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The kingdom of Judah seems to have been in a more flourishing condition during the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, than at any other time after the revolt of the ten tribes. The former recovered the port of Elath on the Red Sea, which the Edomites had taken in the reign of Joram: he was successful in his wars with the Philistines, and took from them several cities, Gath, Jabneh, Ashdod; as likewise against some people of Arabia Deserta; and against the Ammonites, whom he compelled to pay him tribute. He repaired and improved the fortifications of Jerusalem; and had a great army well appointed and disciplined. He was no less attentive to the arts of peace; and very much encouraged agriculture, and the breeding of cattle. Jotham maintained the establishments and improvements made by his father; added to what Uzziah had done in strengthening the frontier places; conquered the Ammonites, who had revolted, and exacted from them a more stated and probably a larger tribute. However, at the latter end of his time, the league between Pekah king of Israel, and Retsin king of Syria, was formed against Judah; and they began to carry their designs into execution.
But in the reign of Ahaz his son, not only all these advantages were lost, but the kingdom of Judah was brought to the brink of destruction. Pekah king of Israel overthrew the army of Ahaz, who lost in battle 120,000 men; and the Israelites carried away captives 200,000 women and children ; which however were released, and sent home again, upon the remonstrance of the prophet Oded. After this, as it should seem, (see Vitringa on chap. vii. 2.) the two kings of Israel and Syria, joining their forces, laid siege to Jerusalem; but in this attempt they failed of success. In this distress Ahaz called in the assistance of Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria; who in
vaded the kingdoms of Israel and Syria, and slew Retsin: but he was more in danger than ever from his too powerful ally; to purchase whose forbearance, as he had before bought his assistance, he was forced to strip himself and
his people of all the wealth he could possibly raise, from his own treasury, from the temple, and from the country. About the time of the siege of Jerusalem, the Syrians took Elath, which was never after recovered. The Edomites likewise, taking advantage of the distress of Ahaz, ravaged Judea, and carried away many captives. The Philistines recovered what they had before lost; and took many places in Judea, and maintained themselves there. Idolatry was established by the command of the king in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea; and the service of the temple was either intermitted, or converted into an idolatrous worship.
Hezekiah, his son, at his accession to the throne, immediately set about the restoration of the legal worship of God, both in Jerusalem and through Judea. He cleansed and repaired the temple, and held a solemn passover. He improved the city, repaired the fortification, erected magazines of all sorts, and built a new aqueduct. * In the fourth
year of his reign Shalmaneser king of Assyria invaded the kingdom of Israel, took Samaria, and carried away the Israelites into captivity; and replaced them by different people sent from his own country: and this was the final destruction of that kingdom, in the sixth year of the reign of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah was not deterred by this alarming example from refusing to pay the tribute to the king of Assyria, which had been imposed on Ahaz: this brought on the invasion of Senacherib in the fourteenth year of his reign; an account of which is inserted among the prophecies of Isaiah. After a great and miraculous deliverance from so powerful