THE FALL OF THE ASMONAEANS AND THE RISE OF THE HERODS
Rivalry of the sons of Alexander Jannaeus . -- The Asmonaean priesthood, like the older line, suffered from dissension between brothers. After the death of Hyrcanus I, Aristobulus and Antigonus were rivals; and Alexander Jannaeus, when he succeeded, instantly put one of his brothers to death. When Queen Alexandra died, a fraternal strife between her sons began, which lasted for three generations, and resulted in the ruin of the house which had delivered Israel from the yoke of the heathen.
Alexander's two sons were very different in character; the elder, Hyrcanus, was of a mild and peaceful disposition, and Aristobulus the younger a man of energy and ambition. The Pharisees gave their allegiance to Hyrcanus, whilst the party of the Sadducees favoured the more enterprising Aristobulus. But Hyrcanus was made a match for his warlike brother by the support of an Idumaean sheik, who with the rest of his countrymen had embraced Judaism, namely Antipater, who was later excelled both as a warrior and as a statesman by his sons, especially Herod, known as 'The Great.'
Power of Rome in the East. -- For more than a century, since the battle of Magnesia in 190 B.C., Rome had been the dominant factor in the politics of the Near East; and she was rapidly exchanging her role of a powerful influence for that of the recognised mistress of the different countries which made up Asia Minor, Syria,