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1 CHAP. 7.

SANHEDRIM.

79

dealings with his Church and the nations of the earth, and ena. bled us to behold the exact fulfilment of his prophetic revela. tions.

After the return of the Jews from captivity, they remained in a feeble state, under the Persian monarchs. The last of their governors from among themselves, was Nehemiah. At his death they were transferred to the prefecture of Syria, by which they were subjected to an easy tribute. They lived however under their own laws, governed by the High Priest, and might have been a happy people, had it not been for long continued and violent contests by brothers and others nearly related, for the sacerdotal dignity, and the tyrannical conduct of some who were raised to it. An office so holy, should ever have been filled by holy men of God; but, like the pontificate in after ages, it was sought for by men of ambition and avarice, as a place in which the vilest passions might be gratified. As its civil authority came from the Syrian governor, it was purchased and retained by money, and the worst political artifices. The nation was thrown by contending candidates, into violent conflicts, and was burdened with heavy taxes to satisfy the demands of the prefect.

At a subsequent period, we find associated with the High Priest, in the government of the nation, a grand council called the Sanhedrim, consisting of 72 judges, which possessed the power of life and death. The Jews called it “ a hedge to the laws;" and maintained that it was instituted by God in the days of Moses, when He appointed 72 elders to aid him in the government. But as we find no account of it in the Old Testa. ment, it is evident that it was an institution of modern date. Bas. nage and others have fixed its first institution in the time of the Maccabees. Its authority extended over all the synagogues in the world, and no appeal could be made from its sentence.

The religious services of the Jews continued much upon the plan established by Ezra and Nehemiah. A synagogue or church was built in every city. At the east end was a chest or ark, bearing a resemblance to the ark of the covenant in the Temple; in which was placed the Pentateuch, written upon vellum. The people assembled for prayer, three times every day; in the morning, afternoon and evening. On the Sabbath day and on festival days, the law and the prophets were read and expound. ed. Their form of worship was much the same as in Christian assemblies, and is retained to this day.

As has been remarked, the Jews were cured by the captivity, of their idolatry. They ever looked upon that sin as the cause

of their curse. In the great revival under Ezra, they consecrated themselves anew to God, and would have been happy, had they continued a holy people unto the Lord-looking, with lively faith, to the coming of the desire of all nations. But alas ! they soon degenerated into cold formality and debasing superstition; and, instead of purity of morals and true devotion, offered little to God but a fiery zeal for the rites and ceremonies of the Church. Could we look among the mountains and vallies of Judea, we should, no doubt, in every age find many a devout Simeon and praying Anna, “ waiting for the consolation of Israel.” God has ever had a people to serve him.

This nation he had owned in his gracious convenant. Here, under his word and ordinances, lived the true Church. Here many souls were trained up for glory. But history chiefly presents us the painful conflicts of violent men, contending for the priesthood, and not less violent doctors, corrupting the law of Moses, and introducing tenets and customs which made void the commandments of God. These, with their results, must be record. ed, that a full view may be presented of the state of the Church, and the providences of God in relation to it.

So early as the year 366, B. C. we find a conflict for the High Priesthood, terminating in blood, and bringing great oppression upon the Jewish nation. Johanan, the son of Jehoida, had succeeded his father in the High Priesthood; but Joshua, his bro. ther, having insinuated himself into the favour of Bagoses, governor of Syria, obtained of him a grant of the office. A dispute ensued ; and Joshua was slain by Johanan in the inner court of the Temple. This act of violence so enraged Bagoses, that he imposed an enormous fine upon the pontiff and Temple annually, for seven years.

A few years after this unhappy event, the Jews imprudently engaged with the Phenicians in a war against Ochus,

the Persian monarch; in consequence of which, he entered Judea, took Jericho, and carried captive many of the Jews into Egypt, and sent others to the borders of the Caspian sea.

The Persian monarchy (the breast and arms of silver, of the great image of Nebuchadnezzar) had now continued about 200 years; but according to the sure word of prophecy, it was drawing to its close to be succeeded by the Grecian ; represented by the belly and thighs of brass. For the accomplishment of his purpose, God raised up Alexander, the son of Philip, king of Macedonia, and endowed him with talents for the accomplishment of vast and glorio's undertakings. Ac. tuated by an ambition to conquer the world, this prince went

CHAP. 7.

DANIEL'S RAM AND HE GOAT.

81

forth furiously with a small but powerful army, against Darius, king of Persia, and became a triumphant conquerer of armies and dominions, which had been considered invincible, and established on the ruins of the Persians, the third great empire of the earth. These events took place 334–0 B. C.

Besides the general representations of it in the image of Nebuchadnezzar, and in Daniel's vision of four beasts, that distinguished prophet had another more particular and striking view of it, in his vision of the ram and the he goat.

- Then I lifted up mine eyes” said Daniel, “and saw, and behold there stood before the river a ram, which had two horns, and the two horns were high up, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.” This ram, according to the interpretation of Gabriel, was the empire of the Medes and Persians. “I saw,” says the Prophet, “the ram pushing westward and northward and southward so that no beast might stand before him.” Under Cyrus and his successors, the Persians pushed their conquests on every side. “And as I was considering, behold an he goat came from the west, on the face of the whole earth and touched not the ground; and the he goat had a notable horn between his eyes. By the Angel Gabriel the prophet was told that this rough goat was the king of Greece and the great horn that was between his eyes, was the first king. And he came,” said Daniel, “to the ram that had two horns which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns, and there was no power in thc ram, to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and stamped upon him and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

This wonderful prophecy thus delivered 230 years before, received a most exact fulfilment in the rapid and irresistible * movements of the Grecian conqueror. Alexander, the leo.

pard in a former vision, and the he.goat from the west in this, flew with incredible swiftness, and came upon his enemies before they were aware of him or could place themselves in a posture of defence. At the river Granicus he met Darius with all his army. He commanded 35,000 men, while Darius had five times that number. But he regarded him not. He ran unto him in the fury of his power, and he smote the ram and brake his two horns. Media and Persia were no more. He routed all the armies, took all the cities and castles, and subverted for ever the Persian empire. Thus did this mad and ferocious hea.

then prince become the instrument of effecting, in part, the divine purpose declared by Ezekiel* “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him.”

Having overthrown the Persian empire, Alexander pushed his conquest into Phenicia. Every place opened its gates until he came to the ancient city Tyre, where he met a serious check. Tyre belonged to the tribe of Asher, but was never taken from the Canaanites. Situated upon the sea, it became a place of great trade, opulence and splendour. But it abounded also in pride and wickedness, and gloried over Jeru. salem, the city of God, when she was chastened of heaven. God therefore determined to display over it his righteous indigna. tion, and by his prophets, he declared that he would destroy it utterly.f He first brought against it Nebuchadnezzar. It was a city of amazing strength; and for thirteen years this mighty potentate besieged it, until “every head was made bald and every shoulder was peeled.” At length it was taken 572 B. C. and the predictions of the prophets, were, in part, fulfilled. But the inhabitants removed themselves and their effects to an island, and it was not utterly destroyed. It was for Alexander to complete the divine purpose. He found it again populous and strong; but after a costly and terrible siege he took the city by force, put 8000 of the inhabitants to the sword, crucified 2000, and sold 30,000 for slaves. After this it never recovered its glory. It is now in fulfilment of the divine decree, a place for fishermen to spread their nets. So true is it that God reigneth in the earth, and will do all his pleasure. “The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who can disannul.”

The next movement of this weapon of the Lord, was against Jerusalem. The Jews pleading their oath to Darius, refused to furnish Alexander with supplies for his army while encamped against Tyre. This exceedingly enraged that suc. cessful monarch, and he determined to wreck his vengeance upon Jerusalem. At his approach, the Jews were thrown into the greatest consternation. They immediately offered to God sacrifices, prayers and supplications; and, being directed, as it is said, in a vision by night, Jaddua, the High Priest went out to meet the conqueror, dressed in his pontifical robes, with all the priests in their sacerdotal vestments, and the people in white garments.

Struck with awe at the so

* xxi. xxvii.

† Isaiah, xxiii. Ezekiel, xxvi. xxvii. xxviii,

CHAP. 7.

ALEXANDER AT JERUSALEM.

83

name.

lemn spectacle, Alexander hastened forward, and bowed him. self to the earth before the High Priest, and worshipped Jeho. vah, whose name was inscribed on the mitre. Parmenias, his favourite, astonished at his behaviour, inquired why he did thus? Alexander, who well knew how to improve every occurrence in his own favour, assured him that when he was at Dio, in Macedonia, and deliberating with himself what he should do, this very pontiff, in this habit, appeared to him in a dream, and encouraged him to pursue the war against the Persians, assuring him of complete success in all his undertakings. The king embraced the High Priest, entered Jerusalem in a friendly man. ner with the procession, and offered sacrifices to God in the Temple. Jaddua then showed him the prophecies of Daniel, which predicted the overthrow of the Persian empire by a Grecian king. This produced a feeling of great exultation in the king, and made him favour the Jewish nation. He suffered them to remain unmolested under their own laws, and in the enjoyment of their own religion ; exempted them from the usual tribute on the seventh or sabbatical year, and gave many of them a place, with important privileges, in a new city which he built in Egypt, and which he called Alexandria, after his own

No power was yet to destroy a place where God had re. corded his name.

Beholding the attention which the conqueror paid to the Temple and city of Jerusalem, the Samaritans immediately advanced to meet him, and asked the like favours; but as they were not Jews, they plead in vain ; and when, a short time after, some of them mutinied against his Syrian governor, he drove them all from Samaria, and planted there a small colony of Greeks. The Samaritans retired to Shechem under mount Gerzim, the place of their temple, and there they have remained to the present time.

It will not be uninteresting to trace the further course and end of this distinguished man, so plainly pointed out in prophecy, and raised up for the execution of such important pur. poses. From Jerusalem, Alexander went into Egypt; found: ed the city of Alaxandria, and visited the heathen temple of Jupiter Ammon, situated about 200 miles in the deserts of Lybia. Having caused himself to be declared the son of that heathen god, he returned to Syria, and Persia ; overcame again the Persians who had gathered against him; pushed his conquests be. yond the Indus, and would gladly have gone beyond the Ganges; but his soldiers refused to follow him farther, and he returned to Babylon. There he suddenly died of a fever, produced by a

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