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shipper of the Lord, who sent him blessings and prosperity. He trained a magnificent army chosen from the very flower of his people, and supplied them with new weapons and complete armour. Eager to test and to establish their strength, he undertook a campaign against the old enemies of his people, the Philistines. He subdued them, breaking down the walls of their chief towns, Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod, and building new cities in their land. Then he turned his forces against the Arabians, whom he also defeated and weakened. Alarmed by these victories, the Ammonites sought his friendship by presents. His fame spread widely among the surrounding nations, and reached the king of Egypt. Constantly intent upon improvement and progress, Uzziah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and fortified them with new towers. He raised forts in the desert, in order to secure a permanent command of the neighbouring countries. He even constructed and placed upon the towers of the bulwarks great engines, which by some machinery, rude enough it may be, but still remarkable for that time, could send a cloud of arrows and large stones down upon enemy beneath. The peaceful arts of husbandry were not forgotten among the pursuits of war. The king loved agriculture, and encouraged it by every means in his power. He had vine-dressers in the mountains of Carmel; his vast flocks and herds grazed upon the rich pastures of the low countries; and for the use of his herdsmen he sank many wells. For the protection of commerce, he built or improved the harbour of Elath on the Red Sea, which offered greater safety than that of Ezion-geber. Many prophets shed lustre upon his time; men like Joel, Hosea, and Amos raised their voices in warning and counsel; it was then that the great Isaiah began his noble career of public instructor; and Micah followed in his footsteps. Thus Uzziah's reign passed gloriously for himself and pros
perously for the people, until at last, in a moment of selfglorification and pride, he determined to offer up incense with his own hand on the golden altar of the Temple. As he entered the holy building, he was followed by Azariah the High-priest and many priests. They knew that his purpose was sinful, and they warned him that he could not with impunity usurp the office reserved for the anointed sons of Aaron. But their remonstrances were unheeded; Uzziah seized the censer, and was about to burn the incense, when suddenly he was afflicted by that most terrible of all scourges, leprosy. The fatal marks were imprinted on his forehead, and instantly observed by the priests. They knew that he durst not stay to pollute the House of God; he knew it himself, for he hurried out, and dwelt in seclusion, away from the palace and the city, a leper until the day of his death.
The government was at once handed over to his son Jotham, who at Uzziah's death became king of Judah.
139, JOTHAM (759–743).
[2 KINGS XV. 32–38; 2 CHRON. XXVII.]
Jotham was twenty-five years old when he succeeded to the throne. Like his father, he was obedient to the Divine Law, although he likewise suffered the high places to remain, where the people still sacrificed and burnt incense.' He added another gate to the Temple, extended the wall of the hill (Ophel), and built new fortifications in the mountains and woods of Judah. He was strong enough to defeat and to subject the Ammonites, and to exact from them a heavy tribute of silver and of corn. • So Jotham became mighty, because he went the right way before the Lord his God.'
Yet it is strange that during the reigns of two of the most virtuous kings of Judah, the people should have
been singularly corrupt and idolatrous. Again and again the voice of the prophets was lifted up to admonish and reprove, to advise and to menace. To their writings we are indebted for vivid pictures of the social condition of their times; from them we learn the lawless arrogance of the nobles and the heedless depravity of the people. Joel furnishes a magnificent description of a remarkable locust plague, and Amos and Micah make allusion to another terrible calamity, an earthquake, which became a marked epoch for several generations. But prominent even among so many great contemporaries stands Isaiah, unequalled in power and sublime impressiveness, the intrepid counsellor of kings and chiefs, the untiring teacher of the people, the terror of a venal and degraded priesthood, the messenger of bright hopes to the faithful and the penitent.
Jotham was succeeded by his son.
140. AHAZ (743—728).
[2 Kings XVI. ; 2 CHRON. XXVIII.]
Great troubles and misfortunes befell the land during the reign of this weak and idolatrous monarch. He did not what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father; but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; he even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abomination of the heathens, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel ; and he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.' The corruption of the kingdom of Judah reached an unprecedented height. Political dangers necessarily followed. The Edomites revolted and even ventured to invade Judea ; they defeated the Hebrew army and carried off many captives. The Philis
· For a full account of the life and writings of Isaiah, see vol. ii. pp. 24-78.
tines broke into the land, and succeeded in conquering some of the western districts. Pekah, the king of Israel, who had seen the rising power of Judah with envy and anxiety, made an alliance with Rezin, king of Syria. Both monarchs marched against Jerusalem; but the city, strong in its splendid fortifications, withstood the siege of the united armies. Rezin, enraged at this humiliating check, marched with his troops southwards, seized the valuable harbour town of Elath, and colonized it with Syrians. To protect himself against future dangers from his northern foes, Ahaz turned for help to Tiglath-Pileser, the powerful king of Assyria, actually calling the vulture down into the fold. His messengers went to the great monarch with presents of gold and silver taken from the Temple and his own palace. Tiglath-Pileser, too happy to obtain a hold upon Canaan, obeyed the summons with alacrity; he marched upon Damascus, besieged and took it, led the people away captives to Kir, and slew Rezin, the king of Syria. Ahaz went to Damascus to meet his deliverer. There he saw and admired a heathen altar, and he determined to place one exactly like it in the Temple of the Lord. It was accurately copied, and this new altar was put eastward before the entrance to the Holy, on the spot previously occupied by the old and hallowed brazen one, which was removed to the northern side of the Court. With a strange delight in his new altar, he ordered that all the principal sacrifices should be offered upon it. Besides, he irreverently despoiled the great laver, took it down from the brazen oxen upon which it rested, and placed it on the stone pavement.
When he died, he left the empire much weakened in extent and material • resources, and sadly degenerated in religion and morality.
141. HEZEKIAH (728–699).
[2 Kings XVIII.-XX.; 2 CHRON. XXIX.-XXXII.] Fortunately for Judah, Hezekiah was in many respects well fitted to remedy the injury which the infatuation and perverseness of his father had inflicted upon the land. Right-minded and God-fearing, he abhorred all heathen practices, and determined to reinstate the pure worship of the Lord. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. ... He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him none was like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clung to the Lord, and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments which the Lord commanded Moses.'
He wisely gave himself up to the guidance of Isaiah, who remained faithfully at his side from the commencement until the close of his reign; and he encouraged the prophets Nahum and Micah to teach the people and enforce upon them obedience and piety.
His first self-imposed task was to destroy not only the numerous idols which disgraced his kingdom, but also to cut down the groves and high places which had been spared and sanctioned even by his pious predecessors. With an unflinching hand he annihilated these last vestiges of a corrupt religion; he even broke in pieces and removed the brazen serpent of Moses, because this ancient and timehonoured relic of Israel's wanderings in the desert was regarded by the people with superstitious awe, and worshipped with incense and prayer. He renewed the services and offerings in the Temple with unusual splendour; he was anxious to celebrate the feast of Passover with a grandeur and magnificence that had not been known since the time of Solomon. To carry out this object, he post