ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

. uncertain.

and rent into twelve pieces, of which he gave Jeroboam ten, signify- A.M. 3024. ing thereby not only the division of the empire, but the proportionate B.c. 980. share which he should have in it. This extraordinary rencontre, with all its circumstances, coming to the ear of the king, Jeroboam was compelled to flee to Shishak, king of Egypt, under whose protection he lived until the death of Solomon.

Whether these conspiring events, attended by the express admonition which he had received, wrought repentance in the heart of the aged monarch is not said, nor does it become us to attempt to decide upon the great question of his final state. This has been frequently agitated, and often with little decorum. If we were to venture an opinion, it would be a favourable one; for he who was honoured with the distinguished title, the beloved of the Lord, in his youth, one Solomon's would fain conclude, would not be left wholly to perish in his age. repentance Besides which, it has been thought, with a high degree of probability, that the book of Ecclesiastes was the production of his old age, and the depository of his better thoughts, when the delusions of life were fast fading from his eyes. This is a point, however, upon which we have no evidence; and it appears to us to comport with the justice and purity of the divine character, that the state of even such a man as Solomon should be left doubtful, as a punishment of his apostacy, and an alarming instance of the malignity of sin: he died after a A.M. 3029. reign of forty years; precisely the date of his father David's B.C. 975. sovereignty; and so far as we can judge, upon the reasonable sup- His death. position that he came to the throne in his eighteenth year, about fifty-eight years old. Thus the riches and glory which were promised him, as annexed to his wisdom, because he made so judicious a choice, were granted: but the length of days, which was conditionally held out to him, if he adhered to the divine statutes, was denied; for the statement of Josephus, who assigns to him eighty years of Error of reign, and ninety-four of life, is not only without foundation, but will Josephus appear upon examination to be a palpable error.

REHOBOAM. Solomon, at eighteen years of age, when he came to the throne, began to astonish Israel with that wisdom which afterwards spread through the whole earth; Rehoboam, who succeeded him at the age Rehoboam. of forty, afforded, at the commencement of his inauspicious reign, such an instance of his folly and tyranny, as revolted the hearts of his subjects, and alienated ten parts of his empire. How unlike to his illustrious predecessor! and how striking an exemplification of Solomon's own description of “a foolish son!” That eminent men His fully. should have weak children, is an occurrence not uncommon in the history of mankindwhy it is so, is not easily solvable on any philosophical principle. At forty, Rehoboam was old enough to have preferred the wise policy of his father's tried and aged counsellorsnor could the young men who “ grew up with him” have been

ten tribes.

A.M. 3029. novices; but they seem to have had the same measure of underB.C. 975. standing with himself; and it is the characteristic of a weak man to

delight in the company of fools. Upon the death of the king of Jeroboam. Israel, Jeroboam returned out of Egypt, and Shechem being the

place at which the new monarch intended to receive the homage of his people, this adventurer presented himself at the head of a multitude, who thought themselves aggrieved by certain taxes imposed by Solomon, and required a relaxation of these burdens as the condition of their allegiance. Contrary to the advice of his father's ministers, Rehoboam, at the close of three days, which he had demanded to deliberate upon their petition, returned for answer, as he had been counselled by his rash companions, that so far from purposing to relax the severities of his predecessor, it was his fixed resolution to impose

upon them a yoke incomparably heavier. This weak and wicked Revolt of the determination caused ten of the twelve tribes of Israel to separate

from the house of David. Adoram, the collector of tribute, was slain; Jeroboam elected king of Israel; Judah and Benjamin, with a remnant of the other tribes, alone remaining faithful to the son of Solomon; and Rehoboam himself was compelled to seek his personal safety by flying to Jerusalem. In this emergency, he raised an army of 180,000 men to chastise the revolters, and reduce them to obedience; but when this formidable force were upon the point of marching against their rebelling brethren, a message from God, by the prophet Shemaiah, forbade their expedition, and explained, that this defection had been permitted by him as a visitation for the idolatry of Solomon.

In the meanwhile Jeroboam sought to establish his newly-acquired empire, making Shechem the seat of government, until Samaria afterwards obtained that distinction, (which, however, from local advantages, reverted again to Shechem after Samaria was destroyed.) The policy of the new monarch of Israel suggested to him, that he would always be in danger of revolt while his subjects went up year by year to the metropolis of his rival to worship. He, therefore, erected two altars, the one at Dan, the other at Bethel, for the specious purpose of their convenience in remembering the God that

brought them up out of Egypt, but in reality for idolatrous worship. Jeroboam's According to the model furnished by Egypt, and familiar to Israel,

two golden calves were set up, in imitation of the Apis of that country, to which the people had, in the wilderness, shown so fatal a preference; and, with their former ungrateful caprice, his subjects quickly complied with the suggestion of their monarch. But as he stood by

the altar to offer incense, evidently for the further purpose of blendRegal and ing the priestly with the kingly dignity, (a practice as strictly forpriestly dignity

bidden to the Jews, as it was prevalent among other nations, to the united. fall of the Roman empire,) and approached to perform these usurped

functions, a prophet, who is not named, drew near, and in a strain of vehement eloquence “ cried against the altar, in the name of the

idols.

withered and

Lord.” He predicted that the bones of these very priests, who A.m. 3029. were now officiating subordinately to the king, should be burned upon B.c. 975. that altar, by a future monarch, of the name of Josiah, descended from the house of David; a declaration actually fulfilled 351 years afterwards, (and remarkable amongst the few cases in ancient prophecy, in which the instrument as well as his work was named ;) facts which, when well authenticated, must lead beyond dispute to the source of such predictions. As a sign of his mission, and of the certainty of the events foretold, this prophet also declared that the altar itself should immediately be rent, and the ashes poured out. Enraged at the interruption occasioned by this stranger, and still more at the import of his threatening, Jeroboam stretched forth his hand, commanding him to be seized, or perhaps as the executioner of his own haughty will. It was instantaneously withered and power- Jeroboam's less; nor was it restored but at the intercession of the man of God: by the altar also was divided as he had said. To give emphasis to his restored. message, this nameless seer had received a strict command neither to eat at Bethel nor to return by the road by which he approached it; accordingly he refused the invitation of Jeroboam to refresh himself. But deceived by another prophet, who, for motives which are not stated, and cannot be assigned therefore by us, pretended to have received a contrary mandate, he violated the injunction of God and turned aside to the deceiver's house. Here, while the victim of his falsehood sat at his table, his seducer was seized with a prophetical spirit, and testified the punishment of his disobedience by a Disobedi. violent death; which occurred as he returned home, a lion killing ence, and he

M8 death of the him by the way. There is a mystery about this transaction upon prophet. which we cannot undertake to reason, but which is connected with too many acknowledged events, dependent upon it, and affecting a whole people, not to be received as an undoubted fact. The very sepulchre of this prophet, with some characteristic inscription, remained to the days of Josiah, and became the means of accomplishing the prediction in question.

Jeroboam, unaffected by this visitation, is chastised by another. His pious child, Abijah, was seized with a threatening sickness, and, anxious to ascertain the result, he sent his queen disguised to Abijah, who had predicted his sovereignty. The prophet, who was now blind with age, was inspired to know who his visitor was, and to foretell the death of her son, when she should approach her own house; Death of not as an evil to the child, but as a punishment to his hardened Jeroboa mos parent: the ruin of whose family was also denounced. In the meanwhile Rehoboam had an opportunity given him of recovering his empire. The Levites, and a large body of the Israelites, dis- A.M. 3033. gusted at the idolatry of Jeroboam, returned to the house of David; B.C. 971. and his forces became equal to those of his ambitious rival. But Rehoboam was the son of an Ammonitess, and enslaved by his Rehoboam's mother's idolatry and counsels. The opportunity was lost, and the la

child.

invasion.

A.M. 3046. corruption of Judah was not less than that of Israel. The punishB.C. 958. ment followed, in the invasion of Shishak, king of Egypt, foretold Shishak's by the prophet Shemaiah; and the conqueror despoiled the temple

of its golden shields and its treasures, together with the riches of the palaces. Thus, in the short interval between Solomon and Rehoboam, Jerusalem began to be impoverished, and the sanctuary profaned. Rehoboam substituted bucklers of brass, for those of gold; and for the present was spared further ruin. He seemed touched at length with his situation, and humbled himself before God, who suffered him to reign twelve years afterwards in peace. Having fixed upon the heir of his kingdom from among his sons, he had the

prudence to make settlements for his other children suitable to Rehoboam's their princely rank; and died at the age of fifty-eight, having

sustained a weak and stormy reign of seventeen years.

death.

A bijah. Abijam, or Abijah, as the name is written indiscriminately, suc

ceeded him. His reign was short, but not inglorious, if militarr exploits are to be the standard of distinction; if morals, then, alas! it is recorded of him, that he “ walked in all the sins of his father.” His first object was to attack Jeroboam, whom he reproached for

his rebellion, and, in his expostulation, admitted the weakness of A.2 3047. his father. The levy with which he advanced to meet his adverB.C. 957. sary, although large, was unequal in numerical force to the power

opposed to him; the army of Abijah, consisting of no less than

400,000 men, being still doubled by that of Jeroboam. The king Defeats of Judah had the victory, and so completely defeated his antagonist,

that Jeroboam never “recovered his strength.”

Jeroboam.

and Asa suceeds.

A bijah dies. After a reign of not more than three years A bijah died, and was

succeeded by his son Asa, whose attachment to religion formed the A.M. 3049. best pledge of the security of his empire. Two years after he came B.C. 955. to the throne Jeroboam died, after a reign of twenty-two years, it Death of should seem, by some sudden or unusual stroke of mortality, since

uboam. it is said, “the Lord struck him with death.” The zeal of the Asa's piety. king of Judah was so ardent and sincere, that he deposed his own A.M. 3050. mother on account of her idolatry, and destroyed all the monuments B.C. 954. of her superstition. In the meanwhile Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, Nadab. had succeeded to the throne of Israel, which he held only two years;

for in the siege of Gibbethon, belonging to the Philistines, Baasha, of the tribe of Issachar, conspired against him and slew him; and not satisfied with seizing upon his kingdom, the usurper extirpated the whole family of Jeroboam, as had been predicted. It is necessary to trace, with a rapid hand, a succession of reigns, in both kingdoms, distinguished by no features of particular interest, that circumstances more deeply important may occupy a due proportion of our attention.

Asa availed himself of the tranquillity of the early part of his

atamo

a

[ocr errors]

military

reign, to fortify the fenced cities of Judah, and establish a consider- A.M. 3053. able army. This is stated to have consisted of 580,000 men; and B.C. 951. it is necessary to observe, in connection with the prodigious num- Asa's bers of warriors, represented in these ages as mustered on particular sirangri. occasions, that they were not a standing army, but the whole body of the empire, capable of being called out upon an emergency, a part of whom only served in common, and were dismissed in turn to their domestic concerns; but the whole of which might be calculated upon, in the event of invasion, or of any extraordinary demand for exertion; and they were accordingly all employed on certain occurrences. These precautions of Asa were soon proved to be not A.M. 3063. only political, but absolutely necessary, by the spirit of his restless B.C. 941. neighbour, Baasha, between whom and himself perpetual hostility Baasha king subsisted. An army of Ethiopians invaded hiin, with no less than of Israel. 1,000,000 of men, whom he defeated, and received encouragement from Azariah, the son of Obed, to continue firm in his allegiance to God. His faith failed him, however, upon an attack of Baasha, in conjunction with Benhadad, king of Syria; the latter of whom A.M. 3061. he bought off with presents, which stripped the sanctuary of its B.C. 940. wealth, as well as emptied his own treasury. This distrust of providence, and alliance with an idolatrous monarch, called forth a severe reproof from the prophet Hanani, which enraged the king, Asa. who was now suffering with some disease in his feet, and the seer paid the penalty of incarceration for his fidelity. Several acts of petulance, which are glanced at, but not specified by the sacred A.M. 3090. historian, disgraced the close of this otherwise distinguished reign, B.c. 914. which lasted forty-one years.

Before the death of Asa, several important revolutions had taken A.M. 3074. place in the rival kingdom of Israel. Jehu, the son of Hanani, had b.c. 930. been commissioned to apprize Baasha, that as he practised the sins, Baasha. he should share the punishment of his predecessor, not only in his own person, but in his posterity; and these calamities respected also the violence by which he had usurped the throne. When man becomes the instrument of executing judgment upon his fellow-man, swayed only by his own ambition, and unconscious of the high behest he is accomplishing, the sentence inflicted is just; but the administrator of it is no less amenable for his own motives. Baasha died, Dies. and was succeeded by his son Elah, in the 26th year of Asa's reign. Elah. The cup which his father had administered to his master, was put A.M. 3075. to the lips of his son, by his own servant. Zimri conspired against B.C. 929. him, and slew him, nor did he deem himself secure upon his usurped throne, until he had cut off “ all the house of Baasha.”

Seven days only was the inglorious reign of Zimri, a space, how- Zimri's ever, sufficient to enable him, by the expedition with which he shortation. followed the work of death, to fulfil the destiny of his master's family. The usurpation of Zimri was never ratified by the Israelites; who .

S. H.

R

« 前へ次へ »