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Title: An Amicable Controversy with a Jewish Rabbi, on The Messiah's Coming
Author: Park, J. R. (John Ranicar), 1778-1847
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Amicable Controversy with a Jewish Rabbi, on The Messiah's Coming" ***


                           Amicable Controversy


                             A Jewish Rabbi,


                          The Messiah’s Coming:


                          New Views on Prophecy

                                 And The

                         Nature of the Millenium:

                           With an Entirely New

                         Exposition of Zechariah,

                                  On The

                            Messiah’s Kingdom

                         By J. R. Park, M.D. &c.


                    Smith, Elder, And Co. 65, Cornhill



Zechariah On The Messiah’s Kingdom. Interpretation: Chapter IX.
Notes To Chapter IX. Hebrew Punctuation.
The Rabbi’s Exposition And Reply, Chapter IX.
   Zechariah, Chapter IX.
   Remarks On The Rabbi’s Exposition.
Zechariah On The Messiah’s Kingdom. Interpretation: Chapter X.
Notes To Chapter IX.
The Rabbi’s Reply, And The Author’s Remarks Upon It. Chapter X.
Zechariah On The Messiah’s Kingdom. Interpretation: Chapter XI.
Notes To Chapter XI.
The Rabbi’s Translation. Chapter XI.
The Rabbi’s Exposition. Chapter XI.
Zechariah On The Messiah’s Kingdom. Interpretation: Chapter XII.
Notes To Chapter XII.
The Rabbi’s Exposition, And The Author’s Remarks. Chapter XII.
Zechariah On The Messiah’s Kingdom. Interpretation: Chapter XIII.
Notes To Chapter XIII.
Zechariah On The Messiah’s Kingdom. Interpretation: Chapter XIV.
Notes To Chapter XIV.
The Millenium.


What! another Commentary on Zechariah! the reader is ready to exclaim.
Have we not a Lowth and a Blayney? What can learning, talent, or research
effect, that has not been effected already? In a word, I answer—nothing.
But, on the other hand, I ask, what have they effected? With the exception
of particular passages, on which light has been thrown, the general scope
of the prophecy remains as obscure as ever. Sufficient proof of this
appears in the want of consistency in the plan of interpretation, which in
one verse looks to future events, and in another to events long past, for
explanation; in one part supposes the prophet to offer a connected series
of consecutive predictions; in the next supposes him to be carried away by
a transport into a digression bordering upon incoherency; varying,
moreover, continually in the principle of exposition, which is literal or
figurative, political or spiritual by turns. Surely this is not legitimate
exposition, but rather bespeaks some latent error, some radical defect in
the plan, or principle of investigation.

To point out that defect, which the writer fancies he has discovered, is
the object of the present attempt; whether he be right or wrong, the
reader must decide. The traveller who mistakes his road, only goes the
farther astray the more he prolongs his journey. So the commentator on
prophecy, who labours to force the text to a sense which it was not
intended to bear, the more learning and ingenuity he employs, the more he
becomes involved in intricacy and obscurity.

In expounding the prophecies relating to the Jews, commentators have had
chiefly in view their temporal and political state; whereas the writer
conceives, that their moral and religious, that is, their spiritual
condition, is really the main purport of those which relate to the
restoration of Israel. Let any one read the description of the New
Jerusalem in the 21st chapter of Revelations, and ask himself, if this can
possibly apply to a literal city, or political state. It evidently cannot;
and yet it must apply to some state of the Jews on earth; for the
Messiah’s kingdom is always described as a kingdom on earth; and,
therefore, if the description does not apply to their temporal, it must to
their spiritual condition.

The Messiah’s kingdom is allowed to be the chief subject of these
prophecies; but if Christ be the Messiah, his kingdom is a spiritual one,
and what relates to it must be spiritually understood. We marvel at the
blindness which prevents the Jews from perceiving in prophecy the numerous
intimations of a spiritual Messiah, all of which appear to us to have been
distinctly fulfilled in the person of Christ; and yet that very blindness
to their spirituality is what prevents ourselves from understanding other
prophecies relating to the same subject. Let this be steadily and
uniformly kept in view, and most of the difficulties will vanish; and an
interpretation will unfold itself, not only historically minute, and
chronologically accurate, but which is, moreover, as far as scriptural
language admits, literal; for in what relates to spiritual affairs, the
spiritual is the most literal interpretation. This, then, is the principle
of the following exposition, and when it has been found necessary to
correct the translation, it was not for the purpose of finding out more
recondite meanings, but to bring back the words of the text to their
ordinary and literal signification.

With regard to the controversial form under which the treatise appears, a
word of explanation may be requisite. The writer having framed his views
of prophecy on principles most at variance with those of the Jews, and
being only a self-taught Hebraist, was anxious to know how far his
exposition might be controverted by an acknowledged Hebrew scholar of the
Jewish persuasion. Upon inquiry he was referred to his present opponent,
as the fittest person for that purpose; and he had the satisfaction to
find, that however they might differ in the plan of interpretation, yet
his opponent could rarely challenge the accuracy or fidelity of his
translation; which he acknowledged to be more in accordance with the
Christian principle of exposition, than any he had previously met with.

At the same time he declared the views it unfolded, to contain nothing
likely to have any weight with a Jew; and readily pledged himself to
answer those views, should the writer ever be disposed to publish them.
The views and the answer are now before the reader.

[Transcriber’s Note: Single-word Hebrew quotations in the original book
are often rendered here in the form “A (or B)”, with the same word
rendered in “A” and in “B”, but with the letters stored in opposite
orders. This is to allow the same e-book to render properly in both HTML
and PDF. The full-paragraph quotations should appear correct in all


    “The testimony of Jesus in the spirit of prophecy.”

Few, perhaps, of those who read the Scriptures are fully aware of the
extent to which the language of them abounds in metaphor; yet is this
knowledge indispensable to the right understanding of both the Old and the
New Testament, and especially the prophetic parts of these books.

Prophecy, though not the largest, is beyond question the most important
part of Scripture, affording the only irrefragable proofs of God’s moral
government of the world, and of Christ’s being the promised Messiah. These
proofs depend upon no human testimony, but carry their evidence in
themselves, not resting on man’s credibility. Deposited in the hands of
those, whose blindness understands them not, and whose prejudice would
gladly pervert their meaning, they have been handed down to us, who are
blinded by similar prejudices, and in expounding these prophecies are only
a shade more enlightened than the Jews.

This rich mine of miraculous evidence, still remains, almost wholly
unexplored, although it is to this testimony especially, that Christ
himself appealed. _Search the Scriptures_, said he, _for in them ye think
ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me_. This
testimony still remains to Christians of the present day, for the most
part, a sealed book; for beyond a partially successful attempt, to point
out in it, the prediction of a few leading events, fulfilled near two
thousand years ago, and therefore now no longer miraculous evidence to us,
but resting on the authenticity of historical records, all the rest is
veiled from their sight.

The subsequent history of the progress of our religion, continued in these
prophecies, in one uninterrupted series of predictions up to the present
day; detailing the triumphant progress of the Gospel—the downfall of
Judaism—the subversion of Paganism—the corruption of Christianity by the
Gentiles—the long age of darkness consequent thereto—the rise and
successful career of Mahommedism, which has supplanted nominal
Christianity over half the globe—the exact boundary line, affixing a limit
to the dominion of each of these grand apostacies—their co-existence and
simultaneous downfall—and the revival of true Christianity—with other
events, clearly foretold, and now fulfilling before our eyes, have all
escaped the detection of the most learned commentators whether Jewish or

The inability to explain these prophecies thus tacitly acknowledged, which
has accompanied their transmission to our hands, is in some degree a
pledge that they have been faithfully handed down to us; for who would be
at the pains to interpolate what none could pretend to explain or apply?
At the same time, the cause of their remaining unexplained, and of their
appearing inapplicable to passing events, becomes a highly interesting
object of inquiry; and will be chiefly found to arise from the
circumstance alleged at the outset, namely, the misinterpretation of the
figurative language of Scripture and Prophecy.

The leading subject of prophecy is the Messiah’s kingdom; a kingdom which
the Jews expected to be a temporal one, and in this expectation, rejected
Christ as a spiritual prince. Whence arose their error?—From their taking
in a literal sense the language, in which the prophets had described that
kingdom. The Apostles, and first disciples of our Lord were under a
similar illusion; and had Christ at once undeceived them, and banished
from their minds all hope of temporal dominion, it is probable they would
to a man have deserted him. In fact, they did so desert him at his
crucifixion; nor did they fully perceive their error, till after his
resurrection, when they received the gift of the Spirit on the day of
Pentecost, and their eyes were at length fully opened to the spiritual
nature of his reign.

The Jews still remain under this illusion, continuing still to look for a
temporal prince, and the literal fulfilment of prophecy. Thousands also of
Christians, who look for the second coming of Christ, expect his personal
advent; that is, that he will come in person to reign with the saints on
earth for a thousand years. And the title of saints, whether assumed by,
or bestowed upon the millenarians, seems to be fondly cherished by them,
in anticipation of the share they expect in the glories of that reign now
approaching, or, as they suppose, just at hand.

That there be any among these, who would, like the first disciples, desert
their Lord, if robbed of this pleasing expectation, it were perhaps
invidious to suppose. Whether, like the Jews, they are led into this hope
of an earthly kingdom, by their misconception of the prophecies that
relate to this period, it were premature as yet to enquire. But certain it
is, that they are for the most part zealous advocates for the literal
sense of prophecy; and equally adverse with the Jews, to what may be
termed the spiritual exposition.

The term spiritual has, however, been so much misunderstood, in regard to
the interpretation of prophecy, that it may be well to explain here what
is intended by it. No more is meant by this term, than that the prophecies
relating to the Messiah’s kingdom, which the Christian must allow to be of
a spiritual nature, foretel events which regard the moral and religious,
and not the political state of the world. In a word, that they foreshow
the progress, and final establishment of true christianity on earth; this
being the Messiah’s kingdom, or his spiritual reign. In this subject, or
the progress of our religion, we have a history abounding in events more
diversified in their nature, and more interesting in their consequences,
because more influential on the happiness of mankind, than any which
political history can furnish. Their chronology and geography are in some
points peculiar; but, rightly understood, even these admit of being marked
with unerring precision, and present some of the most striking proofs of
divine foreknowledge.

We have intimated that prophetic language abounds in metaphor; but this
remains to be proved, as well as stated; and the nature of these metaphors
requires to be pointed out and explained. This can only be done by
citations from the prophecies themselves, which shall, however, be made
with as much brevity as the subject will admit of. The passages shall all
be taken from prophecies relating to the Messiah’s kingdom; and while
their purport is made manifest, it shall at the same time be shewn that
they are uniformly employed in the same sense, when the Messiah’s kingdom
is the subject treated of, throughout the New as well as the Old
Testament. We proceed to show the metaphorical nature of prophetic

When Isaiah (Ch. lxi.) uses such phrases as, _trees of righteousness_,
_garments of praise_, _garments of salvation_, it is manifest that he
cannot mean literal trees or literal garments; the figurative and
spiritual import expressed by the epithet affixed to each, namely
righteousness, salvation and praise, is the only one that can be given to

When the same prophet (Ch. lx.) foretelling the glory of the Messiah’s
reign, by the conversion of the Gentiles, says _The abundance __ of the
sea shall be converted unto thee; the forces of the Gentiles shall come
unto thee_, it is evident that the sea does not mean the literal sea, but
figuratively the Gentile nations, as afterwards expressed.

When he styles the Messiah’s kingdom, _Zion, the city of the Lord, whose
walls shall be called salvation, and whose gates praise_; a spiritual and
not a literal city must be intended. When, changing the metaphor, he calls
the city _a bride_ (Ch. lxii, 5,) or describes it _as a woman in labour,
and bringing forth a male child_, (Ch. lxvi. 6. 8.) it is clear that all
these expressions must be metaphorical; _the mountain, the city, the bride
and the mother_, being alike used to express the same object; and that
object, as the context declares, the spiritual glory of the Messiah’s
reign; splendid in righteousness, abundant in salvation.

Although the spiritual import of these expressions appears self-evident;
while the context may satisfy the Christian that these chapters foreshow
the nature of the Messiah’s kingdom, metaphorically styled by the
prophets, _the Zion of God, His holy mountain, the heavenly Jerusalem,
&c._, terms which alone bespeak its spirituality; yet have we moreover the
direct sanction and authority of the Apostles Paul and John for thus
understanding them.

St. Paul, when comparing the advantages of the two covenants, and
contrasting the rigorous severity of the law, with the indulgent mildness
of the gospel, borrows these very metaphors from the prophets, calling the
former Mount Sinai, and the latter Mount Zion. (Heb. xii. 18.) _For ye are
not come_, says he, _to the mountain that might be touched, and that
burned with fire, nor unto blackness and darkness and tempest, &c._

_But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of Angels._

_To the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written
in heaven, &c._

Here we see _Mount Sinai_, from which the law was delivered, figuratively
used to signify the Old Covenant; and _Mount Zion_, and _the Heavenly
Jerusalem_ to signify the New Covenant,—called also the _general assembly
and church of the first-born_; that is of the regenerate through Christ.

In like manner St. John, when foreshowing the final establishment of true
Christianity, uses the same metaphor of a city and a bride, that had been
previously used by Isaiah. (Rev. xxi. 2.) _And I, John, saw the holy city,
new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride,
adorned for her husband, &c._

But let it not be erroneously supposed that the figurative character of
prophetic language consists merely in the use of these terms to express
the Messiah’s kingdom; or that the proof of its spirituality is confined
to the employment, however frequent, of such phrases as _trees of
righteousness, waters of life, wells of salvation_, &c.; the fact is, that
every allusion to that kingdom is couched in terms, which admit only of
spiritual interpretation: and where any lengthened description occurs, the
language assumes the form of continued allegory, in which the moral and
religious state of mankind is foreshewn in terms appropriate only to the
physical world. As in Ezekiel xxxiv. 26.

_And I will make them, and the places round about my hill a blessing; and
I will __ cause the shower to come down is his season; there shall be
showers of blessing._

_And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall
yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know
that I am the Lord._

When Jeremiah (xxxi. 12.) in similar language foretels the abundance of
blessings promised in this kingdom, even the Rabbi admits that the
figurative and not the literal sense is to be taken; and that spiritual,
not temporal blessings are here intended by the prophet.

_Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow
together for the goodness of the Lord, for wheat and for wine, and for
oil, and for the young of the flock, and of the herd_, &c.

But the main point aimed at in the following exposition; and what the
writer wishes to be its distinguishing characteristic is, that of making
scripture its own interpreter; for in every passage that has been referred
to, and perhaps it may be said, in every one that can be referred to,
there will be found in the context sufficient intimation of the purport of
the figurative expressions employed.

On this plan the boldest metaphors will be found to admit of easy
explanation; and passages otherwise inexplicable will find their solution,
upon one consistent and uniform principle of interpretation. A few
examples will afford illustration of the proposed plan of exposition.

One of the boldest metaphors used by the prophets in reference to the
Messiah’s kingdom is, that which represents the establishment of this new
order of things, promised in his reign, as _a new heaven and a new earth_;
in fact as a new creation: a mode of expression, which has no doubt been
often understood, by those who are not sufficiently conversant with the
nature of prophetic language, as literally foretelling a change in the
physical world, that we inhabit.

Nor is this error confined to the unlearned: it appears to have been
fallen into by one who may perhaps be justly styled the most learned
commentator on prophecy of the present age; and moreover the very writer
who has pointed out the true principle of exposition.

The intelligent and profound Dean of Lichfield in his work on the
Apocalypse, after pointing out the figurative sense of such passages, yet,
strange to say, relinquishes this sense where it seems the most
appropriate, and adopts the literal.

In allusion to the first establishment of the Jewish Theocracy, we find in
Isaiah (li. 16.) the following figurative language.

_When I have put my words in thy mouth, and covered thee with the palm of
my hand, that I may plant the heaven, and lay the foundation of the

Thus, selecting the Jews to be God’s chosen people, and putting his words
in the mouth of the prophet, are said to be _planting the heavens_ and
_laying the foundation of the earth_. And in conformity with this style,
when the old Covenant was to be dissolved, and the new one to be
established, _new heavens_ and _a new earth_ are said to be created. (Isa.
lxv. 17.)

_For behold I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not
be remembered nor come into mind._

When St. John, in the Rev. vi. 12. foretels the corruption of
Christianity, in a prophecy which appears distinctly applicable to the
events that occurred at the beginning of the fourth century; he borrows
the same metaphors, and describes the loss or corruption of true religion
as the departure of the heavens, and the darkening of the heavenly
luminaries. (Rev. vi. 12.)

_And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo there was a great
earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon
became as blood;_

_And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth; even as a fig-tree casteth
her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind._

_And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, &c._

The historical view of this period, taken by Dr. Woodhouse, exactly
accords with the figurative sense of the prophecy—yet, to the manifest
injury of consistent interpretation, it is here that he relinquishes the
figurative, and adopts the literal sense, supposing the day of judgment to
be here foretold.

While thus compelled to dissent from some particular views of this writer,
I cannot pass by this opportunity of expressing the very high estimation
in which I otherwise hold his most valuable publication. (Woodhouse on the

Other commentators on prophecy, who have for the most part adopted the
political in preference to the spiritual view, regard _the heavens_, as
symbolizing the civil government or ruling powers in a state; and it is
true that these expressions have not been always confined in prophecy to
the prediction of spiritual events; but have been also used in foretelling
the judgments of God upon political states and kingdoms.

But when the Messiah’s kingdom is the acknowledged subject, to look to
political events for its fulfilment, is surely to run into the error of
the Jews, and to disregard the intimation expressly given by him; who
declared that _his kingdom was within us_; or as the prophets had
previously foreshewn—_behold, I will put my law in their inward parts; and
write it in their hearts_.

One example more shall suffice, for shewing the superiority of the
spiritual view, in affording the solution of passages, which upon any
other must appear utterly inexplicable. It has been stated that Zion is
also represented as a woman, and a mother; of which the most remarkable
instance occurs in the following extraordinary passage in Isaiah lxvi. 7,

_Before she travailed she brought forth; before her pains came she was
delivered of a man-child._

_Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth
be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for
as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children._

The Christian may perhaps suppose, as some have done, that Christ is the
man-child here intended; but that cannot be. For Zion is the mother, and a
mountain can never be literally understood to bring forth a man; the
mountain is a figurative mother, and the child must be a figurative child.

What does the mother figuratively signify? is then the question most
likely to lead us to the nature of the child. We have already seen that
this term is constantly applied to Israel, and especially with reference
to their spiritual state of regeneration through Christianity. Such we may
presume, then, is the meaning of Zion here; and that the regeneration of
the Jews through Christianity is the birth and parturition here spoken of.

Upon this view Judaism, or the Jewish Church will be the mother, and the
Christian Church or Christianity her child—the man-child, who was ordained
to rule all nations. Ps. ii.

The next question is, how the birth can be said to have preceded the

Mr. Lowth, to whom more than any other I feel indebted for much valuable
assistance in explaining the Old Testament prophecies, supposes the
labour-pains to be “the destruction of the Jewish Polity, making way for
the growth of Christianity.” And this seems a plausible explanation, as
these troubles of the Jewish Church followed the birth or promulgation of
Christianity forty years.

But the solution is only plausible; for the growth is not the birth; or if
it be taken as the birth, then it no longer precedes but follows the
labour-pains, for whatever effect the destruction of Judaism had in
promoting Christianity, this effect was subsequent and not prior to that
event; and thus the solution fails in the main point.

Moreover, upon the spiritual plan of exposition, it may justly be
objected, that these troubles of the Jewish Church were rather of a
political than a spiritual character; and certainly in no way essential to
the birth of Christianity, and cannot therefore be considered as the
labour-pains, or even as the after-pains of that birth.

This objection being valid, let a more spiritual view be taken, and the
objection will vanish. Let the worldly feelings which prevented the Jews
from receiving Christ as their Messiah, and the inward struggle required
to overcome these, symbolise the pains of labour, and the connexion will
be evident. For this very struggle and victory over worldly feelings
constitute the regeneration through Christ; and this therefore is
essential to the birth of Christianity, “the new birth unto

But with the first Christians this struggle could not precede the birth,
for they received Christ, before they were aware of the spiritual nature
of his mission; the Apostles did not look for a spiritual Messiah until
after the day of Pentecost, and therefore the birth preceded the pains
with them; but once aware of the sacrifice required, they cheerfully
submitted to every species of persecution, and triumphed over all worldly
feelings. And in every individual who receives Christianity, this struggle
with worldly feelings must in some measure continue during their whole

With the Jews, the prevalence of these worldly feelings, and the hope of a
temporal Messiah, still prevent their receiving Christianity, or obstruct
their regeneration. And when the evidence of its truth shall be forced
upon them, it is probable that this conviction will precede rather than
follow the entire conquest over worldly feelings; so difficult is it to
change our habits and feelings at once. And in this we may perceive the
sense of the remaining verse, cited above; _Can the earth be made to bring
forth at once? Can a nation be born in a day? For as soon as Zion
travailed she brought forth her children._

The _earth_ and the _nation_ shew that a whole people, or race of men, are
here spoken of; and the _man-child_ of the former verse, we here find
changed into _children_, in the plural number. Such appears to be the
solution of the difficulty, on the spiritual plan of exposition.

If an equally satisfactory solution can be offered by reference to
political events, this will no doubt be the best defence of that mode of
exposition that can be offered. How, then, is the fact? The fact is, that
such commentaries are obliged to consider nine-tenths of these prophecies
still unaccomplished, although a period of two thousand five hundred years
has elapsed since they were uttered; and most of this interval is thus
left, to Christians as well as Jews, a perfect blank in this prophetic
history of the progress of the Messiah’s kingdom; without any proof,
during this time, at least as drawn from these prophecies of the Old
Testament, of God’s foreknowledge of events, of his providence in the
government of the world, or of his interposition in the disposal of human
affairs. Some eight or ten verses, out of six chapters, are all that
appear upon this plan to admit of explanation; whereas, by applying the
prophecy to the progress of Christianity, as Christ’s spiritual kingdom,
and looking to spiritual instead of political events, all the leading
occurrences in the history of our religion, from its first promulgation to
the present day, already fulfilled, or now in the progress of fulfilment,
will be found to be clearly foreshewn in one uninterrupted series of
predictions, comprising every verse and every line in these chapters,
except a few verses which are still veiled in futurity. Admitting the
spiritual interpretation, being in fact equivalent to admitting that
Christ is the Messiah, is the main point at issue between the Rabbi and
the Author; but as many Christians still reject the figurative and
spiritual exposition, it is hoped that to them also the foregoing remarks
may be not altogether useless; nor an unsuitable introduction to the
following new plan of expounding Zechariah’s prophetic view of the
progress of the Messiah’s kingdom.


The subject of these chapters appears to be that, which, from its constant
repetition by all the Prophets from the earliest to the latest, was
evidently esteemed the most important to the interests of mankind; namely,
the coming of the Messiah.

This great event, being promised as a blessing to the descendants of
Abraham, and particularly to the house of Judah, it was natural that the
Jews should expect to obtain by it peculiar advantages; and accordingly,
whatever may be their views at this time, we learn from the writings of
St. Paul, that their general expectation then was, that to their nation
would the benefits of it be confined. The nature of these benefits was
moreover expected to consist, chiefly, in the political supremacy to be
conferred upon them by a great temporal prince, who should establish their
dominion over all the earth.

Such were the expectations of the Jews; whereas the Christians who equally
believe the prophecies which contain these promises, have been taught to
interpret them in a very different manner. They conceive that these
benefits will extend to all mankind; and understand them as having no
reference to political power or temporal affairs, but as affording the
means of obtaining advantages of a far higher and more permanent nature;
even the blessings of eternal life, and eternal happiness. Not that these
blessings were by the Messiah’s coming to be directly and unconditionally
conferred upon mankind; but that the means of obtaining them would thereby
be afforded to all such as were disposed to seek after them. These means
they conceive to be accomplished through the establishment of a kingdom on
earth; a kingdom, however, not of a temporal, but of a spiritual nature;
one which consists in the reign of true religion in the heart of man, a
real Theocracy; by which man is enabled to overcome the world, that is, to
rule and direct his passions and worldly propensities, and by making his
future existence a paramount consideration, to render him meet to enjoy
it. Such, according to the Christian’s view, is the victory to be gained;
such the kingdom to be established by the Messiah; and hence the apparent
contradiction, that while battles and conflicts are spoken of, it is yet
declared to be a peaceful kingdom.

But conceiving the prophecies which announce the coming of the Messiah to
have been accomplished in the person of Christ, the Christian supposes
this kingdom to be already established, and that Christ does actually
reign in the heart of every true believer. That the numbers of such are
comparatively small, and by no means to be estimated by the number of
those who bear the name of Christian, is a lamentable truth; but it is a
truth, which he was fully prepared to look for by the same unerring word
of prophecy; which clearly announced, that a long period of darkness and
apostacy would intervene between the appearance of the Messiah on earth,
and the universal establishment of his kingdom.

It is true that the Christian finds the clearest annunciation of this long
period of antichristian darkness, in books which are of no authority in
the estimation of the Jew, in those of the New Testament, to wit; but if
it can be shewn, as we conceive it can, that the same events are also
clearly foretold by the Prophets of the Old Testament, the subject will
then prefer an equal claim to the attention of both; to that of the Jew,
as calling upon him, impartially to consider the evidence, which seems to
prove that his Messiah has already appeared on earth; and to that of the
Christian, as calling upon him carefully to examine how far the religion
he professes may, both in doctrine and practice, still be tinctured with
the corruptions of antichristianity.

This, then, is the point at issue; whether or not, we have in these six
chapters of Zechariah, one of those Divine revelations, which displays a
prophetic view of the coming of the Messiah; of his being rejected by most
of his own nation, but received by the Gentiles; of the consequent
abolition of Paganism, (then, except with the Jews, the universal religion
of the world), and the substitution of Christianity in its stead; but
which at the same time foretels the corruption of this religion by us the
Gentiles; and the long reign of antichristian darkness which has since
prevailed in the room of it; with all the most notable events attending
these extraordinary revolutions in the human mind; events still fulfilling
before our eyes, and open to the observation of all who think the subject
worthy of their attention. Whether all this be clearly intimated in the
chapters before us, and can be made out without violating grammatical
construction in the translation of the Hebrew, or legitimate consistency
in the interpretation of prophetic language, is the question we propose to
consider. Frequent perusal and careful examination have satisfied the mind
of the writer, that the subject of them is no other than an epitome of the
prophetic history which was afterwards amplified in the Revelations of St.
John; where we find, as occurs in other instances in which the predictions
are repeated, that the events are unfolded with greater precision and
minuteness as the period of their accomplishment draws nigh.

That no such subject distinctly appears, through the medium of the
authorised translation contained in our Bibles, is most certain; nor was
it to be looked for, that any passages, which admitted of different modes
of construction, should be rendered in a way least acceptable to the
expositor, in a translation which is almost wholly Jewish, being founded
on the Masoretic punctuation. On the contrary, it appears, in not a few
instances, that the usual and literal sense has been rejected for one more
remote, but more consonant to the views and prejudices, of those who
framed the punctuation. That this statement may not rest on the
questionable ground of assertion or opinion, the reader will find, in the
notes subjoined, a full statement of the reasons for all the changes
proposed; and the Hebrew scholar will thus have full opportunity to
challenge their validity, if he find occasion. It is the writer’s wish
that they should be freely canvassed; truth is the only object he has in
view; and he asks no other conditions on entering the arena, than that of
disclaiming the authority of the Masoretic punctuation. His reasons for
this will appear sufficiently obvious. If, without the aid of the points,
we obtain a meaning that is simple and satisfactory in many passages,
which by them are rendered obscure or unintelligible;—if a connected and
unbroken explanation of each verse be attainable without them, while only
a few verses detached from the context have been explained by the ablest
commentators through their aid; sufficient reason will surely appear for
rejecting an authority which, instead of facilitating our progress, only
encumbers the subject with unnecessary difficulties.

The reader need not, however, expect that every difficulty will be removed
by the proposed alterations; or that even the amended translations will
afford such an exposition as to admit of no possible objection. It were
absurd to suppose that the strength of the argument can lie all on one
side, where two are engaged in the controversy. For the Jew is in this
case no man of straw, set up to be knocked down at pleasure, but a true
Jew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, an advocate as zealous in the cause he
defends, as his Christian opponent. Each believes himself in the right;
each expects to obtain the victory; and it is not improbable that the
reader, who sits as umpire in the contest, may, after all, though
unconscious of partiality, give judgment according to the bias of his
feelings, whether he be Jew or Christian, rather than according to the
abstract merits of the question.

Regarding the subject of the prophecy, as the coming of the Messiah, the
introduction, which is comprised in the first eight verses of this
chapter, appears to be the most appropriate that can possibly be
conceived. It opens with a denunciation against worldly-mindedness, and a
declaration of God’s purpose to frustrate the schemes, and cut off the
hopes of ambition, pride, and avarice, in the judgments pronounced against
those cities, which were then the most conspicuous for their riches and
power. This is immediately followed, as if by way of contrast, by a view
of the spiritual nature of the Messiah’s kingdom, founded in meekness and
humility, and affording benefits of a very different kind, namely, the
taking away of sin, and the redemption of mankind from a state of sin and
perdition; benefits which were not to be confined to the Jews alone, but
to extend to the Gentiles also, and that on terms of equal participation
with the Jews.

The denunciations are contained in the first six verses as follow: Zech.

_The heavy burden of the word of the Lord against the land of Hadrach and
Damascus_; _his sending down_, (that is, the Lord’s) _for the Lord’s is
the eye of man_, (the eye of the seer who receives the vision,) _and all
the tribes of Israel_ (whom it immediately concerns).

_Hamath also shall have a limit set to her; Tyre and Sidon also, though
she be very wise_—(worldly-wise). _For she hath built herself Tyre, a
strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire
of the streets. Behold the Lord will cast her out, and smite her power in
the sea, and she shall be devoured with fire. Ashkalon shall see it and
fear, Gaza also shall see it and __ be very sorrowful; and Ekron, for her
hope shall be dried up, and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkalon
shall not be inhabited, and a stranger shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will
cut off the pride of the Philistines._

These denunciations are chiefly directed against the Philistines, the
cities enumerated being the most conspicuous of any they possessed, and no
doubt, the pride of their nation. Here, then, appears sufficient reason
for the Jews to interpret the prophecy, as altogether in their favour,
denouncing judgments upon their enemies. But yet it is possible they may
have viewed them too partially, and may even have overlooked the express
objects of denunciation in the prophecy; which denounces their avarice and
ambition, and declares that the _pride_ rather than the _cities_ of the
Philistines shall be cut off. As for the cities themselves, heavy
judgments are pronounced against them all. One, it is declared, shall not
be inhabited; another, Sidon, is threatened with an overthrow, which it
received not long after from Ochus, king of Persia, in precisely the
manner here foretold; while Tyre, Gaza, and others, were taken by
Alexander the Great; but if we keep to the letter of the prophecy, it is
their avarice, ambition, and pride, that are distinctly marked as the
objects of Divine displeasure; and even the judgments pronounced against
them on this account, are immediately coupled with the succeeding promise
of mercy and redemption, through the means of a meek and humble Messiah,
who should _take away sin and pollution, and speak peace to the heathen_.

But why, it may be asked, were these offences condemned in the Philistines
particularly? Were not the Jews also addicted to pride, avarice, and
worldly ambition? No doubt they were so; and the prophecy being addressed
to them, it appears that the admonition was expressly intended for their

Pride was even less excusable in the Jews, who could find no sanction for
it in their religion; while this was the very basis of Pagan morality; the
pedestal on which honour was erected; that idol of self-estimation, the
highest of Pagan virtues. These vices were therefore more appropriately
denounced in the Philistines, as peculiarly belonging to them, though
spreading, by contagion, to the Jews; and if punishable in the former, how
could they be excusable in the latter?

The mind of the Christian reader will naturally revert to the pride which
revolted at the idea of a meek and humble Messiah, and caused the Jews to
reject him. But that cannot be the question here; for the Jews are not
here pointed out as the objects of Divine displeasure; nor is any
intimation hitherto given of their offence; and that of its punishment
could not surely precede it. The feeling might indeed be there, and a
salutary warning of its being displeasing in the sight of Heaven, and of
the fatal consequences about to result from it, seems here intended; but
the penalty was not incurred till the overt act was committed, and to
foretell the punishment before the offence itself was intimated, would
have been a prophetical solecism. As we proceed, we shall find, in its
proper place, due notice taken both of the one and the other.

In the next verse we find these denunciations, coupled with promises of
mercy and redemption to the remaining Gentiles, verse 7, _But I will take
away his blood from out of his mouth; and his pollution from between his
teeth; and he that remaineth, even he shall be for our God_; that is, the
remaining Gentiles shall have their sins forgiven, their pollution washed
away, they shall be redeemed from the darkness of Paganism, and reclaimed
to the worship of the true God;

_And he shall be as a chief in Judah, Ekron, as well as the Jebusite_;
that is, he (the remaining Gentile) shall attain thereby to a full
participation with the Jew, in all the spiritual blessings promised in the
Messiah’s kingdom.

The prophecy having now declared the admission of the Gentiles, promises
that the Messiah’s kingdom, thus established, shall ever enjoy Divine
protection and support.

_And I will encamp about mine house, against the army, against him that
passeth over, and against him that returneth, and there shall no oppressor
pass over them any more, for now have I seen with mine eyes._

In the following verse, the subject of the prophecy is so distinctly
announced as the coming of the Messiah, that Jews as well as Christians
concur on this point, though they have not perceived how the preceding
verses refer to this kingdom.

_Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold
thy King shall come unto thee, just and having salvation; lowly and riding
upon an ass, even a colt the foal of an ass._

The manner of the Messiah’s coming being here so plainly foretold, and his
character so distinctly described, we wonder how the Jew can deny that
this was all fulfilled in the person of Christ. The reason is simply this;
he disbelieves the facts. The books in which they are recorded, are of no
authority in his estimation; he challenges their testimony on grounds too
numerous to be discussed here. To answer his objections, every
disagreement between the writers of the New Testament must first be
reconciled; a task which appears to him to have hitherto failed with all
who have attempted it. But this is not the only objection he has to urge.
He charges the Christian with perverting the sense of prophecy; and this
verse furnishes him with an instance. Thus, the Hebrew word rendered,
“_having salvation_,” is really the past participle of the verb “to save,”
literally “_being saved_;” and that too followed by the emphatical pronoun
_himself_, “being saved himself.” Surely this point might be safely
conceded by the Christian, who admits that Christ “was the first fruits of
them that slept;” the first who rose from the dead, to everlasting life;
and that through him we become partakers in that resurrection.

The peaceful nature of his kingdom, the participation of the heathen in
its blessings, and the boundless extent of its dominion are next declared:

_And he will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from
Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace
to the heathen; and his dominion shall be from the sea even to the sea,
and from the river to the ends of the earth._

The Christian reader will find no difficulty in the interpretation of the
verse which follows.

_As for thee, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy
prisoners from the pit wherein is no water._

The Messiah is spoken of throughout; who then but the Messiah can be
apostrophised in the words, “_As for thee?_” Then follows “_by the blood
of thy covenant_.” What blood but the blood of Christ? What covenant, but
that sealed by his blood, can be alluded to? “_I have sent thy prisoners
forth._” What prisoners, but those who were in the bondage of sin? “_from
the pit wherein is no water_.” What pit, but the darkness of idolatry,
which had none of the waters of life? Surely this is a most clear and
distinct intimation of the sacrifice of the Messiah, and of the benefits
thereby conferred upon mankind in the redemption of the heathen world from
the darkness of idolatry; thus opening the way to immortality, to the
whole human race.

But the Messiah here appears to be promised to the Gentiles, having been
previously promised to the Jews; were then these promises retracted? By no
means. To the Jews he was promised, and to them he came, exclusively
addressing himself to the house of Israel. Nor was it till after the
majority of that nation had rejected and crucified him, that the calling
of the Gentiles took place. The blessings he offered being refused by the
former, appears to have been the immediate cause of their being given to
the latter. Accordingly this seems to be the purport of the next verse,
which intimates that there was some reason why these blessings could not
be directly and unconditionally transferred to the Gentiles.

_Return ye to the strong hold, my prisoners, wait thou unto the day I
declare, that I will repay thee double_; that is, wait for the day when
these blessings will become yours, through the Jews’ refusal of them.

Nor yet was the Messiah rejected by all the Jews; for the apostles were
Jews; the disciples were Jews; by Jews was the Gospel preached and
propagated; and to the Jews belongs the honour of the first triumph of
true religion over Paganism, and what is more, over the passions and
worldly propensities of man; and this triumphant progress of the Gospel
seems to be the victory intimated in the verse which follows; wherein the
reason is at the same time assigned why Christ did not address himself to
the Gentiles.

_For I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow Ephraim; and raised up thy
sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece; and made thee as the sword of a
mighty man._

The triumphs of Judas Maccabeus, generally supposed to be here foretold,
cannot be the victories alluded to; for Ephraim, or the ten tribes, here
declared as bearing a part in them, had already gone into captivity, and
bore no share whatever in these subsequent wars of Judah. The true meaning
appears to be that Judah was destined to have the honour of first
establishing the Messiah’s kingdom, as promised from the beginning.

How then could Ephraim, or the ten tribes, it may be asked, bear a part in
the triumphs of the Gospel, having previously gone into captivity? The
prophecy does not distinctly say so; if we keep to the letter, it is only
said that Ephraim as well as Judah was prepared and marshalled for the
spiritual conflict: the triumph is declared to _Zion_ over _Greece_; that
is, to true religion over Pagan idolatry; and in this warfare, though not
in the wars of Judas Maccabeus, Ephraim did bear a part; for it is not to
the apostolic age alone that we must look for the accomplishment of the
great scheme of Providence for man’s redemption. This was only one act in
the great drama; which began under the Old Covenant, and is not yet
finally completed under the New. In the former, or the Old Covenant, all
the tribes of Israel bore their share, Ephraim as well as Judah; and the
warfare not being finally concluded, who shall say but Ephraim may again
appear, and bear a further part in it?

Having declared the union of the Gentiles with the Jews, and their joint
participation in the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom, the prophecy goes
on to promise the support and protection of Heaven, in terms alike
applicable to both.

_And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the
lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go forth
with whirlwinds of the south. And the Lord of hosts shall defend them, and
they shall devour and subdue with sling-stones; and they shall drink as
wine, and they shall be filled like bowls, like __ the corners of the
altar._ (which were purposely so constructed as to receive the blood of
the sacrifices).

That the whole of these expressions require to be taken figuratively and
spiritually, no one conversant with scriptural and prophetic language can
surely deny; or for a moment suppose that literal drunkenness and
bloodshed are here intended.

Should any doubt remain that the Gentiles are included in these promises
as well as the Jews, the next verse appears to decide the question.

_And the Lord their God shall save them in that day, as the flock of his

If the Jews be called his people, who but the Gentiles can be meant by the
other? But this is followed by the direct declaration that all distinction
between them is on the eve of its abolition.

_For the wall of separation is tottering over his land._

A remarkable and striking expression, but strangely perverted in our
translation. Why the Jews have laboured to give a different turn to it, by
seeking a more figurative and recondite meaning, we need be at no loss to
conceive; nor why they apply these verses to themselves alone. See note to
the translation of this verse.

But this view, which would limit the bounty of Heaven to a particular
race, besides being at variance with the context, seems little calculated
to call forth the feelings of adoration and praise with which this chapter

_For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty. Corn shall
make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids._

Corn, wine, &c. in prophetic language ever signify the food of spiritual
knowledge, to be henceforth freely bestowed on all, Gentiles as well as


A Summary of the arguments for and against the antiquity and authority of
the Vowel Points, is given at the beginning of the Second Vol. of Horne’s
Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures; from which the following
considerations seem most entitled to selection. That the earliest traces
of the points are to be found in the tenth century—that many of the oldest
manuscripts now extant are without them—that the copies of the Jewish
Scriptures now used in the Synagogue and esteemed peculiarly sacred, are
without them—that the Samaritan letters which were the same as the Hebrew
before the captivity, are without them—and the Samaritan Pentateuch is
without them—that there are no traces of them to be found in the shekels
(coins) struck by the kings of Israel—that the fathers, particularly
Origen and Jerome, who treat of the Hebrew pronunciation, make no mention
of them—that all the antient various readings of the Jews regard the
letters only, not one of them relates to the vowel points—to which may be
added, that there are five vowels in the Hebrew alphabet which are quite
sufficient for reading the language, though they may not enable us to
determine with precision the antient pronunciation. “These
considerations,” says Mr. Horne, “have determined the majority of Hebrew
scholars in the present day to reject their authority.” Still we may admit
their utility in fixing the pronunciation, and perhaps also in
facilitating the construction; but the main objection to them is, that by
changing the vowels, they frequently alter the sense, as well as the
sound, and that in passages where a Jewish interpretation is particularly
open to suspicion. Thus in prophecies relating to the Messiah, both their
prejudices and their feelings unfit them for becoming guides to a
Christian expositor.

Verse 1. :משא דבר יהוה בארץ חדרך ודמשק מנחתו כי ליהוה עין אדם וכל שבטי

_The heavy burden of the word of the Lord in the land of Hadrach, and
Damascus shall be the rest thereof; when the eyes of man, as of all the
tribes of Israel, shall be towards the Lord._

These are the words of the translation in our Bible; but the sense of them
I must acknowledge my inability to unravel. Of what Damascus is to be the
rest, or what period is intimated by the adverb of time _when_, I am at a
loss to discover. The separation of Hadrach and Damascus by the insertion
of a comma between them, evidently owes its origin to the supposed
necessity for rendering the word מנחתו (or ותחנמ) _the rest thereof_. But
if deriving it from נח (or חנ) or נוח (or חונ) does not afford any
intelligible sense, we are naturally led to seek another derivation; and
we find one in the verb נחת (or תחנ) _to descend_ or _send down_, which
without violating grammatical construction affords a meaning not only
intelligible, but in perfect unison with the context. The Hemantiv מ
prefixed, gives the _thing sent down_, while the suffix ו _his_, evidently
refers to _the Lord_ who sends the vision or denunciation. The English
construction, of course, requires it should be rendered _his sending
down_, that is, the Lord’s denunciation, _against_ Hadrach and Damascus,
as well as the other cities which are mentioned afterwards; for ב here
rendered _in_, may with more propriety be rendered _against_ or _upon_.
The verb נחת (or תחנ) _to send down_, occurs in Joel iii. 11 and
elsewhere: but the writer freely acknowledges that he has no authority for
the participial noun with the Hemantiv מ prefixed to signify the thing
sent down, or the act of sending down, as the sense seems to require here.
He therefore rests this construction solely on the ground of its being
grammatically admissible, consonant to analogy, and in accordance with the
context, as affording a satisfactory meaning. Let those who are not
satisfied with such reasons furnish a better solution of the difficulty.
In the next place, there is no necessity for rendering כי (or יכ) _when_,
which more frequently signifies _for_; and when so rendered, it will be
found to connect together the latter and the former part of the verse. For
this, we only require to render the dative ל, as it frequently is rendered
in Hebrew, as well as Greek and Latin, to denote _possession_; and the
verse will run thus. _For the Lord’s is_, or to the Lord belongs, _the eye
of man_; to wit, the eye of the Seer, who receives the vision, _and all
the tribes of Israel_, whom the vision chiefly concerns. Making the tribes
a genitive case, by inserting _of_ before them, is wholly uncalled for by
the text.

Verse 2. :וגם חמת תגבל בה צר וצידון כי חכמה מאד

_And Hamath also shall border thereby, Tyrus and Sidon though it be very

תגבל (or לבגת) _to set bounds to_, in the Hiphil, occurs in Exod. xix. 12
& 23.—It here appears to be the Huphal or passive of Hiphil—signifying _to
be bounded_, or _to be set bounds to_. It is only necessary to remark,
that leaving aside the punctuation, the form of the future tense will be
identical in both these voices. The sense as it stands is scarcely
intelligible. What is meant by _border thereby_, it is not easy to
conceive; but by discarding the points we readily obtain a meaning that is
perfectly intelligible. תגבל (or לבגת) may then be rendered in the passive
voice, instead of the active, and will signify _to be limited_, or _have
bounds set to_; and בה (or הב) _on_ or _to her_, which follows, accords
with, and seems to demand its being so rendered. _And Hamath also shall
have bounds set to her_; that is, her growing greatness shall be checked.

_Tyre, and also Sidon though she be very wise_, חכמה (or המכח), _wise_, no
doubt, means here, _worldly wise_, or very subtle.

Verse 5. :תרא אשקלון ותירא ועזה ותחיל מאד ועקרון כי הוביש מבטה

_Ashkalon shall see and fear, Gaza also, and she shall be very sorrowful,
and Ekron for her expectation shall be ashamed._

הוביש (or שיבוה) may be derived either from בוש (or שוב) _to be ashamed_,
or from יבש (or שבי) _to dry up_, and whither as a plant for want of
moisture. The latter seems preferable here, but it is not very material to
the sense.

Verse 6. :וישב ממזר באשדוד והכרתי גאון פלשתים

_A bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the

ממזר (or רזממ) may be rendered a _stranger_, as well as a _bastard_,
αλλογενεις in the Septuagint, which renders the sense more obvious.

_And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines._ These denunciations
appear chiefly directed against the Philistines, in whom pride, avarice,
and ambition, are specified as the great offences. The delivery of Ashdod
into the hands of a stranger is the judgment pronounced against them in
this verse, as the last means of their humiliation. But here the tone of
the prophecy changes, and instead of further punishments, we find repeated
promises of blessings and mercy; _he that is left shall be for our God,
and as a Governor in Judah_,—and in the verse following—_He_ (the Messiah
being manifestly meant here) _shall speak peace to the Heathen_.—Whence
then this change? We are led to seek, and naturally expect to find, some
ground for it. And accordingly the next verse unfolds the reason, and
explains the occasion of this change in the counsel of Heaven; a change
resting not on their own merits, but on Divine Mercy. For such a
construction will this verse bear, quite as well as the one usually put
upon it; and this construction is far more in unison with the context,
than the received one.

Verse 7. :והסרתי דמיו מפיו ושקציו מבין שניו ונשאר גמ-הוא לאלהינו והיה כאלף
ביהודה ועקרון כיבוסי

_And I will take away his blood from out of his mouth, and his
abominations from between his teeth, and he that is left, even he shall be
for our God, and he shall be as a Governor in Judah, and Ekron as a

With scarcely any alteration in the translation, the words, even as they
stand, admit of a very different acceptation from that in which they are
commonly taken; and instead of being a figurative expression, borrowed
from the rescuing its prey from the jaws of a lion; in which sense the
Jews take it, as a promise to themselves of deliverance from their
enemies; the words more literally taken, will convey the promise of mercy
and redemption to the remaining Gentiles: whose sin and pollution are to
be taken away, who are to be reclaimed to the worship of the true God, and
admitted to a full participation in all the blessings, promised to Israel
by the coming of the Messiah.

The Gentiles were esteemed polluted by eating things unclean, which were
prohibited to the Jews. Certain animals—things strangled—and the blood in
particular were among the forbidden food. The new covenant removed this
prohibition, thereby taking away the pollution from between his teeth, as
it ceased to be a cause of pollution. The command given to St. Peter, Acts
x. 14, to kill and eat, where all manner of food was presented to him, was
expressly received by him as a command to preach the Gospel to the
Gentiles, or to admit them into the Messiah’s kingdom; and this admission
was unaccompanied with any such prohibition, nor was it subsequently

Eating things sacrificed to idols was another cause of pollution which the
New Covenant removed, by taking away the cause in the abolition of
idolatry. This literal fulfilment of the words of the prophecy may,
however, be figuratively understood, to foreshew the remission of sins
through Christ, and the admission of the Heathen nations to the hopes of
everlasting life founded on the Gospel.

The only change required in the English version is to read _But_, for
_And_, which are expressed alike by the Hebrew ו, and to understand שקציו
(or ויצקש) _his abominations_, in the sense most appropriate to it, as
alluding to the worship of idols, and we have the sense already expressed,
which perfectly harmonizes with the context. Whereas, taken in the other
sense, what becomes of the antithesis? Who is _he that is left_, that
_shall be for our God_, and _as a chief in Judah_? Surely it cannot be the
Jew, who shall be as a Jew. But the next words are decisive, declaring
that Ekron and the Jebusite, both Gentiles, are here intended.

_And Ekron as a Jebusite._ This mode of rendering leaves, indeed, the
force of these words rather ambiguous; but there can be no intelligible
sense put upon the כי (or יכ), but that of _in like manner as_, or, _as
well as_; that is, Ekron as well as the Jebusite, shall both be as
Governors in Judah.

Verse 8. :וחניתי לביתי מצבה מעבר ומשב ולא יעבר עליהם עוד נגש כי עתה ראיתי

_And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him
that passeth by, and because of him that returneth; and no oppressor shall
pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes._

It is not certain, though probable, from 1 Sam. xxvi. 5-7, that the Jews
had entrenched camps; if so, the passage would be clearer by rendering
וחניתי (or יתינחו) _I will entrench_ instead of _encamp_; though the sense
is sufficiently obvious, as meaning to afford protection against the army,
&c. The house of God, to which protection is promised, is his Temple,
figuratively denoting true religion purified from idolatry; the great
spiritual adversary constantly warring with Israel, and, as we learn from
Scripture, frequently prevailing; which is probably the warfare here
alluded to. But if taken literally, this passage conveys the promise that
the Messiah’s kingdom should put an end to oppression and injustice. The
exact import of the expression, _for now have I seen with mine eyes_, is
not very evident; but may imply God’s foreseeing the unfitness of the Jews
to receive a spiritual Messiah; who, in consequence of their rejection of
him, would be given to the Gentiles.

Verse 9. :גילי מאד בת ציון הריעי בת-ירושלם הנה מלכך יבוא לך צדיק ונושע הוא
עני ורכב על חמור ועל עיר בן אתנות

_Rejoice greatly, Daughter of Zion, shout, oh Daughter of Jerusalem,
behold thy King cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation, lowly
and riding upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass._

There is no ambiguity in the purport of this verse, which is the coming of
the Messiah, as all commentators allow; but I can in no wise agree with
Lowth and others, that this verse is a rhapsodical digression from the
subject of the rest of the chapter, in which the Prophet being wrought up
to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, breaks off from the immediate object
of his vision to foretel the coming of the Messiah, and then returns back
to his former subject. On the contrary, I can see nothing like digression
here, but one connected and consistent object throughout; this verse being
the keystone of the arch, which binds together those which precede and
those which follow it, forming the whole into one united and compact body.
Instead of a digression from the subject, I regard this verse as the clue
to guide us through the labyrinth, by fixing and determining the subject
of all the rest.

_Behold thy King cometh unto thee_: יבוא (or אובי) is really the future
tense, literally _shall come_, and changing it to the present, _cometh_,
seems unnecessary, if it does not in some degree interfere with the
chronological order of the events predicted afterwards.

_Just and having salvation._ This is certainly an ambiguous rendering of
נושע (or עשונ) the past participle of the verb ישע (or עשי) to save, which
literally signifies _being saved_, and the emphatic הוא (or אוה)
_himself_, following it, more strongly marks the sense, as _having
obtained salvation himself_.

_Riding on an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass._ The connective ו
_and_, should certainly be rendered here by _even_, or, _to wit_, and not
by _and_, which makes it appear that the Messiah was to ride upon two

Verse 11. :גם את בדם בריתך שלחתי אסיריך מבר אין מים בו

_As for thee, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy
prisoners, from the pit wherein is no water._

That the Messiah is apostrophized in these words, cannot, surely, admit of
doubt or dispute; and words more forcible, or more pregnant with meaning,
upon the Christian’s view of them, it is not easy to conceive. שלחתי (or
יתחלש) _I have sent forth_, is really the perfect tense, though written
several centuries before the coming of Christ; but it is not at all
unusual in prophetic language to use this tense, which represents as
already accomplished, what is determined in the Divine purpose, although
the fulfilment be still future.

The writer is well aware of a formidable objection presented by the Hebrew
punctuation, against the application of this verse to the Messiah, as the
pronoun “thee” את (or תא) is by the pointing made to be of the feminine
gender. This is one of many instances in which the punctuation tends to
embarrass instead of elucidating the subject of the prophecy—instances
which have mainly contributed to the determination of the writer to
disregard the points. It remains for those who regard them as of paramount
authority, to offer a solution of this and other passages equally clear
and satisfactory, and equally consistent throughout. If “thee” be meant to
apostrophise the daughter of Zion, what blood—what covenant—what
prisoners—what pit, are here alluded to? Upon the view here offered, the
event foreshewn is the death of the Messiah, an event wholly at variance
with the expectations of the Jews, but here distinctly announced, along
with the most striking particulars attendant on that event; such as the
frustration of the hopes of temporal advantages expected from his
coming—the nature of the spiritual blessings which it was really intended
to impart; namely, the remission of sins, and the redemption of the
Gentile world from idolatry. Along with these is stated the personal
character of the Messiah, and the express manner of his coming; not in
glory as expected, but in meekness and humility—the peaceful nature of his
kingdom—its boundless extent, destined to embrace all nations—yet in
apparent contradiction, his death is intimated, but also his resurrection
whereby he becomes “_the first fruits of them that slept_.” These are all
clearly intimated in this chapter; and of these, how many have former
commentators, with or without the aid of points, been able to make out? At
most, only three or four verses, as where he is mentioned as riding into
Jerusalem on an ass; and here, according to Blaney, the text requires to
be altered, to shew that he was a Saviour, נושע (or עשונ) being saved,
being altered into משע (or עשמ) a Saviour; while, according to Lowth, all
that here relates to the Messiah is to be regarded as a rhapsodical
digression from the subject of the context.

Verse 12. :שובו לבצרון אסירי התקוה גם היום מגיד משנה אשיב לך

_Return to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, even today do I declare
that I will repay you double._

Such is the received translation, nor as it now stands, does the sense
appear at all ambiguous, signifying, _Return to your prison-house until
the day of your promised liberation arrives_; that is, the day of the
Messiah’s coming. There can be no doubt who are meant by the prisoners,
but the change of number in the personal pronoun, from plural to singular,
makes it not improbable that the latter part of this line is addressed to
the Messiah, who was apostrophized in the verse preceding. Upon this view
the word אסירי (or יריסא) may be rendered, _my prisoners_, instead of
_prisoners of hope_, which is rather obscure; and התקוה (or הוקתה) as the
imperative hithpael of the verb קוה (or הוק) to wait. And the sense will
then be as given in the text; _Return to the strong hold, my prisoners:
wait thou till the day I declare that I will repay thee double._

Verse 13. :כי דרכתי לי יהודה קשת מלאתי אפרים ועררתי בניך ציון על בניך יון
ושמתיך כחרב גבור

_When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow Ephraim, and raised up thy
sons, Oh Zion! against thy sons, Oh Greece! and made thee as the sword of
a mighty man._

Here כי (or יכ), which signifies _for_, is rendered _when_, thus imposing
a future signification on the verbs that follow. This has, no doubt,
arisen from a supposed allusion to the subsequent wars of Judas Maccabeus.
But Ephraim, or the ten tribes, having no share in those wars, militates
against that supposition; and it seems more probable that this verse,
instead of designating the _time when_ the promised blessing would be
conferred upon the Gentiles, here declares the _reason why_ the Messiah
could not be sent to them directly and unconditionally; namely, because he
was previously promised to Israel. _For I have bent Judah for me, filled
the bow Ephraim_; that is, I have chosen Israel as my people, and
appointed them my instruments for the overthrow of paganism. And,
accordingly, to the house of Israel he came, and was by some of them
received; nor until the great body of that people declined the office,
were the Gentiles called in to fill up the ranks, and carry on the
spiritual warfare; a warfare which was thenceforward carried on by both in
conjunction, for the first Christians still were Jews, though blindness
came in part over Israel.

Verse 14. :ויהוה עליהם יראה ויצא כברק חצו ואדני יהוה בשופר יתקע והלך
בסערות תימן

_And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the
lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go forth
with whirlwinds of the South._

This and the following verse evidently contain promises of Divine
protection, and of triumphant success; but to whom these promises are
given may admit of a question. עליהם (or םהילע) _over them_, may mean the
Jews last spoken of, or the Gentiles mentioned before, or it may apply to
both. And if the triumph of true religion over Pagan idolatry be the
victory here spoken of, as this was obtained by both in conjunction,
during the Apostolic age at least, so both must be included in the
promises. Nor can any construction, worthy of the subject, or adequate in
dignity and importance, be put upon the expression, _the sons of Zion_,
and _the sons of Greece_, but that which refers to the religion of each.
The triumph of true religion over idolatry was one that affected the whole
world, including every country, and extending to every age, and regarding
the eternal as well as temporal interests of mankind.

Verse 15. .יהוה צבאות יגן עליהם ואכלו וכבשו אבני קלע ושתו המו כמו יין
ומלאו כמזרק כזוית מזבח

_And the Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and
subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink and make a noise as through
wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the

To take these expressions in the literal sense, as promising to man the
grossest of sensual indulgences, would surely be a strange misconstruction
of prophetic language; המו (or ומה) which is rendered, _and make a noise_,
is not preceded by the connective ו _and_; it may, therefore, be simply
the personal pronoun _they_, being the nominative to the verb _drink_;
_they shall drink as of wine_, &c. Who is intended by the pronoun _they_,
if at all doubtful here, becomes sufficiently clear in the next verse,
where it is repeated in a manner that leaves no ambiguity, at least as far
as concerns the Gentiles.

Verse 16. :והושיעם יהוה אלהיהם ביום ההוא כצאן עמו כי אבני נזר מתנוססות על

_And the Lord their God shall save them in that day, as the flock of his
people, for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign
upon his land._

Here the pronoun _them_, in evident contradistinction with _his people_,
shews that two nations are spoken of; otherwise the passage might be
rendered, _the Lord God, shall save as a flock, his people_. But the
antithesis marked by the pronoun _them_, is rendered still more obvious,
if possible, in the next line. _For the wall of separation is waving_ (or
tottering) _over his land_. Such is the literal meaning of the Hebrew,
when the words are taken in their primary and ordinary sense. Thus, אבני
(or ינבא) in its usual sense means, _stones_, as the stones of a wall; but
in a more remote and figurative sense, _precious stones_: נזר (or רזנ) in
the primary sense, signifies, _to separate_, or, _separation_; occurring
in this sense ten times at least in Numbers, ch. vi.; but in the secondary
or more remote sense, _a diadem_, which separates or distinguishes the
prince from the people: נסס (or ססנ) in the primary sense means to wave to
and fro, as a flag, or as a wall before it is blown down by the wind; but,
in a secondary sense it signifies, as some understand it here, to glitter
or sparkle, as a diamond, when waved or moved. Thus we see the pains taken
to avoid the plain and obvious sense of the passage; but the Hebrew
scholar will judge for himself.

The concluding verse, in which the prophet breaks forth into expressions
of adoration and praise for the goodness of the Lord, well accords with
this view of his bounty being unlimited, and extending to all his
creatures alike.


As I conclude that the object of the Christian, who thinks he sees in this
Prophecy a clear prediction of the coming of Jesus Christ, is to learn in
what manner it is expounded by the Jews; it appears to me that the
simplest way in which I can reply, will be to lay before him what I
conceive to be the proper translation and interpretation. In doing this,
it will be unnecessary to offer any further explanation or exposition,
beyond what may be given in the form of comment on the translation; while
he is at liberty to conclude with regard to those passages, where no
comment or explanation is offered, not, assuredly, that I assent to _his_
interpretation, but merely that I acquiesce in the reasons he assigns for
my dissent; or that his anticipation of my argument has rendered its
repetition superfluous, as is the case in verses 9 and 10. The following
is my mode of translating this chapter and expounding it:—

Zechariah, Chapter IX.

Verse 1. _The burden of the word of the Lord on the land of Hadrach, and
Damascus, his residence; for to the Lord (will be) the eye of man, and
(particularly that) of all the tribes of Israel._

This prophecy is directed against a king named Hadrach, and against
Damascus his residence. According to some who have visited Syria, there is
to this day, near the desert, a village bearing the name of that king,
whose inhabitants assert that formerly a large district about it, that
constituted a powerful kingdom, was called by the same name.

_For to the Lord_, saith the prophet, _will be the eye of man_, agreeably
to what he further declareth, that the extermination of the wicked will
precede the turning to God, the eyes of the residue of man.

Verse 2. _And also (on) Hamath which borders on her; (on) Tyre, and (on)
Sidon, though she be very wise._ Verse 3. _And Tyre did build herself a
strong hold, and heaped up silver as dust, and gold as mire of the

The burden of the Lord is also touching Hamath, which was bordering on the
former; also Tyre, and Sidon, which thought herself very wise; yet her
wisdom availed her nothing, as was also foretold by Ezekiel, chap. xxvii.
ver. 32.

Verse 4. _Behold the Lord will make her poor, and smite her power in the
sea, and she shall be devoured with fire._ Verse 5. _Ashkelon shall see it
and fear; Gaza also, and she shall be very sorrowful. Ekron also, for he
(God) has made ashamed her expectation: and the king shall perish from
Gaza: and Ashkelon shall not remain._ Verse 6. _And a foreigner shall
dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut of the pride of the Philistines._

All the foregoing is known from history to have been already accomplished,
through the conquests of Alexander the Macedonian; who also destroyed the
fleet of Tyre, and smote her power on the sea. Among others also, it is
said, Ekron shall be very sorrowful, since her hope was blasted; Tyre, on
which she solely confided, being destroyed.

Verse 7. _And when I shall have taken away his blood out of his mouth, and
his abominations from between his teeth; then even he shall remain for our
God, and he shall be as a chief in Judah, and Ekron like Jebusi._

Now the prophet continues to predict, what is yet to be accomplished, that
after their filth and pollution shall have been taken away, a remnant of
them also will be to God; each of whom will not be inferior even to a
chief in Judah, and Ekron will be in a manner as holy as Jebusi, which is
Jerusalem. See Joshua, chap. xviii. ver. 28.

This, and all that is connected with it, to the end of the following
chapter, may refer to a remoter period, to which the mind of the prophet
was suddenly transported; or these events may have been intended,
immediately after the overthrow of these nations, to have followed under
one of the princes of Judah, who was already joined by a part of Ephraim;
and the whole of whom would have been gathered under his banners, were not
this delayed on account of their having acted contrary to the will of God.
For, that the promises of God are conditional, and sometimes delayed, if
those to whom they were made, render themselves undeserving of them,
appears in many instances. See Zech. chap. viii. ver. 14-16. Jeremiah,
chap. xviii. ver. 9-10. Among other instances, may be cited what took
place with our ancestors, who went out of Egypt. The land of Canaan
promised to Abraham (Genesis, chap. xv. ver. 16.) was again promised to
them, even after their having worshipped the calf—Exodus, chap. xxxiii.
ver. 1.—yet, for their frequent rebellions, was the fulfilment of this
promise finally delayed to another generation. (Numb. chap. xiv. ver. 23.)
Nay, it even appears that it would have been retracted, or at least
delayed many generations, but for the intercession of Moses. (Exod. chap.
xxxii. ver. 10.) And, in like manner, may the fulfilment of these
promises, and that of others, which follow, respecting the restoration of
Israel, be delayed, in consequence of the wickedness of our people,
exciting the displeasure of the Lord.

Verse 8. _And I will encamp about my house (to protect) against an army,
against one passing and returning, and no oppressor shall pass over them
any more: for now have I seen it with my eyes._

Now have I seen it with mine eyes, means having graciously turned his
particular attention to them, as is similarly expressed in Exod. chap. ii.
ver. 25.

Ver. 9. _Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion, shout, daughter of Jerusalem,
behold thy King shall come unto thee just, and he being saved, humble and
riding upon an ass, the foal of an ass._

Ver. 10. _And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from
Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace
unto nations; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the
river to the end of the earth._

Verse 11. _Also thou, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent away thy
prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water._

By the blood of the covenant, apparently, is meant that related in Exod.
chap. xxiv. ver. 8. A pit without water means a land of captivity.

Verse 12. _Return ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, even to-day
__(I)__ declare __(THAT)__ I will render double unto thee._

The prisoners are to return and shelter in this strong hold.

Verse 13. _For I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow Ephraim, and
raised up thy sons, Oh Zion! against thy sons, Oh Greece! and made thee as
the sword of a mighty man._

Judah and Ephraim are represented as warlike instruments in the hand of
God, the sword, and the bow which he bends, and fills his hand with;
similar to the expression in 2 Kings, chap. ix. ver. 24.

Verse 14. _And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go
forth as lightning; and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go
forth with the whirlwinds of the South._

Verse 15. _The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and
subdue the sling stones; and noisily drink (their blood) as wine; and they
shall be filled as a bowl, as the corners of an altar._

The prophet in derision here compares their enemies to sling-stones,
contrasted with which in verse 16 that follows, Israel is compared to
precious stones; and of whom it was before said that they were the sword
in the hand of the Lord, to be filled with the blood of their relentless
persecutors. See also Isaiah, chap. xxxiv. ver. 6.

Verse 16. _And the Lord their God will save them, his people as a flock,
for as the stones of a crown shall they be glittering upon his land._

Verse 17. _For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! The
young men he will make as fruitful as corn, and the maids as wine._

Remarks On The Rabbi’s Exposition.

Were I candidly to express my sentiments, I might say, perhaps, that the
Rabbi’s answer had disappointed me, being neither so full nor so forcible
as I expected; but if he, as a Jew, be satisfied, it is not for me as a
Christian to complain. There are, moreover, certain points of coincidence
in our translation, in which the acquiescence of the Rabbi, as a
distinguished Hebrew scholar, is truly gratifying; while there are also
some points of disagreement, in which I am inclined to relinquish my own
in favour of the Rabbi’s translation. I propose briefly to advert to each;
but there is one circumstance that first deserves to be noticed, and
which, however singular it may appear, might yet have been expected. It is
this, that wherever I have ventured to differ from Christian commentators,
there I am also at issue with the Rabbi. Now, having formerly stated that
our received translation is chiefly founded on the Masoretic punctuation,
which is Jewish, a coincidence was naturally to be looked for between the
Jew’s exposition, and that which is in a great measure borrowed from it.
And accordingly such is the case, the Jew’s exposition differing from that
of our own commentators, principally on those points where the latter
discover allusions to Christ. These, the Jew, of course, no where finds.

Now, what the Jew no where perceives, and the Christian only here and
there, as it were incidentally, I maintain to be wholly and solely the
subject of these chapters. This is, at least, a broad and well marked line
of distinction: but here I unfortunately stand alone, having Christian as
well as Jew opposed to me. Even the Jew allows that the subject of the
latter part of this prophecy is the Messiah and his kingdom; but if Christ
be the Messiah, as the Christian must admit, then is Christianity his
kingdom, and the subject of the prophecy. So much for the state of the

The first point of disagreement between us is unconnected with the
punctuation, and is one of little importance to the question, beyond what
it may derive from the concurrence of my opponents. The Rabbi and Dr.
Blaney agree in regarding Hadrach in the first verse, as the name of a
prince, instead of a city or state. The Rabbi gives no authority for his
opinion, and Dr. Blaney supports his by the conjecture that Rehob, spoken
of in 2 Sam. viii. 3, who is by Josephus named Αραος or Αραχος, may be the
prince alluded to. Now since the avowed reason for resorting to this
supposition is the want of a city of this name, I would venture to
suggest, that Aradus bears quite as much resemblance to Hadrach as Αραος
does; and to Aradus was annexed a considerable district of country, which
was precisely the first conquered by Alexander, when he invaded Syria, as
appears by the following citation from Quintus Curtius, lib. 4. cap. 1.
“Aradus quoque insula deditur regi. Maritimam tum oram, pleraque longius â
mari residentia, rex ejus insulæ Strato possidebat. Quo in fidem accepto,
castra movet ad urbem Marathon.” Aradus, like Tyre, was the daughter of
Sidon, as stated by Strabo; Εκτισαν αυτην φυγαδες, ὤς φασιν, εκ Σιδόνος.
These then, are circumstances which add weight to the supposition that
Aradus may be here intended; but still it is no more than conjecture, and
as such, _quod valet, valeat_.

In the same verse, the Rabbi’s rendering of מנחתו (or ותחנמ) _his
residence_, must, of course, stand or fall with the previous question,
Whether Hadrach be the name of a man or a city? If it be that of a prince,
whose residence was Damascus, I have only to observe, that no such person
appears to have resided there at the time the prophet wrote, and this is
the only time that can accord with the Rabbi’s translation.

With regard to the last line of this verse, which the Rabbi renders nearly
in the same manner as our commentators, _for to the Lord will be the eye
of man_, &c. I can only say, that he does not appear to me to have thrown
any new light upon the passage, the sense remaining as vague and obscure
as before. But let the reader judge for himself.

In verse 2nd, the Rabbi agreeing with Lowth, renders תגבל (or לבגת) as an
active verb, “_which borders on her_,” while Blaney, with me, makes it
passive. If, by Hadrach, be intended the district of country extending
inland from the town of Aradus, this would lead us directly to Epiphania,
which was the lesser Hamath; and this expression might be meant to
distinguish it from the greater Hamath, the modern Antioch; but the Rabbi
does not acquiesce in this meaning of Hadrach; and, upon the whole, I see
no sufficient reason to relinquish my own mode of rendering.

In verse 4th, the Rabbi’s translation, “_Behold the Lord will make her
poor_,” I certainly prefer to that of our version, namely, “_shall cast
her out_;” but his explanation of the remainder of this verse, “_and smite
her power in the sea, and she shall be devoured with fire_,” appears less
satisfactory than that of Dr. Blaney, which I have adopted from him. The
Rabbi explains the accomplishment of this passage by Alexander’s defeating
the fleet of the Tyrians, and burning their city; but such an
interpretation is hardly borne out by history; a few occasional skirmishes
by sea, and a partial conflagration, after the city was taken, being the
utmost that took place. And accordingly this verse has been otherwise
explained by Lowth, who understands the “_smiting her power in the sea_,”
as referring to the insular situation of new Tyre; but Dr. Blaney, by a
mode of rendering fully warranted by the Hebrew text, applies these words
to Sidon, where they received their accomplishment in a manner strikingly
peculiar. The difference of translation consists in reading—“_For she_
(Sidon) _has built Tyre, a fortress for herself_,” instead of “_For Tyre
has built a fortress for herself_;” thus applying the expressions which
follow to Sidon, instead of Tyre; which, however, is not thereby excluded
from a full participation in the burden of the prophecy, evidently
denounced against both. In regard to Sidon, the fulfilment was as
follows:—When besieged by Artaxerxes Ochus, some years earlier than the
siege of Tyre by Alexander, the Sidonians, lest individuals might be
tempted to seek their personal safety by flight, and abandon the defence
of the city, burned all their shipping in the first instance; and, when,
by the cowardly treachery of their king, the enemy was admitted within
their walls; they then set fire to their houses, and consumed their city,
their families, their wealth, and themselves; no less than forty thousand
perishing in the flames, according to Diod. Sic.: φασὶ δε τοὺς ὔπο τοῦ
πυρὸς διαφθαρεντας, συν τοῖς οικετικοῖς σώμασι, γεγονέναι πλεὶους τῶν
τετρακισμυρίων. Lib. 16. cap. 45.

In verse 5. The fate of Gaza and its governor, who was dragged round the
city by Alexander, in imitation of Achilles, though noticed by Lowth, is
disregarded by Blaney, for what reason I know not, since this seems as
well intitled to notice as any other literal fulfilment of prophecy.

In verse 7th, the Rabbi’s acquiescence in the meaning of the words, “_when
I have taken away his blood out of his mouth and his pollution from
between his teeth_;” as signifying, literally, the taking away of sin and
pollution, is highly important to the Christian exposition, for it
intimates the first and greatest benefit we derive from the coming of the
Messiah. That the Rabbi does not so understand it, as alluding to the
remission of sins through Christ, is not to be wondered at; but it does
seem singular that Lowth and Blaney should have disregarded or
misunderstood so remarkable a passage, in the sense of which even the Jew
acquiesces, though not in the application. יבוסי (or יסובי), according to
the Rabbi, means Jerusalem, that is, “_Ekron shall be as Jerusalem_.” Now
the Jebusites were the original inhabitants of Jerusalem, it is true; but
why the prophet should here use the word Jebusi for Jerusalem, and here
only, is rather unaccountable, and I cannot but prefer the translation I
have given.

In verses 8, 9, 10, there is no material disagreement between us either in
the translation or the interpretation. Here Jew and Christian agree in
applying these verses to the coming of the Messiah. The only question
between us is, whether Christ be the Messiah, which the Rabbi, of course,

Verse 11. In the words, “_By the blood of thy covenant_,” &c. it was not
to be expected that the Rabbi would see any intimation of a covenant for
the redemption of mankind, sealed with the blood of Christ; though we
might have looked for it in Dr. Blaney. The application of this and the
two preceding verses to Christianity, was so clearly perceived, and so
ably expounded by Lowth, that we only wonder he should have confined that
view to these three verses, considering them as a digression, when by
extending the same principle of interpretation to other parts of the
prophecy, he might have found a clue to the solution of many difficulties.
The want of this clue obliges Dr. Blaney to come to the same conclusion as
the Rabbi, that the remaining part of the prophecy is still
unaccomplished; a conclusion which I am compelled most strenuously to
oppose. To the Jew, the suspension of the fulfilment of this prophecy
would be almost equivalent to that of all others; for the Messiah’s
kingdom is alike the subject of all, and if this one be unaccomplished,
then must they all be so. To the Jew then, I would say—Is this consonant
with the previous ordinations of God in the government of the world, to
leave an interval of more than two thousand years, without the fulfilment
of prophecy, which is to mankind, the most convincing of all proofs of his
Divine superintendance and control over human affairs? To Dr. Blaney, on
the other hand, who conceives that “since our Saviour’s appearance on
earth, nothing has happened to the Jewish nation in any degree answerable
to what is here predicted; no return from captivity, no victories, no
successes,” &c.; to him I would say, why may not “_the children of the
promise_” be here included as well as “_the children of the flesh?_” The
first Christians were Jews, the apostles and disciples were Jews, while
the converted Gentiles were no less styled, “_Israelites by adoption_;”
and so they are continually called in prophetic language. If then the
terms, “_Sons of Zion_” and “_Israel of God_,” be _not less_ applicable to
those who received Christ for their Messiah, than to those who rejected
him; we cannot surely say with Dr. Blaney, that there have been no return
from captivity, no victories, no successes, since the coming of Christ;
for it will hardly be maintained that redemption from the bondage of sin
is no return from captivity; that the triumph of Christianity over
paganism is no victory, and the rapid propagation of the Gospel no

In verse 12, “_The strong hold_,” which is evidently the same as the
prison-house, called in the preceding verse, “_the pit without water_,”
and which the Rabbi allows to be a state of captivity, is here, somewhat
abruptly, transformed into a place of shelter and protection.

Verse 15. The Rabbi’s idea, that the prophet here uses the term
“_sling-stones_,” in derision, as an appellative for the enemies of
Israel, while he applies to themselves, in the next verse, the term
“_precious stones_,” appears to me, I must acknowledge, somewhat novel;
and as I dispute that translation of the next verse altogether, so I
cannot acquiesce in such an explanation of this. With regard to the
rendering of המו (or ומה) in the same verse, which I have considered as
the personal pronoun, “_they_,” instead of the verb “_to make a noise_”—I
believe the Rabbi’s, upon re-considering the passage, to be the more
correct translation.

But these verbal differences, however they may interest the Hebrew
scholar, are of trivial importance, as regarding the grand question
between us, namely, whether the accomplishment of the predictions
contained in this chapter, ceases before we arrive at verse 9, which is
admitted to announce the coming of the Messiah. Upon this point, then, I
plead the general issue. If I succeed in shewing that every part of the
prophecy in the following chapters, as well as the present, has been
clearly accomplished in the leading events of the history of Christianity,
I gain my cause. If I fail to do so, let the verdict go for the Jew.


Two points appeared to be established in the last chapter; one, that the
Messiah’s kingdom is the subject of this part of the prophecy, and the
other, that that kingdom is a spiritual one; or these points, if not
proved, were, at least, shewn to be in perfect accordance with every
verse, and every line contained in that chapter.

That the Messiah’s kingdom is the subject, appeared from the express
declaration of the 9th verse, “_Behold, thy King cometh_,” &c., and from
the exact accordance of every other with this view.

The circumstances that intimated the spiritual nature of that kingdom, and
shewed that the prophecy refers to Christianity, were the following:—the
denunciations against worldly-mindedness, wherewith the subject is
prefaced and introduced; these being immediately followed by, and
contrasted with the promise of spiritual blessings from the Messiah’s
coming; which were declared to be the remission of sins, and the
redemption of the Gentile world from the darkness of idolatry;—next, the
personal character of the Messiah, and the express manner of his coming,
namely, in meekness and humility;—the peaceful nature of his reign;—the
shedding of his blood for the redemption of mankind from the bondage of
sin;—the joint instrumentality of Israel in the accomplishment of the
great scheme of redemption, but the admission of the Gentiles to a full
participation in the blessings which result from it, and the removal of
the partition wall, mentioned by St. Paul, (Ephes. ii. 14,) by which they
had been previously excluded from them. These are the circumstances that
declare the spirituality of the Messiah’s kingdom, and these are clearly
intimated in the last chapter.

The present will be found to contain somewhat less variety of incident,
with more of exhortations and promises than the preceding. These are more
particularly addressed to the house of Judah, but their subsequent
extension to “_them of Ephraim_” also, is a circumstance that calls for
some explanation, without which it would be difficult to shew the
chronological order of the events foretold.

Ephraim, or the ten tribes, had gone into captivity long before the time
when the prophecy was uttered, which was that of the building of the
second temple; nor have these tribes since returned, (what is become of
them, or whether they be now in existence, being wholly unknown,) yet is
their return from captivity here distinctly foretold. What, then, are we
to understand by this return, or who is intended by “_them of Ephraim_,”
is the question?

On the spiritual view, the captivity means the bondage of sin, and
especially of idolatry, into which Ephraim had fallen by their apostacy;
and their return will mean their return to true religion, whereby they
obtain the remission of their sins, and the gift of eternal life. But what
is meant by “_them of Ephraim_”? Are we to understand thereby the original
ten tribes who revolted with Jeroboam, and whose descendants are not known
to be now in existence? or the remnant of those tribes who returned to
Jerusalem, (2 Chron. xi. 16,) and who having joined the tribe of Judah
have since become mixed and identified with them?

On this latter view the prophecy may already in part have received its
fulfilment, as some of this remnant, mixed with the tribes of Judah and
Benjamin, in the apostolic age, were probably among the number of our
Lord’s disciples, and were thus redeemed from the bondage of sin, and have
already shared in the triumphs and blessings of the Gospel. On the former
view, supposing, what is not impossible, that these tribes are still in
existence, we must look chiefly to the future, as regards them, for the
accomplishment of this part of the prophecy. But whichever view we
embrace, as to those who constitute now the ten tribes, we must still look
to the future, (and this is the point to be attended to,) for the full and
perfect fulfilment of the prophecy; for so long as any of the house of
Israel remain unredeemed, so long must they be regarded, in the spiritual
view, which is the view we embrace, as still remaining in the bondage of
sin, and not yet returned from captivity.

This then is the essential point as regards the prophetic chronology, that
where events are spoken of, which, like the restoration of Israel, are
continuous from age to age, or destined to occupy many centuries in their
fulfilment, there the prophetic view must needs accord with the nature of
the events, comprising at one glance the commencement, the continuance,
and the completion of what is foretold; consequently these events not
being limited to particular periods like the ordinary occurrences of
history, like the fate of a battle or the fall of a monarchy, cannot be
dated with chronological precision, except it be from the time of their
commencement. And precisely of this nature are the events which form the
subject of the chapter before us.

The first of these in order, as well as importance, is the progress of the
Gospel of Christ, or the triumph of Judah, which began with the apostolic
age, and has since continued progressive, though with a fluctuating
career, and unequal success, up to the present time, when it extends over
a large portion of the habitable world; but still without having attained
to any thing like the universality announced in prophecy. This then is an
event, which being still progressive, is not limitable to a particular
period, nor capable of being dated with precision except from its

Next to this, or to the triumph of Judah, is the promised restoration of
Israel, which cannot be deemed complete, while so many of the house of
Israel, dispersed over the nations of Christendom, still rest their hopes
on the covenant of the Law; a covenant which we as Christians believe to
have been annulled at the promulgation of the Gospel; but which from the
first offered only temporal rewards, and unlike the covenant of grace,
gave no distinct promises of eternal life. That the remaining Israelites
will ultimately awaken to a sense of these advantages, we may confidently
expect from this promise of restoration, and from the predicted
universality of the Messiah’s kingdom. This then is also an event yet
imperfectly accomplished, or still in a state of progression, and
therefore yet incapable of being dated with precision.

The abolition of Paganism is another, which though nominally effected at
the beginning of the fourth century, is yet so far from being complete,
that Paganism still prevails over the largest portion of the globe; and
consequently this, like the former, is an event which can be dated only
from its commencement. Bearing then in mind the nature of these events,
and the impossibility of limiting the date of them to definite periods, we
may now proceed with the interpretation of the prophecy.

As the last chapter opened with denunciations of divine wrath against
worldly-mindedness, which were followed by, and contrasted with the
unfolding of the spiritual nature of the Messiah’s kingdom, so the present
chapter opens with exhortations to seek for spiritual blessings, and with
the promise of their abundant bestowal on those who ask for them.

_Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord
causing lightning, shall bring heavy showers, and give to every one grass
in the field._

This language is metaphorical, it is true, and so is invariably that which
is employed in describing the plenteousness of the Messiah’s kingdom,
abounding in corn, wine, and oil, natural plenty signifying abundance in
spiritual blessings. Were any one disposed to take such expressions in a
strictly literal sense, he would soon find it impossible, for, most of
them are mixed metaphors, such as _waters of life_, _trees of
righteousness_, _garments of salvation_, of which part at least must be
figurative; and the spiritual sense is in fact the most literal of any
that can possibly be affixed to them. _Ask ye of the Lord rain_, signifies
seek the blessings of righteousness, and they shall be freely given to
you. When viewed in this light, we shall readily perceive the connection
between this and the next verse, which contrasts the value of true, with
the worthlessness and deceitfulness of false religion.

_For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and
told false dreams; they comfort in vain._

That is, the heathen priests and oracles promise blessings which they have
no power to bestow, but delude their votaries with false hopes, leading
them astray, and leaving them to wander as a flock without a shepherd.

_Therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled because
there was no shepherd._

A religion like Paganism, which allowed the unrestrained indulgence of the
passions, of pride, avarice, and ambition, was well calculated to seduce;
and the Jews, in spite of the continual exhortations of their prophets, in
spite of the many signal miracles displayed to them, and wrought in their
behalf, had frequently relapsed into idolatry. Nor can it be supposed that
the outward worship of idols was alone displeasing to God, and that the
indulgence of the passions, which was the soul and spirit of idolatry, was
disregarded. The spirit was at least as likely as the form of Paganism to
be offensive to Heaven; and accordingly it was continually denounced by
the prophets, and had been frequently punished by signal acts of judgment.
And in this did the Jewish priests and rulers still offend, by their
avarice and worldly-mindedness, and thus incur the displeasure of Heaven,
as already intimated, and here repeated.

_Mine anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the

The shepherds are the guardians, the goats the leaders of the flock; but
the Jewish shepherds and leaders misled their flock, and as their
forefathers, under Jeroboam, had embraced idolatry, and were therefore
allowed to be carried away into captivity, so their posterity, seduced by
similar passions, rejected the blessings of the Gospel, and were suffered
to remain in the bondage of sin. But the house of Judah having remained
faithful, to them was the Messiah promised; and given to those who were
willing to receive him.

_But the Lord of hosts hath visited his flock, the house of Judah, and
made them as his goodly horse in battle. Out of him shall come the
corner-stone; out of him, the nail; out of him, the battle bow; out of him
every ruler together._

Triumphant career and success are herein promised to Judah, but the
Messiah’s kingdom having been already declared to be a peaceful one, we
cannot suppose literal warfare to be here intended. The triumph of true
religion over Paganism is no doubt the warfare to be understood.

_And they shall be as mighty men who tread down their enemies in the mire
of the streets in battle; and they shall fight because the Lord is with
them, and they shall confound the riders on horses._

And while this triumph is promised to Judah, mercy and forgiveness are
declared to Israel also, and their return from captivity is foretold.

_And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of
Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them, for I have mercy upon
them, and they shall be as though I had not cast them off; for I am the
Lord their God, and will hear them. And they of Ephraim shall be like a
mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine, yea their
children shall see it and be glad, their heart shall rejoice in the Lord._

The complete fulfilment of this part of the prophecy must still be future,
whether we consider it as referring to the Jews now dispersed over
different countries, or to the ten tribes who went into captivity.

In most countries of Europe and probably of Asia also, the usual mode of
call to a person just within hearing is a shrill kind of hiss, which is
the more readily noticed because differing from all other sounds. This
expression is accordingly used in the prophecy to express the recal of
Israel, whether spiritual or otherwise.

_I will hiss for them, and gather them, for I have redeemed them, and they
shall increase as they have increased._

The next verse speaks of sowing them again among the people, which appears
at first as if again declaring their dispersion; but on the spiritual view
there is no reason to suppose that such is the meaning. Sowing them among
the people, on this view will signify the blending together of Jews and
Gentiles, by their embracing one common faith; whereby they at length
become one race, and all distinction is lost under the common denomination
of Christians. This also explains the rapid increase of their numbers here
foretold, as well as their return from captivity, and their living again.
The increase of numbers arising from the accession of converts; their
return from captivity, signifying redemption from the bondage of sin; and
their living, the resurrection to eternal life through Christ.

_And I will sow them among the people, and they shall remember me in far
countries, and they shall live with their children, and turn again._

The spirituality of this return and gathering becomes still clearer as we
proceed, signifying the flowing together of all nations, Gentiles as well
as Jews, into the house of the Lord.

_And I will bring them again out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out
of Assyria, and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and
place shall not be found for them._

This extraordinary increase of numbers, which is to overflow all
countries, strongly favours the spiritual view, for the actual number of
the Hebrew nation is avowedly diminishing, and becoming less and less
likely to perform the wonderful changes next intimated. The sea and the
isles were common expressions for the Gentile nations, (Gen. x. 5,) while
the land signifies always the Jews, from Palestine or the Holy Land—see
note. Rivers denote in prophetic language, the people residing on their
borders. (Isaiah viii. 7.) _The_ river, in particular, signifies the
Euphrates and the Eastern nations bordering upon it. This will serve as a
key to the meaning of the next verse, which announces the subversion of
Paganism in these different countries. Thus, _afflicting the sea and
smiting the waves_, denote its extinction in the West; _drying up the
depths of the river_, signify its extinction in the East; _and bringing
down the pride of Assyria_, and _the departing of the sceptre from Egypt_
bespeak its further abolition.

_And he shall cause affliction to pass over the sea, and shall smite the
waves of the sea: and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the
pride of Assyria shall be brought down; and the sceptre of Egypt shall
depart away._

Surely these expressions announce some greater changes than would result
from the mere emigration from these countries of a race, poor, afflicted,
and despised, as the Jews long have been. And small indeed is the
likelihood that the literal subjugation of all these countries by that
race, can be here intended. The following verse points out a far more
probable and consistent solution of the problem, in the overthrow of their
idolatry, and the turning of all these nations to the worship of the one
true God.

_And I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down
in his name, saith the Lord._


Verse 1. :יהוה עשה חזיזים ומטר גשם

_So the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain._

The Hebrew here may be rendered (see Lowth and Parkhurst) _lightning_
instead of _bright clouds_, and the connexion with rain will then be much
more obvious; especially with _heavy_ rain, as the Hebrew word literally
signifies, which usually follow lightning. The construction will then be
as proposed in the text.

_So the Lord causing lightning, shall bring heavy rain, &c._

Verse 3. :על הרעים חרה אפי ועל העתודים אפקוד כי פקד יהוה

_Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats,
for the Lord, &c._

The apparently indiscriminate use of the past and future tenses, in
scriptural and prophetic language, has perplexed the best Hebrew scholars.
On the conversive power of the ו, Granville Sharpe’s is perhaps the best
treatise. In the present case, unless the ו retain that power when
disjoined from the verb, there is no reason for rendering the future אפקוד
(or דוקפא) as a perfect, or, _I punished_, instead of _I will punish_.
And, as Mr. Lowth observes, the כי (or יכ) which follows would be more
properly rendered _But_ than _For_, and it will then be—_mine anger is
kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the goats; But the Lord
of Hosts_, &c. The shepherds and the goats both signify leaders of the

Verse 4. :ממנו פנה ממנו יתד ממנו קשת מלחמה ממנו יצא כל נוגש יחדו

_Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the
battle bow, out of him every oppressor together._

The words _corner_, _nail_, and _oppressor_, must be rather perplexing to
the English reader, nor can the Hebrew scholar be certain of the precise
meaning of each, though their general import is obvious enough. Thus פנה
(or הנפ) _corner_, signifies in the root to _turn_, and as the _corner
stone_ is a guide to the builder in laying the others, it comes to signify
a guide or leader. So יתד (or דתי), _a nail_, signifies one on whom others
depend. And נוגש (or שגונ), _an oppressor_, like the Greek τυραννος,
signifies generally, _a prince_, as well as a _tyrant_. Thus these terms
are each of them equivalent to a _chief_ or _leader_.

The verb יצא (or אצי), which follows, may be either past or future, but
the latter accords best with the context, as in the proposed translation.
_Out of him shall come forth the corner-stone, __ out of him the nail, out
of him the battle bow, out of him every leader together._

Verse 8. אשרקה להם.—_I will hiss for them._

The word _hiss_, does not to the English reader convey the correct meaning
here. In many parts of Europe, and, probably, in some of Asia, the common
made of call is by a shrill sound, very different from either a hiss or a
whistle. In some countries it is effected by pressing the tongue against
the teeth with the lips open, and sounding the letters—tsz. In others, it
is usual to begin with the lips compressed, and without closing the teeth,
thus making the sound of the letters psh—but in both, the sibilant sound
predominates, and is heard to a considerable distance, while its
peculiarity instantly attracts attention from all that are within hearing;
and this is no doubt the sense of the term, as here used. The Hebrew
closely resembles, and probably gives the etymology of the English word,
_shriek_. (See Parkhurst.)

Verse 11. :ועבר בים צרה והכה בים גלים

_And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the
waves of the sea._

This mode of rendering gives a turn to the sense of the passage, which is
wholly uncalled for, if not unwarranted by the original: which would be
more literally translated: _And affliction shall come over the sea_, &c.
But the Jew’s mode of rendering is equally correct, and better accords
with the context, thus: _He shall cause trouble to pass in the sea, and
shall smite the waves of the sea._ The latter expression amplifying and
explaining the former.

What is meant by the expressions, the sea, the isles, and the land, is a
point of no small importance. In prophetic language, the sea and the isles
always signify the western Gentiles, or European nations; while the land
signifies Palestine, or the Jewish nation. The Hebrew word ים (or םי)
means either the sea or the west. As the sea extends along the whole
western coast of Syria, sea and west came to be used synonymously. And as
the European nations lay beyond the sea they obtained the name of the
isles, or the isles of the Gentiles, as they are called in Gen. x. 5. Mr.
Lowth observes, on Isa. xi. 11. “The islands, in the prophetic style, seem
particularly to denote the western parts of the world, or the European
nations; the west being often called the sea in the Scripture language.”

Thus, “_causing affliction, or trouble, to come over the sea_,” and
“_smiting the waves of it_,” signify, as the Jew rightly explains, to
cause confusion and dismay among the Gentile nations of the west.

Verse 11. :והבישו כל מצולות יאור

_And all the deeps of the river shall dry up._

That rivers are meant, in prophetic language, to represent the people
residing on their borders, appears in various passages. See Isa, viii. 7.
“_Now, therefore, behold the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the
river strong and many, even the king of Assyria and all his glory._” In
like manner, the drying up of the Euphrates, is spoken of under the sixth
vial in the Revelations, in allusion to the nations bordering upon that


Contending, as the Jew does, that no part of the prophecy relating to the
Messiah’s kingdom, has yet been accomplished, he cannot reasonably be
expected to offer a particular interpretation of what, according to his
view, is still unfulfilled. And, accordingly, his remarks on this chapter
are restricted to an occasional correction of the received translation,
and a few short explanatory notes; while his reply to my exposition, if
reply it can be called, may be comprised in one short sentence, namely,
that he considers the whole unaccomplished, and rejects altogether the
spiritual exposition, admitting none but the literal.

In answer to this, I have to observe, that the literal acceptation, has
already, in some instances, been shewn to be impossible; and will,
hereafter, be so in many more; while the figurative exposition offered, is
in perfect accordance with the style and language of prophecy in general,
and is uniform and consistent throughout.

As I fully acquiesce in the Rabbi’s corrections, and in the only instance
where we differ, have adopted his view in preference to my own, it is
wholly unnecessary to offer his translation at length; but an objection
which he makes to my exposition of verses 3rd and 4th of the last chapter,
I feel called upon to notice.

In those verses, I adopted the view of Dr. Blayney, that the destruction
_by fire_, there denounced, applies to Sidon rather than to Tyre.

The common version, “_For Tyre has built herself a fortress_,” being
rendered by him, “_For she_ (Sidon) _has built herself a fortress, Tyre_;”
the Sidonians being thus made the immediate object of denunciation, who
are allowed to have been the builders of Tyre, which was thence called the
daughter of Sidon.

Now the Jew’s objection is founded upon collateral prophecies, in which
the burden cannot, as here, be shifted from Tyre to Sidon, the former
being distinctly named in these; and in some, the precise mode of
destruction specified, namely, by fire: Thus, in Amos i. 10, “_I will send
a fire upon the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof:_”
see also Isa. xxiii., in which the whole burden is expressly on Tyre; and
again, Ezek. xxvii. 32, “_and in their wailing, they shall take up a
lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like
Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?_”

These, and similar passages, would, no doubt, be fatal to the exposition
of Dr. Blayney, could they be shewn to foretel one and the same event; but
against this, there are, what appear to me, conclusive objections. Two of
these prophets not only wrote long before the time of Zechariah, but
before the destruction of Old Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, which was therefore
most likely to be the object of their predictions, and not New Tyre,
which, at that time was not in existence, being built after Old Tyre was
demolished; this then appears conclusive against the objection drawn from
what occurs in Amos and Isaiah. With regard to Ezekiel, the case is
somewhat different, and the answer must rest on other grounds.

Ezekiel did write much nearer to the time in question, and commentators
appear undecided whether some of his predictions refer to the destruction
of Old or New Tyre, or to both; for if he uttered this prophecy before the
siege of Old Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar, which can hardly admit of doubt, when
he says, chap. xxvi. 7, “Behold I will bring upon Tyrus, Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon;” still the expression of “_the destroyed in the midst of
the sea_,” does seem peculiarly applicable to the insular situation of New
Tyre. But if it be granted that the siege of this latter, by Alexander, be
intimated in that remarkable expression; yet Ezekiel no where, that I can
find, specifies _fire_ as the peculiar agent of destruction; therefore, it
cannot be inferred from any thing he says, that in Zechariah’s prophecy,
which appears to be directed against both Tyre and Sidon, this particular
mode of destruction may not apply to Sidon, as the text certainly warrants
that interpretation. Thus I see no reason to relinquish Dr. Blayney’s
view, which I should give up with the more reluctance, as I have so rarely
been able to go along with that learned commentator; while this exposition
appeared to me a very happy solution of a difficulty presented by the
received translation.


It was before stated, that we should find in its proper place, due notice
taken of the pride and worldly-mindedness which led the Jews to reject the
Messiah, as he offered no temporal advantages; and of their forfeiting
thereby all claim to the blessings which his kingdom was calculated to
afford. We are now come to that place. The introduction to this chapter
announces the frustration of their hopes of worldly greatness built upon
the promised Messiah; and distinctly states what portion of their nation
would be blinded by such motives, and what portion would be exempt from
them. The rulers, the rich, and the great are declared to be those who
would mislead the flock; while the poor and the humble are stated to be
those who would recognise the hand of God in his works, and perceive that
this was the word of the Lord.

At the time of Christ’s coming, it is unquestionable, that a very general
expectation prevailed among the Jews, that the period for their Messiah’s
appearance was arrived; but so remote was the character of Jesus from what
they expected in their prince, and so different were the advantages he
offered from what they had hoped to obtain, that the majority of the
people willingly yielded to the persuasion of their interested rulers,
that he was not the promised Messiah; and thus the misguided flock for the
most part entered into the views of their priests and rulers, and rejected

The motives for this rejection are manifest even to this day, in the
backwardness of Israel to relinquish the hopes of a temporal Messiah, and
in their blindness to the benefits offered them by a spiritual one;
although the consequence has hitherto been to them the loss of even the
temporal advantages they previously enjoyed, instead of the attainment of
others which they expected. Small, however, in the Christian’s estimation,
are these, in comparison with their loss, in a spiritual point of view, or
their loss of the especial favour of Heaven; which from that time has not
only withheld from them any further revelations, but, as we conceive, has
even blinded them to the true spiritual import of those previously
vouchsafed. Thus, in whatever light we view it, whether spiritually or
politically, the humiliation of Israel from that time to the present, has
been abundantly manifest; as declared in the prophecy, under the metaphor
of the fall of the loftiest trees, the pride of the forest.

_Open thy doors, O Lebanon! that the fire may devour thy cedars. Howl,
fir-tree, for the cedar is fallen, because the mighty is spoiled. Howl, O
ye oaks of Bashan, for the forest of the vintage is come down. There is a
voice of the howling of the shepherds, for their glory is spoiled. A voice
of the roaring of young lions, for the pride of Jordan is spoiled._

This language is highly figurative, no doubt; yet is it interspersed with
expressions, which almost preclude the possibility of its misapplication;
for _the cedars of Lebanon_, and _the oaks of Bashan_, are next, by a
change of metaphor, called, _the shepherds of the flock_; and soon after,
dropping the metaphor entirely, it appears that they are the rich and the
great, who sacrifice their flock to avarice and ambition. Their hopes,
however, were frustrated, in the appearance of a spiritual, instead of a
temporal prince, and an exultation over their disappointed ambition forms
the exordium to this chapter, which may be explained as follows:—

Literally, the shepherds are supposed to howl for the loss of their rich
pastures on mount Carmel, the forest of the vintage; and the lions to roar
for the loss of their covert, the thickets on the banks of Jordan, the
pride of the river, which, with other trees, are doomed to destruction;
but the figurative meaning is, that the priests and rulers of Israel
should be disappointed of their hopes of worldly greatness at the
Messiah’s coming, and be deprived, under the new dispensation, of their
power and influence.

The lamentation over their frustrated hopes, is next coupled with
expressions of compassion for their misguided flock, whom they had doomed
to the slaughter; that is, by depriving them of _the life which is in
Christ_. This flock, the prophet is commanded to feed.

_Thus saith the Lord my God. Feed the flock of the slaughter, whose
possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty. And they that sell
them say, Blessed be the Lord for I am rich. And their own shepherds pity
them not._

Avarice is thus foreshewn to be the vice which would lead the priests to
reject Christ; the sending of whom is next declared to be the last act of
Divine interposition in behalf of Israel; those who reject him being
thenceforward left to themselves.

_For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord, but,
lo! I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into
the hand of his shepherd, and they shall smite the land, and out of their
hand I will not deliver them._

But while further interposition is thus denied to those who reject Christ,
being the rich and the great; spiritual food is expressly promised to
those who receive him, who were the poor and the meek.

_But I will feed the flock of the slaughter, even you, O poor of the

The food here promised to those who are willing to receive it, cannot be
any other than spiritual food; that is, the knowledge to discern truth
from falsehood, and the grace to make a proper election between right and
wrong. To the poor, this was given, of whom Christ declared that “_Theirs
was the kingdom of Heaven_:” to the rich it was not given, of whom he
declared, “_That it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a
needle_,” than for them to enter his kingdom.

We now come to the events to which this introductory matter is intended to
lead us; and to render the prophetic annunciation the more impressive, it
is typically represented by actions, as well as expressed by words. This
is the most important part of the prophecy; that on which it may be said
that the whole interpretation hinges. And yet it is here that the
Christian is at fault, and that the Jew expects a certain triumph: nor
without reason, when our ablest commentators disagree, or even acknowledge
the difficulties to be insurmountable. Whether they are removed by the
proposed exposition, the reader must decide; and to enable him to do so,
we shall state them as briefly as possible.

The events alluded to will, with the Christian, scarcely admit of doubt,
for the passage before us is cited in the Gospel of Matthew, though by
some error, it is there ascribed to Jeremiah instead of Zechariah. But
were the citation in question even supposed to be a marginal note, which
had found its way into the text in transcribing, still the purport of the
prophecy would be not the less manifest, for the connection of this with
the context, and the unity of the whole, sufficiently declare the subject.

The events foreshewn, are the death of Christ; the dissolution of the old,
and the founding of the new covenant; the rejection of this latter by the
great body of the Jewish nation, and their immediate forfeiture of the
benefits it affords; with other circumstances attending these events, such
as the betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver; the employment of
this money in the purchase of the potter’s field; the separation of the
Jews, who rejected Christ, from those who received him; and the evils
entailed upon those who, having rejected the true, followed after false
Messiahs. These are the circumstances shadowed forth in the prophecy; but
to give a consistent explanation of every part of it, and to shew the
exact adaptation of the events to the prediction, constitute the

The typical actions of the prophet, consist in his taking two staves, or
crooks; first affixing to each of them a significant denomination, and
then breaking them in succession; accompanying this action with
explanations, declaratory of the purport of his doing so. Yet is the whole
highly mystical, and in parts so obscure, that Dr. Blayney acknowledges he
cannot solve these difficulties; an avowal that would have been rendered
unnecessary, had his predecessor Lowth been more successful. Their failure
seems chiefly to have arisen from their misconceiving, in the first place,
whom the prophet here personates in the character of the shepherd; and, in
the next, what the staves are intended to represent; for the general
purport of the whole, is rightly understood by both to be an allusion to
the death of Christ, and the completion of his mission. Accordingly, Lowth
supposes the shepherd to personate the Messiah, as the shepherd of his
flock. But the Messiah is throughout the person spoken of, rather than the
speaker, as will presently appear. Blayney also considers the prophet as a
type of the Messiah; but supposes him sometimes to speak in his own name,
as being himself the shepherd. Not to dwell on the want of consistency in
this change of character, its avowed inadequacy to furnish the solution
required, is alone a sufficient refutation of it.

That the prophet is the actual speaker is clear, but he speaks in the name
of the Almighty, as is distinctly declared three times at least in the
present chapter. The great Shepherd is then no other than God himself; and
all mankind are his flock. Who are the staves, or crooks, we have next to

The staff, or crook, is the shepherd’s implement, with which he tends his
flock, protecting them on the one hand, or correcting them on the other.
Hence the two names adapted to the two-fold office, which might be
rendered Pleasure and Pain, instead of Beauty and Bands; but there is no
occasion to alter the translation, which is equally literal, and equally
appropriate as it stands. It is, perhaps, worthy of note, that two staves
were once in use for these different purposes. What are these staves then
intended to represent? In a word, God being the Shepherd, and all mankind
his flock, the staves appear to be typical of _Christ_ and _Israel_; these
being the agents employed, the great instruments in the hands of God, in
accomplishing the work of man’s redemption, from the darkness of idolatry
to the light of true religion. One staff being _Israel_, with whom was
founded the Old Covenant, the express object of which was the abolition of
idolatry; a covenant which is continually called the “_bondage of the
law_;” and the other staff, _Christ_, the founder of the New Covenant,
called “_the beauty of holiness_” who declared that his yoke was easy, or
pleasant; thus the name will be equally appropriate, whichever translation
is adopted.

_And I took unto me two staves, the one I called __ Beauty, and the other
I called Bands, and I fed the flock._

The parallelism between these two staves strikingly appears in the
circumstance that the most remarkable prophecies, as the liiid. chapter of
Isaiah, which the Christian conceives to be exactly fulfilled in the
person and character of Christ, the Jew imagines to accord as perfectly
with the circumstances and condition of the house of Israel. May we not
suppose them to be designedly applicable to both? instrumental alike to
the same great purpose, man’s redemption from idolatry.

One of the earliest acts of Christ, who, however, did every thing in the
name of the Father, was his exposing the unfitness of the Jewish leaders,
who were the priests, the scribes, and the elders, to be the spiritual
guides of the flock. Their selfishness and hypocrisy he unsparingly
denounced, as rendering them unfit for such an office; of which they were
consequently deprived under the new dispensation. Such appears to be the
purport of the following verse, as ably expounded by Lowth.

_Three shepherds also I cut off in one month, and my soul loathed them,
and their soul also abhorred me._

_One month_, is an indefinite expression for a short time, as if the
prophet had said, _at once_. When the people had been duly warned against
these treacherous guides; those who chose to disregard that warning, had
no reason to complain, if it pleased Heaven to leave them to their fate,
as is next declared.

_Then said I, I will not feed you; that that dieth, let it die, and that
that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one
the flesh of another._

The prophet next foreshews, by typical actions, accompanied by
explanations declaratory of their purport, the death of Christ, and the
dissolution of the Old Covenant.

_And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder; that I might break
my Covenant, which I made with all the people._

The Covenant with Moses promised protection against all nations, while
Israel remained obedient. Israel disobeyed and the Covenant was broken.
The Covenant with Abraham promised blessing to all nations through his
seed. The Gospel of Christ was that blessing; refused by the Jews, and
consequently given to the Gentiles; for a remnant only of Israel received
the Gospel, and those were the poor of the flock.

_And it was broken in that day, and so the poor of the flock that waited
upon me, knew that it was the word of the Lord._

“The poor had the Gospel preached unto them,” and received it with
gratitude; but the ingratitude of their leaders towards the Great
Shepherd, for the care he had so long taken of them; and the small
estimation in which they held a spiritual Messiah, are aptly foreshewn by
the prophet, in the name of the Great Shepherd, claiming his reward at
their hands, and their offering the precise sum which was given for
Christ, thirty pieces of silver.

_And I said, If ye think good give me my wages, and if not, forbear; so
they weighed me for my reward, thirty pieces of silver._

The way in which this money was actually bestowed, is next foreshewn, by
the Shepherd’s rejecting it scornfully, and desiring it may be given to
the potter.

_And the Lord said unto me, cast it to the potter; a goodly price that I
was valued at by them: so I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast
them to the potter in the house of the Lord._

The price they actually gave for Christ, aptly denotes the value they put
upon God’s goodness in sending him, the Great Shepherd’s proffered
remuneration. The house of the Lord, or the temple, is the supposed scene
of action, shewing the spiritual import of the transaction. The money
being given to the potter, foreshews how it would be actually employed, to
wit, in the purchase of the potter’s field; in fact, it was given to the
potter. If it be asked what the potter had to do in the temple? the answer
is, he went there, as others did, to pray. His being there does not, as
some suppose, imply that he was at work there.

Those who rejected and crucified Christ, are thenceforward rejected from
being God’s chosen people. As Christ was cut off from natural life, so
Israel was cut off from _the life in Christ_ as next intimated.

_Then I cut asunder my other staff, even Bands, __ that I might break the
brotherhood between Judah and Israel._

The house of Jacob was from this time divided into Christians and Jews,
who appear to be distinguished in the prophecy under the types of Judah
and Israel; the former denoting those who received, and the latter those
who rejected Christ. This distinction appears to be maintained till their
promised re-union in the New Jerusalem.

The spiritual evils entailed on those who reject the true Messiah, to
follow after false teachers, are next foreshewn.

_And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a
foolish shepherd, for I will raise up a Shepherd in the land, which shall
not visit those that be cut of, neither shall seek the young, nor heal
that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still, but he shall eat
the flesh of the fat, and tear their hoofs asunder._

Israel is thus left to the mercy of these false shepherds, while spiritual
blindness, infatuation, and utter helplessness, are the awful judgments
denounced against the selfish and worldly-minded priesthood, who thus
mislead and sacrifice their flock.

_Woe to the idol shepherd, that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon
his arm, and upon his right eye; his arm shall be clean dried up, and his
right eye shall be utterly darkened._

The spiritual blindness which has since darkened the mental vision of
Israel, appears to the Christian to be here distinctly foretold.


Ver. 1. פתח לבנון דלתיך—_Open thy doors, O Lebanon, &c._

That Jewish writers have understood “_the forest_,” as metaphorically
representing Jerusalem with her stately buildings, and “_Lebanon_,” as the
temple itself, appears from the following note of Mr. Lowth, on this

“By Lebanon, most interpreters understand the temple, whose stately
buildings resemble the tall cedars of that forest. Thus the word is
commonly understood,” Hab. ii. 17.

There is a remarkable story mentioned in the Jewish writers to this
purpose. Some time before the destruction of the temple, the doors of it
opened of their own accord; a circumstance mentioned by Josephus, Bell.
Jud. 1. 7. c. 12. Then R. Johanan, a disciple of R. Hillel, directing his
speech to the temple said, _I know thy destruction is at hand, according
to the prophecy of Zechariah_, Open thy doors, O Lebanon, &c.

The passage in Josephus in my edition is, lib. 6, cap. 5, and a very
remarkable one it is, containing many other portents preceding the
destruction of the temple, besides the spontaneous opening of these
massive doors, which were so ponderous as to require twenty men to open
and shut them.

Ver. 2. כי ירד יער הבצור—_For the forest of the vintage is come down._

By the forest of the vintage, is understood Mount Carmel, which was partly
covered with vineyards and rich pastures, for the loss of which the
shepherds are said to howl, in the following verse. The shepherds
metaphorically designate the leaders of the people; the different trees of
the forest denoting the different classes and orders of men.

Ver. 3. כי שדד גאון הירדן—_For the pride of Jordan is spoiled._

By the pride of Jordan is to be understood, as Dr. Blayney observes, the
woods and thickets on the banks of that river. These served as covert for
lions, which often infested the country when driven from them by the
rising of the river. These trees being along with others doomed to
destruction, the lions roar for the loss of their shelter, as the
shepherds howl for the loss of their rich pastures. The lions denote
metaphorically the great and powerful among the people. Their disposition
to prey upon and devour the flock, well accords with the character
afterwards given to the shepherds also, and shews the consistency of the
metaphorical language.

Ver. 6. כי לא אחמול עוד על ישבי הארץ—_For I will no more pity the
inhabitants of the land, &c._

The distinction between _the sea_ and _the land_, has been already pointed
out in the note to ver. 11, of the last chapter, and is here too manifest
to admit of doubt. Lebanon, Bashan, Carmel, and Jordan, clearly shew what
land is here spoken of, which can be no other than Palestine.

Ver. 10. להפיר את בריתי—_That I might break my covenant, &c._

It might be supposed here that the two staves were typical of the two
covenants; the Old and the New. But how is the parallelism then to be
supported? If the breaking of one staff denotes the dissolving of the Old
Covenant; what then is denoted by the breaking of the other staff? for the
New Covenant was not also dissolved. By the proposed solution, the
parallelism is maintained; Christ and Israel so exactly accord, that the
prophecies seem, in many points, alike applicable to either. Both were
instrumental to the great work of redeeming mankind from idolatry, and
both were cut of; Christ from natural life; Israel from the life which is
_in Christ_. To understand clearly the cutting of the staves, the most
intricate subject perhaps in the whole prophecy, the reader has to keep in
view two distinct points of consideration, the confounding of which will
involve him in no little perplexity; these are, first the symbolical
meaning, or the event foreshewn by the act of cutting; and secondly, the
end or purport of the cutting; for along with the act, the prophet also
declares the motive for the act, which must not be confounded with the act
itself, being the effect or consequence that followed that act. Thus he
says—_And I took my staff Beauty and cut it asunder, that I might break my
covenant, which I had made with all the people._

Now the cutting of the first staff, Beauty, signifies or foreshews the
death of Christ, or the cutting off of the Messiah. This is the symbolical
meaning of the act. But the end or consequence of that act, was the
cessation of the covenant of protection to Israel. “The covenant,” as it
may be rendered, “concerning all the people.” From that time, the Jews
ceased to be under the especial care and protection of Heaven; no more
interpositions were manifested in their behalf; no prophet from that time
appeared in Israel; these blessings being confined to the Jews who
received Christ, or transferred to the Gentiles.

Next follows the cutting asunder of the second staff, Bands; and this in
fact appears to be precisely the end or consequence of the cutting of the
first staff; for the cutting of this staff symbolically foreshews the
rejection of Israel, or the cessation of the Covenant of protection. Such
appears to be the event symbolized by cutting the staff, Bands. But the
effect or consequence of that event, or of the rejection of Israel, was as
declared in the prophecy, a breach in the brotherhood, between Judah and
Israel, or between the Jews who received and those who rejected Christ; in
short, between Christian and Jew, who are here supposed to be symbolised
by Judah and Israel. This division or breach was not the event foreshewn
by the cutting of the staff, but the end or consequence of that act; and
this distinction requires to be kept clearly in view.

It seems immaterial whether the symbolical meaning of cutting asunder the
second staff, Bands, be expressed by the rejection of Israel, the breaking
of the covenant of protection, or the abrogation of the law of Moses; for
all these events are so closely connected, or so nearly identical, as
scarcely to admit of their being disjoined or distinguished.

Ver. 12. הבו שכרי—_Give me my price._

From the failure of former commentators, in shewing how this can apply to
the betrayal of Christ, when the word שכרי (or ירכש) is rendered, as it
should be, _wages_ or _reward_, instead of _price_, the Jew seems to have
been so confident of victory on this point, that on referring to his
exposition which follows, it will appear that he must have written it
without having read mine, to which it is any thing but an answer, as I
have expounded the passage precisely upon his own mode of rendering. The
correctness of this translation was acquiesced in by Dr. Blaney, who
admitted the difficulty it involved, and candidly acknowledged his
inability to solve it; nor while Christ is considered the speaker, as he
and Lowth suppose, does the removal of it appear practicable. But when God
himself is understood to be the Shepherd, and Christ, the staff Beauty, it
appears no longer insurmountable.

Ver. 13. :ואקח שלשים הכסף ואשליך אתו בית יהוה אל היוצר

_And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the
house of the Lord._

The word יוצר (or רצוי), is by the Jew changed into אוצר (or רצוא) the
alteration of a letter being all that is required to substitute _the
treasury_, in the room of _the potter_. But he cannot deny, that the word
means potter in the original, and the Christian will find no occasion to
alter it, to make sense of the passage. The objection, that the potter
could not be at work in the temple, which was urged by the Jew, has been
answered in the exposition.

Ver. 17. הוי רעי האליל—_Woe to the idol shepherd._

The _idol_ might be rendered, as Mr. Lowth observes, _worthless_, or of no
value, as it is, Job xiii. 4, and so the Jew renders it. Though a
shepherd, in the singular number, is here spoken of, yet a succession of
such shepherds is clearly to be understood; and it is probable that the
chiefs and rulers of Israel are intended here, as well as the false
Messiahs who have from time to time arisen, and partially misled the
people, being alike false guides, who have contributed to the destruction
of the flock. A history of the false Messiahs, amounting to not less than
twenty, who have at different times made their appearance; with an account
of the numbers and destruction of their infatuated followers, being too
long for insertion here, may be found by the reader in Dr. Jortin’s
Remarks on Eccles. Hist.; presenting a lamentable picture of the blindness
and infatuation of this wretched people.


1. Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

2. Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are
spoiled; howl, ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come

3. There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds, for their glory is
spoiled; a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is

4. Thus saith the Lord my God, Feed the flock of the slaughter.

5. Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty, and they
that sell them, say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich; and their own
shepherds pity them not.

6. For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord;
but, lo! I will deliver the men, every one into his neighbour’s hand, and
into the hand of his king, and they shall smite the land, and out of their
hand I will not deliver them.

7. Yea, I fed the flock of the slaughter, truly an afflicted flock it was,
and I took unto me two staves; the one I called Pleasant, and the other I
called Painful, and I fed the flock.

8. And when I had cut off three shepherds in one month; then my soul
loathed them, and their souls also abhorred me.

9. Then said I, I will not feed you; that that dieth, let it die; and that
that is missed, let it be missed; and let the rest eat every one the flesh
of another.

10. And I took my staff, the Pleasant, and cut it asunder, that I might
break my covenant which I had made (for them) with all the nations.

11. And it was broken in that day, and so the afflicted flock, that waited
upon me, knew that it was the word of the Lord.

12. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my reward; and if not,
forbear; and they weighed for my reward thirty pieces of silver.

13. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it into the treasury, the magnanimous,
the precious, that I have withdrawn from them; and I took the thirty
pieces of silver, and cast them into the house of the Lord, into the

14. Then I cut asunder my other staff, the Painful, to break the
brotherhood between Judah, and Israel.

15. And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee, yet the instruments of a
foolish shepherd.

16. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not
remember those that are missed, nor seek the young, nor heal the broken
one, nor feed that that stands still, but he shall eat the flesh of the
fat, and tear their hoofs asunder.

17. Woe to the worthless shepherds, who leave the flock! the sword shall
be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be quite dried up,
and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.


Verse 1. This prophecy Christians cannot but consider impenetrable, and
must be satisfied to break off a few fragments, which may serve to cement
their religion; for in whatever manner they expound the import of the two
staves, they must still be incompetent to link its various parts together,
so as to shew that it refers to what they think it necessarily must,
namely, the selling of the Messiah; an interpretation which an impartial
examiner must find inconsistent with that passage even if disjoined from
all the rest, since there, wages, or reward (not price) is spoken of; this
being desired, or required of Israel, while with him who was sold it was
quite the reverse; so far was he from wishing to be betrayed, that he
tried and prayed to escape it. The Jew, however, considering the tenour of
the whole, contends that this was no more than what had been already
fulfilled at the time when it was delivered, the allusion here being
historical and not prophetic.

It commences with predicting to other nations (who are compared to fir,
and oak trees,) destruction inevitable, since the shepherds of Judah also
(who are compared to the lions by the Jordan, to the vine and the cedar,)
howl for having been spoiled of their glory. The prophet then goes on, in
calling to the minds of his brethren the causes that brought them so low
from their former exalted station, in order that this may serve them as a
warning no more to deviate from the way in which they were instructed to
walk: he also reminds them with what particular and providential care they
had been continually led on by their God, in one or other of the different
ways stated, the pleasant, or the painful, as by a tender shepherd, whose
sole intent is to lead his flock to rich pastures, and good watering
places. In this manner did God tend his flock, Israel, to accomplish their
happiness, indulging them when obedient to his will, but chastising them,
when otherwise, as an indulgent father would his children, in order to
reclaim them. And when we consider the circumstances and condition of our
fathers during the first temple, we may easily trace out both the times
when they enjoyed uninterrupted peace and comfort, and those, when they
were exposed to troubles and afflictions, which God in his wisdom saw fit
to visit upon them. To these does the prophet refer, representing them by
this beautiful metaphor of the two staves.

Ver. 5. The cruel shepherds denote the tyrants into whose hands Israel was
delivered, who disdained to nourish that poor flock, but sold some to
slavery, and gave up others to be slaughtered.

Ver. 6. And such as escaped the fury of their own kings were ravaged by
their conquerors.

Ver. 7. _I fed the flock._—i. e. Since I have chosen them to me out of

Ver. 8. _When I had cut off three shepherds._—The number three as well as
seven is well known to be made use of in Scripture, instead of an
indefinite number; this apparently refers to what is related in 2 Kings,
ch. x. v. 32, that in those days the Lord began to be weary of Israel; it
was after the kings of Judah and Israel were killed, the family of the one
exterminated, and that of the other nearly so.

Ver. 10. _A covenant made for them with all the nations_; that is, that
these nations should not disturb Israel, nor invade their land, but leave
them to dwell there in safety, as was repeatedly promised to them. Exod.
xxxiv. 24; Lev. xxvi. 5; Deut. xxviii. 10. But when under the divine
displeasure, that covenant was suspended, and not only the land of the ten
tribes, but also that of Judah was frequently invaded, and both were
harassed by their enemies.

Ver. 12. The reward which God required of his people means, that for the
many blessings he had conferred on them, they should be obedient to his
commandments. Yet he left it to their choice, to forbear if disinclined,
agreeably to the message sent to them by Ezek. ch. iii. v. 27; and
accordingly some few remained faithful to him, and these answer to the
thirty pieces of silver. Thirty as well as ten sometimes imply an
indefinite number. See Dan, i. 20; Gen. xxxi. 7. They are named silver
(כסף (or ףסכ)) as this originally meant desirable.

Ver. 13. They are to be cast into the treasury—יוצר (or רצוי), though
translated the potter, stands for אוצר (רצוא), the treasury. And again,
בית יהוה אל היוצר (or רצויה לא הוהי תיב) is the same as אל בית האוצר (or
רצואה תיב לא) (Mal. iii. 10), or the storehouse of the Lord, viz. the
temple. The frequent interchange of the אהרי (or יוחא) letters is well
known to the Hebrew scholar. The temple is here indicated as the place
where the pure ones, separated from the dross, should fix their eyes on
the Most High, and with prayers appease his wrath, that he might yet avert
the approaching calamities. יקרתי (or יתרקי) signifies _I have withdrawn_,
not _I was prized at_. See Proverbs xxv. 17, where it means _withdraw thy

Ver. 14. _Cut asunder the other staff._ While the two kings lived in peace
and harmony, the one was corrupted by the wickedness of the other, and
therefore the chastening rod was applied for the purpose of breaking their
brotherhood; but that staff was dispensed with, when by the dissolution of
one of these kings, the cause for it ceased.

Ver. 16. _I will raise up a shepherd, &c._ Judah has likewise to lament to
this day having been governed by foolish shepherds during both the first
and second temple, who did neither remember the missed, nor heal the
broken, and instead of feeding them that stood still, they fed upon them,
and tore their hoofs asunder. Yet as the survivors stand to this day a
living monument of the literal accomplishment of this prophecy from verse
15, it serves them as a sure pledge of the fulfilment of that which


Of the occurrences which succeeded the crucifixion of Christ, one of the
first in order, as well as importance, was the destruction of Jerusalem;
an event which materially changed the condition of the Jewish nation, both
as regarded their polity and their religion; to the full exercise of which
the existence of their temple was indispensable. It was therefore to be
expected that the prediction of this event would be eagerly sought for by
Christian commentators, in a prophecy relating to the establishment of the
Messiah’s kingdom, especially by those who chiefly look to political
affairs for its fulfilment.

And accordingly this chapter appears to afford distinct intimation of such
an event, as it opens with the express mention of the siege of Jerusalem.
Yet is it mentioned in a way not a little embarrassing to the political
exposition; for, instead of the destruction, the prophecy declares the
triumph of Jerusalem; and, with the exception of one or two ambiguous
expressions at the commencement, this triumph forms the whole subject of
the chapter. But Jerusalem really was taken and destroyed, nor have the
Jews since been able to rebuild either their city or their temple, nor has
any thing approaching to a triumph, in the ordinary acceptation of the
term, occurred to them from that time to the present. How then shall we
explain the victory and triumph foretold in the prophecy?

The solution appears to be this; that the event here foretold is no
political, but a spiritual siege; namely, the warfare of worldly feelings
against true religion, for this is the spiritual Jerusalem. The abrogation
of the law, and the promulgation of the Gospel, are foreshewn under the
types of the Old and the New Jerusalem; which symbolically signify the Old
and New Covenant, or Judaism and Christianity, the one abolished and the
other established, in reality at the coming of Christ, but ostensibly at
the destruction of the city and temple, which is probably on this account
employed symbolically, to represent the spiritual change.

The prophecy, however, does not declare the destruction of the old
Jerusalem, but merely the repeopling of it, in verse 6; and in the
spiritual sense it was not destroyed, though merged in the superior
splendour and greatness of the New City; for Christianity is built on the
foundation of Judaism. The new Jerusalem here spoken of, is then, the new
Covenant, or Christianity, the spiritual City, the building of which began
at this time, whatever may be the period required for its completion.

In the spiritual sense also must be understood the triumph of Judah, which
was the triumph of the Gospel; and her salvation, spoken of in verse 7,
which was eternal salvation. Her victory was the victory over the world,
which every true Christian has to gain, but which was first gained by
Judah, for the first Christians were Jews; although the Gentiles were
subsequently admitted into the Church of Christ, and became the principal
inhabitants of the spiritual Jerusalem, when deserted, for the most part
at least, by its former inhabitants the Jews. The Gentiles from this time
became Israelites by adoption, and the distinction between Jew and Gentile
converts, or lineal and adopted Israelites, is marked in the prophecy, as
might be expected.

But the time of Israel’s spiritual restoration requires some explanation,
being adverted to in this and the following chapter ten times at least,
with the definite expression of “_in that day_:” an expression which seems
as little to accord with the time required for a whole nation or people to
change their faith, as with that which would be requisite for their
literal return from all parts of the world to be reunited in one city, as
the Jews understand the prophecy. A literal day cannot therefore be
understood; nor yet would the difficulty be removed by supposing it to
mean a prophetic day, or a Jewish year of twelve months, being three
hundred and sixty days; for this period would be alike inadequate to the
event in question.

How shall we then understand the expression, “_that day_,” so often
recurring in the prophecy? The answer appears to be simply this, that it
means _one_ day to _each individual_, but not _the same day_ to _all
collectively_. As the earlier Christians did not all embrace Christianity
on one day, so neither have we reason to expect that the later Christians
will do so. History declares to the contrary, that some of the house of
Israel have been continually flowing into the Church of Christ in every
succeeding century, from the Apostolic age to the present time. And as
some understand the Day of Judgment to be to each individual the day of
his death, so to each will the day of his “_Redemption_,” in Scriptural
language, be the day of his receiving Christ. St. Paul in the 2 Corinth.
vi. 2, says “_Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of
Salvation_,” and in the same light must it be viewed in the passages
before us; that is, as one day to each individually, not as the same day
to all collectively.

The opening of this chapter closely resembles that of the 9th, and may
help to throw light on those parts of it which appeared obscure. Both
begin by declaring God’s superintendance and control over human affairs,
and both assert his right to the disposal of events on similar grounds:
there it was alleged, because all creatures belong to him, _for the Lord’s
is the eye of man, and all the tribes of Israel_; and here, because he
created all things.

_The burden of the word of the Lord upon Israel, saith the Lord, which
stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundations of the earth, and
formeth the spirit of man within him._

There, the burden of the prophecy was laid on the Gentiles, but the
admonition meant for the benefit of Israel, to whom it was addressed;
here, the burden is upon Israel, but the admonition expressly intended for
all nations, “_all the people round about_;” and of such was the new
Jerusalem, which is the subject of this chapter, chiefly composed after
the overthrow of their idolatry and their conversion to Christianity. This
appears to be the spiritual warfare here intended, namely, the successful
progress of the Gospel against Paganism.

_Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the nations
round about, and upon Judah it shall be in the siege against Jerusalem._

Upon Judah is the burden of the prophecy chiefly imposed, for to Judah was
first committed the task of promulgating the Gospel. The Apostles, and
also the disciples of our Lord were all Jews, they were the founders of
this city. “_A cup of trembling_,” must not be here understood to signify
an example by punishment inflicted, but as the Jew renders it, “_a cup of
astonishment_,” or confusion to all nations; or, as it is next termed, “_a
burden-stone_,” to crush its enemies; and such has been the Gospel of
Christ, as the prophecy declares.

_In that day, will I make Jerusalem a burden-stone for all people; all
that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the
people of the earth be gathered together against it._

The people, here spiritually signifies their false religion, which was to
be abolished; and Jerusalem is here understood to mean Christianity, or
true religion, which was triumphant. Confusion is then denounced against
its enemies, while Divine protection and support are promised to the house
of Judah, who received Christ.

_In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment,
and his rider with madness, but I will open mine eyes upon the house of
Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness._

The blind rage of the heathen and the infatuated frenzy with which they
strove to extinguish the light of the Gospel, are here clearly foreshewn;
but the spiritual Jerusalem resisted all their efforts. And when the
lineal Israelites abandoned their city, its gates were thrown open to the
Gentiles, who entered and repeopled it, and became thenceforward
“Israelites by adoption.” The new Jerusalem being Christianity, its
inhabitants must mean the Christians; and who were they, after the Jews
rejected Christianity, but the Gentile converts? Accordingly, they are so
styled in the next verse, as contradistinguished from the first Jewish
converts, who are called the governors of Judah, being the founders and
builders of the spiritual city.

_And the governors of Judah shall say in their hearts, The inhabitants of
Jerusalem shall be my strength, in the Lord of hosts their God._

The fitness of the expression, _Inhabitants of Jerusalem_, to symbolize
the Gentile converts, further appears in the fact, that the original
inhabitants of the city, who were never expelled, were Gentiles. _The
governors of Judah_ can signify no other than the apostles and disciples
of our Lord, the first teachers of Christianity, or the founders of the
new City. These, when the Jews were no longer willing to hear them, turned
their attention to the Gentiles, and directed all their efforts to effect
their conversion. As the strength of a city lies in its inhabitants, so
the hope of strengthening theirs, from that time, rested in gaining over
the Gentiles: “_The Governors of Judah say in their hearts, The
inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their
God._” Does not this mean in the Lord of hosts _becoming_ their God? That
is, in his becoming the God of the Gentiles by their conversion to

The extraordinary success of the apostles and disciples, in converting the
Gentiles and repeopling the city, is foreshewn in the next verse.

_In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire
among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf, and they shall devour
all the nations round about on the right hand and on the left, and
Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem._

If the spiritual Jerusalem be Christianity, it was certainly the Gentiles
who repeopled this city, when the Jews deserted it. But still it was not
deserted by all the Jews, for the first Christians were Jews, as
emphatically expressed in the next verse.

_The Lord shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house
of David, and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify
themselves against Judah._

The salvation of Judah here spoken of must be salvation through Christ;
but if Judah signify the first Jewish converts to Christianity, and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem mean those from the gentile nations, who are _the
house of David_, here spoken of, and classed with the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, as receiving their salvation subsequently to that of Judah? The
house of David must surely mean those of the Hebrew nations, who did not
at first receive Christ along with the house of Judah, but subsequently;
or, the prophecy being still prospective, those who shall hereafter
embrace Christianity must be also included. To this the Jew may probably
answer: How can a Christian believe that the house of David, the very
house from which Christ came, still remains unredeemed? I answer, that we
are nowhere assured that all of his own family believed in him; still less
the whole house of David, of which they were only a branch. To the fact,
whether any of that family be still left among the unredeemed of Israel,
let the Jew answer. If not, then where is their expected Messiah to come
from? But if there be such, then have these not yet received the salvation
which is through Christ; and as far as they are concerned, the words of
the prophecy yet remain to be fulfilled, however it may have received its
fulfilment in regard to others. When it shall please God to remove the
veil which is before their eyes, and to restore the spiritual strength
which they have lost, then will the following words be accomplished in
them also, as it was to Judah in the apostolic age.

_In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and he
that is feeble among them, at that day shall be as David, and the house of
David shall be as God, as the Angel of the Lord before them._

The esteem and veneration with which the primitive Christians, and
particularly the apostles, would be regarded for their purity and
holiness, and for their spiritual strength, notwithstanding that they were
designedly chosen from the lowest and most illiterate class of men, is
here emphatically foretold. Their consequent success in preaching the
gospel is next declared; the nations being destroyed, figuratively
signifies their false religion being overthrown.

_And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will seek
to destroy all the nations that come up against Jerusalem._

The next verse, which foretels _the pouring out of the Spirit_, so closely
resembles the prophecy of Joel, of which St. Peter gave the interpretation
on the memorable day of Pentecost; and at the same time, coupled the
application with a reproach to the Jews for having crucified Christ (Acts
ii.), that the Christian can hardly fail to see that they refer to the
same event, though not here restricted to that particular day, as appears
from “_the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem_” being
mentioned; nor was the gift of the Spirit confined to the day of
Pentecost, but continued to all on whom the apostles laid their hands.

_And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look to
me for him whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth
for his only son; and be in bitterness for him as one that is in
bitterness for his firstborn._

The most solemn fast almost universally observed throughout Christendom,
in commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion, is manifestly the event which
was here foretold, at least four centuries before its fulfilment. The
prospect of its receiving a more evident accomplishment at any future
period, seems to be rendered hopeless by the enumeration of the different
families that follows, all such distinctions being now lost among the
present race of Jews.

_And in that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the
mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon;_

_And the land shall mourn every family apart, the family of the house of
David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan
apart, and their wives apart;_

_The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family
of the house of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;_

_All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart._

If any thing more be intended by this emphatical repetition of the
families mourning apart, beyond the strong expression of the depth of
their grief, and the sincerity of their repentance, may it not be to
convince the unbelieving Jews of the hopelessness of a more literal
fulfilment after the loss of their genealogies?


Verse 2. :וגם על יהודה יהיה במצור על ירושלם

_When they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against

Such is the translation in our version, a sense which can in no way be
extorted from the words of the text, as every Hebraist must be well aware.
The Jew, by inserting the relative _who_, as understood after the word
Judah, renders the passage thus,

_And also upon Judah, who shall be in the siege against Jerusalem._

This is certainly no violation of the text, as the relative pronoun is
often understood in Hebrew. But still I hold it to be a rule not to insert
a relative unless the sense requires it, and I see no such necessity here,
as either of the preceding nominatives, namely, _the burden of the
prophecy_, or _the cup of trembling_, may govern the verb _shall be_, and
thus we have, as I have rendered it, _and also upon Judah it shall be, in
the __ siege against Jerusalem_; by which I understand _the burden shall_
be upon Judah also.

Verse 3. :אשים אח ירושלם אבן מעמסה לכל העמים

_I will make Jerusalem a burden stone for all people._

Here the Jew may probably ask, How can Jerusalem, in the spiritual sense,
as signifying true religion, become a burden stone, or a cup of confusion
to the heathen? I answer, in every way. In the first place, by
frustrating, as it did, all their efforts to suppress and extinguish
it;—in the next place, by its opposing and outraging all their worldly
feelings, condemning their pride, and teaching humility, requiring them to
receive their religion from one whom they despised as the most degraded of
human beings, a crucified malefactor;—and, lastly, by stultifying all
their previous notions, enjoining the restraint and control of the
passions, instead of which their religion sanctified their indulgence as
an act of devotion. Thus was Christianity, in every way, a cup of
confusion, and a stumbling-stone to the heathen nations.

But against the spiritual exposition of the Old and New Jerusalem, as
symbolizing the Old and New Covenant, the Jew may, perhaps, further
object, that he was never taught to look for a New Covenant, and that he
finds no intimation of it in the Prophets. This being a question of fact,
rather than of reasoning, we must look to the Scriptures for the answer.

Without enumerating the many intimations of the sacrifices and ceremonies
of the Old Covenant, not being _intrinsically_ acceptable to God, but of
less estimation than the attributes of moral excellence, we find the
following direct declarations of a New Covenant to be established at the
Messiah’s coming, who is symbolically styled, _My servant David_. Thus in
Isa. lv. 3, we find, _Incline thine ear and come unto me; hear and your
soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even
the sure mercies of David._ Ezekiel also says, chap. xxxiv. 24, _And I the
Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the
Lord have spoken it; and I will make with them a covenant of peace_, &c.
And again in chap. xxxvii. 26, he says, _Moreover, I will make a covenant
of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I
will place them and multiply them, and I will set my sanctuary in the
midst of them for evermore._ But Jeremiah still more expressly declares
the superseding of the Old, and the substitution of the New Covenant;
while he describes the latter in terms equivalent to those used by Christ
himself, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Thus Jer. xxxi. 31, _Behold
the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the
house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. Not according to the
Covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by
the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my Covenant they
brake, although I was an husband to them, saith the Lord. But this shall
be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, After those
days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write
it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people._

Here we have clear intimation of a new law superseding the old, the
spiritual nature of the new being contrasted with the ceremonial of the
old, by its being written in the heart; while the stress laid by all upon
its everlasting duration, implies that the one preceding it was only meant
to be temporary.

Verse 5. :ואמרו אלפי יהודה בלבם אמצה לי ישבי ירושלם ביהוה צבאות אלהיהם

_And the Governors of Judah shall say in their hearts, the inhabitants of
Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God._

“This text,” says Dr. Blayney, “has been supposed corrupt, and many
attempts made to amend it. But without any alteration, it well expresses
the sentiments of the men of Judah, concerning the interest they had in
the safety of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, on which their own safety and
security depended in a great degree,” &c. I fully agree with Dr. Blayney
in the literal meaning of the words, which involves no difficulty; but in
looking beyond the literal, to the symbolical and spiritual sense,
considerable difficulty appears. A different solution from that I have
offered at first occurred to me, which is this, that as _Judah_ means the
earliest converts to Christianity, these being evidently contrasted with
_the inhabitants of Jerusalem_, who were subsequently saved, the latter
might mean the yet unconverted Jews. Upon this view, the anxiety of
Christians for the conversion of the Jews, would appear to be the subject
intimated in the verse before us; and as this idea may occur to others as
it did to myself, I think it right to state my reasons for relinquishing
it. One objection to this view is, that in verse 10, the _unconverted
Jews_, if they be the inhabitants of Jerusalem, would here mourn the
crucified Saviour, which would be a complete solecism. Another objection
is, that the abolition of idolatry in the next chapter, instead of being
represented as opening the way for the admission of the Pagans to
Christianity, which it certainly did, would then be represented as opening
the way to the conversion of the Jews, which it certainly did not, but
rather had a contrary effect, as history declares. And, lastly, upon this
view, the corruption of Christianity, leading to the loss of the spiritual
Jerusalem, mentioned at the beginning of chap. xiv., instead of being
ascribed to the Gentile church, would thus appear to be the work of the
Jews, either of those more recently converted to Christianity, or of those
still unconverted, both of which would be alike unreasonable. Such are the
reasons which led me to reject that view, and adopt the one proposed in
the text. With respect to the house of David, as signifying the Jewish
converts who embraced Christianity subsequent to the Apostolic age, those
objections do not apply.

Verse 10. :והביטו אלי את אשר דקרו

_And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced._

Blayney considers the אלי (or ילא), as simply a preposition, not a
compound of אל with the affix pronoun י, the antecedent to אשר (or רשא),
being understood, and renders the passage thus, _They shall look towards
him whom they pierced._

The Jew argues from the change of person, that our version cannot be
right, and he renders it, _They shall look to me concerning him whom they

In whatever way the passage be rendered, no doubt can remain in the mind
of the Christian that Christ, who was pierced, is the person here alluded
to; and this is the only point material to the present exposition. That
the Jew should admit this, is not to be expected.


In the remaining chapters, I shall merely point out those parts in which
the construction of the original is, or may be, different from that of the
English version, as there seems no occasion to notice those passages where
they both agree.

Verse 2. _Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of confusion unto all the
people round about, and also upon Judah, who will be in the siege against

By this it appears that Judah, namely, those who will be without the city,
will likewise be greatly confused at their being compelled by the other
nations to take part in the siege, and fight against their brethren.

Verse 10. _And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and
they shall look unto me __(CONCERNING)__ whom they have pierced, and they
shall mourn for him, &c._

The change of person clearly proves, that it is not he who was pierced, to
whom they will look; but it must be considered as if it were והביטו על אשר
דקרו (or ורקד רשא לע וטיבהו), or אלי על את אשר דקרו (or ורקד רשא תא לע
ילא) particles are well known to be frequently omitted or exchanged. This
may either allude to those who had been formerly slain for their bold
admonitions and warnings; or to those who will hereafter be slain in

They who apply this to the Christian Messiah, have another difficulty to
solve, besides the one above mentioned, and that is, to explain how a
death is to be lamented, which, as they believe, was indispensable to the
salvation of so many myriads of souls. And further, it may be asked, if it
was the especial will of God that this should be so accomplished, how
could the perpetrators of his death avoid it? And, lastly, what cause had
the house of David, comprising the Messiah himself, to supplicate for
mercy on account of his death, in which they, being his own family, had
surely no share?

Ver. 8. ובית דויד לאלהים (or םיהלאל דיוד תיבו) cannot mean, _and the house
of David shall be as God_, but only as a powerful being, _as the Angel of
the Lord before them_. The witch of Endor, who saw אלהים (or םיהלא)
ascending out of the earth, surely did not mean to say that it was God.
And in many other passages we find אלהים (or םיהלא) applied to mortals as
well as to God.


In answer to the difficulties proposed by the Jew, the Christian may say,
that he does not mourn the death of Christ, but the sins that required
such a sacrifice; and as to the free agency of those who crucified him, he
will say, that God’s seeing fit sometimes to employ the wicked in
accomplishing his purposes, does not imply that he first makes them wicked
for the purpose. When was there ever a time, that none could be found in
Israel who were ready to slay the prophets? And as to the difficulty in
the text of verse 10, it is one of the Jews’ own creating, as the
Christian finds none in receiving it as it stands without even the
proposed alteration, an alteration admitted, but not proposed by him. The
only remaining objection, which regards the house of David, has been
anticipated and answered in the interpretation of verse 7.


The progress of the Messiah’s kingdom being regarded as that of
Christianity, the next important step after the abolition of Judaism, was
that of Paganism, which is evidently the subject of the chapter now before
us; but along with this is coupled in the prophetic view another event, no
less important, which arose out of, and accompanied the nominal conversion
of the Gentile nations. This was the corruption of Christianity by the
Pagan converts. For instead of relinquishing their former prejudices and
superstitions, they retained, and brought most of them into the bosom of
the church; and thereby in a short time totally changed the character of
the religion which they professed to embrace.

It is true that this is a point of church history not always very
distinctly stated by ecclesiastical historians; who seem more inclined to
represent the conversion of Constantine, and the events of the fourth
century, as every way favourable to the Christian cause. But the truth is,
that precisely in proportion to the church’s advancement in worldly
prosperity and power, were its spiritual decline and degradation; in so
much that the best historians admit, that from this period are its
degeneracy and corruptions most indubitably to be dated. So different is
the light under which the same event appears, according as it is viewed
with regard to its spiritual or its political import. Which of the two
best accords with the spirit of this prophecy, the reader will be at no
loss to decide, when he sees that no prosperity is here spoken of, but on
the contrary, that the cutting off two-thirds of the inhabitants of the
land, or their spiritual death, is the event which is coupled in the
prophecy with the admission of the Pagans into the church of Christ. And
such was truly the result that followed to the many; namely, the loss of
the true spirit of Christianity.

But if the abolition of Paganism be the subject of this chapter, it may be
asked, how comes the purification of Israel to be announced in the opening
of it? The answer is plain. Adopted Israel may be here understood. To
lineal Israel indeed was the prophecy given; and with Israel, idolatry
was, and ever had been, the besetting sin; most nearly therefore were the
Jews also concerned in its abolition.

Viewed, however, in the more enlarged sense, idolatry comprises the
indulgence of every evil propensity; for Paganism, by appointing a
presiding Deity over each, had sanctioned the unrestrained gratification
of every passion, in making it an act of devotion. Christianity, on the
contrary, enjoins the restraint and control of our passions, and thus
becomes the natural antidote to the poison of Heathenism: or the fountain
of purification from the sin and pollution of idolatry, as the opening of
this chapter declares.

_In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and
to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness._

That day, as formerly explained, is to every one the day of his conversion
to Christianity. The house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
here, as in the last chapter, symbolically represent the later converts to
Christianity; as the house of Judah, which was first saved, signify the
earlier Christians. The nature of the sin and pollution to be thus washed
away, is next declared to be idolatry, and its abolition is foretold.

_And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I
will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall be no
more remembered; and also I will cause the prophets, and the unclean
spirit to pass out of the land._

It may be worthy of remark, that _the names_ only _of the idols_, and not
the spirit of idolatry, is here declared to be cut off; and _from the
land_, which in prophetic language, commonly means the land of Israel,
here, adopted Israel, or Christendom. Now, this nominal abolition took
place in the fourth century, from which time both Jews and Gentiles have
been prohibited from the open worship of idols. But we have now reached
the nineteenth century without seeing the spirit of idolatry really
extinct; if then the total abolition, which is yet to come, be here
intimated, it must be symbolically foreshewn by the nominal abolition
which then took place. _That day_, in regard to the inward and spiritual
purification, is to be taken as the day of his regeneration to each
individual, not as the same day to all collectively; but regarding the
outward and ostensible abolition, this occurred when the pains and
penalties of the Theodosian code prohibited the open practice of Pagan
rites. The prophetic view may, however, include both.

_And it shall come to pass in that day, when any shall get prophesy, that
his father and his mother that begat him shall say, Thou shalt not live,
for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his
mother that begat him, shall thrust him through when he prophesieth._

To prophesy, or foretel future events, was the main purport of Pagan
rites; no undertaking of any moment being entered upon until the priests
and oracles had been previously consulted. This, in a superstitious age,
formed a lucrative profession for the soothsayers and diviners, and was
successfully practised, till the darkness of Heathenism was dispelled by
the light of Christianity, as foretold in the next verse.

_And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be
ashamed, every one of his vision when he prophesieth; neither shall they
wear a rough garment to deceive._

The Pagan, as well as the Jewish prophets, appear to have worn a distinct
dress; but after Paganism was abolished, those who practised its rites in
secret, of course denied and sought to conceal it.

_But he shall say, I am no prophet but a labourer; for a husbandman bought
me from my youth._

Slaves and bondmen frequently received a mark in their hands, to shew the
master to whom they belonged; and persons attached to the Heathen temples
were sometimes marked in a similar manner; the worshippers of Bacchus, for
instance, were distinguished by the mark of an ivy leaf. (See Lowth in
loco.) This explains the following verse.

_And one shall say unto him, What are these marks in thine hands? Then
shall he answer, Those with which I was marked in the house of my

Thus seeking to avoid the suspicion attached to the marks of Paganism,
under the pretext of their being the indication of bondage or servitude.
But this evasion denotes that the abolition of Paganism was ostensible
only, as it was still practised in secret. In reality the advancement of
Christianity to the imperial throne, instead of promoting the sincere
conversion of the Pagans, only served to complete what had already begun,
namely, the corruption of the Christians; whose character and conduct soon
totally changed, after the road to the acquisition of wealth and power was
opened to them. In the contests for the attainment of these, which soon
arose, (witness the Donatist faction,) the majority of Christians in a
short time lost sight of the spirit of their religion; while the rancour
and cruelty with which different sects persecuted each other, sprang from
the same source, or their rivalship in the struggle for worldly power, as
Mosheim declares. Such was the spiritual sword which undermined
Christianity, and destroyed the life which is in Christ; as next foretold.

_Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is next
unto me, saith the Lord of hosts. Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall
be scattered; and I will turn mine hand against the little ones._

The sword is the symbol of strife and discord, warring against and
destroying spiritual life, or the life in Christ; for he is the shepherd
who is smitten by the sword, the person of Christ being here figuratively
put for his doctrine or religion; the corruption of which is thus
foreshewn by the dispersion and slaughter of his flock. The little ones
signify the new converts, who are yet weak in their faith and principles;
and thence more liable to be misled.

_And it shall come to pass that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts
shall be cut off, and die; but the third part shall be left therein._

The history of the fourth century, here prophetically foreshewn, amply
testifies, that only the smaller number of Christians, amidst the general
corruption, resisted the allurements of avarice and ambition, and retained
their purity; these having imbibed the true spirit of Christ’s religion,
as next declared.

_And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as
silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on
my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall
say, The Lord is my God._

It seems scarcely possible to give a more unequivocal intimation of the
spiritual import of the whole, as not alluding to political events, but as
regarding the progress of true religion, than is contained in those
expressions of the last verse, which declare, that the supplications of
the smaller number will be offered up in a manner acceptable to God, who
will hear and answer them. The particular period alluded to, is distinctly
marked by the nominal abolition of idolatry, and the general corruption of
Christianity. The only difficulty, however, if there be any, regards the
chronological order of the events; as the prophecy seems to foretel the
entire abolition of Paganism, which has certainly not yet taken place; but
this difficulty will be in a great measure removed, by supposing the
prophetic view to look forward from the partial to the total, from the
nominal to the real extinction of idolatry.

With respect to the division of the flock into two parts, it must not be
supposed that any distinction of sects is here alluded to, for no one
could, more than another, claim the character of purity and holiness. True
Christianity must be sought for in the heart, and not in the outward form
of worship, or profession of faith.


Verse 5. :כי אדם הקנני מנעורי

_For a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth._

Parkhurst, in his Lexicon, remarks upon this passage, as being _strangely_
translated in our version; while Dr. Blayney agrees with him in the
translation. _For a man bought me, __(OR OBTAINED POSSESSION OF ME,)__
from my youth._ The Jew, while he acquiesces in the sense of הקנני (or
יננקה) signifying _to appropriate_, contends that אדם (or םדא) does not
mean merely _a man_, but a _husbandman_, or labourer, and renders it, _For
a husbandman I was appropriated from my youth._ But neither the sense nor
the grammatical construction thus appearing clear to my apprehension, as
the verb is not in the first, but the third person with the suffix י _me_,
after it; I propose to reconcile both by rendering the passage thus: _For
a husbandman bought or appropriated me from my youth._ But in fact the
difference is immaterial, as the sense, in whatever way expressed, is,
_For I was a farmer’s servant, and a bondsman from my youth._

Verse 6. :ואמר אלין מה המכות האלה בין ידיך

_What are these wounds in thine hands? &c._

Both Lowth and Blayney agree in regarding these words as an allusion to
the custom of the idolatrous priests and prophets, of marking themselves
in the hands. Their being challenged as the marks of Paganism, is a
sufficient proof of their being so, and I have rendered it accordingly,
_marks_ instead of _wounds_. For if, as Blayney states, they were made by
cutting and slashing themselves, still the marks, and not the wounds,
would remain when healed.

Verse 7. :חרב עורי על רעי ועל גבר עמיתי

_Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my
fellow, &c._

In supposing these words to have had no direct reference to the death of
Christ in their original intention, notwithstanding their appearing from
St. John’s Gospel to have been used by him, in forewarning his disciples
of what was about to befal him, I offer no new opinion, for Dr. Blayney
declares himself fully persuaded that they had not; and what gives weight
to this opinion is, that it must have been founded on other grounds than
those which have led me to that conclusion. For as Dr. Blayney had not
embraced the spiritual view in expounding the prophecy, he could not be
led to this inference by the same train of reasoning as myself. The words,
גבר עמיתי (or יתימע רבג) he renders, “The man that is next to me,” which
is certainly much nearer to the sense of the original than, _The man that
is my fellow._

_Two parts shall be cut of, and die._

An awful annunciation! foretelling the spiritual death of two-thirds of
the nominal Christian world. The corresponding passages in the Apocalypse
predict the same event, and one of them in still stronger terms, for it is
said, that “_Every living soul in the sea died._” Literally, this passage
cannot be taken, for literally there are no _living souls_ in the sea. The
sea means the Gentile nations, or Europe. _The life_ is life in Christ.
The loss of that life, or spiritual death is the loss of true
Christianity: here extending over the whole sea, or comprising all the
Gentile converts; and the period of this death is yet scarcely elapsed,
beginning with the dark ages, and continuing to the millenium. What! is
Europe then still, or has it so lately been in a state of spiritual death
or perdition? Such is the language of prophecy, and its meaning cannot be
explained away or evaded. “_Every living soul in the sea dies._” The life
in Christ is extinct. True Christianity no longer remains. Will _none_
then be _saved_? This the prophecy no where says. The Gospel teaches that
many may be saved who never heard of Christ. Are all Mahommedans, and they
execrate the name of Christian, doomed to perish? No Christian will surely
maintain this, and still less that all misguided Christians are doomed to
perdition. But still the life in Christ is lost. True Christianity no
longer prevails. If then, without it, men may be saved, where, it may be
asked, is the use of it? I answer, in every way, and every where it is
useful. Did true Christianity prevail, the myriads might be saved; the few
only would perish. Without it the few only can be saved, the many are left
to perish. By Christianity, all are taught to live for the next world;
without it, the many will live for this; few are those that will think of
another. Christianity not only diffuses peace and happiness on earth, but
fits every man for enjoying eternal happiness hereafter. Such is the
saving virtue of Christ’s religion, in affording to all the _means_ of
attaining to eternal life and eternal happiness. But to return to the age
in which we live, or from which we are just emerging. This period is
peculiarly the age of infidelity—all Europe bears testimony to the fact.
But are they who profess belief, really Christians? Look to conduct, and
not profession for the proof. Is this world, or the next, the object of
pursuit? If conscience whisper, that we who believe, lack the true spirit;
how can we expect it in those who disbelieve? Where then in true

As this chapter, according to the Rabbi’s view, remains unfulfilled, so he
offers no particular exposition of it, but limits his remarks to a few
emendations of the received translation. Of these the only one any way
material to the present discussion is that on verse 5, which has been
already stated in the note on that verse.


The corruption of Christianity, as foretold in the last chapter, is
allowed to have been the means that prepared the way for those events
which are announced at the opening of the present one. The ambition of the
clergy, and the state of ignorance in which they purposely kept their
flocks, had completely succeeded, before the end of the sixth century, in
subjugating the minds of the people, and in establishing the supremacy of
the priesthood in the west of Christendom, while the last of these causes
served to facilitate in the east the success of the Mahomedan imposture,
which, as well as Papacy, was an offspring of the spurious form of
religion then prevailing under the name of Christianity.

These two usurpations under the mask of religion, divided, at the
beginning of the seventh century, what had once been the Christian world,
between them; one occupying the western half of it, and the other the
eastern, according to our mode of expression; but as regards Palestine,
where the Prophet wrote, this division is more accurately represented, as
expressed in the Prophecy, by northern and southern; the northern half
engrossed by the Greek and Latin churches, which being essentially of the
same nature, are here taken as one; while Mahomedism usurped the place of
Christianity in the countries lying for the most part south of Palestine,
as Arabia, Egypt, India, Persia, and others. (See note on this.)

Such are the occurrences foreshewn in the opening of the present chapter;
which _now_ does, if it did not previously, declare the capture and
pillage of the holy city, or the loss of the spiritual Jerusalem, true
religion; this being followed by a portent awfully expressive of the
events which succeeded this loss, namely, the cleaving asunder of Mount
Olivet; (a symbol for nominal Christianity, Mount Zion signifying true
Christianity, Mount Sinai Judaism;) one part of which moves northward, and
the other southward, leaving a deep valley between them for the escape of
those who are not involved in this spiritual captivity or destruction.

After this follows the intimation of a period of spiritual obscurity,
which is declared to be neither day nor night, neither clear day-light,
nor utter darkness; but on the evening of that day, light is said to dawn
again, and living waters once more to flow out of Jerusalem. At length
this is to be succeeded by the restoration of Israel, and the universal
establishment of true religion in the new Jerusalem.

While the loss of true religion is clearly foreshewn in the capture of the
spiritual Jerusalem, with which this chapter commences; and while the rise
of Papacy and Mahomedism is foretold in the cleaving of Mount Olivet; the
Christian will readily perceive, in the day of obscurity that follows, the
dark ages shadowed forth; and in the dawn of light that breaks forth at
the evening time, he will see intimation of the restoration of true
religion at the reformation, when living waters again begin to flow out of

The conclusion of this chapter, and of the Prophecy, declares the final
and complete establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom; that happy period for
which we are taught to pray in the words, “_Thy kingdom come._” Concerning
the nature of this kingdom, the Jew not only differs from the Christian,
but Christians also differ from one another. Before I attempt to decide so
difficult a question, I shall state the prevailing opinions, and what the
prophets have said on the subject.

The Jews expect, at the coming of their Messiah, the establishment of
their political, as well as their spiritual supremacy over all the earth.
The Christians reject all idea of a political kingdom, but differ in their
views of it as a spiritual one. Some understand it to signify the
universal establishment of true Christianity on earth, with the full
enjoyment of all the blessings which it is calculated to afford; others at
this second advent, look for the personal appearance of Christ on earth,
to reign with the saints, who will be raised from the dead, to receive the
reward of virtue in his kingdom; while many regard his kingdom as
signifying a future state of happiness, having no connexion whatever with
the earth we now inhabit, but to be enjoyed in an eternal abode, of which
they have an indefinite idea as existing somewhere above the firmament.

This last, which is perhaps the most popular notion, seems least consonant
to Scripture and prophecy; which distinctly speak of a kingdom _on earth_,
as it is understood by the Jews; though not necessarily, as they suppose,
a political one. As this is the chief point on which I am at issue with my
opponent, I shall presently state the manner in which this city, the New
Jerusalem, is spoken of by Isaiah and St. John. But previously I think it
right to notice a fallacy in what I take to be the ground on which the
popular notion of this kingdom rests; namely, because St. John in the
Revelations gives intimation of a resurrection preceding, or accompanying
its establishment. Now, we have, as I conceive, no just ground for
assuming, in a vision, every other part of which is figurative, that this
part alone is to be understood literally. Why, I should ask, may not this
resurrection, like the rest, be also symbolical, or signify regeneration
to newness of life? which our Saviour expressed by being _born again_;
that is, a total change in our nature and habits, such as was produced in
his apostles and disciples by the gift of the Holy Spirit. But even
admitting the literal resurrection to be here intimated, (and no Christian
can doubt the reality of a resurrection,) yet this would not be at all
incompatible with a future existence on earth, a light in which it is
viewed by many: we shall therefore inquire what the Prophets have said
that may throw light on the nature of this kingdom on earth.

Both Isaiah and St. John, in speaking of the New Jerusalem, use the
two-fold metaphor of a City and a Woman. In Isaiah liv. 11, et seq. this
city is represented as having foundations of sapphire, windows of agate,
and gates of carbuncle; and St. John, Rev. xxi. 16, describes it as built
entirely of precious stones, having twelve gates, each of one solid pearl,
and its streets paved with gold; being, moreover, equal in all its
dimensions, that is, as broad as it is long, and as high as it is wide, to
wit, twelve thousand furlongs, or fifteen hundred miles. This is surely
very unlike a literal city; but this City shortly becomes a Woman, in St.
John, and is styled “The Lamb’s Bride;” while Isaiah, using the same
change of metaphor, says, “For thy Maker is thy husband.”

If we now look to the context in Isaiah, for the purport of this
figurative language, we shall find that he says, chapter liv. 14, “In
righteousness shalt thou be established;” and again, chapter lx. 19, “But
thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise;” and from chap.
lxi. it appears throughout, that this description is intended to portray
_the perfection of righteousness, the beauty of holiness_, and the _riches
of grace_; these being, as declared, the ornaments destined to adorn the
Bride. It is with _a robe of righteousness_, and _a garment of salvation_,
that _she will adorn herself_, as Isaiah expresses it, chap. lxi. 10.;
while St. John abounds in similar expressions; thus in Rev. xix. 9,
speaking of the Bride’s apparel, he says, “For the fine linen is the
righteousness of the saints;” and of the City, which nothing impure is
permitted to enter, he says, chap. xxi. 23-27, “For the glory of God did
lighten it, and the Lamb was the light thereof.” Thus both, under this
highly figurative description, appear to signify no literal city, or
political state, but one which is altogether spiritual; that is, the
utmost possible degree of purity and holiness, which will constitute this
_heaven upon earth_; the New Jerusalem.

This chapter opens with the denunciation of divine wrath about to fall
upon mankind on account of the corrupt state of religion. The expression
used to foretel this, belongs more peculiarly to the day of judgment,
called the _day of the Lord_; but is often employed in prophetically
foreshewing particular judgments on the world, as here:

_Behold the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the
midst of thee._

_For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city
shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of
__ the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people
shall not be cut off from the city._

The loss of the holy city, and the spiritual captivity of half its
inhabitants, which is the bondage of sin, is the particular calamity here
foretold; and this is followed by the punishment of those who were the
authors of this evil, the enemies of true religion, who war against

_Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he
fought in the day of battle._

The nations must signify here, as elsewhere, the Gentiles, or Pagans,
whose spiritual hostility against true religion was shewn, as before
stated, by their corrupting and paganising Christianity; while the
judgment denounced against them consists in God’s permitting the rise of
the two great Antichristian usurpations, Papacy and Mahomedism. One, the
man of sin, spoken of by St. Paul, (1 Tim. iv. 1, and 2 Thess. ii. 3,) a
spiritual tyranny, enslaving the minds of men; and the other, the
abomination of desolation, mentioned by Daniel, chap. viii. verses 10-12,
and, as he expressly foretold, permitted _by __ reason of transgression_,
or as a judgment on the world, its avowed object being the propagation of
religion by the sword. The division of the corrupt form of religion then
prevailing, into these two Antichristian apostacies, is thus foreshewn.

_And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is
before Jerusalem upon the East, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in
the midst thereof toward the East, and toward the West, and there shall be
a great valley, and half of the mountain shall move toward the North, and
half of it toward the South._

A mountain, meaning a place of eminence or power, in spiritual language
signifies religion; _Mount Sinai_, from which the Mosaic law was
delivered, means Judaism, and is contrasted in the Epistle to the Hebrews,
chap. xii. 18-22, with Christianity, which is there called _Mount Zion_,
and _the heavenly Jerusalem_. The Mount of Olives is neither of these, but
here symbolical of nominal Christianity, destined to be split asunder;
leaving, however, a valley between the two parts for the escape of those
not involved in this spiritual destruction; from which may be inferred,
that true Christianity would not become utterly extinct.

_And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains, for the valley of the
mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee like as ye fled in the
days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and the Lord my God shall come, and all the
saints with thee._

The true Christian is thus admonished to fly, or avoid the prevailing
apostacies; while divine favour and protection are promised to those who
shun the general corruption. From the establishment of these two
Antichristian dominations, a long day of spiritual darkness is declared to
follow; which was accomplished in the reign of ignorance and superstition,
during the period expressively denominated _the dark ages_. With God a
thousand years are but as a day.

_And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear
nor dark;_

_But it shall be one day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day nor
night, but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light._

In the return of light at the evening time of that long day of obscurity,
we see intimation of the revival of true religion at the reformation;
which is still more clearly expressed as follows.

_And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from
Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the
hinder sea; in summer and in winter it shall be._

The former and the hinder sea, or as Dr. Blayney proposes to render it,
the Eastern and the Western Sea, may literally signify the Dead Sea and
the Mediterranean; but figuratively the Eastern and Western Gentiles, who
will receive the benefit of the spiritual waters. The expression, in
summer and in winter it shall be, signifies literally, that they shall
neither be dried up by the summer’s heat, nor congealed by the cold of
winter; but figuratively must mean, that the purity of religion shall not
again be corrupted by the heat of fanaticism on the one hand, nor frozen
by the cold of infidelity on the other. The universal prevalence of true
religion is then declared. (See note.)

_And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be
one Lord, and his name one._

The fulfilment of what now remains of the prophecy appears to be still
future, and consequently it does not fall within the limits of our plan to
attempt the particular exposition of each part of it; but sufficient, it
is hoped, will be found in what is already accomplished, to convince the
Christian reader of the general purport of the whole; and to warrant the
statement made at the outset, that these six chapters are not, as former
commentators have supposed them to be, a collection of unconnected
predictions relating to different subjects, but one continued and
uninterrupted prophecy, presenting a view of the progress of our religion,
from its promulgation to its final establishment in purity and perfection.

That the evidence of this will be sufficient to convince the Jew, I am far
from expecting, being well aware of the many objections he has still to
urge against our exposition of prophecy, after those which are here
presented, may have been removed. But it may possibly have some weight
with him, when he finds upon examination, the same view of the subject
offered by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others; which the Christian will
find more circumstantially displayed in the Revelation of St. John. In
fact, my exposition of the Apocalypse, has furnished me with the clue to
guide me through all the prophecies, that relate to the progress of the
Messiah’s kingdom; for I find that each succeeding prophet has helped to
fill up the outline given by his predecessors; while the picture is
finally completed by St. John, the last of them all. But as a portrait is
most easily recognised when the likeness is complete; so the prophecy last
uttered, being most perfect, is most easily interpreted, and naturally
becomes the key to all the others; that is, the last delivered ought to be
the first expounded, which is the order I have pursued.

As I have made no change in the translation of this chapter, few
explanatory notes are required; and the Rabbi’s reply to this, as to the
one preceding, may be comprised in this single objection; that no part has
yet been literally fulfilled, such being the only fulfilment which he
looks for or admits.

The impossibility of a more literal fulfilment has been shewn in many
places, but especially at the beginning of chapter x.; and until the Jew
answers this, I must consider, what to me appears to be the main pillar of
his argument, as fairly overthrown. And the grand question, whether Christ
be the Messiah, resting upon this, namely, whether his kingdom be a
spiritual or a temporal one, must be decided, as regards the present
argument, by shewing whether the prophecies relating to it have regard to
spiritual or temporal affairs.

Many who object to the spiritual view, misconceive what is meant by the
spiritual exposition; and consider it as setting aside altogether the
historical fulfilment of prophecy; whereas the question is simply between
religion and politics, between church and state; in short, whether the
spiritual or temporal history of the world should be looked to, for the
fulfilment of those prophecies which foretel the progress of Christianity,
or the Messiah’s kingdom. By directing their view to temporal affairs, the
ablest expositors have hitherto discovered only an occasional allusion to
Christianity in a few verses of particular chapters, and in others no
allusion to it whatever; whereas, by adhering closely to the spiritual
view, and understanding the prophecy as foretelling the progress of true
religion; the battles and conflicts foretold, representing the opposition
which it has experienced, and the corruptions which it has undergone from
the evil passions and worldly propensities of man; we have been enabled to
shew the historical fulfilment of the whole; not selecting, as others have
done, particular passages, but shewing that every chapter and every verse
relates to the same subject, and this subject, the progress of


Ver. 4. _Half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it
toward the south._

Although this passage is left in the text as it originally stood, yet the
writer acknowledges a manifest inadvertency in supposing the division here
spoken of into northern and southern to have reference to the position of
the prophet, any more than to that of the reader; with neither of which it
has any connection. It has been objected by a judicious friend of the
author, that Mahommedism has prevailed, and still does prevail in
countries lying north of Judea, where the prophet wrote. The objection is
perfectly just, not was it unperceived by the writer, though he did not at
first see how to remove it, simple as is the solution of the difficulty,
and striking as then appears the fulfilment of the prophecy.

The solution is—that this division of the nominal Christian world here
foretold, into two grand apostacies, Anti-christianism and Mahommedism,
which were destined to occupy a position northward and southward, had no
relation to the prophet, but simply to each other—that is, they were to be
north and south of each other.—Now let a line be drawn, such as might be
expected from the fracture of a mountain by an earthquake, extending from
the west of Europe to the east of Asia, over a surface of not less than
180 degrees of longitude, and no where deviating more than 10 degrees of
latitude, and we shall find the Greek and Latin churches occupying the
whole portion lying to the north, while Mahommedism engrosses all to the
south. And we shall find those parts only of Europe cut off which were
pre-ordained to fall under the Moslem yoke, as Spain, Sicily, Corsica, and
Sardinia, Calabria, Greece, and Turkey in Europe; while Russia forms the
boundary line from all the Mahommedan nations lying to the south of it.
This line will be comprised between 40 and 50 deg. of nor. lat. Thus
singularly have the words of the prophecy been accomplished. And thus
strikingly is the will of Heaven, in the pre-ordination and disposal of
human events, made manifest to the mind of man.

Ver. 8. _In summer and in winter it shall be._

Can such a state of the world, it may be asked, which shall be exempt from
fanaticism on the one hand, and from infidelity on the other, be brought
about without some miraculous interposition to alter the nature and
constitution of the human mind? And does it comport with the usual
ordinances of Providence, who seems to effect his purposes by natural
means, to deviate in this instance, from the ordinary course of nature? It
certainly does not appear so; and it would, no doubt, be more
satisfactory, and be more likely to obtain belief, if natural means could
be pointed out, adequate to produce this marvellous change in the state of
the world, without calling for the necessity of miraculous interposition.
Let us see then—the most fertile source of infidelity will be found in the
mysteries and dogmata invented by priestcraft, which reason revolts at and
rejects. Are, these then, essential to true Christianity? is the question.
If not—and Christ ever appealed to the reason of his hearers, advancing
nothing that reason could gainsay—then true Christianity requires only to
be taught, and Infidelity will have no ground left to stand upon. With
regard to fanaticism, there can be no doubt that false ideas of religion
engender this extreme; ignorance, encouraging the hopes of a sensual
paradise on the one hand; and fear, inspiring the dread of eternal
torments on the other, as in the Mahommedan and Romish churches, have been
most fruitful in producing this extravagance. With just ideas of religion
and the Divine beneficence, such feelings are incompatible. A religion of
love, and such is Christianity when justly appreciated, can never lead to
fanaticism. We may love God with all our heart, with all our mind, with
all our soul, and with all our strength, and it can never disturb our
reason, or lead to any but the happiest and most rational frame of mind.

Thus, the dissemination of true Christianity, the just appreciation of its
precepts and their faithful practice, appears to furnish a remedy adequate
to the removal of both these evils, without requiring the aid of any
miraculous interposition to effect this purpose.


As the view of Christ’s kingdom, taken in the preceding exposition, is
that which regards it as not only that state or condition of man, which is
most calculated to prepare him for, and enable him to attain eternal
happiness hereafter; but also as that which is adapted to produce the
highest possible degree of felicity here on earth, it will be proper to
consider a few of the arguments that may be brought for and against this
view of the Millenium, and to state the view itself more distinctly.

The happy state which the world may attain to, under the universal
prevalence of true religion, it is more easy to imagine, than to describe;
for a volume would hardly suffice to enumerate all the blessings it is
calculated to afford. The cessation of foreign war, with all the miseries
attending it; the end of all tyranny and oppression at home; of injustice
and misrule, are the most distinctly announced, and their benefit perhaps
the most obvious. But their influence on society is limited in comparison
with the wide diffusion of happiness that would ensue from the improvement
in private life, and the amelioration of individual character. Were the
vices prevalent in each class of society banished from the world; ambition
and ostentation from the higher, inordinate love of gain from the middle
and commercial, idleness and improvidence from the lower class, such a
change would ensue, that the golden age of the poets would be revived.
Fortunes would no longer be squandered, and families be ruined by
extravagance and dissipation; gambling speculation, extortion and
chicanery would be unknown in trade; poverty and dishonesty would be
banished from the working classes. Thus, litigation and crime ceasing, the
civil and criminal code would become a dead letter, and every man would
enjoy in security the fruits of his industry; while the peace and harmony
of families would be insured by the increased prevalence of kindness and
brotherly love, forbearance and self-control, charity and benevolence,
with other domestic virtues.

Among the blessings promised in this state, is increased length of life;
nor is this at all difficult to conceive or account for. The tormenting
passions of ambition and avarice subsiding; the mind being no longer
tortured by the cravings they occasion, nor the spirit broken by the
disappointments that attend them; the constitution being no longer worn
out by the toils and cares they give rise to, the larger portion of
diseases incidental to man, (and more proceed from the mind than the body)
would be prevented.

But those arising from bodily causes, would likewise for the most part
vanish, from a proper restraint on the indulgence of the passions and

Nor is diminution of disease the only cause that would lengthen life. The
healing art being more zealously studied, and more conscientiously
practised, with more regard for the welfare of the patient, and less for
the emolument; it is not unreasonable to suppose that great improvement
would take place in every branch of it. And thus another source would be
opened for producing increased length of days.

But with the moral and physical blessings, let not the spiritual pass
unnoticed. Eternal life is the reward promised to those who strive to
obtain it, and render themselves worthy of it. Surely then the universal
prevalence of peace, charity and good-will among mankind is more likely to
produce a fitness for this state, than the present order of things. Thus
our eternal and our temporal interests would be alike promoted by it.

The prophetic language, supposed to foretel this state being metaphorical
its meaning may be questioned; and it may be objected, that reason and
experience are alike adverse to the supposition that the world will ever
be materially different from what it has been. Would not this argument, if
urged two thousand years ago, have been then deemed conclusive against the
possibility of events, having previously no parallel in the history of
man, which nevertheless did afterwards take place. That any considerable
body of men should be found, who should prove themselves above the
allurements of the world; despising wealth and honours; disregarding every
thing before held most estimable by mankind; and braving ignominy,
tortures and death:—would not the argument, that such things had never
been, have been deemed conclusive against the supposition that they ever
would be? And yet all this did occur in the apostolic age. If the past
then afford any presage for the future, it is not against, but in favour
of the conclusion, that what has been, may be again.

Perhaps it may be objected, that the purity and heroic virtue of the
apostolic age were transient, and can never be permanent; they were
partial, but can never be general. This mode of reasoning is perhaps less
philosophical than it may at first appear. What has obtained amongst one
race of men, may obtain amongst others. What has continued for one
generation, may continue for more. The life of man is no transient period,
but to each individual the longest period possible. A whole race is not a
partial, but as regards them, a general prevalence. And if there be any
truth in history, the principles and practices of the early Christians
pervaded their whole race, and lasted during their whole lives.

True Christianity has however vanished, it may be said; and what should
revive it? The evil passions of man have prevailed against it; and why
should they not again? I answer; the same causes that produced it, may
revive it; and the permanency of those causes, may render it permanent.
Conviction was the cause that produced it; that inward, heartfelt, active
conviction, which never leaves the mind for a moment, and admits no shadow
of doubt; not that inert, listless, passive form of belief, which assents,
it knows not why; and believes, it knows not what.

I have heard a distinguished churchman affirm his persuasion, that the
most prevalent evil in the church is infidelity. I would fain disbelieve
it. It surely is not that bold and open infidelity which denies revealed
religion. If it prevail at all, it must be that secret wavering propensity
to doubt, apt to arise in minds not fully satisfied of the truth, and
which feel regret that its evidence is not more conclusive. This may be,
and is much to be regretted. For such belief can never produce effective
influence on the life and conduct; nor awaken that impassioned eloquence
in the preacher, which animated the first teachers of Christianity, and
carried conviction to the hearts of their hearers. Whence arises this
state of mind? Are the proofs of Christianity then inconclusive? Far
otherwise. Though its prophetic proofs are clothed in metaphor, and
require study to understand them; though its history is by no means free
from contradictions; though time may have obscured some passages, and
interpolation thrown a doubt upon others; yet is there left sufficient;
amply sufficient to satisfy the mind of any who think the subject worthy
of serious examination.

But here is the misfortune. Most men think otherwise. The laity are too
often content to take their religion on trust; and the clergy for the most
part want leisure for studies that demand so much time and attention;
while their following hitherto in a beaten track, and paying undue
deference to the authority of the Masoretic punctuation, have encumbered
them with difficulties almost insurmountable. Hence it is, that as far as
regards the prophetic evidence of our religion—the elucidation of that
miraculous testimony to its truth, the force of which is ever
progressively increasing and which alone can place us on an equal ground
of belief with the first Christians,—the world has remained nearly
stationary above a thousand years. Of learning there has been no want; of
talent abundance; of reading no end; but beyond verbal criticisms, the
settling of doubtful words and passages, for the improvement of the text,
little has been done. The general scope, as well as the particular
interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies, the ultimate evidence of
Christianity, has received little elucidation since the days of the

Here is one fruitful source of conviction yet unopened. When fully opened,
from more perfect conviction will flow more zeal in the teaching, and more
influence on the minds of the hearers.

If it be doubted whether the most perfect religious instruction that can
be given, or the fullest conviction of an endless futurity of happiness or
misery when impressed on the mind, can suffice to control the passions and
propensities of man; let the effect of training on the brute creation be
considered. It will not surely be contended, that man has less power of
controlling his propensities, or is less capable of culture than they. If
then we find that creatures the most opposite in disposition, and supposed
to be natural enemies, may be trained to live together peaceably and
amicably; what may not be expected from man, having moreover the aid of
reason to guide and assist him?

Let adequate motives for controlling his passions be furnished; let true
Christian principles be early inculcated; let religion be more practical
and less doctrinal; let precept be enforced by example, and there is
nothing foretold in this new order of things that may not be accomplished;
nothing promised in it that may not be reasonably expected.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Amicable Controversy with a Jewish Rabbi, on The Messiah's Coming" ***

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