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1 HOW ANTIOCHUS, WHO WAS CALLED DIONYSUS, AND AFTER HIM ARETAS MADE EXPEDITIONS INTO JUDEA; AS ALSO HOW ALEXANDER TOOK MANY CITIES AND THEN RETURNED TO JERUSALEM, AND AFTER A SICKNESS OF THREE YEARS DIED; AND WHAT COUNSEL HE GAVE TO ALEXANDRA.
2 Spanheim takes notice that this Antiochus Dionysus [the brother of Philip, and of Demetrius Eucerus, and of two otbsrs] was the fifth son of Antiochus Grypus; and that he is styled on the coins, "Antiochus, Epiphanes, Dionysus."
3 This Aretas was the first king of the Arabians who took Damascus, and reigned there; which name became afterwards common to such Arabian kings, both at Petra and at Damascus, as we learn from Josephus in many places; and from St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:32. See the note on Antiq. B. XVI. ch. 9. sect. 4.
4 We may here and elsewhere take notice, that whatever countries or cities the Asamoneans conquered from any of the neighboring nations, or whatever countries or cities they gained from them that had not belonged to them before, they, after the days of Hyrcanus, compelled the inhabitants to leave their idolatry, and entirely to receive the law of Moses, as proselytes of justice, or else banished them into other lands. That excellent prince, John Hyrcanus, did it to the Idumeans, as I have noted on ch. 9. sect. 1, already, who lived then in the Promised Land, and this I suppose justly; but by what right the rest did it, even to the countries or cities that were no part of that land, I do not at all know. This looks too like unjust persecution for religion.
5 It seems, by this dying advice of Alexander Janneus to his wife, that he had himself pursued the measures of his father Hyrcanus. and taken part with the Sadducees, who kept close to the written law, against the Pharisees, who had introduced their own traditions, ch. 16. sect. 2; and that he now saw a political necessity of submitting to the Pharisees and their traditions hereafter, if his widow and family minded to retain their monarchical government or tyranny over the Jewish nation; which sect yet, thus supported, were at last in a great measure the ruin of the religion, government, and nation of the Jews, and brought them into so wicked a state, that the vengeance of God came upon them to their utter excision. Just thus did Caiaphas politically advise the Jewish sanhedrim, John 11:50, "That it was expedient for them that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not;" and this in consequence of their own political supposal, ver. 48, that, "If they let Jesus alone," with his miracles, "all men would believe on him, and the Romans would come and take away both their place and nation." Which political crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth brought down the vengeance of God upon them, and occasioned those very Romans, of whom they seemed so much afraid, that to prevent it they put him to death, actually to "come and take away both their place and nation" within thirty-eight years afterwards. I heartily wish the politicians of Christendom would consider these and the like examples, and no longer sacrifice all virtue and religion to their pernicious schemes of government, to the bringing down the judgments of God upon themselves, and the several nations intrusted to their care. But this is a digression. I wish it were an unseasonable one also. Josephus himself several times makes such digressions, and I here venture to follow him. See one of them at the conclusion of the very next chapter.
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