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CONCERNING JEHOSHAPHAT THE KING OF JERUSALEM AND HOW AHAB MADE AN EXPEDITION AGAINST THE SYRIANS AND WAS ASSISTED THEREIN BY JEHOSHAPHAT, BUT WAS HIMSELF OVERCOME IN BATTLE AND PERISHED THEREIN.
1. AND these were the circumstances in which Ahab was. But I now return to Jehoshaphat, the king of Jerusalem, who, when he had augmented his kingdom, had set garrisons in the cities of the countries belonging to his subjects, and had put such garrisons no less into those cities which were taken out of the tribe of Ephraim by his grandfather Abijah, when Jeroboam reigned over the ten tribes [than he did into the other]. But then he had God favorable and assisting to him, as being both righteous and religious, and seeking to do somewhat every day that should be agreeable and acceptable to God. The kings also that were round about him honored him with the presents they made him, till the riches that he had acquired were immensely great, and the glory he had gained was of a most exalted nature.
2. Now, in the third year of this reign, he called together the rulers of the country, and the priests, and commanded them to go round the land, and teach all the people that were under him, city by city, the laws of Moses, and to keep them, and to be diligent in the worship of God. With this the whole multitude was so pleased, that they were not so eagerly set upon or affected with any thing so much as the observation of the laws. The neighboring nations also continued to love Jehoshaphat, and to be at peace with him. The Philistines paid their appointed tribute, and the Arabians supplied him every year with three hundred and sixty lambs, and as many kids of the goats. He also fortified the great cities, which were many in number, and of great consequence. He prepared also a mighty army of soldiers and weapons against their enemies. Now the army of men that wore their armor, was three hundred thousand of the tribe of Judah, of whom Adnah was the chief; but John was chief of two hundred thousand. The same man was chief of the tribe of Benjamin, and had two hundred thousand archers under him. There was another chief, whose name was Jehozabad, who had a hundred and fourscore thousand armed men. This multitude was distributed to he ready for the king's service, besides those whom he sent to the best fortified cities.
3. Jehoshaphat took for his son Jehoram to wife the daughter of Ahab, the king of the ten tribes, whose name was Athaliah. And when, after some time, he went to Samaria, Ahab received him courteously, and treated the army that followed him in a splendid manner, with great plenty of corn and wine, and of slain beasts; and desired that he would join with him in his war against the king of Syria, that he might recover from him the city Ramoth, in Gilead; for though it had belonged to his father, yet had the king of Syria's father taken it away from him; and upon Jehoshaphat's promise to afford him his assistance, (for indeed his army was not inferior to the other,) and his sending for his army from Jerusalem to Samaria, the two kings went out of the city, and each of them sat on his own throne, and each gave their orders to their several armies. Now Jehoshaphat bid them call some of the prophets, if there were any there, and inquire of them concerning this expedition against the king of Syria, whether they would give them counsel to make that expedition at this time, for there was peace at that time between Ahab and the king of Syria, which had lasted three years, from the time he had taken him captive till that day.
4. So Ahab called his own prophets, being in number about four hundred, and bid them inquire of God whether he would grant him the victory, if he made an expedition against Benhadad, and enable him to overthrow that city, for whose sake it was that he was going to war. Now these prophets gave their counsel for making this expedition, and said that he would beat the king of Syria, and, as formerly, would reduce him under his power. But Jehoshaphat, understanding by their words that they were false prophets, asked Ahab whether there were not some other prophet, and he belonging to the true God, that we may have surer information concerning futurities. Hereupon Ahab said there was indeed such a one, but that he hated him, as having prophesied evil to him, and having foretold that he should be overcome and slain by the king of Syria, and that for this cause he had him now in prison, and that his name was Micaiah, the son of Imlah. But upon Jehoshaphat's desire that he might be produced, Ahab sent a eunuch, who brought Micaiah to him. Now the eunuch had informed him by the way, that all the other prophets had foretold that the king should gain the victory; but he said, that it was not lawful for him to lie against God, but that he must speak what he should say to him about the king, whatever it were. When he came to Ahab, and he had adjured him upon oath to speak the truth to him, he said that God had shown to him the Israelites running away, and pursued by the Syrians, and dispersed upon the mountains by them, as flocks of sheep are dispersed when their shepherd is slain. He said further, that God signified to him, that those Israelites should return :in peace to their own home, and that he only should fall in the battle. When Micalab had thus spoken, Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, "I told thee a little while ago the disposition of the man with regard to me, and that he uses to prophesy evil to me." Upon which Micaiah replied, that he ought to hear all, whatever it be, that God foretells; and that in particular, they were false prophets that encouraged him to make this war in hope of victory, whereas he must fight and be killed. Whereupon the king was in suspense with himself: but Zedekiah, one of those false prophets, came near, and exhorted him not to hearken to Micaiah, for he did not at all speak truth; as a demonstration of which he instanced in what Elijah had said, who was a better prophet in foretelling futurities than Micaiah (43) for he foretold that the dogs should lick his blood in the city of Jezreel, in the field of Naboth, as they licked the blood of Naboth, who by his means was there stoned to death by the multitude; that therefore it was plain that this Micalab was a liar, as contradicting a greater prophet than himself, and saying that he should be slain at three days' journey distance: "and [said he] you shall soon know whether he be a true prophet, and hath the power of the Divine Spirit; for I will smite him, and let him then hurt my hand, as Jadon caused the hand of Jeroboam the king to wither when he would have caught him; for I suppose thou hast certainly heard of that accident." So when, upon his smiting Micaiah, no harm happened to him, Ahab took courage, and readily led his army against the king of Syria; for, as I suppose, fate was too hard for him, and made him believe that the false prophets spake truer than the true one, that it might take an occasion of bringing him to his end. However, Zedekiah made horns of iron, and said to Ahab, that God made those horns signals, that by them he should overthrow all Syria. But Micaiah replied, that Zedekiah, in a few days, should go from one secret chamber to another to hide himself, that he might escape the punishment of his lying. Then did the king give orders that they should take Micaiah away, and guard him to Amon, the governor of the city, and to give him nothing but bread and water.
5. Then did Ahab, and Jehoshaphat the king of Jerusalem, take their forces, and marched to Ramoth a city of Gilead; and when the king of Syria heard of this expedition, he brought out his army to oppose them, and pitched his camp not far from Ramoth. Now Ahalx and Jehoshaphat had agreed that Ahab should lay aside his royal robes, but that the king of Jerusalem should put on his [Ahab's] proper habit, and stand before the army, in order to disprove, by this artifice, what Micaiah had foretold. (44)But Ahab's fate found him out without his robes; for Benhadad, the king of Assyria, had charged his army, by the means of their commanders, to kill nobody else but only the king of Israel. So when the Syrians, upon their joining battle with the Israelites, saw Jehoshaphat stand before the army, and conjectured that he was Ahab, they fell violently upon him, and encompassed him round; but when they were near, and knew that it was not he, they all returned back; and while the fight lasted from the morning till late in the evening, and the Syrians were conquerors, they killed nobody, as their king had commanded them. And when they sought to kill Ahab alone, but could not find him, there was a young nobleman belonging to king Benhadad, whose name was Naaman; he drew his bow against the enemy, and wounded the king through his breastplate, in his lungs. Upon this Ahab resolved not to make his mischance known to his army, lest they should run away; but he bid the driver of his chariot to turn it back, and carry him out of the battle, because he was sorely and mortally wounded. However, he sat in his chariot and endured the pain till sunset, and then he fainted away and died.
6. And now the Syrian army, upon the coming on of the night, retired to their camp; and when the herald belonging to the camp gave notice that Ahab was dead, they returned home; and they took the dead body of Ahab to Samaria, and buried it there; but when they had washed his chariot in the fountain of Jezreel, which was bloody with the dead body of the king, they acknowledged that the prophecy of Elijah was true, for the dogs licked his blood, and the harlots continued afterwards to wash themselves in that fountain; but still he died at Ramoth, as Micaiah had foretold. And as what things were foretold should happen to Ahab by the two prophets came to pass, we ought thence to have high notions of God, and every where to honor and worship him, and never to suppose that what is pleasant and agreeable is worthy of belief before what is true, and to esteem nothing more advantageous than the gift of prophecy (44) and that foreknowledge of future events which is derived from it, since God shows men thereby what we ought to avoid. We may also guess, from what happened to this king, and have reason to consider the power of fate; that there is no way of avoiding it, even when we know it. It creeps upon human souls, and flatters them with pleasing hopes, till it leads them about to the place where it will be too hard for them. Accordingly Ahab appears to have been deceived thereby, till he disbelieved those that foretold his defeat; but, by giving credit to such as foretold what was grateful to him, was slain; and his son Ahaziah succeeded him.
(1) This execution upon Joab, as a murderer, by slaying him, even when he had taken sanctuary at God's altar, is perfectly agreeable to the law of Moses, which enjoins, that "if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar that he die," Exodus 21:14. (2) This building of the walls of Jerusalem, soon after David's death, illustrates the conclusion of the 51st Psalm, where David prays, "Build thou the walls of Jerusalem;" they being, it seems, unfinished or imperfect at that time. See ch. 6. sect. 1; and ch. 1. sect. 7; also 1 Kings 9:15. (3) It may not be amiss to compare the daily furniture of king Solomon's table, here set down, and 1 Kings 4;22, 23, with the like daily furniture of Nehemiah the governor's table, after the Jews were come back from Babylon; and to remember with, that Nehemiah was now building the walls of Jerusalem, and maintained, more than usual, above a hundred and fifty considerable men every day, and that, because the nation was then very poor, at his own charges also, without laying any burden upon the people at all. "Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine; and yet for all this required not the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon this people," Nehemiah 5:18: see the whole context, ver. 14-19. Nor did the governor's usual allowance of forty shekels of silver a-day, ver. 15, amount to 45 a day, nor to 1800 a-year. Nor does it indeed appear that, under the judges, or under Samuel the prophet, there was any such public allowance to those governors at all. Those great charges upon the public for maintaining courts came in with kings, as God foretold they would, 1 Samuel 8:11-18. (4) Some pretended fragments of these books of conjuration of Solomon are still extant in Fabricius's Cod. Pseudepigr. Vet. Test. page 1054, though I entirely differ from Josephus in this his supposal, that such books and arts of Solomon were parts of that wisdom which was imparted to him by God in his younger days; they must rather have belonged to such profane but curious arts as we find mentioned Acts 19:13-20, and had been derived from the idolatry and superstition of his heathen wives and concubines in his old age, when he had forsaken God, and God had forsaken him, and given him up to demoniacal delusions. Nor does Josephus's strange account of the root Baara (Of the War, B. VIII. ch. 6. sect. 3) seem to be other than that of its magical use in such conjurations. As for the following history, it confirms what Christ says, Matthew 12;27 "If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your Sons cast them out?" (5) These epistles of Solomon and Hiram are those in 1 Kings 5:3- 9, and, as enlarged, in 2 Chronicles 2:3-16, but here given us by Josephus in his own words. (6) What Josephus here puts into his copy of Hiram's epistle to Solomon, and repeats afterwards, ch. 5. sect. 3, that Tyre was now an island, is not in any of the three other copies, viz. that of the Kings, Chronicles, or Eusebius; nor is it any other, I suppose, than his own conjectural paraphrase; for when I, many years ago, inquired into this matter, I found the state of this famous city, and of the island whereupon it stood, to have been very different at different times. The result of my inquiries in this matter, with the addition of some later improvements, stands thus: That the best testimonies hereto relating, imply, that Paketyrus, or Oldest Tyre, was no other than that most ancient smaller fort or city Tyre, situated on the continent, and mentioned in Joshua 19:29, out of which the Canaanite or Phoenician inhabitants were driven into a large island, that lay not far off in the sea, by Joshua: that this island was then joined to the continent at the present remains of Paketyrus, by a neck of land over against Solomon's cisterns, still so called; and the city's fresh water, probably, was carried along in pipes by that neck of land; and that this island was therefore, in strictness, no other than a peninsula, having villages in its fields, Ezekiel 26:6, and a wall about it, Amos 1:10, and the city was not of so great reputation as Sitlon for some ages: that it was attacked both by sea and land by Salmanasser, as Josephus informs us, Antiq. B. IX. ch. 14. sect. 2, and afterwards came to be the metropolis of Phoenicia; and was afterwards taken and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, according to the numerous Scripture prophecies thereto relating, Isaiah 23.; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3; 47:4; Ezekiel 26., 27., 28.: that seventy years after that destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, this city was in some measure revived and rebuilt, Isaiah 23:17, 18, but that, as the prophet Ezekiel had foretold, chap. 26:3-5, 14; 27: 34, the sea arose higher than before, till at last it over flowed, not only the neck of land, but the main island or peninsula itself, and destroyed that old and famous city for ever: that, however, there still remained an adjoining smaller island, once connected to Old Tyre itself by Hiram, which was afterwards inhabited; to which Alexander the Great, with incredible pains, raised a new bank or causeway: and that it plainly appears from Ifaundreh, a most authentic eye-witness, that the old large and famous city, on the original large island, is now laid so generally under water, that scarce more than forty acres of it, or rather of that adjoining small island remain at this day; so that, perhaps, not above a hundredth part of the first island and city is now above water. This was foretold in the same prophecies of Ezekiel; and according to them, as Mr. Maundrell distinctly observes, these poor remains of Old Tyre are now "become like the top of a rock, a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea." (7) Of the temple of Solomon here described by Josephus, in this and the following sections of this chapter, see my description of the temples belonging to this work, ch. 13, These small rooms, or side chambers, seem to have been, by Josephus's description, no less than twenty cubits high a piece, otherwise there must have been a large interval between one and the other that was over it; and this with double floors, the one of six cubits distance from the floor beneath it, as 1 Kings 6:5 (8) Josephus says here that the cherubims were of solid gold, and only five cubits high, while our Hebrew copies (1 Kings 6;23, 28) say they were of the olive tree, and the LXXX. of the cypress tree, and only overlaid with gold; and both agree they were ten cubits high. I suppose the number here is falsely transcribed, and that Josephus wrote ten cubits also. (9) As for these two famous pillars, Jachin and Booz, their height could be no more than eighteen cubits, as here, and 1 Kings 7:15; 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 3:21; those thirty-five cubits in 2 Chronicles 3:15, being contrary to all the rules of architecture in the world. (10) The round or cylindrical lavers of four cubits in diameter, and four in height, both in our copies, 1 Kings 7:38, 39, and here in Josephus, must have contained a great deal more than these forty baths, which are always assigned them. Where the error lies is hard to say: perhaps Josephus honestly followed his copies here, though they had been corrupted, and he was not able to restore the true reading. In the mean time, the forty baths are probably the true quantity contained in each laver, since they went upon wheels, and were to be drawn by the Levites about the courts of the priests for the washings they were designed for; and had they held much more, they would have been too heavy to have been so drawn. (11) Here Josephus gives us a key to his own language, of right and left hand in the tabernacle and temple; that by the right hand he means what is against our left, when we suppose ourselves going up from the east gate of the courts towards the tabernacle or temple themselves, and so vice versa; whence it follows, that the pillar Jachin, on the right hand of the temple was on the south, against our left hand; and Booz on the north, against our right hand. Of the golden plate on the high priest's forehead that was in being in the days of Josephus, and a century or two at least later, seethe note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 7. sect. 6. (12) Of the golden plate on the High priests forehead that was in being in the days of Josephus, and a century or two at least later, see the note on Antiq. B. III. ch.vii. sect. 6. (13) When Josephus here says that the floor of the outmost temple or court of the Gentiles was with vast labor raised to be even, or of equal height, with the floor of the inner, or court of the priests, he must mean this in a gross estimation only; for he and all others agree, that the inner temple, or court of the priests, was a few cubits more elevated than the middle court, the court of Israel, and that much more was the court of the priests elevated several cubits above that outmost court, since the court of Israel was lower than the one and higher than the other. The Septuagint say that "they prepared timber and stones to build the temple for three years," 1 Kings 5:18; and although neither our present Hebrew copy, nor Josephus, directly name that number of years, yet do they both say the building itself did not begin till Solomon's fourth year; and both speak of the preparation of materials beforehand, 1 Kings v. 18; Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 5. sect. 1. There is no reason, therefore, to alter the Septuagint's number; but we are to suppose three years to have been the just time of the preparation, as I have done in my computation of the expense in building that temple. (14) This solemn removal of the ark from Mount Sion to Mount Moriah, at the distance of almost three quarters of a mile, confutes that notion of the modern Jews, and followed by many Christians also, as if those two were after a sort one and the same mountain, for which there is, I think, very little foundation. (15) This mention of the Corinthian ornaments of architecture in Solomon's palace by Josephus seems to be here set down by way of prophecy although it appears to me that the Grecian and Roman most ancient orders of architecture were taken from Solomon's temple, as from their original patterns, yet it is not so clear that the last and most ornamental order of the Corinthian was so ancient, although what the same Josephus says, (Of the War, B. V. ch. 5. sect. 3,) that one of the gates of Herod's temple was built according to the rules of this Corinthian order, is no way improbable, that order being, without dispute, much older than the reign of Herod. However, upon some trial, I confess I have not hitherto been able fully to understand the structure of this palace of Solomon, either as described in our Bibles, or even with the additional help of this description here by Josephus; only the reader may easily observe with me, that the measures of this first building in Josephus, a hundred cubits long, and fifty cubits broad, are the very same with the area of the cart of the tabernacle of Moses. and just hall' an Egyptian orout, or acre. (16) This signification of the name Pharaoh appears to be true. But what Josephus adds presently, that no king of Egypt was called Pharaoh after Solomon's father-in-law, does hardly agree to our copies, which have long afterwards the names of Pharaoh Neehob, and Pharaoh Hophrah, 2 Kings 23:29; Jeremiah 44:30, besides the frequent mention of that name Pharaoh in the prophets. However, Josephus himself, in his own speech to the Jews, Of the War, B. V. ch. 9. sect. 4, speaks of Neehao, who was also called Pharaoh, as the name of that king of Egypt with whom Abraham was concerned; of which name Neehao yet we have elsewhere no mention till the days of Josiah, but only of Pharaoh. And, indeed, it must be conceded, that here, and sect. 5, we have more mistakes made by Josephus, and those relating to the kings of Egypt, and to that queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, whom he supposes to have come to see Solomon, than almost any where else in all his Antiquities. (17) That this queen of Sheba was a queen of Sabea in South Arabia, and not of Egypt and Ethiopia, as Josephus here asserts, is, I suppose, now generally agreed. And since Sabea is well known to be a country near the sea in the south of Arabia Felix, which lay south from Judea also; and since our Savior calls this queen, "the queen of the south," and says, "she came from the utmost parts of the earth," Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31, which descriptions agree better to this Arabia than to Egypt and Ethiopia; there is little occasion for doubting in this matter. (18) Some blame Josephus for supposing that the balsam tree might be first brought out of Arabia, or Egypt, or Ethiopia, into Judea, by this queen of Sheba, since several have said that of old no country bore this precious balsam but Judea; yet it is not only false that this balsam was peculiar to Judea but both Egypt and Arabia, and particularly Sabea; had it; which last was that very country whence Josephus, if understood not of Ethiopia, but of Arabia, intimates this queen might bring it first into Judea. Nor are we to suppose that the queen of Sabaea could well omit such a present as this balsam tree would be esteemed by Solomon, in case it were then almost peculiar to her own country. Nor is the mention of balm or balsam, as carried by merchants, and sent as a present out of Judea by Jacob, to the governor of Egypt, Genesis 37:25; 43:11, to be alleged to the contrary, since what we there render balm or balsam, denotes rather that turpentine which we now call turpentine of Chio, or Cyprus, the juice of the turpentine tree, than this precious balm. This last is also the same word that we elsewhere render by the same mistake balm of Gilead; it should be rendered, the turpentine of Gilead, Jeremiah 8:22. (19) Whether these fine gardens and rivulets of Etham, about six miles from Jerusalem, whither Solomon rode so often in state, be not those alluded to, Ecclesiastes 2:5, 6, where he says, "He made him gardens and orchards, and planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits: he made him pools of water, to water the wood that bringeth forth trees;" and to the finest part whereof he seems to allude, when, in the Song of Songs, he compares his spouse to a garden "enclosed," to a "spring shut up," to a "fountain sealed," ch. 4. 12 (part of which from rains are still extant, as Mr. Matmdrell informs us, page 87, 88); cannot now be certainly determined, but may very probably be conjectured. But whether this Etham has any relation to those rivers of Etham, which Providence once dried up in a miraculous manner, Psalm 74:15, in the Septuagint, I cannot say. (20) These seven hundred wives, or the daughters of great men, and the three hundred concubines, the daughters of the ignoble, make one thousand in all; and are, I suppose, those very one thousand women intimated elsewhere by Solomon himself, when he speaks of his not having found one [good] woman among that very number, Ecclesiastes 7:28. (21) Josephus is here certainly too severe upon Solomon, who, in making the cherubims, and these twelve brazen oxen, seems to have done no more than imitate the patterns left him by David, which were all given David by Divine inspiration. See my description of the temples, ch. 10. And although God gave no direction for the lions that adorned his throne, yet does not Solomon seem therein to have broken any law of Moses; for although the Pharisees and latter Rabbins have extended the second commandment, to forbid the very making of any image, though without any intention to have it worshipped, yet do not I suppose that Solomon so understood it, nor that it ought to be so understood. The making any other altar for worship but that at the tabernacle was equally forbidden by Moses, Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 5; yet did not the two tribes and a half offend when they made an altar for a memorial only, Joshua 22; Antiq. B. V. ch. 1. sect. 26, 27. (22) Since the beginning of Solomon's evil life and adversity was the time when Hadad or Ader, who was born at least twenty or thirty years before Solomon came to the crown, in the days of David, began to give him disturbance, this implies that Solomon's evil life began early, and continued very long, which the multitude of his wives and concubines does imply also; I suppose when he was not fifty years of age. (23) This youth of Jeroboam, when Solomon built the walls of righteous and keep the laws, because he hath proposed to thee the greatest of all rewards for thy piety, and the honor thou shalt pay to God, namely, to be as greatly exalted as thou knowest David to have been." Jerusalem, not very long after he had finished his twenty years building of the temple and his own palace, or not very long after the twenty-fourth of his reign, 1 Kings 9:24; 2 Chronicles 8:11, and his youth here still mentioned, when Solomon's wickedness was become intolerable, fully confirm my former observation, that such his wickedness began early, and continued very long. See Ecclus. 47:14. (24) That by scorpions is not here meant that small animal so called, which was never used in corrections, but either a shrub, furze bush, or else some terrible sort of whip of the like nature see Hudson's and Spanheim's notes here. (25) Whether these "fountains of the Lesser Jordan" were near a place called Dan, and the fountains of the Greater near a place called Jor, before their conjunction; or whether there was only one fountain, arising at the lake Phiala, at first sinking under ground, and then arising near the mountain Paneum, and thence running through the lake Scmochonitis to the Sea of Galilee, and so far called the Lesser Jordan; is hardly certain, even in Josephus himself, though the latter account be the most probable. However, the northern idolatrous calf, set up by Jeroboam, was where Little Jordan fell into Great Jordan, near a place called Daphnae, as Josephus elsewhere informs us, Of the War, B. IV. ch. 1. sect. 1: see the note there. (26) How much a larger and better copy Josephus had in this remarkable history of the true prophet of Judea, and his concern with Jeroboam, and with the false prophet of Bethel, than our other copies have, is evident at first sight. The prophet's very name, Jadon, or, as the Constitutions call him, Adonias, is wanting in our other copies; and it is there, with no little absurdity, said that God revealed Jadon the true prophet's death, not to himself as here, hut to the false prophet. Whether the particular account of the arguments made use of, after all, by the false prophet against his own belief and his own conscience, in order to persuade Jeroboam to persevere in his idolatry and wickedness, than which more plausible could not be invented, was intimated in Josephus's copy, or in some other ancient book, cannot now be determined; our other copies say not one word of it. (27) That this Shishak was not the same person with the famous Sesostris, as some have very lately, in contradiction to all antiquity, supposed, and that our Josephus did not take him to be the same, as they pretend, but that Sesostris was many centuries earlier than Shishak, see Authent. Records, part II. page 1024. (28) Herodotus, as here quoted by Josephus, and as this passage still stands in his present copies, B. II. ch. 14., affirms, that "the Phoenicians and Syrians in Palestine [which last are generally supposed to denote the Jews] owned their receiving circumcision from the Egyptians;" whereas it is abnudantly evident that the Jews received their circumcision from the patriarch Abraham, Genesis 17:9-14; John 7:22, 23, as I conclude the Egyptian priests themselves did also. It is not therefore very unlikely that Herodotus, because the Jews had lived long in Egypt, and came out of it circumcised, did thereupon think they had learned that circumcision in Egypt, and had it not broke. Manetho, the famous Egyptian chronologer and historian, who knew the history of his own country much better than Herodotus, complains frequently of his mistakes about their affairs, as does Josephus more than once in this chapter. Nor indeed does Herodotus seem at all acquainted with the affairs of the Jews; for as he never names them, so little or nothing of what he says about them, their country, or maritime cities, two of which he alone mentions, Cadytus and Jenysus, proves true; nor indeed do there appear to have ever been any such cities on their coast. (29) This is a strange expression in Josephus, that God is his own workmanship, or that he made himself, contrary to common sense and to catholic Christianity; perhaps he only means that he was not made by one, but was unoriginated. (30) By this terrible and perfectly unparalleled slaughter of five hundred thousand men of the newly idolatrous and rebellious ten tribes, God's high displeasure and indignation against that idolatry and rebellion fully appeared; the remainder were thereby seriously cautioned not to persist in them, and a kind of balance or equilibrium was made between the ten and the two tribes for the time to come; while otherwise the perpetually idolatrous and rebellious ten tribes would naturally have been too powerful for the two tribes, which were pretty frequently free both from such idolatry and rebellion; nor is there any reason to doubt of the truth of the prodigious number upmost: signal an occasion. (31) The reader is to remember that Cush is not Ethiopia, but Arabia. See Bochart, B. IV. ch. 2. (32) Here is a very great error in our Hebrew copy in this place, 2 Chronicles 15:3-6, as applying what follows to times past, and not to times future; whence that text is quite misapplied by Sir Isaac Newton. (33) This Abelmain, or, in Josephus's copy, Abellane, that belonged to the land of Israel, and bordered on the country of Damascus, is supposed, both by Hudson and Spanheim, to be the same with Abel, or Ahila, whence came Abilene. This may he that city so denominated from Abel the righteous, there buried, concerning the shedding of whose blood within the compass of the land of Israel, I understand our Savior's words about the fatal war and overthrow of Judea by Titus and his Roman army; "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the land, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barnchins, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily, I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation," Matthew 23;35, 36; Luke 11:51. (34) Josephus, in his present copies, says, that a little while rain upon the earth; whereas, in our other copies, it is after many days, 1 Kings 18:1. Several years are also intimated there, and in Josephus, sect. 2, as belonging to this drought and famine; nay, we have the express mention of the third year, which I suppose was reckoned from the recovery of the widow's son, and the ceasing of this drought in Phmuiela (which, as Menander informs us here, lasted one whole year); and both our Savior and St. James affirm, that this drought lasted in all three years and six months. as their copies of the Old Testament then informed them, Luke 4:25; James 5:17. Josephus here seems to mean, that this drought affected all the habitable earth, and presently all the earth, as our Savior says it was upon all the earth, Luke 4:25. They who restrain these expressions to the land of Judea alone, go without sufficient authority or examples. (35) Mr. Spanheim takes notice here, that in the worship of Mithra (the god of the Persians) the priests cut themselves in the same manner as did these priests in their invocation of Baal (the god of the Phoenicians). (36) For Izar we may here read (with Hudson and Cocceius) Isachar, i.e of the tribe of Isachar, for to that tribe did Jezreel belong; and presently at the beginning of sect. 8, as also ch. 15. sect. 4, we may read for Iar, with one MS. nearly, and the Scripture, Jezreel, for that was the city meant in the history of Naboth. (37) "The Jews weep to this day," (says Jerome, here cited by Reland,) "and roll themselves upon sackcloth, in ashes, barefoot, upon such occasions." To which Spanheim adds, "that after the same manner Bernice, when his life was in danger, stood at the tribunal of Florus barefoot." Of the War, B. II. ch. 15. sect. 1. See the like of David, 2 Samuel 15:30; Antiq. B. VII. ch. 9. sect. 2. (38) Mr. Reland notes here very truly, that the word naked does not always signify entirely naked, but sometimes without men's usual armor, without heir usual robes or upper garments; as when Virgil bids the husbandman plough naked, and sow naked; when Josephus says (Antiq. B. IV. ch. 3. sect. 2) that God had given the Jews the security of armor when they were naked; and when he here says that Ahab fell on the Syrians when they were naked and drunk; when (Antiq. B. XI. ch. 5. sect. 8) he says that Nehemiah commanded those Jews that were building the walls of Jerusalem to take care to have their armor on upon occasion, that the enemy might not fall upon them naked. I may add, that the case seems to be the same in the Scripture, when it says that Saul lay down naked among the prophets, 1 Samuel 19:24; when it says that Isaiah walked naked and barefoot, Isaiah 20:2, 3; and when it says that Peter, before he girt his fisher's coat to him, was naked, John 21:7. What is said of David also gives light to this, who was reproached by Michal for "dancing before the ark, and uncovering himself in the eyes of his handmaids, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself," 2 Samuel 6:14, 20; yet it is there expressly said (ver. 14) that "David was girded with a linen ephod," i.e. he had laid aside his robes of state, and put on the sacerdotal, Levitical, or sacred garments, proper for such a solemnity. (39) Josephus's number, two myriads and seven thousand, agrees here with that in our other copies, as those that were slain by the falling down of the walls of Aphek; but I suspected at first that this number in Josephus's present copies could not be his original number, because he calls them "oligoi," a few, which could hardly be said of so many as twenty-seven thousand, and because of the improbability of the fall of a particular wall killing so many; yet when I consider Josephus's next words, how the rest which were slain in the battle were "ten other myriads," that twenty-seven thousand are but a few in comparison of a hundred thousand, and that it was not "a wall," as in our English version, but "the walls" or "the entire walls" of the city that fell down, as in all the originals, I lay aside that suspicion, and firmly believe that Josephus himself hath, with the rest, given us the just number, twenty-seven thousand. (40) This manner of supplication for men's lives among the Syrians, with ropes or halters about their heads or necks, is, I suppose, no strange thing in later ages, even in our own country. (41) It is here remarkable, that in Josephus's copy this prophet, whose severe denunciation of a disobedient person's slaughter by a lion had lately come to pass, was no other than Micaiah, the son of Imlah, who, as he now denounced God's judgment on disobedient Ahab, seems directly to have been that very prophet whom the same Ahab, in 1 Kings 22:8, 18, complains of, "as one whom he hated, because he did not prophesy good concerning him, but evil," and who in that chapter openly repeats his denunciations against him; all which came to pass accordingly; nor is there any reason to doubt but this and the former were the very same prophet. (42) What is most remarkable in this history, and in many histories on other occasions in the Old Testament, is this, that during the Jewish theocracy God acted entirely as the supreme King of Israel, and the supreme General of their armies, and always expected that the Israelites should be in such absolute subjection to him, their supreme and heavenly King, and General of their armies, as subjects and soldiers are to their earthly kings and generals, and that usually without knowing the particular reasons of their injunctions. (43) These reasonings of Zedekiah the false prophet, in order to persuade Ahab not to believe Micaiah the true prophet, are plausible; but being omitted in our other copies, we cannot now tell whence Josephus had them, whether from his own temple copy, from some other original author, or from certain ancient notes. That some such plausible objection was now raised against Micaiah is very likely, otherwise Jehoshaphat, who used to disbelieve all such false prophets, could never have been induced to accompany Ahab in these desperate circumstances. (44) This reading of Josephus, that Jehoshaphat put on not his own, but Ahab's robes, in order to appear to be Ahab, while Ahab was without any robes at all, and hoped thereby to escape his own evil fate, and disprove Micaiah's prophecy against him, is exceeding probable. It gives great light also to this whole history; and shows, that although Ahab hoped Jehoshaphat would he mistaken for him, and run the only risk of being slain in the battle, yet he was entirely disappointed, while still the escape of the good man Jehoshaphat, and the slaughter of the bad man Ahab, demonstrated the great distinction that Divine providence made betwixt them. (45)We have here a very wise reflection of Josephus about Divine Providence, and what is derived from it, prophecy, and the inevitable certainty of its accomplishment; and that when wicked men think they take proper methods to elude what is denounced against them, and to escape the Divine judgments thereby threatened them, without repentance, they are ever by Providence infatuated to bring about their own destruction, and thereby with to demonstrate the perfect veracity of that God whose predictions they in vain endeavored to elude.