Imágenes de páginas

consent they confederated against him, and brought together an incredible multitude in arms; and, as it is particularly remarked, with horses and chariots very many. Joshua prevailed against them, and took all their horses and chariots; and had an opportunity of strengthening his army with cavalry. But observe the express command of God to him : Thou shalt hough, or hamstring, their horses, and burn their chariots with fire, Josh. xi. 6. Is this the common practice of war? Do princes, who want horses to mount their own troops, use to destroy those taken from the enemy, or render them useless by hamftringing them? There can be no foundation for the command to destroy the horses, but this only; that it was not lawful for Joshua to keep them, for the reason already given.

I have laid these observations together, to give light to a general precept of the law, in which every prince, who should succeed to the government of Israel, was concerned ; and upon which the true interpretation of the prophecy now before us does, as I conceive, depend. It is to be found in the 17th of Deut. in these words : He (that is, whoever shall be king of Israel) fall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he Should multiply horses. If we consider the situation of Judah, how it was surrounded by warlike nations, who had strong armies both of horse and foot; it will be impossible to justify this law by the measures of human prudence: but the true reason of the law is expreffed in the 2oth of Deut. When thou goeft out to battle against thine enemies, and feest horses and shariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of. them : for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt. When God forbade his people the use of horles and chariots, he promised that he would be to them instead of horses and chariots. This law therefore was to be a standing trial of prince and people, whether they had trust and confidence in God their deliverer. In this view there is fenfe in the law; for he who gave it knew how to remedy the inconveniences which naturally attend it. In any other view it is unaccountable ; and, if weighed in the scales of worldly politics, ridiculous and abfurd.

The next thing to be considered is, what effect this law produced, and what influence the obedience or disobedience of the princes to this law had upon the affairs of Israel.

It is evident from the Jewish history, that this law was observed for near four hundred years, to the end of David's reign, and in part of Solonion's. That Joshua had no chariots or horses in his army,

has been already observed, when Deborah and Barak delivered Ifrael from Sisera, who had nine hundred chariots of iron, Judg. v. 15. It is expressly said in the text, that Barak was sent on foot into the valley, And in this manner did the ancient judges of Israel wage war, who were raised up from time to time by God to deliver his people. And in this manner, David, who extended his empire from Egypt to Syria, and eastwards as far as Euphrates, in this manner did he wage war; not for want of chariots and horses, for he took from Hadadezar, son to the king of Zobah, in one day, a thousand chariots and seven hundred horsemen; but he houghed all the chariot horses, reserving of them only for an hundred chariots, 2 Sam. viii, 4. When he had taken a thousand cha-, riots, with their horses, and destroyed nine out of ten, it is evident he had no thought of raising a military force of this kind; probably he retained them for his state, and might do it lawfully, without incurring the guilt of multiplying liorfes, which are the terms in which the law is conceived. Certain it is, he made no use of them in war; and so far he complied with the true sense and spirit of the law. What use he made of them, is no where said : but when Absalom aimed at the crown, he prepared chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him, 2 Sam. xv. 1. which was plainly affecting the pomp and ftate of a king; and yet in the day of battle we find him mounted on a mule, the colt of an ass. And if we may judge what the king did, by seeing what this rival of the crown affected to do, it is plain David's hundred chariots were used for ftate in peace, and not for strength in war. And in this sense, I conceive, we are to understand a passage in Jeremiah ; where he promises the people of Judah, that, if they prove obedient, there should enter into the gates of the city kings and princes htting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, Jer. xvii. 25. which is plainly a description of a state of peace and security ; (compare ver. 27.) and, taken in any other sense, it must stand in contradiction to the law in Deuteronomy, and many other texts of Scripture ? But to go on;

• If the ninth and following chapters of Zechariah are in, deed (as Mr. Mede and other learned think) parts of the proIt is very much to be remarked, that, during this period, (i. e. from the coming out of Egypt to the end of David's reign,) the people of Israel never suffered for want of force and strength in war: they were often punished, as they often deserved it, for their idolatry; but whenever they repented and turned to God, their deliverance did not wait for want of forces. Troops few in number, and seemingly unfit for action, supported neither by chariots nor by horsemen, proved an overmatch for royal armies. This may be verified in the instances of Gideon, Baruch, Jephtha, and Samuel, and of all others called forth by God to save his people.

During this period also it was that the kingdom of Ifrael was carried to its utmost height by David. He held the kings about him, how gallantly foever they and their troops were mounted, under tribute and subjection, though he himself rode on a mule, and provided no better equipage for his son on his coronation-day. Cause, says David, Solomon my fon ta ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel, 1 Kings i. 33, 34: When David looked back and contemplated on this state of things, he might well say, Some trust in chariots, and some in horses : but we will remember the name of the Lord our God, Psal. xx. 7.

In the reign of Solomon things quickly changed. He married the daughter of the king of Egypt, and

phecy of Jeremiah, this distinction will be necessary to reconcile this passage, Jer. xvii. 25. and that which is now to be found, Zech. ix. 9.

opened a commerce between that country and his own; and the next news we hear of him is, that he had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, 1 Kings iv. 26. They who succeeded him followed his example; and from his time the kings of Judah and Israel had, whenever they were able to keep them, a strength of chariots and horsemen.

Let us see now what they got by this change. Solomon came to a kingdom firmly established, the princes round him were tributary to him, and those at a distance feared and admired him : but troubles foon overtook him; the Edomite on one side, the king of Damascus on the other, insulted him; nor was he able with all his new forces to quell these upstart enemies.

But the most remarkable event, and which seems designed by Providence to humble the pride of Israel, was the division of the kingdom upon the death of Solomon ; which produced a war of many years continuance between Israel and Judah, in which their forces were employed, with various success, in weakening and destroying each other. During this time, the king of Egypt, the country which had furnished Solomon with all his horses, came up against Jerusalem, and took it, and carried away all the treasures of the temple and of the royal palace ; which had been long gathering by David and Solomon: and Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, became fervant to the king of Egypt, 2 Chron. xii. 8, 9. Thus did Solomon and his house prosper with their great ftrength of chariots and horses. Indeed we may from this time date the ruin of Israel : the two king

« AnteriorContinuar »