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[299] But when Hyrcanus had put an end to this sedition, he after that lived happily, and administered the government in the best manner for thirty-one years, and then died, 1 leaving behind him five sons. He was esteemed by God worthy of three of the greatest privileges, - the government of his nation, the dignity of the high priesthood, and prophecy; for God was with him, and enabled him to know futurities; and to foretell this in particular, that, as to his two eldest sons, he foretold that they would not long continue in the government of public affairs; whose unhappy catastrophe will be worth our description, that we may thence learn how very much they were inferior to their father's happiness.

1 Here ends the high priesthood, and the life of this excellent person John Hyrcanus, and together with him the holy theocracy, or Divine government of the Jewish nation, and its concomitant oracle by Urim. Now follows the profane and tyrannical Jewish monarchy, first of the Asamoneans or Maccabees, and then of Herod the Great, the Idumean, till the coming of the Messiah. See the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 8. sect. 9. Hear Strabo's testimony on this occasion, B. XVI. p. 761, 762: "Those," says he, "that succeeded Moses continued for some time in earnest, both in righteous actions and in piety; but after a while there were others that took upon them the high priesthood, at first superstitious and afterward tyrannical persons. Such a prophet was Moses and those that succeeded him, beginning in a way not to be blamed, but changing for the worse. And when it openly appeared that the government was become tyrannical, Alexander was the first that set up himself for a king instead of a priest; and his sons were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus." All in agreement with Josephus, excepting this, that Strabo omits the first king, Aristobulus, who reigning but a single year, seems hardly to have come to his knowledge. Nor indeed does Aristobulus, the son of Alexander, pretend that the name of king was taken before his father Alexander took it himself, Antiq. B. XIV. ch. 3. sect. 2. See also ch. 12. sect. l, which favor Strabo also. And indeed, if we may judge from the very different characters of the Egyptian Jews under high priests, and of the Palestine Jews under kings, in the two next centuries, we may well suppose that the Divine Shechinah was removed into Egypt, and that the worshippers at the temple of Onias were better men than those at the temple of Jerusalem.

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