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peor, in the land of Moab, remained unknown to the children of Israel (Deut. xxxiv. and Jude v. 9).
See Robinson's Scripture Characters, and Millman's History of the Jews.
2. "State the circumstances which led to the separation of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and the chief events of their subsequent history."
The division of the kingdom, and many disastrous vicissitudes resulting therefrom, are to be traced to the dereliction in conduct that unhappily disgraced and embittered the latter years of King Solomon's reign. As all the calamities brought upon Israel in the time of their judges were providentially designed to exhibit the effects of forsaking the path marked out for them by God; so, for a departure from the paths of his father (1 Kings, xi.), Solomon received the awful intimation that his kingdom would be taken from him, and given to his servant Jeroboam. That the revolts and numerous disturbances in his own reign induced a sincere repentance on the part of Solomon, the book of Ecclesiastes fully testifies. He also acknowledged his folly and the justice of its unaverted punishment in strains of unreserved self-reproval "Thou didst stain thy honour, and pollute thy seed: so that thou broughtest wrath upon thy children, and wast grieved for thy folly."
But the circumstances which more immediately brought about the separation must be looked for in the history of the commencement of the reign of Rehoboam, the successor and sole heir of Solomon. No selfdenial on the part of the people was regarded as a burden when such sacrifice conduced to the splendour and completion of their temple, so ardently looked forward to with emotions of national but holy enthusi
But when the heavy taxes levied by Solomon were no longer applied to this pious purpose, they ceased to be viewed as legitimate imposts, and became the fertile cause of well-grounded complaints. Consequent disaffections from this cause contributed its portion of unpopularity even to the wise Solomon in his latter days; but when Rehoboam menaced, his subjects with a yoke heavier than that his father had imposed, an insurrection was the immediate issue. With ill-advised determination, Rehoboam in vain proceeded to Shechem, and sought the homage of the northern tribes. They appointed Jeroboam to present a violent remonstrance, demanding a redress of grievances. Rehoboam asked the advice of "the old men that stood before Solomon while he lived;" but followed that afterwards given, in opposition, by "the young men that were brought up with him, and stood before him." His haughty and insulting reply to the moderate remonstrance of his subjects caused the immediate alienation of the allegiance of the ten tribes, and he was compelled to flee to the tribe of Judah for refuge. Agreeably to divine pre-arrangement, Judah and Benjamin continued their obedience, and Rehoboam became their first king, under the title of King of Judah, while the "kingdom of Israel" was established, and Jeroboam elected (in accordance with the prophecy of Ahijah) king of the ten tribes (975 B.C.)
Rehoboam levied an army to subdue the revolted tribes; but the Lord sent the prophet Shemaiah to forbid his march. He consequently contented himself with the allegiance of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and Jerusalem remained the capital of his diminished kingdom. As tranquility returned the priests flocked, in great numbers, to the holy city, and to the offices of its temple, and were cordially welcomed by their brethren. Though Solomon had left so many
wholesome lessons and warnings for the guidance of his son, yet he followed evil courses, verifying the prophetic reflection, “Who knoweth whether his son will be a wise man or a fool?" (Eccle. ii. 19). He caused a sad defection from the purity of the national religion, and a great portion of his subjects shared in his guiltthe worship of idols. To punish their idolatry, God caused Shishak, king of Egypt, who had, during Solomon's reign, afforded refuge to Jeroboam, to lead an army against Judah, and to conquer it. Rehoboam purchased some degree of forbearance from the Egyptians with the richest treasures of which the temple and the palace could be stripped (2 Chron. xii.) This reverse in his limited prosperity produced repentance in Rehoboam; but on the removal of the Egyptian invaders he returned to his former impieties, and died after an inglorious reign of 17 years.
Jeroboam, whose reign was one of still more hardened iniquity, outlived Rehoboam by five years, and Abijah, the second king of Judah, by two years. But the whole reign of Jeroboam presents an uninterrupted chain of calamitous vicissitudes, and an almost unbroken course of warfare with his rival contemporaries of Judah. During his period of exile in Egypt, the sympathies, manners, and religion of Jeroboam were much modified; and although elected by the people to his high office, he feared that the intercourse which their common religion must occasion between the kingdoms would be the means of transferring the allegiance of his subjects to their legitimate sovereign, the descendant of David. Hence, instead of allowing the people to go to Jerusalem to worship and sacrifice, he set up a golden calf in each of two distant parts of the land, Dan and Bethel, and taught Israel an admixture of worship composed of Egyptian idolatry and the ceremonials of the Mosaic law, selecting priests from the lowest of his
subjects. As a visible token of displeasure, God sent a prophet to announce to Jeroboam that a descendant of David, Josiah, should burn upon the altar of the idolatrous worship the bones of those who had assumed the garb and office of priests. In proof that the prophet's was no ordinary message, he foretold that the altar should be rent asunder, and the ashes poured out, both of which were immediately fulfilled. Jeroboam, burning with resentment, stretched out his hand to lay hold of the prophet, when it instantly withered: but, by the intercession of the man of God, it was restored again. Notwithstanding his being thus forewarned, he continued his evil career till the defeat of the Israelites, by Abijah, and did not long survive that great reverse. After a reign of twenty-two years, Jeroboam was succeeded by his son, Nadab, whose imitation of the evil courses of his father was cut short at the end of two years, by assassination. Thus terminated the house of Jeroboam, in accordance with the prophecy of Abijah.
But the extermination of the house of Israel's first sovereign-although so plainly a visitation of God's wrath upon him and his son, for introducing and fostering idolatry-did not effect the re-establishment of pure worship. The whole seventeen who succeeded Nadab followed, more or less, in the steps of Jeroboam, and maintained the idolatry he had established at Dan and Bethel. Baasha, actuated by the same jealous fears as those which had induced Jeroboam to erect his idol temple, would not allow his subjects to attend the religious festivals at Jerusalem, and built a fortress at Ramah, in order to intercept those who attempted to visit the holy city. Elah succeeded his father; but fell by the hand of Zimri, as Nadab had fallen by that of Baasha. Zimri's usurpation continued only seven days, at the end of which he perished in the
flames of his own kindling, in a fit of despair at the prospect of falling into the power of his rival, Omri. Although against Omri is recorded, that “he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him," he was succeeded by a son still more wicked. Great as had been the sufferings of the people of Israel, in consequence of electing wicked rulers, they were visited by a more signal manifestation of God's displeasure. The daring impiety of Ahab, and the ready acquiescence of his people in the profanations and superstitions which he, at the instigation of his wife, Jezebel, set up in the palace of the national religion, provoked the retribution of their forsaken and only true God, who visited the land with a drought of three years' continuance, and a grievous famine. The miracles and teaching of the prophet Elijah, illustrated this reign of unprecedented corruptions; and his translation to heaven without tasting the pains of death, as in the case of Enoch, afforded his contemporaries, in an age of gross and wilful spiritual blindness, a striking memento of the high destiny to which they may aspire, though they may not expect exemption from death, who live in holy obedience to their Creator. Ahab was killed in battle with the Syrians, as had been foretold to him by Micaiah the prophet. His sons, Ahaziah and Jehoram, each filled the throne for a short period, when Jehu completed the series of divine judgments against the apostate and hardened house of Ahab, by putting them all to death, and assuming the government. His partial reforms were nullified in the reign of his son, Jehoahaz, whose wickedness was punished by the oppressions of the Syrians, till the anger of God was averted by the repentance of Jehoahaz and his people. Joash, the next king, was successful in curbing the rapacity and ambition of his Syrian neighbours. Jeroboam concluded