Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

from the sentiments of pride and patriotism. But as soon as he was dead, and a son of inferior gifts and splendor, sat upon his throne, the people grew restive under the yoke, and demanded some abatement in the public burdens. The haughty answer they received from the young king, alienated their affections, and inflamed their resentment. Ten tribes revolted, and chose for their king, Jeroboam, a man alike destitute of piety and principle. To draw off the ten tribes more effectually from the house of David, he undertook to change their religion, and prevent their going up to Jerusalem, at their annual festivals. So he made two golden calves, one of which he set up at Bethel, about twelve miles from Jerusalem, on the border of his kingdom toward the South, and the other at Dan, on the northern extremity of his dominions, and said to his subjects: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold, thy gods which brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” He also ordained a feast in opposition to the festivals at Jerusalem. Seduced by such an example in high places, the ten tribes soon forsook the true God, and verged rapidly to ruin. What was wanting in the depravity of Jeroboam, seems fully to have been made up by Ahab, some generations after, for he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, introducing with her the worst species of idolatry. The kingdom of Israel was set up nine hundred and ninety years before Christ, and continued

a

only two hundred and fifty-four. By that time the knowledge of the true God was nearly lost among them, and they were carried away by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, beyond the Euphrates, never more to return.

As it often happened in ancient times, the conqueror settled the country which had been possessed by the ten tribes with colonies of his own subjects from Babylon and Cutha, and other countries. When they arrived there they found the country infested by lions, which had overrun it in its desolation. Imagining in their heathenish superstition, that it was because they did not know how to worship the God of the country, they sent to the king of Assyria for one of the priests, whom he had taken captive, to teach them in their Pagan phrase, “the manner of the god of the land," and he returned to them one of the priests who took up his residence in Bethel, and taught them the worship of the true God. But all he ever effected was to make them worship the true God in conjunction with other gods. The kingdom of Judah and Benjamin continued after that of Israel was destroyed, one hundred and thirty-eight years, when they too were carried into captivity to Babylon.

We hear nothing more of the successors of the ten tribes, till the return of the Jews and the rebuilding of the temple, by Zorobabel and his companions.

[ocr errors]

When they were building the temple, the descendants of these emigrants from beyond the Euphrates, who occupied the territory of the ten tribes, having been partially instructed in the Jewish religion, sent to them an offer to join with them in the work. “Let us build with you,” said they, “ for we seek your God as ye do: and we do sacrifice to him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hitherto." This offer was rejected, as an impartial judge of the present times would say, in terms by no means courteous or conciliating. “Ye have nothing to do

. with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together, will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us.” Here then was the first offence between the Jews and Samaritans, as they were afterwards called from Samaria the ancient capital of the country, which aggravated by repeated ill offices, ripened at last into the most deadly hostility. Rejected and insulted by the Jews, the Samaritans began to obstruct their undertaking. They wrote slanderous letters to the court of Persia, and finally caused the enterprise for a while to be broken off. A few years afterwards a circumstance took place, which very much widened the breach. Nehemiah, who had been cupbearer to the Persian king, and had amassed immense wealth, was permitted by his niaster to come to Jerusalem, in the capacity of governor. He there found various

abuses to have crept into their sacred things. Among others, Eliashib, the high priest, had married a grandson to the daughter of Sanballat the governor of the Samaritans, and the last record of the Old Testament, is his banishment from Judea. From Josephus we learn that the name of this priest was Manasseh, and that his father-in-law, Sanballat, to compensate him for the loss of the high priesthood at Jerusalem, promised him that he would build him a temple on Mount Gerizim, and bestow on him the sacerdotal dignity. This promise he afterwards performed, and it is supposed that Manasseh took from Jerusalem, a copy of the law of Moses, from which was derived the Samaritan Pentateuch so famous in modern times. The building of this temple, served still farther to exasperate the two nations against each other. Their hostilities were waged not only in Palestine, but were pursued even in exile. It is related in one of the Rabbinical books, that “Ezra, Zorobabel and Jeshua, gathered all the congregation into the temple, and brought in three hundred priests, and three hundred books of the law, and three hundred infants, and they blew trumpets, and the Levites sung and chanted, and cursed, and excommunicated, and separated the Samaritans by the sacred name of God, and by the glorious writing of the tables, and by the curse of the upper and lower house of judgment, that no Israelite eat of anything that is a Samaritan's, for he that doth, does as if he eat swine's flesh. Nor that any Samaritan be proselyted to Israel, nor have any part in the resurrection." This horrid curse, though it sounds somewhat apocryphal, is a sufficient testimony of the state of feeling which existed when it was committed to writing, which was not long after Christ. They carried the same animosity into foreign countries. When Alexander had conquered Syria, Palestine and Egypt, and had determined to build the city which bears his name, he transported thither a large colony of Jews, and mingled with them were likewise, not a few of their old neighbors, the Samaritans. There in the reign of Ptolemy Philometor, one hundred and forty-seven years before Christ, the old animosity broke out afresh, and the parties came to open arms. Ptolemy in order to settle this dispute between them, which was of no more moment than which was the true temple, that upon Mount Gerizim, or that on Mount Moriah, commanded them to argue their cause before him by deputation. Two were appointed on each side, and so great was their animosity, and so confident were each of their cause, that they bound themselves by oath, that whichever should lose their case in argument, should be put to death. The Samaritans were vanquished and were executed upon the spot.

Another cause which contributed to their hatred,

« ElőzőTovább »