John Lord.

Anceint states and empires online

. (page 6 of 55)
Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 6 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

sent the fortunes of the legitimate kings who reigned over
the tribe of Judah.

Rehoboam reigned forty-one years at Jerusalem, but did
evil in the sight of the Lord. In the fifth year of his reign his
capital was rifled by the king of Egypt, who took away the
The men of treasures which Solomon had accumulated. He was
Kchoboaui. a ] so a ^ war w ith Jeroboam all his days. He was suc-
ceeded by his son. Abijam, whose reign was evil and unfortu-
nate, during which the country was afflicted with wars which
lasted for ninety years between Judah and Israel. But his
reign was short, lasting only three years, and he was suc-
ceeded by Asa, his son, an upright and warlike prince, who
removed the idols which his father had set up. He also
formed a league with Ben-Haclad, king of Syria, and, with
His suc . a large bribe, induced him to break with Baasha, king
cessors. f i srae i t His reign lasted forty years, and lie was
succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat, b. c. 954. Under this
prince the long wars between Judah and Israel terminated,
probably on account of the marriage of Jehoram, son of
Jehoshaphat, with the daughter of Ahab, king of Israel — an
unfortunate alliance on moral, if not political grounds.
Jehoshaphat reigned thirty-five years, prosperously and vir-
tuously, and his ships visited Ophir for gold as in the time of

Chap, vil] The Princes of Judah. 67

Solomon, being in alliance with the Phoenicians. His son
Jehoram succeeded him, and reigned eight years, hut was dis-
graced by the idolatries which Ahab encouraged. It was
about this time that Elijah and Elisha were prophets of the
Lord, whose field of duties lay chiefly among the idolatrous
people of the ten tribes. During the reign of Jehoram, Edom
revolted from Judah, and succeeded in maintaining its in-
dependence, according to the predictions made to Esau, that
his posterity, after serving Israel, should finally break their

His son Ahaziah succeeded him at Jerusalem b. c. 885,
but formed an alliance with Jehoram, king of Israel, and after
a brief and wicked reign of one year, he was slain by Jehu,
the great instrument of divine vengeance on the idolators.
Of his numerous sons, the infant Joash alone was spared by
Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, who usurped
authority in the name of the infant king, until she was over-
thrown by the high priest Jehoiada. The usurpations of this
queen have furnished a subject for one of the finest tragedies
of Racine. Jehoiada restored the temple worship, and in-
stituted nianv other reforms, having supreme The princes

TrV TO! 1 • 1 0f JUf ' al1 at

power, like Dunstan over tne baxon kings, when Jerusalem.
they were ruled by priests. His death left Judah under the
dominion of the patriarchal rulers (the princes of Judah), who
opposed all reforms, and even slew the son of Jehoida, Zecha-
riah the prophet, between the altar and the temple. It would
seem that Joash ruled wisely and benignantly during the
life of Jehoiada, by whom he was influenced — a venerable old
man of 130 years of age when he died. After his death
Joash gave occasion for reproach, by permitting or com-
manding the assassination of Zechariah, who had reproved
the people for their sins, and his country was invaded by the
Syrians under Hazaal, and they sent the spoil of Jerusalem to
Damascus. Joash reigned in all forty years, and was assas-
sinated by his servants.

His son Amaziah succeeded him b. c. 839, and reigned
twenty-nine years. He was on the whole a good and able

68 The Jewish Monarchy. [Chap, yil

prince, and gained great victories over the Edomites whom,
he attempted to reconquer. He punished also the murderers
of his father, and spared their sons, according to the merciful
provision of the laws of Moses. But he worshiped the gods
of the Edomites, and was filled with vainglory from his
, successes over them. It was then he rashlv chal-

Thc reign of J

Aimziah. lenged the king of Israel, who replied haughtily :
" The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was
in Lebanon, saying, give thy daughter to my son to wife,
and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and
trode down the thistle." " So thou hast smitten the Edom-
ites, and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast. Abide now
at home ; why shouldst thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou
shouldst fall, even thou and Judah with thee." But Amaziah
would not heed, and the two kings encountered each other in
battle, and Judah suffered a disastrous defeat, and Joash, the
king of Israel, came to Jerusalem and took all the gold and
silver and all the sacred vessels of the temple and the trea-
sures of the royal palace, and returned to Samaria. After
this humiliation Amaziah reigned, probably wisely, more
than fifteen years, until falling into evil courses, he was slain
in a conspiracy, b. c. 810, and his son Uzziah or Azariah, a
boy of sixteen, was made king by the people of Judah.

This monarch enjoyed a long and prosperous reign of fifty-
two years. He reorganized the army and refortified his
capital. He conquered the Philistines, and also tlie Arabs,
on his borders : received tribute from the Ammonites, and
spread his name unto Egypt. During his reign the
kingdom of Judah and Benjamin had great prosperity
and power. The army numbered 307,500 men well equipped
and armed, with military engines to shoot arrows and stones
from the towers and walls. He also built castles in the
desert, and digged wells for his troops stationed there. He
developed the resources of his country, and devoted himself
especially to the arts of agricultm - e and the cultivation of the
vine, and the raising of cattle. But he could not stand pros-
perity, and in his presumption, attempted even to force

Chap. VII.] Uezekiah. 69

himself in the sacred part of the temple to offer sacri-
fices, which was permitted to the priests alone ; for Hig pros .
which violation of the sacred laws of the realm, P erlt 7-
he was smitten with leprosy — the most loathsome of all the
deseases which afflict the East. As a leper, he remained iso-
lated the rest of his life, not even being permitted by the
laws to enter the precincts of the temple to worship, or
administer his kingdom. It was during his reign that the
Assj'rians laid Samaria under contribution.

He was succeeded by Jotham, his son, b. c. 758, who
carried on his father's reforms and wars, and was therefore
prospered. It is worthy of notice that the kings of Judah,
who were good, and abstained from idolatry, enjoyed great
temporal prosperity. Jotham reigned sixteen years, receiv-
ing tribute from the Ammonites, and was suc-
ceeded by Ahaz, who walked in the ways of the
kings of Israel, and restored idolatrous and superstitious rites.
Besieged in Jerusalem by the forces of Hezin, king of Syria,
and Pekah, king of Israel, and afflicted by the Edomites and
Philistines, he invoked the aid of Tiglath-pileser, king of As-
syria, offering him the treasure of the temple and his royal
palace. The Assyrian monarch responded, and took Da-
mascus, and slew its king. Ahaz, in his distress, yet sinned
still more against the Lord by sacrificing to the gods of
Damascus whither he went to meet the Assyrian king. He
died in the year b. c. 726, after a reign of sixteen years, and
Hezekiah, his son, reigned in his stead.

This prince was one of the best and greatest of the kings
of Judah. He carried his zeal against idolatry

• ^ c Hezekiah.

so far as to break m pieces the brazen serpent of
Moses, which had become an object of superstitious hom-
age. He proclaimed a. solemn passover, which was held in
Jerusalem with extraordinary ceremony, and at which 2,000
bullocks and 17,000 sheep were slaughtered. ISTo such day
of national jubilee had been seen since the reign of Solo-
mon. He cut down the groves in which idolatrous priests
performed their mysterious rites, and overthrew their altars

70 The Jewish Monarchy. [Chap. VII.

throughout the land. The temple was purified, and the
courses of the priests were restored. Under his encour-
agement the people brought in joyfully their tithes to the
priests and levites, and offerings for the temple.

In all his reforms he was ably supported by Isaiah, the
most remarkable of all the prophets who flourished during
the latter days of the Hebrew monarchy. Under his direc-
tion he made war successfully against the Philis-
tines, and sought to recover the independence of
Judah. In the fourteenth year of his reign, Sennacherib
invaded Palestine. Hezeldah purchased his favor by a pres-
ent of three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of
gold, which stripped his palace and the temple of all their
treasure. But whether he neglected to pay further tribute or
not, he offended the king of Assyria, who inarched upon
Jerusalem, but was arrested in his purpose by the miracu-
lous destruction of his army, which caused him to retreat
with shame into his own country. After this his reign was
peaceful and splendid, and he accumulated treasures greater
than had been seen in Jerusalem since the time of Solomon.
He also built cities, and diverted the course of the river
Gihar to the western side of his capital, and made pools
and conduits. It was in these years of prosperity that he
received the embassadors of the king of Babylon, and
showed unto them his riches, which led to his rebuke by
Isaiah, and the prophecy of the future captivity of his

He was succeeded by his son, Manasseh, b. c. 698, who
reigned fifty-five years ; but he did not follow out

Manasseh. _ *■ .. n ■, • n t • • ■> •

the policy of his father, or imitate his virtues.
He restored idolatry, and " worshiped all the hosts of heaven,"
and built altars to them, as Ahab had done in Samaria. He
was also cruel and tyrannical, and shed much innocent blood ;
wherefore, for these and other infamous sins, the Lord,
through the mouth of the prophets, declared that " he
would wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish," and would
deliver the people into the hands of their enemies.

Chap. VII.] Josiah. 71

His son, Amon, followed in the steps of his father, but
after a brief reign of two years, was killed by his

, , . , . , Amon.

servants, b. c. 639, and was buried in the sepulchre
of his family, in the garden of Uzza.

Then followed the noble reign of Josiah — the last inde-
pendent kin£ of Judah — whose piety and zeal in

i •? i -i n i -, Josiah.

destroying idolatry, and great reforms, nave made
him the most memorable of all the successors of David.
He repaired the temple, and utterly destroyed every vestige
of idolatry, assisted by the high priest Hilkiah, who seems
to have been his prime minister. He kept the great feast
of the passover with more grandeur than had ever been
known, either in the days of the judges, or of the kings,
his ancestors ; nor did any king ever equal him in his fidel-
ity to the laws of Moses. But notwithstanding-

J s His noble

all his piety and zeal, God was not to be turned rei s n -
from chastising Judah for the sins of Manasseh, and the
repeated idolatries of his people ; and all that Josiah could
secure was a promise from the Lord that the calamities of
his country should not happen in his day.

In the thirty-first year of his reign, Necho, the king of
Egypt, made war against the king of Babylon, who had
now established his empire on the banks of the Euphrates,
over the ruins of the old Assyrian monarchy. Josiah rashly
embarked in the contest, either with a view of
giving his aid to the king of Babylon, or to pre-
vent the march of Necho, which lay through the great plain
of Esdrselon. Josiah, heedless of all warnings, ventured in
person against the Egyptian army, though in disguise, and
was slain by an arrow. His dead body was brought to
Jerusalem, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his
fathers ; and all Judah and Israel mourned for the loss
of one of the greatest, and certainly the best of their

The prophet Jeremiah pronounced his eulogy, and led
the lamentations of the people for this great calamity,
b. c. 608.

72 The Jewish Monarchy. [Chas, VII.

Tlie people proclaimed one of his sons, Shallum, to be king,
ni nuclei* the name of Jehoahaz, but the Egyptian

Bor - conqueror deposed him and set up his brother

Jehoiakim as a tributary vassal. He reigned ingloriously
for eleven years — an idolator and a tyrant.

In his days Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up
Nebuchad- against him, having driven the Egyptians out of
agafnst War8 Palestine. Jehoiakim made his submission to the
Judah. conqueror of Egypt, who now reigned over the

whole Assyrian empire, but did not escape captivity in
Babylon, with many other of the first men of the nation,
including Daniel, and the spoil of Jerusalem. He was restored
to the throne, on promise of paying a large tribute. He
served the king of Babylon three years and then rebelled,
hoping to secure the assistance of Egypt. But he leaned on
a broken reed. A Chaldean army laid siege to Jerusalem,
and Jehoiakim was killed in a sally, b.c. 597. His son
Jehoiachin had reigned only three months when Nebuchad-
nezzar, a great general, came to carry on the siege in person.
The city fell, the king was carried into captivity, with 10,000
The fail of °^ n ^ s SUD jects, among whom were Ezekiel and
Jerusalem. Mordecai, and only the poorer class remained
behind. Over these people Nebuchadnezzar set up Zede-
kiah, the youngest son of Josiah, as tributary king. Yet
even in this state of degradation and humiliation the Jews,
wrought upon by false prophets, expected deliverance,
against the solemn warnings of Jeremiah, who remained at
Jerusalem. Zedekiah, encouraged by the partial successes
of the Egyptians, rebelled, upon which the king of Babylon
resolved upon the complete conquest and utter ruin of
the country. Jerusalem fell into his hands, by assault,
Captivity of an( ^ was levelecl with the ground, and the temple
the Jews. was destroyed. Zedekiah, in attempting to escape,
was taken, had his eyes put out, and was carried captive
to Babylon, together with the whole nation, and the
country was reduced to utter desolation. It was not, how-
ever, repeopled by heathen settlers, as was Samaria. The

Chap, vil] The Ten Tribes. 73

small remnant that remained, under the guidance of Jere-
miah, recovered some civil rights, and supported themselves
by the cultivation of the land, and in their bitter misery
learned those lessons which prepared them for a renewed pros-
perity after the seventy years captivity. Never afterward
was idolatry practiced by the Jews. But no nation was ever
more signally humiliated and prostrated. Can we hence
wonder at the mournful strains of Jeremiah, or the bitter
tears which the captive Jews, now slaves, shed by

r ' ' , . J Jeremiah.

the rivers of Babylon when they remembered the
old prosperity of Zion.

The Jewish monarchy ended by the capture of Zedekiah.
The kingdom of the ten tribes had already fallen to the
same foes, and even more disastrously, because the kings of
Israel were uniformly wicked, without a single Thecharao _
exception, and were hopelessly sunk into idolatry; * e . r ° ftl l e
whereas the kings of Judah were good as well as Judah.
evil, and some of them were illustrious for virtues and talents.
The descendants of David reigned in Jerusalem in an unbro-
ken dynasty for more than 500 years, while the monarch s of
Samaria were a succession of usurpers. The degenerate
kings were frequently succeeded by the captains of their
guards, who in turn gave way for other usurpers, all of
whom were bad. The dynasty of David was uninterrupted
to the captivity of the nation. And the kingdom of Judah
was also more powerful and prosperous than that of the ten
-tribes, in spite of their superior numbers.

But it is time to consider these ten tribes which revolted
under Jeroboam. Their history is uninteresting, " t
and, were it not for the beautiful episodes which tribes -
relate to the prophets who were sent to reclaim the people
from idolatry, would be without significance other than that
which is drawn from the lives of wicked and idolatrous

Jeroboam commenced his reign b. o. 975, by setting up for
worship two golden calves in Bethel and Dan, and thus in-
augurated idolatry : for which his dynasty was short. His

74: The Jewish Monarchy. [Chap, vil

son ISTadah was murdered in a military revolution, b. c. 953,
and the usurper of his throne, Baasha, destroyed his whole
Jeroboam house. He, too, was a wicked prince, and his son
Elah was slain by Zimri, captain of his guard,
who now reigned over Israel, after exterminating the whole
family of Elah, but was in his turn assassinated after a reign
of seven years, b. c. 929. Omri, the captain of the guard,
was now raised by the voice of the people to the throne ;
but he had a rival in Tibni, whom he succeeded in conquering.
Omri reigned twelve years, and bought the hill of Samaria,
on which he built the capital of his kingdom. But he
ir • ■ k 'd exceeded all his predecessors in iniquity, and was
reign. succeeded by his son Ahab, who reigned twenty-

two years. He was the most infamous of all the kings of
Israel, both for cruelty and idolatry, and his queen, Jezebel,
was also unique in crime — the Messalina and Fredigonde of
her age. It was through her influence that the worship of
Baal became the established religion, thus showing that the
general influence of woman on man is evil whenever she is
not Christian. And this is perhaps the reason that the
ancients represented women as worse than men.

It was during the reign of this wicked king that God
raised up the greatest of the ancient prophets — Elijah, and
sent him to Ahab with the stern intelligence that
there should be no rain until the prophet himself
should invoke it. After three years of grievous famine, dur-
ing which he sought to destroy the man who pro-
phesied so much evil, but who was miraculously fed
in his flight by the ravens, Ahab allowed Elijah to do his

Thereupon he caused the king to assemble together the whole
people of Israel, through their representatives, upon Mount
Carmel, together with the four hundred and fifty priests of
Baal, and the four hundred false prophets of the grove,
The destruc- whom Jezebel supported. He then invoked the
priests of 6 people, who, it seems, vacillated in their opinions
Baal. i n reS p ec t; to Jehovah and Baal, to choose finally,

Chap. VII. J Ahab and Jezebel. 75

of these two deities, the God whom they would worship.
Having discomfited the priests of Baal in the trial of sacri-
fices, and mocked them with the fiercest irony, thereby show-
ing to the people how they had been imposed upon, Elijah
incited them to the slaughter of these false prophets and
foreign priests, and then set up an altar to the true God.
But all the people had not fallen into idolatry ; there still had
remained seven thousand who had not bowed unto Baal.

Rain descended almost immediately, and Ahab departed
and told Jezebel what had transpired. Hereupon, wmh of
she was transported with rage and fury, and Jezebel -
sought the life of the prophet. He again escaped, and by
divine command went to the wilderness of Damascus and
anointed Hazael to be king over Syria, and Jehu to be king
over Israel, and Elisha to be his successor as prophet.

Soon after this, Benhadad, the king of Syria, came from
Damascus with a vast army and thirty-two allied kings, to be-
siege Samaria. Defeated in a battle with Ahab, the war w j t h
king of Syria fled, but returned the following year Darnascus -
with a still larger army for the conquest of Samaria. But he
was again defeated, with the loss of one hundred thousand
men. in a single day, and sought to make peace with the king
of Israel. Ahab made a treaty with him, instead of takino- his
life, for which the prophet of the Lord predicted evil upon
him and his people. But the anger. of God was still further
increased by the slaughter of Naboth, through the wiles of
Jezebel, and the unjust possession of the vineyard which
Ahab had coveted. Elijah, after this outrage on all the
fundamental laws of the Jews, met the king for Cnrse upon
the last time, and pronounced a dreadful penalty Ahab-
■ — that his own royal blood should be licked up by dogs in
the very place where Naboth was slain, and that his pos-
terity should be cut off from reigning over Israel ; also, that
his wicked queen should be eaten by dogs.

In three years after, while attempting to recover Hamoth,
in Gilead, from Benhadad, he lost his life, and was brought
in his chariot to Samaria to be buried. And the doa;s came

76 The Jewish Monarchy. [Ciiaf. til

and licked the blood from the chariot where it was washed.
■ . , He was succeeded by Ahaziah, his son, b. c. 913,

Ahaziah. .

who renewed the worship of Baal, and died after
a short and inglorious reign, b. c. 896, without leaving any
son, and Jehorara, his brother, succeeded him. In reference
to this king the Scripture accounts are obscure, and he is
sometimes confounded with Jehoram, the son of Jehosha-
phat, king of Judah, who married a daughter of Ahab.
This accounts for the alliance between Jehoshaphat and
Ahab, and also between the two Jehorams, since they were
brothers-in-law, which brought to an end the long wars of
seventy years, which had wasted both Israel and Judah.

Jehoram did evil in the sight of the Lord, but was not
disgraced by idolatry. In his reign the Moabites, who paid
a tribute of one hundred thousand sheep and one hundred
thousand lambs, revolted. Jehoram, assisted by the kings
of Judah, and of Edom, marched against them, and routed
them, and destroyed their cities, and filled up their wells, and
felled all their good trees, and covered their good land with

Meanwhile, it happened that there was a grievous famine in
Samaria, so that an ass's head sold for eighty pieces of sil-
ver. Benhadad, in this time of national distress, came with
Famine in a niighty host and besieged the city; but in the
night, in his camp was heard a mighty sound of
chariots and horses, and a panic ensued, and the Syrians lied,
leaving every thing behind them. The spoil of their camp
furnished the starving Samaritans with food.

After this, Jehoram was engaged in war with the Syrians,
now ruled by Hazael, one of the generals of Benhadad, who
Wars with had murdered his master. In this war, Jehoram,
e 'ymns. Qr j oramj wag mounded, and went to be healed of
his wounds at Jezreel, where he was visited by his kinsman,
Ahaziah, who had succeeded to the throne of Judah.
"While he lay sick in this place, Jehu, one of his gen-
erals, conspired against him, and drew a bow against
him, and the arrow pierced him so that he died, and his

Chap. TIL] Death of Elisha. 77

body was cast into Naboth's vineyard. Thus was the sin
against Naboth again avenged. Jehu prosecuted the work
of veno-eance assigned to him, and slewAbaziah, the king of
Judah, also, and then caused Jezebel, the queen mother, to be
thrown from a window, and the dogs devoured her body.
He then slew the seventy sons of Ahab, and all his great
men, and his kinsfolk, and his priests, so that none remained
of the house of Ahab, as Elijah had predicted. His zeal did
not stop here, but he collected together, by artifice, all the
priests of Baal, and smote them, and brake their images.

But Jehu, now king of Israel, though he had destroyed
the priests of Baal, fell into the idolatry of Jeho-
ram, and was therefore inflicted with another in-
vasion of the Syrians, who devastated his country, and deci-
mated his people. He died, after a reign of twenty-eight
years, e. c. 856, and was succeeded by his son, Jehoahaz.

This king also did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that
he was made subject to Hazael, king of Syria, all his days,
who ground down and oppressed Israel, as the prophet had
predicted. He reigned seventeen years, in sorrow and humi-
liation, and was succeeded by his son Johash, who Hig •
followed the wicked course of his predecessors. His cessors -
reign lasted sixteen years, during which Elisha died. There
is nothing in the Scriptures more impressive than the stern
messages which this prophet, as well as Elijah, sent to the
kings of Israel, and the bold rebukes with which he re-
proached them. Nor is any thing more beautiful than those
episodes which pertain to the cure of Naaman, the Syrian,
and the restoration to life of the son of the Shunamite
woman, in reward for her hospitality, and the interview with
Hazael before he became king. All his predictions came to

Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 6 of 55)