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- The Antiquities of the Jews - 100/253 -


for his expedition, and ready to go out to the war, a prophet gave him counsel to dismiss the army of the Israelites, because they were bad men, and because God foretold that he should be beaten, if he made use of them as auxiliaries; but that he should overcome his enemies, though he had but a few soldiers, when it so pleased God. And when the king grudged at his having already paid the hire of the Israelites, the prophet exhorted him to do what God would have him, because he should thereby obtain much wealth from God. So he dismissed them, and said that he still freely gave them their pay, and went himself with his own army, and made war with the nations before mentioned; and when he had beaten them in battle, he slew of them ten thousand, and took as many prisoners alive, whom he brought to the great rock which is in Arabia, and threw them down from it headlong. He also brought away a great deal of prey and vast riches from those nations. But while Amaziah was engaged in this expedition, those Israelites whom he had hired, and then dismissed, were very uneasy at it, and taking their dismission for an affront, (as supposing that this would not have been done to them but out of contempt,) they fell upon his kingdom, and proceeded to spoil the country as far as Beth-horon, and took much cattle, and slew three thousand men.

2. Now upon the victory which Amaziah had gotten, and the great acts he had done, he was puffed up, and began to overlook God, who had given him the victory, and proceeded to worship the gods he had brought out of the country of the Amalekites. So a prophet came to him, and said, that he wondered how he could esteem these to be gods, who had been of no advantage to their own people who paid them honors, nor had delivered them from his hands, but had overlooked the destruction of many of them, and had suffered themselves to be carried captive, for that they had been carried to Jerusalem in the same manner as any one might have taken some of the enemy alive, and led them thither. This reproof provoked the king to anger, and he commanded the prophet to hold his peace, and threatened to punish him if he meddled with his conduct. So he replied, that he should indeed hold his peace; but foretold withal, that God would not overlook his attempts for innovation. But Amaziah was not able to contain himself under that prosperity which God had given him, although he had affronted God thereupon; but in a vein of insolence he wrote to Joash, the king of Israel, and commanded that he and all his people should be obedient to him, as they had formerly been obedient to his progenitors, David and Solomon; and he let him know, that if he would not be so wise as to do what he commanded him, he must fight for his dominion. To which message Joash returned this answer in writing: "King Joash to king Amaziah. There was a vastly tall cypress tree in Mount Lebanon, as also a thistle; this thistle sent to the cypress tree to give the cypress tree's daughter in marriage to the thistle's son; but as the thistle was saying this, there came a wild beast, and trod down the thistle: and this may be a lesson to thee, not to be so ambitious, and to have a care, lest upon thy good success in the fight against the Amalekites thou growest so proud, as to bring dangers upon thyself and upon thy kingdom."

3. When Amaziah had read this letter, he was more eager upon this expedition, which, I suppose, was by the impulse of God, that he might be punished for his offense against him. But as soon as he led out his army against Joash, and they were going to join battle with him, there came such a fear and consternation upon the army of Amaziah, as God, when he is displeased, sends upon men, and discomfited them, even before they came to a close fight. Now it happened, that as they were scattered about by the terror that was upon them, Amaziah was left alone, and was taken prisoner by the enemy; whereupon Joash threatened to kill him, unless he would persuade the people of Jerusalem to open their gates to him, and receive him and his army into the city. Accordingly Amaziah was so distressed, and in such fear of his life, that he made his enemy to be received into the city. So Joash over threw a part of the wall, of the length of four hundred cubits, and drove his chariot through the breach into Jerusalem, and led Amaziah captive along with him; by which means he became master of Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of God, and carried off all the gold and silver that was in the king's palace, and then freed the king from captivity, and returned to Samaria. Now these things happened to the people of Jerusalem in the fourteenth year of the reign of Amaziah, who after this had a conspiracy made against him by his friends, and fled to the city Lachish, and was there slain by the conspirators, who sent men thither to kill him. So they took up his dead body, and carried it to Jerusalem, and made a royal funeral for him. This was the end of the life of Amaziah, because of his innovations in religion, and his contempt of God, when he had lived fifty-four years, and had reigned twenty-nine. He was succeeded by his son, whose name was Uzziah.

CHAPTER 10.

Concerning Jeroboam King Of Israel And Jonah The Prophet; And How After The Death Of Jeroboam His Son Zachariah Took The Government. How Uzziah, King Of Jerusalem, Subdued The Nations That Were Round About Him; And What Befell Him When He Attempted To Offer Incense To God.

1. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Amaziah, Jeroboam the son of Joash reigned over Israel in Samaria forty years. This king was guilty of contumely against God, (18) and became very wicked in worshipping of idols, and in many undertakings that were absurd and foreign. He was also the cause of ten thousand misfortunes to the people of Israel. Now one Jonah, a prophet, foretold to him that he should make war with the Syrians, and conquer their army, and enlarge the bounds of his kingdom on the northern parts to the city Hamath, and on the southern to the lake Asphaltitis; for the bounds of the Canaanites originally were these, as Joshua their general had determined them. So Jeroboam made an expedition against the Syrians, and overran all their country, as Jonah had foretold.

2. Now I cannot but think it necessary for me, who have promised to give an accurate account of our affairs, to describe the actions of this prophet, so far as I have found them written down in the Hebrew books. Jonah had been commanded by God to go to the kingdom of Nineveh; and when he was there, to publish it in that city, how it should lose the dominion it had over the nations. But he went not, out of fear; nay, he ran away from God to the city of Joppa, and finding a ship there, he went into it, and sailed to Tarsus, in Cilicia (19) and upon the rise of a most terrible storm, which was so great that the ship was in danger of sinking, the mariners, the master, and the pilot himself, made prayers and vows, in case they escaped the sea: but Jonah lay still and covered [in the ship,] without imitating any thing that the others did; but as the waves grew greater, and the sea became more violent by the winds, they suspected, as is usual in such cases, that some one of the persons that sailed with them was the occasion of this storm, and agreed to discover by lot which of them it was. When they had cast lots, (21) the lot fell upon the prophet; and when they asked him whence he came, and what he had done? he replied, that he was a Hebrew by nation, and a prophet of Almighty God; and he persuaded them to cast him into the sea, if they would escape the danger they were in, for that he was the occasion of the storm which was upon them. Now at the first they durst not do so, as esteeming it a wicked thing to cast a man who was a stranger, and who had committed his life to them, into such manifest perdition; but at last, when their misfortune overbore them, and the ship was just going to be drowned, and when they were animated to do it by the prophet himself, and by the fear concerning their own safety, they cast him into the sea; upon which the sea became calm. It is also reported that Jonah was swallowed down by a whale, and that when he had been there three days, and as many nights, he was vomited out upon the Euxine Sea, and this alive, and without any hurt upon his body; and there, on his prayer to God, he obtained pardon for his sins, and went to the city Nineveh, where he stood so as to be heard, and preached, that in a very little time they should lose the dominion of Asia. And when he had published this, he returned. Now I have given this account about him as I found it written [in our books.]

3. When Jeroboam the king had passed his life in great happiness, and had ruled forty years, he died, and was buried in Samaria, and his son Zachariah took the kingdom. After the same manner did Uzziah, the son of Amaziah, begin to reign over the two tribes in Jerusalem, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam. He was born of Jecoliah, his mother, who was a citizen of Jerusalem. He was a good man, and by nature righteous and magnanimous, and very laborious in taking care of the affairs of his kingdom. He made an expedition also against the Philistines, and overcame them in battle, and took the cities of Gath and Jabneh, and brake down their walls; after which expedition he assaulted those Arabs that adjoined to Egypt. He also built a city upon the Red Sea, and put a garrison into it. He, after this, overthrew the Ammonites, and appointed that they should pay tribute. He also overcame all the countries as far as the bounds of Egypt, and then began to take care of Jerusalem itself for the rest of his life; for he rebuilt and repaired all those parts of the wall which had either fallen down by length of time, or by the carelessness of the kings, his predecessors, as well as all that part which had been thrown down by the king of Israel, when he took his father Amaziah prisoner, and entered with him into the city. Moreover, he built a great many towers, of one hundred and fifty cubits high, and built walled towns in desert places, and put garrisons into them, and dug many channels for conveyance of water. He had also many beasts for labor, and an immense number of cattle; for his country was fit for pasturage. He was also given to husbandry, and took care to cultivate the ground, and planted it with all sorts of plants, and sowed it with all sorts of seeds. He had also about him an army composed of chosen men, in number three hundred and seventy thousand, who were governed by general officers and captains of thousands, who were men of valor, and of unconquerable strength, in number two thousand. He also divided his whole army into bands, and armed them, giving every one a sword, with brazen bucklers and breastplates, with bows and slings; and besides these, he made for them many engines of war for besieging of cities, such as cast stones and darts, with grapplers, and other instruments of that sort.

4. While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparation [for futurity], he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent, and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish, and despised that power which is of eternal duration (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of the laws); so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs, and was carried headlong into those sins of his father, which the splendor of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into, while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly, when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar, which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the high priest, who had fourscore priests with him, and who told him that it was not lawful for him


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