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funeral obsequies. Severe to the enemies of the people, she drove into exile, or executed (according to the wishes of the people) those of the ministers and minions of Alexander-Janneus, who were considered as the cause of his errors and his crimes; she released all prisoners of state who had suffered in the popular cause, recalled many banished patriots, enrolled a number of foreign troops in her demoralized army, and kept the neighbouring princes in such fear of her policy and her power, that she was enabled to obtain hostages for their fealty and alliance.

Well studied in the character of her two sons, Aristobulus and Hiram, and knowing the temperaments they had inherited from their father, (for they shared between them his mental incapacity and violent passions,) she assigned the pontificate to Hiram, (the eldest and most incapable), on whose blind submission to her own powerful party, the Pharisees, she counted; while she left the brave and aspiring, but reckless and incompetent Aristobulus without power, or means to disturb that national repose and salutary peace, which it was her wise policy and good fortune to preserve, during the entire of her prosperous and tranquil reign.

To the last, her wisdom and discretion served the country over which she reigned; and when Tigranes, king of Armenia, had marched upon Syria, with the intention of proceeding to conquer Judea, Alexandra avoided the imminent danger, by timely concessions of the belligerent king, by offerings and presents to the sordid man, of such value, that Tigranes expressed to her ambassadors the high estimation in which he held her great qualities, and the sense he felt for her noble liberality: accordingly, he slackened his march, and changed his purposes.

Alexandra, the last sovereign queen of Judea, died in her seventy-third year, revered by her subjects, respected by her allies, and feared by her enemies. This princess (says her historian) had nothing of the weakness of her sex; her actions proved her capacity to govern, and were even finely contrasted to the crimes and incapacity of cotemporary princes. She attached herself to practical utility, preferring the present benefit of the people to the indulgence of vain theories for the future. She believed

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VOL. I.

that moderation is the secret of good government, and that truth and justice should be the rule of action in a state. Still these great qualities did not prevent her from forfeiting many of the advantages, (which her high ambition and perilous labours had obtained for her,) by adopting a party in preference to the entire people, and following the pernicious councils of the Pharisees, the enemies of her house. Although her reign passed in peace, her death was the signal of trouble and misfortune to her people. *

The sanguinary and unbrotherly contests, the feebleness and indiscretions of the two sons of Alexandra, Hiram the pontiff, and the Prince Aristobulus, who on the death of their mother desolated Palestine with civil wars, justified her opinion of their incapacity to reign. By their intrigues with Asiatic princes, and, above all, with Pompey, Cæsar, and Mark Antony, they plunged their country, for a series of years, in factious insurrection, and finally threw it under the feet of Rome; destroying for ever that last fragment of political independence, which the tribes of Israel had brought with them from the desert and the wilderness.

Wearied by the respective applications of the rival brothers, disgusted with the feebleness of the High Priest Hiram, and indignant at the treachery of the nominal king Aristobulus, Pompey abandoned both, besieged Jerusalem, and took and plundered its august temple (which the Jewish troops had occupied as a fortress). Carrying the Prince Aristobulus, his wife, and two sons, captives to Rome (where the eldest Alexander, the husband of the daughter of his uncle Hiram, without any obvious purpose, was shortly after beheaded), he left the feeble pontiff Hiram under the protection of Antipater, (the governor for the Romans of Palestine) to lead a stealthy and obscure life—the shadow of a shade of the princely pontificate of Israel.

But, while the men of this ancient dynasty, the sons and grandsons of the wise Alexandra, were thus scattered and broken down, terminating their eventful lives in ignominious death, or surviving the honours of their ancient race in inglorious captivity, there was still remaining one great scion of the stem of the Asmoneans—one daughter of the house of David-worthy of her illustrious descent, a fit representative of her whose name she bore, whose spirit she inherited, and whose genius she surpassed ! This was another Alexandra, the only child of Hiram, the sovereign pontiff, who, having been early married to her cousin Alexander, the son of Aristobulus, saw her youthful husband dragged a prisoner to Rome, and heard of his ignominious death, at the moment when she was giving birth to Aristobulus, the last lineal king of Judea, and inheritor of the pontificate of Jerusalem.

* Josephus, book xiii. chap. 24.

Alexandra was a true Hebrew woman of the old caste, of a quenchless spirit, of a fervid imagination, and an imperturbable mind. Ambitious, and full of deviceful stratagem, where the rights of her family, her country, or her religion, were at stake; capable of any enterprise for their preservation, and resolutely bent on upholding to the last that great system which had hitherto governed the many by the superior wisdom of the few, she gave all her energies and talents to support the hereditary hierarchy of Israel, then vested in the person of her aged father, and destined to be the inheritance of her infant and fatherless son, whose beauty was said “ to approach to that of Divinity itself.” The oppressed Jews fixed their hopes on this mother of the last of their kings. Alexandra was a great link in the chain of their association, and the holy fabric, which Miriam assisted Moses to raise in the Desert, was still watched over by this true daughter of Levi, with the spiritual devotedness of a consecrated priestess, and the pertinacious energy of a fond and an ambitious mother.

While the men of her family groaned in captivity, and submitted to degradation in a humiliating exile, the daughter of the sovereign pontiff, bereaved of all but her own brave spirit, and her woman's intensity of purpose, clung to the ruins of her father's deserted altars. Whether the temple of Jehovah resounded with hosannas, and breathed the incense of frankincense and myrrh, or echoed to the frightful crash of arms, and was stained with the hot blood of the wounded and the dying, still, there she was, courageously braving all danger, true to her family, her religion, and her country.

But not alone did she encounter the curses of the vengeance-breathing Jews, or the fury of the barbarous Roman soldiery–her two children were still beside her. Those children whose angelic beauty was well adapted to the holy sanctuary, in which they had been reared and sheltered), shared her dangers and imbibed her spirit. The younger Aristobulus, like Samuel, was already serving the altars of the temple in the infant priesthood, the future sovereign pontiff of Judea ; and Mariamne, her immortal daughter, the impersonation of all that was lovely, and wise, and brave-spirited, in the women of her race, was, with her brother, at her mother's side, who in the midst of all her desolation, was blessed in their possession. The struggles of Alexandra to preserve these blessings, and to rescue and restore the rights of her children formed the great epic of her life.

But, illustrious as was the character of this greatly endowed woman, noble as was the object to which she directed all her great moral powers, she had to contend with a force greater than any which she possessed, the sovereign will and physical superiority of her master man. In an epoch when physical force was every where reassuming its ascendancy, she had to contend, on all sides, with those selfish passions, and to grapple with that reckless ambition, which ultimately resolved society into its first elements, consummating the ruin of all that was known of liberty, and preparing the entire world for the degradation of mind, and the overthrow of civilisation.

But still she did contend; and though she fell in the contest, though her nature became perverted under the force of evil circumstances, she represented in the tragic action of her life, the pertinacity of spirit, and the sublime indestructibility of the maternal instinct, beyond the reach of all external forces to paralyse or extinguish.

The dynasty of the Asmoneans was rapidly disappearing. Aristobulus was put to death by the partisans of Pompey. His sole surviving son, Antigone, was a fugitive suppliant at the Asiatic courts, seeking aid for the recovery of his

rights, and destined to perish in the attempt. Hiram, the venerable pontiff, on the death of Pompey, had been taken under the protection of Cæsar, and again presided at the altars of his fathers; and his wise, wary, and superintelligent daughter, Alexandra, the moving spring of all, watched over the safety of her father, her children, her country and her religion, as the last vestal priestess of a ruined temple feeds the extinguishing light which flickers on its desecrated altar.

Cæsar, moved by the representations of an embassy from Jerusalem, (suspected to have been organized by Alexandra, whose feeble and indolent father was incapable of exertion) ordered the senate to receive into the alliance and friendship of the Roman people, the Jews and their sovereign pontiff. He also commanded Antipater, his governor in Palestine, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which Pompey had thrown down ; and he enabled Hiram to re-edify the holy sanctuary which Cassius had pillaged! It was further commanded by “ Cæsar, emperor, dictator, and Pontisex Maximus of Rome,” “ that the descendants of Hiram should be princes and pontiffs of Judea, in perpetuity, and should exercise the office of grand sacrificers, according to the laws and customs of their nation. Even Athens, republican Athens, came forward at this epoch, to confer on the representative of the kings of Israel a crown of gold, while it awarded him a statue of bronze, to be placed in the temple of the graces.”

But, amidst all these honours, by which Rome and Greece marked their respect for one of the oldest, though the smallest nation of the earth, Alexandra saw that the power of her father was a shadow, and the destiny of her children full of peril and darkness,-that Judea approached “ her desolation,” and that other temples would soon arise, to efface that to which her fathers had brought the ark from the wilderness. She saw that the glory of her race had reached its solstice, that a new power was growing up in Jerusalem ; and she fixed her prophetic eye on Herod, the youngest son of Antipater (the governor of Jerusalem), though then only known by his great qualities and brilliant courage. Herod, the champion of Palestine, the

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