« PreviousContinue »
THE JEWISH ADVOCATE.
BIBLE HISTORY OF THE JEWS.
CHAPTER XXV. No sooner was Gideon dead, than Israel forgot how the Lord had “ delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side,”—“and they went after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their God;” neither showed they any kindness to the house of Gideon for all that he had done.
Abimelech, one of the seventy sons of Gideon, determined to take for himself the sovereignty which had been rejected by his father. His mother's brethren lived in Shechem, and the inhabitants of that city gathered themselves together, and made Abimelech king. To secure the power to himself, he determined to slay all his father's
one, only, escaped ; namely, Jotham. Who, from the top of Mount Gerizim, (which overhangs the city of Shechem), warned the men of Shechem what they might expect, if they put their trust in one so worthless.
He addressed them in a fable saying :-“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
“ But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour
God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?"
** And the trees said to the fig-tree, Come thou, and reign over us."
“ But the fig-tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees ?”
Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou and reign over us.”
“ And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees .?"
“Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou and reign over us."
And the bramble said unto the trees, “ If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the Cedars of Lebanon.”
Jotham then denounced them for their ingratitude to Gideon, and for joining Abimelech against his father's house, and prophesied that a curse would come upon them for so doing. He then fled, for fear of his brother.
Abimelech did not prosper long in his wickedness, nor the men of Shechem in theirs ; for they rebelled against him at the end of three years, for which he slew very many of them : and was himself finally killed by a woman at Thebez, who cast a stone upon him from a citadel which he was besieging Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren : and all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render
their heads : and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal !”'
Tola, a man of the tribe of Issachar, but dwelling in Mount Ephraim, then judged Israel, for twenty-three years. He was succeeded by Jan, a Gileadite, who judged for twenty-two years; of whom nothing is recorded but that “ he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts,* and they had thirty cities.”
The next revolt of Israel was punished by the Philistines in the south ; and by the Ammonites in the east; who for eighteen years oppressed those tribes that lay beyond Jordan. The Lord was minded to cast off those tribes, because of their idolatries, saying, “ Go and cry unto the Gods which ye have chosen: let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” But they humbled themselves before the Lord, and put away the strange Gods from among them; "and His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.”
Then, the Gadites and Manassites, who were called Gileadites, because they inhabited Gilead, looked for a leader to go up against Ammon, and they fixed upon Jephthah, the son of Gilead ; who, having been expelled from his father's house, now dwelt in the hill country, where he had gathered together“ vain men,” who joined him in all kinds of warlike expeditions. Jephthah consented to go with the elders of Gilead; who made him their head and Captain. The first act of his government was to send messengers to the King of Ammon, asking why he came up against Gilead. The King of Ammon demanded that the country occupied by Israel beyond Jordan, should be restored to his people. Jephthah told him that
* Probably to administer justice up and down the country.-BISHOP PATRICK.
Israel had not taken it in their own might, but that it was given them by God, adding, “ Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy God giveth thee to possess ? So, whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.”
The children of Ammon hearkened not unto Jephthah's words,“ So the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah,” and he prepared for
Before he set out he vowed a vow unto the Lord, that if he would deliver Ammon into his hand “ then it shall be,” he said, “ that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering !”
He returned victorious; and, “ Behold! his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances : and she was his only child.” When Jephthah saw her he rent his clothes and lamented bitterly. His daughter asked for no deliverance from her fate, saying, “ My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth." She asked for two months in which to bewail her fate in dying without children ; so strong was the hope of every Jewish woman that her child might prove to be the promised Saviour of the world. It afterwards became a custom in Israel that the daughters of her people should go yearly to the mountains to lament her.
The Ephraimites, who had previously quarrelled with Gideon because he had not given them the precedence of the other tribes when about to go to war, now attacked Jephthah for the same reason. They were disposed to value
themselves highly, because the ark of God rested with them at Shiloh; they were a very powerful tribe, and they threatened to come and burn Jephthah's house with fire. So Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead against them. The Gileadites took the passages of the river Jordan, so as to cut off the return of the Ephraimites; and when any escaped and sought to cross the river, the men of Gilead said, “ Art thou an Ephraimite?" These attempted in vain to save their lives by falsehood; their peculiar pronunciation of a word which was given to prove them, betrayed their tribe, and they were slain ; there fell at that time, of the Ephraimites, 42,000.
Jephthah judged Israel six years, and after him İbzan, Elon, and Abdon, of whom nothing worthy of note is recorded.
THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE LONDON SO
CIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIANITY
AMONGST THE JEWS. The Anniversary Sermon was preached before the Society on Thursday evening, May 6th, by the Rev. W. Dalton, B.D., minister of St. Paul's Church, Wolverhampton, The text was Daniel xii. 1–3. On Friday the 7th, the Annual Meeting was held at Exeter Hall. The large room was crowded long before the hour of commencing the Meeting, and it was delightful and cheering to see so vast an assembly of Christians brought together to promote the spiritual interest of God's ancient people. What a change has God wrought in this respect. In days gone by, multitudes would assemble to pull down the houses of the