« PreviousContinue »
Egyptians had two oxen which they worshipped one at the city of Memphis, called Apis; the other at Hierapolis, called Mnepis. That he might therefore gain the favour of his people, Jeroboam made idols in the form of these oxen, and placed them likewise in different parts of his kingdom. Dan was famous, in the time of Micah, for his Teraphin; and Bethel was esteemed a sacred place on account of Jacob's vision of the ladder, and the LORD's frequent appearance to him. By setting up his golden calves in these places, which had long been esteemed sacred, Jeroboam contrived at once to please the Egyptians, and to gratify his own subjects.
Zoan, the city at which the new race of Egyptian kings resided, was not far from the borders of Canaan. It was the interest of former kings to be upon good terms with David's race; but Shishak had cause to fear, that Solomon's son would be ready to join the deposed family in Egypt; for this reason it was politic for him to encou rage Jeroboam, who appeared to be an usurper also.
All the order of priests and Levites adhered to the Temple service, by which they drew the displeasure of Jeroboam upon them; and having occasion for ministers, he chose such as we read of. This was a great act of presumption, but Jeroboam stopt at nothing to effect his ambitious purposes; for, without the least regard to the ordinances of the Lo«D, he instituted new festivals; so that he totally subverted the public worship, and the people plunged themselves headlong into the grossest idolatry, and entirely forsook the LORD; but, in his infinite mercy, the LORD Vouchsafed to call them to repentance, by sending a prophet, and working such miracles as must have converted them, if they had not hardened their hearts.
The mercy of GoD was shewn to Jeroboam in warning him of the destruction he would bring on his family; and also to his son, the good young Abijah, by taking
him into a happier state: his death, which was a punishment to the parent, was a blessing to the child, by removing him to a better world.
The LORD threatened, by the mouth of His prophet, that," he would give Israel up, because of the sin of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin." We must not from this suppose, that Israel would have been punished for the wickedness of their sovereign, if the people had adhered to their duty. They well knew that Jeroboam's proceedings were directly contrary to the law of Gon; yet they willingly made themselves partakers of his crime, and therefore deserved to be given up. It is called Jeroboam's sin, because he introduced it; but the people must have been inclined to idolatry, or they would not have been so easily influenced by him.
Jeroboam and the Israelites were as undeserving as the people of Judah of God's favour; and one is lost in admiration of the divine forbearance, that they were suffered to remain on the face of the earth?
The prediction, which the prophet delivered respecting JOSIAH, was a very remarkable one, and it was afterwards exactly accomplished *. We are told, that the young prophet who spake it came to a very untimely end; for he suffered himself to be persuaded by another prophet, who pretended to be also inspired, to go to his house, instead of obeying the LORD's commands, which the young prophet had himself received by divine inspiration: to punish him for thus inconsiderately preferring the word of a man to the word of God, he was torn to pieces by a lion (to save him from which he was perhaps directed to return home another way). This punishment appears very severe, because it seems that the young prophet really thought the old prophet spake truth; for we may suppose GOD permitted him to be slain for a warning to * 1 Kings xiii. 20, &c.
others, which was particularly necessary in the land of Israel in those times; and whenever it is the DIVINE WILL to inflict judgments, which to human apprehension appear severe, we must recollect, that this life is not the whole of our existence, but there is a future state, where GOD will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thought, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, and reward us accordingly.
THE REIGN OF ABIJAM, CALLED ALSO ABIJAH, KING OF JUDAH.
From 1 Kings, Chap. xv. 2 Chron. Chap. xiii. Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat, reigned Abijam over Judah.
Three years reigned he in Jerusalem; and he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his GOD, as the heart of David his father.
Nevertheless, for David's sake did the LORD his GOD give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.
And Abijam set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men. Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.
And Abijam stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which
is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel.
Ought ye not to know, that the LORD GOD of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up and hath rebelled against his lord.
And there are gathered unto him vain men, the chil. dren of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tender-hearted, and could not withstand them.
And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.
But as for us, the LORD is our GOD, and we have not forsaken him: and the priests which minister unto the LORD are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business.
And they burnt unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shew-bread also they set in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening for we keep the charge of the LORD our GOD, but ye have forsaken him.
And behold, GoD himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm
against you. O ye children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD GOD of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: for they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.
And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that Go smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijam and Judah.
And the children of Israel fled before Judah and GOD delivered them into their hand.
And Abijam and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hun. dred thousand chosen men.
Thus the children of Irráel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD GOD of their fathers.
And Abijam pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Beth-el with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephraim with the towns thereof.
Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of bijam, and the LORD struck him, and he died. But Abijam waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and had twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.
And the rest of the acts of Abijam, and his ways and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo. And Abijam slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David; and Asa his son reigned in his stead.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
In the speech which Abijam addressed to Jeroboam and the Israelites, calling upon them in the name of the