Beelingo.com

Antiquities of the Jews, Vol 2, The

BOOK IX. Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Fifty-Seven Years.—From The Death Of Ahab To The Captivity Of The Ten Tribes.

CHAPTER 1. Concerning Jehoshaphat Again; How He Constituted Judges And, By God's Assistance Overcame His Enemies.

1. When Jehoshaphat the king was come to Jerusalem, from the assistance he had afforded Ahab, the king of Israel, when he fought with Benhadad, king of Syria, the prophet Jehu met him, and accused him for assisting Ahab, a man both impious and wicked; and said to him, that God was displeased with him for so doing, but that he delivered him from the enemy, notwithstanding he had sinned, because of his own proper disposition, which was good. Whereupon the king betook himself to thanksgivings and sacrifices to God; after which he presently went over all that country which he ruled round about, and taught the people, as well the laws which God gave them by Moses, as that religious worship that was due to him. He also constituted judges in every one of the cities of his kingdom; and charged them to have regard to nothing so much in judging the multitude as to do justice, and not to be moved by bribes, nor by the dignity of men eminent for either their riches or their high birth, but to distribute justice equally to all, as knowing that God is conscious of every secret action of theirs. When he had himself instructed them thus, and gone over every city of the two tribes, he returned to Jerusalem. He there also constituted judges out of the priests and the Levites, and principal persons of the multitude, and admonished them to pass all their sentences with care and justice 1 And that if any of the people of his country had differences of great consequence, they should send them out of the other cities to these judges, who would be obliged to give righteous sentences concerning such causes; and this with the greater care, because it is proper that the sentences which are given in that city wherein the temple of God is, and wherein the king dwells, be given with great care and the utmost justice. Now he set over them Amariah the priest, and Zebadiah, [both] of the tribe of Judah; and after this manner it was that the king ordered these affairs.

2. About the same time the Moabites and Ammonites made an expedition against Jehoshaphat, and took with them a great body of Arabians, and pitched their camp at Engedi, a city that is situate at the lake Asphaltiris, and distant three hundred furlongs from Jerusalem. In that place grows the best kind of palm trees, and the opobalsamum. 2 Now Jehoshaphat heard that the enemies had passed over the lake, and had made an irruption into that country which belonged to his kingdom; at which news he was aftrighted, and called the people of Jerusalem to a congregation in the temple, and standing over against the temple itself, he called upon God to afford him power and strength, so as to inflict punishment on those that made this expedition against them [for that those who built this his temple had prayed, that he would protect that city, and take vengeance on those that were so bold as to come against it]; for they are come to take from us that land which thou hast given us for a possession. When he had prayed thus, he fell into tears; and the whole multitude, together with their wives and children, made their supplications also: upon which a certain prophet, Jahaziel by name, came into the midst of the assembly, and cried out, and spake both to the multitude and to the king, that God heard their prayers, and promised to fight against their enemies. He also gave order that the king should draw his forces out the next day, for that he should find them between Jerusalem and the ascent of Engedi, at a place called The Eminence, and that he should not fight against them, but only stand still, and see how God would fight against them. When the prophet had said this, both the king and the multitude fell upon their faces, and gave thanks to God, and worshipped him; and the Levites continued singing hymns to God with their instruments of music.

3. As soon as it was day, and the king was come into that wilderness which is under the city of Tekoa, he said to the multitude, "that they ought to give credit to what the prophet had said, and not to set themselves in array for fighting; but to set the priests with their trumpets, and the Levites with the singers of hymns, to give thanks to God, as having already delivered our country from our enemies." This opinion of the king pleased [the people], and they did what he advised them to do. So God caused a terror and a commotion to arise among the Ammonites, who thought one another to be enemies, and slew one another, insomuch that not one man out of so great an army escaped; and when Jehoshaphat looked upon that valley wherein their enemies had been encamped, and saw it full of dead men, he rejoiced at so surprising an event, as was this assistance of God, while he himself by his own power, and without their labor, had given them the victory. He also gave his army leave to take the prey of the enemy's camp, and to spoil their dead bodies; and indeed so they did for three days together, till they were weary, so great was the number of the slain; and on the fourth day, all the people were gathered together unto a certain hollow place or valley, and blessed God for his power and assistance, from which the place had this name given it, the Valley of [Berachah, or] Blessing.

4. And when the king had brought his army back to Jerusalem, he betook himself to celebrate festivals, and offer sacrifices, and this for many days. And indeed, after this destruction of their enemies, and when it came to the ears of the foreign nations, they were all greatly aftrighted, as supposing that God would openly fight for him hereafter. So Jehoshaphat from that time lived in great glory and splendor, on account of his righteousness and his piety towards God. He was also in friendship with Ahab's son, who was king of Israel; and he joined with him in the building of ships that were to sail to Pontus, and the traffic cities of Thrace 3 but he failed of his gains, for the ships were destroyed by being so great [and unwieldy]; on which account he was no longer concerned about shipping. And this is the history of Jehoshaphat, the king of Jerusalem.

CHAPTER 2. Concerning Ahaziah; The King Of Israel; And Again Concerning The Prophet Elijah.

1. And now Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, reigned over Israel, and made his abode in Samaria. He was a wicked man, and in all respects like to both his parents and to Jeroboam, who first of all transgressed, and began to deceive the people. In the second year of his reign, the king of Moab fell off from his obedience, and left off paying those tributes which he before paid to his father Ahab. Now it happened that Ahaziah, as he was coming down from the top of his house, fell down from it, and in his sickness sent to the Fly, which was the god of Ekron, for that was this god's name, to inquire about his recovery 4 but the God of the Hebrews appeared to Elijah the prophet, and commanded him to go and meet the messengers that were sent, and to ask them, whether the people of Israel had pot a God of their own, that the king sent to a foreign god to inquire about his recovery? and to bid them return and tell the king that he would not escape this disease. And when Elijah had performed what God had commanded him, and the messengers had heard what he said, they returned to the king immediately; and when the king wondered how they could return so soon, and asked them the reason of it, they said that a certain man met them, and forbade them to go on any farther; but to return and tell thee, from the command of the God of Israel, that this disease will have a bad end. And when the king bid them describe the man that said this to them, they replied that he was a hairy man, and was girt about with a girdle of leather. So the king understood by this that the man who was described by the messengers was Elijah; whereupon he sent a captain to him, with fifty soldiers, and commanded them to bring Elijah to him; and when the captain that was sent found Elijah sitting upon the top of a hill, he commanded him to come down, and to come to the king, for so had he enjoined; but that in case he refused, they would carry him by force. Elijah said to him, "That you may have a trial whether I be a true prophet, I will pray that fire may fall from heaven, and destroy both the soldiers and yourself." 5 So he prayed, and a whirlwind of fire fell [from heaven], and destroyed the captain, and those that were with him. And when the king was informed of the destruction of these men, he was very angry, and sent another captain with the like number of armed men that were sent before. And when this captain also threatened the prophet, that unless he came down of his own accord, he would take him and carry him away, upon his prayer against him, the fire [from heaven] slew this captain as well the other. And when, upon inquiry, the king was informed of what happened to him, he sent out a third captain. But when this captain, who was a wise man, and of a mild disposition, came to the place where Elijah happened to be, and spake civilly to him; and said that he knew that it was without his own consent, and only in submission to the king's command that he came to him; and that those that came before did not come willingly, but on the same account;—he therefore desired him to have pity on those armed men that were with him, and that he would come down and follow him to the king. So Elijah accepted of his discreet words and courteous behavior, and came down and followed him. And when he came to the king, he prophesied to him and told him that God said, "Since thou hast despised him as not being God, and so unable to foretell the truth about thy distemper, but hast sent to the god of Ekron to inquire of him what will be the end of this thy distemper, know this, that thou shalt die."

2. Accordingly the king in a very little time died, as Elijah had foretold; but Jehoram his brother succeeded him in the kingdom, for he died without children: but for this Jehoram, he was like his father Ahab in wickedness, and reigned twelve years, indulging himself in all sorts of wickedness and impiety towards God, for, leaving off his worship, he worshipped foreign gods; but in other respects he was an active man. Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared, but so that nobody knew that they died.

CHAPTER 3. How Joram And Jehoshaphat Made An Expedition Against The Moabites; As Also Concerning The Wonders Of Elisha; And The Death Of Jehoshaphat.

1. When Joram had taken upon him the kingdom, he determined to make an expedition against the king of Moab, whose name was Mesha; for, as we told you before, he was departed from his obedience to his brother [Ahaziah], while he paid to his father Ahab two hundred thousand sheep, with their fleeces of wool. When therefore he had gathered his own army together, he sent also to Jehoshaphat, and entreated him, that since he had from the beginning been a friend to his father, he would assist him in the war that he was entering into against the Moabites, who had departed from their obedience, who not only himself promised to assist him, but would also oblige the king of Edom, who was under his authority, to make the same expedition also. When Joram had received these assurances of assistance from Jehoshaphat, he took his army with him, and came to Jerusalem; and when he had been sumptuously entertained by the king of Jerusalem, it was resolved upon by them to take their march against their enemies through the wilderness of Edom. And when they had taken a compass of seven days' journey, they were in distress for want of water for the cattle, and for the army, from the mistake of their roads by the guides that conducted them, insomuch that they were all in an agony, especially Joram; and cried to God, by reason of their sorrow, and [desired to know] what wickedness had been committed by them that induced him to deliver three kings together, without fighting, unto the king of Moab. But Jehoshaphat, who was a righteous man, encouraged him, and bade him send to the camp, and know whether any prophet of God was come along with them, that we might by him learn from God what we should do. And when one of the servants of Joram said that he had seen there Elisha, the son of Shaphat, the disciple of Elijah, the three kings went to him, at the entreaty of Jehoshaphat; and when they were come at the prophet's tent, which tent was pitched out of the camp, they asked him what would become of the army? and Joram was particularly very pressing with him about it. And when he replied to him, that he should not trouble him, but go to his father's and mother's prophets, for they [to be sure] were true prophets, he still desired him to prophesy, and to save them. So he swore by God that he would not answer him, unless it were on account of Jehoshaphat, who was a holy and righteous man; and when, at his desire, they brought him a man that could play on the psaltery, the Divine Spirit came upon him as the music played, and he commanded them to dig many trenches in the valley; for, said he, "though there appear neither cloud, nor wind, nor storm of rain, ye shall see this river full of water, till the army and the cattle be saved for you by drinking of it. Nor will this be all the favor that you shall receive from God, but you shall also overcome your enemies, and take the best and strongest cities of the Moabites, and you shall cut down their fruit trees, 6 and lay waste their country, and stop up their fountains and rivers."

2. When the prophet had said this, the next day, before the sun-rising, a great torrent ran strongly; for God had caused it to rain very plentifully at the distance of three days' journey into Edom, so that the army and the cattle found water to drink in abundance. But when the Moabites heard that the three kings were coming upon them, and made their approach through the wilderness, the king of Moab gathered his army together presently, and commanded them to pitch their camp upon the mountains, that when the enemies should attempt to enter their country, they might not be concealed from them. But when at the rising of the sun they saw the water in the torrent, for it was not far from the land of Moab, and that it was of the color of blood, for at such a time the water especially looks red, by the shining of the sun upon it, they formed a false notion of the state of their enemies, as if they had slain one another for thirst; and that the river ran with their blood. However, supposing that this was the case, they desired their king would send them out to spoil their enemies; whereupon they all went in haste, as to an advantage already gained, and came to the enemy's camp, as supposing them destroyed already. But their hope deceived them; for as their enemies stood round about them, some of them were cut to pieces, and others of them were dispersed, and fled to their own country. And when the kings fell into the land of Moab, they overthrew the cities that were in it, and spoiled their fields, and marred them, filling them with stones out of the brooks, and cut down the best of their trees, and stopped up their fountains of water, and overthrew their walls to their foundations. But the king of Moab, when he was pursued, endured a siege; and seeing his city in danger of being overthrown by force, made a sally, and went out with seven hundred men, in order to break through the enemy's camp with his horsemen, on that side where the watch seemed to be kept most negligently; and when, upon trial, he could not get away, for he lighted upon a place that was carefully watched, he returned into the city, and did a thing that showed despair and the utmost distress; for he took his eldest son, who was to reign after him, and lifting him up upon the wall, that he might be visible to all the enemies, he offered him as a whole burnt-offering to God, whom, when the kings saw, they commiserated the distress that was the occasion of it, and were so affected, in way of humanity and pity, that they raised the siege, and every one returned to his own house. So Jehoshaphat came to Jerusalem, and continued in peace there, and outlived this expedition but a little time, and then died, having lived in all sixty years, and of them reigned twenty-five. He was buried in a magnificent manner in Jerusalem, for he had imitated the actions of David.


1 of 2
2 of 2