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A.M. 3416. single particular of his own life. Certain traditionary accounts B.c. 588. represent him as a native of Bethacamar, and of the tribe of
Ephraim. It is also said that he died in Samaria ; but both the mode of his life and death are, in fact, not ascertained with the least degree of certainty. The most probable opinions with regard to the time of his prophecies, refer them to a little after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. He represents the cruel character of the Edomites, and declares that, whatever might be their fancied security, they should certainly be “cut off;” but he assures the Jews of their future restoration, and of the establishment of the spiritual kingdom of God. Short as the book is, there is, nevertheless, great beauty in the composition, and great importance in the events to which it refers.
Haggai. The next in succession is HAGGAI, said to have been of sacerdotal
evident purpose of stimulating Zerubbabel, and Joshua the high
Zechariah. ZECHARIAH was the son of Barachiah, but no certain information A.M. 3486. can be obtained of the precise period or place of his birth. It is B.C. 518. probable that he was of the sacerdotal race, and consecrated to the
priestly office. He was evidently contemporary with Haggai, and was, like him, sent to urge the Jews to proceed with the building of the temple; and to which admonitions and appeals they paid
attention. He continued to prophesy more than two years, and A.M. 3486. probably lived to witness the completion, in about six years, of the B.C. 518. undertaking. Our Saviour describes the Jews as being guilty of the blood of Zecharias, the son of Barachias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar: but, as it is believed that the prophet died in peace, it is supposed that Zecharias, the son of Jehoida, is intended, who was slain in the court of the Lord's house, 2 Chron. at the command of Joash. If this be the case, the copyists inight have inserted Barachiah from a mistaken supposition of the reference being to the prophet; and it is observable that in the parallel Matt. xxiii. passage of Luke, Barachias is not mentioned. Jerome moreover Luke xi. 5. states, that in a manuscript copy of the Gospel of Matthew, used by the Nazarenes, which he had permission to copy, it was written the son of Jehoida. The prophecies of Zechariah contain several splendid passages; and he was so remarkable for several excellences, as to have obtained the characteristic epithet of the sun among the lesser prophets. His poetry is chiefly to be found towards the latter part of his volume, the rest being in prose. The whole is constructed in the most beautiful manner, and bears a striking resemblance to the style of Jeremiah; so much so, indeed, that the Jews were accustomed to say that the spirit of Jeremiah had passed into him. He foretold the siege of Babylon by Darius the son of Hystaspes ; and the Jews are believed to have taken warning by his premonitions, to withdraw into a place of security. The coming of Christ, also, is represented by him in very express terms, and the lowliness of his condition particularly specified,—“Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, o daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy king cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation ; lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Nor must we here omit to notice, that as the 12th verse of the eleventh chapter of this prophet relates to some of the circumstances of our Saviour's crucifixion, is quoted by St. Matthew as spoken by Jeremiah, many learned men have assigned this and the two preceding chapters to the latter prophet, and suppose them to have been accidentally inserted amongst those of Zechariah. Others have also regarded the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters of Zechariah as belonging to some earlier prophet. For the latter conjecture there appears to be no foundation, and the inspiration of these portions of the canon is placed beyond a question, by the distinct quotations of them in the New Testament. The former incongruity has been thought to be removed by supposing the Evangelist to allude to some traditional prophecy of Jeremiah, and more probably by the supposed mistake of some copyist of the gospel, who transcribed the name of Jeremiah for that of Zechariah.'
1 “One MS. the Syriac and Persian versions, and God. Verc. et Veron. in Blanchini Evang. quad. read dice t
Feooriy (in Matt. xxvii. 9,) without any name,” observes Dr. Grey, in his valuable key to the Old Testament.
MALACHI. Malachi. MALACHI is represented by the author of the Lives of the ProA.M. 3568. phets, under the name of Epiphanius Dorotheus, and the Chronicum B.C. 436. Alexandrinum to have been of the tribe of Zebulun, and a native of
Sapha, where it is reported he was buried, having died at an early age; but not before he had rendered some effective assistance to the great synagogue, who were engaged in restoring order and prosperity to their country. As the light of prophecy terminated with his ministry, it may be considered as coinciding with the accomplishment of the first seven weeks of the prophecy of Daniel, according to Prideaux, (A.M. 3595,) but, as others suppose, a few years later. That he prophesied after Haggai and Zechariah is certain, for the worship of the temple, now restored, was regularly conducted, and his ministry probably succeeded, that of Nehemiah. His style is described by Lowth as of the middle kind, seeming to indicate that the Hebrew poetry, from the time of the Babylonish captivity, was in a declining state, and being past its prime and vigour, fast verging towards the debility of age.
After beginning his prophetic testimony with a representation of the extraordinary affection of God for the people whom he had chosen, in preference to all other nations, and to whom he had communicated the blessings of his peculiar covenant, Malachi charges them, in the name of heaven, with base ingratitude, flagrant disobedience, and impious profanation. Both priests and people are described as infected with a similar spirit of transgression, and are threatened with the most exemplary punishment. It is obvious that the prophet refers to offences of a similar kind with those which had excited the indignation of Nehemiah, which corroborates the supposition of the coincidence or near succession of his ministry to the period of that illustrious governor. He represents the priests as mercenary and profane, and the people as multiplying divorces and intermarriages with idolaters; and after denouncing the wrath of God, and declaring his weariness at their iniquities, and intimating his intention to bestow his mercies upon the heathen, where his name should be highly revered and celebrated, he passes on to announce the sudden manifestation of the Lord in his temple, after preparing his way by " the Messenger of the Covenant.” Alluding to the operations of a refiner's fire and of fuller's soap, he states that, at his appearance, he would purify the sons of Levi, that the offerings they were accustomed to present should no longer be corrupt, but acceptable, as done “in righteousness," and should thus partake of the spiritual character of those of their distinguished ancestors in “ the days of old,” and be equally “pleasant unto the Lord.” In the same spirit, and with similar methods, he declares his resolution to testify against all their trangressions, and utterly to exterminate them ; appealing, as a proof of the impossibility of allowing these mal-practices to proceed to any greater extent without A.M. 3568. a proper chastisement, to the unchangeableness of his nature, as the B.C. 436. God of Holiness. This is followed by an exhortation to repentance, accompanied with a remonstrance with them for those strange and rebellious sentiments they had cherished, and even unblushingly expressed, and promises of abundant pardon and blessing.
The conclusion of this volume of prophecy points to the advent of A.M. 3607. the great Messiah, under the magnificent image of the “Son of B.C. 397. Righteousness, arising with healing in his wings,” till which period they were directed to keep the law of Moses with its corresponding ceremonials and services, which would still be adapted to the obscure period of the prefigurative dispensation up to the æra of the breaking of the evangelical morning upon the long-benighted world. Elijah is also named as the precursor of the new economy, whose office it would be to reform the principles and enlighten the minds of the people, and thus avert the impending and merited judgments of the Almighty. Under the name of the ancient and self-mortifying prophet, was couched a prediction of John the Baptist, our Saviour's illustrious precursor, of whom it is expressly recorded, “ This (John) Matt. xi. 14 is Elias, which was for to come.”
Having thus reached a remarkable period when the stream of inspired communications suddenly ceased to flow, and a season of four hundred years, unbrightened by prophetic illumination, followed, it may not be improper, before dismissing the subject, to offer a few cursory observations on that singular order of men whose biography has so long engaged our attention.
Calculating from Moses to Malachi, the prophets occupied a General period of more than a thousand years, continually directing the main cions Jewish nation to the covenant of God and the grand development of prophetic
: testimony. its blessings in the future, but hastening æra of our Saviour's manifestation. It was their invariable reference to this great circumstance of human history that diffused a splendour over those of their minor predictions which contained an allusion to it, and impressed an importance and a glory upon each prophetic scroll as it opened in succession before the eyes of Israel. Their appointment to the office they assumed was evinced in the miraculous attestations which they were enabled to give to their testimony, of which several instances are recorded in the Sacred History, and in the instant completion of many predictions which are also the subjects of history. We have still further evidence in the daily fulfilment of their prophecies in the latter times, and, in addition to these con. siderations, their high claims to notice were sustained by an unimpeachable integrity, as well as by the very nature and tendency of their communications. The Jews held this as an axiom, that the spirit of prophecy never rested upon any but a wise and holy man, one whose passions were allayed; and it must be seen, that during
the long and glorious succession to which we have alluded, the name of no prophet occurs who is not entitled to the highest respect and reverence on account of his personal excellences. The zeal which they displayed was of no ordinary kind, both as it regards its intensity and its purity. It does not appear to be blended with the unhallowed fire of human passions, however fiercely it rages against the impieties of mankind, but equally delights in expressing the condescending benevolence and inviting forbearance of the Most High, as in representing his displeasure. Their mode of life was generally retired and austere when not immediately occupied in the duties of their office; these required their frequent attendance at courts and camps, and in the public assemblies of the people. In their common deportment they resembled the Great Teacher whom they were inspired to predict, and of whom they have been considered as, in some degree, the living prototypes.
“In general,” to quote the remarks of Dr. Cox on this subject, “ the prophets chose to live in the plainest manner; they built their houses with their own hands, and wore a coarse dress of a dark brown colour. Instead of availing themselves of the opportunities with which they were often presented, of acquiring riches, or of frequenting the luxurious cables of the great, they sometimes refused the most valuable presents. Of this we have a remarkable specimen, when Elisha declined the gifts of Naaman, and inflicted a dreadful punishment upon Gehazi for his contrivance to secure them. If the mean attire and mode of living which distinguished the ancient prophets, cannot be viewed in the light of an authoritative example to future ages, and if something may be reasonably conceded to the practices of different nations, this may be received as an axiom, that those whom providence has appointed to the sacred office ought to avoid all unnecessary show in their appearance, and all ambitious aspiring after the vain splendours of life ; for the fashion of this world passeth away,' On the other hand, it is the duty, (the allusion is to the story of the Shunammite,) and should be considered as the principle of pious individuals, to whom providence has dispensed riches or competence, to minister to the necessities of the poor servants of God; who, while devoting their lives to promote their spiritual comfort and that of their families, have neither time nor means to rescue themselves from a state of dependence and poverty.”
The prophets were accustomed to deliver their predictions aloud in some place of public resort, or otherwise affixed them to the gates of the temple. Sometimes they assumed a clothing of sackcloth, particularly to denote their humiliation and sorrow for the disobedience of the people, or on account of any judgments they were taught to anticipate; and in other cases they employed various
2 Cox's Female Scrip. Biog. Vol. II. p. 406.