Page images

his life. Amaziah, having received intimation of the desigu of his enemies, endeavored to escape, by flying to Lachisli, a town situated on the frontiers of the country of the Philistines. But these endeavors to save himself proved fruitless, for the conspirators sent proper persons after him, who, taking a favorable opportunity that offered, put him privately to death. When his friends understood what had befallen him, they went to Lachish, from whence they brought his body (without any state or formality) to Jerusalem, and interred it in the sepulchre of his ancestors. Thus died Amaziah king of Judah, after a reign of twentynine years, during which time he not only offended God in the highest degree, but made himself, in the end, universally detested by his subjects. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Uzziah, (otherwise called Azariah) the transactions of whose life we shall defer to the next chapter, and here return to the particular occurrences that took place in the kingdom of Israel.

Some time after Joash had ascended the throne of Israel, it happened that the prophet Elisha fell sick of a disease, whereof he diedl. Joashi

, having always entertained the highest respect for the prophet, and paid him the greatest reverence, went to pay him a visit on this melancholy occasion. After he had expressed his grief for the situation in which he found him, and pointed out the great loss all Israel would have by his death, the prophet first bestowed on him his blessing, and then emblematically predicted to him the future success he would have over his enemies the Syrians. Te bade him take a bow and arrows, open the window castward, and shoot. Joash did as he was ordered, upon which the prophet said, The arrow of the Lord's deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek. Elisha then bade Joash take the arrows and smite them on the ground. The king did as directed three times, and then stopped: upon which Elisha said, Thou shouldest hare smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice. Joash, finding the prophet angry with him, took his leave and departed, soon after which Elisha paid the debt of nature.

Though this was the last prediction of Elisha, yet it was not the last miracle, for he performed one even after his death. As a company of Israelites were going to bury a dead person, they espied at a distance a band of men making towards them, upon which, in order to escape them, they threw the corpse into Elisha's tomb. As soon as the body of the dead man touched that of Elisha, life was instantly restored, he got upon his feet, arose out of the tomb, and followed those who had thrown him into it.*

This was a most singular miracle indeed, but whoever seriously reflects on it will easily discover that no innate power in the bones of Elisha could produce so wonderful an effect. It was the immediate work and operation of God himself, who was thus pleased not only to give his people a proof of the Divine mission of his prophet, but also of that future resurrection from the dead, which is fully revealed to us in the Gospel. A very celebrated divine remarks, that this was a clear symbol and prophecy of the resurrection of our Blessed Redeemer, only with this material difference, that Elisha raised a dead body without raising himself, whereas Christ not only raised himself, but gives life to all those who believe in him.

The miracle performed by Elisha after his death (which was a Divine confirmation of the truth of all his prophecies) could not fail of being a powerful means to encourage king Joash to engage in a war with the Syrians, more especially as he had assured him he should obtain a conquest over them three different times. Nor was his success little short of what the prophet had predicted; for, in three

* It appears, from this very remarkable circumstance, that Elisha died near the borders of Syria; for the people in the east were mostly buried where they died. At the time when the man here mentioned died, the Syrians had made several inroads into the land of Israel; and this was one of their straggling parties, which is here called a band. Men of such exalted characters as the prophet Elisha had monuments of stone, in the form of our square tombs, wherein their bodies were deposited, and therefore, the men who carried the dead body here spoken of, flung it into the tomb of the prophet, that they might be the inore able to provide for their own safety. That the man should be restored to life by his body touching the bones of the prophet was, no doubt, a very great miracle, and, most probably, was wrought, that the people might be convinced, if they imitated the conduct of Elisha, his God would save and deliver them out of the greatest difficulties.

VOT. ii. A A

pitched battles, he defeated Benbadad (bis father Hazael being then dead) recovered all the cities that had been taken from his father Jehoahaz, and re-united them to the kingdom of Israel.

After this Joash lived quiet from all his enemies, till Jehoash, king of Judah, gave him the small disturbance we have already mentioned. From this time we hear nothing more remarkable concerning him; and may therefore conclude, that, he lived in peace, and was succeeded by his son Jeroboam, the second person of that name who ruled over the kingdom of Israel.

Jeroboam II. came to the throne of Israel in the fifteenth year of Amaziah, king of Judah. He received great assistance, in the beginning of his reign, from the prophet Jonah, by the following of whose advice he proved successful in many military enterprizes. He recovered a large territory which several kings bad taken from his predecessors, even all the country from Libanus on the north, to the lake Asphaltites on the south; but especially on the east of Jordan, whereby he greatly enlarged the conquests which his father had made before him.

In the days of David and Solomon, the cities of Damas. cus and Hamoth had been tributary to the kings of Judah; but having long revolted from Israel, Jeroboam conquered them again, and made them pay homage to him, as they had formerly done to his predecessors. *

Jeroboam II. reigned over Israel forty-one years, during the course of which he proved successful in a variety of the most dangerous enterprizes. He died with much honor and renown, and was buried with his ancestors; but,

* To some part of this king's reign must be referred the action which we read (in 1 Chron. v. 18.) was performed by the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, who, mustering together forty-four thousand seven hundred and sixty able men, made war upon the Hagarites; and being assisted by the Lord, to whom they addressed themselves in time of battle, they obtained a complete victory. The booty they made themselves masters of was very considerable, consisting of 50,000 camels, 250,000 sheep, 2000 asses, and 100,000 prisoners, besides great pumbers slain in the battle. Thus did they prove victorious, because God was engaged on their side; and these two tribes and an half, having dispossessed the Hagarites, dwelt in peace and quietness from that period till the time of the Babylonish captivity:

whether through wars abroad, or discord and dissention at home, he left the government in so confused a state, that, after his decease, there was an interregnum for the space of twenty-two years.


Containing the most material incidents recorded in the Life

and Transactions of the Prophet Jonah.*

DURING the time the throne of Israel continued vacant after the death of Jeroboam II, the prophet Jonah, who had done him many services during his reign, received a Divine commission to execute a matter of business of the most serious and important nature. The Ninevites had for a long time lived in the greatest wickedness, upon which the Almighty was pleased to command Jonah to go

* The remaining part of the History of the Old Testament con. sists, in a great measure, of the proceedings of the most distinguished prophets, who were appointed, by Divine Providence, at different periods, to work upon the minds of the people, and endeavor, by a variety of means, to bring them from a state of idolatry, to a thorough sense of the worship of the true God. The proceedings of these prophets we shall take notice of at the respective periods they occurred, they being, in the Sacred Writings, not ranged according to the order of time in which they happened. This is supposed to have arisen through the negligence of the priests in those days, who had the charge of registering and keeping them: for the manner was, when any prophet had written a prophecy, he caused it to be fixed to the gate of the temple, where it remained for a certain number of days, that all might read and take notice of it. After it had stood there the appointed time, the priests took it into the temple to record it in a book; but for want of due care to enter them in course as they were written, they left them in that disorderly manner in which we now find them. But besides this, it must be considered that many of the prophets, especially Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, wrote in very troublesome times : Ezekiel and Daniel when in captivity at Babylon, and Jeremiah, when all things both in church and state were in the greatest confusion and disorder at Jerusalem; and the first copy of his book was destroyed by king Jehoiakim. From these considerations it is not to be wondered at that the writings of the different prophets should be misplaced; and instead of lamenting this defect, we ought to be thankful that they have been preserved at all.

to Nineveh, and denounce to the people, that he would destroy that great city, because of the sins of its inhabitants, or (as the Scripture expresses it) because their wicka edness was come up before him.

Jonah, instead of obeying the Divine command, directed his course another way, and intending to retire to Tarshish, a town in Cilisia, embarked on board a vessel at Joppa,* a port situated on the Mediterranean Sea. But they had not been long sailed before God, to make it appear that nothing undertaken against his will can take effect, and that he accomplisheth his designs even by the resistance and opposition men make against them, caused a great tempest to arise, which so alarmed the mariners, that after laboring some time in opposition to the force of the waves, they found themselves in the most imminent danger of being shipwrecked, and therefore, in order to lighten their ves. sel, threw their lading into the sea.

In the mean time Jonah, sensible that the hand of Providence was in this extraordinary tempest, and being grieved for his disobedience and rebellion against the

* Joppa is a sea-port town in Palestine, upon the Mediterranean, and was formerly the only port which the Jews had upon that coast, whither all the materials, that were sent from Tyre, towards the building of Solomon's temple, were brought and landed. The town itself is very ancient, for profane authors reckon it was built before the flood, and derive the name of it from Joppa, the daughter of Elolus, and the wife of Cepreus, who was the founder of it. Others are rather inclined to believe, that it was built by Japhet, and from him had the name of Japho, which was afterwards corrupted into Joppa, but is now generally called Jaffa, which comes nearer to the first appellation. The towji is situated in a fine plain, between Jamnia to the south; Cæsarea or Palestine to the norih; and Rama or Ramula to the east: but, at present, it is in a poor and mean condition; nor is its port by any means good, by reason of the rocks, which project into the sea. The chief thing, for which this place was famous, in ancient pagan history is, the exposition of Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, king of Egypt, who, for her mother's pride, was bound to a rock, in order to be devoured by a sea-monster, but was delivered by the valor and bravery of Perseus, who afterwards married her: for in the times of Mela and Pliny, there were some marks remaining (as they themselves testify) of the chains, wherewith this royal virgin was bound to the rock, which projects into the sea. But all this is mere fiction, first founded upon the adventure of Jonah, who set sail from this port, and then improved with the addition of same particular circumstances.

« PreviousContinue »