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William Shepard

Alexander the Great

Just at this time Alexander the Great, king of Macedon, made an expedition into Persia with a great army in order to conquer all the country. Darius came down to meet him, and joined battle with him at a place called Isis, in Cilicia, which is not very far from Judea. All the people in Asia thought that Darius would easily defeat the invaders, whose numbers were comparatively small. Sanballat, therefore, promised his son-in-law that when Darius returned from his victory he would ask permission to build the temple. But Darius was defeated with great slaughter, and fled back into Persia. Alexander marched forward and took many cities until he came to Tyre, which he besieged. From this place he sent a letter to the high-priest of the Jews asking him for troops and provisions, and calling upon him to transfer his allegiance from Darius to himself. The high-priest answered that he had given his oath to Darius not to bear arms against him, and that he would keep his oath so long as Darius remained in the land of the living.

Upon hearing this answer Alexander was very angry, and threatened that as soon as he had taken Tyre he would march against the Jewish high-priest, and through him teach all men to whom they must keep their oaths.

When Sanballat heard that Darius had been defeated he thought it would be best for him to join the cause of Alexander. So he came to Alexander with seven thousand of the Samaritan warriors, and gladly accepted him for his king instead of Darius. The kind reception which Alexander gave him encouraged Sanballat to ask permission to build a temple in Samaria, and the permission was given. So the new temple was built, and Manasseh was made high-priest. But before it was finished Sanballat died.

Meanwhile, Alexander had conquered Tyre, after seven months' siege, and after two more months he had taken the city of Gaza also. Then he made haste to go up to Jerusalem to carry out his threat.

When Jaddua heard that Alexander was coming, he was greatly terrified. He ordered his people to join him in sacrifices and in prayers to God. And God appeared to him in a dream, and told him to take courage, and to adorn the city, and let people clothe themselves in white, while all the priests were to put on the robes of their order, and with the high-priest at their head were to march out of the city to meet the king, for no harm would befall them.

Jaddua awoke rejoicing, and determined to do as he was told. And when he understood that Alexander was not far from the city, he went out in procession with the priests and the people.

Alexander saw the procession coming towards him, and when it had come so close that he could distinguish the features of the high-priest, he ran forward and bowed down before him, and adored the sacred name of God that was written upon his mitre. His generals wondered among themselves, thinking he had suddenly become insane. One of them, named Parmenio, went up to Alexander and asked him the meaning of what he did. Alexander answered,—


Alexander the Great Doing Homage to the Priests of Jerusalem

"When I was at Dios, in Macedonia, considering how I should conquer Persia, I fell asleep one day, and in a dream I saw this very person, clothed in these same garments, who exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea, for that the God whom he worshipped would give me dominion over the Persians."

Alexander was escorted into Jerusalem by the high-priest and his attendants, and he went up into the temple and offered sacrifice to God according to the high-priest's directions. And the high-priest brought out the book of Daniel, and showed Alexander the prophecies which declared that the empire of Persia should be destroyed by one of the Greeks. Alexander, delighted with his reception, offered the Jews whatever they should desire. The high-priest asked that his countrymen might be allowed to obey the laws of their forefathers, and also be freed from the tribute which the Persians made them pay every seventh year. Alexander granted these requests, and when the Jews further asked that their brethren in Babylon and Media should be allowed to enjoy their own laws, he agreed to this also. And he said to the people that if any of them would enlist in his army, he would allow them still to continue under their own laws; and many were ready to accompany him in his wars.

Then Alexander left Jerusalem and overran Persia and conquered it. And ten years afterwards he died, and his kingdom was divided among his generals.