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No. II. 










FEW words of introduction are needed to the following at- 
tempt to depict more vividly the real state and fortunes of 
the Hebrew people under their native kings. The documents 
are in the hands of us all ; but, owing to their scattered na- 
ture, it is a very laborious task to combine them into a single 
point of. view, and deduce from meagre notices anything like 
an historical representation. 

A political history of the Hebrews is no doubt primarily to 
be here expected ; but to omit on that account the narrative 
of their religious concerns, would be as absurd as to take no 
notice of Poetry, Art, and Philosophy in a history of Greece. 
The whole value of Hebrew history to us turns upon the He- 
brew religion. No reader must therefore be surprized to find 
the writer dilate on solemn and profound topics, which would 
generally be out of place in ordinary history. On the other 
hand, as we have to deal with human fortunes, guaranteed to 
us by the evidence of documents which bear plentiful marks 
of the human mind and hand, we cannot dispense with a free 
and full criticism of these. And in criticizing, we have no 
choice but to proceed by those laws of thought and of reason- 
ing, which in all the sciences have now received currency. 
We advance from the known towards the unknown. We as- 
sume that human nature is like itself; and interpret the men 
of early ages by our more intimate knowledge of contem- 
porary and recent times, yet making allowance for the differ- 
ence of circumstances. Much more do we believe that GOD 
is always like himself, and that whatever are his moral attri- 


butes now and his consequent judgment of human conduct, 
such were they then and at all times. Nor ought we to ques- 
tion that the relations between the divine and the human 
mind are still substantially the same as ever, until we find 
this obvious presumption utterly to fail in accounting for the 
facts presented to our examination. "We explain all the phae- 
nomena by known causes, in preference 1 to inventing unknown 
ones ; and when one anomaly after another is found gradually 
to be cleared up by patient research and a world of reality to 
evolve itself before the mind, fresh confirmation is added to 
the grand principles of modern philosophy, which experience 
proves alone to lead to self-consistent, harmonious results. 

Cautious reasoners may need to be reminded, that although 
the mind of the Jews, as that of all nations, was liable to pro- 
duce legends and mythi, under circumstances conducive to 
these, yet the portion of history with which we are here con- 
cerned has little properly mythical in it. We are engaged 
with an epoch, all the great outlines of which were preserved 
by the prose chronicling of contemporaries. From king 
David downwards, court-annals were kept, sometimes perhaps 
very dry and scanty, yet not the less authentic. With these 
were combined occasionally the writings of prophets, or the 
traditions of prophetical schools. Where the originals have 
perished, we have nevertheless relics of them in the books 
which are now called Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The 
actual compilation of the books of Samuel was probably 
earlier than that of " Kings," but we do not know the exact 
date. The " Kings," to judge by their closing words, were 

1 The above has been falsely interpreted, as though I started from the as- 
sumption that "no evidence can prove a Miracle." This is not a proposition 
of any practical value to me. I regard it as either a Truism or a Falsehood 
according to the definition of the word Miracle. I merely hold, that the 
stranger the alleged event, the more cogent is the evidence to be demanded. 
The Uniformity of Nature is not with me a primitive axiom, but a result gra- 
dually won. It does not supersede, for it is built wpon^ historical criticism and 
cumulative experience. 


compiled in the Babylonian exile. The Chronicles are much 
later, and in an imperfect genealogy bring down the line of 
Jeconiah (who was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar) to a 
very low period of time 1 . Account must be taken of all such 
facts in balancing authorities ; and when we find a wide dif- 
ference of spirit between the two historians in treating the 
same subject, a difference conformable to the different aeras 
in which they write, the great caution with which the later 
authority must be used will become evident. But on all such 
matters, the following pages will speak best for themselves in 

A thoughtful and conscientious reader will probably meet 
here many things which have before passed across his mind, 
but have been rejected under the idea, that if they were true, 
they would surely be well known to professed divines. But 
let him be assured, there is not the same apathy and igno- 
rance concerning the Old Testament, in the German, as in 
the English Universities. If the Hebrew history has hitherto 
been nearly as a sealed book to us, it is because all the acade- 
mical and clerical teachers of it are compelled to sign Thirty- 
nine Articles of Religion before assuming their office. It is 
not easy to conceive how little we might know of Greek his- 
tory, if, from the revival of Greek studies, test-articles had 
been imposed with a view to perpetuate the ideas of it current 
in the fifteenth century; but it is very easy to assure our- 
selves that neither Thirlwall nor Grote could have produced 
their valuable works under such a restriction. Until the laity 
strike off these fetters from the clergy, it is mere hypocrisy in 
them to defer to a clergyman's authority in any theological 
question of first-rate importance. We dictate to the clergy 
from their early youth what they are to believe, and thereby 
deprive them of the power of bearing independent testimony 

1 1 Ckron. iii. 17-24 ; Jeconiah, father of Pedaiah, father of Zerubbabel, 
father of Hananiah, father of Pelatiah [a chasm], father of Shechaniah, father 
of Shemaiah, father of Neariah, father of Elioenai, father of Hodaiah. 


to it in their mature years. Moreover, so has the study of 
the Bible been crippled by the classical and mathematical sy- 
stem, that in this country little interest has been felt in our 
subject ; and the Biblical critic is perpetually driven to the 
learned Germans for aid. 

One sentiment the writer desires to express most empha- 
tically. True Religion consists in elevated notions of God, 
right affections and a pure conscience towards Him, but cer- 
tainly not in prostrating the mind to a system of dogmatic 
History. Those who call this religion are (in the writer's 
belief) as much in the dark as those who place it in magical 
sacraments and outward purifications. But while utterly re- 
nouncing both these false and injurious representations, he 
desires his book to carry on its front his most intense convic- 
tion, that pure and undefiled religion is the noblest, the most 
blessed, the most valuable of all God's countless gifts ; that a 
heart to fear and love Him is a possession sweeter than dig- 
nities and loftier than talents ; and that although the outward 
Form of truths held sacred by good men is destined to be re- 
modelled by the progress of knowledge, yet in their deeper 
essence there is a Spirit which will live more energetically 
with the growth of all that is most precious and glorious in 

May, 1847. 


I WISH it were in my power to profess much improvement in 
this edition. To effect anything worth naming would need 
extensive research, for which I certainly have not the time, 
and probably have not the faculties. Reviewers moreover 
have given me scarcely any help. With one exception, all the 
reviews- which I have seen proceed from principles of criticism 
with which I have nothing in common ; and nearly all spend 
their strength in misrepresenting and slandering my views, 
my arguments and my sentiments. 

Most of them imagine that they defend their own theory 
by imputing "inconsistency" to mine, nor is any procedure 
easier. A reviewer has merely to mistake one's meaning, put 
forward his own bad argument in place of the author's, or 
confound the author with another man ; and the thing is 
done ; often without conscious dishonesty. The reader will 
in part be able to judge, whether my censors are in fact honest. 
Where it is a great convenience not to understand too well, 
mistakes are much commoner than with men of average in- 
telligence they ought to be ; and they are also made far oftener 
by anonymous writers than by those who put their names to 
their books. 

For the sake however of those who wish to understand me, 
I here add a few generalities, which could not well find a 
place in notes. 

I. I do not profess this book to be a history of Hebrew 
Criticism in modern times. I get what help I can from all 
likely quarters ; but I often do not know, and do not care to 


know, who first originated this or that view. Much less do I 
pretend to an exhaustive German erudition : the duty of a 
historian seems to me widely different. In a question of mere 
language, we of course consult the ablest linguists. The best 
translation of the whole Bible to which I have access, is that 
of De Wette ; but in the Psalms and Prophets I often use 
Ewald, who has had the advantage of De Wette' s labours, and 
has studied the forms of Hebrew poetry as no man before 
him. De Wette moreover, in his commentary on the Psalms, 
gives little help to the chronology, into which Ewald has en- 
tered with much scientific zeal. In Isaiah I desired to study 
Gesenius ; but his work was out of print, and I could not get 
it. I believe that Hitzig is a worthy successor to Gesenius, 
and I often consulted him both in Isaiah and in the minor 
prophets. In geography I have used Winer, and occasionally 
Kitto's Cyclopaedia, besides other commoner sources, with 
Hughes' s maps, (published by the D. U. K. Society,) and the 
embossed map of Palestine published by Dobbs and Bailey. 

I have been twitted as making Ewald my " magnus Apollo" 
because I follow the opinion of all Europe that he is a very 
eminent oriental scholar: but it is quite false, that in any 
questions, except those which must be decided by linguistic 
accomplishment, I yield to him any peculiar deference ; nor 
even in such, have I always followed him. As far as I have 
any right to an opinion, it is, that De Wette, by his critical 
work on the Chronicles, has contributed far more to a true 
knowledge of the history, than all Ewald's erudite and taste- 
ful discrimination of language and style. 

I have also been asked triumphantly, why I do not refute 
Hengstenberg, as if to imply that I have only a onesided 
knowledge of the subject. The plain truth is, that I tried 
to read Hengstenberg, having bought his volumes for the 
purpose, and found him utterly unsatisfactory on every 
point of practical interest. If I fill my pages with refutations 
of all that has been said erroneously, I shall have to write six 


volumes for one ; my book will be very tedious, and be justly 
left unread. At the same time I regard my exposure of the 
untruthfulness of the Chronicles to be a sufficient refutation 
of Hengstenberg's whole theory, which is fundamentally that 
of the Beformers, furbished up for modern Germany : and I 
have no respect for any man's love of truth, who, being duly 
cognizant of the facts, attempts by subtlety to evade meeting 
this controversy ; which is neither mystical nor philosophical, 
but within the reach of ordinary faculties. I will not, to 
please hostile critics, muddle the argument by making it one 
of recondite learning, in which neither I nor my readers are 
strong. I try to lay before the reader reasons from which he 
can judge for himself. The only authorities lie in a small 
compass, and are in his hands, except in so far as translation 
may be imperfect. I have endeavoured to adhere to the rule 
of quoting no critics, except for linguistic or geographical 
information ; which we must necessarily take at second hand. 

II. Several of my reviewers are anxious to impose on me 
the law of not criticizing and discriminating ancient documents 
or human characters. I am to believe either all or nothing. 
I am to reverence all that is written, or reprobate all. I am 
not to mingle praise and blame \ to recognize that which was 
peculiarly good and noble, and at the same time to censure 
that which is weak, credulous, base or unjust. I quite under- 
stand that my opponents wish me to vent promiscuous blame; 
but I will not become unjust in order to gratify them. I in- 
sist on my right to commend and honour whatever I sincerely 
admire, and to bestow praise by a comparison of the Jews 
with other nations of antiquity, without prejudice to my 
equal right to weigh and examine them by that juster standard 
which the modern world, not without the instrumentality of 
the noblest Hebrew minds, has attained. 

A censor who calls me inconsistent for esteeming Joel and 
Isaiah, but disesteeming the visions of Ezekiel and the sacer- 
dotal fictions of the Chronicles ; or for rejoicing in Isaiah's 


blessing on Egypt and Assyria, and regretting his less gene- 
rous tone towards Tyre ; for approving Joel's meekness, and 
shuddering at Elisha's ferocity; simply shows his own want 
of good sense. Hitherto, no known nation has possessed 
pure truth or pure goodness. ENGLAND sends out to the 
heathen a deeper religion than that of Isaiah, and with it, 
broader conceptions of human duty and right : but she also 
sends brandy, and opium, and cannon-shot, and " infidelity," 
and deadly vices and diseases. Shall we disbelieve this, be- 
cause ' ' out of the same fountain there cannot flow both salt 
water and fresh" ? If in England mixed influences act, was 
the same thing impossible in Judsea ? 

III. In opposing and exposing notions which other people 
hold sacred, it is perfectly impossible to please them as to the 
mode. They always persuade themselves that it is the mode 
which they dislike, but it is really the substance of the thing. 
Speak in plain simple true words, and it is called coarse, rude, 
unfeeling, irreverent ; speak by gentle allusion, or say only 
half of what you might say, and it is called a sarcasm or a 
sneer, and is probably derided also as tame and weak. Deal 
with the argument gravely and strongly, and you are thought 
overbearing and hard; treat it lightly, (if it seem to be light 
in itself,) and you are called flippant, contemptuous, superfi- 
cial. I very much regret this universal tendency of idolaters 
to defend themselves by arbitrary querulousness ; for they 
hereby tend to produce total want of sympathy with their 
weakness. There is such an offence as unfeeling flippancy, 
which sees only evil and is blind to good. I desire to avoid 
it. I would not wilfully give needless pain in refuting error, 
any more than would a humane surgeon in cutting off a limb. 
But the work of refuting error is strictly necessary, if truth 
is to be advanced. The negative side of every question is as 
essential to truth as the shadows in a picture : and whatever 
outcry people make against " negative teaching," it is certain 
that the apostles and prophets, whom they admire, were em- 


phatically idol-breakers in their own day, and often very harsh 
ones. I cannot submit to treat as sacred that which I discern 
to be a hurtful superstition ; nor do I choose to reason elabo- 
rately against it, if it rests on no reasons at all, or utterly 
absurd ones. If anybody is wounded by plain and true state- 
ments, I am sorry for his pain, but I cannot help it. Let him 
learn to love Truth, as such, better than his own opinions; 
and his soreness will rapidly lessen. My opponents may fitly 
claim of me to take a generous view of their arguments and 
sentiments; to esteem and praise cordially all that I feel to 
be good and noble ; to make allowances for human weakness 
and for the times : but they have no right to claim of me to 
withhold any argument or pointed phrase adapted to carry 
conviction that their theory is unsound. Yet so perverse are 
some of them, that my appreciation of that which is good in 
their system seems to exasperate them most of all. The 
North British Review calls it " a combination of kissing and 
smiting under the fifth rib," with other inflammatory phrase- 
ology. (No. 35, pp. 150, 151.) Such language might be 
natural if he thought my praise to be hypocrisy, but not 

IV. The same reviewer, a few lines above, has dared to say, 
that in my view " the Priests and Levites, like every other cle- 
rical body, have power and pelf for their aim, to attain which 
they do not scruple to hoodwink tender kings by inventing ora- 
cles, etc." But what is the fact ? Against the priests of Judah 
collectively I have brought no bill of indictment, much less 
against clerical bodies generally. I know that " power and 
pelf" have great weight with every corporation of men, whe- 
ther called religious or secular. But it is utterly false that I 
have represented priesthoods in general as more mercenary 
than other corporations, or the Jewish priesthood as absorbed 
in power and pelf, and destitute of nobler aims and influences. 
When detailing an instance of peculation, which the books 
themselves furnish, I have gladly turned to expatiate on a pious 


priest, Joel ; and altogether my severest blame has been ex- 
tremely moderate, compared with that which is blurted out 
by those whom my censors esteem infallible. I have not 
called the priests covetous liars, as Jeremiah did ; nor vomit- 
ing drunkards, as Isaiah did; nor troops of murderers, as 
Hosea did; nor hypocrites, vipers and whited sepulchres, as 
Jesus did. My reviewer does not appear very sincere in his 
professed belief of the verbal plenary inspiration, when he im- 
putes it as offensive in me to believe a part of the evil which 
his sacred authorities depose. 

The same reviewer informs his readers, that according to 
me " the prophets too often lied and forged oracles to impose 
upon their own people." (No. 35, p. 151.) The audacity of 
this Christian advocate is surprizing. Any reader of the fol- 
lowing pages may easily satisfy himself that the statement is 
simply false. Fanaticism I undoubtedly impute 1 to many of 
the prophets. This I hold to be inevitable, by the nature of 
man, in his instinctive and earlier stage of religious develop- 
ment : indeed to attain high and pure religious enthusiasm, 
while avoiding fanaticism, is to this day arduous and rare. 
There was fanaticism in many of the early Christians, and 
many of the Reformers. Calvin was fanatical in burning 
Servetus : George Fox and James Naylor were fanatical : so 
perhaps was Cato in some respects ; yet he was the noblest 
and best statesman in Home. Just in proportion as the pro- 
phets were destitute of intellectual cultivation and enlarged 
knowledge, it was hard for them to win ardent religious con- 
viction and at the same time shun fanaticism : but wilful and 
conscious forgery I have not 2 imputed to one of the prophets, 
canonical or uncanonical. 

1 Here again the Jewish records go far beyond me ; for they impute lying 
spirits sent by Jehovah himself into the prophets by the hundred. And my 
North British Reviewer pretends to believe the infallibility of this narrative. 

2 In one place, where I feared misinterpretation, I sedulously guarded against 
it by a note, (p. 300 of first edition,) : in spite of which, this writer garbles me. 
I have in consequence now slightly changed a phrase of the text. But against 
such wilfulness one has no defence. 


V. The British Quarterly (vol. viii. p. 58) announces that 
I represent " the ceremonialism and sacerdotalism of the books 
of Moses to have been invented at a stroke, and its main fea- 
tures suddenly imposed." On the contrary, I trace the cere- 
monial and priesthood from Eli and Hophni and Phineas and 
Ahimelech. I show it repressed under Saul, magnified under 
Solomon, growing socially influential under Asa and Jehosha- 
phat, rising to power with Jehoiada, struggling hard against 
Jehoash and Amaziah, until, in conjunction with great prophets, 
it triumphs under Hezekiah. I show it next undergoing mar- 
tyrdom from Manasseh and Amon, and finally by organic and 
vital reaction establishing under Josiah a violent supremacy 
after 500 years of growth. Yet my reviewer asserts that I 
hold the ceremonialism and sacerdotalism to have been in- 
vented at a stroke ! Does the use of such weapons indicate, 
that he feels his cause to be strong ? Not the system only, 
but the books, I represent to have been a gradual product, 
and have recognized their partial existence at least as early as 
Jehoiada. If by the " main features" of the law, the reviewer 
means the enforcement of it by the sword, this, whenever it 
came, must almost of necessity be sudden. 

The same reviewer (pp. 45, 46,) imputes to me, that I am 
trying to shut God out of the history. His dogma virtually 
is : " Where no miracle is, there God does not govern : " so 
that by his own profession he himself shuts God out of nearly 
all history and all human life, except that of Judsea. But I 
hold God to be verily present, now and ever ; to be a true 
Governor of all the world, and not of Judsea only, by great 
moral laws, now and then and always ; and I abhor that de- 
secration of human life, which my reviewer puts forward as a 
test of religiousness. 

VI. It is impossible to treat of every topic in one book ; and 
there are topics too deep and sacred to mingle with the tones 
of controversy. What is my belief concerning INSPIRATION, 
(a word which I have very seldom used at all, and as far as 



I know, only concessively,) the North British Reviewer (No. 
35, p. 140) might have learned from a book of mine, entitled 
' The Soul/ He has chosen to ignore that, and to infer my 
opinions from those of other men, to whose " school" it is his 
pleasure to refer me. I shall here barely say, that I see three 
main interpretations or uses of the word inspiration. Accord- 
ing to the first, it is an Extraordinary influence peculiar to a few 
persons, as to prophets and apostles. According to the second, 
it is an Ordinary influence of the Divine Spirit on the hearts of 
men, which quickens and strengthens their moral and spiri- 
tual powers, and is accessible to all (in a certain stage of deve- 
lopement) in some proportion to their own faithfulness. The 
third view teaches that Genius and Inspiration are two names 
for one thing, and perhaps goes so far as to make Inspiration 
independent of moral effort, and commensurate with the pri- 
mitive organization of the brain. Christians for the most part 
hold the two first conceptions, though they generally call the 
second Spiritual Influence, not Inspiration : the third sense 
seems to be common in the Old Testament. It so happens 
that the second is the only inspiration which I hold. I have 
never used the word Inspiration concerning Genius. Yet the 
North British Reviewer perversely imputes to me a simulta- 
neous asserting of the two extreme views, neither of which I 
hold ; and insinuates 1 against me a dishonesty which he has 
not chosen to affirm. 

VII. It is quite untrue that I represent events and institu- 
tions to be rightfully dated from the time of their first his- 
torical mention. We need to distinguish between Testimony 
and Inference. Earlier than the evidence of Testimony can 
possibly reach, there is always a sphere for that of Inference ; a 
circumstance which I have never forgotten. But it is conve- 

1 No. 35, p. 141. " We will not be uncandid enough to charge the adherents 
of this theory [Parker, Newman and Greg] with intentional abuse of language, 
etc., etc. Mr. GHreg especially is absolved from any such charge, as lie applies 
the word Inspiration to Grenius somewhat reluctantly." 


nient to some reasoners to obscure the fact, that the direct 
evidence of Testimony in various matters carries us but a 
little way back ; and I regard it as not useless to mark sharply 
in all cases where Testimony begins. Any one who reads 
how I have spoken of the first mention of the public Sabbath 
under Jehoiada, and of the Passover under Hezekiah, may see 
that I do not regard institutions necessarily to have had their 
origin at their first mention; though they generally have 
then received some new developement, or some new formal 

Equally untrue is it, that I treat as " insurmountable diffi- 
culties" in Hebrew narrative, what I should readily have 
believed in the records of any other nation, or that I expect 
all the history of man to be devoid of what is surprizing and 
incalculable. When strange facts have firstrate attestation, 
very many wonderful things may be believed : but if we can- 
not ascertain that the writers had full means of knowing, we 
of necessity reason from probabilities. Concerning early his- 
tory, differences of opinion among good and able men exist 
and will exist. We are not agreed about king Agamemnon : is 
it wonderful that we differ about king Saul ? But for this 
very reason it is an abomination to convert such controversies 
into matter of RELIGION. 

I am really amazed that men who perfectly well know that 
modern historians believe none of the miracles told by He- 
rodotus, Livy, Dion Cassius, have the face to pretend that 
we are more incredulous as to Jewish than as to Greek and 
Roman history. 

VIII. The British Quarterly has informed the public that 
this book of mine is part of a great conspiracy, organized by 
one presiding mind, and furnished with ample funds. Of the 
union of funds to circulate what men sincerely believe, the 
British Quarterly cannot surely disapprove : perhaps such 
was its own origin ; its accomplished Editor is certainly a pre- 
siding mind. To call such a union " a conspiracy," is the Ian- 


guage of despots, not of men who love freedom and equality. 
However; the fact is, that this book was entirely printed 
before Mr. Chapman was thought of as a Publisher ; his con- 
nection with it was only accidental, and the reviewer's state- 
ment is a fiction of his own imagination. That the pouring 
forth of opinion which he calls conspiracy, is not from one 
presiding mind, its internal individuality may prove. It is a 
far more formidable thing to his idols : for it proceeds from 
minds that have little in common, except cultivation, freedom, 
and an insatiable aspiration for Truth and Justice, as es- 
sential conditions for any constant Love, or any unfanatical 





Land of Israel. The Jordan and the Eastern Tribes. The 
Northern Tribes. The Central Tribes. The Southern Tribes. 
Mosaic Agriculturalism. The Levites. Polygamy. The 
Neighbouring nations 1 



The Philistines. Hebrew monotheism. Administration of Sa- 
muel. Early Hebrew psalmody. Exterior marks of the Pro- 
phet. Modes of divination. Foreign dangers of Israel. 
Appointment of Saul. Romantic Philistine campaign. Am- 
monite inroad. Enmity with Amalek. Massacre of the Ama- 
lekites. David, anointed by Samuel. David, Saul's armour- 
bearer. David, Saul's son-in-law. David, a freebooter. David 
with Achish of Gath. David reinforced from Israel. David's 
return to Ziklag. Battle of Mount Gilboa. ... 21 





David, king in Hebron. Battle near Gibeon. Murder of Abner. 
Jerusalem. Capture of Jerusalem. The ark conveyed to 
Jerusalem. State of Hebrew industry. Conquest of Moab. 
First war with the Zobahites. Conquest of Edom. Prosperity 
of David. Ammonite war. Destruction of the Ammonites. 
Career of Absalom. Death of Absalom. Disgrace of Mephi- 
bosheth. Immolation of Saul's descendants. The pestilence. 
Conspiracy of Adonijah. Death of David 63 



Foreign commotions. Political executions. Solomon's Trade by 
the Red Sea. Trade over the Syrian Desart. Visit of the 
Queen of Sheba. Gold vessels of the Temple. Building of the 
Temple. Bondmen in Israel. The Temple worship. The De- 
calogue. Dowry of an Egyptian princess. Solomon's idolatry. 
Hostilities against Solomon. Death of Solomon. Chronology 
of the Kings. Chronological table 104 


B.C. 955-904. 

Division of the Monarchy. Calves of Dan and Bethel. Jero- 
boam's neglect of Levites. Invasion by Shishak. Later years 
of Rehoboam. Massacre of the house of Jeroboam. Power of 
Damascus. War of Baasha and Asa. Asa's later reign. 
Massacre of the house of Baasha . 137 



THE HOUSE OF OMEI, B.C. 904-864. 


Building of Samaria. Phoenician worship in Israel. Miracles of 
Elijah. Syrian chariot warfare. Syrian campaigns west of 
Jordan. Benhadad at Eamoth Gilead. Greatness of Jehosha- 
phat. Joint war of Ahab and Jehoshaphat. Doctrine of lying 
spirits. Combined war against Moab. Siege of Samaria. 
Revolt of the Edomites. Second battle at Ramoth. Naboth's 
vineyard. Massacres of Jehu. Massacre by Athaliah 158 



Priests and Levites in Jerusalem. Revolution conducted by Je- 
hoiada. Regency of Jehoiada. Reigns of Jehu and his son. 
Dispersion of Judah and Israel. Repairs of the Temple. 
Prophecy of Joel. Peace is bought of Hazael. Invasion of 
Idumsea. Decline of Damascus. Victorious career of Jero- 
boam II. Internal State of Israel. Prophecy of Amos. 
Uzziah's long prophecy. Internal state of Judaea. Genealogies 
of the High Priests JSSb- / &0 


B.C. 762-721. 

City of Nineveh. New parties in Israel. Disorganization of 
Israel. Zechariah's prophecy. League against Judsea. Suf- 
ferings of Judah. Isaiah encourages Ahaz. Fall of Da- 
mascus. Religious character of Ahaz. Sargon and the Philis- 
tines. First invasion of Shalmaneser. Revolt of Judah and 
of Ephraim. Final transplanting of Israel. Anticipations of 
Isaiah and Micah. Decline of prophecy in Israel. Rough 
dates of certain prophecies 223 



B.C. 721-609. 


Assyrian siege of Tyre. Hezekiah's passover. Invasion by Sen- 
nacherib. Ethiopian embassy. Submission of Hezekiah. 
New complication of affairs. Renewal of hostilities. Disasters 
of Sennacherib. Hezekiah's illness. Isaiah's prophecy con- 
cerning Egypt. Zenith of Hebrew prophecy. Character of 
Manasseh. Paganism and persecution. State of the Assyrian 
power. Rise of scholastic learning. Scythian irruption into 
Media. Rise of the Chaldees. Final ruin of Nineveh. Re- 
newal of prophecy. Josiah's reform. Recency of Deute- 
ronomy. Peculiarities of Deuteronomy. The Pentateuch a 
gradual growth. Uncritical proceedings. False prophets in 
Judsea. Contemporary Egyptian affairs. Battle near Megiddon 256 



Popular election from the Dynasty. Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim. 
Defeat of Necho at Carchemish. Jeremiah's Political Prophecies. 
Babylonian invasions. First deportation of Jews to Babylon. 
Rebellion of Zedekiah. Destruction of Jerusalem. Gedaliah 
the Babylonian Satrap. Prophecies against Egypt. Later 
School of Prophecy. Function of the Jewish Nation 310 






FEW nations which have put forth a wide and enduring 
influence upon others, proclaim themselves to have been in- 
digenous 1 on the land of their celebrity. Tradition for the 
most part points back to a time at which they dispossessed 
earlier inhabitants, who, as hereditary enemies, are sure to 
be drawn in unfavourable colours, whether as unfaithful allies, 
brutish savages, ferocious giants, or again, as impure, heretical, 
or atheistical unbelievers. Where the country consists of ex- 
tensive plains, with no frontier difficult to pass, its older occu- 
pants more readily migrate under the pressure of an enemy, 
and the whole nation may really disappear. But in this case, 
the resistance is generally less lingering and the traditions of 
wars vaguer. In a hilly or mountainous country, on the 
contrary, the invaders seldom succeed in doing more than 
driving the former possessors of the soil into their natural fast- 
nesses ; where, after long maintaining themselves in indepen- 
dence, nothing is commoner than that they should finally be 

1 The great civilized nations, which, from the absence of all earlier traditions, 
we vaguely name indigenous, are principally the Egyptians, the Indians, and the 
Chinese. What Strabo says of India might as truly be said of all, that they 
have neither received nor sent out colonies ; though Indians and Chinese emigrate 
largely as individuals. Masses so great have inevitably affected the barbarous 
tribes around them ; yet their external influence has been small in proportion to 
their means. China has subdued Mongolia, only by being subdued. 



blended with the victorious nation, and having adopted its man- 
ners, its religion, its tongue, should boast of its triumphs as 
their own, and moralize over the utter extirpation of the tribes 
whose lineal descendants they themselves are. 

Many of these phenomena may be observed in the history 
of the Hebrew nation, whose origin was 1 referred to their great 
ancestor Abraham, a Chaldee by birth and language, and pro- 
genitor not only of Israel but of the Hagarenes and Edomites ; 
while from Lot, his nephew and associate, were derived the 
contiguous nations of Ammon and Moab. But the history of 
the Israelites is distinguished from that of their neighbours 
by their early migration to Egypt and their eventful return ; 
in the course of which an entirely new impress is supposed to 
have been left upon them under the agency of Moses, as the 
peculiar people of JEHOVAH. The tongue of Canaan or of 
Chaldsea had been carried with them to Egypt ; but in that 
country they were reduced to miserable bond-slaves, so mixed 
up with the Egyptian population, that even in birth their 
infants were liable to be murdered by their oppressors. If 
this account can be at all trusted, it is difficult to avoid the 
inference, that, like other slave populations, they lost their own 
language, and therefore brought back with them into Canaan 
the Egyptian tongue 2 . Be this as it may, at any rate the 
invaders either kept or in course of time gained a Canaan- 
itish speech, not untinctured by Egyptian words. The other 
Canaanites named them Hebrews ; a word which the Alex- 
andrine translators of Genesis seem rightly to connect with 
the idea of being or coming across a river s ; nor is it un- 

1 I decline the task of discussing these genealogies minutely. They may be 
true : yet no stress is to be laid upon them, since from the nature of the case 
they cannot be proved. The details concerning Lot's incest are so evidently an 
invention of national enmity, as to throw some discredit on the rest of the 

2 This opinion is maintained by the Rev. Dr. Giles in his Hebrew Records, 
p. 173. The conclusion may be reasonably doubted by any who regard the 
tale of Hebrew bondage in Egypt to be much exaggerated in the details of the 
book of Exodus ; yet to balance the probabilities is to me exceedingly hard. 

3 Gn. xiv. 13, the Hebrew is rendered rbv trepdr^v. The Hebrew and 
Arabic root "Eber, whence the national name "Ebri (Hebrew) comes, means, 
to cross or to be across a river. In the later geography of Palestine the east 
bank of Jordan was called ^ irepoto, which significantly confirms the belief that 
the people of Moses, when settled on that district, were called for the same 
reason Hebrews by their western neighbours. Those who suppose Abraham 
to have been palled a Hebrew, as the book of Q-enesis represents, must interpret 
the word of his having crossed the Euphrates : but this was not a present visible 


reasonable to believe that they first obtained this name, when 
their proper seat was conceived of by the Canaanites as on 
the east of Jordan. As their numbers were by no means 
such as to be able to occupy the country on both banks, they 
had no sooner obtained an adequate settlement in its various 
parts, than peaceful tendencies began to prevail over the aver- 
sion which religion excited in at least the principal leaders 
of Israel ; and coalitions, which were generally reprobated by 
a distant posterity, arose between the armies of Jehovah and 
the families of Canaan. 

The land over the fairest parts of which they had spread 
themselves, was critically situated in the ancient world, and 
had remarkable peculiarities of its own. It was the highway 
for armies between Egypt and all the great countries of 
Western Asia ; a fact, the importance of which was not felt 
in the earlier stages of Hebrew history, but which, from the 
time that Assyria rose into power, mainly influenced the whole 
external'destiny of the nation. The land itself is naturally 
very deficient in facilities for general communication, and in 
any well-marked frontier ; and except when grasped in some 
more widely-spread dominion, it appears calculated to foster 
numerous small principalities or republics. The sea-coast on 
its western side runs nearly northward, though inclining to 
the east : two sets of highlands range north and south, be- 
tween which is the valley of the river Jordan, a very remark- 
able depression. The streams run off from both sides of the 
western highlands, into the sea and into the Jordan, but are 
nowhere navigable nor of any magnitude. Nor did the coast 
afford many harbours able to accommodate even the little 
vessels of early navigation, until it reached the immediate 
neighbourhood of the Phoenicians, whose experience taught 
them beyond what point they must not covet its possession. 
The district theoretically assigned to the tribe of Asher 1 runs 
north as far as Sidon, including Tyre with all its villages ; 
but in fact neither Zebulon nor Asher seems ever to have 
possessed even the important city and harbour of Accho 

fact, to impress the people's imagination, and lead to a name. The Jewish 
notion that Abraham specifically was so called from his distant ancestor Heber, 
merely shows how undiscriminating in these matters is popular opinion. 

1 The words in Gen. xlix. 13 greatly need elucidation : " Zebulon shall be a 
haven for ships, and his border shall be unto Zidon." It is said that " Zidon" 
means Phoenicia ; but if this is admissible, the words still are far more appro- 
priate to Asher. 

B 2 


(Ptolema'is or Acre), south of which, the bay of Accho, bounded 
by Carmel, belonged to Zebulon. Yet it is probable that the 
Tyrians did not grudge to them either the mainland or the 
havenless shore, but were satisfied to maintain themselves 
in fortified sea-ports, and keep up peaceful relations with the 
agricultural Asherites. The sea-coast allotted to Dan and 
Simeon, from Joppa southward, was yet to be conquered, 
though maritime Danites are once alluded to (Judges v. 17) ; 
so that with trifling exception the Israelitish nation was shut 
up on to the continent. 

The Jordan, which gives to Canaan so peculiar a character, 
might have seemed the natural centre of the whole country ; 
since the warmth and fertility of its well-watered basin, and 
the ease of keeping up communication along it, appear to award 
its possession to a single power, and to give to that power 
large home-resources. But in fact it rather separated than 
united the children of Israel. The tribes to whom its eastern 
side was conceded found the open highlands very favourable 
to pasturage ; and having brought with them out of Egypt 
the habits of shepherds, would not renounce that independent, 
roving and marauding life to become laborious tillers of fertile 
plains, whose crops must always be exposed to the inroads of 
their pastoral neighbours. A sharp line of division, which 
affected the whole subsequent history, was thus drawn between 
the western agriculturists and the eastern or grazier tribes of 
Israel. These were, the Reubenites 011 the south ; the Gad- 
ites above them ; and, still more to the north, the half- tribe 
of Manasseh, which, though warlike and adventurous, seldom 
took any eager interest in the welfare of Israel at large. Our 
narratives ascribe their easy and complete possession of their 
land to the fact that Israel entered Canaan from that side, 
and by united force conquered Sihon king of Heshbon and 
Og king of Bashan. Indeed, from a knowledge of the later 
history alone, a speculator might imagine that all Israel had 
resided or roved for some generations on the land of the 
eastern tribes ; and that when their numbers increased, had 
gradually crossed the Jordan in parties, with far inferior force 
to that which had overrun the eastern shore. 

Another physical circumstance is not to be neglected, as 
probably affecting the dwellers on the banks of the Jordan, 
little as we could expect it to be understood or distinctly 
noticed in early times. Although the Jordan flows from the 


low grounds of Mount Hermon, the lofty peak which termi- 
nates Anti-Libanus on the south, it descends so rapidly, 
that, when it reaches the small lake called by the Jews " the 
Waters of Merom" (Samachonitis, Bahr el Huleli), it is 
already on the level of the Mediterranean Sea ; and the lake 
of Gennesareth, which next receives it, is now known to be 
about 330 feet below that level. Out of the latter lake it 
issues with a most violent course, precipitating itself along 
what is more peculiarly called the basin of the Jordan (Arab. 
El Ghor, the hollow), by so steep a slope, that the surface of 
the Dead Sea, in which it is swallowed up, has been estimated 
by the latest inquiries as nearly 1000 feet lower than that of 
the lake of Gennesareth. If instead of 1312 feet below the 
Mediterranean, we adopt the earlier and more moderate com- 
putation of 600, we can still have no doubt that the Indian 
heat of the valley is caused by this singular depression. In 
the flood season ("the first month," 1 Chron. xii. 15) the 
Jordan appears ordinarily to have overflowed its banks, adding 
fertility to the soil, but not health to the climate. On the 
plain of Jericho, which lies west of the Jordan, at the head of 
the Dead Sea, the palm-groves grew with an exuberance ce- 
lebrated by the ancients ; and the oppressive, often-steaming 
atmosphere of the entire district, whatever vigour it may 
impart to certain vegetation, seems to be exactly that in which 
the human frame becomes unstrung. The natives of such a 
dell were not likely to keep up a superiority over the inhabi- 
tants of the table-land, wj^ich on the western side ranges 
at two thousand feet and upwards above the Mediterranean, 
without considering its hills; and the actual rulerS of the 
country appear at every time to have dwelt on the higher 

A little below the lake of Gennesareth, the Jordan receives 
from the east the waters of the Jarmuk 1 (Hieromax, Sheriat 
el Mandhur] , which runs down in numerous branches from the 
elevated country of Hauran, and passes near the very ancient 
city Ashtaroth Karnaim. There was on this side no frontier 
to separate the Manassites from their neighbours. Close at 

1 Yarmulc appears like a modern corruption of Hieromax ; yet as max has 
no Greek meaning, and Tar (river) is an old Hebrew or Egyptian term (as in 
Jordan?), it is at least as possible that YarmuJc is the old name, and Hieromax 
an attempt to reduce it to Hellenism. The name, it is believed, is not found in 
the Hebrew books. 


hand lay Bashan, a rich grazing country north of the Jarnmk 
and east of the Jordan, which was free from the stony districts 
characterizing the upper Hauran, and must have been such a 
prize to pastoral tribes, that it would naturally often change 
its masters. The Hebrews held it to be a land of giants. 
Although the northern bank of the Jarmuk had been nominally 
Hebrew ever since the defeat of king Og, yet, after the many 
disasters of Israel, the sixty cities of Argob in Bashan (" fenced 
with high walls, gates and bars, besides unwalled towns a 
great many") might well need to be recaptured by Jair the 
Manassite. But the exploits of this hero are obscurely and 
enigmatically reported. According to the most probable in- 
terpretation, he won only twenty- three " small towns" in 
Bashan. We incidentally learn (1 Chron. ii. 23) that the 
Geshurites and Syrians afterwards recovered the towns of Jair 
and many others beside, " sixty cities" in all ; and (Josh, 
xiii. 13) that the people of Geshur and Maachath lived in 
friendly commixture with the Israelites, no doubt after alter- 
nate conquests and lingering struggles. The achievements of 
Jair, echoed down from distant times, took also another form, 
according to which he was a " Judge" of all Israel for twenty- 
two years, and gave to his thirty sons, who rode on thirty 
young asses, thirty cities in the land of Gilead 1 . The simplest 
general result of the various accounts would seem to be this : 
Gilead and southern Bashan were held firmly by Israel before 
they could permanently keep northern Bashan. After long 
contests a compromise took place with their Geshurite neigh- 
bours, which on the whole left the Maiiassites with a decided 

The land of the Hebrews west of the Jordan is narrow on 

1 The most recent, and perhaps also the most ancient, application of the name 
of Gilead (Djelaad), is to a mountain or table-land south of the river Jabbok, 
which falls into the Jordan many miles below the Jarmuk. But the word G-ilead 
in the Hebrew geography extended much further to the north, perhaps as far as 
the Jarmuk. In Joshua xiii. 25, 31, " all the cities of Grilead" are given to Gad, 
and " half G-ilead" to Manasseh. It is probable that the Manassite district was 
shared between two names, Bashan and (northern) Gilead. The apparent exten- 
sion of the name Argob in Deut. iii. to the whole country northward as far as 
the borders of Geshur and Maachath, is another perplexity. We may imagine 
the G-eshurites and Maachathites to have been a united people, who until a late 
time held nearly all Gaulonitis ; that Argob, or the kingdom of Og, reached not 
far north of the Jarmuk ; and that Bashan, in a large sense, comprised Gaulo- 
nitis and Argob together. But the village Argob was about fifteen miles west 
of Gerasa (on the northern bank of the Jabbok) : Euseb. apud Winer. 


the northern end, where the two tribes of Naphthali and 
Asher are depicted on a small territory, with Zebulon and 
Issachar to the south of them ; all in the later GALILEE, and 
therefore to the north of Carmel. This ridge, commencing 
from the sea at the southern point of the bay of Accho, runs 
at first south-east, having on its northern declivity the fine 
plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon), along whose slope the brook of 
Kishon falls, parallel to the mountain, and enters the bay of 
Accho. The line of Carmel at length bends due east, and 
terminates above Succoth, where it sees the mountains of 
Gilboa fronting it on the north, with the city of .Beth Shean 
(Scythopolis) at their feet, on the basin of the Jordan. The 
district of these four tribes was not called by the collective 
name of Galilee until after the return from Babylon ; and the 
" Gentile Galilee" of Isaiah was a smaller territory on the 
Phoenician frontier. From the earliest times a Gentile influ- 
ence pervaded this whole country. Few, if any, names are 
found in it of ancient holy seats connected with the wander- 
ings of the Hebrew patriarchs, or otherwise sacred; and 
(whether cause or effect) no strong zeal for the national reli- 
gion, either in its prophetical or its priestly development, 
came forth out of Galilee 1 . But it was in every external 
sense a most favoured country ; physically, if also mentally, 
the Bceotia of Palestine. " The Galilseans," says Josephus, 
" are warlike from infancy, and always numerous ; the land is 
all fat, and good for grazing, and planted with every sort of 
tree, so as by its exuberance to invite even the least indus- 
trious husbandman. At least it is all fully tilled, and no part 
of it is left idle. It has thick-set cities, and multitudes of 
flourishing villages, holding from 500 to 1000 inhabitants 
each. In short, though in size it is inferior to the Per sea 
[or the land beyond Jordan], yet it is superior in power, for 
it is entirely turned to service, and everywhere productive." 
Although in the earlier times it was naturally less peopled and 
less fully tilled, and a great change of population afterwards 
took place, we may safely abide by this general description as 
a clue to its earlier state. The rebellious disposition ascribed 
to the Galilseans was a necessary result of their bravery and 
love of independence. Satisfied with their own soil, they 
aspired at little beyond what it supplied, and made domestic 

1 This was also true of the eastern tribes, but when their country had been 
long heathenized, no peculiar reproach fell on it. 


independence their chief aim. The contiguity of Tyre on the 
north must undoubtedly have called out their agricultural 
industry, and greatly reconciled them to the foreigners with 
whom they were intermixed at home 1 . 

Yet the Galilsean Hebrews were twice, in very early times, 
put foremost in battle for the independence of Israel. The 
first danger was from a petty potentate, called by the high- 
sounding title, Jabin, king of Canaan* ; , more properly king 
of Hazor near the waters of Merom, whose military successes 
threatened with subjugation the whole country to the west 
of Jordan. He was defeated by Barak of Kadesh Naphthali, 
with the forces of Naphthali and Zebulon. The other tribes 
either held aloof in suspense and anxiety 3 , or were content 
with sending " princes" to Deborah as ambassadors, it would 
seem by way of promising succour. On the second occasion 
the Midianites were the foreign enemy, and Gideon the Ma- 
nassite was the Hebrew champion. It is remarkable that 
both contests took place on the broad slope of Jezreel, ever the 
great battle-field of this country; and, as Gideon's troops 
were gathered from Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon and Naphthali, 
we may infer that he was a western Manassite, and that the 
danger threatened Galilee peculiarly. After the defeat and 
flight of the Midianites, who (if we can trust the interpre- 
tation of an enigmatical phrase, Judges vii. 3) had come with 

1 In Judges i. the following Canaanitish nations are recorded as permanently 
dwelling in the Galilsean territory : 1. in the tribe of Asher, the inhabitants of 
AccTio, of Zidon, of Ahlab, of Achzib, of HelbaTt, of Aphik, of Rehob ; 2. in the 
tribe of Naphthali, the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and Bethanath, who however 
at length became tributary ; 3. in the tribe of Zebulon, the inhabitants of 
Kitron and Nahalol, also made tributary ; 4. in the tribe of Issachar (theoreti- 
cally in that of Manasseh, Josh. xvii. 11), Bethshean and her towns, Taanach 
and her towns, Dor and her towns, Ibleam and her towns, Megiddo and her 
towns. These tribes were made tributary only at a late aera. Besides the 
Canaanites who drew notice by remaining independent so long, great numbers 
more must have been silently incorporated with Israel from early times. 

2 Canaan is by many interpreted "the low country," as opposed to Aram 
(Syria), " the high country :" and the name Canaan, as applicable to the 
dwellers of the coast, was perhaps primitively given to the Phoenicians : whence 
also the word meant "a trader." Possibly therefore " Jabin king of Canaan" 
stands for "Jabin, a Phoenician potentate." 

3 Judges v. 14-18. " Zebulon and Naphthali, in the high places of the field, 
jeoparded their lives unto the death." " On the brooks of Reuben were great 
resolutions" (De Wette). "OHlead [i. e. the G-adites] abode beyond Jordan: 
why was Dan a stranger on shipboard ? why sate Asher on the sea shore, and 
abode in his bays?" The song is almost too obscure to extract trustworthy 
history from it. 


" Amalekites and children of the east" from Mount Gilead, 
Naphthali, Asher and Manasseh distinguished themselves in 
the pursuit. It is reasonable to believe that the inroads of 
such marauders, whose cattle year after year destroyed the 
crops (Judges vi. 1-6), must have helped to unite the Hebrews 
and the older inhabitants. The latter doubtless suffered from 
the invasions equally with the former, and can hardly have 
refused to join their armies in driving off the common enemy. 
Israel in the mass was in those days wholly destitute of re- 
pulsive religious zeal, and would warmly have welcomed all as- 

South of Mount Carmel begins the central portion of 
western Palestine, afterwards named SAMARIA. Its northern 
district was assigned to part of the tribe of Manasseh, and the 
southern and more important to Ephraim. A large propor- 
tion of the whole is table-land, diversified with hills, in ridges 
and numerous knolls. The soil, according to Josephus, was 
soft to the plough and fertile ; less watered by streams than 
Galilee ; but all the water was peculiarly sweet, and the grass 
such as to give an unusual abundance of milk to the cattle. 
In early times, it is probable that Samaria, as compared to 
Galilee, had a greater advantage in population than after- 
wards; or the energetic ambition of the Ephraimites more 
rapidly reduced the Caiiaanitish natives, and forced them to 
coalesce with Israel. The only city in the tribe of Ephraim 
which was not subdued was Gezer, on the western border be- 
tween them and the tribe of Dan. First an Amorite town, it 
afterwards was the most northern fortress of the Philistines, 
and retained its independence (subject, at most, to tribute) 
until the reign of Solomon, when it was captured, not by 
Hebrew, but by Egyptian force. The energy which the 
Ephraimites showed in the very first period of Israelitish his- 
tory, may be referred to the fact, that the celebrated leader 
Joshua belonged to this tribe. Among them also, at Shiloh, 
for many generations, the tabernacle of Jehovah, with the 
sacred ark, was fixed ; and at once, in a local, a political and 
a religious sense, became the centre of the Hebrew nation. 
Their extreme pride was shown in their insolent conduct to 
Gideon and to Jephthah ; of whom the former pacified them 
by gentleness, and the latter retaliated by a cruel massacre, 
which appears for a long while after to have humbled their 
pretensions. Their principal town was Shechem (Neapolis, 

B 3 


Nablus), where Jacob had dwelt; and they pointed to the 
well of Jacob and to the tomb of Joseph. From them arose 
Deborah, a woman, yet the earliest prophet of Israel ; whose 
word called forth Barak as champion against Jabin. Finally, 
it was in Shechem that Abimelech, a son of Gideon by a 
woman of that town, set up a monarchy, which lasted three 
years, " over Israel" (Judges ix. 22) ; by which we are per- 
haps to understand Israel west of the Jordan. 

No natural division exists between the regions called in 
later time Samaria and JUDAEA. The latter, which is imme- 
diately to the south of the former, contained the district as- 
signed to be conquered by the four tribes of Dan, Benjamin, 
Simeon and Judah. But Dan and Simeon were always insig- 
nificant, and could not overcome the Amorites. A portion of 
the Danites migrated to the extreme north, and treacherously 
attacked Laish or Leshem, a town ' ' dwelling carelessly, after 
the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure/' Having mas- 
sacred a peaceful and industrious population, they established 
themselves in their place ; and as if to warn the modern reader 
that no zeal for the Law prompted the atrocity, they forthwith 
set up a graven image, under a priest of the tribe of Manasseh, 
whose children continued to officiate until the day of the cap- 
tivity of the land (Judges xviii. 30) . This is the well-known 
town of Dan, which, in contrast to Beersheba, so long marked 
the extreme northern point of Israel. The rest of the Danites, 
in common with the Simeonites, soon had to struggle with a 
yet more dangerous enemy the Philistines, against whom the 
marvellous hero Samson, of the tribe of Dan, so often entered 
the lists ; but at length Dan seems to have lost its existence 
as a tribe in these parts. Neither could the Simeonites win 
the cities assigned to them by lot, some of which at a much 
later period were acquired by the tribe of Judah. Such was 
Ziklag, which David afterwards received from Achish, king of 
Gath ; such too was Beersheba, which in the time of Ahab (1 
Kings xix. 3) was reckoned as Judah's. Simeon nevertheless 
continued to hold various less important places until the time 
of the kings (1 Chron. iv. 31, 42), and so late as the reign of 
Hezekiah two strange migrations of this tribe are named 1 . 

1 It is surprising that "sons of Ham" are described as dwelling at Gedor, in 
the centre of the tribe of Judah, between Hebron and Jerusalem, in the days of 
Hezekiah ; when they are expelled by a colony of Simeonites. That another 
colony should migrate into Idumeea is also singular. 


It is uncertain how the rest of them disappeared; but so 
thoroughly does the tribe seem to have been afterwards for- 
gotten in Israel, that at the time when the song of Moses was 
penned, Simeon was entirely dropped out of the list. Dan, 
on the contrary, is named, but only as in proximity with 
" Bashan," where the town of Dan lay 1 . 

Benjamin had his portion on the north of Judsea eastward, 
close beneath the tribe of Ephraim, in an inland district small 
in extent, but great in sacred and legendary interest. Jeru- 
salem on the table-land, and Jericho deep in the basin of the 
Jordan; Bethel, where God appeared to Jacob; Gilgal, per- 
haps, where twelve stones recorded the passage of Jordan by 
the twelve tribes, and Mizpeh, whither from the earliest 
times (Judges xx. 1, etc.) the tribes were accustomed to as- 
semble before Jehovah ; all lay in the lot of Benjamin. The 
Benjamites are represented as originally superior in numbers 
to the Manassites, notwithstanding the vast disproportion of 
the tract allowed to them. But in a most extraordinary civil 
war 2 , they had been almost extirpated by their Hebrew bre- 
thren, their numbers being reduced to 600 adult males, and 
every woman and child destroyed. After this, it seems not 
wonderful that the land of the Benjamites proved large enough 
for them. It must be added, that it was judged to be more 
fruitful even than any part of Galilee. The plain of Jericho, 
which it included, was looked upon as a sort of earthly pa- 
radise, and the hills admitted of artificial culture up to their 
very tops. Jerusalem however, with the fertile tract around 
it, never fell into the hands of Benjamin 3 ; for by reason of 
the extreme strength of its position, they could not drive the 

1 Some of the Christian fathers have imagined that Antichrist is to be of the 
tribe of Dan, apparently because the name of Dan is omitted in the list, Revel, vii. 

2 The other tribes had sworn to Jehovah to give no wives to the Benjamites ; 
but the oath was evaded by slaughtering the Jabeshgileadites in mass for not 
having helped to exterminate Benjamin, and by then giving 400 Jabeshite 
maidens as wives to the survivors of that tribe. As these did not suffice, the 
"rape of the Sabines" was anticipated at a feast of Jehovah near Shiloh, and 
200 wives more were captured from the sacred dances. The whole narrative 
has so little to accredit it as history, and the statement that Phinehas was still 
the high priest is so suspicious (xx. 28), as to abate our confidence in the as- 
sertion that Mizpeh was used as a gathering-place before the days of Samuel. 
Whatever may be judged of the general tale, we cannot doubt that the descrip- 
tion of savage manners and barbarous religion had its counterpart in reality. 

3 In Judges i. 8, it is stated that the men of Judah took Jerusalem, slaugh- 
tered the inhabitants, and burnt the city. How it was recovered by the Jebu- 
sites is not explained. 


Jebusites out of the city. After years of hostility, peaceful 
relations were established, if at least we may so interpret the 
words : " The Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin 
in Jerusalem unto this day" (Judges i. 21) . However, until 
David captured the fortress of Zion, the Jebusites continued 

South of all Israel lay the land of the tribe of Judah, in- 
cluding Hebron, or Kirjath Arba, and Beersheba ; places 
consecrated by the traditions of Abraham and Isaac. The 
country is described as equally fertile with Samaria, and very 
similar; but this must be understood of its favourable por- 
tions. It is more mountainous, and its whole eastern side is 
a wilderness of limestone : on the south-west also are wide 
wastes. Indeed at present the deficiency of water 1 and soil 
in the entire district is so great, that none are able to account 
for the fertility ascribed to it by all the ancients, except by 
the elaborate system of cultivation which was carried on while 
it was in the hands of small native proprietors. The tribe of 
Judah rivalled that of Ephraim in spirit and in ambition ; and 
as the Ephraimites boasted of their Joshua, so did the men 
of Judah of their Caleb ; who, to justify his defiance of the 
Canaanites, demanded of Joshua as his portion the uncon- 
quered city and mountain of Hebron, where the dreadful 
giants the Anakim dwelt. Under the inspiring genius of 
Caleb, the tribe of Judah single-handed conquered not He- 
bron only, but numerous other cities, among which are named 
Gaza, Askelon and Ekron ; all of them afterwards chief seats 
of the Philistine power, and none of them within the lot of 
Judah. In the theory of the conquest, Ekron was to belong 
to Dan; Askelon and Gaza to Simeon; but those tribes, as 
we have stated, proved unsuccessful and feeble. From Judah 
moreover is said to have proceeded the first " Judge" of 
Israel, Othniel, the nephew and son-in-law of Caleb ; which 
virtually denotes that Othniel, the antagonist of Chushan 
Rishathaim, was the first successor to Joshua. That the tribe 
of Judah should have been eminent in the war against Chu- 
shan Rishathaim (who is rather mysteriously called king of 
the distant country of Mesopotamia), is the more remarkable, 

1 Some countries have become drier by the destruction of forests ; but we do 
not hear of forests except in lofty mountains from the early Hebrew annals : and 
no cutting down of timber would have laid the rock bare of soil except where 
the showers were of immense violence. 


since of all the tribes Judah was the most distant, and the last 
to suffer from such an enemy ; yet a long time passed before 
circumstances arose which could give to this farthest tribe any 
enduring primacy over Israel at large. 

Such was the land of Canaan, and such the distribution of 
the tribes over it : beyond Jordan, a pastoral people, of which 
the northern part had been engaged in lingering warfare with 
powerful neighbours, and had earned an energetic character 
and extensive territory ; west of Jordan, in Galilee on the 
north, a brave but unambitious race, easily coalescing with the 
older inhabitants : in Samaria the central power of Israel lay, 
and the most decisive triumphs, west of Jordan, were first won : 
in Judaea, a large part of Israel was driven out, first by the 
Amorites, then by the Philistines, while the tribe of Judah 
itself with difficulty stood its ground, and lost many of its 
conquests. It is possible that the early and complete suc- 
cesses of the Ephraimites, leaving them little to contend 
against, gave them more pride than warlike experience ; while 
the long and painful struggles of Judah were preparing that 
tribe for ultimate pre-eminence. 

The chief political idea prominent in the institutions which 
we ascribe to Moses, was, to constitute a people of small in- 
dependent landowners ; a state of things highly conducive to 
national virtue, equably-spread and moderate abundance, per- 
sonal bravery, and sober stable republicanism ; but adverse to 
great wealth, commerce, intellectual development, standing 
armies, and royal or oligarchical power. In regard to the east- 
ern tribes, the Mosaic system gave way altogether ; for they 
chose and adhered to a pastoral life : but west of Jordan the 
agricultural constitution was fixedly established. The most re- 
markable law was that which forbade the sale of land beyond 
the year of Jubilee ; a regulation intended to hinder a man, to 
whom a life-interest only in his estate was given, from defraud- 
ing his posterity. It was, in short, the Mosaic law of entail 1 ; 
which aimed however, not to keep landed property together in 
large masses, but to prevent accumulation ; nor was there any 
mode of cutting off the entail by agreement between father 
and son. The practical result was, that no permanent aris- 
tocracy could arise west of the Jordan; and that during the 

1 A peculiar marriage law, which had its counterpart in Athens, was directed 
to uphold the law of entail : the man nearest of kin was bound to endow or to 
wed a portionless maiden : Ruth iv. 


earlier period of the national existence, each tribe acted for 
itself except at moments of great exigence from powerful 
foreign enemies. 

But we here touch on a delicate subject, which may need 
more detailed and cautious remark. The law of Jubilee is not 
to be conceived of in a literal sense, since we know that if it 
was ever so much enacted in writing, no means of expounding 
or enforcing it were at hand in the early times of violence. 
But as the Dorians who conquered Laconia, so the Hebrews 
who possessed themselves of Canaan, had a traditionary feel- 
ing, that the land, having been primitively apportioned to 
families, ought to remain as a fixed property of the same fa- 
milies. It must have been forbidden by usage to sell that 
patrimony in which the present holder had only a life-interest ; 
and it is probable that sales were never made except for a 
fixed and very limited number of years, after which the land 
reverted to the children of him who had sold it. Out of this 
the idea of a Jubilee may have at length shaped itself in later 
ages ; but it appears certain that no law of jubilee can have 
had its first origin in the later times, without such usage pre- 
ceding : for after the return from Babylon, land was in too 
great abundance for the people, and no one could have then 
first conceived such a law : and if, during the time of the 
kings, land had habitually been sold for ever, the idea of Ju- 
bilee could not have established itself at all. We infer there- 
fore that national feeling and usage really kept up small landed 
properties west of Jordan from the earliest times 1 . 

Yet it is not to be supposed that the Israelites on that side 
the river became at once and exclusively agricultural. The 
transition from a state of pastoral rovers to that of agricul- 
turists was probably gradual, and spread over many genera- 
tions ; and in fact the Simeonites (1 Chron. iv. 41) may seem 
to have remained mere wandering shepherds until ^the latest 
period, until (as may be suspected) they were swallowed up in 
the Amalekites of those parts. Great diversities of wealth in 
cattle will soon arise among men who at first are equal, and 
those who have too many cattle for their land buy leave to 
pasture them on the fields of those who have too few. The 
rich man virtually in such case becomes the tenant, and the 
poor the landlord, who receives yearly a small quit-rent for 
the use of his land ; and though it may be called his, yet after 

1 To this the story of Naboth and Ahab agrees. 


a time lie fears to expel his tenant and take the land into his 
own hands, if this would inflict a severe inconvenience on one 
powerful to resent it. Although Englishmen may not possess 
land in Turkey, modes of evading the law are easily found, so 
as to prevent the legal owner from ejecting his tenant except 
by extreme effort; and it is quite consistent with a general 
system of small landed properties, that a sprinkling of rich 
men should practically spread beyond their nominal estates. 
The example of Gideon, who could afford to rear seventy sons 
in princely station, and whose son Abimelech aspired to regal 
dignity, shows that there existed means of retaining great 
wealth and influence ; and as the wealth cannot have accrued 
from yearly taxation, it must have been in cattle or in land, 
or in both. Nevertheless, such rich men were probably few, 
or at any rate did not constitute a permanent aristocracy. 
They were not a recognized order, and could not easily act in 
conjunction. Birth and age were chiefly regarded in selecting 
the ordinary elders or heads of families and tribes ; and it is 
probable that riches, where the limits of land were so narrow, 
did not continue long in the same family. A rallying centre 
for the parts of the nation was wanting ; and when this arose 
in the person of a king, the royal power was liable to become 
despotic from the absence of an interposing aristocracy. Not 
that this was wholly wanting ; for (besides what was just said), 
among the tribes east of Jordan, men not only of great but of 
hereditary wealth in cattle and visible substance arose; 
wealth accruing in part from legitimate increase under clever 
management, in part probably from the plunder of neighbours. 
The wealthy chieftain in these parts must often have combined 
the marauder with the grazier, and have been able to gather a 
considerable force of men around him. But it was only to a 
weak or unpopular king that these chiefs could dare to offer 
resistance; especially as they had no constitutional organs 
of their own, and no support from this side Jordan. A check 
to the regal power however grew up at last in Judah, as we 
shall see, out of the priestly body, which had no organization 
or public efficiency in the ante-Davidical sera. 

It might have been imagined that the Levites, spread over 
the whole country, would cement the tribes together; but 
the causes of their failing so to do are easy to find. Whether 
they ever actually enjoyed the cities in theory allotted to v 
them, is highly doubtfiil. If it be even allowed that Joshua 


put them in possession, it is evident that they must have been 
expelled ten times over from many districts, by the series of 
invaders who domineered over part or the whole of Israel. 
"When lands are once lost by religious bodies, it is exceedingly 
difficult in the most religious countries of modern Europe to 
recover them; and it is clear that no Levitical spirit existed 
in early Israel which should assist restitution. As for eccle- 
siastical tithes, to collect them when crops are liable to be 
burnt by an enemy, is a hopeless affair : and those were days 
(as we are repeatedly told), when " every man did what was 
right in his own eyes." In short, whatever Joshua did for 
the Levites, might as well not have been done, as regards any 
permanent result. We start with the history of the Kings, as 
if no Levitical order existed. 

Not but that there were Levites scattered through the 
land ; and there were certainly some priestly towns : but, as 
in early Greece, each religious establishment rested on its 
own basis, and was wholly isolated from the rest. A bishop 
in the Middle Ages of Europe differed from a temporal prince 
in bearing a sacred character ; but he equally needed the aid 
of men, arms, and horses, to sustain his official position : and 
so was it with the Aaronites 1 who came to Hebron to instal 
David as king. We may safely infer that their exterior was 
not less warlike in the turbulent period which had preceded ; 
but as nothing is heard of priestly authority, except in con- 
nexion with the name of Eli, they cannot have exerted any 
wide-spread influence. The only specimen which we have of 
the primitive life of a Levite, represents a young man who bore 
that name to have been consecrated as a priest of Jehovah, 
by Micah, a man of Mount Ephraim ; as though any man 
had power to make a priest for himself: moreover the Levite 
is said to have been of Bethlehem and " of the family of 
Judah" (Judg. xvii. 7); which implies that " Levite" was 
not then understood to imply descent from Levi, but simply 
occupation in a certain routine of religious observance. Pre- 
vious to the arrival of the Levite, Micah had consecrated one 
of his own sons; and the Danites at Laish in like manner 
made a descendant of Manasseh 2 priest in their city. The 

1 Zadok, the most eminent of them, was " a young man mighty of valour," 
1 Chr. xii. 28. 

2 He is called, " Jonathan son of Gtershom son of Manasseh." Son is ex- 
pounded to mean Descendant. 


Levite was to Micah (what we should call) a family chap- 
lain; and agreed to receive his clothes and food and ten 
shekels of silver every year. The simplicity of Micah's self- 
congratulation, " Now know I t^at Jehovah will do me 
good, seeing I have a Levite for my priest," so comes forth 
from the popular heart, as to convince us that this was a 
widely-spread feeling; and that the Levites of those days 
were a family appendage coveted by the more wealthy, but 
not an independent, much less an organized, body. No defi- 
nite statements inform us, whether any of them as yet per- 
formed the functions of " scribes ;" either as clerks, registrars, 
attorneys, or as literary teachers; but whatever insight we 
can get into the spirit of the age, tends to show that nothing 
of the sort was as yet needed or sought after. Bargains were 
made in Israel, whether the purchase of a field or the pur- 
chase of a wife (Ruth iv. 3-10), by a man's plucking off his 
shoe, and giving it to his neighbour before the elders of the 
town, in the gate. 

Although the laws of Moses, as we read them, definitely 
permit and regulate polygamy, the custom nowhere existed in 
the body of the nation. The freedom of the Hebrew women, 
married and unmarried, is utterly opposed to the polygamic 
spirit ; and in such a state of things to suppress the evil prac- 
tice would seem so easy, that one might wonder why it should 
be sanctioned ; especially when it is at once child and parent 
of despotism, and thereby in direct contravention to the whole 
genius of the Hebrew institutions. It must nevertheless be 
remembered, that when the safety of a tribe depended on its 
population, the law of marriage could hardly be the same as 
when the moral influences of that state are chiefly looked to : 
and when a certain public disgrace is incurred by leaving no 
representative in one's social position, both of the married par- 
ties would sometimes become desirous of a deviation from strict 
monogamy. Concubines (or wives of lower rank) seem to 
have been reputable, even during the lifetime of a wife, when 
no heirs of a family had arisen. Thus was it that Abraham 
took Hagar, and Jacob took Bilhah and Zilpah, at the request 
of the wives ; but it was only by fraud 1 that Jacob had two 

1 If any one regard the fraud practised on Jacob as a popular fiction to save 
the patriarch's credit, it will not the less, but even the more, prove that it was 
popularly discreditable to have two equal wives. In fact to have two sisters at 
once is expressly forbidden in the Pentateuch. 


sisters as wives imposed upon him. The first eminent ex- 
ample of oriental polygamy was in the chieftain Gideon, who 
had seventy sons ; whose example was followed by the Judges 
named Ibzan, Abdon and Jair, as we may infer from the 
number of their children 1 . More singular, as in a private 
household, would be the case of Elkanah, father of .Samuel, 
who had two equal wives, Hannah and Peninnah ; only that 
the long barrenness of Hannah is probably the explanation. 
But with royalty, wives rapidly multiplied. The first king 
had one concubine; the next had at least eight wives; the 
third 700 wives and 300 concubines (as the numbers in the 
book stand) ; the fourth had eighty sons. As under the mon- 
archy the practice was fixed and could no longer be got rid 
of, the national law would then at least be forced to sanction 
and would seek to regulate it, though often in vain as regards 
the sovereigns. The miserable results of it will appear in the 

The nations bordering on Israel must now be concisely 
noticed. Egypt was widely separated by the desart, and until 
the time of Solomon had no dealings at all with them. On 
the south-west but within the frontier lay the Philistines, con- 
cerning whose power and hostility more particular details 
will be presently needed. On the south of Judah dwelt or 
roamed various tribes of the Amalekites. Although this was 
their more peculiar district, it may be suspected that the name, 
like that of Midianites and Ishmaelites, was often used im- 
properly of any people of the desart dwelling in tents. Such 
neighbours are of all others most vexatious to agriculturists ; 
and the Amalekites were viewed by the tribes of Israel with 
an abhorrence felt towards none of the " seven nations" of 
Canaan. Immediately to the south of the Dead Sea, the 
territory of Edom (Idumcea) began, and ran along a remark- 
able mountain valley called Mount Seir (Sherd) , till it reached 
the gulf of Akaba, the eastern branch of the Red Sea. The 
Edomites appear always to have maintained peaceful relations 
with the Hebrews, until assailed by the kings of Israel. Their 
territory is admirably defended by nature, has parts of mode- 
rate fertility, and is not without commercial advantages. 

1 Some may hesitate to build upon the concise notice of these judges : the 
thirty sons of the variously celebrated Jair appear such a natural appendage 
to the cities won by the father, as to make historical conclusions exceedingly 


East of the Dead Sea, and as far north as the river Arnon, 
the Moabite people lived, whose wealth was in flocks 1 . For- 
merly their limits had extended much farther to the north ; so 
that the " Plains of Moab," so called, lie opposite to the plains 
of Jericho, on the lower Jordan. But Sihon king of Heshbon 
drove them back to the Arnon ; and when he was himself de- 
feated by Israel, this portion of Moabite territory passed over 
to the Reubenites. Once only were the Moabites in conflict 
with Israel, under their king Eglon, who was assassinated by 
Ehud : at all other times they seem to have been friendly ; 
and the simple tale of Ruth the Moabitess exhibits the nation 
in a pleasing light. To the east of the Gadites lay Rabbath 
Ammon, the chief city of the Ammonites ; in a small district, 
with no apparent advantages over that of Moab : but as the Am- 
monites were agricultural, their soil was probably more fertile. 
They also remembered that their territory had once extended 
to the Jordan 2 (Josh. xiii. 25) , and though Israel had taken it 
from Sihon, not from them (Judg. xi. 13-26), they at length 
recovered it by war, and kept it eighteen years ; after which, 
falling then into conflict with Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim 
(Judg. x. 9), they brought on themselves the resentment of all 
Israel. Jephthah meanwhile expelled them by the help of the 
eastern tribes alone, and incurred the anger of the Ephraim- 
ites for acting without them. This is the only recorded 
breach of peace in early days between Ammon and Israel. 
North of the Ammonites, the half tribe of Manasseh stretched 
its pretensions over an inordinately large district. Its neigh- 
bours east of Gilead seemed to have been called Hagarenes ; 
we meet also the names of Jetur, Nephish, Nodab. But the 
formidable enemy was Damascus, whose pretensions easily in- 
terfered with the ambition of the Manassites. Maachath also 
and Geshur appear to have been states of respectable force, 
with settled institutions, and blocked up the progress of Israel 
northward. On the north-west lay Sidon and Tyre, peaceful 
and valuable neighbours, who constantly preserved a good 
understanding with Israel. 

Such were, on the whole, the character and the relations of 

1 2 Kings iii. 4. Contrast 2 Chron. xxvii. 5. 

2 We cannot reconcile the claim of the Ammonites to the land from Arnon to 
Jabbok along the Jordan, with the other statement about the Moabites, except 
by supposing that the district had been temporarily possessed by both Moabites 
and Ammonites. 


the land, which is so eloquently described as a land of brooks 
of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and 
hills, a land of wheat and barley and vines and fig-trees and 
pomegranates, a land of oil-olive and of honey, a land whose 
stones are iron, and out of whose hills one may dig brass 1 . Its 
wealth however was not of such a nature as to supersede 
human industry, as the vague phrase " flowing with milk and 
honey " might suggest : it needed, as much as any other, se- 
cure possession and firm government, to prevent a large part 
of it from being a desart. It neither possessed great naviga- 
ble rivers, and a broad extent of alluvial soil on their side, as 
Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, and all the countries in 
which civilization gained its earliest start ; nor had it a well- 
indented sea-coast, numerous ports and convenient islands, as 
Greece and the Eastern Archipelago, countries formed to ap- 
propriate and transmit whatever of material or mental cul- 
tivation has been earned in wealthier territories. But the 
land of Israel, for so very small a tract, possessed an unusual 
self-sufficiency for all physical well-being. On the eastern 
side, its natural defences were very imperfect even against 
rude enemies ; elsewhere its frontier was generally good ; and 
though it must not be compared to mountain-fastnesses, yet 
it was (better than most equally fertile countries of like ex- 
tent) suited to a people which was " to dwell alone, and not 
be reckoned among the nations." 

1 Deut. viii. 7, etc. 



IN the twelfth century before Christ, the tribes of Israel can 
be dimly discerned as occupying the districts which have been 
above described ; and although by no means animated by any 
deep consciousness of unity, yet beginning to coalesce into a 
single nation. In the long years of their residence in Canaan, 
a silent revolution had taken place by the gradual absorption 
of the Canaanite population into the name and sympathies 
of Israel. There was in fact so little to separate them, that 
time only was needed to ensure the result. To judge by the 
existing records and laws, the concubinage of Israelitish 
warriors with conquered Canaanite maidens must have been 
practised on an enormous scale. The mixed race inherited 
the mothers' tongue, but adopted the fathers' ambition ; and 
if the people of Moses talked Egyptian, their language was 
obliterated long before Canaan was all conquered. All the 
races alike were circumcised; the Hebrews had as yet no 
importunate zeal for monotheism, but on the contrary were 
perpetually prone to adopt the superstitions of Canaanites, 
Moabites or Ammonites. The few specimens given of Hebrew 
proceedings indicate to us a people probably more ferocious 
and energetic than the townsmen of Canaan, and, we may 
readily believe, free from those vices which luxury engenders ; 
but not superior to the Canaanites in sensitiveness of con- 
science or spirituality of heart. It has been already suggested, 
that the inroads of roving tribes would sensibly tend to unite 
all the settled inhabitants of the country ; and it may be ob- 
served, that all the severer struggles between Israel and 
Canaan seem to have preceded the first war against a foreign 
enemy, Chushan Eishathaim ; for Jabin, though called the 
King of " Canaan," was almost beyond the northern frontier. 
The great complaint transmitted to us by the more zealous 
part of the Hebrews is, that their people were too friendly 
with the Canaanites, after the first excitement of the invasion 


was passed ; and since, on the whole, the invaders proved the 
stronger, their name and institutions at length swallowed up 
all others. 

One small nation alone, of all which dwelt on the land 
claimed by Israel, permanently refused to amalgamate itself 
with the circumcised peoples, namely the uncircumcised 
Philistines. They occupied the lots which ought to have been 
conquered by Dan and Simeon, and had five principal cities, 
Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Gath and Ekron, of which the three 
first are on the sea-coast. Ashdod and Gaza were places of 
great strength, capable of long resisting the efforts of Egyp- 
tian and Greek warfare. The Philistines cannot have been a 
populous nation, but they were far more advanced in the arts 
of peace and war than the Hebrews. Their position com- 
manded the land-traffic between Egypt and Canaan, and gave 
them access to the sea ; hence perhaps their wealth and com- 
paratively advanced civilization. Some learned men give 
credit to an account in Sanchoniathon, that they came from 
Crete 1 , whence Tacitus erroneously stated this of the Jews ; 
and that the name Cherethites retains a trace of this origin. 
In the times of Nehemiah, a distinction of language between 
Philistine and Jew was noted ; but this may have been no 
greater than between Dorian and Ionian Greek. The Philis- 
tines appear to have been intelligible to their neighbours; 
and as the Phoenicians, like them, were uncircumcised, ob- 
vious probabilities would refer them to the same stock of 
population. Some of their towns are described as possessed 
by the Amorites at the time of Joshua's invasion ; and were 
not the Philistines 2 alluded to as an impediment to the Is- 
raelites marching out of Egypt by the coast of the Mediter- 
ranean, we might even be tempted to believe that they were 
more recent occupants of the country. They have given their 
name to the whole land of Canaan under the form of Palaes- 
tina, owing to the accident that the Greek merchants were 
familiar with the inhabitants of the sea-coast long before they 
could have intercourse with the interior ; and the very fact 
suggests that the Philistines would in early times be familiar 
with the best armour and weapons of war which the coasts of 
Asia or of Greece could furnish. Be this as it may, the 

1 Winer, PJiilister. They may have been Cretan Phoenician^. 

2 This is possibly an anachronism, especially since when Judah conquered 
G-aza, Askelon and Ekron no mention was made of Philistines. 


Danites and Simeonites who came to subdue them, found be- 
fore long that they were on the contrary themselves turned 
into tributaries and vassals. The Philistines, who lived in 
walled towns, permitted the vagrant shepherds to pasture 
their herds and flocks in the open country, just as the Egyp- 
tians had done, no doubt demanding some tithe of their 
cattle, but carefully deprived them of warlike weapons and 
of all use of iron. In the Mosaic, as in the Homeric times, 
(t brass" alone was used in the manufacture of spears and 
swords ; the metal denoted being a mixture of copper and 
tin, very hard, but also very brittle. When working in iron 
and steel was invented, a warlike superiority soon rested with 
the people which exclusively possessed the improved weapons ; 
and it is easy to believe that the Philistines, blocking up 
access to the sea and to Egypt, would be able to withhold 
iron spears and swords from the shepherd tribes 1 . A similar 
prohibition of iron was laid upon the Romans by Porsena, 
under circumstances in which enforcement was far more diffi- 
cult. From this thraldom the Israelites were delivered by 
the bravery of Shamgar, son of Anath, who, at the head of 
a host of 40,000 men, without shield or spear (Judg. v. 6-8), 
if we rightly interpret an ode of triumph, contended 
successfully against the armed enemy. A national tradition 
embalmed his exploit under the mythical form, that with an 
ox-goad he had alone slain 600 Philistines (Judg. iii. 31) . 

Whatever the result of Shamgar' s victories, the Philistines 
were not ejected from their towns; on the contrary, they 
pressed their fortresses forward, probably from feeling the 
ambition and strength of the Hebrews, and possessed them- 
selves of Gezer, a strong Amorite town on the frontier of 
Ephraim and Dan. How soon they set garrisons in Geba, 
on the northern frontier of Benjamin, and in Bethlehem of 
Judah, cannot be decided ; but all such garrisons must have 
been strictly defensive, and have entailed great expense on 
this spirited but naturally peaceful people. Their uncircum- 
cision was intensely resented by the Hebrews, whose con- 
science in these days is not ill typified by that of their tribual 
ancestors, Simeon and Levi, men who were too scrupulous 
to form affinity with an uncircumcised tribe, though they 

1 Reasons will afterwards be given for believing that the statement in 1 Sam. 
xiii. 19-22 really belongs to the days of Shamgar, not of Saul. Nor is it to 
be imagined that all the tribes were under this dominion. 


shrank not to massacre all its males in cold blood, because 
the youthful passion of its chief had too rapidly precipitated 
the course of honourable love. It may seem remarkable, that 
at a period in which the institutions which we call Mosaic had 
so little force, the Israelites should have been bigoted to the 
single ceremony of circumcision. But it must be remembered, 
that ' ' uncircumcision" was the sarcasm cast by the Egyptians 
against everything unclean (Josh. v. 9), a reproach which the 
nation from its very birth had been accustomed to dread. 
The neglect of this institution needed not Levites and Priests 
to punish it, for the very Canaanites of the interior who sur- 
rounded them would treat the uncircumcised as unclean. In 
modern Abyssinia, equally as among Mohammedans, it is well 
known that intense prejudice exists on the part of the circum- 
cised against marrying with uncircumcised families ; thus, we 
may believe, small as the matter may seem in itself, an effec- 
tual barrier was interposed against the amalgamating of the 
Philistines with the Hebrews. 

The same cause kept Israel separate from the Phoenicians 
on the north-west ; but this people whether from their more 
exclusively maritime spirit, or because their continental rights 
were better respected, or from whatever other cause, con- 
tinued on excellent terms with their circumcised neighbours. 
The Philistines, on the contrary, with the growth of strength, 
spirit and unity in the Hebrew confederation, appear to have 
become more inveterately hostile. Under Eli the priest, the 
twelve tribes began to coalesce into a united nation, fearing no 
Canaanite enmity from within. We know not what brought 
on new war with the Philistines, farther than the constant 
claim of Israel to take away their country from them : a severe 
defeat however was suffered, in which both the sons of Eli 
were slain, with (it is said) 30,000 Israelites. After this, the 
Philistines may have increased their garrisons; but to oc- 
cupy and subdue the country was impossible for so small a 
people, even if they had been disposed ; and the Hebrews were 
only panic-struck and crushed for the time, not conquered. 
Meanwhile, a new personage had come forward in Israel, des- 
tined to impress an entirely fresh character on Hebrew his- 
tory, and practically to identify the earthly greatness of the 
people with its zeal for the worship of a single unseen and 
moral God. 

SAMUEL the prophet may with no small justice be called 


a second Moses. The results of his ministry were greater 
than any which can be traced to Moses, and his institutions 
far more permanent. Reared under Eli the priest, he saw 
with indignation the old man's sons practise Pagan impuri- 
ties, and display insolent greediness towards the worshippers 
at Shiloh ; and by his bold remonstrances and denunciations 
first became known as a prophet of Jehovah. His fame spread 
through all Israel ; and when of Eli's family none remained 
but infants or minors, Samuel naturally stept forward into 
high consideration. A singular event had awakened the 
Israelitish people to unusual sensitiveness. In the great de- 
feat recently suffered, the ark of Jehovah had been captured 
and carried away by the Philistines ; and although superstitious 
imaginations soon induced them to restore the booty, it proved 
almost as unwelcome to* the Hebrews as it had been to their 
enemies. Fifty thousand and seventy men of Bethshemesh 1 , 
it was believed, had been struck with death, because some of 
them, while it lodged in their town, had looked into the holy 
ark. So unlucky a deposit was gladly left with the first city 
which had courage to accept it, and for many years 2 it re- 
mained in obscurity at Kirjathjearim, instead of conferring 
sanctity and glory on Shiloh or Gibeon. Perhaps also a real 
pressure of the Philistine power was now felt. It is highly 
probable that the Hebrews were heavily taxed to keep up the 
garrisons, and that symbols of their vassalage in many ways 
met the eyes. The more pious part of the nation were struck 
with humiliation and with unusual longings. It seemed that 
for their sins the presence of Jehovah was withdrawn, and they 
eagerly sought counsel of Samuel how they might regain the 
favour of their offended deity. 

With the spirit which ever afterward distinguished tlie He- 
brew prophets, Samuel broadly announced the great principle 
essential to all acceptance with Jehovah their God ; namely, 
to put away the worship of all other gods. This is constantly 
denoted by the phrase, that " Jehovah is a jealous god /' and 
out of it arose the perpetual metaphor of the prophets, in which 
the relation of God to his people is compared to a marriage, 
the daughter of Israel being his bride or wife, and he a jealous 

1 They were by race Canaanites. Beth. Shemesh means, " house of the Sun;" 
no doubt an idolatrous name. 

2 The narrative says twenty ; but it was much longer before its final removal 
by David. 



husband. Thus also every false god is a paramour, and the 
worship of them is adultery or fornication. But we must not 
confound the worshipping before symbols, at least in this stage 
of the Hebrew mind, with idolatry in the offensive sense. Just 
as it has been for ages customary in Christendom to reverence 
a crucifix or a picture with adorations alleged not to be ido- 
latrous, so did the Hebrews worship Jehovah himself by help 
of images in human form, called Teraphim ; in adoring which 
they believed themselves irreproachable. The seers themselves 
appear to have sanctioned this ; indeed, even at a later time, 
a startling passage in the only extant prophet of northern 
Israel mentions images and Teraphim as part (it would seem) 
of the desirable apparatus of a religious state (Hosea iii. 4, 5) . 
Fuller experience at length, or clearer insight, showed to the 
leading religious authorities in Judaft, that idols (that is, sen- 
sible images or symbols of the Divinity) must be totally for- 
bidden, if idolatry is to be extirpated. But the zeal of the 
earlier prophets did not attack statues or emblems, as such : 
they were satisfied with denouncing all honour paid to a fo- 
reign god, and with securing, that, under whatever outward 
rites, Jehovah alone should be the professed and felt object of 

Ancient Polytheism was always tolerant of collateral poly- 
theistic systems; and he who venerated numerous deities 
was naturally ready to believe that other gods existed, un- 
known to him, yet equally deserving of worship. The pure 
monotheistic faiths on the contrary, whether of Zoroaster, 
Moses or Mohammed, have been all marked by an intolerance 
which in that stage of the world could not be separated from 
the interests of truth ; and on this cardinal point the unity of 
Israel was to depend. A noble and pure soul looked with 
disgust on the foul errors entangled with Canaanitish and 
Syrian superstitions ; and in maintaining the exclusive honour 
of the national God of Israel, the Lord and Creator of Hea- 
ven and Earth, was guilty of no such mean-spirited secta- 
rianism as might fairly be imputed to one who contended for 
a Neptune against an Apollo, an Adonis against a Neith. 
The prophet of Jehovah was in fact striving for the pure 
moral attributes of God, for holiness against impurity, 
majesty and goodness against caprice or cruelty, for a God 
whose powers reached to the utmost limits of space and time, 
against gods whose being was but of yesterday, and whose 


agencies thwarted one another. Nevertheless, the Hebrew 
creed was not monotheistic, in the sense of denying the exist- 
ence of other gods. It rather degraded them into devils, and 
set the omnipotence of Jehovah into prond contrast with their 
superhuman, yet limited might, than exploded them as utterly 

How Samuel preached, and exhorted and warned his coun- 
trymen, no writing has recorded; but those who have read 
how Scotland and Bohemia were worked up to resist Popish 
idolatry and foreign tyranny, may well imagine the union of 
patriotic and monotheistic zeal with which the Israelites 
burned under the exhortations of Samuel. Of the events 
which followed we have no details; but we learn in general, 
that by the energetic union of the whole people, the Philis- 
tines were defeated in the field, and national freedom pro- 
claimed. The period that follows is called the administration 
of Samuel, who, in the character of " Judge," presided over 
Israel, principally in the three towns of Bethel, Gilgal and 
Mizpeh. All of these seem to have been in the tribe of Ben- 
jamin, and are supposed to have had local sanctuaries in early 
times. Samuel himself was of B/amah (B-amath or Arimathsea), 
where he continued to live, not far from Mizpeh. His father 
is called an Ephrathite, or as scholars of the first rank have 
interpreted the word, an Ephraimite (I Sam. i. 1) ; but as he 
had grown up from childhood under the care and patronage 
of Eli, his parentage can have had little to do with his autho- 
rity or connexions. It may be conjectured, that his original 
influence had been most deeply rooted in the neighbourhood 
of Bamah, and that for this reason it was expedient to hold 
his courts in the tribe of Benjamin. Mizpeh, as nearest to 
his home, and as the place to which all Israel had assembled 
when first he called them to the worship of Jehovah and to 
liberty, was the most natural centre of his administration; 
but for the sake of speedy communication with the tribes 
beyond the Jordan, he came to meet them so far as Gilgal, 
on the low plain of Jericho, where twelve stones typified the 
union of the twelve tribes; while, to please perhaps the 
powerful and jealous Ephraimites, he visited them at Bethel, 
which was on their very border, if indeed it was not at that 
time considered to be their possession. To a people recently 
emerged from foreign vassalage, and among whom great un- 
certainty of property and of law must have existed, an upright 

c 2 


and patriotic judge was of high political importance : but in 
Samuel's case the decisions of the judge derived weight from 
the veneration paid to the prophet ; and in turn the influence 
which was honourably won by intelligent, disinterested and 
laborious judicial activity, redounded to the honour of the 
doctrine, that Jehovah exclusively must be worshipped by 
Israel. Unlike most of those called "Judges" before him, 
the influence of Samuel was founded on moral superiority to 
his countrymen, and was confirmed, not by warlike exploits 
(although he had encouraged them to a successful war of 
liberty), but by a steady administration of civil justice. By 
him accordingly was laid the foundation of Hebrew nationality, 
as it actually unfolded itself, and of that Hebrew prophecy, to 
which all Christendom owes an endless debt. To him in fact 
is justly ascribed the establishment of the " schools of the pro- 
phets," which at least cannot be traced back to an earlier sera. 

The prophets must on no account be confounded with the 
"priests." How little Samuel affected the latter character, 
is manifest from the chief-priesthood remaining with the fa- 
mily of Eli, whose son Phinehas left a son Ahitub. That Ahi- 
tub enjoyed the highest sacerdotal honour is scarcely ques- 
tionable, since we find his two sons Ahiah and Ahimelech re- 
ferred to familiarly as discharging that revered office (1 Sam. 
xiv. 3, 18, and xxii. 9) . Priests must no doubt have been all 
but coeval with the existence of the nation ; and at this time 
they probably lived in knots at particular towns, where certain 
sacerdotal families happened to have multiplied, since the 
character of the priest was generally hereditary. His busi- 
ness was one of routine, to sacrifice, or to burn incense ; to 
light lamps, to offer show-bread, or perform some other of the 
ceremonies with which ancient religion abounded. It is a 
striking fact, that during all Samuel's administration no one 
ventured to remove the ark from Kirjathjearim; nor do the 
priests seem to have been concerned to take charge of it. 
But " the men of Kirjathjearim sanctified Eleazar son of Abi- 
nadab to keep the ark of Jehovah;" and under the care of the 
same house it is found in the beginning of David's reign at 
Jerusalem (2 Sam. vi. 3). This however is but one out of 
numerous proofs that the ceremonial system only gradually 
grew up, and was as yet exceedingly immature. 

Except where lands had been attached to some sanctuary, 
the priest must have lived by the sacrifices and other offerings, 


and only in very rare cases exercised, or sought to exercise, 
any influence which can be called spiritual. But no man be- 
came a prophet by birth : he needed some call for the office, 
with exercise and teaching ; nor did the prophets often concern 
themselves with mere ceremonies, although they occasionally 
introduced symbolic actions of their own, suited to impress 
the public senses. Their characteristic emblem was some 
musical instrument, and their highest function to compose 
and sing solemn psalms of religious worship or instruction. 
Unlike to the minstrel of the Greeks, who devoted his powers 
to natter chieftains and amuse the crowd; or to the later ly- 
rist, who composed laudatory odes for pecuniary recompense ; 
more like in some respects to a patriotic Tyrtaeus, or to a 
Welsh bard ; the Hebrew prophet differed essentially in this, 
that his first and great aim was to please and honour Goo 1 , 
believing that from obedience to Him the highest good of man 
would assuredly follow. In the extremely difficult problems 
presente'd by Hebrew criticism, it becomes a matter of great 
doubt how many of the psalms still extant may be confidently 
assigned to the sera now under consideration ; but perhaps we 
cannot be wrong in accepting the ninetieth psalm in the 
Psalter (the heading of which arbitrarily assigns it to Moses) 
as a specimen of composition full as old as Samuel. It gives 
us a good sample of the depth and purity of religious feeling 
at work among the prophets, which imparts to their psalms a 
majesty peculiar to themselves, and no small portion of poeti- 
cal beauty. 

1. Lord, thou hast been our refuge in every generation. 
Ere ever the mountains were born, 

Ere thou hadst rounded the earth and world, 
From ages to ages thou art God. 

2. Thou turnest mortals to the dust ; 

Again, thou callest back the children of Adam. 

For a thousand years, in thy sight, 

Are but as yesterday when it vanishes, 

And as a watch in the night. 

Thou sweepest them away, and they are as a dream, 

Or as the grass in the morning, which grows afresh 2 . 

1 The ' British Quarterly' (vol. viii. p. 44) quotes this sentence, as testimony 
that exculpates Jeremiah from censures passed below ! I nevertheless cannot 
persuade myself to change a word on that account. 

2 We have here followed Winer's Simonis and our current English Yersion, in 
preference to De Wette and Ewald. 


In the morning it flourishes and grows afresh, 
In the evening it fades and withers. 

3. For we are consumed by thy anger, 
And by thy wrath we are afflicted. 
Thou hast set our sins before thy eyes, 

And all our secrets in the light of thy countenance. 

In thy displeasure all our days vanish, 

And, swift as thought, we bring our years to nothing. 

4. Our days of life are seventy years, 

Or by reason of strength, eighty years : 
Yet is their pride but labour and sorrow ; 
It hastens over, and we fly away. 
Who knoweth the might of thy anger ? 
As are thy terrors, such is thy displeasure. 
Our days therefore teach us to number, 
That we may attain a wise heart. 

5. Return, O Jehovah ! how long first ? 
And take pity on thy servants. 
Early with thy mercy satisfy us, 

That all our life we may joy and be glad. 

Gladden us as many days as thou hast bowed us down, 

As many years as we have seen adversity. 

Show to thy servants thy deeds, 

And to their children thy glory ! 

And let the grace of Jehovah our Gk>d be upon us, 

And the work of our hands, establish thou it, 

The work of our hands, establish thou it. 

Yet it must not be supposed that the poetry of that day 
was confined to these solemn and contemplative subjects. 
Israel lived in the midst of poetical nations, and from the ear- 
liest times must have been accustomed to hear from Canaan- 
ites and Amorites songs of no mean beauty, well-fitted to 
cultivate several species of composition. Israelitish war-songs 
arose at a very early period. As one very ancient specimen, 
we may here produce the song of triumph which celebrated 
the conquest of the plains of Moab by Israel from Sihon, king 
of Heshbon, who had himself taken them from the Moabites 
(Num. xxi. 27). 

1. Come into Heshbon ! 

Built and fortified be Sihon's city ! 
For out of Heshbon a fire is gone, 
A flame out of Sihon's city, 


Which has devoured Ar of Moab, 

And the dwellers of the heights of Arnon. 

2. Woe to thee, Moab ! 

Thou art undone, people of Chemosh ! 
He 1 has made his sons to be runaways, 
And his daughters captives to the Amorite king, Sihon. 

3. We have shot at them ! 

Heshbon is perished, even unto Dibon. 

We have laid them waste even unto Nophah ; 

There is fire as far as Medeba. 

The satirical congratulation of Sihon and pity over Moab 
give a grand irony to the short and energetic conclusion, 
which in its very abruptness characterizes the unarf ificial and 
primitive style. 

Nevertheless, the Hebrew prophets were not free from va- 
rious tinges of fanaticism, which generated also affectation. 
That they often worked themselves into a religious frenzy (as 
in the wild Asiatic ceremonies which the Greeks called Orgies,) 
may be inferred from the same verb in Hebrew 2 meaning " to 
prophesy" and " to be mad." The extravagance ascribed to 
Saul, that in prophesying he stripped off his clothes before 
Samuel, and lay down bare of raiment all day and all night, 
whatever doubt may rest on the narrative from its being a 
duplicate of a similar story, must have been borrowed from 
the manners of the age, and is mentioned without surprize or 
censure. Even later prophets are recorded to have walked 
naked 3 and barefoot, or to have lain upon one side sometimes 
for years, like the religious madmen of the East ; and some 

1 He, the god Chemosh. 

2 So Plato derives [navris fa diviner) from /icuj/etrflai (to be mad). 

3 I have been censured for using the word naked. I am told it means, 
" without one's jacket," as John xxi. 7. I have but innocently followed the 
received English version, and do not pretend to know exactly what it means, 
except that to the Hebrews themselves it appeared unseemly and more than 
undignified. My immediate allusion was to Isaiah xx. 2-4, where it says : 
"Loose the sackcloth from off thy loins," (which, I confess, suggests to me 
nakedness of the most shameful kind,) and adds : " naked and barefoot, with 
buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt" So in 2 Sam. vi. 20, Michal re- 
monstrating with David on his religious dancing, complains that he " uncovered 
himself in the eyes of the handmaids, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly 
uncovereth himself." I do not know how these expressions affect other minds. 
To me it is truly hard to imagine, that they imply no more than stripping the 
upper part of the body as a workman to relieve heat. 


proceedings yet more ambiguous are ascribed to them 1 . The 
habit of wearing a single coarse garment originally perhaps 
arose from real indigence ; but it gradually grew into an affec- 
tation, like the austere dress of monks and friars ; and in the 
later times of the monarchy, men who are stigmatized as "false 
prophets" are accused of assuming, for unworthy ends, the 
sanctified exterior of poverty. In fact, even concerning those 
who are regarded as true prophets, we hear occasionally of 
fanatical acts, which are not without analogy to the practice 
of the priests of Baal, who cut themselves with knives to assist 
in prophesying. For instance (1 Kings xx. 35, etc.), a pro- 
phet orders a man to wound him, and pronounces a solemn 
curse on him because he refuses ; and having induced another 
to obey, goes thus wounded to address the king of Israel. It 
might even seem (from Zech. xiii. 4-6) that wounds inflicted 
on the hands were, equally with the rough garment, an ordi- 
nary emblem of the prophet. 

So strong was the tendency of the vulgar to seek to pro- 
phets rather for a knowledge of the future, than for religious 
instruction, that it was scarcely possible to get rid of Divina- 
tion in all its forms ; which nevertheless the prophets endea- 
voured to reduce to those few which had most moral dignity. 
Against the various modes of enchantment and necromancy, 
to which the neighbouring religions were addicted, they pro- 
tested vehemently, as against a concealed idolatry. To con- 
sult the spirit of a dead man, or to watch the flight of birds, 
was at best to seek to the creature instead of the Creator ; and 
led to an indiscriminate adoption of other foreign supersti- 
tions. But they did not treat with the same severity all desire 
to penetrate into the secrets of futurity, provided that the 
Being consulted was none but Jehovah himself. We hear of 
four principal modes in which Jehovah was supposed to give 
responses (1 Sam. x. 20; xxviii. 6) by dreams, by Urim, by 
lot, and by prophecy. (1 .) It has always been a specious and 
favourite idea that the human soul, during sleep, passes into 
closer contact with the world of spirits, and is better fitted, 
than in waking hours, for receiving divine communications. 

1 Many commentators have wished to explain such deeds as done only in vi- 
sion, but their sole argument seems to be, that we ought not to believe anything 
so outrageous of those holy men as the literal interpretation states. Yet this 
appears to be hardly an adequate ground for rejecting a plain assertion, which 
does not in itself suggest that the transactions are visionary. 


Nice, distinctions indeed were drawn between dreams and 
visions by most early nations, but it is manifest that they can 
have had no very trustworthy criterion for judging to which 
of the two classes a particular appearance belonged. The 
learned Jews in later times have with one voice declared, that 
the highest species of prophecy was that, in which the divine 
spirit influenced the soul without throwing it into sleep or 
impairing its natural energies : nevertheless, visions seen in 
sleep were always recognized as one undoubted mode in which 
Jehovah made known his will and laid open the future ; and 
though it is probable that divine dreams were not regarded 
as confined to prophets, yet none were so eminent in this sort 
of revelation as they. (2.) Urim and Thummim was the name 
of a peculiar breastplate of precious stones worn by the High 
Priest, and employed by him to ask counsel of Jehovah. The 
imperfect explanation given of this apparatus in the Hebrew 
books, is in part cleared up by a collateral ornament employed 
by the Egyptians. We know from Diodorus (i. 48, 75) that 
the Chief Judge of Egypt carried on his breast an image 
symbolic of TRUTH, with its eyes shut 1 , formed of precious 
stones, and hung from his neck by a golden chain. The stones 
are said by ^Elian 2 to be of sapphire. As the words Urim 
and Thummim are rendered by the Alexandrian translators 
Ar)\w(i^ KOI *A\rj6eia, Manifestation and Truth, and indeed 
the Egyptian word is Thmei (Greek e/u?, the Goddess of 
Truth and Justice,), we cannot overlook the similarity. Ac- 
cording to the learned Alexandrian Jew Philo, the sacred 
breastplate of the Hebrews contained " images of the two 
virtues (or powers)"; which he is likely to have inferred in 
part from Egptian analogies : but how it was used to obtain 
omens, we are wholly ignorant. Two things may be alleged 
concerning this method. First, that the prophets felt no jea- 
lousy whatever against it, as in the slightest degree compro- 
mising the honour of Jehovah, who was professionally con- 
sulted by it. Secondly, that it cannot have been free from a 
large admixture of that, which we (surveying it from a higher 
point of view) are forced to regard as Superstition. The priest, 

1 See Gen. xli. 42. This appears to be the original of Justice with her eyes 
bandaged ; but the Hebrew conception may rather be, that the priest saw more 
distinctly with the inward eye, when his bodily eye was closed. (Compare Num. 
xxiv. 4.) 

2 Schweighaeuser in loco Diodori. 

c 3 


when seeking for an oracle,, first put on the sacred tippet, called 
the Ephod ; then, looked to the twelve precious stones which 
he wore on his breast ; and according to Josephus, found in 
the brilliancy of some of them an intelligible omen. (3.) The 
lot is recorded to have been used on many solemn occasions ; 
and, down to the latest times of the existence of Israel, it was 
firmly believed that God made replies by means of it. (4.) Fi- 
nally, the people resorted to the prophet, not merely as a moral 
teacher, but as a soothsayer, who would tell them of goods 
lost or stolen, and other convenient matters; and from this 
lower point of view (as it would seem) they called him a seer 
rather than a prophet 1 . In the times preceding Samuel the 
prophetical spirit had put forth so little influence on the nation, 
that the prevailing tendency with the ignorant was to view 
Samuel himself as only a seer ; and whatever degree of his- 
torical weight we attach to the events connected with Sau?s 
looking after the asses of Kish, it is clear that the story could 
not have originated, if it had not been a familiar belief that 
the seers were useful persons to consult on such affairs. From 
this time forth however they were gradually to assume a higher 
national importance. Their advice was asked on topics of 
great public moment, nor did they refuse it ; but their mode 
of seeking for a divine reply was not ceremonial or supersti- 
tious, however tinged with a high enthusiasm. The prophet 
either played on the lyre himself or (to judge by one distinct 
example) called for a minstrel to do so, and wrapt himself in 
pious meditation on the subject of inquiry; until, gaining an 
insight into its moral bearings and kindled by the melody, he 
delivered a response in high-wrought and generally poetical 

Such is the best general idea which we can get of the posi- 
tion and agency of those prophets, who from Samuel down- 
wards imparted to the history of Israel nearly all its peculiarity 
and all its value. Samuel himself indeed is more prominent 
in the history as Judge ; but in this character his influence, 
however beneficial, was only temporary : he could not imbue 
his successors with his own spirit. In fact, whether through 
a natural but unwise fatherly partiality, or from a real diffi- 
culty in continuing the government by any other than the 

1 Yet a seer is a man who has visions, like Ezekiel : thus in contrast to Nathan 
the prophet we have G-ad the seer and Iddo the seer (who saw visions against 
Jeroboam), 2 Chron. ix. 29, 


hereditary principle, Samuel put forward his own sons Joel 
and Abijah as his successors in the judicial office. That they 
were in name his assistants only, may be inferred from the 
seat of their tribunal. It was the town of Beersheba, on the 
southern frontier, which could never have been chosen as the 
chief place of administration. Nevertheless, their want of 
principle soon produced disastrous effects which were felt to 
the extreme north. Vexed perhaps to observe how long a 
life of service their father had given to his nation, without 
being able to bequeath to his family any monuments of mate- 
rial greatness, they rushed into a headlong career of bribery 
and perverse judgment. Fresh sufferings, which happened to 
be simultaneous, if indeed not a result of their misconduct, 
gave edge to the national resentment. Public enemies became 
once more formidable, and a new war of resistance seemed to 
be necessary. 

It is difficult from our existing materials to extract a dis- 
tinct and congruous narrative of these transactions. If it be 
true that when Saul commenced his reign, the Israelites had 
been forbidden by the Philistines to work at the smith's trade, 
it is manifest that they were under a severe bondage to them ; 
and the statement (1 Sam. xiii. 20) that " all the Israelites 
went down to the Philistines to sharpen every man his share, 
his coulter, his axe and his mattock," implies that the slavery 
was of some duration. Nevertheless our account (vii. 13, 14) 
here says broadly, that the Philistines were driven out from 
the Israelitish towns which they possessed in the south, and 
had no power over Israel " all the days of Samuel." More- 
over, all the transactions which follow, prove that Israel was 
now in possession of complete internal independence ; as will 
presently be more fully urged. 

It is however possible that the Philistines were making pre- 
parations which excited alarm; and still more likely that 
attack was foreseen from the side of the Ammonites. During 
the long peace which had been enjoyed under Samuel, the 
nation had been coalescing into unity and strength : the re- 
pose had been exceedingly important to it, but the disuse of 
martial exertions had also its present inconvenience. Samuel 
himself was in declining years, and had never borne any mili- 
tary character. The nation could not trust his sons to head 
them in a new and dangerous enterprize ; and the discontent 
felt against their malversation now assumed a practical form. 


The elders of Israel headed a deputation to Samuel, represent- 
ing their grievances in plain terms, and making the entirely 
new demand, that he would appoint over them a King, as a 
military leader against their hostile neighbours. 

The demand appears to have been equally unforeseen and 
unacceptable to Samuel, whose favourite idea had been, that 
Israel, resting under the protection of Jehovah and guided by 
his prophets, would not need to be governed like the heathen, 
and would be able to escape the evils of military rule. If 
Samuel in his own administration had discovered anything of 
the pride, the covetousness and the domineering spirit of a 
hierarch, or if he had invested an organized priesthood with 
supreme power, there might be room for the imputations 
which some modern writers have cast upon him. But, ac- 
cording to the statements transmitted to us (none of which 
appear in any way unlikely), there is no ground for impeach- 
ing the simplicity of his conduct. Nor need we suppose that 
he undervalued national independence : for if the independ- 
ence of Israel was to turn on their unity, and their unity on 
the exclusive worship of Jehovah, the advantage of a king, 
whose more imperious sway might force them to gather for 
battle, would be dearly bought, should he happen to be lax in 
religious principle. Moreover, without assuming that Samuel 
actually spoke in detail the speech assigned to him (1 Sam. 
viii. 11-18), which may seem to have gained edge from the 
experience of a somewhat later age, we know that he must 
have heard of Jephthah and Samson, to say nothing of Abime- 
lech, the son of Gideon 1 , whose characters might well make 
him adverse to elevate mere strength and military prowess 
into supreme authority. After a useless resistance to the 
national cry, he was at length convinced that the tide ran too 
strong for him to oppose ; and (according to the later narra- 
tive) he then at last received a positive and direct instruction 
from Jehovah, not only to comply with the general desire, but 

1 Samson's career is too overclouded with mystery to comment on ; he is 
represented as a hero of invincible strength, but without the slightest claim to 
any moral and intellectual superiority. Jephthah was a leader of freebooters, 
who engaged in civil war with the tribe of Ephraim, and perpetrated on them a 
dreadful massacre in cold blood ; who also, in pursuance of a heathenish vow, 
offered up his own daughter as a sacrifice to Jehovah. Under Gideon, the Is- 
raelitish nation presented something of the appearance of Oriental monarchy. 
Gideon had a large seraglio of wives and seventy-one sons ; of whom one, 
Abimelech, slew sixty-nine of his brothers, and made himself king for three 
years, when he was slain in an insurrection. 


also as to the individual whom he was to invest with the 
kingly office, SAUL, the son of Kish. He ordered a series 
of lots to be cast among the people ; whereupon the lot, mira- 
culously guided, picked out Saul from the myriads of Israel 
to be their King. 

That there is some great error in the still current belief of 
this transaction, is clear from its being impossible to harmo- 
nize the beginning and end of the narrative. The event shows 
that the choice had fallen on a wrong person, and that Saul 
was anything but the man whom God approved. Yet his 
whole character must have been seen from the beginning by 
the Allwise Ruler of Israel, with whom it is not conceivable 
that the election of so unfit a king can have originated. It 
becomes therefore highly doubtful whether Samuel, any more 
than Jehovah, ought to be regarded as chargeable with this 
erroneous choice. The general course of the history leads 
strongly to an opposite view, viz. that Saul was forced upon 
Samuel' by public enthusiasm, seconding the opinion of the 
elders of the tribe of Benjamin. That tribe had probably of 
late been gaining an unusual influence in all national move- 
ments, owing to the fact that the three towns in which Samuel 
conducted public affairs all belonged to Benjamin; which 
would give to their elders a superior organization and great 
facilities of communication with all Israel. That they should 
be disposed to bring forward as king a man of their own tribe, 
was natural ; and that they should select him for his bodily 
size and beauty, rose almost necessarily out of the circum- 
stances. In those days the king was the leader in war, and, 
as such, was expected to excel in personal strength, agility, 
and boldness. That battles were decided by individual prowess, 
is evident in the accounts of David's heroes, and cannot have 
been less true a generation earlier. A king was wanted, 
whose very presence would kindle the warlike enthusiasm of 
the nation : yet as Israel had for some time been without 
armies and without heroes, there was no old and celebrated 
warrior on whom it would be natural to fix. They selected 
therefore a young man of remarkable beauty and stature, a 
whole head taller than the common size of men. Saul, the 
son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, had hitherto known no 
loftier occupation that that of superintending his father's 
estate. This however was an office in high esteem ; and no 
sooner was he displayed to the collected multitudes, than his 


noble personal appearance satisfied all of his fitness for the 
royal duties. However little convinced by this argument 
Samuel may have been, and however painful his misgivings, 
it would have been the height of 'imprudence to bring forward 
a rival candidate. He probably tried to hope for the best, 
smothered his own doubts, and finally presented the new king 
for the people's acceptance in the most honourable manner, 
enforcing his claims by the only 1 argument which the case 

The first meeting on this subject between Samuel and the 
elders of Israel was at Ramah (or Arimathsea), where was 
Samuel's own house : the second, at which he presented Saul 
to the great assembly as king, was gathered at Mizpeh. Sa- 
muel however was careful to counteract the opinion, that the 
new king was to possess unlimited authority. He publicly 
expounded to the people the royal rights and privileges ; and 
not satisfied with this, committed the same to writing, and 
laid up the manuscript " before Jehovah :" by which we are 
probably to understand, that he committed it as a sacred de- 
posit to the custody of some leading priest. It is not probable 
that writing or even reading was at this time a common ac- 
complishment ; but there is no ground for questioning, that 
there was already sufficient knowledge among the more edu- 
cated few to make this act important to men's feelings. Thus 
Saul, the first Hebrew monarch, commenced his reign as a 
constitutional king, freely chosen by the nation, sanctioned 
by the prophets of Jehovah, and responsible to the animad- 
versions of both prophet and priest, if he transgressed the 
limits assigned him. 

In pursuing his reign into its details, although our mate- 
rials are multiplied, the difficulty of using them is great, owing 
to their fragmentary character. Some of the documents appear 
to be duplicates of others, representing events in substance the 
same, but with variations sufficiently notable ; others involve 
incongruities which cannot always be removed by help of trans- 
position. In short, we are by no means as yet in the region 
of contemporary and clear history. 

1 That is, by the argument of Ms nolle personal appearance (1 Sam. x. 24). 
The 'North British Review' informs its readers that I represent Samuel as 
having pretended a divine commission for the anointing of Saul (No. 35, p. 151). 
This is simply false ; but the Editor refused to publish my disavowal of this 
and other imputations. 


On the very face of the narrative as above given, a question 
obtrudes itself: Why does an air of independence pervade the 
whole transaction of choosing a king; without a single fear 
implied, that armed Philistines would come down and break 
up the unarmed assembly ? If their dominion was at this 
time so overwhelming, as to be able to enforce the rigorous 
prohibition of sharp weapons, the assembly cannot have 
taken place in spite of them, or without their knowledge. 
Many reasons combine to make us suppose that the passage 
in 1 Sam. xiii. 19, out of which the inconsistency arises, 
has unwittingly attributed to these times, what can only 
have been true at an earlier sera, and of a small portion of 
Israel. A later generation, grateful for the military services 
which Saul really rendered, or seeking to justify Samuel's 
supposed choice of him, may have unawares exaggerated the 
difficulties with which in the opening of his reign he had to 

The very first event recorded is an expedition against the 
Ammonites (ch. xi.), which is represented as pacifying a par- 
tial discontent at the election of Saul, and ends by confirming 
him in the kingdom. The narrative is so compacted as quite 
to resist such a dislocation as would be needed, if we wished 
to delay the Ammonite campaign until after chapters xiii. 
and xiv. Moreover, the date assigned to the defeat of the 
Philistines (chap. xiii. 1) is explicit. It was in Saul's second 
year : which makes it clear that the writer who finally wove 
the narrative together, intended the Ammonite invasion to be 
in the first year. Nevertheless, it is manifest in the battle 
with the Ammonites that the Israelites were well-armed, 
though in the later transaction they are described as having 
been for some time disarmed by Philistine policy. 

On closer examination we find abundant grounds for re- 
garding chapters xiii. and xiv. to be of inferior historical value 
to those which precede them. These two chapters in fact 
make a whole in themselves, bearing almost an epical charac- 
ter, with little that marks sober history. The narrative has 
all the vividness and detail which characterizes romance, but 
cannot be reduced with the limits of reality. It opens with 
assigning to Saul an army of three thousand men, without 
hinting that they were mere bowmen or slingers ; yet after- 
wards it states that no one of them all, except Saul and Jona- 
than, had either sword or spear. The host of the Philistines 


which opposes such a motley crowd is clearly unhistorical, 
" thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and 
people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude." 
The passage (xiii. 8-14) which describes the quarrel of Saul 
with Samuel appears to be a duplicate of a transaction in 
ch. xv., with which it is not easily compatible. Moreover, 
the offence which Samuel is represented as taking at SauPs 
offering sacrifice is not merely unreasonable, but unintelli- 
gible ; and as a ground for so serious a schism at such a time, 
frivolous, if not factious and infatuated. To sacrifice was as 
much the right or duty of Saul as of Samuel, who affected 
not the priestly office ; and to elevate a petty ceremonial affair 
of this sort into the basis of Samuel's feud with Saul, indi- 
cates the misconception of a later time, when the priestly 
power had given far greater weight to such matters, when 
kings had ceased to officiate at the altar, and when it had 
become a cherished notion that Samuel was a Levite. Nor 
could Saul have been " a choice young man and a goodly 1 " 
when elected to the throne, if his son Jonathan had been a 
formidable warrior in the very next year. That Jonathan and 
his armour-bearer, two men, should storm a Philistine garri- 
son with much slaughter, that a great earthquake should 
follow, and that hereupon the Philistines, instead of resisting 
their assailants or simply taking to flight, should begin, both 
in the garrison and in their vast army, to slay one another, 
until Saul and his people, coming up, continued the massacre 
with whatever weapons they had, is a story on which criti- 
cism would be wasted, considering that it is of unknown au- 
thorship and date. The romantic curse of Saul on all who 
should taste food that day, and the involuntary breach of it by 
Jonathan, who dipped his cane into some wild honey, is evi- 
dent poetry. That Jehovah should sanction Saul's curse, and 
in displeasure at Jonathan should refuse to give any oracle, 
and, when Saul discerned that some one had " sinned," should 
then guide the lot to fall on Jonathan, all this gives a view 
of Jehovah' s moral attributes, in which it might seem impos- 
sible that any Christian should acquiesce. The closing sum- 
mary of SauVs successes " against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the 
kings of Zobah and the Philistines," are apparently borrowed 

1 This description evidently implies youthful beauty. Soldiers are no doubt 
called " young men " in many tongues, as long as they retain full activity for 
running : but such an interpretation is here out of place. 


from David's reign, and at least cannot have been true of Saul, 
who was feeble against the Philistines, and utterly unable to 
compete with the distant and formidable Zobahites 1 . In 
short, the more these two chapters are studied, the less his- 
torical value do they seem to have. We cannot then, in 
deference to their authority, believe what draws after it so 
many difficulties, as that Israel was under any such subjection 
to the Philistines at the commencement of Saul's reign as 
these chapters state. 

We have seen that the first great danger broke out against 
Israel, not from the Philistines, but from the Ammonites, 
whose king Nahash marched up against Jabesh in Gilead 
with a very superior force. The tribes east of the Jordan 
were probably always safe from the attacks of the Philistines ; 
but they were proportionably exposed to the Moabites and 
Ammonites, and could seldom hope for zealous succour from 
the western tribes, whom they often deserted in the hour of 
danger. Now, however, finding that Nahash demanded con- 
ditions outrageous and unbearable, they sent to ask speedy 
help of Saul ; and it appears more than probable, that this 
was the very danger to avert which the election of a king had 
been determined on. Saul received the messengers of Jabesh 
in his own house at Gibeah, and learning the urgency of the 
case, performed a barbarous but expressive ceremony. Having 
with his own hand hewed two oxen in pieces, he sent morsels 
of their limbs into every part of Israel, with the threat, 
" Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, 
so shall it be done unto his oxen 2 /' From the urgency with 
which Saul thus commanded every man who could bear arms 
to assemble against the Ammonites, we may safely deduce 
that there was no pressing and immediate danger from the 

1 Another statement, which is very positively made, is of suspicious accuracy. 
It is said that " the ark of God " was at this time with Saul in the camp, under 
the care of Ahiah, son of Ahitub ; which does not naturally harmonize with 
other accounts. 

2 The narrative proceeds to state, that the whole host of Israel which actu- 
ally assembled was 300,000, " and the men of Judah 30,000." This distinction 
of the tribe of Judah here and elsewhere, denotes that the account was penned 
at a later time, when the tribe of Judah was elevated to the place of royalty. 
The Vatican LXX. has 600,000 and 70,000. Josephus says there were 700,000 
without the men of Judah, who alone were 70,000. The round numbers of 
themselves betray that it is all theory ; and in fact, credulity on this matter 
was perpetually on the growth, in proportion to the distance of the writer from 
the facts. 


Philistines. The men of Jabesh Gilead are represented as 
having deluded the Ammonites by a stratagem of war. Saul 
had assured them of succour ' ' tomorrow, by the time that 
the sun is hot." Accordingly, they promised the Ammonites 
at that very time to come out and surrender at discretion ; it 
being understood that a truce of seven days which had been 
made was to continue until then. While however the Am- 
monites were intent upon the townsmen, expecting their sur- 
render, they were attacked from behind by three companies, 
and were utterly routed, so that no army at all could be kept 
together 1 . 

After this easy and sudden success there could be no ques- 
tion of SauFs being received as king. The eastern tribes had 
effectually been won over. A cry next arose to punish all 
who had opposed his election, but he had the prudence or 
magnanimity to crush this spirit at once ; and with the sanc- 
tion of Samuel his kingly rights were now confirmed at Gilgal. 
The prophet however took care to add a new protest against 
tyranny and irreligion, under the form of a solemn appeal to 
the people as to the example which he had set during his own 
administration. The energetic exhortation with which he closed, 
is not likely to have pleased the haughty Saul, already, it is 
probable, puffed up with his successes ; more especially if we 
can rest on the letter of the statement, that Samuel plainly 
declared the people " to have committed a great sin against 
Jehovah" in desiring to have a king. The extreme impru- 
dence and utter uselessness of such a statement at such a 
time, may make us pause before we attribute it to the aged 
and experienced prophet : and it is, in fact, a speech more 
likely to have been written after the event, when Saul had 
become an avowed enemy of the priesthood. It is neverthe- 
less in every way probable, that as Samuel saw through the 
vainglorious and empty king, so the latter already felt that he 
was anything but a favourite with Samuel. While outwardly 
concordant, the sparks of a fierce feud were already burning 
between the two. 

The annalists of these events were persuaded; that at first 
Samuel selected Saul by free preference or divine order; 

1 If Nahash was king of the Ammonites in the first year of Saul, and his son 
Hanun succeeded him in the middle of David's reign, we can scarcely allow 
more than twenty years for the reign of Saul. Yet we cannot perfectly trust 
the name of Nahash. 


hence they seem to have been driven to speculate on some 
definite act committed by Saul, which changed the prophet's 
mind. One tradition said, that it was because Saul sacrificed 
on a certain occasion at Gilgal, when Samuel failed of being 
punctual to the day he had appointed. Another ascribed it 
to Saul's disobedience in an affair concerning the Amalekites. 
It is requisite to narrate the latter distinctly, difficult as it is 
to ascertain how much of it has been correctly represented. 

The Amalekites, as was said, dwelt and roved along the 
southern border of Israel. According to the description of 
the text, their abodes were " from Havilah to Shur " (1 Sam. 
xv. 7) , which agrees with a part of the region over which the 
Ishmaeiites encamped (Gen. xxv. 18) . They are generally 
regarded as a branch of the Edomites, but their name is as 
old as Abraham : their chief locality must at any rate have 
been between Idumsea and Egypt. Though they reached to 
the south of the Philistines, they penetrated into immediate 
contact with the tribe of Judah ; and in fact, the town of 
Arad and the whole southern portion of that tribe, seems 
originally to have belonged to the Amalekites (Num. xiv. 45, 
xxi. 1-3). It was remembered, that great opposition had 
been offered by Amalek, when the Israelites, coming out of 
Egypt, endeavoured to enter Canaan. A simple and probable 1 
account (/. c.) represents them as repulsed by the Amalekites 
on their first attempt to enter; an indirect consequence of 
which repulse was, a tedious and disastrous delay in the wil- 
derness. A burning hatred is alleged to have been left be- 
hind, a first result of which was a voluntary and savage vow 
of exterminating the population of that district (Num. xxi. 
2, 3), which was hence named Hormah, or Desolation. A 
second result was, the genesis 2 of new tales of Amalekite 
wickedness, such as should justify this cruel retribution. One 
of these is found in Exod. xvii. where the Israelites are at- 

1 Since scattered portions of the Amalekite nation, or tribes called Amalekites 
from having similar habits, moved about the desart between Palestine or Idu- 
msea and Egypt, it is likely enough that collisions took place between them and 
the Israelites during the wanderings of the latter. If the host of men, women, 
children, and beasts was a tithe of the received account, its approach to the 
springs and pastures of the Amalekites would be resented as an injurious rob- 
bery. Affrays rising out of such matters may have furnished a hint for the 
accounts in Exod. xvii. and Deut. xxv. 

2 Some of my critics need to be told that genesis does not mean wilful and 
conscious forgery, but a growth out of the national heart. 


tacked at Rephidim, in the heart of Mount Sinai, by an army of 
Amalekites. The latter are nevertheless discomfited by Joshua, 
and a solemn curse of JEHOVAH against Amalek is then re- 
corded, with his equally solemn vow that HE (and therefore 
his people) will have war with Amalek from generation to 
generation, and will blot out the remembrance of him from 
under heaven. The fictitiousness of the details is transparent. 
At Rephidim, we are told, the Israelites would have perished 
from thirst, but for a miraculous supply of water from the 
stony rock : yet the Amalekites voluntarily march through 
this desart to assail them, at a great distance from their 
frontier. The host of Israel came out of Egypt unarmed, 
yet now they destroy Amalek " with the edge of the sword/' 
Joshua also is named as their leader ; yet according to the 
tenor of the rest of the narrative, Joshua was undistinguished 
and unheard of until a later time. The miraculous tale loses 
all moral greatness, through the clumsy machinery of prayer, 
not more spiritual than that of a Tartar prayer-mill. Moses, 
it is said, was so tired of holding up his hands, that Aaron 
and Hur were forced to help in supporting them, with a view 
to ensure the victory to Israel. Finally, the curse pronounced 
on generations of Amalekites yet unborn, on account of a sin 
committed by relatives of their ancestors, is quite out of cha- 
racter with the true Jehovah, ' ' the Father of mercies and God 
of all comfort." Another tale against Amalek is found in 
Deut. xxv. 17, which recounts his unavenged cruelty, " How 
he met thee by the way (out of Egypt), and smote the hind- 
most of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou 
wast faint and weary ; and he feared not God." The moral 
however is the same ; a positive command ee not to forget " 
or forgive, but to "blot out the remembrance of Amalek 
under heaven," whenever Israel should have the power. 

That time was now arrived. As our accounts state, Samuel 
stirred up Saul to attack the Amalekites, adding the strict 
charge that he should destroy all their cattle, as well as all the 
human population. Saul partially obeyed. Having advised 
the Kenites 1 to withdraw from among the Amalekites and 
not to share their evil lot, he fulfilled to the letter the mur- 
derous command against the people of Amalek, but saved 
their king Agag, and the best of their cattle. Upon this 

1 The tribe of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses. 


Samuel uttered against him the bitterest rebuke ; scornfully 
rejected his excuse that he had saved the cattle for sacrifice 
to Jehovah; and when Saul humbly confessed his sin and 
begged for pardon, gave him no milder reply than, that, as 
he had rejected the word of Jehovah, Jehovah had rejected 
him from being king over Israel. All this is described as pass- 
ing in private : afterwards, to keep up appearances with the 
people, Samuel joined Saul in a public sacrifice. This finished, 
the prophet sent for the Amalekite king, and with his own 
hand et hewed him in pieces before Jehovah in Gilgal." 

This account has nothing in it very difficult to believe, ex- 
cept that it gives a much harsher and darker view of Samuel's 
character than the general narrative justifies. It may be 
urged : If the unknown writer of this account could admire 
the conduct here attributed to Samuel, why may not Samuel 
himself also have thought it wise, noble and merciful so to 
behave ? The possibility of it cannot be denied ; yet there 
are circumstances which may modify this view. First, it is 
manifest 'from later events that the Amalekites were not all 
destroyed by Saul. Indeed this nation, destined so solemnly 
to extirpation, shows great tenacity of life : for in ch. xxvii., 
some twenty years later, David, when living with Achish at 
Gath, has again utterly to destroy the neighbouring Amalek- 
ites ; in spite of which they are presently strong enough to re- 
taliate on Ziklag (ch. xxx.) ; and when a second time defeated 
by David, "there escaped not a man of them, except four hun- 
dred young men which rode upon camels" (v. 17) . If 400 was 
a small fraction, it is evident that the army was a powerful 
one ; and that Saul's invasion, however murderous in intent, 
effected its object very partially. Again, unless we knew that 
Samuel himself had penned the narrative, we could have no 
strong ground for receiving as certain the conversation which 
went on in private between him and Saul : while, that the ac- 
count comes from a later hand, may appear from the enumera- 
tion of the host of Israel (v. 4) "in all 200,000 men, of whom 
10,000 belonged to Judah 1 ." This careful attention to Judah 
denotes that the tribe and house of David was already in the 
ascendant ; and if so, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the 
address put iiito the mouth of Samuel has been highly co- 

1 We do not insist that such a host must have starved, if absent from home 
more days than they could carry provisions for. The numbers in the Vatican 
LXX. are 400,000 and 30,000 ; but Josephus makes the latter 40,000. 


loured by the writer's knowledge of the after-events. Such 
language indeed might have stirred up Saul to an awful crime 
against the prophet' s life, but could have no tendency to be- 
nefit him. Splendid 1 though it be as a piece of rhetoric, it is 
eminently unlikely to have proceeded from a wise and aged 
man, experienced in public concerns ; while it is exactly such 
a speech as a zealous lover of the Levitical law might compose 
for Samuel in the leisure of the closet at a later time. This 
may lead us farther to doubt, whether the expedition against 
the Amalekites was at all originated by Samuers urgency; 
since even if he was merely passive in it, the writer's zeal 
would probably attribute to Samuel as an honour, that he was 
Jehovah's instrument in exciting Saul. 

On the whole, it is credible that the following more tame 
account comes nearer to the truth. The Israelites had often 
been engaged in petty hostilities with their roving Amalekite 
neighbours, and Saul now undertook " a religious war" against 
them, intending their thorough extirpation. Samuel's sanc- 
tion to the expedition was given, with the proviso that the 
cattle should be slain as well as the human beings; since this 
was the best guarantee that mere cupidity should not assume 
religious or patriotic zeal as its cloak. Saul however would 
not or could not prevail on his people to execute this condi- 
tion ; and the Amalekite cattle were preserved as a valuable 
spoil, to the very manifest and stern displeasure of Samuel. 
Nor only so ; but when Saul had spared Agag the king, and 
none beside, the prophet looked on this as a germ of union 
between the king of Israel, as a king, and foreign monarchs ; 
and was intensely jealous lest Saul should think more of his 
order than of his nation. In the same spirit do we afterwards 
find a prophet threaten Ahab for his tenderness towards the 
king of Syria (1 Kings xx. 42), whom he had styled "bro- 
ther." That under such a feeling Samuel should " hew Agag 

1 The c North British Review' was shameless enough to convert this sentence 
into the following, " It is too forcible and eloquent for an old man" and pro- 
ceeded calmly to comment on my singular ignorance that old men are sometimes 
eloquent, as old Sophocles, etc. When I protested against the false sentiment, 
as well as false quotation, (for he ought to have said " too rash and hot-headsd" 
not, too eloquent,} the Eeviewer stiffly denied that he had misinterpreted me ; 
and the Editor, while apologizing for the false quotation-marks, refused to avow 
that my sense had not been conveyed. The reviewer had learned logic from the 
Archbishop of Dublin, who, it seems, advised him that " though" means " inas- 
much as" 


in pieces before Jehovah,," however opposed to the merciful 
spirit of Christ's religion, had nothing in it to shock the sen- 
sitiveness of the Jew, more than of the Greek or Roman. 
The deed nevertheless was a distinct public proof that the king 
had forfeited the confidence of the prophet. Thenceforth 
Samuel kept apart from the royal counsels-; while Saul became 
low-spirited and suspicious, fearing that the influence of the 
prophet would now be turned against him. 

This was in fact the case, if we accept our narrative in its 
obvious sense ; nor was there any flinching from the last step 
of that, which is politically called Treason 1 . Samuel is re- 
presented as proceeding straightway to elect and anoint as 
king, though in domestic privacy, a youth of the tribe of 
Judah, David, son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Neverthe- 
less, no practical result followed, and the act, if performed, 
was a barren type. The brothers of David did not guess at 
any superiority conferred by it on him. The youth himself, 
although devoted to the prophetical influence, appears long 
after wholly unconscious that this high authority has invested 
him with regal power ; on the contrary, he both expresses and 
shows a devoted loyalty to Saul. If therefore Samuel ever 
anointed David, it must have been in such a way that no one 
imagined the act to have the meaning which was afterwards 
assigned to it. Nay, in the earlier days of David's intercourse 
with his royal patron, no one appears to have whispered 
against the young man, that Samuel had anointed him as 
Saul's rival. We must therefore in reason exculpate Samuel 
of having intended to excite regal hopes in David or loyal 
feelings in others towards him ; and if so, it becomes more 
than doubtful whether he at all performed so useless a cere- 
mony. Afterwards indeed, when David had set aside the 
pretensions of Saul's sons, nothing would be easier than the 
propagation of a belief that the authority of the holy Samuel 
had been given to the youthful David ; an authority so much 
the more revered, when the distant report of his tranquil and 
successful administration was contrasted with the recent sad 

1 It may seem too obvious to remark, that if the deed was not in itself justi- 
fiable, it cannot be justified by pleading the command of Jehovah. The whole 
theory is self-contradictory. Jehovah had made Saul king, and not a mere un- 
derling to Samuel ; and " the Strength of Israel is not a man that he should 
repent." Samuel would never have felt the repugnance which he testified to 
the electing of Saul, if he had been only choosing one who was to be to him 
what Joshua was to Moses. 


experience of Saul's declining years. In short, therefore, 
whether there was any connexion (at least at this time) be- 
tween Samuel and David, is extremely problematical. 

When the breach between the prophet and the king had 
become public, a change in the royal policy might have been 
easily anticipated. -In the beginning of his reign Saul had 
acted the part of a zealous Jehovist, in so far as to put to 
death the wizards and witches, and all pretenders to divina- 
tion by foreign gods. Upon his eldest son he bestowed the 
name Jonathan (or, Jehovah hath given) . His second son is 
variously called Ishui and Abinadab, and his third Malchishua ; 
names which suggest no particular remark. But his youngest 
legitimate son received the name of Eshbaal (or, the man of 
Baal?), while the only son of Jonathan was called Meribbaal 
(or, the contest of Baal ?) . That these appellations were looked 
on with disgust by the Jehovist party, may be inferred from 
their ordinarily changing them into Ish-bosheth (the man of 
shame) and Mephibosheth (perhaps, the mouth or opening of 
shame) ; it being the habit of later times to change the name 
Baal (master) into Bosheth (shame) 1 . We may with high 
probability infer that SauTs later policy was to foster the 
worshippers of foreign deities, as a counterpoise to the influ- 
ence of the prophets, which was now turned against him. 
With the progress of events, he fell into a still more deadly 
feud, as we shall see, with the priestly body. 

The first introduction of David to Saul was brought about 
by the young man's skill as a minstrel; and since this was 
after Jonathan was grown up, it is clear that we have no re- 
cord whatever of about the first fifteen years of Saul's reign, 
except his battle with the Ammonites and his war against the 
Amalekites. Beyond a doubt there had also been obstinate 
warfare with the Philistines, although we have nothing extant 
concerning it except the echo contained in the 13th and 14th 
chapters of the 1st book of Samuel. Another eminently epical 
chapter (ch. xvii.) has described their formidable array; and 
especially how their champion, Goliath of Gath, a giant six 
cubits and a half high, whose spear's head 2 weighed 600 
shekels of iron and his coat of mail 5000 shekels of brass, 

1 Thus in 2 Sam. xi. 21, Jerublaal is turned into Jerublesheih ; and in 
Hosea ix. 10, Sosheth (shame) is used, where Baal seems to be intended. 

2 The sword of Groliath is afterwards spoken of (in sober prose) as not too 
heavy for David's use. This, no doubt, is the truer acccount. 


defied the host of Israel day by day. It is in many ways 
manifest that the Israelites and Philistines, as the Homeric 
Greeks, and as the Persians in purely historical times, or 
the Europeans during the Crusades, fought as individual 
warriors, the art of tactics being unknown. A general was 
little more than a very brave and sturdy soldier, whose single 
prowess was feared by every one of the adversaries ; and if 
he slew an opposite champion, it often produced consterna- 
tion in the whole hostile army. By inroads at various times, 
the Philistines had exceedingly alarmed Israel, and had dis- 
quieted the mind of Saul ; who saw that the high object for 
which he had been elected, remained unfulfilled. Israel was 
not delivered by his hand ; and the chief of the prophets had 
withdrawn from him. His vainglorious mind sank into de- 
spondency through ill-success, as easily as it had been puffed 
up by victory; and superstition or remorse began to prey 
upon him. To relieve his fits of melancholy, a minstrel was 
sought out ; and this was no other than the son of Jesse : a 
youth whose susceptibility to music was doubtless closely con- 
nected with his devotion to the religion of Samuel, and with 
his own generous kindling nature. He soon attracted the 
personal affection of Saul, and as he added martial accomplish- 
ments to his harper's skill, it was clear that he was destined 
for high promotion. Saul, in fact, requested to have him as 
his constant attendant, and made him his armour-bearer. 

In following the steps of David's elevation, we enter upon 
the legend just alluded to ; his slaughter of Goliath in single 
combat. The chapter which describes this, bears in many 
respects the marks of romance, and is quite irreconcileable 
with the rest of the history. It gives a totally new and in- 
compatible account of his first introduction to Saul. It makes 
him to be a stripling unpractised in arms and unused to the 
weight of armour ; whereas he was before 1 described as " a 
mighty valiant man and a man of war." It further states that 
David carried the head of Goliath to Jerusalem ; a city which 

1 This sentence remains as in my first edition. The 'North British Keview,' 
No. 31, p. 125, pretending to quote me, changes " before" into afterwards (in 
Italics,) and adds : " As reasonably might it be urged that the accounts of our 
ancestors' skill as archers must be false, because their descendants are now re- 
nowned for the use of fire-arms." The Editor here also (as in everything else) 
refused to inform the readers that my disavowal was just. It is a dreadful 
symptom, when such falsehood is thought to be the legitimate way of doing God 


for many years after was in the hands of a hostile people, a 
branch of the Jebusites 1 : showing that the account was first 
penned long after David had made Jerusalem the sacred city of 
Israel, and that there was abundant time for oral tradition to 
generate a mere romance. Nevertheless, although the details 
appear to be fabulous, it is credible enough that David may 
have slain with his own hand the Philistine champion Goliath, 
the belief of which runs through the record. That he slew 
him with sling and stone may seem to have been a deduc- 
tion from the rumour that David was at the time a simple 
shepherd. Be this as it may, from this moment the whole 
narrative of Saul's reign is merged in the fortunes of David; 
than which there cannot be a more decided proof how frag- 
mentary and doubtful are our materials for a history of this 
king. No reverential tenderness was felt towards the fallen 
dynasty by the historians who lived under the house of David ; 
and if documents were extant which might have illustrated 
the reign of Saul, they were neglected, except so far as they 
tended to honour David or to justify the exclusion of Saul 
from the throne. The solitary exception is found in the vic- 
tory over the Ammonites, by which Saul was confirmed in the 
kingdom ; which seems to be regarded as exculpating Samuel's 
choice of him. Under such circumstances, we are forced to 
follow our meagre materials, and briefly to sketch the early 
career of David during the reign of Saul. 

When David had engaged and slain the formidable Philis- 
tine champion, the hostile army was as usual panic-struck 
and fled. Much slaughter ensued ; David distinguished him- 
self in the pursuit ; and on his return, as if to ascribe to Je- 
hovah the honour of his victory, he laid up the sword of 
Goliath with Ahimelech, then the head of the priestly family 
descended from Eli. He was welcomed with the warmest 
admiration by Saul, and with affectionate friendship by Jona- 
than, Saul's eldest son; and from this time forth he became 
more and more prominent among the champions of Israel. 
But the brilliancy of David's achievements soon kindled jea- 
lousy in the king, who foresaw too distinctly that if David 
won for Israel the liberation from Philistine attack, for which 

1 The Vatican LXX. has recourse to the desperate method of cutting out 
large parts from the text in order to reduce the narrative to coherence ; but 
even this has by no means been successful. English critics once tried large 
transposition ; but that method is as hopeless, and seems now to be abandoned. 


Saul had striven in vain, the reigning house must be very 
unsafe, especially when the prophets were disinclined to it. 
The affection of Jonathan for David only exasperated the 
monarch's fears, who looked on his son as one who was madly 
throwing away his own prospects of the crown. Neverthe- 
less, the popular favour towards David could not be rudely 
stemmed. Saul therefore debated, whether he might not gain 
David as a prop to his family by uniting him to his eldest 
daughter Merab. Through irresolution he broke off this plan, 
when it had already transpired; and again perhaps medi- 
tated craftily to degrade David. But as the youth continued 
to win all hearts, the king adopted a still more insidious 
course, of offering him (it is said) his younger daughter in 
marriage, on the chivalric condition of his slaying 100 Phi- 
listines in battle. David promptly overdid the proposal, and 
having slain 200, laid his proofs 1 of the fact before the king. 
Hereby he earned Michal as his bride, but with her, the 
implacable and deadly enmity of her father. 

After this, we enter on a new period of uncertainty ; that 
of David's persecution by Saul. The only account which we 
have is in many respects questionable 2 ; if however we try 

1 The barbarity, to us so disgusting, of exhibiting the foreskins of Philistines 
in proof of the reality of slaughter, has its parallel in the scalps of the North 
American Indians and skulls of many savage tribes. It seems to indicate the 
intensity of national feeling, with which this war of independence was prose- 
cuted by the Israelites. At the same time, it is a pretty good proof that the 
Philistines were the only uncircumcised nation in those parts ; else the test 
would have been delusive. 

2 Three separate attempts to assassinate David while sitting at table are 
ascribed to Saul, in nearly the same words (ch. xviii. 11, and xix. 10), as if a 
man whose life had been thus sought, would so expose himself again. The 
attempt in ch. xviii. is so manifestly premature and a duplicate account, that it 
has been freely expunged by the Vatican LXX. Notwithstanding this, and 
other more inveterate efforts to arrest David's person (xix. 11, 20, 21,) Jonathan 
is immediately after wholly incredulous that his father has any evil designs 
against David (xx. 3) ; and Saul is surprized to find that David does not occupy his 
usual place at the new moon (v. 26, 27). Finally, Jonathan first discovers his 
father's deadly intentions, by the latter hurling his javelin at David's empty 
seat (v. 33). Not only does this imply no overt attack on David's life to have been 
previously made ; but we have here a probable indication, that the story of the 
thrice-attempted assassination is a mere exaggeration of the last-named display 

f , i: ~\r j ? j _ - _i_- ji _ i* _j* ii- _ 

trast 1 Sam. x. 12. with xix. 24.) Since both of these accounts cannot 
assign the correct origin of the proverb, it is possible that neither may. An- 
other credible source of it is exhibited inadvertently in 1 Sam. xviii. 10, where 

D 2 


to gather up the trustworthy points, we may perhaps find the 
following to be historical. Michal suspected that Saul har- 
boured evil designs, and warned her husband (xix. 11) not to 
trust himself to Saul's messengers, when they came with 
peaceful pretensions; upon which David withdrew into re- 
tirement, and possibly sought the counsel of Samuel and other 
prophets. Jonathan however could not be persuaded that 
there was any danger, and besought David to return to court ; 
which the latter refused. When Samuel inquired why David 
was not in his seat at table on the first and second day of the 
new moon, Jonathan pretended that he was accidentally absent 
in consequence of a feast at Bethlehem ; at which Saul, whose 
conscience told him that this was not the true reason, was so 
enraged as to dart his javelin at the empty seat. The truth 
was now manifested to Jonathan, who sent word to David to 
beware. The latter had already for some time had a peculiar 
body-guard, those perhaps who were chiefly round his person 
in battle, as he was both a general and the king' s son-in-law : 
with these he proceeded hastily to Ahimelech 1 , the chief priest, 

Saul, when enraged against David, is said (in the English version) to have 
"prophesied in the midst of the house." Beyond a doubt the Hebrew word here 
means he raved ; but as in later times this sense was almost unknown, the idea 
of Saul's " prophesying" may have risen out of some misunderstanding on the 
subject. A double and inconsistent account is found of David's abode at the court 
of Achish king of Grath (xxi. 10-15, and xxvii.), of which the former seems to 
be wrong in chronology. Twice also it is told how David spared Saul's life 
under circumstances peculiarly romantic and unlikely to recur (xxiv. andxxvi.). 
Each event is preceded by an attempt of the men of Ziph to betray David ; 
each is followed by a solemn reconciliation ; and in the former, David makes 
oath by Jehovah that when he shall become king he will not cut off the seed of 
Saul (xxiv. 21, 22) ; an oath wholly unknown to a writer of a later part of the 
history (2 Sam. xxi. 7-9). Strange to say, the latter reconciliation and the solemn 
blessing of Saul on David (xxvi. 25) does but make David despair of safety and 
determine to leave the land of Israel entirely (xxvii. 1) ; so disjointed is the 
whole account. Immediately after his first flight from Saul, David is described 
as betaking himself to Samuel at Raman ; whereupon Samuel and he leave 
Ramah and take up their dwelling at Naioth. The narrative then states (xix. 
18-24), that Saul's messengers and Saul himself were thrice miraculously foiled 
in an attempt to seize David there. Nevertheless, the miracles appear to have 
been very partially effectual ; for David instantly leaves Naioth as if insecure. 

1 Our account states that none of his men were armed ; which excited the 
surprize of Ahimelech ; and that David was glad to borrow for himself the 
sword of Goliath. Why or how this should be, is not explained. We may at 
any rate infer that Ahimelech had been previously used to see him attended by 
an armed guard. 

About this time it is credible that David composed the llth psalm, as appli- 
cable to his forlorn state. It seems to be his earliest extant composition, and 
gives a beautiful view of his resigned self-possession. 


at Nob, on his way to the strongholds of the hill-country of 
Judah, where the authority of Saul was weak, and the border 
tribes within easy reach. His first care was to carry his 
parents over into the Moabite country, and commit them to 
the good faith of the Moabite king, whose people seems for a 
long time to have kept up a friendly connexion with Israel. 
That he did not stay in Moab himself, may show that from 
this moment he had determined, if not to contest the king- 
dom with Saul (which his friendship for Jonathan forbad), 
yet to measure force against him and reduce him to some 
secure conditions of peace. Yet it is also credible that the 
king of Moab may have feared to involve his people in war 
by protecting David himself. Be this as it may, David now 
undisguisedly assumed the character of a freebooter, and in- 
vited all to join him who could strengthen his little army. 
According to the narrative in 1 Sam. xxvi., Abishai, son of 
David's sister, and probably Joab his brother, came at this 
time of distress to David's side, if indeed they were not pre- 
viously in his body-guard. Moreover, " every one who was 
in distress, or in debt, or discontented/' nocked around him ; 
and he had soon a band of 400 men, which gradually swelled 
into 600. He employed them in protecting the cattle on the 
wild and open country from the hostilities of marauding neigh- 
bours Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, and others ; and as his 
reward, received tributes of food and other necessaries from 
the sheep-masters, which were generally paid with good will, 
but when otherwise, were summarily enforced (xxv. 34). 

Meanwhile, Saul regarded him as no longer a domestic 
rival, but as a robber and public enemy; and proceeded to 
treat all who harboured him as traitors. His first dreadful 
wrath fell upon Nob, where Ahimelech had given provisions 
to David's retinue, using the sacred show-bread for this pur- 
pose. Nob, at a very short distance to the north of Jerusa- 
lem, was at this time the chief town of the priests, where the 
customary ceremonies to Jehovah went on day by day, in 
spite of the absence of both ark and tabernacle 1 . In Nob the 
head of the house of Eli enjoyed the priestly veneration which 
Samuel had not sought to appropriate ; and by the public li- 
berality directed to this centre of worship, a large number of 

1 The ark seems to have remained at Kirjathjearim, with the family of Abi- 
nadab, " who dwelt on the hill." The ridge ended in the greater elevation of 
Gibeon, where also was the tabernacle and the high altar of burnt offering. 


priestly families were enabled to live together. Saul now re- 
solved to terrify all from the cause of David by a tremendous 
example, and ordered a general massacre, not of the priests 
only, but of every living thing within the town. No true- 
born Israelite could be found to obey ; one man only (as our 
account declares), Doeg the Edomite, executed the atrocious 
command; and slew in that day eighty-five " persons who 
wore a linen ephod," besides ' ' all the men and women, chil- 
dren and sucklings, oxen, asses and sheep," in the town of 

This statement seems to need comment. Taken to the 
letter, it is physically impossible that one man can have per- 
petrated such carnage; although he might certainly have 
slain eighty-five priests in chains, if the Israelites had so far 
obeyed the king as to chain them. We have already seen in 
the case of the Amalekites a credulous exaggeration of mas- 
sacre ; and there is nothing in the whole book which justifies 
us in supposing that Doeg was leader of a band of Edomites 
serving under the king, whose united force might have been 
used. Here, as elsewhere, a monarch who was cut off in un- 
successful battle, and whose dynasty fell with him, mainly 
through his own follies and crime, has probably had still 
more imputed to him than the reality. Yet we cannot doubt 
that at this time he slew Ahimelech and many other leading 
men among the priests ; under the idea that by this vigorous 
policy (for so worldly-minded and short-sighted statesmen 
often denominate cruelty) he would cut off all support from 
David. Nor did SauPs anger stay here. By a later allusion 
we find that "he slew the Gibeonites"; which must have 
been a continuation of his feud against the priests. The Gi- 
beonites intended are not the inhabitants of Gibeon in general, 
but a class of inferior ministers of the high altar at Gibeon, 
whose duty was to supply water and firewood for religious ser- 
vices. At present the tabernacle also was at Gibeon ; and we 
may conjecture that the priestly families there showed some 
sympathy with their brethren of Nob, sufficient to offend the 
king, who could no longer stop at half-measures. Whether 
he slew any priests at Gibeon, as well as the " hewers of wood 
and drawers of water," is uncertain. But the murder of the 
latter is specially commemorated, because they were a kind 
of sacred slaves, whose lives were guaranteed, as tradition 
told, by the oath of Joshua; when, being Hivites, they had 


surrendered themselves, though with fraudulent concealment 
that they belonged to that nation. This remarkable story 
may seem to show that the high altar had been at Gibeon 
from the time of Joshua, though the tabernacle was then 
placed at Shiloh. 

But SauTs cruelty produced the very reverse of what he 
intended. The priestly body over the whole land was made 
inveterately hostile, and began to look out for security and re- 
venge; moreover, Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David, 
and instantly gave a new colour to his position. With the 
representative of Eli in his camp, who wore a high priest's 
ephod and consulted Jehovah by Urim, David now appeared 
as the champion of the priests in a sacred war of vengeance. 

Upon this the king looked on the rebellion as sufficiently 
important to need his personal presence with an armed force ; 
and having marched out with as little delay as possible, he 
hunted his active adversary from stronghold to stronghold, 
though never able to intercept him. Saul's own company 
was no' doubt composed of heavy-armed warriors, while 
David's were half-armed, and in large number slingers and 
bowmen. No force of cavalry existed in Israel, and perhaps 
it could not have been efficient in the precipitous and rocky 
wildernesses of Judah, where David and his men took refuge. 
The king nevertheless so often found active aid from the zeal 
of those who sent him word concerning David's places of re- 
treat, that concealment was not long together possible; and 
the outlaw was sometimes betrayed even by those in whom 
he had put confidence. A psalm has come down to us (the 
7th psalm), composed on such an occasion. A Benjamite 
named Cush, if we may trust the superscription, was the im- 
mediate subject of it. Having won the confidence and friend- 
ship of the generous warrior, he used it only to entrap him ; 
and this perhaps was the turning-point of David's career; 
for so inveterate was the perseverance of the jealous and 
enraged king, that David at last found it impossible to pre- 
serve his footing on Israelitish soil; and betook himself to 
the desperate and unpatriotic resource of offering his services 
to the Philistines, who were at this very time engaged in 
lingering and inactive war with Israel. The chieftain on 
whose hospitality he determined to throw himself, was Achish, 
king of Gath. 

What length of time elapsed between the first march of 


David to Ahimelech, and his escape out of the land, we do 
not know; yet some domestic circumstances imply that it 
was more than a few months. Having heard that Saul had 
given away Michal in marriage to another man, David found 
no difficulty in replacing her by two wives, who can hardly 
have been taken in very close succession. Ahinoam of Jez- 
reel (perhaps in the mountains of Judah, Joshua xv. 56) was 
the one, but of her nothing is known : the other was Abigail 
of Carmel, near Maon in Judah, widow of the wealthy Nabal, 
who appears to have brought to her new husband all the 
possessions of the deceased, and thus enabled him to appear 
in greater splendour and importance before king Achish 1 . 

How savage had been SauTs pursuit of David, can have 
been no secret to the Gittites; and they may well have thought 
that David's resentment would now make him as useful an 
ally as he had before been a dangerous enemy. Achish was 
well-disposed to receive him ; and David took the favourable 
opportunity of making his terms, which were nothing less 
than to demand, under a civil and humble pretext, the pos- 
session of a castle for himself, where he and his men might 
be safe from the Philistine population. To this Achish con- 
sented, and bestowed on him the fortress of Ziklag; another 
step of elevation, which almost converted him into an inde- 
pendent prince. Our narrative proceeds to make statements 
which surpass all belief: how Achish used to send him out 
on marauding excursions against the Israelites; and how 
David used craftily to attack some other tribe instead, and 
feign that he had executed the orders ; and how he extirpated 
all the population, Philistines and wicked Amalekites, so 
that not a soul remained to bring the tidings to the ears of 
Achish. The simple king was so lulled into infatuation, as 
to congratulate himself on his success in committing David 
to implacable feud with his fellow-Israelites. 

Such a tale may perhaps be translated, as follows. The 

1 An earlier flight to Achish. is narrated (xxi. 10-15), with circumstances 
scarcely compatible. Achish then distrusted David naturally, it may be said, 
because his feud with Saul was not as yet publicly developed ; but if on that 
occasion David was so afraid of Achish as to feign madness, it is not likely that 
he would now have selected him as his patron. Moreover, whether Achish still 
believed the madness to be real, or had since discovered it to be feigned, in 
neither case was it probable that he would put much trust in David; and a con- 
sciousness of this would have kept the latter aloof. The writer seems unaware 
that Achish has been before named, and the obvious probability is that the two 
stories have grown out of one. 


Philistines were not yet assembling for active conflict with 
Israel (this appears by xxviii. 1) ; yet war was impending. 
Meanwhile, various neighbouring tribes, whose incursions 
vexed the Gittites, were chastised by David's arms ; and on 
some of them a very promiscuous slaughter was perpetrated. 
In the districts where Israelites were mingled with foreigners, 
David may have carefully avoided conflict with his own peo- 
ple, and this may have been the nucleus of the preposterous 
representation above delivered. Yet we cannot pretend to 
divine, and merely suggest the above as probable. 

Certainly this was no time for David to risk the loss of his 
country men's hearts: for at this very crisis, while he was 
occupying the stronghold of Ziklag, he received most impor- 
tant reinforcements of Israelites. A long list has come down 
to us (1 Chron. xii. 1-22) of more or less eminent persons, 
who through dissatisfaction with Saul became voluntary ex- 
iles and staked all their prospects on David's cause. The 
list opens with members of the tribe of Benjamin, " Saul's 
own brethren" ; at which we may the less wonder, since 
Samuel's authority must have been deeply felt in that tribe. 
The venerable prophet would seem to have just died, having 
been spared the misery of seeing the confusions of his people; 
and we are left to conjecture whether he had given any opinion 
as to the duty of true Israelites. The Benjamites at this time 
were celebrated for the use of the sling and bow 1 , and all who 
now joined David had these weapons. Besides these came 
Gadite captains, full-armed warriors formidable in close fight, 
eleven in number, with a considerable army of banditti. Of 
these men we are abruptly informed that they had crossed the 
Jordan in its flood season, and had chased away all the inha- 
bitants of the river valley on both banks. This indicates that 
Israel was already suffering the miseries of a civil war, the 
pastoral tribes spurning restraint and plundering their agri- 
cultural brethren at pleasure. We accidentally learn an 
important circumstance which throws fresh light on their 
behaviour. During the reign of Saul, the Eeubenites, Gad- 
ites, and half-tribe of Manasseh made war on their own ac- 
count against their neighbours the Hagarenes, with whom 

1 They appear especially to have aimed at slinging with the left hand, since 
this struck a shielded warrior more easily on his undefended side. Ehud, a Ben- 
jamite, is particularly stated to have been left-handed, in the earliest times : 
Judg. iii. 15. 

D 3 


are joined the obscure people of Jetur, Nephish and Nodab 
(1 Chron. v. 10, 18-22). Meeting with entire success, they 
seized all the cattle of these people and appropriated their 
pasture grounds, which they retained as a permanent pos- 
session. After this, it is not likely that they felt constrained 
to respect SauPs authority, who in his later contests with the 
Philistines seems to have had no assistance from beyond 
Jordan 1 . Nor only so, but the spirit of enterprize and free- 
booting had so spread among them, that Gadite captains of 
great power lived by pillage ; of whom it is rather obscurely 
said, " the least of them was over a hundred, and the greatest 
of them over a thousand." Now, however, the fame of David 
drew them to swell his retinue at Ziklag, and he profited by 
SauTs misfortunes as well as by his crimes. 

As power generally tends to its own increase, new acces- 
sions soon followed on the last. A trained force of Benjamin 
and Judah marched out to Ziklag, of whom the chief captain 
was Amasai, perhaps the same man as Amasa, son of Abi- 
gail, a sister of David. Their arrival at first created appre- 
hension, wnich however was instantly dissipated by Amasai, 
and David added them to his army. 

To this succeeded the gathering of Philistine forces for the 
war against Saul, and Achish required the co-operation of his 
new ally. Whether David would have had any compunction 
to engage in the war cannot now be decided. At a later pe- 
riod ee there was long war between the house of Saul and the 
house of David" (2 Sam. iii. 1), which may imply that the 
latter would not have shrunk from personal collision with 
SauFs armies at present. He was however saved from the 
trial by the jealousy of the other Philistine princes, who 
were startled to observe how large a body of Hebrews under 
David had posted itself in their rear (1 Sam. xxix. 2) , when 
the army was drawn up near Jezreel. Accident may have 
suggested to them that treachery was intended ; at any rate, 
so powerful a Hebrew force, it might be argued, was dan- 
gerous. At the same crisis a troop of Manassites deserted 
from Saul and joined David (1 Chron. xii. 19), and this may 

1 Although the rescue of the body of Saul and his sons by the men of Jabesh 
G-ilead proves that a sentiment of loyalty was far from extinct in Gilead, still 
the circumstances rather suggest that these Gileadites were not in the fatal 
battle. Their spirit is that of unconquered men, who are stirred to anger by the 
indignity put on their fallen king. 


have increased the suspicion that there was a secret under- 
standing between the king of Israel and his late son-in-law, 
and that David was intending to purchase forgiveness by be- 
traying his Philistine allies. In vain did Achish try to reas- 
sure the other princes, who insisted that David should with- 
draw. On his journey home to Ziklag the fortunate Hebrew 
was joined by seven more Manassites (who are entitled " cap- 
tains of thousands"), with their bands (1 Chron. xii. 20) : 
and he was soon to need their aid. The Amalekites, whose 
country he had devastated, had taken advantage of his absence 
to attack Ziklag. Far more merciful than Saul or David, (if 
the massacres ascribed to these chieftains are not undeserved 
but well-intended eulogies,) the Amalekites had only burned 
the town of Ziklag and carried captive all the women and 
children (among whom were David's two wives), but they put 
none of them to death. The narrator from whom we quote 
(1 Sam. xxx.) appears to regard David's army as consisting 
solely of the six hundred men with whom he originally came 
to Achish ; which is certainly in direct opposition to the record 
in a later book (1 Chron. xii. 21) . Hence some doubt might 
seem to be cast on all that has been said concerning the 
accession of force received by him in Ziklag, were not this 1 
confirmed by internal evidence. That David was still looked 
on as but the creature and organ of the wild men who served 
him, appears from the cry which now arose to stone him, as a 
punishment for having left their wives and daughters unde- 
fended. But at this crisis the self-possession of David was 
eminent, as also (we cannot doubt) his sincere faith in a 
higher power. " He encouraged himself in Jehovah his God," 
and sending for Abiathar the priest, ordered him solemnly to 
consult the sacred Urim whether he should pursue the enemy. 
Obtaining permission, he set out with extreme rapidity, and 
came upon them while they were at ease and encumbered with 
spoil, supposing that David was folly occupied in the Philis- 
tine host. Thus surprized, they could offer no resistance. 
Not only was everything recovered, but all the booty which 
they had collected from a wide marauding excursion, fell to 
David's troops. The behaviour of the conqueror was at once 
generous and politic. To the precedent now set by him was 

1 I do not mean that I regard the numbers as trustworthy, here or any- 
where else ; but that the accession of force in Ziklag is not an arbitrary fiction. 
See the Note in the next chapter on the forces which came to David in Hebron. 


traced the principle thenceforward established in the Hebrew 
army, to divide the spoil fairly among the whole host, whether 
employed in defence or offence, instead of the barbarian prac- 
tice that each soldier should keep what he could snatch. By 
the customs of border warfare, a large fraction of the spoil 
fell to David personally, which he immediately sent in presents 
to the "elders" of numerous towns and villages of Judah, 
and to all the places where in former days he had received 
kindness and support. As a result of his policy, to use the 
emphatic language of the chronicler, which, accepted as poetry, 
may be substantially true, ' ' from that time, day by day, men 
came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the 
host of God." 

In part, these accessions may have come from the Gittites 
themselves; for David must here first have formed the band 
of Gittites, which, long afterwards, under his friend Ittai, 
continued to do him so faithful service. But the greater part 
probably fell to him from the unhappy Saul, whose forces 
had wasted away, so that he had lost half of his kingdom 
west of Jordan before a blow was struck. Having no support, 
it would seem, in the southern tribes, he had been forced to 
cross the frontier of Galilee, in the region of Mount Gilboa, 
whither the Philistines had followed and encamped on the 
slope of Jezreel. In vain did he call on priest and prophet 1 
to give him an oracle from Jehovah : their reply was uniform, 
that Jehovah answered not. His superstition demanding 
some relief, he proceeded to consult one of the enchantresses, 
or female necromancers 2 . Such a woman was found at Endor, 
and Saul went by night to ask her to bring up Samuel from the 
dead. It seldom happens that we can obtain the details of such 
adventures at first hand, or penetrate the cloud which shrouds 
them. The current belief of Israel, which has been preserved 
for the reverence or perplexity of Europe, was, that the wo- 
man' s art really succeeded beyond her own expectation, in 
bringing up Samuel himself out of the ground, in the form of an 

1 He sought a reply by dreams, by Urim, and by prophets. If Urim was at 
this time confined to the chief priest, Saul had made a new chief priest in place 
of Ahimelech or Abiathar. But the words are possibly a mere formula. 

2 It is a striking illustration of the intensely Jehovistic but wwmoral spirit 
of the book of Chronicles, that it records Saul to have been slain and his 
dynasty to have fallen, not because he massacred the priests, (which morally, 
politically and religiously was the true reason,) but, " because he inquired of a 
necromancer and not of Jehovah." (1 Chron. x. 13.) 


old man wrapt in a mantle, who proceeded to utter an awful 
prophecy against Saul, in the name of Jehovah, predicting with 
unsparing truth the judgements impending on him. In fact, 
it needed no magician to see that Saul was in evil case, nor 
could the decisive battle be long averted. It took place by 
Mount Gilboa, and the Hebrews were soon put to flight. 
Saul and his three eldest sons disdained to accompany them, 
and were all slain : but, as happens in such cases, there was 
some uncertainty as to the mode of Saul's death. One account 
told that he fell upon his own sword. Another was reported 
by a young Amalekite, who professed that he had, at SauPs 
urgent request, performed the service of slaying him. The 
only interest attaching to this variation is, that the young 
man was himself slaughtered, by the order and under the eyes 
of David, for having claimed the merit of the deed ; a high- 
handed manifesto of loyalty, with which it is hard for Chris- 
tian or modern feelings to sympathize, but which was probably 
much admired by his countrymen, when executed on the 
cheap bo3y of an Amalekite. The action was politic, as pro- 
claiming the sanctity of kings ; and by the death of Jonathan, 
David saw the way to kingly station open to him. Yet we 
may believe that impulse had a larger share in the act than 
calculation. Although David had not attained the Christian 
virtue of loving enemies, he burned with indignation that an 
Israelitish king should be killed by a dog of an Amalekite ; 
and any personal resentment he may have felt against Saul 
vanished at once when his death was ascertained. The gene- 
rous feelings had full sway, and real tenderness burst out in 
David's soul at the untimely fate of his friend Jonathan. The 
simple and touching ditty in which he lamented their loss still 
survives to testify not only his grief, but how Hebrew a heart 
he had maintained while dwelling among the Philistines. 

1. O Israel, on thy heights the gazelle is slain ! 
Fallen, alas ! are the heroes. 

Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon ; 
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, 
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. 

2. O mountains of Gilboa, let there be upon you neither dew, 
Nor rain, nor crops of first fruits ; 

For on you was the shield of heroes cast away, 
The shield of Saul, as though not an anointed king. 


3. From the blood of the slain, from the prime of the heroes, 
The bow of Jonathan turned not aside, 

And the sword of Saul came not back empty. 
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in life 
And in death they were not parted : 
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions. 

4. Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, 
Who clothed you in scarlet delightfully, 
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 

5. Fallen, alas ! are the heroes in the battle. 
On thy heights is Jonathan slain. 

Ah, Jonathan my brother, I am grieved for thee. 

Very sweet unto me wast thou ; 

Marvellous thy love to me, beyond woman's love. 

Fallen, alas ! are the heroes, 

And perished the weapons of war. 

As for the victorious army, it temporarily occupied the 
neighbouring towns, which were deserted by the Israelites. 
On finding the royal corpses next day, the Philistines retali- 
ated on Saul what David had inflicted on Goliath, carrying 
away his head as a barbarous trophy. His trunk and the 
bodies of his sons they fastened to the wall of Bethshean, and 
bore off his armour to hang up in the temple of Astarte. The 
men of Jabesh Gilead however, grateful for the deliverance 
from the Ammonites which Saul had won for them in his first 
year, carried away the bodies by night and buried them at 
Jabesh. So ended the career of Saul, first king of Israel. 




THE prince on whom the hopes of the Hebrew priesthood 
were fixed, was at the death of Saul only thirty years old. 
He possessed exactly those qualities which rallied round him 
every influential element of the nation, and he had most care- 
fully conciliated the good will of the elders of his own tribe. 
With coarse and wild men attending upon him, he maintained 
not only warm-hearted gratitude and spontaneous generosity, 
but a delicate susceptibility which made tears over a fallen 
rival natural to him. Whatever hardship was endured by his 
faithful band was shared by David, of which a pleasing anec- 
dote has been preserved, in a passage evidently of great anti- 
quity (2 Sam. xxiii. 8-23) . David was in the cave of Adullam, 
and the Philistines had set a garrison in Bethlehem. When 
suffering from thirst, remembering the sweetness of the water 
from the well of his native town, he inadvertently expressed 
his longing for a draught. Three of his bravos who caught 
the words, went boldly through the Philistine host, and having 
drawn water from the well, brought it to David ; but when it 
arrived, forestalling the deed of Alexander the Great in the 
desart of Gedrosia, " he poured it out before Jehovah," 
declaring that he would not drink the blood of his men. This 
can only be a specimen of the generous arts by which he won 
their attachment. During his sojourn at Ziklag, he appears 
to have established a certain gradation of ranks in his motley 
army, depending entirely on that personal prowess, which 
soldiers honour in their comrades without envying. The three 
chief warriors of his band were named Josebbassebeth 1 (or, 
Jashobeam) the Hachmonite, Eleazar son of Dodo, and Sham- 
mah son of Agee. The first of them was said to have slain 
800 men in one battle ; and the other two to have done ex- 

1 The LXX. renders it 'Iej8o<r0e or Ishbosheth. The words "Adino the 
Eznite" in 2 Sam. xxiii. 8, are corrupt for, " lifted up his spear ;" as appears by 
comparing 1 Chron. xi. 11 ; and so De Wette has translated. 


ploits almost as marvellous against the Philistines. A second 
valiant trio is imperfectly named. Abishai, son of Zeruiah, 
David's sister, was its chief; he is stated to have slain 300 men, 
yet not to have attained to the first three. Benaiah, the son 
of Jehoiada, was the second who had slain a lion. The third 
was, perhaps, Joab, son of Zeruiah. Besides these 1 , thirty-one 
eminent captains are named, among whom was Asahel, brother 
of Joab, and Uriah the Hittite. As Joab's armour-bearer, 
Nahari, was also one of them, Joab can scarcely have been 
excluded from them himself. 

It is needless to insist that the exploits of slaying 800 and 
300 men are clearly fabulous. This does not affect the re- 
gister of the ranks assigned to them ; and it must be observed 
that as no superiority is here given to Joab, and as Asahel 
was yet alive, the date belongs to the very beginning of Da- 
vid's reign 2 . Even so a difficulty is met ; for Benaiah appears 
as if in the vigour of life when Solomon ascends the throne, 
just forty years later. If Benaiah' s name in this rank, belongs 
to a later date, it will follow that David continued afterwards 
the same arrangement in his army; three chiefest heroes, 
three heroes of second rank, and thirty of honourable prowess. 
Nor is it improbable that the gradations of honour established 
by him at Ziklag should have been adopted as a perpetual 

On learning of Saul's death, after solemn mourning for the 
event, David's first care was to consult Jehovah, by Urim, 
we must suppose, whether he should go up to any of the 
cities of Judah. Having obtained leave, he asked again, To 
which of them? and the reply was to Hebron: the city of 
Abraham. This was the strongest place in Judah, and cen- 
tral to the tribe ; and to march up to it and quarter his army 

1 The enumeration which we are told to expect is, three chief heroes, three 
second in prowess, and thirty inferior to these. On the contrary we have, three, 
two, and then thirty-one ; who are finally said to be thirty-seven in all. There is 
evidently something incomplete. Shammah the Hararite, one of the first three, 
appears to be repeated in the list of 31 (which ought to be 30 ? see w. 13, 23) 
under the name of Shammah the Harodite : for the difference of r and d (n and 
T) is a very common error of transcription. 

2 This might make it seem necessary to refer the battles against the Philis- 
tines and their garrisoning of Bethlehem, to the reign of Saul ; for David had 
no war with them between his first escape from Saul and the death of Asahel. 
But in truth it is vain to criticize this document as if we had in it the authentic 
and uninterpolated words of a contemporary. It probably received its present 
form from one who did not trouble himself about smaller points in chronology. 


on the surrounding towns was virtually to take military pos- 
session of the district. The elders understood the hint, if 
their minds had not previously been decided ; and assembling 
at Hebron, they there anointed David " king over the house 
of Judah 1 ." It was natural for him to hope that the rest of 
Israel would follow the example ; especially, if the powerful 
and spirited Manassites beyond Jordan could be won, there 
would be little doubt of the result. He accordingly sent a 
kind message to the men of Jabesh Gilead, which ran thus : 
" Blessed be ye of Jehovah, that ye have showed this kindness 
to Saul your lord, and have buried him. Now may Jehovah 
show unto you kindness and truth, and I also will requite you 
this kindness. Therefore let your hands be strong, and be ye 
valiant ; for though your master Saul is dead, yet the house 
of Judah have anointed me king over them." Since many 
Manassites (perhaps from Bashan and Gilead) were in his 
army, this communication might have had the desired effect, 
had not a great man, whom we have not yet mentioned, anti- 
cipated David's projects. Abner, the son of Ner, was first 
cousin of Saul 2 , and had long been chief captain of Saul's 
host. He enjoyed high respect in all Israel, and now took a 
decisive step for securing the kingdom to the family of Saul. 
Judging, perhaps, that the eastern tribes would turn the scale, 
he crossed into Gilead with Ishbosheth, the surviving son of 
Saul; and there, at Mahhanaim, not far south of Jabesh Gilead, 
proclaimed Ishbosheth as king. His title was quickly recog- 
nized by all Gilead, and by western Israel, beginning with 
Benjamin, northward. Thus the tribe of Judah only was left 
to David. But Ishbosheth was king in little more than name : 
the mainstay of the government was in Abner. The tenor 
indeed of the narrative would persuade us that the new king 

1 The chronicler is here guilty of a gross misrepresentation, which from the 
recurrence of so. many similar cases, we cannot hesitate to ascribe to a dishonest 
love of exalting an orthodox king. He represents the elders of all Israel as 
assembling at Hebron, and anointing David king over all Israel, immediately 
upon the death of Saul (1 Chr. xi. 1-3). We afterwards learn (xxix. 27) that 
David reigned seven years in Hebron ; but no one could discover from this 
book, that it was a reign over one tribe only ; much less that David carried on 
a civil war against the other tribes. 

2 In 1 Sam. ix. 1, Kish, the father of Saul, is son of Abiel ; and in xiv. 51, 
Ner, father of Abner, is also son of Abiel. Thus the fathers of Saul and Abner 
were brothers. In the Chronicles, Ner is twice called father of Kish (1 Chron. 
viii. 33, ix. 39) ; but this is directly contradicted by ix. 36, where Ner and Kish 
are made sons of Jehiel. 


was quite a youth, and had on this ground been absent from 
the fatal battle at Mount Gilboa. Yet the text distinctly calls 
him forty years old 1 . As he was a younger brother to Jona- 
than, and probably youngest of all SauPs sons, such an age 
puts far too great a discrepancy between Jonathan and David 
for the romantic friendship which subsisted between them. If 
for forty we substitute fourteen, it may seem nearer to the 

Abner's first care must have been to rally the undefeated 
forces of eastern Israel, and present such a front of war to the 
Philistines as they would not desire to oppose. Of this no 
record remains; but in fact the Philistines retired, without 
an effort to increase their territory after their great success. 
This is very similar to the course of events after their capture 
of the ark, and certainly suggests that they were, like the 
Tyrians, unambitious of continental empire and probably too 
few in number to think of upholding government over Israel. 
They pertinaciously held by their own cities and territory, not 
understanding by what right the Israelites could claim to expel 
them ; but their martial efforts seem to have been limited to 
mere self-defence. They kept their own town of Gezer, on 
the border of Ephraim, and probably strengthened it ; but as 
far as can be learned, this continued to be their northern 
limit. Towards David, as long as he should be in opposition 
to the house of Saul, they had a friendly feeling. Not dis- 
pleased to see the tribes of Israel divided against themselves, 
and satisfied that David would not molest their territory while 
he had to contend against Abner on the north, they withdrew 
to peaceful occupations, and remained quiet during the seven 
years that David was king at Hebron. 

After this Abner concentrated a force near the sacred hill 
of Gibeon, threatening the territory of Judah. Whether de- 
fence or offence was his object, is not clear; but an army 

1 Forty is known to be a fatal number in these records. A ludicrous example 
is, where Absalom tarries forty years in his house at Jerusalem (2 Sam. xv. 7). 
[Forty (say some who do not know when a cause is lost) is a round number in 
Hebrew. But a specific and a small number is here needed. A hundred is a 
round number in English ; but no critic would justify writing " Absalom tarried 
a hundred years etc." Bound numbers are a confession of ignorance, not a 
vehicle of infallible and perfect knowledge.] A second error of a number is 
found in this very verse, 2 Sam. ii. 10, in which it is said that Ishbosheth reigned 
two years. This disagrees with the " long war" between him and David, and 
with the reign of David " over Judah in Hebron" seven years and a half (iii. 1, 
and ii. 11). 


came forthwith from David to meet him, and stationed itself 
at the other side of the pool of Gibeon. Its general was Joab, 
son of Zeruiah, David's sister, whose rude energy was already 
beginning to exert a predominance among David's warriors, 
although hitherto he had been surpassed in feats of battle 
not only by the three great heroes, but by his own brother 
Abishai. Abner hereupon made a proposal, the intent of 
which is obscurely indicated ; but if we interpret it by other 
times of chivalry, it was, that in order to save bloodshed, 
the quarrel should be decided by twelve Benjamites fighting 
against twelve of David's men. According to our account, 
the whole twenty-four were slain by contrary wounds. More 
agreeably with the common course of real events, the two 
armies, instead of abiding by the decision, whatever it was, 
rushed into the combat. After a severe struggle, the troops 
of Abner gave way, and he himself was so keenly chased by 
the swift Asahel, youngest brother of Joab, as to be forced in 
self-defence to turn round and slay him. Three hundred 
and sixty of the Israelites are stated to have been cut down 
in the fierceness of pursuit; while only nineteen men, with 
Asahel, had fallen on the opposite side. By an appeal to 
Joal/s better feelings, Abner induced him towards evening to 
recall his men by the trumpet ; and marching all night long 
with the survivors whom he had gathered, stopped not until 
he had crossed Jordan and regained Mahhanaim. The details 
of this battle have been carefully recorded, only, it may seem, 
because the death of Asahel gave Joab an excuse for remorse- 
less treachery towards the honoured Abner. 

David meanwhile had taken another step which shows him 
not to have disdained the resources of common politicians. 
We have already mentioned the Geshurites, whose territory 
bordered on the Manassites in Bashan, and who, in spite of a 
contest for the towns of Jair, lived on good terms with them. 
Geshur was at present subject to a king, whose name was 
Talmai, son of Ammihud; and David, although he had two 
wives already, made successful suit to Talmai for the hand of 
his daughter Maacah. The friendship of this monarch at 
such a time must have been much to be coveted as influ- 
encing the men of Asher and of Bashan, by fear or by good 
will, towards David ; and after the event of the battle near 
Gibeon, less zeal in behalf of Ishbosheth was likely to be 
shown by any of the tribes. A lingering jivil war did indeed 


continue, but the cause of the house of Saul was evidently 
declining, and the experienced Abner was forced to feel that 
he was labouring in vain. 

When Saul had been dead about seven years 1 , Ishbosheth 
imprudently cast on Abner a reproachful accusation, which de- 
termined the latter no longer to uphold his throne. Whether 
passion or calculation moved Abner, or possibly both, is left 
uncertain : but it would seem, that he now saw Ishbosheth 
to be likely to expel him from his hard-earned honours as 
chief captain, and he accordingly resolved to make the best 
terms he could with David. But David at once saw the ad- 
vantage which he had, and made a very unexpected 'demand 
as prerequisite to all negotiation; that Abner would deliver 
up to him as a wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, who had 
been living fall ten years in contented union with Phaltiel 
son of Laish. After becoming son-in-law of Talmai, David 
had taken to himself three other wives, Haggith, Abital and 
Eglah. He had now a seraglio of six around him, and each 
of them had given him a son in Hebron. It was evidently 
therefore no love for Michal which led him now to rend open 
new wounds under pretence of healing old ones : his design 
was to add to his person one more claim to the kingdom over 
Israel, by appearing in the character of Saul's son-in-law, and 
renewing the memory of the days when he had led Saul's 
armies to victory. Abner executed the unkind commission 
with as much civility as the case allowed ; and Phaltiel went 
weeping behind the wife who was being torn from him, till 
they reached Bahurini in the tribe of Benjamin, near the 
frontier of Judah. When she had been given into David's 
hands, Abner proceeded to conciliate the elders of all Israel, 
and especially of Benjamin, to the cause of David; after which 
he was entertained with a guard of twenty men by David in 
Hebron, and definitely engaged himself to gather deputies 
from all Israel who should publicly recognize David as king 
of the twelve tribes. 

But when Joab, on returning to Hebron, learned what was 
going on, he perceived that Abner, so aged and esteemed a 
leader, must necessarily supersede him as captain of the host 
of Israel. With all the freedom of one who remembered the 

1 If Ishbosheth. reigned only two years, this date must be incorrect ; but see 
the note on the age of Ishbosheth. 


time when David had been an outlaw, his rude nephew coarsely 
rebuked him and imputed treachery to Abner. Then having 
enticed the unsuspecting warrior back on pretence of further 
conference, he assassinated him on the spot with his own 

At this bloody deed the heart of David fainted. It was his 
first taste perhaps of the misery of possessing royal power, 
purchased by the aid of such comrades as Joab. Besides the 
natural horror which he must have felt at the violent death of 
one whom he had so much reason to respect, he seemed to 
have lost the hopes which Abner 7 s mission was to have con- 
firmed, and to be in danger of incurring hatred with all Israel 
as implicated in the treacherous murder. Although Joab 
was his sister's son, it is probable that David would have ex- 
ecuted summary justice on him, if he had dared ; but Joab's 
cause was now upheld by Abishai his brother, and both gave 
out that it had been a just retaliation for the death of Asahel. 
Their influence in the army at Hebron was too formidable to 
oppose ; and David could not sacrifice Joab, without making 
Abishai also his mortal enemy. His indignation and disgust 
vented itself in grievous curses against Joab; and to avert 
the public odium of the deed, he made an ostentatious display 
of grief. Not satisfied with public fasting and solemn pro- 
cession to the grave of Abner, he wept publicly with loud 
crying, and recited a simple ditty, perhaps extemporaneously 
poured forth : 

Why needed Abner to die the death of the impious ? 

Thy hands were not bound : 

Thy feet were not put into fetters : 

As a man falls by the sons of malice, so didst thou fall. 

But this calamitous event did not practically delay the 
.accession of David to the throne of Israel. Abner had lived 
to do the work he had undertaken, and it had become noto- 
rious that all was ripe for a revolution in favour of David. 
Two brothers, captains of bands under Ishbosheth, by name 
Baanah and Rechab, sons of Rimmon, aiming to forestal 
favour with the expected sovereign, murdered Ishbosheth on 
his couch at noon, and carried his head to David. It was the 
fortune of this prince to be relieved by others from the per- 
petration of crime ; and although he at length became cor- 


mpted by power, he was always spared its worst temptations. 
Ishbosheth had died without issue : Jonathan had left a son 
Mephibosheth, but he was lame, and was now about thirteen 
years old. Saul's surviving sons were born of a concubine, 
Bizpah daughter of Aiah, and were not regarded as politi- 
cally legitimate. Thus, as husband to Michal, David would 
in any case have had a near claim on the succession; nor 
ought the murderers to have calculated on a gracious recep- 
tion from the brother-in-law of their victim,. even if they did 
not know how the Amalekite was treated who professed to 
have slain Saul, David's personal and inveterate foe. With- 
out hesitation David ordered them both to be killed on the 
spot, their hands and feet to be cut off, and hanged over the 
pool in Hebron. The head of Ishbosheth was buried with all 
respect in the sepulchre of Abner at the same place. 

David had reigned seven years and a half in Hebron over 
the tribe of Judah alone. He was now solemnly installed as 
king by the elders of all Israel, and " made a league with them 
before Jehovah in Hebron 1 ." This was equivalent to what 
we now call a " coronation oath/' and denoted that he was a 

1 According to 1 Chron. xii. 23-40, an army of more than 340,000 men 
marched from all Israel to Hebron to welcome David to the throne. The num- 
bers are an evident exaggeration characteristic of the whole book, yet their pro- 
portions are not without interest, as indicating the ideas once current concerning 
the relative strength of the tribes in David's reign. The men of Judah are few, 
perhaps because David was at home with them. The numbers assigned to the 
Danites are surprizing, also the small ratio which Ephraim bears to Zebulon, 
Naphthali and Asher. The separation of Aaronites from Levites, who are all 
treated as fighting men, the prowess ascribed to Zadok the Aaronite, and the re- 
markable detail that 200 chiefs of Issachar came without troops, while the Ma- 
nassites came " expressed by name," appear like real history, at which this is an 
elaborate effort, and no arbitrary invention. 

Judah 6,800 

Simeon 7,100 

Levi 4,600 

Aaronites 3,700 

Benjamin 3,000 

Ephraim 20,800 

Western Manasseh . . 18,000 

Zebulon 50,000 

Naphthali 37,000 

And Captains . . . 1,000 

Danites 28,600 

Asher 40,000 

Issachar chiefs . . . 200 

Eastern tribes . . . 120,000 

Total . . . 340,800 


constitutional, not an arbitrary monarch. The Israelites had 
no intention to resign their liberties, but in the sequel it will 
appear, that, with paid foreign troops at his side, even a most 
religious king could be nothing but a despot. 

Concerning David's military proceedings during his reign 
at Hebron, we know nothing in detail, though we read of 
Joab bringing-in a large spoil, probably from his old enemies 
the Amalekites. David had an army to feed, to exercise, and 
to keep out of mischief; but it is probable that the war against 
Abner generally occupied it sufficiently. Now however he 
determined to signalize his new power by a great exploit. 
The strength of JERUSALEM had been sufficiently proved by 
the long secure dwelling of Jebusites in it, surrounded by a 
Hebraized population. Hebron was no longer a suitable place 
for the centre of David's administration; but Jerusalem, on 
the frontier of Benjamin and Judah, without separating him 
from his own tribe, gave him a ready access to the plains of 
Jericho below, and thereby to the eastern districts ; and al- 
though by no means a central position, it was less remote from 
Ephraim than Hebron. Of this Jebusite town he therefore 
determined to possess himself. 

Jerusalem is situated on, and in the midst of, round or 
square hills ; the ravines on three sides of it make a natural 
defence. The brook Kidron winds round it on the north and 
east along the valley of Jehoshaphat, which is flanked by cliffs 
taller and steeper towards its southern end, near which is the 
flat-topped hill of Moriah. To the south-west of this is the 
larger and higher hill of Zion, divided from it by a ravine, 
which forms a steep descent to the pool of Siloam and valley 
of Jehoshaphat. The western and southern sides of Mount 
Zion are lofty and abrupt, and at their bottom lies the narrow 
Valley of Hinnom 1 , called in Hebrew Gehinnom : a word 
which has strangely changed its meaning, both in Hebrew and 
in Arabic. Towards the north-west the descent from both 
hills is more gradual, yet each of them is defended by a de- 
pression of moderate depth, which art would easily convert 
into a fortification available against the modes of attack known 
the Hebrews. The entire breadth of the table-land across 

1 The northern end of this valley is also named the Valley of Gihon, and con- 
tains the pool of Gihon. Gihinnom or Q-eJiennem has taken the sense of Hell ; in later times this valley was the scene of the cruel superstition which 
children to pass through the fire to Molech. 


the top of Zion and the skirt of Moriah, to the edge of the 
valley of Jehoshaphat, little exceeds half a mile ; and was not 
too great for a moderate force to defend. The hills which 
look down on Jerusalem from the north-east, south-east, and 
south, probably explain the abundance of spring-water for 
which Jerusalem has been celebrated : for in the numerous 
blockades which it has endured, the besiegers are said to have 
been often distressed for want of water, the besieged never. 

The Jebusites were so confident of their safety, as to send 
to David an enigmatical message of defiance; which may be 
explained, that a lame and blind garrison was sufficient to 
defend the place. David saw in this an opportunity of dis- 
placing Joab from his office of chief captain, if indeed Joab 
formally held that office as yet, and had not merely assumed 
authority as David's eldest nephew and old comrade in arms. 
The king however now declared, that whoever should first 
scale the wall and drive off its defenders, should be made chief 
captain; but his hopes were signally disappointed. His im- 
petuous nephew resolved not to be outdone,, and triumphantly 
mounting the wall, was the immediate means of the capture 
of the town. After this, Joab's supremacy in the king's army 
could not be shaken off : for thirty-two years more this bold 
and bad man continued to hold high authority in the court of 
the pious king. Painfully different often are the aspirations 
of devotional hours from the necessities imposed by political 
life : for, probably, very soon after, David composed the 101st 
Psalm, declaring his resolution not to promote or endure the 
presence of wicked men. The Psalm 1 is thus translated : 

1. Of G-oodness and Righteousness will I sing : 
Unto thee, O JEHOVAH, will I play (on the harp). 

2. I will attend unto guiltless ways. 
O, when wilt thou come unto me, 

That I may walk in my house with guiltless heart ? 

3. No wicked thing will I set before my eyes : 
I hate to use evil agency : 

It shall not cleave unto me. 

4. The falsehearted shall be far from me ; 
I will not know a bad man. 

1 The 15th Psalm and the first part of the 24th, which have no internal 
marks of being composed by a king, have many similarities of expression to the 
101st. Ewald regards the 15th as not quite so old. It is credible that the 
psalmists and prophets of those days had certain current sentiments and phrases, 
which make it impossible to say what has been imitated from what. 


5. I will uproot him who secretly slandereth his neighbour ; 
The man of haughty eye and proud heart I will not endure. 

6. My eyes shall be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with 

me : 
He that walketh in a guiltless way snail serve me. 

7. He that worketh deceit shall not stay in my house ; 
He that telleth lies shall not stand in my sight. 

8. I will watch to pluck up the wicked of the land, 
That I may uproot all evildoers from JEHOVAH'S CITY. 

Although David's resolutions rose high above his practice or 
his power to perform, his practice would have fallen far lower, 
had not his aspirations been so high ; nor were the sincerely 
good intentions, with which he entered the captured place, 
wholly in vain. Jerusalem is henceforth its name in the his- 
tory ; in poetry only, and not before the times of king Heze- 
kiah, is it entitled Salem, or peace ; identifying it with the 
city of the legendary Melchisedek. David's first care was to 
provide for the security of his intended capital, by suitable 
fortifications. Immediately to the north of Mount Zion and 
separated from it by a slighter depression which we have 
named, was another hill, called Millo in the Hebrew, dfcpa (or 
citadel ?) in the Greek. In ancient times this seems to have 
been much loftier than now ; for it has been artificially low- 
ered. David made no attempt to include Millo (or Acra) in 
his city, but fortified Mount Zion separately ; whence it was 
afterwards called, The city of David. Mount Moriah also was 
left outside to the north-east, since great works were needed 
in preparing a royal palace and treasure-house, besides the 
outer wall ; and he was anxious to strengthen as speedily as 
possible that which he destined as JEHOVAH'S CITY, before fo- 
reign war should distract him. 

In fact, this was impending. The Philistines, who had 
maintained an honourable peace as long as David had been 
engaged by civil broils, were alarmed as soon as he became 
king of all Israel; and his sudden attack on Jebus showed 
them what they had to expect for Gezer and their other towns, 
even if they were not moved by any alliance with the Jebu- 
sites. They marched out in force and encamped on the high 
plain of Rephaim, on the south or south-west of Mount Zion, 
from which it is separated only by the valley of Hinnom. 
David now anxiously consulted Jehovah by Urim, whether 
to attack the Philistines ; and having obtained leave, he suc- 



ceeded so far as to repulse them and capture the images of 
their gods, which the Hebrews burned. It does not appear 
whether these were attached to military standards, like the 
Roman eagles ; but the fact deserves remark, as the first inti- 
mation that David was making war against idolatry. The 
Philistines however, it would appear with increased forces, 
resumed their position on the same lofty plain ; and the 
priest, after consulting the Urim, forbade David to assail them 
in front. We may probably infer that they were emboldened 
to detach a body of men for the support of Geba ; for, as we 
learn, when the signal was heard for which the Urim had bade 
David to wait, the Hebrews who had fetched a compass round 
them attacked their flank, and they fled " from Geba toGezer." 
In Geba, northward of Jerusalem, they had had a garrison in 
SauPs days, which probably still remained, and Gezer, which 
contained a Canaanite population, seems to have been their 
own town, to which they would flee for refuge. 

These events appear to have been of no farther importance 
than to show the Philistines that they could not contend 
single-handed against David ; and, whatever the danger of al- 
lowing him to grow strong, peace was at present their wisest 
or their only policy. But a remark is needed on David's 
consulting of the Urim. He did not seek divine counsel 
whether to attack Jebus; apparently because his mind was 
clear that the enterprize was advantageous. But when Ziklag 
had been burned by the Amalekites, and now, when a danger- 
ous army is at hand, he is glad of such advice. It would 
appear that he regarded it as a divine aid in times of per- 
plexity 1 , but only to be sought for in such times. He had no 
idea of abdicating his duties as military leader, and putting 
the movements of his army into the control of the priest. 
Hence perhaps it is, that as his confidence in his troops and 
in his own warlike experience increased, he ceased altogether 
to consult the sacred Urim ; for we hear no more of it in his 
later wars. 

He was now at liberty to carry out his intention of making 
Jerusalem a sacred city for all Israel, and binding the tribes 
together by a new centre of interest. With this was coupled 
his wish to exalt the honour of Jehovah, and destroy in Israel 
all foreign superstition. The tabernacle, it will be remem- 

1 Socrates, in Xenoph. Memor. I.I. 6-9, takes this view of divination. 


bered, was at a Gibeon, and the ark at Kirjathjearim. Later 
times treated these as natural and proper companions ; and if 
David had shared the feelings of Nehemiah, it is probable that 
he would have brought both of them to Jerusalem. No one 
can certainly say why he resolved on what may seem a very 
capricious course, to bring the ark to Jerusalem, but instead 
of putting it into the ancient tabernacle, to erect a new taber- 
nacle for it himself 3 . It is possible that his new pavilion was 
superior in size and beauty; and in any case we may conjec- 
ture that he wished to provide a double priestly establishment 
for the rival pretensions of Zadok and Abiathar. Zadok was 
left to minister at Gibeon 3 , and was perhaps already David's 
favourite; but Abiathar was the representative of Eli and of 
the priests whom Saul had massacred. Yet the theory of a 
single High Priest was alien to David's policy. His own rise 
by priestly aid had shown sufficiently what a united priesthood 
could do against the crown; and while warmly patronizing 
religion, he would not make its officers too powerful. All 
through his reign Zadok and Abiathar 4 continued as joint and 
coordinate authorities, although Abiathar, as the representa- 
tive of Eli, took precedence of the other. Numerous circum- i / 
stances will open upon us in the course of the history, which 
will warn us not to assume that David's ecclesiastical proceed- 
ings were modeled according to the Pentateuch. 

It will be remembered, that the tarrying of the ark at Kir- 
jathjearim was ascribed to the extreme danger of mortal plagues 
proceeding from it while it was exposed to vulgar curiosity. 
A new calamity was now reported, which impeded its travel- 
ling. When on the way to Jerusalem, escorted by David with 
30,000 men and numerous musicians, it was jolted on its cart 
by the oxen which drew it ; and when Uzzah, the son of Abi- 
nadab, who was in charge of it, put forth his hand to save it 
from falling, the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Uzzah, 
and smote him so that he died on the spot. Such was the 
belief of the later Jews, and such has been the belief of Chris- 

1 Tliis is mentioned by the Chronicler only ; on which account some critics 
doubt whether there was any old tabernacle at all. To me it seems, that if it 
were a fiction of sacerdotal vanity, that vanity would have displayed itself in 
something more than the dry statements of 2 Chron. i. 3, 13. 

2 2 Sam. vi. 17 ; 2 Chron. i. 4. 3 1 Chron. xvi. 39. 

4 In 2 Sam. viii. 17, 1 Chron. xviii. 16, Ahimelech son of Abiathar is errone- 
ously put for Abiathar son of Ahimelech. See 1 Kings, ii. 26, in proof that the 
Abiathar disgraced by Solomon is he whose father Ahimelech was slain by Saul. 

E 2 


tians : we therefore are not justified in doubting whether David 
too could lie under so palsying a superstition. He dared not 
to bring the ark any farther at the moment, and it halted 
three months at the house of Obed Edom the Gittite. The 
chief interest of this to us is, that it shows us a man of Gath, 
not only established in Israel, but invested with a religious 
charge. However, the three months' tarrying was believed to 
have brought a blessing to Obed Edom, and David took fresh 
courage. He came down again in person with a great multi- 
tude, and offered sacrifices as soon as the ark was in motion : 
finally, it was brought into the city of David with the sound 
of the trumpet : musicians and singers accompanied it, singing 
(according to the most probable criticism) the whole, or the 
close only, of the 24th Psalm 1 : 

Lift up, O ye doors, your heads : 
Lift them up, ye ancient gates : 
Let the glorious King come in ! 

Who then is the glorious King ? 
'T is Jehovah, strong and mighty, 
T is Jehovah, lord of battles, etc. etc. 

While the ark was proceeding towards its new tabernacle, the 
king himself danced before it in a priest's linen tippet. He 
had evidently no idea that priests were to monopolize religious 
ministrations, or that the joy of a worshipper might not mani- 
fest itself in the modes familiar to his country. Perhaps this 
little incident might have been suppressed, as an invasion of 
sacerdotal functions, by the narrow formality of a later age, 
had it not been preserved to us by a result in which the priestly 
enemies of Saul rejoiced. Michal was displeased at David's 
public dancing, inasmuch as the sort of nakedness which it in- 
volved (the lower gown or robe being laid aside, to gain ac- 
tivity, we presume,) seemed to her degrading to a king; and 
she did not spare to reproach her husband for it. He on his 
part, not wanting in spirit, took care to let her understand 
that it was to Jehovah and His cause, not to her name, that 
he was indebted for his kingdom, and that he would not be 
controlled by her influence. To this altercation the old histo- 
rian imputes it, whether by a divine judgment or by the dis- 

1 The song ascribed to David on this occasion by the Chronicler bears internal 
evidence of much later origin. 


gust with which it inspired David, that the daughter of Saul 
had no children to the day of her death. 

Soon after his peaceable establishment in Jerusalem, David 
took measures for building himself a palace. The arts of the 
mason and the carpenter were exceedingly rude among the 
Hebrews; but the Tyrians 1 were excellent neighbours and 
skilful workmen, and an alliance of commerce now commenced 
between the nations, which was of extreme importance for 
developing the industry of the ruder and poorer people. Al- 
though little or nothing is recorded concerning the tillage of 
the land under Saul, we may judge that there must have been 
frequent insecurity, little stimulus from foreign trade, and no 
good supply of agricultural implements. With cultivation, 
wheat and wine in abundance, and, almost self-produced, oil 
and honey, could be exported from the land of Israel to Tyre; 
and there can be no doubt that a more diligent production of 
these staple articles began from the period of David's first 
commerce with his Tyrian neighbours. As little question can 
there be 'that every species of manufactured implement, espe- 
cially weapons of war and superior armour, would be obtained 
abundantly from Tyre, as soon as tranquil and steady industry 
became possible. And as far as our sources of information 
are available, it would seem that at this crisis there was a 
considerable interval of peace. For a long time previous, the 
Philistines alone had been dangerous or troublesome enemies; 
and respite being now gained, both from their attacks and from 
civil war, the industrious arts began to receive a development 
before unknown ; and by interchange of raw produce with the 
Tyrians, the wealth of Israel at large and of the king's trea- 
sury must have obtained a great accession. How long this 
repose lasted, we cannot tell ; but as no enemy set foot on the 
land during David's reign, and no complaint is recorded 
against the king's taxes, it must be believed that a steady in- 
crease of wealth and population went on during the whole 
period. It is not likely that he meanwhile relaxed any of his 
old martial exercises. We learn incidentally that 600 men 
" had followed him from Gath 2 ," whom we find at a much 

1 The Chronicler says, " Hiram king of Tyre." But Hiram is still on the 
throne in the middle of Solomon's reign, forty or fifty years later. This seems 
merely a mark that no earlier king's name at Tyre was known to the writer ; 
just as the Ammonite king at Saul's accession is called Nahash. 

2 2 Sam. xv. 18. 


later time as part of his body-guard. Since they must have 
been with him from the beginning, we cannot but see in the 
fact a nucleus of military despotism, and that, as all other 
despots, he preferred to trust to foreigners the care of his 
person. These troops were, no doubt, kept in constant train- 
ing; and as his treasury filled, he was able to increase his 
standing army. 

The first consequence of his increase of strength was a 
voice from the holy Urim, suggesting to him to undertake 
the conquest of Moab, Philistia and Edom. At least, a frag- 
ment of his poetry which has come down to us imbedded in 
two different Psalms 1 , represents him as contemplating this 
threefold enterprise, while elated by a voice from the sanc- 
tuary. He names Judah his lawgiver, perhaps to denote the 
more strictly constitutional rights under which he was bound 
to his own tribe ; against which he had never contended in 
war, and from which he had first received the kingly power. 

G-od hath spoken in his holy place ; and I rejoice. 
I divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth : 
Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine : 
Ephraim also is the strength of my head : 
Judah is my lawgiver. 

Moab is my washpot : over Edom will I cast out my shoe : 
Over Philistia will I triumph. 

Who will bring me into the strong city ? who will lead me into Edom ? 
Wilt not thou, O God, etc. . . . ? 

From this it might appear that Edom was the country 
which he destined first to attack. Yet according to the order 
stated in the concise summary preserved to us, David com- 
menced his career of encroachment by an invasion of Philistia, 
which might seem to be justified by their aggressive move- 
ment when he ascended the throne of Israel. His success is 
vaguely spoken of as complete, but the only definite result 
named is his taking from them the fortress Metheg-Ammah 
(or, the Bridle of Ammah), which, we may infer, was import- 
ant for keeping them in check. But it is not stated that the 
Philistines became tributary. 

This however was followed by a far more deadly war against 
the Moabites, who were previously known as a very friendly 
people. To the king of Moab, it will be remembered, David 

1 Psalms cviii. and Lx. 


had committed his parents at the time of his great danger 
from Saul ; thus he had personal, as well as national, grounds 
for maintaining with them peaceful relations. No causes are 
assigned for the attack which he now made on them, which 
ended in his putting to the sword 1 two-thirds of the unfortu- 
nate population, and subjecting the rest to tribute. Treat- 
ment so ferocious could hardly have proceeded from mutual 
exasperation, else some other striking facts would have been 
recorded, such as perfidy and cruelty on the part of the 
Moabites. It is therefore rather to be ascribed to policy, and 
perhaps to the greediness of the neighbour- tribe of Reuben to 
appropriate their pasture-grounds; but it must not be for- 
gotten, that in this fierce massacre, even if dictated by pure 
avarice and ambition, David would not want the express per- 
mission of the great Jewish lawgiver 2 , if we could persuade 
ourselves that Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy. At 
any rate the Hebrew king did nothing which the later bards 
and priests of his own nation, or the statesmen of Rome, 
would have censured as cruel or unjust. 

Thus far we have contemplated David as warring against 
his immediate neighbours ; petty nations, inferior each of 
them in numbers and resources to united Israel, though occa- 
sionally superior by arts or by accident. But about this time, 
new events threw the Hebrew prince into conflict with a far 
greater potentate, whose person, people and dominion are 
alike dimly descried by us; nevertheless, what we do know 
about him, is both negatively and positively of great import- 
ance. If we could believe the vulgar tradition of an old Assy- 
rian monarchy, beginning with Ninus and Semiramis in an 
extreme antiquity, Nineveh was in the time of David the seat 
of a wide-reaching empire, the power of which was felt in 
Egypt and Phoenicia, in Lydia and in Media. But the He- 
brew annals would in themselves suffice to show that this is 
an exaggeration. All that we can distinctly assert is, that 
about this time a branch of the Syrian nation called Zobah- 
ites (or, the house of Zobah) had risen to great eminence in 
Northern Mesopotamia and Syria. The later Syrian tradi- 
tion represents Nisibis in Mesopotamia as their head-quarters ; 
while the Jews place them at Aleppo. Probably Zobah itself, 

1 Such seems the meaning of the words, 2 Sam. viii. 2 : " with two lines mea- 
sured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive." 

2 Deut. xx. 10-15. 


like Israel, Seljuk, Othman, was the name of a patriarch 
rather than of a place. Whether the Zobahites at this period 
were all under one king, we do not know ; but a great leader 
of them, called Hadadezer son of Rehob, had made himself 
celebrated by his wars in Syria, and appears to have been 
keeping the city of Damascus in dependent alliance. Toi, 
king of Hamath, is specified as one who had had painful proofs 
of Hadadezer's prowess. The city of Hamath was called 
Epiphaneia by the Greeks. Since however Hamath is often 
treated as touching Israel on the northern frontier 1 , we are 
forced to infer that its territory included the remarkable plain 
to the south of the city, which was called the Hollow Syria, 
from its position between the vast mountain walls of Libanus 
and Anti-Libanus. Moreover, if at the sera of which we are 
treating some other power than Hamath had possessed this 
district, we must of necessity have heard of it in the war with 
Hadadezer. He had great strength in cavalry and in chariots 
of war, a species of force in which the early Assyrians ex- 
celled : as cavalry indeed has at every time distinguished all 
the great empires of Asia. By occupying Damascus and its 
territory, the king of Zobah in a manner flanked all the 
dominions of Hamath ; and as either his direct sway or his 
national connexions reached over into Mesopotamia, his re- 
sources made him a most formidable neighbour to every state 
in Syria. 

The circumstances which threw him into collision with 
David are very obscurely explained 2 : nor can it even be made 
out from the statements whether the war was offensive or de- 
fensive on David's part, nor whether the first meeting took 
place on Israelitish ground or so far off as the bank of the 
Euphrates. As however king Toi immediately afterwards ap- 
pears in friendship with David, the nature of the case itself 
seems almost to force us on some such interpretation as the 

The king of Hamath, impelled by the danger which threat- 
ened him from the growth of the Zobahite power, and learn- 
ing of the spirit and high success of David in various wars, 

1 Num. xxxiv. 8, etc. 

2 2 Sam. viii. 3. " David smote him, as Tie (Hadadezer ?) went to recover his 
border at the river Euphrates." Who had taken it away ? David ? That ap- 
pears inconceivable. Was it not Toi, king of Hamath ? and was not David only 
his ally, and secondary in the war ? 


solicited him to attack Hadadezer, thus placing the Zobahites 
in Damascus between opposite enemies. It was agreed that 
Toi should intercept all communications with Mesopotamia by 
occupying or overrunning the Syrian bank of the Euphrates : 
and while Hadadezer was engaged in recovering his posts and 
connexions in this quarter,, David fell upon him in the more 
immediate neighbourhood of Israel. The part of the Zobahite 
army most feared consisted of cavalry and chariots; but we 
may infer that it had injudiciously ventured into rugged and 
enclosed country, where it could not act to advantage. Meet- 
ing with brave resistance, not from infantry only, but we need 
not doubt, from David's archers and slingers, it was miserably 
discomfited and a great number of the horses were captured 1 . 

Hadadezer was too much accustomed to conquest tamely to 
submit to this repulse, and called out to his aid an army of 
Damascenes. But this only increased his disasters. The 
troops of Damascus fought with little spirit in behalf of their 
foreign master, and were totally routed by the well-trained 
bands of David, now flushed with conscious prowess and mu- 
tual confidence. The Hebrew king followed up his advantage 
sharply, and entered Damascus as a conqueror. No native 
government was organized to withstand him, and as the Zo- 
bahites were forced to withdraw, he easily stept into their 
place as suzerain of the district. The Damascenes without a 
struggle consented to change their master ; paid homage and 
tribute to David, and received garrisons from him into their 
critical fortresses. It would have been morally impossible for 
all this to have been brought about so easily if the Zobahites 
had themselves held the castles with a powerful infantry, or if 
the Damascenes had been independent and struggling in a na- 
tional cause. 

Nor was this the end of Hadadezer's reverses. The king 
of Hamath undoubtedly took full advantage of his weakness, 
and helped himself freely out of Hadadezer' s resources. The 
advantages he gained may in part be inferred from his gra- 
titude to David, to whom he sent, by the hand of his son Ha- 
doram, vessels of silver, gold and brass, as gifts of honour. 
Never before had such splendour been seen in Israel. Re- 
garding his success in the war to have been of Jehovah, the 

1 David is said to capture 1000 chariots, 700 horsemen, and 20,000 footmen. 
The Chronicler says 7000 horsemen. No credit whatever is due to his estimates 
of numbers. 



pious king dedicated all these vessels to religious uses, instead 
of displaying them in personal pride. Yet at the same time, 
and from the same victories, valuable metals, as spoils of war, 
now began to pour themselves into David's coffers. One of 
Hadadezer's bands is said to have had shields of gold, which 
the Hebrews captured : even if we adopt the reasonable in- 
terpretation of shields adorned with gold } it is sufficiently in- 
dicative of the pomp and wealth of the enemy. But a far 
greater booty must have been the abundance of brass which 
David got from the plunder of Betah and Berothai, cities of 
Hadadezer ; of unknown site, but not likely to have been far 
from Damascus. 

These and other accessions of valuable metal gave rise to a 
new scheme in David's contemplations. It was at least propa- 
gated and believed afterwards that he had designed to build a 
splendid temple for the ark of God, instead of the pavilion of 
curtains in which it had hitherto lodged; but that the pro- 
phet Nathan, who had at first encouraged the scheme, re- 
ceived a nightly revelation from Jehovah that it was not his 
will at present 1 ; but that a son of David should build the 
house of Jehovah, and that his seed should reign for ever on 
his throne. This very remarkable message undoubtedly in 
its first intent pointed at Solomon, son of David ; and it de- 
serves attention, as the commencement of new political and 
prophetical thoughts of immense moment. For the oath 
which on this occasion Jehovah made to David through the 
prophet was perpetually celebrated by the psalmists of Israel, 
as indeed by David himself in his last words of poetry. By 
the deep hold which the idea took on the national mind, it 
saved the royalty to the house of David for several centuries ; 
and when it failed at last, bequeathed to posterity a new and 
mystical interpretation of still grander import. 

But the Hebrew monarch was now, himself in turn, started 
on a career of conquest, which must naturally have alarmed 
his immediate neighbours. To hold Damascus and its terri- 
tory with garrisons, needed a constant increase of his army in 

1 In 2 Sam. vii., as 1 Chron. xvii., no reason against it is assigned but old 
precedent. In 1 Kings, v. 3, it is said that David could not find time by reason 
of his wars ; but as this seemed insufficient to sacerdotal zeal, the Chronicles (1 
Chron. xxii. 8) discovered a new reason that David had shed much Hood. 
The date of Nathan's message is imperfectly given. It was after Jehovah had 
given David rest from all his enemies, 2 Sam. vii. 1 ; which may point to his 
latest years. 


the north ; and the necessity of drawing away his forces from 
the south may possibly have laid him open to attack from the 
Edomites in that quarter. Indeed, if we may abide by an 
old tradition 1 , David's main army was still occupied by the 
Syrian war, when he was forced to detach Joab to repel the 
Edomites, who undoubtedly had been made hostile ever since 
the exterminating conquest of Moab. David's general and 
troops had learned to trust one another; extreme promptitude 
was his only rule of action; (for tactics, in a modern sense, 
cannot be thought of;) and long habits of warfare had given 
them great superiority over brave neighbours. It is not stated 
whether the Edomites needed to be driven off from Hebrew 
ground, or whether Joab's rapidity anticipated them ; a severe 
battle however was fought in the Valley of Salt, a remarkable 
place in Idumsea, just south of the Dead Sea, afterwards the 
scene of a still greater battle under king Amaziah 2 . The 
enemy was defeated with great slaughter 3 , and had to receive 
Hebrew garrisons into their cities. 

But this was only the beginning of atrocious vengeance. 
Joab 4 , when the troops returned from the Syrian war, stayed 
in the country for six whole months with an overpowering 
force, and deliberately attempted to kill every male Edomite. 
His battalions roved far and wide, and drove out those whom 
they could not catch. Hitherto Selah or Petra in Mount 
Seir had been the great centre of the Edomites ; but perhaps 
from this massacre the city of Teman to the east, and the 
much more 5 distant Bozra to the north-east, began to increase 
in Edomite population. The burying of the slain was itself 
a great labour: after which it devolved on David in person 
to regulate the future government of the empty land and 
miserable fraction of the nation whom policy at length spared. 
From this blow it was long before Idumaea could lift up its 
head. For thirty or forty years after, the Hebrew ascendency 

1 Superscription of Ps. Ix. 2 2 Kings, xiv. 7. 

3 In 2 Sam. viii. it is 18,000 men slain ; only 12,000 in the Superscription of 
Ps. Ix. Knowing what we do of the land of Edom, we cannot unhesitatingly 
receive even the smaller number. If a hostile army was popularly estimated at 
12,000, and if it was totally dispersed, an ode of triumph would easily represent 
12,000 as actually slain. Let this be understood in future, in regard to the 
more moderate numbers in the books of Kings. 

4 1 Kings, xi. 15, 16. 

5 There is great uncertainty as to the site of this city ; and the objections of 
many learned commentators to the Bozra of our maps appear to be well founded. 


was in Ml vigour there ; and for a century and a half no na- 
tional movement to throw it off could arise. The district, al- 
though generally rocky and barren, is not destitute of valleys, 
which (in comparison to the rest) have been called fruitful. 
We may presume that it was rich enough in sheep and goats 
to repay the trouble of rudely governing it. Yet it was am- 
bition and uncontrolled ferocity, not greedy calculation, which 
dictated a violence for which Judah in future generations was 
dearly to pay. But of that, nothing was then dreamed. The 
conquest raised Joab to high distinction, which only his bro- 
ther Abishai 1 shared with him. Praises, no doubt, in abun- 
dance were offered up to Jehovah, God of battles; and the 
people in general joyfully deduced from the whole the same 
moral as the historian : (f Jehovah preserveth David whither- 
soever he goeth." 

About this time, it may be believed, some prophet attached 
to the court, (if not Nathan himself,) addressed to David a 
solemn hymn, congratulating him alike on his victories and 
on his sacred character as a psalmist of Jehovah and a devout 
upholder of religion 3 . 

1. Jehovah said unto my lord [David], 

Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thy foes thy footstool. 
Jehovah sendeth out from Zion thy mighty sceptre ; 
Rule thou in the midst of thy foes. 

2. Jehovah sware, and will not repent : 

Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek. 

Jehovah, at thy right hand, strikes through kings in his day of wrath. 

3. [David] executes judgment on the nations, and fills them with carcases ; 
He wounds the heads over many countries. 

He drinks of the brook in the way; 
Therefore does he lift up the head. 

The star of David, in fact, was now culminating. Nothing 
had occurred to bedim its brightness, and according to the re- 
ligious theory of those days, he was eminently the beloved of 
Jehovah. Another pause of war took place, during which it 
is briefly recorded that he ' ' reigned over all Israel and ex- 
ecuted judgment and justice." When the same individual 
was chief administrator of war and peace, such a rest was 

1 1 Chron. xviii. 12 attributes the battle in the Yalley of Salt to Abishai. 

2 Psalm ex. 


signally needed, to provide for the government of his extended 
dominion. Now perhaps it was that more systematic ar- 
rangements were made concerning the crown-lands and the 
royal bailiffs, who were twelve in number, according to the 
later narrative 1 : over the treasury ; over the country stores ; 
over the tillage ; over the vineyards ; over the wine-cellars ; 
over the olive and sycamore trees ; over the oil-cellars ; over 
the herds in Sharon ; over the herds in the valleys ; over the 
camels ; over the asses ; over the flocks. At this same time 
we have the following list given us of David's cabinet by the 
older historian 2 : Joab, son of Zeruiah, was captain of the 
host ; Jehoshaphat, son of Ahilud, was recorder ; Zadok, son 
of Ahitub, and Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, were the two chief 
priests ; Seraiah was the scribe ; Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, was 
captain of the Cherethites and Pelethites : of whom also Da- 
vid's sons were chief officers. This Benaiah has already been 
named as a man of great valour, who had slain a lion. His 
father may have been that Jehoiada, chief of the Aaronites, 
who came to David at Hebron ; and a little later he is recorded 
as one of David's chief counsellors 3 . The son, like the prsefect 
of the praetorians under the Roman emperors, would natu- 
rally become the second person in the kingdom, and, as we 
shall see, ultimately supplanted Joab. 

His troops, the Cherethites and Pelethites, are now men- 
tioned for the first time, and it is contested whether their 
names indicate their foreign extraction or their office. Yet 
as the Cherethites are certainly a nation neighbouring to the 
Philistines 4 , the former opinion seems more probable. They 
do not include the 600 Gittites, of whom Ittai was the captain. 
It is reasonable to conjecture that David had employed He- 
brew troops to garrison the foreign territories, Damascus, 
Moab and Edom, and then, to augment his available army, 
had taken into' his pay formidable numbers of the southern 
barbarians, here called Cherethites and Pelethites, whom he 
would support by the tribute derived from foreign sources, 
without pressing on his own people. Thus he became more 
and more beyond the reach of constitutional control 5 . A 
slight circumstance gives us a rough date for these events. 

1 1 Chron. xxvii. 25-31. 2 2 Sam. viii. 16. 

3 1 Chron. xxvii. 34. 4 1 Sam. xxx. 14 ; Ezek. xxv. 16 ; Zeph. ii. 5, 

5 The details given us in 1 Chron. xxvii. concerning David's standing army 
cannot be received with any confidence, considering the prodigious credulity of 


The sons of David (it has been mentioned) were " chief offi- 
cers/' apparently of the Cherethites and Pelethites 1 , which 
implies that he had sons of manly age, and was far advanced 
in his reign. 

David now felt himself too strong on the throne to be jea- 
lous of the house of Saul, and for the first time remembered 
his friend Jonathan enough to bestow kindness on his repre- 
sentatives. One son only lived, by name Meribbaal ; whom 
later times contemptuously called Mephibosheth. This young 
man, being lame, could not be suspected of aspiring to the 
kingdom in a warlike age and against such a warrior as Da- 
vid. The king now restored to him all the private estate of 
Saul, and admitted him to a permanent place at his own table. 
Mephibosheth 2 was only five years old when his father Jona- 
than was slain ; but at the time of which we are treating, he 
had already, it is intimated, a young son named Micha, of 
whom at present no jealousy was felt by David. 

It may be here well to remark on the change which had 
been for some time going on as to the names 3 which the 
Hebrews gave to their children. In the earlier times the 
word God (El and Eli) had been a very usual component 4 . 
In the name Israel, as in Jezreel, Ammiel, Penuel, and a hun- 
dred others, we see an ending which is common to the He- 
brews with the tribes around them. From the time of Samuel 
onwards, the name Jehovah or Jah appears to become a more 
favourite element of names. We have already named Jeho- 
shaphat and JeAoiada as counsellors of David ; Zeraiah was 
David's sister ; Bena^aA and ^Uriah among his captains. Saul, 
as we have seen, had introduced the names Eshbaal and Me- 
ribbaal; but this was exceedingly resented; and from the 
time of David, the Jehovistic names gain so marked a pre- 
dominance, as to testify to the supremacy of the monotheistic 
doctrine. It is remarkable that Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel, 
received a Jehovistic name. 

The peace which followed the extirpation of the Edomites was 
first disturbed by a strange event out of which many disastrous 

that book in regard to figures. It however is there estimated that 288,000 men 
were kept constantly under training, of whom 24,000 were every month taken 
into more direct service by rotation. 

1 2 Sam. viii. 18. 2 2 Sam. iv. 5. 

3 Ewald, in Kitto's Biblical Cycl., Ai-t. NAMES. 

4 In fact, most ancient nations show this tendency, as in the Chaldee Ndbo- 
polassar, -flfeZwchadnezzar, and the Greek Dion, Poseidonius, Apollonius, etc. 


consequences arose. Nahash, king of the Ammonites, a former 
friend of David, died ; upon which the Hebrew monarch sent 
an embassy to condole with Hanun, the new king ; but the 
ambassadors were suspected to be spies, not unnaturally, 
when the Ammonites looked to their conquered neighbours, 
Moab and Edom; and Hanun sent them away with gross 
and characteristic insult 1 . Fearing then retaliation from 
David, Hanun plunged at once into hostilities and hired aid 
from two branches of the Syrians, the Rehobites 2 and Zo- 
bahites, also from the king of Maacah in the immediate north 
of the Hebrew territory, and from Ishtob or the Hauran. A 
coalition against David might in any case have been expected ; 
but this had broken out prematurely through the precipita- 
tion of the Ammonites, who ought scarcely to have volun- 
teered being principals in the war, while Hadadezer of Zobah 
was still powerful. The defence of Israel was again entrusted 
to Joab, for David appears now to have given up military for 
civil duties. The Hebrew army was enclosed between the 
Syrian confederates from the north, and the Ammonites from 
the east ; Joab therefore took a picked body with him against 
the Syrians, and sent his brother Abishai with the rest against 
the Ammonites. The hired army soon gave way before Joab 
and fled ; upon which the Ammonites were discouraged and 
retreated, seeing that Joab was coming up to join his brother 
against them. The Ammonites did not wish to risk farther 
loss, but shutting themselves up in a fortified place, endea- 
voured to re-assure and excite afresh their northern confede- 
rates ; and it is probable that this time they were successful 
in stirring up Hadadezer to a serious effort on his own account ; 
for we read of no farther payment for the Syrian troops, and 
Hadadezer gathered a new and very formidable army of cha- 
riots and horsemen from Mesopotamia as well as Syria. Joab 
on his part thought the danger so threatening, that he re- 
paired to Jerusalem to concert measures and increase his 
forces : and David himself now marched out in person, taking 
with him a general levy of all Israel. He crossed over Jordan, 
and made a long march beyond the Hebrew limits ; whether 
in order to save his own land from the ravages of the Syrian 
cavalry, or to engage it before it could form a junction with 

1 He shaved half their beards and cut off the lower part of their garments, 
so as to leave them half naked. 

2 The Rehobites are immediately on the northern frontier of Israel. 


the Ammonites. In a battle which took place at Helam (an 
unknown spot) , he was once more successful, and as usual, an 
exaggerated account is given of the number of slain 1 . This 
was the last blow needed by Hadadezer. He vanishes from 
the narrative, and his tributary chiefs in the neighbourhood 
of the Hebrews made submission to David. 

Internal evidence may incline us to believe, that about this 
time the twentieth Psalm was composed, as an address and 
encouragement to David in warring on the side of Jehovah. 

1. Jehovah, hear thee in the day of trouble ; 
The name of Jacob's God defend thee : 
Send thee help from the sanctuary, 
And strengthen thee out of Zion : 
Remember all thy offerings, 

Accept thy burnt sacrifice, 

Grant thee according to thine own. heart, 

And fulfil all thy counsel ! 

2. We will rejoice in thy preservation 
And in God's name set up our banners. 
Jehovah fulfil all thy petitions ! 

3. Now know I that Jehovah saveth his anointed. 
He heareth him from his holy heaven, 

With the strong aid of his right hand. 

Some trust in chariots, some in horses, 

But we will trust in the name of Jehovah our God. 

They 2 are brought down and fallen ; 

But we are risen and stand upright. 

4. Oh Jehovah, help thou the king ! 
Let him hear us when we cry to him. 

For the next campaign Joab was despatched against the 
Ammonites, and after desolating the country, laid siege to 
their chief city. Meanwhile David, now revelling in success, 
was smitten at Jerusalem by the beauty of Bathsheba, wife of 
Uriah the Hittite, one of his leading warriors. After grati- 
fying his guilty passion, and finding that he would not be able 
to conceal it from the injured husband, he was base enough to 

1 2 Sam. x. 18. Forty thousand horsemen, and the men of seven hundred cha- 
riots. The Chronicler increases the chariots to seven thousand : 1 Chr. xix. 18. 

2 Namely the Zobahites ? Ewald regarded this Psalm by its Hebrew style 
to be of the Davidical age. 


order Joab so to expose the brave Uriah in battle, as to assure 
that he would be slain by the Ammonites. Joab obeyed with- 
out scruple, and by succeeding added one link more to the 
chain by which he held the infatuated king. 

The war lingered on ; but the enemy was still shut up in 
his walls, and, receiving no aid from Syria, was at length 
reduced to helplessness. The chief town appears to have 
consisted of two separate fortifications, of which one was the 
royal palace, called also the Water-City, probably from its 
commanding access to the supply of water. This was actually 
captured by the Israelites, who thus had the enemy at their 
mercy. But the conqueror of Edom was prudent enough not 
to encounter the royal jealousy, by winning for himself the 
new name of conqueror of the Ammonites. He therefore 
sent and urged David to come down in person and take pos- 
session of the city, which was no longer able to resist. The 
Hebrew Monarch felt the importance of the occasion; and 
revenge, as well as pride, was now to be gratified. The Am- 
monite king had rejected his friendly offices with insult, had 
plunged into hostilities, and kindled a flame against him which 
reached beyond the Euphrates. True, this had only displayed 
and increased the might of Israel; yet it was not the less 
needful, signally to manifest to subject nations that that might 
was not to be assailed without the most terrible retribution. 
David accordingly gathered an imposing host, and having 
marched without delay, captured the city immediately on his 
arrival. The crown of the Ammonite king, (which is stated 
to have weighed a talent of gold, and to have been set with 
precious stones,) was with all form placed upon David's head, 
and all the valuables of the city were seized as public spoil. 
After the cold-blooded execution inflicted on the Moabites, 
and the deliberate effort to extirpate the whole nation of 
Edom, it was only to be expected that a still more horrible 
doom would fall upon the Ammonite people. Not those only 
who were found in the Rabba, (or chief city,) but the inhabi- 
tants of all the towns of Ammon were brought out and executed 
by various modes of torture 1 , which are specified as " putting 
them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and passing them 

1 My ignorance has been very severely handled by reviewers, for imagining 
that tortures are intended by the narrator. I have certainly been aware, since 
I was a child, that many respectable critics think hard labour is intended : but 
they do not convince me. 


through the brick-kiln." No enumeration is attempted of 
those who thus suffered, but the vagueness of the language 
implies that such tortures were inflicted on all who could be 

By this dreadful triumph the military supremacy of David 
seemed to be finally confirmed, and with it his despotic autho- 
rity over his own people. If about this time the twenty-first 
Psalm was composed in his honour, (as the English reader 
easily persuades himself 1 ), the praise was destined shortly to 
become as a cup of gall to the miserable man. He returned 
home from his public display to suffer the pangs of a guilty 
conscience on the matter of Uriah and his wife. With a haste 
that barely observed the most necessary rules of decorum, he 
had publicly espoused Bathsheha, as soon as the days of 
mourning for Uriah were completed. This probably indi- 
cates only one full month 2 . Even if David could have better 
dissembled his passion, his guilt could not have been kept 
secret, and the prophet Nathan was bold enough to rebuke 
and denounce his deed. The self-condemned monarch had 
too much susceptibility left to resent the interference. He 
had not been hardened in iniquity by a series of petty unre- 
pented sins, but had plunged headlong into one complicated 
and enormous crime. Happily for himself, he now confessed 
his guilt ; but the past could not be recalled, and the rest of 
his reign was sullied by domestic shame, misery and confusion. 

The first outbreak of retribution came upon him from the 
unbridled passion of his eldest son Amiion. This young man, 
having conceived a love for his half-sister Tamar, by the 
advice of his cousin Jonadab 3 entrapped her into his chamber 
and brutally ravished her. Great as was the rage of the king, 
remembrance of his own crime withheld him from punishing 
his son, and Absalom, whose full sister Tamar was, undertook 

1 The substance of the meaning agrees better with this period in the time of 
David, than with the reign of Jehoshaphat, which is the next best place for it. 
V. 4 is the usual oriental hyperbole ; compare Ps. ex. 4, and Dan. ii. 4, iii. 9. 
If v. 3 ought not to be referred to the Ammonite crown, yet vv. 8-11 excellently 
agree with punishment of that people. Ewald however thinks the style of 
Ps. xxi. too polished and soft to be Davidical. 

2 Such was the time allowed to a beautiful captive, in Deut. xxi. 11 ; and was 
also the time of mourning for Moses, Deut. xxxiv. 8. 

3 Jonadab was son of Shimeah, David's brother. The extreme improbability 
of his giving such advice may lead to many surmises : but no sharpness of 
thought will enable even contemporaries to pierce through the dark deeds which 
oriental harems hide. 


to avenge her himself. At his next sheep-shearing he invited 
all his brothers to a banquet, in the course of which his ser- 
vants assailed and slew Amnon. As for Absalom, he in- 
stantly fled to his grandfather Talmai, king of Geshur, who 
was likely to applaud his deed ; while David, torn in pieces 
between sorrow for Tamar and Amnon, and love for Absalom, 
for three whole years took no farther step in the matter. 

The subtle Joab, who narrowly watched the king's mind, 
perceived that he was desirous of Absalom' s return ; and the 
cautious steps by which he proceeded to move for it, indicate 
the oriental despotism now reigning in David's court. He 
suborned a woman of Tekoah to act the part of a mourner, 
and tell a fictitious tale calculated to arouse the paternal 
affection of the king ; after winning his ear and his favour, 
she ended by entreating him to " fetch home his banished." 
David perceived that it was Joab's contrivance, but assented 
to the suggestion. Absalom was accordingly brought back 
to Jerusalem, but the king refused to set eyes upon him for 
two full years more. This was a sore trial to the young man, 
who was already looking forward with impatience to the day 
when he should succeed his father on the throne. He per- 
haps had still an elder brother, Chileab 1 , born of Abigail the 
Carmelitess ; but his own birth of a king's daughter seemed 
to give him the preference. Nevertheless, this must depend 
upon David's favour ; and he was uneasy to see his brothers 
occupied in public offices, and moving freely in the king's 
court, while he was himself shut up in a private station. By 
a strange and violent stratagem 2 , he forced Joab to introduce 
him to David's presence, and an apparent reconciliation took 
place. The king (it is said) "kissed Absalom;" but the re- 
sult shows that Absalom's ambition was only stimulated, not 
gratified. He discerned perhaps that David's heart only, and 
not his judgment, was moved in his favour, and that while he 
loved Absalom best, he might still choose another son for his 
successor. No time was to be lost, it seemed, and Absalom 
plunged into a headlong career. 

Of his own personal accomplishments he was doubtless fully 
conscious. The same remarkable beauty and winning man- 
ners which excited his father's fondness, drew also the ad- 
miration of the people, who are likely to have forgiven his 

1 It is not certain that Chileab was still alive. 

2 By burning Joab's barley-field. 


brother's murder, considering the enormity of the provoca- 
tion ; and he flattered himself perhaps, that the odium under 
which the old king lay on account of Uriah the Hittite, would 
aid his attempts. Having gained at length the right of pre- 
senting himself freely at court, he now used his position there 
to seduce, hy blandishments, promises and seditious insinua- 
tions, the suitors who came from various parts ; and in order 
to make a semiregal display, he equipped for himself chariots 
and horses (a new luxury in Israel) with fifty outrunners. 
Under pretence of paying a vow in Hebron, he repaired 
thither with 200 men ; and after seizing that strong town, 
David's original seat of government, he had himself pro- 
claimed king by sound of trumpet, in many parts of Israel 
simultaneously. David was confounded both by the unex- 
pectedness of the event, and by the fear that it implied general 
disaffection. In this exigence, when news came of fresh and 
fresh revolt, he could trust none but his foreign troops, the 
Cherethites, Pelethites and Gittites, with all of whom he 
marched out of Jerusalem, utterly uncertain whither to betake 
himself 1 . Zadok however and Abiathar, and the whole 
priestly body, held firm to him, and were willing to have car- 
ried out the ark of God to accompany his flight ; but he re- 
manded them to Jerusalem, and recommended his faithful 
counsellor Hushai to join the party of Absalom and undermine 
by craft the crafty advice of Ahithophel, an unprincipled but 
very able man who had espoused Absalom's cause. Ahitho- 
phel well understood that for a son who conspires against his 
father there can be no half-measures ; and he urged Absalom 
to take public possession of his father's concubines 2 , as an 
indisputable demonstration of deadly feud; advice upon which 
Absalom forthwith acted. Ahithophel moreover pressed him 
instantly to chase David with an overwhelming force, and 
slay him before he could recover himself. But Hushai now 
interfered with specious reasons, and spoiled the counsel of 
Ahithophel, who forthwith went home and hanged himself. 
At the same time David received tidings of his danger through 
Hushai and Zadok, and with no farther delay crossed the Jor- 
dan to the city of Mahhanaim, where Ishbosheth had reigned. 

1 It is judged by Ewald to be a true tradition, which states that David in his 
present distress composed the third Psalm. That he does not name Absalom 
is not to be wondered at. 

2 David had probably taken his wives with him. 


Here lie received abundant supplies from three men, whose 
names have deserved record. The first was no other than 
Shobi, son of the Ammonite Nahash, perhaps become David's 
viceroy on the deposition of his brother Hanun; the second 
was Machir of Lodebar, who had acted as host and father to 
Mephibosheth, until David took notice of him : this man was 
in all probability a warm friend of the house of Saul. The third 
was the aged and blind chieftain Barzillai the Gileadite. In 
this pastoral district wealth consisted chiefly in cattle and food : 
brave men abounded, who at the call of their leaders flocked 
round their legitimate king, and a powerful army was soon 

Absalom had pursued his father over Jordan into Gilead, 
taking as the captain of his host Amasa, son of Ithra or Jether 
the Ishmaelite, and of Abigail 1 , David's sister. A decisive 
battle was fought in a place called the Forest of Ephraim (a 
name which might mislead us into the belief that it was west 
of Jordan), and David's people were victorious. Absalom is 
said to have met with a most singular fate. In riding through 
the forest in violent haste, his head was caught by the boughs 
of an oak, and he was left dangling in the air by the escape of 
his mule. On receiving news of this, Joab made haste to slay 
him before the king should be able to interfere ; for David had 
solemnly commanded all to spare his son's life. In any other 
man than Joab, this might be called patriotism and loyalty ; 
nor in fact can we doubt that it was substantially sound 
judgment. A son who had waged war so implacable on his 
father could never again be wisely trusted. In open battle 
Joab had earned a just right to slay this youth, whose life was 
so dangerous to his father, his father's friends, and the peace 
of the nation ; and David himself, when his first grief was 
past, would praise his zeal and his prudence. The immediate 
effect however was the very opposite. David displayed a 
public and tumultuous grief for his son's death, which was un- 
doubtedly most unseemly, after so many brave men had fallen 
in defending the king from his attack ; and when Joab boldly 
remonstrated against his proceedings, he with difficulty sup- 
pressed his disgust. 

A new doubt embarrassed him. So easy had been Absalom's 
success at Hebron, as to make the attachment of David's own 

1 Whether Abigail was mother or step-mother to Amasa, is left doubtful in 
2 Sam. xvii. 25; but 1 Chron. ii. 17 is distinct. 


tribe of Judah highly questionable ; and he feared to return, 
unless brought back by their voluntary zeal. In hope of ex- 
citing it, he sent to Zadok and Abiathar, distinctly calling on 
them to escort him home ; and by another highly imprudent 
message to his nephew Amasa, Absalom's captain, promised 
to make him chief-captain in place of Joab. A senile imbe- 
cility, it may be suspected, had already stolen over the king, 
whose conduct, ever since the announcement of Absalom's re- 
volt, had been unaccountably weak. He could hardly expect 
that Abishai, who with Joab and Ittai the Gittite had com- 
manded the forces against Absalom, would endure to have 
disgrace put on his brother at such a time and from such a 
cause ; and if he thus trifled away the affections of the men 
who had just risked their all for him, it would be a poor con- 
solation that he had bought by bribes the momentary allegi- 
ance of those, who, but now, had armed against his life. In 
fact, he was still in the hands of Joab and his brother, and 
needed their aid to escape a new and immediate danger. 

In the late revolt, the unshrinking impiety of Absalom had 
led many of his party into courses for which they despaired 
of forgiveness: disaffection was of necessity widely spread, 
and a quarrel which arose between the men of Judah and the 
rest of the Israelites, on the occasion of David's return, in- 
spired new hopes in the seditious. Sheba, the son of Bichri, 
observing the disgust felt by the rest at the fierce assumption 
of the men of Judah, set up a new standard of revolt, and was 
presently followed by formidable numbers. The king gave 
orders to Amasa to assemble the forces of Judah in three days, 
and pursue Sheba before the movement should grow into actual 
revolution; but, from whatever causes, Amasa was longer 
than the time appointed, and David was forced to commission 
his other nephew Abishai to put down the alarming conspi- 
racy. This was enough for the two sons of Zeruiah, who went 
both together, though one only had been sent. They fell in 
with their cousin Amasa at Gibeon, and Joab without hesita- 
tion murdered him in the highway, just as, many years before, 
he had murdered Abner. Then resuming the pursuit of Sheba, 
he shut him up in Abel Bethmaachah ; where the people of 
the town, to escape a siege, cut off" Sheba' s head and threw it 
over the wall 1 . Such was the end of this tragical commotion, 

1 This is the most probable crisis of David's life for his composing the 18th 


which left behind it many serious feuds, and damaged all par- 
ties concerned. We must here name some particulars which 
affected the family of Saul. 

Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, immediately upon Absa- 
lom' s rebellion, slandered his master to David, as now filled 
with hopes of getting the throne for himself; and David, in 
such a time of trial, credulously receiving the statement, be- 
stowed upon Ziba (so far as Jris royal word still had pow r er) 
all the estates of the son of Jonathan. On David's return, 
Mephibosheth presented himself in person, and complained 
of his servant's calumny; alleging (it would seem) that Ziba 
had taken to himself the credit of the presents which Mephi- 
bosheth had sent by his hand to David, and that nothing but 
lameness had prevented Mephibosheth from following the king 
in his flight. That David felt he had been precipitate and 
unjust, is clear by his conduct : he ordered Ziba to restore 
half of the estate to Mephibosheth. It cannot be doubted, 
that since it had become manifest how little the king retained 
the hearts of his people, a new jealousy of the house of Saul 
had come over him. The son of Jonathan was indeed lame ; 
but he had a son, Micha, who might in a few years prove a 
troublesome aspirant, as the legitimate representative of Saul's 
eldest-born. Besides, Sheba, the late rebel, was a Benjamite : 
and Shimei of Gerar, a near relative of Saul, had cast stones, 
and still more cruel curses, at David ; and though, on his way 
towards Jerusalem, the king would not permit Abishai to 
punish Shimei, and pronounced over him a public solemn 
pardon, a later event would prove, (if we could trust the 
statements,) that this was merely ostentatious policy, and not 
Christian forgiveness. A jealous policy now dictated to 
cripple all the family of Saul, as far as it could be done 
under forms of justice, and Mephibosheth accordingly was 
doomed to forfeit half his estate. This was the more un- 
gracious, inasmuch as Mephibosheth' s old friend and host, 
Machir of Lodebar, had been so eminent in generosity to- 
wards David and his destitute army in the late deplorable 

It would have been well if this had been all ; but a darker 
and bloodier plot was to follow, suggested by the occurrence 
of a three years' famine. It is now well understood, that, as 
in the frequent tossing up of a crown-piece there will occur 
periodically (what are called) "runs of luck" on the side of 


the heads 1 , so the seasons, which commonly vary within nar- 
row limits, at distant times exhibit more prolonged series of 
very good or very bad weather. When poverty, improvi- 
dence, or the ravages of civil war aggravate the calamity of 
several bad seasons, real famine arises, which an ignorant age 
imputes to a divine judgment. In the case before us, there 
possibly was a divine retribution of a certain kind ; for the 
recent convulsions may truly have had much to do with the 
famine. But it was very undesirable that the nation should 
think thus, and some other reason was needed. David in- 
quired solemnly of Jehovah, (we may suppose, by Urim and 
Thummim,) what was the cause of the calamity. Common 
conscience might perhaps have replied : it is on account of 
our impious civil war ; or for Absalom' s fratricide and incest ; 
or for Amnon's brutal lust; or for David's murder of Uriah 
and adultery with Bathsheba ; or (if national deeds could have 
been thought of) for the tortured Ammonites, for the slaugh- 
tered Edomites and Moabites. Far otherwise ran the priestly 
response, in the name of Jehovah : It is for Saul, and for his 
bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. 

How Saul massacred the priests at Nob, is distinctly re- 
corded ; concerning his slaughter of the Gibeonites, who waited 
on the tabernacle, we know nothing ; but as it cannot have 
been more atrocious than the former, it . is impossible to help 
feeling that the vengeance here in name exacted for the one 
crime, was in fact demanded for the other. But whatever the 
guilt of Saul, his grandchildren were innocent. Most rude 
nations have approved of cutting off the children of a traitor 
simultaneously with the father 2 ; and if the priestly party had 
murdered Saul and all his family in the crudeness of passion, 
no one could criticize it. But when he had been some thirty 
years in his grave, when his legitimate sons also had perished, 
and all their children except Mephibosheth, then to lay on 
his daughter's sons the sin of a grandfather, was an iniquity 

1 This whole argument, and the phraseology, was taken by me from an article 
in the Penny Cyclopaedia, which seeks to illustrate the subject without the re- 
motest idea of theological controversy. Yet it has drawn upon me the grave 
rebuke of the British Quarterly, which feels " lively regret " that my religion 
"has not taught me tolerance of speech for the views taken by others." For- 
sooth, I am to expound the doctrine of chances, without alluding to anything 
so vulgar or trivial as the tossing of a penny or casting of a die ! 

2 The law of Moses, as we now read it (Deut. xxiv. 16), especially forbids it : 
but we shall do very ill to assume, that David had the book of Deuteronomy at 
his side. 


so shocking to common feeling as to need no Ezekiel to re- 
buke it 1 . Such however was the course of events : David 
asked the Gibeonites what atonement would satisfy them, 
and they demanded seven male descendants of Saul " to hang 
up before Jehovah" on Saul's own estate of Gibeah. The 
king remembered his romantic attachment to Jonathan 2 , and 
spared that branch of the family ; but he devoted the five sons 
of Merab 3 , daughter of Saul, and the two sons of Saul's con- 
cubine Rizpah. These seven men the Gibeonites took, and 
hanged them, as they had proposed. The bereaved Eizpah, 
says our narrator, " spread sackcloth for her on the rock, from 
the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out 
of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest 
upon them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night." 
This indicates that even their burial had been forbidden ; as 
if a mother's heart were not sufficiently wrung by the slaughter 
of her innocent sons, unless their corpses also be treated with 
contumely. It is a melancholy thing, that Christians can so 
ill read the lessons of both their Testaments, as to believe that 
God could approve of this human sacrifice 4 . 

But this did not suffice. It was requisite to obliterate 
every monument of Saul's reign, and to impress as deeply as 
possible on the public mind that this guilty family was for 
ever to be degraded into a private station. Accordingly, the 
bones of Saul and Jonathan were disinterred from Jabesh 
Gilead, and conveyed to the sepulchre of Kish, Saul's father. 
After this, it was believed, the pollution of the land having 
been removed, God was appeased and fruitful seasons re- 

It was to be expected that such internal convulsions would 

Ezek. xviii., whole chapter. In short, v. 20, " the sou shall not bear the 
uity of the father." 

2 The narrator (2 Sam. xxi. 7) attributes David's exemption of Mephibosheth 
to the oath of Jehovah between .David and Jonathan. But there was, accord- 
ing to the account, a similar oath between David and Saul, 1 Sam. xxiv. 20, 21. 

3 Michal in the common version, for Merab, is undoubtedly an error. See 
1 Sam. xviii. 19, where it appears that Merab was given in marriage to Adriel 
the Meholathite, the father of these five innocent victims. One of the two sons 
of Saul by Kizpah, daughter of Aiah, was called Mephibosheth, as well as the 
son of Jonathan. 

The ' North British Review' defends this barbarous murder under the forms 
of religion, and calls me a caviller. No. 31, p. 125. I am sorry to hear the re- 
port, that that article, with its false quotations, false representations and unmo- 
ral reasonings, was pressed upon the Editor by an AECHBISHOP. The Editor 
can contradict this, if he pleases, but I feel assured that he will not. 




excite the oppressed foreign nations to revolt. Of these, none 
bore the yoke so ill as the Philistines, who not only remem- 
bered how recently they had been superior to the Hebrews in 
arms as well as in arts, but who, by living in towns under 
civic constitutions, had become accustomed to municipal in- 
dependence. The Edomites and the adjoining nations had 
been too much weakened by enormous destruction to make 
head against Israel as yet ; and besides, it mattered less to 
them to be subject to a Hebrew instead of a native king, if 
the former were moderate in his demands : but the more re- 
publican Philistines, like the Phoenicians and the Greeks, ill 
endured any foreign dominion, and panted for freedom. 
About this period four severe battles are recorded, which re- 
sulted from the attempts of the Philistines to shake off the 
Hebrew yoke. In the first, David was nearly slain by a Phi- 
listine champion, but was saved by his heroic nephew Abishai. 
In each of the four battles one gigantic Philistine is said to 
have been killed, which throws an unhistorical air over the 
details. In fact, it is manifest that these are erroneous ; for 
a brother of Goliath, who was a man in full strength when 
David was a youth, is represented as the Philistine hero, in 
a battle fought when David was enfeebled with age, and no 
longer allowed to expose himself to the enemy (2 Sam. xxi. 
17, 19). Abishai also must have been growing old. 

One notable event is recorded, apparently in the later years 
of this prince, but without a date : the occurrence of a pes- 
tilence. A superstition inevitable in that age ascribed it to 
some definite sin nationally incurred ; and instead of imputing 
it as a judgment on Israel for their massacres of the adjoining 
nations, a fantastical trespass was imagined. David had done 
what every prudent king will do, and (we may add) what 
every ruler who wishes to do his duty must do; he had 
taken a census of his people. Of course, in his long reign of 
internal prosperity, the numbers of the Hebrew nation had 
greatly increased 1 ; which would be to all a subject of con- 

1 The numbers in 2 Sam. xxiv. 9 are, 800,000 fighting men of Israel, and 
500,000 of Judah ; while in 1 Chron. xxi. 5, they are 1,100,000 of Israel, and 
470,000 of Judah. Strange to add, 1 Chron. xxvii. 24 says that the enumera- 
tion was never completed. The very distinction of Israel and Judah may warn 
us that the estimates belong to a later period ; for in David's reign, Judah was 
a word which excluded Benjamin, and was opposed to the eleven tribes (or to 
the twelve, including Levi), not to the ten. It is absurd to imagine that Judah 
was, to all Israel beside, in the ratio of 500 to 800, or even as 470 to 1100, 


gratulation and pride. When therefore a pestilence occurred, 
by which (it was estimated) 70,000 persons died, this was 
looked on as a punishment for his having numbered the peo- 
ple. Such is the only historical view which we can take of 
the transaction. The Jewish records however represent Jeho- 
vah as sending Gad the seer to David, and allowing him to 
choose one of three miseries ; seven years of famine, three 
months of defeat by enemies, or three days' pestilence. Of 
these, David chose the last ; and when the plague was ended, 
propitiated Jehovah by burnt offerings and peace-offerings at 
the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite 1 , where David 
had seen the destroying angel standing, when Jehovah bade 
him to withhold his hand. 

Yet the whole idea that the pestilence was a judgment 
on David, was perhaps of later origin. If, as there is some 
ground to think, Psalm xci. was composed by David on oc- 
casion of a pestilence, this must apparently have been the 
sera : the Psalmist there appears wholly unconscious of guilt, 
and full of a noble faith. Time had doubtless assuaged the 
deep wounds of David's spirit, and his calamities had not 
been without their profit. To a late period of his life we may 
probably refer the fine 32nd Psalm, which breathes high 
confidence and confirmed wisdom in the midst of its penitence ; 
and reminds us how imperfectly we can judge of the secret 
workings of men's hearts, whose political actions alone we 
know. The last piece written by David is also preserved 
(2 Sam. xxiii.), but its beauty is dimmed to us by its great 
difficulty and consequent imperfect translation. The centre 
stanza contains its main object, which is, to hold up a high 
ideal of a good ruler, which ne confesses he has not in his 
own administration realized. 

A righteous ruler over men, ruling in the fear of God, 

Is as morning light when the sun arises, 

As a morning without clouds, 

As the green blade from the earth by sunshine and by rain. 

It ends by lamenting that worthless men cannot be ruled by 
gentleness, but must be constrained by weapons of war, 

which seems to be a corrected estimate. In 2 Sam. xix. 43 is a similar ana- 
clironism ; where the men of Israel say they have ten parts in the king as com- 
pared to the men of Judah. 

1 David buys the floor of Araunah for fifty shekels of silver in 2 Sam. xxiv. 
24, but for six hundred shekels of gold in 1 Chron. xxi. 25, Such exaggerations 
are throughout characteristic of the Chronicles. 

F 2 



After the Philistine outbreak was ended, the increased 
weakness of the aged king had become evident, and new un- 
easiness concerning the succession to the throne broke out 
among his sons. Of his second son Chileab, we know no- 
thing : Amnon and Absalom, the first and third, were slain, 
the fourth was Adonijah, son of Haggith, who, like Absalom, 
had many personal attractions, and had been a favourite of 
his father. He was now perhaps the eldest son, and hardly 
believed that his father could mean to give the kingdom to 
any of the younger ones. Bathsheba however, the widow of 
Uriah, continued to hold a great ascendency over David. 
She must have been much younger than the mothers of his 
elder children ; and her son Solomon, as a son of old age, 
was likely to win the susceptible mind of a prince, whose 
power of decisive action was exceedingly weakened by his 
time of life. Adonijah thought it the safest plan to seize the 
kingdom, and so forestal Bathsheba's intrigues ; and he found 
a certain part of David's own cabinet ready to aid him. Joab 
had probably been disaffected ever since David endeavoured 
to supersede him as captain of the host ; and his influence 
with the army might seem to promise all that Adonijah could 
wish from that quarter, when Joab joined his cause. Of 
Abishai we hear no more, and perhaps he had recently died. 
But the priest Abiathar was another important ally. He was 
grandson of the grandson of Eli, tracing his genealogy by 
Phinehas, Ahitub and Ahimelech; and as his father and 
family were all murdered by Saul for David's sake, it may 
be suspected that he made larger claims on David's gratitude 
than were permanently admitted. With the details we are 
not acquainted; but we find indications that Zadok, who at 
first was appointed over the tabernacle at Gibeon, was also 
admitted to minister before the ark in Jerusalem, jointly with 
Abiathar, though still the chief rank rested with the latter. 
It is possible that Abiathar thought, by joining Adonijah, to 
secure for himself and his male posterity the pre-eminent 
position which he was in danger of losing through Zadok. 
With the head of the army and the head of the priesthood to 
aid him, Adonijah now, like his brother Absalom, went out 
in royal style, ' ' with chariots and horsemen and fifty outrun- 
ners," and having made a great sacrifice at the stone of Zohe- 
leth near Enrogel, invited all the king's sons except Solomon, 
with the chief men of Judah, to a public banquet, at which he 


intended formally to assume the honours of royalty. He had 
kept clear of inviting those who were known to be of Solo- 
mon's party; these are specified as Nathan the prophet, 
Zadok the priest, Benaiah commander of the foreign body- 
guard, and " the mighty men ;" by which we are to understand 
the celebrated warriors who fought round the king's person 
in battle. 

Judging by the analogy of other despotisms, we may believe 
that the king had come to lean more and more on his foreign 
body-guard. We have seen that in the revolt of Absalom he 
was able at once to count on the fidelity of the Cherethites, 
Pelethites and Gittites, when the allegiance of the general 
army was doubtful and divided. This must have taught a 
lesson not to be neglected ; and considering the very flourish- 
ing state of the finances, we can hardly doubt that Benaiah' s 
troops were at present the most effective and perhaps the 
most numerous part of David's standing army. Benaiah 
had thus become a more important person than Joab ; and 
his force -now obtained the empire for Solomon. Bathsheba 
first broke to David the unpleasant secret, and with the help 
of Nathan induced him to take immediate measures for se- 
curing the succession of the throne. Benaiah marched has- 
tily with his guards and surprised Adonijah while yet at the 
banquet. The guests were dispersed and Solomon was pro- 
claimed king. No immediate notice was taken of the chief 
actors in this conspiracy. Solomon indeed publicly pardoned 
his brother Adonijah for the past ; nevertheless it is certain 
that, together with Joab and Abiathar, he was from that day 
devoted to ruin. 

Soon after these events the strength of David sank rapidly. 
With his last breath he charged Solomon to remember grate- 
fully the services of old Barzillai the Gileadite, and admit his 
sons to the royal table ; but to find some pretext for putting 
to death Joab son of Zeruiah, and Shimei the Benjamite, 
whom, some ten years before, he had ostentatiously pardoned 
for cursing him. So at least our record states ; but it is very 
credible that David was more sincere in his forgiveness, and 
that his charge to Solomon against these two persons is no 
more true than the charge of Augustus to Tiberius Caesar to 
put to death his daughter and her son. The tyrant who 
slays for his own policy shifts the crime on to the memory of 
his predecessor. 



David the son of Jesse, after a reign of forty years, closed his 
eyes to all mortal ambition, and slept with his fathers. Of 
him we may say, as of some other very eminent persons, it 
would have been well had he died before absolute power had 
corrupted him. The complicated baseness involved in his 
murder of Uriah so casts his honour in the dust, that thence- 
forth we rather pity and excuse than admire him. All the 
brilliancy, alike of his chivalry and of his piety, is sullied, and 
cold minds suspect his religious raptures of hypocrisy 1 . If 
Nathan had been able to slash open the monarch's conscience, 
before the wen of wickedness had swelled into a carbuncle, 
most happy might it have been ; but we cannot wonder that 
it was so very hard to curb a despotic and victorious prince. 
David was not indeed an Antoninus, an Alfred, or a Saint 
Louis ; yet neither was he one of the vulgar herd of kings. 
The polygamy in which he indulged so injuriously must in 
part be laid to his personal weakness, when we observe how 
restrained (in comparison) was his predecessor Saul 2 . Never- 
theless, as a man, he was affectionate and generous, sympa- 

1 The second of my North British reviewers (No. 35, p. 151) cannot bear 
that I should discriminate men's good and evil. " The ribaldry of Paine," says 
this writer, " itself is a relief, logically speaking, compared with this combina- 
tion of kissing and smiting under the fifth rib" And p. 150, "Every eulogy 
[in Mr. Newman] has some reservation ; every compliment some sting in its 
tail. Of David we are told that all the brilliancy alike of his chivalry and 
of his piety is sullied, and cold minds suspect his religious raptures of hypo- 
crisy. The prophets, from Joel to Isaiah, are only lauded at the expense of 
their successors." I previously knew much of the bigotry of the (so-called) 
Evangelical School, but I also knew much of their virtues ; and I did not ex- 
pect that any one would malign me for dropping a word of reprobation on the 
great crime of David. I fully believe that most readers of that review will 
think the writer regards my praise as hypocritical : for how can he call it 
" kissing and smiting under the fifth rib," to praise sincerely, and dispraise con- 
scientiously ? But this writer has privately assured me (what he declines to 
inform his readers, otherwise than by the phrase logically speaking,} that it is 
not his moral but his logical sense which is offended, that I can so absurdly 
mingle praise and blame ! If he had said this intelligibly to the public, I should 
not fear that any readers would think the worse of my consistency or shi 
with him at my preposterous logic. But he has chosen so to write, in lang 

of moral inflammation, that ninety -nine readers out of a hundred will believe 
that he is charging me with patronizing lies, sympathizing with imposture, and 
acting the impostor myself. 

2 Saul, as far as we know, had only one wife and one concubine, Kizpah ; and 
it is quite possible that the wife was removed by death before the concubine 
was espoused, since Kizpah' s children are named in company with their nephews, 
as if much younger than Saul's legitimate sons. A concubine, in ancient 
times, was only a wife of inferior rank, and the union was just as permanent as 
with a wife. 


thetic and constitutionally pious : as a king, his patronage of 
religious persons was highly judicious, and his whole devo- 
tional character of permanent importance to the best interests 
of his people and of mankind ; as a warrior, he taught Israel 
a mutual confidence and common pride in Jehovah their God ; 
and first elevated his countrymen into a ruling and leading 
race, whose high place it was to legislate for and teach the 
heathen around. His career may serve to warn all who are 
wanting in depth of passion or enlarged knowledge of human 
nature, that those on whose conduct society has relaxed its 
wholesome grasp are not to be judged of by their partial out- 
breaks of evil, but by the amount of positive good which they 
habitually exhibit. Compared with the great statesmen of 
the educated nations of Europe, David's virtues and vices 
appear alike puerile ; but among Asiatics he was a great man ; 
and of his own posterity, though several, who were happily 
subjected to greater restraints, were far more consistent in 
goodness, there is none who more attracts our interest and our 
love than the heroic and royal Psalmist. 




SAUL and David had each of them been installed in the 
throne of Israel by the solemn act of the elders, as kings 
accepted by the free voice of the nation, and bound to respect 
its liberties. But Solomon was elevated to the supreme au- 
thority by his father's will and by the aid of the irresistible 
body-guard 1 ; not indeed without the sanction of Zadok the 
priest and Nathan the prophet ; yet the helplessness of Abia- 
thar, the elder priest and the representative of Eli, showed 
clearly enough that the swords of Benaiah were now the de- 
cisive influence. Israel in fact had for years been accustomed 
to address David with unmanly servility; and although the 
old king's popularity had been thoroughly worn out, the na- 

1 The Chronicler not merely passes over the conspiracy of Adonijah, and the 
prompt military proceedings of David by which Solomon was made king, but 
introduces an account intended to glorify the constitutional decorum and reli- 
gious spirit of the whole proceeding (1 Chr. xxviii. xxix.). David (says he) as- 
sembled all the princes of the nation, civil and military, and told them of the 
earnest desire which he had felt to build a temple to Jehovah ; but Jehovah had 
forbidden him, as having been a warrior, but had now chosen his son Solomon to 
succeed him and build the temple. David then delivers to Solomon an exact 
" pattern" of the temple and all its furniture, with all the materials of precious 
or common metals, precious stones and marble, and requests the princes to con- 
tribute to the same sacred object. Of course they contribute with a zeal very 
edifying to the people of Nehemiah. Then follows a thanksgiving by David, of 
such eminent beauty, that for the sake of it we can almost pardon the fabulous 
history in which it has been imbedded. Afterwards is a sacrifice of 1000 bullocks, 
1000 rams and 1000 lambs, preparatory to the final object of the whole meeting, 
the free election of Solomon by the assembly to be Icing, in confirmation of his elec- 
tion by Jehovah. The untrustworthiness of the whole is strongly marked in its 
last words that the congregation simultaneously elected Zadok to be priest. 
This is directly opposed to the book of Kings. Abiathar continued to be the 
priest until after the death of Adonijah. The Chronicler did not like to confess 
that Zadok was indebted for his sacred pre-eminence to the mere will of a des- 
potic prince, who broke the hierarchical succession. In the Chronicles, not only 
is the disgrace of Abiathar omitted, but no notice of him occurs in the history 
except the formal statement that " Abimelech son of Abiathar" was colleague of 
Zadok, 1 Chr. xviii. 16, which is in error reproduced from 2 Sam. viii. 17. 


tion was ready to welcome his youthful son with a credulous 
loyalty. In young princes, as yet uncorrupted by power, and 
guiltless of the evil deeds by which it was won, the common 
people enthusiastically believe a superhuman virtue to exist; and 
as the administration passed into Solomon's hands, before 
death surprized his aged father, the new reign commenced 
without any shock or felt internal jar. 

There appears nevertheless to have been some commotion 
among the foreign nations now subject to the Hebrew sway. 
They might naturally expect feebleness in a young king, who 
had never headed an army, and they may have reckoned on 
some internal disorders to aid them. Our accounts of this 
reign are too defective as to all foreign affairs, to allow of 
appeal to historical details ; but an echo has been preserved 
to us of certain attempts to throw off the yoke, in a celebrated 
psalm (Ps.-ii.) composed in honour of Solomon's empire by 
a prophet of the day, who seems to put the words into the 
mouth of Solomon himself. 

1. Why rage the peoples ? and why do the nations plan things vain ? 
Why assemble the kings of earth, why plot together the rulers, 
Against Jehovah and his anointed one ? 

Saying, " Let us break their bands asunder, 
Let us cast then* cords away from us." 

2. He that sitteth hi the heavens shall laugh, 
Jehovah shall mock at them. 

Then he shall say unto them hi his wrath, 
(And vex them in his sore displeasure), 
" Behold ! I have set up my king, 
On Zion, my hill of holiness," 

3. I 1 will rehearse the decree which Jehovah has uttered to me : 
Jehovah hath said unto me : " Thou art my Son ; 

This day have I begotten thee, 

Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thy inheritance, 

The uttermost parts of earth for thy possession. 

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron ; 

Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potsherd." 

4. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings ; 
Be instructed, ye judges of earth. 
Serve Jehovah with fear j 

1 1, Solomon. 


Rejoice with trembling. 

Worship in purity \ lest he be angry, 

And ye perish straightway, should his wrath be a little kindled. 

5. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. 

Whatever disturbances were threatened among Philistines, 
Moabites or Damascenes, were presently quelled with no se- 
rious effort by the unimpaired vigour of David's armies; and 
as far as can be ascertained, no farther attempt was made to 
shake off the yoke until the later days of Solomon. The 
young prince was therefore fully at leisure to devote himself 
to his internal affairs, and first of all to that first object of in- 
terest, the secure establishment of his own title to the crown 
against all competitors. 

Four great political offenders had been ostensibly, but not 
sincerely pardoned : Adonijah brother of Solomon, Joab the 
king's first cousin, Abiathar the priest, and Shimei the kins- 
man of Saul who cursed David. The ruin of all four was 
resolved upon, and Solomon was only waiting for a specious 
pretence. Nor was one long wanting. David in extreme old 
age had received into his harem, by the superfluous zeal of 
his courtiers, a young damsel of remarkable beauty, Abishag 
the Shunamite. If it be true that they sought far and wide, 
and picked her out of all Israel, it cannot be wonderful that 
her brilliancy attracted the love of Adonijah; who engaged 
the interest of Bathsheba, mother of Solomon, to make his 
suit to the king for the hand of Abishag. But no sooner had 
the unsuspicious Bathsheba preferred her request, than the 
king felt or affected great rage, alleging that this was a plot 
for dethroning him; and forthwith sent Benaiah with his 
myrmidons, who murdered the king's brother on the spot 
where they found him. 

So flagrant an act of despotism had not been seen in Israel 
since Doeg the Edomite massacred the priests at Saul's com- 
mand. It was at least politic of Solomon to follow up the 
deed by commanding the death of Joab, as a partner in the 
imagined new conspiracy. Joab fled to " the tabernacle of 
Jehovah," (which here perhaps means the tent in Jerusalem, 

1 This word in good Hebrew cannot mean a Son. The LXX. renders the 
clause Apa|o(r0e TrotSetos, " lay hold of instruction." We have nearly followed 


in which the ark was kept,) and caught hold of the horns of 
the altar. When he would not come forth, Benaiah hesitated 
to attack him in the holy place, until he had been re- assured 
by Solomon, who reminded him of the double assassination 
which Joab had perpetrated. Then at last Benaiah broke 
through all scruples, and with his own hand laid the hoary 
criminal dead at the foot of the altar. 

Neither was the old Abiathar altogether to escape, although 
his life was spared, in remembrance of his long sufferings as 
David's early comrade. He was ordered to confine himself 
to his own private estate at Anathoth, and was deposed from 
all his dignities and emoluments as priest to Jehovah. This 
was clearly done by the simple will of the king. A later 
generation softened to its own feelings the harshness of an 
act so unconstitutional, by the belief that this ejection of 
Abiathar and his descendants from the priestly office was a 
fulfilment of the denunciation of Jehovah, uttered against the 
house of Eli by the mouth of the boy Samuel. Be this as 
it may, -such was the political coincidence which deprived 
Israel of one of its two great priestly families, and left Zadok 
and his posterity as the most distinguished representatives of 
the house of Aaron. 

As Zadok was promoted to the place of Abiathar, so was 
Benaiah to the captaincy of the host, vacated by Joab. But 
more work of the same odious kind still remained for Benaiah. 
Shimei had given no excuse for pretending that he was an ac- 
complice of the three great victims ; and an arbitrary device 
was needed for entangling him. The king ordered him to 
build a house at Jerusalem, and not to set foot out of the city 
on pain of death. Three years later, two of Shimei' s servants 
ran away from him into Gath ; upon which Shimei pursued, 
overtook them, and brought them back. On his return, 
Solomon upbraided him with his disobedience ; and having 
bitterly reminded him of his curses on David, commanded 
Benaiah to hew him down. The order was obeyed, in the 
style of military despots, who disdain the sanctities, the de- 
cencies, or the hypocrisy of a civil tribunal. So at length, 
it may seem, king Solomon was able to breathe freely, and to 
forget all domestic jealousies. 

From the reign of David onward, historical documents 
were carefully kept and select accounts compiled by contem- 
poraries. Nathan the prophet and Gad the seer were the 


chief authorities known to a later age concerning the life of 
David himself : for the Acts of Solomon, reference is made 
to the same Nathan, to Ahijah the Shilonite, and in part also 
to Iddo the seer 1 . Nevertheless it must be confessed that 
we know very indistinctly the chronology of Solomon's life ; 
and we are driven to write concerning it rather as in a book 
of antiquities, than in the consecutive manner of a history. 
There are few marked events to break up this reign into por- 
tions. It glides by like a dream of prosperity, so dazzling 
the mind that we take no note of time, until the calm breaks 
up with a storm, and the unhealthiness of the brilliant pa- 
geantry manifests itself. 

Young Solomon ascended to his enviable position with the 
usual aspirations of young princes, and something more. 
Undoubtedly he desired to reign in glory and magnificence ; 
but he also wished his magnificence to be displayed signally 
in the honour of his father's God ; and he had already a clear 
conception that though arms might win empire, policy and 
wisdom must preserve it. As a basis for all his other great- 
ness, he endeavoured to order his finances well, and to open 
to himself by commerce various new sources of gain. We 
shall therefore first give such account as we are able of his 
traffic and his wealth. 

I. The delusiveness of the numbers transmitted to us has 
often been remarked upon, and it is utterly vain to endeavour 
to found upon them any estimate of the wealth of Solomon. 
It is enough that we know the land of Israel itself to have 
been highly productive in wheat, barley, honey, oil and wine, 
in wool, hides, and certain kinds of timber ; for all of which 
the Phoenicians afforded markets close at hand, arid gladly 
repaid the Israelites in every sort of manufactured and or- 
namental work, or, in part, by the precious and the usefu] 
metals. In hewing timber for elegant uses, the Israelites were 
indeed unskilled, and want of roads was an impediment, except 
where the choiceness of the wood permitted its carriage by 
human strength. In such cases the Tyrians themselves aided 
in the hewing. But Solomon had two other projects, neither 

1 1 Chron. xxix. 29; 2 Chron. ix. 29 ; 1 Kings, xi. 41. As the Phoenicians 
possessed an alphabet and spoke a Hebrew dialect, while the Egyptians afforded 
papyrus, the seers and prophets of Solomon's day were at no loss for the 
means of writing. Yet prose composition was quite in its infancy ; and the 
Chronicles of the Kings are likely to have been concise and dry facts, like those 
of the Middle Age chroniclers. 


of which he could execute without Tyrian aid, maritime 
traffic by the way of the Red Sea, and land traffic across the 
Syrian desart to Babylon and Media, of which the latter was 
not carried out till the middle of his reign. The ports of Edom 
on the Hed Sea had long been barren possessions in his 
father's hand. To build in them a fleet of ships suited for 
the navigation of that difficult coast was certainly an arduous 
and spirited enterprize; which indeed, if we were to judge 
solely by the accounts of modern travellers, might seem 
simply impossible. Nevertheless, by his excellent understand- 
ing with Hiram, king of Tyre, the fleet 1 was not only built, 
but duly manned with a mixed crew of Hebrews and Tyrians. 
On the details of its voyages whole treatises have been written. 
That it sailed to Sheba, the southernmost angle of Arabia, 
no one can doubt. The celebrated Ophir, the most distant 
point of the course, was possibly in the province of Oman in 
Arabia, where Seetzen has pointed out the name as still exist- 
ing. Although it was outside of the straits of Bab Elmandeb, 
the three years allowed for the voyage was long enough to 
enable the navigators to wait quietly for the month in which 
they could safely commit their frail vessels to the Indian 
Ocean. The return-merchandize which the Hebrews regarded 
as characteristic of Ophir, gold and silver, ivory, monkeys 
and peacocks, do not all agree equally well with Arabia ; and 
were not Ophir generally named by the Hebrews in connexion 
with places in that great peninsula, this might make us incline 
to the opinion that it was on the east coast of Africa. But 
we have no proof that the ivory was produced round Ophir : 
it may have come thither from India. The chief wealth how- 
ever which this traffic conferred depended on a power of sell- 
ing again, such as the Phoenicians possessed. Spices in 
great abundance, whether from India, Arabia or Africa, were 
to be had in the marts of Sheba ; and in the whole basin of 
the Mediterranean the consumption of incense for religious 

1 It is called a fleet of Tarshish, but there is no doubt that this means a 
fleet of ships similar to those in which the Tyrians sailed to Tarshish, or Tartessus, 
in Spain. This has been often illustrated by supposing an Englishman to say, 
that "a fleet of Indiamen was built to sail to the coast of New York." The 
words in 1 Kings, x. 22, " a navy of Tarshish ivitJi the navy of Hiram," are ob- 
scure, and 2 Chron. viii. 18, makes the matter worse, " Hiram sent ships by 
the hand of his servants, and they went with the servants of Solomon to 
Ophir." But the chronicler is in hopeless confusion about Tarshish, Ophir and 
the Eed Sea, 2 Chron. xx. 36. 


worship was enormous. To the carriers of this commodity 
a good profit always accrued ; and although the Egyptians 1 
perhaps made their full share of it, as certainly did the land 
caravans of Syria, Solomon and Hiram also found their ac- 
count in the trade. Ivory, almug 2 and other scented woods, 
precious stones, besides gold, in which Sheba was very 
abundant in those times, received a new value by being 
transported into the Grecian seas. 

We have less distinct information as to the results of 
the trade across the Syrian desart. One thing is not to be 
omitted, that it could not be established without fresh con- 
quests, which are so named in our later record, as to imply 
that they were made in the middle of Solomon' s reign, after 
he had finished the temple and his own palace. He then 
marched, perhaps in person, and conquered the district called 
Hamath-Zobah, a name not found elsewhere, but which we 
may gather to be the outlying country to the north-east, 
bounded by the Euphrates, for which the kings of Hamath 
and Zobah contended. It would appear 3 that Solomon now 
possessed himself of the city of Tiphsah (or Thapsacus) on the 
Euphrates, and fortified Tadmor (or Palmyra) in the desart. 
We also hear of store-cities which he built in Hamath, un- 
doubtedly to hold his north-eastern merchandize, which must 
have been carried upon the backs of camels. As the heavy 
produce of Palestine cannot have been sent out by such a 
conveyance, we are left to conjecture that Solomon' s caravans 
carried those Phoenician or Egyptian light and elegant ma- 
nufactures, which were unrivalled by the home-productions of 
the countries visited. To direct such operations, the know- 
ledge and experience of the Tyrians was essential ; and as we 
hear little further of it, we cannot be sure that they here 
zealously assisted, or whether the results were alike satisfac- 
tory to Solomon's revenue as to his pride. It may even have 
been a losing trade, and have contributed to his later hu- 

In estimating its returns, it must be remembered that 

1 We do not know how far the Egyptian prejudice against sea- voyages 
have crippled them. 

2 The almug wood came from Ophir ; 1 Kings, x. 11. The Chroi 
speaks of algwm trees in Lebanon, 2 Chron. ii. 8 : but this is probably 
error. The wood intended is supposed to be the red sandal- wood. 

3 1 Kings, iv. 24, is. 18, 19 j 2 Chron. viii. 1-6. 


vast expense of garrisoning and provisioning these distant 
cities in the midst of hostile nations ought all to be deducted 
from the profits. Besides Thapsacus and Palmyra, Baalbek 
(or Heliopolis) was very probably among the cities which he 
held, and may be included among the " store-cities of Ha- 
math 1 ," even if it be not denoted by the name Baalatti?, about 
which there is controversy. 

The late date which the Chronicler appears to assign to 
Solomon's conquest of Hamath-Zobah, and consequent esta- 
blishment of the north-eastern trade, decidedly favours the 
suspicion that in this whole scheme his ambition overreached 
his judgment. For it is clear in the history, that in his later 
years this king oppressed his subjects grievously by taxation ; 
which strongly implies that his mercantile profits were no 
longer what they had been. 

A matter of no small importance is stated to us very drily 
the dissatisfaction of Hiram king of Tyre with the recompense 
which Solomon made to him after receiving twenty-four years' 
aid. The recompense consisted of twenty towns in the land 
of Galilee ; which so little pleased Hiram, that he named the 
district Cabul (or disgust] , and refused to occupy it. We 
may conjecture that the towns were too far inland, and with 
too insecure a frontier, for him to protect and hold. Strange 
to add, Solomon re-occupies and fortifies them 3 , and is so far 
from giving any compensation to Hiram, that he receives from 
him 120 talents of gold. There is evidently something sup- 
pressed here. It is difficult to avoid suspecting that a breach 
took place between the two powers at this time, and that 
Hiram prudently yielded, though with much disgust, to So- 
lomon's superior might by land; and that when the Hebrew 
king proceeded to conquer Hamath-Zobah, and endeavoured 
to monopolize the north-eastern trade, he had no aid from 
Tyre, and in the result met with damaging losses. But all 
such topics are glibly passed over in the narrative, although 
the hiatus cannot be concealed. 

With Egypt also the king opened a commerce previously 
unknown. Particular mention is made of the linen yarn 
thence imported (perhaps chiefly for re-exportation), and of 
the horses and chariots. In passing, we learn an interesting 
fact, that princes of the Hittites still existed in social inde- 

1 2 Chron. viii. 4. 2 1 Kings, ix. 18. 

3 1 Kings, ix. 10-14 ; 2 Chron. viii. 2. 



pendence in the midst of the Israelites, who bought the Egyp- 
tian horses and chariots, as also did many of the princes of 
Syria. The Egyptian breed, it may even be judged by paint- 
ings, was particularly fine, being, in appearance, only a more 
powerful Arab. Africa however was probably the native land 
of this horse. The same paintings show us the compact, 
light, yet solid fabric of the Egyptian chariot ; the building of 
which, when springs were not yet thought of, was a pecu- 
liarly difficult art. Solomon had the means of paying for his 
Egyptian merchandize by the native wine and oil of Palestine. 
The old Greeks in general believed that the Egyptians had 
none but 0rZq/-wine, and toddy made from the palm-tree. He- 
rodotus positively says that they had no vines in their country: 
and this may have been true of Lower Egypt. The error is 
accounted for by the very active importations of Greek and 
Phoenician wine into that country, which proves that the na- 
tive Egyptian wine was either very inferior or very deficient 
in quantity : probably both. The hills of Palestine are suited 
to rear vines of a superior quality, though little wine is now 
made of them, in deference to the scruples of the Turks. As 
for oil, a later prophet 1 alludes to the carriage of it into Egypt. 
The olive to this day grows and flourishes almost without 
care in any corner of rock 2 round Jerusalem, where it might 
seem to have no soil ; and yields oil abundantly. Considering 
the enormous use of it under an African sun for the purposes 
of soap, butter and tallow, the olive-grounds of Judah, with 
Egypt for the market, must have been a more valuable pos- 
session than the mines of Peru. Honey was probably another 
article of export of first importance, since sugar was unknown ; 
but corn was not wanted in Egypt. 

On the whole, it must be remembered that the foreign trade 
of Solomon was carried on by himself as an individual mer- 
chant, in fact, as the only merchant of the community. 
Private Hebrews could not build themselves ships at Elath or 
Eziongeber; and probably they either were not allowed to 
send their own camels and goods with the king's caravans, 
or had to purchase the permission by a heavy payment. The 
celebrated commerce of Ophir is likely to have been far less 

1 Hosea, xii. 1. 

2 The beautiful poetry of Deut. xxxii. 13 is at the same time sober prose : 
" Jehovah has made Jacob to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the hard 



profitable than that with the nearest countries of Egypt and 
Tyre ; but the distant traffic struck men's imaginations more. 
The royal demesnes in Israel possessed by David were con- 
siderable, and the accumulated treasure bequeathed by him 
very large ; and since foreign tribute, paid in kind, added to 
the ordinary tribute of Israel, was probably enough to defray 
the general expenses of government, the king found a large 
balance in his own hands which he could apply as mercantile 
capital. Indeed, the nature of the result shows that this was 
certainly the case. By the potent aid of monopoly he became, 
at least in the first half of his reign, a most successful mer- 
chant, and soon attracted the wonder and envy of foreigners. 
The most renowned stranger who visited the court of Solo- 
mon was the queen of Sheba. Her proper territory was in 
the extreme south of Arabia, having a coast on the Indian 
Ocean as well as on the Red Sea ; yet in the time of Strabo, 
this government or people was regarded as reaching along 
nearly the whole Arabian coast of the Red Sea, till it met the 
Nabathseans. It is evident that the people of Sheba inherited 
a very ancient civilization, with many advantages and some 
peculiar enormities. Among the last must be reckoned the 
revolting institution of polyandry 1 , or (in practice) the mar- 
riage of several brothers at once to a single wife, which is 
known still to prevail in certain districts of India and Thibet. 
This may seem to ally the people of Sheba to an Indian stock. 
Their language however, though widely different from the 
Arabic of literature, is supposed to class them with Arabs and 
Hebrews. Since at a later period the Jewish faith became 
very powerful in Sheba, insomuch that some of its kings are 
called Jewish, it is interesting to find at this early date the 
impression made by Solomon and his monotheistic religion 
on his royal visitant. Her valuable presents show the close 
intimacy which was arising between the two states by reason 
of the commerce; and had it been continued, it may seem 
possible that a greater extension of the Jewish faith would 
have taken place than was ever afterwards possible. For as 
yet, only the pure doctrine of Jehovah was declared; narrow 
Levitism had not grown into a dominant power; vexatious 
ceremonies had no prominence ; there was no repugnance felt 
towards foreigners ; intermarriage with them was easy. Cir- 

1 Strabo, xvi. cli. 4. He imputes the practice, apparently, to the Naba- 
thffians also. 


cumcision indeed was insisted on ; but this, however offensive 
to Europe, was a natural and comely practice in the judgment 
of Egypt, Arabia, Africa, and perhaps of the distant Indian 
islands. The simple-minded queen found nothing in Solo- 
mon's court to repel or annoy her, and she returned (as at 
least our annalist believed) blessing Jehovah on Solomon's ac- 
count, and congratulating the people who had such a king. 

In consequence of his traffic with Egypt, Solomon was na- 
turally induced, partly for pomp, partly for service, to set 
up a new species of military force, that of horses and chariots. 
He is stated to have had 1400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen. 
But this gave decided offence to the more religious portion of 
his people. It was remembered how gloriously his father, 
without horses, had vanquished the pride of Hadadezer's chi- 
valry ; and how all the honour had been ascribed to Jehovah, 
with whom a horse is but a vain thing, and who loves by weak 
instruments to confound the mighty. The feelings of the pious 
boded no good to Israel from the innovation ; and when, in 
the next reign, Egypt proved a victorious enemy and the 
cavalry a useless arm of defence, it probably became a fixed 
traditional principle with the prophetical body, that this proud 
force was outlandish, heathenish and unbelieving. 

II. From the sources of Solomon's wealth we proceed to his 
principal use of wealth, in building. The edifices which de- 
serve to be here noticed are the following : the Temple, his 
own Palace, his Queen's Palace, his Piazza (for walking and 
recreation?), his Porch of Judgment, or law-court, and his 
house of the forest of Lebanon 1 . The last, it has been con- 
jectured, was so called from the great quantity of cedar used 
in its construction. Besides these peaceful buildings, Solo- 
mon fortified the Millo, or citadel of Jerusalem, and added 
largely to the walls. Various other towns 3 are likewise named, 
which he had occasion to fortify. 

With regard to the splendour of the Temple, a certain mo- 
derate caution of belief, not to say scepticism, appears to 
be called for by the circumstances of its history. In the very 
next reign it was despoiled of all the wealth which could be 
carried away, by its Egyptian conqueror : this opened to the 

1 In Isaiah (xxii. 8) we find "the house of the forest" alluded to, as an ar- 
senal for arms within the city of David. 

2 Hazor, Megiddo, Oezer of the Philistines, one or both Beth-horons, Baa- 
lath, and Tadmor in the wilderness. 


national regret a wide door for supposing that still more had 
heen lost than really was. That much credulity was here at 
work appears from collateral facts. The temple was stripped 
of its principal treasures six times over, by Shishak king of 
Egypt, by king Asa, by Jehoash king of Judah, by another 
Jehoash of Israel, by Ahaz, and by Hezekiah. After the death 
of Josiah, the king of Egypt could only get one talent of gold 
out of all Judah. Yet when Nebuchadnezzar soon after cap- 
tures Jerusalem, it is imagined that he carried off " all the 
vessels of gold which Solomon had made in the temple of Je- 
hova'h 1 ; and although it is added that Nebuchadnezzar " cut 
them all in pieces," Ezra believed that Cyrus restored these 
identical articles, 5400 in number 2 . Since, at the later period, 
the golden vessels of Solomon certainly existed only in the 
imagination of the narrator, we cannot feel any great confi- 
dence as to the details asserted concerning such points of mag- 
nificence 400 years earlier. 

We have seen that David, after his first war with Hadad- 
ezer, dedicated gold and silver vessels and large quantities of 
brass to the service of Jehovah, all of which were undoubtedly 
used for the temple of Solomon. Out of this fact has arisen 
a long account in detail, how David left to Solomon a pattern 
of every part of the house, and an account by weight of every 
vessel that was to be made, with a splendid estimate of the 
total weight of metal (which however is not consistent with 
itself 3 ), and of the additional contributions made by the princes 
of Israel. David is even alleged in one fragmentary passage to 
have prepared the hewn stones, the cedar wood, and other mat- 
ters, by help of the Tyrians and other foreign artificers ; but 
this is clearly an anticipation of the proceedings of Solomon 4 . 

It will be remembered that by the displacement of Abiathar, 
Zadok his successor naturally gave up all connexion with the 
tabernacle and high altar at Gibeon; and it now became a 
question, whether to retain the separate establishment at Gi- 

1 2 Kings, xxiv. 13 : contrast 1 Kings, xiv. 26. 2 Ezra, i. 11. 

3 All this is from the Chronicler, not from the book of Kings. In 1 Chron. 
xxii. 14, David bequeaths to Solomon for the temple 100,000 talents of gold, 
and 1,000,000 talents of silver. In ch. xxix. 4, it is only 3000 talents of gold 
and 7000 of silver, to which the princes add 5000 talents and 10,000 darics of 
gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 of brass, and 100,000 of iron. Darics 
were a Persian, and quite a later coin. Even the 8000 talents of gold is an in- 
credibly large sum. 

4 2 Chron. ii. 3 makes Hiram to have built a cedar-palace for David also. 


beon or not. And this was easily decided. It was impolitic 
and a needless expense (unless two rival priests were to be 
purposely upheld) at so short a distance to maintain a second 
altar. The analogy of monarchy dictated centralization, and 
it was determined to remove the old tabernacle and the sacred 
Gibeonites 1 with it. An honourable pretext for this was found 
in the erection of a temple at Jerusalem, which was to super- 
sede both tabernacles ; and thus was laid the foundation of a 
more vigorous sacerdotal order, which should in time become 
independent of the now dominating imperial power. 

For constructing this sacred edifice, Solomon still needed 
the help of the Tyrians, both to hew timber from Lebanon, 
to square the blocks of stone, and (what was still more essen- 
tial) for all the curious works in brass. The work was begun 
early in Solomon's fourth year, and took seven years to com- 
plete. That no very satisfactory description of the building, 
as a whole, can be attained, may perhaps be inferred from the 
great discordances between learned commentators. Never- 
theless, a part of their diversities is ascribable to the undue 
weight which some have given to the arbitrary assertions of 
the Jewish historian Josephus ; and another part, to the en- 
deavour to harmonize the fictitious additions of the " Chro- 
nicler" with the simpler account given in the book of ' { Kings." 
It is perhaps impossible to attain any more exact ideas than 
the following outline will give. The general ground plan of 
the three principal compartments was oblong, and ran 70 
cubits in the clear from east to west, but only 20 cubits in 
breadth, from north to south. From the eastern end was 
cut off a porch, or ante-chapel, which occupied only 10 cubits 
of the entire length. Of the rest, the first 40 cubits made 
the principal sanctuary, and the remaining 20 was the secret 
" oracle" or most holy place ; which was thus an apartment 20 
cubits square. The height of the whole is called 30 cubits ; 
yet the oracle is elsewhere distinctly said to be but 20 cubits 
high 2 ; so that it appears to have been lower than the central 
hall. Many of the pillars were made of the precious almug 
wood. Within the ante-chapel also stood two highly orna- 
mented pillars of brass, called Jachin and Boaz, the work of 
a man of Naphthali, whose father was a Tyrian. This clever 

1 The word Gibeonites at length gave place to that of Nethinim, which is in 
terpreted iep65ov\oi, sacred slaves. 

2 Kings, vi. 2, 20. 


artificer bore the same name as the king of Tyre, Hiram, 
who sent him to the service of Solomon. He wrought like- 
wise a large tank of brass, ten cubits in diameter, supported 
by twelve oxen; and ten large baths of brass richly orna- 
mented, and very many other curious works. Among the or- 
naments are specified lions, oxen and cherubim. What the 
last were is now pretty well ascertained, by comparing the de- 
scriptions in Ezekiel with Persian or Assyrian sculptures and 
Egyptian paintings, where we find figures which may be de- 
noted as winged oxen with human faces, and as angels with 
eagles' heads. Within the "oracle" or crypt were also two che- 
rubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high, and having ten 
cubits for the span of the wings ; and the walls and doors of 
the house were carved everywhere with cherubim, palm-trees 
and open flowers. It is incredible that when such animals 
and such symbols were freely made in brass, as suitable deco- 
rations to the interior of the temple, there can have been any 
such aversion to images of hewn stone and sculptured or- 
naments of the altar, as the modern Pentateuch inculcates. 
Against each side of the house there rested a lower structure, 
affording chambers for the priests. The windows also were 
lofty and narrow ; and if Josephus had any valid tradition for 
his belief of the very disproportionate height of the porch, the 
whole building had a strong general resemblance in form to 
a very small European cathedral, having a lofty tower at its 
east end, and a chancel, lower than the central building, -at 
the west. Moreover, the preparation of the foundation of the 
temple on the top of Mount Moriah, on the threshing-floor of 
Araunah the Jebusite, was in itself an elaborate work, as the 
substructions of the Roman temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. 
But on this we have no details from our most trustworthy 

The size of the building thus described is extremely mode- 
rate, even if we assign to the cubit its greatest length, of one 
foot, nine inches, English. But when we are told that the 
wonder of the building consisted in the prodigious quantity of 
gold which was lavished on it ; that it was an edifice such as a 
traveller might expect in El Dorado ; that the whole house, in 
short, was overlaid with gold ; we may believe the last asser- 
tion in the letter, but must deny it in the spirit. Such is the 
ductility of gold, that even in the earliest developments of art, 
gilding was a comparatively unexpensive process ; nor is there 


any reason to question, that not only the olive-wood cheru- 
bim, but the general carved work within the temple was su- 
perbly gilt. This is quite in the spirit of antiquity 1 , and did 
not exceed the means of a wealthy, though third-rate, power. 
But if the gold on the wood- work had been thick enough to 
yield anything worth carrying off by cutting or scraping, we 
can scarcely think that even king Shishak in the next reign 
would have left any of it standing ; or at least when later plun- 
derers broke in, much would be heard of the valuable gold 
wainscoting and tables which they carried off. In short, the 
real magnificence of the Temple consisted in its hewn stones, 
its noble cedar-beams, its curious carvings and its skilful works 
in brass ; not in the profusion of gold and silver, however spe- 
ciously it may have been gilt : and even so, considering its 
very small dimensions, its grandeur must be understood by 
comparison with all that had preceded it. Side by side with 
an Egyptian temple, or even with the cathedrals of Christen- 
dom and mosques of Islam, it shrinks into insignificance. In 
every way there was much room left for improvement by his 
successors. Hezekiah, for instance, overlaid the doors and 
pillars with gold; a fact which we should not have learned, 
had he not accidentally been forced to cut it off again, as a 
propitiation to the king of Assyria. 

The hewing of the cedar from Mount Lebanon discloses to 
us an important fact, that in the heart of Israel there existed 
a nation of bondsmen or vassals, liable to perform public works 
for king Solomon, just as of old the Israelites for Pharaoh. 
The words of the older compiler are extremely distinct. " All 
the people which were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Periz- 
zites, Hivites and Jebusites ; which were not of the children of 
Israel ; their children that were left after them in the land ; 
upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this 
day. But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no 
bondmen ; but they were men of war, and his servants, and 
his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots and his. 
horsemen." The number of these strangers liable to bond- 
service is estimated at 153,600, (in a book 2 indeed prone to 
exaggeration,) and 30,000 is given as the number actually 

1 The learned reader may be reminded of the palace of De'ioces in Ecbatana, 
which had seven circular walls of different colours, the two innermost having 
their battlements covered respectively with silvering and with gilding. 

1 2 Chron. ii. 17. 


kept at work at once. Our earlier and better authority 1 may 
seem on the whole to confirm this, in reckoning the Hebrew 
overseers of the labourers as 550. While the same word is 
used concerning the taskwork of these slaves as concerning 
the Israelitish service in Egypt 2 , and they were manifestly at 
the mercy of their conquerors, it is still uncertain what was 
the actual pressure of suffering upon them. But unless we 
could imagine Jewish rule to be far milder than that of Chris- 
tendom, a conquered class, strange in religion, subjected to 
public taskwork, without political rights, below the sympa- 
thies of the dominant race, without moral relations to defi- 
nite families and patrons, forced to work under public over- 
seers, who must of necessity have been armed with the whip, 
such a class can have had little in their lot to prefer to the ex- 
ceeding bitter bondage of Israel in Egypt. As we read of cer- 
tain Hittite princes, (apparently in Israel,) it is possible that 
some chieftains of these races made favourable terms with 
David and Solomon, and retained their domains and rank. 
The conquest and subjugation of the rest seems to account for 
the ample territorial domains of David and his son ; for the 
land of the conquered was doubtless confiscated to the crown. 
No Moses arose to rescue them; and no modern writer can 
express sympathy for them 3 without exciting indignation. So 
capricious and sectarian are religious partialities ; so slow are 
Christians to enlarge their hearts in pity to Pagans, or deplore 
the permanent degradation of a whole caste of men. Yet the 
well known phrase " unto this day" indicates that the bondage 
(under whatever modifications) lasted down to the time when 
the book of Kings was compiled. 

It would be needless to employ moral criticism on Solomon's 
much-celebrated undertaking, were not the whole affair habi- 
tually represented in a false light. The kings of Egypt and 

1 1 Kings, ix. 23. 

2 The word is Mas; 1 Kings, ix. 21, and Exod. i. 11. It is explained in Wi- 
ner's Simonis, " tribute paid by the body, that is, servitude, Frohndienst ;" or 
soccage paid by a serf to his landlord. It occurs also in 2 Sam. xx. 24, in enu- 
merating David's revenues and administration. 

8 In my first edition I gave great offence by the following words : "Their 
persons, being reduced to slavery, formed the hapless multitude, whose unno- 
ticed groans supplied the raw material of Solomon's glory." Perhaps I should 
have said serfdom, riot slavery. I now withdraw the words from the text, 
chiefly because I find I am supposed to intend a personal and peculiar blame 
against Solomon more than other ancient kings. My ' North British' critic 
(No. 31) with his usual audacity, treats me as absurd for regarding them as 
strangers at all, and says they were free Hebrews, who worked in their turn! 


the republics of Greece, equally with the great sovereigns* ba- 
rons, or archbishops of Europe, were urged by a comfortable 
combination of pride, piety and architectural taste, to erect 
magnificent sacred edifices. Where so many motives conspire, 
it is absurd to dwell on the religious zeal of the projectors : 
the temples indeed of Selinus or Ephesus would probably have 
eclipsed that of Jerusalem. Instinct generally guides the 
founders to a work, the end of which they most imperfectly 
know ; and so, we believe, it was with this of Solomon. 

His father David had bequeathed to him a great institution, 
of signal value, in the singers and musicians annexed to the 
worship of the tabernacle. In rank and in remuneration in- 
ferior to the priests, in spiritual position they were as much 
higher as the preaching curate than the ordaining bishop. No 
preaching indeed or teaching or reading of the Law existed as 
yet ; but the very fact made the singing of psalms and hymns 
so much the more important. They were the only spiritual, 
intellectual and elevating part of the service. To the priest, 
on the contrary, belonged mere punctilious ceremony and gor- 
geous parade, defining and atoning-for external pollutions, con- 
sulting of Jehovah by Urim, burning of incense, and vain 
slaughter of beasts, alike foreign to the genius of the prophets, 
as to the real demands of the only true God. The first com- 
posers of hymns were undoubtedly regarded as prophets; 
and when it became the duty of a particular corporation or 
hereditary class to collect, keep and sing them, a traditionary 
taste was cultivated ; commoner productions dropped into neg- 
lect, and the most purifying or elevating odes claimed their 
rightful superiority. Hence, the attendance at divine service 
in Jerusalem, which, from David's day onward, beyond a doubt 
was celebrated at least every Sabbath, became a spiritual ser- 
vice, dear to the heart of every true worshipper of Jehovah. 
With this, the priest himself was imbued, and his dreariest 
routine gained some relief by an allegorical spiritualism in- 
fused into it. With the progress of time, none are so likely 
to have become composers of new hymns as the Levites, whose 
chief business was in singing and keeping copies of them. At 
last the principal literary culture lay with them, and they 
were prepared to become religious instructors of the nation. 
By their care the Proverbs written by Solomon were also 
likely to be preserved and copied, and the archives of the 
temple to be kept. 

But Solomon's splendour brought in, over and above, a ma- 


terial attraction to those who had no affinity for things spiri- 
tual. Every Hebrew desired at some time in his life to go up 
to the famous temple, if only for mere curiosity; and the same 
principle which in modern days has enforced pilgrimages to 
Jerusalem and Mecca,, must have begun to work on Israel 
very early. The shortness of the distance made many visits 
in one life an easy undertaking ; and there were Three great 
Feasts from this time celebrated with peculiar solemnity 1 , 
when king Solomon officiated in person at the high altar, by 
burning incense, and offering victims to Jehovah. These feasts 
are nearly identical with those celebrated among all ancient 
nations, at the First Fruits, after the general Harvest, and 
after the Vintage or Ingathering ; but, at least in course of 
time, they were blended with associations drawn from the 
early history of the Hebrew race. At such celebrations in 
particular it was natural for crowds of country people to flock 
into Jerusalem; and, certainly at a later period, the priests 
diligently inculcated the duty of this, in order to bring the 
whole land within the influence of the central sanctuary. 
There is no question that the magnificence of the temple and 
the institutions connected with it, imparted to the priesthood 
an ever-growing authority, the deeper because it was unseen 
and gradual in its encroachments. Little by little it worked 
itself into the political constitution, and ultimately became a 
check upon the power of the king, whose authority indeed it 
outlasted by centuries. Without this, Judah would have been 
as Israel ; great prophets might have arisen, but their words 
would probably have perished with them ; or perhaps, if pre- 
served, would be judged by us the racy but harsh fruit of 
uneducated zeal, neither refined by traditionary culture nor 
sweetened by the influences of tranquil domestic life. In the 
sacerdotal and Levitical system of Jerusalem we see the nidus, 
in which the germs of prophetical genius were fostered, ex- 
panded and preserved : yet the time at last came when ce- 
remonialism froze into lifelessness, and presented that formal, 
narrow and repulsive front which we name Pharisaism. 

1 1 Kings, ix. 25. As the following kings disused the practice, it came at last 
to be looked upon as impious : hence the Chronicler's story against Uzziah. 
[All this remains as in my first edition, and it gave a handle to my first North 
British Reviewer, (No. 31,) for the following announcement. P. 128. "Mr. 
Newman objects to Solomon's offering sacrifice, as an innovation''' Let the 
reader turn back to what I say on the first quarrel of Saul and Samuel, p. 40, 
and he will see the double untruth of the reviewer.] 



Not that the idea was admitted either by the nation or by 
\J any king of Judah earlier than Hezekiah, that " in Jerusalem 
alone men ought to worship." The most pious kings,, be- 
fore Hezekiah, in common with the mass of Israel, continued 
to uphold the worship of Jehovah (but of Jehovah alone) on 
the High Places, without any suspicion that they could be 
offending ; nor did Jehoiada, the regent-priest, forbid it. In 
fact, it was no priest nor prophet, but Solomon himself, who 
consecrated the temple at Jerusalem, and removed the taber- 
nacle from Gibeon ; and although a new doctrine grew up in 
the sacerdotal circles, an Asa or a Jehoshaphat felt within 
himself full authority (had occasion required) to build and 
dedicate new temples in new places. The Ark itself was 
v opened, and in it was found neither the rod of Aaron which 
budded nor the golden pot of manna, but only two tables oi: 
stone. This we know on the authority indeed of a compiler 1 
who wrote four centuries later ; but as he had access to con- 
temporary documents, and can have had no bias in such a 
statement, there is no ground for doubting its truth. 

It is difficult to avoid speculating concerning the two tables 
of stone, whether they were ever turned, or meant to be 
turned, to practical use ; whether successive high-priests ever 
dared to examine them, and to compare the inscription with 
the professed copy in their books. In the absence of the 
tables, we are driven to the books alone, and there encounter 
two very different versions of the inscription. The Decalogue 
(as it is called), which is contained in the 20th chapter of 
Exodus, is too well known to cite ; and the copy of it in 
Deuteronomy deviates from it only in regard to the Fourth 
Commandment. But in the 34th chapter of Exodus a very 
remarkable diversity meets us, which is uniformly overlooked 
by divines. Moses had broken the first pair of tables in in- 
dignation at the idolatry of the people ; and ascends Mount 
Sinai a second time with a second pair of blank tables, on 
which Jehovah inscribes Ten 2 Commandments, nearly as fol- 
lows. (The first, third and sixth Commandments are here 

1 1 Kings, viii. 9. Contrast Heb. ix. 4, Num. xvii. 10, Exod. xvi. 34. 

2 Exod. xxxiv. 10 : " Behold I make a covenant ; 11. Observe what I com- 
mand thee ; " 27. Write thou these ivords, for after the tenor of these words 
have I made a covenant with thee and with Israel. 28. He wrote upon the 
tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. 


The Words of the Covenant the Ten Commandments. 


I. Thou shalt worship no other God than Jehovah ; for Jehovah whose 

name is Jealous, is a jealous God. 
II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. 

III. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep, and dedicate all firstlings 

unto me : but the first-born of thy sons thou shalt redeem. None 
shall appear before me empty. 

IV. Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest : in 

ploughing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. 

V. Thou shalt observe the feast of Weeks, the Firstfruits of Wheat -harvest, 

and the feast of Ingathering at the year's end. 
VI. Thrice in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord Jehovah, 

the God of Israel. 

VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven. 
VIII. The sacrifice of the feast of the Passover shall not be left to the morning. 
IX. The first of the firstfruits of the land shalt thou bring into the house of 

Jehovah thy God. 
X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. 

If we abide by our present book of Exodus, these are 
clearly the commandments which were written on the tables 
of stone ; for those which are found in the 20th chapter were 
spoken indeed by the voice of Jehovah, but are not said to 
have been written on the tables. It is only Deuteronomy 
which contradicts Exodus l , but Exodus is herein consistent 
with itself. This circumstance might lead some to imagine 
that we have here the genuine Mosaic decalogue, and that 
the other is a modernized improvement. While we regard 
this as a plausible opinion, nothing ought confidently to be 
held until the matter has been more fully discussed ; for a 
little consideration will suggest other possible theories, as 
well as objections to this view 2 . In fact there are so many 
other phenomena to be reviewed, that a summary conclusion 
is impossible. Of these one only can here be noticed, the 
apparent occurrence of a mutilated third copy of the Decalogue 
in Exod. xxiii. 10-19 ; where however it is not marked out 
as such, but concludes a small book of law. The Second 

1 Deut. v. 22, x. 4, sanctions the popular opinion, which is opposed to Exod. 

2 The absence of a precept of circumcision, in the midst of these ceremonial 
precepts, suggests that (as with the Arabs) this practice was originally only a 
national custom, common to them with the neighbouring nations, though it 
gradually became a precept of religion. 

G 2 


Table is there only verbally different from what has been 
already quoted ; but the First Table seems to have only three 
Commandments : 

I. Six years shalt thou sow thy land, and gather in the fruits thereof, but 

the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still. 
In like manner shalt thou deal with thy vineyard and thy olive-yard. 
II. Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest. 
III. To all things that I have said unto you be ye attentive, and make no men- 
tion of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy 

If this first table were perfect^ 1 , it might have a claim to 
still greater antiquity, on the ground of its being less spiritual 
than the other. Yet it is by no means always true that the 
earliest views are the least spiritual, or the latest the least 
ceremonial; and if we could ascertain ever so accurately 
which was the most primitive Decalogue, we might be no 
nearer to ascertaining which was inscribed on Solomon's tables. 

The Ark having been solemnly brought into the temple 
by the priests, Solomon made a public speech to the congre- 
gation and a very long prayer in front of the altar; after 
which he performed sacrifices 2 on the greatest scale of mag- 
nificence, and joined with all the people to dedicate the house 
of Jehovah. A great festival was held for a full fortnight, 
at which (as it is hyperbolically stated) all Israel, " from the 
defile of Hamath unto the brook of Egypt," were assembled. 
Nor is it likely that at any other time during the whole 
monarchy there was ever a greater concourse of visitors in 

1 The imperfection is caused by merging in one what are the 3rd and 6th of 
the other system. The 6th orders the observance of three feasts, and the 3rd 
gives special details concerning the first of the feasts, at which all firstlings of 
beasts are to be dedicated, and firstlings of men to be redeemed. This law of 
firstlings is omitted in the imperfect table. 

2 1 Kings, ix. 63 : it says, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. This was probably 
a theoretical estimate of what must have been eaten by all the assembled males 
of Israel, who, according to the legal presumption, were regarded by the author 
of this estimate as present. Even so, the number of cattle here given is extra- 
vagant, unless we suppose it to take in the fortnight's festivity. 

[On the above, the 'North British' (No.xxxi. p. 128) remarks : " 22,000 oxen 
and 120,000 sheep is the number of the victims which Mr. Newman supposes 
Solomon to have slain with Ms own hands /" Since the editor refused to inform 
his readers that this review misrepresented me, will he candidly tell the public 
whether this is Irish or Archiepiscopal logic?] 

The Chronicler says that they dispersed on the 23rd day of the seventh month. 
This is intended to identify it with the Feast of Tabernacles. 


His own palace and that of his queen, though less cele- 
brated than the temple, were more extensive structures, and 
occupied more years in finishing 1 . In fact, with the growth 
of his seraglio Solomon must have needed increased domestic 
accommodation, so that it was difficult to find an end of build- 
ing: thirteen years however is given as the estimate. The 
queen, for whom a peculiarly splendid abode was erected, was 
a daughter of the king of Egypt ; and with her Solomon re- 
ceived a very singular dowry. The Egyptians, we may infer 
from their paintings, from the earliest times had had great 
experience in sieges, in which it is certain that the Israelites 
were very unskilful, from the low state of the mechanical arts 
among them. Gezer, inhabited by Canaanites, had continued to 
defy the forces of David and Solomon ; but Pharaoh marched 
against it through the territory of his son-in-law, and having 
captured it, presented it to his daughter, Solomon's wife. 
This transaction strikingly indicates the good understanding 
which at that time subsisted between the two powers. 

III. We are now naturally led on to another phenomenon, 
which, from the magnitude of its scale and its peculiar re- 
sults, draws attention in this reign, the harem of the prince. 
It would be a matter of interest to learn in what order of 
time his numerous wives and concubines were taken. The 
remark that "when he was old his wives turned away his 
heart," might suggest that only in his later years, when he 
had exhausted the enjoyments of pomp and pride, voluptuous 
weakness stole over him. The seven hundred wives and three 
hundred concubines ascribed to him, amounting together to 
an exact thousand, indicate something unhistorical ; yet the 
cumbrousness of his matrimonial establishment remains un- 
questionable. One marriage-song survives to us, which, from 
its peculiar applicability to Solomon's nuptials with some emi- 
nent princess, we can better believe to have been written for 
him than for any other Hebrew monarch. It appears to have 
been sung during the marriage procession which conducted the 
royal pair to their palace. In one or two passages there is an 
abruptness, which either indicates corruption of the text, or 
savours of antique rudeness, which had not yet been rubbed off. 

1 It scarcely belongs to history to register the details of a king's luxury and 
pomp. His ivory throne, overlaid with gold, having six steps and fourteen lions 
upon it ; his 200 targets and 300 shields of beaten gold ; his harps and psalteries 
made of almug wood ; have been carefully recorded. 



1. My heart boils up with goodly matter. 

I ponder; and my verse concerns the King. 
Let my tongue be a ready writer's pen ! 

2. Fairer art thou than all the sons of men. 
Over thy lips delightsomeness is pour'd : 
Therefore hath God for ever blessed thee. 

3. Gird at thy hip thy hero-sword, 
Thy glory and thy majesty : 

And forth victorious ride majestic, 

For truth and meekness, righteously ; 

And let thy right hand teach thee wondrous deeds. 

Beneath thy feet the peoples fall ; 

For in the heart of the king's enemies 

Sharp are thy arrows. 

4. Thy throne divine ever and always stands : 
A righteous sceptre is thy royal sceptre. 
Thou lovest right and hatest evil ; 
Therefore hath God, thy God, anointed thee 
With oil of joy above thy fellow-kings. 
Myrrh, aloes, cassia, all thy raiment is. 
From ivory palaces the viols gladden thee. 
Kings' daughters count among thy favourites ; 
And at thy right hand stands the Queen 

In gold of Ophir. 

5. O daughter, hark ! behold ! and bend thy ear : 
Forget thy people and thy father's house. 
Win thou the King thy beauty to desire ; 

He is thy lord : do homage unto him. 
So Tyrus' daughter 1 and the sons of wealth 
With gifts shall court thee. 

6. Bight glorious is the royal damsel : 
Wrought of gold is her apparel. 

In broider'd tissues to the King she is led : 
Her maiden-friends, behind, are brought to thee. 
They come with joy and gladness, 
They enter the royal palace. 

1 In the Heb. idiom, Daughter of Tyre means only the Nation. In the pas- 
sage before us it appears to be a mere type of a wealthy people. 


7. Thy fathers by thy sons shall be replaced ; 
As princes o'er the land shalt thou exalt them. 
So will I publish to all times thy name ; 
So shall the nations praise thee, now and always l . 

It will be observed, that the practice of a favourite wife re- 
ceiving rich presents to engage her influence with the king, is 
here alluded to, without any disapproval, as a natural privi- 
lege of her station. Under despotism and polygamy it could 
not be otherwise ; and in spite of Solomon's wisdom and dili- 
gence in his porch of judgment, no small item of public dis- 
content is likely to have arisen from this cause. In regard 
to the number of his wives, our knowledge of the modern 2 court 
of Persia has furnished an ingenious suggestion, that Solomon 
took them as virtual hostages for the good behaviour of their 
fathers ; chieftains of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, 
Sidonians and Hittites. This idea is not entirely to be re- 
jected, as applicable to a fraction of the whole ; but it will not 
account for their great multitude, and much less for the con- 
cubines. * Two far more powerful passions must have been at 
work, an ever-increasing love of the pomp and pageantry 
which a royal wedding involved, and a depraved taste for per- 
petual novelty in the partners of his bed. Both of these are 
so degrading to the soul, that we cannot wonder to find Solo- 
mon's reign to become more inglorious, more pernicious, and 
more overclouded with danger, the longer he lived. 

IV. The particular manifestation of evil, which most struck 
the imagination and heart of the religious persons who re- 
corded his reign, was the public idolatry which he sanctioned 
and supported in his wives. Whatever may be urged on the 
side of mere toleration, this active patronage was both a grave 
and a gratuitous mischief. He had been under no necessity 
to multiply idolatrous wives, and therefore could not plead ne- 
cessity for introducing their superstitions. It must be re- 
membered also that these pagan religions were not a simple 
conviction cherished in the heart and conscience, which ought 
to be sacred, but were a public and obtrusive display of much 

1 There is a difficulty in supposing, as Ewald suggests, that the king here cele- 
brated was a successor of Jeroboam. None of them had a sufficient pretence of 
religion, to make it decorous for a Jehovistic prophet to write this ode : nor is it 
easy to think it could then have been incorporated with the sacred Psalms. 

2 Indeed Cambyses in Herodotus demands the daughter of the king of 
Egypt, nominally as a wife, and makes war when deceived. 


that was corrupting, even where they did not involve practices 
of cruelty. It was therefore no narrow bigotry or gloomy fa- 
naticism which filled the prophets and priests of Jehovah with 
dismay, when king Solomon built on a high hill before Jeru- 
salem altars, images, and the whole apparatus of heathen wor- 
ship for Cheinosh and Molech, the idol- divinities of Moab and 
of Ammon ; and celebrated the rites of the Sidonian goddess 
Astarte, and of the other gods of his wives. 

If a mere politic and worldly-minded despot chose to pa- 
tronize such paganism, no one would feel surprize. It is only 
when we contemplate Solomon as the author of the early por- 
tions of the book of Proverbs, that we are indignant at his 
maintaining these indefensible abominations. Of what avail 
was it that he warned young men against foreign harlotry, 
a vice which was stealing into Jerusalem with the influx of 
strangers and of luxury, when the royal preacher himself 
established the far more hateful and disgusting impurities con- 
nected with the rites of Astarte 1 ? Or of what avail that he 
enjoined precepts of parental and filial duty, when he encou- 
raged the bloody religion of Molech, in which children were 
immolated by their natural protectors ? We could almost dis- 
believe the plain statements of our historian, as mere pre- 
judice and mistake, did not Solomon's extravagant polygamy 
warn us that he had become a besotted voluptuary, in whose 
favour we must not do violence to the clear depositions of one 
who loves to extol him. 

V. The old prophet Nathan and Gad the seer must have 
died ere this. Whether any of their successors had the bold- 
ness to confront and oppose the king, or whether his selfwill 
and habitual despotism made them all shrink from it as from 
a hopeless enterprize, has not been recorded. But the horror 
and disgust of the prophetical body vented itself in another 
way, most pernicious in the result to the monotheistic cause 
which they were aiming to advance. One man alone inde 
was the agent or organ ; and as he undoubtedly believed him- 
self to be only the minister of the Most High Jehovah, il 
would be an error to suppose that there was any definite anc 
conscious conspiracy among the monotheists. It is rather 
be believed, that the sentiment which actuated them all burst 
out from the lips of one. All felt that the son of David 

1 1 Kings, xv. 12 ; 2 Kings, xxiii. 7 ; and elsewhere. 


following the downward path of Saul, and was no longer the 
king whom Jehovah could approve and love. It was high 
time therefore, that, as David superseded Saul, so for Solomon 
a worthier substitute should be found. 

At this period the prophet Ahijah, who was in some sense 
a successor of Nathan 1 , commanded great popular reverence. 
Burning with indignation against the king, he set his eyes on 
a young man named Jeroboam, who had, under Solomon, the 
important charge of the tribe of Ephraim 2 , and was eminent 
both for valour and for energy in the discharge of duty. In 
him perhaps Ahijah saw a second David. Having met him 
in a solitary place, he made an energetic address to him, the 
scope of which was to declare that God should rend away 
the kingdom from Solomon and give it to him; in token of 
which he tore off the garment from Jeroboam's back 3 . This 
deed became noised abroad, and soon brought forth bitter 
fruit. The jealousy of Solomon was too surely stirred up, 
and Jeroboam's life was no longer safe. On this he escaped 
into Egypt, having been gratuitously turned from a loyal and 
valuable subject into an outlaw, a rebel, and a dangerous foe. 
What change of policy, or even of dynasty, had come over 
the court of Egypt, we do not know ; but the new king, who 
is called Shishak in the Hebrew annals, was no longer Solo- 
mon's friend. He received Jeroboam with open arms, and 
probably gained from him much valuable nformation ; whe- 
ther this king was already planning the invasion of Judah, 
which he soon after executed, or whether it was wholly of 
Jeroboam's suggestion. 

At the same court in the former reign, there had been 
living another dangerous and inveterate enemy of the Hebrew 
monarch, by name Hadad, of the royal family of Edom. He 
was an infant at the time when Joab with his relentless bands 
had made promiscuous slaughter of all the males in Idu- 
nitea ; but having been saved into Midian and Paran, he was 
at length received at the Egyptian court; and when he was 
grown to manhood, won great favour with the king, who gave 
to him in marriage his own queen's sister. As this Pharaoh 

1 The acts of Solomon are described (2 Chron. ix. 29) as written by Nathan 
the prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite, and Iddo the Seer. 

2 The text says, the house of Joseph ; but this probably means Ephraim only. 
Our reporter gives details which have the appearance of being added after 

the event, that Jeroboam was to have only ten of the twelve tribes, and this, 
not until after the death of Solomon. 

G 3 


was in close alliance with Solomon, whose father-in-law he 
had become, Hadad carefully concealed from him his inten- 
tions, while begging leave to return to his own country 1 . On 
reaching it, he soon commenced a harassing petty warfare 
against the Israelites, which Solomon was unable to repress. 
This must have been a sore vexation to the traffic of the Red 
Sea, since all the merchandize had to pass through Idumsea 
on the backs of camels. Thus, while the court and govern- 
ment had become habitually expensive beyond all proportion 
to the magnitude of the territory, the sources of revenue began 
to be cut off. 

On the northern side also a troublesome enemy appeared. 
How long the garrisons of David were kept up in the fortresses 
of Damascus, we do not know ; nor whether they were volun- 
tarily withdrawn, or were forcibly expelled. It cannot be 
imagined that without them the Hebrew dominion over Thap- 
sacus, Tadmor and the cities of Hamath could be upheld, or 
the north-eastern traffic be secure : yet the difficulty of main- 
taining them must have been very great. At any rate in 
Solomon^ s later years, E/ezon, who is described as a revolted 
servant of Hadadezer, made himself master of Damascus and 
its district, and founded a kingdom which was soon to become 
exceedingly formidable. His power entirely shut Solomon 
out from the trade across the desart, at least by its natural 
channel; and the activity of two such adversaries as Rezon 
and Hadad must have awakened the slumbering enmities of 
Ammon and Moab, which, as well as Edom, had fearful wrongs 
to avenge. 

Thus clouds were gathering over the late splendid Hebrew 
empire. The secret began to transpire among the enemies of 
the house of David, that the lofty statue of Hebrew ascendency 
before which they had crouched in homage, was nothing but 
a gaudy gigantic doll. The veterans of David had passed 
away, and as no new wars of importance or continuity had 
arisen to train up successors to them, the very instrument of 
dominion had been seriously impaired ; nor was military ex- 
ertion in accordance with Solomon' s tastes and habits. The 

1 There is a chronological difficulty. It seems to be implied (1 Kings, xi. 21) 
that Hadad returned to Edom as soon as David and Joab were dead ; yet as 
bis hostilities are regarded as a punishment on the idolatry of Solomon's old 
age, they need to be deferred some twenty years after the death of Joab. And 
until this later period, Hadad can hardly have become dangerous. 


embarrassments in which he was involved were in part be- 
queathed to him by his father ; for empire begun by prowess 
and established by massacre is certain to breed smothered en- 
mities, which at last blaze out in retaliation. But another 
still more formidable danger rose out of his own pomp and 
voluptuousness. These could not be supported simultaneously 
with the heavy expenses of his over- grasping empire, from the 
ample revenues of his own domains, of his exclusive trade, and 
of his foreign tribute; and it had become requisite to lay 
heavy taxes on his own people. They had discovered that his 
wealth was their poverty ; and, having no constitutional mode 
of remonstrance, waited with impatience for the commence- 
ment of a new reign, hoping then to exact some conditions 
from the prince, and not allow him to ascend the throne in as 
arbitrary and unformal a manner as Solomon had done. To 
men in such a temper, the declaration of Ahijah the Shilonite 
in favour of Jeroboam fell as spark upon tinder. The house 
of Ephraim, over whom Jeroboam was placed, accepted Ahi- 
jah's address as a protest against the king personally, and as 
a sanction given to Jeroboam, to whom they were favourably 
disposed; while Solomon's immediate persecution of him must 
assuredly have increased his popularity. Once more; the 
lavish display of wealth in which the Hebrew monarch in- 
dulged, excited the cupidity of neighbouring powers. While 
his army was in its prime of strength, such conduct may have 
been not impolitic ; but when he had been seen unable to re- 
press the attacks of petty potentates, like Rezon and Hadad, 
his temple and his treasures were but a mark to the spoiler, 
and presently lured the powerful king of Egypt against the 

It was well for Solomon that death overtook him before 
this calamity and disgrace overwhelmed Jerusalem. His ca- 
reer had come to its natural termination, when the primitive 
impulse of prosperity had been spent. In spite of his much- 
vaunted wisdom, there had been no vitality or reproductive 
power infused into the national finances. All were sensible 
that the public weal was decaying ; and when he died, very 
few regretted him 1 . 

The sagacity attributed to him seems to have been three- 
fold : wisdom in the administration of justice, which con- 
sisted chiefly in cleverness to discover truth, when the evidence 
1 B.C. 955. See Appendix. 


was insufficient, doubtful or contradictory ; wisdom in general 
government, as to which the actual results prove him 
to have been most lamentably deficient : and wisdom of a 
more scholastic kind, such as was evidenced in the writing of 
proverbs and books of natural history. Of his merit in the 
last, no means of judging exist ; but those chapters of the 
Proverbs, which are regarded as his genuine writing, are the 
production of no common mind, and explain how, in that 
age, he was regarded as intellectually towering above other 

There is a marked contrast between the tone of the au- 
thorities on which we are dependent for the lives of David 
and Solomon. The books of Samuel and Kings show a 
general impartiality in which the Chronicles are wholly 
wanting. All the dark events which sully these two reigns 
are carefully hushed up by the last work. In it we read no- 
thing of David's civil war during his reign in Hebron over 
Judah; nothing of his cruelty towards Moab and Edom; 
nothing of his deeds of adultery and murder; nothing of 
Amnon's brutality, of the fierce revenge and wicked rebellion 
of Absalom; nothing of the immolation of Saul's sons, or 
of the revolt of Adonijah and his slaughter by Solomon ; no- 
thing of the crimes and the punishments of Joab, of Abiathar 
or of Shimei. On the other hand, we have a great deal in the 
Chronicles calculated to magnify the religious zeal, and 
especially the devotion to the Levitical system, displayed by 
David, of which the earlier history takes no notice. So too, 
the Chronicler suppresses all mention of the disgust of Hiram, 
of the idolatries of Solomon, and the reverses of his later 
years ; of the insurrectionary movement of the prophet Ahijah, 
and the cause of Jeroboam's flight into Egypt. In short, it 
will record nothing but what tends to glorify this prince, the 
great establisher of the priestly dignity. Accordingly, it im- 
putes his building of his queen's palace to a scruple of con- 
science as to this child of idolaters dwelling in the house of 
the pious David : t( because (said he) the places are holy, 
whereunto the ark of Jehovah hath come." A few differences 
of this kind might be honourably accounted for ; but a general 
review puts it beyond reasonable doubt, that the book of 
Chronicles is not an honest and trustworthy narrative, and 
must be used with great caution as an authority, where any- 
thing is involved which affects Levitical influence. 


On the Chronology. 

THERE is no difference of opinion among chronologers, that 
the date of the capture of Samaria by Shalmaneser is B.C. 721 ; 
but when we reckon the times backward from this, various 
inconsistencies are discovered. It is not requisite here to 
reiterate what has been so often treated. What we have 
particularly to remark, is, that after making the corrections 
which are usually approved, two great gaps still remain in the 
Israelitish history, which have been called Interregnums ; the 
one, of ten years, between the death of Jeroboam the 2nd 
and the accession of his son Zachariah : the other, of nine 
years, between the death of Pekah and the accession of his 
murderer Hoshea. In the text we read simply, " Jeroboam 
slept with his fathers, and Zachariah his son reigned in his 
stead 1 :" and " Hoshea slew Pekah and reigned in his stead, in 
the,twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah 2 ." It is manifest 
that the compiler had in neither case the remotest idea of an 
interregnum, and we therefore ought not to interpolate so 
serious an event merely in deference to figures, which are 
easily corrupted, and often in these books undeniably faulty. 

Hitzig has rightly remarked, that the second interregnum 
vanishes, if we properly interpret the reign of Jotham, who 
began to exercise royal power before his father died. Yet, 
when we have no new facts for Pekah's reign, it is hard to 
approve of lengthening it by eight years, which indeed involves 
more alterations than are enough. It suffices instead to correct 
the age of Hezekiah 3 by deducting ten years; by which indeed 
we make Ahaz twenty or twenty-one years older than his son, 
while Hitzig computes nineteen only. In the common chro- 
nology there is but ten or eleven years between them, which 
is obviously absurd. Accordingly in the following pages, we 
follow a reckoning which reduces the dates of Uzziah, Pekah, 
and his near predecessors, by nine or ten years, which is the 
imaginary interregnum between Pekah and Hoshea. 

As for the other gap, we have to choose between lengthen- 

1 Kings, xiv. 29. 2 Kings, xv. 30. 3 Chap, xviii. 2. 


ing by ten years the reign of some Israelitish king, or short- 
ening by a like sum that of a king of Judah. If the former 
plan be approved, we find one reason for lengthening that 
of Jeroboam ; namely, that one correction then suffices : for 
the number 27 in 2 Kings, xv. 1, must on other grounds 
necessarily be altered, and is not here to be reckoned. Yet 
as Jeroboam has already a reign of forty-one years, we shrink 
from increasing it to fifty-one ; a length of time which, though 
p'ossible, ought hardly to be obtruded by conjectural emenda- 
tion. Instead of this, to lengthen the reign of Menahem from 
above, though we have then three alterations to make in xv. 
13, 17, might still be better than the former change. 

If we follow the general belief, that the same Hosea who 
composed the last eleven chapters of the book which bears 
his name, wrote his first chapter in the reign of Jeroboam II., 
we can scarcely doubt that the received chronology is in this 
part much too long ; for as his last chapters date from the 
siege of Samaria, it assigns to him full sixty years of prophe- 
sying. Isaiah and Micah also were believed by the ancient 
compilers of their works to have written under four successive 
kings of Judah ; which is another hint to us that they held a 
shorter chronology. On the whole, then, we see reasons for 
preferring the alternative of deducting ten years from some 
Jewish reign. 

When we endeavour to pick out the particular reign, we 
find that there is danger of lowering too much the excess of 
age of father over son. On this ground, Amaziah and Uzziah 
are the only two reigns to be thought of, unless we choose to 
encounter the need of several other changes. Their ages ex- 
ceed those of their sons by thirty-eight and forty-three years 
respectively. Yet we cannot thus deal with Uzziah, (whose 
accession we have already lowered by nine or ten years,) 
without making Jotham die before his father. It remains 
therefore to deduct ten years from Amaziah' s reign 1 , and to 
suppose that he was only twenty-eight years older than his 
son Uzziah. From these changes we finally bring out, that 
the death of Solomon was in the year B.C. 955. 

The reigns of Solomon, of David, and (according to St. Paul 
in the Acts of the Apostles) of Saul likewise, are forty years 

1 For this we must change twenty-nine into nineteen in 2 Kings, xiv. 2, and 
fifteen into twenty-five in v. 23. This imputes an error which is no mere acci- 
dent of transcription, but that is perhaps in any way inevitable. 



each. This does not appear too long a period in itself, either 
for Solomon or for David ; yet . the number has so many 
mythical associations as to lessen our confidence in its having 
historical foundation. 

A chronological table may here be suitably added. 

Chronological Table from the Death of Solomon to the Fall 
of Samaria. 

Queen Mother. 

Accession of king in Jerusalem. 


Accession of Israelitish 


Abijam his son 





Asa liis son 


Nadab his son. 


Elah his son. 


Zimri, Tibni, Omri. 


Jehoshaphat his son 

Jehoram with his father... 
(Jehoshaphat dies) 
Ahaziah his son 



Omri (alone). 
Ahab his son. 

Ahaziah his son. 
Jehoram his brother. 

(Queen) Athaliah 




Jehoash (under Jehoiada) 
. alleged son of Ahaziah 

Amaziah his son 


Jehoahaz his son. 
Jehoash his son. 


Uzziah his son 


Jeroboam II. his son. 


Zachariah his son. 


Jotham with his father.... 


Shallum, Menahem. 
Pekahiah son of M. 


(Uzziah dies) 
A-haz liis son 




Hezekiah his son 


Samaria captured. 



From the Fall of Samaria to the Razing of the Walls 
of Jerusalem. 

Queen Mother. 

King in Jerusalem. 






Manasseh his son 
Aroon bis son 



Josiah his son 



Jehoahaz his son 



Jehoiakim his brother 



Jehoiachin his son 



Zedekiah son of Josiah.... 
Destruction of Jerusalem. 



Nearly to recover the common system of chronology, we 
must add 10 to the numbers from Uzziah to Pekah inclusive 
(except Jot ham, to whom 1 only is to be added) , and then add 
^0 to all higher dates. 



OMRI, B.C. 955-904. 

WE have seen how the headless body of Saul was buried at 
Jabesh Gilead, and was afterwards removed to his own private 
estate in Gibeah of Benjamin. David, on the contrary, had 
been interred in that part of Jerusalem which was emphati- 
cally called the City of David, the fortifications of which his 
son enlarged and completed. In the same spot was a royal 
burying-place now solemnly established, into which the suc- 
cessive kings of this line, when they slept with their fathers, 
were for the most part carried. Solomon accordingly was 
here entombed with royal ceremonies, and his son REHOBOAM 
prepared to step into his place 1 . 

We have no ground for believing that the foreign body- 
guard, which was so prominent in the reign of David, was 
kept up through that of Solomon. Of Cherethites, Pelethites 
and Gittites we hear no more, nor are they replaced by any 
other foreign names. The throne of the Hebrew king was 
now to be supported by its own popularity and by its native 
army; and (following perhaps the advice of his father's coun- 
sellors) Rehoboam thought proper to hold a constitutional 
assembly of the tribes, and formally to accept of the royal 
dignity in their presence. For this purpose he convened a 
meeting of all Israel at Shechem, a very ancient and venerated 
town of Ephraim. But so decisive was the general disaffec- 
tion and the determination to enforce new principles on the 
administration, that the tribes immediately sent for Jeroboam 
from Egypt, who had the boldness to appear publicly at 
Shechem, there to confront the new monarch. Becoming (as 
may appear) the spokesman of the national will, he positively 
demanded a remission of the oppressive taxes, and on this 
condition proffered loyal service to the son of Solomon. Three 
days were taken for deliberation ; after which Rehoboam, foU 

1 B.C. 955. 


lowing the advice of his young companions against that of 
his father's counsellors, gave a haughty and contemptuous 
refusal, which was intended to terrify all into submission. 
Instead of this, all the northern and eastern tribes unani- 
mously revolted from him, and took Jeroboam for their king : 
none adhered to Rehoboam but his own tribe of Judah and 
the contiguous one of Benjamin 1 , which in any case could 
scarcely refuse to follow the fortunes of Jerusalem. Rehoboam 
did not believe the full extent of his own misfortune, and sent 
one of his officers to superintend the usual collection of the 
tribute ; but the people stoned him to death, upon which the 
king was glad to escape in haste to Jerusalem. His first 
thoughts were to recover his dominion by war 2 , but Shemaiah 
the prophet, by his vehement and positive prohibition, deterred 
him from so hopeless an enterprize. 

Thus far Rehoboam acted as a prince who had but just 
emerged from the harem ; and it is quite probable that this 
was his actual position. David had suffered by conspiracy 
from two of his own sons. This fact Solomon was not likely 
to forget ; and we may well believe that he guarded against a 
similar occurrence by shutting up his only son (at least from 
his thousand wives only one son is named) within the walls 
of his seraglio. But the sharp lesson which Rehoboam had 
received in this first experiment of ruling, appears to have 
been very wholesome in its effects; for all the rest of his 
reign was prudent, though not religiously laudable. His 
mother's name was Naamah (or, lovely one), an Ammonitess, 
and it was not to be expected that he would deviate from his 
father's example of honouring his mother's god. The tribe 
of Judah everywhere consecrated high places and images to 
Jehovah, without a suspicion that this could deserve censure ; 
nor only so, but deadly Canaanitish immoralities are specified 
with the rites of Astarte, as established in the land under pre- 
tence of religion 3 . Thus the worldly prosperity of David and 
Solomon appeared to have had no other result than to give to 

1 The old narrator seems even to comprise Benjamin in Judah : " I will give 
ten tribes to thee, but he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake ; " 
1 Kings, xi. 32. 

2 The record says, " He assembled 180,000 chosen warriors" which perhaps 
indicates no more than that the writer estimated the tribes of Judah and Ben- 
jamin to contain this number of males within the military age. 

3 1 Kings, xiv. 23, 24. The Chronicles omit everything so shocking against 
a son of Solomon ; and only indicate that in his fifth year he forsook Jehovah, 


the Hebrew metropolis, both outwardly and in reality, a large 
share of pagan superstition. 

Meanwhile JEROBOAM was far from fulfilling the hopes of 
the prophet who had so unadvisedly fired the train of insur- 
rection ; but before we name any details, it will be appropriate 
to review the foreign results of this schism. The nations 
which owned subjection to Solomon were no longer likely to 
obey either of his successors. In the north, all foreign domi- 
nion had already been lost (we can scarcely doubt) by the rise 
of Rezon in Damascus. The Ammonites appear to have ef- 
fected their liberation from Israelite power, but the Moabites 
to have remained tributary. The Edomites, in the early 
reigns of the kings of Judah, may have still paid a nominal 
homage, but we find no marks that it was more than nominal. 
Cut off from the Tyrians and from the maritime Israelites, 
and deprived of the greater part of his exportable surplus, Re- 
hoboam must perhaps in any case have found the ports of the 
Red Sea quite unserviceable. Nothing but the apparent ease 
with which one of his successors 1 resumes the power of the 
throne of Jerusalem over Idumsea, leads us to believe that his 
sovereignty was not in these times formally disavowed. As 
to the Philistine conduct, it is peculiarly difficult to draw in- 
ferences from our scanty materials; since we do not even 
know to how many of their towns the jealousy of Solomon 
may have permitted walls, nor what facility existed of holding 
their citadels by Hebrew garrisons. In the reign of Reho- 
boam's grandson, we find the Philistine town of Gibbethon 
twice endure a siege from kings of Israel, while the king of 
Judah remains apparently unconcerned. Since the tribe of 
Dan clearly must be reckoned among the ten 2 which are said 

and was immediately chastised by Shishak's invasion, which brought about his 
repentance. The sin is probably a mere inference from the visitation. 

Among the images erected and consecrated by some kings of Judah, which re- 
mained until the reign of Josiah, are particularly named certain horses dedicated 
to the Sun, at the very entrance of the house of Jehovah, as likewise chariots 
of the Sun. We are not distinctly informed of their date, but as they are not 
named as of Manasseh's introduction, they were probably of extreme antiquity. 

1 Jehoshaphat. 

2 Although his kingdom (which is called Israel in contrast to that of Eeho- 
boam, which is called Judah,) is always said to contain ten tribes, it may seem 
to be difficult to find so many, for the tribe of Simeon was swallowed up in Ju- 
dah, and had no territorial existence, or at any rate can in no way be made out 
to belong to Israel. The song of Moses omits Simeon, and makes only eleven 
tribes besides Levi. If however we regard Manasseh east of Jordan and Ma- 
nasseh west of Jordan as separate tribes (as in fact they were), the full number 
may in this way be counted. 


to adhere to Jeroboam, it may appear that circumstances un- 
explained (such as the disaffection of Hebrew garrisons to Re- 
hoboam) gave to the kings of Israel the sovereignty (whether 
more or less severely enforced) over the Philistine towns which 
were nominally the portion of Dan. On the other hand, the 
way in which Jericho is afterwards named implies that that 
fertile lowland, which is counted as a part of Benjamin, fell 
to Jeroboam, to whose region its physical position naturally 
united it. Thus the Israelite territory closed round that of 
Judah on the north-east and north-west, and cut it off almost 
entirely from the sea. 

But Jeroboam had far too much on his hands to make him 
willing to attack his rival. A more urgent care was to fortify 
the city of Shechem as his capital, and next, the town of 
Penuel, near the brook Jabbok, beyond the Jordan, in order 
to confirm his authority over the eastern tribes. Having pro- 
vided for military defence, he made regulations concerning 
religion. His sacerdotal censors suppose him to have been 
chiefly moved by the fear that all Israel would go up to Jeru- 
salem to sacrifice to Jehovah; and this may certainly have 
entered his calculations. Yet it is clear that not even Judah 
and Benjamin were disposed to do without local sanctuaries, 
to which, as every other nation in the world, they were all too 
much attached ; nor had any parties such an idea of centra- 
lized religion as after-times conceived. It is enough therefore 
to believe the Israelitish king actuated by the same motives 
as Rehoboam. During his residence at the court of Shishak 
he had become familiarized with the outward forms of Egyp- 
tian idolatry, and it is even possible had been struck by the 
resemblance of some of their sacred symbols to the mystic 
cherubim. In the Assyrian visions of Ezekiel and in the Apo- 
calypse, the forms of a man, a lion, an eagle and an ox are 
found in strange combination as religious emblems ; and the 
images erected by Jeroboam for worship, if not identical with 
any of these, were, according to the severity of our Decalogue, 
neither more nor less idolatrous than they ; though his images 
were displayed to the public eye, while the cherubim in So- 
lomon's temple could be seen only by the priests. Those of 
Jeroboam, however, are derided by the name of golden calves, 
and it is sufficiently remarkable that (as if to identify his of- 
fence with a legendary sin of Aaron's) he is represented to use 
Aaron's words of exhortation 1 : " Behold thy God, O Israel, 

1 1 Kings, xii. 28, De Wette's Translation. 


who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." The images 
were set up peculiarly 1 ,, not in Shechem (which would have 
been done if the object had been to rally Israel round Jero- 
boam's new capital), but at the two ends of the land, at Dan, 
the northernmost town, and in the sacred city of Bethel, where 
Samuel had held his sessions, on the very frontier of Ephraim 
and Benjamin. It does not appear that any foreign god was 
here adored, or any moral impurities introduced : on the other 
hand, we have convincing casual evidence that the Hebrew 
people were habitual image-worshippers, before and after Jero- 
boam. An isolated fact which comes out is here pregnant with 
meaning. Down to the time of king Hezekiah, or more than 
two centuries and a half later than Jeroboam, the people sub- 
ject to the house of David continued to burn incense to a cer- 
tain brass serpent as to a god 2 . Towards the close of the 
monarchy this was believed to have been an image made by 
Moses in the wilderness to work a miracle by ; but we have 
no means of learning whether that belief was shared by the 
worshippers, or whether, in adoring it, they fancied they were 
pleasing 'Jehovah. The serpent is a well-known emblem in 
various pagan superstitions. 

That the idolatry introduced by Jeroboam was meant to be 
a monotheistic ceremony is clear, not only from the language 
put into his mouth, so like to that of Aaron, but still more 
from the very different behaviour of the prophets, when Ahab 
really imported foreign religion. Nevertheless, in much later 
times the worship at Bethel and other high places became at 
length full of demoralizing practices, and called out against it 
the keenest attacks of the extant prophets, Amos, Hosea and 
Micah ; and this led the later compilers of the history to take 
the blackest view of Jeroboam/ s character, who has earned 
with them the unenviable epithet, "the son of Nebat, who 
made Israel to sin" 

Yet they do not conceal that their grand quarrel against 
Jeroboam is a ceremonial one. No moral evil, in fact, is im- 
puted by them ; his offence was, that he ordained priests, not 
from the Levites, but from the tribes promiscuously ; and this 
" became sin to the house of Jeroboam, to cut it off and de- 

1 Though the golden calves were at these two towns, temples were consecrated 
on high places in all the chief cities ; 1 Kings, xiii. 32, 33. In Amos we find 
Gilgal named as an idolatrous sanctuary. 

2 2 Kings, xviii. 4. 


stroy it from off the face of the earth 1 ." He likewise neg- 
lected their sacred days, making a solemn feast on the fif- 
teenth day of the eighth month, while in Jerusalem they held 
the feast of Tabernacles just one month earlier. As Chris- 
tians have raved concerning the time of Easter, so did the 
later Levites against " the day which Jeroboam had devised 
of his own heart 2 ." 

Where our earlier and better record is satisfied with noticing 
the fact, that Jeroboam did not employ Levites as his priests, 
the Chronicler superadds a great migration of Levites from 
Israel into Judah, abandoning all their worldly prospects. 
With them, he says, came many of all the tribes of Israel, for 
the satisfaction of living in communion with Jerusalem. Yet 
the prophets came not ; and with good reason, when the 
idolatry established there by Solomon and Eehoboam was so 
much fouler than that of the calves at Dan and Bethel. It 
can hardly be doubted that the Chronicler assumed there had 
previously been Levites dispersed in Levitical towns over all 
the land during David and Solomon's reign, and then inferred 
that they must have been expelled by Jeroboam. On the 
contrary, it is not credible that this prince found any large 
body of Levites in his dominions ; and that is probably the 
sufficient reason why he did not make priests of them. It 
has been already remarked, that the Levites cannot have lived 
by tithes in cities of their own during the tumultuous period 
of the Judges. To put them into possession would have been 
for David or Solomon a most arduous operation, either very 
violent and oppressive to individuals, or effected by an enor- 
mous sacrifice of public revenue. In either case some histo- 
rical notice of such a proceeding would be left to us. If there- 
fore the Levites were already become in Jerusalem a strictly 
hereditary caste, (which is highly uncertain,) even so it would 
seem that Jeroboam could not have selected them for the 
public ministrations without making petition to his enemy, 

1 1 Kings, xiii. 33. 

2 If we could believe a legend which manifestly gained its final shape in the 
reign of Josiah, a man of God went to Bethel to withstand Jeroboam, and pre- 
dicted that a child named JOSIAH should be born in the house of David, who 
should burn on that altar the bones of dead priests. To accredit his word, the 
altar was rent and its ashes poured out ; and when Jeroboam put out his hand 
against the man of God, it was miraculously shrivelled up. Again, it was re- 
stored at the prayer of the man of God. Yet the miracles produced no result 


and introducing among his people those who might have been 
dangerous to his power. If his spirit was in reality that of 
" the man Micah" in earlier times, who preferred a Levite for 
a priest when he could get one, but ordained his own son as 
priest when no Levite could be had, still, when the result 
was, that a non-Levitical priesthood arose, this incurred deep 
condemnation in the days of sacerdotal rigour ; much as a Pres- 
byterian church is censured by high Episcopalians. And 
especially when the worship at Bethel more and more assi- 
milated itself to the impurities of Paganism, the accumulated 
fuilt of the whole system was made to rest on the head of 

In any case, through the absence of the Aaronite order, 
important results ensued. Nearly as in modern continental 
Protestantism, so in Israel the priests fell under the control 
of the kingly power, and never grew into any such strength 
as to be able to resist and modify its despotism. But for that 
very reason, neither were they able to strengthen the crown 
when it was weak, and to support a fixed dynasty in the suc- 
cession of the throne. They had little hold over the mind 
of the people, and could neither inculcate sacerdotalism with 
effect, nor resist foreign superstitions ; nor in fact, as yet, even 
in Judah had the whole ecclesiastical body at all attained 
strength for either enterprize. On the other hand, from the 
absence of Aaronite priests, the prophets had so much the 
clearer field for their action in Israel. By the great numbers 
of them found there some fifty or more years later, it appears 
certain that they must have multiplied under Jeroboam and 
his immediate successors. From the hints given us it may 
be inferred that they now dwelt in communities, under the 
superintendence of some older prophet, and laboured together 
for their scanty sustenance, like the monks of certain Orders 
in the middle ages. Bethel itself was one of their seats. 
While the prophet stayed in Israel, there can hardly have 
been any adequate moral reasons to induce Levites and the 
pious part of Israel voluntarily to emigrate into Judah. 

Of these prophets the most celebrated was that Ahijah the 
Shilonite, by whose agency the division of Israel and Judah 
was brought about. His residence was at the sacred town 
of Shiloh in Ephraim, where the ark and Eli so long tarried ; 
and he appears to have retained the veneration of the king to 
years of his long life. It was not to be credited that 


such, a prophet had not vehemently denounced the wickedness 
of Jeroboam, as well as deplored his golden calves. Accord- 
ingly, those who compiled the records of these times with a 
knowledge of the after-events, represent Ahijah, when the wife 
of Jeroboam came to consult him on her son's health, as 
uttering a stern and exact prediction of the ruin which should 
overwhelm the house of Jeroboam, and the captivity of Israel 
into countries beyond the Euphrates ; as the only comfort to 
the anxious mother, informing her that her son should imme- 
diately be removed from so evil a world, because there was 
some good thing in him towards Jehovah the God of Israel. 
Whatever Ahijah said, Jeroboam and his queen did not re- 
sent it : the aged and now blind prophet went to his grave in 

Long before this event Hehoboam had had to struggle with 
difficult circumstances, but not from his rival's hostility. The 
territory to which he succeeded was not one-fourth of the 
Israelitish land, yet in actual power he very nearly competed 
with Jeroboam. He enjoyed the great advantage of com- 
pactness in his dominions, and as the grandson of David he 
was secure in the loyalty of the tribes which held to him. At 
the old centre of government he found a completeness of 
organization which must long have been wanting to Jeroboam ; 
and, what was not less important, he was master of Solomon's 
chief treasures. If we can believe the account in Chronicles, 
the exertions now made by Rehoboam in fortifying his king- 
dom and garrisoning his castles were prodigious. Undoubt- 
edly he had cause to fear, especially from Egypt, for of the 
hostile temper now active there he can hardly have been igno- 
rant; and many of the towns said to be fortified by him 
might seem to be intended as defence from that quarter. But 
putting Egypt out of the question, it was requisite to prepare 
for attack from the Philistines and the Edomites. Among 
the latter the spirit of Hadad can hardly have been dead; 
and the former, who persevered in uncircumcision and hete- 
rogeneous habits, were an intestine foe, hardly less dangerous 
when free than if under Jeroboam. But as Jeroboam re- 
mained on the defensive, and Shishak delayed his meditated 
inroad till Rehoboam's fifth year, the Hebrew king success- 
fully repressed all farther hostile tendencies, and appeared to be 
securely seated, though with diminished lustre, on his father's 


But in his fifth year he was overwhelmed by a flood of in- 
vasion, which is so concisely described in one record and so 
hyperbolically in the other, that it is hard to conjecture the 
exact truth 1 . The king of Egypt rushed in upon him, to 
seize his destined booty ; the plunder of the temple and of 
the king's treasure-house. The spoiler came and went, like 
a dream, leaving no other trace of his irresistible march than 
this one particular result. He was but a meteor shooting 
over the sky of Judaea, baleful to the imagination, but harm- 
less in fact. He did not dismantle the castles, carry off the 
arms and munitions of war, plunder the towns of their valua- 
bles and the country of its cattle, so far as is stated or can be 
traced. Had he acted as those who make invasions for the 
sake of spoil generally act, the throne of David must have 
fallen for ever, or have been preserved only by an intense and 
lingering struggle. On the contrary, for anything that ap- 
pears, Behoboam's power remains unimpaired ; and he leaves 
his kingdom to his son in a high state of organization and 
efficiency, if at least the Chronicler has not grossly misrepre- 
sented the truth in spirit as well as in details. The loss of 
the battle before Bamoth in Gilead by Jehoshaphat cost Judah 
severe and long-continued suffering from the assaults of the 
Edomites, Arabs and Philistines ; yet the occupation of Jeru- 
salem itself by Shishak leads to no result that has deserved to 
be recorded. This is a problem involving to us some measure 
of perplexity. 

The most direct hypothesis is that of bold incredulity. Is 
it not apparent (it might be said) that the invasion of Shishak 
is a Deus ex machind to account for one solitary fact, the dis- 
appearance of certain treasures from the temple and palace ? 
And if these treasures ever existed, who is so likely to have 
used them as Behoboam, while struggling to preserve the 
remnants of his father's power ? And if our historians could 
imagine or invent an inroad of a million Ethiopians 2 half a 
century later, in order to aggrandize king Asa, why may they 
not have equally invented in this reign the countless host ol 

1 2 Chron. xii. 3. Shishak brings in " 1200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and 
infantry without mwnber." To gather such a host, pass and repass the desart 
with it, and maintain it till disbanded, would be so enormously expensive, that 
to save himself from great loss, Shishak would have needed to plunder the whole 
of Eehoboam's little kingdom. His infantry are described as " Lubim, Sukkiim 
and Ethiopians." 

" 2 Chron. xiv. 9. 


Egyptians, to screen the sacrilege of Rehoboam ? And in 
truth, if this invasion, like that of Zerah the Ethiopian, were 
named solely in the Chronicles, such incredulity would not be 
excessive. But when it is remembered that our historians in 
no other instance shrink from avowing how the best monarchs 
made free with the treasures of the temple for political ends, 
we find in this no adequate motive to them for so strange an in- 
vention. Moreover, the hostile movement of Shishak is in 
perfect keeping with the position which he had previously 
held towards Solomon, whose enemy Jeroboam he then shel- 
tered and now leaves unassailed. 

A second inquiry might be started, whether in fact the forces 
of Shishak were not called in by Rehoboam himself and volun- 
tarily paid by him out of his father's treasures. But we may 
still ask why then should not this have been stated, as frankly 
as in the case of Asa and Hezekiah? On the whole there- 
fore no better explanation suggests itself than the following, 
which however cannot be more than conjectural. The king of 
Egypt, full of the hostile feelings which Jeroboam had infused 
or cherished, marched against the son of Solomon with the 
intention of pillaging Jerusalem. The Jewish prince, know- 
ing his own inferiority, was prudent enough not to resist; and 
received Shishak into his capital. By the personal interview 
thus obtained, he convinced the invader that it was not his in- 
terest to make Jeroboam too powerful : that unless he chose 
to advance the Egyptian frontier beyond the desart, and hereby 
expose himself to a thousand contingencies, true policy dic- 
tated that he should keep the balance between the two He- 
brew princes, and carefully avoid to weaken Rehoboam too 
much. Shishak was made to see that since the days of Solo- 
mon the wings of the Jewish eagle had been effectually clipped ; 
and changing his own views, was contented to take all the 
gold treasure of Jerusalem as the indemnification of his march. 
He then retired home in an orderly manner 1 , throwing the 

1 Some have imagined that the pillars set up by Sesostris in Palestine, which 
Herodotus says he saw, must have been really the work of Shishak. But of 
these nothing is known beyond what Herodotus tells us. Near Beirut sculp- 
tures are found, not on pillars, but on the natural rock, which are judged to be 
partly Persian and partly Egyptian ; and, in the hieroglyphics of the latter, 
Dr. Lepsius says that the name of Sesostris is found twice. But these can 
in no way be identified with Shishak's invasion of Judah. Expounders of the 
hieroglyphics tell us that pictures represent the king of Judah (with his 
title added) brought bound to Sheshonk. This can only be 'pictorial. [Colonel 


weight of his influence with all the neighbouring peoples into 
the scale of Rehoboam 1 . 

Tn this or in some such way, the dynasty of David was 
saved through the dangerous transition,, which, from lords of 
a united and conquering nation, reduced his descendants to 
petty princes dependent on the forbearance of a powerful 
neighbour. But the desart ordinarily removed all fear from 
the side of Egypt, and against nearer nations the king of 
Jerusalem and Judea was well able to defend himself. Be- 
tween him and Jeroboam there was no amity 2 , yet neither 
was there active or dangerous war ; nothing at least of their 
warlike exploits has been deemed worthy of remembrance. 

Although unable to vie with his father in the splendour of 
his seraglio, he inherited the belief that to indulge in many 
wives was^a peculiar privilege of royaylt. Our later autho- 
rity alone states this, and assigns to him 18 wives, 60 concu- 
bines, 28 sons and 60 daughters. The names also of three 
wives, descendants of Jesse, are given; but they are none 
quite free from difficulty 3 . His favourite wife was Maachah, 
who seems to have been granddaughter to David's son Absa- 
lom, by his beautiful daughter Tamar; and her son Abijam 
was selected by Rehoboam as his successor. His other sons 
he dispersed as governors through the fortified towns, intend- 
ing hereby to strengthen his dynasty. He died after a reign 

Rawlinson thinks the letters on the Beirut sculptures to be " Medo-Assyrian :" 
Journal of Asiat. S. vol. x. p. 27.] 

1 It perhaps may be added, that the Edomites had as yet imperfectly recovered 
from Joab's wholesale massacre. By the time of Jehoshaphat and his son their 
numbers had again increased. 

2 1 Kings, xiv. 30. 

3 2 Chr. xi. 18-22, xiii. 2 ; 1 Kings, xv. 2. The mother of Abijam is variously 
called Maachah daughter of Abishalom, Maachah daughter of Absalom, and Mi- 
chaiah daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Abishalom is probably Absalom, and 
Michaiah a corruption of Maachah : if so, it is likely that daughter of Absalom 
is a loose expression for granddaughter. For as Absalom was slain when 
Solomon was a mere boy, Absalom's own daughter can scarcely have been 
Rehoboam's wife. But Absalom's daughter Tamar (2 Sam. xiv. 27) may 
have been married to Uriel, a kinsman of Saul, and have become mother 
of Maachah. Even so, there is a new difficulty, in Maachah being also called 
mother to king Asa; but this will be presently observed upon. Another 
wife of Rehoboam is Abihail daughter of Eliab, David's eldest brother; where 
daughter may seem less proper than great-granddaughter. For Rehoboam 
came to the throne 110 years after the birth of David ; and perhaps 130 years 
after the birth of Eliab. A third wife is Mahalath, daughter of Jerimoth 
son of David ; which is possibly correct, if Jerimoth was a son of old age to 

H 2 


of eighteen years 1 , and having been buried in the royal 
sepulchres, was succeeded without commotion by his son 

Abijam's reign was short, and in no respect memorable. 
His mother Maacah was given to superstition as much as 
his Ammonitish grandmother ; and he is commemorated by 
our elder historian for nothing else, but for his disgraceful 
support of foreign and impure ceremonies. It is added, that 
like his father, he persevered in hostility to Jeroboam 2 ; but 
we have not a single trustworthy detail surviving. He was 
taken off by a premature death 3 , and was honoured with the 
usual royal burial. His youthful son ASA succeeded him. 

As for Jeroboam, though he outlived both Rehoboam and 
his son, our meagre historians furnish us not with a single 
additional fact, or any true insight into his character. It is 
unreasonable to doubt, that his anti-Levitical arrangements 
(which alone the historians care to record) formed the least 
part of the cares and concerns of his government. It is not 
likely that so vigorous and able a man lost the Israelitish 
sovereignty over the Ammonites without a struggle, or that 
the Moabites continued in payment of tribute to him without 
a difficult war ; and if we could recover the true chronicles of 
his reign, we might find, that these foreigners, with the Phi- 
listines of the Danite territory, next to the general organiza- 
tion of his kingdom, required all the activity of his mind and 
body. Concerning his relations with the king of Damascus, 
not a hint remains even to guide conjecture. Our materials 
only enable us to assert, that Jeroboam built himself a palace 
at Tirzah, a lovely spot, where his successors also held their 

1 B.C. 937. Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer are referred to as writers 
of the acts of Rehoboam. Iddo wrote visions which he had seen against Jero- 
boam, and is an authority also for the close of Solomon's life, and for the whole 
of Abijam's. 

2 The Chronicler (2 Chr. xiii.) has thought it necessary to give some particulars 
of this war. Abijah (as he calls him) leads out 400,000 chosen men ; Jeroboam 
sets in array against him 800,000 chosen men and mighty men of valour. Abi- 
jah makes a pious and highly sacerdotal harangue to his troops, and after it 
slays 500,000 of the enemy. Upon this he recovers from Jeroboam the towns 
and districts of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephrain. Yet it is evident that Bethel 
remained with the kings of Israel. Some have wished to divide the large num- 
bers by 10 ; but this is to overlook the whole spirit of the book. In fact the 
Chronicler has converted the son of Rehoboam into a pious man, instead of the 
impure pagan which he appears in the other record. 

3 B.C. 935. 


court. He died the year after Abijam 1 , and left his throne 
to his son NADAB. 

Geographical knowledge fails us as to the accurate site of 
the Philistine town of Gibbethon, to reduce which was the 
sole object of NadaVs reign. The book of Joshua assigns 
this town to the tribe of Dan, and it is generally supposed to 
be south of Ashdod or Azotus. If so,, this will confirm our 
belief that the northern towns of Philistia had fallen into the 
hands of Jeroboam, and that the Israelite dominion was be- 
ginning to hem in Judsea from the west, and almost entirely 
cut it off from the sea. Neither on this occasion, nor twenty- 
five years later, when the attempt was renewed, does the pru- 
dent and energetic king of Judah attempt to succour the town 
of Gibbethon ; which certainly appears to show that he did 
not regard it as belonging to his crown. The siege under 
Nadab was cut short by a lamentable deed, which began end- 
less confusion to the throne of Israel, the assassination of 
Nadab himself by BAASHA son of Ahijah 2 , of the house of 
Issachar,. who proceeded to usurp the royal dignity 3 . We are 
not informed whether Baasha was actuated by revenge, or by 
simple ambition : if by the latter, it cannot be alleged that 
Nadab or his father had earned such a retaliation. Jeroboam 
did not rise against the life of Solomon or of his son : he had 
been the free choice of a willing and attached people, who 
summoned him out of Egypt to espouse their cause ; and in 
his conduct he left no precedent which should lessen our in- 
dignation and hatred at this violent deed. The murderer 
knew that half-measures would only rob him of his hire, and 
cruelly extirpated every living soul of the house of Jeroboam ; 
by which he certainly earned for himself an undisturbed reign, 
but set an example which was repeated against his son's life 
and throne. The ferocious manners still prevalent, notwith- 
standing all that the reign of Solomon might be imagined 
likely to effect, are indicated in the prophetical formula of 
denunciation, which must have been copied too faithfully from 
real life 4 : " Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the 
dogs eat, and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the 

1 B.C. 934. 

2 Of course not the prophet Ahiiah the Shilonite. 

3 B.C. 932. 

4 1 Kings, xiv. 11. The formula is repeated for Baasha, 1 Things, xvi. 4 ; for 

1 Kings, xxi. 24. 


air eat." Such, we must conclude, was the brutal treatment 
of the innocent members of the royal house. 

As the succession in the kingdom of Israel is often broken, 
it will be well for the reader to examine the chronological 
conspectus (at p. 135 above) of the dynasties from Jeroboam 
to the accession of Jehu. 

It appears on a glance at the table, that there are three 
dynasties in Israel in this period, while the realm of Judah 
enjoyed the great advantage of an undisputed throne. In- 
deed, besides the commotion attending the murder of Nadab, 
a civil war lasting four years followed the destruction of the 
next dynasty, and must of itself have so weakened this king- 
dom as to free the house of David from fear of its power. 
Both these convulsions took place during the long reign of 
ASA, a monarch whose wise administration first infused real 
energy into the kingdom of Jerusalem, after the disasters 
with which for many years it had had to struggle. 

Asa, having entered upon royal cares at an early age 1 , in 
the very opening of his reign showed a totally different spirit 
from either of his three predecessors. With the discrimina- 
tion of the best kings of this race, he allowed the worship of 
Jehovah at the high places 2 , and on no account confined all 
public sacrifice and burning of incense to the temple at Je- 
rusalem ; but he put down with a high hand the impurities 
which Solomon, Eehoboam and Abijam had established or 
permitted, and removed all the idols 3 which they had set up. 
We now learn by a casual expression, what might have been 
conjectured from the position of Bathsheba towards Solomon, 
that in the little kingdom of Judaea, as afterwards in the 
mighty court of Persia, the king's mother enjoyed a peculiar 
title and rank, which we ill translate by queen, with 
higher privileges than his wife. In ancient Persia it is known 
that the king might sometimes adopt a mother for political 
reasons 4 ; and if ever the mother of the king's father con- 

1 B.C. 935. 

2 1 Kings, xv. 14, is most express on this point, and the words are repeated in 
2 Chr. xv. 17. The statement seems to be contradicted in 2 Chr. xiv. 3, which 
is either an exaggeration, or to be explained to mean " the high places of strange 
gods" In 2 Chr. xv. 17, Israel is carelessly used for Judah. 

3 The horses consecrated to the Sun (if already in existence) were perhaps 
not worshipped, and therefore not regarded by him as idols, though a later age 
stigmatized them as such. 

4 In the abridgement of Ctesias we read that Cyrus, upon conquering Asty- 


tinned to receive the title and honours of the Chief Lady, it 
is probable that she was named " the King's Mother." This 
perhaps may account for our finding Maachah, mother of the 
deceased king, now spoken of as queen and mother of Asa. 
In the two preceding reigns, she had gone along with the 
degrading superstitions of the court, and had herself set up 
an idolatrous image of Astarte. Young Asa accordingly took 
the bold and painful resolution of deposing his grandmother 
from her queenly rank ; destroyed her idol and burnt it by 
the brook Kedron : hereby proclaiming most distinctly that 
neither relationship to himself nor any station should be 
allowed to shelter these detestable immoralities. The act was 
not less faithful than politic. He at once rallied round him- 
self the enthusiasm of the sound-hearted worshippers of Je- 
hovah, in whom the peculiar national patriotism was concen- 
trated ; and with no small reason was he regarded as the first 
worthy descendant of David. And he had need of all their 
support ; for Baasha, the new king of Israel, however unprin- 
cipled, was not wanting in energy or in policy. 

Baasha' s first measure appears to have been to establish 
himself in Tirzah as the centre of his government. Jeroboam 
had been popular in Shechem, and it is probable that the 
usurper did not dare to trust himself to its inhabitants. Thus 
Tirzah, which had been a palace under the old dynasty per- 
haps already a fortified one under the new gathered around 
it an imperial city. Next to organizing the government in 
his new capital, his most weighty care was to secure the 
alliance of the newly risen and formidable power of BEN- 
HADAD, king of DAMASCUS. As, from this time forth, this 
king and his successors exceedingly influence the fortunes of 
Israel, it seems proper to add a few words concerning the 
site of Damascus and its facilities for empire. 

Damascus lies on a highly fertile and moderately elevated 
plain, celebrated for its gardens and orchards, immediately to 
the east of the lofty ridge called Anti-Libanus, the southern 
point of which is Mount Hermon. From these heights run 
down many streams, the greatest of which were named Phar- 
phar and Abana. Pharphar appears to be the river now 
called the Barrada, which runs through Damascus itself. 
Numerous canals distribute the water of the streams over the 

ages, adopted Amytis (or Mandane) as his mother, in order to win the easier 
aion of some parts of the empire not yet subdued. 


whole country, and maintain the luxuriance of vegetation in 
the hottest season. Even so, much water runs to waste into 
an internal lake which spreads out towards the eastern desart. 
Syria itself enjoyed a high measure of civilization and phy- 
sical culture from the earliest ages, and at that sera was already 
an old country, teeming with cities and population. Its cli- 
mate is moderated by the height of the plains, and by the 
breezes from the mountains ; and taken as a whole, its advan- 
tages were such, that whoever became master of it, reckoned 
amongst the foremost powers of the early world. From the 
city of Damascus access is afforded to Emesa on the north 
and to Bashan on the south, without ascending any formidable 
elevation : so that while the fertile soil is able to support both 
men and horses in great numbers, a force of cavalry or even 
of chariots finds there great facility of action over a broad 
expanse of country. From Emesa, returning southward, we 
ascend gradually into the loftier plain of the Hollow Syria, 
between Libanus and Anti-Libanus, of which Baalbek was 
the chief city; thus although these ridges cannot be crossed 
by armies of horses, the entire plain of Syria, by a circuitous 
route, is accessible to them from Damascus. In the times of 
which we treat, chariots appear to have been the principal or 
the most dreaded force of the Damascenes; and in fact we may 
trace a greatly increased use of them among the Hebrews. 
This circumstance is important, as it explains how much more 
formidable an enemy Benhadad was beyond Jordan than in 
western Israel ; for his chariots could come into Ephraim only 
by crossing the Jordan, or by a long journey through danger- 
ous country ; and while there, were always liable to get en- 
tangled in unfavourable ground. 

Mention has already been made of that Kezon, who in the 
later part of Solomon's reign established himself in Damascus. 
Of his after-fortunes and those of his successors we know 
only thus much, that he was followed on the throne by 
Hezion 1 , he by his son Tabrimon, and grandson Benhadad, 
with whom Baasha now made a league ; and that before the 
arms of these princes the kingdom of Hamath and all Hollow 
Syria gave way, and became absorbed in the power of Da- 
mascus, whose king is now called king of Syria. It is pro- 

1 Many regard Hezion and Rezon as the same name corruptly written. This 
is possible, but cannot be proved. The chronology does not refute the opinion, 
but is not very favourable to it. 


bable that a good part of Bashan was already Benhadad's, 
and that he pressed close upon the land of Israel. With 
such a potentate either alliance or war appeared inevitable, 
and it was a piece of good fortune that Baasha was able to 
obtain the former. 

When the king of Israel had thus, as he hoped, secured 
himself from the attack of an encroaching neighbour, he com- 
menced more active operations against the house of Judah 
than either of his predecessors. It is possible that Israel now 
recovered whatever small losses had been incurred by the at- 
tacks of Abijam, and by confirming its predominance over the 
northern cities of Philistia, justified the general feeling that 
(what was called) the tribe of Dan formed part of the Israel- 
itish territory. But no other details of this war have been 
deemed worthy of preservation, than one of such critical im- 
portance, that all the rest vanished in comparison with it. 
Baasha indeed must already have had encouraging success, or 
must have possessed unusual military enterprise, to adopt so 
bold a policy 1 . The town of Raman lay about six miles to 
the north of Jerusalem, on the way to Bethel, and in the 
heart of the tribe of Benjamin. It is situated on a hill, and 
looks down upon Gibeah of Saul on its east. This spot 
Baasha occupied and began to fortify 2 ; by means of which he 
would have been able to intercept communications from all 
the richest part of Benjamin to Jerusalem, and at every mo- 
ment threaten the capital of his enemy with surprize. Asa 
could not fail to be at once sensible of the danger constantly 
impending from such a fortress 3 , and resolved at any price to 

1 Asa, according to the credulous Chronicler, had an army of 300,000 heavy 
armed troops, and 280,000 light-armed (2 Chr. xiv. 8), " all mighty men of 

2 The Chronicler (2 Chr. xv. 19, xvi. 1) commits the extraordinary error of 
stating that Asa had no more war down to the 35th year of his reign, but that 
in the 36th year Baasha fortified Ramah against him. But Baasha was already 
dead in Asa's 26th year. Some therefore wish to alter the text; but an arbi- 
trary and double change is then needed. It is clear from the book of Kings, 
that Baasha was in continual war against Asa, until all was wound up by the 
affair of Eamah ; but the Chronicler, who disapproves of Asa's alliance with 
Benhadad, tries to thrust it off to the end of his life, in order to give him a long 
period of purity and glory ; and into this early part he then interpolates a ficti- 
tious invasion by Zerah the Ethiopian with a million men. 

3 Such a castle was what the Greeks called an ^7riTei'xt<r/za, or offensive for- 
tress, like that of Deceleia in Attica, or Pylos in Messenia during the Pelopon- 
nesian war. Arnold often comments on this mode of warfare in his Thucydides 
and elsewhere. See also Thirlwall's Greece, passim. 



free himself from it. Perhaps he had already had experience 
of his adversary's superior military talents or greater force 
(although our partial historians are here silent) ; for he did 
not venture on a direct attack until he had betaken himself 
to a measure which must have been adopted very unwillingly. 
He sent an embassy to Benhadad king of Syria, entreating 
him to break his league with Baasha and attack the kingdom 
of Israel : and as an inducement to so discreditable a deed, 
presented him with all the silver and gold, whether in the 
form of treasure or of vessels, which he could command ; 
sparing neither the precious articles of his own palace, nor 
the offerings dedicated by himself and by his father to the 
house of Jehovah. Undoubtedly Asa, like all ancient kings 
and states so situated, argued with himself, that if he spared 
the treasure, his victorious enemy would not ; while if he sur- 
vived the war, he would be able to replace it with interest 1 . 
His message to Benhadad softens the violence of his proposal, 
by asserting or implying that there had been a league be- 
tween their two fathers ; a fact of which nothing appears. It 
is however credible, that Abijam had sought the alliance of 
Tabrimon, though no result, beyond compliment, came of it. 
The ambassadors of Asa would probably magnify to Benhadad 
the wickedness, ambition and power of Baasha, so as to fur- 
nish the Syrian prince with some pretext of conscience for 
now adopting the course which interest and ambition sug- 
gested. Nor were they unsuccessful. Benhadad accepted 
the bribe from one king, and sent his generals to despoil the 
other. Ijon, Dan, and Abel-beth-maachah are named among 
the Israelitish cities which they captured or plundered, besides 
"all Cinneroth (or the country of the sea of Galilee), and all 
the land of Naphthali." Assailed by so powerful an enemy 
on the north, Baasha was forced to draw off his attention 
from the south. Asa then, profiting by the important mo- 
ment, made a general proclamation through his dominions, 
to assemble the able-bodied population in mass ; who made a 

1 We not only have no ground to suppose that his contemporaries or succes- 
sors disapproved of Asa's conduct, but it is not censured in the book of Kings. 
Only the Levitical Chronicler thinks it necessary to make a prophet rebuke him, 
and Asa then so angry as to imprison him. The prophet is made to declare, 
from henceforth thou shalt have wars, which appears the reverse of truth ; for 
hitherto he had had war, but henceforth he enjoys quiet, and suffers nothing 
but the gout in his old age ; finally the Chronicler reproves him because he 
consulted physicians and not Jehovah : that is, " and not the priests." 


universal rush against the fortress of Raman. Its fortifica- 
tions seem to have been not quite complete, or its garrison 
retired through fear; and the men of Judah without delay 
demolished every part, and carried off the very materials of 
stone and timber. With these, Asa now fortified the little 
towns of Mizpah and Geba on his frontier. The site of the 
latter is uncertain, but we know that it is a theoretic northern 
extremity of the kingdom of Judah, as Beersheba is the 
southern point : there is however reason to think it north of 
Bethel, and in the actual dominions of Baasha. 

No further account is given of the reign of Asa. We are 
only told vaguely ' ' of his acts, and his might, and the cities 
which he fortified." But as he survived Baasha fifteen years, 
and no more war with Israel is mentioned 1 , we may assume 
that it was a time of peace. Indeed the internal convulsions 
which the northern kingdom speedily underwent, changed 
the whole policy of the house of Judah. It became manifest, 
that no longer Israel, but Syria, was the enemy to be dreaded, 
and that it was requisite for Judah to strengthen Israel, lest 
Syria should swallow up both. That the latter part of's 
reign was one of repose and security, may be probably in- 
ferred from the great increase of strength which we discern 
in Judaea in the early years of his son's reign. His destruc- 
tion of heathenish and impure rites may for the time have 
caused disaffection in one party as well as have excited enthu- 
siasm in the other; but after the generation had passed by 
which remembered and regretted these evil orgies, a more 
entire unanimity probably existed, and the throne of David 
had a stronger support in the heart of a united and flourish- 
ing people, than it had known since the early days of Solo- 
mon. The house and family of Asa was in favourable con- 
trast to that of his predecessors. The numerous wives of 
Abijam, as well as of Kehoboam and Solomon, are markedly 
commented on; as therefore nothing of the kind is dropt 
concerning Asa, who in fact (as far as we know) had but one 
son, we could almost believe that he respected the sanctity of 
woman, and contented himself with his wife Azubah. At any 

1 The Chronicler alludes to " cities of Ephraim which Asa had taken," 2 Chr. 
xvii. 2 ; but that is likely to have been, if correct, in the time of Baasha. The 
book of Kings also says that " Jehoshaphat made peace with Israel" (1 "Kings 
xxii. 44) ; but this, in the connexion of that fragmentary summary, seems to 
mean made alliance ; and does not imply that Asa had active war with Omri 
and Ahab, 


rate, a decided check seems to have been given to the extra- 
vagant abuse of polygamy. Asa died 1 after a reign of forty- 
one years, leaving his kingdom to his son JEHOSHAPHAT, then 
thirty-five years old. 

We return to the kingdom of Israel. The energetic and 
warlike Baasha could not make the prophets forget the crime 
by which he had attained his kingdom ; but the dread of his 
power and vehemence perhaps suppressed, during his life, any 
direct remonstrance. After he had been forced to abandon 
Raman by the attack of Benhadad, no details of his war are 
given us ; but it is clear that he was enabled to patch up a 
peace, though perhaps at the cost of the towns already cap- 
tured : for we presently find his son so far freed from fear 
of Syria, as to resume offensive operations in Philistia. Of 
Baasha no more is recorded, than that he died in the twenty- 
fourth year of his reign, and was succeeded by his son 

ELAH 2 . 

This Elah, to judge by the slight but emphatic notice of 
him, was addicted to voluptuous excesses. Instead of heading 
his armies in person, as his father and all the kings of this 
age, he sent Omri, captain of his host, to conduct the siege of 
Gibbethon, from which the Israelites had retired some twenty- 
five years before, in consequence of the murder of their king. 
Elah himself remained at Tirzah, indulging his luxurious in- 
clinations. His despicable character seems to have stimu- 
lated the prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani 3 , to a vehement 
and public denunciation of Baasha and his guilty house, which 
he declared by the word of Jehovah should be utterly cut off 
and destroyed. Nor was it long before his words were ve- 
rified. ZIMRI, captain of half the chariots, whether aware 
of the prophecy or not, while Elah was at a drunken ban- 
quet in the house of his high steward at Tirzah, slew him and 
assumed the royal station. Without a moment's delay, he 
took advantage of his position at the royal palace to seize and 

1 B.C. 894. 2 B.C. 909. 

8 1 Kings, xvi. 1-5, 7, 12. The position of v. 7 implies a denunciation ut- 
tered after Baasha' s death : the incoherence however of the narrative makes 
the time doubtful. Altogether, since the compiler wrote in much later tune, 
with full knowledge of the results, these prophecies become very doubtful, 
even when recorded in the book of Kings. Jehu, full forty years later than 
this, compiled the life of Jehoshaphat. He may seem to have been too young 
to act in the lifetime of Baasha and Elah. 


murder every living relative of his late lord, and left the house 
of Baasha utterly desolate 1 . 

But the army at Gibbethon, on hearing the tidings, was 
indignant that the kingdom should be thus seized behind 
their back by a traitorous and inferior officer ; and forthwith, 
in the midst of the camp, they by acclamation raised to the 
throne their own general OMRI ; on whom the acceptable duty 
immediately devolved of revenging his slaughtered master. 
Once more was Gibbethon saved from Israelitish attack by the 
murder of a king ; for Omri, without delay, broke up his camp 
and marched straight back to Tirzah, where he besieged Zimri 
with very superior force. Into the city of Tirzah he soon 
forced his way; whereupon Zimri retired into the palace, 
which is likely to have been a citadel to the town ; but finding 
escape impossible and his case desperate, he burned the palace 
over his head, and perished in the conflagration, only seven 
days after his ruthless murders. 

Great as are the evils which the perversion of the idea of 
Legitimacy has brought on modern Europe, they are deci- 
dedly less than result from the extirpation of royal houses 
in a country destitute of constitutional organization, These 
promiscuous massacres left to Israel nothing around which 
they might rally. A section of the nation was averse to 
Omri, or disliked the precedent of the army electing a sove- 
reign. In consequence, a strong party favoured the preten- 
sions of TIBNI, son of Ginath, to the crown. Of this person 
nothing is known, save that for four years he continued the 
contest with Omri. In some civil wars a principle is in- 
volved, and a result of permanent importance is at last pur- 
chased, if dearly. But unhappy Israel suffered to no purpose, 
except to the aggrandizement of Damascus, until at length 
Tibni was overpowered and slain, and Omri left sole claimant 
of the throne 2 . 

1 B.C. 908. 3 B. c. 904. 



THE HOUSE OF OMBJ, B.C. 904-864. 

OMRI, though founder of a new dynasty, ascended the throne, 
like Jeroboam, without crime. If Zimri had been less bloody, 
and had left alive any of the sons or grandsons of Baasha, the 
character of Omri might have come down to us less unstained; 
but by his war against Zimri he gained only credit, and for 
his civil conflict with Tibni, however disastrous to the nation, 
it was difficult to blame him. The centre of his power was 
at first at Tirzah 1 , but when his competitor had been re- 
moved, he determined to found a new capital. Tirzah had 
originally been selected only as a pleasant abode. The ease 
with which Omri had himself stormed the city may have dis- 
inclined him to trust it for the future ; and as the palace had 
been burnt, there was perhaps less to lose by removal. He 
accordingly selected a hill suitable for a new city, and pur- 
chased it of its owner, a man named Shemer; from whom 
the place was called Shimron, or in its Greek modification, 
Samaria. The judicious choice of Omri is attested by the 
lasting importance of this celebrated city, which is regarded 
as having great advantage, even over Jerusalem, in strength, 
as well as in fertility and beauty. From the accounts of mo- 
dern travellers, the following careful picture of the site has 
been compiled, by one who has laboured meritoriously on the 
geography of Palestine 2 : " The hill of Samaria is an oblong 
mountain of considerable elevation and very regular in form, 
situated in the midst of a broad deep valley, the continuation 
of that of Shechem, which here expands into five or six miles. 
Beyond this valley, which completely isolates the hill, the 
mountains rise again on every side, forming a complete wall 
around the city. They are terraced to the tops, sown in grain, 
and planted with olives and figs The hill of Samaria 

1 We have not a hint where the chief strength of Tibni lay. It may have 
been in the tribes beyond Jordan. 

2 From the pen of Dr. Kitto, art. Samaria, in his Biblical Cyclopaedia. 


itself is cultivated from its base, the terraced sides and sum- 
mits being covered with corn and with olive-trees. About 
midway up the ascent, the hill is surrounded by a narrow ter- 
race of level land, like a belt ; below which, the roots of the 
hill spread off more gradually into^the valleys. Higher up 
too are the marks of slight terraces, once occupied perhaps by 
the streets of the ancient city. The ascent of the hill is very 
steep." We may add that it is a little to the north of She- 
chem and of Mount Ebal. Samaria was the principal or sole 
work of Omri's reign ; a durable and splendid monument which 
he bequeathed to a distant posterity. 

He may have been moved to this great undertaking by mi- 
litary motives not indicated to us. The king of Syria appears 
not to have been slow to discover the weakness which civil 
contention entailed on Israel, and pressed severely upon the new 
ruler. Considering that the Benhadad who attacked Baasha 
took from him the towns of Dan, Ijon and Abel-beth-maachah, 
we may probably infer that the military object of the Syrians 
in this stage of their progress had been to possess themselves 
of all the towns which commanded the passes from Hollow 
Syria and the proper land of Damascus into the Israelitish 
territory. Omri had not the advantage of such a frontier on 
the north as Judsea had on the south : and it would appear 
that he was forced to submit to high claims on the part of 
Benhadad. We learn incidentally that the latter took va- 
rious cities from Omri, and forced him to assign streets in Sa- 
maria for his use 1 . In fact, the king of Israel was now open 
to invasion at any time convenient to his powerful rival, and 
appeared likely before long to become a mere vassal of Da- 
mascus. Omri accordingly, to save himself and his people, 
sought alliance with the Phoenicians. 

Immediately on becoming sole king of Israel, he obtained 

1 (1 Kings xx. 34 :) Either for trade or for the residence of the Syrian repre- 
sentative, who would more or less control Ahab's conduct. So the English 
make native princes in India accept a British resident, and have demanded 
" English streets" in Canton. 

The king of Syria who attacked Omri is father of the Benhadad who assaults 
Ahab, and is generally regarded as identical with the Benhadad who took the 
frontier towns from Baasha. The chronology however rather countenances the 
idea that the first Benhadad is grandfather to the second, and that the antagonist 
of Omri is an intermediate prince, possibly not named Benhadad, but Tabrimon, 
Rezon, or some other name of that dynasty. It does not appear to have been 

sual for a king to bear the name of his immediate father. 


the hand of JEZEBEL^ daughter of Ethbaal king of Sidon and 
of Tyre, for his young son Ahab. Let not those who know 
the after-career of this notorious woman, be too quick to cen- 
sure Omri for what he could not foresee. Indeed the position 
of the princes of this northern kingdom, in contact with an 
ambitious, advancing and overpowering neighbour, was pecu- 
liarly difficult. There were two things which wisdom would 
exhort them to maintain ; the pure faith of the nation, and 
its independent existence. The latter appeared a condition 
indispensable to the former ; and if intrinsically of less value, 
yet was certainly that which was felt more peculiarly to be 
under the care of the kings. One object however was perpe- 
tually interfering with the other. When in danger of losing 
their national monotheism with their nationality itself, to 
remain isolated was to court destruction ; yet to form allian- 
ces with heathen powers, was to risk alloying their religious 
superiority ; a superiority which we believe to have been real, 
however much it may have been exaggerated by unwise par- 
tizanship. It is much easier for a prophet or a divine to say, 
that by disowning human alliances and trusting in Jehovah, 
the nation would have been saved ; than for a king or states- 
man, on whom the responsibility rests, to act on such a 
theory : and to inveigh against Omri and Ahab, is too much 
in writers 2 who cannot spare a word of censure for Solomon' s 
gratuitous heathen marriages and heathen abominations. Of 
Omri there is no more known than that he died B.C. 897, and 
was succeeded by his son. 

AHAB appears to have been rather a weak than a wicked 
man. His evil name has been chiefly earned for him by his 
wife Jezebel ; and he can scarcely be regarded as responsible 
for the marriage which his father contracted for him. It was 
impossible to cement his alliance with Tyre and Sidon without 
tolerating the superstitions in which the daughter of Ethbaal 
had been reared ; and the immediate result of tolerating them, 
was to arouse against himself the whole influence of the pro- 
phets of Israel. Solomon's son and grandson had indeed 
done as much as Ahab, and still more, without encountering 

1 Ahaziah, king of Judah, grandson of Ahab and Jezebel, was twenty- two 
years old in the year 865. He was therefore born in 887. Allowing his mother 
Athaliah to have been only sixteen at his birth, Jezebel's marriage cannot well 
have been later than B.C. 904, which is the year of Omri becoming sole king. 

2 The compilers of the Chronicles. 


the same opposition; but under Solomon the prophetical 
schools had not at all attained the same growth, nor the same 
exclusive power over the people, as now in Israel : after Solo- 
mon,, in Judaea, it is probable that they had been greatly dis- 
couraged by the results of Ahijah's interference, which can 
have been in no respect advantageous, in the estimate of either 
prophet or priest. As we now read the tale in the books of 
Kings and Chronicles, the monotonous condemnation passed 
on Jeroboam and all his successors is apt to blind us to the fact, 
that in spite of the predictions ascribed to Ahijah and Jehu son 
of Hanani, no real and vehement opposition on the part of the 
prophets against the throne began in Israel before the reign 
of Ahab. And with good reason. For previous kings of this 
branch had avowed support to no religious rites but those of 
Jehovah. They had sanctioned worshipping him by emblems, 
but so did orthodox 1 prophets and priests of those days : they 
neglected the Levites of Jerusalem ; but at that time the Le- 
vites seem not yet to have been a race or caste of men, but only 
a very humble profession. These kings had not denied the cha- 
racter of Jehovah by ascribing to him, and annexing to his wor- 
ship, immorality and cruelty ; nor had they given honour even 
to the name of a strange god. A totally new thrill of horror 
passed through the bosoms of true Israelites when Jezebel 
brought in the obscene rites of Baal and Astarte 2 , with the 
tumultuous fanaticism of her priests ; and the universal oppo- 
sition which thereupon arose from the prophets of Jehovah 
presently made her their inveterate and dangerous enemy. 

If we give the least credit to the hostile historian, we can- 
not refuse to admit that Jezebel, in the course of her feud 
with the prophets of Jehovah, became a fierce and cruel 
woman; yet, rightly to appreciate her character, we must 
remember that they, on their part, did undoubtedly consider 
it a meritorious act, to kill the priests of Baal : and a remark- 
able legend extols the piety of the great Elijah, who on an 
eminent occasion instigated the people to seize and massacre 

1 1 have already referred to the Teraphim and Cherubim in proof. 

2 It is believed that Baal and Astarte were originally personifications of the 
sun and moon. Baal (lord) is also probably identified with Molech (king). The 
Hebrew writers use the latter term chiefly of the god of the Ammonites, the 
former of the Phrenician god ; but other authorities call the Tynan and Cartha- 
ginian god Melcarth, whose name and bloody worship are identified with those 
of Molech. 


450 prophets of Baal and 400 of Astarte, who ate at JezebeFs 
table. We may hesitate to believe the story to the full, since 
a credulous admiration of Elijah would lead to great exagge- 
ration of his exploit : yet it would be unreasonable to doubt 
that these prophets deliberately approved of slaying the priestly 
votaries of superstition, or that Jezebel had a clear insight 1 
into this side of their principles. With her therefore it was 
a struggle of life and death. To judge of her by other Pagans, 
she would have tolerated Jehovism, if it would have tole- 
rated her ; but as she quite understood that they would kill 
her priests, and probably herself too, whenever they had the 
power, she pursued them with implacable enmity. Being a 
person of stronger will and passions than her husband, she 
was able to work him into compliance with her claims. Hav- 
ing built a temple to Baal in Samaria, with a high altar, and 
public images of Baal and Astarte 2 , he in his own person per- 
formed worship to his wife's deities. Nor was this all ; but 
yielding into her own hands the power of the sword, he allowed 
her to chase them down and put them to death. 

Now commenced the Martyr Age of the prophets in Israel. 
As they had multiplied all over the land, there were many to 
be persecuted, and their extermination was not the work of a 
day. And besides the natural instinct of mercy, they were 
greatly reverenced by numbers of the people. One man alone, 
by name Obadiah, in the high station of governor of the house 
to Ahab, (Mayor of the Palace might have been his title in 
Europe), is stated to have hidden 100 prophets of Jehovah 
from the rage of Jezebel, and to have maintained them secretly. 
This cannot have been an exceptive case ; and though many 
were slain, it is probable that a majority were concealed and 
protected. The crisis called forth two great prophets in suc- 
cession, Elijah and Elisha; whose adventures and exploits 
have come down to us in such a halo of romance, not unmin- 
gled with poetry of a high genius, that it is impossible to dis- 
entangle the truth. The account of these occupies twice as 
much space as the history of the kings of Judah and Israel 
together, from the death of Solomon to the accession of Ahab ; 

1 A critic who pretends to believe that the Pentateuch is Mosaic, replies, that 
Jezebel could not have learned that Jehovism was intolerant, until after Elijah's 
massacre of the priests ! 

2 In 1 Kings, xvi. 33, as in many other places, the received English version 
following the LXX. darkens the sense by rendering Astarte by the word grove. 
See 2 Kings, -gxiii. 6, 7, for a strange instance of the absurdity of this. 


but as their deeds are nearly all prodigies,, attested to us only 
by a writing compiled three centuries after these events, and 
having no bearing that can be traced on the real course of 
the history, we are forced to pass them over very slightly. 
The ascription however of miraculous powers to these pro- 
phets is a notable circumstance, as being altogether new in 
Jewish history. To find anything analogous, we must run back 
to the legendary days of Moses. One general inference may 
be drawn, that the danger and importance of the struggle 
worked up the minds of Jehovah's worshippers into a high 
enthusiasm and intense belief of his present energy to aid his 
prophets. The after- tale also shows, that, here as elsewhere, 
persecution made its victims bigoted, undiscriminating and 
ruthless in their turn. 

A great drought endured by the laud at this period for 
three years together distressed Ahab, and made it difficult to 
find fodder for the beasts. Elijah was believed to have pre- 
dicted its occurrence, and likewise to have announced its ter- 
mination, having on each occasion met Ahab face to face. 
The prophet himself was miraculously fed ; first by ravens, 
who bring him bread and flesh morning and evening ; after- 
wards, when the brook at which he drank is dried, an inex- 
haustible barrel of meal and cruise of oil 1 are shared with him 
by a widow of Zarephath, a Sidonian town. In gratitude for 
her hospitality, he raises her child from the dead by prayer 
to Jehovah. When after this he presents himself to Ahab, 
the king (though counting him an enemy) displays no personal 
rancour against him, and at his request even gathers the pro- 
phets of Baal and Astarte for a trial of miraculous power 
against Elijah. The issue is so triumphant to him, that as we 
have stated, he is enabled to massacre the 950 misbelievers ; 
but hereby he awakens such fierce zeal against him in Jezebel 
that he is forced to escape for his life into the kingdom of 
Judah, whence he first proceeds to Beersheba, and, then sup- 
ported by a miraculous cake to which an angel points him, 
travels forty days and forty nights till he reaches the awful 
solitude of Mount Sinai. From hence he is sent back with a 
reproof, and with a secret commission to choose Elisha as his 
successor. No more is heard of him during the reign of 

1 This miracle is reproduced with variation in the story of Elisha, who also 
raises from the dead the son of the Shunamite woman who had fed him : 
2 Kings, iv. 


Ahab. But AhaVs successor, enraged at a hostile message 
from him, sends soldiers to arrest him. Two companies of 
fifty men with their officers are consumed by fire from heaven 
at Elijah's calling : a third company is saved only by^ pious 
submission. After this, Elijah is carried up to heaven by a 
whirlwind in a chariot of fire with horses of fire, while Elisha 
stands wondering and sorrowing. Yet, later still, according 
to the Chronicler 1 , Elijah writes a threatening letter to Je- 
horam, second son of Ahab. 

Our narrative passes abruptly from the religious to the 
temporal affairs of Israel, but without any distinct note of 
time, and with the same unhistorical and excited spirit. The 
great topic is the Syrian war. In attempting to narrate this, 
we have a very difficult task; because, while our existing 
materials cannot be thought mere romance or epical inven- 
tion, they are yet too much disfigured by obvious exaggeration 
to allow of our accepting the details. It remains for us to 
follow the invidious and rather arbitrary plan, of selecting 
those prominent facts which combine well with the entire 
course of the history, and interpreting what is left doubtful 
by the geographical and military necessities of the case. The 
Syrian hero is BEN HAD AD, apparently grandson of the Ben- 
hadad who assaulted Baasha. In the reign of Ahab we pre- 
sume he must have been young, since he carries on an in- 
veterate war against the son of Ahab also. The great idea 
with which he seems to have been long possessed, was, to 
advance directly against the city of Samaria, as a certain 
means of reducing all Israel : perhaps also regarding it as 
having been specially designed by its founder to defy the 
Syrian power. Nor did the plan of warfare appear unwise, 
since he evidently had the frontier fortresses in his hand, which 
enabled him to march in at pleasure with very superior forces. 

The campaigns of this Benhadad against Israel alone are 
all contained in a narrative evidently of the same tone and 
genius, which we can scarcely be wrong in describing as a 
part of some prophetical story of the Acts of Elisha, trans- 
mitted for a while orally in the schools of the prophets. But 
there is one campaign in which the king of Judah is joined, 

1 2 Chron. xxi. 12. This was after the revolt of the Edomites, v. 8 ; which 
is placed after the ascent of Elijah and the coming of his spirit on Elisha : 
2 Kings, iii. 10, viii. 22. For this inconsistency however, the book of Kings is 
not chargeable ; nor indeed is the Chronicler inconsistent with himself; for he 
does not allude to the ascension of Elijah. 


and this has all the marks of more sober chronicling, although 
not without slighter improbabilities 1 : the latter document may 
be safely referred to the court records of Jerusalem. The 
difference of spirit is very striking. While Israel and the 
prophets have the war to themselves, all is marvellous : 
extreme danger, divine interposition, and stupendous victory, 
from which no ultimate results are derived : but when the 
king of Judah aids, we read of historical battle and victory 
resting with Syria. Having warned the reader of the nature 
of our materials, we resume the narrative. 

The force in which the Syrians at present most trusted, was 
that of war-chariots ; and in plain open country these were 
highly efficient, ridiculous as they are apt to seem to us, who 
are accustomed to enclosed fields and paved high roads. Even 
over the rough ground of ancient Britain, the native chariots 
offered a highly respectable opposition to the veteran infantry 
of the first Roman invader ; and it is evident in ancient his- 
tory 2 , that chariots of war were exceedingly feared until dis- 
cipline and tactics among foot-soldiery reached their highest 
point. The Syrian chariot did not, like that of the Homeric 
Greek, carry a single hero armed with sword and spear, but, 
like that of the Egyptians, one or more archers, perhaps armed 
likewise with swords. But besides the efficacy of the chariot 
in actual battle, it may be conjectured to have served for the 
more rapid transport of infantry on march. Uniting solidity 
with lightness, lowness and breadth, it could traverse any 
country which was not enclosed, (and in Palestine the hedge 
and ditch were undoubtedly unknown 3 ,) and might possibly 
carry several infantry soldiers with their scanty equipage, as 
well as the warriors who were to fight from it in the battle. 
We may probably conclude, that wherever 100 chariots went, 
not less than 400 or 500 infantry were carried likewise ; who 
thus might traverse in one day a two-days' march, and at the 
end be nearly fresh for immediate service. By help of the chariot 

1 1 Kings, xxii. The more legendary accounts are in 1 Kings, xx., and 
2 Kings, vi. vii. 

2 According to Herodotus, the Garamantes of Africa used to hunt down with 
four-horse chariots the Troglodyte Ethiopians, the most swift-footed of men ; 
apparently to make slaves of them. Because of the iron chariots of the Philis- 
tine district (Judges, i. 19), the men of Judah could not succeed on the plain, 
though they conquered the hill-country. 

3 The sacredness of the landmark implies this ; besides, the ground was too 
precious, and estates too small . 


200 horses might thus transport 600 men, while in cavalry 
service each horse carries but one man. If there be any 
weight in these considerations, it follows that against a large 
force of chariots it was difficult to move infantry with such ra- 
pidity as to concentrate them against the attack of an invader. 

Two separate campaigns of Benhadad against Ahab in 
Samaria are reported to us. In the former, the Syrians drove 
in with overflowing might, as it were sweeping the country 
before them, while no one dared to oner resistance. But they 
paused at no inferior town, and made straight on for Samaria. 
Ahab, finding himself shut up by very superior forces, and the 
resources of his kingdom cut off, was terrified into the offer 
of absolute surrender and vassalage; but (according to our 
only authority) Benhadad sent so outrageous a message as 
to the full use which he intended to make of this surrender, 
that Ahab was steeled into despair. The elders of Israel to 
whom he appealed, exhorted him to firmness and vigour, and 
the prophets came forward to animate Israel and the king to 
brave and faithful resistance. Ahab indeed personally did 
not deserve favour from the prophets; but they could not 
look on tamely, and see Jehovah's Israel become the spoil of 
the stranger. While Benhadad was full of triumph and in- 
solence, banqueting in his splendid pavilion with the thirty- 
two vassal kings whom he had brought with him 1 , the Israel- 
ites made a sudden attack on a part of his chariot force which 
had ventured upon rough ground, and so discomfited it, with 
danger so imminent to the whole host, that Benhadad, rising 
from his banquet, thought nothing better than to mount a 
fleet horse and escape. The whole army poured after him 
and got away with as much haste as they could, and no doubt 
with much disorder and slaughter of the hindmost. 

While this success gave great additional courage to th< 
Israelites, who might now remember the decisive victorie 
of David over the chariots and horse of Hadadezer, on th( 
other hand, the Syrians did not find reason for efecourage- 
ment. They imputed their loss entirely to an error of judg- 
ment, in having ventured their chariots on to hilly ground 2 

1 This may seem only to be a romantic version of the thirty-two capto 
named in the more historical account of 1 Kings, xxii. 31. Not but that Ben- 
hadad was likely to have vassal kings with him. 

2 In the religious phraseology of antiquity, this is expressed by saying that 
" the gods of Israel are gods of the hills, and not of the plains." 


and the captains assured the king that by avoiding this mis- 
management, they should conquer Israel in another campaign. 
Accordingly, next year they repeated their invasion, and en- 
tered the country as far as the town of Aphek, which seems 
to have been on the broad slope of Esdraelon. If this is the 
Aphek intended, the Syrians, to avoid hilly districts, must 
have come along the coast near the Phoenicians, and would 
seem to have entered the land by the remarkable defile 
through which the river Leontes flows down from the lofty 
plain of Hollow Syria. This time however the spirit of the 
Israelites was very different from what it had been in the 
former campaign. The national pride was roused by self-con- 
fidence; and while the Syrian host poured over the plain, 
the bands of Israel kept collecting on the hills, watching and 
following its motions for six days together. The Syrians were 
probably so resolved not again to venture off the good ground, 
that they could not take full advantage of their own numbers, 
and prevent their army from getting separated into portions, 
each weaker than the enemy. Be this as it may, the Israel- 
ites made a brave and successful attack, by which (either in 
the battle, or in the town of Aphek after the battle,) the person 
of king Benhadad himself fell into the hands of Ahab. 

If we could believe our authority, we should now state, 
that, besides the great slaughter of the last year's army, Ben- 
hadad this year lost 100,000 men slain in one day on the open 
field of Esdraelon, and 27,000 more, crushed to death by the 
fall of a wall in Aphek. If this were real history, disasters so 
enormous, besides the repeated loss of a most luxurious camp, 
would have shattered the entire empire of Damascus. Revolt 
in all parts would have followed, and Israel would have had 
no more danger to fear ; just as it afterwards was, when the 
loss of a single great army broke up the colossal empire of 
Assyria. On the contrary, the very next notice which we 
have of this kingdom represents it in a formidable and vic- 
torious attitude towards Israel. We are therefore forced to 
make immense deductions from the account transmitted to us. 
It is more probable, that though by bravery and good for- 
tune the Israelites had captured the person of the Syrian 
king, the greater part of his host was untouched and still 
dangerous. If Ahab had gratified the suggestions of anger 
and revenge by slaying his foe, a new king might have been 
chosen in the camp, and the war would have been renewed. 


To kill the king was as it were to set the king free, and lose 
the advantage which had been gained. Besides, the temper 
of Ahab appears to have been yielding and amiable ; as want 
of firmness has been judged his chief defect. Accordingly, 
he treated the captive monarch with mnch respect ; entitling 
him his " brother Benhadad," and inviting him to sit by his 
side in his own chariot. After this, he made a treaty, by 
which Benhadad bound himself to restore all the cities of 
Israel, which he held; (hereby disabling himself from future 
invasion by the same route ;) and to make " streets" for Ahab 
in Damascus, whether for the purposes of commerce, or to 
natter his pride. So moderate an arrangement kindled the 
indignation of a fanatical Israelitish prophet 1 , who severely 
rebuked Ahab for having " let go a man whom Jehovah had 
appointed for utter destruction." Yet the king, though vexed, 
was afraid or unwilling to show resentment against the un- 
deserved and unseemly invective. 

Benhadad thus withdrew himself and (we need not doubt) 
the best part of his army, unhurt, and faithfully restored the 
northern towns ; but his pride was deeply engaged to recover 
his lost honour ; for which he next chose a different mode of 
attack. From Damascus southward towards the Ammonites 
are wide and open plains, on which the eastern tribes of Israel 
could offer no effectual resistance to a Syrian army. The 
outlying towns, such as Astarosh Karnaim, were perhaps 
already in Benhadad's power, if indeed he had not subdued 
the Ammonites, who in these times are not heard of as au 
independent nation 2 . Some years after his ill-success west 
of Jordan, he came up against southern Gilead, and possessed 
himself of the important town of Ramoth, south of the brook 
Jabbok. From this post he could at any time cross into the 

1 The prophet bids a man to wound him ; and when the man refuses, declares 
that a lion shall kill him for disobeying the voice of Jehovah : of course a lion 
does kill him. The prophet then succeeds in getting another man to wound 
him ; after which he spreads ashes on his face, and goes thus wounded and dis- 
figured to deliver his message of woe to the king. 

If Jehoram, the young son of Ahab, was present during this denunciation, 
he must afterwards have been much puzzled when Elisha laid down to him the 
direct contrary principle, and a much more humane one " Wouldst thou smite 
those whom thou hast taken captive ? Set bread and water before them, etc., 
etc. :" 2 Kings, vi. 22. 

2 They are noticed in the Chronicles during the reign of Jehoshaphat (in a 
passage which will need remark), and again in the reign of Uzziah, after the 
power of Damascus is broken. 


plain of the Jordan, and even make a sudden attack on 
Samaria, as well as on the eastern tribes, northward or 

The western bank of the Jordan was in itself too valuable 
to leave undefended, and had by this posture of Benhadad 
become a sort of frontier to the capital. In it there were two 
considerable cities, Bethshean and Jericho; the former un- 
doubtedly fortified : but the latter had remained without 
walls from an early sera until the days of Ahab. For defence 
against the Syrians its fortification was clearly desirable ; and 
the work was (probably in this stage of the war) undertaken 
by a man of Bethel, named Hiel. That the territory was re- 
garded as Ahab's, we infer from the mode in which the fact 
is named 1 , as likewise since Bethel was in AhaVs kingdom 2 ; 
while, in the want of a northern frontier to the plain of 
Jericho, we cannot wonder if Rehoboam was forced to sur- 
render this highly fertile district to his rival, though it formed 
a part of the possessions of Benjamin. Indeed Bethel and 
Jericho are on another occasion coupled together 3 as chief 
seats of 'Israelitish prophets under the son of Ahab. We may 
gather that Hiel undertook the fortification from his own re- 
sources, under the condition that he was to be hereditary 
governor and prince of Jericho. He fulfilled his task suc- 
cessfully ; but a great domestic calamity befell him. The 
Indian climate of Jericho (it seems) was fatal to all his chil- 
dren; of whom it is said, that the eldest died when the 
foundation of the walls was laid, and the youngest when the 
gates were set up. In vain had he spent his private fortune 
in the work; in vain might Ahab grant him an hereditary 
princedom ; when, alas ! there were no heirs to enjoy it. Men 
then called to mind an ancient spell ascribed to Joshua, who, 
" when the walls of Jericho fell flat before the blast of his 
trumpets," (as some old poem declared,) pronounced in the 
name of Jehovah this very curse on the man who should re- 
build the walls : 

With his firstborn shall he lay the foundation ; 
With his youngest shall he set up the gates. 

1 Hiel is said to fortify Jericho in AJiaVs days, 1 Kings, xri. 34 j not in Je- 
hoshcvphat 's days. 

2 Gilgal also, in the time of the prophet Amos, belonged to Israel ; which 
seems to be decisive. 

3 2 Kings, ii. 3, 5. 



However, the city was the stronger for its fortifications, and 
Israel now needed the benefit; for king Benhadad beneath 
the walls of Ramoth could look down on the whole plain of 
Jordan. At the same time, Ahab was called to be always on 
the alert, to defend the eastern tribes from a twofold attack. 

But a great change of feeling and of policy had for some 
time passed over the cabinet of JERUSALEM ; where JEHO- 
SHAPHAT, as we have stated, ascended the throne in the vigour 
of mature manhood 1 . Like his father Asa, he was a strict 
worshipper of Jehovah, and exerted himself to repress every 
demoralizing practice which sheltered itself under the forms 
of heathen religion : yet the burning of incense to Jehovah 
at the high places he steadily upheld, if indeed there was 
as yet any one to oppose it. Such a king must have felt 
very painfully the relentless conflict between the prophets 
of Baal and Jehovah which was for awhile going on in the 
neighbouring kingdom, and nothing but an urgent sense of 
duty and necessity would be likely to lead him into close 
alliance with Ahab. But before he had been six years on the 
throne, he became thoroughly convinced that to support 
Israel against the attacks of Syria was a paramount object, 
and took a decisive step 2 , from the consequences of which he 
never flinched through all the rest of his life. He united his 
young son Jehoram 3 in marriage to the equally youthful 
Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel 4 . Perhaps he ima- 
gined that a maiden of the tender age of fifteen could import 
no moral evil into his palace, and he believed it a duty to 
cement the two branches of the house of Israel, which had 
been made unnaturally hostile with results so calamitous to 
both. Jehoshaphat was still more respected by the priests 
and prophets than his father Asa, and the determination of 

1 B.C. 894. 

2 The chronology would allow us to believe, that one object which Jehosha- 
phat bought by the marriage was a toleration of the prophets of Jehovah in 
Israel ; for we have no proof that the persecution continued after that time. 

3 As Jehoram is thirty-two years old when he is said to come to the throne 
and reign eight years (2 "Kings, viii. 17), he dies at the age of forty; but he dies 
in 865 ; therefore he is only seventeen in B.C. 888. Now his son Ahaziah is 
twenty-two at his accession B.C. 865, and was therefore born B.C. 887. This 
gives seventeen as the age of Jehoram at his marriage, when Athaliah may have 
been fifteen. 

4 She is called daughter of Omri, 2 Kings, viii. 26. 2 Chron. xxii. 2. If this 
were accurate, it would disturb our chronology. But 2 Kings, viii. 18, induces 
everybody to explain daughter as granddaughter. 


the later sacerdotal party to make him one of their great 
heroes, has thrown a false light over his whole reign. The 
account of him given in the Chronicles is evidently to so great 
a degree an ideal picture, that it is unsafe to believe anything 
on that testimony alone. Yet the scanty facts deposed in the 
other record justify important inferences. His predecessors, 
it is supposed, had succeeded in keeping the nominal homage 
of the Edomites, and had perhaps been able to enforce the 
claim to give them kings or regulate the succession to the 
throne 1 . Under Jehoshaphat however this remained no bar- 
ren ceremony of state : before half his reign was ended, he 
even fitted out a fleet on the Red Sea, and prepared for a 
voyage to Ophir. In building ships at so distant a port, and 
in planning such a voyage, very much indeed is implied. He 
must have held so complete a command over Idumsea, as to 
be able to superintend the cutting of timber in Edomite 
forests (which do not seem now to exist), and sending all 
needful supplies to the harbours of Elath and Ezion Geber. 
He must also have had a sufficient command of the Philistine 
sea-coast^ to furnish him with a maritime population and 
experienced shipbuilders ; for he built and manned his fleet 
without aid from the king of Israel, or (as far as we can learn) 
from any foreign quarter. Finally, he must have been able to 
provide for the security of his caravans in going and return- 
ing ; and must have had a large disposable surplus of light 
merchandize, which would bear the expense of carriage on 
camels' backs to the Red Sea. Even in our older compilation, 
the tone in which he is spoken of implies a military greatness 
beyond his predecessors. Out of such substantial realities, 
the Chronicler has built up a fabric of romance. He fur- 
nishes Jehoshaphat with an army of 1,160,000 disposable 
troops under four great generals, " to wait upon the king/' 
besides the garrisons in the fenced cities. The Philistines 
pay him tribute of silver, and the Arabians present him with 
7700 rams and 7700 he-goats. So great prosperity must have 
been a direct reward from Jehovah on his piety ; hence his 
piety must be described as even exceeding that of David. He 
gives order to his princes to teach in the cities of Judah, and 
sends out Levites and priests with the BOOK of the LAW, who 
taught the people everywhere. But as half of this tale is an 

1 It is not certain whether the statement in 1 Kings, xxii. 47, as to the vice- 
roy in Edom, applies to Jehoshaphat' s reign alone, or to former reigns also. 


obvious invention, we cannot put any trust in the rest, which 
is unknown to our better authority, and wholly unparalleled 
and uncountenanced by all the rest of the history. 

In the present day, a ravine close beneath Jerusalem itself 
is called the valley of Jehoshaphat, but there is no proof that 
the name was so applied in ancient times. Yet it is generally 
supposed that there was a valley so called 1 , identical with that 
which had received the name Berachah or Blessing, because 
in it Jehoshaphat, after a great victory over the Edomites and 
other allies, there offered solemn thanksgivings to Jehovah. 
The name (as so often happens) appears to have generated a 
legend concerning the nature of the victory, which however 
does not contain a single circumstance that can commend 
itself as historical 2 . 

While the chronicler's accounts of Jehoshaphat are not 
admissible, we yet cannot doubt that, except towards the end 
of his reign, he was a prosperous prince, and that the wisdom 
with which he followed up the measures of his father was 
crowned with high success. One or other of the two had 
reduced the southern cities of Philistia, and gained access to 
the sea, with facilities for Mediterranean navigation and com- 
merce, which afterwards suggested to renew the southern voy- 
ages of Solomon. The neighbouring Arabians felt the bene- 
fits of traffic with him, and willingly paid him homage, and 
his sway, as we have said, became real and vigorous over the 
Edomites. In about the fifteenth or sixteenth year of his 
reign, a definite proposal was made to him by Ahab to unite 
in rescuing Ramoth in Gilead from the grasp of king Ben- 
hadad. Jehoshaphat acceded to AhaVs request with a cordi- 
ality which shows that he looked on all Israel as one people, 
and sincerely desired its entire union and joint prosperity. 
Nevertheless, it might be wrong to think his conduct disin- 
terested, which might indeed lessen our idea of his prudence ; 
rather, for the sake of his own kingdom, it was inevitable for 
him to feel the greatest anxiety from the position of the Syrian 
monarch in Gilead. From Ramoth as his sallying-post, Ben- 
hadad was almost certain, sooner or later, to subdue the east- 
ern tribes ; and by crossing the Jordan he might invade Judah 
almost as easily as Israel. Against a force so superior and so 

1 According to a received interpretation of Joel iii. But it seems more pro- 
bable that the name in Joel is mystical and not geographical. 

2 See Note 3 , p. 177. 


near, if once allowed to root itself there, neither kingdom 
could hope permanently to stand ; and it might seem the part 
of wisdom to act with an enterprize bordering on rashness, 
before the eastern tribes of Israel had learned submission to 
a Damascene master. 

The two kings accordingly marched in company against 
Ramoth, and found the Syrians assembled around it in force 
so great, as may even imply that they were on the point of 
invading Israel, and that the sole question had been, whether 
to meet them across the Jordan, or to receive their attack in 
the heart of Ephraim. The force more particularly specified 
now, as on other occasions, is that of chariots, over which the 
king of Syria had set thirty-two captains. An obstinate battle 
was fought, and lasted till the sun went down ; in the course 
of which Ahab received a mortal wound with an arrow. He 
died in the evening ; and so confessed was the defeat of the 
Hebrews, that a general order was sent through their bands 
for each man to save himself by night, as he best could 1 . 
After so entire a failure, we might have imagined that the 
whole territory of the eastern tribes would at once have been 
lost to the dominion of Samaria. The Syrians however must 
themselves have suffered severely in so hardly-contested a 
field; and they may have found that they had no longer 
strength to spare for encountering any new enterprize. 

Such an overthrow, in the first battle fought by the united 
kings of Israel and Judah, was in itself memorable and disas- 
trous. The moral effect on the surrounding nations, Edom, 
Moab, Philistia, was a severe wound to the Hebrew supre- 
macy, which now appeared finally to be sinking before the 
star of Damascus. It was made still more impressive on the 
imagination by the death of Ahab, the first Hebrew monarch 
since Saul who had been slain in war. In consequence, the 
event has been transmitted to us with details which must be 
received with caution and a measure of distrust. Benhadad 
is said to have ordered his men to neglect all other objects in 
comparison with that of killing Ahab ; which, since Ahab is 
not reported to us to be anything as a general, savours of per- 
sonal enmity, not military policy. But by a strange coinci- 
dence, Ahab, without knowing of this order, disguises himself 
in a common garb, but persuades Jehoshaphat to appear in his 

1 The Chronicler dissembles the disgraceful rout of the army, as indecorous 
to Jehoshaphat ; 2 Chron. xix. 1. 


usual royal robes ; for which no reason whatever is assigned. 
Hence Jehoshaphat narrowly escapes being slain, as the Syri- 
ans mistake him for Ahab. The death of Ahab is imputed to 
a chance-shot, which perhaps only means 1 that the archer was 
supposed not to know that it was Ahab at whom he was aim- 
ing. While this account contains nothing impossible, the 
coincidences are odd, and certainly not easy to receive from 
an unknown compiler distant in time from the events. 

But this is not all. That so pious a king as Jehoshaphat, 
and one previously so successful, should fall into such a cala- 
mity, needed to be accounted for. Had he gone forth with- 
out consulting Jehovah by Urim ? or without encouragement 
from Jehovah's prophets ? or had he even disobeyed them ? 
Our narrative undertakes to reply to these questions, and yet 
in fact leaves them unsolved. Jehoshaphat, after promising 
to join Ahab, is seized with scruples, and suggests to inquire 
of Jehovah. Ahab produces 400 prophets, who reply that 
Jehovah shall deliver Ramoth into the hand of the two kings. 
But the king of Judah is still uneasy, and inquires whether 
there is not yet, besides these, some prophet of Jehovah. Ahab 
confesses that there is one more, whom he does not like, 
Micaiah, son of Imlah ; and at Jehoshaphat' s request, sends 
for him. Micaiah strongly forbids the expedition, and predicts 
the worst results : Ahab is incensed, and throws him into pri- 
son. Yet Jehoshaphat goes up with Ahab against Ramoth, as 
if uncertain whether the single prophet or the four hundred 
spoke the true word of Jehovah 2 . 

There are nevertheless in this account some points of theo- 
logical interest, which must not be passed over. Micaiah is 
the only prophet of Israel (except Hosea, who wrote much 
later, when that branch of the nation was near to its final 
ruin,) of whose doctrine we have any characteristic specimen. 
When asked whether the two kings shall go up against Ra- 
moth, he first replies, " I saw all Israel scattered upon the 
hills as sheep that have not a shepherd : and Jehovah said, 
These have no master : let them return every man to his house 

1 If we interpret it, that the archer shot at random, how was the writer to 
know that ? 

2 Among the earlier Romans we see distinctly how any great defeat is apt to 
be imputed to a neglect of the auspices. Even so late as in the invasion by the 
Cimbri and Teutones, they ascribe some of their severest losses to the inconti- 
nence of the Vestal Virgins, who are tried and cruelly killed as guilty of the 
public disasters. 


When Ahab expressed displeasure at this rebuke 
of his indecisive character, Micaiah resumed his address : " I 
saw Jehovah sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven 
standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And Je- 
hovah said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and 
fall at Ramoth of Gilead. And there came forth a spirit, and 
stood before Jehovah, and said, I will persuade him. And 
Jehovah said. Wherewith ? And he said, I will go forth, and 
be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And Je- 
hovah said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also : go 
forth and so do." 

It is quite a secondary question with us whether these words 
were so spoken, then and there, and whether such a prediction 
damped the hearts of the Hebrew soldiers and contributed 
to their defeat : all historical reality in the address may be 
doubted, and it will remain not the less certain that we have 
here a faithful view of the belief and forms of imagination 
then current concerning Jehovah's throne and court. These 
are quite in harmony with the representations of Isaiah and 
of the later prophets, in the general analogy presumed between 
the externals of divine and human sovereignty. That which 
is here peculiar and instructive is the agency of lying spirits 
under Jehovah's immediate mission. The false prophets who 
mislead Ahab are conceived of, probably, as in some sense 
guilty ; yet they are not the less Jehovah's prophets, speaking 
by the direct dictation of the spirit which he has sent. The 
Persian doctrine of an Evil Spirit in avowed conflict with the 
Good God, does not seem yet to have found its way into Is- 
rael. The times were rude enough to feel no impropriety in 
the God of Truth working out his own ends by lying minis- 
ters ; and the ingenious methods by which a later philosophy 
sought to disentangle its own web were unknown and unwished 
for. At the same time, it becomes apparent that in Israel (as 
at a later time in Judah), when the prophets were admitted 
to give political counsel, their influence was apt to be neutra- 
lized by one another, and by this doctrine of " lying spirits." 

But to return to the history. The position of the Syrians 
in Gilead gave them the undisputed command of the plains of 
Moab along the east bank of the Jordan, down to its junction 
with the Dead Sea ; and by thus intercepting all communica- 
tion between Israel and the Moabites, led the latter to disown 
their homage to the former. The annual tribute which they 


had paid is estimated as 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams, 
with the wool, which was of course withheld, now that the king 
of Israel could not fulfil a single duty of a sovereign. AHAZIAH, 
eldest son of Ahab, succeeded to his father 1 on a weakened 
and unenviable throne. 

One circumstance alone, of political interest, is casually 
named as happening in his reign. Jehoshaphat had recently 
been making his great experiment of renewing the navigation 
to Ophir ; but, perhaps through want of skill in his shipwrights 
or sailors (for he was shut up to the narrow coast of Philistia 
for his supply), the enterprize failed, the fleet being shattered 
by a tempest almost before quitting its harbour. Ahaziah ap- 
pears to have imputed the misfortune to want of seamanship ; 
for he immediately proposed to send on the next voyage sub- 
jects of his own, who occupied a sea-coast of five times the 
length, and had a far greater maritime experience than any 
Hebrews of the kingdom of Judah. But Jehoshaphat was too 
much discouraged to repeat the experiment. It must have 
been exceedingly costly, and he was no doubt already con- 
vinced that he was grasping at what was beyond his powers ; 
he therefore positively declined the friendly offer 2 . 

In a few short months Ahaziah met with an accident fatal 
in its result : he fell out of an upper window in his room at 
Samaria. Sympathizing with his mother's religion, he sent to 
the Philistine town of Ekron to inquire of their god 3 whether 
he should recover. For this impiety he was believed by the 
prophets of Jehovah to have died shortly after. As he had no 
son, his brother JEHORAM succeeded him in the next year 4 . 

The calamities which seemed still to beset Israel were not 
without their effect on the new king. Jehoram could hardly 
avoid imputing them to the evil influence of Baal, whose wor- 
ship Ahab had introduced ; and (possibly not without the in- 
stigation of the monotheistic Jehoshaphat) he took the decisive 
measure of removing the image of Baal which his father had 

1 B.C. 877. 

2 1 Kings, xxii. 49. It is extraordinary to see how broadly the Chronicler 
contradicts this account. He represents that Ahaziah's men had been on board 
the ships, and that to punish this alliance with so wicked a man as Ahaziah, 
Jehovah destroyed the fleet by a tempest (2 Chron. xx. 35-37). 

The writer likewise commits the blunder of supposing that ships could sail 
down the Red Sea to Tarshish, or Tartessus, in Spain. Tarshish was a port 
much frequented by the Tyrians ; Jonah, i. 3 ; Ezek. xxvii. 12. 

3 Whom the Hebrews name Baalzebub (lord of flies). 
B.C. 876. 


made. We may probably infer that in other matters also he 
refrained from encouraging heathen ceremonies, although re- 
spect for his mother Jezebel forbade his taking active measures 
against them. After this he engaged Jehoshaphat to aid him 
in enforcing of the Moabites the tribute which they had been 
accustomed to pay to Ahab ; and as it was no longer possible 
to conduct their armies across the Jordan because of the 
Syrians, it was determined to lead them through the land of 
Edom, which was now entirely subject to Jehoshaphat. The 
particulars of the campaign form a part of the wonderful deeds 
of Elisha, and it is difficult to elicit substantial facts. The 
viceroy (here called king 1 of Edom) accompanies them ; their 
army suffers from want of water ; Elisha calls for a minstrel, 
begins to prophesy, orders them to dig ditches. They 
obey, and find water in abundance : the Moabites, when the 
sun shines on the water, mistake it for blood, and fancying 
that the two armies have massacred each other, make a rush 
for the Hebrew camp to despoil it. The Israelites meet and 
slaughter them with ease ; then (as eager not for future tri- 
bute, but for present vengeance) they beat down the cities, cut 
down all the good trees, stop up all the wells, and cast each 
man his stone on every good piece of land. The king of Moab 
is filled with chief rage against the king of Edom, and with 
700 chosen swordsmen makes a fierce, but vain attack on him. 
He then sacrifices his eldest son on the wall of some city; 
but with no result, except that the Moabites 2 " feel great in- 
dignation against Israel/' The armies return home, and Moab 
is left neither subject nor tributary 3 . As no effect whatever of 

1 As we are distinctly informed that at this time there was no Jcing in Edom 
(1 Kings, xxii. 47), the title is here indicative of vague knowledge in the original 
writer of this account. 

2 Mr. Eobert Mackay, in his able and remarkable work, " Progress of the 
Intellect," which seldom agrees with the views of this volume, says (vol. ii. pp. 
407) that it was not the Moabites who felt indignation, but Jehovah, who was 
fancied to be affected by the charm of the sacrifice. 

3 The Chronicler appears to have thought this campaign not honourable 
enough to Jehoshaphat, for he has dropt it out and put into its place, in nearly 
the same point of time, a different war, which he teUs as follows (2 Chron. xx.). 
The Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, a great multitude, invade the land of 
Judah, entering along the west shore of the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat prays a 
public prayer : a Levite becomes inspired and encourages the nation : Jehosha- 
phat marches out with religious singers in front of his army to praise Jehovah. 
As soon as they begin to sing, Jehovah sends mutual fury into the adverse host, 
who, before the Hebrews can come up to them, kill one another, " so that not 
one escaped." Abundance of spoil, riches and precious jewels, are found 



this campaign is pretended, and we cannot imagine a miracle 
wrought solely to enable the Hebrews to inflict misery on an 
innocent population, it is most probable that the want of water, 
which is mentioned as a difficulty encountered by them, really 
caused the failure of the whole expedition. 

We now enter on a yet more perplexing narrative, in which 
the unhistorical tone is far too manifest 1 to allow of our easy 
belief in it; although it is impossible to doubt that there was 
a real event at bottom which deeply affected the national 
feelings. This event is the siege of Samaria by the king of 
Syria. The invasion had only been delayed for some years by 
the spirited attack made on his forces at Ramoth by the allied 
kings ; and now, under Jehoram son of Ahab, the Israelitish 
army with their king was hemmed in at Samaria. So success- 
fully did the Syrian forces cut off their communications, that 
a dreadful famine arose in the town; and not only were the 
vilest substances sold at a great price for human food, but a 
woman was believed to have boiled and eaten her son 2 . Yet 
when the suffering was becoming unendurable, and a little 
more would have led to unconditional surrender, the Syrian 
army withdrew, and vanished of itself in the night. 

Such a catastrophe is a priori very improbable, but is by 
no means impossible. Many conjectural causes might be as- 
signed, far from absurd. The besieger may himself have suf- 
fered want of supplies, or he may have been drawn off by the 
attack of some enemy at home when the siege lingered be- 
yond expectation, as the Gauls, while blockading the Roman 
Capitol. Large and luxurious armies are likewise liable to 
unaccountable panics; and there were in this case circum- 
stances which may have conduced to such a thing. It has 

with the dead bodies ; so much, that the favoured army is employed three days 
in gathering it. On the fourth day they publicly bless Jehovah in the valley 
of Berachah, and return to Jerusalem with psalteries, harps and trumpets to the 
house of Jehovah. 

As to the date intended for this fable, it is distinctly declared to be after the 
death of Ahab (xix. 1, xx. 1) ; and it might seem by xx. 35 to be during the 
life of Ahab's successor. But at v. 31 of this chapter the connexion is brol 
and the writer loses all chronological clue. 

1 The siege of Jerusalem by Titus is described by Josephus in perhaps a stil 
more overwrought and romantic style ; yet Josephus was a contemporary, wit 1 
excellent means of information. 

2 Dramatic pungency is added to this by representing two women contracting 
that each in turn shall contribute a boiled child to their common meal : one of 
them eats the other's child, and evades to give her own ; and she who has ful- 
filled her part of the contract appeals to the king against the other's injustice. 


oeen observed by a Greek writer 1 , that the Persians so dreaded 
a night -attack on their cavalry, that that species of force 
never passed the night at a shorter distance than six or seven 
miles from the enemy. Every horse needed to be pegged to 
the ground by each of his four feet. If the army was sur- 
prized by night, the time required to get the horses free and 
accoutre them for action was so great, that a total defeat 
might be first sustained. A force of chariots must have been 
still more liable to this disaster. Moreover, as king Benhadad 
had once before fallen into the hands of the Israelites, he may 
the more easily have taken alarm on the occurrence of a tu- 
mult which was supposed to be a hostile attack. Noises in 
the night are heard to a great distance, and are easily misin^ 
terpreted ; and the host was probably dispersed, so as to block 
up all the critical approaches to Samaria, without venturing on 
the rough ground. 

The authority from which we draw our whole information 
says, therefore, nothing incredible in assigning a night-panic 
as the reason for the sudden disappearance of the Syrians; 
but the particular ground of alarm 2 attributed to them does 
not exhibit the writer's acquaintance with the times in a very 
favourable light. It goes on to represent the Syrians as leav- 
ing their entire camp, with abundance of food and every sort 
of wealth, to be plundered by the Israelites ; and such, it de- 
clares, was the profusion of the supply of fine flour and of 
barley (the horse-food of those parts), that the dearth in Sa- 
maria was suddenly converted into cheapness 3 . A lord who 

1 Xenophon in his Anabasis iii. He elsewhere, in the same work, mentions 
that even the Greek army, under the veteran officer Clearchus, suffered a rather 
dangerous night-panic, which was stilled by Clearchus bidding his loud-voiced 
crier proclaim a reward of a silver talent to whoever would tell who it was that 
let the ass loose into the camp ; Anab. ii. 2, 20. They had themselves, just 
before, unawares inflicted a panic on the king of Persia, which made him decamp 
in the night. 

2 The Syrians are stated to dread an attack from the kings of the Hittites and 
of the Egyptians. No Hittite kings can have compared in power with the king 
of Judah, the real and nearer ally, who is not named at all ; and the kings of 
Egypt (if there were really more than one) were at a weary distance, with a 
desart between. 

In the whole narrative, from 2 Kings, vi. 8 to vii. 6, the title " king of Israel " 
occurs twenty-two times, yet his name never slips out, nor that of the lord who 
is trampled to death ; nor is there a single mark of acquaintance with the con- 
temporaneous history. 

3 The liveliness of the narrative is here quite equal to poetry. Four leprous 
tnen venture out into the Syrian camp, and enjoy all its good things before any 
of the rest have discovered the flight of the huge host. Considering the height 


had disbelieved the possibility of this, when predicted by Elisha, 
was trodden to death in the crowd, in fulfilment of the pro- 
phet's denunciation upon him. 

The general result remains clear: Samaria, after great 
suffering, escaped for the present; but the power of Syria 
continued to threaten it with force most disproportionate. 
Jehoshaphat (if still alive a ) was getting old, and possibly was 
daunted By the ill-success of his two expeditions in company 
with kings of Israel ; but age had stolen over Benhadad also. 
He was shortly laid up with a painful sickness, and (after an 
interval perhaps of a few years) died. It is not stated whether 
he left any natural representatives, and we only know that he 
was succeeded on the throne of Damascus by Hazael 2 , one of 
his great officers. 

Jehoshaphat, under growing infirmity, had recourse to the 
method, hitherto unpractised except by king David, of raising 
his son to the throne during his own lifetime. Some doubt 
rests on the date of this ; we have followed the opinion that it 
was B.C. 872, about three years before the old king's death. 
It was not to be questioned that he felt the calamities which 
were befalling the northern kingdom to be severe shocks given 
to the whole Hebrew sovereignty. Now that the tribe of 
Reuben, with Ammon and Moab, were lost to the throne of 
Israel, it was impossible that the Edomites should very peace- 
ably submit to the yoke of Judah. A strong and vigorous 

of the hill of Samaria, it might have seemed that the state of the enemy's camp 
would be seen (at least in most parts) from the town itself. 

1 We cannot tell whether Jehoshaphat or Jehoram sate on the throne of 
Judah during the siege of Samaria, so little has it of real connexion with the 
history ; yet judging from the affairs of Syria, we should suppose it to be while 
the two Jehorams were reigning. 

2 Hazael is stated to have murdered the poor old man in his sick bed, by 
spreading a wet cloth on his face. But when a man is so near to death that 
this will kill him, he may so easily have died of himself, that we need good 
evidence to show that such a story is not vulgar scandal. How the Israelitish 
writer got so accurate information of what went on in the king of Syria's bed- 
chamber, is not apparent. 

In order, it seems, to give honour to Elisha, this prophet is made to utter a 
prediction which in a just view was highly disgraceful. Hazael brings him a 
present of forty camels' -load of all the precious things of Damascus, to inquire, 
in Benhadad' s name, whether he is to recover of his malady. Elisha replies that 
he will not recover, although he might recover ; but Hazael will become king 
of Syria, and will perpetrate every kind of cruelty on the Israelites. Hazael is 
shocked at the prophecy, yet on reaching home murders his master. If Elisha 
had wished to incite him to the murder, he could not have tempted him more 
diabolically. But the whole tale is apocryphal. 


hand was wanted, and age must have now disabled Jehosha- 
phat for the active exertion of warfare. These reasons will 
account for his taking so unusual a step. 

That the name of his son, JEHORAM, was the very same as 
that of the king of Israel, is generally ascribed to the matri- 
monial alliance between the two families ; an opinion which is 
confirmed by the circumstance that this Jehoram's son and the 
other Jehoram' s brother were both named Ahaziah. Yet as 
both Jehorams appear to have been born in Omrr's reign, it is 
remarkable to find such intimacy between the fathers already 
commenced, as to lead to their giving the same names to their 
sons 1 . No event at all is recorded as occurring during the 
joint reign of Jehoram and his father. Jehoshaphat died 2 at 
the age of sixty, leaving his kingdom in an anxious position, 
through no fault of his own, but through the irresistible 
growth of Damascus, which he had so long foreboded, and in 
vain struggled to check. 

The great event of his son's reign was the revolt of the 
Edomites, who now set over themselves an independent king. 
The king of Judah did not yield up his sovereignty without 
a conflict ; and going out with a force of chariots, he made 
a night -attack on the Edomite army with much slaughter. 
Nevertheless, though he might win a battle, he could not re- 
cover his dominion ; and Edom was lost to the house of Judah 
about a century and a half after its conquest by David. A 
revolt of the strongly fortified town of Libnah in Judaea is 
mentioned as happening about the same time ; and it is pos- 
sible that the necessity imposed on Jehoram of returning 
from Edom to put down rebellion in his own dominions, 
helped to shorten the Edomite war. We should seem to 
know the reasons of this internal rebellion, if we could give 
unhesitating credit to the details which our second authority 
has added to the reign of this king. His father Jehoshaphat, 
we are told, had seven sons, whom he established as princes 
in various fenced cities of Judah ; but no sooner did Jehoram 
find himself sole master of the kingdom, than, in the jealousy 
of power, he slew all his brothers, and with them many other 
noble persons. Such a massacre would necessarily produce 
discontents, which might well break out into rebellion at 

1 Some may conjecture that the system of taking royal names was already 
acted on. 2 B . c> 69. 


The Edomites had now learned their strength ; and the 
hope of revenge kindled a clear memory of the bloody deeds 
wrought upon their nation hy Joab and Abishai. Although 
they could have no thought of conquering Judah, they from 
this time forth, with little intermission, harassed it by inroads, 
in which they carried off the population to sell into slavery. 
Allusions to the suffering thus caused are frequent in the 
earliest extant prophets; yet no incursions were on a suffi- 
ciently large scale to be entitled a war, or to find a place in 
the general history. 

A notice however has been preserved to us of a very daring 
inroad of Philistines, aided by tribes from the Arabian pen- 
insula ; who surprized Jerusalem itself, and carried off (it is 
even said) the wives of the king. The general fact is in per- 
fect agreement with the course of the history and the refer- 
ences made by the prophets 1 ; but we find mingled up with 
the narrative much that is erroneous or justly suspected 2 , so 
as to inspire the belief, that an undue prejudice against the 
son of Jehoshaphat has biassed the Chronicler, by whom this 
king is depicted in far blacker colours than by the earlier 
compiler. Jehoram died in the prime of life, of an acute at- 
tack in the bowels, which, coupled with the depressing events 

1 See especially Joel iii. 4, 5, which at first sight seems to say that the Phili- 
stines (with the help of Tyre and Sidon ?) pillaged the temple. 

2 It states (2 Chr. xxi. 20) that as a stigma on his wickedness he was buried 
in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the Icings ; while hi our better 
authority we read, that "he was buried with his fathers in the city of David." 
The Chronicler brings up against him Philistines, and Arabians that were near 
the Ethiopians, who plunder his palace, carry off his wives (although Athaliah, 
his chief or only wife, was not carried off) and slay all his sons, except his 
youngest son Jehoahaz for so Ahaziah is called in ch. xxi. 17. (The name 
Ahaziah reappears in xxii. 2, and, in another form, Azariah in v. 6.) The 
Chronicler makes Ahaziah 42 years old when his father dies at the age of 40 : 
this forty-two might indeed be a corrupt reading for twenty-two, as we read in 
2 Kings, xviii. 26 ; but even so, it is absurd to imagine Ahaziah to be only 18 
years younger than his father, and yet to be the youngest son born from many 
wives. Again, as the Chronicler represents all the brethren of Ahaziah- to have 
been killed by the freebooters, he turns those who are called " forty-two men, 
brethren of Ahaziah" (in 2 Kings, x. 13, 14), into sons of the brethren of Aha- 
ziah ; so that Jehoram, dying at the age of 40, left 42 grandsons who are called 
men. That Elijah the prophet wrote a letter to Jehoram, as stated in 2 Chr. 
xxi. 12, is irreconcilable with the chronology of the book of Kings. Both these 
records are prejudiced against the son and grandson of Jehoshaphat, because of 
their relation to the house of Ahab, in whose sins (they vaguely say) both 
walked. But when they go into details of irreligion, we find no imputation 
worse than " the high places," 2 Chr. xxi. 11. The son of Ahab had in fact re- 
nounced the worship of Baal. 


of his reign, in contrast to his father's greatness, led to the 
idea that a judgment from God had overtaken him, and that 
he was a sinner above other men. 

His son AnAZiAH 1 had already reached the age of twenty- 
two, and lost no time in following up his grandfather's policy 
of withstanding the power of Damascus. No circumstances 
survive to us that might explain the only fact of which we 
are informed. Hazael had succeeded Benhadad on the throne 
of Syria. Had his accession been accompanied with any in- 
ternal disorders? Had Benhadad left sons, against whom 
Hazael had had to contend ? or had Jehoram of Israel, after 
the retreat of Benhadad from Samaria, obtained any fresh suc- 
cesses during the last illness of the old king? We cannot 
tell what emboldened the two Hebrew princes anew ; we only 
know that Ahaziah, in the first and last year of his reign, 
joined Jehoram in another attempt to recover Ramoth in 
Gilead from the Syrians. King Hazael fought a battle against 
them, in which Jehoram was severely wounded ; but the He- 
brew armies kept the field, and continued in the neighbour- 
hood of Ramoth. The Israelitish king had returned to his 
palace at Jezreel to tend his wounds, when a dreadful cala- 
mity exploded on the heads of both the royal houses. But 
before detailing this miserable event, we must cast a retrospect 
on the life of queen JEZEBEL. 

We have seen that the palace of Tirzah found no favour 
with king Omri, the founder of Samaria. As the arduous 
work of erecting a new capital is likely to have fully occupied 
him, we may probably ascribe to his son Ahab 2 the building 
of the new palace at Jezreel for his wife Jezebel. Jezreel is 
identified with the modern village of Zerin, on an elevated 
part of the table-land called Esdraelon 3 by the Greeks. To 
the north-west the brook Kishon runs down into the bay of 
Caraiel, parallel to high hills which form an amphitheatre 
behind Jezreel on the west and south. To the east, but in- 
clining to south, another brook runs sharply down to the town 

1 B.C. 865. 

2 We hear also of an ivory house which Ahab made (1 Kings, xxii. 39), 
which may be compared to the ivory palaces of Ps. xlv. It is credible that all 
its ornamental part was executed in ivory. The "houses of ivory" in Hosea 
iii. 15 are named in company with real dwelling-houses. 

3 Esdrael is a mere corruption of Jezreel, a word which in Hebrew means 
seed of God (or, sowing-place of God ?), as indicating the great fruitfulness of 
the plain. 


of Bethshean, with the mountains of Gilboa rising steep along 
its southern side. But to the east and north-east the eye is 
carried right across the valley of Jordan ; to the north the 
land of Issachar rises, and the view is broken by the lofty hill 
of Shunem ; while between the north-west and west the moun- 
tains of Carmel bound the prospect over the broad and fertile 
slope of Esdraelon. Such was the magnificent site of Jeze- 
bel's palace 1 . It has been carefully recorded that David, 
when he needed the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, 
paid fifty shekels of silver 2 as the price of it with the oxen. 
Omri bought the hill of Samaria of its owner Shemer with 
two talents of silver ; Ahab likewise was under a necessity of 
purchasing such land as he needed in the neighbourhood of 
Jezreel. It so happened that a man named Naboth had a 
vineyard which was wanted as a kitchen-garden to the palace ; 
but although the king offered him whatever equivalent in 
money he thought reasonable, Naboth positively refused to 
sell it on any terms. The narrative is of interest, as showing 
us, that the despotism apparently vested in these kings was 
never understood to supersede private and social rights. In 
time of war they exercised so arbitrary an authority, that 
Saul could threaten his son Jonathan with death for disobey- 
ing a capricious order ; and over their own officials, especially 
those under military rule, the public feeling seems to have 
permitted them a very unlimited sway. But their power over 
private men, although the constitution had not invented any 
mode of controlling it, was not to be exerted with wild or 
selfish wilfulness : usage, and respect for public opinion, de- 
manded the observance of certain forms of justice, in a case 
which involved private interests. On the present occasion 
the refusal of Naboth greatly annoyed Ahab, who neither 
dared to use violence, nor conceived the idea of it. But his 
wife Jezebel, enraged that any one should thwart and mortify 
her royal consort, immediately took on herself to arrange the 
matter of Naboth. Having written letters in AhaVs name 
and sealed them with his seal, she accused Naboth of the 
undefinable offence of "blasphemy" against God and the 

1 The accuracy of this description has been questioned by a traveller, who 
saw no extensive prospect from Zerin. I did not compile it from Kitto's Bibli- 
cal Cyclopaedia, but I find his article (Jezreel) in general to confirm what I have 
written. A dim day, or an ill choice of the road, often defrauds travellers of 
fine prospects. 

2 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. 


king 1 , and by suborning false witness, effected his condemna- 
tion ; upon which he was put to death by the cruel method 
of public stoning. At her instance, Ahab then took posses- 
sion of Naboth's vineyard, although with a bad conscience 
and without enjoyment of it ; for when severely reproved by 
Elijah the prophet, he humbled himself, rent his clothes 
and wore sackcloth, and showed no resentment against his 
faithful rebuker. Such is the account, as we have it; and 
even if it be not wholly correct, it is of value, as showing a 
very early belief current in Israel. If we reject it, we can put 
nothing into its place, as we cannot hope to amend it in de- 
tail. It certainly gives us a blacker view of Jezebel's cha- 
racter than any other facts which are stated ; and the thought 
may occur, whether this is anything but a story to which her 
murderer, in self-justification, gave currency. That is possi- 
ble ; and yet the crime imputed to her is only too consistent 
with the mother of Athaliah. 

In her palace of Jezreel the queen of Ahab was still resid- 
ing, and here too lay her royal son, now almost convalescent 
from the wounds he received at Ramoth. It does not appear 
that any violence on Jezebel's part had been renewed against 
the Hebrew national religion since the great drought which 
had afflicted Israel. We read that prophets of Jehovah 
moved freely in the camp and in the court during the Syrian 
invasions, and used great liberty with Ahab and his son, with- 
out encountering danger ; and when Ahab joined with Jeho- 
shaphat to go against Ramoth, we have seen that about 400 
men are spoken of as prophesying in the name of Jehovah 
before both the kings. Jehoram, son of Ahab, had renounced 
the worship of Baal, and might personally have seemed to de- 
serve some consideration and some mercy from those who 
dreaded or hated his mother. He was barely recovered from 
wounds received against the public enemy. But Jehoram's 
zeal, or perceptions of public duty, did not, like Asa's, mount 

1 The Hebrew phrase is, " Naboth did Uess God and the king." The word 
bless is expounded to mean say adieu, and hence, cwrse. It may seem strange 
to find God, and not Jehovah, in this formula ; and since in days when various 
idolatries were established in Israel, a purely theological punishment seerfls im- 
possible, the suspicion might intrude, that this stoning for blasphemy is a sa- 
cerdotal notion of later days here imputed to the times of Ahab. Yet it may be 
that the phrase only imports treason, and that the word God inserted before 
Icing is mere verbiage, like the malice and wickedness which our legal formulas 
so liberally ascribe to defendants. That stoning was practised in Israel, we 
saw in the case of Eehoboam's luckless tax-collector. 


so high as to steel him to forbid his mother's religion : the 
priests of Baal were still supported by her, and the temple of 
Baal remained in Samaria. Elisha (if we can trust our nar- 
rative) waited his time to strike a blow against Jezebel, far 
more ferocious in conception, and proportionably more deadly 
in its result, than the address of Ahijah to Jeroboam had 
been. He sent a young prophet with secret orders to Ramoth, 
where JEHU, son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi, one of the 
chief captains of the host of Israel, was abiding with the 
army to watch the Syrians. Having asked a private inter- 
view with Jehu, the youth took out a box of oil and poured it 
over his head, declaring that Jehovah anointed Jehu king over 
Israel, that he might cut off every male of the house of Ahab 
and avenge the blood of the prophets at the hand of Jezebel. 
After thus delivering his message, he fled and disappeared. 
Jehu was not slow to announce what had been done ; and the 
other captains accepted it as a voice from heaven. He was at 
once proclaimed king by the army, and before the tidings 
should reach Jezreel by any other messenger, he hastened to 
carry it himself. It so happened that Ahaziah king of Judah 
was come to visit his wounded uncle ; and when the watch- 
man announced from his height that a man was seen rapidly 
driving towards the palace, who apparently must be Jehu, cap- 
tain of the host, the two princes, moved by an inexplicable 
impulse, at once drove forth in their chariots to meet him. 
But on their coming near, Jehu shot Jehoram with an arrow 
through the heart ; aud overdoing the prophet's commission, 
sent his servants to slay Ahaziah also, who fled on discovering 
the treason. He was chased so closely as to receive a mortal 
wound 1 , though his chariot carried him off to Megiddo, west 
of Jezreel, beneath the mountains of Carmel. Here he died 2 , 
in the second year of his reign and twenty-third of his age. 
He was carried by his servants in his own chariot to Jerusa- 
lem, and buried in the royal sepulchres. 

But this was the mere beginning of a great and historical 

tragedy. Jehu continued his course to Jezreel ; but the news 

'"of his murderous enterprize arrived there before him, and 

1 The wound is specified as received " at the going up to Grur, which is by 
Ibleam " (2 Kings, ix. 27). But the chronicler gives a different and irreconcil- 
able tale (2 Chr. xxii. 8, 9). After slaying the princes of Judah, Jehu seeks for 
Ahaziah, and catches him hid in Samaria. He is slain and carefully buried by 
Jehu's people, " because, said they, he is the son [grandson] of Jehoshaphat, who 
sought Jehovah with all his heart." 

2 B.C. 864. 


Jezebel had full notice of her danger. With masculine spirit, 
she prepared to meet him boldly, showing herself out of a 
window which overlooked the gate of the palace. As he drove 
in through the gate, she called aloud to him with the signifi- 
cant question, "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?" but 
Jehu, without deigning to reply, commanded the eunuchs who 
stood at her side to throw her out of window. They did 
not dare to disobey so fierce and relentless a man, and hurled 
her down in front of him. All mangled as she lay and be- 
spattered with her gore, Jehu, as if glorying in cruelty, drove 
his horses and chariot over her body, and left her to live or 
die, as chance might determine. Those who handed down the 
account were careful to remark, that the corpse of Jehoram 
had been cast out by Jehu on the vineyard of Naboth, and 
that while Jehu was dining in the palace of Jezreel, the dogs 
devoured the flesh off the body of Jezebel. 

From Jezreel, Jehu wrote letters to Samaria (where Ahab 
had seventy male descendants, many of them children under 
tutors), and commanded the elders and authorities 1 of the 
city to behead them all, and send the heads to him forthwith 
at Jezreel. The knowledge that the army was with him and 
that both kings were dead, terrified them into submission; 
and the seventy heads of the innocent men and children were 
sent him in baskets, and placed in two heaps by the palace- 
gate. After this he massacred all persons of distinction whom 
he regarded as the partizans of Ahab, " all his great men, 
and his kinsfolk, and his priests, until he left none remain- 
ing." These things must have been done with a rapidity al- 
most miraculous, if the next tale orhorror has been accurately 
reported. Journeying, it, is said, to Samaria, he fell in with 
forty-two princes of Judah, brothers 2 of the late king Ahaziah, 
who, having heard nothing of these events, were on their way 
to visit the young princes of the house of Ahab. The taste 

1 There is an obscurity in the phrase : " he wrote to Samaria unto the rulers 
of Jezreel.' 1 In fact, vv. 11 and 17 of 2 Kings, x. do not well harmonize with 
1-10 : for in 1-10 Jehu slays Ahab's sons in Samaria, in v. 11 they are called 
" those of the house of Ahab in Jezreel," and afterwards, in v. 17, he still has 
to slay " all who remained to Ahab in Samaria." The original narrative appears 
to have been interpolated ; but it is perhaps impossible to separate the newer 
parts from the older. 

J It has been already noted that these are called by the Chronicler " sons of 
the brethren of Ahaziah;" because he has said that the brothers of Ahaziah 
were aU slain by the Philistines. But as the father of Ahaziah, if still alive, 
would only have been forty-one years old, there is no room to doubt that the 
other record is right ; except that the word brothers may include first-cousins, 


of blood had only whetted the appetite of this tiger of a man, 
who at once gave orders, which were too faithfully executed, 
to slay them all on the spot. Truly he understood, that hav- 
ing treacherously murdered two unoffending kings, it was not 
wise to leave any one alive who had a family interest in be- 
coming their avenger : nor have we reason to doubt of the 
main fact of his massacre, however questionable the circum- 
stantials may seem. 

Continuing his progress, he took into his chariot a man 
whose name had become proverbial in the day of Jeremiah 
the prophet, for the singular law 1 which he imposed on his 
descendants Jonadab the son of Rechab. Entering Samaria 
with him, he assumed the character of a devout votary of 
Baal; proclaimed a great sacrifice on a certain day, and or- 
dered, under pain of death, that every priest and every wor- 
shipper of Baal should assemble to celebrate it. Having thus 
filled the temple, and made all requisite arrangements by the 
help of Jonadab, at an appointed moment he gave the signal 
for killing all that were within. When this order had been 
executed, he joined his guards in the temple of Baal, had all 
the images 2 broken and burned, the temple itself pulled down, 
and its site converted to the vilest purposes. Thus were the 
prophets of Jehovah at last avenged and gratified. 

But the Fury of murder, who rioted thus perfidiously in 
profane Samaria, spread her contagion to holy Jerusalem. 
Jehu's example stimulated the daughter of Jezebel to deeds 
still more unnatural, if not more ferocious. In the court of 
Jehoshaphat, ATHALIAH from her earliest youth had seen no 
images to Baal or Astarte. For twenty-four years she had 
lived in a monotheistic atmosphere ; and, but for Jehu, she 
might perhaps have passed without crime and without re- 
proach to her life's end. But her mother's blood was in 

and even uncles, if we reject the account that Jehoram slew his own brothers, 
sons of Jehoshaphat. Ahaziah was probably the eldest son of Jehoram. But 
2 Chr. xxii. 1-7 appears to be a fragment of diiferent origin from xxi., and fol- 
lows a different chronology. It is no accident that at once makes Ahaziah 
forty-two years old, and gives him so many nephews. 

1 The Rechabites were a tribe or family who lived in Arab fashion, beii 
under oath not to build houses nor plant the ground. This is identical with a 
Nabathsean principle, and is evidently a barbarous endeavour to uphold liberty 
by avoiding to root oneself in the soil. The Rechabites were supposed to be 
descended from this Jonadab, and to have adopted their institutions at his 

2 It was before stated that Jehoram " put away the image of Baal which his 
father had made ;" but not that he actually destroyed it. 


her veins, and now that her son and all his brothers were 
slain, she saw the throne of Judah within her grasp, if only 
she removed the young children, the sons of her son, 
who stood in her way. As mother of the king, she enjoyed 
high privileges, and had many servants at her bidding: at 
this moment there was none but she to administer the supreme 
government in Judah. Seizing the opportunity, she put all 
her grandchildren to death, and occupied the throne as QUEEN 
in her own title and without a rival. 

Such is the train of atrocities which Elisha's message 
entailed on both the Hebrew kingdoms. A third time was 
the royal house of Israel extirpated, and now likewise that 
of Judah. That the Jewish writers can gloat over such 
funereal events, so deadly to their own people, is suffici- 
ently wonderful. That men called Christians can read them 
with calm approbation, is still more melancholy; for this 
is the training of mind which steeled all Europe to cruelty 
under the name of religion. This has lit up hell-fires in 
Christendom ; this has perpetrated treacherous massacres un- 
known 1 to Paganism ; this has bequeathed, even to the pre- 
sent age, a confusion of mind which too often leads those 
who are naturally mild and equitable, to inflict hardship, vex- 
ation, degradation and loss on the professors of a rival creed. 
Until men learn that Jehovah neither does, nor ever did, 
sanction such enormities as Elisha commanded and Jehu exe- 
cuted, they will never have a true insight into the heart of 
Him, who is the God of the Pagan as well as of the Jew. 

1 The slaughter of the Magians at the accession of Darius son of Hystaspes, is 
the only event of antiquity which might seem analogous to St. Bartholomew's eve. 
The more spiritual the forces of a religion, the more deadly is their perversion ; 
and precisely because the old Persian belief is too pure to be called Paganism, it 
is credible that its persecutions may have shared in Christian atrocity. But in 
truth we do not know the details of the Magophonia sufficiently to reason 
minutely about it. Certainly it was not a contest of pure opinion, but also a 
contest which of two races should possess imperial power. 

In reply to the gross attacks on my good faith by a reviewer, I affirm that 
nothing in antiquity, known to me, approaches the Inquisition in conception or 
in consequences, as an organized, treacherous, cruel system of punishing secret 
conscientious opinion. Paganism has abounded with atrocities ; and certainly 
I have nowhere disguised them : but no Pagan teachers could have infused into 
Christianity the horrible mischiefs which the consecrating of Jewish history has 
superinduced. As for the persecutions by Pagan Home, they were totally 
different in character ; the earlier ones being the arrogant cruelties of mere 
despotism, while those from Trajan downwards were open attempts, increasing 
in violence, to dissolve an organized society, which was sincerely believed (and 
as the result showed, most justly believed) to be dangerous to the state. 




THE improvised epilogue by which Queen ATHALIAH crowned 
the murders of Jehu, transferred to Jerusalem the worship 
of Baal, as soon as it was suppressed in Samaria. However 
hearty the zeal of Jehu to slay every priest and votary of 
Jezebel's god, yet without the organized experience of a 
Spanish Inquisition, a radical destruction was physically im- 
possible : and to whom else would the survivors flee but to 
the daughter of the murdered queen ? Nor, if her furious 
passions had allowed her to debate what part she should 
choose, was it now well possible for her to avoid professing 
to be her mother's avenger. As a princess of Israel and of 
Tyre, she had no claims on the allegiance of the house of 
David; she could hardly hope to conciliate the Aaronite 
priesthood, all whose greatness had sprung from the supre- 
macy of that house ; nor could she affect to avenge the princes 
of Judah, when she had herself slain the heirs to the throne. 
She could therefore only appear as the champion of Jezebel, 
of Baal, and of the slaughtered house of Ahab. Ill-omened 
and frightful as such a vixen must have seemed on the throne 
of David and Solomon, the people were too panic-struck, too 
much afflicted with calamity, to move against her. The royal 
race having been cut off, whom could they set up as king ? 
and what new murders might not arise from displacing her ? 
While therefore they submitted in silence, she put forward 
the priests of Baal into high station, and perhaps before long 
flattered herself, from the public inaction and tranquillity, that 
all were contented with her sway. 

But the lapse of a century and a half had been preparing 
the PRIESTHOOD of Jerusalem to act an independent part. 
Its pusillanimous behaviour under the early kings, like that 
of the English House of Commons under the Tudors, had 
saved it while its strength was immature ; and the honours it 
received under Asa and Jehoshaphat confirmed its veneration 


among the people, without awakening the jealousy of their 
two departed successors. The Priests and the Levites were 
now knit together in Jerusalem by very close bonds, and their 
influence was beginning to pervade social life. The Priestly 
system indeed may be described as already adult ; but that 
of the Levites was quite in its infancy. Their chief business 
was still to attend on the temple service ; and our older com- 
piler seldom names them, in the places where the more credu- 
lous and less candid Chronicler gives them great prominence. 
This may nevertheless be the place to explain the position 
towards which the Levites were tending, and which they at 
length attained. 

Like the Brahmins of India and the Sacerdotal Caste of 
Egypt, they included many whom we should call Profes- 
sional or Learned men ; as also many whom we name Civi- 
lians in the State, by way of contrast to the Military. The 
ascendency of sacerdotalism in Judaea was therefore in part 
similar to the ascendency of civil over military power in 
European government. The difference is this, that in Israel 
the scribes and notaries, judges, lawyers, attorneys, and all 
literary men, gradually came to be united by the bonds of 
religion ; after which they may be said to have had two watch- 
words : worship Jehovah only ; and worship him by the in- ] 
tervention of Priests and Levites. By intermarrying princi- i 
pally with themselves, they became at last almost a heredi- 
tary caste : what they were originally, it is impossible to say. 
The only Levite of whom a particular account is given in the 
times of the Judges, is described as of Bethlehem, and of the 
family of Judah 1 . In Greek and Roman history, nothing is 
commoner than to find organizations of men, united by reli- 
gious rites, which imply their descent from a common ances- 
tor, the hero or demigod of the clan, when there is neverthe- 
less every ground for believing that adoption has furnished 
more members than natural increase. Nor is it possible to 
trust the alleged genealogies from ancient patriarchs, when 
it is most manifest that they are incomplete and erroneous 
even in those times, the chronology of which we know. Al- 
though a High Priest existed at Jerusalem without breach of 
continuity from Solomon to Josiah, there is not a single priest 
named in the course of the history whose pedigree is satisfac- 

1 Judges xvii. 7. 


torily made out 1 ; yet undoubtedly those of a later period were 
very anxious to establish their descent from Zadok. The head 
of the order, at the time of Athaliah's usurpation, was named 
Jehoiada; of whose ancestry nothing whatever is known 2 . 
The kings of Judah dealt with the temple-patronage much as 
the kings of Europe have done with bishoprics. They be- 
stowed it according to their inclination or judgment, public 
opinion confining their choice within certain limits, but on 
no account did they follow the hereditary principle. With 
the gradual development of sacerdotalism, the families perhaps 
became fewer and fewer out of which a choice could decor- 
ously be made ; and at last the line of Zadok obtained a cele- 
brity with which no common Aaronite could compete. 

At the time of which we are treating, the course of events 
itself assures us of the high political consideration which the 
priests (though not as yet the Levites) enjoyed. In the ab- 
sence of any representative of David, there was nothing else 
round which the nation could rally ; so that Jehoiada at this 
moment was little less than an Eli to it. Fortunately Atha- 
liah, as a woman escaped out of the harem, had no suspicion 
how the ecclesiastics or the people were minded ; and she left 
Jehoiada and his associates in the entire enjoyment of their 
dignities. The votaries of Baal did not revenge on the priests 
of Jehovah the violence which they had suffered from Jehovah's 
prophets ; which, at this crisis, they perhaps could have done. 
But Jehoiada and his friends were saved by that in their pre- 
decessors, which we hardly know whether to censure as luke- 
warmness, or (in comparison with the prophets) to approve as 
humanity. Hitherto at least it would seem, that the priest- 
hoods of Jehovah and of Baal, when alike enjoying state- 
establishment, had lived in decorous mutual toleration, in 
contrast to the fierce enthusiasm displayed by the prophets, 
the Puritans of that age. If however this was a stain on Je- 
hovah's priests, the time was now come for their representa- 
tive to wipe it off, though without such frenzy as Elisha had 

Athaliah had reigned six years, when Jehoiada' s plans of 
revolution were complete. He had gained the queen's guard 
and the captains of some other military bodies ; and having 

1 See Appendix to this chapter. 

2 The same name is given (by the Chronicler) to the head of the " Aaronites," 
who came to join David at Ziklag. 


brought them into the temple, took an oath of them and 
opened his plot. He informed them that the late king 
Ahaziah had a young son yet alive,, saved by the princess 
Jehosheba, sister of Ahaziah. At the time of the massacre, 
the child had been but a year old, and had ever since been 
hidden in the house of Jehovah. He then produced the boy, 
whose name was JEHOASH. In the temple (as we now inci- 
dentally learn) a number of shields and spears, called king 
David's, were kept hung up, as in many temples of the Greeks 
and Romans. A sufficient number of the guards were brought 
into the temple unarmed, and were at the critical moment 
furnished with these ; then, having sounded the trumpet and 
proclaimed Jehoash king, they slew Athaliah as soon as she 
came out to see the cause of the rejoicing. Jehoiada next 
held an assembly, at which he induced the people to bind 
themselves by a public covenant to Jehovah, to be His pecu- 
liar nation. From this the transition was not great to an 
attack on Baal and his priests ; which, however, our record 
ascribes to " all the people," without stating that Jehoiada 
distinctly urged it. The temple of Baal which Athaliah had 
built was pulled down ; the images and altars were thoroughly 
broken ; and the chief priest Mattan was slain in front of the 
altars. If these two lives were alone taken, it was a singu- 
larly bloodless revolution. 

There are several points of detail in the narrative, which 
would bear more comment than can here be afforded. The 
day on which the slaughter of Athaliah is said to have been 
perpetrated, was the sabbath; a word which we now meet 
for the first time in the history of the monarchy. That on 
every seventh day there was at the temple special service to 
which the people nocked, and sacrifices of greater splendour, 
cannot be reasonably questioned. The sacrifices and other 
offerings formed a large part of the food of the priestly and 
Levitical families in attendance on the temple; for which 
purpose they were cheerfully contributed by the pious, as well 
as provided by public money. By the great concourse of 
people to the temple on this day, Jehoiada's plot was facili- 
tated ; which in itself implies that there were as yet no such 
scruples about sabbatical observances, as grew up after the 
times of Nehemiah. 

We are farther told, that upon proclaiming Jehoash king, 
they set a crown upon his head, and presented him with the 


testimony, or as others render it, with the law. This appears 
to be a continuation of the primitive constitutional practice, 
recorded of Samuel, who when he installed Saul into the 
royalty, " told the people the manner of the kingdom, and 
wrote it in a book, and laid it up before Jehovah." Some 
written document was certainly presented now to Jehoash, 
describing the duties, rights and powers of the king ; which, 
we can scarcely doubt, tended to define and limit the pre- 
rogative, to mark out the claims and privileges of the priestly 
order, and secure a more constitutional government than had 
hitherto prevailed. At the same time, the earnest genius of 
the Hebrew religion assures us, that the book contained moral 
rules and laws for the real executing of right between man 
and man. In the Pentateuch itself we have several fragmen- 
tary systems of law 1 , which clearly formed parts of earlier 
books ; and it is quite a possibility that the very code which 
Jehoiada delivered to his young charge, has been incorporated 
with our modern Bible. 

That when the ancient Hebrews spoke of the " Book of the 
Law," or even the " Law of Moses," they did not intend any- 
thing so voluminous as the four books which we name Exo- 
dus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, or even the same 
with the omission of the historical parts, is very clear from a 
narrative in the compilation which we call the book of Joshua, 
We there read 2 , that Joshua built an altar of unhewn stones, 
and wrote upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses ; and 
afterwards read aloud all the words of the law, " even every 
word which Moses commanded," to the whole congregation, 
with their women and little ones. To write upon unhewn 
stones may appear an arduous task, but it admits of explanation 
from Deut. xxvii., which makes virtual reference to the pas- 
sage already quoted. The stones were to be first plastered 
over with cement, by which a smooth surface might be ob- 
tained. Still, with the rude alphabet of antiquity, the largest 
altar that we can conceive to have been intended would take 
in but a few chapters of a modern Pentateuch ; which by the 
compactness of our stereotype editions beguiles men into for- 
getting how cumbrous and unreadable a book it (as a whole) 
practically is to the mass even of an educated nation. 

1 Such a system is Exod. xxi., xxii., xxiii. 1-19 ; which ends with a frag- 
mentary decalogue. Such again is Levit. xix. ; also Levit. xxvi. 

2 Josh. viii. 30-35. 


Nevertheless, there are circumstances which make it not 
improbable, that the earlier books of the Pentateuch were 
composed, or their most important materials compiled, not 
later than the regency of Jehoiada ; although (as will after- 
wards appear) extreme difficulties lie in the way of supposing 
that the commands and threats against having graven images, 
high places and some other things, were as yet read in any 
avowed and authoritative form. But about three generations 
later unequivocal proofs appear that the outline of history, as i 
presented in the modern Pentateuch, was generally received. 

It is impossible to attain grounds for any confident opinion 
whether the young Jehoash was or was not a real son of Aha- 
ziah ; though there are general topics which may incline us to 
disbelief. Cruelty and jealousy are very keen to discover their 
victims. Athaliah knew perfectly the number of her son's 
sons ; and must have been aware, if the last-born infant had 
escaped her sword. The age being accurately known, to 
bring the young child up " in the temple" under her very eye, 
would be peculiarly difficult. On the other hand, those who 
guaranteed the truth of the story, of whom the king's mother 
Zibiah must have been not the least, had everything person- 
ally to gain by deception, and every possible facility of de- 
ceiving. The nation itself would rejoice to believe ; and all 
prudent men who suspected something wrong, would in very 
patriotism hold their peace. Even had rumours of distrust 
been noised abroad, no whisper of them was likely to find its 
way into the pages of our historians. If we could believe, 
with the Chronicler, that the princess Jehosheba was the wife 
of Jehoiada 1 , the probability on this side would be still farther 
enhanced ; and it might even be surmised that the boy was 
their son. But in any case they would probably select for 
the throne a child of the line of David. 

The king being only seven years old, Jehoiada became sole 
regent during the long minority. In these years of unchecked 
sacerdotal power, it might have been imagined that the Law 

1 We have no right to dislocate this statement from another, that Jehoiada 
was 130 years old when he died, 2 Chron. xxii. 11, xxiv. 15. This makes him 
full ninety when Ahaziah was slain, aged twenty-three. Ahaziah, being only 
eighteen years younger than his father, could not well be younger than his sister. 
Thus the priest would be about seventy years older than his princess ; which 
makes the marriage itself, as well as any issue from it, incredible. Both the 
", affinity and the wonderful age of the priest seem to be fictions of the 
' 3ler to glorify his greatness. 



of Moses would be closely enforced as regards the "high 
places." But we have here the vindication of all the kings of 
Judah against the incessant complaints of a later age : even 
the zealous and applauded Priest Regent acted in this matter 
exactly as the Kings. During the time of the young king's 
dutiful submission, it is still recorded 1 , " The high places were 
not taken away ; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense 
in the high places." As no effort on the part of the Priest 
is alluded to, nor any opposition on the part of the people, it 
may seem doubtful whether the Levitical body themselves 
had yet conceived the ambition of forbidding all local sanc- 
tuaries and all worship over which they did not preside 2 . The 
High Places were clearly beyond their jurisdiction : in fact 
we have not a particle of contemporaneous or otherwise trust- 
worthy evidence, that even in Judah the Levites were at this 
time settled in cities through the land. We have the fullest 
proof which is possible for a negation, that neither Priests nor 
Levites were as yet a body of local religious teachers. The 
worship of Jehovah still consisted in singing of hymns and in 
external pageantry, such as burning of incense and offering 
sacrifice ; and centuries had to pass before Public Prayer, with 
Reading and Teaching of the Law, was systematized. 

One consequence of the revolution which expelled the wor- 
ship of Baal, not noted in the history, but discoverable in 
the extant prophets, was, the alienation of Sidon, Tyre, and 
all the Phoenician confederacy, from the two Hebrew king- 
doms. Their rapid growth in wealth and civilized art during 
the whole reign of David, and the former half of Solomon's 
reign, had mainly depended on the good understanding kept 
up with Tyre. Under the immediate successors of Solomon, 

1 2 Kings, xii. 1-3. The Chronicler (2 Chron. xxiv. 1, 2) copies word for 
word the two first verses, and wilfully omits the third, as less honourable to the 
priest ! This is literary dishonesty quite disgraceful. It is more like to con- 
scious falsehood than to mere party prejudice. 

From 2 Kings xxiii. 13, which shows the buildings of Solomon to Astarte, 
Chemosh and Milcom still standing, we infer that Jehoiada's zeal was limited to 
practical exigencies, and did not spend itself on buildings as such. 

2 The worship at the high places implies that the people did not assemble at 
Jerusalem for the passoverj for it is distinctly stated that it was celebrated at 
the high places by the separate priests, 2 Kings xxiii. 9. 

It will be seen that afterwards the worship at the high places became more 
corrupt, and it was suppressed for other than ceremonial reasons. " Hold to 
the Levites," then became the cry of good men, as "Hold to your Bishops," in 
the ancient Christian church. In avoiding the immediate evil, the far greater 
evil of destroying freedom and individual energies was overlooked. 


no breach of amity with Judah can be traced, although inter- 
course was more difficult while Philistia was a precarious pos- 
session. But now that a Tyrian princess and her daughter 
had been slaughtered, and the worshippers of Tyrian deities 
exterminated, no Phoenician merchants would be likely to 
venture their persons into the Hebrew territories, and the 
uniting influences of commerce ceased. In fact, commerce 
itself became a source of enmity ; for Tyre and Sidon were 
among the greatest slave-marts of the world ; and when Phi- 
listine marauders succeeded in carrying oft" (as became very 
common) whole troops of miserable Jews, the Tyrian mer- 
chant was at hand in the Philistine ports, to ship off the cap- 
tives to the coasts of Greece, Italy or Carthage 1 . Another 
course which the slave-trade took, is imperfectly explained 
to us; the captive passed from the hands of the Philistines 
or Tyrians through those of the Edomites 2 , probably to the 

But we must revert to the affairs of Samaria, where JEHU 
reigned ingloriously. It had been easier to turn the national 
force against unarmed and unsuspecting princes and priests, 
than to repel the foreign foe against whom his murdered 
master had stationed him. In fact, the same voice of the 
prophet which called away Jehu from before B/amoth of Gilead, 
laid open the whole land beyond Jordan to be overrun by 
Hazael's chariots. A usurper, intent on exterminating royal 
houses and entire religious sects, needs to gird his own throne 
with his most trusted guards, and has little strength to spare 
against the foreigner. No one can wonder to hear that the 
king of Syria, whose position at Bamoth had already inter- 
cepted the tribe of Beuben, now not merely established his 
dominion over that tribe, but conquered all Gilead and Bashan, 
and shut Israel up to the west of Jordan. Two-fifths of his 
territory, and of his available fighting-men, were lost to the 
king of Samaria by this severe and irretrievable blow. No 
help could be expected from Judah. In the first six years, 
while Athaliah was there in power, the queen probably rejoiced 
at the calamities falling on her mother's murderer and the 
persecutor of her religion : and after her fall, the prudent 
priest who swayed public affairs remembered too well the un- 
happy result of Jehoshaphat's campaign with Ahab. A feel- 
ing had probably diffused itself in Judah, that an alliance 
1 Joel iii. 4-6. 2 Amos i. 6, 9. 


with Israel was unlucky; for nothing of the kind is again 
attempted down to the capture and ruin of Samaria. 

King Hazael found eager and fierce auxiliaries against the 
unfortunate Israelites in their eastern neighbours the people 
of Ammon 1 . The old controversy about the limits of their 
land, which they had mooted against Jephthah, was not yet 
forgotten; and the horrible destruction of their nation by 
David seemed to make revenge, when within their reach, a 
pious duty towards their murdered ancestors. A peculiar 
cruelty, shocking to name, is more than once alluded to in 
this implacable war, as suffered by the towns of Israel ; their 
pregnant women were sought out, and slashed open by the 
malignant victors. The people of David were thus to learn, 
that crime begets crime, and that its punishment too often 
falls on a comparatively innocent generation : yet their pro- 
phets always allude to the atrocities of Edom and Ammon 
against Israel, as if utterly unaware that it had been provoked 
by David, their pattern -prince. 

No more is told us of Jehu, than that he reigned twenty- 
eight years. On referring to the chronological table in p. 135, 
it will appear that 143 years elapse from the accession of Jehu 
to the destruction of the Samaritan monarchy; of which 
period the house of Jehu held the kingdom 103 years. So 
long a tenure of power, long, in contrast to the other dynas- 
ties of Samaria, is stated by our better historian 2 to be a 
reward from Jehovah to Jehu for his massacring the descen- 
dants of Ahab. And it may be thought, that the house of 
Jehu continued for three generations on an excellent footing 
with the whole body of the prophets, when we find Jehoash, 
grandson of Jehu, address the aged Elisha in terms of more 
than devoted filial respect. 

The son of Jehu, by name JEHOAHAZ S , was naturally still 
more helpless than he against the Syrian monarch ; inasmuch 
as Hazael's power on the east bank of Jordan enabled him 
to invade the western country by crossing where he pleased. 
Although no particulars are given of his inroads, the general 
summary is perhaps only the more trustworthy. We learn 
that he left to Jehoahaz only fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and 
10,000 footmen 4 ; words which seem to mean, that he kept 

1 Amos i. 13. 2 2 Kings, x. 30. 3 Accession in B.C. 835. 

4 A real army of 10,000 infantry is far more than we can believe Jehoahaz to 
have kept on foot. But the historians are so accustomed to large enumerations, 


the king of Samaria in a certain dependence, dictating to him 
what military force he should be allowed to keep up. It will 
presently appear that Hazael also exercised the right to march 
through the country when he pleased ; so that, on the whole, 
the first steps to entire dominion were taken. Israel was, in 
some sense, become a province of the Syrian empire, governed 
however by its native king, who paid homage and undoubtedly 
tribute to the great monarch. This result was not brought 
about without severe struggles and immense loss on the part 
of the Israelites, of whom it is said, that " Hazael had de- 
stroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing." 
The calamity of war, in the reigns of Jehu and his sons, was 
aggravated by other causes 1 . A great drought and a dreadful 
plague of locusts fell within this period. Famine also and 
pestilence are named, which indeed may well have been a re- 
sult of the war itself. 

As the " dispersion of Judah" began with the revolt of 
Edom and the marauding incursions of Edomites and Philis- 
tines which followed it, so the " dispersion of Israel" began, 
but on greater scale, with the wars of Hazael. When that 
prince found that the Israelites were too high-spirited and too 
uncongenial to be turned into obedient subjects, our know- 
ledge of all antiquity, and of the conduct of the other Asiatic 
monarchs, justifies the inference, that upon storming various 
towns of Israel, great numbers of the inhabitants were sold by 
him into slavery. Whole families of the more educated Is- 
raelites, who thus found their way to the rich and cultivated 
nations beyond the desart, would be likely to communicate 
from time to time with their lost country : and this accounts 
to us for the comparatively familiar acquaintance, which, two 
generations later, we find to have been current in Israel, with 
the great cities of the Tigris. And so sweeping had been 
HazaeFs conquests, that the fear of a general transplantation 
of the whole nation was already rising before the minds of 
thoughtful men. The depression of Israel continued through 
the whole reign of Jehoahaz, concerning which nothing else 
has come down to us 2 . But before passing to his son's reign, 
we must resume the history of Jerusalem. 

that, in comparison, this appeared little. On the other hand, he must have 
had very much more than 10,000 men of military age, if that interpretation be 

1 Amos iv. 6-10. 

2 In 2 Kings, xiii. 4-6, three mysterious verses occur, which may be a later 


About 130 years had passed since Solomon first built his 
celebrated temple ; in which time, even under the dry climate 
of Judaea, some external dilapidation of a building may have 
occurred, enough to make repairs requisite. Moreover, the 
feet of multitudes may have greatly worn away the cedar 
floors. Jehoiada at least thought the state of the sacred edi- 
fice reasonably to demand his care; for it cannot have been 
without his instance, that the minor king ordered collections 
to be made from the pious, with the express object of repair- 
ing it. The funds to be appropriated to this object seem to be 
described as threefold: 1. Dedicated gold, whether stamped 
or unstamped, which existed in the temple. 2. The money 
levied on the people, like our church rates. 3. Additional 
sums, which might voluntarily be paid into the temple trea- 
sury. But when it is added that the priests are " to take the 
money, every man of his acquaintance," it is left doubtful 
whether this is identical with the third source of supply, or 
whether (as the Chronicler has enlarged and expounded the 
words) the priests were to perambulate the land and make 
special collections everywhere 1 . Be this as it may, the account 
is clear, that years and years passed, during which the priests 
continued to receive money from the people 2 , but totally neg- 
lected to apply it to the repairs of the house. Such unfaith- 

interpolation. 1. They so break the connexion, that they can hardly have 
formed part of the original writing. 2. They represent Israel to have been 
delivered from Syria at Jehoahaz's repentance and prayer ; without hinting that 
the deliverance did not take place in his lifetime. This is opposed to v. 22 of 
the same chapter. The vague mention of a saviour who delivered them from 
Syria, cannot reasonably be referred to the king Jehoash ; and, on the whole, 
looks like the writing of a man who had no accurate acquaintance with the his- 
tory. The unknown antagonist, who crippled the power of Benhadad, is pos- 
sibly intended. 

1 2 Chron. xxiv. 5, 6. Indeed the Chronicler, as usual, thrusts Levites for- 
ward, when the book of Kings knows only about priests. He also represents 
the law of Moses to have supplied the pattern : but not lung like it appears in 
the other record. 

2 The Chronicler dishonestly omits the fact, that the priests actually received 
the money, and lays upon them no other guilt than that of neglecting to make 
the collections. He also imputes the "breaches of the house" to the wilful act 
of " tfhe sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman," who had also " bestowed all the 
dedicated things upon Baalim." But Athaliah's sons would have been sons 
also of her husband Jehoram, unless we impute a most bold adultery to her as 
queen, (and indeed in her early days,) and suppose that she could dare now 
publicly to bring forward her spurious offspring. To interpret her sons as 
meaning any mere votaries of Baal, appears like an evasion. In any case, they 
were not likely to make halfwork with the temple. If they had wished to dila- 


fulness need surprize no one. The priestly body had risen in 
political position, but without an increase of pecuniary re- 
sources proportioned to their advanced rank ; and every cor- 
poration of men thus vested with power finds the temptations 
to peculation irresistible. Nevertheless, as time went on and 
the neglect continued, the king could at last endure it no 
longer. It was not until he had attained the age of thirty 
years, having nominally reigned twenty-three, that he 
gained strength of mind for personal conflict with his bene- 
factor, tutor, and regent ; and having called for Jehoiada and 
the other priests, he pointedly asked what had been done with 
the money. Finally, a compromise was made ; the past was 
not inquired into ; in future the priests were to receive no 
moneys for the purpose of repairs; but by the side of the 
altar was set a box with a hole in its lid 1 , into which the peo- 
ple cast their offerings. From time to time, the king's own 
scribe, conjointly with the high priest, took out and counted 
the money, arid with it employed carpenters and masons to 
execute the necessary repairs. The funds thus obtained were 
barely sufficient for the work in timber and in stone : nothing 
remained to spend on gold and silver vessels 2 ; a fact, which, 
as we shall see, may have soon become even matter of congra- 

The affair just narrated exhibits the priests in no favour- 
able light, and might furnish matter of triumph, alike to those 
who suspect or hate all religious profession, and to those who 
believe all priesthood to be priestcraft. But happily we now 
come upon the domain of contemporary literature, which gives 
a new aspect of the ecclesiastical body then ruling at Jeru- 
salem. Although Israel abounded in prophets more than 
Judah, yet those of Israel appear to have been men of action 
rather than of books. Jerusalem furnished an endowed priest- 
hood, and therewith the opportunities of literary leisure ; 
consequently, from it has come down to us the first extant 

pidate it, they would have chosen to ruin it, and would not have left Jehoiada 
in his place. 

As the book of Kings is silent, the whole statement must be looked on as a 
fiction of prejudice. 

1 This substitute for the method before used, seems to prove that the order 
to perambulate the country is the Chronicler's invention. 

2 Nothing can be clearer than 2 Kings, xii. 13, but it is directly contradicted 
by the Chronicler, in xxiv. 14, who thought it a bad example to later times, to 
confess that the collections had not been very liberal. 



prophetical writing 1 , the production of JOEL, son of Pethuel. 
It has been conjectured that he was himself a priest of Jeru- 
salem ; at least his whole tone is thoroughly sacerdotal 2 , and 
implies that he stood in the most intimate relations with the 
priests, between whom and his school no one can imagine 
any diversity of feeling to have existed. His prophecy is re- 
markably fluent and finished in style, so as to indicate that 
such writing had already received great cultivation ; and al- 
though the paucity of political allusions makes it impossible 
to fix its date with nicety, there is much reason to believe that 
it was penned during the ascendency of Jehoiada. This beau- 
tiful and striking composition tends to give us a very high 
opinion of the best men among the contemporary Jerusalem 
priesthood. So far is it from the narrow Levitical bigotry, 
which would appropriate all religious eminence to a certain 
race, that it boldly and rejoicingly anticipates a time when the 
spirit of Jehovah shall be poured forth over all flesh : when 
young and old, male and female, shall enjoy the same direct 
communion with God, which he was believed to impart by 
dreams and visions to his most favoured servants. That time 
(it declares) will indeed only be ushered in by awful physical 
convulsions, such as earthquakes and volcanos are known to 
produce, yet in the midst of these the " remnant " shall be 
saved, who seek to Jehovah in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem 3 . 
Although we know distinctly, that the worship of Jehovah at 
the high places, without Levites, was at this time practised in 
Judaea, Joel drops no word of disapproval concerning it, nor 
can we find out from his writing that anything approaching to 
idolatry was apprehended by him in the land. This decidedly 
confirms us in the belief, that Levitical ambition had not yet 
developed itself. The sacred duty of supporting the altar is 
indeed strongly inculcated by this prophet; yet not more 
strongly than the utter vanity of all lip-service and outward 

1 The English reader is exposed to the greatest disadvantage by the extreme 
defects of the English translation of the prophets, besides the confused order 
and erroneous divisions. The references made in this work will not always ap- 
pear quite to the purpose in the common Bible. 

2 Thus ii. 14, the very first use to which a starving people is to apply the 
renewed fertility of the soil is, to make a meat-offering and drink-offering to 
Jehovah their God. We do not find in him any of the indignant disclaimers 
of sacrifice, which are met in other prophets. See Amos (v. 21, 22), his next 
extant successor. 

3 It is remarkable to find, in this first extant outburst of prophecy, the idea 
of an elect people in the midst of Israel itself, thus distinctly formed already. 


show of religion. " Turn to me, saith Jehovah, with all your 
heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning ; and rend your 
heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Jehovah your 
God : for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of 
great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." 

The particular cause which called forth this eloquent 
prophet was a prodigious descent of locusts, which so de- 
voured the crops as to cause wide-spread famine. According 
to his statement, every species of plant suffered. At least he 
enumerates the wheat and the barley, the vine and the fig, the 
pomegranate, the palm-tree 1 , the apple. Meat-offerings and 
drink-offerings could not be furnished for the altar. The 
barley-grass and the barley having been destroyed, the cattle 
had no fodder ; and as a general dry season conspired with 
the other calamity, the flocks of sheep found no pasturage, 
and the very beasts of the wilderness pined for their accus- 
tomed streams of water. The locusts are described in a highly 
poetical, yet an impressively correct similitude, as an army of 
horsemen from the north, ravaging the land, hiding the face of 
the sun, clambering over the walls, leaping in at the windows ; 
and the people are called upon to see and acknowledge Jeho- 
vah's own mighty hand in this unavoidable calamity. Where 
human exertion has no place left for it, he suitably calls on 
them to make it a time of peculiar supplication to their God : 
not indeed with the stupid conceits which under such an in- 
fliction a Greek imagination might have devised, nor with the 
ferocious sacrifices for which Italians and Gauls would have 
called ; but with the outpourings of pure hearts and the lamen- 
tation of simple souls. The priests, as ministers of Jehovah, 
are called upon to take the lead in the public sorrow, and the 
nation is comforted by the assurance that their God will not 
thus afflict them for ever. The result of restored prosperity 
is to be, that wide diffusion of Jehovah's spirit among the whole 
nation, before alluded to, and a concussion of all nature, 
through which the pious and chosen ones shall nevertheless 

1 It grew principally in the plain of Jericho, but there may have been a few 
other favoured spots. 

The fourth verse of the prophecy has been understood to mean that the 
palmer- worm, canker-worm, locust and caterpillar were the plagues of four suc- 
cessive seasons ; but the best interpreters regard these words as descriptive of 
the locusts at different ages ; so that the whole is only declarative of the long 
duration of their ravages, beginning from the month in which they are as cater- 
pillars, and lasting until they are full-grown. 


be preserved. From this topic, the prophet passes off to the 
judgment on foreign nations, especially Tyre, Sidon and Phi- 
listia, for driving off into slavery the defenceless Hebrew 
population, who are sold to the Greeks for a trifling price. 
The violence of the Edomites also is denounced 1 , who have 
shed innocent blood in the land. For these sins a day of 
vengeance is predicted, when Jehovah shall gather all the 
nations to the place where he will judge them (by name, the 
valley of Jehoshaphat, perhaps an imaginary place ; for the 
word" means " Jehovah is Judge"), while Judah and Jeru- 
salem shall dwell for ever in holiness, separation and pro- 

In this prophet we see strikingly the tender influences of 
adversity. He has neither the selfglorifying tone which a too 
successful career often gives, nor the fierce desire of revenge 
which personal sufferings from enemies excite ; but as one who 
endures more from God than from man, and knows that love 
is at the bottom of all the chastisement, he is melted, and not 
hardened by it. While he contemplates with desire and hope 
the coming destruction of all the men of violence, there is 
nothing in his writing to nourish malignant passion, or give 
just offence to Charity. 

We return however ;to king Jehoash. In spite of his ge- 
neral respect for his instructor, his discovery how the moneys 
collected from the people had been appropriated, appears to 
have commenced feelings of distrust towards the advisers of 
his boyhood ; and at length a positive feud arose between the 
royal and the priestly party. It did not break out in its full 
violence until after the death of Jehoiada ; but there can be no 
doubt that the king had conceived a bad opinion of the priests 
and had become uneasy in his trammels. When it was clear 
that they had been abusing their power, it was inevitable for 
him to consider farther that this power was a recent and acci- 
dental result of his unhappy orphanhood ; and he would look 
upon it as a usurpation, which it was his duty to put down. 
Thus instead of a joint constitutional action between King 
and Priesthood, a violent struggle for supreme power com- 

1 Egypt likewise is threatened, but the words leave it doubtful whether they 
are regarded to have helped the inroads of the Edomites. 

From this time forth, the " bringing back the captivity of the people," or re- 
covering them from slavery, is a constant burden of the prophets. 


Before this could work out its results, Hazael, king of Syria, 
marching at will across the territories of the prostrate king 
of Samaria 1 , made his appearance entirely on the other side 
of Jerusalem, in the country of the Philistines. Here he 
besieged and captured the important city of Gath; after 
which he prepared to march upon Jerusalem. The physical 
strength and riches of Judaea were undoubtedly impaired since 
the time of Jehoshaphat. As for the ravages of locusts, they, 
though very severe, are indeed temporary. But the battle at 
K/amoth had been to Judah what that of Leuctra was to the 
Spartans. Though the loss was trifling, its moral effect on 
the subject states had been great. The Edomites and Phi- 
listines, with other marauders, had ever since looked on 
Judaea as their spoil, and far beyond the direct wounds they 
inflicted, must have been the damage done by hindering cul- 
tivation. Neither Jehoiada nor Jehoash were warriors ; and 
the blood-feud against Edom, which David had provoked, 
forbade the reign of piety and mildness to be one of peace 
and happiness. Nevertheless, there had been a great multi- 
plication of forts 2 , which, like the walls of Aurelian, though 
denoting conscious weakness, served as protection from the 
barbarian. Under Jehoiada and Jehoash the land had enjoyed 
(it would seem) prudent government ; and if the people had 
been united, they might perhaps have offered a successful resist- 
ance to such an army as Hazael had with him before Gath 3 . 
But Jehoash felt the priestly schism to palsy the hearts and 
hands of his people ; and as one reared in the temple, and 
living always in his own court, he had no enterprize for war. 
He adopted therefore the more prudent plan of pacifying the 
Syrian king by gifts of homage. The treasures of the temple 
had not been used for the repairs of the building, nor put into 
the hands of the priests. Since the day when Asa emptied 
the sacred store-room to gratify the first Benhadad, new ac- 
cumulations had taken place, both during the brilliant reign 
of Jehoshaphat, and during half a century since. Sparing 
therefore neither royal nor sacred treasures 4 , the king sent 

1 Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz, appears just to have come to the throne. 

2 See 2 Chron. xi. 5-12 ; Hosea viii. 14. 

3 Yet on the contrary, the better success of this prince in war may have been 
owing to liis not using so large and pompous armies as his predecessors. The 
Cluxmicler speaks contemptuously of the smallness of his force, 2 Chr. xxiv. 24. 

4 According to Chr. xxi. 17, the Philistines in Jehoram's reign rifled the 


them off to make his peace with Hazael ; and the Syrian 
monarch, whether really satisfied and soothed, or conscious 
that his army was unequal to the task of reducing Jerusalem, 
marched away without farther hostility. 

But the conduct of Jehoash, if we can trust our informer, 
must have kindled into fury the priestly dissatisfaction. The 
pride and the dignity of the body were alike concerned in the 
splendour and wealth of the temple, which it is every way 
probable that the late priest Jehoiada had sedulously fostered 
and augmented, but which their own king had now lavished 
away on the public foe. Although not yet old (for his age 
was forty-seven), he was in a bad state of health. A conspi- 
racy was formed against his life, and he was slain on his bed 
by two assassins 1 , whom our more sacerdotal authority de- 
scribes as avengers of the priestly cause 2 . 

The general account which we have here given of the pro- 
gress of the feud, depends principally on the facts furnished 
by the book of Kings. But these appeared insufficient to the 
later historian, who states that immediately on Jehoiada's 
death, the princes of Judah came and ingratiated themselves 
with the king, and obtained his leave to worship images of 
Astarte and other idols ; that when prophets from Jehovah in 
vain protested, Zechariah the son of Jehoiada (a priest full 
eighty years of age) was filled with the spirit of God, and 
publicly rebuked the people ; that thereupon a conspiracy was 
made, and the people, by the king's command, stoned Zecha- 
riah to death in the very court of Jehovah's house. In pu- 
nishment for this murder, Hazael was sent up by God against 
Jehoash, and his own servants presently slew him. Such is 
the addition made by the Chronicler ; but it is far more likely 

royal, but not the sacred treasures. But this account must be received with 
some uncertainty. 

From Joel iii. 5, it appears that the Philistines and Phoenicians had plun- 
dered " silver and gold" from Judsea, and dedicated it in their own temples. The 
words might naturally mean that they had plundered the temple at Jerusalem ; 
but perhaps this is not necessarily implied. 

1 As if, after all, ashamed to put upon any true Jew the unpleasant work of 
king-killing, the Chronicler curiously informs us, that the mothers of the assa* 
sins were, one an Ammonitess and one a Moabitess. 

2 B.C. 818. One of my critics who professes a belief in the verbal inspira- 
tion of the Chronicles, is angry that I here believe the Chronicler. I confess 
it is from the wicked Gibbon that I have learned a mode of investigating truth 
which my critic seems to think malevolent, viz. to lean towards believing all 
the evil which men tell of their own party, and to believe all the good which 
they tell of their adversaries. 


that this is an invention to exculpate the priestly party from 
having commenced murder, than that the older compiler should 
have omitted facts so important to a Jehovist, so heinous, and 
so characteristic. Indeed, the general applause 1 bestowed by 
him on Jehoash appears fully to justify our refusing belief to 
any part of the story. 

The murder of their king betrayed, in the priestly faction, 
not only moral turpitude, but a conscious weakness. Unsup- 
ported by territorial Levitism, they were not an order, or even 
a party in the state, but (from their fewness) merely a respect- 
able or formidable coterie. They were certainly not yet equal 
to a direct contest with the royal power, which was strength- 
ened by the atrocious deed which their best members must 
have deeply regretted. AMAZIAH, the son of Jehoash, found 
no difficulty in ascending the throne without the aid of the 
priests 2 , and having buried the murdered prince in the royal 
sepulchres 3 , took vengeance on the murderers 4 . 

Both in Samaria and in Jerusalem a young king now 
reigned, each of higher spirit than his predecessors, and in 
more fortunate circumstances. Amaziah, in his early prime 
(for his age was twenty-five), finding himself master of the 
kingdom of Jehoshaphat, proposed to chastise the marauding 
Edomites, and recover them to the yoke of Judah. In some 
respects reminding us of Jehoshaphat (to whom however he 
was inferior in prudence), he strictly confined himself to mo- 
notheistic worship, tolerating no pagan impurities. The priests 
either feared his energy, or applauded his heroism and up- 
rightness ; and the people must have rejoiced in the hope of 
checking the cruel Edomites. The peaceful and priestly exte- 
rior of the last reign was superseded once more by martial 
tumult. That a powerful host was really assembled we cannot 

1 2 Kings, xiv. 3. " Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of Jeho- 
vah, according to all things as Jehoash his father did" The qualification, "yet 
not like David his father," is a stereotype reservation of primacy to David, but 
nqt implying such guilt as the Chronicler imputes to Jehoash. 

"* B.C. 818. 

3 2 Kings, xii. 21. This is distinctly denied by the Chronicler, 2 Chron. safe \/ 
25, as in the similar case of Jehoram. 

' It is added, that in obedience to the law ofMoses^ Amaziah did not put to 
death the children of the murderers ; for which the compilers quote Deuter. 
xxiv. 16.. It is a pity that Elisha had not the same advantage of reading Deu- 
teronomy as these writers had, for perhaps he might have then spared the in- 
nocent descendants of Ahab. 


doubt ; but it is tedious to quote the monstrous exaggerations 
of the Chronicler 1 . Idumsea however was invaded. In the 
Valley of Salt, the old battle-ground of Joab and Abishai, 
an obstinate conflict took place, with total defeat of the 
Edomites, whose loss was estimated at 10,000 men 2 . It is 
difficult to deal with such numbers. Whether it is worth 
while to compromise, and say that dispersion was mistaken for 
slaughter, is very uncertain. Since however the Jewish 
king got possession of his enemy's metropolis, the strong and 
rocky town called Selah 3 , it is clear that the victory, whether 
more or less bloody, was really decisive. The Edomites still 
maintained themselves in Elath, on the coast of the Red Sea ; 
but as in the prophet Amos their chief seats are alluded to as 
in the distant cities of Bozra and Teman, we must suppose 
that these events helped once more to unpeople Mount Seir. 
Thus Idumsea itself was for the time under the power of the 
victor, and the immediate fear of Edomite incursion was 

Meanwhile JEHOASH the king of Israel, who ascended the 
throne two years before Amaziah, had met with still more 
unlooked-for successes. From causes wholly unexplained, the 
power of Benhadad, who had succeeded to the throne of his 
father Hazael, shrank into sudden insignificance. In fact, for 
more than half a century the power of Damascus vanishes 
with Hazael from the Hebrew horizon, as if annihilated by 
some great revolution. We must not too hastily attribute 
this to the prowess of king Jehoash and of Israel. If they had 
struggled successfully, crippled as they already were, against 
the undivided power of Syria, it would be strange indeed 
that no other memorials of such a war of freedom should sur- 
vive than our extant dry notices. Some personal weakness in 
Benhadad may have assisted the result, but the action of fo- 

1 He gives Amaziah " 300,000 choice men, handling spear and shield," and 
makes him hire "100,000 mighty men of valour out of Israel for 100 talents of 
silver." In David's wars he made the Ammonites hire 32,000 chariots with 
1000 talents of silver ; 1 Chron. xix. 6, 7. Some unhappy students take these 
numbers as valuable statistical information. 

?. A single 10,000 does not satisfy the Chronicler's largeness of heart: he likes 
to improve a story. He therefore makes Amaziah fling a second 10,000 from 
top to bottom of the rock, " so that they were all broken in pieces." 

3 Selah (the rock) is believed to be the remarkable city called by the Greeks 
Petra, under Mount Hor. It is about half-way between the Dead Sea and the 
Gulf of Akaba. Bozra is commonly placed in the Hauran, but perhaps wrongly ; 
Teman is supposed to be on the east of Idumsea. 


reign powers upon Damascus must surely Lave been the mov- 
ing spring of the whole. Had Hamath rebelled, and with- 
drawn from Benhadad the power of Hollow Syria ? or did war 
with Northern Syria or Mesopotamia hamper him ? Or was 
the might of Nineveh thrusting in this direction, and its arm 
already long enough to clutch at the provinces of Benhadad 1 ? 
Whatever the cause, it was shortly discovered by the Israelites 
that the new king of Damascus was a very different antago- 
nist from his father. 

A single phrase 2 hints to us the condition of the eastern 
tribes of Israel under the power of Hazael. They were not 
properly conquered, but were kept down, and cut off from the 
rest of the nation. The Syrians had overrun the country and 
possessed themselves of all the unwalled villages, nor could 
the Israelites freely rove about in tents, as was natural to gra- 
zier tribes ; but the principal cities had held out, like so many 
garrisons, and preserved the name and hope of Hebrew inde- 
pendence. The land of Bashan, though open and exposed to 
an inroad of cavalry or chariots, had only so much the more 
carefully 'been furnished with strongly-walled towns. Sixty 
cities, with high walls, gates and bars, were celebrated as in 
the land of Og, the giant-king ; and even the exaggerations of 
legend are likely to have had a basis in the existing features 
of the country. Such fortresses remaining unsubdued, a rapid 
revolution might at any favourable moment overthrow the 
Damascene power. Where the first shock was received is un- 
certain, as is the whole course of events, both as to space and 
time. As far as can be made out, the first struggle took place 
on the west of Jordan, for cities which Hazael had taken from 
Jehoahaz. When Benhadad came, as usual, with chariots, 
and selected a favourable position, previously well-known, near 
Aphek, on the slope of Esdraelon, Jehoash encountered and 
defeated him. In two other unfavourable engagements Ben- 

1 Since the above was written, Colonel Rawlinson's partial decipherment of 
the Nimrood Obelisk adds to the probability that the last is the true hypothe- 
sis. Zoba and Hamath are both named, as attacked by the Assyrian king, in 
Rawlinson's translation ; but the chronology is still highly uncertain. 

2 2 Kings, xiii. 5. " The children of Israel," when delivered from Syria, 
" dwelt in their tents, as beforetime." That is to say, while under Syrian 
oppression they did not dare to move about in tents, but remained shut up in 
their cities. 

This is in a passage which has been already noted as a probable interpola- 
tion ; yet it must be very ancient, and shows the view taken of their position by 
an early writer. 


hadad lost all the cities west of Jordan, which had been gained 
in the preceding reign, but (as appears) still held his ground 
on the opposite side of the river. 

Meanwhile, the king of Jerusalem, exulting in his triumph 
over Idumaea and confident in the bravery of his troops, in- 
dulged the fancy that he was to recover the empire of Solomon 
over all Israel ; and in a chivalrous spirit sent a message of 
defiance to Jehoash, inviting him to battle. The disdainful 
retort of the Israelitish monarch has deserved preservation, as 
illustrating the still homely and quaint spirit of the nation. 
He replied to the king of Judah, " The thistle that was in 
Lebanon sent to the cedar, saying, Give thy daughter to my 
son for a wife. Then a wild beast of Lebanon passed by, and 
trode down the thistle/' But accepting the challenge, Jehoash 
marched down upon his rival, and encountered him near Beth- 
shemesh of Judah. A battle took place, in which the Jewish 
army was entirely worsted; and Jehoash, following up his 
success, captured the unfortunately boastful king, and entered 
Jerusalem itself without farther opposition. He then pulled 
down the fortifications of the city for a length of 400 cubits ; 
plundered whatever gold and silver was to be found, not spar- 
ing consecrated vessels; and having taken as many hostages 
as he pleased, returned to Samaria 1 . 

Jehoash, dying in the meridian of life 2 , left to his youthful 
son JEROBOAM II. a kingdom animated to a new conscious- 
ness of vigour. The victories achieved over the Syrians and 
over the conqueror of the Edomites stimulated the Samaritan 
power to a belief in its high destiny ; and the first object pro- 
posed was to recover the trans- Jordanic possessions of Israel. 
Who then wielded the sceptre of Damascus is wholly unknown. 
The son of Hazael, if alive, must have been aged, and no suc- 
cessor is named 3 . One thing only is certain, that when Jero- 

1 The Chronicler does not know how to imagine such misfortunes occurring 
to Amaziah, except as a punishment for pagan idolatry ; hence he interpolates 
a tale, that after the conquest of Edom the king had brought back the Edomite 
gods and worshipped them. A prophet, of course, rebukes him, at which 
Amaziah is angry : the prophet predicts woe coming on him, etc. 

But all this is set aside by the emphatic statement in the Kings, " He did 
that which was right in the sight of Jehovah," etc. ; 2 Kings, xiv. 3, and espe- 
cially 2 Kings, XT. 3, written on a retrospect of his reign. 

2 B.C. 804. 

3 Amos (i. 4.) speaks only of Hazael and Benhadad, although he wrote full 
seventy years after the accession of Jehu, when Hazael must have been in the 
prime of manhood. 


boam crossed the Jordan, the eastern tribes, which had not in 
the course of two generations forgotten their Hebrew feelings 
and connexions/ gladly shook off the Syrian yoke. The short 
notices left us concerning the " very bitter affliction" of these 
tribes, while beneath the Syrians, may suggest that (as so often 
in ancient warfare) the masters of the open country perpetu- 
ally distressed the dwellers in the cities by carrying oft" their 
cattle, cutting down their fruit-trees, and burning whatever 
crops (although generally pastoral people) they might happen 
to raise. But by such methods the Syrians, if in many cases 
they forced surrender, yet left behind a spirit of enmity, eager 
for retaliation. Accordingly, the work of Jeroboam seems to 
have been very easy. The whole land was recovered, from the 
defile of the Leontes to the Dead Sea, and not a single city of 
Israel was left under Syrian rule. 

Nor was this all. So prostrate was the Damascene power, 
that Jeroboam conceived the idea of attacking it at home, and 
taking vengeance for its long oppression of Israel. He met 
with entire success. Entering Damascus as a conqueror, he 
marched through the land of Hamath (or Hollow Syria?), 
and was fondly believed by his people to have re-established 
the glories of David. The men of Jerusalem desired to appro- 
priate a part of his renown ; and the historian, who has con- 
cisely handed do\vn the facts, ingeniously observes, that " Da- 
mascus and Hamath were won back for Judah 1 by means of 

A fragmentary notice, by a contemporary prophet, of Jero- 
boam' s war against the Moabites has perhaps been recovered 
by the acuteness of a modern expositor 2 . Isaiah has sub- 
joined to it an epilogue of two verses, and by this accident it 
has been preserved with his compositions (xv. xvi.). From 
this dirge of battle it is dimly made out, that during HazaePs 
occupation of Ramoth-Gilead the Moabites moved northward 
over the Arnon, and became masters of a large part of the 
tribe of Reuben ; but that Jeroboam (though this is the un- 
certain point, WHO is the conqueror) not only expelled them 
from Israelitish ground, but assailed them at home, stormed 
their two chief cities, Ar and Kir, in the night, and (it would 
seem) pushed his frontier to the southern limit of the land, 

1 2 Kings, xiv. 28, De Wette's Translation. 

2 Hitzig. He believes the prophet to be Jonah, son of Amittai. 


where Idumsea was supposed to begin. The prophet recom- 
mends the miserable Moabites to put themselves under the 
protection of Jerusalem, where a merciful and righteous king 
reigns in the tabernacle of David, and to send tribute of lambs 
from Selah in Edom; implying perhaps that the Moabites 
were to occupy the land which the Edomites had evacuated. 
It is however intimated that Moab is too proud to accept such 
terms, and that more slaughter still will come on those who 
have escaped. The time of this is not certain ; but in the 
chronology which we have preferred, the righteous king of 
Judah must probably mean TJzziah. This prophecy is vigor- 
ous and massive, but wanting in all religious interest. The 
name of Jehovah is not found in it, and but for the ethical 
description of the king of Jerusalem, it might have been writ- 
ten by a mere heathen. 

The very meagre notice which we have of this long and im- 
portant reign is happily filled out by the far more valuable 
writing of the contemporary prophet Amos. The contrast is 
most striking between Amos and his only extant predecessor, 
Joel. The latter exhibits the more finished cultivation of Je- 
rusalem, and writes in his own free and fluent diction, as is 
habitual to an educated man. But Amos, even when his 
thoughts are his own, is fain to borrow words from another. 
As if from some inaptitude in beginning and ending his para- 
graphs, he is too apt, like a Homeric rhapsodist, to chant out 
the burden of his heart in stereotype monotony. Neverthe- 
less, he is to the historian a more serviceable informant than 
his predecessor. Joel indeed writes as a pious priest of Jeru- 
salem, acquainted only with the domestic affairs of his peo- 
ple ; but Amos is a man of the world, whose eye travels over 
distant countries ; who meditates on the cities of the Tigris 
and " Hamath the great/' even in the midst of his religious 
anxieties. The personal history of Amos., as picked up from 
himself, is of interest. He had been a keeper of cattle in the 
wilderness of Tekoa, a southern district of Judsea, and a dresser 
of sycamore-trees. He was neither a prophet nor reared 
among prophets ; but while following the herd in this southern 
district, he felt himself called by the Most High to migrate 
into the kingdom of Jeroboam in order to prophesy against its 
sins. In reproving these, he gives us a great insight into the 
actual condition of the people. 

It may be suspected that the violent suppression of Baal- 


worship by Jehu turned the current of impure superstition 
into the channel of the still supported state-religion. Those 
who would have been BaaFs avowed votaries if they had 
dared, now insinuated their favourite practices into the sanc- 
tuaries of Bethel and Gilgal 1 ; so that, by the time of Amos, 
the calf of Bethel was an idol almost equally demoralizing 
with the images of Baal and Astarte. If this had been the 
case at Jehu's accession, the vehemence of the prophets could 
not have flamed out so exclusively against Baal; we must 
therefore believe the result to have come about during the 
century of Jehu's dynasty 2 . As soon as a national religion 
has become a source of corruption, the worst prognosis of the 
public disease may be justly formed : the Greek proverb here 
applies When water chokes, what must one drink after it ? 
Nevertheless, other causes had conspired to bring mischief 
upon Israel. The " war to the knife" which they had car- 
ried on against Ammonites and Syrians must in itself have 
been very brutalizing, particularly to the eastern tribes, who 
had suffered longest and worst from it. In the general dis- 
tress, the poor had been driven to the necessity of borrowing 
from the rich : the rich, hardened by their own losses, exacted 
their debts mercilessly, and often used their legal power to 
sell the debtor into slavery 3 . " Ye have sold the righteous 
for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes/' is the prophet's 
reiterated complaint. We might almost believe that the 
wealthy creditors, whom he stigmatizes as kine of Bashan 
(i. e. pampered cattle), had become rich by usury ; for in such 

1 Dan is not named, but Gilgal takes its place. Bethel (house of God) is 
often called, in this prophet and in Hosea, by way of contempt, Beth-aven 
(house of vanity'). 

2 In 2 Kings, xiii. 6, is a remarkable statement, that in the time of the son of 
Jehu "there remained Astarte in Samaria." Is it possible that Jehu can have 
rooted out Baal and left Astarte ? Had not this stolen back in the second 
generation ? 

3 Arnold (Hist. Kome, vol. i. p. 135) draws a pleasing contrast between the 
cruelty of Roman law and custom against innocent debtors, and the mild 
wisdom of the law of Moses. Unfortunately we are without the means of ascer- 
taining how far the Mosaic law (as we read it) was either observed or known by 
the Israelites of this date. Of the liberation of Hebrew slaves after seven 
years, and restoration of land at the jubilee, we hear nothing in the prophets. 

The prohibition of all interest, which Arnold admires, is not so wise as it was 
well-intended. Men who are hard-hearted enough to extort from another's 
necessities a really unfair rate of interest, will not be so liberal as to lend for 
nothing but the chance of loss. Such a law prohibits any from lending who are 
not generous and rich enough to give. 


times of trial neither law nor custom will make men lend on 
any but usurious terms. The prophet however accuses them 
of fraudulent dealings in general. On the whole it is clear, 
that the attacks of the Syrians had broke down the middle 
class of the nation, and left a wide gap between the wretchedly 
indigent and the rich, whom he describes as building mansions 
of hewn stone, planting for themselves pleasant vineyards, 
treading down the poor, and taking from him burdens of 
wheat ; lying on beds of ivory, chanting to the sound of the 
viol, drinking wine in bowls, and anointing themselves with 
precious perfumes. Nor is it probable that the victorious 
wars of Jeroboam did anything to relieve the pressure on the 
poor. We have no ground to imagine that any system existed 
for paying soldiers an adequate hire, and it may be presumed 
that the poor man, as in ancient Rome, left his field untilled 
while forced to march into a foreign land. The valuable booty 
of war is likely to have been seized by the king and his chief 
officers, while the common man was consoled by the free leave 
given him to rob and kill the enemy from whom he had suf- 
fered. At the end of a successful campaign the poor would 
come home poorer, and the rich richer, than he had gone forth. 
The prophet gives a retrospect of the calamities by which God 
has chastised Israel : famine, drought, blight and locusts, 
pestilence, slaughter by the sword (of the Syrians and 
Ammonites ?), and finally, earthquake, which is probably the 
same as that of king Uzziah ; but as these have been unavail- 
ing to correct, (having, no doubt, been on the contrary great 
causes of moral evil,) he threatens them with a yet severer 
attack from a great nation in the distance. There is no ques- 
tion that he meant the growing power of Nineveh. 

And this leads us to notice the light thrown upon foreign 
nations by the prophecy of Amos. He opens, as might be 
expected, against Damascus, but adds nothing to our know- 
ledge. He speaks of it as independent of Jeroboam, and 
threatens it (as indeed every other nation mentioned 1 ) with 
captivity and utter destruction. Gaza and the other towns 
of Philistia are next rebuked, and after them Tyre 3 , for 

1 The moral weight of these prophets is often hurt, by the unvarying de- 
struction which they pronounce. 

2 Tyre is chided for not remembering Tier brotherly covenant with the He- 
brews. Can this mean that there had been any recent covenant ? Since the 
time of Jehu, such a thing seems out of the question ; and Israel appears first to 


carrying Jews into captivity and selling them to the Edom- 
ites. On Edom, Ammon and Moab, a like denunciation 
falls; and here we learn, that a fierce war had taken place 
between Moab and Edom. The Moabites had captured the 
king of Edom, and " burned his bones into lime;" in recom- 
pense of which the prophet threatens fire in their palaces 
and slaughter to their people. 

Against Judah he has somewhat to say. The town of 
Beersheba was held a sacred spot from the earliest times ; 
and undoubtedly there was always a sanctuary there, at which 
Jehovah was worshipped as at the "high places." Amos, 
perhaps because of the sight which he had had of the corrupt 
worship in the Israelite sanctuaries, speaks more severely 
against Beersheba (which he couples with Bethel and Gilgal) 
than the historians do. He taxes Judah with despising 
the law of Jehovah, and threatens the same fire on its palaces 
as on all the rest. Yet it is hard to think, against the testi- 
mony of the historians, that under Uzziah any strange god 
was worshipped in Judah, or any neglect of Jehovah avowed. 

It appears from Amos, that king Jeroboam held his court 
at Bethel, where he had a royal chapel and a high-priest 
named Amaziah. He also offered sumptuous sacrifices to 
Jehovah, and musical chantings ; of both which the prophet 
expresses entire contempt. The king had a winter and a 
summer palace, one of which perhaps was at Bethel. Ivory 
houses also are named, such as Ahab had introduced; but 
whether belonging to the king or to the wealthy, is not clear. 
This prophet alludes to the forty years' wandering in the 
desart, after coming out of Egypt, and perhaps also to the 
flood which drowned the Egyptians on trying to pass the 
Red Sea ; which makes it probable that the account of the 
Exodus, just as we now read it, was already familiar to the 
nation. He concludes his prophecy by predicting a time 
when the house of David shall recover its sway over all Israel, 
and over that " remnant" of the Edomites which had escaped 
the arms of AMAZIAH. 

To the reign of this king we must now go back. During 
the events which have been narrated, we have no exact syn- 

have cut the bond. So too, when the prophet complains that Edom " did pur- 
sue his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity," we cannot but regret that 
such merciful topics are urged only by the weaker party. Obadiah follows on 
the same track, equally ignoring the history of the feud, 10-14. 


chronisms concerning the Judsean royalty. Although Ama- 
ziah had been set free by Jehoash, when hostages had been 
given, yet the shock to his reputation by the capture of his 
city, razing of the wall, and plunder of his treasure, was such, 
that he must have had much to do to hold his ground against 
the Edomites. He reigned (according to our reckoning) five 
years after the death of Jehoash. Perhaps that time barely 
sufficed him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and re-establish 
his authority over Idumsea, which he bequeathed to his son 
unimpaired. Like his father, in his later years he fell into 
an unhappy feud with some of his own subjects, the cause of 
which is imperfectly indicated 1 . A conspiracy was made 
against him in Jerusalem, and when he fled to the fortified 
town of Lachish, he was pursued thither and slain, in the 
twentieth year of his reign, and forty -fifth of his age 2 . 

His son Azariah, commonly called UZZIAH, aged only six- 
teen, now followed him in the kingdom. We now meet with 
the formula, twice afterwards repeated when a king has been 
slain, that the people of the land took Uzziah, and made him 
King. It seems to denote a breach of continuity in the govern- 
ment, which is supplied by direct popular action as in a Ro- 
man interregnum : but no details are known. In Uzziah' s 
reign of nearly fifty-two years, the meagreness of our better 
compiler is wonderful. One foreign and one domestic event 
comprize nearly all that he gives ; and upon these the Chro- 
nicler has built up more than we can unshrinkingly receive 3 . 
1. The foreign event is undoubtedly a significant one, and is 
set forth as a compendium of the whole reign : Uzziah forti- 
fied the port of Elath on the Red Sea, and occupied it as a 
Hebrew possession. This denotes to us how complete was 
now his mastery over Idumsea proper ; but we are unfortu- 
nately left to conjecture to what purposes he turned the port. 

1 If, against the testimony of the book of Kings, we could believe in Ama- 
ziah's heathenism, we might infer that he was slain for refusing to obey the 
priests' orders, from the Chronicler's words, " After the time that Amaziah 

tivrned away from following Jehovah, they made a conspiracy " But it is 

difficult to judge whether the compiler wrote here from evidence, or by his own 

2 B.C. 799. 

3 Uzziah had, forsooth, a trained army of 307,500 men, under 2600 chief offi- 
cers. Side by side with such exaggerations, we cannot help being somewhat 
doubtful as to his conquest of Philistia and of the Arabians, and as to the 
homage of the Ammonites. Concerning the Ammonites, see the remarks in 
Jotham's reign. 


2. The domestic event is, that he was afflicted with leprosy 1 ; 
on which account he abstained from appearing in public ; and, 
following the example of Jehoshaphat, associated his son Jo- 
tham with himself in joint and coordinate authority. His 
religious character, as a true Jehovist, is praised, with the sole 
qualification that " the high places were not removed." Yet we 
have seen that the prophet Amos looked with severer eyes on 
the worship at Beersheba, the southernmost town of Judah, 
and compared it to the idolatry of Bethel. 

Uzziah succeeded in repressing the attacks of the Philistines 
and Arabians, if he did not actually subdue the towns of Phi- 
listia, as the Chronicler states. His general policy was that 
of vigorous defence. He built towers in the desart and castles 
on his frontier, strengthened the walls of Jerusalem, and pro- 
vided himself against a siege 3 , a necessity which may have 
been suggested by the capture of the city in his father's reign. 
Both by example and by encouragement he fostered hus- 
bandry, planting, and keeping cattle ; and as soon as security 
was better established, a rapid return of prosperity undoubtedly 
took place, which the ravages of one tremendous earthquake 3 
in this reign did not destroy. In contrasting Uzziah and Jo- 
tham with Asa and his son Jehoshaphat, it will be observed that 
those earlier kings held a more powerful despotism, unchecked 
by priesthood ; that their internal wisdom and vigour were the 
same ; and that their foreign policy was different, chiefly be- 
cause of the different attitude and power of Damascus. The 
two later kings must have known how, like constitutional 
monarchs, to yield with dignity, and to rule within fixed limits; 
and by a peaceful, yet energetic administration, they healed 
the wounds of war. 

According to the Chronicler, the Ammonites " gave gifts " 
to Uzziah, and, it is implied, without warlike compulsion. 

1 It was requisite to the Chronicler to invent a sin, which should account for 
Uzziah being struck with leprosy ; and he finds it in the king having dared to 
enter the temple and burn incense, which none but a son of Aaron might do. 
Of this, the book of Kings knows nothing. 

Moreover, when he dies, the book of Kings says that he was buried " with his 
fathers, etc.," according to the usual phrase; but the Chronicler tries to part 
him into a separate place, by the words " in the field of the burial which be- 
longed to the kings ; for they said, He is a leper ! " 

2 The particular description of the engines, 2 Chr. xxvi. 15, may seem to 
savour of a later time. 

3 Alluded to hi Amos i. 1, Zech. xiv. 5. Perhaps it is the same earthquake 
which threw clown or swallowed up some cities of Israel (Amos iv. 11). 



Jotham however engages in direct conflict with them, and 
forces them to pay him annually 100 talents of silver , 10,000 
measures of wheat, and 10,000 more of barley. How they had 
provoked his attack, or how it was possible for the two nations 
to come into contact, is not hinted. The Israelite territory, 
and that of Moab, intervened ; and if Moab also had become 
subject to Judah, the fact could hardly be omitted. As the 
Edomites had removed from their own country so far as to 
Bozra (a place of very doubtful site), we might think of an 
Ammonite migration also ; a migration perhaps into Idumsea, 
which was under the power of Uzziah. If this idea is admis- 
sible, it may explain why Uzziah "received gifts" as their 
natural suzerain, and that a discontinuance of the tribute pro- 
voked Jotham' s attack. It is true that, as the Ammonites 
are here shown to be an agricultural people, we cannot imagine 
them to abandon their own land as easily as roving herdsmen 
might. Yet our information is too incomplete to allow of 
asserting a large emigration to be incredible ; and if the Am- 
monites were still in their own land, we know not how to 
receive the statement of the Chronicler, without believing 
more still; that Moab 1 likewise had put itself under the 
protection of Judah. 

The reigns of Uzziah and his son are practically but one, 
and comprize no less a period than fifty-eight years. Few as 
are the events recorded, it cannot be doubted that many silent 
changes went on in society which we can but imperfectly 
trace. The prophets who follow, especially Isaiah and Mi- 
cah, afford us some important data, by which the course of 
events is in part indicated. The increase of mercantile wealth 
in an unintellectual people inevitably generates an ostentatious 
and rather coarse style of living, and in the wealthy females a 
fastidious attention to dress. The positive vice of drunkenness 
is alluded to, yet is not lashed so severely in Judah as in Is- 
rael : nevertheless we may believe, that the contagious example 
of Israel had its effect in raising the standard of private luxury 
in Judah. As expensive habits became prevalent, and the 

1 This may seem to re-open the question concerning the prophecy in Isaiah 
xv. xvi. Is it certain that Jeroboam was the assailant ? or clear that Moab 
spurned the prophet's advice ? Remembering the fierce revenge of Moab on the 
king of Edom, which Amos rebukes, we might believe the Edomites of Bozra j 
to be the assailants. This will force us to delay the event till the reign of Me- j 
nahem, when it was possible for the Moabites to wander out with their flocks ! 
over the land of Reuben, through the new weakness of the Samaritan power. 


priesthood at the same time advanced in political importance, 
even the priests were unable to resist the powerful tendencies 
towards mercenary aims. In the time of Joel, we saw that 
the prophet and the priest were in perfect harmony ; but all 
the later prophets abound in invective against the priests, who 
are described as bartering truth for money, teaching for hire, 
flattering the rich man, and partaking of his vices. The 
blacker parts of the picture belong to the next reign, or to 
still later times ; yet on the whole we cannot doubt that under 
Uzziah and Jotham the priesthood became more worldly- 
minded, while they also consolidated their position in the 
state. We find also in the same prophets bitter complaints 
against the venality of judges ; and though it may be doubt- 
ful whether this was a new evil, it is an evil which must have 
become more unmanageable, when a judge could not sustain 
the expenses incident to his rank without it, and when priests 
set him the example. It would also appear that the commerce 
with Egypt received a great development under these two 
kings; and, as the trade was open and no longer a royal 
monopoly as under Solomon, the two nations came more 
closely into intercourse. At least we can discern in the pro- 
phets marks of increased familiarity with Egypt, into which 
whole families of Jews migrated, no doubt for the purposes of 
trade. Desirable as this was for worldly wealth, the spiritual 
influence of that beast-adoring, mystery-loving, magic-ridden, 
and priest-led country must have been decidedly degrading to 
the people of Jerusalem. The course of the trade with Egypt 
can only be conjectured. If the conquests of Uzziah in Phi- 
listia are correctly reported, the direct way of the sea-coast 
would obviously be used; indeed peace with Philistia might 
have been at least as serviceable as conquest. But the port of 
Elath, which was retained till the third generation, afforded 
another, though circuitous, transport 1 , whenever the prevail- 
ing winds or Philistine enmity made the Mediterranean dan- 
gerous to the merchant. Although to build " ships of Tar- 
shish " and sail for Ophir was too ambitious an attempt, (for 
in the silence of the historians, we may confidently infer that 
no such essay was made ;) yet small native craft 2 would no 

1 It would be to the purpose to learn, whether wine and oil in goat-skins 
might be drawn u/pon sledges over the rocky soil from Judaea to the port of 

2 I cannot doubt the possible existence of such vessels, without totally disbe- 
lieving the ships of Jehoshaphat and of Solomon : and I have not yet sounded 



doubt, in the fair season, easily run round to Suez, or coast 
along the Red Sea to some other port, by which the exchange 
of merchandize in fixed months would be steadily carried on. 
Altogether, we may conclude, that the old agricultural and 
more confined system was breaking up in Judah, as in Israel ; 
that the nation in general was passing through the necessary, 
yet dangerous, transition into the freer mercantile and polished 
state ; unlearning perhaps many crimes and prejudices, yet 
acquiring also many vices : a process which may be passed 
through with success, if foreign influences are friendly ; but 
which is in general fatal to a small community that is at the 
same time agitated by powerful external hostility. 

Another silent change in Judaea must be suggested, as having 
probably been brought about in this period ; an increased 
familiarity of the people with the art of reading and writing. 
The diffusion of commerce through the nation would assuredly 
effect this. Merchants who keep up correspondence with 
foreign countries must learn this art as a part of their trade. 
And this may be the true reason why written prophecy now 
becomes commoner. In Jerusalem itself, among the priests, 
writing had long been familiar ; hence for Joel to compose his 
short prophecy was as natural as for others to write sacred 
psalms. Amos also, though he had uttered his oracles in Is- 
rael, committed them to writing a little later, and probably 
after his return into Judaea. Towards the end of Jotham's 
reign, however, the number of readers may have so much in- 
creased in all the chief towns, that a prophet had a new sti- 
mulus to written composition. The earliest essays are highly 
poetical. Then prosaic portions are interposed, with short 
narrative. In the progress of time prophecy becomes more 
prosaic, indicating that prose composition was now more fa- 
miliar. At last, actual attempts at continuous history appear. 
This is an order of development quite parallel to that of the 
Greeks, the Arabs, and the Persians. 

There is a small point observable in our historians, common 
to Jehoshaphat and to Jotham, which may deserve to be noted, 
although it is uncertain what it indicates. Every king of Ju- 
dah except Jehoram and Ahaz have the names of the queen- 
mothers annexed : the exception may almost make it appear 
that their fathers had but one wife. It has already been ob- 

the full depth into which that disbelief would drop me. It would exhibit the 
entire reign of Solomon as a mist of delusion, if I rightly judge. 



served, that a check to the abuse of polygamy was first given 
by Asa : we would fain believe that the son of Asa improved 
on his father's example : but the account given in the Chro- 
nicles, of Jehoram murdering his six brothers, if true, suggests, 
that they were born of polygamy. It is at any rate singular, 
that in the two pair of kings who are in other respects exem- 
plary, there should be room for the belief that the latter of 
each pair was a monogamist. Jotham died 1 sixteen years after 
his accession 2 , but only seven after his father, and was suc- 
ceeded on the throne by his son AHAZ. 

Referred to in p. 192. 

JEHOIADA in the reign of Jehoash, Azariah (according to the 
Chronicler) under Uzziah, Urijah under Ahaz, Azariah "of 
the house of Zadok" (in 2 Chr. xxxi.) under Hezekiah, Hil- 
kiah under Josiah, also Elishama and Jehorarn under Jeho- 
shaphat (2 Chr. xvii. 8) are the chief priests named. We 
have in 1 Chr. vi. 4-15 a professed genealogy connecting Za- 
dok with Hilkiah through two Azariahs, and a fragment of it 
with a slight variation and inversion in 1 Chr. ix. 11 ; but the 
impossibility which it involves can only be seen by parallelling 
it with the genealogy of the Kings. 


( Zadok. 
(. Ahimaaz. 
























Hilkiah was about coeval with Josiah's father. Place Aza- 

1 B.C. 741. 

2 It is the misunderstanding of this peculiarity, as Hitzig well observes, 
which has interposed a fictitious interregnum of nine years between Pekah and 
Hoshea. Yet Hitzig does not on this account shorten the chronology, but adds 
nine years to the reigns of Ahaz and of Pekah; in which it is difficult to follow 


riah parallel to Uzziah, to satisfy 2 Chr. xxvi. 20 ; then, since 
Ahimaaz son of Zadok was a strong youth during Absalom's 
rebellion, 2 Sam. viii. 19, and Azariah his son was a prince 
under Solomon, 1 Kings iv. 2, we have only two generations 
in the priests, where the kings show nine 1 . Thus the pedigree of 
Hilkiah is fictitious, and that of the Azariah so pointedly called 
" of the house of Zadok " is not made out. But this is not all. 
The breach between Uzziah' s Azariah and Johanan, which 
here suggests itself, is clear from Ezra vii., where Ezra's gene- 
alogy is traced up to Aaron through Hilkiah. From Hilkiah 
upwards to the Azariah whom we place contemporary with 
Uzziah, the pedigree agrees with 1 Chr. vi., but Azariah is 
made to be son of Meraioth, not of Johanan ; and the series 
upwards runs thus : Azariah, Meraioth, Zerahiah, Uzzi, 
Bukki, Abishua, Phinehas, Eleazar, Aaron, which is copied 
from 1 Chr. vi. 3-6 ; only that there, Meraioth is great-grand- 
father of David's friend Zadok, instead of being contemporary 
of Uzziah. It is then manifest that the priests in Ezra's days 
knew nothing of the early pedigree. Tradition or family 
registers traced back Hilkiah' s descent as far as Zadok his 
grandfather only, without deviation ; then some made Zadok 
to be son of Meraioth son of Ahitub 2 , others made Zadok im- 
mediate son of Ahitub, and continued the pedigree up to Aza- 
riah ; and higher than this nothing was even reported. When 
one catalogue announces this Azariah as son 1 of Johanan, a 
contemporary of Rehoboam, and another makes him son of 
Meraioth, a contemporary to Phinehas son of Eli, they do but 
arbitrarily attach the top of a recent pedigree to the bottom of 
an antique or legendary one. 

In fact, when we find it to be uncertain whether Hilkiah' s 
immediate father was named Shallum or Meshullam, we might 
feel justified in doubting even the lower part of the genealogy. 

1 1 Chron. vi. 10 : " Johanan begat Azariah." The words which follow : " 
it is that executed the priest's office in the temple which Solomon built,'" 
obscure. If 'he' means Azariah, it implies that he was the first high priest 
this race since Zadok. I am really perplexed what to name the boldness witl 
which one of my critics avows that there is in this genealogy nothing wliich Al - 
chronology refutes. At any rate one or other genealogy is false. 

3 1 Chr. ix. 11. 



OF SAMAEIA, B.C. 762-721. 

IN the interval which had elapsed since Jeroboam's career of 
conquest, dark clouds had passed over the ever-varying sky of 
Samaria. Although the house of Jehu reigned for a full cen-r 
tray, and the third and fourth princes of the line had been 
eminently prosperous in war, no national feeling had rallied 
round the dynasty, no powerful sentiment of loyalty had taken 
root. Men could not forget that Jehu had won his royal seat, 
and initiated himself in power, by a tissue of perfidious crime, 
which no prophet's voice 1 could hallow to the popular feel- 
ing. Nor was it easy for patriotism to cement Israel into a 
single whole. Ephraim, Manasseh, and Gilead sympathized 
but imperfectly with one another, and felt more as tribes than 
as a nation. No historical remembrance of David had a thrill 
to their hearts, rebels as they were against the heavy yoke of 
the son of David. Nothing perhaps but hatred of the Syrians 
and Ammonites united them ; and this tie failed when Syria 
ceased to be formidable. Nor do the prophets of Israel seem 
to have retained with the nation any moral weight to throw 
(had they been ever so much disposed) into the scale of Jehu's 
dynasty. The regal authority continued to be the mere rule 
of force, unsanctified by higher principle ; and the princes and 
chiefs, who encircled the throne of Jeroboam, were too pro- 
bably aware that any of them who could displace him by crime 
would meet little resistance from the people. When at length 
the veteran warrior was removed by death 2 , his son and suc- 
cessor Zachariah was in the very next year murdered before 
the eyes of the public 3 . 

The murderer was named SHALLUM, son of Jabesh; who, 
like Zimri, had but a brief tenure of power. One month he 

1 Hosea (i. 4) represents Jehovah as avenging on the house of Jehu the 
bloodshed which the historians would have us believe that Jehovah commanded. 

2 B.C. 762. * B.C. 761. 


reigned in Samaria, and was then slain in turn by MEN AH EM, 
son of Gadi. The son of Jeroboam was thus avenged, yet no 
one thought any more of the house of Jehu ; although we 
have not a hint, either in the meagre narrative itself or in 
any reference of the prophets, that Jehu's descendants were 
extirpated by either of the usurpers. Menahem indeed seems 
to have been a ferocious man, ready for any crime. The rather 
obscure expressions used may imply that the city of Tirzah, 
where the first Jeroboam had his palace and Baasha his 
capital, was the centre of his power. Either he was prince 
of Tirzah, or he commanded a body of troops stationed there : 
even after becoming king in Samaria, he retained Tirzah as a 
citadel or military post for himself. His right to the crown was 
disputed, especially by a town of unknown site called Tiphsah, 
certainly not the Thapsacus on the Euphrates. The ground 
of their resistance to him is not named ; however, by unre- 
lenting energy and savage revenge on these first rebels, he 
established his pretensions over the whole land. 

But he was not to remain long at ease in his new elevation. 
The great event of his reign is the inroad of a distant enemy, 
the rumour of whose terrors had already reached the ears of 
the prophet Amos under the reign of Jeroboam ; the first 
of a series of widely conquering powers, which are vaguely 
named the Universal Empires of history. It is, the rapidly 
rising monarchy of ASSYRIA, which had NINEVEH for its ca- 
pital. Of this some account will here be suitable. 

Nineveh was situated on the eastern bank of the Tigris, 
near 600 miles in a straight line from the Persian Gulf, and 
therefore on a plain of some elevation \ yet it is very low in 
comparison to the lofty country of the Kurds, whose snowy 
ridges and vast peaks rise at no great distance to the north of 
it. The modern town of Moosul marks its site approximately 
on the map 1 . The ruins called Nebi Yunus (Prophet Jonas) 
and Kuyunjik appear to be the best ascertained nucleus of 
ancient Nineveh, still called Ninus in Roman times. We 
have in Diodorus an elaborate account of its vast and 

1 Dr. Layard, whose energetic excavations promise such an ultimate harvest 
of knowledge, thinks Nineveh to have been a fortified province, of lozenge 
shape, some 35 miles across in the longer diameter. I am not yet able to be- 
lieve that Nimrood was part of Nineveh. It is remarkable that Xenophon 
gives us the name Mespila, where we expect Ninus. Possibly Mespila and 
Ninus were Kuyunjik and Nebi Yunus ; as Westminster and London in old 
days. Nimrood is conceded to be the Larissa of Xenophon. 


extensive walls ; but since he makes the capital blunder of 
saying that it was on the river Euphrates, it is manifest that 
he had no trustworthy information, and it is hard to believe 
anything at all concerning Nineveh on the bare testimony of 
this writer. 

Nineveh was separated from Palestine by the whole breadth 
of Mesopotamia, of the Syrian desart, and the Damascene 
territory. The original city was a town of extreme antiquity, 
whose name, like that of Babylon, peers through the clouds 
of legend. The native population is supposed to have talked 
a language deviating but moderately from that of Syria ; yet 
this still remains to be decided, if possible, from a deciphering 
of the primitive monuments. Hitherto, what has been in- 
terpreted of the Assyrian inscriptions, is judged by Kaw- 
linson to indicate a language previously unknown in litera- 
ture, yet of Hebraic affinity both in grammatical structure 
and in elemental words : but this conclusion is apparently 
based on the presumption that the Assyrian language was the 
same as 4;he Babylonian, and it cannot yet be received as a cer- 
tainty. According to others, the wild and hardy mountain- 
eers to the north are the nearest relatives of the Assyrians, 
and the language was related to the old Persian, not to the 
Hebrew stock. The position of Nineveh was favourable to 
greatness ; alike from the goodness of the soil, from the sup- 
ply of water by the rivers which descend from the Kurdish 
mountains, and from the facility of water-carriage down the 
Tigris. Hence from the earliest times, like other great cities 
on the plain of the Tigris and Euphrates, it rose to high pro- 
sperity ; but (as far as can be conjectured) it was then a native 
kingdom only, not an empire. It may indeed have stretched 
its dominion northward over Armenia, or southward over 
Babylon : this may possibly be before long better known. |But 
the tales reported to us by the Greeks of its early and con- 
tinuous wide-spread sway are evidently mere legends 1 . We 

1 Neither Herodotus nor Diodorus nor Justin knew anything of two Assyrian 
empires, each destroyed by a Median empire which succeeded it. This has been 
invented by Bibh'cal students to avoid ascribing error of chronology to the 
Greek reporters of Asiatic tradition. Herodotus indeed expressly says that 
Semiramis was only five generations before the Babylonian Nitocris, mother of 

For Colonel Rawlinson's genius as a decipherer and interpreter, every one 
must feel profound respect ; but supposing direct translation were completed, a 
vast work would remain, in settling the chronological relations, and in deter- 
mining how much of these inscriDtious is to be believed. Colonel Kawlinson 



can only assert as beyond dispute, that this city commenced 
a new career of conquest from nine to eight centuries before 
the Christian sera. The first king who showed himself as a 
conqueror to the eyes of Israel was contemporaneous with the 
vulgar date of Romulus and Remus, and was named PUL by 
the Hebrews. 

The earliest conquests of the rising empire were undoubt- 
edly made to the north and east. Kurdistan, Armenia, and 
ancient Media, which included the modern cities of Ha- 
madan, Isfahan and Teheran, formed the basis of Assyrian 
power : giving to it a breadth and massiveness to which no 
empire previously known to us in Western Asia or Europe 
could pretend. Although these countries afford as fine foot- 
soldiers as any in Asia, cavalry was the arm most important 
for foreign conquest : Media contained the celebrated Nissean 
plains, on which were reared the most splendid horses known 
to the Persian kings, who used them in state ceremonies ; 
while Mesopotamia itself furnished the same Arabian breed, 
whose swiftness we still admire. The Assyrians used chariots 
on the plains of Mesopotamia, and partly in more distant ex- 
peditions 1 ; but they made a larger use of cavalry than the 
Benhadads had done. Their present king Pul (says Eusebius, 
apparently following the Babylonian priest Berosus) was a 
king of the Chald&ans ; which appears to mean, that it was he 
who conquered the great city of Babylon 2 , with which the 
whole of Susiana probably fell into the empire of Nineveh. 
This ambitious prince must previously have turned his path 
to the west and south-west, when he made his appearance 
before the usurper Menahem. 

The Israelite well understood his own helplessness, and 
lost no time in propitiating the invader by the present of 
1000 talents of silver, which was no doubt interpreted as 
tribute, and as a profession of homage. With this the Assy- 
rian king thought fit to be satisfied, and withdrew without 
farther hostilities, being perhaps drawn off" by more important 

seems to have an unsuspecting faith, that an Oriental Emperor's boastful in- 
scriptions are true. If distant posterity ever decipher the court records of the 
late king of Persia, they will there read the name of the king of England 
among his humble tributaries. 

1 Isaiah, xxii. 6. 

2 In the year B.C. 747 begins the celebrated sera of Nabonassar at Babylon. 
It may be conjectured that Nabonassar and his successors in Ptolemy's Canon 
are viceroys of the Assyrians, and that 747 is the date of Pul's conquest of 


conquests. But he did not leave the land, morally, in the state 
in which he had found it. Menahem had obtained the money 
so suddenly, only by direct exaction from all the rich men of 
Israel; and it was inevitable for them to reflect, that the 
tempest which had so lately loured would soon return and 
burst over their heads. Fresh and fresh extortion was fore- 
seen in the future ; nor was there the least hope that the 
enemy could be propitiated by anthing short of total sur- 
render. The rich men of Israel cast about to find a defender, 
and nowhere was he to be found but in the king of Egypt. 
That country could furnish them with that in- which they 
were particularly deficient, abundance of horses, and with 
every kind of military material. From the sea- coast of Israel, 
communication by ship to Memphis or Sais was easy ; and a 
party arose, which was eager for alliance with Egypt, and 
active to promote it by argument and by intrigue. An op- 
posite party, knowing that it was the Egyptian policy to stay 
at home and hold its own frontier, or having some nearer in- 
sight into the distracted state of that country, was confident 
that the Egyptians would never give them succour large and 
hearty enough to enable them to withstand the formidable 
power of Assyria. Hence they regarded this as a mode of 
exasperating their foe, and advocated the policy of cultivating 
his favour before it was too late. Such is the outline of the 
two factions which arose to distract the kingdom probably 
even under the reign of Menahem. With the progress of 
years their views became more sharply defined, and their col- 
lision more dangerous to the state. 

The fierce energy of Menahem repressed all insurrection 
during his life. But when, after a reign of about eleven years, 
he left his throne to his son PEKAHiAH 1 , it soon appeared that 
no one but a military monarch could control the too great in- 
fluence of the army. This predominance must have been 
confirmed from the time of Jeroboam II., himself a warrior, 
like his father. Menahem, we have observed, was probably a 
chieftain of Tirzah ; and PEKAH, son of Remaliah, who assas- 
sinated Pekahiah in the citadel of Samaria, was a chief cap- 
tain of the chariots 2 . 

It might seem as if it had been given to the kings of As- 
syria to avenge the murdered monarchs of Israel ; for as Pul 
had appeared for the punishment of Menahem, so now TIG- 

1 B.C. 750. 2 B.C. 748*. 


LATHPILESER, with still more hostile intentions, came down 
upon the assassin of Pekahiah. This time the Assyrian was 
bent on a double spoil, plunder of the land and captivity of 
its inhabitants. Collateral circumstances suggest, that he 
coveted the persons of the Israelites, not so much to make 
slaves of them as to people his great capital of Nineveh. The 
flood swept over so large a part of the ten tribes, that when 
its violence had subsided, the land of Ephraim seemed to re- 
main as an island in the midst of the stagnant waters ; and 
from this time forth, the name of EPHRAIM is used to express 
the entire northern monarchy. Not only Bashan and Gilead, 
east of the Jordan, but the whole basin of the sea of Galilee, 
was rent away from the sceptre of Pekah. All the booty of 
the land was no doubt carried off by the victor, with as many 
Israelites as he could seize; and it is improbable that after 
his departure Pekah had the means of re-establishing his au- 
thority in the half-empty and disorganized districts. Never- 
theless we find no statement that at this time the Assyrian 
fixed any viceroy on Israelitish ground, and the events which 
follow decidedly prove that he made no attempt to occupy the 
territory even of the eastern tribes, which, as most open to 
his attack, it would have been easiest for him to retain. Such 
is the first great transference of the Hebrew population since 
the time of Moses. Its date is not accurately known, but we 
may assign it pretty nearly to B.C. 745. 

This was an earthquake, which, while ingulfing so large a 
portion of the Israelite people, heaved up the remnant of 
society in lacerated and frightful masses, sometimes dangerous 
from their towering height. So great a convulsion had 
scarcely before been conceived of. Joel and Amos had la- 
mented over families of Israelites captured by roving bands 
of Edom or Philistia, and sold as slaves on the coasts of the 
Mediterranean : Hazael had swept off whole villages or towns : 
this was sufficient misery: indeed the individuals generally 
suffered a worse fate than those whom the Assyrians carried 
away. But the transplanting of entire tribes was a process of 
violence immeasurably greater in its effects. The suffering 
and disorder caused is not to be judged of by those actualb 
captured; inasmuch as for every one that was caught, five 
would be made homeless, helpless, and desperate. The allu- 
sions of the prophets show us, that the unfortunate people 
who escaped the enemy were driven to violent courses, be- 


coming a banditti that preyed upon their own land, upon one 
another, and upon the kingdom of Judah : 

No man spareth his brother. 

He snatches on the right hand, and is hungry ; 

He eats on the left hand, and is not satisfied ; 

They eat every man the flesh of his own arm : 

Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, 

And they together are against Judah. Isaiah ix. 20, 21. 

This dreadful calamity, and the contingent evils to them- 
selves, thrilled through the hearts of the people of Judah, and 
drew forth in Judaea two prophets whose writings survive to 
us. Of these, by far the greater is Isaiah ; the other is of un- 
known name, but we may call him the elder Zechariah 1 , be- 
cause his short prophecy has been accidentally mingled with 
those of Zechariah son of Berechiah. Without their writings 
we should indeed be able to conjecture in general much con- 
cerning the internal state of both kingdoms, but our conjec- 
tures would want confirmation. Isaiah (as he informs us in a 
writing of about this date, ch. vi.) had had a call from Jehovah 
in sacred vision a few years earlier, in the year of UzziaVs 
death 2 , and at that time had received an announcement of a 
great captivity of the land. It does not appear that he had as 
yet actually committed anything to writing ; but soon after 
these events he put forth four (or five) impassioned yet arti- 
ficially composed strophes, lamenting over Ephraim 3 . Each 
strophe concludes with a sort of chorus 4 : 

For all this, his anger is not turned away ; 
But his hand is stretched out still. 

To understand, and therefore truly to sympathize with them, 
we should read with a distinct realization of the crisis for 
which they were written. Mention however is made in them 
of an important personage, who must now be introduced to 
the reader, REZIN, king of Damascus. 

1 Matthew names him Jeremiah in a well-known quotation. To call him the 
pseudo- Zechariah is offensive, as seeming to imply that he has pretended to be 
another than himself. Bertholdt supposes the author to have been that Zecha- 
riah, son of Jeberechiah, who is named in Isaiah viii. 2. The similarity of the 
father's name is certainly striking. See also 2 Chron. xxvi. 5. 

2 B.C. 748. 3 Isaiah ix. 8 to x. 4. 

4 This is found also in ch. v. 25 ; which has suggested that vv. 25-30 ; 
ch. v. really form a part of this prophecy : and this is Ewald's judgment. 


Damascus seemed to have vanished from the history for a 
full half-century, since its downfall under the son of Hazael. 
We do not know whether in the interval it had become an 
Assyrian province; but it must at least have been overrun 
sooner than Israel. Immediately after Tiglathpileser had with- 
drawn from that inroad, it is possible that a general insur- 
rection of the nation, headed by Rezin, took place. Certainly, 
at this crisis Damascus bursts out into short and energetic 
life, the reasons of which, by combining the historical facts 
with the allusions of the prophets, we can conjecture with 
some probability. The personal character of the king, Rezin, 
may have had much to do with it, but the position of affairs 
still more. 

Damascus now stood in the foreground, to bear the brunt 
of Assyrian attack ; and after the recent manifestation of the 
power and unsparing violence of Tiglathpileser, all the states 
which were behind desired to uphold Damascus as their shield. 
If Hamath had previously been disaffected or hostile, concord 
now was re-established. Tyre and the whole Phoenician con- 
federacy are likely to have tendered to Rezin pecuniary sup- 
port, armour, arms and other material of war. Besides this, 
in all the neighbouring districts crowds of ruined men were 
set loose from restraint just as in Bashan and Gilead. If sup- 
plied with money and arms, it was easy for Rezin to raise out 
of these a formidable force ; at any rate, it is certain that he 
does suddenly appear at the head of powerful armies; and 
Isaiah, while writing the elegy to which we have referred, 
imagined Israel to be the game at which the Syrian would 
spring : 

Jehovah shall set up Rezin' s cruel ones against him (Ephraim), 

And shall cover his enemies with mail, 

The Syrians before and the Philistines behind ; 

And they shall devour Israel with open mouth. Isaiah ix. 11, 12. 

But events took quite a different course. From the cloud 
indeed which had gathered along the Syrian frontier, a fearful 
squall came down, as Isaiah had foreseen ; but its rage fell on 
the fair ship of Jerusalem, which was gliding on in summer 
trim, after two generations of peaceful repose. The wolf- 
hearted Rezin was not disposed to eat up the lean sheep of j 
Israel, when the fat kine of Judah were so near ; and he chose j 
to have Pekah as an ally, rather than as an enemy. Their j 
position was very similar. Pekah was doubtless embarrassed by j 


multitudes of houseless Israelites, who, to avoid the Assyrian 
chain, had thrown themselves on the charity of the Ephraim- 
ites and their king. There was no more obvious resource 
than to form them into an army and prey upon the sister 
kingdom, which had been in thriving progress, but never in 
amity with Israel, since the war between Jehoash and Ama- 

Before public hostilities had visibly become inevitable, the 
prophet whom we have named the elder Zechariah composed 
the earlier of his pieces, which is found in our Bibles as Zech. 
ix. x. Although confessedly obscure, especially in the English 
translation, yet if viewed as written at this epoch, many points 
become clearer, and it gains a real historical interest. It 
opens as a declaration against several countries which may 
seem to have been in league : 

" The utterance of Jehovah's word against the land of 
Hadrach 1 ; and upon Damascus it alights (for Jehovah has 
an eye upon men, and upon all the tribes of Israel) ; and also 
against Hamath, which borders thereupon; (against) Tyrus 
and Sidon, because it is exceeding wise 2 ." Yet the most 
severe declarations are against Tyre and the Philistines ; and 
we gather, that the slave-trade by which these two states car- 
ried away the Jews and sold them into the Ionian cities of 
Asia Minor, was still (as in the days of Joel) the point which 
Judah felt most sensibly. The prophet proceeds to declare 
that Jehovah will defend his house (the house of Judah ? ) 
against hostile attacks : that a mighty King shall appear in 
Zion, meek and having salvation, riding on an ass, like the 
ancient judges; who will make away with all the apparatus 
of war, and speak peace to the nations ; will reign from the 
coast of the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, and from the 
brook of Egypt to the farthest end of the land. But before 
that happy time, Jehovah shall appear fighting for his people. 
Their prisoners shall be delivered from the odious dungeon. 
Judah and Ephraim shall be united in battle, and shall vic- 
toriously recover all the captives from the sons of Ion. Israel 
had indeed suffered chastisement for listening to idols, and 

1 This poetical title is not understood. Whether Hadrach is a mythical patri- 
arch, a real king or a god, is uncertain ; as well as what land is intended. If 
it be not a synonym for Damascus, we may think of the Hauran, as geographi- 
cally probable. 

2 De Wette's Transl. 


the goats had been punished for the shepherds' fault 1 ; but 
Judah had been greatly exalted by Jehovah 2 , and made as the 
goodly horse in the battle. In the farther progress of events, 
Judah shall be strengthened and Joseph shall be saved. Their 
God will gather back from far countries especially from 
Egypt and Assyria those who have been dispersed, and will 
plant them again in Gilead and Lebanon 3 . The pride of both 
these heathen powers shall be brought low, and Israel shall 
be strong in the name of Jehovah. 

The distinct notice here given of the large number of Israel- 
ites already resident in Egypt is important; so also is the 
clue to an alliance between Damascus and Tyre, though it is 
remarkable how Damascus vanishes from the prophecy. Of 
still greater moment is the proof that the idea of a Messiah 
had already received such sharpness. It will be observed 
however, that He is distinctly regarded as having the land of 
the twelve tribes as the limits of his proper sway. He is to 
be at peace with the heathen, bnt is not to rule over them ; 
and their power is to be so beaten down that they dare not 
attack him. The severe tone against Egypt a highly friendly 
land is to be imputed to its grovelling idolatry, as well as 
to the remembrance that it was the ancient house of bondage 
to Israel. 

It is not to be imagined that the growth of Rezin reached 
its full height in a single year. It is more credible that sup- 
port came from his allies just in proportion as he became 
stronger, and apparently more able to screen them from As- 
syria ; so that his resources increased after his first successes 
against Judah. Jotham still sate on the throne of Jerusalem 
when the two confederates commenced this eventful war 4 . 
The course of it, and the nature of the case, may persuade 
us, that their first measures were to possess themselves of the 
frontier fortresses, and of such other castles as were important 
for securing their safe passage across the country. Judaea, 
especially at this time 5 , abounded with strongholds carefully 
fortified ; and during the life of Jotham the allied kings may 

1 The people for the fault of the princes or nobles. This appears always to 
be the sense of shepherds in this prophet. 

2 Namely, during the prosperous reigns of Uzziah and Jotham. 

3 Whence Tiglathpileser had driven the population. Lebanon clearly is a poe- 
tical phrase for Galilee, as in xi. 1. 

4 2 Kings, xv. 37. 5 Hosea viii. 14. 


have found enough to do in these preliminary occupations. A 
second and angry piece from the elder Zechariah appears now 
to have been put forth 1 , which bitterly condemns the nobles 
of Ephraim, while boding fresh misery to the people. Under 
the symbol of breaking two staves, he represents Jehovah as 
breaking, first, his own covenant with Israel, and next, the 
brotherhood between Israel and Judah. The prophet, per- 
sonating Jehovah, forswears his office as Shepherd of Israel; 
and after breaking the shepherd's staff, receives from Israel 
the pay of thirty shekels for his past services, and casts the 
money into the treasure 2 of the house of Jehovah. The open- 
ing lines are highly poetical, and betoken something like 
exultation in the devastations inflicted on Israel by Tiglath- 
pileser : 

Open thy doors, O Lebanon, 

That the fire may devour thy cedars. 

Howl, O fir tree ; 

For the cedar is fallen, the mighty is spoiled. 

Howl, O ye oaks of Bashan ; 

For the steep forest is come down. 

There is a voice of the shepherds' howling ; 

For their glory is spoiled : 

A voice of the roaring of young lions ; 

For the pride of Jordan is desolate. 

% Jotham perhaps, as a prudent and experienced man, re- 
mained carefully on the defensive against the superior power 
of the invaders, or death happily removed him at the prema- 
ture age of forty-one, before calamity came on his people. 
He left his kingdom at a most critical moment to his son 
AHAZ, who was only twenty years old 3 . We do not know 

1 Zech. xi. To the same period we may refer Isaiah's prophecy, contained 
in Isaiah xvii. 1-11, which threatens Damascus and Israel as combined powers ; 
yet without indicating that they have as yet effected any mischief against 
Judah. (At least, if we rightly follow Ewald in adding w. 12-14 to the fol- 
lowing chapter.) 

The prophet declares that " Damascus is taken away from being a city, and 
shall be a ruinous heap." If Damascus, instead of being among the most flou- 
rishing towns of Turkey, were at present suffering the same desolation as 
Babylon, a succession of treatise's would dilate upon the fact. 

2 The passage is unintelligible in the common versions, which ridiculously 
render this word the potter. The LXX. translate it by x wt/vr ^P lov ) the melt- 
ing-furnace or foundry ; which was far better. The two Hebrew roots ny to 
mould, and -ivN to treasure up, have been confounded. 

3 B.C. 741. 


how soon the resolution was taken of encountering the allied 
kings in the open field ; but when the country began to be 
ravaged, the cry to oppose them would swell from all sides, 
and an inexperienced youth 1 was likely to rush into the une- 
qual conflict in such a cause, even if not impelled by the 
popular voice. Two battles, each unfortunate, were fought 
by the armies of Ahaz against the two kings separately 2 . 
B/ezin took a great number of prisoners, and sent them off as 
slaves to Damascus, but Pekah inflicted more slaughter than 
Rezin. The account is, as usual, exaggerated beyond credi- 
bility by our informant, nor is it possible to divine the truth. 
According to him, Pekah slays 120,000 men in that one day 3 , 
and carries off from the country 200,000 persons, with much 
spoil, to Samaria. The prophet Oded forbids their enslave- 
ment, and the chief men of the Ephraimites second him 
warmly. Hereupon the captives are fed and clothed, the 
feeble among them are set upon asses, and all are conveyed 
safe to Jericho, and there delivered up safe to their brethren 
from Jerusalem. We may gather that Jericho was now looked 
upon as the frontier city of the Jews on that side. They may 
have perhaps regained it since the fall of the house of Jehu. 

Nevertheless, the war continued in all its rigour. The 
allies now hoped for a real conquest of the country, and (pro- 
bably to avoid the danger of quarrelling over their booty) re- 
solved to set up a new king, their own puppet, in Jerusalem ; 
a man of unknown name, the son of Tabeal. When their 
united armies marched against Jerusalem and presented them- 
selves under its walls, the dismay occasioned was extreme; 
yet the Jews defended their city pertinaciously, and no pro- 
gress was made in the siege. 

Meanwhile Rezin undertook a remarkable exploit, which 
gives us an instructive view of the reach of his power. He 

1 Perhaps to this period we may refer the prophecy of Isaiah which is con- 
tained in ii. iii. iv. 

2 2 Chron. xxviii. 5, 6. 

3 It is added, that a mighty man of Ephraim in this great battle slew Maaseiah, 
son of king Ahaz. But Ahaz being barely twenty-one years old, cannot have 
had a son in the battle. Hitzig indeed, by elongating the reign of Ahaz, adds 
eight or nine years to his age, but this is insufficient. We are forced to proceed 
with him to condemn 2 Kings, xv. 37, as erroneous ; we must next postpone 
the battle till Ahaz shall be at least forty years old, that is, to B.C. 730, and 
then no room is left for half the events. (Hitzig has not, that I know, tried 
to uphold this statement of the Chronicler.) 


attacked the distant town of Elath on the Red Sea, which was 
still held by Jews of Jerusalem. The earlier Benhadads in 
the prime of their might could hardly have ventured on such 
an enterprize ; and we may safely assume that Rezin had the 
goodwill and active assistance, not only of the Edomites of 
Bozra (who are likely to have suggested the attack), but of 
the Ammonites and Moabites, who lay on his route. At 
Elath the Jews were wholly unprepared, and finding resist- 
ance impossible, probably took to their ships 1 , and escaped 
into Egypt. The Syrians kept possession of the empty town. 
After this success it cannot be doubted that the Edomites 
were encouraged to claim the whole country of Idumsea as 
their own once more; though no particulars are preserved 
to us, nor do we even know whether the important city of 
Selah (or Petra) remained in the power of the Jews. Ac- 
cording to the Chronicler 2 , an irruption of Edomites against 
Judah now took place, by which severe distress was inflicted, 
and masses of people carried into captivity. Indeed if we 
receive the prophecy against Idumsea, contained in chapters 
xxxiv. xxxv. of Isaiah, as the genuine writing of that prophet, 
we can scarcely question that the Edomites at this time 
proved, as of old, most deadly enemies to Judah. Bozra 
however and Teman (not Selah) continued to be at this period 
their chief cities. 

In the course of these disastrous times, the Philistines, 
taking advantage of the weakness of Judah, invaded the low 
country, and took possession of six towns with their villages. 
These are enumerated as Bethshemesh, Ajalon, Gederoth, 
Shocho, Timnah and Gimzo ; all of which they retained, as 
Ahaz had no force to spare against them. 

The threat of setting up a new king in Jerusalem, not of 
the line of David, if it terrified the royal circle by its very 
novelty, still more shocked the ecclesiastical body by its pro- 
faneness ; and the prophet Isaiah came forward to re-assure the 
desponding Ahaz. In the vision which first called him to be 
a prophet, Isaiah had been informed that a remnant should 
return of those who were carried away into captivity : and to 
indicate his firm faith in this, he had bestowed on his son the 
name Shear-jashub, which expresses that statement. Taking 

1 It is said that Rezin " drove out" the Jews, not that he captured or slew 
them. Unless they escaped by sea, they could hardly avoid being captured. 

2 2 Chron. xxviii. 17. 


this son with him as an emblem of his own conviction, he 
came before Ahaz, affirmed on the word of Jehovah that the 
confederates would fail of their object, and that "within sixty- 
five years Ephraim should be no more a people." As a sign 
to Ahaz, he added, that a certain young woman should bear a 
son, who would be called Immanuel (or God is with us) , and 
that before this son should be old enough to know evil from 
good, the land should be desolated, by whose two kings Ahaz 
was affrighted. It is not essential for the historian to discuss 
this prophecy from a theological point of view. It at present 
suffices to observe, that in the sense in which alone it was any 
sign to Ahaz, some young woman 1 then alive must have been 
intended, and the child Immanuel must have been looked for 
within a year from that date. The period of sixty-five years 
first assigned was thus shortened into ten or twenty, accord- 
ing as we may be disposed to fix the age at which young 
persons know good from evil. In point of fact, Samaria was 
captured and Ephraim was no more a people, in less than 
twenty years from this time. 

Whether the siege of Jerusalem was continued or not, it is 
evident that Pekah and Rezin commanded the open country, 
and no farther attempt was made to oppose them in the field. 
There is no question that they made war support itself, and 
that the whole land was put under severe demands to main- 
tain and to gratify the hostile army. It is remarkable that 
Isaiah, both now and at other times, remembers brotherly 
feeling towards Israel. He scarcely prophesies more severely 
against it than against Judah, even in the midst of public 
hostilities ; and in his very next piece which survives to us, 

1 Although, it is not stated that Isaiah was accompanied by his wife as well 
as by his son Shear-jashub, yet when we read viii. 1-4, it is difficult to resist 
the persuasion that she was pointed at in the phrase " the young woman." She 
is the prophetess who bears to Isaiah a child, of whom nearly the same is pre- 
dicted as of Immanuel. He is indeed called Mahershalalhashbaz ; but so 
Solomon was called Jedediah at his birth by the prophet Nathan, 2 Sam. xii. 
24. Such names might be multiplied ad libitum. Isaiah speaks of Ms children 
as signs, viii. 18. 

With regard to the Messianic aspect of Immanuel, it deserves remark, that 
no other blessing is promised to Judaea from his birth than deliverance from 
the hostile league ; and the land is, even so, to be desolated by Assyria and 
Egypt making it their battle-field, vii. 17-25. How sagacious an anticipation 
that was, we see by the sufferings of Palestine in the warfare of the Ptolemies 
against the kings of Syria ; yet, in fact, no contest between Assyria and Egypt 
ever took place on Jewish ground, nor did the Egyptians tread upon it till the 
last days of Josiah, when the Assyrian monarchy had vanished. 


he is as full of the sorrows of Jacob Naphthali, Zebulon, 
Galilee as of Judah and of Zion. This may arise from his 
viewing the whole land as Messiah's kingdom, and believing 
that all the tribes will (as Hosea (i. 11) had predicted) be 
hereafter Avon back to Judah. Yet if we are disposed to 
believe that many Jewish captives had really been sent home 
by the Ephraimites safe and unransomed, another influence 
aided this mild and wholesome feeling. 

Upon the birth of Isaiah's second son, who, like the first, 
had been made a sign and had received a remarkable name, 
the prophet uttered a new declaration, that the Assyrians 
should despoil Damascus and Samaria, and overflow into 
Judah. But from this afflicting topic he passes over into 
comforting ones. The districts of Israel which Tiglathpileser 
has ravaged (the circle of the sea of Tiberias, the farther side 
of Jordan, and Gentile Galilee) shall hereafter be made 
honourable. Light and joy shall dawn on the nation. The 
yoke of slavery shall be broken ; the hosts of enemies shall 
be slaughtered and burned up : " for unto us/' says he, " a 
child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government is 
on his shoulder : and his name is Wonderful, Counsellor, 
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." He will 
rule happily and righteously on the throne of David, to esta- 
blish it for ever. Such is Isaiah's first, and perhaps his most 
splendid prophecy concerning a future Messiah. It is very 
strange that the Alexandrine translators 1 so mistook the sense 
as to make the most important passage useless to the Christian 
Church. Concerning the right translation, indeed, there is 
not yet perfect agreement ; and there are some who maintain 
that Hezekiah (who may have been just born) is intended. 

1 They have " Messenger of great counsel ; for I will bring peace upon rulers, 

and health to him:" in place of, "Wonderful, Counsellor, etc Peace." 

Beading from a text of unpointed Hebrew, they seem to have been unable to 
add the vowels aright. The text Isaiah ix. 2 is applied in the New Testament 
to Jesus preaching in Galilee, etc. ; therefore the rest was likely to be used by 
the Fathers, if they had understood it as we do. 

For " Mighty God," almost the first German scholars prefer " Strong Hero ;" 
but Hitzig will not concede this, and says that the word God is used with ori- 
ental laxity. De Wette also maintains our common version. " Everlasting 
Father" has alarmed some, as supporting the heresy of the Patripassians ; but it 
is interpreted "long-lived father of Ms people" according to the formula, "Oh 
king, live for ever !" On the contrary, Hitzig renders the phrase " Father of 
booty," and explains it of a warlike king who distributes booty to his victorious 
army. This certainly agrees with vv. 3-5 which precede, however opposed to 
our old feelings. 


Yet the words are too like those of the elder Zechariah to be 
understood of any lesser personage than the great son of 
David, and Isaiah elsewhere does not anticipate the day of 
Messiah as about to dawn immediately. 

But the most ardent hopes of futurity could not do away 
with the present reality of suffering. The pressure of the 
allied armies 1 at length drove the unfortunate Ahaz to a step 
which appears to have marked him with posterity as a profane 
and wicked king. He sent ambassadors to Tiglathpileser, 
whose power had already been so cruelly experienced by the 
two confederates ; and with the profession of homage, pre- 
sented the silver and gold from the house of Jehovah and his 
own royal treasures, entreating the great king to deliver him 
from the arms of Pekah and Rezin. So the account is handed 
down to us. It may seem extraordinary that the treasure 
reached its destination safely, when the Philistines were hostile 
and cut off access to the sea, and the allies had full command 
of the surrounding land : this may indeed suggest that that 
part of the tale is an involuntary fiction. If Ahaz sent an 
ambassador to tender homage, the historian would infer that 
he sent the sacred and royal treasures also 2 . Not that this 
concerns the question. Ahaz, if his conduct was precisely 
what has been stated, did no more than the pious Asa had 
done before him ; and in any case the Assyrian knew how to 
remunerate his own services. He was ready at the call, and 
perhaps would have paid this second visit without invitation. 
The hour of Damascus was arrived, which Amos had antici- 
pated and Isaiah recently announced. Tiglathpileser came 
down upon it with overwhelming force, slew king Rezin in 
battle, and captured the city. Its delightful country was too 
valuable to neglect ; it probably became an Assyrian province. 
The people (it is said) were carried away and planted in Ar- 
menia, and nothing remained of the great empire of old so 

1 At this time Isaiah.' a first chapter may have been written. The moral de- 
scription suits this reign better than that of Hezekiah, nor can it be inferred 
from the project of setting up " the son of Tabeal" that the allies were not at 
last provoked to commit fierce ravages. The " strangers " of v. 7 may be very 
well understood of the Damascenes, whose speech the Jews did not understand ; 
2 Kings, xviii. 26. 

2 The words of the narrative appear quite like a, formula : "he took the sil- 
ver and gold which was found in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of 
the king's house," etc. 

Josephus, to evade the difficulty of conveying the treasure to Tiglathpileser, 
postpones the gift ; and perhaps he is right. 


brilliant and just now so formidable 1 . We may approximately 
fix this catastrophe to B.C. 738 or 737. 

The king of Israel, bereft of his ally and threatened once 
more by the dreadful Assyrian close at hand, gave Ahaz no 
farther trouble. The remainder of his life is a blank in the 
history ; but we may conjecture that internal broils,, almost 
amounting to civil war, ensued. Murder is a crime peculiarly 
denounced by the prophets of the day. He was slain in the 
twentieth year of his reign 2 , and the twelfth of Ahaz 3 , by 
Hoshea, his successor ; and as no particular blame is fastened 
upon Hoshea, but even a measure of praise beyond what might 
have been expected, it was perhaps no assassination, but death 
in open battle, and not necessarily by Hoshea' s own hand. 

Ahaz, being thus rid of his most formidable enemies, might 
seem free to repel and punish the Edomites and Philistines, 
to whom the Jews were ordinarily more than equal. But 
there was here some secret difficulty. It may be that he was 
thoroughly cured of military enterprize by his first disastrous 
essays ; but it is at least as possible that the tribute demanded 
by the Assyrian kept his treasury empty, and that he could 
prosecute none but a strictly defensive and cautious war 
without stopping the payments to his dreadful patron. In 

1 We should be glad to know whether history has here been made out of 
prophecy, as so often in later times. It is with some doubt that we receive 
the statement that the Damascenes were carried to Armenia; since the his- 
torian may have inferred it merely from the prophecy of Amos. Historically, 
it appears improbable that the country of Damascus was emptied of population. 

Perhaps there is no crisis of the history to which we may so plausibly refer 
the production of the remarkable prophecy, Isaiah xxiv.-xxvii., if genuine^ as 
to that before us. The " lofty city," over the destruction of which the prophet 
moralizes, is in that case Damascus. 

Certain peculiarities of doctrine, as in xxv. 21, xxvi. 19, are alleged to prove 
that it was after the captivity. But Assyria, and not Babylon, is described 
as the power which has inflicted exile on the people (xxvii. 13), and the men- 
tion of Moab in xxv. 10 implies that petty struggles were still going on against 
neighbour states. What can be more likely, than that after the successes 
of Pekah and Rezin, the Moabites may have in turn taken their fling at the 
helpless Ahaz? It may be suspected that the Moabites grew stronger by 
the captivity of Gilead, as that invasion does not seem to have reached them, 
and afterwards by the capture of Damascus. At any rate, Isaiah xvi. 14 
proves that from some cause they had again become powerful after their great 

2 Pekah came to the throne in the year of Uzziah's death, and reigned twenty 
years (both facts are stated) : he therefore died in the twentieth year after 
Jotham became sole Icing. By haste of expression, in 2 Kings, xv. 30, this is 
converted into the twentieth year of Jotham. 

3 B.C. 729. 


hope either to gain some remission or to procure some direct 
military help, and otherwise to show respect, Ahaz paid a 
visit in person to Tiglathpileser when he was at Damascus. 
If the great king's troops escorted him from the lower Jordan, 
after he had crossed it opposite Jericho, the journey was now 
quite safe. Nevertheless, his pains were to no purpose. He 
gained nothing from Tiglathpileser 1 , and incurred new con- 
tempt with the more zealous of his own subjects. 

All consideration of the religious character of Ahaz has 
been purposely deferred, in order that the whole may be 
viewed together. Both the historians are severe upon him 
but the Chronicler, as usual, exaggerates the accusations of 
his predecessor. By far the worst charge against him is that 
he devoted one or more of his children to Molech. This is 
expressed in the older narrative by saying, that he " made his 
son to pass through the fire 2 /' confining it to one son, and 
leaving it doubtful whether life was actually sacrificed. The 
later statement is that he " burnt his children in the fire," 
multiplying the number, and making their destruction a cer- 
tainty : it adds also, that he ' ' made molten images for Baalim." 
The one states that he admired the form of a Damascene altar 
so much, as to set up one in Jerusalem after the same pattern : 
the other converts the tale into sacrificing to the gods of 
Damascus. The one drily notices that he altered the great 
basin of brass by cutting away the pedestal with the brazen 
oxen ; the other (who would have represented this in a Jeho- 
shaphat as zeal for the law of Moses, which forbade such 
sculptures) modifies the story as follows : " He gathered 
together the vessels of the house of God and cut them in 
pieces" The one says that he made an alteration in the 

1 This seems to be the ground of the Chronicler's broad statement, that 
" Tiglathpileser distressed him and helped him not" The uncandid writer con- 
ceals the fact that Tiglath had done Ahaz the essential service of drawing off 
his enemies, and had perhaps saved the line of David from total extinction. 
This was a tale with a bad moral ; so forsooth it was to be suppressed. 

2 It is believed that one or more bonfires were lit, through which the un- I 
fortunate child had to run, and that the ordeal was so severe as to be almost 
necessarily fatal. But in this form of the rite, time would assuredly mollify it. 
Except in a crisis of great public danger, when men's superstition becomes 
gloomy and cruel, the fires would be made smaller and smaller, and parents 
would hope for the merit of the sacrifice without incurring the loss. But in 
the other form of it, when the child was sewn up inside a wicker idol and 
burned alive, or first slaughtered and then burned, there was no power of 
softening it at all. Josephus represents Ahaz as making a " whole burnt j 
offering" of his son. 


two entrances into the house 1 ; the other that he shut up the 
doors of the house, and made him altars in every corner of 
Jerusalem. There is a greediness of scandal here, which 
suggests, that, if the story against Ahaz grew so much between 
the seras of our two narrators, it may also have grown not a 
little between the time of the events and the earlier compiler. 
And other circumstances persuade us that this was the case. 

It is a presumption in favour of Ahaz that the chief priest 
Urijah (who is selected on one occasion by Isaiah as a "faith- 
ful witness to record," viii. 2) promptly agreed to his archi- 
tectural innovations 2 , a fact which the Chronicler dishonestly 
conceals. Nor did any feud arise between Ahaz and the pro- 
phets of his day, as soon after with Manasseh : Isaiah and 
Micah, his contemporaries, both of whom outlived him, are 
totally silent as to any of these charges. Isaiah's genuine 
writings abound with elaborate analysis of the sins of Israel 
and of Judah. He speaks of men having idols of silver and 
gold, of being soothsayers like the Philistines, of seeking to 
wizards who chirp and mutter, as well as of immoralities and 
crimes of- various dye; but he does not accuse Judah of wor- 
shipping foreign gods, of making molten images to Baalim, and 
much less of sacrificing their children to Molech 3 . The deed 
of Ahaz cannot have been a solitary one ; and if Isaiah feared 
to rebuke him personally for it during his life, he might have 
rebuked others, at least after Ahaz's death. Micah has a 
passage (vi. 7) in which a man is supposed to ask the prophet 
. whether Jehovah requires such a sacrifice : the prophet simply 
denies it, without a word to imply that such things actually 
went on at Jerusalem. When it is considered, that if Ahaz 
was a man who deserved no positive commendation from Isaiah, 
the prophet could not anticipate these scandalous imputations 
and directly deny them, his marked silence appears enough to 
acquit Ahaz. In fact, in no place does he charge this king with 
anything worse than want of " faith " which meant, want of 
confidence that Jehovah would support him against enemies 
without human help. The vindication of Ahaz will seem to 
be complete, if we can account for our historians being so pre- 
judiced against him ; and that we are able to do. According 

1 The obscurity is in the words, "for the king of Assyria ;" 2 Kings, xvi. 18. 
It seems to have been done to please him, yet no one would suspect him of 
caring about it. 

2 2 Kings, xvi. 16. 3 In contrast, see Jerem. vii. 31. 


to the principles of both (and eminently of the later one), 
misfortunes imply wickedness : the people of Jehovah could 
not be conquered in war, except because of their sin ; 
hence when their defeat is notorious, the historians must find 
or feign proportionate iniquity. Thus the Chronicler repre- 
sents the defeat of Ahaz by Rezin to be a punishment for 
burning his children to Molech ; which is evidently fanciful, as 
the things have no relation of cause and effect, by which the 
Divine Government is carried on. The power of Rezin rose 
out of widely different causes, and must have been felt by 
Jotham had he lived, except so far as prudence might have 
shielded him. At the same time it is highly doubtful whether 
at that period Ahaz can have had any children to burn. In 
short, his great crime was, that at the age of twenty he could 
could not withstand the simultaneous attacks of Damascus, 
Israel, Philistia, Edom, and perhaps Moab; and that he 
sought for aid to the great Assyrian power, which shortly 
carried Israel into captivity. But neither Isaiah nor these 
historians themselves tax him with violence, tyranny, or un- 
constitutional conduct, nor with any of the crimes which 
stain David and Solomon. His sculptural innovations, how- 
ever tasteful, may have been unwise ; yet he had the sanction 
of the high priest. His later career was not unprosperous. 
At least he left his kingdom to his son HEZEKIAH neither de- 
caying nor disorganized 1 , but re-invigorated by repose for a 
fresh struggle. Nevertheless, the Chronicler pursues him 
even in death 2 , asserting (against the better authority) that 
he was not buried in the sepulchres of the kings. 

As, unfortunately, the history of the Assyrians by Hero- 
dotus has not come down to us, we cannot trace with certainty 
the order of their successive conquests, nor even of their mon- 
archs. Yet, looking to the intervals of time, it appears most 
credible that S ARGON, king of Assyria 3 , who is alluded to only 

1 B.C. 726. 

2 We have seen the same thing in the matter of Jehoram, Jehoash, and (with 
modification) of Uzziah. The Chronicler wishes to accustom his readers to 
the belief, that over the race of David in Jerusalem, nearly as over the kings in 
Egypt (Diodor. i. 72), the priests, supported by the popular voice, had power 
to decide concerning the deceased monarch's burial-place. He says " kings of 
Israel" by carelessness, for kings of Judah (2 Chron. xxviii. 27), nearly as hi 
xv. 17. 

3 Between Tiglathpileser and Shalmaneser we reckon ten clear years unoccu- 
pied (B.C. 738-728), and the interval may have been greater. Between Shal- 


once 1 , followed Tiglathpileser on the throne. The order of 
time and place alike suggest, that after the conquest of Da- 
mascus, the next movement of the Assyrians would be against 
Tyre and the Phoenician confederacy ; which, as we have seen, 
had possibly, by assisting Rezin, given some plausible ground 
of war to the victor. The Phoenicians were wholly unable to 
resist so formidable a foe, and in spite of the determinate re- 
solution of the city of Tyre itself (which, being on an island, 
was inaccessible to the land forces), the chief cities of Phoe- 
nicia professed allegiance to the Assyrians, including the old 
city of Tyre on the continent. The Assyrian general, whose 
name, or rather name of office, was Tartan, then proceeded 
into Philistia, and demanded homage. The only city whose 
resistance is recorded is Ashdod, or Azotus, which in the next 
century endured a siege of wonderful length from a king of 
Egypt. How long it now resisted is not distinctly asserted, 
but Isaiah is understood to imply that it was for three years 
or more. Yet neither Philistia in general 2 , nor Tyre, was yet 
reduced. King Sargon so quickly vanishes from our sight, 
that we may conjecture his premature death to have occasioned 
a sudden return of the Assyrian forces. Besides, the attack 
on those fortresses of Philistia which commanded the passes 
into Egypt began to alarm that power in earnest 3 : the Phi- 
listines had the highest expectations of support from thence, 
and Gaza 4 was looked upon as almost impregnable. 

Nevertheless, the Philistines after a time began to suffer 
severely from the Assyrians; possibly from the garrison of 
Ashdod, but no particulars are given us. In their distress the 
Jews rejoiced, and no doubt began to meditate expelling the 
Philistines from the six cities of Judah. In the year of the 
death of king Ahaz 5 , Isaiah composed a short ode of triumph 
(xiv. 29-32), telling Philistia that she had no cause to rejoice 

I maneser and Sennacherib we can barely command three (B.C. 716-713), and 
I those appear to be all needed for the siege of Ashdod. 

It must be confessed that Rosenmuller, Gesenius, Winer, and all leading 

: authorities, interpose Sargon in the latter interval. Perhaps they would not 

l do this, did they not assume that the two expeditions of the Assyrians into 

Phoenicia, quoted by Joseph us from Tyrian history (Ant. ix, 14, 2), are both 

by Shalmaneser, and both after the capture of Samaria. But why may not the 

former be according to the narration here ventured upon ? 

1 Isaiah, xxi. 1. 2 Isaiah, xx. 6. 3 Isaiah, xx. 5. 

4 See the siege of Gaza by Alexander the Great, in ThirlwalTs Greece, vol. vi. 
[1 p. 204. 

5 B.C. 726. 


M 2 


in the breaking of Judah's sceptre, for her Assyrian master 
was, after him whom she had shaken off, as a flying dragon 
compared to a serpent. Meanwhile the poor of Judah fed 
their flocks in safety, and lodged by night in the open field ; 
while the Philistines suffered famine and desolation from the 
constant alarms in their country. He then calls on every gate 
and every walled town in all Philistia to howl for fear of the 
Assyrian host, which was soon about to march down upon 
them. What reply then shall Zion give to the Assyrian am- 
bassadors 1 , who come to remind her of allegiance and tribute? 
She will tell them (what Philistia cannot reply) that Jehovah 
hath founded her, and that her poor put their trust in this. 
The ode, of which the above is the substance, seems to indicate 
that revolt from Assyria was already decided on in Jerusalem. 
But Isaiah did not anticipate that Assyrian ambition could 
pause at Philistia. The struggle for those towns which were 
to a northern invader the key of Egypt, made it manifest to 
him that the tide of war would shortly overflow into that 
country. Its great wealth, its antique wonders, and its uni- 
versal celebrity, were certain to invite attack : and if the 
stronger power cared for a specious cause against the weaker, 
that would be found in the aid which the Philistines had asked, 
and perhaps obtained, from Egypt against Assyria. Since the 
sera of Shishak, Egypt had been often contested by kings 
from Ethiopia. The Israelite emigrants had already made 
their countrymen well- acquainted with Pathros, or Upper 
Egypt, and it was familiar to a Jew of that day to think of 
Ethiopians and Egyptians together 2 , whether as constituting 
the same or allied powers, or as fighting in the same ranks. 
Accordingly, in the very year when Ashdod was attacked by 
Sargon's general 3 , Isaiah received a vision against Egypt and 
Ethiopia which took a singular form. He believed Jehovah 
to command him to unloose the covering from his loins and 
the sandals from his feet, and walk about publicly barefoot 
and " with his buttocks exposed," whatever the full mean- 
ing of the words. This the prophet obeyed without scruple, 
and continued it for three years ; apparently until Ashdod 
was captured. The symbol was then expounded to mean, 

1 The words of the original are obscure : " What shall one then answer the 
messengers of the nation ? " 

2 Besides Isaiah xx., see Nahum iii. 9 ; also Isaiah xliii. 3. 

3 About B.C. 733 ? 


that in this shameful plight the king of Assyria should lead 
away the Egyptians and Ethiopians prisoners. We learn his- 
torical facts from the prophecy, although we know nothing 
concerning its fulfilment. The Assyrians were not yet at lei- 
sure for attempting the conquest of Egypt, and when they took 
it in hand, they failed. 

In the twelfth year of Ahaz (as was stated), HOSHEA having 
slain Pekah, established himself in Samaria 1 . Although he 
is included by our historian in the general censure of all the 
kings of Israel, it is with the remarkable qualification, that he 
did not do evil as the kings who had preceded him. This 
comparative praise suffices perhaps to show that no peculiar 
weakness or baseness in Hoshea precipitated the ruin of his 
people ; but the day was at hand which neither wisdom nor 
energy could avert. The first incident preserved to us after 
his accession is, the invasion of Israel a second time by the 
new king of Assyria, whose name was Shalmaneser. To this 
period we may probably refer the storming of the stronghold 
of Beth Arbel, which the prophet Hosea feelingly mentions. 
Beth Arbel was a small village of Galilee, which gave its name 
to certain fortified caverns in the side of a rock. By reason 
of their great strength, they are not likely to have been left 
empty during the desolation of Galilee, whether their tenants 
were now a mere banditti, or acknowledged the authority of 
the king of Ephraim. To drive men out from such a place 
was a great exploit even in the days of Herod, and with the 
advice of Roman soldiers ; but Shalmaneser succeeded, and 
massacred all the inmates, without distinction of sex or age, 
by hurling them down the face of the rock. Perhaps it needed 
not this demonstration of power to lead the helpless Hoshea 
to promise allegiance and yearly tribute to the great king ; 
who, accepting the presents tendered to him, withdrew his 
forces, and vanishes for a little while from the eye of the his- 

Now was a very perplexing time for Ephraim. We have 
an echo of the distractions of the land in the last eleven chap- 
ters of the prophet Hosea 2 , which appear to have been com- 

1 B.C. 729. 

2 The first three chapters of Hosea are of a totally different genius, and (whe- 
ther or not from the same author) belong to a very different time, about forty 
years earlier. The unfortunate augury of a great battle to be fought on the 
plain of Jezreel, by which the house of Jehu is to be destroyed, Judah to be 
made glorious, and to be elevated once more as head of the twelve tribes, 


posed now or a little later. The Assyrian party in Samaria 
was very powerful,, and kept up a constant communication 
with Nineveh ; but the commercial relations with Egypt gave 
advantages to the Egyptian party. The calamities manifestly 
impending added perhaps a stimulus to superstition, and the 
impure ceremonies of the heathen were practised shamelessly. 
Gilead, half-desolate and disorganized, was infested with ban- 
ditti ; gross drunkenness and sensuality prevailed over Israel ; 
people,, priest and prophet were involved in common iniquities. 
Emigration to Egypt kept increasing. The national bond was 
so broken up, that no wise prince could hope to rally round 
himself the hearts of the nation for a struggle against the 
overpowering stranger. 

Very soon after, a change took place in Jerusalem, which 
may have acted unfortunately on the mind of Hoshea, and 
incited him to defy the power of Assyria. Ahaz, as was 
above stated, was succeeded on the throne of Jerusalem by 
his youthful son HEZEKiAH 1 . As the father terminated his 
career at the premature age of thirty-six, we cannot well 
regard the son as older than fifteen 2 . The counsellors of 
Ahaz struggled of course to retain power, and appear to have 
been at variance with the prophetical party 3 . We know the 
name of but one only, Shebna, who was " over the house- 
hold/' a very high office. But either by the temperament 
of the young king, or by the genius of Isaiah, the decisive 
influence lay with those, who, in the faith that Jehovah would 
protect his people, refused submission to the foreigner. The 
prophets became for the time as predominant as the priests 
had been during the minority of Jehoash ; and they signalized 
their power at once by the decisive measure of removing the 
high places 4 , which (by the contagion perhaps of the increased 
corruption in Israel) had now become seats of foreign idolatry. 

seems to assure us that this portion is really as ancient as Jeroboam II. The 
writer follows in the steps of Amos, but by venturing on specifications has gone 

1 B.C. 726. 

2 He is called twenty-five by the historians, which is probably an old corrup- 
tion for fifteen. This places his birth somewhere in the second year of Ahaz, 
the year in which we apprehend the prophecy (Isaiah viii. ix. 1-7) to have been 
delivered. Hitzig sees in Isaiah xxxviii. 12, an insuperable obstacle to this 
reduction of the age of Hezekiah ; but that verse does not seem to mean that 
Hezekiah was then an old man, only that he was on the point of death. 

3 Isaiah calls them, " Ye scornful men, that rule this people in Jerusalem ;" 
xxviii. 14. 4 2 Kings, xviii. 4, 22. 


At least we find not images only, but Astartes 1 named as ob- 
jects of worship there ; which may imply that the line sepa- 
rating the worship of Jehovah from that of inferior and base 
beings had (as is usual in the progress from image-reverence 
to image-worship) been overstepped. The brazen serpent to 
which " down to those days" incense was burned 2 , was now 
destroyed; and in all other matters the law of Jehovah, as 
understood and expounded by the prophets and by the most 
eminent of the priests, was observed and enforced more dili- 
gently. A people thus devoted to their God, it was believed, 
might defy the foreigner ; and the tribute was forthwith with- 
held from Shalmaneser. Nor only so, but active measures of 
war were commenced against Philistia ; perhaps with the very 
money which had been destined as tribute to Nineteh. The 
Jewish towns appear to have been without difficulty recovered, 
and the land of their weak but high-spirited neighbours was 
ravaged from end to end. 

Hoshea no doubt envied the freedom and success of his 
youthful brother-king, and in an evil hour resolved to imitate 
it 3 . He did not however design to be so imprudent as to ex- 
pose himself without allies to the brunt of an Assyrian inva- 
sion ; but the time was now come when he might hope for aid 
in earnest from Egypt. That power, we may infer, had at last 
been roused by the capture of Ashdod, and felt that she had 
no longer any breakwater against Assyrian force. The king 
therefore gladly listened to Hoshea, and concerted projects of 
revolt. But the party within Ephraim itself, which from pru- 
dential reasons favoured the Assyrians, could not be kept in 

1 2 Kings, xviii. 4. The silence of Isaiah leads to a suspicion that this is 
exaggerated. Or had " an Astarte" become a term for a graven image of a cer- 
tain kind, without reference to the form of worship ? The Astartes in Micah 
v. 14, seem to have been in Israel : so do the Astartes and images to the Sun, 
in Isaiah xvii. 8, xxvii. 9. Private idols (see Isaiah ii. 8, 20, and more particu- 
larly x. 10, which is of later date) could not be suppressed ; but they did not 
imply a renunciation of Jehovah. 

2 " Unto those days, the children of Israel, did burn incense to it ;" 2 Kings, 
xviii. 4. Is this a lax phrase for the people of JudcBa ? Or does it imply that 
Israelites also came into Jerusalem or Judsea to worship it ? [One of my critics 
reproaches me with concealing the fact, that the worship of the serpent was not 
tolerated, though it existed. What does he mean ?] 

3 We do not certainly know the year of Hezekiah's revolt ; but the order of 
the narrative in 2 Kings, xviii. 79, implies that it was before Hoshea' s seventh 
year and Hezekiah's fourth, and therefore the probability is, that it took place 
as soon as the internal parties of Jerusalem had re-adjusted themselves after the 
death of Ahaz. 


the dark as to what was going on; arid Shalmaneser received 
notice of it. If we rightly interpret the very concise account 
given of these events, he ordered Hoshea to come in person 
and explain his conduct ; especially as the yearly tribute was 
no longer punctually paid. Hoshea, it appears, not being 
ready to declare his revolt, hoped to dissemble, and obeyed 
the summons ; but the Assyrian monarch, dissatisfied with his 
explanation, shut him up in prison 1 , as a contumacious vassal. 
Here the captive king was exposed to slavish indignities, if to 
him the words of Micah are meant to apply, " They strike 
the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek." When Shal- 
maneser soon after marched into the land and besieged Sa- 
maria, no help arrived from Egypt, the untrusty ally. This 
need not * be imputed to treachery or fickleness. The scorn 
and vehemence, with which not Isaiah only, but the Assyrian 
ambassadors to Hezekiah, predict that Egypt will betray those 
who have expectations from her, indicate their belief in some 
internal embarrassments of that country. And here the 
Greek historian Herodotus may assist us. If So, king of 
Egypt, is the same whom he calls Sethos, he was priest of 
Vulcan (or Ptha of the Egyptian mythology) and came to the 
throne 2 against the will of the military caste, with whom he 
was in political feud, and whose lands he endeavoured to 
diminish. This was so violently resented by them, that a little 
later he could not command their services, even to repel inva- 
sion. Much more must he have been hampered in his wish 
to send forces out into Palestine. With money indeed he 
may possibly have assisted the Samaritans; unless the ar- 
rest of Hoshea disconcerted all his plans. Be this as it may, 
Samaria by her natural strength, or because the enemy was 
simultaneously engaged with other places, held out to the 
third year. In fact, this city though of all the most impor- 
tant, had no exclusive interest for Shalmaneser, who was in- 
tending and executing the extensive project of removing the 

1 This sudden disappearance of Hoshea may be alluded to by the words, " I 
will be thy king. I gave thee a king in my anger, and took him away in my 
wrath," Hos. xiii. 11 ; and in x. 7, " As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the 
foam upon the water." If so, the later chapters of Hosea were written after 
the war had broken out. Indeed xiii. 16 anticipates for worse than the Assy- 
rians inflicted. 

2 Mr. Kenrick, in his erudite and comprehensive volumes on Ancient Egypt, 
regards it as proved that the king of Egypt might be elected from either order, 
priests or military ; and that the sons of priests were not necessarily priests. 


mass of the unfortunate population from all the towns of 
western Israel into the far east. At last however the blow 
fell upon Samaria herself; though it cannot be doubted that 
many of the inhabitants, as indeed from all Israel, had previ- 
ously escaped into Egypt. The Assyrian policy seems to have 
been similar to that which induced Darius, son of Hystaspes, 
to carry off the whole nation of the Pseonians, and Alexander 
the Great to plant great military colonies. He desired to 
break up national associations and prevent dangerous revolts ; 
to secure his distant provinces, and to bring a greater popula- 
tion into the less-frequented districts near home. While he 
sent the Ephraimites to dwell " in Halah and at Habor 1 , the 
river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes," he brought 
men from other parts from Babylon, Cuthath, Ava, Hamath 
and Sepharvaim to supply the gap. The order was executed 
by an officer who is called in the book of Ezra " the great and 
noble Asnapper," (iv. 10,) in a passage where the new inha- 
bitants of Israel are specified as from Dina, Apharsathcha, 
Tarpela, Persia, Arach, Babylon, Shushan, Deha and Elam 2 . 
Many of these names are obscure; but those which cannot 
be mistaken are useful in showing us the wide grasp of Assy- 
rian domination at this time ; being such as the world had not 
yet seen, unless we believe in the half-legendary empire of 
Rameses or Sesostris. The whole of modern Persia, from the 
Caspian to the Persian Gulf, Susiana and Babylonia, Kurdi- 
stan and Armenia, Mesopotamia and Syria, were all prostrate 
under the sceptre of Nineveh, before which the little kingdom 
of Judsea now stood helpless 3 . 

The Jews had no doubt watched with intense anxiety the 
progress of the war and siege in the sister country. We have 
two extant records of the workings of thought at that time in 
the foremost minds of Judaea ; if we rightly believe that the 
prophecy of Isaiah, which we register as chapters xxviii. xxix., 
and part at least of the Book of Micah, were composed in this 
interval. Isaiah opens more grandiloquently than usual, de- 
nouncing ruin on "the crown of pride, the drunkards of 

1 There is no unanimity as to these places. Gozan is speciously held by 
Major Bennell to be the district of the river Kizil Ozien, which runs from 
Kurdistan through Azerbaidjan into the Caspian. 

2 Many are led by Ezra iv. 2 to suppose that Esarhaddon planted this colonv. 
He no doubt planted a later one ; but he never held sway over the nations here 
named, and cannot have brought them into the land of Samaria. 

" B.C. 721. 

M 3 



Ephraim." The sin of drunkenness which is again and again 
charged on them (even on the priest and prophet) is declared 
in words so plain and coarse, as cannot be explained metapho- 
rically : and we are led to believe, that the Ephraimites, when 
thus oppressed by an irresistible foe, like the Boeotians sinking 
beneath the ^Etolians, tried to drown shame and sorrow in 
feasting and excess of wine 1 . But the firm belief that Je- 
hovah has everywhere an elect people, and that " a remnant 
shall be saved," cleaves here, as everywhere, to this great pro- 
phet, and streaks his darkest pictures with gleams of light 
and beauty. He turns away rapidly from his moralizing over 
Israel, to warn 2 the proud nobles of Jerusalem of impending 
danger : a siege of Jerusalem itself 3 , he declares 4 , is coming, 
by the multitudinous nations which fight in the Assyrian 
host ; but they shall miss their prey when they think to de- 
vour it. He describes the leaders and wise men of his own 
people as strangely unable to read the signs of the times and 
understand Jehovah's call to devotion of the heart, not of the 
lip. But a total upturning of everything is to come; new 
times, in which the deaf shall hear the prophet's words, the 
blind shall see, the meek and poor shall rejoice in Jehovah. 
Then old Jacob shall no longer be ashamed, nor shall his face 
turn pale ; but he shall see his children, and they shall glorify 
his God, and all who have erred shall be brought back into 
truth. The words in which the prophet describes the confi- 
dence of the Jewish nobles, sound like an oblique imputation 
on them of keeping up a secret correspondence with Assyria. 
" They fancied," he says, " that when the scourge passed over 
the land, it would spare them ; for they had hid themselves in 
lies and falsehood." And we have reason to suspect that 
Shebna, who was in a manner prime minister to Hezekiah, 
was of the Assyrian party. 

The prophecy of Micah, though simple and grand, does not 
add enough to the historical picture to justify our analyzing 
the whole. His rebukes upon Israel are in substance identical 
with those of Hosea and Isaiah ; but two points may be no- 
ticed as peculiar to him. The other prophets do not on this 
occasion venture to predict a return of Israel from her As- 
syrian captivity and a rebuilding of Samaria; but it appears 

1 In fact, this seems to have been the case at Jerusalem when attacked bj 
Sennacherib : Is. xxii. 13. 2 Is. xxviii. 14, etc. 

3 Which he entitles Ariel, Hearth of God. 4 Is. xxix. 1-8. 



pretty distinctly in Micah, vii. 11, 12, etc. 1 In regard to his 
Messianic expectations again, he is more impatient than Isaiah. 
While taking for granted that the Assyrian inroad must over- 
flow into Judah, he announces that from the birthplace of 
David shall come forth Israel's rightful ruler, whose origin 
lies in the dim foretime. Until His mother shall have borne 
Him, Jehovah will yield up his people to suffering ; but when 
He, the great Deliverer, arises, he shall rule them in the ma- 
jesty of Jehovah his God. He shall be mighty to the ends of 
the land, and shall give it peace and security when the As- 
syrian makes his invasion, and treads in the Jewish palaces. 
Against the intruder seven " shepherds " and eight anointed 
persons shall then be raised up, who shall waste with the 
sword the land of Assyria and the frontier of Nimrod. So 
shall Messiah deliver Judah from the Assyrian, when he comes 
upon their land and treads on their borders. Then the rem- 
nant of Jacob shall be among many people as a dew from Je- 
hovah, as showers on the grass, as a young lion among the 
flocks,- who rendeth and none can deliver. Such were the 
glowing anticipations of Micah. 

During the last period of Samaritan nationality, whatever 
the prophets may justly say concerning the demoralization of 
the people, it ought not to be forgotten, that the worst of it 
was caused by overwhelming calamity, and by the fierce par- 
ties which so agonizing a position engenders. Nor can the 
prophets of Israel, as a body, escape their own measure of cen- 
sure. After their voice had armed Jehu against his unfortunate 
king and AhaVs innocent house, we have no trustworthy evi- 
dence that the school of Elijah and Elisha did anything good or 
great for their nation, spiritually or politically. According to 
our extant prophetical writers, these monitors of Israel sinned 
equally with the people and with the royal priests. Amos 

1 Hitzig regards this chapter as written after the capture of Samaria ; and 
there is much appearance of it ; yet when Micah augurs that the Israeh'tish 
flock, which now dwells solitarily in Carmel, shall hereafter feed in Hashan and 
Cttlead, as in the days of old; does it not suggest that Israel has not yet 
been rooted up from both sides of Jordan, but from the east only ? 

The passage of Micah, which (with deference to expositors) we cannot but 
suspect to betray a later hand, is from iii. 8 to the end of iv. This seems like 
a mere cento from other prophets, compiled during the Babylonish captivity. 
The chiming of Jacob and Israel, and confounding both with Zion, is like the 
later Isaiah, ch. xl.-lxii. ; and iii. 12, which at first seems to assure us of the 
genuineness of the passage (cf. Jer. xxvi, 18), may, on the contrary, have been 
suggested by Jeremiah. 


was urged in spirit to leave his rustic occupations in Judsea, 
and migrate into the country of Jeroboam, there to protest 
against iniquities which the seers of Jericho and Bethel ought 
to have sufficed to denounce. How are we to account for 
this ? Had the Honey Bee of prophecy, by playing the part 
of the Wasp, madly stung forth its own life ? Had the sacred 
fire died out for want of fuel, when every antagonist element 
hid itself away from Jehu's violence ? Or had the mist which 
loured over the whole land, clouded the eye of the Seer, as 
well as of the vulgar ? All these causes may be presumed to 
have conspired. It is undeniable, that in the Israelitish pro- 
phets, as in the Scotch Reformers, the pugnacious principle 
was too much in the ascendant. There was earnestness and 
deep conviction, noble ends proposed, and unshrinking self- 
devotion to them ; but nothing of the meekness of wisdom ; 
no gentleness and sensitiveness as to other men's equal rights, 
and far too little scruple to combine with bad men and com- 
mit their good cause to wicked means. The prophet needed 
a public Sin to fight against : an Ahab called out his energy, 
a Jehu damped it; and when Elisha' s contemporaries had 
been cruel in their fanaticism, it was but natural for succeed- 
ing generations to be lukewarm, and even favourable to the 
unhappy victims. From these extravagancies Jerusalem was 
saved by the mild influences of cultivation and by the pru- 
dence or worldliness of an established priesthood. There, the 
prophet and the priest had lived in harmony, and had tempered 
each other's besetting faults. But besides this, it does appear 
that the wars against Syria and Assyria, which demoralized 
the nation, degraded the prophetical schools also; much as 
the Christian church sank into dotage, when the surrounding 
world became whelmed in barbarism. Even in contrasting 
the representations given of Elijah and Elisha, we perceive a 
gravitation towards meaner notions and low superstition. The 
forty-days' fast of Elijah, his journey to the solitary Horeb, 
the stormy wind, the earthquake, and the fire, in which Je- 
hovah was not; with the still small voice in which Jehovah 
was found; are a noble poem. But Elisha, sitting in Sama- 
ria, and miraculously revealing the plans of Benhadad's cam- 
paign and the words which he speaks in his bedchamber, is 
far less dignified, and reminds us of tales of magic. When 
Elijah twice calls down fire from heaven, and slays two bands 
of fifty soldiers sent to arrest him, he is severe and terrible ; 


but when Elisha curses a troop of young children in the name 
of Jehovah, and brings two bears out of the wood who devour 
forty-two of them, because they mocked at his bald head, he 
is ludicrous as well as savage. Elijah, who assembles the 
prophets of Baal, and after vanquishing them in a public 
trial of miracles, incites the spectators to slay them all, com- 
mits a semi-heroic crime ; but Elisha, who by proxy incites a 
captain with an army at his back to kill his wounded and 
confiding master, and make away with Ahab's children and 
little grandchildren, besides being barbarous, is cowardly and 
deceitful. Elijah appears before Ahab face to face, to threaten 
him bitterly for the murder of Naboth ; but Elisha, when the 
king is angry with him, and seeks his life, has supernatural 
intimation of it, and gives orders to shut the door in the 
messenger's face, while others arrest him outside. Elijah 
predicts a drought to Ahab, and again predicts rain, in simple 
words ; but Elisha, when about to spell warlike successes to 
king Jehoash, makes them depend on a piece of luck. He 
bids him to take his arrows and shoot upon the ground. The 
youth (who lavishes appellations of honour on the aged pro- 
phet 1 ) intends to obey, and shoots three times. But Elisha 
is enraged that he has not shot five or six times, because (as 
he now reveals) Jehovah had decreed to give him as many 
victories over the Syrians as the times he should shoot. Fi- 
nally, when Elijah's hour of removal is come, he is carried 
up to heaven in a chariot of fire ; but when Elisha dies and 
is buried as other men, his bones have a like virtue to those 
of a dark-age Saint : they raise to life a strange corpse, 
which by accident touches them. These may be sufficient 
indications that young enthusiasm was spent, and legend 
was beginning to drivel, when the second set of tales first 
gained currency. It may deserve remark, that Bethel, the 
head-quarters of superstition in the day of Amos, was, with 
Jericho, a great centre of the prophetical alumni under 

Of the extant books of prophecy, one only has come from 
an Israelite 2 , that of Hosea; and his fire seems to have 

1 "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!" 
Elisha was better to Jehoash than chariots or horsemen. 

2 Concerning Jonah nothing distinct can be asserted. The book called by 
bis name is evidently not written by him, though the prayer in it may be his 
composition. The story of the whale in which it is imbedded, appears to have 


been kindled at the hearth of the Jewish Amos. Nothing 
properly Messianic appears in him. It is peculiarly honour- 
able to Hosea, that he possesses in a high degree the tender- 
ness of spirit in which Elijah and Elisha were so deficient. 
It was not his fault that invective and lamentation were alike 
too late, and that neither patriotism nor religion had materials 
left for saving Israel. Clinging still to hope against hope, he 
ended his solemn appeals by auguring a time when Ephraim 
should abandon his idols, cease to supplicate Assyria or trust 
in horses, and should nourish high and deep under the favour 
of Jehovah. 


IN filling up the history, much depends on the chronolo- 
gical order assigned to the pieces of extant prophecy ; and 
even where this cannot be decided so as to exclude all contro- 
versy, it becomes necessary for the historian to form a pro- 
bable theory. A list is added of the approximate dates here 
imagined for the earlier prophets ; partly in order to stimulate 
to their intelligent perusal (although the defects of the Eng- 
lish version are a great drawback), and more especially that 
the reader may be able to check the narrative. 

Approximate dates of the Earlier Prophecies. 




Accession of Jehoash under the priest JehoiacU 
Plague of locusts and drought. 
Prophecy of Joel. 
Death of Jehoash. 
Accession of Jeroboam II. 

grown out of a frigid misinterpretation of his prayer ; and the whole account 
is to us nothing but an echo of the low esteem in which the Jewish writers held 
the prophets of Israel. 

If Jonah is, as Hitzig ingeniously opines, the author of the ode upon Moab, 
in Isaiah xv. xvi., it does but make us regret his dearth of spiritual sentiment. 
Yet the invitation to become subject to Judah, and the high praise of the king 
of Judah, is against the belief that the writer was an Israelite. 


B.C. I 








Ode against Moab, Is. xv. xvi. 

Prophecy of Amos. 

Hosea's first three chapters. 

Death of Jeroboam II. 

Uzziah dies. Isaiah has his first vision, ch. vi. 

Captivity of Gilead and Naphthali by Tiglathpileser. 

Isaiah ix. 8 down to x. 4. 

Zech. ix. x. 

Zech. xi. ; Is. xvii. 1-11. Pekah and Rezin invade Jotham. 

Accession of Ahaz. He loses two great battles. 

Isaiah ii.-iv. Isaiah vii.-viii. 1, 2. 

Isaiah viii. 4 ix. 7. Isaiah i. 

Damascus falls by Tiglathpileser. Isaiah xxiv. xxvii. ? l 

Sargon (or his general Tartan) attacks Phoenicia and Philistia. Is.xx. 

Hoshea slays Pekah. 

Sufferings of Philistia. 

Death of Ahaz. Isaiah xiv. 28-32. 

Shalmanezer invades Israel the second time. 

Hosea's last eleven chapters. Isaiah xxviii., xxix. Micah i.-iii. 7, 

Samaria taken. 

Tyre besieged by Shalmaneser for five years. 
Isaiah xxiii. 
Isaiah v. ? 

Sennacherib invades Judah. Is. xxx.-xxxii. Is. x. 4-xi. Is. xvii. 
12-xviii. (and xiv. 24-27 ?) Is. xxii. Is. xxxiii. Is. xxxviii. 21-35. 
Hezekiah is sick. 
Isaiah xix. 

1 But for the phrase " a palace of strangers" inxxv. 2, one might be tempted 
to explain these four chapters as Isaiah's dirge over captured Samaria. The 
fall of Damascus appears less likely to have called out so much feeling, than this 
nearer event : and so also we should see more force in the whole conclusion con- 
cerning Israel, xxvii. 6-13. But the real difficulty is to account for the pro- 
minence of Moab in ch. xxv. 



B.C. 721-609. 

As soon as the armies of Shalmaneser had effected their 
whole work on the hapless people of Israel, it was only to be 
expected that Judah would be the next victim. They had 
committed the same offence, and might be taxed with peculiar 
ingratitude; but Israel had never received any favour from 
the Assyrians. During the three years' war it is likely that 
considerable plunderings of Jewish territory took place 1 ; but 
no formal attempt was made to reduce the strongholds ; and 
even when Samaria had fallen, a new object intervened to 
give farther respite to Judaea. 

Shalmaneser was looking beyond Jerusalem to the rich 
land of Egypt, and felt the importance of having all Phoenicia 
at his command, for the sake of its maritime aids. But of 
this he could not be sure, while the insular Tyre continued 
to defy him : its freedom was a perpetual stimulus to all Phoe- 
nicia to revolt. Expecting perhaps to capture it by a mo- 
mentary exertion of force, he deferred his attack on Judah 
till he had accomplished it 2 ; and ordered the subject Phoeni- 
cians to prepare 60 galleys and furnish them with rowers, 
intending to land his troops on the island 3 . Against these, 
the Tyrians, abandoned by all their confederates, had only 12 
to oppose ; but these 12 were animated by an eager spirit of 
liberty, while the 60 were filled with Assyrian landsmen, and 
with Phoenicians engaged in a cause which they detested. 
The little Tyrian squadron gained a brilliant victory and cap- 
tured 500 Assyrian warriors ; whereupon Shalmaneser endea- 
voured to reduce the town by guarding the whole coast so as 
to cut off the supplies of water. The Tyrians, notwithstand- 

1 If this was the epoch of the composition of Isaiah i., more than mere 
plundering of the country was endured ; for many cities were then consumed 
by fire. But see note a , page 238. 

2 Josephus, Antiq. ix. 14. 2. 3 B.C. 720 ? 


ing, persevered, and dug wells for themselves in their narrow 
island. How much water they thence obtained, and how 
much they imported in spite of all precautions, rests entirely 
on conjecture ; but they lasted out until the fifth year ; after 
which we are left in uncertainty by the historian whether the 
blockade was given up, or the deceased were forced to yield 1 . 
The king cannot have superintended it in person for so long a 
time ; his presence must have been needed elsewhere ; and 
probably in the year B.C. 716 he was cut off by death. Such 
was the first great siege endured by this heroic yet peace- 
loving people, against the foremost power of the world. A 
second was sustained successfully against Nebuchadnezzar 3 . 
Sidon made a like brave resistance to Darius Ochus, and 
when betrayed by her own king, fell with horrible self-sacri- 
fice. Finally, Tyre stood at bay for seven months against the 
great Macedonian hero 3 , and then at last the mole which he 
constructed against the island, by turning it into a peninsula, 
spoiled for ever the advantages of the site. 

It is unpleasing to find the prophet Isaiah (ch. xxiii.) exult 
in the dangers which came upon this noble city, while stand- 
ing in the foreground for freedom, and really shielding Jeru- 
salem from the common oppressor. We here see the evil ele- 
ment of exclusive patriotism, which, when imbibed by those 
who had not Isaiah's other great qualities, made the Jew to 
appear as a hater of mankind. In the ode itself there is no 
intimation that Tyre was hostile to Jerusalem : the slave-trade 
is not named, nor the alliance with Philistia or Syria. But 
here, as elsewhere, the Hebrew prophets show a narrow- 
minded abhorrence of worldly art, skill and science, as pro- 
ducing merely wealth, pomp, luxury and pride. This illusion 
is perhaps a necessary result of limited experience, in those 
whose moral principle has full ascendency over the rest of 
their nature. Dread and grudge were felt against Tyre, " be- 
cause she was exceeding wise 4 ." Jehovah was believed to 
share the same sentiment 5 , and to be jealous of everything 

1 Since the above has been out of hand, Grote's third volume of Greece has 
appeared, in which he treats it as certain that the insular Tyre was not reduced 
by Shahnaneser : p. 428. 2 Ezekiel xxix. 18. 

3 See Thirlwall's Greece, vol. vi. pp. 195-202, on this deeply interesting siege. 
The fate of Sidon is in p. 138 of the same volume. 

4 Zech. ix. 2. 

5 The only sin charged against Tyre is the extensiveness of her honourable 
and gainful traffic. 

" Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose mer- 


grand and high. To the end of his dirge the prophet sub- 
joins rather dark words of comfort. Tyre is to be forgotten 
seventy years ; after which she is to take a harp and sing as a 
harlot ; she shall turn to her harlotry with all kingdoms, and 
her merchandize and her hire shall be holiness to Jeho- 
vah. While stigmatizing mercantile traffic by the contemp- 
tuous name of harlotry, Isaiah could not help admitting that 
even merchandize might be holy 1 , when it was spent upon the 
food and clothing of the priests or prophets of Jehovah. As 
regards the result here predicted, as well as the period of 
seventy years, it does not appear that they answer to any his- 
torical reality. Indeed, as this is the period assigned by Je- 
remiah for Babylonian domination, some critics find in it a 
confirmation of their suspicion that the whole chapter belongs 
to an author of a century later. 

Out of the ruins of the kingdom of Ephraim many families 
must have taken refuge in Judaea, and, under the circum- 
stances, were open to strong impressions of Jewish religion. 
Such as had never been present in Jerusalem at any of the 
great feasts, would attend the Passover there now with a pe- 
culiar feeling ; and their presence could not fail to produce 
some excitement in Judah. Perhaps it was a simple event of 
this nature which the Chronicler has exaggerated into the ac- 
count of a remarkable Passover celebrated by Hezekiah 3 , to 

chants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth ? Jehovah 
of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory ^ and to bring into con- 
tempt the honourable of the earth " (xxiii. 8, 9). So ii. 12-16. Compare He- 
rodotus vii. 10. 5. " Seest thou how God striketh with his thunderbolt all 
tall creatures, but the little ones fret him not at all ? Seest thou how he hurleth 
his darts alway at the loftiest buildings and trees ; for God loveth to lop shorter 
whatever is towering." 

1 " (Her wealth) shall not be treasured nor laid up ; it shall be for them 
that dwell before Jehovah, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing." This 
is very mean and tame ; and more than any other sentiment in the ode, would 
help our acquiescing in the belief that the whole is of later origin. 

It may be well to remark that v. 5 of this chapter in the English version 
gives the impression that the prophecy was written after great calamities on 
Egypt, such as the Persian conquest ; but De Wette, Hitzig and Ewald agree 
in rendering it, "When the news reaches Egypt, it shall be terrified by the 
report concerning Tyre." The notice of the Chaldceans in v. 13 is very puz- 
zling. Ewald cuts the knot by altering the word into Canaanites. " Behold the 
land of the Canaanites ! This people is no more ; the Assyrian has made it a 
wilderness." This is a very bold, but perhaps happy conjecture. 

2 He seems to represent it as before the fall of Samaria (xxxi. 1). But it is 
so little credible that Hezekiah could "throw down the high places and altars in 
Ephraim and Manasseh" while Hoshea's kingdom stood, that this might alone 
warn us not to trust the details of the narrative. 


which, he specially invited all the members of the northern 
kingdom. That the event can have been so important and 
striking as he represents, the total silence of the older his- 
torian (who is not at all wanting in sympathy for religious 
interests) makes it extremely difficult to believe. Yet there 
are a few points deserving remark, as implying that the reli- 
gious zeal, which was kindled in this reign, introduced cere- 
monies before unpractised. The Levites were the movers in 
them, and the priests were reluctant 1 . The latter wished to 
adhere to the established practices ; the former to introduce 
what they found written in the compilations which professed 
to give the most precise directions. This is the first trace 
which we find of Levitical zeal for ceremonies outgoing that of 
the priests ; and this is the first occasion on which the word 
Passover is used in the historical books. We find also in a 
phrase of Isaiah 2 , reason to believe that the fundamental 
points in that feast were already observed. According to the 
Chronicler, this was a peculiar Passover, as celebrated by 
Hezekiah once only in his reign. Had it even been otherwise, 
we might easily understand that by reason of the destruction 
of the High Places, the country people had in considerable 
numbers attended the Passover at the central city : on which 
ground it is every way probable that under Hezekiah the Jeru- 
salem Passover became a more imposing ceremony. 

During the gallant struggle of the Tyrians, the counsellors 
and people of king Hezekiah had abundant cause to rejoice 
with trembling. An interval was gained, if they had been 
disposed to use it, for storing and strengthening their for- 
tresses ; yet even the walls of Jerusalem itself were left in 
imperfect repair. This can be well explained. The revolt 
had been decided by the ascendency of the prophetical influ- 
ence, not by worldly wisdom. The prophets looked for success 
to superhuman power, and thought more of moral defence by 
piety than of the physical bulwark of walls 3 . Reasoners of 
a commoner sort judged by the examples of Damascus and 
Samaria, not to speak of Ashdod, that to resist the Assyrians 
without the help of Egypt was utterly an infatuation ; hence 
all are likely to have been languid in preparation for war, 

1 " The Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the 
priests" (2 Chr. xxix. 34). This refers to empty outward purifications, which 
it cost the apostle Paul much labour and suffering to reduce to their real insig- 

2 Is. xxx. 29, xxxi. 5. 3 Is. xxii. 11, xxxiii. 15, 16. 


unless that help could be secured. If any bold patriot were 
found to hold that the fortresses of Judah would suffice to 
repel the enemy, he would soon be convinced by the despon- 
dency of others, that there was no heart in the nation for so 
intense a struggle. 

A new monarch ascended the throne of Nineveh, about 
715 years before the Christian sera, by name Sennacherib 1 ; 
and his accession perhaps deferred yet a little the fearful mo- 
ment, in expectation of which the hearts of Judah quivered. 
At length his expedition was determined upon, and his great 
army began to assemble. As this could not be done in a day, 
and the chief part of the host was infantry, rumour would 
precede it by several weeks, and a short tumultuous time still 
remained to the Jews. Embassies to Egypt now began in 
earnest. Drowning men will cling to a straw, and the fate of 
Samaria did not deter them from trusting in this empty power. 
It does not indeed appear that the king himself despatched 
any such embassy ; but the nobles sent off camels and asses 
laden with treasure 2 , humbly to ask aid from the venerable 
name of Pharaoh. Cavalry and chariots were the great want 
of the Jews for defence against the Assyrian foragers, and for 
this species of force peculiar entreaty was made 3 . Now at 
length also some decided measures of defence were adopted. 
The weak parts of the wall of Jerusalem were mended: a 
second wall was added, where chiefly necessary, and by turn- 
ing off the waters, the moat between the two walls was filled. 
At this crisis one heart at least in Judah remained unshaken, 
although expecting severe trial. Isaiah did not repent of the 
revolt, and did not approve of asking help from Egypt. Not 
that he would have spurned real aid sincerely proffered, (for 
we shall see that he thought well of the Ethiopian ambassa- 

1 According to the account of the Babylonian priest Berosus, extracted by 
Alexander Polyhistor, and preserved for us by Eusebius (see Fynes Clinton, 
Fast. Hell. vol. i. p. 270, on the Assyrian empire), Sennacherib was preceded 
on the throne of Nineveh by his brother. This may perhaps be claimed as 
favourable to the belief that a short reign of Sargon is to be interpolated be- 
tween Shalmaneser and Sennacherib. But if Sargon' s armies had been engaged 
in Philistia after Hezekiah's revolt, we should surely have some notice of their 
attacks on Judah, which indeed would be an earlier object ; and that Hezekiah 
had revolted before the siege of Samaria, appears beyond reasonable doubt. 
The book of Tobit (i. 15) makes Sennacherib son of JZnemessar, the king who 
carried Naphthali captive (2). This identifies Enemessar with Tiglathpileser, 
and appears to make Shalmaneser, Sargon and Sennacherib his three sons. But 
in truth the worth of the book of Tobit is not much above that of Judith. 

2 Is. xxx. 6. 3 Is. xxxi. 1-3. 


dors), but he had an intense conviction that no succour would 
come from Egypt. At this time, while the Assyrian was 
marching upon the land, hut had not yet entered it, Isaiah 
appears to have composed chapters xxx. xxxi. xxxii. of his 
prophecy. The great subject of them is scorn of Egyptian 
expectations. He announces that the strength of the people 
must be in quietness and confidence ; that if they trust in 
Jehovah, he will fight for them ; will smite down the Assyrian 
without human sword, and prepare a huge funeral pile in the 
valley of Hinnom to burn up his carcasses. The prophet's 
mind glances far forward more than once, to a mysterious 
blessed future, when the righteous shall have an inward teach- 
ing such as Joel spoke of, besides outward instructors. In 
that day the earth shall be more fruitful, the cattle shall 
flourish, the moonlight shall be as sunlight, and the sunlight 
sevenfold j the idols shall be cast away ; a righteous king shall 
reign, princes shall give just judgment, and bad men shall be 
degraded. We cannot fail to recognize in this the golden age 
of Messiah. Yet the prophet cannot stay on this joyful topic : 
he sees misery impending ; he predicts even to the pious that 
they shall have ' ' water and bread of affliction," scant sup- 
plies in the time of siege, that women shall mourn over the 
ravaged fields and uninilked cattle; that thorns and briers 
shall come up over the pleasant palaces, that the forts and 
towers shall be dens for ever 1 , and a place of wild asses' pas- 
time, until the Spirit is poured from on high, and the blessed 
age arrives. He seems to strive in vain to lift himself into 
the happier anticipations ; scenes of desolation recur to his 
mind, and he ends abruptly, in rather incoherent strain. 

By what route the Assyrians marched we are not positively 
informed ; but as they brought chariots with them, it may be 
conjectured, that, like the second Benhadad, they came from 
Damascus along the breadth of Israel, and so entered the 
plain country of Judsea. It is indeed quite credible, that a 
prophetical piece of Isaiah 2 represents to us exactly their 
track, crossing the border of the Jewish territory at Aiath 

1 The English reader must beware of obtruding on the prophets our ideas of 
eternity, when this phrase is used. 

2 Isaiah x. 5-xi. The llth chapter is wholly Messianic, and in magnificence 
second to none concerning the glorious age. It closes with predicting conquest 
over the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites ; a bringing home of 
the Israelites from Assyria, as also from Egypt (by a renewed miraculous pas- 
sage of the Red Sea), and a permanent union of Ephraini and Judah. 


or Ai, passing on to Migron and Michmash, lodging at Geba, 
in the neighbourhood of Raman and Gibeah of Saul, and 
ravaging the country from Gallim to Anathoth. At Nob he 
remains one day, and " shakes his hand against the hill of 
Jerusalem." But the invader did not intend to attack the 
strongest town first, but passed on to lick up all that was good 
in the land and whatever could be secured with least effort. 
His chariots were outnumbered by the clouds of horsemen, 
and his horsemen by the multitudinous infantry ; among 
whom the most interesting to us are the Armenians, Medes 
and Persians, who for several ages proved themselves truly 
formidable soldiers. Besides these, were masses of mere 
rabble, who, though useless in fight, were valuable in sieges, 
where every hand could help to raise a mound. When the 
vast host came before the frontier fortresses, their mounds 
rose so quickly, that they could soon walk up to the top of 
the walls. In other places they erected waterwheels worked 
by the foot, and pumped off the streams which supplied the 
besieged. Such appear to have been the only modes of attack 
used 1 ; and their efficacy depended on the number of hands 
and feet which the besieger could set to work. In their own 
methods the Assyrians had had great experience, and were 
now, as heretofore, successful. Castle after castle was rapidly 
taken, or surrendered to save its crops. 

Meanwhile ambassadors came to Hezekiah from the distant 
power of Ethiopia, which had been stirred up by alarm at the 
great king's approach; and to clear, as far as possible, this 
rather dark subject, a digression is here needed concerning 
the relations of Egypt and Ethiopia. It has been already 
stated that the Ethiopians had for more than two centuries 
contested the possession of the land of Egypt. The country 
immediately intended by Ethiopia appears to be that which 
the moderns call Sennaar. This is a large triangle formed by 
the Nile on the east, the Tacazze (a tributary of the Nile) on 
the west, and the islands of Abyssinia in the south. The 
junction of the two rivers is the vertex of the triangle, and is 
the most northern point of the country. The Greeks con- 
ceived of the region as an island, and called it Meroe : between 
it and Egypt the Nubian desart intervenes, and the rapids of 
the river make navigation extremely difficult. Sennaar, or 

1 The Assyrian sculptures, like the Egyptian paintings, denote a knowledge 
of the arts of siege nearly equal to anything that the Romans ever attained. 


Meroe, is thus naturally a distinct country from Egypt. Its 
monarchs however had often held possession of all Upper 
Egypt ; indeed of all except that which was called the marshes, 
the capital city of which was Sais. According to Herodotus, 
the Ethiopian king Sabaco was induced to abandon Egypt 
by terrible dreams which ordered him to slay all the priests. 
It is impossible to divine the historical truth here veiled, if we 
scruple to accept the statement literally ; but as in Meroe it 
is well known that the priestly power was at its height, we get 
some clue as to the internal conflict of society by combining 
all the accounts. For we find that when the Ethiopians retire, 
the military caste of Egypt is unable to retain the throne for 
one of its own body ; but an Egyptian priest, named Sethos, 
becomes king, and endeavours to despoil the military of their 
landed possessions. For all warlike purposes he is exceedingly 
weak, because of the disaffection in the soldier-caste ; and this 
(we apprehend) disables him from succouring Samaria or Je- 
rusalem. It is farther believed that Tirhakah 1 , an Ethiopian 
successor of Sabaco, reigned in the Thebais, or Upper country ; 
and that 'the Ethiopians did not retire from all Egypt, but 
only from the central or Memphitic region. In the Hebrew 
history this Tirhakah is found ready to meet Sennacherib in 
Palestine, so that he evidently had power of passage through 
Egypt, and far greater ability to make war than Sethos. This 
may suggest that there was not merely a close alliance between 
the two powers at this time (which seems undeniable), but 
that the priest was kept on his throne by Ethiopian influence ; 
which, though now in the background and avowedly with- 
drawn, pursued its own policy of aggrandizing the sacerdotal 
caste in Egypt at the expense of the military. We thus get a 
new insight into the union of the Egyptians and Ethiopians by 
Isaiah, in his prophecy after the siege of Ashdod (ch. xx.) . 

Tirhakah manifestly was more on the alert than the armies 
of Sethos to guard the approaches into Egypt against Senna- 
cherib, and sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to advertise him of 
his approach, as also to concert measures. Of this embassy 
we learn only through a prophetical piece in Isaiah, the ex- 
treme difficulty of translating which has given rise to the 
greatest diversities of opinion. The rendering however of the 
most recent expositor of high reputation 2 (who perhaps has 

1 Tirhakah is in Manetho's list of Ethiopian kings of Egypt. 

2 Evrald : Die Propheten des alten Bundes. 


scarcely his equal in knowledge of the Syro- Arabian languages) 
is eminently consistent with the general probabilities of the 
war. According to him, the piece begins with ch. xvii. 12, 
continues through ch. xviii., and should probably have annexed 
to it the fragmentary passage, xiv. 24-27, which is at present 
clearly out of place. The prophet opens with calling out to 
the " multitudes of rushing nations," the host of Sennache- 
rib, whom God shall rebuke and chase as the chaff of the 
mountains : " Behold ! at eventime trouble ; and before the 
morning, the enemy is no more ! Such is the portion of them 
that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us." This indicates 
that the ravaging of the land was already begun. But in the 
second stanza he proceeds to address the Ethiopian ambassa- 
dors in words of honour : " Oh land of winged boats, beyond 
the rivers of Ethiopia 1 , which sendest ambassadors by the sea, 
and in bulrush-vessels over the water : return, swift messen- 
gers, to a people tall 2 and slim, to a people terrible ever since 
it first was; a nation of vast strength and treading down; 
whose land rivers intersect." The prophet ends his third 
stanza by declaring that hereafter " a present shall be brought 

to Jehovah from the people tall and slim " which implies 

no such repugnance towards their aid as he may seem to ex- 
press concerning the Egyptians. 

While the Assyrians pressed their sieges and overran the 
country, great activity prevailed in Jerusalem to get the walls 
into the best condition for defence, and bring out the arms 
from the arsenal ; for it became very clear that the capital 
itself would soon be invested. Meanwhile a large part of the 
people, seized with despair, resolved to enjoy their wealth and 
freedom while it lasted. In the midst of the tumult of arm- 
ing, digging and building, while the prophets' voices were 
calling to mourn and to fast, the shout of festivity rang through 
the city: "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die 3 ." 
Like the " drunkards of Ephraim," Judah was disposed to 
drown his sorrows in the wine cup ; and Hezekiah saw too 
plainly how little he could depend on such subjects to bear 
the miseries of a siege. Hence, when a portion of the Assy- 
rian army presented itself, the heart either of the king or of 

1 Sennaar was to a Hebrew leyond the Nile and the Tacazze. 

2 The tallness of the Ethiopians, as well as their longevity, was proverbial in 
ancient times. 

3 Isaiah xxii. 8-13. 


his counsellors fainted. It was resolved to surrender before 
the invader should be made implacable : Hezekiah confessed 
his offence, and humbly declared that he would bear whatever 
punishment should be imposed 1 . The terms exacted of him 
appear to be lenient, especially in being wholly pecuniary : he 
was required to pay 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of 
gold. In seeking to raise this moderate sum, he had not 
merely to sacrifice all the available treasure, sacred or royal, 
but to cut off" the gold with which he had himself overlaid the 
doors and pillars of the temple ; nor is it stated that even so 
he was able to satisfy the demands of the Assyrian. 

The Jews in general, with the fate of Samaria before them, 
must have anticipated nothing less than expatriation or per- 
sonal slavery ; and if the war had continued, they would have 
been exposed to famine, pestilence, and casualties innume- 
rable. That the insulted majesty of Nineveh should be sa- 
tisfied with a pecuniary fine, which touched principally the 
honour of the king and scruples of the priests, appeared good 
news beyond hope. Universal gladness broke forth everywhere 
into mutual congratulations. The terror of battle had turned 
into pomp and parade, and all Jerusalem peered from the 
housetops to see the splendid array of the Assyrian army 2 . 
The quivered Elymseans 3 mounted in chariots or on horses, 
the shield-bearing Armenians, and other previously unknown 
people, might now be gazed at as curiosities. While the 
thoughtless were thus indulging in natural joy, Isaiah was 
filled with shame for the disgrace of Zion, and every cry of 
exultation caused -him a pang. " Her slain," says he, " are 
not slain with the sword ; her rulers have been captured with- 
out drawing the bow ; look away from me, labour not to com- 
fort me." Nor was this all. He now took a most unusual 
step, in fact without parallel, either before or after, among the 
prophets of Judah : in the name of Jehovah he uttered an 
oracle concerning the displacement of the king's prime minis- 

1 This important event is omitted by the Chronicler as dishonourable to He- 
zeJciaJi : such is his way. It is similarly omitted by the compiler of Isaiah 
xxxvi., and is the more marked because he otherwise adheres closely to the very 
words of the book of Kings. 

2 Isaiah xxii. 1, etc. 

3 We hear of Elymseans of the mountains and Elymseans of the plains in 
classical authors. (See Long's Map of Persia, published by the Society for the 
Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.) It is here natural to understand the latter, 
who are hi Lower Susiana. 



ter by a worthier rival, which took the form of a vehement 
attack by name on Shebna, who was at present Treasurer and 
governor of the House. We can scarcely doubt that this per- 
son had been a principal adviser of the recent treaty, and 
probably his whole policy leant towards the Assyrians. In 
punishment for his maladministration, Jehovah was about to 
drive him from his high station, and carry him away into a 
distant captivity. He had proudly hewn out for himself a 
family-sepulchre in the rock, imagining that his name and 
posterity would abide in Jerusalem ; but on the contrary, he 
himself "should die in a far land. In his place should be raised 
up a faithful servant of Jehovah, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 
to enjoy the full and unrestricted powers of government, and 
become a true father to the people and founder of a noble fa- 
mily 1 . Such a panegyric clearly indicates that Eliakim held 
Isaiah's policy, and was bent upon inveterate opposition to 
the Assyrians. 

The publishing of this invective must have made a deep im- 
pression on the king, who sincerely venerated the prophet. But 
what was to be done ? To disgrace Shebna for no ostensible 
crime, merely because he had been thus denounced, appeared 
to be unjust : to retain a man as prime minister against 
whom the voice of Jehovah had been uttered, was ill-omened 
and fearful. Hezekiah pursued an intermediate course. With- 
out dismissing Shebna from his service, or putting needless ig- 
nominy upon him, he lowered him to the position of scribe 
or secretary, and promoted Eliakim to the high posts of Trea- 
surer and governor of the House. How soon this took place 
will perhaps be questioned ; but unless we abandon our best 
guide, the compiler of the book of Kings, all was begun 
and ended while Sennacherib was still at Lachish 2 . This im- 

1 The meaning of the last verse of the chapter is contested. Although Hit- 
zig says the sense generally assigned is impossible, viz. that it goes back to 
Shebna, who is " the nail which is to be pulled down" Ewald, who has written 
since Hitzig, adheres to that view. It is certainly difficult to believe that 
Eliakim can be meant. Of Shebna' s captivity we know nothing. 

2 The popular chronology puts three years between v. 13 and v. 17 of 2 Kings, 
xviii. ; which proceeds upon an assumption that xx. 6 must have been uttered 
before the destruction of Sennacherib's army. This is by no means certain ; 
but if it were, we still ought not to do violence to the narrative in order to 
force the scattered chronological notices into harmony. Such an army as Sen- 
nacherib's could not have been in the land a second year without absolutely 
starving the population. The probability is that it entered in the early summer, 
and perished in the autumn. We here agree with Clinton, that Hezekiah reigns 


plies the change of ministry to have followed so speedily on 
Hezekiah' s surrender, that it would appear to the enemy as 
in immediate consequence. 

Since no Assyrian historian has expounded to us his master's 
policy, it can but be conjectured from the feeble outline of 
facts preserved. A great and sudden change in Sennacherib's 
conduct followed : there is an evident chasm, which we cannot 
confidently fill up. So much may perhaps give a clue. A 
century later Pharaoh Necho obtains as tribute from Jeru- 
salem the sum of 100 silver talents and one only of gold. The 
demand of Sennacherib is so very large in comparison, that we 
may doubt whether the whole sum had been raised when new 
events kindled fresh thoughts in the invader. He had not 
actually received the submission of all the towns of Judah. 
Lachish appears still to have been resisting, and it is certain 
that Libnah was not in his hands 1 . As he was preparing to 
invade Egypt, he chose to hold these strong forts himself, and 
not to leave them in his rear ; and when he met with refusal, 
doubts of Hezekiah' s sincerity would of course suggest them- 
selves. As he had demanded no hostages, what security had 
he against revolt as soon as he was departed? He had left 
the fortifications of Jerusalem untouched ; and the resistance 
of Lachish and Libnah showed that the capital city might defy 
his arms disastrously, if aided by Egypt and Ethiopia. If in 
the midst of such thoughts the news arrived that Hezekiah had 
displaced Shebna, who negotiated the treaty, and had put for- 
ward into chief power Eliakim, a partizan of a certain Isaiah, a 
fanatical opponent of the Assyrians, what else could he infer 
but that revolt was intended at the first convenient moment ? 
If the stipend required had not been all paid, he would seem 
not to be bound, even by the letter of a compact, against fresh 
hostilities : or supposing the whole payment to have been 
made, still under the new circumstances he could hardly do 
otherwise than insist on hostages as a guarantee of future good 
conduct ; yet if this came to Hezekiah as a new demand, it 
would appear to him perfidious, as though the Assyrian were 
stripping him under pretexts of peace before destroying him by 
war. From some such causes, hostilities flamed out afresh. 

from B.C. 726 to B.C. 697 ; Sennacherib invades him in his fourteenth year (B.C. 
713) ; and his sickness is either in the same or in the following season, when he 
has fifteen full years (or less than sixteen) more to live. 
1 2 Kings, xviii. 14, 17, xix. 8. 



To impute simple treachery to Sennacherib as an adequate 
account of his conduct,, is wholly unfair while we have the 
narrative of one side only, and that so imperfect. It is evident 
that a violent fit of passion against Hezekiah personally had 
at this moment seized him, for he now sent his messengers to 
Jerusalem with words of exasperation and insult, of which 
there is no trace in the former mission. Hezekiah's trust in 
the king of Egypt and in Jehovah are alike topics of his scorn. 
Nevertheless, towards the Jews themselves he is not harsh, but 
frank. He demands that they will pay homage to him by a 
present, in which case he will leave them to enjoy their own 
comforts "until he comes (after his conquest, no doubt, of 
Egypt) to take them away to a land like their own land ; a 
land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land 
of oil-olive and honey, that they may live, and not die." Such 
was exactly the spirit of Darius, son of Hystaspes, in carrying 
away the Pseonian people. However violent and cruel in de- 
tail and in its secondary results was the proceeding of each 
invader, yet the end at which they aimed was (in their own 
conception) humane and good; and we have no reason ta 
doubt that they meant to treat the population well, which 
they chose to transplant nearer to the centre of their power. 

This message came with three great officers, of whom Rab- 
shakeh was the chief spokesman, from Sennacherib at Lachish. 
A large army accompanied them, and when they could get no 
reply from the Jewish ministers (for such had been Hezekiah's 
order), we can scarcely doubt that it began an unsparing 
ravage in the immediate neighbourhood of the capital. At 
this crisis it is probable that Isaiah composed his thirty-third 
chapter, which opens, 

, O thou that spoilest, though thou wast not spoiled ; 

O thou that dealest treacherously, when none dealt treacherously with thee. 

He describes the " sinners" and " dissemblers" in Jerusalem 
as in great alarm of the devouring fire and unquenchable burn- 
ings (which the Assyrian host was inflicting?), yet declares 
that the righteous 

shall dwell in a lofty place: 

His stronghold shall be a fortification of rock : 
Bread shall be given him, his waters shall be sure : 

that is to say, the Assyrian siege shall not prevail against him. 
In short, Isaiah was still steadfast in the belief that Zion was 


"a tabernacle which should not be taken down," and the 
temple (as he before said) " a tried stone, a precious corner- 
stone, a sure foundation " and accordingly he exerted himself 
to the utmost to support the drooping spirits of the pious 
but less ardent king. Meanwhile Rabshakeh returned to his 
master, whom he found besieging Libnah. Just then the news 
arrived that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia was on his march to 
repel Sennacherib ; news which stirred him up to fresh rage 
against the Jewish king, as having merely sought to gain time 
by pretended submission while secretly negotiating with the 
Ethiopians. Yet he made no new attempts against Jerusalem 
farther than a war of words, in which he was decidedly infe- 
rior ; for his repeated message of defiance was met by a splendid 
piece of eloquence from Isaiah, which we still read with inte- 
rest and admiration 1 . The more formidable attack to be ex- 
pected from the Ethiopians, and Sennacherib's desire to pos- 
sess himself of all the fortresses on the frontier, forbade his 
concentrating his force on Jerusalem. And his career in 
Judaea was almost closed. The very next fact preserved to us 
is the dissolution of his formidable host without the hand of 
man. In the emphatic description prompted by devout gra- 
titude, "the ANGEL OF JEHOVAH went out, and smote in the 
camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men." So marvellous a drying- 
up of the flood, which had almost swept the land bare, even 
had it not been predicted, must have seemed a supernatural 
mercy, brought about by miraculous agency ; and if the re- 
ceived explanation is correct, that Pestilence was the secon- 
dary cause, this could scarcely be held to make the event less 
mysterious, if the words of Isaiah had been stereotyped on the 
day of delivery 2 . According to the traditions reported by He- 

1 2 Kings, xix, 21-34. 

2 This may lead on to a simple remark of perhaps no little importance. We 
are apt most unduly to assume that a prophet wrote his speech the same day that 
he delivered it. That may sometimes have happened, but it often was otherwise. 
We know by Jeremiah's own statement (xxxvi. 1, 2) that he did not commit his 
prophecies to writing till twenty-two years after he began to deliver them. It is 
equally possible, and indeed probable, that Isaiah did not write down his utter- 
ances against Sennacherib during the turmoil of the war ; and if they received 
their final shape from his pe"n after the event, he would almost inevitably (with- 
out consciousness of it) give point to all the predictions. It is well known that 
preachers never write a sermon exactly as they recited it from notes. Peculiar 
difficulties in orations of Cicero, and perhaps of Demosthenes, are solved by 
simply remembering that the date of speaking and the date of writing are not 
the same. 


rodotus, the town-population of Egypt had become so alarmed 
by the obviously impending invasion, that the priest-king was 
at length enabled to make up an army of artizans, who marched 
out against Sennacherib. But before they could reach the foe, 
an unseen hand had done the work of destruction ; whether 
panic smiting his people's hearts by night, or pestilence while 
he was sitting before Libnah, or the hot wind of the desart, or 
the quicksands of the Serbonian bog, while he was essaying to 
march into Egypt. Whatever was the cause, the army was no 
more : the Egyptians ascribed glory to the god of Memphis, 
and Hezekiah to the God of Zion. On the arrival of the 
news, all the dispersed detachments of the ruined invader of 
course consulted for themselves, so that Hezekiah's territory 
was instantly freed from the presence of an enemy. 

The gratitude of Judah burst forth into various hymns of 
praise, several of which are extant. There seems at least to 
be little doubt that the 76th 1 , 46th and 48th 2 are comme- 
morative of this great event, and there can have been few in 
the land who refused, for once, to become religious. But 
while glory was given for a little while to God, a more per- 
manent glory accrued to men, to Hezekiah among foreign 
powers, and to Isaiah among his own countrymen. The latter 
may seem now to have been at the height of his greatness. 
For ten years together he had held the same invariable lan- 
guage ; indeed from the commencement of his public career 
as a prophet he had proclaimed a doctrine similar in tone, and 
now crowned by success. The seal of the Most High appeared 
to have been put upon his testimony; and during the re- 
mainder of his tranquil old age he must have enjoyed universal 
veneration from his own people. Yet when from this distance 
of time we endeavour to gather up the general lesson which 
was to be learned, when we ask, not, what did Isaiah allege 
concerning Jerusalem and the Assyrians ? but, what does he 
teach for generations to come and for future conjunctures ? 

1 The poetical name Salem, for Jerusalem, is alleged by Ewald now to appear 
for the first time, Psalm Ixxvi. 2. It appears to glance back towards Mel- 

2 Verse 7 in Psalm xlviii. is rendered by De Wette and Ewald, " by means 
of the East Wind, which shatters ships of Tarshish." If this were a pro- 
fessed account of the destruction of the army, it would seem to mean a hot 
east wind, blowing when it began to march through the desart. We can hardly 
think that it means shipwreck, for there is no hint that Sennacherib took skip 
against Egypt. 


we find it hard to extract a moral worthy of the God who 
alone can suspend the course of nature, a moral justified by 
experience or by Christianity. Did the prophet teach that 
no righteous city can be captured by an unrighteous power ? 
Nay, but that is untrue ; nor in fact did he himself hold Jeru- 
salem to be righteous, for he stigmatized it as a Sodom and a 
Gomorrah 1 , whose time of holiness was all in futurity 2 . But 
did he then teach that Jerusalem, irrespectively of the holiness 
of its people, was secure against hostile attack, on account 
either of Jehovah' s oath to David or Abraham, or of the sacred 
temple on Mount Zion ? This is indeed the doctrine imbibed 
out of the psalms which celebrate this wonderful overthrow. 
The stream of Siloah, which makes glad the city of God, is 
henceforth a sufficient defence for Judah. Mount Zion, beau- 
tiful in situation, the holy seat of Jehovah, dwells under His 
protection ; her towers are unassailable, her palaces perpetual 
abodes. And out of this root sprang the fanatical confidence 
of Jeremiah's prophetical opponents, who believed that the 
holy Jerusalem was able to defy Babylonians as easily as 
Assyrians. Nor is it clear how to resist the force of their 
argument, except by questioning whether the God of the hur- 
ricane and the simoom more peculiarly revealed his thoughts 
of human deeds when he destroyed Sennacherib's host, than 
when he breathed a deadly blast on the army of Cambyses. 
Such events should warn proud monarchs and armed states 
of mortal weakness and the treacherousness of mere force ; 
but they do not in themselves express a divine purpose 
against him who falls, or in favour of those who reap the 

Sennacherib himself returned safe to Nineveh; and since 
he, of all others, on every moral 3 estimate, should have fallen 
by the destroying angel, our confidence is somewhat shaken 
as to the universality of the destruction. If so much of the 
army was lost that all disappeared, all would be supposed to 
have perished : the obvious probability is that the king did 
not go home unaccompanied, but like Xerxes from Greece, 
carried back a fragment of -his force, not intrinsically despi- 
cable, though small in comparison to that which had marched 

1 Isaiah i. 10. Also xxx. 9, xxxi. 6, etc. 2 Isaiah i. 26. 

3 That is, if the destruction of the army was by a special interference, and 
not by general law. This I add, because one of my Reviewers has, willingly or 
unwillingly, missed the sense. 


out from Assyria. Nevertheless his ignominious return roused 
the high-spirited nation of the MEDES, who had hitherto been 
the main strength of the Assyrian armies. Disdaining to 
serve any longer under one whom they began to despise, they 
unanimously revolted 1 , and inflicted a far severer blow on the 
power of Nineveh than that received on the plains of Philistia. 
The Median territory consisted entirely of highlands. It 
stretched from the great ridge of Zagros on the south-west, 
or the mountains of modern Louristan, to the chain named 
by us Elborz, which fences off the Caspian Sea. From north- 
west to south-east its limits are less defined ; yet it seems to 
have pressed upon lake Van in Armenia in the one direction, 
and on the Hollow Persia in the other. So great a tract of 
country, with so advantageous a frontier, could never have 
been subdued by Nineveh if it had been well-peopled and 
united. We may judge, from the anxiety of the Assyrian 
monarchs to plant new colonies in Media, that a large part of 
it was vacant; and when conquered by the Assyrians, the 
Medes were probably a much ruder race, and not subjected 
to any single sceptre. But in the Assyrian armies they had 
learned their own unity, as well as the arts of war, and their 
revolt cut away at once half of the military resources of 
Nineveh. Nor was this all : the ancient town of Babylon 
next gained courage to defy its northern master, and its ruler 
assumed the place of an independent king. This farther en- 
tailed the loss, not only of the Lower Euphrates and Tigris, 
with the rich province of Susiana, but also of the whole 
Persian nation, who were hereby entirely shut off from As- 
syrian contact. No greater proof is needed of the too rapid 
rise of this powerful and wide- spread empire than the ease 
with which it thus fell to pieces, without any previous pro- 
cess of decay, but in the very acme of its brilliancy and 
strength. It had not entwined itself with the habits and 
associations, more than in the affections, of the subject na- 
tions : and at the moment of revolt it had no other advantage 
than that which organization and internal concord generally 
give to a central power so assaulted. The nearer and more 
dangerous enemy was in Babylon, where Merodach Baladan 2 

1 About B.C. 712. Herodotus' s chronology is very nearly correct, if we count 
Deioces's reign from the revolt. Indeed it is quite improbable that a man who 
wins a throne by peaceful methods can sit on it fifty-three years. 

2 These events we hesitatingly receive from the extracts of Polyhistor from 


made himself king, having slain his predecessor Hagis, who 
had kept the throne but a month. Merodach Baladan was 
slain in turn, after a reign of only six months, by a new 
usurper named Elib, or Belib ; against whom at length, in 
his third year, king Sennacherib made an invasion. It proved 
successful : the Babylonians were defeated in battle ; Esar- 
haddon, son of Sennacherib, was made their viceroy, and 
the Assyrian empire was saved, though not in entireness. 
Sennacherib's whole reign was eighteen years, so that he 
may have lived nearly as late as Hezekiah 1 ; but his end 
was a miserable one. While worshipping in the temple of 
Nisroch 2 , he was slain by two of his sons. They escaped into 
Armenia from the vengeance of their brother ESARHADDON, 
who was already king of Babylon, and now stept into the 
vacant throne. 

The remainder of Hezekiah' s life was spent in a safety and 
tranquillity so contrasted with the former portion, that very 
few events have been recorded. Soon after Sennacherib's 
overthrow, or possibly even before it had happened 3 , the 
Jewish king fell into dangerous sickness, which some have 
alleged to be the same oriental plague as destroyed the As- 
syrian host ; apparently because a boil is named as coming 
out in him. The boil was poulticed with figs at the order of 
Isaiah, and the king was convalescent on the third day after. 
At this time the prophet, according to our compiler, not only 
predicted speedy recovery, but promised the king fifteen more 
years of life; and when asked for a sign of his veracity, 
wrought the miracle of making the shadow go back ten de- 
grees on the sundial of king Ahaz. An interesting poem or 
.psalm, composed by Hezekiah after his recovery, has been 
preserved, and shows the little progress which the best- 
instructed Jews had as yet made towards a doctrine of future 
personal re-existence. According to this devout king, earth 
is emphatically the land of life, and after death there is no 
feeling, no knowledge, and no piety. 

Berosus, preserved in the Armenian Chronicle of Eusebius. It proceeds to 
attribute to Sennacherib the foundation of Tarsus, which perhaps is an error. 
Abydenus absurdly adds, that he built a temple for the Athenians. 

1 The book of Tobit says that Sennacherib was slain fifty-five days after 
his return. But that book deserves no historical respect. 

2 I understand that Colonel Rawlinson regards Nisroch as the genitive case 
of Assarac, the great god of Assyria. 

3 B.C. 713 or 712. 



I said 1 , No more shall I see Jehovah, 
Jehovah in the land of the living ; 

No more behold man among the dwellers of the still land. 

Behold my sorrow has been healthful to me, 

And thou lovingly rescuest my soul from the annihilation of the grave ; 

For thou castest all my sins behind thy back. 

For the underworld praiseth thee not, 

Death celebrateth thee not, 

Those who sink in the grave cannot stay upon thy truth. 

The living, the living, he praiseth thee, as I this day ; 

The father makes known thy truth to the children. 

And for other than personal reasons, it was excusable in He- 
zekiah to be grieved at the prospect of death ; for it is proba- 
ble that he had as yet no heir : certainly his son and successor 
Manasseh was not born till about three years later. The land 
had not yet begun to recover from the late ravages ; a great 
distraction of the kingdom had taken place ; fear of the As- 
syrians had as yet by no means blown over, as may appear 
even from Isaiah' s words of comfort now addressed to Heze- 
kiah : " I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of 
the king of Assyria." The death of the king might have 
involved many new calamities to the people ; but happily, the 
event was delayed. The name of Hezekiah became renowned 
even in distant parts, where men measured him by the great- 
ness of the Assyrian whom he had resisted; and Merodach 
Baladan, the now independent king of Babylon, even sent 
ambassadors with a present, to congratulate him on recovery 
from sickness. We may also suspect that their duty was to 
report to their master, whether an alliance with Hezekiah 
against the Assyrians would add strength to him 2 . In the 

1 De Wette's Translation, Isaiah xxxviii. 

2 To this incident the spirit of moralizing (after seeing the events of a cen- 
tury later) appears to have attached some unhistorical particulars. Hezekiah 
showed " all his treasures" to the ambassadors; (but Merodach had vanished 
from the scene before Hezekiah had much to show :) for this act of pride Isaiah 
pronounces that the treasures shall hereafter be carried to Babylon, and all 
which his fathers had amassed (which must have been gone already, when he 
cut off the gold from Jehovah's doors to pay Sennacherib's demand) his sons 
also shall be carried away and made eunuchs in the palace of Babylon. Con- 
trasting Hezekiah with David or Solomon, the punishment might seem dispro- 
portionately severe ; yet the king receives the announcement with a false resig- 
nation, which combines selfishness with silliness. " Good is the word of Jeho- 
vah which thou hast spoken ! And he said : Well on ! Only let there be 
peace and truth in my days ! " 


fifteen years of tranquillity which followed, we are acquainted 
with no reasons which make it doubtful that the prosperity of 
Uzziah and Jotham returned. Countries like Judaea, whose 
culture depends on annual industry, not on fixed capital ela- 
borately invested in the soil, recover rapidly from hostile ra- 
vages, if an unimpaired population and vigorous government 
remain. These conditions were here fulfilled ; so that Heze- 
kiah in his later years may have been master of such trea- 
sures as were afterwards believed to have excited in him too 
weak a vanity. 

When it became fully understood that the Medes and Per- 
sians were in permanent revolt against the sceptre of Nine- 
veh, the Assyrians ceased to be feared in Jerusalem. Mean- 
while the neighbour country of Egypt was in its turn of more 
peculiar interest to the Jews, who had so many families fixedly 
established there. Its position became increasingly critical 
through internal struggles. The priests and military fell into 
inveterate dissension; the Ethiopians, who sided (it is be- 
lieved) with the priests, were unable to maintain their influ- 
ence on the lower Nile ; and before long, a most lamentable 
civil war arose, which temporarily rent Egypt into numerous 
independent kingdoms. This state is named the Dodecarchia 
or government of twelve powers ; but it cannot be ascertained 
whether twelve is here an accurate or a round number. Nor 
is the duration of this period of confusion and divided rule 
known ; there is reason however to believe that it reached 
through half a century. Already was it impending in the 
close of Isaiah's life, who appears to have bestowed his last 
words on the prospects of Egypt 1 . The sera is pretty well 
fixed by the altered tone towards Assyria, which was no longer 
an object of terror. The prophecy consists of two parts, the 
former containing nothing but gloomy anticipations, the latter 
wholly cheerful. The Egyptians, it is declared, shall fight 
against one another, and a cruel lord shall reign over them. 
The river shall be dried up, the reeds shall wither, the fishers 
shall mourn, the workers in fine flax shall be perplexed. The 
princes of Pharaoh in Zoan and in Noph (in Tanis and in 
Memphis) shall become fools ; all Egypt will stagger ; there 
will be no work for high or low to do. In that day Egypt 
shall be weak as women ; the little land of Judah will suffice 
to frighten it ; all will shudder on naming it, because of the 

1 Isaiah xix. 


punishment which Jehovah is sending upon it. But, after 
such humiliation, he who has smitten shall again heal them. 
In that day five cities 1 in the land of Egypt shall speak the 
tongue of Canaan ; there shall be an altar to Jehovah in the 
midst of Egypt and a pillar to Jehovah on the border ; they 
shall cry to him for rescue, and he will send them a mighty 
deliverer. Then shall Jehovah become known to the Egyp- 
tians, and 'they shall make offerings to him and perform vows. 

Perhaps it is impossible to find in previous Hebrew prophecy 
such words of comfort concerning any special Gentile king- 
dom. Egypt might seem to have deserved it, by her uniform 
hospitality towards the outcasts of Israel and Judah who 
flocked into her cities. To extend the same mercy towards 
Assyria, late the grim foe and blaspheming scorner, was a 
harder effort of charity ; but the greatest of the prophets was 
not allowed to depart with the contracted heart of a mere 
Jew. His bosom expanded to embrace Gentile enemies, until 
his " swan-song " forgot its natural harsh note, and died away 
into the accents of the Gospel. In that day (continues he) 
there shall be a highway to join Egypt and Assyria, and the 
Egyptians shall serve (Jehovah) with the Assyrians. In that 
day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, as 
a blessing in the midst of the land : whom Jehovah of hosts 
shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria 
the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. 

No grander and more lovely sentiment ever came from a 
prophet of Jerusalem, and it is delightful to receive it as 
Isaiah's last bequest. Since nothing more is recorded either 
of him or of Hezekiah, and we now close the first great sera 
of Hebrew prophecy, it may be suitable to cast a general 
glance over its extant productions. The most important and 
most honourable peculiarity is their purely moral character. 
The sins rebuked by the prophets Joel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, 
Isaiah, are such as we still hold to be sins ; such as man- 
stealing and robbery, incest and whoredom, cruelty and op- 
pression, griping treatment of the poor, impure idolatries, 

1 Jews were already numerous in several cities ; but the number Jive is not 
historically made out. 

The prophecy about the " altar to Jehovah " led (according to Josephus) to 
its own fulfilment ; for Onias was moved by it to entreat Ptolemy to allow him 
to erect an altar and temple such as Isaiah predicted in Heliopolis, and obtained 
ready acquiescence. Nothing is known about the pillcvr on the border. 


unnatural sacrifices, excess of wine, adultery, murder, trea- 
chery and deceit, vain and superstitious divinations, pride and 
confidence in human prosperity. But in these writers we read 
nothing about periodical fastings, ceremonial cleanliness, in- 
cense-burning, sacrifice of beasts, sabbaths, sabbatical years, 
jubilees, new moons, and other festivals ; little about tithes 
and first-fruits ; nothing about the genealogy of priests and 
Levites, threefold presentation of the person every year at 
Jerusalem 1 , sacrificing at Jerusalem only, unclean meats, or 
any other part of the yoke which neither Peter 2 nor his fathers 
were able to bear. We are not to infer that none of these 
things existed, as law or as custom ; most of them probably 
did exist ; but it is evident that they were not prominent in 
the prophetical view, since no one is rebuked about such mat- 
ters. And when in the prophets of the second sera we find 
an increasing estimate of such ceremonies ; when after the re- 
turn from Babylon the Levitical ascendency developes itself; 
when finally Rabbinism and Pharisaism flourish on the de- 
struction of simple spirituality ; we cannot mistake the career 
of degeneracy down which Hebrew doctrine was carried. 
From Joel to Isaiah it had stood on so noble an eminence, 
that we may wonder how anything inferior could find accept- 
ance. .This however is explained by the progress of events. 

Two causes may be observed to have given a new scope 
to the priestly ambition of Jerusalem. The former was, the 
removal of the High Places in Judah by the zeal of young 

1 If those are right who hold the unity of the second part of Zechariah 
(ix.-xiv. inclusive), a beginning of this zeal appears in a prophet contemporary 
with Isaiah (xiv. 16-19) ; yet only for the feast of Tabernacles. In that case 
however it seems almost certain that the threatened siege of Jerusalem in xii. 
xiv. was from Pekah and Rezin ; and several considerations occur : 1) Israel 
in xii. 1 could not at that sera, or at least in such a conjuncture, mean Judah. 
2) When Israel was leagued against Jerusalem, that could hardly be unnoticed 
in the prophecy ? 3) The mourning in the valley of Megiddon, which is al- 
luded to as past in xii. 11, seems to be rightly understood by Wichmannshausen 
of the mourning for Josiah's death there (2 Chr. xxii. 25). 4) Moreover the 
recent martyrdom of Urijah by king Jehoiakim (Jerem. xxvi. 20-23) gives a 
good explanation of Zech. xii. 10-14 ; while in Isaiah's day it is hard to con- 
jecture what martyr was intended. [" Me whom they pierced" seems to be an 
old corruption for HiinJ] These are reasons for espousing the opinion that xii. 
xiv. are from a later prophet, a contemporary of Jeremiah. As for the argu- 
ment drawn from the similarity of the opening xii. 1 to ix. 1, and other simi- 
larities of style, may not that in part account for these three chapters having 
been subjoined to Zechariah ? 

2 Acts xv. 10. 


Hezekiah and his advisers ; an act in which we believe the 
prophets to have concurred, as necessary in order to stop 
corrupt worship. In the retrospect, we cannot doubt that 
it would have been better to modify than to destroy the inde- 
pendence and the existence of the local sanctuaries ; better, 
so to uphold the apostolic application of the words, " The 
earth is the Lord's;" and not the hill of Zion only. Few of 
us probably realize the violence and greatness of the revolu- 
tion expressed in the words, " He removed the high places 1 ;" 
a measure which, as we have seen, the priest Jehoiada did 
not venture to enforce. It was just as though all Congre- 
gational or Presbyterian ministers in Wales or Scotland 
were suddenly expelled from their posts. As such expul- 
sion could hardly be effectual and permanent, unless Epi- 
scopalian ministers, under the regimen of a central power, 
replaced them, so in Judaea we can scarcely doubt that Le- 
vites took the place of the priests expelled from the high 
places. There is no crisis in the whole history, from which 
the residence of Levites in fixed country-towns, as local 
teachers in connexion with Jerusalem, can be so plausibly 
dated; and until better advised, we may assume this to be 
the real beginning of territorial Levitism under organic cen- 
tralization. It is of course possible, perhaps probable, that 
all who followed civil professions, as lawyers, scribes and 
learned "kadis" or local judges were already incorporated 
into the sacerdotal idea; and Levites, in this sense, may 
have been residing in all the considerable towns : but to re- 
cover the history of this Order is beyond our reach. As the 
ejected priests must before have lived on voluntary contri- 
butions, efforts would now be made to influence the conscience 
of the people to direct the same liberality towards the Le- 
vites ; and the duty or merit of Levitical tithe must hence- 
forth have become prominent in the sacerdotal mind. So 
also was it with the superiority of Aaronic or Levitical 
priests, without reference to their spiritual qualifications ; con- 
cerning which the vulgar were no longer trusted to judge. 
Moreover as the Passover and other feasts had been held at the 
high places 2 , the cessation of this worship forced the rustic 
population either to neglect the great festivals, or go up to 
Jerusalem to celebrate them. 

A second impulse to the Levitical principle came forth 

1 2 Kings, xviii. 4. 2 2 Kings, xxiii. 9. 


from the ruins of Samaria ; for,, in order to bring the scat- 
tered population of the northern kingdom within the sphere 
of Jerusalem teaching, the duty of periodical journeys to the 
holy city and showing honour to the high-priest there be- 
came topics of great moment. Thus in general, what had 
been custom, more or less prevailing, whether concerning pil- 
grimages or tithe, was now hardened into law ; and to give 
new force to it as law, it would need more peculiar incul- 
cation. Hence the reign of Hezekiah, which exhibits the 
prophetical spirit in its highest and purest energy, likewise 
commenced a ceremonial action which was to undermine and 
supersede that spirit. The events of the following reign per- 
suade us, that the religious party in Judah, having full sway 
over Hezekiah' s affections, in the last fifteen years of his 
reign strained the bow till it broke. The expelled priests 
and their friends had perhaps spent their resistance pre- 
viously. But when an exterior of religion was imposed on 
the nation, beyond what was generally felt, those whose fears 
or hopes made them hypocrites, secretly longed to overthrow 
the growing sacerdotalism. Such appears to have been the 
internal state of Judah, when Hezekiah prematurely expired 1 , 
leaving his son MANASSEH, at the tender age of twelve, as 
heir to his throne. 

The mystery of Manasseh's character, in contrast to that 
of his father and his grandson, cannot be wholly accounted for 
by his circumstances ; much must have depended on inward 
actings of the spirit, of which the historian can take no cog- 
nizance. Superficial observers might have expected that the 
son of a pious father, surrounded by religious persons from 
his early youth, would go the right way and second all their 
devout desires. Nor is it recorded that this did not happen 
for a time, until in advancing manhood new thoughts and 
feelings arose. When Manasseh was twenty-five years old, 
the same outside of religion may have shown itself in Jerusa- 
lem as in the year of his birth ; or rather, a still greater pre- 
tence to sanctity, in consequence of the accumulating impetus 
of sacerdotalism. But the voice of prophecy was nearly mute : 
nothing at least was uttered, so living in spirit as to outlast 
those times ; and if ceremonialism was rife, while hypocrisy 
supplanted sincere devotion, it is not wonderful that a youth- 
ful monarch, disgusted with the religion which fenced him 

1 B.C. 697. 


round, resolved to break it down. The time when this deter- 
mination burst forth is not stated; and the broad fact consti- 
tutes the sum of all that is preserved to us concerning the 
longest reign of all the Jewish kings. Fifty-five years was its 
duration; and through the greater part of it an unceasing 
war was waged against the worship of Jehovah, and against 
the influence of his priests. 

Nor did the king want pleas, drawn from just and humane 
topics, or perhaps even sound arguments, for altering Heze- 
kiah's system. No cruelties indeed against corrupt priests, 
like those of Jehu, have been recorded in the preceding reign ; 
but the violence of the revolution which expelled them gave 
a precedent for a similar ejection. The hardships inflicted by 
their expulsion must have left rankling remembrances in 
hundreds and thousands of bosoms. Antiquity, and the ex- 
ample of every king from the commencement of the existing 
rule, had pleaded in vain against the innovating spirit of 
Hezekiah's ministers. Those who bore with impatience the 
new Levitism would be able to ply Manasseh' s ear with the 
pretences of grave conservatism, such as Roman aristocrats 
and emperors used to pour forth upon the Senate in defence 
of antiquated mummery ; and the young king, who was so 
soon hurried down the precipice of intolerance, fanaticism, 
bigotry, cruel and besotted superstition, may really have be- 
gun in the belief, that he was only re-establishing ancient 
rights and redressing the deranged balance of toleration. 
Such being the outline of things, we might seem able to fill 
it up without consulting the book. The high places were 
rebuilt and their priests restored (perhaps from the sons of 
the expelled) ; altars were set up to Baal and Astarte ; the 
" host of heaven" were worshipped, as by the Sabseans. The 
king used enchantments, dealt with wizards and necroman- 
cers, and observed times by astrology or other methods of 
superstition. When he had a son old enough, he made him 
pass through the fire in the valley of Hinnom. So much is 
nearly the same as is ascribed to Ahaz and to Ahab. But in 
Manasseh the following points are peculiar. He set up altars 
to the Host of Heaven in the two courts of the temple, and 
introduced into the sanctuary itself a graven image of Astarte. 
Houses for impure men, connected with her odious worship, 
were built close to the temple itself, and in them the Jewish 
women wove hangings for the goddess. When Manasseh 


encountered opposition undoubtedly from the priests and 
the whole religious party, he resorted to the approved old 
plan of persecution, and shed innocent blood very much, till he 
had filled Jerusalem with it ; deeming, no doubt, that he could 
do as much by the sword for Baal as Jehu had done for Je- 
hovah. That prophets were slain with the sword in Judaea 
in these times, is distinctly stated by Jeremiah 1 . The object 
of his proceedings manifestly was to cripple or destroy the 
Jehovistic sacerdotalism; which trammelled him as a king, 
vexed him as an unspiritual man, or excited his scorn by its 
frequent hypocrisy. But he did more than he can have 
wished : he disorganized the whole nation, which could not 
retain its vital union without its peculiar monotheism. Great 
moral corruption spread through Judah ; his cruel measures 
accustomed the people to blood, and gave intensity to faction. 
At the same time we cannot doubt that the pretensions of 
sacerdotalism rose higher and higher by reason of the perse- 
cution, and (as among the Scotch Covenanters) divine right 
was claimed for every common ordinance or petty ceremony. 
Priests must have been angels wholly to escape fanaticism ; 
and we may well suspect that (like Christians under the per- 
secutions of Decius and Galerius) they imbibed some measure 
of guile. It appears indeed to have been a long and dreary 
time to the worshippers of the one God ; for, in spite of the 
false assertions of the Chronicler 2 , we have the authority of 
the book of Kings for saying, that no reaction in their favour 
took place, either during his reign or that of his son. It 
is also a fact which ought not to be passed without com- 
ment, that in the Martyr Age of the prophets of Judah we 
read of no miracle-working Elijahs and Elishas, as in the times 
of Jezebel. The distinction of the periods is this, that Ma- 
nasseh and Amon lived in a country and age which was no 

1 Jer. ii. 30. There are positive notices in the same prophet of the existence 
in these times of Baal- worship and sacrifices of children to Molech in the valley 
of the son of Hinnom (vii. 9, 30-32, xix. 4-6). We might have equally expected 
Isaiah to allude to it in theVeign of Ahaz, if it had then existed. 

2 He cannot bear so bad a moral, as that this guilty king should live unpu- 
nished and impenitent, and go down to his grave in peace ; so he brings up 
against him the host of Assyria, which carries him off to Babylon. There he 
repents and prays. In consequence Jehovah restores him to his kingdom. 
Manasseh takes away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of Jeho- 
vah, and the altars that he had built in the court of the temple, etc. etc. 

This we know by the book of Kings to be untrue ; for Josiah found them still 
there, and had to destroy them (2 Kings, xxxiii. 5, 6, 7, 12). 


longer illiterate, and much nearer to the times of the com- 
piler. Indeed, from this time onward, all pretence to mira- 
culous interpositions, great or small, vanishes wholly from the 
narrative ; a phenomenon too similar to that of other histories 
to be neglected by well-informed and candid minds. 

It is to be wished that we could accurately present an out- 
line of the contemporaneous Assyrian history ; but our infor- 
mation concerning it is so ambiguous, that it is hard to nar- 
rate anything with confidence. Provisionally however, and 
until the decipherment and accurate translation of inscriptions 
shall guide us better, the following may be received as some 
approximation to truth. Esarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib, 
having proceeded from his viceroy alty of Babylon to possess 
himself of his father's throne in Nineveh, next undertook to 
reduce the revolted Medes. After a severe contest he was foiled, 
and was forced to submit to see a new empire rise by his side ; 
for one effect of the war was to compress the Medes into union, 
and probably sufficed to make 1 any other form of government 
than monarchy impossible. This successful issue of the Me- 
dian struggle appears to have generated the confused tale, that 
the Assyrian empire was destroyed by the Medes while Sarda- 
napallus was king; for it can scarcely be doubted that Sarda- 
napallus is a compound word, and that its element Sardan is 
identical with Esarhaddon 2 . This prince is proverbial with 
Grecian writers as the type of all luxury and epicureanism 
while in his palace, though possessed of much martial ability 
in the field. To him is ascribed the founding of the two cities 
of Tarsus and Anchiale in one day ; of which the former com- 
manded the pass of Issus, and guarded northern Syria from a 
western invader 3 . It seems likewise to be he, who, with very 
severe loss on his own side, discomfited a Grecian army col- 
lected in Cilicia. He now cast an eye on the still vacant ter- 
ritory of Israel, and sent a new colony into it 4 . The mixed 

1 Herodotus ascribes the elevation of Deioces to the monarchy, after the re- 
pulse of the Assyrians, to his valuable qualities as a judge and magistrate. 
This is as an echo of the fact, that after the revolutionary war crime was com- 
mon, and the whole energy of the first king was directed to repress it. Hence 
his character was with posterity that of an energetic magistrate. 

2 He is called Asordan in the Armenian Chronicle of Eusebius. 

3 Tarsus (in the Armenian Chronicle) is ascribed to Sennacherib. It is also 
said to have been built after the plan of Nineveh. On Tarsus and Anchiale see 
the extracts collected by Clinton, Fast. Hell. vol. i. p. 275. Abydenus, quoted 
by him in p. 271, makes the victory of Cilicia to have been over a Grecian fleet. 
But what he adds about " an Athenian temple " overthrows his credit. 

4 Ezra iv. 2. 


population had suffered from the ravages of wild beasts, which 
had quickly multiplied over a large and empty land ; and, im- 
puting the calamity to their want of skill in propitiating the 
gods of the soil, they begged of the king of Assyria to send 
them some priest of Bethel as their instructor. Esarhaddon 
was able to gratify them, and a mongrel worship of heathenism 
and Jehovism arose, which excited the peculiar disgust of the 
monotheists in Jerusalem. Such is the beginning of the 
schism between the Jews and the new Samaritans. 

A reign of only eight years is attributed to Esarhaddon in 
Nineveh. Of his successors nothing is certainly known ; yet 
as the book of Chronicles represents one of them to have in- 
vaded Judah and carried Manasseh captive, impossible as it 
is to believe the last fact against the silence of the book of 
Kings, it may seem unlikely that the war itself was an in- 
vention. As Esarhaddon had taken pains to settle Samaria, 
one of his successors may well have invaded Judah, and have 
either ravaged it or exacted ransom ; to which a dark allusion 
seems to be made in the prophecy of Nahum 1 . It is however 
here only needful to say, that the Assyrian empire, though de- 
prived of its most martial, retained its wealthiest provinces, 
and was still a proud and imposing fabric. Its conquering 
aera was past, and the spell of its resistlessness broken; yet 
as long as Nineveh and Babylon were united, Susiana, Meso- 
potamia and all Syria were likely to be obedient ; and such a 
power seemed to have nothing to fear from Medes, Lydians 
or Egyptians. 

When king Manasseh died, he was buried, not in the se- 
pulchres of the kings, but in the garden of his own house. 
No reason is assigned for this; but we may conjecture that 
the royal sepulchres were consecrated by Jehovistic ceremo- 
nies, and that either the priests succeeded in refusing him the 
honour, or his son AMON, continuing his father's feud, spurned 
the royal tombs because of their associations. For Amon, 
following his father at the age of twenty -two 2 , served the 
same idols, and wrought the same evil. But he either did not 

1 Nahum i. 11, 13, ii. 1. 

2 B.C. 642. Twenty-two is the least age which we can attribute to Amon ; for 
it makes him only sixteen years older than his son. We have no check what- 
ever on these numbers. Since Amon is now made forty-seven years younger 
than his father, it is possible that twenty-two should have been thirty-two ; but 
conjecture is here uncontrolled. Eeasons will hereafter be given for thinking 
Josiah three or four years older than our text states. 


inspire so much terror as Manasseh, or was less cautious in 
his despotism; for after a reign of two short years, he met 
his death by a conspiracy in his own house. He left a young 
son named JOSIAH, only eight years old, to succeed him 1 . 

If, in order to ascertain the murderers of Amon, we were 
to apply the question of the celebrated judge Cassius, " Who 
gained by the crime 2 ?" we might fix the criminality on the 
priests. But this would probably be wrong. Had it been so, 
the royalists, who had for near half a century been in posses- 
sion of the government, would have been able to make some 
struggle against their opponents, and the sacerdotal cause 
might rather have been injured by its deed. It is more likely 
that Amon by insolence or tyranny alienated his own adhe- 
rents : he was murdered by his servants and in his own house, 
where the priests are not likely to have had influence so ex- 
tended as to conceal a conspiracy. But a faction among the 
royalists themselves so fierce as to end in the murder of the 
king, would break up the party, and help to throw public affairs 
once more into the hands of the priests. As at the murder of 
Amaziah, a popular movement and new election was called out 
by the event. " The people of the land," we are informed, 
" slew all them that had conspired against king Amon ; and 
the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead." 

His early years glided away without any event to have de- 
served record ; yet the time was one of important preparation 
through the land. There is no evidence that the priestly 
party were at first in full power ; if some of them were near 
the king's person, they were still too weak to attempt great 
changes, and many important offices must have been held by 
nobles reared in Manasselr's regimen, whom it would have 
been dangerous to eject. The rites of Baal and of Molech, 
with all their impurity and cruelty, continued in the land 
unmolested by authority. But in the course of eighteen 
years 3 many silent changes took place. The posts vacated by 

1 B.C. 640. 

2 " Cui bono ?" (a phrase commonly mistranslated). See Cicero Pro Milone, 
12, 32. 

3 The narrative of the book of Kings is here followed. The Chronicler, to 
increase the glory of Josiah, has made him a religious reformer in his eighth year 
of reign, at the age of sixteen, and before he had seen the book of the Law. 
This is refuted by Jeremiah, who did not begin to prophesy till Josiah' s thir- 
teenth year of reign ; and found the worship of Baal and Molech standing, at a 
time when the Chronicler pretends it had been for five years put down. 


death were doubtless filled by men of a new stamp ; the purely 
Levitical notions were imbibed with ardour by the best edu- 
cated youths and pious persons, who looked back with hatred 
on Manasseh's cruelties, and saw with disgust the emblems of 
his idolatry. So far then, outward circumstances were ripen- 
ing for a religious revolution. 

At the same time, literature was advancing : the period of 
prose-writing was setting in : the times were beginning to de- 
mand a written and complete code of laws. In most nations 
the process of code-making comes rather late : Custom gene- 
rally precedes Law by a long interval ; it is only in the case of 
colonies from civilized countries that the written code can 
well be coeval with national existence. As for the Jews, the 
century which preceded Josiah had been a time of preparation 
for a system of Statute Law, which should be accessible to 
the mass of the people. From the very beginning of the 
monarchy, Samuel the seer, and at a later time Jehoiada the 
priest, had laid up written memorials adapted to secure cer- 
tain rights against the crown ; but this was no code accessible 
to the people, nor was there as yet any order of learned men 
to interpret it. But ever since the reign of Uzziah the in- 
tercourse with Egypt had been steadily on the increase ; and 
the colonies of Jews and Israelites there were so considerable, 
that the absentees in Egypt and the exiles in Assyria are often 
spoken of in one breath (which indeed we have seen in Isaiah) , 
as though coordinate and almost commensurate. Although 
Egyptian art perhaps was sinking, Egyptian learning must 
have been at its height in Isaiah' s day; and wealthy Jews 
established in that country, where all the trials before a judge 
are said to have gone on in writing 1 , would necessarily gain 
more definite ideas of the value of a complete written body of 
statutes. Communication with the exiles in the cultivated 
cities of Assyria must have had the same tendency ; and it is 
more than possible that the severities of Manasseh against the 
public exercise of Jehovistic religion turned into retired stu- 
dents many who would else have been its ministers. The 
fact at any rate is clear, that a new school of learning arose, 
which was in due time to expand into Rabbinism, after com- 
bining influences from Babylon and Egypt with the peculia- 
rities of the Jew. The leaders of this school were perhaps 
rather Levites than Priests; for, with the development of 
1 Diodorus, i. 75. 


learning, the Levite had become independent of the Aaronic 
order, nearly as in the middle age of Europe the lawyers or 
legists grew out of the clergy and became an order of them- 
selves. But in the new school there must have been very 
various minds ; some disposed to heathenism and Egyptian 
mystery, others simple as Moses ; yet all eager for Levitical 
aggrandizement. Before their movement was fully ripe, poli- 
tical events of firstrate moment had burst forth from the dim 
distance of the unknown north in the earlier portion of Jo- 
siah's reign, which, after afflicting and still more terrifying the 
Hebrew nation, waked up anew the strain of prophecy. It is 
requisite here to trace back these striking phenomena, although 
they carry us far from the scene of Judaea. 

DEIOCES, the first Median monarch after the war of inde- 
pendence, had been an active magistrate ; by him internal 
order was established, and all the tribes of Media itself united 
under one sceptre. His son and successor PHRAORTES in 
consequence felt himself strong enough to attack the Persians, 
and by subduing them commenced an empire over foreign 
nations; which now reached southward over the modern 
provinces of Ears and Kerman. After this he ventured to 
make war upon Assyria, but was severely defeated and slain : 
such was the energy still retained by the empire of Nineveh. 
The new king of the Medes was named CYAXARES, son of the 
preceding; who having introduced great improvements into 
the discipline of his armies, overran Armenia, and extended 
the Median sway to the banks of Halys, now the Kizil Irmak 
in Anatolia. This district appears to have been previously in 
nominal homage to Nineveh : it now became a real and effi- 
cient part of the Median power. After this success, as is most 
probable, for we cannot expect from our excellent historian 
any exactness in the chronology of these events 1 , Cyaxares 
resumed the aggressive against his father's foes, and drove the 
Assyrians off the field, with a superiority so decisive as to con- 

1 Herod, i. 103. The lengths of the reigns of the Median kings, as of their 
contemporaries in Egypt, with the twenty-eight years' sway of the Scythians, 
may possibly be squared with the Hebrew dates by such methods as Mr. Clinton 
(an author more successful in classical than in oriental chronology) employs ; 
but when this is with a sacrifice of historical probabilities, it seems unreason- 
able to yield such deference to figures, which are exposed to so many causes of 
error. Of the twenty-eight years, nothing historical can be made : the Scythian 
invasion may have been about B.C. 630. Phraortes is supposed to have been 
slain in B.C. 635. The Chaldsean occupation of Babylon seems to be earlier 
than the fall of Nineveh. 


fine them to their fortifications. But before the strife could be 
terminated, a " lion from the thickets" of the north (to adopt 
Jeremiah' s metaphor) sprang out to devour both the comba- 
tants. The lion was a great nation of Tartary, who obtained 
the name of SCYTHIANS with the early Greeks. Themselves 
driven westward by the Massagetans, they were pressing hard 
upon the nation of the Cimmerians, who then occupied the 
country north of the Black Sea ; and the struggle proved of 
fearful interest to the more cultivated people of the south. 

Nature herself has erected a wonderful wall of defence for 
Armenia, Persia and India against the wild rovers of Russia 
and Tartary. The great chain of Caucasus, beginning from 
the N.E. side of the Black Sea, throws straggling masses 
across to the south of the Caspian, whence it stretches with 
nearly unbroken line to join the Hindu Kush, and so onward 
to the mighty Himalayas. The passes are very few, and can 
with great ease be secured by a civilized and vigilant power 
against barbarian inroad. Yet (so many have been the times 
of disorganization or negligence) the barrier has been again 
and again broken, and Persia has become the spoil of the 
Tartars. The Scythians of whom we speak, were named by 
themselves Scolotians 1 they talked a kindred dialect to the 
Sarmatians, whose later history is well known, and whose 
descendants appear in the middle age of Europe as the great 
Sclavonic nations 3 . At that time the Scythians had in com- 
mon with the Medes the warlike exercise of horse-archery, 
and when equal in numbers were so nearly equal in prowess 
that no one could predict which would prove superior. But 
they were essentially a roving people ; when they set forth, it 
was a nation and not an army in motion. Their women and 
their cattle came with them : hence their numbers and speed 
were overwhelming, when every man was a warrior and every 
warrior a horseman 3 . In beauty and swiftness the finest 
steeds of Media are likely to have excelled those of Scythia ; 
but in endurance the Scythians had the advantage, as at pre- 

1 After the conquests of Alexander the Great, the word Scythia was extended 
to include Independent Tartary and even Thibet ; and under the Romans the 
Scythia of Herodotus (or Southern Russia) was named Sarmatia, the Scythians 
having evacuated it under pressure of the Sarmatians. 

2 Prichard believes the Scythians of Herodotus to have been a Sclavonic 

3 Gibbon's twenty-sixth chapter on the Huns and Tartars is an able and 
eloquent description, which will apply to any ancient nation whose habits were 
generated on the same soil. 


sent the Turkoman cavalry. As far as may be judged con- 
cerning events so distant from our vision, in the crush which 
took place between Cimmerians and Scythians north of the 
Caucasus, a vast body of each nation, seeking pasture and 
pleasant abodes, migrated southward ; and while the Cimme- 
rians passed round Caucasus on the west and entered Anatolia, 
the Scythians found out an eastern circuit and came down 
upon Media. 

Cyaxares was called off from his Assyrian war by the star- 
tling tidings, and hurried to engage the barbarous invader. 
A total defeat of the Medes ensued. The conquerors spread 
over the whole country, and by their numbers and violence 
dissolved the Median empire for the time ; although their 
ignorance was too great to allow of their organizing a new 
government or taking any measures for permanent occupation. 
The fortified cities would generally be unassailable by them, 
but the open field was at their mercy. Enterprize, curiosity, 
or restlessness carried a large army of them far southward 
into the land of Israel, and even into Philistia; where the 
novelty of their aspect, their brutality and utter barbarism, 
made Jews, Philistines and Egyptians shudder. The town 
of Bethshean, on the plain of Jordan, is supposed to have 
been occupied by them ; we do not even know whether they 
found it empty or inhabited ; but from some occurrence of 
this date it gained the name of the City of the Scythians. 
Their mark however was Egypt. Before they could cross the 
frontier, they were met by ambassadors from Psammetichus, 
then king of that country, who by rich presents and clever 
persuasion induced them to turn back : yet on their way 
northward having entered the town of Ascalon, which seems 
to have been then under Egyptian rule, some of them stayed 
behind the rest and plundered the rich temple of Astarte 1 . 
None of these events could be unknown to the Jews, who 
looked with tremour and uncertainty towards the main body 
of Scythians, still rioting over the wide plains of Mesopotamia 
and Media. 

But the most permanent results of this great irruption were 

1 The Greeks call the goddess Heavenly Venus. The Scythians were subject 
to a singular disease, in which their men lost masculine spirit, supposed them- 
selves to be incapable of manly exercises, and would do nothing but women's 
work. Herodotus believed that Venus inflicted this on the individuals who 
had despoiled her temple, and on their descendants for ever. 


secondary ones. It broke the fetters of another rude northern 
people, whose name was known to the Hebrews from Abra- 
ham their great ancestor, a native of Ur of the Chaldees, 
though they had as yet no practical acquaintance with them. 
Their proper appellation seems to have been Kardim or Kards, 
an element which re-appears in the Carduchians of Greek 
writers. The Hebrews named them Kasdim, by a well-known 
change of sound ; while another dialect transformed the word 
into Chaldim, whence we have their European appellation of 
Chaldees. This people occupied the mountains which fringe 
Mesopotamia on the north, and, as the modern Kurds, in part 
wandered over, in part occupied the underlying plains. It 
has been much controverted, whether they were a nation of 
Shemitic language (who then proceeded northward and con- 
quered a part of the mountain region) or a nation of Median 
relationship which spread itself southward; but the question 
is nearly unimportant to history, and will perhaps never be 
decided 1 . Enough for us, that the bands of the Chaldees vied 
in enterprize with those of the Scythians : profiting by the 
general disorganization, they set Nineveh at defiance, in whose 
armies they had in all probability been used to appear ; and 
at its expense clutched for themselves many a goodly town. 
The first name on which we can reckon with any confidence 
as a king of the Chaldseans, is Nabopolassar, whose reign is 
computed from 625 B.C., according to the astronomical canon 2 

1 High authorities for the Shemitism of the Chaldees are Mannert, Olshausen, 
Prichard, and Grote : but the weight of opinion is on the other side. The best 
argument for it seems to turn on Gen. xxxi. 47, as proving that the Hebrew 
writer believed Laban (who had come from Ur of the Chaldees) to talk the 
language now called Chaldee. The importance of the question is exceedingly 
overrated, nor can we confidently hope that even the deciphering of the Baby- 
lonian bricks will solve it ; for what one interpreter might call Chaldee, another 
may claim as Assyrian or Babylonian. 

Grote (Greece, iii. p. 388), resting on Herodotus and Strabo, can see nothing 
in the Chaldees but Babylonian priests. That was certainly their later posi- 
tion, (or the later use of the name,) but nothing is clearer in the Hebrew 
writers than that it was not so originally. Magians and Chaldees seem both 
to have fallen from dominant tribes into priesthoods. The prophets so fami- 
liarly speak of the Chaldees as coming from the north, that until it is proved 
that Babylon was their proper home, our position is, to disbelieve it. Ur was 
in northern Mesopotamia. 

2 The Canon is to be seen in Clinton, Fast. Hell. vol. i. p. 278, and contains 
the names of kings of Babylon from Nabonassar (B.C. 747) to Nebuchadnezzar. 
Its earlier portion does not at all agree with the Armenian Chronicle of 

Nabopolassar is also named in extracts from Berosus preserved by Josephus. 



of Ptolemy. It is highly probable that this is merely the 
date of his becoming master of Babylon. His position made 
him appear as a natural ally to Cyaxares, who had already 
unlearnt fear of the Scythians, and was once more bent upon 
hostilities with Nineveh. In fact, the Scythian forces had 
wasted away of themselves ; from their numerous and dis- 
tant excursions, heat of the climate and disease, treachery of 
the people of the south, who intoxicated and then slaughtered 
them, and other causes that may be conjectured. Cyaxares 
is said indeed by Herodotus to have taken some bands of them 
into his own sendee 1 . The war against Assyria was at length 
resumed by him ; and as the Chaldees not only occupied the 
Lower Tigris, but by their primitive position in northern Me- 
sopotamia cut off the communication with Syria, Nineveh was 
left to a most unequal contest against the Medes. Of the 
details of the war nothing is known, nor the date of its termi- 
nation. So celebrated a city had not even the sad consola- 
tion of leaving to posterity a remembrance of her last struggle. 
Her sufferings are " blotted out by the sponge of Lethe ;" a 
harder fate, says a Greek poet 3 , than suffering itself. We 
can only infer that about the year 615 B.C. her waning star 
dipped beneath the ocean, where it disappeared for ever. The 
Medes at once took Assyria Proper to themselves, but re- 
spected the right of the Chaldees to Babylonia and its depen- 
dent provinces. Events moreover drew their efforts to the far 
west, where they fell into conflict with the wealthy and civi- 
lized monarchy of Lydia, small but energetic : for the present 

One extract is repeated, Antt. x. 11, 1, and c. Apion, i. 19 ; with the variation 
that he is called Nabuchodonosor, as also his son, in the Antiquities, Nabopo- 
lassar in the reply to Apion. Berosus, as a Babylonian priest, is likely to have 
known the Babylonian affairs of such a king : but the statements made to 
glorify him in this very extract are so grossly false, as to warn us against trust- 
ing the author. He represents Nabopolassar as lord of Egypt, Hollow Syria 
and Pho3nicia, over which whole country he has set a satrap. When the satrap 
revolts from him (Necho is evidently intended), he sends Nebuchadnezzar to 
make war against him, who captures his person, and recovers the provinces, 
etc. etc It is quite as false that Nabopolassar ever possessed a foot of ground 
in Egypt, as that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Africa and Spain, which Josephus 
gravely tells from Megasthenes. 

1 Herod, i. 73. The expressions of the historian here are not in harmony 
with the twenty-eight years' empire which he assigns to the Scythians over 
Upper Asia. In fact, all that we can believe is, that some detachments of them 
continued formidable at so late a time after the irruption. 

2 -&schyl. Agam. 1300 : 


Kal ravr' Ktiv(av 


therefore they seemed to have abandoned to Nabopolassar all 
the lower country of Mesopotamia, and whatever he could 
conquer of Syria. 

When the Assyrians were no longer able either to threaten 
or to aid the mixed people of the Samaritan cities, it was 
natural that the king of Jerusalem should cast upon these an 
eye of pity and of ambition. The events which follow show 
that Josiah now looked on Israel west of the Jordan as his 
own realm ; yet there is no trace of its being gained by war. 
We can therefore scarcely doubt that his claim of homage 
was readily admitted by the scattered population which had 
recently felt themselves so helpless against the Scythians, and 
probably also against Chaldee marauders; and the greatness 
of Josiah' s power was exaggerated to men's apprehensions by 
the severe sufferings of the neighbour states. Ammon in- 
deed l , and perhaps Moab, profited by the emptiness of the 
Transjordanic plains, and extended their border considerably ; 
but they had no hereditary pretensions to sovereignty west of 
the river. On the other hand, the nature of the case per- 
suades us that a large residue of genuine Israelites must 
have remained on the Samaritan territory, in spite of Shal- 
maneser. The ease with which Josiah' s pretensions establish 
themselves confirm the belief; and it is apparently assumed 
in some passages of the contemporaneous prophets, where 
Israel and Judah are combined or confounded. 

The reverses of empire which have been described stimu- 
lated the Jewish mind, and called forth several energetic pro- 
phets : Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah. Nahum, 
in Assyrian captivity 2 , was chiefly affected by the approaching 

1 Jerem. xlix. 1 ; Zeph. ii. 8. 

2 He is called an ElJcoshite. Elkush is still a little town on the Tigris, near 
to ancient Nineveh. Ewald, moved (it seems) by Nahum i. 9, " affliction shall 
not rise up the second time" is disposed to place Nahum' s prophecy in the war 
of Phraortes against Assyria. But we do not know whether Nineveh at that 
time came into any great danger. If it did, Ewald would seem to be right : if 
it did not, Nahum may have prophesied a little later, during the war of Cyaxares ; 
and this is the more obvious supposition, though nothing can be determined. 
In fact, we seem to be disputing about an interval of ten years, when it is quite 
uncertain whether Nahum may not have polished up his poem ten years after 
he commenced it. Some make Nahum earlier and Habakkuk later than we 
here represent. If those are right who refer the book of Zechariah to three 
ceras, Zechariah the second (or the author of chapters xii.-xiv.) is another con- 
temporary of Jeremiah. Ezekiel also will be afterwards mentioned. 

We may remark, that while in the northern kingdom the prophets are made 
most prominent by internal Baal-worship, in Jerusalem they are called out by 

o 2 


downfall of Nineveh ; but on those in Palestine the Scythians 
and the Chaldees made the strongest impression ; and since 
both came from the north, alike great equestrian nations, 
alike rude and fierce, allusions are found in these prophets 
capable of applying to either people, and possibly blending 
both in dimness of conception. Of the four prophets who have 
been just named, three belong to the old school. In Nahum, 
Zephaniah and Habakkuk, we have all the raciness of anti- 
quity, and high poetical vehemence. Jeremiah was younger 
than they, but was their contemporary by beginning his mi- 
nistry at a very early age ; he was the son of a priest and has 
a smack of the new cultivation, of which we have already 
spoken. Nahum and Zephaniah, the one in Assyria, the other 
in Judaea, prophesied at a very short distance of time, when 
the fall of Nineveh was impending. This is the sole topic of 
Nahum, and is glanced at by Zephaniah. The latter dwells 
on the corruptions of Judah in the early part of Josiah's reign, 
and threatens it with dreadful desolation, apparently from the 
Scythians. Philistia is implicated in the threat, as also Moab, 
Ammon, and even Ethiopia; but there is generally much 
vagueness spread over the gloomy predictions of this prophet. 
Habakkuk wrote 1 , when the Chaldees had suddenly made 
themselves known as swift and formidable marauders; and 
they are his main subject. He denounces them as given to 
excess in wine, rapacity and cruel violence, vices which may 
be expected from a rude people who suddenly become conque- 
rors of more wealthy lands ; he indicates that their ravages 
had been felt in " Lebanon," or the newly colonized northern 
Palestine, where they had laid some city waste ; for which he 
declares the judgments of Jehovah upon them. This prophet 
is rather Israelitish or even Gentile than Jewish. He neith( 
laments as past, nor predicts as future, an invasion of Juc 
by the Chaldees ; but calls aloud to all the heathen, that this 
nation shall " march over the breadth of the earth 2 , to posses 

times of suffering or by danger from foreigners, but are silent during the tyranny 
of Manasseh. Shall we ascribe it to the greater weight which legitimacy adde 
to the crown in Judah ? or to the influences of literature, which trusts mor 
in time and milder methods, and is apt to " temporize," because here is il 
strength ? Habakkuk may have dwelt in Israel, but his cultivation is fror 

1 About B.C. 620 ? The text refers especially to ii. 5-17, i. 6. 

2 The same Hebrew word means land and earth ; but the whole context 
guides us here to understand it as earth. See also i. 17. 


the dwelling-places that are not theirs." Habakkuk knows 
nothing of the foreign idolatry in Judah, nor yet of its refor- 
mation : his mind stands in no contact with the affairs of 
Manasseh, Josiah, or Jehoiakim, but is that of a cosmopolite 
Hebrew, like Paul. One might believe that he lived among 
the northern colonies and had suffered famine from the Chal- 
dee inroad 1 . 

Jeremiah's prophecies began to be delivered a few years 
after the Scythians first appeared in Media; but they were 
not committed to writing, in their final form, until Jerusalem 
had been carried captive in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, as 
the book states on its front 3 . It is too monotonous in its 
colouring to be of service for distinguishing the moral aspects 
of different periods in his long career ; yet it is of value for 
the general picture of the times. 

Small as was the influence of Jeremiah in his own town of 
Anathoth, where his extreme youth would make him unper- 
suasive to his neighbours, it was nevertheless probably a valu- 
able aid to the rising school of reformers, that two such pro- 
phets as Zephaniah and Jeremiah denounced in the name of 
Jehovah the prevailing idolatries. Many persons still retained 
a high veneration for the prophetical character, and the tra- 
ditions of Isaiah and Sennacherib must have been alive in 
every memory. There was also a prophetess named Hildah, 
who gave her whole influence to the cause of Jehovah ; and 
thus strengthened, Hilkiah at last moved in the cause of reli- 
gious reform in the eighteenth year of Josiah, when the king 
was about twenty-six years old. Either at his own thought, 
or at the suggestion of Shaphan the scribe, Josiah sent orders 
to Hilkiah to count out the moneys contributed to the temple, 
and apply the sum to execute necessary repairs. Shaphan 
returned, announcing that Hilkiah had obeyed the king's 
word, and had also delivered to him a book, the book of the 
Law, which he had found in the house of Jehovah. The scribe 
read the book to the king, who, on hearing it, rent his clothes 

1 Hab. iii. 17, 18. 

2 Jer. i. 3. See also xxxvi. Jeremiah was son of Hilkiah, a priest of Anathoth, 
whom some take to be Hilkiah the high priest. This is denied by others, on 
the ground that the latter, being of the line of Zadok, cannot have had lands 
at Anathoth, which was the patrimony of the sons of Abiathar alone. Nei- 
ther fact alleged is clear : yet on the whole it seems probable that Jeremiah 
would have entitled himself " son of Hilkiah the high priest," if that had been 


with grief and terror. Hereupon he commissioned Hilkiah, 
with four others, " to inquire of Jehovah concerning the 
book/' which was evidently quite unknown to him. What 
was the mode of inquiry which the king wished, or what ques- 
tions were to be asked, is not indicated : the commissioners 
however proceeded to the prophetess Hildah and " communed 
with her." They do not appear to have asked her the first 
grand point, and the only one of importance to us : " what 
was the age of the book, and who wrote or compiled it ? " nor 
need we charge her with evasion, that she does not touch 
on such matters. Her reply in fact is a mere echo of the 
threats of the law : " Jehovah will bring evil on this place 
and upon its inhabitants, according to the words of this 
book," etc. 

The king was exceedingly affected, at learning for the first 
time that idolatry was a sin which Jehovah threatened to 
punish by his severest anger. He forthwith summoned the 
elders of Judah and Jerusalem, and having made a great 
assembly in the temple 1 , read aloud to them " the words of 
the book of the covenant which was found in the house of 
Jehovah." After this, he himself took a public oath of alle- 
giance to Jehovah, to abide by the covenant of the book ; and 
was followed herein by all who were present. Then the vessels 
made to Baal, Astarte, and the host of heaven, and the image 
of Astarte herself, were brought forth out of the temple and 
destroyed. The houses of the impure votaries of Astarte at 
the side of the temple were pulled down. The horses dedi- 
cated to the Sun, which were set up at the entrance of the 
temple, with the chariots of the sun, met a like fate ; so too 
did the idolatrous altars, especially those erected by Manasseh 
in the two courts of the temple. The high places before 
Jerusalem, which Solomon had built for Astarte, Chemosh 
arid Molech, (mere ruins probably,) were defiled by approved 
ceremonies; as also was Tophet, in the valley of Beni-Hin- 
nom, so as to spoil the virtue of sacrificing a child to Molech. 
Everywhere he sent round to overthrow altars, images and sanc- 
tuaries of every kind, whether nominally dedicated to Jehovah's 
worship, or avowedly to a foreign god. The groves were cut 
down, and men's bones strewed upon their site. After this, 
of course the priests were removed who worshipped Jehovah 

1 The temple itself would not hold a very large congregation : but the court 
of the temple may be intended. 


idolatrously at the high places ; for idolatry was now under- 
stood to attach to the use of images,, even though Jehovah 
was the object : much more were the votaries of foreign reli- 
gion put down. But the zeal of Josiah or his ministers 
reached beyond the limits of Judaea ; he overthrew the altar 
and high place at Bethel and polluted them, as also the build- 
ings attached to the high places in the cities of Samaria. Here 
also was his only recorded cruelty committed: he slew the 
Samaritan priests upon their own altars, and burned men's 
bones upon them : which is the more remarkable, as nothing 
of the kind is implied against the perpetrators of at least 
equal superstitions in Judaea. Of course every kind of en- 
chantment and necromancy, together with idolatry in every 
shape, was forbidden; and after such cleansing of the land, 
preparation was made for a general keeping of the Passover. 
The statement concerning this which we read in the book of 
Kings by implication admits that this festival had never before 
been rightly 1 performed, as far back as history or tradition 
could reach : " Surely there was not holden such a Passover 
from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the 
days of the kings of Israel nor of the kings of Judah**" 

The very remarkable narrative, of which an abstract has 
been just presented, affords material for much rumination, and 
is indeed of extreme importance. A majority of modern rea- 
soners are accustomed to ignore it, and speak as if our Penta- 
teuch had been in the hands of a reading public from time 
immemorial, without any chasm between Samuel and Ezra. 
Others choose to assume that Manasseh had persecuted this 
sacred book, and that through his violence it had disappeared ; 
but that under Hezekiah it had been as familiarly known as 
in later times. But this assumption is untenable in fact, and 
wants internal coherence. We cannot imagine that Manasseh 
had been guilty of so grave an offence, when it has not been 
charged upon him ; an offence, which is of so new and pecu- 
liar a kind, that it must have drawn emphatic notice. But 

1 By rightly, I of course mean " according to that which the later Levites 
regarded as right." One of my critics has taken strange offence at the word, 
though his Chronicler speaks far more decidedly concerning old neglects, 2 
Chron. xxix. 6, 7, 34 ; xxx. 3, 17, 18. The zeal with which the Chronicler re- 
counts the killing, flaying, dabbling in blood and fat, roasting, seething in pans, 
caldrons, pots, etc., under Josiah, is quite worthy of old Homer: 2 Chron, 
xxxv. 9-14. 

2 2 Kings, xxiii. 22. 


again, granting that he did so act, it is certain that he must 
have failed, if the book had been for so many centuries the law 
of the nation. Numerous copies of it must have been in the 
priests' hands. It must have been well known to the Egyp- 
tian colonies of Jews, to say nothing of the Israelites in As- 
syria, whom Manasseh's power could not reach ; and immedi- 
ately on Josiah's accession, the book would have re-appeared 
in Judaea. Nor is this all ; for it is evident in the narrative, 
not only that it was lost, but that no one had missed it. No 
nation, while unconquered, ever yet lost the sacred books of 
its religion 1 , and forgot their existence : much less is that pos- 
sible, if the same books contain the practical code of civil and 
criminal law : to allege a discovery is to confess an invention. 
Moreover, the persevering and gross neglect of the plainest 
precepts of our modern Pentateuch, not merely by the less 
religious, but by the most applauded kings, is another mark 
that they knew no more of it, than young Josiah till the 
eighteenth year of his reign. The continuance of the high 
places, which drew after it the breach of so many other pre- 
cepts of the law, is an eminent instance ; but we may add, so 
is the neglect of the sabbatical year. According to Jeremiah's 
computation 2 , for four hundred and ninety years this institu- 
tion had been violated ; which is a confession that it had never 
been observed during the whole period of the monarchy. It 
is true that this may have been a mere theory, directed to ve- 
rify a text of Leviticus 3 ; but the theory could not have been 
held at all, unless the neglect had been notoriously inveterate. 
There is a passage in the book of Deuteronomy, here very 
applicable. Every king is commanded, upon his first acces- 
sion to the throne, to write out for himself a copy of the law 
from that which is kept by " the priests the Levites." Now 
it is evident, that if this had been done by those who are 
called the pious kings, by Hezekiah, Jotham, Uzziah, Ama- 
ziah ; by the priest Jehoiada, by Jehoshaphat, Asa, Solomon, 
David; by so moderate intervals do they follow, that the 
book could never have been lost, much less forgotten : and if a 
king neglected this duty, were there not prophets bold enough 

1 One of my reviewers refers me to the Lutheran resurrection of the Bible 
as a parallel case ; as if the Bible had been lost before Luther ; or as if the 
Bible contained the civil law ! To have recourse to such an argument simply 
indicates a desperate cause. 

2 2 Chron, xxxvi. 21. 3 Chap. xxvi. 34. 


to remonstrate ? The solution is simple and clear ; the com- 
mand was unknown alike to prophet, priest and king. 

But this leads us to mention some special grounds against 
the antiquity of this last book of the Pentateuch. In it, Moses 
foresees the contingency of his people's desiring a king, and 
does not condemn or reprove it, but seeks to regulate it : 
"When thou art come into the land which Jehovah giveth 
thee, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the 
nations that are about me," (the very words imputed to them 
in the history 1 ,) "thou shalt in any wise set him king over 
thee, whom Jehovah shall choose 2 :" that is, they were to allow 
the priests or prophets to elect the king, and all would be 
right. Now it is morally certain, that the prophet Samuel 
had never seen this law ; and that, if our narrative is correct, 
Jehovah never dictated it : for when the case occurred, Jeho- 
vah said to Samuel, " the people have rejected me, that I should 
not reign over them 3 ." In the same words this prophet ad- 
dressed the people, " Ye have this day rejected your God 4 ." 
But how so ? in doing that which he distinctly permits them 
to do? which he foresees without expressing displeasure? 
which in fine he orders to be done under the superintendence 
of his ministers? 

The -remark has already been made, that the prophets of 
Israel, who stimulated to the massacre of innocent royal chil- 
dren for the fault of their parents, were ignorant of that hu- 
mane precept in Deuteronomy, " The children shall not die 
for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin 5 ." 

One out of many indications that Deuteronomy is more 
recent than the other books is seen in contrasting the men- 
tion of LEVI in what is called Jacob's blessing and in that of 
Moses 6 . Jacob in fact does not bless but curse, and involves 
Levi in a common lot with Simeon. 

Simeon and Levi are brethren : 

Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 

O my soul, come not thou into their secret : 

Unto their assembly, my heart, be not thou united : 

For in their anger they slew a man, 

And in then* self-will they digged down a wall. 

1 1 Sam. viii. 5. 4 1 Sam. x. 19. 

2 Deut. xvii. 14, 15. 5 Deut. xxiv. 16. 

3 1 Sam. viii. 7. 6 Gren. xlix. 5-7 ; Deut. xxxiii. 8. 



Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce ; 
And their wrath, for it was cruel ; 
I will divide them in Jacob, 
And I will scatter them in Israel. 

But what says Deuteronomy ? Simeon is not mentioned at 
all; but, 

Of LEVI he said : 

Thy Thummin and thy Urim are with thy Holy one, 
Whom thou didst prove at Massah, 
With whom thou didst strive at Meribah : 
Who says of his father and mother, I saw him not ; 
Nor acknowledges his brethren, nor knows his children. 
For they observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. 
They shall teach Jacob thy judgments , 
And Israel thy Law. 
They shall put incense before thee, 
And whole burnt sacrifice upon thy altar 1 . 
Bless, O Jehovah, his might ; 
Accept the work of his hands ; 
Smite through the loins of his adversaries, 
And of his haters, that they rise not again. 

This diversity cannot have proceeded from the Divine 
Spirit. Both prophecies treat of the tribe of Levi, not of 
Levi personally, and declare the fortunes of that tribe in the 
land of Israel. The purpose of God was the same, and his 
foresight as clear, when Jacob was on his death-bed, as when 
Moses was about to ascend Pisgah. It remains, that the 
former song was composed when Levi was merely scattered 
in Israel, without any of the dignity derived from organized 
priesthood ; and the latter after the last remains of the tribe 
of Simeon had vanished in the days of Hezekiah. 

Deuteronomy, though more Levitical than the preceding 
books, has also a higher spirituality, and implies a more ad- 
vanced stage of religious thought. Its very excellencies are 
cumulative evidence, that it is not from the same pen as Exo- 
dus and Numbers. Numerous other discrepancies and con- 

1 In the whole book of Deuteronomy there is not a line whereby it could be 
learnt that a Levite was not equal to an Aaronite, for all purposes of sacrifice, 
etc. To the same effect is the omission of the name of Korah the Levite 
(whose sin consisted in pretending equality to the race of Aaron), Deut. xi. 6. 
Many phenomena suggest the hypothesis, that the religious revolution of which 
the external mark was the suppression of the local sanctuaries, was really the 
triumph of the Levitical over the older Aaronite party. 


trasts in detail might be pointed out, but that belongs to a 
special treatise. Many of them are explained away by those 
who have a hypothesis to maintain ; but if Moses had been 
no more to us than Mohammed, no well-informed mind would 
now doubt the diverse origin of the book of Deuteronomy. 
Even the English reader will notice the long roll of its sen- 
tences, and the same rhetorical fulness as characterizes Jere- 
miah and Ezekiel, having something of the fluency of the 
former and of the formality of the latter. It has peculiar col- 
lections of words, noticeable even in a translation, such as 
" the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee;" "the priests 
the Levites;" and according to the testimony of the best 
Hebraists 1 , its whole colour and composition fixes its origin 
to the reign of Josiah. 

No Hebrew lore is needed to show us the absurdity of sup- 
posing that Moses wrote the account of his own death and 
burial, and the closing summary, that " there arose not a pro- 
phet since in Israel like unto Moses." It is impossible to say, 
that a book which contains such a passage, professes to be 
from the pen of Moses, or that the man who wrote the book 
" is an impostor, unless he was Moses himself." To cut off this 
chapter arbitrarily, and then pretend certainly that the rest 
is from. Moses, is simple wilfulness. There is no appreciable 
diversity in style, and no difference in the channels of transmis- 
sion, between the first chapter of the book, and the last : and 
if the last cannot be admitted as Mosaic, we must assume the 
whole to be of later origin, until the contrary is strictly proved. 
Nevertheless, it concerns us little to be able to ascertain 
minutely the time and mode of composition, or to answer all 
possible objections; plainly, because a thousand things in the 
history of the past can never be explained, when no historical 
account has come down to us. That the book of Deutero- 
nomy was composed in the reign of Josiah, can perhaps be no 

1 There are respectableHebrew scholars (not first-rate) who entirely deny the 
fact. We need not impute it to any deficient sensibility in their acquaintance 
with the language ; for there are perverse modes of putting the argument, by 
which an Englishman may maintain that Hume's History might have been 
written by Lord Clarendon, or Macaulay's Essays by Addison. The question 
however is not whether such things are possible, but whether the evidence of 
the style does not make it improbable. 

In fact, the discrepancy is so great even in the English, that on hearing a 
passage of the Pentateuch read aloud, one can almost always discern, by the 
form of the sentences and marked phraseology, whether it comes from Deutero- 
nomy or not ; while there is no such diversity between the other books. 


more proved positively, that in what century the Iliad was 
written. We must be contented with probabilities, or, if they 
fail, with total ignorance. 

Nevertheless, it seems impossible to adopt the theory that 
Deuteronomy, as opposed to the other books, alone came to 
light by Hilkiah's finding. There is nothing so peculiar in it 
to harrow up the king's mind, which can account for the facts 
recorded. Its twenty-eighth chapter indeed is by some re- 
ferred to ; but this says little which is not already contained 
in the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus: and although the 
whole tone of Deuteronomy, as regards the Levites, distin- 
guishes it from the former books, yet there are no duties to- 
wards the Levites in it so new, that Josiah can have thought 
he was fulfilling the law, as read in Exodus, Leviticus and 
Numbers, and then have found himself condemned by Deute- 
ronomy. In fact, the course of conduct to which he is pri- 
marily impelled is the extirpation of foreign idolatry ; against 
which the earlier books are equally decided and severe as the 
last. It seems indisputable, that if Josiah upheld the rites of 
Baal and Molech, and left a graven image of Astarte in Jeho- 
vah's house, and while acquainted with Exodus, repented not ; 
neither would he have repented, when Deuteronomy rose from 
the dead. 

The four first books of the Pentateuch are to be regarded 
as a growth, not as a composition. Exodus, Leviticus and 
Numbers did not now begin to exist, but now received their 
final shape, and their public recognition in that shape. That 
general agreement as to their history is not yet attained, is 
no ground for doubting the broad fact, visible on very cur- 
sory examination, that they, with Genesis, are piecemeal works, 
made up out of pre-existing fragments, many of which are 
duplicate 1 accounts of similar events or laws, and often mu- 

1 The duplicates are sometimes so clear that no unbiassed mind can help 
seeing them, as in the story of a wife passed off as a sister, twice by Abraham 
and once by Isaac. So of the duplicate account of the Creation and of the origin 
of circumcision ; of the name Isaac ; of the names Israel, Bethel and Beer- 
sheba ; and of the revelation of Jehovah's name. Less observed are, the two- 
fold miracle of the quails (the latter implying ignorance of the former) ; the 
double description of the manna ; the double appointment or appearance of 
elders of the congregation ; water twice brought out of the rock, with a twofold 
bestowal of the name Meribah ; the duplicate narrative of Aaron's death (Deu- 
teronomy making him die before he reaches Meribah Kadesh) ; the twofold ac- 
count of the hostilities of Amalek and the curse upon him ; the double promise 
of a Guardian Angel ; double consecration of Aaron and his sons j double (or 


tually inconsistent. Indeed, commentators most zealous for 
the Mosaic origin and divine authority of the Pentateuch,, 
freely confess that it has received many smaller alterations 
and additions in later times, which they generally assume 
Ezra to have made by divine injunction. 

Finally, the high pretensions made for the Pentateuch are 
disproved by a topic which cannot be plainly stated without 
extreme offence, yet which it would be cowardice on that ac- 
count to suppress. Its prophecies indicate a marked acquain- 
tance with events which preceded Josiah, but nothing at all 
clear which needs to be referred to later times. The book is 
familiar with the tribes of Israel and their distribution ; with 
the qualities which characterized Judah and Ephraim, Reuben 
or Zebulon. It knows well the extent of David and Solo- 
mon's empire ; the conquest of Edom and its final liberation ; 
the fortunes of the Ishmaelites, and the desart over which 
they roved. It knows even the numerous wives of Solomon, 
his wealth, and his importing of horses from Egypt. It fore- 
sees the horrible fact of a woman devouring her child in a 
siege 1 , as in that of Samaria by Benhadad ; also the scatter- 
ing of Israel . by piracy and by invasion into many distant 
lands. It predicts not only the vanishing of Amalek from 
among: the names of nations, but the wide-spread power 
of Assyria, which shall carry the Kenites into captivity. 
Nay, it is acquainted with the Cyprian force which attacked 
Esarhaddon from the Cilician coast, and perhaps also de- 
clares the final ruin of Assyria 2 . But the Chaldees are not 
named as a conquering nation; nor had they yet become 
formidable to Judaea when the book at length came out. 
Knowledge thus limited to the sera which preceded its publi- 
cation 3 , cannot be imputed to a divine prescience, nor yet to 

threefold ?) copy of the Decalogue ; and others that need not here be stated. If 
some of these may have been real repetitions, no one will ever make it probable 
that that can have been the case with more than a few. Several of the dupli- 
cates are contrasted by the names Jehovah and Elohim. 

1 Whether this, reported as fact in 2 Kings, vi. 26-29, be history or legend, 
is in this connexion unimportant. It suffices that it was believed in Josiah's 

2 Numb. xxiv. 20, 22, 24. 

3 The return of the Jews from Babylon is not announced in any terms which 
imply prescience of that event. There is nothing but a conditional promise of 
restoration, if they repent, in words applicable to Jews in Assyria or Egypt as 
much as in Babylon, and as valid in the present day as at any earlier time. 


Whether there was, or was not, imposture in these transac- 
tions, is a question, on which there are, and will be, differences 
of opinion, even among those who are alike convinced that the 
Pentateuch in its modern form is later than Hezekiah. It is 
far from my intention to impute deliberate and conscious fraud 
to the composers of any of these books. Such an imputation 
appears to me every way gratuitous, and involving new and 
needless difficulties. Enthusiasm, inaccuracy, and a belief in 
dreams, appear amply to account for the growth of the nar- 
ratives, which incorporated with themselves the conceptions 
and belief of the day, or of the school. At the same time, I 
confess, I cannot myself shake off the belief that here, as in so 
many 1 other instances, the enthusiasm of many was assisted 
and heightened by the fraud of a few ; and though no one can 
say who were the fraudulent, Hilkiah and Shaphan seem the 
names most open to the charge. 

In regard to this topic, a majority of reasoners start with 
the very unfounded assumption, that Hilkiah and others must 
necessarily have been truthful in the highest and noblest 
sense ; in a sense so lofty, that of those Christian bishops and 
statesmen, whose names are prominent in history, but a small 
fraction has attained the standard. To choose and devotedly 
pursue a purely good end, is a high and rare thing in those 
who stand at the head of nations : to pursue that end by none 
but purely good means, is a still rarer virtue, even in Chris- 
tendom, in free England, under the light of publicity, and with 
the fear of exposure. Of the priests in Josiah's day, the pro- 
phet Jeremiah declares : if The prophets prophesy falsely, and 
the priests bear rule by their means ;" in fact, his whole pro- 
phecy is one long invective against them : yet modern com- 
mentators who profess to believe that writer, treat it as absurd, 
profane, and malevolent, to abide by his word, except as a dead 
letter. Of Hilkiah' s moral worth we know absolutely nothing, 
much less have we any proof that his veracity was more sen- 

The allusions to the captivity or dispersion apply better to the earlier one of 
Assyria and Egypt than to that of Babylon or Rome ; for it says, " there shall 
ye serve other gods, wood and stone." This we know by Jer. xliv. 8 to have 
been true of them in Egypt, and it was probably true of them in Assyria, but 
certainly not in later times, to which most persons refer Deut. xxviii, 

1 The British Quarterly reviewer triumphantly asks me, to tell him of " any 
nation that was ever revolutionized by the fabrication of a ritual." I suppose 
he regards the Book of MORMON as a fabrication. It has produced a vastly 
greater revolution than Josiah's Pentateuch, which introduced no new religion, 
but only gave new sanctions to an old one. 


sitive than that of a Chrysostom or a Justin Martyr, with 
whom Sybilline or other "pious frauds," which helped a 
Christian advocate, certainly met with no reproof. What is 
more ; neither do we know, what was the total amount of re- 
sponsibility definitely assumed by Hilkiah, or by any one else ; 
nor, in our total ignorance of the men, is it rational to found 
any conclusions on personal character. Our sole considera- 
tion is with the book and the history. If the evidence turns 
against it, then, even did it assume such a shape as to indicate 
the grossest conscious fraud in Hilkiah, we should merely 
have to adapt our view of his morality to such a state of the 
argument. In no case can any support whatever to the ge- 
nuineness and antiquity of the book be found by declamation 
about the impossibility of Jewish priests and Levites perpe- 
trating a fraud. 

To recapitulate this whole event : the four books could not 
have been lost during Manasseh's reign, if they had in the pre- 
ceding centuries been the public and avowed national law ; 
the narrative is not satisfied by supposing Deuteronomy alone 
to have been then first made authoritative ; and the mortifi- 
cation to our prepossessions which that hypothesis brings on 
is as great as that of the more obvious interpretation. We 
farther jind that Josiah entered into no investigation whether 
the documents presented to him by Hilkiah were genuine and 
authentic, but adopted them under a crisis of religious fervour, 
through the impression which the threats of the book made 
upon his feelings ; that the prophetess Hildah, who was con- 
sulted, forbore to moot any question about human authenticity, 
yet was supposed by her reply to decide all that was requisite 
to be known. And here is the kernel of the matter. Early 
Christian Fathers believed the law of Moses to have been 
destroyed and lost in the Babylonian captivity, yet to have 
been re-written by Ezra under divine inspiration. This did not 
startle their imagination or embarrass their faith. Just so, 
with the religious men of Josiah's day the question was, not 1 
whether the pen of Moses wrote, but whether the voice of 
Jehovah guaranteed the book; and the latter point they 
settled by methods unknown to us, but satisfactory to them- 
selves. Such topics as " genuineness and authenticity " never 
dawn on the minds of spiritual persons, except where a litera- 

1 My North British critic (No. 35) tells his readers that I say, the Book of 
Deuteronomy "was palmed on the young king a* the autograph of Moses" p. 145. 


ture exists which is beyond the cognizance of the national 
religion. Had not a Vico and a Bentley gone first, a Geddes, 
an Eichhorn and a Gesenius would not have appeared in 
modern times. 

If it be thought that many a shrewd worldly man, when 
the excitement of the time was past, would have discerned the 
whole proceeding to be an imposture ; it must be remembered 
that public opposition was unsafe ; it would have been ascribed 
to sympathy with idolaters ; and the slaughter of the Sama- 
ritan priests was a broad and unmistakeable warning to adver- 
saries 1 . It does not appear that the law was even now pub- 
lished : certainly it was not statedly read aloud to the people 
until the institution of synagogues under Ezra. That the pro- 
phets had access to it, is soon manifest in the numerous imi- 
tations of its phraseology, as in Jeremiah ; but if it had been 
widely diffused, if, for instance, it had found its way to 
Egypt, it is difficult to think that the story of its being lost 
under Nebuchadnezzar could have arisen. Even if it had been 
publicly exposed to the cavils of objectors, we could not now 
expect any record of their criticism, which is likely to have 
dealt in sarcasm and vituperation, but to have been destitute 
of argument, against that which did not pretend to rest on ar- 
gument. That bold unbelief did exist, and perhaps abound, 
the prophets assure us. 

When this great external reform had taken place, Josiah 
appeared to be at the height of Jewish glory. His nominal 
sway extended over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba. 
It was easy and even natural to ascribe this to his piety, and 
fondly to imagine that the reign of Solomon was about to re- 
turn in greater purity. At this time it is highly probable 
that the beautiful seventy-second Psalm was composed in his 
honour, which even in ancient times was mistaken for a last 
prayer of David over Solomon. The Psalmist anticipates that 
the reign of the king (or of the king's son 3 ) shall be extended 

1 The c British Quarterly' is greatly shocked, and says, that I hold this to 
have been a massacre and a sanguinary juggle. If he denied the fact of the 
slaughter, he might have a right so to speak, though he would not use such lan- 
guage about Cranmer's burning Anne Boucher. But I feel it rather odd, to be 
made guilty by a Protestant writer, because I cannot approve of slaying men 
for an idolatry with which I have no sympathy. 

2 It is not clear whether the king's son may not be a synonym of the king, as 
legitimate heir to the immediate predecessor. Yet it is quite in human nature 
to anticipate such things of a child ; as Virgil in his fourth Eclogue concerning 
the yet unborn child of Augustus. 


to Tarshish and to the isles; that homage shall be paid by 
the dwellers in the wilderness, and by the kings of Seba and 
Sheba; that the righteous shall nourish and peace be per- 
petual. At last he warms into words so high, as appear to 
transcend all other greatness than that of the Anointed King, 
of whom so many prophets had spoken. Whether the Psalm- 
ist hoped that Josiah, or the son of Josiah, was to be he, can- 
not distinctly be asserted : meanwhile, to turn from the ideal 
to the actual, the state of Judaea was by no means so satisfac- 
tory; there was in it, to a discerning eye, very much to alarm 
and little to give solid assurance. 

Three successive violent revolutions, under Hezekiah, Ma- 
nasseh and Josiah, displacing the local clergy from the whole 
of Judaea, or constraining them violently into a new religious 
course, must have produced general effects much the same as 
the changes of public religion enforced on England by our 
Tudors and our Stuarts. A fair exterior was kept up by 
Josiah' s measures; but Jeremiah's writings prove that un- 
belief, indifference and profligacy were widely spread. Al- 
though the later king kept sedulously clear of Jehu's ferocity, 
the prevalent course of Jewish feeling from this time is not 
very different from that which we may gather concerning 
Israel. .Internal parties arose, and became peculiarly danger- 
ous when theoretical scepticism concerning the national faith 
was superadded to the inclination for a luxurious or lascivious 
heathen ceremonial ; and this was aggravated by the " false 
prophets" who now appear, as direct opponents of the true, in 
Jerusalem as under Ahab in Samaria. We are left greatly in 
the dark as to the very critical question, how people knew, 
or thought they knew, the true prophets from the false. We 
may however reasonably believe that men were stigmatized 
as false prophets only by the test which the book of Deutero- 
nomy 1 furnishes ; namely, by comparing the prediction with the 
event, when it arrived. It is clear that the author of that law 

1 Ch. xviii. 20-22. That no external signs of a " true prophet " were attain- 
able or looked for is manifest through the whole book, and is sarcastically al- 
luded to by Shemaiah, when he glances at Jeremiah by the phrase, "every man 
that is mad and makeih himself a prophet," Jer. xxix. 26. According to his 
doctrine, it was for the high priest to judge concerning true and false prophets. 

It is remarkable, that even the verification afforded by the event is in another 
place of Deuteronomy not allowed to be in itself an adequate test of an in- 
spired prophet. Even " if the sign or wonder come to pass," the prophet is to 
be stoned who persuades to idolatry, Deut. xiii. 1-5 ; a generous argument, ill 
applied to the cause of persecution. 


never contemplated such a thing as prophecy concerning far- 
distant ages ; for it is an appendix to and illustration of the 
command to slay every false prophet. No reason appears 
for doubting that the prophets Hananiah, Ahab, Zedekiah, 
and Shemaiah were as sincere as Jeremiah; but their predic- 
tions about deliverance from Babylon (aping those of Isaiah 
concerning Assyria) turned out false. They were possibly 
fanatical persons, yet were not the less able to attract devout 
belief from well-intentioned Jews. Thus did the very religion 
of Jerusalem fail at length to unite the people, partly because 
it was widely disbelieved, and partly because the religious 
body was divided against itself. The national bonds having 
become loosened, the progress of events was precipitated by 
foreign politics. 

Once more it is requisite for a Jewish historian to touch 
on the dark and disputed history of the contemporaneous 
neighbour-kings. The last time we had occasion to mention 
Egypt, it had fallen into civil commotion, and broke up at 
length into numerous kingdoms, or the system called the 
Dodecarchy by the Greeks. One of the chief cities during 
this period was SAIS, in the marshes ; and about the middle 
of the century a king named Psammetichus reigned there. 
His position on the coast threw him into acquaintance with 
the Greeks, and overcame his Egyptian prejudices. Perceiv- 
ing the great superiority of the Greek tactics and defensive 
armour, he took into his service a large mercenary body of 
Carians and lonians, and by their aid subdued all his fellow- 
kings, so uniting all Egypt once more under a single sceptre. 
Herodotus, our best informant on these events, is nevertheless 
not trustworthy as to the dates. Yet we may roughly com- 
pute the beginning of Psammetichus' s reign over all Egypt 
from B.C. 650, and regard the civil commotions and Dodec- 
archy to have lasted at least half a century. This Psamme- 
tichus is he, who by presents and flattery averted the Scythian 
inroad. With him begins a line of policy entirely new to 
Egyptian monarchs, which we can scarcely be wrong in ascrib- 
ing to Greek influence 1 . Hitherto, Egypt had kept at home 
as much as possible, avoiding maritime commerce and inter- 

1 Finding themselves neglected by Psammetichus, a large army of the native 
Egyptian warrior-caste (240,000 men, according to Herodotus) migrated up the 
Nile into Nubia. This is likely to have been connected with the king's use of 
Greek mercenaries. 


ference with her neighbours. Henceforth, Greeks are per- 
manently established in Egypt, as merchants, and as the king's 
body-guard. Tyrians, Greeks, and perhaps other strangers, 
are allowed to fortify factories on the Nile. The Egyptians 
become mingled in foreign affairs, and covet the harbours of 
Philistia and Phoenicia. Psammetichus besieged Ashdod (it 
is said) for twenty-eight years, and at last captured it : we may 
probably infer that the nearer cities of Gaza and Ascalon were 
in his hands. His influence must also have been widely spread 
over the nations south and east of Judea, to judge by the pro- 
jects of his son and successor Necho. 

Necho is supposed to have ascended the throne B.C. 616, 
and must then have already been past middle age. He en- 
deavoured to cut a canal from the Red Sea to the Mediter- 
ranean; a measure which could not have occurred to him, 
unless the nautical commerce of Egypt had now become very 
great. He built triremes, in Greek fashion, on both seas; 
and sent down the Red Sea, to sail round Africa, a squadron 
of Phoenician vessels, which completed their circumnavigation 
in the third year. It is conformable with the enterprizing 
spirit and power of such a monarch, that he undertook to 
avenge the cause of Egypt against Assyria 1 , for the injuries 
of a past century. Nineveh was already fallen as a governing 
power ; and its possessions, whether in Syria or on the Upper 
Euphrates, seemed to lie open to the first claimant. Accord- 
ing to the Chronicler, Necho' s march was directed definitely 
against the town of Carchemish on the Euphrates ; but as it 
seems incredible that this can have been his final object 2 , 
and impossible for a mere king of Egypt to keep such a con- 
quest, we can scarcely doubt that the fertile and beautiful 
land of Hollow Syria was his first and great aim 3 . The men- 
tion of Carchemish may have arisen from a confused memory 
of the renowned battle which took place there a few years 

1 The old historian says that Necho was going to attack the king of Assyria 
at the river Euphrates. Unless he uses the phrase Assyria vaguely for the Me- 
sopotamian power, as the Greeks say Medes improperly for Persians, we might 
infer that a king still reigned in Nineveh. Nor indeed do we distinctly know 
when Nineveh was taken ; but it was probably some years before this. The 
Chronicler, prudently perhaps, avoids the word Assyria, and says, the house with 
which Necho was at war. 

2 The town in itself could not be worth maintaining even to a king of Syria, 
with the desart intervening. 

3 The same strife was reproduced between the Ptolemies and the Seleucidse. 
Hollow Syria was the debated ground. 


later. That Necho should seek to possess himself of Syria 
was natural in itself, and was connected with another scheme 
of conquest : he coveted Tyre and the Pho3nician cities, which 
his grandson soon after attacked. But by sea it was hard to 
become superior to them ; whereas, if once mistress of Syria, 
Egypt would soon establish her ascendency over Phoenicia 
and its harbours. Such at least is the only plausible interpre- 
tation which we can give of Necho' s unexpected enterprize. 

A king of Egypt, designing such a campaign and possessed 
of a powerful marine, would hardly subject his troops to the 
wearisome and expensive march through the desert towards 
Philistia; but would transport them by ship to the most 
northern port of Syria, at which he could land without asking 
leave of the Phoenicians. The map at once suggests that he 
would select the bay of Accho 1 ; and this conjecture on the 
whole agrees best with the account before us. Josiah, we 
may presume, received the news that an Egyptian army was 
landing on the coast of Israel, the destination of which was 
doubtful : nor is it wonderful that it should have greatly dis- 
quieted him. If upon sending to Necho, he even received a 
true and distinct explanation of his designs (as appears to be 
implied in our account), this would not reconcile him to the 
expedition; for what would become of the Jewish power, if 
Syria and Egypt both fell under the same potentate who was 
already master of Philistia? what chance too had Josiah of 
confirming his present uncertain sway over Samaria and Ga- 
lilee ? So much for the undesirableness of Necho' s success. 
As to the Jewish king's ability to stop him, we can ill judge. 
It is possible that the Egyptian army, destined for a long 
march, was of picked troops, but not very numerous; and 
Josiah may have appeared well able to contend with it. The 
future war which he would thus incur, he might feel was fitly 
to be trusted to the overruling care of Jehovah, who would 
surely support a pious king of the line of David in warring 
for the integrity of David's land. In any case, if the Egyp- 
tians established themselves in the north, to have war against 
them or become subject to them would be the only alterna- 
tives proposed ; and if war was inevitable, it was better to face 
the necessity at once, before the Egyptians could use Syria as 
a sallying-post and centre of supply. 

Such, it is believed, must have been the motives which drove 

1 The modern Acca, oftener written Acre. 


Josiah to a measure, which by reason of the unfortunate re- 
sult has been looked on as an infatuation 1 . He marched out 
with his army, resolved to attack Necho' s rear, and hinder his 
passing through the land of Zebulon, Asher or Naphthali. 
The Egyptian warned him off,, with the assurance that he had 
no hostile designs against Jewish interests; but finding this 
to be in vain, he turned to meet him on the celebrated battle- 
field of Esdraelon, where Egyptian horse or chariots could act 
to advantage. Almost before the contest could begin, Josiah 
received a mortal shot with an arrow, and was carried off the 
field to Megiddon. His army dispersed, and Necho did not 
pursue them, but resumed his march northward. 

The body of the prince, cut off in the meridian of life at so 
unfortunate a crisis, when the greatest affairs were impending, 
was conveyed to Jerusalem, and buried in the sepulchres of his 
fathers. Universal mourning seized the state, which was now 
in just consternation at the power of Pharaoh, with the pro- 
spect of a young and inexperienced king to oppose him. Jere- 
miah composed a funeral dirge over Josiah, and a solemn 
unusual wailing was made, perhaps at Hadad-Rimmon 2 near 
Megiddon, where he received the fatal shot. Nearly the last 
of the kings of David's line, he is the first who fell in battle. 
This was in the year 609 B.C., and in the thirty-ninth year of 
his age, according to our authorities. 

1 The Chronicler seems to attribute a divine inspiration to Necho : " the 
words of Necho from the mouth of God," etc. (2 Chr. xxxv. 21, 22). See also 
Esdras i. 29, where Josiah is pretended to have acted against the express warn- 
ings of the prophet Jeremiah. 

2 Zech. xii. 11. 




IT is somewhat discouraging, as we step into the period of 
which our earlier annalist had almost contemporary know- 
ledge, not only to find the narrative become more meagre 
than ever, but to encounter difficulties of chronology ; a fact 
which tends to shake confidence in all criticism of earlier 
dates. According to the text of the writers, Josiah was but 
14 years older than his son Eliakim, and 16 years younger 
than his father Amon ; while Eliakim at the age of 18 is father 
to Coniah. Thus Amon would be a father at 16, a grand- 
father at 30, and a great-grandfather at 48 ; a result obviously 

The lengths of the reigns at this late epoch are not likely 
to have been at all doubtful to our compiler, though his text 
may have been corrupted. We ought not then (without ab- 
solute necessity) to seek a remedy by tampering with these. 
But the ages of princes are easily mistaken. That Josiah 
was a boy at his accession, and Amon a very young man, need 
not be questioned; but if Josiah was 11, not 8 years old, and 
Amon was 26, not 22, such errors need not surprize us. Per- 
haps then we must here resort to the arbitrary method of 
so correcting their ages 1 , which does not disturb the received 

Josiah had three sons known to us in the history ; Eliakim, 

1 We thus obtain the following scheme : 

Birth in Accession in 















The numbers marked f are in the Bible text 22 and 8. If in preference to 
this change we seek to lower the ages of Eliakim and Coniah, we are stopped 


Shallum and Mattaniah, who were respectively aged 25, 23 
and 10 years at his death. To these in the genealogy of the 
Chronicles we find a son Johanan superadded, as eldest of 
all 1 ; if so,, we may suppose him but months or days older 
than Eliakim, and born by a different mother. Still, the evi- 
dence of that text is the less valuable, as it makes Shallum 
younger than Mattaniah, which is undoubtedly erroneous. 

We now return to the history. Upon the violent death of 
the king, the same formula is used as upon the murder of 
Amaziah and again of Amon 2 : The people of the land took 
Shallum the son of Josiah, and anointed him and made him 
king in his father's stead. It is hence probable, that it had 
become a constitutional custom in Judah for the sovereign 
himself, after the manner of David, Rehoboam, and Jehosha- 
phat, to appoint a successor out of the number of his sons ; 
although this by no means superseded the formality of a 
constitutional coronation, at least since the revolution under 
Jehoiada. But when a king had been suddenly cut off with- 
out nominating his heir, a popular election was requisite; 
and on this occasion, unfortunately perhaps, the people did 
not choose Eliakim or Johanan, the elder sons, but Shallum. 
This prince on his elevation took Jehoahaz 3 as a new or royal 
name ; a practice which is repeated in the case of every king 
who follows him, but is mentioned in regard to none of his 
predecessors 4 . It is known to have been a practice of Persia ; 

by finding Coniah to have a seraglio of wives in his short reign of three 
months. See Jerem. xxii. 24, 28, xxix. 2 ; 2 Kings, xxiv. 15. This shows 
that the statement in Chronicles that he was only eight years old is erroneous 
or corrupt. 

The scheme here given makes Amon a father at 17, a grandfather at 34, 
and a great-grandfather at 52. Even this may strain our credulity. The 
Oriental Jews at present give wives to then* sons at a very early age ; so do 
Brahmins in many cases ; and the line of David may have done the same. 
Some might think this not unconnected with the fact of their being so short- 

1 1 Chron. iii. 15. 

2 2 Kings, xiv. 21, xxi. 24, xxiii. 30. 

3 This appears from comparing Jer. xxii. 11 with 2 Kings, xxiii, 31. " Je- 
hoahaz" means, Jehovah holdeth or sustaineth. 

4 In 2 Chron. xxi. 17, Ahaziah is named Jehoahaz ; but we find no reason 
to think Jehoahaz to have been the royal and current name. It is rather a 
transposition of the parts of Ahaz-Jah. 

It may indeed be thought that Solomon's original name was Jedediah (2 Sam. 
xii. 25), and Solomon (peaceful) the name given him by David on appointing 
him king ; but the plausibility of this is weakened by David's having given the 
name of Absalom (father of peace) to another son. 


and, as used in this stage of history by the Jews, may per- 
haps be imputed to a growing familiarity with the East. 

This election of the younger brother appears to have ex- 
cited a court-cabal among the partizans of Eliakim, who may 
be suspected of having opened a communication with Necho, 
and entreated his interference. It is evident that a powerful 
party in Jerusalem took that side; for without any farther 
war which is mentioned, and much more without the labour 
of besieging and storming Jerusalem, Necho, three months 
after the death of Josiah, arranged the affairs of Judaea accord- 
ing to his own will. His expedition had manifestly so far at 
least succeeded, as to put him in possession of the entire 
country of Hollow Syria. We hear of him as tarrying at 
Riblah, a town on the northern frontier of that district, which 
commanded the entrance from Hamath proper, and in fact 
from Damascus or Mesopotamia. This place lies on the 
Upper Orontes, and has never before been named in the his- 
tory. It is credible that Necho was occupied in fortifying 
it, with a view to secure his valuable and easily-won conquest; 
for hence he sent to Jerusalem for the young king Jehoahaz. 
He was brought, apparently without resistance, and there 
thrown into chains. Necho at once put the elder brother 
Eliakim on the throne, exacting of him in token of homage 
the sum of 100 talents of silver and one talent of gold. This 
may appear a small infliction, the least quit-rent or titular 
acknowledgment that could be expected, when we remember 
that Sennacherib demanded of Hezekiah 300 talents of silver 
and 30 of gold, and that Menahem gave 1000 talents of silver 
to king Pul ; yet it was seemingly felt as a heavy burden by 
the people of Jehoahaz ; for the elder annalist notes, that the 
new king ' ' taxed the land to give the money to Pharaoh ; he 
exacted the silver and the gold of every one according to his 
taxation ;" and the other expresses it, that " the king of 
Egypt condemned the land in a hundred talents of silver and 
one talent of gold." But we are now in the region of sober 
history ; and the enormous figures with which the Chronicler 
entertained us in the more distant times can have no place 
here 1 . 

Necho, returning to Egypt, carried away Jehoahaz with 
him as a valuable hostage for the good behaviour of the new 

1 In 1 Chron. xxii. 14, David laid up for Jehovah 1,000,000 talents of silver, 
and 100,000 talents of gold. 


king, against whom he could now at any time let Jehoahaz 
loose. This was a policy which the Romans afterwards learned 
to practise; and the book of Jeremiah 1 shows that persons 
in Jerusalem speculated on the possible return of Jehoahaz 
through a change of policy in the Egyptian court. Eliakim, 
having assumed the name of Jehoiakim (or Jehovah esta- 
blishes), commenced his reign inauspiciously enough, as ob- 
taining his place by a sort of treason against the independence 
of his country. Patriots who remembered Josiah and had read 
of Hezekiah may well have been disgusted by this ; and the 
Levitical party would regard his submission to a foreigner as 
a direct violation of a command in the book of Deuteronomy 2 . 
The only events which can be recovered concerning the open- 
ing years of this king, concern his conduct towards the pro- 
phets. One who was named Urijah first prophesied against 
the city and the land. What he said is not distinctly stated ; 
but as it gave offence not only to the king and princes, but 
to " all the mighty men" or chief warriors, we cannot doubt 
that they regarded his words as calculated to infuse cowar- 
dice into the Hebrew army. Urijah escaped into Egypt from 
the king's anger, but Necho was readily convinced that an 
example was wholesome, to deter other prophets from weak- 
ening his tributary king ; so Urijah was given up to Jehoiakim 
and put to death. Jeremiah at this could not be silent, yet 
he did not directly attack the king. He however called on all 
the cities of Judah " to hearken to the words of the prophets," 
otherwise the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem should be made 
as desolate as his tabernacle at Shiloh. The priests and many 
of the j/rophets now turned upon Jeremiah, and recommended 
putting him to death also; but his spirited replies, and the 
reverence felt for his character both by the elders and princes, 
preserved him. Especially Ahikam, son of that Shaphan who 
introduced the book of the law to Josiah, pleaded in his cause; 
so that he was only kept in prison 3 . 

Nothing besides is known of the three first years of Jehoi- 
akim' s reign, during which Necho had been pushing eastward, 
undoubtedly conquering Damascus, perhaps also northern 

1 Ch. xxii. 11, 12. 

2 Deut. xvii. 15. " Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, who is not thy 
brother." This text seems to have suggested to the Pharisees the celebrated 
question, " Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, or no ?" 

3 Jer. xxvi. 


Syria, and pressing to the border of Euphrates, until his pro- 
gress was stopped by the Chaldee power. The formidable cha- 
racter of this newly-risen and little-known people was perhaps 
imperfectly apprehended by him until, in the fourth year 1 of 
Jehoiakhn 2 , he suffered a decisive defeat at Carchemish on 
the Euphrates from Nebuchadnezzar 3 , a young Chaldee prince, 
who commanded the army of his father Nabopolassar, then 
fast declining in health 4 . Whatever the amount of Necho's 
loss in men 5 , the defeat was fatal to his schemes of foreign con- 
quest, for he had no resources to fall back upon : an Egyptian 
could not recruit his army with Damascenes or other Syrians. 
His ambition had overreached itself by its too rapid advance ; 
and perhaps even his person might have fallen into the hands 
of the victor, had not the death of Nabopolassar suddenly re- 
called the prince to Babylon. Yet as soon as he had secured 
himself in his father's throne, he resumed the aggressive ; with 
such a rush of unchecked success, that, within a year of the 
battle at Carchemish, he had swept off every vestige of Egyp- 
tian power in Damascus and Hollow Syria, and showed his 
armies as irresistible on the eastern side of Palestine. 

These events, as we have said, took place in Jehoiakim' s 
fourth year 6 , and immediately called forth the prescience of 
Jeremiah, who was still shut up in prison. In a spirited ode, 
having much of antique raciness 7 , he triumphs over the fall 
of Pharaoh, and predicts that Nebuchadnezzar shall overrun 
and conquer Egypt itself; after which the Israelites who are 
scattered are to return to their own land. Nor was this all ; 
the prophet further understood that Nebuchadnezzar was 
to become a universal scourge both to Judaea and to all the 
nations round about, who were to serve him for seventy years ; 
and when seventy years were completed, then Jehovah should 
punish the king of Babylon, and the land of the Chaldseaiis, 

1 The book of Daniel (so-called) makes out, in its first verse, that Jehoiakim, 
in his third year, suffered a siege from Nebuchadnezzar ; whereas Necho 
master in those parts until after the battle of Carchemish in Jehoiakim' sfo't 

2 B.C. 605. 3 Jer. xlvi. 2. 4 Joseph, c. Apion, i. 19. 

5 Josephus (Antiqq. x. 6, 1) says that Necho " lost many tens of thousands i 
men in the battle ;" but it is evident that he had no other means of informat' 
than we, and he inferred the greatness of the slaughter from the great resi 
of the victory. 

That Necho fell into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (avrov rov airoffrc 
eKvpievo-e) is asserted by Berosus in Josephus, but is undoubtedly false. 

6 B.C. 605. 7 Ch. xlvi. 


and make it perpetual desolations 1 . This is memorable, as the 
beginning of a remarkable series of prophecies against Ba- 
bylon, which have received either a most accurate or a very 
plausible fulfilment 2 . It will be observed also, that the pro- 
phecy of Jewish captivity in Babylon for seventy years is 
but a modification and offshoot of this. Jeremiah moreover 
began at length to write into a book the prophecies which 
hitherto had been only uttered by word of mouth, and re- 
tained in his memory, for twenty-three years together. Ba- 
ruch, son of Neriah, officiated as his secretary 3 . When at 
length the writing was finished, in the fifth year of Jehoiakim 4 , 
as he was himself still in prison, he sent Baruch to read it 
publicly in the temple courts on a certain fast-day. News of 
this was brought to the king's council, who sent for Baruch 
with his roll, and made him read it to them. Upon hearing 
it read, they protested that they must lay it before the king ; 
but bade Baruch hide himself and Jeremiah too, and let no 
man know where they were. It may hence appear that se- 
cret orders were given to let Jeremiah escape from custody. 
When the king had heard a few divisions of the roll, in spite 
of the remonstrances of several of his princes, he cut it with 
his penknife and cast it into the fire. The offence which it 
gave him- is clearly explained. It was not that Jeremiah 
taxed the people or princes for vices, crimes, or idolatries ; 
nor that he threatened them with defeat, if they were thus 
guilty : but that he said, " The king of Babylon shall certainly 
come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from 
thence man and beast 5 ." Such prophecies have a tendency 
to produce their own accomplishment, by the panic or lan- 
guor of heart which they induce in all who believe them : nor 
did Nebuchadnezzar need any better aid for his schemes of 

1 Jer. xxv. 

2 From this date (B.C. 605 or 604) to the capture of Babylon by Cyrus (B.C. 
538) is sixty-six or sixty-seven years ; yet Chaldsea did not thereupon become 
" perpetual desolations." Babylon was still a flourishing city under Alexander 
the Great : and Chaldcea collectively can hardly be said ever to have become 
desolate, except by comparison. Its worst desolation has been in the last three 
centuries, during the decline of the Turkish empire. It is evident that the 
connexion in Jeremiah's mind was a moral one : but the delay of the desolation 
is fatal to this ; for it is absurd to represent the emptiness of modern Babylon 
as a punishment for the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. The true prophetical idea 
is much simpler: pride and violence dig their own grave ; and that is eternally 

3 Ch. xxxvi. 4 B.C. 604. 5 Jer. xxxvi. 29. 

p 2 


ambition, than that every nation which he attacked should 
have a hundred Jeremiahs. Undoubtedly no English general, 
however pious/ would, on the eve of an engagement, allow a 
prophet to announce to his troops, that the enemy would de- 
feat them disgracefully next morning : a general who should 
permit it, and afterwards suffer defeat, would without fail he 
himself shot by verdict of a court-martial. It is there- 
fore dealing very hardly with Jehoiakim, to condemn him, 
because he would not allow his people's hearts to be dis- 
couraged by Jeremiah, when attack from Babylon was im- 
pending : nor had this prophet any right to expect permission 
so to speak, unless he could give the king some other index 
to the truth of his prediction than the only one which the 
Pentateuch furnishes, viz. by waiting for the event. The 
case is the more marked, as no practical end is made pro- 
minent, except it be that of inculcating submission to the 
king of Babylon 1 ; which it is absurd to treat as a precept of 
religion. Modern reasoners generally assume, that Jehoiakim 
was to be judged by some technical law, differing from the 
broad universal rules of morality : hence they join in chorus 
again Jehoiakim, for doing that which almost all modern 
magistrates would regard as their clear duty. 

According to the text of Jeremiah (we know not accurately 
when this chapter was committed to writing 2 ), the prophet 
received secret orders from Jehovah to write a new roll like 
the former, and to add a solemn declaration against Jehoiakim, 
that, " because he had asked, Why hast thou written, saying, 
The king of Babylon shall certainly come/' etc., therefore, 
Jehoiakim should have none to sit on the throne of David, 
and his dead body should be cast out unburied. As the first 
j^ part of this prophecy is not true, unless accepted with modifica- 
tion, (for his son Coniah succeeded him for three months, and 

1 This is the view given by an able writer who certainly aims to be impartial. 

" In opposition to a strong Egyptian faction, Jeremiah urged the imp 
bility of resistance to the Assyrian [Chaldee ?] forces already on their march. 
But he spoke to deaf and heedless ears." Milman, Hist, of Jews, vol. i. p. 320. 
2 The total want of chronological arrangement in the book of Jeremiah may 
warn interpreters of the vanity of assuming chronological order in the earlier 
prophets. It likewise shows that he must have revised all his writings, and may 
have introduced changes, in his latest years. Indeed there is one striking fact; 
he not only makes no allusion to Josiah's reforms, but there is no change of 
tone in any part of this volume. The colouring of it is all suitable to the 
later period at which it was actually penned. We cannot therefore doubt that 
his memory failed of reproducing accurately the utterances of years long past. 


his brother Mattaniah for eleven years,) we should exercise some 
reserve in receiving the latter part as certain. Undoubtedly, 
unless we suppose the facts to be erroneously represented by 
Jeremiah against himself, or God to judge by other laws then 
and now, we cannot admit the idea, that it was he who sent 
this message to Jehoiakim. While religious teachers confine 
themselves to religious topics, the case is wholly different ; 
but when they invade the political arena, and (under what- 
ever inward convictions) so conduct themselves as to play 
into the hands of the public enemy, it is too much to claim 
for them the inviolable character of sacred persons : nor can 
we any longer suppose that they act under divine warrant, 
without lowering the Most High into a partizan of human 
strife 1 . 

No long time passed before the armies of Nebuchadnezzar 
appeared in Judaea; nor was any help from Egypt at hand. 
Necho was a very old man, now declining rapidly ; and he had 
had a severe taste of the Chaldaean arms. Accordingly Jehoia- 
kim had nothing to do but renounce his Egyptian connexion, 
and accept the terms of homage proffered by Nebuchadnezzar, 
whose tributary he now became; perhaps in B.C. 603. For 
three years he remained faithful to his allegiance^ but when 
Necho died 2 , and his son Psammis succeeded him, new plans 
and hopes arose in the mind of the Jewish king. Whether he 
had positive promises of succour from Egypt (a power born to 
disappoint and betray the unfortunate Hebrews) cannot be as- 
certained : Jehoiakim however revolted from his Chaldee mas- 
ter. It would appear that Nebuchadnezzar was unable at once 
to come in person and chastise him; but he sent up some 
bands of Chaldees, with orders to collect a mixed army from 
the neighbouring nations and prey upon the land of Judaea. 
These are recounted as Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites. A 
harassing warfare resulted, and it has been conjectured that 
Jehoiakim was slain in some petty action, and that his body 

1 This is a totally different question from the general one, whether Jehoi- 
akim was a wicked man or not. He may have been as bad as Jerem. xxii. 17 
represents him. As he came to the throne by displacing his brother Jehoahaz, 
it is probable enough that he exercised many severities against his brother's par- 
tizans. These (as well as his execution of Urijah) may be the " innocent blood" 
alluded to. Confiscation of their estates would follow of course : this may be 
the " covetousness" denounced. Yet it must be remembered, that we have no 
evidence against this king, better than the vague words of the man whom he 
pursued as a political offender. 

2 B.C. 600. 


could not be found. A mystery however hangs over his dis- 
appearance. Both our authorities are clear enough as to the 
throne becoming vacant 1 in the eleventh year of his reign; but 
they abstain from alluding to his death. The Chronicler states 
that Nebuchadnezzar " bound him with fetters to cany him to 
Babylon/' but does not say that he executed this design : in- 
deed he makes him plunder the temple during Jehoiakim's 
reign, which is undoubtedly erroneous. The chasm in both 
the writers is so marked, as to excite speculation as to the 
cause. If the king died in his chamber, disappeared after 
some battle, or was carried off by the enemy, why did they 
not state one thing or other ? Was it because they were un- 
willing to contradict the clear predictions of Jeremiah, that 
Jehoiakim should be cast unburied outside the gates of Jeru- 
salem like a dead ass 3 ? They well knew of the prophecy : if 
it was fulfilled, why did they not name it in the history ? We 
cannot pretend to decide in this matter. Some may even re- 
verse the view of things ; and without conceding foresight to 
the prophet, whose works were perhaps in his own hands to 
revise after the king's death, will think it unlikely that he ex- 
ercised such self-denial 3 , as to leave in his book a prophecy 
already falsified by fact. Such reasoners therefore will take the 
prophecy as an index to the history. But whatever theory is 
adopted, difficulties remain. 

On the death or removal of Jehoiakim 4 , his son Coniah be- 
came king, and took the appellation of Jeconiah, which is 
also written Jehoiachin (Jehovah foundeth] and Joiachin. His 
reign lasted but three months ; yet of this it is recorded that 
" he did evil in the sight of Jehovah, according to all that his 
father had done ;" words, from which in this connexion we can 
hardly infer more, than that, like his father, he persevered in 
resisting the king of Babylon, against the dictation of Jere- 

1 B.C. 598. 2 Jer. xxii. 19, xxxvi. 30. 

3 This difficulty is not peculiar to the present passage, and may possibly be 
relieved by the following considerations. There is no doubt that these prophets 
were devoutly persuaded that the words which they uttered were Jehovah's and 
not their own : hence when they had once committed them to writing, they would 
reverence them as profoundly as their successors did ; and if ever the words 
appeared to be falsified by fact, instead of renouncing them as Deuteronomy 
orders, they would probably seek for mystical interpretations and other such nu- 
merous evasions as are familiar to the ingenious theologian. Thus we have in 
Ezekiel, side by side, a prediction that Nebuchadnezzar shall make a spoil of 
Tyrus (xxvi. 12, etc.), and a confession that he got no spoil (xxix. 18). 

4 B.C. 598. 


miah 1 . Nebuchadnezzar had now arrived in person, and the 
siege of Jerusalem was pressed vigorously. Jeconiah, after he 
had reigned three months,, finding that no help came from 
Egypt, and that he could not hold out, proposed surrender 
while he might hope for better terms, and came out volunta- 
rily with his mother and all his chief officers. Nebuchadnez- 
zar desired to spare so wealthy a city, so favourably situated 
for maintaining the prosperity of the province, and thought to 
keep it in due homage by retorting the policy of Necho. Je- 
coniah, after his father, owed his throne to the Egyptians ; 
and Jehoahaz seems yet to have been alive in Egypt, as a se- 
curity for Jeconiah's allegiance. The new invader therefore 
set up, as king, Josiah's youngest son Mattaniah : and Jeco- 
iiiah, who, though only aged eighteen, had a circle of wives, 
was transferred with them to Babylon, as also his mother 
and chief princes ; partizans, it may be supposed, of the Egyp- 
tian alliance. Of course whatever treasure was to be found, 
in the palace or in the temple, became the spoil of the con- 
queror : to leave it was to leave a weapon of revolt with the new 
king. But when it is stated that Nebuchadnezzar "cut in 
pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon had made," we are 
merely warned of the narrator's credulity 2 . In the last chap- 
ter of history appended to the book of Jeremiah, 3023 is as- 
signed as the number of persons carried away on this first 
occasion 3 . In ch. xxix. 1, 2, this prophet himself enumerates 
among the captives, besides the court and other more eminent 
persons, the carpenters and the smiths, who are also named by 
the annalist. The latter writer roughly estimates the entire 

1 Only one half-chapter of Jeremiah is inscribed with the date of Jeconiah' s 
short reign : xxii. 20-30. No sin is there named against him, yet severe for- 
tunes are pronounced in a tone of exasperation. The closing prediction, that 
he should be childless, did not prove true ; but perhaps the meaning, in that 
context, is only that his children shall not succeed him on the throne. 

2 He even makes it the fulfilment of prophecy: "as Jehovah had said"! 
Compare 2 Kings, xiv. 14. 

3 The writer carefully enumerates the total number carried away by Nebu- 
chadnezzar : in his seventh year 3023 ; in his eighteenth year 832 ; in his 
twenty-third year 745 ; hi all (he adds) 4600. This distinctly shows that there 
were but three captivities ; and that that pretended by the book of Daniel (i. 1) 
in the third year of Jehoiakim is a fiction. Yet the exactness of figures does 
not add credibility to the writer. Such accuracy is unattainable ; and in fact, 
the largest number 18,000 seems more probable than 3023. 

It will be observed also that he places the first captivity in Nebuchadnezzar's 
seventh year. This appears more accurate than 2 Kings, xxiv. 12, which names 
it his eighth year. 


number now carried away at 10,000, or 18,000 according to 
one interpretation, and says that the choicest part of the army 
was contained among them. It may at first sight appear that 
the carpenters and smiths could not have been wanted, and 
that the sole motive of the removal was, to weaken the new 
king or viceroy in Jerusalem. But Nebuchadnezzar was now 
employed in immensely enlarging the seat of empire. The 
new Babylon was a vast oblong area enclosing the old town as 
its citadel, and was divided by uniform streets parallel to the 
gigantic walls. The general scheme of the city is that of a 
camp. A regular plan is formed by a single mind, and its 
outline is executed at once, but on a scale so enormous, that 
the parts are perhaps never filled up. This is what happens, 
when a conquering monarch determines to have a large capital. 
His first work is to make the walls and main streets ; to peo- 
ple it, is a more gradual affair. Meanwhile, it encloses large 
tracts of field and orchard, assimilating it to a fortified parish, 
and giving to it great resources of food, beyond what mere 
cities can have. Such considerations alone can explain to us 
the prodigious extent ascribed to the walls of Babylon : in 
any case, the magnitude of the works was such, that Nebu- 
chadnezzar might well have peculiar need of " craftsmen and 
smiths," as well as of soldiers. The princes, chief priests and 
elders, who are said to be carried away, were of course re- 
garded as dangerous persons if left in Judsea. Among the 
\ more eminent captives was perhaps an elder named Daniel, 
concerning whom a celebrated but unhistorical book has been 
written ; and a young priest, Ezekiel, son of Buzi, whose au- 
thentic and ample prophecy is extant. That Daniel was pro- 
verbial among his own people for goodness and wisdom, is 
manifest in the writings of Ezekiel; if indeed some earlier 
Daniel is not intended. No farther devastations were com- 
mitted, and Mattaniah was left on the throne as a weakened 
and tributary prince 1 . He was only twenty-one years old, 
and took as his royal name Zedekiah. 

For eleven years longer the national existence of Judah was 
preserved ; but scarcely a single fact remains to the historian. 
According to a rather dark allusion 2 , it appears that in the 
fourth year of his reign, Zedekiah paid a visit in person to 
Babylon, in company with one of his princes named Seraiah ; 
but neither the object nor the result of the visit is stated. In 
1 B.C. 598. 2 Jer. li. 59. 


the whole course of this time, Zedekiah was distracted by the 
equally confident assertions of different prophets, predicting 
contrary things. In his fourth year, for instance 1 , the pro- 
phet Hananiah uttered an oracle : " Thus speaketh Jehovah : 
I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two 
full years I will bring again to this place all the vessels of 
Jehovah's house, and Jeconiah king of Judah and all the cap- 
tives of Judah." Jeremiah however contradicted him, and de- 
nounced him publicly. Such altercations must have been com- 
mon, to judge by the frequent complaint of "false prophets 2 ." 
From the nature of the case we can hardly doubt the state- 
ment of the Chronicler, that Zedekiah had made solemn oath 
to Nebuchadnezzar to remain in honourable allegiance to him; 
which would have been the right moral ground for urging 
Zedekiah to submit. But the topic is nowhere to be found in 
the ample writings of Jeremiah ; nor is breach of faith ever 
charged by him on Zedekiah in his most pointed addresses. 
This prophet seems to be rather soft-hearted than tender ; he 
melts at the prospect of suffering, and desires his people to 
avoid it by the shortest and safest method, that of submit- 
ting as quickly as possible : nor does any other argument for 
such a proceeding ever appear in him, except the danger of an 
opposite* course. It is hard to call this patriotic, any more 
than highminded. 

The unlucky Zedekiah thought his favourable moment to 
be arrived, under the new king of Egypt. Psammis, son of 
Necho, had died after a short reign of six years, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son Hophra, called by the Greeks Apries 3 ; an 
enterprizing prince, and until his last years successful. He 
marched an army into Phoenicia, and fought a naval battle 
against the Tyrians, facts which sufficiently indicate his strug- 
gle for the whole sea-coast of Syria ; and from him the king 
of Jerusalem might hope for aid. Zedekiah, after a secret 
compact with him, did at last revolt, perhaps in his ninth 
year 4 ; and the contest that followed was slightly diversified 
by the Egyptians proving faithful for once. Towards the end 

1 Jer. xxviii. 1. 

2 It must not be assumed that these "false prophets" were not fully equal 
in moral worth to Jeremiah, and as sincerely convinced that Jehovah spoke 
by them, as he was in his own case. When of two contending parties one, 
and only one, must prove correct in the result, to brand as wicked impostors 
those who turn out false is highly unjust. 

3 B.C. 594. 4 B.C. 590. 



of his ninth year 1 , Nebuchadnezzar with a formidable army 
appeared before Jerusalem, and built forts outside it to harass 
the country and repel sallies ; but before he could reduce the 
city, an Egyptian army marched out against him, and he was 
forced to abandon the siege 2 . In the interval, fresh supplies 
were no doubt introduced; for although in the year after 3 , 
Nebuchadnezzar, having repulsed Hophra, was enabled to re- 
sume the attack, a tedious resistance was still made. 

Within the city during this whole war, Nebuchadnezzar 
received faithful aid from at least one man, who believed him- 
self the heaven-appointed instrument of weakening his own 
people's hearts and hands. In part, undoubtedly, the king 
himself was to blame for this, who displayed an irresolution 
common under circumstances so difficult. Having a secret 
belief that Jeremiah could foretel the future, he acted to- 
wards him as the heathens towards their oracles or diviners. 
He sent an officer to inquire of the prophet what would be 
the event of the war 4 , and got from him a reply which might 
have been foreknown. The princes were angry with Jeremiah, 
when they should rather have blamed the king's indiscretion ; 
and as Jeremiah 5 had vehemently commanded all who desired 
safety to go over to the Chaldseans, they accused him of being 
about to desert, when he left the city daring an interval of the 
siege. On this charge he was thrown into prison, but was 
liberated by the king's interference. Yet after this again, the 
princes, complaining that he damped the courage of the sol- 
diers, induced the king to consent to his imprisonment 6 . His 
dungeon was this time as barbarous as in ancient times such 
places were wont to be : but Zedekiah once more relented, and 
even sought a private conference with him ; after which he had 
him removed to a milder custody. A king who showed such 
weakness was not likely to be able to inspire active courage 
into his people, whose hopes had wasted away under the con- 
stant trickling of these chilly predictions. Yet the city walls 
defied the besieger. He could not succeed, by any methods of 
attack available to him, in making a breach ; but by the close- 
ness of his blockade, he at last brought on the extreme suffer- 
ings of famine. 

At the moment when the distress became unbearable (it is 

1 Jer. Tnmic, 1 ; Ezek. xxiv. 1. 4 Jer. xxi. 

2 Jer. xxxvii. 5-11. 5 Jer. xxxvii. 

3 Jer. xxxii. 1. 6 Jer. xxxvii. 4. 


recorded as the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah' s 
eleventh year 1 ), the Chaldee king was at Riblah in the land of 
Hamath, whither Jehoahaz had been brought to Necho. By 
a singular coincidence, Zedekiah also, having been caught in 
the attempt to escape out of Jerusalem, was led to the same 
place before Nebuchadnezzar. No mercy was now to be ex- 
pected. His two sons were first slain in his sight ; after which 
his eyes were put out, he was loaded with fetters, and sent to 
Babylon. The chief nobles of Judah were also slain. The 
king's palace in Jerusalem, the temple, and all the well-built 
houses were burned down in the following month; and the 
walls were laboriously demolished. Whatever of brass and 
copper or silver vessels remained in the temple were seized as 
spoil, but destruction was more thought of than booty. The 
common people were planted over the country, having land 
assigned them for vineyards or tillage. Nebuzaradan, the cap- 
tain of the guard, to whom the execution of all this work had 
been entrusted, seems to have aimed to turn Jerusalem into a 
desart; for many chief men and sixty common people were 
sent by him to Riblah, for no other offence that is named but 
that of being " found in the city ;" all of whom were slaughtered 
by the enraged conqueror. The numbers carried to Babylon 
on this occasion are reckoned in the book of Jeremiah 2 as only 
832 persons ; which must be immensely under the truth. No 
other estimate however is at hand 3 . 

In the retrospect of these affairs, it is impossible to over- 
look the tendency of men to judge of actions by their event, 
without asking whether the event could have been foreseen. 
The resistance of Hezekiah to the Assyrians is admired ; that 
of Jehoiakim to the Chaldees is condemned ; although it was 
called for not only by general principles of patriotism, but 
by his special obligations to the Egyptians, at least in the 
opening of his reign. An unsuccessful king, whether an Ahaz 
or a Zedekiah, meets with little sympathy. Over the fall even 
of a Josiah men moralize and wonder ; as if to suffer and to 
perish were not often the peculiar part of goodness and of 
heroism. Yet perhaps there were few materials for heroism 
now left in Jerusalem. It was a people divided against itself, 
and threatened by a superior adversary ; in which case nothing 
is harder than to know whether to advise submission or resist- 
ance. The brave and the hopeful will maintain that by spirited 

1 Jer. xxxix. 2 Ch. Hi. 29. 3 B.C. 588. 


counsels the nation may be roused and united : the cautious, 
the feeble and the desponding will treat such a course as mad- 
ness. How far the weakness of Judah was now caused by this 
division of opinion, is not distinctly recorded; and perhaps 
even the contemporaries did not know. But the general facts 
justify the assertion, that if Jeremiah had felt the national in- 
dependence of Jerusalem to be as dear as Isaiah felt it ; if he 
had taught that life was not worth preserving, at the expense 
of enslaving the people of Jehovah to the heathen ; if, in short, 
those who with him abetted Babylon had bravely opposed it, 
the fate of Jerusalem would have been at worst not more 
painful, and certainly more glorious. 

If we judge of Jeremiah' s position by the common laws of 
prudence and morality, we shall find that there were two ways 
of promoting his country's welfare : one, by trying to per- 
suade the princes and the king to yield at once to Babylon ; 
the other, by inciting the people to resist manfully, when the 
rulers obstinately chose that course. The third method, 
which Jeremiah followed, of urging individuals to flee for their 
lives, because defeat was certain, was not the part of prudence 
and patriotism, but was the highest imprudence. It was the 
most obvious way of distracting the nation, paralyzing its ru- 
lers, and ensuring the public ruin. It is requisite to insist on 
this, because writers who do not venture to say that Jeremiah 
was freed from the observance of common obligations, are fond 
of extolling him as a model of patriotism and of practical 

Nebuzaradan appears rightly to have understood the ser- 
vice which Jeremiah had rendered to his master's cause. Find- 
ing him at Ramah among the prisoners who were chained for 
transportation to Babylon, he set him free, and offered to look 
after his interests if he chose voluntarily to accompany the 
rest. Understanding that he preferred to stay behind, he re- 
quested him to go and dwell under the protection of Gedaliah, 
whom Nebuchadnezzar had made governor of Judaea ; and so 
sent him away " with victuals and a reward 1 ." It deserves 
attention that Gedaliah was son of that Ahikam who was Je- 
remiah's especial patron among the princes. Observing that 
so many of the princes were slain in cold blood at Eiblah, it 
is impossible to doubt that Gedaliah, who was thus favoured, 
was regarded by the conquerors as their own friend, and must 

1 Jer. xl. 1-6. 


have been, with his father, the nucleus of the Babylonian fac- 
tion in Jerusalem, with whom Jeremiah had so zealously been 
cooperating. Gedaliah now had his reward, in becoming the 
Babylonian satrap of Judsea ; and exerted himself successfully 
to gather back the Jews from Edom, Ammon and Moab, into 
which countries great numbers had fled. Nebuzaradan had 
also been so complaisant as to give up to him Zedekiah's 
daughters, whom Gedaliah now kept in his fortress at Mizpah. 
As their father was only thirty-two years old, they were no 
doubt very young ; it is probable that Gedaliah intended ere 
long to make one of them his wife, and thus establish for his 
descendants a hereditary claim on Jewish allegiance 1 . He 
had also a Chaldee guard, besides the other army allowed him. 
But his course was cut short by violence. The princes of Ju- 
dah who had escaped the sword of the Chaldees regarded him 
as a perfidious traitor, and grudged him life and prosperity 
earned by courting the Babylonians. Among these was one of 
the line of David, by name Ishmael ; perhaps a descendant of 
Amon ; but his precise relationship is unknown. He, with ten 
others, had taken refuge among the Ammonites, and now came 
to Mizpah in the guise of friendship. Hardened to deeds of 
blood, and regarding Gedaliah to have set the example of 
treachery, they mercilessly murdered, not him only and the 
Chaldees whom they found about him, but all his Jewish 
associates, and (it is added) seventy out of eighty men who 
came up from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria with offerings 
and incense to the house of Jehovah 2 . But one of Gedaliah' s 
chief officers, Johanan son of Kareah, easily resisted these 
princes, who had no disciplined forces or attached dependants, 
and forced them to escape again to the Ammonites. After 
this, in spite of Jeremiah's remonstrances, Johanan and his 
captains, dreading the vengeance of the Chaldseans for the 
death of Gedaliah, took Zedekiah's daughters, and all persons 
whom Nebuzaradan had left under Gedaliah 7 s care, including 
Jeremiah himself with the Jewish population who had been 
re-assembled, and removed them to Egypt as the only place 
of safety. 


This proceeding exceedingly kindled the prophet, who had 
already predicted that Nebuchadnezzar should ravage that 
country. Besides his hatred of its idolatries, he regarded the 
step as a fleeing into fresh dangers. Accordingly, while at 
Tahpanhes in Egypt, he uttered a new oracle, distinctly an- 
nouncing 1 that Nebuchadnezzar should set up his throne 
there, should smite the land, burn the temples, and carry gods 
and people into captivity. It is clear that this expectation 
was taking a fixed hold of the prophetical school of that day. 
In the preceding year, just after Nebuchadnezzar had repulsed 
the army of Hophra which came to relieve Zedekiah, Ezekiel 
on the river Chebar was stimulated to predict that Egypt should 
be made desolate " from Migdol to Syene and to the border 
of Ethiopia 2 ," and that her people should be scattered for 
forty years; after which period the Egyptians were to be 
gathered again and brought back into their own land 3 . In 
this year also, Ezekiel resumed the strain 4 , and plainly de- 
clared that Babylon should conquer Egypt. The dirge was 
repeated the year after 5 . When sixteen years more had 
passed 6 , the same prophet enlarged still further on this destruc- 
tive invasion, from which no part of Egypt or Ethiopia was to 
be exempted. Nebuchadnezzar was to take the spoil of the 
land as a recompense for his fruitless campaign against Tyre, 
and there was to be no more a prince of the land of Egypt 7 . 
But happily, the grasp of the Chaldsean was more limited than 
human imagination. We have the contemporary history of 

* Jer. xliii. 10-13. 

2 Syene is the southern limit of Egypt ; Migdol must be in the north (Jer. 
xlvi. 14). Hence this describes all Egypt, and Nubia beyond Egypt. 

A most treacherous mode of corrupting truth is unsuspiciously used by many 
honest men, that of making history out of prophecy. This is quietly done, 
for example, by a recent very learned writer (article Nebuchadnezzar, Kitto's 
Biblical Cyclopaedia, p. 406) ; where Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Tyre and 
Egypt is told in a historical tone, with reference to Ezekiel as sufficient proof. 
In proportion as we may have reason to suspect that historians have so acted, 
it becomes impossible to verify predictions. This is what Josephus seems to 
have done, Antt. x. 9, 6. 

Grote, vol. iii, p. 439, regards it as certain that Nebuchadnezzar did not con- 
quer Egypt, nor lay Tyre desolate ; but he infers that Tyre must have capitulated 
to him, because we hear of Tyrian princes captive in Babylonia. But this 
proves nothing. The Caesars also kept Armenian and Parthian princes at Home, 
and by them operated upon the politics of those nations : but that did not im- 
ply any capitulation or loss of independence, even though they sometimes 
descended to ask for a king. 

3 Jer. xxix. 1-16. 4 Ezek. xxx. 30-26 ; xxxi. 5 Ezek. xxxii. 
6 B.C. 572. ? Ezek. xxix. 17-21 ; xxx. 1-19. . 


Egypt from the pen of Herodotus, containing not the most 
distant allusion to a conquest of the country by the Babylo- 
nians. At that time a numerous Greek colony had been 
established there for the best part of a century, and commerce 
with the Greeks was very active. Merchants who knew 
nothing of the foreign politics of the Egyptians would have 
known too well, if Egypt had been desolated from end to end 
by a Chaldsean host, and if the king of Babylon had dealt as 
rudely with the temples and the gods, as Cambyses did fifty 
years later. Had therefore the announcements of Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel proved true, we should inevitably have learned of 
it from Herodotus 1 . 

Five years after the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem, 
when the Chaldee forces were again in that neighbourhood, 
whether in connexion with the war against Tyre, which was 
besieged to no purpose for thirteen years 2 , or in the course of 
hostilities with Egypt, Nebuzaradan made a third and final 
deportation of Jewish people to Babylon 3 . The land had been 
left without any fixed government, and was probably too deso- 
late to repay the expense of a resident satrap ; but no particu- 
lars are preserved concerning the objects of this last removal. 
By these events the cities of Samaria were left in a compara- 
tive prosperity, overlooking ruined Jerusalem ; a large part of 
their population was Israelitish : they had received the Penta- 
teuch from Josiah; and in spite of the mixture of idolaters 
and of pagan folly, a germ seemed to be there still preserved 
out of which something good might grow up. 

But it was not in Samaria that the Jewish faith was destined 
to exert its chief energy. The tribes of Israel planted in As- 
syria and Babylon spread eastward and westward, from city 
to city, like the Armenians in Modern Persia, when similarly 
torn up from their own land. Now it was that they learned 
those arts of life which they have ever since retained. As the 
pedlar, the money-changer, the merchant, the money-lender, 
an Israelite was everywhere known by a peculiar character. 
To find scope for their employments, they of necessity colo- 
nized rapidly, and wherever they settled, a nucleus was formed, 

1 Ezekiel in fact was equally unsuccessful in his prediction concerning Tyre, 
which he declared that Nebuchadnezzar should take, plunder and destroy (Ezek. 
xxvi. xxvii.). Herodotus is very full and particular concerning the closing 
years of Hophra, who fell by domestic revolution ; his successor Amasis was a 
man eminently Egyptian and very prosperous. 

2 Joseph, c. Apion. i. 21 ; Ezek. xxix. 18. 3 Jer. lii. 30. 


upon which the action of the sacerdotal spirit of restored 
Jerusalem should in after time be exerted. 

The Jews in captivity saw with pleasure before long that 
the Median empire became stronger and stronger, and that 
upon the death of Nebuchadnezzar 1 no successor of like 
spirit or experience arose. In the last decade of his forty- 
three years' reign, decay had perhaps already commenced. 
His empire was as large and as powerful in his tenth as in his 
last year : in fact, after Syria and Phoenicia had acknowledged 
his sway, he won nothing more ; and his laborious campaigns 
against the insular Tyre, with his vast works at Babylon, must 
have greatly drained his resources. As with Solomon and 
Louis le Grand, his early successes shed splendour on his 
whole reign, and his domestic magnificence dazzled men's 
minds ; but the Chaldsean armies, at his death, had been long 
taught that they were not invincible. Immediately after, the 
intestine quarrels which followed in his family presaged final 
ruin. Evilmerodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar, was killed by 
his sister's husband Neriglissar, after a two years' reign. Ne- 
riglissar dying four years later, left the throne to his boyish 
son Laborsoarchod, who was allowed to live but nine months 
longer. He was assassinated 2 by a domestic conspiracy, and 
one Nabonnedech, whose relationship is contested 3 , obtained 
the kingdom. According to Herodotus, his mother Nitocris 
had been queen of Babylon, wife perhaps of Neriglissar, and 
daughter of Nebuchadnezzar; this will make him grandson 
of that great king, and nearly agree with the tradition of the 
book of Daniel. In fear of the Median power, Nabonnedech 
executed the great labour of building walls along each bank 
of the Euphrates, which flowed through the middle of the 
city. Great brazen gates closed the streets which ended on 
the river. A valuable interval for all such works of defence 
was left to the Babylonian king, while civil strife rent the 
rival empire apart ; until the supreme power was won by 
Cyrus the Persian. Reaching out eastward over Bactria, to 
the south-east over Carmania, in the west this prince added 

1 B.C. 562. 2 B.C. 556. 

3 Berosus (in Joseph, c. Ap. i. 20) and Abydenus (in Euseb. Armen. Chron. 
p. 60) represent him as no way related to Laborsoarchod ; and that is possible, 
even on our view, if he was son of Nitocris, but not of Neriglissar. 

Nabonnedech (NafiovviSoxos) is Nabonnedus in Josephus, and Labynetus in 
Herodotus. The word is not likely to prove transformable into Belshazzar, 
who is undoubtedly meant for the same individual. 


the wealthy kingdom of Lydia to his sceptre, and overran all 
the lesser Asia down to the seas of Greece. No resistance is 
recorded on the part of Babylon to his conquest of Syria on 
her left, and little to that of Susiana, on her right. In the 
seventeenth year of Nabonnedech 1 , the arms of Cyrus folded 
that great city around, which lay now exposed to his attack, 
a victim almost as clearly destined for capture as Nineveh 
when environed by the Medes. 

The Jews in Chaldsea were not inattentive to these events ; 
and a variety of prophecies boded desolation to the lordly city, 
their fatal foe, from the arms of the Medes and Persians. Of 
the prophets of this sera by far the noblest and most interest- 
ing is he, whom (in ignorance of his true name) we may call 
the younger Isaiah, the author of the beautiful writings which 
extend from the 40th to the end of the 62nd chapter of our 
modern book of Isaiah. The writing is obviously that of a 
Jew in Babylonia during the exile ; and his great subject is, 
the approaching restoration to their own land. He addresses 
Cyrus by name, as the heaven- appointed instrument of this 
event, and announces his conquest over Babylon. If we do 
not find that the results of this return equalled his magnifi- 
cent predictions, it is easy to forgive the pious patriotism 
which dictated them : they are in fact only too splendid 
poetry to be fulfilled in this prosaic world. More important 
is it to observe the softened tone towards the Gentiles here 
pervading. Indeed the tenderness and sweetness of this pro- 
phet is far more uniformly evangelical than that of any other. 
His very rhythm and parallelisms generally tell of the more 
recent polish and smoothness. He retains moreover all the 
spirituality of the older school; ceremonial observances are 
in no respect elevated by him. The Sabbath alone is named, 
and that in a tone the very reverse of formalism, although 
indicating the sam'e high reverence for that institution which 
Christians in general have retained. With the exception of 
the fall of Babylon 3 , which was the immediate means of re- 

1 B.C. 540. 

2 Even in this, there is no gloating over images of blood, nor anything to 
indicate and excite fierce rejoicings in misery, such as pain us in so many of the 
prophets. [Isaiah Ixiii. 1-6 is an exception, if that passage, as Ewald thinks, 
comes from the same writer. But this invective against Edom is quite isolated ; 
and makes a very abrupt close to his prophecies, which terminate naturally with 
chap. Ixii.] 


lease to his people, he does not concern himself with Gentile 
politics ; but dilates on the trials, sorrows and hopes of Zion, 
and the promises of divine aid to her, in general terms, to 
which the heart of spiritualized man in all ages and countries 
has responded. 

Some psalms also of this date are fully worthy of the older 
times; and the last of the prophets, in the next century, shows 
much of the same terseness, gravity and pure moral spirit. 
But all the religious productions of this sera were not so ele- 
vated. The writings of Ezekiel painfully show the growth of 
what is merely visionary, and an increasing value of hard 
sacerdotalism 1 . The younger Zechariah is overrun with the 
same. Obadiah has some verses of much energy, (which ha^e 
been suspected to be older than the rest,) imbedded in a rather 
flat complaint against the Edomites. The story of Jonah 
indicates a lower taste than the general literature of that day, 
and is perhaps of still later date. Yet on the whole, even the 
splendour of the second Isaiah can hardly conceal from us 
that the prophetical energy was declining, and giving way 
before the newer tendencies. 

At last the shock of war from Persia reached the city of 
Babylon itself 2 . The Assyrians had been distinguished by 
chariots and horsemen, the Chaldees by cavalry alone; in 
horse-archery the Medes also excelled ; but the pride of the 
Persian nation was in its infantry, which besides the bow and 
arrows, carried a battle-axe, two javelins and a light wicker 
shield. One battle on the plains of Babylonia laid prostrate 
the late overwhelming Chaldee forces. Nabonnedech fled 
with a small retinue into the fortress of Borsippus, (Birs 
Nimrood) and was there blockaded by the victorious army. 
Deprived of its king, Babylon appears to have made no farther 
active efforts, and, perhaps when at length threatened with 

1 Contrast the heavy materialism of the new temple expected by Ezekiel, with 
its priests, sacrifices and prince, and its rigid observances according to the 
Pentateuch (Ezek. xl.-xlviii.), as tedious and unedifying as Leviticus itself, 
with the splendid poetry of Isaiah Ix. Ixii. ; where the heart is lifted into a 
spiritual region, even when the words of the prophet speak of outward and 
material prosperity. 

Although the historical temple of Nehemiah and the new distribution of 
the land were in many respects widely different from Ezekiel's predictions, it 
cannot be doubted, that they so kept alive on the minds of the next generation 
a belief in certain return from captivity, as to have exceedingly conduced 
towards the result. 

2 B.C. 540. 


famine, easily accepted the terms offered by Cyrus. After 
becoming master of the capital,, he pressed the siege of Bor- 
sippus more closely, until Nabonnedech, despairing of escape, 
threw himself on the conqueror's generosity. Nor was he 
disappointed; for Cyrus, with the liberal policy which dis- 
tinguished the best of his race, treated him kindly and esta- 
blished him on an estate in Carmania. Such is the account 
given by Berosus 1 , a priest of Babylon, who is likely to have 
had access to good sources of information 2 . 

When Cyrus the Great, thus becoming master of Babylon, 
resolved to re-establish Jerusalem, only a fraction 3 of the exiles 
were willing to return. The dangers of the enterprize were 
great ; and none but the most zealous, and especially those 
who were most attached to local religion and external worship, 
were likely to encounter them. Undoubtedly few Jews of 
that age (if of any age) could make light of externals without 
losing religion altogether; yet a superstitious over-estimate 
of these things animates men to pilgrimage more suc- 
cessfully than a purely spiritual impulse ; and on the whole 
we cannot doubt that those who returned to Jerusalem were 
chiefly persons over whose minds sacerdotal principles had a 
commanding influence. Accordingly, from this time forth, 
the nation wore a new character. They reverenced ordinances 
more than they had before despised them. Idolatry, and 
even the making or possessing of graven images at all, be- 
came their peculiar horror. For the Levitical priesthood they 

1 Joseph, c. Apion. i. 20. 

2 The tale as generally given from Herodotus (whom Xenophon follows) is 
far less likely ; for to drain off the whole water of the Euphrates on so level a 
soil is a most arduous and perhaps impossible operation for an army : but, as 
the more romantic story, it would be preferred by that graphic writer. 

G-rote observes, vol. iv. p. 287 : " the way hi which the city was treated, 
would lead us to suppose that its acquisition cannot have cost the conqueror 
either much time or much loss It formed the richest satrapy of the (Per- 
sian) empire : the vast walls and gates were left untouched. This was 

very different from the way hi which the Medes had treated Nineveh, and 

in which Babylon itself was treated twenty years afterwards by Darius, when 
reconquered after a revolt." 

3 In Ezra ii. 64, they are called 42,360 persons, which is probably an enor- 
mous exaggeration : for those carried away by Nebuchadnezzar were in all only 
4600 according to Jeremiah. The immense disproportion indicates that neither 
enumeration is trustworthy. But whatever the actual number which returned, \ / 
it did not alter the fact, that the Jewish race continued to be most widely dif- 
fused : which justifies the statement in the text. 


felt a profound reverence. Though previously they neglected 
the sabbath and sabbatical year, now they observed both, 
although no miraculous abundance was granted on the sixth 
year, such as the Pentateuch promised, to supply the lost 
harvest of the seventh. The Lawyers, or expositors of the 
law, became the most important profession ; and Rabbinism 
took firm root, even before prophecy was extinct. 

It is not intended here to pursue the later fortunes of the 
Jewish nation. We have seen its monarchy rise and fall. In 
its progress, the prophetical and the sacerdotal elements were 
developed side by side ; the former flourished in its native soil 
for a brief period, but was transplanted over all the world, 
to impart a lasting glory to Jewish monotheism. The latter, 
while in union with and subservient to the free spirit of pro- 
phecy, had struck its roots into the national heart, and grown 
up as a constitutional pillar to the monarchy : but when un- 
checked by prophet or by king, and invested with the supreme 
temporal and spiritual control of the restored nation, it dwin- 
dled to a mere scrubby plant, whose fruit was dry and thorny 
learning, or apples of Sodom which are as ashes in the mouth. 
Such was the unexpansive and literal materialism of the later 
Rabbi, out of which has proceeded nearly all that is unamiable 
in the Jewish character : but the Roman writers who saw that 
side only of the nation, little knew how high a value the re- 
trospect of the world's history would set on the agency of this 
scattered and despised people. For if Greece was born to 
teach art and philosophy, and Rome to diffuse the processes 
of law and government, surely Judaea has been the wellspring 
of religious wisdom to a world besotted by frivolous or impure 
fancies. To these three nations it has been given to cultivate 
and develope principles characteristic of themselves : to the 
Greeks, Beauty and Science; to the Romans, Jurisprudence 
and Municipal Rule ; but to the Jews, the Holiness of God 
and his Sympathy with his chosen servants. That this was 
the true calling of the nation, the prophets were inwardly 
conscious at an early period. They discerned that Jerusalem 
was as a centre of bright light to a dark world ; and while 
groaning over the monstrous fictions which imposed on the 
nations under the name of religion, they announced that out 
of Zion should go forth the Law and the word of Jehovah. 
When they did not see, yet they believed, that the proud and 


despiteful heathen should at length gladly learn of their wis- 
dom, and rejoice to honour them. In this faith the younger 
Isaiah closed his magnificent strains, addressing Jerusalem : 

Behold, darkness covereth the earth, 
And thick mist the peoples ; 
But Jehovah riseth upon thee, 
And his glory shall be seen on thee : 
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, 
And kings to the brightness of thy rising. 

* * * * * 
The Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, 
And all kings thy glory ; 
And thou shalt be called by a new name, 
Which the mouth of Jehovah shall name. 
Thou shalt be a garland of glory in the hand of Jehovah, 
And a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. 
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, 
Nor shall thy land any more be termed Desolate ; 
For Jehovah delighteth in thee, 
And thy land shall be married to him. 






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