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masterpiece of prophetic literature. Under the title of "The Rhapsody of Zion Redeemed" this will be treated in a chapter by itself, and will be claimed as the climax of the Old Testament.
The other two collections of literary works made by the Men of the Return from Captivity can be left to the two chapters in which they are treated, and need little discussion at this point. In the collection of the lyrics of Israel the main thing is of course the Book of Psalms. This is a miscellaneous collection, without any observable plan of arrangement. Yet here we can see something analogous to the distinction in the prophetic books between what is occasional and historical and what is of general and universal import. Certain of the psalms-like the Sennacherib songs, and the anthems of David's inauguration of Jerusalem-bear on their surface indications of connection with particular phases of the history of Israel. These psalms, in the present work, have been transferred to appropriate places in the Historic Outline. For what remains, the question is not of chronological succession but of a grouping according to the subject-matter. And when we come to the collected Books of Wisdom, all connection with the history of Israel disappears. Wisdom has its reference to personal, not to national life. And in the chapter dealing with these Books of Wisdom we shall see reasons for placing the whole as something intermediate between the Old and the New Testaments.
In bringing this chapter to a close one final remark may be added. The chapter has had to do with a distinction, in the Old Testament, between what is occasional in the history of Israel and what is literature of general and universal import. But it must never be forgotten that the history of Israel is itself a thing of universal import. In the natural course of religious development we have first the religion that is national and then the religion that is personal. But the two are in a sense one. The nation is the individual "writ large." The Old Covenant between God and a Chosen Nation meets, in the Book of Jeremiah, a "New Covenant" between God and individual hearts. The Church of the New Testament is the heir of the Israel of the Old Testament. The value of the Bible as the foundation of modern religion would be considerably diminished if its readers failed to see in God's dealing with a nation a varied presentation of his dealings with the individual life.
COLLECTED BOOKS OF THE PROPHETS
In the traditional Bible the Books of the Prophets stand as on the preceding page, without any apparent principle of arrangement. In this work they are grouped as follows.
I. PROPHECIES WITH HISTORIC SETTING IN OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY
Northern Israel before its fall
Hosea a native
Amos a missionary from Judah
Micah a country prophet
Daniel (in Babylon)
Ezekiel (a colony near the river
Kingdom of Judah: in its flourishing period (culminating in the reign of Hezekiah) Kingdom of Judah: its decline and fall
The Captivity: before and after the fall of Jerusalem
Close of the Captivity, and the Haggai
(anonymous) Malachi (that is My Messenger)
II. PROPHECIES OF FOREIGN NATIONS OR OF IDEAL JUDGMENT
The Chaldean Empire at its
Nineveh: at its height of power Jonah
in its fall
Ideal Picture of Judgment
III. CLIMAX OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
The Rhapsody of Zion Redeemed [Chapters 40-66 of the
BOOK OF HOSEA
Hosea is one of two prophets whose ministry is to Northern Israel before its fall. In a style of rugged obscurity it presents a country gangrened with corruption.
Its two most striking prophecies turn upon two powerful images. In one of them the idea is the fallen wife, whom her husband seeks to reclaim. This has been often interpreted (though without sufficient grounds) to be a picture of the relation between the prophet and his erring wife. In the prophecy cited below the image is the yearning of a father for his prodigal son. By a most interesting literary device the form of dialogue is thrown around the alternating moods of Deity-righteous indignation and passionate tenderness; until at the close repentant Ephraim comes into the dialogue, and the last note is reconciliation.
The Yearning of God
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto the Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
Yet I taught Ephraim to go; I took them on my arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat before them.—
He shall not return into the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall fall upon his cities, and shall consume his bars, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they call them to him that is on high, none at all will lift himself up.
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my compassions are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not come in wrath. They shall walk after the LORD, who shall roar like a lion: for he shall roar, and the children shall come trembling from the west. They shall come trembling as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will make them to dwell in their houses, saith the LORD.
Ephraim hath provoked to anger most bitterly: therefore shall his blood be left upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord returh unto him. When Ephraim spake with trembling he exalted himself in Israel: but when he offended in Baal, he died. And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, even idols according to their own understanding, all of them the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the dew that passeth early away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the threshing-floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.
Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt; and thou knowest no god but me, and beside me there is no saviour. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted: therefore have they forgotten me.—
Therefore am I unto them as a lion: as a leopard will I watch by the way: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart: and there will I devour them like a lion; the wild beast shall tear them. It is thy destruction, O Israel, that thou art against me, against thy help. Where now is thy king, that he may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges, of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I have given thee a king in mine anger, and have taken him away in my wrath.
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, where are thy plagues? O grave, where is thy destruction?