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thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel:' 1
Did this saturnalia of blood, therefore, supply Jehovah with a king after his own heart? Not according to the compiler of 2 Kings, who informs us that • Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam which made Israel to sin. In these days the Lord began to cut Israel short; and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel.' Smiting, according to the tearful Elisha, meant dashing out the brains of young children, and ripping open defenceless women.
Thus the tragic oracle of the still small voice'is fulfilled. Jehu was anointed to exterminate the family of Ahab, and Hazael was chosen to massacre the children of Israel, because their divinely elected king had disappointed the expectations of Jehovah. The author of Ecclesiasticus shows a just appreciation of the position when he assures us that Elijah “anointed kings to take revenge.
But what shall we say of the climax to this strange medley of prophecy and Providence recorded in the prophet Hosea : “And the Lord said unto him, call his name Jezreel ; for yet a little while and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.' 8 Had Jehovah, therefore, repented of the massacre of the family of Ahab; and were the descendants of Jehu to be punished for the crimes of an ancestor, divinely approved and rewarded as righteousness, more than a century before they were born ?
1 2 Kings X.
2 Ecclesiasticus xlviii. 8.
3 Hosea i. 4.
The tragedy of Israel now hastens to a conclusion. The dynasty of Jehu produced one great king, Jeroboam II., who reconquered the lost territory, and restored the prosperity of his country, notwithstanding the imprecations of Amos, and the character for impiety received from the prophets.
It was a question of life and death for the Hebrews to secure a stable government through a permanent dynasty ; but the prophets had decreed that the house of Jehu should not reign after the fourth generation, therefore the son of Jeroboam was slain by a usurper, who also fell by the hands of his successor, within a month after his elevation to the throne. The new king, Menahem, became a tributary of Assyria, and transmitted the kingdom to his son, who was murdered by a fresh usurper, slain in his turn by Hoshea, the last monarch of the kingdom of Israel, in whose reign Samaria was besieged and destroyed by the Assyrians, who carried the ten tribes captive into Medea beyond the Euphrates. Thus the fanaticism of prophets had finally blighted the hopes of Israel, and falsified the solemn covenant of Jehovah with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by the national extinction of ten out of twelve tribes of the Chosen Race.
When the Hebrew exiles had experienced the social and political advantages of life under a strong and stable government uncontrolled by prophets, they doubtless detected a natural sequence in human affairs, unbroken by the disturbing influence of the miraculous ; rejoiced at their escape from the pernicious fanaticism which had given them a national history of misery, anarchy, and bloodshed; and forestalled the wisdom of modern
Jews by becoming the industrious, contented, and loyal subjects of alien governments sufficiently enlightened to treat them with justice.
There was no Stock Exchange at Nineveh, with exciting lists of Egyptian bonds and Babylonian scrip, to develop that genius for finance latent in the Hebrew race; but they doubtless devised ingenious methods of spoiling the Assyrians, and thus promptly attained conditions of prosperity and affluence which rendered them quite as unwilling to return to Palestine as modern Hebrews, who obviously prefer the Gentile attractions of Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and London, to even the milk and honey of the Holy Land.
THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH.
The fall of the kingdom of Israel having secured for the survivors a happy escape, as Assyrian colonists, from Hebrew anarchy, the less fortunate kingdom of Judah had to endure, for a longer period, the calamities inseparable from fanatical reliance on the supernatural, and in her fall to transmit to a doomed remnant of the Hebrew race the fatal superstition which has set them apart for centuries as defenceless minorities among alien communities, whose inconsistent theologians have adopted a Jew as their Deity, whilst persecuting or ostracising the Hebrew race.
Although the dynasty of David retained dominion in Judah, the rule of even the most virtuous kings did not exempt the Jews from the denunciation of prophets or the judgments of God. Hezekiah excelled all the other kings of Judah in piety, and yet, during his reign, the kingdom twice suffered the devastations of foreign invasion, and he himself was divinely condemned to premature death, when only forty years old. The desire of the prophets and the will of the Deity had been fulfilled in the reign of a great religious reformer, who extirpated idolatry and restored the national worship, and yet Judah was to be plunged into social and political anarchy by cutting off the dynasty of David, through the premature death of a childless king.
Hezekiah, who had no hope beyond the grave, succeeded, however, in changing the divine purpose through prayer, and thus obtained a respite from death of fifteen years, during which period an heir to the throne was born. The Gospel according to Matthew traces the descent of Jesus through this son of Hezekiah. If, therefore, the divine decree had not been annulled, Jesus would never have been born, and modern communities would now be found worshipping some other Deity.
The predestined death of Hezekiah occurred when he was only fifty-six : he was, therefore, succeeded by a boy of twelve, who, deprived of paternal guardianship, grew up to restore idolatry, sacrifice human victims, and massacre his subjects. Thus revelation depicts the special dispensations of Providence among the Chosen Race.
The Hebrew annalist assures us that, in consequence of the extreme wickedness of Manasseh, the nation was condemned to final destruction, but the judgment had been already pronounced by Isaiah in the previous reign, because Hezekiah had shown the national treasures to the ambassadors of the king of Babylon. For this simple act of courtesy Jehovah decreed the Babylonian captivity. Apologists tell us that Hezekiah was guilty of vanity; but what would become of individuals and nations if divinely punished because their rulers are merely human?
As the condemnation of a people for the venial offence of a ruler is irreconcilable with our conceptions of the Hebrew bard, whose sublimity commands the admiration of posterity, let us compare the alleged facts 1 2 Kings xxi.
? 2 Kings xx. 12-19.