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spite of the great progress which idolatry had made during the preceding reigns, and of the very large number of priests and prophets of Baal who infested Jerusalem, there were still many of the people who remained true to the pure worship of the One God, and who longed to avenge
the blood of the house of David. In the same city stood the Temple of the Lord and the house of Baal; in the one Jehoiada sacrificed and prayed, in the other the priest Mattan invoked the images of his deities. Athaliah had not attempted to forbid the worship of the Lord; indeed she found she could not destroy the authority of the Temple; and thus it became possible for the conspiracy, planned in secrecy and with prudence, to be carried out. The Levites were, by request of Jehoiada, assembled in Jerusalem from all parts of Judah ; to those servants of the Lord was added an army of warriors whose loyalty and obedience could be relied upon. Sabbath morning, as if to celebrate the usual worship, a vast congregation might have been seen pouring into the Temple. This concourse of people was divided into separate bands; one portion guarded the doors of the holy place, another kept watch at the outer gates, a third was stationed round the porch of the palace, whilst a number of armed Levites formed the bodyguard of the young Joash. The commanders and captains were armed with the shields and spears of king David. When all was ready and well prepared, Jehoiada brought the child into the Temple, placed the royal crown upon his head, and handed over to him the laws of the empire. He was instantly greeted with the cry of "God save the king ! That cry was taken up by the guards stationed at the gates, and ringing forth through the air, it startled and amazed the unsuspecting queen. She boldly hastened forth from her palace, and looking into the Court of the Temple, beheld the crowned child standing on the elevated
place reserved for the king, and surrounded by an enthusiastic multitude shouting forth their vows of allegiance with the blasts of the trumpets. Then she felt that the day of retribution had come; she rent her clothes, exclaiming, Treason! treason !' She might have fallen a victim to the popular fury, had not Jehoiada, fearful of sacrilege in the Temple, exclaimed, "Take her away beyond the lines, and whoso follows her, let him be slain by the sword-slay her not in the House of the Lord!' The warriors drew her forth from the Temple, and hurried her along between the hosts of armed men, till they came to the gates of the palace, where they slew her—the last remnant of the wicked house of Omri. Then the people rushed upon the temple of Baal, tore down the altars, broke the idols, and killed the chief priest Mattan. And now Jehoiada, no less distinguished by wisdom than patriotism, solemnly concluded a double covenant; on the one hand between God and the people of Judah 'that it might be the people of the Lord,' and on the other hand, between the king and the people; by the one he secured a theocratic, by the other a constitutional rule; and he thus established institutions fitted both for a holy and a free nation. Then Joash proceeded to Mount Zion, and entered the palace of his royal ancestors.
136. JOASH (877—838).
[2 Kings XI. XII; 2 CHRON. XXIV.]
Being a mere child only seven years old when he came to the throne, Joash remained for many years longer under the guidance of the High-priest Jehoiada, who instructed and advised him, and firmly implanted in his mind the truths of the Mosaic faith. Yet though all other forms of strange worship were abolished, the service
on the high places, which had evidently taken deep root, was carried on as before. The king's special care was directed towards the maintenance of the Temple and its service. The holy edifice had during the last two unhappy reigns fallen into sad decay; its very walls were seriously injured by neglect, and it was despoiled of its gold and silver vessels, which had either been seized by foreign invaders, or been paid to them as tribute money. Joash ordered a large chest to be placed on the right side of the brazen Altar, into which the people were invited to put their offerings. This appeal was responded to with enthusiasm; the chest was soon filled with money; and the workmen commenced their labour, and carried it on with vigour. New vessels and implements of gold and silver were made, and once more the Temple was restored to its former magnificence.
Jehoiada, the High-priest, died a hundred and thirty years old, and Joash was left without a faithful friend and counsellor. This proved a great misfortune to the country; for the king, weak and easily led, listened to the seductive advice of the young nobles of Judah, and abandoned the pure worship of God for the service of Baal. Prophets arose who warned and threatened, but their words were unheeded; both king and people defied the punishment which they knew must inevitably follow upon their idolatry. Prominent among the prophetic monitors was Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada ; again and again he raised his voice to denounce the idolaters; he stood boldly before the people in the Temple, and exclaimed: “Thus says God, Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you. The people, enraged at this reproof, and still more instigated by the ungrateful king himself, stoned the prophet to death in the gates of the Temple, and desecrated the holy place
by wanton bloodshed. Zachariah exclaimed with his dying breath, “The Lord will look upon it and requite it!'
At the end of that same year the retribution came. Hazael, king of Syria, invaded Canaan; he advanced unopposed as far as Gath and took it; he next marched with a comparatively small army into Judea, where he killed many of the nobles and chiefs of the people; then he turned to Jerusalem, and was about to enter the town, when Joash, anxious to induce him to retreat, sent him an immense tribute of gold and silver taken from the Temple and the palace. The unhappy king fell dangerously ill; and while tortured by pain and remorse, he was cruelly murdered by his own servants Josabar and Josabad. He was buried in the city of Jerusalem, but not in the royal sepulchre; and he was succeeded by
137. AMAZIAH (838–811).
[2 KINGS XIV. 1—20; 2 CHRON. XXV.]
Amaziah's first care was to strengthen his position, for he was well aware that he would have to encounter the hostility of all the friends of his father's assassins. When he felt his authority sufficiently established, impelled by justice and filial duty, he slew the wicked murderers, but the children of the murderers he slew not; according to that which is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.'
The Edomites had since Joram's time maintained their independence. Amaziah, desirous to weaken, and, if possible, to reconquer them, undertook an expedition into their territory; he defeated them in a great battle, killed 10,000 of their men, advanced to their capital Sela, and
took it, after which he changed its name into Joktheel. Elated by this decided victory, he aspired to the greater glory of subduing the kingdom of Israel. He despatched a messenger to Joash with the defiant words, Come, let us look one another in the face!' The king of Israel returned this proud, allegorical reply, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife; and there ran along the wild beasts that are in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle. Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, therefore thy heart is lifted up; enjoy the glory of this, and remain at home: for why shouldst thou interfere to thy misfortune, that thou shouldst fall, even thou and Judah with thee?' But Amaziah would not listen. So the two kings met in battle at Beth-shemesh, a city of Judah. Amaziah was defeated and his army routed; then Joash advanced upon Jerusalem, the walls of which he destroyed to a considerable extent. The capital was plundered by the victorious king, who returned to Samaria rich with spoil, and taking with him many hostages. During the later years of his reign, Amaziah abandoned the worship of God and turned to idolatry. The priests, incensed at this desertion, made a conspiracy against his life. He was informed of the danger, and escaped to Lachish; but he was pursued, seized, and mercilessly slain. His body was brought to Jerusalem and interred in the tomb of his ancestors. He was succeeded by his son.
138. UZZIAH OR AZARIAH (811—759).
[2 Kings XIV. 21, 22; XV. 1–7; 2 Chron. XXVI.]
Uzziah was sixteen years old when he commenced his long and happy reign. Hebrew historians dwelt upon it with pride and delight. The young king, following the guidance of the prophets, was a true and faithful wor