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some claim to his reputation of communicating high thoughts to his readers; but the assertion that historians, in general, have been the true friends of virtue, will be rejected by all except the credulous, or the indifferent.
We have only one national record of which the simple design is to elevate and direct the mind. Jewish history is God's illuminated clock set in the dark steeple of time. It is a man's world which common narrative describes. Actions are weighed in man's scales. The magnitude of a deed determines its character. Paul Jones is a pirate; Napoleon is a conqueror. One assassination is a murder; ten thousand deaths are glory. Yet it is supposable that, in the eyes of angels, a struggle down a dark lane and a battle of Leipsic differ in nothing but excess of wickedness.*
THE UTILITY OF EPITOMES.-Lord Bacon denounced abridgments with eloquent anger. But who can traverse all history? When Johnson was asked by Boswell if he should read Du Halde's account of China, he said, "Why, yes, as one reads such books-that is to say, consult it." Of many large volumes the index is the best portion and the usefullest. A glance through the casement gives whatever knowledge of the interior is needful. An epitome is only a book shortened; and, as a general rule, the worth increases as the size lessens. There is truth in Young's comparison of elaborate compilations to the iron money of Lycurgus, of which the weight was so enormous, and the value so trifling, that a yoke of oxen only drew five hundred pounds sterling. The lives of nations, as of individuals, concentrate their lustre and interest in a few passages. Certain episodes must be selected; such as the ages of Pericles and Augustus, Elizabeth and Leo, Louis XIV and Charles V. Sometimes a particular chapter embraces the wonders of a century; as the feudal system, the dawn of discovery, and the printing press. The fragments should be bound together by a connecting line of knowledge, however slender, encircling the whole field of inquiries. The regal, the ecclesiastical, and the commercial elements are to be combined. The visitor must not spend his leisure in the Coliseum, to the exclusion of St. Peter's; nor think himself familiar with London, unless he goes to the Exchange.*
MEANING OF THE WORD "HISTORY."-The word "History," which etymologically means "inquiry" or "research," and which has many slightly differing uses, is attached in modern parlance pre-eminently and especially to accounts of the rise, progress, and affairs of nations. The consideration of man, prior to the formation of political communities and apart from them, belongs to natural history—and especially to that branch of it which is called anthropology-but not to history proper. History proper is the history of states or nations, both in respect of their internal affairs, and in regard to their dealings one with another. Under the former head, one of the most important branches is constitutional history, or the history of governments; under the latter are included not only accounts of the wars, but likewise of the friendly relations of the different states, and of their commercial or other intercourse.†
DIVISIONS OF HISTORY.-History proper is usually divided either into two, or into three, portions. If the triple division is adopted, the portions are called respectively, “Ancient History," "the History of the Middle Ages," and "Modern History." If the twofold division is preferred, the middle portion is suppressed, and history is regarded as falling under the two heads of "Ancient" and "Modern."+
ASIA.-Asia is the largest of the three great divisions of the eastern hemisphere. Regarding it as separated from
*Willmott's "Pleasures of Literature." Rawlinson's "Ancient History,"
Africa by the Red Sea and Isthmus of Suez, and from Europe by the Ural mountains, the Ural river, the Caspian sea, and the main chain of the Caucasus, its superficial contents will amount to 17,500,000 square miles, whereas those of Africa are less than 12,000,000, and those of Europe do not exceed 3,800,000. In climate it unites greater varieties than either of the two other divisions, extending as it does from the seventy-eighth degree of north latitude to within a hundred miles of the equator. It thus lies mainly within the northern temperate zone, but projects northward a distance of eleven degrees beyond the arctic circle, while southward it throws into the region of the tropics three long and broad peninsulas.*
THE GREAT PLAINS IN ASIA.-The physical conformation of Western Asia is favourable to the growth of large empires. In the vast plain which extends from the foot of Niphates and Zagros to the Persian gulf, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean, there are no natural fastnesses; and the race which is numerically or physically superior to the other races inhabiting it readily acquires dominion over the entire region. Similarly, only not quite to the same extent, in the upland region which succeeds to the plain upon the east, there is a deficiency of natural barriers, and the nation which once begins to excel its neighbors, rapidly extends its influence over a wide stretch of territory. The upland and lowland powers are generally pretty evenly balanced, and maintain a struggle in which neither side gives way; but occasionally the equality becomes deranged. Circumstances give to the one or to the other additional strength; and the result is, that its rival is overpowered. Then an empire of still greater extent is formed, both upland and lowland falling under the sway of the same people.*
ASIATIC EMPIRES.-Some variety is observable in the internal organization of the empires. In the remoter times it was regarded as sufficient to receive the personal submission of the monarch whose land was conquered, to assess his tribute at a certain amount, and then to leave him in the unmolested enjoyment of his former dignity. The head of the empire was thus a "king of kings," and the empire itself was an aggregation of kingdoms. After a while an improvement was made on the simplicity of this early system. Satraps, or provincial governors, court officials belonging to the conquering nation, and holding their office only during the good pleasure of the great king, were substituted for the native monarchs; and arrangements, more or less complicated, were devised for checking and controlling them in the exercise of their authority. The power of the head of the empire was thus considerably increased; and the empire acquired a stability unknown under the previous system. Uniformity of administration was to a certain extent secured. At the same time, a very great diversity underlay this external uniformity, since the conquered nations were suffered to retain their own language, religion, and usages. No effort was made even to interfere with their laws; and thus the provinces continued, after the lapse of centuries, as separate and distinct in tone, feeling, ideas, and aspirations, as at the time when they were conquered. The sense of separateness was never lost; the desire of recovering national independence, at best, slumbered; nothing was wanted but opportunity to stir up the dormant feeling, and to shatter the seeming unity of the empire into a thousand fragments.*
CONQUEST THE BASIS OF EMPIRE.-The Asiatic empires were always founded upon conquest; and conquest implies the possession of military qualities in the victors, superior, at any rate, to those of the vanquished nations. Usually the
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History,”
conquering people were at first simple in their habits, brave, hardy, and comparatively speaking, poor. The immediate consequence of their victory was the exchange of poverty for riches; and riches usually brought in their train the evils of luxurious living and idleness. The conquerors rapidly deteriorated under such influences; and, if it had not been for the common practice of confining the use of arms, either wholly or mainly, to their own class, they might, in a very few generations, have had to change places with their subjects. Even in spite of this practice they continually decreased in courage and warlike spirit. The monarchs usually became fainéants,* and confined themselves to the precincts of the palace. The nobles left off altogether the habit of athletic exercise. Military expeditions grew to be infrequent. When they became a necessity in consequence of revolt or of border ravages, the deficiences of the native troops had to be supplied by the employment of foreign mercenaries, who cared nothing for the cause in which their swords were drawn. Meanwhile, the conquerors were apt to quarrel among themselves. Great satraps would revolt and change their governments into independent sovereignties. Pretenders to the crown would start up among the monarch's nearest relatives, and the strength and resources of the state would be wasted in civil conflicts. The extortion of provincial governors exhausted the provinces, while the corruption of the court weakened the empire at its centre. Still, the tottering edifice would stand for years, or even for centuries, if there was no attack from abroad, by a mere vis inertiæ; but, sooner or later, such an attack was sure to come, and then the unsubstantial fabric gave way at once and crumbled to dust under a few blows vigorously dealt by a more warlike nation.†
THE FIRST ASIATIC MONARCHY.-The earliest of the Asiatic monarchies sprang up in the alluvial plain at the head of the Persian gulf. Here Moses places the first "Kingdom" (Gen. x. 10); and here Berosus; regarded a Chaldean monarchy as established probably as early as B. C. 2000. The Hebrew records give Nimrod as the founder of this kingdom, and exhibit Chedorlaomer as lord paramount in the region not very long afterwards. The names of the kings in the lists of Berosus are lost; but we are told that he mentioned by name forty-nine Chaldean monarchs, whose reigns covered a space of 458 years from about B. C. 2000 to about B. C. 1543. The primeval monuments of the country have yielded memorials of fifteen or sixteen kings, who probably belonged to this early period. They were at any rate the builders of the most ancient edifices now existing in the country; and their date is long anterior to the time of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar. The phonetic reading of these monumental names is too uncertain to justify their insertion here. It will be sufficient to give, from Berosus, an outline of the dynasties which ruled in Chaldea, from about B. C. 2000 to 747, the era of Nabonassar:Chaldean Dynasty, ruling for 458 years
(Kings: Nimrod, Chedorlaomer.) Arabian dynasty, ruling for 245 years Dynasty of forty-five kings, ruling for 526 years
Reign of Pul (say 25 years)
about B. C. 2001 to 1543. about B. C. 1543 to 1298.
abont B. C. 1298 to 772 about B. C. 772 to 747.
during this period After the Chaldeans
Berosus, it will be observed, marks two, if not three changes of dynasty. have borne sway for 458 years, they are succeeded by Arabs,
*Good for nothings, like the fainéant kings of France, who gave the reins of government into the hands of the Mayors of the palace. Therry III was the first of them.
+Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
A Babylonian historian of the third century before Christ. He was a priest of Belus,
who hold the dominion for 245 years, when they too are superseded by a race, not named, but probably Assyrian, This race bears rule for 526 years, and then Pul ascends the throne, and reigns for a term of years not stated. (Pul is called "King of Assyria” in scripture; but this may be an inexactness. He is not to be found among the Assyrian monumental kings.) These changes of dynasty mark changes of condition. Under the first or Chaldean dynasty, and under the last monarch, Pul, the country was flourishing and free. The second dynasty was probably, and the third certainly, established by conquest. Chaldea, during the 526 years of the third dynasty, was of secondary importance to Assyria, and though from time to time engaged in wars with the dominant power of western Asia, was in the main submissive and even subject. The names of six kings belonging to this dynasty have been recovered from the Assyrian monuments. Among them is a Nebuchadnezzar, while the majority commence with the name of the God Merodach.*
The Chaldean monarchy had from the first an architectural character. Babylon, Erech or Orchoe, Accad, and Calneh, were founded by Nimrod. Ur was from an early date a city of importance. The attempt to build a tower "which should reach to Heaven," made here (Gen. xi. 4), was in accordance with the general spirit of the Chaldean people. Out of such simple and rude materials as brick and bitumen vast edifices were constructed, pyramidal in design, but built in steps or stages of considerable altitude. Other arts also flourished. Letters were in use; and the baked bricks employed by the royal builders had commonly a legend in their centre. Gems were cut, polished, and engraved with representations of human forms, portrayed with spirit. Metals of many kinds were worked, and fashioned into arms, ornaments and implements. Textile fabrics of a delicate tissue were manufactured. Commerce was carried on with the neighbouring nations both by land and sea: the "ships of Ur" visiting the shores of the Persian gulf, and perhaps those of the ocean beyond it. The study of astronomy commenced, and observations of the heavenly bodies were made, and carefully recorded.
According to Simplicius, these observations reached back a period of 1903 years when Alexander entered Babylon. This would make them commence B. C. 2234.*
FIRST PERIOD.-The traces which we possess of the first period are chiefly monumental. The Assyrian inscriptions furnish two lists-one of three, and the other of four consecutive kings-which belong probably to this early time. The seat of empire is at first Asshur (now Kileh Sherghat), on the right bank of the Tigris, about sixty miles below Nineveh. Some of the kings are connected by intermarriage with the Chaldean monarchs of the period, and take part in the struggles of pretenders to the Chaldean crown. One of them, Shalmaneser I, wars in the mountain-chain of Niphates, and plants cities in that region (about B. C. 1270). This monarch also builds Calah (Nimrud), forty miles north of Asshur, on the left or east bank of the river.*
SECOND PERIOD.-The second period is evidently that of which Herodotus+ spoke as lasting for 520 years, from about B. C. 1260 to 740. It commenced with the conquest of Babylon by Tiglathi-nin (probably the original of the Greek "Ninus") and it terminated with the new dynasty established by Tiglath-pileser II. The monuments furnished for the ear
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
+A Greek historian of the fifth century before Christ, called the Father of History.
lier portion of this period some nine or ten discontinuous royal names, while for the later portion they supply a complete consecutive list, and an exact chronology. The exact chronology begins with the year B. C. 909.*
The great king of the earlier portion of the second period is a certain Tiglath-pileser, who has left a long historical inscription, which showed that he carried his arms deep into Mount Zagros on the one hand, and as far as northern Syria on the other. He likewise made an expedition into Babylonia. Date, about B. C. 1130. His son was also a warlike prince; but from about B. C. 1100 to 900 Assyrian history is still almost a blank; and it is probable that we have here a period of depression.*
For the latter portion of the second period-from B. C. 909 to 745-the chronology is exact, and the materials for history are abundant. In this period Calah became the capital, and several of the palaces and temples were erected which have been disinterred at Nimrud. The Assyrian monarchs carried their arms beyond Zagros, and came into contact with Medes and Persians; they deeply penetrated Armenia; and they pressed from northern into southern Syria, and imposed their yoke upon the Phoenicians, the kingdom of Damascus, and the kingdom of Israel. The names of Benhadad, Hazael, Ahab, and Jehu are common to the Assyrian and Hebrew records. Toward the close of the period, the kings became slothful and unwarlike, military expeditions ceased, or were conducted only to short distances and against insignificant enemies.*
The Assyrian art of the second shows a great advance upon that of the first period. Magnificent palaces were built, richly embellished with bas-reliefs. Sculpture was rigid, but bold and grand. Literature was more cultivated. The history of each reign was written by contemporary annalists, and cut on stone, or impressed on cylinders of baked clay. Engraved stelæ+ were erected in all the countries under Assyrian rule. Considerable communication took place with foreign countries; and Bactrian camels, baboons, curious antelopes, elephants, and rhinoceroses were imported into Assyria from the east.*
THIRD PERIOD.-In the third period the Assyrian empire reached the height of its greatness under the dynasty of the Sargonidæ, after which it fell suddenly, owing to blows received from two powerful foes. The period commenced with a revival of the military spirit and vigor of the nation under Tiglath-pileser II, the king of that name mentioned in Scripture. Distant expeditions were resumed, and the arms of Assyria carried into new regions. Egypt was attacked and reduced; Susiana was subjected; and in Asia Minor Taurus was crossed, Cappadocia invaded, and relations established with the Lydian monarch, Gyges. Naval expeditions were undertaken both in the Mediterranean and in the Persian gulf. Cyprus submitted, and the Assyrian monarchs numbered Greeks among their subjects. All the kings of the period came into contact with the Jews, and the names of most of them appear in the Hebrew records. Towards the close of the period the empire sustained a severe shock from the sudden invasion of vast hordes of Scythians from the north. Before it could recover from the prostration caused by this attack, its old enemy, Media, fell upon it, and, assisted by Babylon, effected its destruction.*
ASSYRIAN CIVILIZATION.-Assyrian art attained to its greatest perfection during this last period. Palaces were built by Tiglath-pileser II, at Calah, by Sargon at Sargina
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
(Khorsabad), by Sennacherib at Nineveh, and Esar-haddon at Calah and Nineveh, by Sardanapalus II at Nineveh, and by Saracus at Calah. Glyptic art advanced, especially under Sardanapalus, when the animal forms were executed with a naturalness and a spirit worthy of the Greeks. the same time carving in ivory, metallurgy, modelling, and other similar arts made much progress. An active commerce united Assyria with Phoenicia, Egypt, and Greece. Learning of various kinds-astronomic, geographic, linguistic, historical-was pursued; and stores were accumulated which will long exercise the ingenuity of the moderns.*
PRIMITIVE HISTORY.-The primitive history of the Medes is enveloped in great obscurity. The mention of them as Madai in Genesis (x. 2), and the statement of Berosus that importance in very ancient times. they furnished an early dynasty to Babylon, imply their But scarcely anything
is known of them till the ninth century B. C., when they were attacked in their own proper country, Media Magna, by the Assyrians (about B. C. 830). At this time they were under the government of numerous petty chieftains, and offered but a weak resistance to the arms of the Assyrian monarchs. No part of their country, however, was reduced to subjection until the time of Sargon, who conquered some Median territory about B. C. 710, and planted it with cities in which he placed his Israelite captives. The subsequent Assyrian monarchs made further conquests; and it is evident from their records that no great Median monarchy had arisen down to the middle of the seventh century B. C.*
The earliest date which, with our present knowledge, we can assign for the commencement of a great Median monarchy is B. C. 650. The monarchs assigned by Herodotus and Ctesiast to a time anterior to this may conceivably have been chiefs of petty Median tribes, but were certainly not heads of the whole nation. The probability is that they are fictitious personages. Suspicion attaches especially to the list of Ctesias, which appears to have been formed by an intentional duplication of the regnal and other periods mentioned by Herodotus.*
There is reason to believe that about B. C. 650, or a little later, the Medes of Media Magna were largely reinforced by fresh immigrants from the east, and that shortly afterward they were enabled to take an aggressive attitude towards Assyria, such as had previously been quite beyond their power. In B. C. 633-according to Herodotus-they attacked Nineveh, but were completely defeated, their leader, whom he calls Phraortes, being slain in the battle. Soon after this occurred the Scythian inroad, which threw the Medes upon the defensive, and hindered them from resuming their schemes of conquest for several years. But, when this danger had passed, they once more invaded the Assyrian empire in force. Nineveh was invested and fell. Media upon this became the leading power of western Asia, but was not the sole power, since the spoils of Assyria were divided between her and Babylon.*
MEDIAN CIVILIZATION.-Less is known of Median art and civilization than of Assyrian, Babylonian, or Persian. Their architecture appears to have possessed a barbaric magnificence, but not much of either grandeur or beauty. The great palace at Ecbatana was of wood, plated with gold and silver. After the conquest of Nineveh, luxurious hab
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
+A Greek physician, contemporary with Xenophon, who is said to have resided seventeen years in Persia. He wrote a valuable work
on Persian history, and a work on India,
its were adopted from the Assyrians, and the court of Astyages was probably as splendid as that of Esarhaddon and Sardanapalus. The chief known peculiarity of the Median kingdom was the ascendancy exercised in it by the Magia priestly caste claiming supernatural powers, which had, apparently, been adopted into their nation.*
science of the Babylonians was not pure, but was largely mixed with astrology,+ more especially in the later times.*
ASSYRIANS AT BABYLON.-After the conquest of Babylonia by the Assyrians, about B. C. 1250, an Assyrian dynasty was established at Babylon, and the country was, in general, content to hold a secondary position in western Asia, acknowledging the suzerainty of the Ninevite kings. From time to time efforts were made to shake off the yoke, but without much success till the accession of Nabonassar, B. C. 747. Under Nabonassar and several of his successors Babylonia appears to have been independent; and this condition of independence continued, with intervals of subjection, down to the accession of Esarhaddon, B. C. 680, when Assyrian supremacy was once more established. Babylon then continued in a subject position, till the time when Nabopolassar made alliance with Cyaxares, joined in the last siege of Nineveh, and, when Nineveh fell, became independent, B. C. 625.*
SECOND PERIOD.-During the second period, Babylonia was not only an independent kingdom, but was at the head of an empire. Nabopolassar and Cyaxares divided the Assyrian dominions between them, the former obtaining for his share Susiana, the Euphrates valley, Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine. A brilliant period followed. At first, indeed, the new empire was threatened by Egypt; and for a few years the western provinces were actually held in subjection by Pharoah-Nechoh; but Babylon now roused herself, defeated Nechoh, recovered her territory, and carrying her arms through Palestine into Egypt, chastised the aggressor on his own soil. From this time till the invasion of Cyrus the empire continued to flourish, but became gradually less and less warlike, and offered poor resistance to the Persians.* BABYLONIAN CIVILIZATION.-The architectural works of
the Babylonians, more especially under Nebuchadnezzar, were of surpassing grandeur. The "hanging gardens" of that prince, and the walls with which he surrounded Babylon, were reckoned among the seven wonders of the world. The materials used were the same as in the early Chaldean times, sunburnt and burnt brick; but the baked now preponderated. The ornamentation of buildings was by bricks of different hues, or sometimes by a plating of precious metal, or by enamelling. By means of the last-named process, war-scenes and hunting-scenes were represented on the walls of palaces, which are said to have been life-like and spirited. Temple-towers were still built in stages, which now sometimes reached the number of seven. Useful works of great magnitude were also constructed by some of the kings, especially by Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonadius, such as canals, reservoirs, embankments, sluices, and piers on the shores of the Persian gulf. Commerce flourished, and Babylon was reckoned emphatically a "City of Merchants." The study of astronomy was also pursued with zeal and industry. Observations were made and carefully recorded. The sky was mapped out into constellations, and the fixed stars were catalogued. Occultations of the planets by the sun and moon were noted. Time was accurately measured by means of sun-dials, and other astronomical instruments were probably invented. At the same time it must be confessed that the astronomical
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
KINGDOMS IN ASIA MINOR.
PHYSICAL FORMATION.-The geographical formation of Asia Minor, which separates it into a number of distinct and isolated regions, was probably the main reason why it did not in early times become the seat of a great empire. The near equality of strength that existed among several of the races by which it was inhabited—as the Phrygians, the Lydians, the Carians, the Cilicians, the Paphlagonians, and the Cappadocians-would tend naturally in the same direction, and lead to the formation of several parallel kingdoms Nevertheless, instead of a single and all-embracing one. ultimately, such a great kingdom did grow up; but it had only just been formed when it was subverted by one more powerful.*
PHOENICIA, notwithstanding the small extent of its territory, which consisted of a mere strip of land between the crest of Lebanon and the sea, was one of the most important countries of the ancient world. In her the commercial spirit first showed itself as the dominant spirit of a nation. She was the carrier between the east and the west-the link that bound them together-in times anterior to the first appearance of the Greeks as navigators. No complete history of Phoenicia has come down to us, nor can a continuous history be constructed; but some important fragments remain, and the general condition of the country, alternating between subjection and independence, is ascertained sufficiently.*
The geographical position of the Phoenician colonies marks the chief lines of their trade, but is far from indicating its full extent; since the most distant of these settlements served as starting-points whence voyages were made to remoter regions. Phoenician merchant-men proceeding from Gades and Tartessus explored the western coast of Africa, and obtained tin from Cornwall and the Scilly Islands, The traders of Tylus and Aradus extended their voyages beyond the Persian gulf to India and Taprobane, or Ceylon. Phoenician navigators, starting from Elath in the Red Sea, procured gold from Ophir, on the south-eastern coast of AraThasos and the neighboring islands furnished convenient stations from which the Euxine could be visited and commercial relations established with Thrace, Scythia, and Colchis. Some have supposed that the North Sea was crossed and the Baltic entered in quest of amber; but the balance of evidence is on the whole against this extreme hypothesis."
The Phoenician commerce was chiefly a carrying trade; but there were also a few productions of their own in which their traffic was considerable. The most famous of these was the purple dye, which they obtained from two shellfish, the buccinum and the murex, and by the use of which they gave a high value to their textile fabrics. Another was glass, whereof they claimed the discovery, and which they manufactured into various articles of use and ornament. They were also skillful in metallurgy; and their bronzes, their gold and silver vessels, and other works in metal, had a high repute. Altogether, they have a claim to be considered one of the most ingenious of the nations of
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
This is not strange, since the same may be said of most European nations until within a comparatively late period. The first lunar tables calculated according to the Newtonian theory were intended for use in calculating "nativities."
antiquity, though we must not ascribe to them the inven-head, or acknowledged subjugation to a foreign conqueror. tion of letters or the possession of any remarkable artistic talent.*
When there was no head, the hereditary chiefs of tribes and families seem to have exercised jurisdiction and authority over the different districts.*
SECOND PERIOD.-The second period of the Jewish state
SYRIA, prior to its formation into a Persian satrapy, had at no time any political unity. During the Assyrian period it was divided into at least five principal states, some of │| comprises three reigns only-those of Saul, David, and Solwhich were mere loose confederacies.*
Of these states the one which was, if not the most power
ful, yet at any rate the most generally known, was Syria of Damascus. The city itself was as old as the time of Abraham. The state, which was powerful enough, about B. C. 1000, to escape absorption into the empire of Solomon, continued to enjoy independence down to the time of Tiglath-pileser II, and was a formidable neighbor to the Jewish and Israelite monarchs. After the capture by Tiglath-pileser, about B. C. 732, a time of great weakness and depression ensued. One or two feeble attempts at revolt were easily crushed; after which, for a while, Damascus wholly disappears from history.*
COMPLETENESS OF JEWISH HISTORY.-The history of the Jews and Israelites is known to us in completer se
omon. Each of these was regarded as having lasted exactly forty years; and thus the entire duration of the single monarchy was reckoned at 120 years. The progress of the nation during this brief space is most remarkable. When Saul ascends the throne the condition of the people is but little advanced beyond the point which was reached when the tribes under Joshua took possession of the promised land. Pastoral and agricultural occupations still engross the attention of the Israelites; simple habits prevail; there is no wealthy class; the monarch, like the judges, has no court, no palace, no extraordinary retinue; he is still little more than leader in war, and chief judge in time of peace. Again, externally, the nation is as weak as ever. The Ammonites on one side, and the Philistines on the other, ravage its territory at their pleasure; and the latter people have encroached largely upon the Israelite borders, and reduced the Israelites to such a point that they have no arms, offensive or defensive, nor even any workers in iron. Under Solomon, on the contrary, within a century of this
quence and in greater detail than that of any other people time of weakness, the Israelites have become the paramount
of equal antiquity, from the circumstance that there has been preserved to our day so large a portion of their literature. The Jews became familiar with writing during their sojourn in Egypt, if not even earlier; and kept records of the chief events in their national life from that time almost uninterruptedly. From the sacred character which attached to many of their historical books, peculiar care was taken of them; and the result is that they have come down to us nearly in their original form. Besides this, a large body of their ancient poesy is still extant, and thus it becomes possible to describe at length, not merely the events of their civil history, but their manners, customs, and modes of thought.*
The history of the Jewish state commences with the Exodus which is variously dated at B. C. 1652 (Poole), B. C. 1491 (Usher), or B. C. 1320 (Bunsen, Lepsius). The long chronology is, on the whole, to be preferred. We may conveniently divide the history into three periods.* Periods.
I. From the Exodus to the establishment of the monarchy
II. From the establishment of the monarchy to the separation into two kingdoms
III.-From the separation of the kingdoms to the captivity under Nebuchadnezzar
FIRST PERIOD.-During the first period the Jews regarded themselves as under a theocracy; or, in other words, the policy of the nation was directed in all difficult crises by a reference to the divine will, which there was a recognized mode of consulting. The earthly ruler, or rather leader, of the nation, did not aspire to the name or position of king, but was content to lead the nation in war and judge it in peace from a position but a little elevated above that of the mass of the people. He obtained his office neither by hereditary descent nor by election, but was supernaturally designated to it by a revelation to himself or to another, and exercised it with the general consent, having no means of compelling obedience. When once his authority was acknowledged, he retained it during the remainder of his life; but it did not always extend over the whole nation. When he died, he was not always succeeded immediately by another similar ruler; on the contrary, there was often a considerable interval during which the nation had either no
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History."
race in Syria. An empire has been formed which reaches from the Euphrates at Thapsacus to the Red sea and the borders of Egypt. Numerous monarchs are tributary to the great king who reigns at Jerusalem; vast sums in gold and silver flow into the treasury; magnificent edifices are constructed; trade is established both with the east and with the west; the court of Jerusalem vies in splendor with those of Nineveh and Memphis; luxury has invaded the country; a seraglio on the largest scale has been formed; and the power and greatness of the prince has become oppressive to the bulk of the people. Such a rapid growth was necessarily exhaustive of the nation's strength; and the decline of the Israelites as a people dates from the division of the kingdoms.*
THE FIRST KING.—Saul, divinely pointed out to Samuel, is anointed by him, and afterwards accepted by the people upon the casting of lots. He is remarkable for his comeliness and lofty stature. In his first year he defeats the Ammonites, who had overrun the land of Gilead. He then makes war on the Philistines, and gains the great victory of Michmash; from which time till near the close of his reign the Philistines remain upon the defensive. He also attacks the Amalekites, the Moabites, the Edomites, and the Syrians of Zobah. In the Amalekite war he offends God by disobedience, and thereby forfeits his right to the kingdom. Samuel, by divine command, anoints David, who is thenceforth an object of jealousy and hatred to the reigning monarch, but is protected by Jonathan, his son. Toward the close of Saul's reign the Philistines once more assume the offensive, under Achish, king of Gath, and at Mount Gilboa defeat the Israelites under Saul. Saul, and all his sons but one (Ishbosheth), fall in the battle.*
THE KINGDOM DIVIDED.-A temporary division of the kingdom follows the death of Saul. Ishbosheth, conveyed across the Jordan by Abner, is acknowledged as ruler in Gilead, and after five years, during which his authority is extended over all the tribes except Judah, is formally crowned as king of Israel at Mahanaim. He reigns there two years, when he is murdered. Meanwhile David is made king by his own tribe, Judah, and reigns at Hebron.*
*Rawlinson's "Ancient History,"