« PreviousContinue »
wars. This temple, which in riches and magnificence exceeded every other building upon earth, was built after the model of the tabernacle, upon mount Moriah, an eminence of 1004. mount Sion, in seven years and a half; and, after it had been consecrated with great solemnity, the ark of the covenant, the autographs of the Holy Scriptures and the other sacred things belonging to the tabernacle, were removed into it.
"Solomon passed all the kings of the earth, in riches and wisdom." His reign was the most brilliant period of the Jewish history. He reigned over all the kings, from the river Euphrates even to the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt; yet for his peace he was beloved. Towards the close of life, however, Solomon tarnished the glory of his name, and did evil in the sight of the Lord: "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord, his God, as was the heart of David his father." It seems, indeed, as if his heart had been so far corrupted by a long series of luxurious prosperity, as to have led him to persist in the abominations of idolatry, notwithstanding the warning he had received; wherefore God de
clared that he would for this, "afflict the seed of David; but not for ever."
Solomon was allowed to possess the kingdom all the days of his life, for his father David's sake; but he was informed that God had appointed Jeroboam, his servant, to be king over ten of the tribes of Israel after his death; and he might justly fear, from the disposition of his son Rehoboam, that still greater punishment would follow. Thus were the latter days of this illustrious monarch, who reigned through a space of forty years, embittered by the prospect of calamities impending over his posterity; and by the sorrowful conviction derived from his own experience, that all "is vanity and vexation of spirit," to those who forsake the law of the Lord, and keep not the covenant of their God.
The extreme folly of Rehoboam's conduct upon his ascending the throne, induced ten of the tribes to revolt immediately; and they' chose Jeroboam for their king. Two tribes only, those of Judah and Benjamin, remained faithful to Rehoboam. Thus two kingdoms were formed; that under Jeroboam, and his successors, was called the kingdom of Israel; and that under Rehoboam, and his successors, was called the kingdom of Judah. The capital
of the latter was Jerusalem, which had been the seat of government since the eighth year of David's reign. The capital of the former was at first Shechem, then Tirza, and afterwards Samaria, the principal city of the tribe of Ephraim; whence this kingdom is also sometimes called the kingdom of Samaria, and sometimes the kingdom of Ephraim.
Jeroboam, fearing that the ten tribes, by going regularly to offer sacrifice at the temple of Jerusalem, might return to their allegiance to the house of David, set up, in opposition to the warning he had received from the prophet Ahijah, two golden calves; and erected altars at Dan and Bethel, the two extremities of his kingdom. He likewise ordered that sacrifices should be offered at those places instead of Jerusalem; and, because the priests and levites, leaving their respective cities situated within his dominions, had gone to reside in Jerusalem, he made priests from the lowest of the people. Many persons also, from every one of the ten tribes, who were desirous of worshipping God at Jerusalem, left Jeroboam, and, settling in the kingdom of Judah, added considerably to its strength.
Jeroboam was succeeded by his youngest son Nadab. After he had reigned two years he was killed by Baasha, who usurped the kingdom, and
destroyed the whole race of Jeroboam, according to Ahijah's prophecy. But the kings of Judah were all descendants of Rehoboam, and consequently of David, as God had promised him: "When thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.”
There were frequent wars between the kings of Judah and Israel, and between them and the neighbouring kings. The kings and people, both of Judah and Israel, soon fell into the grossest depravity. Their idolatry and other wickedness called down the heavy displeasure of God, in continual punishments; yet did he raise up among them, in both kingdoms, a succession of prophets, who endeavoured to recall them to obedience, by reminding them of the many and distinguished instances of Divine favour, which they had experienced; and by denouncing the fatal consequences which would inevitably follow a perseverance in sin.
Elijah and Elisha wrought miracles in attes- 746. tation of their commission to call the people to repentance, and they predicted the vengeance ready to be executed, if they continued in their sins. All these admonitions and threatenings, though enforced by the performance of miracles,
and the accomplishment of predictions, were ineffectual. Signal deliverances awaked not gratitude, nor did remarkable punishments produce contrition.
At length God suffered Tiglath Pileser, or Arbaces, king of Assyria, to carry away captive many subjects of the kingdom of Israel, who inhabited the eastern side of the river Jordan, and part of Galilee; and nineteen years after, upon repeated provocations, God permitted Shalmaneser, the son and successor of Tiglath Pileser, by the capture of Samaria, in the reign of Hoshea, to put an end to the kingdom of Israel, about 250 years after its first establishment, as a separate kingdom. So the Lord removed Israel out of his sight," as he had said by his servants the prophets; "there were none left but the tribe of Judah only."
Most of the people were carried away captive into Media; and almost all who were left were carried away about 44 years after, by Esarhaddon, the grandson of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria; but it appears that a remnant still remained in the land.
Esarhaddon sent colonies from several of his provinces, but chiefly from Cuthan, to inhabit Samaria; and these new inhabitants took the name of Samaritans, though they were fre