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was accordingly sacrilegiously slain within the sanctuary of the tabernacle.
David has left a pernicious legacy to mankind in the superstition of the allotted period, which cuts short the melancholy days of pious septuagenarians depressed by a sacred death-warrant. The Council of Trent, however, in canonising the Apocrypha, transformed the allotted period' into one hundred years ; and they who accept the Wisdom of the son of Sirach as Scripture are all, therefore, possible centenarians.
In comparing the annals of Saul and David, we find Hebrew history controlled by the same laws of causation which determine the fortunes of all human communities. Saul, a man of deep religious convictions, was so hopelessly crushed by superstitious terror of prophetic denunciation that his subjects were not only deprived of the social and political advantages, unattainable except through human experience and sagacity intelligently dealing with the ordinary course of natural events, but they were even plunged into misery and calamity for which the Thaumaturgist, who had blighted the career of their leader, supplied no remedy in his sullen abandonment of king and country.
David was also a religious enthusiast, but he possessed a practical wisdom which excluded priests and prophets from a preponderating influence in the state; and thus his subjects were partially protected from the extremes of fanaticism rampant during the reign of his rash and excitable predecessor.
Modern statesmanship inevitably recognises that David was right and the prophets wrong, on the ques
1 Ecclus. xvii. 9.
tion of a national census, as indispensable to responsible rulers three thousand years ago as now, for correctly estimating the available resources of the country. David did not, therefore, consult Nathan or Gad on an affair of state which would have merely aroused their fanaticism; but he first numbered the people, and, when this great public duty had been accomplished, he charmed his confessors with penitential psalms, in sackcloth and ashes.
The successful career of David as warrior and statesman probably inspired the Hebrew nation with hope that Jehovah had at length tardily fulfilled His covenant with Abraham, and bestowed on them the promised land as an everlasting possession. But superstition is stronger than princes, and more enduring than the life of a nation. Their warrior king had cherished and controlled an institution on which he fondly hoped his dynasty might rest throughout the unbroken succession of centuries : could he have foreseen that the prophets of futurity would destroy the national results of his sagacity and prowess, David would, most assuredly, have received an oracle, or seen a vision, instructing him to proscribe and exterminate the entire school of the prophets, which he would have accomplished, in the name of the Lord, with a purpose as inflexible as the spirit of Mehemet Ali, when he planned and accomplished the destruction of the Mamelukes.
The wisdom of Solomon has not only been celebrated in the annals of Judah, but invested with all the marvels of Wonderland, in the traditions and legends of both Jews and Gentiles. We learn from the last words of David that his illustrious son had acquired a reputation for natural sagacity before his wisdom had assumed the imaginative form of a divine gift. Possessed, therefore, of a penetrating and far-reaching intelligence, Solomon had, doubtless, learned from the tragedy of Saul and the experience of David, that the social and political problem waiting successful solution was the administration of public affairs, in absolute independence of the disorganising intervention of prophets.
Even the wisdom and courage of Solomon would have inevitably failed in an unequal contest with the prophetic superstition of his age, if he had not supplemented the commanding influence of his genius by adopting some element of the supernatural. Socrates had his familiar spirit (daquóvlov), and Numa his Egeria, to disarm the malice of envy by attributing personal wisdom to inspiration ; and the sagacious monarch of Israel dreamt that, in an interview with Jehovah, he had been divinely chosen as the wisest man of all time.
There was not, of course, any eye-witness of the
vision; but it was an age of miracles ; and a king, ever invested with the divine halo of supernatural wisdom, was so obvious an improvement on the spasmodic frenzy of ecstatic prophets, that their national influence was overshadowed by the majestic presence of Solomon; and the disturbing element of their fanaticism ceased to trouble Israel for a generation ; to be however revived, with disastrous results, when the sceptre of Solomon should have passed to a monarch as deficient in natural as in miraculous wisdom.
The personal prestige of Solomon having thus changed the position of the prophets, Gad the seer (Chozeh), and Nathan the prophet (Nâbi), became national annalists; the sons of the latter accepted government appointments;? and Solomon appeared at the dedication of the temple as a supreme Pontiff, invested with the dazzling splendour of a gorgeous ritualism, and speaking with the authority of priest and prophet, in the name of Jehovah.2
The introduction of reason and common sense into the affairs of the nation produced most satisfactory results. Solomon having secured immunity from foreign aggression, by constructing fortified positions, organising powerful armies, and concluding important alliances, furthermore developed the internal resources of the kingdom by patronising art, fostering commerce, and encouraging maritime enterprise by the construction of fleets which, freighted with the produce of Palestine, exchanged their cargoes, in numerous ports, for the merchandise of many climes, as materials for the workmanship of skilled artisans hastening to scenes of ' 1 Kings iv. 5.
? 1 Kings viii. 22.
peaceful industry, where life and property were guaranteed by a wise and stable government.
The triumph of reason over fanaticism is clearly shown in the adoption of cavalry as an important element of strength in the armies of Solomon.
In Joshua xi. we read : “And the Lord said unto Joshua, thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.'
2 Sam. viii. 4: And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for a hundred chariots.'
There was no Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals under a Theocracy, for its members would have been denounced as impious opponents of the divine will. Shall we, therefore, in this age of sympathy for all animal suffering, believe that the Deity once sanctioned wanton cruelty towards the noble animal which both modern Jews and Gentiles delight to honour as the faithful friend of man?
The superstitious prejudice of the ancient Hebrews against the use of cavalry explains their frequent defeats by nations who prudently supplemented their reliance on the gods with all the natural resources available for defensive or aggressive warfare.
All this was changed by the genius of Solomon, who ' had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely every man under his vine and under his