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wholly to Ahab: as godly princes very seldom thrive by matching with idolaters, but rather serve the turns of those false friends, who being ill affected to God himself, cannot be well affected to his servants. Before their setting forth, Ahab designed as king his son Ahaziah; not so much perhaps in regard of the uncertain events of war, (for none of his predecessors had ever done the like upon the like occasions,) nor as fearing the threatenings of the prophet Michaiah, (for he despised them,) as inviting Jehoshaphat by his own example to take the same course, wherein he prevailed.
SECT. II. Probable conjectures of the motives inducing the old king Jehoshaphat to change his purpose often, in making his son Jehoram king MANY arguments do very strongly prove Jehoram to have been wholly overruled by his wife ; especially for his forsaking the religion of his godly ancestors, and following the abominable superstitions of the house of Ahab.
That she was a woman of intolerable pride, and abhorring to live a private life, the whole course of her actions witnesseth at large. Much vain matter she was able to produce, whereby to make her husband think that his brethren and kindred were but mean and unworthy persons in comparison of him and of his children, which were begotten upon the daughter and sister of two great kings, not upon base women and mere subjects. The court of Ahab, and his famous victories obtained against the Syrian Benhadad, were matter sufficient to make an insolent man think highly of himself, as being allied so honourably; who could otherwise have found in his heart well enough to despise all his brethren, as being the eldest and heir apparent to the crown, whereof already he had, in a manner, the possession. .
How soon his vices brake out, or how long he dissembled them and his idolatrous religion, it cannot certainly be known. Like enough it is, that some smoke, out of the hidden fire, did very soon make his father's eyes to water; who. thereupon caused the young man to know himself better, by making him fall back into rank among his younger brethren. And surely the doings of Jehoshaphat, about the same time, argue no small distemper of the whole country, through the misgovernment of his ungodly son. For the good old king was fain to make his progress round about the land, reclaiming the people unto the service of God, and appointing judges k throughout all the strong cities of Juda, city by city. This had been a needless labour, if the religion taught and strongly maintained by Asa and by himself had not suffered alteration, and the course of justice been perverted by the power of such as had borne authority. But the necessity that then was of reformation, appears by the charge which the king did give to the judges; and by his commission given to one of the priests in spiritual causes, and to the steward of his house in temporal matters, to be general overseers. · This was not till after the death of Ahaziah the son of Ahab; but how long after, it is uncertain. For Jehoram, the brother of Ahaziah, began his reign (as hath been already noted) in the eighteenth of Jehoshaphat, which was then accounted the second of Jehoram, Jehoshaphat's son, though afterwards this Jehoram of Juda had another first and second year even in his father's time, before he reigned alone, as the best chronologers and expositors of the holy text agree. So he continued in private estate until the two and twentieth of his father's reign, at which time, though the occasions inducing his restitution to former dignity are not set down, yet we may not think that motives thereto appearing substantial were wanting. Jehoram of Israel held the same correspondency with Jehoshaphat that his father had done, and made use of it. He drew the Judæan into the war of Moab, at which time it might well be, that the young prince of Juda was again ordained king by his father, as in the Syrian expedition he had been. : Or if we ought rather to think, that the preparations for the enterprise against Moab did not occupy so much time as from the eighteenth of Jehoshaphat, in which year that nation re
belled against Israel, unto his two and twentieth ; yet the daily negotiations between the two kings of Juda and Israel, and the affinity between them contracted in the person of Jehoram, might offer some good occasions thereunto. Neither is it certain how the behaviour of the younger sons, in their elder brother's disgrace, might cause their father to put him in possession, for fear of tumult after his death ; or the deep dissimulation of Jehoram himself might win the good opinion both of his father and brethren ; it being a thing usual in mischievous fell natures, to be as abject and servile in time of adversity, as insolent and bloody upon advantage. This is manifest, that being repossessed of his former estate, he demeaned himself in such wise towards his brethren, as caused their father to enable them, not only with store of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, (which kind of liberality other kings doubtless had used unto their younger sons,) but with the custody of strong cities in Juda, to assure them, if it might have been, by unwonted means against unwonted perils.
SECT. III. The doings of Jehoram when he reigned alone; and the rebellion
of Edom and Libna. BUT all this providence availed nothing; for an higher Providence had otherwise determined of the sequel. When once the good old man their father was dead, the younger sons of Jehoshaphat found strong cities a weak defence against the power of him to whom the citizens were obedient. If they came in upon the summons of the king their brother, then had he them without more ado; if they stood upon their guard, then were they traitors, and so unable to hold out against him, who, besides his own power, was able to bring the forces of the Israelitish kingdom against them; so that the apparent likelihood of their final overthrow sufficed to make all forsake them in the very beginning. Howsoever it was, they were all taken and slain, and with them for company many great men of the land ; such
12 Chron. xxi. 3.
belike as either had taken their part, when the tyrant sought their lives, or had been appointed rulers of the country when Jehoram was deposed from his government; in which office they, without forbearing to do justice, could hardly avoid the doing of many things derogatory to their young master, which if he would now call treason, saying that he was then king, who durst say the contrary ?
After this, Jehoram took upon him, as being now lord alone, to make innovations in religion ; wherein he was not contented, as other idolatrous princes, to give way and safe conduct unto superstition and idolatry, nor to provoke and encourage the people to that sin, whereto it is wonderful that they were so much addicted, having such knowledge of God, and of his detesting that above all other sins; but he used compulsion, and was (if not the very first) the first that is registered to have set up irreligion by force.
Whilst he was thus busied at home in doing what he listed, the Edomites his tributaries rebelled against him abroad; and having hitherto, since David's time, been governed by a viceroy, did now make unto themselves a king. Against these Jehoram in person made an expedition, taking along with him his princes, and all his chariots, with which he obtained victory in the field, compelling the rebels to fly into their places of advantage, whereof he forced no one, but went away contented with the honour that he had gotten in beating and killing some of those whom he should have subdued, and kept his servants. Now began the prophecy of Isaac to take effect, wherein he foretold, that Esau in process of time should break the yoke of Jacob. For after this, the Edomites could never be reclaimed by any of the kings of Juda, but held their own so well, that when, after many civil and foreign wars, the Jews by sundry nations had been brought low; Antipater the Edomite, with Herod his son, and others of that race following them, became lords of the Jews in the decrepit age of Israel, and reigned as kings even in Jerusalem itself.
The freedom of the Edomites, though purchased some whạt dearly, encouraged Libna, a great city within Juda, which in the time of Joshua had a peculiar king, to rebel against Jehoram, and set itself at liberty. Libna stood in the confines of Benjamin and of Dan, far from the assistance of any bordering enemies to Juda, and therefore so unlikely it was to have maintained itself in liberty, that it may seem strange how it could escape from utter destruction, or at the least from some terrible vengeance, most likely to have been taken by their powerful, cruel, and throughly incensed lord. The Israelite held such good intelligence at that time with Juda, that he would not have accepted the town, had it offered itself unto him: neither do we read that it sought how to cast itself into a new subjection, but continued a free estate. The rebellion of it against Jehoram was m because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers; which I take to have not only been the first and remote cause, but even the next and immediate reason, moving the inhabitants to do as they did; for it was a town of the Levites, who must needs be driven into great extremities, when a religion contrary to God's law had not only some allowance to countenance it by the king, but compulsive authority to force unto it all that were unwilling. As for the use of the temple at Jerusalem, (which, being devout men, they might fear to lose by this rebellion,) it was never denied to those of the ten revolted tribes by any of the religious kings, who rather invited the n Israelites thither, and gave them kind entertainment: under idolaters they must have been without it, whether they lived free or in subjection. Yet it seems that private reasons were not wanting, which might move them rather to do than to suffer that which was unwarrantable. For in the general visitation before remembered, wherein Jehoshaphat reformed his kingdom, the good old king appointing new governors, and giving them especial charge to do justice without respect of persons, used these words; The Levites shall be officers before you ; be of good courage and do it, and the Lord shall be with the good. By these phrases, it seems, that he encouraged them against the more powerful than just pro