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up before the Lord as:a sprout, as a shoot out of a dry soil.” To the 789, in ch. 11, the pai' here corresponds, to the hon the wing, to the trunk hewn down, the dry soil ; except that by this last, the lowliness of the servant of God is designated generally, while his descent from the now decayed and fallen family of David is not made specially prominent, though of course it is necessarily included in the general idea. The same idea is carried out further in Ez. 17: 22 – 24. Here, as descended from the fallen family of David, the Messiah appears as a small and tender twig, which, plucked by the Lord from the top of a lofty cedar, and planted on a high mountain, grows up into a stately tree under which all fowls shall dwell. In Jeremiah and Zechariah, in allusion to the figure employed by Isaiah of a trunk hewn down, the Messiah is called the Branch of David, or simply the Branch. (Comp. on Zech. 3:8, 6: 12.) It is surely only necessary here to compare prophecy and history to render obvious the exact accomplishment of the one by the other. Not at Jerusalem, where was the seat of his royal ancestors and the throne of his house, (comp. Ps. 122,) did the Messiah fix bis abode; but in the most despised city of the most despised province did the providence of God assign his dwelling, after the prophecies had been fulfilled by his birth at Bethlehem. The name of this despised city, which implied its lowliness, was the same by which Isaiah had signified the original lowliness of the Messiah himself.
We have hitherto considered the prophecies and their accomplishment independently of their citation in Matthew. add a few remarks upon the latter.
1. The more general form of quotation, tò ģn I ev dià tớvapoonTôv, in the plural, seems not to have been employed here without ground; although Jerome infers too much from it, when he says: “ Si fixum de scripturis posuisset exemplum, nunquam diceret, quod dictum est per prophetas, sed simpliciter, quod dictum est per prophetam; nunc autem pluraliter prophetas vocando ostendit se non verba de scripturis sumsisse, sed sensum.” It is true, that Matthew particularly referred to Isaiah 11:1, which not only announces generally the lowliness of the Messiah, but also especially designates it in the nomen et omen of the place where he dwelt. This is evident from the fact, that the quotation ότι Ναζωραίος κληθήσεται could not otherwise be explained ; since it would be in the highest degree forced to assume, that the term “ Nazarene" here signifies an humble, despised person in general. But he chose the more general form of
citation, (comp. Gersdorf, Beitr. zur Sprachcharakteristik, I. p. 136) in order to denote at the same time the collateral accomplishment of those prophecies which agree with that of Isaiah in the chief point, viz. the announcement of Christ's low condition, - in his residence at Nazareth. But such a reference shows that this was really the chief thing in the mind of Matthew; and that the coincidence of the name of the city with that which Christ bore in Isaiah, appears to him only as a remarkable external illustration of the exact connexion of prophecy and its fulfilment; just, indeed, as he considers every thing in the life of Christ, especially directed by the providence of God.
2. The phrase ótı xannostai is then likewise to be explained by the fact that Matthew does not limit himself to the single passage in Isaiah 11 : 1, but refers also to the other passages of a similar character. The expression itself, ötı xan Inoetai, is derived from one of these, viz. Zech. 6: 12. “ Behold the man whose name is the Branch.” It is, therefore, not necessary to explain it merely from the custom of the later Jews,* who attribute to the Messiah as a name that which serves in the Old Testament to mark some quality or feature of his character, — following in this the custom of the prophets themselves, who often thus employ some quality of the Messiah in the place of a proper name.
This hypothesis is untenable, because it would be difficult to produce another instance, where the evangelists, in a literal quotation, have intermingled any thing de propriis, relating to proper names.
• As an illustration of this custom the following passage is highly appropriate, which we cite from Raim. Martini Pug. Fid. III. 3, 19, p. 685. “ Dixit R. Abba 7177 dominus est nomen ejus, sicut dictum est Jerem. 23: 6. R. Josua ben Levi dixit, germen est nomen ejus, sicut dictum est Zach. 6: 12. Sunt, qui dicunt, consolator, filius fortitudinis dei nomen ejus, sicut dictum est Thren. 1: 16. E.+ domo R. Siloh dixerunt, Siloh est nomen ejus, sicut d. est Gen. 49: 10, donec veniat Siloh. Ex domo R. Chanina dixerunt, gratiosus est nomen ejus, sicut d. Jerem. 16: 13. De domo R. Jannai dixerunt, Jinnon est nomen ejus, Ps. 72: 17,” etc.
THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH.
ZECHARIAH, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, was of priestly descent. Chap. 1:1, Berechiah is named as his father, and Iddo as his grandfather. The latter, among the exiles who returned with Joshua and Zerubbabel, filled the respectable office of overseer of a class of priests; comp. Neh. 12: 4. That Berechiah died early appears from the fact, that v. 16. the same Zechariah is mentioned as immediate successor of Iddo in this office, under Joiachim, successor of Joshua. Accordingly Zechariah, at least in his later years, exercised, together with the prophetic, a priestly office also. This early death and the comparative obscurity of the father explain why, Ezr. 5:1, the descent of this prophet is referred immediately to the grandfather, according to a practice occurring elsewhere in similar
(See Beitr. 1, p. 47.) The discourse, which opens the collection of the prophecies of Zechariah, was held, according to chap. 1:1, in the eighth month of the second year of Darius, beyond all doubt Darius the son of Hystaspes. See the almost unnecessary refutation of the strange assumption of Scaliger, that the prophet came forward under Darius Nothus, in Vorstius, De Tempore Instaurati Templi Hierosolymitani, and Vitringa, Prolegg. p. 15, sqq. We may well be convinced, that this was also the commencement of his course as a prophet. This appears, partly from the character of the discourse, which in its general tenor is clearly a preparatory introduction, and partly from the chronological arrangement of the collection, apparent from the superscriptions of the second and third prophecy, chap. 1: 7, and chap. 7: 1, which prove that the predictions, chap. 9 - 14, which are without date, belong to a period subsequent to the foregoing.
The prophet must have been still young when he first came forward. For his grandfather Iddo was then in the full discharge of
the duties of his office, as appears from the fact already mentioned, that Zechariah was his immediate successor. In addition to this, the prophet, chap. 2: 8, is expressly called a young man.
As now according to Nehem. 12: 4, comp. with v. 1, the family of the prophet returned to Judea with the first expedition of the exiles in the first year of Cyrus, which was eighteen years previous to the second year of Darius the son of Hystaspes, Zechariah can have passed only the first years of his childhood in Babylonia, and consequently the Babylonish coloring of his prophecies was owing, not as Bertholdt and De Wette suppose, to his having received his education in Babylonia, but rather, in some degree, to the continuation of the Babylonish influence on the body of the exiles, though chiefly to the dependence which he everywhere manifests on earlier prophets, especially Ezekiel, who stood in immediate contact with the Babylonians.
Let us now consider the historical relations, under which the prophet came forward, and upon which he was called to operate. The advantages, which had been granted to the exiles by the command of Cyrus in respect to the rebuilding of the temple, were soon wrested from them through the machinations of their enemies, the Samaritans, in the Persian court. They were deficient in means to carry forward the erection of the temple, and still more in theocratic zeal; this had been already greatly damped, soon after the return, by the obstacles which unexpectedly occurred, while they believed themselves justified by the former promises in expecting nothing but prosperity and happiness. Each one was selfishly intent only on the improvement of his own affairs.
Under these circumstances, and in this tone of the public mind, the repeal of the prohibition to build the temple, in consequence of the accession of Darius the son of Hystaspes to the throne, which had been promulgated under his predecessor, the usurper Smerdis, contributed but little to advance the work. It was necessary still, that a powerful influence should be exerted on the minds of the people. For this purpose were the prophets Haggai and Zechariah called of God; of whom the former, at whose exliortation the building of the temple was immediately recommenced, came forward two months earlier than the latter. Zechariah, as becomes a true prophet of God, has in view, throughout, not the advancement of the outward work, as such; he aims to produce among the people a thorough spiritual revolution, the fruit of which must be an increased zeal for the building of the temple. Those, on whom the prophet was called to operate, belonged to two classes. First, the upright and true believers. These had fallen into great despondency and strong temptations, in consequence of the apparent contradiction between the divine promises and the actual appearance of things. They doubted both the power and the will of God to help them. It would often appear to them, that their own sins and those of their fathers were so great, that God could not again show them mercy. Here, where the prophet had to deal with troubled consciences, his office was to console. This he does, while he points from the gloomy present to the brighter future ; and, while resuming the yet unfulfilled portion of the former prophecies, he represents the fulfilment as yet to be accomplished. The objects of his prediction are particularly the happy completion of the temple; the increase of the new colony by the return of the exiles remaining in Babylon ; the preservation of Judea during the victories of Alexander, so destructive to the neighbouring nations; the independence of the people, to be won by the triumphs of the Maccabees; the blessings, which the believing part of them should receive through the Messiah, immediately on his first appearance; the final restoration of the ungodly part, once rejected on ount of their disbelief in the Messiah ; the protection and prosperity, which God will grant to Israel, when they shall have again become the centre and most important part of the kingdom of God. This aspect of the prediction of the prophet was the more weighty, the stronger were the assaults which threatened the faith of even the upright, in that future period when there would be no immediate ambassadors of God, and the more they needed a sure prophetic word to illuminate the darkness of their faith. The second class consisted of the hypocrites. These had returned in no less numbers from Babylonia, induced, not by the true motive, the love of God and his sanctuary, but by selfishness, the hope of sharing in all the blessings of God promised to those who returned, which they expected immediately, and in which, in their foolish delusion, notwithstanding the most emphatic declarations of the older prophets, they believed they had a right to participate, because they renounced gross idolatry, and exchanged it for that more refined, which consisted in the outward righteousness of works. It could not but happen that even then, in many instances, the disappointed hope would strip from unbelief the mask of hypocrisy. Still more frequently, however, must this be the ease at a later period. For these, also, the prophet describes the future blessings of God, in order to excite them to true conver