A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, & Homiletical, with Special Reference to Ministers & Students by John Peter Lange, D.D., Ordinary Professor of Theology in the University of Bonn, in Connection with a Number of Eminent European Divines. Translated, Enlarged, & Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., Professor of Theology in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, Connection with American Scholars of Various Evangelical Denomination. Volume 14 of the Old Testament: containing the Minor Prophets. New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893. 2014, google scan.
The Minor Prophets, Exegetically, Theologically, & Homiletically Expounded by Paul Kleinert, Otto Schmoller, George R. Bliss, Talbot W. Chambers, Charles Elliott, John Forsyth, J. Frederick McCurdy, & Joseph Packard. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D.
Jonah. Preface by the General Editor:
The volume accordingly contains the following parts, each one being paged separately
1. General Introduction to the Prophets, especially the Minor Prophets, Rev. Charles Elliott, D.D., Professor of Biblical Exegesis in Chicago, Illinois. General Introductions of Kleinert and Schmoller are too brief and incomplete for our purpose, and therefore I requested Dr. Elliott to prepare an independent essay on the subject.
2. HOSEA. Rev. Dr. Otto Schmoller. Translated from German & enlarged by James Frederick McCurdy, M.A., of Princeton, N. J.
3. JOEL. Otto Schmoller. Translated & enlarged by Rev. John Forsyth, D.D., LL.D., Chaplain & Professor of Ethics & Law in the United States Military Academy, West Point, N. Y.
4. AMOS. Otto Schmoller. Translated and enlarged by Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, D.D., Pastor of Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, New York.
5. OBADIAH. Rev. Paul Kleinert, Professor of Old Testament Theology in University of Berlin. Translated & enlarged by Rev. George R. Bliss, D.D., Professor in University of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
6. JONAH. Prof. Paul Kleinert, of University of Berlin. Translated & enlarged by Rev. Charles Elliott, Professor of Biblical Exegesis in Chicago.
7. MICAH. Prof. Paul Kleinert, of Berlin, & Prof. George R. Bliss, of Lewigburg.
8. NAHUM. Prof. Paul Kleinert, of Berlin, & Prof. Charles Elliott, of Chicago.
9. HABAKKUK. Professors Kleinert & Elliott.
10. ZEPHANIAH. Professors Kleinert & Elliott.
11. HAGGAI. James Frederick McCurdy, M.A., Princeton, N. J.
12. ZECHARIAH. Rev. Talbot W. Chambers, D.D., New York. (See special preface.)
13. MALACHI. Rev. Joseph Packard, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature in Theological Seminary at Alexandria, Virginia.
Philip Schaff. Union Theological Seminary, New York, January, 1874.
General Introduction to Prophetic Writings of Old Testament, especially Minor Prophets. Rev. Charles Elliott, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature & Exegesis in Chicago, Illinois. In Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Northwest, Chicago, Illinois. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1874.
General Introduction to Minor Prophets.
I. Meaning of Words Prophet & Prophecy.
II. Prophetical Institution & Order.
III.Contents & Sphere of Prophetical Writings.
IV. Doctrinal Prophecy. Doctrine of God.
V. Predictive Prophecy. Its Structure.
VI. Prophetic Style.
VII. Schools of Prophetical Interpretation.
VIII. Canon of Prophetical Predictive Books.
Chronological Arrangement of Prophetical Books:
The following table is copied, with some changes, from that of Otto Schmoller, the author of the Commentaries upon Hosea, Joel, and Amos. Other dates, in some cases, are assigned by different Commentators, whose arguments, in support of them can be found in the special Introductions to the several books. They are all briefly exhibited in O.R. Hertwig’s tables for an Introduction to the Canonical and Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament:
1. Pre-Assyrian Period.
Prophets: B.C. (dates) [dates].
Obadiah: (c. 890-880 ?) .
Joel: (c. 850).
Jonah: (c. 825-790).
Amos: (c. 810-783).
Hosea: (c. 790-725 ?). [called Uzziah 2nd Kings 15:13 & 2nd Chron. 26:1].
Kings of Judah: B.C. (dates) [dates].
5. Joram: (889).
6. Ahazjah: (884).
7. (Athaliah: 883).
8. Jehoash: (877).
9. Amaziah: (838).
10. Azariah: (810).
Kings of Israel: B.C. (dates) [dates].
9. Joram: (896).
10. Jehu: (883).
11. Jehoahaz: (856).
12. Jehoash: (840).
13. Jeroboam II: (824).
? (Anarchy. 783).
14. Zachariah: (772).
15. Shallum: (771).
2. Assyrian Period.
Prophets: B.C. (dates) [dates].
Isaiah: (c. 760-690).
Micah: (c. 768-710).
Zephaniah: (c. 639-609).
Jeremiah: (c. 628-583).
Habakkuk: (c. 608-590).
Ezekiel: (c. 594-535).
Destruction of Kingdom of Judah by Chaldaeans (588).
Kings of Judah: B.C. (dates) [dates].
11. Jotham: (758).
12. Ahaz: (742).
13. Hezekiah: (727).
14. Manasseh: (696).
15. Amon: (641).
Kings of Israel: B.C. (dates) [dates].
16. Menahem: (762).
17. Pekahiah: (760).
18. Pekah: (759).
19. Hoshea: (730).
(Overthrow of Kingdom of Israel by Assyrians. 722.)
3. Chaldaean Period.
Prophets: B.C. (dates) [dates].
Zephaniah: (c. 639-609).
Jeremiah: (c. 628–583).
Habakkuk: (c. 608-590).
Ezekiel: (c. 594-535).
Kings of Judah: B.C. (dates) [dates].
16. Josiah: (639).
17. Jehoahaz: (609).
18. Jehoiakim: (608).
19. Jehoiachin: (599).
20. Zedekiah: (598).
Destruction of Kingdom of Judah by Chaldaeans (588).
4. Captivity & Exile Period.
Prophets: B.C. (dates) [dates].
(588 – c . 536).
Jeremiah: (c. 628-583).
Ezekiel: (c. 594-535).
Daniel: (c. 605-536).
5. Post-Exile Period.
Prophets: B.C. (dates) [dates].
Haggai: c. 520-525.
Zechariah: c. 520-510.
Malachi: c. 433-424.
Kings of Persia: B.C. (dates) [dates].
Darius Hystaspis: 521-486.
Artaxerxes Longimanus: 433–424.
Minor Prophets: Order & Dates: B.C. (?)
[O.R. Hertwig’s Tables, Page 50.]
1. Hebrew Text: 1-12: 1-7: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum; 8-9: Habakkuk, Zephaniah; 10-12: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
2. Greek LXX: 1-12: 1-7: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum; 8-9: Habakkuk, Zephaniah; 10-12: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
3. General Chronological Periods: 1-7 = Assyrian. 8-9 = Chaldaean. 10-12 = Post-Exile.
4. De Wette: 1-12: 1-7: Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah; 8-9 = Habakkuk, Obadiah; 10-12: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
5. Special Chronological Periods: 1-7: 800, ?, 790, c. 785, 725, 710, 640; 8-9: 605, 570; 10-12: 520, ?, 440.
6. Keil: 1-12: 1-7: Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nahum; 8-9: Habakkuk, Zephaniah; 10-12: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
7. Special Chronological Periods:
(824-788) Jeroboam II.
(810-788) Jeroboam II & Uzziah.
(790-725) Jeroboam II & Uzziah to Hezekiah.
(758-700) Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah.
(710-699) 2nd half of Hezekiah’s reign.
(650-627) Manasseh or Josiah.
(519) In 2nd year of Darius Hystaspis.
(519 -?) Darius Hystaspis.
(483-423) Artaxerx .Longim.
8. Their Relations to 2 Kingdoms:
Kingdom of Israel: Jonah, Hosea, Amos.
Kingdom of Judah till (722): Joel, Obadiah, Micah.
Kingdom of Judah (722-688): Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah.
Judah after Exile: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
§ 1. Person of Prophet.
§ 2. Book of Prophet.
We have in the Canon under the name of Hosea one (1) book in fourteen (14) chapters.
With regard to its contents. We have seen above that it is mainly occupied with the more northerly of the two (2) kingdoms, although the kingdom of Judah is not therefore kept out of sight, being alluded to repeatedly, especially in chaps. 5 and 6, in conjunction with Israel. What then has it to say with reference to that kingdom? A single glance into our book is sufficient to inform us. It is chiefly occupied with a most severe testimony against the national apostasy from Jehovah, and the deep and prevailing moral and civil corruption which appears throughout as the fruit of that apostasy, and in immediate connection therewith, an announcement of divine judgments, which increases in severity until the utter destruction of the kingdom itself is foretold. But this does not exhaust the purport of the book; for, like the other prophetic writings, it contains too an abundant storehouse of promise. By the side of the severe threatenings, though these occupy by far the larger space in the book, there are found words of promise most richly unfolded, not merely as a hope of future conversion and thus of the return of better days, but as a definite announcement that the time was coming when the people, purified by chastisement and returning in grief and penitence to their God, should again find acceptance with Him, and that thereby their kingdom should be restored, not in its then abnormal and divided condition, but as one (1) united body, under a King of the line of David.
But this view only presents the meaning of the book externally, and exhibits only the germs of that which it was the special province of the prophetic writings chiefly to unfold.
It is just with our Prophet that this exhibition cannot satisfy. He presents these general truths in a form peculiar to himself; he would at least, beside the one, the threatening place the other, the promise, but he labors to regard from a single (1) point of view the position which Jehovah bears to Israel and so specially to the kingdom of the ten tribes, and from this to explain both the threatening and the promise; to view them, namely, in the light of Jehorah’s love to Israel as his people.
In this love of God (and not simply in his righteousness) are rooted, according to Hosea, even the threatening and announcement of punishment, with which he is chiefly occupied. For it was because Jehovah’s love embraced his people from the beginning that He could not suffer any apostasy from him, but must become angry at it, must chastise it, must even slay and destroy it utterly, that is, in its corporate existence. All threatening and chastisement is really the indignation and zeal of love, born of sorrow anıd therefore all the more intense. Hence the announcement of punislıment sounds forth in tones of terrific severity. But they also have their end in themselves. Love is indeed angry and most deeply so, but it is and remains nothing but love, for it is pained that it must be angry, and with all its wrath it can only aim to remove that which interrupts and prevents the display of itself to the object beloved, and must ever aim to secure salvation, reconciliation, and restoration, else it would itself stand in the way of realizing its object, and would thus contribute most surely to its own failure. From this stand-point, promise is seen to be as necessary as threatening, and in proportion to the severity of the latter must be the richness of the former, as flowing from the love of God, and not simply from a certain compassion coexisting with his punitive righteousness, or froin his faithfulness, by which the covenant is maintained, as though his truthfulness alone were to be kept unimpeachable. If, therefore, we do not wish to rest content with a superficial view of the book, we must regard its meaning from this stand-point as expressed in the following estimate: “The prophetic exhibition of the love of God, wounded sorely and in numberless ways by Israel’s guilt, and therefore necessarily a chastening love, though ever remaining unchanged in its inner nature, which being so deeply grounded would not destroy, but heal and recall to itself.” Such are the words of Ewald, who has so correctly perceived and so beautifully expressed the fundamental thought of our book, but who views it too subjectively, too much as the inere outflow of the author’s own personal feelings, instead of something flowing from a deep insight into the nature of God himself. Yet he makes these admirable observations: “To this prophet the love of Jehovah is the deepest ground of his relation to Israel; that love was always active in forming the Church; it was injured and disturbed by Israel; it chastens now in deep pain, but can never deny itself or be extinguished; it would still deliver and will at length save all. All this is exhibited with the most glowing sympathy, and in a great variety of ways. But no image is here more expressive than that of marriage. As the wife is united to her busband by indissoluble and sacred bonds, and the faithful Husband justly feels angry at the unfaithful wife, punishes her or even casts her off for a time, but never can really cease to love her, so has the ancient Church, the mother of the churches now living, borne children, during her unfaithfulness to Jehovah, who resist Him unworthily, and yet the love of Jehovah never departs from them, although he is angry and punishes them.”
This last sentence may indicate also why we regard this relation of love between Jehovah and Israel not merely as the doctrinal background of the contents of our book, but an expression of those contents themselves. For Hosea, from the very opening, presents expressly this relation of Jehovah and Israel under this figure of the husband, who just because he is united to his wife by the bond of love, must as surely be indignant with her and punish her, as he must also be unable to let her go, but must hold out to her the prospect of a cordial reinstatement in her former relations.
The figure becomes indeed less prominent as the book advances, but appears through the whole sometimes more obscurely, sometimes more clearly, and even emerges again into the foreground in several passages. The conception of Israel’s conduct is based upon this image, partly as it is designated infidelity, whoredom, which applies not merely to idolatry itself, but sets forth the principle that underlies the false, untheocratic policy of the kingdom of the Ten (10) Tribes in its alliances with the world-powers; and partly and still more as every thing that is said of Jehovah’s conduct towards Israel, of warning, of threatening, of punishing, of promising, is rooted wholly in this fundamental idea of Jehovah’s love to Israel as his spouse drawn from the analogy of wedded love, except that this image of wedded love is interchanged with the figure of paternal love, equally strong in another direction, as especially in chap. 11 in accordance with the fact that the subject of that chapter is Jehovah’s conduct towards Israel in his childhood. This latter relation is thus placed parallel to a relation of personal love based upon a moral course of life. This view explains why our book, in a way so peculiar to itself, refers so much to Israel’s earlier history. For it is natural that love should remind the one beloved, who had become unfaithful and refused to reciprocate affection, of the beginning of their attachment; that the husband should recall to the wife, when such a rupture of the marriage tie has taken place, the first love with which he met the bride (as the father also reminds the backsliding son of the love displayed toward him in childhood). On the other hand when the course of infidelity is complete, he is led to remember the beginnings and foretokens of such behavior in earlier days, and he explains the present in the light of the past, justifies his anger and chastening in the present and his bitter complaints over the unfaithfulness of his wife, by adducing the complaints made and the punishments which had to be inflicted in former times. If the recollection of the past thus intensifies the bitterness of injured love, it is equally potent, on the other side, in preventing the extinction of love; for to the wounded and deeply injured one it again presents the attachment in its whole extent, and forces the thought upon him irresistibly and imperceptibly: “This is the one upon whom thou hast bestowed thy love, with whom thou hast been and art united in love, and whom, therefore, thou canst not let go from thee utterly and forever.”
If we now consider the contents of the particular divisions of the book, we find this much to be clear at the outset; first (1st), that chaps. 1 and 2, and next that chaps. 4-14 are closely connected. With regard to the first (1st) and smaller division, chaps. 1 and 2, the fact is more incontestable than with regard to the second (2nd) and longer one, which, in any case demands itself a subordinate division. The question is now, how we are to reckon chap. 3. It has been attached by some to chaps. 4-14, as their introduction. But the correct view will be found to be given in the words of Hävernick, that “the symbolical method of representation unites the first three (3) chapters into one (1) whole.” And if we are reminded of the somewhat abrupt introduction of chap. 3, we must observe that an explanation of the symbol is given in vers. 4, 5, –an explanation in plain words, in fact the first one which occurs, of the discourse in chap. 2, which from ver. 4 onwards is figurative throughout, representing Israel as an adulterous wife, so that we here arrive at a conclusion which clearly expresses the sense of what precedes.
It will more clearly appear that the view which regards chap. 3 as belonging with chaps. 1 and 2 is the correct one, if we remember that the contents of chap. 1 (and therefore also of chap. 2) certainly fall in an earlier period than the discourse in chaps. 4-14 (as chaps. 1-2 relate expressly to the “beginning of the word of Jehovah to Hosea”), namely, in the period preceding the fall of the house of Jehu (chap. 1:4), while chaps. 4-14 belong to the second (2nd) period defined above, after its fall; for it is in that portion that Assyria first (1st) appears, which is decisive. If now the symbolical narrative in chap. 1 must have appeared earlier than chaps. 4-14, it is only proper to suppose that chap. 3, so analogous to it, falls in the same period, that we have here generally fragments drawn from the earlier part of the Prophet’s ministry, and that therefore chaps. 1-3 form a connected whole. It is thus natural to assume that the symbolical mode of presentation, in general, characterizes the earlier period of the Prophet’s labors.
We thus assume two (2) main divisions: chaps. 1-3 and chaps. 4-14, and in favor of such partition have not only internal grounds but also an external argument, namely, that each part is the product of a distinct period. The one of earlier origin is, however, comparatively small, and the opinion is plausible that the Prophet, in committing the whole to writing, prefixed the former part as a kind of introduction to the greater prophetic discourse which constituted the main division, like a vestibule inviting an entrance. The contents, also, are appropriate to this purpose with their symbolical actions and figurative discourses. It has something enigmatic, surprising, straining the attention, and so preparing the way for reaching and hearing what is expressed in a simple, literal form.
The first introductory portion (chaps1-3) which contains “the beginning” of the divine revelation to Hosea, describes the (spiritual) adultery of the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes in its apostasy from Jehovah to idolatry, and the conduct of Jehovah towards this unfaithful spouse. The most severe punishment even to rejection is threatened against it, but, as the end and aim of such punishinent, new and higher blessedness is held out in prospect.
This is set forth in three (3) sections, each of which contains both threatening and promise, with the aim of showing clearly how little these are to be separated, how, rather, both (2) have a common source in the love which Jehovah has to Israel, since He stands united with it in (spiritual) marriage.
1. Chap. 1:2-2:3. The Prophet must symbolically, by a marriage with a wife of whoredom, hold up to Israel its sin, and, by the names of the children born of this marriage, announce its rejection (1:2-9). Yet its future acceptance and reunion are immediately pictured with a few outlines (2:1-3).
2. In copious, extraordinarily vivid, and, especially in the latter portion, most sublime language, Jehovah unbosoms Himself to his unfaithful spouse, Israel. He utters a severe accusation against her, and proclaims that she shall be punished by falling into a condition of extreme want, that she shall be laid waste (vers. 4-15). But with this new “leading into the desert” a change occurs; Jehovah concludes a new alliance, rich in blessing, with the spouse returning in penitence to Him (vers. 16-25).
3. Chap. 3. The Prophet must again show symbolically by his conduct towards the wife of whoredom, whom he was commanded to marry, that God still loves his adulterous wife, Israel, and would only in his love humble her, that she might return to Him.
The second (2nd) division, the main portion of the book (chaps. 4-14), the product of a later period, as we saw above, is in form distinguished from the earlier part by the entire absence of symbolical acts, the discourse being literal throughout. The purport is, however, similar in its essential features, inasmuch as here also punishment and even destruction (on account of its apostasy) are announced to the kingdom of Israel. But at the same time also it is predicted that it shall be received back on the ground of its expected conversion; indeed a time of richest blessing is at last held out to it in prospect. Jehovah appears here also as one who loves Israel, and must therefore punish it for infidelity, though as unable to give it up, and as being forced to be again merciful and to bless according to the law of love. The object is accordingly essentially the same; this inability to give up Israel, this ultimate favor and blessing form here also the picture of the future. But it costs labor, as it were, to realize this aim; the threatening is so severe. This constitutes by far the largest portion of the whole, and only after it has disclosed its full severity, does promise break through, when Jehovah seems as it were to call to mind his former love for his people, thus showing that from the beginning love did not fail, but that even his accusings and threatenings arose from deeply wounded love. This suggests already that the ground upon which the prophecy proceeds, is changed. Idolatry, as unfaithfulness to Jehovah is, it is true, always the fundamental offense on account of which judgment is declared, but to this is added not only moral pollution, but also dissolution of the state, and especially the pursuance of a false policy altogether opposed to the character of a people of God, which sought help in external aid against the distresses which invaded them, partly in Assyria and partly in Egypt. It is the unfaithfulness of Ephraim towards Jehovah, mainly in this form of a political attitude entirely untheocratical, against which the prophet appears, and on account of which he announces judgment, the punishment threatened being destruction by those very world-powers, Egypt, and especially Assyria.
This second (2nd) main division, of such large extent, calls itself for a division. But this is a matter of great difficulty. It is, however, certain that the attempt to assign the several chapters to different periods of time, and thus to view the succession of the chapters as determined by the order of their composition (Maurer and Hitzig among others), must be unsuccessful, even if it be conceded that these chapters did proceed originally from different occasions. It is remarkable, for example, that in chaps. 4, 5, 6 Judah is mentioned frequently along with Ephraim, while afterwards it retreats more into the background, so that it is natural to infer different situations as their occasions. But as the whole lies before us at present, there is a certain unity apparent, though it is difficult to follow difinitely the course of thought. We must abandon the supposition of a strictly logical arrangement of the parts in view of the nature of the language, marked, as it is, by excitement and constantly surprising abruptness. Different expositors adopt most widely differing divisions, while others abandon the attempt altogether.
It is clear, at the outset, that from chap. 4 onwards accusation of Israel occupies the chief place, as describing its degradation and guilt; and Ewald has rightly perceived that chap. 4 is to be separated as containing a general charge, relating to the apostasy generally of the people from Jehovah, and the moral deterioration thereby induced. Then in chap 5 the denunciation is more specially directed against those of exalted position (comp. vers 1), and as its subject, in addition to the general unfaithfulness to Jehovah, something special enters, namely the false, untheocratic policy of “going after Egypt and after Assyria.” This is, at all events, the new element here, and in attempting to exhibit the progress of thought, this point must so far be made prominent. In chap. 6 this does not appear, but the chapter is so closely connected with chap. 5, that no partition is supposable. On the other hand the denunciation of the untheocratic policy becomes still more marked in chap. 7, being there directed chiefly against the court itself, while chaps. 5 and 6 seem to be aimed more particularly at the priests. Hence chap. 7 also is to be combined with these chapters. So in all these chapters the threat of punishment is uniformly united with the accusations. But actual announcement of judgment appears first (1st) in chap. 8, accusations however being still uttered. Compare the beginning, chap. 8:1, and it seems to show more especially that the punishment, namely, the transportation into Egypt and Assyria, and therefore, the destruction of the state, the carrying away into captivity, is presented as the reverse side of the calling upon Egypt and going to Assyria. For the same reason chaps. 9 and 10 are to be added with chap. 7. Chap. 10:15 forms a fitting close to this section. But the contrast to the transportation to Egypt and Assyria appears again only in chap. 11:11, so that we stand first upon new ground in that passage.
Thus with chap. 11 begins a new section, and with it enters promise. Jehovah’s love to Israel, which seemed to be utterly swallowed up in the announcement of judgment, here breaks forth. At first (1st), indeed, only in the form of a reminder of its manifestations in early times, how it was vouchsafed to Israel in childhood. This is naturally expressed in a sorrowful complaint against that Israel, who now in his manhocd requites that love so ill, displaying in his apostasy the basest ingratitude. Hence we have again in chap. 11:5, the most severe threatening. But Jehovah has again brought his love to remembrance; it is He that loves Israel, as had been already shown in the beginning; this love is his essential disposition towards Israel, and thus cannot in the present belie itself; it oversteps wrath and appears as mercy, and promise breaks forth on its shining way, like the sun after dark and long distressing clouds. The brief recollections of former times in chaps. 9 and 10 only served to give point to the keen accusings. But in chap. 11 the sun breaks forth brightly. It is promise that now prevails.
But the storm is not yet past. In chaps. 12 and 13 denunciation and announcement of punishment reappear. Yet, if they are still severe, they are much less protracted. But, chiefly, there seems to be a new standpoint gained. It is the past that is dwelt upon, namely, what had transpired between Jehovah and Israel in former days. But this is a great step gained. Hence the weighty words are twice uttered: “I am Jehovah, thy God, from the land of Egypt” (chaps. 12:10; 13:4). This thought does, it is true, serve to sharpen the complaint, and with it to sharpen the threatening; but that people cannot be given up who have, from the beginning, Jehovah as their God. Hence in chap. 14:2-4, the exhortation to return, which shows clearly his determination not to give them up; and now, upon the ground of their expected conversion, love at last flows forth in the fullest promise, which is no longer merely a cessation of punishment, as in chap. 11:9 ff., but, positively, holds out in prospect a glorious state of blessedness.
The course of thought is accordingly not perfectly undeviating, but, especially towards the close after the highest point has been reached, rather deflected, as it tends towards the conclusion through the wrestling of love and justice, which it thus expresses. Ewald assumes after chap. 11, a sort of preliminary conclusion, marking an interruption in writing. It is, at all events, correct to assume that the train of thought has then reached a certain completion, after which the former order of the discourse is again taken up.
The following scheme will exhibit our attempt to divide the section:
Jehovah pleads with Israel, his beloved but unfaithful spouse (comp. chap. 4:1).
I. First (1st) Discourse (chaps. 4-11).
1. Chaps. 4-7. The complaint, addressed:
a.) (Chap. 4) against the people as a whole, on account of their idolatry and deep depravation of morals promoted by the priests.
b.) (Chaps. 5-7): against the rulers (priests, chaps. 5-6), court (chap. 7), espeially on account of their ungodly and calamitous alliance with the powers of the world.
2. Chaps. 8-10. The judgment, extending even to the carrying away of the people to bondage under Assyria.
3. Chap. 11. Mercy; God cannot utterly destroy Israel, whom He has always loved, but will again have compassion upon them even though they have most vilely requited his love.
II. Second (2nd) Discourse (chaps. 12-14.).
1. Chap. 12. Complaint is once more resumed, and —
2. Chap. 13. Judgment is most emphatically declared; but
3. Chap. 14. Hope of Conversion, love finally flows forth in the promise of richest blessing.
[Those who may wish to become acquainted with the various methods of dividing the book which have been proposed, will find them exhibited and discussed in the Biblical Repertory, Jan. 1859, art. “Book of Hosea,” by Prof. Green, of Princeton. A division having much to recommend it is that adopted by him from Keil, according to which each of the two (2) main sections (chaps. 1-3, 4-14) is divisible into three (3) smaller ones (1:2-2:1, 2:2–23, 3; 4:1-6:3, 6:4-11:11, 11:12-14:9). Each of these smaller sections in both of the main divisions is marked by its beginning with denunciation and ending with promise. –M.]
In harmony with the fundamental thought of our book, as above presented, according to which it describes the sorrow and indignation of Jehovah’s love, so sorely wounded by Israel’s infidelity, the language is of a peculiarly emotional and impassioned character, reflecting unmistakably the rush and swell of the feelings. “This anguish of love at the faithlessness of Israel so completely fills the mind of the Prophet, that his rich and lively imagination seeks perpetually by variety of imagery and fresh turns of thought, to open the eyes of the sinful nation to the abyss of destruction beside which it is standing. His profound sympathy gives to his language the character of excitement, so that for the most part he merely hints briefly at the thoughts instead of studiously elaborating them, passes with abrupt changes from one figure or simile to another, and moves forward in short sentences and oracular utterances, rather than in gently rounded discourse.” (Keil.) Jerome (Præf. in XIT Proph. Min.) says of him : “Commaticus (literally, cut up = short) est et quasi per sertentias loquens.” Eichhorn (Introduction, $ 555, p. 286) says not unaptly: “The style of the Prophet is like a garland woven of various kinds of flowers, comparisons intertwined with comparisons. He breaks off one flower and throws it away, only to break off another inmediately. He flies like a bee from one bed of flowers to another, bringing the honey of his varied sentences.” With these features are connected manifold anomalies in the structure of his clauses, rugged transitions, ellipses, asyndetical constructions, inversions, and anacolutha. Add to this that his diction is marked by rare words and forms and unusual combinations , and it may be conceived how difficult is the exposition of the book. “One must often read between the lines if he would establish the connection between the several thoughts and sentences. We will not be charged with overstatement, if we assert that the Prophet is in this respect one of the most difficult of the prophets of the Old Covenant, and indeed of all the Biblical writers.” (Wünsche.)
The abruptness of the language, reaching often to obscurity, does not merit any censure, for this peculiarity is to be explained from the contents and the subject of which the Prophet was full. “His heart,” remarks Wünsche, “full of the deepest anguish, on account of the destruction and the inevitably approaching dissolution of the State, makes him neglect all artistic and harmonious treatment and exhibition of his theme.” And Ewald says with perfect correctness : “In Hosea there is a rich and lively imagination, a pregnant fullness of language, and, in spite of many strong figures, great tenderness and warmth of expression. His poetry is throughout purely original, replete with vigor of thought and purity of presentation. Yet at one time we find the gentle and flowing predominate in his style, while at another it is violently strained and abrupt, and his irresistible pain causes him often to give a hint of his meaning without allowing him to complete it. There is also thrown over the whole language the burden of the times and of the heart so oppressed by them.”
If, finally, we inquire into the composition of our book, we find no ground whatever for maintaining that the author was any other than the Prophet himself, or for the assumption that although the several discourses came from Hosea, they were yet first compiled by an other and later editor. It has been thought that their aphoristic character justifies such a hypothesis, but we are convinced that this is not so marked as one would certainly suppose at first (1st) sight, and that the several portions are not only governed by one (1) fundamental idea, which would probably have become still more obscured in the hands of a later redactor of such fragments, but that the several parts are brought into a definite order and connection. There can therefore be scarcely a doubt that our book came from the hands of the Prophet precisely in that form in which we possess it to-day. “On closer examination the book is seen to form a complete whole executed according to a fixed artistic plan, and with corresponding beauty. This artistic plan and execution only need to be rightly understood in order to show us that it was finally published as a whole, and in its present form, by the Prophet himself.” (Ewald.) But as to the relation in which this book stands to the numerous prophetic utterances of Hosea, we are compelled to assume that we have not in this book those discourses presented in their original form. If this had been the intention of the Prophet, we should have had a greater number. Moreover the book is framed too decidedly according to a certain plan, making it clear that it was designed to form a continuous and regular composition. We have therefore to regard it as a selection from his discourses, or more correctly, as a free and independent working-up of the substance of them by the Prophet himself. His several utterances are combined by him into one (1) complete picture. He would employ not only his lips but also his pen, and by his writings would testify concerning the holy anger of the love of God, and thus appeal to the consciences of the people.
But here the question may be asked, whether our book is the first (1st) product of Hosea’s pen, whether, more particularly, earlier writings are not embodied in it. At the outset it is certainly to be assumed that Hosea was in the habit of writing down his several discourses But keeping this in view, the difference between the first part of the book (chaps. 1-3) and the second (chaps. 4 ff.) is so significant, the contents of the first (1st) part, moreover, falling in an earlier period, that Ewald’s conjecture has much to support it: that chaps. 1-3 contain the substance of an earlier composition of Hosea, which he embodied in the present one when he executed it. Even if we hesitate to go so far as this, we must probably assume that the separate sections of chaps. 1-3 had been published already by the Prophet, since we have in the narratives of the symbolical actions merely the drapery in which they were to be presented to the world and not actual occurrences (see below). For in those chapters punishments were announced which were inflicted at a time earlier than the completion of the whole book. The Prophet could incorporate into his book only at a later period earlier actual events; but these symbolical transactions existed only in the mind of the prophet, and in publishing them he must have come forth at a time when these parabolic narratives could address themselves to the conscience of the people, and therefore a considerable period before the composition of the whole book, which, as we now have it, contains, in its second (2nd) part, discourses of a much later time. Such publication of the symbolical transactions might indeed have been at first (1st) only oral; but the contents of these sections seem less appropriate to that mode of announcement.
The preservation of the whole book in the destruction of the kingdom of the Ten (10) Tribes may be readily explained. Through the intercourse which was kept up between the prophets of the Lord in the two (2) kingdoms, it was carried soon aster its composition into Judah, and became widely diffused in the circle of the prophets, and was thus preserved, as Jeremiah especially has made frequent use of it in his predictions. Comp. Aug. Küper, Jeremias, Librorum SS. Interpres atque Vindex. Berlin, 1837, p. 67 ff.” (Keil.)
After what has been said it will scarcely be necessary to add anything special in the way of exhibiting the importance of our prophetic book in Old Testament history and doctrine. Into the internal relations of the kingdom of the ten (10) tribes, against which he, like his older contemporary, Amos, directs his words of rebuke and threatening (by which these two (2) prophets mark a new step in prophecy, in distinction from Joel and Obadiah, regarding the heathen not merely as the objects but also as the instruments of the divine judgment, which is inflicted with the greatest severity against the people of God themselves), –into the internal relations of this kingdom Hosea gives us the deepest insight, and affords a most essential addition to the knowledge which we have thereon from his older contemporary. As to its doctrinal teaching, however, there can be no doubt as to the significance of a book, which regards the relation of Jehovah to Israel so profoundly and specially from the standpoint of holy love, of a holy wrath of love, and looks so far into the depths, into the intensity as well as into the sincerity, of such love as, in the examination of the contents and fundamental thought of the prophecy, we have shown that it does. In this he stands above his nearest predecessor, Amos. That prophet also discerns the favor of God shining again as last upon his people after the tempests of his wrath. But he grounds it upon the consciousness that this judgment is and shall be only one of trial and not of destruction, and hat room is thus prepared for mercy through the revelation of wrath, while Hosea traces back this duality in the divine revelation to the nature of God Himself, by his more profound conception of the divine love.
Our book is therefore truly a classic for the right understanding of the Old Testament conception of God with its interaction of love and wrath, and of the nature of the Old Testament revelation concerning God. Only such a God who can so be angry and so love, who in all His love so displays anger and in all His anger so displays love, could give by his Only-begotten Son to the accursed death for the deliverance of rebellious man.
§ 3. Symbolical Transactions in Chaps. I & III.
What is recounted in these chapters is so peculiar, and has always been regarded under such different views, that a more intimate discussion cannot here be foreborne: and to it we shall therefore devote a separate section in the Introduction. In this the results of the exegesis of the passages in question are of course to be anticipated, and must therefore be referred to here. This much is however certain that, according to the narrative, mention is made of a marriage of the Prophet with an urchaste woman at the command of God himself. Here we have a stone of stumbling. It is true that the ground of moral offense contained herein does not exist according to some interpreters, inasmuch as the “wife of whoredom” whom the Prophet is to marry, is regarded as being such in the spiritual sense in which a “whoring” of Israel is spoken of = serving idols; that Hosea had scruples about marrying a whorish, that is an idolatrous woman; and that it is commanded him not to stand aloof from her but to exhibit symbolically in his own domestic fortunes, that is, by his union with such a woman, Jehovah’s relation to his people. But this view is quite untenable. For idolatry cannot be a symbol of idolatry, a marriage with an idolatress cannot be a symbol of a like marriage, namely, the marriage of Jehovah with an idolatrous people. This, altogether apart from the consideration that such a command of God to the prophet is not conceivable, that such marriage would have produced upon the people an effect exactly opposite to the one intended, namely, the presentation of idolatry to the consciousness as something sinful, if we can suppose that any effect was produced. Umbreit also seeks to establish more firmly the interpretation of the woman’s whoredom as spiritual whoredom, by maintaining that Hosea, in order to represent God’s marriage with Israel, was commanded to enter into marriage with Israel; but, since all Israel had become adulterous towards God, that he was obliged in order to enter the marriage relation with Israel, to unite himself to a whore in the spiritual sense = idolatress. Such a wife thus represents, as an individual, the whole people. And this outward marriage of the Prophet is the symbol of his spiritual marriage with his people. But Kurtz remarks rightly against this hypothesis, that the notion that the Prophet himself was to enter into a spiritual marriage with Israel is quite unfounded, that such a conception is not once found in the Old Testament, which knows only of a marriage of Jehovah with Israel; that the Prophet by his external marriage could symbolize only that spiritual marriage of Jehovah, and not his own spiritual marriage with Israel. For this reason his marriage, in order to represent the marriage of Jehovah with adulterous Israel, must be a marriage with a whorish woman in the outward sense.
Thus it is beyond question that it is such a marriage of the prophet that is here described, but the question is now: Must we assume an actual outward event in the life of the Prophet or not?
It is clear that we have before us a transaction which has a symbolical significance and is therefore in so far a symbolical transaction; but the question is just this, Is this an actual event intended as a symbol of a higher truth, or do we move outside the sphere of objective reality? The latter supposition does certainly seem, on the first view, to be excluded by the language employed, which does not give us the slightest hint that we have presented to as anything else than outward reality, but rather creates the impression that it is a record of actual events. And it is not to be maintained that the narrative has to do with somehing physically impossible, that it bears directly upon itself the stamp of unreality in the external sense. But it appears all the more probable that something morally impossible is described; for would it not be in the highest degree incredible that a prophet should marry an anchaste woman, and that at the express command of God? Hence the literal interpretation has been rejected already by the Chaldee Paraphrase and by the Jewish Commentators. But this plea is itself not altogether without difficulties. The reference to Lev. 21:7-14, at all events, prove’s nothing: for what is there forbidden to a priest cannot be directly transferred to a prophet (comp. Kurtz: “That prohibition is based upon the consideration that the priests were to represent the ideal holiness of the people, and is rooted in the same ground as is the law that a priest must be free from physical blemishes. The latter injunction is as far as possible from implying that physical defect is sin in an Israelite, and the same holds with regard to the former”). And then it is one thing to have intercourse with an unchaste woman, in order to practice fornication with her, and quite another to marry such a woman. The one is as assuredly sinful as the other is in itself not so, any more than it was for Jesus to be a friend of publicans and sinners. For the prophet would not have entered into such an alliance that he might be assimilated to the woman, but in order to raise her up to his own level, to rescue her from her sinful habits: “Non propheta perdidit pudicitiam furnicariæ copulatus, sed fornicaria assumsit pudicitiam, quam antea non habebat” (Jerome) [‘but no prophet loss chastity as a smelter united to a harlot, accept purity which he did not have before’. ?].
Such an alliance in the Prophet would have been in the very highest degree surprising. But it may be asked, Was it not intended to be so, in order that the people, in their astonishment at such an anomaly, should ask what it meant, and might then learn to their shame, that it held up to them a mirror in which they could perceive their own relations with God? The Prophet would reinforce his oral preaching by a preaching of outward action; this marriage would have been a lasting actual proclamation of punishment to the people, not impeding the influence of the Prophet, but furthering it.
But on a closer examination of this view, which understands actual events to be described, most serious objections to it are immediately suggested. A beautiful picture could have been drawn exhibiting the morally reforming influence of this alliance upon the light-minded wife and the neglected children of the first marriage, and how worthy of God it would have been, answering to his compassionate love seeking that which was lost! But of this there is not a syllable –not a syllable could be said. Rather, this idea, which alone could neutralize the moral objections against this alliance with an unchaste woman, is completely excluded by the whole spirit and aim of the command which the Prophet received. It is just the present “whorish” conduct of Israel, the still existing and continual and persistent infidelity towards Jehovah, that is represented by this marriage of the Prophet, and punishiment and rejection are then exhibited as the necessary fruit and conseqence of such conduct. Thus the “wife of whoredom,” whom the Prophet is to and does marry, is necessarily to be regarded as one who does not amend her ways, or is withdrawn from her life of sin by her alliance with the Prophet, but who even now in this alliance with him is conceived as practicing unchastity, who shows and proves herself to be unfaithful to her husband. Otherwise she would not be at all an image of Israel as thus situated, nor would this marriage be at all an image of the present conduct of Israel towards their husband, Jehovah. Strictly speaking, this wife of whoredom would have been bound, so long at least as her marriage with the Prophet was to testify to Israel of its sin, not to forsake her sinful life (until special corrective measures, related in chap. 3 should be taken with her, so that she might become a testimony of that which God, still retaining his love for Israel, would do to them).
There is no need to prove that the assumption of an actual occurrence would lead to an ethical monstrosity. With the design of this marriage to exhibit the conduct of Israel towards Jehovah, is most clearly connected a circumstance, which shows more plainly than ever the non-reality of the related transaction, namely, that the Prophet is expressly enjoined to take a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom. This is at first sight surprising, but becomes quite intelligible if we think of the design, of that which was to be exemplified, the conduct of Israel and all its individual members. Israel in the concrete is represented only by the latter; but this separation of a part from the whole is very frequently found in relation to Israel. Israel as the whole then appears as the mother, the individual members as the children (comp. chap. 2:4 ff.). Now both Israel as a whole and all the members of the people are unfaithful to Jehovah, they “commit whoredom.” If therefore the actual condition of affairs in its whole extent is to be represented by a marriage of the Prophet, he must take to wife a woman still practicing unchastity, and, at the same time gave children, who are children of whoredom, that is, naturally (see also below in the exegesis) not those who were the fruit of the illicit commerce of the mother (a woman characterized as a woman of whoredoin could, in fact, have no other, and the remark would be quite superfluous), but children who stand in the same relation to whoredom as the mother does, that is, who practice whoredom as she did, and bear therefore a faithful resemblance to her. How then is the Prophet to “take” these children of whoredom? Naturally the notion of such “taking,” which in the case of a woman means marrying, must be modified in the case of children. Two senses are supposable. One is that he obtains them by marriage as children already born to his wife. In that case he is obliged to find out an unchaste woman, who has children that already commit whoredom; and not only so, but they must actually continue that habit; for otherwise the symbol no longer meets the conditions of the case, the sign no longer agrees with the thing signified. In short, under the assumption of an objective reality in this transaction, we come again to an ethical monstrosity. But the case is still worse, if we understand “taking” the children in the sense of begetting them with the wife (and this view is the more probable one; see the exegesis below). For Jehovah is married to Israel, and they are unfaithful to Him; and Jehovah has begotten children by this marriage the individual members of the people –and they also are unfaithful to Him, they “commit whoredom.” So the Prophet, in order to manifest this, must not only take a wife of the above description, but also beget children by her who are of the same character as she, are unchaste like her. It might be known antecedently that they would be so; they are, so to speak, predestined to such a character; if it were otherwise, they would fail to perform their part, they would not represent what it was intended they should. To speak of actual reality in such a case is now a sheer impossibility. The thing signified, that which is to be represented, is revealed too clearly through the sign, that which is to set forth the relation; only one thing could make it plainer, namely, that the Prophet should add: of course this was not really done –but one must be almost blind to suppose, even for a moment, that it could be. The symbol is arranged simply in accordance with the thing to be symbolized, without reference to the consideration that in concrete reality it would encounter invincible obstacles: naturally such reference does not need to be had, because the transaction was not realized in concreto and in facto, but was only a plastic symbolizing of a certain condition of affairs which was to be denounced.
We must now go a step backwards. That which morally excites such objections lies not merely in the fact of this marriage with an unchaste woman, of whom again unchaste children were to be born, but also in its design. It is to be observed that the alliance spoken of has its aim purely out of itself, terminates in nowise upon itself, but is merely a mean to an end. This end is not the begetting of children. They are certainly to be begotten, but they are themselves only means to an end, with their significant names, which they receive in order to announce to the people their rejection. This marriage was thus to be contracted purely for the purpose of symbolizing another fact which lay altogether without the sphere of marriage. Such a conclusion cannot be disputed unless there is imported into the words something foreign to them. Let the words be followed closely, let not separate expressions: he went and took, etc., be emphasized, but the whole be accepted and understood as it reads, with no interlarding of all sorts of notions, about the use and plausibility of this alliance, of which nothing is indicated, and the narrative will be seen to relate to a marriage and procreation of children which are purely symbolical and described solely as serving the purposes of an emblematic representation. And that this transaction, considered as an occurrence of outward reality, is something inconceivable, opposed to the spirit and significance of marriage, is so clear, that the Prophet did not need to give the least hint of its unliteral character (if, indeed, that had been the custom of the Prophets). No; an actual marriage is not concluded simply in order to symbolize something different; the marriage is a symbol of a higher covenant. But its design is not realized in such symbolizing. That would be a trifling with the idea of marriage, agreeing but little with the profound conception of that state, which the Prophet brings to light in this very act of conceiving the relation between Jehovah and Israel as a marriage. I can give a name to a child born of a marriage, for the porpose of indicating something by it symbolically; but it would be something quite different if I were to enter into the married state simply for this purpose. And hence the reference to Is. 7:14; 8:3,4, where, however, an outward act is narrated, is altogether unsuitable. If recourse is had to the words of the text, it may be replied that many prophetic passages, e.g., Jer. 25:15 ff., Zech. 11, show clearly that the simple words of the narrative are not decisive. In such passages the words, taken literally, even when relating to symbolical transactions, seem to record an occurrence entirely objective, though no one supposes that they really do so. In other passages this inference is more patent, while here it is obscured, though only apparently so; for that which it is ethically inadmissible to suppose should be done by the command of God, is just as incredible as the occurrence of that which is plıysically impossible.
We have now to consider, finally, in what a brief period the action is performed, the rapidity with which the several acts are, and are intended to be, presented. It is the rapidity which, if the word may be allowed, is well suited to a dramatic conception, but not to concrete reality. By literalists the fact is entirely ignored that this symbolical course of teaching would have required three (3) years at least for its complete unfolding. And in connection with the other considerations the remark of Simson (in spite of the strictures of Kurtz) is perfectly just: “After each of the four (4) principal scenes which make up the symbolical narrative (vers. 2, 4, 6, 9), the explanation and occasion of the symbol follows, connected with ‘for’ in such a peculiar way, that it may be gathered indubitably, simply from this connection and the whole manner of expression, that the figure is not presented in its actuality, but is only devised for the sake of making evident to the senses the lessons it unfolds.” Thus the view which regards the actions described as real occurrences is seen to be untenable if we do not even go beyond the first section; nor do we need to add to the other arguments the relation of chap. 3 to our section. On the contrary, we think that arguments have been too much drawn from that portion of the book, and therefore too largely based upon external grounds, and for this reason less convincing than they should be.
Now after this negative result, that the narrative is not to be regarded as relating actual occurrences, the question first arises: What then does it relate? A vision? So the Jewish commentators, and in recent times especially Hengstenberg. This view does indeed surrender the externality of the transaction, but it holds to its actuality, only assuming that it was not experienced outwardly but inwardly. With regard to this hypothesis of a vision, it is admitted that a beholding” lies at the foundation of all prophetic announcement, that is, a vision in the wider sense (comp, the remarks on Amos, chap. 7). But we are not justified on this account in assuming at once that the Prophet was in an ecstatic state. There is not the least hint of such a thing given in our passage; for nothing is said of a vision in the narrower sense, and hence we are unwarranted in adopting such an assumption here. He certainly “beheld,” as all the prophets did, that which he here relates in parabolic discourse. It is thus that the narrative is most properly designated.
But it may be asked: If, according to the above reasoning, it leads to a series of monstrosities to regard the (symbolical) transaction as an actual occurrence, was it allowable for the Prophet even to present it in a parabolic dress? This objection, which it seems to be, is possible only under a misapprehension of the whole aim of the exhibition. The action represented is certainly bold, is surprising, is, we say directly, exorbitant. But it was just intended to be so. It was intended, as we remarked above, to rouse the hearer into uttering the question: What? do I hear aright? What do you say the prophet must do? The thing to be set forth, the thing signified, is something abnormal, contradictory, something which it seems could never occur, that Israel should “commit whoredom, departing from their God”; and not this merely, but also (which, to be sure, is the necessary consequence of the former) that God should reject this His people, His spouse, to whom He had always been faithful, to whom He had been so beneficent. Since this condition of affairs to be represented, the “thing signified,” was of such a character, it must be set forth by the description of an occurrence of a like kind, that is, one which is just as abnormal, contradictory, and unprecedented, thus necessarily rousing the attention to consider how a prophet could marry a whore at the bidding of God, and by her beget children, who should receive, also at God’s command, names indicative of punishinent, from their resemblance to their mother. There is therefore intentionally something monstrous, something ethically impossible, held up to the people as though it had happened, in order that it might be forced upon their consciousness, how utterly abnormal, how monstrous, how opposed to the right order of things, is that which they had done to God, and which He must do to them. That, therefore, which the prophet relates to the people is related to them, because it is something monstrous, but being so, it was just as certainly not a statement of actual fact for this very reason. If we were to maintain the opposite, we should mistake the design of the prophet. He would say: As Israel has acted towards God, and as He must treat his people in return so would I, the prophet, act if I were to marry a whorish woman. As impossible as the water is, so impossible should the former be; and yet alas it is a reality !
But it may be objected: The prophet’s marriage would indeed represent to the people their apostasy from Jehovah, and the names of the prophet’s children would bring perpetually to their consciousness the judgment which they must expect in return; but if that marriage did not take place, and the children never existed, how could such a design be carried out? Now, this objection is based simply upon an unwarranted supposition, and the inference drawn therefrom must be false. It is taken for granted that such an argumentatio ad oculos by outward action must have been made by the Prophet, that the Prophet intended to do so, judging from the statements of the book, and that therefore we have a narrative of actual occurrences, while it is never said that the prophet had any such intention. The Prophet may just as well have intended to appeal to the people, not by means of outward action, but by a discourse in which certain actions were the drapery of those truths which were to be proclaimed. Whether this discourse was originally oral or not, as other prophetical discourses usually were, or whether it existed from the beginning in a written form, we do not know. If the former supposition is correct, we are not obliged to assume, any more than in other prophetical discourses, that it possessed precisely the same form as that which we now have, since it would have the form appropriate to oral discourse. It is quite wrong, however, to insist that such a mere recital, –heard to-day and forgotten, perhaps, to-morrow,– could have but little influence, and make but little impression, for at least its fixed written form followed with its words speaking perpetualiy to the conscience. And it has been said already above in § 2, that such a fixed form was probably given to it before the composition of the whole book, as at present constituted, and during the period in which the discourses of the first (1st) part were pronounced.
But another argument still is adduced against the supposition of a parabolic recital, which is seen to be so necessary from all that has been said. It is urged that this would derogate from the character of the prophetic word; that the Prophet speaks expressly and repeatedly of a command of the Lord which he had received; that, if the whole were only a feigned transaction, the words, “the Lord said,” would be degraded into a meaningless, rhetorical phrase, which would be opposed to the divinely objective character of Prophecy. Certainly our whole position would be viewed with distrust, if this drapery of narrative in which the Prophet clothes his message of instruction and rebuke, which he records, and in which he makes mention of an express command of God, were to be regarded by him as only in arbitrary device (rhetorical or as being appropriate to the plan of the book). But what is there to support such an assumption? In this, as throughout his prophetic ministry, the Prophet rather acted and spoke from a divine impulse. He had beheld what he had to say to the people, reproach of their sinfulness and threatening of punishment, and how he had to say it, that is, he had received from God in spirit an authorization and an impulse to adopt this form of rebuke, to present his divine commission in the form of feigned events. It has been further remarked (e.g., by Kurtz), that we have the words: go, take, etc., and not: go, tell the people that thou hast taken a wife, etc. But this objection is without force. For the expression : “ The Lord said to Hosea, go, take to thyself,” etc., is itself included already in the parabolical discourse as well as vers. 4, 6, 9; and to insist that the Prophet must have given some hint that he was not intending to record an actual occurrence, argues a somewhat crude notion of the obligations of a writer. A parabolic discourse must not bear the appearance of being so; on the contrary it must present itself as describing actual events (comp. e.g., Judges 9:8 ; 2nd Sam. 12), though it does not really do so. It bears in itself a sapienti sat [self explantory] which shows that it does not, and thus our narrative is really two (2) fold. In general the fact is evidently always overlooked, that we have before us in these seemingly historical portions, not a statement concerning the Prophet, but the written discourse of the Prophet himself; that, therefore, behind the words there stands, so to speak, the prophet writing. It is not his duty to record events as an historian; and the inference is unwarranted, that he must do so because what he says has the form of an historical record. Hence, according to correct conceptions as to what different kinds of composition require, no objection based upon the form of representation can be made to the parabolic view. And the circumstance that the Prophet is spoken of in the third (3rd) person, cannot be aduced as a proof that he does not here speak and narrate (figuratively), and that a statement is made concerning him. It cannot, at least, by any one who regards the whole book to be he composition of the Prophet and not a mere compilation by another. Moreover, in chap. 2 the Prophet introduces himself as speaking of himself in the first (1st) person. And, finally it proves nothing that the name and origin of the woman are given. Even if the names are not applied appellatively (see in the exegesis), nothing would be more natural than to invent names for the occasion, which would be a device appropriate in a symbolical discourse
If we now turn to chap. 3 and hold the identity of the woman named there with the one in chap. 1, the question is decided of itself. For if the marriage, mentioned in chap. 1 of the Prophet with this woman, was not an actual occurrence, it is self evident that his dealings towards her in chap. 3 are not more historical. If he did not in reality marry this woman, then he did not actually perform what, in chap. 3, he is commanded to do, love her. The woman is, in chap. 1, only a feigned person, and if the same person is meant in chap. 3 she cannot be a real person. But if we regard the woman of chap. 3 as not identical with that of chap. 1, we have, in the fact that the Prophet becomes connected with another woman, disregarding his marriage with the one mentioned in chap. 1, we have here, I say, 3 clear indication, applying to the whole narrative from the beginning, that these descriptions do not relate to actual events in the Prophet’s life. For it is plain that the assumption of his separation from the first (1st) wife, or of her death in the interval, is only a device to escape from a dilemma. Such circumstances must bave been stated, if actual events had been related; but not a syllable is found to this effect, simply because it was assumed that no one would think of real occurrences.
But, leaving the consideration of the circumstances connected with the woman inentioned in chap. 1, and regarding simply by itself the command given to the Prophet in chap. 3 according to his own representation of it, we find the matter here to be somewhat different.
The fact is to be set forth that Jehovah preserves his faithfulness to Israel in spite of their unfaithfulness, and therefore does not utterly cast them off, but only adopts, for their good, corrective measures springing from such abiding faithfulness. Thus something is to be exemplified which would not be expected, since rejection would be the more natural course, but nothing which should not be, nothing which could be found fault with or would invite censure. And accordingly the symbol, or that which the Prophet was commanded to do, was not something ethically inadmissible or monstrous, but only something difficult, unusual, because involving great self-denial, namely, that he should remain faithful to an unfaithful wife. And what is declared to have been done by him is in the same way not something inadmissible, but only something unusual; for by a series of corrective measures the unfaithfulness of the wife is to be brought home to her heart, while, at the same time, it was to be shown that she would not be rejected. Now though it might appear as if very little could be urged in disproof of the actual occurrence of the event described (that is, if it be viewed as an isolated account), yet here also grave objections arise upon a closer examination. Even if the woman of chap. 3 is not to be identified with that of chap. 1, the former is hardly conceived of as being of another character than the latter. The woman is not one who was previously chaste and afterwards became unchaste, but one whose adultery is only the manifestation of her former disposition, and a continuation of her previous mode of life, and the Prophet would thus be represented as entering into such intimate relations with her –whether he married her or not would not be certain– which again would border closely upon the morally offensive and become for the Prophet an impossibility. Here the canon is again to be applied, that acts, which are of an essentially immoral nature and fall under moral criticism, cannot be regarded upon external grounds as having been actually performed by divine command. Thus a husband might, it is true, be so controlled by the thought of God’s faithfulness, as even to remain faithful to an unfaithful wife, that is, from moral and religious considerations, whether suggested by himself or by another. But this is not the case presented here: the narrative speaks not of an act undertaken or a course of conduct discontinued upon any such ground, but simply of a positive command of God, which was not intended to remind the husband of a duty demanded of him, but which was issued with the design of a manifestation of God’s attitude towards the people of Israel, a design altogether foreign to the nature of marriage or the injunction of fidelity.
The Prophet is represented as doing what he here does purely for this external purpose; not from the recognition of a duty, and not to call attention to such duty: he does it plainly in order to symbolize something different. This is perfectly agreeable to the parabolic mode of presentation; but as soon as we come to hold the notion of an actual transaction, I the moral sense revolts against it as against a trifling with things which belong essentially to the sphere of the moral and religious life, and therefore cannot be employed as means to serve another purpose. Finally, if we had real transactions presented to us and not a symbolical form, it could not be very well supposed that the woman, accepting the gift of the Prophet would be inclined to obey his cominand. The possibility of the opposite would rather have to be assumed, which was manifestly not the case. But in the parabolic narrative this happens naturally just as the purposes of instruction require.
On the question treated in this section compare the thorough discussion by John Marck, Diatribe de Muliere Fornicationum, Leyden, 1696, reprinted in his Comment. in 12 Proph. Min., ed. Pfaff, 1734; and in more recent times especially Hengstenberg, Christologie, i. 205 ff., who denies the actual occurrence of the events described, and the minute investigation of Kurtz, Die Ehe des Propheten Hosea (The Marriage of the Prophet Hosea], 1859, reprinted from the Dorpat Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, who holds as strongly to the literal interpretation.
[The question so fully discussed above is encumbered with difficulties so great as to seem almost insuperable, and it is probable that it will never be satisfactorily settled. Instances might even be quoted of the same interpreter holding directly opposite opinions within a very short period of time. If the history of interpretation were to be thoroughly surveyed, it might perhaps be found that the majority of distinguished names have been arrayed on the side of the literal view. It may be remarked, however, that among modern interpreters, the more reverent and cautious of those of Germany seem, as a general rule, to favor the theory that the prophet was not to fulfill the commands actually and outwardly. Among the Anglo-American Commentators, on the other hand, the preponderance of opinion still is, as it always has been, in favor of the literal interpretation. So among the recent writers, Pusey and Cowles. The opinion that the Prophet beheld the events in vision has been maintained by Pococke and lately by Fausset. This theory is discussed at length by Cowles in a dissertation appended to his Commentary, to which the reader is referred. It may be remarked, generally, that the main support upon which the defenders of the literal interpretation rely, is the nature of the language employed, bearing, as it does, not the slightest indication that the commands were to be fulfilled in any other than a literal inanner, and that the opponents of this theory take their stand chiefly upon the supposed moral impossibility of the literal fulfillment. The conclusion which each reader will arrive at for himself will depend mainly upon the relative force which these considerations may have upon his mind. –M.]
Chapter 1:1. The Word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Part First. Chapters 1:2-3:5. Chapters 1:2-2:3.
A. Rejection of Kingdom of Israel, & especially of the House of Jehu, on account of their “whoredom,” is symbolically announced. –Chap. 1:2-9.
B. And yet Israel will be again accepted by God. Chapter 2:1-3
Fuller Discourse of Jehovah Concerning His Adulterous Spouse, Israel. Chapter 2:4-25.
A. Complaint & Threatening of Punishment. Verses 4-15.
B. Punishment Leads to Conversion, & Glorious Renewal of Marriage Contract between Jehovah & Israel. Verses 16-25.
Love which Jehovah Preserves towards “Adulterous” People, & Chastening in Love which He Undertakes for their Conversion , again Symbolically Represented. Chapter 3:1-5.
Part Second. Jehovah Pleads with Israel His Beloved & Unfaithful Spouse. Chapters 4-14.
First Discourse. Chapters 4-11.
I. Accusation. Chapters 4-7.
A. Against People as a Whole on account of their Idolatry and the Corruption of their Morals (Promoted by Priests). Chapter 4:1-19.
B. Accusation especially against Priests & Royal House. Untheocratic Policy of Kingdom of Israel in Seeking for Help to Assyria & Egypt is Denounced. Chapters 5-11.
1. Mainly Against Priests. Chapters 5:1-15.
2. Chiefly Against Court. Chapter 7:1-16.
A. “Sowing the Wind brings forth the Whirlwind as a Harvest.” Galling Dependaence upon Assyria. Chapter 8:1-14.
B. Carrying Away into Assyria. Decrease of People. Chapter 9:1-17.
C. Devastation of Seats of Worship. Destruction Kingdom. Chapter 10:1-15.
III. Mercy. Chapter 11.
God Cannot Utterly Destroy Israel, whom He has Always Loved, though they have so Basely Requited Him, but will again Show Mercy to them. Chapter 11:1-11.
Second Discourse. Chapters 12-14.
I. Accusation. Chapter 12.
II. Judgment of God’s Anger. Chapter 13.
III. Exhortation to Return: Promise of Complete Redemption. Chapter 14.
1. Person & Time of Prophet.
II. Book of Joel.
There can be no question that the book bearing the name of Joel was written by himself. Not only is there no ground for doubt on this head, but all the positive evidence in the case is strongly on the same side; as, for example, the perfect unity that marks the book , one (1) chapter fitting into another with the most complete exactness . Even if we admit, what some assert, that ch. 2:10, etc., belongs to a later date than the other parts of the book, our remark holds good, for it is most closely connected with what precedes and follows it. Whether we have the discourses of the prophet precisely as they were delivered (supposing it to have been orally), or only the substance of them, is a point which cannot be determined, and is really one of no practical importance. Most probably we have them in the latter form, as the high finish and poetical diction of the book, specially in the (1st) first two (2) chapters, suggest the idea of literary elaboration, rather than that of a simple reporting of oral discourses.
[“Of the Style of the Prophet, the chief characteristic,” says Dr. Pusey, “is perhaps its simple vividness. Everything is set before us, as though we ourselves saw it. This is alike the character of the description of the desolation in the first (1st) chapter, the advance of the locusts in the second (2nd), or that more awful gathering in the valley of Jehoshaphat described in the third (3rd). The prophet adds detail to detail; each clear, brief, distinct, a picture in itself, yet adding to the effect of the whole. We can without an effort bring the whole of each picture before our eyes. Sometimes he uses the very briefest form of words, two (2) words, in his own language, sufficing for each feature in his picture. One (1) verse consists of five (5) such pairs of worls, 1:10. Then again the discourse flows on in a soft and gentle cadence, like one of those longer sweeps of an AEolian harp. This blending of energy and softness is perhaps one (1) secret why the diction also of this prophet has been at all times so winning and so touching. Deep and full, he pours out the tide of his words with an unbroken smoothness carries all along with him, yea, like those rivers of the new world, bears back the bitter restless billows which oppose him, a pure strong stream amid the endless heavings and tossings of the world. Poetic as Joel’s language is, he does not much use distinct imagery. For his whole picture is one (1) image. They are God’s chastenings through inanimate nature, picturing the worse chastenings through man. Full of sorrow himself, he summons all with him to repentance, priests and people, old and young, bride and bridegroom. The tenderness of his soul is evinced by his lingering over the desolation which he foresees. It is like one counting over, one (1) by (1) one, the losses he endures in the privations of others. Nature to him seemed to mourn; he had a fellow feeling of sympathy with the brute cattle which, in his ears, mourn so grievously; and if none else would mourn for their own sins, he would himself mourn to Him who is full of compassion and mercy. Amid a wonderful beauty of language he employs words not found elsewhere in the Holy Scripture. In one (1) verse (1:16), he has three (3) such words. The extent to which the prophecies of Joel reappear in the later prophets has been exaggerated. The subjects of the prophecy recur; not, for the most part, in the form in which they were delivered. The great imagery of Joel is much more adopted and enforced in the New Testament than the Old, –of the locust, the outpouring of the Spirit, the harvest, the wine-treading, the wine-press. To this unknown Prophet, whom in his writings we cannot but love, but of whose history, condition, rank, parentage, birthplace, nothing is known, nothing beyond his name, save the name of an unknown father, of whom, moreover, God has allowed nothing to remain save these few chapters, to him God reserved the prerogative, first to declare the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon all flesh, the perpetual abiding of the Church, the final struggle of good and evil, the last rebellion against God, and the Day of Judgment.”
“The tone of Joel’s writings,” says Wünsche, “indicates deep religious feelings, heartfelt experience, and warm sympathy. His moral ideas are lofty and pure, and testify to the religious knowledge and the holy life of the prophet. His poetry is distinguished by the soaring flight of his imagination, the originality, beauty, and variety of his images and similes. The conceptions are simple enough, but they are at the same time bold and grand. The perfect order in which they are arranged, the even flow and well compacted structure of the discourse, are quite remarkable. In his energy, power, and dignity, Joel reminds us of Micah; in his vivacity and lifelike freshness he resembles Nahum; in his originality and directness, in the bold range, and sublime strain of his ideas, he falls but a little below Isaiah: in his enthusiastic zeal for true religion, and his clear, earnest, penetrating insight into the moral disorders of his times, he resembles Amos. Joel threatens and warns; he descends into the innermost recesses of human nature, and he drags into the light of day, corruption, falsehood, and lukewarmness in the worship of Jehovah.” Of our Prophet, Umbreit finely says: “The Prophetic mantle which enrobed his lofty form, was worthy of his majestic spirit; its color is indeed dark and solemn, like the day of the Lord which he predicts, yet we see sparkling upon it the stars of the eternal lights of love and grace.” –F.]
The Occasion of this book was a terrible visitation of Judah by locusts and drought. The prophet describes the devastation produced, and viewing it as the beginning of a great judgment day of the Lord, he calls upon the priests to appoint a day for national humiliation and prayer.
This must have been done, since he, by divine authority, promises the people the richest blessings for the present and the future, as well as complete deliverance from all their enemies.
The book consists of two Parts, which must be carefully distinguished. They are as follows:
Part I. includes chaps. 1-2:17; Part II, extends from 2:19 to the end of ch. 3. They are connected together by the historical statement (2:18,19).
Part I. The plagues already named, are described as a divine judgment. The call to repentance.
Ch. 1. The unprecedented plague of locusts and drought is described, and those on whom it fell are called upon to lament over the desolation of the land caused by it; one of the worst results of it being the necessity for suspending the daily sacrifices.
For this reason the priests are required to mourn themselves, and to summon all the inhabitants of the land to join with them in their lamentation.
Ch. 2. This visitation is simply a token that a great judgment day of the Lord is coming. The army of locusts, of which a graphic picture is given, is the host of the Lord, sent to do his will (vers. 1-11). Still the threatened judgment may be averted by timely repentance (vers. 12–14). Hence the priests should appoint a day of humiliation and prayer and should beseech the Lord to have merey upon the nation as being his own people (vers 14-17).
Part II. Contains promises: (1) For the present (2:18-27). God will deliver His people from the plague and amply repair the evil done by it, by new blessings, and so prove that Israel is His people. (2.) For the future still greater things are promised. The day of the Lord is surely coming, but to Israel it shall be a day of salvation, and a day of terror only to Israel’s foes. This day shall be introduced by the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the whole people. There shall be at the same time terrible signs in the heavens and the earth, from which there is safety only in Zion. But there, all will be perfectly secure (ch. 3:1-8). The day itself is described as one of deliverance for Israel, and of destruction for their enemies, i.e., “the nations.” These nations are reproached for their crimes against Israel, and shall be punished on account of them (vers. 9–16). Infliction of the punishment. The Lord assembles Israel and the nations, in the valley of Jehoshaphat. At first it seems as if the nations were on the point of storming the holy city, but then and there, amid terrible signs, they are annihilated by the Lord at one (1) blow. The dawning of Israel’s salvation described (vers. 17-20). Uninjured by their enemies, protected by their God, who dwells forever in the midst of them, his people enjoy the richest blessings.
What Joel says of the locusts is not to be taken simply as an allegory, nor as a merely figurative description of the hosts of war. Nor is the first chapter a prediction; on the contrary it describes his own experience.
Importance of this Book. We find that it was held in high consideration by the later prophets. We have already mentioned the use made of it by Amos. It is also quite plain that Isaiah used it (comp. Is. 13:3, 6, 8, 10, 13, and Joel, 2:1-11; 2:15,16). That other later prophets had the book before them will be obvious to any one who examines a Bible with parallel references. Delitzsch, therefore, justly says, “Among the prophets who flourished from the time of Uzziah to that of Jeroboam, Joel unquestionably holds the position of a type or model, and after Amos, there is not one (1) whose writings do not remind us of him.” We may even claim for Joel (and Obadiah also if we regard him as one of the earlier prophets), a sort of fundamental significance for the whole series of later prophets, not only on account of his clear and precise prediction of the coming of the day of the Lord, but also because of the way in which he connects Israel with it. Even God’s covenant people must look well to see how they stand, for in that day, repentance alone can help them. If this is wanting, if Israel departs from God, escape from the coming judgment will be impossible, –a truth which the later prophets exhibit with an ever-growing emphasis and distinctness. The prophecies of Joel are, it seems to me, fundamental in another sense, namely, in the promises they give respecting Israel’s future. Though Israel must first suffer on account of their sins, yet the prophet anticipates with confidence the time when they shall return in penitence to God, and predicts that they shall win a glorious triumph, while all their enemies, i.e., the world, shall be utterly destroyed. Thus Joel (uniting himself, as it were, with Obadiah in unfolding and confirming the prophetic promises on this head), fixes with an assured faith the position of Israel, as God’s own people, and foretells their glorious victory over all their foes, though the latter may, for the present, bring upon them much shame and sorrow. What the eye sees cannot be an object of faith, which has to do with things for the time being invisible. Accordingly Joel has given a key-note (much more full than that of Obadiah’s), which was repeated by the later prophets; he unfurled a standard, so to speak, which shall never cease to wave on high. The later prophets would witness the deep humiliation of God’s people by the nations, i.e., the world power; they would have to announce the total overthrow of the commonwealth of Israel, the annihilation of its political existence, as a well-deserved punishment for their sins. But notwithstanding this, all that Joel had promised would be realized; the day of the Lord was surely coming for the heathen, –a day of fearful recompense to them, but to his own people a day of deliverance and eternal salvation. So we find that in spite of the denunciations against the chosen people on account of their apostasy, in spite of the judgments to be inflicted upon them through the agency of the heathen, the faith and hope of the prophets in regard o the future of Israel are never shaken. They perpetually recur to the promise that the word will not cast off his people. A remnant shall survive. In this remnant Jehovah will be glorified, and will show that his ultimate design was not to destroy his people, but to bestow upon them fresh favors, yea far higher ones than their fathers enjoyed. This promise becomes more and more closely allied to the hope of a Messiah, and gives to it a more and more positive shape. This hope of a Messiah is the solid basis of all other hopes of Israel’s future and glorious destiny. Joel, indeed, does not in express terms describe this Messianic foundation, as it may be called, but he has a general conception of it, and for this reason we have said that his prophecy may properly be called a fundamental one, i.e., with reference to those on the same subject, in later times.
Outline. Prophet JOEL.
Part First. Judgment & Call to Repentance. Chapters 1:1-2:17.
Section I. Complaint of Desolation of Judah by Locusts & Droughts.
Part Second. Promise. Chapters 2:18-3:21.
Section I. Annihilation of Locust Army. Reparation of Damage done by it, by Rich Blessing.
Section II. Hereafter, or “the Day of the Lord,” Enemies of Israel shall be Destroyed, while the Lord reigns in Zion guarding & blessing it.
Section III. Day of the Lord brings Full Salvation to Israel & Destruction of his Enemies.
§ 1. Personal Relations of Amos.
§ 2. Age of the Prophet.
§ 3. Book of Prophet.
Under the name of this prophet we have a prophetic writing in nine (9) chapters, containing chiefly threatenings against the kingdom of Israel, to which, on account of its prevailing grievous sins, it announces a grievous infliction, even overthrow by a hostile nation. Still the book is not limited to threatenings against Israel, but at least begins with threats upon the surrounding heathen, and then, like a genuine prophetic book, concludes with che promise of a new deliverance for Israel and a splendid prosperity under the house of David.
Entering more into detail, we are to consider:
1. The first (1st) and second (2nd) chapters as a sort of introduction to the particular subject.
The second (2nd) verse of chap. 1 repeats a menace contained in Joel 4:16, and then the nations around Israel are taken up in order, first (1st) the heathen, Damascus (1:3-5), Philistia (6-8), Tyre (9-10), Edom (11,12), Ammon (13-15), Moab (2:1-3), and then Judah (4-5), against each of which the divine wrath is announced in short, similar sentences, even “for three (3) transgressions and for four (4),” and is executed by “kindling a fire” in their capitals. Then the threatening turns to Israel, at first (1st) in the same phrase as before, but soon at greater length. There is a fuller detail of the prevailing sins, oppression of the poor, and lascivious luxury, together with a gross contempt for God’s favors toward them as his people (6-12); and a fuller announcement of punishment, namely, complete subjugation under an invading foe (13–16). It is thus evident that the previous denunciations were intended only to pave the way for this one, and that Israel was especially aimed at, for which reason the prophet dwells on their case. Still the threatening is here only introduced, and the judgment is declared merely in general terms; the form of its fulfillinent can only be conjectured.
2. The special charges and threats follow in chaps. 3-6. This division contains four (4) discourses, –the first (1st) three (3) of which begin with a “Hear this word” –in which the kingdom of Israel, especially the great men, on account of the prevailing sins, are threatened with a divine judgment in the shape of the destruction of palaces and sanctuaries, the overthrow of the kingdom, and the carrying away of the people, unless by seeking the Lord they seize the only hope of deliverance.
(a.) In chap. 3 the chief thought is manifestly that there should be no doubt about the coming of the judgment, since the prophet who bore Jehovah’s commission could not speak in vain.
(b.) Chap. 4 bases the assurance of punishment on the fact that all previous visitations of God had been to no purpose, since repentance had not ensued. The judgment therefore must come.
(c.) In chap. 5 we hear the outcry at approaching calamity, intermingled with calls to seek the Lord and love the good, as the only means of escape. It concludes with a woe pronounced upon those who desire the day of the Lord, which yet for them must be a day of terror, since all idolatry is an abomination to him. Then is added in
(d.) Chap. 6, a woe upon those who on the contrary fancy the day of the Lord to be far off and therefore persevere in their frivolity until the judgment overtakes them by means of a people whom the Lord will raise up.
After these discourses about punishment comes a new division,
3. Chaps. 7-9, in which the prophet recounts certain visions in which he has seen the fate of Israel, interspersed with historical details and threats of punishment, but at last passing into the promise of a new deliverance and prosperity for Israel.
(a). Chap. 7. First (1st), the prophet has two (2) visions of punishment by Locusts and by Fire, which, however, are averted at his intercession. So much the more does the third (3rd) vision, of the Plumb-line, show the downfall of the kingdom, and especially of the house of Jeroboam to be irreversible (1-9). The result of this announcement is that the priest Amaziah complains of Amos to the king and proposes his banishment. But Amos boldly meets him, affirms the divine call under which he was acting, and utters a still sharper threat, aimed especially at the priest.
(b.) Chap. 8. A fourth (4th) vision represents the ripeness of the people for judgment under the image of a basket of ripe fruit. Then the prophet commences with “Hear this’ (as in chaps. 3, 4, 5), a denunciation of the sins of the higher classes, who are threatned with the sore grief of a famine of hearing the word of the Lord.
(c.) In a fifth (5th) vision the prophet sees under the image of an overthrow of the temple (at Bethel) which buries all in its ruins, the utter ruin of the kingdom by a divine judgment which none can escape; since God is almighty and Israel is not a whit better than the heathen (1:7). Yet God will not destroy it entirely, but sift it by destroying all the sinners at ease, and then raise again David’s fallen tent to a new glory. Thus the book concludes with the promise of a new deliverance under the house of David, when Israel will be richly blessed, and made as great and powerful as ever before, and never again be driven out of the land.
That the book whose contents are thus outlined forms one complete whole, can scarcely be disputed. But to press the inquiry closer, it is at once evident that chaps. 1 and 2 are intimately connected, and in like manner chaps. 3-6 belong together. But that the latter division concurs with the former to make one (1) whole is equally clear. A menace of judg. ment upon Israel could not possibly be satisfied with what is said in 2:13-16, for in that case there would be no definiteness and certainty as to what Israel was to expect. The further statements in the following discourses are a matter of necessity. Moreover, a comparison of 2:6-8 with 3:9,10, 5:7, 11, 6:4, shows a striking similarity between the sins censured in both cases. The unity of the first six (6) chapters is then established. As to chaps. 7-9, no argument is needed to show their mutual coherence. But the question arises, whether they did not originally form an independent whole which a subsequent editor appended to the foregoing, or conversely made the foregoing a preface to it. There is much to favor its independent character. It differs from what precedes, both in matter as containing visions, and in form, as the prophet speaks in the first (1st) person. Notwithstanding, its close connection –at least in the state in which we now have it with chaps. 1-6, is unquestionable. The chief evidence of this seems to me to lie in chap. 8:4 seq.; which bears an unmistakable relation to what is already found in chaps. 3-6. The reproof is the same in both. Compare the introductory words “Hear ye; ” the censure of sins in 8:4, etc., with ch. 2:6, etc., and ch. 5:11,12; and also, the announcement of judgment in 8:10 with ch. 5:15. So close is the correspondence that one might be tempted to think that the latter passages were a subsequent insertion, which of course would destroy the argument for the original coherence of the whole. But we can hardly assume this theory of insertion by an editor, simply because the words, 8:4, etc., are somewhat abrupt and do not seem to be exactly in their place. If an alteration were made, we should suppose they would have been taken away from their present place and joined to the foregoing passages, to which they seem more suited. Here applies the critical canon that the more difficult reading is to be preferred. But then it is to be observed that the conclusion, (9:11, etc.,) undeniably reechoes the conclusion of Joel, and still more does ch. 1:2 connect itself with Joel. This fact shows beyond mistake that our book in its present state originated from one hand, and farther, since its beginning and its end are original, integral elements proceeding from the author himself, that we must consider the book as a complete whole, as certainly so prepared by its author.
If this be so, it follows that the prophet Amos, who in chap. 7 speaks of himself in the first person, is necessarily the composer not merely of the account of these visions, but also of the whole book. If at first (1st) we understood from the superscription that the substance of these utterances proceeded from Amos, much more must we suppose that they were reduced to writing and united with the foregoing books by him; and we must consider the superscription as prefixed to this, as it undoubtedly will, and of right ought to be, considered. That he who in ch. 7 says “I” is no other than Amos, is plain from verse 10, etc., where he is so called, but that he is here spoken of in the third person is no evidence that he is not the author. Of the portions marked with the “I,” both preceding and following, he is certainly such, but we need not for that reason consider the intervening passage 7:10-17 as inserted by another; for Hosea, in the beginning of his prophecy, in the portion (chap. 1:2) which undoubtedly is his own, also speaks of himself in the third (3rd) person. Besides, the transition to the third (3rd) person here is altogether simple and natural, since he was repeating what Amaziah charged against him. And having thus spoken, he continues in the same manner in the 12th and 13th verses. Moreover, since the subject relates to the personal experiences of the prophet, there is the less reason for considering it another’s interpolation in a writing the rest of which was composed by Amos. No, it is Amos alone who relates what befell bim in his prophesying, and then speaks of his origin and his mission, and after wards utters a new menace against Amaziah. And this is not added as a mere matter of history, but the account of the occurrence with Amaziah bears so directly upon this speech to him that it is perfectly plain that the author of the one is the author of the other, i.e. that the prophet himself, and no one else, has produced the whole. In favor of Amos’s authorship is the style, in which are manifold reminiscences of a pastoral life. (See below.) In the first (1st) instance, this proves only that the separate discourses came from Amos, but not that he composed the whole. But since after what has been said the theory of its compilation by a third (3rd) person is inadmissible, the argument for Amos as the author is greatly strengthened by these peculiarities of language. Besides, we could not properly speak of “Discourses of Amos” which another person has collected together, but the book in its present form is to be considered as an original composition of its author, based upon the “discourses” he had delivered orally.
Chapters I, II.
Superscription (ch. 1:1). 1. The words of Amos (who was among the shepherds of Tekoa), which he saw concerning Israel, in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said:…
I. Divine Judgment is Announced 1st Against the Countries Lying Around Israel, then Against Kingdom of Judah, but at Last Remains Standing over Kingdom of Israel (chaps. 1:2-2:16). (( (a) Damascus (1:3–5 ). (b) Gaza (1:6-8 ). (c) Tyre (1:9,10) . (d) Edom (1:11,12) (e) Ammon (1:13-15). (f) Moab (2:1-3). (g) Judah (1:4,5) . (h) Israel (1:6-16) ))
II. To Kingdom of Israel, Especially to its Great Men, Divine Judgment is Announced upon Prevailing Sins, unless Men seek the Lord. (Chapters 3-6.)
1. As surely as Prophet bears Divine Commission, will God punish Israel. (Chapter 3)
2. Punishment must Come, since Despite all Chastisements People will Not Amend. (Chapter 4)
3. Lament for Israel. Only Safety is in seeking the Lord. Woe to Fools who Desire Day of the Lord. (Chapter 5)
4. Woe to the Secure who think that the Day of the Lord is far off. (Chapter 6)
III. Threatening Discourses Against Kingdom of Israel in Shape of Visions. Promise in Conclusion. (Chapters 7-9)
1. Three (3) Visions. Two (2) of National Calamities are Averted at Request of Prophet Third (3rd), of a Plumb-Line, indicates certain Downfall of Kingdom. Attempt of Priest Amaziah to banish Amosfrom Bethel: thereupon a sharper Threat, especially Against Amaziah. (Chapter 7)
2. Fourth (4th) Vision: Israel ripe for Destruction. Days of Mourning Threatened Against Ungodly. Afterwards a Famine of Word. (Chapter 8)
3. Fifth (5th) Vision. Downfall. Not even a little Grain Perishes. After Overthrow of All Careless Sinners God will Raise Fallen Tent of David to New Glory. (Chapter 9)
OBADIAH. Introduction. Book of Obadiah.
Of the author of the brief prophecy concerning the doom of Edom, which those who arranged the Canon have inserted between Amos and Jonah, we really know, with certainty, nothing except the name. This is read by the Masorah as Obadiah (`obadeyah), i.e., Servant of Jehovah, a proper name frequently met with, and which was borne also by a respectable Zebulonite of the time of Saul (1st Chr. 28:19), a major-domo of Ahab (1st K. 18:3), a Levite under Josiah (2nd Chr. 34:12), and several heads of post-exilian houses. There is, therefore, no ground for holding it, with Augusti and Küper, as a symbolic pseudonym that, however, the pronunciation of the name offered by the Masoretes was not universal in the earliest times, is evident from the fact that the LXX (70) give for it, in different places, not only Obdias, but Abdias, Audias, etc. What Jewish traditions report concerning the man bears the stamp of conjecture, or of fanciful invention. The oldest of these traditions identifies him with the chief courtier of Ahab, referred to above, probably because he is mentioned 1st K. 18:3 as a very pious man, but in so doing overlooks the fact that our prophecy grows not out of the circumstances of the ten (10) tribes, but entirely out of Jerusalem. The others are still more capricious.
To determine the time of the prophecy, we are left, therefore, simply to its contents, to its relations with the other prophets, and to the historical accounts of the Old Testament.
The situation in which the prophet stands is shown principally in ver. 10 ff., since vers. 1-9 contain mere prophecy (“in that day,” ver. 8). Jerusalem is distressed by a hostile invasion, strangers have entered into her gates (ver. 11c), have plundered and ravaged, so that the population have betaken themselves to a wild flight (ver. 14b,c), have carried off many treasures (ver. 11b), and divided the inhabitants among them by lot (ver. 11d), to sell them as slaves to distant peoples (ver. 20c). The Edomites have not only exhibited an unbrotherly and malignant delight in these transactions (vers. 12; 10a; 13b), but have actively taken part in them (ver. 11e), have shared in the invasion of the city (ver. 13a), in the plundering (ver. 13c), and the mad revelry which followed (ver. 16a), have lain in wait for the fugitives when they escaped from the city, and slain them in part, in part delivered them up to slavery (ver. 14). The catastrophe which the prophet threatens in vers. 1-9, is the punishment of Edom for these deeds (ver. 10), and with this is linked the restitution of Israel (vers. 17-21).
From this description it is obvious that the circumstances were such as presented themselves after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. That the conduct of Edom in relation to that catastrophe was thoroughly hostile, and closely similar to what is here depicted (ver. 11 ff.), is proved by the prophecies occasioned by that conduct (Ezek. 35 and Is. 63). We might, therefore, regard the prophet as a contemporary of this event (Aben Ezra, Luther, Calovius, Tarnovius, Ch.V. and J.D. Michaelis, De Wette, Knobel, Maurer, Winer, Hendewerk), or as one of the later Epigoni of prophecy (Hitzig, an Egyptian Jew, cir. 312 B.C.). And undoubtedly we must prefer this reference of our prophecy to every other, if it were true, as Hitzig maintains, that in the first ten (10) verses of his discourse, Obadiah makes use of, nay, simply paraphrases the strikingly similar language of Jeremiah (chap. 49:7 ff.) against Edom. It is easy, in this view, to regard precisely those peculiar features in which Obadiah excels Jeremiah (ver. 11 ff.), as called forth by the immediate impression of the catastrophe, which Jeremiah had not yet before his eyes: for he spoke his prophecy in the fourth (4th) year of Jehoiakim, and therefore before the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Caspari, p. 15 ff.).
Nevertheless, concerning this use of Jeremiah by Obadiah, precisely the contrary is to be believed. Against it speaks at once the circumstance, that this very series of announcements in Jeremiah concerning foreign lands to which the passage 49:7 ff. belongs, shows not merely a constant use of earlier prophecies, but that Jeremiah repeatedly applies earlier prophecies, with free reproduction and expansion, to present occasions. So the prophecy against Moab, Is. 15, 16, in chap. 48; the prophecies in Am. 1:13 ff., 8 ff., in chap. 49:1 ff., 23 ff. Thus he has, in some sense out of his own (exousia), on the principle that prophecy is spoken for all time and therefore must be applicable also to the ever-recurring present, compiled, in this series of chapters, a canon of ancient prophecy for his own time. And if, in all these passages, it is undeniable that Jeremiah has availed himself of older prophecies should be in just the one before us be the original, and Obadiah have borrowed from him?
This presumption against Hitzig’s view rises to certainty when we more carefully compare the two (2) predictions. “On comparing the two (2) common sections with each other, we find that in Obadiah partly shorter and more rapid, partly heavier and more abrupt, partly more clear and lively than in Jeremiah” (Caspari). It cannot be denied that the cruces interpretum offered by Obadiah, especially in vers. 3, 5, appear in Jeremiah smoothed down, and that the solitary difficulty which Jeremiah has beyond Obadiah in the word om (chap. 49:16), as against the numerous obscurities peculiar to the latter, is of no account. But it is contrary to all hermeneutical procedure to suppose that a later writer, in regard to a situation meanwhile explained, should have still darkened the clear language of the earlier one, while, on the contrary, it is a common and explainable occurrence, that the obscure prophecy of antiquity should, in the hands of the subsequent seer, who is at the same time highly skilled in discourse, become more flowing and more clear. Some, to escape this argument, feign that the obscurities of Obadiah are indications of an atomistic compilation, from a point of view arbitrarily chosen, without force and without definiteness; but the exegesis of the book will have to show that his discourse is one which bears a single burden, is animated by one independent soul.
The comparison with Jeremiah is, therefore, of no value toward the more accurate determination of the age of our prophet. On the other hand, we have the positive circumstance that the inner relationship places his prophecy entirely within the circle of view of those prophets among whom the collectors of the Canon have placed it, that is, the oldest. Of the great monarchies of the world Obadiah knows nothing. The enemies who have invaded Jerusalem are to him simply foreigners and strangers (ver. 11), and besides the Edomites he names none except the Philistines (ver. 19), and the Phoenicians (ver. 20), both of whom appear in Joel (4:4), as enemies of the kingdom. Aram is not so much as once mentioned, so that his horizon is still narrower than that of Amos. The two (2) kingdoms are in existence standing firmly side by side. The southern one consists of the tribes of Judah (which inhabits the Negeb and the lowland) and Benjamin (ver. 19); the northern (Ephraim and Gilead) must yet be possessed, that a united kingdom may arise, one (1) army of the children of Israel (vers. 19,20, cf. Hos. 2:2). The captives of Jerusalem are not carried away to the east, but are sold as slaves into the west, precisely as in Joel; to the Javan (Ionia) of Joel corresponds the Sepharad (Sparta) of Obadiah (ver. 20). The middlemen, who have made traffic of these slaves, are doubtless the same as those named in Am. 1:9; Joel 4:6, the Poenicians, whom Obadiah also (ver. 20) expressly mentions. Of a destruction of Jerusalem, moreover, not a word is said, but only of capture and ravage. And it is to be observed that the hostile attitude of Edom is by no means a state of things first produced by the Babylonian destruction, and before unheard of. In Joel also (4:19), and Amos (1:11 ff.; 9:12), precisely as here, Edom appears as an enemy of Judah, deserving double chastisement on account of his originally fraternal relation to Israel. It would be plainly incongruous to refer all these predictions just cited, and which, for the most part, wear a very distinctly historical aspect, to the incidental position which Edom occupied two centuries later in the Chaldæan catastrophe; the more incongruous because, from the time of Moses onward (Num. 20:14 ff.), the attitude of this neighbor nation toward Israel was, according to the historical Books also, hostile up to the full measure of their strength (1st Sam. 14:47; 2nd Sam. 8:14; 1st K. 11:14 ff.; 2nd K. 8:20, etc.).
The same is to be said of Obadiah also. As he belongs to the first (1st) period of written
prophecy, not only from the correspondences above noticed, but also from the fact that the later prophets presuppose him as having gone before (cf. under the head of Theological and Ethical), day, even expressly quote him (Joel 3:5; 2:32, cf. Obad. 17), he cannot have had the Chaldaean destruction for his point of view, for what he says of devastation is not prophecy, but palpable, detailed description, which is plainly distinguished from the prophetic verses, and therefore relates to the past. And even if we give up the hermeneutical rule that every prophetic utterance must rise from a given historical situation, be called forth by some manifestation of God’s rule in the history of the kingdom; if we concede that, irrespective of any historical occasion, and purely by the force of inspiration, Joel may have foreseen the participation of the Edomites in the destruction of Jerusalem, with all its particular features; still, it is certainly inconceivable that he should have placed this incidental circumstance so conspicuously in the foreground, while the main fact which should have naturally cast down him and his people to the ground, in the prospect of it, namely, the destruction itself, and the chief enemy, the Babylonians, were treated as such obviously familiar circumstances, mere scenery and a starting point for the threatening against Edom. Thus fall also the opinions which place Obadiah in the early times indeed (under Uzziah), but still will not give up the reference of his prophecy to the catastrophe of 588 B.C. (Hengstenberg, Havernick, Caspari.) The event which by its iniquity has called for the judgment announced by Obadiah is, rather, one contemporary with himself, one, therefore, accomplished in the earlier times by the Edomites against Jerusalem, which he has personally witnessed, and on which the other prophets of that-age also look back in the apposite passages of their writings.
When we inquire more specifically into the nature of this transaction, it is not that recorded in 2nd Chr. 25:23 f. (Vitringa, Carpzov, Kuper), nor in 2nd Chr. 28:5 ff. (Jäger). In both of these instances it was not foreigners who desolated Jerusalem, as Obadiah assumes to have been the case (ver. 11), but principally the Ephraimites. It is rather the capture of Jerusalem under Joram, mentioned 2nd Chr. 21:16 f., cf. 2nd K. 8:20 ff. (Hoffmann, Delitzsch, Nagelsbach). Here we are told that the Philistines and Arabians (a collective name with the later historical writers, for the peoples living east and south of Judah), came up and carried away great treasures, and even took among the captives the princes of the royal family. This event, which harmonizes far better than the Chaldaean invasion with our prophecy, inasmuch as it, like Obadiah, intimates nothing of a destruction of Jerusalem and annihilation of the national existence, but only plunder and rapine, this event alone can have been in the thoughts of Joel and Amos when they reproach the Philistines (Joel, 3 :6; Am. 1:6 ff.) with having delivered over the captives of Judah and sold them into a foreign land. On account of this transaction the Edomites are, in the view of these prophets also, national foes.
If now, on the one hand, Obadiah coincides with them, especially with Joel, precisely in these connections, in several passages (vers. 10, 11, 15, cf. Joel 3 :19, 3, 7, 14), and that not at all as a borrower, but as leading the way (ver. 17, cf. Joel 2:32; 3:5), and, on the other, Joel is to be regarded as a contemporary of Joash (877 ff.), we may, without danger of essential mistake, ascribe our prophecy to the preceding decade (890-880), falling mostly under the reign of Joram. That his position in the Canon is subsequent to that of the later Joel affords no argument against this. In fact we are obliged, from the start, by Hosea’s leading place in the series, to abandon the untenable hypothesis that an accurately observed chronological principle can be discovered in the succession of the minor prophets; and the exact adaptation of our prophet to Amos, ch. 11:12, gave sufficient occasion (as Schnurrer had already perceived), for assigning to him just this place.
From this settlement of the date a beautiful and self-consistent structure of the prophecy offers itself. According to the peculiar custom of the prophets to begin with the threatening (or the consolation), and afterwards adduce the explanation of it, the discourse before us falls, first (1st), into the announcement of the judgment (vers. 1-9), and the reasons for it (vers. 10-16); to which then the conclusion demanded by the nature of prophecy, (2nd) the announcement of salvation to Israel, is appended. The language is the same throughout, and the plan rounded and complete. Thus the suppositions of Ewald and Graf (Jeremiah) fall to the ground. According to them vers. 1-9 should be regarded as the old prophetic kernel which a prophet of the exile has rewrought, completed, and adapted to the destruction of Jerusalem. (* In harmony with this conclusion, we may venture the conjecture, that our prophet is identical with that pious Obadiah whom, with others, Joram’s father Jehoshaphat had sent out to revive the spirit of true worship in the land by the explanation of the law (2nd Chr. 17:7). *)
Luther: “Obadiah gives no sign of the time in which he lived, but his prophecy relates to the time of the captivity, for he comforts the people of Israel with the promise that they shall come again to Zion. Especially does his prophecy issue against Edom and Esau, who cherished a special, everlasting envy against the people of Israel and Judah, as is wont to be the case when friends fall out with each other, and especially when brothers come into hatred and hostility toward each other; there the hostility knows no bounds. Therefore were the Edomites beyond all bounds hostile to the people of Judah, and had no greater joy than to look on the captivity of the Jews, and gloried over them, and mocked them in their grief and misery. How the prophets almost all upbraid the Edomites for such hateful malice, see on Psalms, 137:7. Now since such conduct is exceedingly distressing when one, instead of comforting as one reasonably should, rather mocks the sorrowful and afflicted in their grief, laughs at them, scorns them, glories over thein, so that their faith in God suffers a powerful assault, and is strongly tempted to doubt and unbelief, God sets up a special prophet against such vexatious mockers and assailants, and comforts the afflicted, and strengthens their faith with threatening and rebuke against such hostile Edomites, and with promises and assurance of future help and deliverance. That is truly a needed comfort and a profitable Obadiah. At the close he prophecies of Christ’s kingdom, which shall be not in Jerusalem only but everywhere. For he mingles all peoples together, as Ephraim, Benjamin, Gilead, Philistines, Canaanites, Zarpath, which cannot be understood of the earthly kingdom of Israel, since such people and tribes must be separated in the land, according to the law of Moses. But that the Jews make Zarpath mean France, and Sepharad Spain, I let pass and hold nothing of it; yet let every one hold what he will.”
JONAH. Introduction. Book of Jonah.
The prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai, receives a divine command to announce judgment against the great city, Nineveh, whose wickedness had come up before Jehovah. He attempts to evade the command by flight, and embarks in a ship to go to Tarshish. A storm rises on the sea. While the crew are praying, Jonah sleeps. But he is awakened; and the sailors perceiving in the fury [Unbill] of the storm a token of the divine wrath, cast lots, by which he is designated as the guilty person. On being interrogated by the crew, he acknowledges to them his guilt, and advises them to cast him into the sea, for the purpose of appeasing the divine anger. They put forth ineffectual efforts to escape from danger, without having recourse to this extreme measure, but finally follow his advice. (Chap. 1)
A large fish swallows Jonah. He thanks God that he is preserved in life; and is, on the third (3rd) day, vomited out by the fish on the land. (Chap. 2)
He now obeys the command of God, which comes to him the second (2nd) time, and goes to proclaim to Nineveh, that within forty (40) days, it shall be destroyed on account of its sins. But the Ninevites, with the king at their head, observe a great public fast, and Jehovah determines to withdraw his threatening. (Chap. 3)
Jonah having waited for the issue in a booth over against the city, must have felt that the effect [of the divine purpose to remit the calamity. –C.E.] would be to make his proclamation appear false. His displeasure, on this account, is heightened by an incident. A plant [a palmchrist], which had rapidly shot up, had refreshed him with its shade. But during the night it is destroyed by a worm; and when, on the day following, a scorching wind augments the burning heat of the sun, Jonah despairs of life [“meint Jonah am Leben verzweifeln zu mussen,” thinks that he must despair of life]. But God had appointed this incident for the purpose of showing him the unreasonableness of his displeasure. “Dost thou have pity on an insignificant plant, and shall not I have pity on the great city?” (Chap. 4)
II. Historical Character of Book.
III. Symbolical Character of the Book. The main question is that which relates to the understanding of this book, not that concerning its historical contents [Gehalt], which will be answered differently, according to the degree in which the reader considers his conscience bound by the fides historica of the Holy Scriptures. Whether the events are taken from actual life or not, this much is evident, that the record of them is not the proper aim (nicht Selbstzweck ist] of the book: it is intended to communicate a deeper instruction in historical form.
That the book was written for the purpose of communicating such instruction is proved:
1. From its position among the prophetical writings. The direct object of these writings is, without exception, to convey instruction in divine truth. If it be said, that the book was placed among the twelve (12) Minor Prophets, because Jonah was its author, it may be replied, first, that of its authorship by Jonah we have nowhere any mention; and that, according to this rule, the Lamentations ought also to be placed among the prophetical books. Just with as little propriety can an argument be founded upon the fact that the book treats of the fortunes of a prophet, for according to this rule, Micah and Malachi would have no place among the prophetical writings; while on the other hand the books of Moses, from Exodus to Deuteronomy, and a whole series of chapters in the books of Kings, would be entitled to a place among these writings. If in the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, historical passages, or notices, are inserted, it is done that they may form the frame-work of the prophecy, serve to make it intelligible, and place it in organic connection with the facts; but throughout these prophets the prophetical element is the main part, on which the whole hinges. In the book of Jonah, on the other hand, this could still less be the object, as his prophecy is revoked, and thus forms, in the totality of the book, only a thing of passing moment (vorubergehendes Moment]. Moreover, that historical additions should be found in a long series of prophetical discourses is one thing, but that an entire independent book should be placed under this point of view, is quite another thing. Evidently the compilers of the Canon considered the book a purely prophetical one [Rede], whose historical manner of representation has the object of bringing its instruction within reach and of making it easily retained.
2. We find confirmation of this by inspection of the book itself, in which certain instructive truths –of which more hereafter– force themselves on the notice of the reader, and stand out so prominently that the interest of the narrator evidently does not attach to the person of whom he speaks, but manifestly to the events of his life [Ergehen dieser Person]. Precisely that, which, historically viewed, must appear the chief particular of the book, namely, the sparing of Nineveh, is marked with proportionally the least emphasis.
3. In addition to these considerations, and in harmony with them, is the style of the book. This is anything but the historical style. The author neglects a multitude of things, which he would have been obliged to mention had history been his principal aim. He says nothing of the sins of which Nineveh was guilty, and which might have formed the motive for its destruction; nothing of the long and difficult journey of the prophet to Nineveh; he is silent about the early dwelling-place of Jonah, about the place where he was vomited out upon the land; he does not mention whether and when Jonah offered and performed the offering and vow, which he promised and made (2:10); neither does he mention the name of the Assyrian king, nor take any notice of the subsequent fortunes of the prophet. In any case the narrative, if it were intended to be historical, would be incomplete by the frequent recurrence that circumstances, which are necessary for the connection of events, are mentioned later than they occurred, and only where attention is directed to them as leaving already happened. Should the observations mostly presented by Goldhorn and Hitzig be urged for the purpose of denying altogether that the Book of Jonah relates historical events, they must be deemed inadequate; but they certainly prove what Hengstenberg has fully done, that the author communicates historical events only so far as the object requires, to furnish an intelligible basis for the representation of a doctrinal object lying outside of the narrative; that the author, if he avails himself of the facts of history for his purpose, has still employed historical data with discrimination, in the light of, and according to the idea, which he intended to represent.
4. Circumstances are found so recorded, that without the supposition of a definite design and bearing of the narrative, this form of narration would be incomprehensible. If Jonah utters thanks in the belly of the fish, and not after he is safe on shore, then there is, unless this arrangement of events is required by a definite design, a want of physical truth, which cannot be concealed by any exegetical subtilty.
But the questions now arise, what are the design and teaching of the book? and how are they made available in the narrative? Is it a single moral lesson, of which the entire narrative is the foundation, after the manner of a didactic fable? Or is the whole representation symbolical, exhibiting a complete system [Zusammenhang] of doctrines and ideas, a delineation of an entire development in the Kingdom of God?
In answer to the first (1st) of these suppositions it can be said, that a single (1) tenet of revelation, or of morality, is incongruous with the contents of the whole book. Each of the individual tendencies advanced by Exegetes neglects one (1) or the other part of the book, and can, therefore, not sufficiently explain the peculiar literary character of the whole. “There is no didactic unity in the book.” (Sack.) In the manifold applications made of the book, the doctrine has been discovered in it, that God cares for other nations also (Semler); that He is not the God of the Jews only, but also of the heathen (D. Michaelis, Eichhorn, Bohme, Pareau, Gesenius, De Wette, Winer, Knobel, and many others); and the view of Gramberg and Friedrichsen amounts to essentially the same thing, according to which the conduct of the heathen and their treatment should serve as an example of repentance to Israel. But according to these views the second chapter is entirely superfluous, and Friedrichsen, with great difficulty, accommodates the first to them. The matter is not improved by discovering in the book, in addition to instruction for the Jews, an admonition to toleration for the heathen. (Griesinger). Still less satisfactory are general truths, such as those that Niemeyer, Hezel, Moller, Meyer, Paulus, and others have found in the book: namely, “God’s ways are not as our ways.” “The office of prophet is arduous, but of great worth” [Kostlich]. “Jehovah is kind and readily forgives.” “God is ready to avenge and to forgive,” etc. And, if converting the doctrine into a special aim [Tendenz], Hitzig has developed the suggestions of Köster and Jager to the view, that the book was written to remove the doubts which might attach themselves to the non-fulfillment of prophecy (here, according to Hitzig, with special reference to the alleged non-fulfillment of the prophecy of Obadiah), then the great preparations which were devoted to so insignificant an object, are not in keeping with it. Then chapters 3 and 4 would be amply sufficient. In the homiletical and catechetical use of the book, one must not leave unnoticed all those truths and definite purposes; and he will also determine, on account of their multitude, to bestow increased esteem and consideration upon the opulence of this little book, which, in four short chapters, discloses new contents to each inquirer; but even the multiplicity of the constructions put upon it [Bestimmungen [provisions]] proves that none exhausts the contents of the book to the degree that one can attribute to it the character of a didactic fable, or moral narrative.
There is a still more cogent argument. The book is, as we have seen, a prophetical one. But in all prophecy, this kind of narrative is nowhere to be met with. No narrative is found there, which should solely have the object that the hearer, or reader, may draw from it an individual truth as a moral. On the other hand, it is quite a frequent kind of prophetical composition to symbolize the past, present, or future destinies of a great community in a single concrete form, so that this representative concrete appears in a whole series of relations as a symbol of that community. Of this, the Vineyard, Isaiah, chap. 5, is a familiar example. Ezekiel, particularly, is full of such symbols, among wh’ch the figurative representation of the fate of Jerusalem, chap. 16, and the allegorizing of Judah and Ephraim by the two (2) sisters, Aholah and Aholibah, are characteristic of this species of prophetic style. And still nearer to our purpose stands the most profound symbolical discourse of the Old Testament, Isaiah 40-66, in which everything, deserts, water, bread, light, Zion, are symbols, and under all these symbols the comprehension of the Israelitish national community, under the individual designation of the servant of God, occupies the highest place, since it is explained by the spirit of prophecy as the type of the true Israel manifested in Christ.
That the book of Jonah is to be counted among these symbolical prophecies has by no means escaped the notice of interpreters. The anticipation of it gleams through the words of old Marck: “Scriptum est magna parte historicum, sed ita ut in historia ipsa lateat marimi aticinii mysterium, atque ipse fatis suis non minus quam effatis vatem se verum demonstret.” It form is also the minimum of an originally right starting-point in the peculiar conceits, whimsically embellished by the theological mythus, of Von der Hardt, that Nineveh represents Samaria, but that Jonah is an enigmatical name for the kings Manasseh and Josiah. Here belong also Herder’s attempt to represent Jonah as a symbol of the order of the prophets, and Krahmer’s view that Jonah was a warning example for his contemporaries.
On the same line, and equally removed from the purely parabolical and purely historical view, lies the attempt made by several modern divines and commentators, after the example of Sack (in harmony with the common effort to guide the exegesis of the Old Testament into the profound meaning of Scripture, and into the deep questions of the close connection between the Old and New Testaments), to represent Jonah as a type of Christ. Here particularly, we may mention Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, and Keil. (See below). This typical view of the book has a strong claim to be received, if we consider the declaration of our Saviour (Matth. 12:40). But notwithstanding it may be said, first, that this view does not embrace the whole book, but must, along with our Saviour’s declaration, be restricted to chapter 2; and again, that it shares the defects of every exposition of the Old Testament given entirely from the point of view of the New Testament; and that it is not suited to the peculiarity of the Old Testament standpoint, and to the independent significance of the book in the collection of the Canon. It is in part not enough, namely, the mere New Testament element; in part too much, to wit, the discovery of the fulfillment already in that which is preliminary. It is certainly true that the whole Old Testament revelation receives light from the New Testament from first to last, which enables us to perceive its teleological connection tending onward till it reaches the goal; and yet each statement and each book of the Old Testament, as a member of the organism of the Holy Scriptures, has an aim peculiar to itself. And the full authority of the typical interpretation will then first come into the true light, when one places the genuine sense already drawn from the contents of the book, under the light of the end, namely, the fulfillment. Let us attempt an interpretation of the symbol, an interpretation standing upon its own, and that an Old Testament foundation.
Jonah is a prophet; his special mission in the book is a prophetic one. There is in the Old Testament only one community to which the prophetic vocation belongs, namely, the people of Israel. For the purpose that in him all the tribes of the earth should be blessed, Israel was founded as a nation in his ancestor, Abraham (Gen. 12), and God chose him as his servant, to disseminate the light, the knowledge of God’s law among the heathen. (Is. 42:1). Jonah is Israel. Nineveh – in the view of the author of the book the type of a great heathen city– is, in a similar relation, the representative of the heathen world, as are moreover Babylon (Is. 13 f.), and Edom (Is. 63). It is selected here, because the contact with Nineveh marks the decisive turning-point between the old time, when Israel, joyful in his strength, subjected the neighboring nations, and the new time, in which prophecy, through contact with the Mesopotamian powers, became of a universal character; because their captivity among these nations, though at first a penal calamity determined upon them, had the ultimate purpose of freeing the kingdom of God from the narrow limits of its national foundation, and of preparing its dissemination over the whole earth.
Israel has the mission of preaching God’s doctrine and law to the heathen world. But he has a greater desire for gain and its pursuits. He shuns his calling and goes on board a merchantman. He abandons his intimate relation to Zion and hastens far away, where no mission is assigned to him, where he thinks that the arm of God cannot reach him. For it also belongs to his ungodly prejudices to believe that God’s arm and work are limited to the boly land a prejudice which already in Jacob, the ancestor whose character represents typically the national faults, was to his shame rebuked (Gen. 28:16 f.).
But God reproves the fugitive. In the terrors, which must fall upon him, according to the divine decree, Jonah does not seek God, but sleeps, while the heathen pray. All heathen nations the individual members of the crew represent nations, for they pray each to his God (1:5) – might, by their sincere idol-worship, administer a rebuke [zur Beschämung dienen [serve as a shame]] to the godlessness of God’s people, in their extreme distress. They cast the lot, which brings death to him; this they do not of their own choice, but by the appointment of God, which they unconsciously follow. The lot falls for a war of extermination against Israel. Jonah must announce his own fate. Israel has the law, which carries the curse in itself, and, like a sword suspended by a horse-hair, hangs over the head of the nation (comp. on Micah 6:16); he has prophecy, which, confined to him, prophecies a calamitous end ta the whole nation (Micah 3:12, 1:8). Jonah is thrown into the sea and swallowed by a monster. The sea-monster is, by no means, an unusual phenomenon in prophetic typology. It is the secular power appointed by God for the scourge of Israel and of the earth. (Is. 27:1; comp. on 2:1.) Israel is abandoned to the night and gloom of exile, after the catastrophe of the national overthrow, because he neglected his vocation. Hence the fact that Jonah prays and turns to God, before his deliverance from the fish’s belly, receives an illustration. In adversity Israel shall again seek God. In that which properly belongs to penal sufferings, he shall nevertheless, at the same time, acknowledge the gracious hand of God (Hos. 2:16). He shall, also, in his miserable existence in a foreign land, not forget his holy calling. He shall not forget that his preservation as a nation, though as outcast, is a saving act of God. This becomes still clearer through the close relation, in which this prayer of Jonah stands to the longing and lamentations in exile, of the people of God, e.g. Psalms 42 and 88 in which also the deeps of the sea symbolize the misery of Israel.
There [in the deep] Jonah remains three (3) days and three (3) nights, a definite, but an ideal time (comp. on 2:1); a similar time is allotted by Hosea, also, for the punishment of Israel (Hos. 6:2). Then the fish vomits him out; the exile must have an end, for God has appointed the fish; not of its own power and will did it swallow Jonah.
But with the hoped for restoration, the vocation of Israel is not revoked. Jonah is sent the second time to Nineveh; and he must preach that the heathen world shall perish; for that is the will of God concerning the nations that do not obey Him (Micah 5:14). But Israel says, What shall I preach? It is truly cause for despair, that so much has already been prophesied concerning the destruction of the heathen, and that it has come to nothing. They remain peaceful and quiet. If my preaching accomplishes its object, they will be saved, for God is merciful and gracious. (Comp. Zech. 1:11.) This instance [Moment] [of doubt and irresolution on the part of Israel. –C.E.) is also portrayed in the history of Jonah. Indeed, Jonah’s preaching works repentance, and, consequently, forbearance; and reproach proceeds from his mouth. God corrects him by the incident of the palmchrist. Thereby Israel, too, is instructed. There lies in the sparing of Nineveh, before the correction of Jonah, the type of the future ingathering of the multitude of the heathen before the Jewish people, which must first (1st) be humbled and broken. (Comp. Micah 4) And the prophet who wrote the history of Jonah, has exhibited the ground of this future, momentous to his people, as one lying within the Old Testament knowledge of God and his kingdom; in the mercy of God in view of repentance, and in the obduracy of Israel against the divine goodness, which quarrels with God instead of repenting. So must it truly come to pass, what Isaiah says (65:1), that God is found of those who sought Him not, and who were not called by his name. (Comp. Rom. 10:20.)
Upon this teleological prophecy nothing more can follow; the book naturally closes with this according to our view. It becomes evident, according to this view, that the book is one of universal tendency, and raises the idea of Israel to a height similar to that described, Isaiah xl. ff.; only that there the bright side fulfilled in Christ develops itself from the mission of the servant. Though here the dignity of the mission is not less marked than there, yet the natural obstacles in the character of the people are brought into the foreground, by which it came to pass that the true Israel, at last, was not received by his own, and was crucified by contemporary Israel. Further, the reciprocal relation is hence clearly exhibited, which the symbolical character has had upon the treatment of the historical narrative ; and the listorical substratum upon the symbolical representation. There is no doubt that the truth to be exhibited could have been more briefly and more directly explained in another way (as this holds good generally in the case of parables); but the author found, in a history ready to his band,’ the profound idea, which the Spirit moved him to teach, and in order to do justice to the historical, he made casual mention in the narrative, of much which, at the first glance, might appear, from the point of view of a didactic object, as unimportant.
But on the other hand, it could not fail that his design to write symbolic history made him indifferent to the pragmatic connection of the historical substratum in itself; hence the chasms and the incompleteness of statement noted by Hengstenberg, as soon as the rule of the historical style is applied to it.
Hence, finally, we learn from the book itself, its typical significance in relation to the New Testament. That Israel, as he lives a unity in the complex of God’s ideas [in der Ideenwell Gottes], is the type of Christ, is indubitable to every one who has once earnestly reflected upon the wonderful harmony between the image of the servant of God (Is. 49. ff.) and Christ, and who has sought to explore the concealed vein of Old Testament history, according to the clear exposition of the Apostle Paul (Gal. 3:16). If Jonah is a type of Israel, and Israel a type of Christ, then the typical relation already traced out in Sack (see below), is suggested between Jonah and Christ; and the reference to this type, prominently presented in Matt. 12: 40, comp. 16:4; Mk. viii. 8:11 f.; Luke 11:29 ff.; John 12:23 f., is only a single, though the most important instance [Moment]. Indeed it is according to the intimation of these passages, that as the sparing of Jonah in the belly of the fish and his subsequent preaching of repentance (Luke 11:32), were a sign to the Ninevites, which must bring to them faith or judgment, so the preservation of Jesus in the grave, and the continued proclamation of the Risen One, are a sign to the world of judgment and of faith, by which the separation of mankind proceeds continually with inexorable power. Other relations can still be discovered without forced interpretation. It seeins to me particularly worth considering how the voluntary labors of the ship’s crew (1:13) did not gain the shore; there was no peace until the sin-offering consecrated by God was offered.
[The mission and vocation of Israel are set forth in Is. 42:6: “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” “ This description is entirely appropriate, not only to the Head, but to the Body also, in subordination to him. Not only the Messiah, but the Israel of God was sent to be a mediator or connecting link between Jehovah and the nations.” Israel was “a covenant race or middle people between God and the apostate nations.” (Alexander on Isaiah, chap. 42:6) Jonah commissioned by God to preach against the great heathen city, Nineveh, is a type of Israel in his mission and vocation. The book of Jonah contains no prediction of a direct Christian import. But he is, in his own person, a type, a prophetic sign of Christ. The miracle of his deliverance from his three (3) days of death in the body of the whale, is the expressive image of the resurrection of Christ. Our Saviour has fixed the truth and certainty of this type. Matt. 12:40. Further, the whole import of Jonah’s mission partakes of the Christian character. For when we see that he is sent not only to carry the tidings of the divine judgment, but also to exemplify the grant of the divine mercy to a great heathen city; that is, to be a preacher of repentance; and that the repentance of the Ninevites through his mission, brings them to know “a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repenting Him of the evil (Jonah 4:2); – without staying to discuss whether all this be a formal type of the genius of the Christian religion, it is plainly a real example of some of its chief properties, in the manifested efficacy of repentance, the grant of pardon, and the communication of God’s mercy to the heathen world.” (Davison on Prophecy, pp. 200, 201.) – C.E.]
[O.R. Hertwig’s Tables: Without prejudice to its historical sense, the following authors admit a symbolico-typical character of the Book:
(1.) Keil, Del., Baumg., Hengst.: Jonah is a type of Christ. (Also the Church Fathers, Marck and others, on account of Matt. 12:40.)
(2.) Kleinert: Jonah is the representative of Israel in his [Israel’s] prophetic vocation to the heathen world. – C.E.]
[Prophet’s Commission to Preach Against Nineveh, & his Attempt to Evade it (vers. 1-3). Violent Storm Arises; Alarm of Sailors: Means Adopted for their Safety; Detection of Jonah; he is Thrown into the Sea, and is Swallowed by Fish (vers. 4-16). –C.E.] (Chapter 1)
[Jonah’s Hymn of Thanksgiving & Praise for his Deliverance from Bowels of Fish. C.E.] (Chapter 2)
[Renewal of Jonah’s Commission (vers. 1,2). His Preaching to Ninevites (vers. 3–4). Humiliation & Reformation of Ninevites (vers. 5-9.) Reversal of the Divine Sentence (ver. 10). –C.E.] (Chapter 3)
[Jonah Repines at God’s Mercy to the Ninevites. God Employs a Palmchrist as a means to Reprove & Instruct him. –C.E.] (Chapter 4)
1. Historical Situation and Date.
2. The Person of the Prophet.
3. Contents & Form of the Book:
As Micah, compared with Isaiah, embraces a shorter space of time, so his horizon is locally more restricted. The breadth of view, sweeping over all history, with which the latter surreys the greatness and recognizes the importance of his time, and sheds the light of prophecy on all sides, over all nations over the distant islands of the Mediterranean, where, at that very time, Rome, the great city of the future, was building, and over the young Aryan peoples in the East, – indicating to them their place in the history of the world all this is foreign to our prophet. His gaze is fixed imperturbably on his own people, but within this field he moves with the greatest intensity.”
[With this Dr. Pusey substantially agrees. After arguing plausibly that some portions of the book were spoken earlier, –ch. 4:1 ff. as early as the reign of Jotham,– he concludes: “At the commencement, then, of Hezekiah’s reign, he collected the substance of what God had taught by him, recasting it, so to speak, and retained of his spoken prophecy so much as God willed to remain for us. As it stands, it belongs to that early time of Hezekiah’s reign, in which the sins of Ahaz still lived on. Corruption of manners had been hereditary. In Jotham’s reign too, it is said expressly, in contrast with himself, the people wire still doing corruptly. Idolatry had, under Ahaz, received a fanatic impulse from the king, who at last set himself to close the worship of God. The strength of Jotham’s reign was gone, the longing for its restoration led to the wrong and destructive policy, against which Isaiah had to contend. such should not be the strength of the future kingdom of God. Idolatry and oppression lived on; against these, the inheritance of those former reigns, the sole residuum of Jotham’s might or Ahaz’ policy, the breach of the law of love of God and man, Micah concentrated his written prophecy” Introd. 10 Micha, p. 291.–TR.].
[“Helingers, in his prophecy, among the towns of the maritime plain (the Shephēlah) where his birth-place lay. Among the few places in that neighborhood, which be selects for warning and for example of the universal captivity, is his native village, “the home he loved.” But the chief scene of his ministry was Jerusalem. He names it, in the be ginning of his prophecy, as the place where the idolatries, and with the idolatries, all the other sins of Judah were concentrated. The two capitals, Samaria and Jerusalem, were the chief objects of the word of God to him, because the corruption of each kingdom streamed forth from them. The sins which he rebukes are chiefly those of the capital. Extreme oppression, violence among the rich, bribing among judges, priests, prophets; building up the capital even by cost of life, or actual bloodshed; spoliation; expulsion of the powerless, women and children from their homes; coveteousness; cheating in dealings; pride. These, of course, may be manifoldly repeated in lesser places of resort and of judgment. But it is Zion and Jerusalem which are so built up with blood; Zion and Jerusalem which are, on that ground, to be ploughed as a field; it is the city to which the Lord’s voice crieth; whose rich men are full of violence; it is the daughter of Zion which is to go forth out of the city and go to Babylon. Especially they are the heads and princes of the people, whom he upbraids for perversion of justice and for oppression. Even the good kings of Judah seem to have been powerless to restrain the general oppression.” Dr. Pusey, Com. on Min. Prophets, p. 289 – TR.j
If now we distribute his book, as is generally granted, into two obvious divisions: the prophetico-political, chaps. 1-4, and the ideal contemplative, chaps. 6, 7, then in the First division, discourse first, ch. 1, we see that he finds in the judgment immediately impending over Samaria the text for his threat, that the judgment will reach even to the gates of Jerusalem (1:9). Following immediately then, in ascending succession, the second discourse, chaps 2, 3, called forth by the sin, whicn can no longer be restrained, and security of the people, especially of the leaders among them, now breaking out openly everywhere, that Jerusalem herself shall become a stone-heap (3:12). Not until then can the Messiah come, amid great distress and necessity, from Bethlehem, as Micah proclaims at the culminating point of this division and of the whole book, namely, in the third discourse, chaps. 4, 5 To this external representation of guilt, penalty, and salvation, the Second division, chaps. 6, 7, adds the inner one. Here, in the form of a suit-at-law between God and his people, which ends first in painful certainty of the suffering soon to be experienced, but finally in the assured confidence of salvation at last, the whole depth of Israel’s mission, and his tangled ways woven out of grace and election, out of sin and forgiveness, are considered and exhibited in an evangelical light.”
[Dr. Pusey finds three main divisions in the book, chaps. 1-2; 3-5; 6-7. Further, he agrees in general with our author. This book has a remarkable symmetry. Each of its divisions is a whole, beginning with upbraiding for sin, threatening God’s judgments, and ending with promises of future mercy in Christ. The two later divisions begin again with that same characteristic Hear ye, with which Micah had opened the whole. The three divisions are also connected, as well by lessor references of the later to the former, as also by the advance of the prophecy.” “There is also a sort of progress in the promises of the three parts. In the first, it is of deliverance generally, in language taken from that first deliverance from Egypt. The second is objective, the birth of the Redeemer, the conversion of the Gentiles, the restoration of the Jews, the nature and extent of his kingdom. The third is mainly subjective, man’s repentance waiting upon God, and God’s forgiveness of his sins. Minor Prophets, p. 291. –TR.]
As regards the form of the representation, Micah stands next to Isaiah in the force, pathos, freshness, and continuity of expression, and in the plastic choice of his words. In the arrangement of his thoughts, however, abrupt and fond of sharp contrasts, he reminds us more of his older contemporary, Hosea. The beautiful plan of his discourse is admirable. In the first division each of the three addresses falls into two symmetrical halves, whose subdivisions, again (cf. especially chaps. 4, 5), are for the most part regularly constructed. And in the second division also the structure of his thought is grounded on a beautiful and well defined numerical proportion.” [Dr. Pusey’s characterization of Micah’s style is faithful and interesting. He has very elaborately investigated the Farieties and a laptations of his poetic rhythm, and compared them with other of the Minor Prophets, p. 232. –TR.]
4. Position in the Organic System of Holy Scripture.
In the organic order of the Bible, and specially in the prophetic development of the Messianic theology, this book takes a fundamental position. Micah stands immovably within the inner sphere of the history of the Kingdom of Israel: Israel is the people chosen by God, with whom he has established a covenant from of old, and ratified it with an oath (7:20); in whom, from Egypt and the wilderness, he has glorified himself (6:4 ff.); to whom he gave a law which is altogether of a moral and spiritual character (6:6 ff.). This people have become alienated, not in part merely, but Judah also has followed the apostate northern kingdom (6:16), and a corruption of all divine institutions, offices, and orders has broken in (chaps. 2, 3), which has thoroughly devoured everything (7:1 ff.). On this historical ground grow the constituent elements of his proclamation: (1). The necessity of the judgment. God hardens himself against their cry of distress (3, 4), for idolatry must be rooted out (3:10 ff.), the false prophets must be put to shame (3:6 f.). From Zion he issues the judgment (1, 2), and unto Zion, in the centre of the kingdom, reaches the desolation by the enemy (1:9, 12; 2, 4; 3:12); the people are even swept away into captivity, and become a prey to the world-power, which is here designated by a name, typical from the earliest times, the name of Babylon (Babel), 4:10. But (2), the certainty of salvation is not thereby abrogated; it will come notwithstanding, and that through the Messiah, whose person, office, and name are described more directly and plainly than we often find them (5:1 ff.). Thus becomes established in Zion (3) the glorious kingdom of the future (iv. 4:1 f.), a kingdom of peace and blessing (4:3 f.; 5:4, 9; 7:14 ff.), founded in God’s pity and readiness to forgive sin (7:18 f.), on the ruins of the world-power (5:5 f.). Its members are the “dispersed of Israel,” the wretched, “the remnant (4:6 f.; 5:2, 6 ff.). But the heathen nations also, overcome by God’s glory and might (7:16; 4:3), will seek, instead of their oracles, the living God (4:2), for the separating barrier of the statute is far removed (7:11).
Luther: The prophet Micah lived in the days of Isaiah, whose words he also quotes, as in the second chapter. Thus one may discern how the prophets who lived at the same time preached almost the same words concerning Christ, as if they had taken counsel with each other thereof. He is, however, one of the excellent prophets, who vehemently chastise the people for their idolatry, and brings forward always the future Christ and his kingdom. And he is for all a peculiar prophet in this, that he so plainly points out and names Bethlehem as the city where Christ should be born. Hence he was also in the O.T. highly celebrated, as Matt. 2:6 well shows. In brief, he rebukes, prophesies, preaches, etc. But in the end this is his meaning, that although everything must go to ruin, Israel and Judah, still the Christ will come who will restore all, etc.
[Dr. Pusey: The light and shadows of the prophetic life fell deeply on the soul of Micah. The captivity of Judah, too, had been foretold before him. Moses had foretold the end from the beginning, had set before them the captivity and the dispersion, as a punishment which the sins of the people would certainly bring upon them. Hosea presupposed it; Amos foretold that Jerusalem, like the cities of its heathen enemies, should be burned with fire. Micah had to declare its lasting desolation. Even when God wrought repentance through him, he knew that it was but for a time; for he foresaw and foretold that the deliverance would be, not in Jerusalem, but at Babylon, in captivity. His prophecy sank so deep that, above a century afterwards, just when it was about to have its fulfillment, it was the prophecy which was remembered. But the sufferings of time disappeared in the light of eternal truth. Above seven centuries rolled by, and Micah reappears as the herald, not now of sorrow, but of salvation. Wise men from afar, in the nobility of their simple belief, asked, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? A king, jealous for his temporal empire, gathered all those learned in Holy Scripture, and echoed the question. The answer was given, unhesitatingly, as a well-known truth of God, in the words of Micah, For that it is written in the prophet. Glorious peerage of the two contemporary prophets of Judah! Ere Jesus was born, the Angel announced the birth of the Virgin’s Son, God with us, in the words of Isaiah. When He was born, he was pointed out as the Object of worship to the first converts from the heathen, on the authority of God, through Micah. –TR.]
First Division. First Discourse. Chapter 1.
Second Discourse. Chapters 2:1-3:12.
Third Discourse. Chapters 4 & 5.
Second Division. Fourth Discourse. Chapters 6-7.
I. Contents and Form.
The prophecy of Nahum announces the destruction of Nineveh, beheld in vision (chazon), in strains of a lofty, impetuous epinicion. This triumphal song is addressed partly, so far as it is consolatory and animating, to his countrymen; but chiefly, in its menacing character, to the powerful enemy. That Nineveh is the enemy is expressly declared in the course of the prophecy, chap. 2:9 (8) compared with chap. 3:18. In chap. 1:8, where it is first referred to, the allusion is intelligible, only as a retrospect to the statement in the title, 1:1, which, consequently, must be considered as an integrant part of the whole.
Nineveh was to be destroyed, plundered, and entirely laid waste by a hostile army, and by the unfettering of the elements; and all those that were oppressed by her were to have rest from that time forth.
The whole book is one connected prophecy. The transitions from one train of thought to another are interwoven into one another; they are often so joined by close antithesis, or verbal correspondence, that the conclusion of that which precedes is inseparably connected with the beginning of that which follows. The prophetic effusion flows on continually from beginning to end, without distinct sections, pauses, or divisions into strophes. Yet there is . no defect in the internal arrangement. In the exordium (i. 1-6), the prophet sets out, not from a present historical event, nor even from the event seen by him in vision; but with a lemma borrowed from the Torah: “God is a jealous God and an avenger; ” which he works into a grand description of God’s glory as a judge (comp. 1:4). Connected with this by the immediately annexed intermediate thought (ver. 7), that the avenging Jehovah is good to them that trust in Him, is the announcement, by way of inference, of the destruction of Nineveh, (1:8-16), which finally ends in a sentence of judgment, delivered prophetically in the stricter sense (vers. 12–14). With this is connected, passing over another intermediate thought (2:1), relating to Israel, the description of the catastrophe (2:2-11); differing from the announcement by the fact that while the latter is expressed throughout in the future (‘syk, ‘shbr, y`sch), now the whole scene, viewed as real and present before the eyes of the prophet, is described by preterits and participles (lbtzu, nsym, `lh). He sees the besieging army before the city, the armor glittering in the light of the sun (vers. 2-4); in the city he beholds wild confusion (vers. 5, 6); he sees the flood break in with its overflowing waters (7-9 a), the city abandoned and laid waste (9 b-11).
To the description is directly added, as it were, an elegy over the ruins, lamenting, of course, less in sympathy with Nineveh, than over the wickedness which caused such ruin. An alternating surge of motives, and of further descriptions of the catastrophe and its con sequences follows from 2:12-3:19. 2:12-14 gives mainly the fundamental thoughts of this epilogue: (a.) Nineveh was a robber; (b.) She is destroyed by God from the earth. Both these thoughts are thereupon farther carried out: (a.) in 3:1-4; (b.) in 3:5-7; (c.) 3:8–12 presents a new motive; its destruction is certain, and resistance hopeless; even the powerful No Amon fell. And as it is hopeless, so also (d.), it is helpless, 12,13. This thought is carried out in a two-fold form, vers. 14,15, a,b; let Nineveh arm herself as she may, still she must be destroyed, 15c-17; however unnumbered her troops may be, yet they must vanish away. To this is joined the epilogue, vers. 18,19, which comprises the fundamental thoughts of the whole: Nineveh, the orpressor, is irrecoverably destroyed; and the oppressed do not mourn, but are comforted.
Even from the summary of the contents we might arrive at the conclusion that the diction would be stirring and vivacious. Indeed, Nahum of all the prophets has the most impassioned style; and in none is found the change of numbers, of persons addressed, and of suffix-relations, with such frequency and immediateness as in him. At the same time his language has wonderful energy and picturesque beauty. The painting does not embrace merely single rhythms (2:5) and groups of words (2:11), but whole series (3:2, 3; 2:10, and a number of other places); and in connecting his thoughts he shows, with all his vehemence, great and varied skill. Consider the beautiful double parallelisms (comp. 3:4); the rhythmical prominence of a single definitive word, or of a quite small group of words, 1:10 (‘ukelu),14 (ki qalloha), 2:1; 3:17 (‘ayyam); the fuller statement of two fundamental thoughts briefly premised (1:7,8; (shtph, tzrh), carried out, vers. 9,10; 1:12–14: (hnny, trph), carried out, 3:1 ff., 5 ff., etc.) Lowth says with propriety: “Ex omnibus minoribus prophetis nemo videtur זquare sublimitater ardorum et audaces spiritus Nahumi. Adde quod ejus vaticinium integrum ac justum est poכma. Exordium magnificum est et plane augustum ; apparatus ad excidium Ninivז ejusque excidit descriptio et amplificatio ardentissimis coloribus exprimitur et mirabilem habet evidentiam et pondus.” It has been here and there the custom, from a somewhat docetic view of the Scriptures, to esteem lightly the attention bestowed upon the form adopted by the sacred writers as something superfluous, relatively useless. We are not to reason about an opinion that is based upon a natural defect, and whoever has in general a sense of method, will not allow himself to be robbed of the enjoyment he finds in contemplating the forms of God’s Word. (Comp. Prov. 25:11.) However, he who would like to copy after a good exemplar, can refer, not merely to the beauty of Luther’s translation of the Bible, but also to the express model of the Reformer, whom certainly no one will accuse of humanizing the Scriptures. Compare, for example, his remark on Hab. 1:8: “Here we see how elegantly and accurately the prophets can speak, how briefly and yet amply they express a thing. For what another would have said in bare words, thus: The Babylonians will come and destroy Jerusalem: Habakkuk says with many words, and beautifies everything, and adorns it with similes,” etc.
2. Author and Date.
3. Position in the Organism of Scripture.
4. Fall of Nineveh. Fulfillment.
Over 500 years, Nineveh, the great city of God (comp. Jonah 1:3; 3:2), was, under its powerful rulers, the terror of Western Asia. Through successive generations it had been built into an immense city: dynasty after dynasty had transmitted its dreaded name, by magnificent colossal edifices, to after ages. Upon an artificial terrace by the Tigris towered, not far from the tower of Ninus, the great northwest palace founded by Sardanapalus, (Assur-idanni-pal ; according to Rawlinson, Assur-izir-pal); in the southwest corner, in still fresh magnificence, stood the residence, which Assarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib, had built from the ruins of the central palace formerly erected by Salmanassar I, son of Sardanapalus and conqueror of Benhadad and Jehu. Farther to the northeast, on the KhosrSu, which flows with a swift current from the Maklub mountains into the Tigris, and frequently with sudden floods overflows the plains, were the great structures of Khorsabad, the monuments of Sargon, who, during the conquest of Samaria, succeeded Salmanassar IV; finally, near the mouth of the Khosr-Su stood the edifices of Sennacherib and Assurbanipalus, the son of Assarhaddon, at Kouyunjik. The wide plain of the city, covered with masses of houses, streets, and pasture-grounds, was strongly fortified. On the west and south the Tigris and the Zab (Lycus) inclosed it: on the east and north moats were dug, which almost equaled the rivers in width. A surrounding wall protected the main part of he city; the sluices of the canals were defended by well-guarded gates and citadels. Within surged an immense traffic; Nineveh’s reputation as a commercial city rivaled that of Tyre Ez. 27:23), and immense riches were hoarded up in it, acquired, to be sure, not by commerce alone, but also by the system of predatory war and contributions [levied in time of war] carried to the highest degree (comp. 2:13).
But even this height of human grandeur must be brought low by the will of God. In the midst of it and during its full bloom, the threatening of Nahum was denounced against [war Nahums Wort der Stadt in, s Angesicht geschleudert] the city, and it did not wait long for its fulfillment. East of Assyria, at the same time that the Aryan Romans were laying the foundation of their city and of universal dominion, on the banks of the Tiber, in the extreme west, the Aryan tribes, the Medes and Persians, who were about to wrest the reins of Asiatic dominion from the hands of the enervated Semites of the east, aspired to power.
After these nations had served the Assyrians a long time, –and still in the time of Salmanassar they were the vassals of that power (2nd Kings 17:6)– occurred, as it appears, the catastrophe of Sennacherib before Jerusalem, which furnished the final occasion for Deioces (Ajis-dahaka = Astyages, devouring serpent), the King of the Medes, one year after that catastrophe, to shake off the oppressive yoke. Sennacherib may nevertheless, as the monuments (against Tob. 1:21) prove, have reigned after that disaster seventeen years, and undertaken numerous expeditions; and even after him Assarhaddon, who maintained the city in a highly flourishing condition, may still have been a powerful king. The statement of Josephus, according to which the decline of the Assyrian power dates from the annihilation of its army before Jerusalem, still maintains its accuracy; for the “disperser” had become free; and though Assarhaddon continued to call himself the King of Media, it was an empty pretension. The Assyrians were no longer successful in subjecting the Medes. Already Deioces, the successor of Phraortes (Frawartish), began to tear away large fragments from the kingdom, and he ventured even an attack upon the central province, which was, however, repelled. In the south the Egyptians, whose country the Assyrian kings, since the time of Sargon, were fond of designating as their province, asserted with energy their independence under Tirhaka, and Assurbanipal, son of Assarhaddon, had only trifling success against them. Yea, under Psammetichus they began to enter Asia victoriously. Savage bands of entirely foreign hordes (the Scythians), passed through burning and laying waste the hither Asiatic countries (comp. Introd. to Zeph. 4); and although their invasion was at first productive of advantage to Assyria, inasmuch as Phraortes, the successor of Cyaxares, was obliged to turn away his forces from Nineveh against them, yea to enter into a kind of alliance with the chief Khan of the Scythians for twenty-eight years, still the country of Assyria suffered harm from them, and its power was more and more weakened. A still more dangerous enemy, in their own land and of their own race, arose under the encouragement of Media. Babylon, which before Nineveh, had maintained the ascendency in Hither Asia, made efforts from time to time to regain its ancient glory; but it had always again (and a short time before by Sennacherib and Assarhaddon) been defeated.
Now the time for independence appeared to have arrived. Whilst Cyaxares, by the wars which he prosecuted, surrounded Nineveh on the north, in a crescent, with his conquests, Nabopolassar (in Abyd., Eus., “Busalossor”; in Ktes., Diod. “Belesys”), whom the Assyrian king, in the days of the Assyrian oppression, had sent to hold Babylon, had taken advantage of the rebellious disposition of the people, drawn them into his plans, and made preparations to revolt. The complete overthrow of the Assyrian authority was an essential condition of the kingdom which he intended to found. For this there was need of Media. Cyaxares was still involved in war with Lydia; but an eclipse of the sun in broad daylight, which terrified the combatants, contributed to the success of Nabopolassar’s plans of mediation. Cyaxares made peace with the Lydians and an alliance with the Babylonians against the Assyrians, which was sealed by the marriage of his daughter, Amunia, with Nebuchadnezzar (in Herod. “Labynetus”), the son of Nabopolassar. Nebuchadnezzar appears from this time forward as the colleague of his father. [Whether, as from the notices of Ktesias in Diodorus and from Nicolaus Dam. it seems to follow, and as Niebuhr assumes, the Babylonian [king] entered into a feudal relation to Media, cannot from the evidently unreliable character of these sources be determined. Duncker doubts it. However, on this supposition, it would be easily explained how, on the one hand, Herodotus ascribes to Cyaxares alone the conquest, and how Berosus also mentions only Babylonian auxiliaries, whilst, on the other hand, besides Ez. 32 Abydenus also, Alexander Polyhistor and the Jewish sources external to the Bible assign the conquest to the Babylonians.]
The assault was made. In Nineveh reigned Assuridilil III, the indolent son of Assurbanipalus (Oppert; Spiegel according to H. Rawlinson 1860: “Assur-emed-ilin;” Brandis according to H. Rawlinson, 1864: “Assur-irik-ili-kin;” Syncellus according to Berosus, Abyd., Alex. Poly h.: “Sarakos = Assarak.”) Notwithstanding the siege was no easy task. The king had at the approach of the enemy, collected all his active forces into the wide plain of the city. When Ktesias relates that they continued to be collected for three years, his statement is not incredible, in view of the great strength of the city. The silence of Herodotus is no reason to the contrary, since in our text of Herodotus, it is proved from Aristotel., Hist. Anim., ed. Becker, 601, that there is a hiatus just at the determinative passage. Niebuhr thinks that, judging from the remains of the fortifications, it was impossible for the siege-engines of the ancients to effect a capture. Three times was severe defeat brought upon the besieging army by the Assyrians sallying forth; and with difficulty did Nabopolassar, whose crown was at stake, succeed in holding the Medes to the siege. Soon the Assyrians abandoned themselves, in their camp pitched before the gates, to negligent rejoicing on account of their victory (comp. 1:10); then they were attacked in the night by the besiegers and driven back to the walls. The king gave, in his despondency, the chief command to his brother-in-law, Salaemenes; but fortune had changed. Salaemenes with his troops was routed and driven into the Tigris (comp. at 3:3). But the city itself was still uninjured, and in vain did the enemy encamp before the gates. Then it came to pass, in the spring of the third year, that other powers interfered. The river became “an enemy to the city” (Ktes.); comp. at 2:7; 1:8, 10. The inundation occurring suddenly, was more violent than it had ever been: the mighty flood broke down in one night the walls on the river to a great extent. The king despaired of saving his life. Already had he sent his family to the north; now he shut himself up with all his treasures in the royal citadel and burned himself with them.“Of old the funeral pile was erected; yea, for the king it was prepared deep and large: it was prepared with fire and much wood, and the breath of God, like a stream of brimstone, kindles it.” (Is. 30:33.) An immense booty of gold and silver was carried from the city to Ecbatana and Babylon. The princes of the Medes caused the battlements of the inner walls around their castles to be covered with gold and silver plates made from it. The princes of Babylon adorned the temple of Belus with it. (Comp. at 2:10.) The plundered city was abandoned to the flames. It is evident from the ruins that both Khorsabad and Nimrud were sacked and then set on fire. (Bonomi.)
Thus was Nineveh overthrown. Assyria lies buried there with all its people; round about are their graves, all of them are slain and fallen by the sword; they have made their graves deep there below.” (Ex. 32:22 f.) Panic fear kept the people of the vicinity a long time far from the ruins. Xenophon found still in their mouths gloomy traditions of the destruction of the great city, whose ruins he saw: the interposition of the Deity, whether by an eclipse, or by a fearful thunderstorm, was fully believed by them. Anab. III. iv. 8-12. It seems that even the eclipse, which, to the ruin of Nineveh, had put an end to the Lydian war, was laid hold of by the popular belief, as it was by the prophets, in this import of it. In later times the Parthians erected castles over the ruins. Tacitus is acquainted with Ninus as an existing fortification. (Ann., xii. 13, comp. also Ammian. Marc. xxiii. 16.) But if this fortress ever had any importance, Lucian could not have written: (Hē men Ninos apolōlen ēdē, kai ouden ichnos eti loipon autēs, oud’ an eipēs hopou pot’ ēn.) (Episkopountes) Compare Nah. 3:17.
The emperor Heraclius gained, A. D. €27, the great victory over Rhazates on the field of its ruins. (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. xlvi.) Benjamin of Tudela found again, A. D. 1170, on its site, many villages and castles. But about A. D. 1300 it is again asserted ihat Nineveh is entirely destroyed. Thus it remained long forgotten. Bochart (Phaleg., vi. 20, p. 284) states that the learned endeavor in vain to determine its situation. “Immensa urbs ac fere inxuperabilis per multa secula diruta jacet; imperii olim amplissimi munimenta, splendoris regiique apparatus domicilia hodierno die diffudit aratrum, aut seduli accolז, qui vias per medias ruinas sequuntur, conculcant. Verno tempore nunc aggeres graminibus se vestiunt omniaque collium ab ipsa natura perfectorum jugo tam similia sunt, ut Niebuhrius quז munimenta transgressus esset, Alossulce demum acceperit.” (Tuch, p. 55 f.) The spirit of inquiry, during the last decades, has reanimated the dust of the past for a witness of the truth of God’s Word. “Qui viderit ruinas Nineves et positam eam omnibus in exemplum, exravescet et mirabitur. Hieronymus, Ad Nah. 3:7.
That the siege and conquest described above are predicted by Nahum cannot be doubted The strange hypothesis of Kalinsky that Nahum foretells two conquests: the one, chap. 2, related by Ktesias-Diodorus; the other, chap. 3, by Herodotus, scarcely requires mention.
More difficult, however, is the fixing of the time when the conquest took place. It was for a time considered settled that it should be placed in the year 606. (Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, p. 269; Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, 273; O. Strauss, p. lxxv. ; Duncker, p. 303.) We consider this date the most probable, even after the antagonistic opinion of Keil.
In favor of this first of all is the synchronism of the Biblical statements. If in the time of Josiah a king of Assyria is still mentioned (2nd Kings 23:29), it follows that Nineveh could not have been destroyed before Josiah’s death in 609. If Jeremiah (ch. 25) enumerates, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the kingdoms of the world which were still to be destroyed, and does not mention Assyria among them, then its destruction cannot fall after 605.
Further, the more authentic sources of Jewish literature are in favor of this date. Tobias becomes blind in the year 710 (Clinton), and lives still after this one hundred years (ch. 14 gr.); and yet Nineveh was not destroyed until after his death. The Seder Olam Rabba states (ch. 24 comp. the parallels from other Rabbinical writings in Meyer’s Observations on the Seder, p. 1131), that Nebuchadnezzar in his first year [consequently (comp. Jer. 25:1), immediately before the date of the passage from Jeremiah mentioned above] destroyed Nineveh.
Finally, the chronology of profane writers also favors this date. “According to Herodotus the conquest falls after the Lydian war of Cyaxares (i. 106). This war was terminated after the tenth of September, 610, by a treaty of peace. The armies of the allies, therefore, could not appear before Nineveh before the spring of 609. In the third year of the siege the city was taken (Diodorus, ii. 27); the capture was facilitated by the overflowing of the river, and must consequently have taken place in the spring. When the capture took place, Nabopolassar was still living, and took possession of the Assyrian territory situated on this side of the Tigris (Alex. Polyh. in Syncellus, p. 396 ed. Dind.). But Nabopolassar died in January 604, according to the Astronomical Canon. It can, therefore, be only a matter of doubt whether the capture occurred in 606 or 605. Since, however, Nebuchadnezzar, in the year 605, defeated Necho at Carchemish and pursued him as far as Syria, where he was informed, first that his father was sick, and then that he was dead (Jos., Ant., x. 11, 1), the capture of the city must have already taken place in 606.” (Duncker.)
This last reason Keil has attacked. Both his arguments against it, which he has drawn from the state of affairs, are unimportant. That Cyaxares, soon after the termination of the Lydian war, set out against Nineveh, has, according to our representation of circumstances given above, nothing surprising; but on the contrary it was quite natural. Nabopolassar had brought about a peace, in order to bring the Mede into the field against Nineveh as soon es possible; for to him delay was dangerous. Nor is it at all improbable, that soon after the fall of Nineveh, the son of Nabopolassar, eager for war, led his troops elated with victory against the Egyptian Necho, vanquished him and pursued him a great distance. The third objection is of greater importance. An eclipse of the sun, which, according to the statement of Herodotus, was the occasion of terminating the Lydian war, cannot be established on the 30th of September, 610, but only on the 8th of May, 622, or on the 28th of May, 585. The last date cannot come into consideration; therefore that treaty of peace may be transferred to the year 622, and the capture of Nineveh may fall nearer to this date than to 605. However the eclipse of the sun of September 30, 610, according to Oltmanus for those countries concerned, was not quite total, yet nearly so: only a fiftieth part of the disk of the sun remained uneclipsed. (Ideler, Chronol., i. 209 ff.) And even if the computation of certain English astronomers should be correct, that the eclipse of the sun of that date did not touch Hither Asia, but went further to the east (Nieb , p. 48), it would only compel us to seek the battlefield eastward from Asia Minor. And considering the ambiguity of the expression of Herodotus (“the day was turned to night,”) the possibility is not at all excluded, that instead of an eclipse of the sun, the reference is to one of those sudden obscurations of the atmosphere, which often occur in those countries. (Diu Cass., lxvi. 22 ff.; Plin., Ep., vi. 20. Also in Matt. 27:45, the statement does not refer to an eclipse of the sun; for the Passover fell at the time of the full moon.) At all events the argument, which would put in the place of an accord of so many consistencies, a sum of as many difficulties and contradictions, is neither evident enough nor at all adequate to overthrow the synchronism of Biblical and profane writers given above. The date computed by Seyffarth for 626 (in the appendix to the German translation of Layard’s Nineveh and its Remains, p. 476), entirely fails.
Chapter I. Sublime Description of Attributes & Operations of Jehovah, with a view to
inspire His People with Confidence in His Protection (vers. 2-8). Assyrians addressed & described (vers. 9-11). Their Destruction together with Deliverance of Jews connected with that Event (vers. 12-15).
Chapter II. Description, Conquest, Plundering, & Destruction of Nineveh. Chap. 1:15-1: 14 (Heb. Bib, chap. 2)
Chapter III. Prophet resumes Description of Siege of Nineveh (vers. 1-3); traces it to her Idolatry as its cause (ver. 4); repeats Divine Denunciations introduced chap. 2:13 (vers. 5-7); points her to the once celebrated, but now desolate Thebes (vers. 8–10), declaring that such should likewise be her Fate; calls upon her ironically to make every Preparation for her Defense, assuring her that it would be of no avail (vers. 14–15); and concludes by contrasting her former prosperous with her latter remediless State. C.E.]
I. Contents and Form.
The first part of this book, chaps. 1 & 2, contains a dialogue between God and the prophet, which, not only by its form, but also by the pure elevation of its style, is closely connected with Micah 6 & 7. It takes from the empirical present only its startingpoint, in order to exhibit immediately the great course of coming events, according to its nature, as an embodiment of the fundamental ideas of the kingdom of God. The dialogue treats, in two gradations, of God’s plan with Israel and with the heathen secular power, which is here pointed out with clear precision as the Chaldaean, 1:6. Israel’s sin must be punished by a severe and powerful judgment, and the scourge is already raised, which will fall upon the generation living at present (1:1-11). But it is a revelation of the righteousness of Jehovah, which is to be executed, and which will strike the destroyer as well as every sinful being upon earth. At the last the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah and keep silence before Him. With this the prophet consoles believers (1:12-2:20). As in Micah, so here also the dialogue falls into a hymn artistically constructed after the manner of the Psalms (chap. 3), which, according to the model of the old sacred national songs, and in the form (which from these has become customary) of a wonderfully glorious theophany, celebrates the judgment of God upon the heathen, and, in connection with it, the salvation of Israel.
By the liturgical additions at the beginning and the end this hymn was appointed for public performance in the temple; as may be seen also from the recurrence of the Selah, which is characteristic of liturgical hymns.
As concerns the form of the prophetical language of this book, “it is classical throughout, full of rare and select words and turns, which are to some extent exclusively his own, whilst his view and mode of presentation bear the seal of independent force and finished beauty. Notwithstanding the violent rush (which is yet more regular than in Nahum) and lofty soaring of the thoughts, his prophecy forms a finely organized and artistically rounded whole.” (Delitzsch.) But the lyric ring of the language throughout, in which he unites the power of Isaiah and the tender feeling of Jeremiah, is peculiar to himself.
[Keil, Introduction to the Old Testament, vol. i. p. 414: “The prophecy of Habakkuk is clothed in a dramatic form, man questioning and complaining, God answering with threatening. It announces as nearest of all, the impending fearful judgment by the instrumentality of the Chaldaeans on the theocracy because of its prevailing moral corruption (chap. 1); and next to this, in a fivefold woe, the downfall of this arrogant, violent, God-forgetting, and idolatrous offender (chap. 2); and it concludes with the answer of the believing Church to this twofold divine revelation, that is to say, with a prophetico-lyric echo of the impressions and feelings produced in the prophet’s mind –(*1) by these two divine relations when pondered in the light of the Lord’s great doings in times past [ch. 3] (*2).”
“(*1) Comp. the admirable development of the contents of this prophecy, and of its organic articulation as it forms an indivisible whole, in Delitzsch, Comm. There is now no more need of refuting the contrary opinions (proceeding from utter want of understanding) of Kalinsky, p. 145 ff.; of Friedrich in Eichhorn, Allg. Biblioth., X. p. 420 ff.; of Horst, Visioner Hab., pp. 31–32; of Rosenmūller, of Maurer, and others, that the book contains various dis courses of various dates. The same may be said of the assertion of Hamaker, p. 16 ff., that the first discourse is only a fragment.
(*2) Hence it leans in manifold ways on the older songs and psalms, and reproduces their thoughts (Deut. 33:2; Judg. v. 4,5; Ps. 68:8,9), but especially on Ps. 77:16-21; comp. Delitzsch, Hab., p. 118 ff.” –C.E.]
IV. Place in Organism of Scripture.
Chapter I. The Prophet commences by setting forth the Cause of the Chaldaean Invasion, which forms the Burden of his Prophecy. This Cause was the great Wickedness of the Jewish Nation at the Time he flourished (vers. 2–4). Jehovah is introduced as summoning Attention to that Invasion (ver. 5). The Prophet describes the Appearance, Character, and Operations of the Invaders (vers. 6–11). –C.E.)
Chapters I. 1:12-2:20. [The Prophet expostulates with God on Account of the Judgment, which threatens the Annihilation of the Jewish People (chap. 1 vers. 12-17). The waiting Posture of the Prophet (chap. 2 ver. 1). The Command to commit to Writing the Revelation which was about to be made to Him (ver. 2). Assurance that the Prophecy, though not fulfilled immediately, will certainly be accomplished (ver. 3). The proud and unbelieving will abuse it; but the believing will be blessed by it. The Prophet then depicts the Sins of the Chaldaeans, and shows that both general Justice and the special Agencies of God’s Providence will surely overtake them with fearful Retribution. –C.E.]
Chapter III. Title and Introduction (vers. 1,2). The Prophet represents Jehovah as appearing in glorious Majesty on Sinai (vers. 3,4). He describes the Ravages of the Plague in the Desert (ver. 5). The Consternation of the Nations (vers. 6-10). Reference to the Miracle at Gibeon (ver. 11). Results of the Interposition of God on Behalf of his People (vers. 12-15). Subject of the Introduction resumed (ver. 16). The Prophet asserts his Confidence in God in the midst of anticipated Calamity. Parallels to this Ode: Deut. 33:2-5; Judges 5:4,5; Ps. 68:7,8; 77:13-20; 114; Is. 63:11-14. –C.E.]
1. Author and Date.
2. Character of the Time.
3. Summary of Contents. On looking over this prophecy we discover at once, as its chief objects, both the fundamental problems of all prophetic anouuncement, viz., the great day of judgment, to the description of which the first chapter is devoted, and the salvation connected with it, the announcement of which forms the subject of the third chapter from the eighth verse onward. Thus the external structure of the whole book is easily surveyed. It is divided into six parts, of which each one separately has a very evident connection:
1. Exordium, 1:1-6. Announcement of Judgment of World, & Reason of Judgment upon Israel, arising from Evil Condition of Present.
II. Description of Judgment, 1:7-18.
(a) In Reference to its Objects, 7-13.
(b) In Reference to its Dreadfulness, 14-18.
III. Exhortation to Seek God, 2:1-3.
IV. Announcement of Judgment upon Heathen Nations, 2:4-15.
V. Repeated Description of Remediless Misery in Jerusalem, 3:1-7.
VI. Promise of Salvation, 3:8-20.
(a) Salvation of Heathen following Judgment, 8-10.
(b) Purification of Israel, 11-13.
(c) Salvation of Israel, 14-20.
It is now a question whether these parts, connected in themselves, but in relation to each other very much disunited, stand related to one another by an internal connection. Exegeteg place as the foundation of the collective view the division into chapters, and thus obtain three great divisions, without, however, establishing thereby a connection of the whole : the incoherence of the parts continues to exist in the separate chapters. Compare e.g., the summary of contents which Delitzsch gives on the ground of the division into chapters, at the place cited, p. 494. Strauss combines chapters 2 and 3; Keil divides the book into three sections: 1; 2:7-3:6; 3:8-20; Hitzig, 1, 2, 3:1-13, 14-20. However these are only imperfect remedies and partly not even conformable to the purpose. Unless we are willing to consider the prophecy a collection of fragments, to which, however, the immediate impression as well as the beautiful coherence of the beginning and the end is opposed, the attempt to seek for an internal thread of connection for all the parts is required, and we will thereby have to put the division into chapters out of the question.
In the first place it is evident, that the brief exhortation to seek God while there is still time, (2:1 ff.), is naturally and self-evidently connected as a hortatory conclusion to the threatening of judgment (chap. 1), and that we must consequently limit the extent of the first great division to 1:1-2:3, to the announcement, reason, description of the judgment and exhortation.
Now how is chapter 2:4 ff. related to it? It refers to a series of devastations of foreign lands: Philistia, Moab, and Ammon are to be laid waste; after that the remnant of the children of Israel are to enter into their possessions. Destruction is also to come upon Cush and Nineveh. And certainly the prophet, in this description, does not follow the march of a definite historical catastrophe like Amos, who perhaps has before his eyes the military expeditions of the Assyrians, and Jeremiah, who has before him those of Nebuchadnezzar (chap. 25); but the heathen nations are grouped together according to the order of the cardinal points of the heavens, west and east, south and north. The first pair (Philistia, Moab = Ammon), represent the neighboring nations; the second pair (Cush, Nineveh), represent the distant powers of the world; they stand representatively for heathen nations generally (comp. on 2:4 if.), for it is also expressly declared to these representative nations (v. 11), that the prophecy is intended to be really universal in its character.
Now this announcement of judgment seems mainly to be a simple continuation of the description of the day of judgment in chap. 1. But the execution of these judgments upon the heathen (3:6,7), is urged as a reason that Jerusalem should have changed for the better; put she continues to sin still far worse. And if the remnant of Israel is to enter (2:7, 11) upon the possession of the desolated lands of the heathen, who had been destroyed (2.4 ff.), it is plain, that a catastrophe, which is no other than the judgment upon Israel, must be placed between the restoration of this remnant and that state of impenitence, which continues in Jerusalem after the desolation of these lands (3:6,7). Accordingly 2:4 ff. cannot be the amplification of the judgment upon Israel; but it, together with 3:1 ff., presupposes it.
Accordingly both the parts, 2:4-18 and 1-7, are connected with a second great section, in such a way that the prophet announces a series of chastisements upon the heathen nations, whick find their climax in the destruction of Nineveh (comp. Introd. to Nahum); and which, although they are at the same time exhibitions of grace on the part of God toward Judah, (comp. Nah. 2:1), are nevertheless just as fruitless as the reproofs, exhortations, and threatenings of judgment, which He uttered and denounced against Israel himself (3:5). Accordingly, if the promise that the remnant should enter into the inheritance of the heathen, which is the necessary result, is to be fulfilled, Israel himself must first pass through the judgment. Neither 2:4 ff., nor 3:1 ff. speaks of this; therefore the day of judgment, which was described 1-2:3, can only be meant by it. And hence this second great division is connected with chap. 1 as a double statement of the reason, for it also begins with (ki): the day of judgment upon the wickedness [mentioned] 1:4-6 is coming 1:7; 2:3; for although Jehovah overthrows the heathen (2:4-18), yet Israel continues as he was (3:1-7). After 3:7, the discourse, if the logical connection, according to our occidental mode of thinking, were to be completed, might return to 1:7. This is a frequent method with the prophets, to begin with that which is threatened, and then follow with a statement of the reasons. (Comp. above, p. 3, at the end.)
Instead of the repetition of chap. 1 the further progress of the prophecy, which, consequently, according to the logical connection of the whole, is properly connected with [and resumes] the conclusion of the first part, 2:3, is, in the third division, 3:8-20, immediately joined with 3:7. After the separate judgments 2:4 ff., which fall upon the heathen severally in their own land, these same nations are assembled once more, in order that in a last great decisive battle with Jehovah their power may be broken, 3:8; then they come into the kingdom of God (treten sie zum Reiche Gottes hinzu), iii. 3:9 f.. Judah purified by the judgment, chap. 1, and his remnant inherits the promise: God is in the midst of him and his prisoners are restored (3:11-20).
The whole structure [Gesammtzusammenhang] of the prophecy is accordingly closely modeled after that of Obadiah: (1) Judgment, 1:1-2:3; (2) Moving cause, 2:4-3:7; (3) Salvation, 3:8-20. But it is evident that in the judgment there are several distinct parts [Momente]: (1) The immediately impending separate judgment upon the heathen nations, 2:4-18; (2) the final judgment upon the heathen, 3:8; (3) the judgment upon Israel, 1:7-14; 3:11. All three parts together form the great world judgment, which is presented to view, 1:2 f.; and in their totaliry they form the condition [Voraussetzung] of the salvation.
4. Historical Relations of the Prophecy.
5. Literary Character.
6. Position in the Organism of Scripture.
Day of Judgment. Chapter 1:1-2:3. The Universality of Judgment (vers. 2, 3): it will Destroy all Idolaters in Judah & Jerusalem (vers. 4-7): it will fall upon Sinners of every Rank (vers. 8-13): it will Burst Irresistibly upon all Inhabitants of Earth (vers. 14-18): Call to Conversion (chap. 2:1-3). –C.E.]
Reasons. Chap. 2:4-3:7.
Salvation. Chapter 3:8-20.
§ 1. Person of the Prophet.
§ 2. Occasion and Aim of the Prophecy. (* If this were the proper place for the discussion, it might be interesting to trace the relations subsisting between tha several discourses of the Prophets of the Restoration, which bear upon the Temple, e.g., how Haggai assumes the identity of the Second Temple and the Church of Christ, while Zechariah (6:12,13) seems to contradict him by asserting that the Messiah would Himself build the Temple of Jehovah, and Malachi resolves into full harmony these seeming discords of the Prophetic lyre by predicting that Jehovah would come to his Temple, and purify the sons of Levi (3:1-3). The subject is worthy of fuller consideration. *)
§ 3. The Book of the Prophet in Matter and Form. The Book of the Prophet Haggai consists of five addresses delivered to the Jewish people, within a period of about four months, in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, King of Persia. The first discourse (chap. 1:1-11) is one of reproof, expostulation, and warning, being designed to arouse the people from their religious apathy, and, in especial, from their indifference to the condition of the Temple, which was then lying desolate. The second discourse (contained in the section chap. 1:12–15), after a relation of the beneficial results of the first, holds out to them, in their returning obedience, the promise of God’s returning favor and of his aid in their work. (*2 Nearly all the Commentators regard chap. 1 as comprising but one discourse, thus making the whole prophecy to consist of four. The following considerations will show that the passage chap. 1:12-15 should form & separate division, us containing a distinct address. (1.) Ver. 13 seems to indicate that a new message was delivered by Jehovah to Haggai (2.) As far as ver. 11 the words of the Prophet are objurgatory, thus giving a well-defined character to the discourse. His words in ver. 13 express approval and convey encouragement, they must therefore form the subject of a distinct message. The reason of the contrast is obvious. A complete change (described in ver. 12) had been effected in the disposisson of the people. Before they had been apathetic and careless. But now the rebukes and denunciations of the Prophet had excited in them that true fear of God whose earliest fruit is repentance (comp. ver. 14). Hence he was commissioned to assure them of God’s renewed favor. The brevity of the message as recorded, is accounted for on the assumption (probable upon all grounds) that Haggai, in accordance with the general usage of the Prophets, has given us a mere outline of his address. It is generally held that vers. 12-15 are intended merely to set forth the effects of the first message But it is to be remembered that the aim of the Prophet was not to write history, and that when he appears to be narrating, be is simply showing the occasions of his discourses, whose delivery was the sole object of his mission. *) The third discourse (chap. 2:1-9), evoked by the despondency that had begun to affect some of the people, on account of the outward inferioris, of the present temple, predicts for it a glory far transcending that of its predecessor, since the treasures of all nations were yet to adorn the Church of the Messiah, of which it was the representative. The fourth discourse (chap. 2:10-19), teaches them, from the principles of the Ceremonial Law, that no amount of outward religious observance can communicate holiness, or secure acceptance with God and the restoration of his favor, the withdrawal of which had been so manifest in their late public and private distress. The fifth discourse assures the struggling community of their preservation in the midst of commotions which should destroy other nations, promising to its faithful rulers, represented by Zerubbabel, the special protection of their Covenant God.
These outlines of his addresses the Prophet has arranged in regular chronological order carefully indicating the dates of their respective delivery. They are presented in a style, which, though lacking the poetical qualities of many of the earlier prophecies, is yet marked in various passages by great vivacity and impressiveness, to which, among other characteristics, the frequent use of interrogation (e.g., in chaps. 1:4, 9; 2:3, 12,13, 19) largely contributes. A striking peculiarity of the Prophet’s style has been remarked in his habit of “uttering the main thought with concise and nervous brevity, after a long and verbose introduction” (comp. chaps. 1:2; i. 1:12; 2:5; 2:19). In addition to these more obvious characteristics, we can discern both rhetorical and grammatical peculiarities natural to the declining period of the Hebrew language and literature. Of the former class is, for example, the frequent recurrence of favorite phrases: of the latter are such anomalous constructions as are found in chaps. 1:4, 6, 8,9; 2:3, 15,16, 18, to the critical discussion of which the reader is referred for fuller explanation.
§ 4. Special Works upon Haggai or upon the Prophets of the Restoration as a whole.
First Address. Rebuke & Expostulation of People for their Neglect of Temple. Chapter I. 1-11.
Second Address. On Repentance of People, God’s Presence among Them is Promised.
Third Address. Glory of Second Temple. Chapter 2:1-9.
Fourth Address. Past Calamities accounted for; & Immediate Prosperity Announced.
Fifth Address. Preservation of People in Convulsions that should Destroy Surrounding Nations. Chapter 2:20-23.
1. Name and Personal Relations of Zechariah.
2. Historical Background of his Prophecy.
3. Style & Form of Book.
4. Messianic Predictions.
5. Contents of Book.
6. Genuineness of Second Part.
7. Alleged Influence of Persian Theology.
§ 4. Messianic Predictions. It is an old remark that Zechariah is distinguished for his insight into the moral and spiritual meaning of the Mosaic economy, and his illustration of the Apostle’s statement that the law is a schoolmaster unto Christ. A great largeness and clearness of view is apparent even on a cursory inspection of his writings. His rebuke of formal fasting in ch. 7 is not nearly so eloquent as Isaiah’s treatment of the same theme in the fifty-eighth chapter of his prophecies, but it is every way as decided and vigorous. The universality of the commg dispensation is suggested again and again. It is not individuals merely, but many natione and far-off peoples who are to be joined unto the Lord The old boundaries of the covenant people are to be enlarged until they become coextensive with the limits of the habitable earth. See 2:11; 6:15; 8:20-23; 9:10; 14:9-16. The sacred inscription upon the tiara of the high priest, ‘Holiness to the LORD’, which proclaimed his entire consecration to the sacerdotal function, Zechariah sees engraved hereafter even upon the bells of the horses in token of the fact that all believers are to become a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and that, to such a degree that even the most ordinary functions of life shall be discharged in a religious spirit. (See 14:20.) Again, the reconstruction of the material Temple upon its old site is so far from satisfying his enlarged views that he passes at once to the true house of God, the Temple not made with hands, the glorious structure composed of living stones, built and inhabited by the Spirit of the living God. (See 6:13; 4:6). The golden candelabrum of the Tabernacle is to him not a mere ornament however brilliant, but the resplendent type of the city of God, precious to Jehovah as the apple of his eye, and shining from afar like a city set upon a hill, the means of its illumination being provided from ever fresh and imperishable sources. (See 4:1-12.) Himself a member of the priestly order, he looks forward to the time when the patriarchal type of Melchizedek shall be realized in the combination of regal and sacerdotal functions in one person. Not even the evangelical Prophet presents this instructive and consolatory thought with the clearness and emphasis of Zechariah. (See 4:13,14; 6:13.) Yet again, the union of the highest doctrines of grace with the most stringent ethical claims is given in a manner worthy of Paul. Over and over is it asserted that the Lord has chosen Jerusalem (1:17; 2:12; 3:2), a fact which is made the sole ground of her preservation, enlargement, and defense against all foes, visible and invisible; and yet he who asserts this sees between heaven and earth the flying roll inscribed with curses against all transgressors (5:2-4), and also lays down with sharp precision the immutable laws of justice, goodness, and truth, founded upon the recognition of man’s relations to his fellow-man, and their common relation to the one Maker and Father of all (7:8-10; 8:16,17). Once more, the fine conception of a joint observance of the Feast of Tabernacles by all families of the earth, represents the final issue of the world’s great pilgrimage, when the race of man, having concluded its march through the wilderness of error and trial, shall gratefully record the divine goodness in the new Exodus, and keep a perpetual memorial of this distinguishing mercy (14:16).
But besides these general allusions and references to the coming dispensation, there are specific and unquestionable predictions of the one great person through whom they were to be accomplished. These are given not in a continuous succession, but, just as they were by the former Prophets, at different times, and in various relations according to the circumstances and object of the Prophet on any particular occasion. Each prediction answered a definite purpose when it was uttered, and the whole together serve admirably to supplement and complete the Messianic literature of the preexile period. These specific references are more frequent and emphatic than in any of Zechariah’s predecessors except Isaiah. They are six in number.
1. The first one occurs in ch. 3:8, where Zechariah appropriates a name already used by Isaiah (4:2) and by Jeremiah (23:5; 33:15) for the same purpose –Branch. Jehovah declares that he will bring forth his servant, thus entitled, and, in close connection with this promise, asserts that the iniquity of the land will be removed in, one day.
2. In ch. 6:12,13, the same promise is resumed and enlarged. The man whose name is –Branch. He will start from a lowly origin and build the Temple of Jehovah, not the mere material structure, but the true spiritual Temple composed of living stones. Not only will He sit in majesty upon a throne, but be a priest upon his throne, uniting in Himself the two distinct offices and so securing the perfect discharge of the functions of both.
3. In ch. 9:9,10, the King reappears. His dominion is peaceful but universal, and shouts of triumph hail his coming. Yet that coming is marked by signs of lowliness and the passage presents the same combination so often found in Isaiah, of the absence of external signs of majesty with the reality of a world-wide power and influence.
4. The next Messianic reference is found in the obscure and difficult eleventh chapter, where (vers. 12,13) the wages of the good shepherd are estimated at the contemptuous sum of thirty pieces of silver. “A goodly price,” says Jehovah, with certainly not unbecoming irony, “at which I was prized of them.” The New Testament (Matt. 27:9,10) leaves no doubt that here is a designed allusion to the price of the fearful treason of Judas and the subsequent disposal of the wages of unrighteousness.
5. In ch. 12:10 is a still more remarkable delineation of the suffering Messiah, and a vivid statement of the connection between his death and the kindling of an earnest and genuine repentance in those who look upon Him as one whom they have pierced. It was fulfilled at Pentecost, and has been illustrated in the effects of the preaching of the crose sorrow. ever since. The repentance thus wrought is not ineffectual, but results in forgiveness and holiness, as is shown in 13:1, which is the conclusion of the passage commencing at the tenth verse of the previous chapter.
6. The last distinct reference to the coming Saviour (13:7), is perhaps the most striking in the entire range of prophecy. In it Jehovah is represented as calling upon the sword to awake against the man who is his fellow, where we are confronted with the two mysteries; that one sustaining such a relation should be subjected to such a doom, and that the Being who calls for and causes it, is Jehovah with whom he is so intimately united. The only explanation lies in the historical statement of the Evangelist, God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotton Son. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Thus is apparent the gradual progress of the disclosure. First, Jehovah’s lowly servant, Branch; then that servant as priest and king building Jehovah’s Temple; thirdly, as a meek and peaceful, but universal monarch; fourthly, a Shepherd, scorned, rejected, betrayed, and (by implication) slain; fifthly, his pierced form seen by faith a means of deep and general repentance attended by pardon and conversion; and lastly, the Fellow of Jehovah smitten by Jehovah himself, at once the redeemer and the pattern of his flock.
Dr. Lange (Genesis, p. 40) finds in ch. x. 10:11 a representation of Christ as going before his returning people through the sea of sorrow, beating down the waves of the sea. But this is gained only by an arbitrary interpretation, at war with the connection, unsustained by usage and scarcely admissible even upon the theory of accommodation.
§ 5. Contents of Book. It is very obvious on even a cursory inspection, that the book consists of two parts, the former of which (chaps. 1-8) contains mention of the dates at which its various portions were communicated, while the latter (chaps. 9-14) contains no dates at all. There are other and even more important points of difference, as will presently be seen, but this one is enough to indicate the occurrence of a break in the stream of prophetic utterance; the first part having been set forth in the earlier years of Zechariah’s activity, even before the completion of the Temple; the latter on the contrary having been delayed for several, possibly many years, as there is no internal indication in either its structure or its substance, that it was called forth by any particular juncture of circumstances in the condition of the people. The analogy of the Book of Isaiah suggests the opinion that the Prophet, having in the former part of his book communicated the revelations which bore immediately upon the duties and interest of his countrymen at the time, in the latter took a wider range, and set forth the future destiny of the Church in its lights and shades, in such a form as to be of equal benefit at all times and to all classes.
This is determined by the several dates to consist of three distinct prophetic utterances.
I. Chap. i. 1-6. These verses contain an introduction in the form of a solemn admonition enforced by an appeal to the experience of the fathers, who not only felt but acknowledged that Jehovah’s threatenings were not a vain thing but a formidable reality. The date is the eighth month of the second year of Darius, B. C. 515.
II. Chaps. i. 7-vi. 15. Eight Night-visions followed by an Appendix, namely :
1. Man among Myrtles, or Successful Intercession for Covenant People (ch. 1:7-17).
2. Four Horns & Four Smiths, or Adequate Defender against every Assailant (ch. 1:18-21).
3. Man with Measuring Line, or Enlargement & Security of People of God (ch. 2).
4. Joshua High Priest before Angel of Jehovah, or Forgiveness of Sin & Coming of the Branch (ch. 3).
5. Candlestick & two Olive Trees, or Positive Communication of God’s Spirit & Grace (ch. 4).
6. Flying Roll, or Destroying Curse upon all Sinners (ch. 5:1-4).
7. Woman in Ephah, or Permanent Exile of Wicked (ch. 5:5-11).
8. Four Chariots, or Jehovah’s Judgments upon Heathen (ch. 6:1-8).
Appendix. This Recites a Symbolical Action, the Crowning of Joshua, the High-priest, or the Functions of the Priest-King Whose name is Branch. The date of the whole series is the twenty-fourth (24th) day of the eleventh (11th) month of the second (2nd) year of Darius, B.C. 515.
III. Chaps. 7 & 8. An answer to the inquiry of the People whether they should continue to observe the annual fasts which commemorated special calamities in their former experience. The Prophet first (ch. 7) rebukes their formalism and recounts the sins and sorrows of their fathers; and then (ch. 8) promises such blessings as will change their fasts into festivals and attract even the heathen to seek their fellowship. The prophecy was uttered in the fourth () day of the ninth (9th) month of the fourth (4th) year of Darius, B.C. 517, which is the last date mentioned in the book.
This, as has been said, bears no date, and may have been, and probably was, delivered long after what is contained in the preceding chapters. It is divided into two oracles by the titles which head respectively chaps. 9 and 12. The general theme is the Future Destiny of the Covenant People.
I. First Burden (chaps. 9-11).
This seems to outline the course of God’s providence toward His people as far as the time of our Saviour.
1. Judgment upon Land of Hadrach (9:1-8), or Syrian Conquests of Alexander the Great.
2. Zion’s King of Peace (9:9,10). Plainly Messianic.
3. Victory over Sons of Javan (9:11-17), or the triumphs of Maccabees.
4. Further Blessings of Covenant People (ch. 10). Their gradual increase in means & numbers under native rulers.
5. Rejection of Good Shepherd (ch. 11). A striking delineation of our Lord’s treatment by His own People.
II. Second Burden (chaps. 12-14).
This carries forward the outlook upon the future even to the time of the end.
1. Israel’s Victory over Trials (12:1-9), or Triumph of Early Church over Persecuting Foes.
2. Repentance & Conversion (12:10; 13:1), or Power of Christ’s Death to Awaken & Renew.
3. Fruits of Penitence (13:2-6), as shown in Abolition of False Worship & False Prophecy which Stand for all Forms of Sin.
4. Sword against Shepherd & his Flock (13:7-9), or Christ is smitten by His Father, & His People Suffer also.
5. Final Conflict & Triumph of God’s Kingdom (ch. 14), or a General Survey of this Checkered Course from Beginning to End.
Part First. Utterances for Present Time. Chapters 1-8.
I. Introduction. Chapter 1:1-6.
A. Call to Repentance (vers. 1-3).
B. Enforced by Appeal to Experience of their Fathers (vers. 4-6).
II. Night Visions. Chapters 1:7-6:15.
` Vision I. Man among Myrtles. Chapter 1:7-17.
A. Symbolical Representation of Tranquil Condition of Heathen World & Consequent Need of Divine Interference (vers. 7-11).
B. Intercession for Suffering & Desolate Judaea (vers. 12,13).
C. Assurances of Relief & Restoration (vers. 14-17).
Vision II. Four Horns & Four Smiths. Chapter 1:18-21.
A. Four Horns which scattered People of God (vers. 18,19).
B. Four Smiths which Cast Down these Horns (vers. 20,21).
Vision III. Man with a Measuring Line. Chapter 2.
A. Man with a Measuring Line, & its Meaning (vers. 1-5).
B. Further Promises (vers. 6-13).
Vision IV. Joshua High Priest before Angel of Jehovah. Chapter 3:1-10.
A. Joshua Accused by Satan, but Forgiven (vers. 1-5).
B. Promise of Protection to High Priest, & also of Coming of Branch & its Blessed Results (vers. 6-10).
Vision V. Candlestick with Two Olive Trees. Chapter 4.
A. Golden Candelabrum & its Two Oil Feeders (vers. 1-5).
B. Divine Grace the Source of Strength & Success (vers. 6-10).
C. Means by which that Grace is obtained (vers. 11-14).
Vision VI. Flying Roll. Chapter 5:1-4.
A. Large Roll Flying Over Land (vers. 1,2).
B. It Contains & Executes a Destructive Curse (vers. 3, 4).
Vision VII. Woman in Ephah. Chapter 5:5-11.
A. Prophet Sees Ephah Going Forth (vers. 5,6 ).
B. Woman Thrust Down in it & Shut in (vers. 7,8 ).
C. Ephah Carried Away to Shinar (vers. 9-11).
Vision VIII. Four Chariots . Chapter 6:1-8.
A. Four Chariots Drawn by Horses of Different Colors (vers. 1-4).
B. Explanation of their Meaning (vers. 5-8).
Crown upon Joshua’s Head. Chapter 6:9-15.
A. Symbolic Action; Crowns on Joshua (vers. 9-11).
B. Its Meaning; Branch Priest & King (vers. 12-15).
III. Answer to Question Concerning Fast. Chapters 7 & 8.
1. Question Proposed: Prophets Rebuke. Chapter 7.
A. Question (vers. 1-4). B. Present Rebuke (vers. 5-7). C. Appeal to Past (vers. 8-14).
2. Blessings of Obedience. Question Answered. Chapter 8.
A. General Promises & Precepts (vers. 1-17).
B. Fasts shall become Festivals, & whole Nations be Added to Jews (vers. 18-23). Chapter 8.
Part Second. Future Destiny of Covenant People. Chapters 9-14.
A. First Burden. Chapters 9-11.
1. Judgment upon Land of Hadrach (ch. 9, vers. 1-8).
2. Zion’s King of Peace (vers. 9,10).
3. Victory over Sons of Javan (vers. 11-17).
4. Further Blessings of God’s People (ch. 10).
5. Israel’s Rejection of Good Shepherd (ch. 11)
1. Judgment upon Land of Hadrach. Chapter 9:1-8.
A. Destructive Visitation befalls Hadrach & Damascus (ver. 1).
B. It Destroys also Hamath, Tyre, & Sidon (vers. 2-4).
C. Philistine Cities Suffer Likewise, but a Remnant is Saved (vers. 5-7)
D. Covenant People are Protected from all Harm (ver. 8).
2. Zion’s King of Peace. Chapter 9:9,10.
A. Character of King (ver. 9).
B. Nature & Extent of His Kingdom (ver. 10).
3. Victory over Sons of Javan . Chapter 9:11-17.
A. Deliverance promised (vers. 11,12).
B. Name of the Foe (ver. 13).
C. Jehovah fights for His People (vers. 14,15).
D. Salvation (ver. 16).
E. General Prosperity (ver 17).
4. Further Blessings of God’s People . Chapter 10.
A. God sends Blessing, but the Idols Sorrow (vers. 1,2).
B. Blessings upon Native Rulers (vers. 3-5)
C. Former Mercies restored to Judah & Ephraim (vers. 6-9).
D. Messianic Mercies (vers. 10-12).
5. Israel’s Rejection of Good Shepherd. Chapter 11.
A. Poetical Introduction (vers. 1-3).
B. Flock of Slaughter (vers. 4-6).
C. Prophet Tries to be Their Shepherd (vers. 7,8).
D. He Fails (vers. 9-11).
E. He is contemptuously Rejected (vers. 12,13).
F. Result (ver. 14).
G. Worthless Shepherd Takes Charge (vers. 15,16).
H. Thus Shepherd Punished (ver. 17).
B. Second Burden. Chapters 12-14.
1. Israel’s Conflict & Victory. Chapter 12:1-9.
A. Jehovah’s Continuous Agency in Nature (ver. 1).
B. Jerusalem Ruinous to Her Besiegers (vers. 2-4)
C. Energy of Chiefs of Judah (vers. 5-7).
D. Promise of growing Strength to Feeble (ver. 8).
E. Final Result (ver. 9).
2. Rentance & Conversion. Chapters 12:10.-13:1.
A. Plentiful Effusion of Spirit Causes Men to Look upon Jehovah They have Pierced, & Mourn bitterly (ver. 10).
B. Greatness of Mourning (ver. 11).
C. Each Family Mourns Separately (vers. 12-14).
D. Provision for Penitents (ch. xiii. 13:1).
3. Fruits of Penitence. Chapter 13:2-6.
A. Extinction of Idols and False Prophets (ver. 2).
B. The Latter to be slain by their own Par.ents (ver. 3).
C. Other such Prophets shall be Ashamed of their Calling (ver. 4).
D. They Deny it When Charged upon Them (vers. 5, 6.)
4. Sword Awaking Against Shepherd & Flock. Chapter 13:7-9.
A. Shepherd is smitten at Jehovah’s Command, & Sheep scattered, yet not hopelessly (ver. 7).
B. Excision of Two Thirds of the Flock (ver. 8).
C. Further Refinement by Sorrow with Joyful Issue (ver. 9).
5. Final INAL Conflict & Triumph of God’s Kingdom. Chapter 14.
A. A great and at first successful Assault is made upon the Holy City (vers. 1,2).
B. Then God miraculously interposes, grants Escape, and after a mingled Condition of Things gives a final and glorious Deliverance (vers. 3-7).
C. A Streum of Salvation pours over the whole Land (vers. 8).
D. Enemies are chastised (vers. 12-15).
E. Remnant of Them Turn to the Lord (vers. 16-19).
F. Jerusalem becomes Thoroughly Holy (vers. 20,21).
§ 1. The Prophet Malachi.
§ 2. Analysis of the Book. Most Commentators, following Jahn in his Hebrew Bible, and Introduction to the Old Testament, divide the prophecy into six sections.
1. Chap. 1:1-6. Introduction. Expostulation of Jehovah with Israel. He proves His Distinguishing Love by Comparing Their Condition with that of Edom, & thus Refutes Their Complaint, that He has Not Loved Them.
2. Chaps. 1:6-10. Rebuke of the Priests, for Their Offering Unlawful Sacrifices, & thus Profaning God’s Ordinances, for Their Perversion of Law. Prophecy of Pure & Spiritual Worship of Jehovah among Heathen.
3. Chap. 2:10-16. Rebuke of Unfaithfulness in Marriage Relation by Marrying Heather Wives, & divorcing Israelitish Wives.
4. Sending of Jehovah’s Messenger to Prepare Way for Unexpected Coming of Messiah, to Judge, but Not Utterly to Destroy Israel (chaps. 2:17-3:7).
5. Rebuke of People for Withholding Legal Tithes & Offerings, & thus Defrauding God (chap. 3:7-18).
6. Prediction of Destiny of Righteous & Wicked. Exhortation to Observe Law. Another Elijah to come. Threatenings, if they do not repent & flee from Wrath to Come, of Curse of Utter Destruction upon Land. (chap. 4).
SECTION I. CHAPTER I. 1-5. God’s peculiar Love to Israel above Edom.
SECTION II. CHAPTERS I. 6-II. 10. Rebuke of the Priests.
SECTION III. Against unlawful Divorce, and Marriages with Heathen Wives. CHAPTER II. 10–16.
SECTION IV. The sending of Jehovah’s Messenger. The coming of the Angel of the Covenant to
judge, but not to utterly destroy Israel (Ch. ii. 17-iii. 7).
SECTION V. The People are rebuked for withholding the legal Tithes and Offerings. CHAPTER III. 7-12.
SECTION VI. The Coming of a Day of Judgment which will vindicate the Ways of God, and reward the Righteous and punish the Wicked. Elijah the Prophet. CHAPTERS III. 13-IV. 6. 13