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ב״ה
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(Isaiah 2:3)

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K’tuvim
(Writings)

In This Section

Ketuvim (Hebrew: כְּתוּבִים‎ Kəṯûḇîm, “writings”) is the third and final section of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), after Torah (instruction) and Nevi'im (prophets). In English translations of the Hebrew Bible, this section is usually titled “Writings.” Another name used for this section is Hagiographa.

Found among the Writings within the Hebrew scriptures, I and II Chronicles form one book, along with Ezra and Nehemiah which form a single unit entitled “Ezra–Nehemiah.” In citations by chapter and verse numbers, however, the Hebrew equivalent names of “Nehemiah” (Nechemyah), “I Chronicles” (Divrei-HaYamim Aleph) and “II Chronicles” (Divrei HaYamim Bet) are used, as the system of chapter and verse division was imported from Christian usage. Collectively, eleven books are included in the Ketuvim.

Groups of books

The poetic books

In Masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs, and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stichs in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (Hebrew: סִפְרֵי אֶמֶת‎ sip̄rēi ʾemeṯ “documents of truth” — an acronym of the titles of the three books in Hebrew, איוב, משלי, תהלים yields אמ״ת Emet, which is also the Hebrew for “truth”).

These three books are also the only ones in the Hebrew Bible with a special system of cantillation[1] notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.

The five scrolls (Hamesh Megillot)

The five relatively short books of Song of Songs (Pesach / Passover), Ruth (Shavuot / Weeks), Lamentations (Kinnot / 9th of Av), Ecclesiastes (Sukkot / Tabernacles), and Esther (Purim / Lots) are collectively known as the Hamesh Megillot (Five Scrolls). These are the latest books collected and designated as “authoritative” in the Hebrew canon. These scrolls are traditionally read over the course of the year (on the holidays specifed above) in many Jewish communities.

History

Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, Ezra–Nehemiah and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics:

_______________

 1. Cantillation: the practice in Jewish liturgy of a chanting or reciting with certain prescribed musical phrases indicated by notations. The verb used to describe this practice is “canting” (chanting). [RETURN]

 

 

T’hillim (Psalms)

The Hebrew title of this book is Tehilim ("praises" or "hymns"), for a leading feature in its contents is praise, though the word occurs in the title of only one Psalm (the hundred forty-fifth). The Greek title (in the Septuagint, a translation made two hundred years before Christ) is psalmoi, whence our word "Psalms." This corresponds to the Hebrew word mizmoi by which sixty-five Psalms are designated in their inscriptions, and which the Syriac, a language like the Hebrew, uses for the whole book. It means, as does also the Greek name, an ode, or song, whose singing is accompanied by an instrument, particularly the harp (compare 1 Chronicles 16:4-8 ; 2 Chronicles 5:12 2 Chronicles 5:13 Psalms, the Hebrew word (shir) "a song," is prefixed. Paul seems to allude to all these terms in Ephesians 5:19 psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs."

TITLES.--To more than a hundred Psalms are prefixed inscriptions, which give one or more (and in one case, [Psalm 60], all) of these particulars: the direction to the musician, the name of the author or the instrument, the style of the music or of the poetry, the subject or occasion. The authority of these inscriptions has been disputed by some writers. They say that the earliest translators, as the Greek and Syriac, evince a disregard for their authority, by variations from a proper translation of some, altering others, and, in several instances, supplying titles to Psalms which, in Hebrew, had none. It is also alleged that the subject of a Psalm, as given in the title, is often inconsistent with its contents. But those translators have also varied from a right translation of many passages in the Bible, which all agree to be of good authority; and the alleged inconsistency may be shown, on more accurate investigation, not to exist. The admitted antiquity of these inscriptions, on the other hand, and even their obscurity, raise a presumption in their favor, while such prefaces to a composition accord with the usages of that age and part of the world (compare Isaiah 38:9

"The Chief Musician" was the superintendent of the music (compare "to oversee," 1 Chronicles 15:21 means, "pertaining to" in his official character. This inscription is found in fifty-three Psalms and is attached to Habakkuk's prayer ( Habakkuk 3:1-19 of the author and translated "of," as "a Psalm of David," "of Asaph," except that to "the sons of Korah," it is translated "for," which is evidently wrong, as the usual direction, "to the chief musician," is given, and no other authorship intimated. On the apparent exception to this last remark, see below, and title. The explanations of other particulars in the titles will be given as they occur.

AUTHORS.--This book is often called "The Psalms of David," he being the only author mentioned in the New Testament ( Luke 20:42 name appearing in more titles than that of any other writer. Besides about one-half of the Psalms in which it thus appears, Psalms 2 and 95 are ascribed to him ( Acts 4:25 the author of many others which appear without a name. He used great efforts to beautify the worship of the sanctuary. Among the two hundred eighty-eight Levites he appointed for singing and performing instrumental music, we find mentioned the "sons of Korah" ( 1 Chronicles 9:19 ( 1 Chronicles 6:39-44 pleased to endow these men with the inspiration of His Spirit, so that they used those poetic talents which their connection with the kindred art of music had led them to cultivate, in the production of compositions like those of their king and patron. To Asaph are ascribed twelve Psalms; to the sons of Korah, eleven, including the eighty-eighth, which is also ascribed to Heman, that being the only instance in which the name of the "son" (or descendant) is mentioned; and to Ethan, one. Solomon's name appears before the seventy-second and hundred twenty-seventh; and that of Moses before the ninetieth. Special questions respecting authorship will be explained as they arise.

CONTENTS.--As the book contains one hundred fifty independent compositions, it is not susceptible of any logical analysis. The Jews having divided it into five books, corresponding to the Five Books of Moses (First, Psalms 1-42; Second, Psalms 43-72; Third, Psalms 73-89; Fourth, Psalms 90-106; Fifth, Psalms 107-150), many attempts have been made to discover, in this division, some critical or practical value, but in vain. Sundry efforts have been made to classify the Psalms by subject. Angus' Bible Hand Book is perhaps the most useful, and is appended.

Still the Psalms have a form and character peculiar to themselves; and with individual diversities of style and subject, they all assimilate to that form, and together constitute a consistent system of moral truth. They are all poetical, and of that peculiar parallelism distinguished Hebrew poetry. They are all lyrical, or songs adapted to musical instruments, and all religious lyrics, or such as were designed to be used in the sanctuary worship.

The distinguishing feature of the Psalms is their devotional character. Whether their matter be didactic, historical, prophetical, or practical, it is made the ground or subject of prayer, or praise, or both. The doctrines of theology and precepts of pure morality are here inculcated. God's nature, attributes, perfections, and works of creation, providence, and grace, are unfolded. In the sublimest conceptions of the most exalted verse, His glorious supremacy over the principalities of heaven, earth, and hell, and His holy, wise, and powerful control of all material and immaterial agencies, are celebrated. The great covenant of grace resting on the fundamental promise of a Redeemer, both alike the provisions of God's exhaustless mercy, is set forth in respect of the doctrines of regeneration by the Spirit, forgiveness of sins, repentance toward God, and faith toward Jesus Christ, while its glorious results, involving the salvation of men "from the ends of the earth" [ Acts 13:47 believing, prophetic prayer and thankful praise. The personal history of the authors, and especially David's in its spiritual aspects, is that of God's people generally. Christian biography is edifying only as it is truth illustrated in experience, such as God's Word and Spirit produce. It may be factitious in origin and of doubtful authenticity. But here the experience of the truly pious is detailed, under divine influence, and "in words which the Holy Ghost" taught [ 1 Corinthians 2:13 The whole inner life of the pious man is laid open, and Christians of all ages have here the temptations, conflicts, perplexities, doubts, fears, penitent moanings, and overwhelming griefs on the one hand, and the joy and hope of pardoning mercy, the victory over the seductions of false-hearted flatterers, and deliverance from the power of Satan on the other, with which to compare their own spiritual exercises. Here, too, are the fruits of that sovereign mercy, so often sought in earnest prayer, and when found, so often sung in rapturous joy, exhibited by patience in adversity, moderation in prosperity, zeal for God's glory, love for man, justice to the oppressed, holy contempt for the proud, magnanimity towards enemies, faithfulness towards friends, delight in the prosperity of Zion, and believing prayer for her enlargement and perpetuity.

The historical summaries of the Psalms are richly instructive. God's choice of the patriarchs, the sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt, their exodus, temptations of God, rebellions and calamities in the wilderness, settlement in Canaan, backslidings and reformations, furnish illustrations of God's providential government of His people, individually and collectively, tending to exalt His adorable grace and abase human pride. But the promises and prophecies connected with these summaries, and elsewhere presented in the Psalms, have a far wider reach, exhibiting the relations of the book to the great theme of promise and prophecy:

THE MESSIAH AND HIS KINGDOM.--David was God's chosen servant to rule His people, as the head at once of the State and the Church, the lineal ancestor, "according to the flesh" [ Acts 2:30 ; Romans 1:3 adorable Son, and His type, in His official relations, both in suffering and in triumph. Generally, David's trials by the ungodly depicted the trials of Christ, and his final success the success of Christ's kingdom. Typically, he uses language describing his feelings, which only finds its full meaning in the feelings of Christ. As such it is quoted and applied in the New Testament. And further, in view of the great promise ( 2 Samuel 7:12-16 frequent reference is made in the Psalms, David was inspired to know, that though his earthly kingdom should perish, his spiritual would ever endure, in the power, beneficence, and glory of Christ's. In repeating and amplifying that promise, he speaks not only as a type, but "being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne," he "foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. His incarnation, humiliating sorrows, persecution, and cruel death are disclosed in the plaintive cries of a despairing sufferer; and His resurrection and ascension, His eternal priesthood, His royal dignity, His prophetical office, the purchase and bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit, the conversion of the nations, the establishment, increase, and perpetuity of the Church, the end of time, and the blessedness of the righteous who acknowledge, and the ruin of the wicked who reject this King in Zion, are predicted in the language of assured confidence and joy." While these great themes have supplied the people of God with a popular theology and a guide in religious experience and Christian morality, clothed in the language of devotion, they have provided an inspired liturgy in which the pious, of all creeds and sects, have, for nearly three thousand years, poured out their prayers and praises. The pious Jew, before the coming of Christ, mourned over the adversity, or celebrated the future glories, of Zion, in the words of her ancient king. Our Saviour, with His disciples, sang one of these hymns on the night on which He was betrayed [ Matthew 26:30 dreadful sorrows of His soul [ Matthew 27:46 another on His lips [ Luke 23:46 [ Acts 16:25 worship, or the costly churches of a later day, and the scattered and feeble Christian flocks in the prevalence of darkness and error through the Middle Ages, fed their faith and warmed their love with these consoling songs. Now, throughout the Christian world, in untold forms of version, paraphrase, and imitation, by Papists and Protestants, Prelatists and Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Methodists--men of all lands and all creeds, in public and private worship, God is still adored in the sentiments expressed in these venerable Psalms. From the tone of sorrow and suffering which pervade their earlier portions we are gradually borne on amid alternate conflicts and triumphs, mournful complaints and awakening confidence; as we approach the close the tones of sorrow grow feebler, and those of praise wax louder and stronger--till, in the exulting strains of the last Psalm, the chorus of earth mingles with the hallelujahs of the multitude, which no man can number, in the sanctuary above.

Angus' or Bickersteth's arrangement may be profitably used as a guide for finding a Psalm on a special topic. It is a little modified, as follows:

Note.--The compiler of the following notes has omitted all references to authors, as needlessly encumbering the commentary. He has had before him the works of CALVIN, SCOTT, POOLE, AINSWORTH, COBBIN, GEICE, VATABLUS, THOLUCK, J. H. MICHAELIS, ROSENMULLER, and ALEXANDER. To the two last named he has been particularly indebted for the parallel passages. He has made a free use of the views advanced by these authors, and claims no credit for anything in the work except the conciseness united with fullness of exposition. Whoever attempts it will find it far easier to write a long commentary than a brief one.

Mishlei (Proverbs)

I. THE NATURE AND USE OF PROVERBS.--A proverb is a pithy sentence, concisely expressing some well-established truth susceptible of various illustrations and applications. The word is of Latin derivation, literally meaning for a word, speech, or discourse; that is, one expression for many. The Hebrew word for "proverb" (mashal) means a "comparison." Many suppose it was used, because the form or matter of the proverb, or both, involved the idea of comparison. Most of the proverbs are in couplets or triplets, or some modifications of them, the members of which correspond in structure and length, as if arranged to be compared one with another. They illustrate the varieties of parallelism, a distinguishing feature of Hebrew poetry. Many also clearly involve the idea of comparison in the sentiments expressed (compare Proverbs 12:1-10 ; 25:10-15 ; 26:1-9 omission of one member of the comparison, exercising the reader's sagacity or study for its supply, presents the proverb as a "riddle" or "dark saying" (compare Proverbs 30:15-33 ; 1:6 ; Psalms 49:4 form of expression, which thus became a marked feature of the proverbial style, was also adopted for continuous discourse, even when not always preserving traces of comparison, either in form or matter (compare Proverbs 1:1-9:18 word properly translated "parable," to designate an illustrative discourse. Then the Greek translators have used a word, parabola ("parable"), which the gospel writers (except John) employ for our Lord's discourses of the same character, and which also seems to involve the idea of comparison, though that may not be its primary meaning. It might seem, therefore, that the proverbial and parabolic styles of writing were originally and essentially the same. The proverb is a "concentrated parable, and the parable an extension of the proverb by a full illustration." The proverb is thus the moral or theme of a parable, which sometimes precedes it, as in Matthew 19:30 Proverbs 20:1 style being poetical, and adapted to the expression of a high order of poetical sentiment, such as prophecy, we find the same term used to designate such compositions (compare Numbers 23:7 ; Micah 2:4 ; Habakkuk 2:6

Though the Hebrews used the same term for proverb and parable, the Greek employs two, though the sacred writers have not always appeared to recognize a distinction. The term for proverb is, paroimia, which the Greek translators employ for the title of this book, evidently with special reference to the later definition of a proverb, as a trite, sententious form of speech, which appears to be the best meaning of the term. John uses the same term to designate our Saviour's instructions, in view of their characteristic obscurity (compare Proverbs 16:25-29 and even for his illustrative discourses ( Proverbs 10:6 sense was not at once obvious to all his hearers. This form of instruction was well adapted to aid the learner. The parallel structure of sentences, the repetition, contrast, or comparison of thought, were all calculated to facilitate the efforts of memory; and precepts of practical wisdom which, extended into logical discourses, might have failed to make abiding impressions by reason of their length or complicated character, were thus compressed into pithy, and, for the most part, very plain statements. Such a mode of instruction has distinguished the written or traditional literature of all nations, and was, and still is, peculiarly current in the East.

In this book, however, we are supplied with a proverbial wisdom commended by the seal of divine inspiration. God has condescended to become our teacher on the practical affairs belonging to all the relations of life. He has adapted His instruction to the plain and unlettered, and presented, in this striking and impressive method, the great principles of duty to Him and to our fellow men. To the prime motive of all right conduct, the fear of God, are added all lawful and subordinate incentives, such as honor, interest, love, fear, and natural affection. Besides the terror excited by an apprehension of God's justly provoked judgments, we are warned against evil-doing by the exhibition of the inevitable temporal results of impiety, injustice, profligacy, idleness, laziness, indolence, drunkenness, and debauchery. To the rewards of true piety which follow in eternity, are promised the peace, security, love, and approbation of the good, and the comforts of a clear conscience, which render this life truly happy.

II. INSPIRATION AND AUTHORSHIP.--With no important exception, Jewish and Christian writers have received this book as the inspired production of Solomon. It is the first book of the Bible prefaced by the name of the author. The New Testament abounds with citations from the Proverbs. Its intrinsic excellence commends it to us as the production of a higher authority than the apocryphal writings, such as Wisdom or Ecclesiasticus. Solomon lived five hundred years before the "seven wise men" of Greece, and seven hundred before the age of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is thus very evident, whatever theory of his sources of knowledge be adopted, that he did not draw upon any heathen repositories with which we are acquainted. It is far more probable, that by the various migrations, captivities, and dispersions of the Jews, heathen philosophers drew from this inspired fountain many of those streams which continue to refresh mankind amid the otherwise barren and parched deserts of profane literature.

As, however, the Psalms are ascribed to David, because he was the leading author, so the ascription of this book to Solomon is entirely consistent with the titles of the thirtieth and thirty-first chapters, which assign those chapters to Agur and Lemuel respectively. Of these persons we know nothing. This is not the place for discussing the various speculations respecting them. By a slight change of reading some propose to translate Proverbs 30:1 her who was obeyed Massa," that is, "the queen of Massa"; and Proverbs 31:1 earliest versions are contradictory, and nothing other than the strongest exegetical necessity ought to be allowed to justify a departure from a well-established reading and version when nothing useful to our knowledge is gained. It is better to confess ignorance than indulge in useless conjectures.

It is probable that out of the "three thousand proverbs" ( 1 Kings 4:32 Proverbs 1:1-24:34 production, and copied out in the days of Hezekiah, by his "men," perhaps the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah. Such a work was evidently in the spirit of this pious monarch, who set his heart so fully on a reformation of God's worship. Learned men have endeavored to establish the theory that Solomon himself was only a collector; or that the other parts of the book, as these chapters, were also selections by later hands; but the reasons adduced to maintain these views have never appeared so satisfactory as to change the usual opinions on the subject, which have the sanction of the most ancient and reliable authorities.

III. DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK.--Such a work is, of course, not susceptible of any logical analysis. There are, however, some well-defined marks of division, so that very generally the book is divided into five or six parts.

1. The first contains nine chapters, in which are discussed and enforced by illustration, admonition, and encouragement the principles and blessings of wisdom, and the pernicious schemes and practices of sinful persons. These chapters are introductory. With few specimens of the proper proverb, they are distinguished by its conciseness and terseness. The sentences follow very strictly the form of parallelism, and generally of the synonymous species, only forty of the synthetic and four ( Proverbs 3:32-35 ornate, the figures bolder and fuller, and the illustrations more striking and extended.

2. The antithetic and synthetic parallelism to the exclusion of the synonymous distinguish Proverbs 10:1-22:16 unconnected, each containing a complete sense in itself.

3. Proverbs 22:16-24:34 addressed to a pupil, and generally each topic occupies two or more verses.

4. Proverbs 25:1-29:27 portion, for the reason given above as to its origin. The style is very much mixed; of the peculiarities, compare parts two and three.

5. Proverbs 30:1-33 a specimen of the kind of proverb which has been described as "dark sayings" or "riddles."

6. To a few pregnant but concise admonitions, suitable for a king, is added a most inimitable portraiture of female character. In both parts five and six the distinctive peculiarity of the original proverbial style gives place to the modifications already mentioned as marking a later composition, though both retain the concise and nervous method of stating truth, equally valuable for its deep impression and permanent retention by the memory.

 

Iyov (Job)

JOB A REAL PERSON.--It has been supposed by some that the book of Job is an allegory, not a real narrative, on account of the artificial character of many of its statements. Thus the sacred numbers, three and seven, often occur. He had seven thousand sheep, seven sons, both before and after his trials; his three friends sit down with him seven days and seven nights; both before and after his trials he had three daughters. So also the number and form of the speeches of the several speakers seem to be artificial. The name of Job, too, is derived from an Arabic word signifying repentance.

But Ezekiel 14:14 conjunction with "Noah and Daniel," real persons. St. James ( James 5:11 he would not have been likely to do had Job been only a fictitious person. Also the names of persons and places are specified with a particularity not to be looked for in an allegory. As to the exact doubling of his possessions after his restoration, no doubt the round number is given for the exact number, as the latter approached near the former; this is often done in undoubtedly historical books. As to the studied number and form of the speeches, it seems likely that the arguments were substantially those which appear in the book, but that the studied and poetic form was given by Job himself, guided by the Holy Spirit. He lived one hundred and forty years after his trials, and nothing would be more natural than that he should, at his leisure, mould into a perfect form the arguments used in the momentous debate, for the instruction of the Church in all ages. Probably, too, the debate itself occupied several sittings; and the number of speeches assigned to each was arranged by preconcerted agreement, and each was allowed the interval of a day or more to prepare carefully his speech and replies; this will account for the speakers bringing forward their arguments in regular series, no one speaking out of his turn. As to the name Job--repentance (supposing the derivation correct)--it was common in old times to give a name from circumstances which occurred at an advanced period of life, and this is no argument against the reality of the person.

WHERE JOB LIVED.--"Uz," according to GESENIUS, means a light, sandy soil, and was in the north of Arabia-Deserta, between Palestine and the Euphrates, called by PTOLEMY (Geography, 19) Ausitai or Aisitai. In Genesis 10:23 ; 22:21 ; 36:28 ; 1 Chronicles 1:17 1 Chronicles 1:42 a man. In Jeremiah 25:20 ; Lamentations 4:21 in Genesis 22:21 different person from the one mentioned ( Genesis 10:23 Shem. The probability is that the country took its name from the latter of the two; for this one was the son of Aram, from whom the Arameans take their name, and these dwelt in Mesopotamia, between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Compare as to the dwelling of the sons of Shem in Genesis 10:30 of the East" ( Job 1:3 Assyrian inscriptions, states that "Uz is the prevailing name of the country at the mouth of the Euphrates." It is probable that Eliphaz the Temanite and the Sabeans dwelt in that quarter; and we know that the Chaldeans resided there, and not near Idumea, which some identify with Uz. The tornado from "the wilderness" ( Job 1:19 view of it being Arabia-Deserta. Job ( Job 1:3 greatest of the men of the East"; but Idumea was not east, but south of Palestine: therefore in Scripture language, the phrase cannot apply to that country, but probably refers to the north of Arabia-Deserta, between Palestine, Idumea, and the Euphrates. So the Arabs still show in the Houran a place called Uz as the residence of Job.

THE AGE WHEN JOB LIVED.--EUSEBIUS fixes it two ages before Moses, that is, about the time of Isaac: eighteen hundred years before Christ, and six hundred after the Deluge. Agreeing with this are the following considerations: 1. Job's length of life is patriarchal, two hundred years. 2. He alludes only to the earliest form of idolatry, namely, the worship of the sun, moon, and heavenly hosts (called Saba, whence arises the title "Lord of Sabaoth," as opposed to Sabeanism) ( Job 31:26-28 seven, as in the case of Balaam. God would not have sanctioned this after the giving of the Mosaic law, though He might graciously accommodate Himself to existing customs before the law. 4. The language of Job is Hebrew, interspersed occasionally with Syriac and Arabic expressions, implying a time when all the Shemitic tribes spoke one common tongue and had not branched into different dialects, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic. 5. He speaks of the most ancient kind of writing, namely, sculpture. Riches also are reckoned by cattle. The Hebrew word, translated "a piece of money," ought rather be rendered "a lamb." 6. There is no allusion to the exodus from Egypt and to the miracles that accompanied it; nor to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (PATRICK, however, thinks there is); though there is to the Flood ( Job 22:17 and these events, happening in Job's vicinity, would have been striking illustrations of the argument for God's interposition in destroying the wicked and vindicating the righteous, had Job and his friends known of them. Nor is there any undoubted reference to the Jewish law, ritual, and priesthood. 7. The religion of Job is that which prevailed among the patriarchs previous to the law; sacrifices performed by the head of the family; no officiating priesthood, temple, or consecrated altar.

THE WRITER.--All the foregoing facts accord with Job himself having been the author. The style of thought, imagery, and manners, are such as we should look for in the work of an Arabian emir. There is precisely that degree of knowledge of primitive tradition (see Job 31:33 days of Noah and Abraham, and which was subsequently embodied in the early chapters of Genesis. Job, in his speeches, shows that he was much more competent to compose the work than Elihu, to whom LIGHTFOOT attributes it. The style forbids its being attributed to Moses, to whom its composition is by some attributed, "whilst he was among the Midianites, about 1520 B.C." But the fact, that it, though not a Jewish book, appears among the Hebrew sacred writings, makes it likely that it came to the knowledge of Moses during the forty years which he passed in parts of Arabia, chiefly near Horeb; and that he, by divine guidance, introduced it as a sacred writing to the Israelites, to whom, in their affliction, the patience and restoration of Job were calculated to be a lesson of especial utility. That it is inspired appears from the fact that Paul ( 1 Corinthians 3:19 with the formula, "It is written." Compare also James 4:10 1 Peter 5:6 is probably the oldest book in the world. It stands among the Hagiographa in the threefold division of Scripture into the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa ("Psalms," Luke 24:44

DESIGN OF THE BOOK.--It is a public debate in poetic form on an important question concerning the divine government; moreover the prologue and epilogue, which are in prose, shed the interest of a living history over the debate, which would otherwise be but a contest of abstract reasonings. To each speaker of the three friends three speeches are assigned. Job having no one to stand by him is allowed to reply to each speech of each of the three. Eliphaz, as the oldest, leads the way. Zophar, at his third turn, failed to speak, thus virtually owning himself overcome ( Job 27:1-23 continued his reply, which forms three speeches ( Job 26:1-14 ; 27:1-23 ; 28:1-28 ; 29:1-31:40 is allowed four speeches. Jehovah makes three addresses ( Job 38:1-41:34 The whole is divided into three parts--the prologue, poem proper, and epilogue. The poem, into three--(1) The dispute of Job and his three friends; (2) The address of Elihu; (3) The address of God. There are three series in the controversy, and in the same order. The epilogue ( Job 42:1-17 reconciliation with his friends, restoration. The speakers also in their successive speeches regularly advance from less to greater vehemence. With all this artificial composition, everything seems easy and natural.

The question to be solved, as exemplified in the case of Job, is, Why are the righteous afflicted consistently with God's justice? The doctrine of retribution after death, no doubt, is the great solution of the difficulty. And to it Job plainly refers in Job 14:14 Job 19:25 language on the resurrection in Job is inconsistent with the obscurity on the subject in the early books of the Old Testament, is answered by the fact that Job enjoyed the divine vision ( Job 38:1 ; 42:5 therefore, by inspiration, foretold these truths. Next, the revelations made outside of Israel being few needed to be the more explicit; thus Balaam's prophecy ( Numbers 24:17 lead the wise men of the East by the star ( Matthew 2:2 age before the written law, it was the more needful for God not to leave Himself without witness of the truth. Still Job evidently did not fully realize the significance designed by the Spirit in his own words (compare 1 Peter 1:11 1 Peter 1:12 plainly revealed or at least understood. Hence he does not mainly refer to this solution. Yes, and even now, we need something in addition to this solution. David, who firmly believed in a future retribution ( Psalms 16:10 ; 17:15 entirely solved thereby ( Psalms 83:1-18 Job's or in his three friends' speeches. It must, therefore, be in Elihu's. God will hold a final judgment, no doubt, to clear up all that seems dark in His present dealings; but He also now providentially and morally governs the world and all the events of human life. Even the comparatively righteous are not without sin which needs to be corrected. The justice and love of God administer the altogether deserved and merciful correction. Affliction to the godly is thus mercy and justice in disguise. The afflicted believer on repentance sees this. "Via crucis, via salutis" ["The way of the cross, the way of deliverance"]. Though afflicted, the godly are happier even now than the ungodly, and when affliction has attained its end, it is removed by the Lord. In the Old Testament the consolations are more temporal and outward; in the New Testament, more spiritual; but in neither to the entire exclusion of the other. "Prosperity," says BACON, "is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity that of the New Testament, which is the mark of God's more especial favor. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost has labored more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes." This solution of Elihu is seconded by the addresses of God, in which it is shown God must be just (because He is God), as Elihu had shown how God can be just, and yet the righteous be afflicted. It is also acquiesced in by Job, who makes no reply. God reprimands the "three" friends, but not Elihu. Job's general course is approved; he is directed to intercede for his friends, and is restored to double his former prosperity.

POETRY.--In all countries poetry is the earliest form of composition as being best retained in the memory. In the East especially it was customary for sentiments to be preserved in a terse, proverbial, and poetic form (called maschal). Hebrew poetry is not constituted by the rhythm or meter, but in a form peculiar to itself: 1. In an alphabetical arrangement somewhat like our acrostic. For instance, Lamentations 1:1-22 Psalms 42:1-11 ; 107:1-43 n of the previous verse is resumed and carried forward in the next ( Psalms 121:1-8 characteristic of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, or the correspondence of the same ideas in the parallel clauses. The earliest instance is Enoch's prophecy ( Jude 1:14 ( Genesis 4:23 which the second is a repetition of the first, with or without increase of force ( Psalms 22:27 ; Isaiah 15:1 ( Isaiah 1:15 clause is the converse of that in the first ( Proverbs 10:1 synthetic, where there is a correspondence between different propositions, noun answering to noun, verb to verb, member to member, the sentiment, moreover, being not merely echoed, or put in contrast, but enforced by accessory ideas ( Job 3:3-9 d," that is, desolation by famine, and destruction by the sword. Introverted; where the fourth answers to the first, and the third to the second ( Matthew 7:6 the interpretation. For fuller information, see LOWTH (Introduction to Isaiah, and Lecture on Hebrew Poetry) and HERDER (Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, translated by Marsh). The simpler and less artificial forms of parallelism prevail in Job--a mark of its early age.

The Five Megillot (Scrolls)

Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs)

The Song of Solomon, called in the Vulgate and Septuagint, "The Song of Songs," from the opening words. This title denotes its superior excellence, according to the Hebrew idiom; so holy of holies, equivalent to "most holy" ( Exodus 29:37 the heaven of heavens, equivalent to the highest heavens ( Deuteronomy 10:14 immediately after the Pentateuch in manuscripts of the Jewish Scriptures. It is also fourth of the Hagiographa (Cetubim, writings) or the third division of the Old Testament, the other two being the Law and the Prophets. The Jewish enumeration of the Cetubim is Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra (including Nehemiah), and Chronicles. Its canonicity is certain; it is found in all Hebrew manuscripts of Scripture; also in the Greek Septuagint; in the catalogues of MELITO, bishop of Sardis, A.D. 170 (EUSEBIUS, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26), and of others of the ancient Church.

ORIGEN and JEROME tell us that the Jews forbade it to be read by any until he was thirty years old. It certainly needs a degree of spiritual maturity to enter aright into the holy mystery of love which it allegorically sets forth. To such as have attained this maturity, of whatever age they be, the Song of Songs is one of the most edifying of the sacred writings. ROSENMULLER justly says, The sudden transitions of the bride from the court to the grove are inexplicable, on the supposition that it describes merely human love. Had it been the latter, it would have been positively objectionable, and never would have been inserted in the holy canon. The allusion to "Pharaoh's chariots" ( Solomon 1:9 the love of Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter is the subject of the Song. But this passage alludes to a remarkable event in the history of the Old Testament Church, the deliverance from the hosts and chariots of Pharaoh at the Red Sea. (However, allusions are quite opposed to the notion; the bride is represented at times as a shepherdess ( Solomon 1:7 ( Genesis 46:34 it. The Christian fathers, ORIGEN and THEODORET, compared the teachings of Solomon to a ladder with three steps; Ecclesiastes, natural (the nature of sensible things, vain); Proverbs, moral; Canticles, mystical (figuring the union of Christ and the Church). The Jews compared Proverbs to the outer court of Solomon's temple, Ecclesiastes to the holy place, and Canticles to the holy of holies. Understood allegorically, the Song is cleared of all difficulty. "Shulamith" ( Solomon 6:13 Daughter of Peace being the feminine of Solomon, equivalent to the Prince of Peace. She by turns is a vinedresser, shepherdess, midnight inquirer, and prince's consort and daughter, and He a suppliant drenched with night dews, and a king in His palace, in harmony with the various relations of the Church and Christ. As Ecclesiastes sets forth the vanity of love of the creature, Canticles sets forth the fullness of the love which joins believers and the Saviour. The entire economy of salvation, says HARRIS, aims at restoring to the world the lost spirit of love. God is love, and Christ is the embodiment of the love of God. As the other books of Scripture present severally their own aspects of divine truth, so Canticles furnishes the believer with language of holy love, wherewith his heart can commune with his Lord; and it portrays the intensity of Christ's love to him; the affection of love was created in man to be a transcript of the divine love, and the Song clothes the latter in words; were it not for this, we should be at a loss for language, having the divine warrant, wherewith to express, without presumption, the fervor of the love between Christ and us. The image of a bride, a bridegroom, and a marriage, to represent this spiritual union, has the sanction of Scripture throughout; nay, the spiritual union was the original fact in the mind of God, of which marriage is the transcript ( Isaiah 54:5 ; 62:5 ; Jeremiah 3:1 Ezekiel 16:1-63 ; 23:1-49 ; Matthew 9:15 ; 22:2 ; 25:1 Ephesians 5:23-32 the union of Christ and the Church as if the former were the first; but comes down from the latter as the first and best recognized fact on which the relation of marriage is based Revelation 19:7 ; 21:2 ; 22:17 all, the Song seems to correspond to, and form a trilogy with, Psalms 45 and 72, which contain the same imagery; just as Psalm 37 answers to Proverbs, and the Psalms 39 and 73 to Job. Love to Christ is the strongest, as it is the purest, of human passions, and therefore needs the strongest language to express it: to the pure in heart the phraseology, drawn from the rich imagery of Oriental poetry, will not only appear not indelicate or exaggerated, but even below the reality. A single emblem is a type; the actual rites, incidents, and persons of the Old Testament were appointed types of truths afterwards to be revealed. But the allegory is a continued metaphor, in which the circumstances are palpably often purely imagery, while the thing signified is altogether real. The clue to the meaning of the Song is not to be looked for in the allegory itself, but in other parts of Scripture. "It lies in the casket of revelation an exquisite gem, engraved with emblematical characters, with nothing literal thereon to break the consistency of their beauty" [BURROWES]. This accounts for the name of God not occurring in it. Whereas in the parable the writer narrates, in the allegory he never does so. The Song throughout consists of immediate addresses either of Christ to the soul, or of the soul to Christ. "The experimental knowledge of Christ's loveliness and the believer's love is the best commentary on the whole of this allegorical Song" [LEIGHTON]. Like the curiously wrought Oriental lamps, which do not reveal the beauty of their transparent emblems until lighted up within, so the types and allegories of Scripture, "the lantern to our path" ( Psalms 119:105 light of the Holy Spirit of Jesus to reveal their significance. The details of the allegory are not to be too minutely pressed. In the Song, with an Oriental profusion of imagery, numbers of lovely, sensible objects are aggregated not strictly congruous, but portraying jointly by their very diversity the thousand various and seemingly opposite beauties which meet together in Christ.

The unity of subject throughout, and the recurrence of the same expressions ( Song of Solomon 2:6 Song of Solomon 2:7 ; 3:5 ; Song of Solomon 8:3 Song of Solomon 8:4 ; 2:16 ; 6:3 ; 7:10 ; 3:6 ; 6:10 ; 8:5 the unity of the poem, in opposition to those who make it consist of a number of separate erotic songs. The sudden transitions (for example, from the midnight knocking at a humble cottage to a glorious description of the King) accord with the alternations in the believer's experience. However various the divisions assigned be, most commentators have observed four breaks (whatever more they have imagined), followed by four abrupt beginnings ( Solomon 2:7 ; 3:5 ; 5:1 ; 8:4 Thus there result five parts, all alike ending in full repose and refreshment. We read ( 1 Kings 4:32 thousand and five." The odd number five added over the complete thousand makes it not unlikely that the "five" refers to the Song of songs, consisting of five parts.

It answers to the idyllic poetry of other nations. The Jews explain it of the union of Jehovah and ancient Israel; the allusions to the temple and the wilderness accord with this; some Christians of Christ and the Church; others of Christ and the individual believer. All these are true; for the Church is one in all ages, the ancient typifying the modern Church, and its history answering to that of each individual soul in it. Jesus "sees all, as if that all were one, loves one, as if that one were all." "The time suited the manner of this revelation; because types and allegories belonged to the old dispensation, which reached its ripeness under Solomon, when the temple was built" [MOODY STUART]. "The daughter of Zion at that time was openly married to Jehovah"; for it is thenceforth that the prophets, in reproving Israel's subsequent sin, speak of it as a breach of her marriage covenant. The songs heretofore sung by her were the preparatory hymns of her childhood; "the last and crowning "Song of Songs" was prepared for the now mature maiden against the day of her marriage to the King of kings" [ORIGEN]. Solomon was peculiarly fitted to clothe this holy mystery with the lovely natural imagery with which the Song abounds; for "he spake of trees, from the cedar in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall" ( 1 Kings 4:33 higher qualification was his knowledge of the eternal Wisdom or Word of God ( Proverbs 8:1-36 prepared the way, in Psalms 45 and 72; the son perfected the allegory. It seems to have been written in early life, long before his declension; for after it a song of holy gladness would hardly be appropriate. It was the song of his first love, in the kindness of his youthful espousals to Jehovah. Like other inspired books, its sense is not to be restricted to that local and temporary one in which the writer may have understood it; it extends to all ages, and shadows forth everlasting truth ( 1 Peter 1:11 1 Peter 1:12 ; 2 Peter 1:20 2 Peter 1:21

"Oh that I knew how all thy lights combine, and the configurations of their glorie,
Seeing not only how each verse doth shine, but all the constellations of the storie."
  --HERBERT.

Three notes of time occur [MOODY STUART]: (1) The Jewish Church speaks of the Gentile Church ( Solomon 8:8 speaks to the apostles ( Solomon 5:1 speaks of the coming of Christ ( Solomon 1:2 have, in direct order, Christ about to come, and the cry for the advent; Christ finishing His work on earth, and the last supper; Christ ascended, and the call of the Gentiles. In another aspect we have: (1) In the individual soul the longing for the manifestation of Christ to it, and the various alternations in its experience ( Song of Solomon 1:2 Song of Solomon 1:4 ; 2:8 ; Song of Solomon 3:1 Song of Solomon 3:4 Song of Solomon 3:6 Song of Solomon 3:7 enjoyment of His sensible consolations, which is soon withdrawn through the bride's carelessness ( Solomon 5:1-3 Him, and reconciliation ( Solomon 5:8-16 ; 6:3 (3) Effects of Christ's manifestation on the believer; namely, assurance, labors of love, anxiety for the salvation of the impenitent, eagerness for the Lord's second coming ( Song of Solomon 7:10 Song of Solomon 7:12 ; Song of Solomon 8:8-10 Song of Solomon 8:14

 

Rut (Ruth)

   RUTH is properly a supplement to the preceding book, to which, in fact, it was appended in the ancient Jewish canon. Although it relates an episode belonging to the time of the Judges, its precise date is unknown. It appears certain, however, that it could not have been written prior to the time of Samuel (see Ruth 4:17-22), who is generally supposed to have been its author; and this opinion, in addition to other reasons on which it rests, is confirmed by Ruth4:7, where it is evident that the history was not compiled till long after the transactions recorded. The inspiration and canonical authority of the book is at tested by the fact of Ruth's name being inserted by Matthew in the Saviour's genealogy [ Matthew 1:5 ].

Eikhah (Lamentations)

ISAIAH, son of Amoz (not Amos); contemporary of Jonah, Amos, Hosea, in Israel, but younger than they; and of Micah, in Judah. His call to a higher degree of the prophetic office ( Isaiah 6:1-13 last year of Uzziah, that is, 754 B.C. The first through fifth chapters belong to the closing years of that reign; not, as some think, to Jotham's reign: in the reign of the latter he seems to have exercised his office only orally, and not to have left any record of his prophecies because they were not intended for all ages. The first through fifth and sixth chapters are all that was designed for the Church universal of the prophecies of the first twenty years of his office. New historical epochs, such as occurred in the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah, when the affairs of Israel became interwoven with those of the Asiatic empires, are marked by prophetic writings. The prophets had now to interpret the judgments of the Lord, so as to make the people conscious of His punitive justice, as also of His mercy. Isaiah 7:1-10:4 thirty-ninth chapters are historical, reaching to the fifteenth year of Hezekiah; probably the tenth through twelfth chapters and all from the thirteenth through twenty-sixth chapters, inclusive, belong to the same reign; the historical section being appended to facilitate the right understanding of these prophecies; thus we have Isaiah's office extending from about 760 to 713 B.C., forty-seven years. Tradition (Talmud) represents him as having been sawn asunder by Manasseh with a wooden saw, for having said that he had seen Jehovah ( Exodus 33:20 ; 2 Kings 21:16 ; Hebrews 11:37 Isaiah survived Hezekiah; but "first and last" is not added, as in 2 Chronicles 26:22 only carried up to a certain point. The second part, the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters, containing complaints of gross idolatry, needs not to be restricted to Manasseh's reign, but is applicable to previous reigns. At the accession of Manasseh, Isaiah would be eighty-four; and if he prophesied for eight years afterwards, he must have endured martyrdom at ninety-two; so Hosea prophesied for sixty years. And Eastern tradition reports that he lived to one hundred and twenty. The conclusive argument against the tradition is that, according to the inscription, all Isaiah's prophecies are included in the time from Uzziah to Hezekiah; and the internal evidence accords with this.

His WIFE is called the prophetess [ Isaiah 8:3 as Miriam, with a prophetic gift.

His CHILDREN were considered by him as not belonging merely to himself; in their names, Shearjashub, "the remnant shall return" [ Isaiah 7:3 he hasteth to the prey" [ Isaiah 8:1 his prophecies are intimated to the people, the judgments of the Lord on the people and the world, and yet His mercy to the elect.

His GARMENT of sackcloth ( Isaiah 20:2 fact; he appears as the embodiment of that repentance which he taught.

His HISTORICAL WORKS.--History, as written by the prophets, is retroverted prophecy. As the past and future alike proceed from the essence of God, an inspired insight into the past implies an insight into the future, and vice versa. Hence most of the Old Testament histories are written by prophets and are classed with their writings; the Chronicles being not so classed, cannot have been written by them, but are taken from historical monographs of theirs; for example, Isaiah's life of Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:22 of these latter all that was important for all ages has been preserved to us, while the rest, which was local and temporary, has been lost.

The INSCRIPTION ( Isaiah 1:1 that Isaiah is the author of the second part (the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters), as well as of the first. Nor do the words, "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" [ Isaiah 1:1 the inscription applies to the whole; for whatever he says against other nations, he says on account of their relation to Judah. So the inscription of Amos, "concerning Israel" [ Amos 1:1 prophecies follow against foreign nations. EWALD maintains that the fortieth through sixty-sixth chapters, though spurious, were subjoined to the previous portion, in order to preserve the former. But it is untrue that the first portion is unconnected with those chapters. The former ends with the Babylonian exile ( Isaiah 39:6 begins with the coming redemption from it. The portion, the fortieth through forty-sixth chapters, has no heading of its own, a proof that it is closely connected with what precedes, and falls under the general heading in Isaiah 1:1 (The Antiquities of the Jews, 11.1.1,2) says that Cyrus was induced by the prophecies of Isaiah ( Isaiah 44:28 ; Isaiah 45:1 Isaiah 45:13 returning and rebuilding the temple Ezra 1:1-11 Cyrus in his edict there plainly refers to the prophecies in the second portion, which assign the kingdoms to him from Jehovah, and the duty of rebuilding the temple. Probably he took from them his historical name Cyrus (Coresh). Moreover, subsequent prophets imitate this second portion, which EWALD assigns to later times; for example, compare Jeremiah 50:1-51:64 predictions against Babylon [ 13:1-14:23 Israel," occurring but three times elsewhere in the Old Testament [ 2 Kings 19:22 ; Psalms 78:41 ; 89:18 ; Jeremiah 50:29 ; 51:5 in the second, as in the first portion of Isaiah: it expresses God's covenant faithfulness in fulfilling the promises therein: Jeremiah borrows the expression from him. Also Ecclesiasticus 48:22-25 ("comforted"), quotes Isaiah 40:1 Isaiah 61:1 Isaiah 61:2 synagogue.

The DEFINITENESS of the prophecies is striking: As in the second portion of isaiah, so in Micah 4:8-10 deliverance from it, are foretold a hundred fifty years before any hostilities had arisen between Babylon and Judah. On the other hand, all the prophets who foretell the Assyrian invasion coincide in stating, that Judah should be delivered from it, not by Egyptian aid, but directly by the Lord. Again Jeremiah, in the height of the Chaldean prosperity, foretold its conquest by the Medes, who should enter Babylon through the dry bed of the Euphrates on a night of general revelry. No human calculation could have discovered these facts. EICHORN terms these prophecies "veiled historical descriptions," recognizing in spite of himself that they are more than general poetical fancies. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was certainly written ages before the Messiah, yet it minutely portrays His sufferings: these cannot be Jewish inventions, for the Jews looked for a reigning, not a suffering, Messiah.

Rationalists are so far right that THE PROPHECIES ARE ON A GENERAL BASIS whereby they are distinguished from soothsaying. They rest on the essential idea of God. The prophets, penetrated by this inner knowledge of His character, became conscious of the eternal laws by which the world is governed: that sin is man's ruin, and must be followed by judgment, but that God's covenant mercy to His elect is unchangeable. Without prophetism, the elect remnant would have decreased, and even God's judgments would have missed their end, by not being recognized as such: they would have been unmeaning, isolated facts. Babylon was in Isaiah's days under Assyria; it had tried a revolt unsuccessfully: but the elements of its subsequent success and greatness were then existing. The Holy Ghost enlightened his natural powers to discern this its rise; and his spiritual faculties, to foresee its fall, the sure consequence, in God's eternal law, of the pride which pagan success generates--and also Judah's restoration, as the covenant-people, with whom God, according to His essential character, would not be wroth for ever. True conversion is the prophet's grand remedy against all evils: in this alone consists his politics. Rebuke, threatening, and promise, regularly succeed one another. The idea at the basis of all is in Isaiah 26:7-9 ; Leviticus 10:3 ; Amos 3:2

The USE OF THE PRESENT AND PRETERITE in prophecy is no proof that the author is later than Isaiah. For seers view the future as present, and indicate what is ideally past, not really past; seeing things in the light of God, who "calls the things that are not as though they were." Moreover, as in looking from a height on a landscape, hills seem close together which are really wide apart, so, in events foretold, the order, succession, and grouping are presented, but the intervals of time are overlooked. The time, however, is sometimes marked ( Jeremiah 25:12 ; Daniel 9:26 deliverance from Babylon, and that effected by Messiah, are in rapid transition grouped together by THE LAW OF PROPHETIC SUGGESTION; yet no prophet so confounds the two as to make Messiah the leader of Israel from Babylon. To the prophet there was probably no double sense; but to his spiritual eye the two events, though distinct, lay so near, and were so analogous, that he could not separate them in description without unfaithfulness to the picture presented before him. The more remote and antitypical event, however, namely, Messiah's coming, is that to which he always hastens, and which he describes with far more minuteness than he does the nearer type; for example, Cyrus (compare Isaiah 45:1 the midst of events between, for example, the humiliation of Jesus Christ, which he views as past, and His glorification, as yet to come, using the future tense as to the latter (compare Isaiah 53:4-9 given sparingly in the prophets: yet, as to Messiah, definitely enough to create the general expectation of Him at the time that He was in fact born.

The CHALDÆISMS alleged against the genuineness of the second portion of Isaiah, are found more in the first and undoubted portion. They occur in all the Old Testament, especially in the poetical parts, which prefer unusual expressions, and are due to the fact that the patriarchs were surrounded by Chaldee-speaking people; and in Isaiah's time a few Chaldee words had crept in from abroad.

His SYMBOLS are few and simple, and his poetical images correct; in the prophets, during and after the exile, the reverse holds good; Haggai and Malachi are not exceptions; for, though void of bold images, their style, unlike Isaiah's, rises little above prose: a clear proof that our Isaiah was long before the exile.

Of VISIONS, strictly so called, he has but one, that in the sixth chapter; even it is more simple than those in later prophets. But he often gives SIGNS, that is, a present fact as pledge of the more distant future; God condescending to the feebleness of man ( Isaiah 7:14 ; Isaiah 37:30 ; 38:7

The VARIETIES IN HIS STYLE do not prove spuriousness, but that he varied his style with his subject. The second portion is not so much addressed to his contemporaries, as to the future people of the Lord, the elect remnant, purified by the previous judgments. Hence its tenderness of style, and frequent repetitions ( Isaiah 40:1 comforting exhortation uses many words; so also the many epithets added to the name of God, intended as stays whereon faith may rest for comfort, so as not to despair. In both portions alike there are peculiarities characteristic of Isaiah; for example, "to be called" equivalent to to be: the repetition of the same words, instead of synonyms, in the parallel members of verses; the interspersing of his prophecies with hymns: "the remnant of olive trees," &c., for the remnant of people who have escaped God's judgments. Also compare Isaiah 65:25

The CHRONOLOGICAL ARRANGEMENT favors the opinion that Isaiah himself collected his prophecies into the volume; not Hezekiah's men, as the Talmud guesses from Proverbs 25:1 can be ascertained, stand in the right place, except a few instances, where prophecies of similar contents are placed together: with the termination of the Assyrian invasion (the thirty-sixth through thirty-ninth chapters) terminated the public life of Isaiah. The second part is his prophetic legacy to the small band of the faithful, analogous to the last speeches of Moses and of Jesus Christ to His chosen disciples.

The EXPECTATION OF MESSIAH is so strong in Isaiah, that JEROME To Paulinus calls his book not a prophecy, but the gospel: "He is not so much a prophet as an evangelist." Messiah was already shadowed forth in Genesis 49:10 Psalms 2, 45, 72, 110. Isaiah brings it out more definitely; and, whereas they dwelt on His kingly office, Isaiah develops most His priestly and prophetic office; the hundred tenth Psalm also had set forth His priesthood, but His kingly rather than, as Isaiah, His suffering, priesthood. The latter is especially dwelt on in the second part, addressed to the faithful elect; whereas the first part, addressed to the whole people, dwells on Messiah's glory, the antidote to the fears which then filled the people, and the assurance that the kingdom of God, then represented by Judah, would not be overwhelmed by the surrounding nations.

His STYLE (HENGSTENBERG, Christology of the Old Testament,) is simple and sublime; in imagery, intermediate between the poverty of Jeremiah and the exuberance of Ezekiel. He shows his command of it in varying it to suit his subject.

The FORM is mostly that of Hebrew poetical parallelism, with, however, a freedom unshackled by undue restrictions.

JUDAH, the less apostate people, rather than Israel, was the subject of his prophecies: his residence was mostly at Jerusalem. On his praises, see Ecclesiasticus 48:22-25. Christ and the apostles quote no prophet so frequently.

 

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)

The Hebrew title is Koheleth, which the speaker in it applies to himself ( Ecclesiastes 1:12 Israel." It means an Assembler or Convener of a meeting and a Preacher to such a meeting. The feminine form of the Hebrew noun, and its construction once ( Ecclesiastes 7:27 that it not only signifies Solomon, the Preacher to assemblies (in which case it is construed with the verb or noun masculine), but also Divine Wisdom (feminine in Hebrew) speaking by the mouth of the inspired king. In six cases out of seven it is construed with the masculine. Solomon was endowed with inspired wisdom ( 1 Kings 3:5-14 ; 1 Kings 6:11 1 Kings 6:12 ; 9:1-9 ; 11:9-11 task. The Orientals delight in such meetings for grave discourse. Thus the Arabs formerly had an assembly yearly, at Ocadh, for hearing and reciting poems. Compare "Masters of assemblies" "The Preacher taught the people knowledge," probably viva voce ("orally"); 1 Kings 4:34 ; 1 Kings 10:2 1 Kings 10:8 1 Kings 10:24 ; 2 Chronicles 9:1 2 Chronicles 9:7 2 Chronicles 9:23 plainly refer to a somewhat public divan met for literary discussion. So "spake," thrice repeated ( 1 Kings 4:32 1 Kings 4:33 the purpose. The Holy Ghost, no doubt, signifies also by the term that Solomon's doctrine is intended for the "great congregation," the Church of all places and ages ( Psalms 22:25:49:2-4

Solomon was plainly the author ( Ecclesiastes 1:12 Ecclesiastes 1:16 ; 2:15 ; 12:9 the Rabbins attribute it to Isaiah or Hezekiah is explicable by supposing that one or the other inserted it in the canon. The difference of its style, as compared with Proverbs and Song of Solomon, is due to the difference of subjects, and the different period of his life in which each was written; the Song, in the fervor of his first love to God; Proverbs, about the same time, or somewhat later; but Ecclesiastes in late old age, as the seal and testimony of repentance of his apostasy in the intervening period: Psalms 89:30 Psalms 89:33 penitence. The substitution of the title Koheleth for Solomon (that is, peace), may imply that, having troubled Israel, meantime he forfeited his name of peace ( 1 Kings 11:14 1 Kings 11:23 he wishes to be henceforth a Preacher of righteousness. The alleged foreign expressions in the Hebrew may have been easily imported, through the great intercourse there was with other nations during his long reign. Moreover, supposed Chaldaisms may be fragments preserved from the common tongue of which Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldee, and Arabic were offshoots.

THE SCOPE of Ecclesiastes is to show the vanity of all mere human pursuits, when made the chief end, as contrasted with the real blessedness of true wisdom, that is, religion. The immortality of the soul is dwelt on incidentally, as subsidiary to the main scope. Moses' law took this truth for granted but drew its sanctions of rewards and punishments in accordance with the theocracy, which was under a special providence of God as the temporal King of Israel, from the present life, rather than the future. But after Israel chose an earthly king, God withdrew, in part, His extraordinary providence, so that under Solomon, temporal rewards did not invariably follow virtue, and punishments vice (compare Ecclesiastes 2:16 ; 3:19 ; 4:1 ; 5:8 ; 7:15 ; 8:14 ; Ecclesiastes 9:2 Ecclesiastes 9:11 show that these anomalies will be rectified hereafter, and this is the grand "conclusion," therefore, of the "whole" book, that, seeing there is a coming judgment, and seeing that present goods do not satisfy the soul, "man's whole duty is to fear God and keep his commandments" ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 12:14 and not abuse, the present life ( Ecclesiastes 3:12 Ecclesiastes 3:13

It is objected that sensual epicurism seems to be inculcated ( Ecclesiastes 3:12 Ecclesiastes 3:13 Ecclesiastes 3:22 God's present gifts that is taught, as opposed to a murmuring, anxious, avaricious spirit, as is proved by Ecclesiastes 5:18 Ecclesiastes 5:11-15 of levity and folly; a misunderstanding which he guards against in Ecclesiastes 7:2-6 ; 11:9 ; 12:1 teach fatalism and skepticism. But these are words put in the mouth of an objector; or rather, they were the language of Solomon himself during his apostasy, finding an echo in the heart of every sensualist, who wishes to be an unbeliever, and, who, therefore, sees difficulties enough in the world around wherewith to prop up his wilful unbelief. The answer is given ( Ecclesiastes 7:17 Ecclesiastes 7:18 ; Ecclesiastes 9:11 Ecclesiastes 9:12 ; Ecclesiastes 11:1 Ecclesiastes 11:6 ; 12:13 Even if these passages be taken as words of Solomon, they are to be understood as forbidding a self-made "righteousness," which tries to constrain God to grant salvation to imaginary good works and external strictness with which it wearies itself; also, that speculation which tries to fathom all God's inscrutable counsels ( Ecclesiastes 8:17 carefulness about the future forbidden in Matthew 6:25

THE CHIEF GOOD is that the possession of that which makes us happy, is to be sought as the end, for its own sake; whereas, all other things are but means towards it. Philosophers, who made it the great subject of inquiry, restricted it to the present life, treating the eternal as unreal, and only useful to awe the multitude with. But Solomon shows the vanity of all human things (so-called philosophy included) to satisfy the soul, and that heavenly wisdom alone is the chief good. He had taught so when young ( Proverbs 1:20 ; 8:1 Song of Solomon, he had spiritualized the subject in an allegory; and now, after having long personally tried the manifold ways in which the worldly seek to reach happiness, he gives the fruit of his experience in old age.

It is divided into two parts-- Ecclesiastes 1:1-6:10 earthly things; Ecclesiastes 6:10-12:14 Deviations from strict logical methods occur in these divisions, but in the main they are observed. The deviations make it the less stiff and artificial, and the more suited to all capacities. It is in poetry; the hemistichal division is mostly observed, but occasionally not so. The choice of epithets, imagery, inverted order of words, ellipses, parallelism, or, in its absence, similarity of diction, mark versification.

 

Ester (Esther)
  ESTHER derives its name from the Jewess, who, having become wife of the king of Persia, employed her royal influence to effect amemorable deliverance for the persecuted Church of God. Various opinions are embraced and supported as to the authorship of this book, some ascribing it to Ezra, to Nehemiah, or to Mordecai. The preponderance of authorities is in favor of the last. The historical character of the book is undoubted, since, besides many internal evidences, its authenticity is proved by the strong testimony of the feast of Purim, the celebration of which can be traced up to the events which are described in this book. Its claim, however, to canonical authority has been questioned on the ground that the name of God does not once occur in it. But the uniform tradition both of the Jewish and the Christian Churches supports this claim, which nothing in the book tends to shake; while it is a record of the superintending care of divine providence over his chosen people, with which it is of the most importance the Church should be furnished. The name of God is strangely enough omitted, but the presence of God is felt throughout the history; and the whole tone and tendency of the book is so decidedly subservient to the honor of God and the cause of true religion that it has been generally received by the Church in all ages into the sacred canon.

History

Dani’el (Daniel)

DANIEL, that is, "God is my judge"; probably of the blood royal (compare Daniel 1:3 a son of David is named so). Jerusalem may have been his birthplace (though Daniel 9:24 holy city," does not necessarily imply this). He was carried to Babylon among the Hebrew captives brought thither by Nebuchadnezzar at the first deportation in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. As he and his three companions are called ( Daniel 1:4 more than about twelve years old when put in training, according to Eastern etiquette, to be a courtier ( Daniel 1:3 Daniel 1:6 new name, by which it was usual to mark a change in one's condition ( 2 Kings 23:34 ; 24:17 ; Ezra 5:14 ; Esther 2:7 favored by Bel" ( Daniel 1:7 his countrymen at an early period; probably owing to that noble proof he gave of faithfulness, combined with wisdom, in abstaining from the food sent to him from the king's table, as being polluted by the idolatries usual at heathen banquets ( Daniel 1:8-16 reference to him ( Ezekiel 14:14 Ezekiel 14:20 ; 28:3 should expect; a coincidence which must be undesigned. Ezekiel refers to him not as a writer, but as exhibiting a character righteous and wise in discerning secrets, in those circumstances now found in his book, which are earlier than the time when Ezekiel wrote. As Joseph rose in Egypt by interpreting Pharaoh's dreams, so Daniel, by interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's, was promoted to be governor of Babylonia, and president of the Magian priest-caste. Under Evil-merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's successor, as a change of officers often attends the accession of a new king, Daniel seems to have had a lower post, which led him occasionally to be away from Babylon ( Daniel 8:2 Daniel 8:27 Again he came into note when he read the mystic writing of Belshazzar's doom on the wall on the night of that monarch's impious feast. BEROSUS calls the last Babylonian king Nabonidus and says he was not killed, but had an honorable abode in Carmania assigned to him, after having surrendered voluntarily in Borsippa. RAWLINSON has cleared up the discrepancy from the Nineveh inscription. Belshazzar was joint king with his father, Evil-merodach or Nabonidus (called Minus in the inscriptions), to whom he was subordinate. He shut himself up in Babylon, while the other king took refuge elsewhere, namely, in Borsippa. BEROSUS gives the Chaldean account, which suppresses all about Belshazzar, as being to the national dishonor. Had Daniel been a late book, he would no doubt have taken up the later account of BEROSUS. If he gave a history differing from that current in Babylonia, the Jews of that region would not have received it as true. Darius the Mede, or Cyaxares II, succeeded and reigned two years. The mention of this monarch's reign, almost unknown to profane history (being eclipsed by the splendor of Cyrus) is an incidental proof that Daniel wrote as a contemporary historian of events which he knew, and did not borrow from others. In the third year of Cyrus he saw the visions (the tenth through twelfth chapters) relating to his people down to the latest days and the coming resurrection. He must have been about eighty-four years old at this time. Tradition represents Daniel as having died and been buried at Shushan. Though his advanced age did not allow him to be among those who returned to Palestine, yet he never ceased to have his people's interests nearest to his heart ( Daniel 9:3-19 ; 10:12

AUTHENTICITY OF THE BOOK OF DANIEL. Daniel 7:1 Daniel 7:28 ; 8:2 ; 9:2 ; Daniel 10:1 Daniel 10:2 ; Daniel 12:4 Daniel 12:5 Daniel himself. He does not mention himself in the first six chapters, which are historical; for in these it is not the author, but the events which are the prominent point. In the last six, which are prophetical, the author makes himself known, for here it was needed, prophecy being a revelation of words to particular men. It holds a third rank in the Hebrew canon: not among the prophets, but in the Hagiographa (Chetubim), between Esther and Ezra, books like it relating to the captivity; because he did not strictly belong to those who held exclusively the profession of "prophets" in the theocracy, but was rather a "seer," having the gift, but not the office of prophet. Were the book an interpolated one, it doubtless would have been placed among the prophets. Its present position is a proof of its genuineness, as it was deliberately put in a position different from that where most would expect to find it. Placed between Esther, and Ezra and Nehemiah, it separated the historical books of the time after the captivity. Thus, Daniel was, as BENGEL calls him, the politician, chronologer, and historian among the prophets. The Psalms also, though many are prophetical, are ranked with the Hagiographa, not with the prophets; and the Revelation of John is separated from his Epistles, as Daniel is from the Old Testament prophets. Instead of writing in the midst of the covenant people, and making them the foreground of his picture, he writes in a heathen court, the world kingdoms occupying the foreground, and the kingdom of God, though ultimately made the most significant, the background. His peculiar position in the heathen court is reflected in his peculiar position in the canon. As the "prophets" in the Old Testament, so the epistles of the apostles in the New Testament were written by divinely commissioned persons for their contemporaries. But Daniel and John were not in immediate contact with the congregation, but isolated and alone with God, the one in a heathen court, the other on a lonely isle ( Revelation 1:9 PORPHYRY, the assailant of Christianity in the third century, asserted that the Book of Daniel was a forgery of the time of the Maccabees (170-164 B.C.), a time when confessedly there were no prophets, written after the events as to Antiochus Epiphanes, which it professes to foretell; so accurate are the details. A conclusive proof of Daniel's inspiration, if his prophecies can be shown to have been before the events. Now we know, from JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 10.11.7], that the Jews in Christ's days recognized Daniel as in the canon. Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah, centuries before Antiochus, refer to it. Jesus refers to it in His characteristic designation, "Son of man," Matthew 24:30 ( Daniel 7:13 Matthew 24:15 moment that decided His life ( Matthew 26:64 priest adjured him by the living God. Also, in Luke 1:19-26 is mentioned, whose name occurs nowhere else in Scripture, save in Daniel 8:16 ; 9:21 confirms the prophetical part of it, as to the blasphemous king ( Daniel 7:8 Daniel 7:25 ; 11:36 to the miraculous deliverances from "the lions" and "the fire," in Hebrews 11:3 ; Hebrews 3 34 Testament on the three points made the stumbling-block of neologists--the predictions, the narratives of miracles, and the manifestations of angels. An objection has been stated to the unity of the book, namely, that Jesus quotes no part of the first half of Daniel. But Matthew 21:44 would be an enigma if it were not a reference to the "stone that smote the image" ( Daniel 2:34 Daniel 2:35 Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:45 second, third, sixth, seventh, and eleventh chapters. The design of the miracles in the heathen courts where Daniel was, as of those of Moses in Egypt, was to lead the world power, which seemed to be victorious over the theocracy, to see the essential inner superiority of the seemingly fallen kingdom of God to itself, and to show prostrate Israel that the power of God was the same as of old in Egypt. The first book of Maccabees (compare I Maccabees 1:24 9:27,40, with Daniel 12:1 ; 11:26 of the Septuagint) refers to Daniel as an accredited book, and even refers to the Septuagint Alexandrian version of it. The fact of Daniel having a place in the Septuagint shows it was received by the Jews at large prior to the Maccabean times. The Septuagint version so arbitrarily deviated from the Hebrew Daniel, that Theodotius' version was substituted for it in the early Christian Church. JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 11.8.5] mentions that Alexander the Great had designed to punish the Jews for their fidelity to Darius, but that Jaddua (332 B.C.), the high priest, met him at the head of a procession and averted his wrath by showing him Daniel's prophecy that a Grecian monarch should overthrow Persia. Certain it is, Alexander favored the Jews, and JOSEPHUS' statement gives an explanation of the fact; at least it shows that the Jews in JOSEPHUS' days believed that Daniel was extant in Alexander's days, long before the Maccabees. With Jaddua (high priest from 341-322 B.C.) the Old Testament history ends ( Nehemiah 12:11 (The register of the priests and Levites was not written by Nehemiah, who died about 400 B.C., but was inserted with divine sanction by the collectors of the canon subsequently.) An objection to Daniel's authenticity has been rested on a few Greek words found in it. But these are mostly names of Greek musical instruments, which were imported by Greece from the East, rather than vice versa. Some of the words are derived from the common Indo-Germanic stock of both Greek and Chaldee: hence their appearance in both tongues. And one or two may have come through the Greeks of Asia Minor to the Chaldee. The fact that from the fourth verse of the second chapter to the end of the seventh, the language is Chaldee, but the rest Hebrew, is not an argument against, but for, its authenticity. So in Ezra the two languages are found. The work, if that of one author, must have been composed by someone in the circumstances of Daniel, that is, by one familiar with both languages. No native-born Hebrew who had not lived in Chaldea would know Chaldee so well as to use it with the same idiomatic ease as his native tongue; the very impurities in Daniel's use of both are just such as were natural to one in his circumstances, but unnatural to one in a later age, or to one not half Hebrew, half Chaldean in residence as Daniel was. Those parts of Daniel which concern the whole world are mostly Chaldee, then the language of the world empire. So Greek was made the language of the New Testament, which was designed for the whole world. Those affecting the Jews, mostly Hebrew; and this not so impure as that of Ezekiel. His Chaldee is a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic. Two predictions alone are enough to prove to us that Daniel was a true prophet. (1) That his prophecies reach beyond Antiochus; namely, he foretells the rise of the four great monarchies, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (the last not being in Daniel's time known beyond the precincts of Italy, or rather of Latium), and that no other earthly kingdom would subvert the fourth, but that it would divide into parts. All this has come to pass. No fifth great earthly monarchy has arisen, though often attempted, as by Charlemagne, Charles V, and Napoleon. (2) The time of Messiah's advent, as dated from a certain decree, His being cut off, and the destruction of the city. "He who denies Daniel's prophecies," says SIR ISAAC NEWTON, "undermines Christianity, which is founded on Daniel's prophecies concerning Christ."

CHARACTERISTICS OF DANIEL. The vision mode of revelation is the exception in other prophets, the rule in Daniel. In Zechariah ( Zechariah 1:1-6:15 the other form from the seventh chapter to the end. The Revelation of St. John alone is perfectly parallel to Daniel, which may be called the Old Testament Apocalypse. In the contents too there is the difference above noticed, that he views the kingdom of God from the standpoint of the world kingdoms, the development of which is his great subject. This mode of viewing it was appropriate to his own position in a heathen court, and to the relation of subjection in which the covenant-people then stood to the world powers. No longer are single powers of the world incidentally introduced, but the universal monarchies are the chief theme, in which the worldly principle, opposed to the kingdom of God, manifests itself fully. The near and distant are not seen in the same perspective, as by the other prophets, who viewed the whole future from the eschatological point; but in Daniel the historical details are given of that development of the world powers which must precede the advent of the kingdom [AUBERLEN].

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY. The exile is the historical basis of Daniel's prophecies, as Daniel implies in the first chapter, which commences with the beginning, and ends with the termination, of the captivity ( Daniel 1:1 Daniel 1:21 new stage in the theocracy begins with the captivity. Nebuchadnezzar made three incursions into Judah. The first under Jehoiakim (606 B.C.), in which Daniel was carried away, subjected the theocracy to the Babylonian world power. The second (598 B.C.) was that in which Jehoiachin and Ezekiel were carried away. In the third (588 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and carried away Zedekiah. Originally, Abraham was raised out of the "sea" ( Daniel 7:2 nations, as an island holy to God, and his seed chosen as God's mediator of His revelations of love to mankind. Under David and Solomon, the theocracy, as opposed to the heathen power, attained its climax in the Old Testament, not only being independent, but lord of the surrounding nations; so that the period of these two kings was henceforth made the type of the Messianic. But when God's people, instead of resting on Him, seek alliance with the world power, that very power is made the instrument of their chastisement. So Ephraim (722 B.C.) fell by Assyria; and Judah also, drawn into the sphere of the world's movements from the time of Ahaz, who sought Assyrian help (740 B.C., Isaiah 7:1-25 been more or less dependent on the world monarchies, and so, till Messiah, was favored with no revelations from the time of Malachi (four hundred years). Thus, from the beginning of the exile, the theocracy, in the strict sense, ceased on earth; the rule of the world powers superseding it. But God's covenant with Israel remains firm ( Romans 11:29 is now foretold as about to follow their long chastisement. The exile thus is the turning point in the history of the theocracy, which ROOS thus divides: (1) From Adam to the exodus out of Egypt. (2) From the exodus to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. (3) From the captivity to the millennium. (4) From the millennium to the end of the world. The position of Daniel in the Babylonian court was in unison with the altered relations of the theocracy and the world power, which new relation was to be the theme of his prophecy. Earlier prophets, from the standpoint of Israel, treated of Israel in its relation to the world powers; Daniel, from Babylon, the center of the then world power, treats of the world powers in their relation to Israel. His seventy years' residence in Babylon, and his high official position there, gave him an insight into the world's politics, fitting him to be the recipient of political revelations; while his spiritual experiences, gained through Nebuchadnezzar's humiliation, Belshazzar's downfall, and the rapid decay of the Babylonian empire itself, as well as the miraculous deliverances of himself and his friends (the third through sixth chapters), all fitted him for regarding things from the spiritual standpoint, from which the world's power appears transient, but the glory of God's kingdom eternal. As his political position was the body, the school of magicians in which he had studied for three years ( Daniel 1:4 Daniel 1:5 nourished by the earlier prophecies ( Daniel 9:2 prophecy, which only waited for the spirit of revelation from above to kindle it. So God fits His organs for their work. AUBERLEN compares Daniel to Joseph: the one at the beginning, the other at the end of the Jewish history of revelation; both representatives of God and His people at heathen courts; both interpreters of the dim presentiments of truth, expressed in God-sent dreams, and therefore raised to honor by the powers of the world: so representing Israel's calling to be a royal priesthood among the nations; and types of Christ, the true Israel, and of Israel's destination to be a light to lighten the whole Gentile world, as Romans 11:12 Romans 11:15 Alexander at the end, of Grecian history are the mirrors of the whole life of the Hellenic people, so Joseph and Daniel of Israel.

CONTENTS OF THE BOOK. Historical and biographical introduction in the first chapter. Daniel, a captive exile, is representative of his nation in its servitude and exile: while his heavenly insight into dreams, far exceeding that of the magi, represents the divine superiority of the covenant-people over their heathen lords. The high dignities, even in the world, which he thereby attained, typify the giving of the earth-kingdom at last "to the people of the saints of the Most High" ( Daniel 7:27 foundation of his prophecy. The prophets had to experience in themselves, and in their age, something of what they foretold about future times; just as David felt much of Christ's sufferings in his own person (compare Hosea 1:2-9 Hosea 1:10 Hosea 1:11 ; 2:3 [ROOS]. Hence biographical notices of Daniel and his friends are inserted among his prophecies. The second through twelfth chapters contain the substance of the book, and consist of two parts. The first (the second through seventh chapters) represents the development of the world powers, viewed from a historical point. The second (the eighth through twelfth chapters), their development in relation to Israel, especially in the future preceding Christ's first advent, foretold in the ninth chapter. But prophecy looks beyond the immediate future to the complete fulfilment in the last days, since the individual parts in the organic history of salvation cannot be understood except in connection with the whole. Also Israel looked forward to the Messianic time, not only for spiritual salvation, but also for the visible restoration of the kingdom which even now we too expect. The prophecy which they needed ought therefore to comprise both, and so much of the history of the world as would elapse before the final consummation. The period of Daniel's prophecies, therefore, is that from the downfall of the theocracy at the captivity till its final restoration, yet future--the period of the dominion of the world powers, not set aside by Christ's first coming ( John 18:36 then, would have been to take it from Satan's hands, Matthew 4:8-10 but to be superseded by His universal and everlasting kingdom at His second coming ( Revelation 11:15 and final destiny of the world powers (the second through seventh chapters) fittingly precedes the disclosures as to the immediate future (the eighth through twelfth chapters). Daniel marks the division by writing the first part in Chaldee, and the second, and the introduction, in Hebrew; the former, referring to the powers of the world, in the language of the then dominant world power under which he lived; the latter, relating to the people of God, in their own language. An interpolator in a later age would have used Hebrew, the language of the ancient prophets throughout, or if anywhere Aramaic, so as to be understood by his contemporaries, he would have used it in the second rather than in the first part as having a more immediate reference to his own times [AUBERLEN].

 

Ezra (Ezra)

   EZRA was, along with Nehemiah, reckoned one book by the ancient Jews, who called them the First and Second Books of Ezra, and they are still designated by Roman Catholic writers the First and Second Books of Esdras. This book naturally divides itself into two parts or sections, the one contained in the first six chapters, and which relates the circumstances connected with the return of the first detachment of Babylonish exiles under Zerubbabel with the consequent rebuilding of the temple and the re-establishment of the divine service. The other part, embraced in the four concluding chapters, narrates the journey of a second caravan of returning captives under the conduct of Ezra himself, who was invested with powers to restore, in all its splendor, the entire system of the Jewish ritual. The general opinion of the Church in every succeeding age has been that Ezra was the author of this book. The chief objection is founded on Ezra 5:4 , where the words, "Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building?" have occasioned a surmise that the first portion of the book was not written by Ezra, who did not go to Jerusalem for many years after. But a little attention will show the futility of this objection, as the words in question did not refer to the writer, but were used by Tatnai and his associates (Ezra 5:3). The style and unity of object in the book clearly prove it to have been the production of but one author. The canonical authority of this book is well established; but another under the name of Ezrais rejected as apocryphal.

Nechemyah (Nehemiah)

      NEHEMIAH appears to have been the author of this book, from his usually writing in his own name, and indeed, except in those parts which are unmistakably later editions or borrowed from public documents, he usually employs the first person. The major portion of the book is occupied with a history of Nehemiah's twelve years' administration in Jerusalem, after which he returned to his duties in Shushan. At a later period he returned with new powers and commenced new and vigorous measures of reform, which are detailed in the later chapters of the book.

Divrei-HaYamim Aleph (First Chronicles)
Divrei HaYamim Bet (Second Chronicles)

THE FIRST AND SECOND BOOKS OF CHRONICLESwere also considered as one by the ancient Jews, who called them "words of days," that is, diaries or journals, being probably compiled from those registers that were kept by the king's historiographers of passing occurrences. In the Septuagintthe title given them is Paraleipomenon, "of things omitted," that is, the books are supplementary because many things unnoticed in the former books are here recorded; and not only the omissions are supplied, but some narratives extended while others are added. The authorship is commonly ascribed to Ezra, whose leading object seems to have been to show the division of families, possessions, &c., before the captivity, with a view to the exact restoration of the same order after the return from Babylon. Although many things are restated and others are exact repetitions of what is contained in Kings, there is so much new and important information that, as JEROMEhas well said, the Chronicles furnish the means of comprehending parts of the New Testament, which must have been unintelligible without them. They are frequently referred to by Christ and the Apostles as forming part of "the Word of God" (see the genealogies in Matthew 1:1-16 ; Luke 3:23-38; compare 2 Chronicles 19:7 with 1 Peter 1:17 ; 2 Chronicles 24:19-21 with Matthew 23:32-35).

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Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return
ANXIOUSLY WATCHING FOR MASHIACH’S RETURN,
SPEEDILY AND IN OUR DAY. MARANA, TA!