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Interregnum about 5 years,
Servitude under the Philistines 40 years,
Samson, in south-western Palestine, during the
81. SECOND PERIOD. The Israelites at length became dissatisfied with the irregular nature of their government, and demanded a king. In compliance with their wishes, Saul, the son of Kish, a young Benjamite distinguished by beauty and loftiness of stature, was chosen by Divine command, and anointed by Samuel, their aged prophet and judge.
82. He found the country in nearly the same condition in which Joshua had left it. The people were farmers and shepherds; none were wealthy; even the king had "no court, no palace, no extraordinary retinue; he was still little more than leader in war and judge in peace." The country was still ravaged by Ammonites on one side, and Philistines on the other; and under the recent incursions of the latter, the Israelites had become so
weak that they had no weapons nor armor, nor even any workers in iron. (1 Samuel xiii: 19, 20.)
83. Saul first defeated the Ammonites, who had overrun Gilead from the east; then turned upon the Philistines, and humbled them in the battle of Michmash, so that they were driven to defend themselves at home, instead of invading Israel, until near the close of his reign. He waged war also against the Amʼalekites, Mo'abites, E'domites, and the Syrians of Zobah, and "delivered Israel out of the hand of them that spoiled them."
84. He forfeited the favor of God by disobedience, and David, his future son-in-law, was anointed king. Jonathan, the son of Saul, was a firm friend and protector of David against the jealous rage of his father. Even the king himself, in his better moods, was moved to admiration and affection by the heroic character of David.
85. In Saul's declining years, the Philistines, under A'chish, king of Gath, again invaded the country, and defeated the Israelites at Mount Gilboa. Saul and all but one of his sons fell in the battle. Ishbo'sheth, the surviving son, was acknowledged king in Gilead, and ruled all the tribes except Judah for seven years. But David was crowned in Hebron, and reigned over his own tribe until the death of Ishbosheth, when he became ruler of the whole nation.
86. He conquered Jerusalem from the Jeb'usites, made it his capital, and established a kingly court such as Israel had never known. The ark of the covenant was removed from its temporary abode at Kirjathjeʼarim, and Jerusalem became henceforth the Holy City, the seat of the national religion as well as of
built by Agrippa
of Jeho so
David's Tomb siloam
Mount of Olives
88. Great as was the military glory of David, his fame with later times is derived from his psalms and songs. He was the first great poet of Israel,
and perhaps the earliest in the world. The freshness of the pastures and mountain-sides among which his youth was passed, the assurance of Divine protection amid the singular and romantic incidents of his varied career, the enlargement of his horizon of thought with the magnificent dominion which was added to him in later life, all gave a richness and depth to his experience, which were reproduced in sacred melody, and found their fitting place in the temple service; and every form of Jewish and Christian worship since his time has been enriched by the poetry of David.
89. This great hero and poet was not exempt from common human sins and follies, and the only disasters of his reign sprang directly from his errors. The consequences of his plurality of wives, in the jealousies which arose between the different families of princes, distracted his old age with a succession of crimes and sorrows. His sons Ab'salom and Adoni'jah at different times plotted against him and assumed the crown. Both were punished for their treason, the one by death in battle, the other by the sentence of Solomon after his father's death.
B. C. 1015.
90. Solomon, the favorite son of David, succeeded to a peaceful kingdom. All the neighboring nations acknowledged his dignity, and the king of Egypt gave him his daughter in marriage. The Israelites were now the dominant race in Syria. Many monarchs were tributary to the great king, and the court of Jerusalem rivaled in its splendors those of Nineveh and Memphis.
91. Commerce received a great impulse both from the enterprise and the luxury of the king. Hiram, king of Tyre, was a firm friend of Solomon, as he had been of David his father. Cedars were brought from the forests of Lebanon for the construction of a palace and temple. Through his alliance with Hiram, Solomon was admitted to a share in Tyrian trade; and by the influence of Pharaoh, his father-in-law, he gained from the Edomites the port of Ezion-ge'ber, on the Red Sea, where he caused a great fleet of merchant vessels to be constructed. Through these different channels of commerce, the rarest products of Europe, Asia, and Africa were poured into Jerusalem. Gold and precious stones, sandalwood and spices from India, silver from Spain, ivory from Africa, added to the luxury of the court. Horses from Egypt, now first introduced into Palestine, filled the royal stables. By tribute as well as trade, a constant stream of gold and silver flowed into Palestine.
92. The greatest work of Solomon was the Temple on Mount Moriahı, which became the permanent abode of the ark of the covenant, and the holy place toward which the prayers of Israelites, though scattered throughout the world, have ever turned. The temple precincts included apartments for the priests, and towers for defense, so that it has been said that the various purposes of forum, fortress, university, and sanctuary were here combined in one great national building. The superior skill of the
Phoenicians in working in wood and metal, was enlisted by Solomon in the service of the temple. Hiram, the chief architect and sculptor, was half Tyrian, half Israelite, and his genius was held in equal reverence by the two kings who claimed his allegiance. More than seven years were occupied in the building of the temple. The Feast of the Dedication drew together a vast concourse of people from both extremities of the land"from Hamath to the River of Egypt." And so important is this event as a turning point in the history of the Jews, that it constitutes the beginning of their connected record of months and years.
93. The early days of Solomon were distinguished by all the virtues which could adorn a prince. In humble consciousness of the greatness of the duties assigned him, and the insufficiency of his powers, he chose wisdom rather than long life or riches or great dominion, and he was rewarded by the possession of even that which he had not asked. His wisdom became greater than that of all the philosophers of the East; his knowledge. of natural history, improved by the collections of rare plants and curious animals which he gathered from all parts of the world, was considered miraculous. (1 Kings iii: 5–15; iv: 29–34.)
94. But prosperity corrupted his character. He introduced the licentious. luxury of an Oriental court into the Holy City of David, and even encouraged the degrading rites of heathen worship. His commerce enriched himself, not his people. His enormous and expensive court was sustained by the most exhausting taxes. The great public works which he carried on withdrew vast numbers of men from the tillage of the soil, and thus lessened the national resources.
95. The glory of Solomon dazzled the people and silenced their complaints, but on the accession of his son the smothered discon
B. C. 975.
tent broke forth. Rehoboam, instead of soothing his subjects by needed reforms, incensed them by his haughty refusal to lighten their burdens. (1 Kings xii: 13, 14.) The greater number of the people immediately revolted, under the lead of Jeroboam, who established a rival sovereignty over the Ten Tribes, henceforth to be known as the Kingdom of Israel. The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David.
96. THIRD PERIOD. The Kingdom of Israel had the more extensive and fertile territory, and its population was double that of Judah. It
extended from the borders of Damascus to within ten miles of Jerusalem; included the whole territory east of the Jordan, and held Moab as a tributary. But it had no capital equal in strength, beauty, or sacred associations to Jerusalem. The government was fixed first at She'chem, then at Tirʼzah, then at Samaʼria.
97. Its first king, Jeroboam, in order to break the strongest tie which bound the people to the house of David, made golden calves for idols, and set up sanctuaries in Bethel and Dan, saying, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out .of the land of Egypt!" A new priesthood was appointed in opposition to that of Aaron, and many Levites and other faithful adherents of the old religion emigrated into the kingdom of Judah.
98. The people too readily fell into the snare. A succession of prophets, gifted with wonderful powers, strove to keep alive the true worship; but the poison of idolatry had entered so deeply into the national life, that it was ready to fall upon the first assault from without. In the time of Elijah, only seven thousand were left who had not "bowed the knee unto Baal;" and even these were unknown to the prophet, being compelled by persecution to conceal their religion.
99. The kings of Israel belonged to nine different families, of which only two, those of Omri and Jehu, held the throne any considerable time. Almost all the nineteen kings had short reigns, and eight died by violence. The kingdom was frequently distracted by wars with Judah, Damascus, and Assyria. Jeroboam was aided in his war with Judah by his friend and patron in days of exile, Shishak, king of Egypt. Nadab, son of Jeroboam, was murdered by Baasha, who made himself king. This monarch began to build the fortress of Ramah, by which he intended to hold the Jewish frontier, but was compelled to desist by Ben-hadad, of Syria, who thus testified his friendship for Asa, king of Judah.
100. Ahab, of the house of Omri, allied himself with Ethbaal, king of Tyre, by marrying his daughter Jez'ebel; and the arts of this wicked and idolatrous princess brought the kingdom to its lowest pitch of corruption. Her schemes were resisted by Elijah the Tishbite, one of the greatest of the prophets, who, in a memorable encounter on Mount Carmel, led the people to reaffirm their faith in Jehovah and exterminate the priests of Baal. (1 Kings xviii: 17-40.) The evil influence of Jezebel and the Tyrian idolatry were not removed from Israel until she herself and her son Jehoram had been murdered by order of Jehu, a captain of the guard, who became first of a new dynasty of kings. Jehu lost all his territories east of the Jordan in war with Hazael, of Damascus, and paid tribute, at least on one occasion, to Asshur-nazir-pal, of Assyria. His son Jehoahaz also lost cities to the Syrian king; but Joash, the grandson of Jehu, revived the
* See p. 19.