Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

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Tacitus, the Roman historian, says:

"The generality had a strong persuasion that it was contained in the ancient writings of the priests, that at that very time the east should prevail: and that some one, who should come out of Judea, should obtain the empire of the world; which ambiguities foretold Vespasian and Titus. But the common people (of the Jews), according to the influence of human wishes, appropriated to themselves, by their interpretation, this vast grandeur foretold by the fates, nor could be brought to change their opinion for the true, by all their adversities."

Suetonius, another Roman historian, says:

"There had been for a long time all over the east a constant persuasion that it was recorded in the fates (books of the fates, or foretellings), that at that time some one who should come out of Judea should obtain universal dominion. It appears by the event, that this prediction referred to the Roman emperor; but the Jews, referring it to themselves, rebelled."

This is corroborated by Josephus, the Jewish historian, who says:

"That which, chiefly excited them (the Jews) to war, was an ambiguous prophecy, which was also found in the sacred books, that at that time some one, within their country, should arise, that should obtain the empire of the whole world. For this they had received by tradition, that it was spoken of one of their nation; and many wise men were deceived with the interpretation. But, in truth, Vespasian's empire was designed in this prophecy, who was created emperor (of Rome) in Judea."

As the Rev. Dr. Geikie remarks, the central and dominant characteristic of the teaching of the rabbis, was the certain advent of [Pg 432]a great national Deliverer—the Messiah—but not a God from heaven.

For a time Cyrus appeared to realize the promised Deliverer, or, at least, to be the chosen instrument to prepare the way for him, and, in his turn, Zerubabel became the centre of Messianic hopes. In fact, the national mind had become so inflammable, by constant brooding on this one theme, that any bold spirit, rising in revolt against the Roman power, could find an army of fierce disciples who trusted that it should be he who would redeem Israel.