Page images
PDF
EPUB

was indeed These lale venge the death and was

Jerusalem : upon which Jehoash was afraid, and emptied all the treasures of God, and of the kings [before him, and took down the gifts that had been dedicated, [in the temple,) and sent them to the king of Syria, and procured so much by them, that he was not besieged, nor his kingdom quite endangered, but Hazael was induced by the greatness of the sum of money not to bring his army against Jerusalem: yet Jehoash fell into a severe distemper, and was set upon by his friends, in order to revenge the death of Zachariah the son of Jehoiada. These laid snares for the king, and slew him. He was indeed buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal sepulchres of his forefathers, because of his impiety. He lived forty-seven years, and Amaziah his son succeeded him in the kingdom.

5. In the one and twentieth year of the reign of Jehoash, Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, took the government of the Israelites in Samaria, and held it seventeen years. He did not [properly) imitate his father, but was guilty of as wicked practices as those that first had God in contempt: but the king of Syria brought him low, and by an expedition against him did so greatly reduce his forces, that there remained no more of so great an army than ten thousand armed men, and fifty horsemen. He also took away from him his great cities, and many of them also, and destroyed his army. And these were the things that the people of Israel suffered, according to the prophecy of Elisha, when he foretold that Hazael should kill his master, and reign over the Syrians and Damascens. But when Jehoahaz was under such unavoidable miseries, he had recourse to prayer and supplication to God, and besought him to deliver him out of the hands of Hazael, and not overlook him, and give him up into his hands. Accordingly God accepted of his repentance instead of virtue; and being desirous rather to admonish those that might repent, and not to determine that they should be utterly destroyed, he granted him deliverance from war and dangers. So the country having obtained peace, returned again to its former condition, and Aourished as before. .

6. Now after the death of Jehoahaz, his son Joash took the kingdom, in the thirty-seventh year of Jehoash, the king of the tribe of Judah. This Joash then took the kingdom of Israel in Samaria, for he had the same name with the king of Jerusalern, and he retained the kingdom sixteen years. He was a * good man, and in his disposition was not at all like to

* This character of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, that “ he was a good mang and in his disposition not at all like to his father,“ seems a direct contradiction

nies by his enemies, we be neve

his father. Now at this time it was that when Elisha the prophet, who was already very old, and was now fallen into a disease, the king of Israel came to visit bim; and when he found him very near death, he began to weep in his sight, and lament, “ to call him his father, and his weapons, because it was by his means that he never made use of bis weapons " against his enemies, but that he overcame his own adversa“ ries by his prophecies, without fighting; and that he was

now departing this life, and leaving him to the Syrians, that “ were already armed, and to other enemies of his that were “ under their power; so he said, it was not safe for him to " live any longer, but that it would be well for him to hasten “ to his end, and depart out of this life with him.” As the king was thus bemoaning himself, Elisha conforted him, and bid the king bend a bow that was brought him; and when the 'king had fitted the bow for shooting, Elisha took hold of his hands, and bid him shoot; and when he had shot three arrows and then left off, Elisha said, “ If thou hadst shot more ar" rows, thou hadst cut the kingdom of Syria' up by the roots, “ but since thou hast been satisfied with shooting three times “ only, thou shalt fight and beat the Syrians no more times " than three, that thou mayest recover that country which " they cut off from thy kingdom in the reign of thy father." So when the king had heard that, he departed; and a little while after the prophet died. He was a man celebrated for righteousness, and in eminent favour with God. He also performed wonderful and surprising works by prophecy, and such as were gloriously preserved in memory by the Hebrews. He also obtained a magnificent funeral, such an one indeed as it was fit a person so beloved of God should have. It also happened, that at that time certain robbers cast a man whom they had slain, into Elisha's grave, and upon his dead body coming close to Elisha's body it revived again. And thus far

to our ordinary copies, which say, 2 Kings «xiii. 11. that “ he did evil in the sight of the Lord; and that he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, be 'walked therein,” Which copies are here the truest, it is hardly possible to determine. If Josephus's be true, this Joash is the single instance of a good king over the ten tribes: If the other be true, we have not one such example. The account that follows, in all copies, of Elisha the prophet's conceru for him, and his concern for Elisha, greatly favour Josephus's copies, and suppose this king to have been then a good man, and no idolater, with whom God's prophets nsed not to be so familiar. Upon the whole, since it appears, even by Josephus's own account, that Amaziah, the good king of Judah, while he was a good king, was forbidden to make use of the 100,000 auxiliaries he had hired of this Joash, the king of Israel, as if he and they were then idolaters, 2 Chron. xxv. 6-9. it is most likely that these different characters of Joash suited the different parts of his reign, and that, according to our common copies, he was at first a wicked king, and afterwards was reclaimed, and became a good one, according to Josephus,

have we enlarged about the actions of Elisha the prophet, both such as he did while he was alive, and how he had a divine power after his death also.

7. Now upon the death of Hazael, the king of Syria, that kingdom came to Adad his son, with whom Joash king of Israel made war; and when he had beaten him in three battles, he took from him all that country, and all those cities and villages which his father Hazael had taken from the kingdom of Israel, which came to pass however according to the prophecy of Elisha. But when Joash happened to die, he was buried in Samaria, and the governinent devolved on his son Jeroboam.

CHA P. IX.

[ocr errors]

How Amaziah made an expedition against the Edomites and

Amalekites, and conquered them; but when he afterwards made war against Joash, he was beaten, and not long after

was slain ; and Uzziah succeeded in the government. 8 1. Now in the second year of the reign of Joash over Ísrael, Amaziah reigned over the tribe of Judah in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddan, who was born at Jerusalem. He was exceeding careful of doing what was right, and this when he was very young; but when he came to the management of affairs, and to the government, he resolved that he ought first of all to arenge his father Jehoash, and to punish those his friends that had laid violent bands upon him, so he seized upon them all, and put them to death, yet did he execute no severity on their children, but acted therein according to the laws of Moses, who did not think it just to punish children for the sins of their fathers. After this he chose him an army out of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, of such as were in the flower of their age, and about twenty years old ; and when he had collected about three hundred thousand of them together, he set captains of hundreds over them. He also sent to the king of Israel, and hired an hundred thousand of his soldiers for an hundred talents of silver, for he had resolved to make an expedition against the nations of the Amalekites, and Edomites, and Gebalites: But as he was preparing for his expedition, and ready to go out to the war, a prophet gave him counsel to dismiss the army of the Israelites, because they were bad men, and because God foretold that he should be beaten, if he made use of them as auxiliaries, but that he should overcome his enemies, though he had but a few soldiers, when it so pleased God. And when the king grudged at his having already paid the híre of the Israelites, the prophet exborted him to do what God would have him, because he should thereby obtain much wealth from God. So he dismissed them, and said, that he still freely gave them their pay, and went himself with his own army, and made war with the nations before-mentioned; and when he had beaten them in battle, he slew of them ten thousand, and took as many prisoners alive, whom he brought to the great rock which is in Arabia, and threw them down from it headlong. He also brought away a great deal of prey, and vast riches, from those nations. But while Amaziah was engaged in this expedition, those Israelites whom he had hired, and then dismissed, were very uneasy at it, and taking their dismission for an affront, as supposing that this would not have been done to them but out of contempt, they fell upon his kingdom, and proceeded to spoil the country as far as Beth-horon, and took much cattle, and slew three thousand men.

2. Now upon the victory which Amaziah had gotten, and the great acts he had done, he was puffed up, and began to overlook God, who had given him the victory, and proceeded to worship the gods he had brought out of the country of the Amalekites. So a prophet came to him, and said, That “ he wondered how he could esteem these to be gods, who “ had been of no advantage to their own people, who paid " them honours, nor had delivered them from his hands, but " had overlooked the destruction of many of them, and had “ suffered themselves to be carried captive, for that they had 66 been carried to Jerusalem in the same manner as any one “ might have taken some of the enemy alive, and led them " thither.” This reproof provoked the king to anger, and he commanded the prophet to hold his peace, and threatened to punish him if he meddled with bis conduct. So he replied, " That he should indeed hold his peace; but foretold withal, " that God would not overlook bis attempts for innovation." But Amaziah was not able to contain himself under that prosperity which God had given him, although he had affronted God thereupon; but in a vein of insolence he wrote to Joash, the king of Israel, and 6 commanded that he and all his peo“6 ple should be obedient to him, as they had formerly been “ obedient to his progenitors, David and Solomon; and he 6 let him know, that if he would not be so wise as to do what 66 he commanded him, he must fight for his dominion.” To which message Joash returned this answer in writing: “ King « Joash to king Amaziah. There was a vastly tall cypress “ tree in mount Lebanon, as also a thistle: this thistle sent to "s the cypress tree, to give the cypress tree's daughter in

“ marriage to the thistle's son; but as the thistle was saying 66 this, there came a wild beast, and trod down the thistle : “ And this may be a lesson to thee, not to be so ambitious, " and to have a care, lest upon thy good success in the fight " against the Amalekites, thou growest so proud, as to bring “ dangers upon thyself, and upon thy kingdom.” :

3. When Amaziah had read this letter, he was more eager upon this expedition, which, I suppose, was by the impulse of God, that he might be punished for his offence against him. But as soon as he led out his army against Joash, and they were going to join battle with him, there came such a fear and consternation upon the army of Amaziah, as God when he is displeased, sends upon men, and discomfited them, even before they came to a close fight. Now it happened, that as they were scattered about by the terror that was upon them, Amaziah was left alone, and was taken prisoner by the enemy; whereupon Joash threatened to kill him, unless he would persuade the people of Jerusalem to open their gates to him, and receive him and his army into the city. Accordingly Amaziah was so distressed, and in such fear of his life, that he made his enemy to be received into the city. So Joash overthrew a part of the wall, of the length of four hundred cubits, and drove his chariot through the breach into Jerusalem, and led Amaziah captive along with him: by which means he became master of Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of God, and carried off all the gold and silver that was in the king's palace, and then freed the king from captivity, and returned to Samaria. Now these things happened to the people of Jerusalem in the fourteenth year of the reign of Amaziah, who after this had a conspiracy made against him by his friends, and fled to the city Lachish, and was there slain by the conspirators, who sent men thither to kill him. So they took up his dead body, and carried it to Jerusalem, and made a royal funeral for him. This was the end of the life of Ama. ziah, because of his innovations in religion, and his contempt of God, when he had lived fifty-four years, and had reigned twenty-nine. He was succeeded by his son, whose name was Uzziah.

« PreviousContinue »