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Christology of the Old Testament: And a Commentary on the Messianic Predictions, v. 1
by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
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classicus_ concerning it, already quoted.—We now, moreover, cite the parallel passages which serve as an explanation of the passage under consideration, and as a confirmation of the explanation which we have given. The most important is Ezek. xx. 34-38: "And I bring you _out from the nations_, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand and with a stretched-out arm, and with fury poured out. And I bring you into the _wilderness of the nations_, and there will I plead with you face to face; like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead there with you, saith the Lord God. And I cause you to pass under the rod, and bring you into the bond of the covenant, and purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me; out of the land of your pilgrimage (the standing designation of Egypt in the Pentateuch) I will bring them forth, and into the land of Israel they shall not come, and ye shall know that I am the Lord." Here also, the stay in the wilderness appears as a state of trial, lying in the middle between the abode among the nations (corresponding to the bondage in Egypt, which was so not merely bodily, but spiritual also), and the possession of Canaan. And the result of this trial is a different one, according to the different condition of the individuals. Some shall be altogether destroyed; even the appearance of the communion with the Lord, which they hitherto maintained by having come out of the land of pilgrimage along with the others, shall be taken away; whilst the others, by the very means which brought about the destruction of the former, shall be confirmed in their communion with the Lord, and be more closely united to Him. Hosea, who, in consequence of the personification of the Congregation of Israel, has the whole more in view, regards chiefly the latter feature. A very remarkable circumstance in Ezekiel, however, requires to be still more minutely considered; because it promotes essentially the right understanding of the passage before us. What is meant [Pg 259] by the "wilderness of the nations?" Several interpreters think that it is the wilderness between Babylon and Judea. Thus, for example, _Manger_: "_I am disposed to think_ that the desert of Arabia itself is here called the wilderness of the nations, on account of the different nomadic tribes which are accustomed to wander through it." _Rosenmueller_ says: "He _seems_ to speak here of those vast solitudes which the Jews had to pass through, on their way from Babylon to Judea." But this "I am disposed to think," and this "he seems," on the part of these interpreters, show that they themselves felt the insufficiency of their own explanation. That nomadic tribes are straying through that wilderness, is not at all essential, and can therefore not be mentioned here, where only the essential feature—the nature and substance of the leading through the wilderness—are concerned. And we cannot at all perceive why just the wilderness between Babylon and Judea should be called the wilderness of the nations. It was no more travelled by nomadic tribes than was any other wilderness. And just as little was it characteristic of it, that it bordered upon the territories of various nations (_Hitzig_). Such a designation would throw us upon the territory of mere conjecture, on which we are, in Holy Scripture, never thrown, except through our own fault. But it is quite decisive that the words, "I bring you out of the wilderness of the nations," stand in a close relation to the words, "I bring you out from the nations." From this it appears that the nations, to which the Israelites are to be brought, cannot be any other than those, out of the midst of whom they are to be led. In the first leading out of the Israelites, the two spiritual conditions were separated externally also. The first belonged to Egypt; the second, to the wilderness. But it shall not be thus, in this announced repetition of the leading. It is only spiritually that the Israelites, at the commencement of the second condition, shall be led out from among the nations, in the midst of whom they, outwardly, still continue to be. The wilderness is in the second Egypt itself. The stay in the wilderness is repeated as to its essence only, and not as to its accidental outward form; just as in Zech. x. 12, the words, "And he passeth through the sea," which apparently might imply a repetition of the outward form merely, are limited to the substance by the subjoined "affliction." From this we obtain for our passage (_Hitzig_ likewise [Pg 260] remarks: Ezek. xx. 34-38 seems to depend on Hosea ii. 16) the important result, that the leading of God which is here announced, is not limited to a definite place, and as little, to a definite time. And what is true of the leading through the wilderness, must necessarily apply to the leading into Canaan also. Just as Egypt might begin, and actually did begin, even in Palestine, inasmuch as Israel was there in a condition of heavy spiritual and bodily bondage;—just as, spiritually, they might already be in the wilderness, though, outwardly, they were still under Asshur; so, the stay in the wilderness might, relatively, have still continued in Canaan, even although—which did not happen—the whole people should have returned thither with Zerubbabel. What is it that makes Canaan to be Canaan, the promised land, the land of the Lord? It is just this:—that the Lord is there present with all His gifts and blessings. But such was by no means the case in the new colony. Because the spiritual condition of those who had returned was in conformity with the second—in part, even with the first—rather than with. the last station, their outward condition was so likewise. John the Baptist symbolized this continuation of the condition of the wilderness, by his appearing _in the wilderness_, with the preaching of repentance, and with. the announcement, that now the introduction to the true Canaan was near at hand. By proclaiming himself as the voice crying in the wilderness, announced by Isaiah, he showed with sufficient plainness how false was that carnal view which, without being able to distinguish the thought from its drapery, understood, and still understands, by the wilderness spoken of in this prophecy, some piece of land, limited as to space, and then murmured that the actual limit did not correspond with the fancied one.—As in the case of Israel, so in ours also, these conditions are distinguished, not absolutely, but relatively only. Even he who has, in one respect, been already led through to Canaan, remains, in another respect, in the wilderness still. Canaan, in the full sense, does not belong to the present world, but to the future, as regards both the single individual, and the whole Church.—Another parallel passage is Jer. xxxi. 1, 2: "At this time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. Thus saith the Lord, The people who have escaped from the sword find mercy in the wilderness; [Pg 261] I go to give rest to Israel." In Rev. xii. 6, 14, the wilderness likewise designates the state of trial and temptation.—[Hebrew: dbr el-lb], properly "to speak over the heart," because the words fall down upon the heart, signifies an affectionate and consolatory address; compare Gen. xxxiv. 3 ("And he loved the damsel, and spoke over the heart of the damsel"), l. 21; Is. xl. 2. Here they signify that the wife is comforted after she had been so deeply cast down by the consciousness of her former unfaithfulness, and by the experience of its bitter consequences. The view of those who would here think only of the comforting words of the prophets is much too limited,—although these words are, of course, included. We must chiefly think of the _sermo realis_ of the Lord, of all the proofs of affectionate and tender love, whereby He gives rest to the weary and heavy-laden, and brings it about, that those who were formerly unfaithful, but who now suffer themselves to be led by Him out of the spiritual bondage into the spiritual wilderness, can now put confidence in Him; just as, formerly. He comforted Israel in the wilderness, in the waste and desolate land, in the land of drought and of the shadow of death (Jer. ii. 6), and affectionately cared for all their wants, in order that they might know that He is the Lord their God, Deut. xxix. 4, 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Pg 268]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three symbolical names of the children of the prophet here once more return. The femin. suffix in [Hebrew: zretih], referring to [Hebrew: izreal], need not at all surprise us; for, in the whole passage before us, the sign disappears in the thing signified. In point of fact, however, Jezreel is equivalent to Israel to be sowed anew. (It is not the Israel to be planted anew, which is a figure altogether different; the sowing has always a reference to the increase.)

Footnote 1: In our authorized version [Hebrew: mwpT] is almost constantly rendered by "judgment," although evidently in the sense pointed out by the author,—for which reason, this rendering has been retained here.—Tr.



CHAPTER III.

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Pg 291]

THE PROPHET JOEL.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

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

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

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

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

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

We must indeed be astonished that Hitzig, Ewald, Meier, Baur, and others, after the example of Credner, have likewise declared in favour of the view that the prophecies of Joel were composed under Joash. None of the arguments, however, by which they attempt to support their view, can stand examination.

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

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

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

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

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