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tory, following the Kingdom of Judah to its Captivity. It commences with the glorious reign of Hezekiah, a period dominated by the personality of the prophet Isaiah. After the reign of Manasseh, related without any suggestion of his repentance, and that of Amon, in whom no redeeming feature appears, we reach another great name in Josiah. The one event of the reign is the reformation ensuing upon the discovery of the roll of the law; a reformation too late to save the guilty kingdom, though the righteous king is to be spared the sight of the overthrow. Though it is a prophetess who foretells the coming doom, yet the heroes of this episode are a scribe and a priest, discoverers of the
and here we seem to have a foretaste of what is to be the history of the future. The troubled reigns which follow are so many stages of the coming captivity.
All three books, though in form regular history, are in their spirit history told from the prophetic point of view; where secular events are treated it is in the barest style of annals, where events touch the controversy between God and his people the narrative rises to the height of epic interest. Taking a general view of the whole, we may see a change of character in the prophetic element of these books. Prophetic action will naturally include miracle, but we now begin to see the miraculous part of it becoming an interest in itself. The sign of the prophet' is at first the symbolic act — tearing of robe or rending of altar — which serves merely as text for the prophetic message. But gradually
it comes to be the wonder-working act which draws attention for its own sake: the cycle of Elisha stories reads for the most part as a succession of mystic wonders, much like the cycle of Samson with its feats of physical strength: wonders of axe heads swimming, a cruse of oil multiplying, children cursed and destroyed by bears, leprosy healed or returning at the prophet's word. There appears a decadence, not in prophecy itself, but in the attitude of the public mind to prophecy; the wonder of the sign becomes to the on-looking people more than the moral truth which that sign is to convey. When the national corruption has proceeded so far as to use the Divine instrument of its correction for a means of wondering diversion, the ministry of prophecy is nearing its end. So in the far future, when the history of Israel shall have reached its last period, the nation will have become “an evil and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign.”
The text is that of the Revised Version, the marginal alternatives of that version being often adopted. For the use of it I express my obligations to the University Presses of Oxford and Cambridge. In explanation of the scantiness of the notes I repeat that this ork es not profess to be in any way a guide to actual history; it is intended only as a help in the reading of historic literature. For
such a purpose I believe it is no slight assistance to have the matter arranged in its logical divisions; when this has been done it is desirable to interpose as little as possible between the reader and the work. It will be found interesting to read separately the prophetic stories, which take the place of the epic stories of earlier historic books.
OR THE CHOSEN NATION UNDER A
SECULAR KINGSHIP SIDE BY SIDE
THE REIGNS OF DAVID AND SOLOMON
THE SCHISM AND KINGDOMS OF JUDAH AND
ISRAEL SIDE BY SIDE
THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH TO ITS CAPTIVITY
[Comprising the Biblical Samuel (in part), and Kings]