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the purposed revolt, secured all the land of Moab; ravaged that of Israel with fire and sword; and led his victorious forces to the very gates of Samaria. The king had fortified himself so well in the city, that near three years elapsed before the besiegers could effect their purpose, but at length the ill-fated metropolis was taken, and rased to the ground; the most shocking cruelties were exercised upon the inhabitants without distinction of age or sex; and the unfortunate king, together with his surviving subjects, were led into captivity by their merciless conquerors.

B. C. 721.

Such was the punishment which the Israelites brought upon themselves by disobedience to their God; and such was the sad catastrophe of their kingdom, after it had existed two hundred and fifty four years from its foundation by Jeroboam.

185

CHAP. VIII.

The Kingdom of Judah, from the accession of Rehoboam to its final Catastrophe under Zedekiah.

975.

BC. REHOBOAM finding it impracticable to reduce the revolted tribes to obedience, applied himself to the fortification of his greatest cities, and built several considerable places in Judah and Benjamin; all of which he secured with strong garrisons, and stored with arms and ammunition.

By this method he began to acquire a considerable reputation; and the unexpected return of the Levites and many others who abhorred the idolatrous practices of Jeroboam, tended greatly to augment his political importance: but he had scarcely reigned three years, before he forsook the service of God, and degenerated into a worse idolater than his revolted rival. In consequence of this shameful apostacy, Shishak, king of Egypt, was permitted to reduce several of his strong places, and to chace his wealthiest subjects into the metropolis, which soon fell a prey to the hostile army. The conqueror, having stripped the temple and palaces of all their most valuable ornaments, retired triumphantly to his own dominions, and left the son of Solomon to bewail the awful consequence of his impiety. Rehoboam reigned about twelve years after this disaster; and, at the expiration of that time, left the crown to his son Abijam.

B. C.

The new monarch had no sooner assumed

958. the insignia of royalty, than he resolved to lead his forces against the king of Israel. Accordingly, the two armies met upon the borders of Ephraim; and Abijam upbraided his competitor with the baseness of his extraction, and with his baser actions; observing, that he had unjustly deprived his master's son of the largest share of his kingdom, and had endeavoured to establish himself in his ill-acquired dignity, by debauching the people from the worship of their Creator. Jeroboam, instead of acknowledging the justice of these remarks, caused a detachment to wheel round and surprise his enemy in the rear, whilst he himself should attack him in front. This base artifice threw the men of Judah into great confusion; but they at length recovered themselves, and gained a victory, which proved peculiarly unfortunate to Jeroboam.

On the demise of Abijam, the sceptre devolved to Asa, a prince of so religious a disposition, that he spent the first ten years of his reign in purging the kingdomfrom all idolatrous statues and ceremonies; and even deposed his own mother, for causing a grove to be consecrated to the worship of some heathen deity. He also made some admirable regulations in his army; erected, several fortresses in various parts of the land; and adorned the temple with a quantity of gold and silver vessels, in lieu of those which had been carried off by the Egyptians.

B. C.

About fourteen years after his accession, his 941. dominions were suddenly invaded by Zerah, the Ethiopian, with a numerous army of Cushites; but victory declared on the side of justice; and the invaders were defeated with prodigious slaughter. A consider

able portion of the booty was devoted to the service of God; and the king had the satisfaction of seeing multi-, tudes of discontented Israelites flock to his metropolis, with offers of future allegiance. Some time after this victory, Baasha formed a confederacy with the king of Syria, against Judah: but Asa contrived to dissolve this alliance, and prevailed on Benhadad, by magnificent presents, to turn his arms against the king of Israel. Toward the close of his reign, Asa appears to have been rendered fretful and impatient, by a violent distemper in his feet; and to have exercised an unjust severity on several of his subjects. However, he died in peace, and his body was interred with the most magnificent solemnity.

.B. C.

Jehoshaphat succeeded his father, in the thirty914. fifth year of his age, and gave the most convincing proofs of his zeal for the true God, by pulling down all the groves and idols which had escaped the vigilance of his predecessor; by causing a certain number of priests and Levites to instruct all his subjects in the law of Moses; and by patronizing the worship of his Creator on every occasion. Nor was he less attentive to the political safety and happiness of his people: for he fortified all the frontier towns, and recent conquests; maintained an army which consisted of a million valiant men; and took such wise precautions for the support of his dignity, that the Arabians and Philistines voluntarily became his tributaries; and most of the adjacent nations sought his friendship and alliance. Indeed, the greatest part of his reign was devoted to the administration of justice, the promotion of trade, and the abolition of idolatry. He is blamed, however, by the sacred historian, for not totally destroying the high places, and for suffer

ing his son Jehoram to marry Athaliah, the ungodly daughter of Ahab.

We have already noticed the visit which this prince paid to the king of Israel, and the result of the battle at Ramoth Gilead: it is, therefore, only necessary to add, that Jehoshaphat narrowly escaped the vengeance of the Syrians; and was reproved by a prophet, in the severest terms, for having consented to assist on such an occasion. However, he soon retrieved his error, by a more strict application to the promotion of religion and the welfare of his people: and his pious zeal was so acceptable to God, that when Judah was suddenly invaded by a prodigious multitude of Moabites, Ammonites, and other heathenish nations, Divine Providence appeared in so signal a manner on his behalf, that the invaders, being seized with a kind of phrenzy, perished by their own swords, and their sumptuous spoils were carried in procession to Jerusalem; while the air resounded with the harmony of musical instruments and the appropriate hymns of the Levites. Shortly after this event, Jehoshaphat breathed out his spirit into the hands of his Maker, and left the government to his

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B. C.

Jehoram had no sooner ascended the throne, 889. than he began to introduce all the abominable superstitions which his pious father had so carefully abrogated; thus bringing upon his own family all the curses. that had been pronounced against that of his father-inlaw; and thus exposing a whole nation to the heavy wrath of God. However, his enormities did long remain unpunished, for the Edomites and the inhabitantsof Libnah soon shook off his yoke; the Philistines and Arabians invaded his dominions, and despoiled his me

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