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on them. Asa had not trusted in God, and the prophet Hanani sternly rebuked him for his want of faith, bidding him remember his deliverance before, and assuring him that God's eyes were ever ready to mark and relieve the needs of the faithful. Had he left Ben-hadad to continue in league with Baasha, he would have been allowed to gain another great victory, but by buying him off he had left a powerful enemy, who would become a scourge to Israel and Judah. Alas! Asa, elated by the apparent success of his policy, threw the prophet into prison, and in his latter years disappointed the high promise of his youth by becoming a severe and oppressive ruler, though still no idolater.

Meantime, Baasha was likewise rebuked, apparently by the son of the very prophet whom Asa was imprisoning. He had been raised up by God, but not to continue the calf-worship nor to be a cruel murderer, and so his family was to share the same doom as Jeroboam, and so it did, almost exactly. Like Jeroboam, he had a long reign-it lasted twenty-four years; then he died, leaving a feeble son, and, as he had done himself, a successful captain in the army rose against the new king while half the army was away besieging Gibbethon, and, as the king was drinking himself drunk, fell on him and made a great slaughter of all his family and friends. All that was good in Israel was drawn to Jerusalem, and anarchy and fearful wickedness prevailed.

LESSON X.
RISE OF THE HOUSE OF OMRI IN ISRAEL.

B.C. 929.-1 KINGS xvi. 15—34.

In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, wbich belonged to the Philistines.

And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king : wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp.

And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.

And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him, with fire, and died,

For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.

Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri.

But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath : so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.

In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years : six years reigned he in Tirzah.

And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.

But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.

For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.

Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria : and Ahab his son reigned in his stead.

And in the thirty and eighth year of A sa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel : and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.

And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him..

And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.

And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho : he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

COMMENT.—Seven days had sufficed to destroy the family of Baasha. When the tidings of Elah's murder reached the army that lay before Gibbethon, the soldiers chose their captain Omri as their king, and marched upon Tirzah, the royal city. When Zimri found that they had burst into the city, and that all hope was over for him, he shut himself up in the palace, set frre to it, and perished in the flames. At first, another pretender to the crown arose, named Tibni, but Omri succeeded in putting him down, and in founding the most powerful house that reigned over the ten tribes, but also the wickedest. The Israelites had thoroughly obtained their wish of having kings like the nations, for the difference between them and the heathen was growing less and less.

Since Tirzah had been burnt, Omri resolved on forming a new royal city, close to Shechem and Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, so as to be a rival to Jerusalem. He therefore bought the round, smooth hill of Shemer, and built on it a city which has been called from it Samaria, and ere long gave its name to the whole kingdom of the ten tribes. He must have been an able man, who sinned with a high hand, since he did worse than all the kings before him, and he made such an impression on the surrounding nations. that they long called all kings of Israel sons of Omri. He and his son Ahab made alliances, especially with their rich Phænician neighbours, the merchant princes; and Ahab married a princess from Zidon, the daughter of Ithobal, or Ethbaal, a king of great wealth and splendour. The women of Zidon were beautiful, able, fierce, and determined, and Jezebel brought with her the worship of the Phænician god Baal. Hitherto the calves had been used only as emblems of JEHOVAH. It was disobedient worship that was paid to them, but still it was meant for the true God. It broke the second commandment, but the first was broken by the introducing an absolute rival god in opposition to the LORD. This was the special step in wickedness made by Ahab, a weak man under the dominion of his wife. It was at this godless time that Jericho, the accursed city, was rebuilt, and the prophecy of Joshua (Book III. Lesson VII. Josh. vi. 20) was fulfilled ; for Hiel, the profane founder, lost his eldest son as he laid the foundation, and his youngest as he set up the gates.

LESSON XI.

JEHOSHAPHAT IN JUDAH.

B.C. 914.—2 CHRON. xvi. 11-14 ; xvii. 1-13.

And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.

And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.

And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.

And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.

And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel.

And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken.

And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim.*

But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.

Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance.

And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he. took away the high places and groves out of Judah.

Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes to teach in the cities of Judah.

And with them he sent Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.

And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.

And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.

Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he-goats.

* Not the Baal of Jezebel, but many gods.

And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.

And he had much business in the cities of Judah : and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem.

COMMENT.—In the end of his long reign Asa suffered from a severe disease in his feet, and again showed his want of trust in God, solely trusting to physicians, instead of also praying. He died, and was laid in an embalmed resting-place that he had prepared for himself outside the walls of Jerusalem, with a great burning of fragrant odours by way of incense.

His son Jehoshaphat was by far the best king who had reigned since the schism. He had much of the character of both David and Solomon, and was thoroughly pious and devout, as well as wise, large-hearted, and valiant. He took away all that was idola. trous-images and wooden pillars, and mountain shrines—which had sprung up in those latter days of his father's forgetfulness of God. This was a work that every good king did again and again. The truth seems to have been that the people of Judah were so fond of their forbidden high places and pillars of Ashtoreth, that after every great clearance by a zealous king they gradually restored and crept back to them. Jehoshaphat, however, deprived them of the excuse of ignorance by sending priests and Levites, carrying the Book of the Law, namely the books of Moses, to teach them throughout their cities. There was at this time a great outpouring of the Spirit of prophecy, and while great prophets were rebuking sinful Israel, many fresh psalms were added to the existing store by the descendants of Asaph, who mark them as psalms of Asaph, and also as by the “sons of Korah," the other musical Levites of the Temple.

Jehoshaphat was a great and prosperous monarch. His Judæan mountains were inhabited by a brave, industrious, happy people, cultivating to the very utmost the terraces on the mountains ; his army was always ready to be called out, and had captains of name and fame, who are recorded in the Chronicles as David's had been ; he fortified his cities, and had the Philistines and Arabs tributary to him, as well as the Edomites ; so that the glorious days of Solomon had returned, even to the shorn and diminished kingdom. What a contrast were the two kings!

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