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Title: Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions, Vol. 1
Author: Hengstenberg, Ernst Wilhelm, 1802-1869
Language: English
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[Pg 1]



                          THEOLOGICAL LIBRARY

                             SECOND SERIES.
                                 VOL. I.

            Hengstenberg's Christology of the Old Testament.
                                 VOL. I.

                    T. & T. CLARK, 38, GEORGE STREET.


[Pg 2]

                       MURRAY AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,

[Pg 3]



                           THE OLD TESTAMENT,

                                  AND A


                           E. W. HENGSTENBERG,
                   DR. AND PROF. OF THEOL. IN BERLIN.


                       Translated from the German,
                                 BY THE
                          REV. THEODORE MEYER.

                                VOLUME I.

                   T. AND T. CLARK, 38, GEORGE STREET.


[Pg 4]
[Blank page]

[Pg 5]

                            LIST OF CONTENTS.


Translator's Preface,                                              7
Author's Preface,                                                  9
The Messianic Prophecies in the Pentateuch,                       11
The Protevangelium,                                               14
The Blessing of Noah upon Shem and Japheth, Gen. ix. 18-27,       30
The Promise to the Patriarchs, Gen. xii. 1-3,                     46
The Blessing of Jacob upon Judah, Gen. xlix. 8-10,                57
Balaam's Prophecy, Num. xxiv. 17-19,                              98
Moses' Promise of the Prophet, Deut. xviii. 15-19,               104
The Angel of the Lord in the Pentateuch and Book of Joshua,      115
    Gen. xvi. 13,                                                117
    Gen. xviii. and xix.,                                        119
    Gen. xxxi. 11 seqq.,                                         122
    Gen. xxxii. 24,                                              123
    Gen. xlviii. 15, 16,                                         125
    Exod. xxiii. 20, 21,                                         126
    Exod. xxxii. and xxxiii.,                                    127
    Joshua v. and vi.,                                           128
The Promise in 2 Sam. vii.,                                      130
Messianic Psalms,                                                149
2 Sam. xxiii. 1-7,                                               152
The Song of Solomon,                                             159
Messianic Predictions in the Prophets,                           162
  The Prophet Hosea.
    General Preliminary Remarks,                                 165
    The Section, Chap. i.-iii.,                                  184
    Chap. i.-ii. 3,                                              197
    Chap. ii. 4-25,                                              230
    Chap. iii.,                                                  273
  The Prophet Joel.
    General Preliminary Remarks,                                 291
    Chap. i.-ii. 17,                                             302
    On chap. ii. 23,                                             325
    Chap. iii.,                                                  331
  The Prophet Amos.
    General Preliminary Remarks,                                 352
    Chap. ix.,                                                   363
  The Prophecy of Obadiah,                                       399
  The Prophet Jonah,                                             407
[Pg 6]
  The Prophet Micah.
    General Preliminary Remarks,                                 413
    Chap. i. and ii.,                                            424
    Chap. iii. and iv.,                                          440
    Chap. v. 1,                                                  479
  History of the Interpretation.
    1. Among the Jews,                                           490
    2. Among the Christians,                                     499
    The Quotation in Matt. ii. 6,                                504
    Chap. v. 2-14,                                               513
    Chap. vi. and vii.,                                          521

[Pg 7]

                          TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

The Translator avails himself of his privilege of offering a few
prefatory words, chiefly in order to express the deep obligation under
which he lies to the Rev. John Laing, Librarian in the New College,
Edinburgh, for the valuable assistance which he afforded to him in the
translation of this work. Any observation on the work itself or its
Author would be superfluous, if not presumptuous, considering the high
position which Dr Hengstenberg holds as a Biblical Scholar. High,
however, as this position is, the Translator feels confident that it
will be raised by the present work, the Author's _latest_ and _first_;
and not only revering Dr Hengstenberg as a beloved Teacher, but being
under many obligations to him for proofs of personal kindness and
friendship, the Translator sincerely rejoices in this prospect.

As regards the translation itself, it was the Translator's aim to bring
out fully the Author's meaning. This object, which ought to be the
first in every translation, has been kept steadily in view, and
preferred to all others. In rendering Dr Hengstenberg's translation of
Scripture-passages, the expressions in our Authorized Version have, as
far as possible, been retained. Wherever the division of the text in
the latter differed from that of the original text, it has been added
in a parenthesis; an exception in this respect having been made in
quotations from the Psalms only, in which this difference is almost
constant, the inscriptions not being counted in our English Version,
while they are in the Hebrew Text.

     Edinburgh, January 1854.

[Pg 8]

[Blank page]

[Pg 9]

                          THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.

The first edition of the Christology, although the impression was
unusually large, had been for years out of print. It was impossible
that the work could appear a second time in its original form. The
first volume of it--written twenty-five years ago--was a juvenile
performance, to which the Author himself had become rather a stranger;
and the succeeding volumes required references to, and comparisons
with, a large number of publications which subsequently appeared. But
for the remodelling and revising which these circumstances rendered
necessary, the Author could not find leisure, because new tasks were
ever and anon presenting themselves to him; and these he felt himself,
as it were, involuntarily impelled to undertake. But now he is led to
believe that he could no longer delay. A powerful inclination urges him
to comment on the Gospel of St John; but he thinks that the right to
gratify this inclination must first be purchased by him by answering a
call which proceeds from the more immediate sphere of his vocation, and
which he is the less at liberty to disregard, as manifold facts give
indication that the Christology has not yet completed its course. The
Author dislikes to return to regions which have been already visited by
him. He prefers the opening up to himself of paths which are new. It
cost him therefore, at first, no little struggle to devote himself for
years to the work of mere revision and emendation; but very soon, even
here, he learned the truth of the proverb: "If there be obedience in
the heart, love will soon enter."

The arrangement in the present edition differs from that which was
adopted in the former. It bears a closer resemblance to that which has
been followed in the Commentaries on the Psalms, Revelation, and the
Song of Solomon. The work opens with a discussion and commentary on
the particular Messianic prophecies, in their historical order and
connection. The general investigations with which, in the first
edition, the work commenced, are, in the present edition, to appear in
the form [Pg 10]of comprehensive treatises, at the close. The latter
have thus obtained a more solid foundation; while the objections which
might be raised against this arrangement will have force only until the
completion of the whole, which, if it please the Lord, will not be very
long delayed. The reader will then, of course, be at liberty, before he
enters upon the particular portions, to go over, cursorily in the
meantime, the closing treatises,--the proper study of which will be
appropriate, however, only after he has made himself acquainted with
the particular portions of the main body of the work.

The matter of the two sections of the first part has been entirely
rewritten. That of the two last parts appears more as a revisal
only,--so executed, however, that not a single line has been reprinted
without a renewed and careful examination.

The Author shall take care that the new edition shall not exceed the
former one in size. The space intended to be occupied by the enlarged
discussions, and by the new investigations, will be gained by
omissions. These, however, will be limited to such matters as now
clearly appear to be superfluous; _so that the old will not retain any
value when compared with the new edition._ The Author, had he pursued
his usual method of representation, would have curtailed many points,
particularly the history of the interpretation. But the mode of
treating the subject which he had previously adopted, is not without
its advantages, and has a certain right to be retained. The former
character of the work, in so far as the avoidance of everything
properly ascetic is concerned, has been, in the present edition, also

Scientific Theology is at present threatened by serious dangers in our
Church. Works of an immediately practical interest more and more
exclusively occupy the noblest minds, since the problems which present
themselves in this field are indeed unfathomable. But the Lord of the
Church will take care that an excellent gift, which He has bestowed
upon German Christendom especially, shall not, for any length of time,
continue to be neglected. If such were to be the case, a more general
decay would be gradually brought on; and even those interests would be
injured to which at present, with a zeal, noble indeed, but little
thoughtful, solid theological learning is sacrificed.

"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy name give glory."

[Pg 11]


In the Messianic prophecies contained in Genesis we cannot fail to
perceive a remarkable progress in clearness and definiteness.

The first Messianic prediction, which was uttered immediately after the
fall of Adam, is also the most indefinite. Opposed to the awful
threatening there stands the consolatory promise, that the dominion of
sin, and of the evil arising from sin, shall not last for ever, but
that the seed of the woman shall, at some future time, overthrow their
dreaded conqueror. With the exception of the victory itself, everything
is here left undetermined. We are told neither the mode in which it is
to be achieved, nor whether it shall be accomplished by some peculiarly
gifted race, or family of the progeny of the woman, or by some single
individual from among her descendants. There is nothing more than a
very slight hint that the latter will be the case.

After the destruction of a whole sinful world, when only Noah with his
three sons had been left, the _general_ promise is, to a certain
extent, defined. Deliverance is to come from the descendants of Shem;
Japhet shall become a partaker of this deliverance; Ham is passed over
in silence.

The prophecy becomes still more definite when the Lord begins to
prepare the way for the appearance of this deliverance, by separating
from the corrupt mass a single individual--Abraham--in order to make
him the depositary of His revelations. The Lord, moreover, according to
the good pleasure of His will, further specifies which of the
descendants of Abraham, to the exclusion of all the rest, is to inherit
this dignity, with all its accompanying blessings. From among the
posterity of Shem, the Lord sets apart first the family of Abraham,
then that of [12] Isaac, and lastly that of Jacob, as the family from
which salvation is to come. Yet even these predictions, distinct though
they be when compared with those previously uttered, are still very
indefinite when compared with those subsequently given, and when seen
in the light of the actual fulfilment. Even in these, the blessing only
is foretold, but not its author. It still remained a matter of
uncertainty whether salvation should be extended to all the other
nations of the earth through a single individual, or through an entire
people descended from the Patriarchs. The former is obscurely
indicated; but the mode in which the blessing was to be imparted was
left in darkness.

This obscurity is partially removed by the last Messianic prophecy
contained in Gen. xlix. 10. After what had previously taken place, we
might well expect that the question as to which of Jacob's twelve sons
should have the privilege of becoming the source of deliverance to the
whole earth, would not be left undetermined; nor could we imagine that
Jacob, when, just before his death, and with the spirit of a prophet,
he transferred to his sons the promises which had been given to his
ancestors and himself, should have passed over in silence the most
important part of them. On the contrary, by being transferred to Judah,
the promise of the Messiah acquires not only the expected limitation,
but an unexpected increase of clearness and precision. Here, for the
first time, the _person_ of the Messiah is brought before us; here also
the _nature_ of His kingdom is more distinctly pointed out by His being
represented as the peaceful one, and the peacemaker who will unite,
under His mild sceptre, all the nations of the whole earth. Judah is,
in this passage, placed in the centre of the world's history; he shall
obtain dominion, and not lose it until it has been realized to its
fullest extent by means of the _Shiloh_ descending from him, to whom
all the nations of the earth shall render a willing obedience.

The subject-matter of the last four books of the Pentateuch would
naturally prevent us from expecting that the Messianic prophecies
should occupy so prominent a place in them as they do in Genesis. The
object contemplated in these books is rather to prepare effectually the
way for the Messiah, by laying the theocratic institutions on a firm
foundation, and by establishing the law which is intended to produce
the knowledge of sin, and [Pg 13]to settle discipline, and by means of
which the image of God is to be impressed on the whole national life.
If the hope of the Messiah was to be realized in a proper manner, and
to produce its legitimate effect, it was necessary that the people
should first be accustomed to this new order of life; that, for the
present, their regards should not be too much drawn away from this
their proximate and immediate vocation. Yet, even in the last four
books there are not wanting allusions to Him who, as the end of the
law, was, from the very beginning, to be set before the eyes of the

In Num. xxiv. 17-19, Balaam beholds an Israelitish kingdom raised
absolutely above the kingdoms of the world, extending over the whole
earth, and all-powerful; and he sees it in the form of an _ideal_ king,
with reference to Jacob's prophecy contained in Gen. xlix. 10,
according to which the kingdom rising in Judah shall find its full and
final realization in the person of one king--the Messiah.

We have here the future King of the Jews saluted from the midst of the
heathen world, corresponding to the salutation of the manifested one by
the wise men from the East: compare Matt. ii. 1, 2.

From the whole position of Moses in the economy of the revelations of
God, it is, _a priori_, scarcely conceivable that he should have
contented himself with communicating a prophecy of the Messiah uttered
by a non-Israelite. We expect that, as a prefiguration of the testimony
which, in the presence of the chief among the apostles, he bore to the
Messiah after He had appeared (compare Matt. xvii. 3), he should, on
his own behalf, testify his faith in Him, and direct the people to Him.
This testimony we have in Deut. xviii. 15-19. It is natural that Moses'
attestation should have reference to Christ in so far as He is his
antitype. He bears witness to Christ as the true Prophet, as the
Mediator of the divine revelation--thus enlarging the slender
indications of Christ's prophetical office given in Gen. xlix. 10. A
new and important feature of Messianic prophecy is here, for the first
time, brought forward; and because of this, the character of the
prophecy is that of a germ. Behind the person of the future Prophet,
which is as yet _ideal_, the _real_ person of Him who is the Prophet in
an absolute sense, is, in the meantime, concealed. It is reserved for
the future development [Pg 14]of the prophetic prediction to separate
that which is here beheld as still blended in a single picture.

_Finally_, the doctrine of the Divine Mediator of the unseen God, of
the Angel of the Lord, or of the Logos, which forms the theological
foundation for the Christology, is already found pervading the Books of

After this survey, we now proceed to an exposition of the particular

                          THE PROTEVANGELIUM.

As the mission of Christ was rendered necessary by the fall of man, so
the first dark intimation of Him was given immediately after the fall.
It is found in the sentence of punishment which was passed upon the
tempter. Gen. iii. 14, 15. A correct understanding of it, however, can
be obtained only after we have ascertained who the tempter was.

It is, in the first place, unquestionable that a real serpent was
engaged in the temptation; so that the opinion of those who maintain
that the serpent is only a symbolical signification of the evil spirit,
cannot be admitted.[1] There must be unity and uniformity in the
interpretation of a connected passage. But the allegorical
interpretation of the _whole_ is rendered impossible by the following
considerations:--The passage stands in a book of a strictly historical
character; it is connected with what follows, where the history of the
same pair who, in this section appear as actors, is carried forward;
the condition of mankind announced to them in this passage as a
punishment, actually exists; there is the absence of every indication
from which it might be inferred that the author intended to write an
allegory, and not a history; there exist various passages of the New
Testament (_e.g._, 2 Cor. xi. 3; 1 Tim. ii. 13, 14; Rom. v. 12), in
which the context of the passage before us is referred to as a real
historical fact;--and there are the embarrassment, ambiguity, and
arbitrariness shown by the allegorical interpreters whenever they
attempt to exhibit the truth intended to be conveyed; whereas
perspicuity is a characteristic essential to an allegory.--The subtlety
of the [Pg 15] serpent, pointed out in chap. iii. 1, is a natural
attribute of that animal; and the comparison, in this respect, of the
serpent with the other beasts, clearly indicates that a real serpent is
spoken of. To such an one the denunciation of the punishment must
necessarily, in the first instance, be referred. The last two reasons
also exclude the opinion that Satan assumed merely the semblance of a

The serpent itself cannot, however, have acted independently; it can
only have served as an instrument to the evil spirit. The position
which the serpent would occupy, in the event of our considering it as
the self-acting, independent seducer, would be in direct contradiction
to the position assigned to the animal creation throughout Holy
Scripture--especially in the history of the creation--and would break
down the limits which, according to it, separate man and beast. By
such an assumption we should be transferred from the Israelitish
territory--which is distinguished by the most sharply defined
limitations of the respective spheres of God, angels, men, and
beasts--to the heathenish, were these are all mixed up together, and
where all the distinctions disappear in the confusion. Such a fact
would be altogether isolated and without a parallel in Holy Scripture.
Nor is it legitimate to adduce the argument, that the conditions and
circumstances of the paradisaic period were different from those of
subsequent times. It is indeed true, according to the statements
contained in the Mosaic account itself, that the animal world of that
time was different from that of the present; but whatever, and how
great soever, this difference may have been, it had no reference to the
fundamental relation of the beasts; and hence we cannot, from it,
explain the high intellectual powers with which the serpent appears
endowed, and by the abuse of which it succeeded in seducing men. Man,
as the only being on earth created in the likeness and image of God,
is, in Gen. i., strictly distinguished from all other living beings,
and invested with the dominion over them. Into man alone did God
breathe the breath of life (ii. 7); and, according to ii. 19, 20, man
recognises the great gulf which is fixed betwixt him and the world of
beasts. This gulf would be entirely filled up, the serpent would
altogether step beyond the sphere appointed by the Creator to the world
of beasts, if there were no _background_ in Gen. iii. 1-5. _Further_,
The words [Pg 16] of the serpent are an effect of wickedness: they
raise in man doubts as to the love of God, in order thereby to seduce
him to apostasy, and bring about the execution upon him of the fearful
threatening, "On the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die." The serpent does not stand in the truth; it speaks lies; it
represents to man as the highest good, that which in truth is the
highest evil. Such language cannot proceed spontaneously from a being,
the creation of which falls within the work of the six days during
which the whole animal creation was made. For everything created within
this space of time was _good_, according to the remark constantly
repeated in the history of creation. To this we must add the nature of
the curse itself, in which a higher reference to an invisible author of
the temptation shines clearly through the lower reference to the
visible one; and, further, the remark in iii. 1, "Now the serpent was
more subtle," etc., evidently points to something beyond the natural
subtlety of the serpent, as the result of which the subsequent words
cannot be understood, but behind which we may discover the intimation:
let him who reads, understand.

The view, that the serpent was the sole independent agent in this
transaction, is thus refuted by internal reasons. It is set aside by
the testimony of tradition also. It was an opinion universally
prevalent among the Jews, that Satan himself had been active in the
temptation of the first man. It is found in _Philo_; and in the Book of
Wisdom, ii. 24, it is said, "By the envy of _Satan_, death came into
the world." In the later Jewish writings, _Sammael_, the head of the
evil spirits, is called הנחש הקדמוני "the old serpent," or simply נחש
"serpent," because in the form of a serpent he tempted Eve. (See the
passage in _Eisenmenger's entdecktes Judenthum_ i. S. 822.) In the
sacred books of the Persians also, the agency of Satan in the fall of
our first parents is taught. According to the _Zendavesta_ (ed. by
_Kleuker_, Th. 3, S. 84, 85), the first men, Meshia and Meshianeh, were
created by God in a state of purity and goodness, and destined for
happiness, on condition of humility of heart, obedience to the
requirements of the law, and purity in thoughts, words, and actions.
But they were deceived by Ahriman, "this mischievous one who from the
beginning sought only to deceive, were induced to rebel against God,
and forfeited their happiness by the eating of fruits." According to
the same book (Th. iii. [Pg 17] S. 62), Ahriman in the form of a
serpent springs down from heaven to earth; and another evil spirit is
called (Th. ii. S. 217) the serpent--_Dew._ (Compare _Rhode_, _die
heilige Sage des Zendvolkes_, S. 392.) These facts prove that at the
time when the Persian religion received Jewish elements (compare
_Stuhr_, _die Religionssysteme des Orientes_, S. 373), and hence, soon
after the captivity, the doctrine of Satan's agency in the temptation
of our first parents was prevalent among the Jews.

But of decisive weight upon this point is the evidence furnished by the
New Testament. We must here above all consider the important testimony
supplied by the fact of the history of the first and second Adam being
parallel (Rom. v. 12 sqq.; 1 Cor. xv. 45 sqq.),--a testimony, the
weight and importance of which have, in modern times, been again
pointed out by _Hahn_ in his _Dogmatik_. The necessity of Christ's
temptation by the prince of this world, in order that He, by His firm
resistance, might deprive him of his dominion over mankind, indicates
that Adam was assailed by the same tempter, and, by being overcome,
laid the foundation of that dominion.

Among the express verbal testimonies of the New Testament, we must
first consider the declarations of the Lord Himself; and among these
the passage John viii. 44 requires, above all, to be examined. In that
passage the Lord says: ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὲ, καὶ τὰς
ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν θέλετε ποιεῖν. Ἑκεῖνος ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπ᾽
ἀρχῆς, καὶ ἐν τῆ ἀληθείᾳ οὐχ ἕστηκεν· ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν αὐτῷ. Ὅταν
λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος, ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ· ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ.
There is, indeed, an element of truth in the opinion, that Satan is in
this passage called the murderer of men from the beginning, with
reference to the murder by Cain--an opinion lately brought forward
again by _Nitzsch_, _Lücke_, and others. This is evident from a
comparison of 1 John iii. 12, 15, and of Rev. xii. 3. (See my
commentary on this passage.) Moreover, the words in ver. 40, "Ye seek
to kill Me," have a more direct parallelism in Cain's murder of his
brother, than in the death which Satan brought upon our first parents;
although it is altogether wrong to maintain, as _Lücke_ does, that
Satan at that time committed only a _spiritual_ murder, which could not
have come under notice. Bodily death also came upon mankind through the
[Pg 18] temptation. (Compare Gen. ii. 17, iii. 19; Wisd. ii. 24; Rom.
v. 12.) But when the reference to Cain's slaying his brother is brought
forward as the sole, or even as the principal one, we must absolutely
reject it. Cain's murder of his brother comes into consideration only
as an effect of the evil principle which was introduced into human
nature by the first temptation; as, indeed, it appears in the book of
Genesis itself as the fruit of the poisonous tree, the planting of
which is detailed in chap. iii. The same murderous spirit which
impelled Satan to bring man under the dominion of death by the lie, "Ye
shall not surely die," was busy in Cain also, and seduced him to slay
his pious brother. The following reasons forbid an exclusive reference
to the deed of Cain:--1. The murdering of man by Satan is brought into
the closest connection with his _lie_. In connection with Cain's deed,
however, there was not even the appearance of falsehood; while, in the
case before us, lies, false and deceitful promises of high blessings to
be attained, and the raising of suspicions against God, were the very
means by which he seduced man, and brought him under the power of sin.
The words of Jesus, when they are understood according to their
simple meaning, carry us back to an event in the primitive times,
in which murder and the spirit of falsehood went hand in hand. 2. The
co-operation of Satan in Cain's deed is not expressly mentioned in
Genesis. That there was any such we can with certainty infer, only if
this event be viewed in close connection with what Satan did against
our first parents,--if, behind the serpent, Satan be concealed.
Whensoever Jesus has to deal with Jews, He does not teach any
mysterious doctrines, but makes an open appeal to the events narrated
in Scripture. 3. The words, "Ye are of your father the devil," point to
the seed of the serpent spoken of in Gen. iii. 15. 4. The words, "From
the beginning," direct to an event which happened at the first
beginnings of mankind, and in which our first parents took a part.
Whatever this may be, the event in question must be the first in which
the devil manifested himself as the murderer of man. Now, as by the
Jews of that time the temptation of the first man, in consequence of
which death entered the world, was attributed to sin--and this appears
not only from what has been already said, but also from a passage in
the _Sohar Chadash_, referred to by _Tholuck_, in which the wicked are
[Pg 19] called "The children of the old serpent which has slain Adam
and all who are descended from him"--it is evident that, by "the
murderer of men from the beginning," Jesus can mean only the first
tempter of men. That the words, "from the beginning," refer to the fall
of the first man, is also clearly shown by the parallel passages 1 John
iii. 8, and Rev. xii. 9, xx. 2. 5. Jesus says: Satan stands not in the
truth, does not move in its element, because there is no truth in him.
This points to a well-known event, in which Satan displayed his lying
nature; and such is found only in the account of man's fall. 6. Jesus
calls Satan not only a liar, but, by way of emphasis, He designates him
as the father of lies. But Satan can be designated thus, only with
reference to a lie of his which is charged against him by Scripture,
and which preceded all lies on earth. Now that is the lie of which we
have an account in Gen. iii. 4, 5. The words, "and the father of it,"
correspond with the words, "from the beginning."

Another declaration of our Lord is found in St Matthew xiii. 38: τὰ δὲ
ζιζάνιά εἰσιν οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ πονηροῦ (_i.e._, _mali_, _masculinum_, according
to _Bengel_), compared with ver. 39: ὁ δὲ ἐχθρὸς ὁ σπείρας αὐτά ἐστιν ὁ
διάβολος. The children of the wicked one, or of the devil, who are
spoken of in this passage, are the seed of the serpent who is mentioned
in Gen. iii. 15, and to whom allusion is made in the words ὁ σπείρας
αὐτα also. Less incontrovertible is the passage in St Matthew xxiii. 33,
where the Lord addressed the Pharisees as ὄφεις, γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν.
(Compare Matt. xii. 34, iii. 7.) _Olshausen_, in his commentary on
Matt. iii. 7, gives it as his opinion that the serpent designates the
_diabolic nature_. But, according to Matt. xii. 34, the point of
comparison is only the wickedness (πονηροὶ ὄντες), and it is quite
sufficient to refer it to Ps. cxl. 4, where David says of the future
enemies of his dynasty and family foreseen by him, "They have sharpened
their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips"
(compare also Ps. lviii. 5; Deut. xxxii. 33; Isa. lix. 5),--a passage
to which special allusion is made in the words, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ
λαλεῖν, Matt. xii. 34, and in the connection of serpents with vipers,
which would be strange when referred to the history of the fall of the
first man.

Let us now turn from the Lord to His disciples. Just as is done in the
account of the transaction itself, Paul, in 2 Cor. [Pg 20] xi. 3 (ὡς ὁ
ὄφις Εὔαν ἐξηπάτησεν ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτοῦ), places the invisible cause
of the temptation in the background, and speaks of the visible one
only. But that behind the serpent he beholds Satan, appears immediately
from ver. 14 and 15: Καὶ οὐ θαυμαστόν· αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ Σατανᾶς
μετασχηματίζεται εἰς ἄγγελον φωτός. Οὐ μέγα οὖν εἰ καὶ οἱ διάκονοι αὐτοῦ
μετασχηματίζονται ὡς διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης, where the μετασχηματίζεται is
explained by _Bengel_: "_Transformat se: Præsens, i.e., solet se
transformare. Fecit id jam in Paradiso._" The Apostle alludes to an
event narrated in Scripture, where Satan shows himself in this
character. But such an occurrence is not found anywhere else than in
Gen. iii. 4, 5, the only passage where Satan represents himself as the
friend and saviour of men. We have here the explanation of the
ἐξηπάτησεν in ver. 3.--In Rom. xvi. 20, the words, Ὁ δὲ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης
συντρίψει τὸν Σατανᾶν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας ὑμῶν, contain an allusion to Gen.
iii. 15, too plain to be mistaken. The Apostle recognises, in the
promise of the victory over the serpent given there, a pledge of the
victory over Satan. The words of Paul to Elymas in Acts xiii. 10, "O
thou child of the devil," likewise contain a distinct reference to that
which, in the history of man's fall, is written concerning the serpent.
In the charge of subtlety, mischief, and enmity to all righteousness
which he brings against him, there is an evident allusion to Genesis.

In 1 John iii. 8, Ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν· ὅτι ἀπ᾽
ἀρχῆς ὁ διάβολος ἁμαρτάνει, allusion is made to a most heinous sin
committed by Satan at the first beginnings of the human race. But of
such a sin there is no account, unless Satan be concealed behind the
serpent.--In Rev. xii. 9 (comp. xx. 2), Satan is called the great
dragon, and the _old serpent_; the last of which designations refers to
the passage now under consideration.

The agency of Satan in the fall of man has been controverted, on the
plea that, had such been in operation, it ought to have been mentioned.
But the absence of any such mention may be explained on the ground that
it is not the intention of the holy writers to give any information
respecting the existence of the devil, but rather to give an account of
his _real_ manifestation, to which, afterwards, the doctrine connected
itself. The judgment of the reader should not, as it were, be [Pg 21]
anticipated. The simple fact is communicated to him, in order that,
from it, he may form his own opinion.

_Further_,--It has been asserted that, in the entire Old Testament, and
until the time of the Babylonian captivity, no trace of an evil spirit
is to be found, and that, hence, it cannot be conceived that his
existence is here presupposed. But this assertion may now be regarded
as obsolete and without foundation. Closely connected with the
affirmation, to which allusion has just been made, is the opinion which
assigns the Book of Job to the time of the captivity, an opinion which
is now almost universally abandoned. This book must necessarily have
been written before the time of the captivity, because Jeremiah refers
to it, both in his Prophecies (_e.g._, Jer. xx. 15 sq., which passage
evidently rests on Job iii.) and in his Lamentations. (Compare, for a
fuller discussion of this subject, _Küper's_ "_Jeremias libror.
Sacrorum interpres atque Vindex_") The reference in Amos iv. 3 to Job
ix. 8, and several allusions occurring in the Prophecies of Isaiah
(_e.g._, chap. xl. 2 and lxi. 7, which refer to the issue of Job's
history, which is here viewed as a prophecy of the future fate of the
Church; the peculiar use of צבא in xl. 2, which alludes to Job vii. 1;
chap. li. 9, which rests on Job xxvi. 13), lead us still farther back.
The assertion of those also who feel themselves compelled to
acknowledge the pre-exilic origin of the book, but who maintain, at the
same time, that the Satan of this book is not the Satan of the later
books of the Old Testament, but rather a good angel who only holds an
odious office, is more and more admitted to be futile; so that we must
indeed wonder how even _Beck_ (_Lehrwissenschaft_ i. S. 249) could be
carried away by it, and could make the attempt to support this
pretended fact by the supposition, that the apostasy of part of the
angels from God, and their kingdom of darkness, are ever advancing and
progressing. The principal evil spirit is, in Zech. iii. 1, introduced
as the adversary of the holy ones of God; and this very name is
sufficient to contradict such a supposition, for the name is
descriptive of the wickedness of the character. He who, under all
circumstances, is an "adversary," must certainly carry the principle of
hatred in his heart. He moves about on the earth for the purpose of
finding materials for his accusations, and grounds on which he may
raise suspicions. It is a characteristic [Pg 22] feature, that he whose
darkness does not comprehend the light, knows of no other piety but
that which has its origin in the hope of reward. It is quite evident
that it is the desire of his heart to destroy Job by sufferings. The
only circumstance which seems to give any countenance to the
supposition is, that he appears in the midst of the angels, before the
throne of God. But this circumstance is deprived of all its
significancy, if the fact be kept in view--which, indeed, is most
evident--that the book is, from beginning to end, of a purely poetical
character. The form of it is easily accounted for by the intention to
impress this most important thought: that Satan stands in absolute
dependence upon God; that, with all his hatred to the children of God,
he can do nothing against them, but must, on the contrary, rather
subserve the accomplishment of the thoughts of God's love regarding
them.--Isaiah likewise points to evil spirits in chap. xiii. 21, xxxiv.
14. (Compare my Comment. on Rev. xviii. 2.)--But even in some passages
of the Pentateuch itself, the doctrine regarding Satan is brought
before us. It is true that it has been erroneously supposed to be
contained in Deut. xxxii. 17 (compare on this opinion, my Comment. on
Ps. cvi. 37); but only bigotry and prejudice can refuse to admit that,
under the _Asael_, to whom, according to Lev. xvi., a goat was sent
into the wilderness, Satan is to be understood. (The arguments in
support of this view will be found in the author's "_Egypt and the
Books of Moses_," p. 168 ff.)[2]

But we must advert to two additional considerations. _First_,--To
every one who is in the least familiar with the territory [Pg 23]
of divine revelation, and who has any conception of the relation in
which the Books of Moses stand to the whole succeeding revelation, it
will, _a priori_, be inconceivable, that a doctrine which afterwards
occupies so prominent a position in the revealed books should not have
already existed, in the germ at least, in the Books of Moses.
_Secondly_,--We should altogether lose the origin and foundation of the
doctrine concerning Satan, if he be removed from, or explained away in,
the history of the fall. That the first indication of this doctrine
cannot by any means be found in the Book of Job, has already been
pointed out by _Hofmann_, who remarks in the _Schriftbeweis_ i. S. 378,
that Satan appears in this book as a well-known being, as much so as
are the sons of God. Nor is Lev. xvi. an appropriate place for
introducing, for the first time, this doctrine into the knowledge of
the people. The doctrinal essence of the symbolical action there
prescribed is this:--that Satan, the enemy of the Congregation of God,
has no power over those who are reconciled to God; that, with their
sins forgiven by God, they may joyfully appear before, and mock and
triumph over, him. The whole ritual must have had in it something
altogether strange for the Congregation of the Lord, if they had not
already known of Satan from some other source. The questions: Who is
Asael? What have we to do with him? must have forced themselves upon
every one's mind. It is not the custom of Scripture to introduce its
doctrines so abruptly, to prescribe any duty which is destitute of the
solid foundation of previous instruction.

If thus we may consider it as proved, (1) that the serpent was an agent
in the temptation, and (2) that it served only as an instrument to
Satan, the real tempter,--then we have also thereby proved that the
curse denounced against the tempter must have a double sense. It must,
in the first place, refer to the instrument; but, in its chief import,
it must bear upon the real tempter, for it was properly he alone who
had done that which merited the punishment and the curse. Let us now,
upon this principle, proceed to the interpretation of our passage.

It is said in ver. 14: "_And Jehovah Elohim said unto the serpent,
Because thou hast done this, thou shalt be cursed above all cattle
and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go,
and dust thou shalt eat all the days of thy life._"--If we do not [Pg
24] look beyond the serpent, these words have in them something
incomprehensible, inasmuch as the serpent is destitute of that
responsibility which alone could justify so severe a sentence. There is
no difficulty attached to the idea that the serpent must suffer. It
shares this fate along with all the other irrational earthly creation,
which is made subject to vanity (Rom. viii. 20), and which must
accompany man, for whose sake it was created, through all the stages of
his existence. But the question here at issue is not about mere
suffering, but about well-merited punishment. The serpent is not, like
the whole remaining earth, cursed for the sake of man (Gen. iii. 17),
but it is cursed because "it has done this." Punishment presupposes
being created in the image of God, and, according to chap. i., such
a creation is peculiar only to man. But as soon as we assume the
co-operation of an invisible author of the temptation, by whom the
serpent was animated, everything which is here threatened against the
visible instrument acquires a symbolical meaning. The degradation
inflicted upon the latter,--the announcement of the defeat which it is
to sustain in the warfare with man,--represent in a figure the fate of
the real tempter only. The instrument used by him in the temptation is
at the same time the symbol of the punishment which he is destined to

Although it be said that the serpent should be "cursed above all
cattle," etc., this does not necessarily imply that the other animals
are also cursed, any more than the words, "subtle above all the
beasts," imply that all other beasts are subtle. It is certainly not
always necessary that the whole existing difference should be pointed
out. The sense is simply: Thou shalt be more cursed than all cattle. In
a similar manner it is said, in the song of Deborah, concerning Jael,
"Blessed above women shall Jael be," Judges v. 24; for this does not
imply that all other women are blessed, but means only that, whether
they be blessed or not, Jael, at all events, is the most blessed.

The _eating of dust_ must not be interpreted literally, as if the
serpent were to feed upon dust; but, since it is to creep on the
ground, it cannot be but that it swallow dust along with its food. Thus
we find in Ps. cii., in "the prayer of the afflicted," ver. 10, "For I
have eaten ashes like bread," used of occasional swallowing of ashes.
As an expression of deepest humiliation, the [Pg 25] licking of dust is
used in Mic. vii. 17, where it is said of the enemies of the Church,
"They shall lick dust like the serpent." In Is. xlix. 23, compared with
Ps. lii. 9, the licking up the dust of the feet is likewise inflicted
upon the humbled enemies. If, undoubtedly, there be, even in these
passages, a slight reference to the one before us, the allusion to it
is still plainer in Is. lxv. 25, where it is said, "And dust shall be
the serpent's meat." Of the denunciation in Gen. iii. 14, 15, the
eating of dust alone shall remain, while the bruising of the heel shall
come to an end. And while all other creatures shall escape from the
doom which has come upon them in consequence of the fall of man, the
serpent--the instrument used in the temptation--shall, agreeably to the
words in the sentence of punishment, "All the days of thy life," remain
condemned to a perpetual abasement, thus prefiguring the fate of the
real tempter, for whom there is no share in the redemption.

The opinion which has been again of late defended by _Hofmann_ and
_Baumgarten_, that the serpent had before the fall the same shape as
after it, only that after the fall it possesses as a punishment what
before the fall was its nature, stands plainly opposed to the context.
Even _a priori_, and in accordance with Satan's usual mode of
proceeding, it is probable that he, who loves to transform himself into
an angel of light, should have chosen an attractive and charming
instrument of temptation. This view loses all that is strange in it, if
only we consider the change of the serpent, not as an isolated thing,
but in connection with the great change which, after the fall of man,
affected the whole nature (comp. Gen. i. 31, according to which the
entire animal creation had, previously to the fall, impressed upon it
the image of man's innocence and peace, and the law of destruction did
not pervade it, Gen. iii. 17; Rom. viii. 20); and if only we keep in
mind that, before the fall, the whole animal world was essentially
different from what it is now, so that we cannot by any means think of
forming to ourselves a distinct Image of the serpent, as _Luther_ and
others have done.

The serpent is thus, by its disgusting form, and by the degradation of
its whole being, doomed to be the visible representative of the kingdom
of darkness, and of its head, to whom it had served as an instrument.
But the words, when applied to the head himself, give expression to the
idea: "extreme contempt, [Pg 26] shame, and abasement shall be thy
lot." Thus _Calmet_ remarks on this passage: "This enemy of mankind
crawls, as it were, on his belly, on account of the shame and disgrace
to which he is reduced." Satan imagined that, by means of the fall of
man, he would enlarge his kingdom and extend his power. But to the eye
of God the matter appeared in a totally different light, because, along
with the fall, He beheld the redemption.

Ver. 15. "_And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed; and it shall bruise thy head, and thou
shalt bruise its heel._" In the two other passages where the word שוף
occurs (Ps. cxxxix. 11 [compare my commentary on that passage] and Job
ix. 17), it undeniably signifies: "to crush," "to bruise." This
signification, therefore, which is confirmed by the Chaldee Paraphrast,
and which Paul also follows in Rom. xvi. 20 (συντρίψει, whilst the LXX.
have τηρήσει), must here also be retained. It is only in appearance
that, in the second passage referred to, the signification "to crush"
seems to be inappropriate; for there, "to crush" is used in the sense
of "to destroy," "to annihilate," just as in Jonah iv. 7, "to strike"
is used of the sting of an insect, because its effect is similar to
that produced by a stroke. The words ראש and עקב are a second
accusative governed by the verb, whereby the place of the action is
more distinctly marked out. That by "head" and "heel"--a _majus_ and a
_minus_--a victory of mankind over the seed of the serpent should be
signified, was seen by _Calvin_, who says, "Meanwhile we see how
graciously the Lord deals even in the punishment of men, inasmuch as He
does not give the serpent power to do more than wound the heel, while
to man is given the power of wounding its head. For the words 'head'
and 'heel' point out only what is superior and what is inferior." That
these words are by no means intended to describe the mutual antipathy
between men and serpents, is rendered evident by the consideration,
that, if such were the intention, no special punishment would be
denounced against the serpent, while, according to the context, such
denunciation is certainly designed by the writer. The words treat of
the punishment of the serpent; it is only in ver. 16 that the sentence
against man is proclaimed. It is true that the bite of a serpent is
dangerous when it is applied even to the heel, for the poison thence
penetrates the whole body; but to this fact in natural history there is
here [Pg 27] no allusion, nor is the _biting_ of the serpent at all the
point here in question. The contrast between head and heel is simply
that which exists between the noble and less noble parts,--those parts
of which the injury is commonly curable or incurable. The objection:
"The serpent creeps, man walks upright; if then an enmity exists
between them, how can it be otherwise than that man wounds its head,
and that it wounds his heel?" entirely overlooks the consideration,
that, according to ver. 14, it is in consequence of the divine curse
that the serpent creeps in the dust. In this degraded condition--a
condition which is not natural, but inflicted as a punishment--it is
implied that the serpent can attack man at his heel only. This plain
connection between ver. 15 and 14 is evidently overlooked by those who
hold the opinion, that this mutual enmity is pernicious equally to man
and serpent. The very circumstance that the serpent is condemned to go
on its belly, and to eat dust, whilst man retains that erect walk in
which the image of God is reflected, paves the way for the announcement
of the victory in ver. 16.

Experience bears ample witness to the truth of the divine sentence,
that there shall, in future, be enmity between the seed of the serpent
and mankind, in so far as this sentence refers to the instrument of the
temptation; for abhorrence of the serpent is natural to man. Thus
_Calvin_ remarks: "It is in consequence of a secret natural instinct
that man abhors them; and as often as the sight of a serpent fills us
with horror, the recollection of our apostasy is renewed."

But, in the fate of the serpent which is here announced, there is an
indication of the doom of the spiritual author of the temptation. It
has been objected that any reference to Satan is inadmissible, because
the "seed of the serpent" here spoken of cannot designate wicked men,
who are "children of the devil;" for these, too, belong to the seed of
the woman, and cannot, therefore, be put in opposition to it. But
against this objection _Storr_, in his treatise, _de Protevangelio_,
remarks: "We easily see that many of the seed of the woman likewise
belong to the seed of the serpent; but they have become unworthy of
that name, since they apostatized to the common enemy of their race."
It is quite true that, by the seed of the woman, her whole progeny is
designated; but they who enter into communion [Pg 28] with the
hereditary enemy of the human race are viewed as having excommunicated
themselves. Compare Gen. xxi. 12, where Isaac alone is declared to be
the true descendant of Abraham, and his other sons are, as false
descendants, excluded. Moreover, not only wicked men, but also the
angels of Satan (Matt. xxv. 41; Rev. xii. 7-9), belong to the seed of
the serpent.

The greater number of the earlier Christian interpreters were of
opinion that, by the seed of the woman, the Messiah is directly pointed
at. But to this opinion it may be objected, that it does violence to
the language to understand, by the seed of the woman, any single
individual; and the more so, since we are compelled to understand, by
the seed of the serpent, a plurality of individuals, viz., the
spiritual children of Satan, the heads and members of the kingdom of
darkness. _Further_,--As far as the sentence has reference to the
serpent, the human race alone can be understood by the seed of the
woman; and to this, therefore, the victory over the invisible author of
the temptation must also be adjudged. The reference to the human race
is also indicated by the connection between "her seed" in this
verse, and the words, "Thou shalt bring forth sons," in ver. 16.
_Finally_,--As the person of the Messiah does not yet distinctly appear
even in the promises to the Patriarchs, this passage cannot well be
explained of a personal Messiah; inasmuch as, by such an explanation,
the progressive expansion of the Messianic prophecy in Genesis would be

If, however, by the seed of the woman we understand the entire progeny
of the woman, we obtain the following sense: "It is true that thou hast
now inflicted upon the woman a severe wound, and that thou and thine
associates will continue to assail her: but, notwithstanding thine
eager desire to injure, thou shalt be able to inflict on mankind only
such wounds as are curable; while, on the contrary, the posterity of
the woman shall, at some future period, vanquish thee, and make thee
feel all thy weakness."

This interpretation is found as early as in the Targum of Jonathan, and
in that of Jerusalem, where, by the seed of the woman, are understood
the Jews, who, at the time of the Messiah, shall overcome Sammael.
Thus, too, does Paul explain it in Rom. xvi. 20, where the promise is
regarded as referring to Christians as a body. It has found,
subsequently, an able defender [Pg 29] in _Calvin_[3] and, in modern
times, in _Herder_.[4] The treatise of _Storr_, too (in the _Opusc._
ii.), is devoted to its defence.

Even according to this interpretation, the passage justly bears the
name of the _Protevangelium_, which has been given to it by the Church.
It is only in general terms, indeed, that the future victory of the
kingdom of light over that of darkness is foretold, and not the person
of the Redeemer who should lead in the warfare, and bestow the strength
which should be necessary for maintaining it. Anything beyond this we
are not even entitled to expect at the first beginnings of the human
race; a gradual progress is observable in the kingdom of grace, as well
as in that of nature.

It is certainly, however, not a matter of chance that the posterity of
the woman is not broken up into a plurality, but that, in order to
designate it, expressions in the singular (זרע and הוא) are chosen.
This unity, which, in the meanwhile, it is true, is only _ideal_, was
chosen with regard to the person of the Redeemer, who comprehends
within Himself the whole human race. And it is not less significant,
and has certainly a deeper ground, that the victory over the serpent is
assigned to the seed of the woman, not to the posterity of Adam; and
though, indeed, [Pg 30] the circumstance that the woman was first
deceived may have been the proximate cause of it, yet it cannot be
exclusively referred to, and derived from, it. By these remarks we come
still nearer to the view of the ancient Church.

Footnote 1: So, _e.g._ _Cramer_ in the _Nebenarbeiten zur Theologischen
Literatur_, St. 2.

Footnote 2: The positive reasons by which I there proved the reference
to Satan, have not been invalidated by the objections of _Hofmann_ in
his _Schriftbeweis_ i. 379. He says: As an adjective formed in a manner
similar to קלקל (Num. xxi. 6) must have an intransitive signification,
it cannot mean "separated," but according to its derivation from עזל =
אזל, it means: "altogether gone away." But this argument has no force.
The real import of the form of the word is gradation, and frequent
repetition. Instances of a passive signification are given in _Ewald's
Lehrbuch der Hebr. Sprache_, § 157 c.: compare, _e.g._, Deut. xxxii. 5.
There is so much the stronger reason for adopting the passive
signification, that in Arabic also,--which alone can be consulted, as
the comparison with the Hebrew אזל has no sure foundation on which to
rest,--the root has the signification: _remotus, sepositus fuit_, and
the participle: _a ceteris se sejungens_. Compare _Egypt and the B.
M._, p. 169.

Footnote 3: He says,--This, therefore, is the sense of the passage:
"The human race, whom Satan had endeavoured to destroy, shall at length
be victorious. But, meanwhile, we must bear in mind the mode in which,
according to Scripture, that victory is to be achieved. According to
his own pleasure, Satan has, through all centuries, led captive the
sons of men, and even to this day he continues that sad victory. But,
since a stronger one has come down from heaven to subdue him, the whole
Church of God shall, under her Head, and like Him, be victorious."

Footnote 4: _Briefe das Studium der Theologie betr._ ii. S. 225 (Tüb.
1808): "The serpent had injured them; it had become to them a symbol of
evil, of seduction, and at the same time of God's curse, of contempt
and punishment. To men the encouraging prospect was held out, that
they, the seed of the woman, were stronger and nobler than the serpent,
and all evil. They should tread upon the head of the serpent, while the
latter should be able to avenge itself only by a slight wound in their
heel. In short, the good should gain the ascendancy over the evil. Such
was the prospect. How clear or how obscure it was to the first human
pair, it is not our present purpose to inquire. It is enough that the
noblest warrior against evil, the most valiant bruiser of the serpent's
head from among the descendants of Eve, was comprehended in this
prospect, and indeed pre-eminently referred to. Thus, then, only an
outline, as it were, was given to them in a figure, the import of which
only future times saw more clearly developed."

                           (Gen. ix. 18-27.)

Ver. 20. "_And Noah began and became an husbandman, and planted
vineyards._"--This does not imply that Noah was the first who began to
till the ground, and, more especially, to cultivate the vine; for Cain,
too, was a tiller of the ground, Gen. iv. 2. The sense rather is, that
Noah, after the flood, again took up this calling. Moreover, the remark
has not an independent import; it serves only to prepare the way for
the communication of the subsequent account of Noah's drunkenness. By
this remark, a defence of Noah on account of his drunkenness is
entirely cut off. Against such a defence _Luther_ expressed himself in
very strong terms: "They," says he, "who would defend the Patriarch in
this, wantonly reject the consolation which the Holy Ghost considered
to be necessary to the Church--the consolation, namely, that even the
greatest saints may, at times, stumble and fall."[1]

Ver. 21. "_And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was
uncovered within his tent._"

Ver. 22. "_And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his
father, and told his two brethren without._"--David is reproved in 2
Sam. xii. 14, for having given occasion to the enemies of God to
blaspheme. The same reproof might justly be administered to Noah also.
Ham rejoiced to find a nakedness in him whose reproving earnestness had
often been a burden to his sinful soul. _Luther_ remarks: "There is no
doubt [Pg 31] that he (Noah) must have done much which was offensive to
his proud, high-minded, and presumptuous son.... For this reason we
must not regard this deed of Ham as mere child's play, as an action
destitute of all significance; but as the result of the bitterest
hatred and resentment of Satan, by which he prepares and excites his
members against the true Church, and specially against those who are in
the ministry. Let them, therefore, give earnest heed as to whether,
either in their persons or in their offices, they give any occasion for
blasphemy. We have in this history an example of divine terrors and
judgment, that we may take warning from the danger of Ham, and not
venture to be rash in judging, though we should see that a secular or
ecclesiastical authority, or even our parents, do err and fall."

Ver. 23. "_And Shem and Japheth took the garment._"--_Luther_ says:
"Such an outward and lovely reverence they could not have shown to
their father, if they had not, inwardly and in their hearts, been
rightly disposed towards God, and had not considered their father as a
high priest and king set over them by divine appointment." The mode of
expression indicates that the real impulse proceeded from Shem, and
that, as a prefiguration of what was to take place, Japheth only showed
susceptibility for the good, and a willingness to join with him. It is
true that the singular ויקח is not, by itself, decisive. When the verb
precedes, it is not absolutely necessary that it should agree with the
_subject_ in gender and number; but the use of the singular is,
nevertheless, remarkable. If Shem and Japheth had been equally active,
the latter also would, at once, have been present to the mind of the
writer. Under these circumstances, there is the less reason for
supposing that the use of the singular can be merely accidental,
especially as the words, "and he told his _two brethren_ without,"
immediately precede. But all doubt is removed by a second allusion,
which goes hand in hand with the first, and which is contained in the
following verse.

Ver. 24. "_And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger
son had done unto him._"--That Ham was older than Japheth, appears
from the circumstance that the order in which the sons of Noah are
introduced is uniformly thus: Shem, Ham, Japheth; or, beginning, as
in chap. x., from the youngest, [Pg 32] Japheth, Ham, Shem,--where,
however, in ver. 21, the words added immediately after Shem--"the
elder brother of Japheth," expressly indicate that, for a certain
purpose, the writer has proceeded in order from the youngest to the
oldest. It is altogether in vain that some have attempted to prove
from chap. xi. 10 (according to which Shem was, two years after the
flood, only a hundred years old), compared with chap. v. 32 (according
to which Noah began to beget when he was five hundred years old), that
Shem was not the first-born. The words in chap. v. 32 are: "And Noah
was five hundred years old, and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth."
That the chronology can here be determined in a way which only
approximates to the truth, is implied, as a matter of course, in the
statement, that all the three sons were begotten when Noah was five
hundred years of age; nothing more is meant than that Noah begat them
after he had finished his fifth, or at the beginning of his sixth,
century. (Compare _Ranke's Untersuchungen_.) It is just an indefinite
statement of time which points forward to another genealogy, in which
the details will be given with greater precision. Ham everywhere stands
between the two; but that, nevertheless, he is, in this passage, called
the younger son, can be explained only on the ground that, in the case
before us, Shem and Ham are the two more especially noticed--Shem as
positively good, and Ham as positively evil, while Japheth only takes
part with Shem. We have thus laid an excellent foundation for the right
understanding of the subsequent prophetic utterance of Noah--for the
announcement, namely, of Japheth's dwelling in the tents of Shem.

Ver. 25. "_And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall
he be to his brethren._"--_Luther_ says: "Good old Noah, who is
regarded by his son as a foolish and stupid old man, deserving only of
mockery, appears here in truly prophetic majesty, and announces to his
sons a divine revelation of what shall come to pass in future days;
thus verifying what Paul says in 2 Cor. xii., that God's strength is
made perfect in weakness."

According to the opinion now current, Canaan is said to mean "lowland,"
and to be transferred from the land to the people, and from the people
to the pretended ancestor. But this opinion is shown to be untenable by
the considerations, that, according to historical tradition, Canaan
appears first as [Pg 33] the name of the ancestor;--that the verb כנע
is never used of natural lowness, but always of humiliation;--that in
our passage, where the name first occurs, it stands in connection with
servitude;--that the masculine form of the noun (on the adjective
termination _an_, compare _Ewald's Lehrb. d. Heb. Spr._ § 163, b.) is
not applicable to the country;--that the country Canaan is so far from
being a lowland, that it appears, everywhere in the Pentateuch, as a
land of hills (see Deut. xi. 2, iii. 25, where the land itself is even
called, "that goodly mountain");[2]--and, finally, that, from all
appearance, Canaan is primarily the name, not of the country, but of
the people--the former being called ארור כנען, the land of Canaan.
The real etymology of the name is almost expressly given in Judges iv.
23; ויכנע, "and God bowed down, or _humbled_, on that day Jabin the
king of _Canaan_." Compare also Deut. ix. 3, where, in reference to the
Canaanites, it is said, הוא יכניעם, "He will humble or subdue them;"
and Nehem. ix. 24: "Thou bowedest down before them the inhabitants of
the land--the Canaanites." Our passage also proceeds upon this
interpretation of the name. We are the rather induced to assume a
connection betwixt the name "Canaan," and the words, "a servant of
servants shall he be," as in the case of Japheth also there is
certainly an allusion to the signification of the name, and probably in
the case of Shem also. Perhaps even the name Ham, _i.e._, "the blackish
one," may be connected with the character which he here displays--a
suggestion which we do not here follow up. We refer, however, for an
analogy, to what has been remarked in our Commentary on the Psalms, in
the Introduction of Ps. vii.

Canaan means: "the submissive one." It is a name which the people
themselves, on whose monuments it appears, would never have
appropriated to themselves (just as in the case of the Egyptians also,
on which point _Gesenius_ in the _Thesaurus_, and my work _Egypt_,
etc., p. 210, may be compared), unless it had been proper to them from
their very origin. Ham gave this name to his son from the obedience
which he demanded, but [Pg 34] did not himself yield. The son was to be
the servant of the father (for the name suggests servile obedience),
who was as despotical to his inferiors as he was rebellious against his
superiors. When the father gave that name to his son, he thought only
of submissiveness to _his_ orders; but God, who, in His mysterious
providence, disposes of all these matters, had another submissiveness
in view.

But why is Canaan cursed and not Ham? For an answer to this question,
we are at liberty neither to fall back upon the sovereign decree of
God, as _Calvin_ does, nor to say with _Hofmann_: "Canaan is the
youngest son of Ham (Gen. x. 6); and because Ham, the youngest son of
Noah, had caused so much grief to the father, he, in return, is to
experience great grief from his youngest son." This latter view rests
upon false historical suppositions. We have already proved that Ham was
not the youngest son of Noah; and it by no means follows from Gen. x.
6, that Canaan was the youngest son of Ham. Canaan's name is mentioned
last among the sons of Ham, because the whole account of Ham's family
was to be combined with the detailed enumeration of Canaan's
descendants, who stood in so important a relation to Israel. The
boundary line as regards Shem is formed, quite naturally, by that
branch of Ham's family which stood in so important a relation to the
main branch of the family of Shem. But, as little reliance can be
placed upon the theological grounds of that conjecture; for the
question at issue is not the withdrawal of outward advantages. Canaan
is _cursed_, and it is just the sting of his servitude that it is the
consequence of the curse. It would indeed sadly affect the biblical
doctrine of recompense, if cursing and blessing were dependent upon
such external reasons as, in the case before us, upon the circumstance
that Canaan was so unfortunate as to be the youngest son.

The right answer to the question is without doubt this:--Ham is
punished in his son, just as he himself had sinned against his father.
He is punished in _this_ son, because he followed most decidedly the
example of his father's impiety and wickedness. To this view we are led
by the whole doctrine of Holy Scripture concerning the visitation of
the guilt of the fathers upon the children. (Compare the author's
"_Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch_," vol. ii. p.
373.) [Pg 35] To this view we are also led by the passage in Gen. xv.
16: "But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again, for the
iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." According to this passage,
the curse on Canaan can be realized upon him, only when his own
iniquity has been fully matured. This his iniquity is presupposed by
his curse. If he were to be punished on account of the guilt of the
father,--a guilt in which he had no share,--then indeed no delay would
have been necessary. To this view we are farther led by what is
reported in Genesis concerning the moral depravity of Sodom and
Gomorrah, which, in the development of the sinful germ inherent in the
race, had outrun all others, and were, therefore, before all others,
overtaken by punishment. (To this view we are further led by what is
reported in Genesis concerning the moral depravity of Sodom and
Gomorrah, which, in the development of the sinful germ inherent in the
race, had outrun all others, and were therefore, before all others,
overtaken by punishment) To this view we are led, _further_, by Lev.
xviii. and the parallel passages, where the Canaanites appear as a
nation of abominations which the land spues out; and, _finally_, by
what ancient heathen writers report regarding the deep corruption of
the Phœnicians and Carthaginians.

The remainder of Ham's posterity are passed over in silence; it is only
in the sequel that we expect information regarding them. But the
foreboding arises, that their deliverance will be more difficult of
accomplishment than that of Japheth, although the circumstance that
Canaan is singled out from among them affords us decided hope for the

But not even the exclusion of Ham is to be considered as an unavoidable
fate resting upon him. Heathenism alone knows such a curse. The
subjective conditions of the curse imply the possibility of becoming
free from it. To this, there is an express testimony in the
circumstance, that the promise to the Patriarchs is not limited. David
received the remnant of the Canaanitish Jebusites into the congregation
of the Lord. (Compare remarks on Zech. ix. 7.) And, in the Gospels, the
Canaanitish woman appears as a representative of her nation, and as a
proof the possibility, granted to them, of breaking through the fetters
of the curse. (Compare also the remarkable passage, Ezek. xvi. 46.)

[Pg 36]

"The curse is contrasted with the blessing pronounced on Shem and
Japheth, and the second member of ver. 25 is, in vers. 26, 27, used as
a repetition in reference to each of the two brethren, who were, in it,
viewed together."--(_Tuch._)

Ver. 26. "_And he said: Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem; and Canaan
shall be a servant to them._"--The Patriarch Noah,--a just man, and one
who walked before God (Gen. vi. 9),--a man raised on high, as David
says of himself in 2 Sam. xxiii. 1,--a man whose utterances are not
mere individual wishes, but, at the same time, prophecies,--sees such
rich blessings in store for his son, that, instead of announcing them
to him, he immediately breaks out into the praise of God, who is the
Author of them, and from whom the piety of Shem,[3] the foundation of
this salvation, was derived, just as Moses, in Deut. xxx. 20, instead
of blessing Gad, blesses him by whom Gad is enlarged. The manner in
which God is here spoken of indicates, _indirectly_, what that is in
which the blessing consists. _First_,--God is not called by the name
_Elohim_ (which is expressive of merely the most general outlines of
His nature), but by the name _Jehovah_, which has reference to His
manifested personality, to His revelations, and to His institutions for
salvation.[4] _Secondly_,--Jehovah is called the God of Shem,--the
first passage of Holy Scripture in which God is called the God of some
person. Both these circumstances indicate that God is to enter into an
altogether peculiar relation to the descendants of Shem; that He will
reveal Himself to them; establish His kingdom among them, and make them
partakers of both His earthly and His heavenly blessings. Thus _Luther_
says: "This is indeed perceptible and clear, that he thus binds closely
together God and his son Shem, and, as it were, commits the one to the
other. In this, he indeed indicates the mystery of which Paul treats in
Rom. xi. 11 sq., and Christ, in John iv. 22, that salvation cometh from
the Jews, but that, nevertheless, the heathen shall become partakers of
it. For [Pg 37] although Shem alone be the real root and trunk, yet
into this tree the Gentiles are, as a strange branch, graffed, and
enjoy the fatness and sap which are in the elect tree. This light Noah,
through the Holy Spirit, sees, and although he speaks dark words, he
yet prophesies very plainly, that the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ
shall be planted in the world, and shall grow up among the race of
Shem, and not among that of Japheth." As yet Shem and Japheth were on
an equal footing. In the preceding part of the narrative, nothing
had been communicated by which God had, in His relation to Shem,
given up His nature as Elohim, and had become his God. It is only
by anticipation, then, that God can, in His relation to Shem, be
designated as Jehovah, and as the God of Shem. The thought can, when
fully brought out, be this alone: "Blessed be God, who will, in future,
reveal Himself as Jehovah, and as the God of Shem."

If it be overlooked that, in this appellation of God, there is implied
the indirect designation of the blessings which are to be conferred on
Shem (just as in Gen. xxiv. 27 the words, "Blessed be Jehovah, the God
of my master Abraham," imply the thought: because He has manifested
Himself as Jehovah, and as the God of my master; which thought is then
further carried out in the subsequent words: "And who hath not left
destitute my master of His mercy and His truth;"--and just as it is
also in the utterance of Zacharias in Luke i. 68, where the words,
"Blessed be the Lord [κύριος], the God of Israel," imply the thought:
because He has manifested Himself as the Lord [in the New Testament,
κύριος is used where the Old has Jehovah], the God of Israel),--if this
be overlooked, we obtain only a weak and inadequate thought, very
unsuitable to the context, the purport of which evidently is to
celebrate Shem, and to mark him out as worthy of his name. So it is
according to _Hofmann_, who, in the words, "Blessed--Shem," finds only
an expression of gratitude for the gift of this good son, and who
limits the announcement of blessings to the single one--that Canaan
shall be Shem's servant. Against this feeble interpretation we must
adduce these considerations also: that nowhere does the gift of the
good son form, even indirectly, the subject in question;--that thus we
should lose the opposition of the curse and the blessing (which
requires that, under [Pg 38] the "Blessed be Jehovah," we should have
concealed the "Blessed be Shem"), just as we should, the contrast
between Jehovah here and Elohim in the following verse;--and, lastly,
that what, in the following verse, is said of Japheth's dwelling in the
tents of Shem, would thus be deprived of its necessary foundation.

It is said: "Canaan shall be a servant to _them_." The suffix ־־ָ־מוֹ,
which cannot be used for the singular, any more than can the suffix
־־ָ־ם, for which it is only the fuller poetical form (the instances of a
different use, adduced by _Ewald_, § 247, d., can easily be explained
in accordance with the rule), indicates that the announcement has no
reference to the personal relation of Shem and Ham, but that they come
into view solely as the heads of families.

Ver. 27. "_May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of
Shem; and Canaan shall be a servant to them._"--These words, in the
first instance, contain the blessing pronounced upon Japheth; but they
entitle us to infer from them, at the same time, a glorious blessing
destined for Shem, which is the source of blessing to Japheth also.
They thus complete the promise of the preceding verse, which directly
refers to Shem.

The first clause of this verse has received a great variety of
interpretations. The word יַפְתְּ, which refers to, and is explanatory of,
the name יֶפֶת (_i.e._ Japheth), is the future apoc. _Hiphil_ of פָּתָה. The
_Piel_ of this verb has in Hebrew commonly the signification: "to
persuade, or prevail upon any one to do anything." Hence many
interpreters translate with _Calvin_: "May God allure Japheth that he
may dwell in the tents of Shem." _Luther_ also, in his Commentary, thus
explains it: "God will kindly speak to Japheth;" while, in his
translation, he has: "May God enlarge Japheth."--But to this
interpretation it has been rightly objected, that the verb פתה is found
only in Piel, not in Hiphil, with the signification "to persuade;"
that, commonly, it signifies "to persuade" only in a bad sense; and
that, in this sense, it is never construed with ל, but always with the
accusative.--All interpreters now agree that (in conformity with the
LXX. [πλατύναι ὁ Θεὸς τῷ Ἰάφεθ], the _Vulgate_ [_dilatet Deus Japhet_],
and _Onkelos_) יַפְתְּ must be derived from פתה in its primary
signification, "to be wide, large," in which it is found in Prov. xx.
19 (where שפתיו [Pg 39] is accusative denoting the place), and which
signification is the common one in Aramaic. But they then again
disagree, inasmuch as some think of a local extension: God shall give
to Japheth a numerous posterity, which shall take possession of
extended territories; while others find here expressed the idea of
general prosperity: God shall prosper Japheth, shall bring him into a
free and unstraitened position.

Both of these views partake of alike mistake from regarding the words
_per se_, and as disconnected from the following announcement of
Japheth's dwelling in the tents of Shem. It must also be objected to
them, that in the case of Shem, only one feature of the blessing is
pointed out, viz., that God will be to him Jehovah, _his_ God; and so,
likewise, only one feature of the curse in the case of Ham. When those
words are isolated, separated from what follows, and understood of
extension, this difficulty arises, that Ham enjoys this extension in
common with Japheth, as is shown by a glance at Gen. x. If, on the
other hand, we understand them as expressive of prosperity (according
to _Hofmann_: "general prosperity in the affairs of outward life"),
this explanation is destitute of a sufficient foundation, and there is
nothing reported in the sequel regarding the fulfilment of such a
promise. To this we must further add, that the verb יפת is, on account
of its immediate nearness to the proper name, too little expressive,
and that, hence, we must expect to find its meaning more fully brought
out in what follows.

But if it be acknowledged that the extension appears here as a
blessing, in so far only as it leads to the dwelling in the tents of
Shem, mentioned in the subsequent clause of the verse, and that the
blessing can consist in nothing else, there is then no essential
difference betwixt the two interpretations. But we decide in favour of
the _latter_ view, because the corresponding verb הרחיב, "to make wide,
to enlarge," when construed with ל, is always used in the
signification: "to bring into a free, unstraitened, easy, happy
position." (See, _e.g._, Gen. xxvi. 22; Ps. iv. 2; Prov. xviii. 16; 2
Sam. xxii. 20.) Even when followed by an accusative, the verb is found
with this signification in Deut. xxxiii. 20: "Blessed be He that
enlargeth Gad." (In this passage, too, the word has been understood as
denoting extension; and Deut. xii. 20, xix. 8, have been appealed to in
support of the opinion; but this appeal is inadmissible, because [Pg
40] extension of the borders is the thing which is there spoken of. The
allusion to the signification of the name _Gad_ = good luck [Gen. xxx.
11: "And Leah said, For good luck;[5] and she called his name Gad"], is
favourable to our view, as well as the circumstance, that in this case
the subsequent words are only an expansion of the general thought, and
more closely determine the happiness. Jehovah, who enlarges Gad,
according to the words which follow, "He dwelleth like a lion, and
teareth the arm with the crown of the head," is contrasted with the
enemies who wish to drive him into a strait. If room be made for him,
he becomes happy, as it were, by enlargement.) To understand יַפְתְּ of
prosperity and happiness, is countenanced also by the consideration
that, in such circumstances, the name Japheth appears much more
appropriate in the mouth of Noah, by whom it was uttered at a time when
extension could be but little thought of, and that it corresponds much
better with the name Shem.

Elohim is to enlarge Japheth. Elohim here stands in strict contrast
with Jehovah, the God of Shem. It is only by dwelling in the tents of
Shem, that Japheth passes over into the territory of Jehovah,--up to
that time, he belongs to the territory of Elohim. But Elohim leads him
to Jehovah. It is a contrast in all respects similar to that which we
have in Gen. xiv., where, in verse 19, Melchizedek speaks of "the most
high God," whose priest he is, according to verse 20; while Abraham, on
the contrary, speaks, in verse 22, of "Jehovah the most high God."

There is a difference of opinion regarding the determination of the
subject in the second clause of the verse: "and he shall dwell in the
tents of Shem." According to a very ancient interpretation, Elohim is
to be supplied as such; from which the following sense would be
obtained: "God shall indeed enlarge and prosper Japheth, but He shall
dwell in the tents of Shem." [Pg 41] The inferior blessing of Japheth
would thus be contrasted with the superior one of Shem, among whose
posterity God should, by His gracious presence, glorify Himself,--first
in the tabernacle, then in the temple, and lastly, should, in the
highest sense, dwell by the incarnation of His Son. Thus _Onkelos_:
"God shall extend Japheth, and His Shechinah shall dwell in the tents
of Shem." The ancient book _Breshith Rabba_ remarks on this passage:
"The Shechinah dwells only in the tents of Shem." (See _Schöttgen_, _de
Messia_, p. 441.) _Theodoret_ also (Interrog. 58 in Genesin) advances
this explanation, and ably brings out this sense. It has of late been
again defended by _Hofmann_ and _Baumgarten_. But against this view
there are decisive arguments, which show that Japheth alone can be the
subject. To mention only a few:--It cannot be doubted that it is on
purpose that Noah, when speaking of Shem, has chosen the name Jehovah,
and that, as soon as he comes to Japheth, he makes use of the name
Elohim. We cannot, therefore, suppose that here, where, according to
this interpretation, he would just touch upon the essential point in
the peculiar relation of Jehovah to the descendants of Shem--the
Israelites, he should have made use of the general name of Elohim, as
in the case of Japheth. The subject--Jehovah--could not in this case
have been omitted before ישכן. _Further_,--By such an interpretation we
are involved in inextricable difficulties as regards the last clause of
the verse. The words, "And Canaan shall be a servant to them," can
neither be referred to Shem alone--for, in that case, they would be an
useless repetition, as in ver. 25 Canaan had been doomed to be a
servant to _his brethren_--nor can they be referred to Shem and Japheth
at the same time; the analogy of the למו in the preceding verse, where
the plural referred to the plurality represented by the one Shem,
forbids this. If, then, the last clause can refer to Japheth only, the
clause in which the dwelling in the tents of Shem is spoken of, must
likewise be referred to Japheth. To these arguments we may _further_
add, that there is something altogether strange in the expression: "God
shall dwell in the tents of Shem." There is, in Holy Scripture,
frequent mention of God's dwelling in His tabernacle, on His holy hill,
in Zion, in the midst of the children of Israel. Believers also are
said to dwell in the tabernacle or temple of God; but nowhere is [Pg
42] God spoken of as dwelling in the tents of Israel. _Further_,--If we
refer the second clause to Shem, the first, in its detached position,
would be too general, too indefinite, and too loose to admit of the
blessing of Japheth being concluded with it. We must not, moreover,
lose sight of the consideration, that when we refer the second clause
also to Japheth, there springs up a beautiful connection between the
relation of Shem and Japheth to each other in the present, and during
their future progress. As the reaction against the corruption of
Ham had originated with Shem, and Japheth had only joined him in it;
so in future also, the real home of piety and salvation will be with
Shem, to whom Japheth, in the felt need of salvation, shall come near.
_Finally_,--The analogy of the promise made to the Patriarch, according
to which all the nations of the earth shall be blessed by the seed of
Abraham, is in favour of our referring the second clause to Japheth.
And if the Lord, alluding to our passage, says, in Luke xvi. 9, "Make
to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye
fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations" (σκηνή = אהל),
He expresses the view which we are now defending. For, in that passage,
it is not God who receives, but man: they who, by their prayers, are
more advanced, come to the help of those who have made less progress;
those who have already attained to the enjoyment of salvation, make
them partakers who stand in need of salvation.

Of those who correctly consider Japheth to be the subject, several (_J.
D. Michaelis_, _Vater_, _Gesenius_, _Winer_, _Knobel_) give the
translation: "and he shall dwell in renowned habitations." But it is
quite evident that this sense is admissible only as a secondary one: as
such, we must indeed admit it in a context in which the appellative
signification of the proper names is never lost sight of. That שם is
here, however, primarily a proper name, is shown by the preceding

The translation, "Japheth shall dwell in the tents of Shem," is, then,
the correct one. But now the question is,--How are these words to be
understood? According to the views of many interpreters, it is
intimated by Japheth's dwelling in the tents of Shem, that the true
religion would be preserved among the posterity of Shem, and would pass
over from them to the descendants of Japheth, who should be received
into the community [Pg 43] of the worshippers of the true God. So
_Jonathan_ explained its meaning: "The Lord shall make glorious the end
of Japheth; his sons shall be proselytes, and shall dwell in the
schools of Shem." So also _Jerome_: "Since it is said, And he shall
dwell in the tents of _Shem_, this is a prophecy concerning us, who,
after the rejection of Israel, enjoy the instruction and knowledge of
the Scriptures." _Augustine_ also (_c. Faustum_ xii. 24) understands by
the tents of Shem, "the churches which the apostles, the sons of the
prophets, have built up."

But although this explanation be, in the main, correct, it cannot, per
se, satisfy us. It must be reconciled with that other explanation given
by _Bochart_ (_Phaleg._ iii. 1 c. 147 sqq.), _Calmet_, _Clericus_, and
others, according to which the passage is to be understood literally,
as foretelling that the posterity of Japheth should, at some future
time, gain possession of the country belonging to the descendants of
Shem, and should reduce them to subjection.

The phrase, "and they dwelt in their tents," is, in 1 Chron. v. 10,
used to express the relation of conquerors and conquered. There is no
parallel passage which could indubitably prove that "dwelling in the
tents of some one" could ever, by itself, denote spiritual communion
with him. If Shem had come to Japheth with the announcement of
salvation only, it is not likely that a dwelling of Japheth in the
tents of Shem would have been spoken of. Even the last clause of the
verse--"and Canaan shall be a servant to them"--when compared with the
preceding verse, according to which Canaan is, in the first place, to
be Shem's servant only, supposes that Japheth will step beyond his
borders, and will invade the territory naturally belonging to Shem. If
Japheth assume the dominion of Shem over Canaan, he must then dwell in
the tents of Shem in a sense different from the merely spiritual one.
_Finally_--Even in other passages of the Pentateuch, an invasion of
Shem's territory by Japheth is foretold. In Num. xxiv. 24, Balaam says:
"And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim and shall afflict
Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish." "We have
here (compare my monography on Balaam) the announcement of a future
conquest of the Asiatic kingdoms by nations from Europe, such as was
historically realized in the Asiatic dominion of the Greeks and

[Pg 44]

On the other hand, however, it must not by any means be supposed that
Noah should, in favour of Japheth, have weakened the power of the
brilliant promise given to Shem by the announcement of such a sad
event; for it is evidently his intention to exalt Shem above his
brethren, as highly as he had excelled them both in his piety towards
his father.

The difficulties which stand in the way of either explanation are
easily removed by the following consideration. The occupation of the
land of Shem by Japheth is the condition of Japheth's dwelling in the
tents of Shem. Why this dwelling is a blessing to Japheth--"God shall
enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell," etc.--appears from what precedes,
according to which, God reveals Himself to Shem as Jehovah, and becomes
_his_ God. To be received into the fellowship of Jehovah--to find Him
in the tents of Shem--constitutes the blessing promised to Japheth. But
if such be the case, there can be no more room for speaking of an
announcement of any event adverse to Shem. Underneath the adversity,
joy is hidden. It will here be fulfilled in its highest sense, that the
conquered give laws to the conquerors.

"And Canaan shall be a servant to them." The servitude of Canaan was
completed by Japheth, among whose sons (Gen. x. 2) Madai also appears;
so that even the Medo-Persian kingdom is one of Japheth's. Phœnicia was
completely overthrown by him. Haughty Tyrus fell to the ground. Zech.
ix. 3, 4, when announcing the Greek dominion (compare ver. 13), says:
"And Tyrus did build herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver like
dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold, the Lord will
cast her out, and He will smite her power in the sea, and she shall be
devoured with fire."

The objection raised by _Tuch_ and _Hofmann_, that the Greeks and
Romans made Shem also their servant, is, after what has been remarked,
destitute of all weight, inasmuch as the servitude then had reference
only to the lower territory. Shem and Judah were not injured in that
which, in ver. 26, had been pointed at as their chief and peculiar
good. On the contrary, it shone out, on that occasion, in its highest
glory. Canaan, however, lost that upon which he set the highest value.
In the case of Canaan, the servitude was the consequence of the curse;
but in the case of Shem, the outward servitude was a consequence of [Pg
45] the blessing, the most emphatic verification of the words: "Blessed
be Jehovah, the God of Shem."

It must indeed fill us with adoring wonder when we see how clearly and
distinctly the outlines of the world's history, as well as of the
history of Salvation, are here traced. "This," says _Calvin_, "is
indeed a support to our faith of no common strength, that the calling
of the Gentiles was not only predestined in God's eternal decree, but
also publicly proclaimed by the mouth of the Patriarch; so that we are
not required to believe that by a sudden and fortuitous event merely,
the inheritance of eternal life was proclaimed to all men in common."

It is not a matter of _chance_ that this prophecy was given immediately
after the deluge, which stands out as so great an event in the history
of the fallen human race,--the first event, indeed, subsequent to the
fall, with which the _Protevangelium_ was connected. A new period
begins with the calling of Abraham, and in it we obtain another
link in the chain of the prophecies,--a link which fits as exactly
into that which is now under consideration, as did this into the
_Protevangelium_. The import of this prophecy is: "The kingdom of God
shall be established in Shem, and Japheth shall be received into its
community."--The meaning of the prophecy which is now to engage our
attention is: "By the posterity of the Patriarchs all the nations of
the earth shall be blessed." The promise to the Patriarchs differs,
however, from the prophecy upon which we have just commented, not only
in the natural progress--that from among the descendants of Shem a
narrower circle is separated--but in this circumstance also, that in
the former the blessing is extended to all the nations of the earth,
while in the latter Ham is passed over in silence. This difference,
however, has its main foundation in the historical circumstances of the
latter prophecy; although, it is true, the complete silence which is
observed regarding him, calls forth apprehensions about his being less
susceptible of salvation, or, at least, of his not occupying any
prominent position in the development of the kingdom of God. Here,
where the object was to punish Ham for his wickedness, not the
prosperous, but the adverse events impending upon him in his posterity,
are brought prominently out; while, on the other hand, to Shem and
Japheth blessings alone are foretold.

Footnote 1: The object of this event, as pointed out by _Calvin_, viz.,
that God intended to give to all coming ages, in the person of Noah, a
warning and an exhortation to temperance, would likewise be frustrated
by this unwarrantable apology.

Footnote 2: The reverse is the case with reference to Aram, which is
essentially a lowland, while these critics would have us to believe
that it means "highland." (Compare _Baur_ on Amos, S. 229.)

Footnote 3: _Bochart_ remarks: "He cursed the guilty one in his own
person, because the source and nourishment of evil is in man himself.
But, rejoiced at Shem's piety, he rather blessed the Lord, because he
knew that God is the Author of everything which is good."

Footnote 4: With reference to the difference between these two names,
compare the disquisitions in the author's "_Genuineness of the Pent._,"
vol. i. p. 213 ff.

Footnote 5: Our English authorized version translates the first clause
of this verse thus: "And Leah said, A troop cometh,"--a rendering which
cannot be objected to on etymological grounds, and which receives some
support from Gen. xlix. 19. The ancient versions, however, are quite
unanimous in assigning to the גד in בגד the signification of "fortune,"
"good luck;" and render it either: "in or for good luck;" "luckily,"
"happily" (so the LXX. et Vulg.), or, following _Onkelos_ and the
Mazorets: "good luck has come."--(Tr.)

[Pg 46]

                     THE PROMISE TO THE PATRIARCHS.

A great epoch is, in Genesis, ushered in with the history of the time
of the Patriarchs. _Luther_ says: "This is the third period in which
Holy Scripture begins the history of the Church with a new family." In
a befitting manner, the representation is opened in Gen. xii. 1-3 by an
account of the first revelation of God, given to Abraham at Haran, in
which the way is opened up for all that follows, and in which the
dispensations of God are brought before us in a rapid survey. Abraham
is to forsake everything, and then God will give him everything.

Gen. xii. 1. "_And the Lord said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy
country, and from thy hone, and from thy father's house, into a land
that I will show thee._ Ver. 2. _And I will make of thee a great
nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt
be a blessing._ Ver. 3. _And I will bless them that bless thee, and him
who curseth thee I will curse: and in thee all the families of the
earth shall be blessed._"

"_Into a land that I will show thee._" From what follows, it appears
that, in the very same revelation, the country was afterwards _more
definitely_ pointed out; for Abraham, without having received any new
revelation, goes to Canaan, For the sake of brevity, the writer gives
the details only afterwards, when he has occasion to report how they
were carried out. The land which God will show to Abraham, stands
contrasted with that in which he is at home,--in which he and his whole
being had taken root. This contrast points out the greatness of the
sacrifice which God demands of Abraham. With a like intent we have the
accumulation of expressions--"out of thy land," etc.--corresponding to
a similar one when the command was given to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. xxii.
2), and forming the condition of the promise which follows. This
promise is intended to make the sacrifice a light thing to Abraham, by
pointing out what he is to receive if he give up everything which
stands in the way of his living to God. A similar call comes to all who
feel impelled to renounce the world in order to serve God. This call to
Abraham is peculiar only as to its form; as to its essence, it is ever
repeating itself. This will appear the more distinctly, when we inquire
into the true reason of the _outward_ separation here demanded of [Pg
47] Abraham. It can be Intended only as a means of the internal
separation. In the circle in which he lived, sin had already made a
mighty progress, as appears from Josh. xxiv. 2,--a passage which shows
us that idolatry had already made its way into the family of Abraham.
In order to withdraw him from the influences of this corruption,
Abraham is removed from the circle in which he had grown up, and in
which he had hitherto moved. That the special thing here demanded is
only the result of the general duty of renunciation and self-denial,
which is here, in Abraham, laid upon the whole Church, appears from the
circumstance, that the promise was renewed at a subsequent period,
when, with a willing heart, he had offered up his son Isaac as a
spiritual sacrifice to his God. The carnal, ungodly love to Isaac is
thus placed on a level with the attachment to the land, etc., which
came betwixt him and his God. The general idea, that self-renunciation
lies at the foundation, is brought out in Psalm xlv. 11.

The words, "_And thou shalt be a blessing_," imply more than the
words, "I will bless thee:" they are intentionally placed in the centre
of the whole promise. Abraham shall, as it were, be an embodied
blessing--himself blessed, and the cause of blessing to all those who
bless him--to all the generations of the earth who shall, at some
future period, enter into this loving and grateful relation to him. On
the ground of Abraham's self-denial, and unreserved surrender, blessing
is poured out _upon him_, blessing also _on his account_ and _through
him_. The blessing connected with him begins with himself, and extends
over all the families of the earth.

"_And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee I
will curse._ The blessing is based upon the turning to Him who has
appointed Abraham for a blessing, as we may learn from the example of
Melchizedek, Gen. xiv. 19. They who bless are themselves not far from
the kingdom of God; blessing, therefore, is the preparatory step
towards being blessed. (Compare Matt. x. 40-42.)

"_And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed._"
_Luther_ says: "Now there follows the right promise, which ought to be
written in golden letters, and proclaimed in all lands, and for which
we ought to praise and glorify."

The promise stands here in close connection with the Mosaic [Pg 48]
history of the creation. According to that, man, as such, bears upon
him the impress of the divine image. Gen. i. 26, and is the depository
of the divine breath. Gen. ii. 7. From such a beginning, we cannot
conceive of any limitation of salvation which is not, at the same time,
a means of its universal extension. It must therefore be in entire
accordance with the nature of the thing, that even here, where the
setting apart of a particular chosen race takes its rise, there should
be an intimation of its universally comprehensive object. There is, in
the circumstance of _families_ being spoken of, a distinct reference to
the history of creation; משפחה everywhere corresponds exactly with our
word "family." It is everywhere used only of the subdivisions in the
greater body of the nation or tribe. The expression, then, points to
the higher unity of the whole human race, as it has its foundation in
the fact that all partake in common of the divine image.

The announcement of the blessing in this passage leads us back to the
curse pronounced in consequence of sin, Gen. iii. 17: "Cursed is the
ground (_Adamah_) for thy sake." (Compare Gen. v. 29.) This curse is,
at some future time, to be abolished by Abraham. We can account for the
mention of the families of the "Adamah" only by supposing that a
reference to this passage was fully intended; for it was just the
"Adamah" (primarily, "land") which had there been designated as the
object of the curse.

In announcing that all the families shall be blessed in Abraham, the
writer refers also to the judgment described in Gen. xi., by which
the family of mankind,--which, according to the intention of God, ought
to have been united,--was dispersed and separated. When viewed in
this connection, we expect that the blessing will manifest itself
in the healing of the deep wound inflicted upon mankind, in the
re-establishment of the lost unity, and in the gathering again of the
scattered human race around Abraham as their centre.

Beyond this, no other disclosure about the nature of this salvation is
given. But that it consisted essentially in the union with God
accomplished through the medium of Abraham, and that everything else
could be viewed as emanating only from this source, was implied simply
in the circumstance, that all the blessing which Abraham enjoyed for
himself had its origin in [Pg 49] this, that he could call God _his
God_; just as, in Gen. ix., it had been declared as the blessing of
Shem, that Jehovah should be his God, and as the blessing of Japheth,
that he was called to become a partaker of this blessing. The blessings
which were either bestowed upon or promised to the Patriarchs and their
descendants, had for their object the advancement of knowledge and the
practice of true religion, and had been bestowed or promised only under
this condition (compare Gen. xvii. 1, xvii. 17-19, xxii. 16-18, xxvi.
5); they could not hence expect anything else than that their posterity
would, in so far, be the cause of the salvation of the heathen nations,
that the latter should, by means of the former, be made partakers of
the blessings of true religion.

With regard to the manner in which this blessing was to come to the
Gentiles, no intimation was given by the words themselves. The person
of the Redeemer is not yet brought before us in them; the indication of
that was reserved for a later stage in the progress of revelation.[1]

The last clause of ver. 3 cannot, by any means, take away from the
import of the preceding one; the announcement of the blessing which,
through Abraham, is to come upon all the families of the earth, does
not repeal the foregoing one, according to which all shall be cursed
who curse him. This view is confirmed by an allusion to this
announcement in Zech. xiv. 16-19, where the words, "the families of the
earth," must be regarded as a quotation. In ver. 16, the prophet says
that _all the Gentiles_ shall go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast
of Tabernacles; but then, in vers. 17-19, he intimates the punishment
of those who should refuse to go up. _Luther_ says: "If you wish to [Pg
50] comprehend in a few words the history of the Church from the time
of Abraham down to our days, then consider diligently these four
verses. For in them you will find the blessing; but you will see also,
that those who curse the Church are cursed, in turn, by God; so that
they must perish, while the eternal seed of the Church stands unmoved
and unshaken. For which reason, this text agrees with the first promise
given in Paradise, concerning the seed which is to bruise the serpent's
head. For the Church is not without enemies, but is assailed and
harassed so that she groans under it; but yet, by this seed, she is
invincible, and shall at length be victorious, and triumphant over all
her enemies, in eternity."

References to this fundamental prophecy are found in other parts of the
Old Testament, besides the passage just quoted from Zechariah. In the
28th verse of Ps. xxii., which was written by David, it is said: "All
the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all
the _families_ of the Gentiles shall worship before Thee." The
realization of the blessing announced in Genesis, to all the families
of the earth, appears in this psalm as being connected with the
wonderful deliverance of the just. Another reference is in Ps. lxxii.,
which was written by Solomon. In ver. 17 of this psalm it is said of
Solomon's great Antitype: "And they shall bless themselves in Him, all
nations shall bless Him." In these words the realization of the
Abrahamitic blessing is distinctly connected with the person of the

Among the New Testament references, the most remarkable is in John
viii. There, in ver. 53, the Jews say to Christ: "Art thou greater than
our father Abraham, which is dead? Whom makest thou thyself?" Jesus, in
ver. 56, answers: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he
saw it, and was glad," In ver. 57 the Jews reply: "Thou art not yet
fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" In ver. 58 Jesus thus
says to them: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I

Let us here, in the first place, consider only the declaration of
Jesus, that Abraham rejoiced to see His day, and was glad. It is
altogether out of the question to think of any such explanation of this
as the one given by _Lücke_, after the example of _Lampe_ namely: "that
Abraham, in the heavenly life, as a blessed [Pg 51] spirit with God,
saw the day of the Lord, and in heaven rejoiced in the fulfilment." For
it is the custom of Jesus to argue with the Jews from _Scripture_; and
He cannot, therefore, here be appealing to an assumed fact which could
not be proved from it. The answer of the Jews, in ver. 57, is likewise
opposed to such an explanation, inasmuch as it proceeds from a
supposition which Jesus had acknowledged to be true, namely, that the
question at issue was a meeting of Christ with Abraham not mentioned in
history; and in ver. 58 Christ sets aside their argument, "Thou art not
yet fifty years old." But _Lücke_ must himself bear testimony against
his own interpretation, inasmuch as, according to it, he is obliged to
speak of "the very foolish question of the adversaries."[2]

Jesus saw Abraham, and Abraham saw Jesus. Not the person, but the day
of Christ, was future to Abraham. And this can be explained only by
Jesus' being concealed behind Jehovah who appeared to him, and gave him
the promise, that in him and his seed all the nations of the earth
should be blessed. This blessing of all the families of the earth is
the day of Jehovah,--the day when He will be glorified on the earth.

The key to the right understanding of this is furnished by the doctrine
of the Angel of the Lord, which meets us as early as in Genesis. From
the passages in which, at the appearances and revelations of Jehovah,
the mediation of the Angel is expressly mentioned, we infer that it
(the mediation) took place even when Jehovah by Himself is spoken of;
and the more so, since, even in the former series of passages, the
simple name of Jehovah is commonly varied by that of the Angel of
Jehovah. The Evangelist John's whole doctrine of the _Logos_ points to
the personal identity of Jesus with the Angel of the Lord. Not less so
does the passage, John xii. 41; and there is unquestionably a purpose
which cannot be misunderstood in the fact, that, throughout the
discourses of Jesus, as reported by John, the declaration that God
_sent_ Him occurs with such frequency and regularity. But we can
scarcely conceive of any other purpose than that of marking out Jesus
as the Angel or Messenger of Jehovah spoken of in the writings of the
Old Testament. Compare, _e.g._, xii. 44, [Pg 52] 45: "Jesus cried and
said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that
_sent_ Me; and he that seeth Me, seeth Him that _sent_ Me." So also iv.
34, v. 23, 24, 30, 37, vi. 38-40, vii. 16, 28, 33, viii. 16, 18, 26,
29, ix. 4, xii. 49, xiii. 20, xiv. 24, xv. 21, xvi. 5.

Let us now, in addition, turn to the words, "Abraham rejoiced to see
(literally, that he might see) My day." It cannot be liable to any
doubt, that these words express the heartfelt, joyful desire of Abraham
to see that day, and that _Bengel_ correctly explains it by the words:
_gestivit cum desiderio_. It is true, ἀγαλλιάομαι signifies, by itself,
only "to rejoice;" but it has added to it the idea of joyful desire by
its being connected with ἵνα. The words now under consideration are
expressive of Abraham's joy and longing in the spirit for the
manifestation of the day of Jehovah and of Christ, while those in the
last clause of the verse express the gratification of this longing,
which was produced by his receiving the promise that all the families
of the earth should be blessed.

The ardent desire of Abraham to see the day of Christ implies that he
already _knew_ Christ, which can be the case only on the supposition of
Christ's concealment in Jehovah. This longing desire is not expressly
mentioned in Genesis, but it is most intimately connected with all
living faith, and must necessarily precede such divine communications.
The seed of the divine promises is everywhere sown only in a well
prepared soil. That the promise in 2 Sam. vii. was to David, in like
manner, a gratification of his anxious desire--an answer to prayer--we
are not, it is true, expressly told in the historical record; and yet,
that it was so, is evident from the words of Ps. xxi. 3: "Thou hast
given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of
his lips." There is here, then, express mention made of that which is a
matter of course, and which forms the necessary condition of that which
was reported in Genesis.

We are furnished by the Book of Genesis itself with the right
explanation of what is meant by the day of Christ, about which
interpreters have so frequently erred. It is not the time of His first
appearing, but, in accordance with the New Testament mode of expression
(_e.g._, Phil. i. 10), the time of His glorification. The day of Christ
is the time when the promise, "In thee shall all the families of the
earth be blessed," shall be fulfilled.

[Pg 53]

Peter quotes this promise in Acts iii. 25, 26. Among the
families of the earth he enumerates, first and chiefly, the people of
the Old Testament dispensation; and he does so with perfect propriety,
since there is no warrant whatever for limiting it to the Gentiles.

Paul probably refers to this promise when, in Rom. iv. 13, he speaks of
a promise given to Abraham and his seed that he should be the heir of
the world. A blessing imparted to the whole world is a spiritual
victory obtained over the world. The world is, in a spiritual sense,
conquered by Abraham and his seed. Express references are found in Gal.
iii. 8, 14, 16.

The same promise is repeated to Abraham in Gen. xviii. 18. Instead of
the משפחות האדמה (the families of the earth), the גויי הארץ (the
nations of the earth) are there mentioned; the family-connection is
lost sight of, and the comprehensiveness only--the catholic character
of the blessing--is prominently brought out. This promise is a third
time repeated to Abraham in chap. xxii. 18, on a very appropriate
occasion, even that on which, by his endurance of the greatest trial,
and by his willingness to sacrifice to God even what was dearest to
him, he had proved himself a worthy heir of it. It is certainly not a
matter of mere accident that this promise is just three times given to
Abraham. There is in this a correspondence with the three individuals
to whom the same promise is addressed. Abraham, however, as the first
of them, and as the father of the faithful, could not be put on the
same footing with the others. Instead of "in thee," or "by thee" (בך),
we read in xxii. 18, "in" or "by thy seed" (בזרעך). The same promise is
confirmed to Isaac in chap. xxvi. 14, and it is transferred to Jacob in
chap. xxviii. 14. But while, in the first and second passages, it is
said, "by thee," and in the third and fourth, "by thy seed," we read,
in the passage last mentioned, "by thee and thy seed." This evidently
shows that, in those passages where we find "by thee" standing alone,
we are not at liberty to explain it as meaning simply: "by thy seed."
It is not only the seed of Abraham, but Abraham himself also, who is to
be the medium of blessing to the nations, as the foundation-stone of
the large building of the Church of God, as the father of our Lord
Jesus Christ according to the flesh, and as the father of all

There is a deep reason for the fact that, wherever the posterity [Pg
54] of the Patriarchs are spoken of as the instruments of blessing, the
singular is always used. This circumstance is pointed out by Paul in
Gal. iii. 16. The Apostle does not in the least think of maintaining
that, by זרע "seed," only a single individual could be signified. Such
an opinion, no one who understood Hebrew could for a moment entertain;
and Rom. iv. 13 shows that Paul was indeed very far from doing so. The
further development of the promise (which took place within the limits
of Genesis itself, in chap. xlix. 10), as well as its fulfilment (it
is, indeed, with reference to the promise now under consideration that
the lineal descent of Christ from Abraham is established at the
commencement of Matthew's Gospel), showed that the real cause of the
salvation bestowed upon the Gentiles was not the seed of Abraham as a
whole, but one from among them, or rather He, in whom this whole
posterity was comprehended and concentrated. Now, all to which Paul
intends to draw our attention is the fact, that the Lord, who, when He
gave the promise, had already in view its fulfilment which He had
Himself to accomplish, did not unintentionally choose an expression
which, besides the comprehensive meaning which would most naturally
suggest itself to the Patriarchs, admitted also of the more restricted
one which was confirmed by the fulfilment. In the _Protevangelium_, and
in the promise of the Prophet in Deut. xviii., we have a case quite
analogous to this; and in 2 Sam. vii. there is likewise a case which
is, to a certain extent, parallel.

In two passages out of the five--in chap. xxii. 18 and xxvi. 4--the
Hithpael of the verb ברך instead of the Niphal is found. We meet with
it also again in the derived passage in Ps. lxxii. 17, where it is said
of the great King to come, "And they shall bless themselves in Him, all
nations shall bless Him." In xxii. 18 and xxvi. 4, we shall be allowed
to translate only thus: "They shall bless themselves in thy seed." For
the Hithpael of ברך always signifies "to bless oneself;" and the person
from whom the blessing is derived (Isa. lxv. 16; Jer. iv. 2), or whose
blessing is desired, is connected with it by means of the preposition
ב. (Compare Gen. xlviii. 20: "In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God
make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh.") From the nature of the case, it
is evident that only the latter can be meant here. This is shown also
by the derived passage [Pg 55] in Ps. lxxii. 17, where the words, "they
shall bless themselves in Him," are explained by the subsequent
expression, "they shall bless Him."

But it is certainly not accidental that the Hithpael is on both sides
inclosed by the Niphal, and that the latter stands not only twice at
the beginning, but also at the end. Hence we are not at liberty to
force upon the Hithpael the signification of the Niphal; but the
passages in which the Hithpael occurs must be supplemented from the
real fundamental passages. "To bless oneself _in_" is the preparatory
step to being "blessed _by_." The acknowledgment of the blessing calls
forth the wish to be a partaker of it. (Compare Isa. xlv. 14, where, in
consequence of the rich blessings poured out upon Israel, the nations
make the request to be received among them.) Oftentimes in the Psalms
utterance is given to the expectation that, through the blessing
resting on the people of God, the Gentiles will be allowed to seek
communion in it. (See my Commentary on Ps. vol. iii. p. lxxvii.) But
especially in Ps. lxxii. does it clearly appear how "blessing oneself
in" is connected with "being blessed by." The very same people who
bless themselves in the glorious King to come, hasten to Him to partake
in the fulness of the blessings which He dispenses. He has dominion
from sea to sea; they that dwell in the wilderness bow before Him; all
kings worship Him; all nations serve Him.

Several commentators (_Clericus_, _Gesenius_, _de Wette_, _Maurer_,
_Knobel_, and, in substance, _Hofmann_ also) attempt to explain the
fundamental passage by the derived ones, and force upon Niphal the
signification of Hithpael; so that the sense would be only that a great
and, as it were, proverbial happiness and prosperity belonged to
Abraham: "Holding up this name as a pattern, most of the eastern
nations will comprehend all blessings in these or similar words: 'God
bless thee as He blessed Abraham.'" But this explanation is, according
to the _usus loquendi_, incorrect, inasmuch as the Niphal is used only
in the signification "to be blessed," and never means "to bless
oneself," or "to have or find one's blessing in something." To a
difference in the significations of the Niphal and the Hithpael, we are
led also by the circumstance that the Hithpael is connected only with
the seed--"they shall bless themselves in thy seed,"--and the Niphal
only with the person of the Patriarch: [Pg 56] "they shall be blessed
in thee," and "in thee and thy seed." The Patriarchs themselves are the
source of blessing, but, if these nations _blessed themselves_, they
wish for themselves the blessing of their descendants exhibited before
their eyes. The reference in Zech. xiv. 17, 18 to the promise made to
the Patriarchs presupposes the Messianic character, and the passive
signification of נברכו. In like manner, all the quotations of it in the
New Testament rest on the passive signification. It is from this view
of it that the Lord says that Abraham saw His day; that, in Rom. iv.
13, Paul finds, in this promise, the prophecy of His conquering the
world; and that, in Gal. iii. 14, he speaks of the blessing of Abraham
upon the Gentiles through Christ Jesus. Gal. iii. 8 and Acts iii. 25
render נברכו by ἐνευλογηθήσονται. The explanation, "they shall wish
prosperity or happiness to each other," is destructive of the
gradation, so evident in the fundamental passage,--blessing _for_, _on
account of_, and _by_ Abraham; it cannot account for the constant,
solemn repetition of this proclamation which everywhere appears as the
_acme_ of the promises given to the Patriarch; it destroys the
correspondence existing between this blessing upon all the families of
the earth, and the curse which, after the fall, was inflicted upon the
earth; it does away with the contrast, so clearly marked, between the
union of the families of the earth effected by the blessing, and their
dispersion, narrated in chap. xi.; it demolishes the connection
existing between the prophecy of Japheth's dwelling in the tents of
Shem (ix. 27), on the one hand, and the Ruler proceeding from Judah, to
whom shall be the obedience of the nations (xlix. 10), on the other;
and it severs all the necessary connecting links which unite these
prophecies with one another.

Another attempt to deprive this promise of its Messianic
character--that, namely, made by _Bertholdt_ (_de ortu theol. Vet.
Hebr._ p. 102) and others, who would have us to understand, by the
families and nations of the earth, the Canaanitish nations--does not
require any minute examination, as the weakness of these productions of
rationalistic tendency are so glaringly manifest.

Footnote 1: _Herder_ says, in his _Briefe das Studium der Theol._ betr.
ii. S. 278: "If, in Abraham's descendants, all the nations of the earth
were to be blessed, Abraham might and should have conceived of this
blessing in all its generality, so that everything whereby his nation
deserved well of the nations of the earth, was implied in it. If, then,
Christ also belongs to the number of those noble individuals who
deserved so well, the blessing refers to Him, not _indirectly_, but
_directly_; and if Christ be the chief of all this number, it then most
directly, and in preference to all others, refers to Him;--although, in
this germ, Abraham did not distinctly perceive His person, did not, nor
could, except by special revelation, in this bud, so plainly discover
the full growth of His merits."

Footnote 2: Even in this he was preceded by _Lampe_, who remarks:
"Christ had spoken of seeing the day; the Jews speak about seeing the
person. He had spoken of Abraham's seeing; they speak of Christ's

[Pg 57]

                           (Gen. xlix. 8-10.)

Ver. 8. "_Judah, thou, thy brethren shall praise thee; thy hand shall
be on the neck of thine enemies; before thee shall bow down the sons of
thy father._ Ver. 9. _A lion's whelp is Judah; from the prey, my
son, thou goest up; he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as a
full-grown lion, who shall rouse him up?_ Ver. 10. _The sceptre shall
not depart from Judah, nor lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh
come, and unto Him the people shall adhere._"

Thus does dying Jacob, in announcing "what shall befall his sons in the
end of the days" (ver. 1), speak to Judah, after having dismissed
those of his sons to whom, in the name of the Lord, he must tell hard
things--things which did not, however, exclude them from the salvation
common to all of them (ver. 28), although their shadow made the light
of Judah shine so much the more brightly.[1]

In ver. 8 everything depends upon a right determination of the meaning
of the name Judah. Being formed from the Future in Hophal, it
signifies: "He (viz., God) shall be praised." This explanation rests
upon Gen. xxix. 35, where Leah, after the birth of Judah, says, "Now
will I praise the Lord;" and then follow the words: "therefore she
called his name Judah." It rests likewise on the common use of the verb
ידה, the Hiphil of which is, according to _Maurer_, almost constantly
used of "praising God," and is, as it were, set apart and sanctified
for that purpose. After having enumerated a multitude of passages,
_Gesenius_ says, in his _Thesaurus_: "In all these passages it refers
[Pg 58] to the praise of God, and it is only rarely (Gen. xlix. 8
compared with Job xl. 14) that it refers to the praise of men." Even
these few exceptions are such only in appearance. In Job xl. 14, he
whom God will praise is not an ordinary man, but a _god-man_. By the
subsequent words in Gen. xlix. 8, "Before thee shall bow down,"
something divine is ascribed to Judah; we need not therefore be
astonished that, by the word יודוך, he is raised above the merely human
standing. They only who do not know the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
have any reason to explain away, by a forced exposition, the slight
allusion to a superhuman dignity of the tribe of Judah. The greater
number of expositors, referring to the subsequent words, "thy brethren
shall praise thee," explain the name by the expression, "blessed one."
But, even though we should retain the sure explanation which has been
given above, the idea now mentioned falls very naturally in with it. He
who, in the fullest sense, is a "God's-praise" (_Gottlob_), whose very
existence becomes the cause of exclaiming, δόξα τῷ Θεῷ, praise be to
God, will assuredly receive praise from the brethren.--"Judah thou"
stands (according to Gen. xxvii. 36; Matt. xvi. 18) either for, "Thou
art Judah," _i.e._, thou art rightly called so, or, according to Gen.
xxiv. 60, for, "Thou Judah," _i.e._, I have something particular to
tell thee (compare the emphatic "I" in Gen. xxiv. 27).--On the
expression, "Thine hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies," _i.e._,
thou shalt put to flight all thine enemies, and press them hard while
they are fleeing, compare Exod. xxiii. 27, "I will make all thine
enemies (turn their) backs unto thee," and Ps. xviii. 41, where David
says, in the name of his family, in which Judah centred, as did Israel
in Judah, "Thou hast given me mine enemies (to be) a back." If,
however, we inquire how this prophecy was fulfilled, we must not
overlook the circumstance that the subjects of it are sinful men, and
that, for this reason, God could never give up the right of visiting
their iniquity,--a right which has its foundation in His very nature.
Three sentences of condemnation precede the blessing upon Judah, and
this indicates that Judah too will be weighed in the balance of
justice. "The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power,"
which, in ver. 3, were taken from Reuben, are here adjudged to Judah.
The circumstance of his being the first-born could not protect the
former against the loss of his privileges; [Pg 59] and just as little
will the divine election deliver Judah from a visitation for his sins,
although, by that election, the total loss of his privileges is
rendered impossible. These two ordinations--the election and the
visitation of sin in the elect--stand by the side of each other; and
the latter could not be stayed, even at the time when Judah had reached
its height in the Lion from out of his tribe; for although the Shepherd
was blameless, yet the flock was not so. The ordination of election is,
however, far from being thereby darkened; it only shines by a brighter
light. Often painful indeed were the defeats which Judah had to
sustain; often enough--as during the centuries which elapsed between
the destruction of David's kingdom and the coming of Christ--was the
promise, "Thy hand shall be in the necks of thine enemies," reversed.
But when we behold Judah ever and anon returning and rising to the
dignity here bestowed upon him,--when the advance then always keeps
equal pace with the preceding depths of humiliation (we need think only
of David's time, and compare it with the period of the Judges),--then
indeed it appears all the more clearly, that the hand of God is ever
active in bringing this promise to a sure and firm fulfilment. In the
history of the world there is only one power--that of Judah--in which,
notwithstanding all defeats, the promise, "Thy hand shall be in the
necks of thine enemies," is ever, after all, fulfilled anew; only one
power, the victorious energy of which may indeed be overcome by sleep,
but never by death; only one power which can speak as does David in the
name of his family in Ps. xviii. 38-40: "I pursue mine enemies and
overtake them, I do not return till they are consumed; I crush them,
and they cannot rise: they fall under my feet. And Thou girdest me
with strength for the war, Thou bowest down those that rise against
me."--Luther remarks on this passage: "These promises must be
understood in spirit and faith. This may be seen from the history of
David, where it often appears as if God had altogether forgotten him,
and what He had promised to him. After he had already been elected, he
was, for ten years, not able to obtain a fixed place, or residence in
the whole kingdom; and when at last he took hold of the reins of
government, he fell into great, grievous, heinous sin, and was sore
vexed when he had to bear the punishment of it. Therefore these two
things--promise and [Pg 60] faith--must always be combined; and it is
necessary that a man who has a divine promise know well the art which
Paul teaches in Rom. iv. 18, to believe in hope even against hope.--The
kingdom of Israel, too, was assailed by so great weakness, and pressed
down by so many burdens, that it appeared as if every moment it would
fall; and this was especially the case when sin, and punishment in
consequence of sin, broke in upon them, as, for instance, after David's
adultery with Bathsheba, and oftentimes besides. Yet, even in all such
temptations, it always remains, on account of the promise."--It must be
carefully observed that the words, "Thy hand shall be in the neck of
thine enemies," are placed between, "Thy brethren shall praise thee,"
and "Before thee shall bow down the sons of thy father," and that,
immediately after this, Judah's victorious power against the enemies of
God's people is again pointed out. This teaches us that the exalted
position which Judah, when compared with his brethren, occupies, rests
mainly on this:--that he is their fore-champion in the warfare against
the world, and that God has endowed him with conquering power against
the enemies of His kingdom. The history of David is best calculated to
show and convince us, how closely these two things are connected with
each other. That he was called to verify the truth of the promise given
to Judah, "Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies," was first
seen in his victory over Goliath the Philistine, fore-champion of the
world's power. After David's word had been fulfilled, "The Lord who
delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the
bear. He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine," and the
Philistines had fled, seeing that their champion was dead (1 Sam. xvii.
37-51), then also were fulfilled the other words: "Thy brethren shall
praise thee, the sons of thy father shall bow before thee." "And it
came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter
of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel,
singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and
with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as
they played, and said, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his
ten thousands."--And in Sam. xviii. 16, it is said: "But all Israel
and Judah _loved_ David, _because_ he went out and came in before
them;"--and in 2 Sam. v. 2, when the ten tribes acknowledged [Pg 61]
David as their king, they said: "Also in time past, when Saul was king
over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel." David
would never have succeeded in overcoming the jealousy and envy of the
other tribes, unless the promise, "Thy hand shall be in the neck of
thine enemies," had been fulfilled in him.--_Before Judah shall how
down the sons of his father._ I have already remarked, in my commentary
on Rev. xix. 10, that there is very little ground for the common
distinction between religious and civil προσκύνησις (bowing down,
worship). The true distinction is between that προσκύνησις which is
given to God, either directly or indirectly, in those who bear His
image, in the representatives of His gifts and offices,--and that
προσκύνησις which is exacted apart from, and against God. "The God of
Scripture demands to be honoured in those who bear His image, who hold
His offices,--in father and mother and old men (Lev. xix. 32), in
princes (Exod. xxii. 28), in the office of the judge (Deut. i. 17;
Exod. xxi. 6, xxii. 7, 8). It is wicked to refuse this honour, and its
natural expression in the bowing of the body, under the pretext, that
it is due to _God_ alone. It is to be refused only where there is some
danger that, thereby, any independent honour would be ascribed to the
mere vessel of the divine glory." In what the προσκύνησις consists,
which Judah is to receive from his brethren, we see distinctly from
Isa. xlv. 14, where the heathen, at the time of the salvation, fall
down before Israel: "Thus saith the Lord, The labour of Egypt and
merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come
over unto thee, and be thine: they shall go behind thee; in chains they
shall walk; _and they shall fall down before thee, and they shall make
supplication unto thee_ (saying). _Only in thee is God, and there is no
God else._" The ground of Judah's adoration on the part of his brethren
is this:--that God's glory is visibly upon him, that by glorious deeds
and victories the seal is impressed upon him: "with us is God"
(_Immanuel_). And this found its most glorious fulfilment in the Lion
of the tribe of Judah, in Christ, of whom it is said in Phil. ii. 9-11:
"Wherefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is
above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of
all those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth; and
that every tongue should [Pg 62] confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." That, in its final accomplishment,
this prophecy referred to Christ, was known to Jacob as certainly as he
makes Judah centre in the Shiloh. This Solomon also knew, when, in Ps.
lxxii. 11 (compare Ps. xlv. 12), he ascribes to his great Antitype what
is here ascribed to Judah: "All kings shall worship Him, and all
nations shall serve Him." The consequence of the worship "by kings and
nations" is the worshipping "by the sons of the father." Jacob thus
transfers to Judah that which Isaac had promised to _him_: "People
shall serve thee, and nations shall worship thee: be lord over thy
brethren, and thy mother's sons shall worship before thee:" Gen. xxvii.

In ver. 9 Judah is first designated a young lion,--a name which is
intended to indicate, that the victorious power ascribed to Judah
exists, as yet, only in the _germ_. It required that centuries should
pass away before he grew up to be a lion, a full-grown lion. By the
long period which thus intervened between the promise and its
fulfilment, the divine election is the more strikingly manifested.
(Several interpreters have been of opinion that there is no difference
between the young lion, the lion, and the full-grown lion. But it is
shown by Ezek. xix. 3--"And she brought up one of her גורים, and it
became a כפיר, and it learnt to tear prey,"--that גור אריה is a young
lion not yet able to catch prey.[2]) In the words, "From the prey, my
son, thou art gone up," the _prey_ is the _terminus a quo_: for עלה
with מן is always used of the place from which it is gone up (see Josh.
iv. 17, x. 9; Song of Sol. iv. 2): the _terminus ad quem_ is the usual
abode, as is shown by what follows. The residence of the conqueror and
ruler is conceived of as being _elevated_. Joseph, according to Gen.
xlvi. 31, goes up to Pharaoh, and in ver. 29 of the same chapter he
goes up to meet his father. The expression "to go up" is commonly used
of those who come from [Pg 63] other countries to Canaan. But the
"going up" in the passage under review implies also the "going down"
into the lower regions to seek for prey, just as in Ps. lxviii. 19,
where it is said of the Lord, after He had fought for His people, and
had been victorious, "Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led
captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the
rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." "_To
dwell_" means there, that, after having accomplished all this, thou
mayest dwell gloriously, and be inaccessible to the vengeance of the
conquered, in thy usual place of abode. The sense is the same in the
passage before us. Luther is therefore wrong in explaining it thus:
"Thou hast risen high, my son, by great victories,"--as are others also
who translate it, "From the prey thou growest up." Such a view of this
clause would, moreover, break up the connection, and all that follows
would appear without preparation.[3]

The words, "He stoopeth down, he croucheth as a lion, and as a
full-grown lion; who shall rouse him up?" contain a transition and
allusion to what we are subsequently told concerning Shiloh. Even here
we are presented with a picture of peace,--a peace, however, which is
not to the prejudice of victorious power, as in the case of Issachar
(vers. 14, 15), but which, on the contrary, preserves it undiminished.
If the promise, "From the prey, my son, thou art gone up," found its
first glorious, although only preliminary, fulfilment in the reign of
David (compare the enumeration of his victories in 2 Sam. viii.), the
words, "He stoopeth down, he coucheth," etc., are the most appropriate
inscription for the portal of Solomon's reign. But, in Christ, the
pre-eminence in the reign both of war and peace is united.--That לביא
is not "the lioness," but only the poetical designation of the lion,
appears from just the very passage which is so commonly adduced in
support of the former signification, viz., Job iv. 11; for the sons of
the lion spoken of in that passage are the sons of the wicked (compare
Job xxvii. 14).

A parallel to the words in ver. 10, "The sceptre shall not depart from
Judah," is formed by the departing of the sceptre from Egypt, in Zech.
x. 11: "And the pride of Assyria shall [Pg 64] be brought down, and the
sceptre of Egypt shall depart away." All dominion of the world over the
people of God is only temporary; and so also, the dominion of the
people of God over the world, as it centres in Judah, can sustain only
a temporary _interruption_: its departure is everywhere in appearance
only; and when it departs, it is only that it may return with enhanced
weight.--The _sceptre_ is the emblem of dominion. The words, "A sceptre
rises out of Israel" (Num. xxiv. 17), are explained in chap. xxiv. 19
by the words, "_Dominion_ shall come out of Jacob." The question as to
the subjects of this dominion must be determined from the preceding
words; for there shall not depart from Judah what Judah, according to
these words, possesses. Hence they are (1) the brethren of Judah, and
(2) the enemies of Israel. The latter can the less properly be
excluded, because of these alone the whole of the preceding verse
treated. In the words of Balaam, in Num. xxiv. 17 (which refer to the
passage under consideration), "There cometh a star out of Jacob, and a
sceptre riseth out of Israel, and smiteth the territories of Moab, and
destroyeth all the sons of the tumult," there is viewed, in the
sceptre, only the victorious and destructive power which he shall
display in his relation to the _world_; but the subjects of dominion
are, in that passage, according to ver. 19, the heathens also. The
sceptre is pre-eminently an ensign of kings. Hence, to the sceptre and
star out of Israel (Num. xxiv. 17) corresponds, in ver. 7, his _king_:
"And his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be
exalted,"--_i.e._, not merely a single royal person, but the
Israelitish kingdom. But we can here the less legitimately separate
sceptre and kingdom from each other, because, even in the earlier
promises made to the Patriarch, there is the prophecy of the rising of
a kingdom among their descendants,--of a kingdom, too, that shall
extend beyond the boundary of that posterity itself. (Compare Gen.
xvii. 6, "Kings shall come out of thee;" ver. 16, "And she shall become
nations. Icings of nations shall be of her." See also Gen. xxxv. 11.)
In vol. ii. of the _Dissertations on the Genuineness of the
Pentateuch_, p. 166 f., we detailed the natural foundations which there
existed for foreseeing the establishment of a kingdom in Israel. It is
evident that the promise which was formally given to the whole
posterity of the Patriarchs, is here appropriated specially to Judah,
who, for [Pg 65] the benefit of the whole people, is to have the
sceptre.[4] From what has been remarked, it appears that the fulfilment
of this prophecy began first with David; up to that time Judah had been
only "a lion's whelp." "In the person of Saul," as Calvin remarks,
"there was an abortive effort; but there came out at length in David,
under the authority and legitimate arrangement of God, the sovereignty
of Judah, according to the prophecy of Jacob." It also appears, from
what has been observed, that _Reinke_, S. 45 of his Monography, _Die
Weissagung Jacobs über Schilo_, Münster 1849 (a work written with great
diligence), is mistaken in determining the sense to be,[5] that Judah
as a tribe would not perish, and his superiority not cease, until out
of him Shiloh, etc.; and that he is wrong, too, in maintaining, S. 133,
that the continuance of the royal dignity, and the superiority over all
the tribes until the time of Christ, were not required by these words.
From the remarks which we have made, even more than that is
required,--the _continuance_, namely, _of Judah's dominion over the
Gentiles_; for otherwise it would be necessary to make a violent
separation of these words from the preceding ones. That which has given
rise to such interpretations and assertions, viz., the apparent
difficulty encountered in pointing out the fulfilment,[6] is by no
means removed by such an explanation. For, if we look to the surface
only, what had been left of the superiority of the tribe of Judah, at
the time when Christ appeared? But if we look deeper, we shall find no
reason for such feeble interpretations. The fulness of strength which,
notwithstanding the deepest humiliation, still dwelt in the sceptre of
Judah at the time when Christ appeared, is made manifest by the
very appearance of Christ--the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Although
faint-heartedness, perceiving only what is immediately before the eyes,
might have said, "The sceptre has departed from [Pg 66] Judah," to
every one who was not blinded it must have been evident, at the very
moment when Christ appeared, that the sceptre had not departed from
Judah. We must not allow ourselves to be perplexed by any events and
arguments adduced to prove that the sceptre _has departed_ from Judah;
for the very same events and arguments would militate against the
eternal dominion of his house which had been promised to David, and
would therefore make us doubtful of that also. All these events and
arguments lose their significancy, when we remark, that this departing
is only an _apparent_, not a _definitive_ one;--that God never, by His
promises, binds the hands of His punitive justice;--that His election
goes always hand-in-hand with the visitation of the sins of the
elected; but that, in the end, the election will stand in all its
validity.[1] To Judah applies exactly what in Ps. lxxxix. 31-35 is said
of David: "If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My
judgments; if they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments;
then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity
with stripes. Nevertheless, My loving-kindness will I not utterly take
from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not
break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips." But the
greater the degradation that had come upon Judah, the more consoling is
this promise. If we see that neither the decline of David's and Judah's
dominion after Solomon, nor the apparently total disappearance of
David's kingdom which took place after the Chaldee catastrophe, and
continued for centuries; nor the altogether comfortless condition (when
[Pg 67] looking only at what Is visible) which Jeremiah describes in
the words: "Judah is captive in affliction and great servitude: she
dwelleth among the heathen, and findeth no rest. The anointed of the
Lord, who was our consolation, is taken in their pits, he of whom we
said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen. Slaves are
ruling over us, and there is none to deliver us from their hand;"--if
we see that all these things did not prevent the fulfilment of the
words, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh
come;"--that, notwithstanding all these things, it most gloriously
manifested itself in the appearance of Christ, that the dominion
remained still with Judah;--why should we be dismayed though the river
of the kingdom of God should sometimes lose itself in the sand? Why
should we not be firmly confident that in due time it shall spring
forth again with its clear and powerful waters?--But the _Jews_ are not
benefited by this distinction betwixt the _definitive_ departing of the
sceptre, and one which is merely _temporary_. The latter must
necessarily be distinguished from the former by this:--that even in the
times of abasement, there must be single symptoms which still indicate
the continuance of the sceptre; and this was evidently the case in the
times before Christ. In Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, and Hezekiah, the sceptre
of Judah brought forth new leaves; after their return from the
captivity, the place, at least, was pointed out by Zerubbabel, which
the Davidic kingdom would, at some future period, again occupy. The
victories of the times of the Maccabees, though they themselves were
not of the tribe of Judah, served to manifest clearly that the lion's
strength and the lion's courage had not yet departed from Judah. It is
not without significance that _Judas Maccabeus_ had his name thus. And
under all these events the family of David always remained distinct,
and capable of being traced out. But nothing of all this is to be found
with the Jews during the 1800 years after Christ; and hence the vanity
of their hope that, in some future time, it will be made evident by the
appearance of Shiloh, that the supremacy and dominion of Judah are not

Along with the _sceptre_ which shall not depart from Judah, the
_lawgiver_ is mentioned, for whom many would, quite arbitrarily,
substitute the _commander's staff_. Is. xxxiii. 22 is explanatory of
this passage; "For the Lord our Judge, the [Pg 68] Lord our Lawgiver,
the Lord our King, He will save us"--where the _lawgiver_ is put on a
level with the _judge_ and _king_. Gesenius translates it by: our

The lawgiver shall not depart "from between his feet." This is a
poetical expression for "from him." He is, as it were, to have the
lawgiver wherever he moves or stands. Explanatory of this is the
passage in Judges v. 27, where, in the Song of Deborah, it is said of
Jael, "He bowed between her feet, he fell, he lay down." That which any
one has between his feet, is accordingly his territory on which he
moves, that within his reach. In the latter passage the prose
expression would have been, "beside her," and in the passage under
consideration, "from him."[8]

Sceptre and lawgiver shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh come.
Here everything depends upon fixing the derivation and signification of
this word. There cannot be any doubt, and, indeed, it is now almost
universally admitted, that it is derived from שלה, "to rest." In the
first edition of this work, the author gave it as his opinion, that its
formation was analogous to that of כידור, "tumult of war," from כדר,
"to be troubled," קיטר, "smoke," from שִׁלֹחַ ,קטר from שלח; and many
(_Hofmann_, _Kurtz_, _Reinke_) have stedfastly maintained this opinion
even until now. But the author must confess that the objections raised
against this derivation by _Tuch_ are well-founded. "In the first
place," _Tuch_ remarks, "it is well known that forms like קיטר do not
constitute any special class in the etymology, but have originated from
_Piel_ forms (_Ewald_, Lehrb. d. Hebr. Spr. § 156 b), as is very
clearly shown by קימוש, being found by the side of קִמּוֹשׁ. But the _o_ in
the final syllable of these words is not an o unchangeable, according
to the rules of etymology, and could, therefore, not remain in a root
לח; _and there is not found, in general, any form of a root_ לח
_analogous to_ קיטר." But far more decisive is another reason. "The
_nomina Gentilia_ גילני (2 Sam. xv. 12), שילני (1 Kings [Pg 69] xi. 29,
xii. 15), lead us from the supposed form to the substantive termination
־וֹן which a _liquida_ may drop, and express the remaining vowel ו by
ה." (Compare _Ewald_, § 163.) Now that _Shiloh_ is an abbreviation of
_Shilon_ is proved, not only by the _nomen gentile_, but also by the
fact, that the ruins of the town which received its name from the
Shiloh in our passage, are, up to the present moment, called _Seilun_,
and that Josephus writes _Silo_ as well as _Silun_, Σιλοῦν (compare
_Robinson_, Travels iii. 1, p. 305); and, _finally_, by the analogy of
the name שלמה, which is formed after the manner of שילה, and likewise
shortened from שלמון. We must confess that _Tuch_ is right also when he
asserts: "That it is quite impossible to give the word the
signification of an appellative noun, since it is only in proper names,
in which the signification of the suffix of derivation is of less
consequence, that _on_ is shortened into _o_." The only exception is
that of אבדה, "hell," in Prov. xxvii. 20; but even this is only an
_apparent_ exception, and is quite in accordance with the rule laid
down, inasmuch as "hell" is, in this passage, personified,--as is
frequently the case in other passages. (Compare Rev. ix. 11.) But this
case very plainly shows that we are not at liberty to apply, as _Tuch_
does, the measure of our proper names to those of Scripture, which are
used in a more comprehensive sense. The Samaritan translation is,
therefore, right in retaining the "Shiloh." As the passage under review
is the first in which the person of the Redeemer meets us, so Shiloh is
also the first _name_ of the Redeemer,--a name expressive of His
nature, and quite in correspondence with the names in Is. ix. 5, and
with the name Immanuel in Is. vii. 14. With respect to the
_signification_ of the name, the termination _on_, according to
_Ewald_, § 163, forms adjectives and abstract nouns. The analogy of the
name שלמה, which is formed after the manner of שילה, indicates that it
has here _an adjective_ signification, and, like Solomon, Shiloh
denotes "the man of rest," corresponds to the "Prince of Peace" in Is.
ix. 5, and, viewed in its character of a proper name, is like the
German "_Friedrich_" = Frederick, _i.e._, "rich in peace," "the
Peaceful one."

To Shiloh the nations shall adhere. The word יקהה is commonly
understood as meaning "obedience."[9] But it does not [Pg 70] denote
every kind of obedience, but only that which is spontaneous, and has
its root in piety. This is clearly shown by the only passage in which,
besides the one under consideration, the word יקהה is found, Prov. xxx.
17: "An eye that mocketh at his father, and despises the יקהה of his
mother."[10] To this view we are led also by the Arabic, where the word
[Arabic: **], does not denote obedience in general, but willing
obedience, docility, in the viii. sq. ל _dicto audientem se præbuit
more discipuli_. (Compare _Camus_ in _Schulten_, on Prov. l. c.)
Cognate is [Arabic: **], "to take care," "to guard oneself," specially
of the conflict with the higher powers of life, in the viii. _semet
custodivit ah aliqua re, et absolute timuit coluitque Deum, pius fuit._
From it is derived יקה _pius_ in Prov. xxx. 1, where the son of Jakeh
speaks to "With me is God, and I prevail" (_Heb._ Itheal and Ucal.)

Luther, although he has misunderstood the right meaning of Shiloh, has
yet beautifully comprehended the sense of the whole passage. "This is a
golden text," he says, "and well worthy of remembrance, namely: that
the kingdom of Christ will not be such a kingdom as that of David was,
of whom it is said, 1 Chron. xxviii. 3, that he was a man of war and
had shed much blood. The kingdom of Shiloh, which succeeded it, is not
a kingdom so powerful and bloody, but consists in this,--that the word,
by which it is ruled or administered, is heard, believed, and obeyed.
All will be done by means of preaching; and this will just be the sign
by which the kingdom of Christ is distinguished from the other kingdoms
of this world, which are governed by the sword and by physical power."
To this point also Luther draws attention, that our prophecy affords a
powerful support to the ministers of the Word: "It will be done by the
proclamation of the promise, and Shiloh will be [Pg 71] present with
it, and will be efficient and powerful through our tongue and mouth."

That by the _nations_ are not meant either the Canaanites in
particular, or the tribes of Israel, but the nations in general,
appears, partly, from the connection with what precedes--those who now
willingly obey are evidently the enemies spoken of in vers. 8, 9,--and,
partly, from the reference to the earlier promises of Genesis, all of
which refer to nations in general. If a limitation had been intended,
an express indication of it would have been necessary. The analogy of
the parallel Messianic passages likewise militates against such a
limitation; _e.g._, Ps. lxxii. 8: "He shall have dominion from sea to
sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (Compare also Is.
xi. 10.)

In the Shiloh, the whole dignity of Judah as Lord and Ruler is to be
concentrated. It hence follows, that the nations who will not willingly
obey Him as Shiloh, must experience the destructive power of His
sceptre (Num. xxiv. 17; Ps. ii. 9), and that behind the attractive
kingdom of peace, there is concealed the destructive dominion of the

Several interpreters have determined the sense as follows:--The
dominion of Judah should continue until the appearing of Shiloh; but
that then he should lose it.[11] We, on the contrary, conceive the
sense to be this: "That the tribe of Judah should not lose the dominion
until he attain to its highest realization by Shiloh, who should be
descended from him, and to whom all the nations of the earth should
render obedience."

Against this interpretation no difficulty can be raised from the עד כי.
It is true that this term has always a reference to the _terminus ad
quem_ only, and includes it; but it is as certain that, very
frequently, a _terminus ad quem_ is mentioned which is not intended to
be the last, but only one of special importance; so that what lies
beyond it is lost sight of. (Compare the author's _Dissert. on the
Genuin. of Daniel_, pp. 55-56.) If [Pg 72] only sceptre and lawgiver
were secured to Judah up to the time of Shiloh's coming, then, as a
matter of course, they were so afterwards. That, previous to the coming
of Shiloh, great dangers would threaten the sceptre of Judah, is
indicated by Jacob, since he lays so much stress upon the sceptre's not
departing until that time. _Hence we expect circumstances that will
almost amount to a departing of the sceptre._

But the positive reason for this interpretation is, that if, according
to the other opinion, Judah were told that the dominion of his tribe
were, at some future period, to cease, this would not be in harmony
with the tone of the remainder of the address to Judah, which is
altogether of a cheerful character. And _then_,--Jacob would, in
that case, not have allowed the Messianic promise to remain in
its indefinite state; from former analogies, we should have been
induced to expect that he would transfer it to one of his sons. And
_finally_,--from the analogy of the other Messianic prophecies, as well
as from history, it seems not to be admissible to contrast the dominion
of Judah with the kingdom of the Messiah. The dominion of Judah does
not by any means _terminate_ in Christ; it rather _centres_ in Him.

We are not expressly told that the Shiloh will be descended from Judah;
but this is supposed to be self-evident, and is not, therefore,
expressly mentioned. If it were otherwise, the Shiloh would not have
been alluded to in connection with Judah at all. A restriction of the
promise to Judah, such as would take place if the Shiloh did not belong
to him, is the less legitimate, inasmuch as, in vers. 8, 9, victory and
dominion, without any limitation, are promised to Judah.

Having thus adduced the positive arguments in support of our view of
this passage, let us now further examine the opinions of those who
differ from us. Here, then, we must first of all consider those which
are at one with us in the acknowledgment that this passage contains the
promise of a personal Messiah.

1. Some interpreters (_Jonathan_, _Luther_, _Calvin_, _Knapp_, _Dogm._)
are of opinion that שילה is compounded of the noun שיל, "child," and
the suffix of the third person: "Until his (_i.e._, Judah's) son or
descendant, the Messiah, shall come." (Luther, somewhat differently.)
But this supposed signification of שיל [Pg 73] is destitute of any
tenable foundation. That by such an explanation, moreover, there is a
dissolution of the connection betwixt the Shiloh in this passage, and
Shiloh the name of a place, which is written in precisely the same
manner, is decisive against both the view just given forth and that
which follows.

2. Others (the last of them. _Sack_ in the second edition of his
_Apolog._) suppose the word to be erroneously pointed. They propose to
read שֶׁלֹּה, compounded of ש for אשר, and the suffix ה for ו. They
suppose the language to be elliptical: "Until He come to whom the
dominion or sceptre belongs, or is due." The principal argument in
support of this exposition is, that most of the ancient translators
seem to have followed this punctuation. It is true that this is
doubtful as regards _Onkelos_ and the _Targum_ of Jerusalem, which
translate, "_Donec veniat Messias, cujus est regnum_;" for we may well
suppose that here שילה is simply rendered by משיחא, while the following
clause adds a complement from Ezek. xxi. 32, which is founded upon the
passage now under review. But it is certain that the LXX. supposed the
punctuation to be שֶׁלֹּה. They translate: ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ
(Thus read the two oldest manuscripts--the Vatican and Alexandrian. The
other reading, ᾧ ἀπόκειται, has no doubt crept in from the later Greek
translations, notwithstanding the charge which _Justinus_ [_Dial. c.
Tryph._ § 120] raises against the Jews, that they had substituted the τὰ
ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ for the earlier ᾧ ἀπόκειται. Comp. _Stroth_ in
_Eichhorn's_ Repert. ii. 95; _Hohne's_ edition of the LXX.) _Aquila_
and _Symmachus_, who translate, ᾧ ἀπόκειται, as well as the Syriac and
Saadias, who translate, _Ille cujus est_, follow the same reading. But
the defenders of this exposition are wrong in inferring, from the
circumstance of the ancient translations having followed this
punctuation, that it was generally received. Had such been the case,
how could it be explained that it should no more be found in any of our
manuscripts? For the circumstance that forty manuscripts collected by
_de Rossi_ have שלה written without a י, cannot be considered as of
great weight; since it is merely a defective way of writing, occurring
frequently in similar words. But if we consider the fact, which may be
established upon historical grounds, that the Jews watched with most
anxious care the uncorrupted preservation of the received [Pg 74] text
of Holy Scripture, according to its consonants and pronunciation; that
they did not even venture to receive into the text any emendation,
though it should have recommended itself as in the highest degree
probable; while, on the other hand, the ancient Jewish and Christian
translators took great liberties in this respect, and, in the manifold
perplexities into which, owing to their insufficient resources and
knowledge, they fell, helped themselves as best they could;--it will
certainly appear to us most probable, that even the ancient translators
found our vocalization of the word as the received one, but felt
themselves obliged to depart from it, because they could, in accordance
with it, give no suitable derivation; whilst the punctuation adopted by
them agreed perfectly with the traditional reference of the passage to
the Messiah. But if this be the case, the authority of the ancient
translations can here be of no greater weight than that of any modern
interpreter; and, in the case under review, we are at liberty to urge
all those considerations which are, in general, advanced against any
change in the vocalization, unless there be most urgent reasons for it.
The ancient translators, moreover, can have less weight with us,
because we can distinctly perceive that a misapprehension of Ezek. xxi.
32 (27)--on which passage we shall afterwards comment--gave rise to
their error. Against this explanation it may be further urged, not only
that the ש _prefix_ occurs nowhere else in the Pentateuch--an objection
which is not in itself sufficient, since it occurs so early as in the
song of Deborah, Judges v. 7--but also, that the supposed ellipsis
would be exceedingly hard. (Compare _Stange_, _Theol. Symm._ i. S. 238

Before we pass on to a consideration of the non-Messianic
interpretation, we shall first state the reasons which bear us out in
assuming that the passage under review contains a prophecy of a
personal Messiah.

It is certainly, with respect to this, a matter of no slight importance
that, with a rare agreement, exegetical tradition finds a promise to
this effect here expressed; and this circumstance has a significance so
much the greater, the less that this agreement extends to the
interpretation of the particulars, especially as regards the Shiloh.
How manifold soever these differences may be, _all antiquity agrees in
interpreting this passage of a personal Messiah_; and we could scarcely
conceive of such an agreement, [Pg 75] unless there had been some
objective foundation for it. As regards, first, the exegetical
tradition of the Jews,--how far soever we may follow it, it finds, in
ver. 10, the Messiah. Thus the LXX. explained it; for, that by "what is
destined to Judah" (ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ) they understood
nothing else than the sending of the Messiah, is shown by the words
following--καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν,--which can refer only to the
Messiah. (Compare Is. xlii. 4 according to the LXX.) In the same manner
the passage was understood by _Aquila_, the Chaldee Paraphrasts, the
_Targum_ of _Onkelos_, of _Jonathan_, and of _Jerusalem_, the _Talmud_,
the _Sohar_, and the ancient book of _Breshith Rabba_. Several even of
the modern commentators, _e.g._, _Jarchi_, have retained this
explanation, although a strong doctrinal interest, to which others
yielded, tempted them to give another interpretation to this passage,
which occupied so prominent a place in the polemics of the Christians.
(Compare the passage in _Raim. Martini Pug. Fid._ ed. _Carpzov_; _Jac.
Alting's_ Shiloh, Franc. 1660, 4to [also in the opp. t. v.];
_Schöttgen_, _hor. Hebr._ ii. p. 146; and, most completely, in "_Jac.
Patriarch. de Schiloh vatic. a depravatione Clerici assertum_, op.
_Seb. Edzardi_, Londini 1698, p. 103 sq.") The Samaritans, too,
understood the passage as referring to the Messiah. (Compare _Samarit.
Briefwechsel_, communicated by _Schnurrer_ in _Eichhorn's Repert._ ix.
S. 27.) It is true that from other passages ("_Epist. Samarit. ad Jobum
Ludolfum_," in _Eichhorn's Repert._ xiii. S. 281-9, compared with _de
Sacy_ "_de Vers. Samarit. Arab. Pentateuchi_ in _Eichhorn's Biblioth._"
x. S. 54) it appears that, in accordance with their doctrine of a
double Messiah--one who had already appeared, and one who was still to
come--they referred our passage, partly to the former, and denied its
reference to the real Messiah. But this is of no importance. For, as
Gesenius also has remarked (_Carmina Samaritana_, p. 75), the doctrine
of a double Messiah is of recent origin with the Samaritans as well as
with the Jews; and hence, it is very probable that the reference to the
real Messiah was, formerly, the generally prevailing one, which was,
even afterwards, to a large extent retained, as is shown by the passage
first quoted.--_Finally_, In the Christian Church the Messianic
interpretation has been the prevailing one ever since the earliest
times. We find it as early as _Justin Martyr_. [Pg 76] The Greek and
Latin Fathers agree in it. (Compare the statements in _Reinke_.) Even
_Grotius_ could not but admit that this passage referred to the
Messiah; and _Clericus_ stands quite alone and isolated, in his
time, as an objector against the Messianic interpretation of it.

But even in the Canon itself, this passage is understood of a personal
Messiah. David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, look upon it in this light.
(Concerning this point, compare the inquiries in the subsequent
portions of this work.)

The entire relation of the Pentateuch to the succeeding sacred
literature, and the circumstance that the former constitutes the
foundation of the latter, and contains, in the germ, all that is
afterwards more fully developed, entitle us to expect, that the
Messianic idea has also found its expression in those books. The more
prominent the place occupied, in the later books, by the announcement
of a personal Messiah, the more unlikely it will be to him who has
acquired right fundamental views regarding the Pentateuch, to conceive
that this announcement should be wanting in it--the announcement,
especially, of the Messiah in His kingly office; for it is this office
of the Messiah which, in the Old Testament, generally takes a prominent
place, and is, before all others, represented in the subsequent books.
But there cannot be any doubt, that the promise of a personal Messiah
in His kingly office, if it be found in the Old Testament at all, must
exist in the passage which we are now considering.

The promises which first were given to Jacob's parents, and thereafter
transferred to him, included two things:--_first_, a numerous progeny,
and the possession of Canaan for them;--and _secondly_, the blessing
which, through them, was to come upon all nations. How, then, could it
be expected that Jacob, in transferring these blessings to his sons,
and while in spirit seeing them already in possession of the promised
land, and describing the places of abode which they would occupy, and
what should befall them, should have entirely lost sight of the second
object, which was much the more important, and as often repeated? Is it
not, on the contrary, probable that, as formerly, from among the sons
of Abraham and Isaac, so now, from among the sons of Jacob, _he_ should
be pointed out who should, according to the will of God, become the
depositary of this [Pg 77] promise, which was acquiring more and more
of a definite shape? The contrary of this we can the less imagine,
because, according to ver. 2, Jacob is to tell his sons that which
shall befall them "at the end of the days." The expression, "the end of
the days," is always used of that only which lies at the end of the
course which is seen by the speaker. (Compare my work on Balaam,[12]
p. 465 f.) Accordingly, it indicates, in this passage, that Jacob's
announcement must comprehend the whole of the future sphere which
was accessible to him. But if we do not admit the reference, in
this passage, to the Messiah, then a whole territory of future
time, notoriously accessible to Jacob, is left untouched by his
announcement.--From the beginning of Genesis, we find the expectation
of an universal salvation; and at every new separation, the depositary
of this salvation, and its mediator for the whole remaining world, are
regularly pointed out. At first, salvation is promised to the whole
human race, then to the family of Shem, then to Abraham, then to Isaac,
then to Jacob. "Now that the patriarchal _trias_, since Jacob, has
extended into a _dodekas_ forming the historical transition from the
family of the promise to the nation of the promise, the question
arises, from which of the twelve tribes salvation, _i.e._, the victory
of mankind, and the blessing of the nations, is to come." (_Delitzsch_,
_Prophetische Theologie_, S. 293.) Should Genesis become to such a
degree inconsistent with itself as not to answer a question which
itself has called forth? But that answer is contained in the passage
under consideration, only if Shiloh be taken for the personal name of
the Redeemer. Unless we have recourse to artificial explanations, the
announcement of Judah's being the bearer of salvation is to be found in
our passage, only when, at the same time, the first indication of the
person of the Messiah is perceived in it.

If the reference of the passage to a personal Messiah be explained
away, we should certainly be at a loss to discover where the
fundamental prophecy of such an one could possibly be found. We should
then, in the first place, be thrown upon the Messianic Psalms,
especially Ps. ii. and cx. But as it is the office of prophecy only to
introduce to the knowledge of the congregation [Pg 78] truths
absolutely new, it would subvert the whole relation of psalm-poetry to
prophecy, if in these psalms we were to seek for the origin of the
expectations of a personal Messiah. These psalms become intelligible,
only if in Shiloh we recognise the first name of the Messiah. The
passage in question, in combination with the prophetical announcement
of the eternal dominion of the house of David, afforded the complete
objective foundation for the subjective poetry of the Psalms. The
eternity of dominion here promised to Judah was, as we learn from 2
Sam. vii., transferred to David. The exalted person in whom, according
to our passage, the dominion of Judah was to culminate, must then
necessarily belong to the house of David. _Further_,--If the passage
under review be understood of the Messiah, we have an excellent
fountainhead for all the prophecies of a personal Messiah; in its
significant, enigmatical, and expressive brevity, it is most suitable
for such a purpose. But if its reference to the Messiah be explained
away, we are deprived altogether of a suitable starting-point. In the
Davidic psalms, the Messianic prophecy already more strongly resembles
a stream than a fountain.

So great is the weight of these reasons for the Messianic
interpretation, that we might reasonably have expected that such
expositors at least as stand on the ground of positive Christianity
should abandon it only from overwhelming reasons, or, at least, from
such only as are in the highest degree probable. But in this
expectation we have been disappointed. The most superficial objections
have been considered sufficient by _Hofmann_, _Kurtz_, and others, to
induce them to disregard the consensus of the whole Christian Church.
We cannot, indeed, but be astonished at this.

_Kurtz_, following the example of _Hofmann_, says: "The organic
progress of prophecy, and its correlative connection with history,
which must be maintained in all its stages, forbid us, most decidedly,
to assign to the expectation of a personal Messiah, a period so early
as that of the Patriarchs. The clearly expressed aim of the whole
history of this period is the expansion into a great nation; its whole
tendency is directed towards the growth of the multiplicity of a people
from the unity of the Patriarchs. As long as the subject of the history
was the increase into a nation, the idea of a single personal Saviour
[Pg 79] could not, by any means, take root. Such could occur only after
they had actually expanded into a great nation in history, and the
necessity had been felt of concentrating the multiplicity of the
expanded, into the unity of a single, individual, _i.e._, after one had
appeared as the deliverer and saviour, as the leader and ruler of the
whole nation. It is therefore only after Moses, Joshua, and David, that
the expectation of a personal Messiah could arise."--Do you mean to
teach God wisdom? we might ask, in answer to such argumentation. To
chain prophecy to history in such a manner, is in reality nothing short
of destroying it. How much soever people may choose to varnish it, this
is but another form of Naturalism, against the influence of which no
one is secure, because it is in the atmosphere of our day. Men who
occupy a ground of argumentation so narrow-minded and trifling,--who
would rather shape history than heartily surrender themselves to it,
and find out, meditate upon, and follow the footsteps of God in
it,--will be compelled to erase even the promise in Gen. xii. 3, "In
thee all the families of the earth shall be blessed," yea, even the
words, "I will make of thee a great nation," with which the promise
begins; for even _that_ violates the natural order. But the historical
point of connection for the announcement of a personal Messiah, which
here at once, like a flash of lightning, illuminates the darkness, is
not at all wanting to such a degree as is commonly asserted. On the
contrary, if the blessing upon the heathen be allowed to stand, the
expectation of a personal Saviour must necessarily arise from a
consideration of the known events of history, and meet the immediate
revelation of such an one by God. The whole history of the time of the
Patriarchs bears a _biographical_ character. Single individuals are,
in it, the depositaries of the divine promises, the channels of the
divine life. All the blessings of salvation which the congregation
possessed at the time when Jacob's blessing was uttered, had come to
them through single individuals. Why, then, should the highest
Salvation come to them in any other way? Why should not Abraham be as
fit a type of the Messiah as Moses, Joshua, and David,--Abraham, of
whom God, in Gen. xx. 7, says to Abimelech, the heathen king, "Now
therefore restore the man his wife, for he is a prophet; and if he
prays for thee, thou shalt live?" Or why not Joseph, who, according to
Gen. xlvii. 12, "nourished [Pg 80] his father and his brethren, and all
his father's household," and whom the grateful Egyptians called "the
Saviour of the World?"

Just as untenable is a second argument against the Messianic
explanation,--namely, that there is no parallelism between the two
clauses, "until Shiloh comes," "and to Him shall be the obedience of
the nations," but only a pure progress of thought. The laws of
parallelism are not iron fetters; and, moreover, the parallelism in
substance fully exists here, if only it be acknowledged that יקהה does
not signify any kind of obedience, but only a willing surrender. The
words, "until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the
nations," are identical in meaning with, "until He cometh, who bringeth
rest, and whom the nations shall willingly obey." The second member
thus serves to explain the first; the sense would be substantially
preserved although one of the members were wanting. The parallelism is
slightly concealed only by the circumstance that the words run, "to Him
the obedience of the nations,"--instead of, "He to whom shall be the
obedience of the nations."

Let us now take a survey of the principal non-Messianic
interpretations. A suspicion as to their having any foundation at all
in the subject itself must surely be raised by their variety and
multiplicity, as well as by the circumstance, that they who object to
the Messianic explanation can never, in any way, succeed in uniting
with each other, but that, with them, one interpretation is sure to be
overthrown by another. Such is, in every case, a sure indication of

Moreover, it is possible, in every case, to trace out some interest,
apart from the merits of the question, which has led to the objections
against the Messianic interpretation. With the Jews, it was because
they were driven to a strait by the argumentation of the Christians,
that the Messiah must long ago have come, since sceptre and lawgiver
had long ago departed from Judah. The rationalistic interpreters have
evidently been determined by their antipathy to any Messianic
prophecies in the Old Testament. _Hofmann_ and his followers do not in
the least conceal that they are guided by their principle of a
concatenation of prophecy with history.

The opinion, according to which it is maintained that Shiloh is the
name of the well-known locality in Ephraim, has found not a few
defenders. Among these, several, and last of all [Pg 81] _Bleek_, in
the _Observ._; _Hitzig_, on Ps. li. 2; _Diestel_, "der Segen Jacobs,"
translate: "Until he or they come to Shiloh." The sense is thus
supposed to be: "Judah will be the leader of the tribes, in the journey
to Canaan, until they come to Shiloh." There, in consequence of the
tribes being dispersed to the boundaries assigned to them, he would
then lose his leadership.[13] But such an explanation is, in every
point of view, inadmissible. It is very probable that the town Shiloh
did not exist at all, under this name, at the time of Jacob. The name
nowhere occurs in the Pentateuch; and the Book of Joshua (as we shall
show at a subsequent time) contains traces, far from indistinct, that
it arose only after the occupation of the land by the Israelites. But
even supposing that the town of Shiloh already existed tit the time of
Jacob, yet the abrupt mention of a place so little known would
be something strange and unaccountable. It would be out of the
range of Jacob's visions, which nowhere regard mere details, but have
everywhere for their object only the future in its general outlines.
_Further_,--The temporary limitation thus put to the superiority of
Judah would be in glaring contradiction to vers. 8 and 9, where Judah
is exalted to be the Lion of God without any limitation as to time.
And, _finally_,--Up to the time of their arrival in Shiloh, Judah was
never in possession of the sceptre and lawgiver;--and this reason
would alone be sufficient to overthrow the opinion which we are now
combating. We have already proved that, by these terms, royal power and
dominion are designated, and that, for this reason, the _beginning_ of
the fulfilment cannot be sought for in any period previous to the time
of David. But even if we were to come down to the mere _leadership_ of
Judah, we could demonstrate that even this did not belong to him. His
marching in front of the others cannot, even in the remotest degree,
be considered as a leadership. Moses, who belonged to another tribe,
had been solemnly called by God to the chief command. Nor was Joshua
[Pg 82] of the tribe of Judah. In him, on the contrary, there appeared
the germ of Ephraim's superiority, which continued through the whole
period of the Judges, and which came to an end only by David's having
been raised to the royal dignity. (Compare my commentary on Ps.

Others (_Tuch_, _Maurer_) give the explanation: "As long as they come
to Shiloh." This, according to them, the "poet" meant to be identical
with: "in all eternity." They think that his (the "poet's") meaning
was, that the holy tabernacle, which at his time (_Tuch_ assigns the
composition of Jacob's blessing to the period of Samuel) was at Shiloh,
would remain there to all eternity. To this exposition it would be
alone sufficient to object that, according to it, the phrase עד כי,
which uniformly means only "until," is taken in the signification "as
long as." _Further_,--History plainly enough shows how little the
sanctuary was considered to be bound to Shiloh; to which place it had
been brought, not in consequence of an express divine declaration, but
only in accordance with Joshua's own views. When the ark of the
covenant was carried away by the Philistines, this was considered as an
express declaration of God, that He would no longer dwell in Shiloh.
How different was the case as regards Jerusalem! Notwithstanding the
destruction by the Chaldees, the city continued to be the seat of the
sanctuary. _Further_,--This view implies a strange blending of gross
error--viz., the supposition that the sanctuary would remain for ever
in Shiloh--and of true prophecy, viz., the announcement, uttered at the
time of Ephraim's leadership, of the dominion of the tribe of Judah,
which was first realized in David's royalty. The only ground in support
of the Ephraimitic Shiloh--the fact, namely, that Shiloh, wherever else
it occurs in the Old Testament, always signifies the name of the
place--we hope to invalidate by and by; when it will be seen that the
town received its name only on the ground of the passage now under

Other opponents of the Messianic interpretation take Shiloh as a _nomen
appellativum_, in the signification of _rest_. They translate either,
"Until rest cometh and people obey him" (thus _Vater_, _Gesenius_,
_Knobel_), or, "Until he comes (or, they come) to rest" (thus
_Hofmann_, _Kurtz_, and others). By "rest," they understand either the
political rest enjoyed under David and Solomon, or they find here
expressed the idea of eternal rest in [Pg 83] the expected Messianic
time. Thus do _Gesenius_, _Hofmann_, and _Kurtz_ understand it. The
last-named determines the sense thus: "Judah shall remain in the
uninterrupted possession of a princely position among his brethren,
until through warfare and by victory he shall have realized the aim,
object, and consummation of his sovereignty in the attained enjoyment
of happy rest and undisturbed peace, and in the willing and joyful
obedience of the nations." But this explanation is to be suspected,
simply from the circumstance, that, in whatever other place Shiloh
occurs, it is used as a _nomen proprium_; while it is entirely
overthrown by the circumstance, that, according to its form, as already
deduced, Shiloh can be nothing else than a _nomen proprium_.[14] We
here only remark, by way of anticipation, that David, Solomon,
Isaiah, and Ezekiel bear testimony against this explanation. An
interpretation which dissevers the connection betwixt Shiloh and
Shiloh, betwixt Shiloh and Solomon, betwixt Shiloh and the Prince of
Peace, betwixt Shiloh and Him "whose is the judgment," must be,
thereby, self-condemned. Against the explanation, "Until he comes to
rest," it may also be urged, that the Accusative could not here stand
after a verb of motion; it was too natural to consider Shiloh as the
subject. If it had been intended in any other sense, a preposition
would have been absolutely requisite.

We further remark, that vers. 11 and 12, which ancient and modern
interpreters, _e.g._, _Kurtz_, have attempted to bring into artificial
connection with ver. 10, simply "finish the picture of Judah's
happiness by a description of the luxurious fulness of his rich
territory" (_Tuch_). Their tenor is quite different from that which
precedes, where a pre-eminence was assigned to Judah; for they contain
nothing beyond a simple, positive declaration. What is in them assigned
to Judah, belongs to him only as a part of the whole, as a fellow-heir
of the country flowing with milk and honey, and corresponds entirely
with the blessings upon the other sons, which are, almost all of them,
only individual applications of the general blessing. It is evidently
parallel to what, in vers. 25, 26, is said of Joseph, and in ver 20 of
Asher. That which Jacob here assigns to Judah, was [Pg 84] formerly, in
Gen. xxvii. 28, assigned by Isaac to Jacob, and in him to the whole
people: "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the
earth, and plenty of corn and wine." Hence, it is not at all necessary
to examine history for the purpose of ascertaining whether Judah was
distinguished above the other tribes, by plenty of wine and milk.

We need not lose much time in discussing the attempts which have been
made to assign the blessing of Jacob to a later period. The futility of
all of them is proved by the circumstance, that we have not here before
us any special predictions, such as are peculiar to _vaticinia post
eventum_, but general prophetical outlines, individual applications
of the general blessings, exemplifications. Whatever seems, at first
sight, to be different, melts away while handling it. Thus, for
example, the blessings which Israel enjoyed by his dwelling on the
sea-side, are pointed out in the blessing upon Zebulun, because he had
his name from the _dwelling_, Gen. xxi. 20. That Zebulun is here viewed
only as a part of the whole, appears from the fact that, afterwards, he
did not live by the sea at all. In the case of Issachar, it was the
individuality of the ancestor Jacob which gave him occasion to
describe, from his own example, the dangers of an indolent rest.
History does not say anything of Issachar alone having yielded to these
dangers in a peculiar degree. In the case of Joseph, the events
personal to the son are transferred to the tribe, and in the tribe, to
the whole nation. In an inimitable manner the tender love of the father
towards his son and provider meets us here. The only thing which goes
beyond the human sphere of Jacob, is the prediction by which Judah is
placed in the centre of the world's history. But it is just this which,
even in its beginnings, goes beyond the time at which this pretended
_vaticinium post eventum_ is placed by _Tuch_, _Bleek_, and _Ewald_;
for, by this assumption of theirs, they are necessarily limited to the
time before David, if they wish to avoid the insurmountable
difficulties which arise from what is said of Levi and of Joseph. But
to the man who looks deeper, vers. 8-10 are just the seal of the
divinity, and hence of the genuineness also, of this prophecy, and,
with all his heart, he will hate such miserable conjectures.[15]

[Pg 85]

Let us now follow through history Jacob's blessing upon Judah. From
this inquiry it will appear how deep has been the impression made by it
upon the people of the covenant. On this occasion also, it will be seen
still more distinctly what the right is which rationalistic criticism
has to declare this _fundamental prophecy_ to be the recent production
of an obscure poet. The chain-like character of Holy Scripture will be
seen in a very striking light.

In Num. ii. regulations are laid down respecting the order in which the
tribes are to encamp about the tabernacle, and in which they are to set
forth. "On the east side, towards which the entrance of the sanctuary
is directed, and hence in the front, Judah, as the principal tribe, is
encamped; and the two sons of his mother--Issachar and Zebulun--who
were born immediately after him, pitch next to him. On the south side
there is the camp, with the standard, of Reuben; and next to him are
his brother Simeon, who was born immediately after him, and Gad, one of
the sons of his mother's maid. The west side is assigned to the sons of
Rachel, with Ephraim at their head. And, _finally_, on the north side,
the three other sons of the maids, viz., Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, have
their position. In the same order as they encamp they are also to set
forth." (_Baumgarten_.)

Judah is the chief tribe on the chief side. This distinction [Pg 86] is
not based on the deeds hitherto performed by Judah, nor is it the
result of any revelation which Moses received upon the subject. It is
regarded as a matter of course. And yet, there must necessarily have
been some foundation for such a distinction, because, otherwise, it
would have called forth the opposition of the other tribes, especially
of that of Ephraim. Such a foundation, however, is afforded only by the
blessing of Jacob, in which the tribe of Judah appears as the leading
one. The complete realization of this prediction is left, indeed, in
the hand of God; but the bearer of honours so great, even although
future, must, in the prospect of that future, enjoy, even in the
present, a certain distinction; such distinction, however, as does not
at all imply sovereignty.

But we are compelled to have recourse to Genesis, and especially to
chap. xlix., the more because the whole arrangement of the camp has
evidently its foundation in Genesis, and the key to a whole series of
facts in it can be found only in chap. xlix. If we ask why it is that
the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun are subordinate to Judah; that
Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, that Ephraim and Benjamin, that Dan, Asher,
and Naphtali are encamped by each other; it is in Genesis alone that we
are furnished with the answer.

The position which Reuben occupies specially points to Gen. xlix. As
the first-born, he ought to stand at the head; but here we find him
occupying the second place. In Gen. xlix. Jacob says to him, on account
of his guilt, "Thou shalt not excel;" and "the excellency of dignity,
and the excellency of power," which up to that time he had possessed,
are transferred to Judah. Yet Moses has so much regard to his original
dignity, that he places him immediately after Judah; the utterance of
Jacob did not entitle him to assign to him a lower position.
_Further_,--The reason why Dan stands at the head of the sons of the
maids is explained only in Gen. xlix. 16-18, where Dan is specially
distinguished among them, and where it is specially said of him, "Dan
shall judge his people."

If the blessing of Jacob be the production of a later time, then the
order of the encampment, which rests upon it, must necessarily be so
also; but such an idea will at once be discarded by every man of sound
judgment. Even they who refuse to acknowledge Moses as the author of
the Pentateuch, admit that [Pg 87] those regulations which bear
reference only to the condition of things in the wilderness must have
originated from him.

But exactly the same order which Moses in Num. ii. prescribes for the
encampment and setting forth of the tribes, is found again in chap.
vii., where there is described the offerings which the princes of the
tribes offered at the dedication of the altar. Every prince has here a
day to himself, and here also does Judah occupy the first place: "And
he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon, the son of
Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah."--If any one should venture to set
down this chapter also, with all its details, as a fabrication of later
times, he would only betray an utter absence of all scientific

According to Num. x. 14, Judah led the march when they set forth from

Balaam's prophecies, the genuineness of which is proved by so many
weighty arguments (compare the enumeration of them in my work on
Balaam), rest, in general, on the fundamental prophecies of Genesis,
but especially on the blessing of Jacob upon Judah.

In Num. xxiii. 24, Balaam says: "Behold, a people, like a full-grown
lion he rises, and like a lion he lifts himself up. Not shall he lie
down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain." This
conclusion of Balaam's second prophecy, which at once demolishes
Balak's vain hopes of victory, by pointing out the dreadful power of
Israel, unconquerable by all his enemies, and crushing them all, has an
intentional reference to Gen. xlix. 9,--a reference specially suitable
for such a conclusion. What was there ascribed to Judah is here
transferred to Israel, whose fore-champion Judah is. "Dost thou think,"
says Balaam to Balak, "of being able to overcome them, to stop them in
their course towards the mark held out to them? Behold, according to an
old revelation of their God, they are a people destroying their enemies
with the lion's strength. Therefore, get thee out of their way, lest
such a fate befall thee."

In Num. xxiv. 9, Balaam says, "He couches, he lies as a lion, and as a
great lion, who shall stir him up?" As in the preceding prophecy he had
pointed out Israel's dreadful power which secures to him victory in the
battle, so here he shows how, even after having finished the battle,
this power so intimidates his enemies, that they do not venture to
disturb his peace. [Pg 88] That which Jacob had said of Judah, is, with
intended literality, here transferred to Israel.

In Num. xxiv. 17, we read: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but
not nigh: a star goeth out of Jacob, and a sceptre riseth out of
Israel, and smiteth the borders of Moab, and destroyeth all the sons of
the tumult."--As the two preceding utterances carry us back to Gen.
xlix. 9, so this one refers to ver. 10, where the sceptre, the emblem
of dominion, denotes, just as it does in this passage, dominion itself,
and where to Judah, and in him to all Israel, the kingdom is promised
which shall at last be consummated in the Shiloh. The meaning of the
words, "A sceptre riseth out of Israel," is explained in ver. 19 by the
words, "Dominion shall come out of Jacob." Jacob has in view the
internal relations among his descendants, and hence he speaks specially
of Judah; but Balaam, in accordance with his object, speaks of Israel
only. Jacob points, at the close, to Shiloh's just and peaceful
dominion; but Balaam, who has to do with the enraged and obstinate
enemies of Israel, points out, from among the effects produced by the
star and sceptre, only the victorious might, and destructive power
which these will display in the conflict with the enemies of Israel.

In the blessing of Moses, Deut. xxxii. 7, it is said of Judah: "Hear,
Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people; with his hands
he fights for himself, and be Thou an help to him from his enemies."
Even the remarkable brevity of this utterance points back to the
blessing of Jacob. With this brevity, the length of the blessing upon
Levi, who had been treated too summarily by Jacob, forms a striking
contrast. In the case of Reuben also, the attempt to pour oil into the
wounds then inflicted is visible. The whole announcement is based upon
the supposition that Judah is the fore-champion of Israel; and this
supposition refers us back to Gen. xlix. This appears especially in the
words, "Bring him to his people," on which light is thrown only by Gen.
xlix. It is for his people that Judah engages in foreign wars, and the
Lord, fulfilling the words, "From the prey, my son, thou goest up,"
brings him safely to his people.[16]

[Pg 89]

There can be no doubt that in Shiloh, as the name of a place, there is
a reference to Gen. xlix. 10. They who rightly denied that Shiloh
could, in that passage, be understood as the name of the place, could,
nevertheless, not feel satisfied as long as they allowed a twofold
Shiloh to exist unconnected with each other. The agreement in the very
rare and peculiar form, which nowhere else occurs, cannot well be a
matter of accident.

In the Pentateuch, Shiloh does not occur at all as the name of
a place. In the passage where Shiloh is first mentioned--in Josh.
xvi. 6--another name is beside it, and prefixed to it. According to
that passage, the former name was Taanah. (They who are of opinion that
this place was different from Shiloh, can find no support from the
authority of _Eusebius_; it is not said Taanah by Shiloh, but
Taanath-Shiloh.) After that place had become the seat of the Sanctuary,
the holy name _Shiloh_ took the place of the former natural one. The
reason why this name was given to it is indicated in Josh. xviii. 1:
"And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled
together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation
there; _and the land was subdued before them_." Compare also xxi. 44,
xxii. 4, where it is remarked that at that time "the Lord gave them
rest round about." (See _Bachiene_, _Palestina_ ii. 3, S. 409 ff.) In
the subjection of the country,--in the rest which the Lord had given
them from all round about, they saw an earnest of, and a prelude to,
the obedience of the nations in general, and to the state of perfect
rest which should take place at some future time with the appearing of
Shiloh. Victory, peace! (_Siegfried!_) such was the watchword
corresponding to the elevated consciousness of the people. It is an
elevation quite similar to that which we so often perceive in the
Psalms. "Sometimes there rises the hope that the Gentiles shall, at
some future period, be received among the people of God--a hope based
upon the experience of the Lord's victorious power in the present, in
which faith perceives a pledge of the future subjection of the world's
power under His sceptre. Thus, in vers. 29-32 of Ps. lxviii., which was
composed by David on the occasion of his having, by the help of the
Lord, conquered his most dangerous enemies, the Aramites and Ammonites;
in Ps. xlvii., written on the occasion of Jehoshaphat's victory over
several heathen nations; and in Ps. lxxxvii., composed on the [Pg 90]
ground of the joyful events under Hezekiah, the germ of the hope for
the conversion of the heathen, which had all along lain dormant in the
people, was developed."[17]

After the main power of the Canaanites had been broken by the
expeditions of all Israel under Joshua, Judah begins, at the command of
God, to expel the Canaanites from the territory assigned to him. In
Judges i. 1, 2, we read: "And the children of Israel asked the Lord,
Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites at the beginning to fight
against them? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up; behold, I deliver
the land into his hands." They were concerned to find out the tribe
who, by the decree of God, had been destined to be the fore-champion
for his brethren, and with whom they might be sure of a happy
commencement of the war. The short answer, "Judah shall go up," would
scarcely have been justified, had it not had a foundation in a previous
declaration of God's will. It indicates that Jacob's blessing upon
Judah still possessed its power.

In like manner, in the war against Benjamin, according to divine
direction, Judah goes up first to the battle, forms the vanguard.
Judges xx. 18. The intentional identity of the expression used here and
in chap. i., leads us to the supposition that the words, "Judah shall
go up," have, in both passages, the same foundation.

From both of these events, we are led to expect that Judah may be
called to occupy a still more important position. The announcement of
Jacob regarding Judah, to which the words, "Judah shall go up," refer,
finds, in these events, evidently but a poor beginning of its complete
fulfilment. All, however, which was required in the meantime, was the
indication, by gentle touches, of the position which Judah was called
to occupy in future times. It is just God's way to take time in
carrying out [Pg 91] His elections; all human conditions must first
disappear. After these two intimations, at the end of the time of
Joshua (for Judges i. 1, 2, belongs to that period; the words, "And it
came to pass after the death of Joshua," do not refer to what follows
immediately after, but only to the contents of the book as a whole),
and at the beginning of the time of the Judges, Judah retires out of
view. During the whole period of the Judges, Ephraim held the
supremacy. Under David, the validity of the election suddenly appeared,
and the announcement of Jacob found a glorious fulfilment; but again,
such an one only as pointed to a still more glorious fulfilment in the
future. Before this took place, however,--before Shiloh came, to whom
the obedience of the people was promised, the lamp of Judah was once
more to be extinguished, so that, to human eyes, it should be invisible
for many centuries.

In 1 Chron. xxviii. 4, David says: "And the Lord God of Israel chose me
out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever; for
He hath chosen Judah to be the ruler, and in the house of Judah, the
house of my father, and in the house of my father. He liked me to make
me king over all Israel." David here points to an event by which Judah
was raised to be the ruling tribe; and such an election is nowhere else
to be found than in Gen. xlix. We cannot for a moment suppose that
Judah was elected only in, and with, the election of David. Against
such a supposition militates the fact, that even the election of
David's house is represented in history as being distinct from the
election of David himself; for in 1 Sam. xvi. the decree of God is
first made known, that one of Jesse's sons is to be king; and it is
only afterwards that we are told which of them is to be chosen. The
expression too, "He hath chosen Judah to be the _ruler_," is decisive
against it; for this expression has an evident reference to the sceptre
and lawgiver in Gen. xlix. But if any doubt should still remain, it
would be entirely removed by the parallel passage in 1 Chron. v. 2,
where, in the words, "For Judah was mighty among his brethren, and of
him the prince was to come," there is an allusion, which cannot be
mistaken, to Gen. xlix.

There cannot be a doubt that David gave to his son the name Solomon,
because he hoped that, in his just and peaceful reign, he would be a
type of the Shiloh whom the nation should willingly [Pg 92] obey, just
as, in his own reign, there had been the first grand fulfilment of what
Jacob had prophesied of Judah's lion-courage, and lion-strength,--of
Judah's sceptre and lawgiver. We have here the counterpart of the fact,
that the children of Israel, after the first occupation of the country,
gave to the seat of the sanctuary the name of Shiloh. In the case of
Solomon, both the name and the substance point to Shiloh. With regard
to the _name_, three out of the four letters of which the name שלמה
consists, are common to it with Shiloh. The signification is precisely
the same; so also is the form. In שלמה as well as in שילה we meet with
the very rare case of the ן at the end being thrown off. In _Ewald's_
Grammar, § 163, these two names are, for this reason, pointed out and
placed immediately beside each other. And, with regard to the agreement
in the _substance_, we refer to 1 Chron. xxii. 9, where Nathan says to
David: "Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of
_rest_, and I will give him _rest_ from all his enemies round about;
for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto
Israel in his days." We refer, _further_, to 1 Kings v. 4, where
Solomon says to Hiram: "And now the Lord my God hath given me _rest_
round about; there is neither adversary nor evil obstacle." We refer,
_finally_, to 1 Kings v. 4, 5 (iv. 24, 25): "He had dominion over all
the region on the other side of the river, from Tiphsah even to Gaza,
over all the kings on the other side of the river, and he had peace
from all his servants round about. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely,
every man under his vine and fig-tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all
the days of Solomon."[18]

But if any further doubt should remain as regards the typical relation
in which Solomon stands to Shiloh, it would be removed by Ps. lxxii.,
which discards the very idea that Solomon could be anything more than a
type,--that any hope had ever been entertained of his being himself the
Shiloh. Even David's Messianic Psalms bear witness against such an
opinion. In harmony with the words of our Lord in Matt. xii. 42, "A [Pg
93] greater than Solomon is here," Solomon In this Psalm points beyond
himself. In his own just and peaceful dominion, he beholds a type of
the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, who, by His justice and love, shall
obtain dominion over the world, and whom all kings shall worship, and
all the heathen shall serve. How closely this Psalm is connected with
Gen. xlix. is pointed out by Ezekiel, in a passage of which we shall
immediately treat.

In ver. 9 of Ps. lx., which was composed by David, the words, "Judah
is my lawgiver"--equivalent to, Judah is my, _i.e._, Israel's ruling
tribe--point to Gen. xlix. 10, according to which the lawgiver shall
not depart from Judah; just as ver. 13, "Give us help from the enemy,"
alludes to Deut. xxxiii. 7, where it is said of Judah, "Be thou a help
to him from his enemies," and ver. 14, to Num. xxiv. 18.

That the Prince of Peace spoken of in Is. ix. 5, under whom there is
"no end to the increase of government and of peace," refers to the
Peaceful One, to whom the nations render obedience, will not be doubted
by those who have recognised the connection in which Solomon and Ps.
lxxii. stand to the Shiloh. Nor will such fail to recognise an allusion
to the Shiloh in all the other passages of the Prophets, in which the
Messiah is described as the Author of rest and peace; _e.g._, Mic. iv.
1-4; Is. ii. 2-4; Zech. ix. 10; and the less so, the more clearly it
appears, from passages of Ezekiel, what influence Gen. xlix. exercised
over the prophetic consciousness. Isaiah significantly alludes to it in
other passages also. In chap. xxix. 1, 2, he says: "Woe to Ariel,
(_i.e._, Lion of God), the city where David encamped! Add ye year to
year, let the feasts revolve. And I distress Ariel, and there shall be
heaviness and affliction, but it shall be unto me as Ariel;"--the
meaning of which is: Jerusalem will, in times to come, endure heavy
affliction (through Asshur), but the world-conquering power of the
kingdom of God will manifest itself in her deliverance. The name Ariel
is emphatically placed at the beginning, and, in it, the Prophet gives
to the congregation of God a guarantee for her deliverance. That which
Jacob had said of Judah, who, to him, appeared as the invincible lion
of God, is here applied to Zion, the city where David encamped, the
centre of the kingdom of Judah.

Ezekiel, in his lamentation over the princes of Israel who, [Pg 94] in
his time, were standing just at the brink of the abyss, says in chap.
xix. 2: "Thy mother was a lioness, who lay down among lionesses, and
brought up her whelps among young lions." The mother is the
congregation of Judah. The image of the lion points to the blessing of
Jacob, and its fulfilment in history. "Judah once couched in a
threatening position, endangering his adversaries,[19] in the midst of
lions, _i.e._, among the other powerful kingdoms fond of conquests."

In Ezek. xxi. 15, 18 (10-15), the Lord, with an evident allusion to
Gen. xlix. 10, announces the (temporary) destruction of the sceptre of
His son (_i.e._, Israel or Judah), a sceptre which despises all other

In vers. 30-32 (25-27) of the same chapter, Ezekiel foretells, in the
name of the Lord, a complete overturning of all relations, a total
revolution, in which the Davidic kingdom especially is brought down, a
condition of affairs in which rest and safety will not anywhere be
found. This state of things is to continue "until He comes to whom is
the judgment; to Him I will give it."

The reference of this passage to Gen. xlix. cannot be mistaken. It was
recognised, indeed, by the ancient translators; only that most of them
erroneously found in it an explanation instead of an allusion.

Instead of the words, "to whom is the judgment," we should, from the
expression used in Gen. xlix. 10, "Until Shiloh cometh," have expected,
"to whom is peace;" but Ezekiel has filled up Gen. xlix. 10 from Ps.
lxxii. 1-5, where judgment and righteousness appear as the basis of the
peace which the Anointed One shall bring. And _peace_ occupies the
background in Ezekiel also. The advent of Him to whom is the judgment,
in contrast with the injustice and wickedness of those who were
hitherto the bearers of the sceptre, puts an end to strife, confusion,
and destruction. That, in like manner, in Gen. xlix., the _judgment_
occupies the background, we see plainly, from the commentary upon that
passage furnished by Ps. lxxii., as well as from Is. ix. and ii. In Ps.
lxxii., peace comes into consideration, only in so far as it is a
product and consequence of justice, which is an attribute of the King,
and is by him [Pg 95] infused into the life of the nation. In vers.
1-50, the thought is: "God gives righteousness to His King, and in
consequence of it, righteousness and the fear of God become indigenous
to the people, and these again bring peace in their train."

Every word in Ezekiel is taken from Gen. xlix. and Ps. lxxii. From the
latter are taken the words, "judgment," and "I will give it." (Compare
Ps. lxxii. 1: "Give the King thy judgments.") The combination of these
two passages points out their close connection, and indicates that Ps.
lxxii. is to be viewed as a comment. _Onkelos_, who thus translates the
passage in Gen. xlix., "Until Messiah comes, to whom the kingdom is
due, and Him the people shall obey," has very properly only
supplemented the declaration of Jacob from Ezekiel, or, at least, has
taken thence the explanation of Shiloh.

But, at the same time, the words אשר לי המשפט, which, on the basis of
Ps. lxxii., Ezekiel puts in the place of שילה, allude to the letters of
the latter word which forms the initials of the words in Ezekiel. That
ש is the main letter in אשר, is shown by the common abbreviation of it
into ש; and that the י in שילה is unessential, is proved by the
circumstance that the name of the place is often written שלה, and that
even in Gen. xlix. 10, a number of manuscripts have this orthography.

"From the allusion to a prophecy so well known, and so frequently used,
the brevity of the prophecy in Ezekiel is to be explained. It forms a
most powerful conclusion and resting-point for the prophetic
discourse." (_Hävernick_.)

There cannot be any doubt that Ezekiel found in Gen. xlix. 10, the
prophecy of a personal Messiah. They, therefore, who assert that no
such prophecy is contained in our passage, must, at the same time,
assert that Ezekiel misunderstood it; yea, even more, that, even as
early as at that period, a false view of that passage was generally
prevalent. For, the manner in which Ezekiel alludes to it presupposes
that, at that time, the view which found in it a personal Messiah was
generally held. If we observe still further, that Ezekiel connected the
allusion to Ps. lxxii. with that to Gen. xlix., we cannot hesitate for
a moment to admit that he understood the name Shiloh to be Rest-maker,
Peace-maker; only, that on the ground of Ps. lxxii., he mentions the
cause instead of the effect. He had, moreover, the stronger reason for
designating the bearer of peace as the bearer of judgment, [Pg 96]
because, in his time, the want of judgment had evidently produced the
absence of peace, and the general confusion, misery, and destruction.

"As in Gen. xlix. the Patriarch sees a light rising at a far distance,
and spreading its brightness over the darkness of centuries, so in
Ezekiel also, the same ray of glorious hope lightens through the dark
night of confusion and unutterable misery in which he sees himself

_Kurtz_, S. 266, has altogether denied the connection of the passage in
Ezekiel with Gen. xlix. These two passages are, as he thinks,
altogether different, inasmuch as Ezekiel announces destruction and
desolation which shall continue until He comes to whom is the judgment,
while Gen. xlix., when understood of a personal Messiah, announces
dominion which shall continue until Shiloh comes. But Ezekiel does not
contradict Gen. xlix. 10. He gives only the supplement necessary for
preventing this passage from being considered as a permission to sin,
and from becoming a support of false security. Ezekiel, too, assumes a
continuation of the dominion. If that were not concealed behind the
destruction, how could "the coming of Him to whom is the judgment" be
pointed out as the limit of that destruction? The tree indeed is cut
down, but the root remains in its full vigour.

When Jacob announces that the sceptre shall not depart until Shiloh,
the prince of peace, cometh, he can thereby mean only that it would not
depart _definitively_; for, otherwise, he would have belied his own
experience. From the way by which the Lord had led him, he had
sufficiently learnt that God's promises to sinful men must be taken
_cum grano salis_; that they never exclude the visitation of the elect
on account of their sins, and that it is only in the end that God will
bring all to a glorious fulfilment. When he went to Mesopotamia, God
had said to him, "I am with thee, and I will keep thee in all places
whither thou goest," Gen. xxviii. 15; and yet the deceit which he had
practised upon his father and brother was recompensed to him there by
the deceit of Laban, and he was obliged to say, "In the day the drought
consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from mine
eyes," Gen. xxxi. 40. When he came from the land of the two rivers, God
blessed him and gave him the honourable name of Israel, Gen. xxxii.;
and yet [Pg 97] he had soon thereafter to experience grievous distress
on account of Dinah and Joseph; and in chap. xxxvii. 34, 35, we are
told concerning him: "And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth
upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and
all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be
comforted, and he said, I shall go down into the grave unto my son in
sorrow." In the kingdom of God there are no other promises than such as
resemble those rivers which flow alternately above and below ground,
since it is certain that all the subjects of the promises are affected
by sin.

Ezekiel xliii. 15 likewise refers to the blessing of Jacob upon Judah.
The altar for the burnt-offerings in the new temple is first called
_Harel_ = the mountain of God, and afterwards _Ariel_ = the Lion of
God,--indicating that what had been promised to Judah in Gen. xlix.,
viz., the Lion's nature and invincible power, victorious over all
enemies, has its root in the altar,--in the circumstance that the
people of God are a people whose sins are forgiven, who dedicate
themselves to God, and give Him thanks and praise.

A very remarkable reference to Gen. xlix. meets us at the very
threshold of the New Testament. In Luke ii. 13, 14, the heavenly host
praise God, saying: "Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth
peace." The words, "glory" or "praise be to God," are an allusion to
Judah, and to the glorious things foretold in Gen. xlix. of him who
centres in Christ. Christ is the true Judah,--He by whom God is
glorified, John xiv. 13. The words, "on earth peace," contain the
explanation of the name Shiloh, the first name under which the Saviour
is celebrated in the Old Testament.

As the words with which the Saviour is first introduced into the world
allude to Gen. xlix., so the Lord Himself, before His departure,
alludes to this fundamental Messianic prophecy in John xiv. 27: "Peace
I leave with you. My peace I give unto you;" and in xvi. 33: "These
things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace." So
also, after His resurrection, Christ says, in the circle of His
disciples, "Peace be unto you," John xx. 19, 21, 26.

The last book of the entire Holy Scripture--the Apocalypse [Pg
98]--likewise points back to the remarkable prophecy of Christ at the
close of its first book. In Rev. v. 5, we read: "And one of the elders
saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the
Root of David, hath prevailed." "The designation of Christ as the Lion
of the tribe of Judah, rests on Gen. xlix. 9. Judah appears there as a
lion, in order to denote his warlike and victorious powers. But Judah
himself, according to the blessing of dying Jacob, is at some future
period to centre in the Messiah. As a type, he had formerly centred
already in David, in whom the lion-nature of the tribe of Judah was
manifested." This allusion shows that even what Is said in vers. 8, 9,
found its complete fulfilment only in Christ, and that vers. 8, 9, are
parallel to the entire ver. 10, and not to its first half only.

_Bengel_ remarks on Rev. v. 6: "The elder had pointed John to a Lion,
and yet John beheld a Lamb. The Lord Jesus is called a Lion only once
in this prophecy, and that, at the very beginning, before the
appellation Lamb appears. This indicates that as often as the Lamb is
remembered, we should also remember Him as the Lion of the tribe of

As the designation of Christ as the Lion refers to what, in the
blessing of Jacob, is said of the lion-nature of the tribe of Judah,
so, in the "Lamb"--the emblem of innocence, justice, silent patience
and gentleness--the name Shiloh is embodied.

Footnote 1: _Luther_ says: "No doubt the sons of Jacob will have waited
with anxious desire, and with weeping and groaning, for what their
father had yet to say; for, after having heard curses so hard and
severe, they were very much confounded and afraid. And Judah, too, will
certainly not have been able to refrain from weeping, and will have
been afraid, when thinking of what should now become of him. There will
have arisen in his heart very sad recollections of his sins, of his
whoredom with Thamar, and of the advice which he had given to sell
Joseph. Certainly, I should have died with sorrow and tears. But there
soon follow a fine dew and a lovely balm, refreshing the heart again."

Footnote 2: _Bochart_ says: "When the whelp of a lion is weaned, and
begins to go out for prey, and to seek his own food without the help of
his mother, he then ceases to be a גור, and is called a כפיר." Deut.
xxxiii. 22 must, therefore, not be translated, "Dan is a lion's whelp
leaping from Bashan"--as if the גור אריה were already active--but thus,
"Dan is a lion's whelp; he shall leap (_i.e._, after he shall have
grown up) from Bashan." Dan is in that place styled a lion's whelp,
just as is Judah in Gen. xlix. 9, because, as yet, he is only a
candidate for future victories.

Footnote 3: The LXX. translate, ἐκ βλαστοῦ υἱέ μου ἀνέβης, "from a shoot,
my son, thou hast grown up." They explain טרף by an inappropriate
reference to Ezek. xvii. 9, where it is used of a fresh green leaf.

Footnote 4: Calvin says: "This dignity is bestowed upon Judah only with
a view to benefit the whole of the people."

Footnote 5: In the first edition of this work, the author had likewise
maintained that view.

Footnote 6: It was this difficulty which led _Grotius_ to adopt the
feeble exposition, "That teachers out of Judah's posterity would lead
the people until the times of the Messiah, who would be the highest
leader and commander of Jews and Gentiles."

Footnote 7: Calvin says: "If any one should object, that the words of
Jacob convey a different meaning, we would answer him, that whatever
promises God gave concerning the outward condition of the Church, they
were so far limited that God might, in the meantime, exercise His
judgments in the punishment of men's sins, and prove the faith of His
people. And indeed it was not a light trial when, at the third
succession, the tribe of Judah was deprived of the greater part of his
territory. A more severe one followed when, before the eyes of the
father, the sons of the king were slain, his own eyes put out, and
himself was carried to Babylon, and given over to servitude and exile
along with the whole royal family. But the heaviest trial of all came,
when the people returned to their land, and were so far from seeing
their expectations fulfilled, that they were, on the contrary,
subjected to a sad dispersion. But even then, the saints beheld with
the eye of faith the sceptre hidden under ground; neither did their
hearts fail, nor their courage give way, so that they desisted not from
continuing their course."

Footnote 8: Many expositors, following the LXX. (ἐκ τῶν μηρῶν αὐτοῦ),
the _Vulgate_ (_de femore ejus_), and the Chaldee Paraphrast,
understand this expression as a designation of origin and production.
But in that case, we must assume a very hard ellipsis, viz., "he who is
to proceed." Moreover, this explanation is destructive of the
parallelism, according to which, "from between his feet" must
correspond with "from Judah."

Footnote 9: The signification, "expectation," given to this word by the
LXX. (καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν), _Jerome_, and other translators, is
founded upon the erroneous derivation of the word from קוה. In the
other passage (Prov. xxx. 17), where the LXX. translate, "the age of
his mother," they have confounded the root יקה with קהה, "to be

Footnote 10: _Gousset_ says: The word can signify something good only,
on account of the passage, Prov. xxx. 17, namely, something which
adorns the relation of the son to his mother, the despising of which is
a crime on the part of the son, and which deserves that he should be
sent εἰς κόρακας. And not less so from its being used in Gen. xlix. 10
in reference to the Shiloh, where, thereby, not one or a few, but all
the nations without exception, are bound to Him by a tie similar to
that which exists betwixt mother and son.

Footnote 11: Thus Luther says: "This sceptre of Judah shall continue,
and shall not be taken from him, till the hero come; but when He comes,
then the sceptre also shall depart. The kingdom or sceptre has fallen;
the Jews are scattered throughout the whole world, and, therefore, the
Messiah has certainly come; for, at His appearing, the sceptre should
be taken from Judah."

Footnote 12: In the volume containing the _Dissertations on the
Genuineness of Daniel_, _etc._ Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark.

Footnote 13: _Delitzsch_ (who had formerly been a defender of the
explanation of a personal Messiah) differs, in his Commentary on
Genesis, from this view, only in so far, that he supposes that, while
Judah's dominion over the tribes comes to an end in Shiloh, his
dominion over the nations dates from that period. But this explanation
must be objected to on the ground, that the dominion bestowed upon
Judah is not merely a dominion over the tribes, but over the world.

Footnote 14: _Knobel_ knows of no other expedient by which to escape
from the force of this argument, than by changing the punctuation. He
proposes to read שֶׁלֶה, a word which nowhere occurs.

Footnote 15: The rationalistic objection, that at so great an age, and
on the brink of the grave, man is not wont to compose poems, may be
refuted by a reference to the history of the ancient Arabic poetry.
The Arabic poets before the time of Mohammed often recited long
poems extempore,--so natural to them was poetry. (Compare _Tharaphæ
Moallakah_, ed. _Reiske_, p. xl.; _Antaræ Moallakah_, ed. _Menil._ p.
18.) The poet _Lebid_, who attained to the age of 157 years (compare
_Reiske prolegg. ad Thar. Moall._ p. xxx.; _De Sacy_, _Memoires de
l'Academie des inscriptions_, p. 403 ff.), composed a poem when he was
dying; compare _Herbelot Bibl. Or._ p. 513. The poet _Hareth_ was
135 years old when he recited extempore his _Moallakah_, which is
still extant; compare _Reiske_ l.c. The objection, too, that it is
inconceivable how the blessing spoken by Jacob could have been handed
down _verbatim_ to Moses, finds its best refutation in the history of
Arabic poetry. The art of writing was introduced among the Arabs only a
short time before Mohammed. (Compare _de Sacy_ l.c. pp. 306, 348;
_Amrulkeisi Moall._ ed. _Hengstenberg_, p. 3.) Up to that time, even
the longest poems, of which some consisted of more than a hundred
verses, were preserved by mere oral tradition (compare _Nuweiri_ in
_Rosenmüller_, _Zoheiri Moall._ p. 11); and the internal condition of
those which have been preserved to us bears the best testimony to their
having been faithfully handed down. But in the case before us,
something altogether different from a poem was concerned.

Footnote 16: _Onkelos_ paraphrases these words very correctly, thus:
"Hear, O Lord, the prayers of Judah when he goes out to war, and bring
him safely back to his people."

Footnote 17: It is probable also, that in the passage, Josh. xvi. 6,
where Shiloh occurs for the first time as the name of a place, and
which we have already discussed, there is not, as we assumed, a
connection of the former name with the latter, but the complete
appellation, of which the latter--Shiloh--is only an abbreviation. From
the well ascertained and common signification of the verb אנה, we are
entitled to explain Taanath-Shiloh: "the futurity, or the appearance of
Shiloh." Shiloh shall come! Such was the watchword at that time. The
word תאנה would then correspond to the יבא of the fundamental passage.

Footnote 18: That there exists a connection between Shiloh and Solomon
has often been guessed at and expressed; but expositors have not
succeeded well in determining it more closely. The Samarit. Arab.
Translation here says expressly: "Until Solomon cometh." (Comp. _Lib.
Genes. sec. Arab. Pent._ _Samarit. vers. ed. Kuenen_. _Leyden_, 51.)

Footnote 19: _Kimchi_ says: "As long as the Jews were doing the will of
God, they could lie down like the lion without fear."

                           BALAAM'S PROPHECY.
                          (Numb. xxiv. 17-19.)

Carried by the Spirit into the far distant future, Balaam sees here how
a star goeth out of Jacob and a sceptre riseth out of Israel, and how
this sceptre smiteth Moab, by whose enmity the Seer had been brought
from a distant region for the destruction of Israel. And not Moab only
shall be smitten, but its southern neighbour, Edom, too shall be
subdued, whose hatred against Israel had already been prefigured in its
ancestor, and had now begun to display Itself; and In general, all the
enemies of the [Pg 99] people of God shall be cast down to the ground
by the Ruler out of Jacob.

Ver. 17. "_I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh. A star
goeth out of Jacob, and a sceptre riseth out of Israel, and smiteth
the borders of Moab, and destroyeth all the sons of the tumult._
Ver. 18. _And Edom shall be a possession, and Seir shall be a
possession--his enemies, and Israel acquireth might._ Ver. 19. _And a
Ruler shall come out of Jacob, and destroyeth what remaineth out of
the city._"

The star is, in Scripture, the symbol of the splendour of power. The
sceptre leads us back to Gen. xlix. 10; and, in general, the
announcements of Balaam have, throughout, the promises and hopes of the
Patriarchs for their foundation. As in the fundamental passage, so here
also, the sceptre, the symbol of dominion, stands for dominion itself.
The substance of the two figurative expressions is briefly stated in
ver. 19, in the words, "They shall rule out of Jacob," which are
tantamount to, "A Ruler shall come out of Jacob."

A difference of opinion exists regarding the glorious King who is here
announced. From the earliest times, the Jews understood thereby the
Messiah, either exclusively, or, at least, principally, so as to
admit of a secondary reference to David. _Onkelos_ translates: "When a
King shall rise out of Jacob, and out of Israel Messiah shall be
anointed;"--_Jonathan_: "When a valiant King shall rise out of the
house of Jacob, and out of Israel, Messiah, and a strong Sceptre shall
be anointed." The Book of Sohar remarks on the words, "I see him, but
now:" "This was in part fulfilled at that time; it will be completely
fulfilled in the days of Messiah." (Compare the passages in _Jos. de_
_Voisin_, in the _Prooem._ on _R. Martini Pugio fid._ p. 68; _R.
Martini_ iii. 3, c. 11; _Schöttgen_, "_Jesus Messias_," S. 151.) How
widely this opinion was spread among the Jews, is sufficiently apparent
from the circumstance, that the renowned pseudo-Messiah in the time of
Hadrian adopted, with reference to the passage under review, the
surname _Barcochba_, _i.e._, Son of the Star.--From the Jews, this
interpretation very soon passed over to the Christians, who rightly
found a warrant for it in the narrative of the star of the wise
men from the East. _Cyril_ of Jerusalem defended the Messianic
interpretation against _Julian_. (Compare _Julian_, ed. _Spanh._
p. 263 c. See other passages [Pg 100] from the fathers of the
Church in _Calov._) According to _Theodoret_ (Quest. 44 in Numb.),
there were, indeed, some to whom "Balaam appeared to have foretold
nothing concerning our Saviour;" but this opinion was rejected as
profane. The Messianic interpretation has, in a narrower and wider
sense--_i.e._, as referring in the first instance to David, but in the
highest and proper sense to Christ--become the prevailing one in the
Evangelical Church also. It was defended even by such interpreters as
_Calvin_ and _Clericus_, who, as to other passages, differed from the
prevailing Messianic interpretation. (Compare especially _Mieg_, _de
Stella et Sceptro Baleamitico_ in the _Thes. Nov._ p. 423 sqq., and
_Boullier_, _Dissert. Syll. Amsterdam_ 1750, _Diss._ I.) On the other
hand, the Messianic interpretation found a zealous and ingenious
opponent, first in _Verschnir_ in the _Bibl. Brem. nova_, reprinted
in his _Opusc._ He was joined by the rationalistic interpreters, who
maintained an exclusive reference to David. But _Rosenmüller_ and
_Baumgarten-Crusius_ (bibl. Theol. S. 369) returned to the Messianic

The question at issue is chiefly this:--Whether by the star and sceptre
some single Israelitish king is designated, or rather, an ideal
person--the personified Israelitish kingdom. The latter view I proved,
in my work on Balaam, to be the correct one, for the following
reasons:--1. The reference to a certain Israelitish king is against the
analogy of the other prophecies of the Pentateuch. A single person,
especially a single king of future time, is nowhere announced in
it,--except the Messiah, whose announcement, however, is different from
that of David. But, on the other hand, the rise of the _kingdom_ in
Israel is announced as early as in the promise to the Patriarchs, on
which all of Balaam's declarations rest throughout. It is only to this
that the words, "A star goeth out of Jacob, and a sceptre riseth out of
Israel," can refer,--according to the analogy of Gen. xvii. 6: "Kings
shall come out of thee;" ver. 16: "And she shall become nations,
_kings_ of people shall be of her;" and xxxv. 11: "Kings shall come out
of thy loins." 2. The reference to a single king would be against the
_analogy_ of _Balaam's_ prophecies, inasmuch as these nowhere refer to
a single individual. 3. The _sceptre_ does not, in itself, lead us to
think of an individual, since it does not designate a ruler, but
dominion in general. But that which especially militates against the
reference [Pg 101] to an individual is the comparison with the
fundamental passage, Gen. xlix. 10, in which Judah, and in him all
Israel, does not receive the promise of a single king, but of the
kingdom which shall at last be consummated in the Shiloh. 4. In favour
of this general interpretation is also ver. 19, in which the words,
"And dominion shall come out of Jacob," or literally, "They shall rule
out of Jacob," may be considered as just a commentary on the words, "A
sceptre riseth out of Israel." So also is ver. 7, "More elevated than
Agag be his king," where the king of Israel is an _ideal_ person--the
personification of the kingdom. Agag, _i.e._, the fiery one, is not a
proper name, but a surname of all Amalekite kings. The Amalekite
kingdom--which here represents the world's power, opposed to the
kingdom of God, because at the time of the Seer the Amalekites were the
most powerful among the people who were hostile to Israel (compare ver.
20, where they are called the _beginning_ of the heathen nations,
_i.e._, the most powerful of them)--is here put in opposition to the
Israelitish kingdom, and the  latter will show itself superior to all
worldly power.

The arguments which thus prove the reference of Balaam's prophecy to
an Israelitish kingdom, disprove also, not only the exclusive reference
to David, but also the exclusive reference to Christ; although they
imply at the same time that the prophecy, in its final reference, has
Christ for its subject. The Israelitish kingdom, indeed, attained to
the full height of its destiny only in and with the Messiah; without
the Messiah, the Israelitish kingdom is a trunk without a head. The
prophecy thus centres in Christ. We are, however, not entitled to
suppose that the prophet himself was not aware of this; on the
contrary, we cannot but assume that Balaam must have known it. It is
with intention that he does not speak of a plurality of Israelitish
kings. The Israelitish kingdom, on the contrary, appears to him in the
from of an _ideal_ king, because he knows that, at some period, it will
find Its full realization in the person of one king. For the same
reason, Moses also describes the prophetic order, in the first
instance, as an _ideal_ prophet. That Balaam knew that the Israelitish
kingdom would centre in the Messiah, is shown by the reference which
his prophecy has to that of dying Jacob, in Gen. xlix. 10, from which
the figure of the sceptre is borrowed. According to the latter passage,
the whole dignity of Judah as [Pg 102] ruler and lord over the whole
heathen world is to centre in one elevated individual--the Shiloh. As
to the letter, Balaam's prophecy falls short of the prophecy to which
it refers, and on which it is founded, in two points. Instead of Judah,
it mentions Israel; and instead of the invincible kingdom which is at
last to centre in the Messiah, it represents the invincible kingdom
only in general. But in both cases, this generality is easily accounted
for by the _external_ direction of Balaam's prophecy: a more definite
tendency was of importance only for those who were _within_. We are
fully entitled to suppose that Balaam himself knew what was contained
in the fundamental passage. To the same result we are led by the
contents of the prophecy itself. Balaam here brings into view an
Israelitish kingdom, all-powerful on earth, and raised absolutely above
the world's power. He does not stop with the victory over Moab and
Edom--even this victory appears to him as an absolute and lasting one,
and hence, essentially different from the temporary submission to
David--but, from the particular, which only serves to exemplify the
idea in reference to the historical relations existing at the present,
he passes on, in ver. 19, to the general, the total overthrow of the
whole hostile world's power. Indeed, such a progress is probably found
even in ver. 17 itself. If at the close of it we read, "And destroyeth
all the sons of the tumult," the word _all_, which is wanting in Jer.
xlviii. 45, indicates that by the sons of the tumult we are to
understand not only the Moabites, but the whole _species_ to which they
belonged, the whole heathen world, whose nature is restlessness, desire
for strife, and the spirit of conquest,--the opposites of meekness and
gentleness, which are the virtues characteristic of the subjects of the
kingdom of God. In ver. 18, the particular is likewise followed by the
general. But while ver. 17 and 18 contain, in each of the two
particular features, a previous short allusion to the general, ver. 19
most expressly and intentionally reduces the particular to the general.
The absolute elevation above the world's power, attributed by Balaam to
the Israelitish kingdom, leads not only beyond the idea of a single
king of the ordinary stamp, but also beyond that of the entire ordinary

The objections urged against the Messianic interpretation are based
either on a misunderstanding, or upon a superficial view of the
passage. They who maintain that the judging activity of [Pg 103] the
Messiah is here brought forward in a manner too one-sided, forget that
this part only could here be treated of. As Balaam's discourse
formed the answer to Balak's message--"Come, curse me this people;
peradventure we shall prevail to smite them and drive them out of the
land,"--its natural subject was: _Israel's position towards their
enemies_; and Balaam had expressly stated, in ver. 14, that he would
treat of that subject. Balaam had to do with an enemy of Israel, and
his chief aim was to represent to him the vanity of all his hostile
efforts. The partial view arises, therefore, from the nature of the
case; and only _in that case_ could doubts arise as to the ultimate
reference to the Messiah, if the other view were altogether _denied_.
But such is by no means the case; for the words in ver. 9, "Blessed is
he that blesseth thee," distinctly point it out. They who object to the
Messianic interpretation on the ground that, at the time of Christ, the
Moabites had disappeared from the stage of history, overlook the
circumstance, that the Moabites here, as well as in Is. xi., where the
complete destruction of Moab is likewise assigned to the times of the
Messiah, are viewed only in their character as enemies to the
congregation of God. If the prophecy were fulfilled upon the Moabites,
even at the time when they still existed as a nation, not as Moabites,
but as the enemies of the people of God; then the limit of their
national existence cannot be the limit of the fulfilment of the
prophecy. A case quite analogous is found in Mic. v. 4, 5, where the
prophet characterizes the enemies of the kingdom of God at the time of
the Messiah by the name of Asshur, although it appears, from other
passages, that he distinctly knew that Asshur must, long ere that time,
have disappeared from the scene of history.

The Messianic character of the prophecy being thus established, it will
be impossible to misunderstand the internal relation between the star
of Balaam and the star of the wise men from the East. The star of
Balaam is the emblem of the kingdom which will rise in Israel. The star
of the Magi is the symbol of the Ruler in whom the kingly power appears
concentrated. The appearance of the star embodying the image of the
prophet, indicates that the last and highest fulfilment of his
prophecies is now to take place.

[Pg 104]

                     MOSES' PROMISE OF THE PROPHET.
                          (Deut. xviii. 15-19.)

Ver. 15. "_A prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like
unto me, Jehovah thy God will raise up: unto him ye shall hearken._
Ver. 16. _According to all that thou desiredst of Jehovah thy God in
Horeb, in the day of the assembly, when thou didst say, I will not hear
any farther the voice of Jehovah my God, and will not see this great
fire any more, that I die not._ Ver. 17. _Then Jehovah said unto me.
They have well spoken._ Ver. 18. _A prophet I will raise them up from
among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put My words into his
mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him._ Ver.
19. _And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My
words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him._"

If we leave out of view the unfortunate attempts of those who would
understand by the prophet here promised, either Joshua--as is done
by _Abenezra_, _Bechai_, and _von Ammon_ (_Christol_. S. 29)--or
Jeremiah--as is the case in _Baal Hatturim_ and _Jalkut_ out of the
book _Pesikta_, and in _Abarbanel_--we may reduce the expositions of
this passage to three classes. 1. Several consider the "prophet"
as a collective noun, and understand thereby the prophets of all
times. Such was the opinion of _Origen_ (_c. Celsum_ i. 9, § 5,
_Mosh._), of the Arabic translator, and of most of the modern Jewish
interpreters,--especially _Kimchi_, _Alshech_, and _Lipman_ (_Nizachon_
137); while _Abenezra_ and _Bechai_ conjoin this view with that
according to which Jeremiah is meant. Among recent expositors, it is
defended by _Rosenmüller_, _Vater_, _Baumgarten-Crusius_ (_Bibl.
Theol._ S. 369), and others. 2. Some see in it an exclusive reference
to Christ,--a view which has been held by most interpreters in the
Christian Church, and from the earliest times. It is found as early as
in _Justin Martyr_, _Tertullian_, _Athanasius_, _Eusebius_ (_Demonstr._
iii. 2, ix. 11), _Lactantius_ (iv. 17), _Augustine_ (_c. Faustum_, xvi.
c. 15, 18, 19), and _Isidore_ of _Pelusium_ (c. iii. ep. 49). It was
held by _Luther_ (t. 3. _Jen. Lat._ f. 123), became the prevailing one
in the Lutheran Church, and was [Pg 105] approved of by most of the
Reformed interpreters. Among its earliest defenders, the most eminent
are _Deyling_ (_Misc._ ii. 175), _Frischmuth_ (in the _Thesaurus
theol.-philol._ i. 354), and _Hasaeus_ (in the _Thes. theol.-philol._
nov. i. S. 439.) In recent times it has been defended by _Pareau_ (in
the _Inst. interpr. V. T._ p. 506), by _Knapp_ (_Dogm._ ii. 138). 3.
Others have steered a middle course, inasmuch as they consider the
"prophet" to be a collective noun, but, at the same time, maintain that
only by the mission of Christ, in whom the idea of the prophetic order
was perfectly realized, the promise was completely fulfilled. Thus did
_Nicolaus de Lyra_, _Calvin_, several Roman Catholic interpreters,
_Grotius_, _Clericus_, and others.

In favour of the Messianic interpretation, the authority of tradition
has been, first of all, appealed to. It is true that modern Jewish
interpreters differ from it; but this has been the result of polemical
considerations alone. It can be satisfactorily proved that the
Messianic interpretation was the prevailing one among the older Jews. 1
Mac. xiv. 41--"Also that the Jews and priests resolved that Simon
should be commander and high priest for ever, until a _credible
prophet_ should arise,"--has been frequently appealed to in proof of
this, but erroneously. For, that by the "credible prophet," _i.e._, one
sufficiently attested by miracles or fulfilled prophecies, we are not
to understand the prophet promised by Moses (as was done by Luther, and
many older expositors who followed him), is shown, partly by the
absence of the article, and partly by the circumstance that a
_credible_ prophet is spoken of. The sense is rather this: Simon and
his family should continue to hold the highest dignity until God
Himself should make another arrangement by a future prophet, as there
was none at that time (comp. Ps. lxxiv. 9: "There is no more any
prophet"), and thus put an end to a state of things which, on the one
hand, was in contradiction to the law, and, on the other, to the
promise,--a state of things unto which they had been led by the force
of circumstances, and which could, at all events, be only a provisional
one. (Compare _J. D. Michaelis_ on that passage.) It is not on the
passage under review that the expectation of a prophet there rests, but
rather on Mal. iii. 1, 23, where a prophet is promised as the precursor
of the Messiah. But the New Testament furnishes sufficient materials
for proving the [Pg 106] Messianic interpretation. The very manner in
which Peter and Stephen quote this passage shows that the Messianic
interpretation was, at that time, the prevailing one. They do not deem
it at all necessary to prove it; they proceed on the supposition of its
being universally acknowledged. It was, no doubt, chiefly our passage
which Philip had in view when, in John i. 46, he said to Nathanael: ὃν
ἔγραψε Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ εὑρήκαμεν, Ἰησοῦν. For, besides the passage
under consideration, there is only one other personal Messianic
prophecy in the Pentateuch, namely, Gen. xlix. 10; and the marks of the
Shiloh did not so distinctly appear in Jesus, as did those of the
Prophet. The mention of the person of Moses[1] (which in Gen. xlix. 10
is less concerned), and of the law, clearly point to the passage under
review. After the feeding of the five thousand, the people say, in John
vi. 14: Ὅτι οὗτος ἐστιν ἀληθῶς ὁ προφήτης, ὁ ἐρχόμενος εἰς τὸν κόσμον.
The Messianic interpretation was, accordingly, not peculiar to a few
learned men, but to the whole people. Even with the Samaritans the
Messianic explanation was the prevailing one,--based, no doubt, upon
the tradition which had come to them from the Jews. The Samaritan woman
says, in John iv. 25: οἶδα ὅτι Μεσσίας ἔρχεται, ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός· ὅταν
ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, ἀναγγελεῖ ἡμῖν πάντα. Now, as the Samaritans acknowledged
only the Pentateuch, there is no other passage than that under review
from which the idea of the Messiah as a divinely enlightened teacher,
which is here expressed, could have been derived. The last words agree
in a remarkable manner with Deut. xviii. 18: "And he shall speak unto
them all that I shall command him." That too great weight, however,
must not be attached to tradition, is shown by John i. 21, and vii. 40,
41; for these passages clearly prove that there were also many who
thought it possible that Deut. xviii. contained not only the
announcement of the Messiah, but of some distinguished prophet also,
besides Him, who should be His precursor or companion. At the same
time, we must not overlook the circumstance that, in both passages, the
people are at a loss, and are thereby induced to deviate from the
prevailing [Pg 107] opinion. Their uncertainty and wavering, however,
is only about the person. In this they agree, notwithstanding, that in
Deut. xviii. they find the announcement of one distinguished person.

But the Messianic interpretation may appeal, with still greater
confidence, to the direct evidence of the New Testament. The
declaration of the Lord in John v. 45-47 is here to be noticed above
all: Μὴ δοκεῖτε ὅτι ἐγὼ κατηγορήσω ὑμῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα· ἔστιν ὁ
κατηγορῶν ὑμῶν, Μωϋσῆς, εἰς ὃν ὑμεῖς ἠλπίκατε. Εἰ γὰρ ἐπιστεύετε Μωϋσῇ,
ἐπιστεύετε ἂν ἐμοί· περὶ γὰρ ἐμοῦ ἐκεῖνος ἔγραψεν. Εἰ δὲ τοῖς ἐκείνου
γράμμασιν οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς τοῖς ἐμοῖς ῥήμασι πιστεύσετε;--It is clear
that the Lord must here have had in view a distinct passage of the
Pentateuch,--a clear and definite declaration of Moses. Dexterous
explanations (_Bengel_: _Nunquam non_; _Tholuck_: The prophetical and
typical element implied in the whole form of worship) are of no
apologetic value, and it is not possible summarily, on such grounds, to
call the enemies before the judgment-seat of God. It was not enough to
allude, in a way so general, to what could not be at once perceptible;
greater distinctness and particularity would have been required. But if
a single declaration--a direct Messianic prophecy--form the question at
issue, our passage only can be meant; for it is the only prophecy of
Christ which Moses, on whose person great stress is laid, uttered in
his own name. Moreover, Christ would more readily expect that the Jews
would acknowledge our prophecy to be fulfilled in Him, than the
prophecy in Gen. xlix., which refers rather to the Messiah in glory.
The preceding words of Jesus likewise contain references to the passage
now under consideration. Ver. 38--"And ye have not His word abiding in
you; for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not,"--contains an allusion
to Deut. xviii. 18: "And I will put My words into his mouth, and
he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him;" so that
whosoever rejects the Ambassador of God, rejects His word at the
same time. John v. 43--"I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive
Me not,"--acquires both its significance and earnestness from its
reference to ver. 19 of our passage: "Whosoever will not hearken unto
My words, which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him."
_Further_,--The point at issue in this discourse of Christ is an
accusation of the Jews against Christ, [Pg 108] that He had violated
the Mosaic law. (Compare John v. 10-16, and v. 18, which states the
second apparent violation of the law.) It was thus highly appropriate
that Jesus should throw back upon the Jews the charge which they
brought against Him, and should prove to them that it was just they who
were in fatal opposition to the enactments of the Mosaic law.
_Finally_,--It is this same Moses in whom they trusted, whom they
considered as their patron, and whom to please the more, they were so
zealous for his law against Jesus,--it is this same Moses whom Jesus
represents as their accuser. And he is such an accuser as renders every
other superfluous, so that Christ did not need specially to come
forward in such a character. The accusation of Moses must, then,
according to this declaration, and in accordance with what follows,
refer to the cause of Christ. But the passage under review is
the only Messianic prophecy of a _threatening character_ which the
Pentateuch contains,--the only one in which divine judgments are
threatened to the despisers of the Messiah,--the only Mosaic foundation
for the denunciation: "Woe to the people that despiseth thee." If it be
denied that Christ refers to it,--if its Messianic character be not
acknowledged, the first words of Christ are destitute of foundation.
But if it be thus undeniable that Christ declared Himself to be the
prophet of our passage, it must be considered an indirect attack upon
His divinity to say, as _Dr Lücke_ does, that Christ did so by way of
"adaptation to the interpretation of that time." It is just this appeal
which forms the pith of Christ's discourse; it is the real death-blow
inflicted by Him upon His adversaries. If this blow was a mere feint,
His honour is endangered,--which may God forbid!--The Lord further
marks Himself out as the prophet announced by Moses, and that, too, in
a very distinct manner, in John xii. 48-50,--a passage which is
evidently based upon vers. 18 and 19 of the text under review. (Compare
John xiv. 24-31.)--To this we may add, further, that, according to St
Luke xxiv. 44, the Lord Himself explains to His disciples the
prophecies in the Pentateuch concerning Him; and we cannot well expect
that Christ should have made no reference to a passage which one of the
Apostles points out as being of greater weight than all others. This is
done by Peter in Acts iii. 22, 23. The manner in which he quotes it,
entirely excludes the notion that Moses was [Pg 109] speaking of
Christ, only in so far as He belonged to the collective body of the
prophets. Peter says expressly, that Moses and the later prophets
foretold τὰς ἡμέρας ταύτας; and the words, τοῦ προφήτου ἐκείνου, show
that he did not understand the singular in a collective sense. The
circumstance that Stephen, in Acts vii. 37, likewise refers the passage
to Christ, would not be, in itself, conclusive, because Stephen's case
is different from that of the Apostles. But we must not overlook the
passage Matt. xvii. 5, according to which, at Christ's transfiguration,
a voice was heard from heaven which said: οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ
ἀγαπητὸς, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα· αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε. As the first part of this
declaration is taken from the Messianic prediction in Is. xlii., so is
the second from the passage under consideration; and, by this use of
its words, the sense is clearly shown. It is a very significant fact,
that our passage is thus connected just with Is. xlii.--the first
prophetic announcement in which it is specially resumed, and in which
the prophetic order itself is the proclaimer of _the_ Prophet. And it
is not less significant that this reference to our text, with which all
the other announcements by Isaiah concerning the Great Prophet to come
are so immediately connected, should precede chapters xlix., l., and
lxi. It thus serves as a commentary upon the declaration of Moses. The
beginning and the outlines receive light from the progress and

He, however, who believes in Christ, will, after these details, expect
that internal reasons also should prove the reference to Christ; and
this expectation is fully confirmed.

That Moses did not intend by the word נביא "prophet," to designate a
collective body merely, but that he had at least some special
individual in view, appears, partly, from the word itself being
constantly in the singular, and, partly, from the constant use of the
singular suffixes in reference to it; while, in the case of collective
nouns, it is usual to interchange the singular with the plural. The
force of this argument is abundantly evident in the fact, that not a
few of even non-Messianic interpreters have been thereby compelled to
make some single individual the subject of this prophecy. But we must
hesitate the more to adopt the opinion that נביא stands here simply in
the singular instead of the plural, because neither does this word
anywhere else occur as a collective noun, nor is the prophetic order
ever [Pg 110] spoken of in the manner alleged. The expectation of a
Messiah was already at that time current among the people. In what way,
then, could they understand a promise, in which one individual only was
spoken of, except by referring it, at least chiefly, to the one whom
they expected?--_Hofmann_ (_Weissagung und Erfüllung_ i. S. 253)
objects that the prophet here spoken of was, in no respect, different
from the _king_ in Deut. xvii. 14-20. But the king mentioned there is
no collective noun. An individual who, in future times, should first
attain to royal dignity, forms there the subject throughout. This
appears especially from ver. 20, where he and his _sons_ are spoken of.
The first king is held up as an example, to show in him what was
applicable to the royal dignity in general. On the other hand, it is in
favour of our view, that, in the verses immediately preceding (vers.
8-13), the priests are, at first, spoken of only in the plural,
although the priestly order had much more of the character of a
collective body than the prophetic order.

A comparison between this prophecy and that of the Shiloh in Gen. xlix.
10 is likewise in favour of the Messianic interpretation. Even there.
His prophetic office is alluded to in the kingly office. The ruler out
of Judah is the Peaceful One, to whom the nations yield a spontaneous
obedience, an obedience flowing from a pious source,--and He rules not
by compulsion, but by the word.

The prophet is moreover contrasted with a single individual--with
Moses; and this compels us to refer the prophecy to some distinguished
individual. In ver. 15, Moses promises to the people a prophet _like
unto himself_; and thus also does the Lord say, in ver. 18: "A prophet
_like unto thee_ I will raise up." We cannot for a moment suppose that
this likeness should refer to the prophetic calling only,--to the
words: "I will put My words into his mouth, and he shall speak unto
them all that I shall command him." It must at the same time be implied
in it, that the future prophet shall be as thoroughly competent for his
work, as Moses was for that which was committed to him. If it were not
so, the promise would be deficient in that consolatory and elevating
character which, according to the context, it is evidently intended to
possess. If we were to paraphrase thus, "The Lord will raise up a
prophet, inferior, indeed, to myself, [Pg 111] but yet the bearer of
divine revelations," we should at once perceive how unsuitable it were.
_Further_,--It is quite evident that the "Prophet" here is the main
instrument of divine agency among the Covenant-people of the
future,--that He is the real support and anchor of the kingdom of God.
But now the difficulties of the future were, as Moses himself saw, so
great, that gifts in any way short of those of Moses would by no means
have been sufficient. Moses foresees that the spirit of apostasy,
which, even in his time, began to manifest itself, would, in future
times, increase to a fearful extent. (Compare especially Deut. xxxii.)
Against this, ordinary gifts and powers would be of no avail. A
successful and enduring reaction could be brought about only by one who
should be, for the more difficult circumstances of the future, such as
Moses was for his times. But--and this circumstance is of still greater
weight--it forms the task of the future to translate the whole heathen
world into the kingdom of God. In it, Japheth is to dwell in the tents
of Shem; all the nations of the earth are to become partakers in the
blessing resting on Abraham. In the view of such a task, a prophet of
ordinary dimensions, as well as the collective body of such, would
dwindle down to the appearance of a dwarf. They would have been less
than Moses. In Deut. xxxiv. 10, it is said, "There arose not a prophet
since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face;"--a
passage which not only plainly refers to the experience acquired at
that time, but which expresses also what might be expected of that
portion of the future which was more immediately at hand. When Miriam
and Aaron said, "Doth the Lord indeed speak only by Moses, doth He
not speak by us also?" the Lord immediately, Num. xii. 6-8, reproves
their presumption of thinking themselves _like unto Moses_, as
respects the prophetical gift, in these words: "If some one be your
prophet,"--_i.e._, if some one be a prophet according to your way,
with prophets of your class,--"I, the Lord, make myself known unto him
in a vision, in a dream I speak unto him. Not so my servant Moses; in
all My house he is faithful. Mouth to mouth I speak to him, and face to
face, and not in dark speeches; and the appearance of the Lord he
beholds." Moses, as a prophet, is here contrasted with the whole order
of prophets of ordinary gifts. A higher dignity among them is claimed
for him on the ground that not some special mission, [Pg 112] but the
care of the whole economy of the Old Testament, was entrusted to him;
compare Heb. iii. 5. His is a specially close relation to the Lord, a
specially high degree of illumination. The collective body of ordinary
prophets cannot, therefore, by any possibility be the "prophet" who is
_like unto Moses_, as completely equal to the task of the future as
Moses was for that of his day. But the greater the work of the future,
the more necessary is it that the prophet of the future, in order to be
_like unto Moses_, should, in his whole individuality, and in all his
gifts, be far superior to him; compare Heb. iii. 6.

_Finally_,--The common prophetic order itself refuses the honour of
being the prophet like unto Moses. The prophecies of Isaiah, in
chapters xlii., xlix., l., and lxi., are based upon our passage, and in
all of them the Messiah appears as the prophet κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν. It is to
Him that the mission is entrusted of being the restorer of Jacob, and
the salvation of the Lord, even unto the end of the world.

Whilst these reasons demand the reference of this prophecy to Christ,
there are, on the other hand, weighty considerations which make it
appear that a reference to the prophetic order of the Old Testament
cannot be excluded. These considerations are, 1. The wider context.
Deuteronomy is distinguished from the preceding books by this, that
provisions are made in it for the time subsequent to the death of
Moses, which was now at hand. From chap. xvii. 8, the magistrates and
powers--the superiors, to whose authority in secular and spiritual
affairs the people shall submit--are introduced. First, the civil
magistrates are brought before them, xvii. 8-20; and then the
ecclesiastical superiors, chap. xviii. Vers. 1-8 treat of the priests
as the ordinary servants of the Lord in spiritual things. Everywhere
else, offices, institutions, orders, are spoken of. In such a
connection, it is not probable that _the prophet_ should be only an
individual; and the less so, because evidently the prophet, as the
organ of the immediate revelation of God, is placed by the side of the
priests, the teachers of the law (compare xvii. 10, 11, 18; xxxiv. 10),
as their corrective, as a thorn in their flesh, to make up for their
inability. It is true that this wider connection is also against those
who would here _exclude_ Christ. If it be certain that Moses already
knew the Messianic promises (compare the remarks on Gen. xlix.), then,
just in this context, the reference [Pg 113] to Christ, the head of the
authorities of the future, could not be wanting.

2. An exclusive reference to Christ is opposed by the more immediate
context. This connection is twofold. In ver. 15, Moses first utters the
promise in his own name, and here it stands connected with what
precedes. Moses had forbidden to the people the use of all the means by
which those who were given to idolatry endeavoured to penetrate the
boundaries of human knowledge: "Thou shalt not do so," is his language;
for that which these are vainly seeking after in this sinful manner,
shall, in reality, be granted to thee by thy God. Here, it was not only
appropriate to remind them of the Messiah, inasmuch as His appearance,
as being the most perfect revelation of God, satisfies most perfectly
the desire after higher communications; but it would have been very
strange if here, where so suitable an opportunity presented itself, the
founder of the Old Economy had omitted all reference to the founder of
the New Economy, and had limited himself to the intervening, more
imperfect divine communications. But, on the other hand, it would have
been as strange if Moses had taken no notice of them at all,--if,
supposing that a series of false prophets would appear, he had been
satisfied to lay down in chap. xiii. 2 sqq. the distinctive marks of
true and false prophets, and had then, in the passage under review,
referred to the divine revelations to be expected in the distant
future, without noticing those to be expected in the more immediate
future,--thus neglecting to employ means peculiarly fitted for gaining
admission for his exhortations. The word נתן in ver. 14 is especially
opposed to such a view. "And thou (shalt) not (do) so, Jehovah thy God
gave thee." _J. D. Michaelis_ says: "What He gave to the Israelites is
specified in vers. 15 and 18." The past tense suggests the idea of a
gift which had already taken its beginning in the present.--The promise
stands in a different connection in ver. 18. Moses had already given it
in his own name in ver. 15. In order to give it greater authority, he
reports, in the following verses, when and how he had received it from
God. It was delivered to him on Sinai, where God had directly revealed
Himself to the people at the promulgation of the Law, partly in order
to strengthen their confidence in Moses the mediator, and [Pg 114]
partly to show them the folly of their desiring any other mode of
divine communication. But the people were seized with terror before the
dreadful majesty of God, and prayed that God would no longer speak to
them directly, but through a mediator, as He had hitherto done; compare
Exod. xx.; Deut. v. The Lord then said to Moses, "They have well
spoken; a prophet," etc. The words here, in ver. 17, agree very well
with Deut. v. 28. The agreement in the words indicates that _here_ we
have an addition to that which is _there_ communicated regarding what
was spoken by God on that occasion. _There_, we are told only what had
an immediate reference to the present--viz., the appointment of Moses
as mediator; _here_, we are told what was at that time fixed in
reference to the future of the people. We cannot fail to perceive that
_here_, if ever, a divine revelation was appropriate concerning the
coming of Christ, who, as the Mediator between God and man, veiled His
Godhead, and in human form, brought God nearer to man. But we should,
at the same time, expect here an allusion to the inferior messengers of
God, who were to precede Him.

3. The exclusive reference to the Messiah is inconsistent with vers.
20-22. The marks of a false prophet are given in them. If, however,
that which precedes had no reference at all to true prophets, it would
be almost impossible to trace any suitable connection of the thoughts.

4. If the passage were referred to Christ exclusively, the prophetic
institution would then be without any legitimate authority; and from
the whole character of the Mosaic legislation, as laying the foundation
for the future progress and development of the Theocracy, we could not
well conceive that so important an institution should be deficient in
this point. Moreover, the whole historical existence of the prophetic
order necessarily presupposes such a foundation. Deut. xiii. 2 sq. was
not fitted to afford such a foundation, as it refers, only indirectly
and by implication, to true prophets.

5. _Finally_,--There are not wanting slight hints in the New Testament
that the reference to Christ is not an exclusive one. These are found
in Luke xi. 50, 51: Ἵνα ἐκζητηθῇ τὸ αἷμα πάντων τῶν προφητῶν ... ἀπὸ
τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης ... ναὶ λέγω ὑμῖν ἐκζητηθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς
ταύτης. The emphatic repetition of ἐκζητεῖν in that passage shows
plainly its connection [Pg 115] with the words, "I will require it of
him," in the passage under review; just as the ידרש, which, according
to 2 Chron. xxiv. 22, the prophet Zechariah, who was unjustly slain,
uttered when dying, alludes not only to Gen. ix. 5, but to our passage
also. But here we must remark that, in consequence of the sin committed
against the Prophet κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν--Christ--vengeance for the crimes
committed against the inferior prophets is executed at the same time,
so that, in the first instance, _His_ blood is required, and, on this
occasion, all the blood also which was formerly shed.

But how can these two facts be reconciled:--that Moses had, undeniably,
the Messiah in view, and that, notwithstanding, there seems at the same
time to be a reference to the prophets in general? The simplest mode of
reconciling them is the following. The prophet here is an _ideal_
person, comprehending all the true prophets who had appeared from Moses
to Christ, including the latter. But Moses does not here speak of the
prophets as a collective body, to which, at the close, Christ also
belonged, as it were, incidentally, and as one among the many,--as
_Calvin_ and other interpreters mentioned above suppose; but rather,
the plurality of prophets is, for this reason only, comprehended by
Moses in an _ideal_ unity, that, on the authority of Gen. xlix. 10, and
by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, he knew that the prophetical
order would, at some future time, centre in a real person,--in Christ.
But there is so much the more of truth in thus viewing the prophetic
order as a whole, since, according to 1 Peter i. 11, the Spirit of
Christ spoke in the prophets. Thus, in a certain sense, Christ is the
only Prophet.

Footnote 1: _Lampe_ says: He has preserved to us not only what, in
Paradise, and afterwards to and through the Patriarchs, had been told
about this Redeemer; but he himself, under divine inspiration, has
prophesied of Him,--especially in Deut. xviii. 15-18.


The New Testament distinguishes between the hidden God and the revealed
God--the Son or Logos--who is connected with the former by oneness of
nature, and who from everlasting, and even at the creation itself,
filled up the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the
creation;--who has been the Mediator in all God's relations to the
world;--who at all times, and even before He became man in Christ, has
been the light of [Pg 116] the world,--and to whom, specially, was
committed the direction of the economy of the Old Covenant.

It is evident that this doctrine stands in the closest connection with
the Christology,--that it forms, indeed, its theological foundation and
ground-work. Until the Christology has attained to a knowledge of the
true divinity of the Saviour, its results cannot be otherwise than very
meagre and unsatisfactory. Wheresoever the true state of human nature
is seen in the light of Holy Scripture, no high expectations can be
entertained from a merely human Saviour, although he were endowed even
with as full a measure of the gifts of the Spirit of God as human
nature, in its finite and sinful condition, is able to bear. But unless
there exist in the one divine Being itself, such a distinction of
persons, the divinity of the Saviour cannot be acknowledged, without
endangering the unity of God which the Scriptures so emphatically
teach. If, however, there be such a distinction,--if the Word be indeed
with God, we cannot avoid ascribing to God the desire of revealing
Himself; nor, in such a case, can we conceive that He should content
Himself with inferior forms of revelation, with merely transitory
manifestations. We can recognise in these only preparations, and
preludes of the highest and truest revelation.

The question then is, whether any insight into this doctrine is to be
found as early as in the Books of the Old Testament. Sound Christian
Theology has discovered the outlines of such a distinction betwixt the
hidden and the revealed God, in many passages of the Old Testament, in
which mention is made of the Angel or Messenger of God. The general
tenor of these passages will be best exemplified by the first among
them,--the narrative of Hagar in Gen. xvi. In ver. 7, we are told that
the Angel of Jehovah found Hagar. In ver. 10, this Angel ascribes to
Himself a divine work, viz., the innumerable increase of Hagar's
posterity. In ver. 11, He says that Jehovah had heard her distress. He
thus asserts of Jehovah what, shortly before. He had said of Himself.
Moreover, in ver. 13, Hagar expresses her astonishment that she had
seen God, and yet had remained alive.--The opinion that these passages
form the Old Testament foundation for the Proemium of St John's
Gospel, has not remained uncontroverted. From the very times of the
Church-fathers it has been asserted by many, that where the [Pg 117]
Angel of the Lord is spoken of, we must not think of a person connected
with God by unity of nature, but of a lower angel, by whom God executes
His commands, and through whom He acts and speaks. The latest defenders
of the view are _Hofmann_ in "_Weissagung und Erfüllung_" and in the
"_Schriftbeweis_" and _Delitzsch_ in his commentary on Genesis.--Others
are of opinion, that the Angel of Jehovah is identical with Jehovah
Himself,--not denoting a person distinct from Him, but only the form in
which He manifests Himself. We shall not here discuss the question in
its whole extent; we shall, in the meantime, consider only what the
principal passages of the Pentateuch and of the adjacent Book of Joshua
teach upon this point, and how far their teaching coincides with, or is
in opposition to, these various views. For it is only to this extent
that the inquiry belongs to our present object.

In Gen. xvi. 13, these words are of special importance: "_And she
called the name of the Lord who spoke unto her, Thou art a God of
sight: for she said, Do I now_ (properly _here_, in the place where
such a sight was vouchsafed to me) _still see after my seeing?_" "Do I
see" is equivalent to, "Do I live," because death threatened, as it
were, to enter through the eyes. (Compare the expression, "Mine eyes
have seen," in Is. vi.) רֹאִי is the pausal form for רֳאִי; see Job
xxxiii. 21, where, however, the accent is on the penultimate. Then
follows ver. 14: _They called the well_, "_Well of the living sight_;"
_i.e._, where a person had a sight of God, and remained alive.

Hagar must have been convinced that she had seen God without the
mediation of a created angel; for, otherwise, she could not have
wondered that her life was preserved. Man, entangled by the visible
world, is terrified when he comes in contact with the invisible world,
even with angels. (Compare Dan. viii. 17, 18; Luke ii. 9.) But this
terror rises to fear of death only when man comes into contact with the
Lord Himself. (Compare the remarks on Rev. i. 17.) In Gen. xxxii. 31--a
passage which bears the closest resemblance to the one now under
review, and from which it receives its explanation--it is said: "And
Jacob called the name of the place _Peniel_, for I have seen God face
to face, and my life has been preserved." In Exod. xx. 19, the children
of Israel said to Moses, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear; and let
not God speak with us, [Pg 118] lest we die;" compared with Deut. v.
21: "Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume
us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall
die." (Compare also Deut. xviii. 16.) And it is Jehovah who, in Exod.
xxxiii. 20, says, "There shall no man see Me and live." Israel's Lord
and God is, in the absolute energy of His nature, a "consuming fire,"
Deut. iv. 24. (Compare Deut. ix. 3; Is. xxxiii. 14: "Who among us would
dwell with the devouring fire? who among us would dwell with
everlasting burning?" Heb. xii. 29.) It is not the reflected light,
even in the most exalted creatures, nor the sight of the saints of whom
it is said, "Behold, He puts no trust in His servants, and His angels
He chargeth with folly,"--but the sight of the thrice Holy One, which
makes Isaiah exclaim, "Woe is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of
unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips."

So much then is clear,--that the opinion which considers the Angel of
the Lord to be a created angel is overthrown by the first passage where
that angel is mentioned, if the exposition which we have given of vers.
13, 14--an exposition which is now generally received, and which was
last advanced by _Knobel_--be correct. But _Delitzsch_ gives another
exposition: "Thou art a God of sight, _i.e._, one whose all-seeing eye
does not overlook the helpless and destitute, even in the remotest
corner of the wilderness." Against this we remark, that ראי never
denotes the act of seeing, but the sight itself. "Have I not even here
(even in the desert land of destitution) looked after Him who saw me?"
"Well of the living one who seeth me," _i.e._, of the omnipresent
divine providence. In opposition to this exposition, however, we must
remark, that God is nowhere else in Genesis called the Living One. But
our chief objection is, that these expositions destroy the connection
which so evidently exists between our passage and those already
quoted,--especially Gen. xxxii. 31; Exod. xxxiii. 20. (Compare,
moreover, Jud. xiii. 22: "And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall
surely die, because we have seen God.")

It has been asked. Why should the Logos have appeared first to the
Egyptian maid? But the low condition of Hagar cannot here come into
consideration; for the appearance is in reality intended, not for her,
but for Abraham. Immediately [Pg 119] before, in chap. xii. 7, it is
said, "And the Lord appeared unto Abraham;" and immediately after, in
chap. xvii. 1, "And when Abraham was ninety years old and nine, the
Lord appeared to him;" the appearance of the Lord Himself is mentioned
in order that every thought of a lower angel may be warded off. The
passage under consideration, then, contains the indication, that such
appearances must only be conceived of as manifestations of the Deity
Himself to the world. Just as our passage is preserved from erroneous
interpretations by such passages as Gen. xii. 7, xvii. 1, so these
receive from ours, in return, their most distinct definition. We learn
from this, that wherever appearances of Jehovah are mentioned, we must
conceive of them as effected by the mediation of His Angel. There is no
substantial difference betwixt the passages in which Jehovah Himself is
mentioned, and those in which the Angel of Jehovah is spoken of. They
serve to supplement and to explain one another. The words, "In His
Angel," in chap. xvi. 7, furnish us with the supplement to the
succeeding statement, "And _Jehovah_ appeared to him" (so, _e.g._, also
in chap. xviii. 1), just as the writer in Gen. chap. ii. iii. makes use
of the name Jehovah-Elohim, in order that henceforth every one may
understand that where only Jehovah is spoken of. He is yet personally
identical with Elohim.

Let us now turn to Gen. xviii. xix. According to _Delitzsch_. all the
three men who appeared to Abraham were "finite spirits made visible."
_Hofmann_ (_Schriftb._ S. 87) says: "Jehovah is present on earth in His
angels, in the two with Lot, as in the three with Abraham." We,
however, hold fast by the view of the ancient Church, that in chap.
xviii. the Logos appeared accompanied by two inferior angels.
Abraham's regards are, from the very first, involuntarily directed to
one from among the three, and whom he addresses by אֲדוֹנָי, O Lord
(xviii. 3); the two others are considered by him as companions only.
But Lot has to do with both equally, and addresses them first by אֲדוֹנַי,
my Lords.--In chap. xviii., it is always one only of the three who
speaks; the two others are mute;[1] while in chap. xix. everything
comes from the two [Pg 120] equally. He with whom Abraham has to do,
always, and without exception, speaks as God Himself; while the two
with whom Lot has to do speak at first, as λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα,
distinguishing themselves from the Lord who sent them (compare ver.
13); and it is only after they have thus drawn the line of separation
between themselves and Jehovah, that they appear, in vers. 21, 22, as
speaking in His name. They do so, moreover, only after Lot, in the
anxiety of his heart and in his excitement, had previously addressed,
in them, Him who sent them, and with whom he desired to have to do as
immediately as possible. The scene bears, throughout, a character of
excitement, and is not fitted to afford data for general conclusions.
We cannot infer from it that it was, in general, customary to address,
in the angels, the Lord who sent them, or that the angels acted in the
name of the Lord. In chap. xviii., from ver. 1, where the narrative
begins with the words, "And Jehovah appeared unto him," Moses always
speaks of him with whom Abraham had to do as Jehovah only, excepting
where he introduces the three men. (He with whom Abraham has to do is
called, not fewer than eight times, Jehovah, and six times אֲדוֹנָי.) But
in chap. xix., Jehovah, who is concealed behind the two angels, appears
only twice in the expression, "And He said," in vers. 17, 21, for which
ver. 13 suggests the supplement: "through His two angels."--Even in
ver. 16, the narrative distinguishes Jehovah from the two men,--and all
this in an exciting scene which must have influenced even the narrator.
If he who spoke to Abraham was an angel like the other two, we could
scarcely perceive any reason why he should not have taken part in the
mission to Sodom; but if he was the Angel of the Lord κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, the
reason is quite obvious; it would have been inconsistent with divine
propriety.--In chap. xviii. Moses speaks of three men; it is evidently
on [Pg 121] purpose that he avoids speaking of three angels. In chap.
xix. 1, on the contrary, we are at once told: "And there came the two
angels." (Compare ver. 15.) The reason why in chap. xviii. the use of
the name _angels_ is avoided can only be, because it might easily have
led to a misunderstanding, if the Angel of the Lord had been
comprehended in that one designation along with the two inferior
angels, although it would not, in itself, have been inadmissible.--If
we suppose that he, with whom Abraham had to do, was some created
angel, we cannot well understand how, in chap. xviii. 17 seq., the
judgment over Sodom could, throughout, be ascribed to him. _He_ could
not, in the name of the Lord, speak of that judgment, as not he, but
the two other angels who went to Sodom, were the instruments of its
execution. Hence it only remains to ascribe the judgment to him as the
_causa principalis_.--If the three angels were equals, it would be
impossible to explain the adversative clause in chap. xviii. 22: "And
the men turned from thence and went to Sodom; _but Abraham stood yet
before the Lord._" Jehovah and the two angels are here contrasted. It
is true that, in the two angels also, it is Jehovah who acts. This is
evident from xviii. 21: "I will go down and see"--where the going down
does not refer to descending to the valley of Jordan, the position of
which was lower (thus _Delitzsch_); but, according to xi. 7, it refers
to a descent from heaven to earth. That Jehovah, though on earth,
should declare His resolution to go down, as in xi. 7, may be explained
from the ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ in John iii. 13. God, even when He is on
earth, remains in heaven, and it is thence that He manifests Himself.
Moreover, the words immediately following show in what sense this going
down is to be understood,--that it is not in His own person, but
through the medium of His messengers. The resolution, "I will go down,"
is carried into effect by the going down of the angels to Sodom.

By the Jehovah who, from Jehovah out of heaven, caused brimstone and
fire to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah (xix. 24), we are not at liberty
to understand the two angels only,[2] but, [Pg 122] agreeably to the
views of sound Christian expositors generally, Christ,--with this
modification, however, that the two angels are to be considered as His
servants, and that what they do is His work also. It is true that the
angels say, in xix. 13, "We will destroy," etc.; but much more
emphatically and frequently does he with whom Abraham has to do,
ascribe the work of destruction to himself. (Compare xviii. 17, where
Jehovah says, "How can I hide from Abraham that thing which I am
doing?" vers. 24-28, etc.) If in xix. 24 there be involved the contrast
between, so to speak, the heavenly and earthly Jehovah,--between the
hidden God and Him who manifests Himself on earth,--then so much the
more must we seek the latter in chap. xviii., as in ver. 22, compared
with ver. 21, the angels are distinctly pointed out as His Messengers.

_Delitzsch_ asserts that in Heb. xiii. 2, the words, ἔλαθόν τινες
ξενίσαντες ἀγγέλους, clearly indicate that "all three were finite
spirits made visible." This assertion, however, which was long before
made by the Socinian _Crellius_, has been sufficiently refuted by _Ode
de Angelis_, p. 1001. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews intends
to connect the events which happened to Abraham and Lot equally--τίνες;
and for this reason he did not go beyond what was common to them both.
Moreover, the Angel of the Lord is likewise comprehended in the
appellation "_angels_," for the name has no reference to the nature,
but to the mission.

Footnote 1: The words in ver. 9, "And they said to him," are to be
understood only thus:--that one spoke at the same time in the name of
the others; in the question thus put, it is, in the first instance,
only the general relation of the guests to the hostess that comes into
consideration. That such is the case, appears from ver. 10, where the
use of the plural could not be continued, because a work was on hand
which was peculiar to the one among them, and in which the others were
not equally concerned. If the words in ver. 9 were spoken by all the
three, then the one in ver. 10 ought to have been singled out thus:
"And one from among them thus spoke." On account of the suffix in
אחריו, "And the door was behind _him_," the ויאמר in ver. 10 can be
referred only to the one, and not to the Jehovah concealed behind all
the three. This shows how the preceding, "And they said," is to be

Footnote 2: _Delitzsch_ says: "As the two are really sent to destroy
Sodom and Gomorrah, it is evident that Jehovah, in ver. 24, who causes
brimstone and fire to rain from Jehovah out of heaven, is viewed as
being present in the two on earth, but in such a manner that,
nevertheless, His real judicial throne is in heaven."

                                * * * * *

Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11
seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, מלאך האלהים, appears to
Jacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of
Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It
cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel
took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah
is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold
the angels of God ascending and descending on it." In ver. 13, there is
another sight: "And behold Jehovah stood by him and said, I am Jehovah,
the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon
thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed."

[Pg 123]

This passage is also in so far of importance, because, agreeably to
what has been remarked in p. 119, it follows from it that even there,
where Jehovah simply is mentioned, the mediation through His Angel is
to be assumed.

                                * * * * *

He with whom Jacob wrestles, in Gen. xxxii. 24, makes himself known as
God, partly by giving him the name Israel, _i.e._, one who wrestles
with God, and partly by bestowing a blessing upon him. Jacob calls the
place _Peniel_, _i.e._, face of God, because he had seen God face to
face, and wonders that his life was preserved. The answer which Elohim
gives here to Jacob's question regarding His name, remarkably coincides
with that which in Judges xiii. 17, 18, is given by _the_ Angel of the
Lord to a similar question. In Hosea xii. 4 (comp. the remarks on this
passage in the Author's "_Genuineness of the Pentateuch_," vol. i. p.
128 ff.), he who wrestled with Jacob is called Elohim, as in Genesis;
but in ver. 5, he is called מלאך, a word which is more distinctly
defined by the preceding Elohim; so that we can, accordingly, think
only of the Angel of God. As it was certainly not the intention of the
prophet to state a new historical circumstance, the mention of the
Angel must be founded upon the supposition, that all revelations of God
are made by the mediation of His Angel,--a supposition which we have
already proved to have its foundation in the book of Genesis itself.

_Delitzsch_ says, S. 256, "Jehovah reveals Himself in the מלאך, but
just by means of a finite spirit becoming visible, and therefore in a
manner more tolerable to him who occupies a lower place of communion
with God." And similarly, _Hofmann_ expresses himself, S. 335: "It is
quite the same thing whether it be said, he saw God, or an angel, as is
testified by Hosea also; and nowhere have we less right to explain it
as if it were an appearance of God the Son, in contrast with the
appearance of an angel."

But since it is an essentially different matter, whether Jacob wrestled
with God Himself, or, in the first instance, with an ordinary angel
merely, we have, as regards this opinion, only the choice between
accusing the prophet Hosea, who brought in the angel, of an
Euhemerismus, or of raising against sacred history the charge that it
cannot be relied on, because it omitted so important [Pg 124] a
circumstance. The name Israel, by which, "at the same time, the
innermost nature of the Covenant-people was fixed, and the divine law
of their history was established" (_Delitzsch_), is, in that case, a
falsehood. Jacob has overcome omnipotence, and, in this one adversary,
all others who might oppose him,--as he is expressly assured in ver.
29: "Thou hast wrestled with God and _with men_, and hast prevailed."
Can God invest a creature with omnipotence? Jacob would certainly not
have gone so cheerfully to meet Esau, if in Him over whom he prevailed
with weeping and supplication, he himself had recognised only an angel,
and not Jehovah the God of hosts, as Hosea, in ver. 6, calls the very
same, of whom in ver. 5 he had spoken as the angel. The consolatory
import of the event for the Church of all times is destroyed, if Jacob
had to do with a created angel only. With such an one, Jacob had not to
reckon on account of his sinfulness, and it is just the humiliating
consciousness of this his sinfulness which forms the point at issue in
his wrestling. Moreover, with such a view, the New Testament Antitype
would be altogether lost. Jesus, the true Israel, does not wrestle with
an angel,--such an one only appears to strengthen Him in His struggle,
Luke xxii. 43--but with God, Heb. v. 7.--The occurrence would,
according to this opinion, furnish a strong argument for the worship of
angels: "He wept and made _supplication_ unto him," Hos. xii. 5
(compare Deut. iii. 23). The ἀγωνίζεσθαι ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς, mentioned
in Col. iv. 12, in allusion to our passage, would, in that case,
besides God, have the angels for its object.

If an ordinary angel were here to be understood, we must likewise
believe that an angel is spoken of in Gen. xxxv. 9 seq. For, of the
same angel with whom Jacob wrestled, Hosea says that Jacob found him in
Bethel: "And he wrestled with the Angel and prevailed, he wept and made
supplication unto him; he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with
us." (_Tarnov_: "_Nobiscum qui in lumbis Jacobi hærebamus._") Then, it
must have been a common angel, too, who appeared to Jacob in Gen.
xxviii. 10 ff.; for chap. xxxv. 9, compared with ver. 7, does not allow
us to doubt of the identity of him who appeared on these two occasions.
But such an idea cannot be entertained for a moment; for in chap.
xxviii. 13, Jehovah is contrasted with the angels ascending and
descending on the ladder.

[Pg 125]

In Gen. xlviii. 15, 16, we read of Jacob: "_And he blessed Joseph, and
said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, and
the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which
redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads._"

In this passage, God first appears, twice in the indefiniteness of His
nature, and then, specially, as the Angel concerned for Jacob and his

By the Angel, we cannot here understand a divine emanation and
messenger, because no permanent character belongs to such; while here
the whole sum of the preservations of Jacob, and of the blessings upon
Ephraim and Manasseh, is derived from the Angel. And just as little can
we thereby understand a created angel, according to the view of
_Hofmann_, who, in S. 87, says: "Jacob here makes mention of God, not
thrice, but twice only; first as the God of his fathers, and then as
the God of his own experience, but in such a way that in ver. 16 he
names, instead of God, the Angel who watched over him; and he does so
for the purpose of denoting the special providence of which he had been
the object."

The analogy of the threefold blessing of Aaron in Num. vi. 24-26 would
lead us to expect that the name of God should be three times mentioned.
No created angel could in this manner be placed by the side of God, or
be introduced as being independent of, and co-ordinate with, Him. Such
an angel can only be meant as is connected with God by oneness of
nature, and whose activity is implied in that of God. The singular יברך
is here of very special significance. It indicates that the Angel is
joined to God by an inseparable oneness, and that his territory is just
as wide as that of Elohim.[1] If by the angel we understand some
created one, we cannot then avoid the startling inference, that God is,
in all His manifestations, bound [Pg 126] absolutely to the mediation
of the lower angels. In the history upon which Jacob looks back, the
inferior angels do not appear at all as taking any part in all the
preservations of Jacob. Twice only are they mentioned in his whole
history,--in chap. xxviii. 12, and xxxii. 2. _Lastly_,--The angel
cannot well be a collective noun; for we nowhere meet with the _ideal_
person of the angel, as comprehending within himself a real plurality.
(Compare remarks on Ps. xxxiv. 8.) We should therefore be compelled to
think of Jacob's protecting angel. But this, again, would be in
opposition to the fact, that Scripture nowhere says anything of the
guardian angels of any individual. Moreover, it is a plurality of
angels that in xxviii. 12, xxxii. 2, serves for the protection of
Jacob, and we nowhere find the slightest trace of one inferior angel
being attached to Jacob for his protection.

Footnote 1: This significance of the singular was pointed out as early
as in the third century by _Novatianus_, who, _de Trinitate_ c. xv. (p.
1016 in _Ode_), says: "So constant is he in mentioning that Angel whom
he had called God, that even at the close of his speech he again
refers, in an emphatic manner, to the same person, by saying, 'God
bless these lads.' For had he intended that some other angel should be
understood, he would have used the plural number in order to comprehend
the two persons. But since, in his blessing, he made use of the
singular, he would have us to understand that God and the Angel are
quite identical."

                                * * * * *

In Exod. xxiii. 20, 21, Jehovah says to the children of Israel:
"_Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to
bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and
obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your
transgressions: for My name is in him._"

As the people are here told to beware of the Angel, because he will not
pardon their transgressions, so Joshua xxiv. 19 warns them as regards
the most high God: "Ye will not be able to serve Jehovah: for He is a
holy (_i.e._, a glorious, exalted) God; He is a jealous God; He will
not forgive your transgressions nor your sins." The energetic character
of the reaction proceeding from the angel against all violations of His
honour, is founded upon the words, "For My name is in him." By the
"name of God" all His deeds are understood and comprehended, His glory
testified by history, the display and testimony of His nature which
history gives. (Compare the remarks in my commentary on Ps. xxiii. 2,
xlviii. 11, lxxxiii. 17-19, lxxxvi. 11.) "My name is him;" _i.e._,
according to Calvin, "My glory and majesty dwell in him." Compare here
what in the New Testament is said of Christ: ἃ γὰρ ἂν ἐκεῖνος ποιῇ
ταῦτα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς ὁμοίως ποιεῖ, John v. 19; ἵνα πάντες τιμῶσι τὸν υἱὸν
καθὼς τιμῶσι τὸν πατέρα, John v. 23; ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν, John x.
30; ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ πιστεύσητε ὅτι ἐν ἐμοὶ ὁ πατὴρ κᾀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ, [Pg 127]
John x. 38; οὐ πιστεύεις ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστι,
John xiv. 10; καθὼς σὺ πάτερ ἐν ἐμοὶ κᾀγὼ ἐν σοί, John xvii. 21; ἐν
αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς, Col. ii. 9.--It is
impossible that the name of God could be communicated to any other, Is.
xlii. 8. The name of God can dwell in Him only, who is originally of
the same nature with God.

                                * * * * *

After Israel had contracted guilt by the worship of the golden calf. He
who had hitherto led them--Jehovah = the Angel of Jehovah--says, in
Exod. xxxii. 34, that He would no more lead them Himself, but send
before them His Angel, מלאכי: "_For I_ (myself) _will not go up in the
midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people, lest I consume thee
in the way_;" xxxiii. 3, compared with xxiii. 21. The people are quite
inconsolable on account of this sad intelligence, ver. 4.

The threatening of the Lord becomes unintelligible, and the grief of
the people incomprehensible, if by the Angel in chap. xxiii. an
ordinary angel be understood. But everything becomes clear and
intelligible, if we admit that in chap. xxiii. there is an allusion to
the Angel of the Lord κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, who is connected with Him by oneness
of nature, and who, because the name of God is in Him, is as zealous as
Himself in inflicting punishment as well as in bestowing salvation;
whilst in chap. xxxii. 34, the allusion is to an inferior angel, who is
added to the highest revealer of God as His companion and messenger,
and who appears in the Book of Daniel under the name of Gabriel, while
the Angel of the Lord appears under the name of Michael.

On account of the sincere repentance of the people, and the
intercession of Moses, the Lord revokes the threatening, and says in
xxxiii. 14, "My face shall go." But Moses said unto Him, "If Thy face
go not, carry us not up hence."

That פנים, _face_, signifies here the _person_, is granted by
_Gesenius_: "The face of some one means often his personal
presence,--himself in his own person." A similar use of the word occurs
in 2 Sam. xvii. 11: "Thy face go to battle" (_Michaelis_: "Thou thyself
be present, not some commander only"); and in Deut. iv. 37, where בפניו
means _in_, or _with_, _his personal presence_: "He [Pg 128] brought
them out with His face, with His mighty power out of Egypt."

The state of things has in xxxiii. 14, 15, evidently become again what
it was in xxiii. 20, 21. The face of the Lord in the former passage, is
the Angel of the Lord in the latter. Hence, we cannot here admit the
idea of some inferior angel; we can think only of that Angel who is
connected with the Lord by oneness of nature.

The connection between the face of the Lord in xxxiii. 14, 15, and the
Angel in whom is the name of the Lord, in xxiii., becomes still more
evident by Is. lxiii. 8, 9: "And He (Jehovah) became their Saviour. In
all their affliction (they were) not afflicted, and the Angel of His
face saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and He
bore and carried them all the days of old." The Angel of the face, in
this text, is an expression which, by its very darkness, points back to
some fundamental passage--a passage, too, in the Pentateuch--as facts
are alluded to, of which the authentic report is given in that book.
The expression, "Angel of the face," arose from a combination of Exod.
xxiii. 20--from which the "Angel" is taken--and Exod. xxxiii. 14,
whence he took the "face." To explain "Angel of the face" by "the angel
who sees His face," as several have done, would give an inadequate
meaning; for by the whole context, an expression is demanded which
would elevate the angel to the height of God. Now, as in Exod. xxxiii.
14, "the face of Jehovah" is tantamount to "Jehovah in His own person,"
the Angel of the face can be none other than He in whom Jehovah
appeal's personally, in contrast with inferior created angels. The
Angel of the face is the Angel in whom is the name of the Lord.

                                * * * * *

When Joshua was standing with the army before Jericho, in a state of
despondency at the sight of the strongly fortified city, a man appeared
to him, with his sword drawn; and when he was asked by Joshua, "Art
thou for us or for our adversaries?" he answers, in chap. v. 14, "Nay,
for I am the Captain of the host of Jehovah, שר צבא יהוה, now I have
come." This Captain claims for himself divine honour, in ver. 15,
precisely in the same manner as the Angel of Jehovah in Exod. iii., by
commanding [Pg 129] Joshua to put off his shoes, because the place on
which he stood was holy. In chap. vi. 2 he is called Jehovah. For it
is evident that we are not to think of another divine revelation
there given to Joshua in any other way--as some interpreters suppose;
because, in that case, the appearance of the Captain, who only now
gives command to Joshua, would have been without an object. In chap. v.
the directions would be wanting; in chap. vi. we should have no report
of the appearance.

There can be no doubt that, by the host of the Lord, the heavenly host
is to be understood; and _Hofmann_ (S. 291) has not done well in
reviving the opinion of some older expositors (_Calvin_, _Masius_)
which has been long ago refuted, viz., that the host of the Lord is
"Israel standing at the beginning of his warfare," and in asserting
that the prince of this host is some inferior angel. The Israelites
cannot be the host of the Lord, that explanation is excluded by the
comparison with the host of the Lord mentioned at the very threshold of
revelation, in Gen. ii. 1; that which is commonly (Gen. xxxii. 2; 1
Kings xxii. 19; Neh. ix. 6; Ps. ciii. 21, cxlviii. 2, compared with 2
Kings vi. 27) so called, infinitely surpasses the earthly one in glory,
and of it the Lord has the name Jehovah Zebaoth. It is only in two
isolated passages of the Pentateuch that the appellation which properly
belongs to the heavenly hosts of God is transferred to the earthly
ones; and that is done in order to point out their correspondence, and
thereby to elevate the mind. In the first of these passages, Exod. vii.
4, the "host of the Lord" is not spoken of absolutely, but it is
expressly said what host is intended: "And I bring forth My host. My
people, the children of Israel." The second passage, in Exod. xii. 41,
is similarly qualified, and refers to the first. According to this view
of _Hofmann_, the words, "now I have come," are quite inexplicable.[1]
The Captain of the host of the Lord expresses Himself in such a manner
as if, by His coming, everything were accomplished. But if he was only
the commander of Israel--an inferior [Pg 130] angel--his coming was no
guarantee for success, for his limited power might be checked by a
higher one. But if the Captain of the host of Jehovah be the Prince of
angels, we cannot by any means refer the divine honour which He demands
and receives, to Him who sent Him, in contrast with Him who is sent;
the higher the dignity, the more necessary is the limitation. If the
honour be ascribed to Him, He must be a partaker of a divine nature.

Jesus not at all indistinctly designates Himself as the Captain of the
Lord's host spoken of in our passage, in Matt. xxvi. 53: Ἢ δοκεῖς ὅτι
οὐ δύναμαι ἄρτι παρακαλέσαι τὸν πατέρα μου, καὶ παραστήσει μοι πλείους
ἢ δώδεκα λεγεῶνας ἀγγέλων; This passage alone would be sufficient to
refute the view which conceives of the Angel of the Lord as a mere
emanation and messenger. It also overthrows the opinion that he is an
inferior angel, inasmuch as the Angel of the Lord here appears as
raised above all inferior angels.

Thus there existed, even in the time of Moses, the most important
foundation for the doctrine concerning Christ. He who knows the general
relation which the Pentateuch bears to the later development of
doctrine, will, _a priori_, think it impossible that it should have
been otherwise; and, instead of neglecting these small beginnings,
appearing, as it were, in the shape of germs, he will cultivate them
with love and care.

It is only at a late period, in Malachi iii. 1, that the doctrine of
the Angel of the Lord is expressly brought into connection with that of
Christ. But a knowledge of the divine nature of the Messiah is found at
a much earlier period; and we can certainly not suppose that the
doctrine of the Angel of the Lord, and that of a truly divine Saviour,
should have existed by the side of each other, and yet that manifold
forebodings regarding their close obvious connection should not have
been awakened in the mind.

Footnote 1: _Seb. Schmid_ says: "I have now come with my heavenly host
to attack the Canaanites, and to help thee and thy people. Be thou of
good cheer; prepare thyself for war along with me, and I will now
explain to thee in what manner thou must carry it on;" vi. 2 ff.

                   THE PROMISE IN 2 SAMUEL, CHAP. VII.

The Messianic prophecy, as we have seen, began at a time long anterior
to that of David. Even in Genesis, we perceived [Pg 131] it, increasing
more and more in distinctness. There is at first only the general
promise that the seed of the woman should obtain the victory over the
kingdom of the evil one;--then, that the salvation should come through
the descendants of Shem;--then, from among them Abraham is marked
out,--of his sons, Isaac,--from among his sons, Jacob,--and from among
the twelve sons of Jacob, Judah is singled out as the bearer of
dominion, and marked out as the person from whom, at length, should
proceed the glorious King whose peaceful dominion is destined to extend
over all the nations of the earth.

Whilst, hitherto, the tribe only had been pointed out, in the midst of
which an imperishable dominion should be established, and out of which
the Saviour was at last to come,--under David another feature was added
by the determination of the _family_. This was done in the prophetic
announcement which the Lord, by the prophet Nathan, addressed in 2 Sam.
vii. to David, when he had adopted the resolution of building to the
Lord a fixed temple, instead of the moveable tabernacle which had
hitherto been used.

Ver. 1. "_And it happened when the king sat in his house, and the
Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about._ Ver. 2.
_And the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See, now, I dwell in a
house of cedar, and the ark of God dwelleth within curtains._"
The question here is:--To what time is the occurrence to be assigned?
The answer is:--To the time not long after David had obtained the
dominion over all Israel. To this opinion we are led by the position
which the report occupies in the Books both of Chronicles and of
Samuel. The supposition is so very probable, that nothing short of very
cogent reasons could induce us to abandon it. A narrative, in which
David's accession to the throne is followed by the conquest of
Jerusalem, and this by the building of his palace,--and this again by
the bringing up of the ark of the covenant,--and this, still further,
by David's anxiety for a fixed sanctuary, evidently agrees with the
order in which these events followed each other. We can the less
entertain any doubt concerning it, because we are expressly told, that
the wars and victories of David reported in chap. viii. were subsequent
to what is reported in chap. vii.; compare viii. 1. That the conquest
of Jerusalem and the [Pg 132] building of his palace belong to the
period soon after his accession to the throne, is both evident, and
generally acknowledged; but that David's anxiety for a fixed sanctuary
was awakened in him soon after the completion of his palace, is
expressly stated in 1 Chron. xvii. 1. Instead of כי ישב in ver. 1 of
our passage, we find there כאשר ישב, "when," or "as soon as" he dwelt.
We cannot well think of any later period, as David's zeal for the
building of the house of the Lord was closely connected with the
question regarding the duration of his own family, which was so readily
suggested by the fate of Saul, and which must necessarily have engaged
his attention at a very early period. If he obtained the divine
sanction for the building of the temple, that question also was thereby
answered. _Further_,--It appears from ver. 12, that Solomon was not yet
born at the time when David received the promise. The circumstance,
too, that there are so many allusions to it in the Psalms of David,
proves that this promise had been already given to him at the beginning
of his reign.--One circumstance only has been adduced against assigning
to it so early a period, viz., that the event is here placed within the
time when the Lord had given David rest from all his enemies round
about. But there is not one word which affirms that this rest was a
definitive one; while, on the other hand, the contrary is alluded to by
the circumstance that the Books of Chronicles make no mention at all of
David's rest from his enemies, and is distinctly indicated by viii. 1.
In 1 Chron. xiv. 17 it is said, after the account of David's victory
over the Philistines (on which event the Books of Samuel report
previous to chap. vii., viz. in v. 17-25): "And the name of David went
out into all lands, and the Lord gave his fear upon all the heathen."
This previous result was so much the more important, as the Philistines
had been, for a long time, the most dangerous enemies of Israel, and
David himself may have considered it as a definitive one,--may have
imagined this truce to be a peace,--may not have been aware that he had
yet to bear the burden of the most trying wars. Looking, then, to the
passage in Deut. xii. 10, 11--in which the choice of a place where the
Lord will cause His name to dwell, is connected with the giving of rest
from all enemies round about--he might think that the present
circumstance formed a call upon him to erect a sanctuary to [Pg 133]
the Lord.[1] But the issue (compare viii. 1) soon made it manifest to
him, that the supposition on which he proceeded was an erroneous one.
We have a tacit correction of David's mistake in 1 Kings v. 17, 18:
"Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto
the name of the Lord his God, for the wars with which they surrounded
him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. And now the
Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, and there is neither
adversary nor evil occurrence." It was only under Solomon that the
period provided for by Deut. xii. really arrived. (Compare 1 Chron.
xxii. 19.)

Ver. 3. "_And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine
heart, for the Lord is with thee._ Ver. 4. _And it came to pass that
night that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying:_ Ver. 5. _Go
and tell My servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build Me a
house to dwell in?_"

In ver. 5 the question is stated, the answer to which is the point at
issue. In ver. 6, the exposition begins with כי, which refers to the
whole of it, and not merely to the clause which immediately follows.
Hitherto, the Lord has not had a fixed temple (ver. 6), nor has any
such been wished for or desired by Him (ver. 7). By the grace of God,
David has been raised to be ruler over the people (ver. 8), and the
Lord has helped him gloriously (ver. 9), and, through him, His people
(ver. 10). This mercy the Lord had already bestowed upon him, that,
since the beginning of the period of the Judges, it was through him,
first of all, that the people had obtained rest from all their enemies
round about; but to this favour the Lord is now adding another, by
announcing to him that He would make him an house (ver. 11). When David
dies, his seed shall occupy the throne, and be established in the
kingdom (ver. 12). It is he who shall build an house for the Lord who
will establish for ever the throne of his kingdom, vers. 13-16.

David's zeal for the house of the Lord is thus acknowledged (compare
Ps. cxxxii. 1), and so also is the correctness of his supposition, that
the building of the fixed temple is intimately [Pg 134] connected with
his being raised to be ruler over Israel. The first answer of Nathan
remains correct; it is only more distinctly and closely defined and
modified. David is to build the house,--not, however, in his own
person, but in his seed, and after the Lord has begun to fulfil His
promise, that He would make him an house.

But why was it that David himself was not permitted to build the house
to the Lord? In this passage we obtain no answer. In Solomon's message
to Hiram (1 Kings v. 17) an external reason only is stated--viz., that,
by his numerous wars, David had been prevented from building a house to
the Lord. There was a deeper reason than this; but the heathen could
not comprehend it. It is contained in the words which, according to 1
Chron. xxviii. 3, David spoke to the people: "And God said unto me,
Thou shalt not build an house for My name, because thou hast been a man
of war, and hast shed blood;" and in the words of the Lord which,
according to 1 Chron. xxii. 8, David repeated to Solomon: "Thou hast
shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars; thou shalt not build
an house unto My name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth
in My sight,"--a disclosure which David could have obtained only at a
later period, and as a supplement to the divine communication which had
been made to him through Nathan. For it is only after the revelation in
2 Sam. vii. that David had to carry on his most bloody wars. We must
not, by any means, entertain the idea that these words express anything
_blameworthy_ in David, and that the permission to build the temple was
refused to him on account of his personal unworthiness. David stood in
a closer relation to God than did Solomon. His wars were wars of the
Lord, 1 Sam. xxv. 28. It is in this light that David himself regarded
them; and that he was conscious of his being divinely commissioned for
them, is seen, _e.g._, from Ps. xviii.: it was the Lord who taught his
hands to war (ver. 35) and who gave him vengeance, and subdued the
people unto him, ver. 48. The passages 1 Chron. xxii. 8, xxvii. 3, do
not, in themselves, contain one reproachful word against David. On the
contrary, the words, _in My sight_, in the former of these passages,
rather lead us to suppose that David is, in his wars, to be considered
only as a servant of the Lord (_Michaelis_: "_In My sight_--_i.e._, who
am, as it were, the [Pg 135] highest judge, and the commander"). The
reason is rather of a symbolical character. How necessary soever, under
certain conditions, war may be for the kingdom of God,--as indeed the
Saviour also says that (in the first instance) He had not come to send
peace, but a sword,--it is after all only something accidental, and
rendered needful by human corruption. The real nature of the kingdom of
God is peace. Even in the Old Testament, the Lord of the Church appears
as the Prince of Peace, Is. ix. 5. According to Luke ix. 56, the Son of
Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. In order to
impress upon the mind this view of the nature and aim of the Church,
the Temple--the symbol of the Church--must not be built by David the
man of war, but by Solomon, the peaceful, the man of rest, 1 Chron.
xxii. 9.

Ver. 6. "_For I have not dwelt in any house from the day that I brought
up the children of Israel out of Egypt even to this day, and have
walked in a tent and in a tabernacle._ Ver. 7. _In all that I have
walked among the children of Israel, have I spoken one word with any of
the tribes of Israel whom I commanded to feed My people Israel, saying.
Why build ye Me not a house of cedar?_"

According to several interpreters, these words are intended as
a consolation to David for the delay in building the temple, and
convey this sense: that God did not require the temple, that the
building of it was of no consequence,--as sufficiently appears from
the circumstance of His not having hitherto urged it. But such a view
would ill agree with the great importance which David continues, even
afterwards, to ascribe to the building of the temple,--with the grand
efforts of Solomon towards it,--and with the exulting words which are
uttered by the latter, in 1 Kings viii. 13, after the work has been
accomplished: "I have built Thee an house to dwell in, a settled place
for Thee to abide in for ever." A comparison of 1 Kings viii. 16-20
furnishes us with a clue to the right interpretation. In that passage,
the period before David is contrasted with that during which David
lived. (Compare the עתה, _now_, in ver. 8.) Hitherto, everything in the
government had borne a provisional character, and, hence, the sanctuary
also. But now that, after the unsettled state of things under [Pg 136]
the Judges and Saul, _the definitive government_ has been called into
existence with David, to whom the Lord will make an house, the
_definitive sanctuary_ also shall be built,--only, that it shall
not be founded by David, but by his seed.[2] The words, _I have
walked_--literally, I have been walking, I have continued walking--_in
a tent and in a tabernacle_, indicate not only that the Lord dwelt in a
portable sanctuary, but also, that the place of this sanctuary was
oftentimes changed, from one station to another in the wilderness, then
to Gilgal, Shiloh, Nob and Gibeon. This changing of the place of the
tabernacle is still more distinctly pointed out, in the parallel
passage in 1 Chron. xvii. 5: "And I have been from tent to tent, from
tabernacle to tabernacle;" _i.e._, I went from one tent into the other,
_e.g._, from the dwelling-place of Shiloh into that of Nob,--a mode of
expression which pays no attention to the circumstance whether or not
the tent was materially the same. Instead of, "With any of the tribes
of Israel," we find in 1 Chron. xvii. 6, "With any of the judges of
Israel,"--a parallel passage which very well explains the main text.
The tribes come into consideration through their judges, who, in the
Book of Judges, always appear as judges in Israel, and procured a
temporary [Pg 137] superiority to the tribe from which they
proceeded.[3] The שבטי, which has been doubted, is rendered certain by
1 Kings viii. 16. (Compare, moreover, Ps. lxxviii. 67, 68.)--The reason
why no such word came to any one of these tribes is, that the
superiority of none of them was permanent; the election of all of them
was merely temporary. The continuance of the tent-temple was intended
to indicate that the state of things was, in general, provisional only,
and that a new order of things was at hand. The creation of a settled
sanctuary was to be coincident with the establishment of an abiding
kingdom, to which the grace of God was vouchsafed. It was an evil omen
for Saul that the erection of a fixed sanctuary was not even mooted
under him. The close of Ps. lxxviii. likewise points out the intimate
connection of the kingdom and the sanctuary.

Ver. 8. "_And now, thus shalt thou say unto David My servant: Thus
saith the Lord, of hosts, I took thee from the sheep-cote,_[4] _from
behind the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel._ Ver. 9.
_And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all
thine enemies from before thee, and have made thee a great name like
unto the name of the great men that are upon the earth._ Ver. 10. _And
I gave room unto My people Israel, and planted them, and they dwell in
their place, and they shall no more be frightened, and the sons of
wickedness shall afflict them no more as heretofore._"

Seven divine benefits are here enumerated,--one in ver. 8, which forms
the foundation of all the others, and three in each of the two
following verses,--in ver. 9, what the Lord has given to David,--in
ver. 10, what, through him, He has given to Israel. These benefits are
so many symptoms that a _definitive_ order of things has now taken the
place of the _provisional_ one, and that, hence, the moveable sanctuary
will now be soon followed by the settled one. In the first member of
ver. 10, there is an enumeration of the benefits which the [Pg 138]
people have already received through David; in the second and third
members, an enumeration of the benefits to be constantly bestowed upon
them through him. A commentary upon it is formed by Ps. lxxxix. 22-24,
in which it is said of David: "With whom My hand shall be continually.
Mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him,
nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I crush his enemies before
him, and will smite those who hate him."

Ver. 11. "_And since the day that I commanded judges over My people
Israel, I have given thee rest from all thine enemies. And the Lord
telleth thee, that the Lord will make thee an house._"

The first part of this verse comprehends all the benefits formerly
enumerated;--the second adds another, which, however, is closely
connected with the previous ones. The circumstance that the Lord first
gave rest to David, and, in him, to the people, was a sign of his
election which could not but manifest itself afterwards in the care for
his house. The promise, "The Lord will make thee an house," was to
David an answer to prayer, as is shown by Ps. xxi. 3, 5, lxi. 6,
cxxxviii. 3. Even the thought of building the temple was a question put
to the Lord, as to whether He would, in harmony with His past conduct,
give a duration to his house, different from that of the house of Saul.

Ver. 12. "_And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with
thy fathers, I shall cause thy seed to rise up after thee which shall
proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom._"

The הקים does not signify the beginning of existence, but the elevation
to the royal dignity. זרע, _seed_, denotes the posterity, which,
however, may consist of one only, or be represented by a single
individual. In the parallel passage, 1 Chron. xvii. 11, the words run
thus: "Thy seed which shall be of thy sons," _i.e._, who shall be one
of thy sons (Luther). The truth of the promise, "I shall establish his
kingdom," became manifest, _e.g._, in the vain machinations of
Adonijah. That the fulfilment of this promise must be sought in the
history of Solomon, in whom the difference between the house of David
and that of Saul first became evident (instead of, "I establish," in
ver. 12, we find, in the second member of ver. 13, "I establish for
ever"), is seen from 1 Kings viii. 20, where Solomon says, "And the
Lord hath performed His word which [Pg 139] He spake; for I am risen up
in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the
Lord promised." (Compare 1 Kings ii. 12: "And Solomon sat upon the
throne of David his father, and his kingdom was established greatly.")

Ver. 13. "_He shall build an house for My name, and I establish the
throne of his kingdom for ever._"

The general establishment which was spoken of in ver. 12 precedes the
building of the temple; the eternal establishment mentioned in ver. 13
follows the building of the temple, or is coincident with it. It is
evident, that the first clause of the verse refers, in the first
instance, to the building of the temple which was undertaken by
Solomon. (Compare 1 Kings v. 19, where Solomon says, "Behold, I purpose
to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake
unto David my father, saying. Thy son whom I will set upon thy throne
in thy stead, he shall build the house unto My name.") We shall not,
however, be at liberty to confine ourselves to what Solomon, as an
individual, did for the house of the Lord. The building of the house
here goes hand in hand with the eternity of the kingdom. We expect,
therefore, that the question is not about a building of limited
duration. If a building of only a limited duration were meant, such,
surely, might have been erected long ago, even in the period of the
Judges. The contrary, however, is quite distinctly brought out in 1
Kings viii. 13, where, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon says,
"I have built Thee an house to dwell in, a fixed place for Thee to
abide in _for ever_." If, then, with the eternity of the kingdom of
David's house the eternity of the temple to be built by him be closely
bound up, the destruction of the latter can be only _temporary_, and
the consequence of the apostasy and punishment of the Davidic race,--of
which vers. 14 and 15 treat. Or, if it be definitive, it can concern
the _form_ only. If the building of the temple fall into ruins, it is
only the Davidic race from which its restoration can proceed; the local
relation of the royal palace to the temple prefigured their close
union. Hence, the building of the temple by Zerubbabel was likewise
comprehended in the words, "He shall build an house for My name." It
was impossible that the second temple could be reared otherwise than
under the direction of David's family. But we must go still farther.
The essence of the temple consists in its being a symbol, an outward
[Pg 140] representation of the kingdom of God under Israel. The real
import of our passage then is,--that henceforth the kingdom of David
and the kingdom of God should be closely and inseparably linked
together. As the third phase, therefore, in the fulfilment of our
prophecy, John ii. 19 must come under consideration: λύσατε τὸν ναὸν
τοῦτον, καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν. (Regarding the sense of
this passage, and the symbolical meaning of the tabernacle and temple,
compare "_Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pent._" vol. ii. p.
514 ff.) "House of God" is, in ver. 14 of the parallel text, used of
the Church, and in parallelism with "kingdom of God,"--a sense in which
it occurs  as early as in Num. xii. 7.[5] This _usus loquendi_ is quite
common in the New Testament; compare 1 Tim. iii. 15; 2 Cor. vi. 16;
Heb. iii. 6. In the first two phases of the temple of Solomon, the
house consists in the first instance of ordinary stones,--although,
even at that time,  the _spiritual_ is concealed behind the _material_;
but in its third phase, the material is altogether thrown off, and the
house is entirely spiritual--consisting of living stones, 1 Pet. ii.
5.--That the expression, "for ever," in the second clause of the verse,
is to be taken in its strict and full sense, is proved not only by the
threefold repetition, but also by a comparison with the numerous
secondary passages, in which the duration of the Davidic dominion
appears as absolutely unlimited. In Ps. lxxxix., for example, where the
promise is repeated, "for ever" corresponds with, "as the days of
heaven" in ver. 30,--with "as the sun" in ver. 37,--and with "as the
moon" in ver. 38. The final fulfilment of this promise is pointed out
by the words of the angel to Mary, in Luke i. 32, 33: οὗτος ἔσται μέγας
(compare ver. 9 here), καὶ υἱὸς ὑψίστου κληθήσεται (compare ver. 14),
καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τὸν θρόνον Δαυὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ. Καὶ
βασιλεύσει ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰακὼβ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, καὶ τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ
οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.

Ver. 14. "_And I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to Me.
If he commit sin, I will chastise him with the rod of men, and with the
stripes of the children of men._ Ver. 15. _And My mercy shall not
depart away from him, as I caused it to depart away from Saul, whom I
put away before thee._"

[Pg 141]

Wheresoever God is, in the Old Testament, designated as _Father_, there
is a reference to the deepest intensity of His love,--a love which is
similar to that of a father towards his son. (Compare remarks on Ps.
ii. 7.) Sonship to God has this significancy here also, as is shown by
what immediately follows, where, in explanation of it, the promise of
indestructible love is connected with it. But this relationship, in its
highest and closest form, cannot exist betwixt God and a mere man. It
is only when the Davidic family is viewed as centring in Christ, that
the words can acquire their full truth. To this, the quotation in Heb.
i. 5 points: Τίνι γὰρ εἶπέ ποτε τῶν ἀγγέλων, Υἱός μου εἶ σὺ, ἐγὼ
σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε; Καὶ πάλιν· Ἐγὼ ἔσομαι αὐτῷ εἰς πατέρα, καὶ αὐτὸς
ἔσται μοι εἰς υἱόν; The depth of meaning which is contained in these
words appears plainly from their expansion in Ps. lxxxix. 26: "And I
place his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. He shall
call Me thus: Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
And I will also make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the
earth." The sonship accordingly implies the dominion over the world,
which in Ps. ii. 7-9 appears, indeed, as inseparably connected with
it.--If the race of David commit sin, it shall be chastened with the
rods of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. Ps. xvii. 4
distinctly and unambiguously designates corrupt actions--walking in the
ways of transgressors--as "the works of men." (Compare 1 Sam. xxiv. 10;
Hos. vi. 7; Job xxxi. 33, xxiii. 12.) Hence, the rods of men, and the
stripes of the children of men, are punishments to which all men are
subject, because they are sinners, and at which no man needs to be
surprised. Grace is not to free the Davidic family from this common lot
of mankind, is not to afford to them the privilege of sinning. The
mitigation only follows in ver. 15, in which the close resumes the
beginning: "I will be a father to him." But this mitigation must not be
misunderstood by being conceived of as referring to the individuals.
Such a conception of it would be opposed to the nature of the thing
itself, would be in opposition to 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, where David says
to Solomon, "If thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; and if thou
forsake Him, He will cast thee off _for ever_:" and would be against
history, which shows that the rebellious members of the Davidic dynasty
were visited with destroying [Pg 142] judgments. The contrast is rather
thus to be understood: sin is to be visited upon the individuals, while
the grace abides continually upon the race,--so that the divine promise
is raised to an absolute one. The commentary on it is furnished by Ps.
lxxxix. 31 seq.: "If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My
judgments ... then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and
their iniquity with stripes. But My loving-kindness will I not withdraw
from him, nor will I break My faithfulness."--The words from "if he
commit sin" to "children of men" are awanting in the parallel passage.
This omission is intended to make the continuance of the mercy appear
the more distinctly, and to show, as indeed is the case, that the main
stress is to be laid upon it. We cannot for a moment conceive that any
unworthy motive prompted this omission; for the Chronicles were written
at a time when the chastening rod of the Lord had already fallen
heavily upon the Davidic race. There would have been stronger reasons
for adding the words than for omitting them, inasmuch as, under these
circumstances, they were full of consolation. It is just upon these
words that the penman of Ps. lxxiv. dwells at particular length.

Ver. 16. "_And thine house and thy kingdom shall be sure for ever
before thee, thy throne shall be firm for ever._"

The extent to which this prophecy of Nathan bears the character of a
fundamental one, appears from the circumstance that almost every word
of the verse under review has called forth an echo in later times. נאמן
_sure_, _certain_, _constant_, occurs again in Ps. lxxxix. 29, compared
with ver. 38, and in Is. lv. 3. The _sure_ (_constant_) mercies of
David, spoken of in the last of these passages, shall be bestowed upon
the people of the covenant, in the coming of Christ, by which the
perpetuity of the house of David was most fully manifested. The נכון,
_constant_, _firm_, occurs in Mic. iv. 1, and the לעולם, _for ever_, in
Ps. lxxii. 17, lxxxix. 37, xlv. 7, and cx. 4. The saying of the people
in John xii. 34, ἡμεῖς ἠκούσαμεν ἐκ τοῦ νόμου ὅτι ὁ Χριστὸς μένει εἰς
τὸν αἰῶνα, refers, in the first instance, to our passage, and all the
other texts quoted may be considered as a commentary.

It is certainly not the result of mere accident, that the twelve verses
of Nathan's prophecy are divided into two sections of seven and of five
verses respectively, and that the former again is subdivided into
sections of three and four verses. Its closing [Pg 143] words, "The
Lord will make thee an house," are farther expanded in vers. 12-16.

We subjoin to the exposition of Nathan's prophecy, that of David's
prayer of thanks, because, by means of the thanks, the promise itself
is more clearly brought out.

The Lord has done great things for His servant in his low estate, and
has promised things still more glorious, vers. 18-21. By doing such
glorious things to His servant, He has manifested Himself as a faithful
God, in harmony with His revelations in ancient times, vers. 22-24. The
thanksgivings for the promise are followed in vers. 25-29 by a prayer
for its fulfilment, intermingled with expressions of hope.

As the promise was expressed in twelve verses, so are the thanks. These
twelve verses are again divided into seven and five, and the seven into
four and three.

The name of Jehovah occurs twelve times. Ten times is the address
directed to Jehovah. Once He is addressed by the simple name of
Jehovah, six times by that of Adonai Jehovah, twice by that of Jehovah
Elohim, and once by that of Jehovah Zebaoth. The address, Adonai
Jehovah, occurs at the beginning and the close. The third division
first takes up the name of God which is used in the second, and
returns, at the close, to that which is used in the first division. In
the parallel passage in Chronicles, Jehovah occurs seven times, and
Elohim three times.--Ten times the servant of the Lord is mentioned in
David's prayer, and seven times, the house of David. The servant of the
Lord occurs three times in vers. 18-21, and seven times in vers. 25-29;
the house of David twice in 18-21, and five times in vers. 25-29. In
vers. 22-24, where the manifestation of the mercies to David are
brought into connection with the glorious revelations of God in ancient
times, neither the servant nor the house is mentioned.

Ver. 18. "_And King David came and sat before the Lord, and said: Who
am I, Lord Jehovah, and what my house_ (literally, _who_ my house,--the
house being conceived of as an _ideal_ person), _that Thou hast brought
me hitherto?_"

Moses also was sitting in long-continued prayer, Exod. xvii. 12. David,
as a true descendant of Jacob (Gen. xxxii. 10), acknowledges his
unworthiness of the great mercies bestowed upon him. The comparison of
Ps. cxliv. 3 is still more striking [Pg 144] than that of Ps. viii. 5;
for, in the former, the words, "Lord, what is man, that Thou takest
knowledge of him; the son of mortal man, that Thou hast regard to him?"
were uttered in praise of the adorable mercy which the Lord had shown
to his house.

Ver. 19. "_And this is yet too little in Thy sight, Lord Jehovah; and
Thou speakest also to the house of Thy servant of things far distant;
and this is the law of man, Lord Jehovah._"

The word תורה has only the signification of _law_. Gesenius, in
assigning to it the signification of _mos_, _consuetudo_, has no other
warrant for it than our passage. The law of any one is the law which
has been given for him, or which concerns him; compare Lev. vi. 2 (9):
"This is the law of the burnt-offering;" Lev. xiii. 7: "This is the law
for her that hath born;" Lev. xiv. 2: "This shall be the law of the
leper," etc. Hence the law of man can only be the law regulating the
conduct of man. Man is commanded in the law: "Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself;" compare Mic. vi. 8: "He hath showed, O man, what
is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justice, and
to _love kindness_, and to walk humbly before thy God?" The fact that
God should, in His conduct towards poor mortals, follow the rule which
He hath given to men for their conduct towards one another, and that He
shows Himself to be full of mercy and love, cannot but fill him who
knows God and himself with adoring wonder. The words in Ps. xviii. 36
are parallel: "Thou givest me the shield of Thy salvation, and Thy
right hand holdeth me up, and Thy meekness (the parallel passage in 2
Sam. has: 'Thy being low') maketh me great." In the parallel passage in
Chronicles the words are these: "And Thou hast regarded me according to
the law of man (concerning תורה = תור compare remarks on Song of Sol.
i. 10), Thou height, Jehovah God." The essential agreement of the sense
of the parallel passage with that of the fundamental passage, may be
applied as a test to prove the correctness of our exposition. "To
regard some one" is used for "to visit some one," "to have intercourse
with some one;" compare 2 Sam. iii. 13, xiii. 5, xiv. 24, 28; 2 Kings
viii. 29. The words, "Thou height" (God is represented as personified
height in Ps. xcii. 9: "And Thou art a height for evermore, O Lord"),
bring out still more prominently the contrast with human lowness, which
was already implied in the names of [Pg 145] God, Adonai Jehovah, and
Jehovah Elohim, and serves therefore to show still more distinctly the
condescension of God, whose revelation on this occasion was a prelude
to ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. _Luther_ has introduced into the main text a
direct allusion to the incarnation of God in Christ. He translates,
"This is the manner of a man who is God the Lord;" and adds, in a
marginal note, the following remark: "This means, Thou speakest to me
of such an eternal kingdom, in which no one can be king unless he be
God and man at the same time, because he is to be my son and yet a king
for evermore--which belongs to God alone." But this single circumstance
is sufficient to overthrow this view:--that in the preceding, as well
as in the subsequent context, Adonai Jehovah is always used in the
vocative sense.

Ver. 20. "_And what shall David say more unto Thee?_ (In the parallel
passage: 'As regards the honour for Thy servant.') _And Thou knowest
Thy servant, Lord Jehovah._"

It is not necessary that David should make many words, in order to
express his thanks, as his thankful heart lies open before God. In
Ps. xl. 10, David also appeals to the testimony of the Omniscient
as regards his thankful heart: "I preach righteousness in the
great congregation; lo, I will not refrain my lips, O Lord, Thou
knowest,"--knowest how with my whole heart I am thankful for Thy great
mercy. It is, in general, David's practice to appeal to God, the
Searcher of hearts; compare, _e.g._, Ps. xvii. 3.

Ver. 21. "_For Thy word's sake, and according to Thine own heart, hast
Thou done all these great things to make Thy servant know them._"

In 1 Chron. xvii. 19, the words run thus: "Lord, on account of Thy
_servant_, and according to Thine own heart, hast Thou done all these
great things, to make known all the glorious things." Hence, by the
"word," a promise given to David can alone be intended,--a word
formerly spoken to David, which contained the germ of the present one.
There is, no doubt, a special allusion to the word in 1 Sam. xvi. 12:
"And the Lord said. Arise and anoint him, for this is he." (Compare 2
Sam. xii. 7; Ps. lxxxix. 21; Acts xiii. 22.) _According to Thine
heart_: "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and [Pg 146]
plenteous in mercy," Ps. ciii. 8. _All these great things_,--_i.e._ the
promise of the eternal dominion of his house. גְּדֻלָּה and גְּדיּלָה--words in
which David takes special delight--never mean "greatness," but always
"great things." (Compare remarks on Ps. lxxi. 21, cxlv. 3.) The words,
"To make know," etc., indicate that the _making_ refers, in the
meantime, only to the divine decree.

Ver. 22. "_Wherefore Thou art great, Lord God: for there is none like
Thee, neither is there any God besides Thee, according to all that we
have heard with our ears._"

_Wherefore_--in the first instance, on account of the great things
which Thou hast done unto me. _According to all_, etc., _i.e._, as this
is confirmed by all, etc. Of this David has been reminded anew by his
personal experience. Just as he does here, David, in Ps. xl. 6, rises
from his personal experience to the whole series of God's glorious
manifestations in the history of His people. As to the words, "There is
none like Thee, neither is there any God besides Thee," compare the
fundamental passages Exod. xv. 11; Deut. iii. 24, iv. 35.

Ver. 23. "_And where is there a nation on earth like Thy people
Israel, for whose sake God went to redeem them for a people to
Himself, and make Him a name, and to do for you great things, and
terrible things for Thy land, putting away from before Thy people,
whom Thou redeemedst to Thee out of Egypt, heathen and their gods?_"
We must here compare the fundamental passages, Deut. iv. 7, 34, xxxiii.
29, in which that which Israel has received from his God is praised,
as being without precedent and parallel. In לכם and לארצך the address
is, with poetical liveliness, directed to Israel. _For you great
things_--instead of, To do for them great things, as the Lord has done
for you. The phrase מפני עמך means, literally, only, "away from before
Thy people;" "putting" must be supplied from the preceding לעשית, and
from a comparison of the fundamental passages, Exod. xxiii. 28, 29,
xxxiv. 11; Deut. xxxiii. 27, to which the concise expression refers.
The text in Chronicles, which expressly adds what we have here to
supply, לגרש מפני, "to drive out before," is, in this case also, merely
a parallel passage which, by the addition of a word, serves as a

Ver. 24. "_And Thou hast confirmed to Thyself Thy people_ [Pg 147]
_Israel to be a people for ever, and Thou, Lord, art become their

Ver. 25. "_And now, Jehovah God, the word that Thou hast spoken
concerning Thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for
ever, and do as Thou hast said._"

Praise and thanks for the promise are followed by the prayer for its

Ver. 26. "_And let Thy name be magnified for ever, so that it may be
said, Jehovah Zebaoth_ (is) _God over Israel. And the house of Thy
servant shall be firm before Thee._"

_Let Thy name be magnified_, instead of, Give cause for its being
glorified; compare Ps. xxxv. 27, xl. 17.--_Is God over Israel_, _i.e._,
proves Himself to be such, by protecting the house of the king, on whom
the salvation of Israel depends. In Chronicles it is thus expressed:
"Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel, is God for Israel," _i.e._. He
fulfils to Israel what He promised (Jarchi). The prayer for the
establishment of David's house is expressed in the form of confidence,
in the conviction based upon the word of God, that such is according to
the will of God.

Ver. 27. "_For Thou, Jehovah Zebaoth, God of Israel, hast opened the
ear of Thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house. Therefore Thy
servant found_ (in) _his heart to pray this prayer unto Thee._"
(Otherwise, his heart would have failed him; he would have had neither
the desire nor the courage.) Ver. 28. "_And now, Lord Jehovah, Thou art
God, and Thy words are truth, and Thou hast promised unto Thy servant
these good things._ Ver. 29. _And now let it please Thee to bless the
house of Thy servant, that it may continue for ever before Thee; for
Thou, Lord Jehovah, hast spoken, and, by Thy blessing, the house of Thy
servant shall be blessed for ever._"

                                * * * * *

To whom does this promise refer, which David received through Nathan?
Some Rabbins, and _Grotius_, would fain restrict it to Solomon and his
more immediate posterity. This opinion, however, is refuted by the
single circumstance, that they are compelled to assume merely a long
duration of time, instead of the eternity which is here promised to the
house of David. And that such cannot be the meaning of the words "for
ever," is abundantly confirmed by a comparison with [Pg 148] Ps.
lxxxix. 30, "And I place his seed for ever, and his throne as the days
of heaven." In these words of the Psalm there is a reference to Deut.
xi. 21, where the _people_ of the Lord are promised a duration "as the
days of heaven and of earth." An absolute perpetuity is everywhere
ascribed to the people of God. If, then, the house of David is placed
on the same level as they, its perpetuity must likewise be absolute.
_Further_,--with such a view, it is impossible to comprehend what David
here says in his prayer, regarding the greatness of the promise, and
also what he says in Ps. cxxxviii. 2: "For Thou hast magnified Thy word
above all Thy name." The giving of the promise is there placed on a
loftier elevation than all the former deeds of the Lord.

Others--as _Calovius_--would refer the promise to Christ alone. But
vers. 14, 15 are decisive against this view; for, according to them,
God will not, by a total rejection, punish the posterity of David, if
they commit sin,--from which the reference is evident to a posterity
merely human, and hence sinful. According to ver. 13, David's posterity
is to build a temple to the Lord,--a declaration which, with reference
to David's plan of building a temple to the Lord, can, in the first
instance, be understood in no other way than as relating to the earthly
temple to be built by Solomon. To this consideration it may be added,
that, in 1 Chron. xxii. 9 seqq., David himself refers this announcement
primarily to Solomon, and that Solomon, in 1 Kings v. 5 seqq., and in 2
Chron. vi. 7 seqq., refers it to himself.

Nor is there entire soundness in the view of those who, following
_Augustine_ (_de Civitate Dei_ xvii. 8, 9), assume the existence of a
double reference,--to Solomon and his earthly successors on the one
hand, and to Christ on the other. Thus _Brentius_: "Solomon is not
altogether excluded, but Christ is chiefly intended." It is true that
these interpreters are substantially right in their view; but they err
as to the manner in which they give expression to it. The promise has
not a reference to two subjects simultaneously.[6] It views David's
house as an _ideal_ unity.

[Pg 149]

The promise is given to the house of David, vers. 11, 16, 19, 25,
26, 27, 29; to his seed, ver. 12. It is to the house of David that
the absolute perpetuity of existence, the unchangeable possession of
the grace of God--a relation to God similar to that of a son to his
father--and the inseparable connection of their dominion with the
kingdom of God in Israel, are guaranteed.

Footnote 1: _Seb. Schmid_ says: "He thought that this duty was imposed
upon him by the Word of God. For, as the state enjoyed peace, the royal
palace was finished, and his family established, there seemed to be
nothing wanting but to build a temple to the Lord."

Footnote 2: In 1 Kings viii. 16, Solomon thus reports what, in 2 Sam.
vii., had been spoken to David, in reference to the house of the Lord:
"Since the day that I brought up My people Israel out of Egypt, I chose
no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house that My name
might be in it; and I chose David to be over My people Israel." The
comment on this passage is given by the parallel one, 2 Chron. vi. 5,
6: "I did not choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. And I
have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen
David to be over My people Israel." Since David resided in Jerusalem,
the election of David, announced in 2 Sam. vii., implies also the
choice of Jerusalem as the place of the sanctuary. Hence, we must add
to 1 Kings viii. 16, the supplement: "And in connection with this
choice, David (the Davidic dynasty) is to build Me an house at the
place of his residence." The Vulgate translates very correctly: _Sed
elegi._ Solomon then continues, _Ver._ 17: "And it was in the heart of
David my father (namely, before he received this divine revelation) to
build an house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. _Ver._ 18.
And the Lord said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart
to build an house unto My name, thou didst well that it was in thine
heart. _Ver._ 19. And thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that
shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto My

Footnote 3: _Seb. Schmid_ says: "He rightly considers the tribes and
the judges as one. For the tribes are viewed in the judges who had
sprung from them, and _vice versa_, the judge, in his paternal tribe.
And that the matter is thus to be understood, is clear, because, in
Chronicles, where the judge is spoken of, he is introduced in the
plural: 'Why have _ye_ not built Me an house,' etc.? viz., thou, judge,
with thy tribe."

Footnote 4: That נוה, properly "habitation," "abode," is used here, as
frequently, of the sheep-cote, is shown by Ps. lxxxviii. 70, which is
based upon our passage.

Footnote 5: Michaelis says: "Just as in the preceding verses also, the
house of David did not mean a heap of stones and wood brought together,
but a congregation of people."

Footnote 6: This mistake was corrected by _Seb. Schmid_. He says: "The
promises here given to David have, of course, a reference to Solomon;
but not such as if they were to be fulfilled only in the person of
Solomon, and not also in his posterity, and, most of all, in the
Messiah to be descended from David and Solomon."

There is no direct mention of the person of the Messiah; and yet the
words, when considered in their full import, point, indirectly, to Him.
The absolute perpetuity of the race can be conceived of, only when at
last it centres in some superhuman person. But still more decisive is
the connection in which this promise stands to Gen. xlix. The dominion
which is there promised to Judah is here transferred to David. It is
then to David's race that the exalted individual must belong, in whom,
according to Gen. xlix. 10, Judah's dominion is to centre at some
future period. That David really connected the promise which he
received with Gen. xlix. 10, is shown by 1 Chron. xxviii. 4 (compare p.
91), and also by the name, Solomon, which he gave to his son; compare
ibid. That Solomon also founded his hopes regarding the future upon a
combination of Gen. xlix. and 2 Sam. vii., is shown by Ps. lxxii.,
which was composed by him; compare pp. 91, 92.

But, as respects this combination, David was not left to himself.
He received further light from the source from which the promise
had come to him. Although his mission was not properly a prophetic
one,--although, in the main, it belonged to him to describe poetically
what had come to him through prophetic inspiration, yet prophetic
inspiration and sacred lyric are frequently commingled in him. The man
who is "the sweet psalmist of Israel" claims a נאם in 2 Sam. xxiii. 1,
and, in ver. 2, says that the Spirit of God spake by him, and His word
was upon his tongue. In Acts ii. 30, 31, Peter declares that, by the
divine promise, David received, first the impulse, and afterwards
further illumination, by the prophetic spirit dwelling in him. The
latter declaration, moreover, rests on the testimony of the Lord
Himself, in Matt. xxii. 43, where He says that in Ps. cx., David had
spoken ἐν πνεύματι, _i.e._, seized with the Holy Spirit.

It is true that, in a series of Psalms, David is not any more [Pg 150]
explicit and definite than the fundamental prophecy, but speaks only of
the grace which the Lord had conferred upon the Davidic race by the
promise of a dominion which should outlast all earthly things. Thus it
is in Ps. xviii., where, in the presence of the congregation, he offers
those thanks which previously he had, as it were, privately expressed,
for the glorious promise made to him;--in Ps. xi., where, in the name
of the people, he expresses thankful joy for this same promise;--in
Ps. lxi. and in the cycle of Psalms from Ps. cxxxviii. to cxlv.--the
prophetic legacy of David--in which, at the beginning, in Ps.
cxxxviii., he praises the Lord for His promise of eternal mercy given
to him, and then, with the torch of promise, lightens up the darkness
of the sufferings that are to fall upon this house,--Psalms with which
Ps. lxxxix. and cxxxix., which were composed at a later period, and by
other writers, are closely connected.

But there are other Psalms (ii. and cx.) in which David, with a
distinctness which can be accounted for only by divine revelation,
beholds the Messiah in whose coming the promise in 2 Sam. vii. should
find its final and complete fulfilment. Whilst David, in these Psalms,
represents the Messiah as his antitype, as the mighty conqueror, who
will not rest until He shall have subjected the whole earth to His
sway, Solomon, in Ps. lxxii., represents Him as the true Prince of
Peace, and His dominion, as a just and peaceful rule. The circumstances
of the time of Solomon form, in a similar way, the foundation for the
description of the Messiah in Ps. xlv., which was written by the sons
of Korah.

A personal Messianic element is contained in some of those Davidic
Psalms also which refer to the _ideal_ person of the _righteous one_,
whose image we at last find fully portrayed in the Book of Wisdom. In
these the sufferings of the righteous one in a world of sin are
described, as well as the glorious issue to which he attains by the
help of the Lord. After his own experience, David could not have
doubted that, notwithstanding the glorious promise of the Lord, severe
sufferings were impending over his family, and over Him in whom that
family was, at some future time, to centre. But his own experience
likewise promised a glorious issue to these sufferings. The Psalms in
which, besides the reference to the righteous one, and to the [Pg 151]
people, the allusion to the afflictions of the Davidic race, and to the
suffering Messiah, most plainly appear, are the xxii., the cii., and
the cix.

There cannot be any doubt that the Messianic promise made considerable
progress in the time of David. It is, in itself, a circumstance of
great importance that the eyes of the people were henceforth directed
to a definite family; for, thereby, their hopes acquired greater
consistency. _Further_,--The former prophecies were, all of them, much
shorter, and more in the shape of hints; but, now, their hopes could
become detailed descriptions, because a _substratum_ was given to them
in the present. The Messiah had been foretold to David as a successor
to his throne,--as a King. Hence it was, that, in the view of David
himself and of the other psalmists, the earthly head of the
Congregation of the Lord formed the _substratum_ for the future
Saviour. The naked thought now clothed itself with flesh and blood. The
hope gained thereby in clearness and distinctness, as well as in
practical significance.

The slight hint of a higher nature of the Messiah, given in Gen. xlix.
8, forms the main ground for the advancing and more definite knowledge,
which we find in the days of David and Solomon. Grand and lofty
expectations could, henceforth, not fail to be connected with the
promise in 2 Sam. vii. 14, "I will be a father to him, and he shall be
a son to Me," and with the prophecy of the absolute perpetuity of
dominion, in the same passage. In Ps. ii. 12, the Messiah appears as
the Son of God κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν,--as He, in whom to trust is to be saved,
and whose anger brings destruction. In Ps. cx. 1, He appears as the
Lord of the Congregation and of David himself,--as sitting at the right
hand of omnipotence, and as invested with a full participation in the
divine power over heaven and earth. In Ps. lxxi. eternity of dominion
is ascribed to Him. In Ps. xlv. 7, 8, He is called God, Elohim.

Among the offices of Christ, it is especially the _Regal_ office on
which a clear light has been shed. The Messiah appears prominently as
He "who has dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends
of the earth," Ps. lxxii. 8. In Ps. cx., however, the office of the
Messiah as the eternal _High Priest_ is first revealed to the
congregation. He appears as the person who atones for whatever sins
cleave to His people, as their Intercessor [Pg 152] and Advocate with
God, and as the Mediator of the closest communion with God. We have
here the outlines, for the filling up of which Isaiah was, at a later
period, called. The _Prophetic_ office of the Saviour does not
distinctly appear in the Psalms. It was reserved for Isaiah to bring
out into a clearer light the allusion given, on this subject, by Moses,
after it had been taken up again, for the first time since Moses' day,
by the prophet Joel.

It was quite natural that David, who himself was exercised and proved
by the cross, should be the first to introduce to the knowledge of the
Church a _suffering Messiah_. But the doctrine has with him still the
character of a germ; he still mixes up the references to the Messiah
with the allusions to His types. It was from these that David rose to
Him; it was from their destiny that David, by the Holy Spirit, inferred
what would befall Him. Nowhere, however, has David directly and
exclusively to do with a suffering Messiah, as had, afterwards, the
prophet Isaiah.

In all that respects the Psalms, we must content ourselves with merely
a passing glance, lest we encroach too much upon the territory which
belongs to the Commentary on the Psalms. But "the last words of David,"
preserved to us in the Books of Samuel, we shall make the subject of a
more minute consideration, inasmuch as they form a connecting link
between the two classes of Psalms which rest on the promise in 2
Sam. vii., viz., those referring to David's house and family, and
those relating to the personal Messiah. The "ruler among men" whom we
meet in these "last words," is, in the first instance, an _ideal_
person,--viz., the Davidic race conceived of as a person; but the
_ideal_ points to the _real_ person, in whom all that had been foretold
of the Davidic family should, at some future period, find its full
realization. It is with a view to this person, that the personification
has been employed.

                          2 SAMUEL XXIII. 1-7.

The last words of David are comprehended in seven verses; and these,
again, are subdivided into sections of five and two [Pg 153] verses
respectively. First, there is a description of the fulness of blessings
which the dominion of the just ruler shall carry along with it, and
then of the destruction which shall overtake hostile wickedness.

It is not by accident that these last words are not found in the
collection of Psalms. The reason is indicated by the נאם There is a
prophetic element in the lyric poetry of David wheresoever it refers to
the future destiny of his house; but this prophetic element rises,
here, at the close of his life, to pure prophetic inspiration and
utterance, which stand on an equal footing with the prophecy of Nathan
in 2 Sam. vii., and claim an equal authority.

Ver. 1. "_And these are the last words of David. David, the son of
Jesse, prophesies, and the man prophesies who was raised up on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob, and sweet in the Psalms of Israel._"

It is substantially the same thing, whether we understand: "the last
words of David" or "the latter words of David"--later in reference to
xxi. 1. For even Ps. xviii., which precedes in chap. xxii., belongs,
according to its inscription and contents, to the last times of David;
it is, as it were, "a grand Hallelujah with which he withdraws from the
scene of life." But, at all events, there is a closer connection with
that Psalm; in it, too, David has in view the future destiny of his
race, and we have here, in the last words, the prophetic conclusion of
the lyrical effusion there. From this connection with chap. xxii., the
closer limitation of the "words" follows. We learn from it that _holy_
words only can be meant. The solemn introduction, and the parallelism
with the blessings of Jacob and Moses, fully agree with and confirm
this our introductory remark regarding the chronological position of
these "words."--There can be no doubt that, in this introduction, there
is a reference to Balaam's prophecy in Num. xxiv. 3,--and this goes far
to prove how much David was occupied with the views which men of God
had formerly opened up into future times:--"And he took up his parable
and said: Balaam the son of Beor prophesies, and the man who had his
eyes shut, prophesies: He prophesies who hears the words of God, who
sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down and having his eyes
open." The remarks which we made on that passage find here also a
strict application: [Pg 154] "Balaam begins with a simple designation
of his person, and then, in the following members, adds designations of
such qualities of this person as here come into consideration, and
serve for affording a foundation to the נאם with which he opens his
discourse." As נאם always has the signification, "word of God,"
"revelation," it can here be ascribed to David, as it was in the
fundamental passage to Balaam, only in as far as the word has been
received by, and communicated to, him. The על, "upon," "over," stands
here for "on high,"[1]--those over whom David has been raised up being
omitted in order to express the absolute sovereignty bestowed upon
David, more, however, in his posterity, than in his own person.
(Compare Ps. xviii. 44: "Thou makest me the head of the heathen;" and
in ver. 48: "God who avengeth me, and subdueth people under me.") _He
who was raised up on high_--With the exception of the bodily ancestor
and the lawgiver, of none under the Old Testament could this be with so
much truth affirmed, as of David, the founder of the royal house,
which, in all eternity, was to be the channel of blessings for the
Congregation of the Lord, and to which, at last, all power in heaven
and on earth was to be given. _The anointed of the God of Jacob_--Such
is David, not only as an individual, but also as the representative of
his race; compare Ps. xviii. 51. He is pre-eminently the anointed, the
Christ of God.--זמיר plur. זמירית signifies, according to derivation
and usage, not _song_ or _hymn_ in general, but the hymn in the higher
strain, the skilful, solemn song of praise; compare my commentary on
Song of Sol. ii. 12. David's Psalms are called זמירות of Israel,
because he sang them as the organ of the congregation, and because they
were appointed to be used in public worship; compare Comment, on
Psalms, vol. iii. p. vi. _Sweet in Psalms of Israel_ here finds its
place only on the supposition that David, in his Psalms, spoke in the
Spirit, Matt. xxii. 41-46; compare Commentary on Psalms, vol. iii. p.
vii. viii. The most distinguished excellence in poetry which is [Pg
155] merely human cannot form a foundation for the assertion in ver. 2.
But if, on the other hand, David be an often times tried organ of the
Spirit for the Church, it cannot surprise us that in ver. 2 he even
declares that, in the Spirit, he there foretells the future. Thus the
נאם in our verse also has a good foundation.

Ver. 2. "_The Spirit of the Lord spake to me, and His word is upon my
tongue._" That דבר refers to the communication which David promulgates
in the sequel, and not to other revelations which he had formerly
received, appears from its relation to the נאם in ver. 1. We should
lose the new revelation announced in ver. 1, if ver. 2, and, hence,
ver. 3 also--for the אמר there evidently resumes the דבר--refer to
divine revelations which David, or, as _Thenius_ supposes, even some
other person, had formerly received.--בי is not "through me," for in
that case the Participle would have been used instead of the Preterite;
nor "in me," for that is contradicted by the parallel passages in which
דבר occurs with ב; but "into me," which is stronger than "to me," and
marks the deeply penetrating power of the revelation by the Spirit;
compare remarks on Hosea i. 2. Such being the case, the Preterite is
quite in its proper place; for the inward revelation, the נאם יהוה
precedes the communication--the נאם דוד. (On the whole verse, 1 Pet. i.
11, 2 Pet.  i. 21, are to be compared.)

Ver. 3. "_The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me: a
Ruler over men--just; a Ruler--fear of God._"

The omission of the verb, "will be or rise," is quite suited to the
concise and abrupt style of the divine word. The mention of God, the
Rock of Israel, shows that the revelation has a reference to what is
done for the good of the people of God,--of His Church. For her good,
the glorious Ruler shall be raised. (Compare the words, ἀντελάβετο
Ἰσραὴλ παιδὸς αὑτοῦ, in Luke i. 54, as also ver. 68, and ii. 32.) The
appellation. Rock of Israel, indicates God's immutability,
trustworthiness, and inviolable faithfulness; compare my comment, on
Psalm xviii. 3, 32-47. The connection betwixt Ps. xviii. and the "last
words of David" here also clearly appears. The fundamental passage is
Deut. xxxii. 4.--That _men_ must be conceived of as the subjects of
dominion, is proved by Ps. xviii. 44, where David is made the head of
nations, and people whom he has not known [Pg 156] serve him,--and by
ver. 45, where the sons of the stranger do homage to him,--and by ver.
48: "Who subdues people under me."--_A Ruler_--_fear_ of God, _i.e._, a
Ruler who shall, as it were, be fear of God itself--personified fear of
God. We must here compare the expression, "This man is the peace," Mic.
v. 4, and, as to the substance of the expression. Is. xi. 2, "And the
Spirit of the Lord rests upon him ... the spirit of knowledge and of
the fear of the Lord." We might be disposed to refer this exclusively
to the person of the Messiah, especially when those Psalms are compared
which refer to a personal Messiah. But Ps. xviii.--which here receives,
as it were, its prophetic seal--and especially the relation of ver. 3
and 4 to ver. 5, where David speaks of his house, prove that the Ruler
here is, primarily, only an ideal person, viz., the seed of David
spoken of in Ps. xviii. 51. Things so glorious can, however, be
ascribed to it only with a reference to the august personage in whom
that seed will centre at the end of days,--the righteous Branch, whom
the Lord will raise up unto David (Jer. xxiii. 5), who executeth
judgment and righteousness on earth, Jer. xxxiii. 15. David knew too
well what human nature is, and what is in man, to have expected any
such thing from the collective body, as such.

Ver. 4. "_And as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, a
mourning without clouds; by brightness, by rain,--grass out of the

In the first hemistich we have to supply: will be His appearance in its
loveliness and saving importance. The morning elsewhere also,
especially in the Psalms (compare remarks on Ps. lix. 17; Song of Sol.
iii. 1), is used as the emblem of salvation. The condition of men
before the appearance of the Ruler among them, is, in its destitution,
like dark night.--The _brightness_ is that of the Ruler, as the
spiritual Sun, the Sun of Salvation. (Compare Mal. iii. 20 [iv. 2],
where righteousness is represented as the sun rising to those who fear
God.) The _rain_--the warm, mild rain, not the winter's rain which, in
the Song of Sol. ii. 11, and elsewhere, occurs as an emblem of
affliction and judgment--is the emblem of blessing (compare Is. xliv.
3, where "rain" is explained by "blessing"). The _grass_, which springs
up out of the earth by means of sunshine and rain, is emblematical of
the fruits and effects of salvation. [Pg 157] (Compare Is. xlv. 8,
where, in consequence of the rain of salvation pouring down from the
skies, the earth brings forth salvation and righteousness.) The passage
in Ps. lxxii. 6 is parallel, where Solomon says of his Antitype, "He
shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers watering the
earth." The figure of the rain making fresh grass to spring up is there
likewise employed to designate the blessings of the Messianic time.

Ver. 5. "_For is not thus my house with God? For He has made with me an
everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and kept; for all my
salvation, and all pleasure,--should He not make it to grow?_"
The special revelation which David received at the close of his life
(compare the remarks on נאם in ver. 1) is here connected with the
fundamental promise in 2 Sam. vii., which was thereby anew confirmed to
him. Those who, like _De Wette_ and _Thenius_, mistake the correct
sense of vers. 3 and 4, are not a little perplexed by the "_for_"
at the beginning of this verse, and attempt in vain to account for
it.--_Thus_, _i.e._, as it had been told in what precedes.--ערוכה,
"prepared," "ordered," forms the contrast to what is only half
finished, indefinite, depending upon circumstances and conditions,
admitting of provisions and exceptions. The extent to which all
interposing obstacles were excluded, or rather, had been considered and
calculated upon beforehand, appears especially from 2 Sam. vii. 14, 15,
according to which, even the most fatal of all interpositions--the
apostasy of the bearers of the covenant--should not destroy the
covenant,--should not annul the gracious promise made to the race.
_Kept_, _i.e._, firm, inviolable, because given by Him who keepeth
covenant and mercy, Deut. vii. 9; Dan. ix. 4. In 1 Kings viii. 25,
Solomon prays, "And now, Lord God of Israel, keep with Thy servant
David my father what Thou promisedst him when Thou saidst. There shall
not be cut off unto thee a man from My sight to sit on the throne of
Israel." The second "_for_" points out the cause of _kept_. _All
pleasure_, _i.e._, all that is well-pleasing to me, all that my heart
desires. The preceding ישעי serves the purpose of qualifying it more
definitely. The object of David's desires is, accordingly, his
salvation, the glory of his house.

Ver. 6. "_And wickedness, like thorns, they will all be driven away;
for not will any one take them into his hands._"

The subject treated of in this verse is: the Ruler among men [Pg 158]
in His relation to His enemies. To those He is as formidable as His
appearance is blessed to those who surrender themselves to Him. In Ps.
xviii. also, there is a celebration of the indomitable power which the
Lord grants to David, His anointed, and to his seed against all their
enemies; compare ver. 38: "I pursue mine enemies and overtake them, and
do not turn again till they are consumed; ver. 39, I crush them and
they cannot rise, they fall under my feet." In the cycle of Psalms from
cxxxviii. to cxlv., David likewise speaks of the dangers which threaten
his house from enemies, and the leading thought of Ps. ii. is: the
Messiah as the conqueror of His enemies. The eyes of David were the
more opened to this circumstance, the more he himself had had to
contend against adversaries.--בליעל always means unworthiness in a
moral point of view, "wickedness," "vileness." _Wickedness_ is here
used in the concrete sense = the wicked ones, the sons of wickedness,
Deut. xiii. 14. The wicked ones, the enemies of the Church, are
compared to the thorns, on account of their pricking nature; and
therefore their end is like that of thorns, they will be thrown aside
like them. In Ezek. xxiv. 28, after the judgment upon the neighbouring
people has been proclaimed, it is said, "And there shall remain no more
a pricking brier everywhere round about the house of Israel, where
their enemies are, nor a grieving thorn;" compare Num. xxxiii. 55; Song
of Sol. ii. 2; Is. xxvii. 4; Nahum i. 10.--מנד, the _Partic. Hoph._ of
נוד, "thrust out," "put to flight" (compare Ps. xxxvi. 12), cannot be
applied to the thorns, but only to the men. _Like thorns_, _i.e._, so
that they become like thorns, of which the land is cleared. _For not
will any one take them into his hands_--_Michaelis_: _Intractabiles

Ver. 7. "_And if any one toucheth them, he is filled with iron, and the
staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burnt with fire where they

The two members of vers. 6 and 7 stand in an inverted relation to each
other. In ver. 6, we have, first, the punishment described, and then
their hostile nature, by which the punishment was called forth. In ver.
7, we have, first, the cause, and then the consequence. The thought in
the first member is: every touch of them bears a hostile character.
_Iron_--instead of weapons fabricated of iron; comp. 1 Sam. xvii. 7;
Job xx. 24, xli. 19 compared with vers. 18, 20; Jer. xv. 12. [Pg 159]
בשבת, literally, "in the dwelling" (compare Ps. xxiii. 6, xxvii. 4;
Deut. xxx. 20) instead of "where they dwell," shows that in their own
borders they shall be visited and overtaken by retribution. בשבת cannot
have the signification, "without delay," ascribed to it by _Thenius_.

Footnote 1: תחת, "below," "beneath," "under," is often used
adverbially, _e.g._ Gen. xlix. 25. על, in the signification "on high,"
occurs also in Hosea xi. 7,--less certainly in Hos. vii. 16. For,
according to 2 Chron. xxx. 9, that passage may be explained; "they
return, not _to_," _i.e._, there is the mere commencement of
conversion, but not the attainment of the end. On הוקם Deut. xxviii. 36
is to be compared.

                          THE SONG OF SOLOMON.

An important link in the chain of the Messianic hopes is formed by the
Song of Solomon. It is intimately associated with Ps. lxxii., which was
written by Solomon, and represents the Messiah as the Prince of Peace,
imperfectly prefigured by Solomon as His type. As in this Psalm, so
also in the Song of Solomon, the coming of the Messiah forms the
subject throughout, and He is introduced there under the name of
Solomon, the Peaceful One. His coming shall be preceded by severe
afflictions, represented under the emblems of the scorching heat of the
sun, of winter, of rain, of dark nights, and of the desert. Connected
with this coming is the reception of the heathen nations into His
kingdom, and this, through the medium of the old Covenant-people.

Thus far the first part, down to chap. v. 1. The subjects contained in
the second part are, the sin of the daughter of Zion against the
heavenly Solomon and the judgment; then, repentance and reunion, which
will be accomplished by the co-operation of the daughters of Jerusalem,
_i.e._, of the very heathen nations who had formerly received salvation
through them; the complete re-establishment of the old relation of
love, in consequence of which the daughter of Zion again occupies the
centre of the kingdom of God; and the indissoluble nature of this
covenant of love now anew entered into, in contrast with the
instability of the former.

The Song of Solomon does not, strictly speaking, possess a prophetical
character. It does not communicate any new revelations; like the
Psalms, it only represents, in a poetical form, things already known.
It sufficiently appears from our former statement, that, in the first
part of this book, not one feature occurs which did not form a part of
those Messianic prophecies [Pg 160] which we can prove to have been
known at the time of Solomon. In the second part, however, it is
somewhat different. No corresponding parallel can be adduced from any
former time to the view, that a great part of the people would reject
the salvation offered to them in Christ, and, thereby, draw down
judgment upon themselves. Yet, all that the book under consideration
contains upon this point, is only the application of a general truth,
the knowledge of which the Covenant-people had received at the very
beginning of their history. A consideration of human nature in general,
and more especially of Israel's character, as it had been deeply and
firmly impressed upon the people by the Mosaic law, joined to the ample
experience which history had afforded in this respect, sufficiently
convinced those who were more enlightened, that it could not be by any
means expected--that, indeed, it was even impossible--that, at the
coming of the Messiah, the whole people would sincerely and heartily
receive Him, and do homage to Him. And there existed, on the other
hand, at the time of Solomon also, the foundation for the doctrine of
the final restoration of the people. For, even in the Pentateuch, the
election of Israel by God is represented as irrevocable and absolute,
and which, therefore, must at last triumph over all apostasy and
Covenant-breaking on the part of the people.

The Song of Solomon, then, is no _apocalypsis_, no revelation of
mysteries till then unknown. There is in it no such disclosure as is,
_e.g._, that in 2 Sam. vii., on the descent of the Messiah from David;
or, as is that in Mic. v. 1 (2), on His being born at Bethlehem; or
even as is that in Is. liii. on His office as a High Priest, and His
vicarious satisfaction. But, nevertheless, we must not imagine the case
to have been thus, that the contents of the Song of Solomon could have
originated merely from reflection on the part of Solomon. The truths
hitherto revealed had too much of the character of mere germs to allow
us to suppose that from them, and in such a way, we could account for
the clearness and certainty with which they have been blended into one
whole. Another element, moreover, must be joined to the historical
ground--viz., an elevated condition of the soul, a "being in the
Spirit,"--a breathing of the divine Spirit upon the human. History
bears witness that such prophetic states, in the wider sense, were not
strange to Solomon. It twice [Pg 161] reports about the Lord's having
appeared to him, 1 Kings iii. 5, ix. 2. From such an elevated state of
soul, his dedicatory prayer, in 1 Kings viii., and Ps. lxxii., also

We must content ourselves with these hints as regards Solomon's Song.
As it moves throughout on Messianic ground, the Author must consider
his commentary on this book (Berlin, 1853) as an appendix to the

[Pg 162]


After the time of Solomon, the Messianic prediction was for a
considerable time discontinued. It was first resumed, and farther
expanded, by the Canonical prophecy which began under Uzziah. There
cannot be any doubt that that which _appears_ as an interval was
_really_ such. There is no ground for the supposition that any
important connecting links have been lost. The Messianic prediction in
the oldest canonical prophets is immediately connected with that which
existed previously at the time of David and Solomon.

It is not a matter of chance that, whilst the blossom of prophetism
appeared as early as Samuel, the canonical prophetism took its rise at
a much later date. Nor is it the result of accident, that we do not
possess any written prophecies, either by Elijah, who, at the
transfiguration of the Lord, appeared as the representative of all the
Old Testament prophets, or by Elisha. Nor is it merely accidental that,
at the time of Uzziah, there appears all at once, and simultaneously, a
whole series of prophets. All these things are connected with the
circumstance, that it was only at that time that great events for the
Covenant-people were in preparation,--that, only then, those
catastrophes were impending which were to be brought about by the
Asiatic kingdoms, and which kept equal pace with the sin of Israel, the
measure of which was being more and more filled up. Canonical prophecy
is closely linked with these catastrophes. It is called to disclose to
the Church the meaning of these judgments, and, thereby, to secure to
them their effects in all time coming. The Messianic predictions
uttered by the prophets are likewise closely connected with the
announcement of these judgments. Whilst false security was shaken by
the threatenings, despondency--which is as [Pg 163] hostile to true
conversion--was prevented by pointing to the future coming of the

The prophets do not deliver the Messianic prediction in its whole
compass, any more than do the writers of the Messianic Psalms. On the
contrary, it is always only certain individual aspects which they
exhibit. The writers of the Messianic Psalms take up those features
which presented points of contact with their own lives and their own
experiences, or at least the circumstances of their times. This is
quite in keeping with the more subjective origin of Psalm-poetry. Thus
David describes the suffering Messiah surrounded by powerful enemies,
and who, after severe struggles, at length obtains victory and
dominion. To Solomon, He appears as the Ruler of a great and peaceful
kingdom, and he beholds the most distant nations reverentially offering
presents to Him and doing Him allegiance. But the Prophets, in pointing
out this or that feature, are not so much guided by their own
experience, disposition of mind, and peculiar circumstances, as by the
wants of those whom they are addressing, and by the effect which they
are anxious to produce on them. When they have to do with
pusillanimity, desponding at the sight of the heathen world as it seems
to be all-powerful,--they then represent the Messiah as the invincible
conqueror of the heathen world, who shall subject the whole earth to
the kingdom of God. When they have to deal with pride, trusting in
imaginary prerogatives of the Covenant-people, and boldly challenging
the judgments of God upon the heathen,--they then represent the Messiah
as Him who shall make a great separation among the Covenant-people
themselves, and who shall be a consolation to the godly, while He
brings inexorable judgments upon the wicked when they have to do with
those who mourn in Zion, who through the inflicted judgments of the
Lord have been brought to a deep sorrow on account of their sins,--they
then represent the Messiah as Him who shall one day take away the sins
of the land, who is to bear their griefs and carry their sorrows. Now,
as canonical prophecy extends over several centuries, during which
circumstances, wants, and dispositions the most diverse, must have
taken place, and as the Messianic prophecy is in harmony with these, it
displayed, more and more fully, its riches, and did so in a manner far
more effective and vivid than it could possibly have [Pg 164] done had
it been proclaimed in the form of a discussion or treatise. As the
Messiah was thus represented from the most various points of view, and
in the way of direct perception, and divine confidence,--as He was thus
everywhere pointed out as the end of the development. He could not but
become more and more the soul of the nation's life.

In the Messianic announcements by the prophets, no such gradual
progress in clearness and distinctness can be traced, as in those of
the Pentateuch. The assertion that there existed with them at first,
only a general hope of better times, unconnected with any person, rests
on the unfounded hypothesis that Joel is the oldest among all the
prophets,--and at the same time on the erroneous assumption that he was
ignorant of a personal Messiah,--and, _further_, on the incorrect
supposition that the prophets, who write only what presents itself
immediately to their view, have not in their creed all that they omit
to say. It is, _moreover_, opposed by the prospect of a personal
Messiah held out in the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the Song of
Solomon. How very slender is the ground for inferring that, because
many essential points are not touched upon by Hosea, Joel, and Amos,
they, therefore, did not know them, is shown by the fact that neither
do several among the later prophets--as Jeremiah and Ezekiel--touch
upon them, although the previous more distinct prophecies of Isaiah
were certainly known and acknowledged by them. We must never forget
that it is from above that each of the prophets received his share of
the prophetic spirit, and that this depended partly upon the measure of
his receptivity, which might have been greater with the former than
with the latter prophets,--and, partly, upon the wants and capacities
of those for whom the prophecy was destined.

A central position, as regards the Messianic predictions, is occupied
by Isaiah. Even his Messianic prophecies, however, when viewed detached
and isolated, bear the character of onesidedness. He nowhere gives us a
complete image of the Messiah. But, whilst the other prophets were
permitted to give only single disclosures, he gives us, in the whole
body of his Messianic prophecies, the materials for a full and entire
image, although not the image itself. The Fathers of the Church have,
therefore, rightly designated him as the Evangelist among the prophets.
But the transition to him from the Psalms and [Pg 165] the Song of
Solomon could not be Immediate. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and
Micah form, as it were, the connecting links. Proceeding from the
Messianic promise, in the shape which it had received at the time of
David and Solomon, they give it a standing in the prophetic message,
and infuse into it new life by means of the connection into which it is
brought by them, and supplement it by adding single new features.

It is our intention to give an exposition of the Messianic passages in
the prophets, according to their chronological order. In placing Hosea
at the head, we follow the example of those who collected the Canon,
and who, regarding not so much the succession of years as that of the
governments, may have assigned the first place to Hosea, because he is
the most important among the prophets at the time of Jeroboam in
Israel, and of Uzziah in Judah, or because he really appeared first,
and the prophecy in chap. i.-iii. is the beginning of written
prophecies. The latter supposition most naturally suggests itself; the
analogies are in its favour, and no decisive argument has been brought
forward against it.

                           THE PROPHET HOSEA.

                      GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

That the kingdom of Israel was the object of the prophet's ministry is
so evident, that upon this point all are, and cannot but be, agreed.
But there is a difference of opinion as to whether the prophet was a
fellow-countryman of those to whom he preached, or was called by God
out of the kingdom of Judah. The latter has been asserted with great
confidence by _Maurer_, among others, in his _Observ. in Hos._, in the
_Commentat. Theol._ ii. i. p. 293. But the arguments by which he
supports this view will not stand the test. He appeals (1) to the
inscription. The circumstance that, in this, there is mention made of
the kings of Judah under whom Hosea exercised his ministry,--that they
are mentioned _at all_,--and that they are mentioned _first_ and
_completely_, while only one of the kings of Israel is named, [Pg 166]
proves, according to him--especially on a comparison with the
inscription of Amos--that the prophet acknowledged the kings of Judah
as his superiors. But this mode of argumentation entirely overlooks the
position which the pious in Israel generally, and the prophets
especially, occupied in reference to Judah. They considered the whole
separation--the civil as well as the religious--as an apostasy from
God. And how could they do otherwise, since the eternal dominion over
the people of God had been granted, by God, to the house of David? The
closeness of the connection between the religious and the civil
sufficiently appears from the fact, that Jeroboam and all his
successors despaired of being able to maintain their power, unless they
made the breach, in religious matters also, as wide as possible. The
chief of the prophets in the kingdom of the ten tribes--Elijah--by
taking twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of Israel (1
Kings xviii. 31), plainly enough declared, that he considered the
separation as one not consistent with the idea of the Jewish kingdom,
and that therefore, in reality, it must at some future period be done
away with; that he considered the government in Israel as existing _de
facto_, but not _de jure_.

By none do we find this view so distinctly brought out as by Hosea.
"They have set up kings, and not by Me"--says the Lord by him, chap.
viii. 4--"they have made princes, and I knew it not." In his view,
then, the whole basis of the government in Israel is ungodliness.
Because they have chosen kings and princes without God, and against the
will of God, they shall be taken from them by God, chap. iii. 4.
Salvation cannot come to the people until Israel and, Judah set over
themselves one head, ii. 2 (i. 11), until the children of Israel seek
Jehovah their Lord, and David their king, iii. 5. These two things are,
in his view, intimately connected; no true return to the invisible head
of the Theocracy is possible without, at the same time, a return to the
visible one--the house of David. What, at some future time, the mass of
the people, when converted, were to do, the converted individual must
do even now. He even now recognised the kings of the tribe of Judah as
truly his sovereigns, although he yielded civil obedience to the rulers
of Israel, until God should again abolish the government which He gave
to the people in wrath, and set [Pg 167] up in opposition to the
government of the house of David in His anger, on account of their
apostasy. From all this, it clearly appears that, in order to account
for the peculiarity of the inscription, we need not have recourse to
the conjecture, that Hosea was a native of Judah. One might, with as
much reason, maintain that all the prophets in the kingdom of Israel,
who rejected the worship of the calves--and hence all the prophets
without exception--were natives of the kingdom of Judah. For the
worship of the calves is quite on a par with the apostasy from the
anointed of God. Hosea mentions, first and completely, the kings of the
legitimate family. He then further adds the name of one of the rulers
of the kingdom of Israel, under whom his ministry began, because it was
of importance to fix precisely the time of its commencement. Uzziah,
the first in the series of the kings of Judah mentioned by him,
survived Jeroboam nearly twenty-six years; compare _Maurer_, l. c. p.
284. Now, had the latter not been mentioned along with him, the thought
might easily have suggested itself, that it was only during the latter
period of Uzziah's reign that the prophet entered upon his office; in
which case all that he said about the overthrow of Jeroboam's family
would have appeared to be a _vaticinium post eventum_, inasmuch as it
took place very soon after Jeroboam's death. The same applies to what
was said by him regarding the total decay of the kingdom which was so
flourishing under Jeroboam; for, from the moment of Jeroboam's death,
it hastened with rapid strides towards its destruction. If, therefore,
it was to be seen that future things lie open before God and His
servants "before they spring forth" (Is. xlii. 9), it was necessary
that the commencement of the prophet's ministry should be the more
accurately determined; and this is effected by the statement, that it
happened within the period of the fourteen years during which Uzziah
and Jeroboam reigned contemporaneously. That this is the main reason
for mentioning Jeroboam's name, is seen from the relation of ver. 2 to
ver. 1. The remark there made,--that Hosea received the subsequent
revelation at the very beginning of his prophetic ministry, corresponds
with the mention of Jeroboam's name in ver. 1. But this is not all; nor
can we say that, had it not been for this reason, Hosea would not have
mentioned any king of Israel at all, in order that, from the outset, he
might exhibit [Pg 168] his disposition. There was a considerable
difference between Jeroboam and the subsequent kings. _Cocceius_
remarked very strikingly: "The other kings of Israel are not considered
as kings, but as robbers." Jeroboam possessed a _quasi_ legitimacy. The
house of Jehu, to which he belonged, had opposed the extreme of
religious apostasy. It was, to a certain degree, acknowledged, even by
the prophets. Jeroboam had obtained the throne, not by usurpation, but
by birth. He was the last king by whom the Lord sent deliverance to the
people of the ten tribes; compare 2 Kings xiv. 27: "And the Lord would
not blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; and He saved them by
the hand of Jeroboam, the son of Joash." (2.) The _internal_ reason
adduced by _Maurer_ (S. 294) is equally insignificant. "The _morum
magistri_," he says, "are wont more slightly to reprove, in the case of
strangers, that which they severely condemn in their own people; but
Hosea rebukes with as much severity the inhabitants of Judah, when he
comes to speak of them, as he does the Israelites." But no certain
inferences can be drawn from such commonplaces; for, in this way we
might as reasonably infer, that Isaiah and the writer of the Books of
Kings were natives of the kingdom of the ten tribes, because they
censure the sins of the Israelites as severely as they do those of the
inhabitants of Judah. To this commonplace we might as easily oppose
another equally true, viz., the "_morum magistri_, from a partiality
for their own people, are wont to judge more leniently of their faults
than of those of strangers." Such maxims require to be applied with the
utmost caution, even in the territory to which they belong, because one
consideration may be so easily outweighed by another. Here, however,
its application is altogether out of the question. The prophets, as the
instruments of the Spirit, spoke pure and plain truth without any
regard to persons. Whether Hosea was a native of Judah or of Israel, he
would express himself in the same way concerning the inhabitants of
Judah. He would severely rebuke their sins, and at the same time
readily acknowledge, as he does, their advantages,--for "Salvation
cometh of the Jews."

If, then, these be the arguments in favour of the Judean origin of
Hosea, it readily appears that the probabilities of such an origin,
compared with that of his Israelitish descent, are not [Pg 169] even in
the proportion of one to a hundred. The prophets were almost more
numerous in the kingdom of Israel than in that of Judah; and yet the
entire history knows of only two instances of prophets being sent from
the kingdom of Judah to that of Israel, viz., the prophet spoken of in
1 Kings xiii. and Amos. And the former of these even scarcely belongs
to this class, inasmuch as he received only a single mission into the
kingdom of Israel, and _that_, at a time when the prophetic institution
was not as yet organized there. In the case of Amos likewise, it is
manifest not only that he was only an exception to the rule,--as
appears from the transactions with the priest Amaziah, reported in Amos
vii. (compare especially ver. 12),--but still more plainly, from the
mention in the inscription of his having been a native of Judah.

With regard to the _time_ of the prophet, the inscription places his
ministry in the reigns of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
A long period is, no doubt, thus assigned to it,--a period embracing at
least twenty-six years of Uzziah's reign, and, in addition, the sixteen
years of that of Jotham, the sixteen years during which Ahaz reigned,
and at least one or two years of the reign of Hezekiah, making, at the
lowest calculation, a period of sixty years in all.

This exceedingly long duration of the prophet's ministry might easily
excite suspicion regarding the genuineness and correctness of the
inscription; but such suspicion is at once set at rest by the fact,
that the statements contained in the book itself lead us to assume a
period equally extended. The _beginning_ of the prophet's ministry
cannot be assigned to any _later_ period; for, in chap. i. 4, the fall
of Jeroboam's house, which took place soon after his death, is
announced as a future event. _Moreover_, the condition of the kingdom
appears still, throughout the whole first discourse, as a very
flourishing one. Nor can the end of his ministry be assigned to any
earlier period. For in chap. x. 14, an expedition of Shalman or
Shalmaneser against the kingdom of Israel (_Vitringa_, _Proleg. in Is._
p. 6) is described as being already past, and a second invasion is
threatened. But the first expedition of Shalmaneser, reported in 2
Kings xvii. 1 seqq., is almost contemporaneous with the beginning of
Hezekiah's reign. For it was directed against Hoshea, king of Israel,
who began his reign in the twelfth [Pg 170] year of that of Ahaz, which
lasted sixteen years. The exact harmony of the passage in Hosea with
that in 2 Kings xvii. is very evident. In 2 Kings xvii. 3, it is said:
"Against him came up Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, and Hoshea became
his servant and gave him tribute." This was the first expedition of
Shalmaneser. Then followed the second expedition, which was caused by
the rebellion of Hoshea,--in consequence of which Samaria was taken and
the people carried away. In Hos. x. 14, 15, it is said: "And tumult
ariseth against thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as
Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle; the mother was dashed
in pieces upon (her) children. So shall he do unto you, Bethel, because
of your great wickedness in the dawn of the morning, destroyed,
destroyed shall be the king of Israel." Hosea here declares that the
beginning of the destruction by Shalmaneser is the prophecy of the end
of the kingdom of Israel. The "morning dawn" is the time of apparently
reappearing prosperity, when, according to _Cocceius_, a time of peace
begins to shine. In Amos iv. 13, v. 8, the prosperity again dawning
upon the kingdom of Israel is likewise expressed by "morning" and
"morning dawn." The identity of Beth-arbel and Arbelah in Galilee can
the less be doubted, because recent researches have rendered it certain
that this place, now called _Irbid_, was an important fortress.
(Compare _Münchener gelehrte Anzeigen_ 1836, S. 870 ff.; _Robinson_,
iii. 2, p. 534; _v. Raumer_, S. 108.) The use of Beth-arbel, instead of
the more common Arbelah, as well as that of Shalman instead of
Shalmaneser, belongs to the higher style. At the first expedition, the
decisive battle had, no doubt, taken place at Arbelah. They who
disconnect this passage from 2 Kings xvii. do not know what to make of
it. _Simson_ complains of the darkness resting on the passage under
consideration.--But Hos. xii. 2 (1) likewise leads us to the very last
times of the kingdom of Israel,--those times when Hoshea endeavoured to
free himself from the Assyrian servitude by the help of Egypt. "Ephraim
feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east-wind; he daily increaseth
lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with Assyria, and oil
is carried into Egypt." Their sending oil to Egypt, notwithstanding the
covenant made with Assyria, is the lie, which goes hand in hand with
desolation, while they imagine thereby to [Pg 171] work deliverance.
This explanation has been already given by _J. H. Manger_, of whose
_Commentarius in Hoseam_, _Campen_, 1782--a commentary in many respects
excellent--most of the recent commentators, and, lastly, _Simson_,
have, to their great disadvantage, not availed themselves. _Manger_
says: "These words refer to the ambassadors who were sent with splendid
presents by king Hoshea to the king of Egypt, in order to win him over
to himself, and induce him to assist him against the Assyrians, to whom
he had become subject by a solemn treaty."--To the last times of the
kingdom of Israel we are likewise led by what occurs in other passages
concerning the relation of Israel to Egypt and Asshur. The matter has
been falsely represented by very many as if two parties among the
people were spoken of,--an Assyrian and an Egyptian party. Nor is it
so, that the whole people turn at one time to Egypt in order to free
themselves from the Assyrians, and at another time to Assyria to assist
them against Egypt. The position is rather thus: The people, heavily
oppressed by Asshur, at one time seek help from Egypt against Asshur,
and, at another, attempt to conciliate the latter. Precisely thus is
the situation described in vii. 11: "They call to Egypt, they go to
Asshur." That by which Israel was threatened, was, according to viii.
10, "the burden of the king of princes, the king of Asshur," ver. 9.
This they seek to turn off, partly by artifices, and partly by calling
to their help the king of Egypt. Asshur alone is the king "warrior"
(_Jareb_), v. 13, x. 6; he only has received the divine mission to
execute judgment; compare xi. 5: "He, _i.e._, Israel, shall not return
to the land of Egypt, and Asshur, he is his king." As an ally not to be
trusted, Egypt is described in vii. 16, where, after the announcement
of their destruction on account of their rebellion against the Lord, it
is said: "This shall be their derision on account of the land of
Egypt," _i.e._, thus they shall be put to shame in the hope which they
place on Egypt. Is. xxx. 1-5 is quite analogous. In that passage the
prophet announces that Judah's attempt to protect themselves against
Asshur by means of Egypt would be vain; compare, especially, ver. 3:
"And the fortress of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and the trust in the
shadow of Egypt, your confusion;" and ver. 5: "Not for help nor for
profit, but for shame and for reproach." Such historical circumstances,
[Pg 172] however, had not yet occurred under Menahem. At that time,
Israel was not yet placed in the midst betwixt Asshur and Egypt. It is
expressly mentioned in 2 Kings xv. 20, that the invasion of Pul was
only transitory, and that not conquest, but spoil, was its aim. The
real commencement of the Assyrian oppression is formed by the invasion
of Tiglathpileser at the time of Ahaz. Isaiah, in chap. vii., points
out the pernicious consequences of Ahaz's calling the Assyrians to his
assistance against Syria and Israel. The very fact of this war carried
on against Judah by Syria and Ephraim shows, that up to that time,
Asshur had not laid his hand upon these regions. It was only with the
invasion under Ahaz that there was any display of Asshur's tendency to
make permanent conquests on the other side of Euphrates, which could
not fail to bring about the conflict with the Egyptian power.--"King
Jareb,"--such had already become the historical character of the king
of Asshur, at the time when Hosea wrote; but prior to the times of Ahaz
and Hezekiah, he did not stand out as such.

There is no decisive weight to be attached to what _Simson_ advances in
order to prove that we must fix an earlier date. He argues thus:
"Gilead, which, according to 2 Kings xv. 29, was taken and depopulated
by Tiglathpileser, whom Ahaz had called to his assistance, appears in
vi. 8, xii. 12 (11) to be still in the possession of Israel. Hence, the
ministry of the prophet cannot have extended beyond the invasion of
Judah by the Syrians and Ephraim." But since the book gives the sum and
substance of Hosea's prophecies during a prolonged period, there must
necessarily occur in it references to events which already belonged to
the past, at the time when the prophet wrote. In chap. i. 4, even the
overthrow of the house of Jeroboam appears as being still future.

But even although we could not establish, from other sources, the
statement contained in the inscription, the inscription itself would
nevertheless be a guarantee for it; and the more so, because there are
other analogies in favour of so long a duration of the prophetic
office, which was sometimes entered upon even in early youth. The
inscription has the same authority in its favour as every other part of
the book; and it is hardly possible to understand the levity with which
it has, in recent times, been pretty generally designated as spurious,
or, at least, suspicious. [Pg 173] It is altogether impossible to sever
it from the other parts of the book. There must certainly have been
some object in view when, in ver. 2, it is expressly remarked, that
what follows took place at the _beginning_ of Hosea's ministry. But
such an object it will be possible to point out, only in the event of
its being more accurately determined at what time this beginning took
place--viz., still under the reign of Jeroboam, when the state of
things as it appeared to the eye did not yet offer any occasion for
such views of the future as are opened up in the first three chapters.
Ver. 1 cannot, therefore, be regarded as an addition subsequently made,
unless the words in ver. 2, from תחלת to בהושע be so likewise. But
these again are most closely connected with what follows by the
_Future_ with _Vav convers._, which never can begin a narrative. There
remains, therefore, only this alternative:--either to regard the whole
as having been written at a later period, or to claim for Hosea the
inscription also. We cannot agree with the view of _Simson_, that the
remark by which the beginning of the book is assigned to the beginning
of the prophet's ministry, originated from a chronological interest
only; and we can the less do so, because the prophet does not pay any
attention to chronology in any other place, but is anxious to give only
the sum and substance of what he had prophesied during a series of
years. The only exception which he makes in this respect must have
originated from strong reasons; and such do not exist, if the
inscription in ver. 1, or the mention of the kings in it, be spurious.
The mention of the beginning in ver. 2 would, in that case, be so much
the more groundless, as we could know nothing at all regarding the
length of his ministry.

Much more fruitful, certainly, than all such vain doubts, are the
reflections of Calvin on the long duration of the prophet's ministry:
"How grievous is it to us when God requires our services for twenty or
thirty years; and, especially, when we have to contend with ungodly
people, who would not willingly take upon them the yoke, yea, who even
obstinately resist us! we then wish to be freed at once, and to become
pensioned soldiers. But, seeing this prophet's long protracted
ministry, let us take from it an example of patience, that we may not
despair although the Lord should not at once free us from our burden."

Many interpreters have zealously attempted to determine the [Pg 174]
particular portions of this lengthened period to which the particular
portions of this book belong. But such an undertaking is wholly vain in
the case before us, as well as in that of Micah, and most of the minor
prophets generally. The supposition upon which it rests is false--viz.,
that the collection consists of a number of single, detached portions.
We do not possess the whole of Hosea's prophecies, but only the
substance of their essential contents,--a survey which he himself gave
towards the end of his ministry. This appears (1) from the דבר יהוה in
the inscription. In itself, this would not be a decisive argument, as
the prophet might also have comprehended in an _ideal_ unity,
discourses outwardly distinct; but, nevertheless, as long as no reason
appears for the contrary, it is more naturally referred to a continuous
discourse with an external unity also. (2.) It appears from the entire
omission of all chronological data. The only exception is in ver. 2;
but this exception serves only to strengthen the argument drawn from
the omission everywhere else. (3.) It is proved by the absence of all
certain indications about the beginning and ending of the particular
portions. There occur, just as in the second part of Isaiah, new
starting points only; but, with these exceptions, the discourse always
moves on in the same manner. (4.) It is seen from the indefiniteness
and generality of the historical references, which must necessarily
arise if the prophet referred, in like manner, to the whole of this
lengthened period. That the facts, upon which the last two arguments
rest, really exist, is made sufficiently apparent from the immense
diversity of opinions as to the number and extent of the particular
portions, and as to the time of their composition. There are not even
two of the more important interpreters who agree in the main points
alone. Such a diversity does not exist in reference to any of the
prophetical books which actually consist of detached prophecies. (5.)
The style and language are too much the same throughout the whole, to
admit of the idea that any long period could have elapsed between the
particular prophecies. This, indeed, is only a subordinate argument;
but it acquires its full importance, when connected with the foundation
of the third and fourth proofs.

It now only remains to give a survey of the historical circumstances at
the time of the prophet. This is the more necessary, as a knowledge of
these is required for the exposition of [Pg 175] the Messianic
prophecies, not only of Hosea, but also of Amos, his contemporary.

The kingdom of Israel carried within it, from its very commencement, a
twofold element of destruction--viz., the establishment of the worship
of the calves, and the rebellion against the dynasty of David. With
regard to the former,--the consequence of this apparently so much
isolated transgression of a Mosaic ordinance extended much further than
would appear upon a superficial view. In this case also it was seen
that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Of far higher importance
than the low conceptions of God produced by this symbolical
representation of Him, was another aspect of the transaction. The
prohibition of image-worship in the Pentateuch was as distinct and
clear as it was possible to make it. The kings of Israel were far from
rejecting it; but still, how difficult soever it may appear, they found
out an interpretation by which they evaded the application of it to
their institution. Such a course once entered upon, could only lead
them further and further astray. As, in so important a case, they
had, in opposition to their own better convictions, allowed themselves
to pervert and explain away the law--asserting, probably, that
it was given only on account of the coarse sensuality of former
generations--the  same was done in other things also, as often as it
was called for by the disposition of the corrupted heart. All
unfaithfulness which is known to be so, and yet is cherished, and
excused to the conscience and before men, must draw after it entire
ruin, in a community, not less than in an individual. As a reason for
this ruin, it is very strikingly said in 2 Kings xvii. 9: "And they
_covered_ (this is the only ascertained signification of חפא) words
that were not so, over the Lord their God;" _i.e._, they ventured, by a
number of perversions and false interpretations of His word, to
veil its true form. To this, the following consideration must be
added:--That first change of the religious institutions proceeded from
the political power which secured to itself, for the future, an
absolute influence upon the religious affairs, by subjecting to its
control the ecclesiastical power, which had hitherto been independent
of it. Those Levites who, having no regard to the miserable sophisms
invented by the king as an excuse, declared against the worship of
calves, were expelled, and, in their stead, creatures of the king [Pg
176] were made ministers of the sanctuary. This became now the king's
sanctuary (compare the remarkable passage, Amos vii. 13), and all the
ecclesiastical affairs were, in strict contradiction to the Mosaic law,
submitted to his arbitrary power. The consequences of this must
necessarily have been all the sadder, the worse the kings were; and
they must inevitably have become so, because of the bad foundation on
which the royal power rested.

Image-worship was very speedily followed by idolatry,--which is,
however, in like manner, not to be looked upon in the light of an
undisguised opposition to the true God. Such an opposition took place
during the reign of only one king--Ahab--under whom the matter was
carried to an extreme. Holy Scripture, however, with a total disregard
of the whole multitude of miserable excuses ordinarily made, designates
as _direct_ apostasy from God, everything which was substantially such,
although it did not outwardly manifest itself as such. Externally, they
remained faithful to Jehovah; they celebrated His feasts,--they offered
the sacrifices prescribed in the Pentateuch,--they regulated, in
general, all the religious institutions according to the requirements
there laid down, as may be proved from the Books of Kings, and, still
more plainly, from Amos and Hosea. But in all this they discovered a
method by which light and darkness, the worship of idols with that of
the Lord, might be combined. Nor was this discovery so very difficult,
since their eye was not single. They had before them the examples of
heathen nations, who were quite prepared reciprocally to acknowledge
their deities, in all of whom they recognised only different forms of
manifestation of one and the same divine being; and they were quite
willing to extend this acknowledgment even to the God of Israel also,
as long as they did not meet with intolerance on the part of those who
professed to worship Him, and were therefore not roused to the practice
of intolerance in return. This reciprocal recognition of their deities
by the nations in the midst of whom the Israelites lived, is
sufficiently evident from the circumstance, that they all called their
highest deity by the same name--Baal--and expressed, by some epithet,
only the form of manifestation peculiar to each. Now, the Israelites
imagined that they might be able, at one and the same time, to satisfy
the demands of their God, and to propitiate [Pg 177] the idols of the
neighbouring mighty nations--especially of the Phœnicians--if they
removed the wall of separation betwixt the two. Jehovah and Baal were,
in their view, identical as to their essence. The former was that mode
of manifestation peculiar to them, and the main object of their worship
according to the method prescribed by Himself in His revelation. But
the latter was not to be neglected; inasmuch as they imagined that they
might thereby become partakers of the blessings which this form of
manifestation of the deity was able to bestow. And thus to Jehovah they
gave the name of Baal also, Hos. ii. 18 (16); they celebrated the days
appointed by Jehovah, ver. 13 (11), but those also devoted to Baalim,
ver. 15 (13). In this way we receive an explanation of the fact which,
at first sight, is so startling, viz., that according to Hosea and
Amos, all is filled with the service of Baal; while the Books of Kings
would lead us to think that, with the reign of Ahab, the dominion of
this worship had ceased. But it was only its hostile opposition to the
worship of Jehovah that had disappeared, while a far more dangerous
religious compromise took its place. No doubt can be entertained as to
the party on whose side lay the advantage in this compromise. It was
plainly on that side on which it always lies, whensoever the heart is
divided betwixt truth and falsehood. Externally, the worship of Jehovah
remained the prevailing one; but, inwardly, idolatry obtained
almost the sole dominion. If only the limits betwixt the two religions
were removed, that religion would of course come with the highest
recommendation, the spirit of which was most in accordance with
the spirit of the people. But, owing to the corrupt condition of
human nature, this would not be the strict religion of Jehovah,
which, as coming from God, did not bring God down to the level of
human debasement, but demanded that man should be raised to His
elevation,--which placed the holiness of God in the centre, and founded
upon it the requirement that its possessors should be holy;--but it
would be the soft, sensual, idolatrous doctrine which flattered human
corruption, because from that it had its origin. Thus the Jehovah of
the Israelites became in reality what they sometimes called Him by way
of alternation--a Baal. And the matter was now much more dangerous
than if they had deserted Him [Pg 178] externally also, inasmuch as
they now continued to trust in His covenant and promises, and to boast
of their external services,--thus strengthening themselves in their
false security.

The _natural_ consequence of this apostasy from the Lord was a
frightful corruption of manners. The next result of spiritual
adultery was the carnal one. Voluptuousness formed the fundamental
characteristic of the Asiatic religions in general, and, in particular,
of those with which the Israelites came in contact. But the pernicious
influence extended still further over the whole moral territory. Where
there is no holy God, neither will there be any effort of man after
holiness. All divine and human laws will be trampled under foot. All
the bonds of love, law, and order, will be broken. And, as such, the
condition of the country in a moral point of view is described by its
two prophets throughout. Compare, _e.g._, Hosea iv. 1, 2: "There is no
truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, and
lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery--they break
through, and blood toucheth blood." There then followed, from the moral
corruption, the internal dissolution of the state, and its external

The _supernatural_ consequences of the apostasy from the Lord, were the
severe punishments which He inflicted upon the people. With whomsoever
God has entered into a closer connection, whomsoever He thinks worthy
of His grace, in him the Lord will be glorified by the infliction of
punishment upon him, if, through his own guilt. He has not been
glorified by sanctification in him. Just because Israel formed part of
the Covenant-people, they could not be allowed to continue to retain
the outward appearance of it, when, inwardly, they did not retain a

As the second element of the ruin, we mentioned the rebellion against
the dynasty of David. Their dominion rested on divine right, while the
new Israelitish kingdom rested upon the sandy foundation of human
caprice. The first king had raised himself to the throne by his own
power and prudence, and through the favour of the people. Whosoever had
the same means at his disposal, imagined that these gave him the right
to do likewise. And thus dynasty supplanted dynasty, regicide followed
regicide. In the bloody struggles thereby occasioned, the people became
more and more lawless. Sometimes interregna, [Pg 179] and periods of
total anarchy took place; and by these internal struggles the power to
resist external enemies was more and more broken. No king was able to
stop this source of mischief, for such an effort would have required
him to lay aside his position as a king. And as little was any one able
to put a stop to that source of evil formerly mentioned: for, if the
religious wall of partition which was erected between Israel and Judah
were once removed, the civil one likewise threatened to fall.

Such were, in general, the circumstances under which Hosea, like the
other prophets of the kingdom of Israel, appeared. There cannot be any
doubt that these were much more difficult than those of the kingdom
of Judah. There, too, the corruption was indeed very great; but it
was not so firmly intertwined with the foundation of the whole state.
Thorough-going reforms, like those under Hezekiah and Josiah, were
possible. The interest of a whole tribe was closely bound up with the
preservation of true religion.

The reign of Jeroboam II., which was externally so prosperous, and in
which Hosea entered upon his prophetic ministry, had still more
increased the apostasy from the Lord, and the corruption of manners,
and thus laid the foundation for the series of disastrous events which
began soon after his death, and which, in quick succession, brought
the people to total ruin. The prosperity only confirmed them still
more in their security. Instead of being led to repentance by the
unmerited mercy of God (compare 2 Kings xiv. 26, 27), they considered
this prosperity as a reward of their apostasy, as the seal by which
Jehovah-Baal confirmed the rectitude of their ways. The false prophets,
too, did what was in their power to strengthen them in their delusion,
whilst the true prophets preached to deaf ears.

Immediately after the death of Jeroboam, it soon became apparent on
which side the truth lay. There followed an interregnum of from eleven
to twelve years.[1] After the termination [Pg 180] of it, Zachariah,
the son of Jeroboam, succeeded to the throne; but he was murdered by
Shallum, after a short reign of six months, 2 Kings xv. 10. Shallum,
after he had reigned only one month, was slain by Menahem, ver. 14.
Menahem reigned ten years at Samaria. Under him, the catastrophe was
already preparing which brought the kingdom to utter destruction. He
became tributary to the Assyrian king Pul, vers. 19-21. He was
succeeded by his son Pekahiah, in the fiftieth year of Uzziah. After a
reign of two months, he was slain by Pekah, the son of Remaliah, who
held the government for twenty years (ver. 27), and, by his alliance
with the kings of Syria against his brethren the people of Judah (comp.
Is. vii.), hastened on the destruction of Israel. The Assyrians, under
Tiglathpileser, called to his assistance by Ahaz, even at that time
carried away into captivity part of its citizens,--the tribes who lived
on the other side of the Jordan. In the fourth year of Ahaz, Pekah was
slain by Hoshea, who, after an interregnum of eight years, began to
reign in the twelfth year of Ahaz, xvii. 1. He became tributary to
Shalmaneser; and the end of his government of nine years was also the
end of the kingdom of the ten tribes. His having sought for an alliance
with Egypt drew down, upon himself and his people, the vengeance of the
king of Assyria.

We have already proved that the historical references in the prophecies
of Hosea extend to the time when the last king of Israel attempted to
secure himself against Asshur, by the alliance with Egypt. It is very
probable that the book was written at [Pg 181] that time. At the time
when the sword of the Lord was just being raised to inflict upon Israel
the death-blow, Hosea wrote down the sum and substance of what he had
prophesied during a long series of years, beginning in the last times
of Jeroboam, when, to a superficial view, the people were in the
enjoyment of the fullest prosperity. When at the threshold of their
final fulfilment, he condensed and wrote down his prophecies, just as,
in the _annus fatalis_, the fourth year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah,
according to chap. xxv., gave a survey of what he had prophesied over
Judah during twenty-three years.

In the prophecies of Hosea, as in those of Amos, the _threatening_
character prevails. The number of the elect in Israel was small, and
the judgment was at hand. In Jeremiah and Ezekiel, too, the prophecies,
previous to the destruction, are mainly minatory. It was only after the
wrath of God had been manifested in deeds, that the stream of promise
brake forth without hindrance. Hosea, nevertheless, does not belie his
name, by which he had been dedicated to the helping and saving God, and
which he had received, _non sine numine_. (הושע, properly the Inf. Abs.
of ישע, is, in substance, equivalent to Joshua, _i.e._, the Lord is
help.) Zeal for the Lord fills and animates him, not only in the energy
of his threatenings, but also in the intensity and strength of his
conviction of the pardoning mercy and healing love of the Lord, which
will, in the end, prevail. In this respect, Hosea is closely connected
with the Song of Solomon--that link in the chain of Holy Scripture into
which he had, in the first instance, to fit. There are in Hosea
undeniable references to the Song of Solomon. (Compare my Comment. on
the Song of Solomon, on chap. i. 4, ii. 3.) It is certainly not by
accident that the brighter views appear with special clearness at the
beginning, in chap. i. 3 (compare ii. 1-3, 16-25 [i. 10, ii. 1, 14-23],
iii. 5), and at the close, xiv. 2-10 (1-9), where the fundamental
thought is expressed in ver. 4 (3): "For in Thee the fatherless findeth
mercy." But even in the darker middle portions, they sometimes suddenly
break through; compare v. 15, vi. 3, where the subject is: "He teareth
and He healeth us; He smiteth and He bindeth up;" vi. 11, where, after
the threatening against Israel, we suddenly find the words:
"Nevertheless, O Judah! He grants thee a harvest, when I (_i.e._, the
Lord) return to the prison of My people." (Judah is [Pg 182] here
mentioned as the main portion of the people, in whom mercy is bestowed
upon the whole, and in whose salvation the other tribes also share.)
Compare also xi. 8-11, where we have this thought: After wrath, mercy;
the Covenant-people can never, like the world, be altogether borne down
by destructive judgments; xiii. 14, where the strong conviction of the
absolutely imperishable nature of the Congregation of the Lord finds
utterance in the words, "I will ransom them from the hand of hell; I
will redeem them from death: O death! where is thy plague? O hell!
where is thy pestilence? repentance is hid from Mine eyes." _Simson_ is
perplexed "by the sudden transition of the discourse, in this passage,
from threatening to promise,--and this without even any particle to
indicate the mutual relation of the sentences and thoughts." But the
same phenomenon occurs also in vi. 11 (compare Micah ii. 12, 13),
where, likewise, several expositors are perplexed by the suddenness and
abruptness of the transition. It is explained from the circumstance,
that behind even the darkest clouds of wrath which have gathered over
the Congregation of the Lord, there is, nevertheless, concealed the sun
of mercy. In the prophets, it sometimes breaks through suddenly and
abruptly; but in this they are at one with history, in which the
deepest darkness of the night is oftentimes suddenly illuminated by the
shining of the Lord: "And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold, the
bridegroom cometh."

The sum and substance of Hosea's prophetic announcement is the
following:--Israel falls, through Asshur: Judah, the main tribe, shall
be preserved from destruction in this catastrophe. (The prophet's
tender care for Judah is strikingly brought out in his exhortation to
Israel, in iv. 15, that they should desist from their compromises in
religion, and that, if they chose to commit sin, they should rather
desert the Lord altogether, lest by their hypocrisy Judah also should
be seduced and infected.) But at a later period, Judah too is to fall
under the divine judgment (ii. 2 [i. 11], where it is supposed that
Judah shall also be carried away into captivity; v. 5: "Israel and
Ephraim fall by their iniquity, Judah also falleth with them;" v. 12:
"I am unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness;"
compare also xii. 1, 3), although the immediate instruments of the
judgment upon Judah are not mentioned [Pg 183] by Hosea. But the
judgments which the two houses of Israel draw upon themselves by their
works (ii. 2 [i. 11], iii. 5, indicate that even Judah will, at some
future time, rebel against the house of David) shall be followed by the
deliverance to be accomplished by grace. Judah and Israel shall, in the
future, be again gathered together under one head, ii. 2 (i. 11); a
glorious king out of David's house not only restores what was lost, but
also raises the Congregation of the Lord to a decree of glory never
before conceived of, iii. 5: "Afterwards shall the children of Israel
return and seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and shall
fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days."

The peculiarity of the Messianic prophecies of Hosea, as compared with
those of the time of David and Solomon, consists in the connection of
the promise with threatenings of judgments, and in the Messiah's
appearing as the light of those who walk in the deepest darkness of the
divine judgments. It was necessary that this progress should have been
made in the Messianic announcements, before the breaking in of the
divine judgments; for, otherwise, the hope of the Messiah would have
been extinguished by them, because it was but too natural to consider
the former as, _in fact_, an annihilation of these dreamy hopes. But
now there was offered to the elect a staff on which they might support
themselves, and walk with confidence through the dark valley of the
shadow of death.

The Book of Hosea may be divided into two parts, according to the two
principal periods of the prophet's ministry,--under Jeroboam, when the
external condition was as yet prosperous, and the bodily eye did not as
yet perceive anything of the storms of divine wrath which were
gathering,--and under the following kings, down to Hosea, when the
punishment had already begun, and was hastening, by rapid strides,
towards its consummation.--Another difference, although a subordinate
one, is this:--that the first part, which comprehends the first three
chapters, contains prophecies connected with a symbol, while the second
part contains direct prophecies which have no such connection. A
similar division occurs in Amos also,--with this difference, that
there, the symbolical prophecies form the conclusion. The first part
may be considered as a kind of outline, which all the subsequent
prophecies served to fill up; just [Pg 184] as may the 6th chapter in
Isaiah, and the first and second in Ezekiel. We shall give a complete
exposition of this section, as it will afford us a vivid view of the
whole position of Hosea, and as it is just there that the Messianic
announcement meets us in its most developed form.

Footnote 1: _Ewald_, _Thenius_, and others, will not grant that such an
interregnum took place. As numbers were originally expressed by
letters, in which an interchange might easily happen, we cannot deny
the possibility of such an error having occurred in 2 Kings xiv. 23. It
is quite possible that the duration of Jeroboam's reign was there
originally stated at fifty-two or fifty-three, instead of forty-one
years. But strong reasons would be required for rendering such a
supposition admissible,--the more so, as the interchange would not have
been limited to one letter, as _Thenius_ supposes, but must have
extended to both. But no such reasons exist. The silence of the Books
of Kings upon the subject of this interregnum cannot be urged as a
reason, since these books are so exceedingly short as regards the
history of the last times of the kingdom of Israel. Sacred
historiography has no interest in the details of this process of decay,
which began with the death of Jeroboam,--which also is represented by
Amos as if it were the day of Israel's death (Amos vii. 11: "Jeroboam
shall die by the sword, and Israel shall be led away captive out of
their own land"), although bare existence is still, for some time,
spared. By the rejection of this interregnum, Hosea's ministry would be
shortened by twelve years; but this gain--if such it be--can be
purchased only at the expense of a most improbable extension of the
duration of Jeroboam's reign. _Simson_, S. 201, has defended the

                        THE SECTION CHAP. I.-III.

The question which here above all engages our attention, and requires
to be answered, is this: Whether that which is reported in these
chapters did, or did not, actually and outwardly take place. The
history of the inquiries connected with this question is found most
fully in _Marckius's_ "_Diatribe de uxore fornicationum_," Leyden,
1696, reprinted in the Commentary on the Minor Prophets by the same
author. The various views may be divided into three classes.

1. It is maintained by very many interpreters, that all the events here
narrated took place actually and outwardly. This opinion was advanced
with the greatest confidence by _Theodoret_, _Cyril_ of Alexandria, and
_Augustine_ from among the Fathers of the Church; by most interpreters
belonging to the Lutheran and Reformed Churches (_e.g. Manger_); most
recently, by _Stuck_, _Hofmann_ (_Weissag u. Erf._ S. 206), and, to a
certain extent, by _Ewald_ also, who supposes "a free representation of
an event actually experienced by the prophet."

2. Others consider it as a parabolical representation. Thus does
Calvin, who expressly opposes the supposition not only of an external,
but also of an internal event. He explains it thus: "When the prophet
began to teach, he commenced thus: The Lord has placed me here as on a
stage, that I might tell you, I have taken a wife," etc. Entirely
similar was the opinion of the Chaldee Paraphrast, by whom the words,
"Go," etc., are thus paraphrased: "Go and prophesy against the
inhabitants of the adulterous city." Of a like purport is the view
held, from among recent interpreters, by _Rosenmüller_, _Hitzig_ ("that
which the prophet describes as actual, is only a fiction"), _Simson_
and others. The strange opinion of Luther, which, out of too great
respect, was adopted by a few later theologians (_Osiander_, [Pg 185]
_Gerhard_, _Tarnovius_), is only a modification of this. It is to the
effect, that the prophet had only ascribed to his own chaste wife the
name and works of an adulteress, and, hence, had performed with her,
before the people, a kind of play. (Compare, against this view,
_Buddeus_, _de peccatis typicis_ in the _Misc. s. t._ i. p. 262.) The
same opinion is expressed by _Umbreit_: "His own wife is implicated in
the general guilt, and hence she is a representative of the whole
people." In opposition to this view, compare _Simson's_ Commentary.

3. Others suppose that the prophet narrates events which took place
_actually_, indeed, but _not outwardly_. This opinion was, considering
the time at which it was advanced, very ably defended by _Jerome_ in
_Epist. ad Pammachium_, and in his commentary on chap. i. 8. According
to _Rufinus_, all those in Palestine and Egypt who respected the
authority of _Origen_, asserted that the marriage took place only in
spirit. The difficulties attaching to the first view were made
especially obvious by the ridicule of the Manicheans (_Faustus_ and
_Secundinus_ in _Augustine_, t. vi. p. 575) on this narrative. The most
accomplished Jewish scholars (_Maimonides_ in the _More Nebuch._ p. ii.
c. 46, _Abenezra_, _Kimchi_) support this opinion. Some new arguments
in defence of it have been adduced by _Marckius_.

Of these three views:--actually and outwardly; neither outwardly nor
actually; actually, but not outwardly,--the second must be at once
rejected. Those who hold it supply, "God has commanded me to tell you."
But there is not the slightest intimation of such an ellipsis; and
those interpreters have no better right to supply it in this, than in
any other narrative. There is before us action, and nothing but action,
without any intimation whatsoever that it is merely an invention.

But the following arguments are decisive in favour of the third, and
against the first view.

1. The defenders of an outward transaction rely, in support of their
view, upon the supposition, that their interpretation is most obvious
and natural;--that they are thus, as it were, in the _possession_ of
the ground, and in a position from which they can be driven only by the
most cogent reasons;--that if the transaction had been internal, it
would have been necessary for the prophet to have expressly marked it
as such. But precisely the reverse of all this is the case. The most
obvious supposition [Pg 186] is, that the symbolical action took place
in vision. If _certain_ actions of the prophets, especially seeing,
hearing, and their speaking to the Lord, etc., must be conceived of as
having taken place inwardly, unless there be distinct indications of
the opposite, why not the remainder also? For the former presupposes
that the world in which the prophets move, is altogether different from
the ordinary one; that it is not the outward, but the spiritual world.
It is certainly not a matter of chance, that the _seeing_ in the case
of the prophets must be understood spiritually; and if there be a
reason for this, the same reason entitles us to assert that the
walking, etc., also took place inwardly only. By what right could we
make any difference between the actions of others, described by the
prophet, and his own? Vision and symbolical action are not opposed to
each other; the former is only the _genus_ comprehending the latter as
a _species_. By this we do not at all mean to assert, that _all_ the
symbolical actions of the prophets took place in inward vision only. An
inward transaction always lay at the foundation; but sometimes, and
when it was appropriate, they embodied it in an outward representation
also (1 Kings xx. 35 seq., xxii. 11; Jer. xix. xxviii.; and a similar
remarkable instance from modern times, in _Croesi Hist. Quakeriana_, p.
13). For this very reason, however, this argument cannot be altogether
decisive by itself; but it furnishes, at least, a presumptive proof,
and that by no means unimportant. If regularly and naturally the
transaction be internal only, then the opposite requires to be proved
in this case. If this had been admitted, no attempt would have been
made elsewhere also, _e.g._, Is. xx., by false and forced
interpretations to explain away the supposition of a merely internal

2. No one will certainly venture to assert that a merely internal
transaction would have missed its aim, since there exists a multitude
of symbolical actions, in regard to which it is undeniable, and
universally admitted, that they took place internally only. For the
inward action, being narrated and committed to writing, retained the
advantage of vividness and impressiveness over the naked representation
of the same truth. Sometimes, in the case of actions concentrated into
a single moment, this advantage may be still further increased by the
inward transaction being represented outwardly also. But, here, just
the [Pg 187] opposite would take place. We have here before us a
symbolical transaction which, if it had been performed outwardly, would
have continued for several years. The separation of the single events
would have prevented its being taken in at a single view, and have thus
deprived it of its impressiveness. But, what is still more important,
the natural _substratum_ would have occupied the attention so much more
than the _idea_, that the latter would have been thereby altogether
overlooked. The domestic affairs of the prophet would have become the
subject of a large amount of _tittle-tattle_, and the idea would have
been remembered only to give greater point to the ridicule.

3. The command of God, when considered as referring to an outward
transaction, cannot be, by any means, justified. This is most glaringly
obvious, if we understand this command, as several do, to mean that the
prophet should beget children with an unchaste woman, and without
legitimate marriage. Every one will sympathize with the indignation
expressed by _Buddeus_ (l. c. p. 206) against _Thomas Aquinas_, who,
following this view, maintains that the law of God had been, in this
special case, repealed by His command. God Himself cannot set us free
from His commands; they are an expression of His nature, an image of
His holiness. To ascribe arbitrariness to God in this respect, would be
to annihilate the idea of God, and the idea of the Law at the same
time. This view, it is true, is so decidedly erroneous as to require no
further refutation; but even the opinion of _Buddeus_ and others
presents insurmountable difficulties. They suppose that the prophet had
married a woman who was formerly unchaste. In opposition to this,
Calvin very strikingly remarks: "It seems not to be consistent with
reason, that God should spontaneously have rendered His prophet
contemptible; for how could he ever have appeared in public after such
ignominy had been inflicted upon him? If he had married such a wife, as
here described, he ought rather to have hidden himself all his lifetime
than have assumed the prophetic office." In Lev. xxi. 7 the law forbids
the priests to take a wife that is a whore, or profane. That which,
according to the letter, referred to the priests only, is applicable,
in its spirit, to the prophets also,--yea, to them in a higher degree,
as will be seen immediately, when the ordinance is reduced to its
_idea_. The latter is easily inferred from the reason stated, [Pg 188]
viz., that the priests should be holy to their God. The servants of God
must represent His holiness; they are, therefore, not allowed, by so
close a contact with sin, to defile or desecrate themselves either
inwardly or outwardly. Although the inward pollution may be prevented
in individual cases by a specially effective assistance of divine
grace, yet there always remains the outward pollution.

It is inconceivable that, at the very commencement of his ministry, God
should have commanded to the prophet anything, the inevitable effect of
which was to mar its successful execution. Several--and especially
_Manger_--who felt the difficulties of this interpretation, substituted
for it another, by which, as they imagined, all objections were
removed. The prophet, they say, married a person who had formerly been
chaste, and fell only after her marriage. This view is no doubt the
correct one, as is obvious from the relation of the figure to the
reality. According to ver. 2, it is to be expressed figuratively that
the people went a-whoring from Jehovah. The spiritual adultery
presupposes that the spiritual marriage had already been concluded.
Hence, the wife can be called a whoring wife, only on account of the
whoredom which she practised after her marriage. This is confirmed by
chap. iii. 1, where the more limited expression "to commit adultery" is
substituted for "to whore," which has a wider sense, and comprehends
adultery also. The former unchastity of the wife would be without any
meaning, yea, would be in direct contradiction to the real state of the
case. For before the marriage concluded at Sinai, Israel was devoted to
the Lord in faithful love; comp. Jer. ii. 2: "I remember thee, the
kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, thy walking after
Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown." Compare also Ezek. xvi.,
where Israel, before her marriage, appears as a _virgo intacta_. But
how correct soever this view may be--and every other view perverts the
whole position--it is, nevertheless, erroneous to suppose that thereby
all difficulties are removed. All which has been urged against the
former view, may be urged here also. It might have been better for the
prophet to have married one who was previously unchaste, in the hope
that her subsequent better life might wipe out her former shame, than
one previously chaste, who _was required_ to become unchaste, and to
remain so for a long time, because, [Pg 189] otherwise, the symbolical
action would have lost all its significance. The objection brought
forward, that whatever is unbecoming as an outward action, is so
likewise though it were only an internal action, can scarcely be meant
to be in earnest. For, in this case, every one knew that the prophet
was a mere type; and, with regard to his wife, this circumstance was so
obvious, that mockery certainly gave way to shame and confusion. But a
marriage outwardly entered into is never purely typical. It has always
its significance apart from the typical import, and must be
justifiable, independently of its typical character. Ridicule would, in
this case, have been not only too obvious, but to a certain extent also
well founded.

4. If the action had taken place only outwardly, it would have been
impossible to explain the abrupt transition from the symbolical action
to the mere figure, and again to the entirely naked representation as
we find it here, and _vice versa_. In the first chapter, the symbolical
action is pretty well maintained; but in the prophecy ii. 1-3 (i.
10-ii. 1), which belongs to the same section, it is almost entirely
lost sight of. As the corporeal adultery, and rejection in consequence
of it, were to be the type of the spiritual adultery and rejection, so
the receiving again of the wife, rejected on account of her
faithlessness, but now reformed, was to typify the Lord's granting
mercy to the people. But of this, not a trace is found. And yet, we are
not at liberty to say that the ground of it lies in a difference
betwixt the type and the thing typified,--in the circumstance that the
wife of the prophet did not reform. If there existed such a difference,
the type could not have been chosen at all. The contrary appears also
from ii. 9 (7).--In the whole second section, ii. 4-25 (ii. 2-23),
regard is indeed had to the symbolical action; but in a manner so free,
that it dwindles away to a mere figure, from behind which the thing
itself is continually coming into view. In chap. iii. the symbolical
action again acquires greater prominence. These phenomena can be
accounted for, only if the transaction be viewed as an inward one. In
the case of an outward transaction, the transition from the symbolical
action to the figure, and from the figure to the thing itself, would
not have been so easy. The substratum of the idea is, in that case, far
more material, and the idea itself too closely bound to it.

[Pg 190]

5. When the transaction is viewed as an outward one, insurmountable
difficulties are presented by the third chapter; and the argument drawn
from this would, in itself, be quite sufficient to settle the question:
"Then the Lord said unto me. Go again, love a woman beloved of her
friend and an adulteress." Interpreters who have adopted that view,
find themselves here in no little embarrassment. Several suppose that
the woman, whom the prophet is here commanded to love, is his former
wife, Gomer,--with her he should get reconciled. But this is quite out
of the question. In opposition to it, there is, _first_, the indefinite
signification by אשה; _then_, in ver. 2, there is the purchase of the
woman,--which supposes that she had not yet been in the possession of
the husband; and, _further_, the words, "beloved of her friend, and an
adulteress," can, according to a sound interpretation, mean only, "who,
although she is beloved by her faithful husband, will yet commit
adultery;" so that, if it be referred to the reunion with Gomer,
we should be compelled to suppose that, after being received again,
she again became unfaithful,--and in favour of this opinion, no
corresponding feature can be pointed out in the thing typified.
_Lastly_,--The word "love" cannot mean "love again," "_restitue
amoris signa_." For the love of the prophet to his wife must correspond
with the love of God to the people of Israel. That this love,
however, cannot be limited to the love which God will show to the
Congregation _after_ her conversion, is seen from the additional
clause, "And they turn themselves to other gods, and love grape-cakes."
Hence it appears that the love of God continues even during the
unfaithfulness, and consequently, also, the love of the prophet, by
which it is typified.--Equally untenable is the other opinion, that the
prophet is here called upon, by his entering into a new marriage, to
prefigure the relation of God to the Covenant-people a second time. In
that case, it is supposed either that Gomer had been rejected, because
she would not return, or that she had died. In either case, however,
she would not have been chosen by God to be a type of the people
of Israel. The ground of this choice can be no other than the
correspondence with the antitype. But this would be wanting just in the
most important point. If the ungodly part of the nation were not to be
deprived of all hope, nor the pious of all consolation, it was of
special importance to [Pg 191] point out that even the rejected
congregation would receive mercy; that the Lo-Ruhamah should be the
Ruhamah. Just the reverse of all this, however, would, according to
this view, have been typified. Two different women would, quite
naturally, suggest the thought of two different nations. Moreover, the
non-conversion of Gomer would be in direct opposition to the prophet's
own expressions. There cannot be any doubt, that her relation to the
prophet still lies at the foundation of the description in ii. 4 seqq.
For they are her three children whose former names, announcing
disaster, are changed, in ver. 25 (23), into such as are significant of
salvation. In vers. 4-6 (2-4) the whole relation, as previously
described, is presupposed. But now, she who, in ver. 9 (7), says, "I
will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me
than now," is the same who said in ver. 7 (5), "I will go after my
lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax." To the
same result we are also led by the showing of mercy to her children,
announced in the first section, ii. 1-3 (i. 10-ii. 1), where the
prophet alludes to their names; and still more distinctly in the second
section; compare ver. 25 (23). But now, the showing of mercy to the
children cannot be conceived of without the conversion of the mother,
and mercy being subsequently shown to her also. As they are to be
rejected on account of the unfaithfulness of the mother (compare ii.
6 [4], and, specially, the כי at the commencement of ver. 7), so the
ground of their being received into favour can only be the faithfulness
of the mother. Being begotten in adultery, they stand in connection
with the prophet only through the mother; as soon as he has rejected
the mother, he has nothing further to do with them.--The supposition
that Gomer had died, is evidently the result of an embarrassment which
finds itself compelled to invent such fictions.--_Finally_,--Several
interpreters, after the example of _Augustine_, suppose that no
marriage at all is here spoken of, but only a certain kindness
which the prophet should manifest to some woman, in order to
encourage her conversion. But this opinion is contradicted by
these circumstances:--that the prophet's love towards the woman must
necessarily be of the same extent, and of the same nature, as the love
of God towards the people of Israel, since the אהב and the כאהבת
exactly correspond with each other; that only conjugal love is suitable
to [Pg 192] the image; that this view falls, of itself, to the ground
when רֵעַ is referred to the prophet, as it must be; that, in such
circumstances, no satisfactory account can be given of the purchase of
the woman, etc. To all these suppositions there is, moreover, the
common objection that, according to them, no account can be given of
the omission of very important circumstances which the prophet leaves
to his hearers and readers to supply from the preceding symbolical
action. Two things only are pointed out, viz., the appropriation of the
woman by the prophet, ver. 2, and the course which he pursues for her
reformation, ver. 3. Every intervening circumstance--the criminal,
long-continued unfaithfulness of the wife--is passed over in silence.
If we suppose an outward action, this circumstance cannot be accounted
for. For we are not at liberty to draw, from the first case, any
inference bearing upon the second. The latter would again have required
a complete account. But if we suppose an inward transaction, everything
is easily explained. The question as to whether it was Gomer, or some
other person, does not come up at all. If Gomer was only an _ideal_
person, that which applied to her was equally applicable to the second
_ideal_ wife of the prophet; since both typified the same thing, and
without having an independent existence of their own, came into
consideration as types only. Thus, very naturally, the second
description was supplemented from the first, and the prophet was
allowed abruptly to point out those circumstances only which were of
special importance in the case before him.

6. If the whole be viewed as an outward transaction, there arises a
difficulty, by no means inconsiderable, as regards the children
mentioned in chap. i. These had been begotten in adultery. Even
although the mother did reform, they could yet never be considered by
the prophet as, in the full sense, his own. There would then arise a
great difference between the type and the thing typified. But if we
suppose a transaction merely inward, this difficulty vanishes. The
physical impossibility then no longer comes into consideration. That
which is possible in the thing typified, viz., that those who formerly
were not children of God, become children of God, is transferred to the
type. In point of fact, the mother does not exist beside, and apart
from, the children; she stands related to them as the whole to the
parts; and hence it is, that in ii. 25 (23), the [Pg 193] mother and
children are imperceptibly blended in the prophet's description.

7. We are led to the idea of a mere inward transaction by the
symbolical names of the first wife, and of her father. On the other
hand, if such a symbolical signification could not be proved, this
might be used as an argument for the literal interpretation,--although,
indeed, it would be only a single argument which would be obliged to
yield to other counter-arguments. For it may well be conceived that the
prophet, in order to give to the inward transaction more of the
appearance of an outward one, should have chosen names usual at that
time; just as, in a similar manner, poetry would not be satisfied with
invented names used only in certain formulas and proverbs, but makes
use of names which would not, at once, be recognised by every
one as mere fictions.--גֹּמֶר can only mean "completion" in the
passive sense. For _Segolate-forms_ in _o_ are only used to express
passive and intransitive notions, and the verb גמר is found in the
ignification "to be completed," in Ps. vii. 10, xii. 2. The sense in
which the woman, the type of the Israelitish people, is called
_completion_,--_i.e._, one who, in her whoredom, had proceeded to the
highest pitch,--is so obvious from the context, as to render nugatory
the argument which _Maurer_ (p. 360) has drawn from the omission of
express statements on this point, in order thereby to recommend his
own interpretation, which is altogether opposed to the laws of the
language. A significant proper name can, in any case, convey only an
allusion; but such an allusion was here quite sufficient, inasmuch as
the mention of the wife's whoredom had preceded. Compare, moreover,
Zech. v. 5-11, where the thought, that Israel had filled up the measure
of their sins, is represented by a woman sitting in an Ephah. _Hofmann_
explains the name Gomer by "end," "utmost ruin:" "By luxury, Israel has
become wanton, and hence it must come to an end, to utter ruin." But
this interpretation is at variance with the context, from which it must
necessarily be derived; for it is not the _punishment_, but the _guilt_
which is spoken of in the context. גמר, "Completion" (compare the גמיר,
"_perfectus_," "_absolutus_," in Ezra vii. 12), is equivalent to אשת
זנונים, "a wife of whoredom." The בת דבלים can only mean, "daughter of
the two fig-cakes," = _filia deliciarum_ = _deliciis_ [Pg 194]
_dedita_. The word "daughter" serves to indicate every relation of
dependence and submission: _Gesenius_, _Thesaurus_, p. 220. Fig-cakes
were considered as one of the greatest dainties; compare _Faber_ on
_Harmar_. i. p. 320 ff. Sensuality was the ground of the Israelites'
apostasy from the severe and strict religion of Jehovah to the idolatry
of their neighbours, which was soft, sensual, and licentious. The
occasion which had called it forth with their neighbours was one which
rendered them favourably disposed towards it. The masculine form can
offer no difficulty as to the derivation from דבלה, "fig-cake;" for the
masculine form of the plural occurs also in 1 Sam. xxv. 18; 1 Chron.
xii. 40. As little difficulty can arise from the Dual form, which may
be explained from the circumstance that fig-cakes commonly consisted of
a double layer of figs, or of double cakes (_Hesych._ παλάθη--which
Greek word is a corruption of the Hebrew דבלה--ἡ τῶν σύκων ἐπάλληλος
θέσις), and the Dual is used in reference to objects which are commonly
conceived of as a whole, consisting of two parts, even when several of
them are spoken of. That this explanation of the Dual is correct, is
proved from the circumstance, that it occurs also as the name of a
Moabitish town, _Beth-Dibhlathaim_, Jer. xlviii. 22, and _Dibhlathaim_,
Num. xxxiii. 46, which, probably, was famous for its fig-cakes.--There
existed another special reason for the prophet's choosing the Dual in
the masculine form, viz., that there was the analogy of other proper
names of men--as Ephraim, etc.--in its favour; and such an analogy was
required,--for, otherwise, the name would not have been, as it was
intended to be, a riddle. Our whole exposition, however, which was
already in substance, although without proper foundation and
justification, advanced by _Jerome_, is raised above the condition of a
mere hypothesis, by its being compared with chap. iii. There, the
words, "They turn themselves to other gods, and love grape-cakes," are
a mere paraphrasis of "_Gomer Bath Dibhlaim_." It scarcely needs to be
remarked, that the difference betwixt grape-cakes and fig-cakes does
not here come into consideration at all, inasmuch as both belonged to
the choicest dainties; and it is as evident, that "to love," and "to be
the daughter of," express the same idea. But if thus the symbolical
signification of the name be established, the correctness of the
supposition of a merely internal transaction is established [Pg 195] at
the same time. The symbolical names of the children alone could not
have furnished a sufficient foundation for this supposition. Against
this an appeal might, with the most perfect propriety, have been made
to _Shear-Jashub_, and _Maher-shalal-hash-baz_, neither of whom can, by
any means, have been an ideal person. The prophet gave them these
names; but the matter is quite different in the case of the wife, who
already had her name when the prophet took her. All that we can grant
to _Hofmann_ is, that such a providential coincidence was _possible_;
but _probable_ it could be, only if other decisive arguments favoured
the view of the transaction having been an outward one. If the name
were not symbolical--if it belonged to the real wife of the prophet, it
cannot be easily explained, why he did not afterwards mention the name
of his second wife also, but content himself with the general term, "a

8. A main argument against the literal interpretation is further
furnished by iii. 2. The verse is commonly translated: "And then I
bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and an homer of barley,
and a lethech of barley;" and is explained from the custom prevalent in
the East of purchasing wives from their parents. But it is very
doubtful whether the verb כרה has the signification "to purchase."
There is no necessity for deviating from the common signification "to
dig," in Deut. ii. 6: "And water also ye shall dig from them for money,
and drink" (compare Exod. xxi. 33); the existing wells were not
sufficient for so great a multitude, compare Gen. xxvi. 19, 21, 22. To
this philological reason, we must _further_ add, that the circumstance
would be here altogether destitute of significance, while every other
feature in the description is full of meaning. We base our
interpretation upon the supposition, already sufficiently established
by _J. D. Michaelis_, that the whole purchase-money amounted to thirty
shekels, of which the prophet paid one-half in money, and the other
half in the value of money. According to Ezek. xlv. 11, the homer
contained ten ephahs, and a lethech was the half of an homer. We have
thus fifteen pieces of silver, and also fifteen ephahs; and the
supposition is very probable that, at that time, an ephah of barley
cost a shekel,--the more so, as according to 2 Kings vii. 1, 16,
18, in the time of a declining famine, and only relative cheapness,
two-thirds of an ephah of barley cost a shekel. We are unable [Pg 196]
to say with certainty, why one-half was paid in money, and the other
half in natural productions; but a reason certainly exists, as no other
feature is without significance. Perhaps it was determined by custom,
that the sum by which servants were purchased was paid after this
manner. The lowness of their condition was thereby indicated; for
barley, _vile hordeum_, was, in all antiquity, very little esteemed.
Upon this estimate of it was based its use at the jealousy offering
(Num. v. 11 seqq.; compare _Bähr's Symb._ ii. S. 445), and the
symbolical use of the barley-bread in Judg. vii. 13. The statement
of the sum leads us, involuntarily, to think of slaves or servants.
It is the same sum which was commonly given for a man-servant, or a
maid-servant, as is expressly mentioned in Exod. xxi. 32; compare the
remarks on Zech. xi. 12. And this opinion is confirmed by the use of
ואכרה. The ears of a servant who was bound to his master to _perpetual_
obedience, were bored; compare Exod. xxxi. 5, 6; Deut. xv. 17, where it
is added: "And also unto thy maid-servant thou shalt do likewise." In
conformity with the custom of omitting the special members of the body,
in expressions frequently occurring, it is said simply "to bore." The
meaning then is: I made her my slave. It was not a free woman, then,
whom the prophet desired in marriage, but a servant, whom he was
obliged, previous to marriage, to redeem from servitude; who was
therefore under a double obligation to him, and over whom he had a
double claim. The reference to the thing to be typified is quite
apparent. It was not a free, independent people whom the Lord chose,
but a people whom He was obliged first to redeem from vile servitude,
before He entered into a nearer relation to them. This redemption
appears, throughout, as a ransoming from the house of bondage,--and the
wonderful dealings of the Lord, as the price which He paid. Compare,
_e.g._, Deut. vii. 8: "But because the Lord loved you, and because He
kept His oath which He had sworn to your fathers, He has brought you
out with a mighty hand, and redeemed thee (ויפדך) from the house of
bondmen (מבית עבדים), from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." See
also Deut. ix. 26. It is upon this redemption that the exhortation to
the people is founded--that, as the Lord's servants, they should serve
Him alone; comp., _e.g._, the introduction to the Decalogue. Thus, we
have here also a feature so evidently typical, [Pg 197] so plainly
transferred from the thing typified to the type, that we cannot any
longer think of an outward transaction. This argument, however, is, in
the main point, quite independent of the philological interpretation of
כרה. Even if it be translated "I bought her to me," the circumstance,
notwithstanding, always remains, that the wife was redeemed from
slavery, unless there be a denial of the connection of the sum
mentioned with Exod. xxi. 32, and Zech. xi. 12, where the thirty pieces
of silver likewise appear as the estimate of a servant's value; and
this circumstance evidently suggests the inward character of the

The first germs of the representation of God's relation to Israel under
the figure of marriage, are found so early as in the Pentateuch,
Exod. xxxiv. 15, 16; Lev. xx. 5, 6, xvii. 7; Num. xiv. 33--where
idolatry, and apostasy from the Lord in general, are represented as
whoredom--Deut. xxxii. 16, 21; compare the author's _Dissertations on
the Genuineness of the Pent._ vol. i. p. 107 ff.; and commentary on the
Song of Solomon, S. 261. But it was only through the Song of Solomon
that it became quite a common thing to represent the higher love
under the figure of the lower. It is not through accident that this
representation appears so prominent just in Hosea, where it not only
pervades the first three chapters, but returns continually in the
second part also. Hosea, being one of the oldest prophets, was
specially called to fit, as a new link, into the Song of Solomon, which
was the last link in the chain of Sacred Literature. There are,
moreover, in the details, other undeniable references to the Song of
Solomon, which coincide with this connection with it, as regards the
fundamental idea. The basis, however, for this whole figurative
representation is Gen. ii. 24, where marriage appears as the most
intimate of all earthly relations of love, and must, for this very
reason, have a character of absolute exclusiveness.

                         CHAP. I.-II. 3 (II. 1).

The section chap. i.-iii. is distinguished from the other prophecies by
this,--that, in it, the relation of the Lord to the [Pg 198] people of
Israel Is represented, _throughout_, under the figure and symbol of
marriage, whilst this same mode of representation is soon relinquished
wherever else it occurs in the book. By this closer limitation, the
objections of _Böckel_ and _Stuck_ to the common division of the
collection into two parts, are set aside. This first portion may be
divided into three parts, which are, in one respect, closely connected,
as is shown by the _Fut._ with the _Vav Conv._ in iii. 1, and likewise
by the fact that this chapter requires to be supplemented from the two
preceding ones, while, in another respect, they may be considered as
wholes, complete in themselves. They do not, by any means, so
distribute the contents among themselves, as that the first describes
the apostasy; the second, the punishment; and the third, the return and
restoration; but each of them contains all these three features, and
yet in such a manner, that here the one feature, and there the other,
is more fully expanded; so that the whole description is complete, only
when all the three parts are taken together. In the portion now before
us, the covenant relation into which the Lord entered with Israel is
typified by a marriage which the prophet contracted at the command of
the Lord; the apostasy of the people, and especially of the ten tribes,
to whom the prophet was sent in the first instance, is typified by the
adultery of the wife, by the divine punishment, and the unpropitious
names which he gives to the children born by the adulterous wife. In
chap. ii. 1-3, there follows the announcement of salvation more
directly, and only with a simple allusion to the symbol.

                                * * * * *

Ver. 1. "_The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri,
in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in
the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel._ Ver. 2. _At
the beginning when the Lord spake to Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: Go
take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms; for the
land is whoring away from the Lord._" דִּבֶּר is never a noun--not even in
Jer. v. 13--but always the 3d pers. _Pret. Piel_. The _status constr._
תחלת is explained by the fact, that the whole of the following sentence
is treated as one substantive idea: the beginning "of the Lord hath
spoken," [Pg 199] etc., for "the beginning of speaking." יום דבר יהוה,
_the day of_ "_the Lord spoke_," instead of, "the day on which the Lord
spoke." Similar constructions occur also in Is. xxix. 1, and Jer.
xlviii. 6.--The _Fut._ with _Vav Conv._, ויאמר, "and then He spoke,"
carries forward the discourse, as if there had preceded: the Lord began
to speak to Hosea. There is here a _constructio ad sensum_. It is
intentionally, and in order the more distinctly to point out the idea
of the beginning, that the prophet has made use of the noun תחלת, not
of the verb. The construction of דבר with ב, with the signification "to
speak to some one," may be explained thus:--that the words are, as it
were, put into the mind of the hearer in order that they may remain
there. Several interpreters erroneously translate, "spoke through:"
others, following _Jerome_ (the last is _Simson_), "spoke in;" as if
thereby the act of speaking were to be designated as an inward one. The
difference between outward and inward speaking disappears in the
vision; and, for this reason, we cannot imagine that there is any
intention of here noticing it particularly. Everything which takes
place in the vision is substantially, indeed, internal, but in point of
form it is external. Moreover, דבר with ב several times occurs in other
passages also, where the signification, "to speak to some one," is
alone admissible. Thus 1 Sam. xxv. 39, where _Simson's_ explanation,
"David sent and _ordered_ to speak _about_ Abigail," is set aside by
ver. 40. The analogy of the construction of the verbs of hearing and
seeing with ב is likewise in favour of our explanation.[1]--A wife of
_whoredoms_ and _children of whoredoms_. The wife belongs to whoredoms
in so far as she is _devoted to them_; the children, in [Pg 200] so far
as they _proceed_ from them. For we cannot suppose that the children
themselves are described as given to whoredom. Such a thought would
here be altogether out of place. For whoredom is here only the general
designation of adultery, as, by way of applying it to the case in
question, it is immediately subjoined, "away from Jehovah." The subject
of consideration is only the relation of the wife and children to the
prophet, as the type of the Lord; and with this view, it is only the
origin of the children from an adulterous wife which can be of
importance. That this alone is regarded, appears from ii. 6 (4),
compared with ver. 7 (5). That the children, as children of whoredoms,
deserve no compassion, is founded upon the fact that their mother plays
the harlot. אשת זנונים is stronger than זונה; it expresses the idea
that the woman is given, soul and body, to whoredoms. The same emphasis
is expressed also by the analogous designations: man of blood, of
deceit, etc.--Calvin says, "She is called a wife of whoredoms, because
she was long accustomed to them, gave herself over to the lusts of all
indiscriminately, did not prostitute herself once, or twice, or to a
few, but to the debauchery of every one." It is not without reason that
"_take_" is connected with the children also. The prophet shall, as it
were, receive and take, along with the wife, those who, without his
agency, have been born of her. It is self-evident, and has been,
moreover, formerly proved, that we cannot speak of children who were
previously born of the prophet's wife; but that, on the contrary, the
children are they whose birth is narrated in ver. 4 seqq. And that we
cannot consider these children as children of the prophet, as is done
by several interpreters (_Drus._: "_Accipe uxorem et suscipe ex eâ
liberos_"), is obvious from their being designated "children of
whoredoms;" from the word "take" itself, which is expressive of the
passive conduct of the prophet; from the fact that, in the subsequent
verses, the conceiving and bearing of the wife are alone constantly
spoken of, but never, as in Is. viii. 3, the begetting by the prophet;
and, _finally_, from the relation of the type to the thing typified. By
the latter, it is absolutely required that children and mother stand in
the same relation of alienation from the legitimate husband and father.
The words in ver. 3, "She bare him a son," are not indeed in opposition
to it, for these words are only intended to mark the deceit of the wife
who [Pg 201] offers to her husband the children begotten in adultery,
as if they were his, and, at the same time, to bring out the patience
and forbearance of the husband who receives them, and brings them up as
if they were his, although he knows that they are not. In like manner,
the Lord treated, for centuries, the rebellious Israelites as if they
were His children, and granted to them the inheritance which was
destined only for the children, along with so many other blessings,
until at length He declared them to be bastards, by carrying them away
into captivity. The last words state the ground of the symbolical
action. The causal כי is explained from the fact that the import of a
symbolical action is also its ground. The _Inf. absol._ preceding the
_tempus finitum_ gives special emphasis to the verbal idea. The prophet
thereby indicates that, in using the expression "to whore," he does so
deliberately, and because it corresponds exactly to the thing, and
wishes us to understand it in its full strength and compass. In calling
the thing by its right name, he silences, beforehand, every attempt at
palliating and extenuating it. Of such palliations and extenuations the
Jews had abundance. They had not the slightest notion that they had
become unfaithful to their God, but considered their intercourse
with idols as trifling and allowable attentions which they paid to
them.--_Manger_ understands by whoredoms, their placing, at the same
time, their confidence in man; but from what follows, where idolatry
alone is constantly spoken of, it is obvious that this is inadmissible.
If this special thing be reduced to its idea, it is true that trusting
in men is, then, not less comprehended under it than idolatry, inasmuch
as this idea is the turning away from God to that which is not God.
And, from this dependence of what is special upon the idea, it follows
that the description has its eternal truth, and does not become
antiquated, even where the folly of gross idolatry has been long since
perceived.--הארין, the definite land, the land of the prophet, the land
of Israel.--Concerning the last words, Ps. lxxiii. 27 may be compared,
where זנה מן occurs with a similar signification. This phrase contains
an allusion to the common expression, "to walk with, or after, God;"
compare 2 Kings xxiii. 3. According to _Calvin_, the spiritual chastity
of the people of God consists in their following the Lord.

Ver. 3. "_And he went and took Gamer the daughter of Dibhlaim, and she
conceived and bare him a son._"

[Pg 202]

Many interpreters suppose that, by the three children, three different
generations are designated, and the gradual degeneracy of the people,
which sinks deeper and deeper. But this opinion must certainly be
rejected. There is no gradation perceptible. On the contrary, the
announcement of the total destruction of the kingdom of Israel is
connected immediately with the name of the first child, ver. 4. Nor is
it legitimate to say, as _Rückert_ does, that the three children are a
designation of the "conditions" in which the Israelites would be placed
in consequence of their apostasy from the Lord. For, how could mercy be
shown to _conditions_? The right view rather is, that the wife and
children are both the people of Israel, viewed only in different
relations. In the first designation, they are viewed as a unity; in the
latter, as a plurality proceeding from, and depending upon, this unity.
The circumstance that the prophet mentions the birth of children at
all, and the birth of three only, is accounted for by their names. The
children exist only that they may receive a name. The three names must,
therefore, not be considered separately, but must be viewed together.
In that case they present a corresponding picture of the fate impending
upon Israel. The circumstance that the mother and sons are
distinguished in Hosea, rests upon the Song of Solomon. (Compare the
more copious remarks in my commentary on the Song of Sol. iii. 4: "By
the mother, the people is designated according to its historical
continuity,--by the daughter or sons, according to its existence at any

Ver. 4. "_And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a
little_ (while), _and I visit the blood of Jezreel upon the house of
Jehu, and cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel._"

The name "Jezreel" is, by most expositors, explained in this passage as
meaning: "God disperses." This they maintain to be its real
signification, according to the etymology, and that all the rest is
only an allusion. But this exposition is erroneous, as _Manger_ has
correctly perceived. For, 1. No instance occurs where the verb זרע has
this signification. When applied to men, it is always used only in a
good sense: compare ii. 25, Ezek. xxxvi. 9, and the subsequent remarks
on Zech. x. 9. The idea of _scattering_ is not at all the fundamental
one; so that the signification, to _disperse_, is much further from the
fundamental [Pg 203] signification than might, at first sight, appear.
2. The subsequent words must be considered as an explanation of the
name Jezreel, as is obvious from the corresponding explanations of the
names Lo-Ruhamah in ver. 6, and Lo-Ammi in ver. 9, which are intimately
connected with these names. But in this explanation, not even a single
word is said on the subject of the dispersion of the people of
Israel. The circumstance that, in this explanation, Jezreel occurs
as a proper name, without any regard being paid to its appellative
signification[2]--an allusion to which occurs only in the announcement
of the salvation--shows that here too it must be viewed in the same
way. The correct view is this. Jezreel was the place where the last
great judgment of God upon the kingdom of Israel had been executed. The
apostasy from the Lord, and the innocent blood of His servants, shed by
Jezebel and the whole house of Ahab, had been there avenged upon them
by Jehu, the founder of the dynasty which was reigning at the time of
the prophet. At the command of God, Jehu is anointed as king by one of
the sons of the prophets sent by Elisha, 2 Kings ix. In vers. 6-9 the
Lord says to him through the latter: "I anoint thee king over the
people of the Lord, over Israel. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab
thy master; and _I avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and
the blood of all the servants of the Lord at the hand of Jezebel, and
the whole house of Ahab shall perish._ And I give the house of Ahab
like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of
Baasha the son of Ahijah." The execution corresponded with the command.
When Jehu approached Jezreel, Joram the son of Ahab went out against
him, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite, ver. 21.
Appealing to the declaration of the Lord, [Pg 204] "Surely I have seen
the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, and I will requite thee
in this portion of ground" (ver. 26), Jehu orders the corpse of the
slain king to be cast thither. At Jezreel, Jezebel too found a
disgraceful death. Thither, as to the central point of vengeance, were
sent the heads of the seventy royal princes, who had been slain, x.
1-10, and there Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab, ver.
11.--The royal house, and, along with it, all Israel, are now anew to
become a Jezreel; _i.e._, the same divine punitive justice which, at
that time, was manifested at Jezreel, is to be exhibited anew. The
reason why this should be, is stated in the explanation. The house of
Jehu, and all Israel, shall become a Jezreel, in as far as punishment
is concerned, because they have become a Jezreel with respect to guilt,
and because, as in former times at Jezreel, so now again, blood that
has been shed cries to the Lord for vengeance. Where a new carcase is,
there the eagles must anew be gathered together.--It must have, already
appeared from this, how we understand the words, "I visit the blood of
Jezreel," used in the explanation of the name of Jezreel, in the verse
under consideration. According to the prophet's custom of designating,
by the name of an old thing, any new thing which is substantially
similar to it, the new guilt is marked by the name of the old; and it
is marked as _blood_, because the former guilt was pre-eminently
blood-guiltiness;[3] and as the blood of Jezreel, because the former
blood-guiltiness had been especially contracted there, and it was there
where the punishment was executed. The deep impression, which just this
mode of representation must have produced, must not be overlooked. The
sins formerly committed at Jezreel were acknowledged as such by the
whole people, and especially by the royal house, whose whole rights
were based upon this acknowledgment. The recollection of the fearful
punishment was still in the minds of all; but they did not by any means
imagine that they were implicated in the same guilt, and had to expect
the same punishment. That which they considered as already [Pg 205]
absolutely past, the prophet, by a single word, brings again into the
present, and the immediate future. By a single word of dreadful sound
he terrified and aroused them out of their self-deception (which will
not recognise its own sin in the picture of the sins of others), and
out of their carnal security. Entirely analogous are 2 Kings ix. 31,
where Jezebel says to Jehu, "Hast thou peace, Zimri, murderer of his
master?" which _Schmid_ well explains by--"It is time for thee to
desist, that thou mayest not experience the same punishment as Zimri;"
Zech. v. 11, where the prophet mentions Shinar as the place of Israel's
future banishment; and x. 11, where he calls their future oppressors by
the names of Asshur and Egypt, and describes a new passing through the
Red Sea. In Revelation, the degenerate church is called by the names of
Sodom and Egypt (xi. 18); the true Church, by Jerusalem; Rome, by
Babylon.--The explanation which we have given will be its own defence
against the current, and evidently erroneous, expositions. Many
interpreters understand, by the blood of Jezreel, the slaughter of the
family of Ahab which was accomplished there by Jehu. It is, indeed,
quite correct to say that a deed objectively good does not thereby
become one which is subjectively so. That which has been willed and
commanded by God may itself become an object of divine punishment, if
it be not performed from love and obedience to God, but from culpable
selfishness. But that Jehu was actuated by motives so bad, is
sufficiently obvious from the circumstance, that he himself did the
very thing which he had punished in the house of Ahab. _Calvin_ rightly
remarks: "That slaughter is, as far as God is concerned, a just
vengeance; but, as far as Jehu is concerned, it is open murder." But
yet, this deed cannot be regarded as the principal crime of Jehu and
his family. We must not overlook other crimes far more heinous, and
consider the guilty blood shed by them as the sole ground of their
punishment. That this was indeed considered as guilt, but only as a
lower degree of it, is clearly seen from 1 Kings xvi. 7, where
destruction is announced to Baasha, who had destroyed the house of
Jeroboam I., "on account of all the evil which he did in the sight of
the Lord, in provoking Him to anger with the works of his hands, so
that he may be like the house of Jeroboam, and because he killed him."
The main crime is, that Baasha had become like the house of Jeroboam.
[Pg 206] What he perpetrated against this house is the minor crime, and
becomes a crime only through the former.--It is worthy of notice that
"the blood of Jezreel" exactly corresponds, according to our
explanation, with the expression, "so that he may be like the house of
Jeroboam." It may be further noticed, that, in the deed of Jehu, every
better feeling cannot be excluded. If the command of God had been used
by him merely as a pretext, we could not account for the praise and the
promises given to him on account of this very deed, 2 Kings x. 30. It
is true that the limitation of the promise shows that pure motives
alone did not prevail with him.[4]--"The bloody deed to which the house
of Jehu owed its elevation" nowhere else appears as the cause of the
catastrophe which befell this house. That which he had done against the
house of Ahab, whose sins were crying to heaven for vengeance far more
than those of Baasha, is, in 2 Kings x. 30, 31, represented as his
_merit_. His _guilt_ consisted in his not departing from the ways of
Jeroboam, and in his making Israel to sin. It is this guilt alone
which, in the Book of Kings, is charged against all the members of his
family,--against Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, in 2 Kings xiii. 2; against
Jehoash, in 2 Kings xiii. 11; against Jeroboam, in 2 Kings xiv. 24;
against Zechariah, under whom the catastrophe took place, in 2 Kings
xv. 9: "And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his
fathers had done, and departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of
Nebat, who had made Israel to sin." According to the context, we must,
in the first place, think of the _religious guilt_; the blood of
Jezreel, in the verse under consideration, must correspond with the
_whoredoms_ in ver. 2.--Moreover, the extension of the punishment to
all Israel could not, according to this explanation, be understood; for
the deed was only that of Jehu and his assistants. How, then, could not
only the house of Jehu be punished, but also [Pg 207] the kingdom of
the house of Israel be destroyed, and its bow broken in the valley of

According to another interpretation still more prevalent, "the blood of
Jezreel" denotes "all the evil deeds committed by the Israelitish kings
in Jezreel." But this interpretation is sufficiently invalidated by the
single circumstance, that the residence of the family of Jehu, which,
after all, alone comes into consideration in this place, was, from the
very beginning, not Jezreel, but Samaria; compare 2 Kings x. 36, xiii.
10, xiv. 23.

Two particulars are contained in the announcement of punishment.
_First_,--The whole house of Jehu, and _then_ all Israel, are to become
a Jezreel as regards punishment, as they are even now in point of
guilt; and, in this announcement, the significant _paronomasia_ must
not be overlooked between _Israel_--the designation of the dignity of
the people, and _Jezreel_--that which is base in deeds and condition.
Calvin makes prominent the last-mentioned feature only: "You are," he
explains, "a degenerate people, you differ in nothing from your king
Ahab." We cannot, however, follow him in this explanation; the words,
"I cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel," cannot, as
several interpreters suppose, mean merely, "I will put an end to the
dominion of the family of Jehu over Israel." That these words rather
announce the cessation of every native regal government, and hence of
the entire national independence, is so evident, that it stands in need
of no proof. Both of these features are, in their fulfilment, separated
indeed by a long period of time (see the Introduction); but they are
nevertheless closely connected. With the ruin of the house of Jehu, the
strength of the kingdom of Israel was broken; from that time it was
only a living corpse. The fall of the house of Jehu was the beginning
of the end,--the commencement of the process of putrefaction. The
omission, in the inscription, of all mention of any of the kings after
Jeroboam, coincides with the circumstance that the fall of the house of
Jehu is connected with the fall of the kingdom. With regard, however,
to the former event, Hosea had an earlier prophecy before him. It had
been prophesied to Jehu (2 Kings x. 30) that his children should sit on
the throne until the fourth generation. Now, since Jeroboam was the
great-grandson of Jehu, the glory of [Pg 208] this family must come to
an end with his son. But at no period did the house of Jehu, and the
kingdom of Israel, seem to be so far from destruction as under the
reign of Jeroboam; and, hence, it was time that the forgotten prophecy
should be revived, and, at the same time, expanded.

Ver. 5. "_And it shall come to pass at that day, that I break the bow
of Israel in the valley of Jezreel._"

Of this, Calvin gives the following paraphrase: "Ye are puffed up with
pride; ye oppose your fierceness to God, because ye excel in weapons
and strength; because ye are warlike men, ye believe that God can do
nothing against you. But surely your bows shall not prevent His hands
from destroying you."--In the valley of Jezreel, Israel shall become,
as to punishment, what they already are, as to guilt, viz., a
"Jezreel." The verse is a further expansion of the last words of the
preceding one, to which the words, "at that day," refer. He whose bow
is broken is defenceless and powerless; compare Gen. xlix. 24; 1 Sam.
ii. 4; Jer. xlix. 35. It is evident that we can here think only of the
defeat of Israel by the Assyrians, the consequence of which was the
total overthrow of the kingdom of Israel. But it is not to be
overlooked, that the Assyrians, who in the second section of Hosea are
frequently mentioned in express terms, as the instruments of God's
punishment, are not spoken of at all as such in the first section,
which belongs to the reign of Jeroboam. Amos likewise abstains from
mentioning any name of the enemies. The Assyrians had not at that time
appeared on the historical horizon. But the prophecy was to evince
itself as such, by the fact of the announcement of the judgment at a
time when its instruments were not as yet prepared; just as Elijah, in
1 Kings xviii. 41, hears the rushing of the rain before there was even
a cloud in the sky.--We are not told in the historical books at what
place Israel was defeated by the Assyrians. _Jerome_, in his remarks on
our passage, says that it took place in the valley of Jezreel. It is
very probable, however, that this is only an inference clothed in the
garb of history. But even apart from the passage under review, the
matter is very probable. The valley of Jezreel or Esdrelon "is the
largest, and at the same time the most fertile, plain of Palestine. The
brook of Kishon, which is, next to Jordan, the most important river of
Palestine, waters and fructifies it, and, [Pg 209] with its
tributaries, flows through it in all directions." (_Ritter_, S. 689.)
In all the wars which were carried on within the territories of the ten
tribes, especially when the enemies came from the North, it was the
natural battle-field. "It was, in the first centuries, the station of a
legion (μέγα πεδίον λεγεῶνος); it is the place where the troops of
Nebuchadnezzar, Vespasian, Justinian, the Sultan Saladdin, and many
other conquering armies were encamped, down to the unsuccessful
expedition of _Buonaparte_, whose success in Syria here terminated.
_Clarke_ found erected here the tents of the troops of the Pacha of
Damascus. In later times, it was the scene of the skirmishes between
the parties of hostile hordes of Arabs and Turkish pachas. In the
political relations of Asia Minor, it is to this locality that there
must be ascribed the total devastation and depopulation of Galilee,
which once was so flourishing, full of towns, and thickly populated."
(_Ritter_, _Erdk._ 1 _Ausg._ ii. S. 387.) We may add, that, in the same
plain also, the battle was fought in which Saul and Jonathan perished
(for the plain of Esdrelon is bounded on the south-east by the
mountains of Gilboa), and so likewise was the battle between Ahab and
the Syrians. To it also belonged the plain near the town of Megiddo,
where Josiah, in the battle against Pharaoh-Necho, was mortally
wounded. Compare _Rosenmüller_, _Alt._ ii. 1, p. 149.

Ver. 6. "_And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And He said to
him, Call her name Lo-Ruhamah_ (_i.e._, one who has not obtained
mercy): _for I will not continue any more to have mercy upon the house
of Israel; for I will take away from them._"--Interpreters ask why
the second child was a female; and this question is by no means an
idle one, since the prophet everywhere else adheres closely to the
subject-matter, and adds no feature, merely for the sake of giving
vividness to the picture. We cannot for a moment suppose, as _Jerome_
and others do, that the female child denotes a more degraded
generation. For why, then, is the third again a male child? The
supposition proceeds from the altogether unfounded notion that the
three children denote different generations. The reason must, on the
contrary, be sought for in the name. _Schmid_ says: "It seems to have
reference to the weakness of the sex. For the female sex [Pg 210] finds
greater sympathy than the male." The verb רחם does not denote any kind
of love, but only the love of him who is high to him who is low, of the
strong to the weak; and hence the LXX., whom Peter follows in 1 Pet.
ii. 10 (οὐκ ἠλεημένη), render the word more accurately than Paul, in
Rom. ix. 25 (οὐκ ἠγαπημένη). Hence it is never used of man's love to
God, but only of the love of God to man,--of His mercy. The only
passage which seems to contradict this, Ps. xviii. 2, is not to the
purpose, as, there, the _Kal_ is used. But the female sex, being
weaker, stands in greater need of the compassion of men, than does the
male. Is. ix. 16. The female child places the neediness and
helplessness of the people in more striking contrast with the refusal
of help from Him who alone can bestow it. The רחמה is either
_Participle_ in _Pual_ which has cast off the מ, or the 3d fem. _Pret.
in pause_; thus _Cocceius_, who explains it by: "She has not obtained
mercy." It is in favour of the latter view, that according to _Ewald_,
§ 310 b, לא does not often stand before a _Participle_. The words, "_I
will not continue_," refer to the former great manifestations of divine
mercy, and especially the last under Jeroboam, which the people still,
at that time, enjoyed; compare 2 Kings xiii. 23: "And the Lord was
gracious unto them, and had _mercy_ upon them, and turned towards them
because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not
destroy them, neither cast them from His presence." Upon this contrast,
also, rests the mild expression, "I will not have mercy,"--an
expression which, in virtue of this contrast, becomes stronger than any
other. Several interpreters here lay peculiar stress upon the
circumstance, that "the _house_ of Israel" is spoken of. This, the
kingdom of Israel, they say, as an independent state, is given over to
everlasting destruction; it is only single individuals who shall obtain
mercy after they have joined the house of David. But the supposition
that "house of Israel" is used in this sense, is altogether unfounded.
The house is equivalent to the family; and the prophets speak of "a
house of Israel" after the destruction, no less than before it. The
words in ii. 6 (4), "I will not have mercy upon her children," and the
circumstance that she who is here called Lo-Ruhamah is afterwards
called Ruhamah, also militate against referring "house of Israel" to
the state. The right view rather is, that the denial of mercy [Pg 211]
must not be understood absolutely, but relatively. It is not for ever
that mercy shall be denied to them, but for a time,--until God's
punitive justice shall have been satisfied. Just as Israel shall not
always remain Jezreel, Lo-Ammi shall, at some future time, become again
Ammi.--The last words are, by the greater number of recent
interpreters, almost unanimously explained: "That I should forgive
them." But, in that case, we can perceive no reason why the _Inf. abs._
should be placed before the _tempus finitum_. Why should the verbal
idea here be rendered so emphatic? In addition to this, the extreme
feebleness of the sense would be remarkable. Nothing would be said that
would not be already implied in the words, "I will not continue any
more to have mercy." But, on the other hand, we obtain a very suitable
sense if we translate thus: "I will take away from them." The object is
not mentioned, just because _every thing_ is to be understood. The
prominence given to the verbal idea is then accounted for from its
being contrasted with the _having mercy_, which implies _giving_. There
is then, moreover, a very striking contrast with the standing phrase
נשא עון ל, or also simply נשא ל: I shall take away from them, not,
however, as hitherto, their guilt (compare Amos vii. 8), but all that
they have. _Calvin_ had previously directed attention to the
circumstance that the following verse also is in favour of the
translation by _tollere_: "_Servare et tollere inter se opponit
propheta._" Chap. v. 14 may also be compared, where נשא is used in a
similar manner, the object being likewise omitted: "I will tear and go
away, I will take away, and there is none that delivereth."

Ver. 7. "_And I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and I save
them by the Lord their God; and I do not save them by bow, and by
sword, and by war, and by horses, and by horsemen._"

Several interpreters suppose that mercy is here promised to Judah as a
_consolation_ to Israel, inasmuch as the latter should partake in it.
But this view is erroneous. From the antithesis to ver. 6, it is
evident that mercy is here promised to Judah for the time when Israel
shall not find mercy; and we are not at liberty to anticipate the time
described in ii. 1-3, when both become partakers of mercy. This is
apparent also from the circumstance that in vers. 8, 9, the threatening
of punishment [Pg 212] to Israel is still continued. It can then only
be the intention of the prophet, by describing the mercy which Judah
their brethren should experience, to sharpen the goad, more effectually
to rouse Israel from their false security, and to direct their
attention to the bad foundation of the entire constitution of their
political and ecclesiastical affairs, in consequence of which they
considered as legitimate that which, in Judah, was only an abuse. As
the showing of mercy to Judah runs parallel with the withholding of it
from Israel, we can, primarily and chiefly, think only of the different
fates of the two, during the Assyrian dominion. The wonderful
deliverance of Judah on that occasion is foretold by Isaiah, xxxi. 8,
in a similar manner: "And Asshur falls through the sword not of a man,
and the sword not of a man devours him." We must not, however, limit
ourselves to this event; a preference of Judah over Israel, a remnant
of divine mercy appeared, even when they were carried away into
captivity. During its continuance, they were not altogether deprived of
marks of the continuance of the divine election. Prophets continued to
labour among them, as immediate ambassadors of God. Wonderful events
showed them in the midst of the Gentiles the superiority of their God,
and prepared the way for their deliverance. They maintained, in a far
greater degree, their national constitution; and, _lastly_, their
affliction lasted for a far shorter time than did that of the
Israelites. Contrary to all human expectation, their affairs soon took
a favourable turn, in which only a comparatively small number of their
Israelitish brethren partook, while, for the rest, the withholding of
mercy continued. But it is just by means of this contrast with the lot
of Judah, that the announcement of the lot of Israel appears in its
true light. Without this contrast, one might have imagined, that the
announcement of the prophet did not go beyond his human vision. It
would, of course, appear highly probable that a kingdom so weak as that
of Israel,--weak, especially when compared with those great Asiatic
kingdoms which were great already, and yet were continually striving
after enlargement,--a kingdom, moreover, placed in the midst between
these kingdoms, and their natural enemy and rival, Egypt--should not
have been able to maintain its existence for any length of time. But
this probability existed in a far higher decree in the case of the
kingdom of [Pg 213] Judah, which was smaller and weaker still, and
which had suffered much through Jehoash the father of Jeroboam (2 Kings
xiv. 13), under the latter of whom, the splendour and glory of Israel
had been so greatly increased. But that which prevented this
probability from becoming a reality lay altogether beyond the sphere of
human calculation, as Hosea himself here so emphatically expresses. And
by _such_ help, the kingdom of Israel would have been delivered, no
less than the kingdom of Judah. It is true that this prediction of
Hosea is no prediction of some accidental event, but has its foundation
in the idea. The lots of Israel and Judah could not be otherwise than
so different, after their different position in reference to the
Covenant-God was once fixed. Nor is this prediction one which has
ceased after its first and literal fulfilment, but is constantly and
anew realizing itself. The proceeding of God towards the different
Churches and States is regulated by their conduct towards Him. The
history of the world is a judgment of the world. But even to know this
truth is, in itself, a supernatural gift; and they only are able to use
it with safety, to whom God has given an insight into the mysteries of
His government of the world. This becomes very evident, if we observe
how often the predictions of those who knew the truth in general, down
to _Bengel_ and his followers, have been put to shame by the result.
God's ways are not our ways. No one knows them except Himself, and
those to whom He will reveal them. The extent to which the prophecy
rests on the idea is, moreover, clearly seen by the words, "And I save
them _by Jehovah their God_." Here we have the ground of their
deliverance. Jehovah is the God of Judah, and, hence, the source of
their salvation, which does not cease to flow although all human
sources be dried up. The reason why Israel does not obtain mercy must
then be, that Jehovah is not their God. That this contrast is implied
here, is confirmed by iii. 5: "Afterwards shall the children of Israel
return and seek the _Lord their God_, and David their king." That which
in aftertimes they shall seek, and thereby obtain salvation, they must
have lost now; and this loss must be the source of their affliction.
Calvin makes the following pertinent remark: "The antithesis between
the false gods and Jehovah must here be kept in mind. Jehovah was the
God of the house of Judah; and hence, it is just as if the prophet had
said, 'Ye [Pg 214] indeed profess the name of God, but ye worship the
devil, and not God. Ye have no part in Jehovah. He resides in His
temple, and has pledged His faithfulness to David when He commanded him
to build Him a temple on Mount Zion; but from you, the true God has
departed!'" (Compare Amos ii. 8, where the prophet speaks of the god of
the ten tribes as one who belongs to them alone, and with whom he has
nothing to do.) In contrast with Him who alone could grant help, and
whom Israel did not possess, but Judah did, the prophet enumerates, in
the remaining part of the verse under consideration, the aids which
could not afford any real help, in which Israel was, at that time, much
richer than Judah, and in which they placed a false confidence. Compare
x. 13: "Thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty
men;" Ps. xx. 8; Mic. v. 9 seqq.; and Deut. xxxiii. 29, where the Lord
is spoken of as the only true bulwark and armour: "Happy art thou,
Israel: who is like unto thee? a people saved by the Lord, the shield
of thy help, thy proud sword: thine enemies shall be liars unto thee,
and thou shalt tread upon their high places." Calvin says, "God does
not require any other aids; His own strength is quite sufficient. The
sum and substance is therefore this, that although the weakness of the
kingdom of Judah excites the contempt of all, this shall be no obstacle
to its deliverance by the grace of God, although there be no help at
all from men."--The prophet has, at the same time, before his eyes the
great events of former history, where, when all human resources failed,
the power of God had shown itself to be alone quite sufficient.--We
cannot assert with _Gesenius_, that "war" should here be quite
identical with "weapons of war;" it rather comprehends everything which
is required for war, viz., the prudence of the commanders, the valour
of the heroes, the strength of the army, etc. "Heroes and horsemen"
are, however, specially mentioned, because in ancient times the main
strength of the armies lay in these. Even Mahommed thought himself
entitled to hold up a victory which he had obtained without cavalry--by
infantry alone--as a miracle wrought immediately by God; comp. _Abulf.
vit. Moh._ pp. 72, 91.

Ver. 8. "_And she weaned Lo-Ruhamah, and conceived, and bare a son._"

Ver. 9. "_And He said, Call his name, Lo-Ammi_ (_i.e._, not [Pg 215] my
people); _for you are not My people, and I, not will I be yours._"

As the prophet everywhere else adheres closely to his subject-matter,
as, indeed, he allows the figure to recede behind the subject of his
discourse, but never the opposite, we cannot well imagine that the
weaning is mentioned merely for the purpose of making the description
more graphic. Calvin says, "I do not doubt that the prophet intends
here to commend the Lord's long-continued mercy and forbearance towards
that people." The unfaithfulness of the wife, and the forbearance of
the prophet, do indeed continue for years. But it is better to suppose
that the mention of the weaning is intended to separate the territory
of Lo-Ruhamah from the following birth, and to call forth the idea
that, now, there may follow one of better import.--The literal
translation of the close of the verse is, "And I will not be to
you"--equivalent to, "I will not any longer belong to you." We cannot
assume, as _Manger_ does, that לאלהים has been here left out, nor, as
others do, that it must be supplied. Since it is God who speaks, "to
you," or "yours," is sufficiently definite. Similar is Ezek. xvi. 8:
"And I entered into a covenant with thee, and thou becamest Mine,"
ותהיי לי; Ps. cxviii. 6: "The Lord is mine, יהוה לי, I will not fear."
The explanation given by some, "I shall not be among you," is too
limited. It is the highest happiness to possess God Himself, with all
His gifts and blessings, and the greatest misery to lose Him. The
fulfilment of this threatening is reported in 2 Kings xvii. 18: "And
the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight;
and there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone;" comp. also Is.

The first three verses of the following chapter ought to have been
connected with the first chapter; for they contain the announcement of
salvation which is necessary to complete the first prophecy.

Chap. ii. 1. "_And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the
sand of the sea, which is not measured nor numbered. And it shall come
to pass, in the place where it was said unto them, Not my people ye, it
shall be said unto them. Sons of the living God._"

The first point which requires to be determined, is the subject of the
verse. Every other reference except that to the [Pg 216] ten tribes is
here out of the question; inasmuch as the same who, in the preceding
verse, were called Lo-Ammi, are now to be called sons of the living
God. Several of the ancient expositors here assume a sudden transition
to the Christian Church; but such would be a _salto mortale_. Nor are
we to understand by the children of Israel, all the descendants of
Jacob; for the children of Judah are distinguished from them in ver. 2.
Substantially, however, those too are included, as appears from this
very verse; for both shall then form one nation of brethren. But here
the prophet views only one portion, because to this only did the
preceding threatening, and the mission of the prophet in general,
refer. From this, also, it may be explained how the prophet may apply
to the _part_ the promises of Genesis, which there refer to the
_whole_. The reference to these promises, in the first part of the
verse, cannot be at all mistaken. Compare especially, as agreeing most
literally, the passage in Gen. xxii. 17: "I will multiply thy seed as
the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is on the shore of the sea;"
and xxxii. 13 (12): "I make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which is
not numbered for multitude." A similar literal reference is in Jer.
xxxiii. 22: "As the host of heaven is not numbered, neither the sand of
the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David My servant."
Now, the reference here cannot be accidental. It supposes that these
promises were at that time generally known in the kingdom of Israel.
They served to strengthen the ungodly in their false security. Relying
on them, they charged the prophets with making God a liar in thus
announcing the impending destruction of the kingdom, inasmuch as the
prophecy had not yet been fulfilled in all its extent. The prophet,
however, by his almost literal repetition of the promise, shows that
thereby his threatenings are not excluded--"teaches that the visitation
of which he had spoken would be such that, nevertheless, God would not
forget His word; that the rejection of the people would be such that,
nevertheless, its election should stand firm and sure,--and, finally,
that the adoption should not be invalid by which He had chosen
Abraham's progeny as His people" (_Calvin_).--The case is quite
analogous, when corrupted Christian churches harden themselves in
trusting in the promise that the Lord would be with them all the days,
and that the gates of hell should not prevail against His Church. The
[Pg 217] Lord knoweth how to execute His judgments so that His promises
shall not suffer thereby, yea, that their fulfilment is thereby
rendered possible. The relation of our passage to Is. x. 22 requires
_further_ to be considered: "For though thy people Israel be as the
sand of the sea, the remnant only shall return." Here, too, the
reference to the promises in Genesis cannot be mistaken. But there is
this difference,--that in the time of Isaiah, the people, viewing the
partial fulfilment of the promises of God in their then prosperous
condition, as a sure pledge of divine mercy, founded thereupon their
false security. To this, however, the prophet replies, that even the
perfect fulfilment would give no warrant for it. In Hosea, however,
they rely on the perfect fulfilment, which had, as yet, no existence at
all. But Hosea has in view the godly as much as the ungodly. To the
former he shows that here also there would be a fulfilment of what is
written in Num. xxiii. 19: "God is not a man, that He should lie;
neither the son of man, that He should repent. Should He say, and not
do it; and speak, and not fulfil it?" Moreover, we cannot fail to see
that, in the verse under review, as also in ver. 2, there is an
allusion to the first child, Jezreel,--that in the second member of the
verse there is an allusion to Lo-Ammi, and in ver. 3, to Lo-Ruhamah.
But the name Jezreel is now taken in a good sense, probably in the
sense in which it was first given to the valley (compare remarks on i.
4), and also to the town by its founders. Jezreel means "God sows." The
founders of the town thereby expressed the hope that God would cause an
abundant harvest to proceed from a small sowing--a glorious end from a
small beginning. Thus God will now sow the small seed of Israel, and an
infinitely rich harvest shall be gained from this sowing; compare
remarks on ver. 25.--But if now we seek for the historical reference of
the announcement, we are compelled to go back to the sense of those
declarations in Genesis. By many, these are referred merely to the
bodily descendants of the Patriarchs; by many, also, to their spiritual
descendants, their successors in the faith. But the latter reference is
altogether arbitrary; and the former could be well-founded only, if the
Congregation of the Lord had been destined solely for the natural
descendants, and if all the Gentiles had been refused admittance into
it. But that such is not the case, is evident from the command to
circumcise every bondservant; [Pg 218] for, by circumcision, a man was
received among the people of God. This appears, _further_, from the
command in Exod. xii. 48, that every stranger who wished to partake of
the Passover must be previously circumcised; and this implies that
strangers might partake in the sign and feast of the covenant if they
wished; compare _Michaelis_, _Mos. Recht._ Th. iv. § 184. This appears,
_moreover_, from Deut. xxiii. 1-8, where the Edomites and Egyptians are
expressly declared to be capable of being received into the
Congregation of the Lord. It appears, _still further_, from the
circumstance that, in the same passage, the command to exclude the
Ammonites and Moabites is founded upon a special reason. And,
_finally_, it appears from the Jewish practice at all times. But the
heathens who were received among the people of God were considered as
belonging to the posterity of the Patriarchs, as their sons by
adoption. How indeed could it be otherwise, since, by intermarriage,
every difference must have very soon disappeared? They were called
children of Israel, and children of Jacob, no less than were the
others. It now appears to what extent the promise to the Patriarchs
refers to the Gentiles also--viz., in so far as they became believers
in the God of Israel, and joined themselves to Israel. Compare Is.
xliv. 5: "One shall say, I am Jehovah's, and another shall call the
name of Jacob, and another shall write with his hand. Unto the Lord!
and boast of the name of Israel." Such an eager desire of the Gentiles
towards the kingdom of God regularly took place, either when the God of
Israel had revealed Himself by specially distinguishing manifestations
of His omnipotence and glory, as, _e.g._, in the deliverance from the
Egyptian and Babylonish captivities, in both of which events we find a
number of those who had previously been heathens, ערב, in the train of
the Israelites;--or when a feeling of the vanity of the idols of the
heathen world had been awakened with special vividness, as in the times
after Alexander the Great, in which Roman and Greek heathenism became
more and more _effete_, and rapidly hastened on towards ruin. In the
time of Christ, both of these causes co-operated. If there were
soundness in the opinion now generally prevalent, according to which
the Church of the New Testament stands quite independent of the
Congregation of Israel, having originated from a free and equal union
of believers from Israel, and of those from among the Gentiles, [Pg
219] then indeed the promise now before us would have no longer any
reference to New Testament times. The New Testament Church would be a
generation altogether different, and no longer acknowledge Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob as their fathers. But, according to the constant
doctrine of the Old as well as of the New Testament, there is only one
Church of God from Abraham to the end of the days--only one house under
two dispensations. John the Baptist proceeds upon the supposition that
the members of the New Testament also must be children of Abraham, else
the covenant and promise of God would come to nought. But as the bodily
descent from Abraham is no security against the danger of exclusion
from his posterity--of which Ishmael was the first example--and as, so
early as in the Pentateuch, it is said, with reference to every greater
transgression, "This soul is cut off from its people," so, on the other
hand, God, in the exercise of His sovereign liberty, may give to
Abraham, in the room of his degenerate children after the flesh,
adopted children without number, who shall sit down with him, and
Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, whilst the sons of the kingdom
are cast out.--After these remarks on the promise to the Patriarchs,
there can be no longer any difficulty in making out the historical
reference of the announcement before us. It cannot refer to the bodily
descendants of Abraham, as such, any more than the promise of a son to
Abraham was fulfilled in the birth of Ishmael, or than the Arabs stand
related to the promise of the innumerable multitude of his
descendants,--a promise which is repeated, in the same extent, to Isaac
and Jacob, although they were not the ancestors of the Arabs.
Degenerate sons are not a blessing; they are no objects of promise, no
sons in the full sense. Every one is a son of Abraham, only in so far
as he is a son of God. For this reason the phrases "sons of Israel" and
"sons of the living God" are, in the passage before us, connected with
each other. Not as though the corporeal descent were altogether a
matter of indifference. The corporeal descendants of the Patriarchs had
the nearest claims to becoming their children in the full sense. It was
to them that the means of becoming so were first granted. To them
pertained the covenants, the promises, and the adoption, Rom. ix. 4.
But all these external advantages were of no avail to them when they
allowed them to [Pg 220] remain unused; in these circumstances, neither
the promise to Abraham, nor the announcement before us, had any
reference to them. Both of them would have remained to this day
unfulfilled, although the unconverted children of Israel had increased
so as to have become the most populous nation on the face of the whole
earth. It thus appears that the announcement before us was first truly
realized in the time of the Messiah; inasmuch as it was at that time
that the family of the Patriarchs was so mightily increased; and that
it will yet be more fully realized, partly by the reception of an
innumerable multitude of adopted sons, and partly by the elevation of
those who were sons only in a lower sense, to be sons in the highest.
That which occurred at the time after the Babylonish captivity, when
the Lord stirred up a number of Israelites to return to Palestine, we
can regard as only an insignificant prelude; partly because this number
was too small to correspond, even in any degree, to the infinite extent
of the promise, and partly because there were among them certainly a
few only who, in the fullest sense, deserved the name of "Children of
Israel." "Israel"--which is the higher name, and has reference to the
relation to God--is here used emphatically, as appears especially from
a comparison with ver. 4, where it is taken from the degenerate
children, and exchanged for the name "Jezreel."--In the second part of
the verse, we must first set aside the false interpretation of במקום
אשר by "instead of," which is given by _Grotius_ and others. It has
arisen from an inappropriate reference to the Latin, which has,
however, no support in the Hebrew _usus loquendi_. The words can only
mean (compare Lev. iv. 24, 33; Jer. xxii. 12; Ezek. xxi. 35; Neh. iv.
14): "in the place where," or, more literally still, "in the place
that"--the wider designation instead of the narrower. The _status
constr._ is explained by the circumstance that the whole succeeding
sentence together expresses only one substantive idea, equivalent to:
"in the place of the being said unto them." The place may here be,
either that where the people first received the name Lo-Ammi, _i.e._,
Palestine, or the place of the exile, where they first felt the full
meaning of it,--the misery being a _sermo realis_ of God. Decisive in
favour of the latter reference is the following verse, where the הארץ,
the land of the exile, corresponds with מקים in the verse before us.
(According to _Jonathan_, the sense is: "In the place to [Pg 221] which
they have been carried away among the Gentiles.") It is intentionally
that both times the Future יֵאָמֵר is used, which is to be understood as
the Present. The difference of time being thus disregarded, the
contrast becomes so much the more striking.--By "people" and "children"
of God, the same thing is expressed according to different relations.
The Israelites were the people of God, inasmuch as He was their King;
and children of God, in as far as He was their Father,--their Father,
it is true, in the first place, not, as in the New Testament (John i.
12, 13), in reference to the spiritual generation, but in relation to
heart-felt love, similar to the love of a father for a son. With regard
to the Old Testament idea of son ship to God, compare the remarks on
Ps. ii. 7. In this relation, sometimes all Israel is personified as the
son of God; thus, _e.g._, Exod. iv. 22: "Thus thou shalt say unto
Pharaoh: My son. My first-born is Israel." Sometimes the Israelites are
also called the _children_ or _sons_ of God; _e.g._, Deut. xiv. 1: "Ye
are children to the Lord your God" (compare also Deut. xxxii. 19),
although not every single individual could on this account be called
"son of God." In this sense, that designation is never used, evidently
because the sonship under the Old Testament does not rest so much on
the personal relation of the single individual to God,--as is the case
in the New Testament,--but the individual rather partakes in it only as
a part of the whole. But there is an easy transition from the sonship
as viewed in the Old Testament, to the sonship as seen in the New. The
former, in its highest perfection, cannot exist at all without the
latter. It is only when its single members are born of God, that the
Congregation can be regarded and treated as the child of God in the
full sense of the word, and that the whole fulness of His love can be
poured out upon it; for this is the only way of attaining to likeness
with God, which is the condition of admission to the rights of
children. Hence it appears that the υἱοθεσία under the Old Testament
was an actual prophecy of the times of the New Testament; and from it,
it follows also that the announcement under consideration has its
ultimate reference to these times. Earlier fulfilments--especially at
the return from the Babylonish captivity--are not to be excluded,
inasmuch as the idea comprehends in it everything in which it is, even
in the least degree, realized; but they can be considered [Pg 222] only
as a slight prelude to Its real fulfilment, which takes place only when
the reality fully coincides with the idea; so that we are not at
liberty to limit ourselves to the commencement of the Messianic time,
but must include the Messianic time in its last consummation.--Another
question still remains:--Why is God here called the "_living_?"
Plainly, to point out the antithesis of the true God to dead idols,
which cannot love, because they do not live; and thus to bring out the
greatness of the privilege of being the child of such a God. The same
antithesis is found in Deut. xxxii. 3 seqq.: "Where are now their gods,
the rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their
sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink-offerings? Let them rise
up and help you; let it be a covering to you. See now that I, I am He,
and not is a God beside Me. I kill and I make alive. I wound and I
heal." This antithesis still continues; the world has only changed its
idols. It still always seeks the life from the dead, from the gross
idol of sin up to the refined idol of a self-made abstract god, whether
he be formed from logical notions or from emotions and feelings. But
how much soever they may strive to give life to their idols, they
remain dead, although they should even attain to a semblance of life.
The true God, on the contrary, lives and continues to live, how much
soever they may strive to slay Him. He manifests Himself as the living
one, either by smiting and killing them, if they continue in their
impenitence, or by healing and quickening them, if they become His
children.--_Finally_,--we must still consider the two citations, in
the New Testament, of the passage before us. One in 1 Pet. ii. 10, οἱ
ποτὲ οὐ λαὸς, νῦν δὲ λαὸς Θεοῦ· οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι, νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες,
must certainly strike us, inasmuch as this epistle, on conclusive
grounds (compare _Steiger_ S. 14 ff.), cannot be considered as being
addressed to Jewish Christians exclusively. But still more striking is
the second quotation in Rom. ix. 25, 26: ὡς καὶ ἐν τῷ Ὡσηὲ λέγει·
Καλέσω τὸν οὐ λαόν μου, έν μου· καὶ τὴν οὐκ ἠγαπημένην, ἠγαπημένην. Καὶ
ἔσται, ἐν τῷ τόπῳ οὗ ἐῤῥήθη αὐτοῖς οὐ λαός μου ὑμεῖς, ἐκεῖ κληθήσονται
υἱοὶ Θεοῦ ζῶντος. Here our passage is not only alluded to, but
expressly quoted, and, in opposition to the Jews, the calling of the
Gentiles is proved from it. But how can a passage which, according to
the whole context, can refer to Israel only, be applied [Pg 223]
directly to the Gentiles? The answer very readily suggests itself when
we reduce the prophecy to its fundamental idea. This is none other than
that of divine mercy, which may indeed, by apostasy and unfaithfulness,
be prevented from manifesting itself, but can never be extinguished,
because it has its foundation in God's nature. Compare Jer. xxxi. 20:
"Is Ephraim a dear son to Me, a child of joy? For as often as I speak
of him, I must still remember him. Therefore My bowels sound for him,
_I will have mercy_ upon him, saith the Lord." Now, in the same manner
as this truth was realized in the restoration of the children of Israel
to be again the children of God, so it is in the reception of the
Gentiles. It is not at all a mere application, but a real proof which
here forms the question at issue. It is _because_ God had promised to
receive again the children of Israel, that He must receive the Gentiles
also; for otherwise that divine decree would have its foundation in
mere caprice, which cannot be conceived to have any existence in God.
Although the Gentiles are not so near as Israel, yet He must satisfy
the claims of those who are more remote, just because He acknowledges
the claims of those who are near. The necessity of going back to the
fundamental idea appears in the promises as well as in the
commandments. We cite only one instance which is especially fitted to
serve as a parallel to the case before us. There is no doubt, and
prejudice alone could have denied, that in the Pentateuch, by _friend_
and _brother_ the Israelite is to be understood throughout; it is in
the New Testament that the command of Christian brotherly love is
given. After having commended truthfulness, Paul adds: "Because ye are
members of one another"--a reason which can refer to those only who
have Christ as their common head. From this limitation, can anything be
inferred to the prejudice of love towards the whole human race, or of
the duties towards all without any distinction? Just the reverse. It is
just because the Israelite is bound to love the Israelite, and the
Christian the Christian, that he should embrace all men in love. If the
special relation to God as the common Redeemer afford the foundation
for the _special_ love, then the _general_ relation to God as the
Creator and Preserver must also afford the foundation of _universal_
love; just as from the command to honour father and mother, it
necessarily follows that we must also [Pg 224] honour uncle and aunt,
king and magistrate. This is the only correct view of the laws and
prophecies; and if it be consistently followed out, it will make water
to flow out of the rock, and will create streams in the wilderness.

Ver. 2. "_And the children of Judah and the children of Israel assemble
themselves together, and set over themselves one head, and go up out of
the land; for great is the day of Jezreel._"

The words, "They appoint themselves a king," appear strange at first
sight. For it is not, in general, the union of Judah and Israel which
the prophet expects from better times;--a _perverse_ union of both,
one, it may be, in which the house of Judah shall also give up Jehovah
his God, and David his King, only in order to be able to live on a
right brotherly footing with Israel, would have been anything but a
progress and a blessing;--but such a union as has for its foundation
the return of Israel to the true God, and to the Davidic dynasty. This
appears clearly from iii. 5. The difficulty is removed by a comparison
with the passage of the Pentateuch to which the prophet seems to
allude: "Thou shalt set over thee a king, whom the Lord thy God shall
choose," Deut. xvii. 15. The prophet seems to have these words before
his eyes, as it appears elsewhere also, where he describes the hitherto
opposite conduct of the Israelites; compare the remarks on iii. 4. From
these it appears that the election of the king by God, who had promised
eternal dominion to the house of David, and his election by the people,
do not in the least exclude one another. On the contrary, it is
_because_ God had elected the king, that now the people also elect him.
_Calvin_ remarks: "There appears to be transferred to men what properly
belongs to God alone--viz., the appointment of a king; but the prophet
expresses, by this word, the obedience of faith; for it is not enough
that Christ be given, and placed before men as a King, but they must
also acknowledge and reverently receive Him as a King. From this we
infer, that when we believe the Gospel, we choose, as it were by our
own vote, Christ as our King." That the prophet understands the
"setting of a head" in this sense, appears also from the circumstance
that the whole verse is based upon the reference to the Exodus from
Egypt, which is now to be repeated. To this the words, "They assemble
themselves together," likewise refer; for the departure from Egypt was
preceded by the assembling together of the [Pg 225] whole people. The
mention of a "head" refers back to Moses. In his case, as well as that
of David subsequently, the election by the people was only the
acknowledgment of his having been divinely called.--Another question
is, How are the words, "They go up out of the land," to be understood?
There can be no doubt that by "land," the land of captivity is
designated. For the words are borrowed from Exod. i. 10, where Pharaoh
says, "When there falleth out any war, they will join our enemies, and
fight against us, and go up out of the land," ועלה מן הארץ. The
prophet, moreover, is his own interpreter in ii. 17, where he expressly
compares this new going up to the promised land with the former going
up from Egypt: "_As in the day when she went up out of the land of
Egypt_;" just as, in other passages, he describes their being carried
away, under the figure of their being carried away to Egypt--Assyria
being considered as another Egypt. Compare viii. 13: "Now will He
remember their iniquity and visit their sins; they shall return
to Egypt;" ix. 3: "They shall not dwell in the Lord's land, and
Ephraim returns to Egypt." (Compare, on this passage, the Author's
_Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch_, vol. i. p. 121
ff.) Moreover, in the other prophets also, the going up from, or
deliverance out of, Egypt, forms throughout the basis of the second
great deliverance. And this is quite natural; for both of those events
stand in the closest actual connection with each other;--both proceeded
from the same Divine Being; and the former was a prophecy _by fact_,
and a pledge of the latter. The deliverance of the people of God from
Egypt sealed their election; and from the latter the new deliverance
necessarily followed;--a relation which repeats itself in individuals
also. From this we may explain the fact that in the Psalms, they who
celebrate God's former mercies, prove from them to Him and to
themselves, throughout, that He must now also be their helper. It is
then by no means a mere external similarity which induces the prophets
ever and anon to refer to the deliverance from Egypt (compare the
passages Mic. ii. 12, 13; Jer. xxiii. 7, 8, which bear so close a
resemblance to the passage before us), any more than that the Passover
is a mere memorial. Such cannot occur in the true religion which has a
living God, and hence knows nothing of anything absolutely past.
_Ewald's_ [Pg 226] exposition, that they go up out of the country for
the purpose of further conquest, and that of _Simson_, that they go up
to Jerusalem, sever the three events which, as the example of previous
history shows, are evidently so closely allied; and these expositors,
moreover, give, by an addition of their own, that definiteness to the
words, "And they shall go up out of the land," which they can obtain
only by a reference to the history of the past. In their ambiguity,
they almost expressly point to such a commentary.--The article in הארץ,
_the_ (_i.e._, the definite) land, is explained from the circumstance
that, in the previous context, there had been an indirect allusion to
their being carried away into a strange land. If Israel was no more the
people of God,--if they no longer enjoyed His mercy, then it is
supposed that they could not remain in the land which they had received
only as the people of God, and had hitherto retained only through His
mercy. But, primarily, the article refers to "the place where it was
said unto them," in the preceding verse.--That along with the children
of Israel, the children of Judah also assemble themselves and go up,
implies a fact which the prophet had not expressly mentioned, because
it did not stand immediately connected with his purpose--viz., that
Judah too should be carried into captivity. It thus supplements chap.
i. 7, by showing that the mercy there promised to the inhabitants of
Judah is to be understood relatively only. Such suppositions, indeed,
show very plainly how distinctly the future lay before the eyes of the
prophet.[5]--With regard, now, to the historical reference,--it must,
in the first place, be remarked, that whatever is here determined
concerning it, must be applicable to all other [Pg 227] parallel
passages also, in which a future reunion of Israel and Judah, and their
common return to the promised land, are announced; _e.g._, Jer. iii.
18: "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of
Israel, and they come together out of the land of the north to the land
that I have given to their fathers;" l. 4: "In those days the children
of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, weeping
shall they come and seek the Lord their God." Compare also Is. xi.;
Ezek. xxxvii. 19, 20. In the passage under consideration, several
interpreters, as _Theodoret_, think of the return from Babylon, and
refer the "one head" to Zerubbabel. Now we certainly cannot deny that,
in that event, there is a small beginning of the fulfilment. But if
that had been the entire fulfilment, Hosea would more resemble a
dreamer and an enthusiast than a true prophet of the living God. The
objection which immediately presents itself--viz., that, after all, the
greatest portion of the ten tribes, and a very considerable part of
Judah, remained in captivity--is by no means the strongest. Although
the whole both of Judah and Israel had returned, the real and final
fulfilment could not be sought for in that event. It is not the renewed
possession of the country, as such, which the prophet promises, but
rather a certain kind of possession,--such a possession as that the
land is completely the land of God, partaking in all the fulness of His
blessings, and thus a worthy residence for the people of God, and for
their children. One may be in Canaan, and yet, at the same time, in
Babylon or in Assyria. Had not the threatened punishment of God been
indeed as fully executed upon those who, during the Assyrian and
Babylonish captivities, wandered about the country in sorrow and
misery, as upon those who were carried away? Can the circumstance that
Jews are even now living in Jerusalem in the deepest misery, be adduced
as a proof that the loss of the promised land, with which the people
were threatened, had not been completely fulfilled? It is true that,
during the times of the Old Covenant, there existed a certain
connection betwixt the lower and the higher kinds of possession. As
soon as the people ceased to be the people of the Lord, they lost with
the former, after being often previously warned by the decrease of it,
the latter also. As soon as they obtained again the lower kind of
possession, which could happen only in the case of a [Pg 228] return to
the Lord, they recovered, to a certain degree, in proportion to the
earnestness and sincerity of their conversion, the higher kind of
possession also. A commencement of the fulfilment must, therefore, be
at all events assumed in the return from the Babylonish captivity; but
a very feeble commencement only. Just as the conversion was very
superficial, so was the degree of the higher kind of possession but a
very small one. The manifestations of mercy were very sparing; the
condition of the new colony was, upon the whole, very poor; they did
not possess the land as a free property, but only under the dominion of
a foreigner. That which was, in one respect, the termination of the
captivity, was, in another, much rather a continuation of it. It was
certainly not the true Canaan which they possessed, any more than one
still possesses the beloved object while he embraces only his corpse.
Where the Lord is not present with His gifts and blessings, there
Canaan cannot be. It was just as the land of the presence of the Lord,
that it was so dear and valuable to all believers.--From what has now
been said, it appears that, as regards the historical reference, we
need not limit ourselves to the times of the Old Covenant, nor dream of
a return of Israel to Canaan to take place at some future time.
Luther's explanation, "They will go up from this place of pilgrimage to
the heavenly father-land," is quite correct,--not indeed according to
the letter, but according to the spirit. It is not the form, but the
essence of the divine inheritance, which the prophet has in view. The
form is a different one under the New Covenant, where the whole earth
has become a Canaan; but the essence remains. To cling here to the
form, would be just as absurd as if one, who, for Christ's sake, has
forsaken all, were to upbraid Him because he had not received again,
according to the letter of His promise, precisely an hundred-fold,
lands, brothers, sisters, mothers, etc., Mark x. 30. The words of
God, which are spirit and life, must be understood with spirit and
life.--Suppose that the children of Israel were, at some future time,
to return to Canaan, this would have nothing to do with our prophecy.
In a religious point of view, it would be a matter of no consequence,
and could not serve to prove the Covenant-faithfulness of God. Under
the New Covenant it finds its fulfilment, that "Canaan must, even in
the North, bloom joyfully around the beloved." The three stations
[Pg 229]--Egypt, the wilderness, and Canaan--will continue to exist for
ever; but we go from the one to the other only with the feet of the
spirit, and not, as in the Old Covenant, with the feet of the body at
the same time. The grossly literal explanation which knows not to
separate the thought from its drapery, the essential from the
accidental, agrees, just in the main point, with the allegorical
explanation--viz., in interpolating, instead of interpreting.--The
fulfilment of the prophecy before us is, therefore, a continuous and
progressive one, which will not cease until God's whole plan of
salvation be consummated. It began at Babylon, and was carried forward
at the appearance of Christ, whom many out of Judah and Israel set over
themselves as their head, to be their common leader to Canaan. It is,
even now, realized every day before our eyes in every Israelite who
follows their example. It will, at some future time, find its final
fulfilment in the last and greatest manifestation of God's
Covenant-faithfulness towards Israel, which, happily, is as strongly
guaranteed by the New as it is by the Old Testament.--The last words of
the verse have been already explained, substantially, in ver. 1. The
name "Jezreel" is here used with a reference to its appellative
signification. Israel appears here (compare ver. 25 [23], which serves
as a commentary and as a refutation of differing interpretations) as a
seed which is sown by God in fruitful land, and which shall produce a
rich harvest. The figure appears, with a somewhat different turn, in
Jer. xxxi. 27; Ezek. xxxvi. 9, where the house of Israel, and the house
of Judah, appear as the soil in which the seed is sown by God.
Analogous is also Ps. lxxii. 16: "They of the city shall flourish up
like the grass of the earth."--The כי is explained by the circumstance
that the sowing, which can take place only in the land of the Lord
(compare ver. 25), supposes the going up from the land of the
captivity. But if the day of sowing be great, if it be regarded by God
as high and important, then the going up, which is the condition of
sowing, must necessarily take place.

Ver. 3. "_Say ye unto your brethren, My people_ (Ammi); _and to your
sisters, Who has obtained mercy_ (Ruhamah)."

The words, "My people," are a concise expression for: "You whom the
Lord has called. My people." The mention of the brothers and sisters is
explained by the reference to the [Pg 230] male and female members of
the prophet's family. The phrase, "Say ye," is in substance equivalent
to: "Then will ye be able to say." The prophet sees before him the
people of the Lord who have experienced mercy; and calls upon the
members to salute one another joyfully with the new name given to them
by God. Such is the simple meaning of the verse, which has been
darkened by a multitude of forced interpretations.

Footnote 1: In Hab. ii. 1, where the prophet is standing upon his
watch, and watches to see what the Lord will say _unto_ him, it would
be rather strange to translate "in me." There is nothing else to lead
us to conceive that the apparition of angels in Zech. is internal. But
Num. xii. 8 is quite decisive. The Lord there says, with reference to
His relation to Moses, "Mouth to mouth I speak to him (בו);" and
immediately afterwards it is said, "Wherefore, then, were ye not afraid
to speak to My servant (בעבדי), to Moses?" It is evident that the ב
cannot be explained by "in" in the one case, and by "through" in the
other. It is remarkable, however, that דבר with ב occurs very
frequently when the Lord Himself, or, as in Zechariah, _the_ Angel,
speaks. This may, perhaps, be explained from the circumstance, that the
heavenly discourses have an especially penetrating power, and sink very
deeply into the heart.

Footnote 2: This is very natural, for the proper name has originally a
cheering signification. It is apparent from the remarks of _Schubert_
(_Reise_ iii. S. 164-166), and of _Ritter_ (_Erdkunde_ 16, i. S. 693),
on the natural condition of the plain of Jezreel, how it happened that
it received this name, which means: "God sows." _Schubert_ calls the
soil of Jezreel a field of corn, the seed of which is not sown by any
man's hand, the ripe ears of which are not reaped by any reaper. The
various kinds of corn appeared to him to be wild plants; the mules
walked in them with half their bodies covered by them; the ears of
wheat were sown by themselves. "All travellers," says _Ritter_, "agree
in their descriptions of the extraordinary beauty and fertility of the

Footnote 3: This transference was so much the more natural, as, under
the government of the house of Jehu, guilt had certainly been
frequently concentrated in the form of blood-guiltiness. Compare Is. i.
21, where the prophet, in order to mark out the reigning sin in its
highest degree, represents Jerusalem as being full of murderers.

Footnote 4: _Hitzig_ is of opinion that "the prophet cannot blame him
for the death of Joram and Jezebel, but may well do so for the murder
of Ahaziah, king of Judah, and of his brethren, and for the carnage
described in 2 Kings x. 11." But Ahaziah was not killed at Jezreel:
compare 2 Kings ix. 27; 2 Chron. xxii. 9. And "the carnage in 2 Kings
xii." likewise took place at Jezreel to a small extent only, in so far,
namely, as it concerned the princes of the house of Ahab, who still
remained in Jezreel. Compare _Thenius_ on this passage.

Footnote 5: That the carrying away of Judah, which is here supposed,
is a total and future one, and not, as _Hofmann_ (_Weiss. u. Erf._
i. S. 210) asserts, one which is partial and already past (Joel
iv. [iii.] 2-8; Amos i. 6, 9), appears from the analogy of the
children of Israel,--from the reference to the type of the Egyptian
conditions,--from a comparison of chap. v. 5, 12, xii. 1-3,--from the
fact that the carrying away is placed in the view of the _whole people_
as early as in the Pentateuch, _e.g._, Deut. xxviii. 36, iv. 26,
27,--and, finally, from the fact, that the other prophets also, even
from the most ancient times, manifest a clear knowledge of the
catastrophe which threatened Judah also; compare, _e.g._, Amos ii. 4,
5. Moreover, in Is. xi. 11, 12, also, the return of Judah is
prophesied, although no express announcement of the carrying away
precedes. In like manner, in Amos ix. 11, the restoration of the fallen
tabernacle of David is foretold, although no express mention is made of
its fall.

                         CHAP. II. 4-25 (2-23).

"The significant couple"--_Rückert_ remarks--"disappears in the thing
signified by it; Israel itself appears as the wife of whoredoms." This
is the only essential difference between this and the preceding
sections; and it is the less marked, because even there, in the last
part of it, the symbolical action passed over into a mere figure. With
this exception, this section also contains the alternation of
punishment and threatening, and of promise,--the latter beginning with
ver. 16 (14). The features of the image, which were less attended to in
the preceding portion, but are here more carefully portrayed, are the
rejection of the unfaithful wife, and her gradual restoration. _Calvin_
says: "After God has laid open their sins before men. He adds some
consolation, and tempers the severity, lest they should despair. But
then He returns again to threatenings, and He must do so necessarily;
for though men may have been terrified by the fear of punishment, yet
they do not recover, and become wise for ever." "By a new impetus as it
were," says _Manger_, "he suddenly returns to expand the same argument,
and sets out again from things more sad."

Ver. 4. "_Contend with your mother, contend; for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband: and let her put away her whoredoms from her
face, and her adultery from her breasts._"

_Calvin_ is of opinion that a contrast is here intended, inasmuch as
the Israelites were striving with God, and attributed to Him the cause
of their misfortune: "Do not contend with Me, but rather with your
mother, who, by her adultery, has brought down _righteous_ punishment
upon herself and upon you." But this interpretation is inadmissible;
because it proceeds [Pg 231] from the unfounded supposition that the
divorce is to be considered as having already taken place outwardly,
whilst the contending here clearly appears as one by which divorce may
yet be averted. The words, "Contend with your mother," rather mean, on
the contrary, that it is high time to call her to account, if they
would not go to destruction along with her. From this, however, we are
not entitled to infer that the moral condition of the children was
better than that of the mother. Without any regard to their moral
condition, the prophet only wishes to say that their interest required
them to do this. If it were not his intention just to carry out the
image of adultery, he might as well have called upon the mother to
contend against the children, as it is said in Is. li. 1: "Behold, for
your iniquities you have been sold, and for your transgression your
mother has been put away." In point of fact, the mother has no
standing-place apart from the children. _Vitringa_ says: "One and the
same people is called 'mother' when viewed in their collective
character; and 'children' when viewed in the individuals who are born
of that people. For a people is born from the people. For the whole
people is considered according to that which is radical in it, which
constitutes its nature and substance,--and, in this respect, it is
called the 'mother of its citizens.'" But we are as little entitled to
infer from this exhortation, that a reform, and an averting of the
threatened judgments, may still be hoped for. This is opposed by what
follows, where the wife appears as incorrigible, and her rejection
as unavoidable. The fundamental thought is, on the contrary, only
this:--that a reform is necessary if the threatened judgments are to be
averted. That this necessity, however, would not become a reality, the
prophet foresaw; and for this reason he speaks unconditionally in the
sequel. But from this again it must not be inferred that, in that case,
his exhortations and threatenings would be altogether in vain. Though
no reform was to be expected from the people, single individual
might, nevertheless, be converted. At the same time, it was of great
importance for the future, that before the calamity should break in, a
right view of it should be opened up to the whole people. It is of
great importance, that if any one be smitten, he should know for what
reason. The instructions in the doctrines of Christianity, which a
criminal has received in childhood, may [Pg 232] often seem for a long
series of years to have been altogether in vain; but afterwards,
notwithstanding, when punishment has softened his heart, they bring
forth their fruits.--In the words, "For she is not my wife, and I am
not her husband," the ground of the exhortation is stated. Even for
this reason, the words cannot be referred to the _external_ dissolution
of the marriage, to the punishment of the wife; they signify rather the
_moral_ dissolution of the marriage--the guilt of the wife--and are
equivalent to: "our marriage is dissolved _de facto_." But in the case
of the spiritual marriage, this dissolution _de facto_ is always,
sooner or later, according to the greater or smaller measure of God's
forbearance, followed by the dissolution _de jure_; or, to speak
without figure, wherever there is sin, punishment will always follow.
God bears with much weakness on the part of His people; but wherever,
through this weakness, the relation to Him is essentially dissolved, He
there annuls the relation altogether. The παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας
applies to spiritual marriages also. The surrender of the main
faculties and powers of our nature to something which is not God,
stands on a par with carnal adultery. Thus, then, the connection
betwixt "contend" and "for" clearly appears.--Many interpreters,
viewing the clause beginning with כי as parenthetical, would connect
the last words of the verse with ריבו: "Contend with your mother that
she may put away." But the words are rather to be considered as
parallel with the first member; for "contend," etc., is equivalent to:
"seek to bring your mother to a better way," or: "let your mother
reform herself." Her crime is designated first as whoredom, and then as
adultery. The relation in which the two stand to one another is plainly
seen from chap. i. 2, where the notion of adultery is paraphrased by:
"whoring away from the Lord." By "whoredom," the _genus_--carnal crimes
in general--is designated; by "adultery," the _species_, or carnal
crime  by which the sacred rights of another person are, at the same
time, violated. The idea of whoredom, when transferred to a spiritual
relation, implies chiefly the worldliness of those with whom God has
not entered into any special relation; whilst the idea of adultery
implies the worldliness of individuals and communities with whom God
has entered into a special marriage, and whose apostasy is, for this
reason, far more culpable. Leaving out of [Pg 233] view the more
aggravating circumstance, the prophet first speaks of whoredom in the
case of the children of Israel also.--The reason why the whoredom is
here attributed to the face, and the adultery to the breasts, is well
given by _Manger_: "We need not have any difficulty about seeing
adultery attributed to the very face and breasts. There is a certain
expressiveness in this conciseness which demonstrates, as it were
before our eyes, that, in her whole deportment, the wife was given over
to sensuality, and that her whole aim was only to excite to it, and to
practise it. For the face is, with women, the sign of dissolute
lasciviousness--as _Horace_ expresses it in his Odes, I. 19:--

            Urit grata protervitas
            Et vultus nimium lubricus aspici.

Ezekiel, too, in chap. xxiii. 3, speaks of 'the pressed breasts of
Israel in Egypt.'" _Schmid_ states as the reason why just the face and
breasts are mentioned, "that Scripture, in order not to offend modesty,
forbears to mention the worse and grosser deeds of fornication." But
this is very little in harmony with the manner of Scripture--as may be
seen from a comparison of Ezek. xvi. and xxiii., and of ver. 12 of the
chapter before us. The reason rather is, that those parts are here
specially to be mentioned, in which the whoring nature openly manifests
itself; so that the highest degree of impudence is thereby expressed.
This then shows that there is no longer any halting, no longer any
struggle of the better against the evil principle. Such an impudent
whore he resembles who, without shame or concern, publicly exhibits his
devotedness to the world. In this way has _Calvin_ also explained it.
"There is no doubt," says he, "that the prophet here expresses the
impudence of the people, who in their hardihood, in their contempt of
God, in their sinful superstitions, and in every kind of wickedness,
had gone to such lengths, that they were like whores who do not conceal
their turpitude, but publicly prostitute themselves, yea, try to
exhibit the signs of their wickedness in their eyes, as well as in
their whole body."

Ver. 5. "_Lest I strip her naked and expose her as in the day of her
birth, and make her like the wilderness, and set her like dry land, and
slay her by thirst._"

In the marriage here spoken of, there was this peculiarity, that the
husband first redeemed the wife from a condition the [Pg 234] most
wretched and miserable, before he united himself to her; and hence
became her benefactor, before he became her husband. Compare iii. 2,
where the Lord redeems the wife from slavery; and Ezek. xvi. 4, where
the people appear as a child exposed, naked, and covered with filth,
upon whom the Lord has mercy,--whom He provides with precious clothing
and splendid ornaments, and destines for His spouse. During the
marriage, the husband continues his liberality towards his wife. But
now, the gifts, all of which had been bestowed upon her only with a
view to the marriage which was to take place or was already entered
upon, are to cease, because the marriage-tie has been broken by her
guilt. She now returns to the condition of the deepest misery in which
she had been sunk before her union to the Lord.--There is, in this, an
allusion to that which, in the case of actual marriage, the husband was
bound to give to his wife, viz., clothing and food; compare Is. iv. 1.
If God withdraws His gifts, the consequences are infinitely awful,
because, altogether unlike the natural husband, He has everything in
His possession; if He does not give anything to drink. He then slays
by thirst. If we keep in view this aggravation of the punishment,
which has its ground only in the person of the husband, it is evident
that we have here before us only a reference to the withdrawal of the
marriage-gifts which is the consequence of the divorce, and not, as
several interpreters--_e.g._, _Manger_--suppose, to a punishment of
adultery, alleged by them to have been common at that time, "that the
wife was stripped of her clothes, exposed to public mockery, and killed
by hunger and thirst." The eternal and universal truth which, in the
verse before us, is expressed with a special reference to Israel, is,
that all the gifts of God are bestowed upon individuals, as well as
upon whole nations, either in order to lead them to the communion of
life with Him, or because this communion already exists; just as our
Saviour says that to him who has successfully sought for the kingdom of
heaven, all other things shall be added, without any labour on his
part. If we overlook the truth that the gifts of God have this
object--if they be not received and enjoyed as the gifts of God--if the
spiritual marriage be refused, or if, having been already entered into,
it be broken,--sooner or later the gifts will be withdrawn.--The word
"naked" properly includes a whole clause: "I shall strip [Pg 235] her
so that she shall become naked." The verb הצּיג, "to place," "to set,"
has the secondary signification of public exhibition; compare Job xvii.
6. The literal translation ought to be, "I shall expose her as _the
day_ of her birth;" and we must assume that there is here the
occurrence of one of those numerous cases, in which the comparison is
merely alluded to, without being carried out; compare, _e.g._, "Like
the day of Midian," Is. ix. 3; "Their heart rejoiceth like wine," Zech.
x. 7. The _tertium comparationis_ between the day of her birth and her
future condition is only the entire nakedness; compare Job i. 21. Any
allusion to the filth, etc., is less obvious; the prophet would have
been required to give an intimation of this in some manner. The two
parts of the first hemistich of the verse correspond with each other;
just as do the three parts of the second hemistich. In the first, the
withdrawal of clothing, and nakedness; in the second, the withdrawal of
food, and hunger and thirst. It is questionable whether the mention of
the birth-day here belongs merely to the imagery, is a mere designation
of entire nakedness, because man is never more naked than when he comes
into the world; or whether it is to be understood as belonging to the
thing itself, and refers to the condition of the people in Egypt to
which they are now to be reduced. In favour of the latter explanation,
there is not only the comparison of the parallel passage in Ezekiel,
but, still more, the purely matter-of-fact character of the entire
description. Israel is, in this section, not _compared_ to a wife, so
that _figure_ and _thing_ would be co-ordinate, but appears as the wife
herself. Ver. 17 also is in favour of this interpretation.--The words,
"I make her like the wilderness," which, by _Hitzig_ and others, are
erroneously referred to the country instead of the people, are
pertinently explained by _Manger_: "The prophet depicts a horrible and
desperate condition, where everything necessary for sustaining life is
awanting,--where she has to endure a thirst peculiar to an altogether
uncultivated and sunburnt wilderness." The comparison appears so much
the more suitable, when we remark that wilderness and desert are here
personified, and appear as hungry and thirsty. This, however, was too
poetical for several prosaic interpreters. Hence they would in both
instances supply a ב after the כ, "as in the wilderness" = "I place her
in the condition in which she was formerly, in the [Pg 236]
wilderness." But it is self-evident that such a supplying of the ב is
inadmissible. If we were to receive this interpretation, we must rather
assume that here also there is merely a comparison intimated: "as the
wilderness,"--for, "as she was in the wilderness." But even then, the
interpretation cannot, for another reason, be admitted. The impending
condition of the people did not, in the least, correspond to what it
was in the wilderness. The natural condition of the wilderness was not
then seen in all its reality; the people of the Lord received bread
from heaven, and water from the rock. It has its antitype rather in
such a condition as that which is to follow upon the punishment, ver.
16. The Article indicates that, by "the wilderness," we are here to
understand, specially, the Desert of Arabia,--the desert κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν.
But that this comes into consideration only as one especially desolate,
and not as the former abode of the Israelites, appears from the
following--"in dry land," without the Article, and not, as otherwise we
would expect, "in _the_ dry land." _Finally_,--We have a parallel to
this in the threatening in Deut. xxviii. 48: "And thou servest thine
enemy whom the Lord thy God will send upon thee, in hunger, and in
thirst, and in nakedness, and in great want."

Ver. 6. "_And I will not have mercy upon her children, for they are
children of whoredoms._"

It appears from ver. 7, that the children are to be repudiated on
account of their origin (compare the remarks on i. 2), and not on
account of their morals. _Michaelis_ says, "They have the same
disposition, and follow the same course as their adulterous mother; for
a viper bringeth forth a viper, and a bad raven lays a bad egg." The
cause of their rejection is, that they are children of whoredoms. That
they are such, is proved by the circumstance that their mother is
whoring. Compare also v. 7: "They have become faithless to the Lord,
for they have born strange children." In point of fact, however, a
sinful origin and a sinful nature are identical.

Ver. 7. "_For their mother has been whoring, she who bore them has been
put to shame; for she has said, I will go after my lovers, the givers
of my bread and my water, of my wool and my flax, of my oil and my

הובישה is explained in a two-fold way. The common explanation is: "She
has practised what is disgraceful, she has acted [Pg 237] shamefully."
Others, on the contrary, explain: "She has been put to shame, she has
been disgraced." In this latter way it is explained by _Manger_, who
remarks, "that this word is stronger than זנה; that it implies not only
an accusation of vile whoredom, but also that she has been convicted of
this crime, and as it were apprehended _in flagranti_; so that, even if
she were yet impudent enough, she could no longer deny it, but must
sink down in confusion and perplexity." This latter exposition is,
without doubt, the preferable one; for, 1. הוביש never occurs in the
first-mentioned signification. _Winer_ contents himself with quoting
the passage before us. _Gesenius_ refers, moreover, to Prov. x. 5. But
the בן מביש of that passage is evidently a son bringing disgrace upon
his parents,--in xxix. 15 אמּו is added,--or making them ashamed,
disappointing their hopes. On the other hand, the signification, "to be
put to shame," "to be convicted of a disgraceful deed," is quite an
established one. Compare, _e.g._, Jer. ii. 26: "As the disgrace of a
thief when he is found, thus the whole house of Israel is _put to
shame_;" Jer. vi. 15: "They are put to shame, for they have committed
abomination; they shamed not themselves, they felt no shame;" compare
also Jer. viii. 9. In all these passages, הוביש signifies the shame
forced upon those who have no sense of shame.--2. The signification,
"to act disgracefully," does not admit of a regular grammatical
derivation. _Gesenius_ refers to analogies such as הרע ,היטיב; but
these would be admissible only if the _Kal_ בוש signified, "to be
infamous," while it means only "to be ashamed." Being derived from בוש,
the verb can mean only "to put to shame," in which signification it
occurs, _e.g._, in 2. Sam. xix. 6. But, on the other hand, the
signification, "to be put to shame," can be well defended. As the
_Hiphil_ cannot have an intransitive signification, it must, with this
signification, be considered as derived from בשת, "_pudorem, ignominiam
contraxit_,"--a view which is favoured by Jer. ii. 26.--The "lovers"
are the idols; compare the remarks on Zech. xiii. 6. The כי confirms
the statement, that she who bare them has been whoring, and has been
put to shame by a further exposure of the crime and its origin. The
same delusion which appears here as the cause of the spiritual
adultery, is stated as such also in Jer. xlix. 17, 18. Jeremiah there
warns the people not to contract sin by idolatry, because that was the
cause of all their present misery, and would bring upon them [Pg 238]
greater misery still. But they answer him, that they would continue to
offer incense and drink-offerings to the Queen of heaven, as they and
their fathers had formerly done in their native land; for, "since we
left off to do so, we have wanted all things, and were consumed by
hunger and sword." The antithesis in Jer. ii. 13 of the fountain of
living waters, and the broken cisterns that hold no water, has
reference likewise to this delusion. But that which is the _cause_ of
the gross whoredom, is the _consequence_ of the refined one. The inward
apostasy must already have taken place, when one speaks as the wife
does in the verse before us. As long as man continues faithfully with
God in communion of life, he perceives, by the eye of faith, the hand
in the clouds from which he receives everything, which guides him, and
upon which everything--even that which is apparently the most
independent and powerful--depends. As soon as, through unbelief, he has
lost this communion with God, and heaven is shut against him, he allows
his eye to wander over every visible object, looks out for everything
in the world which appears to manifest independence and superior power,
makes this an object to which he shows his love, soliciting its favour,
and making it his god. In thus looking around, the Israelites would,
necessarily and chiefly, have their eyes attracted by the idols. For
they saw the neighbouring nations wealthy and powerful; and these
nations themselves derived their power and wealth from the idols. To
these also the Israelites now ascribed the gifts which they had
hitherto received; and this so much the rather, because it was easier
to satisfy the demands of these idols, than those of the true God, who
requires just that which it is most difficult to give--the heart, and
nothing else. And, being determined not to give it to Him, they felt
deeply that they could expect no good from Him. Whatever good He had
still left to them, they could consider as only a gift of unmerited
mercy, and destined to lead them to repentance,--a consideration which
makes a natural man recoil and draw back, inasmuch as, in his relation
to God, he always thinks only of merit. That which we thus perceive in
them is even now repeated daily. We need only put in the place of
idols, the abstract God of the Rationalists and Deists, man's own
power, or the power of other men, and many other things besides, and it
will at once be seen that the words, "I will go after my lovers that
give me my [Pg 239] bread," etc., are, up to the present moment, the
watch-word of the world.--"Bread and water" signify the necessaries of
life; "oil and (strong) drink," those things which serve rather for
luxuries.--"My bread," etc., is an expression of affection, indicating
that she regards these as most necessary, and to be sought after, in
preference to everything else.

Ver. 8. "_Therefore, behold, I hedge up thy way with thorns, and I wall
her wall, and her paths she shall not find._"

The apostate woman is first addressed: "_thy_ way;" but the discourse
then passes to the third person,--"her wall, her paths." We must not
conceive of this, as if the wife were to be shut up in a two-fold
way:--first, by a hedge of thorns, and then, by a wall; but the same
thing is expressed here by a double figure, as is also done in Is. v.
5. First, the shutting up is alone spoken of; it is afterwards brought
into connection with the effects to be thereby produced; and because
she is enclosed by a wall, she cannot find her path. "I wall her wall"
is tantamount to, "I make a wall for her." The words of the husband in
the verse under consideration form an evident contrast to those of the
wife in the preceding verse. _Schmid_ says: "The punishment is by the
law of retaliation. She had said, 'I will go to my lovers;' but God
threatens, on the contrary, that He will obstruct the way so that she
cannot go." The הנני points to the unexpectedness of the result. The
wife imagined that she would be able to carry out her purpose with
great safety and ease; it does not even occur to her to think of her
husband, who had hitherto allowed her, from weakness, as she imagines,
to go on her way undisturbed; but she sees herself _at once_ firmly
enclosed by a wall.--There can be no doubt, that, by the hedging and
walling about, severe sufferings are intended, by which the people are
encompassed, straitened, and hindered in every free movement. For
sufferings regularly appear as the specific against Israel's apostasy
from their God. Compare, _e.g._, Deut. iv. 30: "In the tribulation to
thee, and when all these things come upon thee, thou returnest in the
end of the days to the Lord thy God, and hearest His voice;" Hosea v.
15: "I will go and return to My place till they become guilty; in the
affliction to them, they will seek Me." The figure of enclosing has
elsewhere also, undeniably, the meaning of inflicting sufferings. Thus
in Job iii. 23: "To the man whose way is hid, [Pg 240] and whom God has
hedged in round about;" xix. 8: "He hath fenced up my way and I cannot
pass, and upon my paths He sets darkness;" Lam. iii. 7: "He hath hedged
me about, and I cannot get out; He hath made my chain heavy;" compare
also ibid. ver. 9; Ps. lxxxviii. 9.--The object of the walling about is
to cut her off from the lovers; the infliction of heavy sufferings is
to put an end to idolatrous tendencies.--The words, "thy way," clearly
refer to, "I will go after my lovers," in ver. 7; and by "her paths
which she cannot find," her whole previous conduct in general is indeed
to be understood, but chiefly, from the connection with ver. 7, her
former intercourse with idols. But here the question arises:--How far
is  the remedy suited for the attainment of this end? We can by no
means  think of an external obstacle. Outwardly, there was, during the
exile, and in the midst of idolatrous nations, a stronger temptation to
idolatry than they had in their native land. Hence, we can think of an
internal obstacle only; and then again we can think only of the
absolute incapacity of the idols to grant to the people consolation and
relief in their sufferings. If this incapacity has been first
ascertained by experience, we begin to lose our confidence in them, and
seek help where alone it can be found. As early as in Deut. xxxii. we
are told how misery proves the nothingness of false gods, and shows
that the Lord alone is God; compare especially ver. 36 sqq. Jeremiah
says in ii. 28, "And where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? Let
them arise and help thee in the time of trouble." That which the gods
cannot turn away, they cannot have sent; and if the suffering be sent
by the Lord, it is natural that help should be sought from Him also.
Compare vi. 1: "Come and let us return unto the Lord, for He hath torn
and He healeth us, He smiteth and He bindeth us up."

Ver. 9. "_And she runs after her lovers and shall not overtake, and she
seeks them and shall not find; then she saith: I will go and return to
my first husband, for it was better with me then than now._"

רדף has, in _Piel_, not a transitive, but an intensive meaning.
_Calvin_ remarks: "By the verb, insane fervour is indicated, as indeed
we see that idolaters are like madmen; it shows that such is the
perverseness of their hearts, that they will not at once return to a
sound mind." The distress at first only increases [Pg 241] the zeal in
idolatry; compare Jer. xliv. 17. Every effort is made to move the idols
to help. But if help be, notwithstanding, refused--and how could it be
otherwise, since they from whom it is sought are _Elilim_, _i.e._,
nothings?--they by and by begin to bethink themselves, and to recover
their senses. They discover the nothingness of their idols, and return
to the true God. This apostasy and return are in a touching manner
described by our prophet in xiv. 2-4 also. The words, "I will go and
return to my first husband," form a beautiful contrast to, "I will go
after my lovers," in ver. 7. This statement of the result shows that
God's mercy is then greatest and most effective, just when it seems to
have disappeared altogether, and when His punitive justice seems alone
to be in active exercise. For the latter is by no means to be excluded,
inasmuch as there is no suffering which does not, at the same time,
proceed from it, and no punishment which is inflicted solely on account
of the reformation.

Ver. 10. "_And she, she does not know that I gave her the corn, and the
must, and the oil, and silver I multiplied unto her, and gold which
upon Baal they spent._"

The prophet, starting anew, here returns to a description of her guilt
and punishment; and it is only from ver. 16 that he expands what, in
ver. 9, he had intimated concerning her conversion, and her obtaining
mercy. The words, "She saith," in that verse, belong thus to a period
more remote than the words, "She does not know," in the verse before
us. The things which are here enumerated were, in the case of Israel,
in a peculiar sense, the gift of God. He bestowed them upon the
Congregation as her Covenant-God, as her husband. They are thus
announced as early as in the Pentateuch; compare, _e.g._, Deut. vii.
13: "And He loveth thee, and blesseth thee, and multiplieth thee, and
blesseth the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn,
thy must, and thy oil;" xi. 14: "And I give the rain of your land in
due season, and thou gatherest in thy corn, thy must, and thy oil."
It is certainly not accidental that Hosea enumerates the three
objects, just in the same order in which they occur in these two
passages. By the celebration of the feasts, and by the offering
of the first-fruits, the Israelites were to give expression to the
acknowledgment, [Pg 242] that they derived these gifts of God from His
special providence--from the covenant relation. The relative clause עשו
לבעל is subjoined, as is frequently the case, without a sign of its
relation, and without a _pron. suff._, which is manifest from the
preceding substantive. Several interpreters, from the Chaldee
Paraphrast down to _Ewald_, give the explanation, "which they have made
for a Baal," _i.e._, from which they have made images of Baal, and
appeal to viii. 4: "Their silver and their gold they have made into
idols for themselves." But we must object to this opinion on the
following grounds. 1. עשה, with ל following, is a religious _terminus
technicus_, with the sense of, "to make to any one," "to appropriate,"
"to dedicate," as appears from its frequent repetition in Exod. x. 25
sqq., and also from the fact that ליהוה is frequently omitted. The
phrase is used with a reference to idolatry in 2 Kings xvii. 32; 2
Chron. xxiv. 7.--2. It cannot be proved that הבעל, in the singular and
with the Article, could be used for "statues of Baal."--3. By this
explanation we lose the striking contrast between that which the
Israelites _were doing_, and that which they _were to do_. That which
the Lord gave to them, they consecrated to Baal, instead of to Him, to
whom alone these embodied thanks were due. And, not satisfied in
withdrawing from the true God the honour and thanks which were due to
Him, they transferred them to His enemy and worthless rival,--a
proceeding which bears witness to the deep corruption of human nature,
and which, up to the present day, is continually repeated, and must be
so, because the corruption remains the same. It is substantially the
same thing that the Israelites dedicated their gold to Baal, and that
our great poets consecrate to the world and its prince the rich
intellectual gifts which they have received from God. The words, "and
she knew not," in both cases show that they are equally guilty and
equally culpable. He who bestows the gifts has not concealed Himself;
but they on whom they are bestowed have shut their eyes, that they may
not see Him to whom they are unwilling to render thanks. They would
fain wish that their liberal benefactor were utterly annihilated, in
order that they may not be disturbed in the enjoyment of His gifts by a
disagreeable thought of Him,--in order that they may freely use and
dispose of them, without being obliged to fear their loss,--and in
order that they may be able to devote them, without any [Pg 243]
obstruction, to a god who is like themselves, who is only their own
self viewed objectively (_ihr objectivirtes Ich_). Parallel to the
passage before us, and, it may be, formed after it, is Ezek. xvi. 17,
18: "And thou didst take thy ornament of My gold and of My silver which
I gave thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit
whoredom with them. And thou tookest thy broidered garments, and
coveredst them, and My fat and Mine increase thou gavest before them."
_Hitzig_ understands, by the Baal here, the golden calf, appealing to
the fact that the real worship of Baal had been abolished by Jehu. But
no proof at all can be adduced for the assertion that the name of Baal
had been transferred to the golden calf. It is self-evident, and is
confirmed by 2 Kings xiii. 6, xvii. 16 (in the latter of which passages
the worship of Baal appears as a continuous sin in the kingdom of the
ten tribes), that the destruction of the heathenish worship by Jehu was
not absolute. But so much is certain, that by the mention of Baal, the
sin is here designated only with reference to its highest point, and
that, in substance, the service of the calves is here included. In 1
Kings xiv. 9, it is shown that the sin of worshipping Jehovah under the
image of calves is on a par with real idolatry; and in 2 Chron. xi. 15,
the calves are put on a footing with the goat-deities of Egypt.

Ver. 11. "_Therefore I return, and take My corn in its time, and My
must in its season, and take away My wool and My flax to cover her

לכן stands here with great emphasis. It points to the eternal law of
God's government of the world, according to which He is sanctified
_upon_ them, _in_ whom He has not been sanctified; and this so much the
more, the closer was His relation to them, and the greater were His
gifts. From him who is not thereby moved, they will be taken away; and
nothing but his natural poverty and nakedness is left to him who was
formerly so richly endowed. And well is it with him if they be taken
from him at a time when he is able still to recognise the giver in Him
who taketh away, and may yet deeply repent of his unthankfulness, and
return to Him, as is said of Israel in iii. 5. If such be done, it is
seen that the ungrateful one has not yet become an object of divine
justice alone, but that divine mercy is still in store for him. The
longer God allows His [Pg 244] gifts to remain with the ungrateful, the
darker are their prospects for the future. That which He gave in mercy,
He, in such a case, allows to remain only in anger. The words אשוב
ולקחתי are commonly explained by expositors, "I shall take again,"
inasmuch as two verbs are frequently found together which, in their
connection, are independent of each other--the one indicating only an
accessory idea of the action. But this mode of expression occurs in
general far more rarely than is commonly assumed; and here the
explanation, "I will return and take," is to be preferred without any
hesitation. Scripture says, that God appears even when He manifests
Himself only in the effects of His omnipotence, justice, and love,--a
mode of expression which is explained by that large measure of faith
which perceives, behind the visible effect, the invisible Author of it;
compare, _e.g._, Gen. xviii. 10, where the Lord says to Abraham, that
He would return to him at the same period in the following year;
whereas He did not return in a visible form, as then, but only in the
fulfilment of His promise. Thus God had formerly appeared to Israel as
the Giver; and now that they did not acknowledge Him as such. He
returns as the God that takes away. "She did not know that I gave,
therefore I shall return and take." That the words were to be thus
understood, the prophet, as it appears, intended to indicate by the
change of the tenses. It is quite natural that a verb, used as an
adverb, should be as closely as possible connected with that verb which
conveys the principal idea; and it would scarcely be possible to find a
single instance--at all events there are not many instances--where, in
such a case, a difference of the tense takes place. Altogether
analogous is Jer. xii. 15: "And it shall come to pass after I have
destroyed them, אשוב ורחמתים, I will return and have compassion on
them;" where the sense would be very much weakened if we were to
translate, "I shall _again_ have compassion." There appears to be the
same design in the change of the tenses in iii. 5 also. What is there
said of Israel forms a remarkable parallel to what is here said of
God. God had formerly come, giving--Israel, taking; God now returns,
taking--Israel giving,--a relation which opens up an insight into the
whole economy of the sufferings.--"_My_ corn," etc., forms a contrast
to ver. 7, where Israel had spoken of all these things as _theirs_.
Whatever God gives, always remains [Pg 245] His own, because He gives
only as a loan, and on certain conditions. If any one should consider
himself as the absolute master of it, He makes him feel his error by
taking it away.--"In its time" and "in its season" are added, because
it was _then_, ordinarily, that God had appeared as _giving_, and
because _then_ they therefore confidently expected His gifts. But now
He appears at once as _taking_, because they were already so sure of
the expected gifts that they held them, as it were, already in their
hands; just as if, at Christmas--which corresponds to the harvest, the
ordinary season of God's granting gifts--parents should withdraw from
their children the accustomed presents, and put a rod in their place.
It is better thus to understand the expression, "in its time, etc.,"
than to follow _Jerome_, who remarks, that "it is a severe punishment,
if at the time of harvest the hoped-for fruits are taken away, and
wrested from our hands;" for if, even at the time of the harvest, there
be a want of all things, how will it be during the remaining time of
the year.--The words, "to cover, etc.," are very concise, but without
any grammatical ellipsis, instead of, "which hitherto served to cover
her nakedness." As to the sense, the LXX. are correct in translating,
τοῦ μὴ καλύπτειν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς. For that which had _hitherto_
been, is mentioned by the prophet only for the purpose of drawing
attention to what _in future_ will _not_ be.--It is the Lord who must
cover the nakedness; and this leads us back to the natural poverty of
man, who has not, in the whole world, a single patch or shred--not even
so much as to cover his shame, which is here specially to be understood
by nakedness. The same thought which is so well calculated to humble
pride--what have we that we have not received, and that the Giver might
not at any moment take back?--occurs also in Ezek. xvi. 8: "I spread
out My wings over thee, and covered thy nakedness."

Ver. 12. "_And now I will uncover her shame before the eyes of her
lovers, and none shall deliver her out of My hands._"

The ἅπαξ λεγόμενον נבלות is best explained by "decay," "_corpus multa
stupra passum_." Being a femin. of a Segholate-form, its signification
can be derived only from the _Kal_; but נבל always signifies "to be
faded, weak, feeble;" in _Piel_ it means, "to make weak," "to declare
as weak," "to disgrace," "to despise." As the signification of _Kal_
does not [Pg 246] imply the Idea of ignominy, we cannot explain the
noun, as several interpreters do, by "_turpitudo_, _ignominia_." The
ἀκαθαρσία of the LXX. is probably a free translation of the word
according to our view.--לעיני is constantly used for "_coram,
inspectante aliquo_," properly, "belonging to the eyes of some one,"
and cannot therefore be explained here by "to the eyes," as if she were
uncovered to, or for, the lovers alone; these, on the contrary, are
mentioned only as fellow-witnesses. But in what respect do they come
into consideration here? Several interpreters are of opinion that their
powerlessness, and the folly of trusting in them, are intended to be
here pointed out. Thus _Calvin_ says: "The prophet alludes to the
impudent women who are wont, even by terror, to prevent their husbands
from using their rights. He says, therefore, this shall not prevent me
from chastising thee as thou deservest." Thus also _Stuck_, who
subjoins to the phrase "her lovers:" "who, if they had the strength,
might be a help to her." But it is altogether erroneous thus to
understand the verse. The words, "Before the eyes of the lovers,"
rather mean, that the Lord would make her an object of disgust and
horror even to those who formerly sought after her. The idea is this:
Whosoever forsakes God on account of the world, shall, by God, be put
to shame, even in the eyes of the world itself, and all the more, the
more nearly he formerly stood to Him. This idea is here expressed in a
manner suited to the figurative representation which pervades the whole
section. _Jerome_ says: "All this is brought forward under the figure
of the adulterous woman, who, after she has been taken in the very act,
is exposed and disgraced before the eyes of all." The uncovering, as
guilt, is followed by the uncovering, as punishment; and every one (and
her lovers first) turns away with horror from the disgusting spectacle.
They now at once see her who, hitherto, had made a show with the
apparel and goods of her lawful husband, in her true shape as a
withered monster. That this explanation is alone the correct one,
appears from the parallel passages: compare, _e.g._, Nah. iii. 5:
"Behold, I come upon thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and uncover thy
skirts upon thy face, and make the heathen to see thy nakedness, and
kingdoms thy shame. And it cometh to pass, all that see thee shall flee
from thee:" Lam. i. 8: "Jerusalem hath committed sin, therefore she has
[Pg 247] become a reproach; all that honoured her, despise her, for
they have seen her nakedness; she sigheth and turneth away;" Jer. xiii.
26: "And I also (as thou hast formerly uncovered) uncover thy skirts
over thy face, and thy shame shall be seen;" Ezek. xvi. 37, 41; Is.
xlvii. 3.--But now, it might seem that, according to this explanation,
not the idols, but only the nations serving them, can be understood by
the lovers. But this is only in appearance. In order to make the
scene more lively, the prophet ascribes to the אלילים, to them
who are nothing, life and feeling. If they had these, they would act
just as it is here described, and as their worshippers really acted
afterwards.--The second member of the verse, "And none shall deliver,"
etc., is in so far parallel to the first, as both describe the
dreadfulness of the divine judgment. Parallel is v. 14: "For I will be
as one who roars to Ephraim, and as a lion to the house of Judah: I
will tear and go away, I will take away, and there is no deliverer."

Ver. 13. "_And I make to cease all her mirth, her feast, and her
new-moon, and her sabbath, and all her festival time._"

The feasts served a double purpose. They were days of sacred
dedication, and days of joy; compare Num. x. 10. Israel had violated
them in the former character--just as at present the sacred days have,
throughout the greater part of Christendom, the name only by way of
_catachresis_--and, as a merited punishment, they were taken away by
God in the latter character. They had deprived the festival days of
their sacredness; by God, they are deprived of their joy fulness. The
prophet, in order to intimate that he announces the cessation of the
festival days as days of gladness, premises "all her mirth," to which
all that follows stands in the relation of _species_ to _genus_. משוש
does not here denote "joyful time:" it might, indeed, according to its
formation, have this signification: but it is never found with it. It
here means "joy" itself. (Compare the parallel passages, Jer. vii. 34;
Lam. i. 4: "The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the
feasts;" Amos viii. 10: "And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and
all your songs into lamentation;" Lam. v. 15; Is. xxiv. 8, 11.) The
three following nouns were very correctly distinguished by _Jerome_.
חג, "feast," is the designation of the three annual principal
festivals. In addition to these, there was in every month the [Pg 248]
feast of the new-moon; and in every week, the Sabbath. This connection
is a standing one, which, even in the New Testament (compare Col. ii.
16), still reverts. The words, "all her festival time," comprehend the
single _species_ in the designation of the _genus_. That מועד properly
signifies "appointed time," then, more specially, "festival time,"
"feast," appears from Lev. xxiii. 4: "These are the מועדי of the Lord,
the sacred assemblies which you shall call במועדם, in their appointed
time." That the _feasts_ are not a single species co-ordinate with the
new-moons and Sabbaths, but the genus, appears from the fact that in
Lev. xxiii. the Sabbath opens the series of the מועדים. In a wider
sense, the new-moons also belonged to the מועדים, although they are not
enumerated among them in Lev. xxiii. on account of their subordinate
character. In Num. x. 10, Is. i. 14, Ezra iii. 5, the new-moons are
mentioned along with the מועדים only as the species by the side of the
genus. But we are at liberty to think only of the feasts appointed by
God; for, otherwise, there would be no room for the application of the
_lex talionis_:--God takes from the Israelites only what they had taken
from Him. The days of the Baalim are afterwards specially mentioned in
ver. 15. The days of God are taken from them; for the days of the
Baalim they are punished. This much, however, appears from the passage
before us--and it is placed beyond any doubt by several other passages
in Hosea as well as in Amos--that, outwardly, the worship, as regulated
by the prescriptions of the Pentateuch, had all along continued. (For
the arguments in proof of this assertion, the author's _Dissertations
on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch_, vol. i., are to be compared.)

Ver. 14. "_And I make desolate her vine and fig-tree, whereof she said,
They are the wages of whoredom to me, that my lovers have given me; and
I make them a forest, and the beasts of the field eat them._"

The vine and fig-tree, as the two noblest productions of
Palestine--_Ispahan_, in the "_Excerpta ex vita Saladini_," p. 10,
calls them "_ambos Francorum oculos_"--are here also connected with
each other, as is commonly done in threatenings and promises, as the
representatives of the rich gifts of God, wherewith He has blessed this
country.--אשר is often placed before an entire sentence, to mark it out
as being relative in general. [Pg 249] It is the looser, instead of the
closer connection, = "of which."--אתנה "wages of prostitution," instead
of which, in ix. 1 and other passages, the form אתנן occurs, requires a
renewed investigation. It is commonly derived from תנה, to which the
signification "_largiter donavit, dona distribuit_," is ascribed. But
opposed to this, there is the fact that the root תנה is, neither in
Hebrew, nor in any of the dialects, found with this signification. It
has in Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac, the signification "to laud," "to
praise," "to recount." But besides this תנה, there occurs another תנה,
not with the general signification "to give," but in the special one,
"to give a reward of whoredom;" in which signification it cannot be a
primitive word, but derived from נתן אתנה = אתנה, in the passage under
consideration, and in Ezek. xvi. 34. The supposition of a primitive
verb תנה, with the signification "to give," is also opposed by the
circumstance that the noun which is said to be derived from it never
occurs with the general signification "gift," but always with the
special one, "reward of prostitution." אתנה is rather derived from the
first pers. Fut. Kal of the verb נתן, a "I will-give-thee," similar to
our "forget-me-not." The whore asks, in Gen. xxxviii. 16, מה־תתן לי
("what wilt thou give me?"), and the whoremonger answers, אתן־לך ("I
will give thee"), ver. 18. From this there originated, in the language
of the brothel, a base word for such base traffic. The sacred writers
are not ashamed or afraid to use it. They speak, throughout, of common
things in a common manner; for the vulgar word is the most suitable for
the vulgar thing. The morality of a people, or of an age, may be
measured by their speaking of vulgar things in a vulgar manner, or the
reverse. Wherever, in the language, the "_fille de joie_" or
"_Freudenmädchen_" has taken the place of the "whore," a similar change
will, in reality, have taken place. Whatsoever the people of Israel
imagined that they received from their idols, they certainly will not
have designated as a "reward of prostitution," but as a "reward of true
love." But the prophet at once destroys all their pleasant imaginings
by putting into their mouths the corresponding expression,--an
expression which must certainly have sounded very rudely and vulgarly
in their tender ears; for the tongue and the ear become more tender, in
the same degree in which the heart becomes more vulgar. She who
imagined herself so tender and affectionate sees herself [Pg 250] at
once addressed as a common prostitute. The sweet proofs of the
heartfelt mutual love which her "lovers" gave her are called "wages of
whoredom." This is indeed a good corrective for our language, for our
whole view of things, for our own hearts, which are so easily befooled.
All love of the world, all striving after its favour, every surrender
to the spirit of the age, is whoredom. A reward of whoredom, which must
not be brought into the temple of the Lord (for it is an _abomination_
unto the Lord thy God, Deut. xxiii. 19), is everything which it offers
and gives us in return. Like a reward of whoredom, it will melt away;
"of wages of whoredom she has collected, and to wages of whoredom it
shall return."--This derivation from the Future has a great many
analogies in its favour; among others, the whole class of nouns with ת
prefixed, in which it is quite evident (although this has been so often
overlooked) that they have arisen from the Fut. If the ת in these forms
originated from the _Hiphil_, how could it be explained that they are
more frequently connected with _Kal_? Even the very common occurrence
of the formation from the Future in the case of proper names, induces
us to expect, _a priori_, that it will be more frequent in appellative
names than is commonly supposed. The occurrence of the phrase נתן אתנה,
in the passages quoted, is also in favour of this derivation. By it,
the interchange of the two forms אתנה and אתנן is easily accounted for.
In the latter of these forms, the _Nun_ which prevails in נתן, but
which had been dropped at the beginning, again reappears. A variation
in the form is, moreover, quite natural in a word which originated from
common life, which is entirely destitute of accurate analogies, and is
therefore, as it were, without a model; for the other nouns of this
class are formed from the 3d pers. of the _Fut._--As regards, now, the
substance:--Egotism, and selfishness arising out of it, are the ground
of all desire for the love of that which is not God, especially in the
case of those who have already known the true God; for where this is
not the case, there may be, even in idolatry, a better element, which
seeks for a false gratification only because it does not know the true
one. From this, however, it appears, that the idolatry of the
Israelites (and this is only a species of the idolatry of all those who
have had opportunity to know the true God, and of whom it is true that
"the last is worse than the first") was [Pg 251] much lower than that
of the Gentiles, whose poets and philosophers, in part, zealously
opposed the dispositions which are here expressed; compare the passages
in _Manger_. Egotism is here, as it always is, folly; for it trusts in
him who himself possesses only borrowed and stolen goods, which the
lawful owner may, at every moment, take away from him. And in order
that such folly may appear as such, and very glaringly too. He appears
here indeed, and takes what He had in reality given out of His mercy,
but what, according to their imagination, they had received from
the idols as a reward.--The suffix in שמתים refers to the vine and
fig-tree. The gardens of vines and fig-trees carefully tended, hedged
and enclosed round about, are to be deprived of hedges, enclosures, and
culture (καθυλομανεῖ γὰρ μὴ κλαδευομένη ἡ ἄμπελος, _Clem. Alex. Paed._
i. 1, p. 115 Sylb.), to be changed into a forest, and given over to the
ravages of wild beasts; for the words "and eat them" are by no means to
be referred to the fruits only. The same image of an entirely
devastated country is found in Is. vii. 23 ff.; Mic. iii. 12.

Ver. 15. "_And I visit upon her the days of the Baalim, to whom she
burnt incense, and put on her ring and her ornament, and went after her
lovers, and forgat Me, saith the Lord._"

The days of the Baalim are the days consecrated to their worship,
whether they were specially set apart for that purpose, or whether they
were originally devoted to the worship of the Lord, whom they sought to
confound with Baal. _Manger_, and with him, most interpreters, are
wrong in understanding by the days of Baal, "all the time--certainly a
very long one--in which that forbidden worship flourished in this
nation." Such would be too indefinite an expression. When days of
the Baalim are spoken of, every one must think of days specially
consecrated to them,--their festivals. To this must be added, moreover,
the reference to the days of the Lord in ver. 13. In ver. 10, however,
only one Baal, הבעל, is spoken of; here there are several. This may be
reconciled by the supposition that one and the same Baal was worshipped
according to his various modes of manifestation which were expressed by
the epithets. But the plural may also be explained--and this seems to
be preferable--from 1 Kings xviii. 18, where Baalim is tantamount to
Baal and his associates (compare _Dissertations on the Gen. of the
Pent._ vol. i. p. 165); or from Lev. xvii. 7, where שעירים denotes the
Goat-idol, [Pg 252] and others of his kind. The calves, the worship of
which was, at the time of Hosea, the prevailing one throughout the
kingdom of the ten tribes, are, in that case, comprehended in the
Baalim.--In the words, "And she put on her ring and ornament," the
figurative mode of expression has been overlooked by most interpreters.
Misled by the תקטיר, which refers directly to the spiritual adulteress,
they imagined that the wearing of nose-rings, and other ornaments, in
honour of the idols, was here spoken of. A more correct view was held
by the Chaldee who thus paraphrases: "The Congregation of Israel was
like a wife who deserted her husband, and adorned herself, and ran
after her lovers. Thus the Congregation of Israel was pleased to
worship idols, and to neglect My worship." A great many false
interpretations have had their origin in the circumstance, that they
could not comprehend this liberty of the sacred writers, who at one
time speak plainly of the spiritual antitype, and at another time
transfer to it the peculiarities of the outward type. Had this been
kept in view, it would not, _e.g._, have been asserted, that David had,
in Ps. xxiii. 5, relinquished the image of the good shepherd, because
he does not speak of a trough which the actual good shepherd places
before his sheep, but of a table, placed before them by the spiritual
good Shepherd. In the passage under consideration, the תקטיר denotes an
action performed by her who is an adulteress in a spiritual point of
view. In the words, "She puts on," etc., her conduct is described under
the figure of that of her outward type. The actual correspondence is to
be found in her efforts of making herself agreeable,--in the employing
of every means in order to gain her spiritual lovers. The putting on of
precious ornaments comes into view, only in so far as it is one of
these efforts, and, indeed, a very subordinate one. The burning of
incense, the offering of sacrifices, etc., are, in this respect, of far
greater importance. The correctness of our interpretation is confirmed
by those parallel passages also, in which the same figurative mode of
expression occurs. Thus, _e.g._, Is. lvii. 9: "Thou lookest upon the
king (the common translation, "thou goest to the king," cannot be
defended on philological grounds) in oil (_i.e._, smelling of
ointment), and multipliest thy perfume,"--evidently a figurative
designation, taken from a coquetish woman, to express the employing of
all means in, order to gain favour;--Is. iv. 30: [Pg 253] "And thou
desolate one, what wilt thou do? For thou puttest on thy purple, for
thou adornest thyself with golden ornaments, for thou rentest thine
eyes with painting. In vain thou makest thyself fair; the lovers
despise thee, they seek thy life." In Ezek. xxii. 40-42, Jerusalem
washes and paints herself, expecting her lovers, and decks herself with
ornaments; then she sits down upon a stately couch; a table is prepared
before her, upon which she places the incense of the Lord, and His oil.
In this last feature in Ezekiel, the type disappears behind the thing
typified, although not so completely as is the case in the passage
under consideration, in the words, "She burns incense."--From what has
been remarked, it appears that, in substance, Hos. iv. 13, "They
sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains and bum incense upon the
hills," is entirely parallel. The two clauses, "She went after her
lovers," and "she forgat Me," both serve to represent the crime in a
more heinous light. Sin must certainly have already poisoned the whole
heart, if occasion for its exercise be spontaneously sought after. In
reference to the latter, _Calvin_ remarks: "Just as when a wife has for
a long time lived with her husband, and has been kindly and liberally
treated by him, and then prostitutes herself to lovers, and does not
entertain or retain any more love for him; such a depravity is nothing
less than brutish."

Ver. 16. "_Therefore, behold, I allure her, and lead her into the
wilderness and speak to her heart._"

The consolation and promise here begin with as great abruptness as in
the first section. It is reported how the Lord gradually leads back His
unfaithful wife to reformation, and to reunion with Him, the lawful
husband. Great difficulty has been occasioned to interpreters by the
לכן at the commencement. Very easily, but at the same time very
inconsiderately, the difficulty is got over by those who give it the
signification, "_utique_, _profecto_;" but this cannot be called
interpreting. It must be, above all, considered as settled and
undoubted, that לכן can here have that signification only which it
always has; and this all the more, that in vers. 8 and 15 it occurred
in the same signification. This being taken for granted, the
"therefore" might be referred to the words of the wife in ver. 9, "I
will go and return to my first husband," and all which follows be
considered as only a kind of parenthesis. That the Lord begins again to
show Himself [Pg 254] kind to His wife would then have its foundation
in this:--that in her the first symptoms of a change of character
manifested themselves. But this supposition is, after all, too forced.
These words are too far away as that the prophet could have expected to
be understood, in thus referring to them in a manner so indefinite.
Several interpreters follow the explanation of _Tarnovius_: "Therefore,
because she is not corrected by so great calamities, I will try the
matter in another and more lenient way, by kindness." But the prophet
could not expect that his hearers and readers should themselves supply
the thought, which is not indicated by anything,--the thought, namely,
"because that former method was of no avail, or rather, because it
_alone_ did not suffice;" for it was by no means wholly in vain. When
the Lord had hedged up her way with thorns, the woman speaks: "I will
go and return;" and where tribulations are of no avail--tribulations
through which we must enter the kingdom of God--nothing else will. The
severity of God must precede His love. And even though this train
of thought should have occurred to them, they had no guarantee for
its correctness. It is most natural to take the לכן as being simply
co-ordinate with the לכן in vers. 8 and 11. The "_because_," which, in
all the three places, corresponds to the _therefore_, is the wife's
apostasy. Because she has forgotten God, He recalls Himself to her
remembrance, first by the punishment, and then, after this has attained
its end,--after the wife has spoken: "I will go and return,"--by proofs
of His love. The leading to Egypt, into the wilderness, into the land
of Canaan, rests on her unfaithfulness as its foundation. Without it,
the Congregation would have remained in undisturbed possession of the
promised land. By it, God is induced, both according to His justice and
His mercy, to take it from her, to lead her back into the wilderness,
and thence to the promised land.--פתה, in the _Piel_, is a _verbum
amatorium_; it signifies "to allure by tender persuasion." There is to
be a repetition of the proceeding of God, by which He formerly, in
Egypt, allured the people to Himself, and induced them to follow Him
into the wilderness, from the spiritual and bodily bondage in Egypt.
After the sufferings, there always follows the alluring. God first
takes away the objects of sinful love, and then He comes alluring and
persuading us that we should choose, for the object of our love. Him
who alone is worthy of, and entitled to, love. He is not [Pg 255]
satisfied with the strict prosecution of His right, but endeavours to
make duty sweet to us, and, by His love, to bring it about that we
perform it from love. After He has thus allured us. He leads us
from Egypt into the wilderness.--The words, "I lead her into the
wilderness," have been very much misunderstood by interpreters.
According to _Manger_, the wilderness here is that through which the
captives should pass on their return from Babylon. But one reason alone
is sufficient to refute this opinion,--namely, that on account of the
following verse, by the wilderness (the article must not be
overlooked), only that wilderness can be understood which separates
Egypt from Canaan. Others (_Ewald_, _Hitzig_), following _Grotius_,
understand by the wilderness, the Assyrian captivity. _Kuehnöl_ has
acquired great merit for this exposition, by proving from a passage
in _Herodotus_, that there were, at that time, uncultivated regions
in Assyria! The same reason which militates against the former
interpretation is opposed to this also. To this it may be further
added, that, according to it, we can make nothing of the _alluring_.
The Israelites were not _allured_ into captivity by kindness and
love; they were driven into it _against_ their will, by God's wrath.
_Moreover_, what according to this interpretation is to be done with
the משם in ver. 17? Did, perhaps, the vineyards of Canaan begin
immediately beyond Assyria, or does not even this rather lead us to the
Arabian desert? It is certain, then, that this desert is the one to be
thought of here, and, in addition, that it can only be as an image and
type that the prophet here represents the leading through the
wilderness, as a repetition of the former one in its individual form;
inasmuch as it was, substantially, equal with it. For they who returned
from the Assyrian captivity could not well pass through the literal
Arabian desert; and the comparison expressed in the following verse,
"As in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt," shows that
here also a _decurtata comparatio_ must take place. But, now, all
depends upon determining the essential feature, the real nature and
substance, of that first leading through the wilderness; because the
leading spoken of in the verse before us must have that essential
feature in common with it. The principal passage--which must guide us
in this investigation, and which is proved to be such by the
circumstance that the Lord Himself referred [Pg 256] to it when He was
_spiritually_ led through the wilderness, an event which, for a sign,
_outwardly_ also took place in the wilderness--is Deut. viii. 2-5: "And
thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these
forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee and to prove thee, to
know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldst keep His commandments,
or no. And He afflicted thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee
with the manna which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know,
that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but
by everything which proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man
live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell
these forty years. And thou knowest in thine heart, that as a father
chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee." The essential
feature in the leading through the wilderness is, accordingly, the
_temptation_. By the wonderful manifestations of the Lord's omnipotence
and mercy, on the occasion of Israel's deliverance from Egypt, a
heartfelt love to Him had been awakened in the people. (Compare the
tender expression of it in the Song in Exod. xv.; and also the passage
in Jer. ii. 2: "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of
thine espousals, thy going after Me in the wilderness in a land not
sown,"--which cannot but refer to the very first time of the abode in
the wilderness, before the giving of the law on Sinai, as is evident
from the mention of the youth and espousals; for the latter ceased on
Sinai, where the marriage took place.) The whole conduct of the people
at the giving of the law,--their great readiness in promising to do all
that the Lord should command,--likewise bear testimony to this love.
The Lord's heartfelt delight in Israel during the first period of their
marching through the wilderness, of which Hosea speaks in ix. 10,
likewise presupposes this love. Thus the first station was reached. The
people now hoped to be put in immediate possession of the inheritance
promised to them by the Lord. But, because the Lord knew the condition
of human nature. His way was a different one. A state of temptation and
trial succeeded that of entire alienation from God. The first love is
but too often--nay, it is, more or less, always--but a flickering
flame. Sin has not been entirely slain; it has been only subdued for a
moment, and only wants a favourable opportunity [Pg 257] to regain its
old dominion. It would never be thoroughly destroyed, if God allowed
this condition always to continue; if by always putting on new fuel, if
by uninterrupted proofs of His love. He were to keep that fire burning
continually. If the love of the feelings and imagination is to become a
cordial, thorough moral love, it requires to be tried, in order that
thus it may recognise its own nothingness hitherto, and how necessary
it is that it should take deeper root. The means of this trial are
God's afflicting us, concealing Himself from us, leading us in a way
different from that which we expected, and, apparently, forsaking vis.
But because He is the merciful One who will not suffer us to be tempted
above that we are able,--because He Himself has commanded us to pray,
"Lead us not into temptation," _i.e._, into such an one as we are not
able to bear, and would thereby become a temptation inwardly,--He makes
His gifts to go by the side of His chastisements. He who suffered
Israel to hunger, gave them also to eat. He who suffered them to
thirst, gave them also to drink. He who led them over the burning sand,
did not suffer their shoes to wax old. But this counterpoise to
tribulation becomes, in another aspect, a new temptation. As Satan
tries to overthrow us by pleasure as well as by pain; so God proves us
by what He gives, no less than by what He takes away. In the latter
case, it will be seen whether we love God _without_ His gifts; in the
former, whether we love Him in His gifts. This second station is, to
many, the last; the bodies of many fall in the wilderness. But while a
multitude of individuals remain there, the Congregation of God always
passes over to the third station,--the possession of Canaan. The state
of temptation is, to her, always a state of sifting and purification at
the same time. That which is to the individual a calamity, is to her a
blessing.--That we have thus correctly defined the nature and substance
of the leading through the wilderness, is confirmed by the temptation
of Christ also, which immediately succeeded the bestowal of the Spirit,
which again corresponded to the first love. That this temptation of
Christ corresponded to the leading through the wilderness--in so far as
it could do so in the case of Him who was tempted in all things,
yet without sin; while in our case, there is no temptation, even
when resisted [Pg 258] victoriously, that is without sin--appears
sufficiently from its two external characteristics, viz., the stay
in the wilderness, and the forty days; but still more so, from the
internal feature,--the fact that the Saviour, in order to show the
tempter that He recognised in His own case a repetition of the stay in
the wilderness, opposed Him with a passage taken from the _locus
classicus_ concerning it, already quoted.--We now, moreover, cite the
parallel passages which serve as an explanation of the passage under
consideration, and as a confirmation of the explanation which we have
given. The most important is Ezek. xx. 34-38: "And I bring you _out
from the nations_, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye are
scattered, with a mighty hand and with a stretched-out arm, and with
fury poured out. And I bring you into the _wilderness of the nations_,
and there will I plead with you face to face; like as I pleaded with
your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead
there with you, saith the Lord God. And I cause you to pass under the
rod, and bring you into the bond of the covenant, and purge out from
among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me; out of the
land of your pilgrimage (the standing designation of Egypt in the
Pentateuch) I will bring them forth, and into the land of Israel they
shall not come, and ye shall know that I am the Lord." Here also, the
stay in the wilderness appears as a state of trial, lying in the middle
between the abode among the nations (corresponding to the bondage in
Egypt, which was so not merely bodily, but spiritual also), and the
possession of Canaan. And the result of this trial is a different one,
according to the different condition of the individuals. Some shall be
altogether destroyed; even the appearance of the communion with the
Lord, which they hitherto maintained by having come out of the land of
pilgrimage along with the others, shall be taken away; whilst the
others, by the very means which brought about the destruction of the
former, shall be confirmed in their communion with the Lord, and be
more closely united to Him. Hosea, who, in consequence of the
personification of the Congregation of Israel, has the whole more in
view, regards chiefly the latter feature. A very remarkable
circumstance in Ezekiel, however, requires to be still more minutely
considered; because it promotes essentially the right understanding of
the passage before us. What is meant [Pg 259] by the "wilderness of the
nations?" Several interpreters think that it is the wilderness between
Babylon and Judea. Thus, for example, _Manger_: "_I am disposed to
think_ that the desert of Arabia itself is here called the wilderness
of the nations, on account of the different nomadic tribes which are
accustomed to wander through it." _Rosenmüller_ says: "He _seems_ to
speak here of those vast solitudes which the Jews had to pass through,
on their way from Babylon to Judea." But this "I am disposed to think,"
and this "he seems," on the part of these interpreters, show that they
themselves felt the insufficiency of their own explanation. That
nomadic tribes are straying through that wilderness, is not at all
essential, and can therefore not be mentioned here, where only the
essential feature--the nature and substance of the leading through the
wilderness--are concerned. And we cannot at all perceive why just the
wilderness between Babylon and Judea should be called the wilderness of
the nations. It was no more travelled by nomadic tribes than was any
other wilderness. And just as little was it characteristic of it, that
it bordered upon the territories of various nations (_Hitzig_). Such a
designation would throw us upon the territory of mere conjecture, on
which we are, in Holy Scripture, never thrown, except through our own
fault. But it is quite decisive that the words, "I bring you out of the
wilderness of the nations," stand in a close relation to the words, "I
bring you out from the nations." From this it appears that the nations,
to which the Israelites are to be brought, cannot be any other than
those, out of the midst of whom they are to be led. In the first
leading out of the Israelites, the two spiritual conditions were
separated externally also. The first belonged to Egypt; the second, to
the wilderness. But it shall not be thus, in this announced repetition
of the leading. It is only spiritually that the Israelites, at the
commencement of the second condition, shall be led out from among the
nations, in the midst of whom they, outwardly, still continue to be.
The wilderness is in the second Egypt itself. The stay in the
wilderness is repeated as to its essence only, and not as to its
accidental outward form; just as in Zech. x. 12, the words, "And he
passeth through the sea," which apparently might imply a repetition of
the outward form merely, are limited to the substance by the subjoined
"affliction." From this we obtain for our passage (_Hitzig_ likewise
[Pg 260] remarks: Ezek. xx. 34-38 seems to depend on Hosea ii. 16) the
important result, that the leading of God which is here announced, is
not limited to a definite place, and as little, to a definite time. And
what is true of the leading through the wilderness, must necessarily
apply to the leading into Canaan also. Just as Egypt might begin, and
actually did begin, even in Palestine, inasmuch as Israel was there
in a condition of heavy spiritual and bodily bondage;--just as,
spiritually, they might already be in the wilderness, though,
outwardly, they were still under Asshur; so, the stay in the wilderness
might, relatively, have still continued in Canaan, even although--which
did not happen--the whole people should have returned thither with
Zerubbabel. What is it that makes Canaan to be Canaan, the promised
land, the land of the Lord? It is just this:--that the Lord is there
present with all His gifts and blessings. But such was by no means the
case in the new colony. Because the spiritual condition of those who
had returned was in conformity with the second--in part, even with the
first--rather than with. the last station, their outward condition was
so likewise. John the Baptist symbolized this continuation of the
condition of the wilderness, by his appearing _in the wilderness_, with
the preaching of repentance, and with. the announcement, that now the
introduction to the true Canaan was near at hand. By proclaiming
himself as the voice crying in the wilderness, announced by Isaiah, he
showed with sufficient plainness how false was that carnal view which,
without being able to distinguish the thought from its drapery,
understood, and still understands, by the wilderness spoken of
in this prophecy, some piece of land, limited as to space, and then
murmured that the actual limit did not correspond with the fancied
one.--As in the case of Israel, so in ours also, these conditions are
distinguished, not absolutely, but relatively only. Even he who has, in
one respect, been already led through to Canaan, remains, in another
respect, in the wilderness still. Canaan, in the full sense, does not
belong to the present world, but to the future, as regards both the
single individual, and the whole Church.--Another parallel passage is
Jer. xxxi. 1, 2: "At this time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of
all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. Thus saith
the Lord, The people who have escaped from the sword find mercy
in the wilderness; [Pg 261] I go to give rest to Israel." In Rev. xii.
6, 14, the wilderness likewise designates the state of trial and
temptation.--דבר על־לב, properly "to speak over the heart," because the
words fall down upon the heart, signifies an affectionate and
consolatory address; compare Gen. xxxiv. 3 ("And he loved the damsel,
and spoke over the heart of the damsel"), l. 21; Is. xl. 2. Here they
signify that the wife is comforted after she had been so deeply cast
down by the consciousness of her former unfaithfulness, and by the
experience of its bitter consequences. The view of those who would here
think only of the comforting words of the prophets is much too
limited,--although these words are, of course, included. We must
chiefly think of the _sermo realis_ of the Lord, of all the proofs of
affectionate and tender love, whereby He gives rest to the weary and
heavy-laden, and brings it about, that those who were formerly
unfaithful, but who now suffer themselves to be led by Him out of the
spiritual bondage into the spiritual wilderness, can now put confidence
in Him; just as, formerly. He comforted Israel in the wilderness, in
the waste and desolate land, in the land of drought and of the shadow
of death (Jer. ii. 6), and affectionately cared for all their wants, in
order that they might know that He is the Lord their God, Deut. xxix.
4, 5.

Ver. 17. "_And I give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of
Achor_ (trouble) _for a door of hope; and she answers thither as in the
days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of Egypt._"

The same faithful love which led into the wilderness, now leads into
Canaan also; and the entrance into the promised land is immediately
followed by the possession of all its gifts and blessings, which now
legitimately belong to the _faithful_ wife (_her_ vineyards), whilst,
formerly, they were taken from the unfaithful wife by the giver, ver.
14. נתן with ל of the person, always means "to give to some one." Hence
_Simson_ is wrong in giving the explanation: "And I make her of it,
viz., the wilderness, her vineyards;" for the valley of Achor was not
situated in the wilderness, but in Canaan; compare Is. lxv. 10. The
signification "to give" is here suited to the second member of the
verse also. The valley of Achor is given to her in its quality as a
valley of hope. The _vineyards_ are mentioned with reference to ver.
14, where the devastation of the vine is [Pg 262] threatened. They are
brought under notice as the noblest possession, as the finest ornament
of the cultivated land, in contrast with the barren wilderness. משם,
properly "from thence," is correctly explained by _Manger_: "As
soon as she has come out of that wilderness." The explanation of
_Rödiger_ and others, "From that time," is unphilological; שם is never
an adverb of time.--According to the opinion of many interpreters
(_Calvin_, _Manger_, and others), the valley of Achor here comes into
consideration only because of its fruitfulness, and its situation at
the entrance of the promised land, but not with any reference to the
event which, according to Josh. vii., happened there. But the
circumstance that here, as in the whole preceding context, the prophet,
in almost every word, has before his eyes the former leadings of
Israel, compels us, almost involuntarily, to have respect to that
event. And, in addition, there is a still more decisive argument. It
cannot be denied that there is a contrast between what the valley of
Achor is by nature, and what it is made by the Lord; there is too plain
a contrast between the _hope_ and the _affliction_. But if thus the
meaning of the name is brought into view, then certainly there must
also be a reference to the event to which it owed its name. But in
order to have a right understanding of this reference, we must find out
what was the essential feature in the event, the repetition of which is
here announced. The people, when they were entering into Canaan, were
immediately deprived of the enjoyment of the divine favour by the
transgression of an individual--Achan--which was only a single fruit
from the tree of the sin which was common to all. But God Himself,
in His mercy, made known the means by which the lost favour might
be recovered; and thus the place, which seemed to be the door of
destruction, became the door of hope; compare _Schultens_ on _Harari_
iii. p. 180. The remembrance of this event was perpetuated by the
name of the place; compare ver. 25: "And Joshua said. Why hast thou
troubled us? The Lord shall trouble thee this day. Therefore the name
of the place was called. The valley of Achor, unto this day." This
particular dealing of God, however, is based upon His nature, and
must, therefore, repeat itself when Israel again comes into similar
circumstances,--must be repeated, in general, whensoever similar
conditions arise. Even they who have already entered the [Pg 263]
promised land, who have already come to the full enjoyment of salvation
(_full_, in so far as it is considered as a whole, and designated as
the last station; but as this last station again has several steps and
gradations, this fulness can be relative only. If it were absolute, if
nothing more of the wilderness were left, then, of course, the case
here in question could no more occur; for a salvation absolutely full
presupposes a righteousness absolutely full);--even they who have
already come to the full enjoyment of salvation, and to a degree of
righteousness corresponding to this salvation, require still the mercy
of God; for, without it, they would soon lose their salvation again.
This mercy, however, is vouchsafed to them in abundant measure. The
whole manner in which God leads those who have obtained mercy, is a
changing of the valley of trouble into a door of hope. He will order
all things in such a way, that the bond of union betwixt Him and those
for whom all things must work together for good, instead of being
broken by sin--as it would be if He were justice alone--is only the
more strengthened. The same idea occurs again in ver. 21. The new
marriage-covenant is there founded not on justice only, but on mercy
also.--The words וענתה שמה are commonly explained, "She sings there,"
or, "She there raises alternative songs." But both of these
interpretations are unphilological. For 1. שמה does not signify
"there," but "thither." Those passages which have been appealed to for
the purpose of proving that it may also sometimes signify "there," or
"at yonder place," all belong to the same class. The opposite of the
construction of the verbs of motion with ב takes place in them. As, in
these verbs, the idea of rest is, for the sake of brevity, omitted, so
here, that of motion. Thus, _e.g._, Jer. xviii. 2, "Go down to the
potter's house, and _thither_ will I cause thee to hear My voice," is a
concise mode of expression for, "I will send My voice thither, and
cause thee to hear there;" 1 Chron. iv. 41, "Which were found thither,"
instead of, "which were found there when they came thither." We might,
in the case of the passage under consideration, most easily concede
what we are contending against, that שמה is used instead of שם, as a
kind of grammatical blunder; but that the writer knew the difference
between these two forms clearly appears from the close of the verse,
where, certainly, he would not have put שמה for שם. These are the
instances adduced by _Winer_. _Gesenius_, further, refers [Pg 264]to
Is. xxxiv. 15: "_Thither_ makes her nest;" but the making of the nest
implies the placing of it. _Ewald_, moreover, appeals to Ps. cxxii. 5:
"_Thither_ sit the thrones for judgment." It is true that ישב never
signifies "to sit down," but it frequently implies it. He appeals,
further, to the Song of Solomon viii. 5: "_Thither_ thy mother brought
thee forth;" which is tantamount to--there she brought thee forth, and
put thee down. But שמה can so much the less signify "there," that the
instances alleged for the weakening of the ה _locale_ in other
passages, will not stand the test. _Ewald_ appeals to Ps. lxviii. 7:
"God makes the solitary to dwell ביתה;" which, however, does not mean
"_in_ the house," as _Ewald_ translates, but "_into_ the house"--He
leads them thither, and makes them to dwell there. The idea of motion
being sufficiently indicated by the ה itself, no other designation was
required in poetry, which delights in brevity. _Further_--Hab. iii. 11:
"Sun and moon stand זבלה, towards their habitation," _i.e._, go into
their habitation and stand there. 2. The verb ענה signifies neither "to
begin the discourse," nor "to sing," nor "to sing alternately," nor "to
correspond," nor "to be favourably disposed" (_Ewald_), nor "to obey"
(_Hitzig_), but always, and everywhere, "to answer." All these
explanations will lose their plausibility, if we only consider, that it
is not always necessary that a question be expressed by words, but that
it may be implied in the thing itself--especially in the case of the
lively Orientals, for whom things, even the most mute, have a language.
As examples, we cite only 1 Sam. xxi. 12:--"Did they not answer to him
in dances, saying, Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten
thousands!" Similarly also xxix. 5. That even here, the signification
"to answer" ought to be retained, is plain from xviii. 7, compared with
ver. 6. The coming together of David and Saul was a silent question as
to which was the greater. Ps. cxlvii.: "Answer the Lord with praise."
The real addresses of the Lord were His blessings; compare vers. 2-6, 8
ff. By everything which God gives He asks. What art thou doing to Me,
since I am doing that to thee? ענה is often used of God, although no
formal question or prayer preceded; but the very relation itself
implies prayer and asking. It is in this sense that even the ravens are
said to cry to God. It is in this sense that God _answers_ His people
before they cry to Him. He who has nothing, prays by this very
circumstance, even without words, [Pg 265]yea, even without the
gestures and posture of one who is praying. Since, in these remarks, we
have already refuted the arguments which seemed most plausible, we may
pass over other objections which are less to the purpose. There is only
the passage Exod. xv. 21, which requires to be specially noticed, as it
is in that passage that the signification "to sing alternately" is
supposed, beyond any doubt, to be; and many interpreters assume that
there is a verbal reference to it in the passage under consideration.
"And then Miriam answered to them (להם, _i.e._, to the men), Sing ye to
the Lord," Moses sings first with the children of Israel, ver. 1, "and
then Miriam the prophetess took, etc., and _answered_." The
signification "to answer," is here quite evident. But, on the other
hand, it appears that that passage has not the slightest relation to
the one under consideration, inasmuch as there is not, in the latter,
any mention of a first choir, to which the second answers.--From what
has been hitherto remarked, it is settled that the translation, "And
she answers thither," is alone admissible. But now, since no _verbal_
question or address has preceded here, the question arises:--Which
address by deeds called forth the answer? To this question an answer is
readily suggested by the reference of שמה to the preceding משם. The
address must have come from that place to which the answer is sent;
hence, it can consist only in the giving of the vineyards, and of the
good things of the promised land generally. On entering into it, she is
welcomed by this affectionate address of the Lord, her husband, and
there she answers it. The following words, "As in the days," etc.,
show what that is in which the answer consists. If, at that time,
Israel answered the Lord by a song of praise, full of thanks for the
deliverance from Egypt, now also they will answer Him by a song of
praise, for being led into Canaan. If history had given any report
of a hymn of praise sung by Israel when they entered into Canaan,
the prophet would have referred to it; but as it was, he could only
remind them of that hymn. And although the occasion on which it was
sung did not altogether correspond, it must be borne in mind, that in
this hymn (compare ver. 12 ff.) the passing through the Red Sea is
represented as a preparatory step, and as prefiguring the occupation of
Canaan--the latter being contained in it as in a germ. It is, moreover,
self-evident that the essential fundamental thought is [Pg 266]only
that of the cordial and deep gratitude of the redeemed,--that the form
only is borrowed from the previous manifestation of this thankfulness.
An image altogether similar, and arising from the same cause, is found
in Is. xii. also, where the reference to Moses' hymn of thanks is
manifested by employing the very words; and likewise in Is. xxvi.; and,
further, in Hab. iii. and Rev. xv. 3.--ימי and יום are Nominatives, not
Accusatives; which latter could not be made use of here, because the
discourse is not of an action extending through the whole period, but
of one happening at a particular point of that period. The comparison
is here also merely intimated, because the _tertium comparationis_ is
abundantly evident from what precedes: "As the days of her youth,"
instead of, "As she once answered in the days of her youth."

Ver. 18. "_And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, thou shalt call
Me, My husband, and shall call Me no more, My Baal._"

The full performance of her duties corresponds with the full admission
to her rights. The prophet expresses this thought, by announcing the
removal of the two forms in which the apostasy of the people from the
true God--the violation of the marriage-covenant which rested on
exclusiveness--was at that time manifested. One of these was the mixing
up of the religion of Jehovah with heathenism, according to which they
called the true God "Baal," and worshipped Him as Baal; the other was
still grosser--was pure idolatry. The abolition of the former (compare
above, p. 176 f.) is predicted in this verse; the abolition of the
latter, in the verse following. Both are in a similar way placed beside
each other in Zech. xiv. 9: "In that day shall there be one Lord,
and His name one;" where the first clause refers to the abolition
of polytheism, and the second to the abolition of the mixing of
religion--of the hidden apostasy--which, without venturing to forsake
the true God entirely and openly, endeavours to mix up and identify Him
with the world. To the fundamental thought there are several parallels;
_e.g._, Deut. xxx. 5 ff.: "And the Lord thy God bringeth thee into the
land which thy fathers possessed; and the Lord thy God circumciseth
thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with
all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." This
passage shows that the verse before us, no less than that which
precedes, contains a _promise_, and that the "calling," and the
"calling no more," is a work of divine [Pg 267]grace. To this we are
led also by the words, "I shall take away," in ver. 19, as well as by
the other parallel passages:--Jer. xxiv. 7: "And I give them an heart
to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be a people to Me, and I
will be a God to them, for they shall return to Me with their whole
heart;" Ezek. xi. 19: "And I give them one heart, and a new spirit I
put within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh;" compare
further Zech. xiii. 2. Another interpretation of the verse recommends
itself by its apparent depth. According to it, בעל is to be taken as an
appellative noun, the "marriage-Lord," in contrast with איש, "husband,"
and that the people are henceforth to be altogether governed by love.
But this interpretation must be objected to, for a whole multitude of
reasons. There is, _first_ of all, the relation of this verse to the
following one, which does not allow that בעל, which there occurs as a
proper name, should in this place be taken as an appellative. There is,
_then_, the arbitrariness in defining the relation between איש and בעל,
the former of which as little exclusively expresses the relation of
love, as the latter excludes it. (Compare Is. liv. 5, 6, lxii. 4; 2
Sam. xi. 26.) Further, it is incorrect to say that בעל properly
means "Lord;" it means "possessor." _Still further_,--There is the
unsuitableness of the thought, which would be without any analogy in
its favour throughout Scripture. And, _lastly_, the relation of love to
God cannot, even in its highest consummation, do away with reference to
Him, etc.

Ver. 19. "_And I take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth,
and they shall no more be remembered by their name._"

The people are to conceive such an abhorrence of idolatry, that they
shall be afraid of being defiled even by pronouncing the name of the
idols. The words are borrowed from Exod. xxiii. 13: "Ye shall not make
mention of the name of other gods, neither shall it be heard out of thy
mouth." The special expression of the idea must, as a matter of course,
be referred back to this idea itself, viz., the abhorrence of the
former sin and, hence, such a mention cannot here be spoken of as, like
that in the passage before us, has no reference to that sin.

Ver. 20. "_And I make a covenant for them in that day with the beasts
of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping
things of the earth; and bow, and sword, and war I break out of the
land, and make them to dwell in safety._"

[Pg 268]

On the expression, "I make a covenant," _Manger_ remarks, "The cause is
here put for the effect, in order to inspire with greater security."
For the benefit of Israel, God makes a covenant with the beasts,
_i.e._, He imposes upon them obligations not to injure them. The phrase
כרת ברית is frequently used of a transaction betwixt two parties,
whereby an obligation is imposed upon only one of the parties, without
the assumption of any obligation by the other. A somewhat different
turn is given to the image in Job v. 23, where, by the mediation of
God, the beasts themselves enter into a covenant with Job after his
restoration. רמש never means "worm," but always "what moves and
creeps," both small and great, as, in Ps. civ. 25, is subjoined by way
of explanation. The three classes stand in the same order in Gen. ix.
2. The normal order there established, "And the fear of you and the
dread of you shall be upon every beast," etc., returns, after the
removal of the disturbance which has been produced by sin. Upon the
words, "I break," etc., _Manger_ makes the very pertinent remark: "It
is an emphatic and expressive brevity, according to which breaking out
of the land all instruments of war, and war itself, means that He will
break them and remove them out of the land." It is self-evident that
"war" can here, as little as anywhere else, mean "weapons of war." The
prophet, as it appears, had in view the passage Lev. xxvi. 3 ff.: "If
ye will walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments and do them, I
will give you your rains in due season, and the land shall yield her
increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.... And I
give peace in the land, and you dwell, and there is none who makes you
afraid; and I destroy the wild beasts out of the land, and the sword
shall not enter into your land." It is so much the more obvious that we
ought to assume a reference to this passage, as Ezekiel also, in xxxiv.
25 ff., copies it almost _verbatim_. On account of the fatal _If_, that
promise had hitherto been only very imperfectly fulfilled; and
frequently just the opposite of it had happened. But now that the
condition is fulfilled, the promise also shall be fully realized. But
we must observe, with reference to it, that, when we look to the
present course of the world, this hope remains always more or less
ideal, because in reference to the condition also, the idea is not yet
reached by the reality. The idea is this:--As evil is, as a [Pg
269]punishment, the inseparable concomitant of sin, so prosperity and
salvation are the inseparable companions of righteousness. This is
realized even in the present course of the world, in so far as
everything must serve to promote the prosperity of the righteous. But
the full realization belongs to the παλινγενεσία, where, along with
sin, evil too (which is _here_ still necessary even for the righteous,
in order to purify them) shall be extirpated. Parallel are Is. ii. 4,
xi.-xxxv. 9; Zech. ix. 10.

Ver. 21. "_And I betroth thee to Me for eternity; and I betroth thee to
Me in righteousness and judgment, and in loving-kindness and mercy._"

Ver. 22. "_And I betroth thee to Me in faithfulness, and thou knowest
the Lord._"

The word ארש, "to espouse" (compare Deut. xx. 7, where it is contrasted
with לקח), has reference to the entrance into a marriage entirely new,
with the wife of youth, and is, for this reason, chosen on purpose.
"Just as if (so _Calvin_ remarks) the people had never violated
conjugal fidelity, God promises that they should be His spouse, in the
same manner as one marries a _virgo intacta_." It was indeed a great
mercy if the unfaithful wife was only received _again_. Justly might
she have been rejected for ever; for the only valid reason for a
divorce existed, inasmuch as she had lived in adultery for years. But
God's mercy goes still further. The old offences are not only
_forgiven_, but _forgotten_. A relation entirely new begins, into which
there enter, on the one side, no suspicion and no bitterness, and on
the other, no painful recollections, such as may pass into similar
human relationships, where the consequences of sin never disappear
altogether, and where a painful remembrance always remains. The same
dealing of God is still repeated daily; every believer may still say
with exultation: "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are
become new." It is the greatness of this promise which occasions the
direct address, whilst hitherto the Lord had spoken of the wife in the
third person. She shall hear face to face, the great word out of His
mouth, in order that she may be assured that it is she whom it
concerns; and in order to express its greatness, its joyfulness, and
the difficulty of believing it, it is repeated three times. _Calvin_
says: "Because it was difficult to deliver the people from fear and
despair, and because they could not but be [Pg 270]aware how grievously
they had sinned, and in how many ways they had alienated themselves
from God, it was necessary to employ many consolations, that thus their
faith might be confirmed. One likes to hear the repetition of the
intelligence of a great and unexpected good fortune which one has some
difficulty in realizing. And what could a man, despairing on account of
his sins, less readily realize than the greatest of all miracles--viz.,
that all his sins should be done away with, at once and for ever? But
the repetition is, in this case, so much the more full of consolation,
that, each time, it is accompanied with the promise of some new
blessing; that, each time, it opens up some new prospect of new
blessings from this new connection. First, there is the eternal
duration,--then, as a pledge of this, the attributes which God would
display in bestowing it,--and, finally, there are the blessings which
He would impart to His betrothed." The לעולם points back to the painful
dissolution of the former marriage-covenant: This new one shall not be
liable to such a dissolution; for "the mountains shall depart, and the
hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither
shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord:" Is. liv.
10. The attributes which God will display towards the wife, and the
conduct which she shall observe towards Him through His mercy, are
connected with ארשתיך לי, "I betroth thee to Me," by means of ב,
which is often used to mark the circumstances on which some action
rests. Thus, in the case before us, the betrothment rests upon
what God vouchsafes along with it, inasmuch as thereby only does it
become a true betrothment. That the accompanying gifts must be thus
distributed--as we have done--first, the faithful discharge of all the
duties of a husband on His part, and then, the inward communication of
strength to her for the fulfilment of her obligations; and that we are
neither at liberty to refer, as do some interpreters, everything
to one of the two parties, nor to assume, as others do, that everything
refers to both at the same time--is proved not only by the intervening
repetition of "I betroth thee to Me," but also by the internal
nature of the gift's mentioned. רחמים, "mercy," cannot be spoken
of in the relation of the wife to God, nor knowledge of God, in the
relation of God to the wife. The four manifestations of God which are
mentioned here form [Pg 271] a double pair,--righteousness and
judgment, loving-kindness and mercy. The two are frequently connected
in a similar way; _e.g._, Is. i. 27: "Zion shall be redeemed in
judgment, and her inhabitants in righteousness." They are distinguished
thus:--the former, צדק, designates the _being just_, as a subjective
attribute, with the dispositions and actions flowing from it; the
latter, משפט, denotes the _objective right_.[1] A man can give to
another his right or judgment, and yet not be righteous; but God's
righteousness, and His doing right in reference to the Congregation,
consists in this:--that He faithfully performs the obligations which
He took upon Himself when He entered into covenant with her. This,
however, is not sufficient. The obligations entered into are
reciprocal. If, then, the covenant be violated on the part of the
Congregation, what hope is left for her? In order the more to relieve
and comfort the wife, who, from former experience, knew full well what
she might expect from righteousness and judgment alone, the Lord adds a
second pair,--loving-kindness and mercy, the former being the root of
the latter, and the latter being the form in which the former manifests
itself, in the relation of an omnipotent and holy God to weak and
sinful man. חסד, properly "love," man may also entertain towards
God; although even this word is very rarely used in reference to man,
because God's love infinitely exceeds human love; but God only can have
רחמים, "mercy," upon man. But still a distressing thought might, and
must be entertained by the wife. God's mercy and love have their
limits; they extend only to the one case which dissolves even human
marriage--the type of the heavenly marriage, the great mystery which
the Apostle refers to Christ and the Church. What, then, if this case
should again occur? Her heart, it is true, is now filled with pure
love; but who knows whether this love shall not cool,--whether she
shall not again yield to temptation? A new consolation is applied to
the new distress. God Himself will bestow what it is not in the power
of man to bestow--viz., faithfulness towards Him (compare אמונה
used of human faithfulness, in Hab. ii. 4; Jer. v. 3, vii. 28;
the faithfulness in this verse forms the contrast to the whoredom in i.
2), [Pg 272]and the knowledge of Him. "Thou knowest the Lord" is
tantamount to--"in My knowledge." The knowledge of God is here
substantial knowledge. Whosoever thus knows God cannot but love Him,
and be faithful to Him. All idolatry, all sin, has its foundation in a
want of the knowledge of God.

Ver. 23. "_And it comes to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the
Lord; I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;_ Ver. 24.
_And the earth shall hear the corn, and the must, and the oil; and they
shall hear Jezreel_" (_i.e._, him whom God sows).

The promise in this passage forms the contrast to the threatening in
Deut. xxviii. 23, 24: "And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be
brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord will
give for the rain of thy land, dust, and dust shall come down from
heaven upon thee." The second אענה is, by most interpreters, considered
as a resumption of the first. But we obtain a far more expressive
sense, if we isolate the first אענה, "I shall hear," namely, all
prayers which will be offered up unto Me by you, and for you. Parallel,
among other passages, is Is. lviii. 9, where the reformed people are
promised: "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt
cry, and He shall say. Here I am." By a bold _prosopopœia_, the prophet
makes heaven to pray that it might be permitted to give to the earth
that which is necessary for its fruitfulness, etc. Hitherto they have
been hindered from fulfilling their _destination_, since God was
obliged to withdraw His gifts from the unworthy people, ii. 11; but
now, since this obstacle has been removed, they pray for permission to
resume their vocation. The prophets in this manner give, as it were, a
visible representation of the idea, that there is in the whole world no
good independent of God,--nothing which, in accordance with its
destination, is not ours, and would indeed be ours, if we stood in the
right relation to Him,--nothing that is not His, and that will not be
taken away from us, if we desire the gift without the Giver. _Calvin_
remarks: "The prophet shows where and when the happiness of men begins,
viz., when God adopts them, when He betrothes Himself to them, after
having put away their sins.... He teaches, also, in these words, that
the heavens do not become dry by some secret instinct; but it is when
God withholds His grace, that there is no rain by which the heavens
water the earth." God, then, here shows [Pg 273]plainly that the whole
_order of nature_ (as men are wont to say) is so entirely in His
hand, that not one drop of rain shall fall from heaven unless by His
will,--that the whole earth would produce no grass,--that, in short,
all nature would be sterile, unless He made it fruitful by His

Ver. 25. "_And I sow her unto Me in the land, and I have mercy upon her
'who had not obtained mercy'_ (Lo-Ruhamah); _and I say to 'not My
people'_ (Lo-Ammi), _Thou art My people, and they say to Me, My God._"

The three symbolical names of the children of the prophet here once
more return. The _femin. suffix_ in זרעתיה, referring to יזרעאל, need
not at all surprise us; for, in the whole passage before us, the sign
disappears in the thing signified. In point of fact, however, _Jezreel_
is equivalent to Israel to be sowed anew. (It is not the Israel to be
_planted_ anew, which is a figure altogether different; the sowing has
always a reference to the increase.)

Footnote 1: In our authorized version משפט is almost constantly
rendered by "_judgment_," although evidently in the sense pointed out
by the author,--for which reason, this rendering has been retained

                              CHAPTER III.

"The significant couple returns for a new reference" (_Rückert_).
First, in vers. 1-3, the symbolical action is reported. At the command
of the Lord, the prophet takes a wife, who, notwithstanding his
affectionate and faithful love, lives in continued adultery. He does
not entirely reject her; but, in order that she may come to recovery
and repentance, he puts her into a position where she must abstain
from her lovers. The interpretation of the symbol is given in ver.
4: Israel, forsaken by the world, shall spend a long time in sad
seclusion. A glance into the more distant future, without any
symbolical imagery, forms the conclusion. The punishment will at length
produce conversion. Israel returns to the Lord his God, and to David
his king.

                                * * * * *

Ver. 1. "_Then said the Lord unto me, Go again, love a_ [Pg 274]_woman
beloved of her friend, and an adulteress, as the Lord loveth the sons
of Israel, and they turn to other gods and love grape-cakes._"

The right point of view for the interpretation of this verse has been
already, in many important respects, established; compare p. 183 sqq.
We here take for granted the results there obtained. It is of great
importance, for an insight into the whole passage, to remark, that the
symbolical action in this section, just as in that to which chap. i.
belongs, embraces the entire relation of the Lord to the people of
Israel, and not, as some interpreters assume, one portion only, viz.,
the time from the beginning of the captivity. This false view--of which
the futility was first completely exposed by _Manger_--has arisen from
the circumstance, that the prophet, in narrating the execution of the
divine commission, omits very important events. In the expectation that
every one would supply them, partly from the commission itself, and
partly from the preceding portions, where they had been treated of with
peculiar copiousness, he rather at once passes from the first
conclusion of the marriage, to that point which, in this passage, forms
his main subject, namely, the disciplinary punishment to which he
subjects his wife,--the Lord, Israel. The prophet's aim and purpose is
to afford to the people a right view of the captivity so near at hand;
to lead them to consider it neither as a merely accidental event,
having, no connection at all with their sins; nor as a pure effect of
divine anger, aiming at their entire destruction; but rather as being
at the same time a work of punitive justice, and of corrective love.
Between the second verse, "I purchased her to me," etc., and the third,
"Then I said unto her," etc., we must supply. And I took her in
marriage and loved her; but she committed adultery. That this is the
sound view, appears clearly from ver. 2. According to the right
exposition (compare p. 195 sqq.), this verse can be referred only to
the first beginning of the relation betwixt the Lord and the people of
Israel--to that only by which He acquired the right of property in this
people, on delivering them from Egypt. This is confirmed, moreover, by
the second half of the verse under consideration: "As the Lord loveth,"
etc. Here the love of the Lord to Israel in its widest extent is spoken
of. Every limitation of it to a single manifestation--be it a [Pg
275]renewal of love after the apostasy, or the corrective discipline
inflicted from love--is quite arbitrary; and the more so, because, by
the addition, "And they turned," etc., the love of God is represented
as running parallel with the apostasy of the people. The same result is
obtained from a consideration of the first half. For what entitles us
to explain "love" by "love again," or even by "_restitue amoris signa_"
as is done by those who hold the opinion, already refuted, that the
woman is _Gomer_? The word "love" corresponds exactly with "as the Lord
loveth." If the latter must be understood of the love of the Lord in
its whole extent,--if it does not designate merely the manifestation of
love, but love itself,--how can a more limited view be taken of the
former "love?" How could we explain, as is done by those who defend the
reference to a new marriage, the words, "Beloved of her friend, and an
adulteress," as referring to a former marriage of the wife, and as
tantamount to--who was beloved by her former husband, and yet committed
adultery? In that case, there would be the greatest dissimilarity
betwixt the type and the antitype. Who, in that case, is to be the type
of the Lord? Is it to be the former husband, or the prophet? If the
figure is at all to correspond with the reality,--the first member with
the second, the רֵעַ can be none other than the prophet himself.--Let us
now proceed to particulars, אהב, "love," is stronger than קח, "take,"
in chap. i. 2. There, marriage only was spoken of; here, marriage from
love and in love. This is still more emphatically pointed out by the
subsequent words אהבת רע, and contrasted with the conduct of the
wife, which is indicated by מנאפת, so that the sense is this: "In
love take a wife who, although she is beloved by thee, her friend,
commits adultery, and with whom--I tell it to thee beforehand--thou
wilt live in a constant antagonism of love, and of ingratitude, the
grossest violation of love." The word "_love_" has a reference to the
love preceding and effecting the marriage; the word "_beloved_,"
to the love uninterruptedly continuing during the marriage, and
notwithstanding the continued adultery, unless we should say--and it is
quite admissible--that "love" implies, at the same time, "to take out
of love," and "to love constantly." Instead of "beloved by _thee_" it
is said, "beloved by her _friend_." Many have been thereby misled; but
it only serves to make the contrast more [Pg 276]prominent.[1] רֵעַ has
only one signification--that of _friend_. It never, by itself, means
"fellow-man," never "fellow-Jew," never "one with whom we have
intercourse." The Pharisees were quite correct in understanding it as
the opposite of enemy. In their gloss, Matt. v. 43, καὶ μισήσεις τὸν
ἐχθρόν σου, there was one thing only objectionable--the most important,
it is true--that by the friend, they understood only him whom their
heart, void of love, loved indeed; not him whom they ought to have
loved, because God had united him to them by the sacred ties of
friendship and love. Thus, what ought to have awakened them to love,
just served them as a palliation for their hatred. Now this
signification, which alone is the settled one, is here also very
suitable. He whom the wife criminally forsakes, is not a severe
husband, but her loving friend, whom she herself formerly acknowledged
as such, and who always remains the same. Entirely parallel is Jer.
iii. 20: "As a wife is faithless towards her _friend_, so have ye been
faithless to Me;" compare ver. 4: "Hast thou not formerly called me. My
father, _friend_ of my youth art thou?" Compare also Song of Sol. v.
16. The correct meaning was long ago seen by _Calvin_: "There is," says
he, "an expressiveness in this word. For often, when women prostitute
themselves, they complain that they have done it on account of the too
great severity of their husbands, and that they are not treated by
their husbands with sufficient kindness. But if a husband delight in
having his wife with him, if he treat her kindly and perform the duties
of a husband, she is then less excusable. Hence, it is this most
heinous ingratitude of the people that is here expressed, and set in
opposition to the infinite mercy and kindness of the Lord." For a still
better insight into the meaning of the first half of this verse, we
subjoin the _paraphrasis_ by _Manger_: "Seek thee a wife in whom thou
art to have thy delight, and whom thou art to treat with such love,
that, even if she, by her unfaithfulness, violate the sacred rights of
matrimony, and thou, for that reason, canst no longer live with her,
[Pg 277]she shall still remain dear to thee, and shall be willingly
received again into thy favour, as soon as she shall have reformed her
life."--In the second half of the verse, there is a verbal agreement
with passages of the Pentateuch, so close that it cannot certainly be
accidental. Compare on כאהבת יהוה את־בני ישראל, Deut. vii. 8, מאהבת
יהוה אתכם,--an agreement which undoubtedly deserves so much more
attention, that we have already established the relationship of the
passage with ver. 2. On פנים אל אלהים אחרים, compare Deut. xxxi. 18: "I
will hide My face in that day for all the evil they are doing, for they
turn to other gods," אשישי ענבים--.פנה אל אלהים אחרים, "grape-cakes,"
has, as to its substance, been already explained, p. 194 sqq. It is the
result of an entire misunderstanding, that some interpreters should
here think of the love of feasting and banqueting. Others (as
_Gesenius_) are anxious to prove that such cakes were used at the
sacrifices which were offered to idols. The grape-cakes are rather
idolatry itself; but the expression, "They love grape-cakes," adds an
essential feature to the words, "They turn to other gods." It points,
namely, to the sinful origin of idolatry. Earnest and strict religion
is substantial and wholesome food; but idolatry is soft food, which is
sought only by the dainty and squeamish. That which is true of
idolatry, is true also of the service of sin, and of the world in
general, which, in Job xx. 12, appears under the image of meat which
is, in the mouth, as sweet as honey from the comb, but which is, in the
belly, changed into the gall of asps. In the symbolism of the law,
honey signified the _lust_ of the world; compare my work _Die Opfer
der Heil. Schrift_, S. 44. It is only the derivation of אשישיט, the
signification of which is sufficiently established by parallel
passages, which requires investigation. We have no hesitation in
deriving it from אֵשׁ, "fire;" hence it means properly, "that which has
been subjected to fire (compare אִשֶּׁה) = that which has been baked,"
"cakes." The derivation from אשש, "to found," has of late become
current; but the objections to it are:--partly, that the transition
from "founding," to "cake," is by no means an easy one; partly and
mainly, that there is not the slightest trace of this root elsewhere in
Hebrew. It is asserted, indeed, that אשישים itself is found in Is. xvi.
7, with a signification which renders necessary the derivation from the
verb אשש. But, even in that passage, the signification of [Pg 278]
"cakes" must be retained. The following reasons are in favour of it,
and against the signification "ruins," adopted by _Gesenius_, _Winer_,
and _Hitzig_. 1. The signification "cakes" deserves, _ceteris paribus_,
a decided preference, because it is established by the other passages.
It is only for reasons the most cogent that we can grant that one and
the same word has two meanings, and these not at all connected with
each other. 2. The transition from the meaning "foundation," which
alone can be derived from the verb אשש, to that of "_ruins_," is by no
means so easy as those critics would represent it. With respect to a
rebuilding, for which the ruins' afford the foundation, they might, it
is true, be called foundations, compare Is. lviii. 12, but not where
destruction only is concerned. Who would speak of howling over
foundations, instead of howling over ruins? 3. The context is quite
decisive. If we translate אשישים by "ruins," the subsequent כי is quite
inexplicable. This little word, upon which so much depends, performs
also the office of a guide: "For this reason Moab howls, for Moab
altogether does he howl, for the cakes of Kirhareseth you do sigh,
wholly afflicted; _for_ the vineyards of Heshbon are withered, the vine
of Sibmah, the grapes of which intoxicated the lord of the nations,"
etc. Then, ver. 9, "Therefore I weep with Jaeser for the vine of
Sibmah." If there be no more grapes, neither are there any more
grape-cakes. The destruction of the vineyards is therefore the cause of
the howling for the cakes. That such cakes, moreover, were prepared in
many places in Moab, sufficiently appears from the name of the place
Dibhlathaim, _i.e._, town of cakes. It may be remarked further, that we
are not entitled to assume a sing. אשיש as given by lexicographers
along with דבלה ;אשישה likewise forms the plural דבלים.

Ver. 2. "_And I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and a
homer of barley, and a lethech of barley._" Compare the explanation of
this verse, p. 195 sqq.

Ver. 3. "_And I said unto her. Thou art to sit for me many days: thou
art not to whore, and thou art not to belong to a man; and so I also to

The sitting has the accessory idea of being forsaken and solitary,
which may be explained from the circumstance, that he who is not
invited to go with us is left to sit. Thus, _e.g._, Gen. xxxviii. 11:
"Sit as a widow in thy fathers house, until Shelah [Pg 279]my son be
grown;" Is. xlvii. 8, where Babylon says, "I shall not _sit_ as a
widow," etc. The Fut. in this and the following verses must not be
taken in an imperative sense, as meaning, thou shalt sit for me, thou
shalt not whore; the explanation given in ver. 4, and in the parallel
passage in chap. ii. 8, 9, are alike opposed to it. The husband will
not subject his wife to a moral probation, but he will lock her up, so
that she must _ sit_ solitary, and _cannot_ whore. With reference to
this. _Manger_ strikingly remarks: "There is, in that very severity,
the beginning of leniency; 'sit for me,' _i.e._, I who have been so
unworthily treated by thee, and who yet am thy most affectionate
husband, and who, though now at a distance from thee, will not
altogether forget thee." The לי indicates that the sitting of the wife
must have reference to the prophet. Quite similar is Exod. xxiv. 14:
"And he said unto the elders, שבו לנו, Sit ye here for us until we
return to you." The phrase itself, which must not be explained by "to
sit in expectation of some one," does not indicate in what way the
sitting has reference to him. The issue of the whole proceeding,
described in ver. 5, clearly shows, however, that it is not inflicted
by him as a merited punishment, as an effect of his just indignation,
but rather that we must think chiefly of his compassionate love, which
makes use of these means in order to render the reunion possible.--The
distinction between "to whore," and "to belong to a man," is obvious:
the former denotes _vagos et promiscuus amores_; the other, connubial
connection with a single individual; compare, _e.g._, Ezek. xvi. 8;
Lev. xxi. 3. But the question is,--Who is to be understood by the
"_man?_" Several refer it to the prophet exclusively. Thus _Jerome_
says, "Thou shalt not shamefully prostitute thyself with other lovers,
nor be legally connected with me, the man to whom thou art married."
Others admit, at least, a co-reference to the prophet = the Lord. By
the words, "Thou art not to whore," they say that the intercourse with
the lovers is excluded; but, by, "Thou art not to belong to a man," the
intercourse with the husband also; so that the sense would be, "Thou
shalt not have connubial intercourse either with me, or with any other
man." But the correct view is to refer both to the intercourse with the
lovers; and so, indeed, that the former designates the giving of
herself up, now to one, then to another; while the latter points to her
entering [Pg 280]into a firm relation to a single individual; just as,
in point of fact, the relation of Israel to the idols hitherto was a
whoring. According as it suited their inclination, they made, now this,
and then that, god of the neighbouring nations an object of their
worship; whilst a marriage connection would have been formed, if they
had entered with any one of them into a permanent and exclusive
connection, similar to that which had heretofore existed between them
and the Lord. This explanation is required by the words, "And so I also
to thee," at the close of the verse. If the words, "Thou shalt not
belong to any man," referred to the prophet, then "thou shalt not have
any intercourse with me" would imply, "I shall not have any intercourse
with thee;" and did not require any new mention to be made.--The
questions, however, now arise:--By what means was the state of things
corresponding to the figure to be brought about? By what is adulterous
Israel to be prevented from whoring, and from belonging to any man? By
what means is idolatry to be extirpated from among the people? The
answer has been already given in our remarks on chap. ii. 8, 9. The
idols manifest themselves to Israel in their supposed gifts. If these
were taken from them,--if they were entirely stripped, and plunged into
want and misery, they could not fail to recognise the vanity of all
their previous efforts, along with the vanity of the object of their
worship, while their love to him could not but vanish. The absolute
inability of the idols to afford consolation and help to the people in
their sufferings must have put an end to their showing them
allegiance.--The last words, "And I also to thee," are explained by the
greater number of interpreters to mean, "I also will be thine."
_Manger_ explains them thus: "I will not altogether break the tie of
our love, nor marry another wife; but I will remain thine, will at last
receive thee again into my favour, and restore thee to the position of
my wife." _De Wette_ interprets them thus: "But then I will come to
thee;" _Umbreit_: "And I also only to thee;" _Ewald_: "And yet I am
full of love towards thee." But the words, "And I also to thee," are
rather tantamount to--"I will conduct myself in a similar manner
towards thee." Now two things may constitute this equality of conduct.
_Either_ it is conceived thus:--that the prophet is placed in
parallelism with the wife. The latter has lost all claims upon the
prophet; she has violated connubial [Pg 281]fidelity, and, hence, has
no title to demand that he should observe it. But that which she cannot
demand from him, he does, from the necessity of his nature. He promises
to her that, during the proceeding which has commenced against her, he
would not enter into any new connection; and by holding out to her the
hope of her returning, at some future period, to her old relation to
him, he makes it more easy for her to break off the sinful connections
which have destroyed it. Without a figure: The Lord, from His
forbearance and mercy, waits for the reformation of those who hitherto
were His people; does not drive them to despair by receiving another
people in their place. _Or_, The prophet is placed in parallelism with
the other man. As the wife does not enter into any relation with that
man, so the prophet also abstains from any nearer intercourse with her.
The latter explanation (adopted by _Simson_ and _Hitzig_) is to be
preferred. The exclusiveness cannot in the same sense be applicable to
the prophet, representing the Lord, as to the wife, representing the
people. So early as in Deut. xxxii. 21, we read: "They have moved Me to
jealousy with that which is not God, they have provoked Me to anger
with their vanities; and I will move them to jealousy with those which
are not a people, I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,"
After all that had, in the Song of Solomon, been predicted regarding
the reception of the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God and
Christ, and about the receiving again into it of Israel, to be effected
by their instrumentality (compare my _Comment. on Song of Sol._, S.
239), the thought suggested by the former view would be quite
incomprehensible. Quite decisive, however, is ver. 4, in which the
thought, which is here in a symbolical garb, is expressed in plain
language. There, however, not only the intercourse with the idols, but
the connection with Jehovah also, appears to be intermitted. The reason
why the prophet does not enter into a closer connection with the wife
is, that her repentance is more of a negative, than of a positive
character. By want and isolation, her hard heart is to be broken, true
repentance to be called forth, and the flame of cordial conversion and
love to her husband, whose faithful love she had so ill requited, to be
enkindled in her. In favour of the explanation given by us, and in
opposition to that first mentioned, the גם is decisive. Against this,
that other explanation, [Pg 282]in its various modifications, tries its
strength in vain. "I also will be thine, or will adhere to thee," would
require in the preceding context, "Thou shalt be mine, or adhere to
me;" but of this, there is no trace. It is only in ver. 5 that, with
an _after_, the conversion is reported. In favour of that false
interpretation it is said, and with some plausibility, that the
explanation would otherwise be more extended than the symbol: The
latter would contain the outward dealing only; while the former, in
ver. 5, would contain at the same time its salutary effect. But, even
according to this explanation, the words would not correspond with ver.
5. _Here_, the showing of mercy would be announced without the mention,
even by a word, of the sincere return to the husband--and this,
altogether apart from the גם, would be quite unsuitable, and would,
moreover, be opposed by the analogy of chap. ii. 9--while, in ver. 5,
not the showing of mercy, but only the reformation, would form the
subject. In that case, it ought not to have been said, "They shall
return to the Lord," but rather, "The Lord shall return to them." But
this plausible reason falls to the ground, along with the unfounded
supposition that the two last verses contain the explanation. The
correct view is, that the explanation is limited to ver. 4. Ver. 5 must
be considered as an appendix, in which, without any figurative
covering, the effect is described which will be produced upon the
nation by these outward dealings. The symbol and its explanation extend
only as far as the main object of the prophet in the section under
review,--that object being to present the impending captivity in its
true light, and thereby to secure against levity and despair when it
should appear.

Ver. 4. "_For many days the children of Israel shall sit without a
king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without a
pillar, and without an Ephod and Teraphim._"

כי is used because the reason of the performance of the symbolical
action lies in its signification. Concerning ישב, see the remarks on
ver. 3; compare, moreover. Lament, i. 1: "How does the city sit
solitary that was full of people! she has become as a widow."--The
question is, whether, by the religious objects here mentioned, such
only are to be understood as belonged to the worship of the idols, or
such also as belonged to the worship of Jehovah. The following
furnishes the reply. The מצבה only [Pg 283]can be considered as
belonging exclusively to the idolatrous worship. Such pillars always
occur only as being consecrated to the idols--especially to Baal. It
cannot be proved in any way that, contrary to the express command in
Lev. xxvi. 1, Deut. xvi. 22, they were, in the kingdom of Israel,
consecrated to the Lord also; compare 2 Kings iii. 2, xvii. 10, x.
26-28. On the other hand, among the objects mentioned, there is also
one, the אפוד, the mantle for the shoulders of the high priest, on
which the Urim and Thummim were placed, which must be considered as
belonging exclusively to the worship of Jehovah; at least there is not
the smallest trace to be found that it was part of any idolatrous
worship. It is true that _Gesenius_, in the _Thesaurus_, p. 135, gives
_s. v._ אפוד, under 2, the signification _statua_, _simulacrum idoli_,
and, besides the passages under consideration, refers to Jud. viii. 27,
xvii. 5, xviii. 14, 17. But one requires only to examine these passages
a little more minutely, to be convinced that the metamorphosis of
Jehovah into an idol is as little justified as the changing of the
mantle into a statue. From the personal character of Gideon, who was so
zealous for the Lord against the idols, we cannot at all think of
idolatry in Jud. viii. 27. In the _Dissertations on the Genuineness of
the Pentateuch_, vol. ii. p. 80, it has been proved that the Ephod of
Gideon was a precious imitation of that of the high priest. In chap.
xvii. 5, we need only to consider these words: "And the man Micah had
an house of God, and made an Ephod and Teraphim, and consecrated one of
his sons, and he became a priest to him." Afterwards, Micah took a
_Levite_ for a priest. But for what reason should he have been better
suited for that purpose than any other man? The answer is given in ver.
13: "Then said Micah, Now I know that Jehovah will do me good, for the
Levite has become a priest to me." The ignorant man knows after all
thus much, that the Levites alone are the only legitimate servants of
Jehovah, and he rejoices, therefore, that he had now remedied the
former irregularity. Jud. xviii. 14 does not require any particular
illustration, for it is the same Ephod which is spoken of in that
passage; but we must still direct attention to vers. 5 and 6 of that
chapter. "Then they (the Danites) said unto him (the Levite), Ask God,
we pray thee, in order that we may know whether our way in which we go
shall be prosperous. And the priest said unto them, Go in [Pg
284]peace, before _Jehovah_ is the way wherein ye go." Here, then, we
have a revelation given to the priest, as is alleged, by means of Ephod
and Teraphim; and this revelation is not ascribed to the idols, but to
Jehovah, whom alone the Levite wished to serve. From this it appeal's
that the graven image and the molten image--which, besides Ephod and
Teraphim, according to ver. 14, exist in the house of Micah--must be
considered as representations of Jehovah, similar to the calves in the
kingdom of the ten tribes. In vol. ii. pp. 78, 79, of my _Dissertations
on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch_, it has been demonstrated that
the Ephod of Micah was, along with the Teraphim, an apeing of the
high-priestly Ephod with the Urim and Thummim. The four objects
mentioned in Judges xvii. and xviii. are such as were separable
although connected, and connected although separable. The _molten work_
is the pedestal under the image; the image is clothed with the Ephod,
and in the Ephod were the Teraphim, from whom information and good
counsel for the future were expected. For, that this is the object of
the whole contrivance, is plain from chap. xviii. 5, 6, where the
priest asks counsel of God for the Danites.--With regard to the other
two objects mentioned in the verse before us, viz., the sacrifice and
Teraphim, a reference, at least exclusive, to idolatrous worship,
cannot be by any means maintained. As sacrifices are mentioned in the
widest generality, without any limitation in the preceding context,
there is certainly nothing which could in the least entitle us to
exclude the sacrifices which were offered to Jehovah. The Teraphim are
intermediate deities, by means of which the future is to be disclosed
(compare the remarks on Zech. x. 2); they might be brought into
connection with every religious system, but are found only once in
connection with any other religion than that of Jehovah,--and this in a
case where a non-Israelite is spoken of. It is true, however, that, in
substance, the Teraphim belong to the side of idolatry; for, wherever
they occur within the religion of Jehovah, they belong to a degenerate
condition of it only, which is on a par with idolatry. It would appear
that they are here contrasted with the Ephod, as the illegal means for
ascertaining the future, in opposition to the legal means. That the
Ephod was used for discovering the divine will, is seen from 1 Sam.
xxiii. 9, xxx. 7. The Teraphim, in like manner, served to explore [Pg
285]the future. A closer connection of the two seems to be indicated by
the circumstance that אין is omitted before תרפים.--But how can we
account for this strange intermingling of what belonged to the idols
with what belonged to Jehovah, since it cannot but be done
intentionally? It points to the dark mixture which at that time existed
among the people, and is a kind of ironical reflection upon it.--The
Lord makes them disgusted with idolatry, and all that belongs to it,
through His visitations, in which they seek in vain the help of the
idols, and become thoroughly acquainted with their vanity; compare
remarks in ver. 3. At the same time, however, all the pledges of His
grace are taken from them, so that they get into an altogether isolated
position. He withdraws from them their independent government, the
altar and priesthood--the former as a just punishment for their
rebellion against the dynasty ordained by God (compare chap. viii. 4),
of which, first Israel, and then Judah, had made themselves guilty.--As
regards the historical reference of this prophecy, interpreters are
divided, and refer it either to the Assyrian, the Babylonish, or the
Romish exile. The greater number of them, however, refer it exclusively
to the last. This is especially the case with the Jewish interpreters;
_e.g._, _Kimchi_, who says: "These are the days of the exile, in which
we are now; we have neither an Israelitish king nor an Israelitish
prince, but are under the dominion of the Gentiles and their kings."
The principal defenders of a direct reference to the Assyrian
captivity, are _Venema_ (_Dissert._ p. 232) and _Manger_. The decision
depends chiefly upon what we are to understand by "the children of
Israel." If these are the whole people, it is arbitrary to assign any
narrower limits to the _Word_ of God, than to His _deed_. The prophecy
must, in that case, comprehend everything in which the idea is
realized; and this so much the more, as the spiritual eye of the
prophet, directed to the idea only, does not generally regard the
intervals which, in the fulfilment, lie between the various
realizations of the _idea_. But now, ver. 5 would seem to lead us to
entertain the opinion, that, in the first instance, the prophet has in
view the children of Israel in the more limited sense only. The words,
"They shall return and seek David their king," imply a reference to the
then existing apostasy of the ten tribes from the dynasty of David. But
the future apostasy of the sons of Judah also from [Pg 286]David their
king may be as well _presupposed_ here, as, in chapter ii. 2, their
being carried away; and this so much the rather, as in chap. ii. 2, the
words, "They appoint themselves a king," suggest that the sons of Judah
also, no less than the sons of Israel, are without a head, and hence
have apostatized from David the king. And it is so much the more
natural to adopt such a supposition, as the Song of Solomon had already
described so minutely the rebellion of the whole people against the
glorious descendant of David--the heavenly Solomon--to which the
apostasy of the ten tribes from the house of David was only a prelude.
Considering the whole relation in which Hosea stands to the Song of
Solomon, we could scarcely imagine that, in this respect, he should not
have alluded to, and resumed its contents. _In the whole third chapter
there is nothing which refers exclusively to the ten tribes._ Chap.
iii. 2 has reference to all Israel. Throughout the whole Book of Hosea
also, as well as by the second Israelitish prophet Amos (compare the
remarks on Amos, chap ix.), Judah and Israel are viewed together, both
as regards apostasy and punishment (v. 5, 12, viii. 14, x. 11, etc.),
and as regards salvation, vi. 1-4, etc. Of special importance is the
comparison of the remarkable prophecy of Azariah in 2 Chron. xv. 2-4,
which was uttered at the time of Asa, king of Judah, and which so
nearly coincides with the one before us, that the idea suggests itself
of an allusion to it by Hosea: "Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and
Benjamin: The Lord will be with you, if you are with Him; and if ye
seek Him, He will be found of you; and if ye forsake Him, He will
forsake you. And many days will be to Israel when there is no true
God,[2] and no teaching priest,[3] and no law. Then they return in
their trouble unto Jehovah the God of Israel, and they seek Him, and He
is found of them." If the fundamental prophecy refer to all Israel, the
same must be the case with the prophecy under consideration. The
condition in which the Jews are, up to the present day, is described in
both of these prophecies with remarkable clearness; and hence we may
most confidently entertain [Pg 287]the hope, that there shall be a
fulfilment also of that which, in them as well as in the Song of
Solomon, has been foretold regarding the glorious issue of these
dealings of God.

Ver. 5. "_Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek the
Lord their God, and David their king, and shall tremble to the Lord and
to His goodness in the end of the days._"

יָשֻׁבוּ must not by any means be regarded as modifying בקשו, so that both
the verbs would constitute only one verbal idea. This must be objected
to, not only from the arguments already stated in the remarks on chap.
ii. 11, but, most decidedly, on account of the parallel passage, chap.
ii. 9, "I will go and return to my first husband." Compare chap. vi. 1:
"Come and let us return unto the Lord;" v. 15, where the Lord says, "I
will go and return to My place until they become guilty and seek My
face; in their affliction they will seek Me;" Jer. l. 4: "In those
days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall
_come_, they and the children of Judah together, weeping will they
come, and seek the Lord their God,"--a passage which, like Jer. xxx. 9,
points to the one before us in a manner not to be mistaken; Is. x. 21:
"The remnant shall _return_, the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty
God." The text, and the parallel passages, most clearly indicate what
is to be considered as the object of their return, namely, the Lord
their God, and David their king, from whom they had so shamefully
apostatized; so that those interpreters who here think of a return to
Canaan do not deserve a refutation. The words, "Jehovah their God," at
the same time lay open the delusion of the Israelites (who imagined
that they could still possess the true God, in the idol which they
called Jehovah), and rebuke their ingratitude. _Calvin_ says, "God had
offered Himself to them, yea. He had had familiar intercourse with
them,--He had, as it were, brought them up on His bosom just as a
father does his sons. The prophet, therefore, indirectly rebukes, in
these words, their stupendous wickedness." The God of the Israelites,
as well as the God of the Jews after they had rejected Christ, stood to
the God of Israel in the same relation as does the God of the Deists
and Rationalists to the God of the Christians. The question here
arises. Who is to be understood here by "David their king?" Some
interpreters refer it, after the example of _Theodoret_ (t. ii. p. 2,
p. 1326), to [Pg 288]Zerubbabel: but by far the greater number of them,
following the Chaldee ("And they shall obey the Messiah, the son of
David their king"), understand, thereby, the Messiah. It is true that
the latter exposition is quite correct as to its substance, but not as
to the form in which it is commonly expressed. From the words, "They
shall return and seek," it is evident that the Messiah is here not
called David as an individual, as is done in other passages, _e.g._,
Jer. xxx. 9. For the return presupposes their having been there
formerly, and their having departed; just as the seeking implies
neglecting. The expression, "their king," also requires special
attention. In contrast to the "king" in ver. 4 (compare viii. 4, "They
have made a king, and not by Me, a prince, and I knew it not"), it
shows that the subject of discourse is not by any means a new king to
be elected, but such an one as the Israelites ought to obey, even now,
as the king ordained for them by God. The sound view is this: By the
"king David" the whole Davidic house is to be understood, which is here
to be considered as an unity, in the same manner as is done in 2 Sam.
vii., and in a whole series of Psalms which celebrate the mercies
shown, and to be shown, to David and his house.[4] These mercies are
most fully concentrated in Christ, in whose appearance and everlasting
dominion the promises given to David were first to be fully realized.
The prophet mentions the whole--the Davidic family--because it was only
thus that the contrast between the apostasy and the return could be
fully brought out; but that, in so doing, he has Christ especially in
view--that he expected a return of the children of Israel to David in
Christ, is shown by the term באחרית הימים, which, in the prophets,
never occurs in any other sense than the times of the Messiah.
(Compare, regarding this expression, the remarks on Amos ix. 1.) This
reason is alone sufficient to refute the reference to Zerubbabel;
although so much must indeed be conceded, that the circumstance of part
of the citizens of the kingdom of the ten tribes adhering to him, the
descendant of the house of David, may be considered as a prelude of
that general return. The close connection betwixt the seeking of
Jehovah their God and David  their king, likewise claims our attention.
David and his family had  been elected by God to be the mediator
between Him and the [Pg 289] people--the channel through which all His
blessings flowed clown upon  the people--the visible image of the
invisible King, who, at the end of  the days, was, in Christ, most
perfectly to reflect His glory. The Israelites, in turning away from
David their king, turned away, at the same time, from Jehovah their
God,--as was but too soon manifested by the other signs of apostasy
from Him, by the introduction of the worship of calves, etc. He who
refuses to acknowledge God in that which He has Himself declared to be
His visible image (from Christ down to every relation which represents
Him in any respect, _e.g._, that of the father to the son, of the king
to the subject), will soon cease to acknowledge Himself. But as, first,
the ten tribes, and afterwards, the entire people, apostatized from
God, by apostatizing from David, so, by their apostasy from him, they
excluded themselves from all participation in the privileges of the
people of God, which could flow to them only through him. It is only
when they return to David by returning to Christ, that, from their
self-made God, they come to the true God, and within the sphere of His
blessings. That the same thing is repeated among ourselves in the case
of those who have forsaken Christ their King, and yet imagine still to
possess God, and that it is only by their returning to the brightness
of His glory that they can attain to a true union with the Lord their
God, and to a participation in the blessings which He bestows,--all
this is so obvious as to  require nothing beyond a simple suggestion. A
perfectly sound interpretation of this passage is to be found in
_Calvin_, who remarks: "David was, as it were, a messenger of the Lord,
and, hence, that defection of the ten tribes was tantamount to a
rejection of the living God. The Lord had, on a former occasion, said
to Samuel (1 Sam. viii. 7), 'They have not rejected thee, but they have
rejected Me.' But how much more was this applicable in the case of
David, whom Samuel had anointed at the command of God, and whom the
Lord had adorned with so many glorious attributes, that they could not
reject his rule without, at the same time, publicly rejecting, to a
certain extent, the Lord Himself! It is true, indeed, that David was
then dead; but Hosea here represents, in his person, his everlasting
dominion, which the Jews knew would last as long as the sun and moon."
The expression, [Pg 290] "They tremble to the Lord," graphically
describes the disposition of heart in him, who, trembling with terror
and anxiety on account of the surrounding danger and distress, flees to
Him who can alone afford help and deliverance. That we must thus
explain it,--that we cannot entertain the idea of any trembling which
proceeds from the inconceivable greatness of the blessing--a
disposition of heart so graphically described by _Claudian_ in the

           "Horret adhuc animus, manifestaque gaudia differt
            Dum stupet et tanto cunctatur credere voto,"--

and that we can as little think of a fearing or trembling which is the
consequence of the knowledge of deep sinfulness and unworthiness, is
shown by the parallel passage in chap. xi. 11: "They tremble as a bird
out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria." The bird and
the dove are here an emblem of helplessness. Substantially parallel is
also chap. v. 15: "In their affliction they will seek Me." Their
trembling is not voluntary; it is forced upon them by the Lord. But
that they tremble _to the Lord_--that, through fear, they suffer
themselves to be led to the Lord--is their free act, although possible
only by the assistance of grace. The manner in which the words, "and to
His goodness," are to be understood, is most plainly shown by the
words, "I will return to my first husband, for it was _better_ with me
then than now," chap. ii. 9. Along with the Lord, they have lost His
goodness also, and the gifts flowing from it. But distress again drives
them to seek the Lord, and His goodness, which is inseparable from
Himself. This explanation is confirmed by other parallel passages also;
_e.g._, Jer. xxxi. 12: "And they come and exult on the height of Zion,
and flow together to the goodness of the Lord (טוב יהוה), to corn, and
must, and oil, and lambs, and cattle;" ver. 14: "My people shall be
satisfied with My goodness." Compare also Ps. xxvii. 13, xxxi. 20;
Zech. ix. 17. We would therefore object to the opinion of several
interpreters, who would explain טוב יהוה as being equivalent to כבוד
יהוה, to His manifestation in the Angel of the Lord, the Λόγος, by whom
His glory and goodness are made known.

Footnote 1: It is quite impossible to refer רֵעַ to the adulterers, and
for this reason:--that it is always Israel's love to the idols that is
spoken of, but never the love of the idols to Israel. In the
explanation given in the words immediately following, it is not the
idols that take the initiative; it is Israel who turns to other gods.

Footnote 2: _J. D. Michaelis_ remarks: "In the present captivity they
do not, indeed, worship idols, but nevertheless they do not know, nor
worship, the true God, since they reject the Son, without whom the
Father will not be worshipped, John xvii. 3; 1 John ii. 23; 2 John 9."

Footnote 3: The "priest" here corresponds with the "Ephod" in Hosea.

Footnote 4: In 1 Kings xii. 16, also, David stands for the Davidic

[Pg 291]

                            THE PROPHET JOEL.

                          PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

The position which has been assigned to Joel in the collection of the
Minor Prophets, furnishes an external argument for the determination of
the time at which Joel wrote. There cannot be any doubt that the
Collectors were guided by a consideration of the chronology. The
circumstance, that they placed the prophecies of Joel just between the
two prophets who, according to the inscriptions and contents of their
prophecies, belonged to the time of Jeroboam and Uzziah, is thus
equivalent to an express testimony that he also lived, and exercised
his ministry, during that time.

By this testimony we have, in the meanwhile, obtained a firm
standing-point; and it must remain firm, as long as it is not
overthrown by other unquestionable facts, and the Collectors are not
convicted of an historical error. But, as regards the latter point,
there is the greater room for caution, because all the other statements
which they have made are, upon a careful examination, found to stand
the test; for none of the other Minor Prophets is found to occupy a
place to which he is not entitled. But no such facts are to be found;
on the contrary, everything serves to confirm their testimony.

It will not be possible to assign the prophecies of Joel to a later
period; for Amos places at the head of one of his prophecies one of the
utterances of Joel (compare Amos i. 2 with Joel iv. 16 [iii. 16]), as
the text, as it were, on which he is to comment. That we are not
thereby precluded from considering the two prophets as contemporaneous,
is shown by the altogether similar case of Isaiah, in his relation to
Micah. Isaiah, too, borrows, in chap. xiii. 6, a sentence from Joel i.
15, the peculiarity of which proves that the coincidence is not
accidental. Such verbal repetitions must not be, by any means,
considered as unintentional reminiscences. They served to exhibit that
the prophets acknowledged one another as the organs of the Holy
Spirit,--to testify the ἀκριβῆ διαδοχήν, the want of which in the times
after Ezra and Nehemiah is mentioned by Josephus as one of the reasons
why none of the writings of [Pg 292]that period could be acknowledged
as sacred. (See the Author's _Dissertations on the Genuineness of
Daniel_, p. 199.) _Further_,--The description of the threatening
judgment in chap. i. and ii. is, in Joel, kept just in that very same
generality in which we find it in the oldest prophecies that have been
preserved to us, viz., in Amos, in the first chapters of Isaiah and of
Hosea; whilst in later times, the threatening is, throughout,
particularized by the express mention of the instruments who were, in
the first instance, to serve for its fulfilment, viz., the Assyrians
and Babylonians. That which Judah had to suffer from the former was so
severe, that Joel, in chap. iv. 4 ff.--where he mentions, although, as
it were, only in the way of example, nations with which Judah had
hitherto already come into hostile contact--would scarcely have passed
them over in silence, in order to mention only the far lesser calamity
inflicted by other nations.

But just as little can we think of an earlier period. It is certainly
not accidental, that among all the prophets whose writings have been
preserved to us, no one appeared at an earlier period; any more than it
is accidental, that no prophecies are extant of the distinguished men
of God in earlier times, of whom the historical books make mention,
especially Elijah and Elisha. It was only when the great divine
judgments were being prepared, and were approaching, that it was time,
through their announcement, to waken from the slumber of security those
who had forgotten God, and to open the treasures of hope and
consolation to the faithful. Formerly, the living, oral word of the
prophets was the principal thing; but now that God opened up to them a
wider view,--that their calling had regard not only to the present, but
also to the future time, the written word was raised to an equal
dignity. Nothing, then, but the most cogent reasons could induce us to
make, in the case of Joel only, an exception to so established a rule.

But we cannot acknowledge as such, what _Credner_ (in his _Comment. on
Joel_, p. 41 sqq.) has brought forward to prove that Joel committed to
writing his prophecies as early as under the reign of Joash, _i.e._,
about 870-65 B.C., or from seventy to eighty years earlier than
any of the other prophecies which have come down to us. If we do not
allow ourselves to be carried away by the multitude of his words,
we shall find that the only remaining plausible argument is--that the
Syrians of Damascus [Pg 293]are not mentioned among the enemies of the
Covenant-people, as they are in Amos. From this, _Credner_ infers that
Joel must have prophesied before the first inroad of the Syrians on
Judea, which, according to 2 Kings xii. 18 ff.; 2 Chron. xxiv. 23 ff.,
took place under Jehoash. But we need only look at that passage, in
order to be convinced that the mention of that event could not be
expected in Joel. The expedition of the Syrians was not directed
against Judea, but against the Philistines. It was only a single
detached corps which, according to Chronicles, incidentally, and on
their return, made an inroad on Judah; but Jerusalem itself was not
taken. This single act of hostility could not but be soon forgotten in
the course of time. It was of quite a different character from that of
the Phœnicians and Philistines mentioned by Joel, which were only
particular outbreaks of the hatred and envy which they continually
cherished against the Covenant-people, and which, as such, were
preeminently the object of punitive divine justice. But on what ground
does the supposition rest, that Joel must necessarily mention all those
nations, with which the Covenant-people came, at any time, into hostile
contact? The context certainly does not favour such an idea. The
mention of former hostile attacks in chap. iv. (iii.) 4-8 is altogether
incidental, as _Vitringa_, in his _Typ. Doctr. Proph._ p. 189 sqq., has
admitted: "The prophet," says he, "was describing the heavy judgments
with which God would, after the effusion of the Spirit, successively,
and especially in the latter days, visit the enemies of the Church, and
overthrow them, on account of the injuries which they had inflicted
upon it. And while he was doing so, those injuries presented themselves
to his mind, which in his own time, and in the immediate past, were
inflicted upon the Jewish people--a portion of the universal Church--by
the neighbouring nations, the Tyrians, Sidonians, and Philistines. To
them he addresses his discourse _in passing_ (_in transitu_), and
announces to them, in the name of God, that they themselves also would
not remain unpunished." The correctness of _Vitringa_, with his "_in
transitu_," is proved by the וגם, as well as by the circumstance, that
vers. 9 ff. are closely connected with ver. 3; so that vers. 4 ff. form
a real parenthesis. How entirely out of place would here have been any
mention of the Syrians! There was necessarily something required which
was very striking, and [Pg 294]which, having but recently occurred, was
still vividly remembered. But the matter was altogether different in
the case of Amos. Joel has to do with the enemies of Judah only; Amos,
with those of the kingdom of Israel also, among whom the Syrians were
the most dangerous. Hence, he begins with them at once. The crime with
which he charges them in chap. i. 3, that they had threshed the
inhabitants of Gilead with threshing instruments of iron, concerns the
kingdom of Israel only. The same applies to the Ammonites and Moabites
also, who, in like manner, are mentioned by Amos, and not by Joel. The
Ammonites are charged in Amos i. 13 with ripping up the women with
child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border; and the crime of
the Moabites, rebuked in chap. ii. 1, occurred, very probably, during
the time of, or after, the expedition against them, mentioned in 2
Kings iii.--the real instigator of which was the king of Israel.

We must indeed be astonished that _Hitzig_, _Ewald_, _Meier_, _Baur_,
and others, after the example of _Credner_, have likewise declared in
favour of the view that the prophecies of Joel were composed under
Joash. None of the arguments, however, by which they attempt to support
their view, can stand examination.

"There is nowhere, as yet, the slightest allusion to the Assyrians,"
says _Ewald_. But neither is any such found in Amos, nor in the first
part of Hosea. An irruption, however, such as former times had not
known,--an overflowing, as it were, by the heathen, such as could by no
means proceed from the small neighbouring nations, but from extensive
kingdoms only, is here also brought into view. Joel is, in this
respect, in strict agreement with Amos, who embodies his prophecy
concerning this event, in chap. vi. 14, in these words: "For, behold, I
raise up against you, O house of Israel, Gentile people, saith the
Lord, the God of hosts, and they shall afflict you from Hamath unto the
river of the wilderness."

"There breathes here still the unbroken warlike spirit of the times of
Deborah and David," _Ewald_ further remarks. But is there in the fourth
(third) chapter any trace of self-help on the part of the people?
Judgment upon the Gentiles is executed without any human
instrumentality, by God,--not by His earthly, but by His heavenly
"heroes," who are sent down [Pg 295]from heaven to earth, and who make
short work with these fancied earthly heroes. Compare chap. iv. (iii.)
11-13, where the address is directed to the heavenly ministers of God,
at the head of whom the Angel of the Covenant must be supposed to be:
Ps. ciii. 20; Rev. xix. 14. _Such_ a victory of the kingdom of God, all
the prophets announce,--not only Isaiah and Micah, but also Ezekiel,
_e.g._, in chap. xxxviii. and xxxix.

"We perceive here the prophetic order in Jerusalem, still in the same
ancient greatness as when Nathan and Gad may have exercised their
office at the time of David. A whole people, without contradicting or
murmuring, still depend upon the prophet. He desires the observance of
a grievous ordinance, and willingly it is performed; his word is still
like a higher command which all cheerfully obey. Nor is any discord to
be seen in the nation, nor any wicked idolatry or superstition; the
ancient simple faith still lives in them, unbroken and undivided." So
_Ewald_ still further remarks. But this argument rests upon a false
supposition; a conversion of the people at the time of the prophet is
not at all spoken of. The pretended repentance is to take place _in
future_,--which, according to chap. i. 4, we must conceive of as being
still afar off, namely, in the time after the divine judgments have
broken in. And as to a progress in the apostasy of the people, it can
scarcely be proved that such took place in the time betwixt Joash and
Uzziah. Between these two, we do not find any new stage of corruption.
The idolatry of Solomon, and the abominations of Athaliah, had
exercised their influence, even as early as under Joash. How deep the
rent was which, even then, went through the nation, is shown by the
fact, that, according to 2 Chron. xxiv. 17, 18, after the death of
Jehoiada, Joash gave way to the _urgent demands of the prince's of
Judah_, and allowed free scope to idolatry. Moreover, the threatening
announcement of a judgment, which is to extend even to the destruction
of the temple, proves how deep the apostasy was at the time of Joel.
Where a judgment is thus threatened, which, in its terrors, far
surpasses all former judgments, the "ancient faith" certainly cannot
have been very vigorous.

"The Messianic idea appears here in its generality and indefiniteness,
without being as yet concentrated in the person of an ideal king,"
_Hitzig_ remarks. But if this argument were at all [Pg 296] valid, we
should have to go back even beyond the time of Joash. Solomon, David,
and Jacob already knew the personal Messiah. The prophets, however, do
not everywhere proclaim everything which they know. Even in Isaiah,
there occur long Messianic descriptions, in which the Messiah Himself
is not to be found. In Joel, moreover, everything is collected around
the person of the "Teacher of righteousness."

"Joel," it is further remarked, "must have prophesied at a time when
the Philistine and other nations, who had become so haughty under
Jehoram, had but lately ventured upon destructive plundering
expeditions as far as Jerusalem, 2 Chron. xxi. 10 ff." This argument
would be plausible, if the injuries inflicted by the Philistines and
the inhabitants of Tyrus had not appeared in equally lively colours
before the mind of Amos (chap. i. 6-10), who, at all events, prophesied
between seventy and eighty years after these events. It is just this
fact which should teach caution in the application of such arguments.
The recollection of such facts could not be lost, as long as the
disposition continued from which they originated. It was as if they had
happened in the present; for, under similar circumstances, similar
events would have again immediately taken place. The passage chap. iv.
19, "Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate
wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because
they have shed innocent blood in the land," shows also how lively was
the recollection of injuries sustained long ago. Egypt and Edom in that
passage are mentioned individually, in order to designate the enemies
of the people of God in general, and yet with an allusion to deeds
perpetrated by the Egyptians and Edomites properly so called. As the
suffix in ארצם must be referred to the sons of Judah--for we have no
historical account of a bloody deed perpetrated against Judah by the
Edomites in their own land, and it was the land of Judah which was
invaded and devastated by the host of locusts--we can think, in the
case of the Egyptians, only of the invasion under Rehoboam (1 Kings
xiv.), and in the case of the Edomites, only of the great carnage which
they made in Judah, during the time at which David carried on war with
Aram in Arabia and on the Euphrates,--probably at a time when he had
sustained heavy losses in that warfare; compare my Comment. on Ps.
xliv. and lx. Of any [Pg 297] similar later occurrence there is no
account extant. It is only by a fanciful exposition that "the innocent
blood" can be found in 2 Kings viii. 20-22. The Edomites at that time
kept only a defensive position, and did not come into the land of
Judah. "The innocent blood" implies a war of conquest, and a hostile

"In chap. iv. (iii.) 4-7, Joel promises a return to the citizens of
Judah, who had been carried away by the Philistines under Jehoram; and,
hence, an age cannot have elapsed since that event." Thus _Meier_
argues. But the words, "Behold, I raise them out of the place whither
ye have sold them," contain no special prediction, but only the
application of the general truth, that God gathers together the
dispersed of Judah, and brings back again the exiled of Israel; and it
is only requisite to compare concerning them. Gen. xv. 16, "In the
fourth generation they shall come hither again," and l. 24, "God will
visit you, and bring you out of this land."

We thus arrive at the conclusion that Joel occupies the right place in
the Canon.

The assertion that Joel belonged to the priestly order, is as baseless
as the similar one regarding Habakkuk, and as the supposition that the
author of the Chronicles was a musician.

The book contains a connected description. It begins with a graphic
account of the ruin which God will bring upon His apostate
Congregation, by means of foreign enemies. These latter represent
themselves to the prophet in his spiritual vision as an all-destroying
swarm of locusts. The fundamental thought is this:--"Wheresoever the
carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together,"--wherever
corruption manifests itself in the Congregation of the Lord, punishment
will be inflicted. Because God has sanctified Himself _in_ the
Congregation, and has graciously imparted to her His holiness. He must
therefore sanctify Himself upon her,--must manifest His holiness in her
punishment, if she has become like the profane world. He cannot allow
that, after the Spirit has departed, the dead body should still
continue to appear as His kingdom, but strips off the mask of hypocrisy
from His degenerate Church, by representing her outwardly as that
which, by her guilt, she has become inwardly. This thought commonly
appears in a special [Pg 298] application, by the mention of the name
of the particular people whom the Lord is, in the immediate future, to
employ for the realization of it. In the case before us, however, He is
satisfied with pointing to the dignity and power inherent in Him. The
enemies are designated only as _people from the North_. But it was from
the North--from Syria--that all the principal invasions of Palestine
proceeded. Hence there is no reason either to think of one of them
exclusively, or to exclude one. On the contrary, the comprehensive
character of the description distinctly appears in i. 4. It is there,
at the very threshold, intimated, that the heathenish invasion will be
a fourfold one,--that Israel shall become the prey of four successive
extensive empires. Joel's mission fell at the commencement of the
written prophecy; and in harmony with this, he gives only an outline of
that which it was reserved for the later prophets to fill up, and to
carry out in its details, by the mention of the name of each single
empire, as the times moved on. It was enough that Joel prophesied the
destruction by these great empires, even before any one of them had
appeared on the stage of history, and that he was enabled to point even
to the fourfold number of them.

The threat of punishment, joined with exhortations to repentance, to
which the people willingly listened, and humbled themselves before the
Lord, continues down to chap. ii. 17. With this is connected the
proclamation of salvation--which extends down to chap. iii. 2 (ii. 29).
The showing of mercy begins with the fact, that God sends the _Teacher
of righteousness_. He directs the attention of the people to the design
of their sufferings, and invites the weary and heavy laden to come to
the Lord, that He may refresh them. His voice is heard by those who are
of a broken heart; and there then follows rich divine blessing, with
its consummation--the outpouring of the Spirit. Both--the sending of
the Teacher of righteousness, and the outpouring of the Spirit--had
their preliminary fulfilments; the first of which took place soon after
the commencement of the devastation by the locusts, in the time of the
Assyrians,--a second, after the destruction by the Babylonians had come
upon the people,--a third, after the visitation by the Greek tyranny
under the Maccabees. But the chief reference of the prophecy is,
throughout, to Christ, and to the vouchsafement [Pg 299] of the
blessing, and to the outpouring of the Spirit, originating in His

The announcement of salvation for the Covenant-people is, in the third
and last part, followed by the opposite of it, viz., the announcement
of judgments upon the enemies of the Congregation of God. Their hatred
of it, proceeding from hatred to God, is employed by Him, indeed, as a
means of chastising and purifying His Church; but it does not, for that
reason, cease to be an object of His punitive justice. The fundamental
idea of this part of the book is expressed in 1 Pet. iv. 17 by the
words: "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of
God. And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that
obey not the Gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved,
where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" The description bears
here also, as in the second and first parts, a comprehensive character.
That which, in the course of history, is realized in a long series of
single acts of divine interposition against the enemies of the Church,
is here brought together in a single scene. The overthrow of Assyria,
Babylon, the Persian and Grecian monarchies, is comprehended in this
prophecy. But its final fulfilment must be sought for only in the
Messianic time. This is sufficiently evident from the relation of this
part, to the second. Having given ear to the Teacher of righteousness,
and the Spirit having been poured out upon her, the Congregation has
become an object of the loving providence of God. From this flows the
judgment upon her enemies. If, then, the promise of the Teacher of
righteousness and of the outpouring of the Spirit be, in substance,
Messianic, so, the judgment too must, in substance, bear a Messianic
character. The same appears from iv. (iii.) 18, according to which
passage, simultaneously with the judgments, there cometh forth, from
the house of the Lord, a fountain which watereth the valley of
Shittim--the waters of salvation which water the dry land of human
need. (Compare the remarks on Ezek. xlvii,; Zech. xiv. 8; and my
_Comment. on Revel._ xxii. 1.) This feature, however, clearly points to
the Messianic time.

We must here, however, avoid confounding the substance with the
form,--the idea with the temporary clothing which the prophet puts upon
it, in accordance with the nature of prophetic [Pg 300] vision, in
which, necessarily, all that is spiritual must be represented in
outward sketches and forms. This form is as follows:--In the place
nearest to the temple, and which was able to contain a great multitude
of people, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, all nations are gathered. (The
valley very probably received its name from the appellation which, in
the passage under consideration, the prophet gives to it, in order to
mark its destination; for Jehoshaphat means, "the Lord judges," or
"Valley of Judgment."[1]) The Lord, enthroned in the temple, exercises
judgment upon them. In this manner--in outward forms of perception--the
idea is brought out, that the judgment upon the Gentiles is an effect
of the kingdom of God; that they are not punished on account of
their violation of the natural law, but because of the hostile
position which they had occupied against the teachers of God's revealed
truth,--against the Lord Himself who is in His Church. Every violation
of the natural law may be pardoned to those who have not stood in any
other relation to God, even although they should have [Pg 301]
proceeded to the most fearful extent in depravity. They who were once
disobedient, when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah,
were not as yet given over to complete condemnation, but were kept in
prison until Christ came and preached to them. "This was the iniquity
of Sodom: fulness of bread, and abundance of peace, were in her and her
daughters; yet the hand of the poor and needy they did not assist; but
they were haughty and committed abomination before the Lord: therefore
He took them away as He saw good." But, nevertheless, the Lord will, at
some future time, turn the captivity (the misery) of this Sodom and her
daughters, and they shall be restored as they were before,--not
corporeally, for their seed is utterly rooted out from the earth, and
even their place is destroyed, but spiritually; compare Ezek. xvi. 49
ff. But, on the other hand, far more severe punishments are inflicted
upon those who have rejected, not the abstract, but the concrete
God,--not the God  who is shut up in the heavens, but the God who
powerfully manifests  Himself on earth, in His Church. It is true, that
as long as this  revelation is still an imperfect one--as it was under
the Old Testament dispensation--and hence the guilt of rejecting Him
less, mercy may  still be shown. External destruction does not involve
spiritual ruin. Moab, indeed, is destroyed, so that it is no longer a
people, because it has exalted itself against the Lord; yet, "in the
latter days I will turn the captivity of Moab, saith the Lord," Jer.
xlviii. 47. But when the revelation of the grace of God has become
perfect, His justice also will be perfectly revealed against all who
reject it, and rise in hostility against those who are the bearers of
it: "Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched,
and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh," Is. lxvi. 24. These
remarks contain the key to all which the Lord declares as to the future
judgment which, in its completion, belongs only to the future world. It
is not the world as such, but that world to which the Gospel has been
declared, and in the midst of which the Church has been founded, which
forms the object of it; compare Matt. xxiv. 14.

Footnote 1: _Hofmann_ (_Weissag. u. Erfül._ i. S. 203) has revived the
explanation, according to which the valley of Jehoshaphat is to be
understood as the valley in which, under Jehoshaphat, judgment was
executed upon several Gentile nations. But this locality, the desert of
Thekoa, which was about three hours distance from Jerusalem (compare my
_Comment. on the Psalms_, in the _Introduction to Ps._ xlvi. xlviii.
lxxxiii.), is at too great a distance from the temple, where, according
to vers. 16 and 17, the Lord holds His judgment upon the nations.
Tradition has rightly perceived that the valley of Jehoshaphat can be
sought for only in the immediate vicinity of the temple. In favour of
the valley of Jehoshaphat now so called, "at the high east brink of
Moriah, the temple-hill" (_Ritter_, _Erdk._ xv. 1, S. 559; xvi. 1, S.
329), is also Zech. vi. 1-8 (compare the remarks on that passage). From
the circumstance that there is, first, the mention of the name, and,
then, the statement of its signification, "And I gather all nations,
and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and _plead_ with
them there," _Hofmann_ infers that the name must have already existed
as a proper name. There is, however, an analogy in Num. xx. 1: "And the
people encamped at Kadesh;"--but the place received the name Kadesh
only because of the event to be subsequently related: previous to that,
its name was Barnea. (Compare _Dissert. on Gen. of the Pent._ vol. ii.
p. 310 ff.) The two theological names of the place, which arose only
from the event recorded in Num. xx., occur even as early as Gen. xiv.
7. The natural name of the valley of Jehoshaphat is, moreover, in all
likelihood, _King's Dale_; compare Gen. xiv. 17; 2 Sam. xviii. 18; and
_Thenius_ on this passage.

[Pg 302]

                             JOEL I.-II. 17.

We shall not dwell here for any length of time upon the history of the
expositions of this passage. It has been given with sufficient
minuteness by _Pococke_ and _Marckius_ among older writers, and by
_Credner_ among the more modern. We content ourselves with remarking
that the figurative exposition is the more ancient, having been adopted
by the Chaldee Paraphrast, and by the Jews mentioned by _Jerome_, and
that we cannot by any means, as _Credner_ does, derive it from
doctrinal considerations only; for many, with whom such considerations
weighed, as _Bochart_, _Pococke_, and _J. D. Michaelis_, do not approve
of it; whilst, on the other hand, there are among its defenders not a
few who were guided by just the opposite motives, such as _Grotius_,
_Eckermann_, _Berthold_ (Einl. S. 1607 ff.), and _Theiner_. Two
preliminary questions, however, require to be answered, before we can
proceed to the main investigation.

1. Does Joel here describe a present, or a future calamity? The former
has been asserted, in former times, by _Luther_ and _Calvin_ (compare,
especially, his commentary on chap. i. 4), and in more recent times,
with special confidence, by _Credner_. But there is nothing to favour
this view. The frequent use of the Preterites would prove something in
support of it, provided only we were not standing on prophetical
ground. They are, moreover, found quite in the same manner in chap.
iv.--in that portion which, by all interpreters unanimously, is
referred to the future. And yet, if this view were to be acknowledged
as sound, it ought to commend itself by stringent considerations,
inasmuch as the prophetic analogy is, _a priori_, against it. There is
not found anywhere in the prophets so long and so detailed a
description of the present or the past. But, moreover, if we once give
up the reference to the future, we could think of the past only; for in
chap; ii. 18, 19, the description of the salvation following upon the
misery, is connected with the preceding context by the Future with _vav
conversivum_. If, then, the scene of inward vision be forsaken, and
everything referred to external reality, the calamity described in the
preceding context must likewise be viewed as one already entirely past,
and the salvation as already actually existing. It can be proved,
however, [Pg 303] from the contents, by incontrovertible special
reasons, that the reference to the future is alone the correct one. The
day of the Lord is several times spoken of as being at hand, which may
be explained from the circumstance, that God's judgment upon His Church
is a necessary effect of His justice, which never rests, but always
shows itself as active. When, therefore, its object--the sinful
apostasy of the people--is already in existence, its manifestation must
also of necessity be expected; and although not the last and highest
manifestation, yet such an one as serves for a prelude to it. The day
of the Lord is, therefore, continually coming, is never absolutely
distant; and its being spoken of as _at hand_ is a necessary
consequence of the saying, "Whereseover the carcase is, there will the
eagles be gathered together,"--a declaration founded upon the divine
nature, and therefore ever true. (Compare my _Commentary on the
Apocalypse_ i. 1.) This designation is first found in i. 15: "Alas! for
the day, for the day of the Lord is _at hand_, and as a destruction
from the Almighty does it come." Here, two expedients for evasion have
been tried. _Justi_ maintained that "the day is at hand" was equivalent
to "the day is there,"--an opinion which does not deserve any further
refutation. _Holzhausen_, _Credner_, and _Hitzig_ suppose that, by "the
day of the Lord," we are not to understand the devastation by the
locusts, but some severe judgment, to which that served as a prelude.
This supposition is, however, opposed, first of all, by the verbal
parallel passage in Isa. xiii. 6: "Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is
at hand; it cometh as a destruction from the Almighty,"--where the day
of the Lord cannot be any other than that which is described in the
preceding context. But this opinion is further opposed by the
circumstance, that, in the subsequent context, there is not the
slightest trace of any other judgment than that of the devastation by
the locusts; on the contrary, with its termination, the whole period of
suffering comes to an end, as regards the Covenant-people, and the time
of blessing upon them and of judgment upon their enemies begins. But
the necessity for understanding, by "the day of the Lord at hand," the
devastation by the locusts, and hence, for viewing the latter as still
future, is even more clearly seen from the second passage, chap. ii. 1,
2: "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy
mountain; let all the [Pg 304] inhabitants of the land tremble, for the
day of the Lord _hath come_, for _nigh at hand_, a day of darkness and
gloominess, a day of clouds and fogs, as the morning-red spread upon
the mountains, a people numerous and strong; there hath not been the
like from eternity, neither shall there be any more after it, even
through the years of all generations." That, by "the day of the Lord,"
which the prophet, from the standing-point of his inward vision, here
speaks of as having already come, and as being in reality nigh at hand,
we must understand the same day as that which is minutely described in
the preceding and subsequent context, viz., the devastation by the
locusts, appears, in the first place, from the verbal parallel passage,
Ezek. xxx. 2, which likewise speaks of one day only: "Thou son of man,
prophesy and say. Thus saith the Lord, Howl ye, woe for the day! For
the day is near, a day to the Lord, a day of clouds, the time of the
heathen it shall be." But what places the matter beyond all doubt are
the words: "A people numerous and strong." These words, by which,
according to what follows, the locusts only can be understood, form an
explanatory apposition to "the day of the Lord," "the day of darkness,"
etc. To this we may further add, that, by the last words, this judgment
is represented as the most formidable, and the last by which Judea
shall be visited; so that we cannot by any means think of a subsequent
later day of the Lord. 2. Are the different names of the locusts
designations of various species of locusts, or are these, beside the
common name of the locusts, only poetical names, which denote the
qualities coming into consideration? _Credner_ has attempted to prove
the former. He maintains that Joel's description has to do with two
generations of locusts,--the first belonging to the end of one
year,--the second, to the beginning of the year following. The latter
he thinks to be the offspring of the former. In accordance with this
hypothesis, he explains the different names, גזם is, according to him,
the migratory locust, which visits Palestine chiefly in autumn; ארבה,
elsewhere the general name of locusts, here the young brood; ילק, the
young locust in the last stage of its transformation, or between the
third and fourth casting of the skin; חסיל, the perfect locust,
proceeding from the last transformation, and, hence, as the brood
proceeded from the חסיל ,גזם would be the same גזם.

[Pg 305]

It forms a general argument against this hypothesis, that, according to
it, the prophet should enter so deeply and minutely into the natural
history of locusts, that a Professor of that science might learn from
him. There is nothing analogous to this, either in Scripture generally,
or in the Prophets particularly. The difficulty, moreover, increases,
when we assume--what has been already proved--that the description
refers to the future. The religious impression which the prophet has,
after all, solely in view, would not gain, but suffer by such a minute
detail in the description of a future natural event,--especially such
as a devastation by locusts.

A closer examination proves that the whole explanation of the names of
the locusts, upon which the hypothesis is built, is untenable. It
appears, then, that the prophet knows of only one kind of locusts,
which he divides into four hosts; and that, with the exception of ארבה,
the names are not those of natural history, but poetical, and taken
from the qualities of the locusts.

Let us first demonstrate that the interpretation of ילק, upon which
_Credner_ founds that of the other names, is inadmissible. This
interpretation, he maintains (S. 295), is put beyond all doubt by the
passage, Nah. iii. 16: "The ילק casts its skin and flies away." The
merchants, who constituted the principal part of the population of
Nineveh, are, according to him, compared to a ילק which flies away,
after having cast his skin for the third or last time. But this passage
of Nahum, when minutely examined and correctly interpreted, is by
itself sufficient to refute that opinion concerning the ילק. In ver.
15, it is said concerning Nineveh: "There shall the fire devour thee,
the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up, as the _licker_
(כילק): make thyself many as the _lickers_, make thyself many as the
locusts. Ver. 16: Thou hast multiplied thy merchants like the stars of
heaven; _lickers broke through and flew away_. Ver. 17: Thy princes are
like locusts, and thy captains are as a host of grasshoppers, which
camp on the hedges in the day of cold. The sun has risen, and they flee
away, and their place is not known where they are." This passage just
proves that ילק must be _winged_ locusts. The inhabitants of Nineveh
are numerous like the locusts; numerous are her rich merchants; but
suddenly there cometh upon them a numberless host of locusts, who rob
[Pg 306] them of everything, and fly away. They who rob and fly away,
in ver. 16, are not the merchants, but the enemies. This becomes quite
evident from the comparison of ver. 15, where quite the same antithesis
is found between--"The sword shall eat thee up as the lickers"
(Nominat.), and "Make thyself many as the lickers." The verb פשט, in
its common signification, _irruit_, _invasit ad praedam agendam_, is
here, in reference to the merchants, very significant. But what is
decisive against the explanation of _Credner_ is this:--that the
signification "to cast the skin" cannot be established at all, and that
the whole sense is utterly unsuitable. For the discourse is not here,
by any means, of mercenaries or foreign traders, but of the native
merchants of Nineveh, just as, in the subsequent verses, the discourse
is about her own nobles. How then could that image be suitable, which
must certainly denote a safe transition from one state into a
better?--_Credner_ moreover refers to Jer. li. 27, where to ילק the
quality סמר, _horridus_, is ascribed. This, according to him, is to be
referred to the rough, horn-like coverings of the wings of the young
locusts. But, according to the context, and to the analogy of the
parallel passage, li. 14, we should rather expect that "horrid" is here
a designation of the multitude. (Compare the ὡς ἀκρίδων πλῆθος of the
LXX.) But it is still more natural to give to סמר the signification of
"awful," "terrible." (Compare Ps. cxix. 120, where the verb occurs with
the meaning "to shudder.")--That by ילק, not the young brood, but the
winged locusts are to be understood, appears also from a comparison of
Ps. cv. 34 with Exod. x. 12 ff. In Exod. a single army of _flying_
locusts overspread Egypt; the Psalmist, in recalling this event to
memory, says: "He spake, and the locusts came, and ילק without number."
From this passage, especially when compared with Ps. lxxvii. 46, where,
instead of חסיל ,ילק is interchanged with ארבה, which alone is found in
Exod., it is very clearly seen that ילק, the _licker_, is nothing else
than a poetical epithet of the locusts. It never occurs, indeed, in
prose; and this can be the less accidental, as גזם, the _gnawer_, is
also never found in prose writings, and חסיל only once, in the prayer
of Solomon, 1 Kings viii. 37--as that which it is in reality, as a mere
attribute to ארבה. That ילק has its name from the eating, is shown by
Nah. iii. 15: "The sword shall eat thee up as the ילק." And, in
addition to this, we may [Pg 307] further urge, that the exposition
of ארבה is altogether fictitious, and contradicted by all the
passages;--that the prophet in ii. 25 inverts the order, and puts the
גזם last, from which it is certainly to be safely inferred that the
arrangement in i. 4 is not a chronological one;--that _Credner_
himself, by his being obliged to grant that גזם and חסיל do not signify
a particular kind of locusts, raises suspicions against his
interpreting the two other names of particular kinds;--and that if this
interpretation were to be considered as correct, גזם and חסיל must
denote the locusts as fully grown. But that is by no means the case.
The origin of the name גזם is, moreover, clearly shown by Amos iv. 9:
"Your vineyards, your fig-trees, and your olive-trees,--הגזם devours
them." As regards the corn, other divine means of destruction had been
mentioned immediately before; the trees alone then remained for the
locusts, and they received a name corresponding to this special
destination, viz., הגזם, the _gnawer_.--The verb חסל is, in Deut.
xxviii. 38, used of the devouring of the locusts, and חסיל never occurs
excepting where the locusts are viewed in this capacity. (Besides the
passages already quoted, compare Is. xxxiii. 4.)

The following also may be considered. The description of the ravages of
the second brood is, according to _Credner_, to begin in chap. ii. 4.
But the suffix in ver. 4 refers directly to the winged locusts spoken
of in vers. 1-3; and in the verb ירוצון they are the subject.

And now, every one may judge what value is to be attached to a
hypothesis which has everything against it, and nothing in its favour,
and the essential suppositions of which--such as the departure of the
swarms, their leaving their eggs behind, their death in the Red
Sea--are, as the author of the hypothesis himself confesses, passed
over in silence by the prophet.

We may now proceed to the solution of our proper problem. There are no
general reasons, either against the figurative, or against the literal
interpretation; neither of them has any unfavourable prejudice which
can be urged against it. A devastation by real locusts is threatened,
in the Pentateuch, against the transgressors of the law, Deut. xxviii.
38, 39; against the Egyptians, the Lord actually made use of this,
among other methods of punishment; and a devastation in Israel by
locusts is, in Amos iv. 9, represented as an effect of divine
anger.--[Pg 308]On the other hand, figurative representations of that
kind are of very common occurrence. In Isaiah, _e.g._, the invading
Assyrians and Egyptians appear, in a continuous description, as swarms
of flies and bees. The comparison of hostile armies with locusts is
very common, not only on account of their multitude (from which
circumstance the locusts received their name in Hebrew), but also on
account of the sudden surprise, and the devastation: compare Judges vi.
5; Jer. xlvi. 23, li. 27; Judith ii. 11. Several times a hostile
invasion also is represented under the _image_ and _symbol_ of the
plague of the locusts. In Nah. iii. 15-17, the Assyrians appear in
the form of locusts,--and that this is not only on account of their
numbers, but also on account of the devastations which they make, is
shown by the comparison with the ילק in ver. 15;--and just in the same
manner are the enemies described who accomplish their overthrow.
And,--what is completely analogous,--in Amos vii. 1-3, the prophet
beholds the approaching divine judgment under the image of a swarm of
locusts, just as, in ver. 4, under that of a fire, and in ver. 7, under
that of a plumb-line. All these three images are in substance
identical; their meaning is expressed in ver. 9 by the words: "The high
places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall
be destroyed." The locusts denote destroying hostile armies; the fire
denotes war; and the plumb-line, the destruction to be accomplished by
the enemies. It was so much the more natural to represent the divine
judgment under the image of a devastation by locusts--as is done also
in Rev. ix. 3 ff.--because, formerly, it had actually manifested itself
in this way  in Egypt. The figurative representation had therefore a
significant substratum in the history of the past. But it is,
throughout, the custom of the prophets to describe the future under the
image of the analogous past, which, as it were, is revived in it.--It
ought to be still further remarked, that we must, _a priori_, be the
less indisposed to admit a detailed symbolical representation in Joel,
as the two prophets, betwixt whom he is placed, have likewise such
symbolical portions.

The decision depends, therefore, upon the internal character of the
description itself. An allegory must betray itself as such, by
significant hints; where these are wanting, it is arbitrary to assume
its existence. Following the order of the [Pg 309] text, we shall bring
together everything of this kind which we find in it.

The words, even, of the introduction,--"Hath any such thing happened in
your days, and in the days of your fathers? Of it you shall tell your
sons, and your sons to their sons, and their sons to the succeeding
generation,"--scarcely permit us to think of a devastation by locusts
in the literal sense. It could only be by means of the grossest
exaggeration--which, if it were far from any prophet, was certainly so
from the simple and mild Joel--that he could represent, as the greatest
disaster which ever befell, or should ever befall the nation, a
devastation by locusts which was, after all, only a transitory evil.
For it is the greatness of the disaster which is implied in the call to
relate it to the latest posterity; no later suffering should be so
great as to cause this one to be forgotten.

We must not overlook the expression in ver. 6: "_For a nation_ (גוי)
has come up over my land." "Nation," according to most interpreters, is
thought to signify the mere multitude; but in that case, עם would
certainly have been used, as is done in Prov. xxx. 25, 26, concerning
the ants. In גוי there is implied not only the idea of what is
hostile--this _Credner_ too acknowledges--but also of what is profane.
This, indeed, is the principal idea; and, on this account, even the
degenerate Covenant-people several times receive the name גוי. That
this principal idea is here likewise applicable, is evident from the
antithesis: "Over my land." It is true, that the suffix cannot be
referred to Jehovah, as is done by _J. H. Michaelis_ and others,
although the antithesis would thus most strikingly appear; but as
little can we refer it, as is done by modern interpreters, to the
prophet as an individual; for, in this case the antithesis would be
lost altogether. The comparison of vers. 7 and 19 clearly shows that,
according to a common practice (compare the Introduction to Micah, and
the whole prophecy of Habakkuk), the prophet speaks in the name of the
people of God. A strange, unheard-of event! A heathen host has invaded
the land of the people of God! The antithesis is in ii. 18: "Then the
Lord was jealous for His land, and spared His people." We do not think
that the prophet loses sight of his image. He designates the locust as
the heathen host; but he would not have chosen this designation, which,
when literally [Pg 310] understood, is very strange, unless the matter
had induced him to do so. If it be understood figuratively, Amos vi. 14
entirely harmonizes with it.--In the same verse (Joel i. 6) it is said:
"His teeth, the teeth of a lion, cheek teeth of a lion to him;" on
which Rev. ix. 8 is to be compared. This comparison is quite suitable
to figurative locusts, to furious enemies (compare Is. v. 29; Nah. ii.
12, 13; Jer. ii. 15, iv. 7, xlix. 19; Ezek. xxxii. 2; Dan. vii. 4), but
not to natural locusts; for the lion cannot possibly be the symbol of
mere voracity.

It is remarkable, that in the description of the locusts in this verse,
and throughout, their flying is not mentioned at all. It is only in
chap. ii. 2, "Day of darkness and gloominess, day of clouds and thick
darkness," that _Credner_ supposes such an allusion to exist. The
darkness is, according to him, in consequence of the swarm of locusts
coming up in the skies. But the incorrectness of such a supposition is
immediately perceived, upon a comparison of chap. ii. 10. Before the
host, and before it arrives, the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, sun
and moon cover themselves with darkness, and the stars withdraw their
shining. It is only after all this has happened, that the Lord
approaches at the head of His host. It is not from this host,
therefore, that the darkness can proceed. On the contrary, the
darkening of the heavens, as is quite conclusively shown by the
numerous almost literally agreeing parallel passages (compare the
remarks on Zech. xiv. 6), is the symbol of the anger of God, the sign
that He approaches as a Judge, and an Avenger. But in what way could
the omission of every reference to the flying of the locusts, in a
description so minute, be accounted for other than this: that the
reality presented nothing corresponding to this feature?

It is only the heaviest and most continuous suffering, and not a
transitory plague by locusts, which can justify the call in i. 8: "Howl
like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth." This
verse forms the transition to ver. 9, where the sacrifice in the house
of Jehovah appears as cut off, and connects Joel with Hosea, in whom
the image, of which the outlines only are given here, appears finished.
Zion has also lost the friend of her youth--the Lord; compare Prov. ii.
17: "Who forsaketh the friend of her youth, and forgot the covenant of
her God;" Is. liv. 6; Jer. ii. 2, iii. 4.--Of great [Pg 311] importance
for the question under consideration are ver. 9: "The meat-offering and
drink-offering are cut off from the house of the Lord;" and ver. 13:
"Gird yourselves and lament, ye priests, howl ye ministers of the
altar, come, spend all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God; for
the meat-offering and drink-offering are withholden from the house of
your God." It is quite inconceivable that the want of provisions,
resulting from a natural devastation by real locusts, could have been
the reason that the meat-offering and drink-offering, which, in a
material point of view, were of so little value, should have been
withheld from the Lord; inasmuch as the cessation of it appears in
these passages as the consummation of the national calamity. During the
siege of Jerusalem by Pompey, the legal sacrifices existed, according
to _Josephus_ (_Arch._ xiv. 4, § 3), even amidst the greatest dangers
to life, during the irruption of the enemies into the city, and in the
midst of the carnage. It is true that, during the last siege by the
Romans, when matters had come to an extremity, _Johannes_ ordered the
sacrifices to be discontinued. But this was done, not from want of
materials, but because there were none to offer them--from ἀνδρῶν
ἀπορίᾳ, as _Josephus_ says (_Bell. Jud._ vi. 2, § 1; compare _Reland_
in _Havercamp_ on this passage)--and to the great dissatisfaction of
the people in the city, ὁ δῆμοσ δεινῶς ἀθυμεῖ. The national view is
expressed in what _Josephus_ says on this occasion to Johannes, to whom
he had been sent by Titus on account of this event: "If any man should
rob thee of thy daily food, thou, most wicked man, wouldst certainly
consider him as thine enemy. Dost thou then think that thou wilt have
for thine associate in this war, God, whom thou hast robbed of His
eternal worship?" But the sound explanation readily suggests itself, as
soon as it is admitted that behind the locusts the Gentiles are
concealed. In that case, Dan. ix. 27, where the destroyer makes
sacrifice and oblation to cease, is parallel. The destruction of the
temple is also announced by the contemporary Amos in chap. ix.; compare
ii. 5: "And I send fire upon Judah, and it devours the palaces of
Jerusalem." Of a similar purport, in the time after Joel, is the
passage in Micah, chap. iii. 12.

The words in ver. 15--"Woe, for the day, for the day of the Lord is at
hand, and as destruction from the Almighty does it come,"--point to
something infinitely higher than a mere [Pg 312] desolation by locusts
in the literal sense. This appears from a comparison of Is. xiii. 6,
where they are taken, almost verbatim, from Joel, and used with a
reference to the judgment of the Lord upon the whole earth. This is
granted even by _Credner_ himself, when he makes the vain attempt
(compare S. 345) to refer them to a judgment different from the
devastation by the locust. The same is the case with _Maurer_ and
_Hitzig_. How, indeed, is it at all conceivable that a national
calamity, so small and transient as a devastation by real locusts would
have been, should have been considered by the prophet as the day of the
Lord of the people in the city, κατ᾽ ἐξοχῄν, as the conclusion and
completion of all the judgments upon the Covenant-people? A conception
like this would imply such low notions of God's justice, and such a
total misapprehension of the greatness of human guilt, as we find in
none of the Old Testament prophets, and, generally, in none of the
writers of Holy Scripture. That which the men of God under the Old
Testament, from the first--Moses--to the last, announce, is the total
expulsion of the people from the country which they defiled by their

The image suddenly changes in vers. 19 and 20: "To thee, O Lord, do I
cry. For fire devoureth the pastures of the wilderness, and flame
burneth all the trees of the field. Even the beasts of the field desire
for Thee; for the fountains of waters are dried up, and fire devoureth
the pastures of the wilderness." The divine punishment appears under
the image of an all-devouring fire. Now, since we cannot here think of
a literal fire, it is certain that, in the preceding verses also, a
figurative representation prevails. _Holzhausen_ and _Credner_ (S.
163), and others, attempt to evade this troublesome inference, by
asserting that fire and flame are here used instead of the heat of the
sun, scorching everything. But this assertion is, at all events,
expressed in a distorted and awkward manner. Fire and flame are never
used of the heat of the sun. According to this view, it ought rather to
be said that the prophet represents the consuming heat, under the image
of fire poured down from heaven. But even this cannot be entertained.
For the parallel passage chap. ii. 3, "Before him fire devoureth, and
after him flame burneth," shows that the fire, being immediately
connected with the locusts, cannot be a cause of destruction
independent of, and co-ordinate with, them. That the locusts are the
sole cause of [Pg 313] the devastation, and that there is not another
cause besides them, viz., the heat, is evident also from the words: "As
the garden of Eden is the land before them, and behind them a desolate
wilderness, and nothing is left by them." The burning anger of God is
represented under the image of a consuming and destroying fire, with a
reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in which the divine
wrath really manifested itself in that way. Under the image of fire,
_war_ also, one of the principal punishments of God, is often
represented. Thus, fire means the fire of war in Num. xxi. 28: Amos i.
4, 7, 10, etc.; Jer. xlix. 27; Rev. viii. 8, 10. On the latter of these
passages, my Commentary may be compared. If, then, the fire spoken of
in this passage mean likewise the fire of war, and the locusts, the
heathen enemies, the difficulty presented by the connection of these
two things is solved. The comparison of Amos vii. here serves as a key.
In vers. 1-3, the divine punishment is represented by the prophet under
the image of a great army of locusts laying waste the country, which is
just beginning to recover under Jeroboam II. after the former
calamities inflicted by the Syrians; and then in ver. 4, under the
image of a great fire devouring the sea (_i.e._, the world), and eating
up the holy land. This analogy is so much the more important, the more
impossible it is to overlook, in other passages also, the points of
agreement betwixt Joel and Amos. But the symbolical representation goes
still further; it extends even to the details. The beasts of the field
are the barbarous, heathen nations. In ver. 19, the desolations are
described which the fire of war accomplishes among Israel; in ver. 20,
those which it effects among the Gentiles: compare the antithesis
between the beasts of the field and the sons of Zion in ii. 22. In Is.
lvi. 9, the beasts of the field likewise occur as a figurative
designation of the heathen. In Jer. xiv.--a prophecy which has been
distorted by expositors through a too literal interpretation--the image
is, in vers. 5, 6, individualized by the mention of particular wild
beasts--the hind and the wild ass. Joel himself indicates that the
beasts in this description must, in general, be understood
figuratively, by using in ver. 18 the word נאשמו, which can be
explained only by "become guilty," "suffer punishment." (Compare Is.
xxiv. 6: "Therefore curse devoureth the land, and they that dwell in it
become guilty;" and [Pg 314] Hos. xiv. 1.) The word נאנחה, which is
never used of beasts, likewise leads us to think of men. "How do the
beasts groan," is explained by "All the merry-hearted do groan," in Is.
xxiv. 7. The words תערג אליך, in which there is an evident allusion to
Ps. xlii. 2, must likewise appear strange, if the description be
understood literally. But what is decisive in favour of the figurative
interpretation is ii. 22: "Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field, for
the pastures of the wilderness are green with grass, for the tree
beareth her fruit, the fig-tree and vine do yield their strength." The
object of joy is here described, first, figuratively, and then,
literally. The pastures of the wilderness are green with grass, _i.e._,
the tree, etc. It is only thus that the כי can be accounted for; it
states the reason, only when the pastures of the wilderness are not
understood literally. _The fruits of the trees are mentioned here as
the ordinary food of the beasts of the field._ _Hitzig_, it is true,
remarks on this: "That many beasts of the field feed upon fruits of
trees which they gather up, and that, _e.g._, foxes eat grapes also."
But the point at issue here is the ordinary food; and Gen. i. 29, 30,
where the trees are given to man, and the grass to the beasts, is
decisive as to the literal or figurative interpretation. Under the
image of unclean beasts--especially wild beasts--the Gentiles appear
also in Acts xi. 6.--Nor can "the rivers of water" (ver. 20) be
understood literally. The water of rivers, brooks, and fountains, is,
in Scripture, the ordinary figure for the sources of sustenance, of
thriving, wealth, and prosperity; compare remarks on Rev. viii. 10.

Chap. ii. 2 is to be considered as indicating the reason which induced
Joel to choose this figurative representation. The words, "There hath
not been anything the like from eternity, neither may there be any more
after it, even to the years of all generations," are borrowed, almost
verbally, from Exod. x. 14. The prophet thereby indicates that he
transfers the past, in its individual definiteness, to the future,
which bears a substantial resemblance to it. What was then said of the
plague of locusts especially, is here applied to the calamity thereby
prefigured. From among all the judgments upon the Covenant-people (for
these alone are spoken of), this judgment is the highest and the last;
and such the prophet could say, only if the whole sum of divine
judgments, up to their consummation, represented [Pg 315] itself to his
inner vision under the image of the devastation by locusts. The
absurdities into which men are led by the hypothesis of a later origin
of the Pentateuch, are here seen in a remarkable instance--viz., in the
assertion of _Credner_, that the passage in Exodus is an imitation of
that of Joel. The verse immediately following, "As the garden of Eden
(_i.e._, Paradise) the land is before him," has an obvious reference to
Genesis, not only to Gen. ii. 8, but also to xiii. 10, where the vale
of Siddim, before the divine judgment, is compared to the garden of
Jehovah--to Paradise.

In chap. ii. 6 it is said, "Before him nations tremble." That the
mention of the _nations_ here is but ill adapted to the literal
interpretation, appears from the circumstance, that while _Credner_
understands by the עמים, Judah and Benjamin, _Hitzig_ attempts to
explain it by people. But if, by the locusts, the heathen conquerors
are designated, the עמים is quite in its place. When the powerful
heathen empires overflowed the land, Israel always formed only a part
of a large whole of nations; compare i. 19, ii. 22. Amos describes how
the fire of war and of the desire of conquest raged, not only in
Israel, but among all the nations round about, and consumed them. In
addition to Amos chap. i. compare especially Amos vii. 4, 5, where, as
objects of hostile visitation, are pointed out, first, the sea, _i.e._,
the world, and then, the heritage of the Lord. According to Is. x. 6,
the mission of Asshur was a very comprehensive one. In Habakkuk and
Jer. chap. xxv. the judgments which the Chaldeans inflicted upon Judah,
appear only as a part of a universal judgment upon all nations.

According to chap. ii. 7-9, the locusts take the city by storm. They
cannot be warded off by force of arms. They climb the wall. They fill
the streets, and enter by force into the houses. Peal locusts are not
dangerous to towns, but only to the fields.

In chap. ii. 11, every feature is against the literal explanation. "And
the Lord giveth His voice before His army; for His camp is very
numerous, for he is strong that executeth His word; for the day of the
Lord is great and very terrible, who can comprehend it?" There is not
the remotest analogy in favour of the supposition which would represent
an army of locusts as the host and camp of God, at the head of which He
[Pg 316] Himself marches as a general, and before which He causes His
thunders to resound like trumpets. It is true that, in some Arabic
writer, this is mentioned as a Mosaic command: "You shall not kill
locusts, for they are the host of God, the Most High;" see _Bochart_
ii. p. 482, ed. _Rosenmüller_ iii. p. 318. But who does not see that
this sentence owes its origin to the passage under consideration? Is.
xiii. 2-5, where the Lord marches at the head of a great army to
destroy the whole earth, may here be compared; and on Joel ii. 10,
"Before him the earth quaketh, the heavens tremble, the sun and the
moon mourn, and the stars withdraw their shining," Is xiii. 10 and Jer.
iv. 28 may be compared, where, in the view of threatening hostile
inundation, the earth laments, and the heavens above mourn.

In ii. 17, "Give not Thine heritage to reproach, _that the heathen
should rule over them_" (למשל־בם גוים), the prophet drops the figure
altogether, and allows the reality--the devastation of the country by
heathen enemies--to appear in all its nakedness. (It is worthy of
notice that by the term גוים in this verse, our remarks on גיו in ii. 6
receive a confirmation.) The defenders of the literal explanation have
tried a twofold mode of escaping from this difficulty. _Michaelis_
explains thus: "Spare Thy people, and deliver them from that plague of
locusts. For if they should continue to swarm any longer, the greatest
famine would arise, and Thy people, in order to satisfy the cravings of
hunger, would be compelled to flee into the territories of heathen
nations to serve them for bread, and to submit not only to their sway,
but to ignominy." But every one must at once see how far-fetched this
explanation is. In all history we do not find any instance in which a
devastation by locusts--which affects the produce of one year only, and
even this never completely and throughout the whole country--has
reduced a people to the necessity of placing themselves under the
dominion of foreign nations. Modern interpreters--and especially
_Credner_--take refuge in another explanation: "Give not up Thine
heritage to the mockery of heathens over them." They assert that the
signification "to mock" is required by the parallelism. But we cannot
see how, and why. The ignominy of Israel consisted just in this, that
they, the heritage of the Lord, were brought under the dominion of the
Gentiles, It is Just by the parallelism that the signification "to
rule" is required. For it is the heritage [Pg 317] of the Lord, and the
dominion of the Gentiles, which form a striking contrast, and not their
mockery. The very same contrast is implied in ver. 18, in the words:
"Then the Lord was jealous for His land." In these, the prophet reports
the manner in which the Lord put away that glaring contradiction. They
are not natural locusts, but only the heathen enemies, who can be the
objects of the jealousy of the Lord; _His_ land. _His_ people, He
cannot give up as a prey to heathen nations. But _further_--and this
alone is sufficient to settle the question--the explanation is
altogether unphilological. The verb משל never has the signification "to
mock;" the phrase מָשַׁל מָשָׁל, "to form a proverb," is altogether peculiar
to Ezekiel, in whose prophecies it several times occurs. In the other
books, nothing occurs which would be, even in the smallest degree, to
the purpose, except that in the ancient language of the Pentateuch
משלים occurs once, in Num. xxi. 27, in the signification "poets."
The verb משל with ב means always, and without exception, "to rule
over"--properly, "to rule by entering into any one." Thus it occurs
especially in that passage which the prophet had in view, Deut.
xv. 5, 6: "If thou wait hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God ...
thou shalt rule over many nations, and they shall not rule over
thee," לא ימשלו ומשלת בגוים רבים ובך. Compare also the very similar
passages, Ps. cvi. 41: "And He gave them into the hand of the heathen,
and they that hated them ruled over them," וימשלו בם; and Lament, v. 8:
"Servants rule over us,"בנו משלו. That it is from prejudice alone that
the selection of the signification "to mock" can be accounted for,
appears also from the circumstance that all the old Translators (the
LXX., _Jonath._, _Syr._, _Vulg._) render it by "to rule."

More than one proof is offered by ver. 20: "And I will remove from you
the Northman, and will drive him into the land dry and desolate; his
van into the fore sea, and his rear into the hinder sea; and his stench
shall come up, and his ill-savour shall arise, for he has magnified to

1. If we understand this literally, and refer it to real locusts, then
the designation by הצפוני, _i.e._, "one from the North," "a Northman,"
is inexplicable. It is true that there is no foundation for the common
assertion, that locusts move only from the South to the North (compare
_Credner_, S. 284); but in all history there is not one instance known
of locusts having come [Pg 318] to Palestine from the North--from
Syria. But even although occasionally single swarms, after having come
to Syria from their native country, the hot and dry South, may have
strayed thence to Palestine, such is not conceivable of so enormous a
swarm as is here described, which, with youthful strength, devastated
the whole of Palestine from one end to the other. Is it, moreover,
probable that the prophet, who, as we have already seen, prophesies
things future, would mention a circumstance so accidental as the
transient abode of a swarm of locusts in Syria? Such a residence,
_besides_, would not justify the assertion. The termination ־ִ־י added
to common names, indicates origin and descent. An inhabitant of a town,
for example, who should reside for a short time in a village, could not
for that reason be called a פרזי.--_Finally_--The native country of the
real locusts is plainly enough indicated by the words: "And I will
drive him into the land dry and desolate." Who does not see that, by
these words, the hot and dry southern countries are marked out, and
that the prophet expresses the thought, "The enemies will be driven
back to the place whence they came," by mentioning the country from
which the real locusts used to come? Our opponents are here greatly
embarrassed. Some explain: "The locusts marching northward,"--_Hezel_
and _Justi_, without the slightest countenance from the _usus
loquendi_: "The dark and fearful host." This opinion was approved of by
_Gesenius_ in the _Thesaurus_; but in opposition to it _Hitzig_ may be
compared, who himself gives the explanation, "The Typhonic." _V. Cöln_
(_de Joelis aetate_, Marb. 1811, p. 10). _Ewald_ and _Meier_ propose a
change in the text. With the reasons preventing us from referring the
expression to the locusts In a literal sense, we may combine the fact
that the North is constantly mentioned as the native land of the most
dangerous enemies of Israel, viz., the Assyrians and Chaldeans. And
although this designation be. In a geographical point of view.
Inaccurate, this is outweighed by the circumstance, that enemies always
Invaded Palestine from Syria, after having previously made that land a
part of their dominions. Compare Zeph. ii. 13: "And the Lord stretches
out His hand over the _North_, and destroys Assyria, and makes Nineveh
a desolation--a dry wilderness;" Jer. i. 14: "And the Lord said unto
me, Out of the _North_ the evil shall break forth upon all the
inhabitants of the land;" Jer. iii. 18, where [Pg 319] the land of the
North is mentioned as the land of the captivity of Judah and Israel;
Jer. iv. 6, vi. 1, 22, x. 22, xlvi. 24, where the people of the North
form the antithesis to Egypt, the African power; and Zech. ii. 10.
_Jerome_ long ago remarked: "The prophet mentions the North, that we
might not think of real locusts, which are wont to come from the South,
but might, by the locusts, understand the Assyrians and Chaldeans."

2. That we have here to do with a poetical description, and not with
one of natural history, appears from a designation of the places to
which the locusts are to be driven. Among these, the dry and hot
southern country--the Arabian desert--is first mentioned; then, the
anterior sea, _i.e._, the Dead Sea, situated eastward of Jerusalem; and
lastly, the hinder, or Mediterranean Sea. That, according to the view
of the prophet, the dispersion in these different directions was to
take place in a moment, appears from the circumstance that, according
to his description, the van of the same army is driven into one sea,
and the rear, into the other sea. Now, every one very easily sees that
this is a physical impossibility, inasmuch as opposite winds cannot
blow at the same time. _Credner's_ explanation, according to which the
פנים of the locusts is intended to be the swarm of those who first
invaded Palestine, while סופו is their brood, deserves mention in so
far only as it affords a proof of the greatness of the absurdities into
which one may be deluded, after he has once adopted a groundless

3. The words, "For he has magnified to do," state the reason of the
destruction of the locusts. They are _punished_ in this manner, because
they have _committed sin_ by their proud haughtiness. Because they have
magnified to do, the Lord now magnifies Himself to do against them,
ver. 21; He glorifies Himself in their destruction, since, at the time
of their power, they glorified themselves, and trampled God under foot.
But sin and punishment necessarily imply responsibility; and it would
be indeed difficult to prove that, in the way of a poetical figure, any
prophet would ascribe such to irrational creatures; while, as regards
the heathen enemies of Israel, the thought here expressed is of
constant occurrence.

In chap. ii. 25, "And I restore to you the years (השנים) which the
locusts have eaten," etc., _several_ years of calamity are spoken of.
But we cannot agree with _Ewald_ in thinking that [Pg 320] the land
was, for several years, laid waste by locusts: we are prevented from
doing so by the single word יתר in chap. i. 4. _Bochart_ rightly
remarks: "The produce of the new year cannot be called the residue of
the former year. That word is much more applicable to the fruits of
some fields, which are passed by, or to the residue left in a field,
which should be eaten up in the same year." As little can we suppose,
with _Ewald_, that the plural is here used with reference to the
effects produced, by the devastation of one year, upon the ensuing
years; for it is not a possible loss which is here spoken of, but one
which has actually taken place. The prophet then passes, here also,
from the image to the thing itself,--to the hostile invasions extending
over longer periods, which he describes under the image of a
devastation by locusts which, at one time, took place.

Very strong arguments in favour of the figurative explanation are
furnished, in addition, by chap. iv. (iii.). The whole announcement of
punishment and judgment upon the heathen nations has sense and meaning,
only when, in the preceding context, there has been mention made of the
crime which they committed against the Lord and His people. In that
case, we have before us the three main subjects of prophecy,--God's
judgments upon His people by heathen enemies, their obtaining mercy,
and the punishment of the enemies. At the very beginning of chap. iv.
(iii.) the sufferings of Israel, described in chap. i. and ii., and the
judgment upon the heathen, are brought into the closest connection.
According to chap. iv. 1, 2, the gathering of the Gentiles is to take
place at a time when the Lord will return to the captivity of Judah and
Jerusalem, _i.e._, according to the constant _usus loquendi_ (compare
my Commentary on Ps. xiv. 7), when He will grant them, mercy, and
deliver them from their misery.[1] But that this misery can be none
other than that described in chap. i. and ii. appears simply from the
fact, that this has been declared to be the close of all the judgments
of God.--We must, _further_, not overlook the article [Pg 321] in
את־כל־הגוים in chap. iv. 2, and, accordingly, must not translate, "I
will gather all nations," but "all _the_ nations." And how could this
be explained in any other way than--all the nations which are spoken of
in the preceding chapters under the image of locusts? But of special
importance is the second part of the verse: "And I plead there with
them concerning My people, and My heritage Israel, whom they have
scattered among the nations, and distributed My land."[2] It is quite
impossible that there should here be the mention of anything which
happened before the time of Joel. Whatever period we may assign to him,
he belongs, at all events, to a time in which a scattering of Israel
among the Gentiles, and a distribution of their land, had not as yet
taken place. _Credner_, indeed, believes that the calamities under
Jehoram are sufficient to account for these expressions. "At that
time," he says, "the Edomites revolted from Judah; Libnah, which
belonged to Judah In the stricter sense, rebelled; the Arabs and
Philistines invaded the kingdom and plundered its capital; those
inroads did then not terminate without a diminution of the territory of
Judah." But all this is irrelevant; the discourse concerns the
distribution of the land of the _Lord_. The rebellion of a heathen
tributary people does not, therefore, here come under consideration.
Just as little can we see what Libnah has to do here. It belonged, it
is true, to the kingdom of Judah; but the heathen nations had nothing
to do with its rebellion;--for this, according to 2 Kings viii. 22, and
2 Chron. xxi. 10, proceeded from the inhabitants, who were dissatisfied
with the bad government of the king, and was speedily brought to a
close. It cannot then be proved, that even some small portion of the
territory was lost at that time; far less, that the whole country was
apportioned anew. It is quite the same as regards the dispersion among
the Gentiles. The invasion of the Philistines cannot [Pg 322] here come
into consideration, because, in ver. 4, these enemies are expressly
distinguished from those who had effected the dispersion of the people,
and the distribution of the land: "And ye also, what have ye to do with
Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the borders of Palestine?" The prophet
can thus not be speaking of something which had taken place at his
time; but as little can he speak of something still future, which had
not been touched upon by him when he threatened punishment upon the
Covenant-people; for the devastation by the locusts appears as the
highest and last calamity of the future. Nothing, therefore, remains
but to suppose, that under the image of the devastation by locusts, the
devastation of the country by heathen enemies, and the dispersion of
its inhabitants, are described,--a supposition which is confirmed by
the great resemblance of the passage under consideration to chap. ii.
17-19. _Vatke_ (_Theol. des A. Th._ i. S. 462) founded upon the fact
that the general exile is here predicted, the assertion that Joel had
prophesied only after the captivity. No one, of course, has been
willing to agree with him in this; but as long as the devastation by
the locusts is understood literally, it will not be possible to
undermine the grounds upon which he supports his views. It is
altogether in vain that people spend their labour in disputing the
fact, so obvious and evident, that the discourse here concerns the
total occupation of the land by the heathen, the total carrying away of
its inhabitants.

It may be further remarked, that this passage at the same time
considerably strengthens the proof already adduced, that Joel foretells
future things in chap. i. and ii. A devastation by the locusts is
described in these chapters; but the substance of this figure does not
refer to the time of Joel.

_Finally_--We must still direct attention to the words in iv. 17:--"And
Jerusalem shall be a sanctuary, and there shall no strangers pass
through her any more." This promise stands in evident contrast to the
former threatening, and becomes intelligible only by it. In it,
therefore, the _strangers_ must be represented under the figure of the

And now, after all these single proofs have been enumerated--proofs
which, if necessary, might easily have been strengthened and
increased--let us look back to this survey of the contents of the book,
and we shall see how, according to our view, [Pg 323] and according to
it alone, the prophecy of Joel forms an harmonious, complete, and well
finished whole, and that the prophet adheres closely to the outlines
already given by Moses, with the filling up and finishing of which all
other prophets also are employed. And let us, finally, add, that
exegetical tradition also bears a favourable testimony to the
figurative interpretation.

We need not spend much time in considering the arguments advanced
against the figurative interpretation by _Credner_ (S. 27 ff.),
_Hitzig_, and others. They all rest upon an almost incomprehensible
ignoring of the nature of poetry, of the metaphor, and of the allegory.
Thus, _e.g._, _Credner_ says, "What man of sound sense will ever be
able to say of horses, horsemen and warriors, that they resemble horses
and horsemen? Who has ever seen horses and horsemen climbing over
walls? What shall we say concerning chap. ii. 20? Do land armies ever
perish in the sea, and, moreover, in two different seas? What is the
use of foretelling, in chap. ii. 22, 23, the ceasing of the drought, if
the prophet here thought of real enemies?" But in opposition to all
these and similar objections, let us simply keep in mind, that the
prophet does not by any means view the enemies as such, and only
incidentally compares them with locusts; but that in his inward vision
they represented themselves to him as locusts. It is just the
characteristic feature of the allegory, that the image becomes in it
substantial, and has the thing represented, not _beside_ it, but _in_,
_with_, and _under_ it. But it is just for this reason that many a
feature must be introduced which does not belong to the _real_ subject,
_i.e._, the figure, but to the _ideal_ only, _i.e._, the thing
represented thereby. It is for this very reason also, that the
metaphor, raised to the _ideal_ subject, may again be compared with the
_real_ subject. After all this we may well judge what right _Ewald_ has
to call the figurative explanation "an error, which, in consideration
of our present knowledge, becomes from day to day less pardonable."

We remark further, that, in chap. i. 4, it is distinctly indicated that
Israel's visitation by the world's power will not be a simple one, but
will present various aspects: "That which the _gnawer_ has left, the
_locust_ devoureth; and that which the _locust_ hath left, the _licker_
devoureth; and that which the _licker_ hath left, the _eater_
devoureth." The opinion has been entertained, that "the prophet does
not say, one cloud of locusts after [Pg 324] another, or swarms of
locusts of every description have come up; but, on the contrary, that
they are all contemporary, and that all of them devour the same
things." But a succession is quite obvious. The four parties do not
devour at the same time; but the second devours what the first has
left. It is true that the succession appears as very rapid; but that is
a peculiarity belonging only to the vision. If there be _at all_ a
succession of those extensive empires representing the world's power,
there must in reality be considerable intervals between them. The
question then arises, however, whether the number _four_ is to be
considered as a round number, so that the thought would only be this,
that several nations are to visit the people of the Lord, or whether,
on the contrary, importance is to be attached to the number _four_ as
such. According to _Jerome_, the Jews followed the latter view. In
accordance with their view, the first swarm denotes the Assyrians,
together with the Chaldeans; the second, the Medo-Persians; the third,
the Grecian kingdoms; the fourth, the Romans. The analogies of the four
horns in Zech. ii. 1-4 (i. 18-21), the four beasts in Daniel, the seven
heads of the beast in Revelation--denoting the seven phases of the
world's power opposed to God--are decisive in favour of the latter
view; compare my _Commentary on Rev._ xii. 18, xiii. 1. Now, if we
follow this view at all, we must, in determining the four swarms,
certainly assent to the opinion of the Jews, as given in _Jerome_; and
this so much the more, as the four swarms are, in that case, exactly
parallel to the four beasts in Daniel, which denote the Chaldean,
Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman monarchies. The fact that the
Assyrians are taken together with the Chaldeans can be the less
strange, because, so early as in the prophecy of Balaam, Asshur and
Babylon are comprehended under the common name עבר, _i.e._, "that which
is on the other side,"--the power on the other side of the Euphrates;
and are contrasted with the new empire which pressed on from the
West--from Europe. (Compare my _Dissertation on Balaam_, p. 593 ff.)[3]
It was the less possible to ascribe to the Assyrians an independent
position here, as Joel has to do mainly with Judah, upon which no
judgment of real importance was inflicted by the Assyrians.

Footnote 1: The well ascertained _usus loquendi_ must be here the less
given up, as, in the preceding context, to which this verse carries us
back, we are, it is true, told that the Lord will return and bestow
mercy; but the bringing back of the people is as little spoken of as
the carrying of them away, inasmuch as the express mention of which did
not suit the image of the devastation by locusts.

Footnote 2: חִלֵּק means, not "to divide among themselves," but "to effect
a new division," "to apportion the land anew," as, _e.g._, Asshur
distributed the territory of the ten tribes among the Aramean
Colonists, חלק is used of the distribution of the land by Joshua, in
Josh. xiii. 7, xix. 51. In Mic. ii. 4, when the captivity was
impending, the people, in anticipation of it, utter their lamentation
in the words, "He distributes our fields;" compare Ps. lx. 8.

Footnote 3: In the volume containing the "_Dissertations on the
Genuineness of Daniel_, etc.," published by T. and T. Clark.

[Pg 325]

                           ON CHAPTER II. 23.

"_And, ye sons of Zion, exult and rejoice in Jehovah your God; for He
giveth you the Teacher of righteousness, and then He poureth down upon
you rain, the former rain and the latter rain, for the first time._"

The words, "In Jehovah your God," are an addition peculiar to the sons
of Zion. In reference to the _earth_, which the locusts had devastated,
it was in ver. 21 said only, "Fear not, exult and rejoice." In
reference to the beasts, _i.e._, to the heathen world, which was kept
in subjection by the conquerors of the world, but which is delivered by
the great deeds of the Lord, it is in ver. 22 said only: "Fear not."
They are only the sons of Zion who know and love the Author of
Salvation, and who receive from Him special gifts, besides the general

There is considerable difference in the interpretations of this verse.
The words, את־המורה לצדקה, are, by the greater number of interpreters,
translated, "The Teacher of righteousness." Thus, _Jonathan_, the
_Vulgate_, _Jarchi_, _Abarbanel_, _Grotius_, and almost all the
interpreters of the early Lutheran Church translate them. Others take
מורה in the signification of "rain," and לצדקה as qualifying its nature
more accurately. Even in ancient times, this explanation was not at all
uncommon. Among the Rabbinical interpreters, it was held by _Kimchi_,
_Abenezra_, _S. B. Melech_, who explain it of a _timely_ rain.
_Calvin_, who rendered the לצדקה by _justa mensura_, defends it with
great decision, and declares the other explanations to be forced, and
unsuitable to the connection. It is translated by "rain" in the
English[1] and Genevan versions, and by many Calvinistic interpreters,
who differ, however, in the translation of לצדקה, and render it either:
"In right time," or "in right measure," or "in the right place," or
"for His righteousness," or "according to your righteousness."
_Marckius_ is of opinion that "rain" is necessarily required by the
context; but that, on account of לצדקה, this rain must be understood
spiritually of the Messiah with His saving doctrine, and His Spirit.
Among the interpreters of the Lutheran Church, _Seb. Schmid_ thinks of
"a rain in due season." [Pg 326] Among modern interpreters, the
explanation by "rain" has become altogether so prevalent, that it is
considered scarcely of any importance even to mention the other. לצדקה
is explained by _Eckermann_: "In proof of His good pleasure;" by
_Ewald_, _Meier_, and _Umbreit_: "For justification;" by _Justi_: "For
fruitfulness;" and by the others (_Rosenmüller_, _Holzhausen_,
_Credner_, _Rückert_, _Maurer_, and _Hitzig_) by: "In right measure."
We consider this explanation to be decidedly erroneous, and the other
to be the sound one; and this for the following reasons:--1. The great
difference, on the part of the defenders of the current opinion, as
regards the explanation of לצדקה certainly indicates, with sufficient
clearness, that, by this addition, a considerable obstruction is put in
its way. The most current explanation, by "_justa mensura_," "in right
measure," "sufficiently," is certainly quite untenable. Even the fact,
that it is not צדק but צדקה which is used here, must excite suspicion.
(On the difference betwixt these two words, compare _Ewald_ in the
first edition of his Grammar, S. 312-13.) But what is quite decisive is
the fact that these two words, which occur with such extraordinary
frequency, are never found in a physical, but always in a moral sense
only. The only passage in which, according to _Winer_, צדק signifies
"rectitude" in a physical sense, is Ps. xxiii. 3: מעגלי צדק which,
according to him, means: "Straight, right ways." But that verse runs
thus: "He restoreth my soul, He leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for His name's sake." The path is a spiritual one; it is
righteousness itself, which consists in the actual declaration of being
just, and in justification, which are implied in the gift of salvation.
With regard to צדקה, _Holzhausen_ (S. 120) maintains that it is used of
a measure which has its due size in Lev. xix. 35, 36. The words are
these: "Ye shall not do _unrighteousness_ in judgment, in measure, in
division. Balances of righteousness, weights of righteousness, ephas of
righteousness, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God who brought you
out of the land of Egypt." Even the contrast--so evident--with the
_unrighteousness_, shows distinctly that balances, measures, and
weights of righteousness are here such as belong to righteousness--are
in harmony with it. Even the root צדק never occurs in a physical sense,
but always, only in a moral sense. To this it must be added, that the
explanation, "Teacher of righteousness," [Pg 327] is recommended by the
parallel passage in Hos. x. 12, where, also, teaching occurs in
connection with righteousness: וירה צדק לכם, "And the Lord will come
and teach you righteousness." This parallel passage is also opposed to
_Ewald's_ explanation, "for justification,"--the only explanation among
those mentioned to which, it must be admitted, no philological
objection can be raised. But the thought, "The early rain an actual
justification of Israel," would be rather strange, and so much the more
so, because the wrath of God had not manifested itself in a drought and
want of water, but rather in the sending of the army of locusts.

2. That the giving of the מורה, in the first hemistich of the verse,
must denote a divine blessing different from the giving of the מורה in
the second, is evident for this reason:--that, otherwise, there would
arise a somewhat meaningless tautology. They who assigned to מורה in
the first hemistich, the signification of "rain in general," have felt
how very unsuitable is the twofold mention of the early rain. To this
must be added the use of the _Fut._ with _Vav convers._, ויורד. By this
form, an action is denoted which _follows_ from the preceding one; but
according to the current explanation, one and the same action would
here be expressed, only in different words. It cannot be denied,
indeed, that the form occurs by no means rarely in a weakened sense,
and is used only to express a connection; and that for this reason,
this argument is not, _per se_, conclusive. Yet the original
signification so generally holds, that we can abandon it only for
distinct and forcible reasons. In addition to this, it must be
considered that the addition of גשם to the second מורה distinctly marks
out the latter as being different in its meaning from the former. It
must also be kept in mind that it is one of the peculiarities of Joel
to use the same words and phrases, after brief intervals, in a
different sense; compare _Credner's_ remarks on ii. 20, iii. 5.

3. The explanation by "Teacher" is far more obvious for the reason that
מורה always occurs with the signification of "teacher" (even in Ps.
lxxxiv. 7, where the right translation is: "With blessing also the
teacher covereth himself"), and never with that of "rain," or "early
rain." This is rather the meaning of יורה; and the verb also never
occurs in _Hiphil_, as it does in _Kal_, with the signification "to
sprinkle," "to water." [Pg 328] By this we are led to the supposition
that Joel, in the second hemistich, made use of the uncommon form מורה
with the meaning of "early rain," solely on account of the resemblance
of the sound to the מורה occurring immediately before, with its usual
signification; and that, at the same time, he added גשם for the purpose
of avoiding ambiguity. What serves to confirm this supposition, is the
circumstance that Jeremiah, alluding to the passage under
consideration, has, in chap. v. 24, put יורה in the place of מורה;
which proves that the second מורה in Joel ii. 23 has originated only
from its connection with the first, which is altogether wanting in

4. A causal connection, similar to that which exists here betwixt the
sending of the Teacher of righteousness and the pouring out of the
rain, occurs also in that passage of the Pentateuch which the prophet
seems to have had in view, viz., Deut. xi. 13, 14: "And it shall come
to pass, _if ye shall hearken unto my commandments_ which I command you
this day, that ye love the Lord your God, and serve Him with all your
heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your
land in due season, the first rain and the latter rain (יורה ומלקוש),
and thou shalt gather in thy corn, and thy must, and thine oil." Here,
as well as there, the righteousness of the people is the _antecedens_;
the divine mercies and blessings are the _consequens_. Since the former
does not exist, God begins the course of His mercies by sending Him who
calls it forth. This remark removes, at the same time, the objection,
that the mention of the Teacher of righteousness is unsuitable in a
connection where the prophet speaks of temporal blessings only, and
rises to spiritual blessings only afterwards, in chap. iii. There
existed for the Covenant-people no benefits which were purely temporal;
these were always, at the same time, signs and pledges of the divine
favour, which depended upon the righteousness of the people, and this,
in turn, upon the divine mission of a Teacher of righteousness.

5. The בראשון is also in favour of our explanation. It stands in close
relation to אחרי־כן in chap. iii. 1, ii. 28. The sending of the Teacher
of righteousness has two consequences;--_first_, the pouring out of the
temporal rain--an individualizing designation of every kind of outward
blessings, and chosen with a reference to the passage of the Pentateuch
which we have just [Pg 329] cited, but with special reference to the
description of the calamity, under the figure of a devastation by
locusts;--and, _secondly_, the outpouring of the spiritual rain--the
sending of the Holy Ghost. It needs only the pointing out of this
reference, which has been overlooked by interpreters,[2] to set aside
the manifold and different explanations of בראשון which are, all of
them, unphilological, or give an unsuitable sense.[3]

But if any doubt should still remain, it would be removed by a parallel
passage in Isaiah, which depends upon the text under review, in a
manner not to be mistaken, and which, therefore, must be regarded as
the oldest commentary upon it. Isaiah is describing the condition of
the people subsequent to their having obtained mercy, after a long time
of deep misery, in chap. xxx 20: "And the Lord gives you the bread of
adversity, and the water of affliction; and then thy _teacher_ (מוריך
is _singular_) shall no longer hide himself, and thine eyes shall see
thy teacher; Ver. 21: And thine ears hear a word behind thee, This is
the way, walk ye in it; do not turn to the right hand, nor to the
left." Accordingly, after they have put away what was evil, ver. 22:
"The Lord giveth the rain of thy seed, with which thou sowest thy
land," etc., ver. 23. The teacher is not a human teacher, but God.
_Human_ teachers had not concealed themselves; but that the Lord had
concealed Himself, is affirmed in the preceding verses. The words,
"Behind thee" (ver. 21), suggest the idea of a teacher of such a glory
that they could not look in his face (compare Rev. i. 10); and the
words, "Thine eyes see thy teacher," ver. 20, imply the idea of the
high majesty of the teacher, and suggest the idea of a revelation of
the glory of the Lord; compare Is. xl. 5, lii. 8. The Lord must first
manifest Himself as a Teacher, before He appears as a Saviour. In
Isaiah, the Lord Himself appears as the Teacher; as also in Hos. x. 12:
"It is time to seek the Lord, till He [Pg 330] come and teach you
righteousness;" while in Joel, on the contrary, it is the Lord who
giveth the Teacher. Both may be reconciled by the consideration, that
in the Teacher whom the Lord gives, the glory of the Lord becomes

It now only remains to inquire who is to be understood by the Teacher
of righteousness. (Teacher of righteousness is equivalent to: "Teaching
them how they should fear the Lord," 2 Kings xvii. 28.) It is referred
to the Messiah, not only by almost all those Christian interpreters who
follow this explanation, with the exception of _Grotius_, who
conjectures that Isaiah or some other prophet is to be thereby
understood; but also, after the example of _Jonathan_, by several
Jewish commentators; _e.g._, _Abarbanel_, who says: "This teacher of
righteousness, however, is the King Messiah, who will show the way in
which we must walk, and the works which we must do." Even on account of
the article, it is not possible to refer it to a single human teacher;
and this argument may, at the same time, be added to those which oppose
the explanation of מורה by "an early rain." There can be only the
choice betwixt the Messiah as the long promised Teacher κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν,
and the _ideal_ teacher,--the collective body of all divine teachers.
But the latter view requires to be somewhat raised, before it can be
allowed to enter into the competition. That we have not here before us
an ordinary collective body, is shown by the parallel passage in
Isaiah, according to which the glory of the Lord is to be manifested in
the Teacher. And this is as little applicable to a plurality of human
teachers, as to a single individual. It is _further_ proved by the
fundamental passage in Deut. xviii. 18, 19, where, indeed, the
prophetic order is comprehended in an _ideal_ person. This, however,
has its reason only in the circumstance, that the idea of prophetism
was, at some future time, to find its realization in a _real_ person.
It is _further_ seen from the state of the Messianic hopes at the time
of Joel, and from the exceeding greatness of what is here connected
with the appearance of the Teacher of righteousness. In addition to the
allusion in Gen. xlix. 10 and Deut. xviii., the Messiah appears as a
Teacher in the Song of Solomon also, chap. viii. 2; and in Is. lv. 4:
"Behold, I give Him for a witness to the people, for a prince and a
lawgiver to the people;" as also in those passages of the second part
of Isaiah, in which He is declared to be the Prophet κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν. [Pg
331] When thus understood, the explanation of the _ideal_ teacher may
be preferable to the reference to Christ exclusively. In favour of such
a reference, there is the comprehensive character and the _ideal_
import which are, in general, peculiar to the prophecies of Joel. Such
a reference is, moreover, favoured by the expression itself, which
points out only that which Christ has in common with the former
servants of God, viz., the teaching of righteousness, and especially by
a comparison with the fundamental passages, Deut. xviii.

Footnote 1: The English version has "a teacher of righteousness," as a
marginal reading.--Tr.

Footnote 2: Since the appearance of the first edition of this work, it
has been acknowledged also by _Ewald_, _Meier_, and _Umbreit_.

Footnote 3: _Hitzig_ explains it: "In the first month." But altogether
apart from the consideration that it is only in a chronological
connection that "in the first" can stand for "in the first _month_,"
this explanation is objectionable on the ground that the early rain and
the latter rain cannot, by any means, belong to the same month. There
is the less difficulty in explaining it by "first," as בראשונה
undeniably occurs, several times, in this signification; compare,
_e.g._, Zech. xii. 7.

                  EXPOSITION OF CHAP. III. (II. 28-32.)

Ver. 1. "_And it shall come to pass, afterwards, I will pour out My
Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy;
your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see

The communication of the Spirit of God was the constant prerogative of
the Covenant-people. Indeed, the very idea of such a people necessarily
requires it. For the Spirit of God is the only inward bond betwixt Him
and that which is created; a Covenant-people, therefore, without such
an inward connection, is an impossibility. As a constant possession of
the Covenant-people, the Spirit of God appears in Isaiah lxiii. 11,
where the people, in the condition of the deepest abandonment, say, in
the remembrance of the divine mercies, "Where is He that put His Holy
Spirit within him?" But it was peculiar to the nature of the Old
Testament dispensation, that the effusion of the Spirit of God was less
rich. His effects less powerful, and a participation in them less
general. It was only after God's relation to the world had been
changed by the death of Christ that the Spirit of _Christ_ could be
bestowed,--a higher power of the Spirit of God, standing to Him in the
same relation as the Angel of the Lord to the incarnate Word. The
conditions of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit were, under the Old
Testament, far more difficult to obtain. The view of Christ in His
historical personality, in His life, suffering, and death, was wanting.
God, although infinitely nearer to the Jews than to the Gentiles, yet
ever remained a God relatively [Pg 332] distant. Since the procuring
cause of the mercy of God--the merit of Christ--was not yet so clearly
seen, it was far  more difficult to lay hold of it, and the by-path of
legalism was far nearer. It was thus only upon a few--especially upon
the prophets--that the direct possession of the Spirit of God was
concentrated; while the greater number, even among those of a better
disposition, enjoyed a spiritual life derived only from a union with
them, and hence it was less strong. It arose from the nature of the
case that, at some future time, there must take place a richer and more
powerful effusion of the Spirit of God; and it was just for this reason
that it was the desire of Moses, that such might take place, and that
the whole people might prophesy. Num. xi. 29, besides expressing such a
desire, is, at the same time, a prophecy. He wished nothing else than
that the people of God might attain to such a degree as to realize the
idea of a people of God; and this must come to pass at some future
time, because the omnipotent and faithful God could not leave His work
unfinished. But Moses himself immediately subjoins the prophecy to the
wish, as a clear proof, that behind the wish the prophecy is concealed:
"Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets! for the Lord will
give His Spirit upon them," etc.; which is equivalent to: "At some
future time, the whole people of the Lord shall be prophets, not
against, but agreeably to, my wish; for," etc. It is this promise of
Moses which is here resumed by Joel, with whom, subsequently. Is. in
chap. xxxii. 15, "Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high;"
chap. xi. 9, liv. 13; Jer. xxxi. 33, 34; Ezek. xxxvi. 26 ff., and Zech.
xii. 10, connect themselves. The ultimate reference of the promise is
to the Messianic time; but the reference to the preparatory steps must
not, for this reason, be by any means excluded. The announcement of the
pouring out of the Spirit rests upon the insight into the nature of
God's relation to His kingdom. God's judgments, in which He draws near
to His people, in which the abstract God becomes a concrete God, excite
in the people a longing for a union with Him. Teachers sent by God give
a right direction to this longing, and then an outpouring of the Spirit
takes place. This proceeding does, and must continually, repeat itself
in the history of the Covenant-people. The perfect fulfilment at the
time of Christ could [Pg 333] not at all have taken place, unless the
imperfect fulfilment had already pervaded their whole earlier history;
and that there is, in the prophecy under consideration, no reference at
all to such imperfect fulfilments, could be maintained only, if there
existed in the text any hint that the prophet intended to speak of only
the last realization of the idea. But as the exclusion of all the
preliminary stages is entirely arbitrary, it is just as arbitrary to
separate, from the events which make up the main fulfilment in the
Messianic time, one particular event, viz., that which took place on
the first day of Pentecost. It is only to a certain extent that we can
affirm that the prophecy found its final fulfilment in this event,
viz., in as far as it formed the pledge of it,--in as far as the whole
succeeding development and progress were already contained in it,--in
as far as Joel's prophecy in words was then changed into an infinitely
more powerful prophecy in deeds. It is from overlooking the relation of
the prophecy to the thought which animates it, and from the error
arising from this, viz., that the fulfilment must necessarily fall
within a particular, limited period, that the various opposite
interpretations had their rise (compare the copious enumeration and
representation of these in _Dresde_, _Comparatio Joelis de Effusione
Spir. S. vatic. c. Petrina interpret._ _Wittemb._ 1782, _Spec._ 2), all
of which are partially true, and are false only by their one-sidedness
and exclusiveness. 1. Several interpreters think of an event at the
time of Joel. Thus Rabbi _Moses Hakkohen_, according to _Abenezra_,
_Teller_ on _Turrettine de interpret._ p. 59, _Cramer_ on the
_Scythische Denkmäler_, p. 221.--2. Others insist on an exclusive
reference to the first Pentecost. Thus do almost all the Fathers of the
Church--among whom, however, _Jerome_ (on Joel iii. 1) felt the great
difficulties in the way of this view, arising from the context--and
most of the later Christian interpreters.--3. Others would refer it at
the same time to the events in Joel's time, and to those at the first
Pentecost. Of this opinion are _Ephraem Syr._, _Grotius_, and
_Turrettine_.--4. Others place the fulfilment altogether in the future.
Thus did the Jews as early as in the time of _Jerome_, and afterwards
Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbanel.--5. Others, finally, find in the first
Pentecost the beginning only of the fulfilment, and regard it as
pervading the whole Christian time. Thus, _e.g._, _Calovius_ (_Bibl.
illustr. ad. h. l._) says: "Although [Pg 334] that prophecy began to be
fulfilled in a remarkable manner on that feast of the Pentecost, yet
its reference is not to that solemn event only, but to the whole state
of these last, or New Testament times, _just after the manner of other
general promises_." These last words show that _Calovius_ was very near
the truth. But if the promise be a general one, by what are we entitled
to place the beginning of its fulfilment only at the times of the New
Testament, and to exclude all of that same gift which God bestowed in
Old Testament times? The insufficiency of the foundation for such a
limitation in the text itself is proved by the following confession of
_Dresde_ (l. c. p. 8), who even believes himself obliged to defend such
a limitation from the authority of the Apostle Peter, and to whom it
did not at all occur, that any other reference than to some particular
event was even possible: "It appears, therefore," he says, "that the
prophecy, considered in itself, is so expressed, that no one, except
the first author of the prophecy, will be able convincingly to define
the exact event to which it really refers." We shall afterwards see
that the testimony of the New Testament to which _Dresde_ here alludes,
does not by any means demand such a limitation. We have seen that Joel
points to a fourfold oppression of Israel by the world's power. The
_main_ fulfilment we must then expect at the time of the fourth; but
this can scarcely be the first fulfilment; for we cannot imagine that
the former calamities should have passed over the people altogether
without effect; and the divine gift of the Spirit goes always hand in
hand with the susceptibility of the people. By proving that fourfold
oppression, we have also furnished the proof that the prophecy of the
outpouring of the Spirit has a comprehensive character.--From the
already established reference of the אחרי־כן to the בראשון in chap. ii.
23, it is obvious that it is not so much a determination of the
succession of time, as of a succession in point of importance, which is
thereby given. Among the two effects of the mission of the Teacher of
righteousness, first, the lower, and then, the higher, presents itself
to the view of the prophet. The determination of time is not the
essential point; that serves only to illustrate the internal relation
of these two events, the gradation of these divine blessings; although
we are able to demonstrate that, even as regards time, the prophecy was
fulfilled in this order. For after the destruction by the [Pg 335]
Chaldeans, the temporal blessings were restored to the people, before
the main fulfilment of the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
took place; compare Ps. cvii. 33-42 with Joel ii. 25-27.--The words, "I
shall pour out," refer to the rain in ver. 23. The idea of copiousness,
opposed to the former scantiness, is indeed implied in it. Yet it must
not be exclusively considered; the qualities of the rain alluded to in
ver. 24 ff.--viz., the quickening of what was previously dead, the
fructifying power--must not be overlooked.--The words, "Upon all
flesh," are, by most of the Jewish interpreters (_e.g._, _Kimchi_,
_Abenezra_; compare _Lightfoot_ and _Schöttgen_ on Acts ii. 16, 17),
referred to the members of the Covenant-people only; but by the
Christian interpreters, whom even Abarbanel joins, to all men. So,
still, does _Steudel_ in the _Tübinger Pfingst-Programm_, 1820, p. 11.
But in this latter explanation, one thing has been overlooked--as,
among the older interpreters, has been well shown by _Calvin_,[1] and
among the more recent, by _Tychsen_ (_progr. ad h. l._ p. 5)--viz.,
that the  subsequent words, "Your sons, your daughters, your old men,
your young men, the servants, the handmaids," contain a specification
of the בשר; so that the _all_, by which it is qualified, does not do
away with the limitation to a particular people, but only with the
limits of sex, age, and rank, among the people themselves. The
participation of the Gentiles in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost did
not, in the first instance, come into consideration in this place,
inasmuch as the threatening of punishment, with which the proclamation
of salvation is connected, had respect to the Covenant-people only.
_Credner_ has been led into a strange error, by pressing the words
כל־בושר without any regard to the connection. He imputes to the prophet
the monstrous idea, that the Spirit of God, the fountain of all which
is good and great, well pleasing to God, and divine, is to be poured
out upon all animals also, even upon the locusts.--The foundation for
the promise of the  Holy Spirit is formed by Gen. ii. 7, compared with
i. 26. It supposes that the spirit of man, as distinguished from all
other living things [Pg 336] on earth, is a breath from God.--There is
here, moreover, the same contrast betwixt בשר and רוח as in Gen. vi. 3
and Is. xxxi. 3: "The Egyptians are men, and not God; their horses are
flesh, and not spirit." (Compare other passages in _Gesenius'_
_Thesaurus_, _s. v._ p. 249.) _Flesh_, in this contrast, signifies
human nature with respect to its weakness and helplessness; the
_spirit_ is the principle of life and strength. As "your sons," etc.,
is a specification of all flesh, so, the words, "They prophesy, they
dream dreams, they see visions," are a specification of: "I pour out My
Spirit." From this, it is evident that the particular gifts do not here
come into consideration according to their individual nature, but
according to that essential character which is common to them as
effects of the Spirit of God. Hence it is obvious also, that we are not
at liberty to ask why it is just to the sons and daughters that the
prophesying is ascribed, etc. The prophet, whose object it is only to
individualize and expand the fundamental thought, _i.e._, the
universality of the effects of the Spirit, chooses for this purpose the
extraordinary gifts of the Spirit,[2] because these are more obvious
than the ordinary ones; and from among the extraordinary ones, again,
those which were common under the Old Testament; without thereby
excluding the others, or, as regards the real import, adding anything
to the declaration, "I will pour out My Spirit." This appears also from
ver. 2, where, in reference to the servants and handmaids, the
expression returns to the former generality. In distributing the gifts
of the Spirit among the particular classes, the prophet has been as
little guided by any internal considerations, as, _e.g._, Zechariah,
when in chap. ix. 17 he uses the words, "Corn maketh the young men grow
up, and must, the maids." The remark made by _Credner_ and _Hitzig_,
after the example of _Tychsen_, that visions are ascribed to vigorous
youth, but dreams to feebler age, appears at once, from an examination
of the historical [Pg 337] instances, and from the comparison of Num.
xii. 6, to be unfounded. "Your sons and your daughters prophesy," etc.,
is equivalent to: "Your sons and your daughters, your old men and your
young men, prophesy, have _divine_ dreams (a limitation to such is
implied in their being the effects of the outpouring of the Spirit),
and see visions;" and this again is equivalent to: "They will enjoy the
Spirit of God, with all His gifts and blessings." In this, and in no
other way, has the passage been constantly understood among the Jews.
If it had been otherwise, how could Peter have so confidently declared
the events on the feast of Pentecost, where there occurred neither
dreams nor visions, to be a fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel? It is
implied, however, in the nature of the case, that, in the principal
fulfilments of the prophecy of Joel, the extraordinary gifts of the
Spirit should be accompanied by the ordinary ones; for the former are
the witnesses and means of the latter, although, at the same time, the
basis also on which they rest; so that times like those which are
described in 1 Sam. iii. 1, where the Word of God is precious in the
country, and there is no prophecy spread abroad, must necessarily be
poor in the ordinary gifts of grace also. It is not in the essence, but
only in the form of manifestation, that the extraordinary gifts differ
from the ordinary ones,--just as Christ's outward miracles differ from
His inward ones.

Ver. 2. "_And upon the servants also, and upon the handmaids, I will
pour out My Spirit in those days._"

_Credner_ refers this to the Hebrew prisoners of war, living as
servants and handmaids among heathen nations, far away from the Holy
Land. But if the prophet had this in view, he must necessarily have
expressed himself with greater distinctness. Moreover, the relation to
the preceding verse requires that, as the difference of sex and age was
there done away with, so no allowance should here be made for the
difference of rank. The גם shows that the extension of the gifts of the
Spirit even to servants and handmaids, who, to the carnal eye, appeared
to be unworthy of such distinction, is to be considered as something
unexpected and extraordinary. That there is very little correctness in
the assertion of _Credner_, that "there could have been scarcely any
doubt as regards the participation of the Hebrew [Pg 338] slaves," is
sufficiently shown by the fact, that Jewish interpreters have
attempted, in various ways, to lessen the blessing here promised to the
servants and handmaids. Even the translation of the LXX. by, ἐπὶ τοὺσ
δούλουσ μου καὶ ἐπὶ τὰσ δούλασ μου, may be considered as such an
attempt. In the place of the servants of men, who appeared to them
unworthy of such honour, they put the servants of God. _Abarbanel_
asserts that the Spirit of God here means something inferior to the
gift of prophecy, which is bestowed only upon the free people. Instead
of regarding the Spirit of God as the root and fountain of the
particular gifts mentioned in the preceding verse, he sees in Him only
an isolated gift,--that of an indefinite knowledge of God. But such a
view is opposed even by the relation of the words, "I will pour out My
Spirit," in ver. 2, to the same words in ver. 1; and also by Is. xi. 2,
where "Spirit of God" is likewise used in a general sense, and
comprehends within itself all that follows. It is not without design
that the fact is so prominently brought out in the New Testament, that
the Gospel is preached to the poor, and that God chooses that which is
mean and despised in the eye of the world. The natural man is always
inclined to suppose that that which is esteemed by the world must be so
by God also. This is sufficiently evident from the deep contempt of the
Pharisees for the ὄχλοι; compare, _e.g._, John vii. 49.

Ver. 3. "_And I give wonders in the heavens, and on earth; blood, and
fire, and vapour of smoke._"

The mercy bestowed upon the Congregation of God is accompanied by the
judgment upon her enemies. Since the Congregation has again become the
object of His favour, especially in consequence of the Holy Spirit
being poured out upon her, it cannot be but that He will protect her
against the persecution of the world, and avenge her upon it. In vers.
3 and 4, the _precursors_ of the judgment (_before_ cometh, ver. 4) are
described, and in chap. iv. throughout, the judgment itself. There is
here an allusion to an event of former times, and which is now to be
repeated on a larger scale, viz., the plagues inflicted upon Egypt in
consequence of the same law. The prophet had specially in view the
passage, Deut. vi. 22: "And the Lord gave signs and wonders, great and
sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household before our
eyes."--The wonders are divided [Pg 339] into those which are in
heaven, and those which are on earth; then those which are on earth are
in this verse designated individually; and afterwards, in ver. 4, those
which are in heaven. With regard to the former, many interpreters (the
last of whom is _Credner_) understand by the "blood," bloody defeats of
the enemies of Israel; by "fire and smoke," their towns and habitations
consumed by fire. But this interpretation cannot be entertained. The
very designation by מופתים indicates that we have here to think of
extraordinary phenomena of nature, the symbolical language of which is
interpreted by the evil conscience, which recognises in them the
precursors of coming judgment. This is confirmed also by the more
particular statement of the signs in heaven, in ver. 4; for the signs
on earth must certainly be of the same class as these. It is confirmed
likewise by a comparison with the type of former times, which we have
pointed out; for it is from this, that the blood is directly taken. The
first plague is thus announced in Exod. vii. 17: "Behold, I smite with
the rod in mine hand upon the waters in the river, and they are turned
into blood." _Jalkut Simeoni_ (in _Schöttgen_, p. 210) remarks: "The
Lord brought blood upon the enemies in Egypt: thus also shall it be in
future times; for it is written, I will give wonders, blood and fire."
The same is the case as respects the fire. Exod. ix. 24: "And there
came hail, and _fire mingled_ with the hail." It is more natural to
suppose that the prophet borrowed these features, as, in the former
description of the judgment upon Israel, the plague of the locusts lies
at the foundation, and as the contents of the following verse have
likewise their prototype in those events. Compare Exod. x. 21: "And the
Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward the heaven, and let
there be darkness over the land of Egypt." That it is not real blood
which is here meant, but that only which, by its blood-red colour,
reminds of blood (comp. _e.g._, "Waters red as blood," 2 Kings iii.
22), is shown by the fundamental passage, Exod. vii. 17, where the
water which had become red is called simply blood; compare my work on
_Egypt and the Books of Moses_, p. 106. Blood brings into view the
shedding of blood; the fiery phenomena announce that the fire of the
anger of God, and the fire of war, will be enkindled; compare remarks
on i. 19, 20.--The word תימרות requires a renewed investigation.
Interpreters [Pg 340] uniformly explain it by "pillars,"--a
signification which is altogether destitute of any foundation; for the
Chaldee תלרה, to which they refer, is not found with the signification
"pillar." Such a meaning is quite inappropriate in the single passage
quoted by _Buxtorf_; the signification "smoke," or "cloud of smoke," is
necessarily required in that place. As little are we at liberty to
appeal to תמר, "palm," with which תימרה has nothing at all to do. The
י, which would be without any analogy if derived from תמר (compare
_Ewald_ on _Song of Sol._ iii. 6), requires the derivation from ימר.
The word תימרה is a noun formed from the 3d pers. _fem. Fut._ of this
verb with ה affixed (compare, on these nouns, the remarks on Hos. ii.
14, and my work on _Balaam_, p. 434), and, as to its form, it
corresponds exactly with תמורה, derived from the 3d _fem. Fut._ of the
verb מור. There cannot now be any doubt regarding the signification of
ימר. Is. lxi. 6, and Jer. ii. 11, where המיר and הימיר occur in the
same verse, show that it corresponds entirely with מור. Hence _Ewald_
(l. c.) is wrong in identifying it with אמר, the alleged meaning of
which is "to be high." Now in Hebrew, מור and ימר occur only in the
derived signification of "to transform," "to change," "to exchange;"
but the primary signification is furnished by the Arabic, where it
means: _huc illuc latus, agitatus fuit,--fluctuavit._ (Compare the
thorough demonstration by _Scheid_, _ad cant. Hisk._ p. 159 sqq.)
תימרות can accordingly signify only "clouds" or "_vortices_." (In
Arabic, מור means "dust agitated by the wind.") The connection of this
signification with that of "_palpehrae_," "eye-lids," in which it
occurs in the Talmudic and Rabbinical languages, is very obvious. They
were so called from their continual motion hither and thither. Such a
connection, however, we must the more easily be able to prove, because
that Talmudic and Rabbinical use of the word cannot be derived from any
other root than an ancient Hebrew one. The ἀτμίς of the LXX. likewise
leads to our interpretation, rather than to the prevailing one. The
former is, in the only passage in which תימרות occurs, besides the one
under consideration, and where it likewise occurs in the connection
with עשן, viz., in Song of Sol. iii. 6, at least as suitable as the
latter. We have to think here of such phenomena as those which are
described in Exod. xix. 18: "And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke,
because the Lord had descended upon [Pg 341] it in fire, and the smoke
thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace." Here, as well as there,
the fire, and the accompanying smoke, represent, in a visible manner,
the truth that God is πῦρ καταναλισκον, Heb. xii. 29. The clouds of
smoke are the sad forerunners of the clouds of smoke of the divine
judgments upon the enemies, and of the fire of war, in the form of
which the former commonly appear. Compare Is. ix. 18, 19: "And they
mount up like the lifting up of smoke.... And the people became as the
fuel of fire; no man spareth his brother." The belief--which pervades
all antiquity--that the angry Deity announced the breaking in of
judgments through the symbolical language of nature, is very
remarkable. This belief cannot be a mere delusion, but must have a deep
root in the heart. Nature is the echo and the reflection of the
disposition of man. If there prevail within him a fearful expectation
of things to come, because he feels his own sin, and that of his
people, all things external harmonize with that expectation; and, most
of all, that which is the natural image and symbol of divine punitive
justice, which would not, however, be acknowledged as such, were it not
for the interpreting voice within. Having regard to this relation of
the mind to nature, God, previous to great catastrophes, often causes
those precursors of them to appear more frequently and vividly, than in
the ordinary course of nature. In a manner especially remarkable, this
took place previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Compare
_Josephus_, _d. Bell. Jud._ iv. 4, 5. "For during the night, a fearful
storm arose,--there arose boisterous winds with the most violent
showers, continual lightnings and awful thunders, and tremendous
noises, while the earth was shaken. It was, however, quite evident that
the condition of the universe was put into such disorder for the
destruction of men, and almost every one conjectured that these were
the signs of impending calamity." A great number of other signs and
precursors are mentioned by him in _B. J._ vi. 5, § 3. These will never
be altogether absent, as certainly as punishment never comes without
sin, and sin never exists without the consciousness, without the
expectation, of deserved judgment. But the chief point in this mode of
viewing things, is not the sign itself, but the disposition of mind
which interprets it,--the consciousness of guilt, which fills the soul
with the thought of an avenging God,--the [Pg 342] _condition of
filings which brings into view the infliction of the judgment._ It is
by this that we can account for the circumstance that; in the Old
Testament, the darkening of the sun and moon, and other things,
frequently appear as _direct images_ of sad and heavy times.

Ver. 4. "_The sun is turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,
before there cometh the great and terrible day of the Lord._"

Among all interpreters, _Calvin_ has given the most admirable
interpretation of this verse: "When the prophet says that the sun shall
be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, these are
metaphorical expressions, by which he indicates that the Lord will show
signs of His wrath to all the ends of the earth, as if a whole
revolution of nature were to take place, in order that men may be
stirred up by terror. For, as sun and moon are witnesses of God's
fatherly kindness towards us, as long as, in their changes, they
provide the earth with light, so will they, on the other hand, says the
prophet, be the messengers of the angry and offended God.--By the
darkness of the sun, by the bloody appearance of the moon, by the black
cloud of smoke, the prophet intended to express the idea, that
wheresoever men should turn their eyes, upwards or downwards, many
things would appear to fill them with terror. Hence the language of the
prophet amounts to this:--that never had the state of things in the
world been so miserable,--that never had there appeared so many and so
terrible signs of the anger of God."--We have already seen that the
prophet has before his eye the Egyptian type. The darkness upon the
whole land of Egypt, while there was light in the dwellings of the
Israelites, represented, in a deeply impressive manner, the anger of
God in contrast with His grace, of which the symbol is the shining of
His heavenly lights. The extinction of these is, in Scripture,
frequently the forerunner of coming divine judgments, or an image of
those which have been already inflicted; compare the remarks on Zech.
xiv. 6. Thus it has already occurred in the Book of Joel itself, in the
description of the former judgment; compare ii. 2: "Day of darkness and
gloominess, day of clouds and mist;" ii. 10: "Before Him quaketh the
earth, and trembleth the heaven; the sun and the moon mourn, and the
stars withdraw their shining." Thus it returns in iv. [Pg 343] 14, 15:
"The day of the Lord is near in the valley of judgment. The sun and the
moon mourn, and the stars withdraw their shining." The passages in
which, as in the one before us, the extinction has not a _figurative_,
but a _typical_ character, must not be limited to a single phenomenon.
Everything by which the brightness of the heavenly luminaries is
clouded or darkened, eclipses of the sun or moon, earthquakes,
thunderstorms, etc., fill with fear those in whose hearts the sun of
grace has set.

Ver. 5. "_And it comes to pass, every one who calls on the name of the
Lord is saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be such as have
escaped, as the Lord hath said, and amongst those who are spared is
whomsoever the Lord calleth._"

We must first determine the signification of פליטה. The greater number
of interpreters explain it by "deliverance;" but it means rather "that
which has escaped." This appears, 1. from the form. It is the fem. of
the Adj. פליט, the ־־ִ־י of which has arisen from ־־ֵ־ by means of
lengthening; hence it is that פְלֵיטָה is thrice formed without ־־ִ־י. It
is, then, an adjective of intransitive signification. Now it is true
that, by means of the feminine termination, adjectives are changed into
abstract nouns, but never into such as indicate an action; but always
into such only for which, in Latin and Greek, the neuter of the
adjective might be used. This, however, is here inadmissible. 2. To
this must be added the constant use; as in Is. xxxvii. 31, 32: "And
_that which has escaped_ (פליטת) of the house of Judah, the _remnant_,
taketh root downward, and beareth fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem
shall go forth a _remnant_ (שארית), and _that which has escaped_ out of
Mount Zion,"--a passage exactly parallel to the one under consideration
(compare also the following words in Is. xxxvii. 32: "For the zeal of
the Lord will do this," with "As the Lord hath said," here). Is. iv. 2:
"To that which has escaped," with which, "That which is left in Zion,
and that which remaineth in Jerusalem," in the following verse, is
identical; Is. x. 20: "The remnant (שאר) of Israel, and that which has
escaped of the house of Jacob;" Obad. ver. 17: "And upon Mount Zion
shall be that which has escaped,"--which forms an antithesis to ver. 9:
"And man shall be cut off from the Mount of Esau;" and _finally_--Gen.
xxxii. 9 (8): "And the camp which has been left is for [Pg 344] the
escaped." There does not thus remain a single passage in which the
signification "deliverance" is even the probable one. The passages in
Jeremiah, where שריד ופליט occur together (xlii. 17, xliv. 14; Lam. ii.
2), show that פליטה here is not different from שרידים in the subsequent
clause of the verse.--The expression קרא בשם יהוה never is used of a
merely outward invocation, but always of such as is the external
expression of the faith of the heart; compare the remarks on Zech. xiv.
9. Even on account of this stated condition, it is not possible to
think of the deliverance of the promiscuous multitude of Israel, in
contrast with that of the Gentiles; for the condition is one which is
purely internal, and it affords an important hint for the right
understanding of what follows. The כי by which it is connected remains
inexplicable, if Mount Zion and Jerusalem be considered as a place of
safety and deliverance for all who are there externally. The same thing
is evident from פליטה. The sense is not by any means that all the
inhabitants of Zion and Jerusalem shall be delivered; but that there
shall be some who have escaped--viz., those who call on the name of the
Lord; while those who do not, shall be consumed by the divine judgment.
The second condition stated by the prophet--that of being called by the
Lord--is in like manner internal. The words אֲשֶׁר יְהוָֹה קֹרֵא have so
evident a reference to אֲשֶׁר־יִקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה, that we cannot at all
suppose, as _Credner_ does, that they refer to other subjects. On the
contrary, they who _call on_ the Lord, are also they whom _He calls_
from the general calamity into His protecting presence; and the prophet
has endeavoured, by the choice of the words, to bring out into view the
close connection of these two parties. They who call on the Lord, and
they whom the Lord calls (_Maurer's_ explanation: "And among those who
have escaped is every one who calls on the Lord" [compare Ps. xiv. 4],
gives a very feeble tautology), are the very same upon whom, according
to vers, 1 and 2, the fulness of the Spirit has been poured out.--The
words, "As the Lord has said," indicate, that the faithful ones may
safely take comfort from this promise; inasmuch as it is not the word
of men, but of God. We may see, from such parallel passages as Is. i.
20, xiv. 5, lviii. 14, how little reason we have for thinking that the
prophet here refers to some other prophecy. That the prophet, and not
the Lord Himself, is speaking in this verse, [Pg 345] is evident from
the words: "Who calls on the name _of the Lord_." It was, therefore,
very suitable to show, that it was by Immediate, divine commission that
the prophet had given utterance to the consolatory promise, that the
people of God would escape in these great and heavy judgments which
were to come upon the world. That it is very natural for believers to
fear that the punishments which threaten the world should fall upon
them also who are living _in_ the world, is shown by Rev. vii., the aim
of which is, throughout, to allay the anxious fear which might arise in
believers when considering the judgments which threaten the world. The
relation of the whole verse to what precedes and follows is this:--In
vers. 3 and 4, the prophet had stated the signs and forerunners of the
great and fearful day of the Lord. Now he points to the only, and the
absolutely sure means of standing on that day. Then, in chap. iv.,
which is connected by כי, he describes the judgment itself.

If, now, we endeavour to discover the historical reference of vers.
3-5, we are met by a great variety of opinions. It is referred to the
destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, by _Grotius_, _Cramer_,
_Turrettine_ (_de Scrip, s. interpret._ p. 331); among the Socinians,
in the _Raccovian Catechism_, p. 22, and by _Oeder_; and among the
Arminians, by _Episcopius_ in the _Instit. Theol._ p. 198. Others (as
_Jerome_) think of the resurrection of the Lord; others (as _Luther_)
of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; others (as _Münster_, _Capell_,
_Lightfoot_, _Dresde_, l.c. p. 22) of the destruction by the Romans. It
is referred to the judgment upon the enemies of the Covenant-people
soon after the return from the Babylonish captivity, by _Ephraem
Syrus_; to the impending overthrow of Gog, at the time of the Messiah,
by the Jewish interpreters; to the general judgment, by _Tertullian_,
_Theodoret_, and _Crusius_, In _Theol. Prophet._ i. p. 621; and to the
destruction of Jerusalem, and the general judgment at the same time, by
_Chrysostom_ and others.

The great variety of these references has arisen solely from the
circumstance, that the prophecy has not been reduced to its fundamental
idea. This fundamental idea is:--The manifestation of God's punitive
justice upon all which is hostile to His kingdom, which runs parallel
with the manifestation of His grace towards the subjects of His
kingdom. This idea appears here, in all its generality, without any
temporal limitation [Pg 346] whatsoever. Not one of these
interpretations, therefore, can be absolutely right. They differ only
in this, that some of them are altogether false, inasmuch as they
assume a reference to events which do not at all fall under the
fundamental idea; while others are only limited and partial views of
the truth.

To the first of these classes belong evidently the references to the
resurrection, and to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. It is only by
detaching these verses from the following chapter that such a view
could arise. These events stand in no relation whatsoever to the
animating thought of the passage. There is a certain relation to that
thought in the reference to the destruction by the Chaldeans, in so far
as this was really a manifestation of divine punitive justice. But the
reference to this event would be admissible here, only if the prophet
were describing the manifestation of divine punitive justice _in
general_. But such is not the case. The comparison of chap. i. and ii.
shows that the subject of the prophecy is rather the manifestation of
divine justice in reference to those who are enemies to the kingdom of
God. The defenders of such a view have altogether misunderstood the
structure of the prophecy of Joel; for, otherwise, they would have seen
that that event belongs to the threatening of judgment in chap. i. and
ii., where the judgment upon the house of God is described; while,
here, there is a description of the judgment upon those who are

The same argument seems, at first sight, to apply also to the
destruction by the Romans. But on a closer examination, there appears
to be a difference betwixt these two events, and one which brings the
latter far more within the scope of the prophecy. The destruction by
the Romans was much more intimately connected with a total apostasy and
rejection, than was that by the Chaldeans. Even before the former
destruction, and immediately after the death of Christ, the former
Covenant-people had sunk down to the rank of the Gentiles. They were no
more apostate children, who were, by means of punishment, to be brought
to reformation, but enemies, who were judged on account of their
hostile disposition towards the kingdom of God. Malachi, in chap. iii.
23 (iv. 5), shows that such a time would come when that, which they
imagined to be intended only for the heathen by descent, should be
realized upon Israel after the flesh. The verbal repetition of the
words, "Before there [Pg 347] cometh the great and dreadful day of the
Lord," and their application to the judgment upon Israel, can be
accounted for only by his intention to oppose the prevailing carnal
interpretation of the prophecy under consideration.

It will now be seen also, what the relation is which the phenomena at
the death of Christ, the darkening of the sun, the quaking of the
earth, the rending of the rocks (compare Matt. xxvii. 45, 51; Luke
xxiii. 44), occupy to the passage before us. They were like the מופתים
here, actual declarations of the divine wrath, and forerunners of the
approaching judgment; and they were recognised as such by the guilty,
to whom this symbolical language was interpreted by their consciences;
compare Luke xxiii. 48: Καὶ πάντες οἱ συμπαραγενόμενοι ὄχλοι; ἐπὶ τὴν
θεωρίαν ταύτην, θεωροῦντες τὰ γενόμενα, τύπτοντες ἑαυτῶν τὰ στήθη,

But we must not limit ourselves to the obduracy of the Covenant-people.
This we are taught, not only by the relation of chap. i. and ii. to iv.
2, but, with especial distinctness, by the renewal of this threatening
in Rev. xiv. 14-20, where the image of the vintage and winepress, in
particular, is borrowed from Joel; see iv. 12, 13. The objects of
judgment are there the heathen nations on account of their hostility to
the people of God, who, by Christ, and by the outpouring of the Spirit
procured by Him, have fully attained to that dignity. Nor is the
judgment there an isolated one. On the contrary, all which, in history,
is realized in an entire series of judicial acts, to be at last
consummated in the final judgment, is there comprehended in one great
harvest--in one great vintage.

We have still to make a few remarks upon the quotation in Acts ii. 16
ff. Nothing but narrow-mindedness and prejudice could deny that Peter
found, in the miracle of Pentecost, an actual fulfilment of the promise
in vers. 1 and 2. This becomes probable, not only from the
circumstance, that the reference of this prophecy to the Messianic time
was the prevailing one among the Jews (compare the passages in
_Schöttgen_, S. 413), but also from the translation of אחרי־כן by ἐν
ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις, by which, in the New Testament, the Messianic
time is always designated. To this must also be added the express
declaration in ver. 39, that the promise was unto the generation then
present. How could Peter have uttered such a declaration, [Pg 348] if
his view had been that the promise had found its fulfilment in a time
long gone past? At the same time, it is equally certain, that Peter was
so far from considering all the riches of the promise to be completely
exhausted by that Pentecostal miracle, that he rather considered it to
be only a beginning of the fulfilment,--a beginning, indeed, which
implies the consummation, as the germ contains the tree. This is quite
obvious from ver. 38: μετανοήσατε καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστοσ ὑμῶν.... καὶ
λήψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. How could Peter, referring to
the prophecy, promise the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised in the
prophecy to those who should be converted, if the prophecy was already
completely fulfilled? But it is still more apparent from ver. 39: Ὑμῖν
γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς εἰς μακρὰν,
ὄσους ἂν προσκαλέσηται Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν. The question is, who are to
be understood by those εἰς μακρὰν? No one could have doubted that the
Gentiles are thereby to be understood, unless two things altogether
heterogeneous had been confounded, viz., the uncertainty of Peter
concerning the _fact_ of the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom
of God, and his uncertainty concerning the _mode_ of their reception.
Considering the condition of the Old Testament prophecy, the latter is
easily accounted for; but the former cannot. To state only one from
among the mass of arguments which prove that Peter could not be
ignorant of the _fact_, we observe that the very manner in which, in
Acts iii. 25, he quotes the promise given to Abraham, that by his seed
the nations should be blessed, proves that he regarded the Gentiles as
partakers of the kingdom of Christ. This is rendered still more
incontrovertible by the πρῶτον in ver. 26. To understand, by εἰς
μακρὰν, foreign Jews, is inadmissible, for the single reason that these
were present in great numbers, and hence, were included in the term
ὑμῖν. Now Peter, throughout, addresses all those who were present. How
then could he have here confined himself, all at once, to a portion of
these I There is, moreover, a plain allusion to the close of Joel iii.
5, which the LXX. translate οὓς Κύριος προσκέκληται. This allusion
contains, at the same time, a proof of the concurrent reference to the
Gentiles, which is not in express words contained in the prophecy,
provided we do not put an arbitrary interpretation upon בשר. Attention
is thereby directed [Pg 349] to the fact, that, In that passage,
salvation, which requires, as its condition, a participation in the
outpouring of the Spirit, does not depend upon any human cause, but
solely upon the call of God--upon His free grace. In a manner entirely
similar, does St Paul, in Rom. x. 12, 13, prove, from the beginning of
Joel iii. 5, the participation of the Gentiles in the Messianic
kingdom: Οὐ γάρ ἐστι διαστολὴ Ἰουδαίου τε καὶ Ἕλληνος· ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς
Κύριος πάντων, πλουτῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν. Πᾶς γὰρ ὃς
ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίου, σωθήσεται. If the calling on God were
the condition of salvation, access to it was as free to the Gentiles as
to the Jews. But if the prophecy has a distinct reference to the still
unconverted Jews, their children and the Gentiles, it is then evident,
that, according to the view of the Apostle, it did not terminate in
that one instance of Its fulfilment, but that, on the contrary, it
extends just as far as the thing promised--as the outpouring itself of
the Holy Spirit. This clearly appears, also, from the allusions to the
passage under consideration. In the accounts of later outpourings of
the Spirit; compare, _e.g._, Acts x. 45, xi. 15, xv. 8. How, then, was
it even possible that Peter should have limited to the few who had
already, at that time, received the Spirit, a prophecy, in which the
idea of generality is, intentionally, made so prominent? But, even if
the universal character of the prophecy had been less distinct, Peter
would certainly not have thought of confining it in such a manner. Such
a gross and superficial view of the prophecies was far from Peter, as
well as from the other Apostles.

Another question remains to be answered. For what purpose does the
Apostle quote verses 3-5 also, inasmuch as, apparently, verses 1 and 2
alone properly served his purpose; and what sense did he put upon them?
The answer Is given In ver. 40: Ἑτέροις τε λόγοις πλείοσι διεμαρτύρετο,
καὶ παρεκάλει, λέγων· Σώθητε ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς τῆς σκολιᾶς ταύτης. Even in
the few words In which Luke communicates to us the brief summary of
what Peter spoke In this respect, a reference to the passage under
consideration has been preserved to us. Peter made use of the
threatening which was, in the first Instance, to be fulfilled upon the
dark refuse of the Covenant-people, In order to Induce them, by terror,
to seek a participation in the promise which alone could deliver them
[Pg 350] from the threatened judgment. That he succeeded in this, is
shown by the words, Ἐγένετο δὲ πάσῃ φόβος, in ver. 43. Several
interpreters have, by ver. 22, been led into a total misconception of
the sense in which Peter quotes vers. 3-5. It is true, certainly, that
the words τέρασι καὶ σημείοις are not used without reference to the
passage in Joel. Peter directs attention to the circumstance, that they
who, from their hardness of heart, do not acknowledge the τέρατα and
σημεῖα with which God accompanied the manifestation of His grace, shall
be visited by τέρατα and σημεῖα of a totally different nature, from the
fearful impression of which they shall not be able to escape.

But let us now in addition consider some of the particulars. In
substance, the quotation by Peter agrees with the LXX.; but deviations
occur on particular points. At the very beginning, the LXX., adhering
more closely to the Hebrew text, have: καὶ ἔσται μετὰ ταῦτα; whereas
Peter says: καὶ ἔσται ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις. The reason of this
deviation is, that the Apostle intends to determine, by this deviation,
the expression, which in itself is wider and more indefinite, in such a
manner that the period to which the prophecy specially refers, and
hence also its application to the case in question, should be rendered
more obvious. In a case entirely similar, Jeremiah, in chap. xlix. 6,
employs the wider term אחרי־כן, while in xlviii. 47 he makes use of the
more definite באחרית הימים. By the latter term, _Kimchi_ also explains
the אחרי־כן in the passage before us; while _Jarchi_ (compare
_Schöttgen_, S. 210) explains it by the equivalent term לעתיד לבא. The
words λέγει ὁ Θεός are wanting in the LXX., as well as in the original
Hebrew text. They have been taken from ver. 5, and, contrasted with τὸ
εἰρημένον διὰ τοῦ προφήτου Ἰωήλ, they direct attention to the divine
source of prophecy, and hence to the necessity of its fulfilment. The
two members, καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ὑμῶν ἐνύπνια ἐνυπνιασθήσονται, καὶ οἱ
νεανίσκοι ὑμῶν ὀράσεις ὄψονται, Peter has reversed; probably in order
to place the young men together with the sons and daughters, and to
assign the place of honour to the old men. In the δούλους μου and
δούλας μου, Peter follows the LXX., and that in a sense which only
expressly makes prominent a point really contained in the prophecy,
whether such was intended by the translators, or not; for the
circumstance that the servants of men were, at the same [Pg 351]time,
servants of God, formed the ground of their participation in the
promise. The same contrast is found, _e.g._, in 1 Cor. vii. 22, 23: Ὁ
γὰρ ἐν Κυρίῳ κληθεὶς δοῦλος ἀπελεύθερος Κυρίου ἐστίν· ὁμοίως καὶ ὁ
ἐλεύθερος κληθεὶς, δοῦλός ἐστι Χριστοῦ. Τιμῆς ἠγοράσθητε· μὴ γίνεσθε
δοῦλοι ἀνθρώπων; compare Gal. iii. 28; Philem. 10. Hence it is
equivalent to: Upon servants and handmaids of men who are, at the same
time, my servants and handmaids, and, therefore, in spiritual things of
equal rank with those who are free. To give prominence to this perfect
equality, is also the design of the additional clause: καὶ
προφητεύσουσι, subjoined after ἐκχεῶ ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύματός μου. The
circumstance that Peter thought it necessary to add this clause, which,
as we have proved, quite harmonizes with the design of the prophet,
seems to prove that, even at his time, interpretations were current, in
which an attempt was made to diminish, or altogether to take away, in
the case of servants and handmaids, their participation in those
blessings;--interpretations similar to those of _Abarbanel_, and even
of _Grotius_, who thus paraphrases the verse: "Even to those who seem
to be lowest, I will certainly impart, although not prophesying and
dreaming dreams, yet certain extraordinary and heavenly motions." The
antiquity of this false interpretation is attested by _Jerome_ also,
who probably was, in this respect, altogether dependent upon his Jewish
teachers. He interprets, indeed, the servants and handmaids
spiritually, and of such as have not the spirit of freedom he says:
"They shall neither have prophecies, nor dreams nor visions, but,
satisfied with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they shall possess
only the grace of faith and salvation."--In ver. 3, Peter adds ἄνω to
ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, and κάτω to ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, in order to make the contrast
more obvious and striking. All the deviations from the LXX., and the
original text, are thus of the same kind, and intended to bring out
more distinctly what is implied in the passage itself. Not one of them
need to be accounted for by the circumstance, that the Apostle quoted
from memory.

Footnote 1: He says: "The sense in which the universality must be
understood is clearly indicated by what follows. For, it is first said,
in general, 'All flesh,' and afterwards, a specification is added, by
which the prophet intimates, that age or sex will not constitute any
difference, but that God will bring them all, without any distinction,
into the communion of His grace."

Footnote 2: The two parallel members prove, in opposition to _Redslob_
and others, that the verb נבא here, as everywhere else, has reference
to an ecstatic condition, to the speaking in the Spirit, although this
is by no means limited to a revelation of the future. The closeness of
the connection between prophesying, dreaming dreams, and seeing
visions, is evident from Num. xii. 6, where visions and dreams appear
as the two principal forms of revelation to the נביא.

[Pg 352]

                            THE PROPHET AMOS.

                      GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

It will not be necessary to extend our preliminary remarks on the
prophet Amos, since on the main point--viz., the circumstances under
which he appeared as a prophet--the introduction to the prophecies of
Hosea may be regarded as having been written for those of Amos also.
For, according to the inscription, they belong to the same period at
which Hosea's prophetic ministry began, viz., the latter part of the
reign of Jeroboam II., and after Uzziah had ascended the throne in

The circumstances of the prophet we learn, generally, from the words in
chap. i. 1: "Who was among the herdmen of Tekoah." If there existed no
other statement than this, there might be truth in the remark made by
many interpreters, that we cannot, from his having been a herdman,
infer that he was poor and low. It is shown, however, by a statement in
chap. vii. 14, that, by the "herdman," we are not to understand one who
was also possessed of flocks, or, like David, the son of such, but a
poor servant herdman. For, in that passage, the prophet replies to the
command of the priest Amaziah to get himself out of the country, to
which he did not belong, and to return to his native land: "I am no
prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I am a herdman; and _such an one
as plucketh sycamores_. And the Lord took me from behind the flock, and
the Lord said unto me. Go prophesy unto My people Israel." The fruit of
the sycamores, called ἄτροφος and κακοστόμαχος by _Dioscorides_, served
as food for only the poorest and meanest. _Bochart_ (_Hieroz._ t. i. p.
407 [385] _Rosenmüller_) remarks: "It is the same as if he had said,
that he was a man of the humblest condition, and born in poor
circumstances, so that he scarcely maintained his life by scanty and
frugal fare; that he had never thought of obtaining the prophetical
office in Israel, until a higher power, viz., divine inspiration,
impelled him to undertake it."[1] But this passage merits our attention
in another [Pg 353] point of view. In what sense is it that Amos here
denies that he is a prophet? It is evidently in a very special sense
that he does so. He obviously does not mean thereby to deny that he
possessed the gift of prophecy, or held the prophetical office; for,
otherwise, he would himself have furnished weapons to his enemy, to
whom he wishes to prove his right. The following remarks will be found
to contain the true answer.

It cannot be proved in any way, that the schools of the prophets,
established by Samuel at a time when the circumstances of Judah and
Israel were altogether similar, were continued in the kingdom of Judah.
Every prophet there stands in an isolated position. The entire
prophetic order and institute bears rather a sporadic character. But in
the kingdom of Israel, where the prophetic order occupied a position
altogether different from that which it held in the kingdom of Judah,
inasmuch as, after the expulsion of the tribe of Levi, they had to
watch over all the interests of religion, the schools of the prophets
had a very important mission assigned to them. We must not by any means
imagine that their constitution was such, that after a few years'
training, the sons of the prophets attained to perfect independence.
The greater number of them remained during all their lifetime in the
position of sons. The schools of the prophets were a kind of
monasteries. Even those who, in consequence of their peculiar
circumstances, no longer remained there, but were scattered throughout
the country, continued always under their authority. One needs only to
read attentively the histories of Elijah and of Elisha, which afford us
the fullest information regarding these institutions, to be speedily
convinced of the soundness of the view which we have here presented. On
the subject of the organization of the schools of the prophets in the
kingdom of Israel, compare _Dissertations on the Genuineness of the
Pentateuch_, i. p. 185. f.

[Pg 354]

But how can Amos adduce it as a proof of his divine mission, that he is
neither a prophet, nor, in the sense explained, a prophet's son,
_i.e._, that he was neither a superior nor an inferior member of the
prophetic order? The answer is,--It was the result of that organization
of the prophetic order, that the relation to the Lord was one which was
more or less mediate. To those who would not acknowledge the immediate
divine influence, some ground was thereby afforded for doing so. Their
training, their principles, the form of their prophecies, all admitted
of a natural explanation. It is true that the _spirit_ which animated
them baffled any such attempt; but that spirit was not so easily
perceived. In the case of any one, then, who appeared as a prophet,
without standing in that connection, and yet in the full possession of
all prophetic gifts,--in demonstration of the spirit and of power, a
natural explanation was far more difficult; especially if, like Amos,
he was, by his outward situation, cut off from all human resources for
education. But was Amos, for that reason, an uneducated man? This is a
question which one may answer either in the affirmative or negative,
according to what he understands by education. So much is certain, that
he was in possession of the essential part of a true Israelitish
education--viz., the knowledge of the law. The most intimate
acquaintance with the Pentateuch everywhere manifests itself; compare
in proof of this the _Dissertations on the Genuineness of the
Pentateuch_, i. p. 136 ff. There are too many instances, down to most
recent times, of living piety breaking, in this respect, through almost
impenetrable barriers, to allow us to consider this as a strange thing,
and to make it necessary for us to excogitate the various ways and
means by which Amos may have received this education. It is only on the
lower ground of the mere forms of language, that the rank of Amos not
unfrequently appears. In all the higher relations he shows himself a
type of the Apostles, who, although they were uneducated fishermen of
Galilee, exhibit the most distinguishing proofs of true education.

Amos belonged to that circle of prophets who received a commission to
prophesy the ruin which was impending over the Covenant-people, before
any human probability existed for it. _Baur_, on Amos, S. 60, is of
opinion that "the definiteness with which he prophesies the destruction
of the kingdom of [Pg 355] Jeroboam, although its power was at that
time still flourishing, leads us to expect that he must have had
distinct indications of its speedy decay." In a certain sense we may
assent to this opinion. The prophet himself continually points to such
indications. These indications are the sins of the people. But if
_Baur_ endeavours to put political indications in the stead of these
moral ones; if he be of opinion that the Assyrians must, at that time,
have stood in a threatening attitude in the background, we must give to
his opinion a decided opposition. We can, in such an assertion, see
only an effect of that naturalistic mode of viewing things, which would
limit the horizon of the prophets to that of their own times.[2] Not
the slightest allusion to the Assyrians occurs. The supposition that
Calneh or Ktesiphon, in chap. vi. 2, appears as having already fallen
(through the Assyrians), rests upon an incorrect interpretation, just
as does the assertion that Hamath, in the same passage, is supposed to
be conquered; concerning the latter point, compare _Thenius_ on 2 Kings
xiv. 28. In the announcement of the carrying away into captivity beyond
Damascus, made in chap. v. 27, there appears nothing more than the
knowledge, that the catastrophe will not be brought about by that
heathen power which had hitherto brought ruin upon the kingdom of
Israel But, everywhere, we may see that the prophet--whom we have no
reason to think an especially ingenious politician--appeared at a time
when no one expected any danger. Amos prophesied at a time when the
morning-dawn had risen upon Israel, iv. 13, v. 8; "in the beginning of
the shooting up of the grass, and behold the grass was standing, after
the King (Jehovah) had caused to be mown," vii. 1; at a time when the
prosperity of the kingdom of the ten tribes was again budding forth. In
chap. viii. 9, the Lord threatens that He will cause the sun to go down
at noon, and bring darkness over the land in the day of _light_. In
chap. vi. 4-6, the prevailing careless luxury and [Pg 356] joy are
graphically described. Chap. v. 18 implies that the people mocked at
the threatening of the coming of the day of the Lord, the coming of
which could, therefore, not have been indicated by any human
probability. In chap. vi. 1, the prophet gives utterance to an
exclamation of woe over them that are secure in Zion, and that trust in
the mountain of Samaria. In chap. vi. 13, he opposes the delusion of
those "who rejoice in a thing of nought, who say, Have we not taken to
us horns by our own strength?" The people in the kingdom of the ten
tribes must accordingly have imagined that they were living in the
golden age of the fulfilment of Deut. xxx. 17, and must not have
thought for a moment that the axe was already laid to the root of the

But we are not at liberty to seek the fulfilment of the prophecy of
Amos, only in the visitation by the Assyrians. That which happens to
the people of the ten tribes is, to the prophet, only a part of a
general visitation, which comes, not only upon all the neighbouring
nations, but upon Judah also, and which brings utter ruin upon the
latter, chap. ii. 4, 5, destroying the temple at Jerusalem, and driving
the house of David from the throne, ix. 1, 11. According to prophecy
and history, however, this catastrophe came upon Judah, not by Asshur,
but, in the first instance, by Babylon.

The prophecy possesses a comprehensive character, such as we should be
led to expect from the close connection of Amos with Joel. It
comprehends everything which Judah and Israel, along with the
neighbouring people, had to suffer from the rising heathen powers;
compare vi. 14, v. 24, according to which, judgment shall roll down as
waters, and righteousness as a _continual_ stream.[3]

In the case of Amos, also, interpreters have been at considerable pains
in fixing the time and the occasion of the single portions, but with as
little success as in the cases of Hosea and Micah. The very inscription
proves that we have before us a whole, composed at one time, and
containing the substance of [Pg 357] what the prophet had uttered
previously, and in a detached form. According to this inscription, the
book was composed only two years after the prophet's personal ministry
in the kingdom of Israel. But if there were such an interval betwixt
the oral preaching of the prophet and its having been committed to
writing, it is, _a priori_, not likely that the latter should have
followed the former, step by step.

The words, "Two years before the earthquake," cannot be regarded as a
chronological date, intended to fix more definitely the exact time
within the more extended period previously stated, viz., "the days of
Uzziah and Jeroboam." For such a purpose they are ill suited, inasmuch
as the time of the earthquake is not fixed; and, moreover, any such
more definite determination would have been without either significance
or interest. This only was of importance, that the word of the Lord
should have been uttered in the days of Jeroboam, and that the prophecy
of the destruction should have been delivered at a time when the
Israelites enjoyed an amount of prosperity, such as they had not known
for a long time. It can scarcely be doubted that the earthquake under
Uzziah, the fearfulness of which is testified by Zech. xiv. 5, comes
under consideration only as the reason for the composition of the
book,--for committing to writing what had formerly been delivered
orally. The earthquake denotes, in the symbolical language of
Scripture, great revolutions, by which the form of the earth is
changed, and that which is uppermost, overturned; compare my remarks on
Rev. vi. 12. To point to such an earthquake had been the fundamental
thought of Amos' oral predictions. By the natural earthquake, he was
induced to commit them to writing, that they might go side by side with
the symbol, and serve as its interpreter.

There is a plan in the arrangement of the book, which indicates that
the book is not a collection of separate discourses, but that it bears
an independent character. It is distinctly divided into two parts,--the
first, made up of naked prophecies, from chap. i. to chap. vi.; the
second, of such prophecies as are connected with a symbol, which is
always very simple, and very briefly described,--from chap. vii. to
chap. ix.

In the first part, the prophet begins with the announcement of the
wrath of the Lord, ver. 2. He then reviews, in their [Pg 358] order,
those kingdoms upon which it shall be poured out, viz., Damascus,
Philistia, Tyrus, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah: until at last the storm
reaches to Israel, and, according to _Rückert's_ striking remarks,
remains suspended over it.

In addition to Israel, there are seven nations, and the seven are
divided into three, and four; three not related to the people of the
ten tribes, and four related to them; the brotherly people of Judah
being introduced after three nations have been mentioned which are more
distantly related to Israel.

According to _Rückert_, it is only in chap. ii. 6-16 that the storm
which remained suspended over Israel is described; then in chap.
iii.-vi. there follow four threatening discourses, which are not
connected either with the preceding ones, or with each other. But the
correct view rather is, that this stationary suspension is described in
the whole of the first half,--in the main, indeed, even to the end of
the book.

This is evident from the consideration that, if such were not the case,
the treatment of the main subject would be, as regards the extent of
the description, greatly disproportioned to the introduction; for chap.
i. to ii. 5 must be considered to be, throughout, merely introductory.
But as the ground on which we advance this assertion is made in
opposition to an unsound view, it requires a more particular
determination. It is assumed by many interpreters, that in the nations
besides Israel, the prophet reproves "some haughty excesses, but,
evidently, only as instances of the immorality prevailing" (_Jahn_,
_Einl._ 2, p. 404). But this view, according to which the prophet
might, instead of the various crimes mentioned, have noticed any other
crime, _e.g._, fornication, idolatry, etc., is certainly erroneous. It
is rather a _theocratic_ judgment of which he speaks throughout; they
are crimes against the theocracy, the punishment of which he announces.
These he considers as being more heinous than all others; for the guilt
of the latter is diminished by the circumstance of their having been
committed against the hidden God only, while the former have been
committed against the God who has manifested Himself, and who is living
among His people. For so much is evident, that the main cause of the
hatred of all the neighbouring nations against Israel was, that Israel
was the people of God. For where can an instance be found of a hatred
betwixt any [Pg 359] two of them, so inextinguishable, and continuing
through centuries? How entirely different is, _e.g._, the position of
Edom against Moab, from that of Edom against Israel? Three reasons
confirm the correctness of our assertion as to the purely theocratic
nature of the judgment. 1. The general announcement of the judgment.
"Jehovah roareth from Zion, and from Jerusalem He giveth His voice."
The very use of the name Jehovah here deserves attention. A judgment of
a general kind upon the heathen would belong to God as Elohim. It is
Elohim who is the God of the heathen,--the Creator, Preserver, and
Governor of the world, from whom blessings, as well as judgments upon
it, proceed. Now it might be said that Jehovah is used in the case of
the heathen also, for the sake of uniformity, because to Him belongeth
the judgment upon Judah and Israel. But that this is not the case, is
seen from the addition: "From Zion,--from Jerusalem." Every general
judgment proceeds from heaven; it is only as a theocratic God, that God
reigns in Zion and Jerusalem. This argument admits of no exception; all
that God does from Zion is theocratic deliverance, or theocratic
judgment.--2. The nature of the crimes themselves, which are cited by
way of example. It can certainly not be merely accidental, that they
are all such as were committed against the Covenant-people. There is
one only which forms an apparent exception, viz., that of the Moabites,
who are, in chap. ii. 1, charged with having burned into lime the bones
of the king of Edom. But, with the consent of the greater number of
interpreters, _Jerome_ remarks on this: "In order that God might show
that He is the Lord of all, and that every soul is subject to Him who
formed it. He punishes the iniquity committed against the king of
Edom." But in this remark of Jerome, the relation in which Idumea stood
to the Covenant-people is altogether lost sight of. It is only as a
vassal of their kings that the king of Edom here comes into view. This
is sufficiently manifest from 2 Kings iii., although the event narrated
there is different from that which is here alluded to, of which no
record has been preserved in history.[4] The hatred against the
Covenant-people, which the [Pg 360] Moabites were too weak openly to
exhibit, impelled them to this wicked deed against the king tributary
to them.--3. It must be carefully observed how the prophet, when coming
to Judah, introduces us, at once, into the centre of _theocratic_
transgression, the forsaking of the living God, and the serving of
vain, dead idols.

It will now be easily seen in what way the portion, chap. i.-ii. 5,
serves as an introduction to what follows. The prophecies against
foreign nations do not, as elsewhere, serve as a consolation, or as a
proof of the love of God towards His people, and of His omnipotence, or
as a means for destroying confidence in man's power, in man's help;
they are, on the contrary, intended, from the very outset, to give rise
in Israel to the question: If such be done in the green tree, what
shall be done in the dry? That question the prophet answers at large.
If severe punishment be inflicted, even upon those who have trespassed
against the living God, with whom they came into contact only
distantly, what will become of those to whom He manifested Himself so
plainly and distinctly,--among whom He had, as it were, gained a
form,--before whose eyes He had been so evidently set forth? The
declaration, "You only do I know of all the families of the earth;
therefore I shall visit upon you all your iniquities" (iii. 2), forms
the centre of the whole threatening announcement to Israel. And could
it indeed be introduced in any better way than by pointing out, how
even the lowest degree of knowledge was followed by such a visitation?
But now, that which under the Old Testament was the highest degree,
becomes, under the New Testament, only a preparatory step. The
revelation of God in Christ stands in the same relation to that made to
Israel under the Old Testament, as the latter stands to the
manifestation of His character and nature to the heathen, who came into
connection with the Covenant-people. Thus the fulfilment becomes to us
a new prophecy. If the rejection of God, in His inferior revelation,
was followed by such awful consequences to the temporal welfare of the
people of the Old Covenant, what must be the consequences of the
rejection of the highest and fullest revelation of God to the temporal
and spiritual welfare of the people of the New Covenant? This is a
thought which is further expanded in Heb. xii. 17 ff., and it forms the
essential feature of [Pg 361] the description of the judgment of the
world in the New Testament. This judgment has been but too often
thus misunderstood, as if it concerned the world as the world,--a
misunderstanding similar to that of the section before us. The Gospel
shall first be preached to every creature, and according as every one
has conducted himself towards the _living_ God, so he shall be
judged.--But it is not to the heathen nations only, but to Judah also
that, by way of introduction, destruction is announced. The
circumstance that not even the possession of so many precious
privileges, as the temple and the Davidic throne, could ward off the
well-merited punishment of sin, could not but powerfully affect the
hearts of the ten tribes. If God's justice be so energetic, what have
_they_ to expect?

If we continue the examination of _Rückert's_ view, it will soon appear
that the phrase, "Hear this word," in iii. 1, iv. 1, and v. 1,
can alone be considered as the foundation on which it rests. But
these words do not at all prove a new commencement, but only a new
starting-point. This appears sufficiently from the absence of these
words at the alleged fourth threatening discourse in chap. vi.; and
likewise from a comparison of Hosea iv. 1 and v. 1: "Hear the word of
the Lord, ye children of Israel," and "Hear this, ye priests, and
hearken, ye house of Israel, and give ear, house of the king;" while
nothing similar occurs in the following chapters. That such an
exhortation was appropriate, even in the middle, is clearly seen from
Amos iii. 13. It cannot then, _per se_, prove anything in favour of a
new beginning. If it is to be regarded as such, the discourse must be
proved, by other reasons, to have been completed. But no such reasons
here exist. We might as reasonably assume the existence of ten
threatening discourses, as of four. The circumstance that we can
nowhere discover a sure commencement and a clearly defined termination,
shows that we are fully justified in considering the whole first part,
chap. i. to vi., as a connected discourse.

The second part, which contains the visions of the destruction, is
composed, indeed, of various portions,--as might have been expected
from the nature of the subject. Each new vision, with the discourse
connected with it, must form a new section. Chap. vii., viii., and ix.,
form each a whole. From the account which is added to the first vision;
and which relates [Pg 362] to the transactions between Amos and the
high priest Amaziah, which were caused by the public announcement of
this vision (chap. vii. 12-14), we are led to suppose that these
visions were formerly delivered singly, in the form in which we now
possess them. But that, even here, we have not before us pieces loosely
connected with each other in a chronological arrangement, is evident
from the fact, that the promises stand just at the end of the whole
collection. The prophet had rather to reprove and to threaten than to
comfort; but yet he cannot refrain, at least at the close, from causing
the sun to break through the clouds. Without this close there would be
wanting in Amos a main element of the prophetic discourse, which is
wanting in no other prophet, and by which alone the other elements are
placed in a proper light.

It also militates against the supposition of a mere collection, that in
the last vision the prevailing regard to the kingdom of the ten tribes
disappears almost entirely, and that, like the third chapter of Hosea,
it relates to the whole of the Covenant-people,--in agreement with the
reference to the earthquake mentioned in the inscription, which the
prophet had experienced in Judah, and which brought into view, not a
particular, but a general, judgment.

The symbolical clothing, however, forms the sole difference betwixt the
second part and the first. As the "real centre and essence of the book"
the second part cannot be regarded; the threatening is as clear and
impressive in the first part.

That which is common to Amos with the contemporary prophets, is the
absolute clearness with which he foresees that, before salvation comes,
all that is glorious, not only in Israel, but in Judah also, must be
given over to destruction. Judah and Israel shall be overflowed by the
heathen world, the Temple at Jerusalem destroyed, the Davidic dynasty
dethroned, and the inhabitants of both kingdoms carried away into
captivity. But afterwards, the restoration of David's tabernacle (ix.
11), and the extension of the kingdom of God far beyond the borders of
the heathen world (ver. 12), take place. The most characteristic point
is the emanation of salvation from the family of David, at the time of
its deepest abasement.

Footnote 1: _Bochart_ remains unrefuted by the assertions of _Hitzig_,
_Baur_, and others, who make Amos the owner of a plantation of
sycamores, which, according to them, made him a wealthy man. בלס can be
understood only of the plucking, or gathering of the fruits of the
sycamores. The "cutting of the bark" is by no means obvious, and is too
much the language of natural history. That the prophet's real vocation
is designated by בוקר, and that בולס שקמים is not, by any means,
something independent of, and co-ordinate with that, appears from ver.
15, where the בוקר is resumed. The fruits of the sycamores may,
occasionally, not have a disagreeable taste, for him who eats them only
as a dainty; but they are at all events very poor ordinary food;
compare _Warnekros_ in _Eichhorn's Repert._ 11. 256.

Footnote 2: The groundlessness of such a mode of viewing things is
shown by the prophecy of events such as that mentioned in i. 15: "The
people of Aram are carried away to Kir, saith the Lord;" compare the
fulfilment in 2 Kings xvi. 9. They had originally come from Kir, Amos
ix. 7. This circumstance furnished the natural foundation for the
prophecy, and it was certainly this circumstance also which induced the
conqueror to adopt his measures. But the supernatural character of the
definite prophecy remains, nevertheless, unshaken.

Footnote 3: _Caspari_ in his commentary on Micah, S. 69, is wrong in
remarking: "Joel beholds the instruments of punitive justice upon
Israel, as numberless hosts only; Amos, already, as a single nation."
In Amos vi. 14 the גוי as little means a single nation, as it does in
the fundamental passage, Deut. xxviii. 49 ff., beyond the definiteness
of which Amos does not go.

Footnote 4: Scarcely any doubt can, however, be entertained that we
have here before us a _consequence_ of the war mentioned in 2 Kings
iii., viz., the vengeance which the Moabites took for what they
suffered on that occasion.

[Pg 363]

                               CHAPTER IX.

The chapter opens with a vision. The temple, shaken by the Angel of the
Lord in its very foundations, falls down, and buries Judah and Israel
under its ruins. Without a figure,--the breach of the Covenant by the
Covenant-people brings destruction upon them. The prophet endeavours to
strengthen the impression of this threatening upon their mind, by
breaking down the supports of false security by which they sought to
evade it. There is no deliverance, no escape, vers. 2-4, for the
Almighty God is the enemy and pursuer, vers. 5, 6. There is no mercy on
account of the Covenant, for Israel is no more the Covenant-people.
They shall not, however, be altogether destroyed; but the destruction
of the sinful mass shall be accompanied by the preservation of a small
number of the godly, vers. 7-10. This great sifting is followed,
however, by the restoration; the tabernacle of David which is fallen,
the kingdom of God among Israel, connected with the family of David,
shall be raised up again, ver. 11; rendered glorious by its extension
over the heathen, ver. 12; and blessed with the abundance of the divine
gifts, vers. 12-15.

                                * * * * *

Ver. 1. "_I saw the Lord standing over the altar; and He said, Smite
the chapiter, and make the thresholds tremble, and break them upon the
heads of all; and I will kill their remnant by the sword: he that
fleeth away of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them
shall not be delivered._"

The principal question which here arises is:--Who is here
addressed,--to whom is the commission of destruction given by the Lord?
As, in accordance with the dramatic character of the prophetical
discourse, the person is not more definitely marked out, we can think
of Him only who, throughout, executes God's judgments upon the enemies
of His kingdom. But He is the same to whom the preservation and
protection of the true members of His kingdom are committed, viz., the
Angel of the Lord. It was He, who, as המשחית, the destroying Angel,
smote the first-born of Egypt, Exod. xii. 2, 3, compared with 12, 13.
It was from Him that the destruction of the [Pg 364] Assyrians
proceeded, 2 Kings xix. 34, 35; Is. xxxvii. 35, 36. After the numbering
of Israel, when the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, it was
He who inflicted the punishment, 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, 15, 16. As He
encampeth round about them who fear the Lord, so He is, in regard to
the ungodly, like the wind which carries away the chaff, Ps. xxxiv. 8,
xxxv. 5, 6.--In opposition to the objection raised by _Baur_,--"That,
with the exception of the passage in Is. vi., nowhere, in the books
composed before the Chaldee period, do angels appear to act as
mediators in the execution of the divine commands,"--it is sufficient
to refer to Joel iv. (iii.) 9-11, and, as regards _the_ Angel of the
Lord, to Hosea xii. 5 (4). But we have, in addition, a special reason
for thinking here of the Angel of the Lord. This is afforded to us by
the ninth chapter of Ezekiel, which must be considered, throughout, as
a further expansion of the verse under consideration, and as the oldest
and most trustworthy commentary upon it. In that chapter, there appear
(at the command of the Lord who is about to avenge the apostasy of His
people) the servants of His justice--six in number--and in the midst of
them, "a  man clothed with linen;"--the former, with instruments of
destruction; the latter, with writing materials. They step (the scene
is in the temple) by the side of the brazen altar. Thither there comes
to them out of the holy of holies, to the threshold of the temple, the
glory of the Lord, and gives to Him who is clothed with linen the
commission to preserve the faithful, while the others receive a
commission to destroy the ungodly, without mercy. But now, Who is the
man clothed in linen? None other than the Angel of the Lord. This
appears from Daniel x. 5, xii. 6, 7, where Michael = the Angel of the
Lord (compare _Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel_, p. 135 ff.)
is designated in the same way,--a remarkable coincidence in these two
contemporary prophets, to  which we omitted to direct attention in our
work on Daniel. It is  _further_ evident from the subject itself. The
dress is that of the  earthly high priest (_Theodoret_ remarks: "The
dress of the seventh is  that of the high priest, for he was not one of
the destroyers, but the  redeemer of those who were worthy of
salvation"); compare Lev. xvi. 4, 23. It is especially from the former
of these passages that the plural בדים is to be accounted for.
According to it, the various parts [Pg 365] of the high priest's dress
are of linen. But the heavenly Mediator, High Priest, and Intercessor,
is the Angel of the Lord; compare, _e.g._, Zech. i. 12, where He makes
intercession for the Covenant-people, and the Lord answers Him with
good and comfortable words. Concerning the earthly high priest as a
type of Christ, and hence a type of the Angel of the Lord, compare the
remarks on Zech. iii. But we must not imagine that He who is clothed
with linen is commissioned solely for the work of delivering the godly,
and hence stands contrasted with the six ministers of justice. On the
contrary, these are rather to be considered as being subordinate to
Him, as carrying out the work of destruction only by His command and
authority. From Him, punishment no less than salvation proceeds.
This is sufficiently evident for general reasons. The punishment
and deliverance have both the same root, the same aim, viz., the
advancement of the kingdom of God. We cannot by any means think of evil
angels in the case of the six; such could be assumed only in opposition
to the whole doctrine of Scripture on the point, which is always
consistent in ascribing the punishment of the wicked to the good
angels, and the temptation of the godly, with the permission of God, to
the evil angels. In proof of this, we have only to think of Job's
trial, of Christ's temptation, and of the angel of Satan by whom Paul
was buffeted. This subject has already been very well treated by _Ode_,
who, in his work _De Angelis_, p. 741 ff., says: "God sends good angels
to punish wicked men, and He employs evil angels to chasten the
godly."[1] But if this be established, it is then established at the
same time, that the judgment here belongs to the Angel of the Lord. For
to Him, as the Prince of the heavenly host, all inferior angels are
subordinate, so that everything [Pg 366] which they do belongs to
Him.--To these general reasons, we may, however, add special reasons
which are altogether decisive. That He who is clothed with linen is
closely connected with the six, is indicated by the number seven. He
also appears at the side of the altar, and comes in the midst of the
others, who follow after Him, ver. 2. But of conclusive significance
are the words in chap. x. 2 and 7: "And the Lord spake unto the man
clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels under the
cherubim, and fill Thine hand with coals of fire from between the
cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And He went in, in my sight.
And a cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim, unto
the fire that was between the cherubim, and took, and put it into the
hands of Him who was clothed with linen. And He took it and went out."
The _fire_ here is not the symbolical designation of wrath, but natural
fire; for it is the setting on fire and burning of the city which is
here to be prefigured. The wheels denote the natural powers,--in the
first instance, the wind, chap. x. 13, but the fire also; while the
cherubim denote the living creation. The Angel of the Lord is here
expressly designated as He who executeth the judgments of divine

The importance of the preceding investigation extends beyond the mere
clearing up of the passage under consideration. We have here obtained
the Old Testament foundation for the New Testament doctrine, that all
judgment has been committed to the Son, while the harmony of the two
Testaments is exhibited in a remarkable instance. Compare with the
already cited Old Testament declarations, such passages as Matt. xiii.
41: Ἀποστελεῖ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὑτοῦ, καὶ συλλέξουσιν
ἐκ τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ σκάνδαλα, καὶ τοὺς ποιοῦντας τὴν
ἀνομίαν· and xxv. 31: Ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ δόξῃ
αὑτοῦ, καὶ πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοί μετ' αὐτοῦ, τότε καθίσει ἐπὶ θρόνου δόξης
αὑτοῦ. In order to be convinced of the identity of the Angel of the
Lord and Christ (compare above, p. 107 sqq. and _Commentary on Rev._ i.
p. 466), we may further direct attention to the fact that the Angel of
the Lord, who meets us throughout the whole of the Old Testament,
suddenly disappears in the New Testament, and that to Christ all is
ascribed which was in the Old Testament attributed to the Angel of the

[Pg 367]

A second important question is:--What is to be understood by _the_
altar, המזבח? Several interpreters adopt the opinion of _Cyril_, and
think of the altar at Bethel, or some other idolatrous altar in the
kingdom of Israel. Others (_e.g._, _Marckius_) are of opinion that the
article stands here without meaning, and that it is the intention of
the prophet only to represent God as appearing on some altar, leaving
it undetermined on which, in order thereby to indicate that He required
the blood of many men. But against such expositions the article is
conclusive. _The_ altar can be that altar only, of which every one
would think, if an altar κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, and without a more definite
designation, were spoken of. Such was the brazen altar, or altar of
burnt-offering in the outer court of the temple at Jerusalem. That it
was this altar, and not the altar of incense before the holy of holies,
which received, in the common language of the people, the name of _the_
altar, is easily explained from the circumstance that it stood in a
much closer relation to the people than did the other which was
withdrawn from their view. On this altar all the sacrifices were
offered, and it must, throughout, be understood, when _the_ altar of
the Lord is spoken of; compare remarks on Rev. vi. 9. But that which
removes all doubt is the comparison with the parallel passage in
Ezekiel. There, the scene is the temple at Jerusalem. The ministers
of justice step beside the brazen altar. At the threshold of the
temple-building proper, the glory of the Lord moves toward them. This
parallel passage, moreover, does not leave any doubt as to the reason
why the Lord appears here beside the altar. _Jerome_ remarks on this:
"They are introduced standing beside the altar, ready for the order of
their commander; so that they know every one whose sins are not
forgiven, and who is liable, therefore, to the sentence of the Lord,
and to destruction." The Lord's appearing beside the altar is a visible
representation of the truth, that wheresoever the carcase is, there
will the eagles be gathered together. The altar is the place of
transgression; it is there that there lies accumulated the unexpiated
guilt of the whole nation, instead of the rich treasure of love and
faith, which alone should be there, embodied in the sacrifice. The Lord
appears at the place of transgression, in order that He may be
glorified in the destruction of those who would not glorify Him in
their lives. [Pg 368]--Now several interpreters (_e.g._, _Michaelis_),
who have correctly defined the meaning of the altar, would infer from
the mention of the temple at Jerusalem, that the whole prophecy refers
to the kingdom of Judah. But such an assumption is altogether
inadmissible. Even the general reason, that a prophecy which refers
exclusively to Judah cannot be at all expected from a prophet who had
received his special mission to Israel, militates against it.
_Further_,--The close of this prophecy, the proclamation of salvation,
belongs, as we have already proved, to the whole collection. If this be
referred to Judah alone, there is then an essential element awanting in
that portion which is addressed to Israel; we should then have judgment
without mercy, threatening without consolation,--a thing which could
not well be conceived of, and would be without analogy in any of the
prophets. To this we must _further_ add the express references, or
co-references to Israel throughout the whole chapter,--such as the
mention of Carmel in ver. 3; of the children of Israel, in ver. 7; of
the house of Jacob, in ver. 8; of the house of Israel, in ver. 9; of
פרציהן, in ver. 11; of My people Israel, in ver. 14. The whole
assumption of an exclusive reference to Judah owes its origin to the
circumstance, that features which are only symbolical have been
erroneously interpreted as actual. But if they be viewed and explained
as symbols, every reason for denying the reference to Israel is then at
once removed. The temple symbolizes the kingdom of God; its falling
down upon the people is symbolical of the punishment which is inflicted
upon them, in consequence of this kingdom. The destruction of the
temple in the literal sense is not, primarily, spoken of; although
the latter, it is true, be inseparable from the former. If the
Covenant-people in general were outwardly desecrated, because they had
desecrated themselves inwardly, then also the outward sanctuary which
they had, by their wickedness, converted into a den of thieves, was
taken from them; compare the remarks on Dan. ix. 27. If Israel then, at
that time, still belonged to the kingdom of God (and this can certainly
not be doubted, and is sufficiently proved by the very mission of our
prophet to Israel), there exists no reason at all for excluding it. For
Israel also, the temple at Jerusalem formed the seat and centre from
which it was governed,--the place from which blessings and punishments
[Pg 369] proceeded. The prophet indeed, at the very opening of his
prophecies, describes the Lord as roaring from Zion, and uttering His
voice from Jerusalem. On the altar at Jerusalem the crimes of Israel
were deposited, no less than those of Judah; for there was the place
where the people of both kingdoms were to deposit the embodied
expression of their godly disposition. It was there, then, that, in
reality, the fruits of the opposite were lying, although, as regards
the place, they were offered elsewhere.--So much indeed is certain,
that the co-reference to Judah is necessarily required by the
symbolical representation. The rejection of Israel alone could not be
symbolized by the destruction of the temple. And no less does this
appear from the announcement of salvation. For this does not by any
means promise the re-establishment of the Davidic dominion among the
people of Israel, but the restoration of the entire fallen Davidic
government. The tabernacle of David that is fallen refers to the
destroyed temple. Both signify, substantially, the same thing. With the
destruction of the temple, the Davidic tabernacle also fell; and its
fall included the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel; for, in this
also, the Davidic race had still the dominion _de jure_, although it
was suspended _de facto_.

The passage under consideration is remarkable also, inasmuch as it
furnishes a proof for the custom of designating the kingdom of God from
its existing seat and centre, and thus furnishes us, for other passages
also, with the right of freeing the thought from the figurative

A _further_ reason against referring _the_ altar to the altar at
Bethel, is, that the latter enjoyed no such pre-eminence in the kingdom
of Israel. The temple at Bethel was, to the ten tribes, by no means
what the temple at Jerusalem was to Judah. The law regarding the
unity of the place of worship was, among the ten tribes, regarded as
non-existing. Even in the verse immediately preceding, in viii. 14, Dan
and Beersheba had been mentioned as the chief seats of the Israelitish
worship; and in chap. iv. 4, Gilgal appears beside Bethel as possessing
the same importance. In chap. v. 5, Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba are
mentioned together. Hosea, in chap. viii. 11, reproves Israel for
having made many altars to sin. Hence, there did not exist in Israel an
altar κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν. Such an altar existed only in [Pg 370] Judah. Nor
had the sanctuary at Bethel such importance, as that it could be
considered as the spiritual abode of the whole people.--_Hofmann_
(_Weissagung u. Erfüllung_, S. 203) raises the following objection
against the reference to the altar at Jerusalem:--"The prophet, it is
true, reproves the sins in Judah as well as those in Israel; but it is
only to the kingdom of Jeroboam that he announces destruction, while to
the house of David he promises that Jehovah would raise it up from its
fallen condition." But in opposition to this objection, we need only
refer to ii. 5: "And I send fire in Judah, and it devours the palaces
of Jerusalem." Passages such as i. 14, 15, ii. 3, absolutely forbid us
to make an exception of the palace of the king; and, by chap. vii. 9,
where destruction is announced to all the sanctuaries of Isaac, we have
as little warrant for excepting the temple. To assume any such
exceptions, would be contrary to the analogy of all other threatenings.
_Hofmann_ further objects (l. c. S. 204), "As the threatening
announcement of the prophet had last remained suspended over Israel, we
are at liberty to think of the altar at Bethel only." But already, in
the third chapter, all Israel is addressed, according to ver. 1; and we
may further refer to v. 25, where likewise Israel can mean only the
whole people,[2] while in vi. 1, Judah is expressly mentioned beside
Israel. The prophet employs, throughout, the name of Israel with a
certain ambiguity; so that it would be vain to attempt to determine
whether it be used in the wider, or in the more limited sense. Wherever
he wishes to be distinctly understood as speaking of the ten tribes, he
speaks of Joseph and Samaria. Still less would the prophet have
employed the names of Jacob (iii. 13, vi. 8, vii. 2, 6) and of Isaac
(vii. 9, 16), which were quite uncommon as a designation of the ten
tribes,[3] [Pg 371] if it had been of importance, and intentional on
his part strictly to separate the boundaries of Judah from those of
Israel, and, if there were not everywhere here, only a special
application to the ten tribes of that which concerned the whole who
were connected by a common fate. But it is especially suitable, that
just the close of the whole should, in a remarkably distinct manner,
bring into view the two kingdoms, the destinies of which were so
intimately connected.--_Hitzig_, further, with a view to favour the
reference to the temple in Bethel, adduces the consideration that this
vision is connected with the close of viii. 14, and forms a kind of
explanation of it. But we have here an entirely new beginning, just as
in chap. viii. in its relation to chap. vii. The three visions are
altogether independent of, and co-ordinate with each other.--נצב with
על is commonly used of a prominent position _at the side of_: Gen.
xviii. 2; 1 Sam. iv. 20; compare עמד with על 1 Kings xiii. 1. In Ezek.
ix. 1 also, the angels stand at the side of the brazen altar, נצב can,
of course, never signify "_to be suspended_."--הכפתור is a species of
ornament at the top of the pillars; and הספים, "the thresholds," are
contrasted with each other, in order to give expression to the thought
that the building was to be shaken, and destroyed from the highest part
of it to the lowest,--from the top to the bottom. The shaking of the
thresholds occurs also in Is. vi. to denote that the shaking extended
to the deepest foundations. The greater number of interpreters
translate: "Strike the knop _so that_ ... tremble," etc.; but the
וירעשו must be viewed rather as co-ordinate with הך: "And they may
tremble," equivalent to "Make to tremble."--The suffix in בצעם refers
to the knops and threshold, or to the entire building, which is marked
out by the contrast of the highest and lowest portions. According to
_Ewald_ and _Umbreit_, it is intended to refer to the dashed pieces of
the altar; but nothing has been said about the destruction of the
altar. In Ezek. ix. 2 likewise, the altar is mentioned, not because it
was to be destroyed, but only because there the guilt is heaped up. The
casting down does not, in itself, imply the _breaking_, _dashing into
pieces_; it does so only by its being connected with the following
בראש. The passage in Jer. xlix. 20 is analogous: "He shall make their
habitation desolate over them;" instead of: "He shall thus make it
desolate that they are buried beneath its ruins;" [Pg 372] compare Jer.
l. 45. בראש, properly understood, does not mean "_upon_ the head;" the
head is rather represented as the receptacle of the tumbling ruins;
they fall into their heads and crush them; compare Ps. vii. 17. In what
precedes, there is no definite noun to which כלם refers. This is to be
explained by the dramatic character of the whole representation which
arises necessarily from the opening phrase: "I saw." The same reason
accounts for the peculiarity of הך being employed without any
designation of person. In his inward vision, the prophet sees the whole
people assembled before the Lord at the threshold of the temple.
The Lord appears before him as the judge, at the place of the
transgressions, at the side of the altar. At His command, the whole
assembled multitude are buried under the ruins of the temple. From this
also it is evident that a destruction of the temple in a literal sense
cannot be entertained; for how could a whole people be buried under its
ruins? The same appears also from ראיתי at the commencement. This,
then, shows that we have here before us a symbolical representation,
corresponding altogether to that which we have in vii. 1, 4, 7, viii.
1. Hitherto, the Lord speaking to some one, had given him the
commission of destruction. He now continues with: "I will kill." This
also shows that the one who is addressed is the Angel of the Lord. The
same occurrence takes place in the greater number of the passages in
which the Angel of the Lord is spoken of. In the action there is
constant alternation; it is ascribed, at one time to Him, at another,
to Jehovah.--Several interpreters (_Marckius_, _De Wette_, _Rückert_,
and others) explain אחרית by "posterity;" others, after the example of
the Chaldee (שארהון), by "remnant;" and others, by "lowest of the
people." We must here enter into a closer examination of the
significations of this word. It is commonly supposed (compare
_Gesenius_ and _Winer_) that, primarily and properly, it signifies "the
last and extreme part," and then "the end." But that which is supposed
to be the derived signification is rather the original and proper one.
The form of the word cannot furnish any reason why this should not be
the case, as is evident from what has been remarked by _Ewald_: "As the
feminine termination, in general, forms abstract nouns, so also, not
unfrequently, abstract nouns are derived from other nouns, by means of
the termination ־־ית; very frequently there is no [Pg 373] masculine in
־ִי at all at the foundation, but ־ִית serves, in general, only as the
sign of derivation." The following reasons prove that the signification
"end" is the primary and proper one. 1. If the contrary were the
case, the masculine ־ִי would also occur, and the feminine would be met
with as an adjective also. 2. ראשית forms the constant antithesis to
אחרית; but it is universally admitted that the former is, originally
and properly, an abstract noun, and signifies "beginning." The
signification "end" must then be retained here also. The word never has
another signification (compare my work on Balaam, p. 465 ff.); it means
only "end" in Its various relations. But the posterity cannot here be
thought of as the end; for the whole action is concentrated in one
point of time. Nor is the word ever used in the sense of "posterity."
With as little propriety can "end" mean "the lowest of the people;" for
one cannot see why just these should be given up to the sword. "End,"
here, rather denotes "remnant,"--all those who, at the overthrow of the
temple, might escape. These, the Lord will pursue with the sword. They
who were buried under the temple are the beginning, ראשית; the latter
are the אחרית, end. Corresponding to the shaking of the temple from the
knops to the thresholds, the thought is expressed in this manner, that
from the first to the last, כלם מקצה they should be subjected to the
divine punishment. An implied antithesis of quite the same kind, of
אחרית to ראשית occurs also In iv. 2 (where _De Wette_ and _Rückert_
have likewise mistaken the sense), and in viii. 10.--On the last words
of the verse, which are to be considered as a further explanation of,
"Their end, or remnant, I will kill by the sword," _Cocceius_ remarks:
"This slaughter becomes the more thorough, inasmuch as even they who
flee, or seemed to have fled, are not excluded from it." The second
member seems to contradict the first; for if none be allowed to flee
away, how can any have escaped? Several Interpreters have been thereby
induced to give to the verb נוס the first time, the signification "to
escape,"--the second time, "to flee." But the contradiction is quite
similar to that which occurs in the preceding context also, when all
are dashed to pieces by the ruins, and yet a remnant is spoken of. It
soon disappears when we consider that it Is the intention of the
prophet to cut off every possible way of escape, by which carnal
security endeavoured to save [Pg 374] and preserve itself against the
impression of his discourse--that it is equivalent to: "_All_ shall be
buried under the ruins, and although some should succeed in escaping
from this kind of destruction, yet the sword of divine vengeance would
be behind them, and slay them; flight shall not be possible to any man;
and even although it might be to some, it would be of no avail to them,
for God would be their persecutor." But another apparent contradiction
must not be overlooked. Even here, the destruction is most emphatically
described as being quite general; as such, it is minutely represented
ins vers. 2-4. One cannot fail to see how anxious the prophet is to cut
off, from every individual, the idea of the possibility of an escape.
On the other hand, it is announced in ver. 8, that the house of Jacob
shall not be utterly destroyed; according to ver. 9, all the godly
shall be preserved; according to ver. 10, the judgment is to be limited
to the sinners from among the people,--a limitation which is also
presupposed by the description in the 11th and subsequent verses. In
iii. 12, the preservation of a small remnant amidst the general
destruction had been promised. The greater number of interpreters, in
order to reconcile this apparent contradiction, assume an hyperbole in
vers. 1-4. But this assumption is certainly erroneous. The ground of
this great copiousness,--the reason why the prophet represents the same
thought in aspects so various,--is evidently to prevent every idea of
an hyperbole,--to show that the words are to be taken in all their
strictness of meaning. But the limitation may be arrived at, and
effected in a different, and legitimate way. There is, in the nature of
ungodliness, a levity which flatters every individual with the hope of
escape, even although a threatened general calamity should take place.
All the possibilities of deliverance are sought after in such a
disposition of mind, and are, by imagination, easily changed into
probabilities and realities, because just that is wanting which proves
them to be improbable and unreal, viz., the consciousness of a living,
omnipotent God. Thus men free themselves from fear, and with it, from
the troublesome obligation of escaping from it in another and a
legitimate way, viz., by true conversion. Now, it is this levity which
the prophet opposes. He shows that whatever possibility of deliverance
such levity may dream of, it never would become a reality, and this [Pg
375] for the simple reason, that they had not to deal with human
antagonists; from them an escape by human means would be possible, how
powerful and wise soever they might be. But they have to deal with an
omnipotent God, who, being also omnipresent, can arm all His creatures
against His despisers, so that they cannot retreat to any place where
He, who reigneth absolutely in heaven and on earth, has not ministers
of His vengeance. Every thought, then, of an escape by _human means_ is
here cut off. But with this, every thought of deliverance in any way is
taken from the _ungodly_, who are told by their own consciences that
God will not deliver them. But, on the other hand, the same
consideration could not but administer consolation to the godly. If no
one, should he even hide himself in heaven, can escape from God the
Avenger, then no one, were he even in the midst of his enemies, and
were the sword even already lifted up against him, can be lost from God
the Deliverer.--Another question has been asked, which relates to the
historical reference of the threatened punishment. It goes just as far
as the thought which lies at its foundation: "You only have I known of
all the families of the earth; therefore I shall visit upon you all
your transgressions." Those interpreters who think exclusively of
either the Assyrian, or the Chaldean, or the Roman destruction, are, in
the same way, partly right and partly wrong, at the same time. All
these events, and others besides, belong essentially to one whole. The
difference as to time and circumstances is that which is unessential.
That a prophet had exclusively in view any single one from among those
divine manifestations of punishment, can be asserted, only where he
himself has given express declarations to such an effect; and even
then, the prophecy is limited to that single event, as to its _form_
only: its _idea_ is not lost by the single fulfilment.

Ver. 2. "_If they break through into hell, from thence My hand shall
take them; if they ascend up into heaven, from thence I will take them

The Future must not, either here, or in what follows, be understood as
_potentialis_: "Though they should conceal themselves;" but as the real
Future: "If they are to conceal themselves." That אם with the Future is
used only _de re dubia_, as _Winer_ asserts, is as erroneous as to
assert that, with the Preterite, [Pg 376] it supposes the condition as
existing. The correct view has been already given by _Gesenius_ in the
_Thesaurus_. By supposing the possibility of a condition, impossible in
reality, the denial of the consequence becomes so much the more
emphatic and expressive. That such a supposition is made here, is
evident from ver. 4, where the prophet passes over to the territory of
actual possibility, and where, therefore, we cannot translate: "Though
they should go." Such a supposition is, in general, very frequent. It
occurs, _e.g._, Matt. v. 29, where _Tholuch_ (_Comment. on the Sermon
on the Mount_) has been led very far astray from the right
understanding of εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ὁ δεξιὸς σκανδαλίζει σε, κ.τ.λ.,
by overlooking this _usus loquendi_. We are not indeed at liberty to
translate, "Though thy right eye should offend thee;" but it must be
decided by other arguments, whether the condition here _supposed_ be
one really possible; and these arguments show that it is only for the
sake of greater emphasis that there has here been supposed as possible,
what is impossible.--Heaven and Sheol form a constant contrast between
the highest height and the lowest depth. From a merely imagined
possibility, the prophet descends to the real one. If, then, even the
former be not able to afford protection, because God's hand reaches
even where one has escaped far from any human power, how much less the
latter!--חתר with the Accus. signifies "to break through," Job xxiv.
16; with ב, "to make a hole in anything;" thus Ezek. viii. 8, xii. 7,
12 (חתר בקיר, "to make a hole in the wall"). These parallel passages
show that the Sheol must be conceived of as being surrounded with
strong walls,--by which is expressed its inaccessibility to all that is
living. The fundamental passage is in Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8: "Whither shall
I go from Thy Spirit, and whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I
ascend up into heaven. Thou art there; if I make my bed in hell,
behold, Thou art there." David does not here speak in his own person,
but in that of his whole race. The Psalm is an indirect exhortation to
his successors on the throne, and at the same time to the people. "If
you are wicked," so he here addresses them, "you can never hope to
escape from the punishing hand of the Almighty." And since they have
become wicked, the words of David have acquired new emphasis.

Ver. 3. "_And if they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,_ [Pg 377]
_from thence I will search and take them out; and if they hide
themselves from My sight in the bottom, of the sea, from thence I will
command the serpent, and he bites them._"

The question here is:--Why is Carmel specially mentioned? Interpreters
remind us of the numerous caves of this mountain, which make it
peculiarly suitable for concealment. _O. F. von Richter_, in the
_Wallfahrten im Morgenlande_, S. 65, remarks on this point: "The caves
are extremely numerous in Carmel, especially on the west side. It is
said that there are more than a thousand, and that they were inhabited
in ancient times by monks, to whom, however, their origin cannot be
ascribed. In one part of the mountain, called 'the caves of the members
of the orders,' 400 are found beside each other. Farther down in the
hard limestone mountain, there is one which is distinguished by its
size, about 20 paces long, and more than 15 broad and high." Details
still more accurate are given by _Schulz_ in the _Leitungen des
Höchsten_, Th. 5, S. 186, 303. According to him, the road is pure rock,
and very smooth, and so crooked, that those going before cannot see
those who follow them. "When we were only ten paces distant from each
other, we heard each other's voices, indeed, but were invisible to each
other, on account of the winding ways made in consequence of the
intervening by-hills.... Everywhere there are caves, and their mouths
are often so small that only one man can creep through at a time; the
approaches to them are so serpentine, that he who is pursued may escape
from his pursuer, and step into such a small opening, of which there
are frequently three or four beside each other, before his pursuer is
aware of it. Hence, if any one should hide himself there, it is
exceedingly difficult, yea, even impossible for the eyes of man to
discover him who is pursued." But this circumstance alone does not
exhaust the case, even if we still further add that the mountain was
then, as it is now (_Richter_, S. 66), covered with trees and
shrubberies up to the summit. The expression, "In the top," must not be
overlooked, and the less so, since it stands in evident antithesis to
the "_bottom_ of the sea,"--like the contrast of height and depth in
the preceding verse. Heaven and hell are represented on earth by the
top of Carmel, and the bottom of the sea. The height of Carmel must,
therefore, come also into consideration. This, it is true, is not very
great; _Buckingham_ [Pg 378] estimated it at 1500 feet (_v. Raumer_, S.
40); but the prophet chose Carmel in preference to other higher
mountains, partly on account of the peculiarity already stated; partly,
and especially, on account of its position in the immediate
neighbourhood of the sea, over which its summit hangs, and which can be
seen to a great distance from it; compare 1 Kings xviii. 43, 44. Of
corporeal things it holds true, as it does of spiritual things, that
opposites, placed beside each other, become thereby more distinct. A
lower elevation, placed by the side of a depth, appears to the
unscientific eye to be much higher than another which is really so.
Moreover, the position of Carmel at the extreme western border of the
kingdom of Israel must also be considered. He who hides himself there,
must certainly be ignorant of any safer place in the whole country; and
if even then there be no more security, the sea alone is left.--צוה
occurs frequently with the signification "to bid," to "command." The
word is chosen on purpose to show, how even the irrational creatures
stand in the service of the omnipotent God; so that it requires only a
word from Him to make them the instruments of His vengeance. That the
prophet had a knowledge of a very dangerous kind of sea-serpents (of
which _Pliny_ xix. 4 speaks), need not be supposed on account of the
משם. That was not of the slightest consequence here. In v. 19 the
serpent occurs in a particularizing representation of the thought that
God is able to arm all nature against His enemies: "As if a man flees
from the lion, and a bear meets him; and he comes home, and leans his
hand on the wall, and a serpent bites him"--just the opposite of the
assurance that "to those who love God, all things shall work together
for good." So early as in Deut. xxxii. 24, apostates are threatened
with the poison of the serpents of the dust, besides the teeth of wild
beasts; and what this threatening implied, might have been well known
to Israel from their former history; compare Num. xxi. 6: "And the Lord
sent against the people serpents, and they bit the people, and much
people of Israel died,"--a passage to which Jeremiah alludes in chap.
viii. 17, where he says; "For behold I send against you serpents,
basilisks, against which there is no charm, and they bite you, saith
the Lord." It is very probable that to this the prophet also alludes in
the passage before us.

[Pg 379]

Ver. 4. "_And if they go into captivity before their enemies, from
thence will I command the sword, and it slayeth them; and I set Mine
eyes upon them for evil and not for good._"

בשבי means the state of exile. The circumstance of their being carried
into captivity might awaken the hope that mercy will be granted to
them; for, according to the natural course of things, he who is carried
away into captivity may be sure of his life; but nothing can give
security before God. The last words are strikingly illustrated by
_Calvin_, who says: "There is an antithesis in this sentence, inasmuch
as God had promised that He would be the protector of His people. But
as hypocrites are always apt to appropriate to themselves the promises
of God, without having either repentance or faith, the prophet here
declares, that the eye of God would be upon them, not to protect them,
as was His custom, but rather to add punishments to punishments. And
this sentence is worthy of notice, inasmuch as we are thereby reminded,
that although the Lord does by no means spare infidels. He yet observes
us more closely in order to punish us the more severely, when He sees
that we are utterly hardened and incurable." Under any circumstances,
the people of the Lord continue to be the objects of special attention.
They are more richly blessed; but they are also more severely punished.

Ver. 5. "_And the Lord, Jehovah, of hosts, who toucheth the earth, and
it melteth, and all that dwell therein mourn; and it riseth up wholly
like the stream, and it sinketh down as the stream of Egypt._"

The prophet continues to cut off every false hope with which levity
flatters itself. How can you think to escape, since you have the
Almighty God for your enemy! "The prophet," remarks _Jerome_, "speaks
thus, in order to impress them with the greatness of divine power, that
they might not imagine that He would perhaps not do what He had
threatened, or that His power was not equal to His will." Similar
descriptions of the divine omnipotence, as opposed to unbelief and weak
faith, are very numerous; _e.g._, iv. 13, v. 8, 27; Is. xl. 22, xlv.
12. We are not at liberty to translate: "And the Lord Jehovah of hosts
is He who toucheth." It is rather an abrupt mode of speech; and there
must be supplied, either at the beginning, "And who is your enemy?" or
at the end, "He is your opponent." [Pg 380] This abruptness of language
is quite in accordance with the subject, and belongs, moreover, to the
characteristic peculiarities of Amos. Altogether similar is v. 7, 8,
where Israel and their God are simply placed beside each other, and
every one is left to conclude for himself how such a God would act
towards such a people: "They who turn judgment to wormwood, and cast
righteousness to the earth. Making the Pleiades and Orion, and turning
the shadow of death into the morning, and making the day dark with
night, calling," etc. The accumulated appellations. Lord, Jehovah, of
hosts, likewise serve to point out the omnipotence of God. The believer
accumulates these appellations in his prayer in order to awaken his
confidence and hope; compare, _e.g._, Is. xxxvii. 16, where Hezekiah
begins his prayer to the Lord thus: "Jehovah, of hosts, God of Israel,
Thou who art enthroned on Cherubim, Thou art God alone for all the
kingdoms of the earth." But these appellations are held up to the
unbelievers, to cast down all their hopes. We have separated, of hosts,
from the preceding appellation of God by a comma. Ever since
_Gesenius_, in his Commentary on Is. i. 9, has asserted that צבאות when
connected with Jehovah, must be considered as a Genitive depending upon
it, his view has been pretty generally adopted. But it is certainly
erroneous. The instances by which _Gesenius_ endeavours to prove the
possibility of such a connection of proper names with appellative names
are not to the point. In "Bethlehem Jehudah" it is only by a false
interpretation that Jehudah is considered as standing in the _status
constr._ with Bethlehem (compare the remarks on Mic. v. 1 [2]); and
with regard to ארם נהרים it is to be remarked that, in consequence of
its many divisions, ארם loses the nature of a proper name. The two
words, Jehovah Zebaoth, can no more be immediately connected with each
other than Jehovah (which is as perfect a proper name as ever existed)
ever has, or ever can have, the article. Let us only consider the
phrase אלהים צבאות in Ps. lxxx. 15, and elsewhere, where a _status
constr._ is out of the question; and, _further_, the fact that
wherever, as in the case under review, Adonai precedes, the Mazorets
have always given to יהוה the points of אֱלֹהִים but never of אֱלֹהֵי; and
let us, _finally_, consider the far more frequent, full expression,
יהוה אלהי הצבאות (_e.g._, iii. 13, iv. 13, v. 14), and we shall be
convinced, that even where the [Pg 381] simple יהוה הצבאות occurs, not
indeed אלהי is simply to be supplied (if such were the case, why is it
that הצבאות never occurs alone?), but that the notion of the Lord is to
be taken from the preceding designations of the sovereignty of God.
Compare on צבאות the remarks in my Commentary on Ps. xxiv. 10, where
those also are refuted who, like _Maurer_ (in his Comment. on Is. i.
9), maintain that it had simply become a name of God.--The
manifestations of God's omnipotence are, after the general intimations
of it are given, just such as might now be expected; compare viii. 8.
The _Fut. with Vav Conv._ ותמוג does not here denote the Past, "And it
melted," but only the consequence of the preceding action, as
continuous as that: "Who toucheth the earth, and it melteth." A
dissolution of the earth is to be thought of,--similar to that
condition in which it was before the days of creation, and similar to
its condition during the great flood. Such a condition of dissolution
takes place also when the earth is visited by mighty kings desirous of
making conquests. "Who toucheth the earth, and it melteth,"--the truth
of these words Israel had _first_ to learn by sad experience when the
wild hosts of Asshur were poured out over the West of Asia. The passage
in Ps. xlvi. 7 is parallel, where it is said: "The heathen rage,
kingdoms are shaken; He uttereth His voice (which corresponds with,
'Who toucheth the earth,' in the verse before us), and the earth
_melteth_." The מוג, "to melt," "to dissolve," signifies, in that
passage, the dissolving effect of the divine judgments, the instruments
of which are the conquerors. _Further_,--Ps. lxx. 4: "The earth and all
the inhabitants thereof are melted,"--by the success of the conqueror
of the world, the earth is, as it were, dissolved, and sunk back into
the chaotic state of primitive time.--The words, "And it riseth up,"
are to be explained from the fact that the earth, changed into a great
stream, cannot be distinguished from the water which covers it. The
earth rises up, it is overflowed,--the earth sinks down, the water
subsides. The last clause of the verse must not be translated--as is
done by _Rosenmüller_, _Gesenius_, _Maurer_--"It is overflowed as by the
stream of Egypt." This explanation is unphilological, and contrary, at
the same time, to the parallelism, which requires that כיאר be, both
the times, understood in the same way. The verb שקע means only "to
sink," "to sink down," and is used of the subsiding water, Ezek. xxxii.
14; of the subsiding flame, [Pg 382] Num. xi. 2; and of a sinking town,
Jer. li. 64. The last words thus rather contain the opposite of the
clause immediately preceding. But the sinking does not, by any means,
signify a freedom from the waters, nor is it to be conceived of as
remaining. All which is expressed is the change only,--the ebb takes
the place of the flood, and _vice versa_. This, however, is, on the dry
land, a very sad condition. The inundation is here an emblem of hostile
overflowing. Water is frequently an emblem of enemies; compare Ps.
xviii. 17, cxliv. 7. Overflowing streams are emblematical of the crowds
of nations, who, with a view to conquest, overflow the whole earth. Is.
viii. 7, 8, xvii. 12; Jer. xlvii. 2, xlvi. 7, 8, where Egypt rises as
the Nile, just as, in the case before us, the earth; with this
difference, however, that there the rising is an active, while here it
is a passive one: "Who is this who riseth like the Nile, whose waters
are moved as the rivers? Egypt riseth up like the Nile, and his waters
are moved like rivers, and he saith, I will go up and cover the earth,
I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof;" Ezek. xxxii. 14:
"Then will I make sink their waters, and cause their rivers to run like
oil," equivalent to: The conquering power of Egypt shall cease. Amos
viii. 8 is a parallel passage, in which, after the description of the
prevailing sin, it is said: "Shall not the earth tremble for this, and
every one mourn that dwelleth therein? And it riseth up wholly like the
Nile, and is agitated, and sinketh down like the Nile of Egypt." The
earthquake is the symbol of great revolutions, by which that which is
highest is turned upside down; compare Haggai ii. 21, 22: "I shake the
heavens and the earth, and overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and
destroy the strength of the kingdom of the heathen;" while the
overflowing is emblematical of hostile inundation, of visitation by
war, in which the ebb succeeds the flood, and _vice versa_.--In his
negligent mode of writing--which frequently occurs in this book--the
prophet wrote נשקה instead of נשקעה, corresponding to the שקעה in the
verse under consideration, just as in the same verse he wrote כאר
instead of כיאר. The Mazorets, who everywhere disregarded the
peculiarities of the individual writers, have introduced the common

Ver. 6. "_Who buildeth His upper chambers in the heaven, and His
vault--over the earth He foundeth it: who calleth the waters_ [Pg 383]
_of the sea, and poureth them out over the earth--Jehovah His name._"

That מעלות is here equivalent to עלות, "upper chambers" (compare 1
Chron. xvii. 17, where מעלת occurs with the signification "high
place"), is put almost beyond any doubt by the parallel passage, Ps.
civ. 3: "Who frameth with the waters His upper chambers." The
fundamental passage is Gen. i. 7: "God made the vault, and divided
between the waters which are under the vault, and the waters which are
above the vault." "The waters, viz., the upper ones"--thus we have
remarked in our commentary on that passage from the Psalms--"are the
material out of which the structure is reared. To construct, out of the
moveable waters, a firm palace, the cloudy sky, firm as a molten
looking-glass (Job xxxvii. 18), is a magnificent work of divine
omnipotence. The palace of clouds, as the upper part of the fabric of
the universe, gets the name _upper chambers_ of God; the lower part is
the earth." As all the other manifestations of divine omnipotence in
vers. 5, 6, are such as are to be called into existence now, the upper
chambers and the vault will here come into consideration, in so far as
from thence the torrents of rain are poured forth; compare Ps. civ. 13,
according to which the rain cometh from the upper chambers of God; and
Gen. vii. 11: "The same day broke forth all the fountains of the great
flood (the last member of our verse), and _the windows of heaven were
opened_." From the upper chambers of God, whence once, at the time of
the deluge, the natural rain came down, the rain of affliction will now
descend.--הקורא--שמו already occurred, _verbatim_, in v. 8. הקורא
stands in the same relation to וישפכם, as in ver. 5 נוגע does to ותמוג
and is equivalent to: "Upon whose mere word the waters of the sea cover
the surface of the earth;" compare Gen. vi. 17: "And, behold, I do
bring the flood of waters upon the earth." The sea is the common emblem
of the heathen world; compare remarks on Ps. xciii., civ. 6-9. In chap.
vii. 4, the "great flood" is contrasted with the "lot" in Deut. xxxiii.
9,--the heathen world, with the people of God. The fire of war, which
the Lord kindles, devours both in the same way. Here, in contrast with
the deluge, the conquering inundation of the earth proceeds from the
midst of the heathen world, stirred up by the Lord, and destroys first
of all unfaithful Israel, who, had they been [Pg 384] faithful to the
Covenant, would have been able to say, as in Ps. xlvi. 2-4, "God is our
refuge and strength, a help in trouble He is found very much. Therefore
will we not fear when the earth is overturned, and the mountains shake
in the midst of the sea; its waters roar and foam, mountains tremble by
its swelling."

Ver. 7. "_Are you not as the sons of the Cushites unto Me, O children
of Israel? saith the Lord. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land
of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and Aram from Kir?_"

The prophet here deprives the people of another prop of false security.
They boasted of their election, by which God Himself, as they imagined,
had bound His hands. They considered the pledge of it--the deliverance
from Egypt--as a charter of security against every calamity, as an
obligation to further help in every distress, which God could not
retract even if He would. A great truth lay at the foundation of this
error,--a truth which has been disregarded by the greater number of
interpreter's, who have, in consequence, forced upon the prophet a
sense which is altogether false.[4] The election of the people, and
their deliverance from Egypt, were actually what they considered them
to be. God Himself had in reality thereby bound His hands; He _was
obliged_ to deliver the people. He _could_ not cast them off. The
election was an act of free grace; the manifestation of it in deeds was
an act of His righteousness. The people had a right to remind Him of
His duty, when He seemed not to perform it. Their election was then a
firm anchorage of hope, a rich source of consolation, the foundation of
all their prayers. But the error consisted in this, that the election
was usurped by those to whom it did not belong,--an error which is
continually repeating itself, and which shows itself in a fearful form,
especially in the case of those who believe in the doctrine of
Predestination. We need, for example, refer only to _Cromwell_, who, in
the hour of death, silenced, by this false consolation, all the
accusations of his [Pg 385] conscience. Περιτομὴ μὲν γὰρ ὠφελεῖ, says
the Apostle, in Rom. ii. 25, ἐὰν νόμον πράσσῃς· ἐὰν δὲ παραβάτης νόμου
ᾕς, ἡ περιτομή σου ἀκροβυστία γέγονεν. The deliverance from Egypt
stands on the same footing as circumcision. The former also was
profitable; to those who showed themselves to be children of Israel, it
afforded the certainty that God would prove Himself to be their God.
For those, however, who had become degenerate, it entered altogether
into the circle of ordinary events. For them, it became something that
had altogether passed away--that did not carry within itself any pledge
of renovation. This error is here laid open by the prophet, as he had
already done in v. 14: "Seek good and not evil, that ye may live, and
_thus_ the Lord, the God of hosts, be with you." He directs their
attention to the fact, that, in the Covenant-relation, which rests on
reciprocity, the party who broke the Covenant had nothing to ask,
nothing to hope for. "_Be not_," etc.; the _tertium comparationis_ is
evidently the alienation from God. The "children of Israel" (the
appellation expressive of their dignity is intentionally chosen in
order to make more striking the contradiction between the appearance
and the reality) have become so degenerate, that they are no more any
nearer to God than the sons of the Cushites. Those interpreters who
regard sin alone as the _tertium comparationis_ (_Cocceius_ says: "Ye
are so alienated from Him, and so unfaithful, that every one of you may
be called a Cushite"), give too limited a sense to the expression. "You
are to Me," is rather equivalent to, "I have not any more concern in
you, you stand not to Me in any other relation." But why are the
Cushites alone mentioned as an example of a people alienated from God?
Their colour, perhaps, is more to be considered in this, than their
descent from Ham; the physical blackness is viewed as an emblem of the
spiritual. Thus they appear in Jer. xiii. 23: "Will indeed the Cushite
change his skin, and the leopard his spots? will you indeed be able to
do good, who have been taught to do evil?" But the fundamental passage
is the inscription of Ps. vii., where Saul, on account of his black
wickedness, appears under the symbolical name of Cush.--The right
explanation of these first words furnishes, at the same time, the key
to the sound interpretation of the words which [Pg 386] follow: It is
only for the Covenant-people that the deliverance from Egypt is a
pledge of grace. But you are no longer the Covenant-people; your being
brought up out of Egypt, therefore, stands on the same line with the
bringing up of the Philistines from their former dwelling-places in
Caphtor to their present abodes, and with the bringing up of the
Syrians from Kir, in which no one will see a pledge of divine grace, a
preservative against every danger, and, especially, an assurance of the
impossibility of a new captivity. The geographical inquiries regarding
Caphtor and Kir would lead us too far away from the subject which we
are here discussing. The view which is now prevalent, and according to
which Crete is to be understood by the former, is in contradiction to
the old translations, which have Cappadocia, and with Gen. x. 14,--as
long as, in that passage, the Colchians are to be understood by the
Casluhim. But that point would require a minute investigation, which
may be more suitably carried on at some other place.

Ver. 8. "_Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful
kingdom, and I destroy them from off the face of the earth, saving that
I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord._"

_The_ sinful kingdom, whether its name be Israel or Judah, or whether
it be called Egypt or Edom. The holy God has not by any means, as you
in your blindness imagine, given you a privilege to sin. A difference
exists between Israel and the others in this respect only, that utter
ruin does not take place in the case of the former, as it does in that
of the latter. For the distinction between the people of God and other
nations consists in this, that in the former, there always remains a
holy seed, an ἐκλογή, which the Lord must protect, and make the nursery
of His kingdom, according to the same necessity of His nature as that
by which He extirpates the sinners of His people. The "sinful kingdom"
forms the contrast with the righteous kingdom; the article being here
used in a generic sense. Similar are Is. x. 6: "_I send him against
impious people, and against the people of My wrath_ (wheresoever there
are such) _I give him command_;" and Ps. xxxiii. 12: "Blessed is the
nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He hath chosen for His
inheritance;" on which latter passage _Michaelis_ remarks, "Blessed is
the nation, whichsoever it may be." The eyes of [Pg 387] the Lord are
open upon _the_ sinful kingdom, and hence also upon the house of Jacob;
it must be destroyed as all others are, but it cannot be _destroyed
like them_,--an idea which is prominently brought out by the prefixed
Infinit. השמיד. That is an erroneous interpretation which understands
by the sinful nation, Ephraim, and, after the example of _Grotius_ ("I
will destroy the kingdom, not the people"), assumes that, by the house,
in contrast with the kingdom, the people are intended. Such a contrast
betwixt the house and the kingdom would have required a more distinct
intimation. The house of Jacob, when referred to the ten tribes, is
identical with the kingdom. They were a house only in so far as they
were a kingdom. But it is both against the words (in Obad. ver. 17,
"house of Jacob" is likewise used of the whole of the nation), and
against the connection, to refer it to the ten tribes. When, however,
it is referred to the whole, a contrast betwixt people and kingdom can
the less have place, as, according to ver. 11, the kingdom also shall
be restored.--The first part of the verse is almost literally identical
with Deut. vi. 15: "For a jealous God is Jehovah, thy God, in thy
midst; lest the anger of Jehovah thy God be kindled against thee, and
He destroy thee from off the face of the earth," והשמידך מעל פני האדמה.
The prophet says nothing new; he only resumes the threatening of the
revered lawgiver.--The construction of עיני יהוה with ב is explained by
the circumstance that, according to the context, the eyes of the Lord
can mean only His angry eyes--equivalent to the anger of the Lord in
the passage quoted from Deuteronomy; and the verbs and nouns expressive
of anger are connected by ב with the object on which the anger rests;
compare Ps. xxxiv. 17.

Ver. 9. "_For behold I command and shake the house of Israel among all
the nations, as one shaketh in a sieve, and not shall anything firm
fall to the ground._"

The figure in this verse is, upon the whole, plain; but some of the
particulars require to be explained, and to be more accurately
determined. The signification "sieve," commonly assigned to כברה, must
be conceded to it. We must, however, here understand it of such a sieve
as serves similar purposes as a winnowing shovel, in which the corn is
violently shaken, and thus purified; and not of a sieve in which, by
mere sifting, the corn is freed from the dust which has remained after
the first [Pg 388] and proper cleansing. The latter is assumed by
_Paulsen_ (_vom Ackerbau der Morgenländer_, S. 144), and, along with
him, by the greater number of interpreters. Such a sieve--a kind of
fan--is mentioned in Is. xxx. 24, in addition to the winnowing shovel.
It occurs likewise in Luke xxii. 31, where συνιάζειν is _vanno
agitare_. The LXX. also have here adopted the explanation, not of an
ordinary sieve, but of an instrument which serves the same purposes as
the winnowing shovel: διότι ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι καὶ λικμιῶ (Α. λικμήσω)
ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσι τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ, ὃν τρόπον λίκμᾶται ἐν τῷ
λικμῷ. _Hesych._ λικμῷ, πτύῳ. To this we are likewise led by the verb
הניעותי, which is indicative of a violent procedure, and by the
occurrence of the same figure in so many passages of Scripture;
compare, _e.g._, Jer. li. 2; "I will send against Babylon fanners that
shall fan her, and shall empty her land;" Jer. xv. 7, and Matt. iii.
12; while the use of the ordinary sieve for such a purpose is never
mentioned, nor is it ever employed for a figure.--בכל־הגוים is not to
be translated, "_by_ all nations," but, as the corresponding בכברה
shows, "in," or "among all nations." The many people are the spiritual
sieve,--the means of purging. The Lord, whose instruments they are,
employs them for the destruction of the ungodly. They are taken away by
His secret judgments, for the execution of which He employs the
heathen; compare ver. 10. Even the godly are violently shaken; but the
hand of the Lord secretly upholds them that they may not sink, but
that the temptation may serve for their spiritual growth; compare
Luke xxii. 31, 32, where the Lord distinctly alludes to the passage
under consideration. The corn is shaken; dust and impurity fall to the
ground, the chaff flies into the air. Many interpreters ascribe
to צרור the signification, "corn;" others, "little stone." But these
significations have been both assumed merely for the sake of the
context. צרור, from צרר, _colligavit_, _constrinxit_, means, primarily,
"that which is tightly bound together;" then, "bundle," "bag;" but
here, as in 2 Sam. xvii. 13, "that which is compact, firm, and solid,"
as opposed to that which is loose, dissolved, and thin. That which is
here meant is the solid, firm corn, as opposed to the loose chaff, and
the dust which falls to the ground through the sieve.

Ver. 10. "_By the sword, shall die all the sinners of My people who
say, The evil will not come near, nor advance to us._"

[Pg 389]

In order that the preceding mitigation of the threatening of punishment
might not be appropriated by those to whom it did not belong, the
prophet, before passing on to the further detail of the promise, once
more presents the threatening in all its severity. "The sinners who
speak," etc., are they who usurped the promises of the Covenant without
having truly fulfilled its conditions,--who boasted of, and trusted in,
their belonging outwardly to the people of God (compare iii. 2), and
their zeal in the external performance of the duties of worship
(compare v. 21-23); and who therefore imagined that the judgments of
the Lord could not reach them, while, by their sins, they did all in
their power to draw them down upon them, v. 18, vi. 3.

Ver. 11. "_In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is
fallen, and wall up its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and build it
as the days of eternity._"

The words, "In that day," are to be understood quite generally, viz.,
as referring to a time after the divine judgments have broken in and
have completed their work upon Israel. μετὰ ταῦτα, by which James
renders it in Acts xv. 16, completely expresses the sense. The
assertion of _Baur_, "That the prophet must have conceived of the
restoration of the tabernacle of David as being near at hand, because
he recognised the instruments of judgment in the invading Assyrians,"
falls to the ground along with the supposition on which it rests. The
prophet has nothing at all special to do with the invasion of the
Assyrians.--The Partic. נפלת, according to the usual signification of
the Partic., expresses a permanent condition. The very expression,
"tabernacle," suggests the idea of a sunken condition of the house of
David. The prophet sees the proud palace of David changed into a humble
tabernacle, everywhere in ruins, and perforated. The same idea is
expressed by a different image in Is. xi. 1. There the house of David
is called the cut off trunk of Jesse, which puts forth a new shoot.
_Hofmann_ and others are of opinion that the prophet designates the
house of David as a fallen tabernacle, on account of its abasement at
the time then present. "At present," he says, "the lofty house of David
is a סכה נפלת when compared with the power of Jeroboam; but the latter
shall fall, and the former shall raise itself again from its decay."
But this designation is certainly not applicable to [Pg 390] the house
of David under a king like Uzziah, nor, in general, to the whole time
of the existing Davidic kingdom. The fact that Amos foresees the deep
fall of Judah, is placed beyond all doubt even by ii. 5. It is
impossible that the announcement of the restoration which is to
_follow_ only after this fall, should altogether ignore the latter.
This is, moreover, proved by the parallel passages. The predictions of
all the prophets are pervaded by the foresight of the Messiah's
appearing at the time of the deepest debasement of the Davidic dynasty,
and after the total loss of the royal dignity; compare the remarks on
Mic. iv. 8, vi. (2); Is. xi. 1, liii. 2; Ezek. xvii. 22-24.--It might
now appear as though the prophet here only supposed the ruin of the
house of David, without having, in the preceding context, expressly
mentioned it; but such is not the case. The whole of the preceding
threatening of punishment relates to the ruin of the house of David;
for when the kingdom suffers, the reigning family cannot but suffer
also. This close connection of the two is pointed out by the prophet
himself in the subsequent words. The change of the suffixes is there
certainly not without a reason. The suffix in פרציהן refers to the two
kingdoms; that in הריסתיו to David; and that in בניתיה to the
tabernacle, while the subject of יירשו (ver. 12) is the people. By this
it is intimated that David, his tabernacle, the kingdoms, and the
people, are in substance one--that one stands and falls with the other.
They who overlook the co-reference to Judah, in the preceding verses,
do not know what to make of the suffix in פרציהן (compare the
expression "these kingdoms," used of Judah and Israel in vi. 2), and,
in their uncertainty, conjecture sometimes one thing and sometimes
another.--ימי is Nominat., not Accusat. The comparison is merely
intimated; compare remarks on Hos. ii. 17. The circumstance that
the happy days of the times of David and Solomon are here spoken
of as "days of eternity"--of the remotest past (compare Mic. vii.
14)--implies that the prophet sees a long interval between the present
and the predicted event.--The foundation of this prophecy is the
promise to David in 2 Sam. vii.; compare especially ver. 16: "And thine
house and thy kingdom shall be sure in eternity before thee, and thy
throne shall be firm in eternity." This reference has also been pointed
out by _Calvin_, who remarks: "When the prophet says, 'as in the days
of old,' he confirms [Pg 391] the doctrine that the dignity of
the house would not always flow in an equal current, but that,
nevertheless, there would always be such a restoration as would make it
easily perceptible that God's promise of an eternal dominion to David
had not been in vain." The dominion of David had already suffered a
considerable shock by the separation of the two kingdoms, existing at
the prophet's time; but it was in future to sink even far more deeply,
and the people along with it. But, with all these things, God's promise
remains true. The judgments do not shut up the way for His mercy, but
rather prepare it. That it was only through the family of David that
the promised salvation could be imparted to the people, the prophet
plainly declares. If it were not so, how could he have identified the
tabernacle of David with the two kingdoms, and with the people? As to
the person of the restorer, he does not more particularly designate it.
The main thing with him, as with Hosea (compare the remarks on Hos. ii.
2, and iii. 5), is to impress upon the people of Israel the conviction,
that salvation could come to them only from a reunion with Judah--from
their joining again the house of David; compare Ezek. xxxvii. 22: "And
I make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and
one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two
nations, and they shall be no more divided into two kingdoms." But if
this was sure and established, there could then be no more any doubt as
to the person. It was at that time generally known that the promise
given to David would be finally fulfilled in the Messiah; and it was
generally acknowledged by the ancient Jews, that the passages under
consideration refer to the Messiah. _Jerome_ remarks: "The Jews refer
everything which, in this and the other prophets, is foretold
concerning the building up of Jerusalem and the temple, and the
happy condition of all things, to themselves, and foolishly expect
that all shall be fulfilled in a carnal sense." It is from the passage
under review that the Messiah received the name בר נפלים, _filius
cadentium_--He who springs forth from the fallen family of David;
compare _Sanhedrin_, fol. 96, 2: R. Nachman said to R. Isaac, Hast thou
heard when בר נפילים is to come? The latter answered: Who is he? R.
Nachman said: The Messiah. R. Isaac: But is the Messiah thus named? R.
Nachman: Certainly, in Amos ix. 11: [Pg 392] "In that day I will raise
up the tabernacle of David that is fallen." In _Breshith Rabbah_, sec.
88, we read: "Who would have expected that God should raise up again
the fallen tabernacle of David? And yet we read in Amos ix. 11, 'In
that day,' etc. And who could have hoped that the whole world could yet
become one flock? And yet, such is declared in Zeph. iii. 9: 'Then will
I turn to the people in pure lips, that they all may call upon the name
of the Lord, and serve Him with one lip.' But all that is prophesied
only in reference to the Messiah." See _Schöttgen_, p. 70, and other
passages, especially from the _Sohar_, ibid. p. 111, 566.

Ver. 12. "_In order that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of
all the heathen upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord that doeth

_Calvin_ remarks on this verse: "This main point is plainly declared to
us, that there is here promised an extension of the kingdom under
Christ; and it is just as if the prophet had said that the Jews were
enclosed within narrow limits, even when the kingdom of David did most
flourish, inasmuch as, under Christ, God is to extend their territory,
so that they shall rule far and wide." There is here an evident
allusion to the times of David, which, in the last words of the
preceding verse, formed the subject of discourse. This is quite plain
also from the mention of the Edomites. These had been made subject by
David; but afterwards, availing themselves of the commencing fall of
David's tabernacle, they had again freed themselves. Not only they,
however, but all the other heathen nations, shall be again subjected to
the raised up tabernacle of David. That former event served as a type
and prelude to the latter, and formed moreover a prophecy of it in
deeds, inasmuch as both rested on the same foundation, viz., God's
protection of His Church, and His care for His kingdom. It is for this
reason too, that, with an allusion to the former event, the verb יירשו
is chosen. By this verb, expression is given only to the fact of their
agreement, and to points in which those events agree; but it gives no
indication of _how far_ they agree, or in what respects they differ;
this is to be declared in the subsequent words. The prophet, however,
in speaking only of the _remnant_ of Edom, looks back to the
threatening in chap. i. They only who have been preserved in the
judgment which is there announced, are to come [Pg 393] under the
blissful dominion of the kingdom of David. As Israel, so also the
Gentiles, must be prepared for the coming of the kingdom of Christ by
crushing judgments. The judgment upon Israel is only a single portion
of a great judgment upon all nations. Into this connection it is
brought by the very opening chapters of this book. In chap. v. 8, vii.
7, there is likewise an intimation of great calamities and shakings,
which are to come upon the heathen world. The submission of the remnant
of the heathen world, however, will not be an abasement, but, on the
contrary, an exalting of them; this is shown by the words, "Upon whom
My name is called." These words do not allow us to think of such a
relation of Edom and the other nations to Israel, as existed at the
time of David in the case of the conquered nations. They are never used
to designate a form of allegiance to the Lord so low and false, but
always denote the relation of close and cordial allegiance. The heathen
are in future to be considered and treated as those who are consecrated
to the Lord, and who belong to His holy people,--just as Israel is now
considered and treated. Compare, as to the use of these words with
reference to Israel, Deut. xxviii. 9, 10: "The Lord shall raise thee
_an Holy people unto Him_, as He hath sworn unto thee ... and all
people of the earth see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee,
and are afraid of thee." In this verse, the expression, "The name of
the Lord is called upon thee," corresponds with "holy people." Jer.
xiv. 9: "And Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and Thy name is
called upon us." Is. lxiii. 19: "We are those over whom Thou hast not
reigned from eternity, and upon whom Thy name has not been called." As
regards the use of these words in reference to the temple, compare,
further, Jer. vii. 10, 11: "And ye come and stand before Me in this
house, upon which My name is called. Is, perhaps, this house upon which
My name is called, a den of robbers in your eyes?" The exceeding
greatness of their wickedness is denounced in these words; and the
ground why it is so great, is not by any means the fact, that the
temple, as was indeed the case with that at Bethel, bore the name of
the house of God only by the caprice of the people, but that it really
was the house of God, and that God, in His gracious condescension, was
there _really_ present, as a type of His dwelling in Christ; compare
Deut. xii. 5: "The place which [Pg 394] the Lord your God shall choose
out of all your tribes, to put His name there." _Finally_, These words
are used in reference to single individuals, whom God, in a special
sense, has made His own, His representatives, the bearers of His word,
the mediators of His revelations, in Jer. xv. 16: "I found Thy words
and I did eat them, and Thy words became unto me the joy and rejoicing
of my heart: for Thy name was called upon me, Jehovah, God of hosts,"
etc., equivalent to, "For I was the messenger and representative of
Thee, the Almighty God."--_Hitzig_, _Hofmann_, and _Baur_ explain the
expression, "Upon whom My name is called," by, "Upon all the nations
who once, at the time of David, were in subjection to the people of
God." The use of the Preterite has been urged in favour of this
explanation; but it is certainly very rash to assert, on the ground of
this, that "this view alone is admissible according to the rules of
grammar." The statement of _Ewald_, § 135 _a_, is exactly applicable to
this case: "The _Perfectum_, when used with reference to some future
event, either mentioned or conceived of, may as well indicate the past
which _then_ has taken place." The sense might thus be: "All the
heathen upon whom then My name will be called." In the same sense, the
Preterite is used in another passage, quoted by _Hofmann_ for a
different purpose--viz., 2 Sam. xii. 28: "In order that I may not take
(אלכד) the city, and my name be called (נקרא) upon it." It militates,
however, against their view, that the name of the Lord being called
upon any one, has, according to all the parallel passages, a sense too
profound to admit of a relation to the Lord so loose and external being
thereby designated. It is used only of such as are received into the
condition of the people and sons of Jehovah, Hos. ii. 1 (i. 10).
_Further_, The mere restoration of the Davidic dominion over the
heathen is a very meagre thought, which is far from coming up to what
Jacob had foretold in Gen. xlix. 10, and to what David and Solomon
expected of the future; compare, _e.g._, Ps. lxxii. 11: "And all kings
worship Him, all the heathen serve Him."--The closing words, "Thus
saith the Lord that doeth this," are intended to strengthen faith in a
promise which appears to be incredible, by calling attention to the
fact, that the person who promises is also the person who carries it
out to its fulfilment; compare Jer. xxxiii. 2: "Thus saith the Lord
that makes it, the Lord that forms it, [Pg 395] to carry it out, the
Lord is His name." This closing formula is also very ill suited for so
meagre a prediction as that of the restoration of the old borders, of
which Israel, under the reign of Uzziah and Jeroboam, was not so very
far short. It was, probably, solely from a false interpretation of the
passage under review, that an important historical event had its rise.
Hyrcanus compelled the Idumeans, who were conquered by him, to be
circumcised, and in that way to be incorporated into the Theocracy; so
that they lost entirely their national existence and name (_Jos. Arch._
xiii. 9, 1; _Prideaux Hist. des Juifs_, vol. v. p. 16). This proceeding
differed so materially from that which was ordinarily followed--for
David did not think it at all necessary to adopt a similar proceeding
against the Idumeans, and the other nations which were conquered by
him--that it necessarily requires some special reason to account for
it; and such a reason is furnished by the passage under consideration.
Hyrcanus washed to be instrumental in the fulfilment of the prophecy
contained in it; but in this he failed. He did not consider, 1. That
the reception of Edom into the kingdom of God is here brought into
connection with the restoration of the tabernacle of David, and hence
could be brought about only by a king of the house of David. He did not
consider, 2. That the matter here in question is not such a reception
into the kingdom of God as depends upon the will of man, but a
spiritual reception, which carries along with it the full enjoyment of
divine blessings. That it was, however, easy for Hyrcanus to fall into
such a mistake, is shown by the example of _Grotius_, who confined
himself to this merely apparent fulfilment, although he had the real
fulfilment before his eyes. By a similar misunderstanding of Old
Testament prophecies, other important events also were brought about;
_e.g._, according to the express testimony of Josephus, the building of
the Egyptian temple, and, as we shall afterwards see, the building of
the temple by Herod.

It now only remains to consider the quotation of this passage in the
New Testament, in Acts xv. 16, 17. _Olshausen_ has directed attention
to a difficulty regarding it, which has been overlooked by the greater
number of interpreters. He says that one cannot well see how the
quotation bears upon the point at issue. Both parties were at one as to
the duty of admitting the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. The only
question was [Pg 396] about the manner of their reception--whether
with, or without, circumcision--and as to this, the prophecy, which
confines itself to the fact only, does not contain any express
declaration. But this difficulty has its sole foundation on the
erroneous view that James was stating two reasons altogether
independent of each other;--the first in ver. 14, God's declaration by
facts, in His having given His Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, without
their having been circumcised; and then, in vers. 16, 17, the testimony
of the Old Testament. But the sound view rather is, that both together
form only one reason. Apart from that testimony which God, the Searcher
of hearts, had given to the Gentiles by the gift of the Holy Spirit,
and by making no difference betwixt them and Israel, the prophetic
declaration would have been without any significance; but it acquires
this significance when combined with the testimony of God. It is now
also that the silence of James, in reference to that condition which
was demanded by those of a pharisaic tendency, gains significance.
Simeon has declared how God at first was pleased to take a people for
His name out of the Gentiles; and after the _fact_ of their reception
has been so expressively declared, the Old Testament passage, where
this reception is spoken of, is not cognizant of any other _mode_. The
Apostle does not content himself with quoting ver. 12; he first cites
ver. 11, because it furnished the proof that the declaration contained
in ver. 12 referred to that time. That event, with which the conversion
of the Gentiles is here immediately connected, had already taken place
in Christ, at least as to the germ, which contained within itself the
whole substance which afterwards displayed itself. But it was the main
thought only which came into consideration in ver. 11, and therefore it
is somewhat abbreviated. In the quotation, the translation of the LXX.
evidently forms the foundation.

The quotation of ver. 12 agrees, almost _verbatim_, with the LXX. It
follows them in their important deviation from the Hebrew text. Instead
of, "In order that they may occupy the remnant of Edom," the LXX. read,
ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν σἱ καταλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων με (instead of με Luke
has τὸν κύριον, which is found in the _Cod. Alex._ also, but has very
likely come in from Luke). It is of very little consequence to
determine in what manner the translation of the LXX. arose; whether
they had a different reading, למען ידרשו שארית אדם, [Pg 397] before
them; or whether they merely read erroneously; or whether, according to
_Lightfoot_ (in his remarks on Acts xv. 16, 17), they intentionally
thus altered the words; or whether it was their object to express the
sense only generally and approximately (in the last two cases we should
be obliged to suppose that, by a kind of play, and in order to
represent, in an outward manner, the substantial agreement of the
thought, they chose words exactly corresponding to the Hebrew text,
with the exception of a change of a few letters,--a thing which
frequently occurs in the Talmud, and even in Jeremiah when compared
with the older prophets); only, we must set aside the idea of a really
different reading,--a reading resting on the authority of good
Manuscripts, inasmuch as such an idea would be irreconcilable with the
deviations of the LXX. elsewhere, and with the unanimity of the Hebrew
Manuscripts in the passage before us. The assertion of _Olshausen_,
however, that, in the Hebrew form, the passage would not have been
suitable for the purpose, and that therefore it is probable that, on
this occasion, Greek must have been spoken in the assembly, does indeed
deserve our attention.

Whether or not the latter was the case, we leave undecided. That it was
probable, may be proved from other grounds, but it by no means follows
from the reason stated by _Olshausen_. The passage was suited for the
proof, as well according to the Hebrew text, as according to the
Alexandrian version; for the latter is quite correct and faithful in so
far as the sense is concerned. The _occupying_, in the sense in which
it is used by Amos, has the _seeking_ for its necessary supposition.
For how, indeed, can spiritual possession, spiritual dominion by the
people of the Lord exist, unless the Lord has been sought by those who
are to be ruled over? Compare the declaration: "The isles shall wait
for His law," Is. xlii. 4. The words, "And of all the heathen,"
following immediately after Edom, evidently prove that Amos mentions
Edom, only by way of individualizing; and the Idumeans, especially, as
a people, only because their former, specially violent hatred to the
Covenant-people (compare i. 11) made their future humble submission
more evidently a work of the omnipotence of God, and of His love
watching over His people; and at the same time there may be a reference
also to the former subjection by David. The LXX. [Pg 398] have done
nothing more, than at once to substitute for the particular, the
general which comprehends this particular,--a particular which is, by
Amos too, designated as a part of the general.[5]

Ver. 13. "_Behold, days come, saith the Lord, and the ploughman
reacheth to the reaper, and the treader of the wine-press to him that
soweth seed. And the mountains drop must, and all the hills melt._"

The fundamental thought in this passage is this:--Wheresoever the Lord
is, there also is the fulness of His gifts.--The imagery in the first
hemistich is taken from Lev. xxvi. 3-5: "If ye shall walk in My laws,
and keep My commandments and do them; then I will give your rains in
their seasons, and the land gives its produce, and the tree of the
field gives its fruit. And your threshing _reaches_ to the vintage, and
the vintage _reaches to the sowing_ time." After the Lord has purified
His congregation by His judgments, then the joyful time of blessing,
prophesied by His servant Moses, shall likewise come. _Cocceius_ says:
"One shall reap, the other shall immediately plough; one shall scatter
the seeds in the ploughed field, while another shall, at the same time,
tread the grapes,--a work is wont to be done at the last time of the
year. There shall be continual work, and continual fruit, and a
fruitfulness such as that in the land of the Troglodytes which
_Scaliger_ (_Exercit._ 249, 2) thus describes: 'Throughout the whole
year there is sowing and reaping at the same time; at one place the
seed is committed to the fields, and at another the wheat shoots up, at
another it gets ears, at another it is reaped, at another it is
collected, and [Pg 399] brought to the threshing-places, and thence to
the barn.'"--The second hemistich agrees with Joel iv. (iii.) 18 (which
is certainly not accidental; compare the introduction to Joel): "At
that time the mountains shall drop must, and the hills go with milk."
From a comparison of this passage it appears that the melting of the
hills can mean only their dissolving into rivers of milk, must, and
honey, with an allusion to the description of the promised land in the
Pentateuch (Exod. iii. 8) as a land flowing with milk and honey.

Ver. 14. "_And I turn Myself to the captivity of My people Israel, and
they build waste cities, and dwell, and plant vineyards, and drink
their wine; and they make gardens and eat their fruit._"

The captivity is a figure of misery. With reference to שבות שוב compare
the remarks on Joel.

Ver. 15. "_And I plant them in their land, and they shall no more he
plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord
thy God._" Compare p. 227 seqq.

Footnote 1: _Hofmann_, _Schriftbeweis_ I. S. 312, objects: "If this
were correct, Paul ought to have delivered that fornicator at Corinth
(1 Cor. v. 5), or Hymeneus and Alexander (1 Tim. i. 20), not to Satan,
but to the good angels." But the individuals mentioned were members of
the Church of Christ, and they were delivered to Satan, not for their
absolute destruction, but for their salvation: ἵνα τὸ πνεῦμα, (which of
course was still in existence; and it is just the πνεῦμα that separates
between the world and the Church, compare Ps. li. 13) σωθῇ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ
τοῦ Κυρίου, ἵνα παιδευθῶσι μὴ βλασφημεῖν. It is, as in the case of Job,
a punishment with a view to purification, for which power is given to
Satan, Heb. xii. 6. These passages, then, serve only to confirm the
view which we have expressed.

Footnote 2: The same is probably the case in vi. 14: "For behold I
raise up against you, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God of Hosts,
heathen people; and they shall afflict you from Hamath unto the river
of the wilderness." The river of the wilderness can here be none other
than the river of Egypt, which commonly appears as the boundary of the
whole. Compare 1 Kings viii. 65; 2 Chron. vii. 8, where Solomon
assembles the whole people from Hamath unto the river of Egypt; Josh.
xv. 4, 47; 2 Kings xxiv. 7; Is. xxvii. 12. They who think of the
boundary of the kingdom of the ten tribes only, are at a loss, and have
recourse to uncertain conjectures.

Footnote 3: In Micah i. 15 the entire people are called Jacob. The same
occurs also in Hos. x. 11, xii. 3 (2).

Footnote 4: _Hitzig_ says: With a disposition of mind different from
that in iii. 2, the prophet says here, "You enjoy no privileges with
me, you are to me like all others." A strange disposition of mind
indeed for a prophet! An interpretation which results in such thoughts,
which cannot be entertained for a moment, is self-condemned.

Footnote 5: Whether, however, it was James or Luke who quoted these
words according to the version of the LXX., this passage is one of the
many hundreds which prove that the violent urging and pressing for an
improvement in our (German) authorized version of the Scriptures, as it
proceeded from _von Meier_ and _Stier_, is exaggerated. The Saviour and
His Apostles adopted, without hesitation, the version current at their
time, when its deviations concerned not the thought but the words. If
we proceed upon this principle, how will the mountain of complaints
melt away which has been raised against _Luther's_ translation of the
Scriptures. But it is true that, even then, weighty objections remain.
The revision of it is a want of the Church; but it is not so urgent
that we may not, and must not, wait for the time when it may be
satisfied without danger. If it were undertaken at present, the
disadvantages would far outweigh the advantages. To everything there is
a season; and it is the duty of the wise steward to find it out, and to
know it.

                        THE PROPHECY OF OBADIAH.

We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time
when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, _Caspari_ has
proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence
belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, _i.e._, to the time of
Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who
would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile,
there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this
prophecy occupies in the collection of the prophets which is
chronologically arranged, but there are also the following facts;--that
those who are to inflict the predicted calamity upon Judah are not at
all more definitely characterized than in the first part of Hosea, in
Joel, and Amos;--that, in like manner, the heathen power from which the
overthrow of Edom is to proceed, is neither mentioned, nor more
definitely pointed out in any other way;--that Jeremiah already made
use of Obadiah's prophecy; and if such be denied, the older foundation
would then be withdrawn from the prophecy of Jeremiah--which would be
contrary [Pg 400] to the analogy of Jeremiah's prophecies against
foreign nations;--and, finally, that, in vers. 12-14, the prophet
exhorts the Edomites neither to rejoice nor to co-operate in the
destruction of Jerusalem, because, otherwise, they would certainly
receive the well-merited reward of such wickedness committed against
the Covenant-people, to whom they were so nearly related. Such an
exhortation would have been out of place, after the wickedness had been
committed.--The view of _Hofmann_ (which was revived by _Delitzsch_ in
his treatise, "When did Obadiah prophesy?" [_Guerike's Zeitschrift_ 51,
_Hft._ 1])--according to which the capture of Jerusalem by the
Philistines and Arabians under Jehoram (2 Chron. xxi. 16 ff.) was the
occasion of the prophecy before us, and according to which Obadiah is
thus made the oldest among all the prophets in the Canon, and separated
by nearly a century from the three prophets who preceded him--overlooks
the fact that only cogent reasons could induce us to assume so isolated
a position, since it is certainly not a matter of accident that the
written prophecy began its course under the reign of Jeroboam and
Uzziah. The guilt and punishment of Edom are, in like manner, spoken of
in the Preterite; and it is inadmissible to understand the Preterites
as historical, in so far as they refer to the guilt, and as
prophetical, in so far as they refer to the punishment. The words, "Day
of their destruction," in ver. 12, are decisive against every other
catastrophe upon Judah, but that of the Chaldean. Ver. 20, when rightly
interpreted, supposes the carrying away of Israel and Judah, and hence
allows us to think only of the Assyro-Chaldean catastrophe. In ver. 21,
Mount Zion is forsaken, and "the saviours" return to it from the land
of captivity.

In strict accordance with the position of the book in the Canon, is the
fact, that Obadiah connects himself most closely with Joel, and,
excepting him, among all the prophets, with Amos only; compare
_Caspari_, S. 20 ff., 35; _Hävernick_, _Einleitung_ II. S. 318. Of
greater importance than the coincidences in particulars, is the fact
that the prophecy of Obadiah, upon the whole, connects itself most
closely and immediately with the fourth (third) chapter of Joel--that
in the prophecy of Obadiah, we have indeed a _variation_ on that
chapter. The judgment upon Judah, which Joel announces in the first
part, [Pg 401] is here supposed to have already taken place; and this
might be done so much the rather, because, even in Joel, the prophetic
_Plerophory_, with which rationalistic interpreters are so much
puzzled, has changed the Future into the Present and Past--as, even
there, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the overflowing of the whole
country by the heathen, are represented as already existing. It is only
the judgment upon the heathen, and the restoration of Israel, which
Obadiah represents in his prophetic picture.

Like Hosea (in the first three chapters), Joel, and Amos, so Obadiah
also, received the mission to point out the catastrophe threatened by
the world's power, even before the latter existed on the scene of
history. It was to the Covenant-people a source of rich consolation
that it was so clearly and distinctly foretold to them, even before it
had an existence, and the points of view from which it must be regarded
were opened up to them. He, however, distinctly points to one idea
only, just because there were already predecessors to whose prophecies
he could refer. He did not receive the mission to call to repentance,
or to represent the judgment as a well-deserved punishment--although,
_indirectly_, in him as well as in Joel, these thoughts also occur, as
certainly as the supposed destruction of Judah and Israel could only be
the punishment of their sin; he has to point out only the salvation
subsequent to the overflowing by the heathen world, the conquering
power of the kingdom of God which, in the end, will manifest itself,
and deeply to impress upon the Covenant-people the words: θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ
νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον. The glaring contrast betwixt the _idea_--according
to which the kingdom of God was to be all prevailing--and the
_reality_, in which it is pressed into a corner, shall in future
increase still more. Even from this corner, the people of God shall be
driven. But death is the transition to life; the uttermost degree of
sufferings, the forerunner of deliverance and salvation. Not a
restoration only is in store for the people of God--they even obtain
the dominion of the world; but to the heathen world, which is at enmity
with God, their exaltation is a forerunner of destruction.

All which Obadiah had to say in reference to the heathen, God-hating
world, and to the form which, in future, Israel's [Pg 402] relation to
it would assume, has been exemplified by him in the case of Edom. For
the fact, that it is only the heathen power individualized which we
have before us, is shown by the transition to the heathen in general in
ver. 15, according to which, Edom comes into consideration only as a
part of the whole: "For near is the day of the Lord upon _all the
heathen_." So also is it in ver. 16: "For as ye[1] have drunk upon My
holy mountain, so shall _all the heathen_ drink continually;[2] and
they drink, and sup up, and they are as though they were not." When
speaking of the guilt, he mentions Edom only; when speaking of
punishment, he introduces all the heathen at once. According to ver.
17, Israel shall occupy the possessions of _all the heathen_. And even
the last words of the whole prophecy, "And the kingdom shall be the
Lord's," show that it bears a universal character,--that in the case of
Edom, we have only a principle exemplified which applies to all the
enemies of the kingdom of God. The leading thought is: The kingdom of
God shall obtain universal dominion, which follows the deepest
abasement of the people of God, and of which the fullest and most
perfect realization must be sought in Christ.

The animating thought could be so much the better individualized in the
case of Edom, as its natural relation to Israel was one of special
nearness, and its hatred specially deep; and as, moreover, it at all
times considered itself the rival of Israel, of whose advantages it was
envious. That which Amos, the cotemporary of Obadiah, says of Edom in
chap. i. 11--"He pursues his brother with the sword, and corrupts his
compassions, and his anger tears perpetually, and he keeps his wrath
for ever"--shows how exceedingly well he was fitted to be a
representative of the enemies of the kingdom of God. It was so much the
more obvious thus to represent Edom as a particular and individualizing
exemplification of this principle, as the prophets of that period had
not as yet received any more definite disclosures as to the threatening
kingdoms of the future, while Edom, in his [Pg 403] hatred against the
people of God, stood before their eyes. The germ of this is to be found
in Joel iv. (iii.) 19, where Edom already appears as a representative
and type of the God-hating heathen world, which is to be judged by the
Lord, after the judgment upon Judah.

In Obadiah, we find a fulness of remarkable glances into the
future compressed within a narrow space. The chief events are the
following:--1. The capture of Jerusalem, the total carrying away of the
entire people, both of Judah and Israel, to a far distance, vers. 20,
21. 2. The return of Israel, the cessation of the separation of the two
kingdoms, ver. 18 (compare Hos. ii. 2 [i. 11]; Amos ix. 11, 12), and
his elevation to the dominion of the world by the "Saviours," ver. 21.
3. The judgment upon Edom by heathen nations, vers. 1-9. Jeremiah, in
xxvii. 2 ff., compared with xxv., more distinctly points out the
Chaldeans as the heathen instruments of the judgment upon Edom and all
the people round about; and Matt. i. 3, 4, shows the weight of the
sufferings which were inflicted by them upon Edom. 4. The occupation of
the land of Edom by Judah. One realization of this prophecy took place
in the time of the Maccabees; but we must not confine ourselves to
this. As, in the main, Edom is only a type of the God-hating heathen
world, the true and real fulfilment can be sought in Christ alone.
Compare the remarks, p. 98, with reference to Moab in Balaam's

The prophecy of Obadiah is divided into three parts:--the destruction
of Edom by heathen nations summoned by Jehovah, vers. 1-9; the cause of
it, his wickedness against Judah, vers. 10-16; Judah, on the contrary,
rises with Joseph from this humiliation, and becomes a conqueror of the
world, vers. 17-21. This last part claims our closer consideration.

Ver. 17. "_And upon Mount Zion shall be they that have escaped, and it
is holy_ (compare Joel iii. 5, iv. 17 [ii. 32, iii. 17]), _and the
house of Jacob occupies their possessions._"

The suffix in מורשיהם refers to all the heathen in ver. 16. The kingdom
shall be the Lord's, according to ver. 16, and the dominion of His
people extends as far as His own. We have here the general prophecy;
and in what immediately follows, the application to Edom. The first two
clauses serve as a foundation for the third. The holiness has, so to
speak, not only a [Pg 404] defensive, but also an offensive character.
Its consequence is the dominion of the world.

Ver. 18. "_And the house of Jacob becomes a fire, and the house of
Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble, and they kindle them,
and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining to the house of
Esau; for the Lord has spoken._"

Besides the whole of the people, that part of them (the house of
Joseph, the people of the ten tribes) is specially mentioned which one
might have expected to be excluded. That there is none remaining to the
house of Esau (and to all who are like him) agrees with the declaration
uttered by Joel in iii. 5 (ii. 32): "Amongst those who are spared, is
whomsoever the Lord calleth." They, however, whom the Lord calls, are,
according to the same verse, they who call on the name of the Lord.
But the characteristic of Edom is his hatred against the kingdom of
God,--and that excludes both the calling on the Lord, and the being
called by the Lord. The single individual, however, may come out of the
community of his people, and enter into the territory of saving grace,
as is shown by the example of Rahab. In the further description of the
conquering power, which the people of God shall, in future, exercise,
we are, in ver. 19, first met by Judah and Benjamin.

Ver. 19. "_And they of the south possess the Mount of Esau, and they
from the low region, the Philistines; and they_ (_i.e._, they of Judah,
the whole, of whom they of the South and of the low region are parts
only) _possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria, and

It is obvious that we have here before us only an individualized
representation of the thought already expressed in Gen. xxviii. 14:
"And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt break
forth to the East and to the West, to the North and to the South; and
in thee, and in thy seed, all the families of the earth are blessed;"
compare also Is. liv. 3: "Thou shalt break forth on the right hand and
on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles."--נגב is the
south part of Judea, at the borders of Edom; שפלה the low region on the
West, at the borders of the Philistines. As, according to the vision of
the prophet, the exaltation of Judah is preceded by his total overthrow
and captivity (compare vers. 11-14, 20, 21), the tribe of Judah, which,
before the catastrophe, was settled in [Pg 405] the South and low
region, is here meant. That את can be taken only as the sign of the
Accus., and "Mount of Esau," accordingly, as the object only, appears
from ver. 20, according to which the South is vacant. Judah thus
extends in the South, over Edom, in the West, over Philistia, in the
North, over the former territory of the ten tribes, and hence also over
the territory of Benjamin, which formerly lay betwixt Judah and Joseph.
Benjamin is indemnified by Gilead. The whole of Canaan comes thus to
Judah and Benjamin. Joseph, to whose damage, according to ver. 18, this
enlargement of Judah's territory must lead, must be transferred
altogether to heathenish territory. We expect to find, in ver. 20, how
he is indemnified.

Ver. 20. "_And the exiles of this host of the children of Israel (shall
possess) what are Canaanites unto Zarephath, and the exiles of
Jerusalem that are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the South._"

The circumstance that the Athnach stands below ספרד indicates that ירשו
implies the common property of the exiles of this host, and of the
exiles of Jerusalem. The "Sons of Israel," in this context, can only be
the ten tribes; for they are here indemnified for their former
territory, which, according to ver. 19, has become the possession of
Judah. "The exiles of this host" is equivalent to: "This whole host of
exiles,"--the whole mass of the ten tribes, carried away according to
prophetic foresight (compare Amos v. 27: "And I carry you away beyond
Damascus, saith the Lord, the God of hosts"), as opposed to a piecemeal
carrying away, such as had once already taken place before the time of
the prophet in respect to Judah, but not in respect to the children of
Israel; compare Joel iv. (iii.) 6. That the "Canaanites unto
Zarephath"--_i.e._, the Phœnicians, whose territory formed part
of the promised land, but had never, in former times, come into
the real possession of Israel--are the objects of conquest, and
that, hence, we cannot explain as _Caspari_ does, "Who are among
the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath," is evident from the circumstance,
that all the neighbouring nations appear as objects of the conquering
activity;--that the great mass of the Israelitish exiles were not among
the Canaanites;--that the ב could, in that case, not have been
omitted;--and that the South country is too small [Pg 406] a space for
the children of Israel, and of Jerusalem together. Sepharad, the very
name of which is scarcely known, is mentioned as a particularizing
designation of the utmost distance. The description becomes complete by
its returning to the South country, from which it had proceeded. The
South country penetrates to Edom; the inhabitants of Jerusalem extend
beyond the South country.

Ver. 21. "_And saviours go up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau,
and the kingdom shall be the Lord's._"

עלו is to be accounted for from the consideration, that the deliverance
and salvation imply the entire overthrow--the total carrying away of
the people. The Saviour κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν is hidden beneath the "saviours;"
compare Judges iii. 9, 15; Neh. ix. 27. But even here, everything is
connected with human individuals; and the more glorious the salvation
which the prophet beholds in the future, viz., the absolute dominion of
the Lord, and His people, over the world, the less can it be conceived
that the prophet should have expected the realization of it by a
collective body of mortal men without a leader. But the plural
intimates that the antitype is not without types,--that the head cannot
be conceived of without members. In Jer. xxiii. 4, we read: "And I
raise up shepherds over them which shall feed them;" and immediately
afterwards the one good shepherd--Christ--forms the subject of
discourse.--"And the kingdom shall be the Lord's."--His dominion, till
_then_ concealed, shall now be publicly manifested, and the people of
the earth shall acknowledge it, either spontaneously, or by constraint.
The coming of this kingdom has begun with Christ, and, in Him, waits
for its consummation. The opinion of _Caspari_, that the contents of
vers. 19 and 20, as well as the close of this prophecy, belong
altogether to the future, rests on a false, literal explanation, the
inadmissibility of which is sufficiently evident from the circumstance
that the Edomites, Philistines, and Canaanites have long since
disappeared from the scene of history; so that there exists no longer
the possibility of a literal fulfilment.

Footnote 1: The fact that, _everywhere_, the discourse is addressed to
the Edomites, proves that here also Edom is addressed. The כי and the
כאשר sin this verse, compared with those in the preceding verse,
likewise suggest this. Compare, moreover, Joel iv. (iii.) 3, to which
passage there is already an allusion in ver. 11.

Footnote 2: Namely, the cup of punishment, of divine wrath.

[Pg 407]

                           THE PROPHET JONAH.

It has been asserted without any sufficient reason, that Jonah is older
than Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah,--that he is the oldest among the
prophets whose written monuments have been preserved to us. The passage
in 2 Kings xiv. 25, where it is said, that Jonah, the son of Amittai
the prophet, prophesied to Jeroboam the happy success of his arms, and
the restoration of the ancient boundaries of Israel, and that this
prophecy was confirmed by the event, cannot decide in favour of this
assertion, because it cannot be proved that the victories of Jeroboam
belonged to the _beginning_ of his reign. On the other hand, it is
opposed, _first_, by the position of the book in the collection of
the Minor Prophets, which, throughout, is chronologically arranged,
and which is tantamount to an express testimony that Jonah wrote
_after_ Hosea, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah. _Then_,--the circumstance that
Nineveh is mentioned here, and that too in a way which implies that,
even at that time, the hostile relations of the Assyrians to the
Covenant-people had already begun, while in the first part of Hosea, in
Joel, Amos, and Obadiah, no reference to the Assyrians is as yet found.
Even ancient interpreters, as _Chr. B. Michaelis_, _Crusius_ (in the
_Theol. Proph._ iii. S. 38), inferred from this mention of Nineveh,
that the book had been composed in consequence of the first invasion of
the Assyrians under Menahem, who ascended the throne 13 years after the
death of Jeroboam II. _Finally_,--the book begins with _and_. Wherever
else, in the canonical books of the Old Testament, such a beginning
occurs, it indicates a resumption of, and a junction with, former links
in the chain of sacred literature; compare Judges i. 1; 1 Sam. i. 1;
Ezek. i. 1. That the expression, "And it came to pass," with which the
book opens, is intended to establish the connection with the prophecy
of Obadiah, which occupies the immediately preceding place in the
Canon, is intimated by the internal relation of the two books to each
other. The prophecy of Obadiah bears, throughout, a hostile aspect to
the heathen world; it appears to him as the object only of God's
judging activity. Jonah, on the other hand, received the mission,
distinctly to point out the other aspect of the matter, and [Pg 408]
thereby, not indeed to correct, but certainly to supplement his

The time was approaching when the heathen world was to pour out its
floods upon the people of God. It was obvious that the position of
Israel towards it became one altogether repulsive, that the
susceptibility of the heathen for salvation was denied, and God's mercy
was limited to Israel. Narrow-minded exclusiveness received a powerful
support from the oppression and haughtiness of the heathen. Whilst
other prophets opposed such exclusiveness by their words, by announcing
the extension of salvation to the Gentiles, Jonah received the mission
to illustrate, by a symbolical action, the capacity of the heathen for
salvation, and their future participation in it. The effect of this
must necessarily have been so much the greater, as the whole of the
little book is exclusively devoted to this subject, as it appeared at
the first beginning of the conflict, and as Nineveh is mentioned here,
for the first time, in so peaceable and conciliatory a relation, and in
close harmony and connection with the announcement of the willing
submission of the heathen world to the dominion of Shiloh, spoken of in
Gen. xlix. 10. It is remarkably impressive to see how spirit here
triumphs over nature--a triumph which appears so much the brighter
because the prophet himself pays his tribute to nature; for it was
because he listened to the voice of nature, that, at first, he intended
to flee to Tarshish. The reason why the commission of the Lord was so
disagreeable to him, we learn from chap. iv. 2. He was afraid lest the
preaching of repentance, which was committed to him, might turn away
the judgments of the Lord from Nineveh, the metropolis of that country
which threatened destruction to Israel. He knew the deep corruption of
his own people, and foreboded the issue which the extension of the
means of grace to the Gentiles might very easily bring about in the
end. But yet, he felt almost irresistibly impelled to carry out the
commission of God, and in order to cut himself off from the possibility
of following the voice which called him to the east, he resolved to go
to the far distant west. The voice, however, followed him even there;
but the farther he advanced on his journey, the more difficult it
became for him to follow it. At a later period, when the Lord granted
mercy to Nineveh, he was angry and wished to die, not by any means
because he [Pg 409] felt himself injured in his honour as a prophet (as
was erroneously supposed, even by _Calvin_), but because he grudged to
the Gentiles the mercy which he considered as a prerogative of Israel
only, and because he was anxious for the destruction of Nineveh as the
metropolis of that kingdom which was destined to be the rod of
chastisement for his own people. He was thus actuated by the same
ardent love for his people which called forth the wish of St Paul, that
he might become an anathema for his brethren,--by the same disposition
of mind which prevailed in the elder brother at the return of the
prodigal son (Luke xv. 25 ff.), and which at first would manifest
itself even in Peter, Acts x. 14 ff. The Jewish sentence (_Carpzov.
Introd._ 3, p. 149), "Jonah was anxious for the glory of the Son, but
he did not seek the glory of the Father," is very significant. Jonah
exhibits, in a very striking way, the thoughts of his old man, in order
that Israel might recognise themselves in his image. But we are not at
liberty to say that the prophet represented the people only. It is true
that, as one of the people, he also entertained those thoughts; but,
besides these, he entertained other thoughts also. The voices of the
Lord which he heard were spiritual; and such voices can be heard only
when there is something akin in the heart. Not even with one step did
Jonah touch the territory of the false prophets, who prophesied out of
their own hearts. He retained all his human weakness to himself, and
the Word of God stood by the side of it in unclouded brightness, and
obtained absolute victory.

There can be no doubt that we have before us in the Book of Jonah the
description of a symbolical action,--that his mission to Nineveh has an
object distinct from the mission itself,--that it is not the result
attained by it in the first instance which is the essential point, but
that it is its aim to bring to light certain truths, and in the form of
fact, to prophesy future things. The truths are these:--_First_, that
the Gentiles are by no means so unsusceptible of the higher truth as
vulgar prejudice imagined them to be. This was manifested by the
conduct of the sailors, who, at last, offer sacrifices and even vows to
Jehovah; but, in a more striking manner, by the deep impression which
the discourse of Jonah produced upon the Ninevites. In this we have the
actual proof of Ezek. iii. 5, 6, where the prophet represents his
mission as one of peculiar difficulty--more [Pg 410] difficult, even,
than it would have been if addressed to the Gentiles: "Had I sent thee
to them, surely they would have hearkened to thee." _Further_,--that it
is not in His relation to Israel only, but in His relation to the
Gentiles also, that the Lord is "gracious and merciful, slow to anger
and of great kindness," chap. iv. 2. The view which these words, at
once, open up into the future, is, that at some future period the Lord
will grant to the Gentiles the preaching of His word, and admission
into His kingdom. The glory of His mercy and grace would have been
darkened, if the revelation of them had been for ever limited to a
particular, small portion of the human race. Nineveh, the
representative of the heathen multitude, is very significantly called
the "great city" at the very outset, in i. 2, and "a great city for
God," in iii. 3, for which, as _Michaelis_ remarks, God specially
cared, on account of the great number of souls; compare iv. 11.

If the symbolical and prophetical character of the book be denied, the
fact of its having its place among the prophetical, and not among the
historical, books, admits of no explanation at all. For so much is
evident, that this fact cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the
circumstance that the book reports the events which happened to a
prophet. The sound explanation has been already given by _Marckius_:
"The book is, in a great measure, historical, but in such a manner,
that in the history itself there is hidden the mystery of the greatest
prophecy, and that Jonah proves himself to be a true prophet, by the
events which happened to him, not less than by his utterances." A
similar explanation is given by _Carpzovius_: "By his own example, as
well as by the event itself, he bore witness that it was the will of
God that all men should be saved, and should come to the knowledge of
the truth," 1 Tim. ii. 4.

We are led to the same conclusion by the representation itself. This
differs very widely from that given in the historical books. The
objection raised by _Hitzig_ against the historical truth,--viz., that
the narrative is fragmentary,--that it wants completeness,--that a
number of events are communicated only in so far as is required by the
object of gaining a foundation for the graphic representation of the
doctrinal contents,--cannot be set aside so easily as is done by
_Hävernich_ when he says: [Pg 411] "By arguments of a nature so flimsy,
suspicions may be raised against the truth of every historical report."
We cannot but confess that, to the writer, history is indeed a means
only of representing a thought to which he is anxious to give currency
in the Church of God. It is just for this reason that he abstains from
graphically enlarging, because that would have been an obstacle to his
purpose. The narrative of a symbolical action which took place
outwardly, comes, in this respect, under the same law as the narrative
of a symbolical action belonging to the internal territory, and to that
of the parable. The narrative would lose the character of perspicuity
which is so necessary for the whole matter, if it were complete in the
subordinate circumstances.

It also tells in favour of the symbolical character of the history of
Jonah, that the missionary activity on behalf of the Gentiles does not
properly belong to the vocation of the prophets, their mission being to
the two houses of Israel only. In the entire history, not even a single
example is to be found of a prophet who, for the good of the heathen
world itself, went out among them. The history of Elisha, in 2 Kings
viii. 7 ff., has, without sufficient reason, been adduced by
_Hävernick_. According to the visions of the prophets themselves, the
conversion of the heathen is not to be accomplished _at present_, but
in the Messianic time, and by the Messiah Himself. If, then, the book
itself is not to stand altogether isolated, the symbolical character of
Jonah's mission must be acknowledged. But then it is only in the form
that it differs from the announcements of the extension of salvation to
the heathen also,--announcements which occur in the other prophets
also. That which these exhibited in words merely, is here made
conspicuous by deeds. The influence thereby produced upon the heathen
appears then only as the means, while the real purpose is to make an
important truth familiar to the Congregation of God, and, by a striking
fact, to remove the prejudices which prevailed in it.

_Finally_,--If the symbolical character of the facts be denied, the
mission of Jonah appears to be almost divested of every aim; for the
good emotions of the crew, and the repentance of the Ninevites,
evidently did not lead to any lasting result. If anything else were
aimed at than the prefiguring of future events, the prophet might
better have stayed at home; an unassuming [Pg 412] ministry in some
corner among the Covenant-people would have carried along with it a
greater reward.

If, on the other hand, the symbolical character of the history of Jonah
be admitted, remarkable parallels in the history of Jesus present
themselves. The Saviour, in the days of His flesh, was satisfied with
the prophetic intimation of the future farther extension of His
salvation. That which He Himself did for this extension, in those
particular cases where the faith of non-Israelites obtruded itself upon
Him, must, in its isolation, be viewed as an embodiment of that
intimation,--as a prophecy by deeds. He says in Matt. xv. 24: "I am not
sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;" but if,
nevertheless. He purposely makes His abode in the territory of Tyre and
Sidon; if there He hears the prayer of the Canaanitish woman to heal
her daughter, after having first tried her faith, then His purpose
evidently is: That His prophecy in words concerning the extension of
salvation to the Gentiles, might find a support in His prophecy in
deeds. Jesus, prefiguring the future doings of His servants, passed
over the boundaries of the Gentiles. Whilst the Jews had rejected the
salvation offered to them, and forced Jesus to retire into concealment,
the heathen woman comes full of faith, and seeks Him in His
concealment. The Canaanitish woman is a representative of the heathen
world, the future faith of which she was called to prefigure by
sustaining the trial. From her example, the Apostles were to learn what
might be expected from the Gentiles when the time should arrive for
proclaiming the Gospel to them also. In Matt. x. 5, 6, the Lord speaks
to the Apostles: "Go not in the way of the Gentiles, and into any of
the cities of the _Samaritans_ enter ye not; but go rather to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel." His own conduct, however, as it is
reported in John iv., stands in contradiction to this command to His
Apostles, so long as its prophetical significance is not acknowledged.
That which was, on a large scale, to be done by Christ in the state of
glorification, was prefigured by Him, on a smaller scale, in the state
of humiliation. The ministry of Christ in Samaria bears the same
relation to the later mission among this people, that the single
instances of Christ's raising the dead do to the general resurrection.
The Lord afterwards did not foster the germs which had come forth among
the Samaritans; He, in the meantime, left them altogether [Pg 413] to
their fate. That prelude was quite sufficient for the object which He
then had in view, and nothing further could be done without violating
the rights of the Covenant-people, to which, in the conversation as
recorded by John, the Lord as expressly pays attention, as He does in
Matt. x.

                           THE PROPHET MICAH.

                          PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

Micah signifies: "Who is like Jehovah;" and by this name, the prophet
is consecrated to the incomparable God, just as Hosea was to the
helping God, and Nahum to the comforting God. He prophesied, according
to the inscription, under Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. We are not,
however, entitled, on this account, to dissever his prophecies, and to
assign particular discourses to the reign of each of these kings. On
the contrary, the entire collection forms only one whole. At the
termination of his prophetic ministry, under Hezekiah, the prophet
committed to writing everything which was of importance for all coming
time that had been revealed to him during the whole duration of that
ministry. He collected into one comprehensive picture all the detached
visions which had been granted to him in manifold repetition; giving us
the sum and substance (of which nothing has been lost in the case of
any of the men inspired by God) of what was spoken at different times,
and omitting all which was accidental, and purely local and temporary.

This view, which alone is the correct one, and which contributes so
largely to the right understanding of the prophet, has been already
advanced by several of the older scholars. Thus _Lightfoot_ (_Ordo
temporum_, opp. i. p. 99) remarks: "It is easier to conceive that the
matter of this whole book represents the substance of the prophecy
which he uttered under these various kings, than to determine which of
the chapters of this book were uttered under the particular reign of
each of these kings." _Majus_ also (_Economia temporum_, p. 898) says:
"He repeated, at a subsequent period, what he had spoken at different
[Pg 414] times, and under different kings." In modern times, however,
this view had been generally abandoned; and although, at present, many
critics are disposed to return to it, _Hitzig_ and _Maurer_ still
assert, that the book was composed at different periods.

We shall now endeavour to prove the unity of the book, _first_, from
the prophecies themselves. If we were entitled to separate them at all,
according to time and circumstances, we could form a division into
three discourses only; viz., chap. i. and ii.; chap. iii.-v.; and chap.
vi. and vii. For, 1. Each of these discourses forms a whole, complete
in itself, and in which the various elements of the prophetic
discourse--reproof, threatening, promise--are repeated. If these
discourses be torn asunder, we get only the _lacera membra_ of a
prophetic discourse. 2. Each of these three discourses, forming an
harmonious whole, begins with שמעו, _hear_. That this is not merely
accidental, appears from the beginning of the first discourse, שמעו
עמים כלם, "Hear, all ye people." These words literally agree with those
which were uttered by the prophet's elder namesake, when, according to
1 Kings xxii. 28, he called upon the whole world to attend to the
remarkable struggle betwixt the true and false prophets. It is
evidently on purpose that the prophet begins with the same words as
those with which the elder Micah had closed his discourse to Ahab, and,
it may be, his whole prophetic ministry. By this very circumstance he
gives intimation of what may be expected from him, shows that his
activity is to be considered as a continuation of that of his
predecessor, who was so jealous for God, and that he had more in common
with him than the mere name. _Rosenmüller_ (_Prol. ad Mich._ p. 8) has
asserted, indeed, that these words are only put into the mouth of the
elder Micah, and that they are taken from the passage under
consideration. But the reason which he adduces in support of this
assertion, viz., that it cannot be conceived how it could ever have
entered the mind of that elder Micah to call upon all people to be
witnesses of an announcement which concerned Ahab only, needs no
detailed refutation. Why then is it that in Deut. xxxii. 1, Is. i. 2,
heaven and earth are called upon to be witnesses of an announcement
which concerned the Jewish people only? Who does not see that, to the
prophet, Israel appears as too small an audience [Pg 415] for the
announcement of the great decision which he has just uttered; in the
same manner as the Psalmist (compare, _e.g._, Ps. xcvi. 3) exhorts to
proclaim to the Gentiles the great deeds of the Lord, because Palestine
is too narrow for them?--But now, if it be established that it was with
a distinct object that the prophet employed the words, "Hear ye," does
not the circumstance that they are found at the commencement of the
three discourses, which are complete in themselves, afford sufficient
ground for the assumption, that it was the intention of the prophet,
not indeed absolutely to limit them to the beginning of a new discourse
(compare, on the contrary, iii. 9[1]), but yet, not to commence a new
discourse without them; so that the want of them is decisive against
the supposition of a new section? 3. As soon as an attempt is made to
break up any of these three discourses, many particular circumstances
are at once found, upon a careful examination, to prove a connection of
the sections so close, as not to admit of a separation without
mutilating them. Thus chap. i. and ii. cannot be separated from each
other, for the reason that the promise in ii. 12, 13, refers to the
threatening in i. 5. That promise refers to all Israel, just as does
the threatening in chap. i.; whilst in the threatening and reproof in
chap. ii. the eye of the prophet is directed only to the main object of
his ministry, viz., to Judah.

But even these three divisions, which hitherto we have proved to be the
only divisions that do exist,[2] can be considered as such, in so far
only as in them the discourse takes a fresh start, and enters upon a
new sphere. They cannot be considered as complete in themselves, and
separated from one another by the [Pg 416] difference of the periods of
their composition; for even in them there are found traces of a close
connection. Even the uniform beginning by "Hear" may be considered as
such. The second discourse in iii. 1 begins with ואמר; but the _Fut._
with _Vav convers._ always, and without exception, connects a new
action with a preceding one, and can never be used where there is an
absolutely new commencement. Its significance here, where it is used in
the transition from the promise to a new reproof and threatening, has
been very strikingly brought out thus, by _Ch. Bened. Michaelis_: "But
while we are yet but too far away from those longed-for times, which
have just been promised, I _say_ in the meanwhile, viz., in order to
complete the list of the iniquities of evil princes and teachers, begun
in chap. ii." The words of iii. 1, "Hear, I pray you, ye heads of
Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel," have an evident
reference to ii. 12: "I will assemble Jacob all of thee, I will gather
the remnant of Israel." In the new threatening, the prophet chooses
quite the same designation as in the preceding promise, in order to
prevent the latter from giving support to false security. It is not by
any means Samaria alone, but all Israel, which is the object of divine
punishment. It is only a remnant of Israel that shall be gathered. But
the reference to the preceding discourse is still more obvious in ver.
4: "Then they shall cry unto the Lord, and He will not answer; and may
He hide[3] His face from them at this time, as they have behaved
themselves ill towards Him in their doings." Now, as in vers. 1-3
divine judgments had not yet been spoken of, the terms "then," and "at
this time," can refer only to the threatenings of punishment in ii. 3
ff., which have a special reference to the ungodly nobles.

Thus the result presented at the beginning, is confirmed to us by
internal reasons. The inscription[4] announces the oracles [Pg 417] of
God which came to Micah under the reign of three kings; while the
examination of the contents proves that the collection forms a
connected whole, written _uno tenore_. How, now, can these two facts be
reconciled in any other way than by supposing that we have here before
us a comprehensive picture of the prophetic ministry of Micah, the
single component parts of which are at once contemporaneous, and yet
belonging to different periods? This supposition, moreover, affords us
the advantage of being allowed to maintain all the historical
references in their fullest import, without being led to disregard the
one, while we give attention to the other; for nothing is, in this
case, more natural, than that the prophet connects with one another
different prophecies uttered at different times.

The weight of these internal reasons is increased, however, by external
reasons which are equally strong. When Jeremiah was called to account
for his prophecy concerning the destruction of the city, the elders,
for his justification, appealed to the [Pg 418] entirely similar
prophecy of Micah in iii. 12: "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be
ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the
mountain of the house as the high places of the forest." In Jer. xxvi.
18, 19, it is said, "Micah prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, king of
Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, etc. Did Hezekiah, king of
Judah, and all Judah, put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord, and
besought the Lord, and the Lord repented Him of the evil which He had
pronounced against them?" All interpreters admit that this passage
forms an authority for the composition of the discourse in iii.-v.
under Hezekiah; but we cannot well limit it in this way, we must extend
it to the whole collection. For, even apart from the reasons by which
we proved that the entire book forms one closely connected whole, it is
most improbable that the elders should have known, by an oral
tradition, the exact time of the composition of one single discourse,
which has no special date at the head of it. Is it not a far more
natural supposition, that they considered the collection as a whole, of
which the component parts had, indeed, been delivered by the prophet at
a former period, but had been repeated, and united into one description
under Hezekiah; and that they mentioned Hezekiah, partly because it
could not be determined with certainty whether this special prediction
had already been uttered under one of his predecessors, and, if so,
under which of them; and partly, because among the three kings
mentioned in the inscription, Hezekiah alone formed an ecclesiastical

But just as that quotation in Jeremiah furnishes us with a proof that
all the prophecies of Micah, which have been preserved to us, were
committed to writing under Hezekiah, so we can, in a similar manner,
prove from Isaiah, chap. ii., that they were, at least in part, uttered
at a previous period. The problem of the relation of Is. ii. 2-4 to
Micah iv. 1-3, cannot be solved in any other way than by supposing,
that this portion of a prophecy which, in Jeremiah, is assigned to the
reign of Hezekiah, was uttered by Micah as early as under the reign of
Jotham, and that soon after it Isaiah, by placing the words of Micah at
the head of his own prophecies, expressed that which had come to him
also in inward vision; for, being already known to the people, they
could not fail to produce their impression. [Pg 419] Every other
solution can be proved to be untenable. 1. Least of all is there any
refutation needed of the hypothesis which is now generally abandoned,
viz., that the passage in Isaiah is the original one; compare, against
this hypothesis, _Kleinert_, _Aechtheit des Jes._ S. 356; _Caspari_, S.
444. 2. Equally objectionable is another supposition, that both the
prophets had made use of some older prophecy--one uttered by Joel, as
_Hitzig_ and _Ewald_ have maintained. The connection in which these
verses stand in Micah, is by far too close for such a supposition. We
could not, indeed, so confidently advance this argument, if the
connection consisted only in what is commonly brought forward, viz.,
that upon the monitory announcement of punishment in chap. iii., there
follows, in chap. iv. 1 ff., the _consolatory_ promise of a glorious
future for the godly, and that the ו in ver. 1 evidently connects it
with what immediately precedes. But the reference and connection are
far more close. The promise in iv. 1, 2, is, throughout, contrasted
with the threatening in iii. 12. "The mountain of the house shall
become as the high places of the forest,"--hence, despised, solitary,
and desolate. In iv. 1, there is opposed to it, "The mountain of the
house of the Lord shall be established on the top of the mountains, and
it shall be exalted above the hills, and upon it people shall flee
together." "Zion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem become
a heap of ruins." Contrasted with this, there is in iv. 2 the
declaration: "For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the
Lord of Jerusalem." The desolate and despised place now becomes the
residence of the Lord, from which He sends His commands over the whole
earth, and of which the brilliant centre now is Jerusalem. In order to
make this contrast so much the more obvious, the prophet begins, in
the promise, with just the mountain of the temple, which, in the
threatening, had occupied the last place; so that the opposites
are brought into immediate connection. Nor is it certainly merely
accidental that, in the threatening, he speaks of the mountain of the
house only, while, in the promise, he speaks of the mountain of the
house of the Lord; compare Matt. xxiii. 38, where "your house,"
according to _Bengel_, "is the house which, in other passages, is
called the house of the Lord," just as the Lord, in Exod. xxxii. 7,
says to Moses, "_Thy people._" The temple must have ceased to be the
house of the Lord, before it would be destroyed; for [Pg 420] which
reason, as we are told In Ezekiel, the Shechinah removed from it before
the Babylonish destruction. And in point of form, the יהיה in iv. 1 so
much the more corresponds with the תהיה in iii. 12, as from the latter
יהיה must be supplied for the last clause of the verse; compare
_Caspari_, S. 445. That ver. 5 must not be separated from the prophecy
which Isaiah had before him, is seen from a comparison of Is. ii. 5: "O
house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord."
According to the true interpretation, "the light of the Lord" signifies
His grace, and the blessings which, according to what precedes, are to
be bestowed by it; and "to walk in the light of the Lord," means to
participate in the enjoyment of grace. These words, accordingly, are
closely related to those in Mic. iv. 5: "For all the people shall walk,
every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the
Lord our God for ever and ever:" _i.e._, the fate of the people in the
heathen world corresponds to the nature of their gods; because these
are nothing, they too shall sink down into nothingness, while Israel
shall partake in the glory of his God. There is the same thought, and
in essentially the same dress, both in Isaiah and Micah,--only that the
words which in Micah embody a pure promise, are transformed by Isaiah
into an exhortation that Israel should not, by their own fault, forfeit
this preference over the heathen nations, that they should not wantonly
wander away into dark solitudes, from the path of light which the Lord
had opened up before them. This transformation in Isaiah, however, may
be accounted for by the consideration, that he was anxious to prepare
the way for the reproofs which now follow from ver. 6; whilst Micah,
who had already premised them, could continue in the promise. It is
also in favour of the originality of the passage in Micah, that the
text which, in Isaiah, appears as a variation, appears as original in
Micah; so that both cannot be equally dependent upon a third writer. 3.
There now remains only the view of _Kleinert_, according to which the
prophecy of Micah, in chap. iii.-v., was first uttered under the reign
of Hezekiah; and, under the reign of the same king, but somewhat later,
the prophecy, in chap. ii.-iv. of Isaiah, who avails himself of it.
But, upon a closer examination, this view also proves untenable.
Isaiah's description of the condition of the people in a moral point of
view, the general spread of idolatry [Pg 421] and vice, exclude every
other period in the reign of Hezekiah except the first beginning of it,
when the effect and influence of the time of Ahaz were still felt; so
that even _Kleinert_ (p. 364) is obliged to assume, that not only the
prophecy of Micah, but also that of Isaiah, were uttered in the first
months of the reign of this king. But other difficulties--and these
altogether insuperable--stand in the way of this assumption. In the
whole section of Isaiah, the nation appears as rich, flourishing, and
powerful. This is most strongly expressed in chap. ii. 7: "His land is
full of silver and gold, there is no end to his treasure; his land is
full of horses, and there is no end to his chariots." To this may be
added the description of the consequences of wealth, and of the
unbounded luxury, in iii. 16 ff.; and the threatening of the withdrawal
of all power, and all riches, as a strong contrast with their present
condition, upon which they, in their blindness, rested the hope of
their security, and hence imagined that they stood in no need of the
assistance of the Lord, iii. 1 ff. Now this description is so
inapplicable to the commencement of Hezekiah's reign, that the very
opposite of it should rather be expected. The invasion by the allied
Syrians and Israelites, the oppression by the Assyrians, and the
tribute which they had to pay to them, the internal administration,
which was bad beyond example, and the curse of God resting on all their
enterprises and efforts, had exhausted, during the reign of the ungodly
Ahaz, the treasures which had been collected under Uzziah and Jotham,
and had dried up the sources of prosperity. He had left the kingdom to
his successors in a condition of utter decay. To these, other reasons
still may be added, which are in favour of the composition of it under
Jotham, while they are against its composition under Hezekiah;
especially the circumstance of their standing at the beginning of the
collection of the first twelve chapters (a circumstance which is of
great weight, inasmuch as these chapters are, beyond any doubt,
arranged chronologically), but still more, the indefiniteness and
generality in the threatening of the divine judgments, which the
prophecy of Micah has in common with the nearly contemporaneous
chapters i. and v. of Isaiah, whilst the threatenings out of the first
period of the reign of Ahaz have at once a far more definite character.
By these considerations we are involuntarily led back to a period when
Isaiah still [Pg 422] pre-eminently exercised the office of exhorting
and reproving, and had not yet been favoured with special revelations
concerning the events of a future which, at that time, was as yet
rather distant,--perhaps as far as the time when Jotham administered
the government for his father, who was at that time still alive;
compare 2 Kings xv. 5. By this hypothesis. Is. iii. 12 is more
satisfactorily explained than by any other; and we are no longer under
the necessity of asserting, that the chronological order is interrupted
by chap. vi.; for this certainly could not have been intended by the
collector. The solemn call and consecration of the prophet to his
office, accompanied by an increased bestowal of grace, must be
carefully distinguished from the ordinary ones which were common to him
with all the other prophets. But if the prophecy of Isaiah was uttered
as early as under Jotham (which has lately been most satisfactorily
proved by _Caspari_ in his _Beiträge zur Einl. in das Buch Jesaias_, S.
234 ff.), that of Micah also must have existed at that time, and must
have been in the mouths of the people. And since its composition is
assigned to the reign of Hezekiah, it follows that the prophet
delivered anew, under the reign of this king, the revelations which he
had already received at an earlier period.

It will not be possible to infer with certainty from vers. 6, 7, as
_Caspari_ does, that the book was committed to writing before the
destruction of Samaria, and hence, before the sixth year of Hezekiah.
Since the book gives the sum and substance of what was prophesied under
three kings, all that is implied in vers. 6, 7, is, that the
destruction of Samaria was foretold by Micah; but the prophecy itself
may have been committed to writing even after the fulfilment had taken
place. But, on the other hand, according to the analogy of Is. xxxix.,
and xiii. and xiv., we are led by iv. 9, 10, to the time of
Sennacherib's invasion of Judea, in which the prophetic spirit of
Isaiah likewise most richly displayed itself, and in which he was
privileged with a glance into the far distant future.

The exordium in chap. i. and ii., and the close in vi. and vii., are
distinguished by the generality of the threatening and promise which
prevails in them. They have this in common with the first five chapters
of Isaiah, and thus certainly afford us pre-eminently an image of the
prophetic ministry of Micah, in the time previous to the Assyrian
invasion; whilst the main [Pg 423] body (especially from iv. 8)
represents to us particularly the character of the prophecy during the
Assyrian period.

We shall now attempt to give a survey of the contents of Micah's

Upon Samaria and Jerusalem--the kingdom of the ten tribes, and Judah--a
judgment by foreign enemies is to come. Total destruction, and the
carrying away of the inhabitants, will be the issue of this judgment,
and, as regards Judah more particularly, the total overthrow of the
dominion of the Davidic dynasty.

Samaria is first visited by this judgment. This is indicated by the
fact that it is first mentioned in the inscription, and that in i. 6,
7, the judgment upon Samaria is, first of all, described; but
especially by the circumstance that Samaria, in i. 5, appears as the
chief seat of corruption for the whole people, whence it flowed upon
Judah also, i. 14, and particularly, vi. 16.