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Outlines Of Jewish History -Rev. Francis E. Gigot D.D.

I.

THE FIRST KINGS OF JUDA:

              A. Animosity against Israel:

              1. Vain attempts to re-establish the power of Juda over the ten tribes.

 

                            2. The foreign invasions during this period.

 

                            3. Religious life of Juda.

 

             

 

              B. Alliance with Israel:

              1. Josaphat: His reforms; alliance with Achab; his wars.

 

                            2. Athalia:

              Her influence over Joram and Ochozias.

 

                                          Her personal rule.

 

                            3. Joas: His accession; his reign before and after the death of Joiada.

 

 

 

II.

FROM AMAZIAS TO EZECHIAS:

              1. Kings Previous to Achaz:

              Internal condition of Juda.

 

                            Outward relations.

 

             

 

              2. Achas:

              Depths reached by his idolatry and iniquity: Isaias.

 

                            Various Invasions; The aid of Assyria secured.

 

             

 

              3. Ezechias: His Reforms; Invasions of Sennacherib (Nineveh monuments).

 

 

 

III.

MANASSES AND JOSIAS:

              1. Manasses:

              Idolatry—fearful persecution.

              History of Judith.

 

                            A captive in Babylon—his restoration.

 

             

 

              2. Josias:

              Religious Reforms: Discovery of the Book of the Law—Jeremias.

 

                            The Invasion of Nechao.

 

 

 

IV.

THE FALL OF JUDA:

              1. Political Parties among the Jews at the Beginning of this Period.

 

              2. The Invasions of Nabuchodonosor and the Last Kings of Juda.

 

              3. Destruction of Jerusalem. Subsequent Condition of the Country.

 

 

 

CHRONOLOGY OF THE THE ROYAL PERIOD.

 

§ 1. The First Kings of Juda

1. Animosity against Israel. The sudden formation of the northern kingdom upon the death of Solomon was naturally considered by Roboam his son, and by the two following kings of Juda, Abiam and Asa, as a revolt against lawful authority. This explains how for sixty long years these princes cherished a great animosity against Israel, and attempted repeatedly to re-establish the power of Juda over the ten tribes (3 Kings 12:19, 21; 2 Paralip. 13:5). It was for this purpose that Roboam gathered a numerous army from Juda and Benjamin, and that although these large forces disbanded by order of Jehovah, the King of Juda kept up an armed hostility against Jeroboam “all the time of his life” (3 Kings 12:21–24; 14:30; 15:6). For this same purpose, Abiam, the son and successor of Roboam, collected a large number of troops, with which he defeated Jeroboam in a pitched battle and secured a temporary accession of territory to Juda (2 Paralip. 13:2–20). It was apparently for the same purpose that Asa, the third successor of Roboam, not only warred against Israel (4 Kings 15:16), but also gave so powerful an impetus to the migration of religious Israelites to Jerusalem that King Baasa of Israel began the fortifications of Rama, on his southern frontier, with the view of checking a movement which tended immediately towards religious, and ultimately towards political reunion (2 Paralip. 15:9; 16:1).

What contributed most to foster the animosity of Juda against Israel were the two foreign invasions, which the intrigues of Jeroboam and his second successor, Baasa, most likely brought about against the southern kingdom. The first invasion was carried out by Sesac, King of Egypt, and it proved most disastrous for Juda, whose capital was captured and temple plundered. Of this memorable event we have an independent confirmation in a bas-relief which was found in 1828, by Champollion, on the south side of the great temple of Karnak, at Thebes. There we see Sesac (Sheshang, in Egyptian) represented together with a large number of prisoners of war, among whom one with Jewish features is designated as “Iutah Malek,” which means either Kingdom of Juda or King of Juda (VIGOUROUX, Bible et Découvertes Modernes). The second invasion, due most likely to the intrigues of Baasa, was carried out by “Zara, the Ethiopian,” who is identified as Osarken I, son and successor of Sesac, and king of both Egypt and Ethiopia. Differently from the first, this second invasion ended with a very brilliant victory of Asa, King of Juda (3 Kings 14:25, sq.; 2 Paralip. 14:9, sq.).

It is then easy to understand that the kings of Juda were greatly provoked against the Israelite monarchs whom they knew to be the underhand cause of these formidable invasions, and that when Asa found himself hard pressed by Baasa he did not hesitate to call upon the foreign help of Benadad, the ruler of Syria, against the King of Israel, as we read in 3 Kings 15:17, sq.

During this period of animosity of Juda against Israel, the religious life of the southern kingdom rapidly developed at first on the lines started by Solomon. Idolatry and its sensual rites spread to a fearful extent, so that false gods had soon “altars and statues and groves upon every high hill and under every green tree, and that the most infamous rites of the Chanaanites were revived (3 Kings 14:22–24). Indeed, the king himself forsaking the law of Jehovah, gave the example, and all the people trod in his footsteps (2 Paralip. 12:1).

God, however, watched over this select portion of the Jewish nation, and did not allow Juda to sink down quietly and long into such depths of religious corruption. By means of external punishments and still more effectively by the efforts of His prophets, He gradually prepared a reaction against idolatry. Things went on, it is true, pretty much the same under Abiam as they had under Roboam. But Abiam ruled only three years, and at the accession of Asa, the reaction was already so strong that at the very outset of his reign, the new king felt free to deprive Maacha, his grandmother and the prime-mover of the idolatrous worship in Juda, of all authority and influence at court (3 Kings 15:11, sq.; 2 Paralip. 14:2, sq.). A little later he went further still, and did almost entirely away with idolatrous rites, altars, statues, etc. (2 Paralip. 15:1–16); yet even then he allowed the high places where Jehovah was worshipped to subsist, because the nation at large was not yet prepared for a complete centralization of Divine worship in Jerusalem (2 Paralip. 15:17; cfr. also 20:33).

2. Alliance with Israel. Asa was succeeded on the throne by Josaphat, whose religious policy was not only modelled on that of his father, but actually more thorough-going against all idolatrous worship, for he did his best to destroy whatever remains of it still existed in the kingdom of Juda (2 Paralip. 17:3; 3 Kings 22:42–47). Furthermore, he soon understood that to render these religious reforms permanent, it behooved him to remedy the extreme religious ignorance which prevailed in many parts of the land. He therefore appointed a sort of roving commission especially charged to impart to the people a more precise knowledge of the religion of Jehovah and of the law of Moses (2 Paralip. 17:7, sq.).

Other important reforms were carried out by this wise prince, such as the reorganization of justice, the strengthening of his kingdom by the erection of walled cities and the maintenance of a powerful army. The result of them all was that under him, Juda was feared by all its neighbors, and that in some cases, friendly overtures were made either to accept a position of dependence on the Jewish king, or to secure his favor by valuable presents (2 Paralip. 17:10, sq.; 19).

The great mistake of Josaphat was that he joined affinity with Achab, King of Israel, who most willingly gave his daughter, Athalia, in marriage to Joram, the eldest son of the King of Juda. This political alliance had, in time, the most disastrous consequences, although its immediate results do not seem to have interfered considerably with the prosperity of Josaphat’s kingdom (2 Paralip. 17:2, sq.). It is true that this alliance betrayed him into an expedition against Syria from which he narrowly escaped with his life (4 Kings 23; 2 Paralip. 18), and that this unsuccessful campaign itself soon brought about a confederacy of Ammonites, Moabites, and others, who invaded the territory of Juda in countless numbers, but the final result was a great victory, which more than made up for the loss of prestige suffered in the war against Syria (2 Paralip. 20). Later on, he was also involved together with Joram, the second son of Achab, in an expedition against Moab; his arms were also crowned with success, and if he withdrew from the siege of a Moabite city into his own land, it was for a reason the precise nature of which does not appear from the Biblical narrative (4 Kings 2).

The successor of Josaphat on the throne of Juda was his son Joram, whose reign was marked by many disasters which are recorded in 4 Kings 8:20, 22; 2 Paralip. 21:16, 17, and are ascribed to Divine judgments upon the people for their irreligion (4 Kings 8:18, sq., 2 Paralip. 21:10). This unfaithfulness of the nation to Jehovah so soon after the vigorous reforms effected by Asa and Josaphat was the result of the influence which Athalia, the daughter of Jezabel, exercised in favor of Baal and Astarthe worship during the reign of Joram her husband. Her influence was still greater during the reign of her son Ochozias, and on the murder of the latter by Jehu, she rose up, killed all the royal family of the house of Joram (4 Kings 11:1; 2 Paralip. 22:10) with the exception, however, of Joas, concealed by his nurse, and established her personal rule over the land.

The main efforts of this first queen of God’s people during the six years of her tyrannical reign were centred in the establishment and spread of the infamous worship which her mother had implanted in the northern kingdom. She cleverly abstained from all violent measures, such as suppressing altogether the ancient religion, shutting up the ancient temple or hindering its rites, and persecuting the worshippers of Jehovah. But short of these extreme methods, she left nothing untried to make of her religion the religion of the State. “In Jerusalem itself a rival fane rose up, dedicated to the Phenician god, adorned with altars and images (4 Kings 11:18) and continually enriched with spoils from the neighboring temple of Jehovah, nay, in part built of stones, transferred by the queen’s orders, from the old sanctuary to the new (2 Paralip. 24:7). The temple of Solomon was left to decay and ruin; that of Baal constantly increased in size and magnificence. Its services were conducted by a high priest of Baal, the counterpart of the Aaronic high priest, who still maintained, albeit with shorn splendor, the rites of the Levitical worship in the old edifice” (RAWLINSON, Kings of Israel and Juda, p. 115).

It was therefore high time that an effective reaction should set in, as it actually did in the seventh year of Athalia’s reign. Under the auspices of Joiada, the high priest of Jehovah, the young Joas, who had escaped from the massacre of the royal family of Joram, was proclaimed king and Athalia was put to death, together with Mathan the high priest of Baal (4 Kings 11:4–21; 2 Paralip. 23). Thus at the tender age of seven, Joas began a reign of forty years, the first part of which was marked by a strong revival of the worship of Jehovah, and by a careful restoration of the temple of Solomon and its sacred furniture (4 Kings 11:17–12:16; 2 Paralip. 24:1–14). Unfortunately, the second part of the reign of Joas, which began soon after the death of Joiada, was very unlike to the first. To the good influence of the priesthood in the person of Joiada which had hitherto prevailed near Joas, succeeded the perverse influence of the heads of the Jewish aristocracy who by means of flattery secured the toleration of idolatrous worship in Juda. Once under this accursed influence, Joas refused to listen to the solemn warnings of priests and prophets, and even went so far as to order the death of the son of his benefactor Joiada, called Zacharias, who had predicted national calamities in punishment of national apostasy. The blood of Zacharias shed in the Temple court was. soon avenged, first by the defeats which were inflicted on the King of Juda by the Syrians, and next, by the murder of Joas by his own officers (4 Kings 12:17–21; 2 Paralip. 24:17–27).

§ 2. From Amasias to Ezechias

1. Kings previous to Achaz. Between Joas and Achaz, three kings—Amasias, Azarias (called Ozias in Paralip.), and Joatham—occupied the throne of Juda, and during their reigns, the internal condition of the kingdom was generally prosperous. This is particularly true of the condition of Juda during the long reign of Azarias, a prince equally remarkable as an administrator, an agriculturalist and an engineer, and whose material improvements were, to a large extent, continued by his son, Joatham. It seems also that on the whole, the worship of Jehovah fared pretty well under these three monarchs. We see, however, that the first was in his later days betrayed into idolatry, that the second, also in his later days, dared to intrude into strictly priestly functions, and that the third had not the courage of working at the reformation of the sad prevailing condition of morals and religion, which is described in the opening chapter of Isaias, and which paved the way for the open idolatry of Achaz.

In their outward relations, the immediate predecessors of Achaz were always successful (with the sole exception of the disgraceful defeat of Amazias by Joas, King of Israel); even under Azarias, the greatest of these kings, the southern kingdom arose to its former military renown, and had again a name terrible to the surrounding nations (4 Kings 14, 15; 2 Paralip. 25–27).

2. Achaz (4 Kings 16; 2 Paralip. 28; Isai. 7–12). The son and successor of Joatham was Achaz, who, during his short rule of sixteen years, proved himself a prince far worse than any of his predecessors. Early in his reign he delighted in the abominable practices of Phenician and Ammonite worship, and we read that he went even so far as to “make his son pass through the fire” in honor of Moloch. A little later, in Damascus, he apostatized publicly from the national faith and, in consequence, on his return to Juda he desecrated the Temple of Jehovah in various ways, shut up its great doors and discontinued the offering of its sacrifices. He, moreover, erected “in all the corners of Jerusalem and in all the cities of Juda” altars whereon to burn incense to other gods. Gold and silver statues glittered throughout the country, and soothsayers come from the East, wizards, etc., were freely consulted by its inhabitants (Isai. 2:6, 8, 20; 8:19).

The great opponent for this frightful idolatry was Isaias, whose prophetic voice was never willingly heard by Achaz, although from a mere human standpoint, past history and clear insight into the future should have convinced the king and his heathen counsellors that the policy of adherence to the national faith he advocated was the only means to secure the prosperity and independence of the Jewish State. Achaz was bent on his idolatrous course, and all the warnings, offering of signs, and threats of the prophet availed nothing. No wonder then that Jehovah delivered the king into the hands of his enemies, and that the wretched prince was unable to withstand the combined efforts of Israel and Syria, the invasions of the Edomites into the southern district of Juda, and those of the Philistines on the west and southwest. It is also at this critical juncture, that, hard pressed in every direction and unwilling to have recourse to Jehovah, Achaz called on the help of the powerful king of Assyria. Teglathphalasar delivered, it is true, the Jewish monarch from his various enemies, but it was at an enormous cost. Juda became tributary to Assyria, as recorded in the Bible and confirmed by the Nimrud inscription of Teglathphalasar (Records of the Past, new series, vol. vi, p. 126), and Achaz appeared in Damascus before the Assyrian monarch as his vassal. (For the Messianic bearing of Isaias 7–12, see CORLUY, Spicilegium Dogmatico-Biblicum, vol. i; VIGOUROUX, Manuel Biblique, vol ii, § 924, sq.; CHARLES ELLIOTT, Old Testament Prophecy, etc.)

3. Ezechias [727–698 B. C.] (4 Kings 18–20; 2 Paralip. 29–32; Isai. 36–39). The very depths of impiety reached by Achaz, together with the condition of political degradation to which this worthless prince reduced the kingdom of Juda, brought about a strong reaction against both idolatrous worship and vassalage to Assyria. The religious reforms of Ezechias, his son and successor, were at once thorough and far-reaching. Not only he opened the doors of the Temple of Jehovah and restored to its purity and order Divine worship, but he also did away with all things contrary to the law, such as images, groves, high places, even the brazen serpent formerly erected by Moses and which had become an object of superstitious reverence, and actually made an attempt at securing the conversion of “the remnant of Israel that had escaped the hand of the King of the Assyrians” (2 Paralip. 30).

To these religious changes, Ezechias added several material improvements, and then, perhaps confident in the help of Egypt, threw off the Assyrian yoke. Sennacherib reigned at the time in Assyria, and as soon as his own condition of affairs in Babylonia allowed it, he turned his arms towards Western Asia. In his first invasion of Palestine, of which we have his own account (cfr. Records of the Past, new series, vol. vi. p. 90, sq.), he took the fenced cities of Juda, blockaded Jerusalem and laid siege before Lachis, a town of the maritime plain and now identified with Tel El Hesy. Then it was that Ezechias sent to Lachis promising submission. Sennacherib accepted it under the condition of an enormous tribute and withdrew to Nineveh (4 Kings 18:13–16).

Soon, however, he was made aware of proceedings between Egypt and Juda against his authority and therefore invaded Palestine for the second time, with an immense army (RAWLINSON, Kings of Israel and Juda, p. 192). Whilst besieging Lachis, he sent three of his officers to frighten Jerusalem into surrender. Neither their summons, nor the threatening letter sent a little later to Ezechias by the Assyrian monarch, who after having taken Lachis was now besieging the neighboring town of Lobna, could shake the confidence of the Jewish king in the help of Jehovah, for Isaias had promised deliverance to him in the certain and precise following terms: “the King of the Assyrians shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow into it, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a trench about it. By the way he came, he shall return, and into this city he shall not come, saith Jehovah.”

The fulfilment of this prediction is well known. The angel of Jehovah destroyed during the night the bulk of the Assyrian army, and the rest fled with Sennacherib towards Nineveh. Of this wonderful deliverance there is of course no record in the Assyrian annals, but for a striking confirmation of the Biblical narrative we may appeal to the Egyptian account of this miracle preserved by Herodotus (History, book ii. chapter 141), as he learned it from the priests of Egypt, that is, disfigured in order that they might ascribe it to the power of their own gods (4 Kings 18:17–19).

After this glorious deliverance of Juda, only a few events are recorded of the reign of Ezechias. These are (1) his recovery from a severe illness together with the promise of fifteen years more of life; (2) the visit he received from the Babylonian king Merodach Baladan, to whose envoys he showed all his riches with great ostentation, whereupon Isaias predicted the Captivity of Babylon; (3) the birth of a long-desired son, to whom he gave the name of Manasses.

§ 3. Manasses and Josias

1. Manasses [698–644 B. C.] (4 Kings 21; 2 Paralip. 33). Soon after the death of Ezechias the heathenizing party in Juda started a powerful reaction in favor of idolatry, and when Manasses took the reins of government he set his heart on undoing the good his father had done. For this purpose, he not only re-established all the forms of idolatrous worship which Achaz had formerly started in the kingdom, and like him made his sons pass through fire, surrounded himself with soothsayers, etc.; but he went even so far as to set a pillar of Astarthe in the House of Jehovah. His impiety was only equalled by his tyranny, and the blood of those who refused to join him in his idolatry ran like water through the streets of Jerusalem. A Jewish tradition—perhaps alluded to in Heb. 11:37—reckons Isaias among the victims of the tyrant and represents him as sawn asunder. In vain did the prophets of the time predict that the future fate of Jerusalem would be like that of Samaria; threats and remonstrances were useless, and actual punishment could alone bring back the king to his senses, and prevent Juda from becoming an altogether heathen nation. Risings of the Philistines, Moabites and Ammonites were speedily followed by an Assyrian invasion.

The captains of Asarhaddon, the son and successor of Sennacherib and who had lately added Babylonia to the Assyrian empire, invaded Juda, besieged Jerusalem, took Manasses captive and carried him off to Babylon. There, Manasses repented sincerely, and the King of Babylon allowed him to return to Jerusalem as a tributary king. In so acting, Asarhaddon wished most likely that this city naturally so strong and moreover situated so near the Egyptian frontier should be held by one whom he could trust implicitly in the event of the struggle with Egypt which he was contemplating. Thus restored, Manasses set himself to work to undo the mischief he had wrought, but this was no easy task and his son Amon [643–642 B. C.], for two years, imitated after him, his first and worst practices.

From a comparison between the text of the book of Judith, as it has come down to us, with Assyrian inscriptions recently discovered, it seems probable that the condition of things described in this inspired book corresponds best with the time of the captivity of Manasses, and that the expedition of Holophernes it records took place under Assurbanipal, the son of Asarhaddon. (As to the historical character of the book of Judith, see PELT, vol. ii. p. 283, sq.; VIGOUROUX, Bible et Découvertes Modernes.)

2. Josias [641–610 B. C.] (4 Kings 22–23:30; 2 Paralip. 34, 35). Fortunately for Juda, Josias, the son and successor of Amon proved a king most sincerely and constantly devoted to the worship of the true God. When sixteen years old, the young prince started himself an energetic reform not only in Jerusalem, but also through Juda and indeed through the territory which had formed the kingdom of Israel. Not satisfied with doing away with every trace of idolatry, he also destroyed the high places where Jehovah worship had been so far practised, and started on a positive re-establishment of the pure national religion. A special commission was empowered to restore the Temple and to levy contributions for this purpose. In the course of the repairs, Helcias, the high priest, found a roll which contained the Book of the Law whereby is not meant most likely the whole Pentateuch known as “the Law” in later times, but only Deuteronomy or a part thereof (cfr. CHARLES ROBERT, Réponse à “The Encyclical and the English and American Catholics,” p. 52, sq.; DRIVER, International Critical Commentary on Deuteronomy). The Book of the Law, newly discovered, was read to the king and the threats it contained against idolatry, and the national punishments it foretold against national apostasy struck Josias with terror; hence his care to have the whole nation renew the solemn covenant with the God of Israel, and to celebrate the Pasch with a ritual accuracy never surpassed since the establishment of the monarchy.

It was early in the reign of Josias that the ever-celebrated patriot and prophet Jeremias received his prophetical call from Jehovah. From his writings we learn that unfortunately the conversion of many in Juda was more apparent than sincere (Jerem. 4:14; 6:19, 20; 7:8–10, etc.).

The virtues of Josias could only delay the fate of a kingdom naturally doomed to destruction between the two mighty rival empires of Egypt and Chaldæa. As a faithful vassal of the latter, Josias opposed Nechao, when this Egyptian king attempted to profit by the stir and conflict then prevailing on the banks of the Euphrates and in the adjacent countries. The Jewish monarch was defeated at Mageddo and mortally wounded, and Nechao succeeded in establishing his authority over the territory west of the Euphrates.

§ 4. The Fall of Juda

1. Political Parties among the Jews at the Beginning of this Period. No one lamented more sorrowfully the demise of Josias than the prophet Jeremias (4 Kings 23:24, 25), and this indeed most justly. To him the death of the king was the death of a personal friend; it was also the deathblow of the policy he was long still to advocate of a faithful alliance with Chaldæa as the only means to preserve the Jewish kingdom from utter destruction. Despite the protestations of the prophet and of his friends who formed still, it is true, a powerful Assyrian party in Juda, the kings who succeeded to Josias, together with their noblemen, the false prophets and the bulk of the nation ever regarded Egypt as their only chance of salvation, provoked repeatedly the invasion of the Holy Land by the Chaldeans, and thus hastened blindly the ruin of the Jewish polity so plainly and so often foretold by Jeremias (cfr. art. Jeremiah, in SMITH, Bible Dictionary).

2. The Invasions of Nabuchodonosor and the Last Kings of Juda (4 Kings 23:31–24; 2 Paralip. 36). For some unknown reason—probably because he did not owe his elevation to the King of Egypt—Joachaz, the son and successor of Josias, was dethroned by Nechao after three months of rule, and replaced on the throne of Juda by the eldest son of Josias, called Eliacim, but who, on his accession, took the name of Joakim [610–599 B. C.]. It was under this wicked successor of Josias, that Nabuchodonosor, then acting as lieutenant of his father Nabopolassar, King of Babylon, on his victorious march to Egypt through the territory west of the Euphrates, invaded Juda for the first time, and bound the Jewish king in fetters to carry him to Babylon (cfr. 2 Paralip. 36:6, in the Hebrew). We learn however from 4 Kings 24:1, that Joakim was allowed to stay in Jerusalem as a tributary king, and that for three years he showed himself a faithful vassal, after which he threw off the yoke. The time chosen by Joakim to vindicate his freedom was well chosen, for Nabuchodonosor was apparently long unable to come in person to re-establish his authority; nevertheless, the Babylonian troops overran the territory of Juda and reduced it to the lowest degree of misery. Joachim, the son and successor of Joakim, reigned but about three months, for the Babylonian king having at length invaded the country, took the Holy City and carried the Jewish king to Babylon together with a very large number of captives belonging to the leading classes. Matthanias [599–588 B. C.] (who exchanged his name for that of Sedecias), the uncle of the captive king, was now set on the throne of Juda, but notwithstanding the advice of Jeremias, he courted an alliance with Egypt and, in consequence, soon saw his States overrun by the Babylonian armies. Under him, perhaps, more than even under his predecessors, the Jews were addicted to the grossest idolatry, so that the measure of iniquity being at length filled up, “the wrath of Jehovah arose against His people and there was no remedy,” for he delivered them into the hands of Nabuchodonosor, who invaded the country for the last time.

3. Destruction of Jerusalem. Subsequent Condition of the Country. Whilst the army of the Babylonian king ravaged the Holy Land far and wide, he himself with his best troops, laid siege to Jerusalem. The attack was skilfully and vigorously conducted, and resistance already began to appear useless when suddenly the news spread of the departure of the Babylonian king to meet an Egyptian army which was advancing to the rescue of the Jewish capital. The news proved true, and many thought that the siege was at an end. Not so, however, with Jeremias who predicted the speedy return of Nebuchodonosor. The prediction was fulfilled, and after a siege of nearly eighteen months, during which all the horrors of famine and pestilence preyed on the unfortunate city (cfr. the description of these horrors in the Lamentations of Jeremias), the Babylonian army penetrated into Jerusalem by the north side.

Whilst the victors pillaged the Holy City and spared neither age nor sex, Sedecias with his family and a few of his troops effected his escape towards Jericho, but he was overtaken and led bound before the Babylonian monarch, who had his eyes put out after they had seen the death of his attendants and of his sons.

Then followed the destruction of Jerusalem: the Temple of Jehovah, the palace of the king and the houses of the wealthy were set on fire; the walls of the city were thrown down, the sacred vessels plundered; the chief priests put to death, and most of the inhabitants carried into captivity (588 B. C.).

After this frightful disaster, Godolias, a friend of Jeremias, was appointed governor of the miserable Jewish remnant which was allowed to stay in the land. Jerusalem being now in ruins, Godolias fixed his residence at Masphath, but he was soon treacherously murdered by Ismahel, whereupon the little remnant of the Jews, fearing the vengeance of Nabuchodonosor, fled into Egypt whither Jeremias accompanied them (Jeremias 37–44).

Chronology of the Royal Period

Perhaps the reader has been surprised to find that no dates have been supplied in those parts of the preceding chapters which relate the history of the monarchy before the capture of Samaria. Of course, it would have been easy to adopt the chronology commonly received for that period of Jewish history. From this, however, we refrained because recent investigations have proved that the chronological data supplied by the books of Kings before the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, not only are at variance with the dates furnished by Assyro-Babylonian chronology which are held as fully ascertained, but also do not agree with the chronological data which are met with in the parallel narratives of the books of Paralipomenon. The first event, the date of which is perfectly established by synchronous facts, is the capture of Samaria, in 721 B. C. The reign of Saul extended approximately from 1050 to 1010 B. C.; that of David, from 1010 B. C. to 970 B. C., and the disruption of Solomon’s kingdom occurred about 930 B. C. (cfr. PELT, Histoire de l’Ancien Testament, vol. ii, p. 126, sq.).








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