Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

race of Kenites, descended from an ancestor named Hamath, to which the Rechabites also belonged.

(1) The schools of the prophets are first expressly mentioned under Jehoram, while the name of “sons of the prophets,” given to members of these schools, already appears in the history of Ahab (1 Kings xx. 35). (Art. Pädagogik des A. T.)

(2) The designation disciples of wisdom, in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, is analogous. (Art. Prophetenthum des A. T.)

(3) The statement of Eichhorn (id. p. 196), that the prophetic dignity descended from father to son, and that birth gave a hereditary right of admission into the prophetic order, rests upon a misconception of the Main Amos vii. 14; only one, and that an older example, being found of a son succeeding his father in the prophetic office, viz. that of Jehu the son of Hanani (1 Kings xvi. 1). The fact that the sons of the prophets are here and there called prophets (xx. 38, 41; 2 Kings ix. 4), and that in 1 Kings xx. 35 sqq. a son of the prophets appears, in virtue of “the word of the Lord” to him, to have exercised independent prophetic authority, certainly shows that the distinction between prophets and sons of the prophets was a fluctuating one, but does not authorize us entirely to deny it. The opinion of Kranichfeld (De prophetarum societatibus, p. 17 sq.), that the name means sons who are prophets, is linguistically untenable.

(4) Isa. lxi. 1 proves nothing in favour of the anointing of prophets, the expression being used figuratively. Hence the traditionary tenet found in many works, that kings, priests, and prophets were anointed, is, so far as the last particular is concerned, incorrect.

(5) Accordingly, when Elisha proved himself the inheritor of the spirit of Elijah, he received the respectful homage of the sons of the prophets, 2 Kings ii. 15. Of the kind of instruction given in the schools of the prophets we are told nothing; the discipline would tend above all things to inculcate unreserved obedience to the Divine word (when it proved itself to be such), and unconditional surrender to the Divine call. How strict the obedience required of prophets was, is evident

from 1 Kings siii. 20 sqq., xx. 35 sqq., and the history of Jonah. Comp. also Jer. i. 7, xx. 7 sq.; Ezek. iii. 17 sqq.

(6) It is evident from 1 Kings xiv. 3 (comp. 1 Sam. ix. 8) that presents were offered to the prophets when their advice was sought; the narrative 2 Kings v. 20–27, and especially the words of Elisha, show, however, the unselfishness which his calling imposed upon the prophet, and how he was obliged to avoid all appearance of mercenary service. 1 Kings xiii. 16 sqq. also refers to this particular.

(7) The Second Book of Kings makes no mention of schools of the prophets after the accession of Jehu. Their cessation is probably connected with the turn taken by prophecy in the northern kingdom after the death of Elisha (see § 175).

SECOND PERIOD.

FROM JEHU TO THE OVERTHROW OF THE KINGDOM OF THE

TEN TRIBES (884-720 B.C.).

$ 175.

The Dynasty of Jehu. Jehu's dynasty maintained itself on the throne for more than a century, a longer period of occupation than that of any other. Jehu's reformation stopped half-way. The worship of Baal was indeed extirpated, but the illegal worship at Dan and Bethel, and also the Asherah (grove, A. V.) at Samaria, were left unmolested (2 Kings xiii. 6). Hence Jehu's house was, according to the prophetic word, 2 Kings x. 30, to possess the throne to the fourth generation, but then to be in its turn condemned, and to have the blood-guiltiness of extirpating Omri's dynasty avenged upon it (see Hos. i. 4)(1). The state of the kingdom under Jehu, and still more under his son and successor Jehoahaz, was in a political aspect a very unfortunate one ; for Hazael, who had been raised according to prophecy to the throne of Damascus as a Divine scourge to Israel, repeatedly and successfully invaded the land, treating with

especial harshness the provinces east of Jordan (Amos i. 3), which were for some time subject to the kingdom of Damascus. During this period of political oppression, the opposition of the prophets was withdrawn; nay, when the kingdom was reduced to the last exremity, it was by the mouth of the prophets that Divine deliverance was once more announced, the dying Elisha first promising to the dejected Joash, the son and successor of Jehcahaz, victory over the Syrians (2 Kings xiii. 14 sqq.), and Jonah the son of Amittai subsequently predicting the restoration of the ancient boundaries of the kingdom (xiv. 25) (2). Joash was successful in his wars against Damascus and Judah; but the glory of the kingdom was still further enhanced under his valiant son Jeroboam 11. (825–784), who not only restored the ancient limits of the kingdom, but even conquered a portion of Syria. External success, however, effected no internal change; on the contrary, its internal corruption continuing to increase, it was during the period in which, to human eyes, it was attaining a hitherto unparalleled prosperity, that the state, together with its royal house, was hastening towards those judgments which the prophets Amos and Hosea were raised up under Jeroboam 11. to proclaim. First, it was the shepherd of Tekoa who came from Judah and testified to the tyrannical nobles of Samaria, revelling in proud security, and to the multitude trusting in their mistaken and hypocritical piety, the approach of the day of the Lord (Amos v. 10 sqq., vi. 1-6) (3). Afterwards, probably towards the end of Jeroboam the Second's reign, Hosea appeared; and when the respite granted by the prophetic word, 2 Kings x. 30, to the house of Jehu had nearly expired, he announced first to the latter, and then to the kingdom of Samaria in general, that judgment was now at hand, and continued his testimony during the terrible times beginning with Jeroboam's death.

(1) I at least can but esteem this the correct esplanation of, “I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu," Hos. i. 4.

(2) The same Jonah of whom we read in the well-known book bearing his name. This prophecy is no longer extant; and it is not a very happy supposition on the part of Hitzig, that Isa. xv. is the production of the prophet Jonah.

(3) There was no lack of religious zeal among the multitudes. Pilgrimages were made to Bethel, to Gilgal, nay, even to Beersheba in the south (Amos v. 5, comp. with viii. 14); sacrifices were offered, tenths paid, and public proclamations for free-will offerings made (iv. 4 sq.); and it was thought that the Divine protection might be boasted of (v. 14), and the Divine judgments whose approach the prophet announced derisively mocked (ver. 18), because religion was supposed to be in a flourishing condition.

$ 176.

From Zachariah to the carrying away of the Ten Tribes.

That struggle between the Eastern and Western world, the first object of which was the possession of Syria, Phænicia, and Palestine, began in the eighth century B.C., with the conflicts between Egypt and Assyria. Hence Amos, ch. i. sq., sees the Divine judgments rolling like a storm over all these countries, and settling with threatening violence upon the kingdom of Samaria. Assyria is, though not expressly named by this prophet, vi. 14, the nation alluded to as the instrument of the Divine chastisement. After the death of Jeroboam, dreadful disorders broke out in Samaria; see the description relating thereto in Hos. iv. If the chronological statements concerning the reigns of the monarchs of both kingdoms have been correctly transmitted, an interregnum in Samaria of from ten to twelve years' duration must be admitted. A comparison of several passages in Hosea and the Books of Kings shows that a dissension had arisen between the eastern and western portions of the kingdom, and that pretenders to the crown from these different parts were contending with each other. Zachariah the son of Jeroboam fell a victim to a conspiracy six months after his accession, and thus was fulfilled the doom prophesied against his house. Shallum, the murderer of Zachariah, was himself slain, after a reign of one month, by Menahem (771 B.C.), 2 Kings xv. 13 sqq. The horrors of these days are depicted by Hosea, ch. vii. (1). Many also refer Zech. xi. 8 to this period, because the short space of one month saw three kings; but in this case another pretender to the crown, not mentioned in the historical books, would have to be admitted (2). A decided turn was now, however, given to affairs; for Menahem smoothed the way for Pul, king of Assyria, to enter the country, and thus laid the foundation of Israel's dependence on Assyria. Whether, as is the most natural view of 2 Kings xv. 19, he himself called in the assistance of that monarch for the

purpose of establishing him on the throne amidst the strife of parties, or whether it was the opposite party that invoked his aid (3), Menahem purchased Pul's assistance in confirming him in the kingdom by heavy sacrifices, and this was the first stage of the threatened judgment (4). Israel had now placed itself upon the theatre of universal history, but only that, instead of being chastised by lesser and neighbouring nations, it might be visited by the oppressions of those universal monarchies which were chosen to be the instruments of Divine judgments, and then, when they had subserved the Divine purpose, themselves to perish, according to that law of the Divine government described especially by Isaiah, ch. x. 5. In Samaria was henceforth developed that unhappy policy which, while on the one hand courting the Assyrians, was on the other secretly combining with Egypt for the purpose of throwing off, by her assistance, the Assyrian yoke. In opposition to such diplomatic intrigues, the prophets made it their business to inculcate a higher policy, by a consistent assertion of the theocratic principle, which was simply this, that Israel should never court the protection of a worldly power, but seek assistance from God alone, whom they must, however, also fear as the

« AnteriorContinuar »