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and Zimri's death.
A.M. 3075. so soon as they heard of his conspiracy and murder, chose Omri, B.C. 929. “the captain of the host,” as their monarch; he besieged Zimri in Omri chosen Tirzah ; who, finding that the city was taken, and his cause hopeless,
ri's shut himself up in the palace, which he fired, and perished in the flames.
As yet Omri was not firmly seated on the throne; for another ting and rival appeared in the person of Tibni, who had found means to divide
the Israelites on the great question of the successor to the monarchy. A.M. 3079. But the contest terminated fatally to Tibni: and in the 31st year of B.C. 925. Asa's reign, Omri was quietly established in the regal authority of
Israel. His whole reign was about twelve years; on the first half of which he was occupied in supporting his pretensions to the diadem; the last presented him, confirmed indeed, in his authority, but immersed in the criminality of his predecessors. One circumstance is worthy of attention, because it subsequently furnished a
metropolis to Israel, he bought of Shemer the hisl which was called Omri builds after the name of its possessor, and built upon it a city, which he called Samaria ; not changing its original title.
AHAB. A.M. 3086. In the 38th year of Asa, king of Judah, Omri, king of Israel B.C. 918. died; and was succeeded by Ahab his son, who exceeded his pre
decessors in evil, and added to his offences in his alliance with Jezebel, daughter of the king of Zidon, but whose reign was distin
guished by many important and miraculous occurrences. Among Jericho and others, in his days, Hiel, the Bethelite, braving the curse of Joshua
against those who should rebuild Jericho, had the temerity to attempt it; and suffered for his rashness, the loss of his eldest and youngest child: thus sustaining the penalty of a prediction which had been delivered five centuries before.
ELIJAH THE TISHBITE. A.M. 3094. At this time we are suddenly introduced to an extraordinary B.C. 910. character, Elijah, the Tishbite, who rises upon us amidst the moral Elijah the darkness of his country, like the sun in his strength; obscured,
indeed, until his very meridian, and not affording the gradations from the twilight to the perfect day. This distinguished prophet is seen, for the first time, announcing to the guilty king of Israel, a famine, which lasted three years and a half. For himself, he was commanded to remain concealed from the indignation of the offended monarch, by the brook Cherith ; not improbably wandering through some such wild ravine, as the glens which are familiar to us in the northern
parts of this empire, and where the raven delights to find her home: during the
there he was fed by miracle, this voracious bird being the purveyor dearth.
of his daily provision. Such an interposition, in an age of miracles, befitted the character of one, who stood almost alone against an empire.
Fed by ravens
“ Among innumerable false, unmov’d,
Unshaken, unseduc'd, unterrified,
The continuance of the drought having exhausted the brook, he was sent to directed to go to Zarephath, a city of Zidon, and to take up his abode Zareph with a widow, whom he found so impoverished, and so hopeless because of the severity of the famine, that she was gathering a few sticks to bake the cake which she had made from the last handful of meal, and the little oil in her possession, for herself and her child; having no prospect before them afterwards but that of a miserable death by hunger. Elijah predicted that these scanty resources should prove inexhaustible, until the fruitfulness of the seasons should be restored : and, accordingly, with her he lived until that period; the barrel of meal, and the cruse of oil, having been miraculously supplied. Miraculous While this lowly roof sheltered the prophet, her child died; and in supply. the paroxysm of her anguish, she seemed disposed to impute this calamity in some way to her guest, supposing that his purity had occasioned a visitation for her sins. Elijah, who appears to have feebly sustained his patience, in this trying scene, took the body into Raises the his own chamber, and having stretched himself upon the child and hila prayed over him, it pleased God to restore him again to life.
In the meanwhile, Ahab, influenced by Jezebel, multiplied idols A.M. 3098. of every description in his empire, and gratified her cruel disposition B.C. 906. by destroying so many of the prophets of the Lord as he could seize. Jezebel. In this sanguinary persecution he was secretly counteracted by Obadiah, the governor of his house ; who found means to conceal, Obadiah's and, notwithstanding the severity of the famine, to support one piet hundred of the prophets of Jehovah. After the drought had continued more than three years, Elijah was commanded to visit Ahab; Elijah sent and as he went towards Samaria, he met Obadiah, who had been to . sent by the king to search the land in one direction, while he himself took another route, to discover what water-springs might remain, as the last hope of the country. Elijah commanded this officer to return and acquaint Ahab that he awaited his arrival: a bold message to a king from a subject, who disdained to follow him—to such a tyrant also as Ahab, who had, during the whole time of the prophet's concealment, earnestly sought after him to put him to death. Obadiah reluctantly undertook this commission, fearing that Elijah might be transported in the interval to some other spot, by that supernatural influence which frequently carried the prophets, by sudden transitions, from place to place; and that Ahab, disappointed in not finding him, would take the life of his messenger. Elijah assured him that he must have an interview with the king that day. Obadiah departed to apprize his sovereign, and Ahab immediately returned to encounter fuohond the prophet. They met; and Elijah returned the reproaches of Abab meet.
A.M. 3098. Ahab with a firmness and authority which the monarch could not B.C. 906. resist. At the direction of the prophet, the king assembled the
people of Israel and the prophets of Baal; and when they were conElijah's vened, he proposed to put the claims of Jehovah and the pretensions challenge.
of their idols to the issue of a miracle. Bullocks were prepared, and the wood laid on the altars; but no fire was put under. They were to address the objects of their respective worship, and “the God that answered by fire,” was to be acknowledged as the true God. The experiment was first made by the priests of Baal; who mangled their flesh after the barbarous custom of his idolatrous worship, and cried in vain upon their deity, stimulated to persevere in their attempts to support his honour by the severe sarcasms of Elijah. It was in the evening of the day, when all the ceremonies of idolatry had been practised, and when all pretensions for further delay were exhausted, that the priests of Baal retired abashed and mortified, and Elijah drew near to repair the altar of Jehovah, which neglect, and time, and insult, had demolished. Having made ready the sacrifice, to remove all possible suspicion of concealed fire, he caused water to be poured upon the victim, the wood, and the altar, until the trench with which it was surrounded overflowed; and then calling upon that
great and venerable name which had been so long dishonoured and Fire from disused, “ the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt-sacrifice,
and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water the sacrifice. that was in the trench ;”—while “all the people fell on their faces,”
and shouted, “The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!” Foreign. The historian Menander, in his acts of Ithobab, king of Tyre, testimonies.
records this dearth in the days of Ahab; and Julian, who, as Grotius justly observes, was “ equally the enemy of Jews and Christians,” admits the miracle of the fire falling from heaven to consume the
sacrifice of Elijah. Slaughter of The slaughter of the priests of Baal which followed, at the comthe priests of Baal.
#mand of Elijah, was not the indulgence of personal revenge, but an act of retributive justice for the blood of the prophets which they had caused to be shed; and of righteous punishment for the guilt which they had incurred in seducing the Israelites from the worship of the true God; to whom also they owed allegiance as their special protector, having been by HIM separated from all other nations.
Neither the public miracle which had been wrought in attestation at once of the mission of the prophet, and of the true object of religious worship; nor the blessing of rain, which, at the prayer of Elijah, abundantly followed, could convince or appease the queen,
when Ahab told her of the slaughter of so many of her priests, and Elijah flees the prophet was once more compelled to flee for his life. Under these Jezebel.
circumstances of repeated danger and difficulty, he began to desire a release from his labours and a dismission from the world. He was favoured with a manifestation of Deity, at once sublime and affecting, preceded by the stormy elements, and speaking in “the small,
still voice” of goodness and compassion. Elijah was encouraged by A.M. 3098. the prospect of an assistant in his arduous office; and enlightened as B.c. 906. to the events of future time, which would severely punish the apostacy that he deplored, and “justify the ways of God to man.” He was commanded to anoint Hazael to be king of Syria, Jehu to be king sent to over Israel, and ELISHA to be prophet in his stead. It is a remark- Dar able circumstance that the last only of these commissions was accomplished by the prophet. Jehu was not anointed until twenty-three years later than this event, by one of the sons of the prophets. Hazael had his greatness foretold by Elisha a year earlier, upon his coming to inquire whether the then king of Syria should recover, and both events took place nearly ten years after the removal of Elijah. We must, therefore, suppose either that these events were only revealed to him for his instruction, and to teach him to wait with patience the issue of the divine dispensations, or that, in the appointment of Elisha, which was the act of this prophet, who succeeded him in his work and retained his spirit, what was done, probably, by his own direction, among the instructions he would leave with him, was accounted as done by himself; or, which is, perhaps, far better, we must leave the facts as circumstances which we ought to notice, but for which we cannot account in the silence of Sacred History itself, which offers no solution of them. His destined colleague and Elisha successor was found by him at plough, consistently with the simplicity chosen a of the times, when agriculture afforded wealth, and the rich disdained not to share in the pursuits whence they derived their abundance. The prophet “cast his mantle upon him,” and he appears instantly to have understood the appointment signified by this expressive symbol. He took a yoke of oxen, which he could not have done had not the property been his own, and gave a parting feast to his friends; after which he immediately followed Elijah, and ministered to him as a servant. His service was afterwards described by a phrase truly oriental, “ Elisha, who poured water upon the hands of Elijah,”that being the duty of a servant when the tables are removed, in countries where ablutions are frequently used, and in which, the hands being chiefly employed at meals, the custom becomes necessary for cleanliness no less than for refreshment.
In this pause of the history of Elijah it is proper to observe, that A.M. 3090. about eight years before this period, and in the fourth year of the B.C. 914. reign of Ahab, Asa, the king of Judah, died, after a reign of forty- Death of one years, and was succeeded by his son JEHOSHAPHAT, who was Jeho'shaphat distinguished for his piety. The result accorded with the principle ; succeeds. at the same time that the neighbouring state, under the dominion of Ahab, was suffering every imaginable privation, Jehoshaphat was strengthening his fortresses, and enjoying, with his people, distinguished ease and prosperity. The Philistines and Arabians were tributary to him; and his empire, although so considerably retren
A.M. 3090. ched by the separation of the ten tribes from his family, seemed to B C. 914. recover something of that ancient splendour which it had enjoyed in
the days of Solomon ; “ and he had riches and honour in abun
dance.” A.M. 3103. In the eighteenth year of Ahab, and during the time that we lose B.C. 901. sight of Elijah, Benhadad, king of Syria, at the head of an immense Benhadad army, and supported by no less than thirty-two tributary monarchs,
besieged Samaria. Without any pretext for the war, he sent to Samaria.
urge those demands which implied that the king of Israel was not only tributary to him, but his wealth and possessions wholly at his disposal. Ahab conceded even this stern requisition; but as it was followed by another yet more insolent and threatening, the king of Israel found it necessary to resist such unlimited impositions. A
prophet, who is not named, predicted the entire defeat of the The Syrians invading army, and prescribed the order of the battle. The victory
on the part of the Israelites was complete, and the slaughter of the A.M. 3104. Syrians immense; but Ahab was warned by the same prophet, that B.C. 900. Benhadad would renew the conflict the year succeeding. The invasion The invasion was accordingly renewed, and the overthrow of the renewed.
Syrians again predicted and achieved ; and so great was the destruction of the invading army, that Benhadad was compelled to solicit the compassion of the king of Israel. Ahab exercised, in this instance, an imprudent and ill-timed clemency, for which he was severely reproved by one of the sons of the prophets, who, disguising himself, conveyed the disastrous tidings to the king, of the divine displeasure which he had incurred, in the prevailing parabolic form, a method which led the monarch, unintentionally, as in the case of David, so pass sentence upon himself; and he was assured that his own life would be the forfeit of the rash and false generosity which he had exercised.
Soon after this event, Ahab wishing to obtain the vineyard of Naboth, which was near his palace, and not being able to prevail upon ķim to part with it, (as it was contrary to the law for a man
to sell his inheritance from his family,) Jezebel caused Naboth murders
to be slain upon a false accusation, and the king went down
to take possession of this contested piece of ground. As he drew Elijah near he was met by Elijah, who here makes his final appearance
os to the king, and threatens him with the entire destruction of his Ahab's queen and his family, in language so severe and awful, that even
the heart of this proud tyrant was terrified, and he humbled himself, until it was promised that the evil denounced should not take place in his own reign; after which, he appears to have returned
to his evil courses with unaltered effrontery. A.M. 3107. Jehoshaphat had formed an alliance with Ahab; and at the end B.C. 897. of three years from the treaty which the king of Israel had made Alliance of with Benhadad, (during which the transaction just recounted took Jehoshaphat
bat place, the king of Judah went down to see him, and finding him
pronounces the ruin of