Ancient States and Empires
For Colleges And Schools
John Lord LL.D.
Author of the "Old Roman World"
"Modern History" &c.
Charles Scribner & Company
PREFACE. BOOK I. ANCIENT ORIENTAL NATIONS. CHAPTER I. THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD. CHAPTER II. POSTDILUVIAN HISTORY TO THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.—THE PATRIARCHAL CONSTITUTION, AND THE DIVISION OF NATIONS. CHAPTER III. THE HEBREW RACE FROM ABRAHAM TO THE SALE OF JOSEPH. CHAPTER IV. EGYPT AND THE PHARAOHS. CHAPTER V. THE JEWS UNTIL THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN. CHAPTER VI. THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF DAVID. CHAPTER VII. THE JEWISH MONARCHY. CHAPTER VIII. THE OLD CHALDEAN AND ASSYRIAN MONARCHIES. CHAPTER IX. THE EMPIRE OF THE MEDES AND PERSIANS. CHAPTER X. ASIA MINOR AND PHOENICIA. CHAPTER XI. JEWISH HISTORY FROM THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY TO THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.—THE HIGH PRIESTS AND THE ASMONEAN AND IDUMEAN KINGS. CHAPTER XII. THE ROMAN GOVERNORS. BOOK II. THE GRECIAN STATES. CHAPTER XIII. THE GEOGRAPHY OF ANCIENT GREECE AND ITS EARLY INHABITANTS. CHAPTER XIV. THE LEGENDS OF ANCIENT GREECE. CHAPTER XV. THE GRECIAN STATES AND COLONIES TO THE PERSIAN WARS. CHAPTER XVI. GRECIAN CIVILIZATION BEFORE THE PERSIAN WARS. CHAPTER XVII. THE PERSIAN WAR. CHAPTER XVIII. THE AGE OF PERICLES. CHAPTER XIX. THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR. CHAPTER XX. MARCH OF CYRUS AND RETREAT OF THE TEN THOUSAND GREEKS. CHAPTER XXI. THE LACEDAEMONIAN EMPIRE. CHAPTER XXII. THE REPUBLIC OF THEBES. CHAPTER XXIII. DIONYSIUS AND SICILY. CHAPTER XXIV. PHILIP OF MACEDON. CHAPTER XXV. ALEXANDER THE GREAT. BOOK III. THE ROMAN EMPIRE. CHAPTER XXVI. ROME IN ITS INFANCY, UNDER KINGS. CHAPTER XXVII. THE ROMAN REPUBLIC TILL THE INVASION OF THE GAULS. CHAPTER XXVIII. THE CONQUEST OF ITALY. CHAPTER XXIX. THE FIRST PUNIC WAR. CHAPTER XXX. THE SECOND PUNIC OR HANNIBALIC WAR. CHAPTER XXXI. THE MACEDONIAN AND ASIATIC WARS. CHAPTER XXXII. THE THIRD PUNIC WAR. CHAPTER XXXIII. ROMAN CONQUESTS FROM THE FALL OF CARTHAGE TO THE TIMES OF THE GRACCHI. CHAPTER XXXIV. ROMAN CIVILIZATION AT THE CLOSE OF THE THIRD PUNIC WAR, AND THE FALL OF GREECE. CHAPTER XXXV. THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF THE GRACCHI. CHAPTER XXXVI. THE WARS WITH JUGURTHA AND THE CIMBRI.—MARIUS. CHAPTER XXXVII. THE REVOLT OF ITALY, AND THE SOCIAL WAR.—MARIUS AND SULLA. CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE MITHRIDATIC AND CIVIL WARS.—MARIUS AND SULLA. CHAPTER XXXIX. ROME FROM THE DEATH OF SULLA TO THE GREAT CIVIL WARS OF CAESAR AND POMPEY.—CICERO, POMPEY, AND CAESAR. CHAPTER XL. THE CIVIL WARS BETWEEN CAESAR AND POMPEY. CHAPTER XLI. THE CIVIL WARS FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF CAESAR.—ANTONIUS.—AUGUSTUS. CHAPTER XLII. THE ROMAN EMPIRE ON THE ACCESSION OF AUGUSTUS. CHAPTER XLIII. THE SIX CAESARS OF THE JULIAN LINE. CHAPTER XLIV. THE CLIMAX OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. CHAPTER XLV. THE DECLINE OF THE EMPIRE. CHAPTER XLVI. THE FALL OF THE EMPIRE. Advertisements. Footnotes
This work is designed chiefly for educational purposes, since there is still felt the need of some book, which, within moderate limits, shall give a connected history of the ancient world.
The author lays no claim to original investigation in so broad a field. He simply has aimed to present the salient points—the most important events and characters of four thousand years, in a connected narrative, without theories or comments, and without encumbering the book with details of comparatively little interest. Most of the ancient histories for schools, have omitted to notice those great movements to which the Scriptures refer; but these are here briefly presented, since their connection with the Oriental world is intimate and impressive, and ought not to be omitted, even on secular grounds. What is history without a Divine Providence?
In the preparation of this work, the author has been contented with the last standard authorities, which he has merely simplified, abridged, and condensed, being most indebted to Rawlinson, Grote, Thirlwall, Niebuhr, Mommsen, and Merivale,—following out the general plan of Philip Smith, whose admirable digest, in three large octavos, is too extensive for schools.
Although the author has felt warranted in making a free use of his materials, it will be seen that the style, arrangement, and reflections are his own. If the book prove useful, his object will be attained.
STAMFORD October, 1869.
ANCIENT ORIENTAL NATIONS.
THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD.
(M1) The history of this world begins, according to the chronology of Archbishop Ussher, which is generally received as convenient rather than probable, in the year 4004 before Christ. In six days God created light and darkness, day and night, the firmament and the continents in the midst of the waters, fruits, grain, and herbs, moon and stars, fowl and fish, living creatures upon the face of the earth, and finally man, with dominion "over the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and cattle, and all the earth, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." He created man in his own image, and blessed him with universal dominion. He formed him from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. On the seventh day, God rested from this vast work of creation, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, as we suppose, for a day of solemn observance for all generations.
(M2) He there planted a garden eastward in Eden, with every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food, and there placed man to dress and keep it. The original occupation of man, and his destined happiness, were thus centered in agricultural labor.
(M3) But man was alone; so God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and took one of his ribs and made a woman. And Adam said, "this woman," which the Lord had brought unto him, "is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Thus marriage was instituted. We observe three divine institutions while man yet remained in a state of innocence and bliss—the Sabbath; agricultural employment; and marriage.
(M4) Adam and his wife lived, we know not how long, in the garden of Eden, with perfect innocence, bliss, and dominion. They did not even know what sin was. There were no other conditions imposed upon them than they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was in the midst of the garden—a preeminently goodly tree, "pleasant to the eyes, and one to be desired."
(M5) Where was this garden—this paradise—located? This is a mooted question—difficult to be answered. It lay, thus far as we know, at the head waters of four rivers, two of which were the Euphrates and the Tigris. We infer thence, that it was situated among the mountains of Armenia, south of the Caucasus, subsequently the cradle of the noblest races of men,—a temperate region, in the latitude of Greece and Italy.
(M6) We suppose that the garden was beautiful and fruitful, beyond all subsequent experience—watered by mists from the earth, and not by rains from the clouds, ever fresh and green, while its two noble occupants lived upon its produce, directly communing with God, in whose image they were made, moral and spiritual—free from all sin and misery, and, as we may conjecture, conversant with truth in its loftiest forms.
But sin entered into the beautiful world that was made, and death by sin. This is the first recorded fact in human history, next to primeval innocence and happiness.
(M7) The progenitors of the race were tempted, and did not resist the temptation. The form of it may have been allegorical and symbolic; but, as recorded by Moses, was yet a stupendous reality, especially in view of its consequences.
(M8) The tempter was the devil—the antagonist of God—the evil power of the world—the principle of evil—a Satanic agency which Scripture, and all nations, in some form, have recognized. When rebellion against God began, we do not know; but it certainly existed when Adam was placed in Eden.
(M9) The form which Satanic power assumed was a serpent—then the most subtle of the beasts of the field, and we may reasonably suppose, not merely subtle, but attractive, graceful, beautiful, bewitching.
(M10) The first to feel its evil fascination was the woman, and she was induced to disobey what she knew to be a direct command, by the desire of knowledge as well as enjoyment of the appetite. She put trust in the serpent. She believed a lie. She was beguiled.
(M11) The man was not directly beguiled by the serpent. Why the serpent assailed woman rather than man, the Scriptures do not say. The man yielded to his wife. "She gave him the fruit, and he did eat."
(M12) Immediately a great change came over both. Their eyes were opened. They felt shame and remorse, for they had sinned. They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord, and were afraid.
(M13) God pronounced the penalty—unto the woman, the pains and sorrows attending childbirth, and subserviency to her husband; unto the man labor, toil, sorrow—the curse of the ground which he was to till—thorns and thistles—no rest, and food obtained only by the sweat of the brow; and all these pains and labors were inflicted upon both until they should return to the dust from whence they were taken—an eternal decree, never abrogated, to last as long as man should till the earth, or woman bring forth children.
(M14) Thus came sin into the world, through the temptations of introduction Satan and the weakness of man, with the penalty of labour, pain, sorrow, and death.
(M15) Man was expelled from Paradise, and precluded from re-entering it by the flaming sword of cherubim, until the locality of Eden, by thorns and briars, and the deluge, was obliterated forever. And man and woman were sent out into the world to reap the fruit of their folly and sin, and to gain their subsistence in severe toil, and amid, the accumulated evils which sin introduced.
(M16) The only mitigation of the sentence was the eternal enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Serpent, in which the final victory should be given to the former. The rite of sacrifice was introduced as a type of the satisfaction for sin by the death of a substitute for the sinner; and thus a hope of final forgiveness held out for sin, Meanwhile the miseries of life were alleviated by the fruits of labor, by industry.
(M17) Industry, then, became, on the expulsion from Eden, one of the final laws of human happiness on earth, while the sacrifice held out hopes of eternal life by the substitution which the sacrifice typified—the Saviour who was in due time to appear.
With the expulsion from Eden came the sad conflicts of the race—conflicts with external wickedness—conflicts with the earth—conflicts with evil passions in a man's own soul.
(M18) The first conflict was between Cain, the husbandman, and Abel, the shepherd; the representatives of two great divisions of the human family in the early ages. Cain killed Abel because the offering of the latter was preferred to that of the former. The virtue of Abel was faith: the sin of Cain was jealousy, pride, resentment, and despair. The punishment of Cain was expulsion from his father's house, the further curse of the land for him, and the hatred of the human family. He relinquished his occupation, became a wanderer, and gained a precarious support, while his descendants invented arts and built cities.
(M19) Eve bear another son—Seth, among whose descendants the worship of God was preserved for a long time; but the descendants of Seth intermarried finally with the descendants of Cain, from whom sprung a race of lawless men, so that the earth was filled with violence. The material civilization which the descendants of Cain introduced did not preserve them from moral degeneracy. So great was the increasing wickedness, with the growth of the race, that "it repented the Lord that he had made man," and he resolved to destroy the whole race, with the exception of one religious family, and change the whole surface of the earth by a mighty flood, which should involve in destruction all animals and fowls of the air—all the antediluvian works of man.
(M20) It is of no consequence to inquire whether the Deluge was universal or partial—whether it covered the whole earth or the existing habitations of men. All were destroyed by it, except Noah, and his wife, and his three sons, with their wives. The authenticity of the fact rests with Moses, and with him we are willing to leave it.
(M21) This dreadful catastrophe took place in the 600th year of Noah's life, and 2349 years before Christ, when world was 1655 years old, according to Usshur, but much older according to Hale and other authorities—when more time had elapsed than from the Deluge to the reign of Solomon. And hence there were more people destroyed, in all probability, than existed on the earth in the time of Solomon. And as men lived longer in those primeval times than subsequently, and were larger and stronger, "for there were giants in those days," and early invented tents, the harp, the organ, and were artificers in brass and iron, and built cities—as they were full of inventions as well as imaginations, it is not unreasonable to infer, though we can not know with certainty, that the antediluvian world was more splendid and luxurious than the world in the time of Solomon and Homer—the era of the Pyramids of Egypt.
(M22) The art of building was certainly then carried to considerable perfection, for the ark, which Noah built, was four hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five wide, and forty-five deep; and was constructed so curiously as to hold specimens of all known animals and birds, with provisions for them for more than ten months.
(M23) This sacred ark or ship, built of gopher wood, floated on the world's waves, until, in the seventh month, it rested upon the mountains of Ararat. It was nearly a year before Noah ventured from the ark. His first act, after he issued forth, was to build an altar and offer sacrifice to the God who had preserved him and his family alone, of the human race. And the Lord was well pleased, and made a covenant with him that he would never again send a like destruction upon the earth, and as a sign and seal of the covenant which he made with all flesh, he set his bow in the cloud. We hence infer that the primeval world was watered by mists from the earth, like the garden of Eden, and not by rains.
(M24) "The memory of the Deluge is preserved in the traditions of nearly all nations, as well as in the narrative of Moses; and most heathen mythologies have some kind of sacred ark." Moreover, there are various geological phenomena in all parts of the world, which can not be accounted for on any other ground than some violent disruption produced by a universal Deluge. The Deluge itself can not be explained, although there are many ingenious theories to show it might be in accordance with natural causes. The Scriptures allude to it as a supernatural event, for an express end. When the supernatural power of God can be disproved, then it will be time to explain the Deluge by natural causes, or deny it altogether. The Christian world now accepts it as Moses narrates it.
POSTDILUVIAN HISTORY TO THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.—THE PATRIARCHAL CONSTITUTION, AND THE DIVISION OF NATIONS.
(M25) When Noah and his family issued from the ark, they were blessed by God. They were promised a vast posterity, dominion over nature, and all animals for food, as well as the fruits of the earth. But new laws were imposed, against murder, and against the eating of blood. An authority was given to the magistrate to punish murder. "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." This was not merely a penalty, but a prediction. The sacredness of life, and the punishment for murder are equally asserted, and asserted with peculiar emphasis. This may be said to be the Noachic Code, afterward extended by Moses. From that day to this, murder has been accounted the greatest human crime, and has been the most severely punished. On the whole, this crime has been the rarest in the subsequent history of the world, although committed with awful frequency, but seldom till other crimes are exhausted. The sacredness of life is the greatest of human privileges.
(M26) The government was patriarchal. The head of a family had almost unlimited power. And this government was religious as well as civil. The head of the family was both priest and king. He erected altars and divided inheritances. He ruled his sons, even if they had wives and children. And as the old patriarchs lived to a great age, their authority extended over several generations and great numbers of people.
Noah pursued the life of a husbandman, and planted vines, probably like the antediluvians. Nor did he escape the shame of drunkenness, though we have no evidence it was an habitual sin.
(M27) From this sin and shame great consequences followed. Noah was indecently exposed. The second son made light of it; the two others covered up the nakedness of their father. For this levity Ham was cursed in his children. Canaan, his son, was decreed to be a servant of servants—the ancestor of the races afterward exterminated by the Jews. To Shem, for his piety, was given a special religious blessing. Through him all the nations of the earth were blessed. To Japhet was promised especial temporal prosperity, and a participation of the blessing of Shem, The European races are now reaping this prosperity, and the religious privileges of Christianity.
(M28) Four generations passed without any signal event. They all spoke the same language, and pursued the same avocations. They lived in Armenia, but gradually spread over the surrounding countries and especially toward the west and south. They journeyed to the land of Shinar, and dwelt on its fertile plains. This was the great level of Lower Mesopotamia, or Chaldea, watered by the Euphrates.
(M29) Here they built a city, and aspired to build a tower which should reach unto the heavens. It was vanity and pride which incited them,—also fear lest they should be scattered.
(M30) We read that Nimrod—one of the descendants of Ham—a mighty hunter, had migrated to this plain, and set up a kingdom at Babel—perhaps a revolt against patriarchal authority. Here was a great settlement—perhaps the central seat of the descendants of Noah, where Nimrod—the strongest man of his times—usurped dominion. Under his auspices the city was built—a stronghold from which he would defy all other powers. Perhaps here he instituted idolatry, since a tower was also a temple. But, whether fear or ambition or idolatry prompted the building of Babel, it displeased the Lord.
(M31) The punishment which he inflicted upon the builders was confusion of tongues. The people could not understand each other, and were obliged to disperse. The tower was left unfinished. The Lord "scattered the people abroad upon the face of all the earth." Probably some remained at Babel, on the Euphrates—the forefathers of the Israelites when they dwelt in Chaldea. It is not probable that every man spoke a different language, but that there was a great division of language, corresponding with the great division of families, so that the posterity of Shem took one course, that of Japhet another, and that of Ham the third—dividing themselves into three separate nations, each speaking substantially the same tongue, afterward divided into different dialects from their peculiar circumstances.
(M32) Much learning and ingenuity have been expended in tracing the different races and languages of the earth to the grand confusion of Babel. But the subject is too complicated, and in the present state of science, too unsatisfactory to make it expedient to pursue ethnological and philological inquiries in a work so limited as this. We refer students to Max Muller, and other authorities.
(M33) But that there was a great tripartite division of the human family can not be doubted. The descendants of Japhet occupied a great zone running from the high lands of Armenia to the southeast, into the table-lands of Iran, and to Northern India, and to the west into Thrace, the Grecian peninsula, and Western Europe. And all the nations which subsequently sprung from the children of Japhet, spoke languages the roots of which bear a striking affinity. This can be proved. The descendants of Japhet, supposed to be the oldest son of Noah, possessed the fairest lands of the world—most favorable to development and progress—most favorable to ultimate supremacy. They composed the great Caucasian race, which spread over Northern and Western Asia, and over Europe—superior to other races in personal beauty and strength, and also intellectual force. From the times of the Greek and Romans this race has held the supremacy of the world, as was predicted to Noah. "God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant." The conquest of the descendants of Ham by the Greeks and Romans, and their slavery, attest the truth of Scripture.
(M34) The descendants of Shem occupied another belt or zone. It extended from the southeastern part of Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf and the peninsula of Arabia. The people lived in tents, were not ambitious of conquest, were religious and contemplative. The great theogonies of the East came from this people. They studied the stars. They meditated on God and theological questions. They were a chosen race with whom sacred history dwells. They had, compared with other races, a small territory between the possessions of Japhet on the north, and that of Ham on the south. Their destiny was not to spread over the world, but to exhibit the dealings of God's providence. From this race came the Jews and the Messiah. The most enterprising of the descendants of Shem were the Phoenicians, who pursued commerce on a narrow strip of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and who colonized Carthage and North Africa, but were not powerful enough to contend successfully with the Romans in political power.
(M35) The most powerful of the posterity of Noah were the descendants of Ham, for more than two thousand years, since they erected great monarchies, and were warlike, aggressive, and unscrupulous. They lived in Egypt, Ethiopia, Palestine, and the countries around the Red Sea. They commenced their empire in Babel, on the great plain of Babylonia, and extended it northward into the land of Asshur (Assyria). They built the great cities of Antioch, Rehoboth, Calah and Resen. Their empire was the oldest in the world—that established by a Cushite dynasty on the plains of Babylon, and in the highlands of Persia. They cast off the patriarchal law, and indulged in a restless passion for dominion. And they were the most civilized of the ancient nations in arts and material life. They built cities and monuments of power. These temples, their palaces, their pyramids were the wonders of the ancient world. Their grand and somber architecture lasted for centuries. They were the wickedest of the nations of the earth, and effeminacy, pride and sensuality followed naturally from their material civilization unhallowed by high religious ideas. They were hateful conquerors and tyrants, and yet slaves. They were permitted to prosper until their vices wrought out their own destruction, and they became finally subservient to the posterity of Japhet. But among some of the descendants of Ham civilization never advanced. The negro race of Africa ever has been degraded and enslaved. It has done nothing to advance human society. None of these races, even the most successful, have left durable monuments of intellect or virtue: they have left gloomy monuments of tyrannical and physical power. The Babylonians and Egyptians laid the foundation of some of the sciences and arts, but nothing remains at the present day which civilization values.
How impressive and august the ancient prophecy to Noah! How strikingly have all the predictions been fulfilled! These give to history an imperishable interest and grandeur.
THE HEBREW RACE FROM ABRAHAM TO THE SALE OF JOSEPH.
(M36) We postpone the narrative of the settlements and empires which grew up on the banks of the Euphrates and the Nile, the oldest monarchies, until we have contemplated the early history of the Jews—descended from one of the children of Shem. This is not in chronological order, but in accordance with the inimitable history of Moses. The Jews did not become a nation until four hundred and thirty years after the call of Abram—and Abram was of the tenth generation from Noah. When he was born, great cities existed in Babylon, Canaan, and Egypt, and the descendants of Ham were the great potentates of earth. The children of Shem were quietly living in tents, occupied with agriculture and the raising of cattle. Those of Japhet were exploring all countries with zealous enterprise, and founding distant settlements—adventurers in quest of genial climates and fruitful fields.
Abram was born in Ur, a city of the Chaldeans, in the year 1996 before Christ—supposed by some to be the Edessa of the Greeks, and by others to be a great maritime city on the right bank of the Euphrates near its confluence with the Tigris.
From this city his father Terah removed with his children and kindred to Haran, and dwelt there. It was in Mesopotamia—a rich district, fruitful in pasturage. Here Abram remained until he was 75, and had become rich.
(M37) While sojourning in this fruitful plain the Lord said unto him, "get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land which I will show thee." "And I will make thee a great nation, and will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee. And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." So Abram departed with Lot, his nephew, and Sarai, his wife, with all his cattle and substance, to the land of Canaan, then occupied by that Hamite race which had probably proved unfriendly to his family in Chaldea. We do not know by what route he passed the Syrian desert, but he halted at Shechem, situated in a fruitful valley, one of the passes of the hills from Damascus to Canaan. He then built an altar to the Lord, probably among an idolatrous people. From want of pasturage, or some cause not explained, he removed from thence into a mountain on the east of Bethel, between that city and Hai, or Ai, when he again erected an altar, and called upon the living God. But here he did not long remain, being driven by a famine to the fertile land of Egypt, then ruled by the Pharaohs, whose unscrupulous character he feared, and which tempted him to practice an unworthy deception, yet in accordance with profound worldly sagacity. It was the dictate of expediency rather than faith. He pretended that Sarai was his sister, and was well treated on her account by the princes of Egypt, and not killed, as he feared he would be if she was known to be his wife. The king, afflicted by great plagues in consequence of his attentions to this beautiful woman, sent Abram away, after a stern rebuke for the story he had told, with all his possessions.
(M38) The patriarch returned to Canaan, enriched by the princes of Egypt, and resumed his old encampment near Bethel. But there was not enough pasturage for his flocks, united with those of Lot. So, with magnanimous generosity, disinclined to strife or greed, he gave his nephew the choice of lands, but insisted on a division. "Is not the whole land before thee," said he: "Separate thyself, I pray thee: if thou wilt take the left hand, I will go to the right, and if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." The children of Ham and of Japhet would have quarreled, and one would have got the ascendency over the other. Not so with the just and generous Shemite—the reproachless model of all oriental virtues, if we may forget the eclipse of his fair name in Egypt.
(M39) Lot chose, as was natural, the lower valley of the Jordan, a fertile and well-watered plain, but near the wicked cities of the Canaanites, which lay in the track of the commerce between Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and the East. The worst vices of antiquity prevailed among them, and Lot subsequently realized, by a painful experience, the folly of seeking, for immediate good, such an accursed neighborhood.
Abram was contented with less advantages among the hills, and after a renewed blessing from the Lord, removed his tents to the plain of Mamre, near Hebron, one of the oldest cities of the world.
(M40) The first battle that we read of in history was fought between the Chaldean monarch and the kings of the five cities of Canaan, near to the plain which Lot had selected. The kings were vanquished, and, in the spoliation which ensued, Lot himself and his cattle were carried away by Chederlaomer.
(M41) The news reached Abram in time for him to pursue the Chaldean king with his trained servants, three hundred and eighteen in number. In a midnight attack the Chaldeans were routed, since a panic was created, and Lot was rescued, with all his goods, from which we infer that Abram was a powerful chieftain, and was also assisted directly by God, as Joshua subsequently was in his unequal contest with the Canaanites.
(M42) The king of Sodom, in gratitude, went out to meet him on his return from the successful encounter, and also the king of Salem, Melchizedek, with bread and wine. This latter was probably of the posterity of Shem, since he was also a priest of the most high God, He blessed Abram, and gave him tithes, which Abram accepted.
(M43) But Abram would accept nothing from the king of Sodom—not even to a shoe-latchet—from patriarchal pride, or disinclination to have any intercourse with idolators. But he did not prevent his young warriors from eating his bread in their hunger. It was not the Sodomites he wished to rescue, but Lot, his kinsman and friend.
(M44) Abram, now a powerful chieftain and a rich man, well advanced in years, had no children, in spite of the promise of God that he should be the father of nations. His apparent heir was his chief servant, or steward, Elizur, of Damascus. He then reminds the Lord of the promise, and the Lord renewed the covenant, and Abram rested in faith.
(M45) Not so his wife Sarai. Skeptical that from herself should come the promised seed, she besought Abram to make a concubine or wife of her Egyptian maid, Hagar. Abram listens to her, and grants her request. Sarai is then despised by the woman, and lays her complaint before her husband. Abram delivers the concubine into the hands of the jealous and offended wife, who dealt hardly with her, so that she fled to the wilderness. Thirsty and miserable, she was found by an angel, near to a fountain of water, who encouraged her by the promise that her child should be the father of a numerous nation, but counseled her to return to Sarai, and submit herself to her rule. In due time the child was born, and was called Ishmael—destined to be a wild man, with whom the world should be at enmity. Abram was now eighty-six years of age.
(M46) Fourteen years later the Lord again renewed his covenant that he should be the father of many nations, who should possess forever the land of Canaan. His name was changed to Abraham (father of a multitude), and Sarai's was changed to Sarah. The Lord promised that from Sarah should come the predicted blessing. The patriarch is still incredulous, and laughs within himself; but God renews the promise, and henceforth Abraham believes, and, as a test of his faith, he institutes, by divine direction, the rite of circumcision to Ishmael and all the servants and slaves of his family—even those "bought with money of the stranger."
(M47) In due time, according to prediction, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, who was circumcised on the eighth day, when Abraham was 100 years old. Ishmael, now a boy of fifteen, made a mockery of the event, whereupon Sarah demanded that the son of the bondwoman, her slave, should be expelled from the house, with his mother. Abraham was grieved also, and, by divine counsel, they were both sent away, with some bread and a bottle of water. The water was soon expended in the wilderness of Beersheba, and Hagar sat down in despair and wept. God heard her lamentations, and she opened her eyes and saw that she was seated near a well. The child was preserved, and dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, pursuing the occupation of an archer, or huntsman, and his mother found for him a wife out of the land of Egypt. He is the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Bedouin Arabs, among whom the Hamite blood predominated.
(M48) Meanwhile, as Abraham dwelt on the plains of Mamre, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah took place, because not ten righteous persons could be found therein. But Lot was rescued by angels, and afterward dwelt in a cave, for fear, his wife being turned into a pillar of salt for daring to look back on the burning cities. He lived with his two daughters, who became the guilty mothers of the Moabites and the Ammonites, who settled on the hills to the east of Jordan and the Dead Sea.
(M49) Before the birth of Isaac, Abraham removed to the South, and dwelt in Gerah, a city of the Philistines, and probably for the same reason that he had before sought the land of Egypt. But here the same difficulty occurred as in Egypt. The king, Abimelech, sent and took Sarah, supposing she was merely Abraham's sister; and Abraham equivocated and deceived in this instance to save his own life. But the king, warned by God in a dream, restored unto Abraham his wife, and gave him sheep, oxen, men servants and women servants, and one thousand pieces of silver, for he knew he was a prophet. In return Abraham prayed for him, and removed from him and his house all impediments for the growth of his family. The king, seeing how Abraham was prospered, made a covenant with him, so that the patriarch lived long among the Philistines, worshiping "the everlasting God."
(M50) Then followed the great trial of his faith, when requested to sacrifice Isaac. And when he was obedient to the call, and did not withhold his son, his only son, from the sacrificial knife, having faith that his seed should still possess the land of Canaan, he was again blessed, and in the most emphatic language. After this he dwelt in Beersheba.
(M51) At the age of 120 Sarah died at Hebron, and Abraham purchased of Ephron the Hittite, the cave of Machpelah, with a field near Mamre, for four hundred shekels of silver, in which he buried his wife.
(M52) Shortly after, he sought a wife for Isaac. But he would not accept any of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom he dwelt, but sent his eldest and most trusted servant to Mesopotamia, with ten loaded camels, to secure one of his own people. Rebekah, the grand-daughter of Nahor, the brother of Abraham, was the favored damsel whom the Lord provided. Her father and brother accepted the proposal of Abraham's servant, and loaded with presents, jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment, the Mesopotamian lady departed from her country and her father's house, with the benediction of the whole family. "Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them." Thus was "Isaac comforted after his mother's death."
(M53) Abraham married again, and had five sons by Keturah; but, in his life-time, he gave all he had unto Isaac, except some gifts to his other children, whom he sent away, that they might not dispute the inheritance with Isaac. He died at a good old age, 175 years, and was buried by his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, in the cave of Machpelah, which had been purchased of the sons of Heth. Isaac thus became the head of the house, with princely possessions, living near a well.
(M54) But a famine arose, as in the days of his father, and he went to Gerar, and not to Egypt. He, however, was afraid to call Rebekah his wife, for the same reason that Abraham called Sarah his sister. But the king happening from his window to see Isaac "sporting with Rebekah," knew he had been deceived, yet abstained from taking her, and even loaded Isaac with new favors, so that he became very great and rich—so much so that the Philistines envied him, and maliciously filled up the wells which Abraham had dug. Here again he was befriended by Abimelech, who saw that the Lord was with him, and a solemn covenant of peace was made between them, and new wells were dug.
(M55) Isaac, it seems, led a quiet and peaceful life—averse to all strife with the Canaanites, and gradually grew very rich. He gave no evidence of remarkable strength of mind, and was easily deceived. His greatest affliction was the marriage of his eldest and favorite son Esau with a Hittite woman, and it was probably this mistake and folly which confirmed the superior fortunes of Jacob.
(M56) Esau was a hunter. On returning one day from hunting he was faint from hunger, and cast a greedy eye on some pottage that Jacob had prepared. But Jacob would not give his hungry brother the food until he had promised, by a solemn oath, to surrender his birthright to him. The clever man of enterprise, impulsive and passionate, thought more, for the moment, of the pangs of hunger than of his future prospects, and the quiet, plain, and cunning man of tents availed himself of his brother's rashness.
(M57) But the birthright was not secure to Jacob without his father's blessing. So he, with his mother's contrivance, for he was her favorite, deceived his father, and appeared to be Esau. Isaac, old and dim and credulous, supposing that Jacob, clothed in Esau's vestments as a hunter, and his hands covered with skins, was his eldest son, blessed him. The old man still had doubts, but Jacob falsely declared that he was Esau, and obtained what he wanted. When Esau returned from the hunt he saw what Jacob had done, and his grief was bitter and profound. He cried out in his agony, "Bless me even me, also, O my father." And Isaac said: "Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing." And Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob—that is, a supplanter—for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright, and behold now he hath taken away my blessing." "And he lifted up his voice and wept." Isaac, then moved, declared that his dwelling should be the fatness of the earth, even though he should serve his brother,—that he should live by the sword, and finally break the yoke from off his neck. This was all Esau could wring from his father. He hated Jacob with ill-concealed resentment, as was to be expected, and threatened to kill him on his father's death. Rebekah advised Jacob to flee to his uncle, giving as an excuse to Isaac, that he sought a wife in Mesopotamia. This pleased Isaac, who regarded a marriage with a Canaanite as the greatest calamity. So he again gave him his blessing, and advised him to select one of the daughters of Laban for his wife. And Jacob departed from his father's house, and escaped the wrath of Esau. But Esau, seeing that his Hittite wife was offensive to his father, married also one of the daughters of Ishmael, his cousin.
(M58) Jacob meanwhile pursued his journey. Arriving at a certain place after sunset, he lay down to sleep, with stones for his pillow, and he dreamed that a ladder set up on the earth reached the heavens, on which the angels of God ascended and descended, and above it was the Lord himself, the God of his father, who renewed all the promises that had been made to Abraham of the future prosperity of his house. He then continued his journey till he arrived in Haran, by the side of a well. Thither Rachel, the daughter of Laban, came to draw water for the sheep she tended. Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered her flock, and kissed her, and wept, for he had found in his cousin his bride. He then told her who he was, and she ran and told her father that his nephew had come, Isaac's son, and Laban was filled with joy, and kissed Jacob and brought him to his house, where he dwelt a month as a guest.
(M59) An agreement was then made that Jacob should serve Laban seven years, and receive in return for his services his youngest daughter Rachel, whom he loved. But Laban deceived him, and gave him Leah instead, and Jacob was compelled to serve another seven years before he obtained her. Thus he had two wives, the one tender-eyed, the other beautiful. But he loved Rachel and hated Leah.
(M60) Jacob continued to serve Laban until he was the father of eleven sons and a daughter, and then desired to return to his own country. But Laban, unwilling to lose so profitable a son-in-law, raised obstacles. Jacob, in the mean time, became rich, although his flocks and herds were obtained by a sharp bargain, which he turned to his own account. The envy of Laban's sons was the result. Laban also was alienated, whereupon Jacob fled, with his wives and children and cattle. Laban pursued, overtook him, and after an angry altercation, in which Jacob recounted his wrongs during twenty years of servitude, and Laban claimed every thing as his—daughters, children and cattle, they made a covenant on a heap of stones not to pass either across it for the other's harm, and Laban returned to his home and Jacob went on his way.
(M61) But Esau, apprised of the return of his brother, came out of Edom against him with four hundred men. Jacob was afraid, and sought to approach Esau with presents. The brothers met, but whether from fraternal impulse or by the aid of God, they met affectionately, and fell into each other's arms and wept. Jacob offered his presents, which Esau at first magnanimously refused to take, but finally accepted: peace was restored, and Jacob continued his journey till he arrived in Thalcom—a city of Shechem, in the land of Canaan, where he pitched his tent and erected an altar.
Here he was soon brought into collision with the people of Shechem, whose prince had inflicted a great wrong. Levi and Simeon avenged it, and the city was spoiled.
(M62) Jacob, perhaps in fear of the other Amorites, retreated to Bethel, purged his household of all idolatry, and built an altar, and God again appeared to him, blessed him and changed his name to Israel.
(M63) Soon after, Rachel died, on the birth of her son, Benjamin, and Jacob came to see his father in Mamre, now 180 years of age, and about to die. Esau and Jacob buried him in the cave of Machpelah.
Esau dwelt in Edom, the progenitor of a long line of dukes or princes. The seat of his sovereignty was Mount Seir.
(M64) Jacob continued to live in Hebron—a patriarchal prince, rich in cattle, and feared by his neighbors. His favorite son was Joseph, and his father's partiality excited the envy of the other sons. They conspired to kill him, but changed their purpose through the influence of Reuben, and cast him into a pit in the wilderness. While he lay there, a troop of Ishmaelites appeared, and to them, at the advice of Judah, they sold him as a slave, but pretended to their father that he was slain by wild beasts, and produced, in attestation, his lacerated coat of colors. The Ishmaelites carried Joseph to Egypt, and sold him to Potaphar, captain of Pharaoh's guard. Before we follow his fortunes, we will turn our attention to the land whence he was carried.
EGYPT AND THE PHARAOHS.
(M65) The first country to which Moses refers, in connection with the Hebrew history, is Egypt. This favored land was the seat of one of the oldest monarchies of the world. Although it would seem that Assyria was first peopled, historians claim for Egypt a more remote antiquity. Whether this claim can be substantiated or not, it is certain that Egypt was one of the primeval seats of the race of Ham. Mizraim, the Scripture name for the country, indicates that it was settled by a son of Ham. But if this is true even, the tide of emigration from Armenia probably passed to the southeast through Syria and Palestine, and hence the descendants of Ham had probably occupied the land of Canaan before they crossed the desert between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. I doubt if Egypt had older cities than Damascus, Hebron, Zoar, and Tyre.
But Egypt certainly was a more powerful monarchy than any existing on the earth in the time of Abraham.
(M66) Its language, traditions, and monuments alike point to a high antiquity. It was probably inhabited by a mixed race, Shemitic as well as Hamite; though the latter had the supremacy. The distinction of castes indicates a mixed population, so that the ancients doubted whether Egypt belonged to Asia or Africa. The people were not black, but of a reddish color, with thick lips, straight black hair, and elongated eye, and sunk in the degraded superstitions of the African race.
(M67) The geographical position indicates not only a high antiquity, but a state favorable to great national wealth and power. The river Nile, issuing from a great lake under the equator, runs 3,000 miles nearly due north to the Mediterranean. Its annual inundations covered the valley with a rich soil brought down from the mountains of Abyssinia, making it the most fertile in the world. The country, thus so favored by a great river, with its rich alluvial deposits, is about 500 miles in length, with an area of 115,000 square miles, of which 9,600 are subject to the fertilizing inundation. But, in ancient times, a great part of the country was irrigated, and abounded in orchards, gardens, and vineyards. Every kind of vegetable was cultivated, and grain was raised in the greatest abundance, so that the people lived in luxury and plenty while other nations were subject to occasional famines.
(M68) Among the fruits, were dates, grapes, figs, pomegranates, apricots, peaches, oranges, citrons, lemons, limes, bananas, melons, mulberries, olives. Among vegetables, if we infer from what exist at present, were beans, peas, lentils, luprins, spinach, leeks, onions, garlic, celery, chiccory, radishes, carrots, turnips, lettuce, cabbage, fennel, gourds, cucumbers, tomatoes, egg-plant. What a variety for the sustenance of man, to say nothing of the various kinds of grain,—barley, oats, maize, rice, and especially wheat, which grows to the greatest perfection.
In old times the horses were famous, as well as cattle, and sheep, and poultry. Quails were abundant, while the marshes afforded every kind of web-footed fowl. Fish, too, abounded in the Nile, and in the lakes. Bees were kept, and honey was produced, though inferior to that of Greece.
(M69) The climate also of this fruitful land was salubrious without being enervating. The soil was capable of supporting a large population, which amounted, in the time of Herodotus, to seven millions. On the banks of the Nile were great cities, whose ruins still astonish travelers. The land, except that owned by the priests, belonged to the king, who was supreme and unlimited in power. The people were divided into castes, the highest being priests, and the lowest husbandmen. The kings were hereditary, but belonged to the priesthood, and their duties and labors were arduous. The priests were the real governing body, and were treated with the most respectful homage. They were councilors of the king, judges of the land, and guardians of all great interests. The soldiers were also numerous, and formed a distinct caste.
(M70) When Abram visited Egypt, impelled by the famine in Canaan, it was already a powerful monarchy. This was about 1921 years before Christ, according to the received chronology, when the kings of the 15th dynasty reigned. These dynasties of ancient kings are difficult to be settled, and rest upon traditions rather than well defined historical grounds,—or rather on the authority of Manetho, an Egyptian priest, who lived nearly 300 years before Christ. His list of dynasties has been confirmed, to a great extent, by the hieroglyphic inscriptions which are still to be found on ancient monuments, but they give us only a barren catalogue of names without any vital historical truths. Therefore these old dynasties, before Abraham, are only interesting to antiquarians, and not satisfactory to them, since so little is known or can be known. These, if correct, would give a much greater antiquity to Egypt than can be reconciled with Mosaic history. But all authorities agree in ascribing to Menes the commencement of the first dynasty, 2712 years before Christ, according to Hales, but 3893 according to Lepsius, and 2700 according to Lane. Neither Menes nor his successors of the first dynasty left any monuments. It is probable, however, that Memphis was built by them, and possibly hieroglyphics were invented during their reigns.
But here a chronological difficulty arises. The Scriptures ascribe ten generations from Shem to Abram. Either the generations were made longer than in our times, or the seventeen dynasties, usually supposed to have reigned when Abram came to Egypt, could not have existed; for, according to the received chronology, he was born 1996, B.C., and the Deluge took place 2349, before Christ, leaving but 353 years from the Deluge to the birth of Abraham. How could seventeen dynasties have reigned in Egypt in that time, even supposing that Egypt was settled immediately after the Flood, unless either more than ten generations existed from Noah to Abram, or that these generations extended over seven or eight hundred years? Until science shall reconcile the various chronologies with the one usually received, there is but little satisfaction in the study of Egyptian history prior to Abram. Nor is it easy to settle when the Pyramids were constructed. If they existed in the time of Abram a most rapid advance had been made in the arts, unless a much longer period elapsed from Noah to Abraham than Scripture seems to represent.
(M71) Nothing of interest occurs in Egyptian history until the fourth dynasty of kings, when the pyramids of Ghizeh, were supposed to have been built—a period more remote than Scripture ascribes to the Flood itself, according to our received chronology. These were the tombs of the Memphian kings, who believed in the immortality of the soul, and its final reunion with the body after various forms of transmigration. Hence the solicitude to preserve the body in some enduring monument, and by elaborate embalment. What more durable monument than these great masses of granite, built to defy the ravages of time, and the spoliations of conquerors! The largest of these pyramids, towering above other pyramids, and the lesser sepulchres of the rich, was built upon a square of 756 feet, and the height of it was 489 feet 9 inches, covering an area of 571,536 feet, or more than thirteen acres. The whole mass contained 90,000,000 cubic feet of masonry, weighing 6,316,000 tons. Nearly in the centre of this pile of stone, reached by a narrow passage, were the chambers where the royal sarcophagi were deposited. At whatever period these vast monuments were actually built, they at least go back into remote antiquity, and probably before the time of Abram.
(M72) The first great name of the early Egyptian kings was Sesertesen, or Osirtasin I., the founder of the twelfth dynasty of kings, B.C. 2080. He was a great conqueror, and tradition confounds him with the Sesostris of the Greeks, which gathered up stories about him as the Middle Ages did of Charlemagne and his paladins. The real Sesostris was Ramenes the Great, of the nineteenth dynasty. By the kings of this dynasty (the twelfth) Ethiopia was conquered, the Labyrinth was built, and Lake Moevis dug, to control the inundations. Under them Thebes became a great city. The dynasty lasted 100 years, but became subject to the Shepherd kings. These early Egyptian monarchs wore fond of peace, and their subjects enjoyed repose and prosperity.
(M73) The Shepherd kings, who ruled 400 years, were supposed by Manetho to be Arabs, but leaves us to infer that they were Phoenicians—as is probable—a roving body of conquerors, who easily subdued the peaceful Egyptians. They have left no monumental history. They were alien to the conquered race in language and habits, and probably settled in Lower Egypt where the land was most fertile, and where conquests would be most easily retained.
It was under their rule that Abram probably visited Egypt when driven by a famine from Canaan. And they were not expelled till the time of Joseph, by the first of the eighteenth dynasty. The descendants of the old kings, we suppose, lived in Thebes, and were tributary princes for 400 years, but gained sufficient strength, finally, to expel the Shemite invaders, even as the Gothic nations of Spain, in the Middle Ages, expelled their conquerors, the Moors.
(M74) But it was under the Shepherd kings that the relations between Egypt and the Hebrew patriarchs took place. We infer this fact from the friendly intercourse and absence of national prejudices. The Phoenicians belonged to the same Shemitic stock from which Abraham came. They built no temples. They did not advance a material civilization. They loaded Abram and Joseph with presents, and accepted the latter as a minister and governor. We read of no great repulsion of races, and see a great similarity in pursuits.
(M75) Meanwhile, the older dynasties under whom Thebes was built, probably B.C. 2200, gathered strength in misfortune and subjection. They reigned, during five dynasties, in a subordinate relation, tributary and oppressed. The first king of the eighteenth dynasty seems to have been a remarkable man—the deliverer of his nation. His name was Aah-mes, or Amo-sis, and he expelled the shepherds from the greater part of Egypt, B.C. 1525. In his reign we see on the monuments chariots and horses. He built temples both in Thebes and Memphis, and established a navy. This was probably the king who knew not Joseph. His successors continued the work of conquest, and extended their dominion from Ethiopia to Mesopotamia, and obtained that part of Western Asia formerly held by the Chaldeans. They built the temple of Karnak, the "Vocal Memnon," and the avenue of Sphinxes in Thebes.
(M76) The grandest period of Egyptian history begins with the nineteenth dynasty, founded by Sethee I., or Sethos, B.C. 1340. He built the famous "Hall of Columns," in the temple of Karnak, and the finest of the tombs of the Theban kings. On the walls of this great temple are depicted his conquests, especially over the Hittites. But the glories of the monarchy, now decidedly military, culminated in Ramesis II.—the Sesostris of the Greeks. He extended his dominion as far as Scythia and Thrace, while his naval expeditions penetrated to the Erythraean Sea. The captives which he brought from his wars were employed in digging canals, which intersected the country, for purposes of irrigation, and especially that great canal which united the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. He added to the temple of Karnak, built the Memnonium on the western side of the Nile, opposite to Thebes, and enlarged the temple of Ptah, at Memphis, which he adorned by a beautiful colossal statue, the fist of which is (now in the British Museum) thirty inches wide across the knuckles. But the Rameseum, or Memnonium, was his greatest architectural work, approached by an avenue of sphinxes and obelisks, in the centre of which was the great statue of Ramesis himself, sixty feet high, carved from a single stone of the red granite of Syene.
(M77) The twentieth dynasty was founded by Sethee II., B.C. 1220 (or 1232 B.C., according to Wilkinson), when Gideon ruled the Israelites and Theseus reigned at Athens and Priam at Troy. The third king of this dynasty—Ramesis III.—built palaces and tombs scarcely inferior to any of the Theban kings, but under his successors the Theban power declined. Under the twenty-first dynasty, which began B.C. 1085, Lower Egypt had a new capital, Zoan, and gradually extended its power over Upper Egypt. It had a strong Shemetic element in its population, and strengthened itself by alliances with the Assyrians.
The twenty-second dynasty was probably Assyrian, and began about 1009 B.C. It was hostile to the Jews, and took and sacked Jerusalem.
(M78) From this period the history of Egypt is obscure. Ruled by Assyrians, and then by Ethiopians, the grandeur of the old Theban monarchy had passed away. On the rise of the Babylonian kingdom, over the ruins of the old Assyrian Empire, Egypt was greatly prostrated as a military power. Babylon became the great monarchy of the East, and gained possession of all the territories of the Theban kings, from the Euphrates to the Nile.
Leaving, then, the obscure and uninteresting history of Egypt, which presents nothing of especial interest until its conquest by Alexander, B.C. 332, with no great kings even, with the exception of Necho, of the twenty-sixth dynasty, B.C. 611, we will present briefly the religion, manners, customs, and attainments of the ancient Egyptians.
(M79) Their religion was idolatrous. They worshiped various divinities: Num, the soul of the universe; Amen, the generative principle; Khom, by whom the productiveness of nature was emblematized; Ptah, or the creator of the universe; Ra, the sun; Thoth, the patron of letters; Athor, the goddess of beauty; Mu, physical light; Mat, moral light; Munt, the god of war; Osiris, the personification of good; Isis, who presided over funeral rites; Set, the personification of evil; Anup, who judged the souls of the departed.
(M80) These were principal deities, and were worshiped through sacred animals, as emblems of divinity. Among them were the bulls, Apis, at Memphis, and Muenis, at Heliopolis, both sacred to Osiris. The crocodile was sacred to Lebak, whose offices are unknown; the asp to Num; the cat to Pasht, whose offices were also unknown; the beetle to Ptah. The worship of these and of other animals was conducted with great ceremony, and sacrifices were made to them of other animals, fruits and vegetables.
Man was held accountable for his actions, and to be judged, according to them. He was to be brought before Osiris, and receive from him future rewards or punishments.
(M81) The penal laws of the Egyptians were severe. Murder was punished with death. Adultery was punished by the man being beaten with a thousand rods. The woman had her nose cut off. Theft was punished with less severity—with a beating by a stick. Usury was not permitted beyond double of the debt, and the debtor was not imprisoned.
(M82) The government was a monarchy, only limited by the priesthood, into whose order he was received, and was administered by men appointed by the king. On the whole, it was mild and paternal, and exercised for the good of the people.
(M83) Polygamy was not common, though concubines were allowed. In the upper classes women were treated with great respect, and were regarded as the equals of men. They ruled their households. The rich were hospitable, and delighted to give feasts, at which were dancers and musicians. They possessed chariots and horses, and were indolent and pleasure-seeking. The poor people toiled, with scanty clothing and poor fare.
(M84) Hieroglyphic writing prevailed from a remote antiquity. The papyrus was also used for hieratic writing, and numerous papyri have been discovered, which show some advance in literature. Astronomy was cultivated by the priests, and was carried to the highest point it could attain without modern instruments. Geometry also reached considerable perfection. Mechanics must have been carried to a great extent, when we remember that vast blocks of stone were transported 500 miles and elevated to enormous heights. Chemistry was made subservient to many arts, such as the working of metals and the tempering of steel. But architecture was the great art in which the Egyptians excelled, as we infer from the ruins of temples and palaces; and these wonderful fabrics were ornamented with paintings which have preserved their color to this day. Architecture was massive, grand, and imposing. Magical arts were in high estimation, and chiefly exercised by the priests. The industrial arts reached great excellence, especially in the weaving of linen, pottery, and household furniture. The Egyptians were great musicians, using harps, flutes, cymbals, and drums. They were also great gardeners. In their dress they were simple, frugal in diet, though given to occasional excess; fond of war, but not cruel like the Assyrians; hospitable among themselves, shy of strangers, patriotic in feeling, and contemplative in character.
THE JEWS UNTIL THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN.
(M85) When Joseph was sold by the Midianites to Potiphar, Egypt was probably ruled by the Shepherd kings, who were called Pharaoh, like all the other kings, by the Jewish writers. Pitiphar (Pet-Pha, dedicated to the sun) was probably the second person in the kingdom. Joseph, the Hebrew slave, found favor in his sight, and was gradually promoted to the oversight of his great household. Cast into prison, from the intrigues of Potiphar's wife, whose disgraceful overtures he had virtuously and honorably rejected, he found favor with the keeper of the prison, who intrusted him with the sole care of the prisoners, although himself a prisoner,—a striking proof of his transparent virtue. In process of time two other high officers of the king, having offended him, were cast into the same prison. They had strange dreams. Joseph interpreted them, indicating the speedy return of the one to favor, and of the other to as sudden an execution. These things came to pass. After two years the king himself had a singular dream, and none of the professional magicians or priests of Egypt could interpret it. It then occurred to the chief butler that Joseph, whom he had forgotten and neglected, could interpret the royal dream which troubled him. He told the king of his own dream in prison, and the explanation of it by the Hebrew slave. Whereupon Joseph was sent for, shaven and washed, and clothed with clean raiment to appear in the royal palace, and he interpreted the king's dream, which not only led to his promotion to be governor over Egypt, with the State chariots for his use, and all the emblems of sovereignty about his person—a viceroy whose power was limited only by that of the king—but he was also instrumental in rescuing Egypt from the evils of that terrible famine which for seven years afflicted Western Asia. He was then thirty years of age, 1715 B.C., and his elevation had been earned by the noblest qualities—fidelity to his trusts, patience, and high principle—all of which had doubtless been recounted to the king.
(M86) The course which Joseph pursued toward the Egyptians was apparently hard. The hoarded grain of seven years' unexampled plenty was at first sold to the famishing people, and when they had no longer money to buy it, it was only obtained by the surrender of their cattle, and then by the alienation of their land, so that the king became possessed of all the property of the realm, personal as well as real, except that of the priests. But he surrendered the land back again to the people subsequently, on condition of the payment of one-fifth of the produce annually (which remained to the time of Moses)—a large tax, but not so great as was exacted of the peasantry of France by their feudal and royal lords. This proceeding undoubtedly strengthened the power of the Shepherd kings, and prevented insurrections.
(M87) The severity of the famine compels the brothers of Joseph to seek corn in Egypt. Their arrival of course, is known to the governor, who has unlimited rule. They appear before him, and bowed themselves before him, as was predicted by Joseph's dreams. But clothed in the vesture of princes, with a gold chain around his neck, and surrounded by the pomp of power, they did not know him, while he knows them. He speaks to them, through an interpreter, harshly and proudly, accuses them of being spies, obtains all the information he wanted, and learns that his father and Benjamin are alive. He even imprisons them for three days. He releases them on the condition that they verify their statement; as a proof of which, he demands the appearance of Benjamin himself.
(M88) They return to Canaan with their sacks filled with corn, and the money which they had brought to purchase it, secretly restored, leaving Simeon as surety for the appearance of Benjamin. To this Jacob will not assent. But starvation drives them again to Egypt, the next year, and Jacob, reluctantly is compelled to allow Benjamin to go with them. The unexpected feast which Joseph made for them, sitting himself at another table—the greater portions given to Benjamin, the deception played upon them by the secretion of Joseph's silver cup in Benjamin's sack, as if he were a thief, the distress of all the sons of Jacob, the eloquent pleadings of Judah, the restrained tears of Joseph, the discovery of himself to them, the generosity of Pharaoh, the return of Jacob's children laden not only with corn but presents, the final migration of the whole family, to the land of Goshen, in the royal chariots, and the consummation of Joseph's triumphs, and happiness of Jacob—all these facts and incidents are told by Moses in the most fascinating and affecting narrative ever penned by man. It is absolutely transcendent, showing not only the highest dramatic skill, but revealing the Providence of God—that overruling power which causes good to come from evil, which is the most impressive lesson of all history, in every age. That single episode is worth more to civilization than all the glories of ancient Egypt; nor is there anything in the history of the ancient monarchies so valuable to all generations as the record by Moses of the early relations between God and his chosen people. And that is the reason why I propose to give them, in this work, their proper place, even if it be not after the fashion with historians. The supposed familiarity with Jewish history ought not to preclude the narration of these great events, and the substitution for them of the less important and obscure annals of the Pagans.
(M89) Joseph remained the favored viceroy of Egypt until he died, having the supreme satisfaction of seeing the prosperity of his father's house, and their rapid increase in the land of Goshen, on the eastern frontier of the Delta of the Nile,—a land favorable for herds and flocks. The capital of this district was On—afterward Heliopolis, the sacred City of the Sun, a place with which Joseph was especially connected by his marriage with the daughter of the high priest of On. Separated from the Egyptians by their position as shepherds, the children of Jacob retained their patriarchal constitution. In 215 years, they became exceedingly numerous, but were doomed, on the change of dynasty which placed Ramesis on the throne, to oppressive labors. Joseph died at the age of 110—eighty years after he had become governor of Egypt. In his latter years the change in the Egyptian dynasty took place. The oppression of his people lasted eighty years; and this was consummated by the cruel edict which doomed to death the infants of Israel; made, probably, in fear and jealousy from the rapid increase of the Israelites. The great crimes of our world, it would seem, are instigated by these passions, rather than hatred and malignity, like the massacre of St. Bartholomew and the atrocities of the French Revolution.
(M90) But a deliverer was raised up by God in the person of Moses, the greatest man in human annals, when we consider his marvelous intellectual gifts, his great work of legislation, his heroic qualities, his moral excellence, and his executive talents. His genius is more powerfully stamped upon civilization than that of any other one man—not merely on the Jews, but even Christian nations. He was born B.C. 1571, sixty-four years after the death of Joseph. Hidden in his birth, to escape the sanguinary decree of Pharaoh he was adopted by the daughter of the king, and taught by the priests in all the learning of the Egyptians. He was also a great warrior, and gained great victories over the Ethiopians. But seeing the afflictions of his brethren, he preferred to share their lot than enjoy all the advantages of his elevated rank in the palace of the king—an act of self-renunciation unparalleled in history. Seeing an Egyptian smite a Hebrew, he slew him in a burst of indignation, and was compelled to fly. He fled to Jethro, an Arab chieftain, among the Midianites. He was now forty years of age, in the prime of his life, and in the full maturity of his powers. The next forty years were devoted to a life of contemplation, the best preparation for his future duties. In the most secret places of the wilderness of Sinai, at Horeb, he communed with God, who appeared in the burning bush, and revealed the magnificent mission which he was destined to fulfill. He was called to deliver his brethren from bondage; but forty years of quiet contemplation, while tending the flocks of Jethro, whose daughter he married, had made him timid and modest. God renewed the covenant made to Abraham and Jacob, and Moses returned to Egypt to fulfill his mission. He joined himself with Aaron, his brother, and the two went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel, and after securing their confidence by signs and wonders, revealed their mission.
(M91) They then went to Pharaoh, a new king, and entreated of him permission to allow the people of Israel to go into the wilderness and hold a feast in obedience to the command of God. But Pharaoh said, who is the Lord that I should obey his voice. I know not the Lord—your God. The result was, the anger of the king and the increased burdens of the Israelites, which tended to make them indifferent to the voice of Moses, from the excess of their anguish.
(M92) Then followed the ten plagues which afflicted the Egyptians, and the obstinacy of the monarch, resolved to suffer any evil rather than permit the Israelites to go free. But the last plague was greater than the king could bear—the destruction of all the first-born in his land—and he hastily summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, under the impulse of a mighty fear, and bade them to depart with all their hosts and all their possessions. The Egyptians seconded the command, anxious to be relieved from further evils, and the Israelites, after spoiling the Egyptians, departed in the night—"a night to be much observed" for all generations, marching by the line of the ancient canal from Rameses, not far from Heliopolis, toward the southern frontier of Palestine. But Moses, instructed not to conduct his people at once to a conflict with the warlike inhabitants of Canaan, for which they were unprepared, having just issued from slavery, brought them round by a sudden turn to the south and east, upon an arm or gulf of the Red Sea. To the eyes of the Egyptians, who repented that they had suffered them to depart, and who now pursued them with a great army, they were caught in a trap. Their miraculous deliverance, one of the great events of their history, and the ruin of the Egyptian hosts, and their three months' march and countermarch in the wilderness need not be enlarged upon.
(M93) The exodus took place 430 years from the call of Abraham, after a sojourn in Egypt of 215 years, the greater part of which had been passed in abject slavery and misery. There were 600,000 men, besides women and children and strangers.
(M94) It was during their various wanderings in the wilderness of Sinai—forty years of discipline—that Moses gave to the Hebrews the rules they were to observe during all their generations, until a new dispensation should come. These form that great system of original jurisprudence that has entered, more or less, into the codes of all nations, and by which the genius of the lawgiver is especially manifested; although it is not to be forgotten he framed his laws by divine direction.
Let us examine briefly the nature and character of these laws. They have been ably expounded by Bishop Warburton, Prof. Wines and others.
(M95) The great fundamental principle of the Jewish code was to establish the doctrine of the unity of God. Idolatry had crept into the religious system of all the other nations of the world, and a degrading polytheism was everywhere prevalent. The Israelites had not probably escaped the contagion of bad example, and the suggestions of evil powers. The most necessary truth to impress upon the nation was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. Jehovah was made the supreme head of the Jewish state, whom the Hebrews were required, first and last, to recognize, and whose laws they were required to obey. And this right to give laws to the Hebrews was deduced, not only because he was the supreme creator and preserver, but because he had also signally and especially laid the foundation of the state by signs and miracles. He had spoken to the patriarchs, he had brought them into the land of Egypt, he had delivered them when oppressed. Hence, they were to have no other gods than this God of Abraham—this supreme, personal, benevolent God. The violation of this fundamental law was to be attended with the severest penalties. Hence Moses institutes the worship of the Supreme Deity. It was indeed ritualistic, and blended with sacrifices and ceremonies; but the idea—the spiritual idea of God as the supreme object of all obedience and faith, was impressed first of all upon the minds of the Israelites, and engraven on the tables of stone—"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
Having established the idea and the worship of God, Moses then instituted the various rites of the service, and laid down the principles of civil government, as the dictation of this Supreme Deity, under whose supreme guidance they were to be ruled.
(M96) But before the details of the laws were given to guide the Israelites in their civil polity, or to regulate the worship of Jehovah, Moses, it would seem, first spake the word of God, amid the thunders and lightnings of Sinai, to the assembled people, and delivered the ten fundamental commandments which were to bind them and all succeeding generations. Whether these were those which were afterward written on the two tables of stone, or not, we do not know. We know only that these great obligations were declared soon after the Israelites had encamped around Sinai, and to the whole people orally.
And, with these, God directed Moses more particularly to declare also the laws relating to man-servants, and to manslaughter, to injury to women, to stealing, to damage, to the treatment of strangers, to usury, to slander, to the observance of the Sabbath, to the reverence due to magistrates, and sundry other things, which seem to be included in the ten commandments.
(M97) After this, if we rightly interpret the book of Exodus, Moses went up into the mountain of Sinai, and there abode forty days and forty nights, receiving the commandments of God. Then followed the directions respecting the ark, and the tabernacle, and the mercy-seat, and the cherubim. And then were ordained the priesthood of Aaron and his vestments, and the garments for Aaron's sons, and the ceremonies which pertained to the consecration of priests, and the altar of incense, and the brazen laver.
(M98) After renewed injunctions to observe the Sabbath, Moses received of the Lord the two tables of stone, "written with the finger of God." But as he descended the mountain with these tables, after forty days, and came near the camp, he perceived the golden calf which Aaron had made of the Egyptian ear-rings and jewelry,—made to please the murmuring people, so soon did they forget the true God who brought them out of Egypt. And Moses in anger, cast down the tables and brake them, and destroyed the calf, and caused the slaughter of three thousand of the people by the hands of the children of Levi.
(M99) But God forgave the iniquity and renewed the tables, and made a new covenant with Moses, enjoining upon him the utter destruction of the Canaanites, and the complete extirpation of idolatry. He again gathered together the people of Israel, and renewed the injunction to observe the Sabbath, and then prepared for the building of the tabernacle, as the Lord directed, and also for the making of the sacred vessels and holy garments, and the various ritualistic form of worship. He then established the sacrificial rites, consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests, laid down the law for them in their sacred functions, and made other divers laws for the nation, in their social and political relations.
(M100) The substance of these civil laws was the political equality of the people; the distribution of the public domains among the free citizens which were to remain inalienable and perpetual in the families to which they were given, thus making absolute poverty or overgrown riches impossible; the establishment of a year of jubilee, once every fifty years, when there should be a release of all servitude, and all debts, and all the social inequalities which half a century produced; a magistracy chosen by the people, and its responsibility to the people; a speedy and impartial administration of justice; the absence of a standing army and the prohibition of cavalry, thus indicating a peaceful policy, and the preservation of political equality; the establishment of agriculture as the basis of national prosperity; universal industry, inviolability of private property, and the sacredness of family relations. These were fundamental principles. Moses also renewed the Noahmic ideas of the sacredness of human life. He further instituted rules for the education of the people, that "sons may be as plants grown up in their youth, and daughters as corner stones polished after the similitude of a palace." Such were the elemental ideas of the Hebrew commonwealth, which have entered, more or less, into all Christian civilizations. I can not enter upon a minute detail of these primary laws. Each of the tribes formed a separate state, and had a local administration of justice, but all alike recognized the theocracy as the supreme and organic law. To the tribe of Levi were assigned the duties of the priesthood, and the general oversight of education and the laws. The members of this favored tribe were thus priests, lawyers, teachers, and popular orators—a literary aristocracy devoted to the cultivation of the sciences. The chief magistrate of the united tribes was not prescribed, but Moses remained the highest magistrate until his death, when the command was given to Joshua. Both Moses and Joshua convened the states general, presided over their deliberations, commanded the army, and decided all appeals in civil questions. The office of chief magistrate was elective, and was held for life, no salary was attached to it, no revenues were appropriated to it, no tribute was raised for it. The chief ruler had no outward badges of authority; he did not wear a diadem; he was not surrounded with a court. His power was great as commander of the armies and president of the assemblies, but he did not make laws or impose taxes. He was assisted by a body of seventy elders—a council or senate, whose decisions, however, were submitted to the congregation, or general body of citizens, for confirmation. These senators were elected; the office was not hereditary; neither was a salary attached to it.
(M101) The great congregation—or assembly of the people, in which lay the supreme power, so far as any human power could be supreme in a theocracy,—was probably a delegated body chosen by the people in their tribes. They were representatives of the people, acting for the general good, without receiving instructions from their constituents. It was impossible for the elders, or for Moses, to address two million of people. They spoke to a select assembly. It was this assembly which made or ratified the laws, and which the executioner carried out into execution.
(M102) The oracle of Jehovah formed an essential part of the constitution, since it was God who ruled the nation. The oracle, in the form of a pillar of cloud, directed the wanderings of the people in the wilderness. This appeared amid the thunders of Sinai. This oracle decided all final questions and difficult points of justice. It could not be interrogated by private persons, only by the High Priest himself, clad in his pontifical vestments, and with the sacred insignia of his office, by "urim and thummim." Within the most sacred recesses of the tabernacle, in the Holy of Holies, the Deity made known his will to the most sacred personage of the nation, in order that no rash resolution of the people, or senate, or judge might be executed. And this response, given in an audible voice, was final and supreme, and not like the Grecian oracles, venal and mendacious. This oracle of the Hebrew God "was a wise provision to preserve a continual sense of the principal design of their constitution—to keep the Hebrews from idolatry, and to the worship of the only true God as their immediate protector; and that their security and prosperity rested upon adhering to his counsels and commands."
(M103) The designation and institution of high priest belonged not to the council of priests—although he was of the tribe of Levi, but to the Senate, and received the confirmation of the people through their deputies. "But the priests belonged to the tribe of Levi, which was set apart to God—the king of the commonwealth." "They were thus, not merely a sacerdotal body, appointed to the service of the altar, but also a temporal magistracy having important civil and political functions, especially to teach the people the laws." The high priest, as head of the hierarchy, and supreme interpreter of the laws, had his seat in the capital of the nation, while the priests of his tribe were scattered among the other tribes, and were hereditary. The Hebrew priests simply interpreted the laws; the priests of Egypt made them. Their power was chiefly judicial. They had no means of usurpation, neither from property, nor military command. They were simply the expositors of laws which they did not make, which they could not change, and which they themselves were bound to obey. The income of a Levite was about five times as great as an ordinary man, and this, of course, was derived from the tithes. But a greater part of the soil paid no tithes. The taxes to the leading class, as the Levites were, can not be called ruinous when compared with what the Egyptian priesthood received, especially when we remember that all the expenses connected with sacrifice and worship were taken from the tithes. The treasures which flowed into the sacerdotal treasury belonged to the Lord, and of these the priests were trustees rather than possessors.
(M104) Such, in general terms, briefly presented, was the Hebrew constitution framed by Moses, by the direction of God. It was eminently republican in spirit, and the power of the people through their representatives, was great and controlling. The rights of property were most sacredly guarded, and crime was severely and rigidly punished. Every citizen was eligible to the highest offices. That the people were the source of all power is proven by their voluntary change of government, against the advice of Samuel, against the oracle, and against the council of elders. We look in vain to the ancient constitutions of Greece and Rome for the wisdom we see in the Mosaic code. Under no ancient government were men so free or the laws so just. It is not easy to say how much the Puritans derived from the Hebrew constitution in erecting their new empire, but in many aspects there is a striking resemblance between the republican organization of New England and the Jewish commonwealth.
The Mosaic code was framed in the first year after the exodus, while the Israelites were encamped near Sinai. When the Tabernacle was erected, the camp was broken up, and the wandering in the desert recommenced. This was continued for forty years—not as a punishment, but as a discipline, to enable the Jews to become indoctrinated into the principles of their constitution, and to gain strength and organization, so as more successfully to contend with the people they were commanded to expel from Canaan. In this wilderness they had few enemies, and some friends, and these were wandering Arab tribes.
(M105) We can not point out all the details of the wanderings under the leadership of Moses, guided by the pillar of fire and the cloud. After forty years, they reached the broad valley which runs from the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, along the foot of Mount Seir, to the valley of the Dead Sea. Diverted from a direct entrance into Canaan by hostile Edomites, they marched to the hilly country to the east of Jordan, inhabited by the Amorites. In a conflict with this nation, they gained possession of their whole territory, from Mount Hermon to the river Anton, which runs into the Dead Sea. The hills south of this river were inhabited by pastoral Moabites—descendants of Lot, and beyond them to the Great Desert were the Ammonites, also descendants of Lot. That nation formed an alliance with the Midianites, hoping to expel the invaders then encamped on the plains of Moab. Here Moses delivered his farewell instructions, appointed his successor, and passed away on Mount Pisgah, from which he could see the promised land, but which he was not permitted to conquer. That task was reserved for Joshua, but the complete conquest of the Canaanites did not take place till the reign of David.
THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF DAVID.
The only survivors of the generation that had escaped from Egypt were Caleb and Joshua. All the rest had offended God by murmurings, rebellion, idolatries, and sundry offenses, by which they were not deemed worthy to enter the promised land. Even Moses and Aaron had sinned against the Lord.
(M106) So after forty years' wanderings, and the children of Israel were encamped on the plains of Moab, Moses finally addressed them, forbidding all intercourse with Jews with other nations, enjoining obedience to God, requiring the utter extirpation of idolatry, and rehearsing in general, the laws which he had previously given them, and which form the substance of the Jewish code, all of which he also committed to writing, and then ascended to the top of Pisgah, over against Jericho, from which he surveyed, all the land of Judah and Napthali, and Manasseh and Gilead unto Dan—the greater part of the land promised unto Abraham. He then died, at the age of 120, B.C. 1451 and no man knew the place of his burial.
(M107) The Lord then encouraged Joshua his successor, and the conquest of the country began—by the passage over the Jordan and the fall of Jericho. The manna, with which the Israelites for forty years had been miraculously fed, now was no longer to be had, and supplies of food were obtained from the enemy's country. None of the inhabitants of Jericho were spared except Rahab the harlot, and her father's household, in reward for her secretion of the spy which Joshua had sent into the city. At the city of Ai, the three thousand men sent to take it were repulsed, in punishment for the sin of Achan, who had taken at the spoil of Jericho, a Babylonian garment and three hundred sheckels of silver and a wedge of gold. After he had expiated this crime, the city of Ai was taken, and all its inhabitants were put to death. The spoil of the city was reserved for the nation.
(M108) The fall of these two cities alarmed the Hamite nations of Palestine west of the Jordan, and five kings of the Amorites entered into a confederation to resist the invaders. The Gibeonites made a separate peace with the Israelites. Their lives were consequently spared, but they were made slaves forever. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy that Canaan should serve Shem.
Meantime the confederate kings—more incensed with the Gibeonites than with the Israelites, since they were traitors to the general cause, marched against Gibeon, one of the strongest cities of the land. It invoked the aid of Joshua, who came up from Gilgal, and a great battle was fought, and resulted in the total discomfiture of the five Canaanite kings. The cities of Makkedah, Libnah, Gizu, Eglon, Hebron, successively fell into the hands of Joshua, as the result of their victory.
(M109) The following year a confederation of the Northern kings, a vast host with horses and chariots, was arrayed against the Israelites; but the forces of the Canaanites were defeated at the "Waters of Merom," a small lake, formerly the Upper Jordan. This victory was followed by the fall of Hazor, and the conquest of the whole land from Mount Halak to the Valley of Lebanon. Thirty-one kings were smitten "in the mountains, in the plains, in the wilderness, in the south country: the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites." There only remained the Philistines, whose power was formidable. The conquered country was divided among the different tribes, half of which were settled on the west of Jordan. The tabernacle was now removed to Shiloh, in the central hill country between Jordan and the Mediterranean, which had been assigned, to the tribe of Ephraim. Jacob had prophetically declared the ultimate settlements of the twelve tribes in the various sections of the conquered country. The pre-eminence was given to Judah, whose territory was the most considerable, including Jerusalem, the future capital, then in the hands of the Jebusites. The hilly country first fell into the hands of the invaders, while the low lands were held tenaciously by the old inhabitants where their cavalry and war chariots were of most avail.
(M110) The Israelites then entered, by conquest, into a fruitful land, well irrigated, whose material civilization was already established, with orchards and vineyards, and a cultivated face of nature, with strong cities and fortifications.
(M111) Joshua, the great captain of the nation, died about the year 1426 B.C., and Shechem, the old abode of Abraham and Jacob, remained the chief city until the fall of Jerusalem. Here the bones of Joseph were deposited, with those of his ancestors.
(M112) The nation was ruled by Judges from the death of Joshua for about 330 years—a period of turbulence and of conquest. The theocracy was in full force, administered by the high priests and the council of elders. The people, however, were not perfectly cured of the sin of idolatry, and paid religious veneration to the gods of Phoenicia and Moab. The tribes enjoyed a virtual independence, and central authority was weak. In consequence, there were frequent dissensions and jealousies and encroachments.
(M113) The most powerful external enemies of this period were the kings of Mesopotamia, of Moab, and of Hazor, the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Ammonites, and the Philistines. The great heroes of the Israelites in their contests with these people were Othnie, Ehud, Barak, Gideon, Jepthna, and Samson. After the victories of Gideon over the Midianites, and of Jepthna over the Ammonites, the northern and eastern tribes enjoyed comparative repose, and when tranquillity was restored Eli seems to have exercised the office of high priest with extraordinary dignity, but his sons were a disgrace and scandal, whose profligacy led the way to the temporary subjection of the Israelites for forty years to the Philistines, who obtained possession of the sacred ark.
(M114) A deliverer of the country was raised up in the person of Samuel, the prophet, who obtained an ascendancy over the nation by his purity and moral wisdom. He founded the "School of the Prophets" in Kamah, and to him the people came for advice. He seems to have exercised the office of judge. Under his guidance the Israelites recovered their sacred ark, which the Philistines, grievously tormented by God, sent back in an impulse of superstitious fear. Moreover, these people were so completely overthrown by the Israelites that they troubled them no longer for many years.
(M115) Samuel, when old, made his sons judges, but their rule was venal and corrupt. In disgust, the people of Israel then desired a king. Samuel warned them of the consequences of such a step, and foretold the oppression to which they would be necessarily subject; but they were bent on having a king, like other nations—a man who should lead them on to conquest and dominion. Samuel then, by divine command, granted their request, and selected Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, as a fit captain to lead the people against the Philistines—the most powerful foe which had afflicted Israel.
(M116) After he had anointed the future king he assembled the whole nation together, through their deputies, at Mizpeh, who confirmed the divine appointment. Saul, who appeared reluctant to accept the high dignity, was fair and tall, and noble in appearance, patriotic, warlike, generous, affectionate—the type of an ancient hero, but vacillating, jealous, moody, and passionate. He was a man to make conquests, but not to elevate the dignity of the nation. Samuel retired into private life, and Saul reigned over the whole people.
(M117) His first care was to select a chosen band of experienced warriors, and there was need, for the Philistines gathered together a great army, with 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and encamped at Michmash. The Israelites, in view of this overwhelming force, hid themselves from fear, in caves and amid the rocks of the mountain fastnesses. In their trouble it was found necessary to offer burnt sacrifices; but Saul, impulsive and assuming, would not wait to have the rites performed according to the divine direction, but offered the sacrifices himself. By this act he disobeyed the fundamental laws which Moses had given, violated, as it were, the constitution; and, as a penalty for this foolish and rash act, Samuel pronounced his future deposition; but God confounded, nevertheless, the armies of the Philistines, and they were routed and scattered. Saul then turned against the Amalekites, and took their king, whom he spared in an impulse of generosity, even though he utterly destroyed his people. Samuel reproved him for this leniency against the divine command, Saul attempted to justify himself by the sacrifice of all the enemies' goods and oxen, to which Samuel said, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt sacrifices and offerings as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold! to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams; for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry." Most memorable words! thus setting virtue and obedience over all rites and ceremonies—a final answer to all ritualism and phariseeism.