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as a proof that these portions of Ezekiel's prophecies differ in character from the remainder."
Josephus ascribes to this prophet two books concerning the Babylonian captivity;2 and says, that, having foretold in Babylon the calamities which were coming upon the people, he sent accounts of them to Jerusalem. But these circumstances are not recorded in the predictions now extant; nor have we any means of ascertaining what foundation Josephus had for his assertion. Most commentators are of opinion that the Jewish historian divided the prophecy we now have into two books, and that he took that part of the prophecy, which contains a description of the temple (xli.xlviii.) for a distinct book, because it treats on a subject wholly different from the topics discussed in the former part of his writings.
III. The chief design of Ezekiel's prophecies is, to comfort his brethren in captivity, who deplored their having too lightly credited the promises of Jeremiah, who had exhorted them speedily to submit to the Chaldees, on account of the approaching ruin of Jerusalem. As these captives saw no appearance of the fulfilment of Jeremiah's predictions, God raised up Ezekiel to confirm them in the faith, and to support by new prophecies those which Jeremiah had long before published, and even then continued to announce in Judæa. In pursuance of this design, Ezekiel predicts the dreadful calamities which soon after were inflicted upon Judæa and Jerusalem, on account of the idolatry, impiety, and profligacy of their inhabitants; the divine judgments that would be executed on the false prophets and prophetesses, who deluded and hardened the Jews in their rebellion against God; the punishments that awaited the Ammonites, Edomites, and Philistines, for their hatred of the Jews, and insulting them in their distress; the destruction of Tyre; the conquest of Egypt; the future restoration of Israel and Judah from their several dispersions; and their ultimately happy state after the advent and under the government of the Messiah.
IV. The prophecies of Ezekiel form, in our Bibles, fortyeight chapters; and, as he is extremely punctual in dating them, we have little or no difficulty in arranging them in chronological order. They may be divided into four parts; viz.
PART I. Ezekiel's Call to the Prophetic Office (i. 1. to the first part of verse 28.), his Commission, Instructions, and Encouragements for executing it. (i. 28. latter clause, ii. iii. 1-21.)
PART II. Denunciations against the Jewish People. (iii. 22— 27. iv.-xxiv.)
SECT. 1. Under the emblem of a siege delineated upon a tile is represented the manner in which the Chaldæan army would surround Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah. (iii. 22-27. iv. 1-3.) The inhabitants there encouraged the captives in Chaldæa to hope for a return; and such a hope they actually cherished, so long as Jerusalem was safe : but this vision was designed to overthrow their confidence. From the specimens preserved in cabinets, it is well known that the tiles or bricks, anciently used in oriental buildings, were of considerable size, with one of the surfaces well polished, so as to be capable of receiving the representation described by the prophet. By Ezekiel's lying upon his right and left side a certain number of (prophetic) days, is exhibited the number of years, during which God had borne with the iniquities of the house of Israel. (4-8.) The scanty supply and intermixture of coarse food represented the scarcity and hard fare which the Jews should have during the continuance of the siege by Nebuchadnezzar.
The arrangement proposed by Prof. De Wette coincides very nearly with that given in this work. He divides the predictions of Ezekiel into four parts, viz. I. From chap. i. to chap. xxiv, containing prophecies relating to the Jews and anterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, in chronological order; II. From chap. xxv. to chap. xxxii. containing prophecies relating to various heathen nations, disposed according to the order of subjects; III. From chap. xxxiii. to xlviii. containing prophecies posterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, in chronological order.
The prophetical types and figures are often adapted to the genius and education of the prophets. Amos, for instance, derives his figures from objects which were familiar to a shepherd or a husbandman. As Ezekiel seems to have had a peculiar talent for architecture, several of his representations are suitable to that profession. "And they that suppose the emblem here made use of to be below the dignity of the prophetic office, may as well accuse Archimedes of folly for inaking lines in the dust." W. Lowth on Ezek. i.; from whose summaries of chapters and the marginal abstracts of Mr. Reeves this analysis of Ezekiel is chiefly derived, in the present as well as in former editions of this work.
SECT. 2. Under the type of shaving his head and beard, and weighing his hair, one-third part of which was to be burnt, another to be cut small with a knife, and the remainder to be burnt (v. 1-4.), are, in vision, denounced the divine judgments against Jerusalem, by famine, sword, and dispersion. (5-17.) The head here represents Jerusalem; the hair, the great number of its inhabitants; and the balances, the exactness of God's judgments.
SECT. 3. denounces the divine judgments against the Jews for their idolatry (vi. 1-7.), but promises that a remnant shall be saved, and shall be brought to a sense of their sins by their afflictions. (8-14.)
SECT. 4. announces the irreversible judgment of captivity, and final desolation of the Jews for their idolatry and other heinous sins (vii. 1-22.): the severity of their captivity, which is prefigured by a chain. (23-27.)
SECT. 5. describes the carrying of the prophet, in a vision, to Jerusalem (viii. 1-4.), where he is shown the idolatries committed by the Jews within the precincts of the temple; particularly the image of Baal, by a bold figure called the image of Jealousy, from the provocation it gave to God, by setting up a rival against him in the place dedicated to his worship (5.): the Egyptian (6-12.), the Phenician (13, 14.), and the Persian superstitions. (15, 16.) The prophet then denounces vengeance against the wicked, and foretells the preservation of the pious Jews (17, 18. ix.) ; and under the command to scatter coals of fire over the city (x. 1-7.), and the vision of the Shechinah departing from the temple (8-22.), are prefigured the destruction of Jerusalem, and Jehovah's forsaking the temple. This section concludes with a severe denunciation against those wicked princes and people who remained in Jerusalem, and derided the types and predictions of the prophets (xi. 1— 13.); and the return of the Jews is then foretold (1421.); Jehovah's utterly forsaking the temple and city is represented by the departure of the Shechinah (22, 23.); and the prophet returns to communicate his instructions to his brethren of the captivity. (24, 25.)
SECT. 6. Under the types of Ezekiel's removing himself and his household goods (xii. 1-7.), and eating and drinking "with quaking, and with carefulness" (17-20.), is prefigured the captivity of Zedekiah and of the Jews still remaining at Jerusalem (8-16.); and speedy judgment is denounced against the Jews for their abuse of the divine forbearance. (21-28.)
SECT. 7. The false prophets (xiii. 1-16.), and false prophetesses (17-23.), are reproved and threatened with signal punishment.
SECT. 8. A denunciation of the divine judgments against the idolatrous elders and their false prophets (xiv. 1-11.), and against the Jews for their obstinate impenitency (12-21.); a remnant of whom, it is promised, shall be saved. (22, 23.)
SECT. 9. Under the parable of an unfruitful and unprofitable vine is set forth the utter rejection of Jerusalem. (xv.) SECT. 10. Under the emblem of an exposed and wretched infant is represented the natural state of the Jewish nation, and the great love of God to it in Egypt, as well as afterwards. (xvi. 1-14.) The heinous and unparalleled sins of the Jews are set forth; for which sore judgments are denounced against them. But, notwithstanding all these provocations, God promises in the end to show them mercy under his new and everlasting covenant. (60-63.) The figurative mode of describing adultery, which is of frequent occurrence in the prophets, is pursued with great force, and at considerable length, both in this and the 23d chapter. SECT. 11. Under the allegory of two eagles and a vine is represented God's judgment upon the Jews, for revolting from Babylon to Egypt. (xvii. 1-21.) The "great eagle with great wings" (3.) means Nebuchadnezzar, as the "feathers of divers colours" mean the various nations that
6 Bishop Warburton has an excellent illustration of this prediction in his Divine Legation of Moses, book iv. sect. 6. (Works, vol. iv. pp. 295-300.); the most material parts of which are inserted in Bishop Mant's and Dr. D'Oyly's Commentary on the Bible.
Josephus informs us that Zedekiah, thinking the prophecy of Ezekiel in the thirteenth verse of this chapter (that he should be brought to Baby. lon, which, however, he should not see, though he should die there), inconsistent with the prediction of Jeremiah (xxxii. 4. and xxxiv. 3.) that the Jewish king should see the eyes of the king of Babylon,-determined to give no credit to either of them. Both prophecies, as we have already seen (Vol. I. p. 124.) were literally fulfilled, and the event convincer him that they were not irreconcilable. Compare Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib 1. c. 8. §2. with 2 Kings xxv. 4-7. and Jer. lii. 8-11.
The other "great eagle" (7.)
were subject to his sway.
SECT. 13. Under the parable of a lion's whelps are foretold
SECT. 15. Under the emblem of a forest, doomed to be con-
SECT. 18. Under the figure of a boiling pot is shown the destruction of Jerusalem and its inhabitants (xxiv. 1-14.); and, by the prophet's being forbidden to mourn for his wife, it is signified that the calamities of the Jews shall be so astonishing as to surpass all expressions of sorrow. (15-27.)
PART III. comprises Ezekiel's Prophecies against various neighbouring Nations, Enemies to the Jews. (xxv.-xxxii.) SECT. 1. denotes the judgments of God against the Ammonites (xxv. 1-7.), Moabites (8-11., Edomites (12-14.), and Philistines (15-17.), on account of their hatred of his people, and insulting them in the time of their distress. According to Archbishop Usher and Josephus, these predictions were fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem.3
SECT. 2. announces, in language singularly elegant and ani-
SECT. 3. The deposition and death of Pharaoh-Hophrah (or
Urserii Annales, ad A. M. 3419. Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. x. c. 11. § 1.
Apries) king of Egypt (xxix. 1-8.), and the conquest of that country by Nebuchadnezzar (9—21. xxx.-xxxii.), are foretold. The imagery of the latter part of this prophecy is both sublime and terrible. These predictions were in the tenth, twenty-seventh, eleventh, and twelfth years of Jehoiachin's captivity.
PART IV. contains a Series of Exhortations and consolatory Promises to the Jews, of future Deliverance under Cyrus, but principally of their final Restoration and Conversion under the Kingdom of Messiah. (xxxiii.--xlviii.) These Predictions were probably delivered in the twelfth year of Jehoiachin's Captivity.
SECT. 1. sets forth the duty of a prophet or minister of God, exemplified by that of a watchman, in warning a people of their sins. (xxxiii. 1-9.) Then follows an earnest exhortation to repentance, vindicating the equity of the divine government, and declaring the terms of acceptance (as in ch. xviii.) to be without respect of persons; so that the ruin of obstinate and impenitent sinners must be attributed to themselves. (xxxiii. 10-20.) While Ezekiel was thus under the prophetic impulse, tidings being brought to him of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (21, 22.), he takes occasion to predict the utter desolation of Judæa, to check the vain confidence of those who still remain there, and he also reproves the hypocrisy of those Jews who were of the captivity. (23-33.)
SECT. 2. In this section God reproves the conduct of the civil and ecclesiastical governors of the Jewish people (xxxiv. 1 -10.), and promises a general restoration of the people. Their happy condition under the reign of Messiah their king is described in the most beautiful terms. (11-31.) SECT. 3. contains a renewal of the prophet's former denuncia. tions against the Edomites (see xxv. 12.) as a just punishment for their insults to the Jews during their calamities. (xxxv.) 5
SECT. 4. announces the general restoration of the Jews, of which the return of the two tribes from Babylon may be considered an earnest, and their consequent felicity. (xxxvi.) The same subject is further illustrated under the vision of a resurrection of dry bones. (xxxvii. 1-14.) The address to the dry bones in ver. 4. is by some commentators considered as a prophetical representation of that voice of the Son of God, which all that are in their graves shall hear at the last day, and come forth. Under the emblem of the union of two sticks is foretold the incorporation of Israel and Judah into one state and church, which will enjoy the land of Canaan and the blessings of the Gospel under the Messiah. (15-28.)
SECT. 5. contains a remarkable prophecy against Gog and all his allies, and the victory of Israel over them (xxxviii. xxxix. 1-22.), together with a promise of deliverance from captivity, and of the final restoration and conversion of the Jews to the Gospel, under the Messiah. (23-29.) This prophecy relates to the latter ages of the world, and will be best understood by its accomplishment.
SECT. 6. contains a representation, partly literal and partly mystical, of Solomon's temple; also a mystical representation of the city of Jerusalem, and mystical directions concerning the division of the Holy Land;-all which were designed to give the Jews a greater assurance of their returning into their own country from the Babylonish captivity; and, more remotely, of their return after their general conversion to Christianity, and of the lasting and firmly settled and prosperous state they shall then enjoy in their own country. It seems that no model of Solomon's temple had remained. To direct the Jews, therefore, in the dimensions, parts, order, and regulations of the new temple, on their return from the Babylonish captivity, is one reason why Ezekiel is so particular in his description of the old temple; to which the new was conformable in figure and parts, though inferior in magnificence on account of the poverty of the nation at that time. Whatever was august or illustrious in the prophetic figures, and not literally fulfilled in or near their own time, the ancient Jews justly considered as belonging to the times of the Messiah.6 Ac
5 This prophecy was accomplished in the conquest of the Edomites, first by the Nabatheans, and secondly by John Hyrcanus, who compelled them to embrace the Jewish religion; in consequence of which they at length became incorporated with that nation. Dr. Prideaux's Connection, part ii book v. sub anno 129. (vol. ii. pp. 307, 308.)
See particularly 1 Cor. iii. 16. 2 Cor. vi. 16. Eph. ii. 20-22. 1 Tim. iii. 15. The same metaplior is also pursued in 2 Thess. ii. 4., and occurs repeat
cordingly, when they found that the second temple fell short, | deserve to be compared with Homer, on account of his beau at least in their opinion, of the model of the temple de- tiful conceptions, his illustrious comparisons, and his extenscribed by Ezekiel, they supposed the prophecy to refer, at sive knowledge of various subjects, particularly of architec least in part, to the period now mentioned: and, doubtless, ture. Bishop Lowth, in his twenty-first lecture on the sacred the temple and temple worship were a figure of Christ's poetry of the Hebrews, gives us the following description of church, frequently represented in the New Testament under the peculiar and discriminating characters of this prophet. the metaphor of a temple, in allusion to the beauty, sym- "Ezekiel," says he, "is much inferior to Jeremiah in elemetry, and firmness of that erected by Solomon, to its or- gance; in sublimity he is not even excelled by Isaiah: but derly worship, and to the manifestations of the divine pre-his sublimity is of a totally different kind. He is deep, vesence there vouchsafed. This section comprises the last hement, tragical; the only sensation he affects to excite is nine chapters of Ezekiel's prophecy; which are thus ana- the terrible; his sentiments are elevated, fervid, full of fire, lyzed by Dr. Smith:2 indignant; his imagery is crowded, magnificent, terrific, sometimes almost to disgust; his language is pompous, solemn, austere, rough, and at times unpolished: he employs frequent repetitions, not for the sake of grace or elegance, but from the vehemence of passion and indignation. Whatever subject he treats of, that he sedulously pursues, from that he rarely departs, but cleaves as it were to it; whence the connection is in general evident and well preserved. In many respects he is perhaps excelled by the other prophets; but in that species of composition to which he seems by nature adapted, the forcible, the impetuous, the great and solemn,-not one of the sacred writers is superior to him. His diction is sufficiently perspicuous, all his obscurity, consists in the nature of the subject. Visions (as for instance, among others, those of Hosea, Amos, and Jeremiah) are necessarily dark and confused. The greater part of Ezekiel, towards the middle of the book especially, is poetical, whether we regard the matter or the diction." His periods, however, are frequently so rude, that Bishop Lowth expresses himself as being often at a loss how to pronounce concerning his performance in this respect. In another place the same learned prelate remarks, that Ezekiel should be oftener classed among the orators than the poets; and he is of opinion that, with respect to style, we may justly assign to Ezekiel the same rank among the Hebrews, as Homer, Simonides, and Eschylus hold among the Greeks.
Ch. xl. contains a description of the two outer courts, and of the cham-
Ch. xlviii. comprises a description of the several portions of land belong;
The points in these prophecies, which are principally worthy of attention, are the following:
1. That the prophet, more than one hundred miles distant from the scene, should have announced the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem on the very day it took place; and, like Jeremiah, should have constantly predicted the conquest and destruction of the city, and the carrying away of the inhabi
From this high praise of Bishop Lowth's, his learned annotator, Michaelis, dissents; and is so far from esteeming Ezekiel as equal to Isaiah in sublimity, that he is disposed to think the prophet displays more art and luxuriance in amplifying and decorating his subject, than is consistent with poetical fervour, or, indeed, with true sublimity. Michaelis further pronounces Ezekiel to be in general an imitator, who possesses the art of giving an air of novelty and ingenuity, not of grandeur and sublimity, to all his compositions; and is of opinion that, as the prophet lived at a period when the Hebrew language was visibly on the decline; and also that, if we compare him with the Latin poets who succeeded the Augustan age, we may find some resemblance in the style, something that indicates the old age of poetry. In these sentiments the English translator of Bishop Lowth's lectures partially acquiesces, observing that Ezekiel's fault is a want of neither novelty nor sublimity, but of grace and uniformity; while Eichhorn minutely discusses his claims to originality.4 Archbishop Newcome, however, has completely vindicated the prophet's style. He observes, with equal truth and judgment, that Ezekiel is not to be considered as the framer of those august and astonishing visions, and of those admirable poetical representations which he committed to writing; but as an instrument in the hands of God, who vouchsafed to reveal himself, through a long succession of ages, not only in divers parts constituting a magnificent and uniform whole, but also in different manners, as by voice, by dreams, by inspiration, and by plain or enigmatical vision. If he is circumstantial in describing the wonderful scenes which were presented to him in the visions of God, he should be regarded as a faithful representer of the divine revelations, for the purpose of information and instruction, and not as exhausting an exuberant fancy in minutely filling up an ideal V. Most biblical critics concur in opinion as to the excel-picture. The learned prelate thinks it probable that Buzi, lency and sublimity of Ezekiel's style. Grotius observes, that he possessed great erudition and genius; so that, setting aside his gift of prophecy, which is incomparable, he may
2. That he should have foreseen also the flight of Zedekiah through the broken walls at night, together with these circumstances; viz. that he should be overtaken by the Chaldæans, and that he should not be slain, but carried into their country, which, however, he should not see. This was verified by Nebuchadnezzar's causing his eyes to be put out. 3. That moreover, like Jeremiah, he should plainly predict the return of the Jews to their country, and their perseverance in the worship of God,-events so remote and in themselves improbable, and also the conquest of Idumæa by the Hebrews.
4. That he should have announced not only the demolition of Tyre, to be rebuilt no more (for the new city was founded upon an island), but also that its ruins should be thrown into the sea; a prediction which Alexander unconsciously verified.
5. Lastly, that like Jeremiah, he should have foretold the advent of Messiah the great son of David, at a period when David's family were deprived of royal dignity.
edly in the Revelation of St. John, who not only describes the heavenly sanctuary by representations taken from the Jewish temple (see Rev. xi. 19. xiv. 17. xv. 5. S.), but also transcribes several of Ezekiel's expressions (Rev. iv. 2, 3. 6. xi. 1, 2. xxi. 12. &c., xxii. 1, 2.); and borrows his allusions from the state of the first temple, not of the second temple which existed in our Saviour's time; as if the former had a more immediate reference to the times of the Gospel. Compare Rev. iv. 1. &c. with Ezek i. 6. et seq.
-Lowth on Ezek. xl.
1 Reeves and Lowth on Ezek. xl.
2 View of the Prophets, pp. 153, 154.
the prophet's father, had preserved his own family from the taint of idolatry, and had educated his son for the priestly office in all the learning of the Hebrews, and particularly in he study of their sacred books. Being a youth at the time of his captivity, a season of life when the fervour of imagination is natural in men of superior endowments,-his genius led him to amplification, like that of some of the Roman poets; though he occasionally shows himself capable of the austere and concise style, of which the seventh chapter is a remarkable instance. But the Divine Spirit did not overrule the natural bent of his mind. Variety is thus produced in the
Bishop Lowth's Lectures, vol. ii. pp. 89-95.
sacred writings. Nahum sounds the trumpet of war; Hosea when he treats of the advent of the Messiah, whom he is sententious, Isaiah sublime, Jeremiah pathetic, Ezekiel emphatically terms "the desire of all nations." copious. This diffuseness of manner in mild and affectionate exhortation, this vehement enlarging on the guilt and consequent sufferings of his countrymen, seems wisely adapted to their capacities and circumstances, and must have had a forcible tendency to awaken them from their lethargy.'
ON THE PROPHETS WHO FLOURISHED AFTER THE RETURN OF
§ 1. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET HAGGAI.
BEFORE CHRIST, 520-518.
I. NOTHING is certainly known concerning the tribe or birth-place of Haggai, the tenth in order of the minor prophets, but the first of the three who were commissioned to make known the divine will to the Jews after their return from captivity. The general opinion, founded on the assertion of the pseudo-Epiphanius, is that he was born at Babylon, and was one of the Jews who returned with Zerubbabel, in consequence of the edict of Cyrus. The same author affirms that he was buried at Jerusalem among the priests, whence some have conjectured that he was of the family of Aaron. The times of his predictions, however, are so distinctly marked by himself, that we have as much certainty on this point as we have with respect to any of the prophets.
II. The Jews, who were released from captivity in the first year of the reign of Cyrus (Ezra i. 1. et seq.), having returned to Jerusalem and commenced the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra ii. iii.), were interrupted in their undertakings by the neighbouring satraps, who contrived to prejudice the Persian monarch (the pseudo-Smerdis) against them (Ezra iv. 1. with 24.) until the second year of Darius. Discouraged by these impediments, the people ceased, for fourteen years, to prosecute the erection of the second temple, as if the time were not yet come, and applied themselves to the building of their own houses: but God, disposing that sovereign to renew the decree of Cyrus, raised up the prophet Haggai about the year 520 before Christ; and, in consequence of his exhortations, they resumed the work, which was completed in a few years.
Further, in order to encourage them to proceed in this undertaking, the prophet assured them from God, that the glory of this latter house should far exceed the glory of the former.
III. The book of the prophet Haggai comprises three distinct prophecies or discourses, viz.
DISCOURSE 1. The prophet reproves the delay of the people in rebuilding the temple; which neglect he denounces as the reason why they were punished with great drought and unproductive seasons. (i. 1-12.) He then encourages them to undertake the work, and promises them Divine assistance. (13-15.)
DISCOURSE 2. The prophet further encourages the builders by a promise, that the glory of the second temple should surpass that of the first; and that in the following year God would bless them with a fruitful harvest. (ii. 1-19.) This prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ honouring the second. temple with his presence, and there publishing his saving doctrine to the world. See Luke xix. 47. xx. 1. xxi. 38. John xviii. 20.2
DISCOURSE 3. The prophet foretells the setting up of the Messiah's kingdom under the name of Zerubbabel. (ii. 20—23.) IV. The style of this prophet is for the most part plain and prosaic, and vehement when he reproves; it is, however, interspersed with passages of much sublimity and pathos
1 Archbishop Newcome's Preface to his Translation of Ezekiel, pp. xxvii. xxviii. To justify the character above given, the learned prelate descends to particulars (which we have not room to specify), and gives opposite examples, not only of the clear, the flowing, and the nervous, but also of the sublime. He concludes his observations on the style of Ezekiel by stating it to be his deliberate opinion, that, if the prophet's "style is the old age of the Hebrew language and composition, it is a firm and vigor. ous one, and should induce us to trace its youth and manhood with the most assiduous attention." Ibid. pp. xxviii.-lxii. a W. Lowth's Commentary on Haggai.
§ 2. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH. Author and date.—II. Analysis of its contents.-III. Observations on its style.-IV. The last six chapters proved to be genuine.
BEFORE CHRIST, 520-518.
I. ALTHOUGH the names of Zechariah's father and grandfather are specified (Zech. i. 1.), it is not known from what tribe or family this prophet was descended, nor where he was born; but that he was one of the captives who returned to Jerusalem in consequence of the decree of Cyrus, is unquestionable. As he opened his prophetic commission in the eighth month of the second year of Darius the son of Hystaspes, that is, about the year 520 before the Christian æra, it is evident that he was contemporary with Haggai, and his authority was equally effectual in promoting the building of the temple. From an expression in ch. ii. 4. we have every reason to believe that Zechariah was called to the prophetic ministry when he was a young man.
II. The prophecy of Zechariah consists of two parts, the first of which concerns the events which were then taking place, viz. the restoration of the temple, interspersing predictions relative to the advent of the Messiah. The second part comprises prophecies relative to more remote events, particularly the coming of Jesus Christ, and the war of the Romans against the Jews.
PART I. contains the Prophecies delivered in the second Year of
DISCOURSE 4. Under the vision of a flying roll, the divine judg
DISCOURSE 5. Under the vision of the four chariots, drawn by several sorts of horses, are represented the succession of the Babylonians, Persians, Macedo-Greek and Roman empires (vi. 1-8.), and by the two crowns placed upon the head of Joshua are set forth primarily, the re-establishment of the civil and religious polity of the Jews under Zerubbabel and Joshua; and, secondarily but principally, the high-priesthood and kingdom of Christ, here emphatically termed the Branch (9-15.), who is to be both king and high-priest of the church of God.
PART 2. Prophecies delivered in the fourth Year of the Reign of Darius, (vii.-xiv.)
DISCOURSE 1. Some Jews having been sent to Jerusalem from the exiles then at Babylon, to inquire of the priests and prophets whether they were still bound to observe the fasts that had been instituted on account of the destruction of Jerusalem, and which had been observed during the captivity (vii. 1-3.), the prophet is commanded to take this occasion of enforcing upon them the weightier matters of the law, viz. judgment and mercy, lest the same calamities should befall them which had been inflicted upon their fathers for their neglect of those duties. (4-14.) In the event of their obedience, God promises the continuance of his favour (viii, 1—8.) i
storation of the Jews.
they are encouraged to go on with the building (9-17.), and are permitted to discontinue the observance of the fasts which they had kept during the captivity. (18-23.) DISCOURSE 2. contains predictions of the conquest of Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, by Alexander the Great (ix. 1-7.), and of the watchful providence of God over his temple in those troublesome times. (8.) Whence he takes occasion to describe, as in a parenthesis, the advent of Christ (9, 10. with Matt. xxi. 5. and John xii. 15.); and then returning to his former subject, he announces the conquest of the Jews, particularly of the Maccabees, over the princes of the Grecian monarchy. (11-17.) Prosperity is further promised to the Jews (x. 1-3.), and their victories over their enemies are again foretold. (4-12.) It is probable that this prophetic discourse remains to be fully accomplished in the general and final reDISCOURSE 3. predicts the rejection of the Jews for their rejection of Messiah, and valuing him and his labours at the base price of thirty pieces of silver. (xi.) This prediction was literally fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. (Compare Matt. xxvi. 14, 15. and xxvii. 3-10. with Zech. xi. 11-13.) The Jews themselves have expounded this prophecy of the DISCOURSE 4. comprises a series of prophecies, relating principally to the latter times of the Gospel. The former part of it (xii. 1-9.) announces the preservation of Jerusalem against an invasion in the last ages of the world, which most commentators think is that of Gog and Magog, more largely described in the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of Ezekiel. The grief of the Jews, for their fathers having crucified the Messiah, on their conversion, is then foretold (10--14.), as also the crucifixion itself, and the general conversion of the Jews. (xiii.) The destruction of their enemies, predicted at the beginning of this prophetic sermon, is again foretold (xiv. 1-15.); and the prophecy concludes with announcing the final conversion of all nations to the Gospel, and the prosperity of the church. (16—21.)
2. It is urged, that many things are mentioned in these chapters, which by no means correspond with Zechariah's time; as, when events are foretold, which had actually taken place before that time. But it may be questioned, whether those subjects of prophecy have been rightly understood; and whether that, which has been construed as having reference to past transactions, may not in reality terminate in others of a later period, and some perhaps which are yet to come.
3. Another argument is drawn from ch. xi., which contains a prophecy of the destruction of the temple and people of the Jews; a prophecy, "which (it has been said) is not agreeable to the scope of Zechariah's commission, who, together with his colleague Haggai, was sent to encourage the and to restore their commonwealth." This, it is granted, people, lately returned from captivity, to build their temple, was the general scope of Zechariah's commission in the first eight chapters; nor would it have been a fit time to foretell the destruction of both the temple and commonwealth, while they were but yet building. But, between the date of these first chapters and that of the succeeding ones, many circumstances might have occurred, and certainly did occur, to give Mes-rise to a commission of a very different complexion from the foregoing. The former are expressly dated in the second and fourth years of the reign of Darius; to the latter, no date at all is annexed. Darius is supposed to have reigned thirty-six years; and the Jews have a tradition that the three prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, did not die before the last year of that king's reign. Adınitting, then, Zechariah to have prophesied again towards the close of his life, he may well be supposed to have published without any incongruity, after such an interval, what would not altogether have accorded with the period and purport of his first com mission. And as there is good reason to believe that this was the case; so upon this ground we may also not improbably conclude him to have been that very Zechariah of whom our Saviour spake (Matt. xxiii. 35.) as slain between the temple and the altar. For he was, according to our Saviour's from what is said of him he might naturally be expecteddescription, the son of Barachias, and comes in-where, at the close of that series of prophets (for there were none after him until the coming of Christ) who were put to death in the faithful discharge of their duty. That he was become obnoxious to his countrymen, may be collected from ch. xi. 8. And, if the records of the Old Testament are silent concerning his death, let it be remembered that it was a very small part of them, if any, that was written after that event.
III. Zechariah is the longest of the twelve minor prophets. His style, like that of Haggai, is for the most part prosaic, though more obscure towards the beginning on account of his types and visions. But the difficulties arising from his alleged obscurity may be accounted for by the fact, "that some of his predictions relate to matters which are still involved in the womb of futurity: no wonder, then, that these fall not within the reach of our perfect comprehension. Others there are, which we have good reason to believe have al4. Lastly, upon the same supposition, the allowed dif ready been fulfilled, but do not appear with such a degree of evidence, as they probably would have done, if we had been ference of style and manner may be accounted for, not only better informed concerning the time and facts to which they ferent age of the author; who may well be credited to have as arising from the diversity of the subject, but from the dif relate. With respect to the emblems and types that are ex-written with more dignity in his advanced years, than when hibited, they are most of them of easy and determinate ap- he was but a youth, as he is said to be in ch. ii. 4. plication. And in favour of the importance of his subject matter, it must be acknowledged that, next to Isaiah, Zechariah is the most evangelical of all the prophets, having more frequent and more clear and direct allusions to the character and coming of the Messiah, and his kingdom, than any of the rest. Nor in his language and composition do we find any particular bias to obscurity, except that the quickness and suddenness of the transitions are sometimes apt to confound the boundaries of discourse, so as to leave the less attentive reader at a loss to whom the several parts of it are to be ascribed. But upon the whole we shall find the diction remarkably pure, the construction natural and perspicuous, and the style judiciously varied according to the nature of the subject; simple and plain in the narrative and historical I. Author and date.-II. Occasion and scope of his prophecy. parts; but in those that are wholly prophetical, the latter chapters in particular, rising to a degree of elevation and grandeur scarcely inferior to the sublimest of the inspired writings."
IV. The diversity of style observable in the writings of this prophet has induced many modern critics to conclude that the last six chapters could not have been written by Zechariah: but their objections, however formidable in appearance, admit of an easy and satisfactory solution.
1. It is alleged that the evangelist Matthew (xxvii. 9.) cites a passage now found in Zech. xi. 13. as spoken, not by Zechariah, but by Jeremiah. But it is more probable (as we have already shown in the first volume of this work), that the name of Jeremiah has slipped into the text through some mistake of the transcribers.
1 Dr Blayney's Translation of Zechariah, Prek. Disc. pp. xv. xvi.
Upon the whole this conclusion may be drawn; that setting aside the doubtful authority of St. Matthew's text, there is nothing else to be found sufficient to invalidate the title of Zechariah to the chapters in question; and, conse quently, that it was not written by Jeremiah, as Mede, Dr Hammond, and others have supposed, nor before the time of that prophet, as Archbishop Newcome conjectured, whose opinion was adopted by Archbishop Secker, and also by Doederlein.
3. ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET MALACHI.
-III. Analysis of its contents.-IV. Style.
BEFORE CHRIST, 436--420.
I. CONCERNING Malachi, the last of the minor prophets (which name signifies my angel or my messenger), so little is known, that it has been doubted whether his name be a proper name, or only a generic name, signifying the angel of the Lord, a messenger, a prophet. From a comparison of Haggai (i. 13.) with Malachi (iii. 1.), it appears, that in those times the appellation of Malach-Jehovah, or the messenger of the Lord, was given to the prophets. The Septuagint translators have rendered Malachi his angel instead of my
2 Dr. Blayney's Translation of Zechariah, pp. 35-37. The genuineness. of the latter part of the prophecy of Zechariah is satisfactorily proved, by a minute examination of its language, style, poetical structure, argument and scope, by Dr. F. B. Koester, in his Meletemata Critica in Zecharia Prophetæ Partem posteriorem, cap. ix.-xiv. pro tuenda ejus authentia. 8vo. Gottingae, 1819.