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the various languages now spoken in the world,
and the old accounts still preserved among the Eastern countries, from whence the human race first began to wander into other quarters of the world, have given scholars well skilled in those languages, the most surprising proofs of the correctness of the Bible History; and promise, as the examination of their ancient records proceeds, to furnish still further explanations of the sacred writings.
The Book of Joshua informs us of the progress of the Israelites in gaining possession of the lands of their enemies, under the guidance of their new leader; who, in the same manner as Moses, was miraculously assisted by God in conducting their affairs. This was shown upon two remarkable occasions, wherein the Almighty interposed in their favour :
when the walls of Jericho were thrown down by the blast of their trumpets, to admit them into that city; and again when the light was miraculously prolonged upon Gibeon, on which occasion the divine aid was further bestowed, in a most extraordinary manner, by huge stones
being cast down from Heaven upon their adversaries. According to the example of Moses, Joshua when old and well stricken in years, assembled the people together; he rehearsed to them God's great mercies, and made a solemn covenant, agreement, that they should serve the LORD and obey all his commandments, which he recorded in the book of the Law before his death ; a notice of which event bas been briefly given.
The history is continued in the Book of JUDGES, who were rulers of the Israelites, twelve of whom governed them in succession, after the decease of Joshua. An interval had occurred before their government began, during which the people fell into great wickedness; and in consequence they were severely punished, God allowing their enemies considerable success against them: and they suffered also by violent struggles amongst themselves. This book takes in a period of upwards of 300 years.
The Book of Ruth, which next follows, contains the history of a remarkable person who lived in these times. She was not an Israelite, but, by a succession of wonderful circumstances, became an
ancestor of King David, and was adopted into that family from which our blessed Saviour afterwards descended.
The regular history is continued in the Book of SAMUEL, who was the last of the twelve Judges of Israel already mentioned, and who is supposed to have written the two preceding books of Judges and Ruth, The people becoming dissatisfied at the form of government they enjoyed, and demanding a king to rule them like other nations, Samuel, by Divine command, appointed Saul to be their king, who possessed the throne of Israel for forty years. But Saul displeased the Lord, who therefore caused the government to pass to King David; to whom he showed peculiar tokens of his favour, and inspired him with the power of foretelling future events, in a most distinguished manner. As the death of Samuel is related in the 25th chapter of the First Book bearing his name, it is supposed that the remainder was the work of the prophets Nathan and Gad, who are mentioned as inspired historians in the Book of Chronicles.
The Book of the History of the Kings OF ISRAEL opens with an account of the death of King David, and the succession of Solomon, his son, to the throne. The building of the great Temple at Jerusalem, which he erected by the command of God, is minutely described, with other acts of his reign. The prophecies of Elijah and Elisha, and other inspired persons, who were made the ministers of God to his chosen people, are also mentioned in these books; and the reigns of those kings who severally filled the throne from the time of Solomon until the end of the sovereignty, are also recounted. The history contained in the two Books of Kings extends to a period of upwards
of 400 years.
On the death of Solomon, and the accession of his son Rehoboam to the throne, ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, rebelling from his weak and tyrannical authority: chose another king, and established a separate government by the name of the kingdom of Israel; but the tribes of Judah and Benjamin yet remained faithful to their former sovereign, and formed the government which from this time was distinguished as the kingdom of Judah.
The Israelites, however, having fallen into great wickedness and disobedience to God, upwards of 250 years after this separation from Judah, were signally punished for their ingratitude, in the conquest and total destruction of their kingdom by the Assyrians: being led away into captivity by Salmaneser, the king of that country. The tribe of Judah in like manner fell under the displeasure of the Almighty, more than 100 years after, being conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Chaldea, who carried off their wicked king Zedekiah, the last of their sovereigns, in chains, to Babylon ; ransacked the city of Jerusalem ; destroyed the celebrated Temple of Solomon; plundered the treasures; and led away the greatest part of the people into slavery. Thus did the chosen people of God receive the reward of their continued wickedness and ingratitude to their Almighty benefactor; who had preserved them as a distinct people for 900 years, from the period when he first separated them from the rest of mankind.
The Book of CHRONICLES must not be confounded with the chronicles of the kings of Israel, so often referred to in other books of Scripture; by which