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CONCERNING THE DEATH OF A SON OF JEROBOAM. HOW JEROBOAM WAS BEATEN BY ABIJAH WHO DIED A LITTLE AFTERWARD AND WAS SUCCEEDED IN HIS KINGDOM BY ASA. AND ALSO HOW, AFTER THE DEATH OF JEROBOAM BAASHA DESTROYED HIS SON NADAB AND ALL THE HOUSE OF JEROBOAM.
1. HOWEVER, God was in no long time ready to return Jeroboam's wicked actions, and the punishment they deserved, upon his own head, and upon the heads of all his house. And whereas a soil of his lay sick at that time, who was called Abijah, he enjoined his wife to lay aside her robes, and to take the garments belonging to a private person, and to go to Ahijah the prophet, for that he was a wonderful man in foretelling futurities, it having been he who told me that I should be king. He also enjoined her, when she came to him, to inquire concerning the child, as if she were a stranger, whether he should escape this distemper. So she did as her husband bade her, and changed her habit, and came to the city Shiloh, for there did Ahijah live. And as she was going into his house, his eyes being then dim with age, God appeared to him, and informed him of two things; that the wife of Jeroboam was come to him, and what answer he should make to her inquiry. Accordingly, as the woman was coming into the house like a private person and a stranger, he cried out, "Come in, O thou wife of Jeroboam! Why concealest thou thyself? Thou art not concealed from God, who hath appeared to me, and informed me that thou wast coming, and hath given me in command what I shall say to thee." So he said that she should go away to her husband, and speak to him thus: "Since I made thee a great man when thou wast little, or rather wast nothing, and rent the kingdom from the house of David, and gave it to thee, and thou hast been unmindful of these benefits, hast left off my worship, hast made thee molten gods and honored them, I will in like manner cast thee down again, and will destroy all thy house, and make them food for the dogs and the fowls; for a certain king is rising up, by appointment, over all this people, who shall leave none of the family of Jeroboam remaining. The multitude also shall themselves partake of the same punishment, and shall be cast out of this good land, and shall be scattered into the places beyond Euphrates, because they have followed the wicked practices of their king, and have worshipped the gods that he made, and forsaken my sacrifices. But do thou, O woman, make haste back to thy husband, and tell him this message; but thou shalt then find thy son dead, for as thou enterest the city he shall depart this life; yet shall he be buried with the lamentation of all the multitude, and honored with a general mourning, for he was the only person of goodness of Jeroboam's family." When the prophet had foretold these events, the woman went hastily away with a disordered mind, and greatly grieved at the death of the forenamed child. So she was in lamentation as she went along the road, and mourned for the death of her son, that was just at hand. She was indeed in a miserable condition at the unavoidable misery of his death, and went apace, but in circumstances very unfortunate, because of her son: for the greater haste she made, she would the sooner see her son dead, yet was she forced to make such haste on account of her husband. Accordingly, when she was come back, she found that the child had given up the ghost, as the prophet had said; and she related all the circumstances to the king.
2. Yet did not Jeroboam lay any of these things to heart, but he brought together a very numerous army, and made a warlike expedition against Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, who had succeeded his father in the kingdom of the two tribes; for he despised him because of his age. But when he heard of the expedition of Jeroboam, he was not affrighted at it, but proved of a courageous temper of mind, superior both to his youth and to the hopes of his enemy; so he chose him an army out of the two tribes, and met Jeroboam at a place called Mount Zemaraim, and pitched his camp near the other, and prepared everything necessary for the fight. His army consisted of four hundred thousand, but the army of Jeroboam was double to it. Now as the armies stood in array, ready for action and dangers, and were just going to fight, Abijah stood upon an elevated place, and beckoning with his hand, he desired the multitude and Jeroboam himself to hear first with silence what he had to say. And when silence was made, he began to speak, and told them, - "God had consented that David and his posterity should be their rulers for all time to come, and this you yourselves are not unacquainted with; but I cannot but wonder how you should forsake my father, and join yourselves to his servant Jeroboam, and are now here with him to fight against those who, by God's own determination, are to reign, and to deprive them of that dominion which they have still retained; for as to the greater part of it, Jeroboam is unjustly in possession of it. However, I do not suppose he will enjoy it any longer; but when he hath suffered that punishment which God thinks due to him for what is past, he will leave off the transgressions he hath been guilty of, and the injuries he hath offered to him, and which he hath still continued to offer and hath persuaded you to do the same: yet when you were not any further unjustly treated by my father, than that he did not speak to you so as to please you, and this only in compliance with the advice of wicked men, you in anger forsook him, as you pretended, but, in reality, you withdrew yourselves from God, and from his laws, although it had been right for you to have forgiven a man that was young in age, and not used to govern people, not only some disagreeable words, but if his youth and unskilfulness in affairs had led him into some unfortunate actions, and that for the sake of his father Solomon, and the benefits you received from him; for men ought to excuse the sins of posterity on account of the benefactions of parent; but you considered nothing of all this then, neither do you consider it now, but come with so great an army against us. And what is it you depend upon for victory? Is it upon these golden heifers, and the altars that you have on high places, which are demonstrations of your impiety, and not of religious worship? Or is it the exceeding multitude of your army which gives you such good hopes? Yet certainly there is no strength at all in an army of many ten thousands, when the war is unjust; for we ought to place our surest hopes of success against our enemies in righteousness alone, and in piety towards God; which hope we justly have, since we have kept the laws from the beginning, and have worshipped our own God, who was not made by hands out of corruptible matter; nor was he formed by a wicked king, in order to deceive the multitude; but who is his own workmanship, (29) and the beginning and end of all things. I therefore give you counsel even now to repent, and to take better advice, and to leave off the prosecution of the war; to call to mind the laws of your country, and to reflect what it hath been that hath advanced you to so happy a state as you are now in."
3. This was the speech which Abijah made to the multitude. But while he was still speaking Jeroboam sent some of his soldiers privately to encompass Abijab round about, on certain parts of the camp that were not taken notice of; and when he was thus within the compass of the enemy, his army was affrighted, and their courage failed them; but Abijah encouraged them, and exhorted them to place their hopes on God, for that he was not encompassed by the enemy. So they all at once implored the Divine assistance, while the priests sounded with the trumpet, and they made a shout, and fell upon their enemies, and God brake the courage and cast down the force of their enemies, and made Ahijah's army superior to them; for God vouchsafed to grant them a wonderful and very famous victory; and such a slaughter was now made of Jeroboam's army (30) as is never recorded to have happened in any other war, whether it were of the Greeks or of the Barbarians, for they overthrew [and slew] five hundred thousand of their enemies, and they took their strongest cities by force, and spoiled them; and besides those, they did the same to Bethel and her towns, and Jeshanah and her towns. And after this defeat Jeroboam never recovered himself during the life of Abijah, who yet did not long survive, for he reigned but three years, and was buried in Jerusalem in the sepulchers of his forefathers. He left behind him twenty-two sons, and sixteen daughters; and he had also those children by fourteen wives; and Asa his son succeeded in the kingdom; and the young man's mother was Michaiah. Under his reign the country of the Israelites enjoyed peace for ten years.
4. And so far concerning Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, as his history hath come down to us. But Jeroboam, the king of the ten tribes, died when he had governed them two and twenty years; whose son Nadab succeeded him, in the second year of the reign of Asa. Now Jeroboam's son governed two years, and resembled his father in impiety and wickedness. In these two years he made an expedition against Gibbethon, a city of the Philistines, and continued the siege in order to take it; but he was conspired against while he was there by a friend of his, whose name was Baasha, the son of Ahijah, and was slain; which Baasha took the kingdom after the other's death, and destroyed the whole house of Jeroboam. It also came to pass, according as God had foretold, that some of Jeroboam's kindred that died in the city were torn to pieces and devoured by dogs, and that others of them that died in the fields were torn and devoured by the fowls. So the house of Jeroboam suffered the just punishment of his impiety, and of his wicked actions.