Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

third century, — finding that Daniel's predictions concerning the several empires were so universally acknowledged to be fultilled, that he could not disprove the fact of their accomplishment,alleged against them that they must have been written after the events, to which they refer, had actually occurred. To him they appeared to be a narration of events that had already taken place, rather than a prediction of things future ; such was the striking coincidence between the facts when accomplished, and the prophecies which foretold them. And he further affirmed that they were not composed by Daniel, whose name they bore, but by some person who lived in Judæa about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes ; because all the prophecies to that time contained true bistory, but all beyond that period were manifestly false. But this method of opposing the prophecies, as Jerome has rightly observed,' affords the strongest testimony to their truth : for they were fulfilled with such exactness, that, to infidels, the prophet seemed not to have foretold things future, but to have related things past. With respect to the particular prophecy (Dan. xi.) relating to the kings of Syria and Egypt, which Porphyry afirmed was written after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, we may remark that the book of Daniel was translated into the Greek language one hundred years before he lived ; and that very translation was in the hands of the Egyptians, who did not cherish any great kindness towards the Jews and their religion : and those prophecies which foretold the successes of Alexander (Dan. viii. 5. xi. 3.) were shown to him by the Jews, in consequence of which he conferred upon them several privileges.

IV. In the Vulgate Latin edition of the Bible, as well as in Theodotion's Greek version, which was adopted by all the Greek churches in the East in lieu of the incorrect Septuagint translation above alluded to, there is added in the third chapter of Daniel, between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth verses, the song of the three children, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were cast into the fiery furnace; and, at the end of the book, the history of Susanna and the story of Bel and the Dragon are inserted as the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters. But these additions were never received into the canon of Holy Writ by the Jewish church; neither are they extant in the Hebrew or Chaldee languages, nor is there any evidence that they ever were so extant. The occurrence of Hebraisins in them proves nothing more than that they were written by a Hebrew in the Greek tongue, into which he transferred the idioms of his own language : and that they were thus originally written in Greek by some Hellenistic Jew, without having any bigher source whence they could be derived, is evident from this circumauthority of Daniel's writings, in the twelfth of his fifteen books against the Christians. Dr. Lardner has collected such of his objections as are extant, together with Jerome's answers to them. Jewish and Heathen Testimonies, chap. xxxvii. (Works, vol. vii. pp. 185–204.8vo. ; or vol. iv. pp. 214–223. 4to.) Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinarjus, also, wrote answers to Porphyry, which have long since perished.

1 Præf. ad Danielem, et Proæm. ad Comment. in Daniel.

stance, that, in the history of Susanna, Daniel, in his replies to the elders, alludes to the Greek names of the trees, under which, they said, the adultery charged upon Susanna was committed, which allusions cannot hold good in any other language. The church of Rome, however, allows these spurious additions to be of the same authority with the rest of the book of Daniel; and, by a decree of the fourth session of the council of Trent, has given them an equal place in the canonical Scriptures. But they were never recognised as part of the sacred volume by the antient fathers of the Christian church. Julius Africanus, Eusebius, and Apollinarius rejected these pieces, not only as being uncanonical, but also as fabulous : and Jerome, who has been followed by Erasmus and other modern writers, has given the history of Bel and the Dragon no better title than that of The Fables of Bel and the Dragon.” And others, who have admitted them for instruction of manners, have nevertheless rejected them from the canonical Scriptures; in which conduct they have been followed by the Protestant churches, who exclude them from the canonical, and assign them to the apocryphal writings.2

SECTION V.

ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET OBADIAH.

1. Author and date. - II. Synopsis of its contents.

BEFORE CHRIST, 588-583.

1. THE time when this prophet flourished is wholly uncertain. Jerome, with the Jews, is of opinion that he was the same person who was governor of Ahab's house, and who hid and fed one hundred prophets whom Jezebel would have destroyed. Some other critics think that he was the Obadiah, whom Josiah constituted overseer of the works of the temple, mentioned in 2 Chron. xxxiv. 12. Dupin refers him to the time of Ahaz, in whose reign the Edomites, in conjunction with the Israelites, made war against the tribe of Judah; because his prophecy is almost wholly directed against the Edomites or Idumeans. Grotius, Huet, Dr. Lightfoot, and other

I In the examination of the elders, when one of them said he saw the crime committed, uro oxivov, under a mastich-trec, Daniel is represented as answering, in allusion to oxirov, “ The angel of God hath received sentence of God, EXIEAI DE Heoov, to cut thee in two.". And when the other elder said that it was vro apirov, under a holm-tree, Daniel is made to answer, in allusion to the word apivov, angel of the Lord waiteth with the sword, IIPIEAI os perov, to cut thce in two." Jerome ut supra.

2 Dr. Prideaux's Connection, part i. book iii. sub anno 534. vol. i. pp. 164, 165. edit. 1720. Calmet's Dictionary, voce Daniel, and his Préface sur Daniel, Comm. Litt. tom. vi. pp. 609-612. The fullest vindication of the genuineness and ca. nonical authority of the prophecies of Daniel is to be found in Bishop Chandler's “ Vindication of the Defence of Christianity, from the Prophecies of the Old Testament," and in Dr. Samuel Chandler's “ Vindication of the Antiquity and Authority of Daniel's Prophecies," both published at London in 1728, in evo.

« The

commentators, however, make him to be contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos, agreeably to the rule of the Jewish writers, viz. that, where the time of the prophet is not expressed, his predictions are to be placed in the same chronological order as the prophecy immediately preceding. Archbishop Newcome, with great probability, supposes that Obadiah prophesied between the taking of Jerusalem (which happened in the year 587 before Christ) and the destruction of Idumea by Nebuchadnezzar, which took place a very few years after. Consequently he was partly contemporary with Jeremiah one of whose predictions includes the greater part of Obadiah's book. (Compare Obad. 1-9. with Jer. xlix. 14, 15, 16. 7. 9, 10.) His writings, which consist of only one chapter, are composed with much beauty, and unfold a very interesting scene of prophecy.

II. The prophecy of Obadiah consists of two parts ; viz. Part I. is minatory, and denounces the destruction of Edom for

their pride and carnal security (1–9.), and for their cruel insults and enmity to the Jews, after the capture of their city. (10—16.) This prediction, according to Archbishop Usher, was fulàlled, about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, by the Babylonians subduing and expelling them from Arabia Petræa, of which they

never afterwards recovered possession. Part II. is consolatory, and foretels the restoration of the Jews

(17.), their victory over their enemies, and their flourishing state in consequence. (18—21.) Archbishop Newcome considers this prophecy as fulfilled by the conquests of the Maccabees over the Edomites. (See I Macc. V. 3-5. 65. &c.) There is no doubt that it was in part accomplished by the return from the Babylonian captivity; and by the victories of the Maccabean princes; but the prediction in the last verse will not receive its complete fulfilment until that time when “the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” (Rev. xi. 15.)

SECTION VI.

ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET EZEKIEL. 1. Author and date.

— II. Canonical authority of the prophecies of Ezekiel.-III. Their scope. - IV. Analysis of them. – V. 06servations on the style of Ezekiel.

BEFORE CHRIST, 595–536.

I. EZEKIEL, whose name imports the strength of God, was the son of Buzi, of the sacerdotal race, and one of the captives carried by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, with Jehoiachin king of Judah : it does not appear that he had prophesied before he came into Mesopotamia. The principal scene of his predictions was some place on the river Chebar, which flows into the Euphrates about two hundred miles to the north of Babylon, where the prophet resided ; though he was, occasionally, conveyed in vision to Jerusalem. Hé

He commenced his prophetic ministry in the thirtieth year of his age, according to general accounts; or rather, as Calmet thinks, in the thirtieth

year after the covenant was renewed with God in the reign of Josiah, which answers to the fifth year of Ezekiel's and Jehoiachin's captivity (Ezek. i. 1. xl. 1.), the æra whence he dates his predictions; and he continued to prophecy about twenty or twentyone years. The events of his life, after his call to the prophetic office, are interwoven with the detail which he has himself given of his predictions : but the manner of its termination is no where ascertained. The Pseudo-Epiphanius, in his lives of the prophets, says that he was put to death by the prince or commander of the Jews in the place of his exile, because this prince was addicted to idolatry, and could not bear the reproaches of the prophet. No reliance, however, can be placed on this account, which is intermixed with many fables. Jerome is of opinion, that, as Ezekiel was in part contemporary with Jeremiah, who prophesied in Judæa while Ezekiel delivered his predictions beyond the Euphrates, their prophecies were interchanged for the consolation and encouragement of the captive Jews. There is, indeed, a striking agreement between the subject-matter of their respective prophecies; but Ezekiel is more vehement than Jeremiah in reproving the sins of his countrymen, and abounds more in visions, which render some passages of his book exceedingly difficult to be understood. On this account no Jew was, antiently, permitted to read the writings of this prophet, until he had completed his thirtieth year.'

II. The prophecies of Ezekiel have always been acknowledged to be canonical, nor was it ever disputed that he was their author. Yet the Jews say that the sanhedrin deliberated for a long time whether his book should form a part of the sacred canon. They objected to the great obscurity at the beginning and end of his prophecy; and to what he says in ch. xviii. 20. that the son should not bear the iniquity of his father, which they urged was contrary to Moses, who says (Exod. xx. 5.), that God visits the " sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." But it is worthy of remark, that Moses himself (Deut. xxiv. 16.) says

the very same thing as Ezekiel. Respecting the declaration in Exod. xx. 5. see Vol. I. Appendix, No. III. Sect. V. pp. 559, 560.

Josephus ascribes to this prophet two books concerning the Babylonian captivity ; and says, that, having foretold the ruin of the temple, and that Zedekiah should not see Babylon, he sent this writing to Jerusalem. But these circumstances are not recorded in the predictions now extant, nor have we any means of ascertaining what foundation Josephus had for his assertion. Most commentators are of opinion that the Jewish historian divided the prophecy we now have into two books, and that he took that part of the prophecy, which contains a description of the temple (xli.- xlviii.), for a distinct book, because it treats on a subject wholly different from the topics discussed in the former part of his writings.

1 Hieronymi Proæm. in lib. 1. Comm. in Ezech. 2 Calmet, Préface sur Ezekiel. Comment. Litt. tom. vi. pp. 353, 354. 3 Antiq. Jud. lib. 2. c. 6.

4 Ibid. lib. x. c. 10.

W. The chief design of Ezekiel's prophecies is, to comfort his brethren in captivity, who deplored their having too lightly credited the proinises of Jeremiah, who had exhorted them speedily to submit to the Chaldees, on account of the approaching ruin of Jerusalem. As these captives saw no appearance of the fulfilment of Jeremiah's predictions, God raised up Ezekiel to confirm them in the faith, and to support by new prophecies those which Jeremiah had long before published, and even then continued to announce in Judæa. In pursuance of this design, Ezekiel predicts the dreadful calamities which soon after were inflicted upon Judæa and Jerusalem, on account of the idolatry, impiety, and profligacy of their inhabitants; the divine judgments that would be executed on the false prophets and prophetesses who deluded and hardened the Jews in their rebellion against God : the punishments that awaited the Ammonites, Edomites, and Philistines, for their hatred of the Jews, and insulting them in their distress; the destruction of Tyre ; the conquest of Egypt ; the future restoration of Israel and Judah from their several dispersions; and their ultimately happy state after the advent and under the government of the Messiah.

IV. The prophecies of Ezekiel form, in our Bibles, forty-eight chapters; and, as he is extremely punctual in dating them, we have little or no diffculty in arranging them in chronological order. They may be divided into four parts, viz. Part I. 'Ezekiel's call to the prophetic office (i. 1. to the first part of

verse 28.), his commission, instructions, and encouragements for

executing it. (i. 28. latter clause, ii. iii. 1—21.) Part II. Denunciations against the Jewish people. (iii. 22—27. iv.

-xxiv.) Sect. 1. In a vision, under the type of a siege portrayed on a tile

or slate, is represented the siege of Jerusalem (iii. 22—27. iv. I -3.;) and by the prophet's lying on his left side 390 days, and on his right side 40 days, are prefigured the number of years (390) during which God endured the idolatrous practices of the ten tribes, and also the number of years (40) during which he bore with the enormous sins of Judah, from the solemn renewal of the covenant with Jehovah to the destruction of Jerusalem. (4–8.) The scanty supply of ill-prepared food allowed to the prophet during his symbolical siege represented the severity of the famine endured by the Jews while Jerusalem was besieged

by Nebuchadnezzar. Sect. 2. Under the type of shaving and burning his own hair (v.

144.) Ezekiel denounces the divine judgments against Jerusalem, for her repeated provocations, by famine, sword, and dispersion. (5--17.)

« FöregåendeFortsätt »