Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

ples, that the nations shall repair unto him, and that his resting-place shall be glorious. Whether by this ensign we are to understand the manifestation of the Shechinah immediately before the destruction of Antichrist, to which distant nations will humbly repair, bringing along with them the dispersion of Israel; or the metaphorical unfurling of the banner of the cross, may perhaps admit of a doubt. The last idea however, namely that of a general diffusion of Christianity, is necessarily involved in the former. To this ensign both Jerus and Gentiles will ultimately seek : for the whole Israel of God, Ephraim as well as Judah, will be converted and restored; and the whole Gentile world, after the overthrow of the Antichristian faction, will embrace the profession of pure and vital religion*. In order as it were, that we may not mistake the restoration here predicted for the restoration from the literal Babylon, Isaiah carefully teaches us, that the Lord shall put forth his hand a second time to recover the remnant of his peoplet ; and that, not merely from Assyria and other eastern regions, but likewise from the isles of the west, or the maritime regions of Europe. He moreover teaches us that Ephraim and Judah shall both be restored ; that their former enmity shall be done away; and that henceforth they shall jointly form only one nation. And he adds certain circumstances peculiar to the final restoration of Israel. Edom, Moab, and Ammon, which had escaped out of the hand of Antichristý, are to become subject, both temporally and spiritually, I appre

*“ When the ten tribes made a separation from Judah, Ephraim was looked upon as the principal tribe of that separation, and is often put for Israel, as that was a distinct kingdom from Judah. Thus the word is taken here ; and the verse imports, that the quarrels and dissentions which used to be between those two rival kingdoms shall be quite at an end, and they shall both be governed by one king, the Messiah. We may further observe, that in most of the prophecies, when the general restoration of the Jews is foretold, Israel and Fudah are joined together, as equally sharers in the blessing." Lowth's Comment. on Isaiah xi. 13.

t"I take this part of the chapter,” says Mr. Lowth very justly, “ from the tenth verse onward, to foretell those glorious times of the Church which shall be ushered in by the restoration of the Jewish nation ; when they shall embrace the Gospel, and be restored to their own country from the several dispersions where they are scattered. This remarkable scene of Providence is plainly foretold by most of the prophets of the Old Testament, and by St. Paul in the New." Comment. on Isaiah xi. 11.

• Dan. xi. 41.

We are

hend, to the house of Jacob *: the tongue of the Egyptian sea, or the widely overflowing Nile, is to be dried upt: and the river of Assyria, or the great river Euphrates, is to be smitten into seven streams, so that the ancient people of the Lord may pass over it dry-shod. In the symbolical language of prophecy, rivers denote bodies politic: whence the drying up of rivers signifies the overthrow of those bodies politic which they typify. Accordingly, in the parallel passage of Zechariah, this exhaustion of the mystical Nile and Euphrates is so explained I. taught, that these two political rivers are to be dried

up, in order that there may be a highway for the remnant of Israel out of the land of Assyria : but, whether they will be dried up precisely at the same time, does not appear either from Isaiah or Zechariah. We may gather however from other prophecies which treat of the same subject, that the exhaustion of the Euphrates will precede the exhaustion of the Nile : though, how great an interval there will be between the two events, is no where definitely said. St. John informs us, that the Euphrates will be dried up under the sixth vial, that a way may be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun : and he places the expedition and destruction of Antichrist subsequent to it, under the seventh vial, yet without making any mention of Egypt or the Nile. Daniel, on the other

1

* It is possible however that these nations ought to be understood mysti. cally, as typifying the various members of the Antichristian confederacy. Such an interpretation of the passage is preferred by Mr. Lowth; and it accords no doubt with various prophecies that foretell the restoration of the Fews. These people,” says he, “ were all borderers upon Palestine, and took all occasions to shew their spite and ill will against the Jews. Upon wbich account, in the prophetical dialect, they are often used in a general sense for the enemies of God's truth and people. The meaning therefore of the place is, that God's people should have a complete victory over their enemies, whether they be the associates of Antichrist, or of whatsoever other denomi. nation." Comment. on Isaiah xi. 14.

† Both here, and in a succeeding prophecy (Isaiah xix. 5.), the Egyptian sea appears to mean the Nile, whether literal or symbolical, which, at the period of its overflowing, covers the country like a sea. (See Mr. Lowth in Loc.) This language is probably borrowed from the phraseology of the Egyptians themselves, who were wont, as we are informed by Diodorus Siculus, to style their river the Ocean. Οι γας Αιγυπτιοι νομιζεσιν Ωκεανον ειναι τον Tue' avlous Toluov Nedov. (Bibl. Hist. L. 1. p. 12.) It is observable how. ever, that Jeremiah in a similar manner calls the Euphrates the sea, when predicting the future state of Babylon in consequence of the manner in which it was taken by Cyrus. Compare Jerem. li. 42. with Bp. Newton's Dissert, X, vol. 1. p. 298, 309.

# Zechar. X. 11.

event.

hand, does not take any notice of the exhaustion of the. Euphrates ; but he gives a very minute account of the expedition of Antichrist, and represents his conquest of Egypt as being one of his very latest exploits. Hence it is plain, that, since the Euphrates is to be dried up previous to the expedition of

. Antichrist, and since Egypt is to falų into his hantts during the course of that expedition, the two events, which Isaiah and Zechariah connect together, are not contemporary; though, how long the one will precede the other, can only be determined by the

As for the great river Euphrates, it symbolizes, as we may conclude very unequivocally from the ApocaTypse, the Ottoman empire, of which Assyria was the cradle, and of Kvhich it still remains a principal province : and, by comparing the prophecy of St. John respecting its exhaustion with the parallel prophecies of Isaiah and Zechariah respecting the same circumstance, we may determine, with perhaps as much certainty as matters of this nature are capable of, that the kings from the east mean the dispersed of Israel. St. John informs us, that the great river Euphrates will be dried up previous to the expedition of Antichrist, in order to prepare a way for the kings from the east : Isaiah and Zechariah concur in declaring, that both the Egyptian sea, or the Nile, and the river by which name the Jews were wont simply and by way of eminence to speak of the Euphrates, will be dried up, in order that there may be a highway for the remnant of God's people from Egypt and from Assyria. Since then this exhaustion of the Euphrates, predicted alike by Isaiah, Zechariah, and St. John, is manifestly to take place in the last days, or during the tyrannical reign of Antichrist; and since it is equally to prepare a way for the kings from the east, and for the remnant of Israet from the eastern region of Assyria : we seem to be compelled, as it were, to adopt the conclusion, that the kings from the east are the remnant of Israel.

That the river spoken of by Isaiah and Zechariah, is in those passages, no less than in many others *, the Eu

* See 1 Kings iv. 21.–Psalm lxxii. 8.—Psalm 1xxx. 11. in which three passages, the dominions of Solomon are characterized, as extending from the river, that is the river Euphrates, to the sea and the uttermost parts of the

phrates and not the Nite, is abundantly evident from the context. Zechariah explains the smiting of the river, and the sea, by the bringing down the pride of Assyria, and by causing the sceptre of Egypt to depart away. And both he and Isaiah alike represent this exhaustion as being preparatory to the return of Israel out of Assyria and Egypt.

Now it is obvious, since the smiting of the sea and the river denotés literally the humbling of Egypt and Assyria, that the sea must mean the Nile, and that the river must mean the Euphrates. And the matter will be vet more evident, when we consider the consequences of the smiting. It was to prepare a way for Israel, not only out of Egypt, but likewise out of Assyria. But how could the smiting of the Nile, or, in other words, the overthrow of the Egyptian government, prepare a way for Israel to come out of Assyria? Hence it is plain, that the sea means one thing, and the river another : and hence the Chaldee Paraphrast very sensibly explains what is simply termed the river by the river Euphrates*. The purport therefore of the prophecy is this : that, by the overthrow of the Ottoman empire, and by the dissolution of the then existing government of Egypt (probably the Mamaluc government), a way will be prepared for the return of the lost ten tribes. By what power the Ottoman empire will be subverted, we are not positively told; but we learn from Daniel, that the government of Egypt will be overturned by Antichrist after he has overrun Palestine.

Whether the division of the mystic Euphrates into sefven streams denotes some septipartite division of the Turkish empire at the period of its overthrow, or whether earth. I think there are passages in Scripture, which afford us some warrant for believing, that these will likewise be the limits of Israel. after the final restoration. Compare Psalm lxxij. 8. with Zechar. ix. 9, 10.- Isaiah xi. 14. -xlix. 19, 20.-and Gen. xv. 18. The extensive dominions of Solomon seem to be typical of the same extensive dominions of Israel, when fully restored, and united under one king the Messiah, of whom Solomon was only a shadow.

*“ Elevabit plagam fortitudinis suæ super Euphratem.” Wolfgang Mus. culus adopts the same interpretation : “Super Huvium, id est, Euphratem." (Wolfgang. Musc. Comment. in Isaiam in loc.) Mr. Lowth thinks that the Nile is intended by the river. Yet whe allows, that the drying up of this river imports the same as the exhaustion of the Euphrates in the Apocalypse. If súch then be the case, I see not how it is possible for the rider to be any other than the Euphrates. Comment. on Isaiah, xi. 15, 16.

$

the expression is only to be generally understood as ex hibiting to us the manner in which a large river may be rendered insignificant and shallow by conducting its waters along six or more additional artificial channels*, it would be in vain at present to attempt to determine. That the overthrow of the Ottoman monarchy will in the hand of Providence be instrumental in bringing about the restoration of the ten tribes, cannot however, as it appears to me, be reasonably doubted.

It may be worth our while to consider, whether this prophecy, respecting the drying up of the Euphrates, may not receive a literal, no less than a symbolical, accomplishment. I doubt whether we have any right to interpret the prediction of St. John in such a manner, because he appears altogether to confine himself to the language of symbolst; but a greater latitude of exposition may perhaps be allowable in discussing a prophecy of Isaiah or Zechariah. Now we know, that, whenever the Israelites shall return into their own land from Assyria and other more eastern regions, they must necessarily cross the literal Euphrates : and it is very remarkable, that Isaiah expressly compares their restoration from Assyria with their ancient exodus from Egypt, and attaches this comparison to a prediction respecting the drying up of the great river. A question therefore naturally arises, How will the yet future restoration of the Israelites from Assyria resemble their ancient exodus from Egypt, unless they then miraculously pass through the Euphrates, as they heretofore miraculously passed through the Red sea and the river Jordan? I can discover nothing absurd, either in adopting the opinion that at the destruction of Antichrist there will be a preternatural manifestation of God's glory, or in thinking it not improbable that they may be led by the arm of the Lord through the very midst of the Euphrates.

Having now conducted the whole house of Israel, Ephraim as well as Judah, into their own land, the pro

See Herod. L. 1. C. 189. | 1 of course except a few passages in the Apocalypse, which appear to be avowedly descriptive, and which accordingly have been so understood by most commentators.

« EdellinenJatka »