« AnteriorContinuar »
ruption-of the cruel and selfish oppression of the kings, of the reckless iniquity of the priests, of the wanton lawlessness and the vices of the people. Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Israel and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes; they pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and pervert the cause of the lowly; and a man and his father will go in to the same house, to profane My name. And they lay themselves down upon pledged clothes by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the House of their God.' Then the prophet announced the terrible retribution that awaited the people for so much wickedness. Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their masters, Bring and let us drink. The Lord God swears by His holiness that, behold, the days shall come upon you, that you will be taken away with hooks and your posterity with fishhooks. And you shall go out at the ruins, every one his own way; and
shall cast yourselves into the mountain, says the Lord. And rising to greater distinctness, and menacing the king himself, he exclaimed: Thus He showed me; and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in His hands. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou ? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel, I will no longer pass it over, and the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.' The boldness of these and similar speeches drew upon Amos the persecution of the king and his officers. Amaziah especially, a priest in Beth-el, sent word to the king : “Amos has conspired
against thee in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos says, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land. Amos was ordered at once to leave the kingdom of Israel and to go to Judah. But he answered, 'I am no prophet, nor am I a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit; and the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, Go, prophesy to My people Israel. Now, therefore, hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and speak not against the house of Isaac. Therefore, thus says the Lord, Thy wife shall be dishonoured in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line, and thou shalt die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into captivity out of this land.'
No less stern were the warnings and rebukes of the prophet Hosea, who raised his voice about the same period; however different from Amos in style and manner, he closely resembles him in describing the degeneracy of the time, and in predicting terrible misfortunes. “Hear ye the word of the Lord,' he exclaimed, 'ye children of Israel: for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land-swearing and lying and killing and stealing and committing adultery—they break out in violence, and blood follows upon blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and everyone in it shall perish.
But Jeroboam did not see the fearful day of retribution foretold by the prophets. He died in peace in the year 784.
127. INTERREGNUM; ZACHARIAH; SHALLUM; MENAHEM; PEKAHIAH (784—759).
[2 Kings XV. 8--26.] Jeroboam's death was the signal for general confusion and anarchy. As the prophet Hosea said, “they had sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. For ten years this Interregnum distracted the land (784—774), when at last Zachariah, the son of Jeroboam, was placed on the throne. He was also an idolater, and was, with the approval of the people, murdered by Shallum, the son of Jabesh, after a short reign of six months; and thus ended the dynasty of the house of Jehu.
Shallum, who was proclaimed king, reigned but one month, and was slain in his turn by Menahem, the son of Gadi, who came up from Tirzah, and seized the throne of Israel, which he occupied for ten years (773—763).
Menahem was barbarously cruel, and wreaked fearful vengeance upon the cities that would not at once acknowledge his sovereignty. He maintained the worship of the golden calves in Beth-el and Dan. But Pul, the great Assyrian conqueror, invaded his kingdom ; Menahem, anxious solely for his own safety, secured a truce and the invader’s support against his Hebrew subjects by paying the enormous tribute of 1,000 talents of silver, which he obtained by imposing upon each person of the wealthier class an impost of fifty shekels. Then Pul left the land.
Menahem was succeeded by his son Pekabiah (763— 759). After a short and evil reign, during which the whole kingdom seems to have been convulsed by crime and bloodshed, Pekahiah was slain in his own palace by Pekah, the son of Remaliah, one of the captains of his army, who attacked him at the head of a band of fifty conspirators from Gilead, and who succeeded him on the throne.
128. PEKAH (759–739)
[2 Kings XV. 27—31.] Pekah made an alliance with Rezin, king of Syria, and both invaded together the empire of Judah, over which Ahaz was then reigning. At that time Isaiah had already commenced his grand prophetic career, and played an important part in all public matters. He mentions the war and its issue in the following words : "And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim; and his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the Lord to Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field, and say to him, Take heed and be quiet ; fear not, neither be fainthearted on account of the two tails of these smoking firebrands, the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal. Thus says the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin ; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be no more a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son.
If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established. And as the prophet had described and
foretold, so it happened. Ahaz called in the aid of the Assyrians and their valiant king Tiglath-Pileser, who eagerly seized this opportunity for obtaining a footing in Palestine. They descended upon the east-Jordanic provinces and upon the northern districts of the kingdom of Israel, invading Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, carrying the people away as captives into the heart of Assyria, and transplanting Assyrians into those newly-acquired territories. Thus Israel was materially weakened, and was ripe to fall a prey to any foreign conqueror. Hoshea, the son of Elah, headed a conspiracy against Pekah, slew him, and then seized the crown. He was the last king of Israel.
129. HOSHEA (739-722).
[2 KINGS XVII.] Ushered in by revolt and violence, this reign was one of disgrace and misfortune-a fearful termination of centuries of wickedness, bloodshed, and idolatry. Shalmaneser had followed Tiglath-Pileser as king of Assyria, and had inherited his love of conquest and daring ambition. He subdued a part of Phænicia, and made the king of Israel tributary to Assur. Hoshea tried to shake off the burdensome yoke; to effect this, he secretly sought the powerful help of So or Sevechus, king of Egypt, and then he refused to transmit to Assyria the imposed tax. By these steps he speedily brought final ruin upon his country. Shalmaneser, with his immense host, poured in upon the weak and exhausted kingdom of Israel; he seized and imprisoned Hoshea, and besieged the last stronghold and the pride of the land, the beautiful city of Samaria. After three years of horrible suffering on the part of the besieged, Samaria fell into the hand of the enemy. The Israelites were carried away into the remote provinces of Mesopotamia and Media, while Assyrians were sent to colonise the fair kingdom of