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the revival, of local sanctuaries to rival the sacredness probably degenerated. From looking on the image as of Jerusalem. Nor was the breach of Divine law a mere symbol it would come to attach to it a local apparently a serious one. The worship at Dan and presence of the Deity and an intrinsic sacredness ; Bethel was not the bloody and sensual worship of false and so would lead on, perhaps to a veiled polytheism, gods, but the worship of the Lord Jehovah under the certainly to a superstitious and carnal conception of form of a visible emblem, meant to be a substitute for the Godhead. the ark and the overshadowing cherubim. It might (29) Bethel and Dan, chosen as the frontier have been plausibly urged that, to wean Israel from towns of the kingdom, had, however, associations of all temptation to the abominations which Solomon had their own, which lent themselves naturally to Jerointroduced, it was necessary to give their faith the boam's design. Bethel-preserving in its name the visible support of these great local sanctuaries, and the memory of Jacob's vision, and of his consecration of lesser “ high places” which would naturally follow. the place as a sanctuary (Gen. xxviii. 19; xxxv. 14, 15)But the occasion was the critical moment of choice had been (see Judg. xx. 18, 26, 31 ; xxi. 2; 1 Sam. vii. between a worldly policy—“ doing evil that good might 16) a place of religious assembly, and, possibly, of come ”—and the higher and more arduous path of occasional sojourn of the Ark. At Dan, it is not simple faith in God's promise, and obedience to the unlikely that the use of the local sanctuary, set up at command designed to protect the purity and spirituality the conquest of the city by the Danites, still lingered; of His worship. The step, once taken, was never re- and from the notice in Judg. xviii. 30, that the traced. Eminently successful in its immediate object posterity of Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, were of making the separation irreparable, it purchased suc- priests till “the day of the captivity of the land,” it cess at the price, first, of destruction of all religious seems as if these priests of this old worship became unity in Israel, and next, of a natural corruption, naturally the appointed ministers of the new. opening the door at once to idolatry, and hereafter to (30) Even unto Dan.-It has been thought that the grosser apostasy, against which it professed to there is here a corruption of the text, and that words guard. It needed the faith of David—as shown, for referring to Bethel have fallen out. But there is no example, in the patient acquiescence in the prohibition sign of such variation in the LXX. (which only adds, of the erection of a Temple to be the spiritual glory of in some MSS., “ and deserted the house of the Lord ") his kingdom—to secure the promise of “a sure house, or other versions. The reason of the mention of Dan as for David.” That promise was now forfeited for only is probably that there the old sanctuary remained,
and the priesthood was ready: hence, in this case, “ the
people went to worship” at once. The verses which (28) Calves of gold.-The choice of this symbol of follow describe the erection of a temple and the the Divine Nature-turning, as the Psalmist says with creation of a priesthood at Bethel, necessary before the indignant scorn, " the glory of God into the similitude inauguration of the new worship at what naturally of a calf that eateth hay” (Ps. cvi. 20)-was probably became the more prominent and magnificent sanctuary. due to a combination of causes. First, the very
This temple is called a “house of high places," partly repetition of Aaron's words (Exod. xxxii. 8) indicates perhaps from its actual position, partly to connect it that it was a revival of that ancient idolatry in the with the use of “the high places” condemned in the wilderness. Probably, like it, it was suggested by the Law. Indeed, as we have no notice of any time spent animal worship of Egypt, with which Jeroboam had in building it, it is possible that some old “ high place” been recently familiar, and which (as is well known) was restored for the purpose. varied from mere symbolism to gross creature worship: (31, 32) of the lowest of the people. This is Next, the bull, as the emblem of Ephraim, would universally recognised as a mistranslation, though a naturally become a religious cognisance of the new natural one, of the original, “ the ends of the people.” kingdom. Lastly, there is some reason to believe that The sepse is from the whole mass of the people,” the figure of the cherubim was that of winged bulls, without care for Levitical descent—the Levites having and the form of the ox was undoubtedly used in the (see 2 Chron. xi. 13, 14) generally returned into the Temple, as for example, under the brazen sea. It has kingdom of Judah on the establishment of this idolatry. been thought that the “calves” were reproductions of It is hardly likely that the king would have lacked the sacred cherubim,-made, however, symbols, not of persons of the higher orders for his new priesthood. the natural powers obeying the Divine word, but of It is said that this was done “ at Bethel,” probably the Deity itself.
because at Dan an unauthorised Levitical priesthood It is, of course, to be understood that this idolatry, was (as has been said) forthcoming. against which the prohibition of many sanctuaries was (32) In the eighth month, on the fifteenth meant to guard, was a breach, not of the First Com- day of the month ...-The “ feast that was in mandment, but of the Second—that making of “a Judah," to which this is said to be like, is clearly similitude” of the true God, so emphatically forbidden the Feast of Tabernacles, on the fifteenth day of the again and again in the Law. (See, for example, Dent. seventh month. The fixing of Jeroboam's festival of iv. 15—18.) Like all such veneration of images, it dedication for the Temple at Bethel to this special day
The Prophecy against
I. KINGS, XIII.
the Altar at Bethel.
the priests of the high places which he 10r, went up to the said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; had made. (33) So he offered upon the
Behold, a child shall be born unto the altar which he had made in Beth-el the
house of David, Josiah by name; and fifteenth day of the eighth month, even
upon thee shall he offer the priests of in the month which he had devised of
the high places that burn incense upon his own heart; and ordained a feast '2 Heb., to burn in thee, and men's bones shall be burnt unto the children of Israel: and he
upon thee. (3) And he gave a sign the offered upon the altar, and burnt
same day, saying, This is the sign which incense.
the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the
altar shall be rent, and the ashes that CHAPTER XIII. - (1) And, behold,
are upon it shall be poured out. there came a man of God out of Judah
(4) And it came to pass, when king by the word of the LORD unto Beth-el :
Jeroboam heard the saying of the man and Jeroboam stood by the altar 3 to
of God, which had cried against the burn incense. (2) And he cried against
altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his the altar in the word of the LORD, and
hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold
3 Or, to offer.
@ Kings 23. 17.
is characteristic. It at once challenged likeness to the Lord came to me,” and “the Spirit of the Lord was the Feast of Tabernacles, which was (see chap. viii. 2) upon me,” enabling, or forcing, to declare it. The the occasion of Solomon's dedication at Jerusalem, and original phrase here implies both. The prophet came yet took liberty to alter the date, and fix it in the clothed in the inspiration of the word put into his month “ which he had devised of his own heart,” thus mouth. assuming the right to set aside the letter of the old law, (2) Thus saith the Lord. This is one of those while professing still to observe the worship of Jehovah. rather unfrequent prophecies found in Holy Scrip
Offered-or (see margin) went up-upon the ture, which, not content to foreshadow the future in altar.-The expression seems to imply that he ven. general outline, descend to striking particularity of tured on a still greater innovation by taking on himself detail. It has been indeed suggested that the words both functions of the priestly office—to offer sacrifice “ Josiah by name are a marginal gloss which has and (see verse 33) to burn incense. This is not, indeed, crept into the text, or the insertion of the chronicler necessarily implied; for (see chap. viii. 63) the sacri. writing after the event, and not a part of the original ficer is often said to offer, when he evidently does so only prophetic utterance. The latter supposition is in itself through the priests. But Jeroboam had set aside the not unlikely. But the mention of the name in prepeculiar sanctity of the Levitical priesthood already; and diction is exemplified in the well-known reference to so was very naturally prepared to crown this process by Cyrus in Isa. xliv. 28; and in this instance, as perhaps acting as head of the unauthorised priesthood which he also in that, the name is significant (for Josiah means had created. Perhaps he had witnessed the exclusive "one healed” or “helped by Jehovah”), and is not, prominence of Solomon at the great dedication festival, therefore, a mere artificial detail. The particularity and desired to imitate and outdo it.
of prediction, which is on all hands recognised as ex(33) So he offered upon the altar.-The repeti. ceptional, will be credible or incredible to us, according tion of this verse is accounted for by its belonging to the view which we take of the nature of prophetic properly in sense to the next chapter, opening the story prediction. If we resolve it into the intuitive sagacity of the mission of the “man of God from Judah.” The of an inspired mind forecasting the future, because it idea of the verse would be best conveyed by rendering sees more clearly than ordinary minds the germs of the verbs of this verse in the imperfect tense : So that future in the present, the particularity must seem Jeroboam was offering,” &c.
incredible. If, on the other hand, we believe it to be
the supernatural gift of a power to enter, in some XIII.
measure, into “the mind of God,” in whose foreIn this history, as in that of Elijah and Elisha, the knowledge all the future is already seen and ordained, compiler clearly draws from prophetic traditions or
then it will be to us simply unusual, but in no sense records. Here, accordingly, as there, the character of
incredible, that from time to time foreknowledge of the narrative changes, and becomes full of graphic
details, as well as generalities, should be granted. It vividness and spiritual significance. In 2 Chron. ix. 29
is beyond controversy that the latter view is the one we read of “the visions of Iddo the seer against Jero
put forward in Holy Scripture, both in the Old Testaboam the son of Nebat.” It is natural to conjecture
ment and in the New. Prophecy is, indeed, something that from these this record is drawn.
higher and greater than supernatural prediction; but
it claims to include such prediction, both as a test of (1) A man of God out of Judah.—Josephus calls mission from God, and as a necessary part of its him Jadon (Iddo); but from 2 Chron. xiii. 22 it appears revelation of the dispensations of God. On the fulfilthat Iddo was the chronicler of the reign of Abijah, ment of this prediction, see 2 Kings xxiii. 15—20. and must, therefore, have lived till near the close of (3, 4) The sign. - Both the signs, like most miJeroboam's reign. Probably the tradition came from a raculons signs, shadow forth plainly the thing signi. mistaken interpretation of the “visions of Iddo against fied. The sign, announced to secure credence to the Jeroboam."
prediction, is itself a visible type of what that preBy the word of the Lord.-A weak rendering diction foretold, in the shattering of the altar and the of the original, “ in the word of the Lord.” The con- scattering of the ashes of the burnt-offering. The sign stantly recurring prophetic phrases are, " the
word of actually given includes, besides this, the sudden wither
Jeroboam's Hand withers.
I. KINGS, XIII.
The Prophet is tempted.
on him. And his hand, which he put
no bread, nor drink water, nor turn forth against him, dried up, so that he
again by the same way that thou could not pull it in again to him. (5) The
camest. (10) So he went another way, altar also was rent, and the ashes poured
and returned not by the way that he out from the altar, according to the
came to Beth-el. sign which the man of God had given
(11) Now there dwelt an old prophet in by the word of the LORD. (6) And the
Beth-el; and his sons came and told king answered and said unto the man
him all the works that the man of God of God, Intreat now the face of the
had done that day in Beth-el : the words LORD thy God, and pray for me, that
which he had spoken unto the king, them my hand may be restored me again.
they told also to their father. (12) And And the man of God besought Ithe 1 Het the face of their father said unto them, What way LORD, and the king's hand was restored
went he ? For his sons had seen what him again, and became as it was before.
way the man of God went, which came (7) And the king said unto the man of
from Judah. (13) And he said unto his God, Come home with me, and refresh
sons, Saddle me the ass. So they sadthyself, and I will give thee a reward.
dled him the ass : and he rode thereon, (8) And the man of God said unto the
(14) and went after the man of God, and king, If thou wilt give me half thine
found him sitting under an oak: and he house, I will not goin with thee,
said unto him, Art thou the man of God neither will I eat bread nor drink water
that camest from Judah? And he said, in this place: (9) for so was it charged
(15) Then he said unto him, Come me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat
home with me, and eat bread. (16) And
ing of the king's hand, stretched out in defiance of (9) Nor turn again ...-The significance of this the prophet-an equally plain symbol of the miserable command is less obvious. It may have meant that he failure of his strength and policy, when opposed to the should not suffer the way of his return (which would Law and the judgment of God. It should be noted clearly not be the obvious way) to be known, but should that the withdrawal of this last sign of wrath, on the vanish swiftly, like the messenger of Elisha to Jehu submission of the king and the prayer of the prophet, (2 Kings ix. 3, 10), when his work was done. If so, his was apparently designed to give Jeroboam one more neglect of the spirit of the command was the first step opportunity of repentance. The last verses of the in the way of his destruction. chapter (verses 33, 34) seem to imply that, but for the (11) An old prophet in Beth-el.—The narrative interposition of the old prophet of 'Bethel, he might clearly implies-and, indeed, part of its most striking still have taken that opportunity.
instructiveness depends on this, that this old prophet (7) Come home with me .-The invitation may was not a mere pretender to prophetic inspiration, nor have been in part the mark of some impression made on an apostate from the worship of Jehovah. Like Balaam, the king, and an impulse of gratitude for the restoration he united true prophetic gifts with a low worldli. of his withered hand. Such was the request of Naaman ness of temper, capable on occasion of base subterfuge to Elisha (2 Kings_v. 15), though even this was em- and deceit. * Such union of elements, which should be phatically refused. But it still savours of astute policy utterly discordant, is only too characteristic of man's in Jeroboam : for the acceptance of hospitality and self-contradictory nature. He had thrown in his lot reward would in the eyes of the people imply a con. with Jeroboam's policy, which did not want plausible donation of the idolatrous worship, which might well grounds of defence : in spite of this adhesion, he destroy or extenuate the impression made by the desired to continue still a prophet of the Lord, and to prophet's prediction. It indicates also—what ex- support the king's action by prophetic influence. It perience of such men as “ the old prophet” would have has been noticed that, after the maintenance of the produced - a low idea of prophetic character and idolatry of Beth-el, even the true prophets did not break mission, not unlike that which is shown in Balak's
off their ministry to the kingdom of Israel, and that, treatment of Balaam. That such conceptions are per- indeed, they never appeared in open hostility to that fectly compatible with a certain belief in the reality of kingdom, till the introduction of Baal worship. But a supernatural power in the prophet-although they, of their case is altogether different from that of the old course, derogate from its true sacredness—the monstrous prophet. He deliberately supports the idolatry, and request of Simon Magus (in Acts viü. 19) shows with that by the worst of falsehoods- -a falsehood in the the most startling clearness. It was evidently to pro- name of God. They rebuke the sin (see chap. xiv. 9), vide against these things—as fatal to the effective- but do not forsake their ministry to the sinner. ness of the prophet's mission—that the prohibition (14) An oak.-Properly, the oak, or terebinth ; supof verse 9 was given; nor could its general purpose posed to be known in that comparatively treeless have been easily misunderstood, either by the king or country, like the oak at Shechem (Gen. xxxv. 4, 8; by the prophet himself. It is a curious coincidence Josh. xxiv. 26; Judg. ix. 6), the oak at Ophrah (Judg. that in his refusal he uses words strangely like the vi. 11), and the palm-tree of Deborah (Judg. iv. 5). reluctant refusal of Balak's offer by Balaam (Num. This expression is an evident mark of the antiqnity of xxii. 18). The very strength of the language is the document from which the history is taken. It has suspicious.
been suggested that the narrative implies a needless The disobedient Prophet
I. KINGS, XIII.
is slain by a Lion.
1 Heb., a word
he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: (17) for lit was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. (18) He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. (19) So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.
(20) And it came to pass, as they sat 2 Heb., broken. at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back: (21) and he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God com- 3 Heb., broken. manded thee, (22) but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.
(23) And it came to pass, after he had
eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. (24) And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
(25) And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase : and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. (26) And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath 2 torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him. (27) And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him. (28) And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor 3 torn the ass. (29) And the prophet took
the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back : and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. (30) And he laid his carcase in his
loitering of the prophet of Judah on the way. Taken that the voice of worldly wisdom first beguiles the serby itself, it would not necessarily convey this ; but in vants of God to disobedience by false glosses on their relation to the temper indicated in the whole story, duty to Him, and then proclaims unsparingly their sin thing may be not improbable.
and its just punishment. (18) An angel spake unto me.-The lie was gross, (24) À lion.-The lion is noticed in the Old Testaand ought to have been obvious to one who had received ment not unfrequently, especially in Southern Palesa plain command, and must have known that “ God tine: at Timnath (Judges xiv. 5); near Bethlehem was not a man that He should lie, or the son of man (1 Sam. xvii. 34); at Kabzeel, in Judah (2 Sam. xxiii. that He should repent.” It was believed, no doubt, 20); near Aphek (1 Kings xx. 36); in the thickets because it chimed in with some secret reluctance to and forests of the Jordan valley (Jer. iv. 7, v. 6), &c. obey, and, by obedience, to give up all reward and The lion of Palestine is probably of the variety still conhospitality. Hence the belief was a self-deceit, and, as stantly found in the neighbourhood of Babylon; and the such, culpable. It is inexplicable that the condemna- prevalence of lions is shown by the occurrence of such tion which it drew down should have been thought names as Lebaoth, or Bethlebaoth, “ the house of lions” strange by any who understands human nature, and (see Josh. xv. 32), and by the many names for the lion knows the self-deceiving colour which our wish gives used in Scripture, as, for example, in Job iv. 10, 11. to our thought. (See the famous Sermon of Bishop Now that the forests have disappeared from Palestine Butler on “ Self-deceit.")
the lions have disappeared with them. (20) The word of the Lord came.-It is, per- (26) He said, It is the man of God.-The old haps, the most terrible feature in the history that the prophet did not know how his prediction was to be ful. Divine sentence is spoken-no doubt, as in the case of filled, but recognised at once its supernatural fulfil. Balaam, unwillingly—through the very lips which by ment. There is in his words a characteristic reticence falsehood had lured the prophet of Judah from the as to his own share in the work, in respect both of right path, and at the very table of treacherous hospi. the deceit and the prediction of judgment, perhaps intality. Josephus, with his perverse tendency to explaindicating something of the strange mixture of remorse away all that seems startling, misses this point entirely, and unscrupulous policy which comes out in his later and assigns the revelation to the prophet of Judah action. himself. Striking as this incident is, it is perhaps a (30—32) Thèy mourned.-The mourning of the ola symbol of a general law constantly exemplifying itself, prophet, and the burial of the body in his own sepulchre, His Burial.
I. KINGS, XIV.
Abijah falls sick.
2 Heb., filled his
BC. cir. 974.
a ch. 11. 31.
own grave; and they mourned over | Hel: returned, (2) And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, him, saying, Alas, my brother! (31) And
I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that it came to pass, after he had buried
thou be not known to be the wife of him, that he spake to his sons, saying,
Jeroboam ; and get thee to Shiloh : beWhen I am dead, then bury me in the
hold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which sepulchre wherein the man of God is
told me that a I should be king over this buried; lay my bones beside his bones :
people. (3) And take 3 with thee ten (32) for the saying which he cried by the
loaves, and 4cracknels, and a 5 cruse of word of the LORD against the altar in
honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee Beth-el, and against all the houses of
what shall become of the child. (1) And the high places which are in the cities
Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.
went to Shiloh, and came to the house (33) After this thing Jeroboam returned
of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; not from his evil way, but 'made again
for his eyes were set by reason of his of the lowest of the people priests of 3 eh.. in thine age. (5) And the Lord said unto Ahijah, the high places: whosoever would, he
Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to 2 consecrated him, and he became one of
ask a thing of thee for her son; for he the priests of the high places. (34) And
is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say this thing became sin unto the house
unto her: for it shall be, when she of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and
cometh in, that she shall feign herself to destroy it from off the face of the
to be another woman. earth.
(6) And it was so, when Ahijah heard
the sound of her feet, as she came in at CHAPTER XIV. - (1) At that time
the door, that he said, Come in, thou Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick... hva sosede for wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou
4 Or, cakes.
5 Or, bottle.
probably show some touch of remorse and personal ning of the reign of Ahab, and of the prophetic career compassion for the victim of his treacherons policy, of Elijah (chap. xvi. 29). mingled with the desire of preserving the tomb, which was to be his own last resting-place, from desecra- (1) Abijab (" whose father is Jehovah ”).—The coin. tion, when the prediction of the prophet of Judah cidence of names in the sons of Jeroboam and Reho. should be accomplished. But, even setting aside the boam is curious. Possibly it may be more than rather prosaic tradition of his attempts to remove coincidence, if (as seems likely) the births of both took any impression made on the mind of Jeroboam, which place about the same time, when Jeroboam'was in favour Josephus has preserved (Ant. viii., 9), it is evident with Solomon. that his policy was only too successful. The messenger (2) Shiloh, the regular habitation of Ahijah, is hardly of wrath had been enticed to familiar intercourse with mentioned in Scripture after the time of Eli, and the the prophet of the new idolatry, and had been publicly destruction which then seems to have fallen upon it, proclaimed as his “brother :" probably his death had probably after the great defeat by the Philistines (Jer. been used to discredit his warning. The result is seen vii. 12). It is evident that the old blind prophet still in the significant notice of verse 33:“After this thing, remained there, and exercised his prophetic office for Jeroboam returned not from his evil way.” Hence the the benefit of Israel, though he stood aloof from, and seriousness of the disobedience, which played into the denounced, the new idolatry of Bethel. This idolatry is hands of wickedness, and the startling severity of the always described as pre-eminently the “sin of Jeropenalty.
boam," who by it “made Israel to sin.” Hence, while (33) Whosoever would.-See chap. xii. 32. The in consequence of it the royal house is condemned, the emphatic tone of the words, “whosoever would, he con- people are still regarded as God's chosen people, to secrated him," possibly indicates that, in spite of all whom, even
more than to the inhabitants of the that Jeroboam and his prophet could do, there was kingdom of Judah, the prophets ministered, and to some difficulty in securing candidates for his unauthor. whom-having no longer the Temple and the conse. ised priesthood.
crated royalty of David, as perpetual witnesses for (34) And this thing.-The comment of the author God—the prophetic ministrations were of pre-eminent of the book, evidently based on the prophetic denuncia- importance. Accordingly, the wife of Jeroboam is bid. tion of Ahijah in chap. xiv. 9-11, and its subsequent den to approach the prophet disguised as a daughter of fulfilment. (See chap. xv. 25—30.)
(3) And take.-The presentation of this offering, de. XIV.
signedly simple and rustic in character, accords with the The first section of this chapter (verses 1–20) con- custom (1 Sam. ix. 7, 8) of approaching the prophet at cludes the first division of the book, which gives in con- all times with some present, however trifling. In itself siderable detail the history of the reign of Solomon, and an act simply of homage, it would easily degenerate into the revolution, political and religious, which marked the treatment of the prophetic function as a mere matthe disruption of the kingdom, The second (verses 21 ter of merchandise. (See above, chap. xiii. 7.) -31) begins the short annalistic notices which make up (4) Were set. The same word is rendered “were the next division of the book, extending to the begin. dim” in 1 Sam. iv. 15. The metaphor is evidently