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gant self-exaltation. "Behold, lifted up, not upright (or not straight, level), is his soul in him." This is indeed so, as the prophet had assumed, and this assertion judicially from the mouth of God is of itself enough to indicate the doom he must expect, a conclusion which is riveted by what immediately follows. The second clause, although in form the annunciation of a general truth, derives a specialty of meaning from its connection with what precedes. The "just" is the same that (i. 4) suffered from the wicked of his own people, and (i. 13) on the breaking in of the well-merited chastisement upon the people generally, was again made the prey of the unrighteous Chaldees; and the declaration that we shall live by faith is the divine sanction to the confiding trust expressed (i. 12), we shall not die." This finds its confirmation, too, in the succeeding verses, inasmuch as the fall of the ungodly contains. an implicit assurance of the life of the just, and the future establishment and glory of the kingdom of God is positively declared.-(Ver. 14.) The next verse (ver. 5) continues the description of the Chaldee punishment. His impious self-exaltation we have already had (ver. 4); here his drunkenness, his pride, his insatiable lust of conquest; and then the song put into the mouth of the nations from ver. 6, onward, with its five stanzas containing each a separate woe, takes these up in the reverse order, ver. 6-8, insatiable conquest; ver. 9-11, and ver. 12-14, pride displayed in his buildings; ver. 15-17, ver. 18-20, impiety and idolatry (comp. i. 11.) This regularity is not perhaps from preconceived plan, nor with any design of making thus a division of the subject logically exact; but in the natural flow of thought it connects itself with that last said, and returns by successive steps back to the point whence it
This song is addressed to the Chaldee, the king of Babylon, and in him his people; not to some individual king in particular, as Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-Merodach, or Belshazzar,—much less partly to one of these, partly to the king of Judah, Jehoiakim, or some one else, but to the king of Babylon absolutely. It differs from the passage, Isa. xvi. 4, &c., to which in many respects it bears a marked similarity, inasmuch as that is a song of triumph exulting over the divine judgment as already accomplished, while this denounces it as impending. That was to be spoken by Israel when freed from his hard bondage: this is put into the mouth of all the nations still under the yoke of his grasping domination; and that not as unbelievers, but evidently, according to the intention of the prophet (ver. 13,
Our author's earnest and able defence of this passage, in the sense in which it is several times cited by the apostle Paul, cannot be here transcribed, but deserves at least this passing notice.
14, 20), as believers. Unless we suppose an incongruity in the song with the persons uttering it, they are the true Israel, consisting of the faithful in Israel according to the flesh and among the Gentiles. And these are in fact the only ones who can properly be opposed to this universal monarchy; all else is amalgamated in it. It is the kingdom of this world oppressing the kingdom of God; and the destruction of the former and the establishment of the latter are certain. This grand idea lies at the basis of the song; and yet it is throughout prophetic not of general truths merely, but of the particular fate of the Chaldees, delineating as it does, even to minute details, and in a manner which is surprisingly confirmed by history, the sins by which they should work their downfall; while behind the fall of the Chaldees lies, in conformity with the usual structure of Old Testament prophecy, the glory of the Messianic times. For every great monarchy by which the people of God were subdued and oppressed was to the prophets the world's empire absolutely-that great colossal kingdom, whose overthrow should make way for the coming in of the latter-day glory. It awakens in their minds the distinction of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. Each is identified with its representative in the present: and no distinction is made, no detail is given, of the various forms in which this ungodly power, really identical in character, should successively appear. Daniel is the first to whom it was given to see distinguished the four great empires of the world in their chronological succession. In the prediction before us, the prophet's eye looking upon Babylon identifies it as a part with the whole of what is in spirit and in destiny most intimately connected with it; and in its fall he sees the fall of all that opposes the kingdom of God. This great ungodly power must be removed out of the way, in order to the introduction and complete establishment of the kingdom of God. Its fall was one of the many successive crises which should occur in the progress of that grand event-one great step toward its accomplishment. He hurries at once away from the destruction of Babylon to the latter-day glory, which looms up beyond it, as the brightness of the sun breaking in over the dark mountains that gird the horizon. As in perspective, he sees them lying together before him without having revealed to him the interval by which they are actually separated, or being enabled to take any thing like a bird's eye view of the events that intervene. The prophet has not omniscience; he can only declare the future so far as God has been pleased to make it known to him. And he has chosen to make it known, not in that way in which it might most completely gratify those who with a vain curiosity would pry into the future, but
in that in which it might best accomplish its design as a divine message of comfort, instruction, or warning to those to whom it was sent. We are not to expect in prophecy a daguerreotype likeness, so to speak, of the future, complete in every detail, with all the proportions and adjustments of events, precisely as history shall record them. It is rather an outline sketch. If now we place this and the fulfilment side by side, we shall find that with all the incompleteness there is no inaccuracy in the draught, but for every line drawn in the prediction, there is what precisely corresponds to it in the event; we shall find individual events here and there hinted at in the prediction or unambiguously expressed, which, whether they were more or less distinctly defined in the consciousness of the prophet, yet inasmuch as they precisely reappear in the history, are certainly within the scope of the spirit of the prophecy, included under its comprehensive expressions, or to be classed as particulars under its general ideas. The exposition of a prophecy ought to be distinguished from the illustration of the same prophecy by history. The former developes altogether, without respect to the fulfilment, what is properly contained in the words themselves, according to the grammatical and logical compass of their ideas, without specifying within the range thus marked out what are the precise details or the exact particulars in which the accomplishment is to be looked for. The latter makes use of history as a commentary upon the prophecy, throwing back upon it the fresh light which history sheds, thus illuminating what before was dark, specifying the general, making definite what was indefinite, resolving what was enigmatical, without in all this foisting in any foreign element into the prophey. History is the evolution of prophecy, prophecy the embryo of history. The contents of both are in substance the same; only in one we have the bud, in the other its flowers and fruit.
The first stanza (ver. 6-8) of this parabolical, poetical, and enigmatical passage, as the three epithets applied to verse 6 describe it, contains the woe against Chaldee for his insatiable ambition. "Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his; or (for the words are suggestive of this meaning also), "that which shall not be for his own good." "How long,"not as an exclamation, but as a question; and that not in the sense, how long shall he possess them? or, how long until he will be satisfied? but, how long shall he be allowed to do so undisturbed? The woe implies that a bound shall be put to the grasping spirit of the Chaldee. "How long?" The speaker asks, with horror at his conduct, when that bound shall be. And the negative question of ver. 7, equivalent to a strong affirmation, gives the reply made by the speaker to himself, "suddenly."
"And to him that ladeth himself with a mass of pledges!" The plunder of the nations and their rich booty, with which he loads himself, appear as pledges exacted by some unmerci ful usurer (Deut. xxiv. 10), and which he shall one day be forced to surrender to their rightful owners. He is heaping up a load to crush himself. Besides this strict etymological sense of the passage, the words are so framed as to suggest another; and that this was intentional our author feels himself warranted to assume from the song being styled enigmatical at the outset, which naturally leads to the suspicion of a double sense, one obvious, one concealed,-one its plain legiti mate meaning, the other easily offering itself as lying beneath it; a characteristic again exemplified, ver. 7, 16. The sound of the word whose proper meaning is pledges, would to a Hebrew ear spontaneously divide itself into two words, "cloud of mire" (Eng. ver. "thick clay.") These goods unrighteously obtained bring him no substantial profit. They resemble in their worthlessness the vile mire of the streets, which he figures as raised up in one vast cloud of foulness to discharge its burden upon him and bury him beneath it.
The executioners of the divine vengeance, which have long been quietly preparing, shall suddenly awake, as it were, from sleep to assail him. The characterising of the enemies of Babylon as those "that shall bite thee," as though they were maddened vipers, may awaken some surprise. The occasion was given by the figure of the previous verse. The usual name of usury is "that which bites," a derivative from this very word, i. e., bites off from the property of him who must pay it. The word here used has not grammatically the sense of lenders, nor creditors, nor debtors, all of which have been attributed to it, nor indeed any other, but simply that of biting. And yet to a Hebrew it naturally suggests the idea of its derivations, and awakens the reflection that as the Chaldees have, like hard-hearted creditors, by taking illegal increase (interest) and exacting unjust pledges, stripped the nations of their goods, a time will come for demanding back this unrighteous plunder from them with usury. Abarbenel remarks on this verse, the Medes and Persians are here meant ; for they, after having been formerly subjected to the Babylonish empire, and reigned over by Nebuchadnezzar and his descendants, rose up and awoke in the days of Belshazzar, like the waking of sleepers or the rising of the dead.
The spoiler of many nations shall by God's just retaliation be made in turn their spoil. The blood that he has shed and the violence he has done to land and city-not Palestine and Jerusalem alone, which are nowhere specially mentioned, nor is any thing peculiarly Israelitish mentioned in the whole
prophecy, but in all the earth-shall thus be visited upon himself.
The second and third stanzas (ver. 9-11, 12-14), denounce woe upon the pride that displayed itself in the splendid buildings and magnificent structures, those showy fruits of extortion and bloodshed, for which Babylon became famous. If living witnesses were wanting to his guilt, the very wood and stones of his superb edifices became his accusers, either as having been plundered themselves, or as being compelled to serve a plunderer and to behold his deeds of rapine and injustice. Verses 12-14 is not the language of the stone and the beam, but a new woe co-ordinate with the preceding, only the palace erecting (ver. 9) is here exchanged for towns and cities, (the beautifying of Babylon may be and doubtless is principally intended, but the expressions themselves are not limited to that); and instead of the Chaldee as before being the builder himself, captive nations are represented as toiling in his service. They are labouring not "in the fire" (Eng. ver.), but "for the fire," i.e. rearing that which the fire shall consume, "and for very vanity," i.e. erecting what shall come to nought. And that all this must perish is assumed by the truth long ago revealed (Numb. xiv. 21), that the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth: if so, the glory of the Chaldees must first vanish; this opposing power, which is regarded by the prophet as having absorbed every other, and is viewed in the full stature of that kingdom of evil of which during its period it was the chief earthly representative, must be put down.
The fourth stanza (ver. 15-17) connects itself with the charge of drunkenness in the first clause of ver. 5, which is not figurative but literal, and both the crime and its punishment were signally united in the fact, attested by profane as well as by sacred history, of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus while the whole city was in a drunken debauch. Here first the idea receives its figurative turn; and we have painted the double picture of the Chaldee handing the wine to the nations, that he may feast his eyes on their shame as they lie in the weakness of their intoxication—a lively image of the disgrace and weakness of conquered states-and then the Chaldee compelled to drink himself as his turn comes round of the cup, which the Lord's avenging right hand shall extend to him.-(Comp. Jer. XXV. 15 and elsewhere.) The literal sense, which some assume, of their bringing captive princes forth from the dungeons to their banquets, and making them drunken and the objects of derisive treatment, besides being in itself greatly inferior to the former, does not agree so well with what follows, where the same punishment is announced under another figure, and then the same sin charged upon them in literal terms. The Lebanon