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1, 2 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son (it is written in the book of Jashar):3 Hear, O Judah, hard things,
Be grieved, O Israel.
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Ye mountains of Gilboa,
15 From the blood of the slain,
From the fat of the mighty,
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, 20 And in their death they were not divided:
They were swifter than eagles,
Who clothed you in scarlet delicately,
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
1 *Tradition gives to David great prestige as a poet. Much has been ascribed to him which was probably the production of a later date, but this old song is full of poetic feeling, and in all probability genuine.
2 II Sam. I: 19-27.
3 *Book of Jashar: an older collection of national poetry from which our author took this poem.
4 *Gath, Ashkelon: Philistine cities; see note, p. 9.
5 *The uncircumcised: The rite of circumcision was shared by the Hebrews with many other ancient nations, but came with them to have the significance of adoption into the covenant relation with Jehovah. All uncircumcised people were supposed to be outside the realm of his interest. 6 *Gilboa: Locate on map.
7 Line 12: as a sign of mourning.
Jonathan, slain upon thy high places!
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me: 30 Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen,
Samuel a Typical Prophet.—We have dwelt longer upon the life of Samuel than we should have done, had it not been necessary to establish through the study of this first great prophet certain principles for the study of all prophecy. Is it not clear that we have seen in this man a mighty spirit, rising far above his fellows? As a statesman with sane judgment he read the signs of his times. Forgetful of self he exalted another to an office higher than his own, but in doing so secured the unity necessary for the development of a national political and religious life. As a prophet of Jehovah, denouncing the superstitions of his age, in majestic dignity and calm, he divined without frenzy or outward symbol the will of Jehovah. Interpreting the spirit of Jehovah as well as his power, he established for the religion of Jehovah a new ideal of sincerity, “Obedience is better than sacrifice”—the spirit is more than the act. As we proceed with our study we shall see that these are preeminently the qualities of the great men who led Israel from paganism to the highest spiritual development, and bequeathed to us some of the fundamental principles of our religion. And among them none had a greater task than Samuel, who found Israel a scattered group of warring tribes and left it a nation secure in its faith in Jehovah.
A CENTURY OF HISTORY The death of Saul is placed approximately at 1000 B.C. We shall be obliged to consider in a brief chapter the changes which took place in Israel in one hundred and twenty-five years following that event. The kingdom attained under David, the successor of Saul, a territory so great as to include not only all of Palestine (excepting only a narrow strip of coast line to the southwest still held by the Philistines) but also a portion of the land of Syria, on the northeast. Friendly relations were also established with Phoenicia on the northwest. Not only so, but David organized the kingdom, strengthened it internally, ruled it so wisely, and was so beloved by his people as to stand in all the centuries following as the type of the perfect king. His kingdom was the ideal toward which the efforts of Israel were ever afterward directed.
The extravagance and tyranny of his son Solomon produced a more glorious kingdom externally, but aroused a spirit of revolt in the hearts of a people which had never yet learned to bow to one who ruled only by virtue of blood succession. At the death of Solomon, therefore, the kingdom, at its greatest not larger than three hundred miles from north to south, was divided, the inhabitants of the northern section revolting against Rehoboam, the successor of David's line, and founding an independent kingdom. It is significant that the king who was placed upon the throne in the north had the full support of the prophets, who were ever the champions of the people against oppression and injustice. The two nations are henceforth to be known as Israel, on the north, and Judah, on the south.
The system of taxation devised by Solomon by which his kingdom was divided into twelve parts, each part being responsible for the maintenance of the royal household for the period of one month in the year, is but one of the evidences of the burden which his increased establishment and his extravagance placed upon the people. See I Kings, chap. 4, for this and other evidences of the splendor of Solomon's reign. The story of the building and dedication of the Temple follows in chaps. 5-8. 2 The story of the division of the kingdom is related in I Kings, chap. 12.
Jerusalem remained the capital of the southern kingdom, and the stronghold of the Jehovah religion, with its magnificent temple erected by Solomon. Shechem, the first capital of the northern kingdom, was afterward exchanged for Tirzah and again for Samaria, built upon the hills a thousand feet above the surrounding valley, a strong site for military defense. Jerusalem also, well fortified by David, was well-nigh impregnable, situated upon a rocky summit that presented almost insuperable difficulties to a besieging army.
It was hardly to be expected that two kingdoms of one blood could exist peacefully side by side in such a limited territory, their capitals but thirty miles apart. The south with Jerusalem, the capital of the once united kingdom, longed for her old sovereignty over the north, and her repeated attempts to establish her claim caused almost constant warfare between Israel and Judah. Lying back among the hills, however, apart from the main routes of travel, with Israel to act as a buttress between her and the encroaching armies of Syria and Assyria on the northeast, Judah remained for a century comparatively undisturbed. The Davidic succession gave stability to her government. The Temple, at first only a royal sanctuary, became increasingly the center of religious worship, and long and peaceful reigns enabled the country to develop commercially and socially.
In the north the case was far different. Continually harrassed by warfare with Judah, Israel lay open also to the north and east, unprotected by the natural barriers of mountain ranges and deserts from the invasions of Syria and Assyria, who were seeking to command her coveted roads and territory. Her unstable government founded in revolution continued under kings whose only right to rule lay in superior military power, temporary popularity, or party support. The kingdom was therefore subject to conditions of anarchy and sudden and violent changes in the ruling dynasty." The growing power of Syria on the northeast was at times augmented by her temporary alliance with Judah, and in 875 B.C.,
For such records as we have of the anarchy and confusion of the government in the Northern Kingdom previous to the accession of Omri read I Kings 15:25-28; 15:33–16:28.
ern Kingdom previeve of the anarchy and content