History of the Jews

Jews overcome enemies
King Ahaziah reigns, Elijah's actions
Jehoram is Judah's king, Elisha's miracles
Defeat and death of King of Jerusalem
New King of Israel kills previous kings
Queen Athaliah reigns over Judah


WHEN Jehoshaphat the King was come to Jerusalem, from the assistance he had afforded Ahab, the King of Israel, when he fought with Benhadad, King of Syria, the prophet Jehu met him, and accused him for assisting Ahab, a man both impious and wicked; and said to him, that God was displeased with him for so doing, but that he delivered him from the enemy, notwithstanding he had sinned, because of his own proper disposition, which was good. Whereupon the King betook himself to thanksgivings and sacrifices to God; after which he presently went over all that country which he ruled round about, and taught the people, as well the laws which God gave them by Moses, as that religious worship that was due to him. He also constituted judges in every one of the cities of his kingdom; and charged them to have regard to nothing so much in judging the multitude as to do justice, and not to be moved by bribes, nor by the dignity of men eminent for either their riches or their high birth, but to distribute justice equally to all, as knowing that God is conscious of every secret action of theirs.

When he had himself instructed them thus, and gone over every city of the two tribes, he returned to Jerusalem. He there also constituted judges out of the priests and the Levites, and principal persons of the multitude, and admonished them to pass all their sentences with care and justice And that if any of the people of his country had differences of great consequence, they should send them out of the other cities to these judges, who would be obliged to give righteous sentences concerning such causes; and this with the greater care, because it is proper that the sentences which are given in that city wherein the temple of God is, and wherein the King dwells, be given with great care and the utmost justice. Now he set over them Amariah the priest, and Zebadiah, [both] of the tribe of Judah; and after this manner it was that the King ordered these affairs.

About the same time the Moabites and Ammonites made an expedition against Jehoshaphat, ,and took with them a great body of Arabians, and pitched their camp at Engedi, a city that is situate at the lake Asphaltiris, and distant three hundred furlongs from Jerusalem. In that place grows the best kind of palm trees, and the opobalsamum. Now Jehoshaphat heard that the enemies had passed over the lake, and had made an irruption into that country which belonged to his kingdom; at which news he was affrighted, and called the people of Jerusalem to a congregation in the temple, and standing over against the temple itself, he called upon God to afford him power and strength, so as to inflict punishment on those that made this expedition against them (for that those who built this his temple had prayed, that he would protect that city, and take vengeance on those that were so bold as to come against it); for they are come to take from us that land which thou hast given us for a possession.

When he had prayed thus, he fell into tears; and the whole multitude, together with their wives and children, made their supplications also: upon which a certain prophet, Jahaziel by name, came into the midst of the assembly, and cried out, and spake both to the multitude and to the king, that God heard their prayers, and promised to fight against their enemies. He also gave order that the King should draw his forces out the next day, for that he should find them between Jerusalem and the ascent of Engedi, at a place called The Eminence, and that he should not fight against them, but only stand still, and see how God would fight against them. When the prophet had said this, both the King and the multitude fell upon their faces, and gave thanks to God, and worshipped him; and the Levites continued singing hymns to God with their instruments of music.

As soon as it was day, and the King was come into that wilderness which is under the city of Tekoa, he said to the multitude,

"that they ought to give credit to what the prophet had said, and not to set themselves in array for fighting; but to set the priests with their trumpets, and the Levites with the singers of hymns, to give thanks to God, as having already delivered our country from our enemies."

This opinion of the King pleased [the people], and they did what he advised them to do. So God caused a terror and a commotion to arise among the Ammonites, who thought one another to be enemies, and slew one another, insomuch that not one man out of so great an army escaped; and when Jehoshaphat looked upon that valley wherein their enemies had been encamped, and saw it full of dead men, he rejoiced at so surprising an event, as was this assistance of God, while he himself by his own power, and without their labor, had given them the victory. He also gave his army leave to take the prey of the enemy's camp, and to spoil their dead bodies; and indeed so they did for three days together, till they were weary, so great was the number of the slain; and on the fourth day, all the people were gathered together unto a certain hollow place or valley, and blessed God for his power and assistance, from which the place had this name given it, the Valley of [Berachah, or] Blessing.

And when the King had brought his army back to Jerusalem, he betook himself to celebrate festivals, and offer sacrifices, and this for many days. And indeed, after this destruction of their enemies, and when it came to the ears of the foreign nations, they were all greatly affrighted, as supposing that God would openly fight for him hereafter. So Jehoshaphat from that time lived in great glory and splendor, on account of his righteousness and his piety towards God. He was also in friendship with Ahab's son, who was King of Israel; and he joined with him in the building of ships that were to sail to Pontus, and the traffic cities of Thrace but he failed of his gains, for the ships were destroyed by being so great [and unwieldy]; on which account he was no longer concerned about shipping. And this is the history of Jehoshaphat, the King of Jerusalem.

King Ahaziah reigns over Israel. Actions by the prophet Elijah.

AND now Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, reigned over Israel, and made his abode in Samaria. He was a wicked man, and in all respects like to both his parents and to Jeroboam, who first of all transgressed, and began to deceive the people. In the second year of his reign, the King of Moab fell off from his obedience, and left off paying those tributes which he before paid to his father Ahab. Now it happened that Ahaziah, as he was coming down from the top of his house, fell down from it, and in his sickness sent to the Fly, which was the god of Ekron, for that was this god's name, to inquire about his recovery but the God of the Hebrews appeared to Elijah the prophet, and commanded him to go and meet the messengers that were sent, and to ask them, whether the people of Israel had pot a God of their own, that the King sent to a foreign god to inquire about his recovery? and to bid them return and tell the King that he would not escape this disease.

And when Elijah had performed what God had commanded him, and the messengers had heard what he said, they returned to the King immediately; and when the King wondered how they could return so soon, and asked them the reason of it, they said that a certain man met them, and forbade them to go on any farther; but to return and tell thee, from the command of the God of Israel, that this disease will have a bad end. And when the King bid them describe the man that said this to them, they replied that he was a hairy man, and was girt about with a girdle of leather. So the King understood by this that the man who was described by the messengers was Elijah; whereupon he sent a captain to him, with fifty soldiers, and commanded them to bring Elijah to him; and when the captain that was sent found Elijah sitting upon the top of a hill, he commanded him to come down, and to come to the king, for so had he enjoined; but that in case he refused, they would carry him by force. Elijah said to him,

"That you may have a trial whether I be a true prophet, I will pray that fire may fall from heaven, and destroy both the soldiers and yourself."

So he prayed, and a whirlwind of fire fell [from heaven], and destroyed the captain, and those that were with him. And when the King was informed of the destruction of these men, he was very angry, and sent another captain with the like number of armed men that were sent before. And when this captain also threatened the prophet, that unless he came down of his own accord, he would take him and carry him away, upon his prayer against him, the fire [from heaven] slew this captain as well the other. And when, upon inquiry, the King was informed of what happened to him, he sent out a third captain. But when this captain, who was a wise man, and of a mild disposition, came to the place where Elijah happened to be, and spake civilly to him; and said that he knew that it was without his own consent, and only in submission to the king's command that he came to him; and that those that came before did not come willingly, but on the same account; - he therefore desired him to have pity on those armed men that were with him, and that he would come down and follow him to the king. So Elijah accepted of his discreet words and courteous behavior, and came down and followed him. And when he came to the king, he prophesied to him and told him that God said,

"Since thou hast despised him as not being God, and so unable to foretell the truth about thy distemper, but hast sent to the god of Ekron to inquire of him what will be the end of this thy distemper, know this, that thou shalt die."

Accordingly the King in a very little time died, as Elijah had foretold; but Jehoram his brother succeeded him in the kingdom, for he died without children: but for this Jehoram, he was like his father Ahab in wickedness, and reigned twelve years, indulging himself in all sorts of wickedness and impiety towards God, for, leaving off his worship, he worshipped foreign gods; but in other respects he was an active man. Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared, but so that nobody knew that they died.

Kings of Israel and Judah fight Moabites. King of Judah dies.

WHEN Joram had taken upon him the kingdom, he determined to make an expedition against the King of Moab, whose name was Mesha; for, as we told you before, he was departed from his obedience to his brother [Ahaziah], while he paid to his father Ahab two hundred thousand sheep, with their fleeces of wool. When therefore he had gathered his own army together, he sent also to Jehoshaphat, and entreated him, that since he had from the beginning been a friend to his father, he would assist him in the war that he was entering into against the Moabites, who had departed from their obedience, who not only himself promised to assist him, but would also oblige the King of Edom, who was under his authority, to make the same expedition also. When Joram had received these assurances of assistance from Jehoshaphat, he took his army with him, and came to Jerusalem; and when he had been sumptuously entertained by the King of Jerusalem, it was resolved upon by them to take their march against their enemies through the wilderness of Edom. And when they had taken a compass of seven days' journey, they were in distress for want of water for the cattle, and for the army, from the mistake of their roads by the guides that conducted them, insomuch that they were all in an agony, especially Joram; and cried to God, by reason of their sorrow, and [desired to know] what wickedness had been committed by them that induced him to deliver three kings together, without fighting, unto the King of Moab.

But Jehoshaphat, who was a righteous man, encouraged him, and bade him send to the camp, and know whether any prophet of God was come along with them, that we might by him learn from God what we should do. And when one of the servants of Joram said that he had seen there Elisha, the son of Shaphat, the disciple of Elijah, the three kings went to him, at the entreaty of Jehoshaphat; and when they were come at the prophet's tent, which tent was pitched out of the camp, they asked him what would become of the army and Joram was particularly very pressing with him about it. And when he replied to him, that he should not trouble him, but go to his father's and mother's prophets, for they [to be sure] were true prophets, he still desired him to prophesy, and to save them.

So he swore by God that he would not answer him, unless it were on account of Jehoshaphat, who was a holy and righteous man; and when, at his desire, they brought him a man that could play on the psaltery, the Divine Spirit came upon him as the music played, and he commanded them to dig many trenches in the valley; for, said he,

"though there appear neither cloud, nor wind, nor storm of rain, ye shall see this river full of water, till the army and the cattle be saved for you by drinking of it. Nor will this be all the favor that you shall receive from God, but you shall also overcome your enemies, and take the best and strongest cities of the Moabites, and you shall cut down their fruit trees, and lay waste their country, and stop up their fountains and rivers."

When the prophet had said this, the next day, before the sun-rising, a great torrent ran strongly; for God had caused it to rain very plentifully at the distance of three days' journey into Edom, so that the army and the cattle found water to drink in abundance. But when the Moabites heard that the three kings were coming upon them, and made their approach through the wilderness, the King of Moab gathered his army together presently, and commanded them to pitch their camp upon the mountains, that when the enemies should attempt to enter their country, they might not be concealed from them. But when at the rising of the sun they saw the water in the torrent, for it was not far from the land of Moab, and that it was of the color of blood, for at such a time the water especially looks red, by the shining of the sun upon it, they formed a false notion of the state of their enemies, as if they had slain one another for thirst; and that the river ran with their blood. However, supposing that this was the case, they desired their King would send them out to spoil their enemies; whereupon they all went in haste, as to an advantage already gained, and came to the enemy's camp, as supposing them destroyed already.

But their hope deceived them; for as their enemies stood round about them, some of them were cut to pieces, and others of them were dispersed, and fled to their own country. And when the kings fell into the land of Moab, they overthrew the cities that were in it, and spoiled their fields, and marred them, filling them with stones out of the brooks, and cut down the best of their trees, and stopped up their fountains of water, and overthrew their walls to their foundations. But the King of Moab, when he was pursued, endured a siege; and seeing his city in danger of being overthrown by force, made a sally, and went out with seven hundred men, in order to break through the enemy's camp with his horsemen, on that side where the watch seemed to be kept most negligently; and when, upon trial, he could not get away, for he lighted upon a place that was carefully watched, he returned into the city, and did a thing that showed despair and the utmost distress; for he took his eldest son, who was to reign after him, and lifting him up upon the wall, that he might be visible to all the enemies, he offered him as a whole burnt-offering to God, whom, when the kings saw, they commiserated the distress that was the occasion of it, and were so affected, in way of humanity and pity, that they raised the siege, and every one returned to his own house. So Jehoshaphat came to Jerusalem, and continued in peace there, and outlived this expedition but a little time, and then died, having lived in all sixty years, and of them reigned twenty-five. He was buried in a magnificent manner in Jerusalem, for he had imitated the actions of David.

Jehoram becomes King of Judah. Elisha's miracles

Jehoshapat had a good number of children; but he appointed his eldest son Jehoram to be his successor, who had the same name with his mother's brother, that was King of Israel, and the son of Ahab. Now when the King of Israel was come out of the land of Moab to Samaria, he had with him Elisha the prophet, whose acts I have a mind to go over particularly, for they were illustrious, and worthy to be related, as we have them set down in the sacred books.

For they say that the widow of Obadiah Ahab's steward, came to him, and said, that he was not ignorant how her husband had preserved the prophets that were to be slain by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab; for she said that he hid a hundred of them, and had borrowed money for their maintenance, and that, after her husband's death, she and her children were carried away to be made slaves by the creditors; and she desired of him to have mercy upon her on account of what her husband did, and afford her some assistance. And when he asked her what she had in the house, she said,

"Nothing but a very small quantity of oil in a cruse."

So the prophet bid her go away, and borrow a great many empty vessels of her neighbors, and when she had shut her chamber door, to pour the oil into them all; for that God would fill them full. And when the woman had done what she was commanded to do, and bade her children bring every one of the vessels, and all were filled, and not one left empty, she came to the prophet, and told him that they were all full; upon which he advised her to go away, and sell the oil, and pay the creditors what was owing them, for that there would be some surplus of the price of the oil, which she might make use of for the maintenance of her children. And thus did Elisha discharge the woman's debts, and free her from the vexation of her creditors.

Elisha also sent a hasty message to Joram, and exhorted him to take care of that place, for that therein were some Syrians lying in ambush to kill him. So the King did as the prophet exhorted him, and avoided his going a hunting. And when Benhadad missed of the success of his lying in ambush, he was wroth with his own servants, as if they had betrayed his ambushment to Joram; and he sent for them, and said they were the betrayers of his secret counsels; and he threatened that he would put them to death, since such their practice was evident, because he had entrusted this secret to none but them, and yet it was made known to his enemy. And one that was present said that he should not mistake himself, nor suspect that they had discovered to his enemy his sending men to kill him, but that he ought to know that it was Elisha the prophet who discovered all to him, and laid open all his counsels. So he gave order that they should send some to learn in what city Elisha dwelt.

Accordingly those that were sent brought word that he was in Dothan; wherefore Benhadad sent to that city a great army, with horses and chariots, to take Elisha: so they encompassed the city round about by night, and kept him therein confined; but when the prophet's servant in the morning perceived this, and that his enemies sought to take Elisha, he came running, and crying out after a disordered manner to him, and told him of it; but he encouraged him, and bid him not be afraid, and to despise the enemy, and trust in the assistance of God, and was himself without fear; and he besought God to make manifest to his servant his power and presence, so far as was possible, in order to the inspiring him with hope and courage. Accordingly God heard the prayer of the prophet, and made the servant see a multitude of chariots and horses encompassing Elisha, till he laid aside his fear, and his courage revived at the sight of what he supposed was come to their assistance. After this Elisha did further entreat God, that he would dim the eyes of their enemies, and cast a mist before them, whereby they might not discern him. When this was done, he went into the midst of his enemies, and asked them who it was that they came to seek; and when they replied, "The prophet Elisha," he promised he would deliver him to them, if they would follow him to the city where he was.

So these men were so darkened by God in their sight and in their mind, that they followed him very diligently; and when Elisha had brought them to Samaria, he ordered Joram the King to shut the gates, and to place his own army round about them; and prayed to God to clear the eyes of these their enemies, and take the mist from before them. Accordingly, when they were freed from the obscurity they had been in, they saw themselves in the midst of their enemies; and as the Syrians were strangely amazed and distressed, as was but reasonable, at an action so Divine and surprising, and as King Joram asked the prophet if he would give him leave to shoot at them, Elisha forbade him so to do; and said, that

"it is just to kill those that are taken in battle, but that these men had done the country no harm, but, without knowing it, were come thither by the Divine Power:"

- so that his counsel was to treat them in a hospitable manner at his table, and then send them away without hurting them. Wherefore Joram obeyed the prophet; and when he had feasted the Syrians in a splendid and magnificent manner, he let them go to Benhadad their king.

Now when these men were come back, and had showed Benhadad how strange an accident had befallen them, and what an appearance and power they had experienced of the God of Israel, he wondered at it, as also at that prophet with whom God was so evidently present; so he determined to make no more secret attempts upon the King of Israel, out of fear of Elisha, but resolved to make open war with them, as supposing he could be too hard for his enemies by the multitude of his army and power. So he made an expedition with a great army against Joram, who, not thinking himself a match for him, shut himself up in Samaria, and depended on the strength of its walls; but Benhadad supposed he should take the city, if not by his engines of war, yet that he should overcome the Samaritans by famine, and the want of necessaries, and brought his army upon them, and besieged the city; and the plenty of necessaries was brought so low with Joram, that from the extremity of want an ass's head was sold in Samaria for fourscore pieces of silver, and the Hebrews bought a sextary of dore's dung, instead of salt, for five pieces of silver. Now Joram was in fear lest somebody should betray the city to the enemy, by reason of the famine, and went every day round the walls and the guards to see whether any such were concealed among them; and by being thus seen, and taking such care, he deprived them of the opportunity of contriving any such thing; and if they had a mind to do it, he, by this means, prevented them: but upon a certain woman's crying out,

"Have pity on me, my lord,"

while he thought that she was about to ask for somewhat to eat, he imprecated God's curse upon her, and said he had neither thrashing-floor nor wine-press, whence he might give her any thing at her petition. Upon which she said she did not desire his aid in any such thing, nor trouble him about food, but desired that he would do her justice as to another woman. And when be bade her say on, and let him know what she desired, she said she had made an agreement with the other woman who was her neighbor and her friend, that because the famine and want was intolerable, they should kill their children, each of them having a son of their own, and we will live upon them ourselves for two days, the one day upon one son, and the other day upon the other;

"and," said she, "I have killed my son the first day, and we lived upon my son yesterday; but this other woman will not do the same thing, but hath broken her agreement, and hath hid her son."

This story mightily grieved Joram when he heard it; so he rent his garment, and cried out with a loud voice, and conceived great wrath against Elisha the prophet, and set himself eagerly to have him slain, because he did not pray to God to provide them some exit and way of escape out of the miseries with which they were surrounded; and sent one away immediately to cut off his head, who made haste to kill the prophet. But Elisha was not unacquainted with the wrath of the King against him; for as he sat in his house by himself, with none but his disciples about him, he told them that Joram, who was the son of a murderer, had sent one to take away his head;

"but," said he, "when he that is commanded to do this comes, take care that you do not let him come in, but press the door against him, and hold him fast there, for the King himself will follow him, and come to me, having altered his mind."

Accordingly, they did as they were bidden, when he that was sent by the King to kill Elisha came. But Joram repented of his wrath against the prophet; and for fear he that was commanded to kill him should have done it before he came, he made haste to hinder his slaughter, and to save the prophet: and when he came to him, he accused him that he did not pray to God for their deliverance from the miseries they now lay under, but saw them so sadly destroyed by them. Hereupon Elisha promised, that the very next day, at the very same hour in which the King came to him, they should have great plenty of food, and that two seahs of barley should be sold in the market for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour should be sold for a shekel. This prediction made Joram, and those that were present, very joyful, for they did not scruple believing what the prophet said, on account of the experience they had of the truth of his former predictions; and the expectation of plenty made the want they were in that day, with the uneasiness that accompanied it, appear a light thing to them: but the captain of the third band, who was a friend of the king, and on whose hand the King leaned, said,

"Thou talkest of incredible things, O prophet! for as it is impossible for God to pour down torrents of barley, or fine flour, out of heaven, so is it impossible that what thou sayest should come to pass."

To which the prophet made this reply,

"Thou shalt see these things come to pass, but thou shalt not be in the least a partaker of them."

Now what Elisha had thus foretold came to pass in the manner following: There was a law at Samaria that those that had the leprosy, and whose bodies were not cleansed from it, should abide without the city: and there were four men that on this account abode before the gates, while nobody gave them any food, by reason of the extremity of the famine; and as they were prohibited from entering into the city by the law, and they considered that if they were permitted to enter, they should miserably perish by the famine; as also, that if they staid where they were, they should suffer in the same manner, - they resolved to deliver themselves up to the enemy, that in case they should spare them, they should live; but if they should be killed, that would be an easy death. So when they had confirmed this their resolution, they came by night to the enemy's camp. Now God had begun to affright and disturb the Syrians, and to bring the noise of chariots and armor to their ears, as though an army were coming upon them, and had made them suspect that it was coming nearer and nearer to them In short, they were in such a dread of this army, that they left their tents, and ran together to Benhadad, and said that Joram the King of Israel had hired for auxiliaries both the King of Egypt and the King of the Islands, and led them against them for they heard the noise of them as they were coming.

And Benhadad believed what they said (for there came the same noise to his ears as well as it did to theirs); so they fell into a mighty disorder and tumult, and left their horses and beasts in their camp, with immense riches also, and betook themselves to flight. And those lepers who had departed from Samaria, and were gone to the camp of the Syrians, of whom we made mention a little before, when they were in the camp, saw nothing but great quietness and silence: accordingly they entered into it, and went hastily into one of their tents; and when they saw nobody there, they eat and drank, and carried garments, and a great quantity of gold, and hid it out of the camp; after which they went into another tent, and carried off what was in it, as they did at the former, and this did they for several times, without the least interruption from any body.

So they gathered thereby that the enemies were departed; whereupon they reproached themselves that they did not inform Joram and the citizens of it. So they came to the walls of Samaria, and called aloud to the watchmen, and told them in what state the enemies were, as did these tell the king's guards, by whose means Joram came to know of it; who then sent for his friends, and the captains of his host, and said to them, that he suspected that this departure of the King of Syria was by way of ambush and treachery, and that out of despair of ruining you by famine, when you imagine them to be fled away, you may come out of the city to spoil their camp, and he may then fall upon you on a sudden, and may both kill you, and take the city without fighting; whence it is that I exhort you to guard the city carefully, and by no means to go out of it, or proudly to despise your enemies, as though they were really gone away.

"And when a certain person said that he did very well and wisely to admit such a suspicion, but that he still advised him to send a couple of horsemen to search all the country as far as Jordan," that "if they were seized by an ambush of the enemy, they might be a security to your army, that they may not go out as if they suspected nothing, nor undergo the like misfortune; and," said he, "those horsemen may be numbered among those that have died by the famine, supposing they be caught and destroyed by the enemy."

So the King was pleased with this opinion, and sent such as might search out the truth, who performed their journey over a road that was without any enemies, but found it full of provisions, and of weapons, that they had therefore thrown away, and left behind them, in order to their being light and expeditious in their flight. When the King heard this, he sent out the multitude to take the spoils of the camp; which gains of theirs were not of things of small value, but they took a great quantity of gold, and a great quantity of silver, and flocks of all kinds of cattle. They also possessed themselves of [so many] ten thousand measures of wheat and barley, as they never in the least dreamed of; and were not only freed from their former miseries, but had such plenty, that two seahs of barley were bought for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, according to the prophecy of Elisha. Now a seah is equal to an Italian modius and a half. The captain of the third band was the only man that received no benefit by this plenty; for as he was appointed by the King to oversee the gate, that lm might prevent the too great crowd of the multitude, and they might not endanger one another to perish, by treading on one another in the press, he suffered himself in that very way, and died in that very manner, as Elisha had foretold such his death, when he alone of them all disbelieved what he said concerning that plenty of provisions which they should soon have.

Hereupon, when Benhadad, the King of Syria, had escaped to Damascus, and understood that it was God himself that cast all his army into this fear and disorder, and that it did not arise from the invasion of enemies, he was mightily cast down at his having God so greatly for his enemy, and fell into a distemper. Now it happened that Elisha the prophet, at that time, was gone out of his own country to Damascus, of which Berthadad was informed: he sent Hazael, the most faithful of all his servants, to meet him, and to carry him presents, and bade him inquire of him about his distemper, and whether he should escape the danger that it threatened. So Hazael came to Elisha with forty camels, that carried the best and most precious fruits that the country of Damascus afforded, as well as those which the king's palace supplied. He saluted him kindly, and said that he was sent to him by King Berthadad, and brought presents with him, in order to inquire concerning his distemper, whether he should recover from it or not. Whereupon the prophet bid him tell the King no melancholy news; but still he said he would die. So the king's servant was troubled to hear it; and Elisha wept also, and his tears ran down plenteously at his foresight of what miseries his people would undergo after the death of Berthadad. And when Hazael asked him what was the occasion of this confusion he was in, he said that he wept out of his commiseration for the multitude of the Israelites, and what terrible miseries they will suffer by thee;

"for thou wilt slay the strongest of them, and wilt burn their strongest cities, and wilt destroy their children, and dash them against the stones, and wilt rip up their women with child."

And when Hazael said,

"How can it be that I should have power enough to do such things ?"

the prophet replied, that God had informed him that he should be King of Syria. So when Hazael was come to Benhadad, he told him good news concerning his distemper but on the next day he spread a wet cloth, in the nature of a net, over him, and strangled him, and took his dominion. He was an active man, and had the good-will of the Syrians, and of the people of Damascus, to a great degree; by whom both Benhadad himself, and Hazael, who ruled after him, are honored to this day as gods, by reason of their benefactions, and their building them temples by which they adorned the city of the Damascenes. They also every day do with great pomp pay their worship to these kings, and value themselves upon their antiquity; nor do they know that these kings are much later than they imagine, and that they are not yet eleven hundred years old. Now when Joram, the King of Israel, heard that Berthadad was dead, he recovered out of the terror and dread he had been in on his account, and was very glad to live in peace.

The wickedness, defeat and death of the King of Jerusalem

Now Jehoram the King of Jerusalem, for we have said before that he had the same name with the King of Israel, as soon as he had taken the government upon him, betook himself to the slaughter of his brethren, and his father's friends, who were governors under him, and thence made a beginning and a demonstration of his wickedness; nor was he at all better than those kings of Israel who at first transgressed against the laws of their country, and of the Hebrews, and against God's worship. And it was Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, whom he had married, who taught him to be a bad man in other respects, and also to worship foreign gods. Now God would not quite root out this family, because of the promise he had made to David. However, Jehoram did not leave off the introduction of new sorts of customs to the propagation of impiety, and to the ruin of the customs of his own country. And when the Edomites about that time had revolted from him, and slain their former king, who was in subjection to his father, and had set up one of their own choosing, Jehoram fell upon the land of Edom, with the horsemen that were about him, and the chariots, by night, and destroyed those that lay near to his own kingdom, but did not proceed further. However, this expedition did him no service, for they all revolted from him, with those that dwelt in the country of Libnah. He was indeed so mad as to compel the people to go up to the high places of the mountains, and worship foreign gods.

As he was doing this, and had entirely cast his own country laws out of his mind, there was brought him an epistle from Elijah the prophet which declared that God would execute great judgments upon him, because he had not imitated his own fathers, but had followed the wicked courses of the kings of Israel; and had compelled the tribe of Judah, and the citizens of Jerusalem, to leave the holy worship of their own God, and to worship idols, as Ahab had compelled the Israelites to do, and because he had slain his brethren, and the men that were good and righteous. And the prophet gave him notice in this epistle what punishment he should undergo for these crimes, namely, the destruction of his people, with the corruption of the king's own wives and children; and that he should himself die of a distemper in his bowels, with long torments, those his bowels falling out by the violence of the inward rottenness of the parts, insomuch that, though he see his own misery, he shall not be able at all to help himself, but shall die in that manner. This it was which Elijah denounced to him in that epistle.

It was not long after this that an army of those Arabians that lived near to Ethiopia, and of the Philistines, fell upon the kingdom of Jehoram, and spoiled the country and the king's house. Moreover, they slew his sons and his wives: one only of his sons was left him, who escaped the enemy; his name was Ahaziah; after which calamity, he himself fell into that disease which was foretold by the prophet, and lasted a great while, (for God inflicted this punishment upon him in his belly, out of his wrath against him,) and so he died miserably, and saw his own bowels fall out. The people also abused his dead body; I suppose it was because they thought that such his death came upon him by the wrath of God, and that therefore he was not worthy to partake of such a funeral as became kings. Accordingly, they neither buried him in the sepulchers of his fathers, nor vouchsafed him any honors, but buried him like a private man, and this when he had lived forty years, and reigned eight. And the people of Jerusalem delivered the government to his son Ahaziah.

Jehu anointed King of Israel then kills two previous kings

NOW Joram, the King of Israel, after the death of Benhadad, hoped that he might now take Ramoth, a city of Gilead, from the Syrians. Accordingly he made an expedition against it, with a great army; but as he was besieging it, an arrow was shot at him by one of the Syrians, but the wound was not mortal. So he returned to have his wound healed in Jezreel, but left his whole army in Ramorb, and Jehu, the son of Nimshi, for their general; for he had already taken the city by force; and he proposed, after he was healed,: to make war with the Syrians; but Elisha the prophet sent one of his disciples to Ramoth, and gave him holy oil to anoint Jehu, and to tell him that God had chosen him to be their king. He also sent him to say other things to him, and bid him to take his journey as if he fled, that when he came away he might escape the knowledge of all men. So when he was come to the city, he found Jehu sitting in the midst of the captains of the army, as Elisha had foretold he should find him. So he came up to him, and said that he desired to speak with him about certain matters; and when he was arisen, and had followed him into an inward chamber, the young man took the oil, and poured it on his head, and said that God ordained him to be king, in order to his destroying the house of Ahab, and that he might revenge the blood of the prophets that were unjustly slain by Jezebel, that so their house might utterly perish, as those of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and of Baasha, had perished for their wickedness, and no seed might remain of Ahab's family. So when he had said this, he went away hastily out of the chamber, and endeavored not to be seen by any of the army.

But Jehu came out, and went to the place where he before sat with the captains; and when they asked him, and desired him to tell them, wherefore it was that this young man came to him, and added withal that he was mad, he replied, -

"You guess right, for the words he spake were the words of a madman;"
and when they were eager about the matter, and desired he would tell them, he answered, that God had said he had chosen him to be King over the multitude.

When he had said this, every one of them put off his garment, and strewed it under him, and blew with trumpets, and gave notice that Jehu was king. So when he had gotten the army together, he was preparing to set out immediately against Joram, at the city Jezreel, in which city, as we said before, he was healing of the wound which he had received in the siege of Ramoth. It happened also that Ahaziah, King of Jerusalem, was now come to Joram, for he was his sister's son, as we have said already, to see how he did after his wound, and this upon account of their kindred; but as Jehu was desirous to fall upon Joram, and those with him, on the sudden, he desired that none of the soldiers might run away and tell to Joram what had happened, for that this would be an evident demonstration of their kindness to him, and would show that their real inclinations were to make him king.

So they were pleased with what he did, and guarded the roads, lest somebody should privately tell the thing to those that were at Jezreel. Now Jehu took his choice horsemen, and sat upon his chariot, and went on for Jezreel; and when he was come near, the watchman whom Joram had set there to spy out such as came to the city, saw Jehu marching on, and told Joram that he saw a troop of horsemen marching on. Upon which he immediately gave orders, that one of his horsemen should be sent out to meet them, and to know who it was that was coming. So when the horseman came up to Jehu, he asked him in what condition the army was, for that the King wanted to know it; but Jehu bid him not at all to meddle with such matters, but to follow him.

When the watchman saw this, he told Joram that the horseman had mingled himself among the company, and came along with them. And when the King had sent a second messenger, Jehu commanded him to do as the former did; and as soon as the watchman told this also to Joram, he at last got upon his chariot himself, together with Ahaziah, the King of Jerusalem; for, as we said before, he was there to see how Joram did, after he had been wounded, as being his relation. So he went out to meet Jehu, who marched slowly, and in good order; and when Joram met him in the field of Naboth, he asked him if all things were well in the camp; but Jehu reproached him bitterly, and ventured to call his mother a witch and a harlot. Upon this the king, fearing what he intended, and suspecting he had no good meaning, turned his chariot about as soon as he could, and said to Ahaziah,

"We are fought against by deceit and treachery."

But Jehu drew his bow, and smote him, the arrow going through his heart: so Joram fell down immediately on his knee, and gave up the ghost. Jehu also gave orders to Bidkar, the captain of the third part of his army, to cast the dead body of Joram into the field of Naboth, putting him in mind of the prophecy which Elijah prophesied to Ahab his father, when he had slain Naboth, that both he and his family should perish in that place; for that as they sat behind Ahab's chariot, they heard the prophet say so, and that it was now come to pass according to his prophecy. Upon the fall of Joram, Ahaziah was afraid of his own life, and turned his chariot into another road, supposing he should not be seen by Jehu; but he followed after him, and overtook him at a certain acclivity, and drew his bow, and wounded him; so he left his chariot, and got upon his horse, and fled from Jehu to Megiddo; and though he was under cure, in a little time he died of that wound, and was carried to Jerusalem, and buried there, after he had reigned one year, and had proved a wicked man, and worse than his father.

Now when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel adorned herself and stood upon a tower, and said, he was a fine servant that had killed his master! And when he looked up to her, he asked who she was, and commanded her to come down to him. At last he ordered the eunuchs to throw her down from the tower; and being thrown down, she be-sprinkled the wall with her blood, and was trodden upon by the horses, and so died. When this was done, Jehu came to the palace with his friends, and took some refreshment after his journey, both with other things, and by eating a meal. He also bid his servants to take up Jezebel and bury her, because of the nobility of her blood, for she was descended from kings; but those that were appointed to bury her found nothing else remaining but the extreme parts of her body, for all the rest were eaten by dogs. When Jehu heard this, he admired the prophecy of Elijah, for he foretold that she should perish in this manner at Jezreel.

Now Ahab had seventy sons brought up in Samaria. So Jehu sent two epistles, the one to them that brought up the children, the other to the rulers of Samaria, which said, that they should set up the most valiant of Ahab's sons for king, for that they had abundance of chariots, and horses, and armor, and a great army, and fenced cities, and that by so doing they might avenge the murder of Ahab. This he wrote to try the intentions of those of Samaria. Now when the rulers, and those that had brought up the children, had read the letter, they were afraid; and considering that they were not at all able to oppose him, who had already subdued two very great kings, they returned him this answer: That they owned him for their lord, and would do whatsoever he bade them. So he wrote back to them such a reply as enjoined them to obey what he gave order for, and to cut off the heads of Ahab's sons, and send them to him. Accordingly the rulers sent for those that brought up the sons of Ahab, and commanded them to slay them, to cut off their heads, and send them to Jehu. So they did whatsoever they were commanded, without omitting any thing at all, and put them up in wicker baskets, and sent them to Jezreel.

And when Jehu, as he was at supper with his friends, was informed that the heads of Ahab's' sons were brought, he ordered them to make two heaps of them, one before each of the gates; and in the morning he went out to take a view of them, and when he saw them, he began to say to the people that were present, that he did himself make an expedition against his master [Joram], and slew him, but that it was not he that slew all these; and he desired them to take notice, that as to Ahab's family, all things had come to pass according to God's prophecy, and his house was perished, according as Elijah had foretold. And when he had further destroyed all the kindred of Ahab that were found in Jezreel, he went to Samaria; and as he was upon the road, he met the relations of Ahaziah King of Jerusalem, and asked them whither they were going? they replied, that they came to salute Joram, and their own King Ahaziah, for they knew not that he had slain them both. So Jehu gave orders that they should catch these, and kill them, being in number forty-two persons.

After these, there met him a good and a righteous man, whose name was Jehonadab, and who had been his friend of old. He saluted Jehu, and began to commend him, because he had done every thing according to the will of God, in extirpating the house of Ahab. So Jehu desired him to come up into his chariot, and make his entry with him into Samaria; and told him that he would not spare one wicked man, but would punish the false prophets, and false priests, and those that deceived the multitude, and persuaded them to leave the worship of God Almighty, and to worship foreign gods; and that it was a most excellent and most pleasing sight to a good and a righteous man to see the wicked punished. So Jehonadab was persuaded by these arguments, and came up into Jehu's chariot, and came to Samaria. And Jehu sought out for all Ahab's kindred, and slew them.

And being desirous that none of the false prophets, nor the priests of Ahab's god, might escape punishment, he caught them deceitfully by this wile; for he gathered all the people together, and said that he would worship twice as many gods as Ahab worshipped, and desired that his priests, and prophets, and servants might be present, because he would offer costly and great sacrifices to Ahab's god; and that if any of his priests were wanting, they should be punished with death. Now Ahab's god was called Baal; and when he had appointed a day on which he would offer those sacrifices, he sent messengers through all the country of the Israelites, that they might bring the priests of Baal to him. So Jehu commanded to give all the priests vestments; and when they had received them, he went into the house [of Baal], with his friend Jehonadab, and gave orders to make search whether there were not any foreigner or stranger among them, for he would have no one of a different religion to mix among their sacred offices.

And when they said that there was no stranger there, and they were beginning their sacrifices, he set fourscore men without, they being such of his soldiers as he knew to be most faithful to him, and bid them slay the prophets, and now vindicate the laws of their country, which had been a long time in disesteem. He also threatened, that if any one of them escaped, their own lives should go for them. So they slew them all with the sword, and burnt the house of Baal, and by that means purged Samaria of foreign customs [idolatrous worship]. Now this Baal was the god of the Tyrians; and Ahab, in order to gratify his father-in-law, Ethbaal, who was the King of Tyre and Sidon, built a temple for him in Samaria, and appointed him prophets, and worshipped him with all sorts of worship, although, when this god was demolished, Jehu permitted the Israelites to worship the golden heifers. However, because he had done thus, and taken care to punish the wicked, God foretold by his prophet that his sons should reign over Israel for four generations. And in this condition was Jehu at this time.

Queen Athaliah reigns over Kingdom of Judah

Now when Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, heard of the death of her brother Joram, and of her son Ahaziah, and of the royal family, she endeavored that none of the house of David might be left alive, but that the whole family might be exterminated, that no King might arise out of it afterward; and, as she thought, she had actually done it; but one of Ahaziah's sons was preserved, who escaped death after the manner following: Ahaziah had a sister by the same father, whose name was Jehosheba, and she was married to the high priest Jehoiada. She went into the king's palace, and found Jehoash, for that was the little child's name, who was not above a year old, among those that were slain, but concealed with his nurse; so she took him with her into a secret bed-chamber, and shut him up there, and she and her husband Jehoiada brought him up privately in the temple six years, during which time Athaliah reigned over Jerusalem and the two tribes.

Now, on the Seventh year, Jehoiada communicated the matter to certain of the captains of hundreds, five in number, and persuaded them to be assisting to what attempts he was making against Athaliah, and to join with him in asserting the kingdom to the child. He also received such oaths from them as are proper to secure those that assist one another from the fear of discovery; and he was then of good hope that they should depose Athaliah. Now those men whom Jehoiada the priest had taken to be his partners went into all the country, and gathered together the priests and the Levites, and the heads of the tribes out of it, and came and brought them to Jerusalem to the high priest. So he demanded the security of an oath of them, to keep private whatsoever he should discover to them, which required both their silence and their assistance. So when they had taken the oath, and had thereby made it safe for him to speak, he produced the child that he had brought up of the family of David, and said to them,

"This is your king, of that house which you know God hath foretold should reign over you for all time to come. I exhort you therefore that one-third part of you guard him in the temple, and that a fourth part keep watch at all the gates of the temple, and that the next part of you keep guard at the gate which opens and leads to the king's palace, and let the rest of the multitude be unarmed in the temple, and let no armed person go into the temple, but the priest only."
He also gave them this order besides,
"That a part of the priests and the Levites should be about the King himself, and be a guard to him, with their drawn swords, and to kill that man immediately, whoever he be, that should be so bold as to enter armed into the temple; and bid them be afraid of nobody, but persevere in guarding the king."

So these men obeyed what the high priest advised them to, and declared the reality of their resolution by their actions. Jehoiada also opened that armory which David had made in the temple, and distributed to the captains of hundreds, as also to the priests and Levites, all the spears and quivers, and what kind of weapons so ever it contained, and set them armed in a circle round about the temple, so as to touch one another's hands, and by that means excluding those from entering that ought not to enter. So they brought the child into the midst of them, and put on him the royal crown, and Jehoiada anointed him with the oil, and made him king; and the multitude rejoiced, and made a noise, and cried,

"God save the king!"

When Athaliah unexpectedly heard the tumult and the acclamations, she was greatly disturbed in her mind, and suddenly issued out of the royal palace with her own army; and when she was come to the temple, the priests received her; but as for those that stood round about the temple, as they were ordered by the high priest to do, they hindered the armed inert that followed her from going in. But when Athaliah saw the child standing upon a pillar, with the royal crown upon his head, she rent her clothes, and cried out vehemently, and commanded [her guards] to kill him that had laid snares for her, and endeavored to deprive her of the government. But Jehoiada called for the captains of hundreds, and commanded them to bring Athaliah to the valley of Cedron, and slay her there, for he would not have the temple defiled with the punishments of this pernicious woman; and he gave order, that if any one came near to help her, he should be slain also; wherefore those that had the charge of her slaughter took hold of her, and led her to the gate of the king's mules, arid slew her there.

Now as soon as what concerned Athaliah was by this stratagem, after this manner, despatched, Jehoiada called together the people and the armed men into the temple, and made them take an oath that they would be obedient to the king, and take care of his safety, and of the safety of his government; after which he obliged the King to give security [upon oath] that he would worship God, and not transgress the laws of Moses. They then ran to the house of Baal, which Athaliah and her husband Jehoram had built, to the dishonor of the God of their fathers, and to the honor of Ahab, and demolished it, and slew Mattan, that had his priesthood. But Jehoiada entrusted the care and custody of the temple to the priests and Levites, according to the appointment of King David, and enjoined them to bring their regular burnt-offerings twice a day, and to offer incense according to the law. He also ordained some of the Levites, with the porters, to be a guard to the temple, that no one that was defiled might come there.

And when Jehoiada had set these things in order, he, with the captains of hundreds, and the rulers, and all the people, took Jehoash out of the temple into the king's palace; and when he had set him upon the king's throne, the people shouted for joy, and betook themselves to feasting, and kept a festival for many days; but the city was quiet upon the death of Athaliah. Now Jehoash was seven years old when he took the kingdom. His mother's name was Zibiah, of the city Beersheba. And all the time that Jehoiada lived Jehoash was careful that the laws should be kept, and very zealous in the worship of God; and when he was of age, he married two wives, who were given to him by the high priest, by whom were born to him both sons and daughters. And thus much shall suffice to have related concerning King Jehoash, how he escaped the treachery of Athaliah, and how he received the kingdom.

Adapted from
Antiquities of the Jews
by Flavius Josephus
Creation of
the World
King Saul
conquers Amalekites
War with Syria Simon wars
with Trypho
Herod considers
suicide, sons killed
Abraham fights
King David
rules over Israel
Assyria wars
with Judah
Hyrcanus wars
with Aristobulus
Caesar taxes
Syria and Judea
Parting of
the Red Sea
against David
Babylon sets
up Judah's King
Herod the Great
spoils Jerusalem
King Agrippa
goes to Rome
Aaron's Priesthood King Solomon
King Cyrus frees
Jews from Babylon
The laws of
King Herod
Roman Senators
want democracy
Gideon delivers
Israel from Midianites
Kingdom of
Israel Splits
Esther saves
the Jews
King David's
tomb robbed
Claudius becomes
Roman Emperor
God destroys
the Philistines
Jews overcome
their enemies
Antiochus makes
war against Jerusalem
nine wives

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