« PreviousContinue »
Concerning Jeroboam, king of Israel, and Jonah the prophet ;
and how, after the death of Jeroboam, his son Zechariah took the government. How Uzziah, king of Jerusalem, subdued the nations that were round about him; and what befel
him when he attempted to offer incense lo God. $ . In the fifteenth year of the reign of Amaziah, Jeroboam, the son of Joash, reigned over Israel, in Samaria, forty years. This king was guilty of* contumely against God, and became very wicked in worshipping of idols, and in many undertakings that were absurd and foreign. He was also the cause of ten thousand misfortunes to the people of Israel. Now one Jonah, a prophet, foretold to him, that he should make war with the Syrians, and conquer their army, and enlarge the bounds of his kingdom on the northern parts, to the city Hamath, and on the southern, to the lake Asphaltitis, for the bounds of the Canaanites originally were these, as Joshua their general had determined them. So Jeroboam made an expedition against the Syrians, and over-ran all their country, as Jonah had foretold.
2. Now I cannot but think it necessary for me, who have promised to give an accurate account of our affairs, to describe the actions of this prophet, so far as I have found them written down in the Hebrew' books. Jonah had been commanded by God to go to the kingdom of Nineveh; and when he was there, to publish it in that city, how it should lose the dominion it had over the nations. But he went not, out of fear; nay, he ran away from God to the city of Joppa, and finding a ship there, he went into it, and sailed to f Tarsus,
hans foretos, tom
on the Kingdom conquo him, ople of also
* What I have above noted concerning Jehoash, seems to me to have been true, also concerning his son Jeroboam 11. viz. that although he began wickedly, as Josephus agrees with our other copies, and, as he adds, " was the cause of a vast number of misfortunes to the Israelites” in those his first years, (the particulars of which are unhappily wanting both in Josephus and in all our copies,) so does it seem to me that he was afterwards reclaimed, and became a good king, and so was encouraged by the prophet Jonah, and had great successes afterward, when “ God saved the Israelites by the hand of Jeroboam, the son of Joash,” 2 Kings xiv. 27. which encouragement by Jonah, and great successes, are equally observable in Josephus, and in the other copies.
of When Jonah is said in our Bibles to have gone to Tarsbish, Jonah i. 3. Jo. sephus understood it that he went to Tarshish in Cilicia, or to the Mediterra. nean Sea, upon which Tarsus lay; so that he does not appear to have read the text, I Kings xxii. 48. as our copies do, that ships of Tarshish could lie at EzionGeber, upon the Red Sea. But as to Josephus's assertion, that Jonah's fish was carried by the strength of the current, upon a storm, as far as the Euxine Sea, it is no way impossible: and since the storm might have driven the ship, while
in Cilicia; and upon the rise of a most terrible storm, which was so great that the ship was in danger of sinking, the mariners, the master, and the pilot himself, made prayers and vows, in case they escaped the sea, but Jonah lay still and covered in the ship,] without imitating any thing which the others did: but as the waves grew greater, and the sea became more violent by the winds, they suspected, as is usual in such cases, that some one of the persons that sailed with them, was the occasion of this storm, and agreed to discover by lot which of them it was. When they had* cast lots, the lot fell upon the prophet; and when they asked him, Whence he came? and what he had done? he replied, That he was an Hebrew by nation, and a prophet of Almighty God; and he persuaded them to cast him into the sea, if they would escape the danger they were in, for that he was the occasion of the storm which was upon them. Now at the first they durst not do so, as esteeming it a'wicked thing to cast a man who was: a stranger, and who had committed his life to them, into such manifest perdition; but at last, when their misfortune overbore them, and the ship was just going to be drowned, and when they were animated to do it by the prophet himself, and by the fear concerning their own safety, they cast him into the sea; upon which the sea became calm. It is also re-lated that 'Jonah was swallowed down by a whale, and that when he had been there three days, and as many nights, he was vomited out upon the Euxine Sea, and this alive, and without any hurt upon his body; and there, on his prayer to God, he obtained pardon for his sins, and went to the city Nineveh, where he stood so as to be heard; and preached, That “in a very little time they should lose the dominion of • Asia.” And when he had published this, he returned. Now, I have given this account about him, as I found it written (in our books.7
3. When Jeroboam the king had passed his life in great. happiness, and had ruled forty years, he died, and was buried
Jonah was in it, near to that Euxine Sea, and since in three more days, while he was in the fish's belly, that current might bring bim to the Assyrian coast, and since withal that coast could bring him nearer to Nineveh than could any coast of the Mediterranean, it is by no means an improbable determination in Jose. phus.
* This ancient piece of religion, of sopposing there was great sin where there was great misery, and of casting lots to discover great sinners, not only among the Israelites, but among these heathen mariners, seems a remarkable remains of the ancient tradition which prevailed of old over all mankind, that Providence used to interpose visibly in all human affairs, and never to bring, or at least not long to continue notorious judgments, but for notorious sins, which the most ancient book of Job shews to have been the state of mankind for about the former 3000 years of the world, till the days of Job and Moses.
in Samaria, and his son Zechariah took the kingdom. After the same manner did Uzziah, the son of Amaziah, begin to reign over the two tribes in Jerusalem, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam. He was born of Jecoliah his mother, who was a citizen of Jerusalem. He was a good man, and by nature righteous and magnanimous, and very laborious in taking care of the affairs of his kingdom. He made an expedition also against the Philistines, and overcame them in battle, and took the cities of Gath and Jabneh, and brake down their walls: after which expedition, he assaulted those Arabs that adjoined to Egypt. He also built a city upon the Red Sea, and put a garrison into it. He after this overthrew the Ammonites, and appointed that they should pay tribute. He also overcame all the countries as far as to the bounds of Egypt, and then began to take care of Jerusalem itself for the rest of his life; for he rebuilt and repaired all those parts of the wall which had either fallen down by the length of time, or by the carelessness of the kings his predecessors, as well as all that part which had been thrown down by the king of Israel, when he took his father Amaziah prisoner, and entered with him into the city. Moreover, he built a great many towers, of one hundred and fifty cubits bigh, and built walled towns in desert places, and put garrisons into them, and dug many channels for conveyance of water. He had also many beasts for labour, and an immense number of cattle, for his country was fit for pasturage. He was also given to husbandry, and took care to cultivate the ground, and planted it with all sorts of plants, and sowed it with all sorts of seeds. He had also about him an army composed of chosen men, in number three hundred and seventy thousand, who were governed by general officers and captains of thousands, who were men of valour, and of unconquerable strength, in number two thousand. He also divided his whole army into bands, and armed them, giving every one a sword, with brazen bucklers and breast-plates, with bows and slings; and besides these, he made for them many engines of war, for besieging of cities, such as cast-stones and darts, with grapplers, and other instruments of that sort.
4. While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparations [for futurity,] he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent, and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish, and despised that power which is of eternal duration, (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of his laws,) so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs, and was carried headlong into those sins of his fathers, which the splendour
of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into, while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly, when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar, which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the high-priest, who had fourscore priests with him, and who told him that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice, and that " none besides the posterity of Aaron were 66 permitted so to do.” And when they cried out, that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean tiine, a great * earthquake shook the ground, and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it, and fell upon the king's face, insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled itself four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain, till the roads, as well as the king's gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. Now, as soon as the priests saw that the king's face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and commanded that he should go out of the city as a polluted person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper, and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict, that he did as he was commanded, and underwent this miserable and terrible punishment for an intention beyond what befitted a man to have, and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life, while his son Jotham took the government; after which he died with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him, when he had lived sixty-eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two; and was buried by himself in his own gardens.
* This account of an earthquake at Jerusalem at the very same time when Uzziah usurped the priest's office, and went into the sanctuary to burn incense, and of the consequences of that earthquake, is entirely wanting in our other copies, though it be exceeding like to a prophecy of Jeremiah's, now in Zech. xiv. 4, 5. in which prophecy mention is made of • fleeing from that earthquake, as they fled from this earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judab;" som that there seems to have been some considerable resemblance between these historical and prophetical earthquakes.
How Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pehah,
took the government over the Israelites; and how Pul and Tiglath-Pileser made an expedition against the Israelites. How Jotham, the son of Uzziah, reigned over the tribe of Judah ; and what things Nahum prophesied against the As. syrians.
§ 1. Now when Zachariah, the son of Jeroboam, had reigned six months over Israel, he was slain by the treachery of a certain friend of his, whose name was Shallum, the son of Jabesh, who took the kingdom afterward, but kept it no longer than thirty days; for Menahem, the general of his army, who was at that time in the city Tirzah, and heard of what had befallen Zechariah, removed thereupon with all his forces to Samaria, and joining battle with Shallum, slew him ; and when he had made himself king, he went thence, and came to the city Tiphsah, but the citizens that were in it, shut their gates, and barred them against the king, and would not admit him; but in order to be avenged on them, he burnt the country round about it, and took the city by force, upon a siege; and being very much displeased at what the inhabitants of Tiphsah had done, he slew them all, and spared not so much as the infants, without omitting the utmost instances of cruelty and barbarity, for he used such severity upon his own countrymen, as would not be pardonable with regard to strangers, who had been conquered by him. And after this manner it was that this Menahem continued to reign with cruelty and barbarity for ten years : But when Pul, king of Assyria, had made an expedition against him, he did not meet to fight or engage in battle with the Assyrians, but he persuaded him to accept of a thousand talents of silver, and to go away, and so put an end to the war. This sum the multitude collected for Menahein, by * exacting fifty drachmæ as pollmoney for every head; after which he died, and was buried in Samaria, and left his son Pekahiah his successor in the
* Dr. Wall in his critical notes on 2 Kings xv. 20. observes, “ That when “ this Menahem is said to have exacted the money of Israel of all the mighty “ men of wealth, of each man 50 shekels of silver, to give Pul, the king of Ase " syria, 1000 talents, this is the first public money raised by any [Israelite) " king by a tax on the people; that they used before to raise it out of the trea“ sures of the house of the Lord, or of their own house ; that it was a poll-mo. " vey on the rich men (and them only) to raise o£ 353,000 or as others count "S a talent E 400,000, at the rate of £ 6 or £ 7 per head, and that God com. "s manded by Ezekiel, chap. xlv, 8. and xlvi. 18. that no such thing should be « done (at the Jews restoration,] but the king should have land of his own."