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about to attack Ramoth-Gilead, which the king of Syria withheld A.M. 3107. from him, offered to be his ally in the proposed war, but first B.C. 897. wished the prophets to be consulted as to the issue. They were accordingly summoned before the two monarchs, and promised Ahab success in his enterprise. Jehoshaphat seems to have gathered, from some circumstance not explained, that these prophets were either deceived themselves, or disposed to flatter; for he earnestly inquired whether there did not remain some other seer who might be consulted. Ahab acknowledged that Micaiah was absent, who Micaiah. seems to have fallen under his displeasure for his blunt fidelity, and has by some been, therefore, conjectured to have been the prophet who predicted that the life of Ahab should go for the life of Benhadad. It is not unlikely that the prophets consulted were prophets of Baal, and that Jehoshaphat, perceiving this, was anxious to have called a prophet of the Lord; and if this conjecture, which is adopted, under a full persuasion of its correctness, by Calmet, be admitted, it will throw some light upon that spirit of delusion which was said, by divine permission, to rest upon them. However this may be, Micaiah predicted the overthrow and death of Ahab, who, highly incensed, ordered him to prison; and to turn aside the prophecy, persuaded Jehoshaphat to put on his royal robes, while he himself went into the battle disguised as a private man. In the course of the conflict, Jehoshaphat was so hardly pressed, the king of Syria having commanded his men to direct all their attacks against the person of the king of Israel, that he was compelled to discover himself, and with difficulty escaped with his life. Ahab, in the meanwhile, disguised as he was, was slain by an arrow Ahab slain. drawn at a venture, but divinely directed, and thus perished, as was foretold.
AHAZIAH succeeded his father Ahab in every sense, being as A.M. 3108. devoted to idolatry as his predecessor. Jehoshaphat returned to B.C. 896. his kingdom after the late disastrous battle, and was so severely Ahaziah reproved by the prophet Jehu for his alliance with Ahab, that when succeeds. Ahaziah wished to join him in a commercial enterprise, the king of Judah for some time refused all further connection with that family. Ahaziah, in the second year of his reign, was so injured by a fall His fall and that his recovery appeared extremely doubtful. He sent to inquire sickness. of Baalzebub, the idol of Ekron, what should be the issue of his sickness; and his messengers were met by Elijah, who sent them Elijah back with the information that he should never again rise from his death. bed. The king knew the prophet from their description of his person and dress, and sent three officers, successively, each commanding a company of fifty men, to apprehend him. Two of these parties were consumed by fire from heaven, at his word, (a circumstance noted by the disciples of our Lord,) and the third he spared, accompanying him to the king, and confirming his prediction in the
A.M. 3108. royal presence. Ahaziah died accordingly, after a reign of two
to leave him, he visited the schools of the prophets at Bethel, and
chariot and horses of fire parted them, and Elijah was taken up translation.
into heaven. His mantle fell from him as he ascended, and was regarded by Elisha as the grant of his petition. He took it up, and smiting with it the waters of Jordan, they again divided, and afforded him a passage. The sons of the prophets received him as the successor of Elijah: and his miraculous interference was solicited and exercised in cleansing the unwholesome waters, and rendering fruitful the barren lands of Jericho. Some young persons, the children probably of idolatrous parents, who insulted the religion of Jehovah in their mockery of his prophet, were punished at Bethel with a violent death.
Jehoram king of Israel.
In the same year JEHORAM, the son of Ahab, and brother of Ahaziah, succeeded to the throne of Israel, stained with the same vices as those which dishonoured and ruined his predecessors, although not to the same idolatrous extent. Finding himself
involved in a war with Moab, he sought the alliance of the governor Assisted by of Edom, and of Jehoshaphat, who again shared the dangers of the Jehoshaphat
rival kingdom, by a strange prepossession in favour of the family of Ahab. The confederate armies were on the point of perishing with thirst, and the king of Judah was immediately for consulting the Lord. Elisha was sent for, who, after severely reproving Jehoram, and expressing a high respect for Jehoshaphat, foretold a sudden and large supply by a land-flood, together with the defeat of the Moabites, which came to pass accordingly. Jehoshaphat himself, towards the close of his reign, was invaded by a confederacy of Ammonites, Moabites, and other nations; but whether a little before, or immediately after, the events just alluded to, it is not easy to determine. In this extremity the king of Judah proclaimed
a fast, and received a message from the prophet Jehaziel, that this A.M. 3115. formidable army should fall self-destroyed the next day. These B.C. 889. allied powers turned their arms against each other, and so comJehosha- pletely extinguished their forces, that it only remained for Jehoshapictory and phat and his people to gather the spoil. With this miraculous
transaction we close the life of this illustrious monarch, who died in peace after a prosperous reign of twenty-five years.
In the meanwhile, throughout the reign of Jehoram, king of A.M. 3115. Israel, Elisha the prophet was filling up a brilliant career, of which B.C. 889. our limits will only suffer us to give a hasty sketch. The widow of one of the prophets came to Elisha, and complained that her hus- Elisha's band's creditor was about to sell her two sons as bondmen to Miracl liquidate a debt which she was unable to pay. This practice is prevalent through all the East, and under most despotic governments, Eastern the persons of the peasantry being considered as much the property and superof the master as their labour. Our Lord alludes to the circumstance stitions more than once in his parables. A similar instance of the savage features of the age, which we passed over in the preceding narrative, was the conduct of the king of Moab, who, when he found himself pressed in the siege by the united arms of the sovereigns of Israel, Judah, and Edom, according to the superstitions of his day and country, took his own son, and sacrificed him upon the walls, to appease the offended deities; a practice afterwards notorious among the Carthaginians, prevalent also wherever Moloch was worshipped, and not unknown to the Israelites, who “ caused their sons to pass through the fire,” when they had resigned themselves to idolatry. In this instance, the act of the Moabitish monarch raised such horror and indignation in the bosoms of the besiegers, that they raised the siege, and departed from him. To return to the narrative-Elisha, finding the prophet's widow possessed only a cruse of oil, ordered her to borrow as many vessels of her neighbours as she could procure, and to pour out into them, the oil multiplying Elisha
multiplies miraculously until they were all filled ; and by the sale of it she the oil. was enabled to discharge her debt. A Shunamite of consideration in her city, perceiving that the Sojourns
with the prophet often passed that way, proposed to her husband to make shtun some accommodation for him in their house. To recompense this spontaneous benevolence, of which he availed himself, Elisha, finding she was childless, promised her a son, and his prediction was accomplished. The child grew up, and then died suddenly; probably by one of those sun-strokes which are not unusual in hot countries. She apprized Elisha of this sad event, and manifested under it a singular combination of grief and resignation. He raised Raises her the child from the dead, and in recording her speechless gratitudo, the narrator produces one of those simple and affecting descriptions which so much abound in the sacred writings, and in which the whole scene passes again before us—" then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.” No other language could have expressed emotions 80 powerful.
At Gilgal, during a severe famine, one of the sons of the prophets gathered wild gourds, and baving prepared them, served them up to the people, not knowing that they were poisonous. By casting Neutralizes meal into the pot, Elisha miraculously rendered the food wholesome. poison.
A.M. 3115. About the same time, having received a present of twenty barley B.C. 889. loaves, he multiplied them until one hundred men were satisfied, Multiplies and left fragments of the provision.
The commander of the forces of the king of Syria, a man distinguished as well by his noble qualities as by the royal favour, was afflicted with a leprosy which appeared to be incurable. A young female slave, who had been taken away from the land of Israel in one of the invasions, mentioned Elisha as able to recover her lord ; upon which the king of Syria sent Naaman with a letter to the king of Israel, entreating his restoration to health, to the surprise and dismay of the latter monarch, who considered it intended as an occasion of war between them. Elisha required the attendance of Naaman, and recommended him to wash seven times in Jordan. Naaman, who did not consider himself as treated with sufficient respect, as the prophet did not see him, and who placed no confidence in the proposed remedy, at first refused to comply with the injunction of the prophet; but was afterwards persuaded to make trial of it, and recovered his health instantly. He now would have loaded the prophet with presents, by whom they were all peremptorily refused; but his servant, willing to enrich himself at the expense of the illustrious stranger, followed after him, and requested, in the name of his master, a talent of silver and two changes of raiment; which were not only granted, but Naaman pressed upon his acceptance, two talents, amounting to nearly £700 of English money,
and the garments were probably costly. Upon his return, after Gehazi. concealing the articles thus fraudulently obtained, Gehazi was
instantly charged with his crime by the prophet, who sentenced
him and his family to the penalty of that disease of which he had A.M. 3111. just cured Naaman. About the same period, the sons of the proB.C. 893. phets requiring a larger dwelling, in making suitable arrangements
for their accommodation, one of them dropped the head of his axe Causes iron into the river, and upon complaining to Elisha, the prophet caused
the iron to swim.
At this time the king of Syria was engaged in hostilities against the king of Israel, but always defeated in his purposes, through the anticipation of his plans by his opponent. At first he
suspected treachery among his own servants; but it afterwards Exposes the appeared, that the inspiration of Elisha enabled him to discover the councils of me
most secret councils of the Syrians to his own sovereign. The incensed monarch resolved to possess himself of his person, and sent accordingly a considerable body of troops to seize him. They encompassed the city, and the servant of the prophet was much alarmed; until, at the prayers of Elisha, his eyes were opened to
discern the spiritual guardians which were planted round his masStrikes their ter. The Syrian army was seized, in the sequel, either with an
actual blindness, or a confusion of vision, which did not suffer them to distinguish objects; and in this state, as they were inquiring the
host with blindness.
road to the point of their destination, Elisha led them into the A M. 3111. heart of Samaria, and there delivered them into the power of the B.C. 893. king of Israel; at the same time stipulating for their safety, restoring them their sight, and after they had been refreshed with food, causing them to be sent back to Syria.
The war did not, however, so terminate. Benhadad besieged A.M. 3112. Samaria, and bitterly did the son of Ahab lament the ill-timed B.C. 892. generosity of his father to this oppressor; for such was the extremity A dreadful of the famine, that two women came to the horrible agreement to famine. kill each of them her only child, and devour the unnatural food between them. Such an event had been predicted by Moses, when he foretold what would be the desperate circumstances of the Israelites if they forsook their God; and a similar occurrence is recorded by Josephus as having taken place in the final siege of Jerusalem by Titus. One of these mothers had actually thus destroyed her son; but her associate, who had shared the revolting provision, touched with maternal compunction, concealed her own child. On this dreadful business complaint was made to the king, who considered Elisha either as indifferent to these calamities, or as slow to remove them, (presuming upon his ability, from what he had seen of his miraculous agency,) and sent a messenger to command him to be beheaded. The prophet detained him at the door Elisha's
danger and until the king himself, who followed closely after, arrived. Elisha
prophecy. assured him that on the very next day, at the same hour, abundance should be enjoyed—a prediction so very unlikely in the calamitous state of the city, that it was repelled with derision by one of the Derided. attendant lords, who was threatened that he should himself see, but not partake of the plenty, which was introduced by the following circumstance. Four men, who were lepers, and, according to the law, thrust out of the city, were perishing with hunger at its gates, and wrought up to desperation, they resolved to throw themselves upon the mercy of the Syrians—satisfied that they could but die. They came accordingly to the camp, and found it deserted; the God of AccomplishIsrael having in the night caused the besieging army to hear a hat means. miraculous noise as of chariots, horses, and a mighty army, they fled, with the utmost precipitation, from a force which they imagined Jehoram had found means to hire from Egypt and other nations superior to their own. When these lepers had made a report of these circumstances, the king of Israel suspected a stratagem of war; but upon further scrutiny, he found that the Syrians were actually departed. The quantity of provision they had left behind them afforded that plenty which Elisha had foretold; and the nobleman who had received the intimation with mockery, being appointed to keep one of the gates, was trampled upon by the people, in their eagerness to obtain supplies of food, and received so much injury that he died.
Another famine arose in the year succeeding, which Elisha pre