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those who well knew both the Emperor and the parasite, than I wrote to Herod, laying before him, borne out by incontestible evidence, the account of the actual state of political affairs and the failing power of the once great minister. I assured him that the depending upon aught from Sejanus, either in the way of money or forces, was vain; that so far from possessing any influence in Rome, so as to attempt any such movement now as might, perhaps, with much probability of success, have been attempted a year before, he was at present little more than a private individual whom all looked upon as fallen under the displeasure and suspicions of Tiberius, and destined to speedy ruin; that whatever it was in his purpose to do in Judea must be done with his own strength, unless, relinquishing his plans concerning Herodias, he could bind himself in league with the kings of Arabia and Parthia; that, however, although nothing was to be looked for in Rome from political union, yet much was to be expected from the men of wealth among the Jewish population, which was large in numbers, and, as he knew, distinguished for the riches they had amassed. To these, if it were his pleasure, I would devote myself, and engage them to lend of their abundance to the restoration of the kingdom of Israel; and it was not to be doubted, so constantly were their eyes directed that way, and their hopes to one day returning and dwelling in their native land beneath the power of their own king, in the new age that should unfold, that they would be impatient to bestow in proportion to their substance to secure that great and glorious end. These with other things I communicated to the Tetrarch not many days after I had been in Rome.
The letter which I thus despatched proved to be the termination of my intercourse with Herod, for upon receiving it and thereby learning beyond any further doubt that hopes of alliance with Rome against herself could no longer be indulged, and that in consequence any immediate action was rendered impossible, he turned toward that
other project which he had never honestly abandoned, the marriage with Herodias, and the divorce of the daughter of Aretas. He, indeed, wrote to me after receiving the letter I had sent, and in it he hoped that I would continue to be engaged in his affairs in the manner I had proposed, and if I could not derive any longer advantage from Sejanus, to do what I could with the Jewish inhabitants. But it was not long after this that in a letter from Judith and Onias I learned that he was bent upon accomplishing his designs with the wife of Herod Philip. When this was made known to me I at the same moment abandoned his cause, not being able to persuade myself that prosperity could attend the measures of one who should openly put from him the fear of God; nor being ready to take any part in the injury of two men so holy as John and Jesus for the advantage of one so wicked as Herod. The necessity thus laid upon me of suddenly withdrawing from an enterprise to which I had now so long bound myself, of whose success, wisely conducted, I could not doubt, with the success of which I deemed the glory of Israel to be so closely interwoven, gave me no little pain, and I could not for a time but hope and almost believe that Herod would return to himself, and, repenting of his evil designs, resume on his own strength the undertaking he had so foolishly postponed to the gratification of his passions. But what I soon learned from Judith put an end to all such expectations. She thus wrote.
LETTER FROM JUDITH. HEROD'S DIVORCE. HERODIAS.
JOHN DENOUNCES HEROD'S WICKEDNESS. -HE IS IMPRISONED. JUDITH's Faith. LETTER FROM ONIAS. THE LEPER HEALED. — Joy of Ruth. SATURNINUS BELIEVES IN JESUS. SALOME'S DANCE. – HEROD'S OATH.- DEATH OF John.
W, Julian, let me trust that you will finally and
without reserve abandon the affairs of Herod, when I shall inform you further of the course he has pursued. Never have I been able, notwithstanding all the efforts of Onias and all the reasonings and persuasions of his nephew of Rome, to entertain other opinion of Herod than that which I have often expressed. I believe that you will now join yourself in judgment to me, and think of him even as I do; yet of my father, I lament to say it, have I no hope that he will ever be separated from one to whom he seems bound by a spell cast over him by evil spirits rather than by reasons which his own mind has weighed and can calmly justify.
“ It is not easy to say why it was so, but certain it is that your presence was a restraint upon the Tetrarch. It may have been because he stood in some dread of your plain speaking, or, which is more likely, because he hoped to derive advantages through your means he could secure in no other way so well. No sooner were you gone, than as if he had been relieved of some load, or had escaped from some painful obligation, he gave himself at once to the
passion which many asserted he had mastered, and not only resorted immediately to Jerusalem, but entertained Herodias in the most open manner in his own palace in Tiberias. This was followed by consequences easily foreseen — the sudden departure of the daughter of Aretas for her father's court, and letters breathing vengeance and war from the insulted king. These things coming, as could not be otherwise, to the ears of John, he proclaimed publicly the wickedness of the Tetrarch, and denounced him to the people as a despiser and transgressor of the Law, and one who through the violence and wickedness of his passions was about to bring all the evils of war upon his country. But alas! he spoke into the ears of the deaf, and to hearts too corrupted by the like iniquities to be touched by the admonitions of that stern but righteous man. They heard him, but heeded him not. Enough were found of the same stamp with the king, who in his condemnation by the prophet had heard also their own, to carry to his ears a report of all he had said, which inflaming the king to a high pitch of rage he sent out his soldiers, seized John, and hurried him off to the dungeons of Machærus, where he has since been strictly confined, and out of which it is not difficult to see he will never come. Herod, indeed, hath some fear and even reverence of him for with all his vice he stands in dread not only of invisible spirits of evil but of spirits of good also, of everything that is mysterious and obscure — and therefore he might release him when his end was once gained, and for the reason also that he may apprehend commotions among those of the people who hold John to be a prophet; but if such should be the inclinations of his own not merciful but cowardly heart, there will be none such in the bosom of her to whom he will now ally himself, who hath long treasured up her anger against the bold peasant who has dared to thrust himself in between princes and the accomplishment of whatever designs they may please to entertain, and hath been one cause at least of so long a postponement of an event which she even more than Herod has sought to compass.
6 Of Jesus we learn that few miracles have of late been wrought, but that he employs himself in preaching in the synagogues the truths which he conceives to be most essential, and in which the differences are to be discerned between what he holds to be best, and the ancient Law of Moses. But so far as I have learned he seems to be rather a restorer of the Law to its true significance, and a rebuker of prevailing corruptions and abuses of it, than one who would overthrow and destroy it, of which purpose some fail not to accuse him.”
I often at this time received letters from Judith informing me of the progress of Jesus and of the oppositions he encountered, and of herself seeking him in Galilee and becoming a constant follower and hearer. Of her own opinions at this time — the period just going before the Feast of Tabernacles - I gathered that, with the common people, she received him with an undoubting faith as the Messiah. “ The Pharisees,” she says, “ are exceedingly bitter against him, and by the power they hold in their hands they deter many from following him and confessing themselves disciples. But the lower sort, who have nothing to lose, neither place nor estimation, laugh at these tyrants, and crowd about him gladly and fearlessly. I consort with these; sit and hear with them, and believe with them. They doubt not, and how should I doubt, that Jesus will prove all we wish and all that we want; since it is impossible for those who will see and hear him to associate deceit with him, or any purpose or design other than those which he plainly avows. Now he declares that he hath come from God, that the prophets have foreshown him as he who is to come, that the kingdom of God is shortly to make its appearance and be established, and that he is the Christ who shall reign over the new kingdom. Can it be otherwise than so, since he has declared it? I think not. And oh, how peaceful and hallowed a people would they be over whom Jesus shall reign as King ! How different he from the other kings of the earth! with