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adopt a type which appears to the present age to involve an immoral A.M. 3416. connection. “Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, and children B.C. 588. of whoredoms : for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.” And it appears, from the whole account given, that this cannot be understood figuratively, but must signify à real transaction. The Baron de Tott illustrates this circumstance in the account which he gives of those temporary marriages, unknown to us, but common in the East. He says, “There is also another kind of marriage, which, stipulating the return to be made, fixes likewise the time when the divorce is to take place. This contract is called cassin; and, properly speaking, is only an agreement made between the parties to live together, for such a price, during such a time.” Such a contract is probably that mentioned by Hosea. Mr. Harmer observes, respecting contracts for temporary wives, from Sir John Chardin, and which are made before the cadi, that “there is always the formality of a measure of corn mentioned, over and above the sum of money that is stipulated.” These circumstances will serve to explain the whole transaction, and to prove, that however singular in itself that transaction was, it accorded with the customs of the country and of the age. “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley. And I said unto her, thou shalt abide for me many days: thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee.” That this transaction was intended to expose the idolatry and the iniquity of the Israelites, is fully shown by the prophet himself.
Micah, the Morasthite, prophesied in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, Micah. : and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Moresa, or Marasha, of which place he is named, was a village in the south of Judah, in the vicinity of Eleutheropolis. His predictions relate to his native country, and to the kingdom which separated from it; since he expressly terms them “a vision concerning Jerusalem and Samaria.” Some parts of them were evidently, therefore, written before the captivity of the ten tribes; and it is supposed that he prophesied longer than Hosea. His style possesses great energy, copiousness, pathos, and sublimity; not without singular beauty and elegance. There are distinct predictions in the book bearing his name, not inferior in grandeur and eloquence to the most illustrious of the prophets, and which will bear a comparison, without injury, even with Isaiah himself. The substance of his prophecies agrees with those of his contemporaries : the iniquities of Israel and of Judah, which are reproved with sharpness and fidelity; the impending ruin of these monarchies, and by what nations it should be effected; the future restoration of them, according to the divine promise; and all turning upon that glorious centre of providence and grace, to which all prophecy hastened, and in which it terminated—the reign of the Messiah. Micah is
A.M. 3416. distinguished also for having fixed the birth of the Messiah expressly B.C. 588. at Beth-lehem, (Ephratah,) in language too distinct to be misunderMic. v. 2 stood, and allowed by the Jews themselves. There is an interesting Jer. xxvi. U circumstance respecting a prophecy of Micah, which was the means
of saving the life of the prophet Jeremiah, while the fearful Urijah was slain. The time of Micah's death is uncertain, and his sepulchre unknown; although it is conjectured that he was buried at Morasha.
Nahum, the Elkoshite, so called from a little village of Galilee, occupies a small, but splendid space among the predictions of those times. Josephus supposes him to have flourished in the reign of Jotham; and says that his prophecies were accomplished one hundred and fifteen years after they were delivered. But the best and most accurate chronologers place him in the reign of Hezekiah, and conclude that his predictions were delivered soon after the destruction of Samaria by Shalmaneser. Accordingly his book opens with a sublime exhibition of the power and goodness, the justice and compassion of Deity. He represents “ whirlwind and storm” encompassing him; “ clouds,” scattered “as the dust of his feet ;" the “sea” shrinking, and the “rivers” failing at his “rebuke.” Then this storm subsides instantly into a calm ; every attribute of terror is laid aside, as he turns to his people; and all his majesty and power are combined for the security of those “ that trust in him.” After this sublime exordium, he directs his prophecies chiefly against Nineveh, and foretels the destruction of the Assyrian empire. The time of the death of this prophet is unknown.
JOEL, the son of Pethuel, prophesied before the subversion of Judah, but when that event was fast approaching, in the reign, as some think, of Manasseh or, according to others, of Josiah; we cannot determine from his predictions themselves precisely the time or reign in which they were delivered. He is said to have been of the city of Betharan, in the tribe of Reuben. He is distinguished for the fervour, elegance, and sublimity of his style, and his short, but sublime work exhibits all those characters of energy for which the most illustrious prophets were celebrated; combined with a richness of imagery, seldom rivalled, and never surpassed. His description of the army of locusts, in the second chapter, and of the effusion of the Spirit in the third, have no equal. The substance of his predictions relate to the impending ruin of his country, and the final restoration of his people by the Messiah. We have no certain information further respecting the prophet himself.
ZEPHANIAH, the son of Cushi, was supposed by Epiphanius to have been of the tribe of Simeon. He fixes himself the date of his prophecies in the reign of Josiah, and from some of their contents we must conclude, that he flourished in the early part of that reign. His censures on the disorders of Judah would induce the conclusion, A.M. 3416. that the reformation by that pious prince, in the eighteenth year of B.c. 588. his reign, had not then been effected: and he predicts the destruction of Nineveh, which probably took place about the sixteenth year of Josiah. Judah is first mentioned, and then the enemies of Israel successively—the Philistines, the Moabites, Ammonites, Cushites, Phænicians, and Assyrians. The predictions terminate, as usual, in the glory of the latter day, as connected with the restoration of the Jews. The circumstances and time of the death of Zephaniah are no where recorded.
HABAKKUK is supposed to have been also of the tribe of Simeon, Habakkuk. and to have lived in the reign of Jehoiakim. That he prophesied after the taking of Nineveh is inferred from his silence respecting the Assyrians, while he predicts the terrible judgments which threatened his country from the Chaldeans, whom he calls “ a bitter and hasty nation ;” and describes their ferocious character and unsparing cruelty with all the force and grandeur of oriental imagery. " Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the cunning wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.” The Chaldeans are threatened in their turn; and the book closes with a magnificent description of the majesty of Hab. iii. God, which exceeds, perhaps, in sublimity every other similar delineation even in the Scriptures themselves. The only genuine works of this prophet are those predictions contained in the book which goes under his name. Some singular incidents respecting him are recorded in the Apocrypha, but which being extremely doubtful, to say the least, if not absolutely fabulous, we do not recapitulate. So far as any probable history of his life can be at all collected, it is given in few words by Calmet, from Epiphan. et Doroth. de Vita et Morte Prophetarum, who says, “ Observing that Nebuchadnezzar advanced towards Jerusalem, and foreseeing he would take it, Habakkuk escaped to Ostracin, in Arabia, near the lake Sirbonis, where he lived for some time; but the Chaldeans having taken Jerusalem, and returned to Chaldea, Habakkuk returned to Judea ; while the Jews who escaped from being carried to Babylon, after the death of Jedaliah, fled into Egypt.”
These were the illustrious men who lived in the age to which this chapter of history relates, and who foretold the destruction that hung over their country. And although men were the instruments in producing the fearful scenes which they predicted, God was the adversary. Jeremiah unveils the cause of the calamities of Israel and Judah—those calamities which have now been seen reaching their climax. “The Lord was as an enemy: He hath swallowed up Lam. ii. 5, 6. Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his
A.M. 3416. strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning B.C. 588. and lamentation. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle,
as if it were of a garden; he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Sion, and hath despised, in the indignation of his anger, the king and the priest.” A similar sentiment, expressed in language less sublime, will be recollected by the classical reader in Virgil.2
12 Æn L. II. v. 609-619.
AND THE HISTORICAL EVENTS CONNECTED WITH HIS PROPHECIES.
FROM A.M. 3244, B.C. 760, To A.M. 3306, B.C. 698.
RESPECTING this distinguished prophet little is known with any degree of certainty; but to supply the deficiency of genuine history with rabbinical tradition would afford little pleasure, and no instruction; and would be inconsistent with the plan of a scientific work, the object of which is to present truth always, and truth only. Under these circumstances, we must be satisfied to gather up the remaining fragments of his personal history, to state whatever is doubtful fairly as it stands, and to leave undetermined questions upon which we can collect no certain information. The most unimportant particulars of the life of such a man become interesting, from their connection with his writings; while the most magnificent circumstances that ever distinguished a mortal career (had they been certainly attached to him) could add nothing to the glory which surrounds ISAIAH as a prophet, and to a fame which is imperishable. He stands, perhaps, at the head of that celebrated class of ancient writers, the prophets of the Bible; and, in this view of his character, appears to us to belong to this period of our progress in the history of the world.
Our perplexities begin even with his birth. He is generally held Isaiah's to have been of the seed royal; his father being understood to be family. that Amoz who was son to Joash, and brother to Amaziah, kings of Judah. This opinion seems to have obtained upon good ground; and supposing it to be justly founded, Isaiah presents a wonderful and affecting spectacle of the close union sometimes subsisting between high distinction and severe affliction, and a memorable example of the reverses of human life; since he is seen as the grandson of one monarch, the nephew of another, and the martyr of a third.
He prophesied, as we learn from his own writings, during four Length of reigns—in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings b of Judah. It is also supposed that his predictions extended to the reign of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, to whom St. Jerome says the prophet gave his daughter in marriage; while it is more generally thought that he was put to death by that prince, a death also of the most cruel kind, being “sawn asunder.” For this there