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When Solomon heard what the prophet had said, he was afraid and attempted to slay Jeroboam. But Jeroboam fled into Egypt and was safe.

So Solomon reigned for forty years; but at last death came 5 to him, and he was laid in the tomb of his fathers.

After his death, his son Rehoboam came to take the throne; but Jeroboam, hearing of Solomon's death, and remembering the prophecy, came also; and together these

two contended for the throne. And it came about, even 10 as the prophet had said, that the tribes of Israel divided.

Ten chose Jeroboam for their king, and two chose Rehoboam.

And so ended the reign of Solomon, one of the greatest kings the world has ever known; one whom the people 15 loved, and one whom the God of Israel had blessed as he

had blessed no other of the kings of Canaan.

HELPS FOR STUDY From what poem is the stanza at the beginning of this selection taken?

Where do we find the story of Solomon?
What was the “tabernacle”?
Who was David?
Give a description of Solomon's temple.
What was the “Ark”?
What are “cherubim”?
What are “lavers”?
What happened to Solomon when he turned away from God?
How did there come to be twelve tribes of Israel?

NOTES

309: 16 Gibeon. In Old Testament geography, a town in Palestine. The modern name is El-Jib.

311:16 Lebanon. A lofty mountain-range in the southern part of Syria. Of the celebrated cedar trees of Lebanon only a few now remain.

VOCABULARY
Jeroboam (jer-ô-bố'am)

Abijah (a-bi'jä)

ABSALOM

NATHANIEL P. WILLIS

Nathaniel Parker Willis was born in Portland, Maine, January 20, 1806. He entered Yale College, where he obtained a prize for his “Scriptural Poenms.”. After his graduation, he engaged in literary work, establishing a magazine, and during several years of travel in Europe wrote a series of letters for the newspapers. His published works consist of poems, books of travels, and novels. He died at Idlewild, a romantic highland retreat, near Newburg, N. Y., January 21, 1867.

In the following poem David laments the death of Absalom, his son, who rebelled against his father, and was defeated and slain in the forest of Ephraim. As Absalom was riding under a tree, his hair caught in the branches, lifting him from his mule and leaving him suspended in the air. Seeing him thus, Joab, the commander of the Hebrew army, under David, thrust him through, although the king had given express orders that he should be spared. (See II Samuel, XVIII.)

The pall was settled. He who slept beneath
Was straightened for the grave; and as the folds
Sunk to the still proportions, they betrayed
The matchless symmetry of Absalom.
His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls.
Were floating round the tassels, as they swayed
To the admitted air.

5

10

His helm was at his feet; his banner, soiled
With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid,
Reversed, beside him; and the jeweled hilt,
Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade,
Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow.

15

The soldiers of the king trod to and fro,
Clad in the garb of battle; and their chief,
The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier,
And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly,
As if he feared the slumberer might stir.
A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade
As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form
Of David entered, and he gave command,
In a low tone, to his few followers,
And left him with his dead.

20

25

The king stood still
Till the last echo died; then throwing off
The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back
The pall from the still features of his child,
He bowed his head upon him, and broke forth
In the resistless eloquence of woe:

30

Alas! my noble boy, that thou shouldst die!

Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair!
That death should settle in thy glorious eye,

And leave his stillness in this clustering hair.
How could he mark thee for the silent tomb

My proud boy, Absalom!

35 “Cold is thy brow, my son! and I am chill,

As to my bosom I have tried to press thee,
How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill,

Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee,
And hear thy sweet ‘My father!' from these dumb

And cold lips, Absalom!

40

“The grave hath won thee. I shall hear the gush

Of music, and the voices of the young;
And life shall pass me in the mantling blush,

And the dark tresses to the soft winds flung;

45

But thou no more, with thy sweet voice, shalt come

To meet me, Absalom!

'And, oh! when I am stricken, and my heart,

Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken,
How will its love for thee, as I depart,

Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token!
It were so sweet, amid death's gathering gloom,

To see thee, Absalom!

50

55

“And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up,

With death so like a gentle slumber on thee —
And thy dark sin! - oh, I could drink the cup,

If from this woe its bitterness had won thee.
May God have called thee, like a wanderer, home,

My erring Absalom!”

60

He covered up his face, and bowed himself
A moment on his child; then, giving him
A look of melting tenderness, he clasped
His hands convulsively, as if in prayer;
And, as if strength were given him of God,
He rose up calmly, and composed the pall
Firmly and decently, and left him there,
As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.

65

HELPS FOR STUDY
Who was Absalom?
What was his “helm”?
Why was his banner reversed beside him?
Explain “clad in the garb of battle.”
Who was Joab?
What was “sackcloth” and why was it worn?
Explain “resistless eloquence of woe.”
Explain "mantling blush.”
What is David's meaning in lines 42 and 43?
What was Absalom's “dark sin”?

THE STORY OF BELSHAZZAR

10

Nebuchadnezzar died, and Belshazzar became king of Babylon. He made great feasts to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine with them in his palace. And while he feasted, he commanded his servants to bring the gold and 5 silver vessels that his father, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem. They brought the golden vessels, and the king and his princes drank from them; and as they drank, they praised their idols of gold and silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

But while they were feasting and making merry, lo! a hand wrote words upon the wall where the king and his lords held their feast. The king saw the hand that wrote. His face was changed, for he was filled with fear, so that

his knees trembled and smote one against the other. 15 “Bring in the wise men!” he cried out aloud to his servants. The wise men came.

“Whoever shall read this writing and tell the interpretation of it shall be clothed with scarlet and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the

third ruler in the kingdom,” he cried. But none of the 20 wise men could read the writing or tell the interpretation.

Then the king was troubled yet more, and his lords were astonished at what they saw. The queen spoke to him, saying, “Let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy

face be sad. There is a man in thy kingdom in whom is 25 the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father,

Nebuchadnezzar, so great wisdom was found in him, that the king, Nebuchadnezzar, made him master over all the wise men of Babylon. He hath knowledge and understanding for interpreting dreams and telling of secret things.

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