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in the five and fifty years of Manasses ; that which hath already been told is enough; the rest, being not greatly worth remembrance, may well be omitted, reserving only Ben Merodach and Nabulassar to the business that will shortly require more mention of them.
CHAP. XXVIII. Of the times from the death of Manasses to the destruction
Of Ammon and Josias. AMMON the son of Manasses, a man no less wicked than was his father before his conversion, restored the exercise of all sorts of idolatry; for which dGod hardened the hearts of his own servants against him, who slew him after he had reigned two years : Philo, Eusebius, and Nicephorus give him ten years, following the Septuagint.
Josias succeeded unto Ammon, being but a child of eight years old. He began to seek after the God of David his father, and in his twelfth year he purged e Juda and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved and molten images. And they brake down in his sight the altars of Baalim. He caused all the images, as well those which were graven as molten, to be stamped to powder, and strewed on their graves that had erected them; and this he commanded to be done throughout all his dominions. He also slew those that sacrificed to the sun and moon, and caused the chariots and horses of the sun to be burnt. Of Josias it was prophesied, in the time of Jeroboam the first, when he erected the golden calf at Bethel, that a child should be born unto the house of David, Josias by name, and fupon thee (said the prophet, speaking to the altar) shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places, that burn incense upon thee. A prophecy very remarkable. d 2 Kings xxi. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 2 Kings xxii. 2 Chron. 34. f 1 Kings xiii.
In the eighteenth year of his reign he rebuilt and repaired the temple, at which time Hilkiah the priest found the book of Moses, called Deuteronomy, or, of the law, which he sent to the king : which when he had caused to be read before him, and considered of the severe commandments therein written, the prosperity promised to those that observe them, and the sorrow and extirpation to the rest, he rent his garments, and commanded Hilkiah and others to ask counsel of the prophetess Huldah, or Olda, concerning the book, who answered the messengers in these words: & Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Juda: because they have forsaken me, and burnt incense to other gods. Only for the h king himself, because he was a lover of God and of his laws, it was promised that this evil should not fall on Juda and Jerusalem in his days, but that he himself should inherit his grave in peace.
Josias assembled the elders, caused the book to be read unto them, made a covenant with the Lord, and caused all that were found in Jerusalem and Benjamin to do the like, promising thereby to observe the laws and commandments in the book contained.
The execution done by Josias upon the altar, idols, monuments, and bones of the false prophets at Bethel, argueth his dominion to have extended unto those countries that had been part of the kingdom of the ten tribes. Yet I do not think that any victory of Josias in war got possession of these places, but rather that Ezekias, after the flight and death of Sennacherib, when Merodach opposed himself against Asarhaddon, did use the advantage which the faction in the north presented unto him, and laid hold upon so much of the kingdom of Israel as he was able to people, Otherwise also it is not improbable, that the Babylonian, finding himself unable to deal with Psammiticus in Syria, (as wanting power to raise the siege of Azotus, though the town held out twenty-nine years,) did give unto Manasses,
8 2 Chron. xxxiv. 24, 25. h 2 Kings xxii. 18. 2 Chron. xxxiv. RALEGH, HIST. WORLD, VOL. II. 3 E
together with his liberty, as much in Israel as himself could not easily defend. This was a good way to break the amity that the kings of Juda had so long held with those of Egypt, by casting a bone between them, and withal, by this benefit of enlarging their territory with addition of more than they could challenge, to redeem the friendship of the Jews, which had been lost by injuries done in seeking to bereave them of their own. When it is said that Manasses did, after his deliverance from imprisonment, i put captains of war in all the strong cities of Juda, it may be that some such business is intimated as the taking possession, and fortifying of places delivered into his hands. For though it be manifest that he took much pains in making Jerusalem itself more defensible, yet I should rather believe that he, having already compounded with the Babylonian, did fortify himself against the Egyptians, whose side he had forsaken, than that he travailed in making such provisions only for his mind's sake. The earnestness of Josias in the king of Babel's quarrel doth argue, that the composition which Manasses had made with that king or his ancestor was upon such friendly terms as required not only a faithful observation, but a thankful requital. For no persuasions could suffice to make Josias sit still, and hold himself quiet · in good neutrality, when Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt passed along by him to war upon the countries about the river of Euphrates.
The last year of Josias's reign it was, when as Necho the son of Psammiticus came with a powerful army towards the border of Judæa, determining to pass that way, being the nearest towards k Euphrates, either to strengthen the passages of that river about Carchemish, or Cercusium, for the defence of Syria, (as, long after this, Dioclesian is said by Ammianus Marcellinus to have done, or perhaps to invade Syria itself. For it seemeth that the travail of Psammiticus had not been idly consumed about that one town of Azotus, but had put the Egyptians in possession of no small part of Syria, espe
i 2 Chron. xxxiii. 14.
k 2 Chron. XXXV. 20.
cially in those quarters that had formerly belonged unto the Adads, kings of Damasco.
Neither was the industry of Necho less than his father's had been, in pursuing the war against Babel. In which war two things may greatly have availed the Egyptians, and advanced their affairs and hopes; the extraordinary valour of the mercenary Greeks, thạt were far better soldiers than Egypt could of itself afford, and the danger wherein Assyria stood by the force of the Medes, which under the command of more absolute princes began to feel itself better, and to shew what it could do. These were great helps, but of shorter endurance than was the war, as in place more convenient shall be noted. At the present it seems, that either some preparation of the Chaldeans to reconquer did enforce, or some disability of theirs to make resistance did invite, the king of Egypt into the countries bordering upon Euphrates, whither Pharaoh Necho ascended with a mighty army.
These two great monarchs having their swords drawn, and contending for the empire of that part of the world, Josias advised with himself to which of these he might adhere, having his territory set in the midway between both, so as the one could not invade the other, but that they must of necessity tread upon the very face and body of his country : now though it were so, that Necho himself desired by his ambassadors i leave to pass along by Judæa, protesting that he directed himself against the Assyrians only, without all harmful purpose against Josias ; yet all sufficed not, but the king of Israel would needs fight with him.
Many examples there were which taught what little good the friendship of Egypt could bring to those that had affiance therein; as that of Hosea, the last king of Israel, who, when he fell from the dependance of the Assyrian, and wholly trusted to Sabacus, or Sous, king of Egypt, was ut: terly disappointed of his hopes, and in conclusion lost both his life and estate, which the Assyrian so rooted up and tare in pieces, as it could never after be gathered together, or replanted. The calamities also that fell upon Juda in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of Ezekias, whilst that good king and his people relied upon Sethon, and more lately, the imprisonment of Manasses, were documents of sufficient proof to shew the ill assurance that was in the help of the Egyptians, who (near neighbours though they were) were always unready when the necessities of their friends required their assistance. The remembrance hereof might be the reason why Necho did not seek to have the Jews renew their ancient league with him, but only craved that they would be contented to sit still, and behold the pastime between him and the Assyrians. This was an easy thing to grant, seeing that the countenance of such an army, as did soon after this outface Nabulassar upon his own borders, left unto the Jews a lawful excuse of fear, had they forborne to give it any check upon the way. Wherefore I believe, that this religious and virtuous prince Josias was not stirred up only by politic respects to stop the way of Necho, but thought himself bound in faith and honour to do his best in defence of the Babylonian crown, whereunto his kingdom was obliged, either by covenant made at the enlargement of Manasses, or by the gift of such part as he held in the kingdom of the ten tribes. As for the princes and people of Juda, they had now a good occasion to shew, both unto the Babylonians, of what importance their friendship was, and to the Egyptians, what a valiant nation they had abandoned, and thereby made their enemy.
1 2 Chrou. xxxv.
Some think that this action of Josias was contrary to the advice of Jeremy the prophet, which I do not find in the prophecy of Jeremy, nor can find reason to believe. Others hold opinion, that he forgat to ask the counsel of God; and this is very likely, seeing he might believe that an enterprise grounded upon fidelity and thankfulness due to the king of Babel could not but be displeasing unto the Lord. But the wickedness of the people (in whom the corruptions of former times had taken such root, as all the care of Josias in reforming the land could not pluck up) was questionless far from hearkening how the matter would stand with God's