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“ Now King David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, let there be sought for any lord the king a young virgin : and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. So they sought for a fair damsel ibroughout all the coasts of Israel and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. And the damisel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him : but the king knew her not."
I shall make no observations on this pretty story myself, but quote the witty version of Lord Byron, in his Don Juan.
“ 'Tis written in the Hebrew Chronicled
For David lived, but Juan nearly died." David died as he had lived, instructing his successor Solomon in the base practice of private assassination, and this “ wisest of mankind” proves himself to be an aclept in the art of Moses, Jehovah, Samuel, Saul, and his father David.
I shall take but a general view of the life and reign of Solomon, as the exaggerations respecting him are so gross, as to be unworthy of particular notice. In the first place I consider his temple to have been fabricated in the same brain as was the ark built by Moses, and that no such thing as described ever existed in reality. It is impossible that such an immense quantity of gold and silver should be congregated in one spot. The Inca's of Mexico and Peru never made such a display with gold, and if it had been possible, it must have been in those countries where gold abounds, and is as common, as copper or tin in England. It is the oflspring of a Jewish brain, which has ever attempted to depict its own country as more excellent in all things than any other, when, in fact, it has been in every respect inferior. Gold in Judea must either have been the product of conquest or commerce. Now, of commerce we read not a word, and the conquests, if we credit the whole related, could never have procured such an immense quantity of gold as is said to have been used by Solomon. The profusion is so great that Josephus says, his guards had their long hair interspersed with a fine gold thread, so as to reflect the rays of the sun. It is said that Hiram, the King of Tyre, furnished
Solomon with much gold. In one place of the Bible this Hiram of Tyre is represented as the cunning workman who devised and made all the curious works about the temple, whether in masonry, in wood, or in metal. The exaggerations of the Bible by no means approach those of Josephus with respect to Solomon and his temple; so after noticing the Bible history of Solomon, I shall amuse the reader by referring to Josephus for a few exaggerations or lies.
The decision of Solomon respecting the two mothers, and to which the dead and living child belonged, was an appeal to nature for an equitable judgment. It must be applauded. But if Solomon was the only judge in Israel, how was justice administered to the million that must have been scattered in remote places? There is nothing sublime in this notion of government. The story of the mother and children I insert, it is interesting:
“ Then came there two women that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it canie to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house. And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thiue handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I arose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead : and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. And the king said, Briag me a sword : and they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in 110 wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof."
The next particular is of Solomon's power, riches, and wisdom. The Jew has made him the emblem of all that is gra
tifying to the human mind, I give another string of exaggerations.
I shall make no observations here, but reserve them for the more minute particulars of Josephus.
“ Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry. And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life. And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, ten tat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an laundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl. For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and be bad peace on all sides round about m. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon. And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. And those officers provided victuals for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon's table, every man in his month ; they lacked nothing. Barley also and straw for the horses and dro. medaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge. And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of ail the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men ; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of tishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Kings we break all at once into Solomon's misconduct and Jehovah's anger with him! The following is the tale :
“ But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these iu love. And he had seven
hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with the Lord bis Gorl, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcolm the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosli, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.”
Poor Jehovah was dreadfully annoyed by the Gods of his neighbours, and Solomon in the heighth of his wisdom and splendour, seems to have thought it as necessary to have a multitude of Gods as a multitude of wives. It is quite ridiculous to attempt to confine the mind of man to any one idol. The Romans discovered this, therefore they adopted a national God for every distinct purpose, or to preside over all their actions. Well might Gibbon call'it the elegant my , thology” of the Romans, when he was treating on the absurd idolatry of the Jews and Christians. We hear no more of Solomon after this falling off from Jehovah. He is denounced and dies. The Christians have disputed among themselves whether David and Solomon are in hell or heaven. The more conscientious part insist that there in no proof in the Bible of their repentance for their sins; but those, who are inclined to jog on to heaven in the easiest way possible, are induced to believe, that the grace which Jehovah had once endowed them with was sufficient, and that after they had been elected they could not fall off from the enjoyment of salvation. I shall not attempt to decide between them, but leave them to dispute such matters until their eyes are open and their senses unlocked. As yet we can discover no single trait of foresight in Jehovah, the whole of his conduct seems to have been regulated by the conduct of the Jews, and to-day he promises rewards and to-morrow punishments according to his humour. I cannot believe the history of Solomon as having been the King of the Jews. It has all the appearance of fable and ro
mance. I can make a great allowance for the customs of other countries, but the test of nature and truth must be applied to ancient history, and by this standard it must be tried. Whatever comes to my mind as probable, I have no objection to believe, at least, I would not cavil with trifles: but improbabilities I shall be ever ready to reject. I hold it to be the bounden duty of man to keep his mind free from such.
(To be continued.)
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