« PreviousContinue »
guised himself, and in the valley of Megiddo drew up his army to fight the Egyptian; who was not unprepared to receive him. The two armies engaged, and the action grew so hot, that the Egyptian archers, discovering Josiah, notwithstanding his disguise, plied that quarter where he fought so warmly with their arrows, that, at last, one proved the messenger of death to him. Josiah finding himself wounded, bid his charioteer drive him out of the field, who putting him into another chariot, brought him to Jerusalem, where he soon died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his fathers. The death of this excellent prince was lamented by all his subjects; but by none so much as the prophet Jeremiah; who, upon that occasion, composed the greatest part of that mournful song, which is called "The Lamentations of Jeremiah," wherein he foretold the miseries that would fall upon the people after the death of Josiah. And in so great a veneration was the memory of this good king held, that upon all mournful occasions afterwards, the singing men and women were obliged to commemorate the untimely death of good king Josiah: which lasted an hundred years after, even to the prophet Zechariah's time. Though this Monarch had endeavoured by his own pious example, by wholesome advice, pressing instances, threatenings and force, to reclaim his people; yet the Lord, who well knew the obstinacy of their nature, before Josiah's death, declared,† he would remove Judah out of his sight, as he had done Israel, (who was now in captivity) and would reject the city of Jerusalem, which he had formerly chosen, and the temple in which he said, that his name should remain.
Zechariah. Who remembered it, by comparing the mourning which he then prophesied should in after times be in Jerusalem, to the mourning of Hadadrimmon, in the valley of Megiddo, which was the place where Josiah received his mortal wound.
+ Declared. See 2 Kings xxiii. 26, 27. From hence it is, that the prophets of that time complaíned so grievously of the people, and denounced the VOL. II.
The prophet Nahum, the Elkeshite, (so called in the title of his prophecy, either because he was of the town of Elkesha, in the tribe of Judah, or that it was the name of his family) is supposed to have lived and prophesied about this time. It is certain he prophesied after the captivity of the ten tribes, and before that of Judah; which last he foretold in his first chapter, and the destruction of Nineveh in those that follow. Tremellius and Junius refer him to the latter part of Josiah's reign. Which seems the more likely, as being nearer to the destruction of Nineveh, and the Assyrian monarchy, to which Nahum's prophecy more particularly related. Nor did this prophet only prophesy against Nineveh, but the prophet Zephaniah also, who began to prophesy in the days of Josiah king of Judah, Zeph. i. 1, and prophesied directly against Assyria in general, and of the destruction of Nineveh in particular, ch. ii. v. 13, &c.
And now we are speaking of the time in which some of the prophets lived, it may not be amiss to inform the reader of the reason why their writings are misplaced: for in the Bible they are not arranged according to the order of time in which they delivered them. This is supposed to have happened through the negligence of the priests in those days, who had the charge of registering and keeping them. For the manner was, when any prophet had written a prophecy, he caused it to be fixed to the gate of the temple, where it remained for certain days, that all might read and take notice of it. And after it had stood there the appointed time, the priests took it into the temple to record it in a book; but for want of due care to enter, them in course, as they were written,
judgments of the Lord against them; ́even to the destruction of their city, and their own captivity: as did Jeremiah in the fourth, fifth, sixth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth chapters of this prophecy, and the prophet Zephaniah in his. With whom may be joined the prophet Habakkuk, who is supposed to have lived in the latter part of Josiah's reign, or under his son's, a little before their captivity by the Chaldeans, which he foretold, Hab. i. from v. 5 to 12.
they left them in that disorderly manner, in which we now have them. But besides that, it must be considered, that several of the prophets, especially Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, wrote in very troublesome times; Ezekiel and Daniel, when in captivity at Babylon; and Jeremiah, when all things both in Church and state were in the greatest confusion and disorder at Jerusalem; and the first copy of his book was destroyed by king Jehoiakim, Jer. xxxvi. 23, so that it is not to be wondered at, that they are so misplaced, but rather ought thankfully to be acknowledged, that we have them at all. The account of time also, and computation of years, wherein some great events took place, and are mentioned by the prophets, are so differently related, that it is difficult, and, sometimes, scarcely possible to reduce them to a certainty.
Upon the death of Josiah, his son Jehoahaz was proclaimed and anointed king; but his reign was short, lasting but three months: for the king of Egypt improving his victory at Megiddo, deposed Jehoahaz, and set up Eliakim, Jehoahaz's elder brother, changing his name to Jehoiakim. Then making the crown of Judah tributary to Egypt, he obliged the country to pay him a hundred talents of silver, and one of gold; which money Jehoiakim raised by a general tax upon the land, rating every man according to his ability.*
Jehoahaz being deposed, the king of Egypt loaded him with irons, and left him at Riblah, a city of Syria, while he pursued his expedition against the Assyrians,† and afterwards, at his return he took him along with him to Egypt, where he soon died. And now Jehoiakim
* Ability. See 2 Kings xxiii. 35. It is very probable the prophet Jeremiah had regard to this taxation, when in his mournful complaint he said of Jerusalem, “She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!" Lam. i. 1.
† Assyrian, or rather Babylonian, as we have observed in our note on the word Babylon in a preceding page.
Died. This the prophet Jeremiah foretold, ch. xxii. v. 10, 11, 12, where he bids the king and people of Judah, "not weep for the dead, (meaning Josiah)
being placed on the throne of Judah by Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, instead of taking warning by the manifest judgments which God had inflicted on his predecessors, imitates them in the worst of their wicked actions; notwithstanding which, though he deserved immediate punishment, God in mercy, to reclaim him and his people, sent his servant, the prophet Jeremiah, to admonish and exhort them to repentance, and assure them, that if they persisted in their wicked way of living, he would make the temple like the house of Shiloh,* and the city of Jerusalem a curset to all nations. This so enraged the priests and false prophets, that they caused the people to seize Jeremiah, and brought him before the princes of Judah in the temple, who were so far from pronouncing the sentence of death against him, as the priests and false prophets had done already, that they unanimously acquitted him, saying, "This man is not worthy of "death, for he hath spoken to us in the name of the "Lord our God." And to confirm this their judgment, they urged as a precedent, the prophet Micah, who predicted the destruction of Jerusalem before king Hezekiah with impunity. To balance which, they urged a later precedent of one Urijah, a prophet of the Lord, who for prophesying against the city and whole land was by king Jehoiakim put to death. But it pleased God to raise up for Jeremiah a powerful friend in the person of Ahikam, one of the king's counsellors, who protected him from the malice of the priests, and rage of the peo
but for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more, nor see his native country." For, said he, "Thus saith the Lord concerning Shallum (which was the right name of Jehoahaz, Jer. xxii. 11.) the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, and who went forth out of this place, he shall not return hither any more."
*Shilob. The place where the ark had abode more than three hundred years; yet he had given it up to utter destruction.
+ Curse. Or, rather a pattern for cursing.
Seize. See Jeremiah xxvi. 8.
ple. He being thus secured by this good man Ahikam, went on more boldly in the work of the Lord.
Soon after Jehoiakim was made king, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon and Assyria, to revenge the late expedition of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt against Carchemish, having gathered a large army, attacked the king of Egypt there, and routed him, taking from him all the country that lies between the river Euphrates * and the Nile. After which he made an easy conquest of Judah; for he besieged Jerusalem, and took it, and carried the king and part of the vessels of the temple to Babylon. Where, after he had continued a prisoner for some time, he restored † him to his crown, on condition that he should become tributary to him. In the fourth year of his reign, Jeremiah delivered another message from the Lord to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem; in which he positively assured them that since no admonitions and warnings would affect them, the Lord would bring Nebuchadnezzar his servant, ‡ with all the northern nations that were subject to him, against the land of Judah, and the city of Jerusalem, and would make them
Euphrates. See 2 Kings xxiv. 7.
+ Restored. This is not expressly mentioned in the Holy Scripture, yet some passages give a hint that way: and as it is the common opinion, so it may somewhat help to make out the time of his reign, and give more room for the prophecies that belong to it, which are many, for he reigned eleven years. At this time, and also with him, it is thought, (and with great reason,) that the prophet Daniel, with his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (who were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were carried to Babylon, Dan. i. vi. For Daniel, ch. i. v. 1, says, when Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim, and the vessels of the temple, he spake unto Ashpeñaz, the master of the Eunuchs, that he should bring with him to Babylon some of the children of Israel, of the seed of the king, and of the princes, such as were well-favoured, and without blemish; of good parts, and well educated; that being instructed in the language and learning of the Chaldeans, they might be fit to serve the king in his palace: and that the Eunuch in consequence made choice of those four, Dan. i. 3, 4, 6.
Servant. See Jeremiah, xxv. 9.