ページの画像
PDF
ePub

and twentieth year of our being in captivity in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten. In which words he beginneth the captivity in plain terms eleven years before the city was destroyed. Beroaldus is of opinion that it began in the first of Nabuchodonosor, and the fourth of Joakim, which he endeavours to prove out of the second of Chronicles, but more especially out of St. Matthew and Daniel, whose words afford matter of long disputation, but serve not to make good so much as Beroaldus would enforce. That place of St. Matthew, and the whole book of Daniel, have ministered occasion of scoffing and railing at the Christian religion to that wretched man Porphyry, who, not understanding how the sons of king Josias were called by divers names, as Epiphanius hath shewed at large, thought that the apostle had spoken he knew not what in reckoning the sons, or, according to some translations, the son and nephews of that good king, begotten about the time of the captivity. Upon Daniel also the same Porphyry doth spend the twelfth of his malicious books written against the Christians, affirming that these prophecies and visions remembered by Daniel were written long after his death, and at or near the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. This fond supposition of his, Eusebius, Apollonius, and others have sufficiently answered. For the seventy interpreters, who converted the Old Testament about an hundred year before Epiphanes, did also turn this book of Daniel out of Hebrew into Greek, as a part of scripture received. And were there no other argument to confound Porphyry than that of b Alexander Macedon, it were sufficient, who lived divers

years before Antiochus Epiphanes. For Jaddus the high priest shewed that great conqueror, when he came towards c Jerusalem to have destroyed it, this book of Daniel, wherein he beheld his own glory foretold, as the same was plainly expounded unto him, which not only stayed his hand from the harm of that city and people, but his assurance and resolution was so confirmed and strengthened thereby,

bi Mac. xi.

c Jos. Ant. 11.

as, despising all future peril and resistance, he conquered Darius and the eastern empire in a shorter time than Nabuchodonosor had done one city, to wit, Tyre in Phoenicia.

It is true indeed that the Jews themselves give less authority to Daniel than to Moses and the prophets, accounting his book among those which they call Cetaphim, or Hagiographa, or holy writings, which they say Esdras and the seniors of the synagogue compiled after their return from Babylon. But first, that the book of Daniel (I mean so much as is found in the Hebrew) is canonical, secondly, that it was written by Daniel himself, and not by Esdras and the seniors, we may assure ourselves by testimony of councils and fathers. For in the council of Laodicea, held about the year of our Lord 368, after the death of Jovinian the emperor, and after the Nicene council forty-three years, this book of Daniel was received, verified, and confirmed among the other canonical scriptures, as in the epitome of the same council it

may

be seen ; and so doth Meliton, the most ancient bishop of Sardis, number it, witness Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, the fourth book and twenty-fifth chapter; so doth the same author in the catalogue of canonical books upon Origen; so doth Hilarius in his preface upon the Psalms, and Epiphanius in his book of Weights and Measures, &c. To these I may add St. Jerome, Gregory Nazianzene, and others. For the Hagiographæ books, or holy writings, the Jews and Rabbins reckon to be these : Daniel, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Hester, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Chronicles. And that it was Daniel, and not Esdras, that wrote this book, God's commandment unto him by his angel, to seal up the same to the time appointed, is an unanswerable testimony; yea, that which exceedeth all strength of other proof, our Saviour Christ, who citeth no apocryphal scripture, in Matth. xxiv. 15. and Mark xii. 14. allegeth Daniel the prophet, to wit, the last verse of his nineteenth chapter. Further, in John v. Christ distributeth the risen from the dead, as in Daniel xii. 2. St. Paul describeth Antichrist out of Daniel, and the Revelation is wholly an interpretation of Daniel's visions.

SECT. III. That the seventy years of captivity are to be numbered from the

destruction of Jerusalem, not from the migration of Jechonia.

HAVING thus far digressed in maintaining that authority which must often be cited in the present argument, it is now convenient that we return unto the differences of opinion concerning the beginning of these seventy years. Neither will I stand to trouble myself and others with laying open the grounds or weakness of that which Eusebius and some few nameless authors have sometimes held in this point, which is lately revived by Beroaldus; but will forthwith enter into consideration of that opinion, which many both ancient and late writers have so earnestly maintained, that it wants not much of being common.

Four kings of Juda were carried away captives to Babylon; first, Manasses; then Jehoiakim, and with him, among others, Daniel the prophet ; thirdly, Jechonias, and with him Ezekiel ; lastly, Zedekias, at which time the city and temple were destroyed. To the first of these captivities the beginning of the seventy years is referred by none that I have read; to the second by few, and with weak proof; to the third by very many, and with much confidence. For besides those places of Ezekiel already cited, there is a strong argument gathered out of Jeremy xxix. 10. which may seem to make the matter plain; for the prophet, in comforting the people that were carried away with Jechonias, used these words: Thus saith the Lord, After seventy years be accomplished at Babel, I will visit you, and perform my good promise towards you, and cause you to return to this place.

But it stands indeed with little reason that we should seek the interpretation of a prophecy out of circumstances, when the prophecy is such as doth sufficiently expound itself. Jeremiah had already, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim denounced the judgment of God against the land, for the sins and impenitency of that obstinate people, in these words: d Behold, I will send and take to me all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babel, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and I will destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and a continual desolation. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the noise of the millstones, and the light of the candle, and this whole land shall be desolate, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babel seventy years. And when seventy years are expired, I will visit the king of Babel. Here we see prescribed unto the captivity the term of seventy years, which were to commence, neither when the prophecy was uttered, nor when Jehoiakim, who then reigned, was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, nor yet in the time of Jechonia, but with the utter desolation of the city, whereof Jeremiah did again give notice to those that were already in Babylon, at such time as he sent them the comfort of deliverance before rehearsed. And so did the people understand this prophecy in those times when they saw it accomplished, beginning the seventy years at the time of the desolation, as manifestly appears in the end of the history of Juda, where it is said thus: e They burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and all the precious vessels thereof, to destroy all. And they that were left by the sword carried he away to Babel; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the kingdom of the Persians had rule to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had her fill of her sabbaths: for all the days that she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil seventy years. But in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, (when the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah was finished,) the Lord d Jer. xxix. 16, 17, 18.

• 2 Chron. xxxvi. 19, &c.

stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. We seldom find one piece of scripture so precisely and plainly expounded by another, as in this prophecy, to have afterwards been the subject of altercation. For one can hardly devise, how either the desolation could have been expressed more sensibly than it was by the prophet, or the event of the prophecy have been more exactly set down than it was in the place now last of all cited. If it be requisite that we bring more proof in so evident a case, the ninth chapter of Daniel yields testimony sufficient unto this exposition of Jeremiah's prophecy, that Jerusalem was to lie waste seventy years. For in the first year of Darius the Mede, which was the last of the seventy, Daniel obtained of God the deliverance that had been promised by prayer, which he made upon consideration of the time that was expired, as he telleth us in these words: f In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the Lord hath spoken unto Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem. So that howsoever the time of Daniel's own captivity be reckoned from the taking of Jehoiakim, and that the people carried away with Jechonia, did account, as well they might, the years of their own captivity; yet with the general desolation of the country wherein were few or none of the Israelites left remaining to inhabit, began in the nineteenth year of Nabuchodonosor the great captivity, which by God's appointment continued unto the end of seventy years. This I will not further seek to prove by the authority of Josephus and others affirming the same; forasmuch as that which already hath been produced is enough to satisfy any man that hath not fully determined to hold the contrary.

SECT. IV. Sundry opinions of the kings which reigned in Babylon during the

seventy years. WHAT kings reigned in Babylon during these seventy years of the captivity, and how long each of them did wear

i Daniel ix. 2.

« 前へ次へ »