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on the check, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee? And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you."
By this tale it would appear that Jehovah kept false prophets as well as true ones. Micaiah himself first states a lie to please; then to shew his superiority over the other prophets he contradicts them, and says that Jehovah has put a lye in their mouth. Elijah and Elisha ought to have been introduced into this match of prophesying.
The next feat of Elijah's is, that he causes fire to come down from heaven" and destroy 100 men and their captains who were sent by King Ahaziah to take him prisoner! The following is the tale from the 1st chapter, 2nd Book of Kings.
"Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. And he sent again a captain of the third fifty, with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties:, therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. And the angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him; be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king. And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die."
I must first find out where heaven is situated and what it
is, before I can say a word about Elijah's bringing down fire from it!
The second chapter is so full of pretty stories and curious lies, that I insert the whole of it :—
"And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said upon Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul livetb, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee, And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan: And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah dost rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him, And they said unto hm, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let
them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master; lest peradventure the spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, ye shall not send. And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found hini not. And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more dearth or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake. And he went up from thence unto Beth.el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria."
This supposed translation of Elijah from mortality to immortality, without the usual mode of dying, has exercised the contemplation of millions of Jews and Christians, who take all for truth that they find in the Bible. I am certain that the best observation I can make on it, is to give it a flat contradiction, and say that it is all a Jewish fiction. Enoch and Elijah are said to be the only two persons that have been honoured with this peculiar mark of favour by Jehovah, as not to taste death, for we are told that he killed and buried Moses himself. As I believe in nothing supernatural, I cannot condescend to make the slightest concession towards the truth of any part of this tale; therefore I am barred from argument upon it. In the first place I object to the idle notion that the human race have an immortal part: I cannot feel that I have a soul that shall not die. I put myself on a level with the whole race of animals, and am content that I have a being for a time, and am sensible that that being must, sooner or later, perish and pass away in the ordinary course of nature. Every animal or vegetable is but an admirable fabric, that has the property of retaining life for a certain time, and the property of propagating its several species. It is Nature's fancy work.
The idea of chariots and horses of fire is such as I cannot comprehend, so I reject it. The passing and re-passing of the brook Jordan is probable to have been performed dry shod,
by the help of a few stones. The petty churlishness of Elisha in cursing the little children has my contempt as a tale, and my disbelief as to its veracity. It is not improbable that a group of children should be exposed to the fury of two bears; but I never understood that the land of lions was also the land of bears. I doubt whether ever any bears were to be found in Judea.
We have now a repetition of the same tales and feats in the person of Elisha, as were said to be performed by Elijah, such as multiplying a pot of oil to an indefinite quantity, and restoring to life the dead son of his hostess. We find him also cleansing bad waters; converting poisonous herbs to wholesome food; and feeding miraculously one hundred men with twenty loaves of barley, and having more fragments than there was originally bread. It is evident that all the miraculous tales of the New Testament are borrowed from these feats of Elijah and Elisha. On a comparison I feel astonished at the coincidence. The tales of the New Testament are mere quotations garnished with a few exaggerations. I shall take further notice of this circumstance when I come into the New Testament. The gift of curing diseases is also attributed to Elisha, and the knowledge of other men's thoughts; so we find him curing Naaman of the leprosy, and infecting his servant Gehazi with it, for secretly taking a reward. We then find him causing an iron axe to swim in the water, smiting an host with blindness that were sent to make him prisoner, and going out to mislead them himself, and lastly we find his bones performing miracles after the flesh had rotted off them; for Elisha had not the honour of a translation; and why we are not told. The following is the tale of the power of Elisha's bones:
"And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet."
I should feel amusement in reading this nonsense, did I not recollect that there are millions of my fellow-creatures who are so unfortunate and unhappy as to swallow it all as truth.
There is nothing worthy of notice in the several reigns of the Kings of Israel and Judah; we have a collection of horrible and immoral tales, such as a mother eating her own child, a woman eaten by dogs, &c.; but in the twentieth chapter of
this book we find a second Joshua in the person of Isaiah, and the course of the sun is again stopped at the humour and whim of a man! The following is the tale:
"And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, 'This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, it is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord : and he brought the shadow ten degrees backwards, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz."
The story of Hilkiah the priest finding the book of the law, and sending to Huldah the prophetess to enquire what it was, is a proof of any thing but its being the famous law of Moses. The Book of Chronicles says it was the law of Moses, but the Book of Kings makes no mention of the kind. The tale is so evidently paltry as not to require any further examination. The book is very soon lost sight of again, for after the reign of Josiah we hear nothing more of it. It is the handy work of some Jew, who evidently saw a blank in his history as to the book of the law of Moses, so he weaves it in here to shew how it had been neglected, and the supposed consequences of that neglect.
We now draw to the end of the books of Kings and Chronicles, but we find Solomon's golden vessels are twice taken away, again, which altogether makes four times, I believe. The following quotation is from the 24th chapter of the 2nd book of Kings.
"At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the crafsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into