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Israel, about 250 years after its first establishment as a separate kingdom : “ So the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by his servants the prophets; there was none left but the tribe of Judah only (i).” Most of the people were carried away captive into Media : and almost all who were then left were carried away, about 44 years after, by Esarhad- 677. don, the grandson of Salmaneser, and king of Assyria: but it appears “ that a remnant still remained in the land (k).” Esarhaddon sent , colonies from several of his provinces, buit chiefly from Cuthan, to inhabit Samaria ; and these new inhabitants took the name of Samaritans, though they were frequently called Cuthæans. Soon after their settlement in Samaria they were taught the worship of the true God; but retaining also the worship of their false deities, their religion was for some years a mixture of Judaism and Heathenism. In process of time, however, having many of the Israelites incorporated among them, and having built a temple (1) upon Mount Gerizim, like to that at Jerusalem, they appear
(i) 2 Kings, c. 17. v. 18.
(1) Dean Prideaux is of opinion, that this temple was built in the time of Darius Nothus, about the year 409 before Christ. .
to have abandoned all idolatry, and to have worshipped only the God of Israel (m).
Among all the kings of Israel, from Jeroboam to Hoshea, there was not one entirely free from the sin of idolatry. It is said of all, that “ they did evil in the sight of the Lord, and made Israel to sin,” though on many occasions they sought the Lord in their distress, and he was pleased to deliver them from the hands of their enemies; and in particular, he distinguished Jehu, who executed his judgments upon the house of Ahab, and upon the priests of Baal, with peculiar marks of favour: “ Because thou hast done this, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel (n).” But it was not so with the house of David, who sat upon the throne of Judah. Many of the kings of Judah were remarkable for their piety, and żeal for the honour of God, and obedience to bis law; but the nation in general gave themselves up to iniquity, with but few and transient exceptions, although the everlasting goodness of God never failed to manifest his acceptance of their repentance, and readiness to hear their
cry, (m) Josephus says, that the Samaritans called the Jews brethren while in prosperity, and denied the connection when in adversity. This implies, that many Israelites were mixed with the Cuthæans.
(n) 2 Kings, c. 10. V. 30.
cry, whenever they “ called upon him faithfully." But neither the calamities with which they were occasionally visited, nor the blessings with which they were frequently favoured; neither the covenant of their fathers, the miracles of their temple, nor the voice of their prophets; neither. the forbearance and long-suffering of their God, nor the signal example of divine vengeance exhibited in the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, could prevail upon this perverse and rebellious people to “ forsake the evil of their ways, and turn unto the Lord their God with a stedfast mind."-" And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel; and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house, of which I said, My name shall be there (o).” But “ for his great name's sake, and for the sake of his servant David,” God was pleased to fix a period for this first banishnient of Judah from his presence: “ For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word towards you, in causing you to return to this place (p).” Accordingly, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was permitted by
God (O) 2 Kings, c. 23. v. 27. (D) Jer. C, 29. V. 10.
God to invade Judæa in the reign of Jehoiakim, and to besiege and take Jerusalem. He put Jehoiakim in chains, to carry him to Babylon; but upon his humbling hiinself, and engaging to be tributary to Nebuchadnezzar, he was released, and restored to his kingdom. The children of the royal family, and many of the people, were, however, sent captives to Babylon; and a great part of the treasures of the temple was also sent thither, with orders that they should be placed
in the house of the god Bel. From this time, 606. about 115 years after the destruction of the
kingdom of Israel, is to be dated the commencement of the Babylonian captivity ; whích, according to the prediction of Jeremiah the prophet, was to last seventy years. Jehoiakim continued faithful to Nebuchadnezzar three years;
he then rebelled against him, and in conse599. quence, Judæa was invaded by an army of those
nations which were subject to the king of Babylon, and Jehoiakim was slain. He was succeeded by his son Jehoiakim, commonly called Jeconias; and about three months after the death of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar came in person to the siege of Jerusalem. Jeconias, being unable to defend the city, surrendered
himself, with his mother and family, to Nebu598. chadnezzar, and was sent to Babylon, where he
was kept in prison thirty-seven years. Nebuchadnezzar, having made himself master of Jerusalem, sent the remaining treasures of the temple, and of the king's house, with great numbers of captives, to Babylon. He made Mattaniah, the uncle of Jeconias, king of the people who remained in Judæa, and changed his name to Zedekiah. In the ninth year of his reign, Zedekiah revolted from Nebuchadnezzar, and Jerusalem was again besieged and taken, after 588. the siege had lasted about eighteen months, during which the people had suffered severely from famine and pestilence. Zedekiah escaped out of the city, but being pursued, was taken, and carried to Nebuchadnezzar, who, having caused his sons to be slain before his face, and his eyes to be put out, sent him in chains to Babylon, where he died in prison (9). By his being carried thither in a state of blindness, two remarkable prophecies were fulfilled, which appeared to contradict each other; the one of Jeremiah, that Zedekiah should be carried to Babylon (r); the other of Ezekiel, that Zedekiah should not see Babylon (s). The walls of Jerusalem were broken down by the command of Nebuchad
nezzar; (9) Zedekiah was the twenty-first king of the race of David.
(r) Jer e. 32. v. 5. c. 34. V. 3. (s) Ezek. c. 12. V. 13.