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nor any great reckoning (for ought that we find) made of his escape, I will not stand to examine; for it was not good in policy, that the people should hear say, that one of the children had avoided that cruel blow; it might have made them hearken after innovations, and so be the less conformable to the present government. So Joash was delivered out of that slaughter, he and his nurse being gone no man could tell whither, and might be thought peradventure to be cast away, as having no other guard than a poor woman that gave him suck, who foolishly doubting that she herself should have been slain, was fled away with him into some desolate place, where it was like enough that he and she should perish. In such cases, flatterers, or men desirous of reward, easily coin such tales, and rather swear them to be true in their own knowledge, than they will lose the thanks due to their joyful tidings.
(1.) Whether Joash may be thought likely to have been the so?i of Ahaziah.
Now concerning this Joash', whose son he was, it is a thing of much difficulty to affirm, and hath caused much controversy among writers. The places of scripture, which call him the son of Ahaziah, seem plain enough. How any figure of the Hebrew language might give the title of son unto him, in regard that be was his successor, I neither by myself can find, nor can by any help of authors learn how to answer the difficulties appearing in the contrary opinions of them, that think him to have been, or not, the natural son of Ahaziah. For whereas it is said, that' the house of Ahaziah was not able to retain the 4 kingdom,2' some do infer that this Joash was not properly called his son, but was the next of his kin
1 Kings xi. 2. 3 Chcou. xxii. 11. 2 2 Chron. no, 9.
dred, and therefore succeeded him, as a son in the inheritance of his father. And hereunto the murder committed by Athaliah, doth very well agree. For she, perceiving that the kingdom was to fall into their hands, in whom she had no interest, might easily find cause to fear, that the tyranny exercised by her husband, at her instigation, upon so many noble houses, would now be revenged upon herself. The ruin of her idolatrous religion might in this case terrify both her and her minions; the sentence of the law rewarding that offence with death, and the tragedy of Jezebel teaching her what might happen to another queen. All this had little concerned her, if her own grandchild had been heir to the crown; for she that had power enough to make herself queen, could with more ease, and less envy, have taken upon her the office of a protector, by which authority she might have done her pleasure, and been the more both obeyed by others, and secure of her own estate, as not wanting an heir. Wherefore it was not needful, that she should be so unnatural as to destroy the child of her own son, of whose life she might have made greater use, than she could of his death; whereas indeed the love of grand-mothers to their nephews, is little less than that of mothers to their children.
This argument is very strong; for it may seem incredible, that all natural affection should be cast 'aside, when as neither necessity urgeth, nor any commodity thereby gotten requireth it; yea when ail human policy doth teach one the same, which nature without reason would have persuaded.
(2.) That Joash did not descend from Nathan.
But (as it is more easy to find a difficulty in that which is related, than to shew how it might have otherwise been,) the pedigree of this Joash is, by them which think him not the son of Ahaziah, set down in such sort that it may very justly be suspected. They say that he descended from Nathan the son of David, and not from Solomon; to which purpose they bring a history, (I know not whence,) of two families of the race of David, saying that the line of Solomon held the kingdom, with this condition, that if at any time it failed, the family of Nathan should succeed it. Concerning this Nathan, the son of David, there are that would have him to be Nathan the prophet, who (as they think) was by David adopted. And of this opinion was Origen, as also St. Augustine sometime was; but afterwards he revoked it as was meet: for this Nathan is reckoned among the sons of DavicJ, by Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel3, and therefore could not be the prophet. Gregory Nazianzene, (as l find him cited by Peter Martyr,) and after him Erasmus, and Faber Stapulensis, have likewise held the same of Joash, deriving him from Nathan. But Nathan, and those other brethren of Solomon by the same mother, are thought, upon good likelihoods, to have been the children of Uriah the Hittite; and so are they accounted by sun* dry of the fathers, and by Lyra, and Abulensis, who follow the Hebrew expositors of that place in the first of Chronicles. The words of Solomon, calling himself the only begotten of his mother, do approve this exposition; for we read of no more than two sons which Bathshua or Bathsheba did bear unto David, whereof the one, begotten in adultery, died an infant, and Solomon only of her children by the" king did live. So that the rest must needs have been the children of Uriah, and are thought to have been David's only by adoption. Wherefore if Joash had not been the son of Ahaziah, then must that pedigree have been false, wherein St. Matthew deriveth him lineally from Solomon; yea, then had not our blessed Saviour issued from the loins of David, according to the flesh, but had only been of his line by courtesy of the nation, and form of law, as
any other might have been. As for the authority of Philo, which hath drawn many late writers into the opinion that Joash was not of the posterity of Solomon, it is enough to say that this was Friar Annius's Philo; for no other edition of Philo hath any such matter; but Annius can make authors to speak what he lists.
(3.) That Joash may probably be thought to have been the son of Jehoram.
In So doubtful a case, if it seem lawful to hold an opinion that no man hath yet thought upon, methinks it were not amiss to lay open at once, and peruse together two places of Scripture, whereof the one telling the wickedness of Jehoram4, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, for which he and his children perished, rehearseth it as one of God's mercies towards the house of David, that according to his promise he would ' give him a light, and to his chil* dren for ever:' the other doth say, that for the offences of the same Jehoram,' there was not a son left 'him save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.' Now, if it were in regard of God's promise to David, that, after those massacres of Jehoram upon all his brethren, and of the Philistines and Arabians upon the children of Jehoram, one of the seed of David escaped; why may it not be thought that he was sajd to have escaped, in whom the line of David was preserved ? for had all the race of Solomon been rooted up in these woeful tragedies, and the progeny of Nathan succeeded in place thereof, like enough it is, that some remembrance more particular would have been extant of an event so memorable. That the race of Nathan was not extinguished, it is indeed apparent by the genealogy of our Lord, as it is recounted by St. Luke; but the preservation of the house of David, mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles, was performed in the person of Je
4 2 Kings viii. 19.
hoahaz, in whom the royal branch of Solomon, the natural, and only legal issue remaining of David, was kept alive. Wherefore it may be thought that this Joash, who followed Athaliah in the kingdom, was the youngest son of Jehoram, whose life Athaliah, as a step dame, was not unlikely to pursue. For it were not easily understood, why the preservation of David's line, by God's especial mercy, in regard of his promise made, should pertain rather to that time, when, besides Ahaziah himself, there were two and forty of his brethren5, or (as in another place they are called) sons of his brethren, remaining alive, which afterwards were all slain by Jehu, than have reference to the lamentable destruction6, and little less than extirpation of that progeny, wherein one only did escape. Certainly that inhuman murder which Jehoram committed upon his brethren, if it were (as appeareth in the history) revenged upon his own children, then was not this vengeance of God accomplished by the Philistines and Arabians, but, being only begun by them, was afterwards prosecuted by Jehu, and finally took effect by the hands of that same wicked woman, at whose instigation he had committed such barbarous outrage. And from this execution of God's heavy judgment laid upon Jehoram and all his children7, only Jehoahaz, his youngest son, was exempted; whom therefore if I should affirm to be the same with Joash, which is called the son of Ahaziah, I should not want good probability. Some further appearance of necessity there is, which doth argue that it could no otherwise have been. For it was the youngest son of Jehoram, in whom the race was preserved, which could not in any likelihood be Ahaziah, seeing that he was twenty years old at the least, (as is already noted,) when he began to reign, and consequently was born in the eighteenth or twentieth year of his father's age. Now I know not whether of the two is more unlikely, either that
5 2 Kings x. 13. 6 2 Cbron. xxii. t. 7 2 Chron. xaL 14.