Obrazy na stronie

heard this, he was much distressed. He did not send to ask for the prophet: he went to him, and wept over him: “ O my father, my father!” he cried, “the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!"

Johnnie. What did he mean by saying that?

Grandfather. He quoted the words that Elisha had used when Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. By these words Jehoash meant that he looked on Elisha as the great support of the nation, and he could ill be spared at that time when the Israelites were so few and so feeble; when they had only fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen, for such at this time was the amount of their force, as I mentioned to you before. Elisha told the king to take bow and arrows, and to open the window towards the east, where the Syrians were encamped Doubtless the king was far more accustomed to the use of a bow than the prophet; besides the one was young and strongthe other old and feeble. Yet Elisha put his hands on the hands of Jehoash, to shew the king of Israel that he ought not to trust in his own strength, but look heavenward for support. When the arrow was shot from the bow, Elisha said, “The arrow of the Lord's deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria ; for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.” Then the prophet told the king to smite the arrows on the ground; thrice the king did so, and stopped. Perhaps he thought it childish, but that shewed want of faith; he looked only to the sign, and not to the thing signified. Elisha was grieved, and said that he ought to have smitten often; then would he have smitten the Syrians till he had consumed them ; now he would only smite them three times.

George. Then there would be a great deal of war in his reign ; tell us about it.

Grandfather. Indeed, George, we are not told much about it. It is said only that he beat the Syrians three times, and took out of the hands of Benhadad, king of Syria, all the cities which Hazael his father had taken from the Israelites. But there was more war in his reign : a battle was fought between Israel and Judah. But before we enter upon it, we must see what the king of Judah was doing while the Israelites were defeating the Syrians. Amaziah, son of Joash, succeeded his father as king of Judah. The first act of his reign was an act of justice; he put to death the murderers of his father. Then he assembled all the people of Judah to go to war against the Edomites; and, not satisfied with his own people, he hired of the Israelites one hundred thousand men for one hundred talents of silver.

George. How much is that in our money ?

Grandfather. About fifty thousand pounds sterling. A prophet came to the king and told him that it was not right to let the Israelites go with him, for God was not with them. Amaziah said, “ But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel ?” The man of God replied, “ The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.” The king did as the prophet desired, and he was successful in his expedition. He smote the children of Seir in the valley of Salt.

Johnnie. Was that the name of the valley ?

Grandfather. Yes; it was so called either from the salt springs that were in it, or from its salt mines. They took ten thousand of the Edomites prisoners, and put them to death, by throwing them from the top of the rock on which their chief city was built. Selah was the name of the city, which, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies rock, supposed to be the same with Petra, capital of Arabia Petræa.

Marianne. Threw them from the top of the rock, grandfather ? That was cruel. I never heard of people being put to death in that way.

George. It was not cruel, for it would not be a very painful death, and it was very common. The Greeks did it, and the Romans cast malefactors from the Tarpeian rock.

Grandfather. And other nations besides have practised it, but we don't find that way of putting to death common among the Jews. Why they fixed on it at this time we are not told. Possibly it may have been in retaliation. The Edomites may at a former time have done it to them.

Johnnie. But, grandfather, did Amaziah give all the silver to the Israelites that he had promised them ?

Grandfather. He did ; but they took great offence at not being suffered to accompany him to the war. They fell upon the cities of Judah, destroyed many of them, and took much spoil, to make up for what they had expected to get if they had gone against Edom.

George. The king would punish them for that when he came back ?

Grandfather. He was not able to punish any one, for he had brought punishment on himself. He was so foolish as to take the gods of the Edomites home and worship them. The Lord was angry, and sent a prophet to rebuke him. The king was angry with the prophet for daring to do so, and threatened him. The prophet warned him of the evil that would come upon him. It soon came. The king entered into a sinful, because an unnecessary war. He sent a challenge to Jehoash, king of Israel. Jehoash returned an answer, comparing himself to a cedar, and Amaziah to a thistle. “Abide now at home,” he said to the king of Judah ; " why shouldst thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldst fall, even thou and Judah with thee ?”

George. How did he know who would win ?

Grandfather. He knew who was to blame for the war; and his words teach us that if we are the beginners or promoters of strife, we meddle to our hurt. Amaziah persisted ; the armies met. Josephus tells us that before the commencement of the battle the armies of Judah were seized with such terror that they were unable to strike a blow. As they were driven hither and thither by their fears, Amaziah was left alone, and was taken

prisoner. Jehoash threatened to put him to death unless he would persuade the people of Jerusalem to open their gates, and permit him and his army to enter the city. Neither the king nor the people dared to refuse what Jehoash asked. So he overthrew a part of the wall, four hundred cubits in length: through the breach he entered in his triumphal chariot, his prisoner Amaziah marching beside. Nor was this all : Jehoash took away the treasures that were in the house of God, and all the gold and silver that was in the king's palace.

George. I could hardly have believed that the people of Judah, after being victorious against the Edomites, would have turned away without even trying to fight.

Grandfather. The Scripture only tells us that Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and that they fled every man to his tent.

Marianne. And is there nothing said in the Bible about breaking down the wall of Jerusalem, and taking away the treasures ?

Grandfather. Yes, it gives the same account of these events as the Jewish historian does.

Johnnie. Did Amaziah fight any more ? Grandfather. We are not told that he did, but he lived for a good many years afterwards. A conspiracy was formed against him by two of his servants. He fled to Lachish to save his life, but they followed and killed him there. Such were the evils that came upon Amaziah, because he forsook the God of his fathers, and worshipped the strange gods of the Edomites.

« PoprzedniaDalej »