Page 0293

293 BABYbONlA -CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.

came to the throne in B. C. 730, and held it for nine years. After a two years' siege of

his capital, he was taken and the nationality of Israel extinguished by Shalmaneser.

The kingdom of Judah, ruled over by the descendants of David during twenty reigns -

covering a period of three hundred and sixty-nine years'-has a history somewhat more

reputable than that of Israel. The people had fewer vices, and fewer of their kings

suffered death by violence. A long list of misfortunes, however, came upon the kingdom,

not a few of which were precipitated either by the folly of the people or the treachery of

their rulers. Judah, as has already been asserted, lay on the highway between Babylonia

and Egypt, the rival powers of the East and the West; and the Jewish nation was not

infrequently ground between the upper and the nether mill-stone. Thus, during the reign of

Rehoboam, the first king of Judah, Jerusalem was taken and pillaged by Shishak of Egypt.

There were, also, constant troubles with Israel. ABIJAM, the successor of Rehoboam, gained

some successes over that kingdom, especially the capture of Bethel, one of the ancient

sacred places of the nation. Asa, the next king, was so hard pressed, by the Egyptians on

one side and the Israelites on the other, that he was obliged to despoil the temple of its

treasures in order to purchase the help of Ben-hadad of Damascus. JEHOSAPHAT, the next

king, made an alliance with the Israelite Ahab, and the two made common cause against the

Syrians; but the people of Judah paid dearly for the advantage on account of the

idolatrous practices which flowed in with this friendly intercourse. While JEHORAM was

king, a horde of Philistines and Arabs gained possession of Jerusalem. Later, Athaliah,

mother of AGAZIAH, killed all of her offspring, except Joash, and instituted the worship

of Baal instead of that of Jehovah. Idolatry was rampant for a season, until the queen was

overthrown in a revolt headed by Jehoida, the high-priest.

Of-the reigns of JOASH, AMAZIAH, UZZIAH, JOTHAM, AHAZ, HEZEKIAH, MANASSEH, and AMON there

is little to be recorded, except a steady decline of the kingdom,

accompanied with domestic troubles and petty wars. JOSIAH'S reign was an epoch of partial

restoration. The land was cleared of idolatry. The pagan altars were everywhere broken,

down and the idols ground to dust. After this work was done the temple was renovated, and

the ancient worship of Jehovah restored in comparative purity. It was at this time that a

copy of the Mosaic Law was found and brought forth as a swift witness against the

degeneracy of the Jewish nation.

The close of the reign of Josiah corresponds with the date of those devastating incursions

of the Scythians, which have been hitherto narrated in the Second and Third Books. These

barbarians found their way into Palestine, and even as far as Ascalon and Bethshan. At the

former city they captured and despoiled the temple of Astarte, and the latter place took

the name of the savage invaders, being known for many centuries as Scythopolis. About the

same time that Judah was thus overrun by savages from the north-east, Pharaoh Necho of

Egypt started on his campaign against Babylonia. Josiah, the king, for once loyal to the

Babylonian sovereign, undertook to oppose the Egyptian's progress, but in the great battle

of MEGIDDO was defeated and slain. Then followed the brief and disastrous reigns of

JEHOIAKIM and JEHOIACHIN, and finally that of ZEDEKIAH, whose relations with

Nebuchadnezzar were narrated at the beginning of this digression. With the overthrow of

Zedekiah, in the year B. C. 586, the kingdom of Judah was extinguished. It had survived

the rival kingdom established by Jeroboam one hundred and thirty-five years, but finally

yielded to the same forces which had brought to an end the erratic career of the Ten

Tribes of Israel.

Resuming, then, the thread of Babylonian history: Tyre fell. For thirteen years it had

withstood the siege, but in the year after the downfall of Jerusalem, namely, in B. C.

585, Nebuchadnezzar, now relieved from his embarrassments with the Jews, renewed in person

the assaults on the Phoenician capital, and the investment was pressed to a successful

issue.