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CHAPTER IN JEWISH HISTORY,
AN ACCOUNT, IN THE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE, OF
GLASGOW: JOHN MENZIES & CO.; LONDON: HOULSTON & SONS.
This Chapter in Jewish history extends from the revolt of the ten tribes to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. It embraces a period of about 400 years, during which the Jewish people were brought into close and frequent contact with the two great empires which then contended for the mastery of the world. It will not, therefore, occasion surprise to any one that by the recent discoveries in the valleys of the Nile and Euphrates much light has been thrown upon this portion of Old Testament history, and many interesting confirmations have been found of the accuracy of the Sacred Record.
In the Books of Kings and Chronicles the histories of the kings of Israel and Judah are so interwoven, not only with one another, but with those of the neighbouring kingdoms, that it is no easy matter for an ordinary reader to form an intelligent idea of their mutual relation and contents. In the present volume an attempt has been made to separate the two narratives, without interfering with the integrity and simplicity of the Sacred Writings. With very few exceptions the language of the Authorized Version has been re tained throughout, and, when any words have been added by way of explanation, they have been carefully marked thus). A few passages from the prophetical writings have been introduced at different places, but these have been selected because of the supplementary information they contain or the light they cast upon the state of society at the time.
In perusing the narrative which is thus presented to us, one cannot fail to be struck with its fragmentary, and, in some instances, its meagre character. Especially is this true of the history of the ten tribes, which is taken almost exclusively from the two Books of Kings. “But,” in the words of a recent commentator, the Rev. Dr. Bähr of Carlsruhe, “ we can see plainly what was the principle which guided our author in his historical writing. He does not care to give a complete account of all the facts and events of the reign of each king. The thing rather which concerned him most of all was the position each king took with regard to the Israelitish fundamental law, i.e., the Covenant, which was the soul of the entire Old Testament theocracy; and how the promises and threatenings of the law itself, or of the prophets charged with its announcements, and who spoke as the servants and ambassadors of Jehovah, became fulfilled. The heavy judgment which overtook the house of him who first openly broke the fundamental law of the entire people, and made the imageworship (so strictly forbidden in that law) the religion of the State and people—that heavy judgment, we say, was a practical historical prediction for every royal house which persisted in the sin of Jeroboam. No less than nine dynasties of the kingdom of Israel with whom this was the case perished in like manner with the house of Jeroboam, until at last the kingdom itself was destroyed, whilst the dynasty of David continued uninterruptedly in Judah.”
We shall first follow the course of the kingdom of the ten tribes which sprang into existence after the death of Solomon. This kingdom lasted upwards of 250 years, during which time it had nineteen kings belonging to nine different families. After its destruction by the Assyrians, history loses sight of the ten tribes as a distinct people; but “imagination," says Dean Milman, “has loved to follow them into remote and inaccessible regions, where it is supposed that they still await the final restoration of the twelve tribes to their native land."
The kingdom of Judah continued to maintain an independent existence for 150 years after the captivity of Israel; and its kings, whose number was exactly the same, were all lineal descendants of David. Once, indeed, on the death of Ahaziah, it seemed as though the line of succession were broken, and God's promise had failed. But God, who is faithful to his promise, continued to watch over the house of David, notwithstanding their innumerable provocations, until in the fulness of the times the great Son of David appeared, who was not only “a lamp for His anointed,” but the "light of the world,” and of wbose kingdom there shall be no end.
We cannot conceal the fact that there are certain chronological difficulties in the course of the history, which, with the information we at present possess, it is not easy to explain ; but these need not in the least affect our confidence in the authenticity of the sacred narrative, or occasion any feeling of uneasiness or anxiety concerning the accuracy of the facts. Similar difficulties exist in all ancient histories. The Chronological Table is from Kurtz' "Handbook of