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another part of Scripture the statutes of Omri) restrained the Israelites from going to Jerusalem to worship, and compelled them to worship the calves at Bethel and Dan, and perhaps other abominable idols also.
All the kings who had reigned over Israel, from the time of the division of the kingdom, were remarkable for their impiety.
THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF JEHOSHAPHAT
KING OF JUDAH.
AND Jehoshaphat the son of Asa reigned in the stead of his father, and strengthened himself against Israel.
And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in all the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had taken.
And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father Asą, and sought not unto Baalim ; But sought to the LORD God of his father David, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
Therefore the LORD established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents : and he had riches and honour' in abundance.
And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover, he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
And Jehoshaphat waxed strong exceedingly: and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.
And he had much business in the cities of Judah : and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem
Jehoshaphạt seems to have been educated with great care, and to have received from his father, who at that ime walked in the way of David, early impressions of piety. Jehoshaphat began his reign with that disposition of mind which his station required, and endeavoured to bring about a thorough reformation in Judah. He not only took away the high places, but sent to his princes to teach in the cities of Judah, and with them he sent priests and Levites, who had the book of the law with them.
It is supposed that the princes admonished the people, and required them to observe the Law, which che priests and Levites came to explain; obliging them tỏ treat those who were sent by the kings' command on 80 important an errand with respect, and hear them with attention. In those days there was, what is properly called by one of the prophets, a spiritual famine * There were then no public synagogues, nor public teachers, as there were afterwards ; and the people Were fallen intò such a state of general ignorance, that there was scarcely a copy of the law to be found in the whole country; for which reason it was thought adviseable and necessary; for the priests and Levites to carry one with them.
We read, that Jehoshaphat's subjects, amounted to an astonishing number : his valiant men are computed at
1,100,000. His dominions included not only Judah and Benjamin (which were incorporated so as to become one tribe), but reached into the tribes of Dan, Ephraim, and Simeon, into Arabia, and the country of the Phi
* Amos, chap. riii, 11.
listines : in a word from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim one way, from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea another. The Levites also, whom Jeroboam thrust out, joined themselves to Judah ; and multitudes of other persons, who abhorred idolatry, followed them from all parts of Israel. There were, besides, great numbers of foreigners in Judah; so that we may easily conceive Jehoshaphat's kingdom to have been as populous as it is here represented.
The great pains this good king took to propagate religion, not only procured him the favour of God, but gained the hearts of his subjects ; and the LORD struck such a dread of him into his enemies, that instead of invading his dominions, the Philistines came voluntarily, and paid him a tribute which had been suspended for many years ; and the Arabians also sent a great number of flocks and herds, as an acknowledgment of their homage.
We find that God was perfectly true to his promises ; for whenever the king and people, either of Israel or - Judah, were mindful of their duty, he blessed them with prosperity; and as constantly brought adversity upon them, when they forsook his worship: if they would but have been a righteous people, what happiness might: they have enjoyed! what miseries would they have escaped !
From 1 Kings, Chap. xvi, xvii. And in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel in Samaria,
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, above all that were before him.
And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebaty. that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
And he reared up an altar for Baal, in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
And Ahab made a grove ; and Ahab' did more to proyoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
In his days did Hiel the Beth-elite build Jericho: he kaid the foundation thereof in Abiram his first-born, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
And Elijah the Tishbite who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
And the word of the Lord came unto Elijah, sayings Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordán. And it shalt be that thou shalt drink of the brook, and I have comnianded the ravens to feed thee there.
So he went, and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening : and he drank of the brook.
And it came to pass after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And Jezebel sent, to destroy all the prophets in the
laad. And Obadiah hid an hundred of them in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
We find that there was at this time a great contrast between the two kingdoms for whilst the king of Judah was using every means for propagating true religion, the king of Israel employed himself in exalting idols. Ahab not only continued the worship of the. calves, which Jeroboam had set up, but he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaa}, king of Tyre, whom he suffered to introduce Rew abominations, and to gratify her impiety, he built an altar to Baal in Israel.
That Ahab might not plead the example of his father, and pretend ignorance of the LORD, Elijah the prophet was graciously sent to warn and admonish him. Thesbe, the birth-place of this extraordinary person, was on the other side Jordan in the land of Gad. He is supposed to have been the faiher or chief of the prophets of that age, a man of a great and elevated soul, of a generous and undaunted spirit, a zealous defender of the laws of God, and a just avenger of a violation of His honour,
It was the LORD's will to send a famine on Israel; and that Ahab might not impute it to natural causes, Elijah was inspired to inform him, that it was inflicted by the hand of God, who withheld the usual refreshments from the earth for the wickedness of him and his people, and that the drought should continue.
As the Lord foresaw that the completion of this prediction would draw Ahab's resentment upon Elijah, in order to preserve this prophet from the cruel effects of the king's rage, and to shew his almighty power, He