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IV.—THE PROPHETICAL BOOKS.Jonah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, prophesied before the Captivity; Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, Daniel, during it; and Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, after the Restoration, and in the chronological order 20 given here. The arrangement of these books in our Bible is ruled more by the matter; the four greater books being placed first, instead of in chronological order.

ISAIAH (Salvation of Jehovah), the son of Amoz (not the prophet of that name), prophesied about " Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah." His tribe and family are uncertain, but he is believed to have been of the seed-royal of Judah. Under Uzziah and Jotham religion declined, luxury increased; under Ahaz idolatry was rampant, and the Temple closed. Isaiah warned and reproved in vain, till Hezekiah listened to his voice, and made him his adviser. He is said to have been sawn asunder in the reign of Manasseh, qn whose accession, however, he must have been nearly ninety years of age.

The first verse seems to be the heading of the whole book, which consists of a series of visions, followed by a few miscellaneous prophecies and historical facts. These visions are placed in chronological order, but only one of them is strictly "a vision" (i.e. a waking dream), the rest being subjective, rather than objective pictures of future events. It is difficult to assign any of them to the reign of Jotham, except, perhaps, some of the burdens: but those of the reigns of Uzziah, Ahaz, and Hezekiah are marked by the writer himself. The first portion of the book relates chiefly to the Jewish nation and its enemies, with predictions about Assyria (then in its zenith), Babylon (in its infancy as a power), Moab, Egypt (the great rival of Assyria), Philistia, Syria, Edom, and Tyre (the great mercantile power), and a few historical chapters of Heze-kiah's reign. The second portion embraces a forecast of the whole period between the Captivity and the close of the Christian dispensation, the return from Babylon being used to prefigure the Advent of the Messiah and the redemption of the people. The prophecies regarding the Messiah's birth, passion, glory, rejection by the Jews, and acceptance by the Gentiles, are so exact as to have earned him the name of the "Gospel Prophet."

Peixcipal Subjects of Prophecy :—

I. The Captivities and Restoration of Judah and Israel (xxxix. 6, 7).

II. The ruin and desolation of Babylon, Tyre, Damascus, Egypt, &c. and the destruction of Syria and Israel (vii. 12; xlvii. 7,15). III. The conquests and conduct of Cyrus, who is mentioned by name, and his relieving the Jews, nearly 200 years before his birth (xliv. 28; xlvi. 1-5).

IV. Prophecies respecting the Messiah:

1. His Forerunner (xl. 3).

2. His Birth (vii. 14).

3.  His Family (xi. 10).

4. His Name and Kingdom (ix. 6, 7).

5.  His Rejection by the Jews (viii. 14).

6.  His Acceptance by the Gentiles (xlix. 6).

7. His Miracles (xxxv. 5, 6).

Many eminent German critics, of the last and present century, have called in question the genuineness of the last twenty-seven chapters, on the ground that their standpoint is the Babylonish Captivity, from whence the author looks forward to succeeding events, and forewarns his people of what seems to be coming, and hence sketches out the career of the Messiah. They think it impossible for a prophet to mention Cyrus by name 200 years before his birth. The whole force of this objection rests upon a doubtful acceptance of prophetic inspiration. It has been ably refuted by other German critics. An excellent resume will be found in Keil-s Einleitung. It is difficult to imagine that such a writing at such an age should

have been issued anonymously, and it must be borne in mind, that the integrity of the whole book has been universally admitted by all Jews and Christians of former centuries. Moreover, since forty-seven of the sixty-six chapters are quoted, directly or indirectly, in the New Testament, and in twenty-one cases Isaiah is named as the author of the prophecy, it must be conceded that every objection is met by fact.

JEREMIAH (Appointed by Jehovah) was son of Hilkiah, a priest of Anathoth (a small village close to Jerusalem). He began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign, about seventy years after Isaiah's death, and continued to do so all through the troubled times of the Babylonian invasion. He was regarded as the bird of evil omen by the rulers of Jerusalem, and was subjected to cruel persecution. He saw the city besieged and taken, his warnings neglected but fulfilled, his fellow-citizens carried captive, and Jerusalem a heap of ruins; and in an adjoining cave he wrote his Lamentations over it. A remnant rallied round him after the murder of Gedaliah, and were forbidden by God, through his mouth, to flee into Egypt; but they accused him of falsehood, and disregarding the Divine command, carried him with them into that country (xliii.), where, according to Jerome, he was put to death, having prophesied for about forty years.

His prophecies are not in chronological order, but seem to have been re-arranged according to their subjects, viz.:—(1) Warnings to the Jews. (2) Survey of all nations, with an historical appendix. (3) Prediction of brighter days to come, with a similar appendix. (4) Prophecies regarding Egypt. The concluding chapters (from li. 34) are supposed to have been compiled from the later portions of II. Kings, and may have been added by Ezra. Jeremiah was contemporary with Ze-phaniah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, and Daniel. He foretold the precise date of the Captivity, the fate of Zedekiah, the Return of the Jews, future decay of Babylon, and fall of many other nations. He is said to have buried the ark; and he predicted the abrogation of the Law, the inauguration of a spiritual worship, the blessing of the Atonement, the call of the Gentiles through the Gospel, and the final acceptance of the Jews.

Bunsen and Ewald consider that the prophecies seem to be most naturally grouped together by the recurrence of the formula, "The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah," as follows:—! (Chap, i.) An introduction, probably prefixed to the whole at the final revision. 2. (ii.—xxi.) Probably the roll written by Baruch (xxxvi. 32), after the one read in the ears of Jehoiakim had been burnt by him. 3. (xxii.—xxv.) Shorter prophecies delivered against the kings of Judah and false prophets. 4. (xxv.—xxviii.) Two great prophecies of the fall of Jerusalem. 5. (xxix.—xxxi.) The message of comfort for the exiles in Babylon. 6. (xxxii.—xliv.) The history of the last two years before the capture of Jerusalem, and of Jeremiah's work during that and the subsequent period. 7. (xlvi.—li.) The prophecies against foreign nations, ending with the great predictions against Babylon. 8. (lii.) The supplementary narrative, which is also a preface to Lamentations.

The LXX. translation contains so many differences of reading, as well as variations m the arrangement of the chapters, that it would seem to have been made from some other recension of the Hebrew than any now extant; or else, the translators endeavoured to make the Hebrew more plain, and the arrangement more methodical. The genuineness of the book has never been seriously questioned; neither can its date be doubted. Gesenius- conjectures that more than 21 thirty Psalms (sc. v., vi., xiv., xxii.—xli., Hi.—lv., lix.—lxxi.), were composed by Jeremiah; if so, they are a valuable record of the hymnology of that period.

LAMENTATIONS. An appendix to the preceding, in the shape of a pathetic ode, expresses Jeremiah's grief for the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, the miseries of slavery and famine, inculcating the benefit of chastisement. It is full of pathetic tenderness. It is, in the Hebrew, an acrostic, each stanza beginning with a fresh letter of the alphabet, probably to assist the memory.

Chaps, i., ii., and iv. consist of twenty-two verses each (i.e. the number of Hebrew letters), in alphabetical order. Chap. v. contains the same number of verses, but not in alphabetic order; while chap. iii. has three verses to each letter of the alphabet, which is repeated at the beginning of each of the three verses. The book, however, is not one poem divided into five chapters, but consists of five distinct poems. Its original Hebrew title was " Echah," the usual prefix to a song of wailing.

Date and Authorship. The external evidence rests entirely on a preface in the LXX.: " And it came to pass, that after Israel was led captive, and Jerusalem was laid waste, Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation on Jerusalem;" which is followed by Josephus and others. The internal evidence connects it in style and subject-matter so closely with the book of Jeremiah's prophecies, as to leave no doubt as to the authorship. Some have supposed it to be the lamentation on the death of Josiah (2 Chron. xxxv. 25), mentioned by Josephus as extant in his time (Antiq. v.); but this conjecture does not accord with the tone of these poems, which evidently pourtray Jerusalem in ruins, and leave no doubt that they were composed after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar.

Its Canonicity has never been doubted; but it is regarded as the work of an inspired prophet, rather than as a prophetic inspiration. It has been variously placed among the sacred writings, either between Ruth and Ecclesiastes, among the five Megillolh, as in the Hebrew, or grouped with Jeremiah's writings, but separated from the prophetical book by that of Baruch, as in the LXX.

EZEKIEL (God will strengthen), son of Buzi, was a priest carried captive with other nobles by Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 599), before the destruction of Jerusalem. He was settled with a Jewish colony on the banks of the Chebar (Ehabut), 200 miles N. of Babylon, where he saw visions. He only lived twenty-seven years after, and did not begin to prophesy till the fifth year of his exile.

His prophecies may be divided into two parts. First, those spoken before the destruction of Jerusalem, to disabuse the people of all false hopes of succour from Egypt, instilling into them the certainty of God's vengeance, and exhorting them to sincere repentance. The Second part is full of consolation, exciting hope of future restoration on their true repentance, and the final glory of God's people in a renovated land and a new Jerusalem, with the outpouring of God's blessings upon them, and the future resurrection of the flesh. Between these two parts is an intervening portion, denouncing God's judgment on the seven heathen nations around them. This was written between the commencement of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem, and the news of its fall.

This book contains many visions, parables, and proverbs. The illustrations are often taken from buildings and their ornaments, shewing the writer to have been more familiar with a city than with rural life. He mentions Daniel by name (xxviii. 3); and as they were in exile together, they were probably well known to each other.

Summary. 1. Ezekiel's call (i.—iii. 15). 2. The general carrying out of the commission (iii. 16— vii.). 3. The rejection of the people, because of their idolatrous worship (viii.—xi.). 4. The sins of the age rebuked in detail (xii.—xix.). 5. The nature of the judgment, and the guilt which caused it (xx.—xxiii.). 6. The meaning of the now commencing punishment (xxiv.). 7. God's judgment denounced on seven heathen nations (xxv.—xxxii.). 8. Prophecies, after the destruction of Jerusalem, concerning the future condition of Israel (tfxxiii.—xxxix.). 9. The glorious consummation (xl.—xlviii.).

Hebrew tradition asserts that Jeremiah and Ezekiel exchanged writings in their lifetime, so that those of the former were read in Babylon, and those of the latter in Jerusalem. There are many similarities in the two books which favour this supposition,—especially as the character of the two writers is so different, that a resemblance in their writings would seem to be due to a mutual interchange of thoughts.

Canonicity. The great obscurity of the book (from its allegorical form), and apparent discrepancy between it and the Pentateuch (cp. xviii. 20, and Ex. xx. 5), led the Jews to place it among "the Treasures," which no one might read before the age of thirty; and, for the same reason, the Sanhedrin hesitated to give it a place among the Canonical books of the prophets, for public reading in the synagogue. But on no other ground has its Canonicity been disputed, nor has its authenticity teen seriously attacked.

There are no direct quotations from it in the New Testament, though in the Revelation there are several allusions and parallel passages, which shew that it was known to the writer.

DANIEL (God's Judge) was one of the princes of the royal family of Judah, and was made a eunuch in the palace of the King of Babylon, and became President of the Council. He was not a priest, but a civil governor. Carried captive at the age of from twelve to eighteen, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (eight years before Ezekiel), he prophesied during the whole period of the Captivity, and even two years after the Return. He did not accompany the Jews back to Jerusalem, but died in exile when more than ninety years of age. B.C. 603 he interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which brings him into notice. B.C. 580 (23 years later), the three children are, in his absence, saved from the fiery furnace. Ten years afterwards he interprets the king's second dream, and acts as viceroy during the seven years of that monarch's madness. He lives in retirement during the reign of Belshaz-zar, who prefers younger counsellors, till the writing on the wall calls him forth (B.C. 538); after which he is promoted to the highest post of government by Darius, which he retains under Cyrus (536), thus serving under three dynasties —the Chaldean, Median, and Persian.

His book consists of two distinct volumes, the prophecies of the latter being synchronous with some of the historical events narrated in the former: e.g. the first vision occurred in the first year of Belshazzar (B.C. 555); the second in 553; the third in the first year of Darius (538); the last in the third of Cyrus (534). The historical part (chaps, ii. 4—vii.) is in Chaldee; the prophetical in Hebrew. In the former Daniel is spoken of in the third person, in the latter in the first; but of both portions he is allowed to have been the author. Our Lord speaks of him as a prophet (Matt. xxiv. 15). An allusion is made to him in Heb. xi. 33, 34; and his language 22 is copied in the Revelation of John the Divine, which is the counterpart of his hook in the New Testament.

Chap. ii. predicts the course of the Five Great Empires of the world, which should succeed each other in supremacy—viz. the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, Roman, and Christian. In chap, vii. the four worldly empires, under the figure of four beasts, are viewed in their religious aspect. In chap. viii. is predicted the struggle between the Persian and Grecian powers, and tire rise of the corrupting influence of Antiochus Epiphanes (the "little horn"), which prepared the way for the final overthrow of the Jews by the Romans. Then follow the precise prophecies regarding the Messiah. In seven weeks (forty-nine years) the city would be rebuilt; in sixty-two weeks (434 years) Christ would begin His ministry, and in the middle of one week (three and a half years) He would be cut off. Chap. x. foretells the opposition of the Persian power to the restoration of the Jews; while chap. xi. more minutely predicts the history of the four Persian kings, that of Alexander and his successors, till the conquest of Syria by Rome, followed by a forecast of the growth of the supremacy of Christ's kingdom to the end of the world.

This book is the first of a series of apocalyptic writings, which culminate in the Revelation of John* the Divine. It has exercised far greater influence on Christian theology than any other writing of the Old Testament, depicting as it does, not merely the Advent of the Messiah, but the effect and influence of His human existence upon the whole future of the human race. Hence, his writings are not forewarnings of coming events, or divine threats of punishment, neither are they strictly prophetic, but have a far wider range, disclosing the philosophy of history, both sacred and profane, revealing to the Jews the great mission destined for them in the regeneration of mankind. Thus, with Ezekiel, the latter portion of the Book of Daniel forms the connecting link between the prophecies of the Jewish dispensation and the more universal revelation of Christ and His followers.

This traditional interpretation (which dates hack as far as II. Esdras and the Epistle of Barnabas) is rejected by some modern commentators, because it is thought to lose sight of the cyclic development of history; so that the Divine utterance, which has its first fulfilment in one period, receives a further and more complete one in the corresponding part of some other period. According to them, the four empires are, the Babylonian, Median, Persian, and Greek; while the fifth (the Christian), striking the feet of the composite image, crushed the foundations of them all (viz., heathen mythology), and prepared the way for its own supremacy over all future dominions. Each of these has its antitype in the Christian era,—Babylon in Rome, Media in Byzantium, Persia, with its divided power, in the Teutonic races, while the great Northern nations may hereafter rival the conquests of Alexander;—all these being eventually superseded in the triumph of Christ's second Kingdom, as the former empires were by His first Advent. In this way the Book of Daniel is hoth a prophecy and a revelation.

Date and Authorship. No doubt was expressed as to the authorship of Daniel, or as to the reality of the events contained in the book, until the fourth century A.D., when Porphyry denied the truth of the prophecies concerning Antiochus Epiphanes (in whose reign he supposed the work to have been written), while affirming the historical accuracy of the preceding ones. A considerable number of modern German critics have rejected the whole book as spurious, on the ground that the earlier chapters record miracles surpassing belief and that the prophetic portion represents historic events in such minute detail as to preclude the possibility of their being written anterior to those events. These objections are founded on a disbelief in miraculous power, and in prophetic inspiration; and those who advanced them assign the composition of the book to the period between B.C. 170 and 164. But it is impossible to believe that an impostor would have written what professed to be one continuous book, partly in Chaldee and partly in Hebrew, intermingled with Greek words. The tone of the whole is thoroughly Eastern, and the Jewish tradition is most reasonable, that each historical event was written at the time it happened, and each vision also, by Daniel himself; that these documents were conveyed, with other sacred works, from Babylon to Jerusalem, at the time of "the Return," and that they (as well as the Visions of Ezekiel) were compiled in their later form by the "Great Synagogue." Dr. Pusey says, "that neither its language, nor its historical references, nor its doctrines, imply any later date than that of Daniel himself; but that, contrariwise, the character of its Hebrew exactly fits with the period of Daniel, that of its Chaldee excludes any later period. That the minute, fearless touches, involving details of customs, state-institutions, history, belong to a contemporary," &c.

Canonicity. This was never doubted until the last two centuries, though the exceptional nature of the book caused it to be isolated by the Jewish canonists, who hesitated to give it a place among the prophets, but arranged it with the Babylonish documents between Esther and Nehemiah. It formed so powerful a weapon in the hands of Christians in their controversy with the Jews {Athan. de Inc. Verbi, c. 39), that the latter corrupted the LXX. text, until it became entirely discredited, and was superseded by that of Theo-dotion. which was also, in its turn, corrupted, and the old LXX. was lost, so that it is difficult now to reproduce its original.

Jonah (Dove), son of Amittai (True), the author and subject of the book called by his name, was born at Gath-hepher, in Zebulun, two miles from Sephorim. He is the same prophet who is sent to Jeroboam II. (2 Kings xiv. 25), in answer to the bitter cry of affliction that rose from Israel. The deliverance then worked by God brought no return of allegiance to Him; and Jonah is sent with a message of warning to their threatening invaders, the Assyrians. The contrast between the Gentile sailors and the heathen Ninevites and the prophet is so greatly in favour of the former, as to stamp the narrative with truthfulness. The writer leaves us with his impetuous will unbroken (though rebuked) and unexplained, while he closes his book with God's words of tender mercy. The clue to his unwillingness and murmuring is doubtless his foreknowledge that the nation, so spared, was destined to be God's instrument for the punishment of his native country. The King of Nineveh was the Pul of Scripture.

The Authenticity. of the book is proved by the genuine Hebrew words and archaic idioms which pervade it; and the second chapter shews the writer to be imbued with a knowledge of the Psalms, which he adapts to his own needs, hut does not quote.

It is also corroborated by the accuracy of its historical and geographical details, and by our Lord's own affirmation of its truth and of its typical significance. But some German critics, who disbelieve in miracles, regard it as fabulous or parabolic, and ascribe its composition to the 23 time of Josiah. It has, however, been regarded as Canonical both by Jews and Christians, and is ranked among the prophetical books because of its typical reference to the Resurrection of the Messiah.

Hosea, Joel, Amos, were contemporaries. It is most probable that Joel prophesied to Judah at the same time that Amos forewarned Israel, and that these two rather preceded Hosea, who, like Amos, was sent to the Israelites.

HOSEA (Salvation) prophesied for sixty years during the reigns of the last six kings of Israel (Jeroboam II. to Hoshea). He began to prophesy before Isaiah, with whom he was contemporary. The idolatry of Jeroboam had produced all kinds of vice; the kings were profligate; the priests had introduced shameful rites throughout the land; God was forgotten; the rulers looked to Assyria or to Egypt for help in their misfortunes, and Hosea compares their defection to the unfaithfulness of a wife to her marriage vows. His illustrations are taken from rural and domestic pursuits (e.g. snaring of birds, sowing, reaping, and threshing, baking of bread). He gives us some insight into the modes of life of that day, e.g. the women decked with earrings and jewels; the feasts and sabbaths are "days of mirth;" they sacrificed on mountain tops, burnt incense on hills, "under oaks, and poplars, and elms;" while "troops of robbers wait for a man." This book is quoted by our Lord, by the Evangelist Matthew, and the apostles Peter and Paul.

It may be divided into two parts: (1) A symbolical representation (i.—iii.) of the adoption of the people, their rebellion, rejection, conversion of the Gentiles, and final restoration of Israel. (2) Prophetic discourses, illustrated by most vivid images.

JOEL (Jehovah is God) was the son of Pethuel, and of the tribe of Reuben, and lived not later than the time of Uzziah, for he does not mention Assyria by name amongst the foes of Judah. The Jews say that he lived in the time of the drought (2 Kings viii. 1) of Elisha; but it is more probably that mentioned by Amos (iv. 7). The book begins with a warning of an impending visitation of locusts and drought, regarded as a figurative picture of threatened invasions, the "northern army" being that of Assyria, at that time unknown to them. The prophet exhorts the people of Judah to repentance, fasting, and prayer, to avert these calamities: promising a blessing instead, and the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh, with a warning of the destruction of Jerusalem as typical of the final judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat; the foundation of a new city, and the inauguration of Messiah's kingdom in peace and prosperity. This book is quoted by Peter (Acts ii. 16-21), and Paul (Rom. x. 13).

Date. Both the style and subject-matter confirm the Hebrew tradition that he was the earliest of the prophets of Judah, since he foretells, in general language onty, the future evils which were to come upon them from the Northern invasion, which evidently was still distant, since the prophecy is vague and there is an absence of particularity. Some modern critics have conjectured that he prophesied in the reign of Hezekiah, others of Manasseh, others of Josiah. The LXX. arranges the book after that of Amos and Micah.

AMOS (Burden) prophesied to the ten tribes within the twenty-five years during which Uzziah and Jeroboam II. were contemporary (B.C. 809–784), " two years before the earthquake " (Zech. xiv. 5). He was a shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees of Tekoa in Judah, till sent by God to prophesy at Beth-el against the worship of the calves. But he must also have preached at Samaria, since he rebukes the vices of a capital,—extreme luxuries, revelry, debauchery,—and contrasts them with excessive poverty and oppression of the poor. Israel was at the height of its prosperity; (under Jeroboam II. the poor were oppressed; luxury abounded, and God was forgotten.) He preached against the nations around the two kingdoms (Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab). He then describes the state of Israel and Judah, and especially charges Ephraim with ingratitude and obduracy. Next follow symbolical visions of successive punishments on Israel, culminating in ruin; but beyond that rises a hope of restored glory in the kingdom of the Messiah, in which the Gentiles will participate. In chap. vii. the idolatrous priest (Amaziah) complains to Jeroboam, who orders Amos to quit his kingdom. From this incident we have Beth-el depicted to us as a summer residence of the king, with its chief Temple of the Calves, and its hierarchy of royal chaplains (vii. 13), and the result of Amos' words of woe, that they had roused the people from one end of the land to the other. His illustrations are from agricultural pursuits: e.g. "a cart full of sheaves," "corn sifted in a sieve," the "latter-growth after the king's mowings," "every cow at the breach that is before her," &c.

The book presupposes an acquaintance with the Law of Moses, and implies that the proper form of worship was in accordance with it. It also bears strong evidence that the writer was familiar with the Book of Job, who, on that account, has been thought by some to have lived near Tekoa (see Job). As the book is not a series of distinct prophecies, but one connected whole, there is no doubt it was written in its present form by Amos after his return from Beth-el to Tekoa, though it probably reproduced, in more logical form, the substance of his preaching while at Beth-el. Dr. Pusey points out its evident connexion with the Book of Joel, since he opens it with the same threatening words as those with which the former closes, while he terminates his prophecy by almost reproducing the words with which Joel closes his.

Summary. 1. (i.—ii. 3). He denounces the sins of the nations bordering on Israel and Judah. 2. (ii. 4—vi. 14). He describes the state of those two kingdoms, especially the former. 3. (vii.—ix. 10). He reflects on the previous prophecy, relates his visit to Beth-el, and sketches the impending punishment of Israel, which he predicted to Amaziah. 4. (ix. 11-15). He depicts the Advent of the Messiah, and the final restoration of His people.

MICAH (Who is like unto Jehovah?) was a native of Moresheth-gath, E. of Eleutheropolis. He follows the three previous prophets, and Isaiah (who survived him), reiterating their warnings. He died in the days of Hezekiah (Jer. xxvi. 18, 19). He is referred to as a prophet by Jeremiah; his language is quoted by Zephanian (iii. 19), Ezekiel (xxii. 27), and by our Lord (Matt. x. 35, 36). He depicts (1) the ruin of both kingdoms; (2) he pourtrays the future and better destinies of the people; (3) the mercy and justice of God in contrast with the ingratitude of His people. He foretells the invasions of Shalmaneser and Sennacherib; the dispersion of Israel; cessation of prophecy; destruction of Jerusalem; of Assyria; the birthplace of Christ; His Divine nature; the universality of His Kingdom.

From the superscription, he prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, i.e. for a period of about fifty years, since Jotham came to the throne B.C. 756, and Hezekiah died B.C. 697. 24 Hebrew tradition asserts that he transmitted from Isaiah, to Joel, Nahum, and Habakkuk, the mysteries of the Kabbala. One prophecy (iii. 12) belongs to Hezekiah's reign, and probably preceded the great Passover (Jer. xxvi. 18).

Summary. Although the prophecies were probably delivered at different times, they have been cast into one complete whole in their present form, no doubt by the prophet himself. They are divided into three sections, each marked by a formula, "Hear ye," each commencing with denunciation and ending with a promise.

Section I. The Advent of Jehovah for judgment of the idolatry of Israel and Judah. 1. (i.-ii. 13). Forewarning of impending judgment. 2. Its cause—the unfaithfulness of prophets. 3. The threatened punishment; viz. the scourge of an Assyrian invasion. 4. Promise of restoration.

Section II. Judgment on Jerusalem. 1. Rebuke of the rulers of the people (iii. 14). 2. Rebuke of false prophets (iii. 6). 3. Punishment in the desolation of Mount Sion (iii. 9-12). 4. Restoration of Zion, its Temple, and of the people, with a gathering in of all nations under the sovereignty of the Messiah (iv.-v. 15). [Ewald divides this portion into four strophes.]

Section III. Dialogue between Jehovah and His people, in justification of His government (ch. vi.).

NAHUM (Consolation) was a native of Elkosh, whose site is unknown, but it was probably a little village in Galilee. He is thought to have prophesied after the captivity of the ten tribes, and between the two invasions of Sennacherib, whom Hezekiah had bribed with the treasure of the Temple. He comes as a consoler from Jehovah, foretelling the death of Sennacherib, and overthrow of Assyria; but his book is chiefly the sequel to that of Jonah; the latter having warned Nineveh of impending punishment, which God remitted on its repentance, Nahum now repeats the denunciations.

Jonah concluded with the declaration of God's mercy, "slow to anger," and "repenting of evil." Nahum begins by announcing the certainty of His judgment. Nineveh had sunk back into its old sins of violence, robbery, and bloodshed, with blasphemy and hostility to God. Nahum pronounces its sentence. Its destruction was near, and would be sudden and complete. There are three very distinct predictions: (1) The sudden destruction of Sennacherib's army (i. 12), and his death in the house of his god (i. 14). (2) The inevitable capture of Nineveh by the sudden irruption of the river in the midst of the siege (ii. 6). (3) Its utter desolation (iii.). In Nahum's time it was the largest and most opulent city in the world. It was captured by Cyaxares (B.C. 625). Xenophon describes its "wall void and large," 150 feet high, fifty wide, and twenty-two and a half miles in circuit; while the neighbouring inhabitants knew not what it had been, or how it had perished. In the second century A.D. its site was lost.

Date and Authorship. Some commentators, both ancient and modern, have assigned Alkush, on the Tigris, as the place of his birth, considering him to be the son of an Israelite captive, and that the vivid picture of Nineveh was drawn by him from personal observation: while they also affirm, that the interspersion of Assyrian words in his book points to that country as the scene of his prophecies. Others deny that internal evidence favours any other than a Palestinian origin to the work, which accords with the greatest weight of external evidence. The time of his prophecy is no less controverted. Some make him contemporary with Hosea, Amos, and Jonah (in the reign of Joash); others, with Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi; and while some German critics place him in the time of Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, or Josiah, Josephus distinctly states (Antiq. ix. 11) that he prophesied in the reign of Jotham.

ZEPHANIAH (Jehovah, hath guarded), whose pedigree, traced by himself (chap. i. 1), is generally allowed to connect him with king Hezekiah, prophesied at the beginning of Josiah's reign (B.C. 642-611). For fifty years prophecy was silent, during most of which time the wicked reign of Manasseh hurried on the judgments of God. The book commences with a general warning against Judah, and the idolatrous worship of Baal and Moloch, followed by judgments threatening Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia, and Nineveh, and concluding with special reproofs to Jerusalem, illuminated by the promise of restoration to glory in the latter days. There is much similarity of expression between this book and that of Jeremiah.

Summary. I. The judgment on Judea, and its causes (chap. i.). II. A call to repentance, with a promise of restoration and return to peace (ii.). III. Reproof of Jerusalem, and the vice of its people (iii. 1-7). IV. Promises of restoration of the people, and destruction of their enemies (iii. 8-20).

HABAKKUK (Embrace) was a younger contemporary of Jeremiah, and prophesied in Judah during the first half of the reign of Jehoiakim, when the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar was imminent. He did not accompany the captives, but, like Jeremiah, he lamented the iniquities of his country amongst its ruins. He then foretells the destruction of the Chaldeans, pourtraying their pride and self-confidence; expostulates with God for destroying His own people by such wicked instruments; and on a re-assurance of the final triumph of faith, he pours forth a sublime song of praise for the power and mercy of Jehovah, with a prayer for the redemption of His people, and confidence in His mercy. This book is quoted in Acts xiii. 41; Rom. i. 17; Gal. iii. 11; Heb. x. 37.

The subscription, "to the chief singer on my stringed instruments," shews that it was used as an oratorio, in which the prophet took a part, and was incorporated into the Temple service. Hence Habakkuk must have been a Levite. The whole is a colloquy between him and God. It opens with a plaintive recitative of "the faithful," struggling under the painful spectacle of the good among God's people suffering from the oppression of the evil, interspersed with God's answer of judgment awaiting them from the Chaldees. This is followed by the prophet's appeal for the righteous who will suffer with the wicked, which swells into a vivid picture of the Chaldean scourge sweeping irresistibly before him; and then there is a brief silence of expectation for the reply, which (chap, ii.) reveals the judgment upon Chaldea. Then rises the note of prayer, which introduces the great hymn of faith, recounting the miraculous deliverances of old as earnests of future ones, and closing with the vision of all nature desolate, and God's enemies prostrate, but faith exultant in the God of salvation.

Date. The Rabbis fix the time of this prophecy in the reign of Manasseh, with which its subject seems to accord; but modern German critics prefer that of Josiah, while others have made Habakkuk contemporary with Ezekiel and Daniel in Babylonia, and with Haggai and Zechariah in Judea.


OBADIAH (Worshipper of Jehovah) prophesied, it has been conjectured, before the destruction of Jerusalem (B.C. 588), and the conquest of Edom (583). As Nahum had foretold the downfall of Assyria, and Habakkuk that of Chaldea, so Obadiah predicts that of the implacable foe of Israel, Edom, warning them not to rejoice in the day of their brother's calamity (for the Hebrew tenses are future, not past as in our translation). He foretells the utter annihilation of Edom, and contrasts it with the future restoration of Israel, which should also possess the land of Edom and Philistia, and enjoy the promises of her offspring, the Messiah.

Eight verses (1-8) are incorporated by Jeremiah (xlix.) amongst his own prophecies. This similarity has caused a doubt which of the two prophets repeated the denunciations of the other; and therefore the exact date of this book is rendered uncertain, some advocating its priority to that of Jeremiah, others ascribing it to a later date. Dr. Pusey maintains that the Hebrew future determines the question in favour of the priority of the Book of Obadiah. Those who take the opposite view conjecture that the occasion of this prophecy was the hostility shewn by the sons of Esau to their brethren the Israelites at the time of the Babylonish invasion. They seem to have rejoiced in the downfall of Jerusalem, and to have cut off those Jews who attempted to fly through Idumæa into Egypt. Hence arose the prayer of the Jewish captives in Babylon (Ps. cxxxvii. 7), and the answer to it in the denunciations of Obadiah, who predicts the Divine retribution on Edom, and the future glory of Israel, in the occupation of Idumæa. This prophecy was partially fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar, and further by the entire subjugation of Edom by John Hyrcanus, after which it vanishes from history; but its completion, in the possession of Idumæa by the Israelites, must still be anticipated after the final return of that people to their promised inheritance; and therefore this book is the most favourite study of the Jews to this day.

Summary. 1. The Edomites fancied themselves secure in the fastnesses of their rocks (ver. 3). 2. The spoiler should utterly destroy them (vv. 4–16). 3. The chastisement inflicted on the Jews should be but temporary; and, after their return from captivity, they should possess Edom and Philistia, and at length rejoice in the glorious reign of the Messiah (vv. 17–21).

The Prophets after the Restoration are Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Jewish tradition identifies them with the three men with Daniel when he saw the vision (Dan. x. 7). After the Captivity they were members of the great synagogue of 120 elders.

HAGGAI (Festive) was probably born at Babylon, and accompanied Zerubbabel to Jerusalem; though Dr. Pusey considers that he had seen the glory of the old Temple before its destruction (ii. 3), and that he was one of the very aged exiles who laid the foundation of the new Temple in tears (Ezra iii. 12). He was inspired by God to rouse the people to support Zerubbabel and Joshua (the High Priest) in building the Temple, which had been suspended for fourteen years owing to the counter edict gained by the Samaritans from Artaxerxes. When the decree of Cyrus was renewed, the people were in a lethargic state, preferring their own temporal prosperity to the restoration of God's house, till drought and mildew wrung penitence from them. The prophecy is short and condensed. Haggai reproves their lethargy, and promises a blessing upon the work. In twenty-four days they recommence the building. The youthful Zechariah is moved to second Haggai's work, but, after one brief prophecy, is silenced. After four weeks they become despondent, and compare the new with the old Temple; but Haggai foretells greater glory for the former. Two months later he again rebukes their slowness, and promises Divine favour. He finally appeals to Zerubbabel, as heir of the house of David, and predicts the stability of the Kingdom of God amidst the ruin of temporal sovereignties. He only prophesied for four months. He is quoted in Heb. xii. 26.

Haggai and Zechariah are associated in the LXX. in the titles of Psalms cxxv., cxxvi., cxlv.-cxlviii.; and they are mentioned in 1 Esdras vi. 1; vii. 3.

ZECHARIAH (Whom Jehovah remembers), the son of Berechiah, and grandson of Iddo, was probably of the tribe of Levi, born in Babylon, and also came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. He began to prophesy two months after Haggai (i. 1), and continued during two years, encouraging the Jews to prosecute the erection of the Temple. He also foreshadowed the history of the people and of the Christian Church. The book is full of allusions to the Advent of the Messiah, and is frequently quoted in the New Testament. It consists of three parts: (1) Nine visions of the glory of the kingdom and worship of the Messiah (i.–vi.). (2) A colloquy between the prophet and a deputation from Babylon, regarding the fasts of penitence for the destruction of the Temple, and his exhortation to convert them into feasts of restoration (vii., viii.). (3) The history of the Jews and of the Church to the final judgment (ix.–xiv.).

Summary. Section I. The nine visions, viz.:—1. (i. 7-17). A rider on a red horse, among the myrtle-trees, symbolising a general peace over the whole land, and the cessation of opposition to the building of the Temple. 2. (i. 18-21). Four horns (i.e. four enemies of the Jews), and four carpenters, by whom they are broken. 3. (ii. 1-9). Man with a measuring-line, enlarging the boundaries of Jerusalem; i.e. her increase, enclosing the Gentiles. 4. (iii.). Joshua (the High Priest), changing filthy garments for new ones, signifies the restoration of Judah, and advent of "The Branch." 5. (iv.). A golden lamp, fed by two olive-trees; i.e. the rebuilding of the Temple, and future glorification of the Church by the unction of the Holy Spirit. 6. (v. 1-4). A flying roll; i.e. vengeance on the ungodly. 7. (v. 5-11). A woman, pressed into an ephah by a leaden weight, and borne eastward; i.e. repression and banishment of idolatry. 8. (vi. 1-8). Four chariots issuing from two brazen mountains; i.e. the course of Divine Providence. 9. (vi. 9-15). Crowning of Joshua; i.e. the regal and priestly office of "The Branch."

Section II. Colloquy between the prophet and exiles regarding the fasts.

1. (vii.). The nature of a true fast.

2. (viii.). On conversion of fasts into feasts.

Section III. The future destiny of the Jewish Church and people. 1. (ix. 1-7). Peace under Alexander's rule. 2. (ix. 12-17). Revival of power under the Maccabees. 3. (xi.-xii. 12). A reverse (caused by the rejection of Messiah—punished by the destruction of Jerusalem). 4. (xii. 3-14). A period of penitence and hope. 5. (xiv.). Return of the Messiah to Jerusalem in triumph over His enemies, and the inauguration of theocratic glory.

Date. The style of the composition and the frequent Chaldaisms establish the lateness of its composition. The difference between the earlier and later portions has led some modern critics to doubt the genuineness of the last six chapters, but their conjectures are ably refuted by Dr. Pusey.


MALACHI (Messenger of Jehovah), the last of the prophets, was contemporary with Nehemiah. He prophesied from B.C. 436-397.

According to one tradition, he was born at Sopha in Zebulon, after the Captivity, died young, and was buried there. According to another, "Malachi" was not a name, but an office, and some go so far as to declare that Haggai, Malachi, and John the Baptist were angels in human form. Hence, one Hebrew Targum identifies the writer of this book with Ezra, another with Zerubbabel, a third with Nehemiah. Internal evidence is conclusive in favour of the writer living after the death of Ezra and the second immigration of captives, since the abuses noted in the book are exactly those which Nehemiah reformed. The new Temple was already built, and its services fully re-established. He reproves the profanity of the priests; foretells the sudden appearance of the Messiah to purify that Temple and its congregation; he rebukes the frequency of mixed marriages and divorces; threatens Israel with rejection for their impiety, and the adoption of the Gentiles; and closes with a prediction of the harbinger of the Sun of Righteousness, and a warning against infringement of the law of God.

The style is prosaic and rhetorical, rather than poetic, and more closely resembles a written philosophical discourse than the oracles of the Hebrew prophets. In the LXX. and Vulgate it consists of four chapters, as in the A.V.; but in the Hebrew, chapters iii. and iv. form but one. It is quoted, as Scripture, in the New Testament (Mark i. 2; ix. 11, 12. Luke i. 17. Rom. ix. 13).

The prophecy naturally divides itself into three sections:—I. (i. 2-ii. 9). Jehovah is represented as the loving father and ruler of His people. It may be subdivided thus:—1. (i. 1-8). Jehovah asserts and proves His love to His people by reference to the punishment of Edom. 2. (i. 6-ii. 9). Rebuke of the priests, as the leaders of spiritual defection. II. (ii. 10-16). The prophet's reproof of mixed marriages and divorces, pourtrayed by the deserted wives weeping at the altar. III. The sudden appearance in the Temple of the Lord as the Judge, preceded by His forerunner. This section may be thus subdivided:—1. (ii. 17-iii. 5). A threat of punishment. 2. (iii. 6-12). A call to repentance. 3. (iii. 13-iv. 6). Reproof of distrust in God; forewarning of the final separation of good and bad; of the final judgment; and Advent of the Messiah, heralded by Elijah. Thus prophecy closes with the announcement of the Messiah's coming, and prepares the people for the appearance of His precursor, John the Baptist, in the spirit and power of Elias (Matt. xi. 14; xvii. 10-13).

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