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When Herod had gained possession of Jerusalem by the assistance of the Romans, and his rival Antigonus was taken prisoner, and in the hands of the Roman general Sosius, and by him carried to Mark Antony, Herod, by a large sum of money, persuaded Antony to put him to death. Herod's great fear was, that Antigonus might sometime revive his pretensions, as being of the Asmonean family. Aristobulus, brother of his wife Mariamne, was murdered by his direction at eighteen years of age, because the people at Jerusalem had shown some affection for his person. In the seventh year of his reign, from the death of Antigonus, he put to death Hyrcanus, the grandfather of Mariamne, then eighty years of age, and who had saved Herod's life when he was prosecuted by the Sanhedrim ; a man, who in his youth, and in the vigour of his life, and in all the revolutions of his fortune, had shown a mild and peaceable disposition. His beloved wife, the beautiful and virtuous Mariamne, had a public execution, and her mother Alexandra followed soon after. Alexander and Aristobulus, his two sons by Mariamne, were strangled in a prison, by his order, upon groundless suspicions, as it seems, when they were at man's estate, were married, and had children. I say nothing of the death of his eldest son, Antipater. If Josephus's character of Herod be just, he was a miscreant, and deserved the worst death that could be inflicted; in his last sickness, a little before he died, he sent orders throughout Judæa, requiring the presence of all the chief men of the nation at Jericho.
66 When Herod was dead.”—Herod had nine wives, and by them many children. Three of his sons he put to death. Antipater being returned from Rome into Judæa, was convicted of his treasonable designs for the poisoning of his father, had sentence of condemnation passed upon him ; which being confirmed by Augustus, he was accordingly put to death upon it: and, five days after that execution, died Herod himself, in the seventieth year of his age, after he had reigned, from the time of his being declared king at Rome, thirty-seven years, and from the death of Antigonus thirtyfour.
Knowing the hatred the Jews had for him, he concluded aright, that there would be no lamentation at his death, but rather gladness and rejoicing for it all the country over. To prevent this, he framed a project and resolution in his mind, which was one of the most horrid, and most wicked, perchance, that ever entered into the heart of man. For having issued out a summons to all the principal and most eminent Jews in his kingdom, commanding their appearance at Jericho, where he then lay, on pain of death, at a day appointed, on their arrival thither, he shut them all
in the circus, and then sending for Salome his sister, and Alexas her husband, commanded them that, as soon as he was dead, they should send in the soldiers upon the and put them all to the sword; “ for this,” said he, “ will provide mourning for my funeral all over the land, and make the Jews in every family thereof lament at my death ;” and when he had adjured them thereto, some hours after he gave up the ghost, and died.
But Salome and Alexas not being wicked enough to do what they had been made solemnly to promise, rather chose to break their obligation, and therefore, as soon as Herod was dead, they opened the circus, and permitted all to return again every man to his own home. The history of this his most wicked design takes off all objection to the truth of his murdering the innocents.
Herod's disease grew yet more and more bitterly violent; God exacting this
vengeance upon him for the punishment of the many great enormities he had been guilty of. He had a slow fever, not showing itself so much to the outward touch and feeling, as more grievously burning him within. Moreover, he had a strong canine appetite for meat, which nothing could satisfy. His bowels were ulcerated, especially the colon gut, from whence he suffered grievous pains. His feet being swollen, from thence issued forth a phlegmatic and shining humour. Moreover, the disease had seized the lower part of his belly, and an ulcer broke out, breeding worms and lice; besides he had a shortness of breath, and that very stinking and unsavoury. He had also a troublesome flux of rheum with it, and an asthmatic difficulty of breathing. And the patient not having strength enough to bear all this, there followed a convulsion of all parts of his body.
JOSEPHUS, the Jewish Historian.
“ That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” Israel was a type of Christ, as being by God called his “ Son,” his “ First-born,” (Exod. iv. 22); and God bearing the relation of “a Father to Israel,” (Jer. xxxi. 9): hence Israel is put for Christ, (Isai. xlix. 3,) in these words, “ Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified ;” and what is in the Hebrew, “ Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth,” (Isai. xlii. 1,) is in the Chaldee, “ My servant the Messiah,” and in the Greek, “ Jacob my servant, and Israel mine elect.” Now as a prophetical prediction is then fulfilled when what was foretold is come to pass ; so a type is then fulfilled, when that is done in the anti-type which was done in the type.
St. Matthew cites only these words of Hosea, “ Out of Egypt have I called my Son,” as words to be fulfilled in Christ, and not any more, making Israel a type of Christ only in this regard, that they were called out of Egypt, as he was to be so; so that it doth not hence follow that any other words in this prophecy are to be referred to Christ, and so, no argument taken from the following words, which ilo not belong to him, can be of
any validity to prove that these do not, which here the Holy Ghost applieth to him. Nor is it any objection against what hath been said, that the Jews could not understand this intendment of these words, for they were not concerned to understand it till the completion of these words in Christ; and then, sure, they, who abounded with mystical interpretations of the law and the prophets, could not reasonably object against this application of these words to God's calling his own Son out of Egypt.
There is no legitimate application of an Old Testament passage, which does not rest upon a foundation of solid reason, though that may be sometimes far from obvious, and may exist under limitations. Perhaps there are no instances that may be regarded as more completely accommodations than Matt. ii. 15, 18, and John xix. 36. But when it is considered that “ Israel, called out of Egypt,” contained the promise, the covenant, and the ancestry of the Messiah, and that this measure in the providence of Heaven would not have taken place, but with a view to that future Messiah ;—that the sorrows of the bereaved mothers of Ramah would never have been occasioned, had not the covenant of Israel been violated, and that the massacre of Bethlehem was a repetition of the same sorrows, and on the same description of persons ;—and that the Paschal Lamb, whose bones were to be so solicitously preserved from being broken, was a designed emblem (according to the ancient practice of recording knowledge by symbolical actions) of “ Christ our passover being sacrificed for us ;
it will appear that these applications were not arbitrary, not made because of a fortuitous coincidence, not a compliance with a vicious Jewish practice, but possessing a real and just connexion, formed by the comprehensiveness of the Divine plan, and the Providential disposal of events, in themselves very minute and apparently very inconsiderable. Yet I would not call these and similar instances, prophecies of the Messiah, but pre-arranged allusions.
DR. J. P. Smith. He shall be called a Nazarene.- A threefold interpretation is given of these words. Some read the words, 1, He shall be called a Nazarite. The Nazarites were a religious and separate rank of persons among the Jews, who abstained from wine, and came not near the dead for fear of pollution. Christ was a holy person, but no Nazarite, in a strict sense ; for he drank wine, and touched the dead. 2. Others read the words, He shall be called a Netzer, a Branch, in allusion to Isai. xi. 1. where he is called a Branch of the root of Jesse. Christ was the true branch of which the prophets had so often spoken. 3. Others will have the word Nazarene refer to the city of Nazareth, where Christ was conceived, and lived most of his time. He shall be called a Nazarene, because he dwelt at the city of Nazareth. Hence his disciples were called a sect of the Nazarenes ; that is, the followers of him that dwelt at Nazareth: and Christ himself is pleased to own the title, (Acts xxii. 8,) I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest! Learn from hence, the great humility of mind that was found in our Saviour. He was born at Bethlehem, a little city; he lives at Nazareth, a poor, contemptible place: he aspires not after the grandeur of the world, but is meek and lowly in spirit. May the same humble mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus ! Rev. W. BURKITT.