The Twelve Minor Prophets by Keil, Carl Friedrich, 1807-1888; Martin, James. T&T Clark. 1878.
Commentary Old Testament in Ten Vols by C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch This is Vol. X Minor Prophets. Still in Print to this date. Clarke’s Foreign Theological Library. Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament.
Introduction to Twelve (12) Minor Prophets: Exposition:
HOSEA. Introduction, Exposition:
I. Israel’s Adultery (Chap. 1-3).
Israel Adulteress, & her Children (Chap. 1:2-2:3). Chastisement of idolatrous Israel,& its Conversion & final Restoration (Chap. 2:2-23). Adulteress & her fresh Marriage (Chap. 3).
II. Ungodliness of Israel: its Punishment & final Deliverance (Chap. 4-14).
1. Depravity of Israel, & its Exposure to Punishment (Chap. 4-6:3). Sins of Israel & Visitation of God (Chap. 4). Judgment (Chap. 5-6:3).
2. Ripeness of Israel for Judgment of Destruction (Chap. 6:4-11:11). Incurableness of Corruption (Chap. 6:4-7:16). Judgment consequent upon Apostasy (Chap. 8-9:9). Degeneracy of Israel, & Ruin of its Kingdom (Chap. 9:10-11:11).
3. Israel’s Apostasy & God’s Fidelity (Chap. 12:14). Israel’s Degeneracy into Canaanitish Ways (Chap. 12). Israel’s deep Fall (Chap. 13-14:1). Israel’s Conversion & Pardon (Chap. 14).
JOEL. Introduction, Exposition:
I. Judgment of God, & Prophet’s Call to Repentance (Chap. 1:2-2:17). Lamentation over Devastation of Judah by Locusts & Drought (Chap. 1). Summons to Penitential Prayer for & Removal of & Judgment (Chap. 2:1-17).
II. Promise of God to avert Judgment, and bestow an abundant Blessing (Chap. 2:18-3:21).
Destruction of Army of Locusts, & Renewal of spiritual & earthly Blessings (Chap. 2:18-27). Outpouring of Spirit of God upon all Flesh; Judgment upon World of Nations, & Eternal Deliverance & Glorification of People of God (Chap. 2:28-3:21).
AMOS. Introduction, Exposition:
I. Approaching Judgment (Chap. 1 and 2),
II. Prophecies concerning Israel (Chap. 3-6). Announcement of Judgment (Chap. 3).
Impenitence of Israel (Chap. 4). Overthrow of Kingdom of Ten (10) Tribes (Chap. 5 and 6).
III. Sights or Visions. Visions of Locusts, Fire, & Plumb-Line. Prophet’s Experience at Bethel (Chap. 7). Ripeness of Israel for Judgment (Chap. 8). Destruction of Sinful Kingdom, & Establishment of new Kingdom of God (Chap. 9).
OBADIAH. Introduction, Exposition:
Judgment upon Edom, and Establishment of Kingdom of God upon Zion.
JONAH. Introduction, Exposition:
Mission of Jonah to Nineveh —his Flight and Punishment (Chap. 1). Jonah’s Deliverance (Chap. 1:17-4:10). Jonah’s Preaching in Nineveh (Chap. 3). Jonah’s Discontent & Correction (Chap. 4).
MICAH. Introduction, Exposition:
I. Israel’s Banishment into Exile & Restoration (Chap. 1 & 2). Judgment upon Samaria & Judah (Chap. 1). Guilt & Punishment of Israel —its Future Restoration (Chap. 2).
II. Zion’s deepest Degradation & highest Exaltation (Chap. 3-5). Sins of Leaders of Nation, & Destruction of Jerusalem (Chap. 3). Glorification of House of the Lord, & Restoration of Dominion of Zion (Chap. 4). Birth of Ruler in Israel, & His peaceful Rule (Chap. 5:2-15).
III. Way to Salvation (Chap. 6 & 7). Exhortation to Repentance, & Divine Threatening (Chap. 6). Church’s Penitential Prayer, & Divine Promise (Chap. 7).
NAHUM: Introduction, Exposition:
Judgment upon Nineveh decreed by God (Chap. 1). Conquest, Plundering, & Destruction of Nineveh (Chap. 1-2:13). Nineveh s Sins and inevitable Destruction (Chap. 2).
HABAKKUK. Introduction, Exposition:
Judgment upon Wicked (Chap. 1 & 2). Chastisement of Judah through Chaldaeans (Chap. 1). Destruction of Ungodly World-Power (Chap. 2). Prayer for Compassion in Midst of Judgment (Chap. 3).
ZEPHANIAH. Introduction, Exposition:
Judgment upon all World, & upon Judah in particular (Chap. 1). Exhortation to Repentance in View of Judgment (Chap. 2:1-3:8). Promise of Conversion of Nations & Glorification of Israel (Chap. 3:9-20).
HAGGAI. Introduction, Exposition:
Admonition to Build Temple, & its Result (Chap. 1). Glory of New Temple, & Blessings of New Era (Chap. 2).
ZECHARIAH. Introduction, Exposition:
Introductory Admonition (Chap. 1:1-6).
I. Night-Visions (Chap. 1:7-6:15).
First Vision: Rider among Myrtles (Chap. 1:8-17).
Second Vision: Four Horns & Four Smiths (Chap. 1:18-21).
Third Vision: Man with Measuring Line (Chap. 2).
Fourth Vision: High Priest Joshua in presence of Angel of the Lord (Chap. 3).
Fifth Vision: Candlestick with Two Olive Trees (Chap. 4).
Sixth Vision: Flying Roll, & Woman in Ephah (Chap. 5).
Seventh Vision: Four Chariots (Chap. 6:1-8).
Crown upon Joshua’s Head (Chap. 6:9-15).
II. Answer to Question concerning Fasting (Chap. 7 & 8).
Fast-Days of Israel, & Obedience to Word of God (Chap. 7).
Renewal & Completion of Covenant of Grace (Chap. 8).
III. Future of World-Powers, & of Kingdom of God (Chap. 9-14).
Fall of Heathen World, & Deliverance & Glorification of Zion (Chap. 9 & 10).
Israel under Good Shepherd & Foolish One (Chap. 11). Israel s Conflict & Victory, Conversion & Sanctification (Chap. 12:1-13:6). Judgment of Refinement for Israel, & Glorious End of Jerusalem (Chap. 13:7-14:21).
MALACHI. Introduction, Exposition:
God s Love, & Contempt of His Name (Chap. 1:1-2:9). Condemnation of Marriages with Heathen Women & of Divorces (Chap. 2:10-16). Day of the Lord (Chap. 2:17-4:6).
Introduction to Twelve (12) Minor Prophets:
In our editions of the Hebrew Bible, the book of Ezekiel is followed by the book of the Twelve (12) Prophets (tōn dōdeka prophētōn, Sir. 49:10; called (sheneym `asar) by the Rabbins; Chaldee, e.g., in the Masora, (thereysar = terey `asar)), who have been called from time immemorial the smaller prophets (qetannim, minores) on account of the smaller bulk of such of their prophecies as have come down to us in a written form, when contrasted with the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. (* Augustine (De civit. Dei, xviii. 29) observes: “Qui propterea dicuntur minores, quia sermones eorum sunt breves in eorum comparatione, qui majores ideo vocantur, quia prolixa volumina condiderunt.” [“The prophecy of Isaiah is not in the book of the twelve prophets, who are called the minor from the brevity of their writings, as compared with those who are called the greater prophets because they published larger volumes. Isaiah belongs to the latter, yet I connect him with the two above named, because he prophesied at the same time.”] Compare with this the notice from b. Bathra 14b, in Delitzsch on Isaiah, vol. i. p. 25, translation.] On the completion of the canon these twelve (12) writings were put together, so as to form one prophetic book. This was done “lest one or other of them should be lost on account of its size, if they were all kept separate,” as Kimchi observes in his Praef. Comm. in Ps., according to a rabbinical tradition. They were also reckoned as one book, (mono-biblos, to dōdeka-prophētōn) (see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung in d. A. T. § 156 and 216, Anm. 10ff.). Their authors lived and laboured as prophets at different periods, ranging from the ninth (9th) century B.C. to the fifth (5th); so that in these prophetic books we have not only the earliest and latest of the prophetic testimonies concerning the future history of Israel and of the kingdom of God, but the progressive development of this testimony. When taken, therefore, in connection with the writings of the greater prophets, they comprehend all the essentials of that prophetic word, through which the Lord equipped His people for the coming times of conflict with the nations of the world, endowing them thus with the light and power of His Spirit, and causing His servants to foretell, as a warning to the ungodly, the destruction of the two sinful kingdoms, and the dispersion of the rebellious people among the heathen, and, as a consolation to believers, the deliverance and preservation of a holy seed, and the eventual triumph of His kingdom over every hostile power.
In the arrangement of the twelve (12), the chronological principle has so far determined the order in which they occur, that the prophets of the pre-Assyrian and Assyrian times (Hosea to Nahum) are placed first (1st), as being the earliest; then follow (2nd) those of the Chaldean period (Habakkuk and Zephaniah); and lastly (3rd), the series is closed by the three (3) prophets after the captivity (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), arranged in the order in which they appeared. (* Compare Delitzsch on Isaiah, p. 16.*) Within the first (1st) of these three (3) groups, however, the chronological order is not strictly preserved, but is outweighed by the nature of the contents. The statement made by Jerome concerning the arrangement of the twelve prophets –namely, that “the prophets, in whose books the time is not indicated in the title, prophesied under the same kings as the prophets, whose books precede theirs with the date of composition inserted” (Praef. in 12 Proph.) –does not rest “upon a good traditional basis,” but is a mere conjecture, and is proved to be erroneous by the fact that Malachi did not prophesy in the time of Darius Hystaspes, as his two (2) predecessors are said to have done. And there are others also, of whom it can be shown, that the position they occupy is not chronologically correct. Joel and Obadiah did not first begin to prophesy under Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel, but commenced their labours before that time; and Obadiah prophesied before Joel, as is obvious from the fact that Joel (in Joel 2:32) introduces into his announcement of salvation the words used by Obadiah in 1:17, “and in Mount Zion shall be deliverance,” and does so with what is equivalent to a direct citation, viz., the expression “as the Lord hath said.” Hosea, again, would stand after Amos, and not before him, if a strictly chronological order were observed; for although, according to the headings to their books, they both prophesied under Uzziah and Jeroboam II, Hosea continued prophesying down to the times of Hezekiah, so that in any case he prophesied for a long time after Amos, who commenced his work earlier than he. The plan adopted in arranging the earliest of the minor prophets seems rather to have been the following: Hosea was placed at the head of the collection, as being the most comprehensive, just as, in the collection of Pauline epistles, that to the Romans is put first on account of its wider scope. Then followed the prophecies which had no date given in the heading; and these were so arranged, that a prophet of the kingdom of Israel was always paired with one of the kingdom of Judah, viz., Joel with Hosea, Obadiah with Amos, Jonah with Micah, and Nahum the Galilean with Habakkuk the Levite. Other considerations also operated in individual cases. Thus Joel was paired with Hosea, on account of its greater scope; Obadiah with Amos, as being the smaller, or rather smallest book; and Joel was placed before Amos, because the latter commences his book with a quotation from Joe. 3:16, “Jehovah will roar out of Zion,” etc. Another circumstance may also have led to the pairing of Obadiah with Amos, viz., that Obadiah’s prophecy might be regarded as an expansion of Amo. 9:12, “that they may possess the remnant of Edom.” Obadiah was followed by Jonah before Micha, not only because Jonah had lived in the reign of Jeroboam II, the contemporary of Amaziah and Uzziah, whereas Micah did not appear till the reign of Jotham, but possibly also because Obadiah begins with the words, “We have heard tidings from Judah, and a messenger is sent among the nations;” and Jonah was such a messenger (Delitzsch). In the case of the prophets of the second (2nd) and third (3rd) periods, the chronological order was well known to the collectors, ad consequently this alone determined the arrangement. It is true that, in the headings to Nahum and Habakkuk, the date of composition is not mentioned; but it was evident from the nature of their prophecies, that Nahum, who predicted the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, must have lived, or at any rate have laboured, before Habakkuk, who prophesied concerning the Chaldean invasion. And lastly, when we come to the prophets after the captivity, in the case of Haggai and Zechariah, the date of their appearance is indicated not only by the year, but by the month as well; and with regard to Malachi, the collectors knew well that he was the latest of all the prophets, from the fact that the collection was completed, if not in his lifetime and with his co-operation, at all events very shortly after his death.
The following is the correct chronological order, so far as it can be gathered with tolerable certainty from the contents of the different writings, and the relation in which they stand to one another, even in the case of those prophets the headings to whose books do not indicate the date of composition:
1. Obadiah: in Reign of Joram king of Judah: (889–884 B.C.).
2. Joel: in Reign of Joash king of Judah: (875–848 B.C.).
3. Jonah: in Reign of Jeroboam II of Israel: (824–783 B.C.).
4. Amos: in Reign of Jeroboam II of Israel: (810–783 B.C.) & Uzziah of Judah.
5. Hosea: in Reign of Jeroboam II of Israel: 790–725 B.C. & from Uzziah to Hezekiah of Judah.
6. Micah: in Reign of Jotham, Ahaz: (758–710 B.C.) & Hezekiah of Judah.
7. Nahum: in 2nd Half of Reign of Hezekiah: (710–699 B.C.).
8. Habakkuk: in Reign of Manasseh or Josiah: (650–628 B.C.).
9. Zephaniah: in Reign of Josiah: (628–623 B.C.).
10. Haggai: in 2nd Year of Darius Hystaspes: viz. (519 B.C.).
11. Zechariah: in Reign of Darius Hystaspes: from (519 B.C.).
12. Malachi: in Reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus: (433–424 B.C.).
Consequently the literature of the propehtic writings does not date, first of all, from the time when Assyria rose into an imperial power, and assumed a threatening aspect towards Israel, i.e., under Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, and Uzziah king of Judah, or about 800 B.C., as is commonly supposed, but about ninety (90) years earlier, under the two (2) Jorams of Judah and Israel, while Elisha was still living in the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes. But even in that case the growth of the prophetic literature is intimately connected with the development of the theocracy. The reign of Joram the son of Jehoshaphat was one of eventful importance to the kingdom of Judah, which formed the stem and kernel of the Old Testament kingdom of God from the time that the ten (10) tribes fell away from the house of David, and possessed in the temple of Jerusalem, which the Lord Himself had sanctified as the dwelling-place of His name, and also in the royal house of David, to which He had promised an everlasting existence, positive pledges not only of its own preservation, but also of the fulfilment of the divine promises which had been made to Israel. Joram had taken as his wife Athaliah, a daughter of Ahab and of Jezebel the fanatical worshipper of Baal; and through this marriage he transplanted into Judah the godlessness and profligacy of the dynasty of Ahab. He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab did. He slew his brethren with the sword, and drew away Jerusalem and Judah to idolatry (2nd Ki. 8:18, 19; 2nd Ch. 21:4-7, 11). After his death, and that of his son Ahaziah, his wife Athaliah seized upon the government, and destroyed all the royal seed, with the exception of Joash, a child of one year old, who was concealed in the bed-chambers by the sister of Ahaziah, who was married to Jehoiada the high priest, and so escaped. Thus the divinely chosen royal house was in great danger of being exterminated, had not the Lord preserved to it an offshoot, for the sake of the promise given to His servant David (2nd Ki. 11:1-3; 2nd Ch. 22:10-12). Their sins were followed by immediate punishment. In the reign of Joram, not only did Edom revolt from Judah, and that with such success, that it could never be brought into subjection again, but Jehovah also stirred up the spirit of the Philistines and Petraean Arabians, so that they forced their way into Jerusalem, and carried off the treasures of the palace, as well as the wives and sons of the king, with the exception of Ahaziah, the youngest son (2nd Ki. 8:20-22; 2nd Ch. 21:8-10, 16, 17). Joram himself was very soon afflicted with a painful and revolting disease (2nd Ch. 21:18, 19); his son Ahaziah was slain by Jehu, after a reign of rather less than a year, together with his brethren (relations) and some of the rulers of Judah; and his wife Athaliah was dethroned and slain after a reign of six (6) years (2nd Ki. 9:27-29; 11:13ff.; 2nd Chron. 22:8, 9; 23:12ff.). With the extermination of the house of Ahab in Israel, and its offshoots in Judah, the open worship of Baal was suppressed in both kingdoms; and thus the onward course of the increasing religious and moral corruption was arrested. But the evil was not radically cured. Even Jehoiada, who had been rescued by the high priest and set upon the throne, yielded to the entreaties of the rulers in Judah, after the death of his deliverer, tutor, and mentor, and not only restored idolatry in Jerusalem, but allowed them to stone to death the prophet Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, who condemned this apostasy from the Lord (2nd Ch. 24:17-22). Amaziah, his son and successor, having defeated the Edomites in the Salt valley, brought the gods of that nation to Jerusalem, and set them up to be worshipped (2nd Ch. 25:14). Conspiracies were organized against both these kings, so that they both fell by the hands of assassins (2nd Ki. 12:21; 14:19; 2nd Ch. 24:25, 26; 25:27). The next two kings of Judah, viz., Uzziah and Jotham, did indeed abstain from such gross idolatry and sustain the temple worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem; and they also succeeded in raising the kingdom to a position of great earthly power, through the organization of a powerful army, and the erection of fortifications in Jerusalem and Judah. But the internal apostasy of the people from the Lord and His law increased even in their reigns, so that under Ahaz the torrent of corruption broke through every dam; idolatry prevailed throughout the entire kingdom, even making its way into the courts of the temple; and wickedness reached a height unknown before (2nd Ki. 16; 2nd Ch. 28). Whilst, therefore, on the one hand, the godless reign of Joram laid the foundation for the internal decay of the kingdom of Judah, and his own sins and those of his wife Athaliah were omens of the religious and moral dissolution of the nation, which was arrested for a time, however, by the grace and faithfulness of the covenant God, but which burst forth in the time of Ahaz with terrible force, bringing the kingdom even then to the verge of destruction, and eventually reached the fullest height under Manasseh, so that the Lord could no longer refrain from pronouncing upon the people of His possession the judgment of rejection (2nd Ki. 21:10-16); on the other hand, the punishment inflicted upon Judah for Joram’s sins, in the revolt of the Edomites, and the plundering of Jerusalem by Philistines and Arabians, were preludes of the rising up of the world of nations above and against the kingdom of God, in order, if possible, to destroy it. We may see clearly of what eventful importance the revolt of Edom was to the kingdom of Judah, from the remark made by the sacred historian, that Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah “unto this day” (2nd Ki. 8:22; 2Ch. 21:10), i.e., until the dissolution of the kingdom of Judah, for the victories of Amaziah and Uzziah over the Edomites did not lead to their subjugation; and still more clearly from the description contained in Obad. 1:10- 14, of the hostile acts of the Edomites towards Judah on the occasion of the taking of Jerusalem by the Philistines and Arabians; from which it is evident, that they were not satisfied with having thrown off the hateful yoke of Judah, but proceeded, in their malignant pride, to attempt the destruction of the people of God.
In the kingdom of the ten tribes also, Jehu had rooted out the worship of Baal, but had not departed from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Therefore even in his reign the Lord “began to cut off from Israel” and Hazael the Syrian smote it in all its coasts. At the prayer of Jehoahaz, his son and successor, God had compassion once more upon the tribes of this kingdom, and sent them deliverers in the two kings Joash and Jeroboam II., so that they escaped from the hands of the Syrians, and Jeroboam was able to restore the ancient boundaries of the kingdom (2Ki. 10:28-33; 13:3-5, 23-25; 14:25). Nevertheless, as this fresh display of grace did not bear the fruits of repentance and return to the Lord, the judgments of God burst upon the sinful kingdom after the death of Jeroboam, and hurried it on to destruction.
In this eventful significance of the reign of Joram king of Judah, who was related to the house of Ahab and walked in his ways, with reference to the Israelitish kingdom of God, we may doubtless discover the foundation for the change which occurred from that time forward in the development of prophecy: –namely, that the Lord now began to raise up prophets in the midst of His people, who discerned in the present the germs of the future, and by setting forth in this light the events of their own time, impressed them upon the hearts of their countrymen both in writing and by word of mouth. The difference between the prophetae priores, whose sayings and doings are recorded in the historical books, and the prophetae posteriores, who composed prophetic writings of their own, consisted, therefore, not so much in the fact that the former were prophets of “irresistible actions,” and the latter prophets of “convincing words” (Delitzsch), as in the fact that the earlier prophets maintained the right of the Lord before the people and their civil rulers both by word and deed, and thereby exerted an immediate influence upon the development of the kingdom of God in their own time; whereas the later prophets seized upon the circumstances and relations of their own times in the light of the divine plan of salvation as a whole, and whilst proclaiming both the judgments of God, whether nearer or more remote, and the future salvation, predicted the onward progress of the kingdom of God in conflict with the powers of the world, and through these predictions prepared the way for the revelation of the glory of the Lord in His kingdom, or the coming of the Saviour to establish a kingdom of righteousness and peace. This distinction has also been recognised by G.F. Oehler, who discovers the reason for the composition of separate prophetical books in the fact, that “prophecy now acquired an importance which extended far beyond the times then present, inasmuch as the consciousness was awakened in the prophets’ minds with regard to both kingdoms, that the divine counsels of salvation could not come to fulfilment in the existing generation, but that the present form of the theocracy must be broken to pieces, in order that, after a thorough judicial sifting, there might arise out of the rescued and purified remnant the future church of salvation;” and who gives this explanation of the reason for committing the words of the prophets to writing, that “it was in order that, when fulfilled, they might prove to future generations the righteousness and faithfulness of the covenant God, and that they might serve until then as a lamp to the righteous enabling them, even in the midst of the darkness of the coming times of judgment, to understand the ways of God in His kingdom.” All the prophetical books subserve this purpose, however great may be the diversity in the prophetical word which they contain, –a diversity occasioned by the individuality of the authors and the special circumstances among which they lived and laboured. For the exegetical writings on the Minor Prophets, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p.273ff.
HOSEA. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of Prophet.
2. Times of Prophet.
3. Book of Hosea. Called as he was at such a time as this to proclaim to his people the word of the Lord, Hosea necessarily occupied himself chiefly in bearing witness against the apostasy and corruption of Israel, and in preaching the judgment of God. The ungodliness and wickedness had become so great, that the destruction of the kingdom was inevitable; and the degenerate nation was obliged to be given up into the power of the Assyrians, the existing representatives of the heathen power of the world. But as God the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he should turn and live, He would not exterminate the rebellious tribes of the people of His possession from the earth, or put them away for ever from His face, but would humble them deeply by severe and long-continued chastisement, in order that He might bring them to a consciousness of their great guilt and lead them to repentance, so that He might at length have mercy upon them once more, and save them from everlasting destruction. Consequently, even in the book of Hosea, promises go side by side with threatenings and announcements of punishment, and that not merely as the general hope of better days, kept continually before the corrected nation by the all-pitying love of Jehovah, which forgives even faithlessness, and seeks out that which has gone astray (Sims.), but in the form of a very distinct announcement of the eventual restoration of the nation, when corrected by punishment, and returning in sorrow and repentance to the Lord its God, and to David its king (Hos. 3:5), –an announcement founded upon the inviolable character of the divine covenant of grace, and rising up to the thought that the Lord will also redeem from hell and save from death, yea, will destroy both death and hell (Hos. 13:14). Because Jehovah had married Israel in His covenant of grace, but Israel, like an unfaithful wife, had broken the covenant with its God, and gone a whoring after idols, God, by virtue of the holiness of His love, must punish its unfaithfulness and apostasy. His love, however, would not destroy, but would save that which was lost. This love bursts out in the flame of holy wrath, which burns in all the threatening and reproachful addresses of Hosea. In this wrath, however, it is not the consuming fire of an Elijah that burns so brightly; on the contrary, a gentle sound of divine grace and mercy is ever heard in the midst of the flame, so that the wrath but gives expression to the deepest anguish at the perversity of the nation, which will not suffer itself to be brought to a consciousness of the fact that its salvation rests with Jehovah its God, and with Him alone, either by the severity of the divine chastisements, or by the friendliness with which God has drawn Israel to Himself as with cords of love. This anguish of love at the faithlessness of Israel so completely fills the mind of the prophet, that his rich and lively imagination shines perpetually by means of changes of figure and fresh turns of thought, to open the eyes of the sinful nation to the abyss of destruction by which it is standing, in order if possible to rescue it from ruin. The deepest sympathy gives to his words a character of excitement, so that for the most part he merely hints at the thoughts in the briefest possible manner, instead of carefully elaborating them, passing with rapid changes from one figure and simile to another, and moving forward in short sentences and oracular utterances rather than in a calmly finished address, so that his addresses are frequently obscure, and hardly intelligible.
His book does not contain a collection of separate addresses delivered to the people, but, as is generally admitted now, a general summary of the leading thoughts contained in his public addresses. The book is divisible into two (2) parts, viz., Hos. 1-3 and 4-14, which give the kernel of his prophetic labours, the one in a more condensed, and the other in a more elaborate form. In the first part, which contains the “beginning of the word of Jehovah by Hosea” (Hos. 1:2), the prophet first (1st) of all describes, in the symbolical form of a marriage, contracted by the command of God with an adulterous woman, the spiritual adultery of the ten (10) tribes of Israel, i.e., their falling away from Jehovah into idolatry, together with its consequences, –namely, the rejection of the rebellious tribes by the Lord, and their eventual return to God, and restoration to favour (Hos. 1:2; 2:3). He then (2nd) announces, in simple prophetic words, not only the chastisements and punishments that will come from God, and bring the people to a knowledge of the ruinous consequences of their departure from God, but also the manifestations of mercy by which the Lord will secure the true conversion of those who are humbled by suffering, and their eventual blessedness through the conclusion of a covenant founded in righteousness and grace (Hos. 2:4-25); and this attitude on the part of God towards His people is then (3rd) confirmed by a symbolical picture in Hos. 3.
In the second (2nd) part, these truths are expanded in a still more elaborate manner; but the condemnation of the idolatry and moral corruption of Israel, and the announcement of the destruction of the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes, predominate, –the saving prediction of the eventual restoration and blessedness of those, who come to the consciousness of the depth of their own fall, being but briefly touched upon. This part, again, cannot be divided into separate addresses, as there is an entire absence of all reliable indices, just as in the last part of Isaiah (Isa. 40-66); but, like the latter, it falls into three (3) large, unequal sections, in each of which the prophetic address advances from an accusation of the nation generally and in its several ranks, to a description of the coming punishment, and finishes up with the prospect of the ultimate rescue of the punished nation At the same time, an evident progress is discernible in the three (3), not indeed of the kind supposed by Ewald, namely, that the address contained in Hos. 4-9:9 advances from the accusation itself to the contemplation of the punishment proved to be necessary, and then rises through further retrospective glances at the better days of old, at the destination of the church, and at the everlasting love, to brighter prospects and the firmest hopes; nor in that proposed by De Wette, viz., that the wrath becomes more and more threatening from Hos. 8 onwards, and the destruction of Israel comes out more and more clearly before the reader’s eye. The relation in which the three (3) sections stand to one another is rather the following: In the first (1st), Hos. 4-6:3, the religious and moral degradation of Israel is exhibited in all its magnitude, together with the Judgment which follows upon the heels of this corruption; and at the close the conversion and salvation aimed at in this judgment are briefly indicated. In the second (2nd) and much longer section, Hos. 6:4-11:11, the incorrigibility of the sinful nation, or the obstinate persistence of Israel in idolatry and unrighteousness, in spite of the warnings and chastisements of God, is first (1st) exposed and condemned (Hos. 6:4-7:16); then, secondly (2nd), the judgment to which they are liable is elaborately announced as both inevitable and terrible (Hos. 8:1-9:9); and thirdly (3rd), by pointing out the unfaithfulness which Israel has displayed towards its God from the very earliest times, the prophet shows that it has deserved nothing but destruction from off the face of the earth (Hos. 9:10-11:8), and that it is only the mercy of God which will restrain the wrath, and render the restoration of Israel possible (Hos. 11:9-11). In the third (3rd) section (Hos. 12-14) the ripeness of Israel for judgment is confirmed by proofs drawn from its falling into Canaanitish ways, notwithstanding the long-suffering, love, and fidelity with which God has always shown Himself to be its helper and redeemer (Hos. 12, 13). To this there is appended a solemn appeal to return to the Lord; and the whole concludes with a promise, that the faithful covenant God will display the fulness of His love again to those who return to Him with a sincere confession of their guilt, and will pour upon them the riches of His blessing (Hos. 14).
This division of the book differs, indeed, from all the attempts that have previously been made; but it has the warrant of its correctness in the three (3) times repeated promise (Hos. 6:1-3; 9:9-11, and 14:2-9), by which each of the supposed sections is rounded off. And within these sections we also meet with pauses, by which they are broken up into smaller groups, resembling strophes, although this further grouping of the prophet’s words is not formed into uniform strophes. (* All attempts that have been made to break up the book into different prophecies, belonging to different periods, are wrecked upon the contents of the book itself; single sections being obliged to be made into prophetic addresses, or declared to be such, and the period of their origin being merely determined by arbitrary conjectures and assumptions, or by fanciful interpretations, e.g., as that of the chodesh, or new moon, in ch 5:7, which is supposed to refer to the reign of Shallum, who only reigned one month.*) For further remarks on this point, see the Exposition.
From what has been said, it clearly follows that Hosea himself wrote out the quintessence of his prophecies, as a witness of the Lord against the degenerate nation, at the close of his prophetic career, and in the book which bears his name. The preservation of this book, on the destruction of the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes, may be explained very simply from the fact that, on account of the intercourse carried on between the prophets of the Lord in the two (2) kingdoms, it found its way to Judah soon after the time of its composition, and was there spread abroad in the circle of the prophets, and so preserved. We find, for example, that Jeremiah has used it again and again in his prophecies (compare Aug. Kueper, Jeremias librorum ss. interpres atque vindex. Berol. 1837 p. 67 seq.). For the exegetical writings on Hosea, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 275.
JOEL. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person & Times of Prophet Joel.
2. Book of Joel. The writings of Joel contain a connected prophetic proclamation, which is divided into two (2) equal halves (1/2) by Joel 2:18 and 19a. In the first (1st) half the prophet depicts a terrible devastation of Judah by locusts and scorching heat; and describing this judgment as the harbinger, or rather as the dawn, of Jehovah’s great day of judgment, summons the people of all ranks to a general day of penitence, fasting, and prayer, in the sanctuary upon Zion, that the Lord may have compassion upon His nation (Joel 1:2-2:17). In the second (2nd) half there follows, as the divine answer to the call of the people to repentance, the promise that the Lord will destroy the army of locusts, and bestow a rich harvest blessing upon the land by sending early and latter rain (Joel 2:19b-27), and then in the future pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-32), and sit in judgment upon all nations, who have scattered His people and divided His land among them, and reward them according to their deeds; but that He will shelter His people from Zion, and glorify His land by rivers of abundant blessing (Joel 3). These two (2) halves are connected together by the statement that Jehovah manifests the jealousy of love for His land, and pity towards His people, and answers them (Joel 2:18, 19a). So far the commentators are all agreed as to the contents of the book. But there are differences of opinion, more especially as to the true interpretation of the first (1st) half, –namely, whether the description of the terrible devastation by locusts is to be understood literally or allegorically. (* The allegorical exposition, is found even in the Chaldee, where thefour names of the locusts are rendered literally in ch. 1:4, whereas in ch. 2:25 we find hostile tribes and kingdoms instead; also in Ephraem Syrus, Cyril of Alex., Theodoret, and Jerome, although Theodoret regards the literal interpretation as also admissible, and in Abarb., Luther, and many other expositors. And lately it has been vigororusly defended by Hengstenberg in his Christology (i. p. 302 translation), and by Havenick (Introduction, ii. 2, p. 294 sqq.), who both of them agree with the fathers in regarding the four swarms of locusts as representing the imperial powers of Chaldea, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. On the other hand, Rufinus, Jarchi, Ab. Ezra, Dav. Kimchi, support the literal view that Joel is describing a terrible devastation of the land by locusts; also Bochart, Pococke, J.D. Michaelis, and in the most recent times, Hofmann and Delitzsch. *) The decision of this question depends upon the reply that is given to the prior question, whether Joel 1:2-2:17 contains a description of a present or a future judgment. If we observe, first (1st) of all, that the statement in Joel 2:18 and 19a, by which the promise is introduced, is expressed in four (4) successive imperfects with Vav. consec. (the standing form for historical narratives), there can be no doubt whatever that this remark contains a historical announcement of what has taken place on the part of the Lord in consequence of the penitential cry of the people. And if this be established, it follows still further that the first (1st) half of our book cannot contain the prediction of a strictly future judgment, but must describe a calamity which has at any rate in part already begun. This is confirmed by the fact that the prophet from the very outset (Joel 1:2-4) described the devastation of the land by locusts as a present calamity, on the ground of which he summons the people to repentance. As Joel begins with an appeal to the old men, to see whether such things have happened in their own days, or the days of their fathers, and to relate them to their children and children’s children, and then describes the thing itself with simple perfects, (yether haggazam ‘akal wgn ‘), it is perfectly obvious that he is not speaking of something that is to take place in the future, but of a divine judgment that has been inflicted already. (* “Some imagine,” as Calvin well observes, “that a punishment is hero threatened, which is to fall at some future tim e;. but the context shows olearly enough that they are mistalten and mar the prophet’s true meaning. He is rather reproving the hardness of the people, because they do not feel their plagues.” *) It is true that the prophets frequently employ preterites in their description of future events, but there is no analogous example that can be found of such a use of them as we find here in Joel 1:2-4; and the remark made by Hengstenberg, to the effect that we find the preterites employed in exactly the same manner in Joel 3, is simply incorrect. But if Joel had an existing calamity before his eye, and depicts it in Joel 1:2ff., the question in dispute from time immemorial, whether the description is to be understood allegorically or literally, is settled in favour of the literal view. “An allegory must contain some significant marks of its being so. Where these are wanting, it is arbitrary to assume that it is an allegory at all.” And we have no such marks here, as we shall show in our exposition in detail. “As it is a fact established by the unanimous testimony of the most credible witnesses, that wherever swarms of locusts descend, all the vegetation in the fields immediately vanishes, just as if a curtain had been rolled up; that they spare neither the juicy bark of woody plants, nor the roots below the ground; that their cloud-like swarms darken the air, and render the sun and even men at a little distance off invisible; that their innumerable and closely compact army advances in military array in a straight course, most obstinately maintained; that it cannot be turned back or dispersed, either by natural obstacles or human force; that on its approach a loud roaring noise is heard like the rushing of a torrent, a waterfall, or a strong wind; that they no sooner settle to eat, than you hear on all sides the grating sound of their mandibles, and, as Volney expresses it, might fancy that you heard the foraging of an invisible army; –if we compare these and other natural observations with the statements of Joel, we shall find everywhere the most faithful picture, and nowhere any hyperbole requiring for its justification and explanation that the army of locusts should be paraphrased into an army of men; more especially as the devastation of a country by an army of locusts is far more terrible than that of an ordinary army; and there is no allusion, either expressed or hinted at, to a massacre among the people. And if we consider, still further, that the migratory locusts (Acridium migratorium, in Oken, Allg. Naturgesch. v. 3, p. 1514ff.) find their grave sometimes in dry and barren steppes, and sometimes in lakes and seas, it is impossible to comprehend how the promise in Joel 2:20 –one part of the army now devastating Judah shall be hurled into the southern desert, the van into the Dead Sea, and the rear into the Mediterranean– can harmonize with the allegorical view” (Delitzsch). The only thing that appears to favour the idea that the locusts are used figuratively to represent hostile armies, is the circumstance that Joel discerns in the devastation of the locusts as depicted by him, the drawing near or coming of the day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; 2:1), connected with the fact that Isaiah speaks of the judgment upon Baal, which was accomplished by a hostile army, in the words of Joel (Joel 1:15; see Isa. 13:6). But on closer examination, this appearance does not rise into reality. It is true that by the “day of Jehovah” we cannot understand a different judgment from the devastation of the locusts, since such a supposition would be irreconcilable with Joel 2:1ff. But the expression, “for the day of Jehovah is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty does it come,” shows that the prophet did not so completely identify the day of the Lord with the plague of locusts, as that it was exhausted by it, but that he merely saw in this the approach of the great day of judgment, i.e., merely one element of the judgment, which falls in the course of ages upon the ungodly, and will be completed in the last judgment. One factor in the universal judgment is the judgment pronounced upon Babylon, and carried out by the Medes; so that it by no means follows from the occurrence of the words of Joel in the prophecy of Isaiah, that the latter put an allegorical interpretation upon Joel’s description of the devastation by the locusts. But even if there are no conclusive indications or hints, that can be adduced in support of the allegorical interpretation, it cannot be denied, on the other hand, that the description, as a whole, contains something more than a poetical painting of one particular instance of the devastation of Judah by a more terrible swarm of locusts than had ever been known before; that is to say, that it bears an ideal character surpassing the reality, –a fact which is overlooked by such commentators as can find nothing more in the account than the description of a very remarkable plague. The introduction, “Hear this, ye old men; and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land: hath this been in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children the following generation” (Joel 1:2,3); and the lamentation in v. 9, that the meat-offering and drink-offering have been destroyed from the house of Jehovah; and still more, the picture of the day of the Lord as a day of darkness and of gloominess like the morning red spread over the mountains; a great people and a strong, such as has not been from all eternity, and after which there will be none like to for ever and ever (Joel 2:2), –unquestionably show that Joel not only regarded the plague of locusts that came upon Judah in the light of divine revelation, and as a sign, but described it as the breaking of the Lord’s great day of judgment, or that in the advance of the locusts he saw the army of God, at whose head Jehovah marched as captain, and caused His voice, the terrible voice of the Judge of the universe, to be heard in the thunder (Joel 2:11), and that he predicted this coming of the Lord, before which the earth trembles, the heavens shake, and sun, moon, and stars lose their brightness (Joel 2:10), as His coming to judge the world. This proclamation, however, was no production of mere poetical exaggeration, but had its source in the inspiration of the Spirit of God, which enlightened the prophet; so that in the terrible devastation that had fallen upon Judah he discerned one feature of the day of judgment of the Lord, and on the ground of the judgment of God that had been thus experienced, proclaimed that the coming of the Lord to judgment upon the whole world was near at hand. The medium through which this was conveyed to his mind was meditation upon the history of the olden time, more especially upon the judgments through which Jehovah had effected the redemption of His people out of Egypt, in connection with the punishment with which Moses threatened the transgressors of the law (Deu. 28:38,39, 42), –namely, that locusts should devour their seed, their plants, their fields, and their fruits. Hengstenberg has correctly observed, that the words of Joel in Joel 2:10, “There have not been ever the like,” are borrowed from Exo. 10:14; but it is not in these words alone that the prophet points to the Egyptian plague of locusts. In the very introduction to his prophecy (Joel 1:2,3), viz., the question whether such a thing has occurred, and the charge, Tell it to your children, etc., there is an unmistakeable allusion to Exo. 10:2, where the Lord charges Moses to tell Pharaoh that He will do signs, in order that Pharaoh may relate it to his son and his son’s son, and then announces the plague of locusts in these words: “that thy fathers and thy fathers’ fathers have not seen such things since their existence upon the earth” (Exo. 10:6). As the basis of this judgment of God which fell upon Egypt in the olden time, and by virtue of a higher illumination, Joel discerned in the similar judgment that had burst upon Judah in his own time, a type of the coming of Jehovah’s great day of judgment, and made it the substratum of his prophecy of the judgment of the wrath of the Lord which would come upon Judah, to terrify the sinners out of their self-security, and impel them by earnest repentance, fasting, and prayer, to implore the divine mercy for deliverance from utter destruction. This description of the coming day of Jehovah, i.e., of the judgment of the world, for which the judgment inflicted upon Judah of the devastation by locusts prepared the way, after the foretype of these occurrences of both the olden and present time, is no allegory, however, in which the heathen nations, by whom the judgments upon the covenant nation that had gone further and further from its God would be executed in the time to come, are represented as swarms of locusts coming one after another and devastating the land of Judah; but it has just the same reality as the plague of locusts through which God once sought to humble the pride of the Egyptian Pharaoh. We are no more at liberty to turn the locusts in the prophecy before us into hostile armies, than to pronounce the locusts by which Egypt was devastated, allegorical figures representing enemies or troops of hostile cavalry. Such a metamorphosis as this is warranted neither by the vision in Amo. 7:1-3, where Amos is said to have seen the divine judgment under the figure of a swarm of locusts; nor by that described in Rev. 9:3ff., where locusts which come out of the bottomless pit are commanded neither to hurt the grass nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only to torment men with their scorpion-stings: for even in these visions the locusts are not figurative, representing hostile nations; but on the basis of the Egyptian plague of locusts and of Joel’s prophecy, they stand in Amos as a figurative representation of the devastation of the land, and in the Apocalypse as the symbol of a supernatural plague inflicted upon the ungodly. Lastly, another decisive objection to the allegorical interpretation is to be found in the circumstance, that neither in the first (1st) nor in the second (2nd) half of his book does Joel predict the particular judgments which God will inflict in the course of time, partly upon His degenerate people, and partly upon the hostile powers of the world, but that he simply announces the judgment of God upon Judah and the nations of the world in its totality, as the great and terrible day of the Lord, without unfolding more minutely or even suggesting the particular facts in which it will be historically realized. In this respect, the ideality of his prophecy is maintained throughout; and the only speciality given to it is, that in the first (1st) half the judgment upon the covenant people is proclaimed, and in the second (2nd) the judgment upon the heathen nations: the former (1st) as the groundwork of a call to repentance; the latter (2nd) as the final separation between the church of the Lord and its opponents. And this separation between the covenant nation and the powers of the world is founded on fact. The judgment only falls upon the covenant nation when it is unfaithful to its divine calling, when it falls away from its God, and that not to destroy and annihilate it, but to lead it back by means of chastisement to the Lord its God. If it hearken to the voice of its God, who speaks to it in judgments, the Lord repents of the evil, and turns the calamity into salvation and blessing. It was Joel’s mission to proclaim this truth in Judah, and turn the sinful nation to its God. To this end he proclaimed to the people, that the Lord was coming to judgment in the devastation that the locusts had spread over the land, and by depicting the great and terrible day of the Lord, called upon them to turn to their God with all their heart. This call to repentance was not without effect. The Lord was jealous for His land, and spared His people (Joel 2:18), and sent His prophets to proclaim the removal of the judgment and the bestowal of a bountiful earthly ad spiritual blessing: viz., for the time immediately ensuing the destruction of the army of locusts, the sending of the teacher for righteousness, and a plentiful fall of rain for the fruitful supply of the fruits of the ground (Joel 2:19, 27); and in the more remote future, the pouring out of His Spirit upon the whole congregation, and on the day of the judgment upon all nations the deliverance and preservation of His faithful worshippers; and finally, after the judgment, the transformation and eternal glory of Zion (Joe. 2:28-3:21). Here, again, the ideality of the prophetic announcement is maintained throughout, although a distinction is made between the inferior blessing in the immediate future, and the higher benediction of the church of God at a more distant period. The outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all flesh is followed, without any intervening link, by the announcement of the coming of the terrible day of the Lord, as a day of judgment upon all nations, including those who have shown themselves hostile to Judah, either in Joel’s own time or a little while before. The nations are gathered together in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and there judged by Jehovah through His mighty heroes; but the sons of Israel are delivered and sheltered by their God. Here, again, all the separate judgments, which fall upon the nations of the world that are hostile to God, during the many centuries of the gradual development of the kingdom of God upon earth, are summed up in one grand judicial act on the day of Jehovah, through which the separation is completely effected between the church of the Lord and its foes, the ungodly power of the world annihilated, and the kingdom of God perfected; but without the slightest hint, that both the judgment upon the nations and the glorification of the kingdom of God will be fulfilled through a succession of separate judgments.
The book of Joel, therefore, contains two (2) prophetic addresses, which are not only connected together as one (1) work by the historical remark in Joel 2:18,19a, but which stand in the closest relation to each other, so far as their contents are concerned, though the one (1) was not delivered to the people directly after the other (2nd), but the first (1st) during the devastation by the locusts, to lead the people to observe the judgment of God and to assemble together in the temple for a service of penitence and prayer; and the second (2nd) not till after the priests had appointed a day of fasting, penitence, and prayer, in the house of the Lord, in consequence of His solemn call to repentance, and in the name of the people had prayed to the Lord to pity and spare His inheritance. The committal of these addresses to writing did not take place, at any rate, till after the destruction of the army of the locusts, when the land began to recover from the devastation that it had suffered. But whether Joel committed these addresses to writings just as he delivered them to the congregation, and merely linked them together into one single (1) work by introducing the historical remark that unites them, or whether he merely inserted in his written work the essential contents of several addresses delivered after this divine judgment, and worked them up into one connected prophecy, it is impossible to decide with certainty. But there is no doubt whatever as to the composition of the written work by the prophet himself. –For the different commentaries upon the book of Joel, see my Introduction to the Old Testament.
AMOS. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
2. Book. Although Amos was sent by the Lord to Bethel, to prophesy to the people of Israel there, he does not restrict himself in his prophecy to the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes, but, like his younger contemporary Hosea, notices the kingdom of Judah as well, and even the surrounding nations, that were hostile to the covenant nation. His book is not a mere collection of the addresses delivered in Bethel, but a carefully planned, complete work, in which Amos, after the occurrence of the earthquake in the time of Uzziah, gathered together all the essential contents of the prophecies he had previously uttered at Bethel. It consists of a lengthy introduction (Amos 1, 2) and two parts, viz., simple prophetic addresses (Amos 4-6), and visions with short explanations (Amos 7-9). In the introduction the prophet proclaims, in the following manner, the judgment about to fall upon Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel. The storm of the Lord, which bursts upon all these kingdoms, remains suspended over the kingdom of Israel, which is mentioned last. This is evident from the fact, that the sin of Israel is depicted more fully than that of the other nations; and the threatening of judgment is couched in such general terms, that it can only be regarded as a provisional announcement, or as the introduction to the body of the book by which it is followed. The first (1st) part contains an extended address, divided into three (3) sections by the recurrence of (shim`u) (hear ye) in Amos 3:1; 4:1, and 5:1. The address consists of a “great warning to repent,” in which the prophet holds up before the sinful Israelites, especially the rulers of the kingdom, the arts of injustice and wickedness that are current among them, and proclaims a judgment which embraces the destruction of the palaces and holy places, the overthrow of the kingdom, and the transportation of the people. In Amos 3 the sin and punishment are described in the most general form. In Amos 4 the prophet sweeps away from the self-secure sinners the false ground of confidence afforded by their own worship, recals to their mind the judgments with which God has already visited them, and summons them to stand before God as their judge. In Amos 5 and 6, after a mournful elegy concerning the fall of the house of Israel (Amos 5:1-3), he points out to the penitent the way to life coupled with the repeated summons to seek the Lord, and that which is good (Amos 5: 4, 6, 14); and then, in the form of a woe, for which a double reason is assigned (Amo. 5:18; 6: 1), he takes away all hope of deliverance from the impenitent and hardened. Throughout the whole of this address Amos prophesies chiefly to the ten (10) tribes, whom he repeatedly addresses, predicting ruin and exile. At the same time, he not only addresses his words in the introduction (Amos 3:1,2) to all Israel of the twelve (12) tribes, whom Jehovah brought out of Egypt, but he also pronounces the last woe (Amos 6:1) upon the secure ones on Zion, and the careless ones on the mountain of Samaria; so that his prophecy also applies to the kingdom of Judah, and sets before it the same fate as that of the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes, if it should fall into the same sin. The second (2nd) part contains five (5) visions, and at the close the proclamation of salvation. the first two (1st & 2nd) visions (Amos 7:1-3 and 4-6) threaten judgments; the next two (3rd & 4th) (Amos 7:7-9; 8:1-3) point out the impossibility of averting the judgment, and the ripeness of the people for it. Between these, viz., in Amos 7:10-17, the conversation between the prophet and the chief priest at Bethel is related. The substance of the fourth (4th) vision is carried out still further, in a simple prophetic address (Amos 8:4-14). Lastly, the fifth (5th) vision (Amos 9:1) shows the overthrow and ruin of the whole of Israel, and is also still further expanded in a plain address (Amos 9: 2-10). To this there is appended the promise of the restoration of the fallen kingdom of God, of its extension through the adoption of the Gentiles, and of its eternal glorification (Amos 9:11-15). This conclusion corresponds to the introduction (Amos 1 and 2). Like all the nations that rise up in hostility to the kingdom of God, even Judah and Israel shall fall victims to the judgment, on account of their unrighteousness and idolatry, in order that the kingdom of God may be purified from its dross, be exalted to glory, and so be made perfect. This is the fundamental thought of the writings of Amos, who was called by the Lord to preach this truth to the nation of Israel. And just as the close of his book points back to the introduction (Amos 1 and 2), so also do the visions of the second (2nd) part correspond to the addresses of the first (1st), embodying the substance of the addresses in significant symbols. The parallel between the fifth (5th) vision and the elegy struck up in Amos 5:1 is very conspicuous; and it is also impossible to overlook the material agreement between the first (1st) and second (2nd) visions and the enumeration in Amos 4: 6-11, of the divine visitations that had already fallen upon Israel; whilst the third (3rd) and fourth (4th) visions set clearly before the eye the irrevocable character of the judgments with which careless and wanton sinners are threatened in Amos 3-6.
There is evidently no foundation for the assumption that the second (2nd) part contains “the true kernel of his work,” namely, “the addresses which Amos originally delivered at Bethel;” and that the first (1st) part, together with the introduction (Amos 1-6) and the Messianic conclusion (Amos 9:11-15), is purely a written description, composed by Amos after his return from Bethel to Judah, to give a further expansion to his original utterances (Ewald, Baur). This by no means follows, either from the fact that the account of what the prophet experienced at Bethel is inserted in the series of visions, as it moves on step by step, and that the place in which it occurs (viz., Amos 7) is evidently its original position, or from the circumstance that Amos commences his work with a saying of Joel (compare Amos 1:2 with Joe. 4:16), and evidently refers to Joel (Joe. 3:18) even in the promise at the close (Amo. 9:13). For the position of this account in Amos 7 proves nothing further than that Amos related those visions in Bethel; and the allusion to Joel simply presupposes an acquaintance with the predictions of this prophet. If there were no previous addresses, the visions in Amos 7 and 8 would have nothing to explain their occurrence, and would also be lacking in the requisite clearness. Moreover, the work of Amos in Bethel cannot possibly be limited to Amos 7-9. And lastly, the addresses in Amos 4-6 are throughout so individual, so full of life, and so impressive, that they clearly reflect the original oral delivery, even though it may be nothing more than the essential substance of what was orally delivered, that has been given here. Only Amos 1 and 2 appears to have been really conceived in the form of a written composition, and placed at the head of the book at the time when it was first (1st) compiled, although certain thoughts that had been orally expressed may lie at the foundation even there. For the exegetical writings upon Amos, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, pp. 284-5.
OBADIAH. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
As to the person and circumstances of Obadiah, nothing certain is known….
The writing of Obadiah contains but one single prophecy concerning the relation in which Edom stood to the people of God. It commences with the proclamation of the destruction with which the Lord has determined to visit the Edomites, who rely upon the impregnability of their rocky seat (vv. 1-9); and then depicts, as the cause of the divine judgment which will thus suddenly burst upon the haughty people, the evil which it did to Jacob, the covenant nation, when Judah and Jerusalem had been taken by heathen nations, who not only plundered them, but shamefully desecrated the mountain of Zion (vv. 10-14). For this the Edomites and all nations will receive retribution, even to their utter destruction in the approaching day of the Lord (vv. 15, 16). But upon Mount Zion there will be delivered ones, and the mountain will be holy. The house of Jacob will take possession of the settlement of the Gentiles, and, in common with Israel, will destroy the Edomites, and extend its territory on all sides (vv. 17-19). That portion of the nation which has been scattered about in heathen lands will return to their enlarged fatherland (v. 20). Upon Mount Zion will saviours arise to judge Edom, and the kingdom will then be the Lord’s (v. 21). This brief statement of the contents is sufficient to show that Obadiah’s prophecy does not consist of a mere word of threatening directed against Edom, or treat of so special a theme as that his chazon could be compared to Ahijah’s nebhu’ah, and Yehdi’s (Iddo’s) chazoth against Jeroboam I (2nd Ch. 9:29); but that Obadiah takes the general attitude of Edom towards the people of Jehovah as the groundwork of his prophecy, regards the judgment upon Edom as one feature in the universal judgment upon all nations (cf. vv. 15,16), proclaims in the destruction of the power of Edom the overthrow of the power of all nations hostile to God, and in the final elevation and reestablishment of Israel in the holy land foretels the completion of the sovereignty of Jehovah, i.e., of the kingdom of God, as dominion over all nations; so that we may say with Hengstenberg, that “Obadiah makes the judgment upon the Gentiles and the restoration of Israel the leading object of his prophetic painting.” Through this universal standpoint, from which Edom is taken as a representative of the ungodly power of the world, Obadiah rises far above the utterances of the earlier prophets contained in the historical books of the Old Testament, and stands on a level with the prophets, who composed prophetic writings of their own for posterity, as well as for their own age; so that, notwithstanding the small space occupied by his prophecy, it has very properly had a place assigned it in the prophetic literature. At the same time, we cannot agree with Hengstenberg, who gives the following interpretation to this view of the attitude of Edom towards the people of God, namely, that Obadiah simply adduces Edom as an example of what he has to say with regard to the heathen world, with its enmity against God, and as to the form which the relation between Israel and the heathen world would eventually assume, and therefore that his prophecy simply individualizes the thought of the universal dominion of the kingdom of God which would follow the deepest degradation of the people of God, the fullest and truest realization of which dominion is to be sought for in Christ, and that the germ of his prophecy is contained in Joe. 3:19, where Edom is introduced as an individualized example and type of the heathen world with its hostility to God, which is to be judged by the Lord after the judgment upon Judah. For, apart from the fact that Obadiah does not presuppose Joel, but vice versa, as we shall presently see, this mode of idealizing our prophecy cannot be reconciled with its concrete character and expression, or raised into a truth by any analogies in prophetic literature. All the prophecies are occasioned by distinct concrete relations and circumstances belonging to the age from which they spring. And even those which are occupied with the remote and remotest future, like Isa. 40-66 for example, form no real exception to this rule. Joel would not have mentioned Edom as the representation of the heathen world with its hostility to God (Joel 3:19), and Obadiah would not have predicted the destruction of Edom, if the Edomites had not displayed their implacable hatred of the people of God on one particular occasion in the most conspicuous manner. It is only in this way that we can understand the contents of the whole of Obadiah’s prophecy, more especially the relation in which the third (3rd) section (vv. 17-21) stands to the first two (1st & 2nd), and explain them without force.
The time of the prophet is so much a matter of dispute, that some regard him as the oldest of the twelve minor prophets, whilst others place him in the time of the captivity, and Hitzig even assigns him to the year 312 B.C., when prophecy had long been extinct. (For the different views, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, § 88)…..
All this leads to the conclusion, that we must regard Obadiah as older than Joel, and fix upon the reign of Joram as the date of his ministry, but without thereby giving him “an isolated position;” for, according to the most correct chronological arrangement of their respective dates, Joel prophesied at the most twenty (20) years after him, and Hosea and Amos commenced their labours only about seventy-five (75) years later. The calamitous event which burst upon Judah and Jerusalem, and gave occasion for Obadiah’s prophecy, took place in the latter part of Joram’s eight (8) years’ reign. Consequently Obadiah cannot have uttered his prophecy, and committed it to writing, very long before Jehoram’s death. At the same time, it cannot have been at a later period; because, on the one hand, it produces the unquestionable impression, that the hostilities practised by the Edomites were still kept in the most lively remembrance; and on the other hand, it contains no hint of that idolatrous worship to which the ruthless Athaliah endeavoured to give the pre-eminence in Judah, after the one (1) year’s reign of Ahaziah, who succeeded Joram. For the commentaries on Obadiah, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, § 88.
JONAH. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
2. Book of Jonah resembles, in contents and form, the narratives concerning the prophets in the historical books of the Old Testament, e.g., the history of Elijah and Elisha (1st Ki. 17-19; 2nd Ki. 2:4-6), rather than the writings of the minor prophets. It contains no prophetic words concerning Nineveh, but relates in simple prose the sending of Jonah to that city to foretel its destruction; the behaviour of the prophet on receiving this divine command; his attempt to escape from it by flight to Tarshish; the way in which this sin was expiated; and lastly, when the command of God had been obeyed, not only the successful result of his preaching of repentance, but also his murmuring at the sparing of Nineveh in consequence of the repentance of its inhabitants, and the reproof administered by God to the murmuring prophet. If, then, notwithstanding this, the compilers of the canon have placed the book among the minor prophets, this can only have been done because they were firmly convinced that the prophet Jonah was the author. And, indeed, the objections offered to the genuineness of the book, apart from doctrinal reasons for disputing its historical truth and credibility, and the proofs adduced of its having a much later origin, are extremely trivial, and destitute of any conclusive force. It is said that, apart from the miraculous portion, the narrative is wanting in clearness and perspicuity. “The author,” says Hitzig, “leaps over the long and wearisome journey to Nineveh, says nothing about Jonah’s subsequent fate, or about his previous abode, or the spot where he was cast upon the land, or the name of the Assyrian king; in brief, he omits all the more minute details which are necessarily connected with a true history.” But the assertion that completeness in all external circumstances, which would serve to gratify curiosity rather than to help to an understanding of the main facts of the case, is indispensable to the truth of any historical narrative, is one which might expose the whole of the historical writings of antiquity to criticism, but can never shake their truth. There is not a single one of the ancient historians in whose works such completeness as this can be found: and still less do the biblical historians aim at communicating such things as have no close connection with the main object of their narrative, or with the religious significance of the facts themselves. Proofs of the later origin of the book have also been sought for in the language employed, and in the circumstance that Jonah’s prayer in Jon. 2:3-10 contains so many reminiscences from the Psalms, that Ph. D. Burk has called it praestantissimum exemplum psalterii recte applicati. [excellent example of proper psalm application]. But the so-called Aramaisms, such as (hetil) to throw (Jon. 1:4,5, 12, etc.), the interchange of (sephinah) with (‘aniyah) (Jon. 1:5), (minnah) to determine, to appoint (Jon. 2:1; 4: 6ff.), (chathar) in the supposed sense of rowing (Jon. 1:13), (hith`ashsheth) to remember (Jon. 1:6), and the forms (beshelllemiy) (Jon. 1:7), (beshelliy) (Jon. 1:12), and (sh) for (‘asher) (Jon. 4:10), belong either to the speech of Galilee or the language of ordinary intercourse, and are very far from being proofs of a later age, since it cannot be proved with certainty that any one of these words was unknown in the early Hebrew usage, and (sh) for (‘asher) occurs as early as Jud. 5:7; 6:17, and even (shelliy) in Song of Sol. 1: 6; 8:12, whilst in the book before us it is only in the sayings of the persons acting (Jon. 1:7, 12), or of God (Jon. 4:10), that it is used. The only non-Hebraic word, viz., (ta`am), which is used in the sense of command, and applied to the edict of the king of Assyria, was heard by Jonah in Nineveh, where it was used as a technical term, and was transferred by him. The reminiscences which occur in Jonah’s prayer are all taken from the Psalms of David or his contemporaries, which were generally known in Israel long before the prophet’s day. Lastly, the statement in Jon. 3:3, that “Nineveh was an exceeding great city,” neither proves that Nineveh had already been destroyed at the time when this was written nor that the greatness of Nineveh was unknown to the contemporaries of Jonah, though there would be nothing surprising in the latter, as in all probability very few Israelites had seen Nineveh at that time. (haiythah) is the synchronistic imperfect, just as in Gen. 1:2. Nineveh was a great city of three days’ journey when Jonah reached it, i.e., he found it so, as Staeudlin observes, and even De Wette admits.
>p382-383 The doctrinal objections to the miraculous contents of the book appear to be much more weighty; since it is undeniable that, if they were of the character represented by the opponents, this would entirely preclude the possibility of its having been composed by the prophet Jonah, and prove that it had originated in a mythical legend. “The whole narrative,” says Hitzig in his prolegomena to the book of Jonah, “is miraculous and fabulous. But nothing is impossible with God. Hence Jonah lives in the belly of the fish without being suffocated; hence the Qiqayon springs up during the night to such a height that it overshadows a man in a sitting posture. As Jehovah bends everything in the world to His own purposes at pleasure, the marvellous coincidences had nothing in them to astonish the author. The lot falls upon the right man; the tempest rises most opportunely, and is allayed at the proper time; and the fish is ready at hand to swallow Jonah, and vomit him out again. So, again, the tree is ready to sprout up, the worm to kill it, and the burning wind to make its loss perceptible.” But the coarse view of God and of divine providence apparent in all this, which borders very closely upon atheism, by no means proves that the contents of the book are fabulous, but simply that the history of Jonah cannot be vindicated, still less understood, without the acknowledgement of a living God, and of His activity in the sphere of natural and human life. The book of Jonah records miraculous occurrences; but even the two most striking miracles, the three (3) days’ imprisonment in the belly of the sea-fish, and the growth of a Qiqayon to a sufficient height to overshadow a sitting man, have analogies in nature, which make the possibility of these miracles at least conceivable (see the comm. on Jon. 2:1 and 4:6). The repentance of the Ninevites in consequence of the prophet’s preaching, although an unusual and extraordinary occurrence, was not a miracle in the strict sense of the word. At the same time, the possibility of this miracle by no means proves its reality or historical truth. This can only be correctly discerned and rightly estimated, from the important bearing of Jonah’s mission to Nineveh and of his conduct in relation to this mission upon the position of Israel in the divine plan of salvation in relation to the Gentile world. The mission of Jonah was a fact of symbolical and typical importance, which was intended not only to enlighten Israel as to the position of the Gentile world in relation to the kingdom of God, but also to typify the future adoption of such of the heathen, as should observe the word of God, into the fellowship of the salvation prepared in Israel for all nations. (* The offence taken at the miracles in the book originated with the heathen. Even to Lucian they apparently presented an occasion for ridicule (see Verae histor. lib. i. § 30 sq., ed. Bipont). With regard to the three days’ imprisonment in the belly of the fish, and on the Qiqayon, Augustine in his Epist. 102 says, “I have heard this kind of inquiry ridiculed by pagans with great laughter;” and Theophylact also says, “Jonah is therefore swallowed by a whale, and the prophet remauns in it three days and the same number of nights; which appears to be beyond the power of the hearers to believe, chiefly of those who come to this history fresh from the schools of the Greeks and their wise teaching.” This ridicule first found admission into the Christian church, when the rise of deism, naturalism, and rationalism caused a denial of the miracles and inspiration of the Scriptures to he exalted into an axiom of free inquiry. From this time forward a multitude of marvellous hypotheses and trivial ideas concerning the book of Jonah have been brought out, which P. Friedrichsen has collected and discussed in a most unspiritual manner in his Kritische Uebersicht der verschiedenen Ansichten von dem Buche Jona. *)
As the time drew nigh when Israel was to be given up into the power of the Gentiles, and trodden down by them, on account of its stiff-necked apostasy from the Lord its God, it was very natural for the self-righteous mind of Israel to regard the Gentiles as simply enemies of the people and kingdom of God, and not only to deny their capacity for salvation, but also to interpret the prophetic announcement of the judgment coming upon the Gentiles as signifying that they were destined to utter destruction. The object of Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was to combat in the most energetic manner, and practically to overthrow, a delusion which had a seeming support in the election of Israel to be the vehicle of salvation, and which stimulated the inclination to pharisaical reliance upon an outward connection with the chosen nation and a lineal descent from Abraham. Whereas other prophets proclaimed in words the position of the Gentiles with regard to Israel in the nearer and more remote future, and predicted not only the surrender of Israel to the power of the Gentiles, but also the future conversion of the heathen to the living God, and their reception into the kingdom of God, the prophet Jonah was entrusted with the commission to proclaim the position of Israel in relation to the Gentile world in a symbolico-typical manner, and to exhibit both figuratively and typically not only the susceptibility of the heathen for divine grace, but also the conduct of Israel with regard to the design of God to show favour to the Gentiles, and the consequences of their conduct. The susceptibility of the Gentiles for the salvation revealed in Israel is clearly and visibly depicted in the behaviour of the Gentile sailors, viz., in the fact that they fear the God of heaven and earth, call upon Him, present sacrifice to Him, and make vows; and still more in the deep impression produced by the preaching of Jonah in Nineveh, and the fact that the whole population of the great city, with the king at their head, repent in sackcloth and ashes. The attitude of Israel towards the design of God to show mercy to the Gentiles and grant them salvation, is depicted in the way in which Jonah acts, when he receives the divine command, and when he goes to carry it out. Jonah tries to escape from the command to proclaim the word of God in Nineveh by flight to Tarshish, because he is displeased with the display of divine mercy to the great heathen world, and because, according to Jon. 4:2, he is afraid lest the preaching of repentance should avert from Nineveh the destruction with which it is threatened. In this state of mind on the part of the prophet, there are reflected the feelings and the general state of mind of the Israelitish nation towards the Gentiles. According to his natural man, Jonah shares in this, and is thereby fitted to be the representative of Israel in its pride at its own election. At the same time, it is only in this state of mind that the old man, which rebels against the divine command, comes sharply out, whereas his better I hears the word of God, and is moved within; so that we cannot place him in the category of the false prophets, who prophesy from their own hearts. When the captain wakes him up in the storm upon the sea, and the lot shows that he is guilty, he confesses his fault, and directs the sailors to cast him into the sea, because it is on his account that the great storm has come upon them (Jon. 1:10-12). The infliction of this punishment, which falls upon him on account of his obstinate resistance to the will of God, typifies that rejection and banishment from the face of God which Israel will assuredly bring upon itself by its obstinate resistance to the divine call. But Jonah, when cast into the sea, is swallowed up by a great fish; and when he prays to the Lord in the fish’s belly, he is vomited upon the land unhurt. This miracle has also a symbolical meaning for Israel. It shows that if the carnal nation, with its ungodly mind, should turn to the Lord even in the last extremity, it will be raised up again by a divine miracle from destruction to newness of life. And lastly, the manner in which God reproves the prophet, when he is angry because Nineveh has been spared (Jon. 4), is intended to set forth as in a mirror before all Israel the greatness of the divine compassion, which embraces all mankind, in order that it may reflect upon it and lay it to heart.
But this by no means exhausts the deeper meaning of the history of Jonah. It extends still further, and culminates in the typical character of Jonah’s three (3) days’ imprisonment in the belly of the fish, upon which Christ threw some light when He said, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mat. 12:40). The clue to the meaning of this type, i.e., to the divinelyappointed connection between the typical occurrence and its antitype, is to be found in the answer which Jesus gave to Philip and Andrew when they told Him, a short time before His death, that there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast who desired to see Jesus. This answer consists of two distinct statements, viz., (Joh. 12:23,24): “The time is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat fall into the earth, and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit;” and (v. 32), “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” This answer of Jesus intimates that the time to admit the Gentiles has not yet come; but the words, “the hour is come,” etc., also contain the explanation, that “the Gentiles have only to wait patiently a little longer, since their union with Christ, with which the address concludes (v. 32), is directly connected with the glorification of the Son of man” (Hengstenberg on Joh. 12:20). This assertion of the Lord, that His death and glorification are necessary in order that He may draw all men, even the heathen, to Himself, or that by His death He may abolish the wall of partition by which the Gentiles were shut out of the kingdom of God, at which He had already hinted in Joh. 10:15,16, teaches us that the history of Jonah is to be regarded as an important and significant link in the chain of development of the divine plan of salvation. When Assyria was assuming the form of a world-conquering power, and the giving up of Israel into the hands of the Gentiles was about to commence, Jehovah sent His prophet to Nineveh, to preach to this great capital of the imperial kingdom His omnipotence, righteousness, and grace. For although the giving up of Israel was inflicted upon it as a punishment for its idolatry, yet, according to the purpose of God, it was also intended to prepare the way for the spread of the kingdom of God over all nations. The Gentiles were to learn to fear the living God of heaven and earth, not only as a preparation for the deliverance of Israel out of their hands after it had been refined by the punishment, but also that they might themselves be convinced of the worthlessness of their idols, and learn to seek salvation from the God of Israel. But whilst this brings out distinctly to the light and deep inward connection between the mission of Jonah to Nineveh and the divine plan of salvation, the typical character of that connection is first made perfectly clear from what Jonah himself passed through. For whereas the punishment, which he brought upon himself through his resistance to the divine command, contained this lesson, that Israel in its natural nationality must perish in order that out of the old sinful nature there may arise a new people of God, which, being dead to the law, may serve the Lord in the willingness of the spirit, God also appointed the mortal anguish and the deliverance of Jonah as a type of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the whole world. As Jonah the servant of God is given up to death that he may successfully accomplish the work committed to him, namely, to proclaim to the Ninevites the judgment and mercy of the God of heaven and earth; so must the Son of God be buried in the earth like a grain of wheat, that He may bring forth fruit for the whole world. The resemblance between the two is apparent in this. But Jonah deserved the punishment of death; Christ, on the contrary, suffered as the innocent One for the sins of mankind, and went voluntarily to death as One who had life in Himself to accomplish His Father’s will. In this difference the inequality appears; and in this the type falls back behind the antitype, and typifies the reality but imperfectly. But even in this difference we may perceive a certain resemblance between Jonah and Christ which must not be overlooked. Jonah died according to his natural man on account of the sin, which was common to himself and his nation; Christ died for the sin of His people, which He had taken upon Himself, to make expiation for it; but He also died as a member of the nation, from which He had sprung according to the flesh, when He was made under the law, that He might rise again as the Saviour of all nations.
This symbolical and typical significance of the mission of the prophet Jonah precludes the assumption that the account in his book is a myth or a parabolical fiction, or simply the description of a symbolical transaction which the prophet experienced in spirit only. And the contents of the book are at variance with all these assumptions, even with the last. When the prophets are commanded to carry out symbolical transactions, they do so without repugnance. But Jonah seeks to avoid executing the command of God by flight, and is punished in consequence. This is at variance with the character of a purely symbolical action, and proves that the book relates historical facts. It is true that the sending of Jonah to Nineveh had not its real purpose within itself; that is to say, that it was not intended to effect the conversion of the Ninevites to the living God, but simply to bring to light the truth that even the Gentiles were capable of receiving divine truth, and to exhibit the possibility of their eventual reception into the kingdom of God. But this truth could not have been brought to the consciousness of the Israelites in a more impressive manner than by Jonah’s really travelling to Nineveh to proclaim the destruction of that city on account of its wickedness, and seeing the proclamation followed by the results recorded in our book. Still less could the importance of this truth, so far as Israel was concerned, be exhibited in a merely symbolical transaction. If the intended flight of the prophet to Tarshish and his misfortune upon the sea were not historical facts, they could only be mythical or parabolical fictions. But though myths may very well embody religious ideas, and parables set forth prophetical truths, they cannot be types of future facts in the history of salvation. If the three (3) days’ confinement of Jonah in the belly of the fish really had the typical significance which Christ attributes to it in Mat. 12:29ff. and Luk. 11:29ff., it can neither be a myth or dream, nor a parable, nor merely a visionary occurrence experienced by the prophet; but must have had as much objective reality as the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
But if it follows from what has been said, that our book contains facts of a symbolico-typical meaning from the life of the prophet Jonah, there is no tenable ground left for disputing the authorship of the prophet himself. At the same time, the fact that Jonah was the author is not in itself enough to explain the admission of the book among the writings of the minor prophets. This place the book received, not because it related historical events that had happened to the prophet Jonah, but because these events were practical prophecies. Marck saw this, and has the following apt remark upon this point: “The writing is to a great extent historical, but so that in the history itself there is hidden the mystery of a very great prophecy; and he proves himself to be a true prophet quite as much by his own fate as he does by his prophecies.”
For the exegetical literature on the book of Jonah, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 291.
MICAH. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of the Prophet.
2. The Book of Micah. The contents of the book consist of three (3) prophetic addresses, which are clearly distinguished from one another in form by similarity of introduction (all three (3) commencing with (), Mic. 1:2; 3:1; 6:1), and substantially by their contents, which pass through the various stages of reproof, threat, and promise, and are thereby rounded off; so that all attempts at any other division, such as that of Ewald to connect Mic. 3 with the first (1st) address, or to arrange the book in two (2) parts (Mic. 1-5 and 6,7), are obviously arbitrary. Ch. 3 can only be connected with Mic. 1 and 2 so as to form one (1) address, on the groundless assumption that Mic. 2:12,13 are a later gloss that has crept into the text; and though the () before () Mic. 3:1 does indeed connect the second (2nd) address more closely with the first (1st) than with the third (3rd), it by no means warrants our dividing the whole book into two (2) parts. In the three (3) addresses, Mic. 1, 2, 3-5, and 6, 7, we have not “three (3) prophecies of Micah, delivered to the people at three (3) different times,” as Hitzig and Maurer still suppose, but merely a condensation rhetorically arranged of the essential contents of his verbal utterances, as committed to writings by Micah himself at the end of his prophetic course in the time of Hezekiah. For these addresses are proved to be merely portions or sections of a single (1) whole, by the absence of all reference to the concrete circumstances of any particular portion of time, and still more by their organic combination, as seen in the clearly marked and carefully planned progressive movement apparent in their contents. In the first (1st) address, after a general announcement of judgment on account of the sins of Israel (Mic. 1:2-5), Micah predicts the destruction of Samaria (vv. 6,7), and the devastation of Judah with the deportation of its inhabitants (vv. 8-16), and justifies this threat by an earnest and brief reproof of the existing acts of injustice and violence on the part of the great men (Mic. 2:1-5), and a sharp correction of their abettors the false prophets. (vv. 6-11); after which this address closes with a brief promise of the eventual restoration of the remnant of Israel to favour (vv. 12,13). The second (2nd) address closes with a brief promise of the eventual restoration of the remnant of Israel to favour (vv. 12,13). The second (2nd) address spreads itself out still more elaborately in the first (1st) half (Mic. 3) over the sins and crimes of the heads of the nation, viz., the princes, the false prophets, the unjust judges and bad priests; and because of these sins threatens the destruction and utter devastation of Zion, and the temple hill. As an antithesis to this threat, the second (2nd) half (Mic. 4 and 5) contains a promise, commencing with the opening of a prospect of the glorification of Zion and Israel at the end of the days (Mic. 4:1-7), advancing to an assurance of the restoration of the former dominion of the daughter of Zion, after the people have first (1st) been carried away to Babel, and rescued again out of the hand of their enemies, and of her triumph in the last conflict with the nations of the world (vv. 8-14), and culminating in the announcement of the birth of the great Ruler in Israel, who will arise out of Bethlehem, and feed His people in the majesty of Jehovah (Mic. 5:1-5), and not only protect the rescued remnant of Jacob against the attacks of the imperial kingdom, but exalt it into a beneficent, and at the same time fearful, power to the heathen nations (vv. 6-8), and establish a kingdom of blessed peace (vv. 9-14). The third (3rd) address sets forth the way to salvation in the dramatic dress of a law-suit between Jehovah and His people, by exhibiting the divine benefits for which Israel had repaid its God with ingratitude, and by a repeated allusion to the prevailing sins and unrighteousness which God must punish (Mic. 6), and also by showing how the consciousness of misery will lead to the penitential confession of guilt and to conversion, and by encouraging to believing trust in the compassion upon His people, rebuild Zion, and humble the foe, and by renewing the miracles of the olden time fill all nations with fear of His omnipotence (Mic. 7:1-17); after which the prophet closes his book with praise for the sin-forgiving grace of the Lord (vv. 18-20).
From this general survey of the contents of the three (3) addresses, their internal connection may be at once perceived. In the first (1st) the threatening of judgment predominates; in the second (2nd) the announcement of the Messianic salvation; in the third (3rd) there follows the paraenesis or admonition to repentance and humiliation under the chastising hand of the Lord, in order to participate in the promised salvation. As this admonition rests upon the threat of judgment and promise of salvation in the two (2nd) previous addresses, so does the allusion to the judgment contained in the words, “Then will they cry to Jehovah, and He will not answer them” (Mic. 3:4), presuppose the announcement in Mic. 1 of the judgment about to burst upon the land, without which it would be perfectly unintelligible. Consequently there can be no doubt whatever that Micah has simply concentrated the quintessence of his oral discourses into the addresses contained in his book. This quintessence, moreover, shows clearly enough that our prophet was not at all behind his contemporary Isaiah, either in the clearness and distinctness of his Messianic announcements, or in the power and energy with which he combated the sins and vices of the nation. There is simply this essential difference, so far as the latter point is concerned, that he merely combats the religious and moral corruptness of the rulers of the nation, and does not touch upon their conduct on its political side. (For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 296.)
NAHUM. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of the Prophet.
2. Book of Nahum contains one (1) extended prophecy concerning Nineveh, in which the ruin of that city and of the Assyrian world-power is predicted in three (3) strophes, answering to the division into chapters; viz., in Nah. 1 the divine purpose to inflict judgment upon this oppressor of Israel; in Nah. 2 the joyful news of the conquest, plundering, and destruction of Nineveh; and in Nah. 3 its guilt and its inevitable ruin. These are all depicted with pictorial liveliness and perspicuity. Now, although this prophecy neither closes with a Messianic prospect, nor enters more minutely into the circumstances of the Israelitish kingdom of God in general, it is rounded off within itself, and stands in such close relation to Judah, that it may be called a prophecy of consolation for that kingdom. The fall of the mighty capital of the Assyrian empire, that representative of the godless and God-opposing power of the world, which sought to destroy the Israelitish kingdom of God, was not only closely connected with the continuance and development of the kingdom of God in Judah, but the connection is very obvious in Nahum’s prophecy. Even in the introduction (Nah. 1:2ff.) the destruction of Nineveh is announced as a judgment, which Jehovah, the zealous God and avenger of evil, executes, and in which He proves Himself a refuge to those who trust in Him (Nah. 1:7). But “those who trust in Him” are not godly Gentiles here; they are rather the citizens of His kingdom, viz., the Judaeans, upon whom Asshur had laid the yoke of bondage, which Jehovah would break (Nah. 1:13), so that Judah could keep feasts and pay its vows to Him (Nah. 1:15). On the destruction of Nineveh the Lord returns to the eminence of Israel, which the Assyrians have overthrown (Nah. 2:2). Consequently Nineveh is to fall, and an end is to be put to the rule and tyranny of Asshur, that the glory of Israel may be restored.
The unity and integrity of the prophecy are not open to any well-founded objection. It is true that Eichhorn, Ewald, and De Wette, have questioned the genuineness of the first (1st) part of the heading (the Massa of Nineveh), but without sufficient reason, as even Hitzig observes. For there is nothing that can possibly astonish us in the fact that the object of the prophecy is mentioned first, and then the author. Moreover, the words (moss’ nynwh) cannot possibly have been added at a later period, because the whole of the first half of the prophecy would be unintelligible without them; since Nineveh is not mentioned by name till Nah. 2:8, and yet the suffix attached to (meqomah) in Nah. 1:8 refers to Nineveh, and requires the introduction of the name of that city in the heading. There is just as little force in the arguments with which Hitzig seeks to prove that the allusion to the conquest of No-Amon in Nah. 3:8-10 is a later addition. For the assertion that, if an Assyrian army had penetrated to Upper Egypt and taken that city, Nahum, when addressing Nineveh, could not have related to the Assyrians what had emanated from themselves, without at least intimating this, would obviously be well founded only on the supposition that the words “Art thou better than No-Amon,” etc., could be taken quite prosaically as news told to the city of Nineveh, and loses all its force, when we see that this address is simply a practical turn, with which Nah. describes the fate of No-Amon not to the Ninevites, but to the Judaeans, as a practical proof that even the mightiest and most strongly fortified city could be conquered and fall, when God had decreed its ruin. From the lively description of this occurrence, we may also explain the change from the third (3rd) person to the second (2nd) in Nah. 3:9b, at which Hitzig still takes offence. His other arguments are so subjective and unimportant, that they require no special refutation.
With regard to the date of the composition of our prophecy, it is evident from the contents that it was not written before, but after, the defeat of Sennacherib in front of Jerusalem in the reign of Hezekiah, since that event is not only clearly assumed, but no doubt furnished the occasion for the prophecy. Asshur had overrun Judah (Nah. 1:15), and had severely afflicted it (Nah. 1:9,12), yea plundered and almost destroyed it (Nah. 2:2). Now, even if neither the words in Nah. 1:11, “There is one come out of thee, who imagined evil against Jehovah,” etc., nor those of Nah. 1:12b, according to the correct interpretation, contain any special allusion to Sennacherib and his defeat, and if it is still less likely that Nah. 1:14 contains an allusion to his death or murder (Isa. 37:38), yet the affliction (tsarah) which Assyria had brought upon Judah (Nah. 1:9), and the invasion of Judah mentioned in Nah. 1:15 and 2: 2, can only refer to Sennacherib’s expedition, since he was the only one of all the kings of Assyria who so severely oppressed Judah as to bring it to the very verge of ruin. Moreover, Nah. 2:13, “The voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard,” is peculiarly applicable to the messengers whom Sennacherib sent to Hezekiah, according to Isa. 36:13ff. and 37:9ff., to compel the surrender of Jerusalem and get Judah completely into his power. But if this is established, it cannot have been a long time after the defeat of Sennacherib before Jerusalem, when Nah. prophesied; not only because that event was thoroughly adapted to furnish the occasion for such a prophecy as the one contained in our prophet’s book, and because it was an omen of the future and final judgment upon Asshur, but still more, because the allusions to the affliction brought upon Judah by Sennacherib are of such a kind that it must have still continued in the most vivid recollection of the prophet and the men of his time. We cannot do anything else, therefore, than subscribe to the view expressed by Vitringa, viz., that “the date of Nah. must be fixed a very short time after Isaiah and Micah, and therefore in the reign of Hezekiah, not only after the carrying away of the ten tribes, but also after the overthrow of Sennacherib (Nah. 1:11, 13), from which the argument of the prophecy is taken, and the occasion for preaching the complete destruction of Nineveh and the kingdom of Assyria” (Typ. doctr. prophet. p. 37). The date of the composition of our book cannot be more exactly determined. The assumption that it was composed before the murder of Sennacherib, in the temple of his god Nisroch (Isa. 37:38; 2Ki. 19:37), has no support in Nah. 1:14. And it is equally impossible to infer from Nah. 1:13 and 1:15 that our prophecy was uttered in the reign of Manasseh, and occasioned by the carrying away of the king to Babylon (2nd Ch. 33:11).
The relation which exists between this prophecy and those of Isaiah is in the most perfect harmony with the composition of the former in the second (2nd) half of the reign of Hezekiah. The resemblances which we find between Nah. 3:5 and Isa. 47:2,3, Nah. 3:7, 10 and Isa. 51:19,20, Nah. 1:15 and Isa. 52:1 and 7, are of such a nature that Isaiah could just as well have alluded to Nah. as Nah. to Isaiah. If Nah. composed his prophecy not long after the overthrow of Sennacherib, we must assume that the former was the case. The fact that in Nah. 1:8, 13 and 3:10 there are resemblances to Isa. 10:23, 27 and 13:16, where our prophet is evidently the borrower, furnishes no decisive proof to the contrary. For the relation in which prophets who lived and laboured at the same time stood to one another was one of mutual giving and receiving; so that it cannot be immediately inferred from the fact that our prophet made use of a prophecy of his predecessor for his own purposes, that he must have been dependent upon him in all his kindred utterances. When, on the other hand, Ewald and Hitzig remove our prophecy to a much later period, and place it in the time of the later Median wars with Assyria, either the time of Phraortes (Herod. i. 102), or that of Cyaxares and his first siege of Nineveh (Herod. i. 103), they found this opinion upon the unscriptural assumption that it was nothing more than a production of human sagacity and political conjecture, which could only have been uttered “when a threatening expedition against Nineveh was already in full operation” (Ewald), and when the danger which threatened Nineveh was before his eyes, –a view which has its roots in the denial of the supernatural character of the prophecy, and is altogether destitute of any solid foundation. The style of our prophet is not inferior to the classical style of Isaiah and Micah, either in power and originality of thought, or in clearness and purity of form; so that, as R. Lowth (De sacr. poësi Hebr. § 281) has aptly observed, ex omnibus minoribus prophetis nemo videtur aequare sublimitatem, ardorem et audaces spiritus Nahumi; whereas Ewald, according to his preconceived opinion as to the prophet’s age, “no longer finds in this prophet, who already formed one of the later prophets, so much inward strength, or purity and fulness of thought.” For the exegetical writings on the book of Nahum, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, § 299, 300.
HABAKKUK. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of the Prophet.
2. Book of Habakkuk contains neither a collection of oracles, nor the condensation into one (1) discourse of the essential contents of several prophetic addresses, but one single (1) prophecy arranged in two (2) parts. In the first (1st) part (Hab. 1 and 2), under the form of a conversation between God and the prophet, we have first (1st) of all an announcement of the judgment which God is about to bring upon the degenerate covenant nation through the medium of the Chaldaeans; and secondly (2nd), an announcement of the overthrow of the Chaldaean, who has lifted himself up even to the deification of his own power. To this there is appended in Hab. 3, as a second part, the prophet’s prayer for the fulfilment of the judgment; and an exalted lyric psalm, in which Habakkuk depicts the coming of the Lord in the terrible glory of the Almighty, at whose wrath the universe is terrified, to destroy the wicked and save His people and His anointed, and gives utterance to the feelings which the judgment of God will awaken in the hearts of the righteous. The whole of the prophecy has an ideal and universal stamp. Not even Judah and Jerusalem are mentioned, and the Chaldaeans who are mentioned by name are simply introduced as the existing possessors of the imperial power of the world, which was bent upon the destruction of the kingdom of God, or as the sinners who swallow up the righteous man. The announcement of judgment is simply a detailed expansion of the thought that the unjust man and the sinner perish, whilst the just will live through his faith (Hab. 2:4). This prophecy hastens on towards its fulfilment, and even though it should tarry, will assuredly take place at the appointed time (Hab. 2:2,3). Through the judgment upon the godless ones in Judah and upon the Chaldaeans, the righteousness of the holy God will be manifested, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (Hab. 2:14). Although the fact that the Chaldaeans are mentioned by name leaves no doubt whatever that the judgment will burst upon Judah through this wild conquering people, the prophecy rises immediately from this particular judgment to a view of the universal judgment upon all nations, yea, upon the whole of the ungodly world, to proclaim their destruction and the dawning of salvation for the people of the Lord and the Lord’s anointed; so that the trembling at the terrors of judgment is resolved at the close into joy and exultation in the God of salvation. There can be no doubt as to the unity of the book; and the attempt to interpret the threat of judgment in Hab. 2 by applying it to particular historical persons and facts, has utterly failed. For the exegetical works on Habakkuk, see my Einleitung in das alte Testament, § 302-3.
ZEPHANIAH. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of the Prophet.
2. Book of Zephaniah does not contain two (2) or three (3) prophetic addresses, but the quintessence of the oral proclamations of the prophet condensed into one lengthened prophecy, commencing with the threat of judgment (Zep. 1), proceeding to an exhortation to repentance (Zep. 2-3:8), and concluding with a promise of the salvation which would flourish for the remnant of Israel after the termination of the judgment (Zep. 3:9-20). This is arranged in three () sections. The first () section consists of the first () chapter; the second () reaches from Zep. 2:1 to Zep. 3:8; and the third () comprises Zep. 3:9-20. This division is indicated by both the contents and the form of the announcement: by the contents, since the first two (1st, 2nd) parts threaten the judgment and assign the reason, whilst the third (3rd) follows with the promise; by the form, inasmuch as the thought in Zep. 1:18, “All the earth shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy,” is repeated as a refrain in Zep. 3:8, and the (hoi) in Zep. 2:5 answers to the (hoi) in Zep. 3:1, the former announcing the judgment upon the nations, the latter the judgment upon Jerusalem, which assigns the motive for the summons to repentance in Zep. 2:1-4. Zephaniah proclaims the judgment upon the whole earth, upon all the heathen nations, and upon Judah and Jerusalem, in the following order: In the first (1st) part of his prophecy he threatens the near approach of the judgment upon the whole earth (Zep. 1:2-7) and upon Judah (Zep. 1:8-13), and depicts its terrible character (Zep. 1:14-18); and in the second (2nd) part (Zep. 2-3:8) he exhorts the people to repent, and the righteous to persevere (Zep. 2:1-3), and assigns a reason for this exhortation, by announcing that the Lord will judge the heathen nations both near and at hand and far off for the reproach which they have cast upon His people, and by destroying their power lead them to reverence His name (Zep. 2:4-15), and will also bring His righteousness to light in Jerusalem and Judah by the destruction of the ungodly (Zep. 3:1-8). Then (3rd) (the announcement of salvation commences thus in Zep. 3:9,10) will the nations serve Jehovah with one accord, and lead His scattered people to Him. The remnant of Israel will be made into a humble nation of God by the destruction of the wicked one out of the midst of it; and being sheltered by its God, it will rejoice in undisturbed happiness, and be exalted to “a name and praise” among all the nations of the earth (Zep. 3:11-20).
Zephaniah’s prophecy has a more general character, embracing both judgment and salvation in their totality, so as to form one (1 ) complete picture. It not only commences with the announcement of a universal judgment upon the whole world, out of which the judgment rises that will fall upon Judah on account of its sins, and upon the world of nations on account of its hostility to the people of Jehovah; but it treats throughout of the great and terrible day of Jehovah, on which the fire of the wrath of God consumes the whole earth (Zep. 1:14-18; 2:2; 3:8). But the judgment, as a revelation of the wrath of God on account of the general corruption of the world, does not form the centre of gravity or the sole object of the whole of the predictions of our prophet. The end and goal at which they aim are rather the establishment of divine righteousness in the earth, and the judgment is simply the means and the way by which this the aim of all the development of the world’s history is to be realized. This comes clearly out in the second (2nd) and third (3rd) sections. Jehovah will manifest Himself terribly to the nations, to destroy all the gods of the earth, that all the islands of the nations may worship Him (Zep. 2:11). By pouring out His wrath upon nations and kingdoms, He will turn to the peoples a pure lip, so that they will call upon His name and serve Him with one (1) shoulder (Zep. 3:8, 9). The idolaters, the wicked, and the despisers of God will be destroyed out of Judah and Jerusalem, that the righteousness of Jehovah may come to the day (Zep. 3:1-7). The humble, who do God’s righteousness, are to seek Jehovah, to strive after righteousness and humility, and to wait for the Lord, for the day when He will arise, to procure for Himself worshippers of His name among the nations through the medium of the judgment, and to gather together His dispersed people, and make the remnant of Israel into a sanctified and blessed people of God (Zep. 3:11-20).
It is in this comprehensive character of his prophecy that we find the reason why Zephaniah neither names, nor minutely describes, the executors of the judgment upon Judah, and even in the description of the judgment to be inflicted upon the heathen nations (Zep. 2:4-15) simply individualizes the idea of “all the nations of the earth,” by naming the nearer and more remote nations to the west and east, the south and north of Judah. He does not predict either this or that particular judgment, but extends and completes in comprehensive generality the judgment, by which God maintains His kingdom on the earth. This peculiarity in Zephaniah’s prophecy has been correctly pointed out by Bucer (in his commentary, 1528), when he says of the book before us: “If any one wishes all the secret oracles of the prophets to be given in a brief compendium, let him read through this brief Zephaniah.” There are many respects in which Zephaniah links his prophecy to those of the earlier prophets, both in subject-matter and expression; not, however, by resuming those prophecies of theirs which had not been fulfilled, or were not exhausted, during the period of the Assyrian judgment upon the nations, and announcing a fresh and more perfect fulfilment of them by the Chaldaeans, but by reproducing in a compendious form the fundamental thoughts of judgment and salvation which are common to all the prophets, that his contemporaries may lay them to heart; in doing which he frequently appropriates striking words and pregnant expression taken from his predecessors, and applies them to his own purpose. Thus, for example, the expression in Zep. 1:7 is compiled from earlier prophetic words: “Be silent before the Lord Jehovah (from Hab. 2:20), for the day of Jehovah is at hand (Joe. 1:15 and others); for Jehovah has prepared a sacrificial slaughter (Isa. 34:6), has consecrated His invited ones (Isa. 13:3).” (For further remarks on this point, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 307). In this respect Zephaniah opens the series of the less original prophets of the Chaldaean age of judgment, who rest more upon the earlier types; whilst in more material respects his predecessor Habakkuk acted as pioneer to the prophets of this period.
Ewald’s view bears evidence of a strong misapprehension of the nature of the prophecy generally, and of the special peculiarities of the prophecy before us. “The book of Zephaniah,” he says, “must have originated in a great commotion among the nations, which threw all the kingdoms round about Judah far and wide into a state of alarm, and also threatened to be very dangerous to Jerusalem,” –namely, on account of the invasion of Upper and Hither Asia by the Scythians, which is mentioned by Herodotus in i. 15, 103-6, iv. 10ff. For there is not a trace discoverable in the whole book of any great commotion among the nations. The few allusions to the fact that a hostile army will execute the judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah (in Zep. 1:12,13, 16, and 3:15) do not presuppose anything of the kind; and in the threatening of the judgment upon Philistia, Moab and Ammon, Cush, and Asshur with Nineveh, Jehovah only is named as executing it (Zep. 2:4-15). Moreover, neither Herodotus nor the historical books of the Old Testament mention any conquest of Jerusalem by the Scythians; whilst, even according to the account given by Herodotus, the Scythian hordes neither destroyed Nineveh nor made war upon the Cushites (Aethiopians), as would be predicted by Zephaniah (Zep. 2:12-15), if he had the Scythians in his eye; and lastly, Jeremiah, upon whose prophecies Ewald, Hitzig, and Bertheau have principally based their Scythian hypothesis, knows nothing of the Scythians, but simply expects and announces that the judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem will come from the Chaldaeans. Zephaniah found the historical occasion for his prophecy in the moral depravity of Judah and Jerusalem, in the depth to which his people had fallen in idolatry, and in their obstinate resistance to all the efforts made by the prophets and the pious king Josiah to stem the corruption, and thus avert from Judah the judgment threatened even by Moses and the earlier prophets, of the dispersion of the whole nation among the heathen. On the ground of the condition of his people, and the prophetic testimonies of his predecessors, Zephaniah, under the impulse of the Spirit of God, predicted the near approach of the great and terrible day of Jehovah, which came upon Judah and the heathen nations far and wide through the instrumentality of the Chaldaeans. For Nebuchadnezzar laid the foundation of the empire which devastated Judah, destroyed Jerusalem with its temple, and led the degenerate covenant nation into exile. This empire was perpetuated in the empires of the Persians, the Macedonians, and the Romans, which arose after it and took its place, and in whose power Judah continued, even after the return of one portion of the exiles to the land of their fathers, and after the restoration of the temple and the city of Jerusalem during the Persian rule; so that the city of God was trodden down by the heathen even to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, whereby the desolation of the holy land, which continues to the present day, was produced, and the dispersion of the Jews to all quarters of the globe accomplished, and both land and people were laid under the ban, from which Israel can only be liberated by its conversion to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all nations, and from which it will assuredly be redeemed by virtue of the promise of the faithful covenant God. For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, pp. 305-6.
HAGGAI. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of the Prophet.
2. Book of Haggai contains four (4) words of God uttered by the prophet in the second (2nd) year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, which had for their object the furtherance of the building of the temple, and in all probability simply reproduce the leading thought of His oral addresses. In the first (1st) prophecy, delivered on the new moon’s day of the sixth (6th) month of the year named (Hag. 1), he condemns the indifference of the people concerning the building of the temple, and represents the failure of the crops and the curse under which the people were suffering as a divine punishment for the neglect of that work. In consequence of this admonition the building was resumed. The three (3) following prophecies in Hag. 2 encourage the people to continue the work they have begun. The second (2nd), which was delivered only twenty-four (24) days after the first (1st) (Hag. 2:1-9), consoles those who are desponding on account of the poverty of the new building, by promising that the Lord will keep the covenant promise made to His people when they came out of Egypt, and by shaking the whole world and all the heathen, will give the new temple even greater glory than that of Solomon had. The last two (2) words of God were delivered to the people on the twenty-fourth (24th) day of the ninth (9th) month of the same year. They predict in the first (1st) place the cessation of the previous curse, and the return of the blessings of nature promised to the church which had remained faithful to the covenant (vv. 10-19); and in the second (2nd) place, the preservation of the throne of Israel, represented in the person and attitude of Zerubbabel, among the tempests which will burst upon the kingdoms of this world, and destroy their might and durability (vv. 20-23).
In order to understand clearly the meaning of these prophecies and promises in relation to the development of the Old Testament kingdom of God, we must look at the historical circumstances under which Haggai was called by God to labour as a prophet. Haggai was the first prophet who rose up after the exile in the midst of the congregation of Judah that had returned from Babylon, to proclaim to it the will and saving purposes of its God. Between him and Zephaniah there lay the seventy years’ exile, and the labours of the great prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. What all the earlier prophets had foretold, and Jeremiah especially, in a comprehensive and most impressive manner –namely, that the Lord would thrust out Judah also among the heathen, on account of its obstinate idolatry and resistance to the commandments of God, and would cause it to be enslaved by them– had been fulfilled. As the ten (10) tribes had been carried away by the Assyrians long before, so had the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem been also carried into exile by the Chaldaeans through Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord had now banished all His people from before His face, and sent them away among the heathen, but He had not cast them off entirely and for ever. He had indeed suspended His covenant with Israel, but He had not entirely abolished it. Even to the people pining in exile He had not only renewed the ancient promises through the prophet Ezekiel, after the dissolution of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, viz., that He would restore the nation to favour again, when it should come to the knowledge of its grievous sins, and turn to Him with penitence, and that He would redeem it from exile, lead it back to its own land, and exalt it to great glory; but He had also caused the might and duration of the kingdoms of the world to be proclaimed through Daniel, and their eventual overthrow through the kingdom of God from heaven. The seventy (70)years, during which the land of Judah was to lie waste and the nation to serve Babel (Jer. 25:11), had now passed away. The Babylonian empire had fallen, and Koresh (Cyrus), the founder of the Persian empire, had given the Jews permission to return to their own land in the first (1st) year of his sole dominion, and had commanded that the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. In consequence of this, a considerable number of the captives of Judah and Benjamin, viz., 42,360 freemen, with 7337 men-servants and maidservants, led by Zerubbabel prince of Judah, a descendant of David, who was appointed governor in Judah, and by the high priest Joshua, had returned to their homes (Ezr. 1 and 2). Having arrived there, they had restored Jehovah’s altar of burnt-offering in the seventh (7th) month of the year, and re-established the sacrificial worship prescribed in the law. They had also so far made preparations for the rebuilding of the temple, that even in the second (2nd) month of the second (2nd) year after their return they were able solemnly to lay the foundation for the new temple (Ezr. 3).
They had hardly commenced building, however, when the Samaritans came with a request that they might take part in the building of the temple, because they also sought the God of the Jews. Now, when the chiefs of Judah refused to grant them this request, as being a mixed people, composed of the heathen colonists who had been transplanted into the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes and a few Israelites who were left behind in the land, whilst their worship of God was greatly distorted by heathenism (see at 2nd Ki. 17:24-41), they endeavoured to disturb the work already begun, and to prevent its continuation and completion. They made the hands of the people of Judah idle, as we read in Ezr. 4:4,5, frightening them while building, and hiring counsellors against them to frustrate their design, the whole of the still remaining time of Cyrus, and even till the reign of king Darius of Persia, so that the work at the house of God at Jerusalem ceased and was suspended till the second (2nd) year of the reign of this king (Ezr. 4:24). But even if these machinations of the adversaries of Judah furnished the outward occasion for the interruption and suspension of the work they had begun, we must not seek for the sole and sufficient reason for the breaking off of the work in these alone. Nothing is recorded of any revocation of the edict issued by Cyrus during his reign; and even if the letter to Artachsata given in Ezr. 4:7ff. referred, as is generally assumed, to the building of the temple, and the reply of this king, which prohibited the continuation of the building, was issued by Pseudo-Smerdis, this only took place under the second (2nd) successor of Cyrus, twelve (12) years after the laying of the foundation-stone of the temple. What the enemies of Judah had previously undertaken and accomplished consisted simply in the fact that they made the hands of the Jewish people idle, frightening them while building, and frustrating their enterprise by hiring counsellors. (* So much is evident from the account in the book of Ezra, concerning the machinations of the Samaritans to frustrate the building. The more precise determination of what they did namely, whether they obtained a command from the king to suspend the building depends upon the explanation given to the section in Ezra (4:6-23), into which we need not enter more minutely till we come to our exposition of the book itself, inasmuch as it is not important to decide this question in order to understand our prophet. *) The latter they would hardly have succeeded in, if the Jews themselves had taken real pleasure in the continuation of the work, and had had firm confidence in the assistance of God. These were wanting. Even at the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone, many of the old priests, Levites and heads of tribes, who had seen the first (1st) temple, spoiled the people’s pleasure by loud weeping. This weeping can hardly be explained merely from the recollection of the trials and sufferings of the last fifty (50) years, which came involuntarily into their mind at that moment of solemn rejoicing, but was no doubt occasioned chiefly by the sight of the miserable circumstances under which the congregation took this work in hand, and in which they could not help saying to themselves, that the execution of the work would not correspond to the hopes which might have been cherished from the restoration of the house of God. But such thoughts as these would of necessity greatly detract from their pleasure in building, and as soon as outward difficulties were also placed in their way, would supply food to the doubt whether the time for carrying on this work had really come. Thus the zeal for building the house of God so cooled down, that they gave it up altogether, and simply began to provide for their own necessities, and to establish themselves comfortably in the land of their fathers, so far as the circumstances permitted (Hag. 1:4). This becomes perfectly intelligible, if we add that, judging from the natural character of sinful men, there were no doubt a considerable number of men among those who had returned, who had been actuated to return less by living faith in the Lord and His word, than by earthly hopes of prosperity and comfort in the land of their fathers. As soon as they found themselves disappointed in their expectations, they became idle and indifferent with regard to the house of the Lord. And the addresses of our prophet show clearly enough, that one principal reason for the suspension of the work is to be sought for in the lukewarmness and indifference of the people.
The contents and object of these addresses, viz., the circumstance that they are chiefly occupied with the command to build the temple, and attach great promises to the performance of this work, can only be explained in part, however, from the fact that the fidelity of the nation towards its God showed itself in zeal for the house of God. The deeper and truer explanation is to be found in the significance which the temple possessed in relation to the kingdom of God in its Old Testament form. The covenant of grace, made by the God of heaven and earth with the nation of Israel which He had chosen for His own peculiar possession, required, as a visible pledge of the real fellowship into which Jehovah had entered with Israel, a place where this fellowship could be sustained. For this reason, directly after the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, God commanded the tabernacle to be erected, for a sanctuary in which, as covenant God, He would dwell among His people in a visible symbol; and, as the sign of the fulfilment of this divine promise, at the dedication of the tabernacle, and also of the temple of Solomon which took its place, the glory of Jehovah in the form of a cloud filled the sanctuary that had been built for His name. Hence the continuance of the ancient covenant, or of the kingdom of God in Israel, was bound up with the temple. When this was destroyed the covenant was broken, and the continuance of the kingdom of God suspended. If, therefore, the covenant which had been dissolved during the exile was to be renewed, if the kingdom of God was to be re-established in its Old Testament form, the rebuilding of the temple was the first (1st) and most important prerequisite for this; and the people were bound to pursue the work of building it with all possible zeal, that they might thereby practically attest their desire and readiness to resume the covenant fellowship which had been interrupted for a time. After the people had thus fulfilled the duty that devolved upon them, they might expect from the faithfulness of the Lord, their covenant God, that He would also restore the former gracious connection in all its completeness, and fulfil all His covenant promises. It is in this that the significance ofHaggai’s prophecies consists, so far as they have regard to the furthering of the work of building the temple. And this object was attained. The building of the temple was resumed in consequence of his admonition, and at the end of four (4) years and a half (1/2) –namely, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius– the work was finished (Ezr. 6:14, 15). But at its dedication the new temple was not filled with the cloud of the glory of Jehovah; yea, the most essential feature in the covenant made at Sinai was wanting, viz., the ark with the testimony, i.e., the tables of the law, which no man could restore, inasmuch as the ten (10) words of the covenant had been written upon the tables by God Himself. The old covenant was not to be restored in its Sinaitic form; but according to the promise made through Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31ff.), the Lord would make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah; He would put His law into their heart, and write it in their minds. The people, however, were not sufficiently prepared for this. Therefore those who had returned from Babylon were still to continue under the rule of the heathen powers of the world, until the time had arrived for the conclusion of the new covenant, when the Lord would come to His temple, and the angel of the covenant would fill it with the glory of the heathen. Thus the period of Zerubbabel’s temple was a time of waiting for Judah, and a period of preparation for the coming of the promised Saviour. To give the people a pledge during that period of the certainty of the fulfilment of the covenant grace of God, was the object of Haggai’s two (2) promises of salvation.
So far as the form is concerned, the prophecies of Haggai have not the poetical swing of the earlier prophetical diction. They were written in the simplest rhetorical style, and never rise very far above the level of good prose, although vivacity is given to the delivery by the frequent use of interrogatives (cf. Hag. 1:4, 9; 2:3, 12,13, 19), and it by no means infrequently opens into full oratorical rhythm (cf. Hag. 1:6, 9-11; 2:6-8, 22). One characteristic of Haggai’s mode of description is the peculiar habit to which Naegelsbach has called attention –namely, of uttering the main thought with concise and nervous brevity, after a long and verbose introduction (cf. Hag. 1:2b, 1:12b, 2:5b, 2:19b); so that it might be said that he is accustomed “to conceal a small and most intensive kernel under a broad and thick shell.” His language is tolerably free from Chaldaeisms.
For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 308; to which add Aug. Koehler’s die Weissagungen Haggai’s erklärt, Erlangen 1860.
ZECHARIAH. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. The Prophet.
2. The Book of Zechariah contains, besides the brief word of God, which introduces his prophetic labours (Zec. 1:1-6), four longer prophetic announcements: viz., (1) a series of seven visions, which Zechariah saw during the night, on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, in the second year of Darius (Zec. 1:7-6:8), together with a symbolical transaction, which brought the visions to a close (Zec. 6:9-15); (2) the communication to the people of the answer of the Lord to a question addressed to the priests and prophets by certain Judaeans as to their continuing any longer to keep the day appointed for commemorating the burning of the temple and Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans as a fast-day, which took place in the fourth year of Darius (Zec. 7 and 8); (3) a burden, i.e., a prophecy of threatening import, concerning the land of Hadrach, the seat of the ungodly world-power (Zec. 9-11); and (4) a burden concerning Israel (Zec. 12-14). The last two oracles, which are connected together by the common epithet massaÑÿ, are distinguished from the first two announcements not only by the fact that the headings contain neither notices as to the time, nor the prophet’s name, but also by the absence of express allusions to the circumstances of Zechariah’s own times, however unmistakeably the circumstances of the covenant nation after the captivity form the historical background of these prophecies also; whilst there is in general such a connection between their contents and the prophetic character of the nightvisions, that Zec. 9-14 might be called a prophetic description of the future of the kingdom of God, in its conflict with the kingdoms of the world, as seen in the night-visions. For example, in the night-visions, as a sequel to Haggai, who had predicted two months before the overthrow of the might of all the kingdoms of the world and the preservation of Zerubbabel in the midst of that catastrophe (Hag. 2:20-23), the future development of the kingdom of God is unfolded to the prophet in its principal features till its final completion in glory. The first vision shows that the shaking of the kingdoms of the world predicted by Haggai will soon occur, notwithstanding the fact that the whole earth is for the time still quiet and at rest, and that Zion will be redeemed from its oppression, and richly blessed (Zec. 1:7-17). The realization of this promise is explained in the following visions: in the second (Zec. 2:1-4), the breaking in pieces of the kingdoms of the world, by the four smiths who threw down the horns of the nations; in the third (Zec. 2:5-17), the spread of the kingdom of God over the whole earth, through the coming of the Lord to His people; in the fourth (Zec. 3), the restoration of the church to favour, through the wiping away of its sins; in the fifth (Zec. 4), the glorifying of the church through the communication of the gifts of the Spirit; in the sixth (Zec. 5), the sifting out of sinners from the kingdom of God; in the seventh (Zec. 6:1-8), the judgment, through which God refines and renews the sinful world; and lastly, in the symbolical transaction which closes the visions (Zec. 6:9-15), the completion of the kingdom of God by the Sprout of the Lord, who combines in His own person the dignity of both priest and king. If we compare with these the last two oracles, in Zec. 9-11 we have first of all a picture of the judgment upon the kingdoms of the world, and of the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, through the gathering together of the scattered members of the covenant nation, and their exaltation to victory over the heathen (Zec. 9, 10), and secondly, a more minute description of the attitude of the Lord towards the covenant nation and the heathen world (Zec. 11); and in Zec. 12-14 we have an announcement of the conflict of the nations of the world with Jerusalem, of the conversion of Israel to the Messiah, whom it once rejected and put to death (Zec. 12, 13); and lastly, of the final attack of the heathen world upon the city of God, with its consequences, — namely, the purification and transfiguration of Jerusalem into a holy dwelling-place of the Lord, as King over the whole earth (Zec. 14); so that in both oracles the development of the Old Testament kingdom of God is predicted until its completion in the kingdom of God, which embraces the whole earth. The revelation from God, which stands between these two principal parts, concerning the continuance of the fast-days (Zec. 7, 8), does indeed divide the two from one another, both chronologically and externally; but substantially it forms the connecting link between the two, inasmuch as this word of God impresses upon the people the condition upon which the attainment of the glorious future set before them in the night-visions depends, and thereby prepares them for the conflicts which Israel will have to sustain according to the announcement in Zec. 9-14, until the completion of the kingdom of God in glory.
Thus all the parts of the book hang closely together; and the objection which modern critics have offered to the unity of the book has arisen, not from the nature of the last two longer oracles (Zec. 9-14), but partly from the dogmatic assumption of the rationalistic and naturalistic critics, that the biblical prophecies are nothing more than the productions of natural divination, and partly from the inability of critics, in consequence of this assumption, to penetrate into the depths of the divine revelation, and to grasp either the substance or form of their historical development, so as to appreciate it fully.f ft[FOOTNOTE=For the history of these attacks upon the genuineness of the last part of Zechariah, and of the vindication of its genuineness, with the arguments pro and con, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, § 103, and Koehler’s Zechariah, ii. p. 297ff.] The current opinion of these critics, that the chapters in question date from the time before the captivity— viz. Zec. 9-11 from a contemporary of Isaiah, and Zec. 12-14 from the last period before the destruction of the kingdom of Judah — is completely overthrown by the circumstance, that even in these oracles the condition of the covenant nation after the captivity forms the historical ground and starting-point for the proclamation and picture of the future development of the kingdom of God. The covenant nation in its two parts, into which it had been divided since the severance of the kingdom at the death of Solomon, had been dispersed among the heathen like a flock without a shepherd (Zec. 10:2). It is true that Judah had already partially returned to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; but the daughter Zion had still “prisoners of hope” waiting for release (Zec. 9:11, 12, compared with Zec. 2:10, 11), and the house of Joseph or Ephraim was still to be gathered and saved (Zec. 10:6-10). Moreover, the severance of Judah and Ephraim, which lasted till the destruction of both kingdoms, had ceased. The eye of Jehovah is now fixed upon all the tribes of Israel (Zec. 9:1); Judah and Ephraim are strengthened by God for a common victorious conflict with the sons of Javan (Zec. 9:13); the Lord their God grants salvation to His people as a flock (Zec. 9:16 compared with 8:13); the shepherd of the Lord feeds them both as a single flock, and only abolishes the brotherhood between Judah and Israel by the breaking of his second staff (Zec. 11:14). Hence the jealousy between Judah and Ephraim, the cessation of which was expected in the future by the prophets before the captivity (cf. Isa. 11:13; Hos. 2:2; Eze. 37:15ff.), is extinct; and all that remains of the severance into two kingdoms is the epithet house of Judah or house of Israel, which Zechariah uses not only in Zec. 9-11, but also in the appeal in Zec. 8:13, which no critic has called in question. All the tribes form one nation, which dwells in the presence of the prophet in Jerusalem and Judah. Just as in the first part of our book Israel consists of Judah and Jerusalem (Zec. 1:19, cf. 2:12), so in the second part the burden pronounced upon Israel (Zec. 12:1) falls upon Jerusalem and Judah (Zec. 12:2, 5ff., 14:2, 14); and just as, according to the night-visions, the imperial power has its seat in the land of the north and of the south (Zec. 6:6), so in the last oracles Asshur (the north land) and Egypt (the south land) are types of the heathen world (Zec. 10:10). And when at length the empire of the world which is hostile to God is more precisely defined, it is called Javan, — an epithet taken from Dan. 8:21, which points as clearly as possible to the times after the captivity, inasmuch as the sons of Javan never appear as enemies of the covenant nation before the captivity, even when the Tyrians and Philistines are threatened with divine retribution for having sold to the Javanites the prisoners of Judah and Jerusalem (Joe. 3:6).
On the other hand, the differences which prevail between the first two (2) prophecies of Zechariah and the last two (2) are not of such a character as to point to two (2) or three (3) different prophets. It is true that in Zec. 9-14 there occur no visions, no angels taking an active part, no Satan, no seven (7) eyes of God; but Amos also, for example, has only visions in the second (2nd) part, and none in the first (1st); whilst the first (1st) part of Zechariah contains not only visions, but also, in Zec. 1:1-6, Zec. 7 and 8, simple prophetic addresses, and symbolical actions not only in Zec. 6:9-15, but also in Zec. 11:4-17. The angels and Satan, which appear in the visions, are also absent from Zec. 7 and 8; whereas the angel of Jehovah is mentioned in the last part in Zec. 12:8, and the saints in Zec. 14:5 are angels. The seven (7) eyes of God are only mentioned in two (2) visions (Zec. 3:9 and 4:10); and the providence of God is referred to in Zec. 9:1, 8, under the epithet of the eye of Jehovah. This also applies to the form of description and the language employed in the two (2) parts. The visionary sights are described in simple prose, as the style most appropriate for such descriptions. The prophecies in word are oratorical, and to some extent are rich in gold figures and similes. This diversity in the prophetic modes of presentation was occasioned by the occurrence of peculiar facts and ideas, with the corresponding expressions and words; but it cannot be proved that there is any constant diversity in the way in which the same thing or the same idea is described in the two (2) parts, whereas there are certain unusual expressions, such as (me`ober umishshab) (in Zec. 7:14 and 9:8) and (he`ebir) in the sense of removere (in Zec. 3:4 and 13:2), which are common to both (2)parts. Again, the absence of any notice as to the time in the headings in Zec. 9:1 and 12:1 may be explained very simply from the fact, that these prophecies of the future of the kingdom are not so directly associated with the prophet’s own time as the visions are, the first (1st) of which describes the condition of the world in the second (2nd) year of Darius. The omission of the name of the author from the headings no more disproves the authorship of the Zechariah who lived after the captivity, than the omission of the name from Isa. 15:1; 17:1; 19:1, disproves Isaiah’s authorship in the case of the chapters named. All the other arguments that have been brought against the integrity or unity of authorship of the entire book, are founded upon false interpretations and misunderstandings; whereas, on the other hand, the integrity of the whole is placed beyond the reach of doubt by the testimony of tradition, which is to be regarded as of all the greater value in the case of Zechariah, inasmuch as the collection of the prophetic writings, if not of the whole of the Old Testament canon, was completed within even less than a generation after the prophet’s death. Zechariah’s mode of prophesying presents, therefore, according to the cursory survey just given, a very great variety. Nevertheless, the crowding together of visions is not to be placed to the account of the times after the captivity; nor can any foreign, particularly Babylonian, colouring be detected in the visions or in the prophetic descriptions. The habit of leaning upon the prophecies of predecessors is not greater in his case than in that of many of the prophets before the captivity. The prophetic addresses are to some extent rich in repetitions, especially in Zec. 7 and 8, and tolerably uniform; but in the last two (2) oracles they rise into very bold and most original views and figures, which are evidently the production of a lively and youthful imagination. This abundance of very unusual figures, connected with much harshness of expression and transitions without intermediate links, makes the work of exposition a very difficult one; so that Jerome and the rabbins raise very general, but still greatly exaggerated, lamentations over the obscurity of this prophet. The diction is, on the whole, free from Chaldaisms, and formed upon the model of good earlier writers. For the proofs of this, as well as for the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 310ff.
MALACHI. Translated by James Martin. Introduction:
1. Person of the Prophet……Period of Malachi…..
2. Book of Malachi contains one single prophecy, the character of which is condemnatory throughout. Starting with the love which the Lord has shown to His people (Mal. 1:2-5), the prophet proves that not only do the priests profane the name of the Lord by an unholy performance of the service at the altar (Mal. 1:6; 2:9), but the people also repudiate their divine calling both by heathen marriages and frivolous divorces (Mal. 2:10-16), and by their murmuring at the delay of the judgment; whereas the Lord will soon reveal Himself as a just judge, and before His coming will send His messenger, the prophet Elijah, to warn the ungodly and lead them to repentance, and then suddenly come to His temple as the expected angel of the covenant, to refine the sons of Levi, punish the sinners who have broken the covenant, and by exterminating the wicked, as well as by blessing the godly with salvation and righteousness, make the children of Israel the people of His possession (Mal. 2:17-4:6). The contents of the book, therefore, arrange themselves in three (3) sections: Mal. 1:6-2:9; 2:10-16; 2:17-4:6. These three (3) sections probably contain only the leading thoughts of the oral addresses of the prophet, which are so combined as to form one single (1) prophetic address. Throughout the whole book we meet with the spirit which developed itself among the Jews after the captivity, and assumed the concrete forms of Phariseeism and Saduceeism. The outward or grosser kind of idolatry had been rendered thoroughly distasteful to the people by the sufferings of exile; and its place was taken by the more refined idolatry of dead-work righteousness, and trust in the outward fulfilment of the letter of the divine commands, without any deeper confession of sin, or penitential humiliation under the word and will of God. Because the fulness of salvation, which the earlier prophets had set before the people when restored to favour and redeemed from captivity, had not immediately come to pass, they began to murmur against God, to cherish doubts as to the righteousness of the divine administration, and to long for the judgment to fall upon the Gentiles, without reflecting that the judgment would begin at the house of God (Amos 3:2; 1st Pe. 4:17). Malachi fights against this spirit, and the influence of the time in which he lived is apparent in the manner in which he attacks it. This style is distinguished from the oratorical mode of address adopted by the earlier prophets, and not unfrequently rises into a lyrico-dramatical diction, by the predominance of the conversational form of instruction, in which the thought to be discussed is laid down in the form of a generally acknowledged truth, and developed by the alternation of address and reply. In this mode of developing the thought, we can hardly fail to perceive the influence of the scholastic discourses concerning the law which were introduced by Ezra; only we must not look upon this conversational mode of instruction as a sign of the defunct spirit of prophecy, since it corresponded exactly to the practical wants of the time, and prophecy did not die of spiritual exhaustion, but was extinguished in accordance with the will and counsel of God, as soon as its mission had been fulfilled. Malachi’s language, considering the later period in which he lived and laboured, is still vigorous, pure, and beautiful. “Malachi,” as Nägelsbach says in Herzog’s Cyclopaedia, “is like a late evening, which brings a long day to a close; but he is also the morning dawn, which bears a glorious day in its womb.”
For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, p. 318; also Aug. Koehler’s Wiessagungen Maleachi’s erklärt, Erl. 1865.