Christian Biblical Reflections.41

Minor Prophets: Hosea-Malachi.

                Selections to 12 Minor Prophets: Pool,

                1. Pool.

Annotations upon the Holy Bible; wherein the Sacred Text is Inserted, & Various Readings Annexed, together with the Parallel Scriptures; the More Difficult Terms in Each Verse are Explained, Seeming Contradictions Reconciled, Questions & Doubts Resolved, & the Whole Text Opened. vol. 2. O.T. Psalms-Malachi. Matthew Pool. Original, 1685. NY. RCB. 1853. gs

                HOSEA: Argument:    Without dispute our prophet is one of the obscurest and most difficult to unfold clearly and fully. Though he come not, as Isaiah and Amos do sometimes, nor as Ezekiel and Zechariah do frequently, with visions; yet his sententious and concise style, peculiar to himself, renders it many times difficult to find out first, and to declare next the genuine and undoubted sense of his words. In expounding this prophet, the expositor needs the candour of his reader, and the reader owes his expositor thanks if he make some darker passages fairly intelligible, though he do not demonstrate his exposition to be the only sense of the place. This latter is not pretended to; the former it is hoped the reader will find in the most, if not in every obscure passage. It was a very debauched age our prophet did live in, and you will find him very sharp against the vices of the ten tribes, and very plain and open in his threats for their sins, which he saw punished; for he lived to see Samaria taken, and Hoshea made a prisoner, and the people carried captives. As it is not agreed when he began, so nor is it agreed how long he continued to prophesy.

                The kings of Judah and of Israel, in whose time he first appeared a prophet, were of long reigns; the one forty-one (41), the other fifty-two (52); in which long space of time very different beginnings may be conjectured. All agree that he continued a prophet very long, seventy (70) years at least, and some add more years, and make them up ninety (90). The sum of what he prophesied is here given us in short heads, rather than in a continued discourse. And as it was preached in Israel, (though we read not of the places where Hosea either lived, or died, or did preach, it is most likely within the hearing of the court,) so it doth more particularly refer to Israel or the ten tribes: declaring to them what were their sins; advising them to repent; promising them mercy upon sincere repentance; threatening grievous judgments on their impenitence; foretelling their rejection if they did not amend; and, for the comfort of the godly, predicting mercy to them; intermixing many promises of the future kingdom and coming of the Messiah, to whom many should be converted, and by him be saved, and especially many of the two tribes, who hear from our prophet a more comfortable message (viz. of returning to their own land) than Israel, which must not expect any such return, i. e. for the whole body of the people. And he closeth his whole prophecy either with a form of confession and supplication for the remnant returned, or a prediction in what manner they would return, confess, supplicate, and rely upon God alone; to which duty performed, he adjoineth sweet and excellent promises, containing both temporal and spiritual blessings, chap. 14.

                JOEL: Argument: Since so many undeterminable points of less moment occur in our prophet, as of what tribe he was, whether his father were a prophet, whether he prophesied in Jeroboam’s or Hezekiah’s time, whether contemporary with Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah; whether he preached to the ten tribes, or to the two tribes, or to both ; whether the locusts are literal only, or typical and significative of enemies, or how many years they continued, what nations they did prefigure, when the execution began, when it ended; or when he began, or how long he continued to prophesy; –we may well rest ourselves contented in the undisputable things of greater moment, such as are, the Divine authority with which he came, attested by himself, chap. 1:1, and confirmed to us by the apostle, Acts 2:17; Rom. 10:13, and by Christ himself, Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25: all he spake is the word of God. The pernicious consequences of national sins, such as were visible on God’s own people at this very time in parching droughts, devouring locusts, and famine; the only method for removing these judgments, fasting, prayer, and amendment of our life; the successive sufferings of the church under the several monarchies till the coming of the Messiah, with the wonderful preservation of the good during those times; the just and final decisions God will make for his against their oppressors in those kingdoms, doing it by raising the succeeding empire to punish and overthrow the precedent; the conversion of the Jews, the calling of the Gentiles; the advancement of the kingdom of the Messiah and communications of gifts and graces to his church; the final and universal decision of all things that concern God and his church on the one side, and their enemies on the other; the general judgment of quick and dead, are the great subjects he doth in plainer or darker terms set before us. In unfolding of the whole, whoso excludes the letter and historical reference will fail on one hand, and whoso excludes the typical and mystical reference will err as much on the other hand. In a due and just application of both lieth the true mean, which hath been aimed at in this enterprise, and how far attained is submitted to the judgment of those that read the ensuing annotations.

                AMOS: Argument:  If we might be allowed to make a conjecture at the quality of our prophet’s sermons by the signification of his name, we must conclude that they contain heavy tidings and grievous judgments coming upon them to whom he is sent to preach; Amos in the Hebrew coming from a word which signifies to burden, to lay a weight or load on one. But we have a surer rule to judge the contents of his prophecy by. He is by some ancient writers, erring in this point, said to be the father of Isaiah; but besides that Isaiah was contemporary with Amos, which fairly argues it unlikely that Isaiah should be Amos’s son, Amoz the father of Isaiah is quite another name, different from Amos, both in letters wherewith each is spelt, and in signification also. And if Isaiah were of the royal line, (as some say he was,) nephew to either Amaziah or Uzziah by a brother, it cannot be conceived how Amos, a plain herdsman of Tekoa, should be his father. It is certain he was either by birth, or education, or employment, or in all these respects, of the tribe of Judah, and as certain that by an immediate call from God he was taken off the herdsman’s work and made a prophet, chap. 7:14,15. He did in deed, as he professed in word, come from the Lord, and in his name delivered his message to all those whom God sent him unto. And pursuant hereto he preacheth first against those nations who were borderers, and had been bitter, oppressive, and old adversaries to Israel and Judah, chap. 1:3, to the end, and chap. 2:1-3. By this express course, declaring future just executions upon Syria, Palestine, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, the prophet doth much prevent the prejudices which Israel and Judah might have had against his person and doctrine. Now he may more freely and plainly reprove and threaten the sins of God’s own people, since he hath so plainly reproved and threatened their enemies; and they who easily believed him a prophet in his predictions against foreigners, must in reason as easily believe him a prophet in his reproofs and predictions against themselves. He doth bestow the far greater part of his discourses on Israel, or the kingdom of the ten tribes, to whom he was principally sent; yet he doth prophesy against Judah also; and to both he is very sharp in his reproofs, impartial in his censures, earnest in his persuasions to repent, very full in his encouragements to this duty, and demonstratively evident in his charging sin upon them. He had Isaiah, Joel, and Hosea contemporary with him, though it appear not how long.

                He is in many places sententious and concise, which makes the passages the more obscure. Though he do bring with him many things from his country employment in his reproofs, allusions, and arguments, yet fitted with admirable skill, and beautified with an inimitable eloquence, and fortified with that loftiness of style that proclaims itself to be from Him who gave man both judgment, fancy, and tongue, which is an intrinsic character of divinity in our prophet’s writing. He was a person of most undaunted resolution, of a prudent conduct, and of spotless integrity, as appears by the contest he had with Amaziah chief of the priests of Beth-el, chap. 7:10, &c.

                He lived when Judah’s affairs were tolerably well and prosperous, but when Israel’s were in the highest meridian, when they thought themselves secure against all the dangers he foretold: Uzziah had pretty well recovered Judah, and settled it; Jeroboam had highly advanced Israel’s fame, riches, and power. With their growth in these, sin grew as fast and as exorbitant, and called for judgments, which our prophet foretells very plainly in express words, chap. vii. 7:11, 17. and in very significant hieroglyphics, chap. 7-9. He foretells the earthquake, chap. 1:1; an emblem of those civil dissensions which shook their foundations, and half ruined them before the Assyrian conquered and captivated them. Which miseries lasted through an interregnum of eleven (11) years, say some; to be sure through the reign of Zachariah. Shalium, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea, in whose time all these miseries were swallowed up in a greater, their perpetual captivity, which came upon them about fifty-four (54) or sixty-five (65) years after the death of Jeroboam the Second, near to whose court and within their hearing Amos preached many, perhaps most of his sermons; and therefore you may observe his reproofs, threats, and predictions seem to be calculated for that court, which was highly guilty of the sins he reproved, and were called to repent of them, which because they did not, they did deeply suffer both in the civil wars under those four usurpers and conspirators, Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea, and most deeply in the Assyrian captivity. In the annotations you will find there is some reference to those times, with somewhat more particular application of the prophetic text to the circumstances of times he aimed at, than hath been by any learned pen I have happened to peruse: and would the brevity to which these annotations are bound have borne a larger account of those times, and a fuller accommodation of them to the prophetic discourses, I do not doubt but the truth of the prophet’s charge, reproof, threats, and predictions against Israel would appear to every reader. Lastly, our prophet, as others, closeth the sad tragedy of this fleshly, sinning Israel with promise of a spiritual state under the Messiah, full of grace and peace.

                                OBADIAH: Argument:  This short prophecy will not need any long prefatory argument. He concealeth his nation, family, and place of his birth and abode, which he would not have done had it much concerned us to know, or would it have added anything material to the authority and efficacy of his word. Yet perhaps we should be thought too slight, if we did not tell you, that some thought him to be a proselyted Edomite, filled with the prophetic Spirit, that he might be sent to declare God’s judgments against Edom; but this suggestion will no more prove him an Idumean, than it will prove Jonah or Nahum to be proselyted Assyrians; or Isaiah, Amos, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel to be of so many different countries, because they prophesied against so many different nations. Some others will have him the same that was great with Ahab, but greater with God, hiding and feeding his prophets by fifty (50) in a cave. But this is too early for this prophet, as is noted in the annotations. And that he was captain of the band of fifty (50) whom, on his request, Elijah spared; or that he was one of those sent by Jehoshaphat, 2nd Chron. 17:7, to instruct the Jews, as is said by some; hath more against than can be said for it. But it is certain he was a prophet sent of God, and that his diligence and faithfulness answered his name, Obadiah, i.e. the servant of the Lord, whose message he delivered, though we are not certain when, in what king’s reign, or what prophets he was contemporary with: some guess he was contemporary with Jeremiah, and they think the 37th and 39th chapters, besides Lam. 4:21, afford arguments to prove it; but if they did not live in the same time, they preached the same things against Edom, which were in due time fulfilled, though we cannot precisely define the time. It is indisputable, that Edom’s cruelty, perfidiousness, pride, and rapine against Jacob were the principal causes of this Divine anger against Edom, and yet it admits some dispute when it was Edom did so barbarously lay wait for, cut off, or deliver up the fleeing Jews, whether when Shishak spoiled Jerusalem, or when Nebuchadnezzar sacked it and led the citizens captives. I rather think it had been a constant course observed by Edom to run in with all that invaded Judea, whether Philistines, Syrians, Assyrians, or Chaldeans, who were cruel enough, but yet Edom was more cruel; for this cause our prophet both threatens punishments upon them, and warns them of their approaching ruin. Some think the prophet warns Edom that they should not do what is here specified; I think he threatens because they had done it. In brief, the accommodating the particulars of this prophecy to their particular times and persons concerned, as it requires some good diligence and skill, so it will ever leave room for modesty towards those that it is likely will differ from us in accommodating them. Edom, type of all the church’s enemies, shall be destroyed, and Christ’s kingdom shall be set up; as Obadiah foretells, the church believeth, and so shouldst thou, reader.

                JONAH: Argument:  Our prophet owns himself by both his father’s name and by his country; of this latter no great doubt is raised, though it appear not whether he was born in Gath-hepher, or whether it was the place of his abode when he was called to go envoy to the great city Nineveh; of the former, some do inquire whether it be an assumed name, and carry in it the character of some grace or virtue which was eminently in the man, or whether it were the proper name of the person. Amittai, in the Hebrew, denotes truth, veracity, or faith, with the pronoun possessive of the first person, My truth. Though Jonah, a dove by name, denounce dreadful things against Nineveh, yet he doth it as God’s prophet, and God tells us by Jonah’s pen; he is the son of his truth. Whether Obadiah were his father, and had this significant name Amittai given him for his owning the truth of God, and his true prophets, in the times of Ahab’s apostacy; and whether his mother were that widow, whose son Elijah did raise from the dead; and whether he were the person sent by  Elijah to anoint Jehu, Elisha, and Hazael, as the Jewish writers affirm; is of no certain demonstrability, and if demonstrated would be of no great moment or use to us. It is clear that (though this be the only book left under his name) he was employed as a prophet in Israel before he was sent into Assyria; for, 2nd Kings 14:25, he prophesied the future prosperous successes of Jeroboam the Second, enlarging and establishing the borders of Israel; yet is it not certain to us, whether he appeared a prophet before Jeroboam’s time, or in the beginning of his reign. Not far from this time we are sure we may date his time, and range him among the first of the prophets who have left their entire volumes behind them. By this also we may guess who was the king of Assyria, who gave such a rare example of repentance to all succeeding monarchs: it admits a dispute, whether it was Sardanapalus or Belesus, otherwise Pul-belochus, and Pul in Scripture history; if the time do not best suit to the latter (as I think it may) rather than to the former, yet I am sure the unparalleled retiredness of Sardanapalus, reported in history, seems to me a reason why it must be some monarch that, more like a gallant man, lived more free, open, and of easy access, that the news might, as it is suggested it did, come to his hearing in the first day: such temper, it is like, Pul-belochus was of. Whoever was the king, Jonah little expected the success he did find; he thought so great a king and city would not mind him, or else would deride  or punish him; or else if they believed him, then they would repent, God would spare them, and Jonah would be cried out on as a false prophet; on this he declines the embassy, and till God taught him his duty in little case he will not do it. When a miracle hath set him on his work, and succeeds it, he grows passionate, and will die; God spares and Pardons him as well as Nineveh, (which yet falls to sin, and falls under the ruin foretold by Nahum,) and so leaves him a type of Christ’s burial and resurrection, and an instance how far a good man may sometimes be from his duty, and that great passions may be in a prophet.

                MICAH: Argument: It is by custom become necessary, in writing the arguments on the several prophets, to tell of what country the prophet was; and where the Holy Ghost observes it we may not slight it. Our prophet was, no doubt, of the tribe of Judah, but of what note his family was for riches, authority, or credit appears not to us; these might be eminent for any thing I know, but not mentioned, because his call to, his abilities for, and his discharge of the prophetic office, needed no credentials or countenance from any such external advantages. It is unquestionable he came from God; and his whole prophecy is of Divine authority; Jeremiah gave testimony to it, and cites some considerable authority from the opinion of certain elders of that time who held him to be a prophet sent of God, Jer.  26:17-19. He was not, as some were, confined to one kingdom, but had his commission enlarged to preach to the kingdom of Israel and Judah, which were now grown old in sin, and universally corrupted with idolatry and impiety, with inhumanity and cruel oppression, with falsehood and deceits, ingratitude to God and forgetfulness of him, vain confidences in the lying promises of false prophets and in their ceremonial services; all which Micah doth (as faithful in his office) openly, severely, and impartially discover, reprove, and threaten in princes, prophets, and all the people of both kingdoms; which are so closely joined by the prophet, that it requires a very steady and quick eye to discern which of the two is most directly concerned in the prophet’s discourse, or whether both are equally intended, yet so as in order of time Israel first, and Judah next. His phrase, and connexions, and transitions are many times obscure, and fairly capable of different accounts, as everyone will see, who can and will read the Hebrew text, and the paraphrases or commentaries of men learned in that kind of learning. The prophet’s style is very lofty, as is his contemporary Isaiah, many times, and I little doubt they were quainted and conversed with each other: his discourses have a very particular respect to the temper of those times he lived in, and will be clearest understood by those that do distinctly read over and digest the history of Israel and Judah, as they are reported in 1st Kings and 2nd Kings, from the first apostacy of Israel from God and their revolt from the house of David. But more especially the stories of Judah, through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; and of Israel, through the times of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea; in which most of the sins here reproved and threatened did reign, and which were, whilst Micah lived, punished according to his word with sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity: he lived to see Israel made a desolation and a hissing, and survived this dead kingdom about ten (10) years. Judah’s calamity followed surely, and not slowly, for within one hundred and thirty (130) or one hundred and thirty-three (133) years Jerusalem was ruined and the Jews carried captives to Babylon. Many passages of our prophet have both their literal and historical reference, and their spiritual and mystical: in this latter I have been sparing, because the design of the present work was to give the plain literal sense, yet I have seldom (if ever) omitted to point out the mystery. If anyone see more into this, and be larger in it than the author, let such one know, the author had his reasons why he said so little, though he saw more, of the mystical reference of the words to the Messiah, his birth, his kingdom, the redemption of the elect, the calling of the Gentiles, and other evangelical truths contained in our prophet, who did certainly preach the gospel as well as the law to his hearers.

                NAHUM: Argument: The prophet Nahum is one of those prophets whose family and country are concealed, and it would be more labour than profit to spend time on the inquiry after the one or other. He is styled the Elkoshite, and possibly born and bred in Elkosh, a town of Galilee, an obscure place, of which perhaps we had heard no more, had it not been written that this man was born there, to allude to that of the psalmist, Psal. 87:5. The time of his appearing in public to discharge his prophetic office is much more material, being a key to the whole prophecy. Now it is certain that Nahum was a prophet in office whilst the kingdom of Assyria was not only standing, but whilst it was standing in its glory and entire strength, whilst it was dangerous and terrible to its neighbours. It is to me evident that Nahum prophesied before the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, for he foretelleth the death of Sennacherib, chap.  1:14. It is certain also he appeared after Hoshea and the ten tribes were carried captives by Shalmaneser. This was either in A.M. 3229, as Helvicus, or 3283, as Archbishop Usher and Doctor Lightfoot, in the ninth (9th) year of Hoshea, which was the sixth (6th) of Hezekiah, 2nd Kings 18:10, and some few years before the death of Shalmaneser, whose son Sennacherib succeeded, and invaded Egypt and Judah in the fourteenth (14th) year of Hezekiah, eight (8) years after Samaria was taken and the ten tribes were captivated; within which time, and probably toward the fifth (5th) of those eight (8), Nahum is sent a prophet to quiet, support, and encourage Hezekiah and his subjects against all the threats and power of the Assyrian tyrant, who threatened to destroy Judah and Jerusalem, from accomplishing whereof the tyrant shall be so far that God will turn it to his ruin; and here, as a very fit season, the prophet declareth the final and utter ruin of the Assyrian empire and its capital city Nineveh, as a just revenge for all their oppressions of their neighbours, but especially in revenge of their reiterated violence against Israel and Judah: on account of which good tidings the prophet hath his name Nachum, which in the Hebrew is from a word signifying to comfort; and also to repent; indeed repentance is preparatory to comfort; and though his preaching against Nineveh be the comfort of Jerusalem, no doubt he called Jerusalem to repent, which is probably collected from chap. 1:15, O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy rows. This whole prophecy, except the 15th verse of this chapter, is directed against Nineveh, head city of the Assyrian kingdom, and against the whole kingdom; which, with all sorts of men and women in it, are threatened with very sore and heavy judgments, with final desolation, or captivity, for their sins; all which was fulfilled by the Lord, using the Babylonian and Median power to overthrow this power of Assyria, and particularly by the joint forces of Nabopollassar and Astyages, as is by the most learned Archbishop Usher observed, in A.M. 3378. Yet others tell us the final ruin of the Assyrian kingdom, foretold by Nahum, came much sooner, and that in the death of Esarhaddon, or Assaradinus, the Assyrian monarchs did expire. But though I determine not the number of years during which this threatened monarchy did stand, yet, be they fewer or more, Nahum’s prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Nineveh and the subversion of the Assyrian monarchy, and the Jews were no more infested by the Assyrian though they were by the Babylonish kingdom. The things then spoken of by Nahum do in the letter and historical part of them concern the times between the twelfth (12th) or fourteenth (14th) of Hezekiah and the end of the Assyrian monarchy. And a skilful observer of the histories of those times would be best able to interpret this prophet, nor shall any do it tolerably well without recourse to those histories, which, though not cited here at large, (which brief annotations admit not,) yet have not been quite neglected; and what errors in apply: ing the histories and computation of times are here committed, all will candidly excuse who know the obscurity and uncertainty of those times.

                HABAKKUK: Argument: The prophecy of Habakkuk seems to be an exact stating of that perplexed case, touching the seeming unequalness of the proceedings of God in the government of the world, in which the good suffer evil, and the evil rejoice in prosperity; the more righteous are afflicted, and the more unrighteous prosper; nay, the worst domineer over the best, among men. This case baffled the wise among philosophers, and it much troubled David and Jeremiah, Psal. 73:2,3, &c.; Jer. 12:1,2; and hath ever been matter of some wonder to the best and wisest of men, as here it was to Habakkuk, who lived in the times of great impieties against God, and of great injustice amongst men. It is most probable he lived and prophesied in the days of Manasseh, when the wicked devoured the man that was more righteous than himself; and this is the subject of his complaint, chap. 1:1-4. Those grievous sins which then abounded, he declareth shall be punished by the Chaldeans, at which he again wondereth: it grieveth him to see, in Judah, the best afflicted by the worst; and it is as much grief to him to foresee the wicked nation of the Chaldeans prosper in the ruins of a more righteous nation, (from the 5th to the 11th verse of the first chapter.) which God commandeth him to foretell. On this he proposeth the case expressly, from verse 12 to the end of the chapter, and which God resolveth for him in the second chapter, where the sins of Judah and the sins of the Chaldeans are enumerated, and at once both are threatened with punishment; when the Chaldeans have punished Judah’s sins, the Medes and Persians shall punish the same sins in the Chaldeans. In all which the unspotted righteousness and the admirable wisdom of God is seen, in the government of his church, chastised for her sins against God; and in his government of the world, sinning highly against God, and with greater wickedness acting the same or worse things than those for which by their means God had before punished his church. In fine, the prophet, with steady faith and fervent prayer, addresseth to God, and in most elegant manner recounting God’s mercy and faithfulness to his people, chap. 3, leaves it both a foundation to our hope and pattern for our practice. He doth resolve, as we should, to wait for, rejoice in, and submit to the Lord, in greatest distresses and darkness of providence. An excellent subject for our meditations at this day, as well as in the days of our prophet, whose name seems to imply his wrestlings with these difficulties, or his laying hold, embracing of God; our safest course in such circumstances being to adhere to God. We can but guess at the time of his prophesying, and that we think is

rather in the time of Manasseh, than of Hezekiah, or Josiah, though possibly he might live and be a prophet in the first part of Josiah’s reign. What tribe or what family he was of we pretend not to tell you, since we cannot pretend to know; but we are sure he was not the pretended messenger that carried a mess of broth out of Judea into Babylon, for Daniel’s dinner; and we think it a wonder any thinking man should now believe it, as it would at that day have been, if really done.

                ZEPHANIAH: Argument: This prophet, by a somewhat larger account of his pedigree, gives us ground to guess of what family he might be; the last named may possibly be the good king Hezekiah; the names are the same in chap. 1:1, and 2nd Kings 18:1. By his freedom with princes and the king’s children, reproving them and threatening them, chap. 1:8, with the loftiness of his style, may fairly be admitted a conjecture at somewhat more than ordinary in his descent: but whether of royal blood or not, he came with a Divine warrant, and with a prophetic spirit, sharply reproving all ranks of men for their sins; of which in particular idolatry, apostacy, and neglect to inquire for the true religion and the true God, and the sinful fashions of great ones in their habits, and the violent oppression of the great ones, are named, chap. 1:5,6, 8,9; which sins, and many others which then abounded amongst them, are threatened with severe punishments, and with utter desolation, which had already befallen some of the neighbouring nations named; and proposed as examples to the Jews, to move them to consider, repent, amend, and prevent the threatened judgments, which, unless they repent, will come suddenly. The prophet therefore affectionately exhorteth and presseth them to repentance, chap. 2, by examples of those he mentioneth, whose impenitence, added to their sins, ruined them. By promises, and encouragements to expect

mercy upon their hearkening to his counsel, he foretells the coming of the Messiah, the calling of the Gentiles, the preserving of a remnant of them amidst all the troubles and wasting judgments that should follow them, and a return out of captivity, with the re-establishing them as the church and people of God; which promise closeth his prophecy, and for which he calls on them to be thankful to and rejoice in their God, who in the midst of their sins, and his wrath for those sins, yet remembered his own mercies and covenant for them.

                HAGGAI: Argument: HAGGA1 is the first prophet that appears in the name of the Lord of hosts, to awaken, reprove, direct, exhort, and encourage both the governor, high priest, and people, returned out of captivity, to the restoring and settling the worship of God, to the rebuilding the temple, whose foundations, together with the altar of burnt-offering, had been laid seventeen or eighteen years ago; but the finishing of the temple prohibited by Cambyses all the time of his being viceroy to his father Cyrus, and during his own reign; and neglected near two years in Darius Hystaspes’s time, through the covetousness of many, the coldness of some, and the cowardice of others among the Jews, who were all bent on their own private concerns, and pleaded it was not time to set about the building of God’s temple, and who in all probability would have deferred it much longer had they been let alone : now therefore the Lord doth, in zeal for his own glory, and in mercy to his people, send his servant Haggai to awaken them to their duty, which was this, the building the temple, and restoring the pure worship of God. He reproves them for neglecting this; tells them this sin was the cause the penury and scarcity which afflicted them these fifteen or sixteen years past; assures them that, so soon as ever they begin the work, their ground, their cattle, their vines and olives, should wonderfully increase their store; promiseth God’s presence with them, and with it a supply of gold and silver, which are his, and he will, as he did by the bounty of Darius and the contributions of others, bring in to them; and though the external glory of this temple were less than that of the first temple, yet this second temple should exceed the first in glory for so much as their expected, longed-for, and the blessed Messiah should appear in it. All which, as they were weighty arguments in themselves considered, so, through the co-operation of the Spirit of God, they prevailed with his hearers, who set about the work; and when opposed by their enemies, who sent to Darius to solicit him to renew the prohibition, he on the contrary confirms and enlargeth their charter granted by the grand Cyrus, and annexeth severe penalties on all that dare hinder this work; all which particularly, and at large, are set down in the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra. And so in four years’ time the temple is finished, the feast of dedication is celebrated, and the final issue answers to the name of the prophet who, sent of God, set it forwards, Haggai, who hath his name from the word that signifieth a feast, as if we should call him Festivus. He closeth all with a close prediction of many and long wars and seditions to come among the Gentiles, to the overthrow of the enemies of the Jews.

                ZECHARIAH: Argument:  Zechariah is the second prophet who cometh from God to the returned captives, and his errand to them was both to second Haggai’s exhortations, and to reveal more fully than he doth all the future revolutions and events, to the final desolation of Jerusalem and the second temple by the Romans, and the rejection of the Jews for their sins against all the mercies of their God, and for their rejecting and murdering of the Messiah; who, rejected of the Jews, taketh in the Gentiles, and establisheth his church amongst them; which is revealed unto Zechariah, and communicated to the Jews by him; with a declaration of the future ruin of the Persian kingdom by the Grecians, and also of the wars of the Seleucidae and Lagidae, and their overthrow by the Romans; during the series of which times, the Jews shall be grown numerous, wealthy, and powerful, and, so long as they keep their covenant with God, shall do wonderful things, and be eminently owned of God, and be either wonderfully secured amidst these troubles, or more wonderfully victorious over those that trouble them. And indeed what Zechariah foretold, or promised to them, was in its time made good amongst them; his predictions were punctually fulfilled; if the promises were not, it was because the Jews by their sins cut themselves off from the promises, which may be observed in those intervals of times between Zechariah’s prophesying and the coming of the Messiah. Now the first interval was above two hundred years, to the death of Alexander the Great; during which time the Jews enjoyed the common peace with the subjects of the Persian empire, and the particular favour of Alexander the conqueror during his life. These years were years of growth to the Jews. The next interval, through the wars of Alexander’s divided captains, and between the Seleucidae and the Lagidae, was an interval of some great troubles, and yet of greater preservation to the Jews. The next interval is that of the Maccabees, during which those victories were gotten which do almost exceed our belief. But whilst thus times were changed, the Jews continued much the same, unthankful to God, cold in religion, and added to their sins daily; till at last God delivered them into the hands of the Romans, whose general, Pompey the Great, deposed Hyrcanus from the throne, and restored the high priesthood to him. From henceforth the Jews’ sins and miseries grow together, till that was accomplished, chap. 14:2, the city Jerusalem taken, the houses rifled, &c. Thus by various intermixture of providences, God did try the Jews, whether they would, as became his people, repent of former sins, amend their future doings, believe his promises, and obey his precepts, that he might bless them ; so should all the good foretold by this prophet have crowned them. But if they failed (as they did) in those points of duty, then all the evil threatened should (as it did) overtake them, and, as Zechariah foretold, continue on them, as it doth to this day. This prophecy then contains the revolutions of the  Jews, and the empires of Persia and Greece, and the Romans; in whose times the Jews, by killing the Lord of life, filled up their measure, and by whose hands God punished them, destroying their polity, razing their city, burning their temple, and captivating the people, which lasteth to this day.       The better to represent all these at once to your view, take this following Scheme.

                Zechariah doth:

1. Exhort to Present Repentance & Reformation, (chap. 1, 2, 7, 8).

2. Promise { I. Present Blessings, (chap. 1, 2; 8:9-15).  { II. Future Mercy, & { a. Under Persian Government, (chap. 8:3-7).  b. Alexander & Grecians, (chap. 9:8).  c. In Maccabees’ Times, (chap. 9:12-15; 12:6).

3. Encourage  { I. Joshua, (chap. 3).    II.  Zerubbabel, (chap. 4).

4. Threaten  { I. Enemies of Jews, (chap. 1:21; 2:9; 9:1-8.; 12:1-4, 9).    II.  Sinful & Impenitent Jews, (chap. 4; 11:1; 14:1,2).

5. Foretell  { I. Messiah’s Coming, chap. 3:8-10; 6; viii. 19–21; ix. 9, 10; xiii. 7.    Jews’ Rejecting Him, chap. 11:10-12, &c.).   III. God’s: Avenging this Sin on Jews, chap. 14:1,2.   Calling in Gentiles, (chap. 8:20-23; 12:10; 3:8,9; 6:12,13, &c.).   Continued Protection of Church of Christ among Gentiles, (chap. 14:3), to the End.

                All which, either in dark, yet significant, types or emblems, or else in plain and easily intelligible words, is represented to us by this prophet.

                MALACHI: Argument: Concerning this prophet, some have thought (but without good and sufficient ground) that he was an angel in the form of a man; others think him to be Ezra; but as it is the plainer, so the surer, opinion that he was a prophet of that name, and a man distinct from Ezra, and sent the last of all the prophets. His time of appearing among the Jews cannot be determined precisely, but it is best guessed to have been about the times of Nehemiah’s reforming the strange marriages, Neh. 13:23, 28, with Mal. 2:11, and when he reformed the sacrilegious detaining of tithes, Neh. 13:10,11, with Mal. 3:8, as Doctor Lightfoot observeth. Now this reformation of Nehemiah was about A.M. 3519, as Doctor Lightfoot, or 3545, as Helvicus, or 3589, as Archbishop Usher’s Annals. Whatever was his time of appearing, it is certain he lived in a very vicious age, in which priests as well as people were leavened with either perverse thoughts of the Divine Providence, or brutish atheism, denying the Deity and Providence, contemptuous thoughts of the worship of God, sacrilegious practices, robbing God of tithes and offerings, shameless justifying these their practices, boundless or monstrous unfaithfulness to their wives, casting off Jewish to marry Gentile wives, or else superinducing the Gentile women, and enslaving the Jewish to them; casting off the law of God, or, which is equally bad, if not worse, wresting it to their own sinful sentiments. All which he doth severely reprove, and requires them to reform, and foretells the day of the Messiah’s coming to sit as a refiner and purifier; whose appearing such sinners and sins would not be able to bear; and tells them of his forerunner, who in the spirit and power of Elias should come, and prepare a people for the Messiah: till then, (as their duty was,) he commands them in the name and by authority from God, that they remember the law of Moses, which God commanded in Horeb; hereby intimating some great change in the law at the coming of the Messiah; and intimating also, that they should expect no more prophet till the Great Prophet himself should come unto them.

                2. Lowth.

A Commentary upon the Larger & Lesser Prophets: being a Continuation of Bishop Simon Patrick, (successively Bishop of Chichester & of Ely.). Isaiah-Malachi. William Lowth, Prebendary of Winchester. Simon Patrick (successively Bishop of Chichester and of Ely). 4th Ed. London. 1739.gs

                HOSEA: General Preface to the Minor Prophets: The twelve Minor Prophets were always comprised in one Book, called the Book of the Prophets, by St. Stephen, Acts 7:42 and the Book of the twelve (12) Prophets, by St. Cyprian, Epist. 59. The Son of Syrach speaks of them under one and the same Character, Ecclus. 49:12. Let the Bones of the twelve (12) Prophets flourish out of their Place. And both Jewish and Christian Writers, particularly Josephus, lib. i. contr. Appion, and St. Jerome. Prolog. Galeat. when they mention the Canonical Books of the Old Testament to be in number 22 (a Number equal to the Letters of the Jewish Alphabet) comprehended the twelve (12) Minor Prophets under one Book.

                These twelve (12) Prophets are not placed exactly in the Order of Time when they lived, either in the Hebrew, or Greek Copies: For Jonah, who was the eldest of them, is placed the 6th in Order both in the Hebrew and Greek Bibles; there being in other Respects some little difference between them; the Series of them standing thus in the Greek: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonas; but no Variation as to the rest.

                Hosea, who is placed the first in Order, is as ancient as any of them, except Jonah; having prophesied before the Captivity of the Ten Tribes, to whom he chiefly directs his Prophecy, and threatens them with a sudden Destruction for their great and crying Sins, which be, in all probability, lived to see brought upon them.

                Hosea: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: Under the Figure of a Wife living in Whoredom, and bearing illegitimate Children, is represented the great Idolatry of the Ten Tribes, which provoked God to cast them off utterly; yet with the Promise of repairing that Loss, by bringing in the Gentiles into the Church: and afterwards of uniting Israel and Judah under one Head, the Messias. The Prophet does likewise foretel the Extinction of Jehu’s Family.

                2: The Prophet reproves the Ten Tribes for their Ingratitude to God their great Benefactor, and giving the Glory of all the good Things they postfeffed to their Idols; for which he threatens them with severe judgments, yet gives them fome Hopes of obtaining Mercy and Reconciliation.

                3: Under the Figure of the Prophet’s receiving bis adulterous Wife home again, and her continuing there in a State of Widowhood, yet with hopes of Reconciliation, is signified, that Israel (the Ten Tribes especially ) shall be for several Ages without any external Form of Civil Government, or Publick Worship; yet with a Promise of being restored to their ancient Dignity and Privileges in the later Ages of the World.

                4: The Prophet denounces Judgments against the Sins both of the People and Priests of the Ten Tribes: And exhorts Judah to take warning by Israel’s Calamity.

                5. This Chapter, and the next, to the 4th Verse, threatens Judgments both against Israel and Judah for their manifold Sins, till they repent: upon which they may conceive hopes of Pardon.

                6: The three first Verses of this Chapter should have been joined to the 5th, as was observed in the Argument of that Chapter: In the following Verses God complains of their Incorrigibleness, and threatens his judgments as a just Consequent of their Sins.

                7: The Prophet reproves the Sins of the Princes and great Men of Israel, and denounces Judgments against the People in general for their Hypocrisy.

                8: God’s Judgments are denounced both against Judah and Israel, for their Idolatries and other Impieties.

                9: The Captivity of the Ten Tribes is foretold as a Judgment for their manifold Sins.

                10: The Prophet continues to threaten Destruction to the Ten Tribes and their Idols, but withal exhorts them to Repentance and Reformation.

                11: A Continuation of Threatenings against Israel, but yet with Promises of shewing them Mercy.

                12: The Prophet reproves both Israel and Judah for their Impieties, and puts them in mind of God’s Favours to their Father Jacob, for which they made most ungrateful Returns.

                13: A Continuation of God’s Threatenings for their Sins; to which are added gracious Promises of Deliverance from Death, to be fulfilled under the Gospel.

                14: The Prophecy concludes with an earnest Exhortation to Repentance, and God’s gracious Promises of Pardon and Blessing upon it.

                JOEL: Preface: If it were certain that the Minor Prophets were placed in the Order of Time wherein, they lived, we might conclude that Joel prophesied before Amos, who was Contemporary with Uzziah King of Judah. Archbishop Usher, in his Annals, ad A.M. 3197, makes the same Inference, because Joel foretells that Drought, chap. 1  which Amos mentions as actually come to pass, chap. 4:7,8,9. But to that Argument it may be answered, that the Drought there spoken of might probably be peculiar to the Kingdom of Israel. And as to the Precedence which the present Hebrew Copies give to Joel, the LXX place him the Fourth (4th) in Order, and put Amos and Micah before him.

                If we consider the main Design of his Prophecy, we shall be apt to conclude, that it was uttered after the Captivity of the Ten Tribes; for he directs his Discourse only to Judah, and speaks distinctly of the Sacrifices and Oblations that were daily made in the Temple. Israel is indeed mentioned, chap. 3:2, but it is in relation to future Times, not to their present Condition at the Time when Joel prophesied.

                Joel: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: A Description of a terrible Famine that is coming on the Land, occasioned by a long Drought, and the Locusts, and other noxious Kermin which that produced: With an Exhortation to proclaim a Fast to be observed by the People, that they may humble themselves under the Hand of God, and avert his Judgments.

                2: The Prophet describes the Locusts, and other noxious Insects, which were the Cause of the Famine mentioned Chap. 1 as if they were a mighty Army, sent by God to destroy the Fruits of the Earth; and continues to exhort the People to Repentance, promising the Removal of these Calamities, and a Return of God’s Blessings, upon their Reformation.

                3: The following Prophecy relates to the latter Times of the World, when, upon their Conversion, God shall deliver the Jews from their Oppressors, and restore them to their own Land. The Prophet likewise foretells the Destruction of their Enemies, and other Unbelievers, in some decisive Battel, such as that mentioned, Rev. 16:14. and the glorious State of the Church that should follow.

                AMOS: Preface: Amos was Contemporary with Hosea, tho’ he did not probably live so long, but died before the Reign of Hezekiah, and the Captivity of the Ten Tribes. St. Jerome gives him this Character, that though he was rude in Speech, yet not in Knowledge. Several of his Expressions are taken from such Observations as are suitable to the Employment of a Shepherd: As, when he compares God’s Anger to the Roaring of a Lion, chap. 1:2, 3:8 and the Gigantic Stature of the Amorites to the Height of Oaks and Cedars, chap. ii. 9. See also chap. 5:8. But still there are many beautiful Passages, in this Prophecy, where the Expressions are very Elegant, and the Pathos or Rhetoric very  moving: such as are chap. 2:9,10,11;  4:6, &c. 5:6-9;  6:1-7; 8:8-10; 9:2-6.

                Amos: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: In this, and the Beginning of the 2nd Chapter, the Prophet denounces God’s Judgments against the Countries bordering upon Judea; and then prophesies again Judea itself.

                2: After two short Denunciations against Moab and Judah, the Prophet proceeds to the main Subject of his Prophecy, viz. to denounce God’s Judgments against Israel.

                3: This Chapter contains a Threatening of God’s Judgments, first against the Twelve (12) Tribes in general, and then particularly against the Kingdom of Israel, whose Capital City was Samaria.

                4: The Prophet reproveth the Ten (10) Tribes for Luxury and Oppression, for Idolatry and Impenitency, notwithstanding the severe Judgments already inflicted upon them.

                5: Apathetical Lamentation for the Sins of Israel, which upon their Impenitency, the Prophet foresaw would end in their Destruction: where upon be earnestly exhorts them to a sincere Repentance and Reformation, without which all their outward Exercises of Religion would avail nothing.

                6: A Reproof of those who indulge their Ease and Pleasures without a Kingdom of Israel, having any Sense of God’s afflicting Hand; which threatens Ruin and Desolation to the whole for their Pride and Incorrigibleness.

                7: By three several Visions God represents to Amos the Judgments He is bringing upon Israel, which are mitigated by the Intercession of the Prophet, who being accused of Sedition by Amaziah the Priest of Bethel, to King Jeroboam, he denounces judgment against Amaziah and his Family.

                8: The Prophet by a 4th Vision gives Notice of the Certainty and Nearness of the Destruction of the Ten Tribes: He reproves them for Oppression, and foretells that the Sun shall be darkened by an Eclipse upon their solemn Festivals, which shall turn their present Joy into Mourning; and shall be esteemed a Prognostication of more dismal Calamities to come; amongst which a Famine of God’s Word here threatened, may be esteemed the greatest.

                9: The Prophet seeth a 5th Vision, representing the final Destruction of the Kingdom of Israel; but be concludes his Prophecy with Promises of restoring the Kingdom of David, and the Jewish Nation, under the Messias, when the Church shall be enlarged by the Gentiles coming into.

OBADIAH: Preface:  Grotius, Huetius in his Demonstratio Evangelica, and Dr. Lightfoot in his Harmony of the Old Testament, are of Opinion that Obadiah was Cotemporary with the elder Prophets, Hosea, Joel and Amos: The Reason they chiefly alledge is, that the Compilers of the Old Testament Canon, had a Regard to the Order of Time, in their placing the Minor Prophets. But this Reason seems to be of little Force, since we find that Jonah is placed the 5th in Order, nay the 6th in the Greek Copies, who was confessedly antienter than any of those that are placed before him.

                The more probable Opinion is, That Obadiah prophesied about the Time of the taking of Jerusalem: And thereupon, in foretelling the Destruction of Edom, he uses several Expressions which Jeremiah had done before him, speaking upon that Subject, Comp. Obad. ver. 1:8, with Jer. xlix. 49:9, 14,15,16. Ezekiel agrees with Jeremiah and Obadiah, in assigning the same Reason for the Judgments threatened against the Edomites, viz. their Insulting over the Jews in the Time of their Distress. See Ezek. 25:12; 35:5, &c.

                Archbishop Usher in his Annals, ad A.M. 3419. supposes this Prophecy to have been fulfilled about 5 Years after the Taking of Jerusalem.

                Obadiah: Chapter: Argument: The Prophet, after having denounced utter Destruction upon Edom, for their unnatural Enmity against the Jews, foretells the Restoration, and flourishing State in the latter Times.

                JONAH: Preface: Jonah was the ancientest of all the Prophets whose Writings are preserved in Scripture Canon. Bishop Lloyd, in his Chronological Tables, supposes him to have prophesied in the latter End of Jehu’s, or the Beginning of Jehoahaz’s Reign; at which Time the Kingdom of Israel was brought very low by the Oppressions of Hazael, King of Syria: 2nd Kings 13:22. This might be a proper Reason for Jonah to foretel the Success; which Jehoahaz’s Grandson, Jeroboam, should have in restoring the coasts of Israel: Ibid. Chap. 14:25. He was of Gath-hepher, a Town in the Tribe of Zebulon, Josh. 19:13. not far from Sephorim, or Dio-cæsarea, as St. Jerom informs us in his Commentary upon Jonah: who adds, that Jonah’s Sepulchre was shewed there in his Time. This Town was situate in Galilee, and so confutes that Observation of the Pharisees, that out of Galilee there did arise no Prophet, John 7:52. He was sent to Nineveh, to denounce Destruction to that City, within 40 Days Time, if they repented not. But they complying with the Summons of the Prophet, God feared the executing his Judgments, till the Increase of their Iniquities made them ripe for Destruction, about 150 Years afterwards; as we shall see more particularly, Nahum when we come to explain the Prophecy of Nahum.

                Jonah: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: Jonah, being sent by God to Nineveh, fleeth to Tarshish, meets with a Tempest, is thrown into the Sea, and swallowed by a Fish.

                2: Prayer of Jonah, when he was in the Fish’s Belly; and his Deliverance from thence.

                3: Jonah is sent again to the Ninevites, and preacheth to them with good Success.

                4: Jonah repining at God’s Mercy in sparing the Ninevites, is reproved by the Type and Figure of the Gourd.

                MICAH: Preface: The Prophet Micah was probably of Judah because he reckons the Time of his Prophesying by the Reigns of the Kings of Judah. He is called the Morasthite here, and Jer. 26:18 from the Place of his Nativity, Morasthi, which St. Jerome distinguishes from Mareshah, mentioned chap. 1:15 though he places them both in the Tribe of Judah. Lib. de Locis Hebr.

                Micah: Chapters: Argument:

                1:The Prophet begins with an awful Description of God’s Coming to execute His Judgments, first upon Samaria, and then upon Jerusalem.

                2: The Chapter begins with a Reproof for the Sins of Oppression, and Contempt of God’s Word, but concludes with the Promise of a Restoration. Some learned Men think that the Reproofs of this Chapter relate to the Times of King Ahaz.

                3: Both the Princes and Prophets of Judah are reproved for their Sins, and the Destruction of Jerusalem is foretold, as a Punishment for these Enormities.

                4: The Prophet foretells the Proclamation of the Gospel, and the Increase of Christ’s Kingdom in the latter Ages of the World: And exhorts God’s People not to be discouraged at the Apprehension of their approaching Captivity, because the Church should in due Time surmount all Difficulties, and break in Pieces all the Kingdoms of the Earth; as Daniel afterwards prophesied, chap. 2:35, 44.

                5: The Prophet, that he may comfort the Jews under the Calamities foretold in the last Chapter, foretells the Birth of Christ, whose Kingdom should at last become victorious over all its Enemies.

                6: This Chapter relates to the Prophet’s own Time: Wherein he first upbraids the People for their Ingratitude toward God; then he instructs them in the true Way of performing acceptable Service to Him. Lastly, be reproves them for their Injustice and Idolatry; and tells them, that these Sins are the Causes of their being unsuccessful in all their Undertakings.

                7: The Prophet, speaking in the Person of the Church, laments the Decay of Piety, and Growth of Wickedness: Possessing her Soul in Patience by Faith, she foresees her future Restoration in the latter Times; a Subject with which most of the minor Prophets conclude their Prophecies.

                NAHUM: Preface: The Destruction of Nineveh here prophesied of, is recorded in the Book of Tobit, chap. 15. It is said there to be taken by Nebuchodonoser, and Assuerus; which Account Archbishop Usher in his Annals, A. M. 3378. Dr. Prideaux, Script. Connect. p. 47, 48, and other learned Men, understand of Nabupolasar, Father to Nebuchadnezzar (called in the Greek Translation Nebuchodonoser) and Cyaxares, King of Media, called by Daniel, Ahasuerus, Dan.  9:1. This remarkable Transaction is placed by Dr. Prideaux in the 29th Year of King Josiah, about 24 Years before the Destruction of Jerusalem; and the fixing it to this Time exactly agrees with the Account given by the Heathen Historians, Herodotus, and others; as St. Jerome has observed in his Preface upon Jonah. The Ninevites would not take Warning by Jonah’s Prophecy; so not only Nahum, who probably lived in the Reign of Hezekiah, but also Zephaniah, who lived in the Time of Josiah, foretold the Destruction of Nineveh, chap. 2:13.

                Nahum: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: The Burden of Nineveh is the Title of this Prophecy, being the chief Subject of it: Though this Chapter is in the Nature of a Preface to the succeeding Prophecy; setting forth God’s Goodness to His People, and His Severity towards His Enemies. Concerning the Sense of the Word Burden, see the Note upon Jer. 23:33.

                2: This and the following Chapter contain a Description of the Taking of Nineveh by the Babylonians and Medes: See the Note upon chap. 1:1.

                3: See the Argument of the foregoing Chapter.

                HABAKKUK: Preface: The Prophet Habakkuk was probably Contemporary with Jeremiah, and prophesied in the Reign of Josiah; for the Subject of his Prophecy is the same with that of Jeremiah, and upon the same Occasion, viz. The Destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, for their heinous Sins and Provocations. We may observe, as Nahum, the preceding Prophet, foretold the Destruction of the Assyrians, who carried the Ten (10) Tribes captive; so Habakkuk foretells the judgments that shall come upon the Chaldeans, who completed the Captivity of the two remaining Tribes.

                Habakkuk: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: The Prophet complaining of the Growth of Iniquity among the Jews, God foreshows him the Desolations the Chaldeans will make in Judea, and the neighbouring Countries, as the Ministers of his Vengeance. The Prophet thereupon falls into a holy Expostulation with God about these Proceedings, moved thereunto, as it seems, by the Impatience of the Jews, who justified themselves in comparison of their Conquerors: To which he receives an Answer in the following Chapter.

                2: In Answer to the Complaints of the Prophet in the foregoing Chapter, God tells him that He will in due Time perform the Promises made to His People, of Deliverance by the Messiah; and that in the mean Time good Men will support themselves by Faith: and then foreshows him the Ruin of their great Adversary, the Babylonian Empire, and the Judgment He will inflict upon them for their Covetousness, their Cruelty, and Idolatry.

                3: The Prophet in this Hymn recounts, in a Poetical Style, God’s wonderful Works, in conducting His People through’ the Wilderness, and giving them Possession of the promised Land : from whence be encourages himself and other pious Persons, to rely upon God for making good his Promises to their Posterity in after Ages.

                ZEPHANIAH: Preface: This Prophet lived in the Reign of Josiah, as he himself informs us, and prophesied chiefly against Judah, who continued very corrupt, notwithstanding the King’s pious Zeal for Reformation, and the good Example he gave to his Subjects.

                Zephaniah: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: The Prophet denounces God’s severe Judgments against Judah, for their Idolatry, and other heinous Sins.

                2: The Prophet exhorts the Jews to Repentance before God’s Judgments overtake them, which he likewise denounces against the Neighbouring Countries, the Philistines, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia, and Assyria, which were all subdued by Nebuchadnezzar, either before or after the Captivity of the Jews, see Jer. 25:2O,2 I, 22-26. Ezek. 25, 29, 31 and Dr. Prideaux under the 21st, 3Ist, and 32d Years of Nebuchadnezzar.

                3: Jerusalem is severely reproved and threatened for her Sins: yet the Righteous are comforted with the Hopes of a general Conversion and Restoration of the Nation in God’s due Time.

                HAGGAI: Preface: Of what Family this Prophet was, he hath given us no Intimation: but the Time when he prophesied he has distinctly noted, viz. in the 6th Year of Darius Hystaspes. The Occasion of this Prophecy was the Stop that was put to the Building of the Temple, after the Foundation had been laid, according to the Commandment of Cyrus, about 17  Years before.

                Haggai: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: The Prophet reproveth the Peoples Delays in rebuilding the Temple, and tells them this their Neglect was the Cause they prospered no better: He encourages them to set about it, and promises God’s Assistance in it.

                2: The Prophet encourages the Builders by a Promise, that the Glory of the Second Temple should be greater than that of the First ; and that in the following Year, God would bless them with a fruitful Harvest. In the Conclusion be foretells the setting up the Kingdom of Christ, under the Name of Zerubbabel.

                ZECHARIAH: Preface:  Zechariah was the Son of Barachiah, and the Grandson of Iddo: he is called the Son of Iddo, Ezra 5:1, 6:14, the Grandson being often called the Son in the Scriptures; as hath been observed upon Dan. 5:2. He was Contemporary with Haggai, and prophesied in the 2nd Year of Darius Hystaspes: See the Note upon Haggai 2:3 and upon Zech. 1:10. There is an Iddo mentioned Nehem. 12:4 among those Levites that came from Babylon with Zerubbabel; from whence Dr. Allix infers, that the Prophet Zechariah his Grandson must have prophesied some considerable Time after the first return from the Captivity, and therefore would understand the Darius here mentioned to be Darius Nothus. This Argument is altogether inconclusive; for if Iddo was advanced in Years when he returned, he might have a Grandson 30 Years of Age in the 2nd Year of Darius Hystasyes, which was 16 or 17 after the 1st of Cyrus.  And it appears that Zechariah was a young Man when he saw the Vision related at the beginning of this Prophecy; see chap. 2:4. Besides, there is no Necessity of supposing the Iddo that was Grand- father of Zechariah, to be the same Person that is mentioned in Nehemiah. In the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah there is mention of two Ezra’s; compare Ezra 7:1 with Neh. 12:1. Of two Nehemiah’s: compare Nehem. 1:1  with chap. 3:16. And there is a Daniel mentioned Ezra 8:16 a distinct Person from the famous Prophet of that Name: And it may as well be supposed that there were two Iddo’s.

                The Design of the first Part of this Prophecy is the same with that of Haggai, viz. To encourage the Jews to go on with Rebuilding of the Temple, by giving them Assurance of God’s Assistance and Protection: from whence he proceeds to foretel the Glory of the Christian Church, the true Temple or House of God, under its great High Priest and Governor Christ Jesus, of whom Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest were Figures. The latter Part of the Prophecy, from chap. 9 probably relates to the State of the Jews under the Maccabees, and then foretells their rejecting the Messias, and their Conversion afterwards, and some remarkable Passages that should happen to them in the latter Ages of the World.

                Zechariah: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: After an Exhortation to Repentance, the Prophet relates two Visions shewed to him, implying the Restoration of the Jewish State, and Security from their Enemies, while they were Rebuilding the Temple.

                2: The flourishing State of Jerusalem is foretold, and the Jews, still remaining at Babylon, are warned to leave it, that they may not be involved in the Calamities which are coming upon it.

                3: Under the Figure of Joshua the High Priest, clothed with new Priestly Attire, is set forth the Glory of Christ, as the Corner Stone of the Church.

                4: Under the Figure of the Golden Candlestick and two Olive Trees, is represented the Success of Zerubbabel and Joshua, in rebuilding and finishing the Temple.

                5: By the Representation of a flying Roll, God’s Judgments are denounced against Robbery and Perjury: And the Jews are warned against such Sins as occasioned their former Captivity, for fear of incurring the same, or a worse Calamity.

                6: The 1st Vision in this Chapter, of the 4 Chariots drawn by several Sorts of Horses, denotes the Succession of the 4 Empires. The 2nd, concerning the Crowns put upon the Head of Joshua, sets forth the Glory of Christ the Branch, who is to be both King and High Priest of the Church of God.

                7: Some Jews were sent from Babylon to enquire of the Priests and Prophets whether they were obliged to continue the Fasts that had been appointed upon the Occasion of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and the ensuing Captivity. The Prophet is commanded to take this Occasion of enforcing upon them the Observance of the weightier Matters of the Law, viz. Judgment and Mercy, for fear of their incurring the fame Calamities their Fathers suffered upon their Neglect of those Duties.

                8: God promises the continuance of his Favour to those that are returned from Captivity; so that upon the Removal of his Judgments, they need no longer continue the Fasts they had observed during the Captivity: And withal promises in due time a general Restoration of his People, and the Enlargement of his Church by the coming in of the Gentiles.

                9: This Chapter begins a New Prophecy: foretelling the Conquests of Alexander the Great over Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine; and God’s Providence over His Temple during this turbulent State of Affairs. From thence the Prophet takes Occasion to describe, as in a Parenthesis, the humble and peaceable Coming of the Messias; and then returning to his former Subject, declares the Conquests of the Jews, particularly the Maccabees, over the Princes of the Grecian Monarchy.

                10: The Prophet deters the Jews from seeking to Idols, by putting them in Mind of the Calamities Idolatry brought upon their Forefathers. Afterwards he foretells  a general Restoration of the Jewish Nation.

                11: The Prophet representing the Person of the Messias, declares the ungrateful Requitals the Jews had made him, when he undertook the Office of a Shepherd, in guiding and governing them; how they rejected him, and valued him and his Labours at the mean Price of 30 Pieces of Silver. Hereupon be threatens to destroy their City and Temple, and to give them up into the Hands of such Governors, as should have no regard either for their Spiritual or Temporal Welfare.

                12: The former Part of this Chapter and several Passages in the 14th, relate to an Invasion made upon the Inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem, in the latter Times of the World, probably after their Return to, and Settlement in their own Land, which is often spoken of by the Prophets. It is probably the same Attempt that is more largely described in the 38th, and 39th Chapters of Ezekiel. Mr. Mede and several other learned Men are inclined to understand that Prophecy of the Turks and their Confederates; see the Argument to those Chapters, and particularly chap. 38:8, 12, where the Expressions seem to point out the Time when that and the parallel Prophecies are to be fulfilled.

                13: A general Promise of Pardon proclaimed to the Jews upon their Conversion, and particularly of their being cleansed from Idolatry, and the false pretenses to Prophecy, upon their belief in Christ;  whose Death is foretold, and the saving of a 3rd Part of that People, after a severe Trial.

                14: The Beginning of the Chapter is a Continuation of the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans; then follows the Jews final Victory over their Enemies in the latter Times. The Prophecy concludes with a Description of the glorious State of Jerusalem, which should follow.

                MALACHI: Preface: The Prophet Malachi was in all likelihood Contemporary with Nehemiah. His Prophecy supposes the Temple to be built, and the Worship of God settled there;  but blames the Priests and Levites for not attending upon the Publick Worship, Chap.  1:10 and the People for offering the Lame and the Blind, ibid. ver. 7,8, and robbing God of his Tithes and Offerings, Chap. 3:10, which agrees very well with the Abuses we read of, Nehem. 10:33, 39; 13:10,11,12; as his Reproving them for marrying strange Wives, Cap. 2:11 exactly answers Nehem. 10:30; 13:23, &c.

                Bishop Lloyd dates this Prophecy something later than Nehemiah’s Time, about 397 Years before Christ; at which Time, according to his Computation, the first Seven (1st 7s) of Daniel’s Weeks, or 49 Years, were expired: which Time, as his Lordship explains the Words, was allotted for sealing up the Vision and Prophecy: Dan. 9:24. i.e. for completing the Canon of the Old Testament. The Words of Malachi, chap. 4:4,5 import, that after him the Jews were not to expect a Succession of Prophets: Whereupon he exhorts them carefully to observe the Law of Moses, and to look for no other Prophet, till Elias the Forerunner of the Messias should come.

                Malachi: Chapters: Arguments:

                1: God reproves the Jews for their Ingratitude, and blames both Priest and People for their irreverent and careless Performance of the Publick Worship.

                2: The beginning of the Chapter is a Continuation of God’s reproof to the Priests for their Unfaithfulness in their Office. From the 10th Verse he proceeds to reprove the People for Marrying strange Women, and even divorcing their former Wives, to shew their Fondness of such unlawful Marriages.

                3: This and the next Chapter, which are not divided in some Translations, contain a Prophecy of the Coming of the Messias, and His Forerunner John Baptist under the Name of Elias; and the terrible Judgments which shall come upon the Jews for their rejecting the Gospel.

                4: The Prophet foretells the general Destruction of the Jewish Nation, for rejecting the Messias: he comforts the well-disposed among them, and exhorts them to prepare themselves for His Coming by a strict Observance of the Law of Moses in the mean Time; since no Prophet was here after to be expected till that great One, who is to be Christ’s Forerunner.

                3. Calvin.

 Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, by John Calvin. Now First Translated from the Original Latin, by the Rev. John Owen, vicar of Thrussington, Leicestershire. Volumes 1-5, Hosea – Malachi.  Edinburgh. Calvin Translation Society. 1846. gs. (Lessons & Familiar Expositions of the 12 Minor Prophets, Latin to French, 1563)

                Translator’s Preface: “It embraces the most difficult portion, in some respects, of ‘The Old Testament‘, and of that portion, as acknowledged by all, the most difficult is ‘The Book of the Prophet‘. Probably no part of Scripture is commonly read with so little benefit as ‘The Minor Prophets‘, owing, no doubt, to the obscurity in which some parts are involved. That there is much light thrown on many abstruse passages in this Work, and more than by any existing Comment in our language, is the full conviction of the writer.”

BEFORE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY. BEFORE CHRIST. Minor Prophets: I-XII. Major Prophets: 1-4.

I. Jonah:  856-784.

II. Amos:  810-785.

III. Hosea:  810-725.

                1. Isaiah: 810-698.

IV. Joel:  810-660.

V. Micah:  758-699.

VI. Nahum:  720-698.

VII. Zephaniah:  640-609.

BEFORE & DURING CAPTIVITY. B.C.

                2. Jeremiah:  628-586.

VIII. Habakkuk:  612-598.

                3. Daniel:  606-534.

IX. Obadiah:  588-583.

                4. Ezekiel:  595-536

AFTER CAPTIVITY. B.C.

X. Haggai:  520–518.

XI. Zechariah:  520–518.

XII. Malachi:  436–420.

In the last Volume, the 4th [5th], will be given the two Indices appended to the original work. John Owen. Thrussington, September 1, 1846.

[[Revised Table: Order of Prophets: Non-Chronological: Logical:

Before Assyrian & Babylonian Captivity: B.C.: Major & Minor Prophets:

I: ISAIAH: 1. Hosea. 2. Joel.  3. Amos.

After Assyrian & Before & During Babylonian Captivity: B.C.: Major & Minor Prophets:

II: JEREMIAH: 4. Obadiah.   5. Jonah.   6. Micah.

Before & During Babylonian Captivity: B.C.: Major & Minor Prophets:

III: EZEKIEL: 7. Nahum.    8. Habakkuk.    9. Zephaniah.

During & After Babylonian Captivity: B.C.: Major & Minor Prophets:

IV: DANIEL: 10. Haggai.   11. Zechariah.   12. Malachi. ]]

                Calvin’s Commentaries on 12 Minor Prophets:

                Prophet HOSEA (Vol. 1): Argument: I have undertaken to expound ‘The 12 Minor Prophets‘. They have been long ago joined together, and their writings have been  reduced to one volume; and for this reason, lest by being extant singly in our hands, they should, as it often happens, disappear in course of time on account of their brevity.

                Then the Twelve (12) Minor Prophets form but one volume. The first of them is Hosea, who was specifically destined for the kingdom of Israel: Micah and Isaiah prophesied at the same time among the Jews. But it ought to be noticed, that this Prophet was a teacher in the kingdom of Israel, as Isaiah and Micah were in the kingdom of Judah. The Lord doubtless intended to employ him in that part; for had he prophesied among the Jews, he would not have complimented them; since the state of things was then very corrupt, not only in Judea, but also at Jerusalem, though the palace and sanctuary of God were there. We see how sharply and severely Isaiah and Micah reproved the people; and the style of our Prophet would have been the same had the Lord employed his service among the Jews: but he followed his own call. He knew what the Lord had entrusted to him; he faithfully discharged his own office. The same was the case with the Prophet Amos: for the Prophet Amos sharply inveighs against the Israelites, and seems to spare the Jews; and he taught at the same time with Hosea.

                We see, then, in what respect these four differ: Isaiah and Micah address their reproofs to the kingdom of Judah; and Hosea and Amos only assail the kingdom of Israel, and seem to spare the Jews. Each of them undertook what God had committed to his charge; and so each confined himself within the limits of his own call and office. For if we, who are called to instruct the Church, close our eyes to the sins which prevail in it, and neglect those whom the Lord hath appointed to be taught by us, we confound all order; since they who are appointed to other places must attend to those to whom they have been sent by the Lord’s call.

                We now, then, see to whom this whole book of Hosea belongs,—that is, to the kingdom of Israel. But with regard to the Prophets, this is true of them all, as we have sometimes said, that they are interpreters of the law. And this is the sum of the law, that God designs to rule by his own authority the people whom he has adopted. But the law has two parts, —a promise of salvation and eternal life, and a rule for a godly and holy living. To these is added a third part, that men, not responding to their call, are to be restored to the fear of God by threatenings and reproofs. The Prophets do further teach what the law has commanded respecting the true and pure worship of God, respecting love; in short, they instruct the people in a holy and godly life, and then offer to them the favour of the Lord. And as there is no hope of reconciliation with God except through a Mediator, they ever set forth the Messiah, whom the Lord had long before promised.

                As to the third part, which includes threats and reproofs, it was peculiar to the Prophets; for they point out times, and denounce this or that judgment of God: “The Lord will punish you in this way, and will punish you at such a time.” The Prophets, then, do not simply call men to God’s tribunal, but specify also certain kinds of punishment, and also in the same way they declare prophecies respecting the Lord’s grace and his redemption. But on this I only briefly touch; for it will be better to notice each point as we proceed.

                I now return to Hosea. I have said that his ministry belonged especially to ‘The Kingdom of Israel‘; for then the whole worship of God was there polluted, nor had corruption lately begun; but they were so obstimate in their superstitions, that there was no hope of repentance. We indeed know, that as soon as Jeroboam (I) withdrew the ten tribes from their allegiance to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, fictitious worship was set up: and Jeroboam seemed to have wisely contrived that artifice, that the people might not return to the house of David; but at the same time he brought on himself and the whole people the vengeance of God. And those who came after him followed the same impiety. When such perverseness became intolerable, God resolved to put forth his power, and to give some signal proof of his displeasure, that the people might at length repent. Hence Jehu was by God’s command anointed King of Israel, that he might destroy all the posterity of Ahab: but he also soon relapsed into the same idolatry. He executed God’s judgment, he pretended great zeal; but his hypocrisy soon came to light, for he embraced false and perverted worship; and his followers were nothing better even down to Jeroboam (II), under whom Hosea prophesied; but of this we shall speak in considering the inscription of the book.

                Prophet JOEL (Vol. 1):  I Proceed now to explain The Prophet Joel. The time in which he prophesied is uncertain. Some of the Jews imagine that he exercised his office in the time of Joram, king of Israel, because a dreadful famine then prevailed through the whole land, as it appears evident from sacred history; and as the Prophet records a famine, they suppose that his ministry must be referred to that time. Some think that he taught under Manasseh, but they bring no reason for this opinion; it is, therefore, a mere conjecture. Others  think that he performed his office as a teacher not only under one king, but that he taught, at the same time with Isaiah, under several kings. But as there is no certainty, it is better to leave the time in which he taught undecided; and, as we shall see, this is of no great importance. Not to know the time of Hosea would be to readers a great loss, for there are many parts which could not be explained without a knowledge of history; but as to Joel there is, as I have said, less need of this; for the import of his doctrine is evident, though his time be obscure and uncertain. But we may conclude that he taught at Jerusalem, or at least in the kingdom of Judah. As Hosea was appointed a Prophet to the kingdom of Israel, so Joel had another appointment; for he was to labour especially among the Jews, and not among the Ten Tribes: this deserves to be particularly noticed.

                Now the sum of the Book is this: At the beginning, he reproves the stupidity of the people, who, when severely smitten by God, did not feel their evils, but on the contrary grew hardened under them: this is one thing. Then he threatens far more grievous evils; as the people became so insensible under all their punishments, that they were not humbled, the Prophet declares that there were evils at hand much worse than those they had hitherto experienced: this is the second thing. Thirdly, he exhorts the people to repentance, and shows that there was required no common evidence of repentance; for they had not lightly offended God, but by their perverseness provoked him to bring on them utter ruin: since, then, their obstinacy had been so great, he bids them to come as suppliants with tears, with sackcloth, with mourning, with ashes, that they might obtain mercy; for they were unworthy of being regarded by the Lord, except they thus submissively humbled themselves: this is the third subject. The fourth part of the Book is taken up with promises; for he prophesies of The Kingdom of Christ, and shows, that though now all things seemed full of despair, yet God had not forgotten the covenant he made with the fathers; and that therefore Christ would come to gather the scattered remnants, yea, and to restore to life his people, though they were now lost and dead. This is the sum and substance. But we shall see, as we proceed, that The  Chapters have been absurdly and foolishly divided. He thus begins—.

                Prophet AMOS (Vol.1): Lecture 49th: He shows himself the time when he began to discharge his office of a teacher; but it does not appear how long he prophesied. The Jews, indeed, think that his course was long; he continued his office, as they write, under four kings. But he mentions here only the reigns of Uzziah and Jeroboam. His purpose was to mark the time when he began to execute his office of a Prophet, but not to express how long he laboured for God in that office; and why he mentions only the beginning, we shall in its proper place notice. It is, indeed, certain, that he commenced his work under king Uzziah, and under king Jeroboam: and this also is to be noticed, that he was appointed a Prophet to the kingdom of Israel. For though he arose from the tribe of Judah, yet the Lord, as we shall see, set him over the kingdom of Israel. He sometimes turns his discourse to the tribe of Judah, but only, as it were, accidentally, and as occasion led him; for he mainly addressed the Ten Tribes. I now come to his words.

                Prophet OBADIAH (Vol. 2): ‘This Prophecy‘ does not consist of many oracles, nor of many sermons, as other prophecies; but it only denounces on the Idumeans a near destruction, and then promises a restoration to the chosen people of God. But it threatens the Idumeans for the sake of administering consolation to the chosen people; for it was a grievous and hard trial for the children of Jacob, an elect people, to see the posterity of Esau, who had been rejected by God, flourishing both in wealth and power.

                As then the children of Israel were miserable in comparison with their own kindred, the adoption of God might have appeared worthless; and this was in great measure the reason why the Israelites preferred the lot of others to their own; and thus envy and depraved emulation, as it happens for the most part, vitiated their minds: for adversity produces sorrow and weariness, and if the prosperity of others is observed by us, our sorrow is enhanced and our weariness is increased. When therefore the Israelites saw the Idumeans living at ease and beyond the reach of danger, and when they also saw them in the enjoyment of every abundance, while they themselves were exposed as a prey to their enemies, and were continually expecting new calamities, it could not have been, but that their faith must have utterly failed, or at least become much weakened. For this reason, the Prophet here shows, that though the Idumeans now lived happily, yet in a short time they would be destroyed, for they were hated by God; and he shows that this would be the case, as we shall see from the contents of this Book, for the sake of the chosen people. We now then perceive the design of the Prophet: as adversity might have weakened the Israelites, and even utterly broken them down, the Prophet here applies comfort and props up their dejected minds, for the Lord would shortly look on them and take due vengeance on their enemies. And the reason why this prophecy is levelled against the Idumeans only is this, that they, as we know, raged more cruelly than any others against the Israelites: for it is not said without a cause in Ps. 137:7, “Remember the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, who said, Make bare, make bare even to the very foundations. There were also others, no doubt, who were not friends to the Israelites, and had conspired with their enemies: but the Prophet there shows, that there was a furious hatred entertained by the Idumeans, for they acted as fans to excite the cruel rage of enemies.

                Now at what time ‘Obadiah‘ prophesied, it does not appear, except that it is probable that this prophecy was announced, when the Idumeans rose up against the Israelites and dis

tressed them by many annoyances: for they seem to be mistaken who think that ‘Obadiah‘  lived before the time of Isaiah.   (* Newcome supposes that he prophesied between the taking of Jerusalem in 587 before Christ and the destruction of Idumea, a few years later, by Nebuchadnezzar. Usher, as quoted by Newcome, places the destruction of Jerusalem in 588 B.C., and the siege of Tyre by the Babylonians three years later, that is, in 585; and it was during this siege, which lasted thirteen years, that the Idumeans, as well as the Sidonians, the Moabites, and the Ammonites, were subdued by the Babylonian power: so that the threatenings contained in this prophecy were soon executed. —Ed.*)  It appears that Jeremiah (ch. 49) and this Prophet made use of the same thoughts and nearly of the same words, as we shall hereafter see. The Holy Spirit could, no doubt, have expressed the same things in different words; but he was pleased to join together these two testimonies, that they might obtain more credit.”    (* Expositors are divided in their opinions as to the priority of the two Prophets, and consequently as to whom of the two was the copyist. As the time cannot be ascertained, our only mode of ascertaining this, are the passages themselves as given by each. It is said that Jeremiah has not presented them in so perfect a form as Obadiah, and that in the latter they appear as the naturally connected parts of his subject, and accordant in style and character with the rest of the prophecy. But the matter is of no great importance, and to discuss it can bring no benefit.—Ed. *)      I know not whether Obadiah and Jeremiah were contemporaries, and on this subject we need not bestow much labour. It is sufficient for us to know, that this prophecy was added to other prophecies, that the Israelites might feel assured, that though their kindred the Idumeans might prosper for a time, yet they could not escape the hand of God, but would shortly be constrained to give an

account of their cruelty, inasmuch as they had without cause been all in a flame against the distressed and afflicted people of God.

                Now our Prophet shows at the end that God would become the avenger of this cruelty, which the Idumeans had exercised; for though he chastised his own people, he did not yet forget his gratuitous covenant. Let us now come to the words.

                Prophet JONAH (Vol. 3): Calvin’s Preface:  At what time Jonah discharged the office of a Teacher, we may in some measure learn from 2nd Kings 14; for it is certain that he is the person there mentioned in Sacred history, as he is expressly called the son of Amittai.”   (* “He was of Gath-hepher, in the tribe of Zebulun, a part of lower Galilee, Josh. 19:13. He prophesied in the reign of Jeroboam (II) the second, king of Israel, who began to reign 823 before Christ, and reigned in Samaria 41 years. See 2nd Kings 14:23-25.” —Newcome. *)        It is said there that Jeroboam, the son of Joash, had enlarged the borders of his kingdom, from the entrance into Hamath to the sea of the desert, according to the word of Jonah, the servant of God, the son of Amittai, who came from Gath. It was then at that time, or shortly before, that Jonah prophesied. And it is certain that he was not only sent to the ‘Ninevites’, but that he also was counted a Teacher among the people of Israel. And the beginning also of his Book seems to intimate what I have said that he was an ordinary Prophet among the people of Israel, for it begins with a copulative, ‘And the word of the Lord came to Jonah‘. Though the Holy Spirit does in other places speak sometimes in this manner, yet I doubt not but that Jonah intimates that he was recalled from the discharge of his ordinary office, and had a new charge committed to him, to denounce, as we shall see, on the Ninevites a near destruction.

                We must now then understand that Jonah taught among the people of Israel, but that he received a command to go to the Ninevites. Of this command we shall take notice in its proper place; but it is right that we should know that he was not then only made a Prophet, when he was given as a Teacher to the Ninevites, but that he was sent to the Ninevites after having for some time employed his labours for God and his Church.

                This Book is partly historical and partly didactic. For Jonah relates what happened to him after he had attempted to avoid the call of God, and what was the issue of his prophecy: this is one thing. But at the same time he mentions the kind of doctrine which he was commanded to proclaim, and he also writes a Song of Thanksgiving. This last part contains doctrine, and is not a mere narrative. I come now to the words.

                Prophet MICAH (Vol. 3): Among the Minor Prophets, Micah comes next, who is commonly called Michaiah.    (* The confusion of the name has been through the Septuagint, in which Michaiah, the son of Imlah, about a hundred years before, is rendered (Michaias), as well as this Prophet. The son of Imlah in Hebrew is (mikchaah)), while our Prophet is (Mikah).–Ed. *)      But he was the second, as they say, of this name; for the first was the Micaiah who had a contest with the wicked king Ahab; and he then exercised his Prophetic office. But the second was in the same age with Isaiah, perhaps a little later: at least Isaiah had been performing his office some years before Micah had been called. It appears then that he was added to Isaiah, that he might confirm his doctrine; for that holy man had to do with ungodly men, with men of a hardened neck, yea, and so wicked, that they were wholly irreclaimable. That their doctrine therefore might be more entitled to credit, it pleased God that Isaiah and Micah should deliver their message at the same time, as it were, with one mouth, and avow their consent, that all the disobedient might be proved guilty.

                But I will now come to his words: for the contents of this Book suggest what is useful for our instruction.”    (*“This Book,” says Henderson, “may be divided into two parts: the first consisting of chapters 1-5; and the second, the two remaining chapters, which are more general and didactic in their character.” *)

                Prophet NAHUM (Vol. 3): Calvin’s Preface: The time in which Nahum prophesied cannot with certainty be known. The Hebrews, ever bold in conjectures, say that he discharged his office of teaching under Manasseh, and that the name of that king was suppressed, because he was unworthy of such an honour, or, because his reign was unfortunate, as he had been led into captivity. When anyone asks the Jews a reason, they only say, that it appears so to them. As then there is no reason for this conjecture, we must come to what seems probable.

                They who think that he prophesied under Jotham , are no doubt mistaken, and can easily be disproved; for he here threatens ruin to the city Nineveh, because the Assyrians had cruelly laid waste the kingdom of Israel; and it is for these wrongs that he denounces vengeance: but under Jotham the kingdom of Israel had not been laid waste. We indeed know that the Assyrians were suborned by Ahaz, when he found himself unequal to resist the attacks of two neighbouring kings, the king of Syria, and the king of Israel. It was then that the Assyrians penetrated into the land of Israel; and in course of time, they desolated the whole kingdom. At this period it was that Nahum prophesied; for it was his object to show, that God had a care for that kingdom, on account of his adoption or covenant; though the Israelites had perfidiously separated themselves from the people of God, yet God’s covenant remained in force. His design then was to show, that God was the father and protector of that kingdom. As this was the Prophet’s object, it is certain that he taught either after the death of Ahaz under Hezekiah, or about that time.”  (* “I conclude from chap. ii. 2, that Nahum prophesied after the captivity of the ten tribes. Josephus places him in the reign of Jotham, and says that his predictions came to pass one hundred and fifteen years afterwards. Ant. IX. xi. 3. According to our best chronologers, this date would bring us to the year in which Samaria was taken. And I agree with those who think that Nahum uttered this prophecy in the reign of Hezekiah, and not long after the subversion of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser.” —Newcome. *)

                He followed Jonah at some distance,” as we may easily learn.   (* The distance is supposed by chronologers to have been about 150 years.-Ed. *)     Jonah, as we have already seen, pronounced a threatening on the city Nineveh; but the punishment was remitted, because the Ninevites humbled themselves, and suppliantly deprecated the punishment which had been announced. They afterwards returned to their old ways, as it is usually the case. Hence it was, that God became less disposed to spare them. Though indeed they were aliens, yet God was pleased to show them favour by teaching them through the ministry and labours of Jonah: and their repentance was not altogether feigned. Since then they were already endued with some knowledge of the true God, the less excusable was their cruelty, when they sought to oppress the kingdom of Israel. They indeed knew that that nation was

sacred to God: what they did then was in a manner an outrage against God himself.

                We now understand at what time it is probable that Nahum performed his office as a teacher; though nothing certain, as I have said at the beginning, can be known: hence it was, that I condemned the Rabbins for rashness on the subject; for they are bold enough to bring anything forward as a truth, respecting which there is no certainty.

                I have already in part stated the design of the Prophet. The sum of the whole is this: When the Assyrians had for some time disturbed the kingdom of Israel, the Prophet arose and exhorted the Israelites to patience, that is, those who continued to be the servants of God; because God had not wholly forsaken them, but would undertake their cause, for they were under his protection. This is the substance of the whole.

                With regard to Nineveh, we have already stated that it was the capital of the empire, as long as the Assyrians did bear rule: for Babylon was a province; that is, Chaldea, whose metropolis was Babylon, was one of the provinces of the empire. The kingdom was afterwards taken away from Meroc-baladan. Some think that Nabuchodonosor was the first monarch of Chaldea. But I bestow no great pains on this subject. It may be, that Meroc-baladan had two names, and this was very common; as we know that the kings of Egypt were called Pharaohs; so the Assyrians and Chaldeans, though otherwise called at first, might have taken a common royal name. Now Nineveh was so celebrated, that another kingdom could not have been established by the Babylonians without demolishing that city. We indeed know that it was very large, as we have stated in explaining Jonah. It was, as profane writers have recorded, nearly three days’ journey in circumference. Then its walls were one hundred feet high, and so wide, that chariots could pass one another without coming in contact: there were one thousand and five hundred towers. We hence see that it was not without reason that this city was formerly so celebrated.

                They say that Ninus was its founder; but this is proved to be a mistake by the testimony of Moses in Gen. 10. They also imagine that Semiramis was the first queen of Babylon, and that the city was built by her: but this is a fable. It may have been that she enlarged the city; but it was Babylon many ages before she was born. So also Ninusmay have increased and adorned Nineveh; but the city was founded before his birth. Profane authors call it Ninus, not Nineveh; probably the Hebrew name was corrupted by them, as it is often the case. However this may be, it is evident, that when Meroc-baladan, or his son, who succeeded him, wished to fix the seat of the empire at Babylon, he was under the necessity of destroying Nineveh to prevent rivalry. It thus happened, that the city was entirely demolished. Of this destruction, as we shall see, Nahum prophesied.

                Prophet HABAKUK (Vol. 4): Calvin’s Preface: Now follows The Prophet Habakkuk; but the time in which he discharged his office of a Teacher is not quite certain.   (* Who Habakkuk was is uncertain. Some have concluded, from ch. 3:19, that he was of the tribe of Levi; but the premises do not warrant the conclusion. ” He was probably,” says Adam Clarke, “of the tribe of Simeon, and a native of Beth-zacar.” The grounds for this probability are not stated. –Ed. *)   The Hebrews, according to their usual manner, unhesitatingly assert that he prophesied under the king Manasseh; but this conjecture is not well founded. We are however led to think that this prophecy was announced when the contumacy of the people had become irreclaimable. It is indeed probable, from the complaint which we shall have presently to notice, that the people had previously given many proofs of irremediable wickedness. To me it appears evident that the Prophet was sent when others had in vain endeavoured to correct the wickedness of the people. But as he denounces an approaching judgment on the Chaldeans, he seems to have prophesied either under Manasseh or under the other kings before the time of Zedechiah; but we cannot fix the exact time.  (* Newcome’s opinion is the following: “It seems probable that Habakkuk lived after the taking of Nineveh, as he prophesies of the Chaldeans, and is silent on the subject of the Assyrians. We have also reason to conclude that he prophesied not long before the Jewish captivity. See ch. 1:5; 2:3; 3:2, 6-19. He may therefore be placed in the reign of Jehoiakim, between the years 606 and 598 before Christ.”  Henderson agrees with this view. “Hunc librum canonicum esse constat, –tum 1  quia in Bibliis Hebrsaeis extat; tum 2. quia in N.T. allegatum, Acts 13:41; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38. It appears that this book is canonical, –1. because it is extant in Hebrew;  2. because it is quoted in the New Testament,” &c. –Darnovius. *) The substance of the Book may be thus stated: In the first chapter he complains of the rebellious obstinacy of the people, and deplores the corruptions which then prevailed; he then appears as the herald of God, and warns the Jews of their approaching ruin; he afterwards applies consolation, as God would punish the Chaldeans when their pride became intolerable. In the second chapter he exhorts the godly to patience by his own example, and speaks at large of the near ruin of Babylon ; and in the third chapter, as we shall see, he turns to supplication and prayer. We shall now come to the words.

                Prophet ZEPHANIAH (Vol. 4): Calvin’s Preface: Zephaniah is placed the last of the Minor Prophets who performed their office before the Babylonian Captivity; and the inscription shows that he exercised his office of teaching at the same time with Jeremiah, about thirty years before the city was destroyed, the Temple pulled down, and the people led into exile.  Jeremiah, it is true, followed his vocation even after the death of Josiah, while Zephaniah prophesied only during his reign.

                The substance of his Book is this: He first denounces utter destruction on a people who were so perverse, that there was no hope of their repentance; –he then moderates his

threatenings, by denouncing God’s judgments on their enemies, the Assyrians, as well as others, who had treated with cruelty the Church of God; for it was no small consolation, when the Jews heard that they were so regarded by God, that he would undertake their cause and avenge their wrongs. He afterwards repeats again his reproofs, and shortly mentions the sins which then prevailed among the elect people of God; and, at the same time, he turns his discourse to the faithful, and exhorts them to patience, setting before them the hope of favour, provided they ever looked to the Lord; and provided they relied on the gratuitous covenant which he made with Abraham, and doubted not but that he would be a Father to them, and also looked, with a tranquil mind, for that redemption which had been promised to them. This is the sum of the whole Book.

                Prophet HAGGAI (Vol. 4): Calvin’s Preface: After the return of the people, they were favoured, we know, especially with three Prophets, who roused their fainting hearts, and finished all predictions, until at length the Redeemer came in his appointed time. During the

time of The Babylonian Exile the office of teaching was discharged among the captives by Ezekiel, and also by Daniel; and there were others less celebrated; for we find that some of the Psalms were then composed, either by the Levites, or by some other teachers. But these two, Ezekiel and Daniel, were above all others eminent. Then Ezra and Nehemiah followed them, the authority of whom was great among the people; but we do not read that they were endued with the Prophetic gift.

                It then appears certain that three only were divinely inspired to proclaim the future condition of the people.

                Daniel had before them foretold whatever was to happen till the coming of Christ, and his Book is a remarkable mirror of God’s Providence; for he paints, as on a tablet, three things which were to be fulfilled after his death, and of which no man could have formed any conjecture. He has given even the number of years from the return of the people to the building of the Temple, and also to the death of Christ. But we must come to the other witnesses, who confirmed the predictions of Daniel. The Lord raised up three witnesses –Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.  (* Prophecy ceased with these Prophets until the time of Christ. For it was God’s purpose, by this famine of the word, (according to the prophetic language,) to render the Jews more desirous (appetentiores) of the Messiah, who was to surpass all the Prophets in the power of doing miracles.” –Grotius. *)

                The first (* We know nothing of the parentage of Haggai. He was probably born in Babylon during the captivity. He was sent particularly to encourage the Jews to proceed with the building of the temple, which had been interrupted for about fourteen (14th) years.” –Adam Clark.*) condemned the sloth of the people; for, being intent on their own advantages, they all neglected the building of the Temple; and he shows that they were deservedly suffering punishment for their ingratitude; for they despised God their Deliverer, or at least honoured him less than they ought to have done, and deprived him of the worship due to him. He then encouraged them to hope for a complete restoration, and showed that there was no reason for them to be disheartened by difficulties, and that though they were surrounded by enemies, and had to bear many evils, and were terrified by threatening edicts, they ought yet to have entertained hope; for the Lord would perform the work which he had begun –to restore their ancient dignity to his people, and Christ also would at length come to secure the perfect happiness and glory of the Church. This is the sum of the whole. I now come to the words.

                Prophet ZECHARIAH (Vol. 5): Calvin’s Preface:  The Prophecies of Zechariah come next. He was a fellow helper and colleague of Haggai, and also of Malachi, as it will presently appear. These three, then, were sent by God nearly at the same time, that they might assist one another, and that they might thus by one consent and one mouth confirm what God had committed to them. It was indeed of great service that several bore their testimony: their prophecies gained thus greater authority; and this was needful, for the people had to contend with various and most grievous trials. Satan had already raised up great opposition to them; but there were still greater evils at hand. Hence, to prevent them from despairing, it was necessary to encourage them by many testimonies.

                But what our Prophet had especially in view was, to remind the Jews why it was that God dealt so severely with their fathers, and also to animate them with hope, provided they really repented, and elevated their minds to the hope of true and complete deliverance. He at the same time severely reproves them; for there was need of much cleansing, as they still continued in their filth. For though the recollection of their exile ought to have restrained them, and to have made them carefully to fear and obey God, yet it seemed to have been otherwise; and it will appear more fully as we proceed, that being not conscious of having been punished for their sins, they were so secure, that there was among them hardly any fear of God, or hardly any religion. It was therefore needful to blend strong and sharp reproofs with promises of favour, that they might thus be prepared to receive Christ. This is the substance of the whole. I shall now proceed to the words.   

(* The following is taken from The Assembly’s Annotations, slightly altered: 

                He Prophesied in Darius’s:

2nd Year: 8th Month, (chap. 1:1-6).  11th Month, 24th Day, (ch. 1:7, to ch.7).

4th Year: 9th Month, 4th Day, (ch.7 to end).

                He Speaks in: Types, Partly:

Hortatory: Generally: to all People, (ch. 1 & 2).  Specially: to Joshua, (ch.3);  to Zerubabel, (ch. 4 ).

Monitory: False Prophets (ch.5);  Consolatory: Christ (ch. 6).

                Plain Speech, Handling Their State:

Present: Answering Questions About Fasting (ch. 7 & 8);

Future: Under Christ: Incarnate (ch. 9 & 10);  Crucified (ch. 11,12, & 13).  After Christ (ch. 14). *)

                Prophet MALACHI (Vol. 5): Lecture 169th: The Book of Malachi follows, whom many have imagined to have been an angel, on account of his name. We indeed know that (Mela’k)Melac, in Hebrew is an Angel; but how absurd is such a supposition, it is easy to see; for the Lord at that time did not send angels to reveal his oracles, but adopted the ordinary ministry of men; and as (y), iod (yod), is added at the end of the word, as it was usual in proper names, we may indeed hence include that it was the name of a man; at the same time I freely allow that it may have been added for some particular reason not known to us now. I am more disposed to grant what some have said that he was Ezra, and that Malachi was his surname, for God had called him to do great and remarkable things.

                However this may be, he was no doubt one of the Prophets, and, as it appears, the last; for at the end of his Book he exhorts the people to continue in their adherence to the pure doctrine of the Law: and this he did, because God was not afterwards to send Prophets in succession as before; for it was his purpose that the Jews should have a stronger desire for Christ, they having been for a time without any Prophets. (* “It is probable that he was cotemporary with Nehemiah. Compare ch. 2:11, with Neh. 13:23-27; and ch. 3:8, with Neh. 13:10.” –Newcome. He must then be several years after Zechariah, who began his Prophecy in the second (2nd) year of Darius Hystaspes, about sixteen (16) years  after the first return from captivity, and Nehemiah returned from Persia in the twentieth (20th) year of Artaxerxes, about ninety (90) years after the first (1st) return, and about seventy-four (74) years after Zechariah began to prophesy. –Ed. *)  It was indeed either a token of God’s wrath, or  a presage of Christ’s coming, when they were deprived of that benefit which Moses mentions in Deut. 18; for God had then promised to send Prophets, that the Jews might know that he cared for their safety. When therefore God left his people without Prophets, it was either to show his great displeasure, as during the Babylonian exile, or to hold them in suspense, that they might with stronger desire look forward to the coming of Christ.

                However we may regard this, I have no doubt but he was the last of the Prophets; for he bids the people to adhere to the doctrine of the Law until Christ should be revealed.

                The sum and substance of the Book is, that though the Jews had but lately returned to their own country, they yet soon returned to their own nature, became unmindful of God’s favour, and so gave themselves up to many corruptions; that their state was nothing better than that of their fathers before them, so that God had as it were lost all his labour in chastising them. As then the Jews had again relapsed into many vices, our Prophet severely reproves them, and upbraids them with ingratitude, because they rendered to God their deliverer so shameful a recompense. He also mentions some of their sins, that he might prove the people to be guilty, for he saw that they were full of evasions. And he addresses the priests, who had by bad examples corrupted the morals of the people, when yet their office required a very different course of life; for the Lord had set them over the people to be teachers of religion and of uprightness; but from them did emanate a great portion of the vices of the age; and hence our Prophet the more severely condemns them.

                He shows at the same time that God would remember his gratuitous covenant, which he had made with their fathers, so that the Redeemer would at length come.–This is

the substance of the whole: I come now to the words—.

                4. Henderson.

The Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, Translated from the Original Hebrew With a Commentary, Critical, Philological, by Ebenezer Henderson. W F Draper,  Intro Biog  1868. gs

                General Preface: The Minor Prophets are first mentioned as the Twelve (12) by Jesus the Son of Sirach. Under this designation, they also occur in the Talmudic tract, entitled Baba Bathra; and Jerome specifies, as the eighth (8th) in the second (2nd) division of the sacred books of the Jews, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, which, he says, they call Thereasar. Melito, who is the first of the Greek Fathers that has left us a catalogue of these books, uses precisely the same language. That they were regarded as forming one collective body of writings at a still earlier period, appears from the reference made by the protomartyr Stephen to the Book of the Prophets, when quoting Amos 5:27. The same style is employed by the Rabbins, who call Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve, the Four (4) Latter Prophets. They are also spoken of as one book by Gregory Nazianzen, in his poem, setting forth the component parts of the sacred volume.

                At what time, and by whom they were collected, cannot be determined with certainty. According to Jewish tradition, the collection of the sacred books generally is attributed to the men of the Great Synagogue, a body of learned Scribes, said to have been formed by Ezra, and continuing in existence till the time of Simon the Just, who flourished early in the third century before Christ In the opinion of many, Nehemiah completed this collection, by adding to those books which had already obtained a place in the canon, such as had been written in, or near his own times. If this actually was the case, it cannot be doubted that he must have availed himself of the authority of Malachi in determining what books were really entitled to this distinction; and this Prophet who was the last in the series of inspired writers under the ancient dispensation, may thus be considered to have given to the canon the sanction of Divine approbation. Within a century and a half afterwards, they were translated into Greek, along with the rest of the sacred books, and have ever since obtained an undisputed place among the oracles of God.

                To these twelve (12) prophetical books the epithet “Minor” has been applied, simply on the ground of their size, compared with those which precede them, and not with any view of detracting from their value, or of representing them as in any respect inferior in point of authority.

                The books are not arranged in the same order in the Hebrew and Septuagint texts, and in neither is the chronology exactly observed, as may be seen from the following table, in which the mean time is assumed as the basis of the calculation :

HEBREW: 1.Hosea.   2. Joel.  3. Amos.  4. Obadiah.  5. Jonah.  6. Micah.  7. Nahum.   8. Habakkuk.   9. Zephaniah.  10. Haggai.   11. Zechariah.  12. Malachi.

LXX:  1. Hosea.   2. Amos.  3. Micah.   4. Joel.  5. Obadiah.  6. Jonah. 7. Nahum.   8. Habakkuk.

9. Zephaniah.  10. Haggai.   11. Zechariah.  12. Malachi.

CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER ? B.C.:  1. Joel. (865)   2. Jonah. (810)   3. Amos.  (790)  4. Hosea.  (750) 

5. Micah. (730)  6. Nahum. (710) 7. Zephaniah.  (630)  8. Habakkuk.  (606)  9. Obadiah. (590) 

10. Haggai.  (520)  11. Zechariah.  (520)  12. Malachi. (440)

                Newcome, Boothroyd, and some other translators, have adopted the order which appeared to them to be chronologically correct; but in the present work that is retained which is found in the Hebrew Bible, and followed in the Vulgate, in all the authorized European versions, and in those of Michaelis, Dathe, De Wette, and others, simply on the ground of the facility of reference, which the other arrangement does not afford, but which is practically of greater importance than any advantage derivable from the change.

                The Minor Prophets have generally been considered more obscure and difficult of interpretation than any of the other prophetical books of the Old Testament. Besides the avoidance of a minute and particular style of description and the exhibition of the more general aspects of events only, which are justly regarded as essentially characteristic of prophecy, and the exuberance of imagery, which was so admirably calculated to give effect to the oracles delivered by the inspired Seers, but which to us does not possess the vividness and perspicuity which it did to those to whom it was originally exhibited, there are peculiarities attaching more or less to each of the writers, arising either from his matter, or from the manner of its treatment, which present difficulties of no ordinary magnitude to common readers, and many that are calculated to exercise the ingenuity, and, in no small degree, to perplex the mind of the more experienced interpreter. We are frequently left to guess historical circumstances from what we otherwise know of the features of the times, and sometimes we have no other means of ascertaining their character than what are furnished by the descriptive terms employed in the predictions themselves. Though in such cases general ideas may be collected respecting the persons or things which are presented to view in the text, yet we want the historical commentary which would elucidate and give point to its various particulars. The accounts contained in the books of Kings and Chronicles are frequently too brief to furnish us with a key to many of the prophecies which were fulfilled during the period which they embrace; while the pages of profane history only slightly touch, if they touch at all, upon events which the scope and bearing of the predictions determine to periods within the range of subjects professedly treated of by its authors.

                Against none of these prophets has the charge of obscurity been brought with greater appearance of justice than against Hosea, whose prophecies are obviously, for the most part, mere compendia, or condensed notes of what he publicly delivered, though preserving, to a considerable extent, the logical and verbal forms which characterized his discourses. Besides a profusion of metaphors, many of which are derived from sources little accordant with the dictates of occidental taste, we find in his book a conciseness of expression, an abruptness of transition, a paucity of connecting particles, and changes in person, number, and gender, to which nothing equal occurs in any of the other prophets. The visions of Zechariah also are not without their difficulties; but these arise, not from the language, which is remarkably simple in its character, but from the symbols which represent certain historical scenes and events.

                The period of time within which the authors of the books flourished, includes the entire prophetic cycle of more than four hundred years –Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, having also lived in it. It is unquestionably the most eventful in the history of the Hebrews. It embraces the introduction of image-worship, and that of Phoenician idolatry, with all its attendant evils, among the Israelites; the regicidal murders and civil wars which shook their kingdom to its centre; the corruptions of the Jewish state in consequence of its adoption of the idolatrous practices of the northern tribes; the Assyrian and Egyptian alliances; the irruption of the Syrian, Assyrian, and Chaldean armies into Palestine; the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities; the Persian conquests; the release of the Jews, and their restoration to their own land; and the state of affairs at Jerusalem during the governorship of

Nehemiah. Upon all these various events and circumstances, the predictions, warnings, threatenings, promises, and moral lessons, have, in a multiplicity of aspects, a more or less pointed and important bearing. Events subsequent to this period likewise form the subjects of prophetic announcement –such as the progress of Alexander the Great; the successes of the Maccabees; the corruptions which prevailed in the last times of the Jewish state; the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; the dispersion, future conversion, and restoration of the Jews; and the universal establishment of true religion throughout the world. Intermingled with these topics, and giving to each a significance and interest which it could not otherwise have possessed, are some of the clearest and most illustrious predictions respecting the Messiah, in his divine and human, his sacerdotal and suffering, and his regal and allconquering character that are to be found in the Old Testament.

                It is impossible seriously to peruse this collection of prophetical writings without discovering the Omniscient Eye to which all future events, with the most minute of their attendant circumstances, are present; the Omnipotent Arm, which, in the most difficult cases, secures the accomplishment of the Divine purposes; the glorious attributes of Jehovah as the Moral Governor of the universe, and the special Friend and Protector of his people; the deep depravity of the human heart; the multiform phases of moral evil; and the just retributions which befall mankind in the present state of existence. These, and numerous subjects of a kindred nature, furnish abundance of matter “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” which, while it is able to make “men wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” is also admirably fitted to “make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2nd Tim. 3: 15-17.

                The principles on which the Author has proceeded in preparing the present work are the same by which he was guided in composing his Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah. It has been his great aim to present to the view of his readers the mind of the Spirit as expressed in the written dictates of inspiration. With the view of determining this, he has laid under contribution all the means within his reach, in order to ascertain the original state of the Hebrew text, and the true and unsophisticated meaning of that text. He has constantly had recourse to the collection of various readings made by Kennicott and De Rossi; he has compared the renderings of the LXX, the Targum, the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, and other ancient versions: he has availed himself of the results of modern philological research; and has conducted the whole under the influence of a disposition to place himself in the times of the sacred writers –surrounded by the scenery which they exhibit, and impressed by the different associations, both of a political and a spiritual character, which they embody. In all his investigations he has endeavored to cherish a deep conviction of the inspired authority of the books which it has been his object to illustrate, and of the heavy responsibility which attaches to all who undertake the interpretation of the oracles of God.

                In no instance has the theory of a double sense been permitted to exert its influence on his expositions. The Author is firmly convinced, that the more this theory is impartially examined, the more it will be found that it goes to unsettle the foundations of Divine Truth, unhinge the mind of the biblical student, invite the sneer and ridicule of unbelievers, and open the door to the extravagant vagaries of a wild and unbridled imagination. Happily the number of those who adhere to the multiform method of interpretation is rapidly diminishing; and there cannot be a doubt, that, in proportion as the principles of sacred hermeneutics come to be more severely studied, and perversions of the word of God, hereditarily kept up under the specious garb of spirituality and a more profound understanding of Scripture, are discovered and exposed, the necessity of abandoning such slippery and untenable ground will be recognized, and the plain, simple, grammatical and natural species of interpretation, adopted and followed.

                HOSEA: Preface:  Respecting the origin -of this prophet nothing is known beyond what is stated in the title, ver. 1. If, as is now generally agreed, Jeroboam II died about the year B.C. 784, and Hezekiah began to reign about B.C. 728, it would appear from the same verse that the period of his ministry must have embraced, at the very least, fifty-six (56) years. To some this has seemed incredible, chiefly on the ground that his prophecies are comprised within the compass of fourteen brief chapters. It must be remembered, however, that the prophets were not uninterruptedly occupied with the delivery of oracular matter. Sometimes considerable intervals elapsed between their communications, although there can be no doubt that, having once been called to the office of public teachers, they devoted much of their time to the instruction of the people among whom they lived. Besides, there is no reason for believing the contents of the book are all that he ever uttered. They constitute only such portions of his inspired communications respecting the Israelites, as the Holy Spirit saw fit to preserve for the benefit of the Jews, among whose sacred writings they were incorporated.

                Hosea was contemporary with Isaiah, Micah, and Amos, and, like the last mentioned

prophet directed his prophecies chiefly against the kingdom of the ten tribes.

                From the general tenor of his book, and from the history of the times contained in the Books of Kings, he manifestly lived in a very corrupt age. Idolatry, a fondness for foreign alliances, civil distractions, and vice of every description abounded, the impending judgments on account of which he was commissioned to announce.

                Though he occasionally mentions Judah, yet the entire scene is laid in the land of Israel, where, there can be little doubt, he lived and taught.

                With the exception of the first and third chapters, which are in prose, the book is rhythmical, and abounds in highly figurative and metaphorical language. The diction is exceedingly concise and laconic; so much so, that Jerome justly describes him as “commaticus et quasi per sententias loquens.” (speaking brief and concise sentences) The sentences are in general brief and unconnected; the unexpected change of person is of frequent occurrence; number and gender are often neglected; and the sim  similes and metaphors are frequently so intermixed, that no small degree of attention is required in order to discover their exact bearing and force. He is more scanty in his use of the particles than the other prophets, which adds not a little to the difficulty of interpreting his prophecies. In many instances he is highly animated, energetic, and sublime. Of all the prophets he is, in point of language, the most obscure and hard to be understood.

                Chapter 1: This chapter contains the inscription, ver. 1; a representation of the idolatrous kingdom of Israel under the image of a female, whom the prophet was ordered to marry, but who should prove false to him, 2, 3; and of the punishment with which it was to be visited by the symbolical names of the prophet’s children, together with a distinct intimation that the kingdom of Judah should not be involved in the same destruction, 4-8. It concludes with a gracious promise of the joint restoration of all the tribes, and their flourishing condition in the land of their fathers, subsequent to the Babylonish captivity.

                Chapter 2: The prophet proceeds in this chapter to apply the symbolical relation described in the preceding. He calls the Israelites to reform their wicked conduct, 1,2; threatens them with & series of calamities, the effect of which should be their repentance and return to the service of Jehovah, 3-15; and promises a gracious restoration to his favor, and the enjoyment of security and prosperity in their own land, 16-23.

                Chapter 3: This chapter contains a new symbolical representation of the regard of Jehovah for his people, and of their condition at a period subsequent to their re-establishment in Canaan at the return from Babylon. The prophet is commanded to become reconciled to (Joiner, though she had proved unfaithful to him, as predicted chap. 1:2, ver. 1. He obeys the command, and purchases her from the individual with whom she was living in adultery, but stipulates that she was to wait for a lengthened period before she could he restored to the enjoyment of her conjugal rights, 2,3. In the two last verses, the symbolical proceeding is explained of a long period during which the Hebrews were to live without the celebration of their ancient rites, and at the same time be free from all idolatrous practices. The direct prediction respecting their conversion to the Messiah, ver. 5, clearly proves, that their condition during the present dispersion is intended.

                Chapter 4: The prophet now addresses himself more directly to the castigation of the flagrant evils which abounded in the kingdom of Israel during the interregnum which followed upon the death of Jeroboam, and the reigns of Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, and Pekahiah. He calls the attention of his countrymen to the divine indignation, and the causes of it, 1,2 denounces the judgments which were about to be executed upon them, 3; describes their incorrigible character, especially that of the priests, 4-11; and expatiates on the grossness of their idolatrous practices, 12-14. A solemn warning is then given to the members of the Jewish kingdom not to allow themselves to be influenced by their wicked example, 15-19.

Chapter 5: This chapter commences with an objurgation of the priests and the royal family, as the principal seducers of the nation to idolatry, 1,2. Then follows a description of the unblushing wickedness of the people, interspersed with denunciations of impending punishment, 3-7. The approach of the divine judgments is ordered to be proclaimed, and their certainty declared, 8, &. The prophet then abruptly turns to the two tribes and a half  whose guilt and punishment he denounces; yet so as to shew that his predictions were chiefly directed against the northern kingdom, the rulers of which, like those of Judah, instead of looking to Jehovah for deliverance from civil calamities, applied in vain for foreign assistance, 10-14. The 15th verse sets forth the certainty and the beneficial effects of the divine judgments.

                Chapter 6: The nation, in both its divisions, is here introduced as taking up language suitable to the circumstances described in the concluding verses of the preceding chapter, 1-3; but however appropriate it was to the condition of the people, that it was not the result of sound and thorough conversion, appears from ver. 4, in which they are expostulated with on the ground of their inconstancy. Notice is then taken of the means, both of a moral and a punitive nature, that had been employed for their recovery, 5,6 ; their deceitful and wicked conduct, especially that of the Israelites, is placed in a strong light, 7-10; and a special denunciation of punishment is directed against the Jews, who flattered themselves with the hope that whatever might befall the northern tribes, no calamity would happen to them.

                Chapter 7: The prophet continues his description of the wickedness of the ten tribes. Regardless of Jehovah, they persevered in falsehood and violence, 1,2; flattered their rulers, and thereby obtained their sanction to their nefarious conduct, 3, 5; and indulged to the utmost in licentiousness, 4-7. The murder of their kings successively is predicted, and their hardihood and folly are further set forth, 7-10. The prophet next adverts to their fruitless application for assistance to Egypt and Assyria, and their equally fruitless, because false professions of return to the service of God, 11-16.

                Chapter 8: The prophet announces the sudden irruption of the Assyrians, 1; by whom the Israelites were to be punished, on account of their hypocrisy and apostasy, 2,3; their illegitimate government, and their idolatry, 4. He then exposes the folly of their idolatrous confidence, and predicts their captivity, 5-10; remonstrates with them for their devotion to the worship of idols, in opposition to the express and numerous prohibitions of the evil contained in the divine law, 11, 12; and insists that their pretended service of Jehovah, while in reality they forgot him, so far from being of any avail to them, would only bring destruction upon them, 13,14.

                Chapter 9: The prophet checks the propensity of the Israelites to indulge in excessive joy on account of any partial relief from their troubles, 1; predicts the failure of the crops, etc. in consequence of the Assyrian invasion, 2; their removal to Egypt and Assyria, where they should have no opportunity, even if they were inclined, to serve Jehovah according to their ancient ritual, 3-5; and the hopelessness of their returning to enjoy the property they had left behind,6. He then announces the certain infliction of the divine judgments, and points out the true character of the false prophets, by whom the people had been led astray to their ruin, 7, 8. Illustrative references are next made to the early history of the Hebrew nation, accompanied with appropriate comminations couched in varied forms, in order to render them more affecting, 9-17.

                Chapter 10: In this chapter the prophet continues to charge the Israelites with idolatry, anarchy, and want of fidelity, 1-4. He expatiates with great variety on the judgments that were to come upon them in punishment for these crimes, 5-11; and then abruptly turns to them in a direct hortatory address, couched in metaphorical language, borrowed from the mode of representation which he had just employed, 12. The section concludes with an appeal to the experience which they had already had of the disastrous consequences of their wicked conduct.

                Chapter 11: To aggravate his representations of the guilt of the Israelites, the prophet adduces the divine benefits conferred upon them from the earliest period of their history, 1-4. He then threatens them with unavoidable punishment on account of their obstinacy, 5,6; but all of a sudden, introduces Jehovah, compassionating his rebellious children, and promising them a restoration from their captivity in foreign lands, 7-11.

                Chapter 12: This chapter commences with renewed complaints against both Ephraim and Judah, more especially against the former, 1,2. The conduct of their progenitor Jacob is then adduced in order to excite them to apply, as he did, for the blessings which they required, 3,4; to copy which they are further encouraged by the unchangeable character of Jehovah, 5,6. The prophet next reverts to the deceitful and hypocritical character of the ten tribes, notwithstanding the numerous means that had been employed to promote true piety, 7-10; renews his castigation of their idolatrous practices, 11; again appeals to the kindness of God to the nation in its obscure origin in the person of Jacob, 12,13; and denounces anew the judgments that were to be inflicted upon it, 14.

                Chapter 13: After contrasting the prosperity of the tribe of Ephraim, during the period of its obedience to the divine laws, with the adversity which it had suffered in consequence of idolatry, 1, the prophet proceeds in the same manner, as in the preceding chapter, to intermingle brief descriptions of sin and guilt, 2, 6, 9, 12; denouncements of punishment, 3, 7, 8, 13, 15,16; and promises of mercy, 4, 9, 14.

                Chapter 14: This chapter contains an urgent call to repentance, the supplication and confession expressive of which are put in a set form of words into the mouths of the penitents, 1-3. To encourage them thus to return to God, he makes the most gracious promises to them, 4-7; their entire abandonment of idolatry is then predicted, and the divine condescension and goodness are announced, 8; and the whole concludes with a solemn declaration, on the part of the prophet, respecting the opposite consequences that would result from attention or inattention to his message.

                JOEL: Preface: We possess no further knowledge of Joel than what is furnished by the

title of his book, or may be gathered from circumstances incidentally mentioned in it. That he lived in Judah, and, in all probability, at Jerusalem, we may infer from his not making the most distant reference to the kingdom of Israel; while, on the other hand, he speaks of Jerusalem, the temple, priests, ceremonies, etc. with a familiarity which proves them to have been before his eyes.

                With respect to the age in which he flourished; opinions have differed. Bauer places him in the reign of Jehoshaphat; Credner, Winer, Krahmer, and Ewald, think he lived in that of Joash; Vitringa, Carpzov, Moldenhauer, Eichhorn, Holzhausen, Theiner, Rosenmuller, Knobel, Hengstenberg, Gesenius, and De Wette, in that of Uzziah; Steudel and Bertholdt in that of Hezekiah; Tarnovius and Eckermann assign the period of his activity to the days of Josiah; while the author of Sedar Olam, Jarchi, Drusius, Newcome, and Jahn, are of opinion that he prophesied in the reign of Manasseh. The most probable hypothesis is, that his predictions were delivered in the early days of Joash; that is, according to Credner, B.C. 870-865. No reference being made to the Babylonian, the Assyrian, or even the Syrian invasion, and the only enemies of whom mention is made being the Phoenicians, Philistines, Edomites, and Egyptians, it seems evident that Joel was unacquainted with any but the latter. Had he lived after the death of Joash, he could scarcely have omitted to notice the Syrians when speaking of hostile powers, since they not only invaded the land, but took Jerusalem, destroyed the princes, and carried away immense spoil to Damascus, 2nd Chron.  24:23,24. The state of religious affairs as presented to view in the book is altogether in favor of this position. No mention is made of idolatrous practices; while, on the contrary, notwithstanding the guilt which attached to the Jews, on account of which Jehovah brought judgments upon the land, the principles of the theocracy are supposed to be maintained; the priests and people are represented as being harmoniously occupied with the services of religion; and Jerusalem, the temple and its worship, appear in a flourishing condition. Now this was precisely the state of things during the high-priesthood of Jehoiada, through whose influence Joash had been placed upon the throne. See 2nd Kings 11:17,18, 12:2-16; 2nd Chron. 24:4-14. It will follow that Joel is the oldest of all the Hebrew prophets whose predictions have come down to us.

                The delivery of his prophecy was occasioned by the devastations produced by successive swarms of locusts, and by an excessive drought which pervaded the country, and threatened the inhabitants with utter destruction. This calamity, however, was merely symbolical of another, and a more dreadful scourge –the invasion of the land by foreign enemies, on which the prophet expatiates in the second chapter. In order that such calamity might be removed, he is commissioned to order an universal fast, and call all to repentance and humiliation before God; to announce as consequent upon such repentance and humiliation, a period of great temporal prosperity; to predict the effusion of the Holy Spirit at a future period of the history of his people; to denounce judgments against their enemies; and to foretell their restoration from the final dispersion.

                In point of style Joel stands preeminent among the Hebrew prophets. He not only possesses a singular degree of purity, but is distinguished by his smoothness and fluency; the animated and rapid character of his rhythmus; the perfect regularity of his parallelisms; and the degree of roundness which he gives to his sentences. He has no abrupt transitions, is everywhere connected, and finishes whatever he takes up. In description he is graphic and perspicuous; in arrangement lucid; in imagery original, copious, and varied. In the judgment of Knobel, he most resembles Amos in regularity, Nahum in animation, and in both respects Habakkuk; but is surpassed by none of them. That what we now possess is all he ever wrote, is in the highest degree improbable: on the contrary, we should conclude from the cultivated character of his language, that he had been accustomed to composition long before he penned these discourses. Whatever degree of obscurity attaches to his book, is attributable to our ignorance of the subjects of which it treats, not to the language which he employs.

                Chapters:

                1: After summoning attention to the unexampled plague of locusts with which the country had been visited, 2-4, the prophet excites to repentance by a description of these insects, 5-7, and of the damage which they had done to the fields and trees, 8-12; calls the priests to institute a solemn season for fasting and prayer, 13,14; and bewails, by anticipation, a more awful visitation from Jehovah, 15, while he further describes the tremendous effects of the calamity under which the country was suffering, 16-20.

                2: The prophet reiterates his announcement of the approach of a divine judgment more terrific in its nature than that of the locusts, hut employs language borrowed from the appearance and movements of these insects, in order to make a deeper impression upon his hearers, whose minds were full of ideas derived from them as instruments of the calamity under which they were suffering, 1-11. He then summons anew to humiliation and repentance, 12-17; giving assurance that on these taking place, Jehovah would show them pity, destroy their enemy, and restore them to circumstances of great temporal and religious prosperity, 18-27; and the chapter concludes with a glorious promise of the abundant effusion of the influences of the Holy Spirit in the apostolic age, 28,29, and a prediction of the Jewish war, and the final subversion of the Jewish state, 30,31, in the midst of which such as embraced the worship and service of the Messiah should experience deliverance, 32.

                3: In this chapter the prophet returns from the parenthetic view which he had exhibited of the commencement of the Christian dispensation, and the overthrow of the Jewish polity, to deliver predictions respecting events that were to transpire subsequent to the Babylonish captivity, and fill up the space which should intervene between the restoration of the Jews, and the first advent of Christ. He announces the judgment to be holden on their enemies after the return to Judea, 1,2; specifies the reasons why they were to be punished, and expressly mentions by name the neighboring nations of Tyre, Sidon and Philistia, 3-6: promises the restoration of those Jews whom these states had sold into slavery, while they are threatened with slavery in return, 7,8; summons the nations to engage in the wars in which they were to be destroyed, 9-15; shows, that since these convulsions were brought about by the providence of Jehovah, whose earthly throne was at Jerusalem, his people had no ground for alarm, and would experience his protection, 16,17: predicts times of great prosperity to them, 18; and concludes with special denunciations against Egypt and Idumea, with whose fate is placed in striking contrast the protracted existence of the Jewish polity, 19-21.

                AMOS: Preface:  Amos, (Heb. (`amos), ‘burden‘, a word purely Hebrew, and not of Egyptian origin, and the same as Amasis or Amosis, as Gesenius conjectures,) was, as we learn from the inscription, a native of Tekoah, a small town in the tribe of Judah, at the distance of about twelve (12) miles south-east of Jerusalem. The country round being sandy and barren, was destitute of cultivation, and fit only to be occupied by those addicted to pastoral life. Among these our prophet was originally found; and, though it was counted no disgrace in ancient times, any more than it is at the present day in Arabia, to follow this occupation, kings themselves being found in it, (2nd Kings 3:4,) yet there is no reason to suppose that Amos belonged to a family of rank or influence, but the contrary. No mention is made of his father; but too much stress is not to be laid upon this circumstance. That he had been in poor circumstances, however, appears from the statement made chap. 7:14; from which also it is incontrovertible, that no change of circumstances intervened, which may be supposed to have been more favorable to mental culture, but that he was called at once to exchange the life of a shepherd for that of a prophet.

                Though a native of the kingdom of Judah, he discharged the functions of his office in that of Israel –a fact, which is to be accounted for, not, as Bertholdt conjectures, on the ground of some personal relations, but by an express Divine commission to occupy it as the scene of his labors. Eichhorn ingeniously supposes the reasons of his selection to have been, that the appearance of a foreign prophet was much more calculated to excite attention than that of a native, and that such a prophet was more likely to command respect than any belonging to a kingdom in which impostors and fanatics abounded.

                The time at which he prophesied is stated in general terms, chap. 1:1, to have been in the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel, the former of whom reigned B.C. 811-759, and the latter B.C. 825-784, but in which of these years he was called to the office, and how long he continued to exercise it, we are not told. Even if any dependence could be placed upon the Jewish tradition, Joseph. Antiq. ix. 10, 4, and Jerome on Amos 1:1, that the earthquake mentioned here, and Zech. 14:5, took place when Uzziah attempted to usurp the sacerdotal functions, we should still be unable to fix the exact date, since it is uncertain in what year the attempt was made.

                That he was contemporary with Hosea, appears not only from the dates assigned in both their books, but from the identical state of affairs in the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes, which they so graphically describe. Whether he flourished also in the days of Isaiah and Micah cannot be determined.

                As we have already found, from the prophecy of Hosea, idolatry, with its concomitant evils, effeminacy, dissoluteness, and immoralities of every description, reigned with uncontrolled sway among the Israelites in the reign of Jeroboam the son of Joash. It is chiefly against these evils that the denunciations of Amos are directed.

                The book may properly be divided into three parts: First, sentences, pronounced against the Syrians, the Philistines, the Phoenicians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Jews, and the Israelites, chapters 1 and 2. Second, special discourses delivered against Israel, chapters 3-6. Third, visions, partly of a consolatory, and partly of a comminatory nature,, in which reference is had both to the; times that were to pass over the ten (10) tribes, previous to the coming of the Messiah, and to what was to take place under his reign, chapters 7-9.

                In point of style, Amos holds no mean place among the prophets. The declaration of Jerome, that he was imperitus sermonie, has not been justified by modern critics. On the contrary, it is universally allowed that, though destitute of sublimity, he is distinguished for perspicuity and regularity, embellishment and elegance, energy and fulness. His images are mostly original, and taken from the natural scenery with which he was familiar; his rhythmus is smooth and flowing; And his parallelisms are in a high degree natural and complete. In description, he is for the most part special and local; he excels in the minuteness of his groupings, while the general vividness of his manner imparts a more intense interest to all that he delivers. In some few instances, as in chapters 4, 6 and 7 the language approaches  more to the prose style or is entirely that of narrative.

                From chap. 7:10-13, it appears that the scene of his ministry was Bethel. Whether he left that place in consequence of the interdict of Amaziah, the priest, we know not. According to Pseudo-Epiphanius, he afterwards returned to his native place, where he died, and was buried with his fathers; but no dependence can be placed pa the statement.

                Chapters:

                1: After a chronological and general introduction, ver. 1,2, this chapter contains a heavy charge, accompanied with denunciations, against the Syrians of Damascus 3-5; the Philistines, 6-8; the Phoenicians, 9,10; the Idumeans, 11,12; and the Ammonites 13-15.

                2: In this chapter we have the continuation of charges and denunciations against different nations, as the Moabites, 1-3, the Jews, 4, 5; and finally, the Israelites, who were to form the principal objects of the prophet’s ministry, 6-8. Amos then proceeds to insist on their ungrateful conduct, notwithstanding the experience which they had had of distinguished favors at the hand of God, 9-13; and the futility of all hopes of escape which they might be led to entertain, 14-16.

                3: The prophet resumes the subject of the Divine goodness towards the Hebrew people, and grounds upon their misimprovement of it, the certainty of their punishment, ver. 1; he then, in a series of pointed and appropriate interrogations, illustrates this certainty, 3-6; which he follows up by a vindication of his commission, 7, 8. Foreign nations are then summoned to witness the execution of judgment upon the kingdom of Israel, which would be signally severe, 9-15.

                4: This chapter contains a continuation of the denunciation pronounced against the Israelites, at the close of the preceding, 1-3; an ironical call to them to persevere in their will worship, which was the, primary cause of their calamities, 4,5; an enumeration of the different judgments with which they had been visited, but which had effected no reformation, 6-11; and a summons to them to prepare for the last and most awful judgment, which the omnipotent Jehovah was about to inflict upon them, 12,13.

                5: After giving utterance to a brief elegy over the prostrate and helpless condition of the kingdom, which had just been predicted, 1-3, the prophet introduces Jehovah still addressing himself to the inhabitants; calling upon them to relinquish their superstitious and idolatrous practices, and return to his service, 4-9. He then adverts the picture of wickedness which the nation exhibited, 10-13; repeats the call to cultivate habits of piety and righteousness, 14,15; describes, in plaintive strains, the destruction that was coming upon the land, 16-20; exposes the inutility of ceremonial rites when substituted for moral rectitude, or combined with unauthorized worship, 21-26; and expressly threatens the Israelites with transportation into the East, 27.

                6: This chapter embraces the character and punishment of the whole Hebrew nation. The inhabitants of the two capitals are directly addressed in the language of denunciation, and charged to take warning from the fate of other nations, 1,2. Their carnal security, in justice, self-indulgence, sensuality, and total disregard of the divine threatenings, are next described, 3-6; after which the prophet announces the captivity, and the calamitous circumstances connected with the siege of Samaria, by which it was to be preceded, 7-11. He then exposes the absurdity of their conduct, and threatens them with the irruption of an enemy, that should pervade the whole country, 12-14.

                7:1-8:3: This portion of the book contains four (4) symbolical visions respecting successive judgments that were to be inflicted on the kingdom of Israel. They were delivered at Bethel, and in all probability at the commencement of the prophet’s ministry. Each of them, as they follow in the series, is more severe than the preceding. The first presented to the mental eye of the prophet a swarm of young locusts, which threatened to cut off all hope of the harvest 1-3; the second, a fire, which effected an universal conflagration, 4-6; the third,

a plumb-line, ready to be applied to mark out the edifices that were to be destroyed, 7-9; and the fourth, a basket of ripe fruit, denoting the near and certain destruction of the kingdom, 8:1-3. The intervening eight (8) verses, which conclude the seventh (7th) chapter, contain an account of the interruption of Amos by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, whose punishment is specially predicted. In point of style, this portion differs from that of the rest of the book, being almost exclusively historical and dialogistic.         

                8: After giving an account of a fourth (4th) vision, in which was represented the ripeness for destruction at which the Israelites had arrived, and the certainty of such destruction, 1-3, the prophet resumes his denunciatory addresses to the avaricious oppressors of the people, 4-7; predicts the overthrow of the nation, 8-10; and concludes with threatening a destitution of the means of religious instruction, 11-14.

                9: This chapter commences with an account of the fifth (5th) and last vision of the prophet, in which the final ruin of the kingdom of Israel is represented. This ruin was to be complete and irreparable; and no quarter to which the inhabitants might flee for refuge, would afford them any shelter from the wrath of the Omnipresent and Almighty Jehovah, 1-6. As a sinful nation, it was to be treated as if it had never stood in any covenant relation to him; yet, in their individual capacity, as the descendants of Abraham, how much soever they might be scattered and afflicted among the heathen, they should still be preserved, 7-10. The concluding part of the chapter contains a distinct prophecy of the restoration of the Jewish church after the Babylonish captivity, 11; the incorporation of the heathen which was to be consequent upon that restoration, 12, and the final establishment of the Jews in their own land in the latter day, 13-15.

                OBADIAH: Preface: The prophecy of Obadiah, consisting only of twenty-one verses, is the shortest book of the Old Testament. Jerome calls him, parvus propheta, versuum supputatione, non sensum (This minor prophet, of few verses, but not without meaning.). Of his origin, life, and circumstances, we know nothing; but, as usual, various conjectures have been broached by the Rabbins and Fathers: –some identifying him with the pious Obadiah who lived at the court of Ahab; some, with the overseer of the workmen, mentioned 2nd Chron. 34:12; and some, with others of the same name; while there is no lack of legendary notices respecting the place of his birth, sepulchre, etc. See Carpzovii Introd. torn. iii. pp. 332, 333.

                That he flourished after the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, may be inferred from his obvious reference to that event, verses 11-14; for it is more natural to regard these verses as descriptive of the past, than as prophetical anticipations of the future. He must, therefore, have lived after, or been contemporary with Jeremiah, and not with Hosea, Joel, and Amos, as Grotius, Huet, and Lightfoot, maintain. Sufficient proof of his having lived in or after the time of that prophet, has been supposed to be found in the almost verbal agreement between verses 1-8, and certain verses inserted in the parallel prophecy, Jeremiah 49; it being assumed that he must have borrowed from him. This opinion, however, though held by Luther, Bertholdt, Von Coelln, Credner, Hitzig, and Von Knobel, is less probable than the contrary hypothesis, which has been advocated by Tarnovius, Schmidius, Du Veil, Drusius, Newcome, Eichhorn, Jahn, Schnurrer, Rosenmüller, Holzapfel, Hendework, Havernick, and Maurer. Indeed, a comparison of the structure of the parallel prophecies goes satisfactorily to show the priority of our prophet, as has been ably done by Schnurrer, in his Disputatio philologica in Obadiam, Tubing. 1787, 4to. Add to which, that Jeremiah appears to have been in the habit of partially quoting from preceding prophets. Comp. Is. 15, 16 with Jerem. 48. This view is confirmed by the opinion of Ewald, that both these writers copied from some earlier prophet, since he admits that Obadiah has preserved, in a less altered condition, the more energetic and unusual manner of the original than Jeremiah. In brief, the portion in question is so entirely in keeping with the remainder of the book, that they must be considered as having been originally delivered by the same individual; whereas Jeremiah presents it in the form of disjecta membra poetae (disconnected poetic member).

                In all probability the prophecy was delivered between the year B.C. 588, when Jerusalem was taken by the Chaldeans, and the termination of the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar. During this interval, that monarch subdued the Idumeans, and other neighboring nations.

                Of the composition of Obadiah, little, as Bishop Lowth observes, can be said, owing to its extreme brevity. Its principal features are animation, regularity, and perspicuity.

                The subjects of the prophecy are the judgments to be inflicted upon the Idumeans on account of their wanton and cruel conduct towards the Jews at the time of the Chaldean invasion, and the restoration of the latter from captivity. The book may, therefore, be fitly divided into two parts: the first comprising verses 1-16, which contain a reprehension of the pride, self-confidence, and unfeeling cruelty of the former people, and definite predictions of their destruction; the latter, verses 17-21, in which it is promised that the Jews should not only be restored to their own land, but possess the territories of the surrounding nations, especially Idumea.

                The reason why the book occupies its present unchronological position in the Hebrew Bible, is supposed to be the connection between the subject of which it treats, and the mention made of “the residue of Edom,” at the conclusion of the preceding book of Amos.

                Chapter 1: The prophecy commences by announcing the message sent in the providence of God to the Chaldeans, to come and attack the Idumeans, ver. 1; and describes the humiliation of their pride, 2, 3; the impossibility of their escape by means of their boasted fastnesses, 4; and the completeness of their devastation, 5. It then proceeds with a sarcastic plaint over their deserted and fallen condition, 6-9; specifies its cause –their unnatural cruelty towards the Jews, 10-14; and denounces a righteous retribution, 15, 18. The remaining portion foretells the restoration of the Jews, their peaceful settlement in their own land, and the establishment of the kingdom of Messiah, 17-21.

                JONAH: Preface: Against no book of Scripture have the shafts of infidelity and the sapping arts of anti-supernaturalism been more strenuously directed than against that of the Prophet Jonah. As early as the days of Julian and Porphyry it was made the subject of banter and ridicule by the pagans, who accused the Christians of credulity for believing the story of the deliverance by means of a fish; and, in modern times, while the enemies of revelation have evinced the same spirit, many of its pretended friends have had recourse to methods of interpretation, which would not only remove the book from the category of inspired writings, but, if applied to these writings generally, would annihilate much that is strictly historical in its import, and leave us to wander in the regions of conjecture and fable. Blasche? Grimm, and some others, suppose the whole to have been transacted in a dream; but, as Eichhorn justly observes, there is not a single circumstance in the narrative that would suggest such an idea; and, besides, whenever any account is given of a dream in Scripture, the fact that such is the case, is always intimated by the writer. The manner in which the book commences and closes, is also objected to this hypothesis, which J.G.A. Muller scruples not to assert we are on ‘no ground whatever‘ (durch gar nichts,) warranted to adopt. The theory of an historical allegory was advanced and maintained with great learning, but, at the same time, with the most extravagant license of imagination, by the eccentric Herman von der Hardt, Professor of the Oriental languages at the university of Helmstedt. According to this author, Jonah was an historical person, but is here symbolical partly of Manasseh, and partly of Josiah, kings of Judah; the ship was the Jewish state; the storm, the political convulsions which threatened its safety; the master of the ship, Zadok the high-priest; the great fish, the city of Lybon on the Orontes, where Manasseh was detained as a prisoner, etc. Sender Michaelis, Herder, Hezel, Staudlin, Paulus, Meyer, Eichhorn, Niemeyer, etc. have attempted to vindicate to the book the character of a parable, a fable, an apologue, or a moral fiction; while Dereser, Nachtigal, Ammon, Bauer, Goldhorn, Knobel, and others, consider it to have had historical basis, and that it has been invested with its present costume in order that it might answer didactic purposes. On the other hand, Rosenmuller, Gesenius, De Wette, Maurer, and Winer, derived it from popular tradition; some tracing it to the fable of the deliverance of Andromeda from a sea monster, by Perseus, Apollod. ii. 4, 3; Ovid, Metamorph. iv. 662, etc.; and some, to that of Hercules, who sprang into the jaws of an immense fish, and was three days in its belly, when he undertook to save Hesione, Iliad, xx. 145, xxi. 442; Diod. Sic. iv. 42; Tzetz. ad Lycophr. Cassand. 33; Cyrill Alex, in Jon. 2.

                Much as some of these writers may have in common with each other, there are some essential points on which they are totally at variance; while all frankly acknowledge the difficulties which clog the subject.

                The opinion which has been most generally entertained, is that which accords to the book a strictly historical character; in other words, which affirms that it is a relation of facts which actually took place in the life and experience of the prophet. Nor can I view it in any other light, while I hold fast an enlightened belief in the divine authority of the books composing the canon of the Old Testament, and place implicit reliance on the authority of the Son of God. Into the fixed and definite character of the canon, I need not here enter, having fully discussed the subject elsewhere; but assuming that all the books contained in it possess the Divine sanction, the test to which I would bring the question, and by which, in my opinion, our decision must mainly be formed, is the unqualified manner in which the personal existence, miraculous fate, and public ministry of Jonah, are spoken of by our Lord. He not only explicitly, recognizes the prophetical office of the son of Amittai (‘Iōna tou prophētou), just as he does that of Elisha, Isaiah, and Daniel, but represents his being in the belly of the fish as a real miracle (to sēmeion); grounds upon it, as a fact, the certainty of the future analogous fact in his own history; assumes the actual execution of the commission of the prophet at Nineveh; positively asserts that the inhabitants of that city repented at his preaching; and concludes by declaring respecting himself, “Behold! a greater than Jonah is here.” Matt. 12:39-41, 16:4. Now, is it conceivable, that all these historical circumstances would have been placed in this prominent light, if the person of the prophet, and the brief details of his narrative, had been purely fictitious? On the same principle that the historical bearing of the reference in this case is rejected, may not that to the Queen of Sheba, which follows in the connection, be set aside, and the portion of the first book of Kings, in which the circumstances of her visit to Solomon are recorded, be converted into an allegory, a moral fiction, or a popular tradition? The two cases, as adduced by our Lord, are altogether parallel; and the same may be affirmed of the allusion to Tyre and Sidon, and that to Sodom in the preceding chapter.

                It may be said, indeed, that a fictitious narrative of the moral kind would answer the purpose of our Saviour equally well with one which contained a statement of real transactions; just as it has been maintained, that the reference made by the Apostle James to the patience of Job, suited his purpose, irrespective of the actual existence of that patriarch; but, as in the one case, a fictitious example of patience would prove only a tame and frigid motive to induce to the endurance of actual suffering, so, in the other, a merely imaginary repentance must be regarded as little calculated to enforce the duties of genuine contrition and amendment of life.

                Certainly in no other instance in which our Saviour adduces passages out of the Old Testament for the purpose of illustrating or confirming his doctrines, can it be shown, that any point or circumstance is thus employed which is not historically true. He uniformly quotes and reasons upon them as containing accounts of universally admitted facts; stamps them as such with the high sanction of his divine authority; and transmits them for the confident belief of mankind in all future ages.

                It is only necessary further to add, that if the book had contained a parable, the name of some unknown person would have been selected, and not that of a prophet to whom a definite historical existence is assigned in the Old Testament. On perusing the first sentence, every unprejudiced reader must conclude that there had existed such a prophet, and that what follows is a simple narrative of facts. The formula (wayehi debar-Yehowah…le’mor) is so appropriated, as the usual introduction to real prophetical communication, that to put any other construction upon it would be a gross violation of one of the first principles of interpretation. Comp. 2nd Chron. 11:2; Is. 38:4; Jer. 1:4, 11, 2:1, 14:1, 16:1, 28:12, xxix. 29:30; Ezek. 3:16; Hag. 1:1, 3, 2:20; Zech. 4:8.

                Against the plenary historical character of the book, the miraculous nature of some of the transactions has been objected; but, referring for an investigation of these transactions to the commentary, and taking for granted an interposition of miraculous agency in the deliverance of the prophet, when cast into the sea, may it not be fairly asked whether there is nothing in the circumstances of the case to justify such interposition? The commission was most important in its own nature, but likewise most unusual, and confessedly most hazardous in its execution; one from which it was extremely natural for Jonah to shrink, and which required the most confirmatory evidence of its divine origin to induce him to act upon it. The miracle selected for the purpose of furnishing him with this evidence, however extra ordinary in itself, was in exact keeping with the circumstances in which he was placed; and, in so far, was parallel with those wrought in connection with the mission of Moses, Exod. 3, 4; of Elijah, 1st Kings 17; and of Christ and his apostles. And it is undeniable, that most of the writers who have called it in question, have either flatly denied the existence of all Scripture miracles, or attempted, in some way or other, to account for them on mere natural principles. The same mode of reasoning which goes to set aside one, will, if fully carried out, go to set aside all.

                That our prophet is the same who predicted the restoration of the ancient boundaries of the kingdom of the ten tribes, 2nd Kings 14:25, is rendered certain by identity of name, parentage and office; and as that prediction received its accomplishment in the reign of Jeroboam II, it is obvious he must at least have been contemporary with the monarch, if he did not flourish at a still more early period. He is justly considered to have been one of the most ancient of all the Hebrew prophets whose writings are contained in the canon.

                Whether Jonah composed the book himself, or whether it was written at a more recent period, has been matter of dispute. Of the circumstance, that he is spoken of in the third person, no account is to be made, since it is a style of writing frequently adopted by the sacred penmen, as it also is by profane authors. Nor can the occurrence of two or three Chaldee words, as (sephinah, a ship, `isheth to think, ta`am, command), be justly objected against the early authorship; for the prophet must have had considerable intercourse with persons who spoke foreign languages, which could not but exert some influence on his style. With respect to (sephinah), as it is also the Syriac (spiynea) and Arabic (sufayneh), there is every reason to conclude that it was the nautical term in use among the Phoenicians, and so might have been adopted at an early period into all the cognate dialects, though they had other words by which to express the same thing. The use of the compound particles (shelemi) and (busheli) does not necessarily argue a late date, since there was nothing to prevent their being appropriated under the circumstances of the prophet, just as they came to be adopted, under somewhat similar circumstances, by other writers. The employment of (she) the abbreviated form of (‘asher), in Judges 5:7, is an undeniable example of its adoption at an early period; and it is indeed very doubtful whether it be proper to regard it as a Chaldaism at all, though it is found in some portions of the Hebrew Scriptures and not in others!  It has also been alleged against the antiquity of the book, that the writer uses the substantive verb in the past tense, when describing the size of Nineveh, (wenineweh hayethah `ir-gedolah), chap. 3:3; as if the city had been destroyed before his time; but the past tense is evidently employed for the simple purpose of preserving uniformity in the style of the narrative, and, as De Wette acknowledges, ‘bedeutet nichts‘ (means nothing).

                In point of style, the book is remarkable for the simplicity of its prose: the only portion of poetry is chap. 2:3-10, which possesses considerable spirit and force, though some parts of it are evidently a repetition of certain sentences in the Psalms of David, with which the prophet appears to have been familiar.

                Of the numerous traditions, both Jewish and Christian, which profess to give us information respecting Jonah, I would say with Luther, (Das glauhe wer da will, icli glaube es nicht) (the belief of most, I think nothing). All that we learn from Scripture is, that his father’s name was Amittai, and that his birth-place was Gath-hepher ((gath hahepher), 2nd Kings 14:25; (gittah hepher), Josh. 19:13), a city in the tribe of Zebulon, from which latter circumstance it appears that he was an Israelite, and not a Jew.

                In this book the patience and clemency of God are strikingly contrasted with the selfishness and unbelief of man; and, as inserted in the canon of Scripture, it was no doubt primarily designed to teach the Jews the moral lessons, that the Divine regard was not confined to them alone, but was extended to other subjects of the general government of God; that wickedness, if persisted in, will meet with condign punishment; that God has no pleasure in inflicting such punishment, but delights in the repentance of the guilty; and that if pagans yielded so prompt a compliance with a single prophetic message, it behooved those who were continually instructed by the servants of Jehovah, seriously to reflect on the guilt which they contracted by refusing to listen to their admonitions. It has been usual to speak of

Jonah as a type of our Saviour, and numerous points of resemblance have been attempted to be established between them, to the no small injury of the blessed character of the latter: whereas, there is nothing more in the passage of our Lord’s discourse (Matt. 12), from which the notion has been borrowed, than a comparison of his own consignment to the tomb for the same space of time which the prophet spent in the belly of the fish. The record of the event in the Jewish Scriptures could never have suggested to its readers, before Christ made the reference, the subject in the anticipative illustration of which he applies it.

                Chapters:

                1: We have here an account of the prophet’s commission to preach at Nineveh, and his attempt to evade it by embarking for Spain, 1-3; an extraordinary storm by which he was baffled in his purpose; the alarm of the sailors, and the means which they adopted for their safety; the detection of Jonah; his being thrown into the sea; and his preservation in the belly of a fish, 4-17.

                2: With the exception of the first and last verses, which give an historical account of the fate of Jonah as preserved by a great fish, this chapter contains a brief but beautiful hymn of deliverance. It was in all probability composed immediately after his reaching the dry land, but embodies some of the leading topics in reference to which he called upon Jehovah during his stay in the deep.

                3: This chapt. contains an account of the renewal of the prophet’s commission, 1,2; his preaching to the Ninevites, 3,4; the universal humiliation and reformation effected by it, 5-9; and the reversal of the Divine sentence by which the city had been doomed to destruction, 10.

                4: The selfish and repining spirit of the prophet, and the means employed by Jehovah to reprove and instruct him, are here set forth.

                MICAH: Preface: According to the introductory statement, chap. 1:1, Micah was a native of Moresheth, which some take to be the same as Mareshah, ver. 15; but it is rather the town called Moresheth-Gath, ver. 14, which, according to Jerome, lay in the vicinity of the city of Eleutheropolis, to the west of Jerusalem, and not far from the border of the country of the Philistines.

                His name, (mikah), Micah, or, as it is given in full in the Chethib, Jer. 26:18, (mikaiyah), Micaiah, signifies, who is like Jehovah?

                The time at which he flourished is stated in the introduction to have been that of the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; i.e. somewhere between B.C. 757 and B.C. 699; in addition to which statement, we have a positive testimony to his having prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, Jer. 26:18, where chap. 3:12 is verbally quoted. He must, therefore, have been a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, and is not to be confounded with Micaiah the son of Imlah, 1st Kings 22:8, who flourished upwards of a hundred (100) years before the reign of Jotham.

                Hartmann and Eichhorn would refer the period of his ministry to the region of Manasseh; but their hypothesis is justly rejected by Jahn, Rosenmuller, De Wette, and Knobel, on the ground, that all the circumstances brought to view in his prophecies, perfectly harmonize with the state of things in the days of the kings whose names are here specified. The unrestrained license given to idolatry in the reign of Ahaz, will sufficiently account for the numerous gross and crying evils for which Micah reproves the Jews, without our having recourse to the atrocities perpetrated in that of Manasseh. It is true, Hezekiah issued orders, that idolatry should be put down, and the worship of the true God re-established; but there is no reason to believe that the reformation was carried out to the full extent of his wishes. The relations also of the Hebrews to the powerful empires of Assyria and Egypt, are in exact accordance with the history of the same times.

                The prophecies of Micah are directed partly against Judah, and partly against Israel; but by far the greater number are of the former description. He predicts the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, and of Samaria its capital; the desolation of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and the consequent captivity of the Jews; the restoration of the Jewish state; the successes of the Maccabees; and the advent and reign of the Messiah. He also administers reproof to different ranks and conditions of men, and furnishes some striking representations of the Divine character.

                His style is concise, yet perspicuous, nervous, vehement, and energetic; and in many instances, equals that of Isaiah in boldness and sublimity. He is rich and beautiful in the varied use of tropical language; indulges in paronomasias; preserves a pure and classical diction; is regular in the formation of his parallelisms; and exhibits a roundness in the construction of his periods which is not surpassed by his more celebrated contemporary. Both in administering threatenings and communicating promises, he evinces great tenderness, and shows that his mind was deeply affected by the subjects of which he treats. In his appeals he is lofty and energetic. His description of the character of Jehovah, chap.  7:18 -20, is unrivalled by any contained elsewhere in Scripture.

                Several prophecies in Micah and Isaiah are remarkably parallel with each other; and there is frequently an identity of expression, which can only be fairly accounted for on the ground of their having been contemporaneous writers, who were not strangers to each other’s prophecies, and their having, in a great measure, had the same subjects for the themes of their ministry. See on Isaiah 2:2-4.

                The book may be divided into two parts; the first consisting of chapters 1-5; and the second, the two remaining chapters, which are more general and didactic in their character.

                Chapters:

                1: The prophet commences by summoning universal attention, while, in sublime language, he describes the descent of Jehovah to punish the nation, 1-5; he predicts the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians, which he pathetically laments, 6-8; and then the advance of Sennacherib against Jerusalem, 9-12; concluding with an enumeration of certain towns of Judah, the inhabitants of which had more especially enjoyed his ministry, but were to share in the desolating effects of the Assyrian invasion, and ultimately, with the whole land, those of the Babylonian captivity.             

                2: Having announced the punishments which were to be inflicted upon his people for the evils in which they indulged, Micah now proceeds to specify some of these evils, 1,2; and renews his denunciations, 8-5. He then censures those who could not endure to hear the truth, but wished for predictions of good, and shows that no such predictions could reasonably be expected by them, 6-11, concluding, however, with gracious promises of restoration after the captivity, 12,13.

                3: Having inserted in the two preceding verses a gracious prediction for the comfort of the few pious who might be living in the midst of the ungodly, the prophet proceeds to expatiate at greater length against the latter, directing his discourse especially to the civil and ecclesiastical officers, who, by their example, exerted so baneful an influence upon the nation. The chapter may be divided into three parts. Ver. 1-4, an objurgation of the princes; 5-7, that of the prophets; and 8-11, that of princes, prophets, and priests together. The chapter closes with a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

                4: By a sudden transition, as at chap. 2:13, the prophet passes from his denunciation of punishment, to a description of the glorious state of the church subsequent to the restoration from the captivity in Babylon. He predicts the establishment of the kingdom of Christ upon the ruins of idolatry, and the accession of the Gentiles, 1,2; the peaceful nature of his reign, 3, and the security of his subjects, 4. He then abruptly introduces his captive countrymen, who, having been recovered to the worship of the true God, declare, that, however the idolaters around them might adhere to their several systems of creature worship, they would never renounce the service of Jehovah, 5. The Most High promises to gather even the weakest of them from their dispersions, restore their national existence, and reign over them forever, 6-8. The intermediate invasion of Judea, the captivity in Babylon, and the liberation of the Jews, are next depicted, 9-11. Upon which follows a prediction of the victories which they should gain over their enemies in the time of the Maccabees, and of the reverse which took place on the establishment of Herod by the Roman power.

                5: Having just adverted to the calamitous circumstances in which the Jews should be placed at the commencement of the reign of Herod, the prophet foretells in a very explicit manner, the birth of the Messiah, which was to take place during the lifetime of that king, 1. A prediction is then introduced respecting the final dealings of God towards the nation previous to that illustrious event, 2, on which the permanent and universal nature of the new dispensation is announced, 3. The subject of the victories of the Jews over the Syro-Grecian armies is again taken up, 4-8; and the chapter concludes with threatenings both against the Jews in the time of Micah, and the enemies by whom they were to be punished, 9-15.

                6: It was not sufficient for the prophet to predict the punishments that were to be inflicted on the Jews; he was required to press the subject upon their attention, which he does in a very affecting manner, by calling a public court, in which the inanimate creation is summoned to supply evidence, 1,2. An appeal is then made by Jehovah to the accused party, respecting his kindness to the nation from the earliest period of its history, 3-5. Convicted of guilt, the people are represented as deeply anxious to obtain, at any cost, reconciliation with God, 6,7; and are pointed by the prophet to the only source whence it was to be obtained; while, at the same time, they are reminded of the high properties and obligations of true piety, 8. He next demands attention to the threatened judgments, 9; specifies some of the crimes on account of which they were to be brought upon them, 10-12; repeats the threatening, 13; shows the blasting effects of the Divine wrath upon all their undertakings, 14,15; and traces the evil to its true source –the idolatries of the kingdom of Israel, 16

                7: Before concluding, the prophet once more reverts to the wickedness of his people, which he depicts with the darkest colors, 1-6. He then represents them in their state of captivity, brought to repentance, and confidently expecting the Divine interposition, which would be rendered the more conspicuous by the complete destruction of their enemies, 7-10. The restoration of Jerusalem, and the conversion of the hostile nations, are next predicted, 11,12; while the previous desolation of Judea is traced to the sins of the in habitants, 13. Turning to Jehovah, he prays for the undisturbed and prosperous condition of the restored nation, 14; to which a gracious response is given, 15. The overthrow of the nations hostile to the Jews, and their reverence for Jehovah, are then pointed out, 16,17; and the prophecy closes with a sublime and exulting appeal to his gracious character, 18, and an assurance that the covenant people should experience the full accomplishment of the sacred engagements into which he had entered with their progenitors, 19,20.

                NAHUM: Preface: Owing to the paucity of information respecting the prophet Nahum,

little can be said in regard to his life and times. All that we know of him personally is, that he was the native of a town or village called Elkosh, chap. 1:1.

                The only historical data furnished by the book itself with respect to the period at which he nourished, are the following: the humiliation of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, by the Assyrian power, chap. 2:3; the final invasion of Judah by that power, 1:9, 11; and the conquest of Thebes in Upper Egypt, 3:8-10. But the removal of the glory of the Hebrew kingdoms, to which reference is made, could only be that which was effected by Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser, by whom the Israelites were carried into captivity; when the Jews also were harassed and spoiled by the Syrians, as well as impoverished by the large sum of money paid by Ahaz to the former of these monarchs. See Is. 7-9; 2nd Chron. 28. Sargon, who appears to have succeeded Shalmaneser, not satisfied with the reduction of Phoenicia by that king, and fearing lest Egypt should prevail upon the conquered provinces of the west to join her in a confederacy against him, undertook an expedition into Africa; and, though history is silent as to the event, it would appear from chap. 3:8-10, that the expedition proved so far successful, that he took Thebes, the celebrated metropolis of Upper Egypt. It was by his successor, Sennacherib, that the last attempt was made by the Assyrians to crush the Jewish people, which issued in the total defeat of their army.

                Now, since the last of these events took place in the fourteenth (14th) year of Hezekiah, and the circumstances connected with it are clearly referred to by Nahum, partly prophetically, and partly as matter of historical notoriety, chap. 1:9-13, it follows that he must have lived in, or about the year B.C. 714. Jarchi, Abarbanel, Grotius, Junius and Tremelius, and Justi, place him in the reign of Manasseh, and some, as Ewald, would make him contemporary with Josiah; but Bp. Newton, Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Rosenmuller, Newcome, Home, Gesenius, de Wette, Jahn, Gramberg, Winer, Maurer, and Knobel, unanimously agree with Jerome in referring his ministry to the latter half of the reign of Hezekiah. Neither the opinion of Josephus, that he foretold the destruction of Nineveh in the reign of Jotham, nor that of Clement of Alexandria, that he lived between Daniel and Ezekiel, has met with any supporters. But if, as is highly probable, he flourished in one of the latter years of Hezekiah, his prophecy must have been delivered nearly one hundred (100) years before its accomplishment; for Nineveh was overthrown, and the Assyrian power destroyed, by the joint forces of Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, in the reign of Chyniladanus, B.C. 625.

                Considerable difference of opinion obtains with respect to the birth-place of the prophet. That (ha’elqoshi), the Ellcoshite, was designed to point out the place of his nativity, and not his paternity, as the Targumist interprets, is evident from a comparison of the form with similar instances of the Yod affixed, 1st Kings 17:1; Jer. 29:27; Micah 1:1. There are two cities of the name of Elkosh, each of which has had its advocates, as that which may lay claim to the honor of having given birth to Nahum. The one, (Arabic & Aramaic: alqosh or alqush), Elkosh, is situated in Koordistan, on the east side of the Tigris, about three hours’ journey to the north of Mosul, which lies on the same side of the river, opposite to Nunia, supposed to be the site of ancient Nineveh. It is inhabited by Chaldean or Nestorian Christians, and is a place of great resort by Jewish pilgrims, who firmly believe it to be the birth-place and the burial-place of the prophet, to whose tomb they pay special respect. It is, however, generally thought that the tradition which connects this place with his name is of later date; and that it owes its origin to the Jews or the Nestorians, who imagined that he must have lived near the principal scene of his prophecy; and that the name had been transferred to the place from a town so called in Palestine just as our colonists have given the name of towns in Britain to those which they have erected in America and Australia. The other place is Elcesi, or Elkesi, a village in Galilee, which was pointed out to Jerome as a place of note among the Jews, and which, though small, still exhibited some slight vestiges of more ancient buildings. (See Jerome’s Preface to Nahum.) Eusebius mentions it in his account of Hebrew places; and Cyrill (ad cap. 1:1,) is positive as to its situation being in Palestine. It has been thought, and not without reason, by some, that Capernaum, Heb. (kephar naum), most properly rendered the village of Nahum, derived its name from our prophet having resided in it, though he may have been born elsewhere in the vicinity, just as it is said to have been (hē idia polis) of our Lord, though he was born at Bethlehem.

                Where the prophet was when he delivered his predictions, is not specified; but, from his familiar reference to Lebanon, Carmel, and Bashan, it may be inferred that he prophesied in Palestine; while the very graphic manner in which he describes the appearance of Sennacherib and his army, chap. 1:9-12, would seem to indicate that he was either in, or very near to Jerusalem at the time. What goes to confirm this supposition, is the number of terms, phrases, etc., which he evidently borrowed from the lips of Isaiah. Comp. (sheteph `ober kalah ya`aseh), 1:8, and (kaleh hu’ `oseh), ver. 9, with (shataph we`abar), Is. 8:8, and (kalah `oseh), Is. 10:23; (buqeh mebuqah umebulqah), 2:11, with (boqeq ha’aretz ubulqah) Is. 24:1; (wechalchalah bekal-mathnayim), 2:11, with (male’u methnai chalchalah), Is. 21:3; (hinneh `al-heharim ragley mebaser mashmia` shalom), 2:1, with (mebaser mashmia` shalom mah-n’wu  `al-heharim ragley),Is. 52:7, etc.

                The subject of the prophecy is the destruction of Nineveh, which Nahum introduces, after having in the first (1st) chapter, and at the beginning of the second (2nd), depicted the desolate condition to which, in the righteous providence of God, the country of the ten (10) tribes had been reduced by the Assyrian power; the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, whose destruction, and that of his army, he predicts; and the joyful restoration of both the captivities to their own land, and the enjoyment of their former privileges. His object obviously was, to inspire his countrymen with the assurance, that, however alarming their circumstances might appear, exposed as they were to the formidable army of the great eastern conqueror, not only should his attempt fail, and his forces be entirely destroyed, but his capital itself should be taken, and his empire overturned. The book is not to be divided into three separate parts, or prophecies, composed at different times, as some have imagined, but is to be regarded as one entire poem, the unity of which is plainly discoverable throughout.

                The style of Nahum is of a very high order. He is inferior to none of the minor prophets, and scarcely to Isaiah himself, in animation, boldness, and sublimity; or, to the extent and proportion of his book, in the variety, freshness, richness, elegance, and force of his imagery. The rhythm is regular and singularly beautiful; and with the exception of a few foreign or provincial words, his language possesses the highest degree of classical purity. His description of the Divine character at the commencement is truly majestic; that of the siege and fall of Nineveh inimitably graphic, vivid and impressive.

                Chapters:

                1: The prophet opens with a sublime description of the attributes and operations of Jehovah, with a view to inspire his people with confidence in his protection, 2-8. The Assyrians are then unexpectedly addressed and described, 9-11; and their destruction, together with the deliverance of the Jews connected with that event, are set forth in the language of triumph and exultation, 12-15.

                2: After prophetically describing the joyful announcement of the overthrow of the Assyrian power, 1; and calling upon the Jews manfully to defend Jerusalem against the attack of Sennacherib, in the assurance that there would be a glorious restoration of the whole Hebrew people, 2,3; the prophet arrives at his main subject, the destruction of Nineveh, the siege and capture of which he portrays with graphic minuteness, and in the most sublime and vivid manner, 4-11. In a beautiful allegory he then, with triumphant sarcasm, asks where was now the residence of the once conquering and rapacious monarch? 12,13; after which, Jehovah is introduced, expressly declaring that he would assuredly perform what he had inspired his servant to predict.

                3: The prophet, resuming his description of the siege of Nineveh, 1-3, traces it to her idolatry as its cause, 4, and repeats the divine denunciations which he had introduced chap. ii. 13, ver. 5-7. He then, to aggravate her misery, points her to the once formidable and celebrated, but now conquered and desolate Thebes, 8-10, declaring that such should likewise be her fate, 11-13; calls upon her sarcastically to make every preparation for her defense, but assuring her that it would be of no avail, 14,15; and concludes by contrasting with the number of merchants, princes, and generals, which she once possessed, the miserable, remediless state of ruin to which she was to be reduced, 16-19.

                HABAKKUK: Preface: Of the prophet Habakkuk, we possess no information but what is purely apocryphal. The position of Delitzsch, founded upon the subscription, chap, iii. 19, that he was of the tribe of Levi, and engaged in the temple service, is too precarious to warrant its adoption. The statement made in the inscription to Bel and the Dragon in the LXX, which has been preserved from the Tetrapla of Origen, in the Codex Chisianus, (ek prophēteias Ambakoum huiou Iēsou ek tēs phulēs Leui), may be nothing more than conjecture. Considerable difference of opinion obtains respecting the time at which he flourished –the Rabbins; Grotius, Kalinsky, Kofod, Jahn, and Wahl, placing him in the first years of Manasseh; Friedrich, De Wette, Bertholdt, Justi, and Wolf, in the period of the exile; while Usher, Newcome, Eichhorn, Home, Winer, Maurer, and Ewald, are of opinion that he prophesied in the reign of Jehoiachin, about 608-604 before Christ. This last hypothesis seems best supported, since the Chaldeans are spoken of chap. 1:5,6, as being upon the point of invading Judah, but not as having actually entered it. The position of Rosenmuller, that chap. 1 was composed under Jehoiakim, chap. 2 under Jehoiachin, and chap. 3 under Zedekiah, is altogether gratuitous. The whole forms one prophecy, and does not admit of being thus dissected.

                The book embraces the wickedness of the Jews which demanded the infliction of punishment, the infliction of this punishment by the Chaldeans, the destruction of the latter in their turn, and an ode composed by the prophet in anticipation of the consequent deliverance of his people. Its position immediately after Nahum is most appropriate, setting forth the judgments of God inflicted by and upon the Chaldeans, just as the latter treated of those to be inflicted upon the Assyrians. The two prophets take up separately what Isaiah had expatiated upon at large.

                In point of general style, Habakkuk is universally allowed to occupy a very distinguished place among the Hebrew prophets, and is surpassed by none of them in dignity and sublimity. Whatever he may occasionally have in common with previous writers, he works up in his own peculiar manner, and is evidently no servile copyist or imitator. His figures are well chosen, and fully carried out. His expressions are bold and animated; his descriptions graphic and pointed. The parallelisms are for the most part regular and complete. The lyric ode contained in chap. 3 is justly esteemed one of the most splendid and magnificent within the whole compass of Hebrew poetry. See the introduction to that chapter.

                The words (megammah), 1:9 (`abtit), 2:6, and (qiqalon), 2:16, are peculiar to this prophet.

                Chapters:

                1: The prophet commences by briefly, yet emphatically and pathetically, setting forth the cause of the Chaldean invasion, which was to form the burden of his prophecy –the great wickedness which abounded in the Jewish nation at the time he flourished, 2-4. He then introduces Jehovah summoning attention to that invasion as the awful punishment of such wickedness, 5; describes, in a very graphic manner, the appearance, character, and operations of the invaders, 6-11; and then, by a sudden transition, expostulates with God, on account of the severity of the judgment, which threatened the annihilation of the Jewish people, 12-17.

                2: This chapter contains an introductory statement respecting the waiting posture in which the prophet placed himself, in order to obtain a divine revelation in reference to the fate of his people and of the Chaldeans, their oppressors, 1; a command which he received to

commit legibly to writing the revelation which was about to be made to him, 2; an assurance, that though the prophecy should not be fulfilled immediately, yet it would certainly be at length accomplished, 3; and a contrasted description of the two different classes of the Jews to whom it was to be communicated, 4. The insolence of the Chaldeans, and their insatiable lust of conquest, are next set forth, 5; on which the proper (masa‘), sentence, or prophetical denunciation, commences, in the form of a taunt on the part of the nations, in which they anticipate the downfall of that hostile power, 6-8; and the punishment of its rapacity, 9-11; of its cruelty and injustice, with a special view to the universal spread of true religion, 12-14; of its wanton and sanguinary wars, 15-17, and of its absurd and fruitless idolatry, 18,19. The last verse of the chapter beautifully contrasts with the two preceding, by representing Jehovah as the only God, entitled to universal submission and homage.

                3: Though forming a, distinct whole, this chapter is intimately connected with the two preceding, the subjects contained in which it presupposes, and is evidently designed to afford consolation to the Jews during the national calamities there anticipated. It exhibits a regular ode beginning with a brief but simple and appropriate exordium; after which follows the main subject, which is treated in a manner perfectly free and unrestrained, as the different topics rose one after another in the powerfully excited mind of the prophet; and finishes with an epigrammatic resumption of the point first adverted to in the introduction, and the practical lesson which the piece was intended to teach,

                With respect to the body of the ode, interpreters are greatly divided in opinion. The Fathers generally, and after them many Catholic commentators, arid among Protestants, Cocceius, Bengel, Roos, and others, apply the whole chapter, with certain modifications, to New Testament times, and subject it to all the uncertainty of imaginary interpretation. But the principal point of disagreement relates to the theophania, or Divine interposition, so sublimely set forth, ver. 3-15. According to the Targum, Abarbanel, Abenezra, Tarnovius, Munster, Clarius, Drusius, Schnurrer, Herder, Michaelis, Green, Lowth, Tingstadius, Eichhorn, Justi, Hesselberg, Ackermann, and Ewald, the prophet adverts to the wonderful displays of the power and majesty of God during the early history of the Hebrews. Maurer, Hitzig, and Delitzsch, on the other hand, contend that the future interposition of Jehovah for the destruction of the Chaldeans, is what, he exclusively contemplates. The last-mentioned author has not only gone at great length, and with much minuteness into the subject, but appears to have exhausted all his critical and exegetical ingenuity in his attempt to establish his hypothesis. Taking for granted that (yabo‘), ver. 3, cannot, by any possibility, be construed otherwise than to express the strict futurity of the advent predicated, he proceeds to show, from what he considers to be the organic structure of the ode; from the connection of (shama`etti) and (wattirgau) ver. 16; and from certain features of the picture itself, that what he calls the lyric-prophetical view is alone to be admitted. I must, however, confess, that after a careful examination of his arguments, I can discover nothing in them that goes to overturn the historical position adopted by the numerous writers above mentioned. That nothing in the shape of a regular and specific recital of distinct facts is exhibited in the tableau, cannot fairly be urged against this interpretation, since such a recital would ill accord with the enthusiasm and impetuosity which are so characteristic of the ode as a species of poetry. The abrupt and rapid transitions of the prophet did not admit of more than a slight, though sublimely figurative allusion, to one or two localities, which it was necessary to specify, in order to call up the general scene of events to the mind of the reader: all the rest is left to be supplied by his familiar acquaintance with the sacred national records. “What he aims at is to produce a powerful impression by condensing, within the shortest possible limits, a view of the magnalia Dei, as exhibited in these records. And this he does by giving utterance to the total impression which they produced upon his own mind, rather than by furnishing a detailed historical description. Regarding the composition in this light, the obscurity and apparent incoherence which attach to certain parts of it are at once accounted for.

                As parallels to this ode, we may adduce Deut. 33:2-5; Jud. 5:4,5; Ps. 68:7,8; 77:13-20, 94; Is. 63:11-14. That the Holy Spirit availed himself, so to speak, of some of these passages in presenting the subject to the view of the prophet, there can, I think, be little doubt. The agreement in point of phraseology, especially as it respects Ps. 77 is most palpable. Some, indeed, have maintained the priority of our ode to the Psalm; but Delitzsch has proved, by an elaborate collation of passages and expressions, that this hypothesis is entirely without foundation, and that Habakkuk had the Psalm brought to his mind, just as he had the song of Moses called up to his recollection.

                The following description of this sublime ode, by the master pen of Bishop Lowth, is not more beautiful than just: “The prophet, indeed, illustrates this subject throughout with equal magnificence; selecting from such an assemblage of miraculous incidents, the most noble and important, displaying them in the most splendid colors, and embellishing them with the sublimest imagery, figures, and diction, the dignity of which is so heightened and recommended by the superior elegance of the conclusion, that were it not for a few shades, which the hand of time has apparently cast over it in two or three passages, no composition of the kind, would, I believe, appear more elegant or more perfect than this poem.” Lect. xxviii. Whether the hand of time has really cast any shades over it will appear in the sequel.

                That it was designed for use in public worship, appears both from the inscription and the subscription, as well as from the musical term (selah), Selah, occurring verses 3, 9, 13.

                The chapter begins with the title and introduction, ver. 1,2. Habakkuk then represents Jehovah as appearing in glorious majesty on Sinai, 3,4; describes the ravages of the plague in the desert, 5; the consternation into which the nations were thrown by the victorious approach of the Hebrews to Canaan, and their wars with the inhabitants, 6-10; specially refers to the celestial phenomenon at Gibeon, 11; and then sets forth the auspicious results of the interposition of God on behalf of his people, 12-15. The prophet concludes by resuming the subject of the introduction, 16; and strongly asserting his unshaken confidence in God in the midst of anticipated calamity, 17-19.

                ZEPHANIAH: Preface: All that we know of Zephaniah is furnished by the title to his book, in which it is stated that he was the son of Cushi, grandson of Gedaliah, great grandson of Amariah, and great great grandson of Hezekiah. As in no other instance do we find the pedigree of a prophet carried so far back, it has not unfairly been inferred that he belonged to a family of considerable respectability. Whether, however, the Hezekiah there mentioned were the king of that name, or some other person of note so called, cannot be determined with certainty. The circumstance that the words, “king of Judah,” are not added to the proper name, rather militates against the position that he was descended from that monarch, since this addition always occurs when primary reference is made to any of the Jewish kings; and, what is specially to the present point, when such reference is made to Hezekiah. See Prov. 25:1; Is. 38:9. The number of generations also forms an objection against the hypothesis, since it is scarcely possible to make room for them in the short space of time which elapsed between Hezekiah and Josiah.

                As our prophet is stated, chap. 1:1, to have received his prophecies in the days of Josiah, he must have flourished between the years B.C. 642, and B.C. 611. This statement is corroborated by certain circumstances in the book itself. For instance, he predicts the fall of Nineveh, and the overthrow of the Assyrian empire; consequently he must have prophesied prior to the year B.C. 625, when these events took place; i.e., in the former half of the reign of Josiah. The mention, too, of the destruction of “the remnant of Baa?,” chap. 1:4, evidently implies, that the abolition of idolatry had been carried on to a considerable extent, but had not yet been completed. Now this exactly tallies with the state of things in Judah from the twelfth (12th) to the eighteenth (18th) year of Josiah; for though this monarch began, in the former of these years, to effect a reformation, it was not till the latter that it was prosecuted with more successful results. If, therefore, we suppose that Zephaniah delivered his predictions between these two terms, we shall not be wide of the mark. To the objection, that no mention is made of him or his labors in the historical books, which we might expect on the ground of the valuable service he must have rendered to the zealous monarch, it is sufficient to reply, that the same objection would lie against the prophetical existence of Jeremiah at the same period, though we know that he then flourished at Jerusalem, under the very eye of his sovereign. The mention made of “the king’s sons,” chap. 1:8, cannot be urged in favor of a later date; for it is altogether uncertain whether we are not to understand by the phrase the princes of the royal house generally, or such of the royal children as should be alive at the time of the fulfilment of the prophecy. The connection and manner in which they are introduced favor the latter construction.

                The predictions contained in the book are chiefly directed against the Jews, on account of their idolatry, and other sins of which they were guilty. The awful judgments to be executed upon them and the neighboring nations by the Chaldeans are denounced with great force and effect. Hitzig, indeed, has recently revived the opinion advocated by Cramer and Eichhorn, that the invasion of these countries by the Scythians, about the year B.C. 630, whose incursion into Western Asia is described by Herodotus, i. 102, is what the prophet has in his eye; but the Jews appear to have been so little affected by their progress, that it by no means corresponds to that of the enemy described by Zephaniah, in the course of which not only Judea, but the adjacent countries were to be entirely laid waste. His predictions received their accomplishment during the successes of Nebuchadnezzar. Towards the close of the book the restoration and prosperity of the Jewish people are introduced.

                In respect to style, Zephaniah is not distinguished either for sublimity or elegance. His rhythm frequently sinks down into a kind of prose; but many of the censures that have been passed upon his language are either without foundation, or much exaggerated. In point of purity it rivals that of any of the prophets. He has much in common with his contemporary Jeremiah, and some, after Isidore, have regarded him as his abbreviator. A careful comparison of the two, however, proves the futility of this hypothesis. Occasionally he borrows the language of former prophets. Comp. chap. 2:14, with Is. 13:21,  34:11; chap. 2:15, with Is. 42:8.

                Chapters:

                1: The prophet begins by announcing the universality of the judgments which God was about to bring upon the land, 2,3; specifies the different classes of transgressors whose conduct had merited the infliction of these judgments, 4-6; and calls attention to the speedy approach, and the features of the period of punishment, which he intermingles with further descriptions of the character of the ungodly, 7-13. He then dwells upon the awfully calamitous nature of the visitation, and points out the impossibility of escape, 14-18.

                2: A solemn admonition is now given to the Jewish people to repent during the short space of time that would be allotted to them before the Chaldean invasion, 1,2; followed by an exhortation to the pious to persevere in their devotedness to God, and the interests of righteousness. 3. The prophet then proceeds to foretell the destruction of those nations which had always been hostile to the Jews, as the Philistines, 4-7; the Moabites and Ammonites, 8-10; parenthetically, the idols of the nations, 11; the Ethiopians, 12; and the Assyrians, 13-15.

                3: Having digressed to predict the fate of the surrounding nations, Zephaniah returns to his own countrymen, and specially directs his prophecy against Jerusalem, the leading persons in which had persevered in wickedness in spite of all the warnings which they had received. 1-7. After addressing the pious members of the theocracy, and encouraging them to wait for the development of the Divine purposes, 8, he proceeds to predict the conversion of the Gentiles, 9, and of the Jews, 10; describes their character when converted, 11-13; congratulates them on their deliverance, and enjoyment of the presence of their heavenly King, 14-17; and concludes by adverting to the circumstances connected with their return to Palestine after their conversion, 18-20.

                HAGGAI: Preface: It Is generally thought that the prophet Haggai was among the Hebrew exiles who returned with Zerubbabel, and Joshua the high priest, from Babylon in the year B.C. 536, when Cyrus granted them their liberty, and ordered them to be furnished with what was necessary for the restoration of the temple at Jerusalem. His book itself vouches for the fact that he prophesied in the reign of Darius Hystaspis, who ascended the Persian throne B.C. 521. Having been interrupted in building the temple by an interdict, which the Samaritans obtained from Smerdis the usurper, the Jews became in some measure indifferent to the work; and when Darius came to the throne, an event which must have deprived the prohibition of all authority, instead of vigorously recommencing their labors, the more influential persons among them pretended that, as the prophecy of the seventy years applied to the temple as well as to the captivity in Babylon, and they were only yet in the sixty-eighth year, the proper time for rebuilding it had not arrived, and gave their whole attention to the erection of splendid mansions for themselves.

                To rouse them from their selfish indifference to the claims of religion, Haggai and Zechariah were commissioned, in the second year of Darius, i.e. B.C. 520, to deliver to them rousing appeals from Jehovah. These appeals had the desired effect, and the work proceeded with vigor.

                The book is made up of five messages, which were all delivered, at successive periods, within the short space of three months. They are so exceedingly brief, that they are, not without reason, supposed to be only a summary or epitome of the original discourses.

                The style of Haggai is not distinguished by any peculiar excellence; yet he is not destitute of pathos and vehemence, when reproving his countrymen for their negligence, and exhorting them to the performance of duty. To these, the interrogatory form which he frequently adopts, in no small degree contributes. He is not without elevation when predicting the future. Certain portions of the book are purely historical; and the rest, though exhibiting more or less of the parallelism of members which characterizes the usual prophetic style, are but faintly rhythmical. The phrases, (ne’um Yehowah tzuba’oth; simu lebabkem), are frequently repeated. (ne’um Yehowah) occurs not less than thrice in a single verse, chap. 2:4.

                (kamohu ke’ain), 2:3; (‘achath me`at), 2:6;  (‘en ‘etkem) 2:16, are peculiar, and indicate the Chaldee age.

                Chapters:

                1: The prophet calls the attention of the principal civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the negligence of the people in not building the temple, 1-4; directs that of the people to this as the cause of their want of outward prosperity, 5-11; and subjoins a notice respecting the success with which the delivery of his message was accompanied.

                2: This chapter contains three different oracles of the prophet. The first, designed to encourage the people and their leaders to proceed with the building of the temple, by considerations derived from the Divine presence, 1-4; from their national covenant continuing in  force, and that of the prophetic and gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, 5; from the advent of the person and kingdom of the Messiah, 6,7; and from the universal proprietorship of Jehovah, the glory of the Messiah, and the reconciliation which he should effect, 8,9, The second oracle cautions them against intermission in their labors, by showing that if they did so, nothing they did could be acceptable to God, 11-14; and by referring them to the infelicitous state of their affairs before the late revival, 15-18; and promises them prosperity, 19. The third is addressed to Zerubbabel individually, to animate and encourage him in conducting the work.

                ZECHARIAH: Preface: Zechariah was of a sacerdotal family. His father Berechiah was a son of Iddo, one of the priests who returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua from Babylon. Neh. 12:4. When he is said to have been the son of Iddo, Ezra 5:1, 6:14, the word (ben) is used, according to a common Hebrew idiom, in the sense of grandson. He must have been born in Babylonia, and been young, rather than otherwise, at the time of his arrival in Judea. He was contemporary with Haggai, and, like him, received his prophetic commission in the second year of Darius Hystaspis, B.C. 520, only the latter began his ministry two months earlier. Both prophets were employed in encouraging Zerubbabel and Joshua to carry forward the building of the temple, which had been intermitted through the selfish and worldly spirit of the returned exiles  –a spirit which they boldly and variously reproved.

                The most remarkable portion of the book is that containing the first six (6) chapters. It consists of a series of visions which were vouchsafed to the prophet in the course of a single night, in which, by means of symbolical representations, the dispensations of Divine Providence relative to the nations that had oppressed the Jews, the entire removal of idolatry from the latter, the re-establishment of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the certainty of the Messiah’s advent, were strikingly and impressively revealed.

                The next portion contains the seventh (7th) and eighth (8th) chapters, and contains an answer to a question which the inhabitants of Bethel had proposed respecting the observance of a certain fast, together with important ethical matter necessarily arising out of the subject.

                The remaining six (6) chapters contain predictions respecting the expedition of Alexander the Great along the west coast of Palestine to Egypt; the Divine protection of the Jews both at that time, and in that of the Maccabees; the advent, sufferings, and reign of the Messiah; the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and dissolution of the Jewish polity; the sufferings of the Jews during the dispersion; their conversion and restoration; and the sacred character of their worship, in which the Gentiles shall join, after the destruction of the wicked confederacy which will be opposed to their final establishment in Canaan.

                The authenticity of this last portion has been, and still is, strongly contested. Not only has it been denied to be the production of Zechariah, but it has been broken up into fragments, the independent authorship of which has been vindicated to as many anonymous authors. The first who ventured upon such a denial was Joseph Mede, whose opinion was adopted by Hammond, Kidder, Whiston, and Bridge, and more recently by Seeker and Newcome in this country, and on the continent by Flugge, Doderlein, J.D. Michaelis, Seiler, Eichhorn, Bauer, Bertholdt, Forberg, Rosenmuller, Gramberg, Hitzig, Credner, Maurer, Ewald, and Knobel. The authenticity, on the other hand, has been maintained by Carpzovius, Blaney, Jahn, Beckhaus, Koester, Hengstenberg, and Burger.

                The principal objection is taken to the language and character of the materials, as being very different from those which are found to distinguish what is universally allowed to have been written by Zechariah. To this, however, it has been replied, that granting such to be the case, there may have elapsed a long period of time between the composition of the former and latter portions of the book, during which any observable change in the style of the prophet might have taken place. It is evident, from there being no reference whatever in the chapters in question to the completion of the temple and the restoration of the Jewish affairs after the captivity, that, if they had not been written previously, they must have been composed long after these events had become matter of history, and in circumstances altogether different from those which occupied the attention of the prophet at the commencement of his ministry.

                That these chapters were written long before, and, indeed, during the existence of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, is a position maintained by most of those who dispute their authenticity; but it is based upon too feeble and precarious a foundation to recommend it to the adoption of any who will impartially examine into all the circumstances of the case. The mere mention of Judah and Ephraim, upon which so much stress is laid, can yield it no real support. Not the smallest hint is anywhere dropped which would lead us to infer the existence, at the time, of a separate political or religious establishment in the northern part of Palestine; nor is there anything, but the contrary, to induce the conclusion that a king reigned in Judah in the days of the author. That Ephraim should be spoken of as existing after the captivity, cannot be matter of surprise, when it is considered, that a very large, if not the larger, portion of the ten tribes availed themselves of the liberty granted by the Persians to the Jews in Babylon, and likewise returned to the land of their fathers. This view of the subject is confirmed by the application of the term “Israel” to all the tribes, chap. 12:1, just as it is used in the identical formula Mal. 1:1. Compare Mal. 2:11,12, 3:6. The few references to a return relate to those Jews which were in a state of banishment or slavery under the Graeco-Syrian and Graeco-Egyptian kings. The historical circumstances connected with the Egyptian expedition of Alexander are so strongly marked in the prophetic announcements, that they cannot without violence be identified with any previous events. The absence, too, of the slightest allusion to the Babylonish captivity, either in the way of threatening or warning, while the prophet minutely describes the character of the Jewish rulers, and the condition of the Jewish people, in immediate connection with the sufferings of the Messiah, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the consequent fate of the people, goes convincingly to show that the captivity must have taken place, and that the whole of this portion of the book has respect to times future to those in which he flourished. So strongly, indeed, has this feature of the case presented itself to Eichhorn, and other sharp-sighted critics, that, rejecting, as their neology compelled them to do, all ideas of actual prophecy, they scruple not to affirm that the disputed chapters must have been composed in the days of Alexander, Antiochus, Epiphanes, or Hyrcanus I. It also deserves notice that no reference whatever is made to the existence of royal government among the Jews, at the time the author wrote, or to any circumstances in the history of that people previous to the captivity.

                When, therefore, the difference both in regard to time and subject-matter are taken into consideration, it must be regarded as sufficient to account for any difference of style that may be detected. It is, however, after all, a question whether there really does exist such a difference in this respect, as that to which it has become so fashionable to appeal. Be it that the introductory formulas which occur in the first eight (8) chapters do not occur in the last six (6), the objection, if fully carried out, would go in like manner to dismember the Book of Amos, and assign its composition at least to three (3) different authors. The first two (2) chapters of that prophet, it may be alleged, cannot have been written by the same person that wrote the three (3) which follow, since in the former every prediction is ushered in by the marked formula, “Thus saith Jehovah,” whereas in the latter no such formula occurs, but another equally marked: “Hear ye this word.” And upon the same principle, the seventh (7th)  and eighth (8th) chapters must have come from the pen of a third writer, since the distinguishing formula there is, “Thus hath Jehovah showed me.”

                The very peculiar character of the first six chapters of Zechariah, is such as to exclude all comparison of any other portion with it, while the more adorned and poetical style of the concluding chapters, which is so admirably adapted to the subjects treated of, ought equally to be regarded as exempting them from the category of comparison. In these no dates were requisite, though they were in the former, in which they occupy their appropriate place in necessary connection with the events which transpired at the time. With respect to the titles, chap. 9:1, and 12:1, they are precisely such as might be expected to mark the strictly prophetic matter to which they are prefixed. The exactly parallel title, Malachi, 1:1, naturally suggests the idea, that they belong to a common period, especially as nothing analogous is found in any of the earlier prophets.

                On the whole, I cannot but regard the objections to the authenticity of the disputed chapters as the offspring either of a holy jealousy for the honor of the Evangelist Matthew, who attributes chapter 11:12,13, to Jeremiah, and not to Zechariah, or of a spirit of wanton and unbridled hypercriticism, which would unsettle everything, in order to satisfy the claims of certain favorite principles of interpretation that may happen to be in vogue.

                In point of style, our prophet varies, according to the nature of his subjects, and the manner in which they were presented to his mind. He now expresses himself in simple conversational prose, now in poetry. At one time he abounds in the language of symbols: at another in that of direct prophetical announcement. His symbols are, for the most part, enigmatical, and require the explanations which accompany them. His prose resembles most that of Ezekiel; it is diffuse, uniform and repetitious. His prophetic poetry possesses much of the elevation and dignity to be found in the earlier prophets, with whose writings he appears to have been familiar; only his rhythmus is sometimes harsh and unequal, while his parallelisms are destitute of that symmetry and finish, which form some of the principal beauties of Hebrew poetry.

                Chapters:

                1: In the first (1st) six (6) verses, which serve as a general introduction to the whole book, the prophet is charged to warn the Jews by the consequences which resulted from the impenitence of their forefathers, not to be backward in complying with the Divine will. We have then the first of the prophetic visions, with which Zechariah was favored, containing a symbolical representation of the tranquil condition of the world at the time, 7-11; followed by an expostulation respecting the desolate state of Judea, 12,18, and gracious promises of its restoration, 14-17. The last four verses set forth, by appropriate symbols,, in a second (2nd) vision, for the encouragement of the Jews, the destruction of the hostile powers by Which they had been attacked, at different periods of their history.

                2: In a third (3rd) vision, a man with a measuring line is represented as going forth to take the dimensions of Jerusalem with a view to its restoration to its former condition, ver. 1-3; an act which is virtually declared to be unnecessary, by the prediction that such should be the increase of the population, and such their prosperity, that the city should extend, like unwalled towns, into the surrounding localities; and that, under the immediate protection of Jehovah, walls would be altogether unnecessary, 4,5. In the faith of this prophetic announcement, and with a view to their escape from the judgment which was still about to be inflicted upon Babylon, the Jews which remained in that city are summoned to return from their captivity, 6,7; an assurance of Divine protection, and of the destruction of their enemies, is given them, 8,9; and they are cheered by the promises, that Jehovah would again make Jerusalem his residence, and effect, in connection with the restoration of his people, the conversion of many nations to the true religion, 10,12. A solemn call to universal reverence concludes the scene.

                3: In this chapter a fourth (4th) vision is described, in which Joshua the high priest is represented as occupying his official position in the Divine presence at Jerusalem, but opposed in his attempt to recommence the service of Jehovah, by Satan, who accused him of being disqualified for the discharge of his functions, ver. 1. The accusation is met by a reprimand drawn from the Divine purpose to restore Jerusalem, and the narrow escape which the priesthood had had from total extinction, 2. The guilt attaching to the high priest in his representative capacity, and its removal, is next figuratively set forth, 3-5. He has then a solemn charge delivered to him, followed by a conditional promise, 6,7 after which we have a prediction of the Messiah, as a security that the punishment of the Jews would be entirely removed, their temple completely restored, and a period of prosperity introduced, 8-10.

                4: Under the symbol of a golden candlestick is represented the pure and flourishing state of the Jewish church as restored after the captivity, 1-3. The signification of this symbol the prophet is left to find out, 4,5; only a clue is given him in the message which he was commissioned to deliver relative to the completion of the temple, in spite of the formidable difficulties which interposed, and to the Messiah who was to come after the temple was in a finished state, 6,7. He was further instructed to announce the certainty of the former event, on the ground that Zerubbabel, who superintended the work, was under the special care of Divine Providence, which should so arrange the course of human affairs as to render them subservient to the undertaking, 8-10. Under the additional symbol of two olive trees, which supplied the candlestick with the necessary oil, are represented Joshua and Zerubbabel, the two principal official persons in the new state, 11-14.

                5: The two (2) visions exhibited in this chapter are of a very different character from any of the foregoing, and were designed to furnish striking and instructive warnings to such of the Jews as might refuse to render obedience to the law of God, and might not have been thoroughly weaned from idolatry. In verses 1-4, is the description of a flying roll, presented to the view of the prophet, on which were inscribed the threatenings of the Divine law, which still remained in all their force, and were ever ready to be executed upon transgressors. In verses 5-11, the means are emblematically set forth which Jehovah had employed for the entire removal of idolatry from the Holy Land, and its abandonment to mingle with its native elements in Babylon –the land of graven images.

                6: Having warned the Jews against indulging in the evil practices which had occasioned their removal to Babylon, Jehovah now, in another vision, exhibits to their view the warlike and unsettled state of political affairs in the immediate future, during the reigns of Darius, and his successors, 1-8. Most commentators seem to have concurred in the opinion expressed by Munster: “Hasc visio est valde obscura.” The symbols are in themselves simple, consisting of four chariots drawn by horses of different colors, which issue from between two mountains of copper, and proceed in different directions with respect to the land of Palestine. That they betoken certain dispensations of Divine Providence, in reference to the nations by which the Jews were immediately surrounded, and by whose fate they were more or less affected, appears to be the most consistent position that can be assumed in interpreting them, especially as such is the application of similar symbols elsewhere in the prophetic records. The colors of the horses denote, as usual, the character of these dispensations, as either calamitous, prosperous, or mixed. Comp. chap. 1:8; Rev. 6. This vision, which is the last, is followed by a splendid prophecy of the Messiah in his co-ordinate offices of Priest and King, to typify which the symbolical action of making two crowns and placing them upon the head of Joshua, is ordained by Divine authority, 9-15.

                7: This and the following chapter are occupied with replies to questions which had been proposed for solution, relative to certain fasts which the Jews had observed, but which they supposed might no longer be binding after the restoration of their prosperity, 1-3. From this circumstance Zechariah is commanded to take occasion to reprove them for their selfish observance of the days appointed for fasting, 4-7; to enforce attention to the weightier matters of the law, 8-10: and to warn them, by placing before them the rebellious conduct of their fathers, and the punishment with which it had been visited, 11-14.

                8: This chapter is a continuation of the subject introduced and treated of in the preceding. Having shown the awful consequences of disregarding the Divine will, which had been clearly announced by the prophets, God promises the renewal of his favor towards those who had returned from the captivity. Restored to purity, 3, Jerusalem should enjoy security and prosperity to a degree far exceeding the conceptions of those whom the prophet addressed, 4-6. Those who were still in heathen countries should be brought back, and share in the general prosperity, 7-17 The chapter closes with a direct answer to the question relating to the fasts, and a prediction of the great number of proselytes that should be made to the true religion by the display of the Divine goodness towards the Jews, 18-23.

                9: For the arguments in opposition to, and those in favor of, the authenticity of that portion of the book of Zechariah which begins with this chapter, and comprises it and the remaining chapters, see the Preface. Having in prophetic vision exhibited some of the more remarkable events connected with the continued rule of the Persians, Zechariah now proceeds to predict those which were to take place under that of the Greeks, during the military expeditions of Alexander and his successors, in so far as they had a bearing upon the affairs of the Jews. He describes the conquest of Syria after the battle of Issus, 1; and the progress of the army of Alexander along the coast of the Mediterranean, involving the capture of the principal cities of the Phoenicians and Philistines, but leaving the Jews unmolested, through the protecting care of Jehovah, 2-8. He then contrasts with the character and military achievements of that conqueror the qualities which should distinguish the Messiah and his kingdom, whom he expressly predicts, 9, 10. After which he resumes the thread of his historical discourse, and describes the wars of the Maccabees with Antiochus Epiphanes, and the victory and prosperity with which they were followed, 11-17.

                10: This chapter continues the subject with which the preceding concluded. The Hebrews are exhorted to apply to Jehovah for the constant supply of temporal blessings, 1, and are warned against an imitation of the conduct of their forefathers, who had recourse to false oracles, on account of which they and their rulers had been carried into captivity, 2,3. Promises are then made of government by rulers of their own nation, and the victorious operations of their armies, 4,5; the complete re-establishment of the theocracy, 6,7; the restoration of such of the nation as still remained in foreign countries, especially in the East, and in Egypt, 8-11; and the chapter concludes with an assurance of the security and happiness which they should enjoy under the divine protection, 12.

                11: It is obvious, from the nature of the predictions contained in this and the following chapters, that they must have been delivered at a time subsequent to the erection of the temple. As they are exclusively occupied with denunciations of evil against the Jews, with the  exception of interjected prophecies of the Messiah, and one relative to the final deliverance of the covenant people, they must have dispirited rather than encouraged those who were engaged in building the sacred edifice. It may be said, indeed, that there were many carnal and secure persons among the Jews, who required to be warned, and that the following denunciations were designed for their benefit; but, as the predictions do not relate to the times in which those persons lived, it is not conceivable how they could have so appropriated them as to derive effectual advantage from them. Besides, they contain no instances of direct address, or personal application of the truths delivered, such as we find in the other prophets when addressing themselves to their contemporaries for their immediate benefit. It may, therefore, be concluded, that they were communicated by Zechariah on some occasion or occasions of which we have no knowledge.

                The scenes here depicted lay in the more distant future. In the present chapter the prophet furnishes a bold figurative description of the destruction of the temple by the Romans, and the utter consternation into which the priests and rulers of the people should thereby be thrown, 1-3. He then describes certain symbolical actions performed by him in vision, by which he personated the Messiah who had been promised as the Shepherd of his people, setting forth his commission to teach and rule them, 4; their deplorable condition in consequence of the rapacious disposition of their leaders, 5; and the judgments that should overtake them in consequence of their wickedness, 6. Under the emblems of two (2) staves the relation of the whole nation to God, as their protector, and the relation of the different tribes among themselves are exhibited, and the cessation of these relations is pointed out by the act of breaking the staves, 7-14. The three (3) last verses set forth the character of Herod, and the judgment of God upon him for his wickedness.

                12: This chapter contains a series of predictions, which relate to the future restoration of the scattered people of the Jews, the destruction of whose national polity, and their consequent wretchedness, had been so graphically set forth in that which precedes it. On their return to their own land, Jerusalem shall prove formidable to the nations that oppose them, 2-4, having a regular government, by which, in reliance upon Jehovah, the inhabitants shall be protected, 5,-6. To prevent the inhabitants of the metropolis from glorying over their brethren in the country, the latter shall be first delivered from their invaders, 7; but Jerusalem being the principal point of attack, special promises of deliverance are made to it, 8,9. When the Jews shall have been collected, and delivered from the opposing powers, there will be a remarkable effusion of the influences of the Holy Spirit, in consequence of which a season of great and universal mourning, on account of the crucifixion of the Messiah, will be observed, each family bewailing separately the guilt entailed upon it by the nefarious deed, 10-14.

                As might be expected to be the case with unfulfilled prophecy, a considerable degree of obscurity necessarily attaches to certain portions of this and the two following chapters; but the leading features of the Divine dealings with the Jews in times yet future, are marked with a sufficient degree of distinctness to enable us to form a general idea of the circumstances in which they will be placed.

                13: This chapter contains a continuation of the prophecy respecting the future conversion of the Jews, ver. 1; predictions relating to the entire abolition of idolatry and false doctrine, 2-6; a resumption of the subject of the Messiah’s sufferings, 7; and an account of the destruction of the greater part of the Jews during the Roman war, the preservation of the rest, and their ultimate restoration, 8,9.

                14: In the first two verses of this chapter the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and the calamities consequent upon that event are set forth; after which the destruction of the forces composing the hostile army is predicted, 3. A promise of special interposition in behalf of the people of God is then given, by which effectual provision is made for their escape, 4,5. The prophet next describes a period of great calamity, which is to give place to one of unmixed and perennial happiness, 6,7; when the means of spiritual life and enjoyment shall be universal and continual, 8; and the true God the exclusive object of obedience and worship, 9; and while every barrier to the free intercourse of Christians throughout the world shall be removed, special honor will be conceded to Jerusalem as the metropolis of converted Israel, 10,11. The dreadful judgments to be inflicted on their final enemies, and the complete discomfiture of these enemies, are depicted, 12-15: after which follow predictions respecting an annual visit which all the nations shall pay to Jerusalem, 16; the punishment of those which neglect to perform it, 17-19; and the universally holy character which shall distinguish her inhabitants, their occupations and services, 20,21.

                    MALACHI: Preface: Malachi (mal’aki, Messenger), is the last of all the Hebrew prophets, but we are left in profound ignorance respecting his personal history, and can only judge of the circumstances of his times from what is contained in his book. According to the tradition of the synagogue, he lived after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and was contemporary with Nehemiah. This statement is fully borne out by the affinity of the book written by the prophet, with that written by the patriot. Both presuppose the temple to have been already built. The same condition of the Jews is described. They both condemn foreign marriages, and enforce the due payment of tithes, which had been neglected. They likewise correct abuses which had crept in with respect to the sacrifices, and reprove their countrymen for their want of sympathy with the poor.

                In all probability, Malachi occupied the same place with respect to Nehemiah, which Haggai and Zechariah did with respect to Zerubbabel. That the former was assisted in the discharge of his duties by prophets, may be inferred from the charge brought against him by Sanballat, Neh. 6:7. He may therefore be conceived of as having flourished somewhere about the year B.C. 420. His book is composed of a series of spirited castigations, in which the persons accused are introduced as repelling the charges, but thereby only affording occasion for a fuller exposure, and a more severe reproof of their conduct. Both priests and people are unsparingly reprimanded, and while they are threatened with divine judgments, encouragement is held out to such as walked in the fear of the Lord. His predictions respecting John the Baptist, the Messiah, and the destruction of the Jewish polity, are clear and unequivocal.

                Considering the late age in which he lived, the language of Malachi is pure; his style possesses much in common with the old prophets, but is distinguished more by its animation, than by its rhythmus or grandeur.

                Chapters:

                1: With a view to work a conviction of ingratitude in the minds of his countrymen, the

prophet begins by setting forth the peculiar favor which Jehovah had shown to them as a people in contradistinction to the Edomites, 1-5. He then reproaches the priests for their unworthy conduct in presenting the refuse of the animals in sacrifice, 6-8; charges them with a mercenary spirit, and threatens to reject them, and supply their place with true worshippers from among the most distant heathen, 9-11; and concludes with a renewed reprimand, and the denunciation of a curse upon those who practised deception with respect to the offerings, 12-14.

                2: The prophet continues to urge the charge against the priests, warning them that if they did not reform, they should be deprived of all enjoyment, and rendered the objects of shame and contempt, 1-4. The original institution, and the sacred nature and obligations of the priestly office, are then brought forward, with which to contrast the baseness of their conduct in violating its responsibilities; and the section closes with another threatening of punishment, 5-9. In a new section the prophet takes up the subject of divorce, and marriage with foreign women, and severely reproves the priests for the evil example which they had set in this respect, 10-16. They are finally charged with teaching immoral doctrine, 17.

                3: This chapter commences with a lucid prophecy of John the Baptist, as the forerunner of the Messiah, and of the Messiah himself, who was, as he had long been, the object of delightful expectation to the Jews, 1. The aspect of his advent in regard to the wicked, and especially to the ungodly priesthood, is next introduced, together with the severe judgments that were to be brought upon the nation, 2-6. The people are then reproved: for having withheld the legal tithes and offerings, and are promised a profusion of blessings in case of repentance, 7-12. To the infidel objection that there is no utility in religion seeing the wicked prosper, while the godly are oppressed, the prophet replies by pointing to the day of retribution, when all should be treated according to their character, which would then be fully disclosed, 13-18.

                4: Most editions of the Hebrew Bible, and most of the MSS., exhibit this concluding portion of the book as a continuation of the third chapter. Not a few MSS., however, leave a blank space before it, and several editions make a separate chapter of it. As this division obtains in all the versions, it is more convenient to retain it. The chapter continues the threatenings against the Jewish unbelievers, 1; exhibits a luminous prophecy of the Messiah, and the prosperity of his people, 2,3; and concludes with a solemn call to the Jews, to observe the institutes of the old economy, till the forerunner of the Messiah should appear, when the Jewish polity should be destroyed, and a new and better dispensation established, 4-6.

About mjmselim

Male, 68 in Oct., born in Jamaica, USA since 1961, citizen in 2002; cobbler for 40 plus years, retired, Christian since 1969; married to same wife since 1979; 6 daughters and 2 sons, with 8 grandkids. Slowly adapting to the digital world of computers and internet; hobby in digital editing.
This entry was posted in Bible & Scripture, Bible Reflections, Book of Daniel, Christian Doctrine, Christian Reflections, Minor Prophets, Prophecy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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