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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
[not izrcel] (Heb. Yisrael', יַשְׂרָאֵל; Sept. and N.T. Ι᾿σραήλ ), the name of the founder of the Jewish nation, and of the nation itself, specially of the kingdom comprising the ten northern tribes after the schism.
The name was originally conferred by the angel-Jehovah upon Jacob after the memorable prayer-struggle at Peniel (Genesis 32:28); and the reason there assigned is that the patriarch "as a prince had power (שָׂרַית ) With God and man, and prevailed" (comp. Genesis 25:10; Hosea 12:4). The etymology is therefore clearly from the root שָׂרָה, with the frequent adjunct אֵל, God. The verb itself occurs nowhere else than in the above passages, where it evidently means to strive or contend as in battle; but derivatives are found, e.g. שָׂרָה, a princess, and hence applied to Abraham's wife in exchange for her former name Sarai. The signification thus appears to be that of a "successful wrestler with God," a sense with which all the lexicographers substantially coincide; e.g. Gesenius (Heb. Lex. s.v., and Thesaur. p. 1338), pugmator, i.e. miles Dei; Winer (Heb. Lex. p. 1026), luctator, i.e. pugnator Dei; Furst (Heb, Worterb. s. r.), Gott-Beherrscher.
1. JACOB, whose history will be found under that name. Although, as applied to Jacob personally, Israel is an honorable or poetical appellation, it is the common prose name of his descendants, while, on the contrary, the title Jacob is given to them only in poetry in the latter division of Isaiah (after the 39th chapter), many instances occur of the two names used side by side, to subserve the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, as in Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:14; Genesis 41:20-21; Genesis 42:24; Genesis 43:1; Genesis 43:22; Genesis 43:28, etc.; so, indeed, in Genesis 14:1. The modern Jews, at least in the East, are fond of being named Israeli in preference to Yahudi, as more honorable. (See JACOB).
2. The ISRAELITES, i.e. the whole people of Israel, the twelve tribes; often called the children of Israel (Joshua 3:17; Joshua 7:25; Judges 8:27; Jeremiah 3:21); and the house of Israel (Exodus 16:31; Exodus 40:38); so also in Israel (1 Samuel 9:9); and land of Israel, i.e. Palestine (1 Samuel 13:19; 2 Kings 6:23). Sometimes the whole people is represented as one person: "Israel is my son" (Exodus 4:22; Numbers 20:14; Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 42:24; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:15; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 44:5). Israel is sometimes put emphatically for the true Israelites, the faithful, those distinguished for piety and virtue, and worthy of the name (Psalms 73:1; Isaiah 45:17; Isaiah 49:3; John 1:47; Romans 9:6; Romans 11:26). Israelites was the usual name of the twelve tribes, from their leaving Egypt until- after the death of Saul. But in consequence of the dissensions between the ten tribes and Judah from the death of Saul onward, these ten tribes, among whom Ephraim took the lead, arrogated to themselves this honorable name of the whole nation (2 Samuel 2:9-10; 2 Samuel 2:17; 2 Samuel 2:28; 2 Samuel 3:10; 2 Samuel 3:17; 2 Samuel 19:40-43; 1 Kings 12:1); and on their separation, after the death of Solomon, into an independent kingdom, founded by Jeroboam, this name was adopted for the kingdom, so that thenceforth the kings of the ten tribes were called kings of Israel, and the descendants of David, who ruled over Judah and Benjamin, were called kings of Judah. So in the prophets of that period Judah and Israel are put in opposition (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:3; Hosea 5:5; Hosea 6:10; Hosea 7:1; Hosea 8:2-3; Hosea 8:6; Hosea 8:8; Hosea 9:1; Hosea 9:7; Amos 1:1; Amos 2:6; Amos 3:14; Micah 1:5; Isaiah 5:7). Yet the kingdom of Judah could still be reckoned as a part of Israel, as in Isaiah 8:14, the two kingdoms are called the two houses of Israel; and hence, after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel at Samaria, the name Israel began again to be applied to the whole surviving people. (See HEBREW): Israelite, etc.
3. It is used in a narrower sense, excluding Judah, in 1 Samuel 11:8. It is so used in the famous cry of the rebels against David (2 Samuel 20:1) and against his grandson (1 Kings 12:16). Thenceforth it was assumed and accepted as the name of the northern kingdom, in which the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Levi, Dan, and Simeon had no share. (See ISRAEL, KINGDOM) OF.
4. After the Babylonian captivity, the returned exiles although they were mainly of the kingdom of Judah, resumed the name Israel as the designation of their nation, but as individuals they are almost always described as Jews in the Apocrypha arid N.T. Instances occur in the books of Chronicles of the application of the name Israel to Judah (e.g. 2 Chronicles 11:3; 2 Chronicles 12:6), and in Esther of the name Jews to the whole people. The name Israel is also used to denote laymen as distinguished from priests, Levites, and other ministers (Ezra 6:16; Ezra 9:1; Ezra 10:25; Nehemiah 11:3, etc.). — Smith. The twelve tribes of Israel ever formed the ideal representation of the whole stock (1 Kings 18:30-31; Ezra 6:17; Jeremiah 31:1, etc.). Hence also in the New Test. "Israel" is applied (as in No. 2 above) to the true people of God, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin (Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16. etc.), being, in fact, comprehensive of the entire Church of the redeemed. (See JEWS SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF).
The name Israel (q.v.), which at first had been the national designation of the twelve tribes collectively (Exodus 3:16, etc.), was, on the division of the monarchy, applied to the northern kingdom (a usage, however, not strictly observed, as in 2 Chronicles 12:6) in contradistinction to the other portion, which was termed the kingdom of Judah. This limitation of the name Israel to certain tribes, at the head of which was that of Ephraim, which, accordingly, in some of the prophetical writings, as e.g. Isaiah 17:13; Hosea 4:17, gives its own name to the northern kingdom, is discernible even at so early a period as the commencement of the reign of Saul, and affords evidence of the existence of some of the causes which eventually led to the schism of the nation. It indicated the existence of a rivalry, which needed only time and favorable circumstances to ripen into the revolt witnessed after the death of Solomon.
I. Causes of the Division. — The prophet Abijah, who had been commissioned to announce to Jeroboam, the Ephraimite, the transference to him of the greater part of the kingdom of Solomon, declared it to be the punishment of disobedience to the divine law, and particularly of the idolatry so largely promoted by Solomon (1 Kings 11:31-35). But while this revolt from the house of David is to be thus viewed in its directly penal character, or as a divine retribution, this does not preclude an inquiry into those sacred causes, political and otherwise, to which this very important revolution in Israelitish history is clearly referable. Such an inquiry, indeed, will make it evident how human passions and jealousies were made subservient to the divine purpose.
Prophecy had early assigned a pre-eminent place to two of the sons of Jacob-Judah and Joseph-as the founders of tribes. In the blessing pronounced upon his sons by the dying patriarch, Joseph had the birthright conferred upon him, and was promised in his son Ephraim a numerous progeny; while to Judah promise was made, among other blessings, of rule or dominion over his brethren-" thy father's children shall bow-down before thee" (Genesis 48:19; Genesis 48:22; Genesis 49:8; Genesis 49:26; comp. 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).
These blessings were repeated and enlarged in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:7; Deuteronomy 33:17). The pre-eminence thus prophetically assigned to these two tribes received a partial verification in the fact that at the exodus their numbers were nearly equal, and far in excess of those of the other tribes; and further, as became their position, they were the first who obtained their territories, which were also assigned them in the very center of the land. It is unnecessary to advert to the various other circumstances which contributed to the growth and aggrandizement of these two tribes, and which, from the position these were thus enabled to acquire above the rest, naturally led to their becoming heads of parties, and, as such, the objects of mutual rivalry and contention. The Ephraimites, indeed, from the very first, gave unmistakable tokens of an exceedingly haughty temper, and preferred most arrogant claims over the other tribes as regards questions of peace and war. This may be seen in their representation to Gideon of the tribe of Manasseh (Judges 8:1), and in their conduct towards Jephthah (Judges 12:1). Now if this overbearing people resented in the case of tribes so inconsiderable as that of Manasseh what they regarded as a slight, it is easy to conceive how they must have eyed the proceedings of the tribe of Judah, which was more especially their rival. Hence it was, that while on the first establishment of the monarchy in the person of Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, the Ephraimites, with the other northern tribes with whom they were associated, silently acquiesced, they refused for seven years to submit to his successor of the tribe of Judah (2 Samuel 2:9-11), and even after their submission they showed a disposition on any favorable opportunity to raise the cry of revolt: "To your tents, O Israel" (2 Samuel 20:1).
It was this early, long-continued, and deep-rooted feeling, strengthened and embittered by the schism, though not concurring with it, that gave point to the language in which Isaiah predicted the blessed times of Messiah: The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (Isaiah 11:13). Indeed, for more than 400 years, from the time that Joshua was the leader of the Israelitish hosts, Ephraim, with the dependent tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin, may be said to have exercised undisputed pre-eminence till the accession of David. Accordingly it is not surprising that such a people would not readily submit to an arrangement which, though declared to be of divine appointment, should place them in a subordinate condition, as when God "refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, even the Mount Zion which he loved" (Psalms 78:67-68). (See EPHRAIM).
There were thus, indeed, two powerful elements tending to break up the national unity. In addition to the long-continued and growing jealousy on the part of the Ephraimites to the tribe of Judah, another cause of dissatisfaction to the dynasty of David in particular was the arrangement just referred to, which consisted in the removal of the civil, and more particularly the ecclesiastical government, to Jerusalem. The Mosaic ordinances were in themselves exceedingly onerous, and this must have been more especially felt by such as were resident at a distance from the sanctuary, as it entailed upon them long journeys, not only when attending the stated festivals, but also on numerous other occasions prescribed in the law. This must have been felt as a special grievance by the Ephraimites, owing to the fact that the national sanctuary had been for a very long period at Shiloh, within their own territory and therefore its transference elsewhere, it is easy to discern, would not be readily acquiesced in by a people who had proved themselves in other respects so jealous of their rights, and not easily persuaded that this was not rather a political expedient on the part of the rival tribe, than as a matter of divine choice (1 Kings 14:21). Nor is it to be overlooked, in connection with this subject, that other provisions of the theocratic economy relative to the annual festivals would be taken advantage of by those in whom there existed already a spirit of dissatisfaction. Even within o6 limited a locality as Palestine, there must have been inequalities of climate, which must have considerably affected the seasons, more particularly the vintage and harvest, with which the feasts may in some measure have interfered, and in so far may have been productive of discontent between the northern and southern residents. That there were inconveniences in both the respects now mentioned would indeed appear from the appeal made by Jeroboam to his new subjects, when, for reasons of state policy, and in order to perpetuate the schism by making it religious as well as political, he would dissuade them from attendance on the feasts in Judah: ‘ It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem" (1 Kings 12:28); and from the fact that he postponed for a whole month the celebration of the feast of tabernacles (1 Kings 12:32), a change to which it is believed he was induced, or in the adoption of which he was at least greatly aided, by the circumstance of the harvest being considerably later in the northern than in the southern districts (Pict. Bible, note on 1 Kings 12:32).
Again, the burdensome exactions in the form of service and tribute imposed on his subjects by Solomon for his extensive buildings, and the maintenance of his splendid and luxurious court, must have still further deepened this disaffection, which originated in one or other of the causes already referred to. It may indeed be assumed that this grievance was of a character which appealed to the malcontents more directly than any other; and that these burdens, required especially for the beautifying of the capital, must have been exceedingly disagreeable to the inhabitants of the provinces, who did not in any way participate in the glories in support of which such onerous charges were required. The burdens thus imposed were indeed expressly stated to be the chief ground of complaint by the representatives of Israel headed by Jeroboam, who, on the occasion of the coronation at Shechem, waited on the son of Solomon with a view to obtain redress (1 Kings 12:4). The long smoldering dissatisfaction could no longer be repressed, and a mitigation of their burdens was imperiously demanded by the people. For this end Jeroboam had been summoned, at the death of Solomon, from Egypt, whose presence must have had a marked influence on the issue, although it may be a question whether Jeroboam should not be regarded rather as an instrument called forth by the occasion than as himself the instigator of the revolt. With this agrees the intimation made to him from the Lord many years before by Ahijah the Shilonite. The very choice of Shechem, within the territories of Ephraim, as the coronation place of Rehoboam, may have had for its object the repression of the rebellious spirit in the northern tribes by means of so grand and imposing a ceremony.
However this may have been, or in whatever degree the causes specified may have severally operated in producing the revolt, the breach now made was never healed, God himself expressly forbidding all attempts on the part of Rehoboam and his counselors to subjugate the revolted provinces with the intimation, "This thing is from me" (1 Kings 12:24). The subsequent history of the two kingdoms was productive, with but slight exceptions, of further estrangement.
II. Extent and Resources of the Kingdom of Israel. The area of Palestine, even at its utmost extent under Solomon, was very circumscribed. In its geographical relations it certainly bore no comparison whatever to the other great empires of antiquity, nor indeed was there any proportion between its size and the mighty influences which have emanated from its soil. Making allowance for the territories on the shore of the Mediterranean in the possession of the Phoenicians, the area of Palestine did not much exceed 13,000 square miles. This limited extent, it might be shown, however, did the present subject call for it, rendered that land more suitable for the purposes of the theocracy than if it were of a far larger area. What precise extent of territories was embraced in the kingdom of Israel cannot be very easily determined, but it may be safely estimated as more than double that of the southern kingdom, or, according to a more exact ratio, as 9 to 4. Nor is it easy to specify with exactness the several tribes which composed the respective kingdoms. In the announcement made by Ahijah to Jeroboam, he is assured often tribes, while only one is reserved for the house of David; but this must be taken only in a general sense, and is to be interpreted by 1 Kings 12:23 (compare 1 Kings 12:21); for it would appear that Simeon, part of Dan, and the greater part of Benjamin, owing doubtless to the fact that Jerusalem itself was situated within that tribe, formed portion of the kingdom of Judah (Ewald, Geschichte, 3:409).
It is to be noticed, however, that Judah was the only independent tribe, and therefore it might be spoken of as the one which constituted the kingdom of the house of David. The ten tribes nominally assigned to Israel were probably Joseph (=Ephraim and Manasseh), Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, Benjamin, Dan, Simeon, Gad, and Reuben, Levi being intentionally omitted; the ten actually embraced in it seem to have been Ephraim, Manasseh (East and West), Issachar, Zebulon, Asher, Naphtali, Gad, Reuben, and (in part) Dan. With. respect to the conquests of David, Moab appears to have been attached to the kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 3:4); as much of Syria as remained subject to Solomon (see 1 Kings 11:24) would probably be claimed by his successor in the northern kingdom; and Ammon, though connected with Rehoboam as his mother's native land (2 Chronicles 12:13), and though afterwards tributary to Judah (2 Chronicles 27:5), was at one time allied (2 Chronicles 20:1), we know not how closely or how early, with Moab. The seacoast between Accho and Japho remained in the possession of Israel.
With regard to population, again, the data are even more defective than with respect to territorial extent. According to the uncompleted census taken in the reign of David, about forty years previous to the schism of the kingdom, the fighting men in Israel numbered 800,000, and in Judah 500,000 (2 Samuel 24:9); but in 1 Chronicles 21:5-6, the numbers are differently stated at 1,100,000 and 470,000 respectively, with the intimation that Levi and Benjamin were not included (comp. 1 Chronicles 27:24). As bearing more directly on this point, Rehoboam raised an army of 180,000 men out of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:21); and again, Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, with 400,000 men, made war on Jeroboam at the head of an army of 800,000 (2 Chronicles 13:3). According to the general laws observable in such cases, these numbers may be said to represent an aggregate population of from five and a half to six millions, of which about one third, or two millions, may be fairly assigned to the kingdom of Judah at the time of the separation.
Shechem was the first capital of the new kingdom (1 Kings 12:25), venerable for its traditions, and beautiful in its situation. Subsequently Tirzah, whose loveliness had fixed the wandering gaze of Solomon (Song of Solomon 6:4), became the royal residence, if not the capital of Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:17) and of his successors (1 Kings 15:33; 1 Kings 16:8; 1 Kings 16:17; 1 Kings 16:23). — After the murder of Jeroboam's son, indeed, Baasha seems to have intended to fix his capital at Ramah, as a convenient place for annoying the king of Judah, whom he looked on as his only dangerous enemy; but he was forced to renounce this plan (1 Kings 4:17; 1 Kings 4:21). Samaria, uniting in itself the qualities of beauty and fertility, and a commanding position, was chosen by Omri (1 Kings 16:24), and remained the capital of the kingdom until it had given the last proof of its strength by sustaining for three years the onset of the hosts of Assyria. Jezreel was probably only a royal residence of some of the Israelitish kings. It may have been in awe of the ancient holiness of Shiloh that Jeroboam forbore to pollute the secluded site of the tabernacle with the golden calves. He chose for the religious capitals of his kingdom Dan, the old home of northern schism, and Bethel, a Benjamite city not far from Shiloh, and marked out by history and situation as the rival of Jerusalem.
III. Political and Religious Relations of the Kingdom of Israel. — But whilst, in extent of territory and of population, and it might be shown also in various other respects, the resources of the northern kingdom were at the very least double those of its southern rival, the latter embraced elements of strength which were entirely lacking in the other. There was first the geographical position of the kingdom of Israel, which exposed its northern frontier to invasions on the part of Syria and the Assyrian hosts. But more than this, or any exposure to attack from without, were the dangers to be apprehended from the polity on which the kingdom was founded. Jeroboam's public sanction of idolatry, and his other interferences with fundamental principles of the Mosaic law, more especially in the matter of the priesthood, at once alienated from his government all who were well affected to that economy, and who were not ready to subordinate their religion to any political considerations. Of such there were not a few within the territories of the new kingdom. The Levites m particular fled the kingdom, abandoning their property and possessions: and so did many others besides; "such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah" (2 Chronicles 11:13-17). Not only was one great source of strength thus at once dried up, but the strongly conservating principles of the law were violently shocked, and the kingdom more than ever exposed to the encroachments of the heathenism which extended along its frontier.
One element of weakness in the kingdom of Israel was the number of tribes of which it was composed, more especially after they had renounced those principles of the Mosaic law which, while preserving the individuality of the tribes, served to bind them together as one people. Among other circumstances unfavorable to unity was the want of a capital in which all had a common interest, and with which they were connected by some common tie. This want was by no means compensated by the religious establishments at Bethel and Dan. But it is in respect to theocratic and religious relations that the weakness of the kingdom of Israel specially appears. Any sanction which the usurpation of Jeroboam may have derived at first from the announcement made to him by the prophet Ahijah, and afterwards from the charge given to Rehoboam and the men of Judah not to fight against Israel, because the thing was from the Lord (1 Kings 12:23), must have been completely taken away by the denunciations of the prophet out of Judah against the altar at Bethel (1 Kings 13:1-10), and the subsequent announcements of Ahijah himself to Jeroboam, who failed to fulfill the conditions on which the kingdom was given him (1 Kings 14:7-16). The setting up of the worship of the calves, in which may be traced the influence of Jeroboam's residence in Egypt, and the consecrating of priests who could have no moral weight with their fellow-subjects, and were chosen only for their subservience to the royal will, were measures by no means calculated to consolidate a power from which the divine sanction had been expressly withdrawn. On the contrary, they led, and very speedily, to the alienation of many who might at the outset have silently acquiesced in the revolution, even if they had not fully approved of it. The large migration which ensued into Judah of all who were favorable to the former institutions must still further have aggravated the evil, as all vigorous opposition would thenceforth cease to the downward and destructive tendency of the anti-theocratic policy. The natural result of the course appears in the fact that the step taken by Jeroboam was never retraced by any of his successors, one after another following the example thus set to them, so that Jeroboam is emphatically and frequently characterized in Scripture as the man "who made Israel to sin," while his successors are described as following in "the sin of Jeroboam."
Further, as the calves of Jeroboam are referable to Egypt, so the worship of Baal, which was introduced by Ahab, the seventh of the Israelitish kings, had its origin in the Tyrian alliance formed by that monarch through his marriage with Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. Hitherto the national religion was ostensibly the worship of Jehovah under the representation of the calves; but under this new reign every attempt was made to extirpate this worship entirely by the destruction of God's prophets and the subversion of his altars. It was to meet this new phase of things that the strenuous agency of Elijah, Elisha, and their associates was directed, and assumed a quite peculiar form of prophetic ministration, though still the success was but partial and temporary. (See ELIJAH) and (See ELISHA).
IV. Decay and Dissolution of the Kingdom of Israel. — The kingdom of Israel developed no new power. It was but a portion of David's kingdom deprived of many elements of strength. Its frontier was as open and as widely extended as before, but it wanted a capital for the seat of organized power. Its territory was as fertile and as tempting to the spoiler, but its people were less united and patriotic. A corrupt religion poisoned the source of national life. While less reverence attended on a new and unconsecrated king, and-less respect was felt for an aristocracy reduced by the retirement of the Levites, the army which David found hard to control rose up unchecked in the exercise of its willful strength; and thus eight houses, each ushered in by a revolution, occupied the throne in quick succession, Tyre ceased to be an ally when the alliance was no longer profitable to the merchant city. Moab and Ammon yielded tribute only while under compulsion. A powerful neighbor, Damascus, sat armed at the gate of Israel; and beyond Damascus might be discerned the rising strength of the first great monarchy of the world.
The history of the kingdom of Israel is therefore the history of its decay and dissolution. In no true sense did it manifest a principle of progress, save only in swerving more and more completely from the ‘ course marked out by Providence and revelation for the seed of Abraham; and yet the history is interesting as showing how, notwithstanding the ever-widening breach between the two great branches of the one community, the divine purposes concerning. them were accomplished. That a polity constituted as was that of the northern kingdom contained in it potent elements of decay must be self-evident, even were the fact less clearly marked on every page of its history.
There is reason to believe that Jeroboam carried back with him into Israel the good will, if not the substantial assistance of Shishak, and this will account for his escaping the storm from Egypt which swept over Rehoboam in his fifth year (2 Chronicles 12:2-9). During that first period Israel was far from quiet within. Although the ten tribes collectively had decided in favor of Jeroboam, great numbers of individuals remained attached to the family of David and to the worship at Jerusalem, and in the three first years of Rehoboam migrated into Judah (2 Chronicles 11:16-17). Perhaps it was not until this process commenced that Jeroboam was worked up to the desperate measure of erecting rival sanctuaries with visible idols (1 Kings 12:27); a measure which met the usual ill-success of profane state-craft, and aggravated the evil which he feared. Jeroboam had not sufficient force of character in himself to make a lasting impression on his people. A king, but not a founder of a dynasty, he aimed at nothing beyond securing his present elevation. Without any ambition to share in the commerce of Tyre, or to compete with the growing power of Damascus, or even to complete the humiliation of the helpless monarch whom he had deprived of half a kingdom, Jeroboam acted entirely on a defensive policy. He attempted to give his subjects a center which they wanted for their political allegiance, in Shechem or in Tirzah.
He sought to change merely so much of their ritual as was inconsistent with his authority over them. But, as soon as the golden calves were set up, the priests, and Levites, and many religious Israelites (2 Chronicles 11:16) left their country, and the disastrous emigration was not effectually checked even by the attempt of Baasha to build a fortress (2 Chronicles 16:6) at Ramah. A new priesthood was introduced (1 Kings 12:31) absolutely dependent on the king (Amos 7:13); not forming, asunder the Mosaic law, a landed aristocracy, not respected by the people, and unable either to withstand the oppression or to strengthen the weakness of a king. A priesthood created and a ritual devised for secular purposes had no hold whatever on the conscience of the people. To meet their spiritual cravings a succession of prophets was raised up, great in their poverty, their purity, their austerity, their self-dependence, their moral influence, but imperfectly organized-a rod to correct and check the civil government, not, as they might have been under happier circumstances, a staff to support it. The army soon learned its power to dictate to the isolated monarch and disunited people. Although Jeroboam, the founder of the kingdom, himself reigned nearly twenty-two years, yet his son and successor Nadab was violently cut off after a brief reign of less than two years, and with him the whole house of Jeroboam.
Thus speedily closed the first dynasty, and it was but a type of those which followed. Eight houses, each ushered in by a revolution, occupied the throne in rapid succession, the army being frequently the prime movers in these transactions. Thus Baasha, in the midst of the army at Gibbethon, slew Nadab, the son of Jeroboam; and, again, Zimri, a captain of chariots, slew Elah, the son and successor of Baasha, and reigned only seven days, during which time, however, he smote ail the posterity and kindred of his predecessor, and ended his own days by suicide (1 Kings 16:18). Omri, the captain of the host, was chosen to punish the usurper Zimri, and after a civil war of four years he prevailed over his other rival Tibni, the choice of half the people. Omri, the sixth in order of the Israelitish-kings, founded a more lasting dynasty, for it endured for forty-five years, he having been succeeded by his son Ahab, of whom it is recorded that he "did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (1 Kings 16:33); and he, again, by his son Ahaziah, who, after a reign of less than two years, died from the effects of a fall, and, leaving no son, was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, who reigned twelve years, until slain by Jehu, the captain of the army at Ramoth-Gilead, who also executed the total destruction of the family of Ahab, which perished like those of Jeroboam and of Baasha (2 Kings 9:9).
Meanwhile the relations between the rival kingdoms were, as might be expected, ‘ of a very unfriendly character. "There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days" (1 Kings 14:30); so also between Asa and Baasha (1 Kings 15:14; 1 Kings 15:32). The first mention of peace was that made by Jehoshaphat with Ahab (1 Kings 22:44), and which was continued between their two successors. The princes of Omri's house cultivated an alliance with the contemporary kings of Judah. which was cemented by the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah, and marked by the community of names among the royal children. Ahab's Tyrian alliance strengthened him with the counsels of the masculine mind of Jezebel, but brought him no further support.
The kingdom of Israel suffered also from foreign enemies. In the reign of Omri the Syrians had made themselves masters of a portion of the land of Israel (1 Kings 20:33), and had proceeded so far as to erect streets for themselves in Samaria, which had just been made the capital. Further- incursions were checked by Ahab, who concluded a peace with the Syrians which lasted three years (1 Kings 22:1), until that king, in league with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. attempted to wrest Ramoth-Gilead out of their hands, an act which cost him his life. The death of Ahab was followed by the revolt of the Moabites (2 Kings 1:4), who were again, however, subjugated by Jehoram, in league with Jehoshaphat. Again the Syrians renewed their inroads on the kingdom of Israel, and even besieged Samaria, but fled through panic. In the reign of Jehu "the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel" (2 Kings 10:32). Their troubles from that quarter increased still further during the following reign, when the Syrians reduced them to the utmost extremities (2 Kings 13:7). To this more prosperous days succeeded, with a reverse to Judah, whose king presumptuously declared war against Israel.
Under Jeroboam II, who reigned forty-two years, the affairs of the northern kingdom revived. "He restored the coast of Israel, from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain; he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel" (2 Kings 14:25; 2 Kings 14:28). Damascus was by this time probably weakened by the advance of the power of Assyria. This period of prosperity was followed by another of a totally different character. Jeroboam's son and successor Zachariah, the last of the dynasty of Jehu, was assassinated, after a reign of six months, by Shallum, who, after a reign of only one month, was slain by Menahem, whose own son and successor Pekahiah was' in turn murdered by Pekah, one of his captains, who was himself smitten by Hoshea. In the days of Menahem, and afterwards of Pekah, the Assyrians are seen extending their power over Israel; first under Pul, to whom Menahem paid a tribute of threescore talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom hi his hand (2 Kings 15:19). Now the Assyrians are found pushing their conquests in every direction; at one time, in the reign of Pekah, leading away into captivity a' part of the inhabitants of Israel (2 Kings 15:29), and again coming to the assistance of Ahaz, king of Judah, then besieged in Jerusalem by the Israelites, in conjunction with the Syrians, who had somehow recovered their former ascendency. (See SYRIA).
This interposition led to the destruction of Damascus, and in the succeeding weak reign of Hoshea, who had formed some secret alliance with Egypt which was offensive to the Assyrian monarch, to the destruction of Samaria, after a three-years' siege, by Shalmaneser, and the removal of its inhabitants to Assyria; and thus terminated the kingdom of Israel, after an existence of 253 years. Some gleanings of the ten tribes yet remained in the land after so many years of religious decline, moral debasement, national degradation, anarchy, bloodshed, and deportation. Even these were gathered up by the conqueror and carried to Assyria, never again, as a distinct people, to occupy their portion of that goodly and pleasant land which their forefathers won under Joshua from the heathen. (See Ewald, Einleitung in die Geschichte des Volkes Israel, and Geschichte des Volkes Israel bis Christus, Gö tting. 1851; also Witsii. Δεκάφυλον , de decent tribubus Israel, in his AEgyptica, p. 303 sq.; J. G. Klaiber, Hist. regni Ephraim., Stuttg. 1833.)
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