Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

his wishes; “Go up” they said, “ for God will deliver it into the king's hand.” The pious king of Judah was not deceived by their false predictions, and he said to Ahab: "Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?”

“ And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, there is yet one man by whom we may enquire of the LORD; but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla.” Jehoshaphat persisted notwithstanding in his desire to consult a prophet of the LORD, and Ahab reluctantly consented to send for Micaiah. While the messenger was gone in search of him, the false prophets continued their deceitful and flattering predictions, such as they knew would procure them the favour of Ahab. Adopting the symbolic style sometimes used by the true prophets, one of them attached horns of iron to his head, and said, “With these shalt thou push Syria until they be consumed. And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.”

Meanwhile the messenger who had been sent to seek Micaiah returned. On the way he sought to induce this true prophet to speak favourably to the king's wishes, telling him, the prophets had all declared good to the king, and praying him to speak good also. But Micaiah justly reproved the idle thought that his words were his own, and could be turned to suit his “And also Maachah his mother,* even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kedron.”+

The peace which Asa enjoyed lasted ten years, at the end of which time there came out against him “Zerah the Ethiopian, with a host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots, and came unto Mareshah.”+

Against this formidable array Asa went out, trusting to that power which had so often saved the Israelites from their most dreaded enemies.

[ocr errors]

Maachah was the grandmother of Abijam, being the most beloved of Rehoboam's wives, and the mother of Abijah. But she enjoyed the title and dignity of "King's Mother,” a dignity of the first importance, conferred for life, and not necessarily on the wife or mother of the reigning king. Thus in II. Chronicles xiii. 2, it is stated, when Abijah began his reign, that “his mother's name also was Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah," although it before stated that he was the son of Maachah, (chap. xi. 20—22,) and that Rehoboam had given him the preference over the children of his other wives. A dignity similar to that of King's Mother, exists in most Eastern kingdoms. See on this subject Calmet, under the article King's Mother, from which the above explanation is taken.

+ 1. Kings xv. The Cushites were nomade tribes, in very early time established in Arabia, from whence some emigrated to Africa, and conquered Ethiopia, now called Abyssinia. It is probable that both divisions of the Cushites were joined together in this expedition: the exact number is not necessarily to be understood here, though it is not incredible, if we consider the practice of nomade nations to assemble from all parts, every man with his own provisions for a certain number of days, and thus to join in overwhelming numbers for some marauding attack, or for pur. poses of vengeance.

Having assembled all the troops he could collect, he drew them up in order of battle in the valley of Zephathah, at Mareshah: and there before all his people, he invoked the divine assistance;

Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power; help us, O LORD our God: for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude : O LORD thou art our God: let not man prevail against thee.”

The faith of Asa was rewarded by a complete victory. The overwhelming host of the Ethio, pians fled; and the Israelites took many cities round, and returned laden with spoil, carrying away sheep and camels in abundance.

Thus was again manifested the protecting power of Jehovah, in this deliverance of his people from the desolating inroad of the Ethiopians, and to render the event yet more impressive on the triumphant return of Asa to Jerusalem, Azariah the prophet came forth to meet him, and addressed him in these words :-*

“Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” _“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."

Warned and encouraged by the exhortations * Azariah, son of Oded, called Oded in the 8th verse of the same chapter.

own purposes.

“ As the LORD liveth, he replied, even what my God saith, that will I speak.”

When he came in presence of the two kings, and was asked by Ahab, whether they should go up against Ramoth, or should forbear; Micaiah at first answered ironically in the flattering words which the other prophets had used, and bid him go up, and prosper; but when urged to give a true reply, in the name of the LORD, he thus spoke, “I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd : and the LORD said, these have no master : let them return, therefore, every man to his house in peace:” a clear intimation to this infatuated king that he would be slain. Instead, however, of being warned by this fatal intimation, Ahab was filled with indignation against the faithful prophet, and said reproachfully to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell thee that he would not prophecy good unto me, but evil ?” Micaiah then went on to denounce the pretended predictions of the false prophets, as the words of a lying spirit which should entice Ahab to his destruction, when one of them, enraged at the bold rebuke, struck him on the cheek. So far from punishing the base offender, the king ordered Micaiah to be put in prison, and there to be fed with the bread and water of affliction until, as he scoffingly said, he should return in peace.

Micaiah calmly replied, “if thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the LORD spoken by me."

а

Notwithstanding this solemn warning, the two kings marched against the Syrians. Ahab laid aside his royal robes on the day of battle, and disguised himself as common soldier. A vain precaution: he was mortally wounded by an arrow shot at random, and his army dispersed, as the prophet had foretold. Jehoshaphat escaped, though with difficulty, as he was mistaken for the king of Israel, whom the Syrian troops were commanded to single out and slay, and he returned in safety, but not with honour, to his own capital. His conduct was reproved by the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani, the Seer, who met him with this stern enquiry : “Shouldst thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD?" Besides incurring this just admonition, Jehoshaphat suffered the natural consequences of his ill chosen alliance; his defeat lowered him in the eyes of the neighbouring princes, who had before respected and feared him, and they formed a confederacy against him. The Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites united their forces, and entered Judea by the side of the Dead Sea. Then Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast, and assembled the people. “And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the New Court, and said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen ? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that

« AnteriorContinuar »