All Interpretation of the English Bible THE DIVIDED KINGDOM and THE RESTORATION PERIOD by B. H. CARROLL

All Interpretation of the English Bible


Late President of Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

Edited and compiled by
J. B. Cranfill

Grand Rapids, Michigan

New and complete edition
Copyright 1948, Broadman Press
Reprinted by Baker Book House
with permission of
Broadman Press

ISBN: 0_8010_2344_0
First Printing, September 1973
Second Printing, September 1976



I. General Introduction 1
II. The Disruption and Some General Observations 11
III. The Beginnings of the Two Kingdoms 22
IV. The Reign of Asa and the Parallel Fortunes of Israel 33
V. The Reign of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah 44
VI. The Reign of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah (Cont.) 56
VII. The House of Omri 67
VIII. Elijah Alone Against the World 75
IX. Elisha, the Successor of Elijah 92
X. Gathering Up the Fragments that Nothing Be Lost 105
XI. The Story of Naaman, the Siege of Samaria,
and the Death of Jehoram (of Judah) 119
XII. The Reigns of Ahaziah (of Judah), Jehoram (of Israel)
and the Rise of the House of Nimshi 130
XIII. From the Rise of Jehu to the Reign of Jehoash
and the Corresponding History of Judah 138
XIV. The Reigns of Jehoash and Jeroboam (of Israel)
and of Amaziah and Uzziah (of Judah) 151
XV. The Reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, and Thaz (of Judah)and Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Peka (of Israel) 158
XVI. The Reigns of Hoshea (of Israel) and Hezekiah
(of Judah) 164
XVII. The Reign of Hezekiah 172
XVIII. The Reigns of Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah 187
XIX. The Downfall of Judah and Jerusalem 199
XX. Ezra and Nehemiah – An Introduction 211
XXI. The Return and Reorganization Under Zerubbabel .216
XXII. Ezra and His Great Reformation. 224
XXIII. The Expedition of Nehemiah and His Work
of Rebuilding 230

XXIV. The Reading of the Law and Resettlement
of the Cities 238
XXV. The Story of Esther 243
XXVI. An Introduction to the Postexilian Prophets
and an interpretation of Haggai. 254
XXVII. The Book of Zechariah 266
XXVIII. The Book of Zechariah (Cont.) 281
XXIX. The Book of Zechariah (Cont.) 295
XXX. The Book of Zechariah (Concl.). 312
XXXI. The Book of Malachi 324
XXXII. The Book of Malachi (Cont.) 335

It is well to name some general helps available and valuable
to every ordinary student of the English Bible whose literary
attainments are limited. For university graduates and riper
scholars a much more extended bibliography would be appro_
priate. The helps here named should be in every preacher’s
1. Wood’s Hebrew Monarchy. This, in some respects, is a
better textbook than Crockett’s Harmony, because it places
beside the texts the parallel passage from the Prophets and
other books, giving a broader view of the subject, but it is an
English book and has to be imported from England, and so
costs a great deal more than Crockett’s, which is a splendid
book. If I were a young preacher, I certainly would send for
Wood’s Hebrew Monarchy and master it.
2. Edersheim’s „History of Israel.” This is the best general
help. It is scholarly, conservative, and spiritual. The edition
published in about nine small volumes, is easily handled, and
volumes V and VI are the ones to use in this study.
3. Stanley’s „Jewish Church.” This is a very lively discus_
sion of this history. It follows mainly Ewald’s History of Is_
rael, and hence, to a considerable extent, is poisoned with the
German radical criticism. It is not nearly so conservative or
safe as Edersheim. It would perhaps be better to leave it out, if
the reader’s general knowledge is not pretty well extended.
4. Geikie’s „Hour with the Bible,” in six volumes. Volume
IV is the one for this study. The chief value of this book is its
intimate acquaintance with the archeology of the surrounding

nations. Geikie is a radical critic, and I do not class him at all
with Edersheim, but I get a good deal of benefit from the book.
5. Hengstenberg’s „History of the Kingdom of God in the
Old Testament,” in two volumes. Volume II is the one to
study as collateral help. Hengstenberg was the chaplain of the
emperor of Germany, a prominent teacher in the Theological
Department of the Berlin University, and is one of the few
Germans who did not go wild on radical criticism. I became
.so much attached to him that I ordered all of his books. He
has a commentary on four or five of the prophets and on the
Psalms, and he has a magnificent discussion on the Christology
of the Old Testament. But his work bearing on this study is
in the second volume of his history of the kingdom of God in
the Old Testament.
6. People’s Bible History. This is a very modern work,
edited by the great Northern Baptist preacher, George C.
Lorimer. William E. Gladstone wrote the introduction to the
book. It gives a brief and valuable discussion of all the periods
of Bible history. About one of the poorest of them is the one
written by a Methodist preacher on this part here. I do not
mean to say that this is bad – it is good – but it is about the
poorest among a great many great documents.

Now a word about commentaries. The Cambridge Bible is
good on both Kings and Chronicles. That commentary is pub_
lished in very small, handy volumes. Some of the volumes of
the Cambridge commentary are utterly poisoned by radical
criticism, but the volumes on Kings and Chronicles are both
Sometimes, but not nearly so often, I recommend a volume
of the „Expositor’s Bible,” but I cannot do it on this period.
That is written by Canon Farrar of England, and while he
has written some splendid New Testament books – such as the
Life of Christ and the Life of Paul – yet, we may skip any_

thing on the Old Testament written by Farrar and never lose
anything; he is a semi_infidel on the Old Testament. So I
never refer to the „Expositor’s Bible” for help on this section
of the Bible.
There is a little commentary that I particularly recommend.
It is so brief, so clear, so scholarly, and withal so conservative
that I advise the reader to consult it. It is Murphy on Chroni_
cles. I especially commend this one.
On this period the reader may profitably consult other com_
mentaries. Not in every particular, but in general, I recom_
mend the following: Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown. It is about
the briefest commentary on the whole Bible I ever saw, but
very critical, scholarly, and generally very sound. Second, the
Bible (or Speaker’s) Commentary, generally very good. Third,
the Pulpit Commentary, which is very voluminous, and certain
volumes of it better than others, but on the whole it is a very
valuable commentary for a preacher to have, particularly the
homiletical part of it. Fourth, one that I never leave out, is
the Comprehensive Commentary, the basis of which is Mat_
thew Henry. That is an old commentary, edited by a Baptist,
named Jenkins. These old commentaries are generally far
more spiritual than the modern commentaries. They are, of
course, not up_to_date in some things, but we get the heart of
the matter in them, and that is the main thing, because an
irreverent commentary however scholarly, hurts spirituality.
Not so, Matthew Henry.
Now, having mentioned the general helps and the commen_
taries, I will mention the histories that have been favorites of
mine. First, I mention Rollins’ Ancient History on this period.
For instance, Egypt, Phoenicia, Assyria, Babylon. Rollins
looks at history from the standpoint of God and God’s govern_
ment of the nations.
The second general history, and I will mention only one
other, is not so old as Rollins’ history. It is written by a con_
servative critic, George Rawlinson on „The Five Great Monar_
chies of the Ancient World” and all of them touching the king_
dom of God. Those five are Chaldea, Assyria, Babylonia,
Media, and Persia, besides special histories of Egypt, Phoeni_
cia, and Parthia.
I repeat here some observations given in our study on the
Hebrew monarchy. They bear particularly on the part of the
history supplied by Chronicles. There are certain peculiarities
of Chronicles which distinguish it, not only from the books of
Samuel and Kings, but from all the other books before the
destruction of the monarchy. I wish to make these matters
plain for the object of this introduction is simply to show how
to study.
First, the book of Kings was written by contemporary his_
torians concerning the current events of the theocratic Jewish
monarchy in which the civil and religious powers were united.
It was necessary, therefore, for Kings to give the history of
both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, of
the ten tribes and the Kingdom of Judah, and also to set forth
the work of the prophets in both kingdoms. Chronicles was
written, or rather compiled, by Ezra, long after most of the
events narrated therein, and from the viewpoint of a spiritual,
rather than of a worldly kingdom, seeing that the worldly
monarchy was ended forever. The viewpoint in Chronicles is
very different from the viewpoint in Kings; before one word
of Chronicles was written, or rather compiled, the monarchy
was gone, never to be restored. Unless therefore, the kingdom
idea is to be abandoned altogether, this new history must stress
the spiritual idea of the kingdom, and hence prepare the way
for the Messiah’s spiritual kingdom to succeed David’s. From
the viewpoint of Chronicles the state ruler is a foreigner, a Per_
sian, later to be a Greek, and still later, a Roman. Hence, it is
on a line with the kingdom idea of the prophets on the exilian
and the postexilian periods, particularly Daniel.
Chronicles has little to say of the Northern Kingdom, in
fact, it does not touch it at all except at the few points of
special contact with the Southern Kingdom. So we do not look
to Chronicles to learn about the history of the ten tribes.
Chronicles does not stress the ten tribes in their losing, but
it does stress every return from the ten tribes of Judah. We
will notice that as one of the greatest peculiarities of the book.
The object is to show that the ten tribes were not lost; a rem_
nant was saved and returned to Judah.
Now, as the theocratic, worldly monarchy is dead forever,
the book of Chronicles is needed to commence at the beginning
of time and trace, through the Davidic line, the true concep_
tion of the Messiah’s approaching kingdom. Hence, Chronicles
commences with Adam, just as if there were no other history at
all. Its first nine chapters are devoted to giving the genealogy
down to David, then it gives at length the glorious reigns of
David and Solomon, with which we do not have anything to
do in this discussion. Only the last part of it is devoted to the
history of Judah after the ten tribes had revolted and that is
the part we have for consideration in this discussion.
Hence, the book of Chronicles largely supplements all past
history of the Jews by the introduction of very new matter.
In Chronicles are found twenty whole chapters and twenty_
four parts of chapters that are not found anywhere else in the
Bible. To be exact, I give the parts of the book that cannot
be found anywhere else:
I Chronicles 2:18_55; 3:19_24; 9; 11:41_47; 12; 15:1_26; 16;
2 Chronicles 6:40_42; 11:5_53; 12:4_8; 13:3_21; 14:3_15;
15:1_15; 16:7_10; 17_19; 20:1_30; 21:2_4; 11_19; 24:15_22;
25:5_10, 12_16; 26:5_20; 27:4_6; 28:5_25; 29:3_36; 30_31;
32:22_23, 26_31; 33:11_19; 34:3_7; 35:2_17, 25; 36:11_23.
These passages show the differences in matter between
Chronicles and all previous Old Testament histories. When we
study a book we ought to know the object in view, and how it
is distinguished from other books. On the way to a convention
once I happened to refer to this enormous supplementary
character of the book of Chronicles, and a preacher present
stated that he knew I was mistaken, and I told him that if he
had ever taught it as I bad, word by word, he would not chal_
lenge my statement.
I have referred to the book of Chronicles as a compilation
by Ezra long after most of the history had passed away. Now
a very important matter to determine is, What were Ezra’s
sources of material for compiling this book? Of course, he had
before him all the canonical books written before his time –
every book written from Genesis to the end of Kings – histori_
cal, poetical, and prophetic. Ezra was living when the Old
Testament ended, and indeed according to good tradition he
put together the whole of the Old Testament in the form we
now have it. The end of Chronicles is the beginning of Ezra
and Nehemiah. But if twenty complete chapters and twenty_
four parts of chapters are found nowhere else, what is his
source for this considerable supplementary matter? The com_
piler himself refers, for the events of David’s reign, to records
by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. For the reign of Solomon he re_
fers to records by Nathan, the prophecy of Abijah and the
visions of Iddo, the Seer. For the other reigns he refers to rec_
ords by Iddo, Shemaiah, Jehu the son of Hanani, Isaiah, and
others. So the radical critics never made a greater mistake in
their lives than when they supposed that the Jewish nation
was not abundantly supplied with contempory records. No
other nation in the world ever had such a systematic preserva_
tion of contemporaneous literature as the Jews.

I must speak somewhat of the causes which led to the dis_
ruption of the kingdom. The kingdom was established in Saul,
who reigned forty years; then followed David, forty years and
Solomon, forty years. There was a period of 120 years of the
united kingdom, all of which we discussed in the period of He_
brew monarchy.
The most glorious reign of any monarch known to history
was the reign of Solomon. It filled the vision of the world. Ita
empire extended from a branch of the Nile to the Euphrates.
The nations of the world sent their princes and their wise men
to look upon his glory and to hear his wisdom. He had the sea
commerce of the world in two directions: First, from Joppa,
Tyre, and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast, and he traded
even with the British Isles; and then from Eziongeber, a port
on the Arabian Gulf, his fleets went to the far east. From
Egypt on the Nile to the Euphrates there were two great
caravan routes, passing through Damascus and from Tyre
another caravan route extending across into Arabia. Jerusalem
was made the center and entrepot of these mighty tides of
commerce by land and sea. And yet, in a few days after he
died, the kingdom went to pieces.
We are to study this divided kingdom, and before we take
up the history of the divided kingdom, I will point out some
of the causes remote and near, that brought about so great a
collapse in so short a time. There are no accidents in history;
no man can put his finger on any historic name or event and
tell just where it started. He does not know how far back he
will have to go, nor can he tell just where it will stop. But the
philosophy of history consists in seeing the reasons of things.
I emphasize as the first cause the long_standing jealousy be_
tween the two great tribes, Ephraim and Judah. When Jacob
went to bless Joseph’s children, though he was blind, he crossed
his hands in order to get his right hand on the head of Ephraim,
the younger son, and in his blessing on the tribes, at the end
of Genesis, we find a forecast of the power of the children of
Joseph. And when Moses gives his blessing, at the end of
Deuteronomy, he forecasts Judah and Ephraim. And in the
history of the judges we see the pride of Ephraim continually
coming to the front. In Saul’s time, Ephraim supported Saul
after God rejected him, and supported his son, Ishbosheth,
after God had committed the kingdom to David. Ephraim pre_
vented the consolidation of the kingdom under David for quite
a while, but it finally came into line. Now, that long_standing
Jealousy between Ephraim and Judah finally fruited into the
division of the kingdom.
Second, the reluctance of the northern tribes to give up their
holy places after Jerusalem was made, by David, the capital
of the whole country. For instance, there was Shechem, a holy
place in Abraham’s time, and the schools of the prophets, most
of them at least, were located in the territory of the ten tribes.
Gibeon, where Solomon worshiped, was in the territory of the
ten tribes; Shiloh, where the ark rested so long was there. When
a capital was selected which lay mostly in the tribes of Benja_
min and partly in the tribe of Judah, this being the central
site (the Temple was built there), it discounted all the other
holy places, and those who had been accustomed to other
places had a jealousy of Jerusalem.
Third, the memory of previous rebellions against the house
of David still lived. Sheba’s rebellion was evidently alive, for
we will see in the next chapter that the seceding tribes adopt
the very divisive war cry of Sheba. When Absalom rebelled
the ten tribes sided with him. These are all remote causes.
Now I will give you some nearer causes, and we commence
with Solomon. In the first place, Solomon departed from the
Mosaic Law of the Kingdom given in Deuteronomy 17:14_20.
We can never understand the Jewish monarchy unless we fix
on our hearts that paragraph in Deuteronomy which gives the
law of the Kingdom: „He shall not multiply wives,” and Solo_
mon had about a thousand in all, wives and concubines, a pret_
ty big violation there. „He shall not multiply horses,” and yet
we read the account of the palatial residences of Solomon’s
horses and chariots. „He shall not inter_marry with Canaan_
ites.” Look at the list of some of Solomon’s wives. „He shall
have a copy of the Pentateuch [the law] made and keep it by
him and read it and meditate on it every day.” Look at the
number of times he violated that Pentateuch.
The second offensive thing that Solomon did was to enforce
labor, that is, he drafted the population for labor and with
enforced labor and very onerous taxes he erected many impos_
ing public structures apart from the Temple. His own palace
it took thirteen years to build. Then the enormous food supply
for his court table and his laborers was a grievous tax. A sum_
mons had to go out all over the land: „You must furnish so
many oxen,” etc., and it tells the number of oxen they ate at
Solomon’s table every day. The people liked public improve_
ments, but when those improvements were all put up in one
end of the country, at Jerusalem mainly, these other places felt
that they were taxed out of house and home to build up another
part of the country.
Third, there was a cosmopolitan atmosphere about the court
of Solomon, which gendered a foreign spirit, alien to the sim_
plicity of the isolated mission of Israel. Then, Solomon erected
places of worship for his heathen wives and in Jerusalem at
that. And judgment was pronounced on him for it. God fore_
told him through a prophet that the kingdom would be divided,
but not in his day, and that he would lose ten of the tribes.
Now, we come to the last observation that I want to make
on the causes. Let the reader get first, a mental map, and then
a mental history of the nations surrounding Solomon’s king_
dom. They have a great deal to do with the division of the
Then let us look at Egypt first. Solomon tried to secure
peace with Egypt by marrying a daughter of Pharaoh. But a
new Pharaoh, Shishak, of a different dynasty, becomes king
of Egypt, and every man in Solomon’s kingdom that gets dis_
gruntled flees to Egypt, and that king nourishes them, just as
the kings of France would receive the house of the banished
Stuarts and take care of them, all the time prepared to use
them in an invasion of England. We cannot understand this
period unless we know Egypt.
Then on the Mediterranean coast was Phoenicia, Tyre,
and Sidon. The darkest hour for religion in the history of the
world since the flood comes from Phoenician influence) as we
:shall see a little later. Then, just north, is Syria, coming into
power in this period, and we will trace the rise of Syria. Then
south was Edom, the children of Esau, and then Midian, the
children of Abraham by Keturah; then the Ishmaelites, the
children of Abraham by Hagar; then the descendants of Lot’s
incest with his daughters, the Ammonites and the Moabites, on
the southwest.
Now, with that circle of enemies, always ready to take ad_
vantage, it is very important that the kingdom stand together,
for if it ever divides we will see in a moment that Judah has
to fortify itself south and west to protect against Egypt and
Philistia. When the Northern Kingdom is mad at Judah it
makes friends with Egypt, and Judah will rally itself with
Syria. So each kingdom will be ready to persuade the outside
enemy of the other to step on its tail in case of war.

1. What general helps commended?
2. What commentaries?
3. What histories?
4. Distinguish between Kings & Chronicles, bringing out clearly the peculiar-ities of Chronicles as to viewpoints, beginning and supplementary matter.
5. What are the sources of material for Chronicles, particularly for
the supplementary matter?
6. How long had the monarchy lasted before the division, and what reigns?
7. Give a summary of Solomon’s kingdom as to its glory, extent,
caravan trade, and commerce.
8. Enumerate the causes, remote and near, of the sudden collapse and
division of the kingdom.
9. What the contiguous nations contributing to the danger of Solo_
mon’s kingdom and necessitating union in order to safety and what the special danger from each?

I Kings 12:1-24; 2 Chronicles 10:1 to 11:4

At the close of the introductory chapter we were considering
the causes of the division, remote and near. I had not quite
concluded that subject. The one man most to blame for this
division was Solomon. The overruling cause was God. This
was announced to Solomon, I Kings 11:9_13, as follows: „And
the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was
turned away from the Lord, God of Israel, which had appeared.
unto him twice. And had commanded him concerning this
thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he kept not
that which the Lord commanded. Wherefore the Lord said un_
to Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast
not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have com_
manded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and.
will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will
not do it, for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of
the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the
kingdom; but I will give one tribe to thy son for David my
servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
Mark that one tribe.
God’s purpose was announced to Jeroboam with the condi_
tions, I Kings 11:27_40, „And the man Jeroboam was a mighty
man of valour: and Solomon saw the young man that he was
industrious, and he gave him charge over all the labor of the
house of Joseph. And this was the cause that he lifted up his
hand against the king. And it came to pass at that time, when
Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the
Shilonite found him in the way; now Ahijah had clad him_
self with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field.
And Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him,
and rent it in twelve pieces [mark the 12 pieces]. And he said
to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord,
the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the
hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: (but he shall
have one tribe, for my servant David’s sake, and for Jeru_
salem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes
of Israel) because that they have forsaken me, and have wor_
shiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh, the
God of Moab, and Milcom, the god of the children of Ammon;
and they have not walked in my ways, to do that which is
right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments,
as did David his father. Howbeit I will not take the whole
kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the
days of his life, for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose,
because he kept my commandments and my statutes: but I
will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and give it unto
thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe,
that David my servant may have a lamp always before me in
Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name
there. And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according
to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.”
Now mark the conditions: „And it shall be, if thou wilt
hearken unto all I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways,
and do that which is right in mine eyes, to keep my statutes
and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will
be with thee, and will build thee a sure house, as I built for
David, and will give Israel unto thee. And I will for this af_
flict the seed of David, but not forever. Solomon sought there_
fore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt,
unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death
of Solomon.”
In pursuance of this overruling of God, an enemy did he
raise up from the south against Solomon, I Kings 11:14, 21_22:

„And the Lord raised up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad
the Edomite; he was of the king’s seed in Edom. And when
Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and
that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to
Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country.
Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with
me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And
he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me depart in any wise.”
When Joab made war on Edom and almost extirpated the na_
tion, one little boy – this boy Hadad – was saved. His mother
and some friends got him into Egypt, and there he wag raised
up. Now, that is enemy number two; Jeroboam was the first.
An enemy was also raised up from the north by the Lord.
In I Kings 11:23, 25 we read: „And God raised up another ad_
versary unto him, Rezon the son of Eliada, which had fled
from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah. And he was an ad_
versary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief
that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel and reigned over Sy_
ria.” Mark the rise of the Syrian government on the north;
we will have a good deal to do with it in the history in connec_
tion with this man Rezon and his successors. Now, here are
three men, and when a man has three deadly enemies he must
walk prudently. From this northern enemy arose the Syrians.
The immediate occasion of the division was a great popular
assembly of the whole nation, called to meet at Shechem, one
of the holy places in the tribe of Ephraim, to consider the ques_
tion of the kingdom; the immediate cause of the disruption
took place at that popular assembly, which we will bring out
more particularly. The law of selecting kings was as follows:
First, God must appoint him. Second, the people in popular
assembly must approve. That was not an absolute monarchy:
it was both a monarchy and a democracy. The great congrega_
tion of Israel, the Jewish ecclesia or church, had a potential
voice in public affairs. The proof of this is seen in the fact that
the popular assembly approved Saul, David and Solomon,
after God had appointed them. The reader will find that a
great popular assembly met at Mizpeh (I Sam. 10:17_21), and
in that assembly the people ratified God’s choice of Saul as
king. Then when God made David king a great popular as_
sembly came together at Hebron (2 Sam. 5:1_3; I Chron. II:
1_3) and ratified the divine choice. When Solomon was made
king this popular assembly was held at Gihon (I Kings 1:38_
40). So we see that these assemblies were customary in order
to commit the people by voluntary act to God’s appointment.
We find in Exodus 19 that the popular assembly voted to enter
into covenant with God. So we must not consider this convo_
cation at Shechem as an irregular or unusual proceeding. She_
chem, the place of the assembly, was a notable place in Jacob’s
time, and long after Jacob. It has long been a holy place and
was situated in the hill country of Ephraim.
When Solomon died the tribes sent to Egypt for Jeroboam
to come back. I have showed the great capacity and industry
of this spokesman. He belonged to the tribe of Ephraim; and
the prophet of the tribe of Ephraim at Shiloh had announced
to him that he would be king of the ten tribes. Inasmuch as
he had been assessor and collector over Ephraim and Man_
asseh, he had ample opportunity to get acquainted with the
people, to know exactly what their burdens were under the
Solomon rule, and they admired him very much. So it was
quite natural that when this great assembly was held in the
territory of the tribe of Ephraim, Jeroboam should be brought
back to be the spokesman. And I am surprised in view of the
prophecy made by Ahijah that the tribes were so temperate in
that public meeting.
The proposition of the tribes to Rehoboam was as follows:
„If you will lighten somewhat the burdens put on us by your
father, we will serve you and will ratify your divine nomina_
tion as king.” They had a real grievance; Solomon had im_
posed onerous taxes for the purpose of luxury) vainglory, and
to pamper his heathen wives. It was a very just grievance;
and they proposed only that the burden be lightened somewhat.
Now, we may not expect a popular assembly to consent to
being governed by a man who disregards their interests. Reho_
boam said, „I will take it under advisement three days.” That
was a very wise thing to do. So he utilized the three days in
seeking advice. First, he applied to the old men, the counsel_
lors of his father. That also was a thoughtful thing to do. Ac_
tion belongs to young men, but counsel belongs to old men; old
men have more experience, and they are not apt to think that
they have the world in a sling as young men are wont to do.
The parallel texts show a verbal difference in the counsel of
the old men. I Kings 12:7 says, „If thou wilt be a servant unto
this people this day, and will serve them, and speak good
words to them, then they will be thy servants forever.” That
is, the old men counseled reciprocal service; the king must
serve the people if he wants the people to serve him. Now the
idea of serving does not appear in the Chronicles’ account, but
the „good words” does; about the serving 2 Chronicles 10:7
says, „If thou be kind unto these people, and please them, and
speak good words – then they will be thy servants,” but I
stand upon what is said in Kings. No man need expect to be a
ruler of a free people in a tyrannical sense; he is not there for
his own good: he is there to serve the people, and whether he
be a policeman, a constable, a judge, a legislator, a governor,
or president, if he does not render equitable service to the peo_
ple, he is not entitled to the respect of the people. That goes
with all offices; that is the principle, and those were wise old
men who gave that advice.
Now, if he had said to those people, „It is evident that these
burdens on you are too heavy, and that the kingdom is not car_
ried on sufficiently in your interest, and you have as much
right to the protection of the king as he has to expect your co_
operation,” the matter would have been ended. But Rehoboam,
raised up in that cosmopolitan, luxurious court of his father,
in which the very air of the foreigner was breathed, and im_
bued with the ideas of Oriental despotism absorbed even in his
youth, turned away from these old men and went to the young
courtiers, the young fellows brought up with him, and said,
„What do you say that I should reply to this popular assem_
bly?” If ever on earth the folly of youth appears, it is in the
suggestion of these young men. They looked on a king as a
despot, as absolutely owning the people under him. Their
counsel virtually was this: „Do not commence your reign with
compromise and weak conciliation. Be a master. Speak rough_
ly. Tell them plainly you will add to, instead of lightening,
their yokes; that your little finger will be heavier than your
father’s loins, and whereas he chastized them with whips you
will chastize them with scorpions.”
What is the meaning of „chastize with scorpions”? There
were two kinds of whipping: one with scourges, generally made
with twisted leather or rods. The other was a stiff handle with
ten or twelve leather thongs attached to it, pointed with pieces
of wire crooked like fish hooks at the end of each piece of
leather, like the „cat_o’_nine_tails” in the navy, or the Russian
Knout. To strip a man and bring that iron_pointed whiplash
down on his naked back, every stroke would cut into his flesh
in ten or twelve places. That is whipping with a scorpion.
The reply of the ten tribes when that scorpion whip was held
up was the very war cry of Sheba’s rebellion: „What portion
have we in David? Neither have we inheritance in the son of
Jesse: to your tents 0 Israel: now see to thine own house,
David.” Well, that is a very natural response. Any popular
assembly would have responded like that. Patrick Henry said
that the colonies had exhausted every method of seeking re_
dress of grievances; that they had prostrated themselves at the
foot of the throne; that they had tried petition and argument,
and in response to their petitions they had been spurned from
the foot of the throne; instead of favors, fleets and armies had
been sent to darken the waters and overshadow the land. What
was their reply to a tyrannical throne? It was an appeal to
arms from New England to Georgia. So Israel departed to
their own tents.
The first attempt to enforce union was when Rehoboam sent
his deputy, Hadoram, to go right on and collect the tribute,
and when this collector came to enforce collections, they sim_
ply stoned him to death; that was their reply. The second at_
tempt was when Rehoboam assembled an army of 180,000 men
– like England assembled her armies – but before the battle
commenced God’s prophet, Shemaiah, came and forbade this
war against their brethren, and announced that this division
was of the Lord; that he overruled it. Thus the voice of God
prevented an attempt to coerce a union.
The revolting ten tribes were Ephraim, Manasseh, Reuben,
Gad, Dan, Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Benjamin.
Now doubtless some one will come back at me with the ques_
tion: How is that? Benjamin was a part of the army Reho_
boam raised. Yes, part of Benjamin was living in Judean
cities – a small part of the tribe lived in Jerusalem – but the
bulk of the tribe of Benjamin went with the ten tribes. Now
there is Judah on one side and those ten tribes on the other
side; that makes eleven tribes. Where is the twelfth tribe,
Simeon? My answer is that his territory was inside of the ter_
ritory of Judah, and when we say Judah we mean Judah and
Simeon. How, then, does the division go? On one side is Judah
including Simeon and a part of Benjamin, the city of Jerusa_
lem and five miles around it to the north, including such of
the ten tribes as dwelt in the territory of Judah. They came
down to the Temple service, and finding it convenient, made
their homes there. The record says in 2 Chronicles 10:17, „But
as for the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah,
Rehoboam reigned over them.” So there were two tribes and
certain parts of tribes in Judah.
Now, that still does not account for one tribe. There were
originally thirteen tribes, but God took the tribe of Levi to
himself and made up the original number of twelve tribes
by giving Joseph two tribes – Ephraim and Manasseh. What
about the tribe of Levi? My answer is that the tribe of Levi
was distributed in the Levitical cities all over the whole terri_
tory. That was God’s tribe, and we will learn in the next chap_
ter that the Levites went with the tribe of Judah, solid. In_
deed we learn a remarkable piece of Judaiac history in the
next chapter with reference to these Levitical cities. When
Jeroboam established his government and worship and created
a priesthood out of the common people – anybody – the Levites
who were distributed in all the cities all over the country,
abandoned the ten tribes and sided with Judah forever. So
now we have Judah, Levi, Simeon, a part of Benjamin and a
resident part of the population of Israel living in Judah. In
the following history we will see large secessions from Israel
to Judah.
The ten tribes got all of that big territory east of the river
Jordan, including Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Man_
asseh; then they got from the northern point of the Dead
Sea straight across the Mediterranean Sea, allowing Judah
about five miles north of Jerusalem. Even Jericho fell to the
ten tribes. There remained to Judah a little bit of a county
affair; it was only five miles from Jerusalem to the northern
line, and only about twenty miles in any other direction
that they were enabled to hold. Rehoboam’s circuit of fifteen
fortified cities really delimited on the south and west. Most
of the schools of the prophets were in the Northern Kingdom.
But all through this history we will see that there is a steady
stream of the ten tribes coming back to Judah. That is one
of the things that Chronicles particularly notices.
The period of the divided kingdom was about 253 years.
Only one dynasty reigned in Judah, the line of David; there
were never any changes. There were nine dynasties in Israel.
The ten tribes were always changing. They commenced with
Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and his son, and then all his
family was killed. The second was Baasha and his son, Elah,
and they were all killed; third, Zimri, and he was killed;
fourth, Omri; there were two claimants, a man named Tibni
contested with Omri. Omri had three successors in his fam_
ily, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram. The fifth dynasty was Jehu.
He killed every man, woman, and child that belonged to the
family of Omri. Jehu had the longest dynasty of any of the
northern kings: Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II and
Zechariah. The sixth dynasty was Shallum. He held the fort
but one month. The seventh dynasty was Manahem and his
son Pekahiah, succeeded him. The eighth dynasty was Pekah:
he was killed. The ninth dynasty, and the last, was Soshea,
and he was led away into captivity. Note the great differ_
ence: there was no settled government of the ten tribes
throughout the period of all the 253 years, and not a good
king. There were only three dynasties of the Northern King_
dom which were history makers: the dynasties of Jeroboam I,
Omri, and Jehu. We will have a great deal to do with those
three dynasties.
Certain prophets are named, some of whom wrote canonical
books of the Bible. In the Northern Kingdom the following
prophets are named: Ahijah, Jehu, Elijah, Micaiah, Elisha,
Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Oded. Three of them wrote Bible books:
Jonah, Amos, and Hosea. Some of the prophets north and
south are unnamed. The prophets of the Southern Kingdom
before the fall of Israel, who are named, were Shemaiah, Iddo,
Azariah, Hanani, Jehu, Jahaziel, Eliezer, Obadiah, Joel, Zech_
ariah (not the postexilian prophet), Isaiah, and Micah. Of
these four wrote canonical books: Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah,
Micah. In Israel where were the schools of the prophets they
far exceeded by the hundreds. In both kingdoms they were
the very life of the nation. They were the historians, poets,
orators, reformers – the very voice of God to the conscience
of king and people.
The difference in the attitude of the prophets in the two
kingdoms toward the kings is very marked. In the Northern
Kingdom every prophet was against the kings, except one –
and he only a part of the time. The Northern Kingdom was
always against God, and the prophets were always for God,
and we see a fight between the prophets and the kings. Now,
in the Southern Kingdom, four_fifths of the time the prophets
and the kings worked together. That is a remarkable dif_
ference. The one notable exception in the Northern King_
dom was Elisha. Of the prophets named Jonah was a foreign
missionary. Here the question of the ten tribes comes up.
Were the ten tribes lost and what is the proof? I say the
proof is found in the secessions from Israel to Judah and the
later references to the several tribes. Hosea and Amos of
the Northern Kingdom foretold the recovery of the ten tribes.
See Hosea 1:10_11; 3:4_5; Amos 9:7_15.
One comment closes the record of most of the northern
kings: „And he walked in the sin of Jeroboam, the son of
Nebat, which he caused Israel to sin.” We will find a sin
bigger than the sin of Jeroboam after a while in the Northern
Judah had great advantages. First, it had the Temple and
its services and its feasts. Second, it had the priests and
Levites, we may say, the teachers; they were the great schol_
ars. Third, it had the undying promise of God that the line
of David should never fail.

1. What one man was most to blame for the division of the Kingdom?
2. What was the overruling cause?
3. How was this announced to Solomon?
4. How was God’s purpose announced to Jeroboam, and what condi_
tions thus stated?
5. In pursuance of this overruling of God, what enemy did he raise
up from the south against Solomon and what of his history?
6. What enemy was raised up from the north by the Lord?
7. What nation arose from this northern enemy?
8. What was the immediate occasion of the division?
9. What law of selecting kings?
10. What proof that this was the law of selecting kings?
11. Who was the spokesman of the ten tribes in this popular assembly
and what his special qualifications for this duty?
12. What proposition of the ten tribes to Rehoboam, what his immedi_
ate answer and what the wisdom of such a course?
13. What counsel of the old men and what its merits?
14. How did Rehoboam regard this counsel and what course did he
15. What is meant by „chastize with scorpions”?
16. What was the reply of the ten tribes to the threat of chastisement
with scorpions and what example in modern history?
17. What was Rehoboam’s first attempt to enforce union and what was
the result?
18. What was his second attempt and what its result?
19. What the revolting tribes and of what did Judah consist? Explain
20. What were the geographical limits of the two divisions?
21. To which side were adherents always coming from the other side?
22. How long the period of the divided kingdom?
23. How many and what dynasties in Judah?
24. How many and what dynasties in Israel?
25. What three dynasties of Israel were history makers?
26. What prophets are named in each kingdom and who of them wrote
canonical books of the Bible?
27. What difference in the attitude of the prophets in the two king_
doms towards the kings?
28. What one notable exception in the Northern Kingdom?
29. Which of the prophets named was a foreign missionary?
30. Were the ten tribes lost and what the line of argument?
31. What prophets of the Northern Kingdom foretold the recovery of
the ten tribes and what the passages?
32. What one comment closes the record of most of the northern kings?
33. What great advantages had Judah?

I Kings 12:25 to 15:8; 2 Chronicles 11:5 to 13:22

The theme of this section is the beginnings of the two rival kingdoms, or the measures adopted by the rival kings to establish their respective kingdoms. This is a period of twenty_four years and covers the reigns of Jeroboam and his son Nadab) kings of Israel, and of Rehoboam and his son Abijah, kings of Judah.
The initial measure adopted by Jeroboam to establish his
kingdom was as follows: First, he built a city at Shechem,
where the great popular assembly was held, and which was
and had been since Jacob’s time, a holy place. That, he made
his capital. Second, as a large part of his territory, including
two and a half tribes, was across the Jordan, he built another
city and fortified it at Penuel, so as to command the fords
of the Jordan, and this secured his kingdom on both sides of
this river. Third, he established his residence at Tirzah, first
mentioned in the book of Joshua, and in Solomon’s Song we
have the expression: „As beautiful as Tirzah.” It was also
in the hill country of Ephraim, and it was a beautiful moun_
tain palace.
The initial measure of Rehoboam was to fortify and supply with provisions, garrisons, and munitions of war, fifteen cities on the southern and western frontiers, for a defense mainly against Egypt. A new dynasty had come to the front in
Egypt. Shishak was a very formidable and vigorous oppo_
nent, not to be compared with the weak dynasty with which
Solomon made an alliance by marriage. This Shishak was
really a great man. Egypt was the power that Rehoboam
and Judah feared.

Other measures of Jeroboam were political expedients in,
order to keep the ten tribes from going to Jerusalem to the
great feasts. He saw what had been the great power of Jeru_
salem and its Temple and worship as a unifying force, and
he said to himself, „If my people go every year to Jerusalem
they will imbibe its spirit, and the result will be that they
will ultimately turn back to Rehoboam the king of Judahä
and will kill me. Now, how am I to stop this annual pil_
grimage of my people to Jerusalem?” And these were the_
expedients that he devised: First, he established calf worship.
He had two molten calves put up, viz: one at Dan, in the_
extreme upper part of his territory and one at Bethel, the
place where Jacob was converted and a holy place. It will
be remembered that when the tribe of Dan left the territory
allotted to them, they migrated to the very northern part of
the country, captured the places there, and worshiped the
images they had taken there from Micah. There had been,
then, ever since the times of the judges, a place of worship at
Dan, but it was an image worship.
Second, he established a new order of priesthood. He re_
fused to permit the Levites and their priests, left in the cities_
in his territory, to minister for him; he was afraid of them.
And so he created a new order of priesthood by taking any
man from any tribe that pleased him and making him a priest.
Third, he made a new feast to take the place of the Feast
of Tabernacles. That feast the Jews generally attended, and
millions would go every year, and they would dwell in tents.
Now, he determined to have a feast to take the place of the
Feast of Tabernacles, and as the season of the year was later
in the northern part of the country, he made his feast just
one month later than that of Tabernacles, as the record tells
us: „He ordained a feast devised in his own heart.” The
Feast of Tabernacles was on the fifteenth day of the seventh
month, and he put his feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth
month, just a month later.
Fourth, he established high places for worship of wooden
images. In the book of Judges we learn how Gideon cut down
the groves, that is, the forest of images. However, Jeroboam
established what is called in the Revised Version, „he_goat
worship.” What is meant by it? Among the Greeks it was
the worship of Pan. Pan is an image with a man’s face and
the form of a goat; these he_goats are sometimes called satyrs.
These are heathen minor deities, and allusion is made to them
in the book of Leviticus. They are sometimes called devils,
and that is what they really were, i. e., demons: it was a kind
of demon worship. Now, for his priesthood he made houses
at Dan and at Bethel, and in all of these high places, and
there this he_goat, or demon worship, was carried on. These
were his political expedients.
The calf worship that he established was a mixture of calf
and Jehovah worship. When Moses stayed up in the moun_
tain so long, the people asked Aaron to mold a calf for them
to worship, as a symbol of Jehovah. It was not an entire
abandonment of Jehovah worship, but it was the worship of
Jehovah under the symbol of a calf, and they said of that
calf that Aaron made, „Behold the god that brought you up
out of the land of Egypt.” That was an express violation of
the commandment, „Thou shalt not make unto thee any
graven or molten image, in the likeness of anything in the
heaven above or the earth beneath, and bow down and wor_
ship before it.”
This fundamental innovation in religion weakened his king_
dom and strengthened Judah. Now, 2 Chronicles 11:16_17
tells us as follows: „And after them, out of all the tribes of
Israel, such as set their hearts to seek the Lord, the God of
Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto the Lord, the God
of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah,
and made Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, strong, three years:
for they walked three years in the way of David and Solo_
The priests and the Levites were the teaching forces, as well
as the guides in religion. When they banish religious teachers
from a kingdom, or expatriate its best men, they do a great
harm to that kingdom; they take away those who have the
power to keep up the religious idea. That was a tremendous
loss to the nation of Israel. These were laymen, too, the best
people of the land. As I have already said, one of the pe_
culiarities of the book of Chronicles is to record every seces_
sion from Israel back to Judah, and we will come to many a
one before we get through, and thus we will see that a rem_
nant of the ten tribes was saved.
Now, it weakened Jeroboam in the following ways: It com_
pletely separated his people from God; second, it perpetuated
a sin for 253 years that readily ate out the heart of the religious nature of the people and caused their ultimate downfall. Two passages of Scripture show how far_reaching the effect of this sin was. I Kings 14, commencing at v. 15 reads as follows: „The Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers. . . . And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he hath sinned, and wherewith he has made Israel to sin.” Now, when we come to the end of the period of the divided kingdom, we will find the other passage, 2 Kings 17:21_23. This passage accounts for the downfall of the ten tribes. Commencing at v. 21: „For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam, the son of Nabat king: and Jeroboam Israel from following the Lord, and
made them sin a great sin. And the children of Israel walked
in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not
from them; until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight. . . .
So Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria,
unto this day.” Now, we cannot overemphasize the magnitude
of a sin that destroys a nation, and I do not know any sin
but the sin of Adam more far_reaching in its consequences
than the sin of Jeroboam.
How often at the end of a reign of an Israelitish king does
this refrain come: „He did that which was evil in the sight
of Jehovah, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his
sin wherewith he made Israel to sin”? We may say that this
was the inscription on the tomb of every Israelitish kingù
not one of them a good man. I used to say that sin is like
Bermuda grass, indestructible, and that no man can commit
a single sin; that it is a great breederùit makes other sins.
I have used this illustration: A hunter may think that he sees
just one quail, but when he flushes him there is always a
pair or a covey. And I have used this passage from Long_
fellow’s „Hiawatha” to show the multiplying power of sin:
Never swoops the soaring vulture
Oil his quarry in the desert, on some
Sick or wounded bison, but another vulture watching
From his high aerial lockout
Sees the downward plunge and follows.
And a third pursues the second;
Coming from the invisible ether, first a speck,
And then a vulture, till the air is dark with pinions. All have witnessed the way in which buzzards flock to a car-cass. From these illustrations we get some conception of this multiplying power of sin. And I repeat that aside from the sin of Adam, no sin described in the Bible as I can now recall, has such a long fearful sweep as the sin of Jeroboam. Jehovah announced his displeasure by sending a man out of Judah, a man of Godùit does not give his name – and he came to Bethel on the day that the worship of the calf was to commence, and came into the presence of Jeroboam who was about to officiate as high priest and used these words (what solemn words they are): „Oh, Altar, Altar, Thus saith the Lord: Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall they burn upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken: Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.” How long before that was
fulfilled? We have to turn forward to the reign of Josiah to
find an exact fulfilment of it.
Let us see how Jeroboam received this announcement of
the prophet of God. In I Kings 13:4 we have these words:
„And it came to pass, when the king heard the saying of the
man of God, which he cried against the altar at Beth_el, that
Jeroboam put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay
hold on him.” And his hand which he put forth toward the
prophet became rigid (he could not move it) and it dried up.
There he stood with that dried up, shriveled arm. He then
begged the prophet to pray for him, and the prophet prayed
for him and the hand was healed.
The tragic end of the nameless prophet was as follows:
Jeroboam asked this prophet to be his guest. He declined
because God had told him not to go into anybody’s house,
and not to tarry in that place, but to come straight back when
he had delivered his message. The prophet refused to accept
the invitation of Jeroboam. But there was an old man in
Bethel, who was himself a prophetùthere were schools of
the prophets established over the land. Now, this prophet
heard of the miracles performed by the prophet from Judah
and sent after the man of God, urging him to come back and
take bread with him. The nameless prophet said, „I have
been commanded not to do that.” The other said, „I also
am a prophet, and bid you to come back,” and he went back,
and then came the warning to him that he should die. On
leaving the house a lion met him and smote him from the
ass upon which he was riding and killed him. The lion did
not eat him – he was not mangled – but the people found his
dead body there.
I shall never forget that when I was a little bit of a child
this was the Sunday school lesson, „The Fate of the Dis_
obedient Prophet.” There was a picture of it in the Sunday
school book. The old prophet that lived there at Bethel took
him and buried him in a secret place, that his bones should
not fall under the denunciation he had himself given. The
old prophet said to his children, „When I die, bury me by
the side of this man of God; I do not want my bones taken
up and burned on that altar.”
Jeroboam did not relent in his purpose on the announce_
ment of this prophecy and its marvelous sign, for that very
day the altar split wide open and the ashes fell out; and then
there was the miracle of staying his hand, but he did not
repent and give up his evil purpose. The record says, „After
this thing Jeroboam returned not away from his evil ways,
but made again from among all the people priests of the high
places; whosoever would, he consecrated him that there might
be priests of the high places. And this thing became a sin
unto the house of Jeroboam,” and he destroyed it off the face
of the earth. So this sin not only destroyed the people ulti_
mately, but it destroyed him and all of his house. His policy
in the main accompanied his object. The record tells us that
the people, the main body of them, quit going to Jerusalem,
but joined in this idolatrous worship that Jeroboam had pre_
scribed. The effect on Jeroboam himself was destructive. The
record says that the Lord smote him and all of his house
perished – not a man, woman, or child was left. This is voiced
by Jehovah himself, and the occasion of it was that his son
was sick, and he told his wife to go to the prophet, Ahijah,
who had announced to him that he would get ten tribes in the
division of the kingdom. He told his wife to disguise herself,
and take presents with her, and go and ask that prophet that
the child might live. But the Spirit of God informed the
prophet of the disguise before the woman got there, and he met
her with this terrible announcement: „And it was so, when
Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, – he said, Come in, thou
wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another?
for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings. Go, tell Jeroboam,
that because of this evil I will cut off every man child, him
that is shut up and him that is left out, and I will utterly sweep
away the house of Jeroboam, as a man sweepest away refuse,
and him that dieth in the city shall the dogs eat, and him that
dieth in the fields shall the fowls eat. The Lord hath spoken.
Rise and get thee to thine own house, and when thy feet enter
into the city the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn
for him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family shall come to the
grave.” He is the only one of the family that shall ever re_
ceive burial. And then he goes on to say that this sin would
destroy the entire nation. This is one of the most solemn ut_
terances in the Bible.
The next measure adopted by Jeroboam to establish him_
self was an alliance with Shishak. It will be remembered that
he fled to Egypt in the days of Solomon, and married into the
family of this very Shishak. He made an alliance with Shishak
to invade Judah, of which we will speak presently. Jeroboam
himself reigned twenty_two years; his son reigned after him
two years; his dynasty, therefore, lasted twenty_four years.
Rehoboam and his son Abijah, and his son Asa, came to
the throne before Jeroboam died. The attitude of the two king_
doms toward each other was war continually, all the days of
Jeroboam’s life and the life of his son. But Rehoboam prospered
three years – just as long as the people remained faithful unto
God. His sin and the sin of his people we find in I Kings 14:22_
24, and some of it is awful. Let us look at it: „And Judah did
that which was evil in the sight of the Lord;… For they also
built them high places on every high hill and under every
green tree; and there were also Sodomites in the land: they
did according to all the abominations of the nations which the
Lord drove out before the children of Israel.”
This sin was punished. The record tells us that Shishak, the
king of Egypt, invaded the land with a vast army, with much
cavalry and many chariots of war. He easily broke through
those fifteen cities of defense and came up to Jerusalem, and
as his armies surrounded Jerusalem Rehoboam and all the peo_
pie prayed to God and repented of their sins. Mark this dif_
ference between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. And God delivered
them out of the hand of the Egyptians. But Shishak carried
away all of those rich treasures that had been gathered by
Solomon; the golden shields he took away with him, and made
the land tributary to Egypt.
Archeology throws some light on this invasion of Shishak.
Not a great while ago, in uncovering the ruins of the temple of
Karnak on the Nile, there was found the inscription of Shishak
on his return from this invasion. It shows what cities he cap_
tured, and how he had taken away the treasures from Jerusa_
lem. But the important light that it throws on the period is
this: Among the cities captured it gives the names of the
Levitical cities in Israel. He did not destroy any of the cities
of Jeroboam, but all the Levitical or Canaanite cities that re_
mained faithful to Judah he captured. That is shown in the
inscriptions – such of them as are discernible. Is it not strange
that after thousands of years the spade keeps turning up proof
of the truth of the Bible? When archeology first commenced
the radical critics said that it would destroy the Bible. In_
scriptions on monuments, deep carvings in rock that the dust
of centuries has settled upon, are brought to light and demon_
strate that this book does not deal in lies. We need to fear
nothing as having the power to destroy the testimony of this
The length of Rehoboam’s reign was seventeen years; that
of his son was three years. The great event in Abijah’s reign
was the war with Jeroboam. He raised an army of 4,000,000
men and went into Ephraim and met Jeroboam with 8,000,000
men, and Jeroboam divided his forces into two parts, to take
them on two sides. But before the battle commenced there was
a prelude that to me has always been interesting. We find it in
2 Chronicles 13:4_12, as follows: „And Abijah stood up upon
Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and
said, Hear me, 0 Jeroboam and all Israel; ought ye not to
know that Jehovah the God of Israel, gave the kingdom over
Israel to David forever, even to him and his sons by a covenant
of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solo_
mon the son of David, rose up, and rebelled against his Lord.
And there were gathered unto him worthless men, base fellows,
that strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of
Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and
could not withstand them. And now ye think to withstand the
kingdom of Jehovah in the land of the sons of David; and ye
are a great multitude) and there are with you the golden calves
which Jeroboam made you for gods. Have ye not driven out
the priests of Jehovah, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and
have made you priests after the manner of the people of other
lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a
young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of
them that are no gods. But as for us, Jehovah is our God, and
we have not forsaken him; and we have priests ministering unto
Jehovah, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites in their work; and
they burn unto the Lord every morning and every evening
burnt offerings and sweet incense: the shewbread also they set
in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with
the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the
charge of Jehovah our God; but ye have forsaken him. And,
behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with the
trumpets of alarm to sound an alarm against you. 0 children
of Israel, fight ye not against Jehovah, the God of your fathers;
for ye shall not prosper.”
That was a very hard message, and in the battle which fol_
lowed Abijah’s army killed more Israelites than there were in
his own army – he had only 40,000 men and he killed half a
million. The effect of this battle was terrific. The record tells
us that Jeroboam never recovered from that battle. But Abijah
was a very strong man, yet not as faithful to Jehovah as he
boasts to Jeroboam.
The state of affairs at the end of the twenty_four years was

as follows: Jeroboam was dead, smitten of God; his son, after
an inglorious reign of two years, was murdered by Baasha, and
only one of the family of Jeroboam ever received burial; Baa_
sha killed every one of them that was alive. Now, in the other
kingdom, Asa, one of the greatest of the kings of Judah, had
come to the throne, and that is the way they stand at the end
of the twenty_four years.
1. What was the time period of this chapter, who were the kings of
Israel and Judah and the time each reigned respectively?
2. What were the initial measures adopted by Jeroboam to establsh his kingdom?
3. What was the initial measure of Rehoboam and why this particular measure?
4. What other measures, or political expedients, adopted by Jeroboam?
5. What was the calf worship which he established?
6. What was the effect of this fundamental innovation and how do
you account for it?
7. What was the sad refrain at the end of the reign of each of the
Israelitish kings? Illustrate.
8. How did Jehovah show his displeasure and what was the fulfilment
of the prophecy of the „nameless prophet”?
9. How did Jeroboam receive the message and what the result?
10. Relate the tragic story of the nameless prophet.
11. What was the effect of this great demonstration on Jeroboam?
12. Did his policy in the main accomplish his object?
13. What was the effect on Jeroboam himself?
14. How was this voiced by Jehovah and what the occasion of it?
15. What was the next measure adopted by Jeroboam to establish himself?
16. How long did Jeroboam reign, how many kings of Judah during
his reign, how long his dynasty and what its end?
17. What was the attitude of the two kingdoms toward each other?
18. How long did Rehoboam prosper?
19. What was his sin and the sin of his people?
20. How was this sin punished?
21. What light does archeology throw on the invasion of Shishak?
22. What was the length of Rehoboam’s reign, how long his son’s
reign and what great event of Abijah’s reign?
23. What was the effect of the battle between Abijah and Jeroboam?
24. What were the characteristics of Abijah?
25. What was the state of affairs in each kingdom, respectively, at the
end of twenty-four years?

I Kings 15:9_22; 2 Chronicles 14:1 to 16:14

In the introductory chapter I mentioned certain helpful
books. Three of them I rename as very helpful on this lesson:
Hengenstenberg’s „Kingdom of God in the Old Testament,”
Vol. II; Geikie’s „Hours with the Bible,” Vol. IV; Edersheim’s
„History of Israel,” Vol. V. On this section we need not look at
Josephus. He has something to say about it, but it is worth
very little. My advice is to master thoroughly 2 Chronicles 14_
16; the Chronicles record is far better than the record in Kings.
The time period of Asa’s reign is 955 B.C. to 914, forty_one
years, and the contemporaneous kings of Israel, and the dynas_
ties are as follows: Jeroboam and his son Nadab, first dynasty;
Baasha and his son Elah, second dynasty; Zimri, third dynasty
ùhe reigned just a week; Omri and his son Ahab, fourth dy_
nasty. For a while there was a contestant against Omri, Tibni
by name, but this contest lasted only three years.
The general character of Asa is: „And Asa did that which
was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father”
(meaning his forefather). So we have a long and good reign,
and it is a wonder that, while about half the kings of Judah
were bad kings, the reign of the good men extended 200 years
of the 253; so, that at least four to one, in time, Judah was gov_
erned by good men.
A great blessing marked the beginning of his reign. The
record tells us that there were ten years of peace, resulting
mainly from the great victory of his father, Abijah, gained over
Jeroboam the son of Nebat. It is a great blessing when we have
a peaceful opportunity to set in order a church or a nation, or
to prepare for a great enterprise wisely.

This peace interval was graciously employed as follows:
First, he put down idolatry in all its forms throughout his king_
dom. Second, he fortified many cities, and the record tells us
that he made Jehovah his chief defense. Well does that psalm
say, „He laboreth in vain to build a house except the Lord
build the house; and they watch in vain to keep a city except
the Lord keep the city.” Third, he raised and disciplined an
army consisting of 300,000 spearmen of the tribe of Judah, that
is, they had long lances and heavy targets; a target is simply a
big shield. Also he had 280,000 slingers and archers. These had
a little shield, and carried bows and slings. They were of the
tribe of Benjamin. That certainly shows that by this time the
bulk of the tribe of Benjamin was standing with Judah. The
Benjaminites were left_handed and were great archers and
slingers. At one place back of us in the history we learned that
they could sling stones a great distance with great accuracy.
David was an adept with the sling himself. That is a big con_
tingent from Benjamin, 280,000.
The second great event of his reign was the great victory
over Zerah, the Ethiopian, who invaded Judah with a million
men and three hundred chariots of war. The battle was fought
at Maresha, a place between Hebron, a southern Jewish town,
and Ashdod, an old Philistine town in the south.
Some say that this great number, a million men, is not credi_
ble, but we must remember that in those days, when war was
made, the whole available male population went into the army
ùlike Indian tribes – and later we learn that Xerxes led three
million men against the Greeks though by measurement, not
count, only 1,800,000 of them were soldiers. And we learn still
later in the interbiblical period, that the last Darius, king of
Persia, at the battle of Arbela, had 1,400,000 men.
The record says, „Zerah the Ethiopian.” The word in the
Hebrew is „Cushite.” We get „Ethiopian” in our text from the
Septuagint Version. The Greeks called the Cushites „Ethops,”
which meant “browned black in the sun.” But where were the C
ushites? In the northern part of Arabia, from which place
they crossed the narrow intervening sea to Africa, and estab_
lished themselves in what is now called upper Egypt – the Nile
runs north toward the Mediterranean Sea; then upper Egypt
would be southern Egypt. I Kings 16:8 tells us that there were
Lybians in the army, as well as Ethiopians, and we know that
Lybia in Africa is on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, west
of the mouth of the Nile. Quite a number of my commentaries
say that Zerah was the same as Ozorchon, the son of Shishak.
But that is not quite clear to my mnid. I do know from one of
my histories that about 944 B.C., the Cushites, when they
crossed over the intervening seas, invaded Egypt, and then
passed back into Asia. We will have to leave it that way.
Asa’s appeal to Jehovah when he saw this great host, and
how God responded to him are found in 2 Chronicles 14:11:
„And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, there is
none to help beside thee . . . 0 Lord our God; for we rely on
thee, and in thy name are we come out against this multitude.
0 Lord, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee.” I
gave that to a professor of homiletics once and asked him to
analyze it as he would a sermon, and he said that I put the
question to him only to give me an opportunity to tell him how
to do it. Well, now, let’s analyze that: „There is none beside
God who can help the weak against the mighty”ùthat is a fine
start for a prayer, the announcement of a great doctrine. „We
rely upon thee”ùthat is faith. „And in thy name we come out
against this multitude”ùthat identifies the people’s case with
God himself. „Therefore, Lord, let no man prevail against
thee.” It was a fine prayer, and the response was that the Lord
smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the
Ethiopians fled.
There were mighty results of this victory. The record says
that there fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not
recover themselves, for they were destroyed before the Lord,
and before his hosts; or as the margin puts it, „so that none
remained alive.” That must have been a terrific slaughter.
The second result was that they carried away very much booty.
Of course, the arms would be gathered up, the jewels and the
camp equipage, and the munitions of war. Notice that these
Egyptians fled toward Egypt, by the lower road toward Gerar;
and so they smote all the cities about Gerar; and the fear of
the Lord came upon them) and they spoiled all the cities, and
they carried away sheep in abundance and camels.
Verse 15 says, „They smote also the tents of the cattle.”
Now, what does that mean? It means that following such an
army were herds of cattle for feeding the army, and the „tents”
would be the shelters of the herdsmen. To smite the tents of
the cattle is to smite the herdsmen that drove the cattle. Stone_
wall Jackson, in one of his hungry days, when his men were
half_starved, having heard that Banks was coming with im_
mense supply trains and herds of cattle, said, „This army can
whip any army that has a herd of cattle along.”
The warning of the prophet Azariah, who went to meet Asa
returning from that great battle, we find in 2 Chronicles 15:1_7.
The time we need to be most watchful is in the moment of a
great victory. When the times are hard, when we are pressed
to the wall, we are apt to be humble and look to God; but
when it looks like everything is going our way, the danger is
that we will be puffed up. Now the prophet of God met that
army coming, with all those spoils and said, „Hear me, Asa,
and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you while you
be with him; if ye seek him he will be found of you; if ye for_
sake him he will forsake you.” What a warning, that! „God
is with you while you are with God; but if you turn away from
God, he will turn away from you.” Notice verse 3 of that
warning: „Now for long seasons Israel was without the true
God, and without a teaching priest and without law. But when
in their distress, they turned unto the Lord, the God of Israel,
and sought him, he was found of them. And in those days there
was no peace to him that went out: nor to him that came in.
but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the land.
And they were broken in pieces, nation against nation, city
against city; for God did vex them with all adversity.” .Here
I raise this question: Is that a prophecy of future events, or is
it a historical retrospect quoted to enforce the text, „If you
are with God, he is with you, if you forsake him, he will forsake
you”? It may surprise the reader that some commentaries con_
strue it as prophecy: „For a long time Israel will be without the
true God.” Henstenberg, one of my favorites, takes that posi_
tionùbut he is mistaken, I think: the tense forbids it. The
prophet is enforcing his exhortation by the past history of the
people, well known to those whom he addressed. Then I raise
another question: If a retrospect, what events of the past verify
it? My answer is that if we look to the period of the judges
alone we may find every particular verified. Deborah says that
before she came to the front the highways were not travelled;
they were not safe; that the people were scattered; and in the
time of Samson it is said that the Israelite was not only not
allowed to have arms, but he must go to a Philistine to get per_
mission to sharpen his ax or goad, on his grindstone, and that
tribe was against tribe. There is abundant historical verifica_
tion, looking at it as a retrospect. We are in a bad fix when we
have to go to the enemies of religion to get a grindstone to
sharpen our ax. One of Israel’s later prophets foretells a similar
condition. It is in the prophecy of Hosea. (See Hosea 4:1_5).
There is a remarkable date in 2 Chronicles 15:19 and 16:1,
when compared with I Kings 16:8: „And there was no more
war unto the fifth and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.” Now
we know that another war comes before that date, so what
about this date? I give you my method of reconciling the dif_
ficulty: the word „reign” in this passage should be translated
„kingdom” (which is a good translation)ù”And there was no
more war unto the fifth and thirtieth year of the kingdom of
Asa.” That means from Rehoboam’s time, and that exactly
corresponds with the facts, as may be demonstrated, because

the very next war we are going to tell about occurred before the
thirty_fifth year of Asa’s reignùand the man who conducted
the war was dead before we get to the thirty_fifth year of Asa,
and the cause of the war is an event of this section.
Azariah’s prophecy is attributed to Oded, in I Chronicles
15:8, thus: „And when Asa heard these words of the prophecy
of Oded the prophet.” Above he is called Azariah, the son of
Oded. My solution of this difficulty is that the father, himself a
prophet, may have sent a son to deliver the prophecy.
Now let us look at the elements of the second great reforma_
tion under Asa: „And he put away the Sodomites out of the
land; he took courage and put away all the abominations out
of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities
which he had taken from the hill country of Ephraim [his
father had captured them in the war with Jeroboam]; and he
renewed the altar of the Lord which was before the porch of
the Lord. And he brought into the house of God the things that
his father had dedicated and he himself had dedicated, silver
and gold and vessels. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin,
and them that sojourned with them out of Ephraim and Manas_
seh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in
abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
So they gathered themselves together in Jerusalem in the third
month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.” And there was
a great convocation including multitudes from Israel, and the
record says that the object of that great convocation was to
renew the covenant with God, and solemnly take oath that they
would not only seek Jehovah alone, but would put to death him
that suggested the worship of a false god. His grandmother, the queen regent, Maacah, th granddaughter of Absalom, had been the occasion of this idolatry, and had herself set up idols. He not only destroyed the idols of his grandmother, but he removed her from her position as queen regent in the realm.He burnt the idol that she worshiped, and poured out the ashes into the brook Kidron. This is a great reformation, and the result is expressed thus: „And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting and with trumpets, and all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought him with their whole desire, and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.” It is a sol_
emn thing when one assembles a_great convocation, and submits to the people the true worship of God, and induces them to enter into a covenant before God to follow him, and to turn aside from idols. Whenever anyone does that in any com_
munity, whenever he brings about such a result as that, already
he has become one of earth’s great reformers.
Now let us take up the occasion and reason of the war of
Baasha, king of Israel, against Asa and the step taken in view
of this reason, thus: „And Baasha, King of Israel, went up
against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any_
one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.” We have just
learned the fact which disturbed Baasha: „For they fell to Asa
out of Israel in abundance, when they saw the Lord his God
was with him.” Now, the king of Israel, when he saw that im_
mense secession of his people going over to Judah, determined
to make war to stop it. The step that he took was to build
Ramah within five miles of Jerusalem, and to fortify it, so that
it would command the entrance into Jerusalem.
Asa freed himself from this attack of Baasha, by taking the
treasuries, even the sacred treasures out of Jerusalem, the Tem_
ple, and sending them as tribute to Ben_hadad, the king of
Syria, whose country lay north of the ten tribes, and making
an alliance with him, „to step on the tail of this army invading
him.” Note that I Kings 15:19 and 2 Chronicles 16:3, both
commence this way: „There is a league between me and thee,
between my father and thy father”ùor, „there is a league be_
tween me and thee as there was between my father and thy
father.” How shall we explain that? Notice that the words,
„there is” are in italics: that shows that the translators sup_
plied those words. Let us supply better words: „Let there be a

league between thee and me as there was between my father
and thy father.” There was no league extant between Asa and
Ben_hadad; on the contrary Ben_hadad had leagued with
Baasha; and he says, „Now let there be a league between me
and thee, and break your league with Baasha.” The result of
the bribe was that Ben_hadad marched an army against Israel,
the ten tribes, took many of their cities, and Baasha had to
leave Ramah and his fortifications and go back to fight for his
own country. Asa disposed of Baasha’s fortifications at Ra_
mah, by having these fortifications taken down, and the mate_
rial used in building two fortifications, or cities, that were to
protect Jerusalem and hold these roads. There is an ancient
and also a far future tragic event associated with Ramah. The
ancient event was the death of Jacob’s wife, Rachel, at that
place, and the great mourning that followed it. The far dis_
tant future event was the slaughter of the innocents at Bethle_
hem by Herod, where the New Testament says, „The voice of
Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted
because they were not.”
The sin of Asa’s alliance with Ben_hadad and how Jehovah
announced his displeasure, are found in 2 Chronicles 16:7_9:
„And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa, king of Judah,
and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of
Syria, and hast not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the
host of the king of Syria escaped out of thy hand. Were not
the Ethiopians and the Lubim a huge host, with chariots and
horsemen exceeding many? Yet, because thou didst rely on the
Lord, he delivered them into thine hand? For the eyes of the
Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew him_
self strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
Herein thou hast done foolishly; for from henceforth thou shalt
have wars.” Washington, President of the „United States, in his
farewell address said, „Beware of entangling alliances.” Well,
Asa made such an entangling alliance, which proved very harm_
ful to him; it would have been far better if he had relied upon
Jehovah and whipped both of them.

Asa’s added transgression was to put the prophet in prison
who rebuked him. Now, when one gets mad at the truth being
told to him and confesses that it is the truth; and when he tries
to put away the truth by imprisoning the people who tell the
truth, he should remember this: „The word of God cannot be
bound.” One may imprison the speaker, but the word of God
that he told cannot be bound. And Asa oppressed some of the
people at the same time. Of course, when one goes wrong in
one thing, he will likely add another wrong. (I omit all the
references to Israel just now because I have reserved for a later
discussion the House of Omri).
A disease overtook Asa in his old age: „And in the ninth and
thirtieth year of his reign, Asa was diseased in his feet; and his
disease was exceeding great.” I suppose he had the gout. Any_
how, the gout comes to people who live luxuriously and es_
pecially those who drink much port wine are sure to have it.
2 Chronicles 16:12_13 seems to veil a sarcasm against the
physicians: „Asa was diseased in his feet . . . yet in his disease
he sought not Jehovah, but to the physicians. And Asa slept
with his fathers.” The New Testament has a similar passage,
concerning the afflicted woman who „had suffered many things
of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was
nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26). I some_
times quote these passages when joking with my friends, the
doctors. Dr. Broadus well says that nothing better could have
been expected from the medical practice of that day. An in_
telligent modern physician would laugh to scorn the remedies
prescribed by physicians of New Testament times, much less
Asa’s more distant days. The old_time symbol of a physician
was a duck that looked like it was just about to say, „quack.”
The practice was a mixture of magic, witchcraft, and supersti_
tion, like the old granny’s remedies in Edward Eggleston’s
Hoosier Schoolmaster.
In 2 Chronicles 16:14 we have the last reference to Asa: „And they buried him in his own sepulchre, which he had hewn out for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odors and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries’ art: and they made a very great burning for him.” Was he cremated? Some commentaries quote this to show how early the cremation of bodies commenced. But
that is not the thought at all. He is following the Egyptian
method of having the body embalmed. They put him in a bed
of sweet odors and divers kinds of spices prepared by the
apothecaries’ art. The burning was the burning of incense at
the mouth of the tomb. It was not the cremation of the body.
The object was to preserve the body so it would not decay.

1. What is the theme of this section and what helps especially com_
2. What was the time period of Asa’s reign, who the contemporaneous
kings of Israel, and how many and what dynasties?
3. What was the general character of Asa and how do the kings of
Judah compare with those of Israel?
4. What great blessing marked the beginning of his reign and how
was it obtained?
5. How was it utilized?
6. What was the second great event of his reign and where did it take
7. Is the great number of men given here credible and what is the
8. What is the origin, meaning and application of the name „Ethiopian”?
9. Where were the Cushites?
10. What is the proof that this was also an Egyptian army?
11. Who, then, according to some, was this man, Zerah?
12. Give and analyze Asa’s appeal to Jehovah when he saw the great
host and God’s response to him.
13. What were the mighty results of this victory?
14. What is the meaning of „tents of the cattle”?
15. Analyze the warning of the prophet, Azariah, who went to meet
Asa returning from the great battle.
16. Is that a prophecy of future events or is it a historical retrospect,
quoted to enforce the text?

17. If a retrospect, what events of the past verify it? Explain and
18. Cite a passage from one of Israel’s later prophets who foretells a
similar condition.
19. Explain the remarkable date in 2 Chronicles 15:19 and 16:1, com_
paring with I Kings 16:8.
20. Winy is Azariah’s prophecy attributed to Oded in I Chronicles
21. Give an account of the second great reformation of Asa.
22. What was the occasion and reason for the war of Baasha, king of
Israel, against Asa, and what step taken in view of this reason?
23. How did Asa. free himself from this attack of Baasha? Explain
fully his words to Ben_hadad.
24. How did Asa dispose of Baasha’s fortifications at Ramah?
25. What ancient and what far distant future events associated with
26. What was sin of Asa’s alliance with Ben_hadad and how did Jeho_
vah announce his displeasure?
27. What was Asa’s added transgression?
28. What disease overtook Asa in his old age?
29. What is the author’s sarcasm relative to Asa’s sickness and death?
30. What was the last reference to Asa and what the meaning of „a
great burning for him”?

2 Chronicles 17_20; I Kings 22:1_61

The reader will observe that I omitted in the last chapter
any special reference to the contemporaneous affairs in Israel,
in the close of the reign of Asa, and do now limit this chapter
to the record in 2 Chronicles 17_20. This limitation is to secure
unity in the discussion of the two great kings of Judah: Asa
and Jehoshaphat; and for the same purpose two or three later
chapters will be devoted exclusively to the great house of Omri
in Israel, and its battle royal with Elijah, the Tishbite.
I pause here to remark that there are some matters so very
critical in this section, that I am not willing to trust myself
in an offhand statement of the meaning, and so every word of
this chapter is written out beforehand, just as I want it to stand
verbatim, et liberatum, et punctuatim.
The glorious seventeeenth chapter of 2 Chronicles has no
parallel in Kings, and well illustrates the valuable supplemen_
tary character of the later history. The history opens with Je_
hoshaphat devising military measures of defense against Israel.
He placed regular garrisons in all the fortified cities of Judah,
established and garrisoned new military posts in all the terri_
tory captured from Ephraim by his father, Asa, and grand_
father, Abijah. This was the very beginning of his reign.
His moral measures of defense are far more sublime. They
constitute a great lesson worthy of study in all subsequent ages.
On this section, therefore, we must place our greatest emphasis.
What, then, were these moral measures of defense adopted by
(1) „He walked in the first ways of his father David” –
David, the ideal king, not Solomon, was his model. And the

first ways of David are followed, not the last. Thus, his pattern
was his lost illustrious ancestor, the man after God’s own heart,
and he at his best, not at his worst. We would do well while
finding a perfect ideal in Jesus, to select some human model
that reflects our highest ideals of manhood or womanhood.
For instance, how many young preachers say in their hearts,
„I will keep my eyes on William Carey, or on Adoniram Jud_
son, or on Charles Spurgeon”?
(2) „He sought not unto Baalim” – that is the Hebrew plu_
ral, like Seraph – Seraphim; cherub – cherubim; so Baal –
Baalim. „He sought not unto Baalim, but sought unto the God
of his fathers.” He whom one worships is more important than
whom he makes his model. To him Jehovah alone was God. He
counted as nothing Baalim, that is, the male and the female
deities. Baalim being plural) that signified Baal, the male) and
Astoreth the female. Astoreth has its own plural, Astoroth, and
is about the same as the Venus of the Romans, or the Aphrodite
of the Greeks. Baal and Ashtoreth, under some name or form,
represented the world’s debased and sensual idolatry.
(3) The record tells us that he refused to find in Israel an
example for his people, which under the house of Omri, turned
to these infamous Phoenician deities, the Baalim_Baal and Ash_
(4) The record says that his heart was lifted up in the ways
of Jehovah. That is a strong expression in the original. It is
not a perfunctory service; he gloried in it; his heart exulted in
it; his fervor glowed like a furnace.
(5) In such a spirit and zeal there could be no compromise;
hence the record says, „He took away the high places and the
Asherim out of Judah.” „The high places,” that is, the top of
the hills, even when Jehovah was the object of worship, de_
tracted from the central place of worship in Jerusalem with
its holy Temple, and its glorious unifying services and feasts.
The Asherim were symbolized in wooden columns that some_
times stood like groves, as when Gideon went out and cut down

a grove of them in one night. The Asherim stood as a perpetual
temptation to superstition and idolatry.
(6) He made abundant and systematic provision for the in_
struction of the people of God in the Pentateuch, „The book of
the law of Jehovah.” Princes, priests, and Levites, were con_
stituted as itinerant teaching corps. Up and down, to and fro,
through all the land this great traveling faculty carried and
taught the one great textbook, the Law of Moses. The word
of God was not bound. Its precepts were brought by the might_
iest and most honorable in the land into every village and home.
And as the priests and Levites of all the tribes were assembled
into one tribe, magnifying the teaching force of that tribe, Ju_
dah, under this itinerant system of instruction) became one
great religious university – an itinerant theological seminary.
(7) He established a graded judicial system for the deter_
mination and enforcement of civil, criminal, and ecclesiastical
law (10:5_8) and here is his charge to the judges of the lower
courts: „Consider what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but
Jehovah; and he is with you in the judgment you render. Now,
therefore, let the fear of Jehovah be upon you; take heed and
do it; for there is no iniquity with Jehovah our God, nor respect
of persons nor taking of bribes.” I would like to read that to all
the judges of the lower courts of the United States. Here is
what he says in his charge to the Supreme Court, the head of
the judicial system in Jerusalem: „In the fear of Jehovah ye
shall do faithfully, and with a perfect heart. And whensoever
any controversy shall come to you from your brothers that
dwell in the villages and cities, between blood and blood [that
is, if it is a murder case], between the law [in its principles]
and [their expression in] commandments) statutes, and ordi_
nances, ye shall warn them that they be guilty toward Jehovah
and so wrath come upon you [the judges] and your brethren
[the appellants]. This do ye and ye shall not be guilty. Deal
courageously and Jehovah be with the good in your judgment.”

I would like to read that to our state and national supreme
I pause here to remark, first, that the civil and criminal code
of Moses surpasses the codes of Lycurgus, Solon, Justinian, or
Napoleon, and as a foundation it underlies all of the best of
modern law among the most civilized nations. I was boarding
once with a very brilliant lawyer, and he asked if I could give
him a digest of the Mosaic law, civil and criminal. I told him
he would find it in Hitchcock’s Analysis, and I made him a
present of the book. I said to him, „Now, when you read this
let your quick mind answer this question as you go over its
constitution, the decalogue, or each statute. How much of your
law does the principle of this statute underlie?” When he got
through he said, „I find that all the best of our laws, at least
in their principle, come from Moses.”
Now, imagine the effect of such a trained force of teachers
going over Judah teaching that law, and then such a judicial
system interpreting and enforcing that law. I repeat again that
mere human law, separated from the idea of responsibility to
God, can never challenge respect nor be righteously enforced.
The most shameful thing of modern civilization is that we can_
not get Juries to render a verdict according to the law given
by the judge and the evidence given by the witnesses. To this
add the law’s delay, the wrangling of the paid attorneys, and
the wonder is explicable that the people dread the courts more
than anything else. A man in Fort Worth recently remarked to
his family: „If ever I am murdered I charge you to ask the
grand jury not to indict the murderer; don’t you have anything
to do with the prosecution. For, if the murderer is never prose_
cuted, murder is all that comes to me. But if you put the case
in the courts with the lawyers trying to justify the murderer,
there will not be a shred of my reputation left. Not content
with murdering my body, they will murder my good name.”
(8) He did not isolate himself from his people, living lux_
uriously in a palace and leaving subordinates to watch over
the affairs of the kingdom. But the text eays that „he dwelt at
Jerusalem, and went out again among the people from Beer_
sheba [the most southern part] to the hill country of Ephraim
[the most northern part] and brought them back unto Jehovah
the God of their fathers.” When kings become missionaries
like that, and the princes become itinerant teachers like that,
happy is the land.
(9) He organized and trained a vast militia corps, or war
reserve, not indeed as a standing army, but ready at all times
to respond to a call to arms in any emergency. Judging from
the muster roll given in the record, it must have included like
the German Landwehr, all the male population capable of
bearing arms. There were three army corps from Judah, num_
bering respectively 300,000, 280,000, and 200,000: total from
Judah 780,000. There were two corps from Benjamin, respec_
tively, 200,000 and 180,000: total from Benjamin, 380,000:
grand total from the two, 1,160,000 men, and all of them with
a full quota of officers. The world never saw anything like the
German system of war, as developed in 1870, between Ger_
many and France. The very minute that Emperor William I
signed his name to the declaration of war, that minute Von
Moltke, the commander_in_chief, touched a button that rang
a bell, and over a million men responded to it in twenty_
four hours: and every man knew his company, colonel, regi_
ment, major general, his division, his starting point, his line
of travel) the system was so perfect.
Murphy’s Commentary on Chronicles thus explains this im_
mense number of Jehoshaphat’s militia. He says, „First, every
man fit to bear arms is enumerated. Second, Judah at this
time included Simeon, part of Dan, and the auxiliaries from the
Philistines and Arabs who were tributary; and Benjamin in_
cluded the cities of Ephraim that were annexed to the Southern
Kingdom. Third, many Israelites had, on religious grounds, at_
tached themselves to the kingdom of Judah (15:9). Hence,
there were three captains, or marshals, in Judah: one for Ju_
dah proper, one for Dan and the auxiliary Philistines, and one
for Simeon and the auxiliary Arabs. There were two for Benja_
min, one for Benjamin proper and one for the annexed part of
Ephraim. Moreover, in the text (v. 16) Amasiah is described
as a volunteer in the service of the Lord, and had under his
command, no doubt, a body of volunteers from the north.”
The explanation by Murphy is very plausible in view of the
Now, that this 1,160,000 was a militia reserve is evident
from the fact that it is contradistinguished from the regular
army garrisoning the fortified cities.
The glorious results of these measures are thus set forth in
the text: first, Jehovah was with Jehoshaphat, and established
his kingdom; second, fear of Jehovah fell on all the kingdoms
that were round about Judah, so they made no war on Jehosh_
aphat; third, all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat tribute; fourth,
some of the Philistines brought to Jehoshaphat presents and
silver for tribute; fifth, the Arabs brought him flocks of 15,400
rams and goats; sixth, and Jehoshaphat had riches and honor
in abundance, and waxed great exceedingly, and built in Ju_
dah castles and cities of stone, and he had many works in the
cities of Judah.
If just here the record ended with „And Jehoshaphat slept
with his fathers,” we would have before us a faultless monarch;
but as no man is perfect, fidelity to history requires that we
pluck three roses from his wreath of glory, to wit:
First, beginning with chapter 18 the record says that „he
made affinity” with the infamous Ahab, king of Israel. Thus
by marrying his son and successor to Athaliah, the murderous
daughter of Ahab and the wicked Jezebel, which led his son
into idolatry, and into the shame that denied him burial with
his fathers, and, as I think, into the loss of his soul, he later
corrupted the kingdom of Judah and brought the seed of David
down to one helpless baby, and helped to bring the kingdom of
God nearer to destruction than at any period since the flood.
That will be evident when we come to discuss Elijah the Tish_
Second, this marriage led him to visit Ahab (chapter 18) in
Samaria, where he was beguiled to join Ahab in his disastrous
war, that did not concern Judah, against the king of Syria.
That war is set forth from 18:2 to 19:1.
Third, later in his reign he joined himself with Ahaziah, the
wicked son of the wicked Ahab, to build ships at Ezion_geber,
„to go,” as the text says, „to Tarshish” (but I say, „to go to
Orphir”), thus seeking to revive the old commerce of Solomon
I here raise this question on 2 Chronicles 20:35_37: Why
build a fleet at Ezion_geber to reach Tarshish? Ezion_geber is
at the head of the gulf of Akaba, a part of the Red Sea. Tar_
shish is in Spain, and to reach Spain the fleet would have to
circumnavigate Africa – to reach Tarshish from Ezion_geber.
Jonah took shipping at Joppa to reach Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).
Solomon reached Tarshish from the Phoenician ports of Tyre
and Sidon. The explanation of this difficulty is that „Tarshish”
is a model of a ship called Tarshish and the text in 2 Chronicles
20:36 is corruptedùit should read, „Ships of Tarshish” instead
of „Ships to go to Tarshish.”
These three acts of Jehoshaphat, which were the three roses
plucked from the wreath of his fame, a.ll deserve special treat_
ment. The disastrous marriage, the most important one, will
be considered in a later chapter on Elijah the Tishbite. The
other two evils will be considered now.


The second evil was accepting the invitation of Ahab to visit
him in Samaria. He was there beguiled into making an alli_
ance with Ahab to go to war against Ben_hadad, the king of
Syria, for the recovery of Ramoth_gilead, a town east of the
I will relate now a part of the history which precedes this
(but which we have not yet treated, as I am reserving the his_
tory of the house of Omri for a special chapter), that Ahab had
captured the king of Syria and ought to have killed him, but
let him go on the pledge that he would give up Ramoth_gilead,
which he had stolen from Ahab. But when free he would not
give it up, and now Ahab is considering the reconquest. We
will now continue the discussion of chapter 18.
While royally entertained in Samaria by Ahab, the host em_
barrassed his guest by proposing joint action in the recovery
of Ramoth_gilead, still held against treaty stipulations by the
king of Syria. On the impulse of the moment the enticed guest
responded) „I am as thou art, and my people as thy people,
and we will go with thee in this war.” Sober reflection, how_
ever, imposed a condition which is stated in the next verse:
„Inquire, first I pray thee, for the word of Jehovah,” i.e., „I
will go with you if Jehovah says so; inquire for the word of
Jehovah.” We must put this condition to the credit of the be_
guiled but pious Jehoshaphat.
What followed is most difficult to understand in several par_
ticulars, greatly perplexing the commentators, and calls for
careful exposition. The reader should read attentively the
whole paragraph of 2 Chronicles 18:4_27, and then note:
(1) Jehoshaphat demands an inquiry for the word of Jeho_
vah, not for the word of Baal.
(2) Then, of course, the prophets who respond must be the
prophets of Jehovah, not Baal’s prophets.
(3) Four hundred prophets, assembled by Ahab, when
asked: „Shall we go to Ramoth_gilead to battle or shall we
forbear?” – unanimously responded, „Go up; for God will de_
liver it into the hand of the king.”
(4) Jehoshaphat is not satisfied: the promptness of assem_
bling 400 prophets, the readiness and the unanimity of their
response, or something in their bearing, awakened suspicion on
his part that something was wrong. Hence his question: „Is
there not here a prophet of Jehovah besides, that we may in_
quire of him?” Now, does he imply by that question that the
400 are not Jehovah’s prophets at all, or does the „besides”
mean that they were Jehovah’s prophets, but that he wants
another one?
(5) Ahab’s reply evidently claims that the 400 are Jehovah’s
prophets, but admits that there is one there in the city whom he
hates, because he uniformly prophesies evil and not good
against Ahab.
(6) Jehoshaphat’s rejoinder, „Let not the king say so,”
plainly intimates his continued dissatisfaction, and he insists on
hearing this other prophet, Micaiah, the son of Imlah. In the
meanwhile, while waiting for Micaiah to be brought, Zedekiah,
the leader of the 400 prophets recalled the famous promise of
Moses concerning Joseph (Deut. 33:17), and put on the sym_
bolic horns promised there, and acted out the manner in which
the Syrian king would be gored to death, with all the other
prophets shouting, „Go up to Ramoth_gilead and prosper.”
This dramatic action must have made an impression. Now the
reader must not take my word for the horns promised by
Moses, but let him turn back and read what Moses said. Evi_
dently Zedekiah takes what Moses said concerning the chil_
dren of Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim, to show that he is
giving a true prophecy; he puts on those iron horns and shows
just how the Ephraim bull will gore the Syrian king to destruc_
tion. It must have been a funny scene.
(7) The method of sending for Micaiah and disposing of
him after he is heard, implies that he was in prison in the city
at the time, and is remanded back to prison because he would
not prophesy smooth things to Ahab.
(8) The officer hinted to him, while bringing him before the
king, to conform his reply to that of the four hundred – like I
have known sheriffs, when bringing in a witness, to whisper
how he had better testify; to make a confession and to impli_

what he is going to say with what the 400 said, clearly shows
how this officer, at least, was aware that the prophets around
Ahab must prophesy as the king wished. It seems to place
Ahab’s conception of the prophetic office on a line with Balak’s
when he sent for Balaam to come and curse Israel: that a king’s
money or a king’s favor could get just what he wanted from
the subservient oracle. Or, it is on a line with any fortuneteller,
who will gauge his forecast of the fortunes according to the fee,
or according to his fear of the inquirer.
(9) We find it hard to reconcile Micaiah’s grand reply to the
officer, that he would not prophesy anything except as Jehovah
gave it, – 1 say, we find it difficult to harmonize that grand re_
ply to the officer with his first reply to Ahab, which is exactly
in harmony with what the 400 advised. Now, was that first
reply to Ahab sarcasm, and meant to be so understood? Did
it mean: „You do not want to hear the truth, and you know it;
you want to hear only what is pleasing, and I give it to you”?
Or, does it mean that when a man incorrigibly insists upon be_
ing deluded, then Jehovah sends him a delusion? The last
seems to be the true explanation and puts his reply in harmony
with his reply to the officers. But Ahab evidently understands
it according to the first explanation) and so he presumptuously
demands Jehovah’s true attitude toward the proposed expedi_
tion. Thus adjured, Micaiah turns a flood of light on the whole
situation. He commences by recounting a vision of all Israel
scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd.
Ahab’s side remark to Jehoshaphat did not stay him. He draws
a vivid heaven counterpart over the earth scene. On earth, as
our text tells us, the throned kings are sitting in the open space
in the gates of Samaria, surrounded by a throng of courtiers,
and inquiring, „Shall we go up to Ramoth_gilead?” Now, above
this the prophet’s vision sees Jehovah and his session of angels
considering what answer to the question shall heaven inspire,
and the means of that inspiration. More than once I have
taught my students two great lessons, both illustrated right
here: First, that evil angels, including Satan himself, must at
intervals attend the convocations of angels on the summons
of Jehovah, and must report at Jehovah’s inquisition where
they have been and what they have seen and done in regard to
God’s people, and must limit their deeds to what Jehovah per_
mits (see Job 1:6_12; 2:1_7).
What then do they directly, since it is by the permission of
God, he does indirectly. Second, that when Pharaoh continues
to harden his heart, then will Jehovah himself harden it; that
when men continue to shut their eyes to the truth, then Jehovah
afflicts them with judicial blindness; and when men incorrigibly
prefer delusion to the truth, then Jehovah sends them a strong
delusion that they may believe a lie and be damned (see 2
Thessalonians 2:11; Isaiah 66:4).
Now, in this convocation of angels Jehovah inquires for an
angelic messenger, who will delude Ahab to his ruin. A lying
angel responds, „I will inspire Ahab’s prophets to answer him in
a way that will destroy him,” and Jehovah tells him to go and
do it. Yes, the 400 prophets were inspired, but they were in_
spired of Satan to say, „Go up to Ramoth_gilead and prosper.”
Had these 400 been faithful to their prophetic office, and not
subservient to Ahab’s wishes, they would not have become the
dupes of Satan; they would have tried the spirits attempting
to inspire them, and would have been able to discern the evil
kind. Micaiah thus exposes the source of the spiritual sugges_
tion governing Zedekiah and the 400. They were conscious
that an outside spirit was telling them to say what they said,
and they supposed it to be Jehovah, bu_t Micaiah shows from
whom that inspiration comes.

1. What was the length of Jehoshaphat’s reign?
2. Why in the latter part of Asa’s reign and all of Jehoshaphat’s does
the author omit temporarily all scriptures that relate exclusively to
3. At the beginning of his reign, what were Jehoshaphat’s measures of
defense against Israel?
4. State in order the moral measures of defense.
5. Give an account of his militia organization and Murphy’s explana_
6. Give in order the glorious results of that measure.
7. What the meaning of 2 Chronicles 18:1, „he made affinity with
8. What, then, were the three acts of his life, condemned of Jehovah
and which detract from his glory?
9. What were the results of the first act?
10. Tell how he was beguiled into the second act.
11. What condition did Jehoshaphat exact?
12. Were the 400 subservient prophets of Ahab prophets of Baal or of
13. Did they speak by inspiration?
14. What promise had Moses made concerning the tribes of Joseph,
and how did Zedekiah act out what seemed to be a fulfilment?
15. Judging from Ahab’s hatred of Micaiah, what must have been his
conception of the prophetic office?
16. Where was Micaiah when sent for?
17. What suggestion did the officer make to him while conducting him
before Ahab and what does this prove?
18. What was his reply to the officer and how do you harmonize it
with his first reply to Ahab?
19. When adjured to give Jehovah’s attitude toward the proposed ex_
pedition what his reply?
20. What two great truths concerning God’s supreme rule have been
diligently taught by the author and what the Scripture proof and application of both to Micaiah’s revelation?
21. Who then inspired the 400 and why permitted?
22. Give dramatic setting of the earth scene and the heaven scene.
23. May men now be inspired by an evil spirit?
24. What is the condition of mind that makes one susceptible to such
inspiration as evidenced in the 400?
25. What is the New Testament provision that enables a Christian to
discern between an evil and a good inspiration?


In the preceding chapter we considered the marvelous
prophecy of Micaiah, the son of Imlah, explaining how the 400
prophets of Ahab were deluded. The difficulties of that partake_
lar paragraph are so great that many commentaries skip it
altogether – they do not try to expound it. Even the “Speaker’s
Bible” commentary, merely gives the text but does not give a
word of exposition. Even my great favorite, Hengstenberg,
from whom I supposed that I could get some help, passes it
with a single allusion. Now, to me, there do not appear such
great difficulties.
The questions of difficulty are these: Were these 400 men
really the prophets of Jehovah? They were the prophets of
Jehovah in the sense that they represented the calf worship in
Israel: they pretended under the calf worship to still worship
Jehovah. Another difficulty is Jehovah’s permitting and even
directing an evil spirit to inspire these 400 men to bring about
the ruin of Ahab, a moral difficulty that is more seeming than
real. It is on par with the existence of all evil in the world.
A little child, for instance, asked the question: „Mama, is God
greater than the devil?” „Yes.” „Then why doesn’t he kill the
devil?” In other words, it is simply the inquisition into Jeho_
vah’s permission of moral evil in the world, and his inclusive
government over everything, good and bad, in which he makes
the wrath of man to praise him, and overrules the evil of both
men and demons.
There are some other difficulties graver to my mind in the
section before us. One is, to reconcile the text of certain places
in Kings with the corresponding text in Chronicles. That ap_
pears in the records of events near the end of Jehoshaphat’s
reign. And a still greater difficulty is to reconcile the text of
both of them with the Septuagint Version. The Septuagint
Version is not inspired, and it follows its own sweet will every
now and then in dealing with matters. Sometimes it makes
marvelously good hints – and sometimes it simply follows Jew_
ish legends and traditions.
We are now to consider the effect of Micaiah’s exposure of
Zedekiah, the leader of the 400 prophets, on Ahab and on Je_
hoshaphat. We have Zedekiah’s effort to break the force of
Micaiah’s exposure and that prophet’s response, as follows:
„Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote
Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the spirit
of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?” i.e., „since you say
that an evil spirit inspired us, and that Jehovah inspired you,
I put it to the test by this blow. Which way went the spirit of
Jehovah from me and to you?” In other words, „Here are 400
of us, all conscious of inspiration, knowing that we speak from
some impulse outside of ourselves. You stand up there by your_
self and say that a lying spirit inspired us, and that Jehovah
inspired you.” To that Micaiah says, „Behold, thou shalt see
on the day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide
thyself.” That means: „You wait until after the battle is over,
and the army is defeated and Ahab is slain, and you are run_
ning to hide, and then you will know which one of us is speak_
ing from Jehovah.” All this seemed to have little effect on
Ahab and Jehoshaphat.
Josephus accounts for the little effect of Micaiah’s exposure
on Ahab and Jehoshaphat (for we see they went right ahead
into the war, both of them, notwithstanding Micaiah’s mar_
velous representation of the scene in heaven on this day) thus:
„When Zedekiah smote Micaiah he challenged his credentials
by calling for a sign: If you represent Jehovah, paralyze my
hand that smote your cheek, as the prophet of God dried up
the hand of Jeroboam at the altar. And if you cannot accredit
what you say by a miracle of that kind, then it is because you
are false and we are true.’ ” Of course, I do not know where
Josephus gets his information about that, certainly not from
the Bible. But it is interesting to know that this is the way
this Jewish writer accounts for it, and Josephus is following
the tradition of his people in thus accounting for it. What
he says at least accounts for Jehoshaphat’s disregard of Mi_
caiah. What Ahab said to Micaiah and his response are as
follows: „And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry
him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash
the king’s son; and say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow
in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with the
water of affliction, until I come in peace.” So Ahab did not
believe what Micaiah said because he did not want to believe
it. Micaiah made this noble response: „If thou returneth at
all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me.” He appeals
to the old prophetic test: If a prophet shall foretell an event
and it does not come to pass, then that prophet is a lying
prophet, but if his word is fulfilled, then he is a true prophet.
A certain clause is wanting in the Septuagint and a conjec_
ture is based on it in view of Micah 1:2. This is the clause
that is not in the Septuagint: „And he said, Hear, ye peoples,
all of you.” That is, Micaiah appeals to both the men of Is_
rael and to the men of Judah to listen to the text. Now, these
words were not in the Septuagint, but they are in the Hebrew
of both Chronicles and Kings. The conjecture based on it is
exceedingly idle. Micah 1:2 uses precisely these words: „Hear,
ye peoples, all of you,” and so the conjecture is that Micah
the prophet, whose book we have, is the same as the Micaiah
here. But Micah the prophet belongs to a much later date. It
was customary for the prophets to appeal to the people to bear
witness to what they said.
There seems to have been no effect on Jehoshaphat. It was
at his instance that Micaiah was called in; now he had heard
Micaiah, but notwithstanding what he says, he goes right on
to the war with Ahab. He must have been influenced by Zede-
kiah’s smiting Micaiah. So Jehoshaphat leads a force of Judab
into this battle, but I do not see a word anywhere that tells
us just what that force was. There is certainly no summons
to any of the tribes of Judah. It may be that Jehoshaphat
simply took with him into the battle the guard that he had
with him when he came to make this visit and in the absence
of any historical notice I suppose that this is so.
Ahab made a proposition to Jehoshaphat before they went
into the battle. The text says this: „And the king of Israel
said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself and go into the
battle, and put thou on thy robes.” Now, the Septuagint says,
„put thou on my robes.” And I think the Septuagint is right.
And the Septuagint in a later verse says (where these captains
center on Jehoshaphat), „it seemed to them that it was the
king of Israel.” Now the seeming could be only by external
uniform; they would not have any other way of knowing. So,
then his proposition was: „I will go into the battle disguised,
and you put on my robes . . . you seem to be Ahab.”
Readers of romance will recall in Scott’s famous novel, Quentin Durward, that when the Wild Boar of Ardennes had captured the city of Ghent, and the Duke of Burgundy and Louis
of France were coming to oust him, he disguised himself and
had a number of men put on his garb, and also had a number
of others put on the garb of the noted French knight, Dunoia,
in order to make the Burgundians think that the French were
fighting against them instead of with them. Readers of Shake_
speare will recall that when Henry IV fought his battle with
„Hotspur” Percy and Douglas, a number of men had on the
armor of Henry IV, and that Douglas killed several of them,
thinking he was killing the king. Now, that was Ahab’s ex_
pedient, and I think Jehoshaphat was a very simple fellow to
agree to it.
There are at least two reasons why Ahab disguised himself:
First, there seemed to be a lingering fear that maybe Micaiah
was right, and that the result of this battle would be that Israel
would be without a shepherd, and he thought to thwart that
prophecy, and in disguise thought to lessen the danger. And
the other reason appears immediately after, as follows: „Now,
the king of Syria had commanded the two and thirty captains
of his chariots, saying, Fight with neither small nor great, save
only with the king of Israel.” Ahab had doubtless learned
that special directions had been given to the Syrian officers to
single him out. Jehoshaphat did not know it, but Ahab did.
„Now, brother Jehoshaphat, my ally, put on my robe, and go
into the fight; I will disguise myself.”
The king of Syria had made an improvement in his army
since the last battle with Ahab. We have not had that part
of the history yet because we have not considered the house
of Omri particularly, and I will say this: that in the first battle
in which he was defeated by Ahab, the Syrian king let the
thirty_two subsidiary kings command their own forces, and
kings are not necessarily good captains. Anyway, they turned
tail and fled, and lost him the battle. So this time he sub_
stituted war men to command these troops. At the beginning
of all wars we may notice that favorites have positions, but
after they lose a few battles, and matters get desperate, the
success of the war demands that only real generals be put in
command. So, instead of thirty_two kings, he has thirty_two
real soldiers commanding.
The result, then, to Jehoshaphat of this expedient of Ahab
was that it put him in extreme danger. These thirty_two cap_
tains of the chariots turning not to the right nor to the left,
struck at nobody else but Jehoshaphat, supposing him to be
Ahab the king of Israel.
In vv. 31_32 of the Chronicles account, it is said that when
the Syrian captains centered on Jehoshaphat, „He cried out”
and they turned away. Now, on that account there are two
questions: First, what was his cry and to whom; and second,
what caused those captains to turn away from him? Was it
an impulse from Jehovah, as v.31 gives it, or was it the mere
fact that they perceived that the man they were after was not
the king of Israel, as the next verse says? One commentator
says, „When he saw them coming around him he cried out, I
am not your man,” or that he cried out, „Rally around me,
men of Judah.” But that was not his cry. My own answer
is that he cried to God, and Jehovah’s response is recorded in
v. 31: „But Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him;
and God moved them to depart from him.” They themselves
were not conscious of that divine impulse, and they turned
away because they believed that this was not the man they
were after, as the next verse says. We frequently see these
two forces combined: God overruling, and the natural human
impulse governing at the same time.
The Vulgate, the Latin Version made in the fourth century,
A.D., by Jerome, says that Jehoshaphat cried unto Jehovah. It
says, „clamavit ad Dominum,” „He cried out to the Lord,”
and certainly the context supports the Latin Version.
The text says that the expedient of Ahab failed to save him:
„And a certain man drew his bow at a venture and smote the
king of Israel between the joints of the harness, wherefore he
said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand and carry
me out of the host; for I am sore wounded.”
May we attribute Ahab’s death to chance, fate, or provi_
dence? That is, to chance because the man that shot did not
know he was shooting at him, but drew his bow at a venture?
Or, may we attribute it to fate, as Josephus says, „Fate, the
inevitable, found Ahab out without his robes”? Or, may we
attribute it to providence because of Micaiah’s words in w. 16,
19? Micaiah said the result of that battle would be that Israel
would be without a shepherd; and v. 19 represents Jehovah as
saying, „Who will go and entice him to Ramoth_gilead that
he may fall?”
Now, this question probes all the philosophies of the world
as to the cause of things. The Epicureans say, „Chance” –
that the world itself is the result of a fortuitous concourse of
atoms. This is also the theory of modern evolution as ex_
pounded by such radicals as Haeckel and others – all design
eliminated. Zeno, the stoic, says that everything happens ac_
cording to fate, inexorable fate. The Bible says that with God,
there is neither chance nor fate, but that providence overrules
all things. So far as the archer himself is concerned he, in his
simplicity, shot an arrow in the battle; we might say that it
was an accident, so far as he was concerned, that he killed
Ahab; but it was no accident so far as God was concerned,
and it was not blind, inexorable fate; it was all according to
the great purpose of God, who had foreseen it and foretold it.
There is a connection of providence with this death of Ahab,
as shown by a previous prophecy, and by the history of the
fulfilment of that prophecy, and there is an additional degrada_
tion which this imposes on the dead Ahab. Elijah the Tishbite,
as we will show in a subsequent discussion, when he met Ahab
in Naboth’s vineyard (Naboth through false testimony, having
been put to death in order that Ahab might obtain possession
of his property) said to Ahab, that as the dogs licked up the
blood of Naboth, so would they lick up his blood at the very
same place. A passage from I Kings gives the fulfilment: „So
the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried
the king in Samaria. And they washed the chariot by the
pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood: (now the
harlots washed themselves there;) according unto the word
of the Lord which he spake.” That parenthetical remark is the
additional degradation: „Now the harlots washed themselves
there” – those obscene women that worshiped Ashtoreth; that
was their place of bathing. Now, in this place, in the very
pool, where these women bathed, shall your blood go, and the
dogs shall lick up your blood. So, there is evident connection
between that and the man drawing the bow at a venture, the
arrow striking Ahab between the breastplate and the lower
part of his armor. The history says that his blood ran down
into the chariot, and that he stayed there in the chariot until
the evening, when he died, and they took him, dead, in that
chariot back to Samaria, and after he was taken out of the
chariot they drove it to Naboth’s vineyard, where this pool
was, and the dogs came and licked up his blood, and the blood
ran into the very pool in which the harlot worshipers of Ash_
toreth bathed. That recalls the question, Did he die by chance,
or by fate, or by providence?
Jehovah announced his displeasure at this alliance of Je_
hoshaphat with Ahab: „And Jehu the son of Hanani the Seer
went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, Shouldest
thou help the wicked, and love them that hate the Lord? for
this thing wrath is upon thee from before the Lord. Never_
theless, there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast
put away the Ashteroth out of the land, and hast set thine
heart to seek God.” So God disapproved that alliance.
This wrath was fulfilled. In the same connection we see
that the Moabites revolted against Israel when Israel lost the
battle of Ramoth_gilead, and counting Israel a negligible quan_
tity in view of this defeat, they warred with Judah. A con_
spiracy was made between the Moabites, the Ammonites, and
other tribes beyond the Ammonites, reaching into the Arabian
Desert – all those wild hordes of people. A confederacy was
made to strike secretly at Jehoshaphat; they became an ally
of the house of Israel. That is the way the wrath came.
Now, in Chronicles 20:1 we have this statement: „And it
came to pass after this, that the children of Moab, and tho
children of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites,
came against Jehoshaphat to battle.” Now, we must account
for the „and with them some of the Ammonites,” after just
saying „the children of Ammon.” That is a corruption of the
text. In one manuscript it reads: „The children of Moab, the
children of Ammon, and others besides the Ammonites,” and
in another verse of that chapter it says, „The children of
Moab, the children of Ammon, and the children of Mount
Sier,” which would mean the Edomites.
The story of that wrath is intensely interesting. This Am_
monite confederacy, coming south of the Dead Sea where their
approach would not be observed, had gained the western shore
of the Dead Sea at En_gedi, and before anybody knew they
were at hand, they were within a few miles of Jerusalem.
Whereupon Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast, got all the people
to come up before Jehovah and pray, and one of the most re_
markable prayers in the world is the prayer of Jehoshaphat to
Jehovah to avert this wrath. He appealed to God as the ruler
of the universe. He then appealed to him as the friend of
Abraham (that is the first place in the Bible where Abraham
is called the friend of God, though we find it in the New Testa_
ment and in Isaiah). He then appealed to God on the score
of the covenant with David. He piles up the reasons. He
then appealed because they had built him this Temple for his
service, and this vast confederacy is formed to come and take
away the place that God had given to these people in the land
of Canaan. Then he adds, „When we would come into this
country you would not let us smite the children of Edom and
of Ammon and of Moab, and now they are manifesting their
gratitude by turning on us.” It was a great gathering. One
of the sons of Asaph, Jahaziel, answered for Jehovah. He says,
„You will be delivered: it will not be your battle, you will not
have to strike a blow. You simply stand still and see the salva_
tion of the Lord. Do not go out like you are going to battle,
but put your singers in front, and let them go singing praises
to God. Go to a certain point, and you will overlook the de_
struction of this great host.” The destruction of the host is
accounted for by an ambush that some of the Edomites, tribu_
tary to Judah, had laid. While some of the Edomites were
working with the king of Moab, others of them still faithful
to Judah, laid the ambush and when they attacked, the Moab_
ites and the Ammonites thought the same ones in their army
would be against them, and they killed all of them. And when
they had killed the Edomites in their own army, they began
killing one another. It was a regular „Kilkenny cat fight,”
like an Irish wake. They turned their hands against each
other until the whole army was destroyed, and Judah simply
stood on the hill singing praises to God. The spoils that they
gathered from the battle were immense, and when they came
back they came back praising God. It was a marvelous dem_
onstration of divine power. Psalm 83 commemorates this al_
liance with Moab and Ammon and these other nations. The
Moabite Stone furnishes a remarkable confirmation of the
Scripture story. It tells of this very king of Moab, and how
he revolted against Israel, and how many cities he captured
from Israel.

1. What can you say of the treatment of the difficulties in the account
of Micaiah and the 400 prophets by the commentaries?
2. What are the questions of difficulty here and what is the solution
of each respectively?
3. How did Micaiah expose Zedekiah, the leader of the 400 prophets,
and what was the effect on Ahab and Jehoshaphat?
4, How does Josephus account for the little effect on Ahab and Je_
hoshaphat and what do you think of his account?
5. What did Ahab say to Micaiah and what was his response?
6. What clause is wanting in the Septuagint, what conjecture is based
upon it in view of Micah 1:2 and what was the reply to such conjecture?
7. What was the effect on Jehoshaphat and what force did he lead
into the battle?
8. What proposition did Ahab make to Jehoshaphat before they went
into battle, what light from the Septuagint and what illustrations from profane history and literature?
9. Why did Ahab disguise himself?
10. What improvement had the king of Syria made in his army since
the last battle with Ahab and what the result of this in view of the expedient of Ahab?
11. Explain Jehoshaphat’s cry in 2 Chronicles 18:31 and the result of
this cry.
12. What light on this from the Vulgate?
13. How did the expedient of Ahab fail to save him?
14. May we attribute the death of Ahab to chance, fate, or providence?
15. What was the connection of providence with the death of Ahab
as shown by a previous prophecy and the fulfilment of it and what the additional degradation imposed on the dead Ahab?
16. How did Jehovah show his displeasure at this alliance of Jehosha_
phat with Ahab?
17. In what event was this wrath fulfilled?
18. Who were the „Ammonites” of 2 Chronicles 20:17? Explain.
19. Tell the story of the averted wrath of God here.
20. What psalm commemorates the alliance of Moab and Ammon with the other nations?
21. What testimony of the Moabite Stone?


There were three dynasties only in Israel which were mak_
ers of history. First, the dynasty of Jeroboam; second, the
dynasty of the house of Omri, which we are now to discuss;
third, the dynasty of the house of Jehu. All of the rest of
them we might put in a parenthesis – no history in them.
Only two of all the kings of Israel were appointed by Je_
hovah, viz.: Jeroboam and Jehu. The rest of them came to
the throne, usually as the Praetorian Guard at Rome elected
the Caesars – the army elected the king of Israel, and as soon
as one was so declared by the army, he killed off all the family
of his predecessor – that is the record of it. Only two of them
had a dynasty that extended beyond a second generation.
The scriptural sources for a sketch of Omri, the sixth king
of Israel are very short: I Kings 16:15_28, and half of a sen_
tence in the prophecy of Micah (6:16) – two paragraphs in
history and half of a sentence in prophecy. From this brief
history we see that he was in command of the army of Israel
besieging a Philistine city, when the news was brought that his
fellow commander, Zimri, at Tirzah, had murdered the king,
slain all of his family and usurped the throne. That is the
news that came to Ornri’s camp, whereupon his army instantly
proclaimed Omri king. He gave up the siege and marched
hastily to Tirzah, one of the capitals of the nation, took that
city, and then one week from the time that Zimri murdered
the king he committed suicide by retiring into the palace and
setting it on fire – the palace became his funeral pyre. Half
of the people made Tibni king, and after four years of civil
war between Tibni and Omri, Tibni perished and Omri became
sole ruler of the ten tribes.
His personal reign was only twelve years, but in that time
he achieved these momentous things: First, he established a
dynasty that held the throne of Israel for about forty_five
years, and controlled the foreign policy of the house of Judah
for the same length of time, and dominated the throne of Judah
for fourteen years, and attracted more attention among the
foreign nations than any other man since Solomon’s time.
Second, he built the city of Samaria which, in one way or
another, became the rival of Jerusalem for a thousand years,
even up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Every
visiting traveler has been impressed by it. All books on the
Holy Land have much to say about Samaria.
Third, he enacted statutes of idolatry that corrupted Israel
unto the downfall of the kingdom, a period of 200 years. Micah
6:16 tells us about that.
Fourth, by marrying his son Ahab to Jezebel, the princess
of Tyre (or Sidon, as it is indifferently called, Tyre and Sidon
being close together in the Phoenician kingdom), he prepared
the way for Baal worship in both kingdoms, and for bringing
the true religion to the lowest ebb since the flood.
Fifth, he inaugurated the unusual policy of alliance, instead
of war, with the house of Judah, and that policy prevailed
throughout his dynasty, Israel and Judah never being at war
during the several reigns of the dynasty of Omri, and in this
way he controlled the foreign policy of Judah, brought that
nation into sin continually, and into conflicts with its prophets.
There was no king of Judah that reigned during the dynasty of
Omri that did not fall into some sin through this policy of
alliance inaugurated by Omri.
There are other sources of material for a sketch of this
remarkable man, about whom our Bible says so little, viz.:
The Syrian, Assyrian, Moabite, and Tyrian records, inscribed
on tablets and obelisks, all of which speak of Omri, and have
more to say about him than the Bible does. Travelers in the
Holy Land verify every geographical and topographical allu_

sion in the history of his life. Two noted Greek historians
give the history of Eth_baal, king of Tyre, as father_in_law of
Ahab, and the date of their history perfectly harmonizes with
the days of Omri and Ahab. Moreover, the Tyrian historians
throw a very valuable sidelight on the Bible history. They
show that Eth_baal, the father of Jezebel, was the high priest
of the Ashtoreth (or Astarte, or Venus) and his daughter being
raised in that temple, in that atmosphere, it is easy to account
for her religious fanaticism in favor of Baal worship. In
Vergil, Dido recounts to Aeneas her migration from Tyre, and
how it led to the founding of Carthage. That Dido of Vergil
was a very close kinswoman to Jezebel. I think Jezebel was
the great_aunt of Dido.
Now, there is a piece of history, which I have referred to
before, that is about as remarkable as any in the world. About
nine hundred years before Christ a contemporary of the Omri
dynasty inscribed on a stone references to Omri and Ahab,
and after it had been buried more than 2,500 years it was
recently dug up. I give here a translation from the first part
of it, and the very man that wrote it will appear in the next
chapter. Indeed we have already considered him in the life
of Jehoshaphat. He is Mesha, king of Moab, that invaded
Judah – he is the man that wrote it. I shall never forget the
interest stirred up by the discovery of the Moabite Stone.
Infidels had been confidently trusting the spade to overturn
the Bible, and lo! this stone confirmed it. Mesha set up that
stone about twenty_five years after Omri died. Here is a part
of the inscription, following the translation of Ginsburg, the
archeologist as quoted by Rawlinson:
„I, Mesha, am son of Chemoshgad, king of Moab, the
Dibonite. My father reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father. And erected this stone at Karcha, a stone of salvation, for he saved me from all dispoilers, and let me see my desire on all mine enemies. And Omri, king of Israel, oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. His SOD succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab. In my days he said, Let us go and I will see my desire on him and his house: and Israel said I will destroy it forever.
Now, Omri took the land of Medeba and occupied it, he and
his son, and his son’s son, forty years. And Chemosh had
mercy on it in my days.”
Now, when Ahab was killed in the battle of Ramoth_gilead,
Moab rebelled and sustained their rebellion permanently
against Israel. We have already seen somewhat of this, and
will see more. I often wonder as I read of the various excava_
tions at Nineveh and Babylon, and on the Nile, and among
the Canaanite states, what a marvelous providence that God
permitted these buried inscriptions to come to light just at the
time assault was being made upon the integrity of his Book.
When I was a young fellow I heard a great infidel say, „Books?
Moses write books? Why, there were no books in the times
of Moses.” Not a very great while after his lecture the spade
turned up Canaanite library cities older than Moses. The
books were only clay tablets, of course, piled up there in public
libraries. One of these remarkable archeological monuments,
now familiar to all students, is called the Black Obelisk, in_
scribed by an Assyrian. It names particularly the house of
Omri. The obelisk makes interesting reading for a sidelight
on this section.
The character of Omri is described in I Kings 16:25_26: „And Omri did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and dealt wickedly above all that were before him.” We will find soon that his son surpasses in wickedness, but just now he is more wicked than any previous one, „For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sins wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to
anger with their vanities.” Here I raise the question as to the
scriptural meaning of „vanities.” We find many times in the
Old Testament. the word, „vanities,” and it nearly always
refers to vain objects of worship. It is not the vanity in fe_
male attire, nor in the apparel of dudes, but it is vain objects of
He sought affinity with the Phoenicians by marrying his son
Ahab to Jezebel because he was a great politician. He had
little conscience, and no religion, but the kingdom that he
dreaded was Syria, lying just north of him. Later in the his_
tory the dread shifts to Assyria ‘with its capital at Nineveh on
the Tigris river. But in Ornri’s time the foe to dread was Syria
with its capital at Damascus. Now, he could not afford to have
a strong enemy south of him, and another enemy west of him,
all the time dreading that great enemy north of him, and so,
as a shrewd politician, he secured peace effectively with the
Phoenicians on the west and of Judah on the south, both rati_
fied by marriages.
The character of Ahab, his son who succeeded him, is de_
scribed in I Kings 16:30_33; 21:25_26, as follows: „And Ahab
the son of Omri did that which was evil in the sight of the
Lord above all that went before him. And he went and served
Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for
Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And
Ahab made Asherah; and Ahab did yet more to provoke the
Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel
that were before him.” They were getting worse, and the next
passage says, „But there was none like unto Ahab, which did
sell himself to do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,
whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably
in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom
the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.”
Now, there is a remarkable sentence: „Whom Jezebel stirred
up.” Ahab could have been a moderately good man with a
good wife, for he was a notoriously weak man. But his wife
was a strong woman, a woman of as strong character as is
known to history. She wound him round her little finger:
She was the boss of that house; an exceedingly imperious
woman, raised as the proud princess, the daughter of the high
priest of Astarte, and she determined that her religion should
be the religion of Ahab and of Judah. She was utterly un_
scrupulous. A weak man if bossed by a good wife, may be_
come passably good, but if the wife be both strong and evil,
he will do more harm than if the evil came from himself. As
Bismarck once said to a young diplomat who extenuated a
mistake because it was not a crime: „You have done worse
than commit a crime; you have blundered.”
Another incident bears relation to his irreverent character.
This we find in I Kings 16:34: „Jn his days did Hiel the Beth_
elite build Jericho; he laid the foundation thereof with the loss
of Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof with the
loss of his youngest son Segub; according to the word of the
Lord, which he spake by the hand of Joshua the son of Nun.”
Now, in the history of Joshua we find that when he destroyed
Jericho, he pronounced this curse on it: „Whoever shall rebuild
Jericho shall lay its foundation in the blood of his firstborn.”
Ahab and Omri were builders; they built cities. So this Hiel
in his day, that lived at Bethel, one of the cities of calf wor_
ship, concluded to rebuild the city of Jericho, which command_
ed the fords of Jordan, and was an exceedingly strong place.
The Bible does not tell how, but in some way, God fulfilled the
prophecy on him. Maybe in laying the foundation a stone
crushed his first_born. Anyhow, before he got through with
the building, all of his sons were dead.
The following lessons may be deducted from this incident:
First, never embark on an enterprise that will cost you your
dearest. I put my finger on that passage once and said to a
church member who was keeping a retail liquor store, „You
will lay the foundation of your financial success in the blood
of your children.” Not more than a week after that two
drunken men in that saloon got to fighting and his son was
killed, accidentally shot in the fight. Be careful that you do
nothing that will entail a curse on your boy or the sweet little
girl to come after you. I think it is a great lesson.
Another great lesson is to note how remarkable is the word
of God. Ages had passed away since the blowing of rams’
horns when the walls of Jericho fell down, and Joshua lifted
up his hands and pronounced that curse on the man who should
rebuild it. And that word of God lay there quiescent in am_
bush, but rose up to life and smote to death the children of a
man that many centuries after tried to fight Jehovah’s dictum.
Julian, the apostate Roman emperor, read the prophecy
about the walls of Jerusalem. He sneeringly put his finger on
the passage in the prophecy, and said, „I will show you that
this prophecy is a liar.” He sent a vast number of men to go
and rebuild the wallù1 am simply quoting Gibbon the infidel
historian – and fire came out and devoured the men so that
they left off the building of the wall. And consequently, when
Julian was dying he used this language: „Thou Galilean, hast
conquered,” referring to Jesus. That reminds us of the passage
in Acts: Herod slew James and imprisoned Peter, and put on
a robe and made himself out to be God. The record says that
the worms ate up Herod, but the word of God prevailed and
multiplied. So we do not need to be very uneasy, fearing the
destruction of the word of God.
The next wicked act of Ahab belongs to the history here, but
is recorded elsewhere. It is found in I Kings 19: „And Elijah
said, And the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant,
torn down thine altars, and have slain thy prophets with a
sword. And I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life to
take it away.” That was one of the bitterest religious perse_
cutions known in the history of the world.
I close this chapter with a touching incident of this great
persecution. It is found in I Kings 18: „Now Obadiah, the
master of the household of Ahab, feared the Lord greatly, for
it was so that when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord
that Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties
in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.” That verse
is like an oasis in the desert, that little incident, and when we
read the history of the Albigenses, the Waldenses, the Huge_
nots, the Dutch, and the Scotch, and of any other people,
suffering religious persecution, we find some brave, bold man
or woman that harbors these fugitives from the vengeance of
the persecuting power; that opens the door to them; feeds them
and takes care of them, though done under the penalty of
death. It was the custom of the popes, when persecuting a
people, to put a curse on any who sheltered them: „No man
shall shelter him, no man shall give him a loaf of bread to eat,
or even a drop of cold water.” But this Obadiah, the master
of the household of Ahab, in his heart, loved Jehovah. Now,
when it comes to secreting men in two caves, fifty in each, and
secretly getting food to them, knowing that everything he did
put his life in hazardù1 say, it is better to know of a man of
that sort than to know of the conquests of military heroes –
his record is worthy of going into history. There are many
things in history we could afford to leave out, but we want
everything of that kind on record.
In this great extremity, a mighty instrument of protest and
reformation did the Lord raise up. He is the hero of the next
chapter: „Elijah the Tishbite.”

1. What three dynasties only of Israel were makers of history?
2. How many of all the kings of Israel were appointed by Jehovah?
3. How did the rest of them come to the throne?
4. What are the scriptural sources for a sketch of Omri, the sixth
king of Israel, and how did his house arise?
5. What other sources of material for a sketch of Omri, and what is
the additional information?
6. What was the character of Omri?
7. What is the meaning of „vanities” as used here and most every_
where else in the Old Testament?
8. Why did Omri seek affinity with Phoenicia and Judah by marriage
and how was it affected?
9. What was the character of Ahab, his son, and what the greatest in_
fluence in his life for evil?
10. What other incident bears relation to his irreverent character?
11. What lessons may be deduced from this incident?
12. What was the next wicked act of Ahab?
13. Relate a touching incident of this great persecution?
14. In this great extremity what mighty instrument of protest and

I Kings 17:1 to 81:29

Elijah the Tishbite is the most dramatic personage in all
history. He has left an ineffaceable impress on the imagina_
tion of the men of all times. He appears on the stage of action
suddenly, rarely, startlingly, and disappears as suddenly and
dramatically for long intervals of time, in which he is com_
pletely hidden from public sight. The ordinary life of the
man never becomes commonplace because never familiar by
association with the people. His successor lived much in a
city, and never in seclusion, so that his everyday life was in
the full glare of publicity. This intensely dramatic way of
appearing, when coupled with his strange garb, stern manners
and ascetic life, naturally impresses the imagination. We are
not disappointed in the reasonable expectation that such a
career would breed many traditions. Long after he passed
away we find the Jews continually expecting his return. At
the observance of the passover the door is left open that Elijah
may enter if he should suddenly come, and a vacant chair is
reserved for him at the circumcision of a child. When lost
goods are discovered and the owner cannot be found, they are
set aside until Elijah comes to identify the owner. In New
Testament times, the Jews, unable to account for Jesus of
Nazareth, supposed that he was Elijah, and when Christ cried
out in the extreme agony of his crucifixion they supposed he
was crying for Elijah.
In harmony with his marvelous career, we find the biblical
period of his history the richest in homiletical value of all the
scriptures. All the great preachers in the world have found
thrilling themes in the incidents of Elijah’s life, and not only
the great preachers, but the preachers generally throughout the
ages have gone into this deep rich mine for sermon themes.
Perhaps no man in all the ministry’ and throughout all the
ages entirely omitted the life of Elijah in selecting topics for
pulpit discussions. It would be quite easy to name at least.
fifty texts for sermons in this part of the Bible. The Scripture
books which treat of this remarkable man are I Kings, 2
Chronicles, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Romans
and James. The intense interest in his career is just as fresh
and strong in our own time as in previous ages. Such long_
continued interest cannot wholly arise from the dramatic set_
ting of his life. There must be some profounder reason for his
unshaken hold on the imagination and thought of the religious
world. We find that interest arising from the great world crisis
of his time and his method of meeting it. Once only before,
and never since, has true religion been in such danger of utter
extinction as in Elijah’s time. We may therefore properly in_
quire: What were the elements of this crisis and what effective
measures employed by him in meeting its necessities?
Briefly stated, the elements of this crisis were:
1. Ahab’s marriage with Jezebel, the Tyrian princess.
2. The marriage of Jezebel’s daughter with Jehoram, prince
royal of Judah.
3. The consequent unhallowed alliance between Judah and
4. The consequent establishment of Baal worship in both
5. The consequent and extraordinary persecution of the true
religion and its prophets in both kingdoms.
6. The same murderous extinction of the seed royal of David
by Athaliah’s husband, the daughter of Jezebel until one child
alone is left of all the male progeny of David.
7. The consequent eminent hazard of the extinction of the
true religion in the world.

Elijah himself thus expresses the situation: „The children
of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars
and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am
left, and they seek my life to take it away.” It is true, in the
great depression of his mind following his flight from Jezebel,
while under the juniper tree he prayed that he might die, feel_
ing that his life had been a failure, that he exaggerated through
ignorance his extreme loneliness. Some of the prophets had
been saved alive by Obadiah, and the Almighty whose om_
niscience can read the hearts of the people in the most secret
hiding places, assured him that there was a remnant according
to grace of 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. But
he knew nothing of this secret following of Jehovah. His voice
was the only voice in the whole wide world lifted up in favor
of Jehovah, so that with some measure of truth he might well
say: „Alone, alone, alone, one man against the world.” In the
days of Noah the remnant was even smaller than in the days
of Elijah, but there has never been a period since his time
when the true religion was reduced to as few flickering sparks.
After the revolt of the ten tribes under Jeroboam and the
establishment of the dynasty of Omri and the marriage of
Ahab, Ornri’s son, with Jezebel, the Tyrian princess, and the
adoption of her Baal worship in the place of the worship of
Jehovah, the doom of the ten tribes was fixed, and all the)
voices of the prophets could only briefly delay the swiftly com_
ing ruin. One weak woman brought about the fall of the race,
and this strong, cruel woman, Jezebel, could nearly bring about
a second destruction. And when she had succeeded through
her daughter, Athaliah, in establishing the Baal worship in
Judah as well as in Israel, both streams of the national life
became intensely corrupt. We are accustomed to admire the
heroism of any sixteenth century reformer, who dared to lift
his voice against the prevailing religious corruption of Roman_
ism, but in no period of either pagan or papal persecution
have the Christians been reduced to such small numbers and
such scanty influence as in the days of Elijah. Neither Savona_
rola, nor Huss, nor Jerome, nor Prague, nor the Waldenses, nor
Luther, nor Calvin, nor John Knox nor the Dissenters in the
days of the Stuarts nor John Bunyan, nor Spurgeon was ever
subjected to the extreme loneliness that afflicted the heart of
Elijah. It is easy to go with the multitude, or even stand
against the multitude if only a few stalwart friends unflinch_
ingly support us, but when one man has to put himself against
the whole world, the swelling tide of public opinion, the in_
quisition of hate, the devouring power of persecution with no
reserve to fall back on except his own unconquerable spirit;
then when such a man stands like a rock against which the
billows dash themselves in vain, he is a hero indeed. No man
can make such a stand apart from the divine call and support.
In his case, as in the case of all trials of religious heroes, the_
Scripture is fulfilled: „When the enemy comes in like a flood,
the spirit of the Lord lifteth up a standard against him.” In
our admiration of this man’s greatness and in our gratitude for
the redemption wrought through his heroic courage and fidelity,
we should not lose sight of the God_prompted measures em_
ployed by him to effectively stem the encroaching tide of evil.

Briefly speaking, these were:
1. In his meeting with Ahab he startles the irreligious world
with the announcement of a drought of three and a half years,
which should not be broken except at his word, and then as
suddenly as the drop of the curtain hides the arena of a theater
from the sight of the people, he disappears and is lost to public
view until the time comes for the breaking up of the drought.
His name is unknown to history up to this sudden appearance
with this awful denunciation. We know nothing of his father
or his mother, or his kindred, or any of the early stages of his
life. He emerges from total obscurity to stand as the mouth_
piece of Jehovah, and then to be swallowed up into that ob_
scurity for three and a half years more. The ravens knew the
place of his retirement and furnished him food in his solitude,
and a widow in the borders of Jezebel’s home country sheltered
him from human sight. He had said that at his word only
the drought should be broken; he was gone and no one knew
where, and the consuming drought kept up its burning logic of
opposition to idolatry. No soothsayer, no diviner, no rain_
maker, no god of the heathen could even fleck the burning sky
with a spot of cloud. While the ground parched and the water
courses dried up, and all vegetation withered, and even kings
spent their time in finding enough water to support the cattle
of the royal household, well might the world wonder when this
dramatic man would reappear and speak the word for rain to
come. May we not account for Ahab’s worldwide search for
him, by the desire that he would come and break up the drought
by a word, before the nation perished? This measure was ex_
ceedingly effective in stemming the tide of irreligion, and in
destroying public confidence in the powerless heathen gods.
The method of his own nourishment during the famine of
the drought adds much to the character of the test between
opposing deities. Jehovah miraculously provides for his proph_
et. There is nothing too hard for him. He may employ
ravens or widows as instruments. We may not attempt to
shut out a miracle by different vowel pointing of the word
„raven.” The word is „ravens” and not angels, nor merchants,
nor Arabs. These birds probably nested in the caves where
Elijah went, and may have brought the food for their young.
But that conjecture could not meet the Septuagint rendering:
„They brought him bread in the morning and flesh in the eve_
ning.” The God whose spirit assembled the animals in the
ark could influence ravens. Elijah is called the first apostle
to the Gentiles because of his saving sojourn with the widow
of Zarephath. The fact that Jezebel’s own country nourished
the prophet adds emphasis to the test between opposing deities
and as history counts it this widow is higher than Jezebel. The
saving of the widow’s son led to her own salvation: many wid_
ows in Israel perished, but electing love reached out its saving
hand to this widow in Jezebel’s country, as it did again in our
Lord’s day. Jewish tradition represents this restored boy as
becoming a follower of Elijah and identifies him with the
prophet Jonah, the second foreign missionary.
Toward the end of this drought period, when its lessons of
preparation have been well learned, and when messengers had
vainly sought for Elijah throughout the habitable world, he
reappears with all the dramatic power of his first appearance,
and his second meeting with Ahab introduces his next effective
measure of opposition to the irreligious life of his time.
2. He openly challenges Ahab to bring all the prophets
of Baal together to put themselves against him alone in order
to determine which god had the power to break this drought.
The earth had never before seen such a single public test of the
power of opposing deities. Elijah thus puts the case: „And
Elijah came unto all the people and said, How long halt ye
between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if
Baal, then follow him. But the people answered him not a
word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain
a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are four hundred
and fifty men. Let them, therefore give us two bullocks; and
let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces
and lay it on the wood and put no fire under; and I will dress
the other bullock and lay it on wood and put no fire under,
and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the
name of the Lord; and the God that answereth by fire, let him
be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well
spoken.” Thousands of sermons have been preached on these
thrilling words of Elijah. The first one my own boyish mind
can recall was by my own father upon this theme. The demon_
stration of Elijah was complete, and all the people said, „Jeho_
vah, he is God.” In spite of their wickedness they found it im_
possible to blot out from their memories and from the memories
of the race this great demonstration of divine power. And while
the great reformation thus introduced seemed to be short_lived
for these people, yet we, nearly 3,000 years later, feel the im_
press of the triumph of that day. Very rarely in a Bible story
does a man of God indulge in sarcasm. The literature of the
world cannot surpass this mockery of the false prophets of a
false god: „And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked
them and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is musing,
or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he
sleepeth and must be awaked.” Certain heathen authors have
imitated Elijah’s mockery of false gods; for example:
„Jove went yesterday across the ocean to banquet with the
Ethiopians.” – HOMER.
Jove on his couch reclined his awful head,
And Juno slumbered on the golden bed.
„It is no wonder that the temple of Diana was burned; since
she was absent at the time, employed in bringing Alexander
into the world.” – PLUTARCH.
„‘Tis plain that the gods are not at home, and probably have
taken a voyage to attend the feasts of Ethiopia’s blameless
race, for they are in the habit of inviting themselves as guests
to those honest folks.” (Lucian, Testimony of the Ages, p. 307.)
Fire from heaven having attested the truth of Elijah and
demonstrated the falsehood of Baal, the lying prophets were
all slain at the word of Elijah and in the presence of the panic_
stricken Ahab, Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, overlook_
ing the sea, and prayed seven times for rain. What a lesson on
the importunity of prayer, and what a text for another sermon
on the little cloud no larger than a man’s head at first, but
rapidly darkening the heavens, and oh, the rain, the blessed
rain that followed! At the word of Elijah the drought was
broken. Though a man of like passions with ourselves, so great
was his power of prayer, his pleadings attracted and condensed
the clouds of the heavens, and the rain fell in torrents. The

parched earth rejoiced under its downpour, the dying roots of
vegetation revived, and burst forth in blade and bloom and
fruit, and even men were not unmindful in at least their tem_
porary gratitude for the relief that came to assuage their
burning thirst. In every subsequent drought and thirst men re_
member Elijah and pray as Elijah prayed that God might
relieve the suffering world. The lesson is titanic and far_
reaching in its influence. It demonstrates that man’s extreme
need is God’s opportunity. It uncovered to all human sight a
throne of grace approached by human and suffering suppliants.
Hundreds of thousands in the passing ages have Carmel to look
on the sight of those great happenings. They put their feet
where the old altar of Jehovah stood, which Jezebel destroyed,
and Elijah here reconstructed. Even Tacitus, the Roman his_
torian, ages afterward speaks of Garmel’s strange altar. These
same thousands have climbed Carmel’s crest, and marked the
crest where Elijah, looking out over the Mediterranean Sea,
by importunate prayer, called up the cloud.
It is true that at this high tide of this reformation, the daring
and cruel Jezebel affrighted Elijah, and shook for the first and
only time in his history his self_reliant spirit, and drove him in
abject fear to another and distant retirement. But not even Jeze-bel could blot out the lesson. The wilderness has swallowed Elijah like the brook Cherith once hid him from sight. Under the juniper tree he may wish to die. In the cave of Horeb he would hear the howling of the storm, feel the shock of the earthquake, see the devouring fire, and listen again to the still small voice of God. Men may say that Elijah was defeated, that he was thoroughly panic_stricken. He is gone, but he will come again out of the silence of the desert, and the opposition will hear his voice again.
The record of this disappearance of Elijah is more marvel-ous than the first. That despair under the juniper tree; that voice of God: „What doest thou here, Elijah?” that deep sleep; that
angel food in the strength of which he fasted forty days, like

Moses before him and his Lord after him – all in that same desert, – the visit to Sinai, and the voice again: „What doest thou here, Elijah?” the theme of so many sermons. Spurgeon says of himself that when a boy, seeing a deacon in a questionable place, put his finger on his shoulder and startled him with, „What doest thou here, Elijah?”
3. Just as suddenly as on the previous occasion he appears
before Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard, and evokes from the trem_
bling lips of the startled king: „Hast thou found me, 0 mine
enemy?” How grim is his response: „I have found you.” And
then comes the next measure to stem the tide of irreligion. As
an oracle of God he denounced the doom of the house of Ahab.
It shall perish root and branch; man, woman, nor child shall
be left, and Jezebel) though she may array herself in royal ap_
parel and paint her face and attire her head, yet shall the dogs
eat her flesh. The word that had shut up the heavens, the
word that had opened the heavens; that word now pronounces
the downfall of this entire iniquitous house as certain and ir_
revocable. There is not space to rehearse the details of the
execution of this doom. The records show that not a word of
Elijah failed. The whole house of Ahab is blotted out and that
lesson has power today. Even men who mock at God and deny
the supernatural, and wade through blood to attain the goal of
a tyrant’s ambition, yet tremble when they read the record of
the fall of the house of Ahab. The miser, the covetous man
who is an idolater, the individual land grabber, and the cor_
poration thief of national territory may well cherish the expe_
rience of Elijah when in the vineyard of Naboth. The quiver
of Elijah is not yet empty; another shaft is fitted to his bow
of Death.
4. The son of Ahab is on the throne, and he is sick unto
death. He had not forgotten the power of the word of Elijah.
Let all sons of tyrants remember it. There is ever some weak
or broken lattice to cause a fall that brings on the sickness
unto death. And this man would inquire of Baal whether he
would recover, but from out of his obscurity Elijah intercepts

the messenger of inquiry and sends him back with the message
of death. The affrighted man inquires of the messenger the
appearance of the man who sends him this awful message:
„What manner of man was he that came up to meet you and
told you these words?” And they answered him: „He was a
hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about the loins, and
he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite.'” The message was more
impressive than the garb of the one who sent it and both are
always recognizable by tyrants. The unhappy king seeks to
arrest the prophet, but when two companies of fifty men have
been consumed by fire, the man of God appears before the dy_
ing tyrant: „Thus saith Jehovah, forasmuch as thou hast sent
messengers to enquire of Baal_zebub the God of Ekron, is it
because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? there_
fore, thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art
gone up, but shalt surely die.” So he died according to the word
of Jehovah which Elijah had spoken. How significant this ter_
rible lesson! Not even the sick and dying shall inquire of
another God but Jehovah! It was a lesson worthy of associa_
tion with the lessons of the drought and the rain, and the fire
from heaven, and of the vineyard of Naboth. Some men for
a time, may forget this lesson, but mankind as a rule never
forgets it. The oracles of the heathen have been abandoned
to the moles and bats. The lesson of Elijah falls from many
lips since his time, and we hear it thus from the lips of Isaiah:
„And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have
familiar spirits, and unto the wizards that chirp and mutter;
should not a people seek unto their God? On behalf of the liv_
ing should they seek unto the dead? To the law and to the
testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is be_
cause there is no light in them.” But the effective measures of
Elijah have not reached their climax. The leaven of the Baal
worship had spread through Jezebel’s daughter to the neighbor_
ing kingdom of Judah, and while Elijah’s mission was to Israel,
or to the ten tribes, yet he has a measure for the kindred na_
5. And this is his letter to Jehoram, king of Judah, the hus_
band of Jezebel’s daughter. We have known Elijah as a man
of deeds and of mighty words. We have not known him as a
writer, but we do know that in this one case where he could not
appear in person before the king of Judah, he wrote a letter,
which, though not delivered until after his going away, yet
found its object and was a posthumous bolt of lightning. This
is the letter: „And there came a writing to him from Elijah the
prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy
father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehosha_
phat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah; but
hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made
Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like
to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab; and also hast slain thy
brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself:
behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people,
and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: and thou
shalt have great sickness by disease of the bowels, until thy
bowels fall out by reason of the sickness, day by day.” This
word was as much a missive of death as the word to Ahaziah,
and is a demonstration that Elijah, though alone against the
world, is still triumphant in the great war against the house
of Ahab and the Baal worship. Ahab, Jezebel, Ahaziah, and
Jehoram, are gone. Jezebel’s daughter and all the other offend_
ers will follow later.
6. The sixth measure, God_prompted, which Elijah employed was even more powerful than the preceding ones. It is the measure of perpetuity. He is already informed that the time
is at hand when he must leave the earth, and before leaving
he must take steps to provide for the full prosecution of his
work. This measure consists of a triple anointment. He anoints
Elisha to be his own successor. He anoints Hazael, king of
Syria, to afflict the idolatrous Israelites, and he anoints Jehu,
king of Israel, to be his executor of all the remnants of the
house of Ahab, so that his translation from this world to the
one above does not put a stop to the effectiveness of the re_
demption of his race, and to the growth of the true religion.
It seems to me however great things one may achieve in the
short time of his earthly life, they cannot possibly be equal in
effectiveness to those measures which provide for the successors and the perpetuity of the good work when one is gone. Only those who can leave behind them others to take up the work where they left it and who, through organizing power, can provide for an endless succession of workers – only these are the great men of the world. It matters little if Christ is crucified if he left apostles and if these were impowered to institute a larger ministry, so that Paul might commit his work to Timothy, and Timothy in turn to faithful men after him, and thus secure a perpetuity of ministers. Whitefield was a great orator in his day, but his day passed. Wesley was a great organizer, and through his organization he lived long after Whitefield passed away.
7. Elijah has yet one arrow in his quiver; he will not die at
all; God will translate him. Not even the sons of the prophets
can find him when they search for him. No spot on earth holds
his remains; no tombstone marks his resting place, and thus we
come to his last effective measure.
He so went away as to create an expectation of his return.
The expectation is voiced in these words of Malachi, which is
the closing paragraph of the Old Testament: „Behold, I will
send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the
fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their
fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
When we come to the New Testament, the angel thus car_
ries on the closing thought of the Old Testament to Zacharias,
the father of John the Baptist: „For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” The words of our Lord give the interpretation of Malachi’s prophecy and of the angelic message to Zacharias. Concerning John the Baptist, Jesus said, „And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah which was to come.” „And they asked him saying, Why say the Scribes that Elijah must first come? And he answered and told them, Elijah verily cometh first, and restoreth all things, and how it is written of the son of man, that he must suffer many things and be set at naught. But I say unto you, that Elijah is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”
We have thus found the elements of the crisis in Elijah’s time to be:
(1) Ahab’s marriage with Jezebel, the Tyrian princess.
(2) The marriage of Jezebel’s daughter with Jehoram, prince royal of Judah.
(3) The consequent unhallowed alliance between Israel and Judah.
(4) The consequent establishment of Baal worship in both
(5) The consequent and extraordinary persecution of the
true religion and its prophets in both kingdoms.
(6) The murderous extinction of the seed royal of David by
Athaliah, the daughter of Jezebel, until one child alone is left
of all the male progeny of David.
(7) The consequent imminent hazard of the true religion
and its prophets in the world.
And we have found Elijah’s effective measures of resistance
to be:
(1) The sending of the drought at his first meeting with

(2) The triumph over the prophets of Baal on Mount Car_
mel, and the breaking of the drought.
(3) His confronting Ahab in the stolen vineyard of Naboth
and denouncing the doom of all his house.
(4) His interception of the message of Ahaziah, the son of
Ahab, and his denunciation of the doom of the wicked king.
(5) His letter to Jehoram, king of Judah.
(6) His appointment of successors to carry on his work.
(7) His departure from the earth in such a way as to create
an expectation of his return in any similar crisis in the world’s
Such a man not only left his impress in Jewish traditions, but supplied some of the most important New Testament lessons. The most notable of these are the following:
Christ’s lesson from Elijah’s time in his sermon at Nazareth:
„And he said, Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in
his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were
in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up
three years and six months, when great famine was throughout
all the land) but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto
Sarepta, a city near Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.”
This important lesson itself has been the theme of many a
timely sermon. The lesson is one of extreme sadness. It car_
ries back the mind to that awful drought when the stock were
suffering, and the poor widows suffering most of all. It estab_
lishes the truth that any starving, dying woman of Israel could
have found relief in an appeal to God’s prophet, but only a
far_off stranger in Jezebel’s country had the faith to make the
appeal and be saved from distress.
The next great lesson is the reappearance of Elijah at
Christ’s transfiguration, where, with Moses, he appears in
glory, and communes with the great Redeemer concerning his
approaching death at Jerusalem (Matt. 17:34). So that Elijah
not only fulfilled the public expectation in coming again in the
person of John the Baptist, who had his spirit and his power,
but he comes in his own person from the high courts of heaven
to confer with our Lord concerning his expiatory death. What
a lesson is this when the living apostles are protesting against
his death; when the murderers are expecting his death to cut
off his influence and stop the progress of his principles I From
the realms of the invisible world, the great law giver and the
great prophet appear to find in that death the world’s only hope
of salvation.
Another important New Testament lesson is Paul’s use of
the remnant of 7,000 in Elijah’s day in discussing the great
doctrine of „Election” (Rom. 11:2). And what a lesson of com_
fort this is when we feel our isolation and loneliness; when the
reformers in the ages of corruption become discouraged, to
look back to Elijah, and see him under the juniper tree wishing
he might die in the thought that his life was a failure, and hear
the words of God: „I have reserved for myself seven thousand
that have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the times of great
moral and spiritual corruption we know that there is hidden
away, known only to the omniscient sight, many men and wom_
en true to what is right, though the great centers of influence
become corrupt and though the great leaders turn away from
the simple truth as it is in Jesus.
Another important lesson is given by James the brother of
our Lord: „Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he
prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the
earth by the space of three years and six months.” What a les_
son is here for human feebleness and doubt as to the power of
prayer, and how much does the world need this lesson! Partic_
ularly is it helpful just now when it has become fashionable
among the literary great to. decry the power of prayer, when
unsanctified science, falsely so_called, rebukes the helpless
when they sink down on bended knee in dire extremities, say_
ing, „It is vain to pray: all things move according to natural
law. It is useless to cry unto God. What profit shall we have
if we pray unto him?”
One other New Testament lesson which I refer to Elijah’s
time, is very sweet. We find the record of it in Matthew 10:41_
42. Jesus had been saying that whosoever giveth even a cup
of cold water to a disciple in the name of a disciple shall receive
a disciple’s reward, or whosoever shall receive a prophet in the
name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. There
seems to be allusion to the words of Elijah addressed to the
widow of Sarepta, words spoken in times of famine and drought
and thirst: „And give me, I pray thee, a cup of cold water.”
This lesson speaks to the lowliest and the poorest, those who
have the least, and shows the mercy and grace of God in per_
mitting the children of poverty even to find a blessing in help_
ing somewhat the cause of the blessed God.
So that whether we consider the crisis of this man’s time or
the effective measures adopted by him to stem the tide of re_
ligious corruption, or the New Testament lessons borrowed
from the record of his life, or consider his period as an inex_
haustible mine for digging up precious themes of pulpit power,
we find Elijah and his times as supremely worthy of human
study in any age. Such are some of the lessons to be learned
from the man who stood alone against the world.

1. What is the theme and text of this lesson?
2. How do you account for the ineffaceable impress on the imagina_
tion of succeeding generations made by the life of Elijah?
3. Cite some of the traditions suggested by his life.
4. What is the relation of this life to homiletics and what books of
Scripture furnish the material for the life of Elijah?
5. What proves that the abiding interest in Elijah is not due ex_
clusively to the dramatic character of that life appealing to the imagination?
6. Give briefly the elements of the world crisis in his time,
7. How does Elijah himself express the situation?
8. How does Jehovah correct the exaggeration of this statement due
to ignorance and morbid depression of mind?
9. Cite instances, apart from Jezebel’s case, of great harm coming
from a woman’s influence, and then cite instances of great good resulting from a woman’s influence.
10. „There is a Jewish proverb: „When the tale of brick is doubled,
then cornea Moses.” What scripture embodies the thought?
11. What was Elijah’s first measure of meeting the world crisis and
how did it fairly test the opposing religions and deities?
12. Why did Ahab send all over the world to find Elijah?
13. How and where did Elijah hide himself during the three and a half
years of the drought and how was he nourished?
14. Was his food supply at the brook Cherith brought by angels,
Arabs, or birds?
15. What poor woman of this story eclipses Jezebel, and how did this
incident add emphasis to the test between opposing deities?
16. Why is Elijah called the first apostle to the Gentiles?
17. What is the proof that this heathen woman was saved by Elijah’s
18. What is the Jewish traditions about this woman’s son?
19. What was Elijah’s second test?
20. What is the meaning of the word „bait” in „How long halt ye be_
tween two opinions?”
21. What heathen authors have imitated Elijah’s sarcasm and mock_
ery of a false god?
22. How did Jezebel turn the tables on Elijah?
23. Have you read Henry Ward Beecher’s sermon on this panic of
24. What great lesson of the juniper tree and the cave in Horeb?
25. What was the third measure of Elijah?
26. What were the great lessons from it?
27. What was the fourth measure?
28. And what was its lesson?
29. What was the fifth measure and its lesson?
30. What was the sixth?
31. What was the seventh and last?
32. Restate the seven elements of the crisis and the seven measures
33. Cite five New Testament lessons from his life.

& Kings 2:13 to 13:21; 2 Chronicles 21:1_20

For the sake of unity, this chapter, like the one on Elijah,
will be confined to a single person, Elisha, who was the minis_
ter, the disciple, and the successor of the prophet Elijah. „Min_
ister” means an attendant who serves another – generally a
younger man accompanying and helping an older man. A pas_
sage illustrating this service is 2 Kings 3:11: „Elisha, who
poured water on the hands of Elijah.” We may here recall a
situation when no wash basin was convenient, and the water
was poured on our hands for our morning ablutions. A cor_
responding New Testament passage is Acts 13:5: „Paul and
Barnabas had John Mark to their minister,” that is, the young
man, John Mark, attended the two older preachers, and ren_
dered what service he could. Elisha was also a disciple of Eli_
jah. A disciple is a student studying under a teacher. In the
Latin we call the teacher magister. Elijah was Elisha’s teacher
in holy things. Then Elisha was a successor to Elijah. Elijah
held the great office of prophet to Israel, and in view of his
speedy departure, God told him to anoint Elisha to be his suc_
cessor, that is, successor as prophet to the ten tribes.
About four years before the death of Ahab, 800 B.C., Elijah,
acting under a commission from God, found Elisha plowing,
and the record says, „with twelve yoke of oxen.” I heard a
cowman once say that it was sufficient evidence of a man’s fit_
ness to preach when he could plow twelve yoke of oxen and not
swear. But the text may mean that Elisha himself plowed with
one yoke, and superintended eleven other plowmen. Anyhow,
Elijah approached him and dropped his mantle around him.
That was a symbolic action, signifying, “When I pass away

you must take my mantle and be my successor.” Elisha asked
permission to attend to a few household affairs. He called
together all the family, and announced that God had called
him to a work so life_filling he must give up the farm life and
devote himself to the higher business. To symbolize the great
change in vocation he killed his own yoke of oxen and roasted
them with his implements of husbandry; and had a feast of
the family to celebrate his going into the ministry. It is a great
thing when the preacher knows how to burn the bridges behind
him, and when the family of the preacher recognizes the ful_
ness and completeness of the call to the service of God.
The lesson of this and other calls is that no man can antici_
pate whom God will call to be his preacher. He called this man
from the plow handles. He called Amos from the gathering of
sycomore fruit; he called Matthew from the receipt of custom;
he called the fishermen from their nets; he called a doctor in
the person of Luke. We cannot foretell; the whole matter must
be left to God and to God alone, for he alone may put a man.
into the ministry. I heard Dr. Broadus preach a great sermon
on that once: „I thank Christ Jesus, my Lord, for that he hath
enabled me and counted me faithful, putting me into this minis_
try, who was before a blasphemer.”
Elijah served as a prophet fifty_five years. That is a long
ministry. There were six kings of Israel before he passed away,
as follows: Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and
Joash. There were five sovereigns of Judah, to wit: Jehosha_
phat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah (this one a woman) and Jo_
ash. Athaliah was queen by usurpation.
God said to Elijah, „Anoint Elisha to be thy successor;
anoint Jehu to be king of Israel, and anoint Hazael to be king
of Syria.” Now here were two men God_appointed to the posi_
tion of king, as this man was to the position of prophet, and we
distinguish them in this way: It does not follow that because
the providence of God makes a man to be king, that the man
is conscious of his divine call, like the one who is called to be
a preacher. For instance, he says, „I called Cyrus to do what I
wanted done: I know him, though he does not know me.” The
lesson is that God’s rule is supreme over all offices. Even the
most wicked are overruled to serve his general purposes in the
government of the world.
The biblical material for a sketch of Elisha’s life is I Kings
19:16 to 2 Kings 13:21. Elisha means, „God the Saviour.” The
Greek form is Elisaios; we find it in the Greek text of Luke
4:27, where our Lord says, „There were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elisaios.” „Elijah” is Hebrew, and „Elias” is
the corresponding Greek word; „Elisha” is Hebrew, and „Eli_
saios” is the corresponding Greek form.
We will now distinguish between the work of Elijah and
Elisha, giving some likenesses and some unlikenesses. In the
chapter on Elijah attention has already been called to the one
great unlikeness, viz: that Elijah did not live in public sight;
he appeared only occasionally for a very short time. Elisha’s
whole life was in the sight of the public; he had a residence in
the city of Samaria, and a residence at Gilgal; he was con_
tinually passing from one theological seminary to another; he
was in the palaces of the kings, and they always knew where
to find him. He had a great deal to do with the home life of
the people, with the public life of the people and with the gov_
ernmental life of the people. There were some points of likeness
in their work, so obvious I need not now stop to enumerate
them. Elijah’s life was more ascetic, and his ministry was main_
ly a ministry of judgment, while Elisha’s was one of mercy.
The New Testament likenesses of these two prophets are as
follows: Elijah corresponds to John the Baptist, and Elisha’s
ministry is very much like the ministry of Jesus in many re_
There were many schools of the prophets in the days of Eli_
jah and Elisha. Commencing with Jericho we have one; the
next was at Bethel; the third at Gilgal – not the Gilgal near
Jericho but the one in the hill country of Ephraim – and there
was one at Mount Carmel. These stretched across the whole
width of the country – four theological seminaries. The history
shows us that Elijah, just before his translation, visited every
one of them in order, and that Elisha, as soon as Elijah was
translated, visited the same ones in reverse order, and there 13
one passage in the text that tells us that he was continually
doing this.
I think the greatest work of Elisha’s life was this instruction
work; it was the most far_reaching; it provided a great number
of men to take up the work after he passed away. Indeed the
schools of the prophets were the great bulwarks of the kingdom
of God for 500 years during the Hebrew monarchy. We cannot
put the finger on a reformation, except one, in that five hundred
years that the prophets did not start. One priest carried on a
reformation – we will come to it later. But the historians, the
poets, the orators, the reformers, and the revivalists, all came
from the prophets. Every book in the Bible is written by a
man that had the prophetic spirit. Elisha was the voice of God
to the conscience of the kings and the people, and when we
study the details of his life we will see that as the government
heard and obeyed Elisha it prospered, and as it went against
his counsel it met disaster.
We have two beautiful stories that show his work in the
homes. One of them is the greatest lesson on hospitality that
I know of in the Bible. A wealthy family lived right on the
path between the Gilgal seminary and the Mount Carmel semi_
nary. The woman of the house called her husband’s attention
to the fact that the man of God, Elisha, was continually passing
to and fro by their house; that he was a good man, and that
they should build a little chamber on the wall to be the proph_
et’s chamber. „We will put a little table in it, and a chair, and
a bed, and we will say to him, Let this be your home when you
.are passing through.” Elisha was very much impressed with
this woman’s thoughtfulness, and the reason for it. He asked
her what he could do for her. But she lived among her own
people, wanted no favor from the king nor the general of the
army. Elisha’s servant suggested that she was childless, so he
prophesied to her that within a year she would be the mother
of a son. The son was born and grew up to be a bright boy, and,
like other boys, followed his father to the field. One hot day
when they were reaping – and it was very hot in reaping time
over there – he had a sunstroke and said, „My head! My head!”
The father told his servant to take him to his mother – as usual,
let a child get sick and the daddy is sure to say, „Take him to
his mother.” I don’t know what would become of the children
if the mothers did not take care of them when they are sick.
But the boy died. The woman had a beast saddled and went
to the seminary at Mount Carmel. She knew Elisha was there
for he had not passed back. It was a very touching story. Any_
how, Elisha restored the boy to life, and to show how it lin_
gered in his mind, years afterward he sent word to her that
there would be a famine of seven years, and she had better mi_
grate until the famine was over. She went away for seven
years, and when she came back a land_grabber had captured
her home and her inheritance. She appealed the case to Elisha,
and Elisha appealed the case to the king, and then the kin~
said, „Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha
hath done.” When he had heard the full story of this man’s
work he said, „Let this woman have her home back again, and
interest for all the time it has been used by another.” This is
a very sweet story of family life.
There is another story. One of the „theologs” – 1 do not
know how young he was, for he had married and had children
– the famine pressed so debt was incurred, and they had a law
then – we find it in the Mosaic code – that they might make a
bondman of the one who would not pay his debts. The wife of
this „theolog” came to Elisha and said, „My husband is one
of the prophets; the famine has brought very hard times, and
my boys are about to be enslaved because we cannot pay the
debt.” Then he wrought the miracle that we will consider a
little later, and provided for the payment of the debt of that
wife of the prophet and for the sustenance of them until the
famine passed away.
These two stories show how this man in going through the
country affected the family life of the people; there may have
been hundreds of others. I want to say that I have traveled
around a good deal in my days, over every county in this state.
It may be God’s particular providence, but I have never been
anywhere that I did not find good people. In the retrospect of
every trip of my life there is a precious memory of godly men
that I met on the trip. I found one in the brush in Parker
County, where it looked like a „razor_back” hog could not
make a living, and they were very poor. I was on my way to
an association, and must needs pass through this jungle, and
stopped about noon at a small house in the brush, where I re_
ceived the kindest hospitality in my life. They were God’s
children. They fixed the best they had to eat, and it was good,
too – the best sausage I ever did eat. So this work of Elisha
among the families pleases me. I have been over such ground,
and I do know that the preacher who is unable to find good,
homes and good people, and who is unable to leave a blessing
behind him in the homes, is a very poor preacher. I have been
entertained by the great governors of the state and the generals
of armies, but I have never enjoyed any hospitality anywhere
more precious than in that log cabin in the jungle.
The next great work of Elisha was the miracles wrought by
him. There were two miracles of judgment. One was when he
cursed the lads of Bethel – that place of idolatry – and turned
two she_bears loose that tore up about forty of them. That is
one judgment) and I will discuss that in the next chapter. Just
now I am simply outlining the man’s whole life for the sake
of unity.
The second miracle of judgment was the inflicting on Gehazi the leprosy of Naaman. The rest of his miracles were miracles of patriotism or of mercy. The following is a list (not of every one, for every time he prophesied it was a miracle): 2 Kings 2:14 tells us that he divided the Jordan with the mantle of
Elijah; 2 Kings 2:19, that he healed the bad springs of Jericho,
the water that made the people sick and made the land barren,
which was evidently a miracle of mercy. The third miracle re_
corded is in 2 Kings 2:23, his sending of the she_bears (referred
to above) ; the fourth is recorded in 2 Kings 3:16, the miracle
of the waters. Three armies led by three kings were in the
mountains of Edom, on their way to attack Moab. There was
no water, and they were about to perish, and they appealed to
Elisha. He told them to go out to the dry torrent bed and dig
trenches saying, „To_morrow all of those trenches will be full
of water, and you won’t see a cloud nor hear it thunder.” It
was a miracle in the sense that he foresaw how that water
would come from rain in the mountains. I have seen that very
thing happen. Away off in the mountains there may be rain –
one can’t see it nor hear it from where he is in the valley. The
river bed is as dry as a powder horn, and it looks as if there
never will be any rain. I was standing in a river bed in West
Texas once, heard a roaring, looked up and saw a wave coming
down that looked to me to be about ten feet high – the first
wave – and it was carrying rocks before it that seemed as big
as a house, and rolling them just as one would roll a marble..
So his miracle consisted in his knowledge of that storm which
they could not see nor hear. If they had not dug the trenches
they would have still had no water for a mountain torrent is
very swift to fall. In that place where I was, in fifteen minutes
there was a river, and in two or three hours it had all passed
away. But the trenches of Elisha were filled from the passing
The fifth miracle is recorded in 2 Kings 4:2_7, the multiply_
ing of the widow’s oil, that prophet’s wife that I have already
referred to. The sixth miracle is recorded in 2 Kings 4:8_37,
first the giving and then the restoring to life of the son of the
Shunamite. The seventh is given in 2 Kings 4:38, the healing
of the poisonous porridge: „Ah, man of God! there is death in
the pot,” or „theological seminaries and wild gourds.”
The eighth miracle is found in 2 Kings 5:1_4, the multiplying
of the twenty loaves so as to feed 100 men. The ninth, 2 Kings
5:1_4, the healing of Naaman’s leprosy, and the tenth, 2 Kings
5:26_27, the inflicting on Gehazi the leprosy of which Naaman
was healed.
The eleventh miracle is found in 2 Kings 6:1_7, his making
the ax to swim. One of the prophets borrowed an ax to increase
the quarters; the seminary was growing and the place was too
straight for them, and they had to enlarge it. They did not
have axes enough, and one of them borrowed an ax. In going
down to the stream to cut the wood, the head of the ax slipped
off and fell into the water – and there is a text: „Alas, my mas_
ter, for it was borrowed.” The miracle in this case was his
suspension of the law of gravity, and making that ax head to
swim, so that the man who lost it could just reach out and get
Twelfth, 2 Kings 6:8_12, the revealing of the secret thought
of the Syrian king, even the thoughts of his bedchamber. No
matter what, at night, the Syrian king thought out for the next
day, Elisha knew it by the time he thought it, and would safe_
guard the attack at that point.
Thirteenth, 2 Kings 6:15, his giving vision to his doubtful
servant when the great host came to capture them. The servant
was scared. Elisha said, „Open this young man’s eyes, and let
him see that they who are for us are more than those who are
against us.” What a text! His eyes were opened, and he saw
that hilltop guarded with the chariots of God and his angels.
We need these eye openers when we get scared.
Fourteenth, the blinding of that Syrian host that came to
take him. He took them and prayed to the Lord to open their
eyes again. An Irishman reported at the first battle of Manas_
seh, thus: „I surrounded six Yankees and captured them.”

Well, Elisha surrounded a little army and led them into cap_
Fifteenth, 2 Kings 7:6, a mighty host of Syrians was be_
sieging Samaria, until the women were eating their own chil_
dren, the famine was so great. Elisha took the case to God,
and that night, right over the Syrian camp was heard the sound
of bugles and shouting, and the racing of chariots, and it scared
them nearly to death. They thought a great army had been
brought up, and a panic seized them, as a stampede seizes a
herd of cattle, and they fled. They left their tents and their
baggage: their provisions, their jewels, and the further they
went the more things they dropped, all the way to the Jordan
River, until they left a trail behind them of the cast_off in_
cumbrances. The word „panic” comes from the heathen god,
„Pan,” and the conception is that these sudden demoralizations
must come from deity. I once saw sixteen steers put an army
of 4,000 to flight, and I was one of the men. We were in a lane
with a high fence on one side and a bayou on the other side,
and suddenly, up the lane we heard the most awful clatter, and
saw the biggest cloud of dust, and one of the men shouted, „The
cavalry is on us! The cavalry is on us!” and without thinking
everybody got scared. A lot of the men were found standing
in the bayou up to their necks, others had gone over the fence
and clear across the field without stopping. I did not get that
far, but I got over the fence.
Sixteenth, 2 Kings 8:2_6, the foreseeing and foretelling of
the seven years of famine.
Seventeenth, 2 Kings 8:11, the revelation of the very heart
of Hazael to himself. He did not believe himself to be so bad
a man. Elisha just looked at him and commenced weeping.
Hazael could not understand. Elisha says, „I see how you are
going to sweep over my country with fire and sword; I see the
children that you will slay; I see the bloody trail behind you.”
Hazael says, „Am I a dog, that I should do these things?” But
Elisha under inspiration read the real man) and saw what there
was in the man. One of the best sermons that I ever heard was
by a distinguished English clergyman on this subject.
Eighteenth, 2 Kings 13:14, his dying prophecy.
Nineteenth, the miracle from his bones after he was buried.
We will discuss that more particularly later.
We have thus seen his great teaching work, his relation to the government, and his miracles.
Now, let us consider some of his miracles more particularly.
The Romanists misuse the miracle of the bones of Elisha,
and that passage in Acts 19:11_12, where Paul sent out hand_
kerchiefs and aprons, and miracles were wrought by them. On
these two passages they found all their teachings of the relics
of the saints, attributing miraculous power to a bit of the cross,
and they have splinters enough of that „true cross” now scat_
tered about to make a forest of crosses. In New Orleans an’
auctioneer said, „Today I have sold to seventeen men the can_
non ball that killed Sir Edward Packenham.” The greatest
superstition and fraud of the ages is the Romanist theory of the
miracle working power of the reputed relics of the saints.
Some of Elisha’s miracles were like some of our Lord’s. The
enlargement of the twenty loaves to suffice for 100 men reminds us of two miracles of our Lord, and his curing a case of leprosy reminds us of many miracles of our Lord like that.
In the Bible, miracles are always numerous in the great re_
ligious crises, where credentials are needed for God’s people,
such as the great series of miracles in Egypt by Moses, the
series of miracles in the days of Elisha and the miracles in the
days of our Lord.
The greatest of Elisha’s work is his teaching work, greater
than his work in relation to the government, his work in the
families, or his miracles. I think the more far_reaching power
of his work was in his teaching. There were spoken similar
words at the exodus of Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah went
up, Elisha said, „My Father! My Father! The chariots of ls_
rael and the horsemen thereof!” The same words are used
when Elisha died. What does it mean? It pays the greatest
compliment to the departed: that they alone were worth more
to Israel than all its chariots, and its cavalry; that they were
the real defenders of the nation.
At one point his work touched the Southern Kingdom, viz:
When Moab was invaded, and he wrought that miracle of the
waters, filled the trenches and supplied the thirsty armies. Je_
hoshaphat, the king of Judah was along, and for his sake Elisha
saved them.
There are many great pulpit themes in connection with Eli_
sha’s history. I suggest merely a few: First, „Let a double
portion of thy spirit be upon me” – that was his prayer when
Elijah was leaving him; second, „The chariots of Israel and
the horsemen thereof”; third, when he came to the Jordan he
did not say, „Where is Elijah?” but he smote the Jordan and
said, „Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” for it made no dif_
ference if Elijah was gone, God was there yet; fourth, „The
oil stayed” not as long as the woman has a vessel to put it in;
fifth, the little chamber on the wall; sixth, „Ah, man of God!
There is death in the pot” – or „theological seminaries and wild
gourds” – radical criticism, for instance – there is death in the
pot whenever preachers are fed on that sort of food; seventh,
„Is it well with thy husband?” „Is it well?” and I will have fre_
quently commenced a meeting with that text; eighth, Elisha’s
staff in the hands of Gehazi, who was an unworthy man and
the unworthy cannot wield the staff of the prophets; ninth,
„Alas, my master, it was borrowed!”; tenth, the Growing Semi_
nary – „The place is too straight for us”; eleventh, „Make this
valley full of trenches,” that is, the Lord will send the water,
but there is something for us to do; let us have a place for it
when it comes; twelfth, the secret thoughts of the bedchamber
are known to God; thirteenth, „They that be with us are more
than those that be against us”; fourteenth, „Tell me, I pray
thee, all the great works done by Elisha.”
These are just a few in the great mine of Elijah or Elisha
where we may dig down for sermons. The sermons ought to be
full of meat; that is why we preach – to feed the hungry. We
should let our buckets down often into the well of salvation,
for we cannot lower the well, and we may draw up a fresh
sermon every Sunday. We should not keep on preaching the
same sermon; it is first a dinner roast, then we give it cold for
supper, then hash its fragments for breakfast, and make soup
out of the bones for the next dinner, and next time we hold it
over the pot and boil the shadow, and so the diet gets thinner
and thinner. Let’s get a fresh one every time.

1. Who was Elisha?
2. What is the meaning of „minister to Elijah”? Illustrate and give
corresponding passage in the New Testament.
3. What is the meaning of „Elisha, a disciple of Elijah”?
4. What is the meaning of „Elisha, a successor to Elijah”?
5. Give the date, author, manner, and nature of Elisha’s call, his
response and how he celebrated the event.
6. What is the lesson of this and other calls? Illustrate.
7. How long his prophetic term of office and what kings of Israel and
Judah were his contemporaries?
8. What secular calls accompanied his, how do you distinguish be- tween his and the call of the others and what is the lesson therefrom?
9. What is the biblical material for a sketch of Elisha’s life?
10. What is the meaning of his name?
11. What is the Greek and Hebrew forms of his name? Give other
12. What likenesses and unlikenesses of the work of Elijah and Elisha?
13. What New Testament likenesses of these two prophets?
14. How many schools of the prophets in the days of Elijah and Eli_
eja, and where were they located ?
15. What was Elisha’s great teaching work in the seminaries? Discuss.
16. What was Elisha’s part in governmental affairs?
17. What of his work in the families? Illustrate.
18. What two classes of his miracles and what miracles of each class?
19. What is the Romanist misuse of the miracle of Elisha’s bones and
Acts 19:11_12?
20. What miracles were like some of our Lord’s?
21. When and why were Bible miracles numerous?
22. Which of Elisha’s works was the greatest?
23. What words spoken at the exodus of Elijah and Elisha and what
their meaning?
24. At what point did Elisha’s work touch the Southern Kingdom?
25. What New Testament lesson from the life of Elisha?
26. Give several pulpit themes from this section not given by the
27. What is the author’s exhortation relative to preaching growing out
of this discussion of Elisha?


The title of this chapter is a New Testament text for an Old
Testament discussion. For the sake of unity the last two chap_
ters were devoted exclusively to Elijah and Elisha. It is the
purpose of this discussion to call attention to some matters
worthy of note that could not very well be incorporated in
those personal matters, and yet should not be omitted alto_
It is true, however, that the heart of the history is in the lives
of these two great prophets of the Northern Kingdom. In bring_
ing up the record we will follow the chronological order of the
scriptures calling for exposition.
Jehoshaphat’s Shipping Alliance with Ahaziah. We have
two accounts of this: first, in I Kings 22:47_49, and second, in
2 Chronicles 20:35_37. I wish to explain, first of all, the locali_
ty of certain places named in these accounts. Tarshish, as a
place, is in Spain. About that there can be no question. About
Ophir, no man can be so confident. There was an Ophir in the
southern part of Arabia; a man named Ophir settled there, but
I do not think that to be the Ophir of this section. The Ophir
referred to here is distinguished for the abundance and fine
quality of its gold. Several books in the Bible refer to the ex_
cellency of „the gold of Ophir,” and to the abundance of it.
Quite a number of distinguished scholars would locate it in the
eastern part of Africa. Some others would locate it in India,
and still others as the Arabian Ophir. My own opinion is, and
I give it as more than probable, that the southeastern coast of
Africa is the right place for Ophir. Many traditions put it
there, the romance of Rider Haggard, „King Solomon’s Mines,”
follows the traditions. The now well_known conditions of the
Transvaal would meet the case in some respects.
Ezion_geber is a seaport at the head of the Gulf of Akaba,
which is a projection of the Red Sea. What is here attempted
by these men is to re_establish the famous commerce of Solo_
mon. I cite the passages in the history of Solomon that tell
about this commerce. In I Kings 9:26 we have this record:
„And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion_geber,
which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land
of Edom. And Hiram (king of Tyre) sent in the navy his serv_
ants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants
of Solomon. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence
gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King
Solomon.” Now, I Kings 10:11 reads: „And the navy also
of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from
Ophir great plenty of Almug trees and precious stones.” This
„almug_trees” is supposed to be the famous sweet_scented
sandalwood. The precious stones would agree particularly
with the diamond mines at Kimberly in the Transvaal.
Then, 10:22 reads: „For the king had at sea a navy of Tar_
shish with the navy of Hiram: Once every three years came the
navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes,
and peacocks.” The ivory and apes would fit very well with
the African coast, but we would have to go to India to get the
spices, which are mentioned elsewhere, and the peacocks. A
three years’ voyage for this traffic seems to forbid the near_by
Arabian Ophir, and does make it reasonable that the merchant
fleet touched many points – Arabia, Africa, and the East In_
dies. It is, therefore, not necessary to find one place notable
for all these products – gold, jewels, sandalwood, ivory, apes,
spices, and peacocks. Solomon, then, established as his only
seaport on the south Ezion_geber, a navy, manned partly by
experienced seamen of Tyre, and these ships would make a
voyage every three years. That is a long voyage and they

might well go to Africa and to India to get these varied prod_
ucts, some at one point and some at another.
Now Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah (king of Israel) made an al_
liance to re_establish that commerce. The first difficulty, how_
ever, is that the Chronicles account says that these ships were
to go to Tarshish, and the Kings account says that they were
ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir. My explanation of that dif_
ficulty is this: It is quite evident that no navy established at
Ezion_geber would try to reach Spain by circumnavigating Af_
rica, when it would be so much easier to go from Joppa, Tyre,
or Sidon over the Mediterranean Sea to Spain. „Tarshish
ships” refers, not to the destination of the ships, but to the kind
of ships, that is, the trade of the Mediterranean had given that
name to a kind of merchant vessel, called „Ships of Tarshish.”
And the ships built for the Tarshish trade, as the name „ln_
dianman” was rather loosely applied to certain great English
and Dutch merchant vessels. It is an error in the text of
Chronicles that these ships were to go to Tarshish. They
were Tarshish ships, that is, built after the model of Tarshish
ships, but these ships were built at Ezion_geber for trade with
Ophir, Africa, and India.
Verse 47 of the Kings account needs explanation: „And
there was no king in Edom; a deputy was king.” The relevan_
cy of that verse is very pointed. If Edom had been free and
had its own king, inasmuch as Ezion_geber was in Edom, Judah
never could have gone there to build a navy. But Edom at this
time was subject to Judah, and a Judean deputy ruled over it.
That explains why they could come to Ezion_geber.
One other matter needs explanation. The account in Kings
says, „Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat,
Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehosh_
aphat would not.” Ahaziah attributed the shipwreck of that
fleet to the incompentency of the Judean seamen. He did not
believe that there would have been a shipwreck if he had been
allowed to furnish experienced mariners, as Hiram did. So
Kings gives us what seems to be the human account of that
shipwreck, viz: the incompetency of the mariners; but Chroni_
cles gives us the divine account, thus: „Because thou hast
joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath destroyed thy
works. And the ships were broken.” How often do we see these
two things: the human explanation of the thing, and the divine
explanation of the same thing. Ahaziah had no true conception
of God, and he would at once attribute that shipwreck to hu_
man incompetency, but Jehoshaphat knew better; he knew that
shipwreck came because he had done wickedly in keeping up
this alliance with the idolatrous kings of the ten tribes.

Let us consider several important matters in connection with
the translation of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:1_18. First, why the course
followed by Elijah? Why does he go from Carmel to Gilgal
and try to leave Elisha there, and from Gilgal to Bethel and try
to leave Elisha there, and from Bethel to Jericho and try to
leave Elisha there? The explanation is that the old prophet,
having been warned of God that his ministry was ended and
that the time of his exodus was at hand, wished to revisit in
succession all of these seminaries. These were his stopping
places, and he goes from one seminary to another. It must
have been a very solemn thing for each of these schools of the
prophets, when Elisha and Elijah came up to them, for by the
inspiration of God as we see from the record, each school of the
prophets knew what was going to happen. At two different
places they say to Elisha, „Do you know that your master will
be taken away to_day?” Now, the same Spirit of God that
notified Elijah that his time of departure was at hand, also
notified Elisha, also notified each school of the prophets; they
But why keep saying to Elisha, „You stay here at Gilgal;
the Lord hath sent me to Bethel,” and, „You stay here at Beth_
el; the Lord hath sent me to Jericho,” and „You stay here at
Jericho; the Lord hath sent me to the Jordan”? It was a test
of the faith of Elisha. Ruth said to Naomi, „Entreat me not
to leave thee, nor to forsake thee; for where thou goest, I will
go; and God do so to me, if thy God be my God, and thy people
my people, and where thou diest there will I die also.” With
such spirit as that, Elisha, as the minister to Elijah, and as the
disciple of Elijah, and wishing to qualify himself to be the
successor of Elijah, steadfastly replied: „As the Lord liveth and
thy soul liveth, I will not forsake thee.” „I am going with you
just as far as I can go; we may come to a point of separation,
but I will go with you to that point.” All of us, when we leave
this world, find a place where the departing soul must be with_
out human companionship. Friends may attend us to that
border line but they cannot pass over with us.
We have already discussed the miracle of the crossing of the
Jordan. Elijah smote the Jordan with his mantle and it divid_
ed; that was doubtless his lesson to Elisha, and we will see that
he learned the lesson. I heard a Methodist preacher once, tak_
ing that as a text, say, „We oftentimes complain that our cross
is too heavy for us, and groan under it, and wish to be relieved
from it.” „But,” says he, „brethren, when we come to the
Jordan of death, with that cross that we groaned under we will
smite that river, and we will pass over dry_shod, and leave the
cross behind forever, and go home to a crown to wear.”
The next notable thing in this account is Elijah’s question to
Elisha: „Have you anything to ask from me?” „Now, this is
the last time; what do you want me to do for you?” And he
says, „I pray thee leave a double portion of thy spirit on me.”
We see that he is seeking qualification to be the successor.
„Double” here does not mean twice as much as Elijah had, but
the reference is probably to the first_born share of an inheri_
tance. The first_born always gets a double share, and Elisha
means by asking a double portion of his spirit that it may ac_
credit him as successor. Or possibly „double” may be rendered
„duplicate,” for the same purpose of attenuation. The other
prophets would get one share, but Elisha asks for the first_born
portion. Elijah suggests a difficulty, not in himself, but in Eli_
sha ; he said, „You ask a hard thing of me, yet if you see me
when I go away, you will get the double portion of my spirit,”
that is, it was a matter depending on the faith of the petitioner,
his power of personal perception. „When I go up, if your eyes
are open enough to see my transit from this world to a higher,
that will show that you are qualified to have this double por_
tion of my spirit.” We have something similar in the life of
our Lord. The father of the demoniac boy says to our Lord,
„If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus replied, „If thou canst! All things are possible to him
that believeth.” It was not a question of Christ’s ability, but
of the supplicant’s faith.
The next thing is the translation itself. What is meant by it?
In the Old Testament history two men never died; they passed
into the other world, soul and body without death: Enoch and
Elijah. And at the second coming of Christ every Christian liv_
ing at that time will do the same thing. „In a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, they shall be changed.” Now, what is that
change of the body by virtue of which without death, it may
ascend into heaven? It is a spiritualization of the body elimi_
nating its mortality, equivalent to what takes place in the res_
urrection and glorification of the dead bodies. I preached a
sermon once on „How Death [personified] Was Twice Start_
led.” In the account of Adam it is said, „And he died” and so
of every other man, „and he died.” Methuselah lived 969 years,
but he died. And death pursuing all the members of the race,
strikes them down, whether king or pauper, whether prophet or
priest. But when he comes to Enoch his dart missed the mark
and he did not get him. And when he came to Elijah he missed
again. Now the translations of Enoch and Elijah are an abso_
lute demonstration of two things: First, the immortality of the
soul, the continuance of life; that death makes no break in the
continuity of being. Second, that God intended from the begin_
ning to save the body. The tree of life was put in the garden of
Eden, that by eating of it the mortality of the body might be
eliminated. Sin separated man from that tree of life, but it is
the purpose of God that the normal man, soul and body, shall
be saved. The tradition of the Jews is very rich on the spiritual
significance of the translation of Enoch and Elijah. In Enoch’s
case it is said, „He was not found because God took him,” and
in this case fifty of the sons of the prophets went out to see if
when Elijah went to heaven his body was not left behind, and
they looked all over the country to find his body. Elisha knew;
he saw the body go up.
Now, in Revelation we have the Cherubim as the chariot of
God. This chariot that met Elijah at the death station was the
chariot of God, the Cherubim. Just as the angels met Lazarus
and took his soul up to heaven, and it is to this wonderful pas_
sage that the Negro hymn belongs: „Swing Low, Sweet Char_
Elisha cried as the great prophet ascended, „My Father! My
rather I The chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” the
meaning of which is that thus had gone up to heaven he who
in his life had been the defense of Israel, worth more than all
of its chariots and all of its cavalry. Now these very words
„were used when Elisha died. „My Father! My Father! The
chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” signifying that he
had been the bulwark of the nation as Elijah had been before
As Elijah went up something dropped – not his body, but
.just his mantle – his mantle fell, and it fell on Elisha, symbolic
of the transfer of prophetic leadership from one to the other.
Now, he wants to test it, a test that will accredit him; so he
goes back to the same Jordan, folds that same mantle up just
as Elijah had done, and smites the Jordan. But, mark you,
he did not say, „Where is Elijah” – the man, Elijah, was gone, but, „Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and the waters di_
vided and he came over. There he stood accredited with a repe_
tition of the miracle just a little before performed by Elijah,
which demonstrated that he was to be to the people what Elijah
had been. And this was so evident that the sons of the prophets
recognized it and remarked on it: „The spirit of Elijah doth
rest on Elisha.” It is a touching thing to me, this account of
more than fifty of these prophets, as the president of their semi_
nary is about to disappear, came down the last hill that over_
looks the Jordan, watching to see what became of him. And
they witness the passage of the Jordan – they may have seen
the illumination of the descent of the chariot of fire. They
wanted to go and get the body – the idea of his body going up
they had not taken in, and they could not be content until Eli_
sha, grieved at their persistence) finally let them go and find
out for themselves that the body had gone to heaven.
I have just two things to say on the healing of the noxious
waters at Jericho. The first is that neither the new cruse nor the salt put in it healed the water. It was a symbolic act to indicate that the healing would be by the power of God. Just as when Moses cast a branch into the bitter waters of Marah, as a sym-bolic act. The healing power comes from God. The other re-mark is on that expression, „unto this day,” which we so fre-quently meet in these books. Its frequent recurrence is positive proof that the compiler of Kings and the compiler of Chronicles are quoting from the original documents. „Unto this day” means the day of the original writer. It does not mean unto the day of Ezra wherever it appears in Chronicles, but it means unto the day of the writer of the part of history that he is quoting from. More than one great conservative scholar has called attention to this as proof that whoever compiled these histories is quoting the inspired documents of the prophets.

Perhaps a thousand infidels have referred Elisha’s curse to
vindictiveness and inhumanity. The word rendered „little chil_
dren” is precisely the word Solomon uses in his prayer at Gib_
eon when he says, „I am a little child” – he was then a grown
man. Childhood with the Hebrews extended over a much great_
er period of time than it does with us. The word may signify
„young men” in our modern use of the term. And notice the
place was Bethel, the place of calf worship, where the spirit of
the city was against the schools of the prophets, and these
young fellowsù1 call them „street Arabs,” „toughs,” whom it
suited to follow this man and mock him: „Go up, thou bald
bead; go up, thou bald head.” Elisha did not resent an indig_
nity against himself, but here is the point: these hostile idola_
ters at Bethel, through their children are challenging the act
of God in making Elisha the head of the prophetic line. He
turned and looked at them and he saw the spirit that animated
them – saw that it was an issue between Bethel calf worship
and Bethel, the school of the prophets, and that the parents of
these children doubtless sympathized in the mockery, and saw
it to be necessary that they should learn that sacrilege and
blasphemy against God should not go unpunished. So, in the
name of the Lord he pronounces a curse on them – had it been
his curse, no result would have followed. One man asks, „What
were these she_bears doing so close to Bethel?” The answer
is that in several places in the history is noted the prevalence
of wild animals in Israel. We have seen how the old prophet
who went to this very Bethel to rebuke Jeroboam and turned
back to visit the other prophet, was killed by a lion close to the
Another infidel question is, „How could God make a she_ bear obey him?” Well, let the infidel answer how God’s Spirit
could influence a single pair of all the animals to go into the
ark. Over and over again in the Bible the dominance of the
Spirit of God over inanimate things and over the brute crea_
tion is repeatedly affirmed. The bears could not understand,
but they would follow an impulse of their own anger without
attempting to account for it.

We have already considered this miracle somewhat in the
chapter on Elisha, and now note particularly:
1. It often happens that the widow of a man of God, whether
prophet or preacher, is left in destitution. Sometimes the fault
lies in the imprudence of the preacher or in the extravagance
of his family, but more frequently, perhaps, in the inadequate
provision for ministerial support. This destitution is greatly
aggravated if there be debt. The influence of a preacher is
handicapped to a painful degree, when, from any cause, he fails
to meet his financial obligations promptly. In a commercial age
this handicap becomes much more serious.
2. The Mosaic Law (Lev. 25:39_41; see allusion, Matt.
18:25) permitted a creditor to make bond-servant of a debtor
and his children. For a long time the English law permitted
imprisonment for debt. This widow of a prophet appeals to
Elisha, the head of the prophetic school, for relief, affirming
that her husband did fear God. In other words, he was fault_
less in the matter of debt. The enforcement of the law by the
creditor under such circumstances indicates a merciless heart.
3. The one great lesson of the miracle is that the flow of
the increased oil never stayed as long as there was a vessel to
receive it. God wastes not his grace if we have no place to
put it: according to our faith in preparation is his blessing.
He will fill all the vessels we set before him.

We recall this miracle to deepen a lesson barely alluded to
in the chapter on Elisha. The seminaries at that time lived
a much more simple life than the seminaries of the present
time; it did not take such a large fund to keep them up. Elisha
said, „Set on the great pot,” and one of the sons of the prophets
went out to gather vegetables. He got some wild vegetables
he knew nothing about – here called wild gourd – and shred
them into the pot, not knowing they were poisonous. Hence
the text: „0 man of God, there is death in the pot.” I once
took that as the text for a sermon on „Theological Seminaries
and Wild Gourds,” showing that the power of seminaries de_
pends much on the kind of food the teachers give them. If
they teach them that the story of Adam and Eve is an allegory,
then they might just as well make the second Adam an alle_
gory, for his mission is dependent on the failure of the first.
If they teach them the radical criticism; if they teach any_
thing that takes away from inspiration and infallibility of the
divine Word of God or from any of its great doctrines – then,
„0 man of God, there is death in the pot” – that will be a sick
In a conversation once with a radical critic I submitted for
his criticism, without naming the author, the exact words of
Tom Paine in his „Age of Reason,” denying that the story of
Adam and Eve was history. He accepted it as eminently
correct. Then I gave the author, and inquired if it would be
well for preachers and commentators to revert to such authori_
ities on biblical interpretation. He made no reply. We find
Paine’s words not only in the first part of the „Age of Reason,”
written in a French prison without a Bible before him, but
repeated in the second part after he was free and had access
to Bibles. I gave this man a practical illustration, saying,
„You may take the three thousand published sermons of Spur_
geon, two sets of them, and arrange them, one set according
to the books from which the texts are taken – Genesis 1, 2, 3,
etc., and make a commentary on the Bible. By arranging the
other set of them in topical order, you have a body of sys_
tematic theology.” Now this man Spurgeon believed in the
historical integrity and infallibility of the Bible, in its inspira_
tion of God, and he preached that, just that. As the old saying
goes, „The proof of the pudding is in the chewing of the bag.”
He preached just that, and what was the result? Thousands
and thousands of converts wherever he preached, no matter
what part of the Bible he was preaching from; preachers felt
called to enter the ministry, orphan homes rose up, almshouses
for aged widows, colportage systems established, missionaries
sent out, and all over the wide world his missionaries die in
the cause. One man was found in the Alps, frozen to death,
with a sermon of Spurgeon in his hand. One man was found
shot through the heart by bush rangers of Australia, and the
bullet passed through Spurgeon’s sermon on „The Blood of
Jesus.” Now, I said to this man, „Get all your radical critics
together, and let them preach three thousand sermons on your
line of teaching. How many will be converted? How many
backsliders will be reclaimed? How many almshouses and
orphanages will be opened? How many colportage systems
established? Ah! the proof of the pudding is in the chewing
of the bag. If what you say is the best thing to teach about
the Bible is true, then when you preach, it will have the best
results. But does it?”
We have considered Elisha’s miracle for providing water
for the allied armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom, when invad_
ing Moab (2 Kings 3:10_19). We revert to it to note partake_
larly this passage: „And when the king of Moab saw that the
battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred
men that drew sword, to break through unto the king of Edom:
but they could not. Then he took his eldest son that should
have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering
upon the wall. And there was great wrath against Israel: and
they departed from him, and returned to their own land” (2
Kings 3:26_27). On this passage I submit two observations:
1. Not long after this time the prophet Micah indignantly
inquires, „Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions, the
fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” The context is a
strong denunciation of the offering of human sacrifices to ap_
pease an angry deity. The Mosaic law strongly condemned
the heathen custom of causing their children to pass through
the fire of Molech. Both this book of Kings and Jeremiah
denounce judgment on those guilty of this horrible practice.
The Greek and Roman classics, and the histories of Egypt and
Phoenicia, show how widespread was this awful custom.
2. But our chief difficulty is to expound the words, „There
was great wrath against Israel.” But what was its connection
with the impious sacrifice of the king of Moab? Whose the
wrath? The questions are not easy to answer. It is probable
that the armies of Edom and Judah were angry at Israel for
pressing the king of Moab to such dire extremity, and so hor_
rified at the sacrifice that they refused longer to co_operate
in the campaign. This explanation, while not altogether satis_
factory, is preferred to others more improbable. It cannot
mean the wrath of God, nor the wrath of the Moabites against
Israel. It must mean, therefore, the wrath of the men of Judah
and Edom against Israel for pressing Mesha to such an extent
that he would offer his own son as a sacrifice.

I. On the two accounts of Jehoshaphat’s shipping alliance with Ahaziah, 2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 20, answer:
1. Where is Tarshish?
2. Where is Ophir?
3. Where is Ezion_geber?
4. What is the relevance of v. 47 in Kings?
5. Explain „ships of Tarshish” in Kings, and „to go to Tarshish” in
6. What commerce were they seeking to revive, and what passage
from I Kings bearing thereon?
7. How does the book of Kings seem to account for the wreck of the fleet, and how does Chronicles give a better reason?

II. On the account of Elijah’s translation (2 Kings 2:1_18) answer:
1. Why the course taken by Elijah by way of Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho?
2. How did both Elisha and the schools of the prophets know about the impending event?
3. What was the object of Elijah in telling Elisha to tarry at each
stopping place while he went on?
4. What was the meaning of Elisha’s request for „a double portion”
of Elijah’s spirit and why was this a hard thing to ask, i.e., wherein the
difficulty? Illustrate by a New Testament lesson.
5. What was the meaning of Elijah’s translation, and what other
cases, past or prospective?
6. What was the meaning of Elisha’s expression, „My Father! My
Father! The chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” and who and
when applied the same language to Elisha?
7. How does Elisha seek a test of his succession to Elijah and how
do others recognize the credentials?

III. How do you explain the seeming inhumanity of Elisha’s cursing the children of Bethel?

IV. On the widow’s oil (2 Kings 4:1_7), answer:
1. What often happens to the widow of a prophet or preacher, and
what circumstance greatly aggravates the trouble?
2. What is the Mosaic law relative to debtors and creditors?
3. What one great lesson of the miracle?

V. On „Death in the Pot” answer:
1. What the incident of the wild gourds?
2. What application does the author make of this?
3. What comparison does the author make between Spurgeon and
the Radical Critics?

VI. On Elisha’s miracle, the water supply, answer:
1. What is the allusion in Micah’s words, „Shall I give my first_born,” etc.?
2. What the meaning of „There was great wrath against Israel”?

2 Kings 5:1 to 8:24

We commence this chapter with the story of Naaman, re_
corded in 2 Kings 5:1_24, which is a continuation of the record
of Elisha’s miracles. In this passage we have a very graphic
and complete account of two miracles which are especially
remarkable in their relation to each other. One was the cure
of leprosy and the other was the infliction of leprosy. One was
wrought on a foreigner and a man of prominence; the other, on
a Hebrew and a servant. The second was consequential on the
first and the two together must have given Elisha a great
reputation at home and abroad, and at the same time extolled
Jehovah as the great God in the surrounding nations.
This Naaman was by nationality a Syrian, by position a
captain, a great and honorable man. „He was also a mighty
man of valor,” one who had rendered valuable services to his
country in giving deliverance (Hebrew salvation) from an
oppressor. Here arises the question, „What was this deliver_
ance of Naaman?” To this question we find no reply in the
Scriptures but there is evidence enough from the Assyrian
monuments. Prior to this time an Assyrian monarch had
pushed his conquests as far west as Syria bringing this country
into subjection, but Syria revolted after a few years and once
more gained her independence. It was this deliverance that
was wrought by Naaman in which he distinguished himself and
won the special favor of the Syrian king.
But Naaman had one serious defect. He was a leper. The
way this fact is introduced is most natural, viz.: by the ad_
versative conjunction but. It is true that the conjunction is
in italics, showing that the word does not occur in the original,
yet the adversative idea is there. It is suggestive of the fact
that too often people spoil a splendid recommendation of other
people with the introduction of some defect; as, Byron was
a great poet but was clubfooted. Or that man is an excellent
gentleman but he has one failing, etc. So we go on describing
people, saying all the good things we know about them, and
then marring their fine reputation by pointing out some fault,
altogether unlike the spirit of the inspired historian here in
the case of Naaman. This thought is further illustrated in
the case of David. Nathan said to him, „Jehovah hath put
away thy sin, howbeit,” and then follows with a long list of
consequences of the sin which would come upon David. We
find the adversative conjunction used to introduce good quali_
ties also, as in 2 Chronicles 19:3. After Jehu the prophet had
rebuked Jehoshaphat for his sin, he said, „Nevertheless there
are good things found in thee,” etc. Other examples might be
given but these are enough. To sum up what I have said:
But may be used adversely to introduce the bad when the good
is mentioned first, and to introduce the good when the bad is
mentioned first. A fact generally admitted by all, is that
both qualities are found in varying ratios in all of us. There_
fore we should remember the saying, „There is so much good
in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it
scarcely behooves any of us to say anything about the rest
of us.”
As has already been stated, this defect of Naaman was
leprosy, which comes from the Hebrew word meaning a stroke,
because the ancients regarded this disease as a stroke from
God. Of course it .carried with it the idea of penalty for sin
committed, just as the three friends of Job reasoned with re_
spect to his case. They said, „This stroke is from God because
of your sins.” They thus attributed all afflictions to sin as the
cause and to God as inflicting the penalty. The Greek word

from which we get our word leprosy means „a scale” and thus
indicates a certain characteristic of the disease, viz: that in
certain stages of the disease the skin becomes scaly.
There is a most impressive lesson here for us in the instru_
mentality of this miracle. On some one of their marauding
expeditions into northern Israel they had captured a little
Jewish maiden who was made servant to Naaman’s wife. The
beauty and radiance of her life are seen in the few words here
said about her. She expressed a most ardent desire that her
master might be healed and pointed out the source of such
healing as her God, who would effect such a cure through his
servant, Elisha, the prophet in Samaria. All this is an ex_
pression of affection, the affection of a servant for her master.
How sublime such affection under such conditions! A captive
maiden, with the loyalty of a child for a parent, reveals to her
master the true source of healing. May we not think of this
little Jewish maid in her love for and her loyalty to her op_
pressors, as a kind of type of Christians in their relation to
the world? Surely the human instrumentality in this great
divine transaction should not be underestimated. Neither
can we fail to recognize the human in God’s plan for the sal_
vation of the world. This little maid played her part and
played it well. Are we doing our part in the great plan of God
as well as she?
The transactions from this point in the story are rapid and
interesting. Naaman appeals to the Syrian king who in turn
sends a letter to Jehoram the king of Israel asking for the
recovery of Naaman of his leprosy. This royal courtesy of
the Syrian king was misunderstood by the king of Israel, who
thought that the king of Syria was seeking a quarrel with him.
Just here Elisha intervenes to save the day, by offering to do
what Jeroboam in his royalty could not do, viz: to heal
Naaman of his loathsome disease. But how simple the pre_
scription! Dip in the Jordan seven times. Why seven? Seven
was a symbol of perfection and here symbolized the perfect
obedience required upon the part of Naaman. But Naaman
was wroth and went away saying, „Behold, I thought, he
would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name
of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and
recover the leper. Are not . . . the rivers of Damascus better
than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and
be clean?” This reply shows what was in Naaman’s mind.
He expected Elisha to make a great display, and he seems also
to have expected an incantation by which the cure would be
effected, but the prophet understood human nature too well
to be engulfed into violating the law of his God. The captain’s
anger was most natural; it was the result of a keen disappoint_
ment, but it prepared the way for a hearing from his servants,
which resulted in his cure.
There are several lessons here for us: (1) Human nature
calls for display. This is true often in the most vital matters,
such as the salvation of the soul; (2) May we not find in this
incident an illustration of the simplicity of the plan of sal_
vation? Upon this point many stumble. They say, „What
shall I do to be saved?” or „What shall I give?” (3) Healing
is obtained by taking the remedy: „He that believeth on him
is not condemned: he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten
Son of God” (John 3:18).
It is noteworthy in this connection that the servants of
Naaman interceded with him as children begging a father and
this influenced him to try the offered remedy. Their reasoning
with him was simple and effective: „If the prophet had bid
thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How
much rather then when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean”?
This was sufficient. He went down, dipped himself and was
healed. Here arises the question of the virtue of his cure.
It was not in the Jordan, nor in the seven dips, but in the power
of God. Of course, it came in response to conditions met, just
as in the case of all other blessings.
May we not find here a parallel case to the New Testament
teaching on baptismal regeneration? Hardly; here the dipping
was made a condition of Naaman’s healing, but in the New
Testament we do not find baptism a condition of salvation,
but the conditions of salvation are repentance and faith. How_
ever there is this parallel: that God’s own prescribed conditions
must be met before there is any blessing. In this connection
it is well to note also that the word for „dip” here, in the Sep_
tuagint, is bapto from which comes the New Testament word
„baptize,” and that this word means the same as the original
Hebrew word, viz: to dip, to immerse. This Old Testament
incident is an illustration of the meaning of bapto and baptize
and thus confirms the New Testament teaching of baptism by
Naaman’s gratitude for his healing is very beautifully and
impressively expressed: (1) He returned from the Jordan to
Elisha, a journey of forty or fifty miles out of his way; (2) he
offered the prophet the presents which he had brought from
Damascus; (3) he embraced the Jehovah religion and made a
vow to renounce all other gods but Jehovah; (4) he honored
the request of Elisha (as he thought) by his servant, Gehazi.
In all this one is reminded of the incident in the New Testa_
ment where the one leper returned to thank our Lord for his
healing, evidencing the additional blessing of salvation, yet
this act of Naaman involved far more trouble and inconveni_
ence than that of the Samaritan leper..
It should also be noted here that Elisha refused his presents,
not because he was not worthy to receive them, but to show
this heathen man that not all of God’s prophets were mer_
cenary, as was the case with the priests of other religions. It
sets forth Elisha in a beautiful light. We see here the spirit
of self_denial which reminds us of Paul’s life and teaching.
One could wish that he might always be able to find just such
a spirit in the prophets of Jehovah in this twentieth century.
Alas, too often the spirit of Gehazi possesses them rather than
the spirit of Elisha. But we thank God that the majority are
walking in the steps of Elisha.
But what did Naaman mean by wanting „Two mules’ bur_
den of earth”? It cannot be definitely known just what was
in his mind, but of all the theories proposed, the context seems
to have a great bearing on the one which says that he wanted
this earth from the land of Israel to erect an altar to Jehovah
in the land of Syria or, perchance, to sprinkle it upon a certain
area of his own land, thereby making it „holy ground” and
suitable for the worship of Jehovah. History tells us that
some of the Jews carried earth from their own land when they
were carried into captivity to Babylon. This seems to have
been the prevailing idea among the Orientals. Yet another
matter should be considered here, viz: If Naaman here em_
braced the Jehovah religion, why should he bow himself down
in the house of Rimmon? This seems to be a reference to his
work, as an attendant upon the king of Syria, to perform
certain duties relative to his master in the house of Rimmon.
He seemed to realize that Jehovah was a jealous God, but he
was not strong enough to become a martyr to the Jehovah
religion. In this we may not judge Naaman too severely,
especially in view of the fact that Naaman was a heathen,
reared in a heathen religion, and going back to a heathen en_
vironment, and may we not confidently expect to meet Naaman
in the „Sweet By and By” as one of God’s jewels gathered out
of a foreign land? One could wish that he might greet this
Syrian general and this little Jewish maid along with Elijah’s
widow of Zarephath, Elisha’s Shunammite woman and our
Lord’s Syro_Phoenician woman on the bright shores of ever_
lasting deliverance.
Over against this cheering picture of Elisha and Naaman
hangs the blighting picture of Gehazi, a renegade Jew. With
the spirit of avarice he seized his opportunity to get the
presents offered his master. His sin was manifold. He was
guilty of lying, covetousness, and sacrilege. He lied to Naa_
man outright in the matter of the presents; he was prompted
in it all by the spirit of covetousness; and he committed sacri_
lege in the ill use he made of the name of his master and in
his profane oath. But the eye of the seer was there and he
was completely caught. May we not rejoice that justice found
her own, or shall we revolt at the severity of the penalty in_
flicted? If the latter, then must we pass by the case of Ananias
and Sapphira and a multitude of others like unto them? We
will rejoice rather in the prophetic and apostolic judgments
since they are strokes of God through his own appointed
executioners. But what of the descendants of Gehazi involved
in this penalty? Here comes in the law of heredity which he
could escape only by denying himself of the privilege of mar_
riage which he may have done; we do not know. One could
wish that he might lift the curtain and see further into the
course of Naaman and Gehazi, but we must be content with
whatever revelation has disclosed, and dare not to intrude into
the precincts of the Most Holy uninvited. Here they pass
from our view never to reappear.
Turning to the Scriptures we meet again Ben_hadad II, king
of Syria, who was under treaty with Israel twelve years dur_
ing which time Ahab furnished troops in a league against
Assyria, but now he breaks the treaty and invades Israel ac_
cording to the prophecy given Ahab when he let Ben_hadad
go (I Kings 20:35_43). What a pity Ahab did not obey the
Lord and put an end to him. But we should not have had this
great lesson of national sin and its penalty.
This Ben_hadad comes now, besieges Samaria and causes
sufferings in Israel unparalleled in their history. The head of
an ass, the most undesirable part of the most undesirable ani_
mal, sold for 80 shekels, about $50.00; a kab of doves’ dung
sold for 5 shekels, about $3.00; and the women killed their own
sons and ate them. Such indicates the horrors of this terrible
siege. But this is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Deuter_
onomy 28:56_57, which has three literal fulfilments in the his_
tory of the Jewish people, viz: (1) in this instance, the siege
of Samaria by Ben_hadad; (2) in the siege of Jerusalem by
Nebuchadnezzar, and (3) in the siege of Jerusalem by Titus,
A.D. 70. The story here of the two women and the appeal of
one of them to the king is very pathetic. Who can censure
the mother for hiding her son? The mystery is that the other
one ever gave up hers. All this shows the dire straights into
which they had become because of this siege.
For all this the king of Israel proposes a remedy, viz: that
the head of Elisha be taken from his shoulders. But we note
the fact that this was contrary to law. An Oriental monarch
might do such a thing consistently. Beheading was practiced
in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, but it was positively for_
bidden by the Jewish law. Why should he strike for Elisha
when such a calamity came? He evidently thought that Elisha
was to blame for their condition. He may have associated
this instance with the drought which came at the word of Eli_
jah, or he may have thought that Elisha could work miracles
at will and that he purposely refused to relieve the people.
However the case may be, it is the common plea of the enemies
of God’s cause against his agents and ministers. So with an
oath he vows to take the head of God’s prophet.
But Elisha was not to be so ill_treated. He was a seer and
the Spirit of God in him was sufficient for every emergency.
He saw the plan before the messenger of vengeance arrived
and made counterplans to defeat the whole purpose of the king.
The story of this incident is beautifully told in the record:
how Elisha stopped the messenger and even his master, and
with keen insight into the future made a most interesting pre_
diction, viz: that on the morrow they would be amply supplied
at reasonable prices. The messenger was doubtful but this
prediction allowed for Elisha a probation and a respite from
the wrath of the king.
The fulfilment of this prediction is found in the incident of
the lepers, the story of which is given in the record. The lesson
of this incident is illustrative of the condition of the sinner:
„Why sit we here until we die? If we say we will enter the
city, when the famine is in the city, and we shall die there:
and if we sit here, we shall die also . . . if the Syrians kill us,
we shall but die.” This pictures the state of the sinner and
his reasoning when he faces the question of decision: „I can
but die; therefore, will I trust him.” This text has been used
by hundreds of preachers to illustrate the point of decision.
There is also another fine text in this connection, viz: „We
do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our
peace.” What a good missionary text! They told it and so
should we. The world, like Samaria, is perishing for the neces_
saries of life, and we know where there is plenty. Let us tell
it, lest when the blessed light of God’s eternal morning bursts
forth upon us our sin of omission will overtake us.
They did tell it, but as is often the case when we preach,
they did not believe it. It was received with distrust; they
thought the Syrians had set a trap for them and so they sent
messengers and chariots after them to ascertain the facts in
the case. The report of these messengers was convincing.
They pursued the Syrians as far as the Jordan and found
garments and vessels scattered all along the way. Evidently
the Syrians had gotten a good „scare” but this is easily ex_
plained when we take into consideration that it was the Lord’s
„scare.” He made them to hear a great noise of chariots, of
horsemen and of a great host. It is no wonder that they ran
for their lives. In this connection we find the fulfilment of
the prophecy of Elisha to the messenger of vengeance in two
important aspects, viz: (1) the price of flour and barley be_
came reasonable; (2) the messenger of vengeance was made
gatekeeper by the king and was trodden to death, thus fulfilling
Elisha’s statement that he should see it with his eyes but should
not eat thereof. This must have been a horrible death, to be
trampled to death while starving and yet in sight of plenty.
We may think of this as illustrating another class of sinners,
those who die in sight of plenty and yet because of their pre_
vious course in sin are altogether unable to get to the table
of God’s kingdom. This man died because of his unbelief,
2 Kings 7:2; 7:19f.
The next event according to our study of this section is the
death of Jehoram king of Judah and his sad funeral. He had
a complication of dreadful diseases, which are mentioned in
any good commentary. The sad feature of his funeral is the
fact that he was not buried in the usual way in which they
buried their kings. He had no burning for him, and was not
interred in the sepulchers of the kings. It is sad to have such
distinction in one’s death. But such must be the lot of those
who sin against Jehovah. We may be sure our sins will find
us out.
It is well to note that the book of Obadiah falls in this period, and will be studied in the light of this history when we take up the prophets of the Assyrian period.

1. Tell the story of Naaman, the leper.
2. Who was Naaman and what was his standing?
3. What was Naaman’s victory for God?
4. What word introduces the defect in Naaman, what play on it and
what the lesson?
5. What this defect and why was it considered such a misfortune?
6. What was the instrumentality of his healing and what the lessons?
7. What was Elisha’s prescription, what was Naaman’s reply, and
what the lesson?
8. How was he finally induced to take the remedy and in what was
the virtue of his healing?
9. What was the word here in the Septuagint translated „dipped,”
and what was the bearing on the New Testament usage of the word?
10. What was the effect of this healing on Naaman and how did he
show his gratitude?
11. Explain Naaman’s request for „two mules’ burden of earth” and
his bowing himself in the house of Rimmon.
12. How did Gehazi get the reward, what was his sin and what was
his punishment?
13. Who was Ben_hadad and what was his relation to Israel at this
14. What indicates the great suffering in the siege of Samaria?
15. What was the king’s proposed remedy and what the meaning of it?
16. Give the story of the king’s messenger of vengeance and Elisha’s promise of plenty.
17. Give the story of the four lepers at the gate. What was the lesson?
18. What missionary text in this connection?
19. How was the message of the lepers received, how was it verified,
and how were Elisha’s promise and prophecy fulfilled?
20. Describe the awful sickness and death of Jehoram, and his sad
21. What prophetic book has its setting here?

2 Kings 8:25 to 10:17; 2 Chronicles 22:1_8

In the scriptures cited for this chapter there are some ap_
parent discrepancies which first claim our attention. Second
Kings 8:25 says, „In the twelfth year of Jehoram the son of
Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of
Judah begin to reign,” while 2 Kings 9:29 says, „And in the
eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to
reign over Judah.” There are two possible solutions of this
difficulty: (1) it may be accounted for by their method of
reckoning in which they counted the king’s „first year” twice;
first, from the accession to the end of the civil year and second,
from the accession to the same day of the next year; (2) he
may have begun to reign with his father as viceroy in the
eleventh year and as full king in the twelfth year. Either of
these explanations relieves us from the difficulty of an apparent
A second apparent discrepancy occurs in 2 Kings 8:26 and
2 Chronicles 22:2. The Kings passage says that Ahaziah was
twenty_two years old when he began to reign, while the Chroni_
cles passage says that he was forty_two. The latter statement
is impossible because his father was only forty years old
when he died. So the only explanation of this difference in
statement is that it must be an error of the copyist. Twenty_
two is more advanced than we would ordinarily expect but it
is probable in view of the early marriages in the Orient and

also that each prince had, besides his wife, several concubines.
That Jehoram had several appears from 2 Chronicles 21:17.
The character of Ahaziah is set forth in the record with the
author’s accustomed clearness showing some of the antecedent
forces that operated in his life. The first thing mentioned is
the fact that his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter
(granddaughter) of Omri, who is here mentioned because of
his prominence. She was a daughter of Ahab and Jezebel,
passing on to this king the full benefit of the law of heredity.
So we are not surprised that the record says that he walked in
the ways of the house of Ahab. The Kings account says, „for
he was the son_in_law of the house of Ahab,” i.e., he was re_
lated to the house of Ahab by marriage. An added reason
for this course of Ahaziah is given by the Chronicles account:
„for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly . . . for they
[the house of Ahab] were his counsellors after the death of his
father, to his destruction.” Our sympathy goes out to Ahaziah
in view of these conditions. How could he, in view of these
hereditary traits and special maternal instruction) have done
otherwise than to walk in the „ways of the house of Ahab”?
Only by the grace of God which is able to overcome all the
forces of the past, whether they be hereditary or environmental.
On Elisha’s interview with Hazael we need to note: (1) this
visit of the prophet to Damascus was perhaps for protection,
but it is not definitely known as to why he went there; (2) that
Elisha, whatever his reason for going, did not hide himself but
was recognized upon his arrival; (3) that in his answer to
Hazael he sarcastically told him to tell his master just what
Hazael wanted to tell him and then gave him the true revela_
tion of the case; (4) that Hazael did not tell his master all
that Elisha said and thus falsified to him, but it was not the
fault of the prophet; (5) that Elisha here showed his great
heart of sympathy for his people in their sufferings, and (6)
that God revealed the future of Ben_hadad, Hazael and Israel
to Elisha, a clear proof of predictive prophecy.
The next topic for our discussion is the aid rendered Jehoram by Ahaziah in the defense of Ramoth_gilead; then follows the other events leading up to the anointing of Jehu as king over Israel. In the defense of Ramoth_gilead Ahaziah and Jehoram co_operate, uniting their forces against Hazael, king of Syria. Here Jehoram was wounded. Then the two kings withdrew – Ahaziah to Jerusalem and Jehoram to Jezreel to be nursed. Soon after this Ahaziah visited Jehoram there and Just at this time Elisha appears upon the scene and commissions a son of the prophets to anoint Jehu. Thus the events pass in rapid
succession leading to the destruction of the house of Ahab. We
should note in this connection the striking fact that Jehu was
not in the regular line of succession and was one of the two
kings of Israel selected by Jehovah.
The circumstances and events of his anointing are graphi_
cally told by the author of Kings. The prophet who had been
commissioned by Elisha went to Ramoth_gilead, found the
captains sitting, called out Jehu, anointed him, gave him his
commission, outlined his work and fled. According to this
prophecy Jehu was to avenge the blood of the prophets against
the house of Ahab by destroying every man child, as in the
case of Jehoram and Baasha, and the dogs were to eat Jezebel
in Jezreel. Immediately Jehu returned to the servants, his
fellow captains, and made known unto them the prophet’s
message and they arose at once and proclaimed him king. This
involved the duty of preaching righteousness and executing
God’s orders as sheriff, a very great responsibility and no small
task. Later we see that Jehu was equal to the task thrust upon
him, and God is abundantly vindicated in making this selec_
The chief characteristic of Jehu’s work is, that it is icono_
clastic. He was an image smasher, a great revolutionist. Was
he pious? Not very pious, i.e. in the sense of reverencing the
traditions of the past. He was, perhaps, filial toward his
parents; we don’t know, but he had full regard for his mission
under God. If he was not pious he was religious in that he
executed the program that God handed to him through the
prophet. To be sure he was not a „sissy” but was a kind of
„dare_devil” in spirit, a stern, John the Baptist sort of fellow.
Such are the characteristics of the men who have led great
revolutionary movements.
The first act of his reign was the slaying of Jehoram which
is vividly presented in 2 Kings 9:14_26. The salient points in
this story are: (1) Jehu’s journey to Jezreel and his approach
recognized by the watchman in the tower; (2) Jehoram’s mes_
sengers to Jehu and his disposition of them; (3) Jehoram and
Ahaziah’s advance to meet Jehu, Jehoram’s greeting and Jehu’s
reply; (4) Jehu’s execution of Jehoram and Ahaziah’s escape,
and (5) the disposition of the body of Jehoram and the fulfil_
ment of prophecy. The second act of his reign was the slaying
of Ahaziah. After the death of Jehoram Jehu pursued Ahaziah
who had fled by the way of the „garden house” or perhaps a
better translation would be, „Beth_Gan,” a town at the foot
of the hills bounding the plain of Esdraelon, south of Jezreel,
and on the road to Samaria. It is somewhat difficult, but not
impossible, to harmonize the Kings account with the Chronicles
account of this episode. Omitting the italics in 2 Kings 9:27
and inserting 2 Chronicles 22:9a just after „and he fled to
Megiddo,” we may conceive of this transaction as follows:
Jehu ordered Ahaziah to be smitten at the ascent of Gur, but
he fled to Megiddo where he was wounded, then carried to Sa_
maria and concealed but was discovered by the emissaries of
Jehu who carried him to Megiddo where Jehu was at this time;
then and there Jehu put him to death. Such is a possible
combination of the two accounts and removes the difficulty so
far as a contradiction is concerned. Second Chronicles 22:7
explains Ahaziah’s death as the direct cause of his alliance
with Jehoram and his untimely death was a judgment upon
him for his idolatry. Murphy (Handbook on Chronicles) ex_
plains his hiding in Samaria thus, „And he was about to hide
in Samaria,” but he was turned aside by his pursuers, was
wounded and went to Megiddo where he died. There is one fault with this explanation: it does not provide for the expres-sion, „they caught him and carried him to Jehu,” etc. So withal the method of combining, as given above, is more satisfactory.
Here may be raised the question of the morality of the
action of Jehu in killing Jehoram and Ahaziah. The answer
is simple and easy. It was clearly God’s execution, and was
therefore nothing more than the stroke of the law. The Je_
hovah religion was very much endangered by the house of
Ahab and these kings, one of Israel and the other of Judah,
were branches of that house. If Jehu sinned, it was in the
method or spirit in which he did the work, rather than in the
taking of the life of these men. That was clearly his com_
mission from Jehovah. He did not sin in this transaction any
more than a sheriff does who executes a criminal under the
penalty of the law. God had rendered the verdict and ap_
pointed Jehu the executioner. But if he used unnecessary
cruelty in this execution, or did it in the spirit of vengeance,
then we would admit that he sinned, because God has said,
„Vengeance is mine; I will repay” and no man, mob, or court
of men has the right to execute a criminal in the spirit of ven_
geance. The cruel fate of Jezebel is horrifying and blood_
curdling. Her cunning attempt to thwart her predicted fate
is repulsing and disgusting. Upon learning of Jehu’s approach,
Cleopatralike, she painted her eyes, attired her head, and from
a window saluted her executioner with, „Is it peace?” From
Jehu came the prompt and decisive response, „Who is on my
side? Throw her down,” and down she came with a crash,
spattering her blood upon the wall and upon the horses. Then
Jehu drove right over her body trampling her underfoot. She
was so mangled that the dogs found her body an easy prey
and when they went to take her up to bury her there was
nothing left except the skull, the palms of her hands and her
feet. What a horrible picture, but it was the just recompense
for sin. She was the greatest enemy of the Jehovah religion
after the days of Pharaoh, and God made Pharaoh an example
to the world; so did he make Jezebel, and in Revelation we
find her followers given space to repent and then sternly threat_
ened with eternal destruction. All this was according to the
prophecy of Elijah, I Kings 21:17ff. How definitely and surely
God forecasts the fate of the wicked. We should not be de_
ceived. „God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that
shall he also reap.” When one walks the streets of a modern
city and beholds the painted faces of our own American women,
he is constrained to ask, „Have all our women become Jezebels,
and what will the harvest of this generation be?”
Jehu did not stop with the execution of Jehoram, Ahaziah
and Jezebel but pursued his destructive work in the judgment
on the house of Ahab. The record says that Ahab had seventy
sons in Samaria, meaning descendants, sons and grandsons,
whom Jehu ordered the elders or rulers of Jezreel to slay. He
first challenged them to select one for a king and „put up”
their fight, but they declared their allegiance to Jehu. Then
he wrote them to execute these sons at once and bring him
their heads. This they did, upon which Jehu justified his
course by citing a prophecy (I Kings 21:17ff), and then ex_
tended his destructive course so as to include the rest of Ahab’s
house at Jezreel: his great men, his familiar friends and his
priests. What a sweep of destruction in human life! But he
did not stop there. The princes of Judah were a menace to his
reign and therefore he must dispose of them. This he did in
wholesale massacre at the shearing house of the shepherds.
These princes royal of Judah were on their way to see their
relatives at Samaria when they met Jehu who took them in
charge at once and put them to death. Pursuing his course,
Jehu met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him,
and after an exchange of greetings he found in this man a suit_
able companion and associate in his „zeal for the Lord,” as
Jehu called it.
With Jehonadab originated the Rechabites, taking the name
from Rechab, Jehonadab’s father. They were descended from
a family of the Kenites and were a very sturdy people, with
some remarkable characteristics. They drank no wine, built
no permanent dwelling houses, planted no vineyards, sowed no
seed, but lived in tents and followed the most simple habits of
life. In Jeremiah’s day they were still holding to the tenets
of Jehonadab in teaching and practice and because of their
faithfulness in obeying the commandments of Jehonadab, Je_
hovah promised that Jehonadab should never want a man to
stand before him. This promise is being fulfilled to this day.
In the vicinity of Medina are to be found today the descend_
ants of the Rechabites with the same characteristics and habits.
This is a remarkable fulfilment of promise, but it is just what
may come to any people who will keep the commands of Je_
hovah. He will not suffer his faithfulness to fail, and con_
sistent with his holy nature, „He never denies himself, but
he abideth faithful.”
Jehonadab’s character is not hard to determine in the light
of his affiliations. Two cannot walk together except they be
agreed. Jehu was a „dare_devil” sort of character, and he
found his match in Jehonadab. They were partners and co_
workers from this time on and the work of Jehu was the work
of Jehonadab.
Jehu’s last act of establishing himself on the throne of Israel
is recorded in 2 Kings 10:17, and refers, perhaps, to the de_
struction of the female descendants of Ahab. Thus was finally
completed the political revolution which transferred the throne
from the house of Omri to that of Nimshi, the fifth of the royal
families of Israel.

1. How harmonize the apparent discrepancies in 2 Kings 8:25 and 2
Kings 9:29; 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2?
2. What was the character of Ahaziah and what were the examples of
a mother’s influence here?
3. Describe the interview of Elisha with Hazael and explain the dif_
ficulty of this passage.
4. What were the events which led to the anointing of Jehu aa king
over Israel? . .
5. What striking fact with reference to Jehu’s anointing?
6. Recite the circumstances and events of his anointing.
7. According to this prophecy what was Jehu to do and what was to
be the fate of Jezebel?
8. How was he made king and what involved in his call to be king?
9. What were the chief characteristics of his work, was he pious, what
is the meaning of piety and what kind of character necessary to a resolution.
10. What was the first act of his reign and how was this accomplished?
11. What was the second act of his reign and how was this accom_
12. How does Chronicles explain Ahaziah’s death?
13. What question of ethics relative to Jehu’s slaying Jehoram and
Ahaziah and what the explanation?
14. What was Jezebel’s fate and what prophecy was fulfilled in her
15. What was the judgment on the house of Ahab?
16. What prophecy fulfilled in the judgment on the house of Ahab?
17. What was the judgment on the princes Royal of Judah?
18. Whom did Jehu attach to his support, and what is the origin of
the Rechabites and what were their practices?
19. What was the character and work of Jehonadab?
20. What was Jehu’s last act in establishing himself on the throne of

2 Kings 10:18 to 13:9; 2 Chronicles 22:9 to 24:24.

Israel is now on a rapid decline, while Judah is under the
sway of a wicked woman. There are some antecedent facts
which relate to the Southern Kingdom, Judah, and the story
of her fortunes which we need to review here. In previous
chapters we have considered the character and reign of Je_
hoshaphat. He is described as a good man, a great king, an
eminently righteous and successful king, one of the best kings
that Judah ever had, and the record tells of the various reforms
which he instituted, the cities which he built, the new system
of judiciary which he established and the various other great
improvements in his kingdom. But Jehoshaphat made three
mistakes in his reign:
First, he married his son to the daughter of Jezebel. It was
the cause of great disaster to his realm, almost to the extinction
of his dynasty and the wrecking of his kingdom.
Second, he made an alliance with Ahab to reconquer
Ramoth_gilead, and take it from Syria. The 400 false prophets
all promised him victory, but Micaiah prophesied failure, and
that prophecy came true as they failed to take Ramoth_gilead
and Ahab was slain, and Jehoshaphat returned home to Jeru_
salem in partial disgrace. There is no question but that Je_
hoshaphat lost a great deal of popularity by that mistake and
Third, he made an alliance with Jehoram, son of Ahab, in
an attempt to reconquer and subject Moab to the northern

realm. But for Elisha who told them to make the valley full
of trenches and thus make room for water to flow down that
their hosts might have drink he would there have suffered
probably an ignominious defeat. Through Elisha and the
providence of God he was saved but the expedition proved
fruitless. The king of Moab sacrificed his first_born son and
great wrath came upon Israel and they retired from the siege
and went home and left King Mesha still master of his own
country. Shortly before his death we find Jehoshaphat ap_
points his son Jehoram as king with him and they are joint
kings over southern Israel. Jehoram becomes co_regent with
Jehoshaphat when thirty_two years of age. Very soon we find
the influence of Athaliah his wife. She had him under her
control even more than Jezebel had Ahab under her control.
She was a vicious, strong_minded, self_willed, determined, and
depraved woman. Here is Athaliah’s influence. We can al_
most see Jezebel herself here. Under the influence of this
northern woman Jehoram begins his murderous work by shed_
ding the blood of six of his brothers. We find his character
described thus: „He had the daughter of Ahab to wife, and
he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Notice
further: „Moreover he made high places in the mountains of
Judah, and made the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring,
and led Judah astray.” That is, he attempted to lead all
southern Israel after the worship of Baal, just as Jezebel had
tried to lead all northern Israel after the worship of Baal.
Athaliah is her mother’s daughter.
All this leads to great troubles. His dynasty is in danger.
The first thing we read is that disaster befalls the kingdom.
In the same account we have the story of the revolt of Edom,
one of his provinces which paid him heavy tribute. He under_
takes to put down the rebellion, and, in a desperate conflict
the Edomites with their chariots and horsemen having sur_
rounded him, he rises up at night and breaks through the rank
of the enemy and saves himself, but Edom passes out of his
hands and is lost to his realm, and a large revenue is, of course,
lost with it. This is the first stage of the downfall of himself
and kingdom.
The next stage is the revolt of Libnah. This Philistine city
had been paying tribute no doubt and now revolts against him
and secures its freedom and thus another stronghold is cut off
from his kingdom. This added to his unpopularity still more.
Shortly after this we have the story of the posthumous mes_
sage from Elijah the prophet written before the going away
of the great servant of God, doubtless preserved by Elisha and
now sent to Jehoram. It is the prophet Elijah’s message of
doom to this wicked king: „Behold, the Lord will smite with
a great plague thy people, and thy children and thy wives,
and all thy substance,” and Jehoram is to be smitten with a
horrible and loathsome disease, too loathsome to be mentioned.
We don’t know what that plague was nor how many people
perished because of it. These things would add greatly to
the unpopularity of Jehoram throughout his realm.
Another invasion takes place: „And the Lord stirred up
against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Ara_
bians, which are beside the Ethiopians: and they came up
against Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the
substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons
also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him,
save Jehoahaz, the youngest of the sons.” They invaded his
capital, took his treasures, and his harem, and carried them
away, only one son left, Jehoahaz, known more correctly as
Shortly after this Jehoram falls a prey to his sickness or
disease and dies, unlamented, undesired. In some respects a
blessed death, that is, to those who were left. He is refused
burial in the sepulchers of the kings. They buried him in the
City of David but not in the sepulchers of the kings. He is
too loathsome to be buried in the sacred burying grounds of
the kings of Israel where David was buried. This reign is one
of the first fruitages of that ill_fated alliance of Jehoshaphat
with the house of Ahab.
Then follows the reign of Ahaziah his son, which lasts about
one year. He is a worthy son of his unspeakable mother. We
find his record very short and is all a failure and ends in dis_
grace and murder. The record says that he entered into an
alliance with Jehoram, his uncle, of northern Israel to fight
against Ramoth_gilead, and bring it back into subjection out
of the hands of Syria. Evidently their onslaught is successful.
Ramoth_gilead is captured and Jehu left in charge of it. Je_
horam is wounded and has to return to Jezreel in order that
he might be healed, and while he is recovering Ahaziah goes
back to Jerusalem, then pays a visit to Jehoram at Jezreel,
and while they are at Jezreel we have enacted a scene which
we discussed in a previous chapter. Jehoram is slain by an
arrow shot from the bow of Jehu. Ahaziah flees for his life
and is pursued by Jehu’s men, wounded in his chariot, escapes
to Megiddo, and there dies. This is the end of the second of
the kings of Judah that came under the influence of this un_
holy alliance of northern Israel.
Now we take up the reign of Athaliah. As soon as Athaliah
heard of the death of Ahaziah her son, and knowing that all
of Ahaziah’s brothers had been captured and taken away by
the Arabians and Philistines, and there was no proper heir
to the throne excepting her grandsons, the narrative says that
she arose and destroyed all the seed royal, that is, all her own
grandsons. A woman that would do that is a monster rather
than a woman. Fortunately, however, providence interposes.
The chief priest of the nation, Jehoiada, a man of great in_
fluence and power, had married a sister of Ahaziah, and daugh_
ter of Athaliah, and by means of intimacy which this relation_
ship permitted, took the only son of Ahaziah, just one year old,
and hid him. Thus the dynasty is preserved.
Now let us look at Jehu’s reign. The first great act which
he performs is the destruction of Baal and Baal _worshipers, and
he does it under false pretense. He does it in a most treacher_
ous manner under the guise of zeal for their religion and he
deceives them. He says, „Ahab served Baal little, Jehu shall
serve him much,” and in that way gains the popularity of all
those in favor of Baal worship. In that way he manages to
secure the presence of a great host of Baal worshipers, but took
pains to see that none of the Jehovah worshipers were there.
All the priests of Baal are butchered. That is different from
the death of the 450 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of
Asherah by Elijah at Mount Carmel. That was a fair teat
by Elijah, but they failed, and therefore deserved death. This
was treachery on the part of Jehu, treachery that was inex_
cusable, and having done that, he breaks down the altars of
Baal, destroys all the Baal worshipers in the capital of Samaria.
But that does not imply that there were no Baal worshipers
anywhere else in the kingdom for there were Baal cults in
various sections still. Although Jehu had destroyed Baal wor_
ship as a state religion he institutes one very little better. He
is a worshiper of Jehovah but it is a corrupt worship of the
calves of Dan and Bethel and he follows in the way of Jero_
boam the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin. It is awful
how all of these men are said to have followed Jeroboam the
son of Nebat in that he made Israel to sin. Every one of them
does the same thing. There is a sermon on that statement en_
titled, „The Monotony of Sin.” All for generations doing the
same thing and they are doing the same thing now; they have
been doing the same thing for thousands of years. Jehu’s reign
is on the whole an evil reign. The religion of Jehovah made
little progress under his rule.
Now Athaliah reigns and we have the strange spectacle of a
woman on the throne of Judah, the daughter of Jezebel with
Phoenician blood in_ her veins. We would expect that she would
try to do what Jezebel did, viz: install, as the state religion
of Judah, the worship of Baal, and so she did. There was no
persecution of the prophets in southern Israel. She evidently
could not do that, but she partly destroyed the Temple, took
the sacred vessels out of it, established priests in her own tem_
ple of Baal and set up Baal worship, using the vessels that had
been dedicated to Jehovah. Shrines were built throughout the
whole kingdom, and now southern Judah is in danger of being
brought under the sway of Baal as northern Israel was before
Elijah appeared upon the scene. But there was one man in the
realm raised up by divine providence to save the situation.
Jehoiada is the son_in_law of Athaliah, a _man of influence and
power, and evidently a man of great wisdom and piety, the
foremost counsellor in the realm, the wisest and best man in the
kingdom, the high priest. Six years of silence passes, and Je_
hoiada is wise enough to know how to hold his tongue and
hold his wife’s tongue all that time. It is something for a man
to be able to hold his tongue on such a great secret as he pos_
sessed, for six years. When little Joash had grown to be seven
years old we find that Jehoiada began to strengthen himself in
the kingdom and to mature his plans to set Joash upon the
throne and destroy his mother_in_law, Athaliah. The time is
ripe for action, the people are evidently dissatisfied with the
reign of Athaliah, and are ready for the change. Jehoiada ma_
tures his plans with great deliberation, extreme caution and
great shrewdness. We can’t understand all the details of the
situation, the exact relation of the house and the Temple, but
we find that he divides the Temple guards and palace guards
into three companies, and stations them in separate places sur_
rounding the king, so that he is perfectly safe, and no enemies
can get to him. A way is left open by which Athaliah may
come into the Temple and any who may follow her, but they
will at once be slain as they attempt to pass through. At a
given time and a given signal, all the soldiers in their places,
the people throng around and raise the shout, Joash is set upon
the throne; he is handed the testimony of the law according
to the command of Moses, the crown is placed upon his head,
and Joash is proclaimed king. Athaliah does not know what is
taking place, she hears the noise, rushes forth and pretends to
be horrified, tears her clothes and shouts, „Treason! Treason!”
Was it treason? How many people there are who know they
are in the wrong, and yet when the people turn against them,
are ready to cry out like that. They put on an air of injured
innocence. Hypocrites! This avails her nothing. She is in the
Temple courts and they will not spill Phoenician blood there.
„Have her forth between the ranks,” says Jehoiada, and as
they made way for her she went to the entry of the horse gate
and there she is slain. Jehoiada matured his plans as perfectly
as Jehu and carried them out almost as quickly and success_
fully. That ends the reign of Phoenician blood upon the throne
of Israel. There is no doubt that most of the people of Israel
felt that a great crisis had passed.
Now let us look at the reign of Joash. He reigned for forty
years beginning when a boy only seven. Joash was a grandson
of Athaliah on his father’s side, so there was a little of the
Phoenician blood in his veins. It is not all pure Hebrew blood,
and as blood will tell sooner or later, we find that his Phoeni_
cian, corrupt, heathen blood manifests itself in the life of Joash
His great religious revolutions and reforms were instituted
by Jehoiada. As soon as Joash is made king, Jehoiada renews
the covenant thus: „And Jehoiada made a covenant between
himself and all the people, and the king, that they should be
the Lord’s people.” That covenant had been broken through
Athaliah’s introduction of Baal worship, through the breaking
up of the Temple services and the defection of the people to
Baal. Now Jehoiada must renew the covenant between God
and Judah. The covenant made at Sinai had been broken more
than once, and had been renewed. He establishes a covenant
between the king and the people, and between the king and
Jehovah on the basis of the law of Moses. The king is to be
representative of Jehovah and must rule as Jehovah directs
through his prophets. Now there is a revival of true religion
and a reformation is begun. The first thing to be done is to
destroy Baal: „And all the people of the land went to the house
of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake
they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal
before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the
house of the Lord.” They carried out a work in southern Israel
almost similar to what Jehu did_in northern Israel: the priests
of Baal are slain, the temple of Baal is broken down, and the
shrines of Baal destroyed, and Baal worship is given a severe
blow in southern Israel, but it is not extinguished; there are still
Baal worshipers in high places, shrines here and there through_
out the country where they carry on this vile and licentious
worship of their deity.
The next thing was to reorganize the Temple service: „And
Jehoiada appointed the officers of the house of the Lord under
the hand of the priests and Levites whom David had distri_
buted in the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt sacrifices of
the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing
and with singing, according to the order of David.” The re_
organization of the Temple service, a reinstitution of the sacri_
fices of the burnt offerings and thus once more the nation is
brought back to the worship of the true God, Jehovah. Again,
it is said, „So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city
was quiet.” A brief pointed statement, but there is a history
behind it. There must have been turmoil, strife, confusion,
bloodshed, and unrest in the city of Jerusalem as this revolu_
tion in religion was going on, but Jehoiada’s hands have hold
of the reigns of power and the city calms down and is quiet.
Joash is a good and faithful king so long as he is under the in_
fluence of Jehoiada, who did the strange thing to take two wives
for Joash, which is very hard to account for.
There were great reforms instituted by Joash. Notice what
the king himself institutes. He begins first to repair the Temple
that had been broken down during the reign of Athaliah and
Jehoram, and in order to do that he must raise money, and to
raise money he commands the priests to bring in the revenue
which they receive from the people. Under the law of Moses
every man of Israel had to pay a shekel or a half_shekel every
year. Now the priests or Levites were to receive that money
and bring it to the king to be utilized in repairing the Temple.
Joash depends upon the honesty of the priests. We see here a
very inefficient organization, and it doesn’t work. „Howbeit the
Levites hastened it not.” They pocketed the money. It didn’t
go into the treasury and therefore the house of the Lord could
not be repaired. That scheme failed because the priests lacked
honesty and integrity.
Now let us look at Jehu’s political relations. We find by con_
sulting Price’s The Monuments and the Old Testament, that
Jehu was forced to pay heavy tribute to Shalmaneser, king of
Assyria. Shalmaneser says himself at that time, „I received
tribute of the Tyreans and the Sidonians and of Jehu the son
of Omri,” in one of his inscriptions and on the back of an obe_
lisk left by Shalmaneser we have pictures of Jehu bringing to
him presents of gold, basins of gold, bowls of gold, cups of gold, lead, a royal scepter and staves. Thus we see that Jehu had to pay heavy tribute in order to maintain the integrity of his
kingdom after thus securing it. We have no record that Jehu
ever fought against Shalmaneser or that Shalmaneser ever
fought against Jehu; but Shalmaneser had gained a great vic_
tory over Damascus and Syria, and Jehu had to pay him this
heavy tribute to keep him away from Israel. Thus Jehu’s reign
was not all peace and prosperity. He is in a sense under the
iron heel of Assyria. We also see from 2 Kings 10:32_33 that
Jehu lost all eastern Palestine, which was smitten by Hazael,
king of Syria, and thus his kingdom was stripped and there was
left to him only a small portion of western Palestine: „In those
days the Lord began to cut Israel short; and Hazael smote
them in all the coasts of Israel; from Jordan eastward, all the
land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Man_
assites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of Arnon, even
Gilead and Bashan.” Thus Jehu is stripped of all of his posses_
sions east of the Jordan. Though one of the ablest of the
monarchs of northern Israel, Jehu was also the one that led
Israel into sin, and his kingdom was in worse condition at the
end than it was at the beginning.
Now let us take up the reign of Jehoahaz. Jehu reigned
twenty_eight years, and was succeeded by Jehoahaz his son,
who reigned only seventeen years, and followed in the footsteps
of his father and Jeroboam the son of Nebat which made Israel
to sin. In the reign of Jehoahaz we read: „And Hazael king of
Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. And the anger
of the Lord was kindled against Israel and he delivered them
into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of
Benhadad the son of Hazael, continually „That means that
they were compelled to pay tribute, heavy tribute to their con_
querors, which drained them of all their resources and left them
little better than slaves.
Jehoiada brings forth a new scheme. He is a wise man, and
when he finds this other plan of Joash will not work, he suggests that they make a great chest, or box, and bore a hole in the top of it so that no man can get his hand into it, and place this box beside the altar near the entrance to the house of the Lord where the people come and go so that every man could put his tax into the box. It is not long before they find a large amount of money in it, and they are very careful how it should be counted and paid out, and very careful about the men who are to count it and hand it over to the workmen. We see how they go on with the details of the work, and they found enough
money to repair the breaches of the Temple that had been
broken down, and to provide the various vessels, the cups of
silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, vessels of gold, or vessels of
silver. Then we find that the Temple worship is resumed, and
the burnt offerings were offered continually as it had been for
several years previous. Then follows an account of the death of
Jehoiada, an old man, 130 years old. They buried him in the
city of David among the kings as he was a king’s son_in_law,
and was honored as few other Israelites have been who were not
of the royal family.
After his death the bad blood flowing in the veins of Joash
is manifest. A change comes; the pressure is off; the wise coun_
sellor is gone, and Joash now begins to show what is his true
nature and character. He comes under the influence of the
princes of Judah, the upper ten or the upper 400, who secretly
or openly preferred the worship of Baal to the worship of Je_
hovah, possibly because of its licentiousness. Joash is foolish
enough to listen to them, sanctions the worship of Baal and of
Asherah, turns his back upon the worship of Jehovah. Worse
than that, Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, a prophet of God, is
raised up to rebuke and reprove Joash for his sin, but Joash
commands that Zechariah be stoned to death in the Temple
area because he has dared to warn and admonish the king. Base
ingratitude. „0, what a falling off was this!” Zechariah’s last_
words, „The Lord look upon it and require it,” were remem_
bered and recorded, as was the dying statement of Jesus Christ
and of Stephen, the martyr. Some scholars think that when
Jesus Christ was speaking to the Pharisees about the blood of
Zechariah, which should be required of their generation, that
he referred to this same Zechariah. Joash has incurred the
hostility of the prophets and the worshipers of Jehovah in his
realm. The best people of his country conspired against him,
and very soon he is put to death. Israel is in a desperate con_
dition during the reign of Jehoahaz. Hazael and Ben_hadad
have assaulted him and_defeated him to such an extent that
only fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten thousand footmen
are left. For the king of Syria destroyed them and made them
like the dust in the threshing. The kingdom could hardly be
lower and exist at all. It is at its lowest ebb. Joash’s reign
ends in misery and defeat. Hazael whom Elijah had anointed
in Damascus, that ruthless monarch of Syria, who has crushed
northern Israel under his feet and ground it to dust, advances
as far south as Judah and Jerusalem and meets a large army
of Joash and defeats it utterly, kills the princes of the people,
and sends all the spoil that he captures back to Damascus.
Then Hazael goes down to Philistia and takes the strong city
of Gath, then he turns his eye upon Jerusalem with its vast
treasures and is intending to advance up one of those mountain
defiles to the hilltop whereon Jerusalem is situated and con_
quer the capital and take all its treasures. The only thing
Joash can do, is to buy Hazael off. Then Joash strips the Tem_
ple of all the hallowed things, takes the gold and the treasure
and hands it over to Hazael. Hazael is satisfied, as all he
wants is the plunder and the treasure of the Temple, and in
this way he got it without fighting for it.
Joash perishes by the hands of his own servants who had be_
come disgusted with him because of his apostasy and evil reign.
They buried him with the family in the City of David, but it
does not say in the sepulchers of the kings.

1. What was the condition of Israel at this time?
2. What were the antecedent facts in the history of Judah bearing
on this period?
3. After the death of Ahaziah who reigned in his stead, how did she
get the throne, and how was God’s promise to David made sure?
4. What was Jehu’s policy and what was his scheme to destroy Baal?
5. What right had Jehu to destroy so many people?
6. What do you think of his method and what did God command in
7. How did the Lord reward Jehu for his service and wherein did
Jehu fail?
8. Recite the story of how the royal line of David was restored.
9. How did Athaliah meet with her deserts?
10. Who was Joash’s mother and what was the bearing on. the life of
11. What was the character of Jehoiada and what were his works?
12. What was Jehoiada’s influence over Joash, what was the spiritual
condition of the kingdom of Judah at this time, what strange thing did Jehoiada do and how do you account for it?
13. What command did Joash give and what was his plan for carrying
it out?
14. What happened to Israel during the reign of Joash and what was
the character of the Syrians.
15. Who succeeded Jehu, what was his character, who oppressed Israel
during this time and what were the events in his reign?
16. How did Joash’s plan for repairing the Temple work, what was the fault with the plans and what was the lesson?
17. What new plan did they adopt and what custom perhaps originated here?
18. What order did he here reset?
19. What was the lesson here of the value of the preacher to the world?
20. What prophetic book has its setting here?
21. What distinction in Jehoiada’s burial?
22. What was his sin of omission; his sin of commission?
23. What indicates Joash’s weakness, what were his sins, what was the the origin of the high places and groves, and what was the paliation for the sins of Joash?
24. How did the Lord try to bring them back, how did they receive the Lord’s prophet’s what special case cited, how did Joash show his ingratitude in his case, and what New Testament use of this incident?
25. What was the judgment executed on Joash and how did he escape?
26. Rewrite the story of Joash’s death and contrast this death with that of Jehoiada.

2 Kings 13:10 to 14:29; 2 Chronicles 24:25 to 26:15

Jehoahaz was followed by Jehoash his son who was a better
man and an abler man and more successful. He had great en_
couragement from Elisha to fight with Syria and to redeem his
kingdom from the iron grasp of Ben_hadad. Jehoash was en_
couraged at the outset. Elisha told him to shoot his arrows
against Syria, and three times he smote upon the ground. The
prophecy came true. Three times Jehoash smote the Syrian
army and recovered the cities taken from his father by Ben_
hadad. In the meanwhile Syria and Damascus had been as_
saulted by Assyria and were brought almost to the verge of
extinction. Assyrian annals tell how the king of Assyria took
Damascus and almost destroyed it, and it was largely because
Syria was thus weakened by Assyria that Jehoash was able to
recover and relieve Israel from its oppression.
Amaziah succeeded Joash on the throne of Judah. His char_
acter is described as one who was wicked and lazy, though he
was better than the general run of the northern kings. His
policy was to destroy the servants who killed his father, but
he spared their children in accordance with the positive pro_
hibition found in Deuteronomy 24:16. Here arises a question
of the morality of the killing of Achan’s sons, Naboth’s sons
and Ahab’s sons. Two causes operated in favor of the excep_
tion to this prohibition: (1) the sons were apt to be accessories
to the crimes of their fathers and thus incriminate themselves;
and (2) the”blood feud” that was to follow. Then we should
consider these cases either under the direct command of God
or in the hands of Oriental monarchs.
In 2 Kings 13:20_21, we have recorded the last miracle of
Elisha, viz: that in his tomb. This occurred, perhaps, to give
special light to the heathen, a testimony to the power of the
God of Israel, and to encourage the king and the people with
respect to Elisha’s unfulfilled prophecies. Close upon this fol_
lows the account of the fulfilment of Elisha’s dying prophecy
and Joash’s success over Ben_hadad (2 Kings 13:23_25). In
this we note that, notwithstanding the sins of Israel, God gave
them victory over Syria for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob; that the „as yet” shows his mercy still extended to Is_
rael; that Hazael, king of Syria) died, and that Ben_hadad III,
his son, reigned in his stead.
We will find that Amaziah in the latter part of his reign
committed a very grievous and particular sin that brought a
host of evil consequences. The sin committed by him was that,
when he proposed to wage war against Edom lying south of his
territory, he hired a hundred thousand mercenary soldiers of
the Northern Kingdom to aid him in the war, and when an un_
named prophet of God comes and rebukes him, he says, „If I
don’t take these men now that I have paid for them, I will lose
my hundred talents of money.” The prophet replied, „The Lord
can give you more than that.” So he yielded to the protest of
the prophet and rejected the services of the men – a hundred
thousand – whom he had already paid for. That of course made
the mercenaries very mad. They were not only buoyed up with
the hope of their pay but the hope of capturing a great deal of
booty in the war, and when they were not permitted to go to
the war, on their return home they swept all that part of Judah
that lay between them and their own land as dry as if a fire
had passed over it. Now Amaziah having committed the sin,
first, of relying upon the mercenaries instead of relying upon
Jehovah, committed a second sin by importing the gods of
Edom for which a prophet rebuked him, and he made him for_

bear. Stirred up in his mind by these degradations that had
been committed upon his people by the hundred thousand mer_
cenaries on their way home and the prophet’s rebuke, without
consulting God or any prophet he sends a braggadocio chal_
lenge to the king of Israel, and says, „Come, set your face up
before mine,” and the king of Israel replied, „Why should you
make this challenge? It will likely prove to be very disastrous
to you.” Well, Amaziah shook his fist at him and told him to
come on and set his face up, and he did come and set his face
up, and he wiped the army of Amaziah off the face of the earth
in the great battle that followed, and Judah was sorely straight_
ened by that defeat; even Jerusalem was captured, her walls
broken down, and all her vast treasures plundered and carried
away. All this indicates that Jehoash was one of the most
fortunate, most successful, most able, and most kind and benev_
olent rulers northern Israel ever had, but at the same time
southern Israel had a foolish king.
Jehoash was succeeded by Jeroboam II, Jehoash had saved
his country from the terrible oppression of Syria, had con_
quered Judah, had obtained enormous spoils which almost set
the kingdom again upon its feet) and ushered in a period of
prosperity. He was followed by his grandson Jeroboam il, the
greatest of all the monarchs of northern Israel. Jeroboam II
was the most successful of all, for in his day nearly all of
northern Israel that had previously belonged to Solomon’s king_
dom was recovered and he reigned to the north as far as Ha_
math and to the south all the land of the Jordan and recon_
quered the land on the east side of the Jordan. The kingdom
was at the height of its prosperity under Jeroboam II.
There have been four kings of the dynasty of Jehu, and only
in the latter part of the reign of the third king, Jehoash, has
Israel in any way succeeded in loosing herself from the bonds
of oppression at the hand of Syria. The record says, „The Lord
gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the
hands of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their
tents as before time.” Who was that saviour? Some think
probably it was Jehoash, the preceding king and father of
Jeroboam II, who was the means of a threefold defeat of the
Syrian army. But it may be interpreted as referring to Jero_
boam II, the greatest of all the northern kings, who freed his
country entirely from the dominion of Syria. Price in The
Monuments and the Old Testament, thinks it refers to an As_
syrian king, Adad Nirari, who at about this time made an on_
slaught on the kingdom of Syria and especially the city of
Damascus and almost totally destroyed it. In that case he was
indeed saviour, in that he destroyed the country that was op_
pressing Israel. The dynasty of Jehu lasted altogether about
102 years and in that time there were five kings. Jeroboam II
is the fourth and greatest of all. He reigned forty_one years,
the longest reign in the history of the Northern Kingdom.
In 2 Kings 14:25 reference is made to Jonah the son of
Amittai, the prophet which was of Gathhepher. This is the time in which Jonah the prophet lived. About this time he made his
strange expedition to Nineveh the capital of Assyria, and
preached there. He had doubtless preached in northern Israel
also. At this time arises also a greater prophet, Amos, and in
the pictures which Amos gives we have a vivid and lurid repre_
sentation of the sins of northern Israel. So the reign of Jero_
boam II, though the most glorious in the history of northern
Israel, was attended by these two great prophets who pro_
nounced the inevitable and irretrievable doom of the nation.
Just as this time occurred the death of Amaziah at the hand
of his conspirators and Uzziah his son succeeded him. But ac_
cording to some authorities there was an interregnum between
Uzziah and Amaziah. This conclusion is based upon the fol_
lowing facts as given in the record: First, it says that Amaziah
died and that he had reigned fifteen years before Jeroboam II,
king of Israel. Kings and Chronicles both say that he reigned
twenty_nine years in all and that the last fifteen years of the
twenty_nine was contemporaneous with the reign of Jeroboam
II. In other words, he died in the fifteenth year of Jeroboam,
but 2 Kings 15:1 says that Uzziah his successor did not begin
to reign until the twenty_seventh year of Jeroboam, so if both
statements be correct then Judah had no king from the fifteenth
year of Jeroboam to the twenty_seventh year of Jeroboam, a
period of at least eleven years and possibly twelve. The whole
question turns on the accuracy of the text in 2 Kings 15:1 where
it says that Uzziah began to reign in the twenty_seventh year
of Jeroboam. Now, if we accept that text as accurate, then
there was an interregnum of eleven years. Josephus does not
accept it. He says the number is wrong; that it ought to be in
the fourteenth year instead of the twenty_seventh year of Jero_
boam. But it is quite easy to accept this text, not question it
at all, and then we account for that interregnum of eleven years
by the extreme youth of Uzziah when Amaziah died. He was
only five years old when Amaziah died. They seem to have
deferred making him king until he was sixteen. In other words,
there was a regency for that period of eleven years. Now, that
is the only chronological difficulty in the whole period and it is
not a very serious one.
Amaziah’s son, Uzziah, at a very tender age became king and he reigned fifty_two years. That is a long period, over half a
century. The record about it is very fine on a number of points.
While he did not destroy the high places, he did walk in the
ways of David so far as relates to the worship of Jehovah in the
appointed place in the Temple. He was a great builder of forti_
fications and towns and cities. One thing said about him con_
stitutes a fine text: He loved husbandry. In his wars he had
conquered a fine section of country, very fruitful, all the Philis_
tine country clear on to the entrance of Egypt and that Negeb,
or south country, from the days of Isaac was remarkable for
the yield of its crops. It is said of Isaac that he reaped a hun_
dredfold, i.e., if he sowed one bushel of wheat, he would reap
a hundred bushels from that one. Uzziah devoted a great deal
of attention to matters of that kind. He was very successful
in his wars, not only against Philistia but against the Arabians
and against the Ammonites. He became exalted in his power.
In 2 Kings 14:28_29 we have a summary of the reign of Je_
roboam and an account of his death. The condition of Syria
during the reign of Jeroboam II was one of weakness and con_
sequent inactivity. The great kings had come and gone, and
some weak monarchs sat on the throne which had been almost
crushed by Assyria, and was in no position to oppress Israel.
This gave Jeroboam II his opportunity. Being a great man, an
able general and administrator he carried the boundaries of
northern Israel almost as far north as David and Solomon had
done, capturing all the northern part that had been taken by
Syria. He retook all eastern Palestine as far as the land of
Moab, and likewise he recaptured the land of Moab that had
revolted and freed itself from the dynasty of Omri. The extent
of his kingdom was almost as great as that of David’s with the
exception, of course) of southern Israel, and with this great ex_
tension of his kingdom there was a great influx of wealth and
prosperity. The depression of the three reigns preceding was
followed by an abundance of prosperity and the result was a
corresponding excess of luxury and sin. Their prosperity pro_
duced all the evils of civilization, and they went to excess with
it. Jeroboam died and after an interregnum of twenty_two
years, was succeeded by his son Zechariah. This interregnum
is determined by comparing 2 Kings 14:23 and 2 Kings 15:1,

1. What was the character of Jehoash?
2. What was Elisha’s encouraging prophecy on his deathbed, and what
incidents of its delivery?
3. Who succeeded Joash and what was his character?
4. What was his policy, and where in the book of Moses is found the
statement which occurs in 2 Kings 14:6 and 2 Chronicles 25:4, and how do you harmonize this passage in Deuteronomy with the killing of Achan’s sons, Naboth’s sons, and Ahab’s sons?
5. What was the last miracle of Elisha and why this miracle?
6. Notwithstanding the sins of Israel what the Lord’s dealings with
them and why, what change occurred just at this time in Syria, and
what prophecy of Elisha was here fulfilled?
7. What were Amaziah’s plans against Edom, what was the result of
each step taken and what can you say of the cruelty of Judah?
8. How did the Israelitish mercenaries deport themselves when sent
9. What was Amaziah’s further wickedness, what was his warning and
how did he receive it?
10. Recite the account of the war between Amaziah and Jehoash,
and what was the parable of Jehoash and its application, what was the result and what is the modern name of stealing?
11. Who succeeded Jehoash and what was his character?
12. What were the possibilities of Jeroboam II, and what did he ac_
complish for Israel?
13. What prophet comes in here, what was his commission and how
did he receive and discharge it?
14. Give an account of the death of Amaziah.
15. What of the interregnum in Judah here and how does the author
determine it?
16. Uzziah – what was his other name, how was he made king, how
long his reign, and how does it compare with the reigns of others?
17. What of his character and prosperity and wherein did he fail?
18. During his prosperous years what (1) of his building of Eloth, (2)
of his success of war, (3) of his building and husbandry, (4) of his army, (5) of his fame?
19. Give an account of the death of Jeroboam II.
20. What of the interregnum here in Israel and how determined by
the author?

2 Kings 15:1 to 16:20; 2 Chronicles 26:16 to 28:17

In this chapter we begin with the brief reign of Zechariah who was the last king of the dynasty of Jehu. He was a weakling
preceded by four strong men, but himself very inferior to his
predecessors. Zechariah reigned only six months, and during
that six months we have the same story of sin and corruption
repeated as we have had in all the reigns previous to him. He
was murdered by a usurper named Shallum, and thus ends the
dynasty of Jehu as had been prophesied: that his children to
the fourth generation only should sit upon the throne.
Then follows the brief reign of Shallum. The usurper suc_
ceeds in removing Zechariah and seizes the throne. His reign
is shortlived, but during that time we have an even more terri_
ble picture of the condition of the people as described in the
book of Hosea, chapters 4 to 14. It is during this period and
after, that Hosea gives us the bulk of his prophecy. In Hosea
10:3, referring to one of these revolutions when the dynasty was
changed, we find this statement: „Surely now shall they say,
We have no king; for we fear not the Lord; and the king, what
can he do for us?” which indicates that the people felt them_
selves without a king. They cared not for God nor for the king.
The kingdom was without a head) without a central govern_
ment, the result of such condition of affairs is the anarchy
which he describes. In Hosea 4:1_2 we have a catalogue of the
sins of the people: „Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of
Israel; for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of
the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge

of God in the land; nought but swearing, and lying, and killing,
and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and
blood toucheth blood.” So frequent were the murders that the
blood of one is not dried up before another one takes place and
there is a continuous stream of blood.
Next comes the brief reign of Menahem, who seized the
throne through murder, destroyed all the dynasty preceding
him, and the brief statement made in regard to his character
would indicate that he was a man, barbarous in his ferocity, a
murderer and a relentless freebooter.
The record tells us that when Uzziah was exalted, his heart
was lifted up with pride, and he assumed to perform the func_
tions of the priesthood. He thrust himself into the Temple to
offer the incense which the law placed in other hands. There
the priest met him, bravely stood in the way of that offering,
and while the spirit of persistence was upon him, God smote
him with leprosy, and from the day that leprosy struck him he
had to be isolated from the throne and the people and though
he lived years afterward a regency was established by his son,
Jotham. It is called Uzziah’s reign, but Jotham acted as king
until his leprosy killed him.
In 2 Kings 15:19_20 and I Chronicles 5:26 we find that Pul,
king of Assyria, or the great Tiglath_Pileser, approaches the
Northern Kingdom, and Menahem had to pay a large tribute
in order to maintain his kingdom, a thousand talents of silver:
„And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the
mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to
give to the king of Assyria, so the king of Assyria turned back,
and stayed not there in the land.” Thus he was able to main_
tain his throne and kingdom by paying Tiglath_Pileser a heavy
tribute. Then follows the reign of Pekahiah, the son of Mena_
hem. He was a little improvement upon his father. In a short
time he was himself butchered by Pekah who seized the throne
and established another dynasty. His character was in line

with. the other kings of Israel in general: „He departed not
from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.”
About this time Uzziah died. It is notable that he was buried
„in the field of burial with his fathers, for they said, He was a
leper.” Just at this time, Isaiah, the greatest of Old Testament
prophets, had his vision, and also the prophetic work of Amos
and Hosea of Israel and Micah of Judah falls in this period.
From these prophets we get a fine description of the customs
and practices of this time.
Upon the death of Uzziah, his son Jotham, reigned in his
stead. His mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok.
His character was ahead of any other king in the period except
Hezekiah. He didn’t put down the high places, but he didn’t
commit particular sins to aggravate the condition of the peo_
ple. He carried forward some important building enterprises.
He built the upper gate of the Temple, the wall of Ophel, cities
in the hill country of Judah and castles and towers in the forest.
He was also successful in war with the Ammonites who paid
him large tribute.
During the reign of Pekah several things happened. The
kingdom was now nearing its end and we read that Pul, the
great Assyrian king approached eastern Palestine, conquered it,
deported the entire population „and brought them unto Halah,
and Habor and Hara, and to the river of Gozan,” and there they
remained. Tiglath_Pileser was the first of the great Assyrians
that inaugurated the system of deporting a rebellious people,
thus rendering them powerless to oppose him. He picked them
up, and transported them to other countries, and brought in
others to take their places, simply transferred whole nations.
Thus all eastern Palestine had gone into exile.
We now come to Ahaz and the whole picture is black. He
reigned sixteen years and he crowded into that time as much
meanness, vileness, as a man can put into sixteen years. Let us
glance at the record itself to see some of the things that he did.
In the sketch of his character it is said, „He did not that which
was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his fa_
ther. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea,
and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the
abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from
before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt
incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every
green tree.” There was a confederacy formed against him to
which the prophets give particular notice. The king of Israel
and the king of Syria entered into an alliance to destroy Judah.
Here the prophet Oded comes in and the record says, „Behold,
because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was wroth with
Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have
slain them in a rage which hath reached up unto heaven. And
now ye purpose to keep the children of Judah and Jerusalem
for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not even
with you trespasses of your own against the Lord your God?”
You acted as the sword of God against Judah. Ought it not
to put you to thinking that God would make some other nation
the sword against you? ‘Spurgeon has a great sermon on that
text: „Are there not even with you trespasses of your own
against the Lord your God?” Spurgeon preached his sermon
to those harsh censorious people who with an eye of a buzzard
can detect anything fowl, or dead, or decaying in the char_
acter of other people, and he made this charge in the sermon:
„You that condemn others, you who are so ready to pass a
harsh and inexorable judgment upon them, are there not even
with you some trespasses against the Lord your God?” Our
Lord carried out the thought thus: „What judgment ye mete
unto others shall be measured unto you.” Not only was Ahaz
smitten by this confederacy from the north, but the Edomites
on the south revolted against him; on every side the enemies
came in and smote him.
Now we come to his next sin. Instead of turning to God
with repentance and asking the Lord to help him he seeks an
alliance with Tiglath_pileser, the king of Assyria, and invites
him to smite Syria for a consideration: „Now I will foot the
bills.” In order to foot the bills he strips the house of God of
all of its precious ornaments and with that gold he buys the
service of the Assyrian king to smite the Syrians and the Assy_
rian was ready enough to do the smiting. He had an eye in
that direction already and he did smite, but he demanded that
Ahaz should come up to Damascus and pay tribute to him.
So we come to the third great sin of Ahaz. When in Damas_
cus he studied the form of the altar of burnt offerings that the
idolaters had up there and was very much pleased with it; so
before he leaves he sends a plan of it to a certain priest and
instructs him to make one just like it, and when he gets home
he moves God’s altar off to one side, and puts up this heathen
altar that he had copied. He didn’t stop at that; he shut up
the holy place, and closed up all the services of the worship
of the true God. That gives some idea of his sins.
In 2 Kings 15:29 we have the account of another terrible
deportation by Tiglath_Pileser. He came „and took Ijon, and
Abel_beth_maacah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and
Gilead, and Galilee, all of the land of Naphtali, and he carried
them captive to Assyria.” Thus we see that northern Israel
was stripped of all of its land east of the Jordan and of all its
land north of the plain of Esdraelon, and only the hill country
of Ephraim was left, about one_tenth perhaps of the entire
dominion. So the kingdom is going, falling, being stripped of
its possessions gradually.
In 2 Kings 15:30_31, we have an account of the death of
Pekah, which was the result of a conspiracy of Hoshea, the
son of Remaliah. But between Pekah and Hoshea we find,
according to good authority,” another itnerregnum of nine
years which is determined by comparing 2 Kings 15:27, 30 and
2 Kings 17:1.

1. Who succeeded Jeroboam II, and what was his character?
2. How long did he reign, what was the manner of his death, and
what promise of Jehovah was fulfilled in him?
3. Who succeeded Zechariah and what was the story of his reign and
4. Who succeeded Shallum and what was his character?
5. What was Uzziah’s sin, what was its punishment and what is meant
by „several house”?
6. Who became king regent and what was his special work as such?
7. What invasion of Israel just here and what results?
8. Who succeeded Menahem, what was his character and what the
manner of his death?
9. Who succeeded Pekahiah and what was his character?
10. What is notable in the death and burial of Uzziah, what great
prophet had his vision in the year of Uzziah’s death, and what other prophets came in this period?
11. Who succeeded Uzziah, who his mother and what his character?
12. What was the spiritual condition of his people, what of his build_
ing enterprises and what of his conquest and result?
13. What deportation of Israel here, who took them and where, and
what the market condition of Judah at this time?
14. Who succeeded Jotham, what was his character, and what horrible
thing did he practice?
15. Recite the account of the war between Ahaz and Rezin and Pekah
including the account of Isaiah and the work of Oded the prophet.
16. What invasion here of Judah, what was the result and what rea_
son assigned?
17. What distressed condition of Ahaz at this time, to what source did
he turn for relief and what result?
18. What second deportation of Israel, who took them and where?
19. Recite the story of Ahaz’s sacrilege and its lessons.
20. What of the interregnum between Pekah and Hoshea and how de_
termined by the author?

8 Kings 16:20 to 17:41; 8 Chronicles 28:27 to 31:21

The reign of Hoshea is another new dynasty since Pekah
was murdered; his dynasty has ended and Hoshea comes to
the throne. Tiglath_Pileser says in his inscriptions that it was
at his instigation that Hoshea rose up against Pekah and mur_
dered him, and that it was upon his word that Hoshea was
placed upon the throne and established there. So say the
monumental inscriptions. This is the last dynasty and the
last king in this awful history of the downfall of Israel.
We come now to look at the first six years of the reign of
Hezekiah. From this part of his reign we gather the following
First of all, let us look at his character as described thus:
„He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord according
to all that David his father had done. He removed the high
places and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and
brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made, for
unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it;
and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord God of
Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the
kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave
to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept
his commandments which the Lord commanded Moses. And
the Lord was with him and he prospered whithersoever he
went forth.” On Sunday night when I was a young pastor in
Waco, I announced that as my text, „Nehushtan,” meaning,
„It is only a piece of brass.” Moses made the serpent and it

served admirably for _the healing of the people, and it was right
to wish to keep a memorial of such a marvelous thing as the
deliverance from the snakes in the desert, but there is a spirit
in the world to worship the antique, to gather relics and to
worship them, and so in later days that happened. The aer_
pent that Moses had made became an object of worship. It
became one of their gods. Now Hezekiah says, „It is just a
piece of brass,” and he brake it in pieces. In the sermon I
applied that to the misuses that are made of baptism and the
Lord’s Supper; that when a priest stands over a wafer and
mumbles a few words and says to the bread, „Thou art my
God,” then it is time to say, „It is just a piece of bread”; time
to say, „Nehushtan,” and when a man magnifies baptism until
he finds the remission of his sins in a pool of water, and when
it becomes such a sacrament that just to touch a wet finger
to the brow of an unconscious babe will make it a member of
Christ, then it is time to say, „Nehushtan.” That was the di_
rection of my sermon.
Now let us see the great things done by Hezekiah. In his
reformation he destroyed those high places throughout the
whole country, so that Jehovah only was worshiped. Second,
he destroyed not only the brazen serpent but he brought about
a widespread spirit of iconoclasm. „Icon” means an image,
and „Iconoclast,” an image breaker. One of the most notable
features of the revolts against the Spaniards and against Rome
in the lower countries was that the Iconoclasts came to the
front. Crosses, imnages, anything in the world that men bow
down to and worship violates the command, „Thou shall not
make unto thee any graven image and bow down before it to
worship it”; all these the Iconoclasts broke to pieces. It in_
tensified the bitterness between the Protestants in the Low_
Country and the Spaniards, and there were periods of Icono_
clastic outbreakings in many other countries, but Hezekiah
determined so far as he was concerned in the sense of his re_
sponsibility to God that no image however sacred in its mem_
ory, even as sacred as that of the brazen serpent, should be
the object of worship, and to prevent it he would destroy the
image. Image worship is exceedingly convenient. History
tells us about an ancient people whose god was a piece of dough, flour dough, molded into form. There was this virtue about that god: that in a time of famine they could eat him. Isaiah uses sarcasm where he describes the image worship and how those gods were made; that having eyes they see not, and having ears they hear not. Bob Ingersoll was fond of quoting rather than originating the saying, „A god is the noblest work of
man.” In other words, he was saying that gods are made by
men, and not men by gods. Well, anyhow, the gods that men
make are not deities and we should break them as fast as we
come to them.
The next thing that he did was to cleanse and renovate the
Temple, inasmuch as his father had defiled it by putting in a
new altar and closing up the holy place and breaking up all
the services. So Hezekiah cleansed the Temple with great
formality and publicity, and then reconsecrated it to the
service of God. He put all of its furniture back into its proper
place. He revised every important part of the worship, even
the service of music. He re_established the Levitical choir and
the Levitical instruments of praise and the use of the psalter
was in existence before Hezekiah’s time. Then as the clouds
were darkening around the Northern Kingdom, as their doom
was impending, he sent out an invitation to all the true wor_
shipers of God in the Northern Kingdom inviting them to come
and join him in the great passover to be celebrated according
to the law of Moses, and the record tells us that a multitude of
the Northern Kingdom did come and align themselves with him
in the observance of the Passover, and in connection with that
we have this Scripture: „A multitude of the people even men
of Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not
cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise
than it was written; but Hezekiah prayed for them saying,
The Lord God pardon every one, that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary, and the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.” I call attention to that passage particularly on account of the use made of it by pedobaptists in replying to Baptists on the subject of commun-ion. They say, „You Baptists insist upon the water cleansing before communion; that a man should not partake of the com-munion unless there has been the previous ablution of baptism. And as the communion was established on a Passover occasion it meant a transition from the Passover of the Old Testament to the Lord’s Supper of the New Testament, and as here in the days of Hezekiah were people who did partake of the Passover not according to the law, and God forgave them, so it ought to be in the communion.” The Baptist reply to it is, „You should not plead in defense of a custom of historical violation of the law, confessed to be a violation of the law, confessed to be a sin, a sin that had to be presented to God and for which pardon had to be obtained. Your Hezekiah case is against you.” So the Baptists have the best of it in this case.
Following that Passover he kept an additional seven days
and this is said about it: „So there was great joy in Jerusalem:
for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel
there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests and the
Levites arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard,
and their prayer came up to the holy dwelling place, even unto
heaven.” To me this account of the reformation wrought by
Hezekiah has always been a most interesting section of the
Bible to read and a most profitable one. I never read it with_
out being impressed in my mind profoundly with the good
that comes in going back to the first principles, in going back
to God’s written word and there on the strength of that word
sending up a petition to the throne of grace for mercy and be_
ing convinced that mercy and help and the power of God will
come down upon us.
The next item in his reformation is that he restores all the
original Levitical services and the whole tithe system for the
support of those services. Now that is all I have to say here
about the reign of Hezekiah.
We learn from the prophets that three mighty natural events
occurred in this period. In 1:1 we have the statement that
Amos commenced his prophecy in the second year before the
great earthquake. There was an earthquake that figured in
the memory of the people for a long time. In Zechariah 14 a
much later prophecy, we find a reference to that great earth_
quake that came to pass during this period. Then in Amos
8:9 we have an account of an eclipse of the sun at midday
which took place in this period, about 763 B.C. The sun went
down at noon. That eclipse is not only mentioned in the Bible,
but we find in the inscriptions on the monuments raised by
neighboring nations a reference to that eclipse at that very
date. Not only that, but modern astronomers by a mathemati_
cal calculation prove that just at that date an eclipse became
visible to all parts of Palestine, a total eclipse of the sun.
Another great event that occurred during this period was
the visit of the locusts set forth in Joel, one of the most vivid
descriptions in human literature. There is much literature on
the subject of locust plagues, from Moses’ account of them in
the plague on Pharaoh to the latest account by travelers in
Africa, but Joel’s description is the most remarkable in the
world, except the one in Revelation which is a plague of sym_
bolic locusts.
In connection with the reigns of Uzziah, Ahaz, and Heze_
kiah there comes out on the stage the greatest of the prophets.
The most evangelistic of all the prophets, Isaiah. The record
tells us that he wrote the latter part of the history of Uzziah.
Now it is in Isaiah particularly that we find the best descrip_
tion of the moral condition of the people during this period.
Now let us turn to Hoshea and the Northern Kingdom. In
order to maintain the integrity of his kingdom, Hoshea pays

tribute to Tiglath_Pileser. On the death of Tiglath_Pileser and the ascendancy of Shalmaneser he continues to pay a heavy tribute: „Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria, and Hoshea became his servant and brought him presents,” which means the paying of heavy tribute. He might have been secure upon his throne for years had he continued to pay this tribute, but he did not. He began to conspire with Egypt to throw off the yoke of Shalmaneser: „And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to the king of Egypt, and offered no presents to the king of Assyria as he had done year by year.” He conspired with the king of Egypt and refused to pay his tribute to Shalmaneser. This is the occasion of the downfall of Hoshea and of the end of the Northern King-dom. Shalmaneser at once set in motion his armed force. Samaria is encompassed and besieged, and after a terrible siege with all the horrors attendant upon a siege in that country and age, Samaria fell into the hands of Shalmaneser. Shalmaneser dies and is succeeded by Sargon who captures Samaria and deports the inhabitants, and he says in one of his inscriptions that he carried off 27,290 people and placed them in the land of Assyria, leaving only the poorer classes in the country. This occurred in 722 B.C., the date of the fall of Samaria, and the end of the Northern Kingdom. We have the causes which led to it pictured in the prophecies of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. Hoshea’s conspiring with Egypt and refusing to pay tribute to Assyria is the occasion for the destruction of the kingdom.
Notice the repeopling of the country: „And the king of Assy_
ria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from
Awa, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in
the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they
possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.” Now
notice that the population is so scattered that the wild ani_
mals increase, the lions become so plentiful that they devour
them, and the people feel that they haven’t the right god. They
do not know the god of these hills, and they want to be taught
how to worship him in the right way. So they appeal to the
king of Assyria and he sends them a priest to teach them how
to worship the good of this land, and the result is that we have
a mixture, a conglomeration, a mongrel race, and a mongrel
religion, described thus: „Howbeit every nation made gods of
their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which
the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein
they dwelt. . . . They feared the Lord and served their own
gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they
had been carried away.” They feared Jehovah whom they
thought to be the god of this hill country, but they served
other gods. So we have the strange mixture of these people
brought from the various parts of Assyria, Jews who were resi_
dents of Israel, and all these other various forms of gods mixed
up with Jehovah worship, a strange mixture indeed. These
were the forerunners, or ancestors of the Samaritans, whom we
find in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and in the New Testa_
ment. We know something of their attitude toward Israel.
They have remained there from the time they were transported
by Sargon unto this day, and today there is a colony of them
there, about one hundred and seventy people, the remnant of
this old mongrel race. They still have their old customs, their
patriarchs, the Pentateuch, the law of Moses, and they keep
the sabbath even more strictly than the Pharisees did. This
closes the history of northern Israel.

1. Who was the last king of Israel and what was his character?
2. Who was king of Judah when Israel was carried into captivity and
what was his character?
3. What did he do that no other king had done since the division of
the kingdom?
4. What relic of Moses was worshiped by Israel and what did he do
with it?
5. In what particulars did his religious reformation consist?
6. What were the essential points in the cleansing of the Temple?
7. Describe the reconsecration service.
8. Describe his keeping of the Passover, (1) as to the preparation,
(2) as to celebration, (3) as to “other seven days,” (4) as to the results.
9. What were the essential points in Hezekiah’s further religious
10. What three remarkable events fall within this period and what
their significance? .
11. What great prophet comes on the stage here and what was his
greatest characteristic? , .
12. What was his relation to Uzziah and to this period of history!
13. What was the condition of Israel at this time, how did Hoshea
try to extricate himself and what was the result?
14. Who was the king of Assyria at this time and where did he carry
the children of Israel? .
15. What were the sins of Israel for which they were carried away
into captivity? . .
16. What were God’s efforts to save them from their sins and what
were the results?
17. How was Samaria repeopled?
18. What was their idea of God?
19 How did God rebuke the disregard of him by the new inhabitant?
20. What of the mixed character of the religion of the Samaritans?

2 Kings 18:7 to 20:21; 2 Chronicles 32:1_33

In the preceding chapter we have briefly considered the first
six years of the reign of Hezekiah noting particularly the great
religious reformation wrought by him.
Now we are going to consider the reign of Hezekiah after
the Northern Kingdom was destroyed. The first thing for us
to do is to get clearly before our minds the prevalent political
relations of the time. Syria which had been a powerful factor,
has gone out of sight, and Assyria with its capital at Nineveh
was now the great northern power. We have seen that Assy_
rian power destroy the Northern Kingdom and in the days of
Ahaz we have seen an alliance between Assyria and Ahaz.
Ahaz appealed to the Assyrian king to help him against Israel
and Syria. Now when the Assyrian king, for his own purpose,
entered into this alliance and destroyed both Syria and Israel,
he naturally wanted Judah also, and we have seen that Ahaz
became tributary to the Assyrian king. Ahaz king of Judah was the father of Hezekiah who inherited from this wicked father this subordination to the Assyrian king paying tribute to him. Now, on the south, Egypt, which had varied fortunes from be-fore the days of Abraham, was once more a great world power; so we see the little kingdom of Judah, with Hezekiah at the head of it, as a grain of corn between an upper and a nether millstone. Judah lies right in the path between Egypt and Assyria. The Assyrian king wanted Judah, not only to guarantee the safety of his possessions in the Northern Kingdom, but also as a base from which to strike his rival, the kingdom of Egypt, and the king of Egypt wanted Judah as a base for striking the king of Assyria. That is the political
relation, except that Just now was rising at Babylon a power that would absorb Assyria. It had not come largely to the front yet, but it was coming fast, and when it did come to the front as the world power there was no Assyria, and the two powers then were Egypt and Babylon, and Egypt and Babylon bad Judah in between them. Now that is a glance at the chief political relations.
Subordinate political relations are these: Philistia, of course,
never altogether conquered, was there as a thorn in the side of
Judah. Edom, or Esau, to the south, was also a thorn in the side of Judah. And various governments of Arabia – the Ishmaelit-ish descendants – were ready at any time to strike a blow at Judah. In the same way Moab and Ammon descendants of Lot to the east of the Dead Sea, were ready to strike at Judah. Then there was Tyre and Phoenicia, another great world power, which had been for a long time, ever since the days of Hiram
and even before Hiram’s time, and the later history of Judah
will have much to do with Phoenicia and not on the friendly
terms that it had with Phoenicia in the days of David and
Now the next thing to look at is the religious status at the
time Hezekiah came to the throne. From the beginning
the religious status in the Northern Kingdom was bad, and
going all the time from bad to worse until purely on religious
grounds, turning away from Jehovah, that nation was wiped
out, but before it was wiped out, through the marriage of the
daughter of Jezebel the queen of the Israelitish kingdom to the
son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah – through that marriage
various religious evils came into the Southern Kingdom. Now
when Ahaz, a descendant of that unrighteous marriage, came
to the throne, he, on becoming tributary to the king of Assyria,
became tributary in religion as well as in territory and in
political suzerainty. He adopted the gods of the people. We
have then this picture: All of the high places where stone pil_
lars and wooden images called „Asherim” were worshiped that
had never been abated by the kings of Judah before Hezekiah’s

time. The worship of Jehovah had ceased in its songs, particu_
larly the Davidic psalter. The door of the Temple was closed.
The altar of sacrifice was removed, and the altar of a heathen
god was put in its place. All of the regular servants that con_
ducted the religious worship were either degraded from office
or persuaded or compelled to become the officiating ministers
at the altars of the false religion. Not merely was this so, but
Ahaz had erected in the valley of Hinnom an image of Molech,
the Ammonite god, and a hideous fellow he was. It was a
hollow iron image with a furnace under the bottom of it and
with iron arms extended, and when that furnace heated this
image red hot they would worship their god by laying naked
babies in the arms of that image, and to drown their cries they
would beat drums and make all kinds of noise. Ahaz burned
one or two of his babies that way.
Now from this valley of Hinnom we get the New Testament
idea of the eternal hell, Gehenna. On account of the desecra_
tion through the worship of Molech in that valley a later curse
made it the ground in which the refuse from the city was
dumped and burned, and as the refuse never ceased accumulat_
ing, the decaying meats, the rotting bones, the off_scourings,
fire had to be kept burning all the time, and wherever there are
rotting meats there will be worms; so it became an eternal fire,
and an undying worm in that valley which suggested or fore_
shadowed the description of the real, final hell, Gehenna, in
which soul and body are destroyed, where the worm dieth not
and the fire is not quenched.
Not only was this true, but they had adopted methods of
ascertaining the future, sorcery, witchcraft, and in order to
get a clear view of either the political or religious situation of
the time we must study the contemporary prophets. I give
here a passage on that idea of the religious condition from
Isaiah 8. He is prophesying concerning this very period: „And
when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have fa_
miliar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter:
should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the liv_
ing, should any seek unto the dead? To the law and to the
testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is
because there is no light in them.” The old Mosaic law had
taken cognizance of the disposition of the people to make in_
quisition concerning the future from the alleged spirits of the
dead. Just as in modern times people through rappings and
mediums and trances try to find out the state of their own
departed and their own prospects in the future world. It is an
awful offense against God.
In addition to this is another innovation, and I am not right
sure that I or anybody else fully understands the significance
of it. Ahaz had constructed on the Temple steps that led up
to the platform on which a shadow would fall from the sun, a
dial, and it has been conjectured by many intelligent com_
mentators that, through that shadow and that dial, he wor_
shiped the signs of the Zodiac. The dial was put there by
Ahaz. We find that Dr. Thirtle of England, in a new book
entitled, Old Testament Problems, attributes an entire section
of the Psalms to an incident in Hezekiah’s life connected with
this dial of Ahaz.
Just now we want to understand, not only the religious forms of worship, but also the moral condition of the people, and here again we get our best information from the prophets.
Passages in Hosea give the immoralities of the contemporary
Northern Kingdom, but having also some references to Judah,
and likewise in Joel and in Amos, and considerable in Micah.
Micah comes in largely in the history of Hezekiah and from his
prophecy and Isaiah we find out the fearful religious and moral
decadence of the people. But turning aside from other proph_
ets, let us, as an example, consider the picture given of the
times by Isaiah. In the first five chapters of Isaiah we have a
summary of that condition, religious and moral, during all the
period from Uzziah to Hezekiah. That is a part of the book
that used this language: „The ox knoweth his owner, and the
ass its master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth
not consider. I have smitten them until the whole head is sick,

and the whole heart is faint, and from the crown of the head
to the sole of the foot there is nothing but wounds and bruises
and putrefying sores.” Then he gives a description of the lead_
ing women of the country. We know that from the women in
high society we may get an idea of the depravity of the times.
A picture of the ladies of any period is always very helpful
to an understanding of that period. Here it is: „The daughters of Zion are haughty, and they walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet.” We have read about the old woman
That has rings on her fingers,
And bells on her toes,
So that she makes music
Wherever she goes.
These women of Judah had tinkling anklets so that every step
was a jingle like a cowboy’s inch_in_diameter spurs with the
tags hanging to them. Isaiah goes on: „Therefore the Lord
will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters
of Zion, and Jehovah will lay bare their secret parts. In that
day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, and
the cauls, and the crescents; the pendants, and the bracelets,
and the mufflers; the headtires, and the ankle chains, and the
sashes, and the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the rings and
the nose_jewels; the festival robes, and the mantles, and the
shawls, and the satchels; the hand_mirrors, and the fine linens,
and the turbans, and the veils. And it shall come to pass, that
instead of sweet spices there shall be rottenness; and instead
of a girdle, a rope; and instead of well set hair, baldness; and
instead of a robe, a girding of sackcloth; branding instead of
beauty.” Now wherever that is the case among the ladies of
the upper class that land is sick. We may get a view of the
men from the prophetic woes denounced by Isaiah. I read
these woes to U. S. Senator Coke of Waco (found in Isaiah
5). He asked me to copy for him the one relating to monopoly
on land as containing a suggestion that he had never had from
any other direction before and that he wanted to use.
Now that picture of woes gives us a conception of the moral
condition of the time when Hezekiah began to reign. Idols on
every hill, the Temple of God closed, no inquirers at the oracle
of God, but looking out for witches and spirit rappers, me_
diums, and appealing to the dead. That was the awful state
of affairs. Now when Hezekiah, the son of the wicked king
came, he was more commended of God than any other king
in the dynasty of David until Jesus came. It is expressly said
that there was none like him before and none like him after,
and that he sought the Lord with his whole heart, and when
it came to political relations his policy was not diplomacy but
obedience to Jehovah. Once or twice in his life he was led
to turn somewhat from that but came back quickly to his old
original policy, and the best diplomacy in the world is to be
true to God and the principles of righteousness. Bismarck
startled all the diplomats of Europe by simply telling the truth
and announcing in plain language the policy of Germany. None
of them believed it. They said, „Of course, he is telling a lie.
All diplomats lie,” and he couldn’t possibly have startled them
more than by using absolute candor.
Hezekiah was not only a righteous king, but he was a great
poet. Isaiah preserves one of his grand poems at full length,
found in Isaiah 38. Not only was he a literary genius but he
revived literature. In his day there was a constellation of lit_
erary geniuses. He revived all of the great psalter of David,
and particularly did he exercise himself to put in order the
canon of the Scripture up to his time. A sample is found in
Proverbs 25; here we have this statement: „These also are
proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of
Judah copied out.” Now from chapter 25 on, all the books of
Proverbs was compiled in the days of Hezekiah, and we find
in another reference that which we have briefly considered in
a preceding chapter, that in the same way he revised the psalms
of the first two books of the psalter. The psalms of David
are divided into five books. The first two books of the psalms
were used as songs in the Temple in the days of Hezekiah, and
the book entitled Problems of the Old Testament, by Dr.
Thirtle of England, brings out more light on the days of Heze_
kiah and his reign than all the commentaries ever written by
other men put together. It is an essential contribution to bibli_
cal literature. It explains as no other book explains, what are
called the songs of degrees in the psalter. But I would have the
reader take with more than a grain of salt what Dr. Thirtle’s
book says of the Cyrus references in the prophecy of Isaiah.
Now taking up our lesson proper, the chief events of the
reign of Hezekiah, let us study them seriatim.
In 2 Kings 18:7 it says that he rebelled against the king of
Assyria. Ahaz, in order to strengthen and protect himself
against the coalition of Pekah king of Israel and Rezin king of
Damascus, had appealed to Tiglath_Pileser the king of Assy_
ria for protection. In order to secure that protection from the
Assyrian king, Ahaz had to pay a large tribute annually, so
that when Hezekiah came to the throne, there was no question
but that he had also to pay annual tribute to the king of Assy_
ria to preserve the integrity of his realm. Then he waged a
successful war against the Philistines, the old enemies of Israel.
They had been gaining in strength for some time. The king_
dom of Israel had been somewhat weakened and now Hezekiah
attacked them and completely defeated them. Why he did
this we are not sure. Probably he did it in order to bring them
to unite with him and the other kingdoms in throwing off the
yoke of Assyria. It is certain from secular history that Heze_
kiah seized one of the kings of Philistia and shut him up in
prison at Jerusalem because he was friendly to the king of
Assyria. We find this in Sennacherib’s own account of his
relationship with the Philistines. But Hezekiah could not
withstand Sennacherib’s first invasion, and therefore he be_
came tributary to Assyria, taking the treasures of the Temple,
and cutting off the gold from the doors and pillars of the Tem_
ple, he gave them to the king of Assyria.
Now we come to consider the crisis in the life of Hezekiah;
his sickness, recovery, and songs, 2 Kings 20:1_11. We don’t
know Just when this occurred, but probably somewhere about
711 or 710 B.C. He had been reigning about fourteen years.
„Sick unto death,” it says. And from what we see later in
verse 7, there was a boil upon him. Bennett, in his book on the
diseases of the Bible, says that it was a carbuncle. Some have
maintained that it was a cancer. Thirtle believed that it was
a form of leprosy. The same Hebrew word is used to describe
it as is used to describe the boils on the people of Egypt. There
are certain kinds of boils that appear with leprosy. So we are
not sure just what the trouble was, but it was something seri_
ous. The word comes to Hezekiah, „Thus saith the Lord, Set
thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live.” Heze_
kiah felt the effect of these words. It was a staggering blow.
It meant that he would be cut off in the middle of his days;
it meant that there would be no heir left to the throne of David;
it meant that the splendid religious reformation would die out
and be lost; it meant that in this critical period of Israel’s life
the throne would be vacant, and then what would become of
the kingdom? Is it any wonder that he turned his face toward
the wall and prayed? Now, what is his argument? It is this:
that since he had been righteous, since he had obeyed Jehovah,
since he had been true, he therefore ought to live to a ripe old
age. Hezekiah thought that he was entitled to a long life, and
he was in terrible gloom and despair. He presents that argu_
ment in his prayer: „Remember now, 0 Lord I beseech thee,
how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect
heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.” The
Lord heard that prayer, and as Isaiah was departing and in
the midst of the city, the Lord said unto him, „Isaiah, turn
again, and say to Hezekiah the prince of my people, Thus saith
the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy
prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the
third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I
will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee
and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will
defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s
sake.” That was such a gracious promise to Hezekiah, he
could hardly believe it. „In three days you will go up to the
house of Jehovah.” Hezekiah says, „What sign will there be
to assure me?” So Isaiah makes the statement that the sign
shall be that the shadow of the dial of Ahaz will go forward
ten or backward ten steps or degrees. And Hezekiah replies,
„It is nothing for it to go forward ten steps, it will naturally
go that way as the sun goes down.” „All right,” says Isaiah,
„the shadow of the steps shall go backward ten degrees.” No
doubt Hezekiah could see this dial from the window of his
palace. Ahaz set this sundial near his palace and evidently
some sort of a pillar was arranged, so that the shadow would
be cast on so many steps. We do not know how many there
were, but there were more than twenty, and as the sun rose it
would cast its shadow upon those steps and mark periods of
time. As the sun set in the evening the shadow would be cast
in a different way, and each step would mark a period of time.
Now if the shadow on those steps was sent backward, that
would be a sign sufficient. How could it be possible for the
shadow to be thrown backward, as if the sun were rising in_
stead of setting? It can be explained by the laws of refraction,
but it was a miracle just the same. Hezekiah saw it and doubt_
less he was in the Temple worshiping Jehovah in three days.
Now let us consider the visitors or the ambassadors from
Babylon. The record says, „At that time Merodach_baladan
the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present
unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been
sick.” The real object was to see the condition of his king_
dom, to find out Hezekiah’s strength, to find out what treasures
he had, and if possible to secure his co_operation in a league
against Assyria, for Babylon at this time was nearly independ_
ent of Assyria, and was seeking to throw off her yoke entirely.
There is no question but what that was the real object. We arc
told that Hezekiah showed them all his treasures, and they
were well pleased. Isaiah didn’t like it and he said, „You are
very courteous to them because they have come so far. They
didn’t come from such a great distance; you may make a league
now but before very long the king of Babylon shall come and
take your descendants, and all your treasures and people, your
children, and shall carry them away.” This was, of course,
fulfilled literally within almost a hundred years.
Hezekiah accumulates great wealth and engages in many
building enterprises: „Hezekiah had exceeding riches and
honor.” He built him treasuries for all his riches, storehouses
for the increase of corn and wine, etc., stalls for beasts and
flocks, provided him cities and had possession of flocks and
beasts in abundance, strengthened and improved the water
works around about Jerusalem making more direct the con_
nection between the waters of Sihon and the city of David.
All this indicates that Hezekiah was something like Solomon
in his prosperity, wealth and enterprises, as well as in name,
fame and honor.
Now we come to the revolt against Assyria and the in_
vasion of Judah by the Assyrian king. As we have already
noted, „He rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served
him not.” Somewhere about this time Hezekiah made up his
mind no longer to pay tribute but to throw off the yoke of
Assyria, and of course that means that the king of Assyria
would at once take steps to bring him back into subjection.
It means also that other nations besides Hezekiah’s would
throw off the yoke, and Assyria makes a swift march to
Palestine along the coast down to Philistia, and there gains
a great victory over the Philistines. We see that from his
situation there in Philistia he sent an army and captured all
the cities and villages of Judah except Jerusalem, and in
Sennacherib’s own record we have this statement: „But Heze_
kiah of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke – forty_six
of his fenced cities and fortresses, and small towns in their
vicinity without number, by breaking them out with battering
rams, and the bows of . . . and the strokes of axes and
hammers, I besieged and took 200,150 persons, – small and
great, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, large cat_
tie, small cattle, without number, I brought forth from the
midst of them, and counted as spoil. As for Hezekiah him_
self, like a bird in a cage, in Jerusalem, his royal city, I shut
him up. I threw up forts against him, and whoever would
come out of the gates of the city I turned back. As for Heze_
kiah himself the fear of the glory of my sovereignty over_
whelmed him; and the Arabs and his other allies, whom he
had brought to strengthen Jerusalem, the city of his royal
residence, deserted him. Thirty talents of gold, and eight
hundred talents of silver, . . . great stores of lapis_lazuli,.
couches of ivory, arm_chairs of ivory [covered] with ele_
phant’s hide, ivory tusks, ussu wood, and the like, an immense
treasure, and his daughters, his palace women, men singers,
women singers, to Nineveh, my royal city, I made him bring,
and for the delivery of the tribute, and rendering homage, he
sent his ambassador.”
Allowing for the boastfulness of the Assyrian, there is still a
great difference between the account of Sennacherib and the
sacred writer. In some respects however, they supplement each
The Bible account says, „And the king of Assyria appointed
unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver
and thirty talents of gold.” The difference in the quantity of
silver may be accounted for by a difference in the size of the
talent. The sacred writer omits the other items including the
deportation of over 200,000 inhabitants. He merely says that
he came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took
them. Thus we find fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah in an
earlier chapter. Assyria is God’s hired razor that will shave all
the cities of Judah except Jerusalem, and will overwhelm it
and overflow it right up to the neck, leaving Jerusalem alone
(Isa. 7:20; 8:7_8).
Hezekiah takes great precautions against the onslaught of
the Assyrian. When he saw that Sennacherib had come he at
once began to strengthen Jerusalem; to see that the water sup_
ply was made good. He cut off all the outward sources of water
and brought them within the walls of the city, reorganized the
army, stirred up his people and made them ready for the attack
of the Assyrians. That was a terrible time. The Assyrians were
near and what did that mean? The Assyrian with his invincible
host! The people would be in a panic all around the country,
the strangers and stragglers would come into the city, soldiers
would come from there and the couriers would come from the
Philistine Plain, and the whole people was in a state of turmoil
and anguish.
Very soon word comes that they are coming up the defiles,
and quickly the large army of Assyria appears before the walls
of Jerusalem, and the choice valleys around are filled with
foreign soldiers. Sennacherib sends three of his officers, one of
whom was a great diplomat. Hezekiah is within his palace)
Isaiah within his home, the army is before the city walls, and
three messengers of Hezekiah are at the wall to hear the chief
of the officers sent by Sennacherib Rabshakeh. He is an As_
syrian, he has been trained in her schools, he knows three
languages, he is a master in the art of diplomacy, and here is
a great opportunity for him to try his skill; he stands before
the walls and makes his speech. Hezekiah’s men give him no
answer. They have Isaiah’s words that Jerusalem should be
saved. He had prophesied two or three times that the Assyrian
would be destroyed, before he could make his onslaught on
The officers of Jerusalem said to Rabshakeh, „Don’t talk to
us in the Jews’ language; talk to us in the Syrian language,”
but Rabshakeh pays no attention to this; he cries out to the
shrinking people in the Hebrew language, showing that he is
a skilled diplomat and master of several languages. He says
to them, „Hearken not to Hezekiah; for thus saith the king of
Assyria, Make your peace with me, and come out to me, and
eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and
drink ye every one of the waters of his own cistern; until I come
and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn
and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and
of honey.” That is a fine stroke of diplomatic reasoning to in_
duce them to surrender. It would have its effect on the multi_
tude. The ambassadors on the walls went back weeping and
told Hezekiah. Hezekiah rent his clothes and covered himself
with sackcloth, and went to the house of Jehovah. Then he
sent for the prophet. What does he say? „This is a day of
trouble, and of rebuke, and of contumely: for the children are
come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.”
Faith has come to its trying moment and it seems as if it were
going to fail. How many a man’s faith has sustained him till
the crisis comes and then fails him. Isaiah has been prophesy_
ing for years that the Assyrian shall be destroyed. He says, „It
is all right. I will put a spirit in him [Sennacherib], and he will
hear a rumor and will leave Jerusalem and go out to his own
land,” He will hear something about the condition of his em_
pire somewhere else and he will start for home. That has been
done more than once. Charlemagne once left his campaign in
Spain and hurried home because of a rumor that he had heard.
Napoleon did this three times ostensibly because of a rumor.
He pretended to have retreated from Moscow because he had
heard a rumor from Paris.
Sennacherib finds that his schemes fail and that Hezekiah
will not surrender. He learns also that Tirhakah, the king of
Ethiopia, is coming up against him, and he sends a letter to
Hezekiah, „Now there is no use in your trusting in Jehovah.
You had better surrender and save your people.” Hezekiah
takes the letter into the house of God and lays it upon the altar
before the Lord. He prays to God, he has faith, he has been
buoyed up by Isaiah, that masterful spirit. It is a critical
period. Isaiah now speaks one of his fearful prophecies against
him: „Woe unto thee that spoilest, and thou was not spoiled;
and dealest treacherously, and they deal not treacherously
with thee: when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled;
and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they
shall deal treacherously with thee.” A critical moment in the
life of Hezekiah is on, one of the turning points in the history is
before us. Isaiah is still prophesying that Israel will be saved
and Assyria shall be destroyed. What is the result? Sen_
nacherib with his large army retreats from Jerusalem, is march_
ing toward Egypt to meet Tirhakah who is advancing against
him with a large army. He advances toward that awful stretch
of country near Pelusium, a place of disease and death, where
whole armies have been destroyed by pestilences or over_
whelmed in the sands of the desert. The account says an angel
of the Lord in one night blew a blast of death over his army,
and in the morning 185,000 lay dead, and the rest hurried with
Sennacherib at their head, back to Assyria. This is one of the
great events of history, and one of the victories of faith. Psalms
46_48 were probably written in commemoration of this event:
„The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Beautiful and precious psalms are they. Israel is saved, the
Assyrian army is destroyed, one of the turning points in the
history of God’s people, and in the history of the world has
been passed, and all because of one man’s faith) one man who
believed in God and was steadfast in his faith.

1. What were Judah’s chief political relations at the fall of the
Northern Kingdom?
2. What subordinate political relations?
3. What religious status in the time of Hezekiah?
4. What New Testament reference to this time? Explain fully.
5. What was their method of ascertaining the future and what pro_
phetic proof?
6. What says the author here about the dial of Ahaz?
7. Where do we find a summary of the condition, religious and
moral, from Uzziah to Hezekiah and what conditions therein described?
8. What was Hezekiah’s policy? Illustrate.
9. What literary accomplishments of Hezekiah?
10. What book on this section commended?
11. What were Hezekiah’s first successes in war?
12. What his disease, how cured and was it a „faith cure'”?
13. What is the meaning of „Set thy house in order”?
14. Is it right to crave to live?
15. Is it right to ask a token of God and what difference between
faith and assurance?
16. What scheme of Berodach_Beladan and what condition that made
the success of the scheme possible?
17. What was Isaiah’s rebuke to Hezekiah and what was his prophecy
concerning Judah?
18. What precautions of Hezekiah against Sennacherib’s second in_
19. What were Hezekiah’s building enterprises?
20. What was Rabshakeh’s message and what the reply?
21. What was Rabshakeh’s further insolence and what despair of
Hezekiah’s ministers?
22. What did Hezekiah do and what result?
23. What was Sennacherib’s next step and Hezekiah’s response?
24. What was God’s answer to Hezekiah and the fulfilment?

2 Kings 21:1 to 23_30; 2 Chronicles 33:1 to 35:27

We take up in this chapter the reigns of Manasseh, Amon,
and Josiah. We saw at the close of the last chapter the com_
plete vindication of Isaiah as a prophet, the miraculous deliv_
erance of Judah and Jerusalem from the hand of the Assyrians
by the destruction of the army, and the apparent triumph of
the principles of right and of good in the kingdom of Judah,
the continued prosperity of the reign of Hezekiah, and the
paramount influence of the prophet Isaiah.
One would naturally expect a period of great religious re_
vival and national prosperity to follow such a good king as
Hezekiah; that he would leave an heir worthy of his name,
also that Judah would now enter upon a long career of pros_
perity and ascendancy among the nations of the world. But
we must not deceive ourselves as to the condition of the people
in Judah and Jerusalem. We read in Isaiah a description of the
people: „In that day did the Lord God of Hosts, call to weep_
ing and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sack_
cloth: and, behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing
sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink for
tomorrow we may die.” There is still an utter absence of faith
in Jehovah: „And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of
hosts. Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye
die, said the Lord God of Israel.” We see by this that the
masses of the people were still practically incorrigible in their
religious deterioration. „Wherefore, the Lord said, Forasmuch
as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their
lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me,
and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men, there_
fore behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this
people.” These passages give a little glimpse into the inner life
of the people. But the magnificent work of Isaiah and the
goodness of Hezekiah have had one splendid result, viz: Judah
and Jerusalem have been saved from the yoke of the Assyrians.
They are now free and for many years they pay no tribute to
that foreign power.
Manasseh was twelve years old when he came to the throne
and his was the longest reign – fifty and five years – of any king
of Judah. Uzziah reigned fifty_two years altogether. We would
expect a good boy to be raised up in such a home as that of
Hezekiah, but instead, he was just the opposite of his father
in almost every respect, which shows that, perhaps, even in the
palace of Jerusalem there was a taint of Baal worship and
there were those who adhered to it and taught it to the young
prince. The description of Manasseh’s reign is terrible. The
idolatrous party attains the ascendancy almost as soon as he
comes to the throne, and Manasseh begins at once to undo all
the work that had been done by Isaiah and Hezekiah. There is
a great revival of idolatry. We are reminded of Revelation 20:
1_10, the first resurrection representing a great revival of right_
eousness throughout the world as if there were life from the
dead, and the second resurrection the loosing of Satan ushering
in a revival of evil. This is on a small scale the same thing.
Notice what Manasseh did: „For he built again the high places
which Hezekiah destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal,
and made an Asherah” – an image representing the female
deity, the worship of which was really licentiousness. He wor_
shiped all the hosts of heaven, something apparently new
among those kings. Probably this kind of worship was im_
ported from Assyria or from Babylon, quite probably from
Babylon. We recall that Ahaz imported something from Da_
marcus, a new style of altar. Now Manasseh imports the new
system of worship of the hosts of heaven from Assyria or Baby_
lon. He built altars in the house of Jehovah, equaling Ahaz in
his desecration of that sacred place. He built altars for all the

hosts of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord, „And
he made his son to pass through the fire, and practiced augury,
and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had familiar
spirits, and with wizards” – went after the fortunetellers, which
is about as sure a sign of the deterioration of character as we
find. It is a great offense against Almighty God to go to these
people to find out his will, when he has given right ways of
finding it out. „And he set the graven image of Asherah, that
he made, in the house of which the Lord said to David and to
Solomon his son. In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have
chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for_
ever.” Thus we see the idol worship re_established in Judah
with its center in the Temple, and the result is: „And Manas_
seh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, so
that they did evil more than did the nations whom the Lord
destroyed before the children of Israel.”
Next we notice the change of rulers in Assyria. Sennacherib
was slain by his two sons in an insurrection that was intended
to place a new monarch on the throne of Assyria. They escaped,
and after five months of insurrection and revolt and dis_
turbance Esarhaddon, another son, took his place upon the
throne. We are told in one of the lists of Esarhaddon that
Manasseh king of Judah paid him tribute. We are not sure
just when Manasseh began to pay tribute, but in one of his
western expeditions Esarhaddon must have come close to Judah
and Jerusalem, and Manasseh in order to keep his throne, be_
gan to pay him regular tribute. How long he did this we are not
told, but we know that Esarhaddon conquered Egypt with all
the western states of Asia and made them pay tribute, and we
know also that when his son succeeded him upon the throne,
that was a signal for a general revolt among those nations, and
it seems almost certain that Manasseh was one of those who
revolted and refused to pay tribute. As a consequence Manas_
seh was taken captive by the king of Assyria and led away in
chains to Babylon. During all this time there were some serv_
ants of God, prophets, warning him: „And the Lord spake by
his servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of
Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly
above all that the Amorites did, which were before him and
hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: therefore thus saith
the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold I bring such evil upon Je_
rusalem and Judah, and whosoever hears of it, both his ears
shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Sama_
ria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe
Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it
upside down. And I will cast off the remnant of mine inheri_
tance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies.” That
was to be the result of Manasseh’s idolatry and wicked reign.
The doom is settled, the fate of Jerusalem is inevitable. The
seeds of idolatry have been sown in the people’s hearts, and so
grown in their hearts and lives that they are incorrigible and
salvation is impossible. It is possible for a nation to go so far
into sin that God must withdraw his mercy from it; it is also
possible for an individual to go so far that even the Spirit of
God cannot stem the tide of evil within him.
As a result of this rebellion Manasseh is taken captive by the
king of Assyria, and as a result of his captivity and imprison_
ment Manasseh comes to himself and repents. When he was in
distress „He sought the Lord his God and humbled himself
greatly before the God of his fathers and he prayed unto him.”
In the Apocrypha we have that prayer. Here is a part of it:
„0 Lord Almighty, that art in heaven, thou God of our fathers,
of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous seed.
. . . Thou, 0 Lord, according to thy great goodness hast prom_
ised repentance and forgiveness to them that have sinned
against thee: and of thine infinite mercies hast appointed re_
pentance unto sinners, that they may be saved. Thou therefore,
0 Lord, thou art the God of the just, hast not appointed re_
pentance to the just, to Abraham, and Jacob, which have not
sinned against thee. But thou hast appointed repentance unto
me that am a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of
the sands of the sea. My transgressions are multiplied, O Lord:
my transgressions are multiplied and I am not worthy to behold
and see the height of heaven for the multitude of iniquities.
. . . I have provoked thy wrath and done that which is evil in
thy sight. I did not thy will neither kept I thy commandments.
. . . I bow the knee of mine heart, beseeching thee of grace;
I have sinned, 0 Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine
iniquities: but, I humbly beseech thee, forgive me, 0 Lord, for_
give me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities.” That prayer
may or may not be genuine, but it certainly is a penitent one.
It is not an inspired prayer. Manasseh was restored to his
kingdom on his pledge of fealty and payment of tribute to
the Assyrian monarch, for under no other conditions would an
Assyrian king release him and restore him to his kingdom.
Now he seeks to undo in the rest of his life all the evil that
he had done. He builds the outer wall of the city of David,
which had doubtless been thrown down or injured by the As_
syrians. He compassed about Ophel, which is the southeastern
division of the city of Jerusalem, put captains in all the fenced
cities of Judah, „And he took away the strange gods, and the
idol out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had
built in the mount of the house of the Lord, and in Jerusalem,
and cast them out of the city. And he built up the altar of the
Lord, and offered thereon sacrifices of peace offerings and of
thanksgiving, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord, the
God of Israel.” But it was too late. Manasseh died, having to
some extent redeemed the evil of his early reign, but was not
buried in the sepulchers of the kings. During that terrible re_
vival of idolatry and of evil, there was a severe persecution
against all the righteous people, especially the prophets, so
severe that the blood of the prophets and righteous people was
spilled like water in Jerusalem. During that period, tradition
says, Isaiah was sawn asunder. It is a tradition which goes far
back, and is probably true. Thus during that terrible persecu_
tion in the reign of Manasseh, Isaiah met his death.
Now we take up the reign of Amon, son of Manasseh. He
reigned but two years and walked in the footsteps of his father
Manasseh, kept up the idolatrous worship, promulgated hea_
thenism, learned no lessons from his father’s sins, repentance,
remorse, and reformation, and at the end of two years by means
of a palace insurrection – not an insurrection among the people,
but a palace insurrection – he was put to death. Why this in_
surrection came, and why they sought to put Amon to death
we do not know. Certainly it could not have been the work of
the prophetic class, who were true to Jehovah. That class of
men do not murder, and yet what class of people were there
who desired the death of Amon since he favored idolatry? We
have so little light that we cannot settle the question. The peo_
ple at once rose up and the murderers of the king were put to
death, and Josiah, only eight years old) the son of Amon was
put on the throne.
So now we come to the reign of Josiah, the best of all the
kings, a man against whom nothing can be said; we have a
description of his character: „And he did that which was right
in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of David
his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned
to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with
all his might, according to the law of Moses; neither after him
arose there any like him.” But in spite of the fact that there
was such a king upon the throne, as nearly perfect in character
as any king ever was, the sin of Judah still remained, too deep_
dyed and too great to be forgiven by the Lord, though God
defers the evil day till Josiah has passed from the earth. Josiah
began in the eighth year of his reign to make reformations in
his kingdom, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah
and Jerusalem from all its high places, and the image of Ashe_
rah, and the graven images and the molten images, and brake
down the altars of Baalim in his presence, and even took the
bones of the priests that were buried there, and burned them
upon the altars, desecrating them so that they would not use
them any more. He carried on a drastic reformation as early

as he was able to do so, beginning at sixteen years of age, and
when twenty, redoubling his vigor. The next work was to re_
pair the Temple. When twenty_six years of age he gave orders
for it to be repaired, and the man that carried on the reforma_
tion and renovation of the Temple was Hilkiah of whom we
shall speak later. Behind Josiah, working with and among the
people, is another great prophet, Jeremiah. No doubt he was
one of the powers behind the throne, one of the great forces
which inspired Josiah to carry on his work, for in this period
Jeremiah was in the first part of his career. So Josiah, helped
by Hilkiah and Jeremiah, repaired the Temple, built it, re_
dedicated it, sacrificed and kept the Passover, etc.
While that was going on one of the principal events of his
reign occurred. The Temple had been desecrated for nearly
forty years. It had been broken down, and now while they were
repairing it, clearing away the rubbish from the altars, perhaps
into the holy of holies, and to the ark of the covenant, Hilkiah
the high priest found a book. It was the book of the Law given
by the hand of Moses. Hilkiah at once spoke to Shaphan the
scribe and handed the book to him, and Shaphan took it before
the king. It is certain that the book discovered there contained
the book of Deuteronomy. The book of Deuteronomy (chap_
ters 27_28) contains the curses that would come upon the na_
tion (Israel) if it forsook the law of God. I have no doubt
that this section was read before king Josiah, and no monarch
could but tremble and shudder if he heard those words of
Moses. Josiah rent his clothes, and he sent for the prophetess,
Huldah. Josiah remembered that the kingdom had committed
all the sins Moses here mentioned. He knew that the evils
threatened must inevitably come, and that meant his kingdom
and his throne would go down in utter and overwhelming
They went to the prophetess, Huldah, and she said, „These
things are true; they shall come to pass,” but adds this: „Thus
saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you

unto me, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon
this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the
curses that are written in the book which they have read before
the king of Judah; because they have forsaken me, and have
burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to
anger with all the works of their hands; therefore is my wrath
poured out upon this place, and it shall not be quenched. But
unto the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord,
thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel:
as touching the words which thou hast heard, because thine
heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God,
when thou heardest his word against this place and against the
inhabitants thereof, and hast humbled thyself before me, and
hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me, I also have heard
thee, saith the Lord. Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers,
and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall
thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place.”
Thus Josiah trembling beneath the terrible curse that must
inevitably come, had this assurance, which leaves some hope
and courage in his heart, that it would not come in his day,
but that he should see peace. Then what does Josiah do? The
next thing is to gather together all the elders of all Judah and
Jerusalem and have the book read before them. There were
probably many idolatrous men among them, but when sum_
moned thus by the king they came and on hearing the book of
the law read with curses there pronounced, they concurred
with Josiah and the nation thus represented, renewed its cove_
nant with God. The old covenant that had been broken was
now renewed and they vowed that they would keep his com_
mandments and testimonies and statutes with all their heart
and soul. This was an epoch in the life of Josiah and of the
nation and in the life of Jeremiah also, for we find in Jeremiah
11 that it had a great effect upon his preaching. He had been
prophesying several years before this, and in chapter II we see
that his preaching took a new turn: „Thus saith the Lord,

hear ye the words of his covenant, and speak unto the men of
Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
This furnished Jeremiah with a text, and he goes forth
preaching with marvelous power on the basis of this great_
covenant renewed because of the finding of the Law. As soon
as the Law was found Josiah carried on his reformation even
more drastically than before. The work had never been com_
pleted. Now Josiah carries it to completion. Notice what he
does: brings forth out of the Temple of the Lord all the vessels
that were made for the worship of Baal and for the Asherah
and all the hosts of heaven; put down all the idolatrous priests;
brought out the image of Asherah from the Temple; broke
down the houses of the Sodomites where they carried on their
abominations under the name of religion; degraded the priests
that bad been officiating at the high places; defiled Topheth,
the place where they had been causing their sons to pass
through the fire to the god, Molech; took away the horses
that the king of Judah had made and had given to the sun,
images of horses representing a part of the idolatrous worship
of some of their deities; removed all the altars and destroyed
the high places and desecrated them by burning the bones of
the priests thereon. It was as drastic and as complete as could
be made.
But it is only outward. Josiah didn’t turn the people’s hearts,
and Jeremiah who had been prophesying all this time at last
comes to the conclusion – the first man in the history of revela_
tion – that „The heart is deceitful above all things and des_
perately wicked, who can know it?” And the only way that
Israel could be saved was to be saved through a new covenant
which would write the laws of God upon their hearts and put
them in their minds.
In connection with his great reformation Josiah went to the
Northern Kingdom and defiled the altar of Bethel in fulfilment
of the prophecy of the old man of God who had come up from
Judah and warned Jeroboam against his departure from the
worship of Jehovah in going after the calves of Dan and Beth_
el. But he spared the old prophet’s monument. Now he kept
the Passover as it had not been kept for many years; he gath_
ered together all the people of Israel far and near, even from
the north. Notice in verse 7 that he „gave to the children of
the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all of them for the
passover.” To the poor people who could not afford it, Josiah
gave offerings for the passover, „and the princes gave freewill
offerings.” The Passover was kept, as it had not been kept since
the days of Samuel.
Now we would expect this to result in a revival, a long period of blessing and of the true worship of God, but it was only outward; it was not deep in heart; it was not lasting; Josiah
did his noblest, and his name is one of the most blessed in all
the annals of kings. He tried to prevent the awful doom of
Judah, but „the times were out of joint,” and the sin of Judah
was so deep and terrible that nothing could check it. The
tears of Jeremiah, the most pathetic of all the figures in pro_
phetic history, after forty years of effort, failed to do it.
We now come to the death of Josiah. It is quite probable
that Josiah had to pay tribute to the kingdom of Assyria during
all his reign. Manasseh did, and it is quite probable that Jo_
siah felt himself under obligation to the king of Assyria, and
this fact may account for the strange action which led to his
death. During this time Egypt had risen to power; a very able
king was on the throne, Pharaoh_necoh, and the old time rival_
ry between Egypt and Assyria had revived. Egypt wanted all
the world and Assyria wanted all the land next to hers, and
those two great nations, one in the Nile Valley and the other
in the Mesopotamian Valley, were always trying to conquer
each other. Now Pharaoh_necho was coming up the coast of
Palestine to meet the Assyrians. It seems that Josiah felt him_
self duty bound to help Assyria and check Pharaoh’s progress,
for he marched out against him to fight – a little kingdom, Ju_
dah, little more than the city of Jerusalem itself – against the
king of Egypt. The king of Egypt warned him: „Now, don’t
you meddle with me. I come not against thee this day, but
against the house wherewith I have war; and God hath com_
manded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with
God, who is with me: that he destroy thee not.” For some rea_
son Josiah determined to fight him and check him on his way.
They met in the valley of Esdraelon, then called the valley of
Megiddo; the battle was joined; Josiah, though he disguised
himself, was wounded by the archers and turned about to flee
to Jerusalem and died. He was cut off after a reign of not
more than thirty years, in the middle of one of the most glori_
ous and useful reigns that Judah ever witnessed. There was
great grief. All Jerusalem and Judah mourned for Josiah. Jere_
miah lamented sorely, and we can understand why. Jeremiah
wept because he could see plainly the hope of the kingdom was
gone, and the doom now was swift and sure. „All the singing
men and singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations
until this day,” meaning, of course, when this was written. „And
they made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are
written in the lamentations.” The book of Lamentations writ_
ten by Jeremiah, is not referred to here; it must have been a
collection of songs of that nature written and preserved. We
do not possess them now, as they have been lost. It seemed
that the light of Judah had gone out, and the only thing to be
done was to wait patiently until the end came, and it came be_
fore very long.

1. Give a general statement of the condition of Judah at the end
of Hezekiah’s reign.
2. What was the result of the work of Isaiah and Hezekiah?
3. Who succeeded Hezekiah, what was his mother’s name and what
its meaning?
4. What was his character and work?
5. What change in the throne of Assyria during his reign?
6. What was Jehovah’s message to Judah through the prophets?
7. Give an account of Manasseh’s further crimes, imprisonment, and
8. What was the spiritual condition of the people at this time?
9. What of his repentance and where do we find his prayer recorded?
10. Who succeeded Manasseh and what was his character and death?
11. Who succeeded Amon, and what his character, how old was he
when he began to reign and when was he converted?
12. What of his early reformation?
13. What book found m repairing the Temple and what effect of the
discovery on Josiah?
14. What great prophet begins his work in this period and what
other contemporaneous with him?
15. What prophetess appears here and what were her prophecies?
16. Give an account of the making of the covenant.
17. What was Josiah’s further reformation?
18. Why did he send the ashes of the images of Baal to Bethel?
19. What did he do with the powder of Asherah?
20. What was the meaning of „horses given to the sun”?
21. What prophecy fulfilled in Josiah’s acts at Bethel?
22. Who was the prophet „that came out of Samaria”?
23. Give an account of Josiah’s passover.
24. What circumstances of Josiah’s death?

2 Kings 23:30 to 25:30; 2 Chronicles 36:1_28

We take up now the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem. The
causes which led to this downfall are almost identical with the
causes which led to the fall of Samaria and the Northern King_
dom: the idolatry and wickedness of the people, their departure
from the worship of Jehovah, their apparent determination to
pay no attention to the words of the prophets, the conspiracy
of the last king, Hoshea, with Egypt and his revolt against the
king of Assyria. These were the causes remote and near which
led to the fall of Samaria. The same causes operated in bring_
ing about the fall of Judah and Jerusalem: the wickedness, the
perverseness, the determination and incorrigibility of the peo_
ple – their refusal to give heed to the voice of the prophets,
especially Jeremiah, the conspiracy of the last king with
Egypt to form an alliance, and his attempt to throw off the
yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. These are the re_
mote and near causes which brought about the destruction of
the Southern Kingdom.
Let us look at the situation at the death of Josiah. That
sad event occurred in the year 608 B.C. It was a death blow to
the hopes of the prophets and the prophetic party and all the
righteous ones of Judah. It was a death blow to the hopes of
the nation, and the sadness and mourning that resulted from
the death of Josiah is suggested to us by Zechariah 12:11. Ju_
dah never forgot the death of this good king. Zechariah, proph_
esying of the times of the restoration and messianic age, when
all Israel would repent and mourn for their sins, says, „In that
day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem as the mourn_
ing of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.” The mourn_
ing of all Israel in the future when it shall repent of its sins
and be restored is compared to the mourning of Judah at the
death of Josiah.
Now let us glance at the political horizon as well. The great
empire of Assyria had reached the climax of its conquests, and
its oppressions, and was not hastening to its end. The Babylo_
nian Empire had risen; they had formed a league with the
Median Empire, and the two combined, with the help of many
other small nations, had at last concentrated their energies up_
on old Nineveh, and it was soon to be destroyed.
Zephaniah 2:13_14 gives a distinct prophecy of the destruc_
tion of Nineveh, the capital of the great Assyrian Empire. Zeph-aniah lived probably in the time of Josiah, possibly earlier. Let us read what he says in his prophecy: „And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria, and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. And herds shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the pelican and the porcupine shall lodge in the capitals thereof; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he hath laid bare the cedar work.”
The entire prophecy of Nahum is on this one subject – the
downfall of Nineveh. Nahum is a poet, who gives a vivid de_
scription of the siege and fall of Nineveh. The world rejoiced
when old Nineveh was destroyed. That occurred about 607 or
606 B.C.
Now looking more closely at Judah and Jerusalem, our first
point is the Egyptian supremacy in Judah. I have called at_
tention to the successes of Pharaoh_necho, king of Egypt, and
noted that it was to hinder his advance north that Josiah came
out against him and was slain. Pharaoh_necho pursued his vic_
torious career north as far as the land of Hamath and con_
quered that country, and extended his kingdom as far north as
the Euphrates River, thus subjecting all Syria to his sway and

establishing his headquarters at Riblah in the valley of Ha_
Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, was put on the throne by the
people, doubtless because of his popularity. He had a reign of
only three months. During these three months he was under
tribute to Pharaoh_necoh who had conquered all this country,
and he made him prisoner and carried him away to Egypt. His
older brother, Jehoiakim, was put upon the throne by Pharaoh.
Jehoahaz had a brief reign and a very wicked one. His end is
unspeakably sad. Jeremiah 22:10_12 gives an account of him.
Jeremiah at this time was a prophet of Judah and Jerusalem,
and he was very active. Here is what he says about the end of
Jehoahaz: „Weep not for the dead [that means Josiah], neither
bemoan him; but weep sore for him that goeth away [Jehoa_
haz] ; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
For thus saith Jehovah touching Shallum [another name for
Jehoahaz] the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned in_
stead of Josiah his father, and who went forth out of this place:
He shall not return thither any more; but in the place whither
they have led him captive there he shall die, and he shall see
this land no more.”
In Ezekiel 19:3_8 we have a striking statement also. Ezekiel
was in Babylon prophesying to the exiles. He says, „And she
brought up one of her whelps [Judah and Jerusalem represent_
ed as a lioness]: he became a young lion, and he learned to
catch the prey; he devoured men, . . .” It is Ezekiel’s descrip_
tion of the capture of Jehoahaz, a young lion that Pharaoh
caught and took away to Egypt.
Jehoiakim, two or three years his senior, was placed upon
the throne by Pharaoh_necho, paid him tribute doubtless, and
reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He was just the opposite
of his father, King Josiah, in almost every particular. It seems
remarkable that such good kings as Hezekiah and Josiah
should have such bad sons, utterly reprobate sons, &a Manas_
seh and Jehoiakim, but we see that even today.
Nebuchadnezzar, the great Babylonian, rose up in the year
608 B.C. Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon, and the Medes
destroyed Nineveh and left her such an utter ruin that the very
place of her existence was soon forgotten. It was completely
overwhelmed and devastated by the Babylonians and the
Medes, who for centuries had been looking for a chance to get a
blow at the ferocious Assyrians.
Nabopolassar was in the East undertaking that great work,
and his son Nebuchadnezzar was sent to the West to check the
advance of the Egyptian king. We have already stated that
Pharaoh_necho had extended his empire to the Euphrates Riv_
ver, and now he was ready to go farther. Nebuchadnezzar was
sent with a large army to check him. They met near Carche_
mish, 605 B.C., and here one of the great decisive battles of the
world was fought. We find an account of this in Jeremiah 46,
beginning with the second verse. It was the greatest event of
that time: „Against Egypt, came the army of Pharaoh_necho
king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carche_
mish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the
fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.”
Our next point is the supremacy of Babylon. The result, of
course, was that the army of Nebuchadnezzar swept down in
hot pursuit of the fleeing Egyptians and all the country was
transferred into the hands of the Babylonians again. At once
Jehoiakim began to pay tribute. Every nation in this region
was compelled to pay heavy tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, the
invincible head of the Babylonian army. Thus the allegiance of
Judah and Jerusalem was transferred, at it where, in a moment
from Egypt to Babylon. Now at that time there occurred a raid
of the Babylonians upon Judah and Jerusalem and evidently
many of the nobles and princes of the people were taken away.
Daniel 1:1 shows that in this raid upon Judah and Jerusalem
Daniel with others was among those that were taken to Baby_
lon: „In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Ju_
dah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem,
and besieged it.” Then it goes on with the story of Daniel and
his three friends. This is one of the first deportations leading
up to the final downfall. Jeremiah 52:28 is a reference prob_
ably to the same deportation by Nebuchadnezzar: „This is the
people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the
seventh year three thousand Jews and three and twenty.” That
may refer to the first one or it may possibly refer to a later one,
we cannot be positive as to the chronology.
The next thing we note about Jehoiakim is that he rebels
against the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. Perhaps he felt
that he could make an alliance with Egypt, that old shame
which Isaiah denounced, and which was one of the main things
that caused the downfall of Samaria. Jehoiakim was evidently
conspiring with Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar was in the far east
engaged in his conquests; Jehoiakim, led on by his nobles and
princes, thought he could free himself again from the galling
yoke of Babylon and in spite of all Jeremiah’s entreaties he
was determined to do so. In Jeremiah 36 there is a little story
of the prophecies which Jeremiah wrote and which were read
in the presence of Jehoiakim as he was sitting in his winter
palace before an open fire. When the roll was read to him, he
took his penknife and cut it in pieces and threw it into the fire.
Nearly all of those present with him seemed to approve of his
action; only two or three are said to have begged him not to
do it. This is the character of Jehoiakim and his attitude
toward Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 22:13_19 we have Jeremiah’s
own description of Jehoiakim; also a reference to Jehoiakim in
All this indicates Jehoiakim’s character, bold and incorrigi_
bly defiant of God’s word and of every principle of right and
truth. The result we find in 2 Kings 24:2_4: „And the Lord
sent against him bands of the Chaldeans, and bands of the
Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children
of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, accord_
ing to the word of the Lord, which he spake by the hand of his
servants the prophets.” They did not destroy it utterly, but
they carried away a good many captives and much spoil. Je_
hoiakim died in the year 598 B.C., and the manner of his death
is a mystery. There is some difficulty in reconciling the Bible
accounts. In 2 Chronicles 36:6 we find: „Against him came up
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters,
to carry him to Babylon.” Jeremiah said that he should be
cast out, drawn forth out of the city and buried as a beast. In
Jeremiah 36:30 we also have a statement similar: „Therefore
thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have
none to sit upon the throne of David; and his dead body shall
be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.”
The explanation possibly is that Nebuchadnezzar found him to
be such a traitor and such a wretch and villain that he would
not take him to Babylon, but had him slain and his body cast
forth as refuse out of the city of Jerusalem.
In the next place we have the brief reign of Jehoiachin. Judah and Jerusalem are still under the yoke of Babylon, but the people rise up and put Jehoiachin on the throne, a boy only
eighteen years old, and he reigns but three months. Evidently
Nebuchadnezzar found something false or treacherous about
him; so he comes to the city and besieges it. Jehoiachin sur_
renders the city, with all his family, and is taken captive by
Nebuchadnezzar and carried in chains to Babylon; there lodged
in the palace prison spending the rest of his life in captivity.
At last the king of Babylon brings him out from his dungeon,
lifts up his head, speaks kindly to him, and gives him a place
among the other kings, tributary to Babylon.
Now comes the reign of Zedekiah, last of the kings of Judah. He is made king by Nebuchadnezzar and at the same time there is a great deportation of treasures and of nobles and of artisans from Jerusalem. This is the second deportation, and
the most important one of this period. Treasures – all the
treasures of the house of the Lord and the king’s house at Jeru_
salem – all the princes and mighty men, craftsmen and smiths,
all the artisans, the best and most skillful minds of Jerusalem,
were taken and there was left only the poor and laboring class_
es. Nebuchadnezzar took away all these because he had a
great deal of building to do in his own land, completing the
walls of Babylon, and other general work, irrigating the lands
of the country, etc. But there is another object in it also, viz:
With all the best blood gone, Jerusalem could not offer much
Afterward Zedekiah rebels, doubtless because he had some
hope of a league with Egypt and that he might throw off the
yoke of Babylon. Jeremiah 27:12, 17 gives Jeremiah’s advice
to Zedekiah and all the other small nations telling them in sub_
stance: „You keep on yourselves the yoke of Babylon, for that
is the only thing that will save your kingdom from destruc_
tion.” But Zedekiah did not heed Jeremiah any more than Je_
hoiakim did.
The result is just what we might expect. Nebuchadnezzar
sets his army in motion, and in a few years the armies of Nebu_
chadnezzar are again surrounding the city and this time he
means business. Jeremiah pleads with Zedekiah to surrender
and take upon himself the yoke of Babylon but the influence
of the princes that surround the weak Zedekiah counteracts
all the influence of Jeremiah and he goes out on his final rebel_
lion. We find that discussed in Jeremiah 36_37.
But now a ray of hope dawns upon the people of Jerusalem;
the siege has been on some time. They hear that the king of
Egypt, at last, is coming up to help them. The siege is raised,
Nebuchadnezzar moves his army away from Jerusalem in order
to meet the Egyptians, but he very soon defeats the Egyptian
army and again the walls of Jerusalem are encompassed with
his hosts, and Jeremiah (37:5_11) gives what the prophet says
about it at the time. The siege was raised, but he warns them
against false hopes: „For though ye had smitten the whole
army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there re_
mained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up
every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.” „The doom
is inevitable, if you carry out your principle of rebellion.”
Zedekiah refuses the advice absolutely and for eighteen months
Jerusalem endures the horrors of a siege. The fourth chapter
of the book of Lamentations describes this. It speaks about
the pitiful mother boiling her own children, and those who
have been brought up in scarlet as embracing the dunghills to
find something to eat, the nobleman’s skin is blackened, going
about like a walking skeleton, the babes crying after the
mothers’ breasts, and the people perishing.
After eighteen months they try to escape by breaking
through, and Zedekiah and his army flee down into the valley
of the Jordan and are overtaken by the Chaldeans; he is cap_
tured and his army scattered. He is brought before Nebu_
chadnezzar and Zedekiah’s last vision is his sons slaughtered
before his eyes, and then (according to the Assyrians) he is laid
upon his back, a short spear driven through each eye, and
Zedekiah’s day becomes night, and he sees no more in this
world. He is taken to Babylon and there held a prisoner.
Nebuchadnezzar makes a thorough work of the destruction
of Jerusalem. He sends his captain, Nebuzaradan, and de_
stroys the entire city, burning up everything that would burn,
throwing down everything that can be thrown down, and the
best of the people: the priests, the scribes, old and young, young
men and maidens, are slain. All these nobles who had been.
Zedekiah’s advisers in his intrigues with Egypt are slain. They
deserved it. Had it not been for them, Jeremiah might have
influenced Zedekiah to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, and thus
saved the city and the people. All the treasurers were taken –
everything that was worth anything – and what could not be
taken was broken to pieces. The description given in 2 Kings
In connection with that event a large number of the best
people of Jerusalem are again deported to Babylon and only
the poor are left in the land that they may keep and dress the
vineyards. This is the third deportation to Babylon; so the
exile from Judah and Jerusalem was a process extending over
about twenty years, altogether.
In the meantime, what happens to Jeremiah? Jeremiah
40:1_6, we have an account of the captain of the Babylonians,
who took Jeremiah in chains, but he remembered the good
services rendered Babylon by Jeremiah in trying to persuade
Zedekiah to surrender to Babylon. So he gave Jeremiah the
choice of going with him as a prisoner to Babylon where he
would be well treated, or remaining at Jerusalem with the
remnant of poor people left there. He remained with God’s
people in his own land.
Next we have the governorship of Gedaliah. Jeremiah had
prophesied that the captivity would last only seventy years,
and he wrote the captives at Babylon a letter telling them
what to do during that period, advising them to remain there
and settle down and make the very best of it because seventy
years was the appointed time for remaining in captivity.
Gedaliah was made governor of the almost completely de_
populated land. In a few months he was murdered by one of
the Jewish princes that had survived, and others were mur_
dered with him who were loyal to Babylon, and Ishmael and
his friends gathered together to take advice. Jeremiah advises
them to remain in the land and if they were faithful and true
even yet, they would be blessed, but they paid no attention to
Jeremiah, fled to Egypt taking Jeremiah with them.
That forty or more years of preaching by Jeremiah was with_
out apparent success, but he stayed with it to the end. Down
in Egypt they still worshiped idols and burnt incense to the
queen of heaven in spite of all that Jeremiah could do, as is
found in Jeremiah 43_44 and at last, according to tradition, the
people became so incensed against him that they rose up and
stoned him to death. Tradition says that such was the end of
Jeremiah and it is quite probable. A picture of Jerusalem is
found in Lamentations 1_3. What a picture of the desolation
of Judah and Jerusalem! There is nothing superior to it in
all literature.
How many deportations of Israel to the Far East were there
altogether? The first great deportation was that of Tiglath_
pileser when he removed all the inhabitants east of the Jordan.
The next one was that of Tiglath_pileser when he carried
away the inhabitants of the northern part of the Northern
Kingdom, and the next was the deportation of Sargon after he
had captured Samaria; the next one was that of Sennacherib
when he came down in the reign of Hezekiah and swept all
Judah and carried away two hundred thousand or more in_
habitants. Then one was in the time when Daniel was taken
away. The next one was in the time of Jehoiachin, and the last
one recorded in Kings and Chronicles was at the end of the
reign of Zedekiah. So we may reckon that there were several
deportations of the Jewish people to the Far East; to Assyria,
Babylon, Persia, etc. Thus more than a quarter of a million
of Jews were deported to various places in central Asia, and
some of their descendants, perhaps, are there yet.
The Exile, as we have said, was a process rather than an
event. The people were brought into Babylon and there put
to use in serving. They helped Nebuchadnezzar build his
cities, his great treasuries, they helped to dig canals, as men_
tioned in Psalm 137: „By the rivers [or canals] of Babylon,
we sat down and wept.” They helped to irrigate that vast
plain between the two rivers.
This captivity did several things for Israel:
1. It permanently cured the nation of its idolatries. I mean
that part of the nation that returned after the captivity and
built up the Jewish nation at the period of the restoration.
The vast multitude that remained in the East adhered to their
2. It spiritualized religion. No Temple, no altar, no priest_
hood, no sacrifices, no holy of holies, no atonement! They
were thrown upon their own individual responsibility and in_
dividual relation to God, and in this period we have the rise
of what we call individualism in religion. We find that dis_
cussed at length by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. This is a period
when mankind found that it could do without the externals
of religion and made it an affair of the heart only, something
new in the history of the world.
3. It made the problem of suffering an acute and realone;
they were suffering because of their father’s sins, and com_
plained about it: „In those days they shall say no more, The
fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set
on edge. But every one shall die for his own sin, every man
that eateth sour grapes, his own teeth shall be set on edge.”
„The soul that sinneth it shall surely½die.”
4. It enlarged their conception of God. We find the noblest
and highest and loftiest conception of God in Isaiah 40_66.
These were written to meet the needs of the people in this
trying period. God is pictured as the God of the world, the
God of history, and the God of nations; God is pictured as
raising up Cyrus as his own servant in order that he might
conquer and subdue Babylon and let Israel go free.
5. It gave a truer conception of the mission of Israel to the
world. Here we have the rise of the idea of the Suffering
Servant of God, as the Servant suffering for the sins of Israel.
Here we have the conception of Israel as being the means of
bringing all the world to a knowledge of God.
The seventy years close. In the closing verses of 2 Chroni_
cles it refers to Cyrus releasing the captives at Babylon, en_
abling them to return to rebuild their Temple and to restore
their nation.

1. What was the religious conditions of Judah at the death of
2. What was the political situation?
3. Who succeeded Josiah and how was he made king?
4. What was his character?
5. How was he deposed, what became of him, who succeeded him,
how was he made king and what was his character?
6. What was Pharaoh_necoh’s relation to Judah and who severed this
7. Give an account of Jehoiakim’s rebellion and death.
8. Who succeeded Jehoiakim, what was his character and end?
9. Who was the last king of Judah and how was he made king?
10. Describe the first great deportation, stating who, what, and where
11. What was Zedekiah’s character, what were his efforts to free him_
self and what results?
12. What reason here assigned for the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem?
13. Describe the siege of Jerusalem and Zedekiah’8 captivity.
14. Describe the final overthrow of Jerusalem.
15. What disposition did they make of the nobles?
16. Give a list of the treasures taken by the Chaldeans.
17. What disposition did they make of the residue of the people?
18. Is this the last deportation? If not, what?
19. What was the length of the captivity and what determined it?
20. Did they carry all the people into captivity? If not, what pro_
vision was made for them?
21. What became of Gedaliah and what was the result?
22. What became of Jehoiachin?
23. How did these people get back to their land and when?
24. What prophet foretold this event and where do we find his
25. What was the significance of the Exile, and what the several things
it did for Israel?


(1) Hurlbut’s „Bible Atlas.”
(2) The „Pulpit Commentary.”
(3) Articles in the Popular and Critical Encyclopedia.
(4) „Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible” on „Ezra and Ne_
The subject of this discussion is „The Restoration of Israel
until the rebuilding of the Temple.” The history of this period
in the life of Israel is contained in the books known as Ezra,
Nehemiah, and Esther.
By comparing the last verses of 2 Chronicles with the first of the book of Ezra we observe that these books are simply a
continuation of the history of the book of Chronicles. Since
many of the same words are repeated in both it indicates that
the latter is simply a continuation of the former history. For_
merly Ezra and Nehemiah constituted one book. They were
so regarded in all the earlier editions of the Hebrew Bible.
The Massarites always appended them to Chronicles. The
Talmud speaks of them as one book, called „The Book of
Ezra.” Jerome speaks of them as one book, called „The Book
of Esdras.”
Ezra was written by Ezra, the author of I and 2 Chronicles,
in the fifth century B.C., about the middle of the century.
Nehemiah was written by Nehemiah a few years later, per_
haps 431_430 B.C. The Apocryphal books of I and 2 Esdras
cover the same period of Israelitish history. I Esdras espe_
cially is a repetition of much of the material found in Ezra and
Nehemiah. These two books, Ezra and Nehemiah, consist of
historical accounts, written by the authors named and contain
personal memoirs by both Ezra and Nehemiah as is shown
by the use of the first personal pronoun and genealogical tables.
They are simple, plain history and a striking thing about
them is that there is no record of a miracle in them, though
there seems to have been some occasion for miracles, since the
Jews were so oppressed and depressed. A portion of the book
of Ezra is still in Aramaic. The sections referred to are 4:6 to
8:18 and 7:12_26. This is accounted for in a most natural way,
viz: The Hebrew had assumed the form of the Chaldee dur_
ing the captivity.
Ezra was a thoroughly earnest, God_fearing, man_loving
priest and scribe without a flaw, and with authority under the
king. Nehemiah was a zealous, enterprising, pious cupbearer
to Artaxerxes and governor of Judah. In the history of Ezra
and Nehemiah we have an account of the Persian period of
Jewish life. We have preceding this period the early Baby_
Ionian, the Assyrian, and the later Babylonian periods. Israel
was in subjection to two of those great nations. Under each
of them there was a great modification of national life. These
nations were Semitic. Persia was of the Aryan race. Cyrus,
the great Persian king, was of Aryan blood; he was generous,
free, liberty loving and progressive. The Semitic world had no
such king to this time.
The time covered by the book of Ezra was seventy_nine
years, by Nehemiah, twelve years, and the time between them
was twelve years. The whole time covered by the two books
and the interval between was 103 years. During this time
six Persian kings appeared, viz:
1. Cyrus, 537_529 B.C., or 8 yrs.
2. Cambyses (Ahasuerus) 529_522 B.C., or 7 yrs.
3. Smeirdis, 8 or 10 months
4. Darius Hystaspes, 522_487 B.C., or 35 yrs.
5. Xerxes (Ahasuerus) 486_466 B.C., or 20 yrs.
6. Artaxerxes Longimanus, 465_424 B.C., or 41 yrs.
This gives a total of III years of Persian rule.

The purpose of these books is to give a history of re_estab_
lishment of God’s people in the land. The general contents of
the book of Ezra are as follows:
1. Ezra 1:1 to 4:5: This portion tells of the decree of Cyrus,
the first return, gives the lists of the heads of the families, the
getting up of the altar for worship, the arrangements for sacri_
fice, the efforts to rebuild the Temple and the opposition on the
part of the Samaritans.
2. Ezra 5_6: The people roused by the prophets Haggai
and Zechariah begin the rebuilding of the Temple under lead_
ership of Joshua, the Priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor;
enemies try to stop them but Darius the King respects the
decree of Cyrus, and the Temple is completed and dedicated
about 516 B.C.
3. Ezra 7_10: These treat of a return of Ezra with a larger
company, the decree of Artaxerxes, empowering him to per_
form his mission, and the divorcing of the foreign wives.. This
occurred about 457 B.C., nearly sixty years after the first
4. Nehemiah 1:1 to 7:72: Nehemiah received permission
from Artaxerxes to be governor of Judea and to rebuild the
walls of Jerusalem. He inspects the city by night, organizes
for the work and in spite of every opposition fortifies the city
and completes the walls by 444 B.C.
5. Nehemiah 7:73 to 10:39: Ezra and Nehemiah promul_
gate the law. The people make a covenant and all the leaders
are sealed. A great confession is made by the people, and
Judaism is now finally established, and the people to a man
pledge themselves to observe the law of Moses in all its details.
6. Nehemiah 11:1 to 12:26: This contains a list very simi_
lar to that found in Ezra 2, and in the Apocryphal book, First
7. Nehemiah 12:27 to 13:3: Dedication of the walls of Jeru_
salem and the completion of the Temple service, probably oc_
curring 444 B.C.
8. Nehemiah 13:4_31: Nehemiah’s second visit to Jerusalem
about 432 B.C. and his reformatory measures.
The first return of the people from Babylon was to rebuild
the Temple, a religious purpose solely. The second return,
under Ezra, was to re_establish the law of Moses in all its de_
tails and rigor. The third expedition, under Nehemiah, was to
rebuild the walls of the city. Thus the mission at first was
purely religious, but the mission of Nehemiah was both reli_
gious and civil.
In all this revival of Judaism Ezra is the chief figure. It
may be called the Pentecost of Judaism. The law of Moses
seemed to be a new law, as at the great revival in the time of
the Reformation, the Bible seemed to be a new book. The
revival under Ezra established Judaism. It was brought
about by the people seeking to do God’s will, by the keeping
of the Law, and thus living in fellowship with God. There was
a certain grandeur in it. They sought to live so that every
act of life was regulated by and according to the will of God.
The following are fine, brief outlines of Ezra and Nehemiah
(not my own):

I. Zerubbabel, I_VI
1. Return, 1_2
2. Reorganization, 3_6
II. Ezra, VII_X
1. Return, 7_8
2. Reformation, 9_10

I. Rebuilding the Walls, I_VII
1. Initiation, 1_2
2. Operation, 3_5
3. Consummation. 6_7
II. Reading the Law, VIII_X
1. Information, 8
2. Invocation, 9
3. Consecration, 10
III. Resettlement of the Cities, XI_XIII
1. Population, 11:1_12:26
2. Dedication, 12:27_13:3
3. Reformation, 13:4_31

1. What is the name of this period of Jewish history?
2. What books contain the history of this period?
3. What was their relation to the book of Chronicles and what the
4. What relation of Ezra and Nehemiah and how regarded by the
earlier Hebrews as indicated in their Bible?
5. What testimony of the Talmud and Jerome?
6. Who was the author of each, respectively, and when was each
7. What was the general character of these and what one striking
thing about their history?
8. What Apocryphal books cover the same period of Israelitish history?
9. In what languages were these books written and how may we
account for the fact?
10. What was the position and character of the author of each of
these books, respectively?
11. During the Old Testament History from Abraham to Ezra what
four great Oriental empires arose and how does the one in power during this period compare with the preceding ones?
12. What time covered by each book and what Persian king reigned
during this time?
13. What purpose of these books?
14. What general contents of these books and what brief outline of

Ezra 1_6

This section embraces the return unto the dedication of the
Temple, 536_516 B.C. (Ezra 1_6). First, we have the decree of
Cyrus, 1:1_4, issued 536 B.C. In this remarkable decree Cyrus
gives his authority for issuing it, as Jehovah, the God of Israel.
This does not imply that Cyrus was a monotheist or a be_
liever in the God of Israel, but it does imply that he recognized
the existence of the God of the Hebrews and acknowledged
him as the promoter of their welfare.
There are five remarkable things about this decree, viz:
(1) It was promulgated by a heathen king. (2) It recognized
Jehovah as the dispenser of the kingdoms of the world, saying,
„All the kingdoms of the earth hath Jehovah, the God of
heaven, given me.” (3) It declares that the supreme God had
„charged” him to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. (4) It
originated in a „stir” of the king’s spirit by God himself. (5)
It provided for money and free will offerings for the Temple.
All this may have been brought about as tradition says, by
Daniel showing Cyrus the prophecy of Isaiah, thus causing
him to issue this decree. However this may be, we have here
some great lessons on God’s government of the world, viz:
First, God’s universal sovereignty over the kings of the earth.
Second, these heathen people had some light of the true God
which perhaps, they received from the Jews. Third, God’s
prophecy cannot fail and his promise is made sure, as in the
case of Caesar Augustus, who issued the decree that all the
world should be enrolled, fulfilling a prophecy of Micah some

five hundred years before. It may be added that all this shows
that the Persians during this period recognized the one supreme
God, though they worshiped others gods, and that Isaiah had
foretold this decree giving the very name of the king and bring_
ing us the lesson that God’s foreknowledge is unlimited mak_
ing possible all predictive prophecy.
Next follows the first return and genealogy, 1:5 to 2:67.
The company was composed of those whom the Spirit of God
stirred up, which was not large comparatively speaking, per_
haps, because the larger part of them were engaged in com_
merce and did not wish to take chances on transferring their
business interests. He charged their friends to help them
freely, which has a parallel in the case of the children of Israel
leaving Egypt, though without order from the king. Cyrus
was honest in his decree. All the vessels that had been taken
by Nebuchadnezzar were returned. They numbered in all
5,400. A partial list of them is given, but only the best ma_
terials are mentioned, such as the silver and the gold.
The genealogy in the second chapter gives only the heads of
the various tribes or representatives of them: this list had been
carefully preserved through the Exile. This company of re_
turning pilgrims is the „remnant” so frequently spoken of
by the prophet Isaiah. The total number was 42,360 Jews, and
7,337 servants. Their beasts numbered 736 horses, 250 mules,
435 cattle, 6,720 asses – a large caravan. The mention of the
actual heads of the tribes in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7, gives
evidence that the twelve tribes were represented in this return,
the prophetic proof of which is found in Jeremiah 3:18,16:15;
30:3; Ezekiel 11:15, 17. These prophecies show that Israel
and Judah both were to return to their land. There is also
abundant historical proof that Israel returned with Judah.
After the division of the kingdom and before the captivity ‘of
Israel there were four defections from Israel to Judah. Then
the history of the Jews after their return proves it (See Zech.
11:14) ; the twelve tribes were there in Christ’s day, and James
addresses the twelve tribes. This exact numbering here in
Ezra has the historical value of preserving the genealogy and
the details here given show the poor and insignificant begin_
ning they had upon their return.
The first attempt was to rebuild the Temple, 2:68 to 3:13.
There was a considerable amount of wealth among those who
returned in this company. The larger part of them settled in
the various cities of Judah, comparatively few of them in the
city of Jerusalem. We have an account of the first offering
toward the rebuilding of the Temple (v. 69) amounting to
about $450,000.00. In the seventh month they gathered together
under the leadership of Joshua and Zerubbabel and erected an
altar; the starting of the worshiping of God in sacrifices. They
had learned in the Exile that it was impossible to have a
religion without a temple. It is probable that the stone upon
which this altar was erected is the stone now under „The
Dome of the Rock.” They offered their burnt offerings and
then kept the „Feast of the Tabernacles” as best they could.
In the next year under the direction of the leaders they laid the
foundation of the Temple. This probably occurred in 535 B.C.
It was attended with joyful ceremonies as recorded in verse 10.
It is possible that the song they sang then was the whole or part
of Psalm 136. There were those present who remembered the
former Temple and they thought of the destruction of that
grand building and doubtless they lived over again the fifty
years intervening. The younger members of the congregation
were overjoyed at the present success, and the old men as
truly were grateful, but gave vent to their feeling with a wail_
ing of sorrow at the memory of the former Temple. Fifty
years had passed since their former beautiful Temple had been
destroyed, and they could not but think over the awful past,
when it went down in ruins. So the younger men rejoiced but
the older men wept and wailed.
We find the first hindrance to the work in 4:5_24. This is
by the Samaritans) that mixed race to the north of Judah.
Their first offer was friendly, to co_operate with and help the
Jews build the Temple, and from chapter 4 we see that Zerub_
babel did not accept their offer, but promptly rejected it be_
cause they saw the outcome of such an alliance; then, they
showed that the decree of Cyrus had appointed them to rebuild
the Temple in Jerusalem. The refusal angered the Samaritans
and they succeeded in putting a stop to the work of erecting
the sacred edifice. In 4:24 we are told that the work on the
house of the Lord ended until the second year of the reign of
Darius the king of Persia. This would be 520 or 519 B.C.
In 4:4_5 we have a general statement of the opposition in
this language: „Then the people of the land weakened the
hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose,
all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of
Darius king of Persia.” Then follows the opposition in par_
ticular: In a letter to Ahasuerus (Cambyses) they bring an
accusation against Judah and Jerusalem, but there are no
particulars given. Then in a second letter to Artaxerxes
(Pseudo_Smerdis), they brought an accusation against Jeru_
salem with the following particulars: (1) they are building
the rebellious and bad city; (2) they have finished the walls;
(3) the people are preparing to avoid tribute, custom and toll;
(4) the records show this to be a rebellious and hurtful city,
and there should be an investigation to see if these things are
so; (5) this means that Persia will have no portion beyond the
river Euphrates. The result was that Artaxerxes responded
that he had examined and found records as they had charged,
and therefore he ordered the work stopped, and did stop it
by force.
There are some critical matters just here that call for con_
sideration: (1) „Ahasuerus” and „Artaxerxes” are royal titles
and are applied to various monarchs of Persia; (2) these are
not the „Ahasuerus” and „Artaxerxes” of Esther and Nehe_
miah, making Ezra 4:6_23 parenthetical as some say, but
they refer to „Cambyses” and „Pseudo_Smerdis” as indicated
above, and Ezra 4:6_22 connects directly with the preceding
and following verses; (3) „the rebellious city” has a certain
basis of truth in three instances: It rebelled (a) in the reign of
Jehoiakim, (b) in the reign of Jehoiakin, and (c) in the reign
of Zedekiah; (4) the statement, „have finished the walls,” is
an Oriental exaggeration (see v. 25 and 5:3) ; (5) „no portion
beyond the river” has basis of truth in the reigns of Solomon
and Menahem.
The work was stopped, for probably seventeen or eighteen
years, and apparently no efforts were made to continue it. At
this time there appeared two prophets upon the scene, Haggai,
an older prophet, and Zechariah a younger one. They aroused
the people to activity by a series of prophecies which we find
recorded in their books. Haggai says, „The time has come for
you to build God’s house.” The trouble was they had taken
time to build houses for themselves and neglected God’s house.
He says they ought to consider their ways; that the present
drought and hard circumstances existed because they had neg_
lected the building of the house of God (Haggai 1:7_11).
Zechariah by a series of visions co_operates with Haggai and
the people are at length aroused to a genuine effort to build,
or rather rebuild the Temple.
As they were rebuilding the Temple the matter was reported
to Tattenai, the Satrap, who had charge of all this part of the
Persian Empire. It caused him some apprehension. He wished
to know for certain whether the Jews had authority to rebuild
the Temple or not. They answered that the decree of Cyrus
was their authority. Then Tattenai entered into correspondence
with the king about the matter.
The history of the old Temple, the Jews’ disobedience and
captivity, and the decree of Cyrus was all recited in the cor_
respondence between Tattenai and Darius. The king ordered
a search for the Cyrus decree, the decree was found, and the
work was ordered to go forward. This decree granted all that
the Cyrus decree did and added the help of the governor with
gifts of various kinds and for various purposes. The date of
this decree was 519 B.C. If we compare this letter of Tattenai
to Darius with the former one, we find that there is a vast
difference. The former was characterized by bitterness and
false accusations, while the latter was a fair statement and a
legitimate inquiry into the merits of the case.
We note here that credit is given to the prophets for the suc_
cess of the work, though it was four years, five months, and ten
days after they began to prophesy before the work was com_
pleted. It is well to note here also the points made by the
prophets bearing directly on the work of rebuilding the Temple.
Haggai reproves them for excusing themselves from the build_
ing under the plea that it was not time to build and refers to
their building themselves houses to live in and neglecting the
house of God. Zechariah by a series of visions confirms Hag_
gai’s work and encourages them to undertake the great task
of building. (Here the student should read Haggai and Zech_
ariah – they will be interpreted later in the course).
The Temple was finished and dedicated 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:13_22). This great event occurred about seventy years after the
destruction of the first Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. The nation
now had a religious center. A new era for Judaism dawned.
This Temple remained until A.D. 70, when it was destroyed by
the Romans. Haggai promised that the desire of all the
nations should come into it. In the courts of this same building
Jesus of Nazareth walked and talked. There was a note of joy
in this dedication. They offered sacrifices as they did at the
dedication of Solomon’s Temple, but this exercise did not com_
pare with Solomon’s in magnificence. There was also a re_
setting here of the priests and Levites in the service of the
Temple. Then followed a great celebration of the Passover.
Few other such celebrations of this feast are recorded in sacred
history. Along with this one may be named the one in Egypt
at its institution, the one at Gilgal upon the entrance into the
land, another in the days of Hezekiah, yet another in the days
of Josiah, and the last one in the days of Jesus when he in_
stituted his Supper to take the place of the Passover.

1. By whose decree did the first exiled Jews return to their country
and what was the date of this decree?
2. What five remarkable things about this decree and how brought
3. What great lessons here on God’s government of the world?
4. What light does this give us on the religious condition of Persia
during this period?
5. What great prophet had foretold this decree giving the very name
of this king and what the lesson?
6. What, in general, was the response to this decree, what kindness
shown to them by the Persians, what parallel found in earlier Jewish history and why was the response so small?
7. Who were the men named in Ezra 2:2 (cf Nehemiah 7:7), count_
ing the regular Israelites, the Nethinim, the servants and singers, how many people and how many beasts of burden in this first return, and what evidence that all the twelve tribes were represented in this return?
8. What prophetic proof that the ten tribes were not wholly lost?
9. What historical proof?
10. Why this exactness in numbering and detail?
11. What was the first thing they did upon their arrival in Jerusalem
and what was the amount of this offering?
12. When did they set the altar and inaugurate regular service, who
were the leaders, what was the first feast kept, what was the next step, what steps did they take now toward rebuilding the Temple, and where did they get their material? (See your Bible.)
13. When did they lay the foundation, what correspondence here
(see I Kings 6:1), what the ceremonial on this occasion, what Psalm did they sing; how did they sing it and how did the people give expression to their emotion?
14. From whom did opposition come to the work of rebuilding the
Temple, what proposition did they make, what the subtlety of it, how was it met and why?
15. Where do we have a general statement of the opposition, in what
form does the opposition appear in particular, what points made, what result and what critical matters in this connection?
16. How long did the work of building cease, who stirred them up
to renew the work, what new opposition arose, what form did it take, what history was recited in the correspondence, what was the result, what enlargement of this decree over the Cyrus decree, what was the date of this decree and how does the correspondence here compare with the former letter to the king?
17. What credit is here given to the prophets for the success of the
work, and how long after they began to prophesy to the completion of the work.?
18. What were the points made by these prophets bearing directly
upon the work or rebuilding the Temple?
19. Describe the dedication service, contrast it with Solomon’s dedi_
cation of his Temple and note the resetting here in the service of this Temple.
20. What great Jewish festival did they keep at this time and how
many great occasions of a like celebration in the history of Israel can you name?

Ezra 6_10

In the previous chapter we considered the history on this
period up to the time the Temple was rebuilt and dedicated and
the first Passover after the return was celebrated. This event
occurred about 516 B.C. In this chapter we make a leap of
nearly sixty years. This is ascertained by comparing the dates
in Persia. The first verse of the seventh chapter begins thus:
„After these things” and goes on to record the events which oc_
curred about 458 B.C. In the meantime the work had lagged.
The people had become lax. Numbers of foreign marriages had
been contracted; many moral delinquencies had crept in.
In Persia several events of importance had transpired. Xer_
xes had become king (488_465 B.C.) . Esther had become queen, the incidents of Mordecai and Haman had taken place and Artaxerxes Longimanus (465_425 B.C.) had succeeded Xerxes on the throne. So we are now to consider the events in Judah during the reign of Artaxerxes of Persia, to whom Nehemiah was cupbearer.
First, we will consider the person and character of Ezra, 7:1_
10. We have the record of his genealogy from Ezra himself.
He traces his lineage back directly to Aaron, the brother of
Moses. He is thus of genuinely priestly blood. His business
was that of a scribe: a writer, a recorder, a codifier of the laws.
He was an expert in Jewish law. He was doubtless a teacher
and a man of high personal character and scholarship. There
had been no revival during this period of nearly sixty years
among the colonists in Judah and Jerusalem, and when God
would stir up a revival among them, he began by arousing a
man in faraway Babylon. He impressed upon this man the im_

portance of the work, and stirred him up to lead the people
into the complete adoption of the law of Moses among the
Jews in Judah. They had no great leaders there. Ezra was
among the exiles in Babylon and as a result of long and pro_
found study of the matter, determined that the complete law
of Moses must be made effective in Judah and Jerusalem,
which was over eight hundred miles away and required about
four months for the journey.
Next comes the decree of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:11_26). Ezra
must have been a man of great reputation and influence, highly
respected by the king and nobility, for in some manner, we
know not how, he secured from Artaxerxes the king this re_
markable decree. He granted Ezra his whole request. We find
two kinds of provisions in this decree, viz: the temporary and
the more permanent ones. The following were the temporary
1. Like Cyrus, his predecessor, he made it a matter of choice
to every one as to whether he would return or not.
2. He was to carry the silver and the gold which the king
had freely offered for the establishment of the Law.
3. He was to buy with this money all the animals which he
required for the performing of the sacrifices and ceremonies.
4. The money not required for this they were at liberty to
use as they thought best.
5. The vessels were given them to be brought back to Jeru_
6. What other money was required Ezra was at liberty to
draw upon the king’s treasure house.
7. All the treasurers who are beyond the rivers are com_
manded to give Ezra whatever he may require of them, with no
restrictions as to the amount of salt he should need.

The following constitute the permanent provisions:
1. Priests and Levites and Temple officers were excused from taxation.
2. Ezra was empowered to appoint magistrates and judges
to enforce the law of God, and to teach those who might not
know it.
3. Whoever refused to obey this law might be punished by
death or banishment or the confiscation of his goods or im_
The date of this decree is 457 B.C. and it is the most liberal
decree yet. No wonder that Ezra breaks forth into that match_
less song of thanksgiving! What marvelous powers had been
granted to him by the great king of Persia! He blessed God
that he had put such things into the king’s heart.
In Ezra 8:1_14 we have the genealogy of those who returned
with Ezra. This account is taken from the personal memoirs
of Ezra himself. Here he uses the first personal pronoun. Com_
paring this list with Zerubbabel’s list we find 17,073 males,
making in all, perhaps 9,000 people; fewer families, though
three new ones added, instead of eleven chiefs, or heads of
families, we find eighteen, and there appears one remarkable
name, „Hattush,” a descendant of David and the great_great_
grandson of Zerubbabel.
In 8:15_36 Ezra describes how he himself gathered the cara_
van together on the banks of a certain river, how he found
no Levites among them, how he found certain Levites at a
place called Casiphia and thus adds to his company a con_
siderable number of Levites and singers. He proclaims a fast
of three days at this camping place, and doubtless the fast was
accompanied by earnest prayer. There was a long and dan_
gerous journey before him, and he fully realized it. Ezra knew
that a considerable portion of that desert would be infested
by roving bands of robbers who would watch for just such
caravans as his. He had a large amount of money with him
and might have asked for a band of soldiers to accompany
them, but he says, „I was ashamed to ask of the king a band
of soldiers and horsemen to help us against enemies in the way,
because we had spoken to the king saying, The hand of our
God is upon all those who serve him.” Such faith could not fail,
and the journey was safely made, requiring about four months.
It was in 458 B.C. The first thing they did was to turn over the
money; the next thing was to offer sacrifices, and the third
thing was to deliver the king’s commission.
At this time a considerable amount of laxity prevailed
among the priestly families of Judah and Jerusalem. Many
of the princes and the chiefs and priests had married daughters
of the alien tribes that settled in and around Judah. The law
of the priesthood was that they should marry only among the
priestly families, and they were violating the law openly and
flagrantly. For such a state of affairs to continue would mean
the entire dissolution of the race and the obliteration of their
religion. The princes, the civil heads, made the complaint be_
cause the priests and Levites were guilty. Ezra was dumb_
founded. His actions are described in 9:3 where he says, „I
rent my garments and my mantle and plucked out the hair of
my head and beard and sat down astounded.” In this attitude
he attracted a great deal of attention. And in spite of the crowd
that collected about him, he remained in this position until the
time of the evening oblation. That hour arriving, it was time
for prayer. He stretched forth his hands in an earnest confes_
sion. That confession gives a glimpse into the heart of the
man. It shows us his whole intense honesty and integrity of
purpose. It shows how he identified himself with the people,
for in his confession of the sins of the people he included him_
self with the others. He realized that if this state of affairs
continued, the race would deteriorate, the religion of Jehovah
would be lost among the foreign elements; that it would be
practically impossible for him to impress the law of Moses
upon the community; that the nation would justly die, for
God would drive them into exile again. As might be expected,
a great awe_stricken crowd gathered about the man so humili_
ated and grieved. They knew full well the cause. One young
man, named Shecaniah, speaks. He thinks there is hope for
Israel concerning this thing; that all that is necessary is for
these men to put away their wives and the children born of
such wives; only let it be done in a legal fashion, according to
the law of Moses. Ezra revived. He roused himself up and
issued a proclamation, calling an assembly of the people to
consider the matter. He commands that they make confession
of their guilt and separate themselves from the strange women,
whom they have married. A divorce court is appointed whose
duty it is to carry into effect this command. Two men refuse
to obey (v. 15) and the same verse tells us that they had their
friends. The work is completed. Homes are broken up. Wives
are torn from their husbands and sent back to their homes.
Children were torn from their fathers; husbands sat in the
gloom of their homes, childless. It is difficult for us to even
imagine the full results of such a rigid decree. According to
the law of Moses it was the only thing that he could do to save
the race and the law of God. The list of those who were guilty
of this sin was formidable, but this radical measure was neces_
sary to preserve Israel for her mission in giving the religion of
Jehovah to the world.

1. What was the time period between the events of chapters 6 and 7,
how ascertained and what changes occurred during this period?
2. Who was Ezra, what did he do for Jerusalem and how long on
the journey?
3. What was the nature of the decree of Artaxerxes concerning Ezra,
what was the temporary provisions, what was the more permanent
provisions, what date and how does this decree compare with the two preceding ones?
4. What of Ezra’s exultation in 7:27_28?
5. Compare the list of those who returned with Ezra with Zerub_
babel’s list as to number, as to families, as to the chiefs, and as to the remarkable names.
6. What was the course of Ezra’s journey and what were the incidents and details of the journey?
7. Upon their arrival at Jerusalem what were the first things they did?
8. What immoral condition did Ezra find in Israel when he arrived
in Jerusalem, who made the complaint and why, how did it affect Ezra, and how did he manifest his grief?
9. What course did he pursue and what are the striking features of
his prayer?
10. How did God answer his prayer and what measures recom_
11. How then did they proceed and what was the details of the work?
12. What do you think of the list of those who were guilty of this
13. What was the ground of justification for this radical measure by

Nehemiah l-7

The period of time between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is about twelve years. The leader of this expedition was Nehemiah, who was in all probability a man of princely Jewish blood, brought up and trained in a foreign land, a man of fine presence and splendid ability. He was a favorite of the king,
Artaxerxes, and he was a true Jewish patriot. He was the „cup_
bearer” of the king. This was a position of great responsibility,
and yet of great authority. He was skilled in the diplomacy
and trickery of the Oriental courts, a man who knew men and
He received word from his brother, Hanani, that the walls of
Jerusalem were broken down and the people afflicted. This
news produced a remarkable effect upon him, and he prayed
to the God of heaven and fasted, confessing the sins of the
people. He prayed that God would enable him to speak to
Artaxerxes the king at the right time and that he might receive
favors from him.
About two months Nehemiah continued to pray, waiting for
his opportunity, though he dared not manifest that sadness in
his face. Kings do not like for their servants to be sad in their
presence. But the deep grief of Nehemiah could not be com_
pletely hid. The king noticed it, asking him why he looked so
sad, stating that it could only be sadness of heart. He gave his
reason for his sadness. Then the king asked him if he had any
request to make,, and in that moment Nehemiah prayed to the
God of ‘heaven for help. He had matured his plans and had
come to a conclusion as to what he should ask of Artaxerxes.

So he requested that he be sent to Jerusalem and that the king
give him letters so that he might safely go on his way without
being hindered by their enemies.
The date of this decree is 445 B.C. It gave to „Nehemiah the
special commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, including
letters to Asaph, the keeper of ‘the king’s forest, which also
caused much grief to the enemy. This is the first sign of op_
position which grew more and more intense as the work went
on. After some time Nehemiah with his bodyguard arrived
safely. He was a man of great position in the empire, and must
have had a strong guard with him. He makes no mention of
his mission on his arrival. He preserves a very tactful silence.
If his purpose had been known, his enemies would have at once
set to work to defeat it. His practical turn of mind is shown
in the fact that he chose the secret hours of the night to ascer_
tain the condition of the walls of Jerusalem, thus being able
to mature his plans, no one suspecting his purpose. When he
had surveyed and noted the condition of the walls, and had
seen just what had to be done, he summoned the leaders of the
people, made his purpose known and organized his forces for
the rebuilding. Then followed an appeal to the elders to con_
sider their evil case and to arise and build and then he told
them how the good hand of his God had been upon him. „So
they strengthened their hands for the good work” but the op_
position now is more manifest. They laughed them to scorn,
but Nehemiah replied, „God will prosper us . . . you have no
portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
Nehemiah had organized his forces to perfection. The priest
ly families began to build by the sheep gate which was the
portion nearest to the Temple. They had a double incentive to
work, viz: the protection of the city in which they dwelt, and
the protection of that part of the city where their interests
were. Nehemiah mentions many of the gates, e.g., the Fish
Gate, which was probably at the northeastern entrance of the
city. It was called the Fish Gate because the fish from the
river Jordan and the Sea of Galilee were brought to the city
from that side and through that gate. He mentions the old
gate which was probably to the north of the city. The „tower
of the furnace” probably refers to the potteries which existed
in that day. The Valley Gate overlooking the valley of Nin_
nom opened west. The Dung Gate led out to the lower end of
the valley of Hinnom on the southwest. The Fountain Gate
probably led down to the Tyropean Valley on the south. The
stairs led to the City of David. The next was the Horse Gate,
but we do not know just where it was located. Thus he built
the walls beginning at the east side and going around to the
west and south. It is impossible to follow the construction
exactly as Nehemiah built it. Only a small portion of this
wall has been discovered, and that part is near Ophel. Hurlbut’s
Bible Atlas is helpful here.
They built the walls in the face of opposition. No one knew
that this would arise better than Nehemiah. He felt that the
work must be rushed. The attitude of his enemies was charac_
teristic. Anger in the first place gave place to scorn and con_
tempt. Now Sanballat gathers his forces together to oppose
Nehemiah. It was a trying time. The enemy mocked them
(4:1_3), but Nehemiah set his prayers against the enemy and
went forward.
Their third opposition was a conspiracy to fight, which was
met on the part of Nehemiah by prayer and setting a watch
against them, but just here a complaint came from Judah evi_
dencing his lack of faith. It was threefold, viz: (1) The strength
of the burden bearer is gone; (2) there is much rubbish; (3) the
enemy is threatening. In view of this, Nehemiah made pro_
visions for their safety, arming the people and setting them in
battle array after their families and then he made a moat mas_
terful plea: „Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord,
who is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons,
and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” The effect
of this plea is seen in their vigilance and diligence. Half of
them worked while the other half held the arms; those that
worked had on the sword and worked with one hand and held
a weapon in the other. Nehemiah set trumpeters for signal
purposes; they did not take off their clothes not lay down their
weapons for water, but with sleepless vigilance they pressed
the work to completion and were able to say, „And so we built
the wall . . . for the people had a mind to work.”
Now we have followed Nehemiah’s work to the time that
the walls were rebuilt. Almost as soon as this work had been
completed there occurred great destitution. This is set forth
in chapter 5. Nehemiah had been devoting his energies to the
fortification of the city; now he must give his attention to the
matters in the city.
So we now take up the reforms of commercial and social
abuses by Nehemiah. In this fifth chapter we come face to
face with conditions that give us a painful surprise. One would
think that they would be happy indeed, now, but instead, they
were sorely downcast by serious circumstances, in that great
wrongs were heaped upon them. Nehemiah was brought face
to face with a serious condition of affairs. A great cry was
raised by both men and women who were concerned. They
said that they were in dire straits of poverty. They had no
food, and were in danger of starvation. The suffering was in_
tense. Others said, „We have mortgaged our fields, and vine_
yards and houses.” The implication really is that some of
these had been taken away from them. Then they were without
fields and vineyards, also without corn and wheat, things
necessary to life. Then again, others said, „We have borrowed
money for the king’s tribute upon our fields and vineyards.”
They even had to borrow money to pay the king’s tribute. Now
we see that they were in sore straits when they had to bor_
row money to pay their taxes. But their distress does not stop
here. We are told that some of them had to sell their own
children in order to get bread to eat. „Lo, we bring unto
bondage our sons and our daughters . . . for other men have our
fields and our vineyards.” This is the condition with which
Nehemiah was brought face to face.
Nehemiah was angry and said, „Then I consulted with my_
self and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said unto
them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother.” He saw what
had led to this state of affairs. It was just common greed and
covetousness. Nehemiah was enraged. He called an assembly
et the people, something like the old fashioned „Town Meet_
ing” of New England. He says to them: „The thing ye do is
not good: . . . I likewise, my brethren, and my servants, do
lend them money and grain. I pray you, let us leave off this
usury.” The interest was about 12 per cent. All such interest
was forbidden by the law of Moses. So Nehemiah issued a com_
mand ordering them to restore all this property. He called the
priests together and took an oath of them that they were to
see that this thing was done. Now this shows that the priests
were the leading men in national life. They were to enforce
the law. In order to impress it he says, „I shook out my lap,
and said, So God shake out every man from his house who does
not do this.” Just as one would take an apron with articles in
it and shake them out, so God would do to them, which meant
excommunication. They were to restore the fields and the vine_
yards which the people sorely needed and ought to have. Then
he cites his own example (vv. 14_19): „From the time that I
was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah . . . I
and my brethren have not eaten the bread of the governor,”
that is, he had not been collecting any salary. „But,” he says,
„the former governors were chargeable unto the people, and
took of them bread and wine, and forty shekels of silver, but
instead of that I fed one hundred and fifty of them at my own
expense.” Then in verse 19 he says, „Remember unto me, 0 my
God, for good, all that I have done for this people.”
During all this time, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem had
been trying to entrap him. They sought some way to entangle
Nehemiah and stop the work. But Nehemiah had been trained
in an Oriental court. He was used to trickery and deception,
common in the life of an Oriental palace. Sanballat and Tobiah
invited him down to the plain of Ono for a conference. That
sounds like they wanted to be friends with Nehemiah. But he
says, „I cannot come down: why should the work cease while
I leave it, and come down to you?” He saw through the plan.
Four times they sent him that invitation, but each time he
replied that he could not come down. In verse 5 he says that
they sent him an open letter in which Geshem says, „You think
to rebel. You have appointed prophets to preach among the
people that you are to be king in Judah.” That is a clever
story. The letter informs Nehemiah that they were going to
report to Artaxerxes that he was planning to be king; that
prophets were preaching in Jerusalem that Nehemiah was to
be king. That is the same threat that the Pharisees used on
Pilate: „Pilate, if you let this man go you are not Caesar’s
friend.” It would have frightened an ordinary man. That very
thing drove Pilate to put Jesus to death, when he knew that
he was innocent. They sought to stop the work in that way,
but Nehemiah prayed: „Now, 0 God, strengthen thou my
hands.” So the work went right on. In verse 10 is the record
of another attempt. They employed a certain prophet to help
them. He was one of those men who made divinations and was
secured to entice Nehemiah. Nehemiah went down to the house
of this man, who had been shut up under a vow. Then the
prophet said to him, „Let us meet together in the house of God;
. . . let us shut the doors of the Temple: for they will come to
slay thee.” That was a very subtle proposition. But Nehemiah
was too wise even for this trap. He says, „Should such a man
as I flee? I have no right to go into the Temple. Am I going
to do wrong to save my life?” No wonder God cared for and
used this man! Then he discovered that God had not sent the
prophet, but he had been hired by Tobiah and Sanballat.
The work went right on, and the wall was completed on the
fifty_second day. Now what was going on in the city? Verse
17 tells us that the nobles of Judah sent letters to Tobiah and
he to them. Nehemiah says, „They spake of his good deeds
before me and reported my words to him.” Now that was
treachery, but Nehemiah paid no attention to that. He saw
clearly through it all. They were simply trying to make him
Now when the wall had been built he set up the doors and
appointed porters and singers and Levites. He appointed his
own brother to be governor over the city. This brother was
appointed because he was a God_fearing man. He gives in_
struction about the city gates, as to their opening and so on.
Now we are told about the houses and the inhabitants. The
record says, „Now the city was wide and large but the people
were few therein.” Many Texas cities are like Jerusalem in
that they are large and wide, but the houses are not yet built
and the people few.
Now he had built the walls and set up the gates. Next he
finds the book of the genealogy. That is the same as the list
in Ezra 7. The Apocryphal book, I Esdras, also contains a
similar list. But why was it repeated here? It was taken from
the same list from which Ezra’s was taken and is in accord with
the great emphasis which the Jews put on their genealogies.
This was necessary for the identification of all who had thus
come to Jerusalem and confirms the account given by Ezra.
There are no important differences – no more than we might
expect in two separate genealogical lists prepared by different
persons. But there is a special advantage in having the two
lists, viz: they enable us to make out a more complete cata_
logue of those who came at the first, though either list was
sufficient for the purpose of identification.

1. What was the time period between the books of Ezra and Nehe-miah?
2. How did Nehemiah come to know the condition of Jerusalem
and according to this report what was the condition?
3. How did this affect Nehemiah and what did he do?
4. What of the providence of God in answer to his prayer and what
was the lesson on the relation of prayer and works?
5. What date of this decree and what special commission did it give?
6. What effect of this decree on the enemy?
7. How did Nehemiah commence the work of Jerusalem?
8. What his appeal, what was the first opposition of the enemy and
what was Nehemiah’s reply?
9. How did Nehemiah distribute the work and what was the lesson?
10. Locate as nearly as you can the parts of the wall which were
assigned to the various companies to build.
11. What was the second opposition of the enemy and what was Ne_
hemiah’s reply?
12. What was the third opposition of the enemy and how did Nehe_
miah meet it?
13. What was Judah’s complaint and what was the masterful plea
made by Nehemiah in reply?
14. What indicates their great vigilance and diligence?
15. What complaint came to Nehemiah from the people?
16. How did this affect Nehemiah, what course did he take and what
the result?
17. How does Nehemiah show his spirit of generosity and unselfish_
18. After the wall was completed what artful proposition came from
the enemy to Nehemiah, what was his course in the matter and what lesson for us?
19. How then did they try to entrap Nehemiah and what saved him
from their scheme?
20. How long was the wall in building, what effect on the enemies,
what embarrassing fact to Nehemiah here revealed, and what provision was made for the continued safety of Jerusalem?
21. Why should Zerubbabel’s register of names occur here also, are
there any important differences between the two lists, and what the
special advantage in having the two lists?

Nehemiah 8_13

In Nehemiah 8 we have Ezra coming on the scene again. The date of this appearance is 444 B.C., and we have not heard from him since 456 B.C. He had dropped out of this history for about twelve years. He must have been called away just after his
work in 456 B.C. and after a space of about twelve years re_
turned to Jerusalem. The occasion that called him forth then
was the reading of the Law.
We come now to look at the work of Ezra, with Nehemiah
sustaining him in his work of reform. The great task of Ezra
was the bringing of the law of Moses to Jerusalem and the
adoption of that as the law of the land for the people. By this
law of Moses is doubtless meant the Pentateuch. Ezra had
not produced this book of the law thus far. The time had not
been ripe for the reading of the Law and its explanation to
the people. But the city was now fortified and organization
perfected. Then Ezra went forth and produced this book of
the Law. We are told in chapter 8 that the people asked him
to bring forth the book of the Law and read it.
Now we have a remarkable scene. It is unprecedented in his_
tory. One of the greatest revivals in the world now opened. He
proceeded to organize the people. He had Levites and other
officers to help him. A great assembly of all the people was
convened. A pulpit had been built and Ezra took his place be_
fore all the people. He opened the book which was simply a
roll. It was the law of Moses, that is, the laws of the Penta_
teuch. The great meeting went on. The Law was read by Ezra,
and it was explained by the Levites.

The effect of the reading upon the people was that they began to weep. Why should they weep? Perhaps the reading was the setting forth of those awful chapters in Deuteronomy where
the awful curses upon those who violated this Law were set
forth. With their remembrance of what God had already done
to them because they had violated this Law, and their remem_
brance of the sins they had committed, was enough to bring
tears. Now Ezra tells them that they are not to weep; that
this is a holy day, holy unto the Lord; so they should rejoice
and not weep; that it was the joy of fellowship with God that
was their strength.
Then follows the story of how they built booths and kept the
feast. This was according to the law of Moses that had been
read. They lived in these booths during the time of the feast,
which was called the Feast of Tabernacles.
As soon aa the feast was over the people again assembled.
Six hours were spent in this meeting. Three hours in the read_
ing of the Law, and three hours in the confessions of their sins
and praying. This is a wonderful revival of religion. Chapter
9 deals with confession and prayer. It is the recounting of a
series of acts in the drama of redemption. There are three
scenes in every act: God’s goodness in caring for his people,
the people sinning and turning away from God, and God’s for_
giveness and offer of restoration. The people at last read the
lessons of their history and learn them well. Verse 37 speaks
about their present condition: „It yields much increase to the
kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins; they
have power over our bodies and over our cattle, and we are in
great distress.” As an effect of this repentance (v. 8) they
made a covenant and wrote it, and the princes, the Levites and
the priests set seal unto it.
The first twenty_seven verses of chapter 10 give a list of
those that sealed the covenant. These were the leading men
of the nation. The rest of chapter 10 tells how they attempted
to keep that covenant, how they gave the payment of the tithe
regularly, and observed the sabbath. All this was in perfect
keeping with the law of Moses. Thus Moses’ law was estab_
lished in Jerusalem, and Judaism starts off on its great career.
They followed this with two ordinances: (1) They set aside
one_third of a shekel for the Temple tax, and provided for the
wood to be used in the sacrifice; (2) they instituted measures
to increase the population. They wanted more men in the
city. Many came to live in Jerusalem. In that way they in_
creased the population considerably. The priests lived there,
but not many of the people. We have this statement: „In Jeru_
salem dwelt certain of the children of Judah and Benjamin.”
Of the priests, some of them lived in the city; the majority of
them lived in the country villages outside of the city. A large
majority of the common people also lived in the cities around
Now the problem we have to deal with regarding the cities
is not how to increase the population, but how to decrease it.
People are rushing to the cities and crowding them. The meas_
ure that did most to bring the people to Jerusalem was the
draft of one out of each ten who volunteered, and these were
compelled to come and live in Jerusalem.
Then followed the account of the dedication of the walls.
Now the manner of procedure was about this: They gathered
together all the Levites, and brought them to Jerusalem. They
came together at a certain signal, and the people, all of them
that would come, were divided into two companies, Nehemiah
at the head of one of the companies himself, and Ezra at the
head of the other company. They marched upon the walls.
The walls of the city were broad, and there was plenty of room
for them to march upon them. They marched thus about the
walls, one company one way and the other company the other
way. They went on around until they met. This was a joyous
occasion, a glorious day. Jerusalem had now been inaugurated
as a fortified city, the city of Jehovah, the holy city of Jerusa_
With that great dedication the first great work of Nehemiah
was completed, but he attended to a few other matters, such
as the appointment of Temple officers, treasurers, singers, chief
singers as in the time of David, the separation of the foreign
element, Ammonites and Moabites, from the congregation,
and then he returned to Persia by authority of Artaxerxes and
remained about one year, after which he returned to Jerusalem
and found certain things in bad condition. The people had
backslidden. He found that Eliashib the priest had prepared
for Tobiah a great chamber in the Temple, where the treasures
were kept. Nehemiah finds that he is allied with Tobiah, and
casts him out with all the stuff of Tobiah, and cleanses the
Next, he orders that their portion be given to the Levites.
They had failed to bring in all the tithes and the Levites were
actually suffering. Nehemiah contends with the rulers saying,
„Why is the house of God forsaken?”
Then he enforces the sabbath laws. People were working on
the sabbath day. They were bringing in their produce on that
day to have it ready for the market the next morning. Nehe_
miah prohibits that. They came up to the outside of the city
walls on the sabbath day and waited there to enter bright and
early on the morrow. Nehemiah found this out and put a stop
to this also. Next he compels the Jews to put away their
foreign wives. Ezra had dealt with that thing before. He went
about weeping and bewailing the sins of the people in this
matter. Now when Nehemiah came he did not cover himself
with his mantle and weep. He cursed them and plucked off
their hair and beard, and made them swear that they would
not do this thing. He had back of him the authority of the
great king. He also chased away the son_in_law of Sanballat.
Here was a priest who had married the daughter of his enemy.
When Nehemiah found that out he chased him away. We do
not know how fast he ran, but he lost no time in escaping. The
last item of Nehemiah’s reform is the cleansing of the priest_
hood, and thus he closes his book: „Remember me, 0 my God,
for good.” He offered what he had done to the Lord and peti_
tioned his kindly regard.
The book of Malachi has its setting right in these last verses
of Nehemiah, and reflects the conditions herein set forth in a
most emphatic condemnation of these evils.

1. How may we account for Ezra not appearing in the history before
chapter 8, and what occasion brought him forth before the people here?
2. Where did the people assemble on this occasion?
3. Who constituted this marvelous assembly?
4. How long did this continue and what was the method?
5. How did the people show their reverence for the Word of God?
6, What was the effect upon the people of the hearing of the Law,
why did Ezra suppress their emotions and what did he recommend?
7. What great feast was here reset and how was it celebrated?
8. Describe the fast kept by the Jews, and the prayer which followed.
9. Recite the history from the creation to Abraham as recorded here.
10. Recite their history from Egypt to the establishment in the land
as given here.
11. What was their history in the period of the judges according to
12. What acknowledgment do they make here relative to Jehovah’s
dealings with them?
13. Describe the covenant which followed.
14. What the ordinances made here also?
15. What methods did they adopt in populating Jerusalem and the
cities round about?
16. Describe the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem.
17. What officers were appointed on this day of the dedication of the
18. What law was discovered concerning the Ammonite and Moabite
and what was the result?
19. What was the proof of Nehemiah’s leave of absence from Jeru_
salem and how long was he away?
20. Upon his return what evils did he find and how did he correct
21. What prophet comes in this period and what was his special mes_


Our subject for this discussion is „The Story of Esther.”
First, a few words by way of general introduction to the book.
The book of Esther belongs to what is called The Haggiogra_
pha, that is, the writings. The books of the Old Testament are
divided into three groups: The Law, The Prophets, and The
Writings. This book belongs to the third group. The time of
this book is during the sixty years of silence between the dedi_
cation of the Temple and Ezra’s return. It should be located
right between the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra) perhaps
about thirty_eight or thirty_nine years after the dedication, or
478 B.C.
The author is unknown, but unquestionably he was a Jew,
possibly Ezra or Mordecai, but probably neither of them. The
style is against Ezra as author, while the high praise of Morde_
cai is against Mordecai as author and, besides there are no
first personal pronouns in the book referring to the author. It
was evidently written by a Jew contemporary with Mordecai.
Some say Joakim, the high priest, wrote it, but this is hardly
probable, since he does not seem to have had a knowledge of
the Persian court sufficient for such a task. The date is about
450 B.C.
There is a great deal of difference in the way the book of
Esther is regarded by scholars and others. Many Gentiles have
but little use for it, because it is such a Jewish book. Ewald,
a great German critic, says that it is like coming down from
heaven to earth to read Esther. Luther said he wished the
book had never been written – it is so Judaizing. So you see
this book is variously estimated. The Jews value it highly.
They maintain that the book of Esther will last when the
prophets have perished. They always read it with great joy
and say its place in the canon of the Holy Scriptures is un_
questioned. But in many editions of the Bible it was not in_
cluded; it was not considered worthy of a place. But by a large
majority of the scholars it is included in the canon, as right_
fully belonging to the Holy Scriptures.
The book was undoubtedly written to give a historical basis
or ground for the Feast of Purim. This feast was observed for
centuries before Christ in the month of March. The book was
written by a Jewish patriot to give the occasion of this feast.
This book has some peculiarities. The name of God is not
once mentioned. There is no mention of prayer in it. There
is not even a reference to Jerusalem nor ~he Temple. But it
must be remembered that it is a national book; written for
national purposes and from a national motive. It is intensely
Jewish, referring to a tragic incident in their history, recount_
ing the marvelous way in which they escaped from a great
crisis. There are two allusions in the book to facts in previous
Jewish history, viz: Mordecai’s captivity (2:6) and the dis_
persion of the Jews in all the provinces (3:8).
The book is real history. The arguments against the his_
toricity of book are as follows:
1. According to the history of Herodotus, and that is our
chief authority for the history of this period, especially Per_
sian history, the queen of Ahasuerus at this time was Amastris,
whom he married many years before the events found in the
book of Esther could have happened, and she never was put
away, but maintained a great influence over him and largely
shaped the course of his life. She was a Persian woman of
very bad personal traits: unscrupulous and crafty, controlling
the king in many matters. She was entirely different from what
Esther is pictured as being. Our reply to that argument will
come up in a later reply to it.

2. The law of the land compelled the Persian monarchy to
marry in the families of his own relatives, or five of the noblest
Persian favorites. Thus it would have been impossible for a
Jewish woman to have been made the queen.
3. Esther is regarded as the queen in this book. But she could only have been the chief favorite in the royal harem. This is probably the only position in which we can place her and be in harmony with the facts.
4. It is argued that the book clearly indicates that Hainan
knew the race of Mordecai, but not that of Esther. How could
he be ignorant of the race?
5. The appalling massacre of their enemies by the Jews,
seventy_five thousand at one time, seems incredible. It looks
like the fancy picture of a novelist. The reasonable thing is to
deny that seventy_five thousand citizens of the Persian Empire
could be killed or butchered in such a way.
6. It is highly improbable that the massacre should have
been deferred for eleven months after it was decreed. Lots were
cast, and according to the lot Haman fixed the date of the de_
cree which he had secured from the king. It is neither improba_
ble nor by any means impossible, but perfectly true.
7. The story is so well knit together as to resemble a fairy
tale. But cannot God arrange his providences as well as a
writer could arrange them? Is God’s mind inferior to a novel_
8. The religious element is in the background, and scarcely
referred to either directly or indirectly. It is true that God is
not directly referred to, nor is prayer mentioned, but God is
implied, and there may be a reason for the silence in the matter
of religion. The writer may have found it better to conceal
the element of the Jewish religion than to reveal the power
behind the throne.
9. Its moral tone is unworthy of Scripture. The best charac_
ters in the book are represented as ruthlessly demanding this

massacre and then demanding its repetition, not satisfied with
the butchery of five hundred people in one city alone, only
satisfied when three hundred more were put to death. Such is
at variance with the Scripture, and seems to be unworthy of a
place in the canon, they say.
Now the arguments in favor of the historicity of the book
are as follows:
1. It is true to the Persian manners and customs, even down
to the minutest details. It is true to the life, times, and customs
of the Persian people. No man could have written this book
unless he was familiar with the Persian life in all of its details.
So at once it is evident that it cannot be fiction.
2. The character of Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, is correctly pic_
tured. Point by point this king can be matched with the picture
and record of Herodotus, the great historian. The man who
wrote this book must have known this king, or he never could
have written the book as we have it.
3. The existence of the Feast of Purim itself must have some
historical occasion and is a mighty argument for the historicity
of the book. Critics have tried to account for this feast which
has existed now for twenty_three or twenty_four hundred years
in other ways, but have utterly failed. The only way to ac_
count for the feast is to accept the feast as actual history.
4. The great council in the third year in the reign of Ahasue_
rus mentioned in the first of the book of Esther, that is, the
feast actually occurred and was called together to plan an
expedition against Greece. That expedition he carried out as
secular history plainly records. Then were fought the battles
of Thermopylae and Marathon on the land, and the sea contest
at Salamis, when the hosts of Persia were scattered like chaff
before the Greek patriots. It is a historic fact that this great
assembly came together in the third year of the reign of
5. There is no historical discrepancy in the book. The most

critical of the German critics has failed to point out a single
incident which contradicts history.
6. It makes its appeals to the chronicles of the kings of Per_
sia, as found in the last chapter. The writer would not have
dared to do that writing as he did in the land of Persia, if his
record had not been true and he had not authority for what he
7. It tacitly, though not openly, recognizes a providence in
history, and was written to record the divine providence in re_
lation to God’s chosen people. Much scripture is written for
the very purpose of recording God’s dealings with his people
in their preservation, and the incidents of their natural exis_
tence. Why should not one book then be written with this
great event as its real background?
8. The ruthless demand of Mordecai and Esther for the mas_
sacre of their enemies must be studied in the light of their age
and the circumstances that had been forced upon them.
9. God’s providences may produce as good and as well knit
a story as the imagination of a novelist. To deny that is really
to deny the workings of divine providence, or to deny that God
is as great as man.
The classic name of Ahasuerus is Xerxes, the boundaries of
whose empire were India and Ethiopia. The places of the
scenes of the book are Shushan, the palace of the Persian king,
and the provinces.
We may now pursue our study of the book itself by taking
up the story chapter by chapter as follows:
Chapter 1: In the palace of Artaxerxes there is a great feast,
lasting 180 days; his magnificence is displayed. A second great
feast is made for the people of Shushan. There are revelling and
drinking till the men are all drunken. The king is intoxicated.
He commands to bring his wife, Vashti, for his drunken lords
to look at, that he might display her beauty. The refusal of
the queen to come and be insulted, the anger of the king, the
advice of one of his counsellors, the issuing of the decree that
all women, throughout the Persian Empire should ever after
obey their husbands – about as foolish a decree as any man
ever made.
Chapter 2: A new queen is sought. A bevy of beautiful girls
is brought one by one before the king. Among them is Esther,
a Jewess, brought up by Mordecai. She succeeds in pleasing
the king and becomes queen. A great feast is made in honor of
her. About that time a plot is discovered by Mordecai in which
two of the king’s chamberlains plan to assassinate the king.
Mordecai reveals the plot.
Chapter 3: The promotion of Haman, the Agagite, to be
prime minister. Mordecai, the Jew, refuses to bow down to him.
Haman is angered and mortified. He will not be content with
putting to death one Jew, but asks the king on promise of pay_
ment of a large sum of money for permission to put to death
the entire Jewish nation, on the condition that he replace his
loss out of the money of those he killed. The decree is granted.
The lot is cast to decide the day. The edict goes forth that on
that day eleven months hence all the Jews are to be put to
Chapter 4: The grief of the Jews. Mordecai commands Es_
ther to intercede on their behalf before the king. She asks him
to fast three days on her behalf. The answer to Mordecai, „Do
not think that thou thyself shall escape their massacre?”
Chapter 5: Esther appears before the king, taking her life
in her own hands, for it might mean death to appear before the
king unbidden. She is accepted. This incident is to Esther like
the experience of Nehemiah in the reign of Artaxerxes, the son
of this same king. Everything seemed to depend upon the whim
of this childish king. She invites him to a banquet. She knows
how to get on the best side of him. She asks Haman to be with
them also. Haman hears the news that he is to banquet with
the king and his queen, and he is very much elated. He tells
his wife about it, then complains about this man, Mordecai,
who will not bow the knee to him. His wife says, „Get ready
a gallows fifty cubits high and hang Mordecai on it.” He fol_
lows his wife’s advice and prepares the gallows.
Chapter 6: Incidents leading up to the honoring of Mordecai.
The state records are read. The story is told how the king’s
life had been spared by a man named Mordecai. He asks the
question, „Has this man been honored? He saved my life.”
Answer, „No.” While he is thinking about this, Haman comes
in. The king asks him, „What shall I do to the one I desire to
highly honor?” Haman, thinking it is himself that the king
desires to honor, gives this suggestion: „Put the king’s robe
on him and a chain about his neck, and have the chief man
in the kingdom lead his beast through the streets of the city.”
He said that, thinking that he was to be thus honored himself.
„All right,” said the king, „You go and do that to Mordecai,”
and he had to do it. There was no escape from the king’s com_
mand. Then he went home like a sulky boy because he had
been whipped. As soon as he reaches home, word comes that
he is to go to the banquet.
Chapter 7: The banquet passed off without incident. Per-sians were very fond of drinking and banquets. The king wanted to know what Esther demanded. She wanted time to get him in a good humor, so she asked that he come to another banquet.
At this the king declared that he was ready to grant her re_
quest even to half of the kingdom. Now the time had come.
She began to beg for her life and for the life of her people. We
may imagine how the king felt when he learned that his favor_
ite queen was to be killed. See how she works him up. Yes,
she was to be killed, for the decree did not exclude even her.
„Who is going to kill my very idol, my favorite queen?” „Why,
this wicked Haman is going to do it.” This is another psy_
chological moment. Haman begins to beg and to plead with
Esther for his life; he even climbed up on the couch where she
is reclining. The king thinks that he is even trying to add in_
sult to injury, and so his rage knows no bounds. The servants
say that he has made a gallows fifty cubits high on which to
hang Mordecai. The king commands them to take the wretch
and hang him on it.
Chapter 8: Mordecai is promoted to Haman’s place and be_
comes chief minister. Esther begs that the decree against the
Jews be revoked, but the law of the Medes and Persians
changes not. The only thing that can be done is to issue another
decree, so the king asks her what she will have. She and Mor_
decai have talked it over and she is ready for that request.
She asks that the Jews have the privilege of slaying their ene_
mies. There was no other way out of it. This shows Mordecai’3
shrewdness and ability. There was great rejoicing among the
Jews at this turn of affairs.
Chapter 9: The day arrives. The Jews are prepared. The
nobles help the Jews because a Jew is prime minister. The
nobles knew on which side their bread was buttered. So they
help the Jews and altogether, seventy_five thousand of the peo_
ple are slain; five hundred in Shushan the palace alone. Esther
and Mordecai make another request. Esther wants the mas_
sacre repeated. She wanted another day of butchery. I do not
know why. The king grants it. There is great rejoicing among
the Jews. This occurred on the fourteenth and fifteenth days
of the month of Adar, or our month of March. Mordecai and
Esther fix this day in which all the Jews shall celebrate this
great event. She has the edict issued under the seal of Morde_
cai the prime minister, and so the feast is established. That is
how this feast originated. Every year on the fifteenth of March,
all the Jews celebrate it. They do not celebrate it in a very
religious fashion now. Still they regard it as a great day.
Chapter 10: This chapter speaks of the greatness of Morde_
cai, as the prime minister of the Persian king.
Now let us look at the chief characters of the book, aa fol_
1. Ahasuerus: There is no question but that this Ahasuerus
is the Xerxes of history) and is an exemplification of despotism.
He was an absolute monarch, a despot. In him we see the out_
workings of despotism. Caligula of the Roman Empire was a
despot, and his despotism drove him mad. It is despotism that
made this king, Xerxes, ridiculous in the eyes of the world. He
was the slave of his ministers and servants. He knew nothing
but what they told him. He was absolutely dependent upon
them, for all of his information. He was like a child in his silly
notions. His servants and nobles deceived and tricked him,
and he was so suspicious of them that he was a very slave to
his slaves. He was afraid of them, and they knew that if he
suspicioned them, he would kill them, and so he was afraid of
them, and they were afraid of him. He was the slave also of
his passions. He spent his time drinking, eating, banqueting
and satisfying his gluttony and lust. He was not much above
the beast. Because the Hellespont wrecked his ships, he order_
ed it to be flogged. He was the slave of his whims and fancies,
the slave of his temper and his feelings. He knew no control
but his own will, the tool and the plaything of the favorite of
his harem, willing to ruthlessly murder thousands of his own
subject to satisfy his favorite queen. We must, however, say
for him that he recognized the services of Mordecai in saving
his life, and honored him. But he did this because it was called
to his attention, and not because he sought it out or remember_
ed it.
2. Vashti: She has been honored above many women in his_
tory. She is recognized as one who would forfeit her position
and crown rather than to sacrifice her honor and her pride. She
refused to obey the king at the risk of her own life. But she
maintained her dignity and self_respect. She was valorous and
womanly. She was having a feast with the women, and it is
thought by some that she may have refused to do the king’s
bidding because she had taken a little too much wine, hence
was not much disposed to be ordered, but I rather think this is
not true. She was a rare gem in the midst of that corrupt
Persian Court.
3. Haman: This man’s name is a synonym for vanity and
fulsome pride, ruthlessness and savagery, deceit, cruelty, and
all that is ignoble. He is the incarnation of insane conceit.
Honors made a fool of him. Now pride in itself is not such a
bad thing. A man may have pride of the right sort and really
be helped by it. But a man with this kind of pride wants
everything in the universe to be his slave. Even preachers
may have this disease. They sometimes think that everybody
and everything ought to bow down to them. Because Mordecai
would not bow his knee to Haman his vanity was hurt. When
a man thus allows his vanity to rule him, he sees everything
out of proportion. Haman could not be satisfied with the mur_
der of Mordecai, but he must do the big thing and kill the
nation. Vanity is insatiable, and often causes wars. It was this
man’s vanity that led to his downfall.
4. Mordecai: He is one of the great characters of the book.
He was a Jew and a poor one, but he was loyal to the king,
under whose government he lived. The Jews have become citi_
zens of nearly every nation in the world. Here we have a Jew
the prime minister of the empire. One of the greatest prime
ministers that Great Britain ever had was a Jew. Mordecai was
faithful to his king. He was elevated to be prime minister, but
it did not give him the „big head.” When he was led through
the streets he did not feel puffed up. He had sense enough to
know that that sort of thing would not last long. Here
is a man who waited and worked. We do well to learn
that lesson – working and waiting and doing your best will
bring its reward, in due time. God always has a place ready
for the man who works and waits and does his best.
5. Esther: She was brought up in the family of Mordecai
and trained by him. She was trained well beyond any doubt.
She was beautiful but not spoiled by her beauty. She was able
to use her beauty in the right way. Though she was the fa_
vorite of the king and was successful with him, it did not spoil
her. She remained loyal to her uncle and did not forget him.
Neither did she lose her religion when she became a queen in
the most wicked court of her times. There is no mention that
there was prayer connected with the three days fast, but doubt_
less there was. She takes her life in her own hands for her peo_
ple. She knew how to manage the king. She outwitted the
cunning Haman. She was severe. She was one of the greatest
heroines of history, and she has been called by many the sa_
viour of her people. She was beautiful, talented, brave, shrewd,
and a womanly woman, yea, one of the greatest of women.

1. At what point in the history of Israel does the book of Esther
come in?
2. Who wrote the book and when?
3. What of the canonicity of the book?
4. What was the purpose of the book?
5. What peculiarities of the book?
6. What two allusions in the book to facts in previous Jewish his_
7. Is the book real history and what arguments pro and conf
8. What was the classic name of the Persian king who married Esther
and what were the boundaries of his empire.
9. What was the place of the scenes of the book?
10. Give the story of the book, chapter by chapter.
11. Give a character sketch of Ahasuerus, Vashti, Haman, Mordecai,
and Esther, respectively.
12. What great lessons of the book and at what points in the story
is God’s hand most plainly seen?



We now take up the prophets of the last period of Israel’s
history as found in the Old Testament, the period after the re_
turn from exile, the restoration, and of the many books on this
period, we name the „Bible Atlas,” by J. H. Huribut, the „Pul_
pit Commentary,” and The Minor Prophets by Pusey.
There were three prophets after the Restoration: Haggai,
Zechariah, and Malachi. The last pre_exilian prophet was
Habakkuk, about ninety years before the postexilian prophets
come on the scene, but in the meantime there were three exilian
prophets, viz: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
To understand these prophets we must first of all look at the
historical situation, as follows: The kingdom of Israel was now
under Persian rule. That rule lasted from about 538 to 332 B.C.
It began when Cyrus captured the city of Babylon and thus
became master of all western Asia. It ended when Alexander
the Great crossed the Hellespont, defeated the Persian king,
and thus put an end to the great Persian Empire, and spread
Greek civilization throughout all western Asia. During that
period of a little over two hundred years, the Israelites were in
subjection to the kingdom of Persia and were a vassal state.
Doubtless all that time they paid an annual tribute to their
overlord. They never enjoyed national freedom until the time
of the Maccabees. It was 537 or 536 B.C. when Cyrus, after his
great conquest north and west of Babylonia, marched upon
that city which had been for half a century the center of the
world. All nations had bowed to Babylonia during the reign of

Nebuchadnezzar, and for a short period following the succes_
sion of his son, Merodach, Cyrus, one of the greatest and most
remarkable conquerors of all history, advanced upon the city,
and according to his own inscription on a cylinder which has
been discovered, the city opened its gates and surrendered itself
to him while King Nabonidus fled. We have also an inscription
which has been recorded by Nabonidus himself, telling us the
same story: that Cyrus captured Babylonia without striking
a blow. They opened the gates to him.
In about 536 B.C. Cyrus issued his decree that the Israelites
who were in Babylonia might return to their native land and
rebuild their Temple. He may have been moved or actuated by
humane motives, for he was one of the most humane of all
monarchs of Oriental and ancient history. He thus allowed
any of those Israelites who longed to return to have their de_
sires fulfilled. Whatever motive actuated him, he gave the
decree which is recorded in Ezra 1.
The decree permitted all the Jews who wished to return, compelling none whatever to go contrary to their wishes, granting them the privilege of taking all of their property with them, asking that gifts might be given by their friends, and Cyrus sent back all the vessels of the Temple, which Nebuchad-nezzar carried away. The decree granted them the privilege of returning to rebuild their Temple. This was their chief purpose.
That return occurred somewhere about 536 B.C. Their Jour_
ney lasted several months. It was a large company, fifty thou_
sand or more, with a great deal of wealth, and doubtless Was in
many respects a very joyous return. This is the fulfilment of
the great prophesies of Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah,
and Ezekiel.
We can imagine something of the joy and gladness of the
nation. But when they arrived home, they found that all those
glowing prophecies were yet to be fulfilled, regarding the land,
the city, and the Temple, for Jerusalem was a heap of ruins;
the city was as it was when Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers de_
stroyed and burned it. The land was largely depopulated and
almost barren and their sacred Temple with all its magnifi_
cence, which had stood for about four centuries, was left with
scarcely one stone upon another. They were to begin anew the
civilization of the land, to begin at the very bottom, the very
foundation of a new national life and existence. But they had
one great advantage, they had all the traditions and laws and
prophecies of the past. They had a marvelous inspiration in
those prophetic writings.
Their first aim was to build an altar on the site of the old al_
tar built by Solomon, and there offer up their sacrifices and
observe the Feast of Tabernacles. They began to lay the foun_
dation of the Temple very soon afterward, and we saw some_
thing of the strange scene that occurred as they laid that
foundation, how the old men wept aloud and the young men
shouted for joy, the voice of shouting and the voice of weeping
were heard afar off.
But trouble very soon arises. The Samaritans from the north,
the mixed race of people that had been deported by Sargon and
Shalmaneser, wanted to become Jews to help in building the
Temple, wanted to mix with this colony and be one with them.
They met with a curt refusal; a refusal, justified by Jeremiah
and Ezekiel; it would have meant the ruin and the collapse of
the national life if they allowed this strange blood and this
strangely mixed religion to be mingled with their own. Their
very existence depended upon their separateness. As the result
of their refusal, they incurred the lasting enmity of the Samari_
tan peoples. We call them Samaritans, but strictly speaking
they were not really Samaritans at this time, because they had
not received that name with all its implications. That enmity
lasted all through the period of reconstruction, and it is not
dead yet. It will not die until the last Samaritan is dead.
They succeeded in stopping the work of rebuilding the walls
of the Temple, and from what Haggai says, it seems that they
succeeded in stopping that building by preventing them from
bringing up the timbers from Joppa. Cyrus’ decree permitted
them to get the timbers necessary to the rebuilding of the Tem_
ple from the mountains of Lebanon, and they had to be brought
by raft to Joppa and thence to Jerusalem, and it seems quite
probable that the Samaritans succeeded in stopping them from
bringing up that timber and hence they could not go on with
the building of the Temple.
Sixteen years passed, and nothing more was done toward the
rebuilding of that sacred structure, but during that time they
were not idle; being defeated in their purpose of building the
Temple they set to work to organize the community. They
probably restored a great many of the houses in Jerusalem,
and many of the houses and villages in Judah; they erected
houses of their own, they laid the foundations for a new com_
munity. Some of them were not only building themselves
houses, but ceiling them with beautiful cedar with carvings.
They were beginning to gather some luxuries around them, and
they seemed to be largely satisfied with the altar upon which
they could sacrifice, and with their progress in reshaping and
establishing the new community, and they settled down ap_
parently to take it easy. The difficulties had evidently fright_
ened them out of all thought of going on with the work; they
were occupied with their own affairs, rather than with the af_
fairs of the Temple.
In about 529 B.C. Cyrus, being killed in battle, was succeed-ed by his son, Cambyses, who invaded Western Asia as far as
Egypt and doubtless Israel felt some effect of that invasion.
Cambyses committed suicide and was succeeded by a usurper
who in turn was killed by the nobles who conspired against
him, the chief of whom was Darius, who succeeded this usurp_
er on the throne of the Persian Empire about 521 B.C. He was
a man of noble character, though not as humane and successful
as Cyrus the Great, yet he was one of the greatest men of his
age. As soon as Be came to the throne, the world which then
constituted the Persian Empire, was convulsed with revolts
and insurrections and rebellions, in attempts to throw off the
yoke of Persia. Darius was engaged for four years in quelling
these revolts, and finally succeeded in subjugating them and
reducing his empire to order. It was during that time, when
Darius was busy quelling these revolts which threatened to
dissolve and destroy the Persian Empire, that this prophecy
was spoken.
We take up these prophets in order. Haggai was the first.
The name is derived from the Hebrew word which means „a
feast,” or belonging to a feast. It is a peculiar name, occurring
nowhere else. It is altogether likely that he was an exile who
returned with the company. Whether he was an old man or
not we cannot say. Some say that he was one of those who
had been deported, had lived fifty years in exile in Babylon and
returned with the first company. The problem before Haggai
was to arouse the people to build the Temple. They need a
temple as the center of their national and religious life. Be_
cause of the difficulties that had come through the Samaritans,
and because of the intrigues against them at the royal court of
Persia, the people had ceased to work at the building. They
reached the conclusion that the time had not yet come, saying,
„We can get along without it. We have lived during the exile
without it, and fifteen years after we reached our land we did
without it, and we can manage to get along. As long as these
difficulties are in the way we will not trouble ourselves about
building the temple.” At this juncture two prophets appear on
the horizon, Haggai, who comes first, then Zechariah. About
the year 520 B.C. Haggai preaches his first sermon. It is a plain,
simple, direct address to the hearts of his hearers.
A fine outline of Haggai is. the following:
I. First Address, 1:1_15, year of Darius, 2_6_1.
II. Second Address, 2:1_9, year of Darius, 2_7_21.
III. Third Address, 2:10_19, year of Darius, 2_9_24.
IV. Fourth Address 2_20_23 year of Darius. 2_9_24.
His first prophecy was a call to build the Temple, chapter 1.
The first verses give us the exact date: In the second year of
Darius the king, 520 B.C., in the sixth month, corresponding to
our September, the first day of the month, came the word of
Jehovah by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the governor
and Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest. He speaks
to the leaders. There is no mention of his preaching to the peo_
ple, yet no doubt there were many exiles present, but he is
speaking specifically to the leaders. Notice, it is the first day
of the month when they were celebrating the Feast of the New
Moon, which feast was observed at the beginning of each month
in the year. There was, probably, an assembly in Jerusalem,
and on that occasion Haggai received his first message and
appeared before them.
His first remarks are a reply to the people’s excuse. The
second verse tells us: „Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, say_
ing, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the
Lord’s house shall be built.” The margin puts it better, „The
time is not come for Jehovah’s house to be built.” In answer
to that excuse the word of Jehovah comes to Haggai the proph_
et and he put the question: „Is it time for you yourselves to
dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now,
therefore, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider your ways.”
Then he portrays their condition and gives the cause of it:
They had sown much and brought in little; had eaten but
they had not enough; they drank, but were not filled; they
were clothed, but were not warm; they earned wages, but put
it into a bag with holes. Why all this dissatisfaction? Why
were things not going right? They were attending to their own
houses and their own affairs, and not Jehovah’s. Instead of
these things creating this excuse for them, they gave the very
reason why they should exert themselves for God’s cause.
„Thus saith Jehovah, Consider your ways.”
Then he gives a call to the people to build the Temple (vv.
7_11). Haggai here tells them exactly what they ought to
do: „Go up to the mountain [hill_country] and bring wood,
and build the house.” What hill country does he refer to?
Some think he refers simply to the hill country of Judah, but
it evidently means the hill country of Lebanon, where the
great timbers were secured that were used to build Solomon’s
Temple, and where they went to secure the timber to build
the Temple. They have all the stone necessary; there were
plenty of stones round about Jerusalem to build the Temple.
„I will take pleasure in it, saith Jehovah.” He took pleasure
in the house of Solomon, came and filled it with his presence
when Solomon dedicated it, and promises now if they will
build the house, he will take pleasure in it, and he will be
glorified just as he was glorified when Solomon’s Temple was
He continues his admonition in v. 9: „Ye looked for much,
and lo, it came to little [referring to the crops and products of
their vineyards]; and when ye brought it home, I did blow
upon it.” The margin says, „I did blow it away.” In some
way it was wasted and they did not derive the benefit. Why
this drought? „Because of my house that lieth waste, while
ye run every man unto his own house. . . . For your sake the
heavens withhold the dew, and the earth withholdeth fruit.
And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the moun_
tains, and upon the grain, and upon the new wine, and upon the
oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon
the men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the
hands.” That was the cause of the drought. People now ex_
plain it by various natural causes; the weather bureau and the
weather prophets have a theory. But Haggai says, „It is be_
cause of your neglect of God’s house; ye have been attending to
your own affairs.” I would rather trust the insight of God’s
prophet than the weather prophet.
The effect of this appeal was good. They hearkened to
Haggai the prophet, both Zerubbabel and Joshua and all the
remnant of the people with them, and they obeyed the voice
of Jehovah their God and all the words of Haggai _the prophet,
and the people did fear before Jehovah. Haggai calls him_
self the Lord’s messenger and when he came unto the people
he brought this great encouraging word (v. 13): „I am with
you, saith Jehovah.” As one great man has said, „The best of
all is, God is with us.” And this is the gracious promise of
Haggai to the people. As a result Jehovah stirred up the
spirit of the leaders and the remnant of the people, and they
came, and did work on the house of Jehovah, and they began
to work exactly twenty_three days after Haggai preached to
them his first sermon. The date of this sermon is „the four
and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of
Darius the king.”
We have the second prophecy of Haggai in 2:1_9, the sub_
ject of which is „The Glory of the New Temple.” The exact
date of this is given also, the twenty_first day of the seventh
month. This was preached to the leaders and the people,
and to meet an occasion which frequently comes in connection
with building a new house, especially when the old one has
been a magnificent structure, and when the people are not able
to build one fully as large and magnificent. The people had
begun to lay the foundation, and this afforded opportunity for
comparisons to be made. There were some people there who
remembered the old Temple, and they thought about the good
old times and the good old building that they had before, and
they began to make comparisons, and any man who has helped
to erect a church knows the danger of discussion when a church
building goes up.
Haggai directs himself to the occasion: „Who is left among
you that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye
see it now? is it not in your eyes as nothing?” Here is the
criticism. But the prophet says, „Yet now be strong, 0 Zerub_
babel, saith Jehovah; and be strong, 0 Joshua, son of Jeho_
zadak, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land,
saith Jehovah, and work; for I am with you, saith Jehovah of
hosts.” Now the prophet gives a great promise. He said
that the time would come when this Temple would be glorified
beyond that of Solomon’s Temple for, „Yet once, it is a little
while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the
sea, and the dry land: and I will shake all nations; and the
desirable things of all nations shall come; and I will fill this
house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts.” The explanation
is found in verse 8: „The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,
saith Jehovah of hosts; and in this place will I give peace,
saith the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall
be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts; and in this
place will I give peace.” A great promise, a great inspiration!
No wonder that Zerubbabel and Joshua went to work with,
greater zeal, largely as a result of Haggai’s prophesying.
The third prophecy of Haggai is in 2:10_19, the burden of
which is the cause of their calamities and the promise of bless_
ing. This occurred in the ninth month, just two months after
the previous one and on the fourth and twentieth day of the
month. Haggai comes forward with a new and fresh argument
to incite them to activity. He raises a question here and it is
a question as to the relative infectiousness of evil or of good:
„Ask now the priests concerning the law saying, If one bear
holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do
touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any food, shall it
become holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then
said Haggai, If one that is unclean by reason of a dead body
touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests an_
swered and said, It shall be unclean.” The question is based
on the ceremonial law and customs. It is like this: A holy
garment touching a piece of furniture will not make that
holy, but an unclean garment touching anything will make it
unclean. In other words, evil is more infectious than good.
Now what does Haggai mean? Is he simply playing with
words? No, he is illustrating a great principle here. People
are affected by evil much more readily than by good. This
principle Haggai applies to these people. They had been in
touch with things unclean; had been without their Temple;
had been in the condition of pollution without their sacrifices.
It is summed up in verse 14: „So is this people, and so is this
nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their
hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.” In other
words, their acceptance before God did not depend upon their
place in the Holy Land, but upon their actual state of holiness
before him. Then he goes on to discuss his dealings with them
and the result upon their economic and religious life which
had been very unsatisfactory. They had been under a curse,
but they are on the threshold of a great blessing (2:15_19).
The fourth prophecy is found in 2:20_23, the burden of
which is the restoration and the establishment of the throne of
David through Zerubbabel. This is the same day on which the
third one was given. This is addressed directly to Zerubbabel,
the governor, the descendant of the line of David, the true,
lawful heir to the throne. It is a gracious promise bringing
before Zerubbabel something of the glories predicted by Jere_
miah and Ezekiel, when they spoke about the prince of the
house of David that should sit upon the throne forever. He
encourages Zerubbabel and says, „I will shake the heavens and
the earth: and I will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms,
and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen:
and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them;
and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one, by
the sword of his brother.”
The background of this prophecy is those insurrections which convulsed all the world at the succession of Darius, and which it took him four years to quell. Verse 28 says, „In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, will I take thee, 0 Zerubbabel, my
servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith Jehovah, and I will make
thee as a signet,” which means that he will be God’s lawful
representative, and God will delegate to him rulership, king_
ship and authority. The signet ring represented several things,
viz: an irrevocable testimony, a delegate power, aa God dele_
gated his power to Zerubbabel. God delegated royal and
divine authority to Zerubbabel, the legal heir of the throne of
Israel. There was here a great promise of peace.
The fulfilment of this prophecy of Haggai did not take place
fully in his day. The Persian Empire was re_established and
the Jews, for over four hundred years, remained a little,
obscure nation; a great conflict took place between Persia and
Greece, when the battle of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis,
and others were fought. But Haggai’s prophecy revived the
old hope of the messianic age in Israel, and started Judaism
with that hope burning strong in their breasts. These prophecies
were fulfilled at the coming of the Messiah, and the establish_
ment of his reign.
There are two distinctive messianic prophecies in this book,
viz: (1) The greater glory to the temple, 2:6_9; (2) David’s
throne through Zerubbabel, as a representative of David, 2:21_
23. There is also one quotation from the book in the New Testa_
ment, viz: Hebrews 12:26 is a quotation of Haggai 2:6, and
is there applied to the final shaking of all material things. Star-ting with Sinai, we have a perspective of prophecy, the shaking of Sinai forecasting God’s shaking in Zerubbabel’s day, the shaking in Zerubbabel’s day forecasting Christ’s day and that in turn forecasting the shaking at Christ’s second advent.
There are three great lessons of the book: (1) The influence
of God’s preachers in forward kingdom movements, as great
things in God’s kingdom have always been accomplished
by the instrumentality of great leaders; (2) The importance
of God’s work is paramount to everything else, which is illus_
trated in the saying of our Lord, „Seek ye first the kingdom
of God and his righteousness and all these things (food, clothes,
houses, etc.) shall be added unto you.” (3) the necessity of a
vision. They saw through the prophet’s pictures, the future
glory of Israel and were stimulated to activity commensurate
with the task in hand.

1. Who were the postexile prophets?
2. Who was the last pre_exile prophet, how long after he prophesied.
before these prophets came on the scene, and what prophets came in during the exilian period?
3. What was the historical situation in the time of these postexile
4. Who was Haggai, what was his problems and what, in general, the
date of his prophecies?
5. What was the general character of his prophecies?
6. Give an outline of Haggai showing the addresses and the date of
7. To whom was his first address directed primarily?
8. What excuse had the people offered for their failure, what was
the meaning of it, and what was this prophet’s reply?
9. What condition does he describe to them and what reason does
he assign for such condition?
10. What call does he then give to the people and what incentive
does he hold out to them to go forward?
11. What was the response to this appeal and what the result?
12. What was the subject of his second address and to whom was it
13. What contrast does the prophet here make, what the occasion for
it, what promise did he then give respecting the Temple and what the fulfilment of it?
14. What was the burden of the third address, what analogy does he
draw from the Law and what was his great lesson for the people?
15. What punishment cited and what blessing now promised?
16. What was the burden of the fourth address, what was the glorious
promise here and what was its fulfilment?
17. What two distinctively messianic prophecies in this book?
18. What quotations from this book in the New Testament and what
is its application there?
19. What great lessons of this book?


Zechariah 1_3

We take up now the book of Zechariah. The date is 520 B.C.,the same year in which Haggai uttered his prophecies to the leaders and people of Judah and Jerusalem urging them to
go on with the work of rebuilding the Temple. Zechanah
was a contemporary of Haggai, the two preaching at the same
time, with a similar message, and with the same purpose. They
make no reference to each other, but it is the usual thing for
prophets to apparently ignore the existence of any other
prophet. That is only apparent, however, for the prophecies
that we have recorded are supposed to record the messages
of God, and not to be taken up with references to any per_
sonal matters.
It was in the reign of Darius which began 521 B.C. Zechariah tells us in the first verse of his prophecy that it was in the eighth month of the second year of Darius. He says that he
was the son of Berechiah, the son of lddo, the prophet, and
styles himself „the prophet” as if he were well known as such.
He was the grandson of lddo. In Nehemiah 12:16, Zechariah
is referred to as the son of lddo, who was one of the heads of
the priestly families that returned from Babylon with the
first great company. So Zechariah was the grandson of a
priest and was, no doubt, a priest himself. In the records of
Ezra and Nehemiah, no mention is made of Berechiah. Prob_
ably he was an insignificant man, or perhaps died early, and
thus no mention is made of him in those larger genealogies.
Zechariah himself remembered his father, and also his grand_

father and thus connected himself with one of the priestly
families of Israel.
Now, let us consider the problem of the authorship of
Zechariah. The first eight chapters of Zechariah are a unit. No
one has ever denied that unity. The last six chapters of the
book of Zechariah are very different. In these there is no
allusion to the Temple, no reference to their feasts, to their
ritual, to their sacrifices, or ceremonials; no references to the
governor, or to the Persian Empire. The political situation
seems to be entirely changed. Other nations are mentioned
which had not been mentioned by Zechariah, which had not
been mentioned in fact, since the eighth century prophets
prophesied against them. These nations are Damascus, Had_
rach, a large city tributary to Damascus; Hamath, another
important city in that region; Assyria, which had long since
been dead as a nation; Egypt, still in existence and somewhat
prominent; Greece, which had been mentioned only once and
that in Joel, and which now comes to the front as the great
conquering nation of the world. There is no peace in these
chapters as in the first eight, but war, turmoil, strife, revolu_
tion, bloodshed, invasion, conquest, and struggle. Interspersed
with that, there are beautiful portions on the messianic peace,
the messianic glory that is to come, and there is also the picture
of a fearful judgment upon Jerusalem, when that city shall be
assaulted by the nations and shall be saved by Jehovah. All
this is entirely different from the first part of Zechariah, and
so different that there has been a great deal of controversy as
to the authorship.
I give now a brief history of the various theories in regard
to the authorship of these last six chapters.
In 1632, nearly three hundred years ago, an English Bishop
noticed in Zechariah 11:13, this statement: „And the Lord said
unto me, Cast it unto the potter, the goodly price that I was
prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and
cast them unto the potter in the house of the Lord.” Then he
noticed in Matthew 27:9 these words ascribed to Jeremiah:
„Then was fulfilled that which was spoken of by Jeremiah
the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver,
the price of him that was priced, whom certain of the children
of Israel did price; and they gave them for the potter’s field,
as the Lord appointed me.” On the supposition that this was
a quotation from the book of Jeremiah several English scholars
at the date ascribed these last six chapters to Jeremiah, the
prophet. That theory held sway for some time, and we readily
see that it would revolutionize many of our ideas and con_
ceptions regarding the book of Zechariah if it were put back
into the time of Jeremiah, and it would create a thousand
problems that would be difficult to solve.
Then again, some put it earlier than Jeremiah, before 720
B.C., while northern Israel was still in existence and Assyria
was on the horizon and Egypt yet powerful and Damascus a
strong state. Up to the year 1784 Jeremiah was regarded as
the probable author by a great many. Then it was noted there
was a man named Zechariah who lived in the time of Isaiah,
and many scholars following that date, ascribed it to this
Zechariah, a contemporary of Isaiah. Up to about twenty_five
years ago almost all scholars ascribed it to a pre_exilic date,
appearing at any period from the time of Isaiah to the time
of Jeremiah.
Since about 1880 radical critics have been at work, and it
has been ascribed almost unanimously by them to a post_
exilic date. Scholars have seen that the reference to Damascus
and Hadrach and Hamath and their destruction might be
ascribed to the conquest of Alexander the Great. For those
nations, once powerful, had become weak, but revived again,
and it is a historical fact that Alexander the Great really did
sweep through that part of western Asia and destroy those
cities and people. It was seen that Assyria and Egypt as
referred to here, were general terms for the enemies of Israel
north and south of Palestine. Assyria being her northern
enemy, and Egypt her southern enemy. Judah and Ephraim
which are referred to in this prophecy were used to represent
all Israel, the two tribes and the ten tribes as grouped. They
contend that the language is very late, but an argument from
language is rather precarious, as we cannot be sure that words
used in the sixth century B.C. were not used in the seventh and
eighth centuries B.C.
Many scholars put it about 516 B.C., at the time of the dedi_
cation of the second temple. Pusey, one of the greatest
English scholars and writers on the minor prophets, says that
it was written about 516 B.C. or shortly afterward and that it
gives us a vision of the conquests of Alexander the Great, the
wars and turmoils under his generals and the Ptolemies of
Egypt, the Maccabees, the Roman Empire, down to the time
of the crucifixion of Christ, and reaching on into the future to
the conversion of the Jews. Radical critics, however, make
it much later. They say it was written sometime during the
period of Alexander the Great; that some of it was written
probably in the Maccabean age, and many of them say that
these six chapters have two different authors, living at different
times. Cheyne, one of the great English critics, refers it to the
Maccabean period. George Adam Smith puts it later than the
time of Zechariah and the other prophets, but does not ascribe
any date.
A great many conservative and very able scholars have h6ld
and do still hold that it was written by Zechariah himself after
516 B.C., when the Temple was dedicated. It is a picture of the
Greeks upon the horizon of history, and that history arises be_
cause of their advance upon and their relation to Judah and
Israel. There are foresight and prediction, and the reason why
the radical critics put it in the Maccabean or Alexandrian
period is because of their theory which practically denies pre_
diction. Granting inspiration which gives predictive power,
there is no reason in the world why Zechariah should not have
written it subsequent to the dedication of the Temple.
This book is one of the longest of the minor prophets and
may be divided into two parts, chapters 1_8 having a distinct
reference to the work of the rebuilding of the Temple and the
establishment of the ritual and the ceremonial. The message
is one of encouragement to the people to proceed with the
building of their Temple. Chapters 9_14 are very different. The
political situation seems to be different, the historical circum_
stances seem to be changed, the horizon seems to have been
largely modified, the occasion seems to be entirely dissimilar,
the style and language are different, and so marked is the varia_
tion that this part of the book needs careful consideration. This
latter part, chapters 9_14, may be subdivided into chapters 9_
11 and chapters 12_14.
The following is a carefully wrought and exegetical analysis
of the book:
Introduction 1:1_6
I. The Visions (l:7to 6:8)
1. The horses under the myrtle trees (1:7_17)
2. The four horns and four artificers (1:18_21)
3. The man with the measuring line (2:1_13)
4. Joshua and Satan (3:1_10)
5. The candlestick and the olive trees (4:1_14)
6. The flying book (5:1_4)
7. The woman and the epha (5:5_11)
8. The four chariots (6:1_8)
II. The Memorial Crowns (6:9_15)
III. The True Fast (7_8)
I. The First Burden of Prophecy (9_11)
1. The coming king (9)
2. The great regathering (10:1 to 11:3)
3. The good shepherd rejected (11:4_14)
4. The foolish shepherd (11:15_17)
II. The Second Burden of Prophecy (12_14)
1. Jehovah’s protection of his people (12:1_9)
2. Repentance and conversion of many Jews (12:10 to
3. Scattering the sheep by smiting the shepherd (13:7_8)
4. Purification of the remnant (13:9)
5. Gathering of nations against Jerusalem (14:1_2)
6. Conversion of the Jews as a nation (14:3_15)
7. The Millennium (14:16_21)

The occasion for the utterance of chapters 1_8, as we have
already seen, was the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem,
and the apparent occasion for the utterance of chapters 9_14
was the future history and vicissitudes of the nation.
Taking up the prophecy more in detail, we have, first, the
introductory oracle, 1:1_6, which contains the title of the book,
the name of the author and his admonition against the evil
example of their fathers. It contains also the date of the
prophecy which occurs between the last two prophecies of
Haggai. Zechariah’s first prophecy was in the eighth month of
the second year of Darius.
Zechariah reviews their past history and uses that as a
warning and as a means of admonition. He says, in v. 2:
„Jehovah was sore displeased with your fathers.” Those who
had just returned from the exile knew well the meaning of this
statement, for many of them had suffered the terrors of that
yoke of bondage, a greater part of their own lives.
Zechariah’s message was, „Therefore say unto them, Thus
saith Jehovah of hosts: Return unto me, saith Jehovah of
hosts, and I will return unto you.” A further admonition in
the fourth verse, „Be ye not as your fathers.” Take warning
by their history. „Unto whom the former prophets,” the earlier
prophets whose names were familiar to them and whose writings probably were in their hands, „cried, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Return ye now from your evil ways, and from
your evil doings.” „But,” says Zechariah, „they did not hear,
nor hearken unto me, saith Jehovah.” He now raises a very
serious question: „Your fathers, where are they? and the
prophets, do they live for ever?” Zechariah reminds them that
their fathers are gone, and the prophets are gone.
There are two ways of looking back into the past. There is
that which looks back and longs for the same conditions, and
thinks if only they could live in „the good old times,” all would
be well. There is such a thing as an excessive reverence for the
past. Now Zechariah says, „Your fathers, where are they?”
He says, „But my words and my statutes, which I commanded
my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?”
Yes, and in spite of all the prophets said, and all they did, and
all that God warned, „they turned and said, Like as Jehovah
of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and ac_
cording to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.” Now, do bet_
ter than your fathers.
Now, we come to the visions which Zechariah saw for the
encouragement of the people. The first vision of encouragement
is the angel horsemen (7_17). Angels play a very important
part in Zechariah’s visions. In almost every one of his visions
angels are the speakers, the actors and the interpreters. They
are the messengers from Jehovah. In the book of Daniel angels
play a very important part also. That occurred some time
previous to these prophecies of Zechariah. All down through
the centuries they had been familiar with the idea of angels.
Every kingdom had its angel and every individual had hig
guardian angel. The Apocalyptic literature that followed the
close of the canon is filled with a great many teachings and
speculations, wise and otherwise, regarding angels. Zechariah’s
messages in visions all came by means of angels. The New
Testament is full of the teaching of angels and their mission a3
ministers of the heirs of salvation.
The date of the prophecy is the twenty_fourth day of the
eleventh month, Shebat, corresponding very nearly to our Feb_
ruary, in the same year, 520 B.C., the second year of the reign
of Darius. It came in a vision: „I saw in the night, and, be_
hold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the
myrtle_trees.” There are many myrtle trees in Palestine, and
many groves around Jerusalem. These myrtle trees are in „the
bottom,” that is, a shady place in some quiet valley. The angel
riders symbolized God’s messengers looking after conditions in
the whole earth; the myrtle grove symbolized the shadowy
condition of Israel, but there was encouragement in view of
national life promised here; the nations were all quiet. This
is a vision in the night, and behind the man on the red horse,
were other horses, red, sorrel, and white. This is the analogue
of those visions which John saw (see Revelation of the „Inter_
pretation”) . John saw a white horse, and a black horse, and a
red horse and a pale horse, though the black horse is not men_
tioned here. The other three mentioned by John are very much
like the three here described.
Naturally the prophet raises the question, „0, my Lord, what
are these?” The first angel says, „I will show thee what these
are.” And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered
and said, „These are they whom Jehovah hath sent to walk to
and fro throughout the earth.” In other words, these are Jeho_
vah’s scouts who go to and fro throughout the world, to ascer_
tain the condition of things and report. Now, what is the report
of these scouts of the Almighty? „They answered the angel of
Jehovah that stood among the myrtle_trees, and said, We have
walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the
earth sitteth still, and is at rest.” Now, what does this mean
but that they have searched throughout the world to discover
the political conditions, in order that they may ascertain
whether the situation is conducive to Israel’s going on with the
work of building the Temple. Is there danger of immediate
invasions, or of political upheavals? But they have found all
is at rest and quiet.
How could this possibly be, because the first few years of the reign of Darius were occupied in quelling insurrections in
almost every part of his empire, and how could the affairs be_
come settled and at peace during that period? There are two
possible explanations. One is, though there may have been in_
surrections and revolts throughout the empire, there was no
danger of their affecting Judah and Jerusalem. Or it may be
that Darius had just succeeded in bringing some of the insur_
rections and revolts to an end, therefore there was rest and
peace on the political horizon.
In verses 12_17 we have a dialogue between the prophet and
the angel, and this angel of Jehovah gives Zechariah a very
encouraging and comforting message to the people. The politi_
cal situation was all quiet. Now there comes the question:
„How long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the
cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these
three score and ten years? And Jehovah answered the angel that
talked with me with good words, even comfortable words.”
Then the angel that was answering, said to Zechariah, „Cry
thou, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: I am jealous for
Jerusalem and for Zion with great jealousy. And I am very
sore displeased with the nations that are at ease; for I was but
a little displeased and they helped forward the affliction. . . .
I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house shall be
built in it.” That is the message they wanted to hear. „Cry
ye again, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, My cities shall
yet be spread abroad.” Jerusalem is going to grow, the land is
going to be rich and prosperous, the Lord shall comfort Zion,
and shall yet save Jerusalem. This is the first message, and it
is a message of great encouragement, dealing with the political
condition which, of course, must be quiet and favorable or no
work could be done on the Temple.
The second vision is a vision of the destruction of Israel’s
adversaries (18_21). On the same night, apparently, he sees
in a vision, four horns. Here they evidently represented powers;
four, representing powers on all sides, power complete, one at
each point of the compass. “And I said unto the angel that
talked with me, What are these? And he answered me, These
are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jeru_
salem.” These are the nations, not four necessarily, as some
think, but the nations that have been sufficient to scatter Jeru_
salem from all sides. „And the Lord showed me four smiths,
then said, What come these to do? And he spake, saying,
These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no man did
lift up his head; but these are come to cast them down.” That
vision gave hope, the four horns representing all the power of
these oppressive nations, sawed off by these smiths, thus de_
stroyed and crushed.
The third is a vision of the measuring line (2:1_5). This
refers to the geographical limits of Jerusalem, as the other two
referred to the political conditions: „I lifted up mine eyes, and
saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand.”
The angel now does not anticipate the question of the prophet,
but he speaks himself, „Whither goest thou? And he said unto
me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof,
and what is the length thereof. And, behold, the angel that
talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet
him, and said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying,
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls.” Put
down your measuring line: Jerusalem is going to spread out,
and multitudes of men will be gathered into it. „I will be unto
her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the
midst of her.” The prophets before the exile had prophesied
that Jerusalem should be built again, should occupy the same
place, but the prophecy of Zechariah is a broader vision, the
greater Jerusalem that was to be, could not be walled in. This,
of course, does not have a literal fulfilment. It finds fulfilment
in all the history of Christianity and means that Christianity
will not be limited by measurement.
In verses 6_12 inclusive, we have a lyric poem appealing to
the people to return from their exile in Babylon and come back
to Judah, and Jerusalem. „Deliver thyself, 0 Zion, that dwell_
est with the daughters of Babylon. For thus saith the Lord of
hosts: After glory hath he sent me unto the nations which
spoiled you; for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his
eye,” showing his regard for his people. He was going to bring
a calamity upon these nations that had been spoiling them:
„For, behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall
be a spoil to those that served them; and ye shall know that
the Lord of hosts hath sent me.” Then he calls on them to sing
and rejoice: „0 daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and will dwell
in the midst of thee.”
We have here something like the second part of Isaiah, and
the phraseology is very much like that great prophecy: „Many
nations shall join themselves to Jehovah in that day, and shall
be my people,” which has fulfilment in the final conquests of
Christianity through the Jews. Just as the great prophets have
prophesied, so does Zechariah. „I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And Jehovah shall inherit Judah as his portion in the
holy land, and shall yet choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh,
before Jehovah; for he is waked up out of his holy habitation.”
He woke up when Babylon was destroyed, when he sent back
some fifty thousand of his people; he is awake now, and he calls
on Zechariah to give the message to the people to arouse them
to rebuilding the Temple. This call of Jehovah reminds us of
God’s call to his people to come out of the apostate church in
The fourth is a vision of the high priest and Satan, chapter 3.
Visions one and two dealt with the political situation, vision
three dealt with the geographical situation, and the fourth
vision deals with the moral and religious situation. The Lord
showed Zechariah, Joshua, the high priest, who returned with
Zerubbabel as one of the leaders, standing before the angel of
Jehovah. The angel of Jehovah is God’s representative of him_
self in the person and presence of his angelic being. Satan is
standing at Joshua’s right hand to be his adversary, a super_
natural being whose business it was to accuse the people of God. Thus we have Jehovah, Joshua, and Satan, a trio: Jehovah on behalf of his people, Joshua the representative of his people
from a religious standpoint, representing them in their moral
and religious relationship, and Satan, the accuser, the adver_
sary, the angelic being whose business it was to accuse God’s
people whenever he had an opportunity.
The accuser had sought to prove that Israel was forsaken,
and had incurred the displeasure of Almighty God. Now the
Lord speaks: „Jehovah rebuke thee) 0 Satan, yea, Jehovah
that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand
plucked out of the fire?” My people were in Babylon under
oppression, but by my providences I brought them forth out of
that oppression, and is not that sufficient proof that I am with
them and that they are my people? I plucked them as a brand
from the burning. Satan disappears and we hear nothing more
about him in the vision. But how about Joshua, the priest?
He is clothed in filthy garments, representing the religious con_
dition of those people with their Temple unbuilt and ceremonial
unkept. The angel of the vision answered and spake unto those
that stood before him, saying, „Take the filthy garments from
off him,” and when they had done that he said, „I have caused
thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with
rich apparel. And I said, Let them set a clean mitre upon his
head.” What did it mean? It meant that Jehovah was going
to be so gracious to Israel that she was going to have her Tem_
ple again and enjoy the blessings of Jehovah.
We conclude the study of the fourth vision, describing the
purified religious conditions (3:6_10). We have seen the im_
portance and place of Joshua in the new era that was about
to dawn; how that Joshua, as the representative of the people
was cleansed and made ready for the divine service and wor_
ship. In keeping with that new era upon which Joshua and the
people entered, we have the word of Jehovah unto Joshua giv_
ing him an earnest warning: „Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: If
thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge,
then thou also shalt judge my house, and shalt also keep my
courts, and I will give thee a place of access among these that
stand by.” This is what had been enjoined upon the priestly
families long before this, even from the days of Moses. They
were to be the teachers and judges and administrators of the
law, and if they kept that law and walked in his ways, they
maintained their high and honorable position in the nation.
They had forfeited that to a large extent, for, as we see, in the
prophets previous to the exile, they had almost failed.
It says further, „I will give thee a place of access among
these that stand by.” This passage presents some difficulties.
Who are „these”? Does it refer to the people, his brother
priests, the leaders and representatives of the nation? That is
one interpretation, but another one is, he shall have a place of
access, or a place in which to walk among God’s representatives, such as have been appearing in the prophet hitherto. This seems to be more in keeping with the dignity of the office here ascribed to Joshua.
Zechariah goes on with his admonition: „Hear now, 0 Josh_
ua, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee,” i. eä his brother
priests, subordinate, but officiating with him in the services
and the sacrifices being offered. What about these men with
thee? These men that sit before thee, they are men „which
are a sign,” a wonder. This refers to the typical significance of
their office. „For, behold,” he goes on, „I will bring forth my
servant the Branch.” This refers to the descendant of David,
the royal family, and the dynasty that was to sit upon the
throne of Israel forever, now represented by Zerubbabel, fore_
casting the Messiah, or Jesus ‘Christ. „For, behold, the stone
that I have set before Joshua; upon one stone are seven eyes;
behold, I will engrave the graving thereof.” What is the stone?
There have been a great many beautiful interpretations.
Some say that it was the headstone which completed the Tem_

ple building, and upon that stone were engraved seven eyes, as well as other engraving, beautifying and adorning it. Others
say it was the stone upon the breastplate of the high priest
and upon that stone were engraved the seven eyes. Others have
said that the stone which is set before Joshua represents the
Temple completed, and upon that Temple Jehovah was to set
his seven eyes, not to engrave the picture of the eyes on the
stone of the Temple, but Jehovah, with his perfect vision,
seven eyes, representing the perfection of sight and knowledge,
should set that perfect sight upon the Temple to watch over it,
that is, God should set upon it the perfection of his knowledge
and his care, and thus it would be protected.
But the stone here referred to is the hierarchy, or theocracy,
and is parallel to Daniel’s „little stone,” and the seven eyes
represent God’s perfect, watchful care for spiritual Israel. As
a result of it, he says, „I will remove the iniquity of that land
in one day.” This is a very gracious promise, referring to the
Atonement Day as typical of the sacrifice of Christ by which
sins were expiated.
Verse 10 gives a picture of the blessings and prosperity the
people shall enjoy in the period which is to follow, including the messianic age. „In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, shall ye
invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig
tree.” There is promised peace and prosperity in the world,
especially when the messianic age terminates in the millen_
nium as here foreshadowed.

1. What was the date and occasion of the prophecy of Zechariah?
2. Who was contemporary, how do you account for the fact that they make no reference to each other & who was Zechariah?
3. What objections have been urged against the unity of the book and what was the reply?
4. What was the general character of the book?
5. What was the occasion of each of the two great sections of the book, respectively, what was Zechariah’s first prophecy, and what was its relation to the whole book?
6. Give an exegetical analysis of Zechariah.
7. What was the date of this prophecy and how does it correlate with Haggai’s prophecy?
8. What history does he recite in the prophecy and what are the
lessons which he draws from it?
9. What was the date of the first vision, what was the vision itself, what means of communication here and what can you say of the teaching in both the Old Testament and the New Testament respecting angels?
10. What was the purpose of this vision, what was the meaning of its symbolism and what was the bearing on the work of building the Temple?
11. This is the analogue of what New Testament vision and what parallels in the two visions?
12. What was the dialogue between the angel and the prophet and what revelations here made to the prophet?
13. What was the second vision, what was the meaning of the symbolism and what encouragement to Jerusalem?
14. What was the third vision, ‘what was its purpose, who was the young man and what prophecy contained in this vision?
15. What was the character of the passage, 2:6_13, what appeal here and what similar one in Revelation?
16. What expression here indicates Jehovah’s regard for his people, what prophecy of this section, and what was its encouragement to the people of Jerusalem at this time?
17. What was the fourth vision, who were the representative characters, what does each represent, what symbolic action here described and what interpretation of it?
18. What charge did the angel here give Joshua, what promise did he give him, and who were the „fellows that sit before thee,” how are they „a sign”?
19. What messianic prophecy here, what the stone mentioned, what was the meaning of seven eyes, what was the meaning of removing „the iniquity of the land in one day” and to what period of ‘time does v. 10 refer?

Zechariah 4:1 to 8:23

The fifth vision of Zechariah gave the people encouragement regarding their spiritual condition. The others gave them encouragement from the political and geographical standpoint, but this has reference to the inner, spiritual condition. This vision is for Zerubbabel, the messianic representative, the heir to the throne of David. The prophet says that he was wakened as a man that is wakened out of his sleep. This vision comes on the same night as the others, and apparently the prophet had fallen asleep between the former visions and this one. The same angel that had spoken to him before is still with him, and he says, „What seest thou? And I said, I have seen, and, behold, a candlestick all of gold, with its bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are upon the top thereof.”
This is his description of the seven_branched candlestick.
There was a bowl above the candlestick probably in the center
holding a large amount of oil. The seven branches of the can_
dlestick spread on either side, and he says, „There are seven
pipes to each of the lamps.” Seven signifies perfection, and
therefore the supply will be never_failing, and all_sufficient to
keep those lights burning. Again, there are other means by
which this bowl is itself to be supplied with oil. Two olive
trees stand by it, one upon the right side of the bowl and the
other upon the left side. The olive trees furnished the oil which
was used for their lamps. Now the prophet does not understand
the vision and he asks the question, saying, „What are these,
my Lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and
said unto me, Knowest thou not what these are? And I said,
No, my Lord. Then he answered and spake unto me,” giving
a fuller description of the vision that had been presented to him,
and the latter part of verse 10 is a continuation of the de_
scription of the vision.
I read from verse 6, first part, and verse 10, latter part:
„Then he answered and spake unto me saying, . . . These are
the eyes of Jehovah,” the perfection of knowledge and over_
sight of God, „which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
Those seven lights thus represent the omnipresence and omnis_
cient activity of God. Verse II continues the description: „Then
answered I, and unto him, What are these two olive trees
upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side
thereof?” He does not answer at once, but the prophet asks
again the question, „and I answered the second time, and said
unto him, What are these two olive branches, which are beside
the two golden spouts that empty the golden oil out of them_
selves?” The olive branches acted as spouts for the olive trees
carrying the olive oil from the trees to the golden bowl at the
top, then through the seven pipes to each one of the lamps on
the candlestick. „And he answered me and said, Knowest thou
not what these things are? I said, No, my Lord. Then said he,
These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the
whole earth.” This refers to the two representatives of Jehovah
among the people of Israel, Joshua, the religious leader, and
Zerubbabel, the civil leader, one representing the regal and the
other the priestly function of the theocracy as found in the
hierarchy. These are the two olive trees which furnish the oil
to the burning lamps.
Now let us see the application as we find it in the latter part
of verse 6, to the first part of verse 10, bearing in mind this
picture before the prophet of the two olive trees. What does it
mean? „This is the word of Jehovah unto Zerubbabel.” This
was on behalf of the civil government, and it was through Ze_
rubbabel that this message should be fulfilled among the peo_
ple of Israel in the rebuilding of the Temple and the establish_
ment of the nation. It was to be by the power of the Spirit of
Jehovah, not by an army nor by fighting, not by mere strength
nor power of any kind, „but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah.”
That is a great text, which has had its application all through
the ages. Not by an army is this work to be done, Zerubbabel,
not by your strength and prowess, not by anything but the
Spirit of God, and this represents that operation: the two olive
trees supply the oil which runs to the lamps and which keeps
them burning. The process is unseen but its effects can be seen.
That is the message to Zerubbabel.
Now the encouragement is in these words (v. 7). „Who art
thou, 0 great mountain?” A great difficulty seemingly insur_
mountable was before Zerubbabel. „Before Zerubbabel thou
shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the top stone
with shoutings of Grace, grace, unto it.” The mountain shall
disappear, the difficulty shall vanish, because the mighty power
of the Spirit of God is going to be felt in the hearts and spirits
of men, and they are to come to thy help. The Temple shall
be completed and he shall bring forth the top stone „with
shoutings of Grace, grace unto it.” That was wonderfully en_
couraging to Zerubbabel, who must have been discouraged.
Now the promise comes with great force: „The hands of Ze_
rubbabel have laid the foundation of this house” (which was
done under the preaching of Haggai); „his hands shall also
finish it; and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent
me (the prophet Zechariah) unto you.” But there were some
that despised this small beginning, this almost contemptible
start of the building: „Who hath despised the day of small
things?” Many people have done it, but they are going to
change their minds; they are going to rejoice and be glad when
they shall see the plummet in the hands of Zerubbabel; when
the prince shall begin the work of erection of the Temple.
The sixth is the vision of the flying roll, or the curse re-moved (5:1_4). People, priests and leaders have been encour-aged. Now there comes a message saying that a certain class of people who are a nuisance and a trouble shall be removed out of their midst and they shall get rid of them once for all. This refers to the cleaning out of certain types of criminals among them. The prophet see” a roll, or scroll, flying in the air, and the angel speaks to him, „What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits and the breadth thereof ten cubits.” That was a large roll, or sheet of paper, twenty cubits by ten cubits, or fifteen by thirty feet, to see flying. „Then he said unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole land.” What was the curse to do? Every one that stealeth shall be cut off and every one that
sweareth shall be cut off. The roll represents the principle of
law to be administered by Israel; the flying roll means the active principle of law; the written roll, a published principle of law; in heaven means that the law and its penalty were from God.
The vision teaches that as Judah and Jerusalem were trou_
bled by these criminals, Jehovah would send a curse among
them and consume their families, their homes, and their houses,
extirpate them, and thus cleanse Jerusalem from such a trou_
blesome element. This was to be a great blessing to the people,
as it would be almost impossible for them to go forward with
such criminals in their midst.
The seventh is a vision of the woman in the barrel, or wick_
edness removed from the land (vv. 5_11). It is a vision where_
in God shows to Zechariah that the spirit and principle of sin
which seems to be engraved in the people’s natures would be
removed by the divine power from their midst. It is the pic_
ture of an ephah, a large measure about equal to our bushel
measure, really a barrel with a round top and cover to it. In
the barrel there is a woman sitting. This woman represents
wickedness: the principle of sin that is so prominent among
the people. The lid is upon it, and on the lid is a talent of lead,
a great weight. The woman is forced down into the barrel, the
lid is closed over it.
Two other women appear with wind in their wings, wings
like those of a stork, and they lift up the ephah between earth
and heaven. Then the prophet asks the question, „Whither do
these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build her an
house in the land of Shinar: and when it is prepared, she shall
be set there in her own place.” Shinar, or the Plain of Babylon
was the place where wickedness began, the plain where they
attempted to build a tower into heaven and were scattered
abroad; the plain which had been the means of Israel’s oppres_
sion. The idea is this: That sin must be removed, and it cannot
be removed by a ritual or by a legal punishment. It must be
removed by the action of the Almighty God himself. Human
hands cannot carry away the sins of the people. That is a di_
vine operation only and sin is represented here by a woman,
not because a woman is more sinful or worse than a man, but
because sin is so attractive. It must therefore be dealt with by
God himself and banished from the land. According to this
vision it is going to be done; evil is surely to be extirpated.
The eighth vision, or the chariots of the four winds, or spirits (6:1_8), is a vision of the universal providence of God; as the first vision was a vision of God’s providential scouts watching all that was upon the horizon of the world’s history, this is a vision of the universal providence of God visiting punishment upon the nations that have oppressed Israel. And in the first vision there were angels upon horses; here we have horses and chariots. He sees four chariots corresponding to the four points of the compass and representing the completeness of the operation of God’s providence. They came forth from between the mountains) and the mountains were mountains of brass. The mountains refer to Mount of Olives and Mount Moriah upon which Jerusalem was built. Brass represents the everlasting quality and strength of the mountains.
The first chariot had red horses attached to it, the second,
black horses, the third, white horses, and the fourth grizzled or
dappled horses. The brass mountains represent the invincible
nature of the theocracy; the different kinds of horses corre_
spond almost exactly to the four horses which John saw on
Patmos as recorded in Revelation 6. The white horse there
represents the gospel going forth in its conquests; the black
horse represents the scarcity of the gospel when it was in the
hands of certain ones who doled it out and starved the people;
the red horse represents the conflict that arose wherever the
gospel went; the grizzled or pale horse represents the persecu_
tions that follow in the wake of the gospel.
These four chariots here represent the four winds, and the
four winds represent the four great punishments or judgments
of God that are to break forth upon all parts of the world, the
analogue of what John sees in chapter 7, where he represents
the four angels as holding the four winds of the earth. Here
are four chariots representing the four winds or universal provi_
dence of God upon the nations (see Revelation of „The Inter_
pretation”) .
Now he sends them forth, the black horses and the white
horses go forth to Babylonia and the natives adjoining to in_
flict the punishments of Jehovah upon those people. The griz_
zled horses go south to Egypt to inflict punishment upon her,
because Israel had suffered at the hands of that nation also.
The red horses want to know where they are to go, and they
are told that they are to walk up and down, to and fro, through
the earth, that is, they are to pass up and down through the
land of Palestine and be the administrators of the divine provi_
dence in that region.
Then a question arises here concerning the mission of the
chariots with the black horses and the white horses, which go
toward the north. „Behold they that go toward the north coun_
try have quieted my spirit in the north country.” What does
that mean? It means that they have caused his anger and
wrath to rest upon those nations in the north which have op_
pressed Israel; that they are to inflict God’s severe punishment
upon those people in the north country, until they are extermi-
nated, and God’s spirit will rest because those enemies are
gone. In other words, it means that they have caused this prov_
idential visitation of God to come upon and abide upon that
north country. History bears us out in this, and from this time
on, Babylonia, Assyria, and Syria began to decay, and God’s
providential judgments have ever since then been upon these
The result of the visions was the crowning of Joshua, the
priest (9_15). Following these visions which have given en_
couragement to the people and the leaders, which have prom_
ised freedom from sin and iniquities, and which have given
them a vision of God’s universal providence on their behalf,
they are ready for the crowning of Joshua as joint_sovereign
and ruler with Zerubbabel, the son of David.
This is not a vision by the prophet, but a symbolic action
which the prophet himself performs. There appear before him
in the daylight, men who have come recently from Babylon
and the captivity, such as Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, who
have come into the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah, who
dwells in the city. They are to bring silver and gold, such as
they brought from Babylonia, and he is to make a crown, or
crowns. The crown was a wreath, or diadem, which would en_
circle the brow of the priest, and it may have been made of
two or three small wreaths, or rings, and put together would
form one crown. That is probably the explanation of the word
„crowns” mentioned here because there is only one man
crowned, Joshua, which would necessitate only one crown,
made of several small wreaths. Zerubbabel is ex officio entitled
to a crown, being the direct heir of the line of David. Now
Joshua is crowned.
Then comes the word regarding Zerubbabel: „Thus spake
the Lord of hosts, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch.”
Zerubbabel is the man mentioned in the fourth vision: „He
shall grow up out of his place”; he shall come out of his ob_
scurity and assert his royal dignity and power. The vision
predicts that he is going to rise up and build the Temple of
Jehovah, and, as it says in verse 13, „He shall bear the glory,
and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest
upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between
them both.” They now have two crowned rulers, prince and
priest. Zerubbabel is going to assert his place of power. Now,
with the religious leader crowned, and the civil leader roused,
the Temple is going to be built. Then these crowns that are
here made are going to be preserved in the Temple as a
memorial of those men who brought the silver and gold from Babylon, „And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of Jehovah your God.”
The larger fulfilment of this prophecy, the crowning of the
prince and the crowning of the priest comes into vision as we
look upon the one who represents both the priest and the prince.
He represented in himself the priestly and the kingly authority,
and he built the spiritual temple which shall abide to all eter-nity. Zechariah, however, is talking about building that Temple in Jerusalem, and his word has its application primarily to Joshua and Zerubbabel, but its larger application is to the priest-hood and kingship of Jesus Christ, the true Branch of the line of David. (For the typical significance of this crowning of Joshua see Revelation, chapter 6, of „The Interpretation.”)
Now we take up chapters 7_8, the theme of which is the true
fasts, and we find that these are dated some two years later,
in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius. There is an
interval of almost two years between those two prophecies.
The question arises, What was done in the meantime? Those
two years were occupied with the work of rebuilding the Tem_
ple under the inspiration of the preaching of Haggai and those
visions which Zechariah saw. Two years passed, probably of
strenuous labor, and by that time the Temple was half erected,
or more. Jt required about four years to complete it, and it was
in the sixth year of the reign of Darius, or 516 B.C., that it was
With the erection of the Temple there arose in the minds of
the people the question of the keeping of their ceremonial laws.
That gave rise to certain questions in the minds of some peo_
ple, and they came to Joshua and to the leaders in Jerusalem
with the question as to whether they should observe certain
facts that had been observed since the beginning of the exile,
about seventy years previous. This question on the part of
those inquirers, gave the prophet his opportunity, and he deals
with their problems, and by means of that inculcates the per_
formance of civic virtues and duties which they must soon re_
We observe in the second verse that a delegation came from
Bethel composed of Sharezer and Regem_melech and others,
to entreat the favor of Jehovah, and to speak unto the priests
of the house of Jehovah of hosts and to the prophets, probably
Zechariah, and Haggai, and possibly others of whom we know
nothing, and they came with a question regarding certain facts
which they had been observing. He does not say whether they
should observe the fast or not, but he proceeds upon broader
lines and principles. As much as to say, „God did not institute
that fast which you have been observing these seventy years
in the fifth month. It was not his requirement. You men of
Israel instituted the fast yourselves. It was in commemoration
of an event which Almighty God would have prevented if he
could have done so righteously. It is in commemoration of an
event which was because of your sins. He then throws back
the question to them: „When ye fasted in the fifth and seventh
month, did ye fast unto me?”
The fast in the seventh month was in commemoration of the
murder of Gedaliah, the Jewish governor who had been ap_
pointed by Nebuchadnezzar, governor over the last, small,
miserable semblance of national life, left after the fall of the
city. „Even these seventy years, when fasting on the fifth and
seventh month, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” Was
that God’s requirement: The answer is evident. No, your fast_
ing was not unto God. Ye did it not at his commandment.
Therefore, ye need not raise the question whether you should
continue it or not. But he goes on, „And when ye eat and when
ye drink, do not you eat for yourselves and drink for your_
The point here is: Do you eat and drink to the glory of God?
Then he makes an application of the historical episodes through
which they had passed and which had burned themselves into
the people’s memory. Rather than concern yourselves with this
fasting in these months, or with eating and drinking, or not eat_
ing and drinking, he says in verse 7, „Should ye not hear the
words which Jehovah hath cried by the former prophets, when
Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities there_
of round about her, and the South and the low lands were inhab-ited?” In other words, God sent his prophets; ye did not hearken to them, and therefore ye lost all; now learn by your history and give heed to the word of the former prophets. Then he branches out to discuss and inculcate civic righteousness instead of mere ceremonial fasting: „The word of Jehovah came unto Zechariah saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Speak, saying, Execute true judgment and show mercy and compassion to every man his brother.” Zechariah here says, „Take warning by the past, op-press not the widow nor the fatherless, the stranger nor the poor,” and penetrating right to the very heart of the people and to their very motives, he says, „Let none of you imagine evil against his brother in his heart.” In verse 11 he again refers to their past history and to the stubbornness of their forefathers; how they refused to hear; how they made their hearts as hard as adamant lest they should hear the law and the words of the former prophets. Because of that, great wrath came from Jehovah of hosts, so great that when they cried, God did not hear. He scattered them as a whirlwind among all nations whom they had not known. Because of that even the land was desolate and the pleasant land was laid waste. Here Zechariah was in line with Moses. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Jesus Christ, and Paul.
The Seed of Peace, or the Future Prophecy of Jerusalem,
is the theme of chapter 8. Here in this chapter we have ten
brief oracles, each one beginning with the same statement,
„Thus saith Jehovah of hosts,” and in these ten oracles he gives
a picture of the future peace and prosperity of the Temple
and the establishment of the nation upon its religious founda_
tion again. He commends their heavy labor in this work, and
on the supposition that they are going to heed his word, and
take warning by their past history, he proceeds to give them
this series of views of the glory that shall come to their city
and nation, as follows:
Oracle 1. A renewed assertion of God’s jealousy for them
(vv. 1_2). Like the true prophet, he begins with fundamentals.
He brings before their minds again the thought of God’s eter_
nal love and God’s eternal interest in those people. „I am
jealous for Zion with great jealousy.”
Oracle 2. Jehovah’s dwelling in Jerusalem, the city of truth
and righteousness (v. 3). „I am returned unto Zion and will
dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.” It means his continued
presence and therefore their assured blessing.
Oracle 3. There shall be the aged and the young in the city
(vv. 4_5). We can understand something of the meaning of
this prophecy) when we look at the character of the population
of Jerusalem. Many of the people returned from the exile, but
there were comparatively few aged men and women. They
had not been settled long in the land and there were compara_
tively few children, and Jerusalem had comparatively few in_
habitants anyway, and what is a city or community unless
there be the aged with their wisdom, their mellow and ripened
years, and what is a city or community without the playing,
prattling children in the streets? A community of middle_aged
men or women is not complete. All sides of human life are not
there represented. Now he says the time is coming when there
will be the aged, and there will be the boys and girls: there shall
be old men and old women in the streets of Jerusalem, and

every man with his staff in his hand for very age, and the streets
of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing therein.
Oracle 4. The marvel of their prosperity will be no marvel
to God (v. 6). „If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant
of these people in those days, should it also be marvelous in
mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.” There is nothing marvelous
with God.
Oracle 5. Jehovah brings back his people (vv. 7_8). „Thus
saith Jehovah of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the
east country and from the west country; and I will bring them,
and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and they shall
be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in right_
eousness.” This was partly fulfilled then, but finds its larger
fulfilment in Christianity.
Oracle 6. An exhortation to strengthen their hands (vv. 9_
13). Verse 9 is an admonition, „Let your hands be strong, ye
that hear in these days these words,” etc., which came by the
mouth of Haggai as well as Zechariah himself. The Temple, he
says, will be built, for that was the purpose of these prophecies.
Before these words of the prophets came there was no hire for
man, nor any hire for beast, neither was there any peace to
any that went in or out, because of the adversary. In verse 11
he gives the contrast: „Now I will not be unto the remnant of
this people as in the former days . . . There shall be the seed
of peace; the vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give
its increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will
cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. It
shall come to pass that, as ye were a curse among the nations
. . . so ye shall be a blessing.”
Oracle 7. Justice shall be their standard (vv. 14_17). He
gives the reasons why he had planned evil before. He plans
good now on this condition as given in verse 16: „Speak ye
every man the truth with his neighbour; execute the judgment.
of truth and peace in your gates; and let none of you devise
evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false
oath: for all these are things that I hate. saith Jehovah.”
Oracle 8. Fasts turned into feasts (18_19). The fast of the
fourth month was because Jerusalem was then taken by Nebu_
chadnezzar, of the fifth month because it was then burned; the
fast of the seventh month was because Gedaliah was then
slain, and the fast of the tenth month commemorated the
blockade of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar a year and a half
previous to its being taken. These four dire events in their
history had been celebrated by fasts during the exile and up
to this period of the return. „Now,” says the prophet, „this
has been changed; these fasts shall be to the house of Judah
joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts,” since the things that
caused these fasts had passed away. „Therefore,” he says, „love
truth and peace.”
Oracle 9. Peoples and nations shall come to Jehovah (20_22).
„There shall come peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities;
and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let
us go speedily to entreat the favor of Jehovah, and to seek Je_
hovah of hosts.” This was partly fulfilled then, but the larger
fulfilment is found in messianic times when all people shall
come to the true Israel of God.
A tender and delicate touch is given here. They will say, „I
will go also.” A very suggestive text. A mother and wife and
the family prepare to go to church, the father stays at home
and perhaps asks them to pray for him, but he doesn’t go. In a
revival where many are coming to the Lord the application of
this text can be made to the others. „I will go also.” That is
what they are going to say, Zechariah says.
Oracle 10. Ten men shall follow one Jew (v. 23). „Thus
saith Jehovah of hosts: In those days, it shall come to pass, that
ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations,
they shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying,
We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
It was fulfilled partially then; it was fulfilled more in the time
when Christ was upon earth; it was fulfilled when Paul the
great Jew brought the gospel to the heathen world, and if we
substitute a Christian here for a Jew, for a Christian is the real
descendant of the Jew, it is being fulfilled now. This figure
signified dependence and love, as a child clings to the parent;
so, it applies to the great fact that the religion of the world
comes through the Jews. This will have its larger fulfilment in
the millennium. QUESTIONS
1. What was Zechariah’s fifth vision, what was the meaning of the
symbolism, what the message of this vision, and to whom?
2. What was the promise of this message, and what was the meaning
and application of verse 10?
3. Is there a type of Christ in this vision? If so, what?
4. What was Zechariah’s sixth vision, what was the interpretation of
its symbolism, and what was the purpose of the vision?
5. What was the seventh vision of Zechariah, what was the interpretation of its symbolism, and what the encouragement here to God’s people?
6. What was Zechariah’s eighth vision, what was the meaning of its
symbolism, and where do we find in the New Testament the vision of which this is an analogue?
7. What great symbolic act follows these visions and what is the
interpretation of it?
8. What was the subject discussed in chapters 7 and 8, what was the date of this revelation, how long after the visions and what had occurred in the meantime?
9. How did this question arise, what was the meaning of the question, what was Jehovah’s reply, and what was the meaning of it?
10. What history does the prophet then recite to them and what was
its lesson?
11. What was the special theme of 8:12 and what ten oracles of this
chapter introduced by „Thus saith Jehovah”?
12. What was the meaning and application of Jehovah’s jealousy of v. 2?
13. What was the meaning and application of Jehovah’s dwelling in Jerusalem?
14. What was the meaning and application of the young and aged
in the city of Jerusalem (vv. 4_5) ?
15. What is the meaning of verse 6? 16. What is the meaning of 7_8?
17. What was the prophet’s exhortation and encouragement in verses 9_13?
18. What promise does he make to them and what requirements does
he make of them in verses 14_17?
19. Why were the fasts mentioned in versea 18_19 kept by the Jews in the captivity and what was the announcement here concerning them and why?
20. What was the promise of verses 20_22 and what the fulfilment of it?
21. What was the meaning and application of verse 23?

Zechariah 9:1 to 11:17

We take up now the second part of the book of Zechanah, the more difficult part of the prophecy. It has many parallels with the Revelation of John, and has a great many difficulties,
though perhaps, not as many as that book.
The date of these oracles is subsequent to 516 B.C., that is,
sometime subsequent to the dedication of the Temple. It
represents Zechariah’s inspired look into the far future. It
contains the pictures which Zechariah drew of the great prin_
ciples – political, spiritual, and religious – that were to operate
in the future history of his people, Israel. He looks at them
through the eye of the Jew, and from the Jewish standpoint, as
all prophets did, and pictured those events from materials
drawn from Jewish conceptions and Jewish life and ideals.
He looked into the centuries and saw the spiritual conflicts
which took place, and saw the final outcome, which was very
similar to the final outcome portrayed by the other great
prophets. As Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah had before
them the Assyrian invasion, and as Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and
Habakkuk, as well as Ezekiel, had upon the horizon of the
world the Babylon invasion, so Zechariah has before him the
Greek invasion and the great events which transpired in
the history of Israel as a result thereof. It was the rise of these
great powers which gave rise to the greatest of the prophecies
that we have reserved to us. It requires great occasions to
bring forth and develop great men, and when God brings great
occasions or great emergencies upon the world, he prepares
great men to meet them.
The principal ideas in these last six chapters of Zechanah,
are the invasion of the Greeks and the spread of Greek philos_
ophy, religion, literature, and civilization in western Asia.
There is a picture of the messianic King, presented as coming
like a king of peace, and as a shepherd to tend his sheep; a
picture of the preservation of the people of Israel, particularly
the preservation of the capital, Jerusalem) and the downfall
of their enemies; a picture also of the restoration of the exiled,
outcast and scattered people of Israel; a picture also of Israel’s
greatest crime, the tragedy of her history, also of the final
conversion of the Jews, of the consummation of all things and
the glorious and blessed millennial age. Zechariah has in view
the great principles that were fighting for supremacy in the
history of the centuries and shows their outcome
Now we take up chapter 9, the theme of which is The Com_
ing of a King. The destruction of the nations through the
advent of the Greeks is set forth in 9:1_7. These nations were
those immediately north of Israel, in what is known as Syria.
They were Damascus, Hadrach, Hamath) Tyre, Sidon, and
then all the victorious Greeks swept down the coast of Philis_
tia and its great cities. „The burden of the word of Jeho_
vah,” which means an oracle concerning their destruction, an
oracle which predicts a burden upon those nations, and means
that these nations were to suffer beneath that burden. „Upon
the land of Hadrach,” he says, „and Damascus, is this bur_
den placed, for there shall it abide and it has abode upon the
land of Hadrach ever since. „For the eye of man and of all
the tribes of Israel is toward Jehovah,” or „For to Jehovah is
the eye of man and all the tribes of Israel.”
The idea is that these events which he is going to mention,
are events ordered of God because he looks upon all those na_
tions, and upon the tribes of Israel also, who shall have an
important part in these events. „Hamath also which border_
eth thereon; Tyre and Sidon, because they are very wise.”
Ezekiel says that Tyre was very wise, worldly wise, very
shrewd, the most astute commercial people in the world at
that time. And he says, „Tyre did build herself a stronghold,

and heaped up silver as dust, and fine gold as mire of the
streets,” just as Solomon did in Jerusalem, as he gathered all
the wealth of the nations into Jerusalem to himself, so Tyre
gathered all the wealth she could gather from the nations unto
herself and it was concentrated there.
He says in regard to Tyre, „Jehovah will dispossess her and
will smite her power in the sea and she shall be devoured with
fire.” That was done in 331 B.C. when Alexander the Great
built a mole from the mainland across the strait to the
island on which Tyre was situated. Upon Tyre he vented all
his wrath: Two thousand of its best citizens were crucified,
and six to eight thousand more were butchered, multitudes
were sold into slavery, the city was burned with fire and ever
since it has been a desolation,
Alexander the Great swept down the coast to Philistia.
„Ashkelon,” one of the Philistine cities, „shall see it and fear,”
and well they might fear. „Gaza also shall see it, and be
sore pained, and Ekron, for her expectation shall be put to
shame; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon
shall not be inhabited.” Probably her expectation was Tyre
and Sidon, that they would form a bulwark or barrier against
the conquering Greeks. „And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod,
and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.” That was done,
for Alexander swept them almost into oblivion. „And I will
take away his blood out of his mouth,” that is, „I will stop
his eating of blood in his sacrifices and religious ceremonials,
and his abominations from between his teeth.” I will put a
stop to all that eating of abominable flesh in his religious
ceremonials. „And he alas shall be a servant for our God.”
There is hope for a few.
What about Jerusalem? Shall Jerusalem fall under Alex_
ander the Great? No, as verse 8 says, „I will encamp about
my house against the army, that none pass through or return;
and no oppressor shall pass through them any more; for now
have I seen with mine eyes.” And that is what happened.

Alexander the Great pa.ssed down the coast of the Mediter_
ranean, and according to Josephus was marching up to Jeru_
salem, when he met the high priest, Jadua, at the head of a
procession of priests; they met him in their white robes, showed
him the oracle, perhaps this very prophecy) which said he
should not take Jerusalem. Alexander bowed before him,
went into Jerusalem, offered sacrifice, and Jerusalem was
saved exactly as it says here. Whether Josephus’ story is
true or not, one thing is certain, he spared Jerusalem.
In verses 9_10 we have a prophecy of peace among the na_
tions by the advent of Israel’s king. Having thus predicted
the destruction of those nations and the safety of Jerusalem,
and having prepared the way for the king, he now paints his
immortal picture of the coming king: „Rejoice greatly, 0
daughter of Zion; shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy
king cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation; lowly
and riding upon an ass, even a colt the foal of an ass.” This
is a picture of a king coming in peace, a contrast to what he
had just been picturing. Now this is one of the passages that
have been literally fulfilled, and we know the story of how
Jesus sent his disciples to prepare the colt upon which he sat
and rode into Jerusalem amidst the acclamation of the multi_
What is the result of his entrance upon the city? Verse 10
says that he will put an end to all strife and war and bloodshed:
„I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,” the chariots which
they employed for war, „and the horse from Jerusalem,” which
Micah says was the cause of her sin and downfall, „and the
battle now shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace unto tha
nations; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from
the River to the ends of the earth.” That was not all liter_
ally fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem, but has its ful_
filment in all the history of Christianity. It is a picture of the
onward march of Jesus Christ, looked at from a standpoint of
a king of peace.
Next he sees the inevitable conflict between the religion of
the Jews and the religion of the Greeks (9:11_17). The his_
tory of the contact bewteen the Greek and Hebrew cults is
very voluminous and in every way full of interest. It may be
noted without present comment that certain Jewish books
attribute to a king of Sparta the curious statement based on
alleged records, that the Spartans, with the Jews, „are of the
stock of Abraham” (I Mac. 12:21). These Apocryphal books,
I and 2 Maccabees, recount with thrilling interest the heroic
struggles of the Jews against the Syrian subdivision of the
Greek Empire.
As above mentioned, Josephus has a marvelous account of
the march of Alexander, himself, against Jerusalem, and of the
supernatural reasons which constrained that world conqueror
not to forge his threatened vengeance against the Holy City,
but to confer great privileges upon the Jewish people. He also
tells us a stirring story of the continuation of Grecian favor
accorded by the Ptolemies who subsequently ruled over the
Egyptian part of Alexander’s divided empire, and particularly
of the translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language,
thus giving to the world a royal patronage more helpful than
that which later immortalized King James, the famous version
of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, from which Jesus
himself sometimes, and the New Testament writers more
frequently quote. Indeed, Alexandria, estalished by Alexander
himself at the mouth of the Nile, by the liberal policy toward
this hated people, became a second Jerusalem, which evidenced
for centuries in the religious and philosophical literature of
its Jewish residents the modifying influence of Greek culture.
The book of Daniel forecasts much concerning the rise,
extent, subdivisions, and influences of the coming Greek
Empire, and its relation to the kingdom of the Messiah. The
records of the New Testament are all preserved for us in the
Greek language. Jesus himself, somewhat, and his apostles
much more at a later date, came in personal contact with

Greek people. And the simplicity of the gospel which they
preached throughout the world, met, at every turn, the oppos_
ing forces of Greek culture, Greek philosophy and Greek
Some of the most noted of Paul’s apostolic labors, sufferings, conflicts and triumphs were in Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and other famous Greek cities, and very much of the argument and exhortation of his letters was called forth for the solution of practical problems of Christian life arising from Greek environment.
The second largest ecclesiastical organization of the pro_
fessing Christian world today is called the Greek Church –
whose religious primate is the patriarch of Constantinople and
whose secular head and champion is the Czar of all the Rus_
sias. There exists also today a galvanized Greek govern_
ment, kept upon its feet by the buttressing of foreign powers,
but in no way fulfilling the ideal for which Marcos Bozzaris
fought and Byron sang.
Far more significant than this weakling of a government –
rendered doubly ridiculous by its recent fiasco with Turkey,
is a widespread and menacing revival of ancient Greek philos_
ophy – wrongfully supposed to lie hopelessly dead in the graves
of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Demacritus. The tombs of the
heathen Greeks have been robbed – their philosophy exhumed
and rehabilitated – and now, like the soulless giant, Prome_
theus, that sprang from the brain of Godwin’s daughter, it
stalks in colossal strides across affrighted continents or like
Nebuchadnezzar’s huge and incongruous dream image, stands
an imposing titan in the path of the rolling stone of the Mes_
siah’s kingdom.
Following this comes an inquiry into the import of this
passage – for somewhere on historic ground must we find the
time, place, and need for divine intervention in stirring up
the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece in verse 13. From
some points in historical background must flash the light that

illumines this passage and reveals the fulfilment of this proph_
The difficulty here is not one of the exgesis but of interpre_
tation, the grammatical construction is simple, and every term
of the prophecy easily defined. The question is, What does
it mean? Are we to understand by „sons of Zion” Israel ac_
cording to the flesh, or spiritual Israel? Are „Sons of Greece”
limited to men of Greek nationality? Is the conflict to which
God purposes and promises to incite the one against the other
an ordinary war between nationsùa strife for tribute, terri_
tory, or conquest? Unquestionably, the grammatical con_
struction admits the natural and literal interpretation.
In such case, however, we must look far back into the past
to find fulfilment of the prophecyùfar beyond the birth of
Christ – for when Jesus came, the scepter had departed from
Greece, and Rome ruled the world. The literal interpretation
forces us back to a time when both Jews and Greeks had na_
tional existence and grounds of quarrel.
Therefore, to the question, When and by what events is
the prophecy fulfilled, most commentators promptly answer:
When the Maccabees waged heroic and triumphant war
against Antiochus Epiphanes and his successors, a thrilling
account of which struggle is recounted in Josephus and the
Apocryphal books of the Maccabees. But to my mind, the
objections to this limited and local interpretation are insurper_
able. Not merely because the course of Antiochus Epiphanes
was the one exception to the otherwise uniform kind treat_
ment of the Jews by Greek nations and is more than counter_
balanced by the course of Alexander himself and of the
Ptolemies – simply because the Maccabean war is an in_
significant and inconsequential climax to so great a prophecy –
nor even mainly because this war is manifestly irrelevant to
the messianic features of the prophecy – chiefly because
the context, separately in all its parts, and altogether as a
whole, absolutely forbids it, both as to time and events.
Let us look somewhat at this context. Immediately pre_
ceding the text, intimately and necessarily associated with it
ùindeed its only proper introduction, is this unquestioned
messianic prophecy: „Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion;
shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto
thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly and riding upon
an ass, even upon a colt and foal of an ass. And I will cut
off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace
unto the nations; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for thee, also,
because of the blood of thy covenant, I have set free thy pris_
oners from the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the strong_
hold, ye prisoners of hope; even to_day do I declare that I
will render double unto thee. For I have bent Judah for me,
I have filled the bow with Ephraim, and I will stir up thy sons,
0 Zion, against thy sons, 0 Greece, and will make thee as the
sword of a mighty man” (9:9_13).
This preceding context – on the face of it, and in every
particular excludes the literal interpretation under considera_
tion. It expressly cuts off the use of the carnal weapons em_
ployed in the Maccabean war – it proclaims peace and not war
to the opposing heathen – its captives are prisoners of hope to
be saved by the blood of the covenant – the dominion attained
is too wide to fit the territory redeemed by the Maccabean
victories. The inspiration of the New Testament expressly
interprets the coming of the king described in it to mean
Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (See Matt. 21:1_11).
The bending of Judah as a bow and the fitting of Ephraim
to it as a narrow, prior to the stirring up of the sons of Zion,
has no fulfilment in Maccabean times, but finds plausible in_
terpretation in the apostles who, except Judas that perished,
belonged to the tribe of Ephraim rather than of Judah – but
who proclaimed the word of the law from Jerusalem, when the
ascended Jesus, the great archer, shot them forth as arrows to

the ends of the earth. They were his spiritual children, „an
heritage of the Lord,” who became „as arrows in the hand of a
mighty man.”
As the preceding, so the succeeding but more remote context. It is all messianic. There we behold „the wounds in his hands received in the house of his friends.” There we see the „weighing out of the thirty pieces of silver as his price.” There we hear the divine apostrophe: „Awake, 0 Sword, against the
Shepherd,” and there we foresee „the pouring out on the house
of David and the city of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of
supplications and of mourning when they look on him whom
they had pierced,” and there the consequent „opening of a
fountain for sin and uncleanness in the city of David.”
Indeed, not one circumstance – not one detail of time nor
event in all the context can be applied without gross violence
to the times of Antiochus and the Maccabees. Moreover,
Zechariah must line up with Daniel when he also forecasts the
same messianic kingdom and its foes. In the great and lumi_
nous image of Nebuchadnezzar and in the four beasts of hi3
vision Daniel is made to see four successive world empires –
three of them naturally defunct in the beginning of fulfilment
– but all of them alive in their characteristic spirit and genius,
and all of them in this genius and spirit to be opposed and over_
turned by the universal kingdom set up by the God of heaven.
The Assyria – the Persia – the Greece – as well as the Rome
which Daniel saw, were to be equally alive at one and the same
time and constituted one colossal image of opposition to the
messianic kingdom.
When God stirs up the sons of Zion against the sons of
Greece, he does not array an ancient Jewish army against the
Macedonian phalanx, nor a modern Jewish army against the
lean, springing battalions of the poor little make_believe
government now at Athens cowering under Turkish sovereignty.
The question then recurs: What events fulfil this prophecy?
Is it merely a coincidence that just after John’s vivid
description of the fulfilment of the first part of this prophecy,
he strangely interjects the story of the coming of certain
Greeks to see Jesus and how Jesus more strangely replies:
„The hour has come, that the Son of man should be glorified
. . . now is the (crisis) of this world” (John 12:12_22)?
At any rate, Paul’s dispute at Athens with Epicurean and
Stoic philosophers was no mere coincidence. And, singularly
enough, the New Testament record of that conflict verbally
fulfilled the prophecy: „I will stir up thy sons, 0 Zion,” says
this passage, and „while Paul waited for them at Athens his
spirit was stirred in him,” says the New Testament record.
Under that stirring up of his spirit he smote the Grecian
philosophy which affirms the eternity of matter – which denied
immortality to man – which enthroned chance or fate – which
declares all existing forms to be the result of a fortuitous con_
course of atoms – which claims that the highest and most com_
plex of living organisms, including man, were evolved in long
processes of time from the lowest forms.
Let us re_examine the teaching of Epicurus as embodied
in Lucretius’ song, „De Rerum Nature,” or read that Epicurean
and Stoic composite by Democritus and ask ourselves, „What
essentially new and fundamental thought has been added in
our day to the ancient Grecian theory of evolution, by Darwin,
Haeckel, Huxley, Tyndall, or Spencer? And then let us note
how Paul, the son of Zion, when divinely stirred in spirit, smote
the whole business, hip and thigh, by that grandest of all
compound propositions, commencing, „God that made the
world and all things therein, seeing that he is the Lord of
heaven and earth.”
Here, indeed, was a coming controversy between the sons
of Zion and the sons of Greece, huge enough to cast its shadow
before upon the prophetic eye. Beside this heaven_covering
and earth_darkening cloud – the Maccabean war was merely
a minute speck in the sky of the future. That controversy with
Antiochua Epiphanes ended long ago and was soon swallowed
up from human sight by far grander and more momentous
events. But this Grecian war is still on, and this mightier
Antiochus, does now in moments of temporary victory set up
a „real abomination of desolation in the holy place.”
Paul again states the case as he found it in Corinth, another
Greek city: „For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of
the wise, and the prudence of the prudent will I reject. Where
is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of
this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the
world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through
its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through
the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Seeing
that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we
preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block and unto
Gentiles foolishness, but unto them that are called both Jews
and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the
weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor. 1:10_25).
Yes, even now, as of old, the Greeks seek after wisdom. By
their own wisdom they propose to solve all of life’s problems.
And now, as then, their wisdom leads to the same God_denying
and man_dishonoring conclusion: Man is only a developed
beast. He is soulless. Death ends him. There is no Godù
no judgment – no heaven – no hell. Pleasure is man’s chief
The Grecian philosophers at Athens mocked when Paul
spake of the resurrection. And they are right as to the chief
good if Paul is wrong. So he himself argued: „If the dead are
not raised, let us eat and drink, for to_morrow we die” (I Cor.
In the Christians of today we find the „Sons of Zion,” and in
modern evolutionists and materialists we find the „Sons of
Greece.” And now, as much as in Paul’s time, the sons of
Zion need to be stirred up against the sons of Greece.
In chapter 10 we have the true shepherd punishing all evil
shepherds and gathering together his flock. The true shepherd,
Jehovah, is spoken of first, and then the foreign rulers. The
word „shepherd” as used by Jeremiah and Ezekiel means the
political and religious leaders. Jehovah here calls attention to
himself as the true shepherd: „Ask ye of the Lord rain in the
time of the latter rain, even of Jehovah that maketh light_
nings ; and he will give them showers of rain, to every one grass
in the field.” But they will not ask Jehovah nor look to Jeho_
vah, because Greek philosophy, Greek religion, and Greek
civilization premeated the nation’s life and almost swept it
away into Greek thought and life and religion.
He had in mind, perhaps, the Greek religion that threatened
to sweep away Judaism. „For the teraphim [the household
gods] have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie;
and they have told false dreamsùthey comfort in vain: there_
fore they go their way like sheep.” Under these leaders, the
Hellenists, Egyptians, and others, they have been led astray,
as multitudes of the Jews did become corrupted. They were
afflicted because there was no shepherd, and they had no true
religious leader, and had not had for a long period. Now
Jehovah speaks against those shepherds: „Mine anger is
kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the he_goats.”
These were undershepherds having a charge of a certain num_
ber of goats or sheep, under a shepherd. So he speaks about
the political leaders and the religious leaders under them, „For
Jehovah of hosts hath visited his flock, the house of Judah, and
will make them as his goodly horse in the battle.” Judah shall
be safe, for „From him shall come the corner_stone, from him
the nail,” the sure peg in the wall that will hold the burden
upon it, „from him the bat+le bow; from him every ruler
together.” The leaders of Israel did come from Judah; for,
during one hundred years or more, God raised them up to be
the leaders of the shepherds of Israel and they saved the nation.
From verse 8 on he says, he is going to call all the scattered,
wandering people of the Jews home, and they are going to
find their land again: „1. will hiss for them, and gather them;
for I have redeemed them; and they shall increase as they have
increased. And I will sow them among the peoples; and they
shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with
their children, and shall return.” One would think he was
reading the prophecies of the three exile prophets, predicting
the return of the exiles form Babylonia. At this time there
were thousands upon thousands of Jews in Egypt, Babylonia,
Syria, Assyria, Asia Minor, and almost all the world. He says,
„I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and.
gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the
land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for
them.” In verse II we have a remarkable expression: „And he
will pass through the sea of affliction, and will smite the
waves in the sea, and all the depths of the Nile shall dry
up; and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the
sceptre of Egypt shall depart.” The figure of passing through
the sea is taken from passing through the Red Sea when Is_
rael escaped from Egypt, but God is going to make them
pass through the sea of affliction, and save them out of that
as he saved them in the sea of Egypt. The sea of affliction!
What a suggestive expression! „The depths of the Nile shall
dry up, the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the
sceptre of Egypt shall depart. And I will strengthen them
in Jehovah; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith
Jehovah.” All this finds fulfilment in the return of the Jews
just before the millennium.
In chapter 11 Zechariah goes back and takes a look at those
foreigners, especially those north of Judah, the tyrants that
were at Antioch: the Seleucidae, among whom were Deme_
trius, Antigonus, Antiochus Epiphanes, and others. In poetic
imagery he speaks about the destruction that was to come
upon them: „Open thy doors, 0 Lebanon, that the fire may
devour thy cedars. Wail, 0 fir_tree, for the cedar is fallen.”
The cedar was the greatest of all the forest trees, and if the
cedar goes down, the cypress may well be afraid. „Wail, 0 ye
oaks of Basilin, for the strong forest is come down.” This is
a terrible picture of the affliction that shall come upon the
nation by the Parthians and Romans who crushed them to
the earth. The effect is given in verse 3: „A voice of the wail_
ing of the shepherds! for their glory is destroyed: a voice of
the roaring of young lions! for the pride of the Jordan is laid
waste.” The fulfilment of that took place in those terrible
invasions of the Parthians and Romans who swept over that
part of the world and destroyed it.
Then comes the allegory of the shepherd and his flock, one
of the most important messianic prophecies of Zechariah. It
is the story of the shepherd sent to tend Israel, and the fate
he met with in his work. The shepherd is Jehovah, but the
view changes and at last it becomes Jesus himself. It is given
to us in the form of a monologue. It pictures to us the greatest
spiritual tragedy of Israel’s history. The tragedy of the ages
We have here a picture of the false shepherds devouring the
flock, the work and rejection of the good shepherd, the break_
ing of the two staves „Beauty” and „Bands” and the selling
of the good shepherd. Here is a remarkable expression, „The
flock of slaughter,” and yet it is true to their history. If we
read the history of Israel in the second and third centuries
before Christ and afterward, we see how that was literally
fulfilled, for they were as a flock of slaughter. Syria from
the north, Egypt from the south, internal strife among the
people themselves; there were war, turmoil, and bloodshed, and
death for two centuries.
It was the flock of slaughter indeed. „Whose possessors
slay them, and hold themselve not guilty; and they that sell
them say, Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich; and their own
shepherds pity them not.” The expression „they that sell,”
refers to selling them into slavery, which was carried on in
wholesale fashion during this period. The slave dealer says,
„Blessed be Jehovah, for I am rich.” That is how they treated
Israel, they thanked God that he had given them an opportu_
nity to rob them. „Their own shepherds pitty them not” – ie.
their own shepherds were not shepherds of tenderness, and the
people of Israel were not faithful to their Great Shepherd, for
here he portrays one of the most pitiable situations in the life of
Israel: she failed in fidelity to her religion. He says in verse 6,
„I will deliver the men every one into his neighbor’s hand, and
into the hand of his king; and they shall smite the land, and
out of their hand I will not deliver them.” For a century or
two he seemed to have left them almost to their enemies.
Then follows Jehovah performing his duty as a shepherd
through persons we know not, possibly the Maccabean family
or the Asmonean dynasty, who under God acted as the shep_
herd for the people of Israel for a hundred years. Jehovah is
above it all and he is the real shepherd. He thus pictures it:
„So I fed the flock of slaughter, verily the poor of the flock.
And I took unto me two staves,” as every shepherd in Pales_
tine had, one with a hook to control, and the other a club to
fight the enemies. „Thy rod and thy staff,” as the psalmist
„I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty and the
other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. . . . And I took my
staff, Beauty, a symbol of Jehovah’s grace toward Ephraim
and Judah, and cut it asunder, that I might break my cove_
nant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken
in that day; and thus the poor of the flock that gave heed unto
me knew that it was the word of Jehovah. And I said unto
them, If ye think good) give .me my hire. . . . 60 they weighed
for my hire thirty pieces of silver,” the price of a common
slave. That was a fine salary to pay a first class shepherd of
a nation for years! They gave Jehovah, the shepherd of
Israel, as his hire, only thirty pieces of silver. „And Jehovah
said unto me, Cast unto the potter the goodly price that I was
prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and
cast them unto the potter, in the house of Jehovah.” Accord_
ing to the Lord’s commandment, they were thrown unto the
potter. „Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands,” a
symbol of the love of Ephraim and Judah, „that I might break
the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.”
We note the order here: Bands, the brotherhood, cannot be
broken till Beauty, the grace of God, has first been broken.

Brotherhood is truly based open grace. The fulfilment of this
passage was literal. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of
silver, and when he flung it down at their feet after seeing
what he had done, they would not receive it, but used it to
buy a potter’s field. The symbolic action here is impressive.
The breaking of these staves symoblized the withdrawal of
God’s grace from and the disunion of Judah and Israel because
of their rejection of the shepherd. They are left to confusion
and capture by the Romans, which took place in A.D. 70.
Here arises a question of textual criticism. How harmonize
Matthew 27:9 with Zechariah 11:12_13? To this question
there are four possible answers, either of which satisfies the
conditions. These are as follows: (1) The copyist by error
changed Zechariah to Jeremiah; (2) Matthew did not give
the name of the prophet but the copyist wrote it in the margin
of the manuscript and from that it thus crept into the text of
Matthew’s Gospel; (3) Jeremiah was at the head of the pro_
phetic list with the Jews, and the word „Jeremiah” refers to a
collection of Old Testament prophecies including Zechariah;
(4) Jeremiah discusses the potter’s field (19:1_9); Zechariah
discusses the price of the field, and Matthew runs the two to_
gether, mentioning the first author only, but not discussing
anything said by the second. This is my own personal view.
In 11:15_17 we have symbolic action of the foolish shepherd
prescribed for the prophet. Because of this rejection of the
good shepherd Jehovah says, „Take unto thee yet the in_
struments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise up a
shepherd in the land, who will not visit those that are cut off,
neither will seek those that are scattered, nor heal that which
is broken, nor feed that which is sound; but he will eat the
flesh of the fat sheer), and will tear their hoofs in pieces,” as a
beast devours even to the hoof. Such was the fate of Israel
under such a shepherd when they cast off the true shepherd,
and it came true, for Rome did that very thing to her. But
the curse that goes against this false shepherd is added, verse
17: „Woe unto the worthless shepherd that leaveth the flock!
the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his
arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly
darkened.” The Lord may give an evil shepherd, but woe to
the shepherd that is thus evil. So Rome in turn received her
just recompense of reward.

1. What was the problem with reference to Zechariah, chapters 9_14,
who was the author and what was the date of this prophecy?
2. In general, what was the principal predictions in these last six
chapters of Zechariah?
3. What were the predictions of 9:1_7 and what of their fulfilment?
4. What special prophecy of 9:8 and what of its fulfilment?
5. What was the vision of 9:10 and what of its fulfilment?
6. What prophecies of 9:11_17, what covenant referred to, what is
the meaning of „render double unto thee,” and what is the meaning of bending Judah as a bow and filling the bow with Ephraim?
7. What of the stirring up of the Sons of Zion against the sons of
Greece and what were the far_reaching results which followed?
8. How is chapter 10 introduced and what was the contrast of verses
I and 2?
9. Who were the shepherds referred to in verse 3, what the prediction
concerning Judah and Ephraim, and where do we find the fulfilment?
10. What was the prophecy of verses 8_12 and what the fulfilment?
11. What the apostrophes of 9:1_3 and what is the application of this
paragraph ?
12. Describe the scenes of verses 4_14, who was the shepherd here,
what was the shepherd’s two staves and what was their meaning?
13. What was the symbolic act of the shepherd and what was the far_
reaching meaning and fulfilment?
14. How do you harmonize Matthew 27:9 with Zechariah 11:12_137
15. What was the symbolic action prescribed for the prophet in 11:15_
17 and what was the application?

Zechariah 12_14

This chapter concludes our study of the prophet, Zechariah.
This includes the later part of the second division of the
prophecy. The last six chapters of Zechariah seem to give a
forecast of the history of Israel from the time of the prophet’s
writing down to the end of the nation’s history, just as in the
book of Revelation we interpret the seven seals, the seven
trumpets, etc., as a forecast of the history of the church to the
second advent.
We have had the vision of the shepherd who was to feed the
flock of slaughter, who found the flock disloyal, unfaithful, and
unappreciative, and who broke the staff, dissolving the union
between the two, signifying that this office as shepherd was
ended; how that a worldly shepherd was appointed over them,
and then followed a brief history of the tragedy of Israel’s his_
tory, when they smote ther shepherd and put him to death.
In this chapter we take up the consummation of it all, the
last, final struggle, and the ushering in of the messianic age
as found in chapter 14.
In 12:1_9 we have the salvation of Jerusalem, the spiritual
history of the people, their inner life, national and religious,
pictured as the life of their capital, Jerusalem. The clue to it
we find in the later part of verse I, where he speaks of Jehovah
as the One that forms the spirit of man within him, and this
section gives the details as to how Jehovah formed the spirit
of Israel, the true kernel of the nation, the center of the na_
tional life. We have here Jerusalem represented as the center
of Israelitish life, the capital of the nation, besieged by all
nations, God protecting her against them and making her the
„cup of reeling” and the „burdensome stone” and the „pan of
fire” unto all the peoples round about. He says, „I will make
Jerusalem a cup of reeling, or a bowl filled with wine of which
the nations shall drink, and it shall make them drunk and they
shall reel and stagger.”
That perhaps refers to the commotion that was created
among the nations previous to the Maccabean age, and after_
ward, when all the nations that apparently could come in
contact with Judah and Jerusalem seemed to be possessed with
a passion to destroy her. The anti_Judaistic feeling, or anti_
Semitic feeling, was very prominent through those centuries,
and the larger fulfilment of this prophecy is the hate of Juda_
ism which has run through all the centuries since. The Jews
have been a cup of reeling to all the peoples that have come in
contact with them. He says here, „Upon Judah also shall it
be in the siege against Jerusalem.” All is now concerned about
Jerusalem and Judah, the tribe in whose territory Jerusalem
is situated.
Again he says, „I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone
for all the peoples, and all that burden themselves with it shall
be sore wounded.” This may refer to the fact that near many
cities in the east, it was the custom to have a stone where all
the young men could try their strength in lifting it. Or it may
refer to a great boulder in the ground to be raised up out of its
position and cast away, and as they dig about the stone and
lift it up, the only thing they accomplish is to bruise and tear
their own hands. The stone is fixed and immovable. The latter
is the more probable interpretation. Anyhow, it means that all
through the centuries Jerusalem has been a fixed, established
fact. God put Jerusalem there and intended that no nation
would move the center of his people; that they could not move
Jerusalem. They fought round about it and for it and against
it for a century or two, but it remained. And he says, „All the
nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it.”
Verse 4 shows what Jehovah is going to do upon all the ene_
mies that come against Jerusalem: „I will smite every horse
with terror, and his rider with madness; and I will open mine
eyes upon the house of Judah.” His eye is upon Judah for a
special purpose. Verse 5 gives the result: „The chieftains of
Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem
are my strength in Jehovah of hosts their God.” Jerusalem
was in Judah, the capital of Judah, and the chieftains of Judah
now wake up to the fact that their strength and stability and
hope are centered in Jerusalem, their capital, and when they
realize that, they fight bravely for their city, and the result is
that all the nations are defeated.
Verse 6 says, „I will make the chieftains of Judah like a pan
of fire among wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves.” The
fulfilment of that may be found in the fact that when the Mac_
cabean heroes rose to fight down Hellenism, thousands of the
Jews saw that their national life was at stake if they did not
fight for their religion and their country, and rallied around the
banner of the Maccabeans, and thus their enemies time and
again were overthrown, though there may be a larger fulfil_
ment later on.
In verse 7 he says, „Jehovah also shall save the tents of Ju_
dah first, that the glory . . . of the inhabitants of Jerusalem be
not magnified above Judah.” In other words, God was going to
so deal with them that the people of Jerusalem would have no
occasion to feel that they were above the people of the country.
Then those inhabitants of Jerusalem and of Judah shall be
revived in their national life and spirit. God will put the spirit
of the hero in them. „In that day shall Jehovah defend the
inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at
that day shall be as David,” the hero warrior, who, when a boy
faced the lion and the bear, and when but a youth, a giant;
„and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of God,”
or as a supernatural being, having superhuman powers. That
hath a fulfilment in the house of David represented by Jesus
Christ, as God or as the angel of God, and his disciples who
were as heroic as David. Verse 9 refers to the fact that Jeho_
vah has made it hard for all nations that have oppressed the
Jews, and in a large measure this has been fulfilled, because
those nations have suffered. „In that day” here refers to what_
ever day was referred to in the several prophecies of the pas_
sage, reaching down to the time of Christ and his apostles.
In 12:10_14 we have the conversion of the Jews. This is a
remarkable passage, one of the author’s favorite passages, a
vision of the conversion of the people of Judah and Jerusalem
after this great conflict is over. It is a picture of their spiritual
life, the life of the spirit of the nation from its religious stand_
point. Now look at the promise: „I will pour upon the house
of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of
grace and of supplication.” „Grace” refers to those qualities
of the spirit that adorn the person when God’s spirit is given.
Coupled with that is the spirit of supplication, „And they shall
look unto me whom they have pierced.” We have no reference
to one pierced by them excepting as suggested in 13:7_9 and
that is presupposed in this statement. They had pierced their
own shepherd, the representative of God, and now he pictures
the time coming when they shall look unto him. God is speak_
ing: „Whom they have pierced,” the one whom they have
wounded, the one against whom they had poured out their bit_
terest hatred. This is going to be a great conversion of the Jew_
ish nation.
This prophecy has a fulfilment in the events of Pentecost and following, but the greatest fulfilment is to follow in the con_
version of the Jews as a nation. At that time there will be a
bitter mourning, a great mourning; they shall mourn as one
mourns for his only son; the Jews could appreciate what that
meant better than we can – the only one left to bear his name,
the only one to keep that name alive in Israel. It shall be as
when they mourned for Josiah, who was slain by Pharaoh_
necoh in the valley of Megiddon when they mourned at Hadad_
rimmon, a little village just a few miles from the scene of battle.
There will be national mourning and a family mourning, for
the land shall mourn every family apart. Then he mentions
certain families to indicate how completely that is going to be
carried out. The family of David, the royal family, then the
family of Nathan, one of the sons of David, brother of Solo_
mon, an obscure member of the royal family, which indicates
all members of the royal family, the men in one part, the wives
in another, men and women separately. The family of the
house of Shirnei, one of the little or obscure families of the
tribe of Levi, to indicate how that every family shall mourn:
families mourning, men mourning alone, women mourning
alone. This was fulfilled when they looked upon the cross;
there many of the people looked upon him whom they pierced,
as John says quoting this passage of Zechariah as being literal_
ly fulfilled.
It was fulfilled in the larger sense when at Pentecost three
thousand men and more, pricked in their hearts, said, „Men
and brethren, what shall we do? We have killed our Mes_
siah!” And in a few weeks thousands, more looked unto him
whom they had pierced. For decades afterward many more
and through the centuries there have been a few. More and
more the Jews are coming to this point when they will look
unto him whom they pierced, and there is no .grief more poig_
nant, more penetrating to the human heart than the grief of a
loyal Jew who realizes that his nation killed their Messiah.
God will pour out his spirit upon the nation and all the nation
shall look unto him whom they have pierced, mourning as for
an only son.
In 13:1_6 we have the cleansing of the people as the result
of the mourning and supplication above described. The foun_
tain opened for sin and uncleanness was opened for the house
of David, the royal family who needed cleansing, needed it as
well as the people, showing that he has not in mind the Mes_
siah, for the Messiah did not need cleansing. It is also to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, and it is for sin and uncleanness. It
is a picture of a fountain flowing to cleanse, something like
Ezekiel’s picture where he says, „I will sprinkle clean water
upon you, and cleanse you from your sins,” and David’s
„Purge me with hissop and I shall be clean.” Upon this pas_
sage is based our song:
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
That is the fulfilment of it for the house of David and the in_
habitants of Jerusalem. Of course it applied to them first, but
it is not confined to them in its application. Then he shows
how idols, prophets, and unclean spirits shall be cut off: „I will
cut off the names of the idols out of the land and they shall no
more be remembered.” That was partly true in the refining of
Judaism that followed the Maccabean age, but it receives ita
fulfilment only in Christianity, the daughter of Judaism, for
it is only where Christianity goes that the idols are cut off
and are not remembered. Not only the idols are cut off, but
the unclean spirits pass out of the land. This again has its ful_
filment where the gospel goes, for it is only where Christianity
flourishes that these unclean spirits are put out.
Then the prophets are to be cut off also. Prophecy is going
to be so discredited that there will be no more of it permitted.
He says here that when anyone shall prophesy, then his father
and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, „Thou shalt
not live”; we are not going to have any preacher in our family,
and in order to get him out of the way they thrust him through,
saying, „Thou speakest lies in the name of Jehovah.” Now
this cannot refer to the true prophet and preacher, but to every
kind and species of false prophets.
It refers to all kinds of sorcerers, diviners, especially fakirs.
And if there shall be one of those that escape, he shall be
ashamed of his vision when he prophesies. They are not going
to wear a hairy garment to deceive, trying to make themselves
look like Elijah, and make people believe they are real proph_
ets as Elijah was. It will be a good thing when preachers cast
off all their ecclesiastical „toggery.” He shall say, „I am no
prophet, I am a tiller of the ground; for I have been made a
bondman from my youth. And one will say, How do you ac_
count for those wounds?” Then he shall answer, „These are
the wounds I received in the house of my friends.”
It is difficult to understand exactly the meaning of this pas_
sage. Apparently, this is an excuse on the part of the prophet,
who has been caught and he seeks to evade the consequences.
He was wounded in the house of his friends. They put those
marks upon him. So then these constitute no reason for con_
demning him. That is one idea. A great many apply this to
Christ himself. When he shall appear and the Jews, his own
people, shall ask him, „Whence those wounds between your
hands?” Then he shall say, „These are the wounds I received
in the house of my friends,” i.e., among you Jews. That is the
larger fulfilment, but the immediate application of it seems to
be to the wretched fakers that had no business to preach. There
are many of them yet in the East with marks upon their hands
to signify their profession.
In 13:7_9 we have the smiting of the Shepherd. This is the
climax of the nation’s tragedy. The putting of its shepherd to
death. The fulfilment of this is in Jesus Christ who was smit_
ten and his little flock scattered. The larger fulfilment is in the
fact that the sheep put to death their Christ, and have been
scattered ever since. „Awake,_0 sword,” says Jehovah, „against
my shepherd and against the man that is my fellow.” In Geth_
semane we see the application of this. Although his only be_
loved and only begotten Son prayed until the sweat broke forth
from his brow, that the sword might pass, God says, „Awake,
0 sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my
fellow.” The sword must descend, the shepherd must be smit_
ten. It was then that he turned his hand upon „his little ones”
the humble and meek, and as a result two parts of the people
were to be cut off, two_thirds of the nation destroyed, and it
was so in the intervals following Jesus’ death and the destruc_
tion of Jerusalem. „And I will bring the third part (and he
did bring a great multitude of the Jews) into the fire, and will
refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is
tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will
say, It is my people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.”
The fulfilment of that occurred in the history of the Jews after
the crucifixion.
We have the final assault upon and deliverance of Jerusalem
in 14:1_8. This brings us to the last chapter and the consum_
mation, the final act in the great drama as pictured by this
prophet, Zechariah: „Behold, a day of Jehovah cometh.” There
have been many days of Jehovah) when he smote nations and
peoples, when he overturned things upon earth, but there is to
come a greater day, a day when Jehovah shall manifest his
judgments in power. The first result of this day will be the
strange fact that Jerusalem shall be captured. Jerusalem the
center, the nation’s very life core shall be captured. „Thy
spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee, and I will gather
all nations against Jerusalem to battle; the city shall be taken,
the houses rifled, and the women ravished,” as was customary
in the capture and sack of a city. „And half of the city shall
go into captivity and the residue of the people shall not be cut
off from the city.”
Now, what is going to happen when this terrible fate over_
takes the city? „Then shall Jehovah go forth and fight against
those nations as when he fought in the day of battle.” Although
Jerusalem shall be captured and half her people sold into slave_
ry, yet Jehovah will then appear at the crisis to save the city.
„His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives,”
which is before Jerusalem on the east and towers between two
and three hundred feet higher than Mount Moriah, or Zion,
upon which Jerusalem was situated. „And the Mount of Olives
shall be cleft in the midst toward the east and toward the
west, and there shall be a very great valley and half of the
mountain shall be removed toward the north and half of it
toward the south,” that is, there shall be a great supernatural
manifestation of God’s power to make a way of escape for the
people from their city. This has never been literally fulfilled,
and never will be. The idea is that when the crisis comes upon
God’s people, he will make a way of escape, and thus he pic_
tures the way of escape as a cleaving of the mount, separating
it and opening a valley for the people to flee. „Ye shall flee by
the valley of the mountains, for the valley of the mountains
shall reach unto Azel.” We don’t know just where Azel was,
some little place east of Jerusalem. „And ye shall flee like as
ye fled from before the earthquakes in the days of Uzziah king
of Judah,” which event Amos refers to and which followed
just two years after he began his preaching. „And Jehovah my
God will come and all the holy ones with thee,” and that period
for a short time shall be a day of gloom. „It shall come to pass
in that day that the earth shall not be light; the bright ones,
the sun, the moon, and the stars shall withdraw themselves.”
„It shall be one day which is known unto Jehovah, not day,
not night,” twilight gloom, murk, half_night, and half_day, but
it shall come to pass that at eventide as the day draws to an
end, a new day will dawn and there will be light at eventide.
This prophecy is yet unfulfilled. The time forecast here is the
final gathering of the nations against the Jews, gathered back
into their land, just before the millennium. This is the great
battle of Jehoshaphat in the plain of Esdraelon, where Jehovah
intervenes and saves the Jews from a shameful defeat. It is a
great spiritual conflict under the symbol of war. Here the veil
falls from their eyes and they behold the Christ as their
Saviour. The nation is converted, as it were, in a day and the
millennium is here ushered in. (See Revelation of „The Inter_
In 14:9_11 we have the prophetic picture of the kingdom of
Jehovah, king over all the earth, which is in exact accordance
with the visions drawn by Isaiah, Micah, Ezekiel, and Jere_
miah. „Jehovah shall be one and his name one,” that is, there
is to be the one God, with one name. „And the land shall be
made like the Arabah,” the valley of the Jordan, which was so
attractive to Lot that he chose it for his cattle and flocks. The
land is going to be made like that valley from Geba, a little
place north of Jerusalem, to Rimmon on the south, away down
in the land of Simeon, we do not know exactly where. Then he
goes on with his description of this city, how it is to be built,
its dimensions and its various gates, „And there shall be no
more curses but Jerusalem shall dwell safely.” All this will be
fulfilled in the millennium.
Next comes the plagues upon her enemies (12_15). The na_
tions that war against Jerusalem shall be utterly destroyed; he
gives a picture of the plagues that shall fall upon these nations.
„Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their
feet, their eyes shall consume away in their sockets, and their
tongue shall consume away in their mouth. . . . They shall turn
one against another. There shall be a great tumult from Je_
hovah among them, and they shall lay hold everyone on the
hand of his neighbor, and they shall rise up against his neigh_
bor, and Judah shall fight at Jerusalem.” In spite of that, all
the wealth of the nations round about shall be gathered to_
gether, gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance. After_
ward in spite of all the enemies the Jews shall have the wealth,
privileges, power, influence of the world. This will be ful_
filled in the destruction of the enemies of the Jews before the
millennium at which time the Jews .will be converted.
The remaining nations shall keep the Feast of Tabernacles
at Jerusalem. The remaining nations means those who have not
warred against Jerusalem, but have assumed either a friendly
or a neutral attitude. This is the millennial age, this is the time
pictured by Isaiah and Micah and the others, when all the
nations shall be Jews, and they are to come up and worship the
King, Jehovah of hosts, and keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
Now if this is to be literally fulfilled, then all the nations of
the world shall have to become Jews and go up to Jerusalem
and keep the Feast of Tabernacles in October. Can we imagine
that our Christianity shall have such a setback as that; that
we shall all have to revert back to Judaism? This is a picture
of the nations converted to the God of Israel expressed in the
terms of Judaism. But if any of these nations will not keep
the Feast of Tabernacles, they are to have no rain upon them,
and Egypt, which is independent of rain because of the over_
flow of the Nile, is not forgotten by the prophet, but is men_
tioned as liable to punishment, though he doesn’t say what
punishment that is. This is the prophet’s picture of the con_
version of the Gentile nations to Judaism, and when we enlarge
Judaism into Christianity and picture the conversion of the
nations to Christianity, which is the real fulfilment of this, we
have the larger fulfilment.
And lastly, Jerusalem shall be holy. „The bells upon the
horses shall be holy to Jehovah. And the pots before Jehovah’s
house shall be like the bowls before the altar.” All this means
there are to be so many people, and they are all to observe the
sacrifices and feasts, and they must make every pot in Jeru_
salem as large as one of those great basins in the Temple. And
more than that every one of those pots in Jerusalem and Judah
shall be holy unto Jehovah. This is the Judaistic and ceremoni_
al idea of holiness. And they that sacrifice shall come and take
of them and boil therein. Ezekiel had kitchens in his picture
of the Temple for boiling the sacrifices. Zechariah says that
there are going to be great holy pots, and they are, to boil in
them. „In that day there shall be no more a Canaanite,” that
is, there shall be no more heathen, the foreigner, and unclean
person, and unworthy person in Jerusalem and in Judah. „All
shall be clean,” which is in exact accordance with Revelation
21:27. where John says. „There shall in no wise enter into it
anything that defileth, or maketh an abomination or a lie.”
„Blessed are they that have washed their robes, that they may
have the right to come to the tree of life and enter into the gates
of the city.” John’s picture is richer and larger and fuller than
Zechariah’s but in substance they are the same.

1. What is the prophetic picture of 12:1_9 and what is the fulfilment
of it?
2. What is meant by the „cup of reeling,” „the burdensome stone,
„the pan of fire,” and what is the day referred to in the expression, „in that day”?
3. What is the prophetic picture of 12:10_14 and what is its fulfilment?
4. What illustration in verse II, and what is the significance of the
families mourning apart?
5. What prophetic picture of 13:1_6 and in what does it have
6. What allusion in verse 6?
7. What prophecy of 13:7_9 and where do we find its fulfilment?
8. What is the meaning of „little ones” (v. 7), „two parts cut off” in
verse 8, and „the third part refined” in verse 9?
9. What prophetic picture of 14:1_8 and what is the fulfilment of it?
10. What prophetic picture of 14:9_11 and what is the fulfilment of it?
11. What is pictured in 14:12 and what is the fulfilment of it?
12. What final picture of Zechariah and when will it be realized?

Malachi 1 :l to 3:9

We now take up the prophecy of Malachi. We have seen that there were three prophets in the period after the exile, whom we called the prophets of the restoration. These were Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. We now take up the last of those three, the prophet whose writings closed the canon of the Old Testament. Between the books of Zechariah and Malachi there is an interval of about sixty years, and of what was done during these sixty years we have some light. We can draw in_
ferences from the condition of things previous to, and the
conditions we find portrayed in Malachi’s book.
We are pretty sure of some things. We know that the Temple was finished and dedicated four years after the preaching of Haggai, under the inspiration of his preaching and that of Zechariah, his greater successor. We know that the Temple worship was instituted, and the ritual and the ceremonial had been performed and they had built the walls of the city. Herein fall the events of the book of Esther, Ezra’s reformation and Nehemiah’s organization. These facts are about all that we have regarding that period.
There are some things also we can determine by way of in_
ference. It is important to know the condition of Israel at the
time of the prophecy of Malachi. We must always know the
historical situation, the economic, civic, social and religious
conditions of the people in order to fully understand the mes_
sage which God brings to them through his prophet.
We take up now the political condition. Israel was only a
very small vassal, dependent upon the great Persian Empire.

Zerubbabel evidently had been appointed governor soon after
they arrived in the land, but apparently he had no successor
in the royal line, for in the period of Malachi the Persians had
appointed their own governors. They are under a Persian gov_
ernor and are one of the least known and least interfered with
of all the little nations of the world. The great tide of the
world’s history has flowed north; Xerxes had made his great
campaign against Greece; was three or four times defeated,
and the great tide of barbarism from the Persian Empire was
rolled back by that wonderful little nation, Greece, and thus
Europe was saved from an eastern Asiatic and barbarous
The consequences, or the effect, of that upon all ancient history we can hardly calculate. Had Xerxes succeeded in con_
quering Greece, southern Europe and perhaps northern Europe
would have been overrun with Persian religion and civilization. As it was, that invasion was driven back, and a century or so later Alexander the Great spread the civilization of Greece over the Persian Empire; the tide was turned eastward instead of westward, and the world has been the better ever since.
All this passed and did not touch Israel. They had no place
whatever in one of the greatest movements of the ages. They
had enemies round about them, who never forgot them, and
who never failed in a chance to thwart their purposes, or to
harass them in their efforts to build up their nation again. They
apparently had no hope, and there seemed to be no reason for
the hope of the fulfilment of the prophetic visions of Amos,
Hosea, Micah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. These all seemed
to be failures, and there was no indication on the horizon of
history that they would be fulfilled. Thus their political situ_
ation tended toward a despondent condition of mind among the
rulers and probably among all the people.
The following were the economic conditions: They had had
a succession of bad harvests and of hard times. This we find
in the book of Malachi itself. A great many of them had suf_

fered from poverty. They had been compelled to pay their
taxes to the Persian Empire regularly, and in order to do that,
many of them, as we find in Nehemiah, were forced to mort_
gage their property, and some of them had to sell their chil_
dren into slavery. Part of the population, the dregs, had been
left by Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed the city and car_
ried away the best of the people, and when the other people
were removed they took possession and cultivated all the best
of the land for themselves. The Samaritan people, that mixed
race of the north, had also come in and cultivated their land,
and a great many of them had become wealthy and were in a
prosperous condition. Doubtless, many of them came down
into Judah and there held important positions. Thus there
grew up a large number of families of considerable wealth and
social influence. But the best of the people who had returned
from the captivity were poor.
Now let us look at the social condition. The city itself had
never been rebuilt. The ruins were there to be seen every day
in the year. These people were mainly poor, and in order that
they might become rich and influential they married into the
rich families and got rich wives. In order to marry these heathen or semiheathen women who belonged to the rich influ_
ential families, they divorced their own wives. This was done
altogether too promiscuously in Judah. There grew up a select
class and as a result there was enmity between the poor and
the rich.
These political, economic, and social conditions produced a
peculiar religious condition. The colony had returned with all
the glorious promises of the great prophets filling their horizon,
and they looked confidently to the time when they should be a
great nation, and all the nations of the world should look to
them for the law of Jehovah. Naturally they were .filled with
a considerable amount of spiritual pride, because of the exalt_
ed position in which they believed themselves to be placed.
The Persian kings were generous; did not interfere with their
religion. These people had nothing of the fires of persecution
to purify them, nothing to arouse that which was best within
them. They were beginning to settle down upon their lees, and
to grow dull and stupid in their religious life.
Because of these conditions, and the seeming failure of the
prophecies of the great prophets, their pride was set on edge,
and a peculiar condition developed in Israel, such as we have
never met before, viz: a contempt for their revealed religion
and ceremonials, contempt for even God and his Temple, the
ritual and the sacrifices. They began to think that there was
no use to believe in God. They began to doubt the very exist_
ence of the love of God, and to have little or no reverence for
the honor and holiness of God. The priests treated all their
ceremonial and ritual with contempt. The nation seemed to
be on the verge of renouncing God and their religion entirely.
As a result they sacrificed only with the poorest gifts they
could find; they picked out the lame and the maimed and the
blind and the halt for their sacrifices. They offered the poorest
of their bread upon the altar and treated God as if he were not
worthy of their worship. By marriage they mixed with the
heathen or the semiheathen surrounding them, and thus were
in danger of amalgamating their race with the low and de_
graded race of that country, thus losing their distinct nationali_
ty as a people. Some of them went further than that, and ac_
tually began to doubt and question the justice of God in his
rule over the world. They were coming to the point of saying
that God dealt more kindly and justly with the wicked than he
did with the righteous, and was treating the wicked better in
all their sin, than he was the Israelites in all their righteousness.
They refused to bring in the tithe to support the priesthood.
Some of them had actually come to the conclusion that there
was no profit in serving God, and they might as well renounce
it all.
In this brief survey of the condition we observe that Malachi
met a great many of the problems which we have to meet to_
day. The book of Malachi is rich in homiletical material. A
great many of the problems which we must face are there. In
this period the Pharisees and the Sadducees began to spring up.
In the authorized, Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions
the book is divided into four chapters, as we have it in the
American Standard; the Hebrew combines the third and fourth
chapters into one, but none of the chapter divisions exactly fit
the contents and subject matter of the book as we have it in
our Bible.
According to the title of the book, the prophet’s name is
Malachi, which means „my messenger,” exactly what the He_
brew word means, as found in 3:1: „Behold, I send my messen_
ger [Malachi].” A great many maintain that this book is
anonymous, and that Malachi is not the name of the man, but
that the name is adopted from this expression here, and given
to the author because his real name was unknown. The Tar_
gum, the translation of the Hebrew text into Aramaic, adds this
little note and says, „My messenger is Ezra the scribe,” thus
ascribing this prophecy to Ezra, but this is not the prophecy of
Ezra, although it does breathe a great deal of his spirit. It is not
necessary to say that Malachi is strictly the official name and
not the real name. There is no reason why Malachi should not
be the name given to the man, his personal name, as well as his
official name. Malachi was the name of the prophet who ac_
tually lived and wrote in the postexilic period.
There is no date given. It can only be inferred. We know
that it occurred some time after the rebuilding and dedication
of the Temple, but the question arises, Was it before Ezra re_
turned from Babylonia in 458 B.C. or after? Was it before
Ezra’s visit in 458 and Nehemiah’s visit in 444, or was it be_
tween Nehemiah’s visits in 444 and 432, or was it after Nehe_
miah’s second visit? It is more probable that these things
would be said in connection with Nehemiah’s second visit, for
he compelled the Jews to bring their tithes in, to divorce all
their foreign wives, and to adhere to the Temple ceremonials.
It fits the conditions of Nehemiah’s second visit. Malachi was
preaching against the very conditions which Nehemiah dealt
with. There is no Question that it occurred during the reign
of Artaxerxes, the same ruler who sat upon the throne when
Nehemiah came. Edom had been conquered and almost totally
destroyed by this time. So this prophecy parallels very closely
the latter part of Nehemiah.
The book is a dialogue in form, prosaic in style, with simple, smooth, and concise diction. It is a fine piece of eloquence, the outline of which is very simple, as follows:

Introduction: The name of the author (1:1)
I. Fundamental Affirmation (1:2_5)
II. Formal Accusations (1:6 to 2:17)
III. Final Annunciations (3:1 to 4:6)

Malachi adopts a peculiar method of prophesying, a peda_
gogical method. We will observe it more closely as we go on
with our exposition. His method was to make a great state_
ment of some fundamental, theological truth which was being
questioned in that age. Then having made that statement be
throws out the question that is raised up by those people who
are in that peculiar religious condition described above, in
which they question these theological truths. He voices their
skepticism and doubts. Then he gives his answer, and drives it
home with illustration, with exhortation, and even with threats.
This is a pedagogical method for either teaching or preaching, and an effective method, an excellent way to arouse the careless and indifferent. It compels attention; it compels the people to action. This method of Malachi is the beginning of a certain scholastic method that prevailed in the synagogue for centuries after. As we have in the book of Zephaniah the beginning of the great apocalyptic literature which is amplified in Daniel, Zechariah, and the book of Revelation, and as in Habakkuk we have the beginning of the speculative method in Israel, when they were speculating upon God’s providence and God’s rulership, so in Malachi we have introduced the scholastic
method which has survived more or less ever since in Hebrew
and Christian literature.
Now we come to the exposition of the prophecy. We take up
in this chapter three of the prophet’s messages. There are eight
in all. The remaining five will follow in the next chapter.
Malachi’s fundamental affirmation is that God’s love was shown
in Israel’s election, and Edom’s rejection (1:2_5). Here we
have exemplified that pedagogical method. He first makes his
great fundamental, theological statement: „I have loved you,
saith Jehovah,” one of the most fundamental and far_reaching
truths that was ever uttered. With that as the fundamental
truth in theology we hold to everything else. Malachi then
projects their questioning: „Ye say, wherein hast thou loved
us?” This question represents their very dangerous, skeptical
attitude. This attitude, as expressed by „wherein,” is mani_
fested at seven points in this book, viz: 1:2, 6_7; 3:7_8, 13.
But Malachi goes on and proves that God loved Israel. His
proof is based on the history of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob,
in contrast with the history of Jacob, or Israel. His love is
proved by the difference in his conduct toward Jacob, and his
treatment of Esau. In other words, God’s love for Jacob is
proved by Jacob’s history, in contrast with the history of his
These nations were as near akin as they could possibly be,
but the very opposites in disposition and destiny. We have
some of the characteristics of Edom in Obadiah. Now the dif_
ference between God’s treatment of Jacob and Esau is as he
says in the latter part of v. 2, „Yet I loved Jacob, but Esau I
hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and gave his heri_
tage to the jackals of the wilderness.” He does not mean that
he actually hated Esau, but that Esau occupied a very small
place, or a very subordinate place in his estimation, for God
cannot hate any nation, but he puts them in a very low place
in his estimation in comparison with others.
God’s love for Israel is proved in her preservation, while his
lack of love for Edom is proved in the fact that Edom is made
a desolation, which occurred at the hands of the Nabataean
Arabs during the period of the exile, somewhere about the mid_
die of the century preceding this prophecy. Then he goes on
to verify that history of Esau, „Whereas Edom, after he had
been so utterly crushed, said, We are beaten down, but we will
return and build the waste places.” „They shall build, saith
Jehovah, but I will throw down, and they shall call them the
border of wickedness, and the people against whom Jehovah
hath indignation forever. And your eyes shall see [this judg_
ment upon Esau], and ye shall say, The Lord be magnified
beyond the border of Israel.” Paul refers to Jacob and Esau
in Romans 11:13 to illustrate the doctrine of election.
T hey do not show honor and reverence for God as do the
heathen (1:6_14). Again Malachi starts with his fundamental,
theological premise. He says, „A son honoreth his father, and
a servant his master.” He is basing his remark on the Fifth
Commandment which says, „Honour thy father and thy moth_
er.” God did not say, „Love thy father and thy mother,” but
„Honour thy father and thy mother.” What Malachi has in
mind here is the holiness, the majesty, the authority of God,
which demands honor and reverence on the part of his people.
Then God speaks, „If then I am a father, where is mine
honour?” I have commanded you to honor father and mother,
which implies that in the very highest and noblest sense you
honor God also. But they had begun to despise and heap con_
tempt upon the holiness, the majesty, and the authority of God
Almighty. „If I am a master, where is my fear?” The first
thing demanded of a servant is that he fear his master, and
of the child, that he honor and reverence the parent, and the
first and fundamental thing demanded of subjects is that they
reverence and fear Almighty God. But these people were de_
spising the holiness of God; the priests looked upon the services
with contempt.
Now having projected this great fundamental truth, he states
the objections of the people. He charges the priests with
despising his name and saying, „Wherein have we despised thy
name?” Such is their position, and that position, on the part of
those priests, indicates a woeful, wilful ignorance or a scorn-
ful skepticism. To be unconscious of the fact that they were
despising God’s name shows that their moral consciousness, as
well as their religious perceptions, must have been dormant, or
utterly perverted.
Now having stated their position, he attacks it. This is
what they do: „Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar,” and
that proved that they despised the name, majesty, and holiness
of God. „And ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that
ye say, The table of Jehovah is contemptible.” Then he goes
on to specify in what ways they made the table of Jehovah
contemptible; that when they offered the blind, and the lame,
and the sick, they thought it was all right. They would not
dare offer such a gift to the governor, but they did to Almighty
God. They knew the governor would not accept it of them, but
they dared to offer it to God.
Malachi goes on with his admonition: „And now, I pray you,
entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious unto us: this
hath been your means: will he accept any of your persons?”
He will not..
Then the prophet breaks forth and says, „Oh, that the doors
of the temple could be shut! I have no pleasure in you, saith
Jehovah of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your
hand,” expressing the same attitude toward their sacrifices as
did Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah, not that he objected to the cere_
monial or to the ritual, but he objected to the spirit in which
they offered them, as also those prophets did.
Now we have a remarkable prophecy in which he shows the
Gentiles will offer up incense and sacrifices all over the world:
„For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of
the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in
every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure
offering: for my name shall be great among the Gentiles, saith
Jehovah of hosts.” This passage finds its fulfilment in the
transfer of the covenant privileges from the Jews to the Gen_
tiles which came to pass when the Jews rejected the Messiah.
The argument is that the Jews with their great mission to all
the world were failing and therefore, they must be punished for
their failure with such opportunities.
He goes on stigmatizing those priests. They profane the
Temple of Jehovah, they pollute it and they say, „Behold, what
a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it . . . and ye have
brought that which was taken by violence, and the lame, etc.”
Then he pronounced a curse upon the deceiver who had in his
flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a
blemished thing; for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts,
and my name is terrible among the Gentiles.”
Next he charges the priests with unfaithfulness and wicked_
ness. Here we have some splendid homiletical material for the
preacher. In chapter 2 he continues thus: „And now, 0 ye
priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and
if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith
the Lord of hosts, then will I send the curse upon you, and I
will curse your blessings; yea, I have cursed them already, be_
cause ye do not lay it to heart.” The third verse gives a de_
scription of the awful curse that shall come upon them.
Then he goes back to the history of Levi to get his ideal for
the priest, when the tribes were set apart in the great covenant
on Mount Sinai: „My covenant was with him of life and peace;
I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and
was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth,
and unrighteousness was not found in his lips: he walked with
me in peace and uprightness, and turned many away from ini_
Then he gives his reasons for the statement: „For the priest’s
lips should keep knowledge.” The role of the priest was to
teach and from the very beginning of God’s institution of his
religion, he required a whole tribe to be set apart as teachers
and administrators of the law. God recognized the fact that
human nature must have teachers provided for their instruc_
tion. „They should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the
messenger of the Lord of hosts.” But by way of contrast to
what Levi did at one time and what he does now, look at 8_9,
But ye are departed out of the way; you have caused many
to stumble in the law.” They had wilfully perverted it or mis_
interpreted or misapplied it. „Ye have corrupted the covenant
of Levi, saith Jehovah of hosts. Therefore have I also made
you contemptible and base before all the people, according as
ye have not kept my ways, but have had respect of persons in
the law.” And God Almighty will make every priest and every
preacher of his people contemptible and base in the eyes of the
people, if they do with his gospel as the priests did with his

1. What is the historical setting of this book?
2. What is the political condition of the people at this time?
3. What is the economic condition?
4. What is the social condition?
5. What is the religious condition?
6. What two Jewish parties began to spring up about this time?
7. What are the chapter divisions in the different versions, what in
the Hebrew and how do these arrangements fit the subject matter?
8. What of the author and his name?
9. What is the date of the book and what were the difficulties in
connection with it?
10. What is the general character of the book?
11. Give the outline of the book.
12. What is Malachi’s method?
13. What was Malachi’s fundamental affirmation and what was their
14. What was the attitude of the people as indicated by the sevenfold
„wherein” and where do they occur in the book?
15. What was God’s reply to their question, what was the meaning
and what is the New Testament use of this statement?
16. What was Malachi’s first accusation, against whom was it made,
what commandment referred to in this accusation, and what their reply?
17. What were his charges against the priests?
18. What were the threats against the priests for this failure in duty
and what was Malachi’s ideal for the priests?

Malachi 2:10 to 4:6

We continue in this chapter the exposition of the prophecy
of Malachi. In the first chapter we examined three of the
prophet’s sermons directed against the people; the first one cor_
rected their false and skeptical ideas regarding the love of God
toward the nation, the second one attacked their attitude
toward his majesty, or holiness, in the matter of their offering
blemished sacrifices, and the third one was directed against the
priests because of their external deliquencies, their perversion
of the truth that they were given to teach, and their general
The next evil which the prophet charged against them was
the cruel evil of divorce (2:10_16). This evil of divorce arose,
as we have already seen, from the growing custom on the part
of some of the people who wished to belong to the high and rich
families, of marrying into families of mixed and foreign bloods.
In order to do this they were compelled to put away the wives
that they had already. This charge gives the prophet’s view
regarding that evil.
The key words in this section are „dealing treacherously.”
He is addressing the people now, for they, as well as the priests,
have indulged in this cruel and wicked custom. In this case he
begins with a broad and fundamental principle of a common
fatherhood. „Have we not all one father? hath not God cre_
ated us?” He has in mind Israel as a descendant of Abraham
the father of the Jewish nation, and God the common creator
of all. „Why do we deal treacherously every man against his
brother?” In other words, why do the Israelites sustain such a
relation to one another? Why do they „deal treacherously one
with another”? For in speaking of brothers here he included
men and women, for it wa8 the wrong against the women that
he spoke of specifically. In doing this he says that they pro_
fane the covenant of their fathers, for a covenant was made
between God and Israel at Sinai asserting this one thing, that
all the people of Israel were God’s and there should be no deal_
ing treacherously one with another. In dealing thus, they were
breaking the fundamental law of the covenant between God
and Israel.
In verses 11_12 he specifies the charges; he says that Judah
hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in
Israel, and in Jerusalem. Then he explains what that is: „For
Judah hath profaned the holiness of Jehovah which he loveth
and hath married the daughter of a foreign god.” To marry the
daughter of a foreign god meant to an Oriental, to marry a
woman who belonged to another race and to another religious
cult; in marrying into that other nation or religious cult, he was
practically marrying a daughter of the foreign god, for every
nation conceived itself as the offspring of its own particular
god. They were thus marrying the daughter of the foreign
As the result of this evil (v. 12), „Jehovah will cut off, to a
man,” that is, every man without an exception, „that doeth
this, him that waketh and him that answereth,” a proverbial
expression, to include everyone. That was partly fulfilled in
the time of Nehemiah. The divorce court was then set up, and
nearly all the men that had married foreign wives were com_
pelled to put them away, and those who would not, were ex_
communicated, and thus cut off from the congregation and life
of Israel. In verse 13 he says, „And this again,” or literally,
„this a second time ye do.” And, in order to make it very
vivid, he draws a picture of the divorced wives, weeping and
wailing because of the wrongs that have been done to them. He
says (v. 13), „Ye cover the altar of Jehovah with tears, with
weeping, and with sighing, insomuch that he regardeth not the
offering any more, neither receiveth it with good will at your
hand.” The weeping wives and punctilious offerings and sac_
rifices would not to together.
And now to show the carelessness and grossness of the peo_
ple, he represents them as saying, „Wherefore? Why is it that
he hath not received them with good will?” as if they were in_
nocent. Then the prophet answers, „Because Jehovah hath
been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth.” In mar_
riage vows Jehovah was witness between the two. These vows
were taken for life, and now they had dealt treacherously. The
prophet recognized the wife as still the wife and companion,
although thus divorced.
Verse 15 represents some difficulties. There are many trans_
lations of it. The translation given here is, „And did he not
make one, although he had a residue of the Spirit? And where_
fore one? He sought a godly seed.” Now the margin of the
American Revised gives a different translation: „And no one
hath done so who had a residue of the Spirit. Or what? Is there
one that seeketh a godly seed?” which is almost unintelligible.
The general meaning seems to be this: Did not God, when he
first made man, make one man and one woman, although he
had the residue of the spirit of life and might have made a
thousand women for one man, if he had chosen to do so. He
had all the power, yet he made one man and one woman. And
why one? Because he sought a godly seed; because he sought
a pure offspring. Therefore he made one man for one woman
and one woman for one man, in order that the best results
might thereby come.
It enunciates a great and fundamental principle, which is the
same as that enunciated by our Lord Jesus Christ himself.
When the Pharisees came and asked him the question about
divorce, he said, „Moses, because of the hardness of your
hearts, suffered you to put away your wives, but from the be_
ginning it was not so.” God made one man and one woman and
put them together in Eden. That is also Paul’s teaching, that

God intended that one man and one woman enter into a union
for life.
Now an admonition arises out of that. „Therefore take heed
to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife
of his youth. For I hate putting away.” The prophet closes
with this admonition: „Therefore take heed to your spirit,
that ye deal not treacherously.”
In 2:17 he brings his charge without enunciating his general
fundamental principles: „Ye have wearied Jehovah with your
words.” They returned the question to him. „Wherein have
we wearied him?” And the prophet gives his answer, „In that
ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of Jeho_
vah, and he delighteth in them.” Or, „Where is the God of
justice?” It is a very dangerous kind of skepticism; they are
saying, „Jehovah delights in the wicked more than in the
righteous. He is blessing the unrighteous more than the right_
eous. His pleasure is with the man who is of the world. Where
is the God of justice?” The application is that God is not just
in the administration of the affairs of this world; it is not ac_
cording to the principles of righteousness. Many a man, in
adversity, has asked the question, „Where is the God of jus_
In 3:1_6, the prophet gives his answer to that question, and
it is complete: „Men may think that the evil doer is God’s de_
light, and that God is not a God of justice, but the time will
come, when they will see that he is a God of justice, for, „Be_
hold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before
me.” Justice is coming, God is going to manifest himself, he
is going to discriminate between the righteous and the wicked.
He will come in a day of judgment; he will send a messenger
before him, who shall prepare the way, that he may carry on
his work of judgment and of righteousness in the world, and not
only will the messenger come to prepare his way, but when he
has prepared the way before him, then „the Lord, whom ye
seek, will suddenly come to his temple.”

As in the days of Amos, they sought the day of Jehovah,
now in the days of Malachi they look for the day of Jehovah.
Then he raises the question, „Who can abide the day of his
coming? . . . for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s Soap;
and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will
purify the sons of Levi,” their priests and leaders, and when he
has done that, they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in right_
eousness. Then when the priests are made pure and are refined,
there will be a revival of religion in Israel. Then will the of_
ferings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant to Jehovah.
The fulfilment of this we are told by Jesus, occurred when
John the Baptist came preparing the way for him. He himself
was the Lord; he was the messenger of the covenant; he came
to refine and purify the people. His first public act was to
cleanse the Temple, drive out the sellers of oxen and sheep, and
the money changers, and every word he said, every sermon he
preached, every truth he taught, every act he did, tended to
refine and purify the world, and all his life was as a winnowing
fan separating the chaff from the wheat, dividing mankind
into two great classes.
„Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye rob me, even this whole
nation.” Here is a reference to the law of tithes, or the custom
of giving one tenth, which appears first in the Bible in the days
of Abraham, long before it was given by Moses on Mount Sinai.
Really it is coincident with the religious practice and customs
of the human race. It appeared in religious observances from
the very beginning, long before Moses honored it by embodying
it in the law received on Mount Sinai. As the law of the sab_
bath is a fundamental requirement in the physical and moral
constitution of mankind, so the law of tithes is also a funda_
mental requirement of religion.
Now we come to a great text: „Bring ye the whole tithe into
the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove
me now herewith, saith the Lord.” People who are giving their
tenth prove God, and those who faithfully give the tenth find
that God blesses them for doing so. Spurgeon used that same
text and applied it to the sinner: Prove me now, come and test
my gospel and salvation. Find out for yourself if what I say
is true. Prove me and see if I will not bring abundant bless_
ings to you, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour
you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to re_
ceive it. „Windows of heaven” is an Oriental expression for
great blessings from heaven, which of course refers to the source of all blessings.
Then he goes on to say, „I will rebuke the devourer,” the
locusts that had been eating up their crops, „for your sakes,’
that is, „I will bring to pass certain things in the administration
of physical elements of this world, and will so take care of the
order of nature that the devourers shall not destroy the fruits
of your vineyards; neither shall your vine cast forth its fruit
before the time. Then all nations shall call you happy, for ye
shall be a delightsome land, saith Jehovah of hosts,” and that
has been literally fulfilled many a time as God’s people have
met the conditions herein prescribed.
Chapters 3:13 to 4:3. In 3:13 we have set forth another
dangerous phase of their skepticism. The charge is this: „Your
words have been stout against me, saith Jehovah.” Again the
people say, „Wherein have we spoken against thee? What have
we said? Ye have said it is vain to serve God. What profit is
it that we have kept his charge and walked mournfully before
Jehovah of hosts? What good is it to serve God? It doesn’t
pay; there is no profit in it.” That is a different phase of the
problem from what we find in the book of Job. Satan said,
„Job is a good man because he finds that it pays to be good.”
Then God brought Job through that suffering and trouble, in
order to prove that a man might serve him for his own sake
and not for the profit of this life. Now, because these people
received no profit, they therefore said, „It is no use; if God is
not going to make us rich, we will not serve him; we don’t make
any money by it.” That is the modern commercial idea which
underlies this skepticism.

And now they begin to say some rather strange things, de_
picting the anomalies that are to be found in the religious life:
„Now we call the proud happy.” When they saw these proud
and yet happy people, they said, „The happy ones are they
that work wickedness; they that do unrighteousness, they are
the ones that eacape.” Many people now envy the rich and
think that the wicked are the ones that are being built up; that
the people that tempt God escape, whereas they are loaded
down with troubles and difficulties. It is the old problem dis_
cussed in the book of Job and in Psalm 73. In answer to this
complaint, the prophet says, „There is going to be a separation
between you and the others when the time comes for the great
judgment.” When that day comes, they that fear Jehovah, that
speak one with another are heard: „And Jehovah hearkened,
and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him,
for them that feared Jehovah, and thought upon his name.”
The picture is taken perhaps, from a custom observed by the
Persian Empire with great scrupulousness. Whenever a man did
a deed or conferred a favor upon the empire worthy of remem_
brance, the Persian emperor always had that fact recorded in
a book kept for that purpose. Mordecai, when he saved the
life of the king, had his name and deed written in the book,
officially recorded) and afterward he received his reward. Every
man who did something worthy of reward had his name record_
ed in that book. The Persian dominion was over Israel at that
time, and this custom was seized upon by the prophet Malachi,
and made use of by way of an illustration. Jehovah is going
to have a book of remembrance, and in that is recorded the
names of all those that remember him and speak to one another.
The time is coming when he is going to reward them.
This thought we find wrought out more in detail in the book
of Revelation, where the Book of Life is mentioned more than
once. (See author’s sermon on „The Library of Heaven”).
„And they shall be mine in that day,” when this judgment
comes, when the separation takes place, they shall be „mine
own possession,” my peculiar possession, my own dear ones
not my jewels), „in the day that I do this thing; when I bring
this judgment and create this separation. I will spare them,
as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” They will be
spared as a man spares his own beloved boy. When that time
comes they shall also have moral discernment and shall be able
to discern distinctly between the righteous and the wicked,
between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
Now we have one of the finest descriptions of the judgment
day, of the coming of Jehovah in 4:1_3: „For, behold, the day
cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and
all that do wickedly, shall be a stubble; and the day that com_
eth shall burn them up, saith Jehovah of hosts, and shall leave
them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear his name,
ye righteous ones, you true Israelites, you that speak often one
with another, you that are yet faithful, for you shall see the
Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” As the
great sun suddenly springs up above the Plains of Moab,
spread his rays of light over all the country, and flashes them
over Judah and Jerusalem, giving life and light, so the Sun of
Righteousness, the messenger of the covenant shall come and
shall send his rays of divine righteousness which shall burn up
the wicked and bring its blessings to his own. „Ye shall go
forth, and gambol as calves of the stall,” i.e., be happy and
prosperous and blessed. „And ye shall tread down the wicked;
for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day
that I do this thing, saith Jehovah of hosts.” This passage is
paralleled in Matthew 3:11_12.
In 4:4_6 we have God’s last great effort to have the people
do right and to save them; he promises to send his greatest and
best prophet in order that he might, if possible, bring all back
to himself. In the meantime, „Remember ye the law of Moses
my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb.” Keep
my statutes and ordinances, observe those carefully and I will
send Elijah the prophet before that great and terrible day of
Jehovah, and Elijah shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the
children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. If that
is not done, I will come and smite the earth with a curse. How
was it fulfilled? We know that Elijah came, not the real Eli_
jah, the former prophet, the most powerful personality of all
the prophets, but John the Baptist with the spirit and power
of Elijah, the most powerful personality of all those centuries,
except Jesus Christ. We know the story of how he came, how
he preached and how there was a great turning of hearts and
when Jesus came a great separation, refining and purifying
process was begun and now goes on through the centuries, and
Jesus Christ will finally separate the evil from the good for_

1. What charges against the people in 2:10_16, how introduced, and
what the judgments denounced?
2. What was his charge in 2:17, what was their reply, and what was
the point of their question?
3. What was the annunciation of 3:1 and what was the fulfilment?
4. What was the process of the Messiah’s administration as described
in 3:2_6 and what attribute of God is here declared to be the basis of his mercy to Israel?
5. What appeal to the nation in 3:7, what charge following this
appeal and what great lessons of God’s providence in this passage?
6. What was the charge in 3:13 and how does the prophet here show
their skepticism?
7. What optimistic note in 3:16 and what picture here presented?
8. What is the „Book of Remembrance” here spoken of and what
other references to such books in the Scriptures?
9. What was the blessed relation between God and his people pic_
tured in 3:17 and what was the result?
10. What day is here spoken of and what great revelation shall be
made on that day?
11. What was the picture presented in 4:1_3 and what is the cor_
respondent New Testament teaching?
12. What of the beauty and force of „Sun of Righteousness,” etc.,
what is meant by treading down the wicked?
13. In closing this book what reminder is given and what special
fitness of it here?
14. What promise in this connection and what is the New Testament
proof of its fulfilment?
15. What was to be the great work of this Elijah and what was the
significance of it?

Lasă un răspuns

Completează mai jos detaliile tale sau dă clic pe un icon pentru a te autentifica:


Comentezi folosind contul tău Dezautentificare /  Schimbă )

Fotografie Google

Comentezi folosind contul tău Google. Dezautentificare /  Schimbă )

Poză Twitter

Comentezi folosind contul tău Twitter. Dezautentificare /  Schimbă )

Fotografie Facebook

Comentezi folosind contul tău Facebook. Dezautentificare /  Schimbă )

Conectare la %s

%d blogeri au apreciat: