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recovered from a temporary depression, and begun to extend its borders. The first consequence was an invasion of the Northern provinces, the overthrow of Damascus, the death of Pekah, and the substitution for him of an obedient vassal, Hoshea. To this succeeded a further revolt, and a still more signal vengeance. Under Sargon, the Assyrians, after a horrible siege, captured Samaria, transported the inhabitants to the East, and finally ended the Northern kingdom. From this time, by the dispersion of the ten tribes, the so-called Israelites disappear from history.

But what, meanwhile, during this last agony of their brethren, were the rulers of the Southern kingdom content to be doing? Ahaz had perhaps inherited the policy of temporizing and intriguing from his predecessor; but it was doubtful whether under any circumstances, menaced as he had been by Pekah, in conjunction with the King of Syria, he would have been allowed by public opinion to bring any aid to Samaria. Hezekiah, his successor, at first carried on the same policy, alternately paying tribute to Assyria and coquetting with Egypt, despite the warnings of his prophet. Isaiah always steadily deprecated the Egyptian alliance, inventing a derisive name for the rulers of the twenty-fourth dynasty and the land they governed-" Rahab-sit-still" (the monster who never does anything). Then, almost suddenly, perhaps because he was inspirited by an embassy sent to him from Merodach-Baladan, and the rising empire of Babylon, Hezekiah throws off his tributary dependence on Assyria, combines as many of the Palestinian powers as he could induce to join him, and raises the standard of revolt. There follow the march of the new Assyrian monarch Sennacherib, his successive conquests in the north and west, and the invasion of Judah and the investment of Jerusalem. The siege of the sacred city is, of course, an historic one, graphically painted, as it has been, by Isaiah himself. We know how Rabshakeh came and harangued the beleaguered folk gathered on the walls, how he was implored to speak in the Syrian tongue, and how he refused to use any other language than the Jewish, in order that he might be understood by the

famished and hard-pressed inhabitants. We often hear that speech read, a speech full of menace and scorn, with its description of Assyria's invincible career and its utter contempt both for the national God of the Jews and for the broken reed on which Judah was often inclined to trust, Egypt, "Rahab-sit-still." We are also aware that the Assyrians failed to capture Jerusalem, partly because cholera and typhus (the pestilence described as "the angel of the Lord ") broke out in their camp, and partly because Babylon was causing trouble on the confines of Assyria. There are records of all these events in the wonderful terra-cotta tablets brought over by Layard and other explorers from Nineveh, records which can be seen in the British Museum, and which confirm and illustrate the Jewish story. But what is not referred to, and yet can be indubitably gathered as perhaps the main cause of the Assyrian failure and the Jewish success, is the unique personality of the prophet Isaiah. Alone among the panic-stricken inhabitants of Jerusalem, there was a man whose heart never quailed. He was like Gordon in Khartoum; Dr. Whitehouse compares him also to Havelock in Lucknow. Think what the issues were. Outside the walls lay the unconquered, densely-serried ranks of the Assyrians. Inside were doubts, despair, the reproaches, perhaps, of Isaiah's enemy, Shebna the scribe, the vacillations of Hezekiah. No one could know in Jerusalem that Babylon was keeping her promise, or that the Assyrian camp was visited with a desolating pestilence. The fate of David's ancestral throne, of Jahveh's chosen city, seemed to hang in the balance, suspended by a single thread over a gaping chasm. Yet the prophet's soul is calm, untroubled, dauntless, secure. He bids, without an accent of fear or doubt, both King and people have faith in the God of their fathers, Immanuel, the Lord with us.

This is the sublimest point in Isaiah's career, the triumph of his religious and statesmanlike policy. The prophet had a reward which does not often happen to men of his vocation -his predictions were forthwith realized. But it was not, of course, the mere successes of his preaching, but its inner

character and quality which are most characteristic of the man. At a time when religion throughout both Northern and Southern kingdoms was largely local and tribal, he asked of his countrymen a wider conception of Divinity than any which could be associated with the sacredness of particular places. Like Amos of Samaria, he preached that Jahveh's sovereignty was universal, and that the great empire of Assyria itself was only an instrument, "the mace of Jahveh's wrath when he wished to punish and discipline his people. Moreover, like all the true prophets and seers of history, he made this universal sovereignty rest on foundations of justice and righteousness, describing the duty of faith in this universal spirit as it had never been urged before by any of his predecessors. Indeed, there was a singular simplicity and purity about Isaiah's exhortations. He lifted up his voice against the pride and arrogance of wealth, the military ostentation of horses and chariots, the various forms of what he called "idolatry." In his age, as also in our own, men attempted to call up the spirits of the dead. Against this practice of necromancy Isaiah sternly set his face-one could find texts against our modern spiritualism in his chapters. For instance (viii. 19), "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? On behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?" (Revised Version.) He does not seem, it is true, to have carried his vision beyond earth's confines, or even the times in which he lived, while his faith was essentially bound up with Jahveh's dwelling-place, Zion. Modern scholarship will not allow us to associate the Apocalyptic passages with the original Isaiah, for beginning with the fortieth chapter we get what is called the Second Isaiah, whose writings belong to the exile period, nearly 200 years afterwards, and, perhaps, a third Isaiah, from chapter lvi., with writings composed after the return from exile. With such matters as these, however, we have no present need to concern ourselves. The Isaiah who lived in the reign of Ahaz and Hezekiah, and who, as tradition states, was sawn

asunder in the reign of Manasseh, was at once a splendid patriot and a moralist of the highest type. He upheld the fortunes of his country in her darkest hour, and clothed his exhortations in language of immortal poetry. I think that he, as a writer, was always attracted by the phenomena of sound. Storm and hurricane, the fury of waves, the sound of many waters and battling winds, are always echoing through his verses. And the ideal he sought to put before his countrymen was an ideal of righteousness, simplicity of life, and faith in a God of universal sovereignty-a God for ever present among his people under the title Immanuel.


CONSIDERABLE importance is to be attributed to Isaiah's theology, especially as it throws light upon that prophetic religion which stands in such clear contrast with the priestly religion. It will be remembered that the religious faith of Israel passed through three or four different phases. We have in the first place a faith, in many respects rude and simple, but emphasizing on the whole that union of morality and social duty with such theological dogmas as were then accepted, which is throughout the characteristic tenet of Hebraism. To that succeeds a faith practised when the twelve tribes settled in Canaan and here and there adopted some of the tenets which they found existing in the Promised Land. Then comes the religion of the Prophets, returning to the simple elements of the early nomad faith. And in the last place we have an ecclesiastical religion, commencing with the reforms of Josiah and the discovery of Deuteronomy, but carried out in detail after the return from the exile to Babylon. Now by the prophetic religion we mean mainly that which was inculcated by such Prophets as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, and which occupied the eighth century, a hundred years before the reformation of Josiah. During the eighth century and earlier the religion of Israel was closely bound up with the worship of the High Places. Jahveh was worshipped as a kind of local Baal, the lord or owner of the sacred spot dedicated to him. There were various symbols of his sovereignty. The commonest was a stone pillar, sometimes a rude, unshaped block, called "Massebah." In the worship of these local sanctuaries the blood or oil of the sacrifice was smeared upon the stone,

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