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find the appellation of Judah, applied to the nation, in common with that of Israel.
The lot of Simeon lying next, and within that of Judah, the two portions occupying the whole south of Canaan, between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, they agreed to combine their forces, until both should be in possession of the territory assigned to them.
Canaan was at this time powerful in population and arms. It was governed by a great nuinber of chiefs, with the pompous title of kings ; although their respective dominions seem often to have been limited to a single city and its suburbs. One of these petty kings was found on the first expedition of Judah, in a place called Bezek; his troops were beaten, and himself taken, and sent to end his days in Jerusalem, a few miles distant from Bezek, after his thumbs and great toes had been cut off.
CHARLES. That was a singular infliction ! how came the Israelites to perpetrate so useless a cruelty ?
Mrs. M. The confession of Adoni-bezek will at once answer your question and let you a little into the character of the Canaanites, and you will thereby be induced to acquiesce in the retributive justice which exterminated such monsters. Threescore and ten kings (said this tyrant) having their thumbs and great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table ; as I have done, so God hath requited me!" The Israelites had heard of these enormities, and therefore inflicted the same punishment
In the vallies of Simeon and Judah were found a powerful people armed with chariots of iron, whom they could not at that time expel. In the portion of Caleb, who belonged to the favoured tribe, were the giants or men of extraor- . dinary strength and stature. To encourage his brethren to the formidable encounter, he proclaimed his intention of bestowing Acsah his daughter, on him who should succeed in taking one of their strong holds, called Kirjathsepher. Othniel, who afterwards became still more conspicuous for his valour and wisdom, obtained the prize.
Thus the Israelites by degrees, took possession of their inheritance. But indolence, the spontaneous fruit of prosperity-or compassion, in this instance not allowed, sometimes prevailed over duiy. They spared many of the natives, whose abominable examples corrupted their manners, and enfeebled their hands. Conflicts with the neighbouring princes ensued, and war, with all its train of evils—desolation, famine, and captivity, was the consequence.
These unhappy circumstances, however, did not take place until long after the death of Joshua. tion which his mighty prowess had led into Canaan, remembered his dying injunctions, and kept the statutes of Moses. But their children “ forsook the Lord God of their fathers"—they intermarried with the inhabitants of the land, and erected aitars to their fabled deities. Their morals and religion equally degenerating, the consciousness of virtue no longer inspired them with courage to resist the encroachments of the heathens, who still considering them as lawless invaders, were ever ready to seize an occasion of distressing them, so that in the emphatic language of the historian, “ Whithersoever they went the hand of the Lord was against them for evil!" Yet the everlasting friend of Abraham and Isaac would not wholly abandon his people, notwithstanding their repeated provocations, but chastised them by the hands of their enemies,
and when the salutary purpose of affliction was accomplished, a deep sense of their ungrateful apostacy and a sincere return to their Sovereign was effected. He raised up, by extraordinary interposition, deliverers, who restored them to peace and prosperity.
These deliverers, were the celebrated Judges, from whom the book we are reciting is denominated.
Fanny. A judge is with us a civil officer, but those of whom you speak, seem to have been military leaders; why then are they called Judges ?
Mrs. M. Their office was both civil and military. They led the troops to battle, and afterwards held the sword of justice. Some of them may have retired to private life, when they had performed the public service for which they were especially selected; but, generally, they were the chief magistrates of the people whilst they lived. They assumed, however, no external pomp, nor did their honours descend to their children. They were taken from the tribes indiscriminately, and qualified for their part, when emergencies required a chief of extraordinary abilities.
Under the government of the Judges, the Israelites lived upwards of three centuries with various fortunes; sometimes harassed and afflicted most grievously by the neighbouring powers—sometimes prosperous and happy for a succession of years. Othniel, whose valour had obtained the hand of the venerable Caleb's daughter, was the first of these illustrious chieftains. Ehud and Shamgar successively flourished after Othniel. Very few events of their lives are recorded, but they were, no doubt, virtuous and efficient men ; for in their days the Israelites enjoyed long intervals of peace, the certain evidence, under their peeuliar dispensation, of national rectitude.
About this period we find two women celebrated as the instruments of great benefit to their country.
After the death of Shamgar, the sins of Israel had brought them under the dominion of Jabin, a powerful king of Canaan. Penitence, as usual, obtained inercy, and to Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth-at once a Judge and a prophetess-a plan of deliverance was graciously imparted. To her rural dwelling, among the palm-trees of mount Ephraim, the chiefs of Israel came on some common occasion for advice, and were sent away to summon Barak, the son of Abinoam, to her tent. Barak was a young prince of Naphtali, and had been named to Deborah as the leader of an expedition against Jabin. He was now commanded to take ten thousand men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon, and march to the river Kishon, where he should find the army of Jabin encamped. This was an unwelcome order to Barak, notwithstanding it was accompanied with a promise of success. He knew the strength of Jabin, and even refused to attack him, unless the prophetess herself would go with him to the field, assist him by her counsel, and animate the troops by her presence. She readily consented to his desire; but told him, that his guilty reluctance would be requited by humiliation, for the chief honour of the day would be obtained by a woman! He did not, however, any longer delay to contribute his services, but hastened with Deborah to Mount Tabor, in the district of Zebulon, and collected the troops. His preparations soon aroused Sisera, the general of the enemy, who, with a numerous host, well appointed with weapons of destruction, amongst which were nine hundred chariots of iron, descended to the valley of Kishon. “ Now is the moment, cried the heroic Deborah to her associate,
66 hath not the
Lord gone out before thee ?” Inspirited by this suggestion, Barak immediately fell upon the Canaanites, and swept them off with a terrible slaughter! The chariots of iron were a feeble defence against the persevering courage of Barak : the whole army was destroyed, and the despairing Sisera himself compelled to abandon the field, and endeavour to save his own life. Leaving his chariot, he fled towards a district inhabited by the descendants of Hobab, the brother-in-law of Moses, who had left their own country and dwelt amongst the Naphtalites. In this extremity he was met by Jael, the wife of Heber, near the door of her house, and invited to accept of its protection. As the Kenites, the denomination of this colony, were at peace with the king of Hazor, Sisera fearlessly entered, entreating his hostess to conceal the place of his retreat, and to give him a cup of water to drink. The better to allay any apprehension that might arise from the avowed friendship of her people to the Israelites, the wife of Heber presented a bowl of refreshing milk to the wearied warrior. Confiding now in her officious kindness, and overpowered by disappointment and vain exertion, he fell into a slumber to awaken no more! for Jael seized the opportunity, and put him to death by her own adventurous hand !
FANNY. I presume, mother, you do not vindicate the treachery of Jael to a vanquished man, who had confided in her honour. Her masculine resolution is, in my mind, no apology for her cruelty.
Mrs. M. You are not ignorant, my dear, that wars were formerly conducted by every nation with unrelenting severity. It is a peculiar glory of our amiable religion, that it has abolished unnecessary violence, and strictly enjoins tenderness to our enemies, so far as it can possibly consist