« AnteriorContinuar »
relieved, but in vain, by the Babylonian, which made it hold out so well.
What reference these Egyptian matters might have to the imprisonment and enlargement of Manasseh. In what part of his reign Manasseh teas taken prisoner.
Were it certainly known in what year of his reign Manasseh was taken prisoner, and how long it was before he obtained liberty, I think we should find these Egyptian troubles to have been no small occasion both of his captivity and enlargement; God so disposing of human actions, that even they, who intended only their own business, fulfilled only his high > pleasure: for either the civil wars in Egypt, that followed upon the death of Sethon, or the rending of the kingdom, as it were, into twelve pieces, or the war between Psammeticus and his colleagues, or the expedition of Psammeticus into Syria, and the siege of Azotus, might minister unto the Babylonian, either such cause of hope to enlarge his dominion in the south parts, or such necessity of sending an army into those parts to defend his own, as would greatly tempt him to make sure work with the king of Judah. The same occasions sufficed also to procure the delivery of Manasseh after he was taken; for he was taken, (as Josephus hath it',) by subtlety, not by open force; neither did they that apprehended him win his country, but only waste it. So that the Jews having learned wit, by the ill success of their folly in redeeming Amaziah, were like to be more circumspect in making their bargain upon such another accident; and the Babylonian (to whom the Egyptian matters presented more weighty arguments of hope and fear than the little kingdom of Judah could afford,) had no reason to spend his forces in pursuing a small conquest, but as full of difficulty as
1 Joseph. Antiq. 1.10. c. i,
a greater, whereby he should compel his mightiest enemies to come to some good agreement, when, by quitting his present advantage over the Jews, he might make his way the fairer into Egypt.
Now, concerning the year of Manasseh's reign, wherein he was taken prisoner, or concerning his captivity itself, how long it lasted, the scriptures are silent, and Josephus gives no information. Yet I find cited by Torniellus three opinions; the one of Bellarmine, who thinks that Manasseh was taken in the fifteenth year of his reign; the other of the author of the greater Hebrew chronology, who affirms, that it was in his twenty-seventh year ; the third, of Rabbi Kimchi, upon Ezekiel,\vho saith, that he was forty years an idolater, and lived fifteen years after his repentance. The first of these conjectures is upheld by Torniellus, who rejects the second as more improbable, and condemns the third as most false. Yet the reasons alleged by Torniellus in defence of the first, and refutation of the last opinion, are such as may rather prove him to favour the cardinal, as far as he may, (for where need requires he doth freely dissent from him,) than to have used his accustomed diligence in examining the matter before he gave his judgment. Two arguments he brings to maintain the opinion of Bellarmine; the one, that Ammon, the son of Manasseh, is said by Josephus to have followed the works of his father's youth; the other, that had Manasseh grown old in his sins, 'it is not 'like that he should have continued as he did,' in his amendment unto the end of his life. Touching the former of these arguments, I see no reason why the sins of Manasseh might not be distinguished from his repentance in his old age, by calling them ' works * of his youth,' which appeared when he was twelve years old; though it were granted that he continued in them, (according to that of Rabbi Kimchi,) until he was but fifteen years from death. Touching the second,—howsoever it be a fearful thing to cast off unto the last those good motions unto repentance, which we know not whether ever God will offer unto us again; yet were it a terrible hearing, that the sins which are not forsaken before the age of two and fifty years, shall be punished with final impenitency. But, against these two collections of Torniellus, I will lay two places of scripture, whence it may be inferred, as not unlikely, that Manasseh continued longer in his wickedness than Bellarmine hath intimated, if not as long as Rabbi Kimchi hath affirmed. In the second book of Kings, the evil "which Manasseh did is remembered at large, and his repentance utterly omitted; so that his amendment may seem to have taken up no great part of his life, the story of him being thus concluded in the one and twentieth chapter: 4 Concerning the rest of the 1 acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin 'that he sinned, are they not written in the book of
* the Chronicles of the kings of JudahV The other place is in the four and twentieth chapter of the same book, where, in rehearsing the calamities with which that nation was punished in the time of Jehoiakim, the great grand-child of this Manasseh, it is said, 4 Surely by the commandment of the Lord came
* this upon Judah, that he might put them out of
* his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to
* all that he did, and for the innocent blood that he 'shed, (for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood,) 'therefore the Lord would not pardon it3.' Whoso considers well these places, mayfind small cause to pronounce it most false, that the repentance and amendment of Manasseh was no earlier than fifteen years before his death; or, most probable, that when he was twenty-seven years old, he repented, and, ber coming a new man, lived in the fear of God forty years after. I will no longer dispute about this matter, seeing that the truth cannot be discovered. It sufficeth to say, that two years of civil dissension in
2 t Kingi xxx. 17. 3 2 King* uiv. 8, *.
Egypt, fourteen or fifteen years following, wherein that kingdom was weakened by partition of the sovereignty, the war of Psammeticus against his associates, and four and twenty years of the nine and twenty wherein the siege of Azotus continued, being all within the time of Manasseh, did leave no one part of his reign, (after the first fifteen years,) free from the danger of being oppressed by the Babylonian, whose men of war had continual occasions of Visiting his country. All which I will add hereto is this, that the fifteenth of Manasseh was the last year of Sethon in Egypt, and the one and thirtieth of Merodach's reign, or, (accounting from the death of Esarhaddon,) the twentieth; the seven and twentieth of Manasseh was the tenth of the twelve princes, and the three and fortieth of Merodach; his fortieth was the twenty-third of Psammeticus, and the fifth of Nabulassar, the son of Merodach, in Babylon; but which of these was the year of his imprisonment, or whether any other, I forbear to shew mine" opinion, lest I should thereby seem to draw all matters over-violently to my own computation.
This was the first great mastery that the Babylonians had of the kingdom of Judah. For though Ahaz promised tribute to Salmanassar, yet Hezekiah never paid it. True it is, that he hoped to Stay Sennacherib's enterprise against him 4, by presenting him with three hundred talents of silver, and thirty of gold, besides the plate which covered the doors and pillars of the temple. But Manasseh being pressed with greater necessity, could refuse no tolerable conditions that the Babylo
seems, that this was one, (which was indeed a point of servitude,) that he might not hold peace with the Egyptians, whilst they were enemies to Babylon. This appears not only by his fortifying with men of war all the strong cities of Judah after his return,
nian would impose
i 3 Kings xviii.
(which was rather against Psammeticus, whose party he had forsaken, than against the Babylonian, with whom he had henceforth no more controversy,) but likewise, by that opposition, which Josiah made afterwards to Pharaoh Necho, in favour of Nabulassar, which had been against all reason and policy, if it had not been his duty by covenant. Of this, I will speak more in convenient place.
Of the first and second Messenian wars, which were in the reigns of Hezekiah and Manasseh, kings qf Judah.
Now, Concerning such actions as were performed abroad in the world, about these times of Manasseh, the most remarkable were the Messenian wars, which happened in his age ; and being the greatest actions performed in Greece, between the Trojan and Persian wars, deserve not to be passed over with silence.
The first Messenian war began and ended in the days of Hezekiah, the- second in the reign of Manasseh; but to avoid the trouble of interrupting our history, I have thought it best to rehearse them both in this place. Other introduction is needless, than to say, that the posterity of Hercules, driving the issue of Pelops, and the Achaeans, out of their seats, divided their lands between themselves, and erected the kingdoms of Lacedemon, Argos, Messene, and Corinth; all which agreeing well together a while, did afterwards forget the bond of kindred, and sought one another's rtfin with bloody wars, whereef these Messenian were the greatest.
The pretended grounds of the Messenian war are scarce worth remembrance, they were so slight. Ambition was the true cause of it; wherewith the La-* cedemonians were so transported, that any thing served them as a colour, to accomplish their greedy desires: Yet other matter was alledged} namely <