SOMETHING more than twenty years before the advent of our Lord, Herod began to be alarmed at the hostile feelings of the Jews, and sought to conciliate them by making public improvements. He built a theater and an amphitheater in Jerusalem, in order that the people might have suitable places for public amusements. Samaria, which had long been in ruins, he re- built, and gave it the name of Sebaste, from Sebastos, the Greek word for Augustus. He built a magnificent palace for himself on Mount Zion.

On the Mediterranean, between Joppa and Carmel, he began to build a great seaport, which afterward became a very important city. He named it Caesarea, in honor of Caesar.

Many violent complaints having been made against Herod, Augustus gave a decision in his favor; and to show his gratitude for this, Herod built, in honor of Augustus, a beautiful temple of white marble just at the foot of Mount Hermon, and close by the mouth of a cave from which issues one of the principal sources of the Jordan. The place, which had been called Paneas, was afterward known as Caesarea Philippi.

The Jews were greatly displeased at this heathenish procedure; and to appease them, Herod undertook the most important work of his life. It had now been about five hundred years since the second temple had been built; and the ravages of time, together with the injuries received in war, had so impaired it that its renewal seemed not only desirable but necessary. The historian says, " The Jews were afraid that if Herod pulled down the existing temple before he built the new, something might occur to prevent the erection, and their city might be deprived of its highest glory. It was accordingly arranged that all the materials for the new temple should be prepared before the old building was demolished. A thousand wagons were employed in conveying stones and timber; ten thousand workmen in fitting the materials for building; and a thousand priests, skilled in architecture, in superintending the work."  In about ten years the building was so far completed that the ordinary temple services could be performed in it; but for many years after ward a large body of men were employed upon the out-works. It was of this temple that the Jews said to Christ: "Forty and six years was this temple in building, and canst thou rear it up in three days?"

We have now come down to the very time of our Saviour's birth, and it may be well to briefly reconsider the leading events of the four hundred years and more, intervening between the Old-Testament history and the New.

1. For more than 80 years the Jews remained under the nominal control of the Persians, who generally treated them kindly, and left them, in the main, to govern themselves, according to their own laws, and under the supervision of the high priest.

2. For the next 10 years they were under Alexander, who treated them with respect, and encouraged them to settle in Alexandria, and other newly founded cities throughout his empire.

3. Then for about 119 years they were under the Ptolemies, by whom they were, with some exceptions, honored, and promoted to offices of trust.

4. For the next 41 years the Macedonian kings of Syria were their masters. It was during this time that they suffered the terrible persecution inflicted by Antiochus Epiphanes.

5. For 100 years they were then independent under the Maccabees. For a part of this time they enjoyed peace and prosperity, but were finally torn by cruel dissensions.

6. For the last 63 years they were under the control of the Romans, who allowed them to be a prey to the selfishness and cruelty of local governors.