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Antiquities of the Jews, Vol 2, The

CHAPTER 7. How Athaliah Reigned Over Jerusalem For Five [Six] Years When Jehoiada The High Priest Slew Her And Made Jehoash, The Son Of Ahaziah, King.

1. Now when Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, heard of the death of her brother Joram, and of her son Ahaziah, and of the royal family, she endeavored that none of the house of David might be left alive, but that the whole family might be exterminated, that no king might arise out of it afterward; and, as she thought, she had actually done it; but one of Ahaziah's sons was preserved, who escaped death after the manner following: Ahaziah had a sister by the same father, whose name was Jehosheba, and she was married to the high priest Jehoiada. She went into the king's palace, and found Jehoash, for that was the little child's name, who was not above a year old, among those that were slain, but concealed with his nurse; so she took him with her into a secret bed-chamber, and shut him up there, and she and her husband Jehoiada brought him up privately in the temple six years, during which time Athaliah reigned over Jerusalem and the two tribes.

2. Now, on the Seventh year, Jehoiada communicated the matter to certain of the captains of hundreds, five in number, and persuaded them to be assisting to what attempts he was making against Athaliah, and to join with him in asserting the kingdom to the child. He also received such oaths from them as are proper to secure those that assist one another from the fear of discovery; and he was then of good hope that they should depose Athaliah. Now those men whom Jehoiada the priest had taken to be his partners went into all the country, and gathered together the priests and the Levites, and the heads of the tribes out of it, and came and brought them to Jerusalem to the high priest. So he demanded the security of an oath of them, to keep private whatsoever he should discover to them, which required both their silence and their assistance. So when they had taken the oath, and had thereby made it safe for him to speak, he produced the child that he had brought up of the family of David, and said to them, "This is your king, of that house which you know God hath foretold should reign over you for all time to come. I exhort you therefore that one-third part of you guard him in the temple, and that a fourth part keep watch at all the gates of the temple, and that the next part of you keep guard at the gate which opens and leads to the king's palace, and let the rest of the multitude be unarmed in the temple, and let no armed person go into the temple, but the priest only." He also gave them this order besides, "That a part of the priests and the Levites should be about the king himself, and be a guard to him, with their drawn swords, and to kill that man immediately, whoever he be, that should be so bold as to enter armed into the temple; and bid them be afraid of nobody, but persevere in guarding the king." So these men obeyed what the high priest advised them to, and declared the reality of their resolution by their actions. Jehoiada also opened that armory which David had made in the temple, and distributed to the captains of hundreds, as also to the priests and Levites, all the spears and quivers, and what kind of weapons soever it contained, and set them armed in a circle round about the temple, so as to touch one another's hands, and by that means excluding those from entering that ought not to enter. So they brought the child into the midst of them, and put on him the royal crown, and Jehoiada anointed him with the oil, and made him king; and the multitude rejoiced, and made a noise, and cried, "God save the king!"

3. When Athaliah unexpectedly heard the tumult and the acclamations, she was greatly disturbed in her mind, and suddenly issued out of the royal palace with her own army; and when she was come to the temple, the priests received her; but as for those that stood round about the temple, as they were ordered by the high priest to do, they hindered the armed inert that followed her from going in. But when Athaliah saw the child standing upon a pillar, with the royal crown upon his head, she rent her clothes, and cried out vehemently, and commanded [her guards] to kill him that had laid snares for her, and endeavored to deprive her of the government. But Jehoiada called for the captains of hundreds, and commanded them to bring Athaliah to the valley of Cedron, and slay her there, for he would not have the temple defiled with the punishments of this pernicious woman; and he gave order, that if any one came near to help her, he should be slain also; wherefore those that had the charge of her slaughter took hold of her, and led her to the gate of the king's mules, and slew her there.

4. Now as soon as what concerned Athaliah was by this stratagem, after this manner, despatched, Jehoiada called together the people and the armed men into the temple, and made them take an oath that they would be obedient to the king, and take care of his safety, and of the safety of his government; after which he obliged the king to give security [upon oath] that he would worship God, and not transgress the laws of Moses. They then ran to the house of Baal, which Athaliah and her husband Jehoram had built, to the dishonor of the God of their fathers, and to the honor of Ahab, and demolished it, and slew Mattan, that had his priesthood. But Jehoiada intrusted the care and custody of the temple to the priests and Levites, according to the appointment of king David, and enjoined them to bring their regular burnt-offerings twice a day, and to offer incense according to the law. He also ordained some of the Levites, with the porters, to be a guard to the temple, that no one that was defiled might come there.

5. And when Jehoiada had set these things in order, he, with the captains of hundreds, and the rulers, and all the people, took Jehoash out of the temple into the king's palace; and when he had set him upon the king's throne, the people shouted for joy, and betook themselves to feasting, and kept a festival for many days; but the city was quiet upon the death of Athaliah. Now Jehoash was seven years old when he took the kingdom. His mother's name was Zibiah, of the city Beersheba. And all the time that Jehoiada lived Jehoash was careful that the laws should be kept, and very zealous in the worship of God; and when he was of age, he married two wives, who were given to him by the high priest, by whom were born to him both sons and daughters. And thus much shall suffice to have related concerning king Jehoash, how he escaped the treachery of Athaliah, and how he received the kingdom.

CHAPTER 8. Hazael Makes An Expedition Against The People Of Israel And The Inhabitants Of Jerusalem. Jehu Dies, And Jehoahaz Succeeds In The Government. Jehoash The King Of Jerusalem At First Is Careful About The Worship Of God But Afterwards Becomes Impious And Commands Zechariah To Be Stoned. When Jehoash [King Of Judah] Was Dead, Amaziah Succeeds Him In The Kingdom.

1. Now Hazael, king of Syria, fought against the Israelites and their king Jehu, and spoiled the eastern parts of the country beyond Jordan, which belonged to the Reubenites and Gadites, and to [the half tribe of] Manassites; as also Gilead and Bashan, burning, and spoiling, and offering violence to all that he laid his hands on, and this without impeachment from Jehu, who made no haste to defend the country when it was under this distress; nay, he was become a contemner of religion, and a despiser of holiness, and of the laws, and died when he had reigned over the Israelites twenty-seven years. He was buried in Samaria, and left Jehoahaz his son his successor in the government.

2. Now Jehoash, king of Jerusalem, had an inclination to repair the temple of God; so he called Jehoiada, and bid him send the Levites and priests through all the country, to require half a shekel of silver for every head, towards the rebuilding and repairing of the temple, which was brought to decay by Jehoram, and Athaliah and her sons. But the high priest did not do this, as concluding that no one would willingly pay that money; but in the twenty-third year of Jehoash's reign, when the king sent for him and the Levites, and complained that they had not obeyed what he enjoined them, and still commanded them to take care of the rebuilding the temple, he used this stratagem for collecting the money, with which the multitude was pleased. He made a wooden chest, and closed it up fast on all sides, but opened one hole in it; he then set it in the temple beside the altar, and desired every one to cast into it, through the hole, what he pleased, for the repair of the temple. This contrivance was acceptable to the people, and they strove one with another, and brought in jointly large quantities of silver and gold; and when the scribe and the priest that were over the treasuries had emptied the chest, and counted the money in the king's presence, they then set it in its former place, and thus did they every day. But when the multitude appeared to have cast in as much as was wanted, the high priest Jehoiada, and king Joash, sent to hire masons and carpenters, and to buy large pieces of timber, and of the most curious sort; and when they had repaired the temple, they made use of the remaining gold and silver, which was not a little, for bowls, and basons, and cups, and other vessels, and they went on to make the altar every day fat with sacrifices of great value. And these things were taken suitable care of as long as Jehoiada lived.

3. But as soon as he was dead [which was when he had lived one hundred and thirty years, having been a righteous, and in every respect a very good man, and was buried in the king's sepulchers at Jerusalem, because he had recovered the kingdom to the family of David] king Jehoash betrayed his [want of] care about God. The principal men of the people were corrupted also together with him, and offended against their duty, and what their constitution determined to be most for their good. Hereupon God was displeased with the change that was made on the king, and on the rest of the people, and sent prophets to testify to them what their actions were, and to bring them to leave off their wickedness; but they had gotten such a strong affection and so violent an inclination to it, that neither could the examples of those that had offered affronts to the laws, and had been so severely punished, they and their entire families, nor could the fear of what the prophets now foretold, bring them to repentance, and turn them back from their course of transgression to their former duty. But the king commanded that Zechariah, the son of the high priest Jehoiada, should be stoned to death in the temple, and forgot the kindnesses he had received from his father; for when God had appointed him to prophesy, he stood in the midst of the multitude, and gave this counsel to them and to the king: That they should act righteously; and foretold to them, that if they would not hearken to his admonitions, they should suffer a heavy punishment. But as Zechariah was ready to die, he appealed to God as a witness of what he suffered for the good counsel he had given them, and how he perished after a most severe and violent manner for the good deeds his father had done to Jehoash.

4. However, it was not long before the king suffered punishment for his transgression; for when Hazael, king of Syria, made an irruption into his country, and when he had overthrown Gath, and spoiled it, he made an expedition against Jerusalem; upon which Jehoash was afraid, and emptied all the treasures of God and of the kings [before him], and took down the gifts that had been dedicated [in the temple], and sent them to the king of Syria, and procured so much by them, that he was not besieged, nor his kingdom quite endangered; but Hazael was induced by the greatness of the sum of money not to bring his army against Jerusalem; yet Jehoash fell into a severe distemper, and was set upon by his friends, in order to revenge the death of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada. These laid snares for the king, and slew him. He was indeed buried in Jerusalem, but not in the royal sepulchers of his forefathers, because of his impiety. He lived forty-seven years, and Amaziah his son succeeded him in the kingdom.

5. In the one and twentieth year of the reign of Jehoash, Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, took the government of the Israelites in Samaria, and held it seventeen years. He did not [properly] imitate his father, but was guilty of as wicked practices as hose that first had God in contempt: but the king of Syria brought him low, and by an expedition against him did so greatly reduce his forces, that there remained no more of so great an army than ten thousand armed men, and fifty horsemen. He also took away from him his great cities, and many of them also, and destroyed his army. And these were the things that the people of Israel suffered, according to the prophecy of Elisha, when he foretold that Hazael should kill his master, and reign over the Syrians and Damcenes. But when Jehoahaz was under such unavoidable miseries, he had recourse to prayer and supplication to God, and besought him to deliver him out of the hands of Hazael, and not overlook him, and give him up into his hands. Accordingly God accepted of his repentance instead of virtue; and being desirous rather to admonish those that might repent, and not to determine that they should be utterly destroyed, he granted him deliverance from war and dangers. So the country having obtained peace, returned again to its former condition, and flourished as before.

6. Now after the death of Jehoahaz, his son Joash took the kingdom, in the thirty-seventh year of Jehoash, the king of the tribe of Judah. This Joash then took the kingdom of Israel in Samaria, for he had the same name with the king of Jerusalem, and he retained the kingdom sixteen years. He was a good man, 17 and in his disposition was not at all like his father. Now at this time it was that when Elisha the prophet, who was already very old, and was now fallen into a disease, the king of Israel came to visit him; and when he found him very near death, he began to weep in his sight, and lament, to call him his father, and his weapons, because it was by his means that he never made use of his weapons against his enemies, but that he overcame his own adversaries by his prophecies, without fighting; and that he was now departing this life, and leaving him to the Syrians, that were already armed, and to other enemies of his that were under their power; so he said it was not safe for him to live any longer, but that it would be well for him to hasten to his end, and depart out of this life with him. As the king was thus bemoaning himself, Elisha comforted him, and bid the king bend a bow that was brought him; and when the king had fitted the bow for shooting, Elisha took hold of his hands and bid him shoot; and when he had shot three arrows, and then left off, Elisha said, "If thou hadst shot more arrows, thou hadst cut the kingdom of Syria up by the roots; but since thou hast been satisfied with shooting three times only, thou shalt fight and beat the Syrians no more times than three, that thou mayst recover that country which they cut off from thy kingdom in the reign of thy father." So when the king had heard that, he departed; and a little while after the prophet died. He was a man celebrated for righteousness, and in eminent favor with God. He also performed wonderful and surprising works by prophecy, and such as were gloriously preserved in memory by the Hebrews. He also obtained a magnificent funeral, such a one indeed as it was fit a person so beloved of God should have. It also happened, that at that time certain robbers cast a man whom they had slain into Elisha's grave, and upon his dead body coming close to Elisha's body, it revived again. And thus far have we enlarged about the actions of Elisha the prophet, both such as he did while he was alive, and how he had a Divine power after his death also.

7. Now, upon the death of Hazael, the king of Syria, that kingdom came to Adad his son, with whom Joash, king of Israel, made war; and when he had beaten him in three battles, he took from him all that country, and all those cities and villages, which his father Hazael had taken from the kingdom of Israel, which came to pass, however, according to the prophecy of Elisha. But when Joash happened to die, he was buried in Samaria, and the government devolved on his son Jeroboam.


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