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Jehoram should have begotten many children before he was eighteen years old, or that having (as he had) many wives and children, he should upon the sudden, at his eighteenth year, become unfruitful, and beget no more in twenty years following; each of which must have been true, if this were true that Ahaziah was the same Jehoahaz, which was his; youngest son. But this inconvenience is taken away, and those other doubts arising from the causeless cruelty of Athaliah, in seeking the life of Joash, are easily cleared, if Joash and Jehoahaz were one. Neir ther doth his age withstand this opinion, for he was 1 seven years old when he began to reign8;' which if we understand of years complete, he might have been a year old at the death of Jehoram, being be
fotten somewhat after the beginning of his sickness. Jeither is it more absurd to say that he was the natural son of Jehoram, though called the son of Ahaziah, than it were to say, as great authors have done, this difficulty notwithstanding, that he was of the posterity of Nathan. One thing, indeed, 1 know not now to answer; which, had it concurred with the rest, might have served as the foundation of this opinion. The name of Jehoahaz, that soundeth much more near to Joash than to Ahaziah, in an English ear, doth in the Hebrew, (as I am informed by some skilful in that language,) through the diversity of certain letters, differ much from that which it most resembleth in our western manner of writing, and little from the other. Now although it be so that Ahaziah himself be also called Azariah9, and must have had three names, if he were the same with Jehoahaz; in which manner Joash might also have had several names; yet because I find no other warrant hereof than a bare possibility, I will not presume to build an opinion upon the weak foundation of mine own conjecture, but leave all to the consideration of such
8 2 Chron. xzir. I. 9 2 Chron. xxii, S. -'
Vol. III. R
as have more ability to judge, and leisure to consider pf this point.
(4T) Upon what reasons Athaliah might seek to destroy Joas/i, if he were her own grandchild.
If therefore we shall follow that which is commonly received, and interpret the text according to the letter, it may be said that Athaliah was not only blinded by the passions of ambition and zeal to her idolatrous worship of Baalim, but pursued the accomplishment of some natural desires, in seeking the destruction of her grandchild, and the rest of the blood-royal. For whether it were so that Athaliah, (as prouQ and cruel women are not always chaste,) had imitated the liberty of Jezebel, her sister-in-law, whose whoredoms were upbraided hy Jehu to her son10; or whether she had children by some former husband, before she was married unto Jehoram, (which is not unlikely in regard of her age, who was daughter of Omri, and sister to Ahab,) certain it is, that she had sons of her own, and those old enough to be employed, as they were, in robbing of the temple. So it is not greatly to be wondered at, that, to settle the crown upon her own children, she did seek to cut off, by wicked policy, all other claims. As for Joash, if she were his grandmother, yet she might mistrust the interest which his mother would have in him, lest when he came to years it might withdraw him from her devotion. And hereof (be-, sides that women do commonly better love their daughters husbands than their sons wives) there is some appearance in the reign of her son: for she made him spend all his time in idle journies, to no other apparent end than that she might rule at home, and he, living abroad, be estranged from his wife, and entertain some new fancies, wherein Jezebel had cunning enough to be his tutoress. But when the sword of Jehu had rudely cut in sunder all these fin©
f 10 Kings ix. «2.
devices, then was Athaliah fain to go roundly to -work, and do as she did, whereby she thought to make all sure. Otherwise, if (as I could rather think) she were only step-dame to Joash, we need not seek into the reasons moving her to take away his life; her own hatred was cause enough to dispatch him among the first
A digression, wherein is maintained the Tiberty of using conjecture in histories.
Thus much concerning the person of Joash, from whom, as from a new root, the tree of David was propagated into many branches, In handling of which matter, the more I consider the nature of this history, and the diversity between it and others, the . less methinks I need to suspect mine own presumption, as deserving blame for curiosity in matter of doubt, or boldness in liberty of conjecture. For all histories do give us information of human counsels • and events, as far forth as the knowledge and faith of the writers can afford; but of God's will, by which all things are ordered, they speak only at random, and many times falsely. This we often find in prophane writers, who ascribe the ill success of great undertakings to the neglect of some impious rites, whereof God indeed abhorred the performance as vehemently as they thought him to be highly offended with the omission. Hereat we may the less wonder, if we consider the answer made by the Jews in Egypt, unto Jeremiah the prophet, reprehending their idolatry. For, howsoever the written law of God was known unto the people, and his punishments laid upon them for contempt thereof were very terrible, and even then but newly executed; yet were they so obstinately bent upon their own - wills, that they would not by any means be drawn to acknowledge the true cause of their affliction.
But they told the prophet roundly, that they would worship the queen of heaven, as they and their fathers, their kings and their princes had used to do; 'for then, said they, had we plenty of victuals, and * were well, and felt no evil':' Adding, that all manner of misery were befallen them since they left off that service of the queen of heaven. So blind is the wisdom of man, in looking into the counsel of God, which to find out there is no better or other guide than his own written will, not perverted by vain additions.
But this history of the kings of tsrael and Judah hath herein a singular prerogative above all that have been written by the most sufficient of merely human authors. It setteth down expressly the true and first causes of all that happened; not imputing the death of Ahab to his over-forwardness in battle, the ruin of his family to the security of Jeroboam in Jezreel, nor the victories of Hazael to the great commotioBS raised in Israel, by the coming in of Jehu; but referring all unto the will of God, I mean, to his revealed will; from which, that his hidden purposes do not vary, this story, by many great examples, t gives most notable proof, True it is, that the concurrence of second causes with their effects, is in these books nothing largely described; nor perhaps exactly in any of those histories that are in these points most copious. For it was well noted by that worthy gentleman Sir Philip Sidney*, that historians do borrow of poets, not only much of their ornament, but somewhat of their substance. Informations are "often false, records not always true, and notorious actions commonly insufficient to discover the passions which did set them first on foot. Wherefore they are fain (I speak of the best, and in that which is allowed,-—for to take out of Livy every one circumstance of Claudius, his journey against Asdrubal in Italy, fitting all to another business, or any prac*
1 Jtr. xliv. 17, IS. 2 Sir Philip Sidney, in his Ajnlogy for Poeirf.
tice of that kind, is neither historical nor poetical;) to search into the particular humours of princes, and of those who have governed their affections, or the instruments by which they wrought, from whence they do collect the most likely motives or impediments of every business; and so figuring, as near to the life as they can imagine, the matter in hand, they judiciously consider the defects in counsel, or obliquity in proceeding.
Yet all this, for the most part, is not enough to give assurance, howsoever it may give satisfaction* lor the heart of man is unsearchable; and princes, howsoever their intents be seldom hidden from some of those many eyes which pry both into them, and into such as live about them, yet Sometimes either by their own close temper, or by some subtle mist, they conceal the truth from all reports. Yea, many times the affections themselves lie dead, and buried in oblivion, when the preparations which they begat are converted to another use. The industry or in, historian having so many things to weary it, may well be excused, when, finding apparent cause enough of things done, it forbeareth to make further search j though it often fall out, where sundry occasions, work to the same end, that one small matter in a Weak mind is more effectual than many that seem far greater* So comes it many times to pass, that great fires, winch consume whole houses of towns, begin with a few straws that are wasted, or not seen, when the flame is discovered, having fastened upon some wood pile, that catcheth all about it. Questionless it is, that the war commenced by Darius, and pursued by Xerxes against the Greeks, proceeded from a desire of the Persians to enlarge their empire; howsoever the enterprise of the Athenians upon Sardes, w,as noised abroad as the ground of that quarrel; yet Herodotus3 telleth usj that the wanton desire of queen Atossa, to have the