Alexander McCaul on Prophecy
Alexander McCaul D.D. (1799–1863) was Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis at King’s College, London, and Prebendary of St. Paul’s. He was the author of an essay on prophecy, published as Essay III in: AIDS TO FAITH; edited by William Thomson. [JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, LONDON. 1870. pp. 81-132.]
Hebrew and Greek text is replaced by “***”. Place markers for footnotes are indicated by “[ ]”.
CONTENTS OF ESSAY III.
2. The Divine Mission of the Prophets — Definition of the term “Prophet.”
3. Definition of the title “Seer.”
4. Definition of the designation “Man of God.”
5. Definition of the phrase “Man of the Spirit.’
6. Scripture contrast of the false prophet.
7. The Power to peediot the Future — Popular belief of the Hebrews.
8. Claims of the Prophets themselves.
9. Justification of their claims by the fulfilment of their predictions: Examples from Nahum— Hosea —Amos— Micah— Isaiah.
10. Groundlessness of recent insinuations shown by the fulfilment of a remarkable prediction — Untrustworthiness of Rationalist criticism.
11. Predictions of Moses concerning the destinies of Israel not disputed or explained by Rationalists or Essayists.
12. Messianic Prophecy — The real question at issue: Whether the New Testament or German critics are to be our guides in interpreting prophecy?
13. Variety and diversity of opinions in the German Rationalist School unbounded.
14. Doctrine of our Lord and the Apostles.
15. In citing or applying passages of the prophecies, attention must be paid to the mind and intention of the speaker or writer.
16. Our Lord, and, after Him, the Apostles, lay down the principle that past history may represent that which is to happen hereafter
17. Prophecies which our Lord and the Apostles inteipret as specially spoken in reference to Christ and Christianity — Belief of orthodox writers and Rationalist divines that Christ claimed to be the Messiah foretold by the Prophets.
18. Genuineness of the Book of Daniel.
19. Genuineness of Isaiah xl.-xlvi.
20. Interpretation of Isaiah liii.
ESSAY III. PROPHECY.
1. Hebrew prophecy, like the Hebrew people, stands without parallel in the history of the world. Other nations have had their oracles, diviners, augurs, soothsayers, necromancers. The Hebrews alone have possessed prophets, and a prophetic literature. It is useless, therefore, to go to the manticism of the heathen to get light as to the nature of Hebrew prophecy. [Vitringa, Typus doctr. prophet., in ‘Observationes Sacrae,’ lib. vii. p. 4; Carpzov, ‘Introd. ad Libr. Bibl. V. T.,’ Part iii., p. 7; Knobel, ‘Prophetismus der Hebraer,’ i. 21; C. I. Nitsch, ‘System der Christlichen Lehre,’ p. 88; Tholuck, ‘Die Propheten und ihre Weissagungen,’ p. 1, 73.] To follow the Rabbis of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is just as vain. The only reliable sources of information on the subject are the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. They contain documents written when the voice of prophecy still was heard, and it would be strange indeed to interpret coeval testimonies by theories devised by heathenized Rabbis, [Maimonides and his school, whom Smith and others follow, departed from the ancient tradition, and endeavoured to remodel Judaism according to the Greek philosophy, with which they became acquainted through Arab translations. Maimonides himself is remarkable for his determined effort to eliminate the supernatural from the Old Testament, and may in truth be regarded as the father of Rationalist Theology.] nearly two thousand years after Hebrew prophecy had ceased. Even a novice in the study of the Bible perceives the falsehood of the Rabbinic assertions, that the prophetic gift dwells only in a man who is learned, powerful, and rich; and that no man can attain to it except by study, combined with a certain requisite mental conformation. [‘Doctor Perplexorum,’ p. ii. c 3. Buxtorf’s Translation, p. 284; Hilchoth Yesode Hattorah,’ c. vii. Salvador, ‘ Institutions de Moise,” 192-197.] The attempt to explain prophetic inspiration by the phenomena of animal magnetism, seems to be still farther removed from sobriety of judgment, and Christian reverence. [“The word which we, after the LXX., translate Prophets, means in the Hebrew, Inspired. Their original designation was Seers, men who saw. Clairvoyance (the so-called magnetic sight) and prophesying in the ecstatic state were of remote antiquity amongst the Jews and their neighbours; and Joseph, a man of a waking spirit, who, as a growing youth, possessed a natural gift of second sight, was able as man to see visions in his cup, just as the Arab boy in Cairo still sees them in his bowl.” — Baron Bunsen, Gott in der Geschicte, p. 141.] From the Old Testament alone, illustrated by the New, is it possible to learn the nature of prophecy and the prophetic office. To interpret the prophetic writings with accuracy, a familiar acquaintance with the original language is necessary. But a correct idea of the prophet’s work and office, and of the nature of prophecy in general, may be obtained from any ordinary translation of the Old Testament by any intelligent reader; the student of the English Bible may not be able to explain the meaning of a rare Hebrew word, or an obscure and doubtful passage, nor to perceive beauties and peculiarities, observable only in the original. He must also occasionally miss the force of particular expressions, and sometimes put up with an incorrect rendering. But he can, without any Hebrew, understand the character and history of Moses or Elijah, and know that Elijah foretold a drought, or Elisha sudden plenty: that Micaiah was a true prophet, and the son of Chenaanah an impostor, just as easily and correctly as Gesenius, or Ewald, or Bunsen.
For this no modern criticism is necessary, and in such matters no reader of the Authorized Version ought to allow himself to be mystified or silenced by an appeal to foreign critics, much less to be disturbed in his faith, as if he could not apprehend the general teaching of the Bible without profound knowledge of the Semitic dialects, and the latest results of German criticism. All these things are good in their place, but the great and essential outlines of Divine truth, whether in reference to Deity, or piety, or morality, or prophecy, are perceptible without them; and it would be just as reasonable to assert that without these things we cannot understand the Ten Commandments, as to tell the reader of the Bible in the vernacular, that he cannot grasp the scope of prophecy, or know whether it has been fulfilled, until he has spent years in the study of Hebrew and of modem commentators. The essential features of prophetic truth are too boldly drawn to be hidden by the veil of translation, and have been as plain and visible in all ages to the Greek, the Syrian, and the Arab, as to the polyglot critic of the nineteenth century. A knowledge of the Hebrew text, indeed, enables its possessor at once to reject such cavils as those lately revived, [ ] that the Hebrew words in Ps. ii. 12. for “Kiss the Son,” ought to be translated “Worship purely,” or that the Hebrew word for “pierce,” in Ps. xxii. 17. ought to be rendered “Like a lion,” or that in Isaiah ix. 6. (Heb. 5,), the words “Mighty God” ought to be “A strong and mighty one.” But the English reader still sees from the context, in spite of these alterations, that the 2nd Psalm speaks of a universal King, greater than David, that the 22nd Psalm portrays one persecuted to death by man, delivered by God, after whose deliverance “All the ends of the earth remember themselves and turn unto the Lord,” and that in Isaiah ix., the prophet speaks of a marvellous child, who is also “The Everlasting Father, of the increase of whose government there shall be no end, to order and establish his kingdom for ever;” words amply sufficient to teach the reader that Isaiah spake of no mere man. [ ] The Hebrew student is astonished, in the present state of Biblical learning, to see such objections resuscitated. He knows that the translation “Worship purely” was invented by Rabbinic controversialists; that the version “Kiss the Son” is defended even by such an opponent of Christianity as Aben Ezra amongst the Rabbis, and by De Wette amongst the Rationalists; and adopted by Moses Mendelssohn, First, and his fellow translators, who have “Huldigt dem Sohne:” and that the ancient Jews interpreted this Psalm of the Messiah [ ] — that the rendering “Mighty God” is adopted and defended by Hitzig and Knobel. [ ] But, without depreciating the value of Hebrew learning and criticism, it may be safely asserted, that the nature and teaching of prophecy may be collected from any tolerable version: and, therefore, the Apostles, guided from above, did not perplex the Gentiles by discussing the differences between the LXX and the Hebrew Text, but wisely used, and sanctioned the use of that Greek Version, which they found providentially prepared, already partially known amongst the heathen, and at that time regarded with reverence by the Jews. They understood how Divine Truth may be apprehended by the unlearned in a translation, and hidden from the wise and prudent with all their knowledge of the original. [ ] With regard to Hebrew prophecy, there are three things equally perceptible in the original and in the versions, and at present specially requiring attention. These are: — the supernatural mission of the Prophets, their power to predict future events, and their announcements of a coming Saviour.
2. A prophet is a man specially called and sent, by God to communicate a Divine revelation. [ ] This is apparent in the first place from the names given to those Divine messengers. They are called Prophets, seers, men of God, men of the Spirit. The Hebrew word for prophet (Nabi) is, according to its etymology, supposed by some to signify “an inspired person;” by others, with more probability, “An utterer or announcer.” [ ] Its meaning, and that of the English word prophet, as used in the Old Testament, are fully explained by a comparison of two passages in the book of Exodus: the first vii. 1, “See I have made thee a God to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” The second, iv. 16, “And he shall speak for thee (A. V. be thy spokesman), and thou, thou shalt be to him for a God.” What is prophet in the first is mouth in the second. Moses was to be as God to Aaron, Aaron as prophet or mouth or spokesman to Moses; Moses to communicate to Aaron, and Aaron to declare the message to Pharaoh and the people. According to this, prophet means a declarer or interpreter of the Divine will. He is one who does not speak of himself (***), the workings of his own mind, but declares the mind and will of God, and speaks what he receives from without. [Heidegger says, “*** proprie est omnis verboruni alienorum, ex alieno, non proprio nutu et voluutate pronunciator, orator, qui, ut R. D. Kimchi loquitur, Echo ad instar, nihil profert aut profatur, nisi quod prius accepit.” ‘Exerc. Bibl.’ viii. § 27. Augustine, “Nihil aliud esse Prophetam Dei, nisi enunciatorem verborum Dei homini Dus.” Carpzov, ibid., p. 8. Comp. Spinoza, ‘Tractat.Theolog.Polit.’c. l. who is, with regard to prophecy, more candid than the Essayiste.]
3. The title “Seer” [For this there are two Hebrew words used, but which are equivalent in sense. They are both found in Isai. XXX. 10, “which say to the Seers ***) see not, and to the prophets (lit. Seers, ***) prophesy not (see not) unto us.”] refers rather to the mode of receiving the Divine communication than to its utterance to others. It is derived from Numb. xii. 6, “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known to him in a vision (sight, ***).” The Seer is therefore one who receives a Divine communication in a vision. His vision is not the offspring of his own mind, but the Lord makes himself known (***) to the prophet. It is something received from without. “Her prophets also find no vision from the Lord (***)” (Lam. ii. 9). But the word “vision ” does not necessarily imply ecstasy or symbolic representation. It is often equivalent to “The word of the Lord,” as, in 1 Sam. iii. 1, “The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision (***).” Samuel was a Seer, but “the Lord revealed himself to Samuel by the word of the Lord” (1 Sam. iii. 21). So the first chapter of Isaiah, which is destitute of all symbolic imagery, is called “The vision (***) of Isaiah;” whilst the second chapter has as its title, “The word that Isaiah, the son of Amos, saw (***).” [ ]
4. The designation, “man of God,” also implies intimacy, communion with God, or commission from Him, as the similar phrases, “men of David,” “men of Hezekiah,” meant those who were in attendance on those monarchs, whom they employed; and, in this sense, the prophets are called “the servants of Jehovah,” and “the messengers of God” (2 Chron. xxxvi. 16).
5. The phrase “man of the Spirit, ***,” (Hos. ix. 7) explains the agency by which the communication came, namely, by the Spirit of God; as St. Peter says, “Prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake, being borne away (***) by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. i. 21). The Old Testament also makes this impetus of the Spirit the essence of prophecy. In Numb. xi. is related the appointment of the seventy elders to assist Moses. The Lord says, “I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them;” and, accordingly, in the 25th verse, it is said, “The Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and gave it to the seventy elders; and it came to pass that when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied and did not cease.” In like manner, with regard to Eldad and Bledad, “The Spirit (***) rested upon them . . . and they prophesied in the camp.” That which caused these two men, as well as the seventy elders, to prophesy, was the resting of the Spirit upon them, and, therefore, Moses makes this resting of the Spirit equivalent to the gift of prophecy. “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them.” [ ] From this passage alone we learn, 1st, That it is the resting of the Spirit of the Lord upon a man that makes that man a prophet. It was not the spirit of Moses, but the Spirit that was upon Moses, that was given to the seventy elders, that which Moses himself calls “the Spirit of the Lord.” We learn, in the next place, that it is the Lord who gives the Spirit. Moses was not able to confer it, and it was given altogether independently of Moses to the two men, not present at the tabernacle. The persons upon whom it was conferred, did not choose themselves, and did not take the gift by their own will. Similar instruction is derived from the history of Saul. Samuel (1 Sam. x. 6) said to him, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them …. and when they came thither to the hill, behold a company of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.” It does not appear that he had any previous qualifications, or preparations, or training, as required by Maimonides; nor yet his servants (1 Sam. xix. 20), of whom it is said, “The Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.” And so, when he came himself on that occasion, certainly in no pious frame of mind, the Spirit came on him also, and he, like his messengers, prophesied involuntarily. They were ***, borne away by the Holy Ghost, just as the wicked Balaam prophesied when “the Spirit of God came upon him,” and Caiaphas unwittingly uttered a Divine oracle concerning the vicarious death of the Lord, “And this spake he not of himself, *** ***, but being High Priest that year, he prophesied” (John xi. 51). [ ]
6. This view is confirmed by the Scripture contrast of the false prophet. He is described as one who is not sent by the Lord, and who has not the Spirit of God, but speaks out of his own heart his own imaginations. “They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord — I sent them not, nor commanded them.” [ ] “They prophesy out of their own hearts — they follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing. They have seen vanity (***) and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith; and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm (fulfil, ***) the word.” [ ] And therefore, even the Great Prophet of the Church dwells frequently upon the fact that He is sent, and that His doctrine is not His own. ” My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be from God, ***, or whether I speak of myself, ***. He that speaketh of himself, ***, seeketh his own glory.” [ ] As, therefore, a true prophet is one who is sent by God, who runs not of himself, upon whom the Spirit of God rests, who speaks the word of God and not his own; and as there were pretenders, whom God did not send, whose words were not inspired by His Spirit, a test, whereby one could be distinguished from the other, was necessary both for the satisfaction of the prophet himself, and for the protection of the people from imposture. To have been trained in the schools of the prophets (for a time there were such schools [ ]) was not enough to constitute a man a prophet. The prophetic commission could not be given by the schoolmaster, nor could the doctrines of men, or their instruction, communicate a Divine message, so as to make the speaker’s word the word of the Lord. Neither Deborah nor Huldah had thus received the prophetic call. Indeed it does not appear that any of the great prophets had been trained in those schools. Nothing less than an outward, clear, unmistakable call of God could satisfy the mind and conscience of the prophet himself. Neither inward persuasion, nor dream, nor ecstasy, was in itself sufficient. Moses was awake and in full possession of all his faculties when he saw a bush burning but not consumed, and heard the voice of the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Samuel thought that Eli called, and went twice to the aged priest, before he knew that it was the Lord’s voice; and was, therefore, fully roused from slumber before he received the Divine message. Isaiah’s eyes were opened to see the Lord on his throne, and his ears to hear the words “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Jeremiah objected his youth, and did not accept the commission until the Lord put forth his hand and touched his mouth. Ezekiel felt that “the hand of the Lord was upon him.” Amos was a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit, and the Lord took him “as he followed the flock,” and said, “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” There was a supernatural call. A specific message also was delivered, and therefore the prophet was able to say, “Hear ye the word of the Lord,” “Thus saith the Lord.” Even after this external and supernatural call, every time the prophet uttered a new oracle, it was the result of a new communication, and a special command. He was still unable to prophesy at will. He might inquire of the Lord and ask counsel, as Moses did in the case of the Sabbath-breaker, or of Zelophehad’s daughters, but had no permanent habilitation to declare the will of God. Without this supernatural call, and without this specific message, no one can, according to Scripture idiom, without great confusion of mind, or wilful and dishonest abuse of language, be said to possess anything like prophetic inspiration. The Apostles of the New Testament, called directly by the Lord Jesus Christ, moved by His Holy Spirit, and entrusted with a specific message, were and may be called prophets in the true sense of the word, for they were able to affirm that the Gospel proclaimed of them was “not of man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ;” and they communicated it “not in words, which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” But to speak of Poets ancient or modern, or Philosophers, or Lawgivers, as being inspired, like Moses or Isaiah, is simply to confound things Divine and human, and to manifest great mistiness of apprehension, or daring profanity of spirit. It is just as contrary to Scriptural statement, [ ] and as revolting to Christian reverence, as to identify the prophetic character and calling with that of the demagogues of Greece. [ ] Poets and Philosophers exercise the high natural gifts bestowed by God, according to the movings of their will or the impulse of their genius; apply, and sometimes abuse them, according to the state of their hearts; but do not pretend to any external call from God, nor claim for their words the reverence due to the word of uhe Almighty. The Hebrew prophets announced themselves as God’s messengers, claimed obedience and reverence for their message as the word of God, and therefore carried with them credentials for the satisfaction of the people. These credentials Avere, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, miracle and prediction. [ ] To accredit Moses as His messenger to the children of Israel, He empowered him to make three superhimian manifestations of power, saying “If they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.” And therefore the prophet like unto Moses, also appealed to His works as greater testimony than that of John the Baptist, [ ] and says, “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin, but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” The Law of Moses also provided another criterion of a true or false prophet, in the fulfilment or non-fulfilment of his word, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken.” (Deut, xviii, 22.) To this Jeremiah alludes when he says, “The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him” (Jer. xxviii. 9).
7. To declare the will of God, and deliver His message, whether it regarded the past, the present, or the future, was the prophet’s great duty. And therefore, when the Jewish lawgiver was communicating moral or ceremonial precepts, received from God, and when the Messiah, in his Sermon on the Mount, was explaining the spirituality of the Law, they were, in the strict sense of the word, prophesying just as much as when Moses predicted the destinies of Israel, and the Lord foretold the destruction and treading down of Jerusalem. To have received a call and message direct from God, and to deliver it, constituted the essence of prophetism. But if we are to form our idea from the Scriptures, we must admit that the Hebrew people believed that the prophets were endowed with, or could attain to, superhuman knowledge, for the benefit and advantage of God’s people. This belief was rooted in their conception of the Divine character. Whether we take the Hebrew Scriptures as inspired or not, it is an incontrovertible fact that the fundamental idea of the Hebrew religion is that Jehovah is a God who reveals Himself to His creatures; that He has not left the human race to grope their way to the regions of religion or morality as they best can, but that from the beginning He has taken His children by the hand, cared for their welfare, made known to them His will, and marked out for them the way to happiness. This idea runs through all the books of the Old Testament, — Law, History, Psalms, Prophecy, — and is taken up in the New Testament, where is the fullest revelation of the love of our Heavenly Father to man. But the Hebrew believed not only in God as one who reveals Himself for the benefit of the race, but as the loving and watchful Father, who superintended all the everyday concerns of each individual, and who, though He dwelt in the high and holy place, yet had regard to the lowly, and considered nothing too small or insignificant for His care. This is evident in the prayer of Abraham’s servant to be guided to Rebekah, in the increase of Jacob’s cattle, in Leah’s fruitfulness, in the answer to Hannah’s prayer, not to mention many similar and well-known traits in the lives of God’s ancient saints. As, therefore, the Hebrew people, high and low, regarded the prophet as a messenger from God, enlightened and instructed by the Holy Spirit, they ascribed to him a supernatural knowledge and the power to give information not attainable by human reasoning or sagacity — in fact the same power possessed by the High Priest of procuring from God a miraculous response by means of the Urim and Thummim: and as they believed in God as their Father, they trusted that He was interested in all their troubles and anxieties, and would not consider their temporal concerns too insignificant for His gracious consideration. Hence it is recorded that Rebekah went to inquire of the Lord respecting the subject of her anxiety. David inquired of the Lord, by means of the ephod, whether he should smite the Philistines and save Keilah; and again, whether the men of Keilah would deliver him into the hands of Saul; and received answers from the Lord. So Saul’s servant thought they might go to Samuel and inquire concerning the lost asses. In like manner King Jehoshaphat wished to inquire of the Lord, by means of a prophet, before he ventured into the battle against the Assyrians. And again, when he and Jehoram were in difficulties from want of water, he asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of the Lord by him?” Even ungodly men like Zedekiah (Jer. xxi. 2, and xxxvii. 17), and the elders of Israel (Ezek. xiv. 1 — 7), or heathens like King Benhadad (2 Kings, viii. 7, 8, &c.), believed in this power, and were glad, when occasion required, to avail themselves of it. And there is not only no intimation that they erred in making such inquiries, but Joshua and the men of Israel are represented as having done wrong because they made peace with the Gibeonites, and “asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord” (Josh. ix. 14). And when Ahaziah sent to Ekron to inquire of Baal-zebub, “the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the King of Samaria, and say unto them. Is it not because there is not a God in Israel that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?” Indeed, some Christian commentators of great name, as well as some of the Rabbis, think that in the Law God has made special provision for this sort of inquiry when He forbids Israel to be diviners or consulters with familiar spirits, and promises them a prophet like Moses to reveal His will (Dent, xviii. 10 — 19). It is certain that Isaiah insists on the duty of inquiring of the Lord when he says, “And when they shall say unto you. Inquire of the familiar spirits, and of wizards who peep and mutter: Should not a people inquire of their God? For the living, should they inquire of the dead?” (viii. 19.) [ ]
In some of the cases just mentioned inquiry is made respecting the future, and it is evident that David and Jehoshaphat, as well as Zedekiah, believed that through the priest or the prophet they could receive from God, respecting contingencies, answers which the Divine prescience could alone supply; that is, that through the Divine help the priest or the prophet could predict future events. This faith rested upon the doctrine of God as taught in the Law, and exemplified in the whole of their previous history. Before there were prophets God Himself predicted the future. The announcement of the flood to Noah and the limitation of the day of grace to 120 years [ ] are predictions. Noah knew the future of the human race, and by the Divine instruction was enabled to provide against the coming calamity. The declaration, at a time when Abraham was childless, that his posterity should be afflicted in a strange land for 400 years, but that their enemies should be punished and they come forth with great wealth, was clearly a prediction. Jacob is represented as having on his death-bed predicted what should befal his posterity “in futurity of days” (***). Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams was a prediction of the seven years of plenty and of famine, and came from God as well as the dreams. “What God is about to do he showeth unto Pharaoh” (Gen. xl. 28). It is recorded of most of the prophets mentioned in the historic books that they uttered predictions. Deborah foretold the fate of Sisera. The man of God announced to Eli the judgments coming upon his family, and the death of his sons in one day. Samuel confirmed this prediction and declared its certain fulfilment, and it is remarked “that the Lord let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was accredited (or verified ***) for a prophet to the Lord.” Micaiah foretells the defeat of the allied armies of Judah and Israel, and rests his prophetic pretensions upon the fulfilment of what he had announced. “If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, people, every one of you.” Elijah predicted that there should be no rain but according to his word, the death of Jezebel, the extermination of Ahab’s posterity. Elisha foretold the overthrow of the Joabites, the three defeats of the Syrians. All these things, as well as the birth of Josiah, and the continuance of Jehu’s posterity on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation, are related as predictions, in the ordinary sense of the word, — as supernatural communications from the Lord, and the fulfilment specially noticed. It may indeed be said, and has been said, that these predictions and the narratives connected with them are mythical narrations, written after the events when the historic substrata had had time to be transmuted into the supernatural. But that, if true, would not alter the fact that the Hebrews believed in the power of the prophets to predict events by supernatural aid from on high; that this belief is inseparably connected with their ideas of the Divine Being, and everywhere visible in the historical books from Genesis to Nehemiah; in fact that the power of predicting future events is one of the essential features in the character of a prophet. And as it is incontrovertibly a part of the popular belief, so it is the doctrine of the prophets themselves, as recorded in their writings. It is hardly possible to open a page of any book of the prophets on which there is not a prediction. “By far the greatest portion of the prophetic discourses consists in delineations of the future, or predictions referring partly to the Jehovah people, and therefore to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, partly to foreign nations who came in contact with the Hebrews, …. partly to individuals of the former, seldom of the latter.” [ ] Amos lays it down as an axiom that the Lord reveals to the prophets his purposes before they are realized. “Surely the Lord God wall do nothing, but he revealeth his secret (***) to his servants the prophets.” (Amos iii. 7.) Upon which, Hitzig says: “The prophet predicts the coming evil, which is always an ordinance of Jehovah; for Jehovah makes him acquainted beforehand with that which He has decreed.” Isaiah makes the prediction of future events a distinguishing characteristic and prerogative of Deity, and therefore a proof that the God of Israel is the true and living God. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring futurity (***) from former time, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done” (xlvi. 9, 10); upon which words Knobel thus comments: — “The better view consists in the knowledge that Jehovah, and none besides, is God, that He is God and nothing like Him. To this view they can easily come by remembering the former things, that is, the prophecies formerly given, which are now being fulfilled (xlii. 9). These prove Jehovah’s foreknowledge, and thereby His Godhead.” In like manner Isaiah makes the want of predictions amongst idolaters a proof that their gods are no gods. “Produce your cause, bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: Let them show the former things what they be, that we may consider them and know the latter end of them; or declare for us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods” (xli. 21 — 23); where Gesenius says, “A new challenge to the idols as in verse 1, &c., again with a reference to Cyrus, but also with a reference to former predictions of the prophets, such as the heathen had none to show.” Knobel’s words are still stronger: — “Let them bring forth their proofs, especially that one which rests upon correct prediction of the future; for the foreknowledge of the future is the peculiar attribute of God, and proves Deity, on which account it was also the credential of the true prophet. Deut. xviii. 21. Jer. xxviii. 9. And, on the contrary, the idols never were able, nor are they now, to announce the future. They should declare the things to come hereafter, that is, what should afterward happen, and Jehovah will see and recognise that they are gods, namely, when their prediction is accomplished.” In these places, and many more, it is taught that Jehovah gives predictions to His servants the prophets, and also that He fulfils them. “He confirmeth the word of His servants, and performeth the counsel of His messengers” (Isai. xliv. 26); that by so doing He proves not only that the prophets are true prophets, but that He Himself is the true God. We have in fact the same proof of the truth of Divine Revelation that has been urged in modern times from fulfilled prophecy, and which has the highest possible sanction in the words of our Lord, “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye might believe.” (John xiv. 29: comp. xiii. 19. and xvi. 4.)
8. It is evident that the Hebrew people believed that their prophets could predict the future. The prophets themselves affirm that they have the power and utter predictions. Were they impostors, or did they deceive themselves? That they were impostors, is not believed by those Rationalists who have given most attention to this subject, as Gesenius, Ewald, and Knobel, and is disproved by their doctrine and their life. Concerning God they teach that He is One, the Lord, Creator of the heavens and the earth, Everlasting, Almighty, Omniscient, Free, All wise, Holy, a righteous Judge, a merciful Saviour, the Governor of the world, forgiving iniquity and sin. [ ] Their notion of the religion acceptable to Him is also equally free from fanaticism and formality. They denounce those who “draw near to God with their lips, but remove their heart far from Him.” They teach that to reform the life is better than external demonstrations. “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices? Wash you; make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow” (Isaiah i. 11 — 17). “I will have mercy, not sacrifice.” They proclaim that honesty, mercy, and humility are the weightiest matters of the Law. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic. vi. 8). To preach such doctrine was their business; and boldly to reprove all who lived in opposition to it, whether kings, or priests, or people, was their practice, and this without fee or reward, for they received nothing for their prophesying, but often exposed themselves to persecution and death. They sought not wealth, or honour, or favour, or ease. They were temperate, self-denying, patient, valiant for the truth, leaning upon God as their stay, and looking to God alone for their reward. They were neither morose ascetics, nor unlettered fanatics. Married and living amongst the people, in cottages and in courts, they discharged the ordinary duties of citizens. They cultivated letters, and have left a literature unique in the history of the world; if judged according to a human standard, unsurpassed in genius, sublimity, grandeur; but in purity and morality unequalled by any nation in any age. This prophetic order beginning, if reckoned from Samuel, nearly 400 years before the birth of Rome, and closing when the bloom of Grecian genius was only appearing, is, when compared with the state of the world around them, a phenomenon as wonderful as the power of prediction which they claimed. The best days of Greece and Rome can furnish no heroes, patriots, or moral teachers to compare with this long and wonderful succession of holy, disinterested, bold reprovers of vice and preachers of virtue, unambitious examples of genuine patriotism, living for the glory of God, and the good of man; whose writings are so imbued with imperishable and universal truth, that for nearly twenty-four centuries after the death of the last of the goodly fellowship, they have continued and still continue to touch the hearts, and influence the faith, the thoughts and lives of the wisest, greatest, and most excellent of the human race. That such men could be deceivers, or that imposture could have exercised a power so enduring, is impossible. That they could have been self-deceiving enthusiasts is equally incredible. Neither their doctrine, nor their lives, nor their writings savour of enthusiasm, nor can they be accounted for as mere ebullitions of genius. Why did not the poetic inspiration and colossal intellect of Greece produce similar results? Why did not Euripides prophesy? Why did Plato never rise to moral purity? [Of all the great writers of antiquity Plato is the most striking witness to the corruption of fallen human nature, and the propensity of the grandest] “It is because of the theocracy,” say modern diviners.
Moses founded a theocracy, and prophetism was the necessary result But this is only to remove the difficulty one step farther back. Why did not the Spartan, or Athenian, or Locrian lawgivers, or the royal disciple of Egeria found a theocracy like that of Moses? Why did not their legislations bring forth prophets? In a certain sense prophecy did arise out of the original relation established between God and Israel. The same Divine Being, who commanded the theocracy, gave also the prophets, inspired them with their doctrines, revealed to them the future, and enabled them to utter predictions, far beyond the powers of human foreboding, sagacity or conjecture, which by their fulfilment, of old and in the present times, demonstrate that they were not self-deceiving enthusiasts, but spake as they were moved by Him who knows the end from the beginning.
9. It has indeed been said by foreign writers, and lately repeated in this country, that the predictions arose out of the circumstances of the days in which the prophets lived, and do not extend beyond the horizon of their times. The interpreter “cannot quote Nahum denouncing ruin against Nineveh, or Jeremiah against Tyre, without remembering that already the Babylonian power threw its shadow across Asia, and Nebuchadnezzar was mustering his armies.” [ ] Some foreign critics, though in the same spirit, take a different view of the occasion of Nahum’s prophecy, ascribing it to an attempt by the Medes and their eastern allies. “This is the remarkable expedition,”says Ewald, speaking of the Medes and their oriental confederates under Phraortes, “which Nahum saw with his own eyes, when, predicting the approaching end of Nineveh, he wrote his still extant oracle; he lived in Alqush, somewhat farther east of the Tigris, and was therefore able, in that place, to see the whole host as it advanced against Nineveh.” [ ] The latter supposition, that Nahum lived near Nineveh, is for good reasons rejected by Knobel, who affirms that he lived at Elkosh in Galilee, and, therefore, did not see the Median power advancing against the Assyrian capital. With regard to the relative strength of the Babylonian and Median powers in comparison with that of the Assyrian empire at that time, there was nothing to lead the prophet to anticipate that either the one or the other was able to take Nineveh, or overthrow the Assyrian monarchy, but the contrary. According to Knobel, who, in the eyes of Rationalists, is an unexceptionable witness, Nahum wrote this prophecy between the years 713 and 711 B.C. Nineveh was not overthrown until about 612. [ ] Just about the time when Nahum wrote, or, according to others, three or four years later, [ ] the Medes under Deioces revolted from the Assyrians, and set up an independent monarchy. Their power at that time could not have been very formidable, for fifty years later, when the Median empire had been consolidated by the long and wise government of Deioces, it was still unable to cope with the Assyrians, by whom their army was utterly defeated, their king slain, and their capital taken. The effort of Phraortes was equally unsuccessful, and therefore Hitzig says, “The attack of Phraortes is not a sufficient ground [for the confident tone of the prophecy]. The Assyrians destroyed him and his whole host. The capital, which Ewald supposes to have been vigorously besieged, does not appear to have been approached by any danger of the kind.” The Babylonians were just as little a match for the Assyrians, for, some fifty years before, Esarhaddon had seized Babylon, and reunited it to the Assyrian monarchy. [ ] When, then, Nahum wrote, the shadow of the Babylonian or Median power was not such as to cause much alarm for the existence of Nineveh. Notwithstanding the loss of an army of 185,000 men, the Assyrian power was still the greatest in the world; and whilst it was still the greatest, whilst the kingdom of Babylon was still so inferior as to be unable to undertake anything against it by itself, and was therefore glad to seek the alliance of Hezekiah, one hundred years before the event, Nahum predicted the siege and utter destruction of Nineveh. “And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste . . . The gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies; the fire shall devour thy bars. Draw the waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds; go into clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brickkiln. There shall the fire devour thee: the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm!” [ ] Can any of those men who now assert that this prophecy was a mere conjecture, tell us what will be the fate of Paris or Loudon one hundred years hence? They deny the miracle of supernatural foreknowledge, and believe what is more incredible far; that unassisted human knowledge can lift the veil from futurity, and presage the destinies of empires. Nahum is, however, not the only prophet who offered predictions concerning the Assyrians. “Assur had not yet passed the Euphrates as a conqueror, and the victorious Jeroboam still reigned in the kingdom of Israel, when the prophetic voice of Hosea and Amos already threatened their countrymen with the scourge of Assyria. Amos vi. 14, vii. 17; Hos. x. 7, 8, xiv. 1. Some years before the fall of Samaria, Micah uttered these words: — ‘What is the guilt of Jacob, is it not Samaria? And what are the idol-high places of Judah, are they not Jerusalem? Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.’ But for three years the Assyrian was obliged to lie before the well-fortified city before it fell. Concerning Judah also Micah uttered the oracle: — ‘Evil came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem,’! and thereupon begins the announcement of the desolation of particular country towns of Judea. But at that time Shalmaneser passed by the kingdom of Judah in peace, and Hezekiah continued to pay his tribute. It was not until the throne had got a new occupant in Sennacherib that he ceased to do so, and thus brought the Assyrian host before the gates of Jerusalem, and caused the fulfilment of the prophecy. But long before this, when the unbelieving Ahaz called upon Tiglath Pileser for help against Syria and Israel, Isaiah, with prophetic eye, looking far beyond the then present, announced to him that through the King of Assyria danger should come upon him, and his father’s house, and his people, such as had not been since the division of the kingdoms. (Isai. vii. 17, 18.) Ahaz himself sank into a state of disgraceful Assyrian vassalage, and, perhaps, even experienced the horrors of war in his own land. (2 Chron. xxviii. 20.) But in the days of Hezekiah the word of the prophet was fulfilled in full measure by Sennacherib.” [ ]
But the accuracy of Micah’s language and of Isaiah’s prophetic foreknowledge are worthy of attention. Micah foretels utter destruction to Samaria; to Judah only chastisement, which should reach to the gate of Jerusalem, but no farther. “For it is incurable, every one of her blows — it (the blow) is come to Judah. He hath reached (*** touched, or smitten) as far as the gate of my people, to Jerusalem …… For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good; but evil came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem. thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast.” From the history it appears that the word of Micah was exactly fulfilled. “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities and took them [Lachish among the number]. And the King of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem with a great army.” (Isaiah xxxvi. 1, &c.) The land of Judah was overrun; the evil reached even to the gate of Jerusalem, for the city was invested; but, in conformity with Micah’s words, it never entered the city — the Assyrian power was broken, and the king returned by the way he came, as Isaiah had foretold. There is no doubt about the predictions, or the fact that they were uttered before the event, nor yet about the fulfilment. In the time of Ahaz, Isaiah, who had also foretold the chastisement to be inflicted on Judah by the Assyrians, expressly announced a miraculous destruction of the Assyrian host. “Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory He shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire,
And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his briers in one day; and shall consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field both soul and body, and they shall be like the pining away of a sick man,” &c. (Isai. x. 16-19.) And, again, xxx. 27-32, Isaiah also predicts that the Assyrian shall be broken in his land at least thirty years before the event. That the Assyrian power should be broken was then improbable; that it should be broken on the mountains of Judah more improbable still, beyond human conjecture, and yet it was accomplished. The prediction is found Isai. xiv. 24-27. “The Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed so shall it stand: that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all nations, for the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” Modern, even sceptical, criticism assigns this fragment to Isaiah, and considers it as a part of the prophecy beginning at X. 5, and going on to the end of chapter xii. The wording is remarkable. It implies miracle, and by miracle the Assyrian host was destroyed: the fulfilment is not only narrated in the history, but recorded in several Psalms, and von Niebuhr shows how, notwithstanding the continuance of Sennacherib’s empire, and its prosperity under Esarhaddon, the Assyrian power was then really “broken.”
With regard to Assyria’s successor, Babylon, there are predictions equally sure. That one huncbed and fifty years before the event, the Babylonian captivity was foretold in the most unequivocal and remarkable language by Isaiah, is as certain as any fact in history. In the xxxixth chapter of that prophet we read that on Hezekiah’s recovery Merodach Baladan, King of Babylon, sent to congratulate him. Hezekiah vaingloriously exhibited to him all his wealth. Isaiah was soon at hand to rebuke his vanity, and announce the Lord’s purpose concerning Hezekiah’s posterity. “Hear the word of the Lord of Hosts: Behold the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away: and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.” It is certain that Nabonassar had shaken off the Assyrian yoke, and made Babylon an independent kingdom, and that some twelve years after his death reigned Merodach Baladan. [ ] The genuineness of the chapter in Isaiah has never been doubted. The circumstances of Babylon were not then such as to raise any conjecture respecting its future greatness. It was independent, but not superior to Assyria; on the contrary, as we have already said, Babylon was soon after reduced again to Assyrian obedience.
Micah also predicted the captivity and the deliverance from Babylon. Ch. ii. 10, he says, “Arise ye and depart: for this is not your rest: Because it is polluted it shall destroy you even with a sore destruction;” iii. 12, he announces that Jerusalem shall be ploughed as a field, Jerusalem become heaps, and the temple and its place be desolate; iv. 10, he says, “Thou shalt go forth out of the city, thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon: there shalt thou be delivered: there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” This prediction is the more remarkable, because, as we have seen, he predicts the overrunning of the land of Judah by the Assyrians, declares that the evil should only come to the gate of Jerusalem; and V. 5, 6, foretels the deliverance in the land of Israel. “This one *** [the Messiah, the Son of God] shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land,” and announces the wasting of the land of Assyria. [ ] He could not, therefore, have expected that Assyria was to bring them to Babylon; and still less that at Babylon they should be delivered. Micah prophesied before the destruction of Samaria, i.e. before 724, that is, about a hundred and forty years before the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, and consequently about two hundred before the deliverance from Babylon. [ ]
10. The mention of Babylon reminds us of another remarkable and indubitable prediction as remarkably fulfilled, and the fulfillment of which shows the groundlessness of recent insinuations. One of these was noticed above. “He cannot quote Jeremiah [denouncing ruin against Tyre] without remembering that already the Babylonian power threw its shade across Asia, and Nebuchadnezzar was mustering his armies.” But surely the writer of these words could not have forgotten that the ruin of Tyre by the Chaldeans had been predicted long before the days of Jeremiah. In the twenty-third chapter of Isaiah is found the burden of Tyre. The siege, the interruption of her commerce, the flight of her citizens, and the lamentations of her mariners and her colonies, are all graphically foretold here — and even the authors of the ruin are named. In the thirteenth verse, A.V., we read, “Behold the land of the Chaldeans. This people was not till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.” There are various translations of this verse, [ ] but that the Chaldeans are predicted as the destroyers of Tyre is admitted by some of the highest modern authorities. Knobel says, “Behold, the land of the Chaldeans. With the word ‘Behold’ the author introduces something new to which he directs special attention. That something is the destroyers of Tyre whom he is about to name.” Gesenius has “The sense of verse 13 is — Behold, this people of the Chaldees, a little while ago inhabitants of the deserts, to whom the Assyrians first assigned settled habitations and made it a people: this hitherto insignificant people, scarcely deserving mention, shall be the Instrument of the destruction of the ancient world-wide famous city of Tyre.” If this be the sense, as is generally agreed, then we have a prediction far surpassing the powers of human foresight, and not suggested by existing circumstances. The deniers of prediction feel this, and therefore use the most violent means to get rid of it, not scrupling to alter the text and change the meaning of the Hebrew words. Even the great Ewald is not above this violence. Without a shadow of critical support he would for “Chaldeans” substitute “Canaanites,” and interpret “Behold, the land of the Canaanites (the Phoenicians), this people is no more, Assur has made it a desolation; they (the Phoenicians) erected their country villas, they built their palaces, he made it a ruin.” I. Olshausen is guilty of still greater violence: he would strike out of the verse a number of words at the beginning, including, of course, “Chaldeans.” Meier proposes to substitute “Kittim” for “Chaldeans,” and to strike out the latter part of the verse: all which criticism Knobel unceremoniously calls “bodenlose Willkuhr.” Others would get rid of the whole as ungenuine, not written by Isaiah, but by some one in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. [ ] Knobel and Gesenius get rid of the difficulty by finding the event alluded to in Shalmaneser’s attempt on Tyre, when he subdued the whole of continental Phoenicia, but was unable to take New Tyre on the island, and established a blockade for five years. The Chaldeans, they say, served, and were some of the best troops, in the Assyrian army. But this is also to do violence to the text. The prophet does not say that the Assyrians should destroy the city, but explicitly and emphatically points out the Chaldeans as the ruiners of Tyre, “Behold, the land of the Chaldeans. This is the people—it was not [a people], Ashur founded it [the land] for the dwellers in steppes. They erected their watch-towers; they roused up her palaces; they made her a ruin,” Knobel and Gesenius, in the passages quoted from their commentaries, plainly admit this. But the only siege of Tyre by the Chaldeans was the thirteen years’ siege by Nebuchadnezzar, and every unprejudiced mind must admit that it alone answers to the prophet’s words, and therefore receive the prophecy as a prediction. Sooner than do this, Knobel, who believes and proves the prophecy to be genuine, says we must reject it as ungenuine, and ascribe it to Jeremiah. “To assert the genuineness of this portion, and yet to refer it to the siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Chaldeans, an event which happened a hundred years later, Ezek. xxvi.-xxviii. (as Jerome, Vitringa, I. D. Michaelis, Drechsler, Hengstenberg), is impossible, because in the time of Isaiah there could not be a foreboding, much less a certain and definite announcement of anything of the kind,” Such is the honesty and trustworthiness of “the higher criticism.” Better to reject a prophetic passage, which it proves to be genuine, than admit a prediction. Here is a plain proof that the criticism proceeds from previous rejection of prediction, not that the unbelief proceeds from the criticism. The critical De Wette says the same in his Introduction to the 0. T. “The prophecy concerning Tyre, c. xxiii., has been denied to be Isaiah’s on account of the mention of the Chaldeans, and because it has been supposed that its fulfilment must be found in history; also because of the supposed Chaldaising language (verses 3, 11). But these objections can be some of them entirely confuted, and others shown to be weak.” [ ] The preceding statement is a remarkable exhibition of the untrustworthiness of Rationalist criticism on account of the previous dogmatic prejudices of the authors against mspiration and prediction. It is also a specimen, one out of thousands, of how much reliance is to be placed on Professor Jowett’s statement, “that the diversity amongst German writers on prophecy is far less than among English ones. That is a new phenomenon which has to be acknowledged.” [ ] Any one who would take the trouble could show that the contrary is the fact; that there is such a love of novelty, and such unrestrained efforts after originality, that the diversities of opinion on any one subject, easy or difficult, are much greater than in England.
But, to return; Professor Jowett says that this is one of the passages which have not been fulfilled. “For a like reason the failure of a prophecy is never admitted, in spite of Scripture and of history (Jer. xxxvi. 30; Isai. xxiii.; Amos vii. 10-17).” What he considers unfulfilled in this prediction he does not say; but there are two points to which he probably alludes. The first is, that there is no historic account of Tyre having been taken by assault by Nebuchadnezzar. But no such event is predicted in this chapter. The prophet foretells a siege by the Chaldeans, great calamities, Tyre reduced to a ruin — this is all matter of history. Tyre was besieged for thirteen years. [ ] In so long a siege the city must have suffered severely. Nebuchadnezzar overran all Syria and Phoenicia: he must, therefore, have taken Old Tyre on the continent; and modern critics now admit that if New Tyre on the island was not taken by assault, it submitted to the Chaldeans by capitulation, and that the Tyrian royal family was carried to Babylon. So Gesenius says, “The siege probably ended with a peaceable agreement and alliance, as we see that subsequently the Tyrians sent to Babylon to fetch Merbal, one of their later kings (Joseph, Contra Apion. i. § 21).” And Tholuck (p. 133), “That which, after the searching investigations of Hengstenberg and Havernik, should never have been questioned, has now, since the farther researches in Movers (ii. 1, p. 461), found pretty general reception (also in Duncker, i. 172; Niebuhr, p. 216); that certainly, if not a conquest, yet a capitulation of the Tyrians must have taken place, in consequence of which they again became vassals of the Chaldeans, and were obliged to submit to the removal of the royal family to Babylon. The plainest proof of this is seen in the fact, that about a year later they were attacked as Chaldean vassals and subdued by Hophra, who had been formerly their ally. That this conquest could have been effected by the Egyptian king by a surprise, shows in what a low state their fortifications and their power must have been.” [ ] It is therefore historically certain that Tyre was besieged, and reduced to a state of ruin by the Chaldeans, just as Isaiah had foretold about a hundred and thirty years before, when the Chaldeans were as yet mere mercenary troops in the armies of Assyria. It is equally certain that after the fall of Babylon, Tyre became independent, rich, and prosperous again, as the prophet foretold. “It shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as a harlot.” The discord amongst critics about the meaning of the seventy years and the days of one king is just as great as that already noticed. Two opinions meet most favour: one, that of the Rationalists, that seventy is a round number, and that seventy years mean a long time; the other, that king here means dynasty or kingdom of the Chaldeans, as Dan. vii. 17, viii. 20, which is the view of Aben Ezra, Vitringa, Lowth, Doderlein, Rosenmuller, &c. If either be true, the objector cannot fairly say that the prediction has not been fulfilled.
With regard to the concluding verse, in which the prophet foretells that after Tyre’s recovery from Babylonian vassalage, “Her merchandize and her hire should be holiness to the Lord,” the most that can be objected is, that we have no record of its fulfilment. But from this it does not follow that this part of the prediction was not accomplished. The fulfilment could only have taken place after the restoration from Babylon, and before the destruction by Alexander, The records of events in Scripture from the return of Zerubbabel to the close of the Canon are too brief to afford us any light as to the relations between Tyre and Jerusalem. In the days of Solomon we know that they were friendly, Hiram contributed to the building of the temple, and the friendship must have continued unusually intimate, as Amos denounces punishment upon Tyre for “not having remembered the brotherly covenant.” (Amos i. 9.) There is, therefore, nothing improbable in the supposition that, after Tyre’s recovery from almost ruin, friendly relations were re-established, and rich offerings made in the temple at Jerusalem. The marvellous fulfilment of the former portion respecting the Chaldeans is a guarantee for the Divine origin and accomplishment of the latter. Hitherto objectors have only asserted, not attempted to prove, the non-fulfilment.
There are other fulfilled predictions to which the reader’s attention might satisfactorily have been turned, but the charge of non-fulfilment made in ‘Essays and Reviews’ constrains us to consider a passage in Jeremiah, and another in Amos there referred to, in support of the allegation. The former, Jer. xxxvi. 10, is thus given in the Authorized Version: — “Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, he shall have none to sit [literally, ‘none sitting’  ] upon the throne of David; and his body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.” [ ] To this Hitzig in his commentary objects, that Jehoiakim had a son, Jehoiachin, who did sit upon his throne, and that in 2 Kings xxiv. 6 (Heb. 5), we read, “So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned m his stead.” If Jeremiah had, after uttering the prophecy, committed it to writing, and then died before Jehoiakim, this objection might have some weight; but when it is remembered that Jeremiah lived many years after the death of Jehoiakim, and, if his words had been falsified by events, might have altered them, and yet did not, but left them as originally uttered, the objection ceases to have any force at all. The prophet must have been satisfied after the event, that his words expressed what had happened. Jehoiakim had in fact no son “sitting,” or continuing on the throne of David, for, three months after Jehoiachin’s elevation, he was deposed and carried away. The words, “He slept with his fathers,” signify simply that he died, affirming nothing about his burial. Here Ewald is much more thoughtful and more candid than the English Essayist or his German forerunner. In the ‘Geschichte des Volkes Israel,’ iii. p. 430, Ewald gives an account of the death of Jehoiakim and of the treatment of his corpse in agreement with Jeremiah’s words, and, in a note, adds, “The particular circumstances of the death of Jehoiakim are very obscure. The formula, ‘He slept with his fathers,’ 2 Kings xxiv. 6, means nothing more than his death; that he was taken prisoner is mentioned, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 6; but what actually occurred may be inferred with tolerable probability from the words selected by Jeremiah xxii. 18, &c., and xxxvi. 30. For, though the prophet had certainly predicted the king’s unhappy end long before, he wrote down the words after the event.” Ewald, therefore, saw the impossibility of these words containing an unfulfilled prediction. The English objector might have saved his criticism from appearing as the dictate of passion rather than the conclusion of judgment, had he taken time to consider the prophet’s words impartially.
Another example of this unhappy hastiness in taking up objections is found in the reference to Amos vii. 10-17. In our English Bible the passage reads thus: — “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam King of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land. And Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel; for it is the king’s chapel and the king’s court.” Amos asserts his Divine call, and utters this prediction against Amaziah: — “Therefore, thus saith the Lord; thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land; and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.” As the Essayist does not specify the particulars which he supposes unfulfilled, we can only state the objection according to Hitzig. First, then, he may suppose that the prediction is not fulfilled because Jeroboam II. did not die by the sword; but if the objector will look at verse 9, he will see that Amos did not predicit anything of the kind — the prophet’s threat is not against Jeroboam, but his house. “I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the Sword,” which threat was fulfilled when Shallum conspired against Jeroboam’s son and successor, and slew him and reigned in his stead. (2 Kings xv. 10.) The words, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword,” were a malicious addition of Amaziah’s to induce Jeroboam to drive Amos from Bethel. Hitzig’s attempt to prove that “house of Jeroboam” included Jeroboam himself by referring to Isai. vii. 13, where “house of David” includes Ahaz and his family, is a miserable failure. To make the cases parallel, Isaiah must have said, “Hear ye now, house of Ahaz.”
The next portion of the assaulted prediction foretels that Israel should go into captivity. Taking Knobel’s dates, Amos uttered his prophecies between 790-784 b. c., i. e. before the death of Jeroboam. The final carrying away of Israel by Shalmaneser occurred about sixty years after: so that here is an undoubted prediction undoubtedly fulfilled.
There remains only the denunciation against Amaziah, his wife and children, the fulfilment of which is not recorded. But surely this is not surprising, when the excessive brevity of the accounts of the kings and revolutions that followed, is taken into consideration. There is nothing impossible or improbable in the fate predicted. Within thirty years from the date of the prophecy, the Assyrians began then incursions into the land of Israel. Although, then, the fulfilment of this particular is not related, it is not improbable. The fulfilment of the other two particulars is a guarantee that this also was accomplished. This objection, however, like others of the kind, has this value: it shows that the objector believes that the Hebrew prophets did lay claim to the power of predicting future events.
11. Here our attention has been directed to one of many wondrous predictions concerning the destinies of Israel, which have excited the astonishment of readers in all ages. Moses foretold the dispersion of the disobedient people, and their preservation in the midst of the nations. The theme has been taken up by all the later prophets. The fulfilment is before our eyes. Israel has been scattered to the four winds, but is still preserved. Of the nations by whom and amongst whom they were first dispersed the Lord has made a full end. He has chastened Israel in measure, but has not permitted them to disappear. [ ] The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Romans have utterly perished. The Ten Tribes are “wanderers among the nations.” The people of the Jews, rich, powerful, intelligent, survive all the revolutions of Empires, ancient, medieval, modern, and await the consummation of the Lord’s oracles. [ ] But as this is matter of notoriety, is not disputed or explained by Rationalists or Essayists, it is enough to refer to this proof of revelation, as wonderful as the answer to Elijah’s prayer (1 Kings, xviii.).
12. But that which gives to Hebrew prophecy its peculiar charm, and its paramount importance, is that it contains predictions respecting Redemption and the Redeemer. That there are Messianic prophecies has been the belief of Jews and Christians for more than two thousand years, and is fully admitted by the New School of Theology. But, much beyond this, the agreement between the old and new interpreters does not extend. For some of the prophecies applied in the New Testament to the Messiah, the modern school has new interpretations. Of others, and those most important, it denies the genuineness; and one of the vital questions now brought before the English mind is, whether we are to follow the New Testament, or the new German critics. The innovators in England do not pretend to offer anything original of their own. They repeat in English what they have derived from one class of German writers. And, as German learning stands deservedly in high repute, there is a danger of the unwary receiving without question, what appears to come on authority so respectable. Hence the present necessity of such frequent references to the sources from which they draw, and also of recalling attention to the real question at issue, namely, whether the New Testament or German critics are to be our guides in interpreting prophecy. Now, placing for a moment the New Testament writers on the lowest level, regarding them merely as included amongst the ancient Jews, their opinion must be of some value. Theirs were the prophetic books. For their fathers and for themselves they were written. They were orientals. They inherited the traditional interpretation of their people. Their interpretation has been accepted by the intelligent of other nations. The Christian Church, composed of a great variety of races, abounding in minds of all possible types, in different stages of culture, approved and adhered to the old Jewish interpretation for many centmies. True, that only two or three of the Fathers understood Hebrew, and that the early Church was dependent upon the Greek and Syriac, and the medieval Church on the Vulgate, versions. But, as was said above, and at the present time ought to be kept in remembrance, however many of the beauties and peculiarities of the writer may be lost in a version, the grand substance, the purpose and intent of the whole, which is, after all, the real meaning of any book that has a meaning, may be grasped in any tolerable translation by any intelligent reader. And that which suggests itself to the common sense of mankind, as the meanhig, whether derived from version or original, is undoubtedly the true meaning. And so it is with prophecy. To readers of ancient or modern versions, or of the original, the general scope and intent has ever appeared the same. And, therefore, at the revival of letters, and at the Reformation, when the original language of the prophets came to be studied, the general sense, handed down from the New Testament writers by the Fathers and medieval divines, still commended itself to students as acute in intellect, and to scholars as familiar with the Hebrew language, as any who have lived in the last hundred years. Indeed it may be doubted whether Hebrew has been so nearly a mother-tongue with any recent critics, as it was with the Buxtorfs, Wagenseil, Edzard, and others of old; and whether any modern commentators have been naturally more competent to grasp the general sense than the Reformers, and those who followed them. And yet, from the Reformation down to the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the old interpretation prevailed. Romanists and Protestants were still of one mind as to the general outline of prophetic truth. Wonderful if ancient Jews, Fathers and Medievahsts, Protestants and Romanists, were all mistaken, and the true sense hidden until about fifty years ago.
13. If the New School were all of one mind; if all modern critics were unanimous in their judgments, and uniform in their interpretations, and their conclusions had been arrived at by unbiassed investigation, such unanimity of opinion, and conclusions so deduced, would naturally have great weight. But the variety and diversity of opinion in the German Rationalist School is unbounded. They agree only in that negative view, which necessarily arises from the common origin and the common principles of their theology. The origin of their theology is undoubtedly Deistic infidelity; [ ] its fundamental principles, that there is no supernatural revelation of Deity, and therefore no Divine prediction, [ ] consequently that there can be no real predictions concerning Jesus of Nazareth, or anybody else. [ ] Criticism derived from such a source, and guided by such principles, must be eminently untrustworthy. The conclusions forerun the investigation. If there can be no prediction at all, then there can be none relating to our Lord; and therefore from their general principle, before any investigation is made, it follows that neither the xxiind Psalm, nor Isai. vii. 14, nor any other Psalm or prophecy, can be interpreted of the Saviour, and therefore investigation can only be made in order to show that the foregone conclusion is true. The investigators may be learned, profound, acute, diligent, honest, but their principles hinder them from acknowledging that any prediction ever was or can be fulfilled, and compel them to conclude that it is not; and therefore their criticism and conclusions in such matters must be regarded not only with suspicion, but as probably untrue, the result of their dogmatic prejudices, and therefore utterly insufficient to outweigh the common judgment of Jews and Gentiles for more than two thousand years.
14, Such would be the opinion of the student who had never heard of Evangelists, Apostles, or Rationalists in his life, but considered the subject, apart from all religious interests, merely in a scientific point of view. But in the question between the New Testament and modern criticism the Christian sees something more than an alternative between ancient Judaism and modern heathenism — he sees that it is an alternative between Christ and unbelief. The interpretations of the New Testament are the interpretations of Christ and of those to whom, ” beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke xxiv. 27), “whose understandings He opened that they might understand the Scriptures” (Luke xxiv. 45); to whom He sent His Holy Spirit to “bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever He had said unto them,” and to “guide them into all truth.” (John xiv. 26, xvi. 13.) He cannot depart from their interpretations, and adopt the new and contradictory criticism, without admitting either that Christ knowingly accommodated Himself to the errors of the times, or that He was mistaken, or that His discourses liave been incorrectly reported; any one of which admissions is equivalent to a renunciation of Christianity. The first is the supposition of some of the elder Rationalists, the second of some of the later, and the third apparently of many modern critics. To admit the first is to deny our Lord’s integrity, to concede the second is to make him a mere fallible man, and to receive the third is to take away the main ground of our faith in Christ. The lowest theory of inspiration, at all compatible with faith, is that “it protects the doctrine.” Our Lord’s doctrine is contained in His discourses, and part of those discourses is His interpretation of prophecy, and the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide His disciples. If in those discourses, or those of His disciples, the prophecies are falsely interpreted, the doctrine is not protected, the promise of the Spirit cannot have been fulfilled, and we are brought to the horrid and blasphemous conclusion that Christ.
“The Way, the Truth, and the Life,” was fallible, and that His word is not to be depended upon. From these consistent and necessary conclusions the Essayists do not shrink any more than their German masters. They reject the New Testament interpretation of prophecy, and then consistently deny the authority of the New Testament itself. He who would sweep away all predictive prophecy insinuates that the Gospel portrait of our Lord is dimmed “by the haze of mingled imagination and remembrance, with which his awful figure could scarcely fail to be at length invested by affection.” [ ] Another says that “The New Testament writings leave us in uncertainty as to the descent of Jesus Christ according to the flesh, whether by His mother He were of the tribe of Judah, or of the tribe of Levi;” [ ] implies that His birth at Bethlehem and the announcement of it by the Angels are doubtful; and that the three first Gospels, though more trustworthy than the fourth, contain only “more exact traditions of what He actually said.” A third, who, following Reimarus, [ ] doubts whether any one passage from the Psalms or Prophets quoted in the Epistles is rightly interpreted, [ ] insinuates that our Lord’s prediction concerning the day of judgment has failed because it is inseparable from that of the destruction of Jerusalem, and in another work expressly teaches that in this matter our Lord was mistaken. [ ] Thus the example of foreign critics and their followers at home warns us that if we give up the prophetic interpretations of Christ and the Apostles, we must prepare also to part with our Christianity, and begin a painful and not very profitable search for those crumbs of Divine truth, which these kind critics still suppose to be scattered about in the Prophets and Evangelists, and which can only be recognized by the verifying faculty of the critic. But if we believe in Christ, and those whom He taught by His Spirit, we must take their principle of interpretation as ours, and rest assured that the interpretations which they have given exhibit the true mind of that Spirit who spake by the prophets. The wise men, and the scribes, and the disputers of the day may decry this principle as unscientific, and protest that it is better not to read the Bible at all, than to read with such restrictions; but Christians may be content with the wisdom that came down from above, and with the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. Where our Lord or an inspired Apostle has spoken, we abide by the interpretation.
15. Here, however, it is necessary to guard against mistake. Where passages of the prophecies are cited or applied, attention must be paid to the mind and intention of the speaker or writer, as sometimes Old Testament language is used without any intention of intimating a fulfilment of prophecy either direct or typical. The words were suitable to express the feelings or thoughts of the writer, and they were adopted. Thus when St. Paul says, “I say, have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world,” there is no reason for supposing that the Apostle looked upon Ps. xix. 4 as a prophecy fulfilled in the preaching of the Gospel. The Psalm speaks of the heavens and the firmament. But the words aptly and beautifully expressed what the disciples of Clnrist had already done, and Paul was guided to adopt them, the rather because in the Psalm itself the parallel is drawn between the book of nature and the book of revelation, the harmonious testimony of the works and word of God. Another instance occurs 1 Cor. xv. 32: “If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” Here is a quotation from Isai. xxii. 13. The words of the prophet forcibly depicted the character of those of whom the Apostle was speaking, and they are adopted accordingly. This principle is demonstrated by 2 Tim. ii. 19: “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” The latter words are a quotation from Numb. xvi. 5, referring to the rebellion of Korah and his company, but adopted by the Apostle, just as the later prophets, especially Jeremiah, express their message occasionally in citations from their predecessors or from the Pentateuch.
In the next place, it is to be observed that Old Testament passages are sometimes cited simply to confirm a doctrine, or to form the foundation of an argument; as when the Apostle says (Rom. ix. 7) “Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” The latter words are cited to prove that mere fleshly descent does not constitute a right to the inheritance or God’s favour. Ishmael was according to the flesh the child of Abraham, but it was to Isaac and his posterity that the inheritance of the promises was given. In like manner our Lord (Matt. xiii. 14) applies Isai. vi. 9, 10 to the Jews whom He addressed, and St. Paul applies the same words (Acts xxviii. 2(i) to the Jews at Rome. They contain a general principle of God’s dealings with men, applicable at all times. So St. Paul (Rom. x. 12) employs the words of Joel, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” to prove that there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile. The stress is upon the words *** “every one.” Not to the Jews only, but to every one who calls upon the name of the Lord, God promises salvation, therefore there is no difference, &c. The object for which the quotation is made must be kept in view, else the conclusiveness of the argument will be missed, and a wrong interpretation given to the prophecy. As for example (Acts xv. 15 — 17), where James proves the right of the Gentiles to be received into the Church without circumcision, he says, “Simeon hath declared how God at tlie first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets ; as it is written. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down . . . that the residue of men [ ] might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles on whom my name is called, saith the Lord.” Some readers and interpreters fix their eye upon the tabernacle of David, and seeing that that was not literally fulfilled, take it figuratively of the Christian Church, and thereby do violence to the words of the prophecy, and at the same time miss St. James’s argument. The question was, whether the Gentiles, i.e. without circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic Law, could be received into the Christian Church. The majority of Jewish Christians thought that they could not. St. Peter proved that these persons were wrong by an appeal to fact. St. James shows the same by a reference to prophecy. His object was not to quote and show a fulfilment of one prediction, but the general tenour of all respecting the call of the Gentiles as such, and therefore he says in the plural, “To this agree the words of the prophets.”
At the same time he selects one, in which the Gentiles *** are mentioned by name with the addition “all,” “all nations,” and where it is said that the name of the Lord is called upon them. The stress of the argument rests upon the word “Gentiles,” and upon the fact that God’s name is called upon them; as if he would say, “Here in Amos men upon whom the Lord’s name is called are still spoken of as Gentiles; they cannot therefore be persons circumcised and keeping the Law, and therefore the name of the Lord may now also be called upon Gentiles as such, and therefore there is no necessity for circumcising them. To enter the Church of Christ it is not necessary that they should cease to be Gentiles, or become proselytes by circumcision.” [ ]
16. In the next place words are quoted from the prophets, which contain no prediction at all, and are yet spoken of as being fulfilled, because the event to which they allude was a type of that to which they are applied. Our Lord and, after Him, the Apostles, lay down the principle that past history may represent that which is to happen hereafter. Thus the Saviour refers to the brazen serpent, and to Jonah as prefiguring His resurrection, and even the time of it on the third day. St. Paul teaches that Hagar and Sarah are typical of the covenants; the Paschal lamb of Christ’s atoning death; the passage of the Red Sea of baptism; the smitten rock of Christ. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Peter in his allusion to the deluge, and St. John in his mystical application of the names Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon, confirm the principle, which helps us to interpret passages of the Old Testament, such as those where the Messiah is called David, and to understand passages of the New Testament, where what Avas spoken of David is applied to our Lord. The principle also solves the apparent ditficulty of two passages strongly insisted upon by the enemies of Christianity. Concerning our Lord’s early sojourn in Egypt, St. Matthew says, that it happened ” that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son,” — and respecting the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was a voice heard.” In neither case does St. Matthew quote predictions, but Hosea’s and Jeremiah’s references to past history. When Hosea said, “Out of Egypt have I called my son,” or when Jeremiah spoke of Rachel weeping for her children, neither was uttering a prediction of the future, but alluding to facts long past. Hosea was alluding to the Exodus eight centuries before, and Jeremiah to the carrying away of the Ten Tribes one hundred years before he wrote. St. Matthew therefore speaks of them as fulfilled in the only way in which facts can be fulfilled, in events the antitypes of those referred to.
17. But after making allowance for these and numerous other similar applications of prophecy, there remain many which the Lord and the Apostles interpret as specially spoken in reference to Christ and Christianity. It has ever been the belief of all orthodox writers that Christ claimed to be the Messiah foretold by the prophets. It is also acknowledged by Eationalist divines. Thus Von Colln says that the sick who had been healed, the common people, his own immediate adherents, acknowledged Him as the Messiah, and adds, ” That Jesus approved, and even called forth this view of Himself, is evident from His words and His conduct. 1st. From His answer to Peter (Matt. xvi. 17); His approval of the acclamations of the people (Luke xix. 34, 40; Matt. xxi. 15, 16). 2nd. From His assuming the names belonging to the Messiah, especially the titles Son of God and Son of Man from Dan. vii. 13, 14. 3rd. From His claiming the privileges attributed to the Messiah, as the full unfolding and explanation of the Law (Matt. v. 17); the assertion that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. xii. 8); His reformation of the temple service (John ii. 13, 20); His dispensation of His disciples from the usual fasts (Matt. ix. 14); and His claiming the right to forgive sins. 4th. From His express declaration that He was the Messiah (J ohn iv. 25, 26, xvii. 3; Matt. xxvi. 63, 64, &c.) — This his assertion that He was sent from God, as the founder of a new theocracy, Jesus proved to be true — 1, From the Holy Scriptures of His people, which bare witness of His person and His works. According to the general convictions, the Law and the Prophets spake of an ideal theocracy. There was an unanimity of opinion as to the passages which treated of the ideal King, and also as to the particular features of his ciiaracter as drawn [by the prophets]. Whosoever, therefore, gave himself out for the Messiah, was under the necessity of proving that these features were found in him. Jesus, therefore, often employed the declarations of the Law and the Prophets to convince the Jews that He was the Messiah. . . . The application of the prophetic passages to Himself cannot be explained as accommodation, as Jesus in the circle of His confidential disciples, and after Him the Apostles in their discourses and Epistles, adhere to this application.” [ ] The same author teaches elsewhere (p. 89) that our Lord received the Law and the Prophets as the inspired word of God, and “employed the prophetic oracles in these writings as testimonies to His own appearance and works (John v. 39, 46; Luke iv. 21). He pointed out especially and often that His suiferings must happen according to the announcements of these Holy Books, and were therefore inevitable ordinances of God: Matt. xxvi. 24; Mark ix. 12, xiv. 49; Luke xviii. 31—33, xxii. 37, xxiv. 26, 27.”
18. Now the two prophets to whose writings our Lord and the Apostles most emphatically refer are Daniel and Isaiah; and by their references they not only interpret particular passages, but establish the genuineness of the books. Our Lord not only cites the prophet Daniel by name, when speaking of “the abomination of desolation” (Matt. xxiv. 15), but has been pleased to adopt from that book the designation of His kingdom, and the title which He appropriates to Himself. The expressions “Kingdom of Heaven,” and “Son of Man,” are confessedly taken from the second and seventh chapters of Daniel. The latter expression is particularly important. Meyer says — “Its simple meaning is, The Messiah. It is derived from the awful and striking representation in the prophetic vision (Dan. vii, 13) so well known to the Jews, and occurring also in the pre-Christian book of Enoch, in which the Messiah appears in the clouds of heaven, as ‘ The Son of Man’ (***), surrounded by the angels of the Divine throne of judgment (see Ewald, ‘Gesch. Chr.,’ p. 79), that is, in a form nothing different from that of an ordinary man. Jesus, inasmuch as in Him the Messiah was come, was, in the realisation, that Son of Man whose form was seen in Daniel’s vision. As often, therefore, as Jesus in His discourses says ‘The Son of Man,’ he means ‘The Son of Man of that vision of Daniel,’ that is. The Messiah.” [ ] It is needless to say how often this expression occurs in all the Gospels in our Lord’s discourses, especially on the most solemn occasions, as when He describes His second advent (Matt. xiii, 41, xxiv. 27, 30, 44, xxv. 31); when He speaks of His passion (John iii. 13, 14) on the very eve of its accomplishment (Matt. xxvi. 24); and when, after formal adjuration. He declares Himself the Christ, the Son of God, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting; on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven;” so that it is impossible to separate the essential elements of Christ’s teaching from the book of Daniel, and equally impossible to suppose that He who came into the world to bear witness to the truth would ground His claims and His most solemn doctrine on a forgery. The question of the genuineness and authenticity of Daniel cannot, therefore, be separated from that respecting the fallibility or infallibility of the Saviour. By asserting that the book of Daniel is ungenuiue — a forged and false prophecy — men charge our Lord with the uncritical ignorance of His times, or a deliberate application of a document which He knew to be false. But the student need not be alarmed at the greatness of the issue. He must remember that the original assault on Daniel was made by the heathen Porphyry, an able but bitter enemy of Christianity in the third century, and is continued, partly in the original form of objection, by those who deny all supernatural revelation, make our Lord himself a mere man, and are as opposed to the doctrine of Christ’s proper Deity as Porphyry himself. It must never be forgotten by those who read Rationalist books, that even when, like Schleiermacher and his school, they use the expression “Son of God,” they use it in a non-natural sense, rejecting the accounts of His supernatural birth, and regarding Him as the Son of Joseph and Mary. They are interested, therefore, not only in getting rid of the predictions in Daniel, especially such an one as the seventy weeks, but also in setting aside a remarkable testimony to the Old Testament doctrine of the Deity of Messiah. The two main Rationalist arguments against the book of Daniel are — first, that in their opinion it contains accurate predictions concerning Antiochus Epiphanes, which they borrow from Porphyry; and secondly, that it relates miracles, and therefore according to their own system cannot be true. This is strongly urged by Knobel. “The history of Daniel,” he says, “has a legendary, almost a fairy-tale complexion, and represents the events in a manner in which they could not possibly have happened. They could have assumed this form only after a long oral transmission. For in Hebrew history, where numerous myths and legends occur, as, for example, in that of the patriarchs, of Moses, Balaam, Samson, Elijah, Elisha, the narratives were committed to writing a considerable time after the events: when, on the contrary, events have a natural appearance, as in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, the first of Maccabees, there they were generally committed to writing at the time, or very soon after the events. This is an historic canon, of the validity of which there can be no doubt.” [ ]
To men holding such axioms of criticism, the book of Daniel must, as a matter of course, be as ungenuine as the narrative of our Lord’s miracles. Criticisms, therefore, founded on such principles must always appear questionable to a thoughtful inquirer, even if he is not able to show their weakness or falsehood. The believer in the Gospels will feel assured that they are not unanswerable, and a little inquiry will satisfy him that they have been answered again and again, by scholars trained in the schools of modern German philology and criticism, and every way equal to the task. Within the last thirty years, Hengstenberg, Sack, Havernik, Eeichel, Schulze, Herbst, Vaihinger, Delitsch, Oeler, Auberlen, Ziindel, have stood forward as successful vindicators of the genuineness of Daniel’s prophecies. Kurz, Keil, v. Hoffmann, Drechsel, Baumgarten have also confessed their adliesion to the ancient faith, [ ] A defender of the accuracy of Daniel’s chronological statements has appeared in Marcus von Niebuhr, in his History of Assyria and Babylon. These writers show, one or other of them, that those interpreters who would make the seventy weeks end with Antiochus Epiphanes contradict and confute one another; that that period must begin at the going forth of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and must extend to the times of our Lord; that from the necessary and proved relations between chapters ix. and xi., the latter looks far beyond the days of Antiochus. They have answered the objections from the length of Daniel’s life, from supposed contradictions, from history, from dates. They have proved that some of the supposed Graecisms are not Graecisms, at all; that others were naturalised in the time of Daniel, the Greeks having had relations long before with the Assyrians; and, above all, that the Canon of the Old Testament was closed within one hundred years of the restoration of the Jewish State, and the book of Daniel, if not written before, could not have been admitted into it; that therefore the book of Daniel is both genuine and authentic. [ ]
19. The other prophecy, whose genuineness Rationalist criticism has specially delighted to dispute, is that which is also specially vouched for by the New Testament, namely, that contained in the latter part of Isaiah (chapters xl. — lxvi.) and which seems really the connecting link between Old and New Testament revelation. It is a singular coincidence that those portions of the Old Testament which are most essential to New Testament theology — as the Pentateuch, the book of Daniel, and the latter part of Isaiah — are just those parts which Eationalist criticism has selected as the favourite fields on which to display its skill. Those Messianic predictions, which it can explain with plausibility as expressing Jewish hopes of earthly grandeur and prosperity, and incompatible with the teaching of Christ, it pronounces to be genuine. The prophecies which represent the Son of Man as a heavenly judge, coming in the clouds of heaven (Dan. vii.); the Messiah as cut off (Dan, ix.); Sion’s King as meek and lowly, and riding upon an ass (Zech. ix.); the good shepherd, sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. xi.); pierced by the inliabitants of Jerusalem (Zech. xii. 10, xiii.); despised and rejected of men, cut off’ out of the land of the living, one upon whom the Lord hath laid the iniquities of us all (Isaiah liii.) — are just the predictions which it proves to be ungenuine. The book of Daniel, the latter half of Zechariah, and the conclusion of Isaiah, which, if genuine, are fatal to Rationalist theology, are by Rationalist criticism condemned as ungenuine, in direct opposition to the teaching of the New Testament, The quotations from Zechariah are well known, the determination of our Lord to fulfil the ninth chapter of that prophecy obvious in the Gospels. The condemned portion of Isaiah is also emphatically honoured by the Lord and His Apostles. From the beginning to the end it is quoted as the work of Isaiah, and as fulfilled in our Lord. John the Baptist begins the interpretation with the opening prediction (Isaiah xl.) by declaring, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias” (John i. 23). Matthew xii. 17 — 21 explains Isaiah xlii. 1 — 3 of our Lord, and as the prophecy of Isaiah. The corresponding passage (xlix. 6) respecting the Lord’s righteous servant is interpreted by St. Paul of the call of the Gentiles (Acts xiii. 47). The fifty-third chapter is appropriated by our Lord Himself (Luke xxii. 37); and, after Him, explained by Philip (Acts viii.); by St. Peter (1 Epist. ii. 24, 25); and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ix. 28) of the sacrifice of Christ. Chapter lxi. 1 is also interpreted by our Lord of Himself (Luke iv. 17 — 21); and the end of the prophecy (Ixv. 1) is in the Epistle to the Romans (x. 20, 21) expounded of the conversion of the Gentiles, and the unbelief of the Jewish people. Thus the whole of the prophecy, from the beginning to the end, is in the New Testament ascribed to Isaiah as the writer, and cited as being fulfilled in our Lord, His sufferings, and His salvation. Both statements are denied by Rationalist writers, so that we cannot follow the latter without rejecting the teaching of the Lord and His Apostles, and the common belief of the Christian Church and the Jewish nation for nearly 1800 years. With regard to the authorship of this portion of Isaiah, there was during that long period only one opinion. One solitary rabbi in the twelfth centmy suggested a doubt on the subject, but, with the exception of Spinoza, was not followed by either Jews or Christians. It was not until men had ceased to believe in Christ that they began to question the latter prophecy of Isaiah. The Buxtorfs, the Carpzovs, Glassius, Gussetius, Cocceius, Venema, Vitringa, Scliultens, Danz, the Michiaelis, acquiesced in the judgment of antiquity. Even Paulus says that the diction is as pure as in the other parts of Isaiah. Eichhorn adduced no instances of later language. Bertholdt confesses that there are no traces of later usage. The first, and the great objection still, is that Cyrus is mentioned by name. When men came to teach either that God could not know beforehand the name of one of His creatures, or, if He could, could not or would not communicate it before the existence of that creature, they necessarily thought that the prediction concerning the conqueror of Babylon must have been written after his appearance. The denial of the genuineness came first, the criticism came after, similar to that famous course of law which first condemned and executed, and afterwards proceeded to trial. Yet the process has led to beneficial results. The Kationalist dogmatic criticism has been subjected to a thorough examination by Hengstenberg, Havernik, Kleinert, Drechsler, Keil, and others. The objections have been fiiirly met, and the claims of Isaiah to the latter chapters vindicated on various grounds, as, for example, the plain references to those chaj)ters in the books of Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah; the circumstances of the times described, so exactly agreeing to the days of Isaiah, not to the close of the exile; the historical relations; the similarity of style and manner — the peculiarities of diction; the entire tone and colouring, not to mention other evidences external and internal. Indeed, Ewald and Bleek have made a fatal rent in the adverse criticism by confessing that the passage lvi. 9 — lvii. 11, was written before the exile. “This passage,” they say, “may be received with the highest probability as a prophetic oracle, uttered before the exile, perhaps by Isaiah himself; more probably not long before the exile, certainly at a time when the Jewish State still existed, as it is only on this supposition that the contents and composition can be understood.” [ ]
20. Even that chapter which invests the controversy with its chief interest (liii. 1 — 12) is supposed by Ewald to be the work of a prophet anterior to the author of the other chapters; and, referring to the strong traits of personal individuality, not personification, especially in verse 8, he says — ” The belief of after times, that the historic Messiah is here to he found, lay certainly very near at hand.” [ ] Indeed the prophetic picture of the sufferings of Jesus of Nazareth is so lifelike, that when it has been for the first time brought before Jews ignorant of the passage, they have affirmed that the chapter has been inserted in the Christian editions of the Hebrew Bible; whilst others, not a few, have been brought by it to faith in Christ. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that for more than seventeen centuries the Christian Church received the prophecy as genuine; and that the Fathers, the medieval writers, the Eeformers, Protestants and Romanists after the Reformation, with the one exception of Grotius, interpreted it of our Lord, until Deistic infidelity found its way into the hearts and minds of so-called Christian divines, and the necessities of the new theology imperatively demanded a new interpretation. First Neology and then Rationalism set to work, and the result is a curious specimen of the alleged agreement of modern German expositors of prophecy. Here is one of the most striking and extended prophecies to be found in the Bible; not an obscure verse, where agreement is impossible, but an oracle running through twenty -seven chapters; and yet German commentators have not yet decided as to the fundamental principle of interpretation, whether the subject is an individual or a personified aggregate. Neither do the two parties formed by this difference agree among themselves. Of the first class, some interpret it of King Uzziah, others of Josiah, others of the prophet Isaiah himself, others of an unknown prophet persecuted and killed in the exile; [ ] Bunsen alone, after Grotius, of the prophet Jeremiah. In the second class, the greatest names of Germany stand arrayed against each other. Eichhorn, Heudewerck, Koster, Hitzig, Ewald, Beck, interpret the prophecy of ths Jewish people, actual or ideal. Paulus, Thenius, Maurer, von Colln, Knobel, say that “The servant of the Lord” means the better portion of the exiles. Rosenmuller, Gesenius, De Wette, assert that he is a personification of the collective prophetic order. [ ] For several of these interpretations, these distinguished writers are indebted to Jewish polemics. The application to Josiah was invented by Abarbanel in the sixteenth century; that to Jeremiah by Saadiah Gaon, in the ninth century; that to the whole Jewish people was known to the Jews with whom Origen disputed, and is most generally accepted by modern Jews; that to the pious or better portion of the people is found in Kashi, in the eleventh century. The ancient Jewish interpretation was that which referred the prophecy to the Messiah. From the LXX it can be inferred with certainty that they distinguished between the servant of the Lord and the people of Israel. This is evident from their translation of xlii. 6 and xlix, 6, where they plainly make the Lord’s servant “The raiser up of Jacob,” and “The restorer of the dispersion of Israel,” and “a covenant of the people,” which words cause such difficulties to Eationalist interpreters as to make them violate the commonest proprieties of Hebrew idiom. When, therefore, the LXX. inserted the words ” Jacob ” and ” Israel ” in xlii. 1, — ” Jacob is my servant, and I will help him: Israel is mine elect, my soul hath accepted him,” — they did not mean to apply those words to the people, but to give to the servant of the Lord that title which he has in the Hebrew text in xlix. 3. ” And He said to me. Thou art my servant: Israel art thou, in whom I will be glorified,” [ ] where Gesenius, and before him J. D. Michaelis, in order to get rid of the plain meaning, propose to set critical authority at defiance, and oust the word “Israel” from the text. The LXX. have it here all right, where they plainly distinguish between the Lord’s servant and the people, and thereby prove that they thought the words ” Jacob ” and “Israel” titles of this servant, and not the name of the people. And, therefore, in xlii. 19, “Who is blind but my servant? or deaf as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?” which they interpret of the people, and not of the servant; they turn the singulars into plurals to prevent mistake — ***.
The early traditions of the Hebraist Jews are clear and unequivocal, and are identical with the New Testament interpretation, as is admitted even by the modern Rabbis, [ ] who, for polemical reasons, interpret differently. Aben Esra, in the twelfth century, says, “Many have interpreted this chapter of Messiah, because our ancients of blessed memory have said that Messiah was born the same day that the Temple was destroyed, and that he is bound in chains.” Rabbi Alshech, who flourished in Palestine in the middle of the sixteenth century, makes a similar confession — “Behold our Rabbis have with one mouth confirmed, and received by tradition that King Messiah is here spoken of . . . He beareth the iniquities of the children of Israel, and behold His reward is with Him.” The truth of these confessions may be seen by consulting the ancient books of authority. In Isai. xlii. 1, and lii. 13, Jonathan, about the time of our Lord, adds Messiah after the word “servant;” “Behold, my servant, the Messiah.” The book of Zohar, regarded with the utmost reverence by all pious Jews, and parts of which are certainly from the first century of Christianity, also says plainly that Messiah bears the sins of the people, and that “If he had not removed them from Israel and taken them upon himself, no man could bear the chastisement of Israel on account of the punishment pronounced in the Law. This is what is written — Surely He hath home our sicknesses.” The Talmud (Sanhedrin, vol. 98, col. 2), the Psikta, and Yalkut Shimoni, all have the same interpretation. “Behold my servant shall deal very prudently — this is the King Messiah. He shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high. He shall be exalted more than Abraham … He shall be extolled more than Moses … He shall be higher than the ministering angels. ‘But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.’ Rabbi Huna, in the name of Rabbi Acha says, the chastisements were divided into three parts: — one to David and the fathers; one to the rebellious generation; and one to King Messiah.” Indeed, such possession had this interpretation of the Jewish mind, that it found its way into the prayers of the Synagogue, and there it remains until this day. In the Liturgy for the Day of Atonement is found the following remarkable passage, which is given from David Levi’s edition of the Synagogue service books, and in his translation. “Before He created anything, He established His dwelling (the temple) and Yinnon. [ ] Our righteous anointed is departed from us: horror hath seized us and we have none to justify. He hath borne the yoke of our iniquities, and of our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression. He beareth our sins on His shoulder that He may first pardon for our iniquities. We shall be healed by His wound at the time that the Eternal will create Him (the Messiah) as a new creature, bring Him up from the circle of the earth, raise Him up from Seir, to assemble us the second time on Lebanon by the hand of Yinnon. [ ] The Jewish editor, David Levi, endeavours to break the force of this passage by a note, explaining “our righteous anointed” of Josiah. But as he confesses that the whole passage refers to the Messiah, with whose name it begins and ends, and as the Hebrew words for “our righteous anointed One,” literally, “Messiah our righteousness,” are a common Rabbinic designation of the Messiah, taken from Jer. xxiii. 6, this interpretation can only be regarded as a polemic evasion to avert the Jewish mind from the Christian interpretation of Isai. liii. Even in Levi’s translation the passage speaks for itself, and as found in the service for the most solemn day in the whole Jewish year, proves that the Messianic interpretation was not only the ancient, but the national reception of the chapter. The Rabbinic tradition of two Messiahs, one to suffer and the other to reign, seems also to be a witness or a homage to the ancient interpretation of this chapter, and to the deep national conviction of the need of an atonement. That this national persuasion ought to have some weight, even if not supported by the New Testament, will be admitted by candid readers. It acquires double weight from the fact that this interpretation is contrary to the worldly hopes of a conquering Messiah, so ardently entertained in the days of Roman domination in Palestine, and to which Rabbinic polemics still return in order to prove that Jesus cannot be the Messiah, With such hopes and prejudices, the idea of a suffering and despised Messiah could never have arisen, nor have been entertained, if it had not previously existed, and been received as true and genuine. The idea of pardon and salvation through the sufferings of another was equally contrary to the self-righteous doctrine of the Pharisees. The existence and continuance of such an interpretation is, therefore, strong proof of its antiquity, and of its original source. The national interpretation of one of their own records, under such considerations, ought to have at least as much weight as the discordant and controverted opinions of critics living, according to their own showing, 2300 years after the record was written, and filled with antecedent prejudices against a true exegesis.
He must indeed be a man “that leans to his own understanding,” who can lightly esteem the judgment of the ancient Jewish Church, and the common consent of all Christian scholars for nearly 1800 years, [ ] and believe that he has found what such a goodly company have failed to perceive. But the Christian bows to still higher authority than the common judgment of this mighty host of the great, the good, the wise, and the learned, in so many ages and nations; he learns from Him whose Spirit spake in the prophets, and guided His disciples and Apostles into all truth. Christ and His Apostles have interpreted this chapter of His sufferings, death, and resurrection-glory; and the providence of God has verified the interpretation. Not to speak of the past, our eyes still see the fulfilment of this prediction. The most improbable prophecy in the world was this which predicted that a Jew, despised by his people, numbered amongst transgressors, cut off out of the land of the living, should, nevertheless, prolong his days, be the light of the Gentiles, and God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. And yet this is what has been accomplished, and is accomplishing itself before our eyes. In spite of all the pride, prejudice, and power of Greeks and Romans, the ignorance and fury of barbarian invaders, the self-sufficiency of human knowledge, the vices of civilisation, Jesus of Nazareth has triumphed, and triumphs, and is still the light of the world. The Christian humbly and thankfully accepts the teaching of the Lord, and the testimony of God’s providence. The wondrous outline stands vividly marked on the page of prophecy; the fulfilment as unmistakably inscribed on the prominent pages of the world’s history. The one answers to the other, as the mirror to the human face, and he cannot be mistaken. No microscopic investigations of criticism can make the agreement doubtful. He does not despise or disregard the labours of even hostile critics. On the contrary, he carefully considers their every suggestion, thankfully receives the light which they have thrown on words and phrases, acknowledges their diligence, their genius, their learning, and their honesty, so far as their dogmatic prejudices allow them to be impartial. But Christ has spoken, and by Christ’s words he abides. He, therefore, believes that the prophets spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; that they uttered predictions; that many of the most seemingly improbable have been fulfilled, and are pledges that the remainder shall also be accomplished. He cannot join in the unbelieving cry, “Where is the promise of His coming?” He does not believe that “since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,” but that Christ “in His majesty rides prosperously on in the cause of truth, and meekness, and righteousness;” and “though the vision tarry,” he waits for it, assured that it is “for an appointed time,” and that “at the end it shall speak and not lie — it will surely come, it will not tarry.”