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Chapter XVII.

Against him Alexander of Macedon engaged in war. And on his being conquered, the sovereign power was taken from the Persians, after having lasted, from the time of its establishment by Cyrus, two hundred and fifty years. Alexander, the conqueror of almost all nations, is said to have visited the temple at Jerusalem, and to have conveyed gifts into it; and he proclaimed throughout the whole territory which he had reduced under his sway that it should be free to the Jews living in it to return to their own country. At the end of the twelfth year of his reign, and seven years after he had conquered Darius, he died at Babylon. His friends who, along with him, had carried on those very important wars, divided his empire among themselves. For some time they administered the charges they had undertaken without making use of the name of king, while a certain Arridæus Philippus, the brother of Alexander, reigned, to whom, being of a very weak character, the sovereignty was nominally and in appearance given, but the real power was in the hands of those who had divided among themselves the army and the provinces. And indeed this state of things did not long continue, but all preferred that they should be called by the name of kings. In Syria Seleucus was the first king after Alexander, Persia and Babylon being also subject to his sway. At that time the Jews paid an annual tribute of three hundred talents of silver to the king; but they were governed not by foreign magistrates but by their own priests. And they lived according to the fashions of their ancestors until very many of them again corrupted by a long peace, began to mingle all things with seditions, and to create disturbances, while they aimed at the high-priesthood under the influence of lust, avarice, and the desire of power.

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