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Historical Outline from the Accession of Saul to the Destruction of Jerusalem.

Weakness of Republican Government-Jealousy of the several Tribes-Resolution to have a King-Rules for regal Government -Character of Saul-Of David-Troubles of his Reign-Accession of Solomon-Erection of the Temple-Commerce- Murmurs of the People-Rehoboam-Division of the Tribes-Kings of Israel-Kingdom of Judah-Siege of Jerusalem-Captivity_Kings of Judah-Return from Babylon-Second Temple-Canon of Scripture Struggles between Egypt and Syria-Conquest of Palestine by Antiochus-Persecution of Jews-Resistance by the Family of Maccabæus-Victories of Judas-He courts the Alliance of the Romans-Succeeded by Jonathan-Origin of the Asmonean Princes-John Hyrcanus-Aristobulus-Alexander Jannæus-Appeal to Pompey-Jerusalem taken by Romans-Herod created King by the Romans-He repairs the Temple—Archelaus succeeds him, and Antipas is nominated to Galilee-Quirinius Prefect of Syria-Pontius Pilate-Elevation of Herod AgrippaDisgrace of Herod Philip Judea again a Province-TroublesAccession of Young Agrippa-Felix- Festus - Florus-Command given to Vespasian-War-Siege of Jerusalem by Titus.

THE weakness and jealousy which seem inseparable from a government comprehending a number of independent states, had been deeply felt during the administration of Eli, and even under that of Samuel in his latter days. Established in different parts of the country, the several tribes were actuated by local interests and selfish views; those in the north, who were exempted from the hostile inroads of the Philistines and Ammonites, refusing to aid

their brethren, the children of Simeon and Judah, whose territory was constantly exposed to the ravages of those warlike neighbours. In the time of the more recent Judges, the federal union on which the Hebrew commonwealth was founded appeared practically dissolved. Nay, a spirit of rivalry and dissension occasionally manifested itself among the kindred communities of which it was composed ;Ephraim, stimulated by envy, vexed Judah, and Judah vexed Ephraim.*

Meanwhile, several powerful kingdoms in the east, as well as the south, threatened the independence of the Twelve Tribes, especially those on the borders of the Desert. Assyria had already turned her views towards the fertile lands which skirt the shores of the Mediterranean; and Egypt, in order to protect her rich valley from the aggressions of that rising monarchy, began to open her eyes to the expediency of securing the frontier towns in the nearest parts of Palestine. In a word, it was fast becoming manifest that the existence of the Hebrews, as a free and distinct people, could only be secured by reviving the union, which had originally subsisted among their leading families, under a form that would combine their physical strength and patriotism in the support of a common cause. An aged priest, although he might with the ut most authority direct the solemnities of their na tional worship, and even administer the laws to which they were all bound to submit, could not command the secular obedience of rude clans, or, with any prospect of success, lead them to battle

* Isaiah xi. 13.

against an enemy practised in all the stratagems of war. The people, therefore, demanded the consent of Samuel to a change in the structure of their government, that they might have a king not only to preside over their civil affairs, but also to go out before them and fight their battles.*

The principal reason assigned by the elders of Israel for the innovation which they required at the hands of their ancient prophet was, that they might be "like all the nations ;" evidently alluding to the advantages of monarchical power, when decisive measures become necessary to defend the interests of a state. It is remarkable that Moses had anticipated this natural result in the progress of society, and even laid down rules for the administration of the regal government. This wise legislator provided that the king of the Hebrews should not be a foreigner, lest he might be tempted to sacrifice the interests of his subjects to the policy of his native land, and perhaps to countenance the introduction of unauthorized rites into the worship of Jehovah. It was also stipulated that the sovereign of the Chosen People should not multiply horses to himself, lest he should be carried by his ambition to make war in distant countries, and neglect the welfare of the sacred inheritance promised to the fathers of the Jewish nation.t

The qualities which recommended Saul to the choice of Samuel and the approbation of the Tribes, leave no room for doubt that it was chiefly as a military leader that the son of Kish was raised to the throne. Nor was their expectation disappointed in

1 Samuel viii. 4-21.

Deut. xvii. 14--20.

the young Benjaminite, so far as courage and zeal were required in conducting the affairs of war. But the impetuosity of his character, and a certain indifference in regard to the claims of the national faith, paved the way for his downfal and the extinction of his family. The scene of Gilboa, which terminated the career of the first Hebrew monarch, exhibits a most affecting tragedy; in which the valour of a gallant chief, contrasted with his despair and sorrow, throws a deceitful lustre over an event which the reader feels that he ought to condemn.

David, to the skill of an experienced warrior, added a deep reverence for the institutions of his country and the forms of Divine worship; whence he procured the high distinction of being a man after God's own heart. To this celebrated king was reserved the honour of taking from the Jebusites a strong fortress on the borders of Judah and Benjamin, and of laying the foundations of Jerusalem, viewed, at least, as the metropolis of Palestine and the seat of the Hebrew government. On Mount Zion he built a suburb of considerable beauty and strength, which continued for many years to bear his name, and to reflect the magnificence of his genius. Not satisfied with this acquisition, he extended his arms on all sides, till the borders of his kingdom touched the western bank of the Euphrates and the neighbourhood of Damascus. likewise defeated the Philistines, those restless enemies of the southern tribes, and added their dominions to the crown of Israel. The Moabites, who had provoked his resentment, were subjected to military execution, and deprived of a large portion of their land; an example of severity which, so far from


intimidating the children of Ammon, only provoked them to try the fortune of war against the victorious monarch. David despatched an army under the command of the irascible Joab, who, after worsting them in the field, inflicted a tremendous chastisement upon the followers of Hanun, for having studiously insulted the ambassadors of his master.*

But the splendour of this reign was afterwards clouded by domestic guilt and treason; and the nation, which could now have defied the power of its bitterest enemies, was divided and rendered miserable by the foul passions that issued from the royal palace. Still, notwithstanding the rebellion of Absalom, and the defection of certain military leaders, David bequeathed to his successor a flourishing kingdom; rapidly advancing in the arts of civilized life, enjoying an advantageous commerce, the respect of neighbouring states, and a decided preponderance among the minor governments of Western Asia. His last years were spent in making preparations for the building of a temple at Jerusalem,a work that he himself was not allowed to accomplish, because his hands were stained with blood, which, however justly shed, rendered them unfit for erecting an edifice to the God of mercy and peace.†

The success which had attended the arms of his father rendered the accession of Solomon tranquil and secure, so far, at least, as we consider the designs of the surrounding nations. Accordingly, finding himself in possession of quiet as well as of an overflowing treasury, he proceeded to realize the

* 2 Samuel viii. 1, 2. 1 Chron. xviii. 1, 2.; xix. 1-20. +1 Chron. xxii. 8.


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