Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Sixty-Three Years.
From The Death Of David To The Death Of Ahab.
Concerning The Death Of A Son Of Jeroboam. How Jeroboam Was Beaten By Abijah Who Died A Little Afterward And Was Succeeded In His Kingdom By Asa. And Also How, After The Death Of Jeroboam Baasha Destroyed His Son Nadab And All The House Of Jeroboam.
1. HOWEVER, God was in no long time ready to return Jeroboam's wicked actions, and the punishment they deserved, upon his own head, and upon the heads of all his house. And whereas a soil of his lay sick at that time, who was called Abijah, he enjoined his wife to lay aside her robes, and to take the garments belonging to a private person, and to go to Ahijah the prophet, for that he was a wonderful man in foretelling futurities, it having been he who told me that I should be king. He also enjoined her, when she came to him, to inquire concerning the child, as if she were a stranger, whether he should escape this distemper. So she did as her husband bade her, and changed her habit, and came to the city Shiloh, for there did Ahijah live. And as she was going into his house, his eyes being then dim with age, God appeared to him, and informed him of two things; that the wife of Jeroboam was come to him, and what answer he should make to her inquiry. Accordingly, as the woman was coming into the house like a private person and a stranger, he cried out,
"Come in, O thou wife of Jeroboam! Why concealest thou thyself? Thou art not concealed from God, who hath appeared to me, and informed me that thou wast coming, and hath given me in command what I shall say to thee."
So he said that she should go away to her husband, and speak to him thus:
"Since I made thee a great man when thou wast little, or rather wast nothing, and rent the kingdom from the house of David, and gave it to thee, and thou hast been unmindful of these benefits, hast left off my worship, hast made thee molten gods and honored them, I will in like manner cast thee down again, and will destroy all thy house, and make them food for the dogs and the fowls; for a certain king is rising up, by appointment, over all this people, who shall leave none of the family of Jeroboam remaining. The multitude also shall themselves partake of the same punishment, and shall be cast out of this good land, and shall be scattered into the places beyond Euphrates, because they have followed the wicked practices of their king, and have worshipped the gods that he made, and forsaken my sacrifices. But do thou, O woman, make haste back to thy husband, and tell him this message; but thou shalt then find thy son dead, for as thou enterest the city he shall depart this life; yet shall he be buried with the lamentation of all the multitude, and honored with a general mourning, for he was the only person of goodness of Jeroboam's family."
When the prophet had foretold these events, the woman went hastily away with a disordered mind, and greatly grieved at the death of the forenamed child. So she was in lamentation as she went along the road, and mourned for the death of her son, that was just at hand. She was indeed in a miserable condition at the unavoidable misery of his death, and went apace, but in circumstances very unfortunate, because of her son: for the greater haste she made, she would the sooner see her son dead, yet was she forced to make such haste on account of her husband. Accordingly, when she was come back, she found that the child had given up the ghost, as the prophet had said; and she related all the circumstances to the king.
2. Yet did not Jeroboam lay any of these things to heart, but he brought together a very numerous army, and made a warlike expedition against Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, who had succeeded his father in the kingdom of the two tribes; for he despised him because of his age. But when he heard of the expedition of Jeroboam, he was not affrighted at it, but proved of a courageous temper of mind, superior both to his youth and to the hopes of his enemy; so he chose him an army out of the two tribes, and met Jeroboam at a place called Mount Zemaraim, and pitched his camp near the other, and prepared everything necessary for the fight. His army consisted of four hundred thousand, but the army of Jeroboam was double to it. Now as the armies stood in array, ready for action and dangers, and were just going to fight, Abijah stood upon an elevated place, and beckoning with his hand, he desired the multitude and Jeroboam himself to hear first with silence what he had to say. And when silence was made, he began to speak, and told them, -
3. This was the speech which Abijah made to the multitude. But while he was still speaking Jeroboam sent some of his soldiers privately to encompass Abijab round about, on certain parts of the camp that were not taken notice of; and when he was thus within the compass of the enemy, his army was affrighted, and their courage failed them; but Abijah encouraged them, and exhorted them to place their hopes on God, for that he was not encompassed by the enemy. So they all at once implored the Divine assistance, while the priests sounded with the trumpet, and they made a shout, and fell upon their enemies, and God brake the courage and cast down the force of their enemies, and made Ahijah's army superior to them; for God vouchsafed to grant them a wonderful and very famous victory; and such a slaughter was now made of Jeroboam's army (30) as is never recorded to have happened in any other war, whether it were of the Greeks or of the Barbarians, for they overthrew [and slew] five hundred thousand of their enemies, and they took their strongest cities by force, and spoiled them; and besides those, they did the same to Bethel and her towns, and Jeshanah and her towns.
And after this defeat Jeroboam never recovered himself during the life of Abijah, who yet did not long survive, for he reigned but three years, and was buried in Jerusalem in the sepulchers of his forefathers. He left behind him twenty-two sons, and sixteen daughters; and he had also those children by fourteen wives; and Asa his son succeeded in the kingdom; and the young man's mother was Michaiah. Under his reign the country of the Israelites enjoyed peace for ten years.
4. And so far concerning Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, as his history hath come down to us. But Jeroboam, the king of the ten tribes, died when he had governed them two and twenty years; whose son Nadab succeeded him, in the second year of the reign of Asa. Now Jeroboam's son governed two years, and resembled his father in impiety and wickedness. In these two years he made an expedition against Gibbethon, a city of the Philistines, and continued the siege in order to take it; but he was conspired against while he was there by a friend of his, whose name was Baasha, the son of Ahijah, and was slain; which Baasha took the kingdom after the other's death, and destroyed the whole house of Jeroboam. It also came to pass, according as God had foretold, that some of Jeroboam's kindred that died in the city were torn to pieces and devoured by dogs, and that others of them that died in the fields were torn and devoured by the fowls. So the house of Jeroboam suffered the just punishment of his impiety, and of his wicked actions.
(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.