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William Shepard

Bagoses Defiles the Temple

For more than a hundred years after the death of Artaxerxes the Persian kings continued to hold dominion over Judea, though they treated the inhabitants kindly and allowed them to be governed by the priests of their own nation. The Jews flourished and grew wealthy and prosperous, but not much is known about them during this period until the reign of another Artaxerxes, called Artaxerxes Mnemon. At that time a man named John succeeded his father Judas as high-priest of Jerusalem. Now, John had a brother named Jesus, who was a friend of Bagoses, the general of the Persian army, and Bagoses had promised to procure the priesthood for Jesus. Jesus and John quarrelled together in the temple, and in his anger John slew Jesus.

God did not neglect to punish this unnatural crime. For when Bagoses heard of it he came to the Jews and said to them in anger,—

"Have you dared to perpetrate a murder in your own temple?"

And as Bagoses was going into the temple the people tried to stop him, saying it was forbidden for any but the priests to enter it. But Bagoses answered,—

"Am I not purer than the dead body of him that was slain in the temple?"

Therefore he pressed on into the sanctuary and defiled it. And he imposed tribute on the Jews, ordering them to pay fifty shekels out of the public treasury for every lamb that was offered in sacrifice during the next seven years.