THE FIRST FOUR KINGS OF JUDAH.
II Chronicles xii: 1, to xx: 37.
 NOW we turn from the story of the kingdom of Israel in the
north to the story of the kingdom of Judah in the
south. You read in Story 74 how the Ten
Tribes broke away from the rule of King Rehoboam and
set up a kingdom of their own under Jeroboam. This
division left the kingdom of Judah very small and weak.
It reached from the Dead Sea westward to the land of
the Philistines on the shore of the Great Sea, and from
Beersheba on the south not quite to Bethel on the
north; but it held some control over the land of Edom
on the south of the Dead Sea. Its chief city was
Jerusalem, where stood the Temple of the Land and the
palace of the king.
After Rehoboam found that he could no more rule over
the Ten Tribes, he tried to make his own little kingdom
strong by building cities and raising an army of
soldiers. But he did not look to the Lord as his
grandfather David had looked; he allowed his people to
worship idols, so that soon on almost every hill and in
almost every grove of trees there was an image of stone
or wood. God was not pleased with Rehoboam and his
people, because they had forsaken him for idols. He
brought upon the land of Judah a great army from Egypt,
led by Shishak, the king of Egypt. They marched over
all the land of Judah, they took the city of Jerusalem,
and they robbed the Temple of all the great treasure in
gold and silver which Solomon had stored up. This evil
came upon Judah because its king and its people had
turned away from the Lord their God.
After Rehoboam had reigned seventeen years he died, and
 son Abijah, became king of Judah. When Jeroboam, the
king of Israel, made war upon him, Abijah led his army
into the land of Israel. But Jeroboam's army was twice
as large as Abijah's, and his men stood not only in
front of the men of Judah but also behind them, so that
the army of Judah was in great danger of being
destroyed. But Abijah told his men to trust in the
Lord, and to fight bravely in the Lord's name. And God
helped the men of Judah against Israel, and they won a
great victory; so that Jeroboam never again came
Abijah's reign was short, only three years; and after
him came Asa, his son, who was a great warrior, a great
builder of cities, and a wise ruler. Against Asa a
great army of enemies came up from Ethiopia, which was
south of Egypt. Asa drew out his little army against
the Ethiopians at a place called Mareshah, in the south
of Judah, near the desert. He had no hope of success in
his soldiers, because they were so few and the enemies
were no many. But Asa called upon the Lord, and said:
"O Lord, it makes no difference to thee whether there
are few or many. Help us, O Lord, for we trust in thee;
and in thy name we fight this vast multitude. O Lord,
thou art our God; let not man succeed against thee."
The Lord heard Asa's prayer, and gave him a great
victory over the Ethiopians. Asa took again the
cities in the south which had gone over to the side of
the Ethiopians, and he brought to Jerusalem great
riches, and flocks of sheep, and heads of cattle, and
camels, which he had taken from his enemies.
Then the Lord sent to Asa a prophet named Azariah. He
said, "Hear me, King Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin.
The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you
seek him you shall find him; but if you forsake the
Lord he will forsake you. Now be strong, and put away
the wickedness out of the land, and the Lord shall
reward your work."
Then Asa rebuilt the altar of the Lord which had fallen
into decay, and he called upon his people to worship.
He went through the land, and broke down the idols, and
burned them. He found that his own mother, the queen,
had made an idol, and he cut it down and broke it in
pieces; and he would not allow her to be queen any
longer, because she had worshipped idols.
Until Asa was old he served the Lord; but in his old
 became sick, and in his sickness he did not seek the
Lord. He turned to men who called themselves physicians
or doctors, but they were men who tried to cure by the
power of idols. This led many of Asa's people to
worship images, so that when he died there were again
idols throughout the land.
Asa's son, Jehoshaphat, was the next king, and he was
the wisest and strongest of all the kings of Judah, and
ruled over the largest realm of any. When he became
king Ahab was king of Israel, of whom we read in Part
Fourth. Jehoshaphat made peace with Israel, and united
with the Israelites against the kingdom of Syria. He
fought against the Syrians in the battle at
Ramath-gilead, where King Ahab was slain (see Story 71), and afterward with Ahab's son,
Jehoram, he fought against the Moabites. (See Story 73.)
Jehoshaphat served the Lord with all his heart. He took
away the idols that had again arisen in the land; he
called upon his people
 to worship the Lord, and he sent princes and priests
throughout all Judah to read to the people the law of
the Lord, and to teach the people how to serve the
The Lord gave to Jehoshaphat great power. He ruled over
the land of Edom, over the wilderness on the south, and
over the cities of the Philistines upon the coast. And
Jehoshaphat chose judges for the cities in all the
land, and he said to them:
"Remember that you are not judging for men, but for the
Lord; and the Lord is with you, and sees all your acts.
Therefore fear the Lord, and do his will. Do not allow
men to make you presents, so that you will favor them;
but be just toward all, and be strong in doing right."
At one time news came to King Jehoshaphat that some of
the nations on the east and south and north, Moabites,
Ammonites, and Syrians, had banded together against
him, and were encamped with a great army at En-gedi,
near the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat called forth his
soldiers, but before they went to battle he led them to
the Temple to worship the Lord. And Jehoshaphat called
upon the Lord for help, saying:
"O Lord, the God of our fathers, art not thou God in
heaven? Dost thou not rule over the nations of earth?
Is not power thine, so that none can stand against
thee? Now, Lord, look upon these hosts who have come
against thy people. We have no might against this great
company, and we know not what to do; but our eyes look
toward thee for help."
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the
Levites, a man named Jahaziel, and he said:
"Hear, ye men of Jerusalem and Judah, and hear, O King
Jehoshaphat. Thus saith the Lord, 'Fear not this great
host of your enemies, for the battle is not yours, but
the Lord's. Go out against them; but you will not need
to fight. You shall stand still, and see how the Lord
will save you. Do not fear, for the Lord is with you!' "
THE PRIESTS TEACH THE PEOPLE
Then Jehoshaphat and all his people worshipped the
Lord, bowing with their faces on the ground. And the next
day, when they marched against the enemies, the Levites
walked in front, singing and praising the Lord, while
all the people answered:
"Give thanks to the Lord, for his mercy endureth
When the men of Judah came to the camp of their
 they found that a quarrel had risen up among them. The
Ammonites and the Moabites began to fight with the rest
of the bands, and soon all the host were fighting and
killing each other. And when the men of Judah came part
of the host were lying dead, and the rest had fled away
into the desert, leaving behind them great treasure. So
it came to pass as the prophet Azariah had said, they
did not fight, but the Lord fought for them, and saved
them from their foes.
The place where this strange battle had taken place
they named "the valley of Berachah," which means
"blessing," because there they blessed the Lord for the
help that he had given them. And afterward they came
back to Jerusalem with songs, and praises, and the
great riches which they had taken. And God gave to King
Jehoshaphat peace and rest from his enemies, and great
power as long as he lived.
THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT AT JERUSALEM AS SEEN TO-DAY