ii. 274. 






of prolonged debate,^ and it was not until a certain 

degree of unanimity had been arrived at among the 

doctors that any projected change in the law had a 

chance of being effected. After the destruction of 

Jerusalem and the final downfall of the Jewish state, 

the scribes formally became the lawgivers of Juda- 

ism.^ But before this catastrophe, and in the days 

of Christ, the decisions of the scribes required to be 

confirmed by the Sanhedrin, and it was not until 

they had received this confirmation that they attained 

the force of law and became binding on the whole 

community.3 Still, public opinion was so strongly 

on the side of the scribes that the members of the 

Sanhedrin did not venture to oppose anything on which 

the scribes were agreed. When the scribes arrived 

at the conclusion that a certain interpretation of the 

Law was the one to be accepted, it was adopted and 

acted upon by the Sanhedrists.^ 


Very little is said in the New Testament as to the 

judicial functions of the scribes. Some of their 

number are stated to ha\e been members of the 

Sanhedrin,5 and in that capacity they must at times 

have performed the functions of judges, for the San- 

hedrin was the supreme judicial tribunal of the . 

community. It is bIso probable that they sometimes 

acted as judges in the provincial districts. But at 

this period it was not necessary for a judge to be a 

scribe and there is every reason to believe that in 


‘ Surenhusius, ” Mischna, Kilajim,” vi. 4 ; Schabboth, viiu 7. 

‘ Surenhusius, *’ Mischna, Kilajim,” iv. 9. 


3 From the Sanhedrin proceeds the Torah for all Israel (Sifre, 104 b). 

* Josephus, **Ant.,*’ xviii. 1. 4. ^ Matt, xxviii. 41. 






most cases he was not. As, however, the law was in 

great measure the work of the scribes, it is extremely 

probable that they exercised a powerful if indirect 

influence on the decisions of the judges. No doubt 

the tendency of the times lay in the direction of 

placing judicial power in the hands of the scribes ; 

for we find soon after the fall of Jerusalem, that the 

scribes had become the administrators of justice as 

the earthly representatives of the will of God.’ – 


Another most important function of the scribes con- 

sisted in teaching the Law to their disciples in the 

school, and to the general public in the synagogue. 

The places in which the more eminent of the scribes 

taught their disciples were called Houses of Assembly 

or Houses for the study of the Law, or simply Houses 

of the Rabbis.^ It is probable that these schools 

were in existence in all the more important towns 

of Palestine in the time of Christ. The halls and 

rooms of the outer forecourt of the Temple ^ also 

appear to have been used by the scribes as schools 

of instruction, and the old rabbinical saying, ” Let 

thy house be a house of assembly,” 4 apparently leads 

to the inference that private houses were sometimes 

employed for a similar purpose. Besides being places 

of instruction for their pupils, thes^ schools were also 

utilized by the scribes for holding discussions with 

each other on disputed points of Law ; discourses 

were sometimes delivered in them on Sundays and 

feast days for the edification of the people at large. 


« Weber, ” System,” 140. 


• Hamburger, ” Real-Encyclopadie,” ii. 676. 


3 Matt. xxi. 23 ; Luke ii. 46 : J . hn xviii. 20. * Aboth, L 4. 






The chief object of these schools, however, was to 

teach those who would, in most cases, afterwards 

become rabbis themselves. A doorkeeper guarded 

the entrance to them, and a small charge was made 

for admission.^ The internal arrangements were of 

a very simple character. The teacher appears to 

have sat on a slightly raised platform,^ while his 

scholars sat around him on the ground.3 


The mode of teaching mainly consisted in making 

the pupils learn the law of tradition by heart. As it 

was considered derogatory to the pcntateuchal code 

to commit the laws of tradition to writing, to commit 

them to memory was the only way of preserving 

them. Although these laws were framed in the most 

concise manner possible, with the express purpose of 

being easily retained in the mind, it was found neces- 

sary for the scribe to go over them again and again, and 

in consequence of this frequent repetition, to teach 

and to repeat came to mean exactly the same thing.^ 

The monotony of such a process was varied by 

allowing the scholar to put questions to his master, 

and to carry on an argument with him on the various 

points of law which came up for consideration.s In 

these discussions the scribes were accustomed to 

display a remarkable capacity for entering into 

minute refinements and distinctions to prove any 

dictum or interpretation which they particularly 


« Art. ” Hillel,” Hamburger, ii. 401. 


‘ Acts xxii. 3 ; Pirke Alx)th, i. 4. 


3 Matt. xxvi. 55 ; Luke ii. 46 ; Pirke Abotli, v. 15. 


* St. Jerome apu*/ Schuerer, ii. 264. 


5 Lightfoot, ** Horo: Mebraicae” to Luke ii. 46. 








(By ^rmissinn ej Iht Cettmitlit aj the FiUittm Expk’oli 






wished to establish. He who had the most reten- 

tive memoiy for the precepts of tradition was ac- 

counted the best scholar, and he who had the 

reputation of teaching only what he had received 

was believed to be the best scribe.^ 


As has already been stated, to teach in the syna- 

gogue was not the exclusive privilege of the scribes. 

But it can hardly be doubted that in the time of 

Christ they were the men most frequently selected 

to address the congregation. Being the authorized 

exponents of the Law, an importance must have 

attached itself to their words which the utterances of 

a layman did not possess. Before addressing the 

public on religious matters in the synagogue, the 

scribe in the centuries immediately succeeding the 

Christian era, and very probably in the days of 

Christ Himself, was expected to have thoroughly 

prepared himself for his sacred task. And not only 

was he supposed to be a man of knowledge and educa- 

tion, he was expected to be a man of sincere piety 

as well. Any scribe who is not inwardly what he 

is outwardly is no scribe.* A scribe’s life must be 

in harmony with his words. Accordingly, it was 

said of Ben Asai, a rabbi of the first century, ” Thou 

preachest finely, but thou dost not fulfil finely.” ^ A 

scribe was also required to weigh well every word he 

uttered, lest his hearers should drink of poisoned 

waters, and cause the name of God to be dis- 

honoured.4 In his principles he was to be as hard 

as iron,^ but in the expression of them it is said that 


* Aboth, ii. 8. ‘ Joma, 72. 


3 Chagiga, 14. 4 Aboth, i. ii s Taanith, 4. 






the scribe whose discourse is not as pleasant to his 

audience as fine honey in the mouth had better hold 

his peace.1 


The preaching of the scribes was enlivened by the 

introduction of parables, allegories, ironical allusions, 

and pithy sayings which were likely to stick in the 

memory. ” Do you know a woman,” said Rabbi 

Judah, when he saw his congregation going to sleep, 

“who has given birth to six hundred thousand men?” 

All roused themselves to hear the answer. ” Joche- 

bed,” said he, ” is the name of the woman ; she g^ave 

birth to Moses, who was worth all Israel.” 2 A rabbi 

of the first century, Jochanan ben Sakai, in urging 

the necessity of immediate repentance, used the 

following parable : — A certain king invited his ser- 

vants to a feast, but gave them no time to make 

ready. Then some of the guests said within them- 

selves, ” A king can in an hour prepare a meal 

and invite us to it.” They immediately put on their 

finest and best garments and waited at the door of 

the palace. These were the wise. The others thought 

that there was yet time, and went in soiled raiments. 

Suddenly the king called them to the banquet ; all 

had to appear before him. Those who had on the 

clean garments were received with joy, and they ate 

and drank at the feast ; but with the others, the 

careless ones, who came in soiled attire, the king was 

angry, and they had to stand aside and look on. 3 

A scribe chose as a text the following verse from the 

Book of Ecclesiastes : “As he came forth of his 


» Hamburger, ii. 927. ‘ Hamburger, ii., Art. ” Predigt.,” 928 


3 Tractate Schabbath, 153a. 




A scribe’s parable. 285 


mother’s womb, naked shall he go again as he came, 

and shall take nothing for his labour, which he may 

carry away in his hand.” ‘ He illustrated the passage 

in this manner. A certain fox stood before a vine- 

yard, which was encompassed by a wall. The grapes 

tempted him, and he tried to find out an opening in 

the wall by which he could enter the vineyard. He 

found one, but it was too small to let him go through. 

He then made a resolution to fast three days, so as 

to make his body lean enough to go through the hole. 

His plan succeeded, and he entered the vineyard. 

Here he feasted on the grapes to his heart’s content, 

and his body once more grew fat and strong. But a 

time came when he wanted to leave the vineyard. 

He again sought the hole in the wall, but when he 

tried to go out he could not. He was accordingly 

obliged to starve his body with fasting so as to 

escape. And when at last he got outside he was as 

lean as when he entered. Then he turned his eyes 

to the vineyard and its fruits, and said, ” O vineyard, 

vineyard, how lovely art thou, and how good are thy 

fruits ! but what do I bring away with me from thee? 

As I entered so must I return.” Such, says the 

scribe, is the life of man : ” Naked did he come forth, 

and naked shall he return.” « Besides being illus- 

trated by parable and fable, a text was frequently 

made the subject of allegorical interpretation, as in 

the following instance : — Rabbi Jochanan ben Sakai 

preaching from the words, ” Let thy garments be 

always white, and let thy head lack no ointment,” 

said, ” If in this passage we think of white garments 


* Eccles. V.I 5. ‘ Art. ” Predigt.,” Hamburger, ii. 930. 






in a literal sense, and of real oil, how many white 

garments and how much oil do the heathen have ? 

But here, by white garments, the garment of virtue 

is to be understood, the fulfilment of God’s command- 

ments, good works.” These examples will sufficiently 

explain the popular teaching of the scribes as it was 

practised in the time of Christ, 


Before a scribe could properly exercise the high 

duties of his office he had — at least in the centuries 

which immediately followed the rise of Christianity, 

and probably in the time of Christ’s public ministry 

as well — to go through some form of ordination, but 

no satisfactory record remains of the manner in which 

this sacred act was effected. The power of admitting 

a scribe among the recognized doctors of the Law 

appears to have been originally vested in the rabbi 

by whom he had been taught. Such is the teaching 

of the Jerusalem Talmud which says, ” At first every 

doctor ordained his own scholars ; for example, Rabbi 

Jochanan ben Sakai ordained Rabbi Eliezer and 

Rabbi Joshua ; Rabbi Joshua ordained Rabbi Akiba, 

and Rabbi Akiba ordained Rabbi Mair and Rabbi 

Simon.” ‘ A scribe who was publicly acknowledged 

as such by his teacher had to make himself thoroughly 

conversant with the contents of the sacred code, and 

with all those studies which were believed to throw 

light upon its interpretation. Whatever the teacher 

himself knew would unquestionably be imparted to 

his scholars, and the pages of the Talmud show that 

the rabbis did not confine their attention exclusively 


‘ Sanhedrin, i, j, C/. Bartenora and Maimonides, in ** Mischna*’ 

of Surenhusius, iv. 21 1. 






to the ethical or practical contents of the Law. Their 

field of view was much more comprehensive, and 

among many other things embraced the study of 

such subjects as mathematics, botany, medicine, and 

astronomy.^ Nor were the languages of Greece and 

Rome neglected by the scribes. Gamaliel * and many 

of his immediate successors were ardent Hellenists. 

By some of the rabbis Greek was described as a fault- 

less tongue,3 and as the only language into which the 

Law could be properly translated.4 So wartn was 

the admiration for Greek that the translation of the 

Septuagint was considered to be the result of Divine 

inspiration and in its accomplishment was seen the 

fulfilment of the prophecy that Japhet should dwell 

in the tents of Shem.^ Parents were exhorted to 

teach their daughters Greek, and it was apostrophized 

as the most beautiful language among the sons of 

men.^ In three things said the rabbis of the first 

century Greece stands superior to Rome, in laws, 

in language, and in literature. Rabbi Juda went so 

far as to say that Greek or Hebrew was the only 

language which should be spoken by the people of 

Palestine7 All these sayings go far towards estab- 

lishing the conclusion that in the time of Christ 




» J. Hamburger, ” Real-Ency.,” ii. 183. 


‘ Gemara to Sotah, ix. 14. 


3 Megilla, 9b. 


* This saying is attributed to Rabbi Simon, a son of Gamaliel, 

Jerusalem Megilla, i. 9. 


5 Philo, ” Vita Mosis,” ii. 7. MegUla, 9. 


^ C. Siegfried, ** Bedeutung und Schicksal des Hellenismus. Jahr- 

bttcher fiir Protestantische Theologie,” 1886, p. 236. 


7 J. Hamburger, Art., ** Exegese,” i. 85. 






Greek formed no unimportant part in the education 

of a scribe.^ 


One of the principles professed by the scribes was 

that the sacred duties entrusted to them should be 

performed without fee or reward. It was considered 

derogatory to the rabbinical office to look upon it as 

the means for obtaining a livelihood. ” The study of 

the Law,” said Rabbi Zadok, ” is not to be used as 

a spade to dig with.” Hillel also said that, ” Whoso- 

ever makes use of the crown (of the Law for mer- 

cenary purposes) perishes.” ^ It was accordingly a 

rule with the rabbis to combine the study of the Law 

with the exercise of some useful calling. This custom 

is exemplified in the case of St. Paul, who was a 

weaver; 3 Hillel was a hewer of wood, Rabbi Joshua 

ben Chanania was a needle maker, Rabbi Juda ben Ilai 

was a cooper, and among the other rabbis of the first 

century whose names are mentioned in the Talmud, 


‘ An entire change came over the minds of the rabbis with regard 

to the Greek language, after the terrible revolt of the Jews, which took 

place in the reign of Trajan (a.d. ii6). Eusebius, ‘* Ecclesiastical 

Ilist.,” iv. 2; Dio Cassius, Ixviii. 32; Mommsen, ** Romische 

Geschichte,” v. 542. It is after this period that we meet with such 

expressions, as ” Cursed is the man who feeds swine, and cursed is the 

man who instructs his son in Greek wisdom.” Another instance of this 

hatred of Greek is the answer given by Rabbi Ismacl, when he was 

asked if at least one hour a day ought not to be dedicated to Greek. 

He answered, “It is written, *This book of the Law shall not depart out 

of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,* and only 

such an hour should be chosen for Greek literature, when it is neither 

day nor night” (Menach, 99). C/. Siegfried, “Jahrbucher fiir Pro- 

testant ische Theologie,” 1886, 250-1. 


Bechoroth, fol. 29a ; Aboth, iv. 5. 


3 Acts xviii. 3 ; i Thess. ii. 9 ; 2 Thess. iii. 8 ; Wuusche, ** Erlau- 

terui^ der Evangelien,” 129-30. 






some were perfumers, and some bakers, and some 

tailors. ** Great is labour/’ said a rabbi, as he passed 

along with his burden, ” it honours the Lord.” ” Do 

any kind of work,” said Rabbi Akiba to his disciples, 

“even to the skinning of carcases on the highways, 

and say not as an excuse, I am a priest.” ‘ 


Though honouring labour the rabbis were at the 

same time warned against pursuing civil occupations 

to the detriment of the Law. On this question Hillel 

is stated to have put forth the dictum, ” that the man 

who gives himself up too exclusively to business shall 

not become wise.”* In this respect Hillel is in 

harmony with Jesus the son of Sirach, who says of 

the scribes, ** The wisdom of a learned man cometh 

by opportunity of leisure, and he that hath little 

business shall become wise. How can he get wisdom 

that holdeth the plough and that glorieth in the goad, 

that driveth oxen and is occupied in their labours, 

and whose talk is of bullocks. . . . But he that 

giveth his mind to the Law of the Most High and is 

occupied in the meditation thereof, will seek out 

the wisdom of all the ancient, and be occupied in 

prophecies. He will keep the sayings of the renowned 

men ; and where subtle parables are he will be there 

also” 3 It may safely be inferred from the words 

of Hillel and Ben Sirach that in many cases the 

scribe did not actively pursue the calling in which 

he had been instructed. It is also evident from the 

New Testament that among many of the scribes the 

principle of taking no reward for their services, if 


« Hamburger, ” Real-Ency., ii. Art., ” Oelehrler.” 288. 

» Aboth, ii «, 3 Ecclesiasticus xxxviii. 24, s^. 






preserved in name, was violated in reality. The 

stigma of being covetous and devourers of widows’ 

houses is fatal to the lofty pretension of disinterested- 

ness which the rabbis laid claim to, when fulfilling 

their duties as teachers and administrators of the 



In outward demeanour a scribe was expected to 

conduct himself with a circumspection and decorum 

which should place his character above the breath 

of suspicion. Six things were said to be unbecoming 

in a scribe — to walk about perfumed in public places, 

to appear in torn shoes, to go alone at night, to hold 

much converse with women in the public streets, to 

be the last to enter the house of instruction, and to 

pass his time in the society of the unlearned. A 

scribe was forbidden to take part in any meal which 

was not in accordance with the Law, and he was not 

to allow his daughter to marry any man who was 

ignorant of the Law. Where he should live, what 

kind of bed he should sleep on, what sort of table 

he should use, the cut of his garments and even the 

manner of his walk, were all subject to precise regula- 



Great deference was paid by the people to the 

scribes. Of this fact we are not without evidence 

in the New Testament, where it is said that they 

loved to receive the salutations of the people in the 

market-places and were accommodated with seats 

of honour at feasts and in the synagogues.3 Accord- 


‘ Mark xii. 40 ; Luke xvi. 14, xx. 47. 


» Hamburger, “Gelehrter,*’ ii. 285 ; Weber, “System,” 124. 


s Matt, xxiii. 6-7. 













ing to Rabbi Akiba, honour was to be paid to the 

scribe as well as to God.^ He was to be preferred 

before father and mother,^ and before prophets, 

priests, and kings. It was not permissible to address 

him without using the title rabbi. Most men ac- 

counted it a great privilege to see a famous rabbi, 

and it was no uncommon thing for zealous Israelites 

to go through a period of fasting, in the hope of 

being considered worthy of so high an honour. In 

the language of the Talmud the rabbis were the 

lamps and the shield-bearers of Israel, the princes 

of the people, the leaders of the nation and the 

fathers of the world. A rabbi was to be treated with 

the same reverence as God Himself. He was not as 

other men, and he stood in such close relationship 

to the Creator that he was able to defy the laws 

of nature and accomplish miracles. The angry glance 

of a rabbi was sufficient to bring on misery and death. 

Instances abound in which the rabbis reformed the 

wicked, healed the diseased, and raised the dead to 

life. How natural that a class which was believed 

to possess such lofty attributes, should enjoy the 

reverence of the multitude.^ 


The immense influence wielded by the scribes in 

the time of Christ was productive of many evil con- 

sequences both upon their own character and the 

religious life of the community. It led them to 

assume an exclusive right to the privilege of sitting 

in Moses* seat, or in other words of formulating the 


‘ Hamburger, ii. 289. ‘ Kcrithoth, vi. o. 


3 Weber, ‘* System der Altsynagogalen Palastinischen Theologie,** 

125-^). Hamburger, Art., *’ (Jelehrter.” 






religious beliefs and duties oi the Jewish people. So 

much was this the case, that to resist their preten- 

sions, or to regard the truths of religion from another 

point of view than theirs, was to play the part of 

an apostate and blasphemer who did not deserve 

to live. Many of them displayed a puerile craving 

for notoriety which showed itself even in the details 

of their dress. The long flowing garments in which 

they used to appear in public, and the amulets or 

phylacteries with which they ornamented the fore- 

head, were obviously designed to attract attention 

and bring their personality before the multitude. 

Whether at table, or in the streets, or in the syna- 

gogue the same spirit of ostentation manifested 

itself; and, what is worse, pride, intolerance, and 

hypocrisy, were often conspicuous elements in their 

character. In religious matters the dominant tendency 

of the scribes was to ignore ethical motives and 

ideals, and to transform religion into the observance 

of a multitude of external acts and. ceremonies. It 

is needless to enlarge upon this defect in the work 

of the scribes, for the Gospels abound in instances 

which prove that they were in the habit of sacrificing 

the substance of religion for the form, and of losing 

sight of the central principles of morality in the 

boundless expanses of casuistry. 


It would, however, be manifestly unjust to set 

down the whole body of the scribes as mere hypo- 

crites and formalists. Even the New Testament 

which paints them in no favourable light, contains 

instances to the contrary,^ and these instances are 


‘ Acts xxvi. 5 ; Phil. iii. 5. 






supplemented by information from other sources. 

The life of Hillel alone — and he must be looked 

upon as a type of many less famous scribes — is a 

sufficient refutation of the notion that all the scribes 

were men of unreal lives. Hillel was a contemporary 

of Herod the Great, and although much mythical 

imagery has gathered around his name, enough is 

known of him to make it tolerably clear that he was 

one of those humble, pure, and humane spirits who 

save the honour of the human race. According to 

tradition, Hillel was a descendant of the house of 

David, and at the age of forty came from Babylon 

to Jerusalem to dedicate himself to the study of the 

Law. After the death of his teachers, he, along 

with his rival Schammai, attained to great eminence 

among the scribes. Besides an unrivalled knowledge 

of the Law, and the traditions which first established 

his fame, he possessed a wonderfully patient, meek, 

and gentle character, and his heart overflowed with 

a mild and attractive wisdom. Some of his sayings 

rise to a high standard of moral elevation, and reveal 

a very lofty conception of religious duty. ” Be of 

the disciples of Aaron the peaceful,” said he, ” loving 

peace and pursuing peace, loving the creatures and 

bringing them nigh to the Law.” ‘ And again, “What 

thou wouldest not have done to thee do not to others ; 

this is the whole Law, all the rest is but the inter- 

pretation.” 2 Though Hillel is the most striking 

personality among the scribes after they became a 

thoroughly constituted class, other rabbis are credited 

with utterances which are in no wise inferior to his. 


» Pirke Aboth. i. 13. « Talmud Babli. Schabbath, fol. 31a. 






One of HiUel’s predecessors, Antigonus of Sochoh, is 

reported to have said, ” Be not as slaves that minister 

to the lord with a view to receive a recompence, but 

be as slaves that minister to the lord without a view 

to receive a recompence, and let the fear of God be 

upon you/’ ‘ ” Do God’s will,” said another rabbi, 

**as if it were thy will, that He may do thy will as 

if it were His will. Annul thy will before His will, 

that He may annul the will of others before thy 

will.” 2 ” Tithe not overmuch,” said Gamaliel ; 

” Practice, not study, is the chief thing,” said Simon 

his son.3 Such maxims as these, as well as many 

others which might be added to them,4 conclusively 

prove that some of the most eminent of the scribes 

had a higher conception of religion than the mere 

observance of its external forms. Yet those very 

men were unable to dissociate the religious life from 

the national and ceremonial accidents of Judaism. 

It was reserved for Christianity to show that religion 

in its highest aspects is not national but human, that 

all forms and ceremonies are at most but its tem- 

porary envelope, and that its essence consists in an 

inward disposition of the heart. 


« Pirke Aboth, i. 3. » Ibid., ii. 4. 3 ibid., i. 16-17. 


* Cf. Surenhusius, *’ Mischna,” Capita Patnim, iv. 409 ; C Taylor, 

” Sayings of the Jewish Fathers,” 1877. 






The great difficulty which has to be confronted in 

all attempts at gaining an accurate conception of the 

two Jewish parties which came into prominence in 

the time of the Maccabees, and existed together in 

a state of silent or pronounced hostility till the 

downfall of Jerusalem, consists in the dearth and 

un trustworthiness of the information we possess 

respecting them. The canonical books of the Old 

Testament posterior to the Exile make no mention 

of either Pharisees or Sadducees ; the New Testa- 

ment only refers to them in so far as they took up 

an attitude of opposition to the rise and progress of 

Christianity. Equally scanty are the materials con- 

tained in the apocryphal and non-canonical literature, 

both Jewish and Christian ; and although thcMischna’ 

and the Targums are full to overflowing of the 

Pharisaic spirit, they shed very little historical light 

on the growth of the two parties, and their true 

la, iu. 4 ; Ernbiii, vi. 3 ; 






relations to one another. What these documents do 

pretend to tell is disfigured by the conceptions of a 

later age, and for all historical purposes is almost as 

untrustworthy as the statements on the same sub- 

ject of patristic writers like Origen, Epiphanius, and 

Jerome’ Josephus, himself a Pharisee, is by far the 

weightiest authority on the two parties. But his 

assertions require to be controlled by a knowledge 






(By fermissien of tht Commiltte of Ike Palestine Expleralien Fund.) 


of the lines of development on which Jewish life 

proceeded, and also by a recognition of the fact that 

he was writing for Greek and Roman readers. This 

latter circumstance led him to present a distorted 

view of the divisions among his countrymen, and 

to find a fictitious parallel to the Sadducees and 


” Origen tontra Celsum, i. 9 (Hippolyiu^, ” Philosophumena,” 

ix. 28, ly.) ; Epiphanius, ” Haer,” xvi. i ; Jeiome, CommenUiy oa 

Malt. iji. 3;e. i;. 






Pharisees in the philosophic schools of the ancient 



Long before the names Pharisee and Sadducee 

appear in the pages of history the divergent ten- 

dencies which these two parties represented were in 

existence within the Jewish community. It has, in 

fact, been contended that the foundation of their 

differences goes back into pre-exilian times, and 

that the priests and prophets of the old Israelitish 

monarchy are the true precursors of the Sadducees 

and Pharisees.2 But the complete transformation 

which Jewish society underwent after the return from 

Babylon, not to mention other serious difficulties, is 

an almost insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of 

such a theory. On this question it is safer to regard 

the post-exilian period as an essentially new epoch 

in Jewish history, and to look for some of the causes 

which ultimately produced the Pharisees and Saddu- 

cees in the nature and structure of the new theocracy 


The central thought on which the theocracy was 

reared consisted of two parts — the utter uprooting 

of idolatrous practices ; and the establishment of 

the worship of Israel’s God in accordance with the 

precepts of the Law. The class which worked most 

strenuously for the realization of this thought was un- 

questionably the scribes. It was principally through 

their efforts that Judaism had been kept alive in the 

disastrous days of the Exile. It was they who had 


‘ Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 5-9. 10. 5, s^. ; xvii. i. 2, sg. ; ** Bell. 

Jud.,” ii. 8. 14. 


‘ Hanne, ” Die Pharisaer und Sadducaer als politische Parteien, in 

Zeitschrift fiir wissenschaftliche Theologie ” (1S67), p. 153, s^. 






collected and preserved the sacred literature of the 

race. It was they who came into practical contact 

with the people when expounding the doctrines of 

the Law ; and their experience in Babylon had no 

doubt taught them that the only way to make the 

Jews a people of the Law was to separate them and 

isolate them as completely as possible from all 

contact with surrounding nations. In this effort 

they were not thoroughly supported by the Jewish 

notables. These men were, for the most part, mem- 

bers of the high-priestly families who had survived 

the wreck of the old Jewish state, and when the 

community was re-organized in the time of Ezra and 

Nehemiah, they at once assumed the most prominent 

position within it, and formed a sort of petty aris- 

tocracy. Secular power as well as priestly privileges 

was in the hands of these notables soon after the 

establishment of the new order of things ; and 

although their civil functions were very restricted, 

the exercise of these functions brought them into 

contact both with the high officials of the Persian 

monarchy and with the heads of the neighbouring 

populations. These notables were not deliberately 

opposed to the ideal which the scribes had set before 

themselves. Up to a certain point they must have 

supported the scribes in upholding a high standard 

of reverence for the teachings of the Law, for the 

Law not only exalted their prerogatives and made 

their incomes a matter of religious obligation, but 

also elevated the high priest into the supreme 

medium of communication between God and man. 

It was their intercourse with foreign peoples which 






made them antagonistic to the separatist doctrines 

of the scribes, and they did not consider that a state 

of national isolation was necessary to the complete 

enforcement of the pentateuchal code. Two ten- 

dencies were accordingly face to face in the Persian 

period ; the scribes, the theorists, the men of study, 

were at the head of the current which wished, in the 

interests of monotheism and the Law, to preserve 

the Jews of Palestine from all contact with the outer 

world. The high priests, the men of affairs and of 

action, were less afraid of the evils which might flow 

from intercourse with the stranger, and were more 

disposed to live on a friendly footing with the nations 

among which their lot was cast’ 


In the Persian period (B.C. 586-332) these opposing 

tendencies produced a certain amount of friction 

within the community, but it was neither so constant 

nor so pronounced as to involve the formation of 

distinct and consolidated parties. But the overthrow 

of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and 

the opening up of Palestine as well as the rest of 

Western Asia to Greek colonists ^ and Greek ideas 3 

had the effect of accentuating the divergencies between 

the scribes and the notables, and eventually resulted 

in the formation of two parties within the theocracy” 

— the Hellenists arid the Assidaeans, or pious ones 

(B.C. 332-167). The Hellenists were essentially the 


» Ezra ix. 2 ; Nebem. vi. 17. Sieffert, in Heraog’s ” Real-Encyclo- 

padie,” xiii. 215 x^. ‘2 Mace. vi. 8. 


3 On the influence of the philosopher Heraclitus oh Jewish literature. 

C/. Edmund Pfleiderer, ” Die Philosophic des Heraklit von Ephesus,” 

&c., Berlin, 1886, p. 255, s^. 






same men who had in the past been resisting the 

separatist ideas of the scribes, and the Assidxans 

constituted a class within the circle of the scribes,’ 

which pushed exclusive principles to their utmost 

limits, and made the rigorous practice of the Law 

the sole aim and object of existence. The Hellenists 

were composed of the priestly aristocracy and the 

official classes, and the genius and civilization of 

Greece swept them in a short time within its folds. 

What the scribes had dreaded at length came to 

pass. Contact with the stranger was proving fatal 




to Judaism in the persons of its highest representa- 

tives. The priestly aristocracy was carried away by 

the fascinations of Greek life ; they became ashamed 

of their Jewish names,” and not only adopted the 

habits and customs of the Greeks, but their faith 

was in many cases shattered by Greek philo- 

sophy.3 The extreme section of the Hellenists was 


‘ Jewish names were at ihia period veiy ftequenlly Hellenised— Jesus 

became Jason ; Menahem. MeneUiis, &c The names of the Jewish 

towns were also similarly dealt with {Josephus, ” Ant.,” liii. 10. 4). 


^ Ecclus ix. 3, ig., xixii. 10, ig, 1 Ecides. x. 16 { 1 Mace. i. Il.iii 5 ; 






partially responsible for the Maccabaean revolt ; it 

was at their instigation that Antiochus Epiphanes 

decreed the abolition of Judaism, and set up a 

heathen form of worship in the Temple of Jeru- 

salem.^ The Assidaeans were utterly indifferent to 

politics, but this crowning act of apostasy involved 

the very existence of their faith and compelled them 

as the servants of God to take the field. As soon as 

the Syrians saw the mistake they had committed 

they restored religious liberty to the Jews, and the 

Assidaeans immediately withdrew from the contest* 

But the insurrection aroused a spirit of patriotism 

among the great body of the people, and the Macca- 

bees were supported in the conflict for complete 

independence not only by the masses, but also by 

the more moderate among the scribes and Hellenists 

as well. The Assidaeans and the apostate Hellenists 

disappeared from the scene ; but when national inde- 

pendence was at last secured, the old antagonistic 

tendencies which had been at work in the community 

for so many years began to assert themselves afresh, 

and were for the future represente 1 by the Pharisees 3 

and Sadducees. 


One of the results of the Maccabaean insurrection 

was to infuse a certain spirit of patriotism into all 

classes of the community, and to heighten the respect 


» Josephus, “Ant.,’* xii. 9. 7 ; i Mace. i. 43, s^. » i Mace vii. 12. 


3 Etymologically the word Pharisee means separated. The Pharisees 

were probably called the Separated by those who were opposed to them. 

Most likely the name arose from the fact that the Pharisees made it a 

principle to separate themselves as much as possible from the Jewish 

masses so as to avoid the risk of becoming unclean (C/, Montet, 

” Essai,” 44, s^,). 






of the whole people for the Law. Rut within the 

limits of loyalty to the Law and the new consti- 

tution there was ample room for very serious diversity 

of opinion. This diversity, although it did not 

assume the same extreme forms as had been the case 

with the Assidaeans and Hellenists, continued to run 

in the same channels as formerly, and was represented 

by a similar class of men, the Sadducees being the 

successors of the Hellenists and the Pharisees of the 

Assidaeans. The Sadducees, like their predecessors, 

were the Jewish aristocracy.^ They were partly the 

courtiers, the soldiers, the diplomatists, and other 

superior officials who had risen into prominence in the 

Maccabaean war, and partly the old high-priestly fam- 

ilies who had fallen into the background in the early 

stages of the revolt, but who came once more to the 

front under Simon Maccabaeus.^ It is highly probable 

that the Sadducees owe their party name to the old 

high-priestly aristocracy. From the time of David 

till the establishment of Maccabaean supremacy the 

high priesthood had almost always been in the hands 

of the family of Zadok. But at the close of the 

Greek period the doings of the Zadokites made them 

highly unpopular, and in the Maccabaean period a 

widespread dislike of their religious indifference, and 

of their Greek mode of life existed in the public mind. 

The same Greek tendencies however soon reappeared 

among the Maccabees and the high officials who sur- 

rounded them. The party of the scribes profoundly 

disapproved of these tendencies, and stigmatised the 




Z C( 




Ant.,” xiii. 6. 2, 10. 6; **Bell. fud.,” i. 5. 3; Psalms of 

Solomon, ii. 3-5, iv. i-io. ‘ i Mace. xiv. 28. 






men who adopted them as Zadokites or Sadducees. 

Such at least is the most probable explanation of the 

origin of the word.’ 


Just as the Sadducees inherited the characteristics 

of the Hellenists, so did the Pharisees inherit the 

essential ideas of the Assidaeans, and become for the 

future the representatives of the main current of post- 

exilian Judaism. It is, in fact, very difficult to point 

out any substantial difference between the Pharisees 

and their predecessors. On all religious questions 

they were entirely at one, and the only point on 

which any distinction can be said to have existed 

between them consisted in the fact that the Pharisees 

were not quite so indifferent to the existence of 

Judaea as an independent state as had been the case 

with the Assidaeans.* The connection between the 

Pharisees and the scribes was also remarkably close. 

Nearly all the scribes were Pharisees, and many of 

the Pharisees were scribes.3 The similarity did not, 

however, proceed so far as to make the two identical, 

and the difference between them may be best de- 

scribed by saying that the Pharisees were a party, 

while the scribes were in most respects a class. What 

makes it certain that the scribes and Pharisees are 

not to be confounded together is the existence of 


» Geiger, ** Urschrifl and Uebersetzungen der Bibel.” loi, S(j.\ 

Monlet, “Essai sur les Origines des Partis Saducden et Pharisien,” 44 

sq. ; Wellhausen, ** Die Pharisaer und die Sadducaer,” 43 sq. 


‘ They were at first on a friendly footing with the Maccabiean princes, 

and as long as these princes reigned, the Pharisees recognized them as 

the temporal heads of the nation. C/. Sieffert in Herzog, xiii. 238. 


5 Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 10. 6, xvii. 6. 2; “Bell. Jud.,” L 33. 

2-4, ii. 17. 8. 






scribes who were manifestly not Pharisees.’ These 

scribes either took up a position of neutrality with 

respect to the rival parties, or were adherents of the 

Sadducees ; for it is very improbable that the Sad- 

ducees had no one to represent them among the 

doctors of the Law. The relation between the 

Pharisees and scribes was practically the same as 

that which exists between teachers and taught. The 

Pharisees were the men who endeavoured to reduce 

the teachings and theories of the scribes to practice,^ 

and all those scribes who in addition to the written 

law also believed in the binding authority of tradition 

were Pharisees as well as scribes 


The attitude of superiority and disdain which the 

Pharisees assumed towards the great body of the 

people must have been fatal to the formation of any 

close bonds of sympathy between them.3 It is true 

the people generally supported the Pharisees in their 

conflict with the Sadducees,4 but it would be a mis- 

take to infer from this circumstance that the Pharisees 

were at the head of a popular movement. There is 

every reason to believe that the people listened to 

them with respect, though they did not always follow 

their advice, and that they admired the scrupulous, 

if ostentatious, manner in which the Pharisees fulfilled 

the innumerable and burdensome precepts of the 

Law. But in the main they appear to have looked on 

the Pharisees rather as a body of holy men, than as 

national leaders who were drawing their strength and 


‘ Mark ii. 15 ; Luke v. 30 ; Acts xxiii. 9. 


‘ Kuenen, ** National Religions and Universal Religions,*’ pp. 20S-9. 


^ Matt, xxiii. 5, j^. * ** Ant.,” xviii. r. 3, 4. 






inspiration from the great fountains of popular feeling, 

and whose hearts were beating in unison with the 

desires and aspirations of the whole community. Out 

of the entire population of Palestine the Pharisees 

only amounted to six thousand men,’ and these 

numbers conclusively prove that the Pharisaic party 

had no attractions for the great bulk of the popu- 

lation. The principles professed by the Pharisees 

were adverse to their popularity as a party, and com- 

pelled them to hold aloof from the multitude. To 

them the ordinary Jew was an unclean being, and 

they avoided him as if he were no better than a 

heathen. It was from the circle of the Pharisees that 

the contemptuous words proceeded, “This people who 

knoweth not the Law is cursed.” The Pharisees 

separated themselves from all who failed to come up 

to their standard of legal purity, and as this was 

the case with the great majority of the community, 

it followed that there was as little intercourse as 

possible between them and the vast body of the 

people. It was an article in the Pharisaic creed that 

the Jewish heathen (Am-haarez), who in their eyes 

were almost synonymous with the masses, would not 

participate in the resurrection of the dead, and it was 

regarded as better for their daughters to fall into the 

lion’s mouth than to marry them.^ That a class of 

men holding such ideas as these should be popular is 

hardly conceivable, and the history of the party 

shows that they never attained a permanent hold 

upon the people’s heart. 


‘ JosephuSt ** Ant.,” xviii. I. 3, 4. 


‘ Weber, ** System derAltsynagogal. PaliistinischenTheologie,” 42,5’^. 






The first actual rupture between the Pharisees and 

the Sadducees took place towards the end of the 

reign of John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-106). It took the 

shape on the* part of the Pharisees of an objection to 

the competence of the Maccabaean princes for the 

office of high priest’ The Pharisees did not dispute 

the right of the Maccabees to wear the crown, but they 

contended that the office of high priest was of a 

different character, and that it could only be filled by 

the legitimate representatives of a high-priestly 

family. The contention of the Pharisees was perfectly 

justified from a strictly legal point of view. It was 

notorious that the Maccabees, not being of high- 

priestly descent, had no legal title to the high priest- 

hood ; but it is probable that the Pharisees would 

have allowed this irregularity to remain in abeyance 

if the political conduct of the Maccabees had been 

more in accordance with the Pharisaic policy of 

isolating Judaea from the rest of the world. The 

Maccabees were too well aware of the precarious 

nature of Jewish independence, and of the unstable 

state of international politics, to commit themselves to 

such a perilous line of action. On the contrary, John 

Hyrcanus allowed the ideas and aims of the Pharisees 

to remain in the background,^ and devoted the 

energies of his long reign to augmenting the glory of 

the country. In this course he was supported by the 

Sadducees. But the palpably secular aspect which 


» Josephus, ” Ant.,” xiii. lo. 5-7. 


” If the traditions of the Talmud are to be relied on, Ilyrcanos did 

not neglect the interests of religion. Josephus, however, is silent on 

this subject. C/. Derenbourg, ” L’Histoire de la Palestine,” 71 ; 

Haml>urger, ** Real-Encyclojxidie fur Bibel und Talmud,” ii. 423 st/. 






the Jewish state assumed under this prince — its 

worldly diplomacy, its battles and conquests, its 

intimate relations with heathen peoples, its love and 

tolerance of foreign customs ‘ — repelled the Pharisees, 

and deeply wounded their religious susceptibilitica 

To them it was unbearable that the most sacred rites 

of public worship should be performed by men whose 

lives were spent in the council chamber or on the 

battle-field, and they set themselves to compel the 

Maccabees to renounce the high priesthood and to 

rest contented with the crown. The Sadducees 

stoutly resisted the assaults of their opponents on the 

privileges of the dynasty, and the struggle grew in 

intensity between the two parties till it finally culmi- 

nated in civil war. Hyrcanus, during his reign, was 

able to ward off this crowning misfortune, but the 

Pharisees broke out into revolt in the reign of Alex- 

ander Jannaeus (B.C. 105-79), and for many years the 

unhappy country became a prey to anarchy, blood- 

shed, and massacre.* After many vicissitudes the 

victory ultimately remained with the Sadducees, and • 

Jannaeus showed little mercy to his adversaries ; but in 

the succeeding reign of Alexandra Salome (B.C. 79-69) 

the Pharisees acquired the upper hand, and avenged 

themselves on their opponents for their miseries under 

Jannaeus.3 Qn the death of Alexandra, the Sad- 

ducees, led by her younger son Aristobulus, again 

asserted their supremacy, and the renewed rivalries of 

the two factions once more led to civil war. Both 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiii. 8. 4, 9, 2. C/. Montet, ** Essai sur les 

Origines des Partis Saduc^n et Pharisien,” p. 191, sf. 


• Josephus, ” Ant.,” xiii. 13. 5. 3 Ibid., ** Ant.,” xiii. 16. I. 






sides called in foreign help — the Pharisees the Naba* 

taeans, and the Sadducees the Romans — with the usual 

result that all power over the nation was taken from 

both. Rome, the mistress of so many peoples, now 

added Judaea to the number of her conquests and the 

political character of the conflict between the two 

parties practically came to an end (B.C. 63).’ 


Under Herod the Great the Sadducees had very 

little influence over the national fortunes, and the 

opposition which the Pharisees had so long shown 

towards their political tendencies to a great extent 

died away. Herod was not the kind of man to share 

his power with any Jewish party, and during his reign 

the Sadducees had to be contented with the exercise 

of their priestly privileges in the Temple. The high 

priesthood was in the hands of the Sadducees, and 

Herod did his best to minimize its influence by con- 

ferring it upon obscure creatures of his own, whom 

he set up and deposed at will. Of the two parties, 

however, he appears to have preferred the Sadducees. 

An evidence of this preference is seen in the consti- 

tution which the Sanhedrin assumed in Herod’s reign. 

Before his accession to the throne most of the mem- 

bars of this body were Pharisees, but after his death 

the Sadducees formed the majority. It cannot be 

doubted that Herod, who kept a watchful eye upon 

everything which was done in the country, was the 

instigator of this change. The reason of the king’s 

preference for the Sadducees consisted in the fact that 

they were at once less hostile to his supremacy, and 

more disposed to support his Hellenic tendencies than 


” Josephus, •* Ant.,” xiv, i. i, s^. 






their opponents. When Judaea was placed under the 

control of a Roman procurator, the Sadducees ac- 

quired a slight addition to their somewhat shadowy 

authority. In return they became for the most part 

the docile and devoted instruments of Caesarism. As 

they had lost all hold upon the affections of the 

people, it was Rome only which maintained them in 

a position of eminence, and it was to Rome that their 

gratitude was paid. When the revolt of the Jews 

under Vespasian deprived the Sadducees of Roman 

support, they suffered severely at the hands of their 

countrymen, and the destruction of the Jewish state 

which soon after ensued put a final termination to the 



The fate which befell the Pharisees was somewhat 

different. The mantle of their old opponents had 

fallen upon Herod, and in his efforts to permeate the 

population with Hellenistic modes of life, the hostility 

which the Pharisees had in the past vented on the 

Sadducees was now transferred to him. Even those 

Pharisees who counselled submission to Herod evi- 

dently regarded his rule in the light of a Divine 

chastisement which it became a pious duty ‘ to tole- 

rate till the vengeance of heaven was appeased. As 

a body the Pharisees not only refused to regard him 

as their legitimate ruler, but many among them were 

eager to intrigue against him whenever an oppor- 

tunity presented itself To Romanize Palestine was 

the keystone of Herod’s policy ; it was essentially the 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” XV. i. i. C/. Psalms of Solomon, xvii., xviii. 

These Psalms refer lo the period of Pompey’s conquest, but the senti- 

ments which pervade them are equally applicable to Herod’s reign. 






same process as to Hellenize it ; and in resisting the 

measures of the king, the Pharisees were simply 

resisting another and more radical form of Saddu- 

caism. It is true that the rebuilding of the Temple 

and the effective manner in which Herod was able to 

protect Jews resident abroad helped his popularity. 

At the same time, it must not be forgotten that in re- 

building the Temple the king was as much influenced 

by a Roman fashion of the time for huge architectural 

constructions as by a desire to conciliate the Phari- 

sees. Intervals of apparent harmony between Herod 

and the Pharisees occurred at certain periods of his 

long reign, but the normal attitude of both parties 

towards each other was one of ill-concealed hostility 

and distrust. The execution of some zealous Phari- 

sees for pulling down the imperial eagle which the 

king had placed over the gate of the Temple is 

merely one instance of the strained relations which 

frequently existed between them.’ 


Herod*s death, the banishment of his son Archelaus, 

and the incorporation of Judaea into the administrative 

structure of the empire brought the Pharisees into 

immediate conflict with Rome. The object of Roman 

policy was to obliterate as far as practicable the 

national peculiarities of the provincials. Such a pur- 

pose was diametrically opposed to the whole spirit of 

Pharisaism, which aimed at perpetuating and accen- 

tuating Jewish peculiarities so as to construct an 

impregnable barrier of religious custom between them- 

selves and the rest of mankind. The Roman system 

was a direct assault upon this principle, and the 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xvii. 6. 2, st^. 






Pharisees had to begin again with Rome the same 

battle as they had formerly fought with the Sadducees 

and Herod The teaching of the Pharisees on the 

subject of Roman supremacy was understood by the 

masses and by many of their own followers as an 

incitement to rebellion. The rise of the Zealots 

was the direct result of it, and Sadduk, one of the 

originators of this new party, was himself a Pharisee.’ 

The Zealots were simply the fighting wing of the 

Pharisaic party, for they held no principle which dis- 

tinguished them from the body out of which they had 

sprung, except a profound belief that the yoke of 

Rome must be shaken off by force of arms. In the 

hopeless effort to withdraw themselves from the im- 

mense imperial machine which held the ancient world 

in its grasp, the Zealot section of the Pharisees was 

practically exterminated. With the fall of Judaea as 

an organized community, the other section gave up 

the attempt to realize their aims by political action. 

They henceforth devoted themselves to codifying the 

vast accumulation of unwritten law which had grown 

up in the course of centuries. It was on the precepts 

of this code, which they now committed to writing, 

that they relied as a means for keeping the Jews 

apart from the rest of the world, and up to the 

present day they have not relied on it in vain. 


From the political differences which separated the 

Sadducees and Pharisees, we shall now pass to an 

examination of the controversies which arose among 

them on the question of Judaism itself. The first 

and most important point on which the two parties 


* Josephus, •* Ant.,” xviii. i. i. 






were divided was the standard of faith. According 

to the doctrines of the Pharisees the oral,^ as well as 

the written Law, was the ultimate rule by which every 

faithful Jew should regulate his belief and life. The 

theor}’ that the Law was intended to be applicable to 

the whole course of human existence, down even to 

its smallest details, compelled the Pharisees to sup- 

plement the silence of the written Law, or its meagre 

and general statements, by the traditions of the elders. 

And in order to gain acceptance for these traditions, 

and to place them on an equality with the written 

Law, they were obliged to refer their origin to Moses, 

who was asserted to have received them from God.^ 

The Sadducees, on the other hand, maintained that 

the oral Law possessed no binding force whatever, and 

that the only rule of faith for the descendants of 

Abraham was the written canonical code, or, in other 

terms, the laws which are contained in the Penta- 

teuch.3 Some of the Fathers of the Church are of 

opinion that the Sadducees not only rejected oral 

tradition, but that they rejected the prophetical books 

of the Old Testament as well.4 It is impossible to 


* The words of the wise (the traditions) are dearer to me, said a 

rabbi, than the Law itself. C/. Aboda Sara, Ewald’s edition, p. 244. 

This saying is typical of the reverence of the Pharisees for tradition. 

Cf. Weber, ** System,” &c., 96, s^. 


^ Moses received the Law from Sinai, and transmitted it to Joshua ; 

Joshua transmitted it to the prophets, the prophets to the elders, the 

elders to the men of the Great Synagogue (Pi rke Aboth, i. i). According 

to Leusden (Surenhusius, *’Mischna,” iv. 409) the word Law here means, 

**Lcx quae in scripto est et lex quae in ore est.” 


3 Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. la 6; xviii. i. 4. 


* Oi fAovov Si MoMT^u/f wapaSexifJtivoi rag BipXottg SaiAapetg if Sa^- 

SovKaloL Origen, against Celsus, i. 19. Compare also Origen’s Com- 

mentary on Matt. xxii. 29, s^,, and Jerome’s Commentary ou the same 




















offer a direct refutation of this opinion, but at the 

same time there is nothing to support it in the litera- 

ture which was contemporaneous with the activity of 

the two parties. And as the Jews themselves very 

soon forgot the distinctive characteristics of the 

Sadducees, it is not likely that they would be better 

remembered by Christian writers. On the whole, it 

is more probable that the Sadducees accepted all 

those books of the Hebrew Bible which were admitted 

into the canon, but refused to be bound by anything 

outside of them. 


What were the grounds on which the Sadducees 

refused to acknowledge the authority of oral tradition ? 

In the first place, because the written Law alone was 

the old orthodox standard of Judaism, and an aristo- 

cracy has always been inclined to hold fast by the 

established customs and institutions of the country. 

Other considerations besides the sanction of antiquity 

also affected their judgment. The traditions of the 

elders were, in many cases, opposed to the view of 

life which was entertained by the Sadducees. A 

rigorism and an austerity were enjoined in them 

which must have been obnoxious to men whose 

career lay in the profession of arms ; and the laws 

restricting intercourse with the foreigner were not 

likely to be popular with statesmen who knew that 

the continued independence of Judaea rested, to a 

large extent, on the skilful management of external 

affairs. Not only were the Sadducees opposed to the 

principle and the contents of tradition in themselves, 

they were also hostile to them because of the addi- 

tional power which tradition placed in the hands of 






their opponents. A knowledge of the laws of tra- 

dition was mainly confined to Pharisaic circles. It 

was accordingly to the Pharisees that the people 

were obliged to have recourse on all perplexing 

points of faith and practice. Such a state of things 

the Sadducees could not regard with indifference. 

Whatever increased the influence of the Pharisees 

diminished their own, and to admit the law of tra- 

dition as of Divine obligation would have meant the 

handing over to the Pharisees of the supreme direction 

of affairs. 


The fundamental difference which existed between 

the Pharisees and Sadducees concerning the accept- 

ance or rejection of oral tradition as an absolute 

standard of belief necessarily led to controversy on 

other subjects connected with the Law. In certain 

purely civil matters the Pharisees were at variance 

with their opponents, as, for example, on the law of 

inheritance and the laws relating to damage.’ The 

penal code was also a subject of dispute. By the use 

of traditional interpretations, the Pharisees strove in 

the main to mitigate the severity of the more rigorous 

statutes of the Pentateuch.^ The Sadducees, on the 

other hand, faithful to their principle of adhering to 

the written Law only, were determined to apply these 

statutes in a literal sense. Differences likewise existed 

between the two parties as to the proper time and 

manner of celebrating some of the principal Jewish 

festivals, such as the day of Pentecost and the Feast 




* Baba Bathra, 115b ; Jaclajim, iv. 7. 


“* “Ant.,” xiii. 10. 6, xx. 9. i ; r/”. Montet, ** Essai,” 242, s^. 






of Tabernacles.* Puerile evasions were resorted to by 

the Pharisees to overcome the limits attached by the 

Law to a sabbath day’s journey; the Sadducees would 

have none of it, and stuck to the original signification 

of the statute. In burning the ashes of the red heifer, 

the Sadducees, contrary to their general tendencies, 

but probably in the interests of the priesthood, re- 

quired of the officiating priest the highest possible 

degree of legal purity.^ On this point the Pharisees 

were comparatively indififerent, but were in their turn 

full of zeal for the scrupulous purification of the 

vessels used in the service of the sanctuary— a zeal 

which caused the Sadducees to remark mockingly 

that the Pharisees would cleanse the sun.3 The atti- 

tude of the disputants in these controversies shows 

that the general bent of the Sadducees was towards 

an obstinate adherence to the strict letter of the Law, 

while the Pharisees aimed more at modifying it to 

suit the altering requirements of the times. This, 

however, was not always the case. In many instances 

no question of principle was involved on either side, 

and the chief outcome of these disputes was to be 

found in a luxuriant display of scholastic subtleties. 


In the domain of religious dogma a profound diver- 

sity of opinion separated the two Jewish parties. The 

most important diflference between them arose on the 

doctrine of the resurrection. According to Josephus,4 

the Pharisees believed that ” souls are of immortal 




* Graetr, ** Geschichte der Juden,” iii. 653; Derenbourg, ** Ilistoire 

de la Palestine,” 141-44. 


Numb. xix. I, st/. ; Parah, iii. 7. 3 Chajjifja, iii. 8. 


^ Josephus, “Ant.,” xviii. i. 3 ; (/. ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 14. 






Vigour, and that there will be rewards or punishments 

under the earth to those who in this life have devoted 

themselves to virtue or to vice ; the latter will be 

shut up in an everlasting prison, the former will have 

the power of coming back to life.” From this passage 

of Josephus it is evident that the prophet Daniel is 

giving expression to the Pharisaic conception of the 

resurrection when he says, ” And many of them that 

sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to 

everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting 

contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the 

brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many 

to righteousness as the stars for ever and for ever.” ^ 

On the other hand, both the New Testament ^ and 

Josephus are at one in asserting that the Sadducees 

denied the doctrine of the resurrection. In fact, 

Josephus says that the Sadducees did not believe in 

a future life at all. ” The souls die with the bodies,” 

and there are neither rewards nor punishments in the 

under-world.3 In this respect the Sadducees were in 

harmony with the old Hebrew view concerning the 

state of the dead ; for the dim, sad, and shadowy 

existence of the departed in Scheol was not worthy 

the name of immortality.4 The Sadducees contended 

that the Law was silent on the resurrection, and their 

position may be summed up in the celebrated maxim 

of Antigonus of Sochoh, ” Be not as slaves that 

minister to the lord with a view to receive recom- 


* Dan. xii. 2-3, 


‘ Matt. xxii. 23 ; Mark xii. 18 ; Luke xv. 27 ; Acts iv. 2, xxiii. 8. 

3 Josephus, •• Ant.,” xviii. 1.4; ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 14. 


* C/. Piepenbring, “Theologie de I’Ancien Testament,” 232, sq. 






pence ; but be as slaves that minister to the lord 

without a view to receive recompence, and let the 

fear of Heaven be upon you.” ‘ 


Belief in the existence of angels and evil spirits — a 

subject closely related to the doctrine of the resur- 

rection — was also a matter of dispute between the 

Pharisees and Sadducees. In the centuries posterior 

to the Exile, a belief in this doctrine steadily developed 

into a general conviction among the Jewish masses.^ 

It was adopted and upheld by the Pharisees, but the 

Sadducees opposed its Traces of this doctrine are 

to be found both in the historical and prophetical 

books of the Old Testament,4 but it occupied a very 

insignificant and subordinate place in old Hebrew 

theology, and no doubt the reason why the Sadducees 

rejected it is to be found in the immense proportions 

which the belief assumed in Maccabaean and New 

Testament times. 


On the perplexing problems of Divine Providence 

and the freedom of the will, there was likewise a 

conflict of opinion between the Pharisees and Sad- 

ducees. How far the differences between them ex- 

tended it is very difficult to say. Josephus is our 

chief witness, but his testimony is so completely 

Greek in form, and, in some particulars, so alien to 

Jewish habits of thought,5 that it cannot be accepted 


* Taylor, ” Sayings of the Jewish Fathers,” 27. 


Kuenen, ** Religion of Israel,” iii. 145. ‘ Acts xxiii. 8. 


^ C/.J. Langen, **Das Judenthum in Palastina zur Zeit Christi,” 297, 

jy.; Piepenbring, **Theologie de I’Ancien Testament,” 224, s^. 


5 Josephus’ word Ufiapfiiut} (fate, destiny) does not represent any 

corresponding idea in the religious vocabulary of the Jews. (JosephoSy 

” BelL Jud.,” ii. 8. 14.) 






without modifications. The Pharisees, he relates, say 

that ” certain things, but not all, are the work of Fate ; 

and that other things are in our own power to be or 

not to be. The Sadducees, on the other hand, take 

away Fate, holding that it is a thing of nought, and 

that human affairs do not depend upon it ; but they 

place all things in our own power, so that we are the 

authors of our own good, and receive evils through 

our own inconsideration.” » The Jews knew nothing 

of Fate as it is here described by Josephus, but if by 

Fate we are to understand Divine Providence, and 

then make a comparison of these and other state- 

ments of the historian with the Old Testament and 

the Psalms of Solomon, it will be found that the 

differences of the two Jewish parties on these myste- 

rious matters were not of a fundamental character. 

The Old Testament was the standard of faith with 

the Sadducees, and one of its fundamental ideas is 

the influence of Providence on human affairs.^ It 

cannot be supposed that the Sadducees departed 

from the teaching of their own creed in one of its 

most essential particulars, and the contention of Jose- 

phus therefore loses the greater part of its meaning. 

On the other hand, the Pharisees did not deny free 

will. On this point the Pharisaic doctrine of works is 

in complete harmony with Josephus and the P.salms 

of Solomon. ” Our actions depend upon our own will,” 

says this Psalmist, ” and the power of the soul to work 

righteousness or iniquity is in our own hands.” ^ 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xiii. 5. 9 ; (/. xviii. 3. 4 ; ** Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 14. 

‘ Piepenbring, “Th^ologie de TAncien Testament,” 116, sq. 

3 Psalms of Solomon, ix. 7. 






Both parties adhered to the doctrines of Providence 

and of free will ; the true nature of the dispute between 

them was evidently one of degree and not of kind. 

The Pharisees, while admitting the existence of free 

will, laid greatest stress on the action of Providence ; 

the Sadducees, on the other hand, did not deny the 

overJTiling power of Providence, but their bent of 

mind led them, at the same time, to give unbounded 

scope to the supremacy of the will. Just as the 

Psalms of Solomon represent the views of the Phari- 

sees on these insoluble mysteries, so does the Book of 

Ecclesiasticus,’ in the following pa.ssage, give expres- 

sion to the sentiments of the Sadducees : ” When at 

the beginning He (God) created man. He left him to 

the counsel of his own will. If thou wilt thou canst 

keep His’ commandments, and to continue faithful 

depends on thy good pleasure. He hath set fire and 

water before thee, thou canst stretch forth thy hand 

unto whither thou wilt” 


‘ Ecclus. XV. 14, s^. 






At the time the Pharisees and Sadducees were 

in conflict with one another as to the correct inter- 

pretation of the Law, a body of Jewish devotees were 

endeavouring to realize its precepts in their daily life. 

This body became known as the Essenes, In con- 

trast to the Pharisees and Sadducees the Essenes were 

not a party, but a religious order, founded upon com- 

munistic principles, and subject to ascetic rules of 

life. Finding it impossible to reduce their distinctive 

ideas to practice in the heart of the community, the 

Essenes withdrew themselves from the civil and 

political life of Palestine, and in the time of Christ 

they were to be found, to the number of about four 

thousand, living for the most part in monasteries, 

under a monastic code of discipline.’ 


The Essenes are first referred to during the Macca- 


b^an war {circa B.C. 150).” But some writers have 


attempted to find the germs out of which the order 


‘ Josephus, ” Anl.,” xviii. 1.5. ” Ibid., “Ant.,” xvii. 5. 9. 











was ultimately developed at an early period in Jewish 

history.* The Rechabites, mentioned as early as the 

ninth century before Christ, and who apparently con- 

tinued to exist as an independent religious community 

up to the final destruction of Jerusalem,^ have been 

pointed to as the precursors of Essenism. The 

Rechabites were nomadic in their habits, the Essenes 

were agriculturists, but in some other respects there 

was a certain resemblance between them. Both com- 

munities were ascetic, and both inhabited the same 

desert oasis on the western shores of the Dead Sea. 

But in spite of these similarities, it is not easy to 

establish a clear link of continuity between the two 

organizations; and while admitting the hypothesis 

that the Essenes may have sprung from the Recha- 

bites, it is, on the whole, a safer historic method to 

regard the return from Babylon as a fresh starting- 

point in Jewish life, and to look for the origin of the 

Essenes in the tendencies of post-exilian Judaism. 


The most marked and characteristic of these post- 

exilian tendencies consisted in an ever-increasin<y 

desire to live up to the highest possible standard of 

legal purity. The Pharisees, as has already been seen, 

exhibited strong manifestations of this tendency, but 

it was reserved for the Essenes to carry it to the 

extremest lengths. With them the dread of catching 

uncleanness assumed such extravagant proportions as 

to render almost all social intercourse impossible be- 

tween them and their fellow men. Defilement might 


* Hilgenfeld, »* Ketzergeschichte des Urchristenthums,” 100, j^. ; 

** Judenthum und Judenchristenthum,” 26, j^. 

« I Chron. ii. 55 ; Jer. xxxv. ; Eusebius, ** Hist.,”ii. 23. 






be produced in such a variety of ways by mingling 

with the multitude, that the Essenes were constrained 

to separate themselves entirely from the body politic, 

and to adopt a form of life and discipline which would 

enable them to gratify their aspirations after a mode 

of existence more thoroughly in accordance with the 

most stringent requirements of the Law. It is hardly 

likely, however, that the Essenes at the beginning, 

adopted the practical measures involved in the princi- 

ples which they professed. The probability is, that 

the absolute need of withdrawing themselves from 

the main stream of national life forced itself upon 

them by degrees, whilst they were vainly attempting 

to reach their religious aims in the midst of the com- 

munity. Step by step the Essenes retreated from 

the social and civic life around them. In the earliest 

references to them they are represented as occupying 

posts of influence and honour at the Temple and the 

royal court. But residence at Jerusalem was incom- 

patible with due observance of the highest legal 

obligations, and the Essenes took another step and 

retired to the towns and villages of Palestine, But 

even there it was impossible to avoid the chances of 

contamination from the unclean world, and many 

sought a last refuge from the rest of humanity in the 

desert solitudes of Engadi, on the shores of the Dead 

Sea.* Here, probably in the time of Christ, the 

greater part of the Essenes lived in peaceful seclusion, 

subsisting entirely on the daily labour of their hands, 

and constituting an idyllic little world of their own.^ 


* Josephus, ** Bell. Jud.,” i. 3. 5 ; ii. 7. 3 ; v. 4. 2 ; ** Ant.,” xiii. ii. 

2 : Pliny, v. 17. » Unci., ” Hist. Nat.,” v. 17. 






How the Essenes came to be called by that name has 

long been a source of perplexity to scholars, and its 

meaning still remains shrouded in obscurity. Many 

ingenious attempts have been made to explain its 

origin, but none of them has met with a consensus of 

opinion sufficiently weighty and unanimous to justify 

its acceptance. The word has been variously inter- 

preted to mean, the healers, the watchers, the doers, 

the baptists, the silent, the pious ; ‘ and recently an old 

conjecture has been revived to the effect that the 

Essenes derived their name from a place called Essa, 

on the western side of the Dead Sea, a spot where 

the community used to live.^ The last-mentioned 

explanation has the merit of being a very obvious 

one, and is not to be lightly cast aside. Still it is 

equally reasonable to suppose that the Essenes, like 

the Pharisees and Sadducees, received their name 

from the most distinctive characteristic, which they 

displayed. In the eyes of the world the most marked 

feature of Essenism was the strenuous piety of its 

adherents. The Syriac for ” pious ” bore a close resem- 

blance to the word Essene, and as Syriac was the 

language in ordinary use among the Palestinian Jews 

in the time of Christ, it is very probable that the wide- 

spread reputation of the order for piety caused them 

to be known as the Essenes or pious ones.^ Even 

this explanation of the name is not altogether free 

from difficulties, but it has been accepted by many 


» Keim, “Jesus of Nazara,” i. 367 (Eng. trans.). 


* Josephus, ** Ant,” xiii. 15. 3 ; Hilgenfeld, *’ Judenthum und Juden- 

christenthunit” 26, st/. ; Hilgenfeld here adopts the hypothesi-i of 

Snlniasius. 3 Ewald, ” Geschichte des Volks Israel,” iv. 484. 






competent and distinguished scholars, and among 

probable meanings it appears the most probable. 


The same morbid craving for purity which drove 

the Essenes into the wilderness, re-appeared in the 

internal organization of the community. There were 

four different degrees of membership,’ and for a 

member of a higher stage to come into contact with 

one in a lower, resulted in his being immediately de- 

filed. The three years* probation which every candi- 

date for admission into the order had to pass through 

was also instituted with a view to preserve the utmost 

possible purity within the society. As soon as any 

one signified his wish to join the community, he re- 

ceived a hatchet, a girdle, and a white garment, and 

to test his constancy he had for one year to submit 

himself to the same mode of life as was adopted by 

the Essenes. At the end of the first year’s probation 

the novice was advanced a step ; he was cleansed with 

the water of purification, and admitted to the common 

worship of the society. For two more years he re- 

mained in this stage. If the candidate at the close 

of that period was considered to have acquitted him- 

self satisfactorily, he was admitted to the hallowed 

midday meal, and initiated into ail the mysteries of 

Essenism. But before this final act of initiation was 

effected, the novice had once for all to take a tremen- 

dous oath. By this oath he solemnly bound himself 

to obey all those who exercised authority in the 

society, and to act with justice and modesty if at any 

time he were elected to a similar position of power. 

The conditions of the oath also pledged him to con- 


« Josephus ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. la 






ceal nothing from his fellow members, and never to 

reveal the Essene doctrine to the outer world. He 

also promised under the oath to preserve the names ‘ 

of the angels, and the sacred books of the order ; also 

to hand down to future adherents all Essene teaching 

in its undiluted purity. Besides these regulations 

affecting the welfare of the order which the newly- 

admitted Essene solemnly swore to keep, the oath of 

initiation included matters of a purely moral and 

religious nature. The Essene, in all the affairs of 

life, was bound by his oath to be a constant lover of 

truth and reprover of falsehood ; he was not to pollute 

his hands with dishonest gain ; he was to abstain 

from inflicting injury upon any one, and to detest 

those who did ; but, above all, he was to show piety 

towards God and justice towards men.^ 


The leadership of the community and the manage- 

ment of its affairs were entrusted to a small body of 

men elected by the members from among themselves. 

These officials were called directors or administrators,3 

and strict obedience to their commands was one of 

the regulations of the society. The powers of the 

directors were very extensive, but they were not per- 

mitted to expel Essene offenders from the order. For 

this purpose a tribunal, composed of at least a hun- 

dred men, had to be convened. A decree of expul- 


” Dass Judenthum dieser Zeit in dem Namen stets eine tiefe und 

mystische Bedeutung siicht, wenn es zwischen gleichen oder gleichwer- 

thigen Namen einen inneren Zusammenhang vermuthet oder eine 

Voraussagung des Schicksals oder eine Andeutung des Characters in 

dem selben entdecken will ” (Hausrath, ‘* Neutestamentliche Zeitges- 

chichte,” i. 113, x^.). 


• josephus, *» Bell. Jud.,*’ ii. 8. 7. 3 Ibid., ii. 8. 3, 4, 6 






sion was in many cases equivalent to a sentence of 

death. So strong was the hold which the practices of 

the commuuity had obtained upon all who joined it, 

that even Essenes who had been cast out of the order 

by the supreme council were in many instances con- 

tent to perish rather than partake of food prepared 

by other than Essene hands. Sometimes when a poor 

wretch who had been expelled was reduced to the 

last extremities, the order would take compassion 

upon him and receive him back. But as a rule, when 

a sentence of expulsion had once been passed, it was 

looked upon as irrevocable.^ » 


The principles of the Essene organization were 

absolutely communistic ; no one had any private 

possessions, and the property of the order was the 

common property of all. ” They despise riches,” says 

Josephus, ” and the community of goods among them 

is wonderful ; and no one can be found among them 

who possesses more than another. For it is a law 

among them that those who enter the order give up 

their property to the community, so that neither ab- 

ject poverty nor excessive wealth is anywhere to be 

seen. The property of each is added to the property 

of all, and one common stock exists for all as 

brethren.” 2 The communistic life of the Essenes 

put a stop to buying, selling, barter, competition, and 

all the ordinary customs of trade : it meant, in fact, 

the abolition of trade. ” They neither buy nor sell 

anything to one another,” Josephus continues, “but 

each one gives to the other what he needs, and re- 

ceives in turn what he requires. And though offering 


» Josephus, *’ Bell. Ju<l ,” viii. 8, sr/. ‘ Ibid.,** Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 3. 






no equivalent at all, they may have without hindrance 

whatever they require.^ 


Agriculture was the chief occupation of the Essene 

communities.^ The members of the order did not 

waste their lives in idle and fruitless contemplation, 

but always awoke before sunrise to begin the labours 

of the day. The first words of the Essenes in the 

morning were addressed to God, and not until their 

devotions were over did the brethren enter into con- 

versation with one another. Their daily duties were 

laid down for them by the administrators of the com- 

munity, and work was continued with the utmost 

diligence from early morning till eleven o’clock. At 

that hour preparations were made for the midday 

meal, the most solemn function of the day. Then 

every Essene, on returning from the fields, took off 

his rough working garments, and after taking a puri- 

fying bath of cold water, arrayed himself in white 

apparel, and entered the dining-hall of the order with 

the same solemnity as if it were the house of God. 

Here a simple meal, consisting of only one dish, was 

placed before every member of the order, and both 

before and after the repast grace was said by the pre- 

siding priest.3 When all had left the table, the white 

garments were laid aside, and the work of the day 

resumed till evening. Strangers were permitted to 

sit down with the Essenes at their evening meal, 

which appears to have been more of a social character 

than the one at midday. 


The frugal simplicity of their daily fare is an 


« Josephus, *• Bell. Jud ,” ii. 8. 4. » Ibid., “Ant.,” xviii. i. 5. 


3 Ibid,/* Bell. Jud.’,” ii 8. 5. 






/example of the austere and simple habits which 

marked the whole life of the Essenes. It is related 

of them that they wore their clothing till it was com- 

pletely worthless.” It is not certain that they ab- 

stained from the use of flesh and wine* but they 

undoubtedly discarded the use of ointment, and 

believed that a rough exterior possessed a kind of 

virtue in itself On days of penitence and fasting, 

and on the great Day of Atonement, the Jews did not 

anoint themselves ; the Essenes elevated these excep- 

tions into a rule, and allowed simplicity of life to 

degenerate into mere asceticism. 3 Except on the 

solitary occasion of their admission into the order, 

the Essenes never emphasized their assertions by an 

oath. He who cannot be believed, say they, without 

calling God to witness, is already condemned.4 They 

had a curious rule which forbade them to spit except 

in certain directions.s On the Sabbath day it was 

forbidden to discharge the excretions of the body, and 

on other days this natural function involved unclean- 

ncss, and had a certain stigma attached to it The 

Sabbath was much more strictly observed by the 

Essenes than by any other section of the Jews. No 

fires were to be lighted on that day ; all food had to 

be prepared the day before, and the day was kept as 

one of complete cessation from all kinds of work.^ 


» Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 4. 


^ Lucius, ** Der Essenismus in seinem Verhaltniss zum Judenthum,*’ 

56, q^ 


3 Josephus, “Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 3 ; ^. 2 Sam. xii. 20, xiv. 2 ; Dan. 

X. 3 ; Matt. vi. 17 


Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” viii. 6. s Ibid., •• Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 9. 


Ibid.. *’Bell. Jud.,”viii. 9. 






On the subject of marriage the majority of the 

Essenes held decidedly ascetic views. Like all 

Orientals, they formed a very low estimate of women, 

believing them to be at once faithless to their hus- 

bands, and the enemies of domestic peace. Even 

those who did not adopt the celibate views of the 

majority looked upon marriage as a kind of necessary 

evil which had to be endured for the sake of per- 

petuating the race. This was regarded by the non- 

celibate Essenes as the highest and only object of the 

married state, and when they entered into the bonds 

of wedlock it was only with those women who were 

considered jikely to have posterity.’ To prevent the 

order from dying out it was a practice among the 

Essenes to adopt children and educate them in the 

principles of the community. It is difficult to say 

from what quarter the Essenes derived their antipathy 

to marriage. It is possibly a plant of foreign growth 

which found its way among them, but it may just as 

easily have arisen out of certain Jewish customs re- 

lating to purity.* To regard marriage as a hindrance 

to piety was undoubtedly to go beyond a truly Jewish 

view of life. At the same time, the roots of this view 

are to be found in Judaism itself 


On most questions of a theological character the 

Essenes did not differ materially from the Pharisees. 

In their synagogues the service was probably con- 

ducted after the manner of the Jews.3 The Sabbath 


* Josephus, *’Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 2, 13; ” Ant.,” xviii. 1.5: Pliny, 

“Hist. Nat.,”v. 17. 


> Exod. xix. 15 ; Lev. xv. 16 ; Enoch Ixxxiii. 2, Ixxxv. 3 ; Josephus, 

” Apion,” ii. 24. 


3 Philo (?), **Quod Omnis Probus Liber,” xu. 






day was observed with extraordinary rigour, and 

Moses was so highly honoured among them as a 

legislator that it was accounted worthy of death to 

blaspheme his name. In fact, Moses occupied among 

the Essenes a position only inferior to God Himself’ 

Unfortunately a good deal of obscurity surrounds the 

point as to what books were in use among the Essenes. 

The reverence paid to the memory of Moses places it 

beyond doubt that the canonical books of the Old 

Testament were just as sacred to the Essenes as to the 




(By pti mission c/ Iht Commillee of iht PaUstim Exflsratien Fund.) 


scribes and Pharisees. But it is not at all clear that’ were the only books considered as sacred by the 

community. Joscphus expresses himself with unusual 

vagueness on this matter, but it is probable that his 

reference to the holy books of the society is meant to 

include other writings besides the canonical Scriptures.” 

Some have even ventured to name such productions 

as the Book of Noah and the Book of Jubilees as of 


Josephus. ” Btll. Jud.,” ii. 8. 9. ‘ Ibid., ‘• Bell. Jmi ,” ii. 8. 6. 






Essene origin, but so far entirely without reason.* If 

the Essenes did possess sacred books of their own, in 

all likelihood they have perished. 


The Essenes in popular estimation were believed to 

possess a wonderful knowledge of God’s future inten- 

tions with regard to men. This knowledge was looked 

upon as the outcome of their profound study of Holy 

Writ, and of the intimate relationship which their 

ascetic practices enabled them to maintain with God. 

Several remarkable instances are mentioned by Jose- 

phus of Essene predictions. Judas the Essene he 

relates foretold in the days of Maccabaean supremacy, 

that Antigonus, a brother of King Aristobulus, should 

suddenly meet his death at Stratons Tower. This 

prediction was literally fulfilled.^ Later on, Menahem 

another Essene prophesied of Herod while yet a boy, 

that he should one day obtain the crown. He after- 

wards predicted that the new king should reign over 

the people for many years. Both of these predictions 

came to pass.3 Besides being adepts at prophecy, the 

Essenes were likewise credited with a kindred gift — 

an admirable skill in the interpretation of dreams. 

Among the Jews, dreams are sometimes spoken of as 

mere phantasms and delusions of the mind in a state 

of sleep ; 4 as a rule, however, they were regarded as 

silent intimations of the Divine will, and one of the 

methods by which God revealed His purposes to men.S 


‘ Langen, ” Das Judenthum in Palastina zur Zeit Christi,’* 85, s^. 


• Joscphus, ” Ant.,” xii. 11. 2. 3 Ibid.,*’ Ant.,” xv. 10. 5. 


* Isa. xxix. 7-8 ; Eccles. v. 7 ; Ecclus. xxxiv. i, si/.; Jude 8. 


5 Gen. xxxi. 10, sy. et passim ; Dan. i. 17, et passim ; cf. Acts xvL 

9, xviiL 9, &C. 






How successful the Essenes were in unravelling the 

mysterious meaning of these intimations is attested by 

the wonderful manner in which Simon, a member of the 

order, interpreted a dream of Herod’s son Archelaus. 

This prince dreamt that he saw nine full ears of corn 

devoured by oxen. The meaning of the dream was 

a puzzle to the diviners who were called upon to in- 

terpret it, just as Pharaoh’s dreams baffled the skill 

of the Egyptian soothsayers. Simon, like another 

Joseph, told Archelaus that the nine ears of corn de- 

noted nine years, and the oxen which devoured them 

denoted a mutation of affairs. The interpretation was 

that Archelaus should reign as many years as there 

were ears of corn, and after passing through several 

vicissitudes of fortune should die. Archelaus had 

already reigned the allotted time, and five days after 

his dream was interpreted, he was summoned to 

Rome by the emperor, and- banished to Gaul where 

he ultimately died.^ 


In addition to their reputed powers as prophets and 

interpreters of dreams, the Essenes were also held in 

high estimation as medicine men. Among the Jews of 

the time of Christ most diseases were looked upon either 

as the work of evil spirits, or as punishments inflicted 

upon men by the immediate decree of an offended 

God. The prevalence of such opinions at once pre- 

cluded any inquiry into the natural causes of disease, 

and prevented the acquirement of any rational or 

scientific system of remedy. Of the two beliefs 

respecting the origin of diseases the older was the one 

which attributed them to God alone ; it was the 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.” xvii. 13. 3 ; ‘* Be.l. Jud.,” vii. 7. 3. 






influence of Persian ideas after the Exile which led the 

Jews to imagine that diseases were inflicted upon them 

by the malignity of evil spirits.’ When God was 

.accounted to be the cause of a disease, the sick man 

was of opinion that he had done something to arouse 

the Divine wrath, and that his ailments were the punish- 

ment of the offence. In these circumstances the 

surest and most obvious method of attaining restora- 

tion to health lay in appeasing the resentment of God. 

This was best effected not by the use of medicine, but 

by resorting to the appointed ordinances of sacrifice 

and prayer. Medicine, it is true, was not altogether 

discarded, but it occupied a very secondary place as a 

means of cure, and to rely upon it alone was to incur 

the odium of impiety.* As a matter of fact the 

remedies in use among the people, and the roots and 

medicinal stones which the Essenes collected, were 

often calculated to do more harm than good, and 

there is much justification for the irony of the son ot 

Sirach when he says, ” He that sinneth before his 

Maker let him fall into the hand of the physician.” 3 


Bat the main tendency of Jewish thought in the 

time of Christ was to attribute diseases to the machina- 

tions of the powers of evil. At the head of this malig- 

nant host stood Satan, the prince of the world, and 

he was surrounded by a multitude of inferior spirits. 

Many of these demons were believed to be the souls ot 

the dead who roamed through the air haunting tombs 

and desert places in a disembodied form.4 The ghosts 


* Exod. XV. 26 ; Schenkel, “Bibel-Lexikon,” Hi. 584. 


‘ 2 Chron. xvi. 12. ‘ ^ Ecclus. xxxviii. 15. 


* Tobit viii. 3 ; Matt. xii. 43 ; Eph. ii. 2 ; ” Bell. Jud.,” vii. 6. 3, 






of the giants who lived in antediluvian times, the 

ghosts of the builders of the tower of Babel, and the 

ghosts of those multitudes who perished at the Flood 

were all numbered among the evil spirits which 

brought diseases and death on men. And the spirits 

of the wicked became demons after death.’ These 

demons entered the human body by the nostrils, being 

presumably inhaled with the breath ; they produced 

dumbness, lameness, madness, blindness, epilepsy, and 

indeed every ailment of which there was the least 

doubt about the origin.* Once a demon had taken 

possession of a man the ordinary manner of getting 

him expelled was by resorting to the mysterious 

processes of exorcism. The Jews had a wide reputa- 

tion throughout the Roman Empire as exorcists ; 3 

the rabbis practised exorcism in Palestine, and there 

can be little doubt that the Essenes made use of it as 

well.4 The spells and incantations on which the exor- 

cists relied were believed to have been handed down 

by such men as Noah, David, and Solomon, who in 

turn were supposed to have learned them from the 

angels.5 Several instances are on record of the manner 

in which exorcism was performed. Tobit’s wife, we 

are told, was vexed by a wicked spirit which had 

already caused the death of seven men who had pre- 

viously married her. But Tobit was instructed by 

the angel Raphael how to exorcise this malignant 


‘ Enoch XV. 8 ; cf. Gen. i. 6 ; Justin Martyr, “Apol. ,”ii. 5 ; Clemens, 

**Hom.,” viii. 18, ix. I. 


» Hausrath, ** N. T. Zeitgeschichte, ” i. 12 1-2. 


3 Tacitus, ** Annals,” xii. 52 ; I)io Cassius, Ix. 6 ; Juvenal, ** Satires,’* 

vi. 542 ; Josephus, ** Ant.,” xviii. 3, s^. 


4 Matt. xii. 27 ; ” Bell. Jud.,” ii. 8. 6. s *• Ant.,*’ viii. 2. 5. 






and jealous demon. Accordingly when he went into 

the marriage chamber, he prepared a decoction com- 

posed of the ashes of a perfume, with the heart and 

liver of a fish and fumigated his wife with it When 

the demon smelt the smoke he fled into Upper Egypt 

which was then considered as one of the farthest 

limits of the world. And when the demon got there 

the angel chained him to prevent his return.^ A 

similar instance of exorcism was once witnessed by 

Josephus, when a Jewish exorcist expelled a demon in 

the presence of the emperor Vespasian and his soldiers. 

In order to prove to demonstration the virtue of his 

art, the exorcist, Eleazar by name, placed a basin of 

water at some distance from his patient which the 

demon was to upset when expelled. He then put 

a ring with a magical root attached to it to the nose 

of the sick person. When he had done this the demon 

at once flew out of the possessed man’s nostrils and 

spilt the basin of water in his flight. Meantime the 

man fell down, and Eleazar, reciting an incantation 

said to be composed by Solomon, adjured the demon 

to return to him no more.* From this narrative it will be 

seen that certain kinds of roots were used for the pur- 

poses of exorcism ; one of the most celebrated was the 

root Baaras found in a lonely valley near Machaerus 

on the eastern shores of the Dead Sea. The plucking 

of this root was a dangerous operation, and if im- 

properly performed was sure to cause immediate 

death. One of the methods for procuring it was to 

remove most of the earth from its roots, to fasten a 


* Tobit vii. 2. 3 ; (/. H. Spencer, ** Principles of Sociology,*’ 259-60. 

«”Anl.,” viii. 2. 5. 






dog to it and allow him to pull it up. As soon as 

the dog had done this work he died.’ It is not ex- 

pressly stated that this was one of the roots which 

the Essenes were fond of gathering ; but it is very 

probable that it along with many others was to be 

found in their medicine chest. 


In their zeal for the absolute supremacy of God the 

Essenes went beyond the Pharisees and totally denied 

the freedom of the human will. By them everything 

was ascribed to God ; the whole course of man’s exis- 

tence was fore-ordained by him ; the immense power of 

the Divine majesty left no room whatever for the 

free initiative of man.* The Essene doctrine of a future 

life also differed, if we may trust Josephus, from the 

ideas on the same subject which were current among 

the Pharisees. The Pharisees believed in a resurrec- 

tion of the body; the Essenes held that the body 

perished after death and that the soul only was im- 

mortal. Before the body came into being the soul, 

according to the Essenes, existed as a pure spirit, 

possessing within itself all the attributes of immortality. 

There was no indissoluble connection between the 

soul and the body ; the body was no more than a 

temporary prison-house into which the soul was 

enticed, and the death and dissolution of the body 

was a moment of joy and liberation for the soul. At 

death the souls of the wicked were consigned to 

eternal torments in a dark and frigid subterranean 

den ; the spirits of the good were transported beyond 

the ocean to the islands of the blest — a region free 


‘ •• Bell. Jud.,” vii. 6. 3. C/. A. Lang. •* Custom and Myth,” 147. 

‘ **Ant.,” xiii. 5. 9; xviii. i. 5. 






from burning heat or storms of rain and snow, and 

always tempered by a gentle west wind wafted from 

the sea.’ 


The repudiation of the resurrection of the body 

represents a serious difference of opinion between the 

Essenes and the orthodox teachers of the Law, but 

their attitude towards the Temple was more serious 

still and constituted a real breach with Judaism. The 

Essenes neither frequented the Temple for purposes 

of devotion nor offered sacrifices on its altars. They 

looked upon their own modes of worship as superior 

in point of purity to the services which took place at 

Jerusalem, but this belief did not prevent them from 

occasionally sending presents to the ancient sanctuary 

of their race.^ It has been said that the action of the 

Essenes in ceasing to sacrifice at the Temple was the 

result of high priests being appointed who had no 

hereditary right to the sacred office ; it was in the nature 

of a protest against the performance of high-priestly 

functions by men who, according to Jewish law, had 

no authority to do so.^ On the other hand, however, 

the action of the Essenes may quite as easily have 

arisen from a higher conception of what constituted 

the true nature of sacrifice. Many of the prophets 

held sacrifice in light esteem ; such moral qualities 

as mercy and such religious graces as repentance were 

preferred before it In the light of these truths it is 

not at all improbable that the Essenes ceased to con- 

sider the offering up of sheep and oxen as a proper 

method of approaching God. 


> ” Bell. Jud.,” viii. 11. » ” Ant.,” xviii. i. 5. 


3 Lucius, *’ Der Essenismus,” 75. j^. 




34’^ T’/fE ESSENES. 


Before concluding this sketch of the Essenes two 

questions remain to be considered. In the first place, 

is Essenism, as many believe, a pure product of 

Judaism ? and, in the second, is there any original 

connection between Christianity and Essenism 


The answer to the first of these questions depends 

almost entirely on the trustworthiness of Josephus. 

If the account of the Essene community furnished by 

this historian is to be at all relied upon, it must be 

conceded that foreign elements entered into the com- 

position of Essenism. Those elements are most 

palpably before us in the Essene doctrines of the 

soul and immortality. It is quite at variance with 

purely Jewish ideas to believe, as the Essenes are said 

to have done, in the preexistence of the soul, or in a 

dualism between soul and body, or that the body is a 

mere temporary prison-house of the spiritual part of 

man. Now, if there is a word of truth in what Jose- 

phus says as to Essene views on these points, we are 

forced to the conclusion that this society was not 

purely Jewish in some of its fundamental principlea 

Admitting for a moment the general veracity of Jose- 

phus, we are led to inquire what the foreign influences 

were which acted upon Essenism, and to a certain 

extent determined its character. But in entering on 

this inquiry great divergencies of opinion immediately 

arise. Some trace these alien influences to the Bud- 

dhists of India, others to the religion of the Persians, 

and others to the current conceptions of Syro-Pales- 

tinian heathenism. It is not difficult to adduce 

plausible arguments in behalf of each and all of these 

theories. Buddhism presents several striking resem- 






blances to Elssenism, and at the time when the Essene 

community sprang into existence there was a suffi- 

cient amount of intercourse going on between the 

East and the West,” to give probability to the sup- 

position that the Essenes had incorporated Buddhist 

beliefs and practices into their system. It is also 

equally probable that the Essenes borrowed many of 

their religious customs from the Persians. The sun- 

worship of the Parsees, their ablutions, their use of 

white clothing, and their rejection of bloody sacrifices, 

all find a counterpart among the Essenes.^ In their 










capacity as exorcists, medicine men, and interpreters 

of dreams, the Essenes occupy the same ground as 

the heathen population of Syria, and it is not at all 

unlikely that they derived many of their practices 

from the people who surrounded them.3 If, however, 

Josephus is to be accepted as a witness of any value 

on Essene doctrine, all these theories as to where it 

originated must be cast aside, for he says expressly 

that it resembled the opinions of the Greeks. And as 


‘ Light foot, ” St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon ‘ 

(second ed.), 82, stj. and 349, sq. Schucrer, ii. 489-90. 

‘ Lightfoot, 387 ; Hilgenfeld, ” Ketzcrgeschichte,” 141, s^, 

3 R. A. Lipsius, Art. ” Essaer,” in Schenkel, ii. 189, sf. 




344 ^^^ ESSENES. 


a matter of fact, the Pythagoreans who existed in 

Greece’ long before the rise of the Essenes, present so 

many parallels with them that it is impossible to 

ascribe these resemblances to mere fortuitous coinci- 

dence.* Both the Essenes and the Pythagoreans 

held exactly the same Views as to the true ideal of 

life, and both adopted almost exactly the same 

practices in order to attain it. The Pythagoreans, 

like the Essenes, neither offered sacrifice nor con- 

firmed their assertions with an oath. They had the 

same horror of impurity, they had the same love of 

ablutions, they held almost the same ideas on the 

superior sanctity of celibacy, and cherished the same 

beliefs on the subject of the soul. Add to this the 

immense sway which Greek thought in general exer- 

cised in Palestine from the days of Alexander, and it 

is hardly possible to resist the conclusion that the 

extraneous influences which permeated Essen ism had 

their home in Greece. 


If, however, all those statements of Josephus in 

which he brings out the close relationship between 

Essenism and certain phases of Greek thought are 

unworthy of credit, there remains the opinion enter- 

tained by a number of eminent scholars,=» that the 

Essenes are an unadulterated product of Palestinian 

Judaism. On the supposition that Josephus, in view 

of his Greek readers, distorted the Essene doctrine of 

the soul, it is not difficult to deduce all the other 

beliefs and practices of the order from the Old Testa- 

ment and the Talmud. The Essene observance of 


‘ Zeller, •• Die Philosophic der Griechen ” (ed. 1881), iii. 2, 325-34. 

E.g., Frankel, Geiger, Graetz, Derenbourg, Ewald, Rcuss, Kuenen. 






the Sabbath, the honour paid to Moses, the dread of 

contracting uncleanness, are all purely Jewish. The 

white garments worn by the order, the common meal, 

and the tendency towards celibacy, have all a basis in 

the customs of the Jewish priesthood. In the same 

way, the bath before meals and the zeal for purity 

which drove the Essenes from the world are simply 

exaggerations of the Pharisaic practice of washing the 





{By permisswn of the Commillu of tkt Paleslint Erf’lara/ien Fund.) 


hands before food, and of the Pharisaic spirit of cxclu- 

siveness. In fact, it is not necessary to go outside 

the circle of Jewish ideas to find at least the germs of 

every Essene belief and practice with the sole excep- 

tion of the doctrine of immortality. But whether 

Josephus totally misrepresented the Essene view of 






this doctrine, or whether there is a substratum of 

truth in what he says respecting it, has not as yet 

been satisfactorily solved one way or the other. So 

long as this question remains open it will be impos- 

sible to say whether Essenism is a plant of indigenous 

growth, or whether a number of its roots are fixed in 

foreign soil. 


It is not so difficult to arrive at a positive conclu- 

sion with respect to the alleged original connection 

between Christianity and Essenism. On certain 

subjects, such as the rejection of oaths, the blessings 

of poverty, and the danger of riches, there is a resem- 

blance between the teachings of Jesus and Essene 

doctrine.^ But these similarities sink into insignifi- 

cance, and lose almost all value when compared with 

the vast gulf which divides Jesus from the Essenes in 

matters of fundamental importance. The profound 

antagonism which Jesus manifested towards the 

Pharisees as to the nature of the Sabbath extended 

of necessity to the Essenes as well. The difference 

between Jesus and the Essenes on ceremonial clean- 

ness is a difference of principle. Ceremonial purity 

was a chief corner-stone of the Essene system, it was 

a matter of no moment with Jesus. The only form of 

purity which He taught was purity of heart The 

Essenes fled the world, Jesus freely mingled in it ; the 

Essenes could only consort with members of their 

own order, Jesus stooped down to meet the outcast, 

the publican, and the sinner. In Essenism there is no 

trace of the proselytizing spirit so characteristic of 

Christianity. On the contrary, the Essenes, instead 


‘ Graetz, “Geschkhtc,” iii. 302. 






of trying to seek and to save that which was lost, 

appear to have been satisfied with life in a small 

monastic community. As has been truly said,* the 

agreement between Essenism and Christianity is in 

details of secondary importance, the difference is one 

of principle.^ 


* Kuenen, Hibbert Lectures, 203. 


‘ Hardly any use has been made of the writings ascribed to Philo in 

this sketch of Essenism. The Philonic origin of the documents in which 

the Essenes are mentioned is now admitted to be extremely doubtful. 

These documents are the ** De Vita Contemplativa,” the ” Apologia pro 

Judaeis”in Eusebius ** Praeparatio Evangelica,” viii. 11, and “Quod 

Omnis Probus Liber,” xii., xiii. Lucius (“Die Therapeuten und ihre 

Stellung in der Geschichte der Askese,” Strassburg, 1879) maintains 

that the ** De Vita” is a work of Christian origin. The reasons brought 

forward by Hilgenfeld (** Ketzergeschichte des Urchristenthums,” 1884) 

against the Philonic authorship of the ” Apologia ” are very strong, 

although Hamack (‘* Theologische Literaturzeitung,” 1887, No. 21, p. 

493) will not accept them as conclusive. And quite recently an equal 

amount of doubt has been thrown on the twelfth and thirteenth chap- 

ters of the *’ Quod Omnis Probus Liber” by Ohle. Considerations as 

to space forbid me to resume his arguments ; but see, ” Jahrbiicher 

fiir Protestantische Theologie ” ; ” Jahrgang,” xiii. ; **Heft,”ii. 298,5^., 

iii. 376, sg. ; ” Die Essaer des Philo,” Von R. Ohle. See also *• De 

libro Hepi roii vdvra aitoviaiov livai ‘eXivBepou qui inter Philonis Alex- 

andrini opera fertur” (Goettingen, 1887) Ricardus Ausfeld. Two 

articles have appeared in the ** Revue de I’Histoire des Religions ** 

(tome xvi. 170, f^.)» in which the writer, M. Massebienu, tries to upset 

the conclusions of Lucius and to prove that Philo is the author of the 

” De Vita Contemplativa.” M. Massebieau undoubtedly points out 

resemblances both in thought and style between the ** De Vita ” and 

some of Philo’s works, but hardly succeeds in establishing his con- 







Under Roman rule, Palestine was inhabited by a 

mixed population. Judaea was the only province in 

which the great mass of the people was purely Jewish. 

Jerusalem and the surrounding district were peopled 

by the descendants of the Babylonian exiles, and the 

hatred which was cherished against foreigners in this 

region resulted in its being left exclusively in the 

hands of the Jews. Outside Judxa, and throughout 

the rest of Palestine, the population consisted of Jews, 

Syrians, and Greeks. The Syrians belonged tt> the 

same race as the Jews,’ and had always retained a 

footing in the Holy Land ; the Greeks entered it as 

colonists after the conquest of the East by Alexander 

the Great. In all the towns along the coast of the 

Mediterranean, with the doubtful exceptions of Jamnia 

and joppa, which were partially Judaized by the 

Maccabxans, a Gentile population preponderated.” 

At no period of their history had the Jews been able 


‘ Mommsen, ” Rbmische Gcschichte,” v. 449. 

Josephus, ” Bell. Jui],.” iii. I, s,;. 






to gain a permanent footing on the sea-coast of Pales- 

tine, and the settlement of Jewish colonists in the 

towns of Raphia, Gaza, Anthedon, Ascalon, Azotus, 

Appolonia, Caesarea, Dora, and Ptolemais, dates from 

the time of the Greek invasion of the East Some of 

these towns were important centres of commerce and 

industry, and in them the Jew was able to gratify his 

trading instincts while remaining on the sacred soil of 



Passing from the sea-coast to the interior of Pales- 

tine, we find the northern province of Galilee was 

bounded on the west and north by the Gentile 

populations belonging to the districts of Ptolemais 

and Tyre. On the east it was separated by the 

Jordan and the Sea of Galilee from Gaulanitis, 

Batancea, and Trachonitis, the population of which 

was composed partly of Jews, partly of Syrians, and 

partly of nomadic hordes.* These nomads were 

hardly within the pale of civilization. They made 

the almost impregnable caves of the Trachonitis their 

refuge and home. Sallying forth from their natural 

fastnesses among the rocks, they preyed upon the 

surrounding country, and Herod had to settle warlike 

colonists among them from Babylon and Idumsa, in 

order to keep them down. After Herod’s death the 

Trachonitis relapsed into its old anarchic state, and 

one of his successors complained that the people of 

this region were living the life of wild beasts.^ The 

settled population of Gaulanitis and Batansea was 


” Josephus, ** Bell. Jud ,” iii. 5. 


* Le Bas et Waddington, ” Inscriptions Grecques et Laiines,” tome 

iii. n. 234. 






more Gentile than Jewish, and the towns of Caesarca 

Panias, and Julias, or Bethsaida, were mainly in- 

habited by the heathen. Caesarea Panias was situated 

at the sources of the Jordan, and was famous for its 

celebrated grotto of the Greek god, Pan. It had 

been a Hellenic town several centuries before the 

birth of Christ ; in it Herod the Great built a temple 

to Augustus, and his son Philip raised it to a position 

of some importance among the cities of his tetrarchy.’ 

Julias also owed its rise to Philip. It was formerly 

known as Bethsaida, but Philip in honour of his 

imperial patron’s daughter changed its name to Julias, 

and it henceforth became a Hellenic town.* 


On the south, Galilee was separated from Judaea 

by the province of Samaria3 In spite of the intense 

hatred which existed between the Jews and the people 

of Samaria the Jews refrained from classing the 

Samaritans among the heathen. This was owing to 

the fact that a certain portion of the inhabitants of 

the province adhered to the Mosaic code ; and although 

they rejected all the other books of the canon, and 

considered their own sanctuary on Mount Gerizim 

quite as sacred as the Temple at Jerusalem, the ortho- 

dox Jews continued to regard the Samaritans as being 

to some extent brethren in the faith. Side by side 

with this heterodox Judaism a great deal of heathen- 

ism also existed in Samaria, for the province contained 

a large Gentile population. Scbastc, the capital of 

Samaria, was a Gentile town, and it is probable that 


* Schenkel’s ** Bibel-Lcxikon,” ii. 499. 


* Josephus, **Ant.,” xviii. 2. i; “Bell. Jud.,” iii. 10. 7; Pliny, 

*’Hist. Nat.,” V. 15. 71. 


3 Art. **Saniaritaner,” in Hcrzog, xiii. 340. 






many of the colonists who came from Babylon to 

Samaria after the fall of the old Israelitish monarchy 

only partially adopted the religion of the land. Alex- 

ander the Great settled Greek colonists in the province, 

and from his days till the conquest of Samaria by the 

Maccabees, Greek civilization must have exercised a 

powerful influence on the inhabitants. The old city 

of Samaria was destroyed by the sons of John 

Hyrcanus ^ (circa 107 B.c) ; Herod rebuilt it, and 

under the new name of Sebaste * it became one of the 

most important towns of Palestine. 


It will thus be seen that Galilee was surrounded on 

all sides by a population which was more Gentile than 

Jewish, and a strong Gentile element was to be found 

in the province itself So much was this the case that 

it was called Galilee of the Gentiles.^ The two most 

important cities of the province, Tiberias and Sep- 

phoris, were practically Hellenic centres.4 In the 

country districts and the smaller towns, such as 

Nazareth, Cana, Dalmanutha, Magdala, it is probable 

that the Jews were in the majority. 


A number of important Hellenic towns, situated 

with the exception of Scythopolis on the eastern 

banks of the Jordan, were formed probably by Pompcy 

into an independent confederation, which became 

known as the Decapolis, or Ten Cities.^ On the 

downfall of the Syrian monarchy these cities fell into 

the hands of the Jews, but most of them contained 

a Gentile population, and bore Greek names. The 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiii. 9. i, st/. 


* IV)id., ** Ant.,*’ XV. 8. 5 ; cf. Schuerer, ii. 108. 


“« Hamburger, Art. ” Ciriechenthum,” Abtheilung, ii. 310. 


* Schuerer, ii. 120, st/. 5 Pliny. ** Hist. Nat.,” v 18. 74. 






towns of the Decapolis were Damascus, Philadelphia, 

Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippus, Dion, Pella, 

Gerasa, and Canatha, and the citizens were to a great 

extent composed of Greeks who emigrated into Syria 

on the establishment of Greek supremacy in this 

quarter of the world.* 


South-west of the Decapolis lay the province of 

Peraea, a narrow strip of territory running along the 

eastern banks of the Jordan. Peraea extended from 

Pella in the north to the fortress of Machaerus on the 

shores of the Dead Sea ; it was bounded on the east 

by the Decapolis and the territory of the Nabataeans. 

Very little is known respecting the population of 

Peraea, but there is every reason to believe that it 

contained the same mixture of Jews and Gentiles as 

existed in most of the other parts of Palestine.* 


In Roman times, the Hellenic towns of Palestine 

were quite independent of Jerusalem, as well as of 

each other. They all acknowledged the supremacy 

of Rome, either in the person of the Herods or of 

the Roman procurators, and they all contributed so 

much annually to the Herods or to the imperial 

exchequer.3 Beyond these things they were left as 

much as possible to manage their own affairs^ in 

their own way. Every town of any note was the 

centre of a certain district, which varied in extent 

after the manner of our English counties. All the 

internal affairs of the district were under the control 


» Mommsen, v, 473, s^, » Th. Menke, *• Bibel-Atlas,” No. 5. 


3 **Bell. Jud.,” iii. 3. 5. 


* J. Marquardt, ** Komische Staatsverwaltung/’ 69, s^., 209, Sf, ; 

Mommsen, v. 511. 






of a representative council, consisting in some cases 

of several hundred members. In name some of these 

councils possessed more authority than others, but in 

practice it was possible for all of them to conduct the 

business of the district with little or no interference 

from the imperial officials. It was, however, very 

seldom that they succeeded in doing this Owing to 

the antagonism of rival factions within the com- 

munes. In Caesarea the Jews enjoyed equal civic 

rights with the Gentiles,* and the same privileges 

were probably accorded them in such cities as Ti- 

berias and Sepphoris. In Samaria, in the Decapolis, 

and in the older Gentile cities along the sea-coast, it 

is hardly likely that the Jews were admitted to all the 

privileges of citizenship. The management of in- 

ternal affairs in Jerusalem was entirely in Jewish 

hands,* and a similar state of things no doubt existed 

in the Jewish portions of Galilee and Peraea. 


In the Hellenic cities of Palestine, Greek poly- 

theism did not succeed in extirpating the indigenous 

forms of faith, and the temples of Semitic gods and 

goddesses existed side by side with the sanctuaries of 

Greek divinities.3 This was more especially the case 

in the towns along the coast, and the original inhabi- 

tants of such places as Gaza, Ascalon, and Azotus, did 

not desert the shrines of their local deities.4 But 

in other departments of life, Greek influencei was 

supreme, and in some parts of Palestine, Greek 


* Josephus, ” Ant.,” xx. 8. 7. 


‘ It may be taken as certain that no Gentiles were permitted to 

become members of the Sanhedrin. 

3 Mommsen, v. 454. « Schuerer, ii. la 




354 ^WE PEOPLE. 


literature was cultivated with a fair amount of 

success. One of Cicero’s teachers, Antiochus, an 

eclectic philosopher, was a native of Ascalon. The 

emperor Tiberius was taught by the Syro-Grecian 

Thcodorus of Gadara ; this town also produced 

Meleager, who may be called the father of the 

Greek anthology.’ As a rule the Syro-Grecian was 

a light and mocking spirit, and excelled as a 

musician, jockey, juggler, and buffoon. He was a 

corrupt and degraded creature, and exercised a very 

pernicious influence on the morality of the empire,” 




LATIN stune ai.tar. 

{By ftrmisiion of thi Commilt.e of iht I’altslini Expleratien Fund.) 


These defects of character, however, did not prevent 

him from being an excellent and successful trader. 

He carried on business operations throughout the 

Roman world ; and Syria was justly celebrated for its 

linen, purple, silk, and glass.’ Galilee was an im- 

portant scat of the linen industry, and the linen 

products of Scythopolis commanded the highest 

prices in the Roman markets. * Ascalon and Gaza^ 


.Schuorer, ii. 15-6. ” Mommsen, v. 461-3, and note I. 


3 C/. Hftifelil,” rianiieli^cschichte liet Juden ” ; Mommsen, v. 465. 


‘ Eiliclum Uioclel. xvit.-xviii. ; Heri!-.rel(l, to?. 


S “AEiCalon e( Gaia in negutiis emincntes. el abundanles Omnibus 

bcnis miltunl omni region! Syria: el /I’gypti vinum optimum ” (Totius 

Oiliis descriiMio, cap. v)). 






were celebrated commercial ports, and Caesarea 

possessed a harbour which rivalled the ancient 

quays of Tyre.’ 


It was impossible for the purely Jewish population 

to escape the multitude of Greek influences by which 

they were surrounded, and the effects of Greek civi- 

lization are to be found in nearly every phase of 

Jewish life. The Temple of Jerusalem was mainly 

constructed in the Greek style,^ and most of the 

public buildings were built in accordance with Greek 

architectural designs. Religious feeling prevented 

Greek painting and sculpture from being tolerated 

in the Jewish parts of Palestine ; but the Book of 

Daniel refers to Greek musical instruments, and it 

is not improbable that Greek music was common 

among the Jews.3 Roman, Greek, and Phoenician 

coins were the current money of the realm, and the 

Gospels are not wanting in allusions to the coinage 

of Rome.4 The amusements of the people were 

largely derived from Greece, and Greek games were 

celebrated in most of the chief towns of Palestine. 

Even at Jerusalem there were chariot races, contests 

with wild beasts, running, wrestling, and boxing, just 

as if the centre of Judaism had been a purely Greek 

city.5 Jericho possessed a theatre, a hippodrome, 

and an amphitheatre, and in other parts of the 

Holy Land buildings of a similar description were 




‘ Josephus, ** Ant./* xv. 9. 6 ; xvi. 5. i. 

« Ibid., ” Ant.,” xv. il. 5 ; ** Bell. Jud.,” v. 4. 4. 

3 Dan. iii. 5, s^. ; Josephus, ** Ant.,” xv, 8. I 

* Madden, ** Hist, of Jewish Coinage,” 232. 

5 Josephus, *’ Ant.” xv. 8. i. 






to be seen.* The rabbis, it is true, were hostile to 

these heathen forms of amusement, but their de- 

nunciations were only heeded by a comparatively 

narrow circle ; the Greek games offered an irresistible 

attraction to the great mass of the populace.* 


Except among the learned, Hebrew had become 

extinct as a living tongue, and in the time of Christ 

the language in general use was Aramaic.^ But 

traders and the higher classes also understood Greek, 

and a vast number of Greek words had found their 

way into common use. Greek names were very fre- 

quently employed for money, weights and measures. 

It was the same in civil, military, and legal affairs. 

Many commercial terms were also Greek, and Greek 

words had even come to be used for food, clothing, 

and household furniture. Among the ruling classes 

it was very usual to call children by Greek names, 

such as Alexander, Aristobulus, Philip, and so forth.4 

The Greek names, Andrew and Philip, also occur 

among the disciples of Christ, which would lead us 

to believe that Greek names for persons were being 

adopted by all classes of the community. Greek had 

become the mother tongue of nearly all the Jews 

who lived in the West, and the vast multitudes of 

them who came as pilgrims to Jerusalem must have 

fostered the spread of Hellcriism in the Holy City 

and in other parts of the land as well, 


* Josephus ** Ant.,” xvii. 6. 3, 5, xvii. 8. 2 ; ” Bell. Jud ,” ii. 21. 3, 6. 


» Ibid., *• Ant.,” XV. 8. I. 


3 Art. ** Aram,” in Herzog, i. 604. Aramaic words frequently occur 

in the Gospels. For example, Golgotha, Mammon, Corban, (iabbatha, 

and the words of Christ on the cross (Mark xv. 34). 


^ Hamburger, Art, ” Griechenthum.” ii. 311, sq. \ cf, Robcrl–^ 

•* Greek the Language of Christ.” (188S). 






It docs not appear, however, that the Jews of 

Palestine were drawn like their brethren of the 

Dispersion into the fascinating toils of Greek specu- 

lation. In Palestine, the action of Hellenism upon 

the Jewish population was almost entirely confined to 

the secular side of life. The Palestinian rabbi rc- 

g^arded Greek philosophy with suspicion ; he had no 

taste for that ingenious harmonizing of Greek and 

Hebrew thought which was so ardently cultivated by 

the Jews of Alexandria ; he had an inward convic- 

tion that Greek wisdom was inimical to the Law, and 

did his utmost to suppress its growth. The diffusion 

of Greek ideas among the masses would undoubtedly 

have destroyed the belief that the Jews held of 

Jehovah as a tribal God ; it would have shattered 

their faith in the multitudinous ordinances of the Law, 

and it would have reduced them in their own eyes to 

a position of simple equality among the other races 

of mankind.’ But the tendencies of Greek thought 

were not as the rabbis imagined in the direction of 

polytheism. On the contrary, the Greek philosophers 

were busily engaged in dissolving the old polythe- 

istic conceptions of antiquity. They were slowly 

feeling their way towards the monotheistic conclu- 

sions of the Jews, and would ultimately have arrived 

at a lofty idea of the Divine attributes, even if Judaism 

had not existed.^ Nor was the dissatisfaction with 


‘ Cf. Siej^friecl, •’ Jahrbiicher fiir Protestantische Theologie ” (1SS6), 

p. 249. Of one rabbi, Elisa ben Abuja Siegfried says, ** Er zog, 

riicksichlslos die Konseiiienz der Allegorislik, dass die Beobachtung 

des C’icsetzes iiberfliissig sei, da seine Gebote nur der syinlx>lische 

Aus<]ruck hoherer wahrheii seien. Wer also die letztcre babe, brauche 

die Stiitze des Gesetzcs nicht mehr.” 


‘ ** Der monotheisnius des Socrates, Plato und Aristoteles ist wohl so 






the gods of Olympus confined to the schools of the 

philosophers ; it had penetrated all ranks and con- 

ditions of ancient society.’ So much was this the 

case that it was a very common occurrence for 


Gentiles who had ceased to believe in polytheism to 

embrace the faith of the Jews. “Many of them,” says 

Josephus, ” have agreed to submit themselves to our 

laws.” And again : ” For a long time back great zeal 

for our religion has laid hold upon multitudes ; nor 

is there any city of the Greeks, or indeed any city at 

all, even though barbarian, where the observance of 

the seventh day, on which we rest from toil, has not 

made its way, and where the fasts and lamplightings 

and many of our prohibitions as to food are not 

observed … As God penetrates the whole world, 

so the Law has made its way amongst all men.” * 

These pious Gentiles are frequently mentioned in the 

New Testament, and it was from their ranks that a 

large proportion of the early Christians was drawn. 


Unfortunately, the rabbis of Palestine did not 

grasp the significance of the momentous change 

which was coming over the religious consciousness 

of the ancient world. At the very time that Greece 

was growing weary of her gods, and was feeling after 

a higher form of faith, at that very time the rabbis 

were busily inculcating amongst the people of 

Palestine an intenser hatred of the Gentiles and all 


hoch und rein wie der des Jesaias.” Karl Hase, *’ Kirchengeschichte 

auf der Grundlage akademischer Vorlesungen,” 77, Cf. Baur, * Church 

History of the First Three Centuries,” 10, sq, 


‘ E. Reuss, ” Histoire de la Theologie Chretienne au Siecle aposto- 

lique,” i. 98 ; G. Boissier, ** La Religion Romaine,’ L 37, sq, 


‘ Josephus, contra Apion, ii« 39. 






their works. According to their teaching, it was an 

act of disobedience to the Law to hold any intercourse 

whatever with the Gentiles. It defiled a jew to sit 

with them at table or to enter under their roof.” It 

was even asserted that the Gentiles had lost the 

nature of men and only retained the instincts of the 

beasts. All knowledge of God was denied them ; 

they were God’s enemies, and when they made in- 

quiries of a Jew respecting Divine things it was his 






{By ftrmhiien of tht CB«imillti ef the FaUsline Ex/^arnlim Fund) 

duty to answer them with a suppressed curse. Ac- 

cording to Jewish ideas, all Gentiles were base born, 

and all their women were unclean. To marry a 

Gentile woman was a heinous offence ; the children 

of such an alliance were bastards, and had no part in 

the inheritance of Israel. It was forbidden to counsel 

or befriend a Gentile, and the benefits conferred by a 

Gentile on a jew were in reality no better than 

‘ Cf. Acts ». 18, \i. 3 ! John xviiL 18 ; Gal. u. la. 






serpents’ poison.^ The growing hatred of the Gen- 

tiles is seen in the question which was raised in the 

time of Christ as to the lawfulness of paying tribute 

to Rome. When the Jews had to pay tribute to the 

Greek monarchs no heart-searchings on this matter 

had arisen among them. These new qualms of con- 

science were the outcome of a more furious antipathy 

to the Gentile world.” 


A bitter feeling of resentment was aroused 

throughout the Roman Empire by the irreconcil- 

able attitude of the Jews towards the rest of 

mankind. Cicero speaks of them as a nation born 

for servitude,3 and stigmatizes their religion as a 

barbarous superstition.^ Seneca despises them as a 

wretched and criminal people,5 and Tacitus says with 

some truth that the Jews had made themselves 

notorious by their hatred of the human race.^ 

Juvenal falls into many absurd mistakes regarding 

the tenets of Judaism, but he certainly does not 

misconceive the tendency of much contemporary 

rabbinic teaching when he says, that the Jews would 

point out the way to no one but their own fellow- 

believers.7 The practice of denouncing Gentiles as 

unfit to be associated with, was sufficient in itself to 

make the Jews detested, and was utterly opposed 

to the humane sentiments of national brotherhood 

which were taking root in the ancient world. ” The 


‘ Weber, ‘* System,” 64, sq. ‘ Matt. xxii. 15, s^, 


3 ** De Prov.,” v. 10. * *’ Pro Flacco, ‘ 28, 


s *’ Fragm.,” 42. * *’ Hist.,” v. 5. 


7 ‘* Ni)n nionstrare vias eadcin nisi sarra colenti 

Quaesitum ad fontem solo> tlcdueere vcrjws ” 


(” Satires,” xiv. 103). 






Jews,” says Appolonius of Tyana, ” have for a long 

time fallen away, not only from the Romans, but 

from all mankind ; for a people that devises an anti- 

social life, … is further apart from us than Susa 

or Dactria, or the still more distant inhabitants of 

India.” The- contempt which the Jews brought upon 

themselves by their separatist customs is also ex- 

pressed by Appoloniu.s in a conversation’ which he 

is said to have held with Vespasian on the Jewish war. 

“If,” said he, ” some one came from the seat of war, 

and announced that thirty thousand Jews had fallen 

through you, and in the ne.\t battle that fifty thou- 

sand had fallen, I took the narrator aside and 

intentionally asked him what he was thinking of, 

that he had nothing more important to say than this,”* 

* Pbilostralus, “Vita Apoll,” v, J3. 






In a preceding chapter we have seen how bitterly- 

Roman domination was hated by the great mass of 

the Jc\vish population of Palestine. Administrative 

oppression has often been set down as the cause of 

this state of hatred, but it would be more accurate to 

say that it arose out of the religious convictions of 

the Jews. It is no doubt easy to point out several 

instances of harshness in the attitude of the Roman 

conquerors, but it is also necessary to remember that 

the Roman officials in many cases showed an un- 

wonted consideration for the susceptibilities of the 

vassal state. Till the outbreak of the insurrection, 

which terminated in the destruction of Jerusalem, the 

Jews suffered far less from internal disorder under 

Roman rule than in almost any previous period of 

their national history, and they enjoyed at the same 

time a greater share of local liberty than had ever 

fallen to their lot in the flower of the Maccabaean age. 

What lay at the root of their detestation of Roman 

supremacy was not so much its oppressiveness ; it 






consisted in a religious feeling that it was an intoler- 

able sacrilege for Gentile outcasts to pollute the Holy 

Land, and exercise lordship over the chosen people 

of Jehovah. As the hatred of the Romans arose from 

religious rather than political causes, so did the hope 

of purging the Holy Land of its heathen desecrators 

have its roots in religious rather than political soil. 

The futile attempts which had been made at revolt 

tended to confirm the belief, that the deliverance of 

Israel was not to be effected by natural but by super- 

natural means. The hope of being ultimately rescued 

from Roman rule was based upon the belief that the 

Jews were Jehovah’s chosen race. He had selected 

them as His peculiar people from among all the 

families of the earth. He had entered into a cove- 

nant with them, and had solemnly promised them a 

glorious future if they held aloof from the abomina- 

tions of the heathen, and remained steadfastly faith- 

ful to Him. It was impossible for God to break His 

word. What was needed was patience. The Gentile 

domination was only transitory. It was to be looked 

upon, said many, as a punishment for the Gentile 

habits of the Sadducees. But the people had almost 

expiated the sins of their leaders. The end was at 

hand ; the brilliant promises of God would soon be 

fulfilled. The stranger would be trodden down ; 

Israel would be consoled, and the Messianic kingdom 

with its centre at Jerusalem would suddenly burst 

upon the world. 


Many traces of a belief in a near approach of the 

Messianic reign are to be found in the New Testament 

documents. Simeon believed that he should not taste 






of death till he had seen the Lord’s anointed.^ 

Joseph of Arimathea is mentioned as one of those 

who was waiting for the kingdom of God.* Many- 

were inclined to believe that John the Baptist was the 

promised Messiah,3 and the nature of the Messianic 

belief is clearly set forth in the words of disappoint- 

ment uttered by Christ’s disciples after their Mas- 

ter’s crucifixion, “we trusted that it had been He 

which should have redeemed Israel.” ^ Among all 

sections of the multitude the attitude of expectation 

had risen to a feverish height. Many like the Zealots 

had waited till they could wait no longer ; they took 

up arms in the conviction that the Messianic era 

would be hastened, when God saw His people making 

heroic efforts to deliver themselves. 


It will now be our object to look a little more 

closely at the full scope of the Messianic expectation. 

While doing so we shall have to bear in mind that 

this hope did not exist in the popular imagination as 

a rigidly defined dogma. It was equally permissible 

to accord it the most colossal proportions, or to hold 

it with the relative sobriety of the ancient prophets. 

Still the prevailing tendency of Judaism was to enlarge 

the dimensions of its glorious expectations, and to 

embrace the Messianic belief in its most supernatural 

and transcendent forms. 


The current conceptions of the Messianic age are 

very well reflected in the popular apocalyptic literature 

of the first century. All of these writings taught the 

multitude to believe that the day of deliverance was 


‘ Luke ii. 25, </. 38. ‘ Matt. xvii. 10. 


3 Luke lii. 15. ** Luke xxiv. 21. 






to be preceded by a period of wickedness, calamities, 

and portents, of the most astounding kind. Religion, 

it was believed, should fall into decay. Truth and 

faith should fail and hope should be deceived. At 

that time fools should increase and the numbers of 

the wise be brought low.* A sudden thirst for 

wealth should spring up and be accompanied by 

deeds of robbery and impurity and every evil work.^ 

It was also supposed that the peace of the home 

would be destroyed. Children were to rise up against 

their parents and parents against their children.^ In 

society there was to be an equally fearful outbreak of 

anarchy and hate, in which the whole social organism 

would be overturned. ” The mean man shall lord it 

over the honourable, and the p>etty shall be exalted 

over the glorious, and the many shall be delivered to 

the few, and those who were nothing shall lord it over 

the powerful, and the poor shall abound over the rich, 

and the impious shall be exalted above heroes, and 

the wise shall be silent and fools shall speak.” ^ In 

addition to all these disorders there was to be a 

terrible outbreak of war, famine, and pestilence ; so 

much so that the dead would lie unburied and be 

mangled by birds and beasts of prey. Many even 

conceived that the whole order of nature was to be 

thrown into confusion as a sign that the Messianic 

advent was nigh at hand. Bitter water was to become 

sweet, earthquakes were to shake the solid frame of 




* Apoc. Ezra xiv. 16 ; Apoc. Banich xlviiL 


‘ B<K:>k of Jubilees xxi’i. ^ Enoch xcix. 4, s^, 


* AfKx:. Baruch Ixx. For several references to aix)calyptic literature 

I am indebted to J. Driimmond, ‘*The Jewish Messiah,” London, 1877. 






things ; the stars were to forsake their courses ; the 

order of the two great luminaries was to be reversed ; 

the moon was to shine by day and the sun by night 

According to other predictions, the sun was to suffer 

eclipse, and those who were looking up for the conso- 

lation of Israel should witness terrific battles taking 

place between horsemen and footmen in the clouds.^ 


As the Messiah could not possibly appear in the 

midst of such a chaos, it was currently believed that 

the prophet Elijah should precede him, in order to 

repair the ruin and disorder into which all things had 

fallen.^ The reason why Elijah was so closely con- 

nected in the popular mind with this great task is no 

doubt to be attributed to the belief that he did not 

share the fate of mortal men by descending into the 

grave, but was among the select few who were 

admitted into the abode of the Most High. His 

work, according to a Jewish tradition, was to be 

accomplished in the short space of three days,3 and at 

the end of that time the Messiah Himself, immediately 

preceded by Moses, Enoch, and Jeremiah, was to 



Before proceeding to describe the Messiah’s work it 

may be as well at this point to consider what were 

the prevalent conceptions respecting His nature and 

attributes. It was believed by many that He pre- 


‘ *’Sib. Orac,” iii. 795, j^., c/. 632, s<;. ; Josephiis, ** Bell. Jiid.,’* 

vi. 5, 3- See also Schuerer, ii. 440; Drummond, ”Jewish Messiah,*’ 

209, J/. 


‘ Mai. iii. 23 ; Eccliis. xlviii. 10; Mark ix. 12. Talmudic references 

in Hamburger, Art. ” Mcssias,” 743. C/. also, Light ftK)!, ** Horae 

Hebraicaj ” to Matt. xvii. 10; Wiinsche, ** Erlautcning,” &c., 203. 


3 Weber, 337. * Matt. xvi. 14 ; John i. 2\^ 5q.\cf. Schuerer, ii. 442. 






existed in a state of heavenly bliss before He entered 

upon His functions in the world. Some understood 

this pre-existence to mean nothing more than an ideal 

existence in the purposes of the Divine will,^ but 

others believed that it was a real existence, similar in 

nature to the life of the angels.^ In the Similitudes 

in the Book of Enoch, it is said of Him that He was 

chosen and hid with God before the world, and shall 

be before Him unto eternity. His countenance is as 

the appearance of a man, and full of grace like that of 

the holy angels.^ Biit the pre-existence of the Mes- 

siah in a heavenly state was not deemed incompatible 

with a full belief in His humanity. Wc all expect, 

says the Jew Trypho, in Justin Martyr’s Dialogues, 

that the Christ will be bom as a man from men.4 

His birth was expected to take place either at Jerusa- 

lem or Bethlehem,S He was to be a descendant of the 

house of David, He was to be gifted with power and 

righteousness and wisdom, but He was to live obscurely 

among the sons of men, in ignorance of His great 

destiny, till the time came when He should be anointed 

by Elijah the prophet.^ 


Immediately the Messiah officially appeared, 

although no one knew whence He camc,7 He was to 

be opposed by the hostile forces of the heathen, ” an 

innumerable multitude of men assembled from the 


* Weber, 339-40- 


« Schuerer, ii. 445-6; Ilarnack, “Lehrbuch der Dogmenge- 

schichte,” i. 69. 


3 Enoch xlvi. I. s^. ; cf, Apoc. Ezra xii. 32 ; xiii. 26, 52 ; xiv. 9. 

Sch. ii. 445. 


* Dialogues cum Tryphone, xlix. 5 Enoch xc. 37 ; Mic v. 2. 


* Psahns of Solomon xvii. 5, 23 ; Dialogues cum Tryphone, viii. ; c/. 

Lightfoot, ” Hora; Hebraica*,” to John vii. 27. ^ John vii. 27. 






four winds of heaven.” ^ “And it shall come to pass 

when all nations have heard His voice, each will 

leave in its own region the war which they have 

against one another ; and there shall be assembled 

together an innumerable multitude, as thou didst see 

wishing to come to take Him by storm.” * The battle 

between Messiah and His enemies was to take place 

around Mount Zion, and Ezra in a vision is made to 

describe the awful nature of the contest. The Mes- 

siah “did not lift His hand nor hold a spear or any 

implement of war, but . . . He sent out of His 

mouth as it were a wave of fire, and from His lips 

spirits of flame, and from His tongue He emitted 

sparks of tempest ;* and all these were mingled 

together, waves of fire and spirits of flame and a 

multitude of tempest. And He fell upon the multi- 

tude which was ready for the assault, and burned 

them all, so that suddenly nothing was perceived of 

the innumerable multitude, save only dust of ashes 

and an odour of smoke.” ^ According to the Apoca- 

lypse of l^aruch the armies of the heathen were to be 

headed by a leader corresponding to the Antichrist of 

the New Testament. After the destruction of his 

forces the servants of the Messiah were to bring him 

bound to Mount Zion, where he was to be put to 



In the Jewish imagination of the first century the 

overthrow of the heathen was looked upon as an 

indispensable preliminary to the establishment of the 


* Apoc. Kzra xiii. 5 and 33. jy. , ff. Enoch xc. 16. 


‘ A]X)c. Kzra xiii. 31. 3 l))icl., xiii. 6. s^. 


* Apoc. Baruch x!. 2. 






Messianic kingJom.’ The great kingdoms of the 

Gentiles which had come into existence before the 

Messianic age were mere kingdoms of the world, but 

the rule which the Messiah was to inaugurate should 

be the reign of God on earth, and the kingdom should 

be known as the kingdom of God, or, in other words, 

as the kingdom of heaven. The Messiah as the. 

direct representative of God among men should stand 

at the head of this new dominion, and regulate it in 

accordance with the decrees of the Most High. The 

scope of the old kingdoms of Israel was mainly limited 

to the Holy Land ; the Messianic kingdom was to 

take a wider sweep, embracing in its mighty circum- 

ference the whole extent of the habitable globe.^ In 

the language of the most widely-read prophet of the 

time, it would extend *’ over all peoples, nations, and 

languages,” 3 and the Book of Enoch expresses the 

same thought by figuratively saying that the Mes- 

sianic kingdom shall include ” all the beasts of the 

earth and all the birds of heaven.” 4 


Jerusalem was to be the capital of this world-wide 

dominion. The city as it stood, it was believed by 

some, would be elevated to a proud position of 

political grandeur, and purified by the exclusion of 

the Gentiles. But this conception was to many minds 

too tame. The old Jerusalem of pre Messianic times 

would perish in the flames, and a supernatural city — 

the new Jerusalem — should descend upon Mount 

Zion from the clouds of heaven. 5 Before Adam’s fall 


‘ S-‘huercr, 453-4. ‘ Joscphus, ” Hell. Jud.,” vi. 5. 4. 


‘ Dm. vii. 14. *’ Enoch xc. 30. 


^ Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 25, 33. 






this heavenly city had existed in the earthly paradise 

in which God had placed the first parents of mankind. 

But after the fatal disobedience of man, the holy city 

was lifted up into heaven, where it was destined to 

remain, along with many other treasures, till the 

advent of the Messianic reign. In the meantime, 

however, some select spirits, such as Abraham and 

Moses, had been permitted to gaze for a moment on 

its celestial glories. ” I showed it to my servant 

Abraham by night between the divisions of the 

victims. And again I also showed it to Moses on 

Mount Sinai, when I showed him the image of the 

tabernacle and all its vessels.” ^ The buildings in the 

new Jerusalem were to be adorned in the most brilliant 

manner with precious stones, and it was to exceed in 

size and splendour the most magnificent cities of the 



In the Messianic era, not only the Jews of Palestine, 

but the whole of the elect people scattered throughout 

the world 3 would share in the blessings of this glorious 

time. The ten tribes which had been carried away 

captive were to be led back to the Holy Land, and 

all the Israelites dispersed among the nations were to 

return to their original home.4 ” I will assemble 

them all out of the midst of the Gentiles.” 5 Even 

those who had died before the advent of the Messiah 

were not to be forgotten. They were to be raised 

from their graves, so as to taste of the delights which 

would then be showered upon mankind.^ 


* Apoc. IJaruch iv. 2, u/. Ezra also saw it, Apoc. K/ra x. 44, s^. ; 

c/ Rev. iii. 12, st/. ; UAk xii. 22. ° Tobil xiii. 16 ; \Vcl>er, 356, s^, 


3 Psalins of Solomon, xi. ; Thilo, ** Dc Exccrat,” 8, 9. 


* Apoc. Ezra xiii. 39, st/. s Book of Jubilees, i. ” bchucrcr, 456-7. 







Opinions were divided as to the position which the 

Gentiles should occupy in the Messianic kingdom. 

Many believed that they would be put under the yoke, 

and that Israel would tread on their neck.^ But 

others thought that in those days the whole heathen 

world would be converted, that all their eyes would 

be opened to see what was good, and that the im- 

mortal God would rule the world according to one 

Divine law.^ 


In the expectation of the Jews the Messianic era 

corresponded in many particulars to the golden age 

of which the poets of antiquity loved to sing. It was 

to be a period when nature should display a truly 

miraculous fruitfulness. At that time manna shall 

again descend from heaven 3 and the air be filled with 

fragrant odours. Abundance of wheat and wine and 

olives shall spring from the fruitful earth. Milk, oil, 

and honey shall always be plenteous in the homes of 

men. Multitudes of sheep and oxen shall pasture on 

the luxuriant grass.4 The vine which is planted in 

the earth ” shall bear fruit in abundance and of every 

seed that is sown in it shall one measure bear ten 

thousand and one measure of olives shall produce 

presses of oil.”^ “In one vine shall be a thousand 

branches, and one branch shall produce a thousand 

bunches and one bunch shall produce a thousand 

grapes.” ^ In that golden era the wild beasts shall 

lose their ferocity and submit themselves to man. 


Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 32 ; ” Assumption of Moses,” x. 8. 

‘ ‘* Sib. Orac,” iv. 776, r/. v. 573. Enoch xc. 30, s^, 

3 Apoc. Baruch xxix. * ” Sib. Orac,” iv. 616, j^., r/. 743, s^, 


5 Enoch X. 19. * Apoc. Baruch xxix. 






The wolf and the lamb shall eat grass together on the 

mountains, serpents, scorpions, and other noxious 

reptiles shall lose their fangs, and carnivorous beasts 

shall change their nature and pasture like oxen in the 



The peace which shall then come over the face of 

nature shall also be manifested among men. Neither 

war nor the sound of battle shall vex the earth, and 

kings shall live in harmony with one another till the 

end of time.2 ” And judgments and accusations and 

contentions, and vengeance and blood and passions, 

and envy and hatred, and whatsoever things are like 

these, shall go away into condemnation when they 

have been removed. For these are the things that 

have filled the world with evils, and on account of 

these things the life of men has been greatly dis- 

turbed.” Health and length of days shall follow in 

the train of peace. ” Health shall descend like dew, 

infirmity shall retire, and anxiety and distress and 

groaning shall pass away from men.” 3 ” The children 

of men shall become older from generation to genera- 

tion, and from day to day till their lifetime approaches 

a thousand years. And there shall be none old or 

weary of life, but they shall all be like children and 

boys, and shall finish all their days in peace and glad- 

ness, and shall live without a Satan or any other evil 

destroyer being present ; for all their days shall be 

da\s of blessing and healing.” 4 ” No man shall die 

prematurely or without having fulfilled the legitimate 


* “Orac. Sib.,” iv. 785, sq. ; Philo, ” De F^rcemiis et Pcrnis,” xv. 


= ” Ornc. Sil>.,” iv. 750, jy., r/. ill, 743, s,/. 


3 Ajx)C. IJaruch Ixxiii. ^ Book of Jul)) lees, xxiii. 






end of his being among those men who observe the 

laws, nor shall such fail to reach the age which God 

has allotted to the race of man. But the human 

being proceeding upwards from childhood as it were 

by the different stages of a ladder, and at the 

appointed periods of time fulfilling the regularly- 

determined boundaries of each age, will eventually 

arrive at the last of all, that which is near to death or 

rather to immortality ; being really and truly happy 

in his old age, leaving behind him a house happy in 

numerous and virtuous children in his own place.^ 


Many of the Jews believed that the Messianic 

kingdom would endure for ever. This belief was 

based on the utterances of Old Testament prophecy, 

and was no doubt greatly popularized in the time of 

Christ by the saying of Daniel, ” His dominion is an 

everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and 

His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” ^ A 

similar conviction is expressed in the Sibylline Books, 

the Psalms of Solomon, and the Book of Jubilees. 

In the last-mentioned work the following promise is 

made to Jacob respecting the duration of the Mes- 

sianic kingdom, ” To thy seed will I give the whole 

earth which is under heaven, and they shall rule as 

they please over all peoples, and accordingly they 

shall draw the whole earth to themselves and inherit 

it for ever.** 3 How widely spread was the idea of the 

eternal nature of the Messianic reign is fully seen in 

the Gospel of St. John, where the people say, ” We 

have heard out of the Law that Christ abideth for 


‘ Philo, ” De Proem, et Poenis,” xviii. 


” Dan. vii. 14. ^ Book of Jubilees, xxxii. 






ever.” » Side by side with these conceptions there 

also existed another current of thought which limited 

the Messianic kingdom to a certain number of years.^ 

Some believed it would last till this world of corrup- 

tion came to an end, but did not venture to predict 

when that end would be. Others were more definite. 

On the supposition that a thousand years is reckoned 

by God as one day, many believed that the Messianic 

kingdom should endure a thousand years. The cal- 

culation of others was based on the time spent by 

Israel in Egypt, and this limited thp Messiah’s reign 

to four hundred years, after which it was supposed 

that he and all men should die. One rabbi said that 

the kingdom would last forty years, the time assigned 

to Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, and another, 

supporting himself by a passage in Isaiah, was equally 

confident that this glorious epoch would continue 

seventy years.3 But when the Messianic reign came 

to a termination, all agreed that it would be followed 

by a general resurrection of the dead and the pro- 

nouncing of a final judgment upon men.4 


It was under the inspiration of these astounding 

visions, and in order, as they imagined to realize them, 

that the Jews persisted with such blind tenacity in 

their hopeless conflict with Rome. 


* John xii. 34. ‘ Apoc. Baruch xl. 3. 

3 Hamburger, ” Real-Ency.,” if. 775. 


* Pfleiderer, *’ Das Urchristenthum,” 347. 






While under Roman domination Palestine pos- 

sessed an importance altogether out of proportion 

either to the size of its territory, the number of its 

inhabitants, or even to the fact of its being a great 

military highway between Asia Minor and North- 

eastern Africa. It acquired this position of import- 

ance in consequence of the large Jewish population 

which at that time existed in all the great commercial 

centres of the ancient world. The number of Jews 

outside Palestine was probably greater than the popu- 

lation of Palestine itself. These emigrants, Jews of 

the Dispersion as they were called, often rich and 

influential .as well as numerous, were capable of 

making their power felt in the courts of emperors 

and kings. All the Jews, scattered up and down the 

Persian and Roman Empires, continued to retain a 

profound affection for the Holy Land. Jerusalem was 

the common centre of the race ; ‘ the Temple on 

• Philoin Flaccum, 7, 






Mount Sion was the visible symbol of their common 

faith ; the decrees of the Sanhedrin were recognized 

as binding upon all, and the Temple tax paid by Jews 

of all ranks and conditions of life, in all parts of the 

world, impressed them with the consciousness of 

their national unity. At this epoch, religious and 

patriotic feelings were indissolubiy blended together ; 

they were also kept alive by pilgrimages to the home 

of their fathers and the sanctuary of their God. 

Many disintegrating forces were at work in the first 

century of our era to break up the unity of the Jewish 

race. Among the educated in the West, Greek 

thought had undermined the ancient basis of their 

faith, and almost the only thing they had in common 

with the fanatical population of Jud.-ca was an out- 

ward adhesion to its external forms. The Jews, both 

in Palestine and abroad, had ceased to speak the 

language of their sacred books, and when coming to 

Jerusalem as pilgrims they were unable to understand 

each other, and found themselves in a city containing 

a Babel of tongues. But notwithstanding these dis- 

cordant and repelling influences, the Jews clung 

steadfastly to one another, and in face of opposition 

from the Gentile world they felt and acted as one. 

It was this intense cohesion of the Jewish race 

which made Palestine so formidable to the Roman 



The existence of these powerful Jewish communi- 

ties in different parts of the world is attributable 

to various causes. After the break up of the old 

Israelitish kingdom, a great num,bcr of Jews were 

forcibly deported from Palestine, and many of them 



















never returned. When Palestine fell into the hands 

of Alexander the Great and his marshals, this event 

was followed by emigration from Judaea on an exten- 

sive scale. It was part of the policy of these rulers 

to found new cities, and to bring about the amalga- 

mation of the mixed nationalities over whom they 

ruled. All the inhabitants of these new cities were 

accorded equal rights and privileges. The Jews 

largely availed themselves of these advantages, and in 

the first century of the present era all the commercial 

centres of Northern Africa, the East of Europe, and 

Western Asia were thronged with Jewish traders 

and merchants. ” In this way,” says Philo, “J^J’^salem 

became the capital, not only of Judsea, but of many 

other lands, on account of the colonies which it sent 

out from time to time into the bordering districts of 

Egypt, Phcenicia, Syria, Coelo-Syria, and into the 

more distant regions of Pamphylia Cilicia, the greater 

part of Asia Minor as far as Bithynia, and the 

remotest corners of Pontus. And in like manner 

into Europe ; into Thessaly, and Boeotia, and Mace- 

donia, and iEtolia, and Attica, and Argos, and Corinth, 

and into the most fertile and fairest parts of the 

Peloponnesus. And not only is the continent full of 

Jewish colonists, but also the most important islands, 

such as Eubcea, Cyprus, and Crete. I say nothing of 

the countries beyond the Euphrates. All of them, 

except a very small portion, and Babylon, and all the 

satrapies which contain fruitful land, have Jewish 

inhabitants.” ‘ The incorporation of Palestine into the 

Roman commonwealth by Pompey had also a power- 


‘ Philo, •* Leg. ad Caium/* 36. 






fill effect in increasing the numbers of the Dispersion. 

Not only did the conqueror carry off many Jewish 

captives to Rome itself, but the result of his conquest 

was to open up the vast dominions of the empire to 

the Jewish trader, and henceforth Jewish colonies 

began to spring up and multiply in the West of 

Europe. Thus it came to pass that, partly by forcible 

deportation, and partly by voluntary emigration, every 

land and every sea, as the ” Sibylline Oracles ” say, was 

filled with Jews.^ 


We are informed by Josephus that, in Babylonia 

and Mesopotamia, the Jewish population was not to 

be counted by thousands, but by millions.^ There is 

nothing remarkable in this statement when it is re- 

membered that only members of the tribes of Judah 

and Benjamin returned to Jerusalem after the days 

of captivity had come to an end.3 Most of these 

Eastern Jews dwelt in and around the fortified cities 

of Naarda and Nisibis in Mesopotamia,4 So power- 

ful were they that the Romans deemed it prudent not 

to provoke their enmity, and they constituted a 

serious danger to Trajan in his campaign against 

the Parthians.5 But the Jews were even more 

numerous in Syria than in the regions watered by the 

Tigris and the Euphrates. At the time of the great 

war with Rome from ten to eighteen thousand Jews 

were massacred in Damascus alone. An immense 

Jewish population inhabited Antioch, the Syrian 


‘ ” Oracula Sibyllini” (J. H. Friedlieb), liL 271. 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant. ,” xi. 5. 2. 


3 Ibid., ** Ant.,” xi. 5. 2 ; Ezra iv. 13. 39, s^, 


* Hamburger, ii. 85?. 


5 Philo, ** Leg. ad Caium,”3i ; Marquardt, i. 435, s^. 






capital, and Jewish colonies were thickiy planted in 

other parts of the country. In Antioch they possessed 

full civil rights, and the great splendour of their 

synagogue in that city was an outward token of their 

material prosperity.’ The provinces of Asia Minor 

were also densely populated with Jews, and wherever 

Christian missionaries went they were certain to find 

Jewish synagogues and a Jewish community. In 

Bithynia, Phrygia, Lydia, and Pontus, there were 

Jewish settlements, and some of the Dispersion had 

even wandered as far as the Crimea.^ 


In the first century Egypt contained a Jewish com- 

munity numbering about a million souls.3 After the 

fall of the southern kingdom and the destruction of 

the first temple by Nebuchadnezzar, many Jews fled 

from Palestine to the valley of the Nile. When the 

great Macedonian conqueror founded Alexandria, in 

the fourth century before Christ, large numbers of 

Jews took up their abode in the new city, which was 

afterwards to become a rival in greatness to Athens 

and Rome. Two of the five quarters into which 

Alexandria was divided were chiefly inhabited by 

Jews. Here many of them rose to eminence as 

merchants, magistrates, poets, and philosophers, and 

the proud position which Alexandria occupied in the 

ancient world was in no small degree owing to the 

genius and ability of its Jewish inhabitants. The 

Jews in Egypt enjoyed equal rights with their Greek 

fellow-citizens, and continued to possess the favour of 


‘ Josephus, *’ Bell. Jud.,” vii. 3. 3 ; vii. 8. 7 ; cf. li. 20. 


” Philo, ** Leg. ad Caium,” 33 ; Acts xviii. 2 ; r/. Schuerer, ii. 499 


3 Philoj in Flaccum, vi. 




IN EGYPT. 381 


the Greek kings of Egypt till these monarchs finally 

passed away before the power of Rome. Under the 

new order of things the Jews were permitted to retain 

their ancient privileges, and Augustus, at the close of 

his successful struggle with Antony, rewarded them 

for their devotion to his cause. It has always been 

the misfortune of the Jews to arouse the hatred of 

the populations among whom they lived, and this was 

also the case at Alexandria. In the time of Caligula 

the animosity which existed between the Jewish and 

Gentile sections of the Alexandrian populace cul- 

minated in tumult and bloodshed. The Jews were’ 

driven out of every quarter of the city except 

one; their buildings and property were d^*^royed; 

Flaccus, the Roman viceroy, openly sided with the 

opponents of the Jews, and cast many of the most 

eminent Jewish citizens into prison. Caligula made this 

anarchial state of things still worse by ordering the 

Jews to erect his statue in their places of worship, and 

it was not till the accession of Claudius that the Jews 

regained their privileges and repose. Later on, in the 

reigns of Vespasian and Trajan, the Jews of Alexan- 

dria made common cause with other portions of their 

co-religionists who had revolted against Roman rule. 

On each occasion they were unsuccessful, and the 

insurrections in which they participated were drowned 

in blood.^ 


Cyrene, another town in the north of Africa, con- 

tained many Jews, and there are traces of Jewish 

settlements all along the southern coasts of the 


* Hamburger, ii. 47. 






Mediterranean.’ According to Josephus and the 

Acts of the Apostles there were Jews in Crete and 

Cyprus, and St. Paul in his wanderings found Jewish 

synagogues in all the important cities of Greece. 

Jewish inscriptions have been discovered in Athens, 

and Jewish colonists even dwelt in the small islands 

which are dotted over the iCgean Sea.^ 


As may be imagined, such a migratory people 

flocked in large numbers to Rome itself.3 No less 

than five Jewish cemeteries have been discovered 

on the site of ancient Rome, and some of them 

date back to the second century of the Christian 

era.4 Besides the Jewish captives taken to Rome 

by Pompey, most of whom were soon liberated on 

account of their peculiar customs, there must have 

been numbers who settled in the great rapital of their 

own free-will. Roman Jews listened to the oratory 

of Cicero, and mourned over the corpse of Casar.s 

In the reign of Augustus eight thousand Roman 

Jews accompanied a deputation from Palestine to 

complain of the government of the country.^ Under 

the influence of Sejanus, Tiberius banished them from 

Rome, sending four thousand to Sardinia to suppress 

brigandage in that island. Josephus ascribes this 

action of the emperor to the fact that some Jewish 

impostors had succeeded in swindling a Roman 

matron named Fulvia who was favourably disposed 

towards Judaism. But it is more probable that he 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiv. 7. 2 ; Acts ii. 10 ; Schuerer, ii. 503. 

I Mace. XV. 23 ; Schuerer, ii. 504. 


3 C/. Hudson, ** History of the Jews in Rome.” * Schuerer, ii. 51a 

5 Cicero pro Fiacco, 28 ; Suetonius, ” Caesar,’* S4. 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xviii. 11. i. 






used this incident as a pretext for putting a stop 

to the proselytizing propaganda which the Jews at 

Rome were then prosecuting with so much success, 

especially among the female members of the Roman 

aristocracy.’ The measures of TiberiuS, however, 

were not permanently successful, and Jews were once 

more established in their old quarter beyond the 

Tiber during the reign of the next emperor, Caligula. 

Claudius, his successor, issued an edict soon after his 

accession to the throne granting complete toleration 

to all Jews within his dominions, but he was after- 

wards compelled, on account of the tumultuous pro- 

ceedings at their assemblies, to forbid them meeting 

together in the capital.* Under succeeding emperors 

the Jews of Rome had sometimes to pass through 

periods of trial and persecution, but as a rule they 

only shared this fate with other subjects of the 

empire, and no record remains of any further at- 

tempts to drive them from the city. 


What position before the law did the Jews occupy 

in the different provinces of the Roman Empire ? In 

Rome itself some of them had acquired the coveted 

right of citizenship,3 and many of the provincial Jews 

were also Roman citizens. Jews who were Roman 

citizens are mentioned as dwelling in Ephesus, Sardes, 

Delos, and other towns of Asia Minor.4 Some Jews 

of Jerusalem also possessed this honour ; but it must 

have been of peculiar value to the Jewish population 

who lived outside Palestine, and were often exposed 


» Tacitus, “Annals,” ii. 85; Suetonius, “Tiberius,” 36. 


* Dio Cassius, Ix. 6 ; Acts xviii. 2 and Suetonius (” Claudius,” xxv.), 

say he expelled them. ^ philo, *’ Leg. ad Caium,” 23. 


* Josephus, ** Ant.,” xiv. 10. 13, s^. 






to the bitte. animosity of the Gentiles. At times 

when religious and national antipathies ran high it 

would be difficult for the Jew who was not a Roman 

citizen to be sure of justice. Armed with this privi- 

lege he could if he chose have his case, whether it 

was civil or criminal, adjudicated upon by Roman 

judges. He had thus a reasonable assurance that his 

cause would be removed from the arena of passion 

and prejudice, and judged entirely upon its merits. 

A Jew in this favoured position had always the right 

of appeal to the imperial tribunal at Rome, and even 

if he were convicted by Roman magistrates of a 

criminal offence, he was exempted from the igno- 

minious punishments of scourging and crucifixion.^ 


Unless a Jew was a Roman citizen he only enjoyed 

the privileges accorded to a stranger in the ancient cities 

of the provinces. At Cyrene and Ephesus and a few 

towns on the Ionian coast the Jewish communities 

settled there had managed to obtain equal civil rights 

from theif Macedonian rulers,^ but it was exceptional 

for Jews to possess these rights in cities founded before 

the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was part 

of the cosmopolitan policy of Alexander and his suc- 

cessors in Syria and Egypt to admit all the inhabi- 

tants of the new cities which sprang up after the 

Greek conquest of the East to equal rights and privi- 

leges. In this way the Jews of Alexandria and 

Antioch stood on a footing of perfect equality with 

their Greek fcllow-citizcns, and this state of things 

remained unaltered after these great capitals had 


‘ Winer, ” Real Worterbuch,” 1. 200. 


* Josephus, ” Apion,” ii. 4 ; ” Ant.,” xvi. 6. I, 






come under the dominion of Romc.^ Under the 

delirious reign of Caligula the Alexandrian Jews were 

for a brief period deprived of their ancient civic 

status, but it was restored to them by Claudius im- 

mediately after his accession to the throne.^ It is 

also a remarkable instance of Roman respect for 

established usages that notwithstanding the rebellious 

disposition of the Jewish community in different parts 

of the empire, the Romans continued to allow the 

Jews to retain their civic privileges in all those cities 

where they originally possessed them. After the 

destruction of Jerusalem the inhabitants of Antioch 

conceived that a favourable moment had arrived for 

getting the Jews deprived of their ancient privileges. 

The Roman general was exasperated with the whole 

nation, nevertheless when the people of Antioch 

brought forward their petition Titus refused to accede 

to its 


In addition to their other privileges and immunities 

under Roman rule the Jews of the Dispersion also 

enjoyed the right of meeting together — a right which 

was frequently denied to the Romans themselves 

after the establishment of the empire.** If worship 

in common at the synagogue was to exist at all it 

was indispensable that the Jews should have free per- 

mission to assemble on the Sabbath day. But this 

right of association was in many respects an immense 

concession on the part of Rome, and unless the 

empire had been extremely powerful it would have 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant.,” xii. 3. i. 


‘ Ibid., ** Ant.,” xix. 5. 2 ; Hamburger, ii. 50. 


3 Josephus, ‘• Ant.,” xii. 3. i. 


* Suclonius, *• Augustus,” 32 ; Josephus, *’ Ant.,” xiv. 10. 8. 






been attended with disastrous consequences. The 

distinction* which the modern world draws between 

spiritual and patriotic interests hardly existed in 

ancient times. Among the Jews of the first century 

religion and the sentiment of nationality were indis- 

solubly interfused ; it was not a mere religious sect 

that the Romans were permitting to exist and as- 

sociate for purposes of devotion ; it was likewise the 

members of a nation which at that particular time 

cherished exalted visions of one day dominating the 

world. It is indubitable that these visions of world- 

wide empire for the Jewish race were frequently 

fanned by the teachings of the synagogue. Some 

of the Jewish insurrections which burst out in several 

parts of the empire with such uncontrollable and san- 

guinary fury are to be attributed to the abuse by the 

Jews of the right of association. Nowhere is it re- 

corded that the Romans withdrew this privilege, 

much as they must have been tempted to do so by 

the turbulent conduct of the people who enjoyed it 

On the contrary, Judaism, in spite of its dangerous 

tendencies towards the public peace, continued to be 

treated by the Romans in the words of Tertullian as 

a ” religio licita ” ; it had a regular and valid legal 

status, and the favourable treatment which the Jews 

received in comparison with the Christians is attested 

by the fact that it was no uncommon thing for the 

latter in times of persecution to profess the Jewish 



The Jews of the Dispersion were also permitted by 

the Romans to establish tribunals of their own for 


* Eusebius, ” Hist.,” vi. 12. i. 






adjudicating upon all matters pertaining to the wel- 

fare of the community.^ The Mosaic Law, with the 

innumerable traditions that had grown up around it, 

embraced every department of life ; it was a civil 

as well as a religious code ; all parts of it were equally 

binding upon the faithful Jew, and certain definite 

pains and penalties were attached to the transgression 

of its provisions. Over and above obedience to the 

law of the land the Jews were also amenable to their 

own law. The interpretation of this law required 

a special tribunal, and the Romans not only allowed 

this tribunal extensive powers, but also supported its 

decisions with the imperial executive. Some of the 

scourgings to which St Paul was subjected were no 

doubt inflicted on him by order of Jewish tribunals. 

Being a Jew he was under the jurisdiction of the 

Jewish courts, and it was only in his capacity as a 

Roman citizen that he could appeal against their 

decisions. In all disputes in which only Jews were 

concerned, and in all matters relating to the internal 

organization of the sect, the Romans appear to have 

given the Jewish courts full powers of action. These 

powers included the right of fining, imprisonment, 

and scourging, but probably the Romans reserved 

to themselves among the Dispersion, as well as in 

Palestine, the authority to pronounce a sentence of 

death. Where Gentile interests were involved a 

Jewish tribunal was of course incompetent to act, 

and in all cases where a Jew became a disturber 

of the public peace he would be dealt with by the 

imperial authorities. 


‘ Josephus, ” Ant,” xiv. 7. 2, xiv. 10. 17 ; c/. Acts ix. 2, xviii., sg. 






Finally, the Jews of the Dispersion were permitted 

by the Roman authorities to collect the Temple tax 

and transmit it to Jerusalem. The annual trans- 

mission of large sums of money to the Temple 

treasury was a serious grievance to many of the pro- 

vincials, who considered that their cities were being 

impoverished by the loss of gold which the Temple 

tax entailed. It is certain that the Jews in several 

cities would not have been allowed to send the pro- 

ceeds of this tax to the Holy City unless they had 

been under the tolerant rule of Roman law. As it 

was, the provincials of Cyrene and Asia Minor re- 

quired to be warned by imperial decree not to interfere 

with the Jews in the matter of this tax, and one edict 

declared that to touch money dedicated to the Temple 

would be treated as robbery of the Temple itself.’ 

The Romans also respected Jewish susceptibilities 

on the subject of the Sabbath day. On that day 

a Jew could not be summoned to appear before an 

ordinary court of justice,^ and if the public distribu- 

tion of money or corn happened to fall on the Sabbath, 

it was decreed by Augustus that the Jews should 

receive their portion on the following day.^ On 

account of the restrictions imposed on them by the 

Sabbath, the Jews were also exempted from military 

service in the legions.4 


Excepting Caligula, whose insistence on the cult 

of the Ccesars was fatal to the fundamental principle 

of Judaism — the unity of God — none of the emperors 


‘ Josephiis, ** Ant.,” xvi. 6. 2, sq. ; ” Roll. Jud.,** vi. 6. 2. 


» Ibid., ” Ant.,” xvi. 6. 2. J Philo, ‘* Leg. ad Caium,” 62. 


* Josephus, “Ant.,” xiv. 10. 6, sq. 






seriously interfered with the privileges of the Jews. 

Owing to a misunderstanding respecting the nature 

of circumcision, which was confounded with certain 

pernicious practices of mutilation, a law forbidding 

this rite came into operation in the reign of Hadrian. 

This law had the purification of morals as its object, 

and was not in the remotest degree aimed at religious 

belief,’ but it was naturally regarded by the Jews as 

a direct attack upon their faith. Antoninus Pius 

repealed the law in so far as it affected the children 

of Jewish parents ; it only continued to remain in 

force against those citizens who were bent on cm- 

bracing Judaism. In the reign of Scvcrus it was 

made a penal offence to openly become a Jew, and 

some of the Christian emperors legislated in the same 

spirit. But all these measures were dictated by poh*- 

tical considerations. The Romans learned from 

experience that the Jews were indifferent subjects ; 

that they created a community within the community; 

that they lived in a state of perpetual friction with 

their non-Jewish fellow-citizens, and were ready to 

take up arms against the empire itself in defence 

of ideas and customs which had little or no meaning 

to the practical Roman mind. 


Very little information has come down to us 

respecting the internal organization of the Jewish 

communities of the Dispersion. At Antioch there 

was an archon of the Jews, and at Alexandria the 

head of the Jewish population was called an cthnarch.^ 


‘ Sparlian, *’ Hadrian,” 14; Mommscn, *’ Rcinii-chc deschichte,” v. 




“^ Josephus, ** Bell. Jud.,” vii. 3. 3 ; ** Ant.,” xiv. 7. 2. 






It is probable that the Jews possessed the right of 

nominating the ethnarch, but his nomination would 

require to be confirmed by the imperial authorities. 

The duties of this official were both administrative 

and judicial, and within his own jurisdiction he had 

many of the prerogatives of an independent prince. 

After a time Augustus apparently replaced the 

ethnarch by a council of elders ; this council was not 

appointed by the Jews, but by the emperor himself, 

and it very probably acquired most of the powers 

that were formerly vested in the ethnarch. Whether 

this council, like the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, was 

composed of seventy members is unknown. The 

only trustworthy reference to its numbers is contained 

in the statement of Philo that thirty-eight elders of 

the council were scourged when Flaccus was viceroy 

of Egypt.^ At Rome the Jewish community was or- 

ganized on a different principle from the Alexandrian. 

It had neither a supreme council nor an ethnarch. 

It was split up into as many divisions as there were 

synagogues, and each synagogue was an independent 

unit managing its own affairs and appointing its own 

officers. The interests of the synagogue were looked 

after by a council ; at the head of this council was a 

president ; the president was assisted in his duties 

by a committee of the council called archons, and the 

members of this committee had to be re-elected once 

a year. It does not appear that any of these officers 

were recognized by the State, or possessed any 


‘ Philo- in Flaccum, lo ; Hamburger (ii. 48) thinks the council 

at Alexandria was composed of seventy members, but this statement 

is unsupported by contemporary evidence. 






authority other than that which was willingly con- 

ceded to them by the Jewish community.^ 


Among the Jews of the Dispersion the visible bond 

and centre of unity for all classes and sections of the 

community was the synagogue. The habit which this 

people had acquired during the Babylonian captivity 

of meeting together at regular intervals to hear the 

words of the Law and the exhortations of the prophets 

was a habit which they ever afterwards retained. 

Into whatever quarter of the world a little band of 

J *ws might be tempted to wander, it became their 

invariable custom to meet together on the Sabbath 

day for purposes of religious instruction and edifica- 

tion. Sometimes when the number of settlers was 

too small, or the colony was too poor, they would 

assemble in each other’s houses, but as soon as suffi- 

cient funds had been collected it was the practice to 

erect a synagogue. In this way it came to pass that 

synagogues were to be found in almost every place 

of any consequence throughout the Roman Empire.* 

Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Caesarea, 

Antioch, all contained synagogues,^ and there were 

many synagogues in such cities as Alexandria, 

Damascus, and Rome.4 In Rome, and very likely 

in other places where synagogues were numerous, 

it was usual for each synagogue to have a distinctive 

name, and just as Christian churches are known by 

the name of some patron saint so were many Jewish 


* Cf. Schuerer, “Die Gemeindeverfassung der Juden in Rom.,” 

Leipzig, 1879. 


‘ Philo, ** De Septenario,’* 6. 3 Acts xiii. 14 ct passim, 


* Philo, ** Leg. ad Caium,” 20, sq. 






synagogues in Rome at least known by the name of 

some distinguished patron or protector of the race.* 


In what language was the religious service of the 

synagogue conducted among the Jews of the Roman 

Empire outside Palestine ? On this matter it is im- 

possible to speak with certainty. It may have been 

that the lessons from the Old Testament and the 

liturgical portion of the service were first read in 

Hebrew, and then for the edification of the hearers 

translated into Greek. Or it may have been — and 

this supposition is more probable — that only one or 

two Hebrew prayers were used, and that all the other 

parts of the service were performed in Greek.^ In 

any case, it is certain that the Greek translation of 

the Bible was made use of in the synagogues ; this 

is expressly stated by several of the early Christian 

apologists.3 This translation was also better known 

to the Jews of the Dispersion than the original 

Hebrew ; otherwise it is hardly likely St Paul would 

have quoted from it in writing to Christian converts, 

many of whom must at one time have been Jews. 


Just as the synagogue was a local centre for a par- 

ticular community, so was the Temple at Jerusalem a 

general centre for the whole Jewish race. Here pilgrims 

coming from all parts of the civilized world were 

accustomed to meet each other. Philo says they 

came by tens of thousands by land and sea from the 

north and from the south, from the east and from the 

west, and Joscphus, in exagi^^crated language, reckons 


* For instance, the synac;ogues of Augustus and Agrippa. 

‘ lightfoot, ” Horvx; Hcbiaicce” I Cor. xiv. 2, and Addenda to 

same chapter. 


3 Justin, *’ Apol(^a,** i. 31 ; Tertullian, ” Apologia,” 8. 






these pilgrims by the million.^ Some of them came 

on behalf of the community among which they lived 

to pay the temple tribute ; others came to witness the 

solemn sacrifices on the altar, and as an act of devo- 

tion to their God. A common meeting-place, such as 

Jerusalem then was for Jews from all quarters of. the 

world, had unquestionably a unifying effect upon the 

race, and when each band of pilgrims returned to their 

home among the Gentiles they would carry back with 

them a more ardent enthusiasm for their people and 

their faith. 


The warm affection entertained by the Jews outside 

the Holy Land for the beliefs and customs of their 

fathers, did not enable them’ to escape the powerful 

influence of Gentile ideas. Surrounded in the cities 

where they had settled by a heathen population, 

mixing in some places in the affairs of public life 

speaking the language of Greece, and educated in its 

literature and philosophy, the Jews in the Roman 

Empire would have been more than human if they 

had not fallen into Gentile ways of thought. Even 

the Jews of Palestine, with the advantage of com- 

parative isolation from the great world, could not 

entirely shut out Western influences ; it is not sur- 

prising therefore that their co-religionists among the 

Gentiles were, to a great extent, submerged in them. 

Among the Hellenic Jews, historians, poets, and 

philosophers arose, whose minds had been formed by 

the great masterpieces of Greece, and who followed 

the footsteps of Greek writers, both in their style and 

modes of thought. These Hellenizcd Jews pursued a 


* Philo, ” De Monarchia,” ii. I ; Josephus, ” Bell. Jud.,” vi. 9. 3. 













twofold object ; they aimed, on the one hand, at so 

modifying Judaism as to make it more attractive to 

the Gentiles, while, on the other hand, they presented 

Gentile beliefs in such a guise to the Jewish mind 

that they assumed a remarkable affinity with many 

cherished doctrines of Judaism. The outcome of 

this harmonizing process was a strange compound 

which was neither Gentilism nor Judaism ; but it 

served to testify to the fact that men were then 

groping for some higher form of faith which would 

combine the elements of truth contained in both. 


These attempts at efifecting a fusion between Jewish 

and Hellenic ideas had begun at least two centuries 

before the Christian era, and reached their climax in 

the reign of the early Roman emperors. The funda- 

mental assumption on which the Jews proceeded was 

that the heathen had derived all their wisdom from 

the ancient Hebrew records, that all the learning and 

philosophy of Greece were contained in the Pentateuch 

and the prophets, and that the pagan divinities were 

only Jewish patriarchs disguised under foreign names. 

Accordingly the legend of Hercules was identified 

with the story of Abraham. Moses was the same 

person as Musaeus, the teacher of Orpheus ; he was 

worshipped by the Egyptians under the name of 

Thoth, and by the Greeks under the name of Mercury. 

He was the founder of Egyptian religion and civiliza- 

tion ; to him philosophy owed its origin ; and. the 

discovery of hieroglyphics, as well as the invention of 

shipbuilding, was the product of his genius.’ Her- 


* Eusebius, ‘* Praeparatio Evangelica,*’ ix. 27 ; Siegfried, ** Jahrbiicher 

fur Protestantische Theologie” (1886), 240. 






cules and the sons of Abraham went on expeditions 

together, and Abraham himself was a descendant of 

the giants who built the tower of Babel.^ The 

Mosaic Law only required to be philosophically 

interpreted, said the Hellenic Jews, in order to show 

that it contained every important truth enunciated by 

the great thinkers of Greece.^ 


The man who brought this process of assimilation 

to the highest pitch was Philo of Alexandria. Many 

others had preceded him in the task, but their labours 

have for the most part come down to us in fragments,3 

and he may be taken as the typical representative of 

a very prevalent condition of mind among the Hellenic 

Jews in the early days of the Roman Empire. Little 

is known of Philo’s personal history. He speaks of 

himself as being an old man at the time he went on 

an embassy to the Emperor Caligula, in the year 39 

A.D. It is, therefore, likely that he was born some few 

years before the Christian era. He was a native of 

Alexandria, and was descended from one of the most 

eminent Jewish families of the city. His education 

must have been watched over with the greatest care, 

for he had imbibed all the highest learning of the age. 

Philosophy was his greatest study. ” The encyclical 

sciences,” he says, “attracted me like beautiful slave 

girls, but I turned from them to the queen – Philo- 

sophy.” 4 Public life had no charms for him, and he 


* Euselnus, ‘* Prcxparatio Evangelica/’ ix. 20. 


* Clement of Alexandria, *’ Stromata,” v. 14 ; Kuenen, ** Religion of 

Israel,” iii. 191. 


^ Many of these frnpments are to be found in the works of Eusebius 

of Cx^sarea and Clement of Alexandria. 


* Philo, ‘* De Congressu,” Mangey’s edition, i. 550. 






complains when he is forced into the vortex of worldly 

and political cares. He had the reputation of being 

a man of lofty and unblemished character, and he 

passed through life with a noble disregard for its 

wealth, honours, and ambitions. The same high 

sentiments animated his wife ; when she was once 

spoken to about the simplicity of her attire, she 

answered that a husband’s virtue was sufficient orna- 

ment for a wifc.^ 


The manner in which Philo addressed himself to 

the task of reconciling Judaism and Greek thought 

consisted in giving an allegorical interpretation to 

the Mosaic Law. He was not the originator of this 

method of interpretation ; traces of it are to be found 

in the Old Testament itself ; it was practised by the 

Greeks ; ^ and it had been used by the Jews of Pales- 

tine and the Dispersion, long before Philo’s time. 

But no one before Philo had adopted this method on 

such an extensive scale. According to Philo, the 

allegorical interpretation of Scripture was justifiable, 

on the ground that many of the sacred narratives will 

not bear to be taken literally. He considers it, for in- 

stance, absurd that God literally required six days to 

create the world, or that he literally assumed a material 

shape when communicating His will to the ancient 

patriarchs.3 The form in which these narratives were 

clothed he regards as a concession to human weak- 

ness ; the form is only the external husk of Divine 

truths which lie concealed within. It is the task of 


‘ Keim, “Jesus of Nazara,’* i. 281. 


‘ Siegfried, ** Philo von Alexancirien,” 9, sq. 


3 Keim, •* Jesus of Nazara,” i. 285, 






the wise man to break open this husk, and to show 

the world what depths of heavenly wisdom lie un- 

folded in the simplest statements of Holy Writ The 

effect of this process was to deprive the old Hebrew 

records of their plain original meaning, and to import 

into them the conceptions of a later age. With 

Philo, the four rivers which flowed out of the Garden 

of Eden, become the four cardinal virtues.^ The 

personages in the Book of Genesis lose their individu- 

ality, and are transformed into mere types of character. 

Noah is a type of righteousness, Abraham is a symbol 

of acquired virtue, and Isaac of innate virtue. Adam 

is a type of pure reason, Eve of sensual perception, 

and Enoch of repentance. The names of countries 

assumed a new and profound significance in Philo’s 

hands ; Egypt, for example, meant spiritless life; and 

Chaldea, false knowledge.^ In the story of Jacob’s 

journey to Padanaram, it is recorded that he lay down 

to sleep at a certain place because the sun was set 

According to Philo, the sun is reason, the place is 

God, and Jacob is wisdom acquired by discipline ; 

the meaning of the passage being that man first 

attains Divine knowledge when the sun of human 

reason has set. The precepts of the Law were alle- 

gorized in the same manner. The Law forbids the 

use of camel’s flesh for food, because although this 

animal chews the cud, it has no divided hoof To 

chew the cud, according to Philo, is the symbol of 

memory; but the disciple of wisdom should not rely 


* Philo, ** Legum AUegoriarum,” liber i. i6l. 


‘ Lipsius, in ” Bibel-Lexikon,” ‘* Alexandrinische Religionsphilo- 

sophie,” i. 91; Kuenen, ** Religion of Israel,” iii. 196; Zeller, “Die 

Philosophic der Griechen,** iii. 2. 411. 






on memory unless it is accompanied by the divided 

hoof, which is a type of the difierence between good 

and evil.* 


These are only a few practical illustrations of 

Philo’s system of interpretation, but they are sufficient 

to exhibit the manner in which he went to work. 

Some of his explanations of the sacred text contain 

lofty and elevated ideas, and he frequently reaches 

heights of which the rabbis of Palestine had never 

dreamed. But neither the acuteness nor sublimity of 

his interpretations can conceal the fact that they are 

entirely foreign to the original meaning of the text, 

and can only be attached to it by a fanciful and 




elaborate ju^ling with words. Fhilo, it is hardly 

necessary to say, was not conscious that this was the 

case, he was acting in perfect good faith, and in his 

wildest flights truly believed that he was merely 

revealing the deeper significance of the Scripture 

records. Philo considered himself as a champion of 

the ancient faith of his people, but the symbolical 

processes in which he delighted was an infallible sign 

that its primitive simplicity no longer satisfied him. 

To place the symbolical meaning of circumcision 

Hanibu^er, ii. ji. 






above the positive injunction to perform the rite was 

certain finally to cause it to be dispensed with alto- 

gether. It was inevitable that people should ulti- 

mately cease to pay any heed to the positive com- 

mandments of the Mosaic Law, such as keeping the 

Sabbath, and abstaining from certain kinds of food 

when they were being constantly told that the highest 

value of these commandments did not consist in their 

outward observance, but in their symbolical meaning. 

The effects of Philo’s teaching was in all probability 

made manifest in one of his own nephews, Tiberius 

Alexander, who was for a short time the Roman pro- 

curator of Judaea, and had abandoned Judaism.* In 

fact, Philo’s compromise with Greek ideas was too 

forced and unnatural a product to afford permanent 

satisfaction to the ordinary human being. It was 

popular for a time ; it exercised an undoubted influ- 

ence on large numbers of the Jewish people, but 

towards the close of the first century its power over 

Judaism came to an end. Most of the Jews who felt 

the attractions of Greek modes of thought, were drawn 

into the early Church, and it was henceforth on 

Christianity that the writings of Philo exercised their 

power. And it is a remarkable circumstance that, 

whilst his ideas were acquiring a commanding position 

in the Church, his followers were being denounced as 

heretics in the synagogue.* 


The rabbis had good reason for distrusting Philo’s 

learned speculations. It has been well said that 


‘ Josephus, ** Ant.,” xx. 5. 2. 


‘ Harnack, ” Dogmengeschichtc,” i. 79; *’ Theologische Liteia- 

turzeitunR” (1889), No. 7, 173. 






probably no Jewish writer has done so much as Philo 

to impair the exclusiveness of Judaism and to break 

it up. “While literally believing the history of his 

people, he mainly treated it as a didactic and alle- 

gorical poem, intended to inculcate the doctrine that 

it is by mortification of the senses man acquires 

an insight into God. For this purpose he regarded 

the laws of Moses as the best guide ; but as it was 

indisputably possible to attain the end in view without 

those laws, they lost their absolute value, and had 

besides their object outside themselves. Philo’s God 

was no longer the old living God of Israel, but an 

unsubstantial abstraction of the mind, and required a 

Logos to become a force in the world. Israel was thus 

bereft of its Palladium, the unity of God.” ^ 


Notwithstanding the fatal concessions of Philo and 

the allegorical school, the Jews continued to be 

looked upon with contempt by the educated world 

of Greece and Rome. The claim of the race to an 

honourable and remote antiquity was treated with 

ridicule. Instead of being the teachers of Plato and 

the Greek philosophers, they were nothing but 

descendants of the dregs of the Egyptian populace. 

Moses was merely an Egyptian priest attached to the 

temple of Heliopolis, and when he led his people 

into Palestine they were simply a despicable rabble, 

consisting of the blind, the lame, and the leprous. 

All the fine reasons adduced by such men as Philo 

for keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest were brushed 

aside ; it was asserted that this day was observed out 

of a spirit of indolence, and that its origin was to be 


* Siegfried, *’ Philo von Alexandrien,” 159, 






traced to a sore disease the Jews had contracted in 

the Wilderness.! It was preposterous for the Jews to 

assert that the gifts of civilization had been made the 

common property of the world through their instru- 

mentality ; what, it was asked, had they done for art, 

literature, or science? Some even hinted that the 

Jews offered human sacrifice and worshipped the head 

of an ass.2 But the most serious charges against 

them were accusations of atheism ^ and exclusiveness. 

All the deities of Greece and Rome were represented 

in the temples in a plastic form, and it was incon- 

ceivable to these two peoples that the Jews should 

have no visible representation of their object of 

worship. Matters were made worse by the hostile 

attitude of the Jews towards the heathen divinities. 

Heathendom was perfectly prepared to recognize the 

Jewish God, and to assign him a place in its pantheon, 

why then, it was said, should not the Jews be equally 

willing to respect the gods of heathendom ? The 

gods of Rome had proved themselves more powerful 

in battle than the God of Israel, as was manifest from 

the Roman conquest of Palestine. Accordingly, the 

persistent hatred of the Jews for other gods, coupled 

with the fact that they had no visible divinity of their 

own, led many of the ancients to conclude that this 

people must be atheists. The accusation of exclu- 

siveness had a better foundation than the charge of 

atheism, and was based upon a nobler sentiment. 


‘ Josephus, “Apion,” ii. 2 ; Juvenal, “Sat.” xiv. 105; Tacitus, 

*’ Hist.,” V. 3. ‘ Josephus, *• Apion, “ii. 7. 9, 12, 14. 


3 Ibid., ” Apion,” ii. 6; Pliny, *’ Hist. Nat..” xiii. 4. 46; Tacitus, 

•’ Hist.,” V. 5. 






Rome in her triumphant career of conquest had 

broken down the barriers of nationality, and the free 

intercourse of races which ensued had given an accele- 

rated impulse to the growing idea that all men ought 

to meet together in a fraternal spirit on the wide plat- 

form of their common manhood. The Jew repudiated 

these ideas of human brotherhood. He prided himself 

upon being a member of a chosen people ; he lived 

within the charmed circle of Divine grace ; the 

heathen were outside of it ; they had no share in 

the inheritance of Abraham’s children, and should be 

shunned as unclean. At a former period of their 

history this exclusive spirit was justifiable on the part 

of the Jews, for it was by means of it that they were 

able to preserve intact the precious heritage of their 

religious beliefs ; but under the Roman Empire the 

necessity for this attitude of exclusiveness had de- 

parted, and it became, as the educated heathen truly 

observed, a hateful and anti-human feature in the 

life of the race.’ 


Some of these attacks upon the Jews were openly 

met by such writers as Philo and Josephus,’ but tactics 

of a more covert description were also resorted to. In 

the first century of the Christian era and the one 

immediately preceding it, it was a very common 

device for men who wished to obtain a hearing or to 

further the interests of a cause, to hide the authorship 




* Of the Jews Tacitus (**Hist.,” v. 5) says, **Apud ipsos fides 

obstinata iiiiscricordia in promptu, sed adversus omnes alius hostile 



a Philo, nepl*Iov8atojy (c/. Eusebius, “Hist. Ecc,” li. 18.6; 

” Prap. Evang.,” viii. 2) ; Josephus conira Apionem. 






of their productions and put forward their ideas under 

the cloak of some distinguished name. Books were 

put into circulation bearing the names of mythical 

personages or of people who had never written a line, 

and their contents were read as proceeding from the 

persons whose names they bore. The literary produc- 

tions of yesterday were passed off as writings of the 

greatest antiquity ; verses were forged in the names 

of Homer, or the Greek tragedians, which were not 

poetry at all, and some of the most famous philoso- 

phers had writings fathered upon them, the contents 

of which were in direct antagonism to all their 

genuine works.^ The immense value of these arti- 

fices was quickly appreciated by the Jews. It was 

difficult for them to gain a hearing in their own 

name, and so they adopted the expedient of defending 

themselves and propagating their faith under cover 

of the illustrious personages of antiquity. Heathen 

kings were made to take a profound interest in the 

Jewish Scriptures ; heathen poets were made to bear 

witness to the sublimity of the Jewish faith, and 

heathen oracles were made to predict a mighty 

destiny for the Jewish race. 


One of these pious frauds is an account of the 

translation of the Mosaic Law into Greek. In order 

to magnify the value of this translation in the eyes of 

the heathen world a certain unknown Jew, long after 

the event, concocted a wonderful story of the almost 

miracuk>us manner in which the Greek version of this 

part of the Old Testament came into existence. He 

clothed his tale in the form of a letter purporting to 


‘ E. Zeller, ” Vortrage und Abhandlungen,*’ i. 298. 






have been written about the middle of the third 

century before our era by Aristeas, a high official in 

the service of Ptolemy Philadelphus the second, king 

of Egypt In this fictitious letter Aristeas tells his 

brother Philocrates how Ptolemy was informed by his 

librarian that he had no copy of the Jewish Law in his 

great library at Alexandria. Being apprized of its 

Divine origin and philosophic importance, the king 

was most desirous to have a translation of the. sacred 

record. With this end in view he sent two ambassa- 

dors, one of whom was Aristeas, to Jerusalem. On 

his arrival in the Holy City Aristeas, in the name 

of the king, presented Eleazar the high priest with 

many valuable gifts, and asked him to send a certain 

number of skilled interpreters to Egypt to translate 

the Law. Eleazar complied with the request, and 

seventy -two scribes were selected, six from each of 

the twelve tribes of Israel. While at Jerusalem 

Aristeas came to know the true nature of the Jewish 

Law. The high priest showed him how it was based 

upon the principles of justice and moderation ; he 

pointed out its reasonableness, its sanctity, its profound 

symbolic meaning, and how full of wisdom were its 

precepts on the folly and wickedness of idolatry. 

When the interpreters arrived in Egypt they were 

received with marked distinction by the king. For 

seven successive days he feasted them at the royal 

table, and ordered his servants to put before them 

such meats as the Law allowed. The wisdom of these 

interpreters on all the deepest problems of life — on 

morals, politics, and philosophy — filled the king and 

his councillors with admiration. The seventy-two 






scribes finished the translation in seventy-two days. 

The king was charmed with the treasures of wisdom 

it contained, and requested his librarian to tell him 

how it came to pass that the poets and philosophers 

of Greece made no reference to this wonderful book. 

The librarian informed him that it was too sacred 

to be handled lightly, and that the Divine ven- 

geance descended upon all who put it to unworthy 



This legend, with its long panegyric on the Mosaic 

Law, fulfilled its purpose most successfully. It was 

accepted as the genuine testimony of a heathen 

statesman, a heathen librarian, and a heathen king, 

and as such it must have exercised a certain amount 

of influence on the ancient world. Other utterances 

of a similar nature were equally fortunate. The name 

of Orpheus was dragged into the service of the Jews ; 

at the close of his career he is made to renounce all 

his previous beliefs concerning the heathen deities, 

and to teach his son that there is only one true God.» 

” Oh, my son, I will show thee where I see his foot- 

steps, and the powerful hand of the mighty God. 

But himself I cannot see. For wrapped around him 

is a cloud which hides him from me. … Of mortals 

gifted with speech none has seen God except one — a 

descendant of the Chaldean race.” 3 In like manner 

the Greek poets Hesiod and Homer arc made to 

sing of the Jewish Sabbath ; Eschylus proclaims the 


* Havercamp’s Josephus, ii 2. 103 j^.; c/. Hody contra historiam 

Aristeoe de LXX. interpretibus dissertatio. Oxon. 1685. 


‘ Cf, Eusebius, *’ Praep. Evang.,” xiii, 12. 5. 


3 Abraham is here meant. Cf, *’ Jahrbucher fiir Protestantische 

Theologie ‘* (1886), p. 244. 






majesty of God, and Euripides His omniscience. 

Under the name of Sophocles the following verses 

were spread about among the heathen by Jewish 

propagandists : 


One in very truth, God is one, 


Who made the heaven and the far-stretching earth. 


The deep’s blue billow, and the might of winds. 


But of us mortals, many erring far 


In heart, as solace for our woes have raised 


Images of Gods, — of stone or else of brass, 


Or figures wrought of gold or ivory ; 


And sacrifices and vain festivals 


To these appointing, deem ourselves devout.** * 


But the most important fictitious compositions 

produced by the Jews outside Palestine was a large 

collection of Sibylline Oracles. The Sibyl, according 

to ancient belief, was a priestess of Apollo. She 

dwelt in caves and by the waters, and her functions 

among the Romans consisted not so much in revealing 

the future as in bestowing help and counsel upon 

mankind in times of unusual calamity.* Asia Minor 

was the original home of the Sibyl. Her votaries 

sought her in solitude ; she moved about from place 

to place, and this circumstance ultimately gave rise to 

the belief that there were several Sibyls gifted with 

oracular powers. One of the causes which led to the 

great popularity of the Sibylline utterances was the 

destruction of a number of these oracles in the Capitol 

at Rome. This took place in the first century before 


‘ Eusebius, “Pnep. Evang.,** xiii. 12, sg. ; Clement of Alexandria^ 

** Stromata,*’ v. 14. 


‘ Marquardt, *’Romische Staatsverwaltung,” iii. 44; Roscher, 

‘* Lexikon der Griechischen und Romischen Mythologie,’* 446. 






the Christian era (B.C. 83) ; the Senate sent a com- 

mission to Asia Minor in order to find documents to 

replace them, and from that time forward the Sibyl- 

line Oracles acquired an immense power over the 

popular mind.i The private manner in which the 

Sibyl communicated counsel and w^arning to men 

rendered her an admirable instrument in the hands of 

Jewish propagandists. By them she was transformed 

from a heathen priestess into a prophetess of the God 

of Israel. She is made to reveal the past and the 

future, as it had been told to her by God, and she 

warns men who now call her false and mad that they 

will do so no longer when they see her great predic- 

tions come to pass.* She solemnly exhorts all mortals 

to abandon idolatry and reverence the one true God. 

He is eternal and invisible, but He dwells within all 

men as a common light. Those who persist in bowing 

down before the demons of Hades, for such are the 

deities of heathendom, and neglect the infinite and 

omnipotent Creator of all things shall one day meet 

with a bitter reward. These makers of idols, these 

worshippers of birds and beasts and creeping things, 

shall finally be cast to the flames, and shall day by 

day be consumed in an eternal fire. But the servants 

of the true God shall taste the bread of heaven and 

dwell for ever in the green fields of Paradise.3 At first, 

says the Sibyl, all men worshipped the one true God ; 

it was only after the building of the Tower of Babel 


‘ Boissier, **La Religion Romaine,” i. 261. 

– ” Oracula Sibyllina,” book iii. 812, Sf/. 


3 See the two PVagments of the Prcemium, Friedlieb’s edition, 

pp. 2-6. 






that they fell away into heathenism. These false 

gods are no gods at all ; they are merely the departed 

spirits of ancient heroes and kings.’ The rule of the 

worshippers of these gods has been long and painful, 

but it is destined to come to an end. Even Rome, 

the greatest and most powerful of heathen principali- 

ties, shall fall. Her dissolution is approaching ; terrible 

calamities will precede her final doom ; but after that 

period of woe is over the Jews, the people of the great 

God, shall assume the supremacy and lead the nations 

into the way of life.’ Happy shall be the man or 

woman who lives in such a time. Righteous laws 

shall descend from heaven, and concord, love, and 

friendship shall fill the human family with delight. 

The age-long miseries of humanity shall at last 

disappear, and division and envy and hate and folly 

will be seen no more. The curse of poverty will be 

removed, and neither theft nor murder will disturb 

this blessed era of compassion and peace. 3 


The solemn and consolatory utterances of the Sibyl 

fell upon fruitful soil. No doubt some of the educated 

classes could detect a Jewish accent in the words of 

the heathen oracle, and divine the proselytizing 

purpose that inspired them. But the masses of the 

people were not critical, and the promise of a golden 

age from whatever quarter it came, and under what- 

ever conditions, was sufficient to attract many a 

baffled and distracted heart.4 The old divinities of 

Greece and Rome no longer satisfied the higher 


* **Orac. Sib.,” iii. 8, st/, * Ibid., ill. 105, s^. 

3 Ibid., iii. 164, s</. 


* In the verses entitled **Oberniann Once More” the late Mr. Matthew 






religious aspirations of the community, and belief in 

them was at the same time being shattered by the 

poets, dramatists, and philosophers of antiquity. 

Ancient thought was developing a more and more 

pronounced monotheistic tendency, and the ethical 

teaching of the age was in direct antagonism to the 

immoralities ascribed to many of the gods. In fact, 

religion in the Roman Empire had fallen into a con- 

dition of chaos, and it is not surprising to learn that 

in the first century of our era, and some time before 

it, the peoples of the West were looking to the East for 

light. Many of these Oriental forms of faith had a 

certain elevation of character in the midst of much 

extravagance, and offered some sort of satisfaction to 

the head, the imagination, and the conscience of man- 

kind. Most of them contained monotheistic elements, 

and the deities of which their pantheon consisted 

were in many instances reduced to the position of 

mere attributes of one supreme divinity. The con- 

spicuous position assigned in these religions to priests 

and women was attractive by its novelty, and the 

mysterious symbolism frequently involved in the 

exercise of worship was well calculated to stimulate 


Arnold admirably describes the state of the Roman world under the 

emperors — 


” Stout was its arm, each thew and bone 

Seemed puissant and alive — 

But, ah, its heart, its heart was stone, 

And so it could not thrive. 


On that hard Pagan world disgust 


And secret loathing fell, 

Deep weariness and sated lust 


Made human life a hell.” 






and gratify the pious imagination. Ascetic natures 

were appealed to by the practices of fasting, penance, 

and mortification of the flesh. Habits of chastity 

were inculcated, and attempts were even made to 

appease the burdened conscience and to connect 

religion more intimately with the virtues of life.^ Of 

all the Oriental religions claiming the attention of the 

West, Judaism in its Hellenic form was the most 

ethical and profound. As presented to seekers after 

light in such writings as the ” Sibylline Oracles,” it was 

either divested of several of its more repugnant pecu- 

liarities, or these ordinances were not made imperative. 

The merchant Ananias who converted Izates, king of 

Adiabene, told him that God could be honoured 

without submitting to the rite of circumcision,^ and 

Ananias may be taken as expressing the general 

spirit of Hellenic Judaism. While the Hellenic Jew 

obeyed all the injunctions of the Law himself, he did 

not insist upon them as imperative in the case of 

heathen converts. In fact, he purposely placed many 

of them in the background, and in propagating his 

faith relied chiefly on enunciating the cardinal doc- 

trine of a God of justice and judgment who upheld 

the moral order of the world, and who would 

in due time usher in a blessed earthlv future for 



The simplicity and directness of these ideas, as well 

as their intrinsic value, made them a religious force 

of immense importance in the Roman Empire. People 

did not stop to scrutinize the fictitious forms in which 


‘ Marquardt, ** Romische Staatsverwaltung,’* iii. 86, sq. 

* Josephus, *’ Ant.,” xx. 2. 4. 






Judaism was frequently clothed ; its substance was to 

them a consolation and a stay, and with this they 

were content Among multitudes of Greeks and 

Romans contempt for the Jew was superseded by 

veneration for his faith. The barriers which Jew and 

Gentile had erected against each other were broken 

down, and it was no uncommon thing for a Gentile to 

become a student of the Law, an observer of the 

Sabbath, a contributor to the Temple tax, and an 

humble participator in the services of the synagogue.’ 

Of course there were cases in which the eclectic spirit 

of the times led people to adopt Jewish practices who 

did not adhere to the fundamental beliefs of Judaism ; 

and there were also cases in which Judaism was 

adopted as a consequence of matrimonial arrange- 

ments, or from a desire to escape the burden of 

military service, or from some other purely external 

reason.^ But in the majority of instances Judaism 

would be accepted for itself alone, and as a result of 

what it had to offer to the conscience and the heart 

It must, however, be acknowledged that one great 

stumbling-block stood in its way, namely, the practice 

of circumcision. It was impossible to overcome the 

justifiable repugnance of the Greek and Roman world 

to this barbarous rite. To secure complete incforpo- 

ration into the community of Israel circumcision, 

baptism, and, as long as the Temple stood, the 

offering of sacrifice, were indispensable 3 on the 


« Juvenal, •’ Sat. ,” xiv. 96; Ovid,” Ars.,”i. 76; Horace,” Sat.,”i. 9. 69. 


‘ Josejihus, ‘• AnL,” xiv. 10. 13, xvi. 7. 6, xx. 7. 3 ; Jerus, Kiddu- 

schiii, 4. 65 h. 


3 Selden, ” De Synedriis,” i. 34 ; Lightfoot, ” Ilorae Hebraicae,” 

Matt. iii. 6. 






believer’s part It was only after this form of 

initiation had been submitted to that the convert 

became what was called a proselyte, and possessed in 

the eyes of the Jew all the essential privileges apper- 

taining to the descendants of Abraham. We may 

safely infer from the invincible antipathy excited by 

circumcision that the number of proselytes was 

comparatively few, and that the great majority of 

adherents to Judaism belonged to the class of what 

was known as ” devout and God-fearing men.” ^ 


This class was undoubtedly a large one. Of this 

fact there is abundant evidence from many quarters. 

” For a long time back,” says Josephus, ” great zeal 

for our religion has laid hold upon multitudes ; nor is 

there any city of the Greeks, or indeed any city at all, 

even though barbarian, where the observance of the 

seventh day on which we rest from toil has not made 

its way, and where the fasts and lamp-lightings, and 

many of our prohibitions as to food are not observed.” ^ 

The Roman philosopher Seneca confirms the words 

of the Jewish historian, and says that Jewish customs 

were adopted everywhere, adding bitterly that the 

conquered had given laws to the conquerors.^ It was 

among these Gentile adherents of Judaism that Chris- 

tianity obtained its greatest triumphs. Christian 

missionaries addressed them in the synagogues. St 

Paul preached to them at Antioch, in Pisidia, at 

Thessalonica, at Athens, and elsewhere ; he induced 

many of them to embrace the Christian faith,4 and the 


* Josephus, “Ant,” xiv. 7. 2; “Bell. Jud./’ ii. 18. 2; Acts x. 2, 

and elsewhere. * Josephus, ** Apion,*’ ii. 39. 


3 Augustine, ” DeCivitate Dei,” vi. 11. * Actsxiii. 16 ; xvii. 4, 17. 






task must have been a comparatively easy one. The 

proselyte cannot have felt altogether at home in 

Judaism. After submitting to every ordinance of the 

Law he still knew that he was not regarded as standing 

on a footing of equality with the born Jew. He was 

not of the seed of Abraham ; no ceremonial initia- 

tion could bridge over that difficulty, or obviate the 

permanent disadvantages which it entailed. Accord-^ 

ing to the Jewish system proselytes, as not being 

members of the chosen race, were condemned to a 

position of religious inferiority, a position out of 

which they could not possibly emerge.’ It is true 

that the Hellenic Jews laudably attempted to thrust 

these facts into the background, but they were too 

deeply rooted in the vitals of Judaism to admit of 

being altogether suppressed. Such being the case, 

the proselyte must frequently have felt that his status 

was defective aud unsatisfactory. It inclined him to 

listen eagerly to teachers who, retaining what was 

best in Judaism, added the important announcement 

that the Christian faith admitted of no distinction 

between the heathen and the Jew ; that it was based 

upon the principle of equality among the nations ; 

that it was human and not racial, and that every man 

who embraced it stood upon exactly the same footing, 

enjoying exactly the same rights and privileges, but 

no more.2 Such a doctrine satisfied the deepest 

needs of the Gentile adherents of Judaism, and soon 

succeeded in sweepin<y most of them into the Chris- 

tian fold. 


‘ Bikkurim, i. 4 : Horajoth, iii. 8. ‘ Gal. iii. 28. 




1 of the Commiltci oj the Paltitint Exploration l-‘und,) 




^tia Capitolinn, 198 

Agrippa, Kinfi, no 

Agrippa. King, and [lerodias, no 

Agrippa, King, exlenl of his do- 


Agrippa, King, his popularity, 159 

Agrippa, King, death of, 159 

Agrippn, King, II., 169 

Agrijipn, King, is stoned, 170 

Akilia, (99 


Akilxi and Messianic hope, zoo 

Albinus, pTocuralor, 167 

Alcimus, High Priest, hisbarbart’ 


Alexander Batas, II 

Akiander Jann:eus, n 

Alexander Jannicus, his character, 


Alexander Jannicus hated by Phari- 


Alexander Jann^is, Pbarisees 


tevoll, 29 

Alexander Jannxus revolt finally 


crushed, 30 

Alexander the Great, 378 

Alexander, son of Aristohiilus, 42 

Alexander’s Empire divided, 4 

Allegories, 285 

Allegorical method, 397 

Alliances, Koinan with Jews, 19 

Allar ol Shewlircad, 233 

Altar of Sacrifice, 234 

Ananias, High Priest, 170 

Antichrist, ^8 

Antigonus, King, 50, 59 




Anligonns, King, put to death, 62 

Anliochus Epiphanes, 5 

Antiochus Epiphanes, his policy, 



Anliochus Epiphanes abolishes 


Judaism, 6 

Antiochus Epiphanes persecutes 


Jew.. 6 


Antiochus Epiphanes and abomi- 

nation of desolation, 6 

Anliochus Epiphanes, death of, 8 

Anliochus V., 8 

Anliochus V, dethroned, 9 

Anliochus VII ., 14 

Antiochus VII. demands tribute 


Antiochus VII., his forces de- 


Antiocbiis VII. besieges Jeru- 


Antipas, his dominions, 96 

Aniipns, liis educAlion, 99 

Aniipas, his character, 99 

Antipas marries daughter of 


Arelas, 102 

Aniipas and Augustus, 101 

Antipas and TiWrius, 103 

Aniipas and Vitellius. 103 

Aniipas and Hcrodi” — 

Antipas deposed, 11 
















Romans. 44 

Aniipater, his position in Jii 


Anlipati;r asbisis Qesar, 49 












Antipater made a Roman citizen, 


Antipater, his policy, 51 

Antipater is thwarted by Jewish 


aristocracy, 51 

Antipater is poisoned, 54 

Antipater, Herod’s son, 113 

Antipater, Herod’s son, his cha- 

racter, 113 

Antony, Mark, 54 

Antony, Mark, and Octavian 


divide the Empire, 54 

Antony, Mark, sets sail for Italy, 



Antony, Mark, and Octavian com- 

pare their differences, 60 

Antony, Mark, marries Octavian’s 


sister, 61 

Antony, Mark, irritates the Ro- 

mans, 65 

Antony, Mark, defeated at Actium, 



Antony, Mark, death of, 69 

Apvxalyptic literature, 364 

Aramaic, 248, 356 

Archelaus, Herod’s son, 92, III 

Archelaus, Herod’s son, his do- 

minions, 96 

Archelaus, Herod’s son, his edu- 

cation, 113 

Archelaus before Augustus, 115 

Archelaus, administration of, 1 16 

Archelaus marries Glaphyra, 116 

Archelaus, despotism of, 117 

Archelaus, deposition of, 118 

Archelaus mentioned in Gospels, 



Aretas, king of Nabatxans, 34 

Aretas defeats Antipas, 105 

Aristobulus assumes title of king, 



Aristobulus conquers Iturseans, 27 

ArLstobulus and Sadducees, 31 

Aristobulus, King, 32 

Aristobulus, death of, 50 

Asia Minor, Jews of, 380 

Assidreans, 10, 300 

Assidx’ans, a religious party, 24 

Assidncans and Pharisees, 24 

Assidseans abhorred Hellenism, 24 

Asinius Pollio, 113 




Augustus, a title of honour, 69 

Augustus, his character, 70 

Augustus, his policy, 70 

Augustus and East, 73 

Augustus, faith of, in Herod, 88 

Augustus and Herod’s successors, 



Augustus adheres to Herod’s will, 


Augustus and Judaea, 120 

Augustus, death of, 135 

Augustus, his policy towards 

Jews, 136 



Bar-Kokheba, 19S 

Bar-Kokheba as the Messiah, 200 

Bar-Kokheba, hi 4 revolt, 200 

Berenice, 182 

Berenice at Rome, 184 

Bethar, 200 

Bethsaida, 99, 350 

Burnt-offering, 235 




Caesar, Julius, war between, and 


Pompey, 47 

Ct-esar, Julius, defeats Pompey, 48 

Qesar, Julius, in Alexandria, 49 

Csesar, Julius, is aided by the 


Jews, 49 

Cresar, Julius, and the Jews, 50 

Caesar, Julius, assassination o^ 5V 

Csesars, cultus of, 145 

Gesarea Paneas, 350 

Caesarea Philippi, 98 

Caligula, 1 10, 153 

Caligula orders his statue to be 


placed in the Temple, 154 

Caligula, assassination of, 156 

Canon of Scripture, 253 

Canon of Scripture, nature of, 254 

Captain of the Temple, 227 

Cassius, 45 


Cassias defeats Jews, 47 

Cassius proconsul of Syria, 53 

Cassius levies heavy contributions 


on Palestine, 53 

Cassius and Herod, 53 

Cassius commits suicide, 54 












Cestius Gallus, Governor of Syria, 



Cestius Callus marches on Jeru- 

salem, 171 

Christianity, 70, 187 

Christianity, preparations for, 57 

Christianity and Judaism, 295 

Christianity and Essenism, 346 

Christianity and proselytes, 413 

Church, Jews a, 4 

Church, the, and Philo, 400 

Civil war among Jews, 29, 32, 33 

Claudius, 157 

Claudius, character of, 157 

Claudius, policy of, in Palestine, 




Claudius reappoints procurators, 


Claudius, conciliatory policy of, 



Claudius, death of, 165 

Cleopatra and Antony, 59, 62 

Cleopatra and Herod, 63 

Cleopatra at Actium, 66 

Cleopatra plots against Herod, 67 

Cleopatra and Octavian, 68 

Cleopatra, death of, 69 

Coast towns, 349 

Colonists, Jewish, 378 

Communities,Jewish, organization 


of, 389 

Council, local, in Palestine, 215 

Council, local, powers of, 217 

Council, local, sittings of, 217 

Council, local, Jesus and, 217 

Crassus in the East, 45 

Crassus, his designs, 45 

Crassus plunders the Temple of 


Jerusalem, 45 

Crassus is defeated and slain, 45 

Cumanus, procurator, 162 

Cuspius Fadus, procurator, 161 



Day of Atonement, 226 


Decapolis, 351 


Demetrius I., 9 


Demetrius I., his policy in Judaea, 



Demetrius I., his ruin, 12 




Disorders in Syria, 8, 9 

Dispersion, the, 375 

Diviners, 336 

Domitian, 185 

Domitian and Jews, 186 

Domitian and Judaism, 186 

Domitian, death of, 187 

Dreams, 335 




Egypt, Jews in, 380 


Eleazar, 170 


Emixirors and the Jews, 388 


Empire, Roman, unification of, 



Essenes, the, a religious order, 323 

Essenes, the, and Rechabites, 325 

Essenes, the, and purity, 325 

Essenes, the. Separatists, 326 

Essenes, the, why called, 327 

Essenes, the, organization of, 328 

Essenes, the, novitiate of, 328 

Essenes, the, heads of, 329 

Essenes, the, communists, 330 

Essenes, the, agriculturists, 331 

Essenes, the, daily duties of, 331 

Essenes, the, a^-cclicism of, 332 

Essenes, the, and marriage, SS3 

Essenes, the, theology of, 333 

Essenes, the, sacred lxx)ks of, 334 

Essenes, the, as prophets, 335 

Essenes, the, interpreters of 


dreams, 335 

Essenes, the, medicine men, 336 

Essenes, the, and free will, 340 

Essenes, the, and future life, 340 

Essenes, the, and the Temple, 341 

Essenes, the, origin of, 342 

Essenes, the, and Pythagoreans, 



Essenes, the, and Judaism, 344 


Essenes, the, and Christianity, 346 


Ethnarch, 41, 390 


Evil spirits, 337 


Exorcism, 338 




Faith, Oriental, 410 

Felix, procurator, 164 

Fulvia, Antony’s wife quarrels 

with Octavian, 60 












Fusion of Greek and Jewish ideas, 





Gabinius, proconsul of Syria, 42 

Gabinius suppresses revolts of 


Jews, 43 

Gabinius, his policy in Palestine, 43 

Galilee, 349 

Galileans, 100 

Gentiles, Court of, 234 

Gentiles, despised, 358 

Germanicus, mission of, 139 

Gessius Florus, procurator, 167 

Glaphyra, 116 

Glaphyra, death of, 117 

Golden candlestick, 233 

Gospel writers, 90 

Greek, 287 


Greek, influence on Jews of, 22 

Greek philosophy, 301, 357 

Greek towns, 351 

Greek towns, government of, 352 

Greek, influence in Palestine of, 



Greek names, 356 


Greek colonization, 378 


Greek poets and Judaism, 406 




Hadrian, Emperor, 194 

Hadrian, Emperor, character of, 



Hadrian, Emperor, Eastern policy 


of, 196 


Hadrian, Emperor, and the Sibyl, 



Hadrian, Emperor, plans restora- 

tion of Jerusalem, 197 


Hadrian, Emperor, forbids cir- 

cumcision, 198 


Hadrian, Em|5eror, revolt of Jews 

under, 198 


Hapgada, 264 


Haggada, scope and nature of, 267 


Ilaggada, theology of, 268 


Hagiographa, 253 


Halacha, 264 


Halacha, nature of, 265 


Halacha, supplements written law, 





Heathenism, decay of, 409 


Hebrew, 273 


Hellenic Jews, 393 


Hellenists, 300 


Herod the Great, 52 


Herod the Great disperses robbers, 


Herod the Great banished by San- 


hedrin, 52 

Herod the Great Governor of 


Coelo-Syria, 52 

Heroti the Great promised Jewish 


Crown, 53 

Herod the Great madeTetrarch, 54 

Herod the Great flees from Jeru- 

salem, 59 

Herod the Great at Rome, 60 

Herod the Great is proclaimed 


king, 60 

Herod the Great conquers his 


kingdom, 61 

Herod the Great abandons An- 

tony, 67 

Herod the Great, his authority 


confirmed by Octavian, 68 

Herod the Great and Augustus, 75 

Herod the Great, his kingdom, 75 

Herod the Great, administration 


of, 76 

Herod the Great tries to Hellenize 


his dominions, 79 

Herod the Great rebuilt Temple, 82 

Herod the Great hated by Ju- 


daeans, 85 

Herod the Great popular outsid,; 


Judoea, 86 

Herod the Great, his family life, 88 

Herod the Great executes his 


family, 89 

Herod ihe Great, his remorse, 90 

Herod the Great, his death, 90 

Herod the Great, his will, 95 

Herod the Great, his last will, 1 14 

Herod ias, 105 


Herodias and John Baptist, 108 

Herod ias and Caligula, III 

Herodian family; disappearance 


of, 185 

High Priest, 223 ^ 


High Priest, authority of, 225 

High -priesthood alx)lished, 179 












Hillel, 294 


Holy of Holies, 226 


Holy Place, 233 


Hyrcanus, a Parthian prisoner, 59 




Iduniaea conquered by Jews, 17 

Inspiration, degrees of, 255 

Inspiration, views of Philo and 


Josephus on, 258 

Inspiration, New Testament and, 



Interpretation, Rabbinic methods 


of, 263 

Interpretation, rules of, 277 

Israelites, Court of, 234 



James the Tust, 166 

Jerusalem besieged, 9 

Jerusalem taken by Pompey, 36 

Jerusalem, its capture a chastise- 

ment, 39 

Jerusalem, anarchy in, 173 

Jerusalem, fortification of, 174 


Jerusalem in ruins, 179 

erusalem, importance of, 378 

Jesus, 99. 149 

Jesus and Antipas, 108, 109 

Jews not independent after Cap- 

tivity, 4 

Jews under Persians, 4 

Jews under Alexander, 4 


}ews under Egypt and Syria, 4 

ews, revolt after Herod’s death, 93 

Jews and Tiberius, 138 

Jews banished from Rome, 139 

Jews in the West, position of, 140 


Jews under Calieula, 1 55 

ews, revolt of, under Gessius 

Floras, 167 

Jews in Rome, 186 


Jews of Mesopotamia, 191 

ews of Cyprus and Cyrene revolt, 



}ews, atrocities of, 191 

ews in Egypt, revolt of, 193 

Jews, position of, after Hadrian, 



Jews hated by Greeks and Romans, 





Jews as Roman citizens, 383 

Jews, civil status of, in Dispersion, 



Jews, privileges of, 385 


Jews possessed right of meeting, 385 


Jews had special tribunals, 387 


Jews accused of atheism, 402 


Jews accused of exclusiveness, 402 


Jews, controversial, methods of, 



Jews, fictitious com positions of, 404 


}ohn Hyrcanus, 14 

ohn Hyrcanus pays tribute to 

Syria, 15 

John Hyrcanus sends embassy to 


Rome, 15 

John Hyrcanus conquers Idumea 


and Samaria, 17 

John Hyrcanus, embassy to Rome, 



John Hyrcanus, extent of his 


power, 18 

John Hyrcanus and Pharisees, 24 

John Hyrcanus II., 30 

John Hyrcanus II., receives sena- 

torial rank, 51 

John of Gischala, 172 

John of Gischala in Jerusalem, 175 

John the Baptist, 106 

John the Baptist denounces An- 

tipas, 107 

John the Baptist imprisoned. 107 

John the Baptist, his death, 108 

Jonathan, leader of the Jews, 12 

Jonathan and Demetrius I., 12 

Jonathan and Balas, 12 

Jonathan, High Priest, 12 

Jonathan, Governor of Judcea, 12 

Jonathan sends embassy to Rome, 


Jonathan, his assassmation, 13 

Josephus the historian, 172 

Judiea in Roman eyes, 35 

Judaea, a Roman province, 1 19 

Judaea, anarchy in, 164 

Judaea, emigration from, 378 

Judxa autonomous, 13 

Jud.vans under Archelaus, 1 14 

Judaism in the cycsof the Ancients, 



Judaism in the Roman Empire, 411 












{udas Maccabaeus, 7 

udas Maccabaeus defeats Syrians, 


7, 10 

Judas Maccalxeus sends embassy 


to Rome, 10 

Judas Maccaba-us slain, 1 1 

Judas ihe Galilean, 127 

Judas the Gal lean, his character, 



Judas the Galilean, his revolt, 128 

Judas the Galilean, procurator, 129 




Law, the, pre-eminence of, 256 

Law, the, and the prophets, 257 

Law, the, and the prophets dis- 

tinction between, 258 

Law, the, study of, 260 

I^w, the, ignorance of, 260 

Law, the, students of, 261 

Law, the, unwritten, 261 

Law, the, authority of, 261 

Law, the, unwritten, origin of, 266 

Law, the, precepts of, 273 

Lawyers, 274 

Legates of Syria, 1 31 

Legates, relation of procurators to, 


Levites, position of, 224 

Local councils, 132 





Marcus Scaurus, 34 


Mariamne is l)etrothed to Herod, 54 


Mariamnc, death of, 89 


Mattathias, 6 


Mottathias’s revolt against Syria, 7 


Mattathias, his sons, 7 


Menahem, 170 


Messiah, advent of, 364 


Messiah, His forenmners, 366 


Messiah, His enemies, 367 


Messianic hope, political side of, 



Messianic hope in New Testament, 



Messianic h(^pe. its scope, 364 


Messianic kingdom, 369 




Messianic kingd’-m, its capital, 569 

Messianic era, 370 

Messianic era, a golden age, 371 

Messianic era, its duration, 373 

Mesopotamia, Jews of, 379 

Military service, Jews and, 388 

Mithridates, 33 

Money-changers, 234 



Neapolitanus, 169 

Nero, Emperor, 165 

Nero, Emperor, death of, 173 

Nerva, Emperor, 187 



Octavian, Caesar’s mphew, 53 


Octavian and Aniony, war be- 

tween, 65 


Octavian denounces Antony, 66 


Ordination, 286 


Origen on Roman Empire, note 





Palestine, holy ^und, 5 


Palestine, inhabitants of, 348 


Palestine, industries of, 354 


Parables, 284 


Parthians, 1 3, 18 


Parthians invade Palestine, 58 


Parthians driven out of Palestine, 



Patriarchs as Pagan gods, 395 

Peace-offering, 235 

Penea, 352 

Petra, 34 


Petronius, Governor of Syria, 154 

Pharisees and Assidaeans, 10, 303 

Pharisees and Sadducees, 22, 296 

Pharisees become a political power, 



Pharisees oppose Hyrcanus, 24 


Pharisees demand separation of 

spiritual and temporal power, 


Pharisees prepare way for civil 


war, 26 

Pharisees lead popular opinion, 














Pharisees persecute Sadducees, 31 

Pharisees retire from public life, 



Pharisees and Sadducees, origin 


of, 298 

Pharisees, origin of the name, 


302, note 3 

Pharisees and scribes, 304 

Pharisees and the people, 305 

Pharisees and Sadducees, rupture 


between, 308 

Pharisees and Maccabees, 308 

Pharisees under Herod, 311 

Pharisees under Romans, 312 

Pharisees under Zealots, 313 

Phasael, Herod’s brother, 54 

Phasael, death of, 59 

Philip, 8 


Philip, his dominions, 96 

Philip, his character, 97 

Philip, his government, 98 

Philip, his capital, 98 

Philippi, battle of, 54 

Philo, 396 


Philo, an allegorist, 397 

Philo, his treatment of Scripture, 



Philo, his treatment of Scripture, 


results of it, 399 

Philo, theology of, 401 

Pilate, Pontius, 103, 140 

Pilate, Pontius, his policy in Judaea, 



Pilate, Pontius, deputation to, 142 

Pilate, Pontius, constructs an aque- 

duct, 147 

Pilate, Pontius, and Jesus, 149 

Pilate, Pontius, and Messianic 


hopes, 150 

Pilate, Pontius, suspended, 152 

Policy of Rome affects Jews, 5 

Policy of Rom«? favours Jews, 8 

Policy of Rome, effect of, on 


Syria, 11 

Pompey in the East, 33 

Pompey at Damascus, 34 

Pompey, his policy in the East, 



Pompey invades Palestine, 36 


Pompey captures Jerusalem, 36 


Pompe}’, deputation to, 39 




Pompey deposes Aristobulus, 40 

Pompey abolishes kingship, 40 

Pompey breaks up Maccal^eean 


state, 40 

Pompey, a deliverer, 40 

Pompey, his arrangements in 


Palestine, 40 

Pompey’s Eastern policy, estimate 


of, 41 

Pompey’s Eastern policy, effect of, 


Pompey, death of, 48 

Porcius Festus, procurator, 166 

Pnetorium, 130, note i 

Priests, number of, 222 

Priests, classes of, 222 

Priests, a sacred caste, 223 

Priests, divided politically, 223 

Priests, court of, 234 

Priests and scribes, 299 

Priesthood, qualifications for, 223 

Priesthood, revenue of, 229 

Priesthood, revenue, how divided, 



Priesthood, duties of, 232 

Priesthood, cleanness of, 233 

Procurator, independent of Syrian 


governor, 132 

Procurator and Sanhedrin, 133 

Procurators, Roman, 129 

Procurators, functions of, 130 

Prophets, the, 253 

Proselytes, 412 

Providence, 321 

Psalms of Solomon, 37 

Publicani, 126, note 2 




Quint ilius Varus, 92 


Quint ilius Varus defeats Jewish 

insurgents, 93 


Quintilius Varus restores tran- 

quillity, 95 


Quintus Memmius, 


Quirinius, 121 


Quirinius takes a census, 122 



Religious lil^erty restored, 9 

Religious riiual, 27 












Republic, Roman, internal changes 


in, 21 

Resurrection, the, 318 

Roman power in second century 


B.C., 3 

Roman influence in the East, 4 

Roman citizen, 51 

Roman civil war, effects of, on 


Jews, 56 

Romans, political and military 


qualities of, 3 

Romans and Oriental politics, 32 

Romans invade Judaea, 34 

Rome, Jews of, 382 




Sabbath, 247 


Sabinus, 92, 1 15 


Sacrifice, 341 


Sadducees and Greek civilization, 


Sadducees, position of, 22 

Sadducees, a political party, 23 

Sadducees and Hellenists, 303 

Sadducees, origin of the name, 




Sadducees and Maccabees, 309 


Sadducees and Herod, 310 


Sadducees, disap)X)intnient of, 31 1 


Sadducees and Pharisees differ 

respecting the Law, 314 


Sadducees and Pharisees differ 

resix!cting tradition, 316 


Sadducees and Pharisees differ 

respecting feasts, &c., 317 


Sadducees and l^harisees differ 

respecting doctrine, 318 


Sadducees and Pharisees differ 

respecting the resurrection, 318 


Sadducees and Pharisees differ 

respecting angels, 320 


Salome, Alexandra, 30 


Salome, Alexandra, recalls Phari- 

sees from exile, 31 


Salome, Alexandra, recalls Sad- 

ducees, 32 


Salome, Herod’s sister, 115 


Samaria, 350 


Samaria conquered by Jews, 17 


Samaritans, 350 




Samaritans desecrate the Temple, 



Sanhedrin, 132 


Sanhedrin, its powers, 133 


Sanhedrin, abolished, 179 


Sanhedrin, origin of, 209 


Sanhedrin, antiquity of, 209 


Sanhedrin, an aristocratic body, 



Sanhedrin, high priest its head, 



Sanhedrin, Pompey and, 210 

Sanhedrin, Csesar and, 210 

Sanhedrin under Herod, 211 

Sanhedrin, abolition of, 211 

Sanhedrin, college of scribes and, 



Sanhedrin, according to Josephus 


and New Testament, 212 

Sanhedrin, its functions, 212 

Sanhedrin, composition of, 212 

Sanhedrin, scribes in, 213 

Sanhedrin, extent of its powers, 



Sanhedrin and procurator, 214 

Sanhedrin, its decisions, 215 

Schema, 248 

Schemaiah, saying of, 57 

Scrit^es, 10, 274 

Scribes, use of, 274 

Scribes, functions of, 276 

Scril>es, as jurists and legislators, 



Scril)es, judicial functions of, 279 

Scribes as teachers, 280 

Scribes’ mmle of teaching, 281 

Scribes and the synagogues, 283 

Scribes as preachers, 284 

Scribes, ordination of, 286 

Scribes, education of, 287 

Scribes learned a trade, 288 

Scribes, demeanour of, 290 

Scribes reverenced by the people, 



Scribes, dark side of, 292 

Scribes, sayings of, 294 

Sulla in the East, 32 

Sebaste, 350 


Senate, Roman policy of, 21 

Sepphoris, 102 

Septuagint in the synagogue, 392 












Sq)tuagint, origin of, 405 

Sermon, origin of, 249 

Severus crushes Bar-Kokheba, 201 

Sibylline, the, Books, 407 

Sibylline, the, Books, contents of, 



Sibylline» the. Books, effect of, 



Siloam, tower of, 148 


Simon, High Priest and Ethnarch, 


Simon sends embassy to Rome, 13 

Simon, his assassination, 14 

Simon of Geraza, 175 

Sin-offering, 237 

St. Paul, 164 

Synagogue, the, 240 

Synagogue, the, growth of, 116, 



Synagogue, the, and Temple, 241 

Synagogue, the, structure of, 242 

Synagogue, the, interior of, 243 

Synagogue, the, heads of, 244 

Synagogue, the, expulsion from, 



Synagogue, the, elders of, 244 

Synagogue, the, ruler of, 244 

Synagogue, the, keeper of, 245 

Synagogue, the, services of, 247 

Synagogue, the, preaching in, 249 

Synagogue, the, adaptability o*”, 


25 » 

Synagogue, the, a centre of unity, 



Syria and Rome, 1^ 


Syria invades Judaea, 8 


Syria, decay of, 18 


Syria-Palaestina, 203 


Syria, Jews of, 379 




Tacitus, 72 


Taxation, Roman, 122 


Temple rebuilt, 82 


Temple of Onias shut up, 179 


Temple tax, 388 


Temple tax made imperial impost, 



Temple, antiquity of, 219 


Temple a common centre of wor- 

ship, 220 




Temple and high place, 220 

Temple, populari^ of, 2ao 

Temple, wealth of; 221 

Temple, synagogue and, 221 

Temple a treasure house, 227 

Temple, structure of, 233 

Temple courts, 234 

Temple service, 237 

Temple on Day of Atonement, 238 

Temple, the, a meeting- place for^ 


the Dispersion, 393 

Theocracy, scribes and, 298 

Theudas, 165 

Tiberius, 104 

Tiberius, character of, 103 

Tiberius, death of, 106-110 

Tiberius, Emperor, 13* 

Tiberius, Emperor, administration 


of, 137 

Tiberius, Emperor, his policy in 


the provinces, 138 

Tiberius, Alexander, procurator, 



Tigranes, 30 

Titus, Manlius, 8 

Titus besides Jerusalem, 174 

Titus captures Jerusalem, 176 

Titus leaves Jerusalem, 181 

Titus leaves Berenice, 182 

Titus, triumph of, at Rome, 183 

Titus, Arch of, 184 

Titus, death of, 185 

Torah, the, 255 

Trachonitis, 349 

Tradition, 261 

Tradition, authority of, 261 

Tradition, origin of, 262 

Tradition, channels of, 262 

Tradition, restoration of, 263 

Tradition respecting the origin of 


thinps, 269 

Tradition respecting patriarchs, 



Tradition, laws of, 278 

Tradition, formation of, 278 

Trajan, Emperor, 188 

Trajan, Emperor, character of, 189 

Trajan, Emperor, revolt of Jews 


under, 189 

Trajan, Emperor, and Parthian 


war, 190 








Trajan, Emperor. <leath of, 194 

Tributum capilis, 12 

Tribulum soli, iij 

TriumviiBte of Qesar, Pompey, 

and Crassus, 44 









s. Gra 




I, ptocucatur, tjS 

Vassalage of JewEi, 4 

Vespasian, 172 


Vesi>i’iian subdues Galilee, 173 

Vespasian siupends Diililary ope- 

rations, 173 




Viletlius an<i Anlipas, 106 




Zadokiles, 303 

Zealols. 126 

Zealots, ideas of, 137 

Zealots, growth of, 156 

Zealols, revolt of, i6z 

Zealots Iriumphant, 163 

Zealols capture Masada, 170 

Zealots massacre Koman garrisoQ, 




ZTbe Stori^ of the IFlatlons. 




Messrs. G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS take pleasure in 

announcing that they have in course of publication, in 

co-operation with Mr. T. Fisher Unwin, of London, a 

series of historical studies, intended to present in a 

graphic manner the stories of the different nations that 

have attained prominence in history. 


In the story form the current of each national life is 

distinctly indicated, and its picturesque and noteworthy 

periods and episodes are presented for the reader in their 

philosophical relation to each other as well as to universal 



It is the plan of the writers of the different volumes to 

enter into the real life of the peoples, and to bring them 

before the reader as they actually lived, labored, and 

struggled — as they studied and wrote, and as they amused 

themselves. In carrying out this plan, the myths, with 

which the history of all lands begins, will not be over- 

looked, though these will be carefully distinguished from 

the actual history, so far as the labors of the accepted 

historical authorities have resulted in definite conclusions. 


The subjects of the different volumes have been planned 

to cover connecting and, as far as possible, consecutive 

epochs or periods, so that the set when completed will 

present in a comprehensive narrative the chief events in 




the great STORY OF THE Nations ; but it is, of course 

not always practicable to issue the several volumes in 

their chronological order. 


The ” Stories ” are printed in good readable type, and 

in handsome i2mo form. They are adequately illustrated 

and furnished with maps and indexes. Price, per vol., 

cloth, $1.50. Half morocco, gilt top, $1.75. 


The following volumes are now ready (November, 1891): 


THE story of GREECE. Prof. Jas. A. Harrison. 


” ** ROME. Arthur GiLMAN. 


*• THE JEWS. Prof. James K. Hosiaou 


” CHALDEA. Z. a. Ragozin. 


‘• GERMANY. S. Baring-Gould. 


” NORWAY. Hjalmar H. Boyesen. 


” *• SPAIN. Rev. E. E. and Susan Hale. 


” HUNGARY. Prof. A. VitMBiRY. 


” ” CARTHAGE. Prof. Alfred J. Church. 


.. TjjE SARACENS. Arthur Gilman. 


•• THE MOORS IN SPAIN. Stanley Lanb-Poouu 


.. THE NORMANS. Sarah Orne Jewett. 


•• PERSIA. S. G. W. Benjamin. 


•• ANCIENT EGYPT. Prof. Geo. Rawunson. 


” •• ALEXANDER’S EMPIRE. Prof. J. P. Mahafty. 


” ASSYRIA. Z. A, Ragozin. 


” THE GOTHS. Henry Bradley. 


” •* IRELAND. Hon. Emily Lawless. 


” .. TURKEY. Stanley Lane-Poole. 




•• MEDIi«:VAL FRANCE. Prof. Gustav Masjsom. . 


” ” HOLLAND. Prof. J. Thorold Rogers. 


•• MEXICO. Susan Hale. 


” ” PHOENICIA. Prof. Geo. Rawlinson. 


« .. TjjE HANSA TOWNS. Helen Zimmern. 


” EARLY BRITAIN. Prof. Alfred J. Church. 


” •* THE BARBARY CORSAIRS. Stanley Lans-Poolk. 


•• RUSSIA. W. R. Morfill, 


” •• THE JEWS UNDER ROME. W. D. Morrison. 


” ” SCOTLAND. John Mackintosh. 


«< 4. SWITZERLAND. R. Stead and Mrs. Arnold Hug. 


” ‘• PORTUGAL. H. Morse-Stephens. 




Now in press for immediate issue : 




” VEDIC INDIA. Z. A. Ragozin. 




” WALES AND CORNWALL. Owen M. Edwards. 

** CANADA. A. R. Macfarlane. 




New York London 




Deroes of tbe IRations. 




EVELYN ABBOTT M.A.» Fellow of Baujol College, OxroRx>. 




A Series of biographical studies of the lives and work 

of a number of representative historical characters about 

whom have gathered the great traditions of the Nations 

to which they belonged, and who have been accepted, in 

many instances, as types of the several National ideals* 

With the life of each typical character will be presented 

a picture of the National conditions surrounding him 

during his career. 


The narratives are the work of writers who are recog- 

nized authorities on their several subjects, and, while 

thoroughly trustworthy as history, will present picturesque 

and dramatic ” stories ‘* of the Men and of the events con« 

nected with them. 


To the Life of each “Hero” will be given one duo- 

decimo volume, handsomely printed in large type, pro- 

vided with maps and adequately illustrated according to 

tbe special requirements of the several subjects. The 

volumes will be sold separately as follows : 


Cloth extra |i 50 


Half morocco, uncut edges, gilt top . . . i 75 

Large paper, limited to 250 numbered copies for 

subscribers to the series. These may be ob- 

tained in sheets folded, or in cloth, uncut 

edges 3 SO 




The first group of the Series will comprise twelve 


volumes, as follows : 


Nelson, and the Naval Snpremacy of England. By W. Clark Russell, 

author of *’ The Wreck of the Grosvenor,” etc. (Ready April 15, 1890.) 


Gnstavns Ado^hus, and the Strug^g^le of Protestantism for Exist- 

ence. By C. R. L. Fletcher, M.A., late Fellow of All Souls College, 



Pericles, and the Golden Age of Athens. By Evelyn Abbott, M.A., 

Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. 


Alexander the Great, and the Extension of Greek Rule and of 

Greek Ideas. By Prof. Benjamin I. Wheeler, Cornell University. 


Theoderic the Goth, the Barbarian Champion of Civilization. By 


Thomas Hodgkin, author of *’ Italy and Her Invaders,” etc. 


Charlema^^ne, the Reorg^anizer of Europe. By Prof. George L. Burr, 

Cornell University, 


Henry of Navarre, and the Hugfuenots in France. By P. F. Willert, 

M.A., Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. 


William of Orang^e, the Founder of the Dutch Republic. 


By Ruth Putnam. 


Cicero, and the Fall of the Roman Republic. By J. L. Strachan 

Davidson, M.A., Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. 


Louis XIV., and the Zenith of the French Monarchy. By Arthur 

Hassall, M.A., Senior Student of Christ Church College, Oxford. 


Sir Walter Raleigh, and the Adventurers of Eng^land. 

By A. L. Smith, M.A., Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. 


Bismarck. The New German Empire : How It Arose ; What It 

Replaced ; And What It Stands For. By James Sime, author of 

** A Life of Lessing,” etc. 


To be followed by : 


Hannibal, and the Stnigfg^le between Carthage and Rome. 


By E. A. Freeman, D.C.L., LL.D., Regius Prof, of History in the 

University of Oxford. 


Alfred the Great, and the First King^dom in England. By F. York 

Powell, M.A., Senior Student of Christ Church College, Oxford. 


Charles the Bold, and the Attempt to Found a Middle Kingdom. 


By R. Lodge, M.A., Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford. 


John Calvin, the Hero of the French Protestants. By Owen M, 


Edwards, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. 


Oliver Cromwell, and the Rule of the Puritans In England. 

By Charles Firth, Balliol College, Oxford. 


Marlborough, and England as a Military Power. 


By C. W. C. Oman, A.M., Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. 


Jnlins Cesar, and the Organization of the Roman Empire. 


By W. Warde Fowler, M.A., Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. 



New York London 


y AND 39 Wbst Twbntv-third Street 




• _ -T 



Published on March 14, 2009 at 8:21 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I do not comment, but I browsed a few responses on this page THE JEWS UNDER ROMAN RULE �
    Hoff. I actually do have some questions for you if it’s okay. Could it be simply me or does it look like some of the comments look like they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting on additional places, I would like to follow you. Could you make a list of every one of all your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?


    I don’t allow any jews here. Brain dead comments? Tell me what one?

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