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THIS VOLUME, like that which preceded it, contains - the substance of Lectures delivered from the Chair of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Oxford. Whilst still disclaiming, as before, any pretensions to critical or linguistic research, I gladly acknowledge my increased debt to the scholars and divines who have traversed this ground: Ewald, in his great work on the ‘History of the People
of Israel,' to which I must here add his no less important work on the Prophets; Dean Milman, in his ‘History of “the Jews,' now republished in its completer form ; Dr. Pusey's Commentary on the Minor Prophets ;' the numerous writers on the Old Testament, in Dr. Smith’s ‘Dictionary
of the Bible'-Mr. Grove, especially, to whom I am once more indebted for his careful revision of the text of this volume, and for frequent suggestions of which I have constantly availed myself.? Many thoughts have, doubtless, been confirmed or originated by Mr. Maurice’s Sermons on the • Prophets and Kings.'
i For rarious illustrations of the manners and customs, I must express my obligations to the kindness of Mr. Morier, who has allowed me the use of a Bible, copiously annotated by his brother, the well-known minister at the court of Persia, from his own personal experience of the East.
The topography of Jerusalem, which occupies so large a space in this period
of the history, demands further notice than I have given to it. But the extreme uncertainty in which--till further excavations are possible--it is of necessity involved, has withheld me from offering any detailed plan or theory, either of the City or Temple, beyond such general indications as can be gathered from the ancient descriptions.
The general principles which have guided the selection of topics, and the general sources from which the materials are drawn, are too similar to those which I have set forth in the Preface to my former volume to need any additional remark.
A few special observations, however, are suggested by the peculiarities of the portion of the history on which we now enter.
1. Although there still remains the same difficulty, which occurs in the earlier period, of distinguishing between the poetical and the historical portions of the narrative, yet the historical element here so far preponderates, and the mass of unquestionably contemporary literature is so far larger, that I have ventured much more freely than before to throw the Lectures into the form of a continuous narrative; believing that thus best the Sacred History would be enabled to speak for itself. There are, doubtless, many passages in which the historical facts and the Oriental figures are too closely interwoven to be at this distance of time easily separated. There are others which bring out more distinctly than in the earlier history the interesting variations between the Hebrew text which is the basis of our modern versions, and that which is represented by the Septuagint. Others again, especially where we have the advantage of comparing the parallel narratives of the Books of Kings and of Chronicles, exhibit diversities which cannot be surmounted, except by an arbitrary process of excision, which we are hardly justified in adopting, and which would obliterate the value of the separate records. In chronology, even after the reign of Solomon, the same confusions which occur in other ancient histories occur here also. Lord Arthur Hervey, whose praiseworthy devotion to this branch of Biblical study gives peculiar weight to his authority, finds the dates so unmanageable as to suggest to him the probability that they are added by another hand. Others, such as Mr. Fynes Clinton, Mr. Greswell,
and Dr. Pusey,' adopt the course of rejecting as spurious the indications of time which, from internal evidence, they cannot reconcile with what seems to be required by the history.
Still on the whole the substantially historical character of the narrative is admitted by all. Even the chronological? uncertainties, considerable as they are, are compressed within comparatively narrow limits. The constant references of the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles to records which, though lost, were evidently contemporary, furnish a guarantee for the general truthfulness of the narrative, such as no other ancient history not itself contemporary can exhibit. The parallel stream of Prophetic literature gives a wholly independent confirmation of the same kind, in some instances extending even to incidents which are preserved to us only in the later Chronicles 3 and Josephus. The allusions to Jewish history in the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments—so far as they can be trusted--and the undoubted recurrence of the same imagery in the sculptures as that employed by the Prophets are valuable as illustrations of the Biblical history even where they cannot be used as confirmations of it. Jewish and Arabian traditions relating to this period, if less striking, are at least more within the bounds of probability, and more likely to contain some grains of historical truth than those which relate to the Patriarchal age. And as before, so now, even when of unquestionably late origin, they seem to be worthy of notice,
See, for example, 2 Kings xxiv. 8; 2 Chr, xxxvi. 9; Dr. Pusey's note on Daniel the Prophet, p. 313.
As the nearest approximation, I have affixed the most important dates from Clinton's Fasti Hellenici, vol. i. Appendix, c. 5.
* E.g. in the earthquake of Uzziah's reign (see Lecture XXXVII.), and the captivity of Manasseh (see Lecture XXXIX.).
These monuments cannot properly be said to contain confirmations of the Jewish history—because, with very few exceptions, the only events in that history to which they refer are such as hare never been doubted by any one, and therefore are much more in a condition to give their weight to the confessedly doubtful interpretation of the cuneiform inscriptions, than to receive any corroboration from it.