תמונות בעמוד

This and the foregoing story seem to have been inserted principally to shew, what a variety of ill effects were produced in Israel for want of a regular settled government ; as it is repeatedly said, that they happened when there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. The Israelites had broken their covenant with God, and He had left them to themselves without any gorvenor at all, to feel the sad effects of their presumption and self-dependance.

How thankful should those be who live in a kingdom blessed with laws calculated to defend the weak, protect the innocent, and punish injustice and violence ; who have a good king, and magistrates of various ranks to put them in execution ! Never should people in so happy a case indulge a wish to be at liberty to do every thing that may appear right in their own eyes ; lest, enticed by faction, impelled by mistaken zeal, or hurried on by tumultuous passions, they should be led to break the command of God, subvert His holy religion, and infringe the peace of that society, of which they are members, for they may assure themselves that they wili by such wickedness bring down God's judgments upon themselves.-War with a foreign enemy is a great evil, but lawless riot and intestine division are productive of the greatest misfortunes that can happen to any country, of which may we never be even spectators!

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

In the days of Balaam the prophet, the Moabites were restraiued by God, even from pronouncing curses on Israel *, but at length the Israelites committed so

* See Section xiii.


nemies, the me, folet, and and arrived

many abominations that the LORD was provoked to strengthen that very nation against them! They were now obliged to pay a yearly tribute (a sum of money, or a certain portion of the product of the land) as an acknowledgment of submission to the king of Moab, and this for eighteen years together. The Israelites then returned to their duty, and God once more raised them up a deliverer in Ehud, whose errand it was to carry the annual present to Eglon, king of Moab.

Ehud provided himself with a dagger, and having obtained a private audience, he stabbed the king of Moab, and made his escape. When Ehud arrived at Mount Ephraim, he blew a trumpet, and assembled the Israelites, and said, Follow me, for the Lord hath delivered your enemies, the Moabites, into your hands; and they went down after him, and slew of the Moabites about ten thousand of their most valiant men. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel, and the land had rest fourscore years*.

There is an appearance of great treachery in Ehud's proceedings in respect to the king of Moab, which nothing could justify, but his having received a command from God to destroy Eglon, in order to set Israel free; therefore his example is not to be imitated in this particular.

We must remember that the Moabites practised open idolatry, and that Israel again obeyed the Lord; as a reward for which, they had received repeated prontises that their enemies should fall before them.

It is said that Ehud was of the tribe of Benjamin, and that he was left-handed ; therefore, in all probability, he was nó expert warrior till strengthened of God, whọ chose a weak instrument in order to shew his own ALMIGHTY power. * Judges, Chap. iii.

We We may suppose that' the king of Moab had tri. umphed over Israel, and exulted with pride at having subdued those who called themselves the people of God; and perhaps he imputed his success to the aid of the false deities he worshipped ; at least we may be certain that he was guilty of presumptuous sin, or he would not have had such an exemplary punishment; and in respect to the Moabites, success was given to them for the punishment of Israel ; when that purpose was completed, they were again exposed to the wrath of God, which had only been suspended, because those who were appointed to execute it had forsaken the Lord. raelites, assembled his warriors, and, at the head of a mighty army, went forth with all his chariots of iron to meet an enemy, whose forces appeared so inferior to his own, that, without doubt, he was confident of destroying them. Barak however, through the power of the LORD, obtained a complete victory. The ar. my of the Canaanites was totally defeated, but Sisera escaped from the sword of Barak, and filed away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber. Jael received Sisera with pretended kindness, furnished him with refreshments, and afterwards, when he lay down to repose after the fatigue of the battle, she covered him with a garment; but as soon as he was asleep she took a large nail, and with a hammer drove it into his temple; and when Barak, who was in pursuit of him, arrived at Jael's tent, he found him dead. Thus was the prophecy of Deborah fulfilled, that the LORD would deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman.

The curse still remained in force against idolatry; and it was the peculiar service of the Israelites (when they were faithful to God) to punish those who acted in de fiance of His ALMIGHT Y power.

Ehud was succeeded by Shamgar, of whom little is said, but that he gained a very complete victory over the Philistines: this might happen during the life of Ehud, perhaps when he was too old for service, or in a different part of the territories of Israel. : It is said that he slew 600 men with an ex-goad;

men Whamear and this from which we may conjecture, that Shamgar and his men, being suddenly attacked, secured all the rustical instruments they had at hand, and without the usual arms (through the power of the Lord) defeated their enemies.

To what a deplorable situation had the Israelites reduced themselves by following false gods ; they had no trade; and robbery was so frequent, that travellers were obliged to avoid the public road. The art of war was in a manner forgotten; and it is probable they had been deprived of all their spears and shields by the Philistines. Then did they call to mind the


blessing and cried unto he most unexpeth

blessing and the curse which the LORD had sat before them; and cried unto the Lord, who delivered them from their distress by the most unexpected means.

By the end of the fourscore years the people of Israel had again arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that the LORD saw fit 'to punish them, by delivering them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, the captain of whose host was Sisera. He had under his command a very great army, in which were nine hundred chariots of iron ; and for twenty years he mightily oppressed Israel*. Deborah the prophetess judged Israel at that time.

Deborah was a woman of extraordinary understand. ing and fortitude; she was likewise endued with the gift of prophecy, by which God enabled her to foretel some events which he intended shortly to bring to pass. Probably her wise admonitions inspired of God had brought the people to repentance : and they had recourse to her, in order to obtain advice, and to intreat her prayers to God in their behalf. · By the command of the LORD Deborah sent for Barak, and commanded him in the name of the LORD to assemble an army of ten thousand men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun, and go against Sisera, asşuring him that the LORD would deliver Sisera into his hands.

Barak being diffident of himself, refused to go on this enterprize uoless the prophetess would accompany him. This Deborah consented to do; but told him that for his distrust of the Lord, he should lose the honour of destroying Sisera, and a woman should obtain it. Sisera hearing of the approach of Barak and the 16* Judges, Chap.iv.


tribes of Naplan army of ime in the name

[ocr errors]

In order to acquit Jael of treachery in this matter, we must remember that the Israelites were strictly commanded to cut off the idolatrous nations ; that Sisera was condemned to death by the Lord himself, and Jael was ordained to execute the sentence. Jael was in à most critical situation. Had she refused to give shelter to Sisera, he would most probbaly have put her to death; or he might have found means, at a future time, to make head against Israel, and slaughter numbers of them ; whereas, by cutting him off, Jael would complete the victory of Barak, fulfil the will of the LORD, and gain the highest honour, by delivering the people with whom her husband was in alliance from

the dread of that furious general who had so long op· pressed them. This victory was celebrated in Israel with great


« הקודםהמשך »