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Judas, surnamed Maccabeus, to succeed him in the command of the army, which was soon joined by many who were zealous for the law of God. He defeated several large armies of Antiochus under his bravest commanders, recovered Jerusalem, purified the temple, restored the appointed worship of God, and repaired the city, which had been almost a heap of ruins, B. Transported with rage at the defeat of his generals, Antiochus threatened to exterminate the whole nation of the Jews, and make Jerusalem their common burial place: but while these proud words were passing over his lips, the judgment of Heaven fell upon him; he was smitten with an incurable disease, with grievous torments in his bowels, and an intolerable ulcer, breeding vermin, by which his guilty life was terminated, B. c. 164. His son Eupator, under Lysias his general, engaged the neighbouring nations to unite in destroying the whole race of the Jews; but Judas, hearing of the alliance, carried the war into the countries of his enemies, and became a terrible scourge to the Syrians, Idumeans, and Arabians. Judas died in battle, B. c. 161, and was succeeded by his brother Jonathan ; who, with Simon his brother, continued to manage the affairs of his people with singular bravery and prudence.
Onias, the high-priest, having settled in Egypt, Jonathan assumed the sacerdotal office at Jerusalem, uniting it with the honour of civil governor, and formed an alliance with the Romans, B. c. 161. Jonathan being slain at Ptolemais, by the treachery of Tryphon, who had usurped the throne of Syria, Simon was chosen to succeed him, B. c. 144; and after a reformation at Jerusalem, he rendered the Jews independent of foreign nations. Having made a tour through the cities of Judea, for the purpose of promoting their peace and order, his son-in-law Ptolemy entertained him in his castle Dochus at Jericho, and murdered him, with his sons Judas and Mattathias, B. c. 135.
Simon was succeeded in the government and priesthood by his son John Hyrcanus, who extended his authority to several adjacent provinces; he destroyed the Samaritan temple on mount Gerizim, B. c. 130, after it had stood two hundred years, and compelled the Idumeans to embrace the Jewish religion. He renewed the alliance with the Romans, by which he secured considerable advantages for his nation, and died B. c. 107, leaving the sovereignty and priesthood to his son Aristobulus. This prince raised Judea again into a monarchy, and was the first after the captivity who assumed to himself the title of king. He was succeeded by his son Alexander Janneus, who compelled the Philistines to embrace the profession of the Jewish faith, B. c. 97. He reigned twenty-seven years, and died through intemperance, B. c. 79. .. The Roman alliance was found to be prejudicial to the interests of the Jews, who suffered much through the civil discords of Rome. The royal and pontifical dignity became a subject of violent contention, and the assistance of the Romans being called in by Aristobulus, against his elder brother Hyrcanus, Pompey seated Hyrcanus on the throne, but made Judea a tributary province of the Roman empire, B. C. 63. Pompey, with some of his officers, impiously entered the holy of holies; and Crassus, governor of Syria, pillaged the temple of ten thousand talents of silver, B. c. 54.
Soon after, Antipater, a crafty nobleman of Idumea, by favour of Julius Cæsar, was made procurator of Judea, B. C. 47, while Hyrcanus retained
the priesthood. Antipater was succeeded by his son Herod the great; who, being assisted by Antony, the Roman triumvir, through much bloodshed obtained the royal dignity, B. C. 40. His authority was confirmed by Augustus Cæsar, B. c. 30, and he maintained his dignity with distinguished ability, but also with most atrocious cruelty. During his long reign he built many cities; and to ingratiate himself with the Jews, he almost rebuilt their temple, Mark xiii. 1. John ii. 20. His inhuman barbarity towards the chil
dren of Bethlehem, in attempting to murder the infant Jesus, is recorded by the evangelist Matthew. Herod died soon afterwards, suffering the most dreadful torments. Under the government of his sons, Judea became more fully recognized as a Roman province; Shiloh came, and the sceptre departed from Judah, Gen. xlix. 10. the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was broken down, Eph. ii. 14. the dispensation of sovereign mercy to all nations was introduced ; and after being under the government of Roman procurators for some years, the whole Jewish state, with its ceremonial and temple, was altogether subverted, A. D. 70, by Titus, the son of the emperor Vespasian, and the people scattered throughout the world, as living monuments of the truth of Christianity.
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
CHAPTER I.-TITLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. THE title Testament, which is given more especially to this latter part of the Holy Scriptures, is taken from a Greek word, which properly signifies covenant. It is translated testament in Matt. xxvi. 28. Heb. ix. 15–17. but covenant, Heb. viii. 7-9. and in most other places. The Christians, in the primitive ages, adopted the present title for this volume of the Scriptures, because it records the free promises of God's covenant mercy and grace to penitent and believing sinners : these promises being ratified by the death of Christ, as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. It is not improperly called the New Testament, because it comprises those sacred writings in which the heavenly inheritance of Christians is sealed to them, as the adopted sons and daughters of God Almighty, through Jesus Christ, Heb. ix. 15—17.
The books of the New Testament are twenty-seven in number; and they are commonly classed in three divisions, historical, doctrinal, and prophetical. Of the first class are the gospels according to the records of the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles. The second includes twentyone epistles, or letters, which were addressed by the apostles to several of the first churches, and to individual Christians. The book of the Revelation constitutes the third division. The term gospel is more generally applied to the