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fines of Judah, from whence he hoped to control the land. Asa, well understanding the danger, despatched messengers to Benhadad, king of Syria, sent him all the newly accumulated treasures of the Temple and the palace as presents, and entreated him to break his alliance with Israel, and to invade the northern provinces, in order to compel Baasha to retreat for the defence of his own country. Benhadad consented; he was successful, and conquered the provinces of Naphtali and some more southern districts. Baasha returned in haste to his capital Tirzah, whereupon Asa sent large numbers of workmen to pull down the scarcely completed and now deserted town Ramah; and he built with the materials the cities of Geba and Mizpah (see p. 443).

Asa spent the remainder of his reign in peace, but was in his old age afflicted by a terrible disease in his feet. When he died, he was buried by his sorrowing people in the sepulchre which he had built for himself in Jerusalem.

His son succeeded him.

133. JEHOSHAPHAT (914-891). [1 Kings XXII. 41–50; 2 Kings III. 7 899.; 2 CHRON. XVII.-XX.]

Jehoshaphat proved worthy of his father Asa, and may be numbered among the greatest kings of Judah. He strengthened the country by founding new cities and by fortifying those which Asa had taken from the Ephraimites. He built forts and established storehouses throughout the land. Except that he maintained the service on the high places, he insisted upon the pure worship of the Lord, and rooted out the last vestiges of idolatry. So zealous was he in the propagation of the true doctrines, that he appointed men in all the cities of Judah to instruct the people in the Law. The fame of his power and his wisdom was widely spread among the tribes of

the East; the old magnificent days of Solomon seemed to be revived; the Philistines and the Arabians sought to secure the goodwill of the monarch by costly presents and by tribute money; and the Edomites gave proof of their faithful allegiance. A greater triumph even than all this was the alliance which he concluded with king Ahab, and which for a while terminated the fierce warfare that had so long raged between Judah and Israel. That union was strengthened by the marriage of his son Joram, the heir of Judah, with Athaliah, the Israelite princess: Jehoshaphat himself went up to Samaria, the capital of Ephraim, on a peaceful visit to Ahab. There the two kings resolved upon the campaign against the Syrian king Benhadad which, at the siege of Ramoth in Gilead, ended in the death of Ahab and the defeat of the Israelite army (see p. 460). Jehoshaphat was, however, permitted to return in safety to Jerusalem, where he continued to devote himself to religious and political reforms. But a fearful calamity threatened the land of Judah. The Moabites and the Ammonites, those ungovernable tribes whose ardour for warfare and rapine had never abated, attempted the conquest of the southern kingdom. At the first tidings of this impending invasion, Jehoshaphat was seized with consternation. He proclaimed-s0 relates the Chronist—a fast throughout the whole land, and summoned the people to the Court of the Temple to implore the help of the Lord. The king himself prayed fervently for aid and counsel in a manner worthy of his great ancestor Solomon. With the humility of true greatness, he said, “We know not what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee.' A vast concourse of people was gathered round him-men, women, and children, all waiting for a sign from the Lord. The prayer was answered. Upon Jehaziel, a Levite, descended the spirit of God. Be not afraid nor dismayed,' said he, by reason of this great

multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's ; you shall not need to fight in this battle: come forward, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you.' King and people heard these comforting words with gladness and pious faith. On the following morning, when the warriors poured forth from Jerusalem, the priests, arrayed in their splendid robes, sang, ‘Praise ye the Lord, for His mercy endureth for ever.' The Ammonites and the Moabites were smitten—but not by the army of Jehoshaphat. They had been joined by inhabitants of Seir, upon whom, however, it appears they looked with mistrust and suspicion; and an internecine feud followed, by which the armies of the three tribes were thoroughly weakened and almost annihilated. When Jehoshaphat and his soldiers came to the battlefield, they saw it strewn with the corpses of their enemies, and they returned to Israel laden with spoil. The king gave utterance to his feelings of joy and gratitude in fervent hymns of praise.

Towards the close of his reign, he made an alliance with Ahaziah, the wicked king of Israel, for the purpose of resuming that commerce in gold which had flourished in the days of Solomon. Accordingly he built large ships which were to sail to Ophir. But the vessels never went out on their voyages; they were wrecked in the harbour of Ezion-geber on the Red Sea. When Jehoshaphat died, his son succeeded him.

134. JORAM (891–884).

[2 Kings VIII. 16—24; 2 Chron. XXI.] This reign was unfortunate for Judah. As soon as Joram considered himself secured in his succession, he killed his six brothers, whom their father had amply provided for with gold and lands, and slew, besides, many persons of influence whose ambition he feared. He had

married Athaliah, the daughter of the wicked and revengeful Jezebel.

Like her mother, Athaliah was a fanatic idolatress and worshipper of Baal; she brought her images and her priests with her into the city of Jerusalem, and succeeded too well in gaining the fickle people to her side. Thus lawlessness and superstition were rampant throughout the land. The proud and warlike Edomites, who had long watched for an opportunity to shake off the hated bondage, now revolted from a rule of combined weakness and crime; they proclaimed their independence, and elected a king from among their own people—thus realising the prediction contained in Isaac's blessing :

* And by thy sword shalt thou live,

Yet shalt thou serve thy brother:-
But when thou truly desirest it,

Thou shalt break his yoke from thy neck.' Probably encouraged by the success of this rebellion, the Philistines and the Arabians took up arms against Judah; they advanced unopposed through the southern districts of the kingdom, and reaching Jerusalem, they broke into the palace, plundered it of its treasures, and carried away Joram's wives and children, leaving behind only his youngest son Ahaziah. Even some towns of Judea herself, as Libnah, succeeded in withdrawing from the king's feeble government. Joram died of a fearful illness, and was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal sepulchre, and without the funeral honours that the people had accorded to his father.

135. AHAZIAH AND INTERREGNUM (884–877).

[2 Kings VIII. 24-IX. 29 ; 2 Chron. XXII. 9-XXIII. 21.] Ahaziah, the youngest son of Joram, and the only one who had escaped captivity, and who now succeeded him

K K

upon the throne, was entirely swayed by his mother Athaliah, who was the evil genius of his reign, and who in every way fostered the growth of idolatry.

Ahaziah allied himself with his uncle Jehoram, the king of Israel, in the warfare which he carried on at Ramoth Gilead against Hazael, king of Syria. Wounded during the siege, he left the camp and repaired to Jezreel, where he was joined by Jehoram. From that capital the two kings witnessed the approach of the impetuous Jehu, who had by Elisha been anointed king of Israel (p. 477): Jehoram, who set out to meet Jehu, was pierced by him with an arrow; Ahaziah in the first panic fled northwards and hid himself in the neighbouring country, but he was overtaken at Megiddo and brought before Jehu, who mercilessly ordered him to be killed, yet allowed his body to be taken to Jerusalem, where he was buried in the grave of his ancestors.

In her royal palace, Athaliah heard the tidings of her son's murder; goaded on by frenzy and vindictiveness, she resolved to exterminate all the members of the reigning house of Judah, and almost succeeded in her mad design; indeed she believed that she had succeeded completely. She now ruled supreme over the southern kingdom, which sighed under the yoke of her relentless tyranny.

But the royal line of David was not extinct: one feeble child of Ahaziah, Joash, then only a year old, had been saved from the general massacre by the care and vigilance of his aunt Jehosheba, a sister of the king, and wife of the High-priest Jehoiada. For six years Joash was kept hidden in the house of his anxious relatives. In the beginning of the seventh year, the High-priest determined to wrest the throne by a bold stroke from the heathen queen, and to secure it for the young scion of Judah. It was a daring, but by no means a hopeless scheme. In

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