Carl Heinrich Cornill.

History of the people of Israel, from the earliest times to the distruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; online

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Online LibraryCarl Heinrich CornillHistory of the people of Israel, from the earliest times to the distruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; → online text (page 1 of 21)
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^ NOV 17 1898 *"

Section. j,V:..r. I
No,



HISTORY

OF THE

PEOPLE OF ISRAEL



WORKS BY PROFESSOR CORNILL.



THE PROPHETS OF ISRAEL. Popular Sketches
from Old Testament History. Third edition.
Pages, 194. Cloth, with Hebrew Imprint in Gold,
Gilt Top, and a handsome photogravure frontispiece
of Michael Angelo's Moses, $1.00 (5s.) ; Paper,
with half-tone frontispiece, 25 cents (is. 6d. ).

THE RISE OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. A
brief popular essay in Epitomes of Three Sciences.
Pages, 140. Cloth, 50 cents ( 2s. 6d. ). This volume
will be sent to purchasers of the " Prophets " or
the " History," if ordered direct from the publish-
ers, for 25 cents (is. 6d. ).

HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. From
the Earliest Times to the Destruction of Jerusalem
by the Romans. Pages, 301. Handsomely bound in
Cloth, I1.50 (7s. 6d.).



CHICAGO

THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING COMPANY

LONDON AGENTS
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUEBNER & CO.



HISTORY

OF THE

PEOPLE OF ISRAEL



FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE

DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

BY THE ROMANS



WRITTEN FOR LA T READERS



CARL HEINRICh'cORNILL, Ph.D., S.T.D.

PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF KONIGSBERG



TRANSLATED BY W. H. CARRUTH, PROFESSOR OF GERMAN
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS



CHICAGO

THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING COMPANY

LONDON AGENTS

KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUEBNER & CO.

1898



Copyright, 1898
By the open COURT PUBLISHING CO.
CHICAGO



Ei)f Hafteat'tie i9rf08

DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY
CHICAGO



CONTENTS.



CHAP. PAGE.

I. Introductory Observations.— Land and People.—
Race Migrations of the Orient in Ancient
Times 1

II. Israel prior to tlie Origin of the National King-
dom 29

III. The National Kingdom. — Saul and David 56

IV. Solomon. — The Division of the Kingdom, — The

Early Years of the Divided Kingdoms 86

V. To the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Chal-
deans 115

VI. From the return out of the Babylonian Captivity
to the Outbreak of the Rebellion of the Mac-
cabees 145

VII. The Maccabean Rebellion to the Establishment
of the Hereditary High Priesthood and Princi-
pality under Simon 175

VIII. From Simon the Maccabean to Herod the Great. 207
IX. The House of Herod. — Judea as a Roman Pro-
vince 238

X. The War in Judea and the Destruction of Jeru-
salem 272



HISTORY OP THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.



CHAPTER I.



INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS. — LAND AND PEOPLE.

— RACE MIGRATIONS OF THE ORIENT

IN ANCIENT TIMES.

npHE history of the people of Israel is the siib-
-^ ject to which I desire to call the reader's
attention. But am I justified in calling attention
to the subject at all ? What do we care for the
people of Israel ? Where is there interest or profit
for us in knowing what took place in Palestine
in the long period of time from 1500 before Christ
to 70 after ? Such questions and objections must
be anticipated by one who undertakes to present
the history of Israel to a general public ; and
those who make such objections probably regard
themselves as upon the very pinnacle of modern
impartiality and freedom from bias. But this
boasted impartiality is a strange thing : it is too
often only a product of ignorance, of entire ab-
sence of insight into the situation.



2 HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

A certain familiarity with the history of Greece
and Kome will always be required as a necessary
element of general culture. And why ? Because
our whole civilization has its roots in Hellas and
Latium. Our science and our art would simply
be incomprehensible without Plato and Aristotle,
without Homer, Sophocles, and Phidias. It is
true, the Hellenes themselves were heirs of the
primitive civilization of the Orient, and their in-
tellectual achievements would have been utterly
impossible but for Egypt, Babylonia, India, and
Phoenicia. The Phoenicians in tlieir colonizing
and commercial activity, which embraced the
whole known world, brought to the nations of
Europe not only gold and cotton (the Greek word
for gold is Phoenician, and our current ^'cotton "
is also a Phoenician word), but also the intellec-
tual possessions of the Orient, and, most impor-
tant of all, transmitted to the European world
perhaps the greatest and most important inven-
tion of the Orient, the alphabet, which for the
first time rendered possible genuine civilization
and real intellectual life.

But the Hellenes acquired this inheritance of
the ancient Orient in order to possess it ; from the
divinely endowed genius of their race they gave
it a re-birth as something specifically new and
specifically Greek. We, too, know the civiliza-
tion of the ancient Orient directly only in the form
which it received among the Greeks and at their
hands. We must know the history of a race to



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. 3

which we owe our whole intellectual life on the
secular side. And inasmuch as the inheritance
of the Greek mind has reached us through the
Romans, whose whole function in the develop-
ment of civilization consisted in transmitting
Greek culture to the nations conquered by them,
we must know the history of this race also, the
intellectual connecting link between us and Hellas,
because only he who knows this can understand
his own people and his own present.

Beside Hellas and Eome, third in the group of
races to which the arbiter of history assigned an
exceptional mission in the world, stands Israel.
True, Israel played no important part in universal
history in the accepted sense of the w^ord, nor did
it ever lead in the march of civilization. In learn-
ing and the plastic arts it achieved nothing ; it
produced no Plato or Aristotle, no Phidias or
Praxiteles, no Homer or Sophocles, — but it gave
the world Moses and the prophets, and from it
alone could be born after the manner of the flesh,
Jesus of Nazareth. Just as on the secular side
our whole intellectual life is rooted in Hellas and
Latium, so on the religious side it is rooted in
Israel : Israel gave the world the true God and
the true religion.

For all times the truth is established that was
uttered by the founder of Christianity himself to
the woman of Samaria in the talk by Jacob's
Well at Sychar, ^'Salvation is of the Jews," and
which his greatest apostle wrote in an epistle to



4 HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

the Christian community of Eome, that Abraham
is the father of us all in the faith. And this ap-
plies also to the many millions of Mohammedans,
for the prophet of Islam himself wished only to re-
store in its primitive purity '' the faith of Abra-
ham," which Jews and Christians alike had, as
he thought, corrupted and disguised under all
sorts of strange additions. And can we be indif-
ferent to the history of a race to which we owe
our best and noblest possessions ? Can we be
without interest in such a race ?

But, you might reply, we do know it, we have
all learned it in school under the title of ^ ' Bible
History." Very well and good, and that brings
me directly to a point which is in urgent need of
explanation at the very start. I must simply beg
you to forget here all recollections of ^' Bible
History." Not on the ground that everything is
untrue that is told in the Bible of the history of
Israel ; but in the Biblical accounts the material
has all gone through the medium of popular tradi-
tion, and then again this popular tradition has
been treated and presented by later compilers from
special points of view. The Holy Scriptures of
the Old Testament do not claim to be history, but
books of devotion. It is very characteristic that
the Jewish canon itself does not know the designa-
tion ^^listorical books," but includes the writings
which we are accustomed to call the historical
books of the Old Testament among the prophetic,
with a correct perception that we have not in this



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. 5

case historiography but prophecy. That the his-
torian, who is concerned with these books only
as historical materials, looks at them with differ-
ent eyes from the Bible reader, who is seeking in
them only edification, is a matter of course and
cannot be otherwise, and accordingly the historian
will often be obliged to draw a different picture
of the matters reported in them from that made
for devotional purposes by the Biblical writers
themselves.

There is one misfortune in the limitations of
this work : I can only portray and not demon-
strate ; if I were to undertake to support my de-
lineation by reference to the sources, I should
need at least sixfold the space at my disposal, and
I could scarcely hope to awaken interest for such
details and investigations, and might not after
all convince any one. I must therefore incur the
appearance of putting forth in the following work
only undemonstrated propositions, and of deviat-
ing without evident reason from the current views
derived from Bible history. But I earnestly beg
my reader to believe that every deviation from
the traditional picture is based on careful re-
flection, and on reasons which my scientific con-
science regards as imperative. And I trust it
will be felt that everything essential is left, even
if certain details disappear.

For I hold the firm and well-grounded convic-
tion that the traditions of the people of Israel it-
self regarding its earliest history are thoroughly



6 HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

historical in all essential points, and can sustain
the keenest and most searching criticism. Poetic
legends have, indeed, woven about those ancient
traditions a misty magic veil which charms the
e^^e and captivates the heart, and in which lies
the spell that those traditions cast over every un-
biased mind. Not with rude Vandal hand should
we tear away this veil, but with loving care re-
solve it into its single threads and remove it with
considerate hand, so that the original image may
stand forth in its unadorned simplicity and naked
chastity, and then we shall see that it is really a
noble human figure, and not a mere creature of
the imagination, that was concealed beneath the
protecting cover of this veil. For science there is
no veiled image of Sais, and the road to scien-
tific truth does not go through guilt, not even
where scientific truth in sacred things is con-
cerned.

If the question is raised : what sources are at
our command for the investigation of the scien-
tific truth in connection with the history of Israel,
we have first to confirm a fact v/hich for the his-
torian, indeed, is extremely grievous and dis-
couraging, but all the more valuable and signifi-
cant for the student of race-psychology. Israel
is the poorest in history and monuments of all
the races that we know. I will not refer to the
Egyptians and Mesopotamians, who covered every
spot of free space with inscriptions and pictorial
representations which recall to us vividly to-day



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. /

a life that was lived five thousand years ago.
Even among the nearest relatives and neighbors
of the Israelites the conditions are entirely differ-
ent. The thousands and thousands of inscrip-
tions which the Phoenicians set up wherever they
went are a familiar fact ; from the next kins-
men of the Israelites, the Moabites, we have at
least the triumphal column of their king Mesha,
and from the nature of this monument we may
conclude that it was not the only one. Even the
wandering Bedouins of the Arabian and Syrian
deserts transmitted their memory to future gen-
erations by numerous inscriptions. From Israel
we have nothing of the sort, no monument, no
inscription, no tomb. It might be thought that
this was to be explained from outward circum-
stances. Since the second millennium before
Christ, Palestine has been the battle-field of the
Orient, and all that has visited this land would
make the destruction of its ancient monuments
quite comprehensible. But not even the earth
has brought anything of the sort to light, despite
most careful and painstaking search ; and in view
of all that has actually been preserved from an-
cient times, we have a right to expect that some-
where at least a letter or a written fragment
would appear. One sole exception but confirms
the rule. In the jea^r 1880, the first and thus far
the last ancient Hebrew inscription was found, —
but where ? In the tunnel of the conduit of the
Siloam canal, where a human eye could see it



8 HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

only by accident, as indeed it was discovered by
pure chance on the occasion of the cleaning of the
canal.

No, the reason lies deeper, and we shall scarcely
find anything of importance, even if the search is
continued. This is shown by the very character
of the literature of Israel that has been preserved.
The composer of the Book of Kings had before
him the official annals of the ancient kings of
Israel and Judah, or at least extracts from them.
This work, which if preserved would be for us a
historical source of incomparable value, and which
we would gladly make great sacrifices to regain,
was allowed to perish ; it has vanished and left
no trace, because it was not appreciated. And
yet this work contained everything in the whole
matter that would interest us as historians.

We meet an entirely analogous case in the his-
tory of David. David was the greatest king and
warrior that Israel ever had, and we are more
exactly informed about the time of his life and
reign than about any other period of ancient
Israelitish history ; but these very detailed reports
speak so incidentally and superficially of David's
wars and victories that it is quite impossible for
us to obtain a picture of his warlike achievements
that shall be clear in all respects. What inter-
ested Israel in this its greatest hero, and endeared
him to it, was not the warrior and the victor, but
the man and the king. It seems as though ancient
Israel had no eye for those things, as though it



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. 9

felt itself clearly enough that its function in his-
tory and its mission to mankind were not of this
world and did not consist in earthly achieve-
ments. This undeniable fact has always been to
me the strongest proof of a really transcendent
spiritual endowment of Israel.

Accordingly, we have no monuments of any sort
at hand for the history of the people of Israel, but
OLir only sources are the written traditions of this!
absolutely unhistorical people itself, which are
and profess to be not histories but books of devo-
tion, and after these the direct and indirect reports j
of alien nations — in fact a scanty and unreliable
body of material in dealing with which the great- \
est caution and self-control are urgently de-
manded. To present what can be learned from
these unpromising materials is the object of these
pages.

And first we must endeavor to get a tolerably
clear idea of the scene of our history. It will ap-
pear that as the people that lived there in his-
torical times was unique in its kind, so is also the
land, the features of which could not but exercise
a great influence upon the nature and character
of its inhabitants.

The land in which the chief part of the history
of Israel was played, and which this people re-
garded as its own, is called by us with a Grseco-
Eoman designation, Palestine, that is, the Land
of the Philistines. The Greeks entered the country
by way of the coast, and gave to it the name of



1/



lO HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

the tribe that dwelt there, a phenomenon that we
shall observe frequently. The inhabitants them-
selves called it Kenaan. As this name means
etymologically ^^ lowland," it must originally have
been applied only to the Philisto-Phoenician coast
strip. The land occupied by the Israelites, on the
contrary, is altogether mountainous and has a
considerable lowland only in the plain of Jezreel.
This fact is in accord with the report of the Phoe-
nicians that they descended from a tribal pro-
genitor, Chna, in which name we recognize imme-
diately the stem of Kenaan. In Israelitish times,
however, only the portion of the land situated
west of the Jordan is known as Kenaan ; the land
east of the Jordan has the separate name, Gilead.

What we now call Palestine, the land on both
sides of the Jordan, is a comparatively small bit
of earth, only about eight thousand five hundred
square miles in extent ; that is, a little more than
the area of Massachusetts, or of Wales and Here-
fordshire.

Hydrographically, the land is very scantily en-
dowed. Of rivers it has the Jordan alone, with
its tributaries, the most important of which, how-
ever, are all on the east side : the Yarmuk, the
Jabbok, and the Arnon, which latter empties not
into the Jordan proper, but into the Dead Sea.
The land west of the Jordan can boast really of
no rivers save the Kishon in the plain of Jezreel ;
but in the hottest part of the season this is a
slight rivulet and begins to be a considerable river



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. II

only a few miles above its entrance into the Med-
iterranean Sea at Haifa.

The fertility of Palestine is dependent exclu-
sively on the rain which falls in winter, and on
the dew of summer, wherefore it is more clearly
and more perceptibly than in other lands a bless-
ing from above, a gift of heaven, so that the eye
of man was here directed upward, toward heaven,
by nature herself. The Jordan, the sole river of
Palestine, called to-day " esch Scheriat el kebire,"
the Great River, has not its like on earth ; in-
stead of uniting the adjacent lands and shores,
like other rivers, the Jordan separates them as an
almost impassable barrier, since its extraordinary
fall and its winding and twisting course make
navigation on it impossible. Of moderately con-
venient and always available fords it has only
three between the Lake of Gennesaret and the
Dead Sea. Thus it comes about that we are
obliged to consider the land east of the Jordan
and that west of the Jordan as two really
distinct lands without connection with each
other.

The Jordan plain, called to-day ''el Ghor," is
almost entirely uninhabitable, in summer on ac-
count of the tropical heat, in winter on account
of the floods ; it was and is still a notorious resort
and hiding-place for all possible beasts. The
southern part of the country, too, the region
about the Dead Sea and the so-called mountains
or wilderness of Judah, is sparsely populated and



12 HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

capable of sustaining only a scant population. In
ancient times, as well, it must have been much as
it is to-day, since natural conditions have not
changed. The country east of the Jordan is but
a narrow strip of tillable land wedged in between
the valley of the Jordan and the vast Syro- Ara-
bian desert. Only in its middle and northern por-
tions is the land really fertile and adequate for a
considerable population, and this especially on the
slope toward the Mediterranean coast, the low-
lands of Sharon and Sephela, which Israel never
succeeded in occupying.

But upon this narrow and limited soil, our as-
tonished eyes meet an infinite variety and diver-
sity of details. Palestine deserves the name of
the land of contrasts ; here is found gathered to-
gether everything between a sub- tropical climate
and the region of eternal snow. The mighty
mountain peak of Hermon, which forms the north-
ern boundary of the country, is covered with per-
petual snow and rises to an altitude of over nine
thousand feet, some three thousand feet more
than Mount Washington, or more than twice the
height of Ben Nevis. There we have Alpine land-
scape and Alpine flora. The mountain region of
Galilee, the most healthy portion of Palestine, has
the most moderate climate ; the southern portions,
especially the plain of Jezreel and the seacoast,
have a warm climate ; and in the valley of the
Jordan and about the Dead Sea it is actually sub-
tropical. In Ghor a temperature of 109 F. has



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. 1 3

been observed in the shade in the month of May,
and along the Dead Sea, even after sunset, when
in other southern lands a sudden coolness usually
sets in, the thermometer has recorded 95 F.

And accordingly the vegetation here is sub-
tropical : the balsam used to thrive here and the
palm still does, wherefore Jericho was formerly
called the City of Palms. On account of these
great climatic extremes, the flora of Palestine in
general is exceedingly rich ; some two thousand
species of flowers have been noted. It is easy to
understand how this natural wealth of the land
about him must arouse and inspire the mind and
soul of man.

But as a whole, also, Palestine is a land of con-
trasts, and this in a manner that must be regarded
as providential. In the first place, the land is
almost entirely shut off from the world outside.
On the east and south it is bordered by the desert,
like a perfect insulating medium ; and on the west
by the surging Mediterranean, offering no good
harbor on the whole coast of Palestine (to this
day a calamity for travelers to the Holy Land),
besides being almost unnavigable by the ships of
the ancients because of the strong blasts of the
trade-winds. Only on the north is the land ac-
cessible, though one cannot say open, for here the
two great parallel Alpine chains of Lebanon and
Anti-Libanus reach across like a natural bar.
This same reserve which the land shows outwardly,
is manifest within as well. Almost everywhere



14 HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.

are mountains with deep, abrupt gorges, which
constitute a great obstacle to intercourse, and
make travel extremely wearisome and slow.

This is providential : for this isolation guaran-
teed to the inhabitants the undisturbed develop-
ment of their individuality; they were exempt
from the influences of the great leveler, com-
merce.

Mountaineers are everywhere men of strongly
developed individuality. But there is another
side to the matter. It is true that the genuine
mountaineer is vigorous and upright, but he is
also clumsy and stubborn, revolving complacently
about his own axis and distrustful and inhospi-
table toward all influences from without. From
this danger Israel was preserved. For while the
la7id is insulated, at the same time it is a bridge
and a highway of world-commerce without a par-
allel. All the ancient highways of commerce
went through Palestine. For instance, that prim-
itive one from the Nile to the Euphrates, which
runs through Palestine in its entire length, and
after crossing the Jordan touches first at Da-
mascus ; and likewise the no less important one
from Tyre to the Arabian Gulf, which brought
to the Phoenicians the products of Arabia, East
Africa, Persia, and India. And so, if I may ven-
ture to use the figure, Israel was constantly
fanned and refreshed by the wings of world-wide
commerce, and thus kept from growing hard and
sour, while its individuality ran no risk of being



HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. 1 5

dissolved in a characterless, nebulous cosmopoli-
tanism.

And in still another way this providential ten-
dency to extremes is seen. The land was favored
in many ways, but on the other hand it was full
of pests. In early times wild beasts, such as the
lioD and the bear, the wolf and the panther, the
jackal and the hyena, must have lived there in
great numbers ; and even to this day, serpents are
a great pest, Palestine having more than twenty
species, among them five very dangerous and poi-
sonous ones.

Furthermore, the land is fertile : grain of all
varieties, grapes, figs, olives, and pomegranates
thrive abundantly, but not without labor and
care. Of Palestine especially the old Bible sen-
tence is true : "In the sweat of thy face shalt
thou eat bread." These contrasts also are very
important. There was no chance for the relax-
ing and enervating effect that comes when man
receives from nature without exertion all that he
needs ; he was spurred and forced to the full ex-
ertion of his powers. But this application was
not discouraged by the prospective fruitlessness
of his exertions, a condition which makes man as
stupid and indifferent as when everything falls
into his lap of itself ; but prosperity was the re-
ward of toil. He knew that it paid to exert his
powers. A land, therefore, which seemed as if
made to produce a physically and mentally sound
race, that brought thither the capacity to fulfil


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