« Prev CHAPTER XXXIII Next »
463

CHAPTER XXXIII

THE CONTENTS OF “ZECHARIAH” IX.—XIV.

From the number of conflicting opinions which prevail upon the subject, we have seen how impossible it is to decide upon a scheme of division for “Zech.” ix.—xiv. These chapters consist of a number of separate oracles, which their language and general conceptions lead us on the whole to believe were put together by one hand, and which, with the possible exception of some older fragments, reflect the troubled times in Palestine that followed on the invasion of Alexander the Great. But though the most of them are probably due to one date and possibly come from the same author, these oracles do not always exhibit a connection, and indeed sometimes show no relevance to each other. It will therefore be simplest to take them piece by piece, and, before giving the translation of each, to explain the difficulties in it and indicate the ruling ideas.

1. THE COMING OF THE GREEKS (ix. 1–8).

This passage runs exactly in the style of the early prophets. It figures the progress of war from the north of Syria southwards by the valley of the Orontes to Damascus, and then along the coasts of Phœnicia and the Philistines. All these shall be devastated, but Jehovah will camp about His own House and 464 it shall be inviolate. This is exactly how Amos or Isaiah might have pictured an Assyrian campaign, or Zephaniah a Scythian. It is not surprising, therefore, that even some of those who take the bulk of “Zech.” ix.—xiv. as post-exilic should regard ix. 1–5 as earlier even than Amos, with post-exilic additions only in vv. 6–8.[1324] This is possible. Vv. 6–8 are certainly post-exilic, because of their mention of the half-breeds, and their intimation that Jehovah will take unclean food out of the mouth of the heathen; but the allusions in vv. 1–5 suit an early date. They equally suit, however, a date in the Greek period. The progress of war from the Orontes valley by Damascus and thence down the coast of Palestine follows the line of Alexander’s campaign in 332, which must also have been the line of Demetrius in 315 and of Antigonus in 311. The evidence of language is mostly in favour of a late date.[1325] If Ptolemy I. took Jerusalem in 320,[1326] then the promise, no assailant shall return (ver. 8), is probably later than that.

In face then of Alexander’s invasion of Palestine, or of another campaign on the same line, this oracle repeats the ancient confidence of Isaiah. God rules: His providence is awake alike for the heathen and for Israel. Jehovah hath an eye for mankind, and all the tribes of Israel.[1327] The heathen shall be destroyed, but Jerusalem rest secure; and the remnant of the heathen be converted, according to the Levitical notion, by having unclean foods taken out of their mouths.

465

Oracle

The Word of Jehovah is on the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is its goal[1328]—for Jehovah hath an eye upon the heathen,[1329] and all the tribes of Israel—and on[1330] Hamath, which borders upon it, Tyre and Sidon, for they were very wise.[1331] And Tyre built her a fortress, and heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. Lo, the Lord will dispossess her, and strike her rampart[1332] into the sea, and she shall be consumed in fire. Ashḳlon shall see and shall fear, and Gaza writhe in anguish, and Ekron, for her confidence[1333] is abashed, and the king shall perish from Gaza and Ashḳlon lie uninhabited. Half-breeds[1334] shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut down the pride of the Philistines. And I will take their blood from their mouth and their abominations from between their teeth,[1335] and even they shall be left for our God, and shall become like a clan in Judah, and Ekron shall be as the Jebusite. And I shall encamp for a guard[1336] to My House, so that none pass by or return, and no 466 assailant again pass upon them, for now do I regard it with Mine eyes.

2. THE PRINCE OF PEACE (ix. 9–12).

This beautiful picture, applied by the Evangelist with such fitness to our Lord upon His entry to Jerusalem, must also be of post-exilic date. It contrasts with the warlike portraits of the Messiah drawn in pre-exilic times, for it clothes Him with humility and with peace. The coming King of Israel has the attributes already imputed to the Servant of Jehovah by the prophet of the Babylonian captivity. The next verses also imply the Exile as already a fact. On the whole, too, the language is of a late rather than of an early date.[1337] Nothing in the passage betrays the exact point of its origin after the Exile.

The epithets applied to the Messiah are of very great interest. He does not bring victory or salvation, but is the passive recipient of it.[1338] This determines the meaning of the preceding adjective, righteous, which has not the moral sense of justice, but rather that of vindication, in which righteousness and righteous are so frequently used in Isa. xl.—lv.[1339] He is lowly, like the Servant of Jehovah; and comes riding not the horse, an animal for war, because the next verse says that horses and chariots are to be removed from Israel,[1340] 467 but the ass, the animal not of lowliness, as some have interpreted, but of peace. To this day in the East asses are used, as they are represented in the Song of Deborah, by great officials, but only when these are upon civil, and not upon military, duty.

It is possible that this oracle closes with ver. 10, and that we should take vv. 11 and 12, on the deliverance from exile, with the next.

Rejoice mightily, daughter of Zion! shout aloud, daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, thy King cometh to thee, vindicated and victorious,[1341] meek and riding on an ass,[1342] and on a colt the she-ass’ foal.[1343] And I[1344] will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem, and the war-bow shall be cut off, and He shall speak peace to the nations, and His rule shall be from sea to sea and from the river even to the ends of the earth. Thou, too,—by thy covenant-blood,[1345] I have set free thy prisoners from the pit.[1346] Return to the fortress, ye prisoners of hope; even to-day do I proclaim: Double will I return to thee.[1347]

3. THE SLAUGHTER OF THE GREEKS (ix. 13–17).

The next oracle seems singularly out of keeping with the spirit of the last, which declared the arrival of the Messianic peace, while this represents Jehovah as using Israel for His weapons in the slaughter of 468 the Greeks and heathens, in whose blood they shall revel. But Stade has pointed out how often in chaps. ix.—xiv. a result is first stated and then the oracle goes on to describe the process by which it is achieved. Accordingly we have no ground for affirming ix. 13–17 to be by another hand than ix. 9–12. The apocalyptic character of the means by which the heathen are to be overthrown, and the exultation displayed in their slaughter, as in a great sacrifice (ver. 15), betray Israel in a state of absolute political weakness, and therefore suit a date after Alexander’s campaigns, which is also made sure by the reference to the sons of Javan, as if Israel were now in immediate contact with them. Kirkpatrick’s note should be read, in which he seeks to prove the sons of Javan a late gloss;[1348] but his reasons do not appear conclusive. The language bears several traces of lateness.[1349]

For I have drawn Judah for My bow, I have charged it with Ephraim; and I will urge thy sons, O Zion, against the sons of[1350] Javan, and make thee like the sword of a hero. Then will Jehovah appear above them, and His shaft shall go forth like lightning; and the Lord Jehovah shall blow a blast on the trumpet, and travel in the storms of the south.[1351] Jehovah will protect them, and they shall devour (?)[1352] and trample ...;[1353] and they 469 shall drink their blood[1354] like wine, and be drenched with it, like a bowl and like the corners of the altar. And Jehovah their God will give them victory in that day....[1355] How good it[1356] is, and how beautiful! Corn shall make the young men flourish and new wine the maidens.

4. AGAINST THE TERAPHIM AND SORCERERS (x. 1, 2).

This little piece is connected with the previous one only through the latter’s conclusion upon the fertility of the land, while this opens with rain, the requisite of fertility. It is connected with the piece that follows only by its mention of the shepherdless state of the people, the piece that follows being against the false shepherds. These connections are extremely slight. Perhaps the piece is an independent one. The subject of it gives no clue to the date. Sorcerers are condemned both by the earlier prophets, and by the later.[1357] Stade points out that this is the only passage of the Old Testament in which the Teraphim are said to speak.[1358] The language has one symptom of a late period.[1359]

After emphasising the futility of images, enchantments and dreams, this little oracle says, therefore the 470 people wander like sheep: they have no shepherd. Shepherd in this connection cannot mean civil ruler, but must be religious director.

Ask from Jehovah rain in the time of the latter rain.[1360] Jehovah is the maker of the lightning-flashes, and the winter rain He gives to them—to every man herbage in the field. But the Teraphim speak nothingness, and the sorcerers see lies, and dreams discourse vanity, and they comfort in vain. Wherefore they wander (?)[1361] like a flock of sheep, and flee about,[1362] for there is no shepherd.

5. AGAINST EVIL SHEPHERDS (x. 3–12).

The unity of this section is more apparent than its connection with the preceding, which had spoken of the want of a shepherd, or religious director, of Israel, while this is directed against their shepherds and leaders, meaning their foreign tyrants.[1363] The figure is taken from Jeremiah xxiii. 1 ff., where, besides, to visit upon[1364] is used in a sense of punishment, but the simple visit[1365] in the sense of to look after, just as within ver. 3 of this tenth chapter. Who these foreign tyrants are is not explicitly stated, but the reference to Egypt and Assyria as lands whence the Jewish captives shall be brought home, while at the same time there is a Jewish nation in Judah, suits only the Greek period, after Ptolemy had taken so many Jews to 471 Egypt,[1366] and there were numbers still scattered throughout the other great empire in the north, to which, as we have already seen, the Jews applied the name of Assyria. The reference can hardly suit the years after Seleucus and Ptolemy granted to the Jews in their territories the rights of citizens. The captive Jews are to be brought back to Gilead and Lebanon. Why exactly these are mentioned, and neither Samaria nor Galilee, forms a difficulty, to whatever age we assign the chapter. The language of x. 3–12 has several late features.[1367] Joseph or Ephraim, here and elsewhere in these chapters, is used of the portion of Israel still in captivity, in contrast to Judah, the returned community.

The passage predicts that Jehovah will change His poor leaderless sheep, the Jews, into war-horses, and give them strong chiefs and weapons of war. They shall overthrow the heathen, and Jehovah will bring back His exiles. The passage is therefore one with chap. ix.

My wrath is hot against the shepherds, and I will make visitation on the he-goats:[1368] yea, Jehovah of Hosts will[1369] visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like His splendid war-horses. From Him the corner-stone, from Him the stay,[1370] from Him the war-bow, from Him the oppressor—shall go forth together. And in battle shall they trample on heroes as on the dirt 472 of the streets,[1371] and fight, for Jehovah is with them, and the riders on horses shall be abashed. And the house of Judah will I make strong and work salvation for the house of Joseph, and bring them back,[1372] for I have pity for them,[1373] and they shall be as though I had not put them away,[1373] for I am Jehovah their God[1373] and I will hold converse with them.[1373] And Ephraim shall be as heroes,[1374] and their heart shall be glad as with wine, and their children shall behold and be glad: their heart shall rejoice in Jehovah. I will whistle for them and gather them in, for I have redeemed them, and they shall be as many as they once were. I scattered them[1375] among the nations, but among the far-away they think of Me, and they will bring up[1376] their children, and come back. And I will fetch them home from the land of Miṣraim, and from Asshur[1377] will I gather them, and to the land of Gilead and Lebānon will I bring them in, though these be not found sufficient for them. And they[1378] shall pass through the sea of Egypt,[1379] and He shall smite the sea of breakers, and all the deeps of the Nile shall be dried, and the pride of Assyria brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt swept aside. And their strength[1380] shall 473 be in Jehovah, and in His Name shall they boast themselves[1381]—oracle of Jehovah.

6. WAR UPON THE SYRIAN TYRANTS (xi. 1–3).

This is taken by some with the previous chapter, by others with the passage following. Either connection seems precarious. No conclusion as to date can be drawn from the language. But the localities threatened were on the southward front of the Seleucid kingdom. Open, Lebānon, thy doors suits the Egyptian invasions of that kingdom. To which of these the passage refers cannot of course be determined. The shepherds are the rulers.

Open, Lebānon, thy doors, that the fire may devour in thy cedars. Wail, O pine-tree, for the cedar is fallen;[1382] wail, O oaks of Bashan, for fallen is the impenetrable[1383] wood. Hark to the wailing of the shepherds! for their glory is destroyed. Hark how the lions roar! for blasted is the pride[1384] of Jordan.

7. THE REJECTION AND MURDER OF THE GOOD

SHEPHERD (xi. 4–17, xiii. 7–9).

There follows now, in the rest of chap. xi., a longer oracle, to which Ewald and most critics after him have suitably attached chap. xiii. 7–9.

This passage appears to rise from circumstances similar to those of the preceding and from the same circle of ideas. Jehovah’s people are His flock and 474 have suffered. Their rulers are their shepherds; and the rulers of other peoples are their shepherds. A true shepherd is sought for Israel in place of the evil ones which have distressed them. The language shows traces of a late date.[1385] No historical allusion is obvious in the passage. The buyers and sellers of God’s sheep might reflect the Seleucids and Ptolemies between whom Israel were exchanged for many years, but probably mean their native leaders. The three shepherds cut off in a month were interpreted by the supporters of the pre-exilic date of the chapters as Zechariah and Shallum (2 Kings xv. 8–13), and another whom these critics assume to have followed them to death, but of him the history has no trace. The supporters of a Maccabean date for the prophecy recall the quick succession of high priests before the Maccabean rising. The one month probably means nothing more than a very short time.

The allegory which our passage unfolds is given, like so many more in Hebrew prophecy, to the prophet himself to enact. It recalls the pictures in Jeremiah and Ezekiel of the overthrow of the false shepherds of Israel, and the appointment of a true shepherd.[1386] Jehovah commissions the prophet to become shepherd to His sheep that have been so cruelly abused by their guides and rulers. Like the shepherds of Palestine, the prophet took two staves to herd his flock. He 475 called one Grace, the other Union. In a month he cut off three shepherds—both month and three are probably formal terms. But he did not get on well with his charge. They were wilful and quarrelsome. So he broke his staff Grace, in token that his engagement was dissolved. The dealers of the sheep saw that he acted for God. He asked for his wage, if they cared to give it. They gave him thirty pieces of silver, the price of an injured slave,[1387] which by God’s command he cast into the treasury of the Temple, as if in token that it was God Himself whom they paid with so wretched a sum. And then he broke his other staff, to signify that the brotherhood between Judah and Israel was broken. Then, to show the people that by their rejection of the good shepherd they must fall a prey to an evil one, the prophet assumed the character of the latter. But another judgment follows. In chap. xiii. 7–9 the good shepherd is smitten and the flock dispersed.

The spiritual principles which underlie this allegory are obvious. God’s own sheep, persecuted and helpless though they be, are yet obstinate, and their obstinacy not only renders God’s good-will to them futile, but causes the death of the one man who could have done them good. The guilty sacrifice the innocent, but in this execute their own doom. That is a summary of the history of Israel. But had the writer of this allegory any special part of that history in view? Who were the dealers of the flock?

Thus saith Jehovah my God:[1388] Shepherd the flock of slaughter, whose purchasers slaughter them impenitently, and whose sellers say,[1389] Blessed be Jehovah, for I am 476 rich!—and their shepherds do not spare them. [For I will no more spare the inhabitants of the land—oracle of Jehovah; but lo! I am about to give mankind[1390] over, each into the hand of his shepherd,[1391] and into the hand of his king; and they shall destroy the land, and I will not secure it from their hands.[1392]] And I shepherded the flock of slaughter for the sheep merchants,[1393] and I took to me two staves—the one I called Grace, and the other I called Union[1394]—and so I shepherded the sheep. And I destroyed the three shepherds in one month. Then was my soul vexed with them, and they on their part were displeased with me. And I said: I will not shepherd you: what is dead, let it die; and what is destroyed, let it be destroyed; and those that survive, let them devour one another’s flesh! And I took my staff Grace, and I brake it so as to annul my covenant which I made with all the peoples.[1395] And in that day it was annulled, and the dealers of the sheep,[1396] who watched me, knew that it was Jehovah’s word. And I 477 said to them, If it be good in your sight, give me my wage, and if it be not good, let it go! And they weighed out my wage, thirty pieces of silver. Then said Jehovah to me, Throw it into the treasury[1397] (the precious wage at which I[1398] had been valued of them). So I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the House of Jehovah, to the treasury.[1399] And I brake my second staff, Union, so as to dissolve the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.[1400] And Jehovah said to me: Take again to thee the implements of a worthless shepherd: for lo! I am about to appoint a shepherd over the land; the destroyed he will not visit, the ...[1401] he will not seek out, the wounded he will not heal, the ...;[1402] he will not cherish, but he will devour the flesh of the fat and....[1403]

Woe to My worthless[1404] shepherd, that deserts the flock! The sword be upon his arm and his right eye! May his arm wither, and his right eye be blinded.

Upon this follows the section xiii. 7–9, which develops the tragedy of the nation to its climax in the murder of the good shepherd.

Up, Sword, against My shepherd and the man My 478 compatriot[1405]—oracle of Jehovah of Hosts. Smite[1406] the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones.[1407] And it shall come to pass in all the land—oracle of Jehovah—that two-thirds shall be cut off in it, and perish, but a third shall be left in it. And I shall bring the third into the fire, and smelt it as men smelt silver and try it as men try gold. It shall call upon My Name, and I will answer it. And I will[1408] say, It is My people, and it will say, Jehovah my God!

8. JUDAH versus JERUSALEM (xii. 1–7).

A title, though probably of later date than the text,[1409] introduces with the beginning of chap. xii. an oracle plainly from circumstances different from those of the preceding chapters. The nations, not particularised as they have been, gather to the siege of Jerusalem, and, very singularly, Judah is gathered with them against her own capital. But God makes the city like one of those great boulders, deeply embedded, which husbandmen try to pull up from their fields, but it tears and wounds the hands of those who would remove it. Moreover God strikes with panic all the besiegers, save only Judah, who, her eyes being opened, perceives that God is with Jerusalem and turns to her help. Jerusalem remains in her place; but the glory of the victory is first Judah’s, so that the house of David may not have too much fame nor boast over the country districts. The writer doubtless alludes to some temporary schism between the capital and country caused by the arrogance of the former. But we have no 479 means of knowing when this took place. It must often have been imminent in the days both before and especially after the Exile, when Jerusalem had absorbed all the religious privilege and influence of the nation. The language is undoubtedly late.[1410]

The figure of Jerusalem as a boulder, deeply bedded in the soil, which tears the hands that seek to remove it, is a most true and expressive summary of the history of heathen assaults upon her. Till she herself was rent by internal dissensions, and the Romans at last succeeded in tearing her loose, she remained planted on her own site.[1411] This was very true of all the Greek period. Seleucids and Ptolemies alike wounded themselves upon her. But at what period did either of them induce Judah to take part against her? Not in the Maccabean.

Oracle of the Word of Jehovah upon Israel.

Oracle of Jehovah, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him: Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling for all the surrounding peoples, and even Judah[1412] shall 480 be at the siege of Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in that day that I will make Jerusalem a stone to be lifted[1413] by all the peoples—all who lift it do indeed wound[1414] themselves—and there are gathered against it all nations of the earth. In that day—oracle of Jehovah—I will smite every horse with panic, and their riders with madness; but as for the house of Judah, I will open its[1415] eyes, though every horse of the peoples I smite with blindness. Then shall the chiefs[1416] of Judah say in their hearts, ...[1417] the inhabitants of Jerusalem through Jehovah of Hosts their God. In that day will I make the districts of Judah like a pan of fire among timber and like a torch among sheaves, so that they devour right and left all the peoples round about, but Jerusalem shall still abide on its 481 own site.[1418] And Jehovah shall first give victory to the tents[1419] of Judah, so that the fame of the house of David and the fame of the inhabitants of Jerusalem be not too great in contrast to Judah.

9. FOUR RESULTS OF JERUSALEM’S DELIVERANCE

(xii. 8—xiii. 6)

Upon the deliverance of Jerusalem, by the help of the converted Judah, there follow four results, each introduced by the words that it happened in that day (xii. 8, 9, xiii. 1, 2). First, the people of Jerusalem shall themselves be strengthened. Second, the hostile heathen shall be destroyed, but on the house of David and all Jerusalem the spirit of penitence shall be poured, and they will lament for the good shepherd whom they slew. Third, a fountain for sin and uncleanness shall be opened. Fourth, the idols, the unclean spirit, and prophecy, now so degraded, shall all be abolished. The connection of these oracles with the preceding is obvious, as well as with the oracle describing the murder of the good shepherd (xiii. 7–9). When we see how this is presupposed by xii. 9 ff., we feel more than ever that its right place is between chaps. xi. and xii. There are no historical allusions. But again the language gives evidence of a late date.[1420] And throughout the passage there is a repetition of formal phrases 482 which recalls the Priestly Code and the general style of the post-exilic age.[1421] Notice that no king is mentioned, although there are several points at which, had he existed, he must have been introduced.

1. The first of the four effects of Jerusalem’s deliverance from the heathen is the promotion of her weaklings to the strength of her heroes, and of her heroes to divine rank (xii. 8). In that day Jehovah will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the lame among them shall in that day be like David himself , and the house of David like God, like the Angel of Jehovah before them.

2. The second paragraph of this series very remarkably emphasises that upon her deliverance Jerusalem shall not give way to rejoicing, but to penitent lamentation for the murder of him whom she has pierced—the good shepherd whom her people have rejected and slain. This is one of the few ethical strains which run through these apocalyptic chapters. It forms their highest interest for us. Jerusalem’s mourning is compared to that for Hadad-Rimmon in the valley or plain of Megiddo. This is the classic battle-field of the land, and the theatre upon which Apocalypse has placed the last contest between the hosts of God and the hosts of evil.[1422] In Israel’s history it had been the ground not only of triumph but of tears. The greatest tragedy of that history, the defeat and death of the righteous Josiah, took place there;[1423] and since the earliest Jewish interpreters the mourning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo has been referred to the mourning 483 for Josiah.[1424] Jerome identifies Hadad-Rimmon with Rummâni,[1425] a village on the plain still extant, close to Megiddo. But the lamentation for Josiah was at Jerusalem; and it cannot be proved that Hadad-Rimmon is a place-name. It may rather be the name of the object of the mourning, and as Hadad was a divine name among Phœnicians and Arameans, and Rimmôn the pomegranate was a sacred tree, a number of critics have supposed this to be a title of Adonis, and the mourning like that excessive grief which Ezekiel tells us was yearly celebrated for Tammuz.[1426] This, however, is not fully proved.[1427] Observe, further, that while the reading Hadad-Rimmon is by no means past doubt, the sanguine blossoms and fruit of the pomegranate, “red-ripe at the heart,” would naturally lead to its association with the slaughtered Adonis.

And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations who have come in upon Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they shall look to him[1428] whom they have pierced; and they shall lament for him, as with lamentation for an only son, and bitterly grieve for him, as with grief for a first-born. In that day lamentation shall be as great in Jerusalem as the lamentation 484 for Hadad-Rimmon[1429] in the valley of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shime’i[1430] by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families who are left, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.

3. The third result of Jerusalem’s deliverance from the heathen shall be the opening of a fountain of cleansing. This purging of her sin follows fitly upon her penitence just described. In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David, and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.[1431]

4. The fourth consequence is the removal of idolatry, of the unclean spirit and of the degraded prophets from her midst. The last is especially remarkable: for it is not merely false prophets, as distinguished from true, who shall be removed; but prophecy in general. It is singular that in almost its latest passage the prophecy of Israel should return to the line of its earliest representative, Amos, who refused to call himself prophet. As in his day, the prophets had become mere professional and mercenary oracle-mongers, abjured to the point of death by their own ashamed and wearied relatives.

And it shall be in that day—oracle of Jehovah of Hosts—I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall not be remembered any more. And also the prophets and the unclean spirit will I expel 485 from the land. And it shall come to pass, if any man prophesy again, then shall his father and mother who begat him say to him, Thou shall not live, for thou speakest falsehood in the name of Jehovah; and his father and mother who begat him shall stab him for his prophesying. And it shall be in that day that the prophets shall be ashamed of their visions when they prophesy, and shall not wear the leather cloak in order to lie. And he will say, No prophet am I! A tiller of the ground I am, for the ground is my possession[1432] from my youth up. And they shall say to him, What are these wounds in[1433] thy hands? and he shall say, What I was wounded with in the house of my lovers!

10. JUDGMENT OF THE HEATHEN AND SANCTIFICATION OF

JERUSALEM (xiv.).

In another apocalyptic vision the prophet beholds Jerusalem again beset by the heathen. But Jehovah Himself intervenes, appearing in person, and an earthquake breaks out at His feet. The heathen are smitten, as they stand, into mouldering corpses. The remnant of them shall be converted to Jehovah and take part in the annual Feast of Booths. If any refuse they shall be punished with drought. But Jerusalem shall abide in security and holiness: every detail of her equipment shall be consecrate. The passage has many resemblances to the preceding oracles.[1434] The language is undoubtedly late, and the figures are borrowed from other prophets, chiefly Ezekiel. It is a characteristic specimen of the Jewish Apocalypse. The destruction of the heathen is described in verses of terrible grimness: there is no tenderness nor hope exhibited for 486 them. And even in the picture of Jerusalem’s holiness we have no really ethical elements, but the details are purely ceremonial.

Lo! a day is coming for Jehovah,[1435] when thy spoil will be divided in thy midst. And I will gather all the nations to besiege Jerusalem, and the city will be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished, and the half of the city shall go into captivity, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. And Jehovah shall go forth and do battle with those nations, as in the day when He fought in the day of contest. And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives which is over against Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split into halves from east to west by a very great ravine, and half of the Mount will slide northwards and half southwards. ...,[1436] for the ravine of mountains[1437] shall extend to ‘Aṣal,[1438] and ye shall flee as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah,[1439] and Jehovah my God will come and[1440] all the holy ones with Him.[1441] And in that day there shall not be light, ... 487 congeal.[1442] And it shall be one[1443] day—it is known to Jehovah[1444]—neither day nor night; and it shall come to pass that at evening time there shall be light.

And it shall be in that day that living waters shall flow forth from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea: both in summer and in winter shall it be. And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth: in that day Jehovah will be One and His Name One. All the land shall be changed to plain,[1445] from Geba to Rimmon,[1446] south of Jerusalem; but she shall be high and abide in her place[1447] from the Gate of Benjamin up to the place of the First Gate, up to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hanan’el as far as the King’s Winepresses. And they shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more Ban,[1448] and Jerusalem shall abide in security. And this shall be the stroke with which Jehovah will smite all the peoples who have warred against Jerusalem: He will make their flesh moulder while they still stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall moulder 488 in their sockets, and their tongue shall moulder in their mouth.

[And it shall come to pass in that day, there shall be a great confusion from Jehovah among them, and they shall grasp every man the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall be lifted against the hand of his neighbour.[1449] And even Judah shall fight against Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the nations round about shall be swept up, gold and silver and garments, in a very great mass. These two verses, 13 and 14, obviously disturb the connection, which ver. 15 as obviously resumes with ver. 12. They are, therefore, generally regarded as an intrusion.[1450] But why they have been inserted is not clear. ver. 14 is a curious echo of the strife between Judah and Jerusalem described in chap. xii. They may be not a mere intrusion, but simply out of their proper place: yet, if so, where this proper place lies in these oracles is impossible to determine.]

And even so shall be the plague upon the horses, mules, camels and asses, and all the beasts which are in those camps—just like this plague. And it shall come to pass that all that survive of all the nations who have come up against Jerusalem, shall come up from year to year to do obeisance to King Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And it shall come to pass that whosoever of all the races of the earth will not come up to Jerusalem to do obeisance to King Jehovah of Hosts, upon them there shall be no rain. And if the race of Egypt go not up nor come in, upon them also shall[1451] come the plague, with which Jehovah shall strike the nations that go not up to keep the Feast of Booths. Such shall be the 489 punishment[1452] of Egypt, and the punishment[1452] of all nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Booths.

The Feast of Booths was specially one of thanksgiving for the harvest; that is why the neglect of it is punished by the withholding of the rain which brings the harvest. But such a punishment for such a neglect shows how completely prophecy has become subject to the Law. One is tempted to think what Amos or Jeremiah or even “Malachi” would have thought of this. Verily all the writers of the prophetical books do not stand upon the same level of religion. The writer remembers that the curse of no rain cannot affect the Egyptians, the fertility of whose rainless land is secured by the annual floods of her river. So he has to insert a special verse for Egypt. She also will be plagued by Jehovah, yet he does not tell us in what fashion her plague will come.

The book closes with a little oracle of the most ceremonial description, connected not only in temper but even by subject with what has gone before. The very horses, which hitherto have been regarded as too foreign,[1453] or—as even in this group of oracles[1454]—as too warlike, to exist in Jerusalem, shall be consecrated to Jehovah. And so vast shall be the multitudes who throng from all the earth to the annual feasts and sacrifices at the Temple, that the pots of the latter shall be as large as the great altar-bowls,[1455] and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be consecrated for use in the ritual. This hallowing of the horses 490 raises the question, whether the passage can be from the same hand as wrote the prediction of the disappearance of all horses from Jerusalem.[1456]

In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto Jehovah. And the very pots in the House of Jehovah shall be as the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy to Jehovah of Hosts, and all who sacrifice shall come and take of them and cook in them. And there shall be no more any pedlar[1457] in the House of Jehovah of Hosts in that day.

« Prev CHAPTER XXXIII Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |