Bible History for the Use of Catholic Schools - R. Gilmour

Age VI:
Kingdom of Judah from Rehoboam to the Birth of Jesus

68.—A Summary of the Principal Events. [B.C. 932]

1. From the death of King Rehoboam to the year 587 before Christ, eighteen princes of the house of David successively governed Judah. Some of them were men of wisdom, who, fearing God, listened to the prophets that were sent to them; but many of them were wicked and perverse, who gave themselves up to idolatry and led the people into sin.

2. To punish these latter, in the year 606 God permitted Jerusalem to be taken by the Babylonians, and the principal men among the Jews to be led into captivity. Eighteen years afterwards—that is, in the year 5S8 before Christ—the entire population of Judah was carried into Babylon, and the kingdom of Judah destroyed.

3. For seventy years the Jews remained captives in Babylon, until they learned to humble themselves and acknowledge their sins. During their captivity their faith was strengthened by the words of the prophets, and by their piety they edified their conquerors, and spread amongst them a knowledge of the Redeemer.

4. At the end of seventy years—536 before Christ—God led the Jews back to their own country. They immediately rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple, and for two hundred years lived in peace and contentment.

After the death of Alexander the Great—323 years before Christ—they were again persecuted by different nations, until Herod, a stranger, ascended the throne of David. Then according to the prophecy of Jacob, the time was come when Christ should be horn.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 68.—What is said of David's successors? When were the Jews carried into Babylon? How long did they remain in captivity? When did the Jews return? What was rebuilt?

69.—The Kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Hezekiah.

1. Abia, a brave but wicked prince, succeeded his father, Rehoboam, on the throne of Judah. In turn he was succeeded by Asa, who, in the beginning, ruled with justice, and by his many brilliant victories added to the glory of Judah, but at last ended in forgetting God.

2. Josaphat, who succeeded him, was better than any of his three predecessors. He abolished idolatry, and appointed God-fearing men to judge the people and teach them the law of God. For his piety, God gave him the victory over his enemies.

3. Josaphat was succeeded by his son Jehoram, a cruel and idolatrous prince, who, in turn, was succeeded by Ahaziah, as wicked as his predecessor. Ahaziah was succeeded by his wife, Athalia, who, for seven years, committed all kinds of abominations in Judah.

She murdered all the children of the royal family, Jehoash, the grandson of Ahaziah, excepted, who was hidden by Joiada, the high priest. He afterwards ascended the throne, and, during the lifetime of Joiada, was a virtuous and pious prince, but after the death of the high priest, like so many of his predecessors, fell into idolatry.

4. Amasias, Ozias, and Joatham successively reigned in Judah. In some respects they were better than their predecessors; yet they often fell into idolatry.

Once Ozias wished to usurp the duties of the priesthood, and, entering into the Temple, insisted upon burning incense before the Lord. The priest boldly resisted him, and ordered him to leave the sanctuary.

5. Ozias became exceedingly angry, and threatened to strike the priest with the censer he held in his hand. On the instant he was struck by the hand of God, and covered with a leprosy that never left him. Until the day of his death, Ozias remained a public example of how God punishes the presumption of a layman who assumes the duties of 3 priest.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 60.—What is said of the successors of Rehoboam? What is said of Ozias?

70.—The Pious King Hezekiah. [B.C. *700]

1. The noble and pious Hezekiah ascended the throne of Judah after the death of Achaz, the wicked and idolatrous son of Joatham. Like David, he was a man according to God's own heart. He purified the Temple and abolished idolatry, for which God blessed him, and Judah rose in power and influence.

2. During his reign, Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, laid siege to Jerusalem, but Hezekiah feared not. While the Assyrians lay round about the city, Hezekiah went to the Temple and prayed to the Lord. He also sent the priests, clad in their robes of mourning, to Isaiah the prophet, begging him also to pray in their behalf. The Lord heard his prayer, and in the night sent His angel into the camp of the Assyrians, and there were slain ere the morning a hundred and eighty thousand of the enemy. The rest perished in their flight.

3. About this time Hezekiah fell seriously ill, and the prophet Isaiah came to him and warned him to arrange his affairs, for he was about to die. When the king heard this he became greatly alarmed, and, turning his face to the Temple, prayed earnestly to the Lord. His prayer was heard, and fifteen years were added to his life. His reign was one of the most glorious in the history of Judah.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 70.—What is said of Hezekiah? How was Sennacherib defeated? How many were stilled? What was added to the life of Hezekiah?

71.—The Kings immediately preceding the Babylonian Captivity.

1. Manasses succeeded his father, Hezekiah, on the throne of Judah. He was a wicked prince, and wantonly shed the blood of the innocent. He rebuilt the altars of the false gods which his father had destroyed; and, influenced by his bad example, the people became more sinful than even the pagans. Asa punishment for his crimes, God permitted this wicked king to fall into the hands of the Assyrians, who led him a captive to Babylon.

2. In his captivity he learned to acknowledge his faults and to do penance for his sins. God took compassion on him and brought him back to Jerusalem, where, in his latter days, he strove to repair the scandals of his early reign.

3. His son Amon succeeded him, only to imitate him in his wickedness; but his grandson Josias strove to follow the example of his latter days. During the reign of Josias, idolatry was rooted out and religion restored. That he might not see the evils that were about to come upon the kingdom of Judah, God took him to Himself after a short reign of nine years.

4. He was succeeded by Joachaz, Joachim, and Sedecias, all wicked princes, who led the people away from God, and, by their idolatries, brought about the captivity of Babylon. With but few exceptions, Judah was cursed with bad kings. Her history is sin and its punishment, until, at length, she ended in crucifying Jesus Christ and being cast off by God.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 71.—What is said of Manasses? How did God punish him? How did he end his days? What is said or Josias? What is said of Judah?

72.—The Prophets.

1. From the beginning of the reign of Rehoboam to the captivity of Sedecias, God raised up men gifted with special powers, and into whom He breathed His own Spirit. These were the prophets, whom He sent to preach penance to the people, and to threaten kings with the judgments that awaited them if they continued to forget God.

2. The most renowned of the prophets who arose during the early history of Judah were Joel, Micah, and Isaiah. These prophets were generally poor men, but bold in the power of God; nor did they fear to resist kings, or to cry out against their sins.

3. At their preaching many repented and for a while returned to God. For their fearless war against sin, and their open denunciations of both kings and people, some of them were put to death. Though dead, their words lived in the hearts of the just, among whom the true faith was preserved, and by whom the hopes and promises that had been made of the Redeemer that was to come were handed down to cheer the world.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 72.—Who were the Prophets? Who were much renowned? What did they preach? How did some of them die?

73.—The Captivity of Babylon. (FROM 606 to 536 YEARS A.D.)

1. After the death of the pious King Josias, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, came and besieged Jerusalem. When he had taken the city he carried back with him to Babylon the principal men of the nation, together with a part of the sacred vessels of the Temple. This happened in the year 606 before Christ, and was the beginning of what in history is known as the "Babylonian Captivity."

2. Three years after this Nebuchadnezzar returned to Jerusalem, and carried Jechonias, the king, back with him to Babylon. He also, on this occasion, carried with him into captivity a great part of the people, besides immense treasures. He left Sedecias to rule over the remnant of Judah.

3. Sedecias revolted, and Nebuchadnezzar returned for the third time, and destroyed Jerusalem, and burned the gorgeous and magnificent Temple of Solomon, carrying with him nearly the entire Jewish people. He put out the eyes of Sedecias, and, loading him with chains, carried him a captive to Babylon. This happened in the year 587 before Christ.

4. At this time lived Jeremiah the prophet, who, long before, had warned the people of the destruction that was about to come upon them. Alone and in sorrow, he continued to weep over Jerusalem, and at times presented himself to the people with a chain round his neck, as a sign of the captivity that was near at hand. But his warnings were received with curses and persecutions.

5. When at length Jerusalem was destroyed, Jeremiah remained to console the remnant of the nation that was left, and to weep amid the ruins of the once glorious city.

In his grand Lamentations, Jeremiah cries out from the depth of his sorrow: "How sorrowful, alas! are the ways that lead to Mount Moria; there are now none to come to the feast. The gates of the city are destroyed; the priests weep; the virgins are without ornament. O you who pass by the way, see if there is sorrow like unto my sorrow! Alas! is this the city of magnificence, the perfect in beauty, the joy of the world?"

6. During their captivity the Jews did penance for their sins and became sincerely converted to the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar was kind and considerate to them; but they wept and sighed to return to their country. "By the rivers of Babylon," cried they, "we sat, and wept when we remembered Sion. On the branches of the willow-trees we hung up our harps; for how could we sing the songs of Sion in a strange land?"

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 73.—What is said of Nebuchadnezzar? When did he return? What did he carry back with him? Who was left? What happened to Jerusalem and the Temple? What is said of Jeremiah? What Is said of the Lamentations? What is said of the Jews in Captivity.

74.—Daniel and the Three Young Men.

1. Amongst the captives at Babylon were several youths of the royal race. Amongst these were Daniel and his three companions, Azarias, Ananias, and Misael. By the command of King Nebuchadnezzar, they were selected, as well for the beauty of their persons as for their intelligence, and orders were given to feed them daily from the royal table.

2. But by the Jewish law several kinds of meats were forbidden to be eaten. These young men, fearing they would be required to eat of these forbidden meats, came to the chief eunuch of the king and begged him to let them for ten days be fed on pulse and to drink water only, and then if they were not fatter and fairer than those who were fed from the icing's table, they would submit and eat what he wished.

3. The proposition pleased Malabar, the chief eunuch, and et the end of ten days their faces were fatter and fairer than those who had been fed from the king's table. From this time forward they were fed on pulse and water only.

4. God gave them, besides comeliness of person, great abundance of wisdom, so that when some time afterwards they were called before the king, none were found equal to them. Thus they were selected and placed in the service of Nebuchadnezzar.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 74.—Tell the history of Daniel and his companions.

75.—Daniel saves Susanna.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. Among the Jewish captives at Babylon was a man named Joachim, as distinguished for his goodness as his wife, Susanna, was for her beauty and her virtue. Many of the Jews came to his house, for there two of the ancients were wont to administer justice.

2. Joachim had an orchard near his house, where his wife, Susanna, was accustomed to walk at mid-day. The two judges, who were wicked men, knew this, and one day concealed themselves in the orchard. According to custom Susanna came in to walk, when they came to her and strove to persuade her to commit sin with them, but she refused. They then threatened to accuse her before the people.

3. When Susanna saw herself thus straitened on every side, she knew not what to do. "If I yield," said she, "I am ruined before God; and if I do not, I will not escape your hands. However, it is better to fall into your hands innocent than to sin against God."

So she cried with a loud voice, and the old men cried also. When the people were come together the two men accused Susanna.

4. On the morrow Susanna was cited before the tribunal. She came accompanied by her parents and friends, all weeping for the disgrace that had happened to them. The old men renewed their charge, and faith was placed in their words. Susanna was condemned to death, but she prayed to the Lord and He heard her.

5. When they were leading her forth to be stoned, Daniel, enlightened by the Spirit of God, cried out: "Let there be another trial; these men have borne false witness!" The people, hearing this, returned in haste.

6. Then Daniel commanded the two old men to be separated one from the other. When this was done Daniel asked the first under what tree he had seen Susanna. He answered: "Under a mastic-tree." He was then put aside and the other asked under what tree he had seen the woman. He answered: "Under a holm-tree."

7. When the people heard their contradictory stories they Saw how false had been their accusation against the virtuous Susanna; and praised God, who thus preserved those who trusted in Him.

From that day Daniel was great in the eyes of the people.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 75.—Tell the history of Susanna, Where was Susanna sited on the morrow? To what was she condemned? Who saved Susanna? How?

76.—The Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. Nebuchadnezzar made a statue of gold, and setting it up, commanded the grandees and people of his kingdom to tall down and adore it. Every one obeyed—Ananias, Misael, and Azarias excepted. Daniel was not present, or he also world have disobeyed. The Babylonians, seeing that the three young men would not adore the idol, accused them to the king.

2. When Nebuchadnezzar saw that even he could not in, duce them to adore his statue, filled with fury, he ordered a furnace to be heated seven times more than usual, and the young men to be thrown into it. His order was immediately obeyed. However, the men who threw them in were burned to death.

3. An angel descended with the three young men, whilst God sent a soft, dewy air, that blew within the furnace like an evening breeze. Not a hair of their heads vas singed, nor were their clothes touched by the fire.

4. When the king heard this wonder he came and looked into the furnace himself. "Did we not," he asked, "cast three men, bound, into the fire? Behold! I see foul, loose, and unhurt; and the fourth is like the Son of God." Then the king cried out: "Servants of God, come forth!"

5. They obeyed; and when the king saw there was no sign of fire upon them, he thanked God, who had thus saved His servants, because they had preferred to die rather than sin. Nebuchadnezzar also published a decree that no one should blaspheme against the God of the Jews. The young men were advanced to the highest dignities.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 76.—Tell the history of the golden statue. What was done to the three young men? How were they saved?

77.—Daniel and King Belshazzar.

1. After Nebuchadnezzar's death, his grandson, Belshazzar, reigned in Babylon. He made a great feast for his nobles and their wives. When they were all full of wine, the king ordered the golden vessels which his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had brought from the Temple of Jerusalem, to be brought in, that he and his guests might drink from them. Whilst they were drinking a hand appeared upon the wall, and wrote certain words.

2. When Belshazzar saw this he became greatly troubled, and, trembling with fear, sent for his soothsayers; but no one could interpret the handwriting. Then Daniel was sent for.

He said: "These are the words: MANE, THECEL, PHARES; and this is the interpretation: Mane—the days of thy kingdom are numbered, and it is at an end; Thecel—thy merits are weighed in the balance, and thou are found wanting; Phares—thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

3. That same night this prophecy was fulfilled. The Medes and the Persians, by turning the bed of the river Euphrates, entered Babylon during the night, and Belshazzar was slain and his kingdom divided. Darius the Mede succeeded to the kingdom of Babylon.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 77.—What happened to Belshazzar? What was the hand-writing? Who interpreted it? Was it fulfilled? How?

78.—Daniel and the Idol Bel.

1. Cyrus, King of Persia, soon made himself master of Babylon. He showed much attention to Daniel, and often invited him to his table. One day Cyrus asked Daniel why he would not adore Bel, the god of the Babylonians. Daniel answered that he adored only the living God, by whom all things were created.

2. But the king said: "So is Bel a living god; he eats daily a dozen measures of flour and forty sheep, and, besides, drinks six pitchers of wine." But Daniel only laughed at him, and bade the king not to be deceived: "for clay and brass could not eat." Then Cyrus sent for the priests of Bel, and told them what Daniel had said.

3. The priests proposed that the king should himself place the meats before Bel, and seal the door of the temple, and if, on the morrow, they were not eaten, then they would willingly suffer death. This proposition pleased Cyrus.

4. When Cyrus had put the priests out of the temple, he set the meats before Bel. But Daniel, in the presence of the king, sifted fine ashes on the floor of the temple. They then closed the door, and sealed it with the king's ring.

During the night, as was their custom, the priests entered the temple by a secret door, and, together with their wives and their children, eat up the sacrifices that were placed before the idol.

5. Early in the morning, Cyrus and Daniel came to the temple and found the seals unbroken. When they entered, and the king saw the empty table, he cried out: "Great is Bel, and he cannot be deceived!" But Daniel pointed to the footprints that were upon the pavement. Having examined the place a little closer, the secret door was found under the table on which the meats had been placed. When the king saw how he had been deceived he killed the priests, and Daniel destroyed the god Bel and burned his temple.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 78.—What is said of Bel? How did Daniel undeceive Cyrus?

79.—Daniel in the Lions' Den.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. Besides the god Bel, the Babylonians also adored a great dragon. Cyrus said one day to Daniel: "However, you can not say this is not a living god." Daniel, without discussing the king's words, proposed to kill the dragon without sword or club. When Cyrus consented, Daniel boiled pitch and fat together, into which he mixed hair. He then made balls of the mixture, and, putting them into the dragon's mouth, the so-called god burst asunder.

2. When the Babylonians heard what had happened, they came, in great fury, and demanded that Daniel be delivered up to them. At first Cyrus refused, but at length yielded to the fury of the mob. Daniel was delivered to then, and they cast him into the lions' den. On purpose no food was given to the seven furious lions that were there confined, with the hope that Daniel would be the sooner devoured; but Daniel remained unhurt.

3. After six days Daniel was hungry. Now, at this time, there lived amid the ruins of Jerusalem a prophet, named Habakkuk. He had boiled some pottage, and was carrying it to the reapers that were in the field.

While on the way an angel appeared to him, and ordered him to carry the dinner he had in his hands to Daniel, who was then in the lions' den. Habakkuk answered: "He had never been in Babylon, and did not know the den of which he spoke." The angel took Habakkuk by the hair of the head and, with the rapidity of lightning, carried him to Babylon, and placed him over the den where Daniel was.

4. When Daniel had eaten the dinner thus so miraculously sent him, he thanked God, who had not forgotten him in hilt distress. But the angel carried back Habakkuk, and placed him where he had found him.

5. On the seventh day the king came to the lions' den, and found Daniel quietly sitting in the midst of the wild beasts. When Cyrus saw this he was much astonished, and immediately caused Daniel to be drawn out and his persecutors to be thrown in. Before these wicked men had fallen to the bottom of the den they were torn to pieces and devoured by the starved and angry lions. The king also published au edict, in which he commanded all to venerate and fear the God of Daniel, because He was the Savior, working signs and wonders upon earth.

6. The young men in the furnace and Daniel in the lions' den were figures of Christ. Daniel came forth from the lions unhurt; Christ rose, from the tomb glorious and immortal. Daniel remained with the Jews (luring their long captivity to console and cheer them; so does Christ remain with His Church to guard and protect her against her enemies.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 79.—How did Daniel kill the dragon? What was done to Daniel? Who brought food to Daniel? How was Daniel delivered? Who were figures of Christ? How?

80.—The Jews Return from Captivity. [B.C. 537]

1. When the seventy years of captivity foretold by the prophets were finished, God moved the heart of Artaxerxes, King of the Medes and Persians, with compassion for the captives. In the year 538 before Christ Artaxerxes published an edict that the Jews might return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the Lord.

2. Under the leadership of Zorobabel, a prince of the people, more than forty thousand Jews returned at this time. Artaxerxes was very kind to them, giving them money, and restoring the vessels of gold and silver Nebuchadnezzar had taken away. When the people arrived at Jerusalem they built an altar, until the Temple could be finished. For twenty-one years they labored upon the new Temple. When it was finished, and the old men came to see it, they wept and lamented; for its magnificence was not to be compared to the Temple of Solomon.

3. Twenty years after Zorobabel had gone to Jerusalem, Ezra, a holy priest, gathered together many of the Jews that still remained in Babylon and led them back to their own country. Here, with the aid of his saintly friend, Nehemiah, he strove to instruct the people in the law of God, and purify them from the abominations which they had contracted among their pagan masters.

4. Nehemiah moreover urged the people to rebuild Jerusalem. With ready willingness they followed his example, and, from the high-priest to the least among them, each put his hand to the work.

When the Samaritans saw with what rapidity the city rose from its ashes, fearing for their own safety, they strove by plots and falsehoods to stop the work; but they failed. So earnestly did everybody work, that at the end of fifty-two days the walls of Jerusalem and the gates and the towers were finished. In time the city also was built up.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 80.—Under whom did the Jews return? What did thy build? What is said of the new Temple? Who led many of the Jews back? What did Ezra and Nehemiah do? What did the Samaritans strive to do?

81.—The Prophets after the Captivity.

1. During the long captivity of Babylon, the prophets Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel instructed and sustained the Jews by their prophecies. After their return to Jerusalem, God raised up others to cheer and encourage His people, amongst these latter were Haggai and Zachariah, by whose prophecies that the Messiah would one day enter this new Temple, the people were strongly encouraged to push on the work. It was in this sense they said, "The glory of the second Temple will be far greater than the glory of the first."

2. The last of the prophets whom God raised up among the Jews was Malachi, who lived about four hundred years before Christ. He preached against the hypocrites of his day, and more especially against the priests. Malachi is remarkable for his celebrated prophecy: "That God would reject the sacrifices of the Old Law, and in their place institute a New Sacrifice, that would not cease from the rising to the setting of the sun." This prophecy is fulfilled in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

3. About the year 277 A.C. the Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew into Greek. This translation is known as the Septuagint. When this was done Greek was spoken everywhere; hence by this translation a knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures, and more particularly of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, was scattered among the pagan nations.

4. About the same time also, under the inspiration of God, a Jew named Jesus, the son of Sirach, wrote a book of pious sentences. The object of the book was to teach men truth and lead them to God. This book is known as the book of Ecclesiastes.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 81.—Who were the prophets during the captivity? Who were after? What is said of Malachi? What is the Septuagint? Who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes?


[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. The great kindness shown by the kings of Persia to the Jews induced many of them to remain in Babylon. Amongst these was Esther.

During the reign of Ahasuerus, Esther lived with her uncle, Mordecai. By chance the king saw her, and, being much pleased with her, made her his queen.

2. Her uncle; Mordecai, became very uneasy lest anything would happen to his adopted daughter; hence he stood daily before the king's palace. While Mordecai thus watched over the interest of his adopted child, he one day discovered a conspiracy by which two officers intended to kill the king. Instantly he warned Esther, who told Ahasuerus. The officers were put to death, and the event nut in the annals of the kingdom.

3. Some time after this the king raised Haman to the highest dignities in the state. All the king's servants bent the knee before him, Mordecai excepted. When Haman noticed this he became exceedingly angry, and resolved on the destruction of the obstinate Jew.

4. That he might the better accomplish his object, Haman pretended that the Jews were about to revolt, and succeeded in persuading the king to publish an edict that all of them that were in his kingdom should on the same day be put to death, together with their wives and their children, and all their possessions be confiscated to the crown.

5. When Mordecai heard the news he hastened to Esther and urged her to plead for her people. But there was a law forbidding any subject to present himself before the king unless called. Esther resolved to brave the danger. She clothed herself in her most gorgeous apparel, and, begging God to bless her mission, presented herself to the king while he was sitting on his throne.

6. Esther threw herself at the king's feet, but fainted at sight of his angry look. When Ahasuerus saw the distress of his queen, he relented, and, descending from his throne, raised her up, and supported her till she recovered. Then the king said to her: "fear not, Esther; you shall not die. What do you wish?" The peen merely asked him to bring Haman with him, and come the following evening to the banquet she had prepared. The king promised to come.

7. During the night the king could not sleep, and, to amuse himself, ordered the annals of his reign to be read Rif him. When it came to the conspiracy which Mordecai had discovered, the king asked what reward Mordecai had received for what he had done. Being answered, "None," Ahasuerus sent for Haman, and asked: "What ought to be done to the man whom the king wished to honor?"

8. Haman, thinking the king wished to honor himself, said: "The man whom the king would honor should be clothed in the royal robes, and be placed on the king's horse, and the first of the king's princes should walk before him and cry aloud: 'Thus shall he be honored whom the king wishes to honor.'" The king then bade Haman go and do to Mordecai, the Jew, as he had counselled. Haman dared not disobey the king.

9. In the mean time the hour for the queen's feast came on, and Haman hastened to attend. During the feast the king asked Esther what she wished, promising to give even to the half of his kingdom. The queen asked but for her life and the lives of her people. When the king heard how his confidence had been abused, and how, under false pretences, the Jews were about to be destroyed, he became angry and asked who had dared to do this thing. Esther answered, "Haman."

10. The king rose in great fury, and, calling together his eunuchs, asked what he should do. But one said, "Haman has prepared a gibbet fifty cubits high on which to hang Mordecai." Then the king said, "Hang Haman on it."

That very hour Haman was hung, and Mordecai invested with his dignity. The edict against the Jews was revoked, sand many of the pagans were converted.

11. Queen Esther was a figure of the Blessed Virgin. Esther was alone exempted from the rigors of the Persian law; the Blessed Virgin was alone exempted from original sin. Esther saved her people; Mary gave a Savior to the world.

Mordecai was the faithful guardian of Esther; Joseph was the guardian of Jesus and Mary. Mordecai was placed in the highest office of state; Joseph holds one of the highest places in heaven.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 82: Tell the history of Esther, What did Mordecai do? What is said of Haman? What did Esther do? What was the result? What counsel did Haman give? Where did Haman hasten to go? What happened to Haman? What happened to Mordecai? How is Esther a figure of the Blessed Virgin?


[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. When the Jews were reestablished in their own country, God, in a most wonderful manner, again delivered them by the hands of a woman. Holofernes, an Assyrian general, advanced into Judea with a powerful army. He took many of the cities, and treated the inhabitants with extreme cruelty. At length he laid siege to Bethulia, and, cutting off the aqueduct by which the city was supplied with water, the inhabitants were soon reduced to the last extremity.

2. When they saw themselves in this condition they agreed to surrender if within five days they received no help. There was within the city a young widow named Judith, of great wealth and beauty. When she heard the resolution to which the leaders had come, she laid aside the garments of her widowhood, and, anointing herself, put on her richest ornaments.

3. Thus arrayed, she went, accompanied by her servant, to the Assyrian camp. God also added to her beauty. When Holofernes saw her he received her most kindly, and gave orders to his servants to permit her to come and to go at he' pleasure.

4. Four days after her arrival in the Assyrian camp, Holofernes gave a great banquet to the officers of his army. Late in the night he threw himself upon his bed, and, being drunk, slept heavily. Judith drew near the bed on which Holofernes lay, and, praying to God to strengthen her arm, took the sword that hung at the top of the bed and cut off his head.

5. Then she put the head in a bag and gave it to her servant, and, hastening from the Assyrian camp, came to Bethulia. When she had assembled the leaders and the people, she showed them the head of Holofernes, and bade them praise the Lord, who had protected her from sin, and, by her hands, killed their enemy.

6. The Jews, seeing how God had thus fought for them, hung the head of Holofernes from the walls of the city, and, going forth, attacked the Assyrians, who, without a leader, were easily overcome, and many of them slain.

Judith was much esteemed, not only by the inhabitants of her native city, but by all Judea; and when she died all the people wept.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 83.—What is the history of Judith! Whose head did she cut off? What did the Jews do? What was done at the death of Judith?

84.—Eleazar the Martyr. [B.C. 168]

1. In the year 333 before Christ, Alexander the Great put an end to the kingdom of Persia, which had ruled over the Jews since the time of Cyrus. After this they fell into the power of the kings of Egypt, and finally under the power of the kings of Syria.

2. Among these latter, Antiochus was very cruel. He burned the sacred books, and forbade, under pain of death, any one to observe the Law. Many basely apostatized, while, on the other hand, many remained faithful, preferring death to sin.

3. Among these latter was the venerable Eleazar, an old man of ninety years of age, and much esteemed for his knowledge of the Law. Antiochus commanded him to eat the flesh of swine, threatening him with death if he refused. But his religion forbade him to obey, and the brave old man would rather die than offend God.

4. His friends strove to persuade him to yield, nay, even urged him to save his life by pretending to eat the forbidden flesh, though he did not. But Eleazar scorned deceit: "I may deceive men," said he, "but I cannot deceive God, and my example might lead others astray." The old man suffered a cruel death, but truth triumphed in his sufferings.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 84.—Into whose power did the Jews fall? What is said of Antiochus? What is said of Eleazar?

85.—The Martyrdom of the Seven Maccabees.

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. Amongst others that were brought before Antiochus were the seven Maccabees and their mother. When they were ordered to eat the forbidden flesh of the swine they refused, and said they would rather die than break the laws of God.

2. When the king heard this he became very angry, and ordered the seven brothers to be beaten with rods. But the heroic youths still refusing to obey, Antiochus commanded frying-pans and brazen caldrons to be made hot. Then the executioners seized the eldest and cut out his tongue; after this they tore off the skin from his head, and chopped off his hands and his feet, and at last threw him into the red-hot frying-pan. His mother and his brothers stood encouraging him and exhorting him to persevere.

3. When the first was dead, the second eldest was brought, and the skin of his head also pulled off. He too, was asked if He would eat the forbidden meat; but he boldly answered, "No." He was tormented as his brother had been. The third and the fourth, as also the fifth and the sixth, willingly offered themselves to the executioners, and died proclaiming their faith in God and their hopes of eternal happiness.

4. The youngest still remained. The king hoped by kindness to win him over. He promised him honors and riches, even his own friendship, if he would renounce the Jewish religion; but he would not yield. Then the king exhorted the mother to persuade her son to save his life, but she only the more encouraged her child to be a worthy successor of his six martyred brothers.

5. While his mother was yet speaking to him, he boldly cried out: "I will not obey the king, nor will I break the law of God." When the king heard this he was greatly incensed, and ordered him to be more cruelly tormented than any of the rest. Last of all the mother suffered death with the same heroic constancy that had marked the sufferings of her seven noble sons.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 85.—What is said of the Maccabees? How was the eldest brother put to death? How was the second eldest? How did the others die? How did the king act towards the youngest? What was done to the mother?

86.—Mathathias and Judas Maccabeus [B.C. 168]

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. During the reign of Antiochus there lived in Judea a priest named Mathathias, who had five sons. When he saw the abominations that were committed against the Law, and the cruelties with which the people were oppressed, he resolved to free his country. Calling upon all those who would defend the Law of God to follow him, he fled with his sons and many others into the mountains.

2. At first he was content with overthrowing the idols and the altars of the pagan gods; then, as his numbers increased, he began to make war on the enemies of his country.

After his death the leadership fell upon his son Judas, who, because of his invincible courage, was called Maccabeus. Bold as a lion, he met and vanquished the generals of Antiochus one after another.

3. He also retook Jerusalem and purified the Temple. The altar was consecrated anew, amid the sounds of harps and lutes and cymbals; the sacrifices were restored; and a great feast was appointed to celebrate his victories.

4. When Antiochus heard of the success of the Maccabees he became very angry. Gathering together an immense army, he resolved to lead it himself against Jerusalem, and forever destroy the place; but God's judgments overtook him on the way.

One day he fell from his chariot and hurt himself very badly. His sores putrefied, and worms began to crawl out of his wounds; the flesh fell off from his bones, and the whole body sent forth a stench insupportable to himself as well as all around him.

5. When Antiochus saw how grievously he suffered, he acknowledged the hand of God in his punishment, and, hoping to escape death, humbled himself and lamented his cruelty. He even promised to repair, as far as he could, the evils he had done, But his repentance was insincere, and God listened not to his prayer. He died amid the most cruel torments, leaving to the world a frightful example of the justice of God.

6. After his death his son strove to reconquer Judea; but the Maccabees, trusting in God, assembled their followers and went forth to battle. In the heat of the engagement suddenly there came from heaven five men, whose armor shone as the sun, and whose horses were covered with golden harness. Two placed themselves on either side of Judas, whilst the other three hurled darts on the enemy: at the same time the lightning flashed in the faces of the Syrians. Stunned and confounded, many fell to the ground, whilst the others turned and fled. The enemy left twenty thousand infantry and six thousand cavalry dead upon the field.

7. After many victories Judas established the independence of his country; yet not without loss. Many of the Jews were killed; but on examining the bodies of the dead there were found concealed under their coats offerings that had been stolen from the temples of the pagan idols. Then all knew the cause of their death.

8. When Judas saw why they had been punished, he did not despair, but, trusting in the power of prayer and the mercy of God, sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem, that sacrifices might be offered for them, saying: "It is s holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead."

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER . 86.—What is said of Mathathias? What is said of Judas Maccabeus? How did Antiochus die? How was the son of Antiochus defeated? What did Judas send to Jerusalem? Why?

87.—From the Maccabees to Jesus Christ

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour

1. After the death of the pious and heroic Judas, hi? brothers, one after another, were placed at the head of the nation. Under their wise guidance many victories were won and peace established, and Judea began again to flourish. Unhappily, their successors did not walk in their footsteps, and gradually the inconstant Jews fell again into sin.

2. The nation, however, still recognized the one true God, and exteriorly observed the forms of the Law; but the heart? of the people were far from God.

Two sects rose up among them: one, the hypocritical Pharisees;  the other, the incredulous Sadducees. The former placed all perfection in the exterior observance of the Law, the latter denied much that was in the Law, more particularly the resurrection of the dead.

3. Beyond Judea the world was buried in idolatry and abomination; cruelty and oppression were everywhere, and mankind longed for the coming of the Messiah. There remained but one thing more,—the fulfilment of the prophecy made by Jacob to his son Judah,—and this was not long delayed.

4. The successors of the Maccabees lived in continual war, civil as well as foreign; brother fought against brother; murder and rapine replaced peace and honesty. As a last hope, the Romans were called in to arbitrate between the parties. Soon they filled the country with their armies; the government was seized upon, and Herod, a stranger, appointed king of the Jews. Thus perished the kingdom of Judea; the sceptre had passed from the tribe of Judah; the time was come when the Messiah, the Savior, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, should come to bless the world and save mankind, to whom be praise and benediction forever and ever.

QUESTIONS TO CHAPTER 87.—What is said of the later history of the Jews? Who were the Pharisees? Who were the Sadducees? What is said of the world in general? What alone was wanting? Who were brought into Judea? Why? Who was made king? For whom was the time come?

[Illustration] from Bible History for Catholics by R. Gilmour