Page images

Baladan, sent ambassadors to Hezekiah, with presents, and desired he would be his ally and his friend. So he received the ambassadors gladly, and made them a feast, and shewed them his treasures, and his armoury, and the other wealth he was possessed of, in precious stones, and in gold, and gave them presents to be carried to Baladan, and sent them back to him. Upon which the prophet Isaiah came to him, and enquired of him, “ Whence those ambassadors came ? To which he re

plied,” That “ they came from Babylon, from the king; “ and that he had shewed them all he had, that by the sight “ of his riches and forces he might thereby guess at [the

plenty he was in,) and be able to inform the king of it." But the prophet rejoined, and said, “ Know thou, that, after

a little while, these riches of thine shall be carried away to

Babylon), and thy posterity shall be made eunuchs there, " and lose their manhood, and be servants to the king of “ Babylon, for that God foretold such things would come to

pass.' Upon which words Hezekiah was troubled, and said, That “ he was himself unwilling that his nation should 56 fall into such calamities, yet since it is not possible to alter “ what God had determined, he prayed that there might be

peace while he lived." Berosus also makes mention of this Baladan king of Babylon. Now as to this prophet, [Isaiah,] he was by the confession of all a divine and wonderful man in speaking truth; and out of the assurance that he had never written what was false, he wrote down all his prophecies, and left them behind him in books, that their accomplishment might be judged of from the events by posterity : nor did this prophet do so alone, but the others, which were twelve in number, did the same. And whatsoever is done among us, whether it be good, or whether it be bad, comes to pass according to their prophecies; but of every one of these we shall speak hereafter.

[ocr errors]


How Manasseh reigned after Hezekiah ; and how, when he

was in captivity, he returned to God, and was restored to his

kingdom, and left it to [his son] Amon. § 1. When king Hezekiah had survived the interval of time already mentioned, and had dwelt all that time in peace, he died, having completed fifty-four years of his life, and reigned twenty-nine : But when his son Manasseh, whose mother's name was Hephzibah, of Jerusalem, had taken the kingdom, he departed from the conduct of his father, and fell in


to a course of life quite contrary thereto, and shewed himself in his manners most wicked in all respects, and omitted no sort of impiety, but imitated those transgressions of the Israelites, by the commission of which against God, they had been destroyed; for he was so hardy as to defile the temple of God and the city, and the whole country; for, by setting out from a contempt of God, he barbarously slew all the righteous men that were among the Hebrews; nor would he spare


prophets, for he every day slew some of them, till Jerusalem was overflown with blood, So God was angry at these proceedings, and sent prophets to the king, and

to the multitude, hy whom he threatened the very same calamities to them, which their brethren the Israelites, upon the like affronts offered to God, were now under. But these men would not believe their words, by which belief they night have reaped the advantage of escaping all those miseries, yet did they in earnest learn that what the prophets had told them was true.

2. And when they persevered in the same course of life, God raised up war against them, from the king of Babylon and Chaldea, who sent an army against Judea, and laid waste the country; and caught king Manasseh by treachery, and ordered him to be brought to him, and had him under his power to inflict what punishment he pleased upon him. But then it was that Manasseh perceived what a miserable condition he was in, and esteeming himself the cause of all, he besought God to render his enemy humane and merciful to him. Accordingly God heard his prayer, and granted him what he prayed for, So Manasseh was released by the king of BabyIon, and escaped the danger he was in: And when he was come to Jerusalem, he endeavoured, if it were possible, to cast out of his memory those his former sins against God, of which he now repented, and to apply himself to a very religious life. He sanctified the temple, and purged the city, and for the remainder of his days he was intent on nothing but to return his thanks to God for his deliverance, and to preserve him propitious to him all his life long. He also instructed the multitude to do the same, as having very nearly experienced what a calamity he was fallen into by a contrary conduct. He also rebuilt the altar, and offered the legal sacrifices, as Moses commanded. And when he had re-established what concerned the divine worship, as it ought to be, he took care of the security of Jerusalem : he did not only re. pair the old walls with great diligence, but added another wall to the former. He also built very lofty towers, and the garrisoned places before the city he strengthened, not only in other respects, but with provisions of all sorts that they want

ed. And indeed, when he had changed his former course, he so led his life for the time to come, that from the time of his return to piety towards God, he was deemed an happy man, and a pattern for imitation: When therefore he had lived sixty-seven years, he departed this life, having reigned fiftyfive years, and was buried in his own gardens; and the kingdom came to his son Amon, whose mother's name was Meshulemeth, of the city of Jotbath.


How Amon reigned instead of Manasseh; and after Amon

reigned Josiah ; he was both righteous and religious As also concerning Huldah the prophetess.

$1. Tus Amon imitated those works of his father which he insolently did when he was young : so he had a conspiracy made against him by his own servants, and was slain in his own house, when he had lived twenty-four years, and of them had reigned two: But the multitude punished those that slew Amon, and buried him with his father, and gave the king. dom to his son Josiah, who was eight years old. His mother was of the city Boscath; and her name was Jedidah. He was of a most excellent disposition, and naturally virtuous, and followed the actions of king David, as a pattern and a rule to him in the whole conduct of his life. And when he was twelve years old, he gave demonstrations of his religious and righteous behaviour; for he brought the people to a sober way of living, and exhorted them to leave off the opinion they bad of their

idols, because they were not gods, but to worship their own God. And by reflecting on the actions of his progenitors, he prudently corrected what they did wrong, like a very elderly man, and like ove abundantly able to understand what was fit to be done, and what he found they had well done, he observed all the country over, and imitated the same. And thus he acted in following the wisdom and sagacity of his own nature, and in compliance with the advice and instruction of the elders; for by following the laws it was that he succeeded so well in the order of his government, and in piety with regard to the divine worship. And this happened because the transgressions of the former kings were seen no more, but quite vanished away; for the king went about the city, and the whole country, and cut down the groves,

which were de voted to strange gods, and overthrew their altars; and if there were any gifts dedicated to them by his forefathers, he made them ignominious, and plucked them down, and by this means he brought the people back from their opinion about them to the worship of God. He also offered his accustomed sacrifices and burnt-offerings upon the altar. Moreover, he ordained certain judges and overseers, that they might order the matters to them severally belonging, and have regard to justice above all things, and distribute it with the same concern they would have about their own soul. He also sent over all the country, and desired such as pleased to bring gold and silver for the repairs of the temple, according to every one's inclinations and abilities : And when the money was brought in, he made one Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Shaphan the scribe, and Joah the recorder, and Eliakim the high-priest, curators of the temple, and of the charges contributed thereto: who made no delay, nor put the work off at all, but prepared architects, and whatsoever was proper for those repairs, and set closely about the work. So the temple was repaired by this means, and became a public demonstration of the king's piety.

2. But when he was now in the eighteenth year of his reign, he sent to Eliakim the high-priest, and gave order that out of what money was overplus, he should cast cups and dishes, and vials, for ministration (in the temple;) and besides, that they should bring all the gold or silver which was among the treasures, and expend that also in making cups and the like vessels ? But as the high-priest was bringing out the gold, he light upon the holy books of Moses that were laid up in the temple, and when he had brought them out, he gave them to Shaphan the scribe, who, when he had read them, came to the king, and informed him that all was finished which he had ordered to be done. He also read over the books to him, who, when he had heard them read, rent his garment: and called for Eliakim the high-priest, and for (Shaphan) the scribe, and for certain (other) of his most particular friends, and sent them to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum (which Shallum was a man of dignity, and of an eminent family,) and bid them go to her and say, That [he desired] “ she would appease God, and endeavour to render him pro56 pitious to them, for that there was cause to fear, lest, upon ss the transgression of the laws of Moses by their forefathers,

they should be in peril of going into captivity, and of being cast out of their own country; lest they should be in

want of all things, and so end their days miserably." When the prophetess had heard this from the messengers that were sent to her by the king, she bid them go back to the king, and say, That “ God had already given sentence

against them, to destroy the people, and cast them out of “ their country, and deprive them of all the happiness they “ enjoyed; which sentence none could set aside by any “ prayers of theirs, since it was passed on account of their

transgressions of the laws, and of their not having repented “ in so long a time, while the prophets had exhorted them “ to amend, and had foretold the punishment that would en

sue on their impious practices; which threatening God “ would certainly execute upon them, that they might be " persuaded that he is God, and had not deceived them in

any respect as to what he had denounced by his prophets: " that yet, because Josiah was a righteous man, he would “ at present delay those calamities, but that after his death, “ he would send on the multitude what miseries be had de. " termined for them."

3. So these messengers upon this prophecy of the woman, came and told it to the king; whereupon he sent to the people every where, and ordered that the priests and the Levites should come together to Jerusalem; and commanded that those of every age should be present also: And when they were gathered together, he first read to them the holy books; after which he stood upon a pulpit, in the midst of the multitude, and obliged them to make a covenant, with an oath, that they would worship God, and keep the laws of Moses. Accordingly, they gave their assent willingly, and undertook to do what the king had recommended to them. So they immediately offered sacrifices, and that after an acceptable manner, and besought God to be gracious and merciful to them. He also enjoined the high-priest, that if there remained in the temple any vessel that was dedicated to idols, or to foreign gods, they should cast it out : So when a great number of such vessels were got together, he burnt them, and scattered their ashes abroad, and slew the priests of the idols, that were not of the family of Aaron.

4. And when he had done this in Jerusalem, he came into the country, and utterly destroyed what buildings had been made therein by king Jeroboam, in honour of strange gods; and he burnt the bones of the false prophets upon that altar which Jeroboam first built. And as the prophet (Jadon,] who came to Jeroboam when he was offering sacrifice, and when all the people heard hiin, foretold what would come to pass, viz. That " a certain man of the house of David, Josiah

by name, should do what is here mentioned.” And it happened that those predictions took effect after three hundred and sixty-one years.

5. After these things, Josiah went also to such other Israel

« PreviousContinue »