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and contempt. Another Samuel had already raised another David* to fill the throne of Solomon, while he yet lived ; and his own servant was “to reign according to all that his soul desired, and to be king over Israel in his stead :” for “ the Lord said unto Solomon, I will surely rend thy kingdom from thee, and give it to thy servant."
Accordingly, the divine denunciation against his race by the mouth of the priesthood, constituted the last sounds that blasted the ear of the dying king, ere he slept “ with his fathers.” The priesthood had abandoned him, and the requiem raised over “ the tomb of David,” ere it closed upon his gorgeous son, was that war-cry of an emancipated nation, “ to your tents, oh Israel !"
“ The people abhorred him.” Ten of the tribes simultaneously abandoned his house, two only remaining faithful ; “ and that not for his sake, but for David his father's sake !"
The kingdom of Israel, torn by civil wars, was thus rent in twain ; a sanguinary prelude to successive captivities, and to the utter dispersion of its people. But what was it that effected all this? Who caused this mightiest revolution in the life and character of any human being on record ? What unholy alliance of jealous kings perpetrated the fall of him, greater than all kings ? What conspiracy of mighty men within his own dominions hurled this wisest of all men from his acmé of intellectual supremacy? The inspired author who wrote the chronicles of those times, and the lay historian who preserved the traditions of his own nation, have alike declared that Solomon, the greatest and wisest of men, fell—not by the physical or moral force of man, but by woman : it was the servant who overthrew the master, it was the slave who dethroned the sovereign !—it was the idolatress who prostrated the royal pontiff
, the most zealous votarist of Jehovah, before the altar of Ashtaroth, the goddess of the Zidonians.”
* Elijah, the prophet, met the young and brave Jeroboam as he went out of Jerusalem, and when they two were alone in the field," prophesied to him. “Behold I rend the kingdom out of the hands of Solomon, and will give it to thee.” This recalls a similar incident in the lives of Saul and David.-Kings, chap. xi. v. i.
The Women of the Hebrews on the separation of Israel and Judah.
WHEN Moses in his prophetic spirit foretold that the restless tribes (which he found it so arduous to lead, so difficult to control) would eventually change the form of their spiritual government into one purely temporal, he drew for them that model of a constitutional monarchy, which, whether borrowed from the wisdom of Egypt, or originated in his own, represented in its principle the chief magistracy of a commonwealth, rather than the irresponsible power
of absolutism. He commanded the Hebrews never to admit of a foreign power over them, but to " choose one from their own brethren,” one who “ should not lift up his heart above his own brethren,” « nor multiply to himself wives, nor silver, nor gold."* tioned them against their tendency to Polygamy, and directed his severest canons against the introduction of “strange women” into a community, that had been held together, not by power or dominion, but by the popular zeal for that sublime religion, which their own women had mainly contributed to preserve. This they had effected not only by their spiritual efforts, but by the influence of their temperament upon successive generations ; for of the purity of descent, the women alone can have true cognizance,-man must take it
That strange women would turn away the hearts of the elect to their own false gods, was the constant precept of the hierarchy, the depositaries of all knowledge, who con. sidered the influence of women over the mind of man as the leading dogma of their creed. But from Moses to Malachi, the warning was given in vain.t There were still
, in the days of Solomon, “wise women in Israel, and beautiful, among the daughters of Pales
Malachi, chap. ii.
Deuteronomy, xvii. 14, 20. VOL. I.
tine;" who, like Hannah and Bathsheba, were still worthy to serve the altar, or the throne-such women as other Elis might listen to in the Temple, and other Nathans hold counsel with " in the king's chamber.” But Solomon was not that type of a constitutional monarch, drawn by the inspired lawgiver of the Jews. He was that manner of a king,” which Samuel described, after the Oriental despotisms of the nations which surrounded Israel, a king of castes, and privileges, and representations, one who did assume unlimited power, and “ lifted his heart over his brethren,” one who, with the craft of modern diplomacy, sought alliances with ancient dynasties, careless whether their daughters worshipped at the shrine of the Theban Jupiter, or sacrificed in the sanctuary of Memphis !
He took the first and most honoured of his wives from among the worshippers of Isis; and when he placed the descendant of three hundred kings on the newly-raised throne of Israel, he paused not to consider that his union with this “ daughter of a strange god” was a union alike against the law and the prophets.
But besides his lotus-crowned lady of the Nile, (the daughter of the reigning Pharaoh, “ that spring shut up, that fountain sealed,” who sung so sweetly and so confidently,“ my beloved is mine, and I am his,”*) “ Solomon loved many other strange women,” and levied .a bondservice of youth and beauty upon every surrounding state. The Ammonites, the Edomites, the Zidonians, all contributed to fill the gilded cages of “the house of the forest of Lebanon,”—until one thousand women, (seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines) incarcerated for the caprice and pleasure of one man, established the old institute of polygamy upon its greatest extension. The harem of Solomon thus became the prototype of an evil, which still presses on the life-nerve of society, from the seraglio of the Brother of the Sun, down to the last haunt of human suffering and violence, of man's injustice, and of woman's wrongs, among the least of the British dependencies in India.t
* On this
canticle, see the Bible illustrated by Egyptian Monuments, by Dr. W. C. Taylor: a work of great interest.
+ Cutch. See Mrs. Postan's Random Sketches.
Solomon, in consideration of his faith, and his zeal, had been permitted to make “ the yoke grievous to the people,”
“ that Israel departed unto their tents,” indignantly exclaiming, “What portion had they in David's nation? had they inheritance in the son of Jesse ?” For though the king had thus forfeited the political sympathy of the people, the powerful hierarchy still clung to the son of David, the founder of the Temple of Jerusalem : nor did they desert him until the epoch when “ his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and cleaving unto them in love,” he became the proselyte of the “ strange women” whose persons he had enslaved, but whose minds he could not subdue.
Within view of his own temple, Solomon “ built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Moloch, the abomination of the children of Ammon :" thus “ did he likewise for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” It was then that the women, “the strange women," in defiance of the sacerdotal power that had denounced them, and of the irresponsible despotism that had degraded them, wrenched a poetical justice from the very institute by which they were outraged. The victims of polygamy avenged themselves through polygamy; and these worshippers of strange gods, by abusing their influence, betrayed to destruction the founder of the Temple of the “one and only true God.” Separated from home, country, kindred, they still clung to their own religion, which, false as it was, was their mother's faith, -imbibed with the first nutriment drawn from their mother's bosom, and interwoven with all their indestructi. ble affections, and earliest associations ; and Israel thus fell through the frailty of him, who had raised it to its highest pinnacle of glory—fell never again to be restored to its original brightness, to its unity, and integrity.
The spiritual halo which had hung over it a light, even in the darkest times, melted away; its successive struggles were no longer between mind and matter, the spirit and the flesh—the priest and priestess against the unimpressionable masses of a stiff-necked people, who worshipped now a God, and now a calf !-It was brute force, against brute force. Absolute despotism had destroyed public spirit, and given a new turn to the genius and the fortunes of the nation ; and, from that time, its history is summed up in a succession of wars (often without national object, and always disorganizing)—wars, merciless and degrading -carried on with disgusting cruelties, and ending in inglorious captivities, or followed by contemptible and temporary restorations.
In such contests, founded in the worst passions, and perpetrated by the worst means (fanaticism and treason), the moral agency of which woman had so long been the impersonation, was rarely applicable or called for; and from the decline of the sacerdotal power, (the power, in those remote times, of an exclusive knowledge over widely diffused ignorance) and from the subsequent establishment of military despotism, the women of the Hebrews came forth more rarely and less efficiently, than in the antique times of their remote and simpler history. They withered under the vices which the Jewish monarchies borrowed from the Asiatic nations ; they were crushed in the conflict between a persecuting priesthood and a schismatic people; and they were not necessary in those sanguinary events, which filled up the measure of the “ tribulation of Israel," and her crimes. Yet still, whenever they do appear, as queens, stateswomen, champions, or patriots, they come forth in illuminated characters, brightening the page they occupy ; sometimes indeed sharing the crimes of the men, but oftener surpassing them in intellectual device, and fearless volitions.
Even the characters of the dauntless and guilty queen of Ahab, king of Israel, the anathematized Jezebel and her immortal daughter Athaliah, held forth by the Jewish priesthood, for the express execration of their own times, and of posterity,-bold and bad as they were, still rose superior to the weak and wicked men who surrounded and opposed them.
The powerful king of Israel, Ahab, returning home “heavy and displeased,” because he had been frustrated in an act of puerile despotism, by the sturdy independence of Naboth, who refused to part with his vineyard for money, Jezebel meets her royal husband with a wife's anxiety, and a woman's quick perception, and asks,