Page images
PDF
EPUB

pro

against them When the prophet had said this, both the king and the multitude fell upon their faces, and gave thanks to God, and worshipped him; and the Levites continued singing hymns to God with their instruments of music.

3. As soon as it was day, and the king was come into that wilderness which is under the city of Tekoa, he said to the multitude, That “ they ought to give credit to what the “phet had said, and not to set themselves in array for fighting, but to set the priests with their trumpets, and the Levites, with the singers of hymns, to give thanks to God, as

having already delivered our country from our enemies.” This opinion of the king pleased (the people), and they did what he advised them to do. So God caused a terror and a commotion to arise among the Ammonites, who thought one another to be enemies, and slew one another, insomuch that not one man out of so great an army escaped; and when Jehoshaphat looked upon that valley wherein their enemies had been encamped, and saw it full of dead men, he rejoiced at so surprising an event, as was this assistance of God, while he himself by his own power, and without their labour, had given them the victory. He also gave his army leave to take the prey of the enemies camp, and to spoil their dead bodies; and indeed so they did for three days together, till they were weary, so great was the number of the slain ; and on the fourth day, all the people were gathered together, unto a certain hollow place or valley, and blessed God for his power and assistance, from which the place had this name given it, The valley of (Berachah, or] blessing.

4. And when the king had brought his army back to Jerusalem, he betook himself to celebrate festivals, and offer sacrifices, and this for many days. And indeed, after this destruction of their enemies, and when it came to the ears of the foreign nations, they were all greatly affrighted, as supposing that God would openly fight for him hereafter. So Jehoshaphat from that time lived in great glory and splendour, on account of his righteousness and his piety towards God. He was also in friendship with Ahab's son, who was king of Israel; and he joined with him in the building of ships that were to sail to * Pontus, and the trafic cities of Thrace; but

* What are here Pontus and Thrace, as the places whither Jehoshaphat's fleet sailed, are in our other copies Ophir and Tarshish, and the place whence it sailed is in them Eziongeber, which lay on the Red Sea, whence it was impossible for any ships to sail to Pontus or Thrace; so that Josephus's copy differed from our other copies, as is farther plain from his own words, which render what we read, that the ships were broken at Eziongeber from their unwieldy greatness. But so far we may conclude, that Josephus thought one Ophir to be somewhere in the Mediterranean, and not in the South Sea, though perhaps there might be another Ophir in that South Sea also, and that fleets might then sail both from Phenicia, and from the Red Sea to fetch the gold of Ophir.

he failed of his gains, for the ships were destroyed by being so great [and unwieldy]; on which account he was no longer concerned about shipping A!d this is the history of Jehushapbat, the king of Jerusalem.

CHAP. II.

[ocr errors]

Concerning Ahaziuh the king of Israel; and again concerning

the prophet Elijah. And now Abaziah, the son of Ahab, reigned over Is. rael, and made bis abode in Sanaria. He was a wicked man, and in all respects, like to both his parents, and to Jeroboam, who first of ail tran-gressed, and began to deceive the people. In the second year of his reign, the king of Moab fell off from his obedience, and left off paying those tributes which he before paid to his father Ahab. Now it happened that Ahaziah, as he was coming down from the top of his house, fell down from it, and in his sickness sent to the * Fly, which was the god of Ekron, for that was this god's name, to enquire about his recovery: But the god of the Hebrews appeared to Elijab the prophet, and commanded bim to go and meet the messengers that were sent, and to ask them, " Whether the “ people of Israel bad not a God of their own, that the king “ sent to a foreign god to inquire about his recovery and to « bid them return and tell the king, that he would not escape " this disease.” And when Elijah had performed what God had commanded him, and the messengers had heard what he said, they returned to the king immediately : and when the king wondered how they could return so soon, and asked them the reason of it, they said, that a“ certain man met them, and “ forbade them to go on any farther, but to return and tell thee “ from the command of the God of Israel, that this disease “ will have a bad end.” And when the king bid them describe the man that said this to them, They replied, “ that he

was an hairy man, and was girt about with a girdle of leaths6 er.“ So the king understood by this, that the man who was described by the messengers was Elijah; whereupon he sent a captain to him, with fifty soldiers, and commanded them to bring Elijah to him ; and when the captain that was sent found • Elijah sitting upon the top of an hill, he commanded him to come down, and to come to the king, for so he had enjoined, but that in case he refused, they would carry him by force. Elijah said to him, " That you may have a trial whether I be

* This god of Aies seems to have been so called, as was the like god among the Greeks, from his supposed power over fies, in driving them away from the flesh of their sacrifices which utherwise would bave been very troublesome to them.

a true prophet, I will pray that + fire may fall from heaven, “ and destroy both the soldiers and yourselt.” So he prayed, and a whirlwind of fire fell [from beaven and destroved the captaill, and those that were with him. And when the king was informed of the destruction of these men, he was very angry, and sent anotver ca,tain with the like number of aried men that were sent be ore. And when this captain also threatened the prophet, that un'ess he came down of his own accord, he would take him and carry bim away; upon bis prayer against him, the fire [troin heaven) slew this captain as well as the other. And when upon inquiry, the king was informed of what happened to him, le sent out a third captain. But when this captain who was a wise man, and of a mild disposition, came to the pace where E ,jali hap:ened to be, and spake çivily to him; and said, Tnat " he knew that it

was without his own consent, and only in submission to the kiny's corn:oand that he cam: to him; and that those that came befirre did not come willingly, but on the sane ac

count: He therefore desired liin to have pity on those “ arined men that were with him; and that he would come “ down and follow him to the king.” So Elijah accepted of bis discreet words and courteous behaviour, and came down and followed bim. And when he came to the tini, he prophesied to him, and told him, that “ God said, Since thou 6. hast despised him as not being God, and so unable to “ foretel the truth about thy distemper, but has sent to the “ god of Ekron to enquire of him what will be the end of this “ thy distemper, know this, that thou shalt die."

2. Accordingly the king in a very little time died, as Elijah had foretold ; but Jehoram his brother succeeded him in the kingdom, for he died without children: but for this Jehoram, he was like his father Ahab in wickedness, and reigned twelve

+ It is commonly esteemed a very cruel action of Elijah’s, when he called for fire from heaven, and consumed no fewer than two captains and an hundred soldiers, and this for no other crime than obeying the orders of their king, in at. tempting to seize him; and it is owned by our Saviour that it was an tostance of greater severity than the spirit of the New Testament allows, Luke ix.54 But then we m'ist consider, that it is not unlikely that these captains and soldiers be. lieved that they were sen: 10 fetch the prophet, that he might be put to death for fortelling the death of the king, and this while they knew him to be the pro..hes of the true God, the supreme king of Israel (for they were stil under the the cracy,' which as no less than impiety, rebellion, and treason, in the highest degree: Neir ould th command of a subaltern, or inferior captain contrarlicting the commands of th general, when the captain and the soldiers bith kew ir to be so, as, I suppose, justify or excise such gross r. bellion and disobedience in soldiers 'at this day Accordinglv, when Saul cominanded his guards in slay Ahim ch, anil the priesis at Nob, thev knew it to be an unlawful command, and would not obey it. 1 Sam. xxii 17. From which cases both officers and solljers may learn, that the commands of their leaders or kings cannot justify or excuse them in doing what is wicket in the sight of God, or in fighting in an unjust cause, when they know it so to be.

years, indulging himself in all sorts of wickedness and impiety towards God, for leaving off his worship, he worshipped foreign gods, but in other respects he was an active man. Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared, but so that nobody knew that they died.

CHAP. III.

How Joram and Jehoshuphat made an expedition against the

Moabites: As also concerning the wonders of Elisha; and

the death of Jehoshaphat. § 1. When Joram bad taken upon him the kingdom, he determined to make an expedition against the king of Moab, whose name was Mesha; for as we told you before, he was departed from his obedience to his brother [Ahaziah), while he paid to his father Ahab two hundred thousand sheep, with their fleeces of wool. When therefore he had gathered his own army together, he sent also to Jehoshaphat, and entreated him, that since he had from the beginning been a friend to his father, he would assist him in the war that he was entering into against the Moabites, who had departed from their obedience; who not only himself promised to assist him, but would also oblige the king of Edoın, who was under his authority, to make the same expedition also. When Joram had received these assurances of assistance from Jehoshaphat, he took his arıny with him, and came to Jerusalem; and when he had been sumptuously entertained by the king, of Jerusalem, it was resolved upon by them to take their march against their enemies through the wilderness of Edom: And when they had taken a compass of seven days journey, they were in distress for want of water for the cattle, and for the army, from the mistake of their roads by the guides that conducted them, insomuch that they were all in an agony, especially Joram ; and cried to God, by reason of their sorrow, and [desired to know] what wickednes had been committed by them, that induced him to deliver three kings together, without fighting, unto the king of Moab. But Jehoshaphat, who was a righteous man, encouraged bim, and bid him send to the camp, and know whether any prophet of God was come along with them, that we might by him learn from God wbat we should do. And when one of the servants of Joram said, that he had seen there Elisha, the son of Shaphat, the disciple of Elijah, the three kings went to him, at the entreaty of Je. hoshaphat; and when they were come at the prophet's tent, which tent was pitched out of the camp, they asked him, “ What would become of the army?" and Joram was particularly very pressing with him about it. And when he replied to him, That " he should not trouble him, but go to his “ father's and mother's prophets, for they [to be sure) were • true prophets,” he still desired him to prophecy, and to save them. So be swore by God, that he would not answer him, unless it were on account of Jehoshaphat, who was an holy and righteous man; and when, at his desire, they brought him a man that could play on the psaltery, the divine spirit .came upon him, as the music played, and he commanded them to dig many trenches in the valley; for, said he,

Though there appear neither cloud, nor wind, nor storm 66 of rain, ye shall see this river full of water, till the army “ and the cattle be saved for you by drinking of it: Nor will “ this be all the favour that you shall receive from God, but

you shall also overcoine your enemies, and take the best “ and strongest cities of the Moabites, and you shall * cut “ down their fruit trees, and lay waste their country, and stop up

their fountains and rivers." 2. When the prophet had said this, the next day, before the sun was risen, a great torrent ran strongly: for God had caused it to rain very plentifully at the distance of three days journey in Edom, so that the army and the cattle found water to drink in abundance. But when the Moabites heard that the three kings were coming upon them, and made their approach though ihe wilderness, the king of Moab gathered bis army together presently ; and commanded them to pitch their camp upon the mountains, that when the enemies should attempt to enter their country, they might not be concealed from them. But when at the rising of the sun they saw the water in the torrent, for it was not far from the land of Moab, and that it was of the colour of blood, for at such a time the water especially looks red, by the shining of the

it they formed a false notion of the state of their enemies, as if they had slain one another for thirst ; and that the river ran with their blood. However, supposing that this was the

sun upon

* This practice of cutting down, or plucking up by the roots the fruit trees was forbidden, even in ordinary wars, by the law of Moses, Deut. xx. 19, 20, and only allowed by God in this particular case, when the Moabites were to be punished and cut off in an extraordinary manner for their wickedness. See Jer. xlviii. 11, 12, 13. and many the like prophecies against them. Nothing could therefore justify this practice but a particular commission from God phet, as in the present case, which was ever a sufficient warrant for breaking any such ritual or ceremonial law whatsoever.

his pro

« PreviousContinue »