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mention is made of Baasha, King of Israel, whose reign can only be taken up when the narrative of Asa's reign, which is in hand for the moment, is completed. Not only so, but we find occasionally the repetition of the same incidents, in almost identical words, under two reigns, where these incidents concern both kingdoms. It is to be observed, however, that the writer strives to maintain a synchronism in the history; for when he returns alternately to a new reign in the Northern or Southern Kingdom, he mentions that it was in such and such a year of the reign of a king in the sister state that so and so began to reign in the other. In the laying out of the particulars of the successive reigns there is to be observed a recurrence of set phrases which give a certain monotony to the narrative but indicate the point of view from which the history is regarded. Thus, when a king ascends the throne, it is generally stated how old he was at his accession, and how many years he reigned. In the case of the kings of Judah the name of the queen-mother is generally also given. There is then an estimate of his character in the stereotyped expression that he did that which was right' or 'did that which was evil' in the eyes of the Lord; and when the events of the reign have been succinctly narrated, the place of the king's burial is mentioned, the name of his successor is given, and a reference is made to another written document in which the rest of the acts' of the king are recorded.
Notwithstanding the rigidity of framework and the stereotyped diction, this part of the book is far from being a mere State chronicle of political events. As in the former section, so in this, the writer regards the whole as a sacred history. These brief estimates of the characters of the successive kings, expanded frequently by the mention of high places and heathen
rites, or of the good or bad example followed in the particular case, indicate that the historian is tacitly applying a standard of judgment as he proceeds, and according to that standard the whole course of the history is, in his opinion, to be estimated. Moreover, we have, at critical moments, the intervention of prophets or prophetical men in public affairs, speaking with a tone of authority which neither king nor people dared to disregard. In particular, we have in this section several whole chapters in which the prominent figures are Elijah, Elisha, and the 'sons of the prophets' who cluster round them; and the writer makes it quite plain that, from his point of view, the sayings and doings of such men are more important factors in the history than the movements of armies and the councils of kings.
V. Third Period: The Surviving Kingdom of Judah. In this style and in this vein the writer brings the history down to the time when the Northern Kingdom was brought to an end by the capture of Samaria in B.C. 722, devoting a whole chapter to the causes which led to the catastrophe, and the subsequent fate of that part of the country. The remainder of the book is devoted to the history of the surviving kingdom of Judah, the latest point to which the narrative is brought down being the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, viz., B.C. 562. This section, accordingly, embraces a period of sixty years, and extends to eight chapters. As the author is not now hampered by synchronism, his treatment of his material is more free, and there is a striking want of proportion in the different parts. At greatest length is given the account of the reign of Hezekiah, and it is to be remarked that a great part of this narrative is
also found, almost verbally, in the Book of Isaiah, chaps. xxxvi.. xxxix. The reign of Josiah is also treated at some length, with an account of the discovery of the Law Book, and the Reformation that followed. These reigns, full of import in the national history, were also nearer to the author's own time, and could be treated more fully. Moreover, as Hezekiah and Josiah are two of the 'good' kings, we can appreciate the author's sympathetic enlargement on the events of their reigns. On the other hand, though his narrative of the later reigns and of the closing days of the Jewish independence is graphic and impressive, yet we miss many valuable details which are recorded in the historical chapters of the Book of Jeremiah.
VI. Purpose and Point of View. That the writer had a distinct plan and purpose before him and occupied a distinct point of view we have already seen. And what the plan and point of view were he makes quite evident, both in the brief notes introducing or summing up the various reigns, and in the longer reviews of periods and the detailed narratives of a prophetical character which are woven into the history. Standing at the close of Israel's national independence, he will describe the whole course of history from the bloom-period of Solomon to the collapse of the State under the pressure of the Babylonian Empire ; and having noted the influences, human and Divine, which had been at work, he will exhibit for the instruction of his readers the causes of the varying fortunes of his people. Particularly, he will point out wherein consists the secret of a nation's true prosperity, and whereby a nation falls into decay. Hence the alternation of the recital of such statistical and public events as were accessible to him with the observations upon them of a didactic and practical character, and the fuller accounts of prophetical activity which are, in his view, necessary to a complete representation of the history. The main part of the Book of Judges is constructed on the same plan, and is written from the same point of view. There also the stories of the successive judges are enclosed in similar frameworks, designed to emphasise the causes of decline and rise in the nation's fortunes, and turning what might otherwise be read as a series of adventurous exploits of isolated heroes into a connected course of sacred history.
The author himself gives us what we may call his philosophy of the history in his review of the causes that brought about the downfall of the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings xvii. 7-23). In that passage he recapitulates the whole history of Israel from the time when God brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and declares their sin to have been that they 'walked in the statutes of the heathen,' building high places and setting up pillars and idol blocks 'in every high hill and under every green tree,' to which they burned incense as did the heathen before them, thus provoking the Lord to anger, till He removed them out of His sight. And this, too, had been done in spite of the warnings of prophets and seers, who had never ceased to testify against Israel, saying, 'Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.' The same fundamental principles are stated in more positive terms elsewhere. Thus, at the very opening of the history, the key-note of the whole is struck in David's parting charge to Solomon : ‘Be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: that the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel' (1 Kings ii. 2-4). So also, on the occasion of Solomon's first vision at Gibeon (1 Kings iii. 14), and of his second vision, after the completion of the building of Temple and palace (1 Kings ix. 1-9), the principle is stated almost in the same terms, with the addition, in the last passage, of the warning:
If ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them: then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house which I have hallowed for my name will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people.'
From such a point of view the whole history is regarded. We can understand now how it is that the kings of the Northern Kingdom, without exception, are condemned as doing that which is evil in the eyes of the Lord. They were successors of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.' The breaking away of the ten tribes was a departure from the promise which was given to the house of David ; and the setting up of the golden calves was conformity to the worship of the heathen. So in regard to the kings of Judah, those on whom an unfavourable sentence is passed are reprobated for the introduction or