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were wrought up with inspiration in the composition of their writings, there can be no doubt that, in the knowledge which Moses exhibits of a vast variety of subjects, which were not likely to be communicated by revelation, we have some indication of the advancement of the Egyptians of that age, in science and art.
GREECE. The kingdom of Athens is supposed to have been founded about the time of the birth of Moses, by Cecrops; and Deucalion's flood, in Thessaly, is supposed to have taken place about the time of the mission of Moses to Pharaoh. Others think that this flood was a mere tradition of the universal deluge, and that Deucalion was Noah.
The people, who settled in Greece, appear to have been refugees from many nations; and society among them seems at this time to have been in its elements. Their most ancient traditions, chiefly respect marauding expeditions, and the destruction of cities. About 260 years before Solomon, when the Israelites were governed by Judges, an expedition was undertaken by Jason, in a ship called the Argos, having on board 50 followers, who entered the Euxine sea, and coasted along till they came to Colchis. Here Jason carried away with him Medea, the daughter of the king of Colchis. This expedition seems to have been very much like what we might expect to have taken place among the New Zealanders, or the inhabitants of Tahiti, previously to the introduction of Christianity among them. About years afterwards, Paris, the son of the king of Troy, in a similar piratical expedition, carried off Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Menelaus prevailed on the Grecian states to espouse his cause; and this gave rise to the celebrated siege of Troy, which ended in the total destruction of that city. It is supposed to have been in the time of David, that Cadmus introduced letters into Greece from Phoenicia; and Homer, who celebrated the siege of Troy in his poem called the Iliad, is supposed to have flourished about the time of Solomon.
THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH.-Solomon, on his coming to the kingdom, was in possession of every thing that could contribute to the greatness and happiness of a mighty prince. His possession of the throne was undisputed his dominions at perfect peace-his government respected by the surrounding nations, and abundance of wealth flowed into his kingdom through the means of an extensive commerce. He himself was a master of all the learning of the age, and possessed much knowledge, in which the rest of mankind did not participate. He wrote treatises, which are not now extant, on plants and on animals. He wrote many proverbs, or moral sayings, and also many poems, some of which are extant, having been embodied in the book of inspiration. He lived in the utmost magnificence, and was energetic and able as a judge and a statesman. His great work was the erecting of a magnificent temple at Jerusalem, which, for many ages, was, as the tabernacle previously had been, the centre of divine worship.
Arts and sciences must have made considerable progress in the days of Solomon, The temple, which he built at Jerusalem, seems to have furnished the model for the most chaste and simple of the Greek temples, being, like the Greek temples, an oblong house, divided into an outer and inner apartment, the inner the most sacred; a portico also, supported by two pillars, with their bases, shafts, and capitals, and probably also, with an entablature and pediment, being placed in front of the principal entrance. This temple was built of stone, hewn and polished in Mount Lebanon, the wood part of it also being of timber cut in that mountain; and the whole materials for the erection of the temple were prepared there, brought by sea to
Joppa, and thence conducted over the mountains to Jerusalem; so that, when they came to be erected, no sound of any tool was heard. This, of itself, exhibits high advancement in the mechanical arts. In the art of composition, nothing can excel, for sublimity and tenderness, the Psalms of David; for terseness and force, the Proverbs of Solomon; or, for beauty and simplicity of narrative, the history of the reigns of David and Solomon. And this advancement of literature was not confined to Judea; for, if Homer flourished at this time, the Greek poetry also of that age still commands the admiration of the world, for its combined simplicity, sublimity and elegance. Navigation also, and commerce, were cultivated to a great extent. Some have supposed, that the combined fleets of Solomon and Hiram even went round the peninsula of Africa, passing down the Red sea, doubling the Cape, now called the Cape of Good Hope, and returning by the Mediterranean. Although none of the works of Solomon, expressly on natural history, are extant; yet from the allusions made by him, and by David his father, to natural objects, much accurate knowledge, it is obvious, must have been collected on these subjects.
The Jewish monarchy reached its highest elevation in the reign of Solomon, and it immediately began to decline. The promise made to Abraham, that a seed should be raised up to him, which should reign from the river Euphrates to the shores of the Mediterranean sea, was literally fulfilled. But no sooner had the nation attained this elevation, than it began to decline. Solomon himself, enticed by idolatrous wives, the daughters of the neighbouring princes, fell into idolatry. The Ephraimites, a powerful tribe, never seem to have been thoroughly reconciled to the reign of the house of David, which was of the tribe of Judah; and on the succession of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, a demand was made for some relaxation in the government. This demand was answered roughly by Rehoboam, and instantly ten of the twelve tribes revolted, under the auspices of Jeroboam. Thus the Israelites were divided into two kingdoms; the one, consisting of
ten tribes, called the kingdom of Israel; the other, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the Levites, called the kingdom of Judah. The consequence of this division was an almost continual rivalship and warfare between the two kingdoms.
Rehoboam was the first monarch of the kingdom of Judah, as distinguished from that of Israel. He was a weak prince, and in his reign Shishach, (supposed to be the same with Sesostris,) king of Egypt, invaded his kingdom, and plundered Jerusalem and the temple. He reigned 17 years.
Abijah succeeded him, and reigned three years. In his reign, a battle was fought between him and Jeroboam, king of Israel, in which the latter was defeated with the loss of 500,000 men.
Asa succeeded Abijah, and reigned 41 years. He was, on the whole, a good prince. In his reign the Ethiopians, or Cushites, a people occupying the southern parts of Arabia, came up against his kingdom, with an immense army. Asa committed himself and his people to God, and then going out against the Ethiopians, totally defeated them. After this, Baasha, king of Israel, came up against him, and began to build a fortress at Ramah, on the borders of his kingdom. Asa, instead of again betaking himself to God, hired Benhadad, king of Syria, to send an army against Israel. This expedient succeeded for the time; the army of Israel withdrew, and the fortress was levelled to the ground. But God was displeased with him, and sent a prophet to rebuke him; on which he was angry, and put the prophet in prison. Soon after he became diseased in his feet. In his disease, he sought not to God, but to the physicians, and died of his disease. To Asa succeeded—
Jehoshaphat, his son, who reigned 25 years. Jehoshaphat adopted vigorous measures for purging the land from idolatry, and for instructing the people. Towards the beginning of his reign, Elijah the prophet was raised up to contend against the progress of idolatry and wickedness in Israel. Jehoshaphat joined
Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, in an enterprise against Ramoth Gilead, which was in possession of the Syrians. In this enterprise, Ahab was killed, and Jehoshaphat escaped to his own kingdom. Jehoshaphat engaged in another military expedition along with Jehoram, now king of Israel, against the Moabites; and the two kings after being in imminent danger of losing their armies and their lives from want of water, were, by applying to Elisha the prophet for directions, not only delivered, but enabled to defeat the Moabites, Jehoshaphat died in 889, B.C. and was succeeded by
Jehoram. This prince had married Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. On his accession, he murdered his brethren and introduced idolatry into his kingdom. Another Jehoram, son of Ahab, was, at the same time, king of Israel. In this reign the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and never were again subdued. Jehoram was warned, by a letter from the prophet Elijah, of the judgments of God about to fall upon him; but in vain. God then brought the Philistines and Arabians against him, who broke into Judah, plundered the king's house, and took away his wives and his sons, so that he had no son left him but Jehoahaz or Ahaziah. Still remaining incorrigible, he was smitten with violent disease, and died miserably, in the 8th year of his reign, B.C. 885.
Ahaziah, his younger son, succeeded him. He was the son of Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, who seems to have been absent when the Philistines came and took away the other wives and children of Jehoram. Under the advice of his mother, he followed the example of the house of Ahab, in all manner of wickedness. Having entered into an alliance with Joram, king of Israel, to make war upon Hazael, king of Syria, Joram was wounded, and Ahaziah went down to
Ahaziah and Jehoahaz are substantially the same name, the Hebrew letters being the same, but transposed. Azariah was another name by which he was known.