THE HEART OF MARY
LIFE AND TIMES OF THE HOLY FAMILY
“I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA”
History of the Hasmoneans
Aristobulus I “the Mad”
After the death of John Hyrcanus I, son of Simon, the last of the Maccabees, his son Aristobulus I succeeded him in the government of Judea. In this chapter the memory of the Israeli people is lost in the labyrinth of their own phobias and fears of the truth. According to some the son of John Hyrcanus I did not undertake the assault on the crown. He simply inherited it from his father.
According to the official position, the abomination that sentenced the ruin was committed against the father by a son who had to overcome the bitter opposition of his mother and his own brothers. In short, there is nothing clear, except the need to go to meet reality by running along the trail of facts. Personally I ignore to what extent these facts are basic to determine the guilt of the father in discharge of the son’s acquittal.
Whether Aristobulus I crowned himself king against his father’s will or whether he merely legitimized a covert monarchical situation, we will never know with absolute certainty, at least until the day of reckoning.
The fact is that Aristobulus I opened the glorious chronicle of his reign by surprising strangers and acquaintances with the imprisonment for life of his brothers. Motives, reasons, causes, excuses? Well, here we enter into the eternal dilemma regarding what the actors of History did and what they would have liked to be written. Shall we enter into discussion or leave it for another day? I mean, what stronger motive is there to achieve Power than the passion for Power? Absolute power, total power! The freedom of the one who is beyond Good and Evil! the glory of the one who rises above the Laws because he is the Law! Life in one fist, Death in the other, on your knees you people! To be like a god. To be a god! The cursed temptation, the pulp of the forbidden fruit, to be like a god, far from the eye of justice, beyond the long arm of the law. Was not the Devil cunning? That passion, to be like a god, had discovered his viral, poisonous nature, when he transformed an angel into that Serpent mother of all demons. “Very well then”, Aristobulus answered himself, “I will generously spread my poison throughout the earth, beginning with my house”.
Horror, disillusionment, take me away from the Demon’s dreams. Awaken me, heavens, beauty, in some corner of Paradise.
What madness is it that drags the mud to believe itself stronger than the deluge? Does the snail dream to be faster than the jaguar? Does the moon challenge the sun to see who shines more? Does the lion despise the crown of the jungle? Does the crocodile complain about the size of its mouth? Does the fierce creature envy the siren her song? Does the eagle envy the elephant of the plains? Does the phosphorescent fish rise from the oceanic abysses to claim moonlight from the sun? Who offers spring petals to the boreal cold? Who seeks the fountain of eternal youth to write on its banks: Foolish is he who drinks?
The non-negotiable fact is that Aristobulus I ascended the throne left vacant by the death of his father. And the first thing he did was to throw his brothers into the coldest dungeon of the gloomiest prison in Jerusalem. Unsatisfied, still not content with such an unnatural crime, Aristobulus “the mad” finished the job by sending his mother to his brothers.
No one ever knew why he let his mother’s youngest son go free. The fact is that the same thing that surprised everyone by sentencing his brothers to life imprisonment surprised everyone again by letting one of them go free. It seems that he let the youngest of his siblings live. Not for long, however. Soon madness took over his brain and he overcame himself by strangling him with his bare hands. All these crimes committed, the mad king dressed himself as high pontiff and went off to worship as if Jerusalem had rejected Yahweh for God and was sworn in obedience to the Devil himself.
Such was the beginning of the reign of the son of John Hyrcanus I.
In the background of such a crime, worthy of the most advanced disciple of Satan, we have to see the terrible dispute between mother and son, between Aristobulus I “the Mad” and his brothers on the subject of the transformation of the Republic into a Kingdom.
Accepting the insanity of Simon Maccabeus’ grandson as a last, decisive, even exculpatory diagnosis is no way to close such a serious matter. Especially when the brief year of the reign of the Second of the Hasmoneans - leaving behind the issue of those he killed, whose names were not written nor their memory preserved because they were not his relatives, whose number we can calculate from what he did, or who imprisons his brothers is going to let free those who are not? I was saying that the brief year of the reign of Aristobulus I, if brief, shaped the future of the Jewish people in such a profound and painful way that can be seen at the base of the trauma that two thousand years later the official Jewish historians continue to suffer when recreating the Hasmonean times.
What more critically apocalyptic discussion than the transformation of the Republic into Monarchy could have pushed the grandson of the Heroes of Independence to become a monster?
Official Jewish historians go through this matter looking the other way. In doing so, they commit a terrible crime against themselves by creating in the reader the impression that killing one’s mother and siblings was the daily bread of the Jews. I do not know to what extent it is ethical, or just morally acceptable to make the blood of the crime committed by their fathers fall on their children. Or is it true that the Hebrews used to eat their mothers every other day?
It is a crime against the Spirit to hide the truth in order to impose one’s own lies. If Aristobulus killed his brothers and his mother such a monstrous crime we must understand it as a final consequence of the struggle between the republican and monarchical sectors, represented the first by the Pharisees and the second by the Sadducees. This struggle was won by Aristobulus I against his brothers and cost his mother her life for conspiracy against the crown.
From our comfortable position we can venture this theory to the case. It seems evident that if the authority of that woman could not impose her judgment it must have been because it clashed against more powerful interests. And what more powerful interest for which to risk one’s life could exist in Jerusalem than the control of the Temple?
Let us bear in mind that in all the history of the children of Israel, to find a case of such cruelty, of a son against his mother, was never recorded because it never happened. So the fact that it took place against nature opens the door to the conspiracy against the patriarchal laws that took place between the Aaronite priesthood and Aristobulus I. In this context, the imprisonment of the brothers and the mother is perfectly understandable. In fact, the events we are about to see were all marked by the same iron. Then there is the psychology of the official historian to take advantage of the type of crime and hide in the honey of horror the year of terror that the population of Jerusalem suffered under the tyranny of the Mad king. By concentrating that year of slaughter on the royal family the historian cast over the struggle at the root of the problem the smoke screen of Pharaoh’s magicians. Who imprisoned his brothers for opposing his coronation what would he not do with those who without being his brothers refused to transform the republic into monarchy? The official Jewish historian passed over this subject. In doing so he took us, people of the future, for fools ,and those of his time for lifelong idiots.
Anyway - leaving aside now the discussions - Aristobulus I let free - as I said - one of his brothers. It is said that the boy was a fighting and brave warrior who loved the game of war, and there he wasted no time in opening the fight to the cry of “long live Jerusalem”. Worthy relative of Judas Maccabee, with whose stories the boy grew up; the Valiant Prince dragged his soldiers to the victory that never resisted him, the very glory of the heroes in love with his bones.
Let us say that, broken the peaceful Reconquest of the Promised Land by the Maccabean wars, John Hyrcanus I opened a new period by putting to arms all the inhabitants of Southern Israel who did not convert to Judaism. Through this policy he annexed Idumea.
It was up to Aristobulus I, his son, to lead his armies against the North. Jerusalem in full antimonarchic effervescence by the facts already referred - imprisonment of the king’s brothers and slaughter of his republican allies - while he was dedicated to control the situation, Aristobulus I passed the military leadership to his younger brother, who conquered the Galilee. It was not all going to be bad news. The conquest of Galilee raised the morale of the Jews who did not know whether to laugh at the victory or cry for the failure of having as king a murderer of the worst kind, a full-fledged madman.
What came next was not expected by anyone. Or they saw it coming and did not put any remedy within their reach. The thing is that the Valiant Prince was just beginning to look elsewhere to find fame and glory when jealousy, and the bad conscience that had him imprisoned by his deeds, dragged his brother Aristobulus to condemn him to death.
Also in this case Aristobulus I acted following the example of the Gentiles, although he applied the system to the mentality of the East. The Roman Senate imposed as a rule in the manual of the Republic to get rid of too victorious generals, retirement or death. The Scipions and Pompey Magnus himself suffered this rule. The last case would be that of Julius Caesar, who came out so well, of course.
Wiser and holier than the imperial senators, the king of the Jews did not pluck the daisy. He simply sent to his younger brother his irrevocable decision hanging from the edge of the executioner’s axe.
The news of the murder of the little brother by the big brother caught Alexander Jannaeus down there, between cold dungeons and howling prisons dug into the realm of hell. Naturally the news froze his blood. But the vital fluid would have been able to recover its warmth if the presence of his mother in the dungeons had not doubled the devilish cold. The poor woman, pierced in that way, the poor woman lost her mind and, with the healthy remnant she had left, she let herself die of hunger.
To see one’s mother and one’s brothers die for the sake of your brother’s power one’s is not the best school for a king. But this was the school for kings that Alexander Jannaeus, the object of all the hatred of the Jewish world after the Slaughter of the Six Thousand, forcibly attended.
Overwhelmed to the point of insanity by that tragedy, on the corpses of all the cowards who at that time were burning incense in the Temple, Alexander the Hasmonean swore to take revenge for the death of his mother and his brothers -if he came out of hell alive- to the last man.
Another thing will be - taking up the thread of the refusal in the official Jewish position to accept the fact of the coronation of John Hyrcanus I - that the matricidal and fratricidal madness of Aristobulus I would not have been but the end of the drama to which the coronation of the father led them all. The official Jewish position - headed by the famous Flavius Josephus - was to refuse to admit the fact of the coronation of the son of the last of the Maccabees. His measures, his wars, seem to prove the contrary, they seem to shout out loud that his head wore a crown, and it was during his reign that the virus of the curse found breeding ground in his house. How else to explain that the day after his burial his wife and children collapsed under the weight of that overwhelming opposition to the continuation of his dynasty? In what context could we understand that the new king decided overnight the death of all his brothers, including his mother, for high treason?
Logic does not have to present its evidence in the court of Biohistory. Biohistorical arguments are enough to be understood and do not need witnesses. But if neither the one nor the other is enough to make its way through the labyrinthine jungle in which the Jews lost their memory, nothing can be advised to the one who has pulled the trigger, unless he ends the tragedy soon and stops gathering onlookers before going to hell with his lamentations and his elegies.
There are no facts other than the naked and simple reality. Aristobulus I succeeded his father Hyrcanus I. He immediately ordered the imprisonment to life imprisonment of his brother Alexander. Alexander’s brothers and sisters also suffered the same fate. The only one who was saved from the Cainite slaughter was the youngest son of his mother. She lay as if dead in some dark dungeon of the palace of her wicked son when the corpse of her little son was lowered to her by anonymous straps. The poor thing closed her eyes and let herself starve to death. Such were the beginnings of the reign of Aristobulus I the Mad; such the origins of the coming reign of his brother Alexander I.
When Alexander Jannaeus emerged from the dungeon, where he should normally have perished, the situation in the kingdom was as follows. The Pharisees had the masses convinced that the nation was living under the crosshairs of divine wrath. The sacred laws forbade the Hebrews to have a king who was not of the House of David. They had him. By having him they were provoking the Lord to destroy the Nation by rebellion against His Word. “His Word was Law, the Law was God, the Word was God”. How could they prevent fate from taking its course?
The problem was that the Lord’s servants, the Sadducean priests, not only blessed rebellion against the Lord they served, but also used the king to crush the wise Pharisees.
Even so, the macabre voracity of Aristobulus I made even the Sadducees’ insides burn. This did not mean that the Sadducees were willing to join the Pharisees in cleansing Jerusalem of their crime. The last thing the Sadducees still wanted was to share power with the Pharisees.
Then, mysteriously, Alexander Jannaeus is released from his prison and escapes death. Miracle?
If the hatred that gave him strength and kept him alive can be called a miracle, then it was a miracle that Alexander survived his brothers and his mother. Too bad that, apart from the rats, no one came down to his hell to pay him condolences for the death of his mother! Had they done so, they would have discovered that the force that kept him alive and fed his thirst for revenge was hatred, without distinguishing between Pharisees and Sadducees.
In any case, the Hasmonean was wrong to think that the death of Aristobulus, his hated brother, was due to nature. The death of Aristobulus in the end of the year of his reign and immediately after the death of Valiant Prince was not a matter of chance or divine justice. Who is surprised that the crime against his own mother turned the hearts of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and decided, in conspiracy with Queen Alexandra, to put an end to the monster? The fact of the urgent and immediate celebration of the prisoner’s wedding with the widow of the deceased, his sister-in-law Alexandra, highlights the political alliance that put an end to the life of Aristobulus I. Politics and Religion allied for the best, the Sadducees removed the Mad king and put in his place the Hasmonean, their sights put in, when being discovered as his savior, it did not occur to him to give a lurch towards the other side and to give them the power to the Pharisees, who, being natural enemies of their saviors by force would have had to be his own. The element of surprise in his favor Alexander accepted the crown swearing not to change the status quo.
This was the explosive situation upon whose boiling inferno the Hasmonean set his hatred.
Alexander I, however, would never forgive his liberators for taking so long to make their decision. What were they waiting for, for his mother to die? God, if only they had arrived one day earlier.
The hatred that the new king had hatched against his nation in his year of imprisonment, a long, endless year, no words can describe it. Only his subsequent slaughters would discover its extent and depth. That hatred was like a black hole advancing from the entrails to the head, like a Nothing flooding his veins with a cry: Revenge. Revenge against the Pharisees, revenge against the Sadducees. If their saviors had taken the trouble to think what they were doing before doing it, they would have slit their own veins than to open the door of freedom to the next king of the Jews.
Little, very little time would Jerusalem to find out what kind of monster had for idol the Hasmonean. The hatred that devoured the body, mind and soul of Alexander would soon get out of hand and ask for corpses by the tens, hundreds, thousands. Six thousand for a Passover banquet?
An appetizer. Just that, a vulgar appetizer for a real demon. Didn’t the wise and holy priests of Jerusalem say that they knew the depths of Satan? Yet another lie! He, the Hasmonean, would discover to all Jews the true depths of Satan. He himself would lead them to the very throne of the Devil. Where did Satan have his throne? Crazy, on the grave of his mother, in the Jerusalem that saw his brothers die without lifting a finger to save them from ruin.
The same thing that the father of ancient Jewish history, Flavius Josephus, did, hiding from his people the implosive cause that burst the promised happiness of the house of Hyrcanus I, he did it again by speaking of the miraculous and sudden death of the matricide and fratricide, homicidal of course. He had to do it if he did not want to discover the cause he had just hidden from his people. If he swore in public, before the future, that the very Sadducees who elevated Alexander ordered the death of his brother, by doing so he should have open to the rest of the world the doors to enter and see with their eyes why the internal war to the death between Pharisees and Sadducees.
Enemy of the truth for the sake of the salvation of his people, in the crosshairs of Roman hatred after the famous rebellion that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, Flavius Josephus had to pass over the corpse of truth in the name of the reconciliation of Jews and Romans. And incidentally keep the children of the killers of the early Christians outside the crime against divina natura that started and continued, to the extent of their interests, even at the cost of extirpating the Memory, practiced a lobotomy and go ahead as a cursed people, all condemned, for all held by eaters of their mothers and natural killers of their brothers. And so no Jew should see with strange eyes Aristobulus I killing his mother, his brothers, his uncles, his brothers-in-law, his nephews, his nephews, and even his grandchildren, if he had them. According to Flavius Josephus and his school, this was natural among the Jews. So where is the scandal?
This is the story of Jesus. It is not the history of the Hasmonean chronicles. The importance of the seventy years of that dynasty, however, is so decisive to understand the circumstances that led the Jews to the most fierce and murderous anti-Christianity that, by force, we must recreate them, bringing forth the most important events in relation to this Second Fall. On another occasion, at another time, God willing, we will enter into those chronicles. Suffice it here to glide over the timeline.
The hatred of the Hasmonean against all, Pharisees and Sadducees, ran its course. In just a few years after his crowning it became an avalanche. Rolling on a suicidal slope, one of those days, they all went, Pharisees and Sadducees, to celebrate a kind of banquet of friendship with the king. The doors were opened, the strategists took up their positions, and with the wine they all got in tune. And passing from prolegomena to the first chapter, they ended up heading in a rush to the beaches of the sea of personal matters. In the heat of the moment one of the Pharisees present, fed up with wine, spited out in the face to the king what everyone knew behind walls, that his mother had him with someone other than his father. In other words, the Hasmonean was a bastard.
The situation was not complicated and the Devil came to make it worse. The Devil, as if he were winning the pulse t God Himself, added fuel to the fire at every opportunity. With the fuse burning, the powder keg two steps away, it was logical that the explosion would blow up everything it caught. The Slaughter of the Six Thousand in one day would not be the only devastating wave. But it could at least have served to calm tempers and make the enemies join forces.
Contrary to the other peoples of the world, the Jewish nation’s philosophy of race was never to learn from its mistakes. If before it was the zeal for the Law what dragged them to the Slaughter, from now on it would be the thirst for revenge. This unbridled thirst was the one that rode from synagogue to synagogue throughout the world carrying to all believers that howl that we heard before: “The Hasmonean must die”. To which the most daring and zealous of destiny responded by devoting their lives to kill the Hasmonean. Among them was Simeon the Babylonian, a citizen of Seleucia of the Tigris, a Hebrew by birth, a banker by profession. His entry into Hasmonean Jerusalem and his intentions to remain in the kingdom could not disturb the king, always in need of allies and financial means for the war of reconquest of the Promised Land, nor raise his suspicions given the geopolitical circumstances through which the ancient empire of the Seleucids was passing.
The Parthians, in fact, were outgrowing Asia east of Eden, and were suffering unspeakably dreaming of the invasion of the lands west of the Euphrates. It was therefore natural that the children of Abraham should begin to return from captivity on the other side of the Jordan. If on top of that the returnee seemed to have no idea of the local political situation and, to everyone’s delight, was a wealthy banker and devout believer, so much the better.
“Simeon, my son, paranoia is to tyrants what wisdom is to the wise. If they abandon their counsel both the one and the other are lost. Therefore he who moves among serpents must be cured of poison and have the wings of a dove to overcome the designs of the wicked with the innocence of one who serves only his master.
“Simeon, my son, turn your back to your enemy as a sign of trust and you will earn your salvation, but wear under your cloak the armor of the wise so that when paranoia drives him mad the dagger of his madness will break against your iron skin.
“If you give your hand to the tyrant, keep in mind that in the other hand he hides the dagger; offer him then what he seeks because God only gave man two hands, and if with one hand he takes yours and with the other he grabs what he wants, the dagger will always be far from your throat.
“When you see him wounded, run to heal his wound, for he is not yet dead; and if he lives, seek his death, but do not only wound him and let him rise up to your ruin. The devil has many ways to achieve his goal, but God is satisfied with only one to make him bite the dust. Be wise, Simeon, do not forget the teachings of your teachers”.
Simeon the Babylonian arrived in Jerusalem with the book of the Magi of the East under his arm. The school in which he learned the craft of the Magi traced its origins to the days of the prophet Daniel, that prophet and chief of Magi who with one hand served his master and with the other dug around him his ruin. But enough of words, let the show begin.
Simeon the Babylonian put his teachings into practice. He succeeded in breaking the ice of the Pharisees’ distrust of the king’s new friend. He managed to deceive the king by participating in the financing of his campaigns of reconquest and consolidation of the conquered frontiers. Behind Hasmonean’s back, with the other hand that remained free, the Babylonian put his signature on all the palace plots against which Hasmonean, like an athlete in the middle of a steeplechase, performed the impossible feat of surviving all his presumed assassins. One after another, all those attempts to tear his head from his neck ended with the death of the would-be assassins. Tired of so many inept, in his opinion his compatriots were not even good for that, King Alexander treated the corpses of his enemies as one treats the corpses of dogs, they are thrown into the river and there they are carried away by the current to the sea of oblivion.
Desperate for the fate of the Hasmonean the Pharisees conceived the plan of plans, to hire a mercenary army, to put themselves in front and to declare open war. It was to plunge the nation into a civil war: so what? The star of the Hasmonean seemed to have risen from the very depths of hell. Whatever they planned against him, no matter how subtle and convoluted the plan to overthrow him, the bug always came out alive. He had more lives than an egyptian cat.
“On his conscience the blood of the nation”, they said to themselves. They hired the Arabs to put an end to the fate of the most tyrannical, cruel and bloodthirsty king that Jerusalem had ever had in its history. All this in the strictest top secret. The last thing that Simeon the Babylonian and his Pharisees could afford was for the Hasmonean to hear of their plans. He would not hesitate to kill them all, big and small, all in the same pot. As the wise man’s proverb said: We must be innocent as doves, cunning as serpents.
But since in this world you cannot fool everyone at once, there was one person in those days whom Simeon’s magic tricks could not fool. That man was the priest Abijah, the particular prophet of the Hasmonean, about whom we have already seen something in the previous chapters.
Simeon also, of course, attended the turn of Abijah to hear from his lips the Oracle. It was to him, yes to him, to the king’s new friend, his most sworn secret enemy, that Abijah addressed words that broke all his schemes.
“If Heaven fights back Hell with the weapons of the Devil, how will the fire that devours all in its blaze be extinguished?” the man oraculated. “Do you compare God with his enemy? Does the angel who guards the path of life revolt against his destiny by raising the fire of his sword against the tree he guards so as to prevent anyone from approaching him? Does he then give himself up for lost? What will be the judgment of his Lord against his despair? In so doing will he not deny the God who entrusted him with his mission? You do not fight against the devil, you fight against the angel of God, and though he be for you he cannot abandon his post. His command is firm: Let no one come near; why do you think he will lay down his sword? For love of you will he rebel against his Lord? Cease then to play the fool. You are not fighting against a man, you are waging war against the God who placed his angel between you and the life you seek by invoking Death”.
An oracle full of wisdom that, its recipients blinded by hatred, fell again and again on rocky ground. For a moment it seemed that it was going to take root, but as soon as they left the Temple, the smell of blood returned their senses to everyday reality.
How far from the birth of a civil war are the clouds fermenting that will rain the broth of hatred in torrents? How do you erase the traces of a scar slashed between chest and back?
The Pharisees and their leaders made the desperate decision to hire a mercenary army to put an end to the Hasmonean once and for all. They did not hire the army of the Ten Thousand Greeks lost in the return to the homeland, nor did they cross the sea in the direction of Carthage looking for freedom in the descendants of Hannibal. Nor did they invoke the famous Iberian warriors. Nor did they lay hands on barbarian hordes. To kill their brothers the Jews called the Arabs.
How long does the meat of hatred need in the pot to cook? When poison is not enough and secret conspiracies are not enough, is it legitimate to call upon the devil himself to take to hell what was born in the heat of his fire?
As he did with so many other episodes, the official historian of the Jews of those times went over the detonating causes of that rebellion like someone waking over a bridge of eggs. Willing to sell the truth for the thirty silver coins of Caesar’s pardon and with the approval of a Jewish generation that, between the cult of the emperor or the fate of Christians, danced in honor of the golden calf before God and men, Flavius Josephus overlooked those causes in the distance of the birth of that civil war, so horrific and perfidious as to obviate the enmity of centuries between Jacob and Esau.
The fact behind the concrete plaque under which the Jews buried the memory of their past is that against the laws of the land Israel hired Edom, Jacob called Esau to defeat the Devil together, ignoring because he did not want to remember that the Devil who defeated Adam, father of both, needed something more than an alliance between brothers to let him cut off his tail.
Be that as it may, the battle between the supporters of the restoration of the Davidic monarchy and those faithful to the Hasmonean dynasty took place. And it was the enemies of Hasmoneus who took the victory to their camp.
It seems that the same Alexander who walked on carpets woven with the skin of the Six Thousand, that demon without conscience who dared to curse the God of the gods by sleeping with his harlots in his own Temple, that invincible son of hell, it is said, fled like a rat.
Not even to die like a man was worth, too late his enemies later lamented.
Unfortunately, when it was time to finish off the victory, the victorious army made the unforgivable mistake of turning back. As I say, they went to collect the laurels of success when remorse seized their brains, and they began to think about what they were doing. They were handing over the kingdom to the Arabs!
Between finishing off the Hasmonean or finding themselves under the yoke of their traditional enemies, the Pharisees decided the unthinkable.
It is certain, the love for the Homeland was more powerful than the memory of so much past suffering. So, before being trapped under the wheels of their own mistakes, they broke the contract with the victory achieved, a fatal mistake they would not take long to regret, a mistake they would never regret enough.
By one of those classic twists of fate the victorious nationalists joined the losing patriots and together they revolted against the mercenary army that was already preparing to conquer Jerusalem for their king.
Hallucinated by this twist of fate in his favor the Hasmonean transformed himself from a rat on the run into a hungry lion, took the lead of those who once again acclaimed him king and expelled from his kingdom those who had just seen him run away like a dog.
The first to mourn were the Pharisees.
His return from the tomb convinced his enemies to have the Hasmonean for godfather the Devil himself. The calm, the tranquility with which Alexander made his entry into Jerusalem was celebrated by almost everyone. That was the calm that precedes the storm. Shortly after returning to his palace, after sleeping with all his concubines, once he had digested the defeat in the folds of a bad dream, tired of promising what he would never fulfill, the Hasmonean ordered that the leaders of the Pharisees and hundreds of their allies be gathered as the heads of cattle are gathered. The head count rose to so many souls that no one could imagine how the Hasmonean was going to cook so much meat.
What happened belongs to the unholy memories of Israel. But if there is Good and Evil and everything has its opposite, the people who have a Sacred History also have its opposite, an Evil History. To the genre of the heroes of these tenebrous writings belonged, without any doubt, Cain, the Alexander of these chronicles, and the Caiaphas who in the name of his people crucified the Son of David.
The Jewish chronicler would have liked to have buried this chapter of the cursed history of his people. The short distance between his generation and the one that suffered the Nero of the Jews made it impossible for him to erase from the book of the life of his people the dark star event of this chapter.
In revenge for the humiliation they made him live, when he had to be seen fleeing like a rat who until then had been boasting of being the fiercest lion in hell, the Hasmonean raised eight hundred crosses on Golgotha. Not one, not two, not three, not four.
If the Passion of the Lamb has been transmitted to you in the physical as hard, wait until you know what sufferings those eight hundred goats had to undergo.
The Hasmonean announced that he was going to hold a feast. He took and invited acquaintances and strangers, foreigners and patriots alike. The feast was to be Neronian. Since the natural sign of human intelligence is imitation, not having been born Nero, someone had to rise as a model of the future slaughterer of Christians in bulk. Who but him, original even in the flight?
He set the day. He told no one a word about the surprise he had invented. And the banquet began. The Hasmonean brought out meat and wine to feed a regiment, hired foreign prostitutes, charged the nationals to do their trade as they had never done before. Nothing was lacking. Food by the bushel, wine by the barrel, women by the piece.
“Where will you find another king like me?” in the prelude to his madness shouted the Hasmonean, to be heard by the eight hundred damned who had already reserved places on the eight hundred crosses that crowned Golgotha from the foothills to the summit esplanade.
During the last few days everyone had been betting that the Hasmonean would not dare so much. The relatives of those involved in the macabre spectacle prayed to Heaven that he would not dare. How little they knew him! The Jews had not yet learned and still refused to believe that the same mother who gave birth to Abel nourished in her womb her brother’s monster.
“Do only Greek women give birth to beasts?” shouting lung in throat, let the Hasmonean hear from the top of the walls his voice. “There you have proof to the contrary. Here you have eight hundred”.
Nero was not so bad. At least the madman par excellence crucified foreigners. These eight hundred were all countrymen of his executioner, all brothers of his guests.
That was the surprise. Instead of judging them or murdering their enemies without anyone being able to blame him for their deaths the Hasmonean gathered them as cattle are gathered and condemned them to die on the cross. Because yes, because he was the king, and the king was God. And if it wasn’t God, it didn’t matter, it was the Devil. So much for that, so much for that.
Mount Golgotha was crowded with crosses. When the guests took their seats in their armchairs the eight hundred crosses were still empty. The spectacle was ominous but gratifying if all remained a mute threat. With this positive thought in mind, they began to pour the wine.
At the end, eaten, drank what is not written and finally satiated their macho instinct, the Hasmonean gave the order. At his command the eight hundred condemned paraded.
Immediately they began to hang them on the crosses. A cross for each head. If any of those present felt their souls break, no one dared to shed a tear. The wine, the harlots, the pleasure of seeing him die as a bandit those who yesterday had been princes of the people, all together did the rest.
“What do you do with the rats that invade your home? Do you spare their accursed offspring or do you send them to hell?” in the ecstasy of tragedy howled again the Hasmonean from the walls of Jerusalem.
What followed was not expected by anyone. The Hasmonean was a bag of surprises. Possibly neither would you, reader, imagine it if I did not tell you and challenge you to guess. They all believed that with the crucifixion of the eight hundred Pharisees the Hasmonean’s thirst for revenge would be quenched. They were already turning their backs to the victims on their crosses when eight hundred families began to circulate, the eight hundred families of the eight hundred unfortunate ones exposed to the stars of their destiny. Women, children, family by family took their places at the foot of the cross of the head of the family of each house.
Stunned, believing they had been invited to live a hellish nightmare, the eyes of those invited to the banquet of the Jewish Nero opened wide. Paralyzed with horror, they understood what was about to happen. The latest and freshest incarnation of the Devil was going to slit head and body at the same time. If the man is the head of the family then his family is the body, and who is the madman who kills the head and leaves a hate-filled body alive to exact revenge?
The army of executioners of the Hasmonean drew their swords awaiting the command of the man who turned Jerusalem into the Devil’s throne.
Already all the bodies lay at the feet of their heads, their wives with their sons and daughters were trembling with horror and despair, weeping for their father’s fate when, believing their fate to be weeping, the bolt of the king’s madness drove them from their illusion.
Once again, at the zenith of his insanity, the Hasmonean cried out excitedly, “Jerusalem, remember me”. Then he gave the satanic order.
They beheaded them all, women and children, at the foot of the eight hundred crosses and their eight hundred Christs. The sicario executioners of the Hasmonean drew axes and swords, raised their arms and began their infernal and macabre task. No one lifted a finger to prevent the crime.
(Little more was written about this crime by the official historian of the Jews. Claiming in his foreword to be the truth his only interest, after reading his account one wonders what love of truth the devil can have. But let us continue).
Frozen, believing they were living a dream, the guests attended the third part of the infernal spectacle without moving from their seats. Second actors in the great representation, the pay had blinded their brains. The truth is that one did not have to be very clever to guess the rest. The Hasmonean then ordered the crucified to be set on fire. And let the feast continue.
And the feast continued under a deluge of alcohol, meat and harlots.
The next day the whole of Jerusalem ran to the Temple to find comfort in the Oracle of Yahweh.
The man of God said only: “Destruction is decreed that will bring this nation to ruin”.
After the 800
After that orgy of cruelty and madness, nothing could ever be the same. The ambition of some, the fanaticism of others, everything had led them to such a dead end. A king raises his murderous madness, he lets it fall against strangers, all right, but when in all the history of the kingdom of Judah did any king rise against his own people to commit such a crime?
The fame won for the Jews by the Maccabees found itself the day after the Slaughter of the Eight Hundred crawling into the lowest abysses of decency and respect due to one nation by another. Branded as monsters devouring their children, those who until yesterday were walking among the Gentiles claiming for themselves the status of Chosen People the next day had to hide from the gaze of all as if they were fleeing from Satan himself. But let us return to Jerusalem the Holy.
For a while the cry of pain and sorrow kept calm the unquenchable thirst for revenge of the relatives of the Eight Hundred. But sooner or later the hatred to the death would spill out and would run through the streets sowing death on the sidewalks. Who would be the first to fall? On the corners, in the darkness of the alleys, under any doorway. At any hour, on any occasion. The king’s foreign executioners?
No! It would be them, the Sadducees. It would be the sons of Aaron, all priests, all holy, all sacred, all inviolable, who would be the first to know vengeance. Because vengeance could not eat the king, it would be taken on the flesh of his allies. Brothers-in-law, cousins, in-laws, sons-in-law, wives, mothers-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, all were in the crosshairs of the dagger.
Whether they were leaving the Temple, whether they were going from their homes to their fields, wherever they were found, hatred would be hurled upon them without distinguishing the just from the guilty, the sinner from the innocent. There would be no mercy, no quarter. With his macabre lesson the Hasmonean had deflected the dagger from their backs. Who would now spare them? One by one. When in their homes they closed their eyes... out of the shadows would come two silver coins looking for basins where to pitch tent. When the animal needs... out of the hollows of the ground would come forth claws. No, the Sadducees would not sleep in peace, nor would they live in peace from that day forward. The day would come when it would seem better for them to live in hell than to suffer the hell of being alive.
And so it came to happen. The streets of Jerusalem woke up every day after the Slaughter of the Eight Hundred amidst the bellowing of widows and orphans demanding justice from the king. A king delighted to see how, while they killed each other, they left him in peace.
It is the truth, in his madness the Hasmonean enjoyed seeing his allies living in terror like rats trapped in the house of hungry cats. As far as he was concerned his personal safety had been sealed against all risk. Without distinguishing age or sex he once killed Six Thousand in one day. This time he devoured 800 with their families. Did they want even more? He still had the guts left to double the death toll.
Why 800 crosses? Why not seven hundred? Or three thousand four hundred?
The fact is that the Hasmonean had the memory of beasts. The human being overcomes the traumas of childhood, is distinguished from the beasts by its ability to forget the damage suffered at some point in the past. The beast, on the other hand, never forgets. Years may pass, even if a decade passes, the wounds remain stuck in their memory. With the passage of time the puppy becomes a beast; then one day it meets its childhood enemy, the wound is opened and by inertia it jumps to take its revenge. Such was the memory of the Hasmonean.
Why 800 souls, why not seven hundred or three thousand four hundred?
The people had to know the truth. The whole world had to know its truth. History had to record in its annals the root cause of that hatred of the Hasmonean against the Pharisees. How many brave men followed the Maccabee on the day of the Fall of the Braves? Were there not 800 justly? Were they not the fathers of the 800 crucified Pharisees, did not they gave the order to withdraw and handed over the Hero to the enemy? Why did they do so? Why did those cowards left the Hero and his 800 Braves alone in front of the enemies?
“I will tell you”, cried the Hasmonean from the wall. “Because they feared that the Hero would rise as king. Cowards, they sold the Hero and handed him over to silence the fear they harbored. But tell me, when, at what moment, on what secret occasion did it escape the Hero of his 800 Braves to lead them against Jerusalem and proclaim himself king? His soul knew no other ambition than the freedom of his nation. His heart beat was only for the yearning of freedom. Your fathers challenged him to surrender the command, to place himself at their command, ignoring that the Brave One recognized no other king and lord than the God of his father. They put him to the test, they pushed him to the edge of the abyss, believing that the Brave One would turn his back on death. They put the pulse on the Champion of the Almighty. Well then, this is the pay that your King and Lord puts into your purses. Take your wages, you cowards. You touched the Champion whom God raised up to give you freedom at the price of his blood and that of all his household. Do you not want paradise? There I send you to claim your wages from the Almighty. You resented his glory and his fame. You had to flee from the battlefield to show him that the victory was yours, that without you he was nothing. Rejoice, for shortly you will meet him face to face”.
No matter what he said, no matter what kind of reasons he justified his conscience on, the Hasmonean knew that after the Slaughter of the 800 nothing could be the same. After that ode to the depths of hell he could expect nothing but the destruction of his house. Abijah had prophesied it to him and, without wanting or seeking it, he had caused it. Fate, fatality, a wrong step taken without correction, another unforeseen error imposing the law of necessity, pure chance, chaos, the fates, the irresponsibility of the people and their dreams of justice, freedom and peace. How to blame the goddess fortune for giving nefarious kisses? Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Worse dynasties managed to open the way for their children in the plain of the centuries. But for what? In the end every crown ends up being thrown to the skin, the one who seemed to have the least legs hits the highest boat and the glory of tomorrow is girded on the nobody of yesterday. From a throne the world is a box of crickets; the one who shouts the loudest is the king. Why are the people not satisfied with their lot? Why do they want more justice, more freedom? If you give him a hand he grabs your arm. They always find a reason to spoil the happiness of their rulers. If it weren’t for the fact that subjects are necessary, wouldn’t they all be better off dead? Or at least deaf and dumb?
The tenebrous reflections of the Hasmonean in his moments of distress were not wasted. More than once he let them flow from his head without even realizing that his praetorian chiefs were present. His devilish smiles answered more eloquently than the longest and most profound speech of the most variegated and conspicuous sage.
Were their children’s lives in danger, and would they still be in danger if there was not a Jew left alive?
It was a hairy choice. When depression choked him the Hasmonean would caress it. But no. That would be too much. He had to find a smarter solution. Turning him back on the fact that he’d crossed the line wasn’t going to solve his problem. He had to think.
After the Slaughter of the 800 nothing would ever be the same again. He had to find a way out of the labyrinth before hatred consumed his family into hell.
Yes, nothing would ever be the same again.
Not only the Hasmonean understood this. Simeon the Babylonian also understood. Abijah’s words rang in his head with all the dimension of their perennial reality.
“Hatred begets hatred, violence begets violence, and both will devour all their servants”.
Where indeed had their magical arts led him? The blood of the 800 weighed on his conscience. The weight crushed him. Abijah was always right. He never tired of saying it: “Who takes the pitcher and goes to the burning forest for water? To such an end, such means”. But of course, what other advice could be expected from a man of God?
That they should lay down their arms and, without abandoning the end, put at the service of the restoration of the Davidic monarchy the means that suited that cause.
Convinced by the facts, Simeon the Babylonian laid down its undivine means, he became a disciple and partner of Abijah who for so long preached in the desert of those hearts of stone.
For his part, the Hasmonean’s despair grew as the days went by. Abijah’s prophecy about the fate of his house began to become so evident to him that, against all odds, he gave in. Not because the weight that his conscience, still strong enough to support a few thousand more corpses could bear, stirred his conscience. The real cause of the mental oppression that encircled his neck, leaving him breathless, lay in the destiny he had carved out for his children. He himself had taken the edge off the axe. Because of him his children had become the object of God’s wrath. The executioner who was to cut off their heads had not yet been born, but who could assure him that he would not be born?
In a move worthy of his terrors, he made a treaty of national reconciliation with his enemies. Abijah and Simeon the Babylonian were to be the guarantors of that pact which would assure his offspring life among the other families of Jerusalem. The pact of state was as follows.
At his death the Crown would pass to his widow. Queen Alexandra would restore the Sanhedrin. Thus, would be closed between Pharisees and Sadducees the battle for control of the Temple at the origin of all ultimate evils. His son Hyrcanus II would receive the high priesthood.
Upon the death of Queen Alexandra, whether the crown would pass to her other son Aristobulus II or be crowned the rightful heir of the House of David would depend on the results of the search for the Son of Solomon.
Once Queen Alexandra was dead, the House of Hasmonean could not be blamed for the subsequent events voming out of the Search. This part of the contract would be kept secret between the king, the queen, Hyrcanus II and the two men of his confidence, Abijah and Simeon the Babylonian.
His widow would elevate these two men to the leadership of the Sanhedrin, led by Hyrcanus II. This final part of the pact would remain secret to prevent Prince Aristobulus II from rebelling against his parents’ will and claiming the crown.
All for good. Expecting the best, Alexander Jannaeus died in his bed. He was succeeded on the throne by his widow. Who reigned for nine years. Faithful to the signed pact, Queen Alexandra restored the Sanhedrin, handing over its government on equal terms to Pharisees and Sadducees. Her son Hyrcanus II received the high priesthood. Prince Aristobulus II was alienated from the succession and matters of state. The secret part of the pact, the search for the living heir of Solomon, would no longer depend on Queen Alexandra, but on the two men to whom her deceased entrusted the mission. A mission that should conclude during the reign of Alexandra and remain in the secret that gave birth to it. Although young, if it reached the ears of Prince Aristobulus such a plan for the restoration of the Davidic monarchy, no one could claim that in his madness he would not rise in civil war against his brother.
There were nine years of relative peace. The two men charged with finding Solomon’s rightful heir enjoyed nine years to scour the upper classes of the kingdom and find his whereabouts. I say relative peace because the relatives of the 800 took advantage of the Power to water the streets of Jerusalem with the blood of the executioners of their own.
Powerless the queen and the Sadducees to stop that thirst for revenge that with impunity claimed its victims daily, each year that passed the eyes of the condemned began to focus more and more on Prince Aristobulus as savior. As Aristobulus slumbered in the hope of reigning after the death of his mother, he had to be taken out of his pleasant condition of crown prince, to proceed now and to give the coup d'état that the very situation of defenselessness of the Sadducees was brewing.
Under these circumstances, how much time did Simeon and Abijah have to find the legitimate heir of Solomon? How long could they weather the civil war that was brewing on the horizon?
God knows that Simeon and Abijah searched, that they scoured the entire kingdom in their quest. They moved heaven and earth in their search. And it was as if the house of Zerubbabel evaporated from the political scene in Judah after his death. Yes, of course there were those who claimed to be descendants of Zerubbabel, but when it came to putting the relevant genealogical documents on the table it was all just words. So time was running against them, the queen mother every day closer to the tomb, the prince Aristobulus II every year getting stronger under the protection of the Sadducees who advocated the coup d'état that would give them the power; and they, Abijah and Simeon, farther and farther away from what they were looking for. Their prayers were not going up to Heaven; the rumors of civil war, on the contrary, seemed to be. In the ninth year of her reign, Queen Alexandra expired. With her died the hope of the restorers to find the rightful heir of Solomon.