« PreviousContinue »
EDITED BY JOHN KITTO, D.D., F.S.A.
AND SOLD BY
western side of the river Jordan. For he resolutely and unsparingly desecrated and destroyed idolatry, with its altars and priesthood, not only at Bethel, but also in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali' (2 Chron. xxxiv. 6). And we read elsewhere, that he took away all the b high places in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel. And he slew (sacrificed, marg.) all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem (2 Kings xxiii. 19, 20).
Nothing can be more certain than that the tidings of such a scornful and decisive desecration and destruction of idolatrous places, altars, and priests in his province of Samaria, would highly exasperate the Assyrian monarch then occupying the throne of Nineveh, if he were actually, and not merely nominally, the master of Samaria at the period in question. He could not but regard this violent attack upon idols and altars as heinous sacrilege, and an unpardonable insult to his own authority and majesty. And consequently speaking after the manner of men) the throne and personal liberty of Josiah, if not his very life, would have been seriously endangered.
Now it is here that a question, not without its interest and importance, at once suggests itself, and which it is the leading object of this essay to discuss. Are we to believe that the reigning monarch in Nineveh was actually the supreme lord of Samaria at the time of Josiah's memorable desecration of idolatry in that province ? Or, is it rather to be inferred that, in consequence of
b No mention is here made of such altars as may have been erected throughout Samaria, by the Gentile colonists to their various idols. It is however probable that all which came under the notice of the king would be destroyed. The zeal of Josiah was doubtless especially directed against the “high places' made by the kings of Israel, which were only the successive developments of the same spirit of guilty disloyalty to Jehovah, manifested by Jeroboam at Bethel, and also at Dan. But the establishment of the golden calf, with its altar, at Bethel, was the more flagrant outrage of the two; as this place was upon the borders of Judah, at no very great distance from Jerusalem, and closely associated with the history of the patriarch Jacob.
It is not credible that Josiah was ignorant of the memorable prediction uttered three centuries previously against that guilty spot. And he would naturally feel that, while this solemn prediction commanded him to accomplish its literal denunciation against Bethel, its spirit justified him (perhaps called him to the additional task) in overthrowing the idolatry of Israel (should circumstances permit it, without detriment to the sovereign jurisdiction of the Assyrian monarch) in all the other high places and altars which had been subsequently erected in the land of Jehovah, in imitation of the parent altar at Bethel." It is also not improbable that (as happened in Hezekiah's reformation) the Lord inclined the hearts of the remnant of Israel in Samaria, at least in the neighbouring territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, to encourage Josiah, and co-operate with him.
No. VII. — APRIL, 1853.
THE SCYTHIAN DOMINION IN ASIA
(As recorded by Herodotus)
IN ITS CONNECTION WITH JOSIAH'S EXERCISE OF SOVEREIGN POWER IN THE
TERRITORY OF THE TEN TRIBES.
It was between the twelfth (cir. 630 B.c.) and the eighteenth (624 B.C.) years of his reign that Josiah endeavoured to accomplish a thorough religious reformation, not only in Judea, but also in Samaria. It had been long before announced to Jeroboam, as he stood by his recently erected idolatrous altar at Bethel, to burn incense, that a child should be born unto the house of David, JOSIAH by name ; and that he should offer upon that altar the priests of the high places that burned incense upon it, and that men's bones should be burned upon it’ (1 Kings xiii. 2).
The son of Amon did not confine himself to the letter of this remarkable prediction ; but, in his character of religious reformer, he seems to have acted as one of the royal descendants and successors of David, with full and independent sovereignty within the limits of the kingdom of his illustrious ancestor—at least, on the
& The excellent commentator, Thomas Scott, was struck with Josiah's extraordinary exercise of sovereign power in Samaria. With his usual moderation, he makes the following remark upon the subject : 'Josiah had evidently some authority over a great part of the country which the ten tribes had occupied (2 Chron. xxxiv. 36): but it is not certain whether this was by grant from the king of Assyria, or by the willing subjection of the inhabitants; the former however appears the more probable.' (Note, 2 Kings xxiii. 15, 20.)
VOL. IV.-NO. VII.