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"As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them."-ISAIAH iii. 12.
MAN calls himself the Lord of Creation; yet, powerless and fragile as woman may appear, she hath ever borne equal sway with him over the destinies of the world
At the period of our story, Judea was divided into two kingdoms,-Israel and Judah. Each kingdom saw itself under the despotic sway of a woman. Jezebel reigned in Israel, and Athaliah, her
daughter, in Judah--both women of law- That day she caused a fast to be proless passions and haughty spirit, and, claimed, because wrong had been done in withal, idolatrous worshippers of Baal and the city, which needed punishment. NaAstaroth.
both was then brought forth before the These were only queens dowager-for, people, accused by two of the hirelings of Joram, the son of Jezebel, was sovereign Jezebel, of blaspheming God and the of Samaria; and Athaliah's son, Ahaziah, king. He was, of course, convicted, and governed Jerusalem. Being much en- carried without the city and stoned to gaged in wars with Edom and Syria, their death. Abab took possession of the land country was left to the tender mercies of of the murdered Naboth. these fierce and cruel women. They were God sent Elijah to Ahab and Jezebel, to universally detested ; the people, reproach them for their wickedness, and knowing there was no redress, submitted uttered prophecies of their downfall, in silence. Jezebel's persecution of the which, we shall see, were afterwards ful. holy prophet Elijah, after his signal defeat filled. of the prophets of Baal, is well known. Upon the side of a hill, in the land of “So let the gods do to me, and more Syria, stood an ancient man, leaning upon also !” said Jezebel to Elijah, by a mes- i his staff, apparently resting after a toilsenger, “if I make not thy life as the some march. He wore a mantle of goat's life of one of the prophets thou hast slain, skin, while a long white beard fell down to by to-morrow morning !" Elijah fled the leathern girdle which bound his waist. into the wilderness, and threw himself He gazed sadly upon the scene which lay down beneath a juniper-tree,—where he stretched out beneath him ; although it prayed to die, rather than to live under was lovely enough to raise a smile of the sway of that cruel woman. Her admiration from even him, anchorite as wicked and unjust conduct towards Naboth he was. He stood upon one of a large united all classes against her, and accele circle of hills, bearing every hue and altirated her doom.
tude, and enclosing a vast plain, watered Naboth possessed a vineyard, which by the two lucid streams, Abana and joined the grounds belonging to one of Pharphar, and bearing in its centre a large Ahab's palaces, in the vicinity of the city and glorious city ;-it was Damascus, of Jezreel. This vineyard Ahab offered which reposed upon the centre of the to buy, that he might make it a garden; green plain, like a snowy water-lily, wafted but Naboth, unwilling to sell, refused. upon its verdant leaves.
Temples and Ahab persisted: Naboth continued firm, palaces of marble and ivory, adorned with telling the king it was contrary to law to gleaming gold, arose within its walls, and sell his land, as it was said in Leviticus, were reflected in the brilliant stream “ The land shall not be sold for ever, for below. Towards this city was Elijah, the the land is mine.” Ahab was not used to prophet, sent to fulfil the mission of God. disappointment-and, being a weak man, 0, Damascus !” he said sadly, "beauit preyed upon him until he was quite ill. tiful art thou to behold; but out of thee His wife, Jezebel, sought him while lying shall come a sword, which shall bring my in this mood upon his bed. Why is thy country low. Alas! Israel is ripe for spirit so sad, Ahab,” she said; why eat. punishment, and the wrath of the Lord est thou not?”
cannot be staid.” A young man arose “I am sore vexed,” he answered sul- from beneath an olive-tree, where he had lenly. “I have asked Naboth for his vine- been reposing, and approached the proyard, and he refuses, because, forsooth, he phet. My son,” said Elijah, will not sell the inheritance of his fathers.”' seest before thee Damascus, the city of Jezebel gazed upon him with the utmost Ben-hadad, king of Syria. Here I am
“What! art thou the ruler of sent to anoint Hazael king, that he may Israel, or is Naboth ?" she said. “ Arise! be God's avenger upon Israel, who woreat bread and be merry—I will give thee ship Baal and the golden calf, instead of the vineyard of this insolent Naboth.” Jehovah.” Jezebel swept hauglitily out of the room “God's purpose is not, then, to send to issue her cruel orders.
"No, my son; he is so convinced of God's power, by his forced flight from before Samaria, that he fears the God of Israel."
"Unhappy land! will thy sufferings |
"Never! until it throw away its idols, and serve the living God."
The rumour, that the celebrated prophet Elijah had taken up his abode upon the hill of Damascus was soon carried to the ears of the king. He had ever held the holy man in reverence since his memorable defeat, prophesied by him; and now, being ill, sent to know if he should recover or
One morning Elijah left his cave, and gazed abroad. A long procession of camels and men were crossing the plain, from the city, towards the hill upon which he dwelt. Elijah knew it was sent to him, and awaited the train's approach. A man, richly clothed, alighted from a camel, and threw himself at the prophet's feet. It was Hazael, one of the principal lords of Ben-hadad, king of Syria.
"O Elijah! holy prophet!" said Hazael, "I came from thy son, Ben-hadad, king of Syria. He lieth in bed ill, and hath sent me to ask thee if he shall recover
this disease. See! here are forty camels, loaded with all that is rich and rare of Damascus, which my master lays at thy feet, hoping thou wilt deign to look into the future for him."
me thou shalt be king of Syria, in place of Ben-hadad." We know not what spirit we are of until we are tried. Solomon saith, "He that trusteth in his own heart, is a fool."
As Hazael returned over the plain, he sank into deep musing. He should be king of Syria !-how his ambitious heart leaped within him at the thought! And the conqueror of Israel!-but he would be a merciful conqueror, and Elijah should find he was not so wicked as he imagined. Elijah had prophesied Ben-hadad should die, and he would quietly await that event.
"What said the prophet?" asked the feeble Ben-hadad.
"He told me, thou shouldst surely recover of this disease."
This joyful news so excited Ben-hadad as to act favourably upon him, and before the night he was nearly well. Hazael began to grow uneasy. He doubted the truth of Elijah - and, forgetting his resolution of awaiting his master's predicted death, and not willing to rely upon God's will, he determined to murder the king. Early on the morrow, ere day had yet appeared, and while all in the palace were asleep, Hazael crept softly into the king's chamber. The old man lay in the heavy slumber of an exhausted invalid. Hazael dipped a thick cloth in water, and pressed it upon the king's face until the spirit had fled. Then, when the murderous deed was executed, and Hazael was gazing upon his victim, did the words he had spoken to Elijah, the day before, occur to him-"Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?"--- and Hazael saw he had not read his heart aright. "But, now that I have begun, I must go on!" he said, bitterly. Away to my soldiers !—they must proclaim me king!" Hazael was anointed king of Syria.
The words of Elijah regarding Hazael were soon proved to be prophetic. He ravaged Israel with fire and sword, and brought upon the country all the evils which Elijah had predicted. Joram, the son of Jezebel, and Ahaziah, Athaliah's son, united their forces and besieged Hazael in the city of Ramoth Gilead, which he had lately conquered. Various skirmishes took place; in one of which Joram was severely wounded, and returned
to his mother, at Jezreel, to be cured of knew not whom they were, or if they came his wounds. Ahaziah followed him, in peace or war. leaving the army in command of Jehu, “Let some one go out to meet them, a man of great valour, and a skilful soldier. and ask the leader if he come in peace," God's purposes were not yet fulfilled upon said the king. the wicked house of Ahab : by his hu- The horseman approached Jehu, who inility, he averted the evil from himself; was standing in his chariot. “ Thus asks but the time was come to destroy the king Joram,” he said : " Is it peace ?" rebellious race from the land. Elijah “What hast thou to do with peace ?" was commissioned to anoint Jehu king of replied Jehu. “ Get thee behind me." Israel, in place of Joram. He sent the The messenger did as he was ordered. young prophet, who had attended him to and joined the train of Jehu. A second Damascus, to fulfil the mission.
messenger was despatched, who also reAccording to his instructions, the youth- mained with the approaching party. ful prophet repaired to Ramoth Gilead. The city now became alarmed, and 2 Jehu and the other captains were feasting gathered upon the walls to watch the troop. :in the guard-room when the prophet Joram sent for the watchman to inquire za entered. “I have an errand to thee, o more particulars. “ I know not who they captain !” he said.
be, my lord,” he said ; “ but their driving TUnto which of us?” asked Jehu. is like that of Jehu, the son of Jehosha se
“Even unto thee, Jehu, son of Jeho. | phat, for he ever driveth furiously.” shaphat!”
“It is Jehu,” said the king ; "and per.com Jehu and followed the prophet haps bearer of news from the army.
Make into an inner room. The prophet opened ready the chariot, and I will ride out to a horn of perfumed oil, and poured it on meet him." his head, saying—“Thus saith the Lord Joram and Ahaziah, each in his chariot, God of Israel : "I have anointed thee king left the city, and met Jehu just by the over Israel. Thou shalt be my avenger, vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. Then to smite the house of Ahab. And thou sank the heart of Joram within him when shalt avenge me of Jezebel, who hath shed he recollected it, for many prophets had the blood of my servants. The dogs shall denounced judgments against him and his eat her in the portion of Jezreel !! His house, for the great iniquity of his father mission over, the prophet opened the door and mother. The chariots stopped. and disappeared.
“Is it in peace thou comest, Jehu?" Jehu returned thoughtfully to the feast. asked Joram.
" Is all well ?" asked one of the guests. “What peace is there for any,” said “ What said this mad fellow to thee?" Jehu, “ when the wickedness and witchSurely ye
know him and his com- craft of thee and thy mother, Jezebel, are munication,” said Jehu ; ye have sent so many?” him."
“Treason! Treachery !-0 Ahaziah!” “ Indeed, we know not. Tell us what cried Joram, and turned to fly; but an he said.”
arrow from Jehu, the avenger, brought “He hath anointed me king over him low, and he sank down dead in his Israel, in place of Joram, my master.” chariot.
Jehu was a favourite with the soldiers, “Throw him upon the field of Naboth," and the son of Jezebel was hated ; so that said Jehu to his captain, Bidkar.
“ Now they joyfully received the news, and deter- have the words of the Lord come to pass, mined to proclaim him at once. For which thou and I heard when we rode want of a throne, they covered the stairs, behind Ahab : 'I have seen the blood of which ran up outside the house, with their Naboth,' said the prophet ; and I will scarlet mantles ; and, placing Jehu on revenge me here, in this very field,' saith high, sounded upon their trumpets, and the Lord.” proclaimed Jehu king of Israel.
When Ahaziah, king of Judah, saw the The warder upon the watch-tower of deed, he fled; but was pursued by the Jezreel reported to Joram the approach of people of Jehu. a body of horse and chariots. Joram "Smite him also in his chariot,” cried
the avenger; and Ahaziah was soon dead. house. « Ahaziah hath been some time
Bury him,” said Jehu, “ for he is the son dead,” she said one day to her husband, of the good Jehoshaphat, but deserves “ and I have not seen any preparations death for his mother's sake, and because he towards anointing his son as king in his joined himself with the ungodly Joram.” | stead. Canst thou tell me, Jehoiada, why The news of the king's death spread con- it is not done?” sternation over Jezreel, and they beheld “Hadst thine illness not prevented thee the conqueror's entrance with fear and from visiting the palace, Jehosheha, thou trembling. His errand, however, was not ! wouldst have known,” replied the highto the people, but to their rulers. He priest, in a sad accent. sought the palace of Jezebel.
“What! is the young Zezron, dead ?" " Jezebel inhabited the ivory palace she asked, in alarm. which her husband, Ahab, had built. She “Not yet,” said her husband, gloomily. had decked herself out, and painted her "Now that thou art strong enough to face, in order to dazzle the conqueror, and hear the terrible news, know that Athastood at the window awaiting his approach. liah hath seized upon the sovereign power, Upon her head she wore a golden net, or and imprisoned the young princes in the caul, surrounded by a gauze shawl, as a palace.” turban, while chains and ornaments of This was a great shock to the tender gold hung over her cheeks, her neck and heart of the princess. “Alas! my sweet arms, and little golden bells tinkled at her young nephews !” she said, while tears feet. But in vain were all these mufflers, bedewed her face, “they are in the hands crisping-pins, and rings, and jewels called of a cruel tigress! Can we not do somein play; they could not avert her fate. In thing, Jehoiada ? Let me go to Athaliah, spite of her design to win Jehu, her and surely she will listen to my prayer, natural evil temper broke forth, and, in a and let them depart to their uncle's, or to taunting accent, she cried out, “ Thou wilt my care--for I fear me she will not yet repent this deed, Jehu! Had Zimri peace be satisfied with this cruelty.” who slew his master?"
“No, Jehosheba, seek not Athaliah; Jehu looked up at the windows, which thy prayers, be well assured, cannot soften were crowded with slaves and attendants. the heart of that accursed woman." "Who is on my side ?-Who !” cried “She, surely, will not imprison all those Jehu. Many voices called out their wil noble young princes for life.” lingness to join him. “ Throw down, then, “ Alas! their lives will not be long, I that wicked woman. Let the dogs eat fear!” her, according to the words of the pro- Jehoiada turned from his wife's tears, phet.” They threw her down,-and Jehu and retreated to the temple. Here he rode over her. “Go and bury her,” he bent in prayer to God that he would look said afterwards, “ for she is a king's in pity upon Judah, and avert from it the daughter.” And the words of the prophet threatened evil; for Jehoiada had not were fulfilled!
revealed to Jehosheba the fact of the inEager for sovereign power, and devoid tended massacre of the innocent princes, of natural feeling, Athaliah resolved, when which had been told him in confidence that she heard the death of her son, to seize morning by the captain of the royal guard. upon the throne. The natural heirs, how- That night Jehosheba, unable to sleep, ever, stood in her way; and these, although arose and walked in the marble court they were her own grandchildren, she before her apartment. There she remained doomed to death.
some time, reflecting upon the situation of Jehosheba, the sister of Ahaziah by her nephews, to whom, particularly the another mother, was a woman of great and young Joash, then just a year old, she was good qualities, and tenderly attached to very much attached. She could not rest easy her brother. She wept sorely for his without doing something for them; and death, and acted a mother's part to his was busily resolving plans for their beneyoung orphans. She was wife to Jehoiada, i fit, when she was aroused by the sound of the high-priest of the temple, and lived trampling horses and the rattie of armour. with him within the precincts of the holy She ascended the wall, and beheld a troop