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William Shepard

Alexander Janneus

The queen now released the dead king's brethren from prison, and Alexander Janneus, the eldest, mounted the throne, having killed a younger brother who attempted to usurp it. Alexander was soon engaged in a war with Ptolemy Lathyrus, king of Cyprus, the son and deadly enemy of Cleopatra, governess of Egypt. A battle took place, in which Ptolemy was victorious. Cleopatra now came in with an army to help Alexander, but Ptolemy marched into Egypt. Alexander then besieged and took Gadaia and Amathus, which contained many treasures of Theodorus, prince of Philadelphia, who immediately marched against Alexander, and totally defeated him. Alexander, however, soon recovered from this blow, and took Raphia and Gaza and Anthedon.

Many of the Jews, however, hated Alexander, and when he had returned home rose in rebellion against him, and would have overcome him but that Alexander had under him many foreign mercenaries. With the help of these he crushed the rebellion and slew six thousand Jews. He then again invaded the country east of the Jordan, forced it to pay tribute, and retook Amathus. But in a battle with Obodus, king of the Arabians, Alexander lost his entire army. He escaped to Jerusalem, where soon the Jews rose in another rebellion against him. After six years of fighting Alexander tried to bring the rebels to terms, by asking them what he might do to appease them. They cried out, by killing himself. The civil war continued, and Alexander was generally successful; the insurgents, hard pressed, called to their aid Demetrius Euchaerus, one of the kings of Syria. Alexander was routed with great loss, and fled to the mountains, where he was joined by six thousand of the rebellious Jews, who now pitied his condition. Demetrius, alarmed at this desertion from his ranks, retreated. Alexander, now master of the whole country, besieged his enemies in Bethome, took it, and marched in triumph to Jerusalem. There at a banquet he cruelly crucified eight hundred of his enemies, and killed their wives and children before them. This horrible deed so frightened those who had opposed him that eight thousand fled from the city that very night.

Alexander again became engaged in foreign wars, and took Pella and Gerasa, and demolished Goland and Seleucia, and the fortress of Gamala. Returning to Jerusalem, he was kindly received there on account of his success. At rest from war, he was attacked by a malady which he thought he could only cure by active exercise in the field; but by overexerting himself he increased his illness, and died after having reigned for twenty-seven years.