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and sin; excepting when they were miraculously sus tained and illuminated by the particular interposition of the SUPREME BEING, what they said or did in the name of the LORD was entirely unpremeditated: they were no farther holy than as they were sacred, or set apart for the service of GOD, and lived agreeably to their holy appointment; yet on these accounts they were justly reverenced, and for the good offices they performed for the world they were entitled to esteem. The miracle of raising the dead man may be considered as a proof of the immortality of the soul; but this truth we need not attend to here, as we shall find still better evidence for it as we proceed.
We have already read in the history of the kings of JUDAH, that Hazael invaded that country, and even thought to attempt the conquest of Jerusalem; but he was diverted from his purpose by gifts of the treasures of the LORD's House, which Joash the king, who at that time reigned over Judah, was induced to make him through fear.
Hazael*, having thus subdued and tyrannized over the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, died, and his infatuated people paid divine honours to his memory.
Though Hazael was a great monarch, he must have -been an unhappy man; for it is impossible that a mind like his, perpetually hurried by tumultuous passions, should know the invaluable blessing of inward peace and satisfaction.
He left behind him a son and successor, named Benhadad, who suffered a total reverse of his father's fortune. Jehoash king of Israel defeated him thrice, as Elisha had predicted, and recovered from him all that Hazael had taken from Israel. Jehoash is supposed to have
* Universal History.
divided the government of the kingdom with his son Jeroboam for the last ten years of his reign.
THE REIGN OF AMAZIAH KING OF JUDAH.
From 2 Chronicles, Chap. xxv.
AMAZIAH was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.
Now it came to pass when the kingdom was established to him, that he slew his servants that had killed the king his father: but he slew not their children, but did as it is written in the law of the book of Moses, where the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sin.
Moreover, Amaziah gathered Judah together; and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield.
He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver.
But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee, for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim.
But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: GOD shall make thee fall before the enemy: for GoD hath power to help, and to cast down.
And Amaziah said to the man of GOD, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which 1 have given to the
army of Israel? and the man of GoD answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.
Then Amaziah separated them, to wit, the army that was come to him out of Ephraim, to go home again: wherefore their anger was greatly kindled against Judah, and they returned home in great anger.
And Amaziah strengthened himself, and led forth his people, and went to the valley of salt, and smote of the children of Seir ten thousand.
And other ten thousand left alive did the children of Judah carry away captive, and brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they were broken all in pieces.
But the soldiers of the army which Amaziah sent back, that they should not go with him to battle, fell upon the cities of Judah, from Samaria even unto Bethhoron, and smote three thousand of them, and took much spoil.
Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.
Wherefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Amaziah, and he sent unto him a prophet, which said unto him, Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand.
And it came to pass as he talked with him, that the king said unto him, Art thou made of the king's counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten? Then the prophet forbare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel.
Then Amaziah king of Judah took advice, and sent to
Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us see one another in the face.
And Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
Thou sayest, Lo thou hast smitten the Edomites, and thine heart lifteth thee up to boast: abide now at home; why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
But Amaziah would not hear: for it came of God that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom.
So Jehoash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
And Judah was put to the worst before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent.
And Jehoash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Beth shemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of GoD with Obededom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria.
And Amaziah the son of Jehoash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, fifteen years. And he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem.
Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD, they made a conspiracy against him
in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish; but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.
And they brought him upon horses, and buried him with his fathers in the city of Judah.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Amaziah had lately seen such severe judgments inflicted upon his father Jehoash, for his apostasy, that, in the beginning of his reign, he was intimidated from following idols. He worshipped the true God, and kept up the Temple service, but he had not a perfect heart; from which we may understand, that he was not a man of serious piety himself, nor had he any zeal for the ordinances of religion. He was not an enemy, but a cool and indifferent friend.
It was Amaziah's duty to call his father's murderers to account; for, though they intended to avenge the death of the prophet Zechariah, they were not authorized to kill their sovereign.
We read, in the history of Jehoram king of Judah, that the Edomites (who from the days of David had been governed by a deputy) revolted, and set up a king of their own. Amaziah resolved to attempt reducing them; and thinking his own army insufficient *, he resolved to hire auxiliaries. The proper step for him to have taken in such a case would have been to consult a prophet of the LORD. That he might not run headlong into destruction, a prophet was, notwithstanding his neglect, graciously sent by the LORD to warn him of the danger of an alliance with Israel; and he dismissed the troops. His obedience was rewarded with success against the Edomites.
Why GoD permitted the Israelites to commit such devastations, in their return home, we are not told; but we may suppose that the inhabitants of the cities in Judah, who were thus given up to their rage, were idolaters.
In the days of Jehoshaphat there were four times as many.