The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity



WHEN Asa, king of Judah, hired Ben-hadad to invade Israel, and thus draw off Baasha from the building of Ramah, Hanani, the prophet, came to him, and said: “Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, He delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” 1 EB 225.1

2. Asa had forgotten the Lord and relied upon the king of Syria. Now he went further than this, and even rejected the word of the Lord. He became angry with the prophet and put him in prison. Then having forsaken the Lord, he became an oppressor of the people. 2 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign he “was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.” 3 He died in the forty-first year of his reign. EB 225.2

3. Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa, and reigned twenty-five years, 914-889 B. C. And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he walked in the first ways of his father, and in the way of David, “and sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in His commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honor in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves [Asherim] out of Judah.” 4 EB 225.3

4. In his third year, Jehoshaphat organized a company of teachers composed of princes, priests, and Levites, and sent them throughout all the cities of Judah to teach the law of the Lord, which they carried with them. “And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats. And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly.” EB 226.1

5. He had an army of one million one hundred and sixty thousand men, ready prepared for war, besides those who garrisoned the fortified cities in the kingdom. 5 EB 226.2

6. He organized also a ministry of justice throughout all the land. “And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” 6 EB 226.3

7. About the eighteenth year of his reign there was an invasion of the land by the armies of Moab and Ammon and Mount Seir, a “great multitude.” “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. EB 226.4

8. “Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; and he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To-morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of a brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to-morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you. EB 227.1

9. “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord of Israel with a loud voice on high. And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. EB 227.2

10. “And when Judah came toward the watch-tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the Lord. And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.” EB 228.1

11. Yet Jehoshaphat made the mistake of joining himself to Israel, both in affinity and with his armies. He went with Ahab to Ramoth-Gilead against Ben-hadad, at the time that Ahab was slain, 7 and came near being slain by their mistaking him for the king of Israel. For this he was reproved by the prophet when he had returned to Jerusalem, who said to him: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.” 8 EB 228.2

12. In spite of this however, he went with Ahaziah the son of Ahab, in his expedition against the Moabites. In association with Ahaziah he built a fleet to go to Ophir for gold; but the fleet was wrecked at Ezion-gaber, and the prophet said to him: “Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works.” 9 And more than all this, he took Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, to be the wife of his son who was to reign after him; and thus opened the kingdom of Judah to the worship of Baal. EB 229.1

13. Jehoram was the son of Jehoshaphat, and reigned eight years—four years with his father and four alone—892-885. As soon as Jehoram had taken the throne, he murdered his six brothers and a number of the princes of the kingdom; and further, he “walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” 10 Under Athaliah’s influence, he built a “house of Baal” in Jerusalem; a priesthood of Baal was established there; and “the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim.” 11 “Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto. EB 229.2

14. “And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: and thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.” 12 EB 229.3

15. During his reign the Edomites revolted, and made for themselves a king and maintained their power against Jehoram, and so established their independence. EB 230.1

16. The city of Libnah also revolted, and the Philistines and the Arabians “came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.” 13 EB 230.2

17. In his sixth year he was attacked by the incurable disease which had been prophesied by Elijah, with the result there announced, and at the end of the two years he “departed without being desired.” EB 230.3

18. Ahaziah, or Jehoahaz, the only remaining son of Jehoram, succeeded to the kingship, and reigned a year, 885-884, B. C. He was the son of Athaliah, and “walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly. Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the Lord like the house of Ahab: for they were his counselors after the death of his father to his destruction.” 14 EB 230.4

19. He went with Jehoram of Israel, to Ramoth-Gilead in the war against Hazael. He also went to Jezreel, to see Jehoram while he was there to be healed of his wounds. He went out of Jezreel in his chariot with Jehoram, to meet Jehu. It was to him that Jehoram cried out: “There is treachery, O Ahaziah.” In the execution of judgment upon the house of Ahab, by Jehu, Ahaziah was slain. He was included in this because his mother was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and he had followed her counsel to do wickedly, and to spread the worship of the sun in the realm of Judah. EB 230.5

20. The attendants of Ahaziah took him to Jerusalem, and there he was buried. EB 230.6