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The calling of the Gentiles. SOLOMON'S SONG. Christ's coming prayed for.
Before 69 Set me as a seal upon thine 10 I am a wall, and my breasts Before about 1014. heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for like towers: then was I in his eyes as about 1014. love is strong as death; jealousy is one that found + favour.
+ Heb. peace. + Heb, hard. + cruel as the grave: the coals there 11 Solomon had a vineyard at
of are coals of fire, which hath a most Baal-hamon ; he let out the vineyard
unto keepers; every one for the fruit
have a thousand, and those that keep
voice : cause me to hear it.
6. Set me as a seal &c.] These are the words of the two hundred pieces for his own profit, she implies that bride, beseeching her beloved to keep her always in mind : much greater would be the increase which she was likely for that was the purpose of having the name or picture to make by her own care and diligence. Bp. Patrick. of a beloved person engraven on a seal or jewel, and 14. — upon the mountains of spices.] Upon the mounwearing it near the heart, to testify great esteem, and a tains where spices grow : what particular mountains are constancy of affection. Bp. Patrick. O set me as a seal, meant, cannot be ascertained. Bp. Patrick. &c.; that is, place me so that I may never slip out of Thus the nuptial ceremony being finished, the poem thy memory or affection: this request I make out of concludes with a few pastoral expressions of mutual fervent love, which is strong and irresistible as death, tenderness and affection. Bp. Percy. especially when heightened by jealousy, or a fear of The opinion that the whole of this poem is allegorical, losing the beloved object. Bp. Percy.
| is confirmed by the consent and authority both of the 11. Solomon had a vineyard &c.] The bride now pro- Jewish and Christian churches, and by the analogy mises her diligence, in this and the next verse, to do which it bears to other parts of Scripture, confessedly him the best service, and to make the greatest improve- allegorical. But in tracing the allegorical sense through ment she could, of the talents committed to her. For the several parts, great caution is required; and it is whereas Solomon, as she here says, let out his vineyard, especially necessary that we should be extremely careful which he had in Baal-hamon, a place near Jerusalem, how we pursue the allegory too far into every particular (where abundance of people had vineyards, and he a expression. If this caution be not well observed, there very large one,) “unto keepers,” each for a thousand is considerable risk of impairing the dignity of Holy pieces of silver, or shekels, and every one of whom made Writ. Bp. Lowth.
THE PROPHET S.
IT is universally acknowledged, that the remaining books of the Old Testament, namely, the sixteen prophetical
books, and the Lamentations of Jeremiah, were written by the persons whose names they bear. The prophets profess themselves to be the respective authors of these books: and this internal testimony is confirmed both by Jewish and Christian tradition. Bp. Tomline.
The prophets were those illustrious persons, who were raised up by God among the Israelites as the ministers of
His dispensations. They flourished in a continued succession for above a thousand years, (Luke i. 70,) reckoning from Moses to Malachi: all co-operating in the same designs, and conspiring in one spirit to deliver the same doctrines, and to prophesy concerning the same future blessings. Moses, the first and greatest of the Prophets, having established God's first covenant, those who followed him were employed in explaining its nature, in opening its spiritual meaning, in instructing the Jews, and in preparing them for the reception of that second dispensation which it prefigured. Their pretensions to be considered as God's appointed servants were demonstrated by the unimpeachable integrity of their characters; by the intrinsick excellence and tendency of their instructions; and by the disinterested zeal, and undaunted fortitude, with which they persevered in their great designs. These were still further confirmed by the miraculous proofs which they displayed of Divine support, and by the immediate completion of many less important predictions which they uttered. Such were the credentials of their exalted character, which the Prophets furnished to their contemporaries : and we, who, having lived to witness the appearance of the second dispensation, can look back to the connexion which subsisted between the two covenants, have received additional evidence of the inspiration of the Prophets in the attestations of our Saviour and His Apostles; and in the retrospect of a germinant and gradually maturing scheme of prophecy, connected in all its parts, and ratified in the accomplishment of its great object, the coming of the Messiah. We have still farther incontrovertible proofs of their Divine appointment in the numerous prophecies, which in these latter days are fulfilled, and still under our own eyes continue to receive
their completion. Dr. Gray. The prophetical writings present us with the worthiest and most exalted ideas of the Almighty, the justest and
purest notions of piety and virtue, the most awful denunciations against wickedness of every kind, publick and private, the most affectionate expostulations, the most inviting promises, and the warmest concern for the publick good. And, besides all this, they contain a series of predictions relating to our blessed Lord, in which all the remarkable circumstances of His birth, life, ministry, miracles, doctrines, sufferings, and death, are foretold in so minute and exact a manner, (more particularly in the prophecy of Isaiah,) that it might almost be thought they were describing all these things after they had happened, if it were not known, that these prophecies were confessedly written many hundred years before Christ came into the world; and were, during all that time, in the possession of the Jews, who were the mortal enemies of Christianity, and therefore would never set themselves to forge prophecies, which most evidently prove Him to be what He professed to be, and what they denied Him to be, the Messiah, and the Son of God. It is to this part of Scripture that our Lord particularly directs our attention, when He says, “ Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of Me,” John v. 39. No testimony can be more satisfactory and convincing than this, to any one that reads them with care and impartiality, and compares their predictions concerning our Saviour, with the history of His life given by those who constantly lived and conversed with Him. Bp. Porteus.
The language of the Prophets is remarkable for its magnificence. Each writer is distinguished for peculiar beauties; but their style in general may be characterized as strong, animated, and impressive. Its ornaments are derived, not from accumulation of epithet, or laboured harmony, but from the real grandeur of its images, and the majestick force of its expressions. It is varied with striking propriety, and enlivened with quick but easy transitions. Its sudden burst of eloquence, its earnest warmth, its affecting exhortations and appeals, afford very interesting proofs of that lively impression, and of that inspired conviction, under which the Prophets wrote, and which enabled them among a people, not distinguished for genius, to surpass in every variety of composition the most admired productions of Pagan antiquity. If the imagery employed by the sacred writers appears sometimes to partake of a coarser nature, it must be recollected, that the Eastern manners and languages required the most forcible representations; and that the masculine and indignant spirit of the Prophets led them to adopt the most energetick and descriptive expressions. No style is perhaps so highly figurative as that of the Prophets. Every object of nature and of art, which could furnish allusions, is explored with industry: every scene of creation, and every page of science, seems to have unfolded its rich varieties to the sacred writers, who in the spirit of Eastern poetry delight in every kind of metaphorical embellishment.
It remains to be observed, that the greatest part of the prophetick books, as well as those more especially styled
poetical, were written in some kind of measure or verse: this is evident, not only from the peculiar selection GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPHETS. of unusual expressions and phrases, but also from the artificial arrangement and regular distribution of many sentences, which run in parallel divisions, and correspond, as it were, in equal periods; but whether this resulted from the observance of certain definite numerical feet, or was regulated by the ear and the harmony of lines of similar cadence, is uncertain. The sententious modulation however, which in consequence obtained, was so strong, as to be transfused, and to predominate, in our translation.
The Prophets probably collected their own prophecies into their present form : indisputably the prophecies were
composed and published by those Prophets whose names they severally bear. As their genuine productions, they were received into the Jewish canon; and were read in the Jewish synagogues after the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the reading of the law was interdicted; and they continued so to be read to the days of our Saviour, from whose time they have formed a part of the service in the Christian churches. They are with great propriety received into our churches as illustrating the grand scheme of prophecy, and as replete with the most excellent instruction of every kind. The predictions which they contain were principally accomplished in the appearance of Christ. Some however, which referred to the dispersion and subsequent state of the Jews, as well as to the condition of other nations, still continue under our own eyes to be fulfilled, and will gradually receive their final and consummate ratification in the restoration of the Jews, in the universal establishment of Christ's kingdom, and in the second advent of our Lord, to “judge the world in righteousness.”
Dr. Gray. Concerning the order in which all the Prophets are supposed to have flourished, see the following Table, taken
from Dr. Gray's Key to the Old Testament.
The Prophets in their supposed order of time, arranged according to Blair's Tables, with but little variation.
KINGS OF ISRAEL.
to Bp. Lloyd; but Joash and Jonah, Between 856 and 784.
Jeroboam the second, ac
( cording to Blair. Amos, -810 and 785. Uzziah, chap. i. 1.
Jeroboam the second, chap. i. 1. 810 and 725. 3
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, the third year Jeroboam the second chan, i. 1. lof Hezekiah.
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Isaiah,
810 and 698.
? chap. i. 1. and perhaps Manasseh. Joel,
- 810 and 660, or probably later.)
Uzziah, or possibly Manasseh. Micah,
– 758 and 699. Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, chap. i. 1. Pekah and Hoshea.. Nahum,
- 720 and 698.
s Probably towards the close of Heze
kiah's reign. Zephaniah, - 640 and 602. In the reign of Josiah, chap. i. 1. Jeremiah,
628 and 586. In the thirteenth year of Josiah. Habakkuk, - 612 and 598. Probably in the reign of Jehoiakim. Daniel,
606 and 534. During all the captivity.
Between the taking of Jerusalem by Obadiah,
588 and 583. ? Nebuchadnezzar, and the destruction
l of the Edomites by him. Ezekiel, ! - 595 and 536. During part of the captivity. Haggai, About 520 to 518. After the return from Babylon. Zechariah. S From 520 to 518, or
l, longer. Malachi, Between 436 and 397..
THE BOOK OF THE
PRO PH ET IS A I A H.
ISAIAH was of the tribe of Judah, and it is supposed that he was descended from a branch of the royal family.
He was the earliest of the four great Prophets, and entered upon his prophetick office in the last year of Uzziah's reign, about 758 years before Christ. It is uncertain how long he continued to prophesy : some have thought that he died in the fifteenth or sixteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, and in that case he prophesied about forty-five years : but it appears more probable that he was put to death by command of Manasseh, in the first year of his reign; in which case he prophesied more than sixty-one years. It is said that he was sawn asunder with a wooden saw: and that mode of his death is supposed to be alluded to in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, chap. xi. 37. Bp. Tomline.
“the salvation of Jehovah.” He has always been considered as a Prophet of the highest eminence, and looked up to as the brightest luminary of the Jewish church. He has been emphatically styled, “the Evangelical Prophet,” so copiously and clearly does he describe the Messiah and characterize His kingdom; favoured, as it were, with an intimate view of the Gospel state, from the very birth of our Saviour to be “conceived of a virgin,” to that glorious and triumphant period, when every Gentile nation shall bring a clean offering to the Lord, and “all flesh shall come to worship before Him," chap. lxvi. 20, 23. The author of Ecclesiasticus, in his fine and discriminating encomium on the Prophets, says of Isaiah, that “he was great and faithful in his vision;" and that “in his time the sun went backward, and he lengthened the king's life. He saw by an excellent spirit what should come to pass at the last;" Ecclus. xlviii. 22, 25. It is certain that Isaiah, in addition to his other prophetick privileges, was invested on some particular occasions with the power of performing miracles, 2 Kings xx. 11; 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. It is remarkable, that his wife is styled a prophetess, chap. viii. 3. He himself appears to have been raised up, as a striking object of veneration among the Jews; and to have regulated his whole conduct in subserviency to his sacred appointment. His sons likewise were for types and figurative pledges of God's assurances, chap. viii. 18; and their names and actions were intended to awaken a religious attention in the persons, whom they were commissioned to address and to instruct. See
chap. vii. 3 ; viii. 1. Dr. Gray. Though Isaiah gives so copious and circumstantial an account of the promised Messiah, and His kingdom, that he has been emphatically called “the Evangelical Prophet,” his Book is not confined to prophecies relative to our Saviour: it contains many other predictions, and likewise several historical relations. It may be considered under six general divisions. The first division consists of the first five chapters, containing a general description of the state and condition of the Jews in the several periods of their history, the promulgation of the Gospel, and the coming of Christ to judgment. The second division consists of the seven next chapters, containing in the seventh the promise to Ahaz, which was predictive of Christ, whose nature, birth, and kingdom are distinctly described in the ninth chapter : the denunciations of punishment upon the Assyrians, in the tenth chapter, seem an interruption to this glorious subject, which is resumed in the eleventh, where the Prophet breaks out into a hymn of praise, celebrating the future triumphant state of the Church. The third division, which reaches from the thirteenth to the twenty-seventh chapter inclusive, begins with a very remarkable prophecy of the destruction of Babylon, which is considered as a type of Antichrist : it then describes the fate of the Jews, Assyrians, Moabites, Philistines, Arabians, Syrians, and Egyptians; and concludes in a manner similar to the last. The fourth division, which extends from the twenty-eighth to the thirtyfifth chapter inclusive, contains predictions relative to the then approaching invasion of Sennacherib: but it is interspersed with severe reproofs and threats against the Jews for disobedience and wilful blindness, and also with consolatory promises to those who should remain faithful in the service of God, alluding frequently to the times of the Gospel. The thirty-sixth and two following chapters, which constitute the fifth division, give an historical account of the invasion of Sennacherib, and of the prolongation of Hezekiah's life. The sixth division reaches from the thirty-ninth chapter to the end of the Book : here the Prophet generally addresses his countrymen as being actually in the captivity which he had previously foretold; he predicts the total destruction of the empire of Babylon, and the restoration of the Jews to their own land by their great deliverer Cyrus, whom he represents the Almighty as calling upon by name to execute His will, about 200 years before he was born. In this latter part of the Book are principally contained the numerous prophecies already noticed, concerning the birth, ministry, death, and religion of Christ, together with a variety of circumstances,
which were to precede and follow His incarnation. Bp. Tomline. In some of his prophecies concerning Christ and the Christian church, Isaiah is so particular, that his discourse
in certain parts looks more like a history of things past, than a prediction of that which was to come. St. Jerome, who had often read him, and considered him very carefully, says," he deserves the name of an Evan
Isaiah's complaint of Judah.
He lamenteth her judgments. gelist rather than of a Prophet :” and indeed he is more frequently quoted through the New Testament than any other of the Prophets. For this reason it is, that this Book, by ancient and immemorial custom, is appointed to be read in our churches at a particular season of the year, as being the best preparative for the advent of our Lord, the foundation of the Evangelists and Apostles, the portraiture of the nature, person, and oflices
of the Messiah, and of the great things which He hath done and suffered for us. Reading. The style of Isaiah has been universally admired as the most perfect model of the sublime : it is distinguished
for all the magnificence, and for all the sweetness, of the Hebrew language. The variety of his images, and the animated warmth of his expressions, characterize him as unequalled in point of eloquence: and if we were desirous of producing a specimen of the dignity and beauties of the Scripture language, we should immediately think of having recourse to Isaiah. St. Jerome speaks of him as conversant with every part of science : and indeed the marks of a cultivated and improved mind are stamped in every page of his Book ; but these are almost eclipsed by the splendour of his inspired knowledge. In the delivery of his prophecies and instructions, he utters his enraptured strains with an elevation and majesty, which unhallowed lips could never have attained. See chap. vi. 6, 7. From the grand exordium in the first chapter, to the concluding description of the Gospel; to “be brought forth” in wonders, and to terminate in the dispensation of eternity; from first to last there is one continued display of inspired wisdom, revealing its oracles and precepts for the instruction of mankind. Dr. Gray.
CHRIST about 760. 1 Isaiah complaineth of Judah for her rebelo children that are corrupters: they Labout 760.
lion. 5 He lamenteth her judgments. 10 have forsaken the LORD, they have
alienated, or, ness, he denounceth God's judgments. 25 backward.
separated. He promiseth grace, 28 and threateneth 5 l Why should ye be stricken any destruction to the wicked.
more? ye will + revolt more and more: + Heb. THE vision of Isaiah the son of the whole head is sick, and the whole recues.
1 Amoz, which he saw concerning heart faint.
in it; but wounds, and bruises, and a Deut. 32. 1. 2 a Hear, O heavens, and give ear, putrifying sores: they have not been
O earth : for the Lord hath spoken, closed, neither bound up, neither
cities are burned with fire: your land, 52. b Jer. 8. 7. 3 b The ox knoweth his owner, and strangers devour it in your presence,
the ass his master's crib : but Israel and it is desolate, tas overthrown by + Heb. as the
18 And the daughter of Zion is left
4 Ah sinful nation, a people tladen as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge
overthroto of strangers.
Chap. I. Ver. 1. The vision of Isaiah &c.] The vi- fully displayed in the opening of the fiftieth Psalm. sion, or revelation of the will of God made known to Bp. Lowth. See Deut. xxxii. 1, and the notes there. Isaiah by the Holy Spirit of prophecy, related chiefly! 5. Why should ye be stricken any more?] God comto the kingdom of Judah, and the spiritual circum- plains here that His judgments (as He had before done, stances of the Jewish church: but he does incidentally ver. 2, respecting His mercies) had no effect upon His also speak of the ten tribes, of the Moabites, Egyptians, people Israel, and that nothing that He could do would &c.; the kingdom of Judah being a good deal con- bring them to consideration and make them better. cerned in the good or ill that befell their neighbours ; Abp. Tillotson. and the vision does not only pertain to the Jewish 6. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there church, but extends to the Christian also, the New is no soundness) The whole frame of the Jewish church Jerusalem. W. Lowth, Wogan.
is corrupted. W. Lowth. The prophecy contained in this first chapter stands 7–9. Your country is desolate, &c.] The Prophet single and unconnected, making an entire piece of itself. speaks (as Prophets often do) of things future as preIt contains a severe remonstrance against the corrup- sent. See the note from Bp. Lowth on Deut. xxxii. tions prevailing among the Jews of that time; power- | 15. The passage may relate immediately to the times ful exhortations to repentance; grievous threatenings to of Ahaz and Hezekiah : but it must have a farther rethe impenitent; and gracious promises of better times, ference to the devastations made by the Chaldeans and when the nation shall have been reformed by the just | by the Romans. Bp. Newton. judgments of God. Bp. Lowth.
8.- as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge &c.] Lit2. Hear, O heavens, &c.] God is introduced as en- tle temporary huts, covered with boughs, straw, turf, tering upon a solemn pleading, before the whole world, or the like materials, for a shelter for the watchman against His disobedient people. The same scene is more who guarded the fruit against foxes, jackalls, &c. See