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of their false gods. Upon this provocation God
into the hands of Cushan, king of 1413. Mesopotamia, who reduced them to a state of
subjection, in which they continued eight years. God was then pleased to listen to their earnest prayers; and for the purpose of delivering them,
he appointed Othniel (u) to be their leader, who 1405. defeated Cushan, restored the Israelites to liberty,
and established peace, with the enjoyment of promised blessings for forty years. Othniel was the first of those persons, who governed Israel under the name of Judges. These judges were twelve in number, and their government continued rather more than 300 years (x). During this time the Israelites frequently provoked the anger of the Almighty, and being guilty of many
heinous sins, especially idolatry, were often severely punished. Upon their relapses into wickedness, they were successively enslaved by Eglon, king of Moab, Jabin, king of Canaan, by the Midianites, by the Ammonites, and by the Philistines. In the time of Eli, the last judge but one, the ark of the Lord was taken by the Philistines, but
(u) From the death of Joshua to the appointment of Othniel, was probably about twenty-one years.Judges, C.3.
() The different opinions concerning the chronology of these judges may be seen in Dufresnoy's Chronology.
was miraculously preserved from injury, and'after seven months was brought back to the Israelites, who might have been taught the necessity of keeping the terms of the covenant by this temporary deprivation of “their glory.”
The judges do not appear to have succeeded each other in regular order. They were appointed as the instrument of divine interposition upon great emergencies, and more particularly when the repentance and supplications of the Israelites induced God to relieve them from their sufferings (y),
When Samuel, the prophet and judge of Israel, who succeeded Eli, was grown old, he appointed his sons to administer justice in his room; and upon their misconduct, the Israelites desired that, like other nations, they might have a king. The government of the Israelites, from their departure out of Egypt to the time of Samuel, was a Theocracy, that is, a government by God himself, who not only gave them general laws and regulations, but authorized them to apply to him in all cases of doubt and emergency.
His (y) It is to be remembered, That Moses had appointed judges to each tribe, who were called princes of the tribe, and “who sat in the gate,” or place of justice, to judge the people. The judges here mentioned were in the place of Moses and Joshua, chief judges and generals.
His “ glory” resided, as it were, among them, and, from time to time, as particular occasions required, he issued his decrees, and signified his will from the tabernacle. To desire, therefore, a king, was to reject this Theocracy, and to declare, “ that they would not have God to reign over them(z)” in that peculiar manner in which he had hitherto condescended to be their king: Samuel, by the command of God, expostulated with the Israelites, upbraided them with their ingratitude, and represented to them the evils which would follow the establishment of regal authority among them ; but they obstinately
persevered in their request, and at length God 1095. was pleased to direct Samuel to anoint Saul, of
the tribe of Benjamin, to be king of Israel. He was accepted by the people, and reigned over them forty years; but because of his disobedience to the divine commands, God did not suffer the
kingdom to remain in his family (a). Saul 1055. was succeeded by David, who had been secretly
anointed by Samuel, at the command of God, as the successor of Saul. He was of the tribe of Judah, and had greatly distinguished himself in the reign of Saul, by his faith in God, by repeated instances of courage and magnanimity, and of obedience and loyalty to his sovereign, who, from a spirit of jealousy, unjustly sought to take away his life. The friendship of Dávid, and Jonathan the son of Saul, is justly celebrated as excelling all the pictures of friendship which we have received from pagan antiquity; nor can the heathen poets furnish any thing equal to the piety, the beauty, and the sublimity of the hymns of the royal psalmist. David greatly extended the dominions of Israel, and kept the people faithful to their law; and though he was guilty of very heinous sins (for which he was severely punished,) yet did his quick and deep contrition, and the general course of his life, shew that “ his heart was right before God; God was therefore pleased to promise David, that he would " establish his house and the throne of his kingdom for ever (b);" which was a declaration that the Messiah was to be a descendant of David. When David drew near his death, after a reign of forty years, he caused his son Solomon 1015. to be anointed king, having been informed at the time when he proposed "to build a house for the ark of God,” that Solomon was appointed to be his successor.
and (2) 1 Sam. c. 8. v.7. (a) i Sam. c. 6. v.7.
Solomon, whose early piety, wisdom, and humility, rendered him the admiration of the world,
having (b) 2 Sam. c. 7. v. 13 and 16.
having been thus chosen by God to succeed to the throne of David, and “ to build him a house for the tabernacle of his glory,” began his reign with very distinguished marks of divine favour. By the command of God he built a temple at Jerusalem, for which David had only been permitted to collect materials, “ because he had shed blood abundantly, and had made great wars (c).” This temple, which in riches and magnificence exceeded every other building upon earth, was built, after the model of the tabernacle, upon' Mount Moriah, an eminence of
Mount Sion, in seven years and a half; and after 1004. it had been consecrated with great solemnity, the
ark of the covenant, the autographs of the holy Scriptures, and the other sacred things belonging to the tabernacle, were removed into it. The reign of Solomon, “ who passed all the kings of the earth for riches and wisdom,” was the most brilliant period of the Jewish history. “ He reigned over all the kings, from the river (Euphrates) even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt(d);" yet," for his peace he was beloved.” Towards the close of life, however, Solomon tarnished the glory of his name, and“ did evil in the sight of the Lord.”
“ For (c) i Chron. c. 22. v.8. (d) 1 Kings, c.4. v. 21. Gen. c. 15. v. 18.