« PreviousContinue »
case, they desired their king would send them out to spoil their enemies; whereupon they all went in haste, as to an advantage already gained, and came to the enemies camp, as supposing them destroyed already. But their hope deceived them, for as their ene sies stood round about them, some of them were cut to pieces, and others of them were dispersed, and Aed to their own country. And when the kings fell into the land of Moab, they overthrew the cities that were in it, and spoiled their fields, and marred them, filling them with stones out of the brooks, and cut down the best of their trees, and stopped up their fountains of water, and overthrew their walls to their foundations. But the king of Moab, when he was pursued, endured a siege, and seeing his city in danger of being overthrown by force, made a sally, and went out with seven hundred men, in order to break through the enemies camp with his horsemen, on that side where the watch seemed to be kept most negligently; and when, upon trial he could not get away, for he light upon a place that was carefully watched, he returned into the city, and did a thing that shewed despair, and the utmost distress ; for ne kok his eldest son, who was to reign after him, and lifting hintup upon the wall, that he might be visible to all the enemies, he offered him as a whole burnt offering to God, whom, when the kings saw, they commiserated the distress that was the occasion of it, and were so affected, in way of humanity and pity, that they raised the siege, and every one returned to his own house. So Jehosliaphat came to Jerusalem, and continued in peace there, and out-lived this expedition but a little time, and then died, having lived in all sixty years, and of them reigned twenty-five. He was buried in a magnificent manner in Jerusalem, for he had imitated the actions of David.
§ 1. J
Jehoram succeeded Jehoshaphat : how Joram, his namesake
king of Israel, fought with the Syrians; and what wonders were done by the prophet Elisha.
EHOSHAPHAT had a good number of children ; but he aprointed his eldest son Jehoram, to be his successor who had the same name with bis mother's brother, that was king of Israel, and the son of Ahab. Now when the king of Israel was come out of the land of Moab to Samaria, he had with hiin Elisha the prophet, whose acts I have a mind to go over particularly, for they were illustrious, and worthy to be related, as we have them set down in the sacred books.
2. For they say that the*widow of Obadiah, Ahab's steward, came to him, and said, That “ he was not ignorant how “ her husband had preserved the prophets that were to be * slain by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab; for she said that he “ hid an hundred of them, and had borrowed money for “ their maintenance, and that after her husband's death, she “ and her children were carried away to be made slaves by “ the creditors; and she desired of him to have mercy upon “ her on account of what her husband did, and afford her
some assistance.” And when he asked her what she had in the house, she said, nothing but a very small quantity of oil in a cruise. So the prophet bid her go away, and borrow a great many empty vessels of her neighbours, and when she had shut her chamber door, to pour the oil into them all; for that God would fill them full. And when the woman had done what she was commanded to do, and bade her children bring every one of the vessels, and all were filled, and not one left empty, she came to the prophet, and told him that they were all full: Upon which be advised her to go away, and sell the oil, and pay the creditors what was owing to them, for that there would be some surplus of the price of the oil, which she might make use of for the maintenance of her children. And thus did Elisha discharge the woman's debts, and free her from the vexation of her creditors.
3. † Elisha also sent an hasty message to Joram, and exhorted him to take care of that place, for that therein were some Syrians lying in ambush to kill him. So the king did as the prophet exhorted him, and avoided his going a hunting. And when Benhadad inissed of the success of his lying in ambush, he was wroth with his own servants, as if they had betrayed his ambushment to Joram, and he sent for them, and said they were the betrayers of his secret counsels; and he threatened that he would put them to death, since such their practice was evident, because he had entrusted this secret to none but them, and yet it was made known to his enemy. And when one that was present said, that “ he should not mistake “ 'himself, nor suspect that they had discovered to bis enemy “ his sendmg men to kill him, but that he ought to know « that it was Elisha the prophet who discovered all to him, " and laid open all his counsels." So he gave order that they should send some to learn in what city Elisha dwelt. Accordingly, those that were sent brought word, that he was in Dothan; wherefore Benhadad sent to that city a great army, with horses and chariots to take Elisha; so they encompassed the city round about by night, and kept him therein confined: but when the prophet's servant in the morning perceived this, and that his enemies sought to take Elisha, he came running, and crying out after a disordered manner to him, and told him of it; but he encouraged him, and bid him not be afraid and to despise the enemy, and trust in the assistance of God, and was himself without fear; and 'he besought God to make manifest to his servant his power and presence, so far as was possible, in order to the inspiring bim with hope and courage. Accordingly God heard the prayer of the prophet, and made the servant see a multitude of chariots and horses encompassing Elisha, till he laid aside his fear, and his courage revived, at the sight of whåt he supposed was come to their assistance. After this Elisha did farther entreat God, that he would dim the eyes of their enemies, and cast a mist before them, whereby they might not discern him. When this was done, he went into the midst of bis enemies, and asked them who it was that they came to seek; and when they replied, the prophet Elisha, he promised he would deliver
* That this woman who cried to Elisha, and who in our Bible is stiled the wife of one of the sons of the prophets, 2 Kings iv. 1. was no other than ihe widow of Obadiah, the good steward of Ahab, is confirmed by the Coaldee paraphrast, and by the Rabbins and others. Nor is that unlikely which Josephus ber add-, that these debts were contracted by her husband for the support of those hundred of the Lord's prophets, whom maintained by fifty in a cave, in the days of Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings xviii 4. which circumstance rendered it highly fit that the prophet Elisha should provide her a remedy, and enable her to redeem herself and her sons from the fear of that slavery bich insolvent dentors were liable to by the law of Moses, Levit. xxv. 39. Mat. xviii. 25. which he did accordingly, with God's help, at the expence of a miracle.
+ Dr. Hudson,'with very good reason, suspects that there is no small defect in our present copies of Josepbus, just before the beginning of this section, and that chiefy, as to that distinct account which he had given us reason to expect in the first section and to which he seems to refer, chap viii. sect. 6. concerning the glorious miracles which Elisha wrought, which indeed in our Bibles are not a few, 2 Kings iv.-ix. but of which we have several omitter in Josephus's present co. pies. One of those histories omitted at pre-en“, was evidently in his Bible, I mean that of the curing of Naaman's leprosy, 2 Kings v. for he plainly alludes to it, B. 111. ch. xi, sect. 4. where he observes, That “there were leapers in many na. “ tions who yet have been in honour, and not only free from reproach and avoid.
ance, but who have been great captains of armies, and been intrusted with high " offices in the commonwealth, and have had the privilege of entering into holy “ places and temples.” But what makes me most to regret the want of that his. tory in our present copies of Josephus, is this, that we have here, as it is com. monly understood, one of the greatest difficulties in all the Bible, that in 2 Kings v. 18, 19. where Naaman after he had been miraculously cured by a prophet of the true God, and had thereupon promised ver. 17. that he would hence5. forth offer neither burnt-offerings nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the " Lord, adds, in this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master - goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and be leaneth on my hands, « and I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant “ in this thing. And Elisha said, Go in peace.” This looks like a prophet's permission for being partaker in idolatry itself, out of compliance with an idolatrous court.
him to them, if they would follow him to the city where he
So these men were so darkened by God in their sight and in their mind, that they followed him very diligently; and when Elisha had brought them to Samaria, he ordered Joram the king to shut the gates, and to place his own army round about them; and prayed to God to clear the eyes of these their enemies, and take the mist from before them. Accordingly when they were freed from the obscurity they had been in, they saw themselves in the midst of their enemies; and as the Syrians were strangely amazed and distressed, as was but reasonable, at an action so divine and surprising; and as king Joram asked the prophet, if he would give him
leave to shoot at them; Elisha forbade him so to do; and said, that " it is
just to kill those that are taken in battle, but that these “ men had done the country no harm, but without knowing 56 it were come thither by the divine power.” So that his counsel was to treat them in an hospitable manner at his table, and then send them away without hurting them.* Wherefore Joram obeyed the prophet; and when he had feasted the Syrians in a splendid and magnificent manner, he let them go to Benhadad their king.
4. Now when these men were come back, and had shewed Benhadad how strange an accident had befallen them, and what an appearance and power they had experienced of the God of Israel, he wondered at it, as also at that prophet with whom God was so evidently present: so be determined to make no more secret attempts upon the king of Israel, out of fear of Elisha, but resolved to make open war with tbem, as supposing he could be too hard for his enemies by the multitude of his army and power. So he made an expedition with a great army, against Joram, who not thinking himself a match for him, shut himself up in Samaria, and depended on the strength of its walls; but Benhadad supposed he should take the city, if not by his engines of war, yet that he should overcome the Samaritans by famine, and the want of necessaries, and brought his army upon them, and besieged the city: and the plenty of necessaries was brought so low with Joram, that from the extremity of want an ass's head was sold in Samaria for fourscore pieces of silver, and the Hebrews bought a sextary of dove's dung, instead of salt, for five pieces of silver. Now Joram was in fear lest somebody should betray the city to the enemy, by reason of the famine, and went every day round the walls and the guards, to see whether any such were concaled among them; and being thus seen, and taking such care, he depr ved thein of the opportunity of contriving any such thing, and if they had a mind to do it, he, by this ineans, prevented them, but upon a certain womali's crying out, “ Have pity on me, my lord," while he thought that she was about to ask for somewhat to eat, he imprecated God's curse upon her, and said, “ he had neither is threshing Hoor, nor wire-press,, whence he inight give her
* Upon occasion of this stratagem of Elisha's in Josephus, we may take notice, that although Josephus was one of the greatest lovers of truth in the world, yet in a just war he seems to have had no manner of scruple upon him by all' such stratagems possible to deceive public enemies. See this Josephus's ac. count of Jeremiah's imposition on the great men of the Jews in somewhat a like Case, Antiq. B. X. ch. vii. 5 6. Vol. II. and 2 Sam. xvi. 16, &c.
any thing at ber p tition." Upon which she said, “ Sve o did not desire his aid in any such thing, nor trouble him • about food, but desired that he would do her justice as to 66 another womnan." And wavn he bade her say on, and let him know what she desired, she said, “ She had ma le an
agreement with the other woman, who was her nei, hbour " and her friend, that becau e the fanine and the want was “ intolerable, they should kill their children, each of them “ having a son of her own, and we will live upon them our. 66 selles for two days, the one day upon one son, and the “ other day upou the other: and, said she, I have killed my “ son the first day, and we lived upon my son yesterday, but “ this other woman will not do the same thing, but hath 66 broken her agreement, and hath hid her son. nighuity grieved Joram when he heard it; so he rent his
garment, and cried out with a loud voice, and conceived great wrath against Elisha the prophet, and set himself eagerly to hare him slain, because he did not pray to God to provide them some exit and
escape out of the miseries with which they were surrounded, and sent one away immediately to cut oft his head, who made haste to kill the prophet ; but Elisha was not unacquainted with the wrath of the king against him; for as he sat in bis bouse by bimself, with none but his disciples about him, he told them, that Joram* who was the son of a murderer, had sent one to take away his head; but, said he, “wben he that is commanded to do this comes, take
do not let him come in, but press the door “ against him, and hold him fast there, for the king himself “ will follow him, and come to me, having allered his mind.”
* This son of a murderer was Joram, the son of Ahab, which Ahab slew, or permitted his wife Jezebel to slay the Lord's prophets, and Naboth, 1 Kings xviri 4. xxi. 19. and he is here called by this name, I suppose, because he had now also him elf sent an officer to murder him; yet is Josephus's account of Joram's coming himself at last, as repenting of his intended cruelty, much more probable than that in our copies, 2 Kings vi. 33, which rather implies the contrary.