Book IX - Chapters 1-5
Antiquities of the Jews - Book IX
CONTAINING THE INTERVAL OF ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS.
1. WHEN Jehoshaphat the king was come to Jerusalem, from the assistance he had afforded Ahab, the king of Israel, when he fought with Benhadad, king of Syria, the prophet Jehu met him, and accused him for assisting Ahab, a man both impious and wicked; and said to him, that God was displeased with him for so doing, but that he delivered him from the enemy, notwithstanding he had sinned, because of his own proper disposition, which was good. Whereupon the king betook himself to thanksgivings and sacrifices to God; after which he presently went over all that country which he ruled round about, and taught the people, as well the laws which God gave them by Moses, as that religious worship that was due to him. He also constituted judges in every one of the cities of his kingdom; and charged them to have regard to nothing so much in judging the multitude as to do justice, and not to be moved by bribes, nor by the dignity of men eminent for either their riches or their high birth, but to distribute justice equally to all, as knowing that God is conscious of every secret action of theirs. When he had himself instructed them thus, and gone over every city of the two tribes, he returned to Jerusalem. He there also constituted judges out of the priests and the Levites, and principal persons of the multitude, and admonished them to pass all their sentences with care and justice (1) And that if any of the people of his country had differences of great consequence, they should send them out of the other cities to these judges, who would be obliged to give righteous sentences concerning such causes; and this with the greater care, because it is proper that the sentences which are given in that city wherein the temple of God is, and wherein the king dwells, be given with great care and the utmost justice. Now he set over them Amariah the priest, and Zebadiah, [both] of the tribe of Judah; and after this manner it was that the king ordered these affairs.
2. About the same time the Moabites and Ammonites made an expedition against Jehoshaphat, ,and took with them a great body of Arabians, and pitched their camp at Engedi, a city that is situate at the lake Asphaltiris, and distant three hundred furlongs from Jerusalem. In that place grows the best kind of palm trees, and the opobalsamum. (2) Now Jehoshaphat heard that the enemies had passed over the lake, and had made an irruption into that country which belonged to his kingdom; at which news he was aftrighted, and called the people of Jerusalem to a congregation in the temple, and standing over against the temple itself, he called upon God to afford him power and strength, so as to inflict punishment on those that made this expedition against them (for that those who built this his temple had prayed, that he would protect that city, and take vengeance on those that were so bold as to come against it); for they are come to take from us that land which thou hast given us for a possession. When he had prayed thus, he fell into tears; and the whole multitude, together with their wives and children, made their supplications also: upon which a certain prophet, Jahaziel by name, came into the midst of the assembly, and cried out, and spake both to the multitude and to the king, that God heard their prayers, and promised to fight against their enemies. He also gave order that the king should draw his forces out the next day, for that he should find them between Jerusalem and the ascent of Engedi, at a place called The Eminence, and that he should not fight against them, but only stand still, and see how God would fight against them. When the prophet had said this, both the king and the multitude fell upon their faces, and gave thanks to God, and worshipped him; and the Levites continued singing hymns to God with their instruments of music.
3. As soon as it was day, and the king was come into that wilderness which is under the city of Tekoa, he said to the multitude, "that they ought to give credit to what the prophet had said, and not to set themselves in array for fighting; but to set the priests with their trumpets, and the Levites with the singers of hymns, to give thanks to God, as having already delivered our country from our enemies." This opinion of the king pleased [the people], and they did what he advised them to do. So God caused a terror and a commotion to arise among the Ammonites, who thought one another to be enemies, and slew one another, insomuch that not one man out of so great an army escaped; and when Jehoshaphat looked upon that valley wherein their enemies had been encamped, and saw it full of dead men, he rejoiced at so surprising an event, as was this assistance of God, while he himself by his own power, and without their labor, had given them the victory. He also gave his army leave to take the prey of the enemy's camp, and to spoil their dead bodies; and indeed so they did for three days together, till they were weary, so great was the number of the slain; and on the fourth day, all the people were gathered together unto a certain hollow place or valley, and blessed God for his power and assistance, from which the place had this name given it, the Valley of [Berachah, or] Blessing.
4. And when the king had brought his army back to Jerusalem, he betook himself to celebrate festivals, and offer sacrifices, and this for many days. And indeed, after this destruction of their enemies, and when it came to the ears of the foreign nations, they were all greatly aftrighted, as supposing that God would openly fight for him hereafter. So Jehoshaphat from that time lived in great glory and splendor, on account of his righteousness and his piety towards God. He was also in friendship with Ahab's son, who was king of Israel; and he joined with him in the building of ships that were to sail to Pontus, and the traffic cities of Thrace (3) but he failed of his gains, for the ships were destroyed by being so great [and unwieldy]; on which account he was no longer concerned about shipping. And this is the history of Jehoshaphat, the king of Jerusalem.
CONCERNING AHAZIAH; THE KING OF ISRAEL; AND AGAIN CONCERNING THE PROPHET ELIJAH.
1. AND now Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, reigned over Israel, and made his abode in Samaria. He was a wicked man, and in all respects like to both his parents and to Jeroboam, who first of all transgressed, and began to deceive the people. In the second year of his reign, the king of Moab fell off from his obedience, and left off paying those tributes which he before paid to his father Ahab. Now it happened that Ahaziah, as he was coming down from the top of his house, fell down from it, and in his sickness sent to the Fly, which was the god of Ekron, for that was this god's name, to inquire about his recovery (4) but the God of the Hebrews appeared to Elijah the prophet, and commanded him to go and meet the messengers that were sent, and to ask them, whether the people of Israel had pot a God of their own, that the king sent to a foreign god to inquire about his recovery? and to bid them return and tell the king that he would not escape this disease. And when Elijah had performed what God had commanded him, and the messengers had heard what he said, they returned to the king immediately; and when the king wondered how they could return so soon, and asked them the reason of it, they said that a certain man met them, and forbade them to go on any farther; but to return and tell thee, from the command of the God of Israel, that this disease will have a bad end. And when the king bid them describe the man that said this to them, they replied that he was a hairy man, and was girt about with a girdle of leather. So the king understood by this that the man who was described by the messengers was Elijah; whereupon he sent a captain to him, with fifty soldiers, and commanded them to bring Elijah to him; and when the captain that was sent found Elijah sitting upon the top of a hill, he commanded him to come down, and to come to the king, for so had he enjoined; but that in case he refused, they would carry him by force. Elijah said to him, "That you may have a trial whether I be a true prophet, I will pray that fire may fall from heaven, and destroy both the soldiers and yourself.? (5) So he prayed, and a whirlwind of fire fell [from heaven], and destroyed the captain, and those that were with him. And when the king was informed of the destruction of these men, he was very angry, and sent another captain with the like number of armed men that were sent before. And when this captain also threatened the prophet, that unless he came down of his own accord, he would take him and carry him away, upon his prayer against him, the fire [from heaven] slew this captain as well the other. And when, upon inquiry, the king was informed of what happened to him, he sent out a third captain. But when this captain, who was a wise man, and of a mild disposition, came to the place where Elijah happened to be, and spake civilly to him; and said that he knew that it was without his own consent, and only in submission to the king's command that he came to him; and that those that came before did not come willingly, but on the same account; ? he therefore desired him to have pity on those armed men that were with him, and that he would come down and follow him to the king. So Elijah accepted of his discreet words and courteous behavior, and came down and followed him. And when he came to the king, he prophesied to him and told him that God said, "Since thou hast despised him as not being God, and so unable to foretell the truth about thy distemper, but hast sent to the god of Ekron to inquire of him what will be the end of this thy distemper, know this, that thou shalt die."
2. Accordingly the king in a very little time died, as Elijah had foretold; but Jehoram his brother succeeded him in the kingdom, for he died without children: but for this Jehoram, he was like his father Ahab in wickedness, and reigned twelve years, indulging himself in all sorts of wickedness and impiety towards God, for, leaving off his worship, he worshipped foreign gods; but in other respects he was an active man. Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared, but so that nobody knew that they died.
HOW JORAM AND JEHOSHAPHAT MADE AN EXPEDITION AGAINST THE MOABITES; AS ALSO CONCERNING THE WONDERS OF ELISHA; AND THE DEATH OF JEHOSHAPHAT.
1. WHEN Joram had taken upon him the kingdom, he determined to make an expedition against the king of Moab, whose name was Mesha; for, as we told you before, he was departed from his obedience to his brother [Ahaziah], while he paid to his father Ahab two hundred thousand sheep, with their fleeces of wool. When therefore he had gathered his own army together, he sent also to Jehoshaphat, and entreated him, that since he had from the beginning been a friend to his father, he would assist him in the war that he was entering into against the Moabites, who had departed from their obedience, who not only himself promised to assist him, but would also oblige the king of Edom, who was under his authority, to make the same expedition also. When Joram had received these assurances of assistance from Jehoshaphat, he took his army with him, and came to Jerusalem; and when he had been sumptuously entertained by the king of Jerusalem, it was resolved upon by them to take their march against their enemies through the wilderness of Edom. And when they had taken a compass of seven days' journey, they were in distress for want of water for the cattle, and for the army, from the mistake of their roads by the guides that conducted them, insomuch that they were all in an agony, especially Joram; and cried to God, by reason of their sorrow, and [desired to know] what wickedness had been committed by them that induced him to deliver three kings together, without fighting, unto the king of Moab. But Jehoshaphat, who was a righteous man, encouraged him, and bade him send to the camp, and know whether any prophet of God was come along with them, that we might by him learn from God what we should do. And when one of the servants of Joram said that he had seen there Elisha, the son of Shaphat, the disciple of Elijah, the three kings went to him, at the entreaty of Jehoshaphat; and when they were come at the prophet's tent, which tent was pitched out of the camp, they asked him what would become of the army? and Joram was particularly very pressing with him about it. And when he replied to him, that he should not trouble him, but go to his father's and mother's prophets, for they [to be sure] were true prophets, he still desired him to prophesy, and to save them. So he swore by God that he would not answer him, unless it were on account of Jehoshaphat, who was a holy and righteous man; and when, at his desire, they brought him a man that could play on the psaltery, the Divine Spirit came upon him as the music played, and he commanded them to dig many trenches in the valley; for, said he, "though there appear neither cloud, nor wind, nor storm of rain, ye shall see this river full of water, till the army and the cattle be saved for you by drinking of it. Nor will this be all the favor that you shall receive from God, but you shall also overcome your enemies, and take the best and strongest cities of the Moabites, and you shall cut down their fruit trees, (6) and lay waste their country, and stop up their fountains and rivers."
2. When the prophet had said this, the next day, before the sun-rising, a great torrent ran strongly; for God had caused it to rain very plentifully at the distance of three days' journey into Edom, so that the army and the cattle found water to drink in abundance. But when the Moabites heard that the three kings were coming upon them, and made their approach through the wilderness, the king of Moab gathered his army together presently, and commanded them to pitch their camp upon the mountains, that when the enemies should attempt to enter their country, they might not be concealed from them. But when at the rising of the sun they saw the water in the torrent, for it was not far from the land of Moab, and that it was of the color of blood, for at such a time the water especially looks red, by the shining of the sun upon it, they formed a false notion of the state of their enemies, as if they had slain one another for thirst; and that the river ran with their blood. However, supposing that this was the case, they desired their king would send them out to spoil their enemies; whereupon they all went in haste, as to an advantage already gained, and came to the enemy's camp, as supposing them destroyed already. But their hope deceived them; for as their enemies stood round about them, some of them were cut to pieces, and others of them were dispersed, and fled to their own country. And when the kings fell into the land of Moab, they overthrew the cities that were in it, and spoiled their fields, and marred them, filling them with stones out of the brooks, and cut down the best of their trees, and stopped up their fountains of water, and overthrew their walls to their foundations. But the king of Moab, when he was pursued, endured a siege; and seeing his city in danger of being overthrown by force, made a sally, and went out with seven hundred men, in order to break through the enemy's camp with his horsemen, on that side where the watch seemed to be kept most negligently; and when, upon trial, he could not get away, for he lighted upon a place that was carefully watched, he returned into the city, and did a thing that showed despair and the utmost distress; for he took his eldest son, who was to reign after him, and lifting him up upon the wall, that he might be visible to all the enemies, he offered him as a whole burnt-offering to God, whom, when the kings saw, they commiserated the distress that was the occasion of it, and were so affected, in way of humanity and pity, that they raised the siege, and every one returned to his own house. So Jehoshaphat came to Jerusalem, and continued in peace there, and outlived this expedition but a little time, and then died, having lived in all sixty years, and of them reigned twenty-five. He was buried in a magnificent manner in Jerusalem, for he had imitated the actions of David.
JEHORAM SUCCEEDS JEHOSHAPHAT; HOW JORAM, HIS NAMESAKE, KING OF ISRAEL, FOUGHT WITH THE SYRIANS;AND WHAT WONDERS WERE DONE BY THE PROPHET ELISHA.
1. JEHOSHAPAT had a good number of children; but he appointed his eldest son Jehoram to be his successor, who had the same name with his mother's brother, that was king of Israel, and the son of Ahab. Now when the king of Israel was come out of the land of Moab to Samaria, he had with him Elisha the prophet, whose acts I have a mind to go over particularly, for they were illustrious, and worthy to be related, as we have them set down in the sacred books.
2. For they say that the widow of Obadiah (7) Ahab's steward, came to him, and said, that he was not ignorant how her husband had preserved the prophets that were to be slain by Jezebel, the wife of Ahab; for she said that he hid a hundred of them, and had borrowed money for their maintenance, and that, after her husband's death, she and her children were carried away to be made slaves by the creditors; and she desired of him to have mercy upon her on account of what her husband did, and afford her some assistance. And when he asked her what she had in the house, she said, "Nothing but a very small quantity of oil in a cruse." So the prophet bid her go away, and borrow a great many empty vessels of her neighbors, and when she had shut her chamber door, to pour the oil into them all; for that God would fill them full. And when the woman had done what she was commanded to do, and bade her children bring every one of the vessels, and all were filled, and not one left empty, she came to the prophet, and told him that they were all full; upon which he advised her to go away, and sell the oil, and pay the creditors what was owing them, for that there would be some surplus of the price of the oil, which she might make use of for the maintenance of her children. And thus did Elisha discharge the woman's debts, and free her from the vexation of her creditors.
3. Elisha also sent a hasty message to Joram, (8) and exhorted him to take care of that place, for that therein were some Syrians lying in ambush to kill him. So the king did as the prophet exhorted him, and avoided his going a hunting. And when Benhadad missed of the success of his lying in ambush, he was wroth with his own servants, as if they had betrayed his ambushment to Joram; and he sent for them, and said they were the betrayers of his secret counsels; and he threatened that he would put them to death, since such their practice was evident, because he had intrusted this secret to none but them, and yet it was made known to his enemy. And one that was present said that he should not mistake himself, nor suspect that they had discovered to his enemy his sending men to kill him, but that he ought to know that it was Elisha the prophet who discovered all to him, and laid open all his counsels. So he gave order that they should send some to learn in what city Elisha dwelt. Accordingly those that were sent brought word that he was in Dothan; wherefore Benhadad sent to that city a great army, with horses and chariots, to take Elisha: so they encompassed the city round about by night, and kept him therein confined; but when the prophet's servant in the morning perceived this, and that his enemies sought to take Elisha, he came running, and crying out after a disordered manner to him, and told him of it; but he encouraged him, and bid him not be afraid, and to despise the enemy, and trust in the assistance of God, and was himself without fear; and he besought God to make manifest to his servant his power and presence, so far as was possible, in order to the inspiring him with hope and courage. Accordingly God heard the prayer of the prophet, and made the servant see a multitude of chariots and horses encompassing Elisha, till he laid aside his fear, and his courage revived at the sight of what he supposed was come to their assistance. After this Elisha did further entreat God, that he would dim the eyes of their enemies, and cast a mist before them, whereby they might not discern him. When this was done, he went into the midst of his enemies, and asked them who it was that they came to seek; and when they replied, "The prophet Elisha," he promised he would deliver him to them, if they would follow him to the city where he was. So these men were so darkened by God in their sight and in their mind, that they followed him very diligently; and when Elisha had brought them to Samaria, he ordered Joram the king to shut the gates, and to place his own army round about them; and prayed to God to clear the eyes of these their enemies, and take the mist from before them. Accordingly, when they were freed from the obscurity they had been in, they saw themselves in the midst of their enemies; and as the Syrians were strangely amazed and distressed, as was but reasonable, at an action so Divine and surprising, and as king Joram asked the prophet if he would give him leave to shoot at them, Elisha forbade him so to do; and said, that "it is just to kill those that are taken in battle, but that these men had done the country no harm, but, without knowing it, were come thither by the Divine Power:" ? so that his counsel was to treat them in a hospitable manner at his table, and then send them away without hurting them. (9) Wherefore Joram obeyed the prophet; and when he had feasted the Syrians in a splendid and magnificent manner, he let them go to Benhadad their king.
4. Now when these men were come back, and had showed Benhadad how strange an accident had befallen them, and what an appearance and power they had experienced of the God of Israel, he wondered at it, as also at that prophet with whom God was so evidently present; so he determined to make no more secret attempts upon the king of Israel, out of fear of Elisha, but resolved to make open war with them, as supposing he could be too hard for his enemies by the multitude of his army and power. So he made an expedition with a great army against Joram, who, not thinking himself a match for him, shut himself up in Samaria, and depended on the strength of its walls; but Benhadad supposed he should take the city, if not by his engines of war, yet that he should overcome the Samaritans by famine, and the want of necessaries, and brought his army upon them, and besieged the city; and the plenty of necessaries was brought so low with Joram, that from the extremity of want an ass's head was sold in Samaria for fourscore pieces of silver, and the Hebrews bought a sextary of dore's dung, instead of salt, for five pieces of silver. Now Joram was in fear lest somebody should betray the city to the enemy, by reason of the famine, and went every day round the walls and the guards to see whether any such were concealed among them; and by being thus seen, and taking such care, he deprived them of the opportunity of contriving any such thing; and if they had a mind to do it, he, by this means, prevented them: but upon a certain woman's crying out, "Have pity on me, my lord," while he thought that she was about to ask for somewhat to eat, he imprecated God's curse upon her, and said he had neither thrashing-floor nor wine-press, whence he might give her any thing at her petition. Upon which she said she did not desire his aid in any such thing, nor trouble him about food, but desired that he would do her justice as to another woman. And when be bade her say on, and let him know what she desired, she said she had made an agreement with the other woman who was her neighbor and her friend, that because the famine and want was intolerable, they should kill their children, each of them having a son of their own, and we will live upon them ourselves for two days, the one day upon one son, and the other day upon the other; and," said she, I have killed my son the first day, and we lived upon my son yesterday; but this other woman will not do the same thing, but hath broken her agreement, and hath hid her son." This story mightily grieved Joram when he heard it; so he rent his garment, and cried out with a loud voice, and conceived great wrath against Elisha the prophet, and set himself eagerly to have him slain, because he did not pray to God to provide them some exit and way of escape out of the miseries with which they were surrounded; and sent one away immediately to cut off his head, who made haste to kill the prophet. But Elisha was not unacquainted with the wrath of the king against him; for as he sat in his house by himself, with none but his disciples about him, he told them that Joram, (10) who was the son of a murderer, had sent one to take away his head; "but," said he, "when he that is commanded to do this comes, take care that you do not let him come in, but press the door against him, and hold him fast there, for the king himself will follow him, and come to me, having altered his mind." Accordingly, they did as they were bidden, when he that was sent by the king to kill Elisha came. But Joram repented of his wrath against the prophet; and for fear he that was commanded to kill him should have done it before he came, he made haste to hinder his slaughter, and to save the prophet: and when he came to him, he accused him that he did not pray to God for their deliverance from the miseries they now lay under, but saw them so sadly destroyed by them. Hereupon Elisha promised, that the very next day, at the very same hour in which the king came to him, they should have great plenty of food, and that two seahs of barley should be sold in the market for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour should be sold for a shekel. This prediction made Joram, and those that were present, very joyful, for they did not scruple believing what the prophet said, on account of the experience they had of the truth of his former predictions; and the expectation of plenty made the want they were in that day, with the uneasiness that accompanied it, appear a light thing to them: but the captain of the third band, who was a friend of the king, and on whose hand the king leaned, said, "Thou talkest of incredible things, O prophet! for as it is impossible for God to pour down torrents of barley, or fine flour, out of heaven, so is it impossible that what thou sayest should come to pass." To which the prophet made this reply," Thou shalt see these things come to pass, but thou shalt not be in the least a partaker of them."
5. Now what Elisha had thus foretold came to pass in the manner following: There was a law at Samaria (11) that those that had the leprosy, and whose bodies were not cleansed from it, should abide without the city: and there were four men that on this account abode before the gates, while nobody gave them any food, by reason of the extremity of the famine; and as they were prohibited from entering into the city by the law, and they considered that if they were permitted to enter, they should miserably perish by the famine; as also, that if they staid where they were, they should suffer in the same manner, ? they resolved to deliver themselves up to the enemy, that in case they should spare them, they should live; but if they should be killed, that would be an easy death. So when they had confirmed this their resolution, they came by night to the enemy's camp. Now God had begun to affright and disturb the Syrians, and to bring the noise of chariots and armor to their ears, as though an army were coming upon them, and had made them suspect that it was coming nearer and nearer to them In short, they were in such a dread of this army, that they left their tents, and ran together to Benhadad, and said that Joram the king of Israel had hired for auxiliaries both the king of Egypt and the king of the Islands, and led them against them for they heard the noise of them as they were coming. And Benhadad believed what they said (for there came the same noise to his ears as well as it did to theirs); so they fell into a mighty disorder and tumult, and left their horses and beasts in their camp, with immense riches also, and betook themselves to flight. And those lepers who had departed from Samaria, and were gone to the camp of the Syrians, of whom we made mention a little before, when they were in the camp, saw nothing but great quietness and silence: accordingly they entered into it, and went hastily into one of their tents; and when they saw nobody there, they eat and drank, and carried garments, and a great quantity of gold, and hid it out of the camp; after which they went into another tent, and carried off what was in it, as they did at the former, and this did they for several times, without the least interruption from any body. So they gathered thereby that the enemies were departed; whereupon they reproached themselves that they did not inform Joram and the citizens of it. So they came to the walls of Samaria, and called aloud to the watchmen, and told them in what state the enemies were, as did these tell the king's guards, by whose means Joram came to know of it; who then sent for his friends, and the captains of his host, and said to them, that he suspected that this departure of the king of Syria was by way of ambush and treachery, and that out of despair of ruining you by famine, when you imagine them to be fled away, you may come out of the city to spoil their camp, and he may then fall upon you on a sudden, and may both kill you, and take the city without fighting; whence it is that I exhort you to guard the city carefully, and by no means to go out of it, or proudly to despise your enemies, as though they were really gone away." And when a certain person said that he did very well and wisely to admit such a suspicion, but that he still advised him to send a couple of horsemen to search all the country as far as Jordan, that "if they were seized by an ambush of the enemy, they might be a security to your army, that they may not go out as if they suspected nothing, nor undergo the like misfortune; and," said he, "those horsemen may be numbered among those that have died by the famine, supposing they be caught and destroyed by the enemy." So the king was pleased with this opinion, and sent such as might search out the truth, who performed their journey over a road that was without any enemies, but found it full of provisions, and of weapons, that they had therefore thrown away, and left behind them, in order to their being light and expeditious in their flight. When the king heard this, he sent out the multitude to take the spoils of the camp; which gains of theirs were not of things of small value, but they took a great quantity of gold, and a great quantity of silver, and flocks of all kinds of cattle. They also possessed themselves of [so many] ten thousand measures of wheat and barley, as they never in the least dreamed of; and were not only freed from their former miseries, but had such plenty, that two seahs of barley were bought for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, according to the prophecy of Elisha. Now a seah is equal to an Italian modius and a half. The captain of the third band was the only man that received no benefit by this plenty; for as he was appointed by the king to oversee the gate, that lm might prevent the too great crowd of the multitude, and they might not endanger one another to perish, by treading on one another in the press, he suffered himself in that very way, and died in that very manner, as Elisha had foretold such his death, when he alone of them all disbelieved what he said concerning that plenty of provisions which they should soon have.
6. Hereupon, when Benhadad, the king of Syria, had escaped to Damascus, and understood that it was God himself that cast all his army into this fear and disorder, and that it did not arise from the invasion of enemies, he was mightily cast down at his having God so greatly for his enemy, and fell into a distemper. Now it happened that Elisha the prophet, at that time, was gone out of his own country to Damascus, of which Berthadad was informed: he sent Hazael, the most faithful of all his servants, to meet him, and to carry him presents, and bade him inquire of him about his distemper, and whether he should escape the danger that it threatened. So Hazael came to Elisha with forty camels, that carried the best and most precious fruits that the country of Damascus afforded, as well as those which the king's palace supplied. He saluted him kindly, and said that he was sent to him by king Berthadad, and brought presents with him, in order to inquire concerning his distemper, whether he should recover from it or not. Whereupon the prophet bid him tell the king no melancholy news; but still he said he would die. So the king's servant was troubled to hear it; and Elisha wept also, and his tears ran down plenteously at his foresight of what miseries his people would undergo after the death of Berthadad. And when Hazael asked him what was the occasion of this confusion he was in, he said that he wept out of his commiseration for the multitude of the Israelites, and what terrible miseries they will suffer by thee; "for thou wilt slay the strongest of them, and wilt burn their strongest cities, and wilt destroy their children, and dash them against the stones, and wilt rip up their women with child." And when Hazael said, "How can it be that I should have power enough to do such things ?" the prophet replied, that God had informed him that he should be king of Syria. So when Hazael was come to Benhadad, he told him good news concerning his distemper (12) but on the next day he spread a wet cloth, in the nature of a net, over him, and strangled him, and took his dominion. He was an active man, and had the good-will of the Syrians, and of the people of Damascus, to a great degree; by whom both Benhadad himself, and Hazael, who ruled after him, are honored to this day as gods, by reason of their benefactions, and their building them temples by which they adorned the city of the Damascenes. They also every day do with great pomp pay their worship to these kings, (13) and value themselves upon their antiquity; nor do they know that these kings are much later than they imagine, and that they are not yet eleven hundred years old. Now when Joram, the king of Israel, heard that Berthadad was dead, he recovered out of the terror and dread he had been in on his account, and was very glad to live in peace.
CONCERNING THE WICKEDNESS OF JEHORAM KING O JERUSALEM; HIS DEFEAT AND DEATH.
1. Now Jehoram the king of Jerusalem, for we have said before that he had the same name with the king of Israel, as soon as he had taken the government upon him, betook himself to the slaughter of his brethren, and his father's friends, who were governors under him, and thence made a beginning and a demonstration of his wickedness; nor was he at all better than those kings of Israel who at first transgressed against the laws of their country, and of the Hebrews, and against God's worship. And it was Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, whom he had married, who taught him to be a bad man in other respects, and also to worship foreign gods. Now God would not quite root out this family, because of the promise he had made to David. However, Jehoram did not leave off the introduction of new sorts of customs to the propagation of impiety, and to the ruin of the customs of his own country. And when the Edomites about that time had revolted from him, and slain their former king, who was in subjection to his father, and had set up one of their own choosing, Jehoram fell upon the land of Edom, with the horsemen that were about him, and the chariots, by night, and destroyed those that lay near to his own kingdom, but did not proceed further. However, this expedition did him no service, for they all revolted from him, with those that dwelt in the country of Libnah. He was indeed so mad as to compel the people to go up to the high places of the mountains, and worship foreign gods.
2. As he was doing this, and had entirely cast his own country laws out of his mind, there was brought him an epistle from Elijah the prophet (14) which declared that God would execute great judgments upon him, because he had not imitated his own fathers, but had followed the wicked courses of the kings of Israel; and had compelled the tribe of Judah, and the citizens of Jerusalem, to leave the holy worship of their own God, and to worship idols, as Ahab had compelled the Israelites to do, and because he had slain his brethren, and the men that were good and righteous. And the prophet gave him notice in this epistle what punishment he should undergo for these crimes, namely, the destruction of his people, with the corruption of the king's own wives and children; and that he should himself die of a distemper in his bowels, with long torments, those his bowels falling out by the violence of the inward rottenness of the parts, insomuch that, though he see his own misery, he shall not be able at all to help himself, but shall die in that manner. This it was which Elijah denounced to him in that epistle.
3. It was not long after this that an army of those Arabians that lived near to Ethiopia, and of the Philistines, fell upon the kingdom of Jehoram, and spoiled the country and the king's house. Moreover, they slew his sons and his wives: one only of his sons was left him, who escaped the enemy; his name was Ahaziah; after which calamity, he himself fell into that disease which was foretold by the prophet, and lasted a great while, (for God inflicted this punishment upon him in his belly, out of his wrath against him,) and so he died miserably, and saw his own bowels fall out. The people also abused his dead body; I suppose it was because they thought that such his death came upon him by the wrath of God, and that therefore he was not worthy to partake of such a funeral as became kings. Accordingly, they neither buried him in the sepulchers of his fathers, nor vouchsafed him any honors, but buried him like a private man, and this when he had lived forty years, and reigned eight. And the people of Jerusalem delivered the government to his son Ahaziah.