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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE FALSE ALEXANDER

WHILE the decision in regard to the dominions of Herod still remained in suspense, a body of fifty Jews arrived in Rome to petition for independence from all kingly rule. They were supported by eight thousand of their countrymen then residing in Rome. Caesar called together a council in order that the cause might be heard. On one side stood the ambassadors and the Roman Jews, on the other Archelaus and his friends.

The ambassadors spoke first, and charged their former king, Herod, with the greatest exhortations and cruelties. They said that the Jews were more unhappy under him than during their captivity in Babylon, and that Archelaus had shown himself to be like his father, by slaughtering three thousand Jews at the feast of the Pentecost. They therefore prayed Caesar to allow no more kings to reign in Judea, but to annex the country to Syria and to let it be ruled by Roman governors, and said that they would show that they knew how to obey authority mildly exercised. The eloquent Nicolaus spoke for Archelaus, and refuted the charges against the royal personages; he declared the Jews to be a rebellious set, and by nature disobedient to their sovereigns. Caesar, having listened attentively to both sides, dismissed the council, and, after having thought over the matter for a few days, he decided for the [328] most part to confirm the will of Herod. He therefore bestowed upon Archelaus the government of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria, under the title of ethnarch, promising to make him king should he prove deserving. Antipas received Galilee and Peraea; Philip, another son of Herod, got for his portion Batanaea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and Paneas. Salome, Herod's sister, obtained the government and revenues of several cities. Other members of Herod's family received such bequests as he had left them in his will. Caesar divided a thousand talents which Herod had left him between two unmarried daughters of Herod, and gave them in marriage to two sons of Pheroras, keeping for himself only a few articles of plate in honor of his dead friend.

At this juncture another trouble arose. There suddenly appeared in Rome a young Jew, who pretended that he was the prince Alexander whom Herod had ordered to be killed. He looked very much like the dead Alexander, and had been trained to act his part by a Jew who had been much at the court of Herod. And so well did he do it that he completely deceived the Jews in Crete and Melos, who furnished him with money to go to Rome and claim the Jewish throne as his inheritance. He explained his escape from the death that Herod had ordered by saying that the executioners had taken compassion on both himself and his brother Aristobulus and allowed them to escape, placing in their stead dead bodies resembling theirs. As soon as this imposter arrived in Rome he was received by the Jews with loud acclamations as the true Alexander, and provided with royal attendance at their own expense.

Caesar, suspecting a cheat, sent one of his freedmen, called Celadus, who had intimately known the sons of Mariamne, to conduct the youth to his presence. When Celadus saw the pretender, he at once knew that this was not the real Alexander. Calling the young man aside, he told him that he knew he was a cheat, but promised that Caesar would [329] spare his life if he would point out the man who had taught him to act the part of an imposter. The false Alexander, finding himself detected, went with Celadus to Caesar, and pointed out to them his instructor. Caesar was much amused by this affair, and, seeing that the pretender was a stout young man, he made him a rower in one of his galleys. But he ordered the wicked Jew who had taught the young man to play a false part to be put to death.

Archelaus assumed the dominion which had been granted him, but ruled with such cruelty that he was accused before Caesar by both the Jews and the Samaritans. So that in the ninth year of his rule he was banished by Augustus to Vienne, a small town in Gaul, and his property confiscated. Judea was made a Roman province, and was thereafter governed by a procurator sent from Rome.

A certain Judas, a Galilean, led a revolt against the first procurator, a man of noble family, called Coponius, but the rebellion was soon crushed, Judas was killed, and his followers dispersed. This Judas taught his followers that the Jews should not allow the Romans or anyone else to rule them, because they had formerly had God as a ruler, and to Him alone should they give their allegiance.

Philip and Herod Antipas were allowed to retain the government of their tetrarchies. When Augustus died he was succeeded by Tiberius as emperor of Rome, who confirmed them as tetrarchs, and sent the celebrated Pontius Pilate as procurator into Judea.

Pilate, under cover of night, secretly brought Roman standards into Jerusalem, upon which were the images of Caesar. The Jews were greatly shocked when they saw these in the morning, for their laws forbade the placing of any images within the city. They hastened in crowds to Pilate, and besought him to remove the standards. Pilate rejected their suit, and, tiring of their petitions, ordered his soldiers to surround the people, and said that he would have them all killed [330] if they did not withdraw their complaint. To the surprise of the procurator, the Jews all fell prostrate, and cried out that they would rather die than transgress their law. Pilate was so stuck by their devotion that he ordered the immediate removal of the standards. A little while afterwards Pilate occasioned another tumult by spending the revenue of the temple upon the building of an aqueduct. The populace interfered and stopped the workmen. Pilate dressed his soldiers in plain clothes, and dispersed them among the multitudes of indignant Jews, ordering them not to use swords, but to beat the rioters with staves. He then gave a signal, upon which the soldiers fell upon the Jews and beat them in so violent a manner that many were killed, and the rest all had thoughts of rebellion completely knocked out of them.


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