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that people, by checking those crimes which were pregnant with ruin.1
VII. ANTIQUITY AND SUCCESSION OF THE PROPHETS. Prophecy is one of the most striking proofs of the true religion; and as religion has existed in every age, prophecy equally subsisted from the commencement of the world. The Jews2 reckon forty-eight prophets, and seven prophetesses; Clement of Alexandria3 enumerates thirty-five prophets who flourished subsequently to Moses; and Epiphanius, sixty-three prophets and twelve prophetesses. Witsius, and some other modern critics, divide the series of prophets into three periods, during which God at sundry times and in divers manners spake unto the fathers of the Jewish nation (Heb. i. 1.); viz. 1. Prophets who flourished before the giving of the Law of Moses;-2. Prophets who flourished under the Law; and, 3. Prophets who flourished under the period comprised in the New Testament.
I. Prophets who flourished before the giving of the Law of
II. Prophets who flourished under the Law, of whom there are
1. Prophets in the Desert :-Moses, Aaron, the prophetess
3. Prophets during the Babylonish Captivity:-Ezekiel and Daniel.
4. Prophets after the return of the Jews from the Captivity: -Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who was the last of the prophets as it respects the prophetic office, but not as respects the gift of prophecy, if we may credit what Josephus relates of the high-priest Jaddus or Jaddua, and the relation of the author of the second book of Maccabees concerning Judas Maccabæus. (2 Mact. xv. 12.) III. Prophets who flourished under the Period comprised in the New Testament:-Zacharias, Simeon, and John the Baptist, until Christ; and after his ascension, Agabus (Acts xi. 28. xxi. 11.), the apostles Paul, and John the author of the Apocalypse, besides other prophets who are mentioned in 1 Cor. xii. 28. xiv. 29–32. Eph. ii. 20. iii. 5. and iv. 11., of whom it is not necessary to treat in this part of the present volume, which is appropriated to the consideration of the writings of those prophets who flourished under the Old Testament dispensation, which have been transmitted to us.4
VIII. The early prophets committed nothing to writing their predictions being only, or chiefly, of a temporary
nature, are inserted in the historical books, together with their fulfilment. Such appears to have been the case with Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, and others; but those who were gifted with the spirit of prophecy in its most exalted sense, and were commissioned to utter predictions, the accomplishment of which was as yet far distant, were directed to write them, or cause them to be written, in a book. (Compare Isa. viii. 1. xxx. 8. Jer. xxx. 2. xxxvi. 2. 28. Ezek. xliii. 11. Hab. ii. 2, &c.) The predictions, thus committed to writing, were carefully preserved, under a conviction that they contained important truths, thereafter to be more fully revealed, which were to receive their accomplishment at the appointed periods. It was also the office of the prophets to commit to writing the history of the Jews; and it is on this account that, in the Jewish classification of the books of the Old Testament, we find several historical writings arranged among the prophets. Throughout their prophetic and historical books, the utmost plainness and sincerity prevail. They record the idolatries of the nation, and foretell the judgments of God which were to befall the Jews in consequence of their forsaking his worship and service; and they have transmitted a relation of the crimes and misconduct of their best princes. David, Solomon, and others, who were types of the Messiah, and who expected that he would descend from their race, regarding the glories of their several reigns as presages of His,-are described not only without flattery, but also without any reserve or extenuation. They write like men who had no regard to any thing but truth and the glory of God.
The manner in which the prophets announced their predictions varied according to circumstances. Sometimes they uttered them aloud in a public place; and it is in allusion to this practice that Isaiah is commanded to cry aloud, spare not, lift up his voice like a trumpet, and show the people of God their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Isa. Iviii. 1.) Sometimes their predictions were affixed to the gates of the temple, where they might be generally read (Jer. vii. 2.); but, upon important occasions, when it was necessary to rouse the fears of a disobedient people, and to recall them to repentance, the prophets, as objects of universal attention, appear to have walked about publicly in sackcloth, and with every external mark of humiliation and sorrow. They then adopted extraordinary modes of expressing their convictions of impending wrath, and endeavoured to awaken the apprehensions of their countrymen, by the most striking illustrations of threatened punishment. Thus Jeremiah made bonds and yokes, and put them on his neck (Jer. xxvii.), strongly to intimate the subjection that God would bring on the nations whom Nebuchadnezzar should subdue. Isaiah likewise walked naked, that is, without the rough garment of the prophet, and barefoot (Isa. xx.), as a sign of the distress that awaited the Egyptians. So, Jeremiah broke the potter's vessel (xix.); and Ezekiel publicly removed his household goods from the city, more forcibly to represent, by these actions, some correspondent calamities ready to fall on nations obnoxious to God's wrath; this mode of expressing important circumstances by action being customary and familiar among all eastern nations."7
Sometimes the prophets were commanded to seal and shut up their prophecies, that the originals might be preserved until they were accomplished, and then compared with the event. (Isa. viii. 16. Jer. xxxii. 14. Dan. viii. 26. and xii. 4.) For, when the prophecies were not to be fulfilled till after many years, and in some cases not till after several ages, it was requisite that the original writings should be kept with the utmost care; but when the time was so near at hand, that the prophecies must be fresh in every person's recollection, or that the originals could not be suspected or supposed to be lost, the same care was not required. (Rev. xxii. 10.) It seems to have been customary for the prophets to deposit their writings in the tabernacle, or lay them up before the Lord. (1 Sam. x. 25.) And there is a tradition, that all the canonical books, as well as the law, were put into the side of the ark.
51 Chron. xxix. 29. 2 Chron. xii. 15. xiii. 22. xx. 34. xxvi. 22. xxxii. 32. In addition to the information thus communicated in the sacred volume, we are informed by Josephus, that, from the death of Moses until the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, the prophets who were after Moses committed
to writing the transactions of their own times. Josephus cont. Apion. lib. i. c. 8.
6 Ezek. xii. 7. compared with 2 Kings xxv. 4. 5., where the accomplishment of this typical prophecy is related. Vide also Ezek. xxxvii. 16-20. Bp. Gray's Key, pp. 333-335.
Josephus confirms the statement of the sacred historian. Ant. Jud. lib. iv. c. 4. § 6.
Epiphanius, de Ponderibus et Mensuris, c. 4. Damascenus de Fide Orthodoxa, lib. iv. c. 17.
It is certain that the writings of the ancient prophets were carefully preserved during the captivity, and they were frequently referred to, and cited by the later prophets. Thus, the prophecy of Micah is quoted in Jer. xxvi. 18. a short time before the captivity; and, under it, the prophecy of Jeremiah is cited in Dan. ix. 2., and the prophets, generally, in ix. 6. Zechariah not only quotes the former prophets (i. 4.), but supposes their writings to be well known to the people. (vii. 7.) The prophet Amos is cited in the apocryphal book of Tobit (ii. 6.), as Jonah and the prophets in general are in xiv. 4, 5. 8. It is evident that Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Zechariah, and the other prophets, who flourished during the captivity, carefully preserved the writings of their inspired predecessors; for they very frequently cited and appealed to them, and expected deliverance from their captivity by the accomplishment of their predictions.
Although some parts of the writings of the prophets are clearly in prose, instances of which occur in the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, and Daniel, yet the other books, constituting by far the larger portion of the prophetic writings, are classed by Bishop Lowth among the poetical productions of the Jews; and (with the exception of certain passages in Isaiah, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel, which appear to constitute complete poems of different kinds, odes as well as elegies) form a particular species of poesy, which he distinguishes by the appellation of PROPHETIC. On the nature of which see Vol. I. Part II. Chap. II. § VI. 1.; and for some Observations on the Interpretation and Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies, see Part II. Chap. IV. of the same volume.
IX. The prophetical books of the Old Testament are sixteen in number (the Lamentations of Jeremiah being usually considered as an appendix to his predictions); and in all modern editions of the Bible they are usually divided into two classes, viz. 1. The Greater Prophets, comprising the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; who were thus designated from the size of their books, not because they possessed greater authority than the others.'. 2. The Minor Prophets, comprising the writings of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. These books were anciently written in one volume by the Jews, lest any of them should be lost, some of their writings being very short. The order, in which the books of the minor prophets are placed, is not the same in the Alexandrian or Septuagint version as in the Hebrew. According to the latter, they stand as in our translation; but in the Greek, the series is altered to the following arrangement :-Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. But this change is of no consequence, since neither in the original, nor in the Septuagint, are they placed with exact regard to the time when their sacred authors respectively flourished.
Moab, and Ammon. These memorials of events are the more valuable, as very few of them are noticed in the sacred history, and profane history is almost totally wanting for the periods which they comprise. The writings of the minor prophets, therefore, may be regarded as a kind of supplement for the history of their own times and the age immediately following.2
Much of the obscurity, which hangs over the prophetic writings, may be removed by perusing them in the order of time in which they were probably written. Different schemes of arrangement have been proposed by various biblical critics. Van Til, whose order was adopted by Professor Franck, divides them into the four following periods; viz. I. Prophets who delivered their Predictions during the Continuance of the Jewish Polity.
1. In JUDAH and ISRAEL, under Uzziah,-Hosea, Amos,
2. Prophets, who delivered predictions against OTHER NA-
Prophets who delivered their Predictions between the carrying of the Israelites into Captivity by the Assyrians, and the first Expedition of Nebuchadnezzar.
1. In JUDAH, under Hezekiah, Hosea and Isaiah (xxiv. lvi.) ; -under Manasseh, Joel and Habakkuk;-under Josiah, Zephaniah and Jeremiah.
2. Prophets who delivered predictions against OTHER NATIONS:-against Nineveh under Hezekiah, Nahum ;against Edom, Obadiah ;-against Arabia, Isaiah (xxi.), and Tyre. (xxxiii.)
Prophets during the Babylonish Captivity who delivered
1. Concerning THE JEWS, in Judæa, Jeremiah; in Babylon, Daniel; in Chaldæa, Ezekiel; in Egypt, Jeremiah.
2. Against the ENEMIES OF THE JEWS, viz. against Babylon, Jeremiah (1. li.); Egypt and Ethiopia, Jeremiah (xlvi.); and Ezekiel (xxvi.-xxviii.) ;-Moab, Jeremiah (xlviii.), and Ammon (xlix.) ;-Moab, Ammon, Edom, and the Philistines, Ezekiel. (xxv.)
Prophets who delivered Predictions in Judæa after the Captivity.
Under Darius, Zechariah and Haggai;—afterwards, Malachi.3 Although the preceding arrangement has its advantages as exhibiting the order of the prophets, and the kingdoms or nations concerning whom they prophesied, yet it cannot be conveniently adopted for the purpose of analyzing the The writings of the twelve minor prophets are particularly writings of each prophet. The annexed table of Bishop valuable, not only because they have preserved a great num- Gray commodiously exhibits the prophets in their supposed ber of predictions relating to the advent, life, death, and re-order of time according to the tables of Archbishop New surrection of the Messiah, the calling of the Gentiles, the come and Mr. Blair, with a few variations; and though the rejection of the Jews, the ruin of Jerusalem, and the abro- precise time, in which some of them delivered their predicgation of the ceremonies of the Mosaic law; but especially tions, cannot, perhaps, be traced in every instance, yet it is they have recorded numerous events, concerning the history hoped that this table will be found sufficiently correct for of the kingdoms of Judah, Israel, Babylon, Idumæa, Egypt, ascertaining the chronology of their several prophecies.
1 Qui propterea dicuntur Minores, quia sermones eorum sunt breves, in eorum comparatione qui Majores ideo vocantur, quia prolixa volumina condiderunt. Augustin. de Civ. Dei, lib. xviii. c. 29.
Calmet, Dissertations, tom. ii. pp. 372-374.
Franckii Introductio ad Lectionem Prophetarum, pp. 39-42.
According to this table, the times when the prophets flourished may be referred to three periods, viz. 1. Before the Babylonian captivity;-2. Near to and during that event; -and, 3. After the return of the Jews from Babylon. And if, in these three periods, we parallel the prophetical writings with the historical books written during the same times, they will materially illustrate each other. The second volume of Mr. Townsend's Harmony of the Old Testament will be found of considerable service in studying the writings of the prophets.
For a sketch of the profane history of the East, from the time of Solomon to the Babylonian captivity, illustrative of the Prophetic Writings, see the articles Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Media, and Persia, in the Historical and Geographical Index in this volume.
son of Amittai, who was a native of Gath-Hepher in the tribe of Zabulon, which formed part of the kingdom of Israel, and afterwards of Galilee. (Jon. i. 1. with Josh. xix. 13. and 2 Kings xiv. 25.) He is supposed to have prophesied to the ten tribes according to Bishop Lloyd, towards the close of Jehu's reign, or in the beginning of Jehoahaz's reign; though Witsius, Blair, and Bishop Newcome, Jahn, and others, with greater probability, place him under Jeroboam II. about forty years later. With the exception of his sublime ode in the second chapter, the book of Jonah is a simple narrative.
II. It is very probable, that, at the time Jonah promised the restoring and enlarging of the coasts of Israel in the days of Jeroboam II. (2 Kings xiv. 25.), when both the king and people were exceedingly wicked, he also invited them to repentance and reformation. But the Israelites still continuing impenitent and obdurate, God took occasion to send him to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, to denounce the impending divine judgments against its abandoned inhabitants. Jonah, declining the commission, was cast into the sea from the vessel in which he was sailing to Tarshish, and was swallowed by a large fish; not, says Irenæus,2 that he might be swallowed up, but that, by his miraculous deliverance (preparing Jonah to preach more dutifully, and the Ninevites to hear more effectually), the people of Israel might be provoked to repent by the repentance of Nineveh.3 The time of Jonah's continuance in the belly of the fish was a type of our Lord's continuance in the grave. (Luke xi. 30.) The fame of the prophet's miraculous preservation was se widely propagated as to reach even Greece: whence, as Grotius, Huet, Bochart, and other learned men have remarked, the story was derived of Hercules having escaped alive out of the fish's belly.4
III. The SCOPE of this book is to show, by the very striking example of the Ninevites, the divine forbearance and long-suffering towards sinners, who were spared on their sincere repentance. From the conduct of the Ninevites, Jesus Christ takes occasion to reprove the perfidiousness of the Jews. (Matt. xii. 41.) The evidence offered by Jonah was sufficient to convince and lead the former to repentance; while the Jews, who had the greater evidence of miracles, and the more convincing evidence of our Saviour's doctrine, continued obstinately impenitent. Some critics have imagined that the prophecy of Jonah is a parabolic history; but from the manner in which the sacred historians and Jesus Christ speak of him (2 Kings xiv. 25. Matt. xii. 39. 41. xvi. 4. and Luke xi. 29.) it is evident that this book is a true narrative of a real person, and that Jonah was a prophet of considerable eminence.5
IV. The book of Jonah consists of two parts; viz. PART I. His first mission to Nineveh, and his attempt to flee to Tarshish, and its frustration, together with his delivery from the stomach of the great fish which had swallowed him. (ch. i. ii.)
PART II. His second mission, and its happy result to the Ninevites, who, in consequence of the prophet's preaching, repented in dust and ashes (iii.); and the discontent of Jonah, who, dreading lest his veracity as a prophet should be questioned in consequence of God's merciful change of purpose, repined at the sparing of the Ninevites whose destruction he seems to have expected. (iv.) No reproof can be more gentle than that given by God to the murmuring prophet (10, 11.), or present a more endearing picture of Him" whose tender mercies are over all his works."
2. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET AMOS.
I. Author.-II. Occasion of his prophecy.-III. Its scope.IV. Synopsis of its contents.—V. Observations on its style. BEFORE CHRIST, 810-785.
I. AMOS is the third of the minor prophets, according to the order adopted in our modern Bibles: he is supposed to have been a native of Tekoah, a small town in the kingdom of Judah, situate about four leagues to the south of Jerusa lem. There is, however, no proof of his being a native of this place, except his retiring thither when driven from Bethel
2 Adversus Hæres. lib. iii. c. 22.
3 Roberts's Clavis Bibliorum, p. 667.
See Grotius de Veritate, lib. i. c. 16. in notis. Huet, Demonstr. Evan
et seq. Pfeiffer in Difficiliora Loca Scripturæ, Centuria 4. Locus lxxxvi. (Opp. tom. i. pp. 447, 448.)
1 Professor Jahn and Dr. Ackermann divide the prophets into four pe-gelica, prop. iv. vol. i. p. 433. 8vo. edit. Bocharti Opera, tom. iii. p. 742. riods; viz. 1. Those who prophesied under Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; 2. Prophets whose age has not been recorded; 3. Prophets, from the age of Josiah to the end of the captivity; and, 4. Prophets who lived after the captivity. The arrangement above given is preferably adopted, as being more simple and comprehensive.
The reality of the history and prophecy of Jonah is fully proved against the modern neologians by Alber, Institutiones Hermeneutica, Vet. Test. tom. iii. pp. 399-407.
by Amaziah, the high-priest of Bethel. (Amos vii. 10. 13.)| Calmet thinks he was born in the territories of Israel. We have more certain information of his rank and condition in life; for he himself tells us that he was "no prophet, neither a prophet's son:" in other words, that he was not educated in the schools of the prophets, but was called to the prophetic office from being a herdsman and a gatherer (or cultivator) of sycamore fruit. That he prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah king of Judah, and of Jeroboam II. son of Joash, we are not only informed from the first verse of his predictions, but we also have internal evidence of it from the argument or subject-matter of his book. For the prophet describes the state of the kingdom of Israel, particularly in chap. vi. 12-14., to be precisely such as is recorded in 2 Kings xiv. 23. et seq. We further learn from Amos i. 1., that he began to prophesy in the second year before the earthquake, in the reign of Uzziah; which is, by Josephus and most commentators, referred to that prince's usurpation of the sacerdotal office when he attempted to offer incense. Consequently Amos was contemporary with Hosea (though he is supposed not to have lived so long as the last-mentioned prophet), with Jonah, and probably also with Joel.
II. The OCCASION on which Amos delivered his predictions, was the oppression of the Jews and Israelites by the neighbouring nations, and the state of the two kingdoms under Uzziah and Jeroboam II. (Amos i. compared with 2 Kings xiv. 25-27. and 2 Chron. xxvi. 6—15.) But as the inhabitants of those kingdoms, especially the Israelites, abandoned themselves to idolatry, effeminacy, avarice, and cruelty to the poor, contrary to the divine command, the prophet takes occasion thence to reprove them with the utmost severity for their wickedness.
III. The SCOPE of the book is to certify to the twelve tribes the destruction of the neighbouring nations; to alarm those who "were at large in Zion," living in a state of carnal security, by the denunciation of imminent punishment, to lead them to repentance; and to cheer those who were truly penitent with the promise of deliverance from future captivity, and of the greater prosperity of the Messiah's kingdom, of which we have a particular prediction in ch. ix. 11.
IV. The book of Amos contains nine chapters or discourses. of which Calmet thinks that the seventh is first in order of time: it may be divided into three parts; viz. PART I. The Judgments of God denounced against the neighbouring Gentile Nations: as the Syrians (ch. i. 1-5.), which see fulfilled in 2 Kings xvi. 9.; the Philistines (i. 6—8.), recorded as accomplished in 2 Kings xviii. 8. Jer. xlvii. 1. 5. and 2 Chron. xxvi. 6.; the Tyrians (i. 9, 10.); the Edomites (i. 11, 12. compared with Jer. xxv. 9. 21. xxvii. 3. 6. and 1 Macc. v. 3.); the Ammonites (13-15.); and the Moabites. (ii. 1-3.) PART II. The divine Judgments denounced against Judah and Israel (ii. 4. ix. 1—10.); and herein we have,
SECT. 1. The divine judgments against Judah (ii. 4, 5.) which were literally executed about two hundred years afterwards. SECT. 2. Against Israel, to whom the prophet's mission was chiefly directed, and to whom we have four distinct sermons delivered by him; viz.
and re-establishment in their own land, all of which were prophetic of the blessings to be bestowed under the reign of the Messiah. (ix. 13-15.)
In order to illustrate the supernatural character of the predictions contained in this book, they ought to be compared with the history of the times; from which it appears, that, when they were made, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were in a very flourishing condition. See 2 Kings xiv. 1-17. xvi. 1-7. 2 Chron. xxv. xxvi.; also 2 Kings xiii. 1-9. 23. 10-20. 25. 2 Chron. xxv. 17-24. and 2 Kings xiv. 23-28.2
V. Jerome calls Amos "rude in speech, but not in knowledge," applying to him what St. Paul modestly professes of himself. (2 Cor. xi. 6.)
Calmet and many others have followed the authority of Jerome, in speaking of this prophet as if he were indeed quite rude, ineloquent, and destitute of all the embellishments of composition. The matter, however, as Bishop Lowth has remarked, is far otherwise :-"Let any person who has candour and perspicuity enough to judge, not from the man, but from his writings, open the volume of his predictions, and he will, I think, agree that our shepherd is not a whit behind the very chief of the prophets. (2 Cor. xi. 5.) He will agree, that as, in sublimity and magnificence, he is almost equal to the greatest, so, in splendour of diction, and elegance of expression, he is scarcely inferior to any. The same celestial spirit, indeed, actuated Isaiah and Daniel in the court, and Amos in the sheepfolds: constantly selecting such interpreters of the divine will as were best adapted to the occasion, and sometimes from the mouth of babes and suck lings perfecting praise,'-constantly employing the natural eloquence of some, and occasionally making others elo quent." Many of the most elegant images employed by Amos are drawn from objects in rural life, with which he was, from his avocations, most intimately conversant.
§ 3. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET HOSEA. Author and date.-II. Occasion and scope of the prophecy.-III. Synopsis of its contents.-IV. Observations on its style.
BEFORE CHRIST, 810-725.
I. CONCERNING the family of Hosea, we have no certain information, except what is furnished to us by the first verse of his prophecy, which states that he was the son of Beeri, whom some Jewish commentators confound with Beerah, a prince of the Reubenites, who was carried into captivity with the ten tribes by Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria. He prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz, and in the third year of Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam II. king of Israel; and it is most probable that he was an Israelite, and lived in the kingdom of Samaria or of the ten tribes, as his predictions are chiefly directed against their wickedness and idolatry. But, with the severest denunciations of vengeance, he blends promises of mercy; and the transitions from the one to the other are frequently sudden and unexpected. Rosenmiller and Jahn, after Calmet, are of opinion that the title of this book is a subsequent addition, and that Hosea did not prophesy longer than from forty to sixty years, and that he died, or at least wrote his predictions, before the year 725 before DISCOURSE III. A reproof of the Israelites for their luxury and oppres- the Christian æra. His writings unquestionably were, DISCOURSE IV. A lamentation over the house of Israel, with an earnest exhortation to them to repent, and to seek the Lord; and to abandon their idolatry, luxurious ease, and sinful alliances with their idolatrous neighbours. (v. vi.) In ch. v. 6. the carrying of the Israelites into captivity, beyond Damascus into Assyria, is explicitly announced: see its fulfilment in 2 Kings xv. 29. and xvii. 5-23. The certainty, nearness, and severity of the judgments thus denounced are confirmed by several prophetic visions, contained in chapters vii. viii.1 and ix. 1-10.
DISCOURSE I. A general reproof and aggravation of their various sins
cular enumeration of the several causes. (iii.)
PART III. Consolatory or Evangelical Promises describing the Restoration of the Church by the Messiah, first, under the type of raising up the fallen tabernacle of David (ix. 11, blessings; viz. great abundance, return from captivity, 12.); and, secondly, announcing magnificent temporal 1 An eminent commentator is of opinion that the prophet Amos in viii. 9, 10. foretells that, during their solemn festivals, the sun should be dark ened by an eclipse, which in those days was accounted ominous, and should turn their joy into mourning. According to Archbishop Usher (A. M. 3213.), about eleven years after Amos prophesied, there were two great eclipses of the sun, one at the feast of tabernacles, the other at the time of the passover. This prophecy, therefore, may be considered as one of those numerous predictions which we have already shown have a dou ble meaning, and apply to more than one event. See Lowth's Commentary on the Prophets, p. 453. 4th edit.
originally, in a metrical form, although that arrangement is now, perhaps, irrecoverably lost.
II. The ten tribes (whom this prophet often collectively terms Ephraim, Israel, and Samaria) having revolted from Rehoboam the son of Solomon to Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who set up the two idol calves at Dan and Bethel, consequently deprived themselves of the pure worship of Jehovah Jeroboam II. the son of Joash was equally wicked with the at Jerusalem, and speedily fell into the grossest idolatry." first sovereign of that name; and the Israelites were but too of Jeroboam II. were. (Compare 2 Kings xiv. 25-27.) In prone to follow the bad examples of their wicked kings, especially if their affairs were prosperous, as we learn those his days, therefore, Jehovah raised up the prophet Hosea, to convince them of their apostacy, and recover them to the worship of the true God. Bishop Horsley, however, is of opinion that Hosea's principal subject is that, which is the
2 Professor Turner's translation of Jahn's Introduction, p. 325.
Bishop Lowth's Lectures, vol. ii. lect. xxi. p. 98.
principal subject of all the prophets, viz. "the guilt of the Jewish nation in general, their disobedient refractory spirit, the heavy judgments that awaited them, their final conversion to God, their re-establishment in the land of promise, and their restoration to God's favour, and to a condition of the greatest national prosperity, and of high pre-eminence among the nations of the earth, under the immediate protection of the Messiah, in the latter ages of the world. He confines himself more closely to this single subject than any other prophet. He seems, indeed, of all the prophets, if I may so express my conception of his peculiar character, to have been the most of a Jew. Comparatively, he seems to care but little about other people. He wanders not, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, into the collateral history of the surrounding heathen nations. He meddles not, like Daniel, with the revolutions of the great empires of the world. His own country seems to engross his whole attention; her privileges, her crimes, her punishment, her pardon. He predicts, indeed, in the strongest and clearest terms, the ingrafting of the Gentiles into the church of God. But he mentions it only generally: he enters not, like Isaiah, into a minute detail of the progress of the business. Nor does he describe, in any detail, the previous contest with the apostate faction in the latter ages. He makes no explicit mention of the share which the converted Gentiles are to have in the reestablishment of the natural Israel in their ancient seats: subjects which make so striking a part of the prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Haggai, and, occasionally, of the other prophets. He alludes to the calling of our Lord from Egypt: to the resurrection on the third day: he touches, but only in general terms, upon the final overthrow of the Antichristian army in Palestine, by the immediate interposition of Jehovah; and he celebrates, in the loftiest strains of triumph and exultation, the Saviour's final victory over death and hell. But yet, of all the prophets, he certainly enters the least into the detail of the mysteries of redemption. We have nothing in him descriptive of the events of the interval between the two advents of our Lord. Nothing diffuse and circumstantial, upon the great and interesting mysteries of the incarnation and the atonement. His country and his kindred is the subject next his heart. Their crimes excite his indignation; their sufferings interest his pity; their future exaltation is the object on which his imagination fixes with delight. It is a remarkable dispensation of Providence, that clear notices, though in general terms, of the universal redemption, should be found in a writer so strongly possessed with national partialities. This Judaism seems to make the particular character of Hosea as a prophet. Not that the ten tribes are exclusively his subject. His country is indeed his particular and constant subject; but his country generally, in both its branches, not in either taken by itself."i
According to this view of the subject, the general argument of Hosea's prophecy" appears to be the fortunes of the whole Jewish nation in its two great branches; not the particular concerns (and least of all the particular temporal concerns) of either branch exclusively. And to this grand opening the whole sequel of the prophecy corresponds. In setting forth the vices of the people, the picture is chiefly taken, as might naturally be expected, from the manners of the prophet's own times; in part of which the corruption, in either kingdom, was at the greatest height; after the death of Jeroboam, in the kingdom of Israel; in the reign of Ahaz, in the kingdom of Judah. And there is occasionally much allusion, sometimes predictive allusion, to the principal events of the prophet's times. And much more to the events in the kingdom of Israel, than to those in Judah. Perhaps, because the danger being more immediately imminent in the former kingdom, the state of things in that was more alarming, and the occurrences, for that reason, more interesting. Still the history of his own times in detail in either kingdom is not the prophet's subject. It furnishes similes and allusions, but it makes no considerable part, indeed it makes no part at all, of the action (if I may so call it) of the poem. The action lies in events beyond the prophet's times; the commencement, indeed, within them; but the termination, in times yet future; and although we may hope the contrary, for aught we know with certainty, remote. The deposition of Jehu's family, by the murder of Zedekiah, the son and successor of Jeroboam, was the commencement: the termination will be the restoration of the whole Jewish nation under one head, in the latter days, in the great day of Jezräel; and the intermediate parts of the action are the
1 Bishop Horsley's Hosea, Preface, pp. vii. viii.
judgments which were to fall, and accordingly have fallen upon the two distinct kingdoms of Israel and Judah, typified by Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi."2
The SCOPE of this prophet's prediction is, 1. Partly to detect, reprove, and convince the Jewish nation generally, and the Israelites in particular, of their many and heinous sins, especially of their gross idolatry; the corrupt state of the kingdom is also incidentally noticed;-2. Partly to denounce the imminent and utter rejection, final captivity, and destruction of the Israelites by the Assyrians (if the former persisted in their wicked career), notwithstanding all their vain confidence in the assistance to be afforded them by Egypt;-and, 3. Partly to invite them to repentance with promises of mercy, and evangelical predictions of the future restoration of the Israelites and Jews, and their ultimate conversion to Christianity.3
III. The prophecy of Hosea contains fourteen chapters, which may be divided into five sections or discourses, exclusive of the title in ch. i. 1.; viz. DISCOURSE 1. Under the figure of the supposed infidelity of the prophet's wife is represented the spiritual infidelity of the Israelites, a remnant of whom, it is promised, shall be saved (i. 2 -11.), and they are exhorted to forsake idolatry. (ii. 1-11.) Promises are then introduced, on the general conversion of the twelve tribes to Christianity; and the gracious purposes of Jehovah towards the ten tribes, or the kingdom of Israel in particular, are represented under the figure of the prophet taking back his wife on her amendment. (ii. 11-23. iii.) DISCOURSE 2. The prophet, in direct terms, inveighs against the bloodshed and idolatry of the Israelites (iv. 1-14. 17-19.), against which the inhabitants of Judah are exhorted to take warning. (15, 16.) In chap. v. 1-14. the divine judgments are denounced against the priests, the people, and the princes of Israel, to whom are held out promises of pardon in v. 15. which are continued through verses 1-3. of chap. vi. The metaphors used by the prophet on this occasion are remarkably strong and beautiful. The resurrection, the morning, and the refreshing showers, in their season, supply them; in a more immediate sense they denote a speedy and gracious deliverance, but in a remote sense they refer to the resurrection of Christ (compare Hosea vi. 2. with 1 Cor. xv. 4.) and the blessings of the Gospel.
DISCOURSE 3. The prophet's exhortations to repentance proving ineffectual, God complains by him of their obstinate iniquity and idolatry (vi. 4-11. vii. 1-10.), and denounces that Israel will be carried into captivity into Assyria by Sennacherib, notwithstanding their reliance on Egypt for assistance. (vii. 1116. viii.)
DISCOURSE 4. The captivity and dispersion of Israel is further threatened (ix. x.); the Israelites are reproved for their idolatry, yet they shall not be utterly destroyed, and their return to their own country is foretold. (xi.)5 Renewed denunciaDISCOURSE 5. After a terrible denunciation of divine punishtions are made on account of their idolatry. (xii. xiii. 1-8.) ment, intermixed with promises of restoration from captivity (xiii. 9-16.), the prophet exhorts the Israelites to repentance, and furnishes them with a beautiful form of prayer adapted to their situation (xiv. 1-3.); and foretells their reformation from idolatry, together with the subsequent restoration of all the tribes from their dispersed state, and their conversion to the Gospel. (4-9.)
IV. The style of Hosea, Bishop Lowth remarks, exhibits the appearance of very remote antiquity; it is pointed, energetic, and concise. It bears a distinguished mark of poetical composition, in that pristine brevity and condensation which is observable in the sentences, and which later writers have in some measure neglected. This peculiarity has not escaped the observation of Jerome, who remarks that this prophet is
2 Bishop Horsley's Hosea, Preface, p. xxvii. 3 Roberts's Clavis Bibliorum, p. 656.
Bishop Horsley contends at great length, contrary to most interpreters,
the prophet's marriage was a real transaction, and a type of the whole Jewish nation, distinct parts of which were typified by the three children Jezräel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-ammi. See the Preface to his version of Hosea, pp. viii.-xxv. Witsius, however, has shown that the whole was a figurative representation. Miscell. Sacr. lib. i. pp. 90-92. The prediction in Hosea xi. 10, 11., respecting the return of the Israel. ites to their own country, was partly fulfilled in consequence of Cyrus's decree (2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23. Ezra i. 1-4.); but, in its fullest extent, it own land. This is one instance, among many, in which the language of the remains to be accomplished in the future restoration of the Jews to their prophets is adapted to two or more events. We have the authority of an inspired writer to extend this remark to another part of the same chapter. (Compare xi. 1. with Matt. ii. 15.) Smith's Summary View of the Prophets, p. 177.