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tioned whether ever monarch or man entered upon life with so much promise, who departed under the shadow of a deeper gloom. Invested with every attribute of mind necessary to form a great character, with wisdom, a special gift of Heaven, he stood out in his youth as a meteor-mind among the children of men. In the science of government he was taught of God; and, grasping the mighty elements of his people and country, he raised both to the highest pitch of greatness. Although one thousand and four of his poems have perished, the solitary remnant entitles him to a high degree of poetic fame. His natural philosophy was not confined to a mere acquaintance with the different kinds of animals and plants: he had penetrated the secrets of their nature, dived into the recesses of their being, and explored and exhibited a world of truth for the instruction of his generation. Much of this, too, has perished; but enough remains to justify our remark. As a moral philosopher, few in our world will stand higher than the author of Ecclesiastes, and still fewer evince a wider range of knowledge than is presented to us in the Proverbs. Yet, with all these advantages, this fairest specimen of humanity prostrated his noble powers, and died without honour. Perhaps in no other instance do we so clearly see the paralyzing effects of unfaithfulness to God and vicious pursuits upon the judgment, the heart, and the character. His insatiable thirst for pomp and parade led him to grasp, as a royal privilege, commercial resources, which, if thrown open to his people, under wise encouragement and protection, would have laid the foundation of durable national greatness. His gorgeous buildings, golden shields, and unequalled array of unlimited magnificence, were bought too dear, when the judgment of the wisest of his people frowned condemnation on his pride, and the affections of his best subjects were alienated by seeing him purchase the most unnecessary, extravagant, and unheard-of gratifications at the expense of their peace, privation, and labour. This state of things could only arise out of his flagrant unfaithfulness to God. We shall speak of this in another place; and therefore simply remark that, knowing;
as Solomon did, the great purpose of Jehovah in the redemp. tion and establishment of the Jewish people, it is beyond every thing marvellous that he should have countenanced and supported idolatry. This sealed his doom, poisoned the life-blood of his political power, and, gathering the gloom of death over the last years of his reign, made that period the type and the prelude of all the humiliation, wretchedness, and woe which afterwards fell upon the Jewish people.
After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne. But while the people prepared for his inauguration, they preferred a mild, modest, and reasonable plea for a reform in the administration of the government. They said, “Thy father made our yoke grievous : now therefore ease thou somewhat the grievous servitude of thy father, and his heavy yoke that he put upon us, and we will serve thee.” (2 Chron x. 4.) The young king commanded them to come again in three days for his reply. In the mean time he consulted the aged counsellors of the late king, who advised him to conciliate his people with good words. This counsel not being agreeable to Rehoboam, he next advised with young men, who had been brought up with him; and their advice was, “Thus shalt thou answer the people that spake unto thee, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. For whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke : my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” (Verses 10, 11.) This rash and unreasonable course was pursued; and when the young sovereign gave his reply, the people of the ten tribes immediately retired, proclaiming their determination to abjure the rule of the house of David. As had been predicted, this revolt was complete and successful. When Rehoboam sent his collector to receive the taxes from these tribes, they stoned him to death ; and afterward Rehoboam having assembled an army to reduce them to subjection, the Lord sent a prophet to forbid the people from marching against their brethren. So Rehoboam was compelled to limit his rule to Judah and Benjamin, while Jeroboam, whom they had invited from Egypt, reigned over the other ten tribes.
· The progress of this people from the accession of Saul to the division of the kingdom, presents to us not only a deeply interesting chapter of Hebrew history, but au equally remarkable portion of the interposition of God in human affairs. We have seen how the Divine purpose to establish a pure theocracy failed through the unfaithfulness of the people. The establishment of a limited monarchy succeeded : a monarchy limited, not by constitutional rule or popular representation, but by Divine law and Divine interposition. The events which have passed under our notice give us the issue of this new experiment. And what is the result? We have seen how, by the protection and blessing of Heaven upon the daring energy of David, and the mighty genius of Solomon, Israel rose to unexampled prosperity and power. When, in any age, did a people occupying so limited a territory, in so short a time rise to such eminence in martial prowess, the science of government, learned distinction, and commercial prosperity? What means all this? Does it not teach us, that if, under these new circumstances, Israel had been faithful to God, he could and would have made them, not only the greatest nation upon earth, but the medium through which he would dispense the blessings of his providence and the riches of his grace to all mankind ? But for the reign of Solomon, we should never have seen the adaptation of the Hebrew territory to secure national distinction. Under his sway it stands before us as the centre of the world's religion and civilization, and as displaying elements of greatness, and agencies of usefulness, of unspeakable grandeur and extent. But as, in the former case, the unfaithfulness of the people blasted their hopes and ruined Israel, so here, the infidelity and licentiousness of the sovereign covered him with infamy, and hurled his nation into ruin. We wonder to see Israel so suddenly rise to opulence and power, so readily stretch forth her hands, and grasp the commerce of the world. Alas! the rapidity of Israel's elevation is only equalled by the suddenness of her fall, and the depth of her disaster. And as a great master of strategy will effect the greatest results by the smallest manæuvre, so Divine Providence here accomplishes the prostration of Israel by unexpected and apparently unimportant means. Ten tribes revolt, and make an able and energetic young man their king; while a wandering prince obtains sufficient power to wrest Syria from the dominion of Israel. These objects are secured without the desolations of war, or any important national humiliation or loss; and at first we do not see why these circumstances should greatly affect Hebrew prosperity. Yet, unimportant as these changes appear, the hand of Heaven had produced them, and they were pregnant with terrible consequences. The division of the kingdom not only destroyed Hebrew unity, but ruined Hebrew commerce. By isolating Ezion-geber, Petra, and Jerusalem from Tyre, and cutting off all direct communication with Phenicia, it consequently became impossible to continue that maritime commerce with the East which had poured a flood of wealth into Israel. The same means gradually destroyed the overland traffic with Arabia, so that the kingdom of Judah lost her commercial status at once. But it may be said, “ Israel still possessed the advantage of Phenician connexion.” Yes ; but to little purpose : for, Israel being unable to keep Syria in subjection, this new power interposed its authority between Baalbec and Palmyra ; and all the Babylonish trade became, in consequence, subject to Syrian control, and therefore lost to Israel. Thus by these two means did consequences result to the Hebrews more terrible than any political convulsion, more ruinous than any defeat in war. The whole system of commercial polity, which Solomon had contrived with so much wisdom, and brought into successful operation, and which, like a net-work of arteries, diffused life and wealth among the Hebrew people, was in this way severed by the hand of Jehovah, and national decay and commercial ruin were the results. We shall henceforth have to consider the Hebrew people as divided into two minor states.
NOTES. A, page 251.—The Sin and Punishment of Beth-shemesh. THERE can be no doubt that this sin consisted in the prying curiosity of these persons; who had forgotten that these sacred things were in the immediate care of God, and that, being consecrated to him, it was profane in them to doubt his protecting care; and still more so, to open the holy ark. The principal difficulty in this passage, however, is the statement given in the authorized version respecting the number of men slain on this occasion: “Even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men.” (1 Sam. vi. 19.) The improbability that so large a number of men as is here specified could have been slain out of the population of a small country town, has been admitted on all hands; and various ingenious efforts have been made to make the text speak some other meaning. Bochart proposed to insert the preposition o, "out of;" and thus to read, “seventy men, (to wit,) fifty OUT OF a thousand.” Le Clerc proposes the same unauthorized addition in another place; thus rendering the text, “Seventy men out of fifty thousand.” Bishop Patrick adopts Bochart's rendering, as most “reasonable.” Kennicott gives a literal translation of the Hebrew text; thus: “And he smote among the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked into the ark of Jehovah; even he smote among the people SEVENTY MEN, FIFTY THOUSAND MEN.” This learned Hebraist, in a very lengthened argument, seems to show, that of these two numbers one is an interpolation : it will be perceived, they are not joined by a conjunction, as would be “absolutely necessary, in order to make of the two one sum total.” And, having inferred that one of these numbers has been erroneously inserted into the text, he concludes, as fifty thousand appears to be a very improbable number, that “seventy” was the correct reading.
In support of this it is urged, that Josephus has precisely this number. “But the anger and indignation of God pursued them ; so that he slew seventy men of the village of Beth-shemesh.” (“ Antiquities,” lib. vi. cap. i. sect. 4.) A similar number is found in the sacred text in an old manuscript of particular excellence, between five and six hundred years old, in the University of Oxford ; which has, “ He smote among the people seventy men, and the people lamented.” Nor is this the only instance in which old manuscripts retain the number seventy, omitting entirely the fifty thousand.
But what appears decisive as to the meaning of the text, is the fact that, after recording this destruction, the sacred writer proceeds to say, that “the people lamented,” and “the men of Beth-shemesh ” sent a message to Kirjath-jearim. Now, if fifty thousand men had been slain, the people could not have remained, the men would not have been alive. The context, therefore, renders it indisputable, that the smaller number (seventy) was originally in the text alone, and gives the meaning of the sacred writer: in what manner the alteration was introduced, it is not necessary to decide.
, B, page 252.-Samuel and the Philistines. It is not easy to define the exact import of this text. A few years after the event here recorded, we find the Philistines holding garrisons