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The fourth collection, containing chapters xl.-xliv. inclu- | synopsis, which accordingly consists of four parts, and sive, presents us with an account of Jeremiah himself, and thirty-one prophetic discourses :of the other Jews who were left in Judæa by the command of Nebuchadnezzar. The fifty-second chapter was probably added by Ezra' as a preface to the book of Lamentations. It is chiefly taken out of the latter part of the second book of Kings, with additions, which Ezra might supply out of the inspired records, and forms a very useful appendage to the prophecies of Jeremiah, as it illustrates their fulfilment in the destruction of the kingdom, city, and temple, which are the subject of the Lamentations.
III. From the preceding statements it is obvious that the prophecies of Jeremiah are not arranged in the chronological order in which they were originally delivered; the cause of their transposition it is now impossible to ascertain.
Professor Dahler of Strasbourg, in his French version of this prophet, divides the book into fifty-five sections, which he disposes in the following manner; viz.
1. Discourses published during the Reign of Josiah.
8. An Historical Appendix, chap. lii. 1-34.
A somewhat different arrangement, and more simple than the preceding, was proposed by the Rev. Dr. Blayney in his version of the writings of Jeremiah; who has endeavoured, with great judgment, to restore their proper order by transposing the chapters wherever it appeared to be necessary. According to his arrangement, the predictions of Jeremiah are to be placed in the following order; viz.
1. The Prophecies delivered in the Reign of Josiah, containing chapters i.-xii. inclusive.
2. The Prophecies delivered in the Reign of Jehoiakim, comprising chapters xiii.-xx. xxii. xxiii. xxxv. xxxvi. xlv.— xlviii. and xlix. 1-33.
3. The Prophecies delivered in the Reign of Zedekiah, including chapters xxi. xxiv. xxvii.—xxxiv. xxxvii.—xxxix. xlix. 34-39. and 1. li.
4. The Prophecies delivered under the Government of Gedaliah, from the taking of Jerusalem to the retreat of the people into Egypt, and the prophecies of Jeremiah delivered to the Jews in that country; comprehending chapters xl.—xliv. inclusive.
As this arrangement throws much light upon the predictions of Jeremiah, it has been adopted in the following 1 Carpzov ascribes it to Baruch, or some other inspired man. Introd. pars iii. p. 152. VOL. II. 2 M
THE INTRODUCTION to the book contains its title (i. 1-3.), the call of Jeremiah to the prophetical office, and the commission given him by God (4-10.); the purport of which is explained by two symbolical images or visions, that of an almond tree (11.) indicating the nearness, and the vision of a seething-pot typifying the severity, of the divine judgments. The face of the pot being turned from the north denoted that they were to be inflicted by the Babylonians and Chaldæans, whose empire lay to the north of Judæa, and poured forth its multitudes like a thick vapour to overspread the land. PART I. comprises such Prophecies as were delivered in the Reign of Josiah. (ch. ii.—xii.)
DISCOURSE 1. God, by his prophet, professes to retain the same kindness and favourable disposition for the Jews (ii. 1-3.), with whom he expostulates on account of their ungrateful returns for his past goodness (4-13.), and shows that it was their own extreme and unparalleled wickedness and disloyalty which had already subjected, and would still expose them to calamities and misery. (14-30.) This discourse concludes with a pathetic address, exhorting the Jews to return to God, with an implied promise of acceptance, and lamenting the necessity under which he was, through their continued obstinacy, of giving them further marks of his displeasure. (31 -37. iii. 1-5.) Dr. Blayney (to whom we are indebted for this analysis of Jeremiah's writings) thinks that this prophecy was delivered soon after the commencement of Jeremiah's prophetic commission.
DISCOURSE 2. consists of two parts. The first part contains a complaint against Judah for having exceeded the guilt of her sister Israel, whom God had already cast off for her idolatrous apostasy. (iii. 6-12.) The charge of Judah with hypocrisy in the tenth verse points out the date of this prophetic discourse to have been some time after the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, when the people, under the influence of their good king, were professedly engaged in measures of reformation, which, however, are here declared to have been insincere. The prophet is then commissioned to announce to Israel the promise of pardon upon her repentance, and the hope of a glorious restoration in after-times, which are plainly indicated to be the times of the Gospel, when the Gentiles themselves were to become a part of the church. (12-21.) The children of Israel, confessing and bewailing their sins, have the same comfortable assurances, as before, repeated to them. (22-25. iv. 1, 2.) In the second part, which is prefaced with an address to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, exhorting them to prevent the divine judgments by a timely repentance (iv. 3-5.), the Babylonian invasion is clearly and fully predicted, with all its attendant miseries; and the uni versal and incorrigible depravity of the people is represented at large, and stated to be the justly provoking cause of the national ruin. (iv. 6-31. v. vi.)
DISCOURSE 3. Although the date of this prophecy is not precisely marked, Dr. Blayney thinks it probable that it was delivered shortly after the preceding, and, it should seem, on the following occasion. Besides the prophets who were commissioned to announce the approaching calamities of Judah and Jerusalem, there were others who took upon themselves to flatter the people with opposite predictions. They taught them to regard such threats as groundless; since God (they said) would have too much regard for his own honour to suffer his temple to be profaned, and the seat of his holiness to be given up into the hands of strangers. In the former part of this discourse, therefore, Jeremiah is commanded openly to reprove the falsehood of those assertions, and to show, by an example in point, that the sanctity of the place would afford no security to the guilty; but that God would assuredly do by his house at Jerusalem, what he had done unto Shiloh, and would cast the people of Judah out of his sight, as he had already cast off the people of Israel for their wickedness. (vii. 1-16.) God justifies the severity of his proceedings by a representation of the people's impiety and idolatry. (17-20.) The prophet declares that their sacrifices would be unacceptable, while they continued deaf to the calls of God's messengers (2128.); he further specifies the gross idolatries with which they were defiled, and pronounces a heavy sentence of divine vengeance both on the dead and on the living. (29-34. viii. 1-3.) In the latter part of this discourse, the prophet, at first, in the name of Jehovah, reproves the Jews, who vainly thought that He would save them because they had his law
among them, though they kept not that law. (viii. 4-17.) | DISCOURSE 6. Under the type of breaking a potter's vessel, is Next, in his own person, Jeremiah gives vent to his lamentations at the foresight of the calamities which the Chaldæans would inflict upon the Jews (18-22. ix.); and earnestly dissuades his countrymen from idolatry (x. 1-18.), setting forth the vanity of idols in comparison with the true God. Jerusalem is then introduced, as lamenting the completion of her ruin, and humbly supplicating the divine mercy. (19—25.) In perusing this part of the prophet's discourse, the difference of speakers must be attended to; the transition from one to another being very quick and sudden, but full of animation and energy.
DISCOURSE 4. was probably delivered towards the close of Josiah's reign; when the people, having forgotten the solemn covenant-engagements which they had made in the 18th year of Josiah (2 Kings xxii. 3. xxiii. 3.) are supposed to have relapsed into their former disregard and neglect of the divine law. The prophet was, therefore, sent to recall them to their duty, by proclaiming anew the terms of the covenant, and rebuking them sharply for their hereditary disobedience. (xi. 1-8.) He denounces severe judgments against the people of Judah and Jerusalem for their idolatrous apostasy. (9-17.) Being informed, by divine revelation, of the conspiracy of the men of Anathoth against his life, he prays against them, and is authorized to foretell their utter destruction (18-23.); and, emboldened by the success of his prayers, he expostulates with God concerning the prosperity of the wicked (xii. 1—6.), who answers the prophet's expostulation (7-13.), and promises the future restoration of his people, with a retaliation in kind upon their heathen neighbours who had oppressed them: but with this reservation, that such of them as would embrace the worship of the true God, would be received and incorporated into his church, while the unbelieving part would utterly perish. (14-17.)
PART II. contains the Prophecies delivered in the reign of Jeho
DISCOURSE 1. comprises a single and distinct prophecy; which, under two symbols, a linen girdle left to rot, and the breaking of bottles (that is, skins) filled with wine, foretells the utter destruction that was destined to fall on the whole Jewish nation. (xiii. 1-14.) An exhortation to humiliation and repentance is subjoined (v. 15-21.); and their incorrigible wickedness and profligacy are assigned as the cause of all the evils that imminently awaited them. (22-27.) The particular mention of the downfall of the king and queen in the 18th verse, Dr. Blayney thinks, will justify the opinion which ascribes this prophecy to the commencement of the reign of Jehoiakim, whose fate, with that of his queen, is in like manner noticed together in ch. xxii. 18.
DISCOURSE 2. was, in all probability, delivered shortly after the preceding. It predicts a severe famine, to punish the Jews for their sins, but which does not bring them to repentance (xiv. 1-22.); and announces God's peremptory decree to destroy Judah, unless they should speedily repent. (xv. 1-9.) The prophet, complaining that he is become an object of hatred by reason of his office, receives an assurance of divine protection, on condition of obedience and fidelity on his part. (10-21.) DISCOURSE 3. foretells the utter ruin of the Jews, in the type of the prophet being forbidden to marry and to feast (xvi. 1—13.); and immediately afterwards announces their future restoration (14, 15.), as well as the conversion of the Gentiles (16—21.); accompanied with a severe reproof of the Jews for their attachment to idolatry (the fatal consequences of which are announced), and also for their too great reliance on human aid. (xvii. 1-18.)
DISCOURSE 4. is taken up with a distinct prophecy relative to the strict observance of the Sabbath-day (xvii. 19-27.), which Jeremiah was commanded to proclaim aloud in all the gates of Jerusalem, as a matter that concerned the conduct of each individual, and the general happiness of the whole nation. -DISCOURSE 5. shows, under the type of a potter, God's absolute authority over nations and kingdoms, to alter and regulate their condition at his own discretion. (xviii. 1-10.) The prophet is then directed to exhort the Jews to avert their impending dangers by repentance and amendment, and, on their refusal, to foretell their destruction. (11-17.) The Jews conspiring against him, Jeremiah implores judgment against them. (18-23.)
Mr. Reeves and other commentators refer it to the commencement of Jehoiakim's reign, and consequently after the death of Josiah.
foretold the similar ruin and desolation of the kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem for their sins (xix.); and a severe judgment is denounced against Pashur for apprehending and punishing Jeremiah (xx. 1-6.), who complains of the persecutions he met with. (7-18.) DISCOURSE 7. is supposed to have been delivered immediately after the preceding, and in the precincts of the temple, whence the prophet is commanded to "go down to the house of the king of Judah." It commences with an address to the king, his servants, and people, recommending an inviolable adherence to right and justice as the only means of establishing the throne, and preventing the ruin of both prince and people. (xxii. 1-9.) The captivity of Shallum is declared to be irreversible. (10-12.) Jehoiakim is severely reproved for his tyrannical expressions, and his miserable end is foretold. (13
19.) His family is threatened with a continuance of similar calamities; the fall and captivity of his son Jeconiah are explicitly set forth, together with the perpetual exclusion of his posterity from the throne. (20-30.) The prophecy concludes with consolatory promises of future blessings, of the return of the people from captivity, and of happier times under better governors; of the glorious establishment of Messiah's kingdom; and of the subsequent final restoration of all the dispersed Israelites to their own land. (xxiii. 1-8.) DISCOURSE 8. denounces the divine judgments against false prophets, and mockers of true prophets. (xxiii. 9-40.) DiscOURSE 9. predicts their subjugation, together with that of the neighbouring nations, to the king of Babylon for seventy years (xxv. 1-11.), at the expiration of which Babylon was to be destroyed (12-14.); and the destruction of Judah and several other countries (including Babylon herself, here called Sheshach), is prefigured by the prophet's drinking a cup of wine. (15-38.)
DISCOURSE 10. Jeremiah being directed to foretell the destruc-
DISCOURSE 12. By divine appointment Jeremiah causes Baruch
DISCOURSE 13. contains a series of prophecies against severa.
(1.) A prophecy of the defeat of the Egyptians that garrisoned Carche. mish, by the Chaldæans (xlvi. 2-12.), and of the entire conquest of that country by Nebuchadnezzar. (13-28.)
(2.) Predictions of the subjugation of the land of the Philistines, includ ing Tyre (xlvii.), and also of the Moabites (xlviii.), by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar.
(3.) Predictions of the conquest of the Ammonites (xlix. 1-6.) by the same monarch, and likewise of the land of Edom (7-22.), of Damas cus (23-27.), and of Kedar. (28-33.)
PART III. contains the Prophecies delivered in the reign of Zedekiah King of Judah.
DISCOURSE 1. A prediction of the conquest of Elam or Persia by the Chaldæans, delivered in the beginning of Zedekiah's reign. (xlix. 34-39.) On the final subversion of the Babylonish monarchy, Elam was restored (as promised in ver. 39.) to its former possessors, who had fought under the banners of the Medes and Persians.
DISCOURSE 2. Under the type of good and bad figs, God represents to Jeremiah the different manner in which he should deal with the people that were already gone into captivity, and with Zedekiah and his subjects who were left behind ;-showing favour and kindness to the former in their restoration and re-establishment, but pursuing the latter with unrelenting judgments to utter destruction. (xxiv.)
DISCOURSE 3. The Jews at Babylon are warned not to believe such as pretended to foretell their speedy return into their own country (xxix. 1-23.); and judgment is denounced against Shemaiah for writing against Jeremiah to the Jews at Babylon (24-32.) Dr. Blayney has remarked that, in the Septuagint version, the fifteenth verse of this chapter is read immediately after verse 20., which seems to be its original and proper place.
DISCOURSE 4. contains prophecies of the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, but chiefly from their dispersion by the Romans, on their general conversion to Christianity (xxx.); and predicts their happy state after that glorious event shall be accomplished (xxxi. 1-26.), concluding with a fuller prophecy describing the Gospel state, as also the state of the Jews after their conversion. (27-38.) "Both events," Dr. Blayney remarks, "are frequently thus connected together in the prophetic writings, and perhaps with this design, that when that which was nearest at hand should be accomplished, it might afford the strongest and most satisfactory kind of evidence, that the latter, how remote soever its period, would in like manner be brought about by the interposition of Providence in its due season.'
DISCOURSE 5. Zedekiah, in the fourth year of his reign, being solicited by ambassadors from the kings of Edom, Moab, and other neighbouring nations, to join them in a confederacy against the king of Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah is ordered, under the type of bonds and yokes, to admonish them, especially Zedekiah, quietly to submit to the king of Babylon, and warns them not to listen to the suggestions of false prophets (xxvii.); and the death of Hananiah, who was one of them, is foretold within the year (xxviii. 1-16.), who died accordingly about two months after. (17.)
DISCOURSE 6. contains a prophecy concerning the fall of Babylon, intermixed and contrasted with predictions concerning the redemption of Israel and Judah, who were not, like their predecessors, to be finally extirpated, but to survive, and, upon their repentance and conversion, they were to be pardoned and restored. (1. li. 1-58.) This prophecy against Babylon was delivered in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign, and sent to the Jews there, in order to be read to them: after which it was to be sunk in the Euphrates, as a type of the perpetual destruction of Babylon.1
DISCOURSE 7. was probably delivered in the ninth year of Zedekiah, previously to the siege of Jerusalem, which commenced in the tenth month of that year. In this prophecy Jeremiah (who had been requested to "inquire of the Lord" for his countrymen) foretells a severe siege and miserable captivity, and advises the people to yield to the Chaldæans (xxi. 1-10.); and the members of the royal house are warned to prevent the effects of God's indignation by doing justice, and not to trust to their stronghold, which would be of no avail whatever to them when God was bent upon their destruction. (11-14.) DISCOURSE 8. consists of two distinct prophecies. The first, probably delivered towards the close of the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, announces to the Jewish monarch the capture and burning of Jerusalem, his own captivity, peaceful death, and honourable interment. (xxxiv. 1-7.) The second prophecy, which was announced some time after, when the Chaldæans
1 The fifty-first chapter of Jeremiah closes with the following sentence: "Thus far are the words of Jeremiah" which, Dr. Blayney thinks, was added by the person (whoever it might be) that collected his prophecies, and digested them in the order in which we now find them in the Hebrew Bibles. This sentence does not occur in the Septuagint version, where indeed it could not be introduced at the end of this chapter, because the chapters are arranged differently in that version; and chapter li. forms only the twenty-eighth of the collection. The disposition of Jeremiah's prophecies is, apparently, so arbitrary, that it is not likely that it was made under the prophet's direction.
had broken off the siege in order to encounter the Egyptian army, severely reproves and threatens the Jews for their perfidious violation of the covenant they had newly made of obedience to God. (8-22.)
DISCOURSE 9. Jeremiah foretells the retreat of the Egyptians, and the return of the Chaldæans to the siege of Jerusalem. which should he taken and burnt by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar. (xxxvii. 1-10.) For this he was put into a dungeon (11-15.), from which he was released, but still kept a prisoner, though the rigour of his confinement was abated. (16-21.) DISCOURSE 10. confirms the promised return of the Jews from captivity, by Jeremiah being commanded to buy a field. (xxxii.)
DISCOURSE 11. predicts the restoration of Israel and Judah (xxxiii. 1-9.), and that the land, whose desolation the Jews deplored, should again flourish with multitudes of men and cattle (10-13.); whence the prophet takes occasion to confirm his former promise of establishing a perpetual kingdom of righteousness under the Messiah. (14-26.) This evangelical prediction is, as yet, unfulfilled. "The days, it is evident, are not yet arrived, though they will certainly come, for the performance of God's good promise concerning the restoration of the house of Israel and the house of Judah, under Christ THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
DISCOURSE 12. contains the last transaction in which Jeremiah was prophetically concerned before the taking of Jerusalem. It relates the imprisonment of Jeremiah in a deep and miry dungeon, at the instance of the princes of Judah (xxxviii. 1-6.); his deliverance thence (7-13.); and the prophet's advice to Zedekiah, who had consulted him privately, to submit himself to the Chaldæans. (14-27.) The capture of the city, the flight of Zedekiah, and the particulars of his punishment after he had been taken and brought before the king of Babylon, are then related (xxxix. 1-10.) together with the kind treatment of the prophet in consequence of a special charge from Nebuchadnezzar. (11-13.) In conclusion, the piety of Ebedmelech is rewarded with a promise of personal safety amidst the ensuing public calamities. (15-18.)
PART IV. contains a particular Account of what passed in the Land of Judah, from the taking of Jerusalem to the Retreat of the Jewish People into Egypt, and the Prophecies of Jeremiah concerning them while in that Country.
DISCOURSE 1. Jeremiah has his choice either to go to Babylon, or to remain in Judæa (xl. 1-6.), whither the dispersed Jews repaired to Gedaliah the governor (7-12.); who being treacherously slain (13—16. xli. 1—10.), the Jews left in Judæa intend to go down to Egypt (11-18.), from which course the prophet dissuades them. (xlii.)
DISCOURSE 2. The Jews going into Egypt contrary to the divine command (xliii. 1—7.), Jeremiah foretells to them the conquest of that kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar (8-13.); he predicts destruction to all the Jews that willingly went into Egypt (xliv. 1-13.), whose obstinate idolatry is related (14-19.), destruction is denounced against them, and the dethronement of Pharaoh Hophrah king of Egypt (by profane authors called Apries) is foretold. (20-30.)
The CONCLUSION of Jeremiah's prophecy, containing the fifty-second chapter, was added after his time, subsequently to the return from captivity, of which it gives a short account, and forms a proper argument or introduction to the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
IV. Although the greater part of Jeremiah's predictions related to his countrymen the Jews, many of whom lived to behold their literal fulfilment, and thus attested his prophetic mission, while several of his predictions concerned other nations (as will be seen from the preceding analysis); yet two or three of his prophecies so clearly announce the Messiah, that it would be a blamable omission were we to pass them unnoticed.
In ch. xxiii. 5, 6. is foretold the mediatorial kingdom of the Messiah, who is called the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. On this passage Dr. Hales has cited the following remark from the ancient rabbinical book of Ikkarim, which (he observes) well expresses the reason of the appellation:The Scripture calls the name of the MESSIAH, JAOH, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, to intimate that he will be A MEDIATORIAL GOD, by whose hand we shall obtain justification from THE NAME: wherefore it calls him by the name of THE NAME
See p. 273. supra of this volume.
(that is, the ineffable name JAOH, here put for GOD HIM- | ELEGY 1. The prophet begins with lamenting the sad reverse SELF)."i
Again, in Jer. xxxi. 22. we have a distinct prediction of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ; and in xxxi. 31 -36. and xxxiii. 8. the efficacy of Christ's atonement, the spiritual character of the new covenant, and the inward efficacy of the Gospel, are most clearly and emphatically described. Compare Saint Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. viii. 8-13. and x. 16. et seq.
V. The STYLE of Jeremiah, though not deficient in elegance or sublimity, is considered by Bishop Lowth as being inferior in both respects to Isaiah. Jerome, after some Jewish writers, has objected to the prophet a certain rusticity of expression, which however it is very difficult to trace. Though the sentiments of Jeremiah are not always the most elevated, nor his periods uniformly neat and compact; yet his style is in a high degree beautiful and tender, especially when he has occasion to excite the softer passions of grief and pity, which is frequently the case in the earlier parts of his prophecies. These are chiefly poetical. The middle of his book is almost entirely historical, and is written in a plain prosaic style, suitable to historical narrative. On many occasions he is very elegant and sublime, especially in xlvi. li. 1-59. which are wholly poetical, and in which the prophet approaches very near the sublimity of Isaiah.5
2. ON THE LAMENTATIONS OF JEREMIAH.
I. Author, date, and argument of the book.-II. Synopsis of its contents.-III. Observations on its style and structure.
I. THAT Jeremiah was the author of the Elegies or Lamentations which bear his name is evident, not only from a very ancient and almost uninterrupted tradition, but also from the argument and style of the book, which correspond exactly with those of his prophecies.
Josephus, Jerome, Juníus, Archbishop Usher, Michaelis, Dathe, and other eminent writers, are of opinion, that the Lamentations of Jeremiah were the same which are mentioned in 2 Chron. xxxv. 25. as being composed by the prophet on the death of the pious king Josiah, and which are there said to have been perpetuated by "an ordinance in Israel." But, whatever may have become of those Lamentations, it is evident that these cannot possibly be the same; for their whole tenor plainly shows, that they were not composed till after the subversion of the kingdom of Judah. The calamities which Jeremiah had foretold in his prophecies are here deplored as having actually taken place, viz. the impositions of the false prophets who had seduced the people by their lying declarations, the destruction of the holy city and temple, the overthrow of the state, and the extermination of the people. But though it be allowed that the Lamentations were primarily intended as a pathetic description of present calamities, yet it has with great probability been conjectured that, while Jeremiah mourns the desolation of Judah and Jerusalem, he may be considered as prophetically painting the still greater miseries they were to suffer at some future time; and this seems plainly indicated by his referring to the time when the punishment of their iniquity shall be accomplished, and they shall no more be carried into captivity. (iv. 22.)7
II. This book, which in our Bible is divided into five chapters, consists of five distinct elegies; viz.
Dr. Hales's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. book i. p. 481. who cites Buxtorf's Lexicon, voce nn. Dr. H. thinks that Paul derived the decla ration he has made concerning Jesus Christ, in 1 Cor. i. 30. and Phil. ii.
11., from the above cited passage of Jeremiah.
of fortune which his country had experienced, confessing at the same time that all her miseries were the just consequences of the national wickedness and rebellion against God. In the midst of his discourse he withdraws himself from view, and introduces Jerusalem, to continue the complaint, and humbly to solicit the divine compassion. Jahn is of opinion, that, in this elegy, Jeremiah deplores the deportation of king Jehoiachin, and ten thousand of the principal Jews, to Babylon. Compare 2 Kings xxiv. 8-17. and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9, 10. ELEGY 2. Jeremiah gives a melancholy detail of the dire effects of the divine anger in the subversion of the civil and religious constitution of the Jews, and in that extreme misery to which every class of individuals was reduced. He represents the wretchedness of his country as unparalleled; and charges the false prophets with having betrayed her into ruin by their false and flattering suggestions. In this forlorn and desolate condition, the astonishment and by-word of all who see her, Jerusalem is directed earnestly to implore the removal of those heavy judgments which God, in the height of his displeasure, had inflicted upon her.-Jahn thinks that this elegy was composed on the storming of Jerusalem by the ELEGY 3. The prophet, by describing his own most severe and Babylonian army. trying afflictions, and setting forth the inexhaustible mercies of God, as the never-failing source of his consolation, exhorts his countrymen to be patient and resigned under the divine chastisements. He asserts the divine supremacy in the dispensations of good and evil, and argues that no man has a right to complain, when he is punished according to his deserts. He recommends it to his fellow-sufferers to examine themselves, and to turn to God with contrite hearts; and concludes by expressing his hope, that the same Providence that had formerly delivered him, would frustrate the malice of his present enemies, and would turn the scornful reproach, which ELEGY 4. exhibits a striking contrast, in various affecting inthey had cast upon him, to their own confusion. stances, between the present deplorable and wretched condition of the Jewish nation and their former flourishing affairs; and ascribes the unhappy change chiefly to the profligacy of its priests and prophets. The people proceed with lamenting their hopeless condition, especially the captivity of their sovereign Zedekiah. This elegy concludes with predicting the judgments that were impending over the Edomites, together with a final cessation of Sion's calamities.
ELEGY 5. is an epilogue or conclusion to the preceding chapters or elegies. In the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate versions, this chapter is entitled THE PRAYER OF JEREMIAH; but no such title appears in the Hebrew copies, or in the Septuagint version. It is rather, as Dr. Blayney has remarked, a memorial representing, in the name of the whole body of Jewish exiles, the numerous calamities under which they groaned; and humbly supplicating God to commiserate their wretchedness, and to restore them once more to his favour, and to their ancient prosperity.
III. The Lamentations are evidently written in metre, and contain a number of plaintive effusions composed after the manner of funeral dirges. Bishop Lowth is of opinion that his mind, in a long course of separate stanzas, and that they they were originally written by the prophet, as they arose in were subsequently collected into one poem. Each elegy consists of twenty-two periods, according to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet; although it is in the four first chapters only that the several periods begin (after the 9-manner of an acrostic) with the different letters following each other in alphabetical order. By this contrivance, the metre is more precisely marked and ascertained, particularly in the third chapter, where each period contains three verses, all having the same initial letter. The two first chapters, in like manner, consist of triplets, excepting only the seventh period of the first and the nineteenth of the second, each of which has a supernumerary line. The fourth chapter resembles the three former in metre, but the periods are only couplets; and in the fifth chapter the periods are couplets, though of a considerably shorter measure.
Professor Dahler considers this simply as a proverbial expression; and the modern Jews, and a few Christian interpreters, particularly the late Dr. Blayney in his translation of Jeremiah, have denied the application of this prophecy to the Messiah: but the following remarks will show that this denial is not authorized. According to the first evangelical promise concerning the seed of the woman, followed this prediction of the prophet: The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man. (Jer. xxxi. 22.) That new creation of a man is therefore new, and therefore a creation, because wrought in a woman only, without a man, compassing a man. This interpretation is ancient, literal, and clear. The words import a miraculous conception: the ancient Jews acknowledged this sense, and applied it determinately to the Messiah. This prophecy is illustrated by that of Isaiah vii. 14.-Bp. Pearson on the Creed, art. iii. p. 171. edit. 1715, folio.
a Pref. ad Com. in Jerem.
See the whole of ch. ix. ch. xiv. 17. &c. and xx. 14-18.
Prof. Pareau has amply proved this point from a general collation of the Prophecies of Jeremiah with select passages of this book, in the preliminary Dissertation to his Latin version of the Lamentations (Lug. Bat.
1790. 8vo.), illustrated with notes.
Bishop Tomline's Elements of Christian Theology, vol. i. pp. 112, 113.
Although there is no artificial or methodical arrangement of the subject in these incomparable elegies, yet they are totally free from wild incoherency or abrupt transition. Never, perhaps, was there a greater variety of beautiful, tender, and pathetic images, all expressive of the deepest distress and sorrow, more happily chosen and applied than in the lamentations of this prophet; nor can we too much
admire the full and graceful flow of that pathetic eloquence, in which the author pours forth the effusions of a patriot heart, and piously weeps over the ruin of his venerable country.1
3. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET HABAKKUK.
rature of the Chaldeans, which at that time was greatly superior to the learning of the ancient Egyptians, he afterwards held a very distinguished office in the Babylonian empire. (Dan. i. 1-4.) He was contemporary with Ezekiel who mentions his extraordinary piety and wisdom (Ezek xiv. 14. 20.), and the latter even at that time seems to have become proverbial. (Ezek. xxviii. 3.) Daniel lived in great
I. Author and date.-II. Analysis of his prophecy.-III. Ob- credit with the Babylonian monarchs; and his uncommon
servations on his style.
BEFORE CHRIST, 612-598.
I. We have no certain information concerning the tribe or birth-place of Habakkuk. The pseudo-Epiphanius affirms that he was of the tribe of Simeon, and was born at Bethcazar. Some commentators have supposed that he prophesied in Judæa in the reign of Manasseh, but Archbishop Usher places him, with greater probability, in the reign of Jehoiakim. Compare Hab. i. 5, 6. Consequently this prophet was contemporary with Jeremiah. Several apocryphal predictions and other writings are ascribed to Habakkuk, but without any foundation. His genuine writings are comprised in the three chapters which have been transmitted to us; and the subject of them is the same with that of Jeremiah, viz. the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, for the heinous sins of the Jewish people, and the consolation of the faithful amid all their national calamities.
II. The prophecy of Habakkuk consists of two parts; the first is in the form of a dialogue between God and the prophet, and the second is a sublime ode or hymn, which was probably intended to be used in the public service. PART I. The Prophet complaining of the Growth of Iniquity among the Jews (i. 1-4.), God is introduced, announcing the Babylonish Captivity as a Punishment for their Wickedness. (5-11.)
The prophet then humbly expostulates with God for punishing the Jews by the instrumentality of the Chaldæans. (12-17. ii. 1.) In answer to this complaint, God replies that he will, in due time, perform his promises to his people, of deliverance by the Messiah (implying also the nearer deliverance by Cyrus). (ii. 2-4.) The destruction of the Babylonish empire is then foretold, together with the judgment that would be inflicted upon the Chaldeans for their covetousness, cruelty, and idolatry. (5-20.)
ART II. contains the Prayer or Psalm of Habakkuk.
In this prayer he implores God to hasten the deliverance of his people (iii. 1, 2.), and takes occasion to recount the wonderful works of the Almighty in conducting his people through the wilderness, and giving them possession of the promised land (3-16.): whence he encourages himself and other pious persons to rely upon God for making good his promises to their posterity in after-ages.
III. Habakkuk holds a distinguished rank among the sacred poets; whoever reads his prophecy must be struck with the grandeur of his imagery and the sublimity of its style, especially of the hymn in the third chapter, which Bishop Lowth considers one of the most perfect specimens of the Hebrew ode. Michaelis, after a close examination, pronounces him to be a great imitator of former poets, but with some new additions of his own, which are characterzied by brevity, and by no common degree of sublimity. Compare Hab. ii. 12. with Mic. iii. 10., and Hab. ii. 14. with Isa. xi. 9.2
§ 4. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET DANIEL.
I. Author and date.-II. Analysis of its contents.-III. Observations on its canonical authority and style.-Objections to its authenticity refuted.—IV. Account of the spurious additions made to it.
BEFORE CHRIST, 606-534.
1. DANIEL, the fourth of the greater prophets, if not of royal birth (as the Jews affirm), was of noble descent, and was carried captive to Babylon at an early age, in the fourth year of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year 606 before the Christian æra, and seven years before the deportation of Ezekiel. Having been instructed in the language and lite
Dr. Blayney's Jeremiah, p. 455. et seq. Bishop Lowth's Lectures on Hebrew Poetry, lect. xxii. in fine. Jahn, Introd. ad Vet. Fod. pp. 415-417. Carpzov, Introd. ad Libros Biblicos, pars iii. cap. iv. pp. 177-197. 2 Lowth's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 99.
merit procured him the same regard from Darius and Cyrus, the two first sovereigns of Persia. He lived throughout the captivity, but it does not appear that he returned to his own country when Cyrus permitted the Jews to revisit their native land. The pseudo-Epiphanius, who wrote the lives of the prophets, says that he died at Babylon; and this assertion has been adopted by most succeeding writers: but as the last of his visions, of which we have any account, took place in the third year of Cyrus, about 534 years before the Christian era, when he was about ninety-four years of age and resided at Susa on the Tigris, it is not improbable that he died there. Although the name of Daniel is not prefixed to his book, the many passages in which he speaks in the first person sufficiently prove that he was the author. He is not reckoned among the prophets by the Jews since the time of Jesus Christ, who say that he lived the life of a courtier in the court of the king of Babylon, rather than that of a prophet; and they further assert, that, though he received divine revelations, yet these were only by dreams and visions of the night, which they consider as the most imperfect mode of revelation. But Josephus, one of the most ancient profane writers of that nation, accounts Daniel one of the greatest God, and not only predicted future events (as other prophets of the prophets; and says that he conversed familiarly with did), but also determined the time of their accomplishment.3
II. The book of Daniel may be divided into two parts. The first is historical, and contains a relation of various circumstances that happened to himself and to the Jews, under several kings at Babylon; the second is strictly prophetical, and comprises the visions and prophecies with which he was favoured, and which enabled him to foretell numerous important events relative to the monarchies of the world, the time of the advent and death of the Messiah, the restoration of the Jews, and the conversion of the Gentiles. PART I. contains the Historical Part of the Book of Daniel (ch. i.-vi.), forming six Sections; viz.
SECT. 1. A compendious history of the carrying away of Daniel and his three friends to Babylon, with other young sons of the principal Hebrews, and of their education and employment. (ch. i.)
"Between the first and second chapters there is a great chasm in the history. In ii. 1. the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign is indeed mentioned, but this cannot be the second year of his government; for, at that time, Daniel was a youth in the second year of his course of instruction; whereas in this chapter he appears as a man. We learn, moreover, from ii. 29., that Nebuchadnezzar had been thinking of what should transpire after his death, which supposes him to be of considerable age. Chap. ii. 28. also informs us that his conquests were ended; and as Ezekiel in xxix. 17. announces the conquest of Egypt in the twenty-seventh year of his exile and the thirty-fourth of Nebuchadnezzar's government, the campaign opening about that time, the account in Dan. ii. can hardly be placed before his fortieth year. The second year,' therefore, in ii. 1., must refer to Nebuchadnezzar's government over the conquered countries; in other words, it was the second year of his universal monarchy, which perhaps gave rise to a new method of reckoning time."4
SECT. 2. Nebuchadnezzar's dream concerning an image composed of different metals (ii. 1-13.); the interpretation thereof communicated to Daniel (14-23.), who reveals it to the monarch (24-35.), and interprets it of the four great monarchies. The head of gold represented the Babylonian empire (32.); the breast and arms, which were of silver, represented the Medo-Persian empire (32. 39.); the brazen belly and thighs represented the Macedo-Grecian empire (32. 39.); the legs and feet, which were partly of iron and partly of clay, represented the Roman empire (33. 40-43.), which would bruise and break to pieces every other kingdom, but in its last stage should be divided into ten smaller kingdoms, denoted by the ten toes of the image. The 3 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. x. c. 11. § 7.
• Jahn's Introduction by Professor Turner, p. 406.