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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David


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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David





The Jewish Monarchy








We can not enter upon a detail of the conquests of David, the
greatest warrior that his nation has produced. In successive campaigns,
extending over thirty years, he reduced the various Canaanite nations that
remained unconquered--the Amalekites, the Moabites, the Philistines, the
Edomites, and the Syrians of Tobah. Hiram, king of Tyre, was his ally. His
kingdom extended from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates, and from the
valley of Coelo-Syria to the eastern gulf of the Red Sea. But his reign, if
glorious and successful, was marked by troubles. He was continually at
war; his kingdom was afflicted with a plague as the punishment for his
vanity in numbering the people; his son Amnon disgraced him; Absalom, his
favorite son, revolted and was slain; he himself was expelled for a time
from his capital.

But David is memorable for his character, and his poetry, his
romantic vicissitudes of life, and as the founder of a dynasty rather than
for his conquests over the neighboring nations. His magnificent virtues
blended with faults; his piety in spite of his sins, his allegiance to
God, and his faith in his promises invest his character with singular
interest. In his Psalms he lives through all the generations of men. He
reigned thirty-three years at Jerusalem, and seven at Hebron, and
transmitted his throne to Solomon--his youngest child, a youth ten years of
age, precocious in wisdom and culture.

The reign of Solomon is most distinguished for the magnificent
Temple he erected in Jerusalem, after the designs furnished by his father,
aided by the friendship of the Phoenicians. This edifice, "beautiful for
situation--the joy of the whole earth," was the wonder of those times, and
though small compared with subsequent Grecian temples, was probably more
profusely ornamented with gold, silver, and precious woods, than any
building of ancient times. We have no means of knowing its architectural
appearance, in the absence of all plans and all ruins, and much ingenuity
has been expended in conjectures, which are far from satisfactory. It most
probably resembled an Egyptian temple, modified by Phoenician artists. It
had an outer court for worshipers and their sacrifices, and an inner court
for the ark and the throne of Jehovah, into which the high priest alone
entered, and only once a year. It was erected upon a solid platform of
stone, having a resemblance to the temples of Paestum. The portico, as
rebuilt, in the time of Herod, was 180 feet high, and the temple itself
was entered by nine gates thickly coated with silver and gold. The inner
sanctuary was covered on all sides by plates of gold, and was dazzling to
the eye. It was connected with various courts and porticoes which gave to
it an imposing appearance. Its consecration by Solomon, amid the cloud of
glories in which Jehovah took possession of it, and the immense body of
musicians and singers, was probably the grandest religious service ever
performed. That 30,000 men were employed by Solomon, in hewing timber on
Mount Lebanon, and 70,000 more in hewing stones, would indicate a very
extensive and costly edifice. The stones which composed the foundation
were of extraordinary size, and rivaled the greatest works of the
Egyptians. The whole temple was overlaid with gold--a proof of its
extraordinary splendor, and it took seven years to build it.

The palace of Solomon must also have been of great magnificence, on
which the resources of his kingdom were employed for thirteen years. He
moreover built a palace for his wife, the daughter of Pharaoh, composed of
costly stones, the foundation-stones of which were fifteen feet in length,
surrounded with beautiful columns. But these palaces did not include all
his works, for the courts of the temple were ornamented with brazen
pillars, with elaborate capitals, brazen seas standing upon bronze oxen,
brazen bases ornamented with figures of various animals, brazen layers,
one of which contained forty baths, altars of gold, tables, candelabras,
basins, censers and other sacred vessels of pure gold,--all of which
together were of enormous expense and great beauty.

During the execution of these splendid works, which occupied
thirteen years or more, Solomon gave extraordinary indications of wisdom,
as well as signs of great temporal prosperity. His kingdom was the most
powerful of Western Asia, and he enjoyed peace with other nations. His
fame spread through the East, and the Queen of Sheba, among others, came
to visit him, and witness his wealth and prosperity. She was amazed and
astonished at the splendor of his life, the magnificence of his court, and
the brilliancy of his conversation, and she burst out in the most
unbounded panegyrics. "The half was not told me." She departed leaving a
present of one hundred and twenty talents of gold, besides spices and
precious stones; and he gave, in return, all she asked. We may judge of
the wealth of Solomon from the fact that in one year six hundred and
sixty-six talents of gold flowed into his treasury, besides the spices,
and the precious stones, and ivory, and rare curiosities which were
brought to him from Arabia and India. The voyages of his ships occupied
three years, and it is supposed that they doubled the Cape of Good Hope.
All his banqueting cups and dishes were of pure gold, and "he exceeded all
the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom," who made their
contributions with royal munificence. In his army were 1,400 chariots and
12,000 horses, which it would seem were purchased in Egypt.

Intoxicated by this splendor, and enervated by luxury, Solomon
forgot his higher duties, and yielded to the fascination of oriental
courts. In his harem were 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines, who
turned his heart to idolatry. In punishment for his apostasy, God declared
that his kingdom should be divided, and that his son should reign only
over the single tribe of Judah, which was spared him for the sake of his
father David. In his latter days he was disturbed in his delusions by
various adversaries who rose up against him--by Hadad, a prince of Edom,
and Rezon, king of Damascus, and Jeroboam, one of his principal officers,
who afterward became king of the ten revolted tribes. Solomon continued,
however, to reign over the united tribes for forty years, when he was
gathered to his fathers.

The apostasy of Solomon is the most mournful fall recorded in
history, thereby showing that no intellectual power can rescue a man from
the indulgence of his passions and the sins of pride and vainglory. How
immeasurably superior to him in self-control was Marcus Aurelius, who had
the whole world at his feet! It was women who had estranged him from
allegiance to God--the princesses of idolatrous nations. Although no
mention is made of his repentance, the heart of the world will not accept
his final impenitence; and we infer from the book of Ecclesiastes, written
when all his delusions were dispelled--that sad and bitter and cynical
composition,--that he was at least finally persuaded that the fear of the
Lord constitutes the beginning and the end of all wisdom in this
probationary state. And we can not but feel that he who urged this wisdom
upon the young with so much reason and eloquence at last was made to feel
its power upon his own soul.

The government of Solomon, nevertheless had proved arbitrary, and
his public works oppressive. The monarch whom he most resembled, in his
taste for magnificence, in the splendor of his reign, and in the vexations
and humiliations of his latter days, was Louis XIV. of France, who sowed
the seeds of future revolutions. So Solomon prepared the way for
rebellion, by his grievous exactions. Under his son Rehoboam, a vain and
frivolous, and obstinate young man, who ascended the throne B.C. 975, the
revolt took place. He would not listen to his father's councillors, and
increased rather than mitigated the burdens of the people. And this revolt
was successful: ten tribes joined the standard of Jeroboam, with 800,000
fighting men. Judah remained faithful to Rehoboam, and the tribe of
Benjamin subsequently joined it, and from its geographical situation, it
remained nearly as powerful as the other tribes, having 500,000 fighting
men. But the area of territory was only quarter as large.

The Jewish nation is now divided. The descendants of David reign at
Jerusalem; the usurper and rebel Jeroboam reigns over the ten tribes, at
Shechem.

For the sake of clearness of representation we will first present 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 treasures which Solomon had
accumulated. He was also at war with Jeroboam all his days. He was
succeeded by his son Abijam, whose reign was evil and unfortunate, 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 succeeded 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-Hadad, king of Syria, and, with a large bribe, induced
him to break with Baasha, king of Israel. His reign lasted forty years,
and he 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 virtuously, and
his ships visited Ophir for gold as in the time of Solomon, being in
alliance with the Phoenicians. His son Jehoram succeeded him, and reigned
eight years, but was disgraced 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 independence, according to the predictions
made to Esau, that his posterity, after serving Israel, should finally
break their yoke.

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 idolaters. 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 overthrown 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 instituted many other reforms, having supreme power,
like Dunstan over the Saxon kings, when 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,
Zechariah 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
commanding 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 assassinated 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 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 rashly challenged 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 Edomites, 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 treasures
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 the 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 agriculture and the cultivation of the vine, and the raising
of cattle. But he could not stand prosperity, and in his presumption,
attempted even to force himself in the sacred part of the temple to offer
sacrifices, which was permitted to the priests alone; for which violation
of the sacred laws of the realm, he was smitten with leprosy--the most
loathsome of all the diseases which afflict the East. As a leper, he
remained isolated 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 Assyrians 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,
receiving tribute from the Ammonites, and was succeeded 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 Rezin, king of
Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, and afflicted by the Edomites and
Philistines, he invoked the aid of Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria,
offering him the treasure of the temple and his royal palace. The Assyrian
monarch responded, and took Damascus, 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 so far as to break in pieces the
brazen serpent of Moses, which had become an object of superstitious
homage. 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. No such day of national jubilee had been seen since the reign
of Solomon. He cut down the groves in which idolatrous priests performed
their mysterious rites, and overthrew their altars throughout the land.
The temple was purified, and the courses of the priests were restored.
Under his encouragement 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 direction he made war successfully against
the Philistines, and sought to recover the independence of Judah. In the
fourteenth year of his reign, Sennacherib invaded Palestine. Hezekiah
purchased his favor by a present 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 marched upon Jerusalem, but was arrested
in his purpose by the miraculous 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 people.

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

His son, Amon, followed in the steps of his father, but after a
brief reign of two years, was killed by his 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 independent king
of Judah--whose piety and zeal in destroying idolatry, and great reforms,
have 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 fidelity to the laws
of Moses. But notwithstanding all his piety and zeal, God was not to be
turned 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 prevent the march of Necho,
which lay through the great plain of Esdraelon. 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 kings.

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

The people proclaimed one of his sons, Shallum, to be king, under
the name of Jehoahaz, but the Egyptian 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 against him,
having driven the Egyptians out of Palestine. Jehoiakim made his
submission to the 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
Nebuchadnezzar, a great general, came to carry on the siege in person. The
city fell, the king was carried into captivity, with 10,000 of his
subjects, among whom were Ezekiel and Mordecai, and only the poorer class
remained behind. Over these people Nebuchadnezzar set up Zedekiah, 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, and was leveled with the ground, and the temple 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, however,
repeopled by heathen settlers, as was Samaria. The small remnant that
remained, under the guidance of Jeremiah, 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 prosperity
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 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 exception, and were hopelessly sunk into idolatry; whereas the
kings of Judah were good as well as evil, and some of them were
illustrious for virtues and talents. The descendants of David reigned in
Jerusalem in an unbroken dynasty for more than 500 years, while the
monarchs 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, and, were it not for the
beautiful episodes which 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 kings.

Jeroboam commenced his reign B.C. 975, by setting up for worship
two golden calves in Bethel and Dan, and thus inaugurated idolatry: for
which his dynasty was short. His son Nadah was murdered in a military
revolution, B.C. 953, and the usurper of his throne, Baasha, destroyed his
whole 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 exceeded all his predecessors in iniquity, and was
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, during which he
sought to destroy the man who prophesied so much evil, but who was
miraculously fed in his flight by the ravens, Ahab allowed Elijah to do
his will.

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, whom Jezebel supported. He then invoked the people,
who, it seems, vacillated in their opinions in respect to Jehovah and
Baal, to choose finally, of these two deities, the God whom they would
worship. Having discomfited the priests of Baal in the trial of
sacrifices, and mocked them with the fiercest irony, thereby showing 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, she was transported with rage and
fury, and 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 besiege Samaria. Defeated
in a battle with Ahab, the king of Syria fled, but returned the following
year 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 taking 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 the last time, and pronounced a dreadful penalty--that his own
royal blood should be licked up by dogs in the very place where Naboth was
slain, and that his posterity 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 Ramoth, in
Gilead, from Benhadad, he lost his life, and was brought in his chariot to
Samaria to be buried. And the dogs came and licked the blood from the
chariot where it was washed. He was succeeded by Ahaziah, his son, B.C.
913, who renewed the worship of Baal, and died after a short and
inglorious reign, B.C. 896, without leaving any son, and Jehoram, his
brother, succeeded him. In reference to this king the Scripture accounts
are obscure, and he is sometimes confounded with Jehoram, the son of
Jehoshaphat, 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 stones.

Meanwhile, it happened that there was a grievous famine in Samaria,
so that an ass's head sold for eighty pieces of silver. Benhadad, in this
time of national distress, came with mighty 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 fled, 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 had murdered his master.
In this war, Jehoram, or Joram, was wounded, 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 generals, conspired against him, and drew a bow against him,
and the arrow pierced him so that he died, and his body was cast into
Naboth's vineyard. Thus was the sin against Naboth again avenged. Jehu
prosecuted the work of vengeance assigned to him, and slew Ahaziah, 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 Jehoram, and was therefore inflicted
with another invasion of the Syrians, who devastated his country, and
decimated his people. He died, after a reign of twenty-eight years, B.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 humiliation, and was succeeded by his son Johash, who
followed the wicked course of his predecessors. His 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 reproached
them. Nor is anything 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 pass. He seems
to have lived an isolated and ascetic life, though he had great influence
with the people and the king, like other prophets of the Lord.

Jeroboam II. succeeded Johash, B.C. 825, and reigned successfully,
and received all the territory which the Syrians had gained, but he did
not depart from the idolatry of the golden calves. His son and successor,
Zachariah, followed his evil courses, and was slain by Shallum, after a
brief reign of six mouths, and the dynasty of Jehu came to an end, B.C.
772.

Shallum was murdered one month afterward by Menahem, who reigned
ingloriously ten years. It was during his reign that Pul, king of Assyria,
invaded his territories, but was induced to retire for a sum of one
thousand talents of silver, which he exacted from his subjects. He was
succeeded by Pekaiah, a bad prince, who was assassinated at the end of two
years by Pekah, one of his captains, who seized his throne. During his
reign, which lasted twenty years, Tiglath-Pilaser, king of Assyria, made
war against him, by invitation of Ahaz, and took his principal cities, and
carried their inhabitants captive to Nineveh. He was assassinated by
Hosea, who reigned in his stead. He also was a bad prince, and became
subject to Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, who came up against him. In the
ninth year of his reign, having proved treacherous to Shalmanezer, the
king of Assyria besieged Samaria, and carried him captive to his own
capital. Thus ended the kingdom of the ten tribes, who were now carried
into captivity beyond the Euphrates, and who settled in the eastern
provinces of Assyria, and probably relapsed hopelessly into idolatry,
without ever revisiting their native laud. In all probability most of them
were absorbed among the nations which composed the Assyrian empire, B.C.
721.

Nineteen sovereigns thus reigned over the children of Israel in
Samaria--a period of two hundred and fifty-four years; not one of them was
obedient to the laws of God, and most of whom perished by assassination,
or in battle. There is no record in history of more inglorious kings.
There was not a great man nor a good man among them all. They were, with
one or two exceptions, disgraced by the idolatry of Jeroboam, in whose
steps they followed. Nor was their kingdom ever raised to any considerable
height of political power. The history of the revolted and idolatrous
tribes is gloomy and disgraceful, only relieved by the stern lives of
Elijah and Elisha, the only men of note who remained true to the God of
their fathers, and who sought to turn the people from their sins.
"Whereupon the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of
his sight."





Next: The Old Chaldean And Assyrian Monarchies

Previous: The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David



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