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  • JOSEPHUS' WRITINGS - BOOK 7, CH. 15
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    WHAT CHARGE DAVID GAVE TO HIS SON SOLOMON AT THE APPROACH OF HIS DEATH, AND HOW MANY THINGS HE LEFT HIM FOR THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.

    1. A LITTLE afterward David also fell into a distemper, by reason of his age; and perceiving that he was near to death, he called his son Solomon, and discoursed to him thus: "I am now, O my son, going to my grave, and to my fathers, which is the common way which all men that now are, or shall be hereafter, must go; from which way it is no longer possible to return, and to know any thing that is done in this world. On which account I exhort thee, while I am still alive, though already very near to death, in the same manner as I have formerly said in my advice to thee, to be righteous towards thy subjects, and religious towards God, that hath given thee thy kingdom; to observe his commands and his laws, which he hath sent us by Moses; and neither do thou out of favor nor flattery allow any lust or other passion to weigh with thee to disregard them; for if thou transgressest his laws, thou wilt lose the favor of God, and thou wilt turn away his providence from thee in all things; but if thou behave thyself so as it behooves thee, and as I exhort thee, thou wilt preserve our kingdom to our family, and no other house will bear rule over the Hebrews but we ourselves for all ages. Be thou also mindful of the transgressions of Joab, (26) the captain of the host, who hath slain two generals out of envy, and those righteous and good men, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether; whose death do thou avenge as shall seem good to thee, since Joab hath been too hard for me, and more potent than myself, and so hath escaped punishment hitherto. I also commit to thee the son of Barzillai the Gileadite, whom, in order to gratify me, thou shalt have in great honor, and take great care of; for we have not done good to him first, but we only repay that debt which we owe to his father for what he did to me in my flight. There is also Shimei the son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin, who, after he had cast many reproaches upon me, when, in my flight, I was going to Mahanaim, met me at Jordan, and received assurances that he should then suffer nothing. Do thou now seek out for some just occasion, and punish him."

    2. When David had given these admonitions to his son about public affairs, and about his friends, and about those whom he knew to deserve punishment, he died, having lived seventy years, and reigned seven years and six months in Hebron over the tribe of Judah, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem over all the country. This man was of an excellent character, and was endowed with all virtues that were desirable in a king, and in one that had the preservation of so many tribes committed to him; for he was a man of valor in a very extraordinary degree, and went readily and first of all into dangers, when he was to fight for his subjects, as exciting the soldiers to action by his own labors, and fighting for them, and not by commanding them in a despotic way. He was also of very great abilities in understanding, and apprehension of present and future circumstances, when he was to manage any affairs. He was prudent and moderate, and kind to such as were under any calamities; he was righteous and humane, which are good qualities, peculiarly fit for kings; nor was he guilty of any offense in the exercise of so great an authority, but in the business of the wife of Uriah. He also left behind him greater wealth than any other king, either of the Hebrews or, of other nations, ever did.

    3. He was buried by his son Solomon, in Jerusalem, with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomp which kings used to be buried with; moreover, he had great and immense wealth buried with him, the vastness of which may be easily conjectured at by what I shall now say; for a thousand and three hundred years afterward Hyrcanus the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, that was called the Pious, the son of Demetrius, and was desirous of giving him money to get him to raise the siege and draw off his army, and having no other method of compassing the money, opened one room of David's sepulcher, and took out three thousand talents, and gave part of that sum to Antiochus; and by this means caused the siege to be raised, as we have informed the reader elsewhere. Nay, after him, and that many years, Herod the king opened another room, and took away a great deal of money, and yet neither of them came at the coffins of the kings themselves, for their bodies were buried under the earth so artfully, that they did not appear to even those that entered into their monuments. But so much shall suffice us to have said concerning these matters.

    ENDNOTE

    (1) It ought to be here noted, that Joab, Abishai, and Asahel were all three David's nephews, the sons of his sister Zeraiah, as 1 Chronicles 2:16; and that Amasa was also his nephew by his other sister Abigail, ver. 17. (2) This may be a true observation of Josephus's, that Samuel by command from God entailed the crown on David and his posteerity; for no further did that entail ever reach, Solomon himself having never had any promise made him that his posterity should always have the right to it. (3) These words of Josephus concerning the tribe of Issachar, who foreknew what was to come hereafter," are best paraphrased by the parallel text. 1 Chronicles 12:32, "Who had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do;" that is, who had so much knowledge in astronomy as to make calendars for the Israelites, that they might keep their festivals, and plough and sow, and gather in their harvests and vintage, in due season. (4) What our other copies say of Mount Sion, as alone properly called the city of David, 2 Samuel 5:6-9, and of this its siege and conquest now by David, Josephus applies to the whole city Jerusalem, though including the citadel also; by what authority we do not now know perhaps, after David had united them together, or joined the citadel to the lower city, as sect. 2, Josephus esteemed them as one city. However, this notion seems to be confirmed by what the same Josephus says concerning David's and many other kings of Judah's sepulchers, which as the authors of the books of Kings and Chronicles say were in the city of David, so does Josephus still say they were in Jerusalem. The sepulcher of David seems to have been also a known place in the several days of Hyrcanus, of Herod, and of St. Peter, Antiq. B. XIII. ch. 8. sect. 4 B. XVI. ch. 8. sect. 1; Acts 2:29. Now no such royal sepulchers have been found about Mount Sion, but are found close by the north wall of Jerusalem, which I suspect, therefore, to be these very sepulchers. See the note on ch. 15. sect. 3. In the meantime, Josephus's explication of the lame, and the blind, and the maimed, as set to keep this city or citadel, seems to be the truth, and gives the best light to that history in our Bible. Mr. Ottius truly observes, (up. Hayercamp, p. 305,) that Josephus never mentions Mount Sion by that name, as taking it for an appellative, as I suppose, and not for a proper name; he still either styles it The Citadel, or The Upper City; nor do I see any reason for Mr. Ottius's evil suspicions about this procedure of Josephus. (5) Some copies of Josephus have here Solyma, or Salem; and others Hierosolyma, or Jerusalem. The latter best agree to what Josephus says elsewhere, (Of the War, B. VI. ch. 10.,) that this city was called Solyma, or Salem, before the days of Melchisedec, but was by him called Hierosolyma, or Jerusalem. I rather suppose it to have been so called after Abraham had received that oracle Jehovah Jireh, "The Lord will see, or provide," Genesis 22;14. The latter word, Jireh, with a little alteration, prefixed to the old name Salem, Peace, will be Jerusalem; and since that expression, "God will see," or rather, "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering," ver. 8, 14, is there said to have been proverbial till the days of Moses, this seems to me the most probable derivation of that name, which will then denote that God would provide peace by that "Lamb of God which was to take away the sins of the world." However, that which is put into brackets can hardly be supposed the genuine words of Josephus, as Dr. Hudson well judges. (6) It deserves here to be remarked, that Saul very rarely, and David very frequently, consulted God by Urim; and that David aimed always to depend, not on his own prudence or abilities but on the Divine direction, contrary to Saul's practice. See sect. 2, and the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 8. sect. 9; and when Saul's daughter, (but David's wife,) Michal, laughed at David's dancing before the ark, 2 Samuel 6:16, etc.., and here, sect. l, 2, 3, it is probable she did so, because her father Saul did not use to pay such a regard to the ark, to the Urim there inquired by, or to God's worship before it, and because she thought it beneath the dignity of a king to be so religious. (7) Josephus seems to be partly in the right, when he observes here that Uzzah was no priest, (though perhaps he might be a Levite,) and was therefore struck dead for touching the ark, contrary to the law, and for which profane rashness death was the penalty by that law, Numbers 4:15, 20. See the like before, Antiq. B. VI. ch. 1. sect. 4. It is not improbable that the putting this ark in a cart, when it ought to have been carried by the priests or Levites, as it was presently here in Josephus so carried from Obededom's house to David's, might be also an occasion of the anger of God on that breach of his law. See Numbers 4:15; 1 Chronicles 15:13. (8) Josephus here informs us, that, according to his understanding of the sense of his copy of the Pentateuch, Moses had himself foretold the building of the temple, which yet is no where, that I know of, in our present copies. And that this is not a mistake set down by him unwarily, appears by what he observed before, on Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 46, how Moses foretold that, upon the Jews' future disobedience, their temple should be burnt and rebuilt, and that not once only, but several times afterward. See also Josephus's mention of God's former commands to build such a temple presently, ch. 14. sect. 2, contrary to our other copies, or at least to our translation of the Hebrew, 2 Samuel 7:6, 7; 1 Chronicles 17:5, 6. (9) Josephus seems, in this place, with our modern interpreters to confound the two distinct predictions which God made to David and to Nathan, concerning the building him a temple by one of David's posterity; the one belongeth to Solomon, the other to the Messiah; the distinction between which is of the greatest consequence to the Christian religion. (10) Whether Syria Zobah, 2 Samuel 3:8; 1 Chronicles 18:3-8, be Sophene, as Josephus here supposes; which yet Ptolemy places beyond Euphrates, as Dr. Hudson observes here, whereas Zobah was on this side; or whether Josephus was not here guilty of a mistake in his geography; I cannot certainly determine. (11) David's reserving only one hundred chariots for himself out of one thousand he had taken from Hadadezer, was most probably in compliance with the law of Moses, which forbade a king of Israel "to multiply horses to himself," Deuteronomy 17:16; one of the principal uses of horses in Judea at that time being for drawing their chariots. See Joshua 12:6; and Antiq. B. V. ch. 1. sect. 18. It deserves here to be remarked, that this Hadad, being a very great king, was conquered by David, whose posterity yet for several generations were called Benhadad, or the son of Hadad, till the days of Hazael, whose son Adar or Ader is also in our Hebrew copy (2 Kings 13:24) written Benhadad, but in Josephus Adad or Adar. And strange it is, that the son of Hazael, said to be such in the same text, and in Josephus, Antiq. B. IX. ch. 8. sect. 7, should still be called the son of Hadad. I would, therefore, here correct our Hebrew copy from Josephus's, which seems to have the true reading. nor does the testimony of Nicolaus of Damascus, produced in this place by Josephus, seem to be faultless, when it says that he was the third of the Hadads, or second of the Benhadads, who besieged Samaria in the days of Ahab. He must rather have been the seventh or eighth, if there were ten in all of that name, as we are assured there were. For this testimony makes all the Hadads or Benhadads of the same line, and to have immediately succeeded one another; whereas Hazael was not of that line, nor is he called Hadad or Benhadad in any copy. And note, that from this Hadad, in the days of David, to the beginning of Hazael, were near two hundred years, according to the exactest chronology of Josephus. (12) By this great victory over the Idameans or Edomites, the posterity of Esau, and by the consequent tribute paid by that nation to the Jews, were the prophecies delivered to Rebecca before Jacob and Esau were born, and by old Isaac before his death, that the elder, Esau, (or the Edomites,) should serve and the younger, Jacob, (or the Israelites,) and Jacob (or the Israelites) should be Esau's (or the Edomites') lord, remarkably fulfilled. See Antiq. B. VIII. ch 7. sect. 6; Genesis 25;9,3; and the notes on Antiq. B. I. ch. 18. sect. 5, 6. (13) That a talent of gold was about seven pounds weight, see the description of the temple ch. 13. Nor could Josephus well estimate it higher, since he here says that David wore it on his head perpetually. (14) Whether Josephus saw the words of our copies, 2 Samuel 12:31, and 1 Chronicles 20:3, that David put the inhabitants, or at least the garrison of Rabbah, and of the other Ammonite cities, which he besieged and took, under, or cut them with saws, and under, or with harrows of iron, and under, or with axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln, is not here directly expressed. If he saw them, as is most probable he did, he certainly expounded them of tormenting these Ammonites to death, who were none of those seven nations of Canaan whose wickedness had rendered them incapable of mercy; otherwise I should be inclinable to think that the meaning, at least as the words are in Samuel, might only be this: That they were made the lowest slaves, to work in sawing of timber or stone, in harrowing the fields, in hewing timber, in making and burning bricks, and the like hard services, but without taking away their lives. We never elsewhere, that I remember, meet with such methods of cruelty in putting men to death in all the Bible, or in any other ancient history whatever; nor do the words in Samuel seem naturally to refer to any such thing. (15) Of this weight of Absalom's hair, how in twenty or thirty years it might well amount to two hundred shekels, or to somewhat above six pounds avoirdupois, see the Literal Accomplishment of Prophecies, p. 77, 78. But a late very judicious author thinks that the LXXX. meant not its weight, but its value, Was twenty shekels. - Dr. Wall's Critical Notes on the Old Testament, upon 2 Samuel 14:26. It does not appear what was Josephus's opinion: he sets the text down honestly as he found it in his copies, only he thought that "at the end of days," when Absalom polled or weighed his hair, was once a week. (16) This is one of the best corrections that Josephus's copy affords us of a text that in our ordinary copies is grossly corrupted. They say that this rebellion of Absalom was forty years after what went before, (of his reconciliation to his father,) whereas the series of the history shows it could not be more than four years after it, as here in Josephus; whose number is directly confirmed by that copy of the Septuagint version whence the Armenian translation was made, which gives us the small number of four years. (17) This reflection of Josephus's, that God brought to nought the dangerous counsel of Ahithophel, and directly infatuated wicked Absalom to reject it, (which infatuation is what the Scripture styles the judicial hardening the hearts and blinding the eyes of men, who, by their former voluntary wickedness, have justly deserved to be destroyed, and are thereby brought to destruction,) is a very just one, and in him not unfrequent. Nor does Josephus ever puzzle himself, or perplex his readers, with subtle hypotheses as to the manner of such judicial infatuations by God, while the justice of them is generally so obvious. That peculiar manner of the Divine operations, or permissions, or the means God makes use of in such cases, is often impenetrable by us. "Secret things belong to the Lord our God; but those things that are revealed belong to us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law," Deuteronomy 29:29. Nor have all the subtleties of the moderns, as far as I see, given any considerable light in this, and many other the like points of difficulty relating either to Divine or human operations.--See the notes on Antiq. B. V ch. 1. sect. 2; and Antiq. B. IX. ch. 4. sect. 3. (18) Those that take a view of my description of the gates of the temple, will not be surprised at this account of David's throne, both here and 2 Samuel 18:21, that it was between two gates or portals. Gates being in cities, as well as at the temple, large open places, with a portal at the entrance, and another at the exit, between which judicial causes were heard, and public consultations taken, as is well known from several places of Scripture, 2 Chronicles 31:2; Psalm 9:14; 137:5; Proverbs 1:21; 8:3, 31; 31:23, and often elsewhere. (19) Since David was now in Mahanairn, and in the open place of that city gate, which seems still to have been built the highest of any part of the wall, and since our other copies say he went up to the chamber over the gate, 2 Samuel 18:33, I think we ought to correct our present reading in Josephus, and for city, should read gate, i.e. instead of the highest part of the city, should say the highest part of the gate. Accordingly we find David presently, in Josephus, as well as in our other copies, 2 Samuel 19:8, sitting as before, in the gate of the city. (20) By David's disposal of half Mephibosheth's estate to Ziba, one would imagine that he was a good deal dissatisfied, and doubtful whether Mephibosheth's story were entirely true or not; nor does David now invite him to diet with him, as he did before, but only forgives him, if he had been at all guilty. Nor is this odd way of mourning that Mephibosheth made use of here, and 2 Samuel 19:24, wholly free from suspicion by hypocrisy. If Ziba neglected or refused to bring Mephibosheh an ass of his own, on which he might ride to David, it is half to suppose that so great a man as he was should not be able to procure some other beast for the same purpose. (21) I clearly prefer Josephus's reading here, when it supposes eleven tribes, including Benjamin, to be on the one side, and the tribe of Judah alone on the other, since Benjamin, in general, had been still father of the house of Saul, and less firm to David hitherto, than any of the rest, and so cannot be supposed to be joined with Judah at this time, to make it double, especially when the following rebellion was headed by a Benjamite. See sect. 6, and 2 Samuel 20:2, 4. (22) This section is a very remarkable one, and shows that, in the opinion of Josephus, David composed the Book of Psalms, not at several times before, as their present inscriptions frequently imply, but generally at the latter end of his life, or after his wars were over. Nor does Josephus, nor the authors of the known books of the Old and New Testament, nor the Apostolical Constitutions, seem to have ascribed any of them to any other author than to David himself. See Essay on the Old Testament, pages 174, 175. Of these metres of the Psalms, see the note on Antiq. B. II. ch. 16. sect. 4. (23) The words of God by Moses, Exodus 30:12, sufficiently satisfy the reason here given by Josephus for the great plague mentioned in this chapter: - "When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague amongst them, when numberest them." Nor indeed could David's or the neglect of executing this law at this numeration of half a shekel apiece with them, when they came numbered. The great reason why nations are so committed by and with their wicked kings and governors that they almost constantly comply with them in their of or disobedience to the Divine laws, and suffer Divine laws to go into disuse or contempt, in order to kings and governors; and that they sub-political laws and commands of those governors, instead of the righteous laws of God, which all mankind ought ever to obey, let their kings and governors say what they please to the contrary; this preference of human before Divine laws seeming to me the principal character of idolatrous or antichristian nations. Accordingly, Josephus well observes, Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 17, that it was the duty of the people of Israel to take care that their kings, when they should have them, did not exceed their proper limits of power, and prove ungovernable by the laws of God, which would certainly be a most destructive thing to their Divine settlement. Nor do I think that negligence peculiar to the Jews: those nations which are called Christians, are sometimes indeed very solicitous to restrain their kings and governors from breaking the human laws of their several kingdoms, but without the like care for restraining them from breaking the laws of God. "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto men more than to God, judge ye," Acts 4:19. "We ought to obey God rather than men," ver. 29. (24) What Josephus adds here is very remarkable, that this Mount Moriah was not only the very place where Abraham offered up Isaac long ago, but that God had foretold to David by a prophet, that here his son should build him a temple, which is not directly in any of our other copies, though very agreeable to what is in them, particularly in 1 Chronicles 21:25, 28; 22:1, to which places I refer the reader. (25) Of the quantity of gold and silver expended in the building of Solomon's temple, and whence it arose, see the description of ch. 13. (26) David is here greatly blamed by some for recommending Joab and Shimei to be punished by Solomon, if he could find a proper occasion, after he had borne with the first a long while, and seemed to have pardoned the other entirely, which Solomon executed accordingly; yet I cannot discern any fault either in David or Solomon in these cases. Joab's murder of Abner and Amasa were very barbarous, and could not properly be forgiven either by David or Solomon; for a dispensing power in kings for the crime of willful murder is warranted by no law of God, nay, is directly against it every where; nor is it, for certain, in the power of men to grant such a prerogative to any of their kings; though Joab was so nearly related to David, and so potent in the army under a warlike administration, that David dare not himself put him to death, 2 Samuel 3:39; 19:7. Shimei's cursing the Lord's anointed, and this without any just cause, was the highest act of treason against God and his anointed king, and justly deserved death; and though David could forgive treason against himself, yet had he done no more in the case of Shimei than promised him that he would not then, on the day of his return and reinauguration, or upon that occasion, himself put him to death, 2 Samuel 19:22; and he swore to him no further, ver. 23, as the words are in Josephus, than that he would not then put him to death, which he performed; nor was Solomon under any obligation to spare such a traitor.

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