THE ISRAELITES IN THE LAND OF CANAAN: THE JUDGES -- THE PHILISTINES AND THE HEBREW KINGDOM -- SAUL, DAVID, SOLOMON, THE DEFECTION OF THE TEN TRIBES -- THE XXIst EGYPTIAN DYNASTY -- SHESHONQ OR SHISHAK DAMASCUS.
The Hebrews in the desert: their families, clans, and tribes -- The Amorites and the Hebrews on the left bank of the Jordan -- The conquest of Canaan and the native reaction against the Hebrews -- The judges, Ehud, Deborah, Jerubbaal or Gideon and the Manassite supremacy; Abimelech, Jephihdh.
The Philistines, their political organisation, their army and fleet -- Judah, Dan, and the story of Samson -- Benjamin on the Philistine frontier -- Eli and the ark of the covenant -- The Philistine dominion over Israel; Samuel, Saul, the Benjamite monarchy -- David, his retreat to the desert of Judah and his sojourn at Zilclag -- The battle of Gilboa and the death of Saul -- The struggle between Ish-bosheth and David -- David sole king, and the final defeat of the Philistines -- Jerusalem becomes the capital; the removal of the ark -- Wars with the peoples of the East -- Absalom's rebellion; the coronation of Solomon.
Solomon's government and his buildings -- Phoenician colonisation in Spain: Hiram I. and the enlargement of Tyre -- The voyages to Ophir and Tarshish -- The palace at Jerusalem, the temple and its dedication: the priesthood and prophets -- The death of Solomon; the schism of the ten tribes and the division of the Hebrew kingdom.
The XXIst Egyptian dynasty: the Theban high priests and the Tanite Pharaohs -- The Libyan mercenaries and their predominance in the state: the origin of the XXIInd (Bubastite) dynasty -- Sheshonq I. as king and his son Auputi as high priest of Amon; the hiding-place at Deir el-Bahari -- Sheshonq's expedition against Jerusalem.
The two Hebrew |kingdoms|; the fidelity of Judah to the descendants of Solomon, and the repeated changes of dynasty in Israel -- Asa and Baasha -- The kingdom of Damascus and its origin -- Bezon, Tabrimmon, Benhadad I. -- Omri and the foundation of Samaria: Ahab and the Tyrian alliance -- The successors of Hiram I. at Tyre: Ithobaal I. -- The prophets, their struggle against Phonician idolatry, the story of Elijah -- The wars between Israel and Damascus up to the time of the Assyrian invasion.
[Illustration: 253.jpg PAGE IMAGE]
The Israelites in the land of Canaan: the judges -- The Philistines and the Hebrew kingdom -- Saul, David, Solomon, the defection of the ten tribes -- the XXIst Egyptian dynasty -- Sheshonq -- Damascus.
After reaching Kadesh-barnea, the Israelites in their wanderings had come into contact with various Bedawin tribes -- Kenites, Jerahmelites, Edomites, and Midianites, with whom they had in turn fought or allied themselves, according to the exigencies of their pastoral life. Continual skirmishes had taught them the art of war, their numbers had rapidly increased, and with this increase came a consciousness of their own strength, so that, after a lapse of two or three generations, they may be said to have constituted a considerable nation. Its component elements were not, however, firmly welded together; they consisted of an indefinite number of clans, which were again subdivided into several families. Each of these families had its chief or |ruler,| to whom it rendered absolute obedience, while the united chiefs formed an assembly of elders who administered justice when required, and settled any differences which arose among their respective followers. The clans in their turn were grouped into tribes,* according to certain affinities which they mutually recognised, or which may have been fostered by daily intercourse on a common soil, but the ties which bound them together at this period were of the most slender character. It needed some special event, such as a projected migration in search of fresh pasturage, or an expedition against a turbulent neighbour, or a threatened invasion by some stranger, to rouse the whole tribe to corporate action; at such times they would elect a |nasi,| or ruler, the duration of whose functions ceased with the emergency which had called him into office.**
* The tribe was designated by two words signifying |staff| or |branch.|
** The word nasi, first applied to the chiefs of the tribes (Exod. xxxiv.31; Lev. iv.22; Numb. ii.3), became, after the captivity, the title of the chiefs of Israel, who could not be called kings owing to the foreign suzerainty (Esdras i.8).
Both clans and tribes were designated by the name of some ancestor from whom they claimed to be descended, and who appears in some cases to have been a god for whom they had a special devotion; some writers have believed that this was also the origin of the names given to several of the tribes, such as Gad, |Good Fortune,| or of the totems of the hyena and the dog, in Arabic and Hebrew, |Simeon| and |Caleb.|* Gad, Simeon, and Caleb were severally the ancestors of the families who ranged themselves under their respective names, and the eponymous heroes of all the tribes were held to have been brethren, sons of one father, and under the protection of one God. He was known as the Jahveh with whom Abraham of old had made a solemn covenant; His dwelling-place was Mount Sinai or Mount Seir, and He revealed Himself in the storm;** His voice was as the thunder |which shaketh the wilderness,| His breath was as |a consuming fire,| and He was decked with light |as with a garment.| When His anger was aroused, He withheld the dew and rain from watering the earth; but when His wrath was appeased, the heavens again poured their fruitful showers upon the fields.***
* Simeon is derived by some from a word which at times denotes a hyena, at others a cross between a dog and a hyena, according to Arab lexicography. With regard to Caleb, Renan prefers a different interpretation; it is supposed to be a shortened form of Kalbel, and |Dog of El| is a strong expression to denote the devotion of a tribe to its patron god.
** Cf. the graphic description of the signs which
accompanied the manifestations of Jahveh in the Song of Deborah (Judges v.4, 5), and also in 1 Kings xix.11-13.
*** See 1 Kings xvii., xviii., where the conflict between Elijah and the prophets of Baal for the obtaining of rain is described.
He is described as being a |jealous God,| brooking no rival, and |visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.| We hear of His having been adored under the figure of a |calf,|* and of His Spirit inspiring His prophets, as well as of the anointed stones which were dedicated in His honour. The common ancestor of the nation was acknowledged to have been Jacob, who, by his wrestling with God, had obtained the name of Israel; the people were divided theoretically into as many tribes as he had sons, but the number twelve to which they were limited does not entirely correspond with all that we know up to the present time of these |children of Israel.| Some of the tribes appear never to have had any political existence, as for example that of Levi,** or they were merged at an early date into some fellow-tribe, as in the case of Reuben with Gad;*** others, such as Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, and Judah, apparently did not attain their normal development until a much later date.
* The most common of these animal forms was that of a calf or bull (Exod. xxxii.; Deut. ix.21; and in the kingly period, 1 Kings xii.28-30; 2 Kings x.29); we are not told the form of the image of Micah the Ephraimite (Judges xviii.14, 17, 18, 20, 30, 31).
** Levi appears to have suffered dispersion after the events of which there are two separate accounts combined in Gen. xxxiv. In conjunction with Simeon, he appears to have revenged the violation of his sister Dinah by a massacre of the Shechemites, and the dispersion alluded to in Jacob's blessing (Gen. xlix.5-7) is mentioned as consequent on this act of barbarism.
*** In the IXth century Mesha of Moab does not mention the Reubenites, and speaks of the Gadites only as inhabiting the territory formerly occupied by them. Tradition attributed the misfortunes of the tribe to the crime of its chief in his seduction of Bilhah, his father's concubine (Gen. xlix.3, 4; cf. xxxv.22)
The Jewish chroniclers attempted by various combinations to prove that the sacred number of tribes was the correct one. At times they included Levi in the list, in which case Joseph was reckoned as one;* while on other occasions Levi or Simeon was omitted, when for Joseph would be substituted his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh.** In addition to this, the tribes were very unequal in size: Ephraim, Gad, and Manasseh comprised many powerful and wealthy families; Dan, on the contrary, contained so few, that it was sometimes reckoned as a mere clan.
* As, for instance, in Jacob's blessing (Gen. xlix.5-7) and in the enumeration of the patriarch's sons at the time of his journey to Egypt (Gen. xlvi.9-26).
** Numb. i.20, et seq., where the descendants of Levi are not included among the twelve, and Deut. xxxiii.6-25, where Simeon is omitted from among the tribes blessed by Moses before his death.
The tribal organisation had not reached its full development at the time of the sojourn in the desert. The tribes of Joseph and Judah, who subsequently played such important parts, were at that period not held in any particular estimation; Reuben, on the other hand, exercised a sort of right of priority over the rest.*
* This conclusion is drawn from the position of eldest son given to him in all the genealogies enumerating the children of Jacob. Stade, on the contrary, is inclined to believe that this place of honour was granted to him on account of the smallness of his family, to prevent any jealousy arising between the more powerful tribes, such as Ephraim and Judah (Ges. des Vollces Isr., vol. i. pp.151, 152).
The territory which they occupied soon became insufficient to support their numbers, and they sought to exchange it for a wider area, such as was offered by the neighbouring provinces of Southern Syria. Pharaoh at this time exercised no authority over this region, and they were, therefore, no longer in fear of opposition from his troops; the latter had been recalled to Egypt, and it is doubtful even whether he retained possession of the Shephelah by means of his Zakkala and Philistine colonies; the Hebrews, at any rate, had nothing to fear from him so long as they respected Gaza and Ascalon. They began by attempting to possess themselves of the provinces around Hebron, in the direction of the Dead Sea, and we read that, before entering them, they sent out spies to reconnoitre and report on the country.* Its population had undergone considerable modifications since the Israelites had quitted Goshen. The Amorites, who had seriously suffered from the incursions of Asiatic hordes, and had been constantly harassed by the attacks of the Aramaeans, had abandoned the positions they had formerly occupied on the banks of the Orontes and the Litany, and had moved southwards, driving the Canaanites before them; their advance was accelerated as the resistance opposed to their hordes became lessened under the successors of Ramses III., until at length all opposition was withdrawn. They had possessed themselves of the regions about the Lake of Genesareth, the mountain district to the south of Tabor, the middle valley of the Jordan, and, pressing towards the territory east of that river, had attacked the cities scattered over the undulating table-land. This district had not been often subjected to incursions of Egyptian troops, and yet its inhabitants had been more impressed by Egyptian influence than many others.
[Illustration: 259.jpg THE AMORITE ASTARTE]
Drawn by Paucher-Gudin, from the squeezes and sketches published in the Zeitschrift ties Palcistina-Vereins.
Whereas, in the north and west, cuneiform writing was almost entirely used, attempts had been made here to adapt the hieroglyphs to the native language.
The only one of their monuments which has been preserved is a rudely carved bas-relief in black basalt, representing a two-horned Astarte, before whom stands a king in adoration; the sovereign is Ramses II., and the inscriptions accompanying the figures contain a religious formula together with a name borrowed from one of the local dialects.*
*This is the |Stone of Job| discovered by Strahmacher. The inscription appears to give the name of a goddess, Agana- Zaphon, the second part of which recalls the name of Baal- Zephon.
The Amorites were everywhere victorious, but our information is confined to this bare fact; soon after their victory, however, we find the territory they had invaded divided into two kingdoms: in the north that of Bashan, which comprised, besides the Hauran, the plain watered by the Yarrnuk; and to the south that of Heshbon, containing the district lying around the Arnon, and the Jabbok to the east of the Dead Sea.* They seem to have made the same rapid progress in the country between the Jordan and the Mediterranean as elsewhere. They had subdued some of the small Canaanite states, entered into friendly relation with others, and penetrated gradually as far south as the borders of Sinai, while we find them establishing petty kings among the hill-country of Shechem around Hebron, on the confines of the Negeb, and the Shephelah.** When the Hebrew tribes ventured to push forward in a direct line northwards, they came into collision with the advance posts of the Amorite population, and suffered a severe defeat under the walls of Hormah.*** The check thus received, however, did not discourage them. As a direct course was closed to them, they turned to the right, and followed, first the southern and then the eastern shores of the Red Sea, till they reached the frontier of Gilead.****
* The extension of the Amorite power in this direction is proved by the facts relating to the kingdoms of Sihon and Og Gent. i.4, ii.24-37, iii.1-1.7.
** For the Amorite occupation of the Negeb and the hill- country of Judah, cf. Numb. xiii.29; Bent. i.7, 19-46; Josh. x.5, 6, 12, xi.3; for their presence in the Shephelah, cf. Judges i.34-36.
*** See the long account in Numb, xiii., xiv., which terminates with the mention of the defeat of the Israelites at Hormah; and cf. Bent. i.19-46.
**** The itinerary given in Numb. xx.22-29, xxxi., xxxiii.37-49, and repeated in Bent, ii., brings the Israelites as far as Ezion-geber, in such a manner as to avoid the Midianites and the Moabites. The friendly welcome accorded to them in the regions situated to the east of the Dead Sea, has been accounted for either by an alliance made with Moab and Ammon against their common enemy, the Amorites, or by the fact that Ammon and Moab did not as yet occupy those regions; the inhabitants in that case would have been Edomites and Midianites, who were in continual warfare with each other.
There again they were confronted by the Amorites, but in lesser numbers, and not so securely entrenched within their fortresses as their fellow-countrymen in the Negeb, so that the Israelites were able to overthrow the kingdoms of Heshbon and Bashan.*
* War against Sihon, King of Heshbon (Numb. xxi.21-31; Beut. ii.26-37), and against Og, King of Bashan (Numb. xxi.32-35; Beut. iii.1-13).
[Illustration: 261.jpg THE VALLEY OF THE JABBOK, NEAR TO ITS CONFLUENCE WITH THE JORDAN]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.336 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
Gad received as its inheritance nearly the whole of the territory lying between the Jabbok and the Yarmuk, in the neighbourhood of the ancient native sanctuaries of Penuel, Mahanaim, and Succoth, associated with the memory of Jacob.* Reuben settled in the vicinity, and both tribes remained there isolated from the rest. From this time forward they took but a slight interest in the affairs of their brethren: when the latter demanded their succour, |Gilead abode beyond Jordan,| and |by the watercourses of Reuben there were great resolves at heart,| but without any consequent action.** It was not merely due to indifference on their part; their resources were fully taxed in defending themselves against the Aramaeans and Bedawins, and from the attacks of Moab and Ammon. Gad, continually threatened, struggled for centuries without being discouraged, but Reuben lost heart,*** and soon declined in power, till at length he became merely a name in the memory of his brethren.
* Gad did not possess the districts between the Jabbok and the Arnon till the time of the early kings, and retained them only till about the reign of Jehu, as we gather from the inscription of Mesa.
** These are the very expressions used by the author of the Song of Deborah in Judges v.16, 17.
*** The recollection of these raids by Reuben against the Beduin of the Syrian desert is traceable in 1 Citron, v.10, 18-22.
Two tribes having been thus provided for, the bulk of the Israelites sought to cross the Jordan without further delay, and establish themselves as best they might in the very heart of the Canaanites. The sacred writings speak of their taking possession of the country by a methodic campaign, undertaken by command of and under the visible protection of Jahveh* Moses had led them from Egypt to Kadesh, and from Kadesh to the land of Gilead; he had seen the promised land from the summit of Mount Nebo, but he had not entered it, and after his death, Joshua, son of Nun, became their leader, brought them across Jordan dryshod, not far from its mouth, and laid siege to Jericho.
* The history of the conquest is to be found in the Book of Joshua.
The walls of the city fell of themselves at the blowing of the brazen trumpets,* and its capture entailed that of three neighbouring towns, Ai, Bethel, and Shechem. Shechem served as a rallying-place for the conquerors; Joshua took up his residence there, and built on the summit of Mount Ebal an altar of stone, on which he engraved the principal tenets of the divine Law.**
* Josh, i.-vi.
** Josh, vii., viii. Mount Ebal is the present Gebel Sulemiyeh.
[Illustration: 263.jpg ONE OF THE MOUNDS OF AIN ES-SULTAN, THE ANCIENT JERICHO]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph brought back by Lortet.
The sudden intrusion of a new element naturally alarmed the worshippers of the surrounding local deities; they at once put a truce to their petty discords, and united in arms against the strangers. At the instigation of Adoni-zedeck, King of Jerusalem, the Canaanites collected their forces in the south; but they were routed not far from Gibeon, and their chiefs killed or mutilated.* The Amorites in the north, who had assembled round Jabin, King of Hazor, met with no better success; they were defeated at the waters of Merom, Hazor was burnt, and Galilee delivered to fire and sword.**
* Josh. x. The same war is given rather differently in Judges i.1-9, where the king is called Adoni-bezek.
** Josh. xi. As another Jabin appears in the history of Deborah, it has
[Illustration: 264.jpg THE JORDAN IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF JERICHO]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph in Lortet.
The country having been thus to a certain extent cleared, Joshua set about dividing the spoil, and assigned to each tribe his allotted portion of territory.* Such, in its main outlines, is the account given by the Hebrew chroniclers; but, if closely examined, it would appear that the Israelites did not act throughout with that unity of purpose and energy which they [the Hebrew chroniclers] were pleased to imagine. They did not gain possession of the land all at once, but established themselves in it gradually by detachments, some settling at the fords of Jericho,** others more to the north, and in the central valley of the Jordan as far up as She-chem.***
* The lot given to each tribe is described in Josh, xiii.- xxi. It has been maintained by some critics that there is a double role assigned to one and the same person, only that some maintain that the Jabin of Josh. xi. has been
transferred to the time of the Judges, while others make out that the Jabin of Deborah was carried back to the time of the conquest.
** Renan thinks that the principal crossing must have taken place opposite Jericho, as is apparent from the account in Josh, ii., iii.
*** Carl Niebuhr believes that he has discovered the exact spot at the ford of Admah, near Succoth.
[Illustration: 265.jpg ONE OF THE WELLS OF BEERSHEBA]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph in Lortet.
The latter at once came into contact with a population having a higher civilization than themselves, and well equipped for a vigorous resistance; the walled towns which had defied the veterans of the Pharaohs had not much to fear from the bands of undisciplined Israelites wandering in their neighbourhood. Properly speaking, there were no pitched battles between them, but rather a succession of raids or skirmishes, in which several citadels would successively fall into the hands of the invaders. Many of these strongholds, harassed by repeated attacks, would prefer to come to terms with the enemy, and would cede or sell them some portion of their territory; others would open their gates freely to the strangers, and their inhabitants would ally themselves by intermarriage with the Hebrews. Judah and the remaining descendants of Simeon and Levi established themselves in the south; Levi comprised but a small number of families, and made no important settlements; whereas Judah took possession of nearly the whole of the mountain district separating the Shephelah from the western shores of the Dead Sea, while Simeon made its abode close by on the borders of the desert around the wells of Beersheba.*
* Wellhausen has remarked that the lot of Levi must not be separated from that of Simeon, and, as the remnant of Simeon allied themselves with Judah, that of Levi also must have shared the patrimony of Judah.
The descendants of Rachel and her handmaid received as their inheritance the regions situated more to the centre of the country, the house of Joseph taking the best domains for its branches of Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim received some of the old Canaanite sanctuaries, such as Ramah, Bethel, and Shiloh, and it was at the latter spot that they deposited the ark of the covenant. Manasseh settled to the north of Ephraim, in the hills and valleys of the Carmel group, and to Benjamin were assigned the heights which overlook the plain of Jericho. Four of the less important tribes, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulon, ventured as far north as the borders of Tyre and Sidon, behind the Phoenician littoral, but were prevented by the Canaanites and Amorites from spreading over the plain, and had to confine themselves to the mountains. All the fortresses commanding the passes of Tabor and Carmel, Megiddo, Taanach, Ibleam, Jezreel, Endor, and Bethshan remained inviolate, and formed as it were an impassable barrier-line between the Hebrews of Galilee and their brethren of Ephraim. The Danites were long before they found a resting-place; they attempted to insert themselves to the north of Judah, between Ajalon and Joppa, but were so harassed by the Amorites, that they had to content themselves with the precarious tenure of a few towns such as Zora, Shaalbin, and Eshdol. The foreign peoples of the Shephelah and the Canaanite cities almost all preserved their autonomy; the Israelites had no chance against them wherever they had sufficient space to put into the field large bodies of infantry or to use their iron-bound chariots. Finding it therefore impossible to overcome them, the tribes were forced to remain cut off from each other in three isolated groups of unequal extent which they were powerless to connect: in the centre were Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan; in the south, Judah, Levi, and Simeon; while Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulon lay to the north.
The period following the occupation of Canaan constituted the heroic age of the Hebrews. The sacred writings agree in showing that the ties which bound the twelve tribes together were speedily dissolved, while their fidelity and obedience to God were relaxed with the growth of the young generations to whom Moses or Joshua were merely names. The conquerors |dwelt among the Canaanites: the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord their God, and served the Baalim and the Asheroth.|*
[Illustration: 268.jpg MAP OF PALESTINE IN TIME OF THE JUDGES]
When they had once abandoned their ancient faith, political unity was not long preserved. War broke out between one tribe and another; the stronger allowed the weaker to be oppressed by the heathen, and were themselves often powerless to retain their independence. In spite of the thousands of men among them, all able to bear arms, they fell an easy prey to the first comer; the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Philistines, all oppressed them in turn, and repaid with usury the ills which Joshua had inflicted on the Canaanites. |Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had spoken, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were sore distressed. And the Lord raised up judges, which saved them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they hearkened not unto their judges, for they went a-whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves down unto them: they turned aside quickly out of the way wherein their fathers walked obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groaning by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. But it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they turned back, and dealt more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their doings, nor from their stubborn way.|* The history of this period lacks the unity and precision with which we are at first tempted to credit it.
* Judges ii.15-19.
The Israelites, when transplanted into the promised land, did not immediately lose the nomadic habits they had acquired in the desert. They retained the customs and prejudices they had inherited from their fathers, and for many years treated the peasantry, whose fields they had devastated, with the same disdain that the Bedawin of our own day, living in the saddle, lance in hand, shows towards the fellahin who till the soil and bend patiently over the plough. The clans, as of old, were impatient of all regular authority; each tribe tended towards an isolated autonomy, a state of affairs which merited reprisals from the natives and encouraged hatred of the intruders, and it was only when the Canaanite oppression became unendurable that those who suffered most from it united themselves to make a common effort, and rallied for a moment round the chief who was ready to lead them. Many of these liberators must have acquired an ephemeral popularity, and then have sunk into oblivion together with the two or three generations who had known them; those whose memory remained green among their kinsmen were known by posterity as the judges of Israel.*
* The word |judges,| which has been adopted to designate these rulers, is somewhat misleading, as it suggests the idea of an organized civil magistracy. The word |shophet,| the same that we meet with in classical times under the form suffetes, had indeed that sense, but its primary meaning denotes a man invested with an absolute authority, regular or otherwise; it would be better translated chief, prince, captain.
These judges were not magistrates invested with official powers and approved by the whole nation, or rulers of a highly organised republic, chosen directly by God or by those inspired by Him. They were merely local chiefs, heroes to their own immediate tribe, well known in their particular surroundings, but often despised by those only at a short distance from them. Some of them have left only a name behind them, such as Shamgar, Ibzan, Tola, Elon, and Abdon; indeed, some scholars have thrown doubts on the personality of a few of them, as, for instance, Jair, whom they affirm to have personified a Gileadite clan, and Othniel, who is said to represent one of the Kenite families associated with the children of Israel.* Others, again, have come down to us through an atmosphere of popular tradition, the elements of which modern criticism has tried in vain to analyse. Of such unsettled and turbulent times we cannot expect an uninterrupted history:** some salient episodes alone remain, spread over a period of nearly two centuries, and from these we can gather some idea of the progress made by the Israelites, and observe their stages of transition from a cluster of semi-barbarous hordes to a settled nation ripe for monarchy.
* The name Tola occurs as that of one of the clans of Issachar (Gen. xlvi.13; Numb. xxvi.23); Elon was one of the clans of Zebulon (Gen. xlvi.14; Numb. xxvi.26)
** Renan, however, believes that the judges |formed an almost continuous line, and that there merely lacks a descent from father to son to make of them an actual dynasty.| The chronology of the Book of Judges appears to cover more than four centuries, from Othniel to Samson, but this computation cannot be relied on, as |forty
years| represents an indefinite space of time. We must probably limit this early period of Hebrew history to about a century and a half, from cir.1200 to 1050 B.C.
The first of these episodes deals merely with a part, and that the least important, of the tribes settled in Central Canaan.* The destruction of the Amorite kingdoms of Heshbon and Bashan had been as profitable to the kinsmen of the Israelites, Ammon and Moab, as it had been to the Israelites themselves.
* The episode of Othniel and Cushan-rishathaim, placed at the beginning of the history of this period (Judges iii.8- 11), is, by general consent, regarded as resting on a worthless tradition.
The Moabites had followed in the wake of the Hebrews through all the surrounding regions of the Dead Sea; they had pushed on from the banks of the Arnon to those of the Jabbok, and at the time of the Judges were no longer content with harassing merely Reuben and Gad.
[Illustration: 272.jpg MOABITE WARRIOR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the original in the Louvre.
They were a fine race of warlike, well-armed Beda-wins. Jericho had fallen into their hands, and their King Eglon had successfully scoured the entire hill-country of Ephraim,* so that those who wished to escape being pillaged had to safeguard themselves by the payment of an annual tribute.
* The text seems to infer (Judges iii.13-15) that, after having taken the Oily of Palm Trees, i.e. Jericho (Deut. xxxiv.3; 2 Ghron. xxviii.15), Eglon had made it his residence, which makes the story incomprehensible from a geographical point of view. But all difficulties would disappear if we agreed to admit that in ver.15 the name of the capital of Eglon has dropped out.
Ehud the Left-handed concealed under his garments a keen dagger, and joined himself to the Benjamite deputies who were to carry their dues to the Moabite sovereign. The money having been paid, the deputies turned homewards, but when they reached the cromlech of Gilgal,* and were safe beyond the reach of the enemy, Ehud retraced his steps, and presenting himself before the palace of Eglon in the attitude of a prophet, announced that he had a secret errand to the king, who thereupon commanded silence, and ordered his servants to leave him with the divine messenger in his summer parlour.
* The cromlech at Gilgal was composed of twelve stones, which, we are told, were erected by Joshua as a remembrance of the crossing of the Jordan (Josh. iv.19-24).
|And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat. And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: and the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, for he drew not the sword out of his belly; and it came out behind.| Then Ehud locked the doors and escaped. |Now when he was gone out, his servants came; and they saw, and, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked; and they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.| But by the time they had forced an entrance, Ehud had reached Gilgal and was in safety. He at once assembled the clans of Benjamin, occupied the fords of the Jordan, massacred the bands of Moabites scattered over the plain of Jericho, and blocked the routes by which the invaders attempted to reach the hill-country of Ephraim. Almost at the same time the tribes in Galilee had a narrow escape from a still more formidable enemy.* They had for some time been under the Amorite yoke, and the sacred writings represent them at this juncture as oppressed either by Sisera of Harosheth-ha-Goyim or by a second Jabin, who was able to bring nine hundred chariots of iron into the field.** At length the prophetess Deborah of Issachar sent to Barak of Kadesh a command to assemble his people, together with those of Zebulon, in the name of the Lord;*** she herself led the contingents of Issachar, Ephraim, and Machir to meet him at the foot of Tabor, where the united host is stated to have comprised forty thousand men. Sisera,**** who commanded the Canaanite force, attacked the Israelite army between Taanach and Megiddo in that plain of Kishon which had often served as a battle-field during the Egyptian campaigns.
* The text tells us that, after the time of Ehud, the land had rest eighty years (Judges iii.30). This, again, is one of those numbers which represent an indefinite space of time.
** It has been maintained that two versions are here blended together in the text, one in which the principal part is played by Sisera, the other in which it is attributed to Jabin. The episode of Deborah and Barak (Judges iv., v.) comprises a narrative in prose (chap, iv.), and the song (chap, v.) attributed to Deborah. The prose account probably is derived from the song. The differences in the two accounts may be explained as having arisen partly from an imperfect understanding of the poetic text, and partly from one having come down from some other source.
*** Some critics suppose that the prose narrative (Judges iv.5) has confounded the prophetess Deborah, wife of Lapidoth, with Deborah, nurse of Rachel, who was buried near Bethel, under the |Oak of Weeping| (Gen. xxxv.8), and consequently place it between Rama and Bethel, in the hill- country of Ephraim.
**** In the prose narrative (Judges iv.2-7) Sisera is stated to have been the general of Jabin: there is nothing incompatible in this statement with the royal dignity elsewhere attributed to Sisera. Harosheth-ha-Goyim has been identified with the present village of El-Haretiyeh, on the right bank of the Kishon.
It would appear that heavy rains had swelled the streams, and thus prevented the chariots from rendering their expected service in the engagement; at all events, the Amorites were routed, and Sisera escaped with the survivors towards Hazor.
[Illustration: 275.jpg TELL]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph in Lortet.
The people of Meroz facilitated his retreat, but a Kenite named Jael, the wife of Heber, traitorously killed him with a blow from a hammer while he was in the act of drinking.*
* Meroz is the present Marus, between the Lake of Huleh and Safed. I have followed the account given in the song (Judges v.24-27). According to the prose version (iv.17-22), Jael slew Sisera while he was asleep with a tent-pin, which she drove into his temple. [The text of Judges v.24-27 does not seem to warrant the view that he was slain |in the act of drinking,| nor does it seem to conflict with Judges iv.11.- -Tr.]
This exploit was commemorated in a song, the composition of which is attributed to Deborah and Barak: |For that the leaders took the lead in Israel, for that the people offered themselves willingly, bless ye the Lord. Hear, O ye kings, give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel.|* The poet then dwells on the sufferings of the people, but tells how Deborah and Barak were raised up, and enumerates the tribes who took part in the conflict as well as those who turned a deaf ear to the appeal. |Then came down a remnant of the nobles and the people.... Out of Ephraim came down they whose root is in Amalek: -- out of Machir came down governors, -- and out of Zebulon they that handle the marshal's staff. -- And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah -- as was Issachar so was Barak, -- into the valley they rushed forth at his feet.** -- By the watercourses of Reuben -- there were great resolves of heart. -- Why satest thou among the sheepfolds, -- to hear the pipings for the flocks? -- At the watercourses of Reuben -- there were great searchings of heart -- Gilead abode beyond Jordan: -- and Dan, why did he remain in ships? -- Asher sat still at the haven of the sea -- and abode by his creeks. -- Zebulon was a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death, -- and Naphtali upon the high places of the field. -- The kings came and fought; -- then fought the kings of Canaan. -- In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo: -- they took no gain of money. -- They fought from heaven, -- the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. -- The river of Kishon swept them away, -- that ancient river, the river Kishon. -- O my soul, march on with strength. -- Then did the horsehoofs stamp -- by reason of the pransings, the pransings of their strong ones.|
* Judges v.2, 3 (R.V.).
** The text of the song (Judges v.14) contains an allusion to Benjamin, which is considered by many critics to be an interpolation. It gives a mistaken reading, |Issachar with Barak;| Issachar having been already mentioned with Deborah, probably Zebulon should be inserted in the text.
Sisera flies, and the poet follows him in fancy, as if he feared to see him escape from vengeance. He curses the people of Meroz in passing, |because they came not to the help of the Lord.| He addresses Jael and blesses her, describing the manner in which the chief fell at her feet, and then proceeds to show how, at the very time of Sisera's death, his people were awaiting the messenger who should bring the news of his victory; |through the window she looked forth and cried -- the mother of Sisera cried through the lattice -- 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? -- Why tarry the wheels of his chariot?' -- Her wise ladies answered her, -- yea, she returned answer to herself, -- 'Have they not found, have they not divided the spoil? -- A damsel, two damsels to every man; -- to Sisera a spoil of divers colours, -- a spoil of divers colours of embroidery on both sides, on the necks of the spoil? -- So let all Thine enemies perish, O Lord: -- but let them that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.'|
It was the first time, as far as we know, that several of the Israelite tribes combined together for common action after their sojourn in the desert of Kadesh-barnea, and the success which followed from their united efforts ought, one would think, to have encouraged them to maintain such a union, but it fell out otherwise; the desire for freedom of action and independence was too strong among them to permit of the continuance of the coalition.
[Illustration: 278.jpg MOUNT TABOR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by M. C. Alluaud of Limoges.
Manasseh, restricted in its development by the neighbouring Canaanite tribes, was forced to seek a more congenial neighbourhood to the east of the Jordan -- not close to Gad, in the land of Gilead, but to the north of the Yarmuk and its northern affluents in the vast region extending to the mountains of the Hauran. The families of Machir and Jair migrated one after the other to the east of the Lake of Gennesaret, while that of Nobah proceeded as far as the brook of Kanah, and thus formed in this direction the extreme outpost of the children of Israel: these families did not form themselves into new tribes, for they were mindful of their affiliation to Manasseh, and continued beyond the river to regard themselves still as his children.* The prosperity of Ephraim and Manasseh, and the daring nature of their exploits, could not fail to draw upon them the antagonism and jealousy of the people on their borders. The Midianites were accustomed almost every year to pass through the region beyond the Jordan which the house of Joseph had recently colonised. Assembling in the springtime at the junction of the Yarmuk with the Jordan, they crossed the latter river, and, spreading over the plains of Mount Tabor, destroyed the growing crops, raided the villages, and pushed, sometimes, their skirmishing parties over hill and dale as far as Gaza.**
* Manasseh was said to have been established beyond the Jordan at the time that Gad and Reuben were in possession of the land of Gilead (Numb, xxxii.33, 39-42, xxxiv.14, 15; Dent. iii.13-15; Josh. xiii.8, 29-32, xxii.). Earlier traditions placed this event in the period which followed the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. It is not certain that all the families which constituted the half-tribe of Manasseh took their origin from Manasseh: one of them, for example, that of Jair, was regarded as having originated partly from Judah (1 Chron. ii.21-24).
** Judges vi.2-6. The inference that they dare not beat wheat in the open follows from ver.11, where it is said that |Gideon was beating out wheat in his winepress to hide it from the Midianites.|
A perpetual terror reigned wherever they were accustomed to pass*: no one dared beat out wheat or barley in the open air, or lead his herds to pasture far from his home, except under dire necessity; and even on such occasions the inhabitants would, on the slightest alarm, abandon their possessions to take refuge in caves or in strongholds on the mountains.1 During one of these incursions two of their sheikhs encountered some men of noble mien in the vicinity of Tabor, and massacred them without compunction.** The latter were people of Ophrah,*** brethren of a certain Jerubbaal (Gideon) who was head of the powerful family of Abiezer.****
* The history of the Midianite oppression (Judges vi.-viii.) seems to be from two different sources; the second (Judges viii.4-21), which is also the shortest, is considered by some to represent the more ancient tradition. The double name of the hero, Gideon-Jerubbaal, has led some to assign its elements respectively to Gideon, judge of the western portion of Manasseh, and Jerubbaal, judge of the eastern Manasseh, and to the consequent fusion of the two men in one.
** This is an assumption which follows reasonably from Judges viii.18, 19.
*** The site of the Ophrah of Abiezer is not known for certain, but it would seem from the narrative that it was in the neighbourhood of Shechem.
**** The position of Gideon-Jerubbaal as head of the house of Abiezer follows clearly from the narrative; if he is represented in the first part of the account as a man of humble origin (Judges vi.15, 16), it was to exalt the power of Jahveh, who was accustomed to choose His instruments from amongst the lowly. The name Jerubbaal (1 Sam. xii.11:2 Sam. xi.21, where the name is transformed into Jerubbesheth, as Ishbaal and Meribbaal are into Ishbosheth and Mephibosheth respectively), in which |Baal| seems to some not to represent the Canaanite God, but the title Lord as applied to Jahveh, was supposed to mean |Baal fights against him,| and was, therefore, offensive to the orthodox. Kuenen thought it meant |Lord, fight for him!| Renan read it Yarebaal, from the Vulgate form Jerobaal, and translated |He who fears Baal.| Gideon signifies |He who overthrows| in the battle.
Assembling all his people at the call of the trumpet, Jerubbaal chose from among them three hundred of the strongest, with whom he came down unexpectedly upon the raiders, put them to flight in the plain of Jezreel, and followed them beyond the Jordan. Having crossed the river, |faint and yet pursuing,| he approached the men of Succoth, and asked them for bread for himself and his three hundred followers. Their fear of the marauders, however, was so great that the people refused to give him any help, and he had no better success with the people of Penuel whom he encountered a little further on. He did not stop to compel them to accede to his wishes, but swore to inflict an exemplary punishment upon them on his return. The Midianites continued their retreat, in the mean time, |by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah,| but Jerubbaal came up with them near Karkar, and discomfited the host. He took vengeance upon the two peoples who had refused to give him bread, and having thus fulfilled his vow, he began to question his prisoners, the two chiefs: |What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor?| |As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.| |And he said, They were my brethren, the sons of my mother: as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you. And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.| True Bedawins as they were, the chiefs' pride revolted at the idea of their being handed over for execution to a child, and they cried to Jerubbaal: |Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength.| From this victory rose the first monarchy among the Israelites. The Midianites, owing to their marauding habits and the amount of tribute which they were accustomed to secure for escorting caravans, were possessed of a considerable quantity of gold, which they lavished on the decoration of their persons: their chiefs were clad in purple mantles, their warriors were loaded with necklaces, bracelets, rings, and ear-rings, and their camels also were not behind their masters in the brilliance of their caparison. The booty which Gideon secured was, therefore, considerable, and, as we learn from the narrative, excited the envy of the Ephraimites, who said: |Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with Midian?|*
* Judges viii.1-3.
The spoil from the golden ear-rings alone amounted to one thousand seven hundred shekels, as we learn from the narrative, and this treasure in the hands of Jerubbaal was not left unemployed, but was made, doubtless, to contribute something to the prestige he had already acquired: the men of Israel, whom he had just saved from their foes, expressed their gratitude by offering the crown to him and his successors. The mode of life of the Hebrews had been much changed after they had taken up their abode in the mountains of Canaan. The tent had given place to the house, and, like their Canaanite neighbours, they had given themselves up to agricultural pursuits. This change of habits, in bringing about a greater abundance of the necessaries of life than they had been accustomed to, had begotten aspirations which threw into relief the inadequacy of the social organisation, and of the form of government with which they had previously been content. In the case of a horde of nomads, defeat or exile would be of little moment. Should they be obliged by a turn in their affairs to leave their usual haunts, a few days or often a few hours would suffice to enable them to collect their effects together, and set out without trouble, and almost without regret, in search of a new and more favoured home. But with a cultivator of the ground the case would be different: the farm, clearings, and homestead upon which he had spent such arduous and continued labour; the olive trees and vines which had supplied him with oil and wine -- everything, in fact, upon which he depended for a livelihood, or which was dependent upon him, would bind him to the soil, and expose his property to disasters likely to be as keenly felt as wounds inflicted on his person. He would feel the need, therefore, of laws to secure to him in time of peace the quiet possession of his wealth, of an army to protect it in time of war, and of a ruler to cause, on the one hand, the laws to be respected, and to become the leader, on the other, of the military forces. Jerubbaal is said to have, in the first instance, refused the crown, but everything goes to prove that he afterwards virtually accepted it. He became, it is true, only a petty king, whose sovereignty was limited to Manasseh, a part of Ephraim, and a few towns, such as Succoth and Penuel, beyond the Jordan. The Canaanite city of Shechem also paid him homage. Like all great chiefs, he had also numerous wives, and he recognised as the national Deity the God to whom he owed his victories.
Out of the spoil taken from the Midianites he formed and set up at Ophrah an ephod, which became, as we learn, |a snare unto him and unto his house,| but he had also erected under a terebinth tree a stone altar to Jahveh-Shalom (|Jehovah is peace|).* This sanctuary, with its altar and ephod, soon acquired great celebrity, and centuries after its foundation it was the object of many pilgrimages from a distance.
Jerubbaal was the father by his Israelite wives of seventy children, and, by a Canaanite woman whom he had taken as a concubine at Shechem, of one son, called Abimelech.**
* The Book of Judges separates the altar from the ephod, placing the erection of the former at the time of the vocation of Gideon (vi.11-31) and that of the ephod after the victory (viii.24-27). The sanctuary of Ophrah was possibly in existence before the time of Jerubbaal, and the sanctity of the place may have determined his selection of the spot for placing the altar and ephod there.
** Judges viii.30, 31.
The succession to the throne would naturally have fallen to one of the seventy, but before this could be arranged, Abimelech |went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and spake with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, rule over you, or that one rule over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.| This advice was well received; it flattered the vanity of the people to think that the new king was to be one of themselves; |their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother. And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith (the Lord of the Covenant), wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light fellows, which followed him.... He slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone.| The massacre having been effected, |all the men of Shechem assembled themselves together, and all the house of Millo,* and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem.|** He dwelt at Ophrah, in the residence, and near the sanctuary, of his father, and from thence governed the territories constituting the little kingdom of Manasseh, levying tribute upon the vassal villages, and exacting probably tolls from caravans passing through his domain.
* The word |Millo| is a generic term, meaning citadel or stronghold of the city: there was a Millo in every important town, Jerusalem included.
** The |oak of the pillar| was a sacred tree overshadowing probably a cippus: it may have been the tree mentioned in Gen. xxxv.4, under which Jacob buried the strange gods; or that referred to in Josh. xxiv.26, under which Joshua set up a stone commemorative of the establishment of the law. Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon, escaped the massacre. As soon as he heard of the election of Abimelech, he ascended Mount Gerizim, and gave out from there the fable of the trees, applying it to the circumstances of the time, and then fled. Some critics think that this fable -- which is confessedly old -- was inserted in the text at a time when prophetical ideas prevailed and monarchy was not yet accepted.
This condition of things lasted for three years, and then the Shechemites, who had shown themselves so pleased at the idea of having |one of their brethren| as sovereign, found it irksome to pay the taxes levied upon them by him, as if they were in no way related to him. The presence among them of a certain Zebul, the officer and representative of Abimelech, restrained them at first from breaking out into rebellion, but they returned soon to their ancient predatory ways, and demanded ransom for the travellers they might capture even when the latter were in possession of the king's safe conduct. This was not only an insult to their lord, but a serious blow to his treasury: the merchants who found themselves no longer protected by his guarantee employed elsewhere the sums which would have come into his hands. The king concealed his anger, however; he was not inclined to adopt premature measures, for the place was a strong one, and defeat would seriously weaken his prestige. The people of Shechem, on their part, did not risk an open rupture for fear of the consequences. Gaal, son of Ebed,* a soldier of fortune and of Israelitish blood, arrived upon the scene, attended by his followers: he managed to gain the confidence of the people of Shechem, who celebrated under his protection the feast of the Vintage.
* The name Ebed (|slave,| |servant|) is assumed to have been substituted in the Massorotic text for the original name Jobaal, because of the element Baal in the latter word, which was regarded as that of the strange god, and would thus have the sacrilegious meaning |Jahveh is Baal.| The term of contempt, Ebed, was, according to this view, thus used to replace it.
On this occasion their merrymaking was disturbed by the presence among them of the officer charged with collecting the tithes, and Gaal did not lose the opportunity of stimulating their ire by his ironical speeches: |Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve ye the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: but why should we serve him? And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.| Zebul promptly gave information of this to his master, and invited him to come by night and lie in ambush in the vicinity of the town, |that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, thou mayest do to them as thou shalt find occasion.| It turned out as he foresaw; the inhabitants of Shechem went out in order to take part in the gathering in of the vintage, while Gaal posted his men at the entering in of the gate of the city. As he looked towards the hills he thought he saw an unusual movement among the trees, and, turning round, said to Zebul, who was close by, |Behold, there come people down from the tops of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.| A moment after he looked in another direction, |and spake again and said, See, there come people down by the middle of the land, and one company cometh by the way of the terebinth of the augurs.| Zebul, seeing the affair turn out so well, threw off the mask, and replied railingly, |Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray, now, and fight with him.| The King of Manasseh had no difficulty in defeating his adversary, but arresting the pursuit at the gates of the city, he withdrew to the neighbouring village of Arumah.*
* This is now el-Ormeh, i.e.Kharbet el-Eurmah, to the south- west of Nablus.
He trusted that the inhabitants, who had taken no part in the affair, would believe that his wrath had been appeased by the defeat of Gaal; and so, in fact, it turned out: they dismissed their unfortunate champion, and on the morrow returned to their labours as if nothing had occurred.
[Illustration: 288.jpg MOUNT GERIZIM, WITH A VIEW OF NABLUS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph reproduced by the Duc de Luynes.
Abimelech had arranged his Abiezerites in three divisions: one of which made for the gates, while the other two fell upon the scattered labourers in the vineyards. Abimelech then fought against the city and took it, but the chief citizens had taken refuge in |the hold of the house of El-berith.| |Abimelech gat him up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it up, and laid it on his shoulder: and he said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done. And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.|
[Illustration: 289.jpg THE TOWN OF ASCALON]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief in the Ramesseum. This is a portion of the picture representing the capture of Ascalon by Ramses II.
This summary vengeance did not, however, prevent other rebellions. Thebez imitated Shechem, and came nigh suffering the same penalty.* The king besieged the city and took it, and was about to burn with fire the tower in which all the people of the city had taken refuge, when a woman threw a millstone down upon his head |and brake his skull.|
* Thebez, now Tubas, the north-east of Nablus.
The narrative tells us that, feeling himself mortally wounded, he called his armour-bearer to him, and said, |Draw thy sword, and kill me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him.| His monarchy ceased with him, and the ancient chronicler recognises in the catastrophe a just punishment for the atrocious crime he had committed in slaying his half-brothers, the seventy children of Jerubbaal.* His fall may be regarded also as the natural issue of his peculiar position: the resources upon which he relied were inadequate to secure to him a supremacy in Israel. Manasseh, now deprived of a chief, and given up to internal dissensions, became still further enfeebled, and an easy prey to its rivals. The divine writings record in several places the success attained by the central tribes in their conflict with their enemies. They describe how a certain Jephthah distinguished himself in freeing Gilead from the Ammonites.**
* Judges ix.23, 24. |And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: that the violence done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and that their blood might be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them, and upon the men of Shechem, which strengthened his hands to slay his brethren.|
** The story of Jephthah is contained in chaps, xi., xii.1- 7, of the Book of Judges. The passage (xi.12-29) is regarded by some, owing to its faint echo of certain portions of Numb, xx., xxi., to be an interpolation. Jephthah is said to have had Gilead for his father and a harlot for his mother. Various views have been put forward as to the account of his victories over the Midianites, some seeing in it, as well as in the origin of the four
days'feast in honour of Jephthah's daughter, insertions of a later date.
But his triumph led to the loss of his daughter, whom he sacrificed in order to fulfil a vow he had made to Jahveh before the battle.* These were, however, comparatively unimportant episodes in the general history of the Hebrew race. Bedawins from the East, sheikhs of the Midianites, Moabites, and Ammonites -- all these marauding peoples of the frontier whose incursions are put on record -- gave them continual trouble, and rendered their existence so miserable that they were unable to develop their institutions and attain the permanent freedom after which they aimed. But their real dangers -- the risk of perishing altogether, or of falling back into a condition of servitude -- did not arise from any of these quarters, but from the Philistines.
* There are two views as to the nature of the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter. Some think she was vowed to perpetual virginity, while others consider that she was actually sacrificed.
By a decree of Pharaoh, a new country had been assigned to the remnants of each of the maritime peoples: the towns nearest to Egypt, lying between Raphia and Joppa, were given over to the Philistines, and the forest region and the coast to the north of the Philistines, as far as the Phoenician stations of Dor and Carmel,* were appropriated to the Zakkala. The latter was a military colony, and was chiefly distributed among the five fortresses which commanded the Shephelah.
* We are indebted to the Papyrus Golenischeff for the mention of the position of the Zakkala at the beginning of the XXIst dynasty.
[Illustration: 292.jpg A ZAKKALA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a |squeeze.|
Gaza and Ashdod were separated from the Mediterranean by a line of sand-dunes, and had nothing in the nature of a sheltered port -- nothing, in fact, but a |maiuma,| or open roadstead, with a few dwellings and storehouses arranged along the beach on which their boats were drawn up. Ascalon was built on the sea, and its harbour, although well enough suited for the small craft of the ancients, could not have been entered by the most insignificant of our modern ships. The Philistines had here their naval arsenal, where their fleets were fitted out for scouring the Egyptian waters as a marine police, or for piratical expeditions on their own account, when the occasion served, along the coasts of Phoenicia. Ekron and Gath kept watch over the eastern side of the plain at the points where it was most exposed to the attacks of the people of the hills -- the Canaanites in the first instance, and afterwards the Hebrews. These foreign warriors soon changed their mode of life in contact with the indigenous inhabitants; daily intercourse, followed up by marriages with the daughters of the land, led to the substitution of the language, manners, and religion of the environing race for those of their mother country. The Zakkala, who were not numerous, it is true, lost everything, even to their name, and it was all that the Philistines could do to preserve their own. At the end of one or two generations, the |colts| of Palestine could only speak the Canaanite tongue, in which a few words of the old Hellenic patois still continued to survive. Their gods were henceforward those of the towns in which they resided, such as Marna and Dagon and Gaza,* Dagon at Ashdod,** Baalzebub at Ekron,*** and Derketo in Ascalon;**** and their mode of worship, with its mingled bloody and obscene rites, followed that of the country.
* Marna, |our lord,| is mentioned alongside Baalzephon in a list of strange gods worshipped at Memphis in the XIXth dynasty. The worship of Dagon at Gaza is mentioned in the story of Samson (Judges xvi.21-30).
** The temple and statue of Dagon are mentioned in the account of the events following the taking of the ark in 1 Sam. v.1-7. It is, perhaps, to him that 1 Chron. x.10 refers, in relating how the Philistines hung up Saul's arms in the house of their gods, although 1 Sam. xxxi.10 calls the place the |house of the Ashtoreth.|
*** Baalzebub was the god of Ekron (2 Kings i.2-6), and his name was doubtfully translated |Lord of Flies.| The discovery of the name of the town Zebub on the Tell el- Amarna tablets shows that it means the |Baal of Zebub.| Zebub was situated in the Philistine plains, not far from Ekron. Halevy thinks it may have been a suburb of that town.
**** The worship of Derketo or Atergatis at Ascalon is witnessed to by the classical writers.
[Illustration: 294.jpg A PROCESSION OF PHILISTINE CAPTIVES AT MEDINET-HABU]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Insinger.
Two things belonging to their past history they still retained -- a clear remembrance of their far-off origin, and that warlike temperament which had enabled them to fight their way through many obstacles from the shores of the AEgean to the frontiers of Egypt. They could recall their island of Caphtor,* and their neighbours in their new home were accustomed to bestow upon them the designation of Cretans, of which they themselves were not a little proud.**
* Jer. xlvii.4 calls them |the remnant of the isle of Caphtor;| Amos (ix.7) knew that the Lord had brought |the Philistines from Caphtor;| and in Dent. ii.23 it is related how |the Caphtorim which came forth out of Caphtor destroyed the Avvim, which dwelt in villages as far as Gaza, and dwelt in their stead.| Classical tradition falls in with the sacred record, and ascribes a Cretan origin to the Philistines; it is suggested, therefore, that in Gen. x.14 the names Casluhim and Caphtorim should be transposed, to bring the verse into harmony with history and other parts of
** In an episode in the life of David (1 Sam. xxx.14), there is mention of the |south of the Cherethites,| which some have made to mean Cretans -- that is to say, the region to the south of the Philistines, alongside the territory of Judah, and to the |south of Caleb.| Ezelc. xx.16 also mentions in juxtaposition with the Philistines the
Cherethites, and |the remnant of the sea-coast,| as objects of God's vengeance for the many evils they had inflicted on Israel. By the Cherethims here, and the Cherethites in Zoph. ii.5, the Cretans are by some thought to be meant, which would account for their association with the Philistines.
Gaza enjoyed among them a kind of hegemony, alike on account of its strategic position and its favourable situation for commerce, but this supremacy was of very precarious character, and brought with it no right whatever to meddle in the internal affairs of other members of the confederacy. Each of the latter had a chief of its own, a Seren,* and the office of this chief was hereditary in one case at least -- Gath, for instance, where there existed a larger Canaanite element than elsewhere, and was there identified with that of |melek,|** or king.
* The sarne plishtim figure in the narrative of the last Philistine campaign against Saul (1 Sam. xxix.2-4, 7, 9). Their number, five, is expressly mentioned in 1 Sam. vi.4, 16-18, as well as the names of the towns over which they ruled.
** Achish was King of Gath (1 Sam. xxi.10, 12, xxvii.2), and probably Maoch before him.
The five Sarnim assembled in council to deliberate upon common interests, and to offer sacrifices in the name of the Pentapolis. These chiefs were respectively free to make alliances, or to take the field on their own account, but in matters of common importance they acted together, and took their places each at the head of his own contingent.* Their armies were made up of regiments of skilled archers and of pikemen, to whom were added a body of charioteers made up of the princes and the nobles of the nation. The armour for all alike was the coat of scale mail and the helmet of brass; their weapons consisted of the two-edged battle-axe, the bow, the lance, and a large and heavy sword of bronze or iron.**
* Achish, for example, King of Gath, makes war alone against the pillaging tribes, owing to the intervention of David and his men, without being called to account by the other princes (1 Sam. xxvii.2-12, xxviii.1, 2), but as soon as an affair of moment is in contemplation -- such as the war against Saul -- they demand the dismissal of David, and Achish is obliged to submit to his colleagues acting together (1 Sam. xxix.).
** Philistine archers are mentioned in the battle of Gilboa (1 Sam. xxxi.3) as well as chariots (2 Sam. i.6). The horsemen mentioned in the same connexion are regarded by some critics as an interpolation, because they cannot bring themselves to think that the Philistines had cavalry corps in the Xth century B.C. The Philistine arms are described at length in the duel between David and Goliath (1 Sam. xvii.5 -7, 38, 39). They are in some respects like those of the Homeric heroes.
Their war tactics were probably similar to those of the Egyptians, who were unrivalled in military operations at this period throughout the whole East. Under able leadership, and in positions favourable for the operations of their chariots, the Philistines had nothing to fear from the forces which any of their foes could bring up against them. As to their maritime history, it is certain that in the earliest period, at least, of their sojourn in Syria, as well as in that before their capture by Ramses III., they were successful in sea-fights, but the memory of only one of their expeditions has come down to us: a squadron of theirs having sailed forth from Ascalon somewhere towards the end of the XIIth dynasty,* succeeded in destroying the Sidonian fleet, and pillaging Sidon itself.
* Justinus, xviii.3, Sec.5. The memory of this has been preserved, owing to the disputes about precedence which raged in the Greek period between the Phoenician towns. The destruction of Sidon must have allowed Tyre to develop and take the first place.
[Illustration: 297.jpg A PHILISTINE SHIP OF WAR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
But however vigorously they may have plied the occupation of Corsairs at the outset of their career, there was, it would appear, a rapid falling off in their maritime prowess; it was on land, and as soldiers, that they displayed their bravery and gained their fame. Their geographical position, indeed, on the direct and almost only route for caravans passing between Asia and Africa, must have contributed to their success. The number of such caravans was considerable, for although Egypt had ceased to be a conquering nation on account of her feebleness at home, she was still one of the great centres of production, and the most important market of the East. A very great part of her trade with foreign countries was carried on through the mouths of the Nile, and of this commerce the Phoenicians had made themselves masters; the remainder followed the land-routes, and passed continually through the territory of the Philistines. These people were in possession of the tract of land which lay between the Mediterranean and the beginning of the southern desert, forming as it were a narrow passage, into which all the roads leading from the Nile to the Euphrates necessarily converged. The chief of these routes was that which crossed Mount Carmel, near Megiddo, and passed up the valleys of the Litany and the Orontes. This was met at intervals by other secondary roads, such as that which came from Damascus by way of Tabor and the plain of Jezreel, or those which, starting out from the highland of Gilead, led through the fords of the Lower Jordan to Ekron and Gath respectively. The Philistines charged themselves, after the example and at the instigation of the Egyptians, with the maintenance of the great trunk road which was in their hands, and also with securing safe transit along it, as far as they could post their troops, for those who confided themselves to their care. In exchange for these good offices they exacted the same tolls which had been levied by the Canaanites before them.
In their efforts to put down brigandage, they had been brought into contact with some of the Hebrew clans after the latter had taken possession of Canaan. Judah, in its home among the mountains of the Dead Sea, had become acquainted with the diverse races which were found there, and consequently there had been frequent intermarriages between the Hebrews and these peoples. Some critics have argued from this that the chronicler had this fact in his mind when he assigned a Canaanite wife, Shuah, to the father of the tribe himself. He relates how Judah, having separated from his brethren, |turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hiram,| and that here he became acquainted with Shuah, by whom he had three sons. With Tamar, the widow of the eldest of the latter, he had accidental intercourse, and two children, Perez and Zerah, the ancestors of numerous families, were born of that union.*
* Gen. xxxviii., where there is a detailed account of Judah's unions.
Edomites, Arabs, and Midianites were associated with this semi-Canaanite stock -- for example, Kain, Caleb, Othniel, Kenaz, Shobal, Ephah, and Jerahmeel, but the Kenites took the first place among them, and played an important part in the history of the conquest of Canaan. It is related how one of their subdivisions, of which Caleb was the eponymous hero, had driven from Hebron the three sons of Anak -- Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai -- and had then promised his daughter Achsah in marriage to him who should capture Debir; this turned out to be his youngest brother Othniel, who captured the city, and at the same time obtained a wife. Hobab, another Kenite, who is represented to have been the brother-in-law of Moses, occupied a position to the south of Arad, in Idumsean territory.* These heterogeneous elements existed alongside each other for a long time without intermingling; they combined, however, now and again to act against a common foe, for we know that the people of Judah aided the tribe of Simeon in the reduction of the city of Zephath;** but they followed an independent course for the most part, and their isolation prevented their obtaining, for a lengthened period, any extension of territory.
* The father-in-law of Moses is called Jethro in Exod. iii.1, iv.19, but Raguel in Exod. ii.18-22. Hobab is the son of Raguel, Numb. x.29.
** Judges i.17, where Zephath is the better reading, and not Arad, as has been suggested.
They failed, as at first, in their attempts to subjugate the province of Arad, and in their efforts to capture the fortresses which guarded the caravan routes between Ashdod and the mouth of the Jordan. It is related, however, that they overthrew Adoni-bezek, King of the Jebusites, and that they had dealt with him as he was accustomed to deal with his prisoners. |And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me.| Although Adoni-bezek had been overthrown, Jerusalem still remained independent, as did also Gibeon. Beeroth, Kirjath-Jearim, Ajalon, Gezer, and the cities of the plain, for the Israelites could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron, with which the Hebrew foot-soldiers found it difficult to deal.* This independent and isolated group was not at first, however, a subject of anxiety to the masters of the coast, and there is but a bare reference to the exploits of a certain Shamgar, son of Anath, who |smote of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox-goad.|**
* See Josh. ix.3-27 for an explanation of how these people were allowed afterwards to remain in a subordinate capacity among the children of Israel.
** Judges iii.31; cf. also Judges v.6, in which Shamgar is mentioned in the song of Deborah.
[Illustration: 301.jpg TELL ES-SAFIEH, THE GATH OF THE PHILISTINES]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.265 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
These cities had also to reckon with Ephraim, and the tribes which had thrown in their lot with her. Dan had cast his eyes upon the northern districts of the Shephelah -- which were dependent upon Ekron or Gath -- and also upon the semi-Phoenician port of Joppa; but these tribes did not succeed in taking possession of those districts, although they had harassed them from time to time by raids in which the children of Israel did not always come off victorious. One of their chiefs -- Samson -- had a great reputation among them for his bravery and bodily strength. But the details of his real prowess had been forgotten at an early period. The episodes which have been preserved deal with some of his exploits against the Philistines, and there is a certain humour in the chronicler's account of the weapons which he employed: |with the jawbone of an ass have I smitten a thousand men;| he burned up their harvest also by letting go three hundred foxes, with torches attached to their tails, among the standing corn of the Philistines. Various events in his career are subsequently narrated; such as his adventure in the house of the harlot at Gaza, when he carried off the gate of the city and the gate-posts |to the top of the mountain that is before Hebron.| By Delilah's treachery he was finally delivered over to his enemies, who, having put out his eyes, condemned him to grind in the prison-house. On the occasion of a great festival in honour of Dagon, he was brought into the temple to amuse his captors, but while they were making merry at his expense, he took hold of the two pillars against which he was resting, and bowing |himself with all his might,| overturned them, |and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein.|*
* Some learned critics considered Samson to have been a sort of solar deity.
The tribe of Dan at length became weary of these unprofitable struggles, and determined to seek out another and more easily defensible settlement. They sent out five emissaries, therefore, to look out for a new home. While these were passing through the mountains they called upon a certain Michah in the hill-country of Ephraim and lodged there. Here they took counsel of a Levite whom Michah had made his priest, and, in answer to the question whether their journey would be prosperous, he told them to |Go in peace: before the Lord is the way wherein ye go.| Their search turned out successful, for they discovered near the sources of the Jordan the town of Laish, whose people, like the Zidonians, dwelt in security, fearing no trouble. On the report of the emissaries, Dan decided to emigrate: the warriors set out to the number of six hundred, carried off by the way the ephod of Micah and the Levite who served before it, and succeeded in capturing Laish, to which they gave the name of their tribe. |They there set up for themselves the ephod: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.|* The tribe of Dan displayed in this advanced post of peril the bravery it had shown on the frontiers of the Shephelah, and showed itself the most bellicose of the tribes of Israel.
* The history of this migration, which is given summarily in Josh. xix.47, is, as it now stands, a blending of two accounts. The presence of a descendant of Moses as a priest in this local sanctuary probably offended the religious scruples of a copyist, who substituted Manasseh for Moses (Judges xviii.30), but the correction was not generally accepted. [The R.V. reads |Moses| where the authorised text has |Manasseh.| -- Tr.]
It bore out well its character -- |Dan is a lion's whelp that leapeth forth from Bashan| on the Hermon;* |a serpent in the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider falleth backward.|** The new position they had taken up enabled them to protect Galilee for centuries against the incursions of the Aramaeans.
* See the Blessing of Moses (Dent, xxxiii.22).
** These are the words used in the Blessing of Jacob (Gen. xlix.17).
[Illustration: 304.jpg THE HILL OF SHILOH, SEEN FROM THE NORTH-EAST]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.100 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
Their departure, however, left the descendants of Joseph unprotected, with Benjamin as their only bulwark. Benjamin, like Dan, was one of the tribes which contained scarcely more than two or three clans, but compensated for the smallness of their numbers by their energy and tenacity of character: lying to the south of Ephraim, they had developed into a breed of hardy adventurers, skilled in handling the bow and sling, accustomed from childhood to use both hands indifferently, and always ready to set out on any expedition, not only against the Canaanites, but, if need be, against their own kinsfolk.* They had consequently aroused the hatred of both friend and foe, and we read that the remaining tribes at length decreed their destruction; a massacre ensued, from which six hundred Benjamites only escaped to continue the race.** Their territory adjoined on the south that of Jerusalem, the fortress of the Jebusites, and on the west the powerful confederation of which Gibeon was the head. It comprised some half-dozen towns -- Ramah, Anathoth, Michmash, and Nob, and thus commanded both sides of the passes leading from the Shephelah into the valley of the Jordan. The Benjamites were in the habit of descending suddenly upon merchants who were making their way to or returning from Gilead, and of robbing them of their wares; sometimes they would make a raid upon the environs of Ekron and Gath, |like a wolf that ravineth:| realising the prediction of Jacob, |in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at even he shall divide the spoil.|***
* Benjamin signifies, properly speaking, |the Southern.|
** Story of the Levite of Ephraim (Judges xix.-xxi.). The groundwork of it contains only one historical element. The story of the Levite is considered by some critics to be of a later date than the rest of the text.
*** He is thus characterised in the Blessing of Jacob (Gen. xlix.27). VOL. VI. X
The Philistines never failed to make reprisals after each raid, and the Benjamites were no match for their heavily armed battalions; but the labyrinth of ravines and narrow gorges into which the Philistines had to penetrate to meet their enemy was a favourable region for guerilla warfare, in which they were no match for their opponents. Peace was never of long duration on this ill-defined borderland, and neither intercourse between one village and another, alliances, nor intermarriage between the two peoples had the effect of interrupting hostilities; even when a truce was made at one locality, the feud would be kept up at other points of contact. All details of this conflict have been lost, and we merely know that it terminated in the defeat of the house of Joseph, a number of whom were enslaved. The ancient sanctuary of Shiloh still continued to be the sacred town of the Hebrews, as it had been under the Canaanites, and the people of Ephraim kept there the ark of Jahveh-Sabaoth, |the Lord of Hosts.|* It was a chest of wood, similar in shape to the shrine which surmounted the sacred barks of the Egyptian divinities, but instead of a prophesying statue, it contained two stones on which, according to the belief of a later age, the law had been engraved.** Yearly festivals were celebrated before it, and it was consulted as an oracle by all the Israelites. Eli, the priest to whose care it was at this time consigned, had earned universal respect by the austerity of his life and by his skill in interpreting the divine oracles.***
* At the very opening of the First Book of Samuel (i.3), Shiloh is mentioned as being the sanctuary of Jahveh- Sabaoth, Jahveh the Lord of hosts. The tradition preserved in Josh, xviii.1, removes the date of its establishment as far back as the earliest times of the Israelite conquest.
** The idea that the Tables of the Law were enclosed in the Ark is frequently expressed in Exodus and in subsequent books of the Hexateuch.
*** The history of Eli extends over chaps, i.-iv. of the First Book of Samuel; it is incorporated with that of Samuel, and treats only of the events which accompanied the destruction of the sanctuary of Shiloh by the Philistines.
His two sons, on the contrary, took advantage of his extreme age to annoy those who came up to worship, and they were even accused of improper behaviour towards the women who |served at the door of| the tabernacle. They appropriated to themselves a larger portion of the victims than they were entitled to, extracting from the caldron the meat offerings of the faithful after the sacrifice was over by means of flesh-hooks. Their misdeeds were such, that |men abhorred the offering of the Lord,| and yet the reverence for the ark was so great in the minds of the people, that they continued to have recourse to it on every occasion of national danger.* The people of Ephraim and Benjamin having been defeated once between Eben-ezer and Aphek, bore the ark in state to the battle-field, that its presence might inspire them with confidence. The Philistines were alarmed at its advent, and exclaimed, |God is come into the camp. Woe unto us! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods?... Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you.|** In response to this appeal, their troops fought so boldly that they once more gained a victory. |And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon his seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out. And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man hasted, and came and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were set, that he could not see. And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to-day out of the army. And he said, How went the matter, my son? And he that brought the tidings answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phineas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off his seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy.|***
* Sam. iv.12-18.
** This is not mentioned in the sacred books; but certain reasons for believing this destruction to have taken place are given by Stade.
*** The Philistine garrison at Geba (Gibeah) is mentioned in 1 Sam. xiii.3, i.
The defeat of Eben-ezer completed, at least for a time, the overthrow of the tribes of Central Canaan. The Philistines destroyed the sanctuary of Shiloh, and placed a garrison at Gibeah to keep the Benjamites in subjection, and to command the route of the Jordan;* it would even appear that they pushed their advance-posts beyond Carmel in order to keep in touch with the independent Canaanite cities such as Megiddo, Taanach, and Bethshan, and to ensure a free use of the various routes leading in the direction of Damascus, Tyre, and Coele-Syria.**
* After the victory at Gilboa, the Philistines exposed the dead bodies of Saul and his sons upon the walls of Bethshan (1 Sam. xxxi.10, 12), which they would not have been able to do had the inhabitants not been allies or vassals. Friendly relations with Bethshan entailed almost as a matter of course some similar understanding with the cities of the plain of Jezreel.
** 1 Sam. vii.16, 17. These verses represent, as a matter of fact, all that we know of Samuel anterior to his relations with Saul. This account seems to represent him as exercising merely a restricted influence over the territory of Benjamin and the south of Ephraim. It was not until the prophetic period that, together with Eli, he was made to figure as Judge of all Israel.
The Philistine power continued dominant for at least half a century. The Hebrew chroniclers, scandalised at the prosperity of the heathen, did their best to abridge the time of the Philistine dominion, and interspersed it with Israelitish victories. Just at this time, however, there lived a man who was able to inspire them with fresh hope. He was a priest of Bamah, Samuel, the son of Elkanah, who had acquired the reputation of being a just and wise judge in the towns of Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; |and he judged Israel in all those places, and his return was to Bamah, for there was his house... and he built there an altar unto the Lord.| To this man the whole Israelite nation attributed with pride the deliverance of their race. The sacred writings relate how his mother, the pious Hannah, had obtained his birth from Jahveh after years of childlessness, and had forthwith devoted him to the service of God. She had sent him to Shiloh at the age of three years, and there, clothed in a linen tunic and in a little robe which his mother made for him herself, he ministered before God in the presence of Eli. One night it happened, when the latter was asleep in his place, |and the lamp of God was not yet gone out, and Samuel was laid down to sleep in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel: and he said, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called thee not; lie down again.| Twice again the voice was heard, and at length Eli perceived that it was God who had called the child, and he bade him reply: |Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth.| From thenceforward Jahveh was |with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.| Twenty years after the sad death of his master, Samuel felt that the moment had come to throw off the Philistine yoke; he exhorted the people to put away their false gods, and he assembled them at Mizpah to absolve them from their sins. The Philistines, suspicious of this concourse, which boded ill for the maintenance of their authority, arose against him. |And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a whole burnt offering unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.| The Philistines, demoralised by the thunderstorm which ensued, were overcome on the very spot where they had triumphed over the sons of Eli, and fled in disorder to their own country. |Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer (the Stone of Help), saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.| He next attacked the Tyrians and the Amorites, and won back from them all the territory they had conquered.* One passage, in which Samuel is not mentioned, tells us how heavily the Philistine yoke had weighed upon the people, and explains their long patience by the fact that their enemies had taken away all their weapons. |Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears;| and whoever needed to buy or repair the most ordinary agricultural implements was forced to address himself to the Philistine blacksmiths.** The very extremity of the evil worked its own cure. The fear of the Midian-ites had already been the occasion of the ephemeral rule of Jerubbaal and Abimelech; the Philistine tyranny forced first the tribes of Central and then those of Southern Canaan to unite under the leadership of one man. In face of so redoubtable an enemy and so grave a peril a greater effort was required, and the result was proportionate to their increased activity.
* This manner of retaliating against the Philistines for the disaster they had formerly inflicted on Israel, is supposed by some critics to be an addition of a later date, either belonging to the time of the prophets, or to the period when the Jews, without any king or settled government, rallied at Mizpah. According to these scholars, 1 Sam. vii.2-14 forms part of a biography, written at a time when the foundation of the Benjamite monarchy had not as yet been attributed to Saul.
** 1 Sam. xiii.20, 21.
The Manassite rule extended at most over two or three clans, but that of Saul and David embraced the Israelite nation.* Benjamin at that time reckoned among its most powerful chiefs a man of ancient and noble family -- Saul, the son of Kish -- who possessed extensive flocks and considerable property, and was noted for his personal beauty, for |there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.|** He had already reached mature manhood, and had several children, the eldest of whom, Jonathan, was well known as a skilful and brave soldier, while Saul's reputation was such that his kinsmen beyond Jordan had recourse to his aid as to a hero whose presence would secure victory. The Ammonites had laid siege to Jabesh-Gilead, and the town was on the point of surrendering; Saul came to their help, forced the enemy to raise the siege, and inflicted such a severe lesson upon them, that during the whole of his lifetime they did not again attempt hostilities. He was soon after proclaimed king by the Benjamites, as Jerubbaal had been raised to authority by the Manassites on the morrow of his victory.***
* The beginning of Saul's reign, up to his meeting with David, will be found in 1 Sam. viii.-xv. We can distinguish the remains of at least two ancient narratives, which the writer of the Book of Samuel has put together in order to form a complete and continuous account. As elsewhere in this work, I have confined myself to accepting the results at which criticism has arrived, without entering into detailed discussions which do not come within the domain of history.
** 1 Sam. ix.2. In one account he is represented as quite a young man, whose father is still in the prime of life (1 Sam. ix.), but this cannot refer to the time of the Philistine war, where we find him accompanied, at the very outset of his reign, by his son, who is already skilled in the use of weapons.
*** 1 Sam. xi. According to the text of the Septuagint, the war against the Ammonites broke out a month after Saul had been secretly anointed by Samuel; his popular proclamation did not take place till after the return from the campaign.
We learn from the sacred writings that Samuel's influence had helped to bring about these events. It had been shown him by the divine voice that Saul was to be the chosen ruler, and he had anointed him and set him before the people as their appointed lord; the scene of this must have been either Mizpah or Gilgal.*
* One narrative appears to represent him as being only the priest or local prophet of Hamah, and depicts him as favourable to the establishment of the monarchy (1 Sam. ix.1-27, x.1-16); the other, however, admits that he was |judge| of all Israel, and implies that he was hostile to the choice of a king (1 Sam. viii.1-22, x.17, 27, xii.1-25)
The accession of a sovereign who possessed the allegiance of all Israel could not fail to arouse the vigilance of their Philistine oppressors; Jonathan, however, anticipated their attack and captured Gibeah. The five kings at once despatched an army to revenge this loss; the main body occupied Michmash, almost opposite to the stronghold taken from them, while three bands of soldiers were dispersed over the country, ravaging as they went, with orders to attack Saul in the rear. The latter had only six hundred men, with whom he scarcely dared to face so large a force; besides which, he was separated from the enemy by the Wady Suweinit, here narrowed almost into a gorge between two precipitous rocks, and through which no body of troops could penetrate without running the risk of exposing themselves in single file to the enemy. Jonathan, however, resolved to attempt a surprise in broad daylight, accompanied only by his armour-bearer. |There was a rocky crag on the one side, and a rooky crag on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez (the Shining), and the name of the other Seneh (the Acacia). The one crag rose up on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba (Gribeah).| The two descended the side of the gorge, on the top of which they were encamped, and prepared openly to climb the opposite side. The Philistine sentries imagined they were deserters, and said as they approached: |Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armour-bearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will show you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armour-bearer, Come up after me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armour-bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armour-bearer slew them after him. And that first slaughter that Jonathan and his armour-bearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were half a furrow's length in an acre of land.| From Gribeah, where Saul's troops were in ignorance of what was passing, the Benjamite sentinels could distinguish a tumult. Saul guessed that a surprise had taken place, and marched upon the enemy.
[Illustration: 314.jpg THE WADY SUWEINIT]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.402 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
The Philistines were ousted from their position, and pursued hotly beyond Bethel as far as Ajalon.* This constituted the actual birthday of the Israelite monarchy.
* The account of these events, separated by the parts relating to the biography of Samuel (1 Sam. xiii.76-15a, thought by some to be of a later date), and of the breaking by Jonathan of the fast enjoined by Saul (1 Sam. xiv.23- 45), covers 1 Sam. xiii.3-7a, 156-23, xiv.1-22, 46. The details appear to be strictly historical; the number of the Philistines, however, seems to be exaggerated; |30,000 chariots, and 6000 horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea-shore in multitude |(1 Sam. xiii.5).
Gilead, the whole house of Joseph -- Ephraim and Manasseh -- and Benjamin formed its nucleus, and were Saul's strongest supporters. We do not know how far his influence extended northwards; it probably stopped short at the neighbourhood of Mount Tabor, and the Galileans either refused to submit to his authority, or acknowledged it merely in theory. In the south the clans of Judah and Simeon were not long in rallying round him, and their neighbours the Kenites, with Caleb and Jerahmeel, soon followed their example. These southerners, however, appear to have been somewhat half-hearted in their allegiance to the Benjamite king: it was not enough to have gained their adhesion -- a stronger tie was needed to attach them to the rest of the nation. Saul endeavoured to get rid of the line of Canaanite cities which isolated them from Ephraim, but he failed in the effort, we know not from what cause, and his attempt produced no other result than to arouse against him the hatred of the Gibeonite inhabitants.* He did his best to watch over the security of his new subjects, and protected them against the Amalekites, who were constantly harassing them.
* The fact is made known to us by an accidental mention of it in 2 Sam. xxi.1-11. The motive which induced Saul to take arms against the Gibeonites is immediately apparent when we realise the position occupied by Gideon between Judah and the tribes of Central Canaan.
Their king, Agag, happening to fall into his hands, he killed him, and destroyed several of their nomad bands, thus inspiring the remainder with a salutary terror.* Subsequent tradition credited him with victories gained over all the enemies of Israel -- over Moab, Edom, and even the Aramaeans of Zobah -- it endowed him even with the projects and conquests of David. At any rate, the constant incursions of the Philistines could not have left him much time for fighting in the north and east of his domains. Their defeat at Gibeah was by no means a decisive one, and they quickly recovered from the blow; the conflict with them lasted to the end of Saul's lifetime, and during the whole of this period he never lost an opportunity of increasing his army.**
The monarchy was as yet in a very rudimentary state, without either the pomp or accessories usually associated with royalty in the ancient kingdoms of the East. Saul, as King of Israel, led much the same sort of life as when he was merely a Benjamite chief. He preferred to reside at Gibeah, in the house of his forefathers, with no further resources than those yielded by the domain inherited from his ancestors, together with the spoil taken in battle.***
* The part taken by Samuel in the narrative of Saul's war against the Amalekites (1 Sam. xv.) is thought by some critics to have been introduced with a view of exalting the prophet's office at the expense of the king and the monarchy. They regard 1 Sam. xiv.48 as being the sole historic ground of the narrative.
** 1 Sam. xiv.47. We may admit his successful skirmishes with Moab, but some writers maintain that the defeat of the Edomites and Aramaeans is a mere anticipation, and consider that the passage is only a reflection of 2 Sam. viii.8, and reproduces the list of the wars of David, with the exception of the expedition against Damascus.
*** Gibeah is nowhere expressly mentioned as being the capital of Saul, but the name Gibeah of Saul which it bore shows that it must have been the royal residence; the names of the towns mentioned in the account of Saul's pursuit of David -- Naioth, Eamah, and Nob -- are all near to Gibeah. It was also at Gibeah that the Gibeonites slew seven of the sons and grandsons of Saul (2 Sam. xxi.6-9), no doubt to bring ignominy on the family of the first king in the very place in which they had governed.
All that he had, in addition to his former surroundings, were a priesthood attached to the court, and a small army entirely at his own disposal. Ahijah, a descendant of Eli, sacrificed for the king when the latter did not himself officiate; he fulfilled the office of chaplain to him in time of war, and was the mouthpiece of the divine oracles when these were consulted as to the propitious moment for attacking the enemy.
[Illustration: 319.jpg A PHOENICIAN SOLDIER]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the bronze original in the Louvre.
The army consisted of a nucleus of Benjamites, recruited from the king's clan, with the addition of any adventurers, whether Israelites or strangers, who were attracted to enlist under a popular military chief.* It comprised archers, slingers, and bands of heavily armed infantry, after the fashion of the Phoenician, bearing pikes. We can gam some idea of their appearance and equipment from the bronze statuettes of an almost contemporary period, which show us the Phoenician foot-soldiers or the barbarian mercenaries in the pay of the Phoenician cities: they wear the horizontally striped loin-cloth of the Syrians, leaving the arms and legs entirely bare, and the head is protected by a pointed or conical helmet.
* Ahijah (1 Sam. xiv.3), son of Ahitub, great-grandson of Eli, appears to be the same as Ahimelech, son of Ahitub, who subsequently helped David (1 Sam. xxi.1-10), and was massacred by order of Saul (1 Sam. xxii.9-19). The scribe must have been shocked by the name Melech -- that of the god Milik [Moloch] -- and must have substituted Jah or Jahveh.
Saul possessed none of the iron-bound chariots which always accompanied the Qanaanite infantry; these heavy vehicles would have been entirely out of place in the mountain districts, which were the usual field of operations for the Israelite force.* We are unable to ascertain whether the king's soldiers received any regular pay, but we know that the spoil was divided between the prince and his men, each according to his rank and in proportion to the valour he had displayed.** In cases of necessity, the whole of the tribes were assembled, and a selection was made of all those capable of bearing arms. This militia, composed mainly of a pastoral peasantry in the prime of life, capable of heroic efforts, was nevertheless ill-disciplined, liable to sudden panics, and prone to become disbanded on the slightest reverse.***
* With regard to the use of the bow among Saul's soldiers, cf.1 Sam. xx.18-42, where we find the curious scene of the meeting of David and Jonathan, when the latter came out of Gibeah on the pretext of practising with bow and arrows. The accoutrement of the Hebrews is given in the passage where Saul lends his armour to David before meeting with Goliath (1 Sam. xvii.38, 39).
** Cf. the quarrel which took place between the soldiers of David about the spoil taken from the Amalekites, and the manner in which the strife was decided by David (1 Sam. xxx.21-25)
*** Saul, for instance, assembles the people and makes a selection to attack the Philistines (1 Sam. xiii.2, 4, 7) against the Ammonites (1 Sam. xi.7, 8) and against the Amalekites (1 Sam. xv.4).
Saul had the supreme command of the whole; the members of his own family served as lieutenants under him, including his son Jonathan, to whom he owed some of his most brilliant victories, together with his cousin Abner, the sar-zaba, who led the royal guard.* Among the men of distinguished valour who had taken service under Saul, he soon singled out David, son of Jesse, a native of Bethlehem of Judah.** David was the first Judaean hero, the typical king who served as a model to all subsequent monarchs. His elevation, like that of Saul, is traced to Samuel. The old prophet had repaired to Bethlehem ostensibly to offer a sacrifice, and after examining all the children of Jesse, he chose the youngest, and |anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David.|***
* 1 Sam. xiv.50, 51. There is no record of the part played by Abner during Saul's lifetime: he begins to figure in the narrative after the battle at Gilboa under the double reign of Ish-bosheth and David.
** The name of David is a shortened form of Davdo, Dodo, |the favourite of Him,| i.e. God.
*** The intervention of the prophet occupies 1 Sam. xvi.1- 13. Some critics have imagined that this passage was interpolated at a later date, and reflects the events which are narrated in chap. x. They say it was to show that Saul was not alone in enjoying consecration by the prophet, and hence all doubt would be set at rest as to whether David was actually that |neighbour of thine, that is better than thou,| mentioned in 1 Sam. xv.28.
His introduction at the court of Saul is variously accounted for. According to one narrative, Saul, being possessed by an evil spirit, fell at times into a profound melancholy, from which he could be aroused only by the playing of a harp. On learning that David was skilled in this instrument, he begged Jesse to send him his son, and the lad soon won the king's affection. As often as the illness came upon him, David took his harp, and |Saul was refreshed, and the evil spirit departed from him.|* Another account relates that he entered on his soldierly career by killing with his sling Goliath of Gath,** who had challenged the bravest Israelites to combat; though elsewhere the death of Goliath is attributed to Elhanan of Bethlehem,*** one of the |mighty men of valour,| who specially distinguished himself in the wars against the Philistines. David had, however, no need to take to himself the brave deeds of others; at Ephes-dammim, in company with Eleazar, the son of Dodai, and Shammah, the son of Agu, he had posted himself in a field of lentils, and the three warriors had kept the Philistines at bay till their discomfited Israelite comrades had had time to rally.****
* 1 Sam. xvi.14-23. This narrative is directly connected with 1 Sam. xiv.52, where we are told that when |Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.|
** 1 Sam. xvii., xviii.1-5. According to some writers, this second version, the best known of the two, is a development at a later period of the tradition preserved in 2 Sam. xxi.19, where the victory of Elhanan over Goliath is recorded.
*** 2 Sam. xxi.19, where the duel of Goliath and Elhanan is placed in the reign of David, during the combat at Gob. Some critics think that the writer of Chronicles, recognising the difficulty presented by this passage, changed the epithet Bethlehemite, which qualified the name of Elhanan, into Lahmi, the name of Goliath's brother (1 Citron, xx.5). Say ce thought to get over the difficulty by supposing that Elhanan was David's first name; but Elhanan is the son of Jair, and not the son of Jesse.
**** The combat of Paz-Dammim or Ephes-Dammim is mentioned in 1 Sam. xvii.1; the exploit of David and his two comrades, 2 Sam: xxiii.9-12 (cf.1 Chron. xi, 12-14, which slightly varies from 2 Sam. xxiii.9-12).
Saul entrusted him with several difficult undertakings, in all of which he acquitted himself with honour. On his return from one of them, the women of the villages came out to meet him, singing and dancing to the sound of timbrels, the refrain of their song being: |Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.| The king concealed the jealousy which this simple expression of joy excited within him, but it found vent at the next outbreak of his illness, and he attempted to kill David with a spear, though soon after he endeavoured to make amends for his action by giving him his second daughter Michal in marriage.* This did not prevent the king from again attempting David's life, either in a real or simulated fit of madness; but not being successful, he despatched a body of men to waylay him. According to one account it was Michal who helped her husband to escape,** while another attributes the saving of his life to Jonathan. This prince had already brought about one reconciliation between his father and David, and had spared no pains to reinstall him in the royal favour, but his efforts merely aroused the king's suspicion against himself. Saul imagined that a conspiracy existed for the purpose of dethroning him, and of replacing him by his son; Jonathan, knowing that his life also was threatened, at length renounced the attempt, and David and his followers withdrew from court.
* The account of the first disagreement between Saul and David, and with regard to the marriage of David with Michal, is given in 1 Sam. xviii.6-16, 20-29, and presents every appearance of authenticity. Verses 17-19, mentioning a project of union between David and Saul's eldest daughter, Merab, has at some time been interpolated; it is not given in the LXX., either because it was not in the Hebrew version they had before them, or because they suppressed it owing to the motive appearing to them insufficient.
** 1 Sam. xix.11-17. Many critics regard this passage as an interpolation.
[Illustration: 324.jpg AID-EL-RA, THE SITE OF THE ANCIENT ADULLAM]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.430 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
He was hospitably received by a descendant of Eli,* Ahimelech the priest, at Nob, and wandered about in the neighbourhood of Adullam, hiding himself in the wooded valleys of Khereth, in the heart of Judah. He retained the sympathies of many of the Benjamites, more than one of whom doubted whether it would not be to their advantage to transfer their allegiance from their aged king to this more youthful hero.
* 1 Sam. xxi.8, 9 adds that he took as a weapon the sword of Goliath which was laid up in the sanctuary at Nob.
Saul got news of their defection, and one day when he was sitting, spear in hand, under the tamarisk at Gibeah, he indignantly upbraided his servants, and pointed out to them the folly of their plans. |Hear, now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards? will he make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds?| Ahimelech was selected as the victim of the king's anger: denounced by Doeg, Saul's steward, he was put to death, and all his family, with the exception of Abiathar, one of his sons, perished with him.* As soon as it became known that David held the hill-country, a crowd of adventurous spirits flocked to place themselves under his leadership, anticipating, no doubt, that spoil would not be lacking with so brave a chief, and he soon found himself at the head of a small army, with Abiathar as priest, and the ephod, rescued from Nob, in his possession.**
* 1 Sam. xix.-xxii., where, according to some critics, two contradictory versions have been blended together at a late period. The most probable version is given in 1 Sam, xix.8- 10 [11-18a], xxi.1-7 [8-10], xxii., and is that which I have followed by preference; the other version, according to these writers, attributes too important a role to Jonathan, and relates at length the efforts he made to reconcile his father and his friend (1 Sam. xviii.30, xix.1-7, xx.). It is thought, from the confusion apparent in this part of the narrative, that a record of the real motives which provoked a rupture between the king and his son-in-law has not been preserved.
** 1 Sam. xxii.20-23, xxiii.6. For the use of the ephod by Abiathar for oracular purposes, cf.1 Sam. xxiii.9-12, xxx.7, 8; the inquiry in 1 Sam. xxiii.2-4 probably belongs to the same series, although neither Abiathar nor the ephod is mentioned.
The country was favourable for their operations; it was a perfect labyrinth of deep ravines, communicating with each other by narrow passes or by paths winding along the edges of precipices. Isolated rocks, accessible only by rugged ascents, defied assault, while extensive caves offered a safe hiding-place to those who were familiar with their windings. One day the little band descended to the rescue of Keilah, which they succeeded in wresting from the Philistines, but no sooner did they learn that Saul was on his way to meet them than they took refuge in the south of Judah, in the neighbourhood of Ziph and Maon, between the mountains and the Dead Sea.*
* 1 Sam. xxiii.1-13; an episode acknowledged to be historical by nearly-all modern critics.
[Illustration: 326.jpg THE DESERT OF JUDAH]
Drawn by Boudior, from photograph No.197 of the Palestine Exploration Fund. The heights visible in the distance are the mountains of Moab, beyond the Dead Sea.
Saul already irritated by his rival's successes, was still more galled by being always on the point of capturing him, and yet always seeing him slip from his grasp. On one afternoon, when the king had retired into a cave for his siesta, he found himself at the mercy of his adversary; the latter, however, respected the sleep of his royal master, and contented himself with cutting a piece off his mantle.* On another occasion David, in company with Abishai and Ahimelech the Hittite, took a lance and a pitcher of water from the king's bedside.** The inhabitants of the country were not all equally loyal to David's cause; those of Ziph, whose meagre resources were taxed to support his followers, plotted to deliver him up to the king,*** while Nabal of Maon roughly refused him food. Abigail atoned for her husband's churlishness by a speedy submission; she collected a supply of provisions, and brought it herself to the wanderers. David was as much disarmed by her tact as by her beauty, and when she was left a widow he married her. This union insured the support of the Calebite clan, the most powerful in that part of the country, and policy as well as gratitude no doubt suggested the alliance.
* 1 Sam, xxiv. Thought by some writers to be of much later date.
** 1 Sam. xxvi.4-25.
Skirmishes were not as frequent between the king's troops and the outlaws as we might at first be inclined to believe, but if at times there was a truce to hostilities, they never actually ceased, and the position became intolerable. Encamped between his kinsman and the Philistines, David found himself unable to resist either party except by making friends with the other. An incursion of the Philistines near Maon saved David from the king, but when Saul had repulsed it, David had no choice but to throw himself into the arms of Achish, King of Gath, of whom he craved permission to settle as his vassal at Ziklag, on condition of David's defending the frontier against the Bedawin.*
* 1 Sam. xxvii. The earlier part of this chapter (vers.1-6) is strictly historical. Some critics take vers.8-12 to be of later date, and pretend that they were inserted to show the cleverness of David, and to deride the credulity of the King of Gath.
Saul did not deem it advisable to try and dislodge him from this retreat. Peace having been re-established in Judah, the king turned northward and occupied the heights which bound the plain of Jezreel to the east; it is possible that he contemplated pushing further afield, and rallying round him those northern tribes who had hitherto never acknowledged his authority. He may, on the other hand, have desired merely to lay hands on the Syrian highways, and divert to his own profit the resources brought by the caravans which plied along them. The Philistines, who had been nearly ruined by the loss of the right to demand toll of these merchants, assembled the contingents of their five principalities, among them being the Hebrews of David, who formed the personal guard of Achish. The four other princes objected to the presence of these strangers in their midst, and forced Achish to dismiss them. David returned to Ziklag, to find ruin and desolation everywhere. The Amalekites had taken advantage of the departure of the Hebrews to revenge themselves once for all for David's former raids on them, and they had burnt the town, carrying off the women and flocks. David at once set out on their track, overtook them just beyond the torrent of Besor, and rescued from them, not only his own belongings, but all the booty they had collected by the way in the southern provinces of Caleb, in Judah, and in the Cherethite plain.
He distributed part of this spoil among those cities of Judah which had shown hospitality to himself and his men, for instance, to Jattir, Aroer, Eshtemoa, Hormah, and Hebron.* While he thus kept up friendly relations with those who might otherwise have been tempted to forget him, Saul was making his last supreme effort against the Philistines, but only ito meet with failure. He had been successful in repulsing them as long as he kept to the mountain districts, where the courage of his troops made up for their lack of numbers and the inferiority of their arms; but he was imprudent enough to take up a position on the hillsides of Gilboa, whose gentle slopes offered no hindrances to the operations of the heavy Philistine battalions. They attacked the Israelites from the Shunem side, and swept all before them. Jonathan perished in the conflict, together with his two brothers, Malchi-shua and Abinadab; Saul, who was wounded by an arrow, begged his armour-bearer to take his life, but, on his persistently refusing, the king killed himself with his own sword. The victorious Philistines cut off his head and those of his sons, and placed their armour in the temple of Ashtoreth,** while their bodies, thus despoiled, were hung up outside the walls of Bethshan, whose Canaanite inhabitants had made common cause with the Philistines against Israel.
* 1 Sam. xxviii.1, 2, xxix., xxx. The torrent of Besor is the present Wady Esh-Sheriah, which runs to the south of Gaza.
** The text of 1 Sam. xxxi.10 says, in a vague manner, |in the house of the Ashtaroth| (in the plural), which is corrected, somewhat arbitrarily, in 1 Chron. x.10 iato |in the house of Dagon| (B.V.); it is possible that it was the temple at Gaza, Gaza being the chief of the Philistine towns.
The people of Jabesh-Gilead, who had never forgotten how Saul had saved them from the Ammonites, hearing the news, marched all night, rescued the mutilated remains, and brought them back to their own town, where they burned them, and buried the charred bones under a tamarisk, fasting meanwhile seven days as a sign of mourning.*
* 1 Sam. xxxi. It would seem that there were two narratives describing this war: in one, the Philistines encamped at Shunem, and Saul occupied Mount Gilboa (1 Sam. xxviii.4); in the other, the Philistines encamped at Aphek, and the Israelites |by the fountain which is in Jezreel| (1 Sam. xxix.1). The first of these accounts is connected with the episode of the witch of Endor, the second with the sending away of David by Achish. The final catastrophe is in both narratives placed on Mount Gilboa and Stade has endeavoured to reconcile the two accounts by admitting that the battle was fought between Aphek and |the fountain,| but that the final scene took place on the slopes of Gilboa. There are even two versions of the battle, one in 1 Sam. xxxi. and the other in 2 Sam. i.6-10, where Saul does not kill himself, but begs an Amalekite to slay him; many critics reject the second version.
[Illustration: 330.jpg THE HILL OF BETHSHAN, SEEN FROM THE EAST]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.79 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
David afterwards disinterred these relics, and laid them in the burying-place of the family of Kish at Zela, in Benjamin. The tragic end of their king made a profound impression on the people. We read that, before entering on his last battle, Saul was given over to gloomy forebodings: he had sought counsel of Jahveh, but God |answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.| The aged Samuel had passed away at Ramah, and had apparently never seen the king after the flight of David;* Saul now bethought himself of the prophet in his despair, and sought to recall him from the tomb to obtain his counsel.
* 1 Sam. xxv.1, repeated 1 Sam. xxviii.3, with a mention of the measures taken by Saul against the wizards and fortune-tellers.
The king had banished from the land all wizards and fortune-tellers, but his servants brought him word that at Endor there still remained a woman who could call up the dead. Saul disguised himself, and, accompanied by two of his retainers, went to find her; he succeeded in overcoming her fear of punishment, and persuaded her to make the evocation. |Whom shall I bring up unto thee?| -- |Bring up Samuel.| -- And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice, saying, |Why hast thou deceived me, for thou art Saul?| And the king said unto her, |Be not afraid, for what sawest thou?| -- |I saw gods ascending out of the earth.| -- |What form is he of?| -- |An old man cometh up, and he is covered with a mantle.| Saul immediately recognised Samuel, and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before him. The prophet, as inflexible after death as in his lifetime, had no words of comfort for the God-forsaken man who had troubled his repose. |The Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David, because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord,... and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me. The Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.|*
* 1 Sam. xxviii.5-25. There is no reason why this scene should not be historical; it was natural that Saul, like many an ancient general in similar circumstances, should seek to know the future by means of the occult sciences then in vogue. Some critics think that certain details of the evocation -- as, for instance, the words attributed to Samuel -- are of a later date.
We learn, also, how David, at Ziklag, on hearing the news of the disaster, had broken into weeping, and had composed a lament, full of beauty, known as the |Song of the Bow,| which the people of Judah committed to memory in their childhood. |Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places! How are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph! Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you, neither fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil! From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death they were not divided.|*
* 2 Sam. i.17-27 (R.V.). This elegy is described as a quotation from Jasher, the |Book of the Upright.| Many modern writers attribute its authorship to David himself; others reject this view; all agree in regarding it as extremely ancient. The title, |Song of the Bow,| is based on the possibly corrupt text of ver.18.
The Philistines occupied in force the plain of Jezreel and the pass which leads from it into the lowlands of Bethshan: the Israelites abandoned the villages which they had occupied in these districts, and the gap between the Hebrews of the north and those of the centre grew wider. The remnants of Saul's army sought shelter on the eastern bank of the Jordan, but found no leader to reorganise them. The reverse sustained by the Israelitish champion seemed, moreover, to prove the futility of trying to make a stand against the invader, and even the useless-ness of the monarchy itself: why, they might have asked, burthen ourselves with a master, and patiently bear with his exactions, if, when put to the test, he fails to discharge the duties for the performance of which he was chosen? And yet the advantages of a stable form of government had been so manifest during the reign of Saul, that it never for a moment occurred to his former subjects to revert to patriarchal institutions: the question which troubled them was not whether they were to have a king, but rather who was to fill the post. Saul had left a considerable number of descendants behind him.* From these, Abner, the ablest of his captains, chose Ishbaal, and set him on the throne to reign under his guidance.**
* We know that he had three sons by his wife Ahinoam -- Jonathan, Ishbaal, and Malchi-shua; and two daughters, Merab and Michal (1 Sam. xiv.49, 50, where |Ishvi| should be read |Ishbaal|). Jonathan left at least one son, Meribbaal (1 Chron. viii.34, ix.40, called Mephibosheth in 2 Sam. xxi.7), and Merab had five sons by Adriel (2 Sam. xxi.8). One of Saul's concubines, Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, had borne him two sons, Armoni and Meribbaal (2 Sam. xxi.8, where the name Meribbaal is changed into Mephibosheth); Abinadab, who fell with him in the fight at Mount Gilboa (1 Sam. xxxi.2), whose mother's name is not mentioned, was another son.
** Ishbaal was still a child when his father died: had he been old enough to bear arms, he would have taken a part in the battle of Gilboa with his brothers.. The expressions used in the account of his elevation to the throne prove that he was a minor (2 Sam. ii.8, 9); the statement that he was forty years old when he began to reign would seem, therefore, to be an error (ii.10).
Gibeah was too close to the frontier to be a safe residence for a sovereign whose position was still insecure; Abner therefore installed Ishbaal at Mahanaim, in the heart of the country of Gilead. The house of Jacob, including the tribe of Benjamin, acknowledged him as king, but Judah held aloof. It had adopted the same policy at the beginning of the previous reign, yet its earlier isolation had not prevented it from afterwards throwing in its lot with the rest of the nation. But at that time no leader had come forward from its own ranks who was worthy to be reckoned among the mighty men of Israel; now, on the contrary, it had on its frontier a bold and resolute leader of its own race. David lost no time in stepping into the place of those whose loss he had bewailed. Their sudden removal, while it left him without a peer among his own people, exposed him to the suspicion and underground machinations of his foreign protectors; he therefore quitted them and withdrew to Hebron, where his fellow-countrymen hastened to proclaim him king.* From that time onwards the tendency of the Hebrew race was to drift apart into two distinct bodies; one of them, the house of Joseph, which called itself by the name of Israel, took up its position in the north, on the banks of the Jordan; the other, which is described as the house of Judah, in the south, between the Dead Sea and the Shephelah. Abner endeavoured to suppress the rival kingdom in its infancy: he brought Ishbaal to Gibeah and proposed to Joab, who was in command of David's army, that the conflict should be decided by the somewhat novel expedient of pitting twelve of the house of Judah against an equal number of the house of Benjamin. The champions of Judah are said to have won the day, but the opposing forces did not abide by the result, and the struggle still continued.**
* 2 Sam. ii.1 -- 11. Very probably Abner recognised the Philistine suzerainty as David had done, for the sake of peace; at any rate, we find no mention in Holy Writ of a war between Ishbaal and the Philistines.
** 2 Sam. ii.12-32, iii.1.
An intrigue in the harem furnished a solution of the difficulty. Saul had raised one of his wives of the second rank, named Eizpah, to the post of favourite. Abner became enamoured of her and took her. This was an insult to the royal house, and amounted to an act of open usurpation: the wives of a sovereign could not legally belong to any but his successor, and for any one to treat them as Abner had treated Rizpah, was equivalent to his declaring himself the equal, and in a sense the rival, of his master. Ishbaal keenly resented his minister's conduct, and openly insulted him. Abner made terms with David, won the northern tribes, including that of Benjamin, over to his side, and when what seemed a propitious moment had arrived, made his way to Hebron with an escort of twenty men. He was favourably received, and all kinds of promises were made him; but when he was about to depart again in order to complete the negotiations with the disaffected elders, Joab, returning from an expedition, led him aside into a gateway and slew him. David gave him solemn burial, and composed a lament on the occasion, of which four verses have come down to us: having thus paid tribute to the virtues of the deceased general, he lost no time in taking further precautions to secure his power. The unfortunate king Ishbaal, deserted by every one, was assassinated by two of his officers as he slept in the heat of the day, and his head was carried to Hebron: David again poured forth lamentations, and ordered the traitors to be killed. There was now no obstacle between him and the throne: the elders of the people met him at Hebron, poured oil upon his head, and anointed him king over all the provinces which had obeyed the rule of Saul in Gilead -- Ephraim and Benjamin as well as Judah.*
* 2 Sam. v.1-3; in 1 Ghron. xi.1-3, xii.23-40, we find further details beyond those given in the Book of Samuel; it seems probable, however, that the northern tribes may not have recognised David's sovereignty at this time.
As long as Ishbaal lived, and his dissensions with Judah assured their supremacy, the Philistines were content to suspend hostilities: the news of his death, and of the union effected between Israel and Judah, soon roused them from this state of quiescence. As prince of the house of Caleb and vassal of the lord of Grath, David had not been an object of any serious apprehension to them; but in his new character, as master of the dominions of Saul, David became at once a dangerous rival, whom they must overthrow without delay, unless they were willing to risk being ere long overthrown by him. They therefore made an attack on Bethlehem with the choicest of their forces, and entrenched themselves there, with the Canaanite city of Jebus as their base, so as to separate Judah entirely from Benjamin, and cut off the little army quartered round Hebron from the reinforcements which the central tribes would otherwise have sent to its aid.* This move was carried out so quickly that David found himself practically isolated from the rest of his kingdom, and had no course left open but to shut himself up in Adullam, with his ordinary guard and the Judsean levies.**
* The history of this war is given in 2 Sam. v.17-25, where the text shows signs of having been much condensed. It is preceded by the account of the capture of Jerusalem, which some critics would like to transfer to chap, vi., following ver.1 which leads up to it. The events which followed are self-explanatory, if we assume, as I have done in the text, that the Philistines wished to detach Judah from Israel: at first (2 Sam. v.17-21) David endeavours to release himself and effect a juncture with Israel, as is proved by the relative positions assigned to the two opposing armies, the Philistines at Bethlehem, David in the cave of Adullam; afterwards (2 Sam. v.22-25) David has shaken himself free, has rejoined Israel, and is carrying on the struggle between Gibeah and Gezer. The incidents recounted in 2 Sam. xxi.15- 22, xxiii.13-19, seem to refer almost exclusively to the earlier part of the war, at the time when the Hebrews were hemmed in in the neighbourhood of Adullam.
** The passage in 2 Sam. v.17 simply states that David |went down to the hold,| and gives no further details. This expression, following as it does the account of the taking of Jerusalem, would seem to refer to this town itself, and Renan has thus interpreted it. It really refers to Adullam, as is shown by the passage in 2 Sam. xxiii.13-17.1 2 Sam. xxi.15-17.
The whole district round about is intersected by a network of winding streams, and abounds in rocky gorges, where a few determined men could successfully hold their ground against the onset of a much more numerous body of troops. The caves afford, as we know, almost impregnable refuges: David had often hidden himself in them in the days when he fled before Saul, and now his soldiers profited by the knowledge he possessed of them to elude the attacks of the Philistines. He began a sort of guerilla warfare, in the conduct of which he seems to have been without a rival, and harassed in endless skirmishes his more heavily equipped adversaries. He did not spare himself, and freely risked his own life; but he was of small stature and not very powerful, so that his spirit often outran his strength. On one occasion, when he had advanced too far into the fray and was weary with striking, he ran great peril of being killed by a gigantic Philistine: with difficulty Abishai succeeded in rescuing him unharmed from the dangerous position into which he had ventured, and for the future he was not allowed to run such risks on the field of battle. On another occasion, when lying in the cave of Adullam, he began to feel a longing for the cool waters of Bethlehem, and asked who would go down and fetch him a draught from the well by the gates of the town. Three of his mighty men, Joshebbasshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah, broke through the host of the Philistines and succeeded in bringing it; but he refused to drink the few drops they had brought, and poured them out as a libation to Jehovah, saying, |Shall I drink the blood of men that went in jeopardy of their lives?|* Duels between the bravest and stoutest champions of the two hosts were of frequent occurrence. It was in an encounter of this kind that Elhanan the Bethlehemite [or David] slew the giant Goliath at Gob. At length David succeeded in breaking his way through the enemies' lines in the valley of Kephaim, thus forcing open the road to the north. Here he probably fell in with the Israelitish contingent, and, thus reinforced, was at last in a position to give battle in the open: he was again successful, and, routing his foes, pursued them from Gibeon to Gezer.** None of his victories, however, was of a sufficiently decisive character to bring the struggle to an end: it dragged on year after year, and when at last it did terminate, there was no question on either side of submission or of tribute:*** the Hebrews completely regained their independence, but the Philistines do not seem to have lost any portion of their domain, and apparently retained possession of all that they had previously held.
* 2 Sam. xxiii.13-17; cf.1 Ghron. xi.15-19. Popular tradition furnishes many incidents of a similar type; cf. Alexander in the desert of Gedrosia, Godfrey de Bouillon in Asia Minor, etc.
** The Hebrew text gives |from Geba [or Gibeah] to Gezer| (2 Sam. v.25); the Septuagint, |from Gibeon to Gezer.| This latter reading [which is that of 1 Chron. xiv.16. -- Tr.] is more in accordance with the geographical facts, and I have therefore adopted it. Jahveh had shown by a continual rustling in the leaves of the mulberry trees that He was on David's side.
*** In 2 Sam. viii.1 we are told that David humiliated the Philistines, and took |the bridle of the mother city| out of their hands, or, in other words, destroyed the supremacy which they had exercised over Israel; he probably did no more than this, and failed to secure any part of their territory. The passage in 1 Chron. xviii.1, which
attributes to him the conquest of Gath and its dependencies, is probably an amplification of the somewhat obscure wording employed in 2 Sam. viii.1.
But though they suffered no loss of territory, their position was in reality much inferior to what it was before. Their control of the plain of Jezreel was lost to them for ever, and with it the revenue which they had levied from passing caravans: the Hebrews transferred to themselves this right of their former masters, and were so much the richer at their expense. To the five cities this was a more damaging blow than twenty reverses would have been to Benjamin or Judah. The military spirit had not died out among the Philistines, and they were still capable of any action which did not require sustained effort; but lack of resources prevented them from entering on a campaign of any length, and any chance they may at one time have had of exercising a dominant influence in the affairs of Southern Syria had passed away. Under the restraining hand of Egypt they returned to the rank of a second-rate power, just strong enough to inspire its neighbours with respect, but too weak to extend its territory by annexing that of others. Though they might still, at times, give David trouble by contesting at intervals the possession of some outlying citadel, or by making an occasional raid on one of the districts which lay close to the frontier, they were no longer a permanent menace to the continued existence of his kingdom.
But was Judah strong enough to take their place, and set up in Southern Syria a sovereign state, around which the whole fighting material of the country might range itself with confidence? The incidents of the last war had clearly shown the disadvantages of its isolated position in regard to the bulk of the nation. The gap between Ekron and the Jordan, which separated it from Ephraim and Manasseh, had, at all costs, to be filled up, if a repetition of the manouvre which so nearly cost David his throne at Adullam were to be avoided. It is true that the Gibeonites and their allies acknowledged the sovereignty of Ephraim, and formed a sort of connecting link between the tribes, but it was impossible to rely on their fidelity so long as they were exposed to the attacks of the Jebusites in their rear: as soon therefore as David found he had nothing more to fear from the Philistines, he turned his attention to Jerusalem.* This city stood on a dry and sterile limestone spur, separated on three sides from the surrounding hills by two valleys of unequal length. That of the Kedron, on the east, begins as a simple depression, but gradually becomes deeper and narrower as it extends towards the south. About a mile and a half from its commencement it is nothing more than a deep gorge, shut in by precipitous rocks, which for some days after the winter rains is turned into the bed of a torrent.**
* The name Jerusalem occurs under the form Ursalimmu, or Urusalim, in the Tel el-Amarna tablets. Sion was the name of the citadel preserved by the Israelites after the capture of the place, and applied by them to the part of the city which contained the royal palace, and subsequently to the town itself.
** The Kedron is called a nalial (2 Sam. xv.23; 1 Kings ii.37; Jer. xxxi.40), i.e. a torrent which runs dry during the summer; in winter it was termed a brook. Excavations show that the fall diminishes at the foot of the ancient walls, and that the bottom of the valley has risen nearly twelve yards.
During the remainder of the year a number of springs, which well up at the bottom of the valley, furnish an unfailing supply of water to the inhabitants of Gibon,* Siloam,** and Eogel.*** The valley widens out again near En-Kogel, and affords a channel to the Wady of the Children of Hinnom, which bounds the plateau on the west. The intermediate space has for a long time been nothing more than an undulating plain, at present covered by the houses of modern Jerusalem. In ancient times it was traversed by a depression in the ground, since filled up, which ran almost parallel with the Kedron, and joined it near the Pool of Siloam.**** The ancient city of the Jebusites stood on the summit of the headland which rises between these two valleys, the town of Jebus itself being at the extremity, while the Millo lay farther to the north on the hill of Sion, behind a ravine which ran down at right angles into the valley of the Hedron.
* Now, possibly, the |Fountain of the Virgin,| but its identity is not certain.
** These are the springs which feed the group of reservoirs now known as the Pool of Siloam. The name |Siloam| occurs only in Neh. iii.15, but is undoubtedly more ancient.
*** En-Rogel, the |Traveller's Well,| is now called the |Well of Job.|
**** This valley, which is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament, was called, in the time of Josephus, the Tyropoon, or Cheesemakers'Quarter. Its true position, which had been only suspected up to the middle of the present century, was determined with certainty by means of the excavations carried out by the English and Germans. The bottom of the valley was found at a depth of from forty to sixty feet below the present surface.
An unfortified suburb had gradually grown up on the lower ground to the west, and was connected by a stairway cut in the rock* with the upper city. This latter was surrounded by ramparts with turrets, like those of the Canaanitish citadels which we constantly find depicted on the Egyptian monuments. Its natural advantages and efficient garrison had so far enabled it to repel all the attacks of its enemies.
* This is the Ophel of the Hebrew text.
When David appeared with his troops, the inhabitants ridiculed his presumption, and were good enough to warn him of the hopelessness of his enterprise: a garrison composed of the halt and the blind, without an able-bodied man amongst them, would, they declared, be able successfully to resist him. The king, stung by their mockery, made a promise to his |mighty men| that the first of them to scale the walls should be made chief and captain of his host. We often find that impregnable cities owe their downfall to negligence on the part of their defenders: these concentrate their whole attention on the few vulnerable points, and give but scanty care to those which are regarded as inaccessible.* Jerusalem proved to be no exception to this rule; Joab carried it by a sudden assault, and received as his reward the best part of the territory which he had won by his valour.**
* Cf. the capture of Sardis by Cyrus (Herodotus) and by Antiochus III. (Polybius), as also the taking of the Capitol by the Gauls.
** The account of the capture of Jerusalem is given in 2 Sam. v.6-9, where the text is possibly corrupt, with interpolated glosses, especially in ver.8; David's reply to the mockery of the Jebusites is difficult to understand.1 Citron, xi.4-8 gives a more correct text, but one less complete in so far as the portions parallel with 2 Sam. v.6-9 are concerned; the details in regard to Joab are undoubtedly historical, but we do not find them in the Book of Samuel.
In attacking Jerusalem, David's first idea was probably to rid himself of one of the more troublesome obstacles which served to separate one-half of his people from the other; but once he had set foot in the place, he was not slow to perceive its advantages, and determined to make it his residence. Hebron had sufficed so long as his power extended over Caleb and Judah only. Situated as it was in the heart of the mountains, and in the wealthiest part of the province in which it stood, it seemed the natural centre to which the Kenites and men of Judah must gravitate, and the point at which they might most readily be moulded into a nation; it was, however, too far to the south to offer a convenient rallying-point for a ruler who wished to bring the Hebrew communities scattered about on both banks of the Jordan under the sway of a common sceptre. Jerusalem, on the other hand, was close to the crossing point of the roads which lead from the Sinaitic desert into Syria, and from the Shephelah to the land of Gilead; it commanded nearly the whole domain of Israel and the ring of hostile races by which it was encircled. From this lofty eyrie, David, with Judah behind him, could either swoop down upon Moab, whose mountains shut him out from a view of the Dead Sea, or make a sudden descent on the seaboard, by way of Bethhoron, at the least sign of disturbance among the Philistines, or could push straight on across Mount Ephraim into Galilee. Issachar, Naphtali, Asher, Dan, and Zebulun were, perhaps, a little too far from the seat of government; but they were secondary tribes, incapable of any independent action, who obeyed without repugnance, but also without enthusiasm, the soldier-king able to protect them from external foes. The future master of Israel would be he who maintained his hold on the posterity of Judah and of Joseph, and David could not hope to find a more suitable place than Jerusalem from which to watch over the two ruling houses at one and the same time.
The lower part of the town he gave up to the original inhabitants,* the upper he filled with Benjamites and men of Judah;** he built or restored a royal palace on Mount Sion, in which he lived surrounded by his warriors and his family.*** One thing only was lacking -- a temple for his God. Jerubbaal had had a sanctuary at Ophrah, and Saul had secured the services of Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh: David was no longer satisfied with the ephod which had been the channel of many wise counsels during his years of adversity and his struggles against the Philistines. He longed for some still more sacred object with which to identify the fortunes of his people, and by which he might raise the newly gained prestige of his capital. It so happened that the ark of the Lord, the ancient safeguard of Ephraim, had been lying since the battle of Eben-ezer not far away, without a fixed abode or regular worshippers.****
* Judges i.21; cf. Zech. xi.7, where Ekron in its decadence is likened to the Jebusite vassal of Judah.
** Jerusalem is sometimes assigned to Benjamin (Judges i.21), sometimes to Judah (Josh. xv.63). Judah alone is right.
*** 2 Sam. v.9, and the parallel passage in 1 Chron. xi.7, 8.
**** The account of the events which followed the battle of Eben-ezer up to its arrival in the house of Abinadab, is taken from the history of the ark, referred to on pp.306, 307, supra. It is given in 1 Sam. v., vi., vii.1, where it forms an exceedingly characteristic whole, composed, it may be, of two separate versions thrown into one; the passage in 1 Sam. vi.15, where the Levites receive the ark, is supposed by some to be interpolated.
The reason why it had not brought victory on that occasion, was that God's anger had been stirred at the misdeeds committed in His name by the sons of Eli, and desired to punish His people; true, it had been preserved from profanation, and the miracles which took place in its neighbourhood proved that it was still the seat of a supernatural power.
[Illustration: 340.jpg MOUSE OF METAL]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch published by Schick and Oldfield Thomas.
At first the Philistines had, according to their custom, shut it up in the temple of Dagon at Ashdod. On the morrow when the priests entered the sanctuary, they found the statue of their god prostrate in front of it, his fish-like body overthrown, and his head and hands scattered on the floor;* at the same time a plague of malignant tumours broke out among the people, and thousands of mice overran their houses. The inhabitants of Ashdod made haste to transfer it on to Ekron: it thus went the round of the five cities, its arrival being in each case accompanied by the same disasters. The soothsayers, being consulted at the end of seven months, ordered that solemn sacrifices should be offered up, and the ark restored to its rightful worshippers, accompanied by expiatory offerings of five golden mice and five golden tumours, one for each of the five repentant cities.**
* The statue here referred to is evidently similar to those of the Chaldaean gods and genii, in which Dagon is
represented as a man with his back and head enveloped in a fish as in a cloak.
** In the Oustinoff collection at Jaffa, there is a roughly shaped image of a mouse, cut out of a piece of white metal, and perhaps obtained from the ruins of Gaza; it would seem to be an ex-voto of the same kind as that referred to in the Hebrew text, but it is of doubtful authenticity.
The ark was placed on a new cart, and two milch cows with their calves drew it, lowing all the way, without guidance from any man, to the field of a certain Joshua at Bethshemesh. The inhabitants welcomed it with great joy, but their curiosity overcame their reverence, and they looked within the shrine. Jehovah, being angered thereat, smote seventy men of them, and the warriors made haste to bring the ark to Kirjath-jearim, where it remained for a long time, in the house of Abinadab on the hill, under charge of his son Eleazar.* Kirjath-jearim is only about two leagues from Jerusalem. David himself went thither, and setting |the ark of God upon a new cart,| brought it away.* Two attendants, called Uzzah and Ahio, drove the new cart, |and David and all Israel played before God with all their might: even with songs, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.| An accident leading to serious consequences brought the procession to a standstill; the oxen stumbled, and their sacred burden threatened to fall: Uzzah, putting forth his hand to hold the ark, was smitten by the Lord, |and there he died before the Lord.| David was disturbed at this, feeling some insecurity in dealing with a Deity who had thus seemed to punish one of His worshippers for a well-meant and respectful act.**
* The text of 1 Sam. vi.21, vii.1, gives the reading Kirjath-jearim, whereas the text of 2 Sam. vi.2 has Baale- Judah, which should be corrected to Baal-Judah. Baal-Judah, or, in its abbreviated form, Baala, is another name for Kirjath-jearim (Josh. xv.9-11; cf.1 Ghron. xiii.6). Similarly, we find the name Kirjath-Baal (Josh. xv.60). Kirjath-jearim is now Kharbet-el-Enab.
** The transport of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem is related in 2 Sam. vi. and in 1 Ghron. xiii., xv., xvi.
He |was afraid of the Lord that day,| and |would not remove the ark| to Jerusalem, but left it for three months in the house of a Philistine, Obed-Edom of Gath; but finding that its host, instead of experiencing any evil, was blessed by the Lord, he carried out his original intention, and brought the ark to Jerusalem. |David, girded with a linen ephod, danced with all his might before the Lord,| and |all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.| When the ark had been placed in the tent that David had prepared for it, he offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and at the end of the festival there were dealt out to the people gifts of bread, cakes, and wine (or flesh). There is inserted in the narrative* an account of the conduct of Michal his wife, who looking out of the window and seeing the king dancing and playing, despised him in her heart, and when David returned to his house, congratulated him ironically -- |How glorious was the King of Israel to-day, who uncovered himself in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants!|
* Renan would consider this to have been inserted in the time of Hezekiah. It appeared to him to answer |to the antipathy of Hamutal and the ladies of the court to the worship of Jahveh, and to that form of human respect which restrained the people of the world from giving themselves up to it.|
David said in reply that he would rather be held in honour by the handmaids of whom she had spoken than avoid the acts which covered him with ridicule in her eyes; and the chronicler adds that |Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.|*
* [David's reply shows (2 Sam. vi.21, 22) that it was in gratitude to Jehovah who had exalted him that he thus humbled himself. -- Tr.]
The tent and the ark were assigned at this time to the care of two priests -- Zadok, son of Ahitub, and Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, who was a descendant of Eli, and had never quitted David throughout his adventurous career.* It is probable, too, that the ephod had not disappeared, and that it had its place in the sanctuary; but it may have gradually fallen into neglect, and may have ceased to be the vehicle of oracular responses as in earlier years. The king was accustomed on important occasions to take part in the sacred ceremonies, after the example of contemporary monarchs, and he had beside him at this time a priest of standing to guide him in the religious rites, and to fulfil for him duties similar to those which the chief reader rendered to Pharaoh. The only one of these priests of David whose name has come down to us was Ira the Jethrite, who accompanied his master in his campaigns, and would seem to have been a soldier also, and one of |the thirty.| These priestly officials seem, however, to have played but a subordinate part, as history is almost silent about their acts.** While David owed everything to the sword and trusted in it, he recognised at the same time that he had obtained his crown from Jahveh; just as the sovereigns of Thebes and Nineveh saw in Amon and Assur the source of their own royal authority.
* 2 Sam. viii.17, xx.25; cf.1 Sam. xxi.1, xxii.20; 1 Chron. xv.11.
** 2 Sam. xx.26, where he is called the Jairite, and not the Ithrite, owing to an easily understood confusion of the Hebrew letters. He figures in the list of the Gibborim, |mighty men,| 2 Sam. xxiii.38.
He consulted the Lord directly when he wished for counsel, and accepted the issue as a test whether his interpretation of the Divine will was correct or erroneous. When once he had realised, at the time of the capture of Jerusalem, that God had chosen him to be the champion of Israel, he spared no labour to accomplish the task which the Divine favour had assigned to him. He attacked one after the other the peoples who had encroached upon his domain, Moab being the first to feel the force of his arm. He extended his possessions at the expense of Gilead, and the fertile provinces opposite Jericho fell to his sword. These territories were in dangerous proximity to Jerusalem, and David doubtless realised the peril of their independence. The struggle for their possession must have continued for some time, but the details are not given, and we have only the record of a few incidental exploits: we know, for instance, that the captain of David's guard, Benaiah, slew two Moabite notables in a battle.* Moabite captives were treated with all the severity sanctioned by the laws of war. They were laid on the ground in a line, and two-thirds of the length of the row being measured off, all within it were pitilessly massacred, the rest having their lives spared. Moab acknowledged its defeat, and agreed to pay tribute: it had suffered so much that it required several generations to recover.**
* 2 Sam. xxiii.20-23: cf.1 Chron. xi.22-25. |Ariel,| who is made the father of the two slain by Benaiah, may possibly be the term in 11.12, 17, 18 of the Inscription of Mesha (Moabite Stone); but its meaning is obscure, and has hitherto baffled all attempts to explain it.
** 2 Sam. viii.2.
Gilead had become detached from David's domain on the south, while the Ammonites were pressing it on the east, and the Ararnaeans making encroachments upon its pasture-lands on the north. Nahash, King of the Ammonites, being dead, David, who had received help from him in his struggle with Saul, sent messengers to offer congratulations to his son Hanun on his accession. Hanun, supposing the messengers to be spies sent to examine the defences of the city, |shaved off one-half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away.| This was the signal for war. The Ammonites, foreseeing that David would endeavour to take a terrible vengeance for this insult to his people, came to an understanding with their neighbours. The overthrow of the Amorite chiefs had favoured the expansion of the Aramaeans towards the south. They had invaded all that region hitherto unconquered by Israel in the valley of the Litany to the east of Jordan, and some half-dozen of their petty states had appropriated among them the greater part of the territories which were described in the sacred record as having belonged previously to Jabin of Hazor and the kings of Bashan. The strongest of these principalities -- that which occupied the position of Qodshu in the Bekaa, and had Zoba as its capital -- was at this time under the rule of Hadadezer, son of Behob. This warrior had conquered Damascus, Maacah, and Geshur, was threatening the Canaanite town of Hamath, and was preparing to set out to the Euphrates when the Ammonites sought his help and protection. He came immediately to their succour. Joab, who was in command of David's army, left a portion of his troops at Babbath under his brother Abishai, and with the rest set out against the Syrians. He overthrew them, and returned immediately afterwards. The Ammonites, hearing of his victory, disbanded their army; but Joab had suffered such serious losses, that he judged it wise to defer his attack upon them until Zoba should be captured. David then took the field himself, crossed the Jordan with all his reserves, attacked the Syrians at Helam, put them to flight, killing Shobach, their general, and captured Damascus. Hadadezer [Hadarezer] |made peace with Israel,| and Tou or Toi, the King of Hamath, whom this victory had delivered, sent presents to David. This was the work of a single campaign. The next year Joab invested Kabbath, and when it was about to surrender he called the king to his camp, and conceded to him the honour of receiving the submission of the city in person. The Ammonites were treated with as much severity as their kinsmen of Moab. David |put them under saws and harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln.|*
* The war with the Aramaeans, described in 2 Sam. viii.3- 12, is similar to the account of the conflict with the Ammonites in 2 Sam. x.-xii., but with more details. Both documents are reproduced in 1 Chron. xviii.3-11, and xix., xx.1-3.
[Illustration: 353.jpg THE HEBREW KINGDOM]
This success brought others in its train. The Idumaeans had taken advantage of the employment of the Israelite army against the Aramaeans to make raids into Judah. Joab and Abishai, despatched in haste to check them, met them in the Valley of Salt to the south of the Dead Sea, and gave them battle: their king perished in the fight, and his son Hadad with some of his followers took flight into Egypt. Joab put to the sword all the able-bodied combatants, and established garrisons at Petra, Elath, and Eziongeber* on the Red Sea. David dedicated the spoils to the Lord, |who gave victory to David wherever he went.|
Neither Elath nor Eziongeber are here mentioned, but 1 Kings ix.25-28 and 2 Chron. viii.17, 18 prove that these places had been occupied by David. For all that concerns Hadad, see 1 Kings xi.15-20.
Southern Syria had found its master: were the Hebrews going to pursue their success, and undertake in the central and northern regions a work of conquest which had baffled the efforts of all their predecessors -- Canaanites, Amorites, and Hittites? The Assyrians, thrown back on the Tigris, were at this time leading a sort of vegetative existence in obscurity; and, as for Egypt, it would seem to have forgotten that it ever had possessions in Asia. There was, therefore, nothing to be feared from foreign intervention should the Hebrew be inclined to weld into a single state the nations lying between the Euphrates and the Red Sea.
[Illustration: 354.jpg THE SITE OF RABBATH-AMON, SEEN FROM THE WEST]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.377 of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
Unfortunately, the Israelites had not the necessary characteristics of a conquering people. Their history from the time of their entry into Canaan showed, it is true, that they were by no means incapable of enthusiasm and solidarity: a leader with the needful energy and good fortune to inspire them with confidence could rouse them from their self-satisfied indolence, and band them together for a great effort. But such concentration of purpose was ephemeral in its nature, and disappeared with the chief who had brought it about. In his absence, or when the danger he had pointed out was no longer imminent, they fell back instinctively into their usual state of apathy and disorganisation. Their nomadic temperament, which two centuries of a sedentary existence had not seriously modified, disposed them to give way to tribal quarrels, to keep up hereditary vendettas, to break out into sudden tumults, or to make pillaging expeditions into their neighbours' territories. Long wars, requiring the maintenance of a permanent army, the continual levying of troops and taxes, and a prolonged effort to keep what they had acquired, were repugnant to them. The kingdom which David had founded owed its permanence to the strong will of its originator, and its increase or even its maintenance depended upon the absence of any internal disturbance or court intrigue, to counteract which might make too serious a drain upon his energy. David had survived his last victory sufficiently long to witness around him the evolution of plots, and the multiplication of the usual miseries which sadden, in the East, the last years of a long reign. It was a matter of custom as well as policy that an exaltation in the position of a ruler should be accompanied by a proportional increase in the number of his retinue and his wives. David was no exception to this custom: to the two wives, Abigail and Ahinoam, which he had while he was in exile at Ziklag, he now added Maacah the Aramaean, daughter of the King of Geshur, Haggith, Abital, Bglah, and several others.* During the siege of Babbath-Ammon he also committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and, placing her husband in the forefront of the battle, brought about his death. Rebuked by the prophet Nathan for this crime, he expressed his penitence, but he continued at the same time to keep Bathsheba, by whom he had several children.** There was considerable rivalry among the progeny of these different unions, as the right of succession would appear not to have been definitely settled. Of the family of Saul, moreover, there were still several members in existence -- the son which he had by Eizpah, the children of his daughter Merab, Merib-baal, the lame offspring of Jonathan,*** and Shimei**** -- all of whom had partisans among the tribes, and whose pretensions might be pressed unexpectedly at a critical moment.
* Ahinoam is mentioned in the following passages: 1 Sam. xxv.43, xxvii.3, xxx.5; 2 Sam. ii.2, iii.2; cf. also 1 Chron. iii.1; Maacah in 2 Sam. iii.3; 1 Chron. iii.2; Haggith in 2 Sam. iii.4; 1 Kings i.5, 11, ii.13; 1 Chron. iii.2; Abital in 2 Sam. iii.4; 1 Chron. iii.3; Eglah in 2 Sam. iii.5; 1 Chron. iii.3. For the concubines, see 2 Sam. v.13, xv.15, xvi.21, 22; 1 Chron. iii.9, xiv.3.
** 2 Sam. xi., xii.7-25.
*** 2 Sam. ix., xvi.1-4, xix.25-30, where the name is changed into Mephibosheth; the original name is given in 1 Chron. viii.34.
**** Sam. xvi.5-14, xix.16-23; 1 Kings ii.8, 9, 36-46.
The eldest son of Ahinoam, Amnon, whose priority in age seemed likely to secure for him the crown, had fallen in love with one of his half-sisters named Tamar, the daughter of Maacah, and, instead of demanding her in marriage, procured her attendance on him by a feigned illness, and forced her to accede to his desires. His love was thereupon converted immediately into hate, and, instead of marrying her, he had her expelled from his house by his servants. With rent garments and ashes on her head, she fled to her full-brother Absalom. David was very wroth, but he loved his firstborn, and could not permit himself to punish him. Absalom kept his anger to himself, but when two years had elapsed he invited Amnon to a banquet, killed him, and fled to his grandfather Talmai, King of Geshur.*
* It is to be noted that Tamar asked Amnon to marry her, and that the sole reproach directed against the king's eldest son was that, after forcing her, he was unwilling to make her his wife. Unions of brother and sister were probably as legitimate among the Hebrews at this time as among the Egyptians.
His anger was now turned against the king for not having taken up the cause of his sister, and he began to meditate his dethronement. Having been recalled to Jerusalem at the instigation of Joab, |Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him,| thus affecting the outward forms of royalty. Judah, dissatisfied at the favour shown by David to the other tribes, soon came to recognise Absalom as their chief, and some of the most intimate counsellors of the aged king began secretly to take his part. When Absalom deemed things safe for action, he betook himself to Hebron, under the pretence of a vow which he had made daring his sojourn at Geshur. All Judah rallied around him, and the excitement at Jerusalem was so great that David judged it prudent to retire, with his Philistine and Cherethite guards, to the other side of the Jordan. Absalom, in the mean while, took up his abode in Jerusalem, where, having received the tacit adherence of the family of Saul and of a number of the notables, he made himself king. To show that the rupture between him and David was complete, he had tents erected on the top of the house, and there, in view of the people, took possession of his father's harem. Success would have been assured to him if he had promptly sent troops after the fugitives, but while he was spending his time in inactivity and feasting, David collected together those who were faithful to him, and put them under the command of Joab and Abishai. The king's veterans were more than a match for the undisciplined rabble which opposed them, and in the action which followed at Mahanaim Absalom was defeated: in his flight through the forest of Ephraim he was caught in a tree, and before he could disentangle himself was pierced through the heart by Joab.
David, we read, wished his people to have mercy on his son, and he wept bitterly. He spared on this occasion the family of Saul, pardoned the tribe of Judah, and went back triumphantly into Jerusalem, which a few days before had taken part in his humiliation. The tribes of the house of Joseph had taken no side in the quarrel. They were ignorant alike of the motives which set the tribe of Judah against their own hero, and of their reasons for the zeal with which they again established him on the throne. They sent delegates to inquire about this, who reproached Judah for acting without their cognisance: |We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king?| Judah answered with yet fiercer words; then Sheba, a chief of the Benjamites, losing patience, blew a trumpet, and went off crying: |We have no portion in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.| If these words had produced an echo among the central and northern tribes, a schism would have been inevitable: some approved of them, while others took no action, and since Judah showed no disposition to put its military forces into movement, the king had once again to trust to Joab and the Philistine guards to repress the sedition. Their appearance on the scene disconcerted the rebels, and Sheba retreated to the northern frontier without offering battle. Perhaps he reckoned on the support of the Aramaeans. He took shelter in the small stronghold of Abel of Bethmaacah, where he defended himself for some time; but just when the place was on the point of yielding, the inhabitants cut off Sheba's head, and threw it to Joab from the wall. His death brought the crisis to an end, and peace reigned in Israel. Intrigues, however, began again more persistently than ever over the inheritance which the two slain princes had failed to obtain. The eldest son of the king was now Adonijah, son of Haggith, but Bathsheba exercised an undisputed sway over her husband, and had prepared him to recognise in Solomon her son the heir to the throne. She had secured, too, as his adherents several persons of influence, including Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah, the captain of the foreign guard.
Adonijah had on his side Abiathar the priest, Joab, and the people of Jerusalem, who had been captivated by his beauty and his regal display. In the midst of these rivalries the king was daily becoming weaker: he was now very old, and although he was covered with wrappings he could not maintain his animal heat. A young girl was sought out for him to give him the needful warmth. Abishag, a Shunammite, was secured for the purpose, but her beauty inspired Adonijah with such a violent passion that he decided to bring matters to a crisis. He invited his brethren, with the exception of Solomon, to a banquet in the gardens which belonged to him in the south of Jerusalem, near the well of Eogel. All his partisans were present, and, inspired by the good cheer, began to cry, |God save King Adonijah!| When Nathan informed Bathsheba of what was going on, she went in unto the king, who was being attended on by Abishag, complained to him of the weakness he was showing in regard to his eldest son, and besought him to designate his heir officially. He collected together the soldiers, and charged them to take the young man Solomon with royal pomp from the hill of Sion to the source of the Gibon: Nathan anointed his forehead with the sacred oil, and in the sight of all the people brought him to the palace, mounted on his father's mule. The blare of the coronation trumpets resounded in the ears of the conspirators, quickly followed by the tidings that Solomon had been hailed king over the whole of Israel: they fled on all sides, Adonijah taking refuge at the horns of the altar. David did not long survive this event: shortly before his death he advised Solomon to rid himself of all those who had opposed his accession to the throne. Solomon did not hesitate to follow this counsel, and the beginning of his reign was marked by a series of bloodthirsty executions. Adonijah was the first to suffer. He had been unwise enough to ask the hand of Abishag in marriage: this request was regarded as indicative of a hidden intention to rebel, and furnished an excuse for his assassination. Abiathar, at whose instigation Adonijah had acted, owed his escape from a similar fate to his priestly character and past services: he was banished to his estate at Anathoth, and Zadok became high priest in his stead. Joab, on learning the fate of his accomplice, felt that he was a lost man, and vainly sought sanctuary near the ark of the Lord; but Benaiah slew him there, and soon after, Shimei, the last survivor of the race of Saul, was put to death on some transparent pretext. This was the last act of the tragedy: henceforward Solomon, freed from all those who bore him malice, was able to devote his whole attention to the cares of government.*
* 1 Kings i., ii. This is the close of the history of David, and follows on from 2 Sam. xxiv. It would seem that Adonijah was heir-apparent (1 Kings i.5, 6), and that Solomon's accession was brought about by an intrigue, which owed its success to the old king's weakness (1 Kings i.12, 13, 17, 18, 30, 31).
The change of rulers had led, as usual, to insurrections among the tributary races: Damascus had revolted before the death of David, and had not been recovered. Hadad returned from Egypt, and having gained adherents in certain parts of Edom, resisted all attempts made to dislodge him.*
* It seems clear from the context that the revolt of Damascus took place during David's lifetime. It cannot, in any case, have occurred at a later date than the beginning of the reign of Solomon, for we are told that Rezon, after capturing the town, |was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon| (1 Kings xi.23-25). Hadad returned from Egypt when |he had heard that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead| (1 Kings xi.21, 22, 25).
As a soldier, Solomon was neither skilful nor fortunate: he even failed to retain what his father had won for him. Though he continued to increase his army, it was more with a view to consolidating his power over the Bne-Israel than for any aggressive action outside his borders. On the other hand, he showed himself an excellent administrator, and did his best, by various measures of general utility, to draw closer the ties which bound the tribes to him and to each other. He repaired the citadels with such means as he had at his disposal. He rebuilt the fortifications of Megiddo, thus securing the control of the network of roads which traversed Southern Syria. He remodelled the fortifications of Tamar, the two Bethhorons, Baalath, Hazor, and of many other towns which defended his frontiers. Some of them he garrisoned with foot-soldiers, others with horsemen and chariots. By thus distributing his military forces over the whole country, he achieved a twofold object;* he provided, on the one hand, additional security from foreign invasion, and on the other diminished the risk of internal revolt.
* 1 Kings ix.15, 17-19; cf.2 Chron. viii.4-6. The parallel passage in 2 Chron. viii.4, and the marginal variant in the Book of Kings, give the reading Tadmor Palmyra for Tamar, thus giving rise to the legends which state that Solomon's frontier extended to the Euphrates. The Tamar here referred to is that mentioned in Ezeh. xlvii.19, xlviii.28, as the southern boundary of Judah; it is perhaps identical with the modern Kharbet-Kurnub.
The remnants of the old aboriginal clans, which had hitherto managed to preserve their independence, mainly owing to the dissensions among the Israelites, were at last absorbed into the tribes in whose territory they had settled. A few still held out, and only gave way after long and stubborn resistance: before he could triumph over Gezer, Solomon was forced to humble himself before the Egyptian Pharaoh. He paid homage to him, asked the hand of his daughter in marriage, and having obtained it, persuaded him to come to his assistance: the Egyptian engineers placed their skill at the service of the besiegers and soon brought the recalcitrant city to reason, handing it over to Solomon in payment for his submission.* The Canaanites were obliged to submit to the poll-tax and the corvee: the men of the league of Gibeon were made hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of the Lord.** The Hebrews themselves bore their share in the expenses of the State, and though less heavily taxed than the Canaanites, were, nevertheless, compelled to contribute considerable sums; Judah alone was exempt, probably because, being the private domain of the sovereign, its revenues were already included in the royal exchequer.***
* 1 Kings ix.16. The Pharaoh in question was probably one of the Psiukhannit, the Psusennos II. of Manetho.
** 1 Kings ix.20, 21. The annexation of the Gibeonites and their allies is placed at the time of the conquest in Josh. ix.3-27; it should be rather fixed at the date of the loss of independence of the league, probably in the time of Solomon.
*** Stade thinks that Judah was not exempt, and that the original document must have given thirteen districts.
In order to facilitate the collection of the taxes, Solomon divided the kingdom into twelve districts, each of which was placed in charge of a collector; these regions did not coincide with the existing tribal boundaries, but the extent of each was determined by the wealth of the lands contained within it. While one district included the whole of Mount Ephraim, another was limited to the stronghold of Mahanaim and its suburbs. Mahanaim was at one time the capital of Israel, and had played an important part in the life of David: it held the key to the regions beyond Jordan, and its ruler was a person of such influence that it was not considered prudent to leave him too well provided with funds. By thus obliterating the old tribal boundaries, Solomon doubtless hoped to destroy, or at any rate greatly weaken, that clannish spirit which showed itself with such alarming violence at the time of the revolt of Sheba, and to weld into a single homogeneous mass the various Hebrew and Canaanitish elements of which the people of Israel were composed.*
* 1 Kings iv.7-19, where a list of the districts is given; the fact that two of Solomon's sons-in-law appear in it, show that the document from which it is taken gave the staff of collectors in office at the close of his reign.
Each of these provinces was obliged, during one month in each year, to provide for the wants of |the king and his household,| or, in other words, the requirements of the central government. A large part of these contributions went to supply the king's table; the daily consumption at the court was -- thirty measures of fine flour, sixty measures of meal, ten fat oxen, twenty oxen out of the pastures, a hundred sheep, besides all kinds of game and fatted fowl: nor need we be surprised at these figures, for in a country where, and at a time when money was unknown, the king was obliged to supply food to all his dependents, the greater part of their emoluments consisting of these payments in kind. The tax-collectors had also to provide fodder for the horses reserved for military purposes: there were forty thousand of these, and twelve thousand charioteers, and barley and straw had to be forthcoming either in Jerusalem itself or in one or other of the garrison towns amongst which they were distributed.* The levying of tolls on caravans passing through the country completed the king's fiscal operations which were based on the systems prevailing in neighbouring States, especially that of Egypt.**
* 1 Kings iv.26-28; the complementary passages in 1 Kings x.26 and 2 Chron. i.14 give the number of chariots as 1400 and of charioteers at 12,000. The numbers do not seem excessive for a kingdom which embraced the whole south of Palestine, when we reflect that, at the battle of Qodshu, Northern Syria was able to put between 2500 and 3000 chariots into the field against Ramses II. The Hebrew chariots probably carried at least three men, like those of the Hittites and Assyrians.
** 1 Kings x.15, where mention is made of the amount which the chapmen brought, and the traffic of the merchants contains an allusion to these tolls.
Solomon, like other Oriental sovereigns, reserved to himself the monopoly of certain imported articles, such as yarn, chariots, and horses. Egyptian yarn, perhaps the finest produced in ancient times, was in great request among the dyers and embroiderers of Asia. Chariots, at once strong and light, were important articles of commerce at a time when their use in warfare was universal. As for horses, the cities of the Delta and Middle Egypt possessed a celebrated strain of stallions, from which the Syrian princes were accustomed to obtain their war-steeds.* Solomon decreed that for the future he was to be the sole intermediary between the Asiatics and the foreign countries supplying their requirements. His agents went down at regular intervals to the banks of the Nile to lay in stock; the horses and chariots, by the time they reached Jerusalem, cost him at the rate of six hundred silver shekels for each chariot, and one hundred and fifty shekels for each horse, but he sold them again at a profit to the Aramaean and Hittite princes. In return he purchased from them Cilician stallions, probably to sell again to the Egyptians, whose relaxing climate necessitated a frequent introduction of new blood into their stables.** By these and other methods of which we know nothing the yearly revenue of the kingdom was largely increased: and though it only reached a total which may seem insignificant in comparison with the enormous quantities of the precious metals which passed through the hands of the Pharaohs of that time, yet it must have seemed boundless wealth in the eyes of the shepherds and husbandmen who formed the bulk of the Hebrew nation.
* The terms in which the text, 1 Kings x.27-29 (cf.2 Citron, i.16, 17), speaks of the trade in horses, show that the traffic was already in existence when Solomon decided to embark in it.
** 1 Kings x.27-29; 2 Chron. i.16, 17. Kue, the name of Lower Cilicia, was discovered in the Hebrew text by Pr. Lenormant. Winckler, with mistaken reliance on the authority of Erman, has denied that Egypt produced stud-horses at this time, and wishes to identify the Mizraim of the Hebrew text with Musri, a place near Mount Taurus, mentioned in the Assyrian texts.
In thus developing his resources and turning them to good account, Solomon derived great assistance from the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon, a race whose services were always at the disposal of the masters of Southern Syria. The continued success of the Hellenic colonists on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean had compelled the Phoenicians to seek with redoubled boldness and activity in the Western Mediterranean some sort of compensation for the injury which their trade had thus suffered. They increased and consolidated their dealings with Sicily, Africa, and Spain, and established themselves throughout the whole of that misty region which extended beyond the straits of Gibraltar on the European side, from the mouth of the Guadalete to that of the Guadiana. This was the famous Tarshish -- the Oriental El Dorado. Here they had founded a number of new towns, the most flourishing of which, Gadir,* rose not far from the mouths of the Betis, on a small islet separated from the mainland by a narrow arm of the sea. In this city they constructed a temple to Melkarth, arsenals, warehouses, and shipbuilding yards: it was the Tyre of the west, and its merchant-vessels sailed to the south and to the north to trade with the savage races of the African and European seaboard. On the coast of Morocco they built Lixos, a town almost as large as Gadir, and beyond Lixos, thirty days' sail southwards, a whole host of depots, reckoned later on at three hundred.
* I do not propose to discuss here the question of the identity of the country of Tartessos with the Tarshish or Tarsis mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings x.22).
By exploiting the materials to be obtained from these lands, such as gold, silver, tin, lead, and copper, Tyre and Sidon were soon able to make good the losses they had suffered from Greek privateersmen and marauding Philistines. Towards the close of the reign of Saul over Israel, a certain king Abibaal had arisen in Tyre, and was succeeded by his son Hiram, at the very moment when David was engaged in bringing the whole of Israel into subjection. Hiram, guided by instinct or by tradition, at once adopted a policy towards the rising dynasty which his ancestors had always found successful in similar cases. He made friendly overtures to the Hebrews, and constituted himself their broker and general provider: when David was in want of wood for the house he was building at Jerusalem, Hiram let him have the necessary quantity, and hired out to him workmen and artists at a reasonable wage, to help him in turning his materials to good account.*
* 2 Sam. v.11; cf. the reference to the same incident in 1 Kings v 1-3.
The accession of Solomon was a piece of good luck for him. The new king, born in the purple, did not share the simple and somewhat rustic tastes of his father. He wanted palaces and gardens and a temple, which might rival, even if only in a small way, the palaces and temples of Egypt and Chaldaea, of which he had heard such glowing accounts: Hiram undertook to procure these things for him at a moderate cost, and it was doubtless his influence which led to those voyages to the countries which produced precious metals, perfumes, rare animals, costly woods, and all those foreign knicknacks with which Eastern monarchs of all ages loved to surround themselves. The Phoenician sailors were well acquainted with the bearings of Puanit, most of them having heard of this country when in Egypt, a few perhaps having gone thither under the direction and by the orders of Pharaoh: and Hiram took advantage of the access which the Hebrews had gained to the shores of the Red Sea by the annexation of Edom, to establish relations with these outlying districts without having to pass the Egyptian customs. He lent to Solomon shipwrights and sailors, who helped him to fit out a fleet at Ezion-geber, and undertook a voyage of discovery in company with a number of Hebrews, who were no doubt despatched in the same capacity as the royal messengers sent with the galleys of Hatshopsitu. It was a venture similar to those so frequently undertaken by the Egyptian admirals in the palmy days of the Theban navy, and of which we find so many curious pictures among the bas-reliefs at Deir el-Bahari. On their return, after a three years' absence, they reported that they had sailed to a country named Ophir, and produced in support of their statement a freight well calculated to convince the most sceptical, consisting as it did of four hundred and twenty talents of gold. The success of this first venture encouraged Solomon to persevere in such expeditions: he sent his fleet on several voyages to Ophir, and procured from thence a rich harvest of gold and silver, wood and ivory, apes and peacocks.*
* 1 Kings ix.26-28, x.11, 12; cf.2 Citron, viii.17, 18, ix.10, 11, 21. A whole library might be stocked with the various treatises which have appeared on the situation of the country of Ophir: Arabia, Persia, India, Java, and America have all been suggested. The mention of almug wood and of peacocks, which may be of Indian origin, for a long time inclined the scale in favour of India, but the discoveries of Mauch and Bent on the Zimbabaye have drawn attention to the basin of the Zambesi and the ruins found there. Dr. Peters, one of the best-known German explorers, is inclined to agree with Mauch and Bent, in their theory as to the position of the Ophir of the Bible. I am rather inclined to identify it with the Egyptian Puanit, on the Somali or Yemen seaboard.
Was the profit from these distant cruises so very considerable after all? After they had ceased, memory may have thrown a fanciful glamour over them, and magnified the treasures they had yielded to fabulous proportions: we are told that Solomon would have no drinking vessels or other utensils save those of pure gold, and that in his days |silver was as stone,| so common had it become.*
* 1 Kings x.21, 27. In Chronicles the statement in the Book of Kings is repeated in a still more emphatic manner, since it is there stated that gold itself was |in Jerusalem as stones| (2 Chron. i.15).
[Illustration: 370.jpg MAP OF TYRE SUBSEQUENT TO HIRAM]
Doubtless Hiram took good care to obtain his fall share of the gains. The Phoenician king began to find Tyre too restricted for him, the various islets over which it was scattered affording too small a space to support the multitudes which flocked thither. He therefore filled up the channels which separated them; by means of embankments and fortified quays he managed to reclaim from the sea a certain amount of land on the south; after which he constructed two harbours -- one on the north, called the Sidonian; the other on the south, named the Egyptian. He was perhaps also the originator of the long causeway, the lower courses of which still serve as a breakwater, by which he transformed the projecting headland between the island and the mainland into a well-sheltered harbour. Finally, he set to work on a task like that which he had already helped Solomon to accomplish: he built for himself a palace of cedar-wood, and restored and beautified the temples of the gods, including the ancient sanctuary of Melkarth, and that of Astarte. In his reign the greatness of Phoenicia reached its zenith, just as that of the Hebrews culminated under David.
[Illustration: 371.jpg THE BREAKWATER OF THE EGYPTIAN HARBOUR AT TYRE]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph published by the Duc de Luynes.
The most celebrated of Solomon's works were to be seen at Jerusalem. As David left it, the city was somewhat insignificant. The water from its fountains had been amply sufficient for the wants of the little Jebusite town; it was wholly inadequate to meet the requirements of the growing-population of the capital of Judah. Solomon made better provision for its distribution than there had been in the past, and then tapped a new source of supply some distance away, in the direction of Bethlehem; it is even said that he made the reservoirs for its storage which still bear his name.*
* A somewhat ancient tradition attributes these works to Solomon; no single fact confirms it, but the balance of probability seems to indicate that he must have taken steps to provide a water-supply for the new city. The channels and reservoirs, of which traces are found at the present day, probably occupy the same positions as those which preceded them.
[Illustration: 372.jpg one of Solomon's reservoirs near Jerusalem]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. C. Alluaud of Limoges.
Meanwhile, Hiram had drawn up for him plans for a fortified residence, on a scale commensurate with the thriving fortunes of his dynasty. The main body was constructed of stone from the Judaean quarries, cut by masons from Byblos, but it was inlaid with cedar to such an extent that one wing was called |the house of the forest-of-Lebanon.| It contained everything that was required for the comfort of an Eastern potentate -- a harem, with separate apartments for the favourites (one of which was probably decorated in the Egyptian manner for the benefit of Pharaoh's daughter);* then there were reception-halls, to which the great men of the kingdom were admitted; storehouses, and an arsenal. The king's bodyguard possessed five hundred shields |of beaten gold,| which were handed over by each detachment, when the guard was relieved, to the one which took its place. But this gorgeous edifice would not have been complete if the temple of Jahveh had not arisen side by side with the abode of the temporal ruler of the nation. No monarch in those days could regard his position as unassailable until he had a sanctuary and a priesthood attached to his religion, either in his own palace or not far away from it. David had scarcely entered Jerusalem before he fixed upon the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite as a site for the temple, and built an altar there to the Lord during a plague which threatened to decimate his people; but as he did not carry the project any farther,** Solomon set himself to complete the task which his father had merely sketched out.
* 1 Kings vii.8, ix.24; 2 Ghron. viii.11.
** 2 Sam xxiv.18-25, The threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite is mentioned elsewhere as the site on which Solomon built his temple (2 Ghron. iii.1).
The site was irregular in shape, and the surface did not naturally lend itself to the purpose for which it was destined. His engineers, however, put this right by constructing enormous piers for the foundations, which they built up from the slopes of the mountain or from the bottom of the valley as circumstances required: the space between this artificial casing and the solid rock was filled up, and the whole mass formed a nearly square platform, from which the temple buildings were to rise. Hiram undertook to supply materials for the work. Solomon had written to him that he should command |that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants; and I will give thee hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt say: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Zidonians.| Hiram was delighted to carry out the wishes of his royal friend with regard to the cedar and cypress woods.
[Illustration: 374.jpg SOME OF THE STONE COURSE OF SOLOMON'S TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph.
|My servants,| he answered, |shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will make them into rafts to go by sea unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be broken up there, and thou shalt receive them; and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.| The payment agreed on, which was in kind, consisted of twenty thousand kor of wheat, and twenty kor of pure oil per annum, for which Hiram was to send to Jerusalem not only the timber, but architects, masons, and Gebalite carpenters (i.e. from Byblos), smelters, sculptors, and overseers.* Solomon undertook to supply the necessary labour, and for this purpose made a levy of men from all the tribes. The number of these labourers was reckoned at thirty thousand, and they were relieved regularly every three months; seventy thousand were occupied in the transport of the materials, while eighty thousand cut the stones from the quarry.**
* 1 Kings v.7 -- 11 * cf.2 Chron. ii.3 -- 16, where the writer adds 20,000 kor of barley, 20,000 |baths| of wine, and the same quantity of oil.
** 1 Kings v.13-18; of.2 Chron. ii.1, 2, 17, 18.
It is possible that the numbers may have been somewhat exaggerated in popular estimation, since the greatest Egyptian monuments never required such formidable levies of workmen for their construction; we must remember, however, that such an undertaking demanded a considerable effort, as the Hebrews were quite unaccustomed to that kind of labour. The front of the temple faced eastward; it was twenty cubits wide, sixty long, and thirty high. The walls were of enormous squared stones, and the ceilings and frames of the doors of carved cedar, plated with gold; it was entered by a porch, between two columns of wrought bronze, which were called Jachin and Boaz.*
* 1 Kings vii.15-22; cf.2 Chron. iv.11-13. The names were probably engraved each upon its respective column, and taken together formed an inscription which could be interpreted in various ways. The most simple interpretation is to recognise in them a kind of talismanic formula to ensure the strength of the building, affirming |that it exists by the strength| of God.
The interior contained only two chambers; the hekal, or holy place, where were kept the altar of incense, the seven-branched candlestick, and the table of shewbread; and the Holy of Holies -- debir -- where the ark of God rested beneath the wings of two cherubim of gilded wood. Against the outer wall of the temple, and rising to half its height, were rows of small apartments, three stories high, in which were kept the treasures and vessels of the sanctuary. While the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies only once a year, the holy place was accessible at all times to the priests engaged in the services, and it was there that the daily ceremonies of the temple-worship took place; there stood also the altar of incense and the table of shewbread. The altar of sacrifice stood on the platform in front of the entrance; it was a cube of masonry with a parapet, and was approached by stone steps; it resembled, probably, in general outline the monumental altars which stood in the forecourts of the Egyptian temples and palaces. There stood by it, as was also customary in Chaldaea, a |molten sea,| and some ten smaller lavers, in which the Levites washed the portions of the victims to be offered, together with the basins, knives, flesh-hooks, spoons, shovels, and other utensils required for the bloody sacrifice. A low wall surmounted by a balustrade of cedar-wood separated this sacred enclosure from a court to which the people were permitted to have free access. Both palace and temple were probably designed in that pseudo-Egyptian style which the Phoenicians were known to affect. The few Hebrew edifices of which remains have come down to us, reveal a method of construction and decoration common in Egypt; we have an example of this in the uprights of the doors at Lachish, which terminate in an Egyptian gorge like that employed in the naos of the Phonician temples.
[Illustration: 377.jpg AN UPRIGHT OF A DOOR AT LACHISH]
Drawn by Paucher-Gudin, from the drawing by Petrie.
The completion of the whole plan occupied thirteen years; at length both palace and temple were finished in the XVIIth year of the king's reign. Solomon, however, did not wait for the completion of the work to dedicate the sanctuary to God. As soon as the inner court was ready, which was in his XIth year, he proceeded to transfer the ark to its new resting-place; it was raised upon a cubical base, and the long staves by which it had been carried were left in their rings, as was usual in the case of the sacred barks of the Egyptian deities.* The God of Israel thus took up His abode in the place in which He was henceforth to be honoured. The sacrifices on the occasion of the dedication were innumerable, and continued for fourteen days, in the presence of the representatives of all Israel. The ornate ceremonial and worship which had long been lavished on the deities of rival nations were now, for the first time, offered to the God of Israel. The devout Hebrews who had come together from far and near returned to their respective tribes filled with admiration,** and their limited knowledge of art doubtless led them to consider their temple as unique in the world; in fact, it presented nothing remarkable either in proportion, arrangement, or in the variety and richness of its ornamentation and furniture. Compared with the magnificent monuments of Egypt and Chaldaea, the work of Solomon was what the Hebrew kingdom appears to us among the empires of the ancient world -- a little temple suited to a little people.
* 1 Kings viii.6-8, and 2 Ghron. v.7-9.
** 1 Kings vi.37, 38 states that the foundations were laid in the IVth year of Solomon's reign, in the month of Ziv, and that the temple was completed in the month of Bui in the XIth year; the work occupied seven years.1 Kings vii.1 adds that the construction of the palace lasted thirteen years; it went on for six years after the completion of the temple. The account of the dedication (1 Kings viii.) contains a long prayer by Solomon, part of which (vers.14- 66) is thought by certain critics to be of later date. They contend that the original words of Solomon are confined to vers.12 and 13.
The priests to whose care it was entrusted did not differ much from those whom David had gathered about him at the outset of the monarchy. They in no way formed an hereditary caste confined to the limits of a rigid hierarchy; they admitted into their number -- at least up to a certain point -- men of varied extraction, who were either drawn by their own inclinations to the service of the altar, or had been dedicated to it by their parents from childhood. He indeed was truly a priest |who said of his father and mother, 'I have not seen him;' neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew he his own children.| He was content, after renouncing these, to observe the law of God and keep His covenant, and to teach Jacob His judgments and Israel His law; he put incense before the Lord, and whole burnt offerings upon His altar.*
* Those are the expressions used in the Blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii.8-12); though this text is by some writers placed as late as the VIIIth century B.C., yet the state of things there represented would apply also to an earlier date. The Hebrew priest, in short, had the same duties as a large proportion of the priesthood in Chaldae and Egypt.
As in Egypt, the correct offering of the Jewish sacrifices was beset with considerable difficulties, and the risk of marring their efficacy by the slightest inadvertence necessitated the employment of men who were thoroughly instructed in the divinely appointed practices and formulae. The victims had to be certified as perfect, while the offerers themselves had to be ceremonially pure; and, indeed, those only who had been specially trained were able to master the difficulties connected with the minutiae of legal purity. The means by which the future was made known necessitated the intervention of skilful interpreters of the Divine will. We know that in Egypt the statues of the gods were supposed to answer the questions put to them by movements of the head or arms, sometimes even by the living voice; but the Hebrews do not appear to have been influenced by any such recollections in the use of their sacred oracles. We are ignorant, however, of the manner in which the ephod was consulted, and we know merely that the art of interrogating the Divine will by it demanded a long noviciate.* The benefits derived by those initiated into these mysteries were such as to cause them to desire the privileges to be perpetuated to their children. Gathered round the ancient sanctuaries were certain families who, from father to son, were devoted to the performance of the sacred rites, as, for instance, that of Eli at Shiloh, and that of Jonathan-ben-Gershom at Dan, near the sources of the Jordan; but in addition to these, the text mentions functionaries analogous to those found among the Canaanites, diviners, seers -- roe -- who had means of discovering that which was hidden from the vulgar, even to the finding of lost objects, but whose powers sometimes rose to a higher level when they were suddenly possessed by the prophetic spirit and enabled to reveal coming events. Besides these, again, were the prophets -- nabi** -- who lived either alone or in communities, and attained, by means of a strict training, to a vision of the future.
* An example of the consulting of the ephod will be found in 1 Sam. xxx.7, 8, where David desires to know if he shall pursue the Amalekites.
** 1 Sam. ix.9 is a gloss which identifies the seer of former times with the prophet of the times of the monarchy.
Their prophetic utterances were accompanied by music and singing, and the exaltation of spirit which followed their exercises would at times spread to the bystanders, -- as is the case in the |zikr| of the Mahomedans of to-day.*
* 1 Sam. x.5-13, where we see Saul seized with the prophetic spirit on meeting with a band of prophets descending from the high place; cf.2 Sam. vi.13-16, 20-23, for David dancing before the ark.
The early kings, Saul and David, used to have recourse to individuals belonging to all these three classes, but the prophets, owing to the intermittent character of their inspiration and their ministry, could not fill a regular office attached to the court. One of this class was raised up by God from time to time to warn or guide His servants, and then sank again into obscurity; the priests, on the contrary, were always at hand, and their duties brought them into contact with the sovereign all the year round. The god who was worshipped in the capital of the country and his priesthood promptly acquired a predominant position in all Oriental monarchies, and most of the other temples, together with the sacerdotal bodies attached to them, usually fell into disrepute, leaving them supreme. If Amon of Thebes became almost the sole god, and his priests the possessors of all Egypt, it was because the accession of the XVIIIth dynasty had made his pontiffs the almoners of the Pharaoh. Something of the same sort took place in Israel; the priesthood at Jerusalem attached to the temple built by the sovereign, being constantly about his person, soon surpassed their brethren in other parts of the country both in influence and possessions. Under David's reign their head had been Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, a descendant of Eli, but on Solomon's accession the primacy had been transferred to the line of Zadok. In this alliance of the throne and the altar, it was natural at first that the throne should reap the advantage. The king appears to have continued to be a sort of high priest, and to have officiated at certain times and occasions.* The priests kept the temple in order, and watched over the cleanliness of its chambers and its vessels; they interrogated the Divine will for the king according to the prescribed ceremonies, and offered sacrifices on behalf of the monarch and his subjects; in short, they were at first little more than chaplains to the king and his family.
* Solomon officiated and preached at the consecration of the temple (1 Kings viii.). The actual words appear to be of a later date; but even if that be the case, it proves that, at the time they were written, the king still possessed his full sacerdotal powers.
Solomon's allegiance to the God of Israel did not lead him to proscribe the worship of other gods; he allowed his foreign wives the exercise of their various religions, and he raised an altar to Chemosh on the Mount of Olives for one of them who was a Moabite. The political supremacy and material advantages which all these establishments acquired for Judah could not fail to rouse the jealousy of the other tribes. Ephraim particularly looked on with ill-concealed anger at the prospect of the hegemony becoming established in the hands of a tribe which could be barely said to have existed before the time of David, and was to a considerable extent of barbarous origin. Taxes, homage, the keeping up and recruiting of garrisons, were all equally odious to this, as well as to the other clans descended from Joseph; meanwhile their burdens did not decrease. A new fortress had to be built at Jerusalem by order of the aged king. One of the overseers appointed for this work -- Jeroboam, the son of Nebat -- appears to have stirred up the popular discontent, and to have hatched a revolutionary plot. Solomon, hearing of the conspiracy, attempted to suppress it; Jeroboam was forewarned, and fled to Egypt, where Pharaoh Sheshonq received him with honour, and gave him his wife's sister in marriage.* The peace of the nation had not been ostensibly troubled, but the very fact that a pretender should have risen up in opposition to the legitimate king augured ill for the future of the dynasty. In reality, the edifice which David had raised with such difficulty tottered on its foundations before the death of his successor; the foreign vassals were either in a restless state or ready to throw off their allegiance; money was scarce, and twenty Galilaean towns had been perforce ceded to Hiram to pay the debts due to him for the building of the temple;** murmurings were heard among the people, who desired an easier life.
* 1 Kings xi.23-40, where the LXX. is fuller than the A. V.
** 1 Kings ix.10-13; cf.2 Cliron. viii.1, 2, where the fact seems to have been reversed, and Hiram is made the donor of the twenty towns.
In a future age, when priestly and prophetic influences had gained the ascendant, amid the perils which assailed Jerusalem, and the miseries of the exile, the Israelites, contrasting their humiliation with the glory of the past, forgot the reproaches which their forefathers had addressed to the house of David, and surrounded its memory with a halo of romance. David again became the hero, and Solomon the saint and sage of his race; the latter |spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.| We are told that God favoured him with a special predilection, and appeared to him on three separate occasions: once immediately after the death of David, to encourage him by the promise of a prosperous reign, and the gift of wisdom in governing; again after the dedication of the temple, to confirm him in his pious intentions; and lastly to upbraid him for his idolatry, and to predict the downfall of his house. Solomon is supposed to have had continuous dealings with all the sovereigns of the Oriental world,* and a Queen of Sheba is recorded as having come to bring him gifts from the furthest corner of Arabia.
* 1 Kings iv.34; on this passage are founded all the legends dealing with the contests of wit and wisdom in which Solomon was supposed to have entered with the kings of neighbouring countries; traces of these are found in Dius, in Menander, and in Eupolemus.
His contemporaries, however, seem to have regarded him as a tyrant who oppressed them with taxes, and whose death was unregretted.*
* I am inclined to place the date of Solomon's death between 935 and 930 B.C.
[Illustration: 384.jpg King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba]
His son Rehoboam experienced no opposition in Jerusalem and Judah on succeeding to the throne of his father; when, however, he repaired to Shechem to receive the oath of allegiance from the northern and central tribes, he found them unwilling to tender it except under certain conditions; they would consent to obey him only on the promise of his delivering them from the forced labour which had been imposed upon them by his predecessors. Jeroboam, who had returned from his Egyptian exile on the news of Solomon's death, undertook to represent their grievances to the new king. |Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.| Rehoboam demanded three days for the consideration of his reply; he took counsel with the old advisers of the late king, who exhorted him to comply with the petition, but the young men who were his habitual companions urged him, on the contrary, to meet the remonstrances of his subjects with threats of still harsher exactions. Their advice was taken, and when Jeroboam again presented himself, Rehoboam greeted him with raillery and threats. |My little finger is thicker than my father's loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.| This unwise answer did not produce the intimidating effect which was desired; the cry of revolt, which had already been raised in the earlier days of the monarchy, was once more heard. |What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David.| Rehoboam attempted to carry his threats into execution, and sent the collectors of taxes among the rebels to enforce payment; but one of them was stoned almost before his eyes, and the king himself had barely time to regain his chariot and flee to Jerusalem to escape an outburst of popular fury. The northern and central tribes immediately offered the crown to Jeroboam, and the partisans of the son of Solomon were reduced to those of his own tribe; Judah, Caleb, the few remaining Simeonites, and some of the towns of Dan and Benjamin, which were too near to Jerusalem to escape the influence of a great city, were all who threw in their lot with him.*
* 1 Kings xii.1 -- 24; cf.2 Chron. x., xi.1-4. The text of 1 Kings xii.20 expressly says, |there was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Judah only;| whereas the following verse, which some think to have been added by another hand, adds that Rehoboam assembled 180,000 men |which were warriors| from |the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin.|
Thus was accomplished the downfall of the House of David, and with it the Hebrew kingdom which it had been at such pains to build up. When we consider the character of the two kings who formed its sole dynasty, we cannot refrain from thinking that it deserved a better fate. David and Solomon exhibited that curious mixture of virtues and vices which distinguished most of the great Semite princes. The former, a soldier of fortune and an adventurous hero, represents the regular type of the founder of a dynasty; crafty, cruel, ungrateful, and dissolute, but at the same time brave, prudent, cautious, generous, and capable of enthusiasm, clemency, and repentance; at once so lovable and so gentle that he was able to inspire those about him with the firmest friendship and the most absolute devotion. The latter was a religious though sensual monarch, fond of display -- the type of sovereign who usually succeeds to the head of the family and enjoys the wealth which his predecessor had acquired, displaying before all men the results of an accomplished work, and often thereby endangering its stability. The real reason of their failure to establish a durable monarchy was the fact that neither of them understood the temperament of the people they were called upon to govern. The few representations we possess of the Hebrews of this period depict them as closely resembling the nations which inhabited Southern Syria at the time of the Egyptian occupation. They belong to the type with which the monuments have made us familiar; they are distinguished by an aquiline nose, projecting cheek-bones, and curly hair and beard. They were vigorous, hardy, and inured to fatigue, but though they lacked those qualities of discipline and obedience which are the characteristics of true warrior races, David had not hesitated to employ them in war; they were neither sailors, builders, nor given to commerce and industries, and yet Solomon built fleets, raised palaces and a temple, and undertook maritime expeditions, and financial circumstances seemed for the moment to be favourable.
[Illustration: 387.jpg A JEWISH CAPTIVE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Petrie.
The onward progress of Assyria towards the Mediterranean had been arrested by the Hittites, Egypt was in a condition of lethargy, the Aramaean populations were fretting away their energies in internal dissensions; David, having encountered no serious opposition after his victory over the Philistines, had extended his conquests and increased the area of his kingdom, and the interested assistance which Tyre afterwards gave to Solomon enabled the latter to realise his dreams of luxury and royal magnificence. But the kingdom which had been created by David and Solomom rested solely on their individual efforts, and its continuance could be ensured only by bequeathing it to descendants who had sufficient energy and prudence to consolidate its weaker elements, and build up the tottering materials which were constantly threatening to fall asunder. As soon as the government had passed into the hands of the weakling Rehoboam, who had at the outset departed from his predecessors' policy, the component parts of the kingdom, which had for a few years been, held together, now became disintegrated without a shock, and as if by mutual consent. The old order of things which existed in the time of the Judges had passed away with the death of Saul. The advantages which ensued from a monarchical regime were too apparent to permit of its being set aside, and the tribes who had been bound together by nearly half a century of obedience to a common master now resolved themselves, according to their geographical positions, into two masses of unequal numbers and extent -- Judah in the south, together with the few clans who remained loyal to the kingly house, and Israel in the north and the regions beyond Jordan, occupying three-fourths of the territory which had belonged to David and Solomon.
Israel, in spite of its extent and population, did not enjoy the predominant position which we might have expected at the beginning of its independent existence. It had no political unity, no capital in which to concentrate its resources, no temple, and no army; it represented the material out of which a state could be formed rather than one already constituted. It was subdivided into three groups, formerly independent of, and almost strangers to each other, and between whom neither David nor Solomon had been able to establish any bond which would enable them to forget their former isolation. The centre group was composed of the House of Joseph -- Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh -- and comprised the old fortresses of Perea, Mahanaim, Penuel, Succoth, and Eamoth, ranged in a line running parallel with the Jordan. In the eastern group were the semi-nomad tribes of Reuben and Gad, who still persisted in the pastoral habits of their ancestors, and remained indifferent to the various revolutions which had agitated their race for several generations. Finally, in the northern group lay the smaller tribes of Asher, Naphtali, Issachar, Zebulon, and Dan, hemmed in between the Phoenicians and the Aramaeans of Zoba and Damascus. Each group had its own traditions, its own interests often opposed to those of its neighbours, and its own peculiar mode of life, which it had no intention of renouncing for any one else's benefit. The difficulty of keeping these groups together became at once apparent. Shechem had been the first to revolt against Rehoboam; it was a large and populous town, situated almost in the centre of the newly formed state, and the seat of an ancient oracle, both of which advantages seemed to single it out as the future capital. But its very importance, and the memories of its former greatness under Jeruhhaal and Abimelech, were against it. Built in the western territory belonging to Manasseh, the eastern and northern clans would at once object to its being chosen, on the ground that it would humiliate them before the House of Joseph, in the same manner as the selection of Jerusalem had tended to make them subservient to Judah. Jeroboam would have endangered his cause by fixing on it as his capital, and he therefore soon quitted it to establish himself at Tirzah. It is true that the latter town was also situated in the mountains of Ephraim, but it was so obscure and insignificant a place that it disarmed all jealousy; the new king therefore took up his residence in it, since he was forced to fix on some royal abode, but it never became for him what Jerusalem was to his rival, a capital at once religious and military. He had his own sanctuary and priests at Tirzah, as was but natural, but had he attempted to found a temple which would have attracted the whole population to a common worship, he would have excited jealousies which would have been fatal to his authority. On the other hand, Solomon's temple had in its short period of existence not yet acquired such a prestige as to prevent Jeroboam's drawing his people away from it: which he determined to do from a fear that contact with Jerusalem would endanger the allegiance of his subjects to his person and family. Such concourses of worshippers, assembling at periodic intervals from all parts of the country, soon degenerated into a kind of fair, in which commercial as well as religious motives had their part.
[Illustration: 391.jpg THE MOUND AND PLAIN OF BETHEL.]
Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph published by the Duc de Luynes.
These gatherings formed a source of revenue to the prince in whose capital they were held, and financial as well as political considerations required that periodical assemblies should be established in Israel similar to those which attracted Judah to Jerusalem. Jeroboam adopted a plan which while safeguarding the interests of his treasury, prevented his becoming unpopular with his own subjects; as he was unable to have a temple for himself alone, he chose two out of the most venerated ancient sanctuaries, that of Dan for the northern tribes, and that of Bethel, on the Judaean frontier, for the tribes of the east and centre. He made two calves of gold, one for each place, and said to the people, |It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.| He granted the sanctuaries certain appanages, and established a priesthood answering to that which officiated in the rival kingdom: |whosoever would he consecrated him, that there might be priests of the high places.|* While Jeroboam thus endeavoured to strengthen himself on the throne by adapting the monarchy to the temperament of the tribes over which he ruled, Rehoboam took measures to regain his lost ground and restore the unity which he himself had destroyed. He recruited the army which had been somewhat neglected in the latter years of his father, restored the walls of the cities which had remained faithful to him, and fortified the places which constituted his frontier defences against the Israelites.** His ambition was not as foolish as we might be tempted to imagine. He had soldiers, charioteers, generals, skilled in the art of war, well-filled storehouses, the remnant of the wealth of Solomon, and, as a last resource, the gold of the temple at Jerusalem. He ruled over the same extent of territory as that possessed by David after the death of Saul, but the means at his disposal were incontestably greater than those of his grandfather, and it is possible that he might in the end have overcome Jeroboam, as David overcame Ishbosheth, had not the intervention of Egypt disconcerted his plans, and, by exhausting his material forces, struck a death-blow to all his hopes.
* 1 Kings xii.25-32; chaps, xii.33, xiii., xiv.1-18 contain, side by side with the narrative of facts, such as the death of Jeroboam's son, comments on the religious conduct of the sovereign, which some regard as being of later date.
** 1 Kings xii.21-24; cf.2 Ghron. xi.1-17, where the list of strongholds, wanting in the Boole of Kings, is given from an ancient source. The writer affirms, in harmony with the ideas of his time, |that the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem; for Jeroboam and his sons cast them off, that they should not execute the Priest's office unto the Lord.|
The century and a half which had elapsed since the death of the last of the Ramessides had, as far as we can ascertain, been troubled by civil wars and revolutions.*
* I have mentioned above the uncertainty which still shrouds the XXth dynasty. The following is the order in which I propose that its kings should be placed: --
[Illustration: 393.jpg TABLE OF KINGS]
The imperious Egypt of the Theban dynasties had passed away, but a new Egypt had arisen, not without storm and struggle, in its place. As long as the campaigns of the Pharaohs had been confined to the Nile valley and the Oases, Thebes had been the natural centre of the kingdom; placed almost exactly between the Mediterranean and the southern frontier, it had been both the national arsenal and the treasure-house to which all foreign wealth had found its way from the Persian Gulf to the Sahara, and from the coasts of Asia Minor to the equatorial swamps. The cities of the Delta, lying on the frontier of those peoples with whom Egypt now held but little intercourse, possessed neither the authority nor the resources of Thebes; even Memphis, to which the prestige of her ancient dynasties still clung, occupied but a secondary place beside her rival. The invasion of the shepherds, by making the Thebaid the refuge and last bulwark of the Egyptian nation, increased its importance: in the critical times of the struggle, Thebes was not merely the foremost city in the country, it represented the country itself, and the heart of Egypt may be said to have throbbed within its walls. The victories of Ahmosis, the expeditions of Thutmosis I. and Thutmosis III., enlarged her horizon; her Pharaohs crossed the isthmus of Suez, they conquered Syria, subdued the valleys of the Euphrates and the Balikh, and by so doing increased her wealth and her splendour. Her streets witnessed during two centuries processions of barbarian prisoners laden with the spoils of conquest. But with the advent of the XIXth and XXth dynasties came anxious times; the peoples of Syria and Libya, long kept in servitude, at length rebelled, and the long distance between Karnak and Gaza soon began to be irksome to princes who had to be constantly on the alert on the Canaanite frontier, and who found it impossible to have their head-quarters six hundred miles from the scene of hostilities. Hence it came about that Ramses II., Minephtah, and Ramses III. all took up their abode in the Delta during the greater part of their active life; they restored its ancient towns and founded new ones, which soon acquired considerable wealth by foreign commerce. The centre of government of the empire, which, after the dissolution of the old Memphite state, had been removed southwards to Thebes on account of the conquest of Ethiopia and the encroachment of Theban civilization upon Nubia and the Sudan, now gradually returned northwards, and passing over Heracleo-polis, which had exercised a transitory supremacy, at length established itself in the Delta. Tanis, Bubastis, Sais, Mondes, and Sebennytos all disputed the honour of forming the royal residence, and all in turn during the course of ages enjoyed the privilege without ever rising to the rank of Thebes, or producing any sovereigns to be compared with those of her triumphant dynasties. Tanis was, as we have seen, the first of these to rule the whole of the Nile valley. Its prosperity had continued to increase from the time that Ramses II. began to rebuild it; the remaining inhabitants of Avaris, mingled with the natives of pure race and the prisoners of war settled there, had furnished it with an active and industrious population, which had considerably increased during the peaceful reigns of the XXth dynasty. The surrounding country, drained and cultivated by unremitting efforts, became one of the most fruitful parts of the Delta; there was a large exportation of fish and corn, to which were soon added the various products of its manufactories, such as linen and woollen stuffs, ornaments, and objects in glass and in precious metals.*
* The immense number of designs taken from aquatic plants, as, for instance, the papyrus and the lotus, single or in groups, as well as from fish and aquatic birds, which we observe on objects of Phoenician goldsmiths' work, leads me to believe that the Tyrian and Sidonian artists borrowed most of their models from the Delta, and doubtless from Tanis, the most flourishing town of the Delta during the centuries following the downfall of Thebes.
These were embarked on Egyptian or Phoenician galleys, and were exchanged in the ports of the Mediterranean for Syrian, Asiatic, or AEgean commodities, which were then transmitted by the Egyptian merchants to the countries of the East and to Northern Africa.* The port of Tanis was one of the most secure and convenient which existed at that period. It was at sufficient distance from the coast to be safe from the sudden attacks of pirates,** and yet near enough to permit of its being reached from the open by merchantmen in a few hours of easy navigation; the arms of the Nile, and the canals which here flowed into the sea, were broad and deep, and, so long as they were kept well dredged, would allow the heaviest-laden vessel of large draught to make its way up them with ease.
* It was from Tanis that the Egyptian vessel set out carrying the messengers of Hrihor to Byblos.
** We may judge of the security afforded by such a position by the account in Homer which Ulysses gives to Eumaios of his pretended voyage to Egypt; the Greeks having
disembarked, and being scattered over the country, were attacked by the Egyptians before they could capture a town or carry their booty to the ships.
The site of the town was not less advantageous for overland traffic. Tanis was the first important station encountered by caravans after crossing the frontier at Zalu, and it offered them a safe and convenient emporium for the disposal of their goods in exchange for the riches of Egypt and the Delta. The combination of so many advantageous features on one site tended to the rapid development of both civic and individual wealth; in less than three centuries after its rebuilding by Ramses II., Tanis had risen to a position which enabled its sovereigns to claim even the obedience of Thebes itself.
We know very little of the history of this Tanite dynasty; the monuments have not revealed the names of all its kings, and much difficulty is experienced in establishing the sequence of those already brought to light.*
* The classification of the Tanite line has been complicated in the minds of most Egyptologists by the tendency to ignore the existence of the sacerdotal dynasty of high priests, to confuse with the Tanite Pharaohs those of the high priests who bore the crown, and to identify in the lists of Manetho (more or less corrected) the names they are in search of. A fresh examination of the subject has led me to adopt provisionally the following order for the series of Tanite kings: --
[Illustration: 397.jpg TABLE OF KINGS]
Their actual domain barely extended as far as Siut, but their suzerainty was acknowledged by the Said as well as by all or part of Ethiopia, and the Tanite Pharaohs maintained their authority with such vigour, that they had it in their power on several occasions to expel the high priests of Amon, and to restore, at least for a time, the unity of the empire. To accomplish this, it would have been sufficient for them to have assumed the priestly dignity at Thebes, and this was what no doubt took place at times when a vacancy in the high priesthood occurred; but it was merely in an interim, and the Tanite sovereigns always relinquished the office, after a brief lapse of time, in favour of some member of the family of Hrihor whose right of primogeniture entitled him to succeed to it.* It indeed seemed as if custom and religious etiquette had made the two offices of the pontificate and the royal dignity incompatible for one individual to hold simultaneously. The priestly duties had become marvellously complicated during the Theban hegemony, and the minute observances which they entailed absorbed the whole life of those who dedicated themselves to their performance.**
* This is only true if the personage who entitles himself once within a cartouche, |the Master of the two lands, First Prophet of Amon, Psiukhan-nit,| is really the Tanite king, and not the high priest Psiukhannit.
** The first book of Diodorus contains a picture of the life of the kings of Egypt, which, in common with much
information contained in the work, is taken from a lost book of Hecataeus. The historical romance written by the latter appears to have been composed from information taken from Theban sources. The comparison of it with the inscribed monuments and the ritual of the cultus of Amon proves that the ideal description given in this work of the life of the kings, merely reproduces the chief characteristics of the lives of the Theban and Ethiopian high priests; hence the greater part of the minute observances which we remark therein apply to the latter only, and not to the Pharaohs properly so called.
They had daily to fulfil a multitude of rites, distributed over the various hours in such a manner that it seemed impossible to find leisure for any fresh occupation without encroaching on the time allotted to absolute bodily needs. The high priest rose each morning at an appointed hour; he had certain times for taking food, for recreation, for giving audience, for dispensing justice, for attending to worldly affairs, and for relaxation with his wives and children; at night he kept watch, or rose at intervals to prepare for the various ceremonies which could only be celebrated at sunrise. He was responsible for the superintendence of the priests of Amon in the numberless festivals held in honour of the gods, from which he could not absent himself except for some legitimate reason. From all this it will be seen how impossible it was for a lay king, like the sovereign ruling at Tanis, to submit to such restraints beyond a certain point; his patience would soon have become exhausted, want of practice would have led him to make slips or omissions, rendering the rites null and void; and the temporal affairs of his kingdom -- internal administration, justice, finance, commerce, and war -- made such demands upon his time, that he was obliged as soon as possible to find a substitute to fulfil his religious duties. The force of circumstances therefore maintained the line of Theban high priests side by side with their sovereigns, the Tanite kings. They were, it is true, dangerous rivals, both on account of the wealth of their fief and of the immense prestige which they enjoyed in Egypt, Ethiopia, and in all the nomes devoted to the worship of Amon. They were allied to the elder branch of the ramessides, and had thus inherited such near rights to the crown that Smendes had not hesitated to concede to Hrihor the cartouches, the preamble, and insignia of the Pharaoh, including the pschent and the iron helmet inlaid with gold. This concession, however, had been made as a personal favour, and extended only to the lifetime of Hrihor, without holding good, as a matter of course, for his successors; his son Pionkhi had to confine himself to the priestly titles,* and his grandson Painotmu enjoyed the kingly privileges only during part of his life, doubtless in consequence of his marriage with a certain Makeri, probably daughter of Psiukhannit L, the Tanite king. Makeri apparently died soon after, and the discovery of her coffin in the hiding-place at Deir el-Bahari reveals the fact of her death in giving birth to a little daughter who did not survive her, and who rests in the same coffin beside the mummy of her mother. None of the successors of Painotmu -- Masahirti, Manakhpirri, Painotmu II., Psiukhannit, Nsbindidi -- enjoyed a similar distinction, and if one of them happened to surround his name with a cartouche, it was done surreptitiously, without the authority of the sovereign.**
* The only monument of this prince as yet known gives him merely the usual titles of the high priest, and the inscriptions of his son Painotmu I. style him |First Prophet of Amon.| His name should probably be read Paionukhi or Pionukhi, rather than Pionkhi or Piankhi. It is not unlikely that some of the papyri published by Spiegelberg date from his pontificate.
** Manakhpirri often places his name in a square cartouche which tends at times to become an oval, but this is the case only on some pieces of stuff rolled round a mummy and on some bricks concealed in the walls of el-Hibeh, Thebes, and Gebelein. If the |Psiukhannit, High Priest of Amon,| who once (to our knowledge) enclosed his name in a cartouche, is really a high priest, and not a king, his case would be analogous to that of Manakhpirri.
Painotmu II. contented himself with drawing attention to his connection with the reigning house, and styled himself |Royal Son of Psiukhannit-Miamon,| on account of his ancestress Makeri having been the daughter of the Pharaoh Psiukhannit.*
* The example of the |royal sons of Ramses| explains the variant which makes |Painotmu, son of Manakhpirri,| into |Painotmu, royal son of Psiukhannit-Miamon.|
The relationship of which he boasted was a distant one, but many of his contemporaries who claimed to be of the line of Sesostris, and called themselves |royal sons of Ramses,| traced their descent from a far more remote ancestor.
[Illustration: 401.jpg THE MUMMIES OF QUEEN MAKERI AND HER CHILD]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey.
The death of one high priest, or the appointment of his successor, was often the occasion of disturbances; the jealousies between his children by the same or by different wives were as bitter as those which existed in the palace of the Pharaohs, and the suzerain himself was obliged at times to interfere in order to restore peace. It was owing to an intervention of this kind that Manakhpirri was called on to replace his brother Masahirti. A section of the Theban population had revolted, but the rising had been put down by the Tanite Siamon, and its leaders banished to the Oasis; Manakhpirri had thereupon been summoned to court and officially invested with the pontificate in the XXVth year of the king's reign. But on his return to Karnak, the new high priest desired to heal old feuds, and at once recalled the exiles.* Troubles and disorders appeared to beset the Thebans, and, like the last of the Ramessides, they were engaged in a perpetual struggle against robbers.**
* This appears in the Maunier Stele preserved for some time in the |Maison Francaise| at Luxor, and now removed to the Louvre.
** The series of high priests side by side with the sovereigns of the XXIst dynasty may be provisionally arranged as follows: --
[Illustration: 402.jpg TABLE]
The town, deprived of its former influx of foreign spoil, became more and more impoverished, and its population gradually dwindled. The necropolis suffered increasingly from pillagers, and the burying-places of the kings were felt to be in such danger, that the authorities, despairing of being able to protect them, withdrew the mummies from their resting-places. The bodies of Seti I., Ramses II., and Ramses III. were once more carried down the valley, and, after various removals, were at length huddled together for safety in the tomb of Amenothes I. at Drah-abu'l-Neggah.
The Tanite Pharaohs seemed to have lacked neither courage nor good will. The few monuments which they have left show that to some extent they carried on the works begun by their predecessors. An unusually high inundation had injured the temple at Karnak, the foundations had been denuded by the water, and serious damage would have been done, had not the work of reparation been immediately undertaken. Nsbindidi reopened the sandstone quarries between Erment and Grebelein, from which Seti I. had obtained the building materials for the temple, and drew from thence what was required for the repair of the edifice. Two of the descendants of Nsbindidi, Psiukhannit I. and Amenemopit, remodelled the little temple built by Kheops in honour of his daughter Honit-sonu, at the south-east angle of his pyramid. Both Siamonmiamon and Psiukhannit I. have left traces of their work at Memphis, and the latter inserted his cartouches on two of the obelisks raised by Ramses at Heliopolis. But these were only minor undertakings, and it is at Tanis that we must seek the most characteristic examples of their activity. Here it was that Psiukhannit rebuilt the brick ramparts which defended the city, and decorated several of the halls of the great temple. The pylons of this sanctuary had been merely begun by Sesostris: Siamon completed them, and added the sphinxes; and the metal plaques and small objects which he concealed under the base of one of the latter have been brought to light in the course of excavations. The appropriation of the monuments of other kings, which we have remarked under former dynasties, was also practised by the Tanites. Siamon placed his inscriptions over those of the Kamessides, and Psiukhannit engraved his name on the sphinxes and statues of Ame-nemhait III. as unscrupulously as Apophis and the Hyksos had done before him. The Tanite sovereigns, however, were not at a loss for artists, and they had revived, after the lapse of centuries, the traditions of the local school which had flourished during the XIIth dynasty.
[Illustration: 404.jpg THE TWO NILES OF TANIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey.
One of the groups, executed by order of Psiukhannit, has escaped destruction, and is now in the Gizeh Museum. It represents two figures of the Nile, marching gravely shoulder to shoulder, and carrying in front of them tables of offerings, ornamented with fish and garnished with flowers. The stone in which they are executed is of an extraordinary hardness, but the sculptor has, notwithstanding, succeeded in carving and polishing it with a skill which does credit to his proficiency in his craft. The general effect of the figures is a little heavy, but the detail is excellent, and the correctness of pose, precision in modelling, and harmony of proportion are beyond criticism. The heads present a certain element of strangeness. The artist evidently took as his model, as far as type and style of head-dress are concerned, the monuments of Amenemhait III. which he saw around him; indeed, he probably copied one of them feature for feature. He has reproduced the severity of expression, the firm mouth, the projecting cheek-bones, the long hair and fan-shaped beard of his model, but he has not been able to imitate the broad and powerful treatment of the older artists; his method of execution has a certain hardness and conventionality which we never see to the same extent in the statues of the XIIth dynasty. The work is, however, an extremely interesting one, and we are tempted to wish that many more such monuments had been saved from the ruins of the city.*
* Mariette attributes this group to the Hyksos; I have already expressed the opinion that it dates from the XXIst dynasty.
The Pharaoh who dedicated it was a great builder, and, like most of his predecessors with similar tastes, somewhat of a conqueror. The sovereigns of the XXIst dynasty, though they never undertook any distant campaigns, did not neglect to keep up a kind of suzerainty over the Philistine Shephelah to which they still laid claim. The expedition which one of them, probably Psiukhannit II., led against Gezer, the alliance with the Hebrews and the marriage of a royal princess with Solomon, must all have been regarded at the court of Tanis as a partial revival of the former Egyptian rule in Syria. The kings were, however, obliged to rest content with small results, for though their battalions were sufficiently numerous and well disciplined to overcome the Canaanite chiefs, or even the Israelite kingdom, it is to be doubted whether they were strong enough to attack the troops of the Aramaean or Hittite princes, who had a highly organised military system, modelled on that of Assyria. Egyptian arms and tactics had not made much progress since the great campaigns of the Theban conquerors; the military authorities still complacently trusted to their chariots and their light troops of archers at a period when the whole success of a campaign was decided by heavily armed infantry, and when cavalry had already begun to change the issue of battles. The decadence of the military spirit in Egypt had been particularly marked in all classes under the later Ramessides, and the native militia, without exception, was reduced to a mere rabble -- courageous, it is true, and able to sell their lives dearly when occasion demanded, rather than give way before the enemy, but entirely lacking that enthusiasm and resolution which sweep all obstacles before them. The chariotry had not degenerated in the same way, thanks to the care with which the Pharaoh and his vassals kept up the breeding of suitable horses in the training stables of the principal towns. Egypt provided Solomon with draught-horses, and with strong yet light chariots, which he sold with advantage to the sovereigns of the Orontes and the Euphrates. But it was the mercenaries who constituted the most active and effective section of the Pharaonic armies. These troops formed the backbone on which all the other elements -- chariots, spearmen, and native archers -- were dependent. Their spirited attack carried the other troops with them, and by a tremendous onslaught on the enemy at a decisive moment gave the commanding general some chance of success against the better-equipped and better-organised battalions that he would be sure to meet with on the plains of Asia. The Tanite kings enrolled these mercenaries in large numbers: they entrusted them with the garrisoning of the principal towns, and confirmed the privileges which their chiefs had received from the Ramessides, but the results of such a policy were not long in manifesting themselves, and this state of affairs had been barely a century in existence before Egypt became a prey to the barbarians.
It would perhaps be more correct to say that it had fallen a prey to the Libyans only. The Asiatics and Europeans whom the Theban Pharaohs had called in to fight for them had become merged in the bulk of the nation, or had died out for lack of renewal. Semites abounded, it is true, in the eastern nomes of the Delta, but their presence had no effect on the military strength of the country. Some had settled in the towns and villages, and were engaged in commerce or industry; these included Phoenician, Canaanite, Edomite, and even Hebrew merchants and artisans, who had been forced to flee from their own countries owing to political disturbances.*
* Jeroboam (1 Kings xi.40, xii.2, 3) and Hadad (1 Kings xi.17-22) took refuge in this way at the court of Pharaoh.
A certain proportion were descendants of the Hidjsos, who had been reinforced from time to time by settlements of prisoners captured in battle; they had taken refuge in the marshes as in the times of Abmosis, and there lived in a kind of semi-civilized independence, refusing to pay taxes, boasting of having kept themselves from any alliances with the inhabitants of the Nile valley, while their kinsmen of the older stock betrayed the knowledge of their origin by such disparaging nicknames as Pa-shmuri, |the stranger,| or Pi-atnu, |the Asiatic.| The Shardana, who had constituted the body-guard of Ramses II., and whose commanders had, under Ramses III., ranked with the great officers of the crown, had all but disappeared. It had been found difficult to recruit them since the dislodgment of the People of the Sea from the Delta and the Syrian littoral, and their settlement in Italy and the fabulous islands of the Mediterranean; the adventurers from Crete and the AEgean coasts now preferred to serve under the Philistines, where they found those who were akin to their own race, and from thence they passed on to the Hebrews, where, under David and Solomon, they were gladly hired as mercenaries.*
* Carians or Cretans (Chercthites) formed part of David's body-guard (2 Sam viii.18, xv.18, xx.23); one again meets with these Carian or Cretan troops in Judah in the reign of Athaliah (2 Kings xi.4, 19).
The Libyans had replaced the Shardana in all the offices they had filled and in all the garrison towns they had occupied. The kingdom of Maraiu and Kapur had not survived the defeats which it had suffered from Minephtah and Ramses III., but the Mashauasha who had founded it still kept an active hegemony over their former subjects; hence it was that the Egyptians became accustomed to look on all the Libyan tribes as branches of the dominant race, and confounded all the immigrants from Libya under the common name of Mashauasha.* Egypt was thus slowly flooded by Libyans; it was a gradual invasion, which succeeded by pacific means where brute force had failed. A Berber population gradually took possession of the country, occupying the eastern provinces of the Delta, filling its towns -- Sais, Damanhur, and Marea -- making its way into the Fayum, the suburbs of Heracleopolis, and penetrating as far south as Abydos; at the latter place they were not found in such great numbers, but still considerable enough to leave distinct traces.** The high priests of Amon seem to have been the only personages who neglected to employ this ubiquitous race; but they preferred to use the Nubian tribe of the Mazaiu,*** who probably from the XIIth dynasty onwards had constituted the police force of Thebes.
* Ramses III. still distinguished between the Qahaka, the Tihonu, and the Mashauasha; the monuments of the XXIInd dynasty only recognise the Mashaiiasha, whose name they curtail to Ma.
** The presence in those regions of persons bearing Asiatic names has been remarked, without drawing thence any proof for the existence of Asiatic colonies in those regions. The presence of Libyans at Abydos seems to be proved by the discovery in that town of the little monument reproduced on the next page, and of many objects in the same style, many of which are in the Louvre or the British Museum.
*** I have not discovered among the personal attendants of the descendants of Hrihor any functionary bearing the title of Chief of the Mashaiuasha ; even those who bore it later on, under the XXIInd dynasty, were always officers from the north of Egypt. It seems almost certain that Thebes always avoided having Libyan troops, and never received a Mashauasha settlement.
These Libyan immigrants had adopted the arts of Egypt and the externals of her civilization; they sculptured rude figures on the rocks and engraved scenes on their stone vessels, in which they are represented fully armed,* and taking part in some skirmish or attack, or even a chase in the desert. The hunters are divided into two groups, each of which is preceded by a different ensign -- that of the West for the right wing of the troop, and that of the East for the left wing. They carry the spear the boomerang, the club, the double-curved bow, and the dart; a fox's skin depends from their belts over their thighs, and an ostrich's feather waves above their curly hair.
* I attribute to the Libyans, whether mercenaries or tribes hovering on the Egyptian frontier, the figures cut
everywhere on the rocks, which no one up till now has reproduced or studied. To them I attribute also the tombs which Mr. Petrie has so successfully explored, and in which he finds the remains of a New Race which seems to have conquered Egypt after the VIth dynasty: they appear to be of different periods, but all belong to the Berber horsemen of the desert and the outskirts of the Nile valley.
[Illustration: 410.jpg A TROOP OF LIBYANS HUNTING]
Drawn by Boudier, from the original in the Louvre.
They never abandoned this special head-dress and manner of arming themselves, and they can always be recognised on the monuments by the plumes surmounting their forehead.*
* This design is generally thought to represent a piece of cloth folded in two, and laid flat on the head; examination of the monuments proves that it is the ostrich plume fixed at the back of the head, and laid flat on the hair or wig.
Their settlement on the banks of the Nile and intermarriage with the Egyptians had no deteriorating effect on them, as had been the case with the Shardana, and they preserved nearly all their national characteristics. If here and there some of them became assimilated with the natives, there was always a constant influx of new comers, full of energy and vigour, who kept the race from becoming enfeebled. The attractions of high pay and the prospect of a free-and-easy life drew them to the service of the feudal lords. The Pharaoh entrusted their chiefs with confidential offices about his person, and placed the royal princes at their head. The position at length attained by these Mashauasha was analogous to that of the Oossasans at Babylon, and, indeed, was merely the usual sequel of permitting a foreign militia to surround an Oriental monarch; they became the masters of their sovereigns. Some of their generals went so far as to attempt to use the soldiery to overturn the native dynasty, and place themselves upon the throne; others sought to make and unmake kings to suit their own taste. The earlier Tanite sovereigns had hoped to strengthen their authority by trusting entirely to the fidelity and gratitude of their guard; the later kings became mere puppets in the hands of mercenaries. At length a Libyan family arose who, while leaving the externals of power in the hands of the native sovereigns, reserved to themselves the actual administration, and reduced the kings to the condition of luxurious dependence enjoyed by the elder branch of the Ramessides under the rule of the high priests of Amon.
There was at Bubastis, towards the middle or end of the XXth dynasty, a Tihonu named Buiuwa-buiuwa. He was undoubtedly a soldier of fortune, without either office or rank, but his descendants prospered and rose to important positions among the Mashadasha chiefs: the fourth among these, Sheshonq by name, married Mihtinuoskhit, a princess of the royal line. His son, Namaroti, managed to combine with his function of chief of the Mashauasha several religious offices, and his grandson, also called Sheshonq, had a still more brilliant career. We learn from the monuments of the latter that, even before he had ascended the throne, he was recognised as king and prince of princes, and had conferred on him the command of all the Libyan troops. Officially he was the chief person in the state after the sovereign, and had the privilege of holding personal intercourse with the gods, Amonra included -- a right which belonged exclusively to the Pharaoh and the Theban high priest. The honours which he bestowed upon his dead ancestors were of a remarkable character, and included the institution of a liturgical office in connection with his father Namaroti, a work which resembles in its sentiments the devotions of Bamses II. to the memory of Seti. He succeeded in arranging a marriage between his son Osorkon and a princess of the royal line, the daughter of Psiukhannit II., by which alliance he secured the Tanite succession; he obtained as a wife for his second son Auputi, the priestess of Amon, and thus obtained an indirect influence over the Said and Nubia.*
* The date of the death of Painotmu II. is fixed at the XVIth year of his reign, according to the inscriptions in the pit at Deir el-Bahari. This would be the date of the accession of Auputi', if Auputi succeeded him directly, as I am inclined to believe; but if Psiukhannit was his immediate successor, and if Nsbindidi succeeded Manakhpirri, we must place the accession of Auputi some years later.
[Illustration: 413.jpg NSITANIBASHIRU]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by E. Brugsch-Bey.
This priestess was probably a daughter or niece of Painotmu II., but we are unacquainted with her name. The princesses continued to play a preponderating part in the transmission of power, and we may assume that the lady in question was one of those whose names have come down to us -- Nsikhonsu, Nsitani-bashiru, or Isimkhobiu II., who brought with her as a dowry the Bubastite fief. We are at a loss whether to place Auputi immediately after Painotmu, or between the ephemeral pontificates of a certain Psiukhannit and a certain Nsbindidi. His succession imposed a very onerous duty upon him. Thebes was going through the agonies of famine and misery, and no police supervision in the world could secure the treasures stored up in the tombs of a more prosperous age from the attacks of a famished people. Arrests, trials, and punishments were ineffectual against the violation of the sepulchres, and even the royal mummies -- including those placed in the chapel of Amenothes I. by previous high priests -- were not exempt from outrage. The remains of the most glorious of the Pharaohs were reclining in this chapel, forming a sort of solemn parliament: here was Saqnunri Tiuaqni, the last member of the XVIIth dynasty; here also were the first of the XVIIIth -- Ahmosis, Amenothes I., and the three of the name Thutmosis, together with the favourites of their respective harems -- Nofritari, Ahhotpu II., Anhapu, Honittimihu, and Sitkamosis; and, in addition, Ramses I., Seti I., Ramses II. of the XIXth dynasty, Ramses III. and Ramses X. of the XXth dynasty. The |Servants of the True Place| were accustomed to celebrate at the appointed periods the necessary rites established in their honour. Inspectors, appointed for the purpose by the government, determined from time to time the identity of the royal mummies, and examined into the condition of their wrappings and coffins: after each inspection a report, giving the date and the name of the functionary responsible for the examination, was inscribed on the linen or the lid covering the bodies. The most of the mummies had suffered considerably before they reached the refuge in which they were found. The bodies of Sitamon and of the Princess Honittimihu had been completely destroyed, and bundles of rags had been substituted for them, so arranged with pieces of wood as to resemble human figures. Ramses I., Ramses II., and Thutmosis had been deprived of their original shells, and were found in extemporised cases. Hrihor's successors, who regarded these sovereigns as their legitimate ancestors, had guarded them with watchful care, but Auputi, who did not feel himself so closely related to these old-world Pharaohs, considered, doubtless, this vigilance irksome, and determined to locate the mummies in a spot where they would henceforward be secure from all attack. A princess of the family of Manakhpirri -- Isimkhobiu, it would appear -- had prepared a tomb for herself in the rocky cliff which bounds the amphitheatre of Deir el-Bahari on the south. The position lent itself readily to concealment. It consisted of a well some 130 feet deep, with a passage running out of it at right angles for a distance of some 200 feet and ending in a low, oblong, roughly cut chamber, lacking both ornament and paintings. Painotmu II. had been placed within this chamber in the XVIth year of the reign of Psiukhannit II., and several members of his family had been placed beside him not long afterwards. Auputi soon transferred thither the batch of mummies which, in the chapel of Amenothes I., had been awaiting a more definite sepulture; the coffins, with what remained of their funerary furniture, were huddled together in disorder. The chamber having been filled up to the roof, the remaining materials, consisting of coffers, boxes of Ushabti, Canopic jars, garlands, together with the belongings of priestly mummies, were arranged along the passage; when the place was full, the entrance was walled up, the well filled, and its opening so dexterously covered that it remained concealed until-our own time. The accidental |sounding| of some pillaging Arabs revealed the place as far back as 1872, but it was not until ten years later (1881) that the Pharaohs once more saw the light. They are now enthroned -- who can say for how many years longer? -- in the chambers of the Gizeh Museum. Egypt is truly a land of marvels! It has not only, like Assyria and Chaldaea, Greece and Italy, preserved for us monuments by which its historic past may be reconstructed, but it has handed on to us the men themselves who set up the monuments and made the history. Her great monarchs are not any longer mere names deprived of appropriate forms, and floating colourless and shapeless in the imagination of posterity: they may be weighed, touched, and measured; the capacity of their brains may be gauged; the curve of their noses and the cut of their mouths may be determined; we know if they were bald, or if they suffered from some secret infirmity; and, as we are able to do in the case of our contemporaries, we may publish their portraits taken first hand in the photographic camera. Sheshonq, by assuming the control of the Theban priesthood, did not on this account extend his sovereignty over Egypt beyond its southern portion, and that part of Nubia which still depended on it. Ethiopia remained probably outside his jurisdiction, and constituted from this time forward an independent kingdom, under the rule of dynasties which were, or claimed to be, descendants of Hrihor. The oasis, on the other hand, and the Libyan provinces in the neighbourhood of the Delta and the sea, rendered obedience to his officers, and furnished him with troops which were recognised as among his best. Sheshonq found himself at the death of Psiukhannit II., which took place about 940 B.C., sole master of Egypt, with an effective army and well-replenished treasury at his disposal. What better use could he make of his resources than devote them to reasserting the traditional authority of his country over Syria? The intestine quarrels of the only state of any importance in that region furnished him with an opportunity of which he found it easy to take advantage. Solomon in his eyes was merely a crowned vassal of Egypt, and his appeal for aid to subdue Gezer, his marriage with a daughter of the Egyptian royal house, the position he had assigned her over all his other wives, and all that we know of the relations between Jerusalem and Tanis at the time, seem to indicate that the Hebrews themselves acknowledged some sort of dependency upon Egypt. They were not, however, on this account free from suspicion in their suzerain's eyes, who seized upon every pretext that offered itself to cause them embarrassment. Hadad, and Jeroboam afterwards, had been well received at the court of the Pharaoh, and it was with Egyptian subsidies that these two rebels returned to their country, the former in the lifetime of Solomon, and the latter after his death. When Jeroboam saw that he was threatened by Rehoboam, he naturally turned to his old protectors. Sheshonq had two problems before him. Should he confirm by his intervention the division of the kingdom, which had flourished in Kharu for now half a century, into two rival states, or should he himself give way to the vulgar appetite for booty, and step in for his own exclusive interest? He invaded Judaea four years after the schism, and Jerusalem offered no resistance to him; Rehoboam ransomed his capital by emptying the royal treasuries and temple, rendering up even the golden shields which Solomon was accustomed to assign to his guards when on duty about his person.*
* 1 Kings xiv.25-28; cf.2 Chron. xii.1-10, where an episode, not in the Book of Kings, is introduced. The prophet Shemaiah played an important part in the
This expedition of the Pharaoh was neither dangerous nor protracted, but it was more than two hundred years since so much riches from countries beyond the isthmus had been brought into Egypt, and the king was consequently regarded by the whole people of the Nile valley as a great hero. Auputi took upon himself the task of recording the exploit on the south wall of the temple of Amon at Karnak, not far from the spot where Ramses II. had had engraved the incidents of his Syrian campaigns. His architect was sent to Silsilis to procure the necessary sandstone to repair the monument. He depicted upon it his father receiving at the hands of Amon processions of Jewish prisoners, each one representing a captured city. The list makes a brave show, and is remarkable for the number of the names composing it: in comparison with those of Thutmosis III., it is disappointing, and one sees at a glance how inferior, even in its triumph, the Egypt of the XXIInd dynasty was to that of the XVIIIth.
[Illustration: 419.jpg AMON PRESENTING TO SHESHONQ THE LIST OF THE CITIES CAPTURED IN ISRAEL AND JUDAH]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato.
It is no longer a question of Carchemish, or Qodshu, or Mitanni, or Naharaim: Megiddo is the most northern point mentioned, and the localities enumerated bring us more and more to the south -- Eabbat, Taanach, Hapharaim, Mahanaim,* Gibeon, Beth-horon, Ajalon, Jud-hammelek, Migdol, Jerza, Shoko, and the villages of the Negeb. Each locality, in consequence of the cataloguing of obscure towns, furnished enough material to cover two, or even three of the crenellated cartouches in which the names of the conquered peoples are enclosed, and Sheshonq had thus the puerile satisfaction of parading before the eyes of his subjects a longer cortege of defeated chiefs than that of his predecessor. His victorious career did not last long: he died shortly after, and his son Osorkon was content to assume at a distance authority over the Kharu.**
* The existence of the names of certain Israelite towns on the list of. Sheshonq has somewhat astonished the majority of the historians of Israel. Renan declared that the list must |put aside the conjecture that Jeroboam had been the instigator of the expedition, which would certainly have been readily admissible, especially if any force were attached to the Greek text of 1 Kings xii.24, which makes Jeroboam to have been a son-in-law of the King of Egypt;| the same view had been already expressed by Stade; others have thought that Sheshonq had conquered the country for his ally Jeroboam. Sheshonq, in fact, was following the Egyptian custom by which all countries and towns which paid tribute to the Pharaoh, or who recognised his suzerainty, were made to, or might, figure on his triumphal lists whether they had been conquered or not: the presence of Megiddo or Mahanaim on the lists does not prove that they were conquered by Sheshonq, but that the prince to whom they owed allegiance was a tributary to the King of Egypt. The name of Jud-ham- melek, which occupies the twenty-ninth place on the list, was for a long time translated as king or kingdom of Judah, and passed for being a portrait of Rehoboam, which is impossible. The Hebrew name was read by W. Max Millier Jad- ham-meleh, the hand, the fort of the king. It appears to me to be more easy to see in it Jud-liam-meleh and to associate it with Jehudah, a town of the tribe of Dan, as Brugsch did long ago.
** Champollion identified Osorkon I. with the Zerah, who, according to 2 Chron. xiv.9-15, xvi.8, invaded Judah and was defeated by Asa, but this has no historic value, for it is clear that Osorkon never crossed the isthmus.
It does not appear, however, that either the Philistines, or Judah, or Israel, or any of the petty tribes which had momentarily gravitated around David and Solomon, were disposed to dispute Osorkon's claim, theoretic rather than real as it was. The sword of the stranger had finished the work which the intestine quarrel of the tribes had begun. If Rehoboam had ever formed the project of welding together the disintegrated elements of Israel, the taking of Jerusalem must have been a death-blow to his hopes. His arsenals were empty, his treasury at low ebb, and the prestige purchased by David's victories was effaced by the humiliation of his own defeat. The ease with which the edifice so laboriously constructed by the heroes of Benjamin and Judah had been overturned at the first shock, was a proof that the new possessors of Canaan were as little capable of barring the way to Egypt in her old age, as their predecessors had been when she was in her youth and vigour. The Philistines had had their day; it seemed by no means improbable at one time that they were about to sweep everything before them, from the Negeb to the Orontes, but their peculiar position in the furthest angle of the country, and their numerical weakness, prevented them from continuing their efforts for a prolonged period, and they were at length obliged to renounce in favour of the Hebrews their ambitious pretensions. The latter, who had been making steady progress for some half a century, had been successful where the Philistines had signally failed, and Southern Syria recognised their supremacy for the space of two generations. We can only conjecture what they might have done if a second David had led them into the valleys of the Orontes and Euphrates. They were stronger in numbers than their possible opponents, and their troops, strengthened by mercenary guards, would have perhaps triumphed over the more skilled but fewer warriors which the Amorite and Aramaean cities could throw into the field against them. The pacific reign of Solomon, the schism among the tribes, and the Egyptian invasion furnished evidence enough that they also were not destined to realise that solidarity which alone could secure them against the great Oriental empires when the day of attack came.
The two kingdoms were then enjoying an independent existence. Judah, in spite of its smaller numbers and its recent disaster, was not far behind the more extensive Israel in its resources. David, and afterwards Solomon, had so kneaded together the various elements of which it was composed -- Caleb, Cain, Jerahmeel and the Judsean clans -- that they had become a homogeneous mass, grouped around the capital and its splendid sanctuary, and actuated with feelings of profound admiration and strong fidelity for the family which had made them what they were. Misfortune had not chilled their zeal: they rallied round Rehoboam and his race with such a persistency that they were enabled to maintain their ground when their richer rivals had squandered their energies and fallen away before their eyes. Jeroboam, indeed, and his successors had never obtained from their people more than a precarious support and a lukewarm devotion: their authority was continually coming into conflict with a tendency to disintegration among the tribes, and they could only maintain their rule by the constant employment of force. Jeroboam had collected together from the garrisons scattered throughout the country the nucleus of an army, and had stationed the strongest of these troops in his residence at Tirzah when he did not require them for some expedition against Judah or the Philistines. His successors followed his example in this respect, but this military resource was only an ineffectual protection against the dangers which beset them. The kings were literally at the mercy of their guard, and their reign was entirely dependent on its loyalty or caprice: any unscrupulous upstart might succeed in suborning his comrades, and the stroke of a dagger might at any moment send the sovereign to join his ancestors, while the successful rebel reigned in his stead.* The Egyptian troops had no sooner set out on their homeward march, than the two kingdoms began to display their respective characteristics. An implacable and truceless war broke out between them. The frontier garrisons of the two nations fought with each other from one year's end to another -- carrying off each other's cattle, massacring one another, burning each other's villages and leading their inhabitants into slavery.**
* Among nineteen kings of Israel, eight were assassinated and were replaced by the captains of their guards -- Nadab, Elah, Zimri, Joram, Zachariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah.
** This is what is meant by the Hebrew historians when they say |there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life| (1 Kings xv.6; cf.2 Ohron. xii.15), and |between Abijam and Jeroboam| (1 Kings xv.7; 2 Ohron. xiii.2), and |between Asa and Baasha| (1 Kings xv.16, 32) |all their days.|
From time to time, when the situation became intolerable, one of the kings took the field in person, and began operations by attacking such of his enemy's strongholds as gave him the most trouble at the time. Ramah acquired an unenviable reputation in the course of these early conflicts: its position gave it command of the roads terminating in Jerusalem, and when it fell into the hands of Israel, the Judaean capital was blockaded on this side. The strife for its possession was always of a terrible character, and the party which succeeded in establishing itself firmly within it was deemed to have obtained a great success.*
* The campaign of Abijah at Mount Zemaraim (2 Chron. xiii.3-19), in which the foundation of the narrative and the geographical details seem fully historical. See also the campaign of Baasha against Ramah (1 Kings xv.17-22; cf.2 Chron. xvi.1-6).
The encounter of the armies did not, however, seem to produce much more serious results than those which followed the continual guerilla warfare along the frontier: the conqueror had no sooner defeated his enemy than he set to work to pillage the country in the vicinity, and, having accomplished this, returned promptly to his headquarters with the booty. Rehoboam, who had seen something of the magnificence of Solomon, tried to perpetuate the tradition of it in his court, as far as his slender revenues would permit him. He had eighteen women in his harem, among whom figured some of his aunts and cousins. The titular queen was Maacah, who was represented as a daughter of Absalom. She was devoted to the asheras, and the king was not behind his father in his tolerance of strange gods; the high places continued to be tolerated by him as sites of worship, and even Jerusalem was not free from manifestations of such idolatry as was associated with the old Canaanite religion. He reigned seventeen years, and was interred in the city of David;* Abijam, the eldest son of Maacah, succeeded him, and followed in his evil ways. Three years later Asa came to the throne,** no opposition being raised to his accession. In Israel matters did not go so smoothly. When Jeroboam, after a reign of twenty-two years, was succeeded by his son Nadab, about the year 905 B.C., it was soon evident that the instinct of loyalty to a particular dynasty had not yet laid any firm hold on the ten tribes. The peace between the Philistines and Israel was quite as unstable as that between Israel and Judah: an endless guerilla warfare was waged on the frontier, Gibbethon being made to play much the same part in this region as Ramah had done in regard to Jerusalem. For the moment it was in the hands of the Philistines, and in the second year of his reign Nadab had gone to lay siege to it in force, when he was assassinated in his tent by one of his captains, a certain Baasha, son of Ahijah, of the tribe of Issachar: the soldiers proclaimed the assassin king, and the people found themselves powerless to reject the nominee of the army.***
* 1 Kings xiv.22-24; cf.2 Chron. xi.18-23, where the details given in addition to those in the Booh of Kings seem to be of undoubted authenticity.
** 1 Kings xv.1-8; cf.2 Chron. xiii. The Booh of Kings describes his mother as Maacah, the daughter of Absalom (xv.10), which would seem to indicate that he was the brother and not the son of Abijam. The uncertainty on this point is of long standing, for the author of Chronicles makes Abijam's mother out in one place to be Micaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibcah (xiii.2), and in another (xi.20) Maacah, daughter of Absalom.
*** 1 Kings xv.27-34.
Baasha pressed forward resolutely his campaign against Judah. He seized Eamah and fortified it;* and Asa, feeling his incapacity to dislodge him unaided, sought to secure an ally. Egypt was too much occupied with its own internal dissensions to be able to render any effectual help, but a new power, which would profit quite as much as Judah by the overthrow of Israel, was beginning to assert itself in the north. Damascus had, so far, led an obscure and peaceful existence; it had given way before Egypt and Chaldaea whenever the Egyptians or Chaldseans had appeared within striking distance, but had refrained from taking any part in the disturbances by which Syria was torn asunder. Having been occupied by the Amorites, it threw its lot in with theirs, keeping, however, sedulously in the background: while the princes of Qodshu waged war against the Pharaohs, undismayed by frequent reverses, Damascus did not scruple to pay tribute to Thutmosis III. and his descendants, or to enter into friendly relations with them. Meanwhile the Amorites had been overthrown, and Qodshu, ruined by the Asiatic invasion, soon became little more than an obscure third-rate town;** the Aramaeans made themselves masters of Damascus about the XIIth century, and in their hands it continued to be, just as in the preceding epochs, a town without ambitions and of no great renown.
* 1 Kings xv.17; cf.2 Ghron. xvi.1.
** Qodshu is only once mentioned in the Bible (2 Sam. xxiv.6), in which passage its name, misunderstood by the Massoretic scribe, has been restored from the Septuagint text.
We have seen how the Aramaeans, alarmed at the sudden rise of the Hebrew dynasty, entered into a coalition against David with the Ammonite leaders: Zoba aspired to the chief place among the nations of Central Syria, but met with reverses, and its defeat delivered over to the Israelites its revolted dependencies in the Hauran and its vicinity, such as Maacah, Geshur, and even Damascus itself.* The supremacy was, however, shortlived; immediately after the death of David, a chief named Rezon undertook to free them from the yoke of the stranger. He had begun his military career under Hada-dezer, King of Zoba: when disaster overtook this leader and released him from his allegiance, he collected an armed force and fought for his own hand. A lucky stroke made him master of Damascus: he proclaimed himself king there, harassed the Israelites with impunity during the reign of Solomon, and took over the possessions of the kings of Zoba in the valleys of the Litany and the Orontes.** The rupture between the houses of Israel and Judah removed the only dangerous rival from his path, and Damascus became the paramount power in Southern and Central Palestine. While Judah and Israel wasted their strength in fratricidal struggles, Tabrimmon, and after him Benhadad I., gradually extended their territory in Coele-Syria;*** they conquered Hamath, and the desert valleys which extend north-eastward in the direction of the Euphrates, and forced a number of the Hittite kings to render them homage.
* Cf. what is said in regard to these events on pp.351, 352, supra.
** 1 Kings xi.23-25. The reading |Esron| in the Septuagint (1 Kings xi.23) indicates a form |Khezron,| by which it was sought to replace the traditional reading |Rezon.|
*** Hezion, whom the Jewish writer intercalates before Tabrimmon (1 Kings xv.18), is probably a corruption of Rezon; Winckler, relying on the Septuagint variants Azin or Azael (1 Kings xv.18), proposes to alter Hezion into Hazael, and inserts a certain Hazael I. in this place. Tabrimmon is only mentioned in 1 Kings xv.18, where he is said to have been the father of Benhadad.
They had concluded an alliance with Jeroboam as soon as he established his separate kingdom, and maintained the treaty with his successors, Nadab and Baasha. Asa collected all the gold and silver which was left in the temple of Jerusalem and in his own palace, and sent it to Benhadad, saying, |There is a league between me and thee, between thy father and my father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha, King of Israel, that he may depart from me.| It would seem that Baasha, in his eagerness to complete the fortifications of Ramah, had left his northern frontier undefended. Benhadad accepted the proposal and presents of the King of Judah, invaded Galilee, seized the cities of Ijon, Dan, and Abel-beth-Maacah, which defended the upper reaches of the Jordan and the Litany, the lowlands of Genesareth, and all the land of Naphtali. Baasha hastily withdrew from Judah, made terms with Benhadad, and settled down in Tirzah for the remainder of his reign;* Asa demolished Eamah, and built the strongholds of Gebah and Mizpah from its ruins.** Benhadad retained the territory he had acquired, and exercised a nominal sovereignty over the two Hebrew kingdoms. Baasha, like Jeroboam, failed to found a lasting dynasty; his son Blah met with the same fate at the hands of Zimri which he himself had meted out to Nadab. As on the former occasion, the army was encamped before Gibbethon, in the country of the Philistines, when the tragedy took place.
* 1 Kings xv.21, xvi.6.
** 1 Kings xv.18-22; of.2 Ghron. xvi.2-6.
Elah was at Tirzah, |drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, which was over the household;| Zimri, who was |captain of half his chariots,| left his post at the front, and assassinated him as he lay intoxicated. The whole family of Baasha perished in the subsequent confusion, but the assassin only survived by seven days the date of his crime. When the troops which he had left behind him in camp heard of what had occurred, they refused to accept him as king, and, choosing Omri in his place, marched against Tirzah. Zimri, finding it was impossible either to win them over to his side or defeat them, set fire to the palace, and perished in the flames. His death did not, however, restore peace to Israel; while one-half of the tribes approved the choice of the army, the other flocked to the standard of Tibni, son of Ginath. War raged between the two factions for four years, and was only ended by the death -- whether natural or violent we do not know -- of Tibni and his brother Joram.*
* 1 Kings xvi.8-22; Joram is not mentioned in the
Massoretic text, but his name appears in the Septuagint.
Two dynasties had thus arisen in Israel, and had been swept away by revolutionary outbursts, while at Jerusalem the descendants of David followed one another in unbroken succession. Asa outlived Nadab by eleven years, and we hear nothing of his relations with the neighbouring states during the latter part of his reign. We are merely told that his zeal in the service of the Lord was greater than had been shown by any of his predecessors. He threw down the idols, expelled their priests, and persecuted all those who practised the ancient religions. His grandmother Maacah |had made an abominable image for an asherah;| he cut it down, and burnt it in the valley of the Kedron, and deposed her from the supremacy in the royal household which she had held for three generations. He is, therefore, the first of the kings to receive favourable mention from the orthodox chroniclers of later times, and it is stated that he |did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father.|* Omri proved a warlike monarch, and his reign, though not a long one, was signalised by a decisive crisis in the fortunes of Israel.** The northern tribes had, so far, possessed no settled capital, Shechem, Penuel, and Tirzah having served in turn as residences for the successors of Jeroboam and Baasha. Latterly Tirzah had been accorded a preference over its rivals; but Zimri had burnt the castle there, and the ease with which it had been taken and retaken was not calculated to reassure the head of the new dynasty. Omri turned his attention to a site lying a little to the north-west of Shechem and Mount Ebal, and at that time partly covered by the hamlet of Shomeron or Shimron -- our modern Samaria.***
* 1 Kings xv.11; cf.2 Ohron. xiv.2. It is admitted, however, though without any blame being attached to him, that |the high places were not taken away| (1 Kings xv.14; cf.2 Chron. xv.17).
** The Hebrew writer gives the length of his reign as twelve years (1 Kings xvi.23). Several historians consider this period too brief, and wish to extend it to twenty-four years; I cannot, however, see that there is, so far, any good reason for doubting the approximate accuracy of the Bible figures.
*** According to the tradition preserved in 1 Kings xvi.24, the name of the city comes from Shomer, the man from whom Ahab bought the site.
His choice was a wise and judicious one, as the rapid development of the city soon proved. It lay on the brow of a rounded hill, which rose in the centre of a wide and deep depression, and was connected by a narrow ridge with the surrounding mountains. The valley round it is fertile and well watered, and the mountains are cultivated up to their summits; throughout the whole of Ephraim it would have been difficult to find a site which could compare with it in strength or attractiveness. Omri surrounded his city with substantial ramparts; he built a palace for himself, and a temple in which was enthroned a golden calf similar to those at Dan and Bethel.* A population drawn from other nations besides the Israelites flocked into this well-defended stronghold, and Samaria soon came to be for Israel what Jerusalem already was for Judah, an almost impregnable fortress, in which the sovereign entrenched himself, and round which the nation could rally in times of danger. His contemporaries fully realised the importance of this move on Omri's part; his name became inseparably connected in their minds with that of Israel. Samaria and the house of Joseph were for them, henceforth, the house of Omri, Bit-Omri, and the name still clung to them long after Omri had died and his family had become extinct.**
* Amos viii.14, where the sin of Samaria, coupled as it is with the life of the god of Dan and the way of Beersheba, can, as Wellhausen points out, only refer to the image of the calf worshipped at Samaria.
** Shalmaneser II. even goes so far as to describe Jehu, who exterminated the family of Omri, as Jaua ahal Khumri, |Jehu, son of Omri.|
He gained the supremacy over Judah, and forced several of the south-western provinces, which had been in a state of independence since the days of Solomon, to acknowledge his rule; he conquered the country of Medeba, vanquished Kamoshgad, King of Moab, and imposed on him a heavy tribute in sheep and wool.* Against Benhadad in the north-west he was less fortunate. He was forced to surrender to him several of the cities of Gilead -- among others Bamoth-gilead, which commanded the fords over the Jabbok and Jordan.**
* Inscription of Meslia, 11.5-7; cf.2 Kings iii.4.
** 1 Kings xx.34. No names are given in the text, but external evidence proves that they were cities of Persea, and that Ramoth-gilead was one of them.
[Illustration: 432.jpg THE HILL OF SAMARIA]
Drawn by Boudier, from photograph No.2G of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
He even set apart a special quarter in Samaria for the natives of Damascus, where they could ply their trades and worship their gods without interference. It was a kind of semi-vassalage, from which he was powerless to free himself unaided: he realised this, and looked for help from without; he asked and obtained the hand of Jezebel, daughter of Bthbaal, King of the Sidonians, for Ahab, his heir. Hiram I., the friend of David, had carried the greatness of Tyre to its highest point; after his death, the same spirit of discord which divided the Hebrews made its appearance in Phoenicia. The royal power was not easily maintained over this race of artisans and sailors: Baalbazer, son of Hiram, reigned for six years, and his successor, Abdastart, was killed in a riot after a still briefer enjoyment of power. We know how strong was the influence exercised by foster-mothers in the great families of the Bast; the four sons of Abda-start's nurse assassinated their foster-brother, and the eldest of them usurped his crown. Supported by the motley crowd of slaves and adventurers which filled the harbours of Phoenicia, they managed to cling to power for twelve years. Their stupid and brutal methods of government produced most disastrous results. A section of the aristocracy emigrated to the colonies across the sea and incited them to rebellion; had this state of things lasted for any time, the Tyrian empire would have been doomed. A revolution led to the removal of the usurper and the restoration of the former dynasty, but did not bring back to the unfortunate city the tranquillity which it sorely needed. The three surviving sons of Baalbezer, Methuastarfc, Astarym, and Phelles followed one another on the throne in rapid succession, the last-named perishing by the hand of his cousin Ethbaal, after a reign of eight months. So far, the Israelites had not attempted to take advantage of these dissensions, but there was always the danger lest one of their kings, less absorbed than his predecessors in the struggle with Judah, might be tempted by the wealth of Phoenicia to lay hands on it. Ethbaal, therefore, eagerly accepted the means of averting this danger by an alliance with the new dynasty offered to him by Omri.*
* 1 Kings xvi.31, where the historian has Hebraicised the Phonician name Ittobaal into |Ethbaal,| |Baal is with him.| Izebel or Jezebel seems to be an abbreviated form of some name like Baalezbel.
The presence of a Phonician princess at Samaria seems to have had a favourable effect on the city and its inhabitants. The tribes of Northern and Central Palestine had, so far, resisted the march of material civilization which, since the days of Solomon, had carried Judah along with it; they adhered, as a matter of principle, to the rude and simple customs of their ancestors. Jezebel, who from her cradle had been accustomed to all the luxuries and refinements of the Phoenician court, was by no means prepared to dispense with them in her adopted country. By their contact with her, the Israelites -- at any rate, the upper and middle classes of them -- acquired a certain degree of polish; the royal office assumed a more dignified exterior, and approached more nearly the splendours of the other Syrian monarchies, such as those of Damascus, Hamath, Sidon, Tyre, and even Judah.
Unfortunately, the effect of this material progress was marred by a religious difficulty. Jezebel had been brought up by her father, the high priest of the Sidonian Astarte, as a rigid believer in his faith, and she begged Ahab to permit her to celebrate openly the worship of her national deities. Ere long the Tyrian Baal was installed at Samaria with his asherah, and his votaries had their temples and sacred groves to worship in: their priests and prophets sat at the king's table. Ahab did not reject the God of his ancestors in order to embrace the religion of his wife -- a reproach which was afterwards laid to his door; he remained faithful to Him, and gave the children whom he had by Jezebel names compounded with that of Jahveh, such as Ahaziah, Joram, and Athaliah.*
* 1 Kings xvi.31-33. Ahaziah and Joram mean respectively |whom Jahveh sustaineth,| and |Jahveh is exalted.| Athaliah may possibly be derived from a Phoenician form, Ailialith or Athlifh, into which the name of Jahveh does not enter.
This was not the first instance of such tolerance in the history of the Israelites: Solomon had granted a similar liberty of conscience to all his foreign wives, and neither Rehoboam nor Abijam had opposed Maacah in her devotion to the Canaanitish idols. But the times were changing, and the altar of Baal could no longer be placed side by side with that of Jahveh without arousing fierce anger and inexorable hatred. Scarce a hundred years had elapsed since the rupture between the tribes, and already one-half of the people were unable to understand how place could be found in the breast of a true Israelite for any other god but Jahveh: Jahveh alone was Lord, for none of the deities worshipped by foreign races under human or animal shapes could compare with Him in might and holiness. From this to the repudiation of all those practices associated with exotic deities, such as the use of idols of wood or metal, the anointing of isolated boulders or circles of rocks, the offering up of prisoners or of the firstborn, was but a step: Asa had already furnished an example of rigid devotion in Judah, and there were many in Israel who shared his views and desired to imitate him. The opposition to what was regarded as apostasy on the part of the king did not come from the official priesthood; the sanctuaries at Dan, at Bethel, at Shiloh, and at Gilgal were prosperous in spite of Jezebel, and this was enough for them. But the influence of the prophets had increased marvellously since the rupture between the kingdoms, and at the very beginning of his reign Ahab was unwise enough to outrage their sense of justice by one of his violent acts: in a transport of rage he had slain a certain Naboth, who had refused to let him have his vineyard in order that he might enlarge the grounds of the palace he was building for himself at Jezreel.* The prophets, as in former times, were divided into schools, the head of each being called its father, the members bearing the title of |the sons of the prophets;| they dwelt in a sort of monastery, each having his own cell, where they ate together, performed their devotional exercises or assembled to listen to the exhortations of their chief prophets:** nor did their sacred office prevent them from marrying.***
* 1 Kings xxi., where the later tradition throws nearly all the blame on Jezebel; whereas in the shorter account, in 2 Kings ix.25, 26, it is laid entirely on Ahab.
** In 1 Sam. xix.20, a passage which seems to some to be a later interpolation, mentions a |company of the prophets, prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them.| Cf.2 Kings vi.1-7, where the narrative introduces a congregation of prophets grouped round Elisha.
*** 2 Kings iv.1-7, where an account is given of the miracle worked by Elisha on behalf of |a woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets.|
As a rule, they settled near one of the temples, and lived there on excellent terms with the members of the regular priesthood. Accompanied by musical instruments, they chanted the songs in which the poets of other days extolled the mighty deeds of Jahveh, and obtained from this source the incidents of the semi-religious accounts which they narrated concerning the early history of the people; or, when the spirit moved them, they went about through the land prophesying, either singly, or accompanied by a disciple, or in bands.* The people thronged round them to listen to their hymns or their stories of the heroic age: the great ones of the land, even kings themselves, received visits from them, and endured their reproaches or exhortations with mingled feelings of awe and terror. A few of the prophets took the part of Ahab and Jezebel,** but the majority declared against them, and of these, the most conspicuous, by his forcibleness of speech and action, was Elijah. We do not know of what race or family he came, nor even what he was:*** the incidents of his life which have come down to us seem to be wrapped in a vague legendary grandeur. He appears before Ahab, and tells him that for years to come no rain or dew shall fall on the earth save by his command, and then takes flight into the desert in order to escape the king's anger.
* 1 Sam. x.5, where a band of prophets is mentioned |coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a timbrel, and a pipe, and a harp, before them, prophesying;| cf. ver.10. In 2 Kings ii.3-5, bands of the |children of the prophets| come out from Bethel and Jericho to ask Elisha if he knows the fate which awaits Elijah on that very day.
** Cf. the anonymous prophet who encourages Ahab, in the name of Jahveh, to surprise the camp of Benhadad before Samaria (1 Kings xx.13-15, 22-25, 28); and the prophet Zedekiah, who gives advice contrary to that of his fellow- prophet Micaiah in the council of war held by Ahab with Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, before the attack on Ramobh- gilead (1 Kings xxii.11, 12, 24).
*** The ethnical inscription, |Tishbite,| which we find after his name (1 Kings xvii.1, xxi.17), is due to an error on the part of the copyist.
He is there ministered unto by ravens, which bring him bread and meat every night and morning. When the spring from which he drinks dries up, he goes to the house of a widow at Zarephath in the country of Sidon, and there he lives with his hostess for twelve months on a barrel of meal and a cruse of oil which never fail. The widow's son dies suddenly: he prays to Jahveh and restores him to life; then, still guided by an inspiration from above, he again presents himself before the king. Ahab receives him without resentment, assembles the prophets of Baal, brings them face to face with Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel, and orders them to put an end to the drought by which his kingdom is wasted. The Phoenicians erect an altar and call upon their Baalim with loud cries, and gash their arms and bodies with knives, yet cannot bring about the miracle expected of them. Elijah, after mocking at their cries and contortions, at last addresses a prayer to Jahveh, and fire comes down from heaven and consumes the sacrifice in a moment; the people, convinced by the miracle, fall upon the idolaters and massacre them, and the rain shortly afterwards falls in torrents. After this triumph he is said to have fled once more for safety to the desert, and there on Horeb to have had a divine vision. |And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that He wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, 'What doest thou here, Elijah?'| God then commanded him to anoint Hazael as King of Syria, and Jehu, son of Nimshi, as King over Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat, as prophet in his stead, |and him that escapeth from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.| The sacred writings go on to tell us that the prophet who had held such close converse with the Deity was exempt from the ordinary laws of humanity, and was carried to heaven in a chariot of fire. The account that has come down to us shows the impression of awe left by Elijah on the spirit of his age.*
Ahab was one of the most warlike among the warrior-kings of Israel. He ruled Moab with a strong hand,** kept Judah in subjection,*** and in his conflict with Damascus experienced alternately victory and honourable defeat. Hadadidri [Hadadezer], of whom the Hebrew historians make a second Benhadad,**** had succeeded the conqueror of Baasha.^
* The story of Elijah is found in 1 Kings xvii.-xix., xxi.17-29, and 2 Kings i., ii.1-14.
** Inscription of Mesha, 11.7, 8.
*** The subordination of Judah is nowhere explicitly mentioned: it is inferred from the attitude adopted by Jehoshaphat in presence of Ahab (1 Kings xxii.1, et seq.).
**** The Assyrian texts call this Dadidri, Adadidri, which exactly corresponds to the Plebrew form Hadadezer.
^ The information in the Booh of Kings does not tell us at what time during the reign of Ahab his first wars with Hadadezer (Benhadad II.) and the siege of Samaria occurred. The rapid success of Shalmaneser's campaigns against Damascus, between 854 and 839 B.C., does not allow us to place these events after the invasion of Assyria. Ahab appears, in 854, at the battle of Karkar, as the ally of Benhadad, as I shall show later.
The account of his campaigns in the Hebrew records has only reached us in a seemingly condensed and distorted condition. Israel, strengthened by the exploits of Omri, must have offered him a strenuous resistance, but we know nothing of the causes, nor of the opening scenes of the drama. When the curtain is lifted, the preliminary conflict is over, and the Israelites, closely besieged in Samaria, have no alternative before them but unconditional surrender. This was the first serious attack the city had sustained, and its resistance spoke well for the military foresight of its founder. In Benhadad's train were thirty-two kings, and horses and chariots innumerable, while his adversary could only oppose to them seven thousand men. Ahab was willing to treat, but the conditions proposed were so outrageous that he broke off the negotiations. We do not know how long the blockade had lasted, when one day the garrison made a sortie in full daylight, and fell upon the Syrian camp; the enemy were panic-stricken, and Benhadad with difficulty escaped on horseback with a handful of men. He resumed hostilities in the following year, but instead of engaging the enemy in the hill-country of Ephraim, where his superior numbers brought him no advantage, he deployed his lines on the plain of Jezreel, near the town of Aphek. His servants had counselled him to change his tactics: |The God of the Hebrews is a God of the hills, therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.| The advice, however, proved futile, for he sustained on the open plain a still more severe defeat than he had met with in the mountains, and the Hebrew historians affirm that he was taken prisoner during the pursuit. The power of Damascus was still formidable, and the captivity of its king had done little to bring the war to an end; Ahab, therefore, did not press his advantage, but received the Syrian monarch |as a brother,| and set him at liberty after concluding with him an offensive and defensive alliance. Israel at this time recovered possession of some of the cities which had been lost under Baasha and Omri, and the Israelites once more enjoyed the right to occupy a particular quarter of Damascus. According to the Hebrew account, this was the retaliation they took for their previous humiliations. It is further stated, in relation to this event, that a certain man of the sons of the prophets, speaking by the word of the Lord, bade one of his companions smite him. Having received a wound, he disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes, and placed himself in the king's path, |and as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver. And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the King of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself has decided it. Then he hasted, and took the headband away from his eyes, and the King of Israel discerned him that he was one of the prophets. And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. And the King of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.| This story was in accordance with the popular feeling, and Ahab certainly ought not to have paused till he had exterminated his enemy, could he have done so; but was this actually in his power?
We have no reason to contest the leading facts in this account, or to doubt that Benhadad suffered some reverses before Samaria; but we may perhaps ask whether the check was as serious as we are led to believe, and whether imagination and national vanity did not exaggerate its extent and results. The fortresses of Persea which, according to the treaty, ought to have been restored to Israel, remained in the hands of the people of Damascus, and the loss of Ramoth-gilead continued to be a source of vexation to such of the tribes of Gad and Reuben as followed the fortunes of the house of Omri:* yet these places formed the most important part of Benhadad's ransom.
* |And the King of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the King of Syria?|
The sole effect of Ahab's success was to procure for him more lenient treatment; he lost no territory, and perhaps gained a few towns, but he had to sign conditions of peace which made him an acknowledged vassal to the King of Syria.*
* No document as yet proves directly that Ahab was vassal to Benhadad II. The fact seems to follow clearly enough from the account of the battle of Karkar against Shalmaneser II., where the contingent of Ahab of Israel figures among those of the kings who fought for Benhadad II. against the Assyrians.
Damascus still remained the foremost state of Syria, and, if we rightly interpret the scanty information we possess, seemed in a fair way to bring about that unification of the country which neither Hittites, Philistines, nor Hebrews had been able to effect. Situated nearly equidistant from Raphia and Carchemish, on the outskirts of the cultivated region, the city was protected in the rear by the desert, which secured it from invasion on the east and north-east; the dusty plains of the Hauran protected it on the south, and the wooded cliffs of Anti-Lebanon on the west and north-west. It was entrenched within these natural barriers as in a fortress, whence the garrison was able to sally forth at will to attack in force one or other of the surrounding nations: if the city were victorious, its central position made it easy for its rulers to keep watch over and preserve what they had won; if it suffered defeat, the surrounding mountains and deserts formed natural lines of fortification easy to defend against the pursuing foe, but very difficult for the latter to force, and the delay presented by this obstacle gave the inhabitants time to organise their reserves and bring fresh troops into the field. The kings of Damascus at the outset brought under their suzerainty the Aramaean principalities -- Argob, Maacah, and Geshur, by which they controlled the Hauran, and Zobah, which secured to them Coele-Syria from Lake Huleh to the Bahr el-Kades. They had taken Upper Galilee from the Hebrews, and subsequently Perasa, as far as the Jabbok, and held in check Israel and the smaller states, Amnion and Moab, which followed in its wake. They exacted tribute from Hamath, the Phoenician Arvad, the lower valley of the Orontes, and from a portion of the Hittites, and demanded contingents from their princes in time of war. Their power was still in its infancy, and its elements were not firmly welded together, but the surrounding peoples were in such a state of weakness and disunion that they might be left out of account as formidable enemies. The only danger that menaced the rising kingdom was the possibility that the two ancient warlike nations, Egypt and Assyria, might shake off their torpor, and reappearing on the scene of their former prowess might attack her before she had consolidated her power by the annexation of Naharaim.
END OF VOL. VI.