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CHAP XXIII.

OF UZZIAH.

Sect. I. The prosperity of Uzziah, and of Jeroboam the second, - who reigned with him in Israel. Of the anarchy

that was in the ten tribes after the death of Jeroboam, Of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, and Pekahiah.

UZZIAH, who is also called Azariah, the son of Jo. tham, was made king of Judah when he was sixteen years old, in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel. He served the God of his father David, and had therefore good success in all his enterprises. He built Eloth, a town that stood near to the Red sea, and restored it to Judah. He overcame the Philistines, of whose towns he dismantled some, and built others, in sundry parts of their territories. Also he got the mastery over some parts of Arabia, and brought the Ammonites to pay him tribute. Such were the fruits of his prosperous wars, wherein, (as Josephus rehearseth his acts,) he began with the Philistines, and then proceeded unto the Arabians and Ammonites, His army consisted of three hundred and seven thousand men of war, over which were appointed two thousand six hundred captains. For all this multitude the king perpared shields, and spears, and helmets, and other arms requisite ; following therein happily a course quite opposite unto that which some of his late predecessors had held, who thought it better policy to use the ser.

1 2 Chron. xxvi. 14.

yice of the nobility, ihan of the multitude; carrying forth to war, the princes and all the chariots, (2 Chron. xxi. 9.)

As the victories of Uzziah were far more important, than the atchievements of all that had reigned in Judah, since the time of David ; so were his riches and magnificent works equal, if not superior, to any of theirs that had been kings between him and Solomon. For, besides that great conquests are wont to repay the charges of war with triple interest, he had the skill to use, as well as the happiness to get. He turned his lands to the best use, keeping ploughmen and dressers of vines, in grounds convenient for such husbandry. In other places he had cattle feeding, whereof he might well keep great store, having won so much from the Ammonites and Arabians, that had abundance of waste ground serving for pasturage. For defence of his cattle and 'herdsmen, he built towers in the wilderness; he also digged many cisterns or ponds. Josephus calls them water-courses ; but in such dry grounds, it was enough that he found water, by digging in the most likely places. If by these towers he so commanded the water, that none could, without his consent, relieve themselves therewith, questionless he took the only course, by which he might securely hold the lordship over all the wilderness; it being hardly passable, by reason of the extreme drought, when the few springs therein found are left free to the use of travellers.

Besides all this cost, and the building both of Eloth by the Red Sea, and of sundry towns among the Philistines, he repaired the wall of Jerusalem, which Joash had broken down, and fortified it with towers, whereof some were an hundred and fifty cu. bits high.

The state of Israel did never so flourish as at this time, since the division of the twelve tribes into two kingdoms. For as Uzziah prevailed in the south, 60, (if not more,) Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of the ten tribes, enlarged his border on the north; where, obtaining many victories against the Syrians, he won the royal city of Damascus ; and he won Hamath, with all the country thereabout, from the

entering of Hamath, unto the sea of the wilder• ness”;' that is, (as the most expound it,) unto the vast deserts of Arabia, the end whereof was undiscovered. So the bounds of Israel, in those parts, were in the time of this Jeroboam, the same, (or not much narrower,) which they had been in the reign of David,

But it was not for the piety of Jeroboam that he thrived so well; for he was an idolater; it was only the compassion which the Lord had on Israel, seeing the exceeding bitter affiiction, whereinto the Aramites had brought his people, which caused him to alter the success of war, and to throw the victorious Aramites under the feet of those whom they had so cruelly oppressed. The line of Jehu, to which God had promised the kingdom of Israel unto the fourth generation }, was now not far from the end ; and now again it was invited unto repentance, by new benefits, as it had been at the beginning. But the sin of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, was held so precious, that neither the kingdom itself, given to him by God, was able to draw Jehu from that politic idolatry, nor the misery falling upon him and his posterity, to bring them to a better course of religion ; nor yet, at the last, this great prosperity of Jeroboam the son of Joash, to make him render the honour that was due to the only giver of victory. Wherefore the promise of God, made unto Jehu, that his sons, unto the fourth generation, should sit on the thronę of Israel, was not enlarged; but being almost expired, gave warning of the ap, proaching end, by an accident, (so strange, that we, who find no particulars recorded, can hạrdly guess

2 2 Kings xiv. 23, 28. 3 2 Kings x. 13.

at the occasions,) foregoing the last accomplishment.

When Jeroboam, the son of Joash, after a victorious reign of forty-one years, had ended his life, it seems in all reason that Zachariah his son should forthwith have been admitted to reign in his stead ; the nobility of that race having gotten such a lustre by the immediate succession of four kings, that any competitor, had the crown passed by election, must needs have appeared base; and the virtue of the last king, having been so great, as might well serve to lay the foundation of a new house, much more to establish the already confirmed right of a family so rooted in possession. Notwithstanding all this, two or three and twenty years did pass before Zachariah the son of Jeroboam was, by uniform consent, received as king. The true original causes hereof were to be found at Dan and Bethel, where the golden calves did stand; yet second instruments of this disturbance are likely not to have been wanting, upon which the wisdom of man was ready to cast an eye. Probable it is, that the captains of the army, (who afterwards slew one another so fast, that in fourteen years there reigned five kings) did now, by headstrong violence, rent the kingdom asunder, holding each what he could, and either despising or hating some qualities in Zachariah; until, after many years, wearied with dissension, and the principal of them, perhaps, being taken out of the way by death, for want of any other eminent man, they consented to yield all quietly to the son of Jeroboam. That this anarchy lasted almost twenty-three years, we find by the difference of time between the fifteenth year of Uzziah, which was the last of Jeroboam's forty-first, (his twenty-seventh concurring with the first of Uzziah,) and the thirty-eighth of the same Uzziah, in the last six months whereof Zachariah reigned in Samaria. There are some indeed that, by supposing Jeroboam to have reigned with his father blessed thiery young: the may well

eleven years, do cut off the interregnum in Judah, (before-mentioned,) and, by the same reason, abridge this anarchy, that was before the reign of Zachariah in Israel. Yet they leave it twelve years long; which is time sufficient to prove that the kingdom of the ten tribes was no less distempered than as is already noted. But I choose rather to follow the more common opinion, as concurring more exactly with the times of other princes reigning abroad in the world, than this doubtful conjecture, which gives to Jeroboam fifty-two years, by adding three quarters of his father's reign unto his own, which was it. self indeed so long that he may well seem to have begun it very young; for I do not think that God blessed this idolater, both with a longer reign, and with a longer life, than he did his servant David.

This much being spoken of the time wherein the throne of Israel was void, before the reign of Zachariah, little may suffice to be said of his reign itself, which lasted but a little while. Six months only was he king, in which time he declared himself a worshipper of the golden calves; which was enough to justify the judgment of God, whereby he was slain. He was the last of Jehu's house, being (inclusively) the fifth of that line ; which may have been some cause of the troubles impeaching his or. derly succession ; the prophecy having determined that race in the fourth generation. But, (besides that God's promise was extended unto the utmost,) there was no warrant given to Shallum, or to any other, for the death of Zachariah, as had been given to Jehu, for the slaughter of Jehoram, and for the eradication of Ahab's house.

Zachariah having been six months a king, was then slain by Shallum, who reigned after him, the space of a month, in Samaria 4. What this Shallum was, I do not find ; save only that he was a traitor, and the son of one Jabesh, whereby his father got no

4 2 Kings xv. 13.

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