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Descriptions for the Biblical Books- 2

Introduction:

What we are presenting in the pages under this title are the details surrounding the authorship, dating, chronology and so on of the 66 books of the Bible. Please keep in mind that we do not agree 100% with the information given here. This information is for research and study purpose only and should not be taken as gospel truth. There are so many details we do not know, for example the exact authors of each book, because, as we believe, God wrote all the books using humans to pen his words in human form.

God did not use any supernatural power to make the books appear full of content magically like some wizard might. Instead he inspired his human writers and gave them the words he wanted his people and the world to know. Some people argue that the biblical authors were not secretaries taken dictation thus the biblical words were mixed with their personal thoughts. This is hardly the truth and is a weak attempt to ignore biblical instructions those people do not like.

We highly recommend that after reading these pages you research the details of each book to get a fuller, better picture of the nature surrounding each work. We may not know who the human authors were but we know that God wrote the Bible and that it is purely a divine book.

All information is taken from: Vol. 12 of the Christian Library Series of AGES Software Rio, WI USA Version 1.0 © 2001.

These pages are divided into 4 parts with 2 parts to each testament.

Part Two: Ecclesiastes to Malachi

Ecclesiastes

THE book is called in the Hebrew Koheleth, a title taken from its opening sentence, “The words of Koheleth, the son of David, King in Jerusalem.” In the Greek and Latin Versions it is entitled ‘Ecclesiastes,’ which Jerome elucidates by remarking that in Greek a person is so called who gathers the congregation, or ecclesia. Aquila transliterates the word, Kwle>q; what Symmachus gave is uncertain, but probably Paroimiasth>v, ‘Proverbmonger.’

The Venetian Greek has JH jEkklhsia>stria and JH jEkklhsia>zousa. In modern versions the name is usually ‘Ecclesiastes; or, The Preacher.’ Luther boldly gives ‘The Preacher Solomon.’ This is not satisfactory rendering to modern ears; and, indeed, it is difficult to find a term which will adequately represent the Hebrew word. Koheleth is a participle feminine from a root kahal (whence the Greek kale>w, Latin calo, and English “call”), which means, “to call, to assemble,” especially for religious or solemn purposes…

The universal consent of antiquity attributed the authorship of Ecclesiastes to Solomon. The title assumed by the writer, “Son of David, King in Jerusalem,” was considered sufficient warrant for the assertion, and no suspicion of its uncertainty ever crossed the minds of commentators and readers from primitive to mediaeval times. Whenever the book is referred to, it is always noted as a work of Solomon. The Greek and Latin Fathers alike agree in this matter. The four Gregories, Athanasius, Ambrose, Jerome, Theodoret, Olympiodorus, Augustine, and others, are here of one consent. The Jews, too, although they had some doubts concerning the orthodoxy of the contents, never disputed the authorship. The first to throw discredit upon the received opinion was Luther, who, in his ‘Table Talk,’ while ridiculing the traditional view, boldly asserts that the work was composed by Sirach, in the time of the Maccabees…

Ecclesiastes has been received without controversy in the Christian Church as a book of the Bible. In all the extant catalogues, conciliar and private, it occurs undisputed. The Jewish Church, however, has not been quite so unanimous in its full acceptance; for although it is found in all the lists of sacred books, and had its place among the five rolls (Megilloth), there was, towards the end of the first Christian century, some hesitation in rabbinical schools to recognize its complete inspiration, and to commend its public recitation. Objections were made on the ground of apparent contradictions contained in different parts, of its want of harmony with other portions of Holy Scripture, and of certain heretical statements…

The unity and integrity of our book have been called in question, chiefly by those who have noted the apparent contradictions which it contains, and have failed to apprehend the author’s standpoint, and his reason for the introduction of these anomalies. Thus exception is taken by some against the seeming want of connection between <210413>Ecclesiastes 4:13, 14 and verses 15, 16; others have discovered dislocations in various passages, and wished to arrange the work in different fashion, according to their view of the writer’s intention. Others, again, have detected interpolations and later additions…

We may add that no doubt concerning the genuineness of the epilogue was ever raised by the Jewish schools which hesitated to allow full inspiration to Ecclesiastes. Indeed, it was the undoubted orthodoxy of the closing verses which finally overcame all opposition…

Song of Solomon

THERE is no book of Scripture on which more commentaries have been written and more diversities of opinion expressed than this short poem of eight chapters. That it was held in great veneration by ancient Jewish authorities; that it was received as part of the canon of the Old Testament, not only by the Jews but by all the early Christian writers, with very few and insignificant exceptions; that it is acknowledged by those who are entirely disagreed as to its interpretation to possess features of extraordinary literary excellence, and to be not unworthy, as a composition, of the wise king whose name it bears, — are reasons amply sufficient to justify the largest amount of attention which can be given to it, and to condemn the neglect to which it has been consigned by a great proportion of the Christian Church in modern times…

The title is not decisive, “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” It may be later in date than the book itself, and added by another hand; but the fact that Solomon is not described by any royal title is in favour of the antiquity of the words, and the opinion of critics is almost unanimous that they may be contemporaneous with the book itself. The meaning undoubtedly is, “The song which Solomon composed,” not “The song which celebrates Solomon’s love.” When we examine the internal evidence, however, we are left in little doubt that the work is at least of the Solomonic period, and is more likely to have been the production of one whose literary qualities were equal to it than of an author who, while capable of such a masterpiece, still remains unknown…

While such allusions do not absolutely prove that King Solomon himself was the author, they confirm the likelihood that it dates from his age, and show that it breathed much of his spirit, which was both  intensely Jewish and cosmopolitan, dignified and human, profound and poetic. Again, there is a considerable resemblance between the language of Solomon’s Song and that of the Book of Proverbs…

Critics have been almost as much divided on the literary questions arising out of this remarkable book as theological writers have been on the interpretation of its meaning. Some have regarded it as a collection of love songs, as Herder the great German poet and philosopher, whose interesting and able work on the subject is entitled, ‘Love Songs, the most Ancient and Beautiful from the East’ (published in 1778). The old name given to the book, ‘Canticles,’ lends some weight to that view. The fact that no persons are introduced by name, and that the connection between the different parts of the poem is difficult to trace, seems to suggest an anthology of songs rather than a composition with unity of method and purpose…

No one can accept the Song of Solomon as a book of Scripture, the canonical authority of which is undoubted, without forming some theory of interpretation which shall justify the position of such a book amongst the sacred writings. It will be evident that our fundamental principles in respect to the nature and authority of inspired books will modify the views we hold on any particular portion of Scripture. If the sacred writings are no more than a collection of Jewish literature, in which there would naturally be great variety, and not necessarily in every instance a lofty spiritual aim, then we can regard the Song of Solomon as Herder did, as a collection of beautiful Eastern songs, and there is no need to seek in them either unity of purpose or special significance. But it is more difficult to reconcile such a view with the facts than to find a tenable theory of interpretation.

 It is simply incredible that such a book, if merely of literary or moral worth, should be introduced into the collection of Jewish Scriptures, to be an inexplicable exception to the whole volume. All other books have some distinct and easily recognizable connection with the religious character and peculiar national position of the Jewish people. Not one is where it is because it is a piece of literature. Why should the Song of Solomon be an exception? Moreover, the simple fact that Jews themselves have always sought for an interpretation of the book shows that they were not satisfied with the mere literary value of it…

Isaiah

Isaiah’s name. The name borne by this great prophet was really Yesha’-yâhu, which signifies “the Salvation of Jehovah.” The name was not an uncommon one. It was borne by one of the heads of the singers in the time of David (<132503>1 Chronicles 25:3, 15), by a Levite of the same period (<132625>1 Chronicles 26:25), by one of the chief men who returned to Jerusalem with Ezra (<150807>Ezra 8:7), by a Benjamite mentioned in Nehemiah (<161107>Nehemiah 11:7), and others. The form may be compared with that of Khizki-yâhu, or Hezekiah, which meant “the Strength of Jehovah, “and Tsidki-yâhu, or Zedekiah, which meant “the Righteousness of Jehovah.” It was one of singular appropriateness in the case of the great prophet, since “the salvation of Jehovah” was the subject which Isaiah was especially commissioned to set forth…

His date. The prophet tells us that he “saw a vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah” (<230101>Isaiah 1:1). It would follow from this, that, even if he began his prophetic career as early as the twentieth year of his age, he must have been born twenty years before Uzziah’s death, or in B.C. 779. He certainly lived till the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, or B.C. 715, and probably outlived that monarch, who died in B.C. 699-8. It is not unlikely that he was even contemporary for some years with Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son; so that we may, perhaps, assign him, conjecturally, the space between B.C. 780 and B.C. 690, which would give him a lifetime of ninety years…

His call. Isaiah relates, in his sixth chapter, a very solemn call which he received from God “in the year that King Uzziah died.” It is thought by some that this was his original call to the prophetical office.f1 But the majority of commentators are of a different opinion. They note that the original call of a prophet, where recorded, naturally occupies the first place in his work, and that there is no conceivable reason for Isaiah’s having postponed to his sixth chapter an account of an event which ex hypothesi preceded his first. It would follow that the original call of the prophet is unrecorded, as is the case with most prophets; e.g. Daniel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi…

His death. The tradition of the rabbis concerning Isaiah’s death placed it in the reign of Manasseh, and declared it to have been a most horrible and painful martyrdom.f4 Isaiah, having resisted some of Hanasseh’s idolatrous acts and ordinances, was seized by his orders, and, having been fastened between two planks, was killed by being “sawn asunder.” The mention of this mode of punishment in the Epistle to the Hebrews is thought by many to be an allusion to Isaiah’s fate (<581137>Hebrews 11:37)…

The Book of Isaiah, as it has come down to us, presents a certain composite character. To the critical and the uncritical it is equally apparent that it divides itself into three main parts, each with characteristics of its own. The first thirty-five chapters are wholly, or almost wholly, prophetic — that is to say, they are didactic, admonitory, hortatory, containing next to no narrative — a declaration to the Israelites of the “word of the Lord,” or of the will of God with respect to them. These thirty-five prophetical chapters are followed by four historical ones (Isaiah 36.-39.), which contain a plain and simple narrative of certain events in the reign of Hezekiah. The work concludes with a third part, which is, like the first, prophetical, and which extends to twenty-seven chapters (from Isaiah 40. to Isaiah 66.)…

The general arrangement of the book, by whomsoever it was compiled, which will be considered later,f11 seems to be chronological. All the notes of time contained in Part I. are in their proper order,f12 and all are anterior to the period considered in Part II., which again belongs probably to an earlier date than the composition of Part III. It is not clear, however, that chronological order has always been observed in the arrangement of the sections whereof Parts I. and III. are composed. The prophecies were apparently delivered orally at the first, and reduced to writing subsequently, sometimes at a considerable interval. In their earliest written form they were thus a number of separate documents…

It is generally allowed that Isaiah, as a writer, transcends all the other Hebrew prophets. “In Isaiah,” says Ewald, “we see prophetic authorship reaching its culminating point. Everything conspired to raise him to an elevation to which no prophet, either before or after, could as writer attain. Among the other prophets, each of the more important ones is distinguished by some one particular excellence, and some one peculiar talent; in Isaiah, all kinds of talent and all beauties of prophetic discourse meet together, so as mutually to temper and qualify each other; it is not so much any single feature that distinguishes him, as the symmetry and perfection of the whole…

The question whether “Isaiah” be the work of one writer or more, is to be regarded rather as one of literary interest than of theological importance. Nobody doubts but that the “book” existed in the form in which we have it during the time of our Lord and his apostles; and it is thus our present book which has their sanction as a portion of the inspired Word of God…

Jeremiah

THE name of Jeremiah at once suggests the ideas of trouble and lamentation; and not without too much historical ground. Jeremiah was, in fact, not only “the evening star of the declining day of prophecy,” but the herald of the dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth. The outward show of things, however, seemed to promise a calm and peaceful ministry to the youthful prophet. The last great political misfortune mentioned (in <143311>2 Chronicles 33:11, not in Kings) before his time is the carrying captive of King Manasseh to Babylon, and this is also the last occasion on which a king of Assyria is recorded to have interfered in the affairs of Judah. Manasseh, however, we are told, was restored to his kingdom, and, apostate and persecutor as he was, found mercy from the Lord God of his fathers. Before he closed his eyes forever a great and terrible event occurred — the sister kingdom of the ten tribes was finally destroyed, and one great Burden of prophecy found its fulfillment…

But, before entering upon this subject of the relations of Jeremiah to the Babylonians, we have first to consider a question of some importance for the study of his writings, viz. whether his references to foreign invaders are covered entirely by the Babylonian aggression. Is it not possible that an earlier danger may have left its impress on his pages (and also on those of Zephaniah)? Herodotus tells us that the Scythians were masters of Asia for twenty-eight years (?), that they advanced to the borders of Egypt; and that, on their return, some of them plundered the temple of Ascalon (1.100).

The date of the Scythian invasion of Palestine can, it is true, only be fixed approximately. The Canons of Eusebius place it in Olympiad 36.2, equivalent to B.C. 635 (St. Jerome’s Latin version), or Olympiad 37.1, equivalent to B.C. 632 (Armenian version). At any rate, it ranges between about B.C. 634 and 618, i.e. between the accession of Cyaxares and the death of Psamnutichus (see Herod., 1:103-105),or more precisely, perhaps, between B.C. 634 and 625 (accepting Abydenus’s account of the fall of Nineveh). True, one could wish for better evidence than that of Herodotus (loc. cit.) and Justin (2. 3). But the statements of these writers have not yet been disproved, and they suit the chronological conditions of the prophecies before us. A reference to the Babylonian invasion seems to be excluded in the case of Zephaniah, by the facts that in B.C. 635-625 Babylonia was still under the supremacy of Assyria, and that from neither country could any danger to Palestine then be apprehended…

The question naturally suggests itself, Do we possess the prophecies of Jeremiah in the form in which they were delivered by him from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah onwards? In reply, let us first of all look to the analogy of the occasional prophecies of Isaiah. These, it can be reasonably well proved, have not come down to us in the form in which they were delivered, but have grown together out of several smaller books or prophetic collections. Analogy is in favor of a somewhat similar origin of the Book of Jeremiah, which was, at any rate once, much smaller. The collection which formed the nucleus of the present book may be conjectured to have been as follows: — <240101>Jeremiah 1:1, 2; 1:4 9:22; 10:17 — 12:6; 25.; 46:1 — 49:33; 26.; 36.; 45. These were, perhaps, the contents of the roll referred to in Jeremiah 36, if at least, with the great majority of commentators, we give a strict interpretation to ver. 2 of that chapter, in which the command is given to write in the roll “all the words that I have spoken unto thee... from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.”…

Any chronological arrangement of the reigns of the Jewish kings must be largely conjectural and open to criticism, and it is not perfectly clear that the writers of the narrative books in the Old Testament, or those who edited their works, intended to give a critically accurate chronology adequate for historical purposes. The most tedious problems relate to the times previous to Jeremiah. One difficulty, however, may be pointed out in the chronology of the concluding reigns (see Robertson Smith, ‘The Prophets of Israel,’ p. 415). According to <122336>2 Kings 23:36, Jehoiakim reigned eleven years. This agrees with <242501>Jeremiah 25:1, which makes the fourth year of Jehoiakim synchronize with the first of Nebuchadnezzar (comp. <243201>Jeremiah 32:1). But, according to <244602>Jeremiah 46:2, the battle of Carehemish took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which was the last year of Nabe-polassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar. This would make the first year of Nebuchadnezzar synchronize with the fifth year of Jehoiakim, and we should have to conclude that the latter king reigned not eleven but twelve years…

Lamentations

THE Book of Lamentations has no author’s name attached to it in the Hebrew Bible, which, indeed, places it far away from Jeremiah in the socalled K’thubhim or Hagiographa, between Ruth and Koheleth (Ecclesiastes). It is the Septuagint which, in some manuscripts, appends “of Jeremiah” to the descriptive title “Lamentations,” at the same time grouping it with the prophecies of Jeremiah and the (apocryphal) Book of Baruch. But before we can form an opinion as to the justice of this view of the authorship, and the romantic tradition connected with it (see below), we must first of all take a general survey of the book and gather up all its internal evidence as to date and origin; and also we must illuminate this by the results of a critical study of the Old Testament…

The common theme of the Lamentations is the terrible fate which befell Jerusalem when the Chaldeans captured the city (B.C. 588) and carried away its inhabitants (less fortunate in one sense than those of the country districts) to Babylon. That they were all written at the same time is, however, to say the least, improbable; the third, and in a still higher degree the fifth, will be found to present some striking points of dissimilarity to the rest….

Let us first of all consider the internal evidence, and let us test the theory of Jeremiah’s authorship by its applicability to the third chapter of the book, as the part which, upon the face of it, can most easily be claimed as Jeremiah’s. It will be readily admitted that, if we take the poem literally, it points to Jeremiah more distinctly than to any other known individual. The deep affection which the writer betrays for his people, his sensitive nature, and the bitter sufferings which he (apparently) describes himself to have undergone, correspond to peculiarities which we have already had to notice in the character and life of Jeremiah. Some of the characteristic expressions, thoughts, or images of Jeremiah’s have also been pointed out in this chapter; compare, for instance, <250347>Lamentations 3:47, 48 with <240406>Jeremiah 4:6, 20, 6:1, 14 (“breach” equivalent to “destruction”), 9:1, 13:17, 14:17 (incessant tears); <250364>Lamentations 3:64-66 with <241120>Jeremiah 11:20 (appeal for vengeance)…

The external evidence for the authorship of Jeremiah consists of a tradition, accepted, perhaps, by Josephus (‘Antiquities,’ 10:5, 1), and certainly by the Talmud (‘Baba Bathra,’ fol. 15, col. 1) and the  later Jewish and Christian scholars. The earliest authority for it is a statement prefixed to the Septuagint (and repeated with a few additional words in the Vulgate) in the following terms: — “And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said.” This cannot, however, have formed part of the Hebrew text of Lamentations, else the Massoretic editors of the text (who beyond reasonable doubt believed Jeremiah to be the author of the book) would certainly have handed it on to us. It has, indeed, been suggested that the compiler of Chronicles attributed the book to Jeremiah, because he reports that “Jeremiah lamented for Josiah,” and that his words (apparently) “are written in the Lamentations” (<143525>2 Chronicles 35:25)…

Before we conclude, let us briefly review our position. The first, second, and fourth chapters of Lamentations may conceivably be by the same author; and though that author is certainly not Jeremiah, yet he is probably acquainted, whether by the ear or by the eye, with the prophecies of Jeremiah. He was contemporary with the fall of Jerusalem, and indited these elegies not long after for a liturgical purpose. It is, however, equally possible that they are the work of different authors, belonging to the same circle or school of literary craftsmen.

About the same time, or a little later, the fifth and last seems to have been written, and very certainly not by the author of any of the foregoing Lamentations. The date of the third elegy may have been as early as that of the others, or it may have been written at some later time; — the personification of the people is thought by many critics to be a characteristic of those quiet literary men among the Jewish exiles in Babylon, to one of whom they attribute most if not all of the second part of the Book of Isaiah…

Ezekiel

When Ezekiel entered on his calling as a prophet in B.C. 595, the northern kingdom of Israel had for upwards of a hundred years ceased to exist, while the final overthrow of Judah, its southern “sister,” was rapidly approaching. When Ezekiel was born, in BC. 625, in the eighteenth year of Josiah, it seemed as if bettor days wore about to dawn for both this land and people…

A glance into the Book of Ezekiel shows that the prophetic utterances composing it have not been thrown together at random, but set down in accordance with a well considered plan…

The genuineness of Ezekiel has never been seriously challenged. The earlier attacks of Gabler, Oeder and Vogel, and Corrodi on its individual portions, equally with the contention of Zunz that, as a whole, it belongs to the Persian age, are dismissed by the best criticism as unworthy of consideration; while De Wette’s opinion is endorsed by all competent scholars, that Ezekiel wrote down everything with his own hand. Even Kuenen, who suspects the historicity of several of its paragraphs, admits that “we possess in the Book of Ezekiel a review written by the prophet himself” (‘The Religion of Israel,’ 2:105); in this agreeing with Bleek, who regards it as “tolerably certain that Ezekiel himself prepared this compilation, and that therefore no utterances are admitted into it which are not Ezekiel’s own” (‘Introduction to the Old Testament,’ 2:117). The only points with reference to which divergence of sentiment exists are the dates at which and the manner in which this compilation was formed — whether its various utterances were written down before or after they were published, and whether all or only some or none were orally delivered…

With reference to the probable date of composition, the latest fixed upon by Kuenen and Smend is that of the twenty-fifth year of the Captivity; and at this clare all critics agree the passage (Ezekiel 40-48.) must be placed. The only reason discoverable for holding that Ezekiel 1-24, were not composed before that year, or at least not before the destruction of Jerusalem, is the difficulty, on the contrary hypothesis, of getting rid of the supernatural or predictive element in prophecy. “One must allow,” writes Smend, “that in Ezekiel 1-24, many a word stands exactly as Ezekiel spoke it; but, on the other hand, it is only literary fiction when Jerusalem’s downfall is represented as still future, as in <261302>Ezekiel 13:2, etc., and 22:30, etc. The prediction is generally in the strongest way influenced by the fulfilment; step by step there meet us vaticinia ex eventu, as in <261110>Ezekiel 11:10 and 12:12…

The canonicity of Ezekiel has seldom been impugned. That it found a place in Nehemiah’s collection of “the acts of the kings, and the prophets, and of David, and the epistles of the kings concerning the holy gifts” (2 Macc. 2:13), may be assumed. It appeared in the translation of the LXX. which was issued B.C. 280. Josephus (‘Contra Apion,’ 1:8) numbers it among the sacred books that in his day were regarded as canonical, though he also speaks (‘Ant.,’ 10:5. 1) of Ezekiel having written two books instead of one…

Though presumably nothing was further from the prophet’s mind than to compose a treatise on dogmatics, it is certain there is no book of the Old Testament in which the theological views of the author shine out with greater clearness than they do in this. So generally is this fact recognized, that Ezekiel has been pronounced the first dogmatic theologian of the Old Testament, and as such compared to Paul, who bears the same character and holds the same position in relation to the New (Cornill). An instructive essay of some dimensions might easily be prepared on the theology of Ezekiel; nothing more can be attempted in the closing paragraphs of this introduction than to outline the teaching it supplies on the subjects of God, the Messiah, man, the kingdom of God, and the end of all things…

Daniel

At all events, this is clear — no conclusion against the authenticity of Daniel can be based on the want of Eastern forms in the present Massoretic text. This may be due to the modification introduced by copyists, or may even be a proof of antiquity…

Formerly it was imagined that Babylonia was the country of the Chaldeans, and Babylon their capital. Now we find that the Chaldeans were freebooting tribes that had intruded themselves from the desert into the fertile and cultivated territories of Mesopotamia and Babylonia, mainly the latter. They were Semites, and therefore to a degree the kinsmen of the Babylonians, yet by habits and history they were quite distinct from them.

When they penetrated into Babylonia, they gradually spread themselves through the land, erecting fortified strongholds in which to shelter their predatory bands. These were generally known by the name of the chief that had originally led them into the land, prefixed by the word bit, or “house of.” From these centres they oppressed the unwarlike Babylonians, who were only preserved from annihilation by the walls that surrounded their cities…

Two things are to a certain extent regarded as proved by external references to a book — its date, and the extent of the effect it produced. In regard to both of these, there are various considerations which ought to modify our conclusions. We are not to look upon the earliest indisputable reference to a book as approximately the date at which it came into existence; it really only affords a limit determining the latest date we may ascribe to it, but decides nothing as to how early it may be. Quotation proves that the book quoted must have come into existence before the book in which it is quoted, but does not prove how long before…

The literature of the period most nearly contemporary with the traditional date of Daniel is by no means extensive, and is not of a character to lend itself to the act of quotation…

The resemblance between the prayer in Nehemiah 9. and that in Daniel 9. is too great to be accidental. It is impossible to settle with any certainty which is the earlier, but the greater elaboration of the prayer in Nehemiah is a presumption against its being the earlier…

Outside the deutero-canonical books of the Apocrypha the earliest reference to Daniel, acknowledged practically by all to be indubitable, is to be found in the ‘Oracula Sibyllina,’ 3:396-400…

Although Daniel is not referred to by Philo — a thing easily to be understood by the subjects treated and the methods employed by this writer — Daniel is largely quoted by Josephus, his later contemporary…

In regard to the first question, it has been assumed that the Book of Daniel has been put among the K’thubim, and not among the prophets, because its date of composition was later than that of any of the prophetic books. Further, that it was placed late among the K’thubim, because even among these late books it was the latest. These statements, we need hardly say, apply only to the Massoretic arrangement…

It is clear if we could fix the date at which the canon was closed; then, as Daniel is included in the canon, it must be dated before that event. But further, the date at which the Jews decided that certain books formed, and alone formed, their canon of sacred books, does not determine the latest date at which a book could be admitted to it. The Christian canon is by many regarded as fixed by the Council of Laodicaea. No one would pretend that any books were admitted into the canon of the Fathers of Laodicaea which they knew to have been composed but a few years before their own day. If we regard that as spurious, and look to the Third Council of Carthage, still the same thing holds. The books, while thus declared to be canonical, were regarded as having originated some three centuries before. To find the date at which the canon was fixed would only supply a lower limit. This date is very difficult to determine — difficult, that is to say, to any one who will not determine the date simply to suit his prejudices…

It seems, then, that somewhere about the end of the Persian rule, that is to say, about the time the Talmudists place the great synagogue, the canon was fixed. The principles on which they selected the books which were to form the canon seem to have been those laid down by Josephus — that the book must be reputed to have been composed before the death of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and to have been the work of prophets. If this is granted — and, in the light of the evidence, it is impossible reasonably to resist it — the Book of Daniel must certainly date so much before the end of the Persian period, that its claim to belong to the Babylonian period could not be challenged at the time. At all events, the date assumed by the critical school, viz. B.C. 165, is definitely to be put aside as clearly false…

As our readers will have seen, the Introduction to Daniel is in the main a discussion of the question of its authenticity. Let us, in conclusion, sum up the results we have reached. There are two clearly marked parties — the traditional and the critical. The one, the traditional party, maintain that the Book of Daniel is a record of facts, in the main vouched for by Daniel himself, who, according to the traditional view, is an actual historic character. The other, the critical party, declare the Book of Daniel to be a religious novel, written in the days of the Maccabees. Its purpose is to encourage the Jews in their conflict against Epiphanes. For this object the writer exhibits Epiphanes under the names of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius the Mode, and in the person of Daniel presents us with the picture of the ideal Jew in the court of a heathen prince. Daniel is chosen because his name indicates the character, or because the characteristics assigned to Daniel in the prophecy of Ezekiel suit the position the author wishes to represent his ideal Jew occupying. Further, the history of Daniel is modelled on that of Joseph…

Hosea

IN the Book of Hosea we have a summary of what the prophet taught and felt during his official career of some thirty years. His lot was cast in mournful times. If he did not live to see the actual destruction of the kingdom of Israel, he beheld it in prophetic vision a very short time before the terrible consummation; and the causes that led to the overthrow were plain and open to his clear insight…

The genuineness of the prophecies of Hosea has never been widely called in question, nor has the book that bears his name been successfully distributed among several authors differing in character, culture, and date — a division of labor, which has played a great part in the criticism of other prophets. All we know about Hosea is supplied by himself, and the information is of the scantiest nature…

The only fact in the prophet’s life with which we are acquainted is his marriage with a woman called Gomer at God’s command (<280102>Hosea 1:2, etc.): “Go, take unto thee,” said God to him, “a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms,” by which union he was to offer to his people a symbolical representation of their unfaithfulness and of God’s forbearance. The transaction has seemed to many so unnatural and revolting that they have refused to admit the literal fulfillment of the command, and relegate the whole matter to the regions of allegory, drama, or vision…

We know nothing of the latter days of Hosea. It is probable that he finished his life in Judaea, as the preservation of his book amid the ruin of Samaria is thus more easily accounted for. The place and date of his death are equally unknown. A tomb is shown as his between Nablus and Es-salt; but there is no ground for supposing that it has ever contained the prophet’s remains…

In the title, the genuineness of which is generally allowed, Hosea is said to have prophesied “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, King of Israel.” The statement seems to be plain enough till it is examined carefully; it is then seen to need some elucidation. Uzziah began to reign (if we accept the dates ascertained by Assyrian monuments) B.C. 792, and died in B.C. 740, and sixteen years each being allotted to Jotham and Ahaz, and Hezekiah’s first regnal year being assumed to be B.C. 708, — thus, supposing that Hosea began his career in Uzziah’s first year, at the age of twenty (which, indeed, is at least ten years too young), and continued it for a year or two in Hezekiah’s time, he must have been one hundred and five in the early part of that monarch’s reign, and his ministry must have lasted between eighty and ninety years; while, if we consider that he prophesied till the close of Hezekiah’s life, the duration of his ministry is inconceivable and absurd…

A limitation is added by the introduction of the name of Jeroboam II., who reigned from B.C. 790 to B.C. 749; so that we may conclude that Hosea entered upon his office during some part of Uzziah’s reign which was contemporary with Jeroboam, or about B.C. 755, which was some six years before its close. This reckoning would allow about fifty years for the duration of Hosea’s prophetical life. But late discoveries have given reason to suppose that Jotham was joint sovereign with his father, and that Ahaz also was sole monarch for a very short time. This alters Hezekiah’s date from B.C. 708 to B.C. 728, and allows for the prophet’s ministry some thirty years…

When we said above that the genuineness of the title is generally allowed, we did not mean that it had never been questioned, but that the balance of authority was greatly in its favor…

“Hosea is concise, and speaks in detached sentences.” This is one reason of the obscurity of his writings. Conciseness, combined with a fullness of meaning which needs much expansion to be intelligible, occasions perplexity and confusion. The truth is that the prophet feels too deeply to express himself calmly; the sorrow and the indignation within him force utterance, without regard to logical connection or careful arrangement…

Joel

THE prophecy of Joel is concerned with a natural calamity which had befallen his country, and from which, as his text, he educes a call to repentance, seeing in it the harbinger of the great day of judgment. Upon their repentance the people are promised present safety and blessing, and a future outpouring of the Spirit, not confined to them only, accompanied with a judgment on heathen nations, after which shall ensue an era of holiness and peace. This is the subject-matter of the book, stated generally…

“Joel the son of Pethuel” (in the Septuagint, “Bethuel”) — that is all that we know for certain concerning this prophet; every other detail about him is inferential or conjectural…

Pseudo- Epiphanius, who, in his ‘Lives of the Prophets.’ gives many legendary stories concerning these personages asserts (bk 2, 245) that he was of the tribe of Reuben, and born at Bethom, or Bethhoron, identified with Beit Ur, a place ten miles north-west of Jerusalem. Here, too, he is said to have been buried. We know not the grounds on which this tradition rests.

Equally insecure is the opinion held by many that he was a priest or Levite; the only argument in favour of the notion being that he often mentions the offerings and festivals of the temple service; while, on the other hand, he addresses the priests as a class to which he did not belong…

But when we come to inquire the date of our prophet, we are at once landed in a very difficult question. Joel himself tells us nothing definite concerning this matter. He does not, as so many of his brother-prophets do, say under what king or kings he prophesied; and we are left to gather our conclusions from internal evidence. How uncertain this is, and how likely to lead one astray, may be inferred from the widely differing results at which critics have arrived. Some consider Joel to be the earliest of all the prophets; others regard him as the latest, alleging that he composed his book after Nehemiah’s reformation, and that the prophecy is only a concoction of earlier writings, especially of Ezekiel (see Merx, ‘Die Proph. des Joel’)…

Amos

AT the time when Amos prophesied both Israel and Judah stood high in prosperity and wealth. The warlike Jeroboam II. had overcome the Syrians, and recovered the original territory of his kingdom from Hamath in the extreme north to the Dead Sea (2 Kings 45:25, 28). Uzziah King of Judah had subdued the restless Edomltes and Philistines, reduced the Ammonites to subjection; and, while largely encouraging agriculture and the arts of peace, he raised a powerful army, and strongly fortified Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 26.). Israel, secure from outward enemies and strong in inward resources, was very far from expecting ruin and destruction. Prosperity in Both kingdoms had produced its too common fruits — pride, luxury, selfishness, oppression. In Zion and Samaria alike such sins were rife; hut in the northern kingdom they were accentuated and increased by the calfworship which was still practised there….

Amos is the third of the minor prophets. His name is usually taken to signify “Carrier,” but is better interpreted “Heavy” or “Burden,” in allusion to the grievous message which he had to deliver. Jewish commentators suggest that he was so called because he stammered or was slow of speech, as St. Paul says of himself that his speech was considered contemptibl…

At first a herdsman and a poor cultivator of sycamore trees (<300714>Amos 7:14), he received the Divine call, and, untrained in the schools, no prophet nor prophet’s son, was sent to prophesy against Israel. So, like an apostle, leaving all at his Master’s word, travelling from Judah he came to Bethel, the temple and summer palace of the king, in order to raise his voice against the worship of the calf which prevailed there in profane union with the service of Jehovah…

Amos is said (<300101>Amos 1:1) to have prophesied “in the days of Uzziah King of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash King of Israel.” Uzziah’s reign (according to data corrected by Assyrian monuments) lasted from B.C. 792 to 740, and Jeroboam’s from B.C. 790 to 749. The time specified above probably refers to the period during which the two monarchs were contemporaneous, viz. from B.C. 790 to 749, a period of forty-one years. Another computation assigns Jeroboam’s reign to B.C. 816-775; but there is still some uncertainty about the exact date. Hence we cannot determine the time of our prophecy with perfect satisfaction. It could not have been the commencement of Jeroboam’s reign, as Amos intimates that this king had already overcome his enemies and regained his lost territory (<300602>Amos 6:2, 13, compared with <121425>2 Kings 14:25); nor could it have been the end, because he makes no mention of the Assyrians who about that time were beginning to threaten Palestine…

The prophet uttered his warnings, not at intervals during all the period named, but at some definite time therein, and probably during a very short space. He must have been contemporaneous with, if not a little earlier than Hosea, and later than Joel, as he takes up this prophet’s words in the commencement of his own prediction (comp. <300102>Amos 1:2 with <290316>Joel 3:16), and quotes him in <300913>Amos 9:13 (see Introduction to Joel)…

This uneducated prophet’s accurate acquaintance with the Law of Moses denotes much more than a familiarity with the national traditions. His knowledge of the Pentateuch appears not only in general allusions to history, ritual, ceremony, but in the actual use of verbal forms and expressions which belong to the Mosaic writings…

Thus Amos presupposes that his hearers were well acquainted with the Pentateuch, and had a firm belief in its history; otherwise much of the prophecy would have lost its force or have been unintelligible. Hosea and Jeremiah seem to have borrowed from or to have been acquainted with our prophet…

Obadiah

THE Book of Obadiah is occupied with one subject — the punishment of Edom for its cruel and unbrotherly conduct towards Judah at the time of some great national calamity, merging at the end in a prophecy of the restoration of Israel. We must not suppose, however, that Obadiah intends to limit his utterances to a denunciation of the Edomites. His words are not exclusively intended for their case. While what he says concerning their destruction is so be regarded as literally true, they are also taken as the type of nations hostile to God, and their overthrow prefigures the universal judgment on Gentiles, which should usher in the establishment of the kingdom of God, the sovereignty of Jehovah over all the world…

Of Obadiah, the author of this prophecy, nothing whatever is known. Not even his father’s name is given in the title of the book, which is simply, “the vision of Obadiah.” The name itself (in Greek, jAbdiou> or jObdiou>?, sc. Orasiv: in Latin, Abdias) signifies “Servant” or “Worshipper of Jehovah,” and was common among the Hebrews; but the attempt to identify the prophet with any of the persons so called in Holy Writ is entirely unsuccessful, and has arisen rather from the natural desire to know more concerning this holy man than from any special evidence or probability.

Persons of the Same name (though sometimes in different form) are found in <111803>1 Kings 18:3; <130321>1 Chronicles 3:21; 7:3; 8:38; 9:16, 45; 12:9; 27:19; 34:12; <150809>Ezra 8:9; <161005>Nehemiah 10:5; <141707>2 Chronicles 17:7; 34:12; but none of these has any pretension to be considered our prophet. The contents of his prophecy prove that he belonged to the kingdom of Judah, and St. Ephrem asserts that he came from Sichem. His tomb was shown at Samaria in St. Jerome’s time.

The age in which Obadiah lived and prophesied is a matter of great dispute, and, after all that can be said, must be considered as only probably ascertained. The most varying opinions have been held. While some regard him as the earliest, or among the earliest, of the minor prophets, others place him after the destruction of Jerusalem in the time of Captivity; and Hitzig sets his date as late as B.C. 812. The interval between the various dates amounts to six hundred years…

The contents of the Book supply two further aids. In ver. 11 Obadiah alludes to the capture of Jerusalem; and if we knew for certain to what event he refers, we should at once be in a position to settle the difficulty. We gather from his language that Jerusalem was taken and plundered; that her soldiers were sent into captivity; that her citizens were sold as slaves; and that Edom joined with the invaders, cut off stragglers, and rejoiced in the calamity of Judah…

The second occasion belongs to the reign of Jehoram, when the Philistines and Arabians (the latter being a loose designation of the roving tribes of the wilderness and the inhabitants of the country south of Judea) invaded Judah, plundered much treasure from the house of the king, and carried away his wives and all his children save his youngest son, Jehoahaz (<142116>2 Chronicles 21:16, 17; comp. <120820>2 Kings 8:20, etc.). The description is brief, and further details are wanting; but it can scarcely be doubted that other captives were taken besides the royal family; and that if the palace of the king was sacked, the city and its inhabitants could not have got off scatheless…

From what has been said, we conclude that Obadiah is one of the earliest of the minor prophets, that he lived about the time of Jehoram, and prophesied at latest (as Dr. Pusey thinks) during the minority of Joash…

There can be no doubt that the style of Obadiah is remarkably original. In his very diction he deviates from the Beaten track, using many words and forms which occur nowhere else. Though his language is simple, it is very suggestive, full of thought, and pregnant with meaning. Pure and idiomatic, it breathes a high antiquity, unmixed with later forms, and distinct from that of the greater prophets. There is a vigour, and terseness, and a rapidity, which carry the reader along, and place him by the prophet’s side in fullest sympathy. Obadiah delights in interrogation and apostrophe, in vivid detail, and concise statement. He is often highly poetic, never monotonous. What force and pathos are there in the sustained description of the injuries inflicted by strangers on Jerusalem, ending in the sudden address to Edom, “Thou wast as one of them” (ver. 11)!...

Jonah

THE Book of Jonah is not a prophecy, but an account of the prophet’s mission to Nineveh to announce its speedy destruction. It is concerned chiefly with Jonah’s own personal feelings and history in relation to this mission. Possessed with the national hatred of idolatrous Gentiles, and fearing that God, in his great long suffering, might, after all, spare these Assyrians to whom he was sent, and that thus his prediction would be discredited and a heathen nation saved, he attempted to escape the unwelcome errand…

There is no good reason to doubt that the hero, if not the author, of this book was that Jonah, son of Amittai, the prophet whose comforting prophecy was recounted in the days of Jeroboam the Second (<121425>2 Kings 14:25). The names of Jonah and Amittai occur nowhere else in the Old Testament, and it is incredible that there should have been two distinct persons named Jonah, both prophets, both sons of Amittai. Jonah means “a Dove;” Amittai, “True…

From the signification of Amittai arose the very improbable opinion that our prophet was the son of the widow of Sarepta, whom Elijah raised to life, because she said, on receiving him restored at the prophet’s hands, “Now I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth (emeth)” (<111724>1 Kings 17:24). Other suggestions, equally unfounded, are that he was the boy who attended Elijah to the wilderness, or the young man who was sent to anoint Jehu, or the husband of the Shunammite woman who extended hospitality to Elisha.Of the facts of Jonah’s life nothing is known but what his own book supplies…(bold mine)

As to the actual writer of the book, a grave controversy exists. Most modern critics of the advanced school unhesitatingly deny the traditional view, which regards the prophet as the author, though their arguments are not thoroughly convincing. For instance, doubts have been thrown on the genuineness of the book because it is written throughout in the third person. But there is nothing unusual in this. Classical scholars will recall the ‘Anabasis’ of Xenophon and the ‘Commentaries’ of Caesar, concerning whose genuineness no question has ever been raised, though they are written in the third person…

We have many instances of the kind close at hand. Amos, in the midst of his prophecy, inserts the historical interlude concerning his persecution at the hands of Amaziah, in the third person (<300712>Amos 7:12, etc.). There are many passages in other prophets where the same use may be noticed; e.g. <230703>Isaiah 7:3; 20:2, 3; <242001>Jeremiah 20:1, 3; 26:7, etc.; Daniel 1-7.; <370101>Haggai 1:1, 3, 12; 2:1, 10, 20. Besides this, the candour of the history shows it to have been written by the person whose story it relates. It is true that the book does not profess to have been written by Jonah himself; but surely a Jewish writer, imbued with the national respect for the prophetical character, would never have allowed himself to exhibit a seer in such an unfavourable light. The bigotry, selfishness, petulance, and disobedience, which are so plainly attributed to Jonah, could have been set forth by no one but by himself…

The date of the historical Prophet Jonah is determined chiefly by internal evidence. We have seen that he is the prophet whose message is mentioned in <121425>2 Kings 14:25. Speaking of Jeroboam II., the historian says, “He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.” Of this “word” we have no further knowledge…

Whether the affliction named belongs to Jeroboam’s time or to a period antecedent, it is plain that Jonah prophesied either in the very early part of that king’s reign or before his accession. The date of Jeroboam’s reign, as now corrected by Assyrian chronology, is B.C. 799-759, or, as others say, B.C. 790-749; and he seems to have won his great victories over the Syrians soon after he came to the throne, when that people were weakened by the constant attacks of the Assyrians..

As to the time of his arrival in Nineveh, nothing can be exactly settled. The Assyrian annals record no event which throws light on the matter. From B.C. 810 to 781 the throne was occupied by Vul-nirari, or Iva-lush, or Rimmon-nirari, as his name is variously read by different interpreters. This monarch made various military expeditions, which he recounts in his annals. Among them he mentions the conquest of the land of the Hittites, Phoenicia, the cities of Tyre and Sidon, the land of Omri, the kingdom of Israel, Edom, and the Philistines. These probably merely acknowledged his superiority by the payment of an annual tribute. His successor, Shalmaneser III. (B.C. 781-770), had great difficulty in maintaining his position against the rising power of Armenia, though he found time for one attack on Syria. The following period, during the reigns of Asshur-danil and Asshur-nirari, or Asshur-lush, up to B.C. 750, was one of internal commotion and distress, and allowed no leisure for foreign conquest. It is very probable that Jonah’s mission was executed towards the close of Jeroboam’s reign, when the Assyrian monarchy was weakened by revolt, and the country was suffering from plague and famine. Both king and people were thus more disposed to listen to the warning of a man of God, and to endeavour to avert imminent ruin by timely, though superficial, repentance…

The Book of Jonah is a history, not a prophecy; it is inserted among the prophets, partly Because its author bears this title (<121425>2 Kings 14:25), but chiefly because of its didactic and symbolical purpose. But in it there is no moralizing, no reflection; it is simple narrative…

Micah

THE Book of Micah, in our present Hebrew copies and in the Latin Vulgate, stands sixth among the minor prophets; in the Septuagint it is placed third. Collected apparently into one volume in the last year of the prophet’s life, it contains a number of prophecies uttered, perhaps, at different times, but yet connected together by logical sequence, and displaying a certain symmetrical arrangement. Caspari suggests that he thus gathered the notes of his various discourses, and read them in the ears of the people, in order to assist Hezekiah’s great reformation. Threatening and promise alternate in these addresses, upbraiding and pleading, judgment and mercy. There is very much that is common with Isaiah, and the actual words in both are often identical…

The name Micah signifies, “Who is like Jehovah?” We are reminded by it of the challenge in Moses’ song (<021511>Exodus 15:11), “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee?” and it is doubtless with reference to his own name that the prophet introduces the announcement of God’s great mercy with the words, “Who is a God like unto thee?” (<330718>Micah 7:18). The name of Micah’s father is not given, so that he was probably of mean origin, most likely a peasant, as Amos; and no events of his life are recorded. Whatever can be known about him must be gathered from his own writings; and this is very little. He was a Judaean, and prophesied at Jerusalem. This latter fact we infer not only from the mention of the kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, under whom he is said to have exercised his ministry, but from the circumstance that he condemns chiefly the corruptions of the city, and makes Zion the central point of his prophecies, as it was the main seat of the evils against which he contended…

The superscription of our book states that Micah prophesied “in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” Modern critics see reason to doubt whether this title, as well as the similar ones in Hoses and Isaiah (which, however, contain the name of Uzziah), are genuine. They deem them to be later additions introduced by an unknown editor. In the present case the superscription is confirmed by the contents of the book Jotham came to the throne in B.C. 757; Hezekiah died in 697; and thus the greatest limit attributed to his ministry would be sixty years; while the interval from the last year of Jotham to the first of Hezekiah, B.C. 742-726, allows a period of sixteen years as the minimum duration of his prophetical activity.

In either case he is contemporary with Isaiah, and with the latter portion of the ministry of Amos and Hosea. We have a testimony concerning his date in <242618>Jeremiah 26:18, where certain elders of the land appeal to the ease of Micah as one who asserted unpopular truths in the time of Hezekiah, without incurring the charge of blasphemy…

The style of the Book of Micah is remarkable. It is rough, as befitting its peasant author, but it is certainly not uncultivated; rugged, perhaps, but pure, clear, and intelligible. It abounds in tropes, figures, paronomasias. It contains sudden transitions of subjects, persons, numbers, genders, which denote in the writer a quick temper and an excitable mind, carried away by inward impulse, and restrained by no formal rules of composition. Micah is at times bold, severe, stern, uncompromising; at times tender, sorrowful, loving, sympathetic. In him mercy rejoices against judgment. Brief and concise in his description of misery, he dilates with exuberance on the blessings that are to follow the day of darkness. He delights in comparing God’s tenderness and regard for his people with a shepherd’s care for his flock…

One obvious fact characterizing the book (which it is well to mention in view of neologian theories) is that it exhibits an accurate acquaintance with the Pentateuch, that the author had those writings before him when he put his prophecy into its present shape. The many allusions to the history, the actual expressions sometimes used, prove this beyond question…

Nahum

THE prophecy of Nahum, as the title asserts, is concerned with one subject alone. It is “the burden of Nineveh;” it announces the fate of that evil city. In the Greek Bible it is placed immediately after Jonah, as being the complement of that book. Jonah had preached repentance to Nineveh, and the people had hearkened to his voice, but had soon relapsed into their old sins; and now Nahum pronounces their sentence. Their pride, oppression, idolatry, and especially their defiance of God’s sovereignty, are severely rebuked, and the certain and complete destruction of the nation is plainly announced…

Of the Prophet Nahum nothing definite is known but what he himself says. His name, which means “Comforter,” does not occur elsewhere in the Bible, but is found, according to Gesenius (‘Mon. Phoen.,’ pp. 134, 137), in Phoenician inscriptions, and under the form Na>oumov in one of Boeckh’s Greek inscriptions (‘Corp. Inscript.,’ 4:3). He calls himself “the El-koshite” (oJ jElkesai~ov). This is not a patronymic, but signifies “a native of Elkosh,” or Elcesi, which, as Jerome says (‘Prol. in Nahum’), was a small village in Galilee, well known to the Jews, but in his time showing very few traces of ancient buildings…

A late tradition, mentioned by Asseman (‘Bibl. Orient.,’ 1:525; 3:352), and adopted by some modern writers, maintains that Nahum was born in Assyria of parents who had been carried thither after the capture of Samaria, and that his sepulchre was to be found at Alkush, ten miles north of Mosul, on the left bank of the Tigris, in which spot also, as the story goes, were buried Jonah, Obadiah, and Jephthah. “It is a place,” says Layard (‘Nineveh,’ 1:233), “held in great reverence by Mohammedans and Christians, but especially by Jews, who keep the building in repair, and flock here in great numbers at certain seasons of the year. The tomb is a simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end of a large chamber. The house containing the tomb is a modern building.

There are no inscriptions, nor fragments of any antiquity about the place.” The story arose some two thousand years after the prophet’s time, and was probably inverted to account for his knowledge of Assyrian affairs, which was supposed to denote resident and eyewitness, or else was founded simply on the similarity between the name of the village and that of his birthplace…

The time when Nahum prophesied has always, till quite lately, been considered most uncertain, and critics have variously assigned it to dates differing as widely as those of Jehu and Zechariah. Ewald regards him as a prophet of the Captivity, arguing that the prominence given to Assyria, and the merely cursory mention of Judah, could have proceeded only from seer who was himself an exile from the promised land, and probably resident in the country which he denounces. It is obvious to remark that, commissioned as he was to prophesy against Nineveh, he must necessarily make this the chief subject of his utterances; and, in reality, comfort and encouragement to Judah from the central part of his prophecy, to which all the denunciations of the enemy converge. A majority of critics have considered him to have prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah, and to have been a contemporary of Micah and Isaiah…

In <340308>Nahum 3:8 our prophet speaks of the capture and destruction of No- Amon, and the deportation of its inhabitants, as a recent and well remembered event. No is Thebes, in Upper Egypt, called by the Greeks Diospolis, the capital of that part of the kingdom; and we now learn from the cuneiform records that Assurbanipal, the son and successor of Esarhaddon, took that city in his second expedition against Urdamani, or Rud-Amon, the successor of Tirhakah, and carried the inhabitants away.

This invasion took place soon after the death of Tirhakah, which occurred B.C. 664. So we may reckon the date of Nahum’s prophecy to have been within ten years of the fall of Thebes, during the reign of Manasseh, whose name was suppressed in the title of the book, owing to that king’s evil reputation…

Among the minor prophets Nahum holds the highest place. His prophecy is a poem, stately, orderly, and impressive, all the parts of which are well arranged and mutually conducive to the unity of the whole. It is eminently tuneful and rhythmical, the words “re-echoing to the sense,” and hurrying the hearer away with the speaker in complete sympathy. The style is full of force, the colouring brilliant, the picturing lifelike. The majestic opening, in which are described the attributes of God, his mercy and justice, is equaled by the vivid representation of the sack and ruin of Nineveh, which he paints as if passing before his own eyes. The language is pure and classical, with a certain originality in words and forms which separates it from other writings…

There are no Messianic references; nor is there room for any lengthened array of moral and religious ideas; but these are entwined in forcible, if concise, terms God’s existence, justice, and providence are everywhere asserted, witnessed to by the past, expected in the future; and from the coming judgment is drawn a. lesson of comfort for the chosen people…

Habakkuk

NAHUM had comforted Judah with the assurance that the power of Assyia should be overthrown, though for a time it was permitted to afflict the people of God. Habakkuk warns Judah of another great empire which was commissioned to chastise her backslidings (in spite of the partial reformation under Josiah), but which should itself suffer the vengeance which its iniquities merited. The predicted fate of Nineveh had lulled the Judaeans into a false security, so that they forgot the dangers that threatened them, and, though they were no longer guilty of idolatry or selfish luxury, they relapsed into carelessness, forgetfulness of God, and various evil practices. Habakkuk is commissioned to show them that punishment was waiting for them at the hands of the Chaldeans, from whom as yet they had not realized their danger, though Isaiah (<233906>Isaiah 39:6, etc.) had forewarned Hezekiah that his treasures should be carried to Babylon and his sons be servants in the palace of the king…

The writer of this book calls himself “Habakkuk the prophet;” and that is all that we are told of him for certain in Holy Scripture. The name signifies “Embracing,” and is taken personally to mean either “one who embraces” or “one who is embraced.” The latter seems more probable…

In calling himself a “prophet” Habakkuk claims Divine inspiration and mission, and to have exercised his office in his appointed sphere. Whether he was called from some other occupation, as Amos, or whether he was trained in the schools of the prophets, is unknown. Some ground for supposing him to have been a Levite is given by the musical direction in <350301>Habakkuk 3:1, and the conclusion of the psalm, “For the chief musician on my stringed instruments,” which would perhaps imply that he was qualified to take part in the temple services, and himself accompanied his hymn with instrumental music…

Thus rabbinical tradition asserts that he was the son of the Shunammite woman whom Elisha restored to life. This, of course, is altogether unfounded. Christian writers, too, have not been backward in developing hints into facts. Pseudo-Epiphanius (‘De Vit. Prophet.’) and Pseudo-Dorotheus (‘Chronicles Pasch.,’ p. 250) assert that Habakkuk was of the tribe of Simeon, and born in a place called Bethitouchar, perhaps Bath-Zacharias, famous in the history of Judas Maccabaeus (1 Macc. 6:32), that at the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar he fled to Ostracine, a town on the seacoast of Egypt, some sixty miles east of Pelusium and remained there till the Chaldeans departed, when he returned to his own country, and died two years before the end of the Captivity. His tomb is said to have been long shown at Keilah in the hill country of Judah, and at Chukkok in Naphtali…

The time when Habakkuk prophesied can be gathered only from hints scattered in the book itself; and the limits thus obtained are a period before Babylon had obtained its independent position and so was able to menace its neighbours, and of course before the invasion of Judah, B.c. 605, twenty years later. Modern critics who do not believe in the possibility of supernatural prediction, at once settle the question of the prophet’s date by affirming that his assertion concerning the punishment of Jerusalem at the hands of the Chaldeans must have been uttered after the event, or else so short a time previous, that natural acuteness could foresee the result so certain to occur…

There is something very striking in the style of Habakkuk. In grandeur and magnificence it is perhaps equalled by other of the prophets; language as pure, power as concentrated, may be found elsewhere; but the extended colloquy between God and the prophet, and the exquisitely beautiful ode which forms the conclusion of the prophecy, are unique. The introduction of the majestic theophany is as bold in conception as it is sublime in diction. We know not whether most to admire the idea set forth, or the images under which it is developed. How terrible are the threatenings and announcements! how bitter the derision! how sweet and tender the promises of mercy and love! The past, the present, and the future are presented in vivid colours. Difficult, almost impossible, as it was for a prophet, confined to one circle of ideas, to be original, Habakkuk has given a new form to old conceptions, and brightened the notions of earlier seers with the splendour of imagery all his own, and with harmonious diction which is surpassed by no other sacred poet…

Zephaniah

THE prophecy of Zephaniah has been called by Kieinert the Dies irae of the Old Testament; and there is much truth in this designation. It is, indeed, replete with announcements of judgment to come; it is wholly occupied with this subject and its consequences, and exhortations founded thereon; not that this is the final object of the prophecy, but it is introduced uniformly as being the means of establishing righteousness in the earth, making God’s power known, purging out the evil, and developing the good. The prophet is inspired with the idea of the universal judgment which shall affect the whole world; he sees this anticipated by particular visitations on certain heathen nations; he sees heathendom generally overthrown; he warns his own countrymen of the punishment that awaits them; and he looks forward to the salvation of Israel when all these things have come to pass. The book is one continuous prophecy divided into three parts; it contains, perhaps, many utterances condensed into one systematic whole, which comprises the threat of judgment, the exhortation to repentance, and the promise of salvation…

Of Zephaniah we know absolutely nothing but what he himself mentions in the superscription of his book. No information can be gathered from the contents of the prophecy, where the writer’s personal history is wholly unnoticed. He calls himself “the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah.” As it is usual to mention only the name of the father, it has been inferred that the genealogy is carried up to the fourth generation because Hizkiah, i.e. Hezekiah, was a celebrated personage, and most probably the famous King of Judah. But the inference is not undoubted. Hizkiah is not called “King of Judah” in the genealogy, which would naturally have been done had he been the ancestor intended, as in <202501>Proverbs 25:1; <233809>Isaiah 38:9. There is room enough, indeed, between Hezekiah and Josiah for the four specified descents, though only three are named in the case of Josiah himself; but the name Hezekiah was not unknown among the Jews, and we cannot assume without further support that the person here mentioned is the king. It is fair to argue that the insertion of the genealogical details shows that the prophet was of distinguished birth; but further it is impossible to go with any certainly…

Zephaniah, in the inscription of his book, states that he prophesied “in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, King of Judah;” and this assertion has never been seriously disputed. The only question is in what part of that king’s reign did he exercise his office. Josiah reigned thirty-one years, according to the usually received dates — from B.C. 640 to B.C. 609. The destruction of Nineveh, which Zephaniah foretold, took place quite at the end of Josiah’s reign, and his prophecy must have been uttered some time before this event. No other data for determining the question exist save what may be gathered from internal evidences. And these are most uncertain, depending chiefly upon inferences drawn from the great reformation effected by the good king…

Some critics have spoken disparagingly of the style of Zephaniah’s prophecy, as being prosaic and bearing no comparison with any of the other Hebrew poets. There is some truth in this criticism; but the censure is exaggerated and unjust. Of the remarkable purity of his language there can be no doubt; and if his rhythm is at times faulty, judged by the standard of the highest models, and sinks into prose; if he is wanting in sublimity and elegance; it must be allowed that he is always easy and full of life, often vehement, fiery, and severe, and that the force and conciseness of his utterances leave a definite impression on the mind which needs no rhetorical artifice to make it permanent. Like other prophets, he connects himself with his predecessors by employing their language, not from poverty of idea, not from “declension in the originality of prophets of this date,” but because he designs to give, in a compendious form, “the fundamental thoughts of judgment and salvation which are common to all the prophets” (Keil)…

Haggai

FROM the time when Zephaniah prophesied of judgment to come to the day when Haggai lifted up his voice, some hundred years or more had elapsed. In this interval God had not left himself without witness; the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel had carried on the torch of prophecy, and had not suffered the light of inspiration to be extinguished.

Meanwhile startling events had happened. That which earlier seers had foretold had come to pass; warnings unheeded had ripened bitter fruit. Israel had long ago been carried into captivity; Judah had suffered a similar fate. For seventy years she had sat weeping by the waters of Babylon, learning a hard lesson and profiting thereby. But the period of punishment came to an end at the appointed moment. God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus King of Elam, to allow and to urge the return of the Hebrews to their own land and the rebuilding of their temple. Not that Cyrus was a monotheist, who believed in one supreme God. This idea, which has long obtained, is proved to be erroneous by the inscriptions which have been discovered, and which may be read in Professor Sayce’s ‘Fresh Light from the Monuments,’ pp. 142, etc. From these it is clear that he was a worshipper  of Bel-Merodach, the patron god of Babylon, and that, as it was his first care on the capture of that city to reinstate its deities in their shrines, so his edict respecting the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem was a result of his usual policy to adopt the gods of conquered countries, and to win their favour by supporting their worship. That God used him as his instrument for the restoration of the Hebrews proves nothing concerning his personal religion…

Of the Prophet Haggai we know nothing save what may be gathered from his book and a few words in Ezra. The name Haggai, in Greek Aggai~ov is explained by St. Jerome to mean “Festive;” for, he says, he sowed in tears that he might reap in joy, when he witnessed the reerection of the ruined temple. Reinke deems that he was so named because he was born on some great feast day. He is mentioned with Zechariah in Ezra (<150501>Ezra 5:1; 6:14) as prophesying unto the Jews that were in Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, urging them to continue the work of rebuilding the house of the Lord. It has been conjectured, from <370203>Haggai 2:3, that he had seen the temple of Solomon, that he was one, as Dr. Pusey says, “who had lived among the outward splendour of the former temple, who had himself been carried into captivity, and was now part of that restoration which God had promised.” But this idea is not supported by the language of the passage on which it is founded: “Who is left among you that saw the house in her first glory?” If the conjecture were true, he would have been at least eighty years old at the time of his prophecy, the date of which he himself states as the second year of Darius the king, i.e. B.C. 520. He continued his addresses at intervals during four months of that year; and whether he lived to see the full result of his labours by the completion of the building in the sixth year of Darius, is uncertain. Jewish tradition makes him to have been a member of the great synagogue, and other accounts, equally unsubstantiated, assign to him an honoured burial in the sepulcher reserved for priests…

The language of Haggai is generally considered fame and featureless, indulging in unnecessary repetitions, and rarely rising above the level of ordinary prose. But in estimating the character of his addresses, we must remember that in their present form they are probably only the outline of the original utterances, and that what may seem poor and curt in the summary may have been telling and eloquent in its fuller form when spoken. Even as we have them, the addresses in their simplicity are full oF force; outward ornament and rhetorical artifice were not needed in order to set forth the work which the people were expected to perform. Haggai had one distinct message to deliver, and he announced it in plain, unvarnished language, which came home to the hearts of his hearers, not only with conviction, but with persuasive force, so that they did not merely say, “How true!” and do nothing in consequence, but they put their conviction into action, and began at once to build…

Zechariah

THE prophecy of Zechariah (at least that contained in the first eight chapters) continues and supplements that of his contemporary Haggai. These two prophets were raised up and inspired to animate the flagging energies of the Jews, who, on their return from Babylon (B.C. 536), had begun to rebuild the temple, lout were soon disheartened, and at length, owing to opposition of neighbours and adverse circumstances, ceased altogether from the work. Now after sixteen years’ intermission, encouraged by the accession of Darius Hystaspes, who looked with favourable eyes on their undertaking, the Jews had an opportunity of resuming their operations. Almost simultaneously with Haggai, Zechariah comes forth to enforce the same lesson, urging them to restore the house of the Lord, and inspiring them with hopes of a glorious future. The rest of the prophecies, if they belong to the same age and author, without special mention of the return from the Captivity, reach to far distant time; they are supposed to speak of the preservation of the temple under Alexander the Great, of the victories of the Maccabees; they certainly speak of the rejection of Christ; they speak of the repentance of the Jews for this rejection, and the final conversion of them and of the Gentiles.

The temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius (B.C. 515); and the latter part of Zechariah’s prophecies may have been spoken after that event, and possibly many years subsequent…

The name Zechariah was not uncommon among the Jews; more than twenty bore it in the Old Testament. It is interpreted, “The Lord remembers.” The prophet calls himself (<380101>Zechariah 1:1) “the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo…

He must have been born in Chaldea, as he commenced his prophetical office eight years after the return, some two months later than his elder contemporary, Haggai, both of these seers having the same object in view — the encouragement of the people in the interrupted work of rebuilding the temple. Jewish tradition makes him a member of the great synagogue, and to have had some share in providing for the liturgical services of the temple…

The first prophecy of Zechariah being uttered in the second year of Darius, and his third in the fourth, the period of the active exercise of his office extended from B.C. 520 to B.C. 518…

Concerning the genuineness of the first eight chapters of the Book of Zechariah, no question has ever been raised. It is quite different with regard to the remainder, the authorship of which has been the subject of dispute since the days of Joseph Mede until the present, and is still undecided. Merle was led to dispute the unity of the book by the fact that in <402709>Matthew 27:9 the well known passage concerning the thirty pieces of silver in <381112>Zechariah 11:12, 13 is attributed to Jeremiah. Acting on this hint, Mede and his followers found what they considered ample grounds for considering these six last chapters to belong to pre-exilian times, “disputing,” as Calmer dryly remarks, “several chapters of Zechariah in order to restore a verse to Jeremiah…

Neither Jew nor Christian ever disputed the genuineness of these six chapters till some two hundred years ago. It must be remembered that the sacred canon was fixed soon after Zechariah’s death, when the question of authorship could most early have been settled, and there is no proof whatever that the book was not then such as it has reached our hands, and such as all the versions make it to be. The care exhibited in assigning the other prophetical works to their rightful authors, even in the case of the brief prophecy of Obadiah, would surely not be wanting in the case of this long and important oracle…

Regarding the Book of Zechariah in its integrity, we moot with great diversity of style, in accordance, as we have seen above, with the varying subject matter. Visions that came before the prophet’s own eyes are narrated in simple prose; in uttering prophecy he rises to a higher level, employing figures and symbols such as Jeremiah and Daniel used, but also showing an originality which gives a peculiar character to his work. The grandest and most powerful passages are found in ch. 9-11. These are as fine as any in Hebrew poetry. But in other places the prophet is often harsh, inharmonious; emphasized by repetition; passes from one point to another abruptly, without connecting link. His parallelisms want the neatness and harmony which are found in earlier writings; his language is tolerably pure and free from Chaldaisms. Many causes have combined to render his oracles difficult of comprehension, so that Jerome speaks of Zechariah as the longest and most obscure of all the twelve prophets. But it must be observed that many of the difficulties found in his work have been imported by commentators themselves…

Malachi

THE reformation effected by Nehemiah in the earlier part of his administration had been maintained by his own personal influence and political authority; and when the strong hand of the governor was for a time removed, old abuses revived, and even some new laxities and transgressions were added. In the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes (B.C. 433-2) Nehemiah had been recalled to Babylon or Susa, either because his furlough had expired, or because he had to make further arrangements for the prolongation of his command, or simply, as was the Persian custom, to give an account of his actions, which had been unfavourably represented at court. On his return at the end of two or three years (<161306>Nehemiah 13:6), he found great cause for sorrow and anxiety. Advantage of his absence had been taken by the latitudinarian party in the commonwealth to return to those evil practices and that open disregard of the Law which he had so severely reprobated twelve years before. Ezra was probably dead, as no further mention is made of him after Nehemiah’s second return from the Persian court; and, losing the support of this wise and single-hearted scribe, Nehemiah would have had to stem the torrent of laxity and profaneness alone, had not God raised up the Prophet Malachi at this crisis…

The name Malachi is found nowhere else in Scripture. The LXX., in the title, calls him Malaci>av. It is probably contracted from Malachijah, and means, “Messenger of Jehovah.” Such abbreviations are not uncommon.

Thus we find Abi for Abijah (<121802>2 Kings 18:2; <142901>2 Chronicles 29:1); Phalti for Phaltiel (<092544>1 Samuel 25:44; <100315>2 Samuel 3:15). So probably Zabdi is the same as Zabdiel, Uri as Urijah. Absolutely nothing is known of his history; and as the Septuagint (<390101>Malachi 1:1) reads, instead of “by the hand of Malachi,” ejn ceiri< ajgge>lou aujtou~, “by the hand of his messenger,” many have doubted whether the name is that of a person or of an office, an appellation given to an ideal messenger of God. Origen held that the book was written by an angel; others have argued that Malachi was a pseudonym for Ezra, who was the real author of the work, though one would have thought that the style and diction of the two writers were sufficiently distinct to obviate any such supposition, and it is hardly possible that the authorship of so distinguished a man should have been forgotten when the canon was arranged. Besides, to all the prophetical books the writer’s own name is prefixed. The use of a pseudonym or a symbolical name is unknown; and the authenticity of the contents of the prophecy is always testified by the naming of the author as one known to his contemporaries and approved by God.

Malachi, therefore, is certainly a real person; and though there is no description of him in his book, neither his parentage nor his birthplace being mentioned, yet the same omission occurs in the case of Obadiah and Habakkuk, of whose personality no doubt has ever arisen…

The general period of Malachi’s appearance as a prophet is easily determined; but the definition of the exact date has some difficulties. It is plain, from the contents of the prophecy, that it was delivered when the Captivity was well nigh forgotten, and after the temple was rebuilt and its worship had been for some time duly established; it is also evident that, as the prophet complains of the inferior offerings brought by the people, the time of the royal grant made to Ezra (<150720>Ezra 7:20-26) had expired, and the necessary sacrifices wore supplied by the inhabitants themselves. This was done without dispute or apparent reluctance in the earlier part of Nehemiah’s administration, according to the engagement introduced by him (<161032>Nehemiah 10:32, etc.). No mention of any infringement of the resolution then passed is made in the Book of Ezra; so it seems most probable that the abuses named crept in after Ezra’s death, and during the time when Nehemiah was absent at the court of Persia (<161306>Nehemiah 13:6), which may have been an interval of two or three years…

From the above considerations we may conclude that Malachi exercised his ministry during the time of Nehemiah’s second visit to Jerusalem, B.C. 430-420. Thus Malachi is the last of the prophets, the author of the final book of the Hebrew canon, and named by Jewish authorities “the seal and end of the prophets.” He exercised his ministry a hundred years later than Haggai and Zechariah. We may here note that the twelve minor prophets cover a period of four centuries — a space, as Farrar remarks, nearly equal to that from Chaucer to Wordsworth…

Some critics have characterized Malachi’s style as “pedantic, forced, and barren;” but we cannot assent to their somewhat inconsiderate verdict. In contrast with some other prophetical works, Malachi’s writings may be considered to be prosaic, and to hold an inferior position, but they have an excellency and orginality of their own which acquit them of all such charges as those above. The great peculiarity of the style consists in the use made of interrogation and reply. A dialogue is introduced between God and the people or priests; the questions of objectors or complainants are stated, amplified, and finally answered with withering scorn by the mouth of the prophet. Thus he is rather a reasoner than a poet; he exhibits the calmness of the practised orator rather than the fire and energy of earlier seers. But there are tokens that he is still influenced by the ancient prophets, and with all his methodical and artificial forms he models himself upon his predecessors. Simple, smooth, concise, his diction is easy to understand; if he does not rise to the grandeur and power of other prophets, he is always polished and elegant, and at times even remarkably eloquent. The sketch of the character of the ideal priest (<390205>Malachi 2:5-7) is a passage of eminent beauty; and there are a few other places of equal excellence…