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The inhabitant of Zaanan (NY) came not forth (RY*, yatzea) in the mourning of Beth-ezel.
ch. i. 10, 11, 13..15.*
The prophecy of NAHUм forms a regular and perfect poem. The exordium is grand and truly majestic; the preparations for the destruction of Nineveh, and the description of its downfal, are painted in the most vivid colours, and are admirably clear. The threatenings against which city, says Dr. Adam Clarke, are continued (in ch. iii.) in a strain of invective, astonishing for its richness, variety, and energy. One may hear and see the whip crack, the horses prancing, the wheels rumbling, the chariots bounding after the galloping steeds, the reflection from the drawn and highly polished swords, and the hurled spears, like flashes of lightning dazzling the eyes, the slain lying in heaps, and horses and chariots stumbling over them! +
HABAKKUK, as a poet, holds a high rank among the Hebrew prophets. The beautiful connection between the parts of his prophecy, its diction, imagery, spirit, and sublimity, are particularly striking, and cannot be too much admired. The prayer of Habakkuk, in particular, is allowed by the best judges to be a masterpiece of its kind; and it is adduced by Bp. Lowth as one of the most perfect specimens of the Hebrew ode. The prophet illustrates the subject of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery throughout with equal magnificence, selecting from such an assemblage of miraculous incidents the most noble and important, displaying them in the most splendid colours, and embellishing them with the sublimest imagery, figures, and diction; the dignity of which is so heightened and recommended by the superior elegance of the conclusion, that were it not for a few shades, which the hand of time has apparently cast over it in two or three passages, no composition of the kind would, I believe, appear more elegant, or more perfect than this poem.'
The style of the prophet HAGGAI is represented by the learned Bp. Lowth as wholly prosaic; but Abp. Newcome has given a translation of his prophecy, under an idea that it admits of a metrical division. But, however inferior he may be in point of style, and in the splendour of poetic diction, his Book forms a most important link in the chain of prophecy. He clearly determines not only the advent of Messiah, but the time in which this glorious event should take place,—during the existence of the second temple. §
The Book of MALACHI, says Bp. Lowth, is written in a kind of middle style, which seems to indicate that the Hebrew poetry, from the time of the Babylonish captivity, was in a declining state, and having passed its prime and vigour, was then fast verging towards the debility of age. The
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Micah.
+ Idem to Nahum, and Note on ch. 3. 1.
Idem to Habakkuk.
Idem to Haggai, where see the prophecy, ch. 2. 6, 7,9, defended, and proved to have been accurately fulfilled.
writings of this prophet, however, are by no means devoid of force and elegance; and he reproves the wickedness of his countrymen with vehemence, and exhorts them to repentance and reformation with the utmost earnestness. It is no mean recommendation of Malachi, as well as a sanction of his prophetic mission, that his Book, though short is often referred to in the inspired writings of the New Testament; and that his claim to the character of a prophet is recognised by the Evangelists, and is admitted by our Lord himself. (Matt. xi. 10. xvii. 10..12. Mar. i. 2. ix. 11, 12. Luke i. 16, 17. vii. 27. Rom. ix. 13.) He terminated the illustrious succession of the prophets, and sealed up the volume of prophecy, by proclaiming the sudden appearance of the Lord, whom they sought, in His temple, preceded by that messenger, who, like an harbinger, should prepare His way before Him; the fulfilment of which prediction, by the preaching of John the Baptist, and the advent of Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah, and the Lord of life and glory, during the existence of the second temple, fully attests the divinity of his mission, and the Divine inspiration of his prophecy.*
MATTHEW being one of the twelve apostles, and from the time of his call, a constant attendant on our Saviour, was perfectly well qualified to write the history of his life. He relates what he saw and heard with the most natural and unaffected simplicity, and in a plain and perspicuous style. That for which he is eminently distinguished, says Dr. Campbell, ' is the distinctness and particularity with which he has related many of our Lord's discourses and moral instructions. Of these his sermon on the mount, his charge to the apostles, his illustrations of the nature of his kingdom, and his prophecy on mount Olivet, are examples. He has also wonderfully united simplicity and energy in relating the replies of his Master to the cavils of his adversaries. Being early called to the apostleship, he was an eye and ear witness of most of the things which he relates. And, though I do not think it was the scope of any of these historians to adjust their narratives by the precise order of time wherein the events happened, there are some circumstances which incline me to think, that Matthew has approached at least as near that order as any of them.' The consideration, that the gospel of St. Matthew is a history of what he heard and saw, merely allowing him to be a man of integrity, would of itself fully prove that he would make no mistakes in his narrative; and when we add to this, the influence and superintendence of the Holy Spirit, under which he constantly acted, and which our Lord promised to his disciples, (John xiv. 26.) it must be allowed to possess the utmost degree of credibility and authority with which any writing could be invested. It is, as Mr. Wakefield well observes, a piece of history which, it must be acknowledged, is the most singular in its composition, the most wonderful in its contents, and the most important in its object, that was ever exhibited to the notice of mankind. For simplicity of narrative, and an artless relation of facts,
without any applause or censure, or digressive remarks, on the part of the historian, upon the characters introduced in it; without any intermixture of his own opinion, upon any subject whatsoever; and for a multiplicity of internal marks of credibility, this Gospel certainly has no parallel among human productions.' 'There is not,' as Dr. A. Clarke justly remarks, < one truth or doctrine, in the whole oracles of God, which is not taught in this Evangelist. The outlines of the whole spiritual system are here correctly laid down: even Paul himself has added nothing; he has amplified and illustrated the truths contained in this Gospel; but, even under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, neither he, nor any of the other Apostles, have brought to light one truth, the prototype of which has not been found in the words and acts of our blessed Lord as related by Matthew.'*
ST. JOHN is generally considered, with respect to language, as the least correct writer in the New Testament. His style indicates a great want of those advantages which result from a learned education; but this defect is amply compensated by the unexampled simplicity with which he expresses the sublimest truths. Though simplicity of manner, says Dr. Campbell, is common to all our Lord's historians, there are evidently differences in the simplicity of one compared with that of another. One thing very remarkable in John's style, is an attempt to impress important truths more strongly on the minds of his readers, by employing in the expression of them, both an affirmative proposition and a negative. It is manifestly not without design that he commonly passes over those passages of our Lord's history and teaching, which had been treated at large by the other Evangelists, or, if he touches them at all, he touches them but slightly, whilst he records many miracles which had been overlooked by the rest, and expatiates on the sublime doctrines of the pre-existence, the divinity, and the incarnation of the Word, the great ends of his mission, and the blessings of his purchase.t
ST. PAUL, as Dr. Taylor justly observes, 'was a great genius and a fine writer; and he seems to have exercised all his talents, as well as the most perfect Christian temper, in drawing up this epistle (to the Romans.) The plan of it is very extensive; and it is surprising to see what a spacious field of knowledge he has comprised; and how many various designs, arguments, explications, instructions, and exhortations, he has executed in so small a compass.' In pursuance of this grand object, it is remarkable,' says Dr. Doddridge, with how much address he improves all the influence, which his zeal and fidelity in their service must naturally give him, to inculcate upon them the precepts of the gospel, and persuade them to act agreeably to their sacred character. This was the grand point he always kept in view, and to which every thing else was made subservient. Nothing appears, in any part of his writings, like a design to establish his own reputation, or to make use of his ascendancy over his
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Matthew.
+ Idem to John.
Christian friends to answer any secular purposes of his own. On the contrary, in this and in his other epistles, he discovers a most generous, disinterested regard for their welfare, expressly disclaiming any authority over their consciences, and appealing to them, that he had chosen to maintain himself by the labour of his own hands, rather than prove burdensome to the churches, or to give the least colour or suspicion, that, under zeal for the gospel, and concern for their improvement, he was carrying on any private sinister view. The discovery of so excellent a temper must be allowed to carry with it a strong presumptive argument in favour of the doctrines he taught. . . . And, indeed, whoever reads St. Paul's epistles with attention, and enters into the spirit with which they were written, will discern such intrinsic characters of their genuineness, and the divine authority of the doctrines they contain, as will, perhaps, produce in him a stronger conviction, than all the external evidence with which they are attended.'*
"ST. PETER'S style," as Dr. Blackwall justly observes, "expresses the noble vehemence and fervour of his spirit, the full knowledge he had of Christianity, and the strong assurance he had of the truth and certainty of his doctrine; and he writes with the authority of the first man in the college of the Apostles. He writes with that quickness and rapidity of style, with that noble neglect of some of the formal consequences and niceties of grammar, still preserving its true reason, and natural analogy, (which are always marks of a sublime genius,) that you can scarcely perceive the pauses of his discourse, and distinction of his periods. The great Joseph Scaliger calls St. Peter's first Epistle majestic; and I hope he was more judicious than to exclude the second, though he did not name it. A noble majesty and becoming freedom is what distinguishes St. Peter; a devout and judicious person cannot read him without solemn attention and awful concern. The conflagration of this world, and future judgment of angels and men, in the third chapter of the second Epistle, is described in such strong and terrible terms, such awful circumstances, that in the description we see the planetary heavens and this our earth wrapped up with devouring flames; hear the groans of an expiring world, and the crashes of nature tumbling into universal ruin. And what a solemn and moving Epiphonema, or practical inference, is that! Since therefore all these things must be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in holy conversation and godliness,'-in all parts of holy and Christian life, in all instances of justice and charity? The meanest soul, and lowest imagination,' says an ingenious man, 'cannot think of that time, and the awful descriptions we meet with of it in this place, and several others of Holy Writ, without the greatest emotion and deepest impressions.'"+
(2.) By the use of certain expressions and foreign words in the Old
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to the Epistles to the Romans and Thessalonians.
Testament. Thus not only the great simplicity of the style of the Pentateuch, but the use of antiquated expressions, prove its high antiquity; while the occurrence of pure Egyptian words, such as 18, achoo, a bullrush, reed, rendered Aye by the LXX. Gen xli. 2, in Coptic, with the article, piachi, (see Woidii Lex. Copt. p. 10. 53.); and 778, avrech, Gen. xli. 43. rendered Bow the knee,' from the Coptic, ape, the head, and rek, to bow, (see Ign. Rossii, Etym: Ægypt. Rom. 1808.) proves that it was written by a man who, like Moses, was born and educated in Egypt; while the occurrence of Chaldee and Persian words (to say nothing of the Proper Names) in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, clearly fixes them to the epoch subsequent to the Babylonish captivity.*
(3.) By the mixture of Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Latin words and idioms with the Greek of the New Testament. Such as
Maμμwvas, mammon in Chaldee, and in Syriac, La, which denotes money, riches, or wealth; and is beautifully personified Mat. vi. 24.†
Zīavia, rendered tares, in Syriac, ), zizono, Arabic,,j, zuwan, and Spanish, zizanion, which doubtless denotes darnel, the lolium temulentum of naturalists, a noxious weed which bears a strong resemblance to wheat. It is well known,' says Mr. Forskal, to the people of Aleppo. It grows among corn. If the seeds remain mixed with the meal, they occasion dizziness in those who eat of the bread. The reapers do not separate the plant; but, after the threshing, they reject the seeds by means of a van or sieve.' Other travellers say, that, in some parts of Syria, it is drawn up by the hand in harvest.
A legion, λeyewv, from the Latin legio, from lego, to collect, or choose was a particular division, or battalion, of the Roman army, which at different times contained different numbers. In the time of our Saviour, it probably consisted of 6200 foot, and 300 horse, (see Livy, l. xxix. c. 24, Veget. 1. ii. c. 2); twelve of which would amount to 78,000 men.§
ΣπεKOVλaTwp, rendered executioner, in Latin speculator, from speculor, to look about, spy, properly denotes a sentinel; and as these sentinels kept guard at the palaces of kings, and the residences of Roman governors, so they were employed in other offices besides guarding, and usually performed that of executioners.-(See Josephus, Ant. 1. xvii. c. 7. Bel. I. i. c. 33. § 7.)||
Пpairwρlov, in Latin, prætorium, which was properly the tent or house of the prætor, a military, and sometimes a civil officer. This was a magnificent edifice in the upper part of the city, which had been formerly Herod's palace, and from which there was an approach to the citadel of Antonia, which adjoined the temple. Josephus, Ant. 1. xv. c. 9. § 3. Bel. l. i. c. 21. § 1; l. v. c. 4. § 3.¶
Comprehensive Bible, General Introduction, p. 55. + Idem, note in loco. i Idem, note on Mat. xiii. 27. Idem, on Matt. 25. 53. Idem, on Mark 6. 27. Idem, on Mark 15. 16.