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wise enough, at first, to render, he began upon other works, and submitted his heart to contrary desires; fortifying the city for his own strength, and rearing the palace to his own magnificence. Nor was Solomon content with the greater power he obtained or the more lavish pomp in which he lived at home. He sought to extend his dominion over neighbouring nations, and sent his ships, or those of his Phoenician ally, Hiram, to bear his name afar and to bring him back the riches of distant lands. In these pursuits, so managed, apparently, as to endanger faith, justice, and independence, the degradation of the king and of his people was accomplished: sun, moon, and stars, in the very language of Solomon, were darkened, and the clouds returned after the rain. It did not seem that the Jews could cross their boundaries without losing somewhat of the spirit which marked and which became them; nor was it possible that they should serve a monarch whose ambition required their complete submission, without forgetting the God to whom their fathers were kept faithful by the belief that in Him alone resided authority and majesty. Rehoboam succeeded to an inheritance which could have been transmitted only amongst a changed and a sinful nation; and his first words were those of a tyrant: — “My father,” he said, “chastised with whips, but I will chastise with scorpions.” The offspring of despotism like this was such as would have been anywhere conceived and born. Of the twelve Tribes, hitherto closely or feebly united, ten were soon formed into the kingdom of Israel, the other two composing the kingdom of Judah; and the people, whose liberty and whose faith depended upon union, were “scattered upon the hills" from which they could already distinguish the darker doom of conquest and captivity.” It soon became apparent that these calamities were near at hand; yet the memory of times when piety was practised and law was obeyed did not save the Jews from the discord and the wickedness against which they had been forewarned, as well by the mouth of Moses, their most trusted prophet, as in the person of David, their most glorious king. The successive steps through which they were now passing are to be numbered: despotism, disunion, and impiety. That the despotism of Solomon and Rehoboam should have been the first step of the three is another sign that the religion and the prosperity of the Jews were immediately connected with their freedom. One light still burned amongst the unfaithful and the miserable nation. It was that of the Prophets, whose figures alone rise out, like signs and watchmen,” above a dusky multitude of kings, priests, princes, and people. One, like Elijah, confronts the idolatrous monarch, and answers him: — “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord.” Another, like Jeremiah, appeals to all his countrymen, in language equally direct and still more solemn: —“Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah. . . . . . If ye thoroughly amend your ways and doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” Such men could not go scathless amongst their people or before their monarchs: Jeremiah was scourged and imprisoned;" and Elijah fled, melancholy and distrustful, into the wilderness.” No outrage, however, could suffocate the breath which they drew in from a higher atmosphere, though there was so little freedom to give it vent upon the earth. When one prophet fell or was precipitated from the height on which he still seems to stand with far-seeing eyes and outstretched arms, another ascended to the post of peril and of inspiration. As years went on, the denunciation of wrongs that were then, and had been before, gave place to the prophecy of blessings that were yet to be; and higher above the ruins rise voices, like Isaiah's, preparing the glory of the Lord,” or, like Daniel's, foretelling the endless kingdom.” The time came when he who bewailed the gates, the bars, the kings, and the princes of Zion, was obliged to confess, with heavier lamentation, that the prophets, of whom he was one, could find no vision.” It was in punishment of countless sins committed, but in mercy towards countless hopes yet unconceived, that the Jews were conquered and swept away into captivity. The kingdom of Israel fell first before the arms of Assyria; and after one hundred and twenty years, the kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon.” Dispersed amongst strangers and oppressors, wasted in numbers, bereft of laws, and shaken in their faith itself, the Jews seemed to have abandoned or lost the charge which had been committed to them. But the tears shed and the harps strung by the rivers of Babylon restored them to the affections they would have for ever forgotten, perhaps, had their luxury and pride and independence been continued. Sixty years after the second captivity, when all the old and most of the young who had been dragged away were dead, a train of exiles was permitted by the Persian king, the conqueror of the other conquerors, to go back to Jerusalem. It was later still, by near a century, that the restoration was completed by the return of others who were still faithful to the traditions of their fathers' homes and their fathers' laws.” To these, indeed, who, though few in num
62 1 Kings, XII. 11.
63 1 Kings, XIV. 15, XI. 39 et 64 Ezekiel, XII. 6, XXIII. 7. seq., XXII. 17. 66 1 Kings, XVIII. 17, 18.
66 Jeremiah, VII.3–7. 69 Isaiah, XL. 3-5. 67 Ibid., XX. 1, 2, XXXII. 2. 70 Daniel, II. 44. 68 1 Kings, XIX. 2 et seq.
71 Jerem., Lamentations, II. 9. 73 The first restoration, according
72 The first captivity (of Israel) to common chronology, was in A. happened in A. C. 721 ; the second C. 536; the second taking place in (of Judah) in 599. 2 Kings, XVII. 457. Ezra, II. 1 et seq., VIII. 1 6, XXIV. 10–16. et seq.
bers” and weak in resources, were yet alive to the majesty of their national history, the Zion they revisited was a paradise within whose gates there were waters which rolled from holy mountains and paths which led to hallowed scenes. Hither they returned with memories and hopes to which many a generation before them would have been insensible; and it was without care for their dependence or their feebleness that they stooped upon their knees to gather the still unfaded promises among the scattered ruins of Jerusalem. The twelve Tribes were nominally reunited and the ancient institutions were nominally restored; but the Jews continued in subjection to Persia until the conquests of Alexander; after whose death, they submitted to his successors in Egypt and Syria; being at one time nearly exterminated by persecution and oppression under the Syrian Antiochus, and then again recovering a brief and turbulent independence under their own heroic Maccabees, only, however, to be bound in, at last, amongst the widespread dominions of Rome. Nevertheless, a national spirit, like that which issued from the severer Egyptian bondage, was formed anew in consequence of the captivity and the restoration, making the people cleave to one another, and persuading them, as an exile himself wrote, on his return, to walk in God's law.”
74 “The whole congregation,” their countrymen. Ezra, II. 64 et
which first returned, was only 42,360 in all; but this number was undoubtedly increased by those who had already straggled back, or been living in Judea during the exile of
seq. The numbers of the second
restoration are not clear. Ezra,
VIII. 1 et seq.