The Antiquities of the Jews
Flavius Josephus

Part 24 out of 26

(7) It seems to me not improbable that these seventy guests of
Samuel, as here, with himself at the head of them, were a Jewish
sanhedrim, and that hereby Samuel intimated to Saul that these
seventy-one were to be his constant counselors, and that he was
to act not like a sole monarch, but with the advice and direction
of these seventy-one members of that Jewish sanhedrim upon all
occasions, which yet we never read that he consulted afterward.

(8) An instance of this Divine fury we have after this in Saul,
ch. 5. sect. 2, 3; 1 Samuel 11:6. See the like, Judges 3:10;
6:34; 11:29; 13:25; and 14:6.

(9) Take here Theodoret's note, cited by Dr. Hudson: - "He that
exposes his shield to the enemy with his left hand, thereby hides
his left eye, and looks at the enemy with his right eye: he
therefore that plucks out that eye, makes men useless in war."

(10) Mr. Reland observes here, and proves elsewhere in his note
on Antiq. B. III. ch. 1. sect. 6, that although thunder and
lightning with us usually happen in summer, yet in Palestine and
Syria they are chiefly confined to winter. Josephus takes notice
of the same thing again, War, B. IV. ch. 4. sect. 5.

(11) Saul seems to have staid till near the time of the evening
sacrifice, on the seventh day, which Samuel the prophet of God
had appointed him, but not till the end of that day, as he ought
to have done; and Samuel appears, by delaying to come to the full
time of the evening sacrifice on that seventh day, to have tried
him (who seems to have been already for some time declining from
his strict and bounden subordination to God and his prophet; to
have taken life-guards for himself and his son, which was
entirely a new thing in Israel, and savored of a distrust of
God's providence; and to have affected more than he ought that
independent authority which the pagan kings took to themselves);
Samuel, I say, seems to have here tried Saul whether he would
stay till the priest came, who alone could lawfully offer the
sacrifices, nor would boldly and profanely usurp the priest's
office, which he venturing upon, was justly rejected for his
profaneness. See Apost. Constit. B. II. ch. 27. And, indeed,
since Saul had accepted kingly power, which naturally becomes
ungovernable and tyrannical, as God foretold, and the experience
of all ages has shown, the Divine settlement by Moses had soon
been laid aside under the kings, had not God, by keeping strictly
to his laws, and severely executing the threatenings therein
contained, restrained Saul and other kings in some degree of
obedience to himself; nor was even this severity sufficient to
restrain most of the future kings of Israel and Judah from the
grossest idolatry and impiety. Of the advantage of which
strictness, in the observing Divine laws, and inflicting their
threatened penalties, see Antiq. B. VI. ch. 12. sect. 7; and
Against Apion, B. II. sect. 30, where Josephus speaks of that
matter; though it must be noted that it seems, at least in three
instances, that good men did not always immediately approve of
such Divine severity. There seems to be one instance, 1 Samuel
6:19, 20; another, 1 Samuel 15:11; and a third, 2 Samuel 6:8, 9;
Antiq. B. VI. ch. 7. sect. 2; though they all at last acquiesced
in the Divine conduct, as knowing that God is wiser than men.

(12) By this answer of Samuel, and that from a Divine commission,
which is fuller in l Samuel 13:14, and by that parallel note in
the Apostolical Constitutions just now quoted, concerning the
great wickedness of Saul in venturing, even under a seeming
necessity of affairs, to usurp the priest's office, and offer
sacrifice without the priest, we are in some degree able to
answer that question, which I have ever thought a very hard one,
viz. Whether, if there were a city or country of lay Christians
without any clergymen, it were lawful for the laity alone to
baptize, or celebrate the eucharist, etc., or indeed whether they
alone could ordain themselves either bishops, priests, or
deacons, for the due performance of such sacerdotal
ministrations; or whether they ought not rather, till they
procure clergymen to come among them, to confine themselves
within those bounds of piety and Christianity which belong alone
to the laity; such particularly as are recommended in the first
book of the Apostolical Constitutions, which peculiarly concern
the laity, and are intimated in Clement's undoubted epistle,
sect. 40. To which latter opinion I incline.

(13) This rash vow or curse of Saul, which Josephus says was
confirmed by the people, and yet not executed, I suppose
principally because Jonathan did not know of it, is very
remarkable; it being of the essence of the obligation of all
laws, that they be sufficiently known and promulgated, otherwise
the conduct of Providence, as to the sacredness of solemn oaths
and vows, in God's refusing to answer by Urim till this breach of
Saul's vow or curse was understood and set right, and God
propitiated by public prayer, is here very remarkable, as indeed
it is every where else in the Old Testament.

(14) Here we have still more indications of Saul's affectation of
despotic power, and of his entrenching upon the priesthood, and
making and endeavoring to execute a rash vow or curse, without
consulting Samuel or the sanhedrim. In this view it is also that
I look upon this erection of a new altar by Saul, and his
offering of burnt-offerings himself upon it, and not as any
proper instance of devotion or religion, with other commentators.

(15) The reason of this severity is distinctly given, 1 Samuel
15:18, "Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites:" nor
indeed do we ever meet with these Amalekites but as very cruel
and bloody people, and particularly seeking to injure and utterly
to destroy the nation of Israel. See Exodus 17:8-16; Numbers
14:45; Deuteronomy 25:17-19; Judges 6:3, 6; 1 Samuel 15:33;
Psalms 83:7; and, above all, the most barbarous of all cruelties,
that of Haman the Agagite, or one of the posterity of Agag, the
old king of the Amalekites, Esther 3:1-15.

(16) Spanheim takes notice here that the Greeks had such singers
of hymns; and that usually children or youths were picked out for
that service; as also, that those called singers to the harp, did
the same that David did here, i.e. join their own vocal and
instrumental music together.

(17) Josephus says thrice in this chapter, and twice afterwards,
ch. 11. sect. 2, and B. VII. ch. 1. sect. 4, i.e. five times in
all, that Saul required not a bare hundred of the foreskins of
the Philistines, but six hundred of their heads. The Septuagint
have 100 foreskins, but the Syriac and Arabic 200. Now that these
were not foreskins, with our other copies, but heads, with
Josephus's copy, seems somewhat probable, from 1 Samuel 29:4,
where all copies say that it was with the heads of such
Philistines that David might reconcile himself to his master,

(18) Since the modern Jews have lost the signification of the
Hebrew word here used, cebr; and since the LXX., as well as
Josephus, reader it the liver of the goat, and since this
rendering, and Josephus's account, are here so much more clear
and probable than those of others, it is almost unaccountable
that our commentators should so much as hesitate about its true

(19) These violent and wild agitations of Saul seem to me to have
been no other than demoniacal; and that the same demon which used
to seize him, since he was forsaken of God, and which the divine
hymns and psalms which were sung to the harp by David used to
expel, was now in a judicial way brought upon him, not only in
order to disappoint his intentions against innocent David, but to
expose him to the laughter and contempt of all that saw him, or
heard of those agitations; such violent and wild agitations being
never observed in true prophets, when they were under the
inspiration of the Spirit of God. Our other copies, which say the
Spirit of God came him, seem not so here copy, which mentions
nothing of God at all. Nor does Josephus seem to ascribe this
impulse and ecstasy of Saul to any other than to his old
demoniacal spirit, which on all accounts appears the most
probable. Nor does the former description of Saul's real
inspiration by the Divine Spirit, 1 Samuel 10:9-12; Antiq. B. VI.
ch. 4. sect. 2, which was before he was become wicked, well agree
with the descriptions before us.

(20) What is meant by Saul's lying down naked all that day, and
all that night, 1 Samuel 19:4, and whether any more than laying
aside his royal apparel, or upper garments, as Josephus seems to
understand it, is by no means certain. See the note on Antiq. B.
VIII. ch. 14. sect. 2.

(21) This city Nob was not a city allotted to the priests, nor
had the prophets, that we know of, any particular cities allotted
them. It seems the tabernacle was now at Nob, and probably a
school of the prophets was here also. It was full two days'
journey on foot from Jerusalem, 1 Samuel 21:5. The number of
priests here slain in Josephus is three hundred and eighty-five,
and but eighty-five in our Hebrew copies; yet are they three
hundred and five in the Septuagint. I prefer Josephus's number,
the Hebrew having, I suppose, only dropped the hundreds, the
other the tens. This city Nob seems to have been the chief, or
perhaps the only seat of the family of Ithamar, which here
perished, according to God's former terrible threatenings to Eli,
1 Samuel 2:27-36; 3:11-18. See ch. 14. sect. D, hereafter.

(22) This section contains an admirable reflection of Josephus
concerning the general wickedness of men in great authority, and
the danger they are in of rejecting that regard to justice and
humanity, to Divine Providence and the fear of God, which they
either really had, or pretended to have, while they were in a
lower condition. It can never be too often perused by kings and
great men, nor by those who expect to obtain such elevated
dignities among mankind. See the like reflections of our
Josephus, Antiq. B. VII. ch. 1. sect. 5, at the end; and B. VIII.
ch. 10. sect. 2, at the beginning. They are to the like purport
with one branch of Agur's prayer: "One thing have I required of
thee, deny it me not before I die: Give me not riches, lest I be
full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ?" Proverbs 30:7-9.

(23) The phrase in David's speech to Saul, as set down in
Josephus, that he had abstained from just revenge, puts me in
mind of the like words in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VII.
ch. 2., "That revenge is not evil, but that patience is more

(24) The number of men that came first to David, are distinctly
in Josephus, and in our common copies, but four hundred. When he
was at Keilah still but four hundred, both in Josephus and in the
LXXX.; but six hundred in our Hebrew copies, 1 Samuel 23:3; see
30:9, 10. Now the six hundred there mentioned are here estimated
by Josephus to have been so many, only by an augmentation of two
hundred afterward, which I suppose is the true solution of this
seeming disagreement.

(25) In this and the two next sections, we may perceive how
Josephus, nay, how Abigail herself, would understand, the "not
avenging ourselves, but heaping coals of fire on the head of the
injurious," Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20, not as we do now, of
them into but of leaving them to the judgment of God, "to whom
vengeance belongeth," Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 94:1; Hebrews
10:30, and who will take vengeance on the wicked. And since all
God's judgments are just, and all fit to be executed, and all at
length for the good of the persons punished, I incline to think
that to be the meaning of this phrase of "heaping coals of fire
on their heads."

(26) We may note here, that how sacred soever an oath was
esteemed among the people of God in old times, they did not think
it obligatory where the action was plainly unlawful. For so we
see it was in this case of David, who, although he had sworn to
destroy Nabal and his family, yet does he here, and 1 Samuel
25:32-41, bless God for preventing his keeping his oath, and
shedding of blood, which he had swore to do.

(27) This history of Saul's consultation, not with a witch, as we
render the Hebrew word here, but with a necromancer, as the whole
history shows, is easily understood, especially if we consult the
Recognitions of Clement, B. I. ch. 5. at large, and more briefly,
and nearer the days of Samuel Ecclus. 46:20, "Samuel prophesied
after his death, and showed the king his end, and lift up his
voice from the earth in prophecy," to blot out "the wickedness of
the people." Nor does the exactness of the accomplishment of this
prediction, the very next day, permit us to suppose any
imposition upon Saul in the present history; for as to all modern
hypotheses against the natural sense of such ancient and
authentic histories, I take them to be of very small value or

(28) These great commendations of this necromantic woman of
Endor, and of Saul's martial courage, when yet he knew he should
die in the battle, are somewhat unusual digressions in Josephus.
They seem to me extracted from some speeches or declamations of
his composed formerly, in the way of oratory, that lay by him,
and which he thought fit to insert upon this occasion. See before
on Antiq. B. I. ch. 6 sect. 8.

(29) This way of speaking in Josephus, of fasting "seven days
without meat or drink," is almost like that of St. Paul, Acts
27:33, "This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried, and
continued fasting, having taken nothing:" and as the nature of
the thing, and the impossibility of strictly fasting so long,
require us here to understand both Josephus and the sacred author
of this history, 1 Samuel 30:13, from whom he took it, of only
fasting fill the evening; so must we understand St. Paul, either
that this was really the fourteenth day that they had taken
nothing till the evening, or else that this was the fourteenth
day of their tempestuous weather in the Adriatic Sea, as ver. 27,
and that on this fourteenth day alone they had continued fasting,
and had taken nothing before that evening. The mention of their
long abstinence, ver. 21, inclines me to believe the former
explication to he the truth, and that the case was then for a
fortnight what it was here for a week, that they kept all those
days entirely as lasts till the evening, but not longer. See
Judges 20:26; 21:2; 1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 1:12; Antiq. B. VII.
ch. 7. sect. 4.

Book 7 Footnotes

(1) It ought to be here noted, that Joab, Abishai, and Asahel
were all three David's nephews, the sons of his sister Zeraiah,
as 1 Chronicles 2:16; and that Amasa was also his nephew by his
other sister Abigail, ver. 17.

(2) This may be a true observation of Josephus's, that Samuel by
command from God entailed the crown on David and his posteerity;
for no further did that entail ever reach, Solomon himself having
never had any promise made him that his posterity should always
have the right to it.

(3) These words of Josephus concerning the tribe of Issachar, who
foreknew what was to come hereafter," are best paraphrased by the
parallel text. 1 Chronicles 12:32, "Who had understanding of the
times to know what Israel ought to do;" that is, who had so much
knowledge in astronomy as to make calendars for the Israelites,
that they might keep their festivals, and plough and sow, and
gather in their harvests and vintage, in due season.

(4) What our other copies say of Mount Sion, as alone properly
called the city of David, 2 Samuel 5:6-9, and of this its siege
and conquest now by David, Josephus applies to the whole city
Jerusalem, though including the citadel also; by what authority
we do not now know perhaps, after David had united them together,
or joined the citadel to the lower city, as sect. 2, Josephus
esteemed them as one city. However, this notion seems to be
confirmed by what the same Josephus says concerning David's and
many other kings of Judah's sepulchers, which as the authors of
the books of Kings and Chronicles say were in the city of David,
so does Josephus still say they were in Jerusalem. The sepulcher
of David seems to have been also a known place in the several
days of Hyrcanus, of Herod, and of St. Peter, Antiq. B. XIII. ch.
8. sect. 4 B. XVI. ch. 8. sect. 1; Acts 2:29. Now no such royal
sepulchers have been found about Mount Sion, but are found close
by the north wall of Jerusalem, which I suspect, therefore, to be
these very sepulchers. See the note on ch. 15. sect. 3. In the
meantime, Josephus's explication of the lame, and the blind, and
the maimed, as set to keep this city or citadel, seems to be the
truth, and gives the best light to that history in our Bible. Mr.
Ottius truly observes, (up. Hayercamp, p. 305,) that Josephus
never mentions Mount Sion by that name, as taking it for an
appellative, as I suppose, and not for a proper name; he still
either styles it The Citadel, or The Upper City; nor do I see any
reason for Mr. Ottius's evil suspicions about this procedure of

(5) Some copies of Josephus have here Solyma, or Salem; and
others Hierosolyma, or Jerusalem. The latter best agree to what
Josephus says elsewhere, (Of the War, B. VI. ch. 10.,) that this
city was called Solyma, or Salem, before the days of Melchisedec,
but was by him called Hierosolyma, or Jerusalem. I rather suppose
it to have been so called after Abraham had received that oracle
Jehovah Jireh, "The Lord will see, or provide," Genesis 22;14.
The latter word, Jireh, with a little alteration, prefixed to the
old name Salem, Peace, will be Jerusalem; and since that
expression, "God will see," or rather, "God will provide himself
a lamb for a burnt-offering," ver. 8, 14, is there said to have
been proverbial till the days of Moses, this seems to me the most
probable derivation of that name, which will then denote that God
would provide peace by that "Lamb of God which was to take away
the sins of the world." However, that which is put into brackets
can hardly be supposed the genuine words of Josephus, as Dr.
Hudson well judges.

(6) It deserves here to be remarked, that Saul very rarely, and
David very frequently, consulted God by Urim; and that David
aimed always to depend, not on his own prudence or abilities but
on the Divine direction, contrary to Saul's practice. See sect.
2, and the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 8. sect. 9; and when Saul's
daughter, (but David's wife,) Michal, laughed at David's dancing
before the ark, 2 Samuel 6:16, &c., and here, sect. l, 2, 3, it
is probable she did so, because her father Saul did not use to
pay such a regard to the ark, to the Urim there inquired by, or
to God's worship before it, and because she thought it beneath
the dignity of a king to be so religious.

(7) Josephus seems to be partly in the right, when he observes
here that Uzzah was no priest, (though perhaps he might be a
Levite,) and was therefore struck dead for touching the ark,
contrary to the law, and for which profane rashness death was the
penalty by that law, Numbers 4:15, 20. See the like before,
Antiq. B. VI. ch. 1. sect. 4. It is not improbable that the
putting this ark in a cart, when it ought to have been carried by
the priests or Levites, as it was presently here in Josephus so
carried from Obededom's house to David's, might be also an
occasion of the anger of God on that breach of his law. See
Numbers 4:15; 1 Chronicles 15:13.

(8) Josephus here informs us, that, according to his
understanding of the sense of his copy of the Pentateuch, Moses
had himself foretold the building of the temple, which yet is no
where, that I know of, in our present copies. And that this is
not a mistake set down by him unwarily, appears by what he
observed before, on Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 46, how Moses
foretold that, upon the Jews' future disobedience, their temple
should be burnt and rebuilt, and that not once only, but several
times afterward. See also Josephus's mention of God's former
commands to build such a temple presently, ch. 14. sect. 2,
contrary to our other copies, or at least to our translation of
the Hebrew, 2 Samuel 7:6, 7; 1 Chronicles 17:5, 6.

(9) Josephus seems, in this place, with our modern interpreters
to confound the two distinct predictions which God made to David
and to Nathan, concerning the building him a temple by one of
David's posterity; the one belongeth to Solomon, the other to the
Messiah; the distinction between which is of the greatest
consequence to the Christian religion.

(10) Whether Syria Zobah, 2 Samuel 3:8; 1 Chronicles 18:3-8, be
Sophene, as Josephus here supposes; which yet Ptolemy places
beyond Euphrates, as Dr. Hudson observes here, whereas Zobah was
on this side; or whether Josephus was not here guilty of a
mistake in his geography; I cannot certainly determine.

(11) David's reserving only one hundred chariots for himself out
of one thousand he had taken from Hadadezer, was most probably in
compliance with the law of Moses, which forbade a king of Israel
"to multiply horses to himself," Deuteronomy 17:16; one of the
principal uses of horses in Judea at that time being for drawing
their chariots. See Joshua 12:6; and Antiq. B. V. ch. 1. sect.
18. It deserves here to be remarked, that this Hadad, being a
very great king, was conquered by David, whose posterity yet for
several generations were called Benhadad, or the son of Hadad,
till the days of Hazael, whose son Adar or Ader is also in our
Hebrew copy (2 Kings 13:24) written Benhadad, but in Josephus
Adad or Adar. And strange it is, that the son of Hazael, said to
be such in the same text, and in Josephus, Antiq. B. IX. ch. 8.
sect. 7, should still be called the son of Hadad. I would,
therefore, here correct our Hebrew copy from Josephus's, which
seems to have the true reading. nor does the testimony of
Nicolaus of Damascus, produced in this place by Josephus, seem to
be faultless, when it says that he was the third of the Hadads,
or second of the Benhadads, who besieged Samaria in the days of
Ahab. He must rather have been the seventh or eighth, if there
were ten in all of that name, as we are assured there were. For
this testimony makes all the Hadads or Benhadads of the same
line, and to have immediately succeeded one another; whereas
Hazael was not of that line, nor is he called Hadad or Benhadad
in any copy. And note, that from this Hadad, in the days of
David, to the beginning of Hazael, were near two hundred years,
according to the exactest chronology of Josephus.

(12) By this great victory over the Idameans or Edomites, the
posterity of Esau, and by the consequent tribute paid by that
nation to the Jews, were the prophecies delivered to Rebecca
before Jacob and Esau were born, and by old Isaac before his
death, that the elder, Esau, (or the Edomites,) should serve and
the younger, Jacob, (or the Israelites,) and Jacob (or the
Israelites) should be Esau's (or the Edomites') lord, remarkably
fulfilled. See Antiq. B. VIII. ch 7. sect. 6; Genesis 25;9,3; and
the notes on Antiq. B. I. ch. 18. sect. 5, 6.

(13) That a talent of gold was about seven pounds weight, see the
description of the temple ch. 13. Nor could Josephus well
estimate it higher, since he here says that David wore it on his
head perpetually.

(14) Whether Josephus saw the words of our copies, 2 Samuel
12:31, and 1 Chronicles 20:3, that David put the inhabitants, or
at least the garrison of Rabbah, and of the other Ammonite
cities, which he besieged and took, under, or cut them with saws,
and under, or with harrows of iron, and under, or with axes of
iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln, is not here
directly expressed. If he saw them, as is most probable he did,
he certainly expounded them of tormenting these Ammonites to
death, who were none of those seven nations of Canaan whose
wickedness had rendered them incapable of mercy; otherwise I
should be inclinable to think that the meaning, at least as the
words are in Samuel, might only be this: That they were made the
lowest slaves, to work in sawing of timber or stone, in harrowing
the fields, in hewing timber, in making and burning bricks, and
the like hard services, but without taking away their lives. We
never elsewhere, that I remember, meet with such methods of
cruelty in putting men to death in all the Bible, or in any other
ancient history whatsoever; nor do the words in Samuel seem
naturally to refer to any such thing.

(15) Of this weight of Absalom's hair, how in twenty or thirty
years it might well amount to two hundred shekels, or to somewhat
above six pounds avoirdupois, see the Literal Accomplishment of
Prophecies, p. 77, 78. But a late very judicious author thinks
that the LXXX. meant not its weight, but its value, Was twenty
shekels. - Dr. Wall's Critical Notes on the Old Testament, upon 2
Samuel 14:26. It does not appear what was Josephus's opinion: he
sets the text down honestly as he found it in his copies, only he
thought that "at the end of days," when Absalom polled or weighed
his hair, was once a week.

(16) This is one of the best corrections that Josephus's copy
affords us of a text that in our ordinary copies is grossly
corrupted. They say that this rebellion of Absalom was forty
years after what went before, (of his reconciliation to his
father,) whereas the series of the history shows it could not be
more than four years after it, as here in Josephus; whose number
is directly confirmed by that copy of the Septuagint version
whence the Armenian translation was made, which gives us the
small number of four years.

(17) This reflection of Josephus's, that God brought to nought
the dangerous counsel of Ahithophel, and directly infatuated
wicked Absalom to reject it, (which infatuation is what the
Scripture styles the judicial hardening the hearts and blinding
the eyes of men, who, by their former voluntary wickedness, have
justly deserved to be destroyed, and are thereby brought to
destruction,) is a very just one, and in him not unfrequent. Nor
does Josephus ever puzzle himself, or perplex his readers, with
subtle hypotheses as to the manner of such judicial infatuations
by God, while the justice of them is generally so obvious. That
peculiar manner of the Divine operations, or permissions, or the
means God makes use of in such cases, is often impenetrable by
us. "Secret things belong to the Lord our God; but those things
that are revealed belong to us, and to our children for ever,
that we may do all the words of this law," Deuteronomy 29:29. Nor
have all the subtleties of the moderns, as far as I see, given
any considerable light in this, and many other the like points of
difficulty relating either to Divine or human operations.--See
the notes on Antiq. B. V ch. 1. sect. 2; and Antiq. B. IX. ch. 4.
sect. 3.

(18) Those that take a view of my description of the gates of the
temple, will not be surprised at this account of David's throne,
both here and 2 Samuel 18:21, that it was between two gates or
portals. Gates being in cities, as well as at the temple, large
open places, with a portal at the entrance, and another at the
exit, between which judicial causes were heard, and public
consultations taken, as is well known from several places of
Scripture, 2 Chronicles 31:2; Psalm 9:14; 137:5; Proverbs 1:21;
8:3, 31; 31:23, and often elsewhere.

(19) Since David was now in Mahanairn, and in the open place of
that city gate, which seems still to have been built the highest
of any part of the wall, and since our other copies say he went
up to the chamber over the gate, 2 Samuel 18:33, I think we ought
to correct our present reading in Josephus, and for city, should
read gate, i.e. instead of the highest part of the city, should
say the highest part of the gate. Accordingly we find David
presently, in Josephus, as well as in our other copies, 2 Samuel
19:8, sitting as before, in the gate of the city.

(20) By David's disposal of half Mephibosheth's estate to Ziba,
one would imagine that he was a good deal dissatisfied, and
doubtful whether Mephibosheth's story were entirely true or not;
nor does David now invite him to diet with him, as he did before,
but only forgives him, if he had been at all guilty. Nor is this
odd way of mourning that Mephibosheth made use of here, and 2
Samuel 19:24, wholly free from suspicion by hypocrisy. If Ziba
neglected or refused to bring Mephibosheh an ass of his own, on
which he might ride to David, it is half to suppose that so great
a man as he was should not be able to procure some other beast
for the same purpose.

(21) I clearly prefer Josephus's reading here, when it supposes
eleven tribes, including Benjamin, to be on the one side, and the
tribe of Judah alone on the other, since Benjamin, in general,
had been still father of the house of Saul, and less firm to
David hitherto, than any of the rest, and so cannot be supposed
to be joined with Judah at this time, to make it double,
especially when the following rebellion was headed by a
Benjamite. See sect. 6, and 2 Samuel 20:2, 4.

(22) This section is a very remarkable one, and shows that, in
the opinion of Josephus, David composed the Book of Psalms, not
at several times before, as their present inscriptions frequently
imply, but generally at the latter end of his life, or after his
wars were over. Nor does Josephus, nor the authors of the known
books of the Old and New Testament, nor the Apostolical
Constitutions, seem to have ascribed any of them to any other
author than to David himself. See Essay on the Old Testament,
pages 174, 175. Of these metres of the Psalms, see the note on
Antiq. B. II. ch. 16. sect. 4.

(23) The words of God by Moses, Exodus 30:12, sufficiently
satisfy the reason here given by Josephus for the great plague
mentioned in this chapter: - "When thou takest the sum of the
children of Israel after their number, then shall they give a
ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that
there be no plague amongst them, when numberest them." Nor indeed
could David's or the neglect of executing this law at this
numeration of half a shekel apiece with them, when they came
numbered. The great reason why nations are so committed by and
with their wicked kings and governors that they almost constantly
comply with them in their of or disobedience to the Divine laws,
and suffer Divine laws to go into disuse or contempt, in order to
kings and governors; and that they sub-political laws and
commands of those governors, instead of the righteous laws of
God, which all mankind ought ever to obey, let their kings and
governors say what they please to the contrary; this preference
of human before Divine laws seeming to me the principal character
of idolatrous or antichristian nations. Accordingly, Josephus
well observes, Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 17, that it was the
duty of the people of Israel to take care that their kings, when
they should have them, did not exceed their proper limits of
power, and prove ungovernable by the laws of God, which would
certainly be a most pernicious thing to their Divine settlement.
Nor do I think that negligence peculiar to the Jews: those
nations which are called Christians, are sometimes indeed very
solicitous to restrain their kings and governors from breaking
the human laws of their several kingdoms, but without the like
care for restraining them from breaking the laws of God. "Whether
it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto men more than to
God, judge ye," Acts 4:19. "We ought to obey God rather than
men," ver. 29.

(24) What Josephus adds here is very remarkable, that this Mount
Moriah was not only the very place where Abraham offered up Isaac
long ago, but that God had foretold to David by a prophet, that
here his son should build him a temple, which is not directly in
any of our other copies, though very agreeable to what is in
them, particularly in 1 Chronicles 21:25, 28; 22:1, to which
places I refer the reader.

(25) Of the quantity of gold and silver expended in the building
of Solomon's temple, and whence it arose, see the description of
ch. 13.

(26) David is here greatly blamed by some for recommending Joab
and Shimei to be punished by Solomon, if he could find a proper
occasion, after he had borne with the first a long while, and
seemed to have pardoned the other entirely, which Solomon
executed accordingly; yet I cannot discern any fault either in
David or Solomon in these cases. Joab's murder of Abner and Amasa
were very barbarous, and could not properly be forgiven either by
David or Solomon; for a dispensing power in kings for the crime
of willful murder is warranted by no law of God, nay, is directly
against it every where; nor is it, for certain, in the power of
men to grant such a prerogative to any of their kings; though
Joab was so nearly related to David, and so potent in the army
under a warlike administration, that David durst not himself put
him to death, 2 Samuel 3:39; 19:7. Shimei's cursing the Lord's
anointed, and this without any just cause, was the highest act of
treason against God and his anointed king, and justly deserved
death; and though David could forgive treason against himself,
yet had he done no more in the case of Shimei than promised him
that he would not then, on the day of his return and
reinauguration, or upon that occasion, himself put him to death,
2 Samuel 19:22; and he swore to him no further, ver. 23, as the
words are in Josephus, than that he would not then put him to
death, which he performed; nor was Solomon under any obligation
to spare such a traitor.


(1) This execution upon Joab, as a murderer, by slaying him, even
when he had taken sanctuary at God's altar, is perfectly
agreeable to the law of Moses, which enjoins, that "if a man come
presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile, thou
shalt take him from mine altar that he die," Exodus 21:14.

(2) This building of the walls of Jerusalem, soon after David's
death, illustrates the conclusion of the 51st Psalm, where David
prays, "Build thou the walls of Jerusalem;" they being, it seems,
unfinished or imperfect at that time. See ch. 6. sect. 1; and ch.
1. sect. 7; also 1 Kings 9:15.

(3) It may not be amiss to compare the daily furniture of king
Solomon's table, here set down, and 1 Kings 4;22, 23, with the
like daily furniture of Nehemiah the governor's table, after the
Jews were come back from Babylon; and to remember withal, that
Nehemiah was now building the walls of Jerusalem, and maintained,
more than usual, above a hundred and fifty considerable men every
day, and that, because the nation was then very poor, at his own
charges also, without laying any burden upon the people at all.
"Now that which was prepared for me daily was one ox and six
choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten
days store of all sorts of wine; and yet for all this required
not the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy upon
this people," Nehemiah 5:18: see the whole context, ver. 14-19.
Nor did the governor's usual allowance of forty shekels of silver
a-day, ver. 15, amount to 45 a day, nor to 1800 a-year. Nor does
it indeed appear that, under the judges, or under Samuel the
prophet, there was any such public allowance to those governors
at all. Those great charges upon the public for maintaining
courts came in with kings, as God foretold they would, 1 Samuel

(4) Some pretended fragments of these books of conjuration of
Solomon are still extant in Fabricius's Cod. Pseudepigr. Vet.
Test. page 1054, though I entirely differ from Josephus in this
his supposal, that such books and arts of Solomon were parts of
that wisdom which was imparted to him by God in his younger days;
they must rather have belonged to such profane but curious arts
as we find mentioned Acts 19:13-20, and had been derived from the
idolatry and superstition of his heathen wives and concubines in
his old age, when he had forsaken God, and God had forsaken him,
and given him up to demoniacal delusions. Nor does Josephus's
strange account of the root Baara (Of the War, B. VIII. ch. 6.
sect. 3) seem to be other than that of its magical use in such
conjurations. As for the following history, it confirms what
Christ says, Matthew 12;27 "If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by
whom do your Sons cast them out?"

(5) These epistles of Solomon and Hiram are those in 1 Kings
5:3-9, and, as enlarged, in 2 Chronicles 2:3-16, but here given
us by Josephus in his own words.

(6) What Josephus here puts into his copy of Hiram's epistle to
Solomon, and repeats afterwards, ch. 5. sect. 3, that Tyre was
now an island, is not in any of the three other copies, viz. that
of the Kings, Chronicles, or Eusebius; nor is it any other, I
suppose, than his own conjectural paraphrase; for when I, many
years ago, inquired into this matter, I found the state of this
famous city, and of the island whereupon it stood, to have been
very different at different times. The result of my inquiries in
this matter, with the addition of some later improvements, stands
thus: That the best testimonies hereto relating, imply, that
Paketyrus, or Oldest Tyre, was no other than that most ancient
smaller fort or city Tyre, situated on the continent, and
mentioned in Joshua 19:29, out of which the Canaanite or
Phoenician inhabitants were driven into a large island, that lay
not far off in the sea, by Joshua: that this island was then
joined to the continent at the present remains of Paketyrus, by a
neck of land over against Solomon's cisterns, still so called;
and the city's fresh water, probably, was carried along in pipes
by that neck of land; and that this island was therefore, in
strictness, no other than a peninsula, having villages in its
fields, Ezekiel 26:6, and a wall about it, Amos 1:10, and the
city was not of so great reputation as Sitlon for some ages: that
it was attacked both by sea and land by Salmanasser, as Josephus
informs us, Antiq. B. IX. ch. 14. sect. 2, and afterwards came to
be the metropolis of Phoenicia; and was afterwards taken and
destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, according to the numerous Scripture
prophecies thereto relating, Isaiah 23.; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:3;
47:4; Ezekiel 26., 27., 28.: that seventy years after that
destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, this city was in some measure
revived and rebuilt, Isaiah 23:17, 18, but that, as the prophet
Ezekiel had foretold, chap. 26:3-5, 14; 27: 34, the sea arose
higher than before, till at last it over flowed, not only the
neck of land, but the main island or peninsula itself, and
destroyed that old and famous city for ever: that, however, there
still remained an adjoining smaller island, once connected to Old
Tyre itself by Hiram, which was afterwards inhabited; to which
Alexander the Great, with incredible pains, raised a new bank or
causeway: and that it plainly appears from Ifaundreh, a most
authentic eye-witness, that the old large and famous city, on the
original large island, is now laid so generally under water, that
scarce more than forty acres of it, or rather of that adjoining
small island remain at this day; so that, perhaps, not above a
hundredth part of the first island and city is now above water.
This was foretold in the same prophecies of Ezekiel; and
according to them, as Mr. Maundrell distinctly observes, these
poor remains of Old Tyre are now "become like the top of a rock,
a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea."

(7) Of the temple of Solomon here described by Josephus, in this
and the following sections of this chapter, see my description of
the temples belonging to this work, ch. 13, These small rooms, or
side chambers, seem to have been, by Josephus's description, no
less than twenty cubits high a piece, otherwise there must have
been a large interval between one and the other that was over it;
and this with double floors, the one of six cubits distance from
the floor beneath it, as 1 Kings 6:5

(8) Josephus says here that the cherubims were of solid gold, and
only five cubits high, while our Hebrew copies (1 Kings 6;23, 28)
say they were of the olive tree, and the LXXX. of the cypress
tree, and only overlaid with gold; and both agree they were ten
cubits high. I suppose the number here is falsely transcribed,
and that Josephus wrote ten cubits also.

(9) As for these two famous pillars, Jachin and Booz, their
height could be no more than eighteen cubits, as here, and 1
Kings 7:15; 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 3:21; those thirty-five
cubits in 2 Chronicles 3:15, being contrary to all the rules of
architecture in the world.

(10) The round or cylindrical lavers of four cubits in diameter,
and four in height, both in our copies, 1 Kings 7:38, 39, and
here in Josephus, must have contained a great deal more than
these forty baths, which are always assigned them. Where the
error lies is hard to say: perhaps Josephus honestly followed his
copies here, though they had been corrupted, and he was not able
to restore the true reading. In the mean time, the forty baths
are probably the true quantity contained in each laver, since
they went upon wheels, and were to be drawn by the Levites about
the courts of the priests for the washings they were designed
for; and had they held much more, they would have been too heavy
to have been so drawn.

(11) Here Josephus gives us a key to his own language, of right
and left hand in the tabernacle and temple; that by the right
hand he means what is against our left, when we suppose ourselves
going up from the east gate of the courts towards the tabernacle
or temple themselves, and so vice versa; whence it follows, that
the pillar Jachin, on the right hand of the temple was on the
south, against our left hand; and Booz on the north, against our
right hand. Of the golden plate on the high priest's forehead
that was in being in the days of Josephus, and a century or two
at least later, seethe note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 7. sect. 6.

(12) When Josephus here says that the floor of the outmost temple
or court of the Gentiles was with vast labor raised to be even,
or of equal height, with the floor of the inner, or court of the
priests, he must mean this in a gross estimation only; for he and
all others agree, that the inner temple, or court of the priests,
was a few cubits more elevated than the middle court, the court
of Israel, and that much more was the court of the priests
elevated several cubits above that outmost court, since the court
of Israel was lower than the one and higher than the other. The
Septuagint say that "they prepared timber and stones to build the
temple for three years," 1 Kings 5:18; and although neither our
present Hebrew copy, nor Josephus, directly name that number of
years, yet do they both say the building itself did not begin
till Solomon's fourth year; and both speak of the preparation of
materials beforehand, 1 Kings v. 18; Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 5. sect.
1. There is no reason, therefore, to alter the Septuagint's
number; but we are to suppose three years to have been the just
time of the preparation, as I have done in my computation of the
expense in building that temple.

(13) This solemn removal of the ark from Mount Sion to Mount
Moriah, at the distance of almost three quarters of a mile,
confutes that notion of the modern Jews, and followed by many
Christians also, as if those two were after a sort one and the
same mountain, for which there is, I think, very little

(14) This mention of the Corinthian ornaments of architecture in
Solomon's palace by Josephus seems to be here set down by way of
prophecy although it appears to me that the Grecian and Roman
most ancient orders of architecture were taken from Solomon's
temple, as from their original patterns, yet it is not so clear
that the last and most ornamental order of the Corinthian was so
ancient, although what the same Josephus says, (Of the War, B. V.
ch. 5. sect. 3,) that one of the gates of Herod's temple was
built according to the rules of this Corinthian order, is no way
improbable, that order being, without dispute, much older than
the reign of Herod. However, upon some trial, I confess I have
not hitherto been able fully to understand the structure of this
palace of Solomon, either as described in our Bibles, or even
with the additional help of this description here by Josephus;
only the reader may easily observe with me, that the measures of
this first building in Josephus, a hundred cubits long, and fifty
cubits broad, are the very same with the area of the cart of the
tabernacle of Moses. and just hall' an Egyptian orout, or acre.

(15) This signification of the name Pharaoh appears to be true.
But what Josephus adds presently, that no king of Egypt was
called Pharaoh after Solomon's father-in-law, does hardly agree
to our copies, which have long afterwards the names of Pharaoh
Neehob, and Pharaoh Hophrah, 2 Kings 23:29; Jeremiah 44:30,
besides the frequent mention of that name Pharaoh in the
prophets. However, Josephus himself, in his own speech to the
Jews, Of the War, B. V. ch. 9. sect. 4, speaks of Neehao, who was
also called Pharaoh, as the name of that king of Egypt with whom
Abraham was concerned; of which name Neehao yet we have elsewhere
no mention till the days of Josiah, but only of Pharaoh. And,
indeed, it must be conceded, that here, and sect. 5, we have more
mistakes made by Josephus, and those relating to the kings of
Egypt, and to that queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, whom he supposes
to have come to see Solomon, than almost any where else in all
his Antiquities.

(16) That this queen of Sheba was a queen of Sabea in South
Arabia, and not of Egypt and Ethiopia, as Josephus here asserts,
is, I suppose, now generally agreed. And since Sabea is well
known to be a country near the sea in the south of Arabia Felix,
which lay south from Judea also; and since our Savior calls this
queen, "the queen of the south," and says, "she came from the
utmost parts of the earth," Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31, which
descriptions agree better to this Arabia than to Egypt and
Ethiopia; there is little occasion for doubting in this matter.

(17) Some blame Josephus for supposing that the balsam tree might
be first brought out of Arabia, or Egypt, or Ethiopia, into
Judea, by this queen of Sheba, since several have said that of
old no country bore this precious balsam but Judea; yet it is not
only false that this balsam was peculiar to Judea but both Egypt
and Arabia, and particularly Sabea; had it; which last was that
very country whence Josephus, if understood not of Ethiopia, but
of Arabia, intimates this queen might bring it first into Judea.
Nor are we to suppose that the queen of Sabaea could well omit
such a present as this balsam tree would be esteemed by Solomon,
in case it were then almost peculiar to her own country. Nor is
the mention of balm or balsam, as carried by merchants, and sent
as a present out of Judea by Jacob, to the governor of Egypt,
Genesis 37:25; 43:11, to be alleged to the contrary, since what
we there render balm or balsam, denotes rather that turpentine
which we now call turpentine of Chio, or Cyprus, the juice of the
turpentine tree, than this precious balm. This last is also the
same word that we elsewhere render by the same mistake balm of
Gilead; it should be rendered, the turpentine of Gilead, Jeremiah

(18) Whether these fine gardens and rivulets of Etham, about six
miles from Jerusalem, whither Solomon rode so often in state, be
not those alluded to, Ecclesiastes 2:5, 6, where he says, "He
made him gardens and orchards, and planted trees in them of all
kinds of fruits: he made him pools of water, to water the wood
that bringeth forth trees;" and to the finest part whereof he
seems to allude, when, in the Canticles, he compares his spouse
to a garden "enclosed," to a "spring shut up," to a "fountain
sealed," ch. 4. 12 (part of which from rains are still extant, as
Mr. Matmdrell informs us, page 87, 88); cannot now be certainly
determined, but may very probably be conjectured. But whether
this Etham has any relation to those rivers of Etham, which
Providence once dried up in a miraculous manner, Psalm 74:15, in
the Septuagint, I cannot say.

(19) These seven hundred wives, or the daughters of great men,
and the three hundred concubines, the daughters of the ignoble,
make one thousand in all; and are, I suppose, those very one
thousand women intimated elsewhere by Solomon himself, when he
speaks of his not having found one [good] woman among that very
number, Ecclesiastes 7:28.

(20) Josephus is here certainly too severe upon Solomon, who, in
making the cherubims, and these twelve brazen oxen, seems to have
done no more than imitate the patterns left him by David, which
were all given David by Divine inspiration. See my description of
the temples, ch. 10. And although God gave no direction for the
lions that adorned his throne, yet does not Solomon seem therein
to have broken any law of Moses; for although the Pharisees and
latter Rabbins have extended the second commandment, to forbid
the very making of any image, though without any intention to
have it worshipped, yet do not I suppose that Solomon so
understood it, nor that it ought to be so understood. The making
any other altar for worship but that at the tabernacle was
equally forbidden by Moses, Antiq. B. IV. ch. 8. sect. 5; yet did
not the two tribes and a half offend when they made an altar for
a memorial only, Joshua 22; Antiq. B. V. ch. 1. sect. 26, 27.

(21) Since the beginning of Solomon's evil life and adversity was
the time when Hadad or Ader, who was born at least twenty or
thirty years before Solomon came to the crown, in the days of
David, began to give him disturbance, this implies that Solomon's
evil life began early, and continued very long, which the
multitude of his wives and concubines does imply also; I suppose
when he was not fifty years of age.

(22) This youth of Jeroboam, when Solomon built the walls of
righteous and keep the laws, because he hath proposed to thee the
greatest of all rewards for thy piety, and the honor thou shalt
pay to God, namely, to be as greatly exalted as thou knowest
David to have been." Jerusalem, not very long after he had
finished his twenty years building of the temple and his own
palace, or not very long after the twenty-fourth of his reign, 1
Kings 9:24; 2 Chronicles 8:11, and his youth here still
mentioned, when Solomon's wickedness was become intolerable,
fully confirm my former observation, that such his wickedness
began early, and continued very long. See Ecclus. 47:14.

(23) That by scorpions is not here meant that small animal so
called, which was never used in corrections, but either a shrub,
furze bush, or else some terrible sort of whip of the like nature
see Hudson's and Spanheim's notes here.

(24) Whether these "fountains of the Lesser Jordan" were near a
place called Dan, and the fountains of the Greater near a place
called Jor, before their conjunction; or whether there was only
one fountain, arising at the lake Phiala, at first sinking under
ground, and then arising near the mountain Paneum, and thence
running through the lake Scmochonitis to the Sea of Galilee, and
so far called the Lesser Jordan; is hardly certain, even in
Josephus himself, though the latter account be the most probable.
However, the northern idolatrous calf, set up by Jeroboam, was
where Little Jordan fell into Great Jordan, near a place called
Daphnae, as Josephus elsewhere informs us, Of the War, B. IV. ch.
1. sect. 1: see the note there.

(25) How much a larger and better copy Josephus had in this
remarkable history of the true prophet of Judea, and his concern
with Jeroboam, and with the false prophet of Bethel, than our
other copies have, is evident at first sight. The prophet's very
name, Jadon, or, as the Constitutions call him, Adonias, is
wanting in our other copies; and it is there, with no little
absurdity, said that God revealed Jadon the true prophet's death,
not to himself as here, hut to the false prophet. Whether the
particular account of the arguments made use of, after all, by
the false prophet against his own belief and his own conscience,
in order to persuade Jeroboam to persevere in his idolatry and
wickedness, than which more plausible could not be invented, was
intimated in Josephus's copy, or in some other ancient book,
cannot now be determined; our other copies say not one word of

(26) That this Shishak was not the same person with the famous
Sesostris, as some have very lately, in contradiction to all
antiquity, supposed, and that our Josephus did not take him to be
the same, as they pretend, but that Sesostris was many centuries
earlier than Shishak, see Authent. Records, part II. page 1024.

(27) Herodotus, as here quoted by Josephus, and as this passage
still stands in his present copies, B. II. ch. 14., affirms, that
"the Phoenicians and Syrians in Palestine [which last are
generally supposed to denote the Jews] owned their receiving
circumcision from the Egyptians;" whereas it is abnudantly
evident that the Jews received their circumcision from the
patriarch Abraham, Genesis 17:9-14; John 7:22, 23, as I conclude
the Egyptian priests themselves did also. It is not therefore
very unlikely that Herodotus, because the Jews had lived long in
Egypt, and came out of it circumcised, did thereupon think they
had learned that circumcision in Egypt, and had it not broke.
Manetho, the famous Egyptian chronologer and historian, who knew
the history of his own country much better than Herodotus,
complains frequently of his mistakes about their affairs, as does
Josephus more than once in this chapter. Nor indeed does
Herodotus seem at all acquainted with the affairs of the Jews;
for as he never names them, so little or nothing of what he says
about them, their country, or maritime cities, two of which he
alone mentions, Cadytus and Jenysus, proves true; nor indeed do
there appear to have ever been any such cities on their coast.

(28) This is a strange expression in Josephus, that God is his
own workmanship, or that he made himself, contrary to common
sense and to catholic Christianity; perhaps he only means that he
was not made by one, but was unoriginated.

(29) By this terrible and perfectly unparalleled slaughter of
five hundred thousand men of the newly idolatrous and rebellious
ten tribes, God's high displeasure and indignation against that
idolatry and rebellion fully appeared; the remainder were thereby
seriously cautioned not to persist in them, and a kind of balance
or equilibrium was made between the ten and the two tribes for
the time to come; while otherwise the perpetually idolatrous and
rebellious ten tribes would naturally have been too powerful for
the two tribes, which were pretty frequently free both from such
idolatry and rebellion; nor is there any reason to doubt of the
truth of the prodigious number upmost: signal an occasion.

(30) The reader is to remember that Cush is not Ethiopia, but
Arabia. See Bochart, B. IV. ch. 2.

(31) Here is a very great error in our Hebrew copy in this place,
2 Chronicles 15:3-6, as applying what follows to times past, and
not to times future; whence that text is quite misapplied by Sir
Isaac Newton.

(32) This Abelmain, or, in Josephus's copy, Abellane, that
belonged to the land of Israel, and bordered on the country of
Damascus, is supposed, both by Hudson and Spanheim, to be the
same with Abel, or Ahila, whence came Abilene. This may he that
city so denominated from Abel the righteous, there buried,
concerning the shedding of whose blood within the compass of the
land of Israel, I understand our Savior's words about the fatal
war and overthrow of Judea by Titus and his Roman army; "That
upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the land,
from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of
Barnchins, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily,
I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this
generation," Matthew 23;35, 36; Luke 11:51.

(33) Josephus, in his present copies, says, that a little while
rain upon the earth; whereas, in our other copies, it is after
many days, 1 Kings 18:1. Several years are also intimated there,
and in Josephus, sect. 2, as belonging to this drought and
famine; nay, we have the express mention of the third year, which
I suppose was reckoned from the recovery of the widow's son, and
the ceasing of this drought in Phmuiela (which, as Menander
informs us here, lasted one whole year); and both our Savior and
St. James affirm, that this drought lasted in all three years and
six months. as their copies of the Old Testament then informed
them, Luke 4:25; James 5:17. Josephus here seems to mean, that
this drought affected all the habitable earth, and presently all
the earth, as our Savior says it was upon all the earth, Luke
4:25. They who restrain these expressions to the land of Judea
alone, go without sufficient authority or examples.

(34) Mr. Spanheim takes notice here, that in the worship of
Mithra (the god of the Persians) the priests cut themselves in
the same manner as did these priests in their invocation of Baal
(the god of the Phoenicians).

(35) For Izar we may here read (with Hudson and Cocceius)
Isachar, i.e of the tribe of Isachar, for to that tribe did
Jezreel belong; and presently at the beginning of sect. 8, as
also ch. 15. sect. 4, we may read for Iar, with one MS. nearly,
and the Scripture, Jezreel, for that was the city meant in the
history of Naboth.

(36) "The Jews weep to this day," (says Jerome, here cited by
Reland,) "and roll themselves upon sackcloth, in ashes, barefoot,
upon such occasions." To which Spanheim adds, "that after the
same manner Bernice, when his life was in danger, stood at the
tribunal of Florus barefoot." Of the War, B. II. ch. 15. sect. 1.
See the like of David, 2 Samuel 15:30; Antiq. B. VII. ch. 9.
sect. 2.

(37) Mr. Reland notes here very truly, that the word naked does
not always signify entirely naked, but sometimes without men's
usual armor, without heir usual robes or upper garments; as when
Virgil bids the husbandman plough naked, and sow naked; when
Josephus says (Antiq. B. IV. ch. 3. sect. 2) that God had given
the Jews the security of armor when they were naked; and when he
here says that Ahab fell on the Syrians when they were naked and
drunk; when (Antiq. B. XI. ch. 5. sect. 8) he says that Nehemiah
commanded those Jews that were building the walls of Jerusalem to
take care to have their armor on upon occasion, that the enemy
might not fall upon them naked. I may add, that the case seems to
be the same in the Scripture, when it says that Saul lay down
naked among the prophets, 1 Samuel 19:24; when it says that
Isaiah walked naked and barefoot, Isaiah 20:2, 3; and when it
says that Peter, before he girt his fisher's coat to him, was
naked, John 21:7. What is said of David also gives light to this,
who was reproached by Michal for "dancing before the ark, and
uncovering himself in the eyes of his handmaids, as one of the
vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself," 2 Samuel 6:14, 20;
yet it is there expressly said (ver. 14) that "David was girded
with a linen ephod," i.e. he had laid aside his robes of state,
and put on the sacerdotal, Levitical, or sacred garments, proper
for such a solemnity.

(38) Josephus's number, two myriads and seven thousand, agrees
here with that in our other copies, as those that were slain by
the falling down of the walls of Aphek; but I suspected at first
that this number in Josephus's present copies could not be his
original number, because he calls them "oligoi," a few, which
could hardly be said of so many as twenty-seven thousand, and
because of the improbability of the fall of a particular wall
killing so many; yet when I consider Josephus's next words, how
the rest which were slain in the battle were "ten other myriads,"
that twenty-seven thousand are but a few in comparison of a
hundred thousand, and that it was not "a wall," as in our English
version, but "the walls" or "the entire walls" of the city that
fell down, as in all the originals, I lay aside that suspicion,
and firmly believe that Josephus himself hath, with the rest,
given us the just number, twenty-seven thousand.

(39) This manner of supplication for men's lives among the
Syrians, with ropes or halters about their heads or necks, is, I
suppose, no strange thing in later ages, even in our own country.

(40) It is here remarkable, that in Josephus's copy this prophet,
whose severe denunciation of a disobedient person's slaughter by
a lion had lately come to pass, was no other than Micaiah, the
son of Imlah, who, as he now denounced God's judgment on
disobedient Ahab, seems directly to have been that very prophet
whom the same Ahab, in 1 Kings 22:8, 18, complains of, "as one
whom he hated, because he did not prophesy good concerning him,
but evil," and who in that chapter openly repeats his
denunciations against him; all which came to pass accordingly;
nor is there any reason to doubt but this and the former were the
very same prophet.

(41) What is most remarkable in this history, and in many
histories on other occasions in the Old Testament, is this, that
during the Jewish theocracy God acted entirely as the supreme
King of Israel, and the supreme General of their armies, and
always expected that the Israelites should be in such absolute
subjection to him, their supreme and heavenly King, and General
of their armies, as subjects and soldiers are to their earthly
kings and generals, and that usually without knowing the
particular reasons of their injunctions.

(42) These reasonings of Zedekiah the false prophet, in order to
persuade Ahab not to believe Micaiah the true prophet, are
plausible; but being omitted in our other copies, we cannot now
tell whence Josephus had them, whether from his own temple copy,
from some other original author, or from certain ancient notes.
That some such plausible objection was now raised against Micaiah
is very likely, otherwise Jehoshaphat, who used to disbelieve all
such false prophets, could never have been induced to accompany
Ahab in these desperate circumstances.

(43) This reading of Josephus, that Jehoshaphat put on not his
own, but Ahab's robes, in order to appear to be Ahab, while Ahab
was without any robes at all, and hoped thereby to escape his own
evil fate, and disprove Micaiah's prophecy against him, is
exceeding probable. It gives great light also to this whole
history; and shows, that although Ahab hoped Jehoshaphat would he
mistaken for him, and run the only risk of being slain in the
battle, yet he was entirely disappointed, while still the escape
of the good man Jehoshaphat, and the slaughter of the bad man
Ahab, demonstrated the great distinction that Divine providence
made betwixt them.

(44) We have here a very wise reflection of Josephus about Divine
Providence, and what is derived from it, prophecy, and the
inevitable certainty of its accomplishment; and that when wicked
men think they take proper methods to elude what is denounced
against them, and to escape the Divine judgments thereby
threatened them, without repentance, they are ever by Providence
infatuated to bring about their own destruction, and thereby
withal to demonstrate the perfect veracity of that God whose
predictions they in vain endeavored to elude.


(1) These judges constituted by Jehoshaphat were a kind of
Jerusalem Sanhedrim, out of the priests, the Levites, and the
principal of the people, both here and 2 Chronicles 19:8; much
like the old Christian judicatures of the bishop, the presbyters,
the deacons, and the people.

(2) Concerning this precious balsam, see the note on Atiq. B.
VIII. ch. 6. sect. 6.

(3) What are here Pontus and Thrace, as the places whither
Jehoshaphat's fleet sailed, are in our other copies Ophir and
Tarshish, and the place whence it sailed is in them Eziongeber,
which lay on the Red Sea, whence it was impossible for any ships
to sail to Pontus or Thrace; so that Josephus's copy differed
from our other copies, as is further plain from his own words,
which render what we read, that "the ships were broken at
Eziongeber, from their unwieldy greatness." But so far we may
conclude, that Josephus thought one Ophir to be some where in the
Mediterranean, and not in the South Sea, though perhaps there
might be another Ophir in that South Sea also, and that fleets
might then sail both from Phoenicia and from the Red Sea to fetch
the gold of Ophir.

(4) This god of flies seems to have been so called, as was the
like god among the Greeks, from his supposed power over flies, in
driving them away from the flesh of their sacrifices, which
otherwise would have been very troublesome to them.

(5) It is commonly esteemed a very cruel action of Elijah, when
he called for fire from heaven, and consumed no fewer than two
captains and a hundred soldiers, and this for no other crime than
obeying the orders of their king, in attempting to seize him; and
it is owned by our Savior, that it was an instance of greater
severity than the spirit of the New Testament allows, Luke 9:54.
But then we must consider that it is not unlikely that these
captains and soldiers believed that they were sent to fetch the
prophet, that he might be put to death for foretelling the death
of the king, and this while they knew him to be the prophet of
the true God, the supreme King of Israel, (for they were still
under the theocracy,) which was no less than impiety, rebellion,
and treason, in the highest degree: nor would the command of a
subaltern, or inferior captain, contradicting the commands of the
general, when the captain and the soldiers both knew it to be so,
as I suppose, justify or excuse such gross rebellion and
disobedience in soldiers at this day. Accordingly, when Saul
commanded his guards to slay Ahimelech and the priests at Nob,
they knew it to be an unlawful command, and would not obey it, 1
Samuel 22:17. From which cases both officers and soldiers may
learn, that the commands of their leaders or kings cannot justify
or excuse them in doing what is wicked in the sight of God, or in
fighting in an unjust cause, when they know it so to be.

(6) This practice of cutting down, or plucking up by the roots,
the fruit trees was forbidden, even in ordinary wars, by the law
of Moses, Deuteronomy 20:19, 20, and only allowed by God in this
particular case, when the Moabites were to be punished and cut
off in an extraordinary manner for their wickedness See Jeremiah
48:11-13, and many the like prophecies against them. Nothing
could therefore justify this practice but a particular commission
from God by his prophet, as in the present case, which was ever a
sufficient warrant for breaking any such ritual or ceremonial law

(7) That this woman who cried to Elisha, and who in our Bible is
styled "the wife of one of the sons of the prophets," 2 Kings
4:1, was no other than the widow of Obadiah, the good steward of
Ahab, is confirmed by the Chaldee paraphrast, and by the Rabbins
and others. Nor is that unlikely which Josephus here adds, that
these debts were contracted by her husband for the support of
those "hundred of the Lord's prophets, whom he maintained by
fifty in a cave," in the days of Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings 18:4;
which circumstance rendered it highly fit that the prophet Elisha
should provide her a remedy, and enable her to redeem herself and
her sons from the fear of that slavery which insolvent debtors
were liable to by the law of Moses, Leviticus 25:39; Matthew
18:25; which he did accordingly, with God's help, at the expense
of a miracle.

(8) Dr. Hudson, with very good reason, suspects that there is no
small defect in our present copies of Josephus, just before the
beginning of this section, and that chiefly as to that distinct
account which he had given us reason to expect in the first
section, and to which he seems to refer, ch. 8. sect. 6.
concerning the glorious miracles which Elisha wrought, which
indeed in our Bibles are not a few, 2 Kings 6-9., but of which we
have several omitted in Josephus's present copies. One of those
histories, omitted at present, was evidently in his Bible, I mean
that of the curing of Nanman's leprosy, 2 Kings 5.; for he
plainly alludes to it, B. III. ch. 11. sect. 4, where he
observes, that "there were lepers in many nations who yet have
been in honor, and not only free from reproach and avoidance, but
who have been great captains of armies, and been intrusted with
high offices in the commonwealth, and have had the privilege of
entering into holy places and temples." But what makes me most
regret the want of that history in our present copies of Josephus
is this, that we have here, as it is commonly understood, one of
the greatest difficulties in all the Bible, that in 2 Kings 5:18,
19, where Naaman, after he had been miraculously cured by a
prophet of the true God, and had thereupon promised (ver. 17)
that "he would henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor
sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord," adds, "In this
thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into
the house of Rimnu to worship there, and he leaneth on my hands,
and I bow myself in the house of Rimmort; when I bow down myself
in the house of Rimmort, the Lord pardon thy servant in this
thing. And Elisha said, Go in peace." This looks like a prophet's
permission for being partaker in idolatry itself, out of
compliance with an idolatrous court.

(9) Upon occasion of this stratagem of Elisha, in Josephus, we
may take notice, that although Josephus was one of the greatest
lovers of truth in the world, yet in a just war he seems to have
had no manner of scruple upon him by all such stratagems possible
to deceive public enemies. See this Josephus's account of
Jeremiah's imposition on the great men of the Jews in somewhat
like case, Antiq. B. X. ch. 7. sect. 6; 2 Samuel 16:16, &c.

(10) This son of a murderer was Joram, the son of Ahab, which
Ahab slew, or permitted his wife Jezebel to slay, the Lord's
prophets, and Naboth, 1 Kings 18:4; 21:19; and he is here called
by this name, I suppose, because he had now also himself sent an
officer to murder him; yet is Josephus's account of Joram's
coming himself at last. as repenting of his intended cruelty,
much more probable than that in our copies, 2 Kings 6:33, which
rather implies the contrary.

(11) This law of the Jews, for the exclusion of lepers out of the
camp in the wilderness, and out of the cities in Judea, is a
known one, Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:14.

(12) Since Elijah did not live to anoint Hazael king of Syria
himself, as he was empowered to do, 1 Kings 19:15, it was most
probably now done, in his name, by his servant and successor
Elisha. Nor does it seem to me otherwise but that Benhadad
immediately recovered of his disease, as the prophet foretold;
and that Hazael, upon his being anointed to succeed him though he
ought to have staid till he died by the course of nature, or some
other way of Divine punishment, as did David for many years in
the like case, was too impatient, and the very next day smothered
or strangled him, in order to come directly to the succession.

(13) What Mr. Le Clerc pretends here, that it is more probable
that Hazael and his son were worshipped by the Syrians and people
of Damascus till the days of Josephus, than Benhadad and Hazael,
because under Benhadad they had greatly suffered, and because it
is almost incredible that both a king and that king's murderer
should be worshipped by the same Syrians, is of little force
against those records, out of which Josephus drew this history,
especially when it is likely that they thought Benhadad died of
the distemper he labored under, and not by Hazael's treachery.
Besides, the reason that Josephus gives for this adoration, that
these two kings had been great benefactors to the inhabitants of
Damascus, and had built them temples, is too remote from the
political suspicions of Le Clerc; nor ought such weak suspicions
to be deemed of any force against authentic testimonies of

(14) This epistle, in some copies of Josephus, is said to come to
Jotare from Elijah, with this addition," for he was yet upon
earth," which could not be true of Elijah, who, as all agree, was
gone from the earth about four years before, and could only be
true of Elisha; nor perhaps is there any more mystery here, than
that the name of Elijah has very anciently crept into the text
instead of Elisha, by the copiers, there being nothing in any
copy of that epistle peculiar to Elijah.

(15) Spanheim here notes, that this putting off men's garments,
and strewing them under a king, was an Eastern custom, which he
had elsewhere explained.

(16) Our copies say that this "driving of the chariots was like
the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously,"
2 Kings 9:20; whereas Josephus's copy, as he understood it, was
this, that, on the contrary, Jehu marched slowly, and in good
order. Nor can it be denied, that since there was interval enough
for king Joram to send out two horsemen, one after another, to
Jehu, and at length to go out with king Ahaziah to meet him, and
all this after he was come within sight of the watchman, and
before he was come to Jezreel, the probability is greatly on the
side of Josephus's copy or interpretation.

(17) This character of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, that "he was a
good man, and in his disposition not at all like to his father,"
seems a direct contradiction to our ordinary copies, which say (2
Kings 13:11) that "he did evil in the sight of the Lord; and that
he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat,
who made Israel to sin: he walked therein." Which copies are here
the truest it is hard positively to determine. If Josephus's be
true, this Joash is the single instance of a good king over the
ten tribes; if the other be true, we have not one such example.
The account that follows, in all copies, of Elisha the prophet's
concern for him, and his concern for Elisha, greatly favors
Josephus's copies, and supposes this king to have been then a
good man, and no idolater, with whom God's prophets used not to
be so familiar. Upon the whole, since it appears, even by
Josephus's own account, that Amaziah, the good king of Judah,
while he was a good king, was forbidden to make use of the
hundred thousand auxiliaries he had hired of this Joash, the king
of Israel, as if he and they were then idolaters, 2 Chronicles
25:6-9, it is most likely that these different characters of
Joash suited the different parts of his reign, and that,
according to our common copies, he was at first a wicked king,
and afterwards was reclaimed, and became a good one, according to

(18) What I have above noted concerning Jehoash, seems to me to
have been true also concerning his son Jeroboam II., viz. that
although he began wickedly, as Josephus agrees with our other
copies, and, as he adds, "was the cause of a vast number of
misfortunes to the Israelites" in those his first years, (the
particulars of which are unhappily wanting both in Josephus and
in all our copies,) so does it seem to me that he was afterwards
reclaimed, and became a good king, and so was encouraged by the
prophet Jonah, and had great successes afterward, when "God had
saved the Israelites by the hand of Jeroboam, the son of Joash,"
2 Kings 14:27; which encouragement by Jonah, and great successes,
are equally observable in Josephus, and in the other copies.

(19) When Jonah is said in our Bibles to have gone to Tarshish,
Jonah 1:3, Josephus understood it that he went to Tarsus in
Cilicia, or to the Mediterranean Sea, upon which Tarsus lay; so
that he does not appear to have read the text, 1 Kings 22:48, as
our copies do, that ships of Tarshish could lie at Ezion-geber,
upon the Red Sea. But as to Josephus's assertion, that Jonah's
fish was carried by the strength of the current, upon a nean, it
is by no means an improbable determination in Josephus.

(20) This ancient piece of religion, of supposing there was great
sin where there was great misery, and of casting lots to discover
great sinners, not only among the Israelites, but among these
heathen mariners, seems a remarkable remains of the ancient
tradition which prevailed of old over all mankind, that I
Providence used to interpose visibly in all human affairs, and
storm, as far as the Euxine Sea, it is no way impossible; and
since the storm might have driven the ship, while Jonah was in it
never to bring, or at least not long to continue, notorious
judge, near to that Euxine Sea, and since in three more days,
while but for notorious sins, which the most ancient Book of he
was in the fish's belly, that current might bring him to the Job
shows to have been the state of mankind for about the Assyrian
coast, and since withal that coast could bring him former three
thousand years of the world, till the days of Job nearer to
Nineveh than could any coast of the Mediterranian and Moses.

(21) This account of an earthquake at Jerusalem at the very same
time when Uzziah usurped the priest's office, and went into the
sanctuary to burn incense, and of the consequences of the
earthquake, is entirely wanting in our other copies, though it be
exceeding like to a prophecy of Jeremiah, now in Zechariah 14:4,
5; in which prophecy mention is made of "fleeing from that
earthquake, as they fled from this earthquake in the days of
Uzziah king of Judah;" so that there seems to have been some
considerable resemblance between these historical and prophetical

(22) Dr. Wall, in his critical notes on 2 Kings 15:20, observes,
"that when this Menahem is said to have exacted the money of
Israel of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels
of silver, to give Pul, the king of Assyria, a thousand talents,
this is the first public money raised by any [Israelite] king by
tax on the people; that they used before to raise it out of the
treasures of the house of the Lord, or of their own house; that
it was a poll-money on the rich men, [and them only,] to raise
353,000, or, as others count a talent, 400,000, at the rate of
6 or 7 per head; and that God commanded, by Ezekiel, ch. 45:8;
46:18, that no such thing should be done [at the Jews'
restoration], but the king should have land of his own."

(23) This passage is taken out of the prophet Nahum, ch. 2:8-13,
and is the principal, or rather the only, one that is given us
almost verbatim, but a little abridged, in all Josephus's known
writings: by which quotation we learn what he himself always
asserts, viz. that he made use of the Hebrew original and not of
the Greek version]; as also we learn, that his Hebrew copy
considerably differed from ours. See all three texts particularly
set down and compared together in the Essay on the Old Testament,
page 187.

(24) This siege of Samaria, though not given a particular account
of, either in our Hebrew or Greek Bibles, or in Josephus, was so
very long, no less than three years, that it was no way
improbable but that parents, and particularly mothers, might
therein be reduced to eat their own children, as the law of Moses
had threatened upon their disobedience, Leviticus 26;29;
Deuteronomy 28:53-57; and as was accomplished in the other
shorter sieges of both the capital cities, Jerusalem and Samaria;
the former mentioned Jeremiah 19:9; Antiq. B. IX. ch. 4. sect. 4,
and the latter, 2 Kings 6:26-29.


(1) This title of great king, both in our Bibles, 2 Kings 18:19;
Isaiah 36:4, and here in Josephus, is the very same that
Herodotus gives this Sennacherib, as Spanheim takes notice on
this place.

(2) What Josephus says here, how Isaiah the prophet assured
Hezekiah that "at this time he should not be besieged by the king
of Assyria; that for the future he might be secure of being not
at all disturbed by him; and that [afterward] the people might go
on peaceably, and without fear, with their husbandry and other
affairs," is more distinct in our other copies, both of the Kings
and of Isaiah, and deserves very great consideration. The words
are these: "This shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this
year such as groweth of itself, and the second year that which
springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap,
and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof," 2 Kings 19:29;
Isaiah 37:30; which seem to me plainly to design a Sabbatic year,
a year of jubilee next after it, and the succeeding usual labors
and fruits of them on the third and following years.

(3) That this terrible calamity of the slaughter of the 185,000
Assyrians is here delivered in the words of Berosus the Chaldean,
and that it was certainly and frequently foretold by the Jewish
prophets, and that it was certainly and undeniably accomplished,
see Authent. Rec. part II. p. 858.

(3) We are here to take notice, that these two sons of
Sennacherib, that ran away into Armenia, became the heads of two
famous families there, the Arzerunii and the Genunii; of which
see the particular histories in Moses Chorenensis, p. 60.

(4) Josephus, and all our copies, place the sickness of Hezekiah
after the destruction of Sennacherib's army, because it appears
to have been after his first assault, as he was going into Arabia
and Egypt, where he pushed his conquests as far as they would go,
and in order to despatch his story altogether; yet does no copy
but this of Josephus say it was after that destruction, but only
that it happened in those days, or about that time of Hezekiah's
life. Nor will the fifteen years' prolongation of his life after
his sickness, allow that sickness to have been later than the
former part of the fifteenth year of his reign, since chronology
does not allow him in all above twenty-nine years and a few
months; whereas the first assault of Sennacherib was on the
fourteenth year of Hezekiah, but the destruction of Sennacherib's
army was not till his eighteenth year.

(5) As to this regress of the shadow, either upon a sun-dial, or
the steps of the royal palace built by Ahaz, whether it were
physically done by the real miraculous revolution of the earth in
its diurnal motion backward from east to west for a while, and
its return again to its old natural revolution from west to east;
or whether it were not apparent only, and performed by an aerial
phosphorus, which imitated the sun's motion backward, while a
cloud hid the real sun; cannot now be determined. Philosophers
and astronomers will naturally incline to the latter hypothesis.
However, it must be noted, that Josephus seems to have understood
it otherwise than we generally do, that the shadow was
accelerated as much at first forward as it was made to go
backward afterward, and so the day was neither longer nor shorter
than usual; which, it must be confessed agrees best of all to
astronomy, whose eclipses, older than the time were observed at
the same times of the day as if this miracle had never happened.
After all, this wonderful signal was not, it seems, peculiar to
Judea, but either seen, or at least heard of, at Babylon also, as
appears by 2 Chronicles 32:31, where we learn that the Babylonian
ambassadors were sent to Hezekiah, among other things, to inquire
of the wonder that was done in the land.

(6) This expression of Josephus, that the Medes, upon this
destruction of the Assyrian army, "overthrew" the Assyrian
empire, seems to be too strong; for although they immediately
cast off the Assrian yoke, and set up Deioces, a king of their
own, yet it was some time before the Medes and Babylonians
overthrew Nineveh, and some generations ere the Medes and
Persians under Cyaxares and Cyrus overthrew the Assyrian or
Babylonian empire, and took Babylon.

(7) It is hard to reconcile the account in the Second Book of
Kings (ch. 23:11) with this account in Josephus, and to translate
this passage truly in Josephus, whose copies are supposed to be
here imperfect. However, the general sense of both seems to be
this: That there were certain chariots, with their horses,
dedicated to the idol of the sun, or to Moloch; which idol might
be carried about in procession, and worshipped by the people;
which chariots were now "taken away," as Josephus says, or, as
the Book of Kings says, "burnt with fire, by Josiah."

(8) This is a remarkable passage of chronology in Josephus, that
about the latter end of the reign of Josiah, the Medes and
Babylonians overthrew the empire of the Assyrians; or, in the
words of Tobit's continuator, that "before Tobias died, he heard
of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nebuchodonosor
the Babylonian, and Assuerus the Mede," Tob. 14:15. See Dean
Prideaux's Connexion, at the year 612.

(9) This battle is justly esteemed the very same that Herodotus
(B. II. sect. 156) mentions, when he says, that "Necao joined
battle with the Syrians [or Jews] at Magdolum, [Megiddo,] and
beat them," as Dr. Hudson here observes.

(10) Whether Josephus, from 2 Chronicles 35:25, here means the
book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, still extant, which chiefly
belongs to the destruction of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, or
to any other like melancholy poem now lost, but extant in the
days of Josephus, belonging peculiarly to Josiah, cannot now be

(11) This ancient city Hamath, which is joined with Arpad, or
Aradus, and with Damascus, 2 Kings 18:34; Isaiah 36:19; Jeremiah
49:23, cities of Syria and Phoenicia, near the borders of Judea,
was also itself evidently near the same borders, though long ago
utterly destroyed.

(12) Josephus says here that Jeremiah prophesied not only of the
return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, and this under
the Persians and Medes, as in our other copies; but of cause they
did not both say the same thing as to this circumstance, he
disbelieved what they both appeared to agree in, and condemned
them as not speaking truth therein, although all the things
foretold him did come to pass according to their prophecies, as
we shall show upon a fitter opportunity their rebuilding the
temple, and even the city Jerusalem, which do not appear in our
copies under his name. See the note on Antiq. B. XI. ch. 1. sect.

(13) This observation of Josephus about the seeming disagreement
of Jeremiah, ch. 32:4, and 34:3, and Ezekiel 12:13, but real
agreement at last, concerning the fate of Zedekiah, is very true
and very remarkable. See ch. 7. sect. 2. Nor is it at all
unlikely that the courtiers and false prophets might make use of
this seeming contradiction to dissuade Zedekiah from believing
either of those prophets, as Josephus here intimates he was
dissuaded thereby.

(14) I have here inserted in brackets this high priest Azarias,
though he be omitted in all Josephus's copies, out of the Jewish
chronicle, Seder Olam, of how little authority soever I generally
esteem such late Rabbinical historians, because we know from
Josephus himself, that the number of the high priests belonging
to this interval was eighteen, Antiq. B. XX. ch. 10., whereas his
copies have here but seventeen. Of this character of Baruch, the
son of Neriah, and the genuineness of his book, that stands now
in our Apocrypha, and that it is really a canonical book, and an
appendix to Jeremiah, see Authent. Rec. Part I. p. 1--11.

(15) Herodotus says, this king of Egypt [Pharaoh Hophra, or
Apries] was slain by the Egyptians, as Jeremiah foretold his
slaughter by his enemies, Jeremiah 44:29, 30, and that as a sign
of the destruction of Egypt [by Nebuchadnezzar]. Josephus says,
this king was slain by Nebuchadnezzar himself.

(16) We see here that Judea was left in a manner desolate after
the captivity of the two tribes and was not I with foreign
colonies, perhaps as an indication of Providence that the Jews
were to repeople it without opposition themselves. I also esteem
the latter and present desolate condition of the same country,
without being repeopled by foreign colonies, to be a like
indication, that the same Jews are hereafter to repeople it again
themselves, at their so long expected future restoration.

(17) That Daniel was made one of these eunuchs of which Isaiah
prophesied, Isaiah 39:7, and the three children his companions
also, seems to me plain, both here in Josephus, and in our copies
of Daniel, Daniel 1:3, 6-11, 18, although it must be granted that
some married persons, that had children, were sometimes called
eunuchs, in a general acceptation for courtiers, on account that
so many of the ancient courtiers were real eunuchs. See Genesis

(18) Of this most remarkable passage in Josephus concerning the
"stone cut out of the mountain, and destroying the image," which
he would not explain, but intimated to be a prophecy of futurity,
and probably not safe for him to explain, as belonging to the
destruction of the Roman empire by Jesus Christ, the true Messiah
of the Jews, take the words of Hayercamp, ch. 10. sect. 4: "Nor
is this to be wondered at, that he would not now meddle with
things future, for he had no mind to provoke the Romans, by
speaking of the destruction of that city which they called the
Eternal City."

(19) Since Josephus here explains the seven prophetic times which
were to pass over Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:16) to be seven years,
we thence learn how he most probably must have understood those
other parallel phrases, of "a time, times, and a half," Antiq. B.
VII. ch. 25., of so many prophetic years also, though he withal
lets us know, by his hint at the interpretation of the seventy
weeks, as belonging to the fourth monarchy, and the destruction
of Jerusalem by the Romans in the days of Josephus, ch. 2. sect.
7, that he did not think those years to be bare years, but rather
days for years; by which reckoning, and by which alone, could
seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety days, reach to the age
of Josephus. But as to the truth of those seven years' banishment
of Nebuchadnezzar from men, and his living so long among the
beasts, the very small remains we have any where else of this
Nebuchadnezzar prevent our expectation of any other full account
of it. So far we knew by Ptolemy's canon, a contemporary record,
as well as by Josephus presently, that he reigned in all
forty-three years, that is, eight years after we meet with any
account of his actions; one of the last of which was the thirteen
years' siege of Tyre, Antiq. B. XI. ch. 11., where yet the Old
Latin has but three years and ten months: yet were his actions
before so remarkable, both in sacred and profane authors, that a
vacuity of eight years at the least, at the latter end of his
reign, must be allowed to agree very well with Daniel's accounts;
that after a seven years' brutal life, he might return to his
reason, and to the exercise of his royal authority, for one whole
year at least before his death.

(20) These forty-three years for the duration of the reign of
Nebuchadnezzar are, as I have just now observed, the very same
number in Ptolemy's canon. Moses Chorenensis does also confirm
this captivity of the Jews under Nebuchadnezzar, and adds, what
is very remarkable, that sale of those Jews that were carried by
him into captivity got away into Armenia, and raised the great
family of the Bagratide there.

(21) These twenty-one years here ascribed to one named
Naboulassar, in the first book against Apion, or to
Nabopollassar, the father of the great Nebuchadnezzar, are also
the very same with those given him in Ptolemy's canon. And note
here, that what Dr. Prideaux says, at the year, that
Nebuchadnezzar must have been a common name of other kings of
Babylon, besides the great Nebuchadnezzar himself is a groundless
mistake of some modern chronologers rely, and destitute of all
proper original authority.

(22) These fifteen days for finishing such vast buildings at
Babylon, in Josephus's copy of Berosus, would seem too absurd to
be supposed to be the true number, were it not for the same
testimony extant also in the first book against Apion, sect. 19,
with the same number. It thence indeed appears that Josephus's
copy of Berosus had this small number, but that it is the true
number I still doubt. Josephus assures us, that the walls of so
much a smaller city as Jerusalem were two years and four months
in building by Nehemiah, who yet hastened the work all he could,
Antiq. B. XI. ch. 5. sect. 8. I should think one hundred and
fifteen days, or a year and fifteen days, much more
proportionable to so great a work.

(23) It is here remarkable that Josephus, without the knowledge
of Ptolemy's canon, should call the same king whom he himself
here (Bar. i. 11, and Daniel 5:1, 2, 9, 12, 22, 29, 39) styles
Beltazar, or Belshazzar, from the Babylonian god Bel, Naboandelus
also; and in the first book against Apion, sect. 19, vol. iii.,
from the same citation out of Berosus, Nabonnedon, from the
Babylonian god Nabo or Nebo. This last is not remote from the
original pronunciation itself in Ptolemy's canon, Nabonadius; for
both the place of this king in that canon, as the last of the
Assyrian or Babylonian kings, and the number of years of his
reign, seventeen, the same in both demonstrate that it is one and
the same king that is meant by them all. It is also worth noting,
that Josephus knew that Darius, the partner of Cyrus, was the son
of Astyages, and was called by another name among the Greeks,
though it does not appear he knew what that name was, as having
never seen the best history of this period, which is Xenophon's.
But then what Josephus's present copies say presently, sect. 4,
that it was only within no long time after the hand-writing on
the wall that Baltasar was slain, does not so well agree with our
copies of Daniel, which say it was the same night, Daniel 5:30.

(24) This grandmother, or mother of Baltasar, the queen dowager
of Babylon, (for she is distinguished from his queen, Daniel
5:10, 13,) seems to have been the famous Nitocris, who fortified
Babylon against the Medes and Persians, and, in all probability
governed under Baltasar, who seems to be a weak and effeminate

(25) It is no way improbable that Daniel's enemies might suggest
this reason to the king why the lions did not meddle with him and
that they might suspect the king's kindness to Daniel had
procured these lions to be so filled beforehand, and that thence
it was that he encouraged Daniel to submit to this experiment, in
hopes of coming off safe; and that this was the true reason of
making so terrible an experiment upon those his enemies, and all
their families, Daniel 6:21, though our other copies do not
directly take notice of it

(26) What Josephus here says, that the stones of the sepulchers
of the kings of Persia at this tower, or those perhaps of the
same sort that are now commonly called the ruins of Persepolis,
continued so entire and unaltered in his days, as if they were
lately put there, "I (says Reland) here can show to be true, as
to those stones of the Persian mansoleum, which Com. Brunius
brake off and gave me." He ascribed this to the hardness of the
stones, which scarcely yields to iron tools, and proves
frequently too hard for cutting by the chisel, but oftentimes
breaks it to pieces.


(1) This Cyrus is called God's shepherd by Xenophon, as well as
by Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28; as also it is said of him by the same
prophet, that "I will make a man more precious than fine gold,
even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir," Isaiah 13:12, which
character makes Xenophon's most excellent history of him very

(2) This leave to build Jerusalem, sect. 3, and this epistle of
Cyrus to Sisinnes and Sathrabuzanes, to the same purpose, are
most unfortunately omitted in all our copies but this best and
completest copy of Josephus; and by such omission the famous
prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 44:28, where we are informed that God
said of or to Cyrus, "He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my
pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to
the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid," could not hitherto be
demonstrated from the sacred history to have been completely
fulfilled, I mean as to that part of it which concerned his
giving leave or commission for rebuilding the city Jerusalem as
distinct from the temple, whose rebuilding is alone permitted or
directed in the decree of Cyrus in all our copies.

(3) Of the true number of golden and silver vessels here and
elsewhere belonging to the temple of Solomon, see the description
of the temples, chap. 13.

(4) Josephus here follows Herodotus, and those that related how
Cyrus made war with the Scythians and Massagets, near the Caspian
Sea, and perished in it; while Xenophon's account, which appears
never to have been seen by Josephus, that Cyrus died in peace in
his own country of Persia, is attested to by the writers of the
affairs of Alexander the Great, when they agree that he found
Cyrus's sepulcher at Pasargadae, near Persepolis. This account of
Xenophon is also confirmed by the circumstances of Cambyses, upon
his succession to Cyrus, who, instead of a war to avenge his
father's death upon the Scythians and Massagets, and to prevent
those nations from overrunning his northern provinces, which
would have been the natural consequence of his father's ill
success and death there, went immediately to an Egyptian war,
long ago begun by Cyrus, according to Xenophon, p. 644, and
conquered that kingdom; nor is there, that I ever heard of, the
least mention in the reign of Cambyses of any war against the
Scythians and Massagets that he was ever engaged in all his life.

(5) The reader is to note, that although the speeches or papers
of these three of the king's guard are much the same, in our
Third Book of Esdras, ch. 3. and 4., as they are here in
Josephus, yet that the introduction of them is entirely
different, while in our Esdras the whole is related as the
contrivance of the three of the king's guards themselves; and
even the mighty rewards are spoken of as proposed by themselves,
and the speeches are related to have been delivered by themselves
to the king in writing, while all is contrary in Josephus. I need
not say whose account is the most probable, the matters speak for
themselves; and there can be no doubt but Josephus's history is
here to be very much preferred before the other. Nor indeed does
it seem to me at all unlikely that the whole was a contrivance of
king Darius's own, in order to be decently and inoffensively put
in mind by Zorobabel of fulfilling his old vow for the rebuilding
of Jerusalem and the temple, and the restoration of the worship
of the "one true God" there. Nor does the full meaning of
Zorobabel, when he cries out, 3 Esd. 4. 41), "Blessed be the God
of truth ;" and here, "God is true and righteous;" or even of all
the people, 3 Esd. 4. 41, "Great is truth, and mighty above all
things ;" seem to me much different from this, "There is but one
true God, the God of Israel." To which doctrine, such as Cyrus
and Darius; etc., the Jews' great patrons, seem not to have been
very averse, though the entire idolatry of their kingdoms made
them generally conceal it.

(6) This strange reading in Josephus's present copies of four
millions instead of forty thousand, is one of the grossest errors
that is in them, and ought to be corrected from Ezra 2:61; 1 Esd.
5:40; and Nehemiah 7:66, who all agree the general sum was but
about forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty. It is also very
plain that Josephus thought, that when Esdras afterwards brought
up another company out of Babylon and Persia, in the days of
Xerxes, they were also, as well as these, out of the two tribes,
and out of them only, and were in all no more than "a seed" and
"a remnant," while an "immense number" of the ten tribes never
returned, but, as he believed, continued then beyond Euphrates,
ch. 5. sect. 2, 3; of which multitude, the Jews beyond Euphrates,
he speaks frequently elsewhere, though, by the way, he never
takes them to be idolaters, but looks on them still as observers
of the laws of Moses. The "certain part" of the people that now
came up from Babylon, at the end of this chapter, imply the same
smaller number of Jews that now came up, and will no way agree
with the four millions.

(7) The history contained in this section is entirely wanting in
all our other copies, both of Ezra and Esdras.

(8) Dr. Hudson takes notice here, that this kind of brass or
copper, or rather mixture of gold and brass or copper, was called
aurichalcum, and that this was of old esteemed the most precious
of all metals.

(9) This procedure of Esdras, and of the best part of the Jewish
nation, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, of
reducing the Jewish marriages, once for all, to the strictness of
the law of Moses, without any regard to the greatness of those
who had broken it, and without regard to that natural affection
or compassion for their heathen wives, and their children by
them, which made it so hard for Esdras to correct it, deserves
greatly to be observed and imitated in all attempts for
reformation among Christians, the contrary conduct having ever
been the bane of true religion, both among Jews and Christians,
while political views, or human passions, or prudential motives,
are suffered to take place instead of the Divine laws, and so the
blessing of God is forfeited, and the church still suffered to
continue corrupt from one generation to another. See ch. 8. sect.

(10) This Jewish feast of tabernacles was imitated in several
heathen solemnities, as Spanheim here observes and proves. He
also further observes presently, what great regard many heathens
had to the monuments of their forefathers, as Nehemiah had here,
sect. 6.

(11) This rule of Esdras, not to fast on a festival day, is
quoted in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. V., as obtaining
among Christians also.

(12) This miserable condition of the Jews, and their capital,
must have been after the death of Esdras, their former governor,
and before Nehemiah came with his commission to build the walls
of Jerusalem. Nor is that at all disagreeable to these histories
in Josephus, since Esdras came on the seventh, and Nehemiah not
till the twenty-fifth of Xerxes, at the interval of eighteen

(13) This showing king Xerxes's epistles to God, or laying them
open before God in the temple, is very like the laying open the
epistles of Sennacherib before him also by Hezekiah, 2 Kings
19:14; Isaiah 37:14, although this last was for a memorial, to
put him in mind of the enemies, in order to move the Divine
compassion, and the present as a token of gratitude for mercies
already received, as Hayercamp well observes on this place.

(14) It may not be very improper to remark here, with what an
unusual accuracy Josephus determines these years of Xerxes, in
which the walls of Jerusalem were built, viz. that Nehemiah came
with his commission in the twenty-fifth of Xerxes, that the walls
were two years and four months in building, and that they were
finished on the twenty-eighth of Xerxes, sect. 7, 8. It may also
be remarked further, that Josephus hardly ever mentions more than
one infallible astronomical character, I mean an eclipse of the
moon, and this a little before the death of Herod the Great,
Antiq. B. XVII. ch. 6. sect. 4. Now on these two chronological
characters in great measure depend some of the most important
points belonging to Christianity, viz. the explication of
Daniel's seventy weeks, and the duration of our Savior's
ministry, and the time of his death, in correspondence to those
seventy weeks. See the Supplement to the Lit. Accorap. of Proph.
p. 72.

(15) Since some skeptical persons are willing to discard this
Book of Esther as no true history; and even our learned and
judicious Dr. Wall, in his late posthumous Critical Notes upon
all the other Hebrew books of the Old Testament, gives none upon
the Canticles, or upon Esther, and seems thereby to give up this
book, as well as he gives up the Canticles, as indefensible; I
shall venture to say, that almost all the objections against this
Book of Esther are gone at once, if, as we certainly ought to do,
and as Dean Prideaux has justly done, we place this history under
Artsxerxes Longimanus, as do both the Septuagint interpretation
and Josephus. The learned Dr. Lee, in his posthumous Dissertation
on the Second Book of Esdras, p. 25, also says, that "the truth
of this history is demonstrated by the feast of Purlin, kept up
from that time to this very day. And this surprising providential
revolution in favor of a captive people, thereby constantly
commemorated, standeth even upon a firmer basis than that there
ever was such a man as king Alexander [the Great] in the world,
of whose reign there is no such abiding monument at this day to
be found any where. Nor will they, I dare say, who quarrel at
this or any other of the sacred histories, find it a very easy
matter to reconcile the different accounts which were given by
historians of the affairs of this king, or to confirm any one
fact of his whatever with the same evidence which is here given
for the principal fact in this sacred book, or even so much as to
prove the existence of such a person, of whom so great things are
related, but. upon granting this Book of Esther, or sixth of
Esdras, (as it is placed in some of the most ancient copies of
the Vulgate,) to be a most true and certain history," etc.

(16) If the Chaldee paraphrast be in the right, that Artaxerxes
intended to show Vashti to his guests naked, it is no wonder at
all that she would not submit to such an indignity; but still if
it were not so gross as that, yet it might, in the king's cups,
be done in a way so indecent, as the Persian laws would not then
bear, no more than the common laws of modesty. And that the king
had some such design seems not improbable, for otherwise the
principal of these royal guests could be no strangers to the
queen, nor unapprized of her beauty, so far as decency admitted.
However, since Providence was now paving the way for the
introduction of a Jewess into the king's affections, in order to
bring about one of the most wonderful deliverances which the
Jewish or any other nation ever had, we need not be further
solicitous about the motives by which the king was induced to
divorce Vashti, and marry Esther.

(17) Herodotus says that this law [against any one's coming
uncalled to the kings of Persia when they were sitting on their
thrones] was first enacted by Deioces [i.e. by him who first
withdrew the Medes from the dominion of the Assyrians, and
himself first reigned over them]. Thus also, lays Spanheim, stood
guards, with their axes, about the throne of Tenus, or Tenudus,
that the offender might by them be punished immediately.

(18) Whether this adoration required of Mordecai to Haman were by
him deemed too like the adoration due only to God, as Josephus
seems here to think, as well as the Septuagint interpreters also,
by their translation of Esther 13:12-14, or whether he thought he
ought to pay no sort of adoration to an Amalekite, which nation
had been such great sinners as to have been universally devoted
to destruction by God himself, Exodus 17:14-16; 1 Samuel 15:18,
or whether both causes concurred, cannot now, I doubt, be
certainly determined.

(19) The true reason why king Artaxerxes did not here properly
revoke his former barbarous decree for the universal slaughter of
the Jews, but only empowered and encouraged the Jews to fight for
their lives, and to kill their enemies, if they attempted their
destruction, seems to have been that old law of the Medes and
Persians, not yet laid aside, that whatever decree was signed
both by the king and his lords could not be changed, but remained
unalterable, Daniel 6:7-9, 12, 15, 17; Esther 1:19; 8:8. And
Haman having engrossed the royal favor might perhaps have himself
signed this decree for the Jews' slaughter instead of the ancient
lords, and so might have rendered it by their rules irrevocable.

(21) These words give an intimation as if Artaxerxes suspected a
deeper design in Haman than openly appeared, viz. that knowing
the Jews would be faithful to him, and that he could never
transfer the crown to his own family, who was an Agagite, Esther
3:1, 10, or of the posterity of Agag, the old king of the
Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15:8, 32, 33, while they were alive, and
spread over all his dominions, he therefore endeavored to destroy
them. Nor is it to me improbable that those seventy-five thousand
eight hundred of the Jews' enemies which were soon destroyed by
the Jews, on the permission of the king, which must be on some
great occasion, were Amalekites, their old and hereditary
enemies, Exodus 17:14, 15; and that thereby was fulfilled
Balaam's prophecy, "Amalek was the first of the nations, but his
latter end shall be, that he perish for ever" Numbers 24:20.

(21) Take here part of Reland's note on this disputed passage:
"In Josephus's copies these Hebrew words, 'days of Purim,' or '
lots,' as in the Greek copies of Esther, ch. 9:26, 28-32, is read
'days of Phurim,' or 'days of protection,' but ought to be read'
days of Parira,' as in the Hebrew; than which creation," says he,
"nothing is more certain." And had we any assurance that
Josephus's copy mentioned the "casting of lots," as our other
copies do, Esther 3:7, I should fully agree with Reland; but, as
it now stands, it seems to me by no means certain. As to this
whole Book of Esther in the present Hebrew copy, it is so very
imperfect, in a case where the providence of God was so very
remarkable, and the Septuagint and Josephus have so much of
religion, that it has not so much as the name of God once in it;
and it is hard to say who made that epitome which the Masorites
have given us for the genuine book itself; no religious Jews
could well be the authors of it, whose education obliged them to
have a constant regard to God, and whatsoever related to his
worship; nor do we know that there ever was so imperfect a copy
of it in the world till after the days of Barchochab, in the
second century.

(22) Concerning this other Artaxerxes, called Muemon, and the
Persian affliction and captivity of the Jews under him,
occasioned by the murder of the high priest's brother in the holy
house itself, see Authent. Rec. at large, p. 49. And if any
wonder why Josephus wholly omits the rest of the kings of Persia
after Artaxerxes Mnemon, till he came to their last king Darius,
who was conquered by Alexander the Great, I shall give them
Vossius's and Dr. Hudson's answer, though in my own words, viz.
that Josephus did not do ill in admitting those kings of Persia
with whom the Jews had no concern, because he was giving the
history of the Jews, and not of the Persians [which is a
sufficient reason also why he entirely omits the history and the


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